Read: Daniel 5:1-31
Then all the king’s wise men came in, but they could not read the writing or tell the king what it meant. So King Belshazzar became even more terrified and his face grew more pale. His nobles were baffled. Daniel 5:8&9
King Belshazzar (son of Nebuchadnezzar) is in the middle of a huge party – his wives and concubines, and a thousand of his nobles are feasting and celebrating in a big way. As if the grandeur of the party was not enough, King Belshazzar decides he wants to really knock the socks off his guests and orders the “gold and silver goblets that Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken from the temple in Jerusalem, so that the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines might drink from them.” As they drank “they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone.” Cue the horror movie theme music – things at this party are about to get real.
Really, this scene could be straight out of a horror movie. One minute they’re on top of the world, arrogance and invincibility off the charts – and the next minute they’re watching a human hand write something on the wall. The hand itself would be horrifying enough, but I think what really got to the king was that he couldn’t read the writing – it was in a language he couldn’t understand.
In the midst of this horror and confusion, Daniel is summoned and is able to read the writing on the wall. It says, “God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end (he actually says this twice – yikes!). You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting. Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” And surely enough, that night, King Belshazzar is killed and his kingdom taken over.
I picture this scene and I can feel my chest get tight and my heart in my throat just like when the kids run to that empty cabin in the horror movie – NEVER run to the empty cabin! But I digress.
Belshazzar was living in complete rebellion towards God. His arrogance was off the charts. I’d be willing to bet God gave him plenty of warnings, plenty of chances to turn from his sin – but his heart was so hard that even when he “saw the writing on the wall”, he couldn’t figure out what it meant.
I don’t ever want to be so out of touch with God – so arrogant and full of myself – that when God sends a word of correction, I can’t even figure out what He’s saying. I spent my first 15 years far from God – it wasn’t until I saw my sin and my need for His unconditional love that I began to understand His language, His words of love and correction.
But I still find this chapter in Daniel downright scary. It’s a warning to me to not become complacent, arrogant or hard-hearted – to examine my heart and set it before God so He can do His purifying work in it. To remain in intimate friendship with God so when he speaks to me (or writes on the wall) I can understand His language. Like Daniel, I want to be able to live a life that honors God in the midst of a culture that dishonors Him. And I want to help others to draw near to God and learn to understand His language, but I can’t do that if I’m not experiencing a close relationship with Him.
Prayer: Dear Lord, I thank You for Your steadfast love, for Your patient forgiveness and for inviting me to “learn” Your language. Here is my heart Lord, please search it and make me aware of the things and attitudes that need to go. I want to honor you with my life. I love you Lord! In Jesus’ name, Amen.