King Belshazzar made a great feast for a thousand of his lords and drank wine in front of the thousand.
2 Belshazzar, when he tasted the wine, commanded that the vessels of gold and of silver that Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken out of the temple in Jerusalem be brought, that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them. 3Then they brought in the golden vessels that had been taken out of the temple, the house of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. 4They drank wine and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone.
5Immediately the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace, opposite the lampstand. And the king saw the hand as it wrote.
Who is this God that I claim to know? Who is this God that I think I know?
When listening to the radio, you may formulate an image of the speaker by listening to his voice but you do not necessarily know him personally. When you meet the person then you connect the voice to the person in front of you. Your imaginary image of the presenter is different to the real person. We can have a picture in our minds of what this God is like but we possibly do not know Him at all.
Belshazzar, the son of Nebuchadnezzar, was a Babylonian king. He threw a luxurious party for his nobles and officials in order to bring honour to his kingdom. He invited all the great ones. They sat down and drank wine. While they were drinking, they remembered the golden vessels which Nebuchadnezzar had brought from Israel. Belshazzar commanded that the vessels be brought because he wanted to drink from them. They were brought, the wine was poured, they drank and praised their gods of bronze, iron, gold, silver, wood and stone.
It was while they were drinking that everything changed. They saw a hand which wrote on the wall. The king was shocked and fearful. Then the king’s colour changed, and his thoughts alarmed him; his limbs gave way, and his knees knocked together. Daniel 5:6 All the glory and luxury suddenly changed. They were frightened by the writing on the wall. Obviously the king underwent a huge alteration because what he said changed, his decisions changed. The king called loudly to bring in the enchanters, the Chaldeans, and the astrologers. Daniel 5:7 What do you do if something fearful and shocking takes place? Who do you call on? The wise ones, the witchdoctors, the fortune tellers – to explain the problem you face. You go to different people but you do not receive help. You might have spent a lot of money and made many sacrifices but you still do not have answers.
When Belshazzar saw the writing, he called the enchanters and wise men because he did not know what the writing meant. They were unable to give an explanation. The king was troubled. He would not have received the solution from amongst these people if it had not been for the children of God in their midst. The three kings; Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar and Darius would not have received help if it had not been for the children of God.
When the queen arrived, she saw the suffering of the king and witnessed the failure of the people. Belshazzar was moved by a hand writing against a wall. He witnessed just the fingers, not the arm or anything more, just the fingers. Friends, are you troubled by the fingers of a hand? Who is this God? David asked, “Who will ascend the hill of the Lord? Who will stand in His holy place? Who will stand in His holy presence? He who has clean hands, who has not clung to lies.” If only the hand of God brought such fear upon this king, what will it be like to see God Himself? God is holy and those who are able to stand in His presence are those with clean hearts and hands. Friends, are your hands washed? Is your heart clean? Have you not turned to lies?
You may live in lies or through lies. Nobody trusts anybody who lives through lies. Many people believe lies. They hear something which is not the truth, or it is partly true but they do not bother to find out the real truth. They accept what they have heard and then they run with it and spread it. Have you spoken lies with your tongue? If so you will not stand in the holy presence of the Lord because your hands and heart are not pure.
In this text, everyone rejoiced in their luxury and glory but suddenly all their joy and confidence was lost. Why? Because of the writing on the wall. There is a hand that is writing, day and night, about the life of each and every one sitting here today. The book of Revelations says that one day the books will be opened and the story of your life will be read. All that you have said and done will be read whether you like it or not, whether it flatters or embarrasses you, there will be nothing you can do about it. The sin in which you live is being written down. The lies through which you live will be exposed. Your thoughts will be written down which reveal what kind of a person you are and what kind of a life you lived in your thoughts.
During this wonderful feast the direction in which things were going suddenly changed. The king began the evening with a joyous face but everything altered suddenly when the hand began writing. The people who could explain this were needed, but they all failed. Then the queen entered. She might have been one of those who knew Nebuchadnezzar and saw the three men walking in the fire. Ask yourself whether the people among whom you live are helped by your life? Do unbelievers go to you when all their solutions have failed? This queen said to Belshazzar, ‘Do not be so afraid. Have you forgotten about the man you have in your kingdom from Judah? Call him.” Daniel was an old man. He was asked to solve their problems. If he could, he would be dressed in purple, with a golden chain, and be elevated to the third position in the kingdom. Daniel said that he wanted nothing to do with the gifts but that he would give them the solution to their problem. There are those who can be bought by money. There are those who are willing to help if they are paid. Others who do not do anything if you do not pay them. Do people know that they can come to you? Do they get the solution to their problems?
Samson was a Nazarite through whom God achieved great victories. But he changed because he allowed the enemy into his life. In the end he was bound and blind with his eyes gouged out. The first thing the enemy did when they captured him was to gouge out his eyes. Friends, if the devil finds you, he will not be satisfied until he has gouged out your spiritual eyes. Once a brother or a sister has been caught and their eyes gouged out, they can no longer say, “Brother, this is wrong. Brother, do not do that.” Their eyes are closed, they cannot see. How many have become blind in our midst? We do not see things that are happening. People who live amongst us do not see the work of God but instead they listen to and believe stories that they hear. They walk around in a state of blindness. Brother, sister, you are blind. Go for help. Ask yourself, “Where did all this start? In my present state I am blind, I cannot see. I am spiritually blunt.” There could be some among us from whom the glory has left. Peace has left them and in their blindness they point fingers and find fault with those around them. After Samson’s eyes had been gouged out, the enemy was happy. They threw rotten tomatoes at him and made fun of him. They put him in a public place to mock him. He had lost all his glory.
Daniel said, “I do not need your money, your glory or a position in your kingdom. Here is the truth. I will tell you the truth.” He deciphered the inscription and he told them what their problem was.
22 And you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this, 23 but you have lifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven. And the vessels of his house have been brought in before you, and you and your lords, your wives, and your concubines have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see or hear or know, but the God in whose hand is your breath, and whose are all your ways, you have not honoured. Daniel 5:22-23
Daniel reminded Belshazzar of the past and what had happened to his father, Nebuchadnezzar. How God had removed him from his kingly position and its glory when he became proud. His rational mind left him and he became like an animal that ate grass. Daniel asked Belshazzar: Why have you forgotten what happened to your father? Why have you forgotten that he had to leave men and live outside like an animal? The judgement of God descended immediately. Have you forgotten the things that have happened in front of your eyes? People who are seated here can testify to what has happened to those who have left God. But your heart has become hard, as hard as a diamond. Nothing stirs you. Why? Pride. You are lifted up.
Pharaoh’s heart was hard. No matter how people tried to help him, he was hardened. He listened to the hardness of his own heart and could not listen to any advice. But Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord that I should obey his voice and let Israel go?” Exodus 5:2 See how stubborn a person can become. Pharaoh’s heart was so hard that he could not hear a thing. He was proud.
Naaman, the leper, was advised by a little child to get help from the man of God. But Naaman was upset and followed his own hard heart when Elisha commanded him to wash in the Jordan River seven times. He did not want to obey. He had expected that the prophet would greet him and wave his hand over his leprosy and heal him. (2 Kings 5) He came with his preconceived ideas, nearly missing God’s healing if he hadn’t parted from them.
When Uzziah, the king of Judah, was hardened, he lifted himself up until he was destroyed. Because of his proud, hard heart, he burnt incense on the altar even though he was not called to do that. (2 Chronicles 26) You are possibly the way you are and you live the way you live because you cannot accept any advice from anyone.
25 And this is the writing that was inscribed: Mene, Mene, Tekel, and Parsin. 26 This is the interpretation of the matter: Mene, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; 27 Tekel, you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting;28 Peres, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” 29 Then Belshazzar gave the command, and Daniel was clothed with purple, a chain of gold was put around his neck, and a proclamation was made about him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom. 30 That very night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was killed. 31 And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old. Daniel 5:25-31
This is a fearful story. God answered him there. All the glory that had led to his downfall ended.
Friends, what is written about us? What is being written about my life and heart in heaven? Maybe there is no difference between us and the king of Babylon. We have been weighed on the scale of God and what does it show? What has been written about our faith and service to the Lord? God’s children should have weight. When we are weighed, are we the correct weight? How have we been walking before God? Does God find some faithfulness in our lives? God numbered the days of the king’s kingdom. God has numbered the days of your life too. Maybe he has written the outcome already. How long will you still live this life? You say you are living for God but there is no fruit from your life. In your service for God, you are confused, you do not know where you stand and what the outcome of your life is.
God visited Adam in the Garden of Eden and He asked, “Adam, Adam, where are you? Have you eaten of the fruit I told you not to eat?” Have you perhaps eaten of the fruit you were not supposed to? Have you fallen from the place you should be at? It is a painful thing. God has numbered the days of your kingdom and He has brought it to an end. God has given your kingdom to others, the Medes and the Persians. Each of us should ask ourselves: Lord, am I still standing where I should be?
Tekel: You have been weighed in the balances and found wanting. Friend, weigh your tongue. Weigh your words. What have you been saying? What stories have you been spreading? Have you brought life or death with your tongue? You are found wanting because of your words and what you have been saying. Your faith is found wanting. You have no weight.
And on that very day, Belshazzar died. It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God. On that day his glory ended. God says that what a man sows, he will reap. My friend, let us repent, let us return to God. Let us examine ourselves. On that very day Belshazzar was killed. That was the end of his story. His kingdom had come to an end. All he had was taken from him because he stuck his finger in God’s eye. You can do it to people but woe to you if you stick your finger in God’s eye.
Friends, I do not know what my end will be. I do not know what your end will be but one thing I know is this, if we cannot go to God then who else can we go to? Peter said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life…” John 6:68.
Then the voice came: Belshazzar, your days have ended. Do you have the right weight on His scale? Have you been swept away by fighting and conflict with people? The scale will tell the whole truth when you are weighed. Friend, I plead with you, if you are convicted that your weight may be found wanting, do not get up and leave. Stay behind and make your life right with God. Belshazzar’s evil may not be worse than yours. Do not end up with a hard heart, like Naaman, Ahab or Pharaoh. If God shows you something, soften your heart and say, God help me get out of this.
Closing remarks by Albu van Eeden: Belshazzar drank from the cups of God’s temple in an unholy way. May we fearfully drink from God’s cups. We may be busy with God’s work, studying God’s Word, quoting God’s Word and interpreting God’s Word to people, (we are not heathen, like Belshazzar), but we do it in an unworthy way. I am a Christian and I am busy with the golden cups of God. A person who calls himself a Christian and is busy with the things of God, can be drinking a curse upon his own life. God says, rather stop quoting My Word, stop teaching people because these vessels – God’s Word – are holy. Drinking from them does not make you holy. Make sure that when you drink from them you do so in a worthy manner, otherwise each time you quote God’s Word, or preach to people, you drink and preach a curse upon your life.
Were they not doing a good thing when they drank from Your cups? The king honoured You. The king used Your cups. God said, You were not sanctified. You drank a curse upon your life. This is what God has taught us in the revival. If you want to be busy with God’s Word, do it in a worthy manner. If God shows you things that are wrong in your life, put them right. It must be done in a worthy manner. The Lord Jesus said, “My Word will judge them one day.” Friends, there is a judgement coming and I stand in fear and trembling here.
Do not live your life and do as you like and drag God’s Word along with you. You compliment yourself and say you are acknowledging God. You say you are quoting God and telling everyone you are a Christian but you are busy with your own thing. You are as much busy with your own thing as Belshazzar was busy with his own thing. Then you drink from God’s cup and you think you are giving God glory.
What has this revival taught us? Total commitment and total surrender. If you want to serve God, do it 100%, not 90%, not even 99%. Do not do your own thing and drag God’s Word into it.
We serve a fearful God. Look at the way you dress, look at the activities you busy yourself with. What do you spend your time on, is it God’s kingdom or your own things? If God convicts us, there is a way, let us obey. May God be merciful.