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The Party’s Over.


The Party’s Over

Text: Daniel 5:5-9

Let’s continue the narrative from Daniel 5:-

an1. The Epitaph is Written. V5-6 

Have you ever noticed how quickly, how suddenly and without warning, a person’s circumstances, – their entire life, can change? Previously, doctors would often withhold from you the fact that your illness was terminal.They don’t do that nowadays. Medical professionals will tell you, sometimes quite bluntly, that you have limited time left, that you should set your house in order and make the necessary arrangements for your funeral. The sudden shock, the ultimate reality hits you like a hammer blow.

  • The sudden shock. In the same hour came forth  At the height of the party, – when they had binged and blasphemed and worshipped their false gods, – something happened to bring the music to an end, a hammer blow of reality.  And it was so unexpected. How many have found themselves in that position – when the sudden realisation that life is short, and death is certain bursts into a world of self-indulgent denial. In the case of Belshazzar and his gay party-going crowd of social influencers and business executives, the highest ranking socialites in the land, it comes in the form of the fingers of a hand, writing something upon a wall. A disembodied set of human fingers.  
  • The sinister resemblance. The party has been ruined. Everyone on the dance floor is still.  Not just because a set of fingers writing on a wall is scary enough in itself, but because of what it looks like, Look at the text,  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. See
    • There’s no pen! So how does this mysterious hand write? I’m no Aramaic scholar, but one English translation says that they were ‘scratched’ into the wall. “Suddenly, a person’s hand appeared and began writing on the wall. The fingers scratched words into the plaster on the wall…” It’s an inscription etched into the wall. 
    • The wall is plaster. Historically we learn that these royal palaces in the ancient near east would have had a platform, a raised area at the front, where the important people would have sat. There would have been a long table for the king’s guests, and traditionally, this area of the room, well lighted so that all the guests could have a good view of the dignitaries, would have had a clean white wall behind it, meticulously polished so that the special guests would be seen in their best light. A perfect white wall, with an inscription, etched into it. What would it remind them of? I suggest a tombstone. cf Matthew 23:27  Tombstones then were white. 
    • It’s well illuminated.  The scriptures make a point of telling us that this writing was on the wall beside, or behind a candlestick. Everyone would see it. See also:-
  • The sheer terror. VI wonder what the king’s face was like as he partied away with his friends? But the Bible notes that his countenance changed. God wipes the smile of his face, and his gay abandon is replaced with sheer terror. You can see its effects on him. We read that ‘the joints of his loins were loosed.’  He lost control of his loins, perhaps in more ways than one, and his legs gave way under him. One English translation reads, “While the king watched the back of the hand as it was writing, his facial expression changed. Utterly frightened, he lost control of his own bowels and his knees knocked together.”

In the New Testament, Jesus tells us a story about a wealthy farmer. It is in Luke’s Gospel, and it is a short parable, – please read it in Luke 12:6.  

We are witnessing the last hours of man who has had immense privilege, both in a material sense, but also in a spiritual sense, He has witnessed some amazing events, – we might even say that he has witnessed the miraculous power of God at work, – and that at first hand. But he is defiantly and consciously turning his back on God, and doing so with a vengeance. He is shouting abuse in the face of God. But it must stop, and in this moment of complete dread, he is suddenly confronted with the most basic fact of life. He is going to die. A tombstone, a grave appears before him – and it is his. His grave, his death, his eternity.

2. There’s No Help in Man. V7  

There’s one more thing we must learn…  The fear of the king is compounded by the fact that the words on the wall are indecipherable. He doesn’t know what they mean!  So the king calls together the King’s Men – and makes them a very generous offer, a bounty of great wealth and place of power in the land, – third in position, after Nabonidus and himself.  Surely one of them can help? But remember what we learned from previous chapters of Daniel. They couldn’t help Nebuchadnezzar, and they can’t help Belshazzar. Psalm 60:11  Being suddenly confronted with your own mortality, with the certainty of death and eternity, there’s no-one on this earth who can help.  There’s only one person who can save you and comfort you on that day, and that is Jesus. The Heidelberg C atechism in its first question asks, What is your only comfort in life and death? That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head;  indeed, all things must work together for my salvation.  Therefore, by his Holy Spirit he also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for him. No wonder Belshazzar was so greatly troubled, he didn’t have that comfort and assurance that Christian believers have in the Saviour.

I wonder has God been dealing with you, in the way that he dealt with Belshazzar? Patiently and with great forbearance, revealing himself to you, drawing you? Have you been rejecting him, spurning his love and mercy? I urge you to trust him now, before it is too late, before the grave looms before you and you are swept out of this world, to face the God whom you have offended by your sin. It is not too late to come, and cast yourself upon his love and mercy. 

Today the Father calls us; 
the Holy Spirit moves; 
the Son has given his lifeblood 
for every soul he loves. 
No question will be asked us 
why we so late have come, 
or why we always wandered: t
his is our Father’s home! 

O all-embracing mercy! 
O ever-open door! 
What should we do without you, 
how can we ask for more? 
When all things seem against us, 
to drive us to despair, 
we know one gate is open, 
and you will hear our prayer.
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