Belshazzar's Feast and the Day of the Lord: Part 2

Daniel 5  •  11 min. read  •  grade level: 13
The day of the Lord as the statement implies, is associated with the Lord Jesus Christ, when (in contrast to man's day) His rights, claims, and glory will be established, and He will universally rule and act for God, as the second Man, the last Adam, the Antitype of David and Solomon. His throne, as largely stated in scripture, is to be set up in Jerusalem, and His dominion will extend to the ends of the earth. All will be brought to bow and own Him, and of His kingdom there will be no end. To Him will be no successor (as there was to Nebuchadnezzar), but as King of kings and Lord of lords, will He inaugurate, establish, and fulfill His perfect and blessed rule over this long-stricken earth, and at its close shall deliver up the kingdom to the God and Father, when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power (thus terminating the day of the Lord), and God shall be all in all. This do Psalms and Prophets and New Testament plainly reveal, concerning God's Christ, the Son of man; whose glories to come are as certain as were His sufferings and death in the past, and now also His exaltation and glory at the right hand of God. The wondrous day of glory for this sin-stricken scene, so largely foretold, awaits the great Redeemer to bring it in and establish it. Then and then only, will it be “the day of the Lord.”
How this day will be introduced is a question which scripture clearly answers, showing that it is by divine judgment and not by man, nor by the preaching of the gospel of God's grace as is supposed by many and largely taught. The opening prophecies of Isaiah, and of Joel, speak most distinctly of the day of the Lord, as a time of most solemn judgment, when man in all his pride and greatness shall be brought down, and Jehovah alone exalted in that day. Twice over does Isa. 2 declare this, when terrified man (in character with the lords and nobles of Belshazzar) “shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of Jehovah and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth.” Then all idols of silver and gold, which man has made for himself to worship, will be cast to the moles and to the bats; then will men be made to tremble and quake, in a fuller and wider sense than at Belshazzar's feast. Joel 2 states, “The day of Jehovah cometh, for it is nigh at hand; a day of darkness and of. gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness”; “for the day of Jehovah is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?”
Evidently this scripture treats (as do indeed the prophets generally) of the day of the Lord as in special connection with the Jewish nation and their Messiah; but in the Book of Daniel we find predicted, in his early prophecies and interpretations, the rise and fall of the Gentile kingdoms in responsibility to the God of heaven. Not only the judgment and loss of Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom but the final smiting of the great image by the stone breaking all to pieces to be found no more, for the Stone no longer hidden will become “a great mountain and fill the whole earth.” That this refers to Christ and His coming kingdom to be established by His judgment of living men on the earth as the prelude to universal blessing under His rule, should be evident to every student of prophecy. To this, chap. 7 gives plain testimony, and presents us with the twofold titles of Christ as the Ancient of days, and Son of man, to whom is given “dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages, should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” The Lord Himself in taking the title of Son of man speaks openly in Matt. 24 of His “coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory,” in judgment, and for the gathering of His elect (Israel), in view of His glorious kingdom. So also when asked by the high priest whether He was the Christ the Son of God, Jesus said unto him, “Thou hast said; nevertheless I say unto you, hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of power coming in the clouds of heaven” (Matt. 27). Yet, must He know rejection “and have nothing” (Dan. 9:26 margin, John 1:11), before this time of coming glory. Man metes out to Him as “King of the Jews” the cross; yet even there a dying malefactor is made to give testimony to His precious Person and coming kingdom, as he learns the grace and love of His heart to fit him by His death and shed blood, to be with Him in the heavenly Paradise. There the Son of man, the rejected King, is hid with God, awaiting on high the moment when He shall receive His kingdom, and return to establish the day of the Lord.
Meanwhile, for nineteen centuries the gospel has been preached by the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, His mission being to take out of a condemned world a people for salvation, and glory with the heavenly Man, Christ Jesus, as heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, and given as His beloved to suffer for His sake during this day of man's assumed rights and honors, in the knowledge that we shall reign with Him in the day of the coming kingdom. The two Epistles to the Thessalonians treat conspicuously and definitely of the return of the Lord Jesus, and reveal to us His coming in the air to catch up His saints to be with and like Himself in heavenly glory, as also to bring them with Him when He shall come to the earth for His reign in the day of its glory. These saints were converted to wait for God's Son from heaven; a hope so bright in their souls with its possibility of realization before death overtook any, that the passing away of some aroused concern whether such would share the future reign. This the Lord by the apostle graciously clears up, writing by the Spirit to show that those who had fallen asleep would certainly come with Christ, when God brings Him back from heaven, to rule in His established kingdom and glory. Hence they were not to sorrow as those without hope, “for if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep through Jesus will God bring with Him.” How this can be is revealed by the precious and significant parenthesis which follows— “for this we say unto you in the Lord's word, that we, the living who remain to the coming of the Lord, shall not anticipate those fallen asleep; for Himself the Lord, with an assembling shout, with archangel's voice and with trump of God, shall descend from heaven,” when the dead and living saints would he caught up together in the clouds, to meet their Lord in the air, to be forever with Him. This fact blessedly settled, the coming with Christ is resumed in the following chapter (1 Thess. 5) respecting the day of the Lord and its manner of introduction, which saints are called to know perfectly, and should assuredly declare as clearly as the handwriting at Belshazzar's feast. This appeared suddenly, to the terror of the king and his guests, when all seemed hilarity and peace. So, too, will the day of the Lord come as a thief in the night, “for when they, (not we) shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them.” Thus the poor world that was left in darkness when “the Light of the world” departed is doomed to judgment as pronounced at the cross of Christ, to be executed at His return. The world's night then began, and its darkness has continued, and is increased by the church and the world shaking hands, loud in its profession of present riches and glory, but without the pure gold tried in the fire, having a name to live and yet dead.
Church and state with attractive cups of gold, under the name and banner of the cross, may do for man, deceived under the name of Christian, in boastful contrast to the heathen without God: but God is not mocked, and He has appointed a day in which He will judge the present habitable earth in righteousness, no less than the professing church as Babylon the Great (Rev. 18) with all its boast of treasures, for in “one hour will her judgment come.”
Thank God, grace continues to work in souls to own their need of life, salvation and peace, through faith in the death and shed blood of the one and only Savior. He who came the first time to settle once and forever the question of sin by the mighty sacrifice of Himself, will appear the second time to those believing, or looking for Him, apart from sin unto salvation. Such belong to the coming day of glory, being children of light and of day; therefore are they enjoined not to sleep, like the poor worldling and professor, but to be sober, putting on the breast-plate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by the Lord Jesus Christ: who died for us that whether we wake or sleep we should live together with Him.” The apostle James declares that “the coming of the Lord draweth nigh;” therefore are we to wait in patience having the heart stablished. But in keeping with what Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, Peter affirms emphatically that “the Lord is not slack concerning His promise,” whatever the poor worldling or skeptical reasoner may say about things continuing as they did in the past. The Lord is long-suffering and, blessed be His name, as a Savior God, He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” Unlike the handwriting of Dan. 5 revealing judgment without remedy, grace now lingers with its “whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely,” and so be saved.
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night. Further, the apostle not only testifies to the opening day of judgment for “the living,” but to its awful close, “when the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat; the earth also, and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” Then, as we learn elsewhere, shall follow the judgment of “the dead” before the great white throne. Thus the unerring word of God speaks in language more solemn than at Belshazzar's feast, and all who heed it not, shall not escape, either the judgment at the beginning, or that at the end, when the dead great and small shall stand before the throne, to find their names not written in the book of life, and themselves judged out of the things written in the books “according to their works.” All true believers, as having eternal life in Christ, are already free from judgment, and possess a living hope in the expectation of their Lord's return to receive them unto Himself. Instead of dread, at the dissolution of heaven and earth, we who have believed can with assurance say, “nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” These plain scriptural facts may well have their voice for us who look for such things that we may indeed “be found of Him in peace, without spot and blameless,” at His coming. And for the worldly professors of to-day—so unerringly described beforehand in Holy Writ as “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;” as “having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof “we would earnestly pray that the solemn warning of Belshazzar's feast with its present counterpart of religious pride and human glory may be used of God, in this His day of long-suffering and salvation, to arouse the careless and indifferent to true repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ; that so, fleeing to the only refuge now, they may. escape His wrath, “when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and on them that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” “For behold, now is a right acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”