What’s God Writing on Your Wall?

Posted by Signal Mountain Church of Christ on Sunday, September 9, 2018

Daniel 4 and 5 give us the accounts of Nebuchadnezzar’s coming to faith and then his son (or grandson) Belshazzar’s fall.

Nebuchadnezzar’s pride had brought him under God’s punishment, but in his humiliation, Nebuchadnezzar came to recognize and bow to the Lord God.  Daniel 1-4 tells the account.  God used four faithful Jewish boys to influence this the mightiest king in the world to turn his attention to God until he finally fell before God in faith and a declaration of praise.  Listen to these words of Daniel 4:37.

I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just.  And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.

Daniel 5 begins with the name of another proud king, Belshazzar.

For a long time there was absolutely no historical record of Belshazzar and this became the basis for many liberal attacks on the authenticity of the book of Daniel. But in 1854 an archeologist named J. G. Taylor was exploring some ruins in southern Iraq for the British Museum and he came across several small cylinders. One of them contained a prayer for the long life and good health of Nabonidus, king of Babylon and for his eldest son Belshazzar.

Read Daniel 5:1-9  From Proud Party Animal to Pitiful Potentate.

v1-4

This Belshazzar is a descendant of Nebuchadnezzar.  In fact, from the text it looks like they are father and son.  This Belshazzar knew about Nebuchadnezzar’s humbling himself before the Lord, God of Israel. Yet, at this party with his nobles, wives and concubines, Belshazzar orders that the holy vessels from God’s temple, that had been brought back from Jerusalem, be brought to their party to drink toasts to the idols of Babylon.  It was a form of mockery of God.  It was a very unwise thing to do.  So… we find that Belshazzar and company mock the true and living God by defiling the holy vessels at a pagan drinking party and to adding insult to injury, they praise their false gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone.

v5-9

This pictures Belshazzar as pitiful, desperate, fearful and ignorant.  All his nobles are powerless to help him.  He calls on his best resources, the enchanters, astrologers and diviners.  These all come to his aid and prove useless.  Belshazzar has a haunting fear of doom, which is very accurate.  He’s terrified, powerless, and confused.  What a mood shift from just before the handwriting on the wall!  Belshazzar instinctively seems to realize his dangerous condition.  He calls for help from among his trusted advisers and gets zero.

How many times in the Bible do we see God giving warnings to those He is about to punish?  But, like the handwriting on the wall for Belshazzar, it also seems common that the message needs an interpreter.  And is it not true that for those who join with bad company there’s generally no one among them who can interpret the word of God to help?

Who do you turn to for guidance and counsel in life’s twists and turns and choices?  Who do you put your trust in?  Our currency says, “In God we trust.” For those who put their trust in God we have a great standard and guide by which to interpret life’s challenging choices.  God gives wisdom to those who seek Him and ask for guidance, does He not?  God even offers guidance for those who do not trust Him.  But will they listen? And who will they listen to?

Daniel 5:10-16

From Grandma’s Recommendation to Belshazzar’s Anticipation

The queen mentioned here may have been the last living wife of Nebuchadnezzar.  She didn’t come to the party but only heard the commotion when the text message appeared on the wall.  The queen recommends Daniel, the chief advisor to Nebuchadnezzar, whom the queen remembered well as one with amazing wisdom and understanding.

How is it that Belshazzar has forgotten Daniel?  We don’t even know where Daniel is living at this point, but he is close enough to be summoned by Belshazzar, so they bring in Daniel.  Belshazzar repeats the things the queen has said and that none of his advisors have been able to interpret the writing on the wall.  He offers Daniel what he values most, Power, Position, Prestige and Prosperity.  I mean, what more is there to want?  Right?  These are the things Babylonia loves and stands for.  Babylonia the great!  Right?  Belshazzar didn’t want a god that would humble him.  Belshazzar praises gods that represent his values and priorities, gods that let you do what you want and give you what you want.  He praises gods that endorse wild drinking parties and mocks the holy God of Israel who demands that we walk in humility, righteousness and mercy.

Let’s finish the reading and listen to Daniel’s response.

Daniel 5:17-31

From Daniel’s Explanation to Belshazzar’s Execution.

Vs 17-28 (repeat verses 22-23)

What did Daniel say?  First, Daniel told the king to keep his gifts and give them to someone else.  Belshazzar isn’t going to be able to buy his way out of this one.  He can’t bribe Daniel into giving him a comforting message.

Next, Daniel gives Belshazzar a little family history lesson. God made Nebuchadnezzar powerful and God humbled him until he gave God honor and praise.

Was Belshazzar just a clueless pagan king?  No. Did Belshazzar know about how God humbled Nebuchadnezzar and how Nebuchadnezzar came to declare his faith?  Yes,  he did, but he literally could not read the writing on the wall.  Neither could all his idol worshipping friends and so called wise men. As I told my grandkids in this Friday’s Bible class, The God of Israel sent a text message to king Belshazzar.  God sent the text, and it was in Hebrew, the language of the Jews.  It was also abbreviated.  “Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin.” It’s a riddle.  All three are measures: mene is a mina, tekel is a shekel, perez is a half-mina.  But they can also be translated “Measured, Measured, Weighed and Divided.”

Vs. 29-31 Daniel has spoken about how Belshazzar chose the proud seat of a mocker of God, even when he knew better.  He took the holy vessels of the Lord God and defiled them.  At the same time he praised the gods of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood and stone… and he paid for it with his life.

This very event occurred Saturday night, October 12, 539 b.c.

Everyone of us has only a certain number of days in this life.  All of us have been weighed in the scales and found wanting.  All of us will stand before the judge of all the earth and give account.

God can call any of us home at any time.  He gives us warning and instructions so we can be prepared for that day.

On September 6, 2018 at about 9:59 p.m., an off duty Dallas Police officer called police dispatch and said she was involved in a shooting at the apartments located at 1210 S. Lamar.

By all accounts, Botham Shem Jean was a man of deep faith with a “beautiful” and “powerful” singing voice.

Relatives, friends and fellow Christians from the U.S. to his native St. Lucia expressed shock Friday upon learning of the 2015 Harding University graduate’s tragic death.

Jean, 26, was fatally shot in Texas on Thursday night when an off-duty Dallas police officer entered his apartment, mistaking it for her own, authorities said.

He led singing often in HU Chapel and at the College Church of Christ in Searcy,” said Glenn Dillard, assistant vice president for enrollment management at Harding, a Searcy, Ark., university that is associated with Churches of Christ.

Preliminary information suggests that the officer arrived home in full uniform after working a full shift. The officer reported to the responding officers that she entered the victim’s apartment believing that it was her own. At some point, the officer fired her weapon striking the victim. Responding officers administered aid to the victim, a 26-year-old male, at the scene. The victim was then transported to the hospital and pronounced deceased.

 

 

What’s God Writing on Your Wall?