“The Gospel According to Daniel”
Lesson 6 – Rejecting the Call
In Daniel chapter 4 we studied the story of how Nebuchadnezzar finally accepted Jesus into his life and accepted God’s rule as supreme. It was a beautiful story of redemption and illustrates the lengths God will go to in order to save just one person. Today we will study what happens when a person ultimately rejects God’s offer of salvation.
Let’s read Daniel chapter 5 together.
This story took place in 539 BC, about 23 years after the death of Nebuchadnezzar. It was the night before the fall of Babylon. Belshazzar was the ruling king of Babylon. Babylonian historical records show that he was appointed to the throne as a regent by his father Nabonidus1.
Although Babylon was being besieged by the Medo-Persians, Belshazzar was so confident of Babylon’s fortifications that he hosted a great feast and ordered the golden vessels taken from the temple of Jerusalem to be used as drinking cups for his guests.
Belshazzar’s action was not merely an extravagant gesture, but it was an intentional mockery and defiance of God, while uplifting his own Babylonian gods (Daniel 5:3-4).
However, in the midst of the revelry, a hand writes words on a wall of the king’s palace. Belshazzar’s fearful response to this mysterious writing (Daniel 5:6-7) indicates that deep down he realized God was answering his challenge of defiance.
Nebuchadnezzar called in the wise men of Babylon (the astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers) to interpret the mysterious writing for him, but they could not (Daniel 5:8-9).
Note that although Belshazzar was greatly troubled by the mysterious writing, he did not call for Daniel until the queen insisted that he do so. When Daniel came before Belshazzar, he purposefully addressed Daniel by his Hebrew name rather than his Babylonian name of Belteshazzar. Belshazzar reminded Daniel that he was one of the captives from Judah when he asked for his help in interpreting the writing on the wall. Also note that Belshazzar left out the word “holy” when talking about Daniel having the “Spirit of God,” whereas the queen told Belshazzar that Daniel had the “Spirit of the Holy God” (Daniel 5:11, 14).
Before Daniel interpreted the writing on the wall, he rebuked Nabonidus for his hard heart and defiance of God. Daniel recounted how Nebuchadnezzar once defied God and was humbled as a result. Nebuchadnezzar repented of his sins and turned his heart towards God. Yet Belshazzar knew all this and refused to humble his own heart (Daniel 5:22-23). Belshazzar rejected God and consciously chose to worship idols instead.
Daniel interpreted the writing on the wall for Belshazzar. The words were words of judgment, in which Belshazzar was found wanting. That very night, Babylon fell to the Medo-Persians and Belshazzar was slain (Daniel 5:30-31).
This story is a sad reminder that while God offers salvation to everyone, there will be many individuals who, nevertheless, choose to reject Him. God is just and merciful and will judge everyone accordingly (Ecclesiastes 12:14; Luke 12:42-48; 2 Peter 3:9). Those who are lost will not be lost because of a lack of knowledge. They will be lost because they choose to be lost (Daniel 5:22-23; Romans 1:18-25). Since God is love, He cannot force people to choose salvation and to obey Him (1 John 4:8; Deuteronomy 30:19-20; John 14:15).
Friend, it is ultimately your choice whether or not you will follow Jesus or the idols of this world (Joshua 24:5). Will you accept God’s call and choose Jesus?
- Doukhan, Jacques. Secrets of Daniel. (Review and Herald Publishing Association, 2000) 77-78.