Daniel 5:1–6:28, 1 Thessalonians 5:12–28, Job 41:10–20
The human heart so easily slides into a ‘works-righteousness’ attitude that thinks I can give/do/perform so that God will be pleased. But I have nothing to give God. It is as God said to Job, “Who has given me anything that I need to pay back? Everything under heaven is mine.” (Job 41:11 NLT)
In the days of Daniel, four kings ruled Babylon. None of them started out thinking God had anything to do with their lives, particularly their success, but God confronted their pride with varying results.
The second king was Belshazzar. God came uninvited to a big party where this man called for the vessels of gold and of silver that Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken out of the temple in Jerusalem. Then he and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them and “praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone.” At that, the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace. The king saw the writing on the wall, and his “color changed, and his thoughts alarmed him; his limbs gave way, and his knees knocked together.” (Daniel 5:2–6)
None of his wise men could interpret the writing, so Belshazzar called for Daniel. Daniel reminded him of what happened to his father when his heart was lifted up and his spirit hardened, and how his pride was brought down by a long period of having a mind like a beast. He lived with wild donkeys and he ate grass like an ox until he knew “that the Most High God rules the kingdom of mankind and sets over it whom he will.”
Then Daniel said, “And you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this.” (Daniel 5:20–22). The writing on the wall was translated and spelled out the end of this man’s rule, and “That very night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was killed.”
Darius the Mede became the next king. He liked Daniel and planned to set him over the whole kingdom. However, his officials were jealous and concocted a plot, resulting in Daniel being thrown into a den of lions. (Daniel 6:3–4) Darius was sleepless. The next day, he went to the den where Daniel was and cried out in anguish, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?”
Daniel answered, “O king, live forever! My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.” (Daniel 6:20–22) And lest anyone think the lions were not hungry, Darius tossed the people who betrayed Daniel into that same den and they were immediately gobbled up.
Darius realized the power of God over the plans of men. He made a decree: “In all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel, for he is the living God, enduring forever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end. He delivers and rescues; he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, he who has saved Daniel from the power of the lions.” (Daniel 6:26–27)
God owns everything under heaven and also rules it all. He has the power to write on a wall the fate of a proud man’s life, and the power to control the actions of hungry lions.
Because of this power, some say things like “Let go and let God” as if He will zap us with whatever we need or will solve our problems. Others say we have to at least do something. As for me, when God steps in, I so easily pat myself on the back instead of giving Him the glory, yet He is my Savior. I cannot save myself, nor could Nebuchadnezzar, or Belshazzar, nor Darius, nor even Daniel. I’m helpless without God.
Because that is the case, I’m so thankful that His Word says, “Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23–24)
The song says Jesus loves me, and that we are weak but He is strong. This is true. Kings cannot build kingdoms without Him, and no one can be holy or blameless apart from His faithful and keeping power!