Per Fidem Intrepidus means "Fearless Through Faith". My courage isn't my own, it comes from the Holy Spirit, it's my faith in God and my personal savior Christ Jesus that calms my fears and allows me to move forward in this fallen world. Personally I'm afraid of a lot of stuff, but having the faith that Jesus adopted me as his little, sin filled, brother keeps me going.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

OT Tuesday: Daniel Reads The Writing On The Wall

The ancient kingdom of Babylon ended not with a bang, nor a whimper, but a drunken free-for-all. After the death of Nebuchadnezzar rule of the Babylonian empire finally fell to his descendant Nabonidus  As Chapter 5 of the book of Daniel opens Nabonidus' son Belshazzar is throwing a drunken party for one thousand of his closest friends. After Belshazzar got a good snootfull  of wine he ordered that the cups and bowls that Nebuchadnezzar took from the temple in Jerusalem be brought out so that his party guests can knock back a few cold ones in style with him. As they downed the wine they praised the pagan gods of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood and stone. 

Historically Belshazzar was a co-regent of Babylon, his father (Nebuchadnezzar was his forefather) Nabonidus, the full king, was leading the Babylonian army out to meet the Persian army to defend the Babylonian empire from their attack. Meanwhile Belshazzar stayed behind to administer and defend the city of Babylon. This situation was too good to be ignored so while dad was away on the battlefield Belshazzar threw himself a little party safe behind huge city walls that no army could penetrate. As the party got into full swing Belshazzar was blissfully unaware that Nabonidus was a prisoner of the Persian army who was now barreling down on him. Back at party central a disembodied hand suddenly appeared and started writing on the wall near Belshazzar, the words that were written were:
Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin
So Belshazzar did what any other drunken regent would do: he freaked out. He went pale, shaking, and collapsed in horror. Those words mean 
Numbered, Numbered, Weighed, Dividing
Besides the appearance of the mysterious hand  the words terrified Belshazzar. The meaning behind these words was lost to Belshazzar and it scared him A Lot. Following the steps of his forefather, Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar called in his wise men, seers, magicians, conjurers, Chaldeans and diviners, none of which could interpret the meaning behind the mysterious inscription. The only person who seemed to remember what had happened in the past was the Queen. She was the one that remembered the only person in Babylon that has a history of accurate prophesy was Daniel.

Daniel was escorted into Party Central and Belshazzar lavished praise upon Daniel and made promises of gifts and power as the third ruler in the kingdom upon Daniel if he would just interpret the meaning of the message. But Daniel answered
Then Daniel answered and said before the king, “Keep your gifts for yourself or give your rewards to someone else; however, I will read the inscription to the king and make the interpretation known to him. (Daniel 5:17)
Then Daniel went on to talk about the former ruler Nebuchadnezzar, how Nebuchadnezzar was granted sovereignty, grandeur, glory and majesty from God and all people bowed to him. But when Nebuchadnezzar  alowed pride to overtake his spirit God drove him out from his people and he lived like a wild animal until he learned humility. Once he recognized that the Most High God is the actual ruler over Babylon, God restored him. Daniel then told Belshazzar
22 Yet you, his descendant, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, even though you knew all this, 23 but you have exalted yourself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines have been drinking wine from them; and you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which do not see, hear or understand. But the God in whose hand are your life-breath and all your ways, you have not glorified. (Daniel 5:22-23)
Then Daniel interpreted the message: Mene meaning measured (twice for ephasis) and Tekel meaning weighed. Together they mean that God assessed Babylon, and its current rulers and they were judged to be wanting. Then Daniel said Pe'res  which confused me because the original word was Upharsin. So I did a little research and found that in the word Upharsin the 'U' just means 'and' and that Pe'res is a singular form of the word Pharsin. God intentionally did not use the singular meaning of "Divided" because he was about to divide the Babylonian empire two ways: between the Medes and the Persians.

True to his word Belshazzar clothed Danial with purple and put a necklace of gold around his neck and issued a proclamation that he was the third ruler of Babylon, which didn't do Daniel much good, because in a few hours Babylon would cease to exist:
30 That same night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was slain. 31 So Darius the Mede received the kingdom at about the age of sixty-two. (Daniel 5:30-31)
History tells us that while the party was roaring, the Medes and the Persians were busy outside the city wall diverting the river. Babylon's walls were considered impregnable for years (300 foot high, 75 foot wide ramparts) however a portion of the Euphrates flowed under the city wall into the city. The Medes and Persians simply diverted the river water away from the city and entered Babylon under the wall where the water used to enter and became God's tool of judgement against Babylon.

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