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Eenie MENE...

Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand.  Belshazzar, whiles he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink therein.  Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God which was at Jerusalem; and the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, drank in them.  They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone.  In the same hour came forth fingers of a man's hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king's palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote.  Then the king's countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.  The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. And the king spake, and said to the wise men of Babylon, Whosoever shall read this writing, and shew me the interpretation thereof, shall be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about his neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.  Then came in all the king's wise men: but they could not read the writing, nor make known to the king the interpretation thereof.  Then was king Belshazzar greatly troubled, and his countenance was changed in him, and his lords were astonished.  Now the queen, by reason of the words of the king and his lords, came into the banquet house: and the queen spake and said, O king, live for ever: let not thy thoughts trouble thee, nor let thy countenance be changed: There is a man in thy kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of thy father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him; whom the king Nebuchadnezzar thy father, the king, I say, thy father, made master of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers;  forasmuch as an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, interpreting of dreams, and shewing of hard sentences, and dissolving of doubts, were found in the same Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar: now let Daniel be called, and he will shew the interpretation.  Then was Daniel brought in before the king.  And the king spake and said unto Daniel, Art thou that Daniel, which art of the children of the captivity of Judah, whom the king my father brought out of Jewry?  I have even heard of thee, that the spirit of the gods is in thee, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom is found in thee. And now the wise men, the astrologers, have been brought in before me, that they should read this writing, and make known unto me the interpretation thereof: but they could not shew the interpretation of the thing: And I have heard of thee, that thou canst make interpretations, and dissolve doubts: now if thou canst read the writing, and make known to me the interpretation thereof, thou shalt be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about thy neck, and shalt be the third ruler in the kingdom. Then Daniel answered and said before the king, Let thy gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation.  O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour: And for the majesty that he gave him, all people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down.  But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him: And he was driven from the sons of men; and his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild asses: they fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven; till he knew that the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over it whomsoever he will.  And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this; but hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified: Then was the part of the hand sent from him; and this writing was written.  And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.  This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it.  TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.  Then commanded Belshazzar, and they clothed Daniel with scarlet, and put a chain of gold about his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.  In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain.  And Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old.  Daniel 5

The scripture above relates the events of one night, long ago.  Contrary to what many may think, things in this world can change very quickly.  The account above describes the destruction of a world empire in one night.  Belshazzar, the king, while at a great drunken feast, took vessels that Nebuchadnezzar had previously looted from the Temple in Jerusalem, and used them to drink even more wine.  During the feast the people started to praise gods of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood and stone.  As the debauchery of the evening progressed a hand emerged and wrote on the wall the words: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.  Only the aged Daniel could explain what the writing meant.  The kingdom of Babylon had come to an end.  It would end that night.  Belshazzar, the Babylonian king, took his place with Sennacherib the Assyrian as one of the two who publicly defied God and met retribution.  That night Belshazzzar was slain and the Medo-Persian Empire took over.

Historically, the book of Daniel has been attacked.  Many claimed that the entire book had no historical foundation at all.  Until a little over a century ago, the name of Belshazzar was unknown outside thew Biblical account. This led many to think that the whole story of Belshazzar and the writing on the wall was written as encouragement to the Jews, and never really happened.  Nothing more than a fable.  None of the old classical historians mention him; the only ancient writers who do are Josephus and Jerome, both using the Greek form of his name, Baithasar, evidently taking their information from the Bible. Nineteenth century critics of the Book of Daniel proclaimed the account of Belshazzar as complete fiction.

In 1854 a British consul was exploring ancient ruins in southern Iraq.  He dug into a large tower built there and found several clay cylinders inscribed with Babylonian writing .  Cylinders of clay covered with cuneiform writing were often buried under the walls of new buildings. Cylinders were also used to record military successes.

The Assyriologist, Sir Henry Rawlinson, one of those that had deciphered the Babylonian cuneiform script, set out to translate the cylinders, and found they were authentic records of the fall of Babylon, made at the time by order of Cyrus the Persian, who captured the city (see figure above). The inscriptions were produced during the reign of Nabonidus, the king of Babylon who reigned from 555-539 BC.  The cuneiform cylinders commemorated the repairs that Nabonidus had made to the tower.  The artifacts included a prayer for the long life of King Nabonidus and his oldest son.Belshazzar.  These records contained the name of Belshazzar and made it clear that at the time of the fall of the city he was ruling as regent in the place of his father, Nabonidus, who was absent and elsewhere at that time. So the account in the Book of Daniel was verified.  Belshazzar was not imaginary.  He was real.  How about that!  GOD's Word verified!!

Belshazzar was the eldest son of Nabonidus the last true king of Babylon. Nabonidus reigned for seventeen years but during the final ten years was mainly absent from Babylon with his army, building a new city and fortress at Tema, four hundred miles away in the heart of Arabia. He appointed his son, the Crown Prince, to reign as regent. This is why Daniel refers to Belshazzar as king. Daniel never mentions Nabonidus and there is probably a good reason for this.  Nabonidus was not of the royal bloodline.  He was the son of a Babylonian nobleman and had married Nitocris the daughter of Nebuchadnezzar. By devious means he had eliminated other contenders for the throne and some seven years after the great king's death had secured it for himself.  Daniel, loyal to his old master and maybe even friend, Nebuchadnezzar, possibly refused to recognize this upstart's right to the throne, but did recognize that of Belshazzar through his mother Nitocris.

Belshazzar promised Daniel that if he could interpret the meaning of the writing on the wall he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.  Why third?   Third was the best he could offer.  His father the king was first, he himself second, and so Daniel could only be third.  Babylonian texts support this position.  Interestingly, the queen mentioned, who came in to advise Belshazzar and was able to tell him about Daniel and his services in the days of Nebuchadnezzar was most probably his mother, Nitocris the "queen-mother" du jour.  She was well past the age of partying and came to the drunken feast only after the writing had appeared.  Some forty years earlier she would have known Daniel well when he was her father's Chief Minister. Many artifacts have been found to be commercial documents signed by Belshazzar himself. He would appear to have been a shrewd businessman, a good administrator of government, a capable military leader and a great devotee of the Babylonian gods. He is also indicated as being very much a "man about town" and given to high living.

This "party animal" character is quite aptly shown in the account Daniel.  Belshazzar hosted a party for a thousand of his lords, his princes, his wives and his concubines.  A pretty big bash!  However, it was hardly the time for revelry. Cyrus the Persian had been ravaging the adjacent lands for about six or seven years, adding to his territories, and was at this moment at Opis, very close to Babylon, advancing swiftly. The troops of Gubaru, the Persian General, were even now encircling the city while the feast proceeded. Nabonidus was in Arabia somewhere with his army, leaving Belshazzar to defend the city. Heedless of the threat and oblivious to the danger of his position, Belshazzar caroused with his companions and his womenfolk.  Growing more reckless as the wine flowed, he gave orders that the sacred vessels which Nebuchadnezzar had taken from Solomon's Temple, half a century previously, and subsequently placed in the idol Temple of Marduk in Babylon to be brought to the palace and used by the guests. This, even for Babylonians, was sacrilege and in his right mind even Belshazzar would have hesitated to do such a thing. The cups and goblets brought, they were filled and used to do honor to the gods of Babylon. In that moment there appeared the form of a man's hand, writing on the wall and the revelry immediately ceased. MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.  To those assembled, the words conveyed no meaning, but the nature of the incidence filled them with foreboding and terror. Belshazzar was so scared his knees were knocking together and evidently lost control of some bodily functions (the joints of his loins were loosed).  Daniel was able to interpret the mystery, and told those at the party that the political power of Babylon would pass to Persia.

This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it.  TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians .  Daniel 5:26-28

The Persians were already within the city. The Euphrates River had been partially dammed.  This lowered the level of the moat surrounding the city of Babylon.  The invading army walked through the moat and under the walls of the city.   According to some of the classical historians, not only Belshazzar was partying that night. The attacking Persians found the entire city given over to revelry.  Seemingly everyone in Babylon thought the empire was so strong it would go on forever. In reality the empire fell so quickly there was not even time for a fight, or even a thought.  The mighty Babylonian empire a few minutes.  Belshazzar was dead.  Babylon was gone.  Amazing! 

What does that mean to us, today here in the United States, in the twenty first century?  What does Belshazzars drunken defiance of GOD have to do with us?  That was then, this is now.  This is a Christian nation, right?  We are not in defiance of GOD, are we? 

Belshazzar's fateful night came forty to fifty years after the "glory days" of the Babylonian empire.  Are we, now in the United States in the "glory days" or were they forty or fifty years ago.  Have we changed as a people since the sixties?   Has anything in our culture changed?  Do we as a people still respect GOD.His Law.His Name?  Think about it!

Are there any recent examples of our leadership, at a feast, doing what they should not?  Have you read about the "comedy" routine just recently staged, at the annual White House Correspondent's Dinner?  Can you imagine such a thing happening fifty years ago in the United States?  Amazingly, most, including some prominent clergy saw nothing amiss at that event.  Something stinks and nobody notices.

Have we, as a country, forgot GOD?  Is sin now a civil right?  Look at the culture that surrounds us.  Is it possible that GOD will weigh us in the balances and when He does our days will also be numbered?  Have we been weighed in the balances already. 

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 
2 Chronicles 7:14

If we, who are called by the Name of our LORD (Christians), do humble ourselves, turn from our wickedness, pray and seek the face of GOD, our land will be healed and our sins forgiven.  We are the only ones that can do this.  The culture around us is proud, "patriotic" and many are just "having a big party" thinking that the benefits we now enjoy will go on forever.  They are definitely not interested in humbling themselves and prayer and seeking the LORD.  We must do this.  Our land is in great need of forgiveness and healing.

Babylon was invincible.  It will go on.and on.  Babylon fell, in an instant, and is no more. 

The United States is invincible.  It will go on.and on.and...

Be blessed and meditate or meditate and be blessed!!!!. The choice is yours!! 
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