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    Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote. His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his knees knocked together and his legs gave way. Dan 5:5-6

    “The Writing on the Wall” – This is the subtitle in my Bible for Daniel Chapter 5. Belshazzar, king of Babylon, openly defies (and even mocks) God by drinking wine out of the sacred goblets taken from the Lord’s temple by Nebuchadnezzar years earlier, and then worshipping the pagan gods of Babylon. God gives an immediate and very visual message to Belshazzar to get his attention. A human hand writes three words in Aramaic on the wall “Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin” – basically meaning “Your reign will be brought to an abrupt end and your kingdom given to the Medes and Persians”. Verse 30 says “that very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians, was slain.”

    This chapter struck me in a couple of ways:

    1] Belshazzar’s open defiance of God. Understandably he was not a believer in or follower of The One True God, but he had completely forgotten the experiences of his ancestor Nebuchadnezzar and how God had impacted his heart on different occasions (see Daniel chapters 1-4). Belshazzar did not feel ashamed of his sin, he proudly displayed it for all to see. He thought he was above God and could do as he pleased without consequence.

    How often do we live as if God is not there or that our actions have no consequence? This section shows the seriousness of sin and that God cares deeply about our heart attitude and our behavior.

    2] God’s immediate and dramatic response. While this does not always happen in our everyday lives, I am struck by the way God went to extreme lengths to get Belshazzar’s attention. And I wonder what would have happened if Belshazzar had admitted his sin and repented? Verse 22 says “But you his son, O Belshazzar, have not humbled yourself, though you knew all this”. Belshazzar knew better but chose to ignore God and do as he pleased.

    How often do we know we are in sin yet continue on as if everything were okay? This section shows the stubbornness of the human heart contrasted with God’s gracious and patient heart that goes to extreme lengths to bring us back to Him.

    What does God have to do to get our attention? When He is trying to speak to us, are we listening?

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