Handwriting on the wall: Can you imagine the scene at the company Christmas party if a disjointed man’s hand suddenly appeared and began to write on the wall? That was the scene at Belshazzar’s bash! God was letting him know “the party’s over”!
What does that mean for our nation and the culture we live in?
God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13.8). God has been patient and merciful to us, but He will judge our nation as a whole. In fact, the free fall in morality probably means that judgment is well underway (Rom. 1.18-32).
And on an individual basis, that judgment will happen, as well. Each of us will stand before one of two judgments (2 Cor. 5.10; Rev, 20.11) and give an account. The biggest questions will be: How did we respond to the gospel and was Jesus truly Lord of our lives?
Our New Testament reading warns us of judgment against false teachers whose biggest lies have to do with Jesus, especially about who He is. Cults, false religions, and false teachers always deny His deity, His virgin birth, His eternal nature, His Lordship, or some other characteristic of His nature.
Peter also warns us against believing and following false teachers.
“But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed” (2 Pet. 2.1-2).
Daniel 5 & 6
2 Peter 2.1-22
Handwriting on the Wall: the Party’s Over!
Daniel 5 & 6:
The Word of God: His Handwriting to Us All
Every chapter of Daniel is packed with excitement greater than any action movie. Can you imagine the scene at your company Christmas party if a disjointed man’s hand suddenly appeared and began to write on the wall? That was the scene at Belshazzar’s bash!
Belshazzar had thrown a huge party for his lords, wives, and concubines? (Ladies, how would you like it if your husband brought a few of his mistresses to your next party?)
Besides the drunkenness and immorality, he had the arrogance to bring out the temple instruments and drink from them. God used this party with all these people present to let Belshazzar know that the party was over!
He thought he was safe inside his castle and his city walls and was free to live any way he pleased. History tells us that very night his kingdom fell to the Medes and Persians and Belshazzar was killed.
Sadly, it will be much the same when Jesus comes back. People will be eating and drinking and living life as they please.
And it is already happening on an individual level every day just like the parable Jesus told in Luke 12:
16 Then He spoke a parable to them, saying. “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. 17 And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ 18 So he said, ‘I will do this. I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’
21 “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
Riches can be a huge trap which keeps people from seeking God and causes them to think they can handle anything. Like Belshazzar, it can lead them to believe they are protected from the consequences of their actions.
Today our society has taken it a step further. In our arrogance, we have begun to demand protection from the government for the consequences for every kind of sinful behavior. We see sin as a right as if making something legal or intimidating people into silence will somehow protect us from the judgment of a Holy God.
God no longer needs to write on the wall, He has already written all of His warnings and commands in His Word and on our hearts (Rom. 2.12-16). Just as in Belshazzar’s life, the things He’s written will one day, possibly soon, come to pass and the party will be over for many. Romans 6.23 says, “The wages of sin is death …” But for those who repent and turn to God, “… the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus.”
Today’s Other Readings:
His Mercy Toward Those Who Turn to Him
“Who remembered us in our lowly state, for His mercy endures forever; … Oh, give thanks to the God of heaven! For His mercy endures forever” (vv. 23, 26).
God in His mercy did indeed provide a way of escape from the eternal consequences of our sin. He sent His Son to die in our place! But we must turn from our wicked ways, self-effort, and false gospels and receive what He did for us!
When a Ruler Believes Lies
Verse 12, “If a ruler pays attention to lies, all his servants become wicked.”
I don’t know how many actually died that night, but Belshazzar took those 1000 lords down with him. They thought because they had the king’s favor, they, too, could live however they pleased.
2 Peter 2.1-22:
Peter sends a strong warning to beware of false teachers. False teachers don’t necessarily stand up and deny God or preach that Buddha or Mohammed is the answer. The enemy who uses them is much smarter and more subtle than that. Often what they preach sounds good … even biblical.
But if you look closer you will see that it is a man-centered doctrine, not a God-centered one. It appeals to the flesh and to our selfish nature. We like the idea of a god who doesn’t allow us to suffer, who always heals, who blesses financially, who overlooks our sin and selfishness and gives us favor with everyone. We like a doctrine that doesn’t focus on sin or require us to change. We want a god who always answers our prayers according to our will not His. We want to be able to command demons and have them obey us or at least have someone else do that for us.
We need to become students of the Word of God. We don’t get a god of our own making. Those who worship the true God must worship Him in spirit and in truth (Jn. 4.23)!
We need to read the Word of God in its proper context. Peter said in yesterday’s reading, “… no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation.” False teachers often take verses out of context or make them say something they don’t. Or they pick and choose the passages that fit their doctrine and neglect or explain away those that don’t. But 2 Timothy 3.16 says:
“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”
When they neglect teaching about sin and the need for repentance, they neglect Proverbs 27.5-6 which says:
“Open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”
While God does bless faithful giving, when teachers promise a return on financial “investments” in the kingdom, they can fuel a selfish “give to get” attitude. In contrast, God’s Word teaches that we are to become givers, not takers (Eph. 4.28) focused on ourselves.
We are to live our lives to please God (2 Cor. 5.9), not expecting God to please us. Jesus said, “… not my will, but Yours, be done” (Lk. 22.42).
God is good and His mercies endure forever. He told us through the prophet Jeremiah:
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jer. 29.11).
But we must seek to know Him as He really is—to know Him, His Word, His ways and to understand His purposes so that we can worship Him in spirit and in truth.
How has God spoken to you today? Did you see a passage in a new light? Did you see an area where you need to grow and change? Did you find a promise to hold on to? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
In the next few days, we’ll talk about friendship, judgment, the Rapture, the Tribulation and how blameshifting leads to despair.
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Getting ready for 2018 with a Chance to Win a Bible & Journal
The holidays are just around the corner and the new year will be on us before we know it. What will you do to make Bible reading and prayer an ongoing habit in the coming year? I’d like to encourage you to set a goal to read through the Bible and to sign up for my daily encouragement. This year I’ll be adding Scripture-based prayers to each day’s post. If you sign up before December 15 you’ll have a chance to win a MacArthur Daily Bible and a journal to record your thoughts and those Scripture-based prayers.
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Start today so you can begin the habit and it will be a regular part of your day come January.
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