The Feast of Belshazzar, Rembrandt
“…Belshazzar…you have lifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven. And the vessels of his house have been brought in before you, and you and your lords, your wives, and your concubines have drunk wine from them..the God in whose hand is your breath, and whose are all your ways, you have not honored.” (Daniel 5:22-23)
In chapter 4 we see Daniel as an example of showing compassion to our enemies, desiring repentance and forgiveness for king Nebuchadnezzar, even if his sin causes pain and harm to God’s people. Here he seems more than happy (he definitely is less reluctant) to pronounce God’s judgment on a king.
Is Daniel being less respectful to King Belshazzar than King Nebuchadnezzar? If so, is this related to Belshazzar using the cups dedicated for the service of Yahweh for a toast to toast his own gods? What does blasphemy look like today? Is it ever appropriate to be disrespectful respectful to people?
About Corey Sharpe
Where do we get our beliefs?
Three theological perspectives have significantly shaped my Christian identity: Evangelicalism, the early Methodist tradition and liberation theology.
From my coming to faith in a Baptist church and throughout my education in a Baptist school and college, I was nurtured by convictions that emphasized a spiritual rebirth, a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and the centrality of the Bible. Even when I disagree with certain aspects of evangelicalism, it has deeply influenced my sense of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ.
My seminary studies spawned my interest in early Methodism, particularly its approach to spiritual formation. Its leaders were convinced that only a foundation of doctrine and discipline would lead to a meaningful transformation of the heart and mind. In other words, having the mind of Christ enables me to be more like Christ.
Life in a suburban culture obscures the increasing gap between the poor and rich, as well as the Bible’s close identification with the poor. My doctoral work in socio-cultural context exposed me to liberation theology, which helps me see redemptive history as a history of oppressed groups, written from the perspective of the powerless, about a God who is actively involved with the poor in their struggles.
I am now the pastor at Huntingtown United Methodist Church in Calvert County, Maryland. Together my wife and I are raising 4 young theologians.
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Daniel was delivering God’s message in both instances.
Look at the last verse in ch. 4:
“Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment:and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.”
Neb. is witnessing to God’s right to judge.
In ch. 5 Daniel pronounces:
“And thou his (Neb.) son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this….and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified.”
That statement seems to me to be Daniel’s observation of Bel.’s disrespect for God.
Should one be asking if Daniel is being respectful/ disrespectful? He is God’s messenger.
Today blasphemy still means disrespect for God. Jesus was accused of it but the “religious” leaders could not see that he was God.