A new king assumes the throne. Belshazzar holds a great feast for thousands and many drink from the vessels taken from the temple of God. (Dan 5)
As they drank, they worshipped the gods of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood and stone. (If plastic would have been around, surely, they would have worshipped the plastic god too)
And as they worshipped false gods and drank from holy vessels, fingers appeared and wrote on the wall.
Seeing this, the king’s countenance changed (uh, you think?) and his knees began to knock together in fear.
Like Nebuchadnezzar before him, the new king seeks someone to interpret what has been written.
The queen reminds him about Daniel who reminds Belshazzar of all that had happened with his father, Nebuchadnezzar.
Daniel tells Belshazzar, although you knew all this, you have not humbled your heart and you have lifted yourself against the Lord of Heaven. (Dan 5:22)
And then, the ominous words, supernaturally written on the wall, are interpreted by Daniel—
“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.” (Dan 5:27-27)
And that very night, Belshazzar is slain and the kingdom taken over by Darius the Mede. (Dan 5:30-31)
And there is no other chance for Belshazzar.
Unlike Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar isn’t given seven years of grazing in a field to finally come to his senses and recognize the One True God.
I don’t know why.
But, I do know none of us can just assume we’ve got time to come to our senses about the One True God… later, when we are older, after we have had our fun, tried every other thing, and right before we die.
I fear there are many, like Belshazzar, who have forgotten the lessons of those who have come before us, who join the lost world in worshipping every false god on the planet, and rejoice in creating their own little kingdoms where they rule and do what feels right to them.
But for them, like it was for Belshazzar, the writing is on the wall.
For there is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. (Prov 14:12)
Maybe that’s a little too “ fire and brimstone” for some. But the truth is dead is, well you know, dead.
And Hell is real. It’s spoken of by Jesus more than He speaks of Heaven. He spoke of Hell more than anyone else in the Bible.
“Jesus doesn’t only reference hell, he describes it in great detail. He says it is a place of eternal torment (Luke 16:23), of unquenchable fire (Mark 9:43), where the worm does not die (Mark 9:48), where people will gnash their teeth in anguish and regret (Matt. 13:42), and from which there is no return, even to warn loved ones (Luke 16:19–31). He calls hell a place of “outer darkness” (Matt. 25:30), comparing it to “Gehenna” (Matt. 10:28), which was a trash dump outside the walls of Jerusalem where rubbish was burned and maggots abounded. Jesus talks about hell more than he talks about heaven, and describes it more vividly. There’s no denying that Jesus knew, believed, and warned against the absolute reality of hell.” (Schmucker)
If we don’t understand the reality of hell, we won’t rightly understand the glory of the gospel and just how much Christ has done for us.
And, what’s more, if we believe God’s Word and fail to warn others, do we actually care for them at all?
Is it uncomfortable? Yes, often it is.
But I’m so thankful for those who loved me enough to tell me the truth. Aren’t you?