Belshazzar’s feast and Daniel’s 70 weeks
The feast made by Belshazzar for a thousand of his princes occurred in the night Babylon fell to the forces of Cyrus. During the feast, the king of Babylon, his wives, and princes, and concubines drank wine from the vessels taken from the temple of God.
Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand.
Belshazzar, 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.
Then 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.
John refers to the wine of Babylon metaphorically. It represents false doctrine, and superstition. He said “the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication … all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” [Revelation 17:2; 18:3]
The wine of Babylon is pagan religion, and to drink it from the golden vessels of the temple is a figure of pagan superstition served as though it were the revelation of God. In worldly religion, pagan beliefs are represented as Christian, and as the gospel of Christ.
During the feast, Belshazzar saw a mysterious hand writing on the wall. The wise men of Babylon could not read it, or provide an explanation. The queen recommended sending for Daniel.
The writing was interpreted for the king by Daniel. It consisted of four words. Daniel said the words were, “Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin,” which meant “numbered, numbered, weighed, divided.” These words seem to correspond to units of currency: the mina, shekel, and the pares, which is half of a mina.
Within a short time after the feast of Belshazzar, Daniel was given the revelation contained in the prophecy of the 70 weeks, that constitutes Daniel chapter 9. In the prayer included in the chapter, Daniel refers to the 70 years of Jeremiah’s prophecy, and the curse of the law of Moses, which alludes to Leviticus 26. Since the 70 weeks are given in three sections, these together with the period of the exile amount to four distinct time periods.
Four periods of seven times are outlined in Leviticus 26. The four words interpreted by Daniel at Belshazzar’s feast may be associated with the four time periods of prophecy, which consist of the exile in Babylon, and the three sections of the 70 weeks. These are called “the times of the Gentiles.”
When the words written on the wall at Belshazzar’s feast are related to each of the four periods of seven times, the last one corresponds to the term “divided.” This was significant for the fate of Babylon, and also for understanding the prophecy of the 70 weeks, as illustrated in the table below. One part of the 70th week is the ministry of Jesus; the other is the whole age of the church. Just as Babylon was divided, and was given to the Medes and Persians after its capture by Cyrus, in the whole age of the church, there is a division, or a separation, between those who serve and obey Christ, and those who do not. Those who belong to Christ will take possession of the kingdoms of the world, when the times of the Gentiles end.
|Leviticus 26||words on the wall||70 weeks|
|first seven times||numbered||In the exile in Babylon, Jews and Gentiles were mingled together. The period of exile corresponds to the 70 years of Jeremiah. It ended in 538 BC, with the decree of Cyrus.|
|second seven times||numbered||7 weeks of leap years of 13 months, that span 133 years; 538-405 BC. During this period the Jews returned from Babylon and built the temple.|
|third seven times||weighed||62 weeks or 434 years; 405 BC-28 AD. In this period, the Jews were tested.|
|fourth seven times||divided||1 week. The 70th week is divided; it consists of the three and a half year ministry of Jesus, plus the time, times and a half, which represents the whole age of the church.|
The first half of the 70th week is the ministry of Jesus; the last half week is symbolic of the whole age of the church. During the last half week, the saints are called out of the world. Jesus confirms his covenant with them, and builds a new spiritual temple. When this temple is made desolate, the Spirit is poured out upon it; “that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.” [Daniel 9:27]