Caught by Surprise
by Edwin M. Cotto
INTRO: The Johnstown Flood. 2,209 people died. Bodies found 350 miles away (as Gainesville to Miami Beach). Father looking through his window, held his daughter on his couch, as the flood took them away. Caught by surprise.
BODY: Unpack the feast of Belshazzar. During that time there was a Babylonian celebration of the New Year in honor of Marduck. Sexual hymns were sung, drunken festivities.
POINT 1: Read Daniel 5:1 – Babylonian New Year lasted for 7 to 11 days:
1. Who was Belshazzar? Grandson of Nebuchadnezzar, ruled with his father Nabunidus (see implication in 5:7)
2. Belshazzar means “Bel protect the king.” Bel = Merodach.
3. The gods Merodach and Sin (Suen) were similar gods of vegetation and fertility – sexual.
4. Compare verse 1 with Jeremiah 51:39, Isaiah 21:5.
5. Read Daniel 5:2-4 – drunken festival – sacrilegious acts – praising heathen gods, singing sexual songs.
6. Jeremiah 51:44-46 → RUMORS – verse 39 → FEAST/DRUNK – verse 57 → DRUNK.
7. History says they knew Persia was conquering nations – prepared for a siege – Euphrates river flowing through it.
8. They were not worried about a thing!
9. Would Persia conquer Babylon? Read Daniel 2:39, Isaiah 21:2, Jer. 51:39.
10: But how? Babylon is walled in, with provisions to last years. BEFORE WE GO THERE:
POINT 2: Read Daniel 5:5-9 – Vision of the Writing on the Wall:
1. Daniel comes into the scene – He is well known for being a “man of God” (verse 11).
2. Reminds him of Nebuchadnezzar’s past – Daniel 5:22.
3. Read Daniel 5:25 – These words were units of weight used for money. Like saying “dollar, dollar, penny and half-dollar.” Mene (numbering) Tekel (weighing) Peres (dividing).
4. Interpretation – read verses 26-28. JUDGMENT
5. CAUGHT BY SURPRISE! – READ VERSE 30 and JEREMIAH 50:24 – the whole city was surprised as well!
6. GOD LOVED BELSHAZZAR! Weighed in the balances implies God was not quick to condemn him!
7. Will you be caught by surprise? Frivolous activities, mind absorbed, prohibited locations, drinking/drugs
POINT 3: Persia conquers Babylon:
1. How did he do it? The only thing that could go in and out was the river Euphrates.
2. The Persian King redirected and dispersed the river (Herodotus says he was angry that his horse died in it)
3. Read Jeremiah 51:11-14 – Allusions made to the rivers of Babylon and the invading army of the Medes (verses 13-14).
4. ILLUSTRATION: Ever felt like you knew something bad was coming but played it cool? Gabriel’s Story.
5. How many of us know that Jesus is coming and we DON’T GET RIGHT WITH GOD??? Wars, Rumors of Wars, etc.
4. Read Jeremiah 51:30-32 – News comes to Belshazzar that the city is taken! – the passages are blocked!
5. Half the city fell before the rest of the city was aware of what happened.
POINT 4: Past lessons are for us in the last days – Read Romans 15:4 and 1 Cor. 10:11 (ask two people to read aloud)
1. THIS STORY IS FOR US IN THE LAST DAYS (1 Corinthians 10:11).
2. BELSHAZZAR and DANIEL represent TWO CLASSES of people in the last days.
3. READ Luke 17:26-37 – CAUGHT BY SURPRISE!
4. READ: 1 Thess. 5:1-4 – CAUGHT BY SURPRISE!
5. But Daniel —–> Was not surprised, Cared not for worldly possessions, and did not fear man ——> See: Daniel 5:16-7.
6. Compare Daniel 6:4-7 with Revelation 14:4-5, 12 – Keep commandments implies a law against the commandment!
7. PROVE IT: See Revelation 13:15-17 – Beast = Nation (Dan. 7:17) and Speak/Cause = Laws – FORCED WORSHIP!
8. The same way DANIEL had a final message for Belshazzar, so WE will have a final message for the world (The 3 Angels of Revelation 14:6-12)
1. Back to 1 Thessalonians 5:5-11:
a) God’s people, like DANIEL, are NOT SURPRISED! – but the lost ARE SURPRISED!
b) God’s people, like DANIEL, are ALERT! – but the lost SLUMBER!
c) God’s people, like DANIEL, have FAITH and LOVE! – but the lost HAVE NONE!
d) God’s people, like DANIEL, have HOPE OF SALVATION – but the lost HAVE NONE!
e) God’s people, like DANIEL, are NOT appointed unto WRATH! – but the lost ARE!
2. Why? “FOR HE DIED FOR YOU.” You need not die.
3. ILLUSTRATION: Lovely surprise of my Mom on resurrection day.
4. Appeal: May 23rd, 1960 – 9.5 Magnitude Earthquake in Chile killed thousands:
a) Tsunami warning for Hilo, Hawahii.
b) Siren System installed 12 years earlier.
c) Tsunami traveling 400 mph towards Hilo.
d) Hilo warned 6 hours prior.
e) People ignored the warnings – went back to their lives – working, cooking, cleaning, studying, playing… etc.
f) Some people went to the beach!
g) Thirty-five-foot waves bent parking meters to the ground and wiped away most buildings.
h) A 10-ton tractor was swept out to sea.
i) 20-ton boulders making up the sea wall were moved 500 feet.
j) Sixty-one people died in Hilo.