Nebuchadnezzar was the father (or perhaps just the predecessor) of Belshazzar. The new emperor invited 1000 of his lords with all their wives and concubines to an event where the guests were drinking wine with the highest ruler in Babylon. Belshazzar called for his servants to bring the holy vessels of Israel’s God to aid them in their celebration. The gathered assembly not only “drank wine” with these objects taken from the temple in Jerusalem, they also “praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone.”
Suddenly “the fingers of a human hand appeared” and wrote a message from God on the wall that no one could understand. Belshazzar was terrified. He called for all his wise men to give him the correct meaning of the letters, but “they could not read the writing or make known to the king the interpretation.”
At the suggestion of the queen, Daniel was called and offered a great reward to make known the message that God was bringing to Belshazzar. Daniel had no interest in any compensation, but he was able to speak important words with great boldness and clarity at just the right moment. The Lord had “numbered the days” remaining in the reign of Belshazzar. He could have learned from the events that had taken place in Nebuchadnezzar’s life, but instead he had been “weighed in the balances” by the Judge of all the earth “and found wanting.” The kingdom of Babylon would be “divided and given to the Medes and the Persians.”
The Babylonian officials did not have to wait very long to find out just how accurate Daniel’s words were. “That very night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was killed.” Darius the Mede immediately took his place.
God rules over all, and He reveals His plans according to His own purposes. It is always dangerous to take what the Lord has set apart as special and to use it as something common. In the New Testament world, we have no inanimate sacred vessels. Christ Himself and the people of the worldwide church who bear His Name have taken the place of every sacramental treasure. We have been washed with His blood and filled with the Spirit of God.
Those who defile the Name of Jesus or abuse His treasured bride will one day have to answer to the Lord God Almighty. We are not objects that belong to depraved and idolatrous men. We have been created in the image of God and purchased by the sacrifice of the Lamb. We are saints of the Most High God. He will protect us and defend us forever from those who hate His beloved people.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
O God, we thank you for the gift of the greatest King of all human history. Not every ruler on earth is one of the best among men. Some are exceedingly wicked, foolish, and oppressive. They come for a season and then they are gone. The time comes when they discover that their days are numbered. They learn that they have been found wanting, and their authority is taken from them. How are we to submit to wicked governors? We know that we must worship You only. We cannot do those things that would be against Your commandments just to have peace with those who are powerful. We cannot avoid duties to You just to have safety among those who would demand our absolute devotion. Though these leaders may have the power to kill, they cannot cast us into hell. We will not fear them above You. Help us to be faithful stewards of any authority we have been granted during our brief time in this fading world. May we use what You have given us to honor You, for we know that we may be called to account for our lives even this very day.