The Writing On The Wall (Daniel 5)

Scripture Text:

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Daniel 5

1. Recall one of your most scary, hair-raising, goose-bumpy, heart-thumping experiences. What was so frightening?

2. Whom do you know who is good at solving crosswords, puzzles, riddles, rubic cubes, etc.?

3. Tell about a time when you saw “the handwriting on the wall”. How did you feel? What did you do? What happened?

4. Given this script for a scene in a mystery thriller to be developed by you as the movie director, how would you underscore the drama, musically? Where would you place the drum roll, crescendo, cymbals and taps? Where would you place the minor and major keys in dissonance, and in resolution?

5. As the movie director, how would you set the stage? What special effects would you use for the mysterious handwriting on the wall? What close-cropped visuals and panning shots of the audience would you weave in for greatest effect?

6. What flashbacks to Nebuchadnezzar’s reign would provide contrasting relief and background insight to the drama here? What sin has Belshazzar added to his father’s (verses 2 – 4)? How is this an insult to God? How is this even worse than his father’s sin (verses 22 and 23)?

7. What does Belshazzar’s reaction to the mysterious hand (verses 6 – 9) disclose about him? About his little, secure world? His guilt? His fear?

8. What does the king learn that money, things and promotions cannot buy, but only Daniel can supply? How is that point made by the queen (verses 10 – 12)? By Daniel (verse 17)?

9. What does Daniel’s rejection of flattery and rewards say about the authenticity of this man and his message?

10. What does the handwriting on the wall mean (verses 26 – 28)? How is that prophecy fulfilled (verse 30)? In accord with what prediction (see chapter 2:36 – 39)?

11. Compare the two kings’ portraits in chapter 5:29, 30 and chapter 4:34 – 37. Whom do they praise? What does that tell you about them? From their contrasting fates, what do you learn about God’s mercy and justice, power and authority?

12. What contemporary examples come to mind of people mocking God by demeaning sacred things, as Belshazzar did with the temple goblets? Does it seem God is quick, or slow, to judge sacrilegious behavior? Why?

13. What have you learned from your parents or predecessors? Why do people often fail to learn from the past?

14. What would you do if you were offered position and/or power as a way to buy your vote or pre-determine your thinking?

Additional Comment:

Who actually killed Belshazzar is not known, but presumably it was Darius the Mede. Yet that only compounds the issue, because the identity of Darius is itself unclear. He is definitely not the great Darius of Persia who will come to power some 20 years later. Most speculation centers on a man by the name of Gobryas (or Gubaru), who is sometimes identified as an ally of Cyrus and the governor of the Gutium peoples (who took Babylon from the Babylonians).

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