Obviously, the happenings of chapter 5:5-31 are because of something that happened in chapter 5:;1-4. One’s immediate thoughts go to the wild, debauched party of drunkenness. It is true this is the foundation to
Da 5:5 Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. In bewilderment the king watched … The king watched the hand as it wrote. 6 His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his knees knocked together and his legs gave way.
Alcohol and drugs could have serious effects on the mind of the user. I recall a man named “Mannie”, an alcoholic. At the time I was about 18. He had horns tattooed on his forehead and used to sing outside a pub, begging people for money to buy wine. He used to see things in his drunken stupor … things that scared him to the point of cringing in corners with his hands over his face to ward off what he was seeing. One “sight” was little green men with red forks trying to attack him and carry him off to hell. The perpetual drunkenness brought on such delirious experiences. One might want to think this was the reason for what king Belshazzar saw. Just picture it … a human hand from the wrist down to the finger tips, positioned so that it was writing on the wall. Freaky and scary … and as the king watched … His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his knees knocked together and his legs gave way. What would you have done? Yes he was pretty inebriated … as were his tables guests as well as the complete party … but this was not the reason for seeing what he saw.
1) God does not tolerate holy things dedicated to Him being desecrated. Later in the chapter, once Daniel is called to explain this sighting, he explains that he, the king, had
Da 5:23 … set yourself up against the Lord of heaven. You had the goblets from his temple brought to you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines drank wine from them. You praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or understand. But you did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways. 24 Therefore he sent the hand that wrote the inscription.
We will return to this passage later, but we need to understand that God does not tolerate anyone messing with Him and His holy things. We know a Church building is just a building, but once it is dedicated to God for His usage, anyone using it (desecrating it) for evil purposes will be dealt with by God. The same is true with one’s tithe. A tithe is a portion of your income (normally 10%) dedicated to God for Him to use in the management of His Kingdom. When His people don’t follow this Biblical requirement, they might prosper in an earthly way for a season, but soon, like Israel, they will suffer the anger of God because He amounts withholding the tithe to stealing form Him. (See Malachi 1:6-14; 3:6-12). Take a last illustration … when the pulpit is used to entertain, for politics or for evil purposes, people who are weak spiritually might enjoy what they hear, but spiritually they will reach rock bottom and perhaps miss out on heaven because their souls have not been shaped by God’s Word … for life and for eternity.
2) The king called for the wise men of Babylon to explain this sighting. This was not a vision only seen by the king. This supernatural happening was seen by others too. It seems as though the elevation the king and his entourage were seated on had a backing wall, colored white. The word for “plaster” in the Aramaic is “chalk” … thus giving the wall the white color. With the light shining on it (royal lampstand), any dark object moving over the wall will immediately attract attention. The king needed an explanation because he and his entourage, drinking from the holy items of the true God were worshipping pagan gods … surely this is a sign from one of their gods. This is the reason these wise men … the enchanters, astrologers and diviners … were called. They were the leaders in venerating these pagan gods … gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone.
3) The king promises the one able to interpret the writing on the wall, the third highest position in his Kingdom.
Da 5:7 The king called out for the enchanters, astrologers and diviners to be brought and said to these wise men of Babylon, “Whoever reads this writing and tells me what it means will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around his neck, and he will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom.”
There is a lot of speculation as to what “third” means, yet I see it as a ceremonial position with benefits, though with little authority and power. Always remember that the king of the Babylonian Kingdom was the supreme ruler. He enjoyed total authority. Even his closest advisors feared him. We recall how James and John, with the help of their mother attempted to have Jesus appoint them to the highest positions in His Kingdom, under Him.
Mt 20:20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. 21 “What is it you want?” he asked. She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.”
The other disciples were not pleased when they heard about this. When they were all together Jesus said to them
Mt 20:25 “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
As people saved by grace, we ought never to aspire to positions of power and authority … and that includes ministry, for when we do, God has His way of removing us. Saved souls are servant souls. If Jesus set us the example by serving us at Calvary, we ought to be the biggest servants in our marriage, home, business, work place, school and especially in the Church.
Our Father, keep us from wanting to be what You have not allocated to us. Rather, we pray, teach us the spiritual art of servanthood so that You are glorified in Jesus. Amen.