During the life of Belshazzar, the son of Nebuchadnezzar one of the greatest kings that ever lived, the hand writing was written on the wall literally concerning the demise of his kingdom and his death. it was made known to him before it was too late, but he lacked the wisdom, foresight, and determination to do anything about it. Pride got in his way. What is it that guides the decisions that you make, is it the spirit of the age or the Spirit of God?
Pride is a human characteristic that can be so subtle as to avoid detection and yet so powerful as to effect complete destruction in the one who possess it. Throughout the Bible there are warnings about the sin of pride. Pride is the dominant sin in the kings of Daniel’s prophecy, and is in stark contrast to the humility produced by God in Daniel.
In the 5th chapter of Daniel’s prophecy we find the origin of the phrase “The handwriting is on the wall.” A literal hand wrote on the wall during a party that Belshazzar called, during which they drank wine from the sacred vessels that were meant to be dedicated to the one true God of Israel. The king called for the conjurers (astrologers), the Chaldeans (considered the wisest in the land) and the diviners (prophets) to interpret the meaning of the handwriting, but no one could give an answer to the king. Then the Queen, probably Belshazzar’s mother, told him about Daniel.
“There is a man in your kingdom in whom is a spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of your father, illumination, insight and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods were found in him …This was because an extraordinary spirit, knowledge and insight, interpretation of dreams, explanation of enigmas and solving of difficult problems were found in this Daniel.” (Daniel 5:11, 12)
Here is the interesting thing about Daniel, he received the same education in Babylon as all the other wise men. However, he alone could interpret the handwriting, because it was not through worldly instruction that he received great insight, discernment, and ability to interpret dreams and a completely alien language. One of the distinctions of a person after salvation is the spirit that guides his understanding. It is the Holy Spirit that imparts the mind of Christ to those He saves, and apart from Him there can be no intimate knowledge of the living God. As it is written in (1 Corinthians 2:12, 13).
“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.’
It is undeniable that we live in an age of great learning, but is the purpose of such learning designed to glorify God or merely to please and elevate men? During the last 800 years many good things have been brought to fruition, such as the removal of many earthly tyrants through the development of democracy. It is equally undeniable that democracy has given rise to a higher level of justice, as defendants are judged by their peers. However, the most grand accomplishments of men that are not done for God’s glory, without acknowledgement of His presence and dependent upon His power are without His blessing. “We are all like one who is unclean, all our so-called righteous acts are like a menstrual rag in your sight” (Isaiah 64:6). Education is good, but apart from God it can obtain no eternal benefit. Knowledge may be power, but apart from the new birth the most wise among us will put the Christ to death.
“Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:6-8)
One of the very distinguishing truths of the New Testament era is the way in which God used uneducated men to build His Church. “Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). With the formation of the Roman Catholic Church, however, a vast separation between clergy and laity began, from which even the true Church has never fully recovered.
Education does not prove that a man’s heart beats after God, and only God lovers are given to understand the true meaning of life. “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). God blesses sinful men in many wonderful ways all throughout their lives, because He (God) is no respecter of persons, and fulfills His holy will according to His transcendent wisdom and not according to a man’s deeds.
““But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:44, 45)
Daniel understood full well what his place was in the world; he was no longer a young teen just brought in to captivity, made a eunuch to better serve the king’s court. He was an older more mature man who had experienced the provisions of God in the presence of ungodly men. Obedience to God’s dietary laws, which were meant to separate him from worldliness, made him healthier than those who ate the king’s choicest foods. He witnessed His 3 friends, who were equally faithful to God, protected from a fire that proved to be fatal to the king’s guards. Daniel desired nothing from the king who could have given him anything that this world can provide. When Belshazzar offered Daniel possessions and power he replied, “Keep your gifts for yourself or give your rewards to someone else; however, I will read the inscription to the king and make the interpretation known to him” (Daniel 5:17). He was not unkind, unappreciative, or disagreeable to the king; he simply understood the generosity of the world always has a price attached to it, one he was unwilling to pay. He was seeking for a country not of this world (Hebrews 11), therefore, he could serve the king wholeheartedly without being brought into spiritual bondage to him.
On the other hand, no pun intended, Belshazzar allowed pride to so well up inside of him that he overlooked all that God taught his father, by humbling him and causing him to live like a beast of the field. Daniel confronted Belshazzar with the undeniable truth that his father’s witness removed any self-justification through ignorance concerning his idolatrous practice by drinking from the sacred vessels dedicated to God in the name of false god’s.
“Yet you, his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, even though you knew all this but you have exalted yourself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines have been drinking wine from them; and you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which do not see, hear or understand. But the God in whose hand are your life-breath and all your ways, you have not glorified.” (Daniel 5:22, 23).
From everyone who has been given much, much will be required (Luke 12:48).
Ever since Christ went to the cross the light of the gospel has been sent throughout the world. Men have always rejected the light of creation and conscience (Romans 1) in favor of their sacrifices, while ignoring the depth of their own depravity. From the time of Moses men have rejected the light of commandments delivered by God and written in His word (Romans 3:20). Men are without excuse because they have rebelled against God’s rule with full knowledge of what they have done wrong. Furthermore, for 2,000 years men have rejected the light of Christ. Through creation is the knowledge of an eternal God, who existed before all things and by whom all things came to be. Through conscience is the inner knowledge of wrong doing. Through commandments is the precise knowledge of God’s will, which further illuminates man’s evil heart. Through Christ is the knowledge of the love of God, who spared not His own Son but offered Him up for those upon whom He would extend His grace.
There is, however, only one way to appropriate the grace that God offers through Christ and that is by faith. Faith is not an intellectual exercise, which is why no one can be saved through learning by itself. Learning is the means through which a person comes to understand the gospel of God’s love and mercy, but no amount of learning can save a person if it is not accompanied by a self denying trust in God and His plan of salvation. Belshazzar probably hoped that by promoting Daniel it would save him from the disaster prophesied against him. “Then Belshazzar gave orders, and they clothed Daniel with purple and put a necklace of gold around his neck, and issued a proclamation concerning him that he now had authority as the third ruler in the kingdom” (Daniel 5:29). There is, however, only one name under heaven by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12) and that is Jesus Christ, the Father ‘s only begotten son.
Apart from a denial of self, a humble heart, and a full acknowledgment that Jesus Christ is Lord no one can be saved (Romans 10:9, 10). The handwriting is on the wall for all of us, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Only the grace of God that alone can transform a man’s unwilling heart, by which a man is unable to save himself, can save a lost sinner from the error of his ways, as we all are. The handwriting for the Christian has been changed from destined to eternal torment in the presence of demon spirits to destined for eternal bliss in the presence of God and His Christ. I don’t understand the love and grace of God but I am thankful for it.