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Sunday, June 30, 2019

posted Jun 30, 2019, 9:15 PM by Site Administrator

MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN

 

Daniel 5:1-31

Key Verse 5:25

 

This is the inscription that was written:

mene, mene, tekel, parsin

 

First, “But you have not humbled yourself, though you knew all this” (1-24). Look at verse 1. King Belshazzar gave a great banquet for a thousand of his nobles and drank wine with them. Nebuchadnezzar (634-562 BC) ruled the Babylonian Empire from 605 to 562 B.C. After him, his son, Amel Marduk, became king, but was almost immediately assassinated and replaced by his brother-in-law, Neriglissar (559-556 BC). In 556 B.C., Nabonidus became king. But after ruling three years in Babylon, he felt completely meaningless and empty that he went to the oasis of Tayma, located in northeastern Saudi Arabia and devoted himself to the worship of the Moon god, Sin. Surely, luxury, wealth, power or pleasure could not be the meaning of man’s life; humans are to worship the true God. But sadly, he didn't know who the true God was, and thereby, ended up dedicating himself to a worthless idol. When Nabonidus left Babylon, he set his son, Belshazzar whose wife was a descendant in the line of Nebuchadnezzar, as the co-regent and made him in charge of defending the city of Babylon. During this time, the Medes and Persians grew strong and attacked the Babylonian Empire. In the year 540 B.C. Nabonidus returned from Tayma, hoping to defend his kingdom from the Medes and Persians. But on October 10, 539 B.C. Nabonidus surrendered and fled from Cyrus, the king of Persia. Two days later, on October 12, 539 B.C., the united army of the Medes and Persians overthrew the city of Babylon. So, today’s event happened at the night right before the fall of the city of Babylon – so on October 11th 539 B.C.

 

Now, the united army of the Medes and Persians was surrounding the city of Babylon, but the city was indestructible – the city wall was indestructible, and inside the city, there was enough food and water for years. Just they closed the gates of the city and were waiting, and the army of the Medes and Persians could not do anything.   Then, in order to boost up the spirit and morale of the nobles and officers, Belshazzar gave a great banquet for a thousand of his nobles and drank with them. It was an animal party. If godly people faced such a challenge, they would gather together, encouraged each other to trust in God and pray – such people are noble. What a silly idea it was to boost up the morale of people through a wild animal party! Compared to how godly people respond, the way Belshazzar or other unbelieving people try to cope with their burdens or fears is indeed barbaric. True civilization comes from loving God and trusting in him – this is wisdom. 

 

Then, as the king was drunk, he did something he should not have done. He ordered to bring in the gold and silver goblets that Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken from the temple in Jerusalem, so they drank from them. As they drank the wine, they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone. It was an open mockery, despising and making sport of God’s name – it was something that should not have been done. But the king lost his mind due to drinking too much wine and he ended up crossing the line, committing the sin of blasphemy. 

 

The Bible warns about drinking. Even a righteous man, Noah, due to drinking too much wine, ended up causing his son, Ham to sin, and bringing curse on his descendants. Even the righteous man can make such a big mistake when drunk; then, what about just ordinary believers like you and me? We must not drink for ourselves, for our family, and mostly for the glory of God. How thankful we are that God has freed us from the danger of alcohol. When we believed in Jesus, when we accepted God’s grace personally, when we repented of our sins sincerely, blessing the beginning of our new life in Jesus, God took away the desire for drinking from our hearts – God broke the yoke of alcohol and set us free. This is our thanks topic. 

 

Look at verses 5 and 6. Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote. His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his knees knocked together and his legs gave way. It seemed that Belshazzar was bold when he dared use the gold and silver goblets that belonged to God and God’s temple – even the great king Nebuchadnezzar had not done such evil. But actually, he was not bold, but silly, thoughtless and childish. Once something that went beyond his understanding happened, he was so frightened that his knees knocked together and his legs gave way. Actually, this is how many sinners live their life. Sometimes, they look bold in sinning, but no one is bold in sinning – their hearts are filled with fear. 

 

The king called out for the enchanters, astrologers and diviners to be brought and said to these wise men of Babylon, “Whoever reads this writing and tells me what it means will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around his neck, and he will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom.” But none of them could read the writing or tell the king what it meant. So King Belshazzar became even more terrified and his face grew more pale. His nobles were baffled. The queen, most likely, queen mother, hearing the voices of the king and his nobles, came into the banquet hall. “O king, live forever!” she said. “Don’t be alarmed! Don’t look so pale! There is a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods in him. She encouraged him to call for Daniel, saying“He will tell you what the writing means.” As of that time, Daniel was very old. If he was 20 years old when he was taken to Babylon as an exile, which was 605 B.C., then in 539 B.C., he would be 86 years old. It seemed that he had already retired. Maybe, that’s why he was not at the king’s banquet.

 

So Daniel was brought before the king. The king asked him to interpret the writings on the wall, promising him that if he did, he would give him a lot of gifts and make him the third highest ruler in the kingdom.

 

But Daniel turned down his offer, saying“You may keep your gifts for yourself and give your rewards to someone else. Nevertheless, I will read the writing for the king and tell him what it means. But before giving him the interpretation of the writing, Daniel gave him a history lesson, showing him that God gave Nebuchadnezzar such authority and power over all others, but when he became proud, God took away everything from him and made him the lowliest of all, making him like a cow to eat grass until he acknowledged God in his life. God was real, and people should live before him with a fearful and trembling heart, acknowledging God in their life.

 

Then, Daniel rebuked Belshazzar, saying, “But you his son, O Belshazzar, have not humbled yourself, though you knew all this. Instead, you have set yourself up against the Lord of heaven. You had the goblets from his temple brought to you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines drank wine from them.” He set himself up against God. It was never his intention to set himself against God, but that’s what he did. How? By treating the things of God with contempt. That’s how people set themselves against God – by treating the things of God with contempt – God’s name, God’s grace, God’s laws, God’s grace, God’s church and God’s people. We must show reverence toward the things of God, treating them with caution, sincerity and humility.

 

Daniel also rebuked him, saying, “You praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or understand. But you did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways.” His sin was that he had not honored God even if he knew about how God had trained his father Nebuchadnezzar. It was obvious that God was real and that He was the Sovereign Lord; God was actively involved in the lives of people. So, Belshazzar had to honor Him because God held in his hand his life and all his ways – everything of his life – his success or suffering, his happiness or loneliness all were in God’s hands; he had to honor God by showing him respect, by living before him with caution, sincerity and humility. But Belshazzar did not honor God; instead, he set himself up against God by treating things of God very casually and contemptuously. God is the Sovereign Lord over our life; he holds in his hand our life and all our ways – what kind of job you will get, what kind of life you will live, what kind of family you will have,… we must honor God. How much respect do we show to our professors who have slight authority over our grades and maybe, some influence over which graduate school we can go? Then, how much more to God who holds in his hand our entire life and all our ways? We must honor Him.

 

Then, how can we honor God? Belshazzar failed to honor God because he valued those idols of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood and stone. He pursued those things and praised them, instead of praising God who held his life in his hand. Like Belshazzar, today many people fail to honor God by praisingsuch idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood, valuing them and pursuing them. They brag about what a wonderful car they have, and what a wonderful house they have. Those who value such things and praise them do not honor God. This is the trend in the society. Such people are idol worshipers. God does not like them, because instead of honoring him who in his hand holds their life and all their ways, they honor such worthless idols, valuing and praising them. Let’s not give our hearts to such things. Instead, let’s give ourselves to God alone who, in his hands, holds our life and all our ways. Let’s not worship idols, but God alone! As a conclusion, Daniel said to the king, “Therefore he sent the hand that wrote the inscription.”Honoring God sounds conceptual and theoretical, but actually, it is very practical for those who acknowledge God’s sovereignty over their lives. They show absolute attitude toward things of God. They, instead of valuing and praising things of gold, silver, iron, stone and wood, value and praise God. Today, what do you value? What do you honor? God, or idols?

 

Second, “Mene, mene, tekel, parsin” (25-30). Now Daniel gave the interpretation of the writing. Look at verses 25 through 28. Let’s read these verses together:

 

25“This is the inscription that was written:

mene, mene, tekel, parsin

26“This is what these words mean:

Mene: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.

27Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.

28Peres: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”

 

The writing was: “Mene, mene, tekel, parsin.” We don’t know exactly why the wise men of Babylon could not read this writing. Some Rabbinic interpretations (notably the mention in the Babylonian Talmud) say that the words were written in code; others suggest that the written Aramaic and Hebrew looked very different, even though they were pronounced similarly. But anyway, it was: Mene, mene, tekel, parsin. As the footnote shows, these words were the Aramaic names of measures. Mene is mina, the amount of money, equivalent to three months' wages. Tekel is “shekel,” a measurement for weight about 15 gram or half an ounce. And Peres (singular form of Parsin as the footnote shows) is half a mina or half a shekel – a half of any other measurement. So, it was: Two minas, one shekel, and two parts. It was a riddle. But Daniel understood what God was talking about through this writing. In the verb form, they were: mene, to number; tekel, to weigh; parsin, to divide—literally "numbered, weighed, and divided." Based on this, Daniel gave the king its interpretation.

 

Mene: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end. God pronounced his verdict against Belshazzar. Belshazzar thought that he was in control and that he could do whatever he wanted. But that’s not the case. It was God who established Belshazzar as the king in Babylon, and it was God who decreed how long he should remain as king, and now God brought his reign to an end. This shows how actively God was involved in operating the Babylonian Empire. God was working hard, hiring people to high positions, and laying them off at the right time according to his own purpose. God was truly sovereign over the kingdoms of menThis shows that we have no reason to pursue high positions or titles in the church. It is God who assigns anyone He wants to the positions and titles. Only those who do not have faith in God, only those who do not love God but value such things pursue them, while those who love God pursue Him alone. Then, God, according to his plan and decision, gives such positions and titles to those whom He sees fit. The principle He uses in this matter is: Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. In the time of success and prosperity, we must remember that God is numbering the days of our prosperity and thereby, humble ourselves before him. We must live our life with a fearful and trembling heart.

 

This interpretation also shows us how actively God is involved in the life of each individual. He is sovereign over each person’s life. Do you believe that God is sovereign over your life? Do you believe that God has a good plan for you? Do you believe that your life is in God’s hands? Then, you have nothing to worry about. You don’t need to say, “I know God does not make a mistake, but human servants do.” God will not fail to guide your life, only because of filthy humans’ flimsy mistakes. You don’t need to say, “What if?” either, because the worst scenario possible you think of will never occur in your life, because God loves you and He has a good plan for you, plan to prosper you. In the US Currency, we see the inscription, “In God we trust.” What does it mean? It does not mean that you just read it or memorize it. Instead, it means that you are confident of God’s goodness and love for you, and thereby, you have nothing to be afraid of. You trust that your life is in God’s hands. Psalm 56:4 reads: “In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”Again, Psalm 56:11 reads: “in God, I trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Then, Psalm 118:6 reads: “The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Then, Hebrew 13:6 draws a conclusion in this matter, saying, “So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”

 

Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting. This was the reason why God had brought to an end of his reign. Since he was king, he should be in the super heavy weight level; but when God weighed him on the scales, the scale tilted up on his side terribly, because he was in the fly weight level, under 112 lbs; simply, he was not a material for king or for any highly authorized position. In the Bible, often, righteousness is measured as weight. For example, in the parable of wheat, when tossed off into the air, chaff is blown away by the wind because it does not have any weight; but grains fall into the sieve instead of being blown away, because they have real weight; as a result, because of sieving, tossed off into the air over and over, all the chaff is blown away, and in the sieve, only real grains remain; such grains are gathered into the barn - these are true saints who endure the winds of all kinds of challenges and temptations in the world and remain in Jesus; the wind of temptation for success or for their dream romance comes, but they are not blown away; they are not cheapened. The wind of hardships such as financial difficulties, or academic failures, or persecution from their family members, or conflicts with other coworkers, blows on them, but still they remain in God's will, holding onto God's calling and serving God's work rain or snow – they have true weight like a rock. They are the ones who hold onto God's words; they are real disciples of Jesus Christ. 

 

When we think about Tekel more carefully, we can see that once he assigns people to certain positions with related authority and responsibility, God expects a certain quality from them – he expects them to perform in an acceptable way – God weighs them on the scales. God established Saul as the first king in Israel; at first, Saul was very humble. But as he was used to his position as king, he became humanistic and took relativistic attitude toward things of God – God's words, God's servant, and sacrifices to God. Finally, after having waited for about 30 years, God rejected him to be king, and gave that position to David, who would do everything God wanted. For Belshazzar, God gave him 14 years to prove himself as king; Belshazzar was thoughtless, careless and childish, but God had waited patiently for him. But now, finally, Belshazzar went too far and crossed the line by despising God's name, by blaspheming. So, God declared his verdict, “Wanting,” and was going to remove him from such an honorable position. 

 

He wants us to live our lives in a manner worthy of his grace, not in debauchery, or in drunkenness, or in pride, but in faithfulness, love and loyalty. When God weighs you on his scales, how heavy will you be found? Like super heavy weight boxers? Or fly weight boxers? Of course, super heavy weight boxers! That’s why we cannot take this Christian life casually. Now is the time God has given us to prove ourselves as true Christians, as real disciples who have real weight, who will not be blown away by the wind of this world. We must live our life before God with true sincerity, with a heart's complete determination to serve God and live for him alone at any cost

 

Peres: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians. When Belshazzar was found wanting, found not qualified to be king, God gave that position to other person who was qualified. In this way, God is leading the human history according to his plan and purpose, sometimes raising people to the positions, sometimes removing them from the positions, sometimes, uniting the kingdoms, sometimes, dividing the kingdoms. We bow down to God, the Ultimate Controller of human history. We thank God for choosing us to be his servants and using us in his salvation work. Let's humble ourselves before Him and before others all the more and make all possible efforts to be found faithful in Jesus Christ.

 

Look at verse 29. Then at Belshazzar’s command, Daniel was clothed in purple, a gold chain was placed around his neck, and he was proclaimed the third highest ruler in the kingdom. When he heard Daniel's message – the message of God's judgment upon him, it seemed that he had to kneel down and cry out to God for mercy. But he was not a sincere person, but just a party animal. At such a serious and urgent message, instead of accepting it and pleading with God for his mercy with tears, he gave Daniel a lot of gifts; maybe, that way, he tried to keep his pride or show himself as king. That very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians, was slain, and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom, at the age of sixty-two.

 

One Word:Live Your Life In A Manner Worthy of God's Calling

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