Jump Start # 2030
Daniel 5:22 “Yet you, his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, even though you knew all of this.”
I’ve been preaching through Daniel. Our verse today was part of my sermon yesterday. Up to this point in Daniel, the king has been Nebuchadnezzar. Now, time has marched on. Other kings have come and gone. Belshazzar is running the kingdom while his father is out on travels. Belshazzar is more likely the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar.
During a massive banquet that he throws, he calls for the vessels that were taken from the temple in Jerusalem. Those articles of God are used to toast the Babylonian gods. Irreverent, shameful and blasphemous, they mock God and believe that their gods have made them untouchable. It is at this point that a hand appear and four words are written on the wall. No person. No face. Just a hand. The powerful king is unable to stop it. He doesn’t understand what the words mean. Fear ruins his banquet. Experts are called in and no one understands the words that were written on the wall. Someone remembers Daniel, now an old man, who interpreted the dreams of Nebuchadnezzar.
Daniel is brought in. He retells the story of how the proud and boastful Nebuchadnezzar lost his sanity and ate grass like a cow until he recognized God as the absolute ruler. His place and his mind was restored when he humbled himself. It is here that our verse is found. Daniel tells the present king, you have not humbled your heart, even though you knew all of this. The words, Aramaic financial terms, was a message from God. The Babylonian dynasty was finished. You, the king, are deficient spiritually. The kingdom is given to the Medes. That very night, the Babylonian king was killed and the Medes took over the power structure.
Our verse is so powerful for us. That ending expression, “even though you knew all of this,” cuts to our hearts. Belshazzar knew about Nebuchadnezzar. He knew what lessons God had taught the king. Yet, he ignored all of that.
On a large scale we see applications of this all around us. Here is a guy who watched his parents smoke themselves to death. And, he smokes just the same. He has not learned any lessons. Or, here is a guy who grew up in the home of a drunk. He saw all the trouble that came with that. Yet, today he walks in the same steps, even though you knew all of this.
But spiritually, the lessons are astounding.
Here is someone who grew up in a family that rarely talked about spiritual things. The Bible was not the center piece of the home. Worshipping God was not a regular activity of that home. Prayers were not said very often. Now, years later, in his own life, work, kids, and sports have filled his time. He finds himself walking in the very same shadows as he grew up. He is doing the same things, even though he knew all of this.
There are some reasons for that:
First, even though one knows, some how they think it will be different for them. The smoker thinks he will escape the diseases that come from smoking. The Christian who doesn’t take advantage of the opportunities that a congregation offers him, thinks everything will turn out fine some how. Even though he knows, he believes it will be different for him. It usually isn’t different. His heart, his home, his life, reflects the choices that he has made. Some will grow up and be just as weak as their parents were. Some will follow the very mistakes that they read about in the lives of the Bible characters.
Second, knowing, isn’t the same thing as doing. It takes effort, time and will power to make the changes that will bring positive results. Many can talk a good game, but they come up short in the doing department. They can spend a long time in the huddle, discussing what ought to be done, but in the end, nothing does get done. We can sit in a Bible class or listen to a sermon about the lukewarm Christians who lived in Laodicea. We can talk about the signs of lukewarmness. We can talk about what prevents lukewarmness. We can talk about the solutions to being lukewarm. Powerful studies. We go home, and do nothing with that information. The class papers are tossed. The sermon is soon forgotten. We drift along, ourselves bordering on being lukewarm, and nothing changes. Knowing isn’t the same as doing.
Third, there are those who take what they learned to heart and they become what God wants. This is why we constantly retell those great and powerful stories from the Bible. They were written for our instruction. They are examples, good and bad for us. We don’t have to make the same mistakes as others. We don’t have to be the product of our times. We don’t have to think like everyone else thinks. We don’t have to do what comes naturally. We can transcend all of that. We can be renewed in our minds. The inner man can be renewed day by day. The spiritual knows these things and makes the appropriate changes. He doesn’t need to wait for the calendar to change to a new year to make resolutions, he is doing that weekly. He is adjusting as he learns. Better attitudes. Kinder words. More thankful. A better servant. Over and over he learns and over and over, the better he becomes. He is not just following the path of others, he is following the path of the Savior. He is making a new path for his family. He knows and so he changes his life.
Unlike Belshazzar, who refused to humble his heart, even though he knew, God’s people are humbling themselves. They know the same lesson that Belshazzar knew, but they have chosen to honor and exalt God. Belshazzar knew, but did nothing with what he knew. God’s people are growing, changing and getting better all the time.
This is a powerful reason for Bible classes and Biblical sermons. We need to know. Based upon what we know, we become. Those old, old lessons still work. They still touch the heart that is honest and good.
Belshazzar was a fool. He died that very night. His lavish, blasphemous banquet became his last supper and he didn’t even realize it. How can a king be partying while the enemy are outside the walls? How did he not know? Asleep at the wheel of life. Oblivious to what is going on around him. Ignoring the things that he knew. How many today, are following in those same steps? Partying through life, laughing all the way, while judgment sits just outside the walls.
Even though he knew…