Are You Prepared?
Day: 13 | Plan: Daniel
Today's Reading: Daniel 5:1-12
Daniel 5:5 (ESV) "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."
We knew a threat was possible. As a storm system tracked its way across my state, the weather service issued warnings of the storm's severity and path. Those warnings allowed us to be prepared for damaging winds, hail and even tornadoes. I made sure I had everything in place and received updates about the storm because I didn't want to be caught unprepared.
In Daniel 5, we're introduced to King Belshazzar who is caught unprepared during an evening of self-indulgent celebration. Many years have passed since the conclusion of Chapter 4. Nebuchadnezzar, his "father," or predecessor no longer reigns in Babylon. Most scholars agree Belshazzar was not the actual king of the Babylonian empire. Instead, he was the son of King Nabonidus and stood in as ruler over Babylon, second in command, while his father fought abroad to defend and expand the kingdom. (Daniel 5:7)
The night Belshazzar gathered thousands of his lords, wives and concubines for a great feast, it's likely the Persian army had surrounded the city and was looking for a way in. Many scholars believe Belshazzar's feast took place on the eve of the fall of Babylon.
Whether he dismissed the threat or tried to forget it, Belshazzar put his confidence in the security of the city's defenses and put his hope in his false gods. (Daniel 5:4) He even went so far as to mock God by using the vessels of gold and silver from the temple in Jerusalem for his own pleasure. (Daniel 5:2-3) But God will not be mocked. (Galatians 6:7) Daniel 5:5 tells us God interrupted Belshazzar's revelry in the form of a literal hand.
The writing on the wall set off a series of responses by the king and his wise men, all indicated by the word then.
- Then the king trembled in fear and turned to his wise men for help. (Daniel 5:6-7)
- Then the wise men tried to interpret the writing on the wall but failed. (Daniel 5:8)
- Then the king's terror grew even greater, and no one knew what to do. (Daniel 5:9)
The king's terror reveals he likely knew something about the One True God and feared the consequences he had induced. Despite what he knew, Belshazzar chose to ignore God's authority and therefore found himself hopeless and afraid on the day God suddenly appeared.
The Bible tells us about another day on which God will suddenly appear. Paul writes that the day of Jesus' return to earth will come unexpectedly with ruin and destruction while people are saying there is peace and security. (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3) The question for all of us remains: What will we do then?
Paul encourages us that it will be different for God's children. We don't have to be surprised or afraid on that day. Instead, Paul charges us to stay awake and live soberly and prepared. (1 Thessalonians 5:6-8)
We don't have to live afraid of the future, because God has given us everything we need to be prepared for it. We don't have to be caught off guard like Belshazzar. We can put on the breastplate of righteousness and the helmet of salvation and live protected and confidently as the peace of God guards our hearts and minds. (1 Thessalonians 5:8; Philippians 4:7)
Prayer: Dear God, thank You for the hope we have in Jesus. You know the future, and You hold the future. Today, help me live with the confidence that You have given me everything I need to be prepared for the future. In Jesus' name, amen.
The queen, likely Belshazzar's mother, stands in stark contrast to the king in Daniel 5. While the... Read More
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