In the year 536 B.C. under the leadership of Belshazzar, the kingdom of Babylon was a dominant world power. Two generations after Babylon destroyed Solomon’s temple and carried away some of Israel’s prime young leaders, the kingdom faced serious threats by Darius the Mede and Cyrus the Persian. Daniel, one of the young Jewish men who had been taken captive, had prophetic gifts that proved quite useful in deciphering the voice of God to this pagan nation during their crisis.
Daniel was used by God to deliver the interpretation of two very important messages to the Babylonian kings. At age 20, he interpreted a dream for Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2). Then, 50 years later, he did the same thing for Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson, Belshazzar, this time interpreting the famous handwriting on the wall (Daniel 5). In both cases, God was sending a message of judgment to Babylon. It primarily revolved around the unwillingness of these kings to acknowledge that Yahweh was really in charge and that this season of leadership privilege had been granted by Him!
There are a couple of really simple but strong lessons that come out of this historical record:
- God always knows how to get our attention.
- A private lesson with the Lord is preferable to a public one.
- God deserves credit when there has been promotion or success.
- Doors that God has opened can also be closed by Him.
It is interesting to me that these lessons come out of God’s dealing with people who had not given themselves to the ways of the Lord. These encounters indicate an expectation of God, even when there is little or no spiritual insight or understanding. Belshazzar, of all people, should have known what was coming. Imagine, then, what God requires of us who have been born of the Spirit. We should be listening carefully and responding quickly! Have you learned from history? Is God easily able to get your attention?
It would do us all a lot of good to agree with the Babylonian king, who, after seven years of insanity and having been stripped of his kingdom—brought on by his refusal to acknowledge God, said: “Those who walk in pride he is able to humble.” (Daniel 4:37 NIV). Well said, Nebuchadnezzar!
“I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.” -Isaiah 48:17 (NIV)