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The Judgment of Grace

In the fate of King Belshazzar, we see God's righteous judgment.
This sermon is part of the sermon series "Standing Your Ground". See series.

Chapter five of Daniel addresses the question of what would happen if you gave a party, and God crashed it. Nebuchadnezzar was no longer on the throne. A successor named Belshazzar ruled the land. One night Belshazzar hosted a great banquet when an unexpected and quite unusual guest appeared. The visitor was a disembodied set of fingers. In the sight of all the party revelers, the uninvited hand wrote a message on the palace wall. The king was so frightened the blood drained from his face, and his knees knocked. No one could explain the specter or interpret the message. The king's wise men and counselors were called. They were equally baffled. The king grew more worried and pale. Then the queen remembered Daniel.

"Oh king," she said, "do not be upset. Your predecessor, Nebuchadnezzar, called upon a man named Daniel to interpret dreams and solve riddles. This Daniel still lives in the kingdom. Ask him what the handwriting means." Belshazzar called Daniel. The prophet interpreted the message, but he did not calm the king. Daniel prophesied judgment.

Chapter five of Daniel becomes the flip-side of chapter four. In chapter four Daniel used King Nebuchadnezzar's conversion to affirm that the repentant reap the rewards of grace, however bleak their pasts. In this chapter Daniel uses King Belshazzar's sacrilege to declare that the rebellious reap the consequences of wrath, however secure their present. Two equally evil kings demonstrate two equally vital messages: God's complete pardon for the humble and God's sure judgment for the proud.

Hard words

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Bryan Chapell is the senior pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church in Peoria, Illinois.

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Sermon Outline:


I. Hard words

II. Human security won't last

III. Spiritual insulation won't work

IV. Grieve

V. Repent

VI. Grow in grace