King Belshazzar held a great feast for a thousand of his nobles and drank wine in their presence. Under the influence of the wine, Belshazzar gave orders to bring in the gold and silver vessels that his predecessor Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple in Jerusalem, so that the king and his nobles, wives, and concubines could drink from them. So they brought in the gold vessels that had been taken from the temple, the house of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his nobles, wives, and concubines drank from them. They drank the wine and praised their gods made of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone. (Daniel 5:1-4 CSB)
The trouble started in the first two verses of Daniel. We are told that it was God who gave Nebuchadnezzar the victory over Judah. Yet he took vessels from the house of God. And that is not all: Nebuchadnezzar carried them to the land of Babylon, to the house of his god, and put the vessels in the treasury of his god. Anyone remember the Bad Idea Jeans commercial from when SNL used to be funny? Cue the punch line.
Well, where do we start? Belshazzar, who seems to be Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson, gets drunk as a show. In his drunkenness he orders the holy vessels taken from Jerusalem be brought out. These vessels are in the Babylonian temples as a demonstration that their gods are stronger than God. Do you see God’s patience behind the scenes? For approximately 66 years, items meant to honor him have been in a profane place. Now they are about to be used profanely. Notice the repetition throughout the passage. Think of it as italics or bold script. The author is making a point. The section concludes with a drunken pagan worship service, led by the king. Those in leadership ought not do such things.
I want to start listing all the public ways I see God being dishonored around me. But I think I must start with myself. Do I put any other gods above the triune God? Do I love God’s name? Do I take his name in vain? Does it cause me pain to hear others belittling God and his name? Is the name of Jesus sweet and precious to me? After all, there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12). Do those who come in contact with me daily know that I fear, that is, I have a holy reverence, for my God? God will not be mocked (cf. Gal. 6:7, 8). Belshazzar and his nobles mocked God. Bad idea!
The fifth chapter of Daniel concludes: That very night Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans was killed (5:30). You don’t trifle with the one true and living God.