“Suddenly, they saw the fingers of a human hand writing on the plaster wall of the king’s palace, near the lampstand.” (Daniel 5:5 NLT)
It sounds a bit more like a horror film than a Bible story. Nonetheless, Daniel 5 of God’s Holy word is where we find this strange occurrence…
The king of Babylon, Belshazzar, grandson of the great Nebuchadnezzar, is throwing a feast. In his drunkenness, he remembers the beautiful cups that his grandfather had brought back from the temple of the God of Israel, and he commands they be brought in. Soon everyone is drinking wine from these sacred vessels, but instead of praising the One true God, the God these vessels were made to honour, they begin praising their idols of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood and stone (See Daniel 5:1-5). This is when the scene out of Sci-fi happens: A mysterious finger appears and begins writing on the wall!
As if that isn’t bad enough, no one can understand what that finger is writing. Mene Mene Tekel Parsin means absolutely nothing to them; but the incident causes the mighty King Belshazzar is be reduced to a shivering, knee-knocking mess (See Daniel 5:5)! He calls in all of the wisest men in the kingdom to come and figure out what this finger wrote on his wall, promising them to become the third highest ruler in the kingdom. Unfortunately for him, the wisest of his men were all clueless as well, and this upped the king’s fear even further (See Daniel 5:7-8)!
There is still one person in the kingdom who remembers Daniel: The queen mother (See Daniel 5:10). She quickly and solidly rebukes Belshazzar for his fear and reminds him of Daniel (See Daniel 5:10-12). Daniel is brought in, and God gives him the ability to interpret the message:
“Mene means ‘numbered’—God has numbered the days of your reign and has brought it to an end.Tekel means ‘weighed’—you have been weighed on the balances and have not measured up.Parsin means ‘divided’—your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” (Daniel 5:26-28 NLT)
Now that in itself would have been a bad enough message, but in addition to this, Daniel rebukes the king, and it is this rebuke that caught my attention…
Daniel reminds the king of his grandfather’s great humiliation, how he was “…brought down from his royal throne and stripped of his glory. He was driven from human society. He was given the mind of a wild animal…until he learned that the Most High God rules over the kingdoms of the world and appoints anyone he desires to rule over them.” (Daniel 5:20-21 NLT)
The reference is to the story recorded in Daniel 4 of Nebuchadnezzar’s warning, his failure to heed the warning, and his subsequent seven-year period of utmost humiliation. Although this happened years earlier, possibly before Belshazzar was even born, it was Babylonian history, and the upstart king would have been very familiar with these happenings. Therefore, because he had received this warning through what happened to his grandfather, Belshazzar would be judged: “You are his successor, O Belshazzar, and you knew all this, yet you have not humbled yourself. For you have proudly defied the Lord of heaven and have had these cups from his Temple brought before you…drinking wine from them while praising gods of silver, gold, bronze, iron, wood, and stone…But you have not honored the God who gives you the breath of life and controls your destiny! ” (Daniel 5:22-24 NLT).
Wow. What a rebuke. And the rebuke stands for us today: “You are his successor, O Belshazzar, and you knew all this, yet you have not humbled yourself.” (Daniel 5:22 NLT). God is gracious. He gives us many chances. He continually pours out His love and grace upon us, giving us signs of His love, His presence, His power, His kindness. Eventually however, when we continue to doubt, to worry and fret, to fall into all of the same traps, God has to do something to get our attention.
But, you say, I have NOT been the recipient of God’s miracles!
We all have been, friends. The reason we don’t realize this is rooted in the fact that we fail to recognize His hand of blessing on our lives. Our response to answered prayers is, “Oh, I was so lucky!” We give the glory for healing to our doctors, etc.
But God doesn’t even judge us for our blindness to His work in our own lives. He has also given us hundreds of stories of His faithfulness in His Word, and He has been actively working around us in the lives of those we love and those we interact with on a daily basis. We have no excuse for our doubt, for our worry, for continually stumbling into the same old sins. All we have to do is look at what God has been doing in our own lives, in the lives of others around us and throughout history to know that God is in control, that our job is to humble ourselves before Him and let Him be Him!
Daniel’s harsh rebuke of King Belshazzar stands as a stark warning to each one of us today: We must humble ourselves before God. We must surrender to His will, and we must believe in His power — not our own! — to bring us through.
Whatever it is you are going through, and even if you are currently not going through anything specific, I urge you to look around and watch for where God is at work. Remember your prayers, and when you see the answers to them, glorify the God who brought it to be. Write them down! Praise God for how He is working in the lives of those around you! Read your Bible and remember that the God who did all of those miraculous things is … still on the throne! And He loves … you! He love you enough to have died for … you!
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart
Moderator, Associate Director, Answer2prayer Ministries