When we left Daniel at the end of chapter 4, we heard these stunning words from the pagan king Nebuchadnezzar: ‘Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.’ (Daniel 4:37). The greatest king of his age, and confessed that the LORD God of Israel is the sovereign ruler of everything and everyone! Nebuchadnezzar seems to have really become a believer. Has the Government sphere has been reclaimed for God? Will his successors also follow the LORD?
There couldn’t be a more start contrast between Nebuchadnezzar and the next ruler of Babylon we’re introduced to. Daniel jumps years into the future. 3 other kings have ruled Babylon: Amel-Marduk (562-560 BC), Nergal-Shar-Susur (560-556 BC) and Labshi-Marduk (556 BC). They’re all named after Babylonian gods. And so is the ruler we meet here: Belshazzar (co-regent with his father Nabonidus 556-539 BC).
He doesn’t follow the LORD. In fact, he shows his pride and arrogance: He thinks he has got God under control! (v2).
He will not learn from his ancestor Nebuchadnezzar, so he has to learn for himself that ‘it is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God’ (Hebrews 10:31).
So what is God’s message to us today? It is this: If you know that God graciously forgives sin, but you do not turn from your sin to receive His grace in Jesus, you fall under His righteous judgement.