And you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this,
This article was posted earlier this year, and I decided to re-post it with several additional observations.
Do you remember the account of the writing on the wall in Daniel 5? The King of Babylon at that time was Belshazzar and he and his court decided to have a drunken party and use the vessels from Solomon’s temple to hold their beverages. They toasted and praised their gods while holding items from God’s house. The King is rattled to his core with a vision of a man’s hand writing strange words on a wall. Daniel is brought into interpret the message.
While explaining the meaning of the writing on wall, Daniel gave King Belshazzar a history lesson about King Nebuchadnezzar. For us it is only a matter of turning a page back and reading Daniel chapter 4, but this event of Nebuchadnezzar being humbled before God had happened many years before. A great king of Babylon was lifted up with pride against the Almighty God, and he was severely humbled before God.
The thing is, according to Daniel, this was not private knowledge. King Belshazzar was fully aware of what had happened to Nebuchadnezzar. Knowledge of historical facts was not enough was it? King Belshazzar knew the right information, but failed to learn from it. He did not humble himself before God.
Take a look at the first chapter of Daniel and notice something. Where did King Nebuchadnezzar place the articles of Solomon’s temple (God’s house)? In the houses of his gods…in the “treasury of his god.”
And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God. And he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and placed the vessels in the treasury of his god.
That tells you where King Nebuchadnezzar ranked the God of Israel. He saw the God of Israel as just another god that was subservient to his own gods. Through his reign, however, he learned otherwise as he came to know the real God of all the earth. Again, as Daniel stated to the later king Belshazzar, Nebuchadnezzar’s journey of faith was not unknown to Belshazzar. He just failed to learn, accept and apply the lessons of his predecessors.
There are real answers in history, we can truly help change our course in life by looking back in the past. You can look at the course of people’s lives and see the good choices they made and solutions they came up with to solve problems, and you can examine their thought process to see how that can help you today. You can also look at how individuals, organizations, and nations spiraled down into a world of hurt because of a sequence of one bad choice after another. Learn from it. Learn from your own past too! We do not have to repeat history like King Belshazzar did. He was given all the tools and opportunity and information he needed to completely alter his course. But he chose to reject the knowledge given to him, and he ended up repeating history.
This is the lesson of Ezekiel 18. A son can see the wickedness of his father and make a deliberate choice not to follow that same path. That son can charter his own course with God.
“Now suppose this man fathers a son who sees all the sins that his father has done; he sees, and does not do likewise…he shall not die for his father’s iniquity; he shall surely live. As for his father, because he…did what is not good among his people, behold, he shall die for his iniquity. “Yet you say, ‘Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father?’ When the son has done what is just and right, and has been careful to observe all my statutes, he shall surely live. The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.
This is what God expects of each of us, and it is what God expected of King Belshazzar. When you are driving on the interstate, you eventually have to get off the exit to “arrive” at the destination. Some folks keep studying and learning, but never “arrive” at the truth. Paul said there were those who were …always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 3:7). Belshazzar wasn’t lacking for information, he was lacking the application of it.