Sunday, August 19, 2012


Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin

 

But you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, although you knew all this.  And you have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven.” – Daniel 5:22

Picture this.  You’re at the home of a member of royalty.  They’re having a great gourmet dinner, and all the members of high society are there.  You’re thrilled to have been invited and be there.  As you sit down to the table you notice that your meal is being served in a church offering plate.  You also notice that your glass is not a glass, but a communion cup.  There’s no mistaking that these were taken from a nearby church. 
You look in the corner of the decorated banquet hall, and there is a large gold statue of Buddah, and a huge Golden Cat, and a Golden Texas Steer.  You look closely and yes, it’s real gold.  There are flower wreaths all around the three status, and fruit has been cut open and laid at their feet.

What will you do?  Will you eat? Will you sit at the table?  Do you imagine that they are having a themed dinner and just continue, or do you leave?  Those are the thoughts I had as I read Daniel 5 this morning. 
Belshazzar was royalty.  He was the son of King Nebuchadnezzar, and the reigning King of Babylon in its most prosperous time.  God had blessed the nation and grown it.  Belshazzar knew it was God’s doing because there had been a period of time when God took it away from his father Nebuchadnezzar because his pride had swelled up.  He remembered the years of eating grass like a cow, and having true poverty in the land.  But years had passed, and so had the memories. 

Belshazzar is giving a feast for a large number of people, and decides to use the things his father had stolen from a temple at his dinner table.  He and his friends, their wives and mistresses, all sit down at the table.  As they sit there eating from these sanctified vessels, they were praising the “gods” they had of gold and silver.  And then it happened.

A hand that is not seen writes on the wall “MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN”. 
Party over.  No doubt the guests and Belshazzar were too frightened to still be drunk from their wine, and not really hungry for another bite, or another minute in that room.

But Belshazzar did not know this language, and didn’t know what it meant.  He calls for his astrologers and his magicians, and they don’t have answers.  But then they remember the prophet Daniel, “in whom is the Spirit of the Holy God”.  Daniel had interpreted dreams for Nebuchadnezzer in the past, so they sent for him to come in and read the wall.  And when Daniel arrived, God’s words were voiced.
This is the interpretation of each word.

MENE: God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it;

TEKEL: You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting;

PERES: Your kingdom has been divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.”

Sometimes you can be so lost in your sin that you can’t see it even when there’s writing on the walls. 

After an event this personal and this strong a message being delivered to Belshazzar you’d think he would fall on his knees and beg God’s forgiveness.  But instead, he awarded Daniel the position of third ruler in the kingdom – third to a throne that God had already said was given to the Medes and Persians.  That very night the kingdom was overthrown and Darius the Mede became ruler of Babylon. 

The time to repent of you sin is when God gives you a chance because you never know if you’ve hit His last nerve.  If Belshazzar had repented, it may have been like the story of Ninevah. 

God had sent Jonah to tell Nineveh that they would be destroyed in only 40 days because of their sins. Immediately they clothed themselves in sackcloth and ashes (mourning over their sins), fasted, and prayed. The king sent out a decree that even the animals would not eat or drink.  He commanded they turn from all evil, and turn to God.  God’s heart and mind was so changed that He spared them.

Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin.  Have you been weighed in the balances and found wanting?  You have two possible futures – be like Babylon, or like Nineveh.  Reject God, or Choose God.

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