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Deal With Your Servant According To Your Love

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DANIEL 5:1-31 | 2 PETER 2:1-22 | PSALM 119:113-128 | PROVERBS 28:19-20

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Daniel and his friends must have been no more than teenagers when they were brought into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon when he pillaged and plundered Jerusalem for the second time in 586 BC, and returned with several hundred thousand prisoners of war.

Daniel was one such prisoner, but in a short while, Daniel and his friends had established their identities as Hebrew children who would not worship anyone or anything other than their own God, Yahweh.  In spite of defying the king, they had earned the king’s favor by way of demonstrating the superior saving power of their faith, and Daniel, in particular, had been held in high regard owing to his ability to accurately interpret the king’s dreams.

Continuing our reading of this fascinating story, we learn of a new era that has come to pass:  Nebuchadnezzar is no more, but his grandson, Belshazzar is king of Babylon.  Yet, unlike his repentant grandfather, he has not heeded his ways.  Nebuchadnezzar who had once been all-powerful, had in the end, lost his senses and everything that he had, until he had nothing more to lose. 

But still, Nebuchadnezzar’s life is not forgotten in the sands of time as a king who became a madman.  Nay, Nebuchadnezzar is the madman-king who is brought down to his knees, but at his lowest point, he repents and acknowledges the power of the Almighty.  The record tells us that it is this act that eventually leads to the restoration of his life and his kingdom.  And yet, the saving faith of Nebuchadnezzar was neither passed down, inherited, or accepted by Belshazzar.

Belshazzar seems to either be unaware of his history, or worse yet, chooses to ignore history and the lessons to be had from it. 

And the result of this willful nonchalance is a powerful wake-up call.  It is a supernatural event that takes place right in the midst of one of his revelries where a mystery hand appears out of nowhere to write a message on the wall.  But there is no one who can decipher it!  Belshazzar’s queen, however, seemed to have a sharper memory than her husband, and recommends that Daniel be summoned to interpret the writing on the wall. 

Incidentally, this is the origin of the phrase “the writing on the wall.”

So, these are Daniel’s words to Belshazzar:  22 “But you, Belshazzar, his son, have not humbled yourself, though you knew all this. 23 Instead, you have 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.

The writing on the wall was this:  Belshazzar would be soon removed as king, and his kingdom would be routed by the Medes and the Persians.  It did not take long for this written prophecy to come to pass:  that very night Belshazzar would be killed, and Darius, the Mede would assume power over Babylon.

We turn now to our reading of the second book of Peter, and find Peter exhorting his readers to be vigilant to false teachers.  Referring to them, he writes: 

17 These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. 18 For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.”

Turning now to our reading of the Psalms, we find ourselves continuing with David’s long acrostic poem in Psalm 119.  Like David, may it be that we might also say:

116 Sustain me, my God, according to your promise, and I will live;
   do not let my hopes be dashed.
117 Uphold me, and I will be delivered;
   I will always have regard for your decrees.

Also, may it be that in our time of distress, we might also be quick to have the same mind as David:

123 My eyes fail, looking for your salvation,
   looking for your righteous promise.
124 Deal with your servant according to your love
   and teach me your decrees.

Finally, a couple of verses from the book of Proverbs, in which Solomon, wise king of Israel, speaks to the ills of the vice called sloth:

19 Those who work their land will have abundant food,
   but those who chase fantasies will have their fill of poverty.

20 A faithful person will be richly blessed,
   but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished.

May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.  Amen.

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