Some stories in Scripture start badly, but have a joyous twist at the end. Easter is a great example. Today’s scripture, however, doesn’t have that twist. King Belshazzar was, quite simply, a horrible king. While his kingdom was under attack he chose to have a giant “morals optional” party. In the middle of the debauchery God showed up.
King Belshazzar made a great feast for a thousand of his lords and drank wine in front of the thousand. 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. Then 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. They drank wine and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone. Immediately 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. Daniel 5:1-5
The hand of God shows up and writes a message on the wall, which the King and his drunken entourage can’t understand. They end up bringing Daniel, now eighty years old and long removed from public life, out of retirement to decipher the message. Daniel reminds the king of the ups and downs of the previous kings, then tells him:
”And you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this, 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 honored. “Then from his presence the hand was sent, and this writing was inscribed. And this is the writing that was inscribed: Mene, Mene, Tekel, and Parsin. This is the interpretation of the matter: Mene, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; Tekel, you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting; Peres, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” Daniel 5:22-28
Daniel tells the King there will be no twist to this story. The King knew what was right and what was wrong, and constantly chose sin. He knew to repent, and refused. Now it’s too late for a twist to the story. To me, this scripture teaches us two major things. First, God’s judgment is real. If we refuse His grace we will end up judged like the king. Second, it is so vital that we share God’s love with others. How many people are in our life that are heading for an end like the King? They need us to be a Daniel to them, to introduce them to the “twist” that is God’s grace. Sin is real. Judgment is real, and it’s permanent. Don’t miss out on the chances to share God’s good news with those who need it.