100 Great Events of the Old Testament Lesson #83 The Fall of Babylon Family / Teacher Notes For Sunday, May 30 th Daniel 5

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1 100 Great Events of the Old Testament Lesson #83 The Fall of Babylon Family / Teacher Notes For Sunday, May 30 th Daniel 5 Babylon was a large empire that was able to conquer many other nations. We have studied how they attacked Jerusalem and took away almost all the people of Judah. Daniel was taken captive when he was still a boy. But as mighty as Babylon had been, it would fall to other nations. God had spoken through Jeremiah the prophet, But when the seventy years are fulfilled, I will punish the king of Babylon and his nation, the land of the Babylonians, for their guilt," declares the LORD, "and will make it desolate forever. Jeremiah 25:12 Our lesson is about the fall of Babylon, which is recorded in the book of Daniel. A Babylonian Ruler Named Belshazzar. Many years had passed since the days of Daniel s youth. He was probably over 80 years old by this time. Do you remember the image that King Nebuchadnezzar dreamed about and how Daniel interpreted what that dream meant? Daniel had told Nebuchadnezzar that he and his Babylonian kingdom were the first part of that image, the head of gold. But Daniel had told him, After you will arise another kingdom (Dn. 2:39). That prophecy will happen in this lesson from Daniel 5. King Nebuchadnezzar himself had died in 562 B.C. after a reign of 43 years. Over the next few years several kings came and went quickly because they were killed in office. Nabonidus was one of the last kings, but in the later part of his reign, Nabonidus went off to live in other parts of Babylon. He appointed his son Belshazzar to rule in his place while he was away. Both Nabonidus and Belshazzar are mentioned in the writings on this clay cylinder. Some believe that Belshazzar s mother was the daughter of King Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar is called his father in Daniel 5, so he must have been one of his descendents.

2 The Advance of the Army of the Medes and Persians. The Medo-Persian Empire were two nations that had combined together as one empire. In one of Daniel s prophecies it describes this empire as like a ram with two horns, but one of the horns was higher than the other (Dan. 8:3). In the empire of the Medes and Persians, the Persians were the stronger of the two. In Daniel 8:15 Daniel is clearly told, The two-horned ram that you saw represents the kings of Media and Persia. It is interesting that over 150 years before this, the Lord spoke through Isaiah the prophet about what would happen to Babylon: "Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them Their bows also shall dash the young men to pieces; and they shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eye shall not spare children. And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees excellency, shall be as when God over threw Sodom and Gomorrah." (Isaiah 13:17-19.) The Medes & Persians Surround the City of Babylon. The capital of Babylon was the city of Babylon, built on the Euphrates River. Ancient historians said that Babylon's walls were: 60 miles around--15 miles on each side, 300 feet high, 80 feet thick (So wide that chariots could ride on top of the walls), Went 35 feet below the ground so that enemies could not tunnel under, Were built of brick 1 foot square and 3 or 4 inches thick. Were protected by wide and deep moats filled with water, Had 250 towers on the walls. The city was divided by the Euphrates into two almost equal parts. The Medo-Persian army had already defeated the areas around the city of Babylon. But Babylon was such a large, well protected city, that the Babylonians did not believe it could be invaded. They felt safe inside their city. Enough food had been stored up for them to survive for 20 years. They had plenty of water coming in from the Euphrates River. Belshazzar s Feast. The Babylonians belief that they were safe is seen in what is described in Daniel 5. Belshazzar the king made a great feast for a thousand of his lords, and drank wine in the presence of the thousand. While the armies of their enemies were camped outside their city planning to attack, Belshazzar hosted a large party for a thousand officials. The king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines were all there celebrating.

3 One of the things they did in this celebration was to honor the Babylonian gods. Their idolatry and drunkenness was bad enough, but what they did next was very disrespectful to God. Belshazzar gave the command to bring the gold and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple which had been in Jerusalem. So they brought the gold vessels that had been taken from the temple and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone. The Handwriting on the Wall. While the feast was in progress with its drinking of wine and shouting of praises to the gods of Babylon, suddenly there appeared the fingers of a man s hand which wrote on the plastered wall of the palace. As King Belshazzar watched, the appearance of his face changed. He had been celebrating, but now his face became very serious. He was so shaken up and nervous by the writing fingers that his knees knocked together. The whole crowd was amazed and afraid. The king called for his astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. These were people who were supposed to be able to interpret signs and explain what they meant. Belshazzar said that if any of them could read this writing and explain it, that he would clothe them in scarlet, put a chain of gold around their neck, and make them the third most important ruler in Babylon. But when these people examined the writing, no one could read it or interpret it. Daniel Interprets. The Queen heard all of what was going on in the banquet hall and came in to advise Belshazzar. [This is believed to be Belshazzar s mother remember his wives were already present - and she is thought to possibly be a daughter of Nebuchadnezzar.] She tells Belshazzar about Daniel and the service he had rendered to King Nebuchadnezzar: There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the Spirit of the Holy God. And in the days of your father, light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, were found in him; and King Nebuchadnezzar your father -- your father the king -- made him chief of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers. Inasmuch as an excellent spirit, knowledge, understanding, interpreting dreams, solving riddles, and explaining enigmas were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar, now let Daniel be called, and he will give the interpretation." Daniel was now well in his eighties, and obviously still full of the Spirit of God and of wisdom. Belshazzar told Daniel of the gifts and rewards he had offered if he could interpret the writing. Daniel explained that he would do this for the king, but did not want his rewards.

4 Before Daniel interprets, he reminds Belshazzar that Nebuchadnezzar had learned that God was ruler over all kingdoms and all kings. But Daniel said that you Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, although you knew all this. And you have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven. They have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you and your lords, your wives and your concubines, have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone, which do not see or hear or know; and the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified. Next Daniel explains that God has sent this message written on Belshazzar s wall: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. MENE: God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. Your reign is over. God has brought it to an end. TEKEL: You are weighed in the balances and are found wanting. Judgment has fallen and you fall short! UPHARSIN (PERES): Your kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians. Even though the message said that Belshazzar and Babylon would fall, still the king gave the command to reward Daniel. But we also read that That very night Belshazzar was slain and Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old. Inside the British Museum in London, England there is the Cyrus Cylinder that tells how Babylon was conquered. The army dug trenches upstream alongside of the river Euphrates. They diverting the water and the river gradually went down as it ran through the city of Babylon. No one noticed. At night, at the height of Belshazzar s drunken feast, the water became low enough for the Medes to quietly slip under the gates and invade the city. Darius the Mede and Cyrus of Persia were now the co-rulers of the Medo-Persian Empire. In years to come the Persian part of the empire would be greater.

5 Rom. 15:4 For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Rome the New Testament Babylon. It is interesting that in the New Testament book of Revelation, it pictures the city of Rome and the Roman empire that ruled over so much of the civilized world. But in Revelation it is called Babylon. Most of the references in Revelation speak of Babylon s fall: Another angel followed, saying, "Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! For in one hour your judgment has come. (Rev. 14:8; 18:10) Babylon in Old Testament times was a mighty nation, but God could bring it down. Rome was the mightiest nation of New Testament times, but the Lord brought it down. Psalm 22:28 says, For the kingdom is the LORD's, and He rules over the nations. Daniel 2:21 He removes kings and raises up kings. Acts 17:26-27 says that God made from one, every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times, and the boundaries of their habitation Paul declared in Romans 13:1-2, Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Remember, God is in control. If a nation becomes very sinful, He can bring it down. If they act righteously, He can raise them up and make them strong. We should do all we can to help our country be an upright and good nation.

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