Most of us find ourselves in situations where the name of God is mocked. This was happening at Belshazzar’s great feast described in the Book of Daniel, chapter 5.
Persia, under the military leadership of Cyrus at the time, was threatening Babylonia’s hegemony. Belshazzar was on Nebuchadnezzar’s throne. On the night of the Medo-Persian victory he was feasting, drinking from the vessels that had been brought from the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. Until a finger started writing on the wall.
In Daniel chapter 5, verse 25, we read: And this is the writing that was inscribed: Mene, Mene, Tekel, and Parsin.
Mene, Tekel, and Parsin were small weights, in descending order, used in the market place. Here they are metaphors for God’s justice. Daniel interpreted them, saying in effect, ‘Belshazzar, mene means your days are numbered; tekel, ‘weighed’, means God has weighed your life and found it short on goodness; parsin, means your kingdom is divided and given to others. Tonight God will remove both your kingdom and your life.’
Denying the obvious, Belshazzar commanded that Daniel be honored. But no last minute compliment to God’s man was going to alter God’s plan. Humility and repentance towards God were far from Belshazzar’s heart. That night he was slain and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom.
What Belshazzar failed to learn while he had the opportunity was that everyone is accountable to the God who made us all. It is only by God’s grace that we enjoy whatever good things, power or position we might have. Nebuchadnezzar had learned the lesson, but Belshazzar hadn’t.
As well as this warning, there is also encouragement for us: God will always have the last word. The writing was on the wall, not just for Belshazzar, but for everyone who thinks they can trample on the name of God with impunity.
Today Christianity is lampooned by television comedians, dismissed by the gurus of radio and marginalized in the corridors of political power. Many of us feel isolated in the office, in the professional world, in the classroom, and even in our family. But no matter what happens, we can be confident. ‘Be assured’, Daniel 5 tells us, ‘the writing is on the wall. God will have the last word.’
Reflect. Do you really believe that you are accountable to God – the Lord Most High? Do you carry this conviction into your prayers for others who mock your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ?
You may find it helpful to read Daniel, chapter 5 and Acts 17:22-31.
A Prayer. Lord God, our savior and our guide, make your love the foundation of our lives; so may our love for you express itself in our eagerness to do good for others. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
© John G. Mason