The Image Loses Its Head
Dr. Joe Temple


Open your Bibles, please, to the book of Daniel, chapter 2. In the second chapter of the book of Daniel, you will remember there is recorded for us the manner in which Nebuchadnezzar had a dream and immediately forgot it. When he realized that he had forgotten the dream, he was much disturbed because the dream, even though he could not remember it, was one that had disturbed him when he dreamed it.

You will remember that we learned how Nebuchadnezzar called upon the various wise men among the Chaldeans to recall the dream and to interpret it as well. They were unable to do this. Finally, the matter was brought to Daniel's attention. He and his friends spent some time in prayer, and then Daniel spoke to the captain of the guard, Arioch, and asked to be brought before the king that he might remind him of the dream and give the explanation.

Dream Concerning the World Governments

In verse 31, we hear Daniel saying:

Daniel 2:

31Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible.
32This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass,
33His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.
34Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces.
35Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.

Interpreting the Dream

This is the dream. No sooner did Daniel tell the king the dream than he realized that Daniel was exactly right. It was recalled freshly to his mind, but he still did not know the meaning of it. And so, in verse 36, Daniel said:

Daniel 2:

36This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king.
37Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory.
38And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them All. Thou art this head of gold.
39And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth.
40And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise.
41And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters' clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay.
42And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken.
43And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.
44And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.

God's Blueprint for the Ages

When we were looking at this chapter, we explained in detail the significance of each phrase and each verse. We will not take the time to do that again. We do want to refresh our minds by saying that the second chapter of the book of Daniel presents God's blueprint for the ages from the kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar until the day when the Lord Jesus Christ will return to this earth. That blueprint suggests that four mighty kings will march across the face of the globe. The earth will be under the dominion of four distinct kingdoms, the first one Nebuchadnezzar's, the last one the Roman Empire, and then the Antichrist who represents the Roman Empire in its final form.

The thing in which we are now interested is in this second chapter. The reason we asked you to turn to it is that Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar that he was the head of gold. He also told Nebuchadnezzar that someday the image of which he had dreamed, this image which had a head of gold, would see the head of gold come to naught.

Ending the First World Kingdom

Chapter 5 of the book of Daniel gives a description of the manner in which the image lost its head. It is a description of the manner in which Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom came to an end. It is a description of the manner in which the head of gold gave way to the breast and arms of silver.

If we are to understand chapter 5 of the book of Daniel adequately, it is necessary for us to notice something of its historical background, and we will examine both the Bible and profane history. The Bible is silent on some points, and profane history—secular history—brings those particular points to our minds.

Let me suggest to you that chapter 5 of the book of Daniel records events which occurred forty years after chapter 4. In chapter 4, you will remember, we have presented to us the glorious testimony of Nebuchadnezzar when he came to know God. If we were speaking in New Testament language, we would say when he came to know the Lord Jesus Christ as his own personal Savior.

Belshazzar's Feast

Nebuchadnezzar died, of course, and went to be with the Lord, and he was succeeded on the throne by several kings. We are not interested in them. We are interested only in the king who is the central character in chapter 5:

Daniel 5:

1Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand.
2Belshazzar, whiles he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink therein.
3Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God which was at Jerusalem; and the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, drank in them.
4They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone.

We are going to stop our reading right there and ask ourselves the question, “Who is this man, Belshazzar, who provided such a tremendous feast?” It was a tremendous feast if you keep in mind that he had at this feast one thousand of his lords, plus all his wives and concubines—a tremendous number of people. Who was the man who was on the throne and who exercised such grandiose power and wealth?

God Interrupts Belshazzar's Feast

Daniel 5:

10Now the queen by reason of the words of the king and his lords came into the banquet house: and the queen spake and said, O king, live for ever: let not thy thoughts trouble thee, nor let thy countenance be changed:
11There is a man in thy kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of thy father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him; whom the king Nebuchadnezzar thy father, the king, I say, thy father, made master of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers;

Use of the Word Father

Let us stop right there because at the moment, the only thing in this verse in which we are interested is the phrase, “in the days of thy father.”

We know from history that the father of Belshazzar was not Nebuchadnezzar. The father of Belshazzar was Nabonidus. When we recognize that, and we read here that Nebuchadnezzar was the father of Belshazzar, we might be confused if we did not know that in Aramaic and Hebrew, there are no words for grandfather or grandson . The word father is used in the sense of an ancestor. The word grandfather would not be used; Nebuchadnezzar would be referred to as the father of Belshazzar.

With that thought in mind, we would like for you to notice verse 16, where Belshazzar is speaking to Daniel and asking Daniel to explain the handwriting on the wall. He wants to compliment Daniel, so he says:

Daniel 5:

16And I have heard of thee, that thou canst make interpretations, and dissolve doubts: now if thou canst read the writing, and make known to me the interpretation thereof, thou shalt be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about thy neck, and shalt be the third ruler in the kingdom.

Belshazzar's Position in the Kingdom

Notice the last phrase of that verse because that is all we are interested in at the moment. Belshazzar said, “Daniel, if you can tell me the meaning of the words which I see on the wall over there, I will make you the third ruler in the kingdom.”

Why do you suppose he said, “the third ruler in the kingdom?” The answer is simple when we read history along with the Bible. He said that Daniel would be the third ruler in the kingdom because he himself was the second ruler in the kingdom. His father, Nabonidus, was the first ruler in the kingdom and Belshazzar reigned jointly with him. This man who produced this great feast with which the chapter begins was a grandson of Nebuchadnezzar and was ruling jointly with his father, Nabonidus.

Turn to chapter 4 with me as we try to set up the background, and notice in verse 4 that Nebuchadnezzar some forty years before described the condition of the city of Babylon.

Daniel 4:

4I Nebuchadnezzar was at rest in mine house, and flourishing in my palace:

You will remember that when we were looking at chapter 4, we told you that this verse meant that Nebuchadnezzar was dwelling securely in the land of Babylon, or more accurately, in the city of Babylon, so well fortified that he was at rest as far as all of his enemies were concerned. He had subdued all of them and they were unable to do anything about it. If you will notice chapter 4, verse 30:

Daniel 4:

30The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?

He was saying, “Is not this great Babylon that I have built for my successors and for my heirs?” Truly it was great Babylon.

The Greatness of Babylon

If we examine what history has to say about the city of Babylon, we will find that it was quite a city. It is important for us to realize that if we are going to understand the true teaching of chapter 5 of the book of Daniel.

To give you an indication of the kind of city it was, let me give you a few facts about this great Babylon which Nebuchadnezzar had built and which his successors had continued to improve.

It was a large city, sixty miles in circumference. It was surrounded by a wall 350 feet high and 87 feet broad. The wall was so broad that six chariots could drive abreast on it. In addition to the height of the walls themselves, there were 25 towers placed at strategic points. These towers were 100 feet in height; it could indeed be a city of rest and security because nobody could approach the city without being seen. In addition to this protection which Nebuchadnezzar had provided, the wall itself was surrounded by a moat some thirty feet wide. This moat was filled with water.

The city itself was divided diagonally by the River Euphrates. This river was enclosed by a high wall with some 25 gates at strategic points where the main avenues of the city ended.

Provisions Against Siege

The city was occupied by a million, two hundred thousand people. Within the city there was enough tillable land, enough agricultural land, to support the inhabitants of the city indefinitely.

For provision of any emergency that might arise, Nebuchadnezzar had very meticulously filled the grain houses with grain so that there was a 20 year supply stored, in case anybody attempted to lay siege to the city with the idea that if they could not get into the city, they could starve it out.

Belshazzar and his lords, then, from a human standpoint had a right to feel so secure that they could carry on a drunken revelry all night long. They had a right, humanly speaking, to feel so secure that they could have this feast and carry on this drunken revelry even though Cyrus the Persian was camped outside the city walls for three long months with the idea of bringing about the downfall that is described in chapter 5 of this book.

Feast to Honor the Gods of Babylon

The feast to which we have referred here in Daniel, chapter 5, was held on one of the annual feast days of the Babylonians in honor of their particular god. Perhaps that is the reason they felt justified in having the feast. Perhaps more significant is the reason God interpreted this feast in a startling manner, striking terror to the hearts of all those who were in attendance. Look at chapter 5, verse 5, where we read:

Daniel 5:

5In the same hour came forth fingers of a man's hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king's palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote.
6Then the king's countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.
7The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. And the king spake, and said to the wise men of Babylon, Whosoever shall read this writing, and shew me the interpretation thereof, shall be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about his neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.
8Then came in all the king's wise men: but they could not read the writing, nor make known to the king the interpretation thereof.
9Then was king Belshazzar greatly troubled, and his countenance was changed in him, and his lords were astonied [astonished].

Turmoil in the Midst of Feasting

Get the picture! In the midst of this drunken revelry, suddenly a man's hand appeared and wrote a number of words on the wall opposite the candlesticks where they could be well seen by everybody present.

Let us recognize that this was not a man's hand. It was described as a man's hand because God, to make His activities possible for us to comprehend, is often presented in terms related to a man. But you will notice that when Daniel began to explain what had occurred here, he referred to the fact that God wrote those words and not any ordinary man.

You will keep in mind as you look through this chapter that these words remained on the wall all the time the various soothsayers were trying to interpret them. All the time the queen mother was urging Belshazzar to do something about it by calling Daniel into the picture, they remained there. They remained there all the time that Daniel was speaking. I emphasize that because this was not a dream; this was not an hallucination; this was not an emotional disturbance on the part of Belshazzar. Belshazzar actually saw the words which were written on the wall by the hand of God.

You can imagine the turmoil that this caused, and you can imagine that everybody in the palace was talking about it.

A Suggestion From the Queen Mother

In verse 10, we notice:

Daniel 5:

10Now the queen by reason of the words of the king and his lords came into the banquet house: and the queen spake and said, O king, live for ever: let not thy thoughts trouble thee, nor let thy countenance be changed:

I am glad that the queen mother was not at this particular revelry. The queen mother was the wife of Nebuchadnezzar, and she had had the same spiritual experience as had her husband. So she was not going to be allied with anything that was as heathenish as this. But she had no control over her grandson, the king. When this particular incident occurred, she came to the banquet room, not to participate, but to tell this grandson that there was someone who could explain the meaning of the words which were written on the wall.

You will notice in the paragraph which begins with verse 10 and continues on down through verse 16, that the queen mother explained that Nebuchadnezzar had brought Daniel to the land of Babylon and that Daniel was a spiritual man and could explain the meaning of the words. Will you look at verse 12:

Daniel 5:

12Forasmuch as an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, interpreting of dreams, and shewing of hard sentences, and dissolving of doubts, were found in the same Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar: now let Daniel be called, and he will shew the interpretation.

Daniel was exactly that—an individual who was able to dissolve doubts. Daniel, it is significant to see, was not at the godless feast, as the wife of Nebuchadnezzar was not. But Daniel, 87 years of age at this time, having lived long in captivity as a glowing testimony to his Lord, came when he was called to be of whatever service he could be to his God in this place where God had placed him so many years before as a young man.

Daniel Arrives to Interpret the Writing

In verse 17, Daniel gave his testimony to the king:

Daniel 5:

17Then Daniel answered and said before the king, Let thy gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation.

What a difference! Do you remember when Daniel stood before Nebuchadnezzar and explained the meaning of the tree dream? Daniel said, “Oh, King, may this happen to your enemies and not to you.” Daniel had been so hurt at what he saw was going to happen to Nebuchadnezzar that he had remained silent for a period of time.

But he did not have this same respect for Belshazzar. Belshazzar had flaunted his rebellion in the face of God and man and was not due any type of respect.

Daniel said, “All I will do is to tell you the meaning of the words that your wise men and astrologers cannot tell.”

When we say that Daniel could tell the meaning of the words that the wise men and astrologers could not tell, we do not mean to suggest to you that these wise men could not read these Aramaic words. They were familiar to them. We mean that they could not tell what they meant. Written on the wall were not complete sentences, but three words—one of them repeated, making four in all. Look at those words with me in verse 25:

Daniel 5:

25And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.

Reading Without Understanding

If we were to read just the words without their meaning, we would see exactly what the wise men and astrologers saw. We would read in English, “Numbered, numbered, weighed, divided.”

Just suppose, for purposes of illustration, that you should see a hand writing those four words on the wall here. Would you know what they meant? You wouldn't know what they meant. Oh, you could read the words, and if someone said to you, “Do you know what they mean?”, you could say, “Well, I can read them, but I don't know what they mean.” That is the spirit in which the astrologers and soothsayers failed to understand what was written on the wall.

But Daniel understood because the Spirit of God dwelt in him; the Holy Spirit revealed to him the significance of these individual words, and Daniel put the meaning into a sentence.

The Kingdom Numbered and Finished

The first word, as it is explained in sentence form, is in verse 26:

Daniel 5:

26This is the interpretation of the thing: Mene; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it.

This is the interpretation of the thing. “MENE, twice written, Belshazzar, means that God hath numbered thy kingdom and finished it,” said Daniel.

What did that mean? Belshazzar understood what it meant; he was quite willing to accept the interpretation that Daniel gave. Belshazzar knew that God was saying when He wrote this word on the wall that He had counted the days that the kingdom of Babylon would exist and those days had come to an end. That is what it meant. God had allotted a certain number of days for the existence of the kingdom of Babylon, and those days had come to an end.

Filling Up the Cup of Iniquity

May I pause in our discussion long enough to emphasize that this illustrates a principle which is written in the Word of God and which we must understand if we are to understand God's dealings with the human race.

Turn to chapter 15 of the book of Genesis and notice what God had to say to Abraham. God had promised Abraham that his descendants would inherit the land of Palestine. He said, “One of these days they will be able to move in.” Abraham was just like you or me, and he said, “Good! Let's move in right now!” God said, “No. Your people cannot move into the land of Palestine until the people who are in the land of Palestine have forfeited their right to it.”

Sometimes we get real alarmed at the injustice of God. We say, “Why would God take a piece of land away from one people and give it to another? That is partiality.” Well, that isn't the way it happened. God took the land of Palestine away from the Amorites and gave it to the Israelites because the Amorites had forfeited their right to it. In Genesis, chapter 15, verse 16, we read:

Genesis 15:

16But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.

They have not yet seen the extent to which the land must be forfeited, but they will.

The Age of Grace in which we live today is presented in the Word of God in exactly the same way. Because people refuse to recognize that, they are confused as to what God's program is for this present hour.

God's Program For This Present Hour

Turn, please, to the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 15. When the apostles first went out with the message of God, they were mistaken in their approach. They felt that if the individuals who received the Lord Jesus Christ as personal Savior and Lord were going to please God, they would have to adopt the various tenets of Judaism which they themselves had been following for quite some time. They had quite a discussion in Jerusalem about it and they came to the conclusion that the truth must be presented to the people. So in Acts, chapter 15, verse 13, we read:

Acts 15:

13And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me:
14Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.
15And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written,
16After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up:
17That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.

We will stop our reading right there and notice as we turn back to Daniel, chapter 5, that James said, “Peter has explained to us the attitude that we ought to have toward these things.” God, in the Age of Grace, which began with the Cross, is taking a people out of the world for His name. That is the business of the Church today—not to convert the world, but to take individuals here and there and yonder and to lead them to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. When the last person, whom God knows about according to His foreknowledge, is saved, this age will end, and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself will return. This is a distinct principle in the Word of God.

Turn to Daniel, chapter 9, and notice that Daniel had been reading in the book of Jeremiah concerning the return of the children of Israel from the land of Babylon in his day. He noticed that they were not particularly interested in returning to the land. They were settled too well where they were; so he began to pray that God would stir them and that God would enable them to obey Him in the time that was allotted to them. When Daniel prayed in this manner, God sent Daniel some additional information.

God's Calendar for Israel

In verse 25, He said:

Daniel 9:

25Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
26And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.

Stop right there and don't be worried about all the details that we have read because we will be talking about that when we come to chapter 9. But let me say to you that in this paragraph God said that from the time the children of Israel should return from the Babylonian captivity, of which Daniel was a part, until the Lord Jesus Christ Himself should come as a baby would be 483 years. You see, God deals with people according to specific times. When God said to Belshazzar, “The kingdom in which thou art has been numbered and finished,” He was telling him that the time had run out. “The days are just about gone,” God said.

Other Prophecies Concerning Babylon

Here is the thrilling thing to me. This is not only a principle that is emphasized in the Word of God. These words which were written on the wall were also a direct fulfillment of the prophetic Word. You should not attempt to study the subject of Babylon without being familiar with the passages of Scripture which deal in detail with Babylon in the Word of God.

Let me give them to you, and you might like to read them as you have time. You should read very carefully Jeremiah, chapters 50 and 51. You should read Jeremiah, chapter 27. You should read Isaiah, chapters 13 and 14. You should read Revelation, chapters 17 and 18—that is, if you are going to be well read on the subject of Babylon.

Rule of Nebuchadnezzar Foretold

Turn with me, please, to Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 27:

1In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah came this word unto Jeremiah from the Lord, saying,
2Thus saith the Lord to me; Make thee bonds and yokes, and put them upon thy neck,
3And send them to the king of Edom, and to the king of Moab, and to the king of the Ammonites, and to the king of Tyrus, and to the king of Zidon, by the hand of the messengers which come to Jerusalem unto Zedekiah king of Judah;
4And command them to say unto their masters, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Thus shall ye say unto your masters;
5I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground, by my great power and by my outstretched arm, and have given it unto whom it seemed meet unto me.
6And now have I given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant; and the beasts of the field have I given him also to serve him.

Let us stop for a moment and notice what we have read. Some messengers had come to Zedekiah, King of Israel, from the land of the Ammonites, from the land of Zidon, and from the land of Tyrus, to ask him to ally himself with them as they made war against Nebuchadnezzar. Zedekiah consulted Jeremiah about it. Jeremiah consulted God about it, and God said, “You tell Zedekiah this is My message. You put some yokes on these messengers that have come. You bind their hands and tie their feet and you send them back home. You say to them that this is what God intends for you and for all the surrounding nations because I, God, have given into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, all of you nations. And you wonder if I have a right to do that?”

Jeremiah 27:

5I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground, by my great power and by my outstretched arm, and have given it unto whom it seemed meet [good] unto me.

God said then, “And for the present, I have given it to Nebuchadnezzar.”

Length of Babylonian Rule Foretold

That is what we have been reading about in the first few chapters in the book of Daniel. But I have asked you to turn here primarily for what is in verse 7, for this is where we find that this thing that happened on the night of revelry was indeed a fulfillment, and may I say a meticulous fulfillment, of the Word of God. In verse 7, we read:

Jeremiah 27:

7And all nations shall serve him, and his son, and his son's son, until the very time of his land come: and then many nations and great kings shall serve themselves of him.

Do you see what that verse is saying? Hundreds of years before Nebuchadnezzar was even in power, God said, “I'm going to give the kingdoms surrounding Nebuchadnezzar's territories to him, and Babylon will have dominion over those kingdoms until his son, Belshazzar, ascends the throne.”

Belshazzar is on the throne in chapter 5 of the book of Daniel. If you have been reading this chapter, you know that on that night Belshazzar died, and the kingdom of Babylon was given to the Medes and the Persians.

Isaiah Foretells of Babylonian Rule

Turn for another illustration of what we are talking about to Isaiah, chapter 13. We won't take time to read the whole chapter, but we know that it is related to judgment upon Babylon because it begins with the words:

Isaiah 13:

1The burden of Babylon, which Isaiah the son of Amoz did see.

Whenever you notice a passage of Scripture beginning with the word burden , you know that the theme of the message is going to be one of judgment. Notice verse 17 of this passage; it is still talking about judgment upon Babylon and how it will occur:

Isaiah 13:

17Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, which shall not regard silver; and as for gold, they shall not delight in it.
18Their 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.

This passage of Scripture even names, long before it came to pass, the people who will invade the city of Babylon. Notice verse 19:

Isaiah 13:

19And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.

We say to you as we ask you to turn back to Daniel, chapter 5, this statement which Daniel made as he interpreted the words, “MENE, MENE,” as they were written on the wall, was based upon an eternal principle and was a fulfillment of the prophetic Word.

Babylon is Given to the Medes and Persians

I am going to ask that you notice the last word. Glance down at verse 28, where we hear Daniel interpret the meaning of the third word:

Daniel 5:

28Peres; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.

Remember, now, the word that was written on the wall was DIVIDED . Belshazzar said, “What does that mean?” Daniel, when he interpreted, said, “It means that your kingdom is divided”—that is, “it is taken away from you and given to the Medes and Persians.”

But if you are observant, you will notice that when Daniel read the third word, he read an entirely different word from that written on the wall. On the wall was written the word UPHARSIN . But when Daniel read it, he read the word PERES . People who delight to find mistakes in the Bible tell us that this is another illustration. It is not. It is an illustration of the accuracy of God and His Word. The word PERES is another form, grammatically speaking, of the word UPHARSIN , which would be difficult to bring into English literally except by way of illustration.

The word UPHARSIN said, “Your kingdom is going to be taken away from you.” It was future. But by the time Daniel read it—when it was written on the wall, it said, “Thy kingdom will be taken from you”—things had changed and Daniel said, “Thy kingdom is taken away from you.” In the time during which all the speaking was going on and the astrologers had been called in and the queen mother had come and finally Daniel had been located, the night had worn away, and the enemy was already in the city gates. This is how accurate God's Word is, and how meticulously God fulfills the Word of prophecy.

Do you remember reading in Isaiah, chapter 13, that it was the Medes who were going to be the victors and conquerors of the city? When Daniel read the message, he said exactly the same thing.

Foretelling the Name of Babylon's Conqueror

I would like for you to turn with me to Isaiah, chapter 45, and notice another prophecy which speaks to our hearts and which should encourage us as to the accuracy of God's Word and its thorough dependability in relation to details. Keep in mind that we are talking to you about fulfilled prophecy. If we are talking to you about fulfilled prophecy, and you can see the assurance of that, you should be encouraged to believe that the prophecies that are yet unfulfilled will be fulfilled.

Isaiah 45:

1Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut;
2I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron:
3And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the Lord, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.
4For Jacob my servant's sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me.

Go down to verse 13, where we read, concerning this man, Cyrus:

Isaiah 45:

13I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways: he shall build my city, and he shall let go my captives, not for price nor reward, saith the Lord of hosts.

In the first four verses of chapter 45, you will notice a reference to several things. Of course, it is interesting to notice how the loins of the king were loosed. Remember, as we read in chapter 6, that is exactly what happened. But more practically, you will notice in the last part of verse 1:

Isaiah 45:

1Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut;

Then will you notice in verse 2:

Isaiah 45:

2I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron:

Cyrus Enters Babylon

This is the prophecy as to the manner in which the city of Babylon would fall. Do you remember that I told you when we began our discussion that Belshazzar and all of his lords and ladies felt secure in the midst of the city? You can understand why they would. It would be very, very difficult for anybody to get over that wall. Remember? I told you that Cyrus and his army had been outside the city walls waiting three months. They were not idle while they were waiting. While they were waiting, they dug a ditch about the city. The people in the city of Babylon laughed at them. What did they think they could do with that ditch, with walls of the city as they were? But on the night about which we have been reading, after everybody got busy at the party and forgot about what was going on, Cyrus and his men slipped down to the Euphrates River which, remember, cut diagonally across the city of Babylon, and they diverted the Euphrates River into the ditches which they had dug. They walked in the bed of the river under the wall, diagonally across the city, and they were not hindered in any way.

Remember, along that river there was a wall that was intersected at proper places by great brass, two-leafed gates so that individuals could bring their merchandise down to the river, put it on boats and the ships could go on out, but no one who came in on the river could get into the city. That night while Belshazzar and all of his people were drunk and celebrating this Babylonian feast, historians say the gate of each one of those streets on the river was left open by accident. Cyrus and his armies dashed down the streets (25 of them) and completely conquered the city.

God Is Careful To Fulfill His Word

I want to suggest to you that it was not by accident. I want to suggest to you that God planned it that way because that is exactly what He foretold in the prophecy of Isaiah many years before it occurred. Look at Isaiah, chapter 45, verse 1, again:

Isaiah 45:

1Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut;

He said that on that day, those gates would not be closed. He didn't tell us the reason, and we don't know the reason, other than that historians say that the gatekeepers wanted to be in on the party, too, and they left their posts, got drunk, and forgot to close the gates when the sun set.

This is the manner in which God meticulously fulfilled the prophetic Word. Beloved, if God's Word has not been fulfilled, it will be.

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