Today’s Bible Reading: Daniel 5:1-31; 2 Peter 2:1-22; Psalm 119:113-128; Proverbs 28:19-20
Many famous sayings have their origin right from the Bible. We’ve all heard the expression “the writing on the wall”. Today we read the passages it comes from.
The story opens with King Belshazzar now on the throne of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar had died some years earlier and a series kings with short reigns followed until Belshazzar. This is confirmed by an archaeological discovery, the Nabonidus Cylinder, which is now housed in the British Museum.
We know from historical documentation that Persia was in full-attack mode against Babylon at this time. Nevertheless, Belshazzar throws a party for himself and his leaders (Daniel 5:1). This is the epitome of arrogance. A hostile enemy was at their doorstep, but they were paying no attention. They were trusting in their own military might and their false-gods to protect them.
Belshazzar even has the audacity to use the drinking vessels stolen from the Temple in Jerusalem by his grandfather, Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 5:2). This is clearly a slap in the face of God – insinuating that God was weak or non-existent. As a result, God does something that scares them to death (not to mention is very cool). He writes on the wall (Daniel 5:5). Notice that He writes near the lampstand. Ancient rooms didn’t have bright overhead lighting like we do today. Rooms were pretty dark, even those with candles. God writes in a lighted area so that His message won’t go unnoticed.
Archaeological discoveries explain why Belshazzar offered Daniel the third highest position in the kingdom (Daniel 5:7). His father was still alive, and still king, but had fled the city when defeat by Persia seemed inevitable. Belshazzar was in now in charge, but in reality was second in command. So he gave away the highest position he could – third. The more we dig out of the ground, the more proof we have that the Bible is accurate.
Notice that Daniel wants no reward for interpreting the writing (Daniel 5:17). This gives credibility to what he will say. Just like he was with Nebuchadnezzar years before, Daniel is very direct and not only interprets the writing, but gives the king an application as well (Daniel 5:22-24). Belshazzar had not learned from his predecessor. He was an arrogant, sinful man with no respect for the God who created him.
Despite his wishes, Daniel was given the promised purple robes and gold chain (Daniel 5:29). But his lofty government position lasted just a few hours. The rewards for standing up for God on this earth can be short-lived. No problem. Better to have eternal rewards in heaven anyway. Later that night his new boss was killed. We know from history that Persia defeated Babylon by diverting the Euphrates River and entering Babylon through its for-some-reason unlocked gates. This is precisely what Isaiah 44:28-45:7 and Jeremiah 51:57-58 predicted 200 years before. More Bible prophecy confirmed!
God tells us that there will be (not might be) teachers who come along with a false message that sounds appealing to many but will actually lead to destruction (2 Peter 2:1). Without a doubt these false teachers will be judged. God means what He says and says what He means. He also backs up His words with action. Peter gives us three historical examples in which God said He was going to judge and did (2 Peter 4:8).
Isn’t it interesting that angels apparently went through a period of time when they could choose to follow God or not. This is the same thing that we humans are going through right now. At the end of these periods of testing, God rescues the godly (e.g. Noah and his family, Lot) while punishing those who reject Him (2 Peter 2:9). The very same event, such as the flood, does both. So people today who believe that there is no God or there is no judgement have no leg to stand on. There is a God and He will judge each of us.
One characteristic of false teachers is they do not seek to understand God and therefore scoff at Him (2 Peter 2:12). They act only according to their natural self without stopping to think that maybe they are wrong. Many so-called “gay-friendly” churches operate this way. These churches preach a message that “its okay to be gay”. Since these sexual desires come naturally to them they conclude that such a lifestyle is acceptable to God. They never give thought to the fact that they might be wrong. Sadly, there are many who hear these and other flesh-appealing messages and buy into the lies too (2 Peter 2:14).
These false teachers preach that freedom can be found in following our natural tendencies. But this is not true. We are naturally inclined to sin. And sin is slavery. No one is truly free. We are slaves to whatever controls us (2 Peter 2:19). Whatever or whoever we spend most of our time with is our god. That is why God admonishes us to be controlled by the Spirit. We are to be His slaves. In fact, many Bible authors, including Peter, identify themselves as such (2 Peter 1:1).
We can’t escape the bad influences in this world, nor should we. God commands us to be “in” the world but separated from it in our thoughts and actions. But we should not surround ourselves with people or things (TV, movies, music) that will direct our thoughts away from God and prevent us from adhering to His commands (Psalm 119:115).
Getting rich quickly usually requires doing something immoral or illegal. Likewise, receiving a ton of money quickly (as many young athletes or lottery winners do) often brings more trouble that one would expect (Proverbs 28:20). Better to acquire riches slowly. This way we learn how to handle it along the way.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.