Refusal to learn – Belshazzar

The white space between Daniel chapters 4 and 5 house a shift in the governing politics of Babylon. King Nebuchadnezzar is gone, along with all the life changing lessons he had learned from God. Babylon is now under the reign of Nebuchadnezzar’s son Belshazzar, exchanging humble faith towards God for drunken rebellion and idol worship.
Refusal to learn – Belshazzar
As is often the case, the younger generation quickly discard the lessons of their parents. In his alcohol  bolstered arrogance, Belshazzar commanded that the vessels of gold and of silver that Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken out of the temple in Jerusalem be brought, that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them (Daniel 5:2). While drinking wine from cups made for worship to Yahweh, they arrogantly praised their false gods.

And then the unthinkable happened. Immediately the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace… And the king saw the hand as it wrote. 6 Then the king’s colour changed, and his thoughts alarmed him; his limbs gave way, and his knees knocked together (Dan 5:5-6). Self-belief failed him, and it only took a little divine handwriting.

As none of the king’s scholars could translate or interpret the writing on the wall, King Belshazzar was greatly alarmed, and his colour changed, and his lords were perplexed (Dan 5:9). In the providence of God, the queen possessed a little more sense, who suggested that Daniel be called, and he will show the interpretation (Dan 5:12). It is the grace of a loving God that provides voices of wisdom to instruct sinners in the most perplexing times of life.

The fearfully desperate king promises Daniel great reward if he would read the writing and make known to me its interpretation (Dan 5:16). To which Daniel replied, let your gifts be for yourself, and give your rewards to another. Nevertheless, I will read the writing to the king and make known to him the interpretation (Dan 5:17). Daniel proceeded with humble confidence in God, reminding the king of the lessons learned by his father Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from among the children of mankind, and his mind was made like that of a beast, and his dwelling was with the wild donkeys. He was fed grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, until he knew that the Most High God rules the kingdom of mankind and sets over it whom he will (Dan 5:21).

Belshazzar chose to ignore these familiar lessons; he chose to ride high on pride and a sense of self-authority. He wilfully rejected humility, he rebelled against the Lord of Heaven, and he worshipped idols (Dan 5:22-23). So, God wrote on his wall for all to see, and Daniel explained it to Belshazzar. “MENE, MENE, TEKEL, and PARSIN.” God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end… you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting… your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians (Dan 5:25-28). Belshazzar rewarded Daniel, and that very night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was killed. 31 And Darius the Mede received the kingdom (Dan 5:30-31).

Belshazzar had exhausted the many gracious opportunities provided by God to humble himself before the God of Heaven as his father had. Now, on the other side of death, Belshazzar was confronted with judgement instead of grace. May we choose humility towards God, expressing humility towards others as we apply the lessons of those who have gone before us.

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