Daniel 5:22-23

Have you got wisdom? Do you wish to get it?

Observe these verses:

Daniel 5:22-23

"But you, Belshazzar, his son, 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. 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"

If you compared this New International Version with the original Aramaic then you saw a very good rendering to English. A little detail about this word "life" in the last sentence of the passage could be noticed. It is the rendering of Aramaic "nishmá" which corresponds with Hebrew "neshamá", meaning "breath of life", "soul", "spirit", "divine inspiration". All meanings are to observe when Daniel tells Belshazzar that his "nishmá" is in God's hands, and that it is this God he has to honor.

Do you honor God?

This is a very wide and general question. To get a better idea, let's imagine a scale from 0 to 10 about the value "to honor God", where Belshazzar is "0" and the Lord Jesus Christ is "10" (because He spent all of his life giving His Father honor, and He teaches us to do the same thing)

Where would you put yourself in this scale?

Let me tell you why is Belshazzar in "0" according to the estimation done by Daniel because of the king's attitude:

1) he "didn't humble himself": knowing what happened to Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar persisted in his rebellion against Israel's God. In Daniel 5:18-19 in this site have we talked about how God speaks through history, in a similar way as He speaks through Biblical prophecy. Both are written so that we learn from God. To underestimate a lesson of history is the same thing as "trying prophecies with contempt", something that the Word warns against (1 Thessalonians 5:20) Belshazzar totally ignored that historical lesson and treated Israel's God as nothing (he even offended and dishonored God) On the contrary, Our Lord did only those things the Father wanted Him to do ("he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him", He says in John 8:29)

Do you always do those things which please God?

2) He "set himself up against the Lord of heaven". It's getting worst; now the king became arrogant against God, he wanted to be "god" for himself. When we are haughty respecting God, then we don't recognise Him as God, that "He" is God, and not "we". This is a main feature in Satan, and a quality which the Antichrist will also display. You can read about it in Daniel 2:41-43 in this site, and compare with 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4:

"Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day [of Jesus Christ Second Coming] will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness [the Antichrist] is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God"

What a difference between Belshazzar and Our Lord! He obeyed totally God Father's will (including to be unjustly imprisoned, mistreated and crucified) He, who was absolutely the same as God, renounced His throne to become a servant, like men (Philippians 2:6,7)

Do you renounce your will in order to do God's will?

3) Belshazzar get drunk with his officials, their wives and concubines. The Word of God says,
"Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ"

Ephesians 5:18-20

In Daniel 5:1-4 in this site you can read more about alcoholic beverages. Obviously Our Lord got never drunk. The "debauchery" which drinking causes put us in Satan's hands, because it takes our will away.

Do you usually do something under alcohol influence that you wouldn't do if you make use of your free will?

4) Belshazzar "had the goblets from his temple brought to him". Those vessels which were destined to a holy use, he used to drink wine. This is a desecration of God's holiness (you can read about it in Daniel 5:1-4 in this site) Our Lord never commited such a sin.

Have you used something which should be sanctified in a sinful way?

5) Belshazzar "praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or understand" (he commited idolatry) The existence of this sin in the church was one of the evils that the Reformation tried to end with, and among the Hebrews was the reason of the fall of Israel and, after them, of Juda. You can read about it under Daniel 3:4-7 in this site, and especially in the final NOTE to Daniel 4:5-6 (8-9) The Lord Jesus Christ warns without the shadow of a doubt that the idolaters will go to hell (Revelation 21:8)

Do you praise false "gods"?

6) Belshazzar "didn't honor" or recognise the true God. Our Lord Jesus not only lived in obedience to the Heavenly Father, but taught His disciples to depend on Him, to seek Him and to obey Him. He promised that the Holy Spirit should come upon the ones who believe, and many spiritual gifts with the anointing of the Spirit. In Daniel 2:14-16 in this site you can read about this testimony.

Have you been baptized in the Spirit of God?

As we've seen, there is a chasm between that "0" of Belshazzar's and Our Lord's "10". Our spiritual life can certainly be evaluated when we compare it with those models of sin and holiness. This is very important for our spiritual growth, because a life in sin has a fatal end; that's why Our Lord came to set us free from our sins.

Which was the outcome of Belshazzar'a sins?

When we read a bit forward in Daniel's book, we see that God found Belshazzar "khasir" (wanting, lacking, deficient) He had no spirit, no holiness, no humility, no aptitude, and he would not repent from his sins (He had made himself to a God, as the Antichrist will do) The judgement, the condemnation and death which came upon him that very night was the result of his sinfulness.

Do we sin in these times in the way Belshazzar did?

Let's remember this passage we saw before:

2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4:

"Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day [of Jesus Christ Second Coming] will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness [the Antichrist] is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God"

This "rebellion" or "apostasy" (from Greek "apostasía", defection or revolt) IS ALREADY happening, and is manifested in several ways. Let's take a look to one of the most extended and dangerous, the so called "liberal theology".

If you observe this words, "liberal" and "theology", you notice at once that they are positively loaded. With "theology" we mean the knowledge of God - the God of the Bible, for us Christians - so there's nothing wrong with that word. We've been called to know God, haven't we? And "liberal" is not in itself a sinful word. Our Lord could have been receiving the accusation from the Pharisees of being a "liberal" because He didn't care about their traditions. "Liberalism" in politics is a democratic tendency, which exalts individual freedom - which in some way the Bible does also. You go to heaven or to hell because of your own decisions, not because of those from others.

But... why is "apostasy" the liberal theology?

Let's go back to the Middle Ages. Medieval "theology" - if we can call it "knowledge of God" by that time - is rather known. There is a terrible hell - the one described by the writer Dante Alighieri in his "Divine Comedy" - which was depicted in a terrible fashion, and the only way to escape that hell is through the mediation of the Catholic Church, which was ruled by an infallible Pope who was "God's representative on earth". To become "save" at that time was not a question of receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior; it was related to "become Catholic" - you should be baptized and be no longer an atheist, Jew or Muslim. Reformation ended with medieval ignorance and put the Bible again as the foundation of the faith.

But not all kinds of "theology" which originated in the Reformation mean "knowledge of God". Because both sides were set free from Rome's dictatorship: the holy believers and the impious sinners. After the Reformation came "the renaissance" and after the renaissance, the "enlightenment".

During the Middle Ages, the Greek philosopher Aristotle's thinking was predominant in the church. For instance, for Thomas Aquinas, one of the pillars of Catholic "theology", philosophy was at the same level of the Scriptures - then, an idea from Aristotle could substitute a revelation from Paul the apostle. But to get ride from medieval thought caused the pullulation of many philosophies, among them rationalism and empirism (see NOTE 2) and Aristotle was no longer the "sublime" philosopher.

It is precisely under rationalist and empirist thought that "liberal theology" appeared. Atheists who called themselves "theologians" treated the Scriptures as any other book, which should be put to scrutiny to "correspond" with the scientific and philosophic thought of the age. The Bible had always been "the Word of God". It is the way Our Lord Jesus Christ saw it, the way the apostles saw it, the way the OT prophets saw it. But now, there were many "myths" and "errors" in the Scriptures. Of course, to see the Bible under those assumptions brings only death, and "liberal theology" passed away to be replaced by other ones. But the seed of those "weeds" was sown, and even nowadays is giving weeds in abundance.

We could ask, how could somebody embrace theological liberalism today, if that liberal theology passed away?
Let me tell you, in the same way that we meet "medieval theology" even when the Middle Ages are gone. But it is not everything. Theological liberalism as a current of thought is one of the children of an unclean spirit which is earlier the XIX century.

In the Bible we see the roots of liberalism when we read about the differences between Pharisees and Sadducees. In Acts 23:8 we read, "The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees believe all these things". That sect of the Sadducees, which we find in Acts and in the Gospels, denied many teachings of the Scriptures, especially those supernatural ones, and it is said that it was absorbed by Greek philosophy and ended. But their attitude concerning the Scriptures was back in the liberal "Christians" (we used the quotation marks on purpose, because "if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ") This liberalism appeared in the writings of JJ Semler, a commentator of the Scriptures in the XVIII century which attacked the authority of the Bible from many points of view. By the middle of the next century, liberalism was the "brand new theology".

Liberal "theology" - if we can call it "theology" - reduced "Christian faith to those 'esencial' details which could be argued about in a 'rational' way" (see NOTE 1 at the end) The Bible was not the Word of God to them, but a book with many myths and errors. They didn't believe in miracles, they embraced Darwinism because it was the "scientific" explanation of life on earth. They rejected apocalyptical prophecy, the existence of demons and hell, the fallen condition of the human being, the coming kingdom of God... anything which they didn't find "scientifically proven" or "rational". But Jesus was miraculously born of a virgin, he preached and performed many miraculous signs under His ministry and He raised from the dead miraculously, too. How could someone who doesn't believe in miracles be a Christian?

Theological liberalism closed the church's door to the real believers, and opened it to atheists which wanted to hear about a "god" that is not the God of the Bible. Because there were so many "errors and myths" in the Bible, it didn't have authority at all. It was them who should determine what is it that God expects from us. The kingdom of God was about to be constructed here on earth through the church's work, then should Jesus come. The purpose of the faith was no longer to "save human beings" but to "transform the human society".

A typical example of this kind of "theology" nowadays is to accept homosexuality as a "life style" which is not sinful, and to perform same sex marriages in church. This kind of relationship is defined as "sin" in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. To make the Scriptures say another thing is to ignore the Spirit of God and proclaim oneself as God, as the Antichrist or as Belshazzar when he got drunk and used the holy vessels for a sinful end, calling to idolatry and ignoring the example of Nebuchadnezzar.

The Word of God warns especially about transforming the Bible so that it says what we want. In Revelation 2:22-23 we read:

"So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds"

This is a warning to a false prophetess who taught in the church some kind of "doctrines" which we can't find in the Bible. It is talking about punishment not only for her but for their "children", her spiritual descendance, those who followed her, and who should be "struck dead".

"Theology" means that we are "studying God". When you study theology, the idea is to learn about God - if you're a Christian, about the God of the Bible, the Creator of heavens and earth. But those liberal "theologians" forgot that the God of the Bible is Omnipotent and Omniscient, He can do everything and He knows everything. The revelation of God that we find in the Scriptures is no "myth" and has no "errors". The work of our mind is to understand what God is saying, not to determine which part of the Bible is true and which one is wrong.

Do you want wisdom? Observe the writing of Paul the apostle to his disciple:

"But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus"

2 Timothy 3:14-15

King Belshazzar dishonored God, and went to hell. Many persons which have dishonored the Word of God got the same destiny. The apostle says through the Spirit that the Scriptures "are able to make us wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus", There's no salvation without Christ, and there's no salvation without Bible. Christ came to save us.

If you have not yet received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, don't wait any longer! Today is the day of your salvation, the day you can pass from death to life, from condemnation to pardon, from darkness to light. Receive Jesus and go with Him to eternity!

In the love of Christ, your brother

Israel Leonard

PS. Jesus is coming soon!


1) From the book "Crisis en la Teología Contemporánea", by pastor Carlos Jiménez (Editorial Vida 1985, "A Crisis in Contemporary Theology")

2) RATIONALISM: "I think, therefore I am". The kind of philosophy which exalts human reason as the supreme judge of the truth, and the means to find it. "The truth is thruth if it is logical, rational". In the extreme of stupidity: "if I can't understand something or explain it logically, then it is not true"

EMPIRICISM: The kind of philosophy which considers experience - received through our senses - as the only possible real means of getting knowledge. It is opposite to rationalism. "The truth is truth if we can prove it". In the extreme of stupidity: "If we can't prove something or if we haven't seen something, then it is not true"

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