Daniel 5 shares with us a sad and miraculous event. It takes place when Daniel, God’s man, is a captive in the Babylonian court in 539 BC under Belshazzar, Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson. The king didn’t learn from his grandfather’s mistakes. He didn’t humble himself before God. And he made the grievous mistake of treating the holy as unholy.
Many years before when his ancestors had conquered Israel and taken Daniel and many other Israelites captive, the holy vessels from God’s temple were also taken to Babylon. The holy vessels in this case were golden cups that had been used in ceremonies in God’s temple in Jerusalem, ceremonies of worship. Nebuchadnezzar had kept these items stored safely away for years. Belshazzar calls for these holy cups to be brought out and used at his party. He and his guest use them to toast and praise other gods.
This, of course, was a slap in the face to the one true God that the cups were made for. Now this is where God steps in and sets things right. I love this part. At the big banquet of over 1000 people a hand appears and starts writing on the plaster wall of the great room. Belshazzar is visibly shaken by the sight and doesn’t understand what is being written on the wall.
Eventually he calls for Daniel who has proven to be a man with an extraordinary spirit. Daniel tells the king that The Most High God has written on the wall a message to him, the king. Daniel tells the king that his grandfather, Nebuchadnezzar, had been brought low by God to teach him that the Most High God is sovereign over the kingdoms of men. Nebuchadnezzar learned his lesson and became humble before God. Daniel tells Belshazzar that he knew all this but still chose to set himself against the one true God. He treated God’s holy vessels as common. Daniel eventually tells the king the interpretation of the writing.
Daniel 5:26-28 “This is what these words mean: Mene: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end. Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting. Peres: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”
That same night Belshazzar was killed and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom.
Let’s take the meaning of this truth to present day. God still has holy vessels. These holy vessels are us. Christians. Those that have accepted Christ Jesus as Lord of our lives. He has consecrated us-made us clean. We have been set apart and reserved exclusively for God.
2 Timothy 2:20-21 “In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.”
Do you understand that God has declared you holy? Do you treat yourself as holy? Satan’s agenda is attempting to desecrate what God consecrates. Take a minute to think about the places you take yourself. The things you do. The words that come out of your mouth. The thoughts you think. Is Satan winning?
God wants to prepare us for his use. If you have strayed away from him, I pray you will ask him to give you a godly sorrow over any thing you have done-the things that made you unfit to be used by him-and that he will lead you to repentance. The great news is that vessels that have been treated as unholy can be turned around and treated as holy again. Look back up at 2 Timothy 2:20-21. Cleanse yourself by going to God with a repentant heart and ask him to forgive you. Then accept that you are now clean and ready to be used by God.
God has already put the handwriting on the wall. Learn from it. Don’t follow Belshazzar’s lead. It won’t end well.
Here is an old film clip about what happens in Daniel 5. It is true to scripture, but I would have depicted the human hand doing the writing on the wall as much larger.
(This blog post was inspired by Beth Moore’s Bible study on Daniel.)