I was reading the Book of Daniel and was once again intrigued and quite frankly convicted as I read Daniel Chapter 5, which tells the sobering story of the ancient Babylonian King, Belshazzar.
In this short chapter, his life, his sins, and his sudden judgement by the God of Heaven and earth,
Is given to the ages for a reality reminder.
Belshazzar was a successor to the great King Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar once ruled the known world “as God had allowed,” according to the Prophet Daniel, who reminds us that God “removes rulers and sets up rulers.” When Nebuchadnezzar was “lifted up in pride,” Daniel describes the insanity that engulfed his life, and he became as a wild beast, eating grass and living in the fields until he once more acknowledged the true God of Heaven and earth. (Daniel, Chapter 4)
Now on the night portrayed in this painting, Belshazzar, in the drunken throes of a feast of debauchery and sin, took the “holy vessels” that had been taken from the House of God, when his predecessor Nebuchadnezzar had ransacked Jerusalem, and Belshazzar and his horde of godless leaders drank wine and worshipped idols that represented nonexistent gods.
It was in this orgy of delusion that the “fingers of a man’s hand” began to write clearly upon the wall of the feast hall in the palace. Belshazzar saw it and became saturated with fear, trembling like a dry leaf in the wind, sobered by the prospect of sudden and swift judgement. Now, none of the wise men, soothsayers, perverted academics, or royal advisors could read the writing. One of the aged queens from the days of Nebuchadnezzar remembered the man of God, the Prophet Daniel. Daniel was brought to the royal hall, and seeing the writing, immediately recognized his Father’s handwriting. The ancient words that were written were
The interpretation given by Daniel was this…
“God has numbered your kingdom and finished it”….”
You are weighed in the balances and found wanting”…..
”Your Kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”
It was the end of King Belshazzar. His simple Biblical epitaph reads thusly..”In that night was Belshazzar, the King of Babylon slain. And Darius the Mede took over the Kingdom at 62 years of age.”
Now there is a dearth of true leadership in the earth…. of honesty, integrity, compassion, and real integrity-based courage at every level of society. We see it glaringly in the political world, but it is just as real in academia, the media, and sadly even in the world of religion.
Men and women, in leadership and elsewhere, are behaving as if God is blind and will never hold them accountable. Even in the church world, we tolerate sin and behavior and vile lifestyles. The New Testament Church would “turn over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh that the soul might be saved.” I Cor.5:5
I realize this is not a popular train of thought or admonition. It is not meant to be. It is the warning of scripture. I fail miserably as a minister if I “fail to cry out.” The Bible says that watchmen who don’t warn have blood on their hands. (Ezekiel Chapter 33)
We are, as a nation, racing to judgement. A hand is writing upon the wall. A return to God and righteousness is our only hope. God still answers fervent prayer…God can still send a latter rain to grow a great harvest. There is still a little time…..very little.
Dr. David M. Griffis