Jesus empowers us to live in His Kingdom and to resist the spirit and the rewards of opposing kingdoms.
We help people find and follow Jesus, not the church staff, that’s all of us, we together, our mission is to help people find and follow Jesus. The earliest Christians, the way that they could identify themselves as Christians, as Jesus followers in the culture that they were in, it was a three-word phrase that they would use. It would identify them as Christians. It was, “Jesus is Lord.” Jesus is Lord. See, this is not dangerous for us to say. You could go out in public and say, “Jesus is Lord,” and people would just think you’re weird, but they wouldn’t hurt you.
But if you were in that day, if you went out and screamed, “Jesus is Lord,” that was in direct opposition to Caesar, to Pilate, to Rome, to the Sanhedrin, to the ruling classes. And when you said Jesus is Lord, you were in danger for your life. So, when these people said Jesus is Lord, they were declaring something radical. Not Caesar, not Pilate, not the Sanhedrin, not Rome, Jesus is Lord, and today Jesus is Lord. Jesus is Lord. Not Trump, not your husband, not your wife, not your kids. Thank goodness not our kids, right? Jesus is Lord. Today that confession holds true.
And if Jesus is Lord, if Jesus is our King and we are his followers, I think that we should look somewhat different from the people who don’t confess Jesus is Lord. Our lives should be played out in a way that is different if Jesus truly is Lord. So, what do we as Christians do? If Jesus is Lord, how do we interact with culture? Some Christians choose to isolate from culture. “If Jesus is Lord I’m gonna isolate from culture and not allow culture to creep into my life.”
Because culture creeps, doesn’t it? Culture finds its way into our lives. So, some Christians isolate. Other Christians just assimilate into culture, whether it’s a bid for relevancy or just they have given up and they’ve blended in with culture. Neither of those are the correct answer. Rather than isolation from culture, or assimilating into culture, we can and should redemptively impact culture. That’s what we as Christians get to do. Jesus has given us his Gospel message to impact culture with.
And we’ve been reading through the Book of Daniel in this series called Resist, and when we engage with Jesus in impacting culture, when we say yes to Jesus, when we declare that Jesus is Lord, we are also saying that other things are not Lord. We are saying that sin is not Lord, that culture is not Lord, that Pilate or Trump and whoever is not Lord, Jesus is Lord and we engage with culture in a different way.
That’s what we’ve been seeing through Daniel 5, through Daniel, and we’re gonna see that in Daniel 5. So, would you grab your Bibles, pass them down the row, and we’re opening to Daniel 5 on page 763, page 763. As you’re going there, I would love to give you a little bit of context. Our story today is about King Belshazzar. He’s a Regent King, meaning he’s been set up by the King, his father, King Nabonidus.
While King Nabonidus is away, King Belshazzar is in Babylon and he’s taking care of Babylon for his father. So, the context for this story is the handwriting on the wall. How many of you have heard that phrase before, the handwriting’s on the wall? That’s where it comes from, right here in Daniel 5. Historically, here’s where our story lands. How many of you remember King David of David and Goliath? You know, the little guy, slung the stone, slayed these giant. That guy. He reigned from 1010 to 970 BC. That was David’s reign over Israel.
A little later, his grandson, Rehoboam, became King in 930 BC, but Rehoboam made a foolish mistake and the Kingdom split in two. Now, there’s two Kingdoms. There’s the Kingdom of Israel under King Jeroboam, and then there was the Kingdom of Judah under Rehoboam. A lot of oboams, isn’t it? So, from 930, as you can see, all the way to 598, there was a bunch of really bad Kings. They sucked. And so because of their suckiness, God was eventually like, “Hey, we’re done.” And King Nebuchadnezzar, he allowed King Nebuchadnezzar to come, sack Jerusalem, take all the gold and treasures from the temple and then take all of the people with him back to Babylon into captivity.
So, this is where Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, this is when they go into captivity in 598. So, there’s the story of the fiery furnace. How many of you remember that? Yeah, scary. Then it’s like, “What? They didn’t burn up? How did that happen?” This is when they get taken into captivity. Now, fast forward 60 years. Nebuchadnezzar’s son, King Nabonidus, is King over Babylon. And the Medo Persian army is infiltrating Babylon.
So, King Nabonidus sets up his son as the Regent King, Belshazzar is the Regent King, and King Nabonidus goes out with his army and falls to the Medo Persian army. So, Babylon is being conquered just like it conquered Jerusalem, just like it conquered the Kingdom of Judah. Now, in our story, we have King Belshazzar in 539 BC, his father has just been defeated. King Nabonidus has just been defeated by the Medo-Persian Empire, by the Medo-Persian army, and now the army is coming for Babylon. Do you think he’s a little bit nervous? Because his father and the army have already been defeated. So, now he is a sitting duck in Babylon.
And this is where our story begins in Daniel 5. So, we are going to pray before we open the scripture because that’s a good thing. We should always do that. We should always ask that God would open our hearts to scripture as we open scripture with him. So, Jesus, we ask that you would speak to us today. Not me, not our own thoughts or ideas, not what culture’s saying, we wanna hear what you have to say, Jesus. Help us listen. Pray this in Jesus name and everyone said …
Amen. I’m gonna invite the ushers to come to receive today’s ties and offerings. Thank you for giving generously. We talk about we’re not supposed to isolate from culture or assimilate into culture, but we’re supposed to impact culture, and your generosity is a way that God is using you to impact our culture, both here, near, and far. We’re gonna give away hundreds of thousands of dollars every year to different partner organizations, non-profits and missionaries, so the work of the Gospel is going out through your generosity. So, thank you so much for being generous with your money. We give because he’s been generous to us, so thank you for your generosity. Props to her.
So, Daniel 5, Verses 1 through 9. “King Belshazzar gave a great banquet for a thousand of his nobles and drank wine with them.” Now, remember, the Medo-Persian army is on his doorstep and he chooses to throw a party? “While Belshazzar was drinking his wine, he gave orders to bring in the gold and silver goblets that Nebuchadnezzar, his father, or predecessor, had taken from the temple in Jerusalem, so that the King and his nobles, his wives and his concubines, might drink from them. So, they brought in the gold goblets that had been taken from the Temple of God in Jerusalem, and the King and his nobles and his wives, his concubines, drink from them. As they drank the wine, they praised the Gods of Gold and Silver, of Bronze, Iron, Wood and Stone.”
So, a normal party where they’d do a stupid thing, they take the gold goblets from the temple and they start drinking from them. “But suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall near the lamp stand in the Royal Palace. The King watched the hand as it wrote, his face turned pale, and he was so frightened that his legs became weak and his knees were knocking.” The Hebrew might literally mean he peed his pants, I’m not joking. The King summoned the enchanters, astrologers and diviners. Then he said to these wise men of Babylon, “Whoever reads this writing and tells me what it means, will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around his neck and he will be made the third-highest ruler in the Kingdom. Then all the Kings wise men came in-” because they wanted the reward, ” … but they could not read the writing or tell the King what it meant.
So, King Belshazzar became even more terrified and his face grew more pale. His nobles were baffled.” So, Belshazzar’s father has just been defeated, the opposing army is on his doorstep, and what does he do but throw a party? Why is he doing this? Well, I think that Belshazzar is terrified and in this moment he’s trying to numb his fear with an alcohol-fueled drunken orgy. He has stepped away from reason and has allowed himself to become numb to his fear because he cannot handle it. And when he’s drunk he calls for the gold goblets from the temple to be brought in so they can drink from them. Now, normally superstition alone would keep anyone in this culture, even the Kings, from drinking from sacred goblets like these. Because the thought was, “If I drink from the goblets that belong to a God, that God will probably be angry at me.” And hence this is foreshadowing for the story that’s going to housing.
He drinks from the goblets, makes a horrible decision, and then suddenly a disembodied hands starts writing on the wall in the plaster. Now, if I think about, okay, what’s the scariest thing that I could see, a disembodied hand isn’t the most terrifying thing, but also none of us are gonna be like, “Oh honey, look, a disembodied hand.” Right? He was terrified. He was drunk and terrified. And when he falls on the floor he starts calling for his wise men, and the Hebrew intimates that he’s screaming for his wise men over and over because he is so scared. And he gives them, he says, “You can have this reward. If you can tell me what this writing means-” ’cause he couldn’t understand the writing, “If you can tell me what it means, you will be clothed in purple, you’ll have a gold chain around your neck, and you’ll be made third ruler in the Kingdom.” But they cannot read it and it leaves him even more scared.
So, in this story, this section of the story begins and ends with fear. Point number one is this, resist fear. Resist fear. See, human culture operates on fear. There’s a spirit of fear in human cultures. Think about how politics play by fear. Advertisers pray on our fears. Bosses use fear to manipulate their employees. And if you don’t think you use fear as a parent, parents use fear all the time. They say, “Don’t make me come over there.” Right? We use fear. Credit card companies pray on our fear of missing out and so they get us to get their credit cards and swipe so we can have what we want right when we want it. In 2017, Capital One spent $197 million praying on your fears of missing out. That’s why we know their slogan. “Capital One, what’s in your …
… wallet.” To the tune of $197 million dollars. I think I probably should have saved the offering for right here. What’s in your wallet, right? It’s good I didn’t. The problem is that fear doesn’t stay isolated to specific issues. Fear is like a virus and it creeps through our souls. Fear is like a virus, it spreads quickly. You can’t swim through an ocean without getting wet, and in the same way you can’t live in human culture and not be saturated by fear. Fear is everywhere we turn and we don’t even realize it.
I fear a lot of things. I fear being labeled a failure. Does anyone else? I fear not pleasing people, because I love making people happy. I love it when they’re happy with me too. I love pleasing people and I fear that I would not please them. I fear getting to the end of my life and having major regrets. I fear a zombie apocalypse. If we aren’t careful, fear becomes the hidden motive behind much of what we do in our lives. You may say, “Hey, I’m not really fearful, I don’t have things that I’m afraid of,” but do you have worry? Do you ever experience anxiety or depression? These are emotional and biological responses to fear.
What we end up doing, we end up doing the same thing that Belshazzar does, is we numb our fears because we cannot face them. We numb our fears. And if human cultures can induce you to fear, can induce fear in you, they can sell you on their sedatives and make money off of you. That’s why human culture plays and prays on our fears, because they can sell their sedatives to us. Look at what Belshazzar did. He had an army on his doorstep, and he had this unknown message on his wall, and he sedated himself. He had this looming problem of the army at this doorstep and no army to defend himself. Think about your looming problems. Maybe it’s the credit card bill or the car payment, maybe it’s you fear that your marriage is falling apart, you fear that your marriage is going to disintegrate, or you fear you’re never going to get married, or you fear that you’re not gonna have enough money at the end of the month. And instead of facing our fears, we binge watch Netflix. We numb ourselves. We don’t face our fears.
This is what Belshazzar did and it’s what we do. Think about the unknown message on Belshazzar’s wall. What’s seemingly indecipherable in your life? Maybe you have this seemingly indecipherable health issue that’s causing fear in your life, and you don’t know how to deal with it, and your doctors don’t know how to deal with it, and it’s creating this panic, worry and anxiety in your life. Maybe the way that relationships work, you just can’t figure out how to get it right with some people and so you’re always afraid that you’re gonna do the wrong thing with whoever that is because you feel like you can’t get it right. Whatever it is, we have seemingly indecipherable things, fear that we can’t put our finger on, and yet it’s there. There’s a spirit of fear that hovers in our lives because of these seemingly indecipherable things.
And instead of engaging the problem, Belshazzar disengaged, he checked out from the problem, he disengaged his brain and we do too. I’m a conflict avoider. Anyone else? Hello. If a conflict is at my door, my natural strategy is to let it knock and ring the doorbell as long as it wants until finally it just leaves. It’s a great way to handle conflict, right? No, it’s terrible. Because I fear conflict. I wanna please people. I feat not pleasing them and so that’s my natural strategy. I fear those things. But what I’ve learned is fear thrives behind closed doors. If you leave that door closed, fear thrives behind closed doors. But it shrivels when faced head on. Fear feeds off of what if, that we ask in our lives, and it dies by what is.
So, don’t leave the door closed. Open the door to your fears in your life and face them head on. If fear dies by what is, and is Jesus is Lord, then fear is not. Fear does not have to control us, anxiety does have to plague us, worry does not have to haunt us, because Jesus is Lord, not fear. We don’t have to play by the rules of our culture and engage in these fear games. We can allow Jesus to give us faith and we can play by that rule instead. And I don’t know about you, I don’t wanna play by fear. I don’t wanna allow fear to control me and worry and anxiety to define me, I want faith to move me forward, to help me open the door and crush fear under my foot.
We don’t have to have a spirit of fear because 2 Timothy 1:7, Paul tells Timothy that, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.” God has not given you a spirit of fear. So, if you are afraid, that is not of him. That’s why we get to say no to fear and yes to Jesus, Jesus is Lord. The most common command in the Bible, get this, the most common command, the most repeated command is, “Do not be afraid.” Do not be afraid, do not be afraid, do not be afraid. I could say it 54 times for all the times that it was said in IV Old Testament. Do you want me to say it all those times? Do not be afraid. But hold on. There’s just moments when fear comes on, right? I can’t control it because fear is an emotional response to stimuli that are outside of my control.
So, what am I supposed to do? Is God saying that I should just never be afraid anything? Like if I have a charging lion coming at me, like … No, he’s saying, “Don’t stay afraid.” And friends, too many people stay afraid. Too many Christians allow fear to control their lives when Jesus has not given you a spirit of fear, he’s given you a spirit of power and of love and of sound mind. We don’t have to stay afraid.
See when I fear failure, I’m allowing a what if to control what is. Instead, I need to fix my eyes on Jesus and let who is control my emotions about the what ifs. So, I don’t need to numb myself. Instead, I can just look to Jesus. See, fear is an improper focus. It’s when we take our eyes off Jesus and his power, always wielded for good, and fix our eyes on a problem and its power to possibly, maybe, what if, harm us. 1 John 4:4 says, “Greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world.” So, don’t stay afraid. Don’t let fear control you, don’t let it consume you. Okay, we’re gonna keep going. Daniel 5 Verses 10 through 17. Daniel 5 Verses 10 through 17. So, remember, the King was afraid because his wise men couldn’t interpret the dream or couldn’t interpret the writing.
So, this is what happens in Verse 10. “The Queen, hearing the voices of the King and his nobles, came into the banquet hall. ‘May the King live forever,’ she said, ‘Don’t be alarmed. Don’t look so pale.'” Yeah, “Just stop being so pale.” “‘There’s a man in your Kingdom who has the spirit of the holy Gods in him. In the time of your father, he was found to have insight and intelligence and wisdom like that of the Gods. Your father, King Nebuchadnezzar, appointed him chief of the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners. He did this Daniel, whom the King called Belteshazzar, was found to have a keen mind and knowledge and understanding, and also the ability to interpret dreams, explain riddles and solve difficult problems like the one Belshazzar has. Call for Daniel and he will tell you what the writing means.’
So, Daniel was brought before the King and the King said to him, ‘Are you Daniel, one of the exiles my father the King brought from Judah? I have heard that the spirit of the Gods is in you and that you have insight, intelligence, and outstanding wisdom. The wise men and enchanters were brought before me, to read this writing and tell me what it means, but they could not explain it. Now, I have heard that you are able to give interpretations and to solve difficult problems. If you can read this writing and tell me what it means, you will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around your neck, and you will be made the third-highest ruler in the Kingdom.’
Then Daniel answered the King, ‘You may keep your gifts for yourself, and give your rewards to someone else. Nevertheless, I will read the writing for the King and tell him what it means.'”
So, we see Daniel is brought in to interpret the words that the magicians, astrologers and diviners could not interpret, and when he’s brought in the King offers him the same reward. He says, “Look, you can have a purple robe, a gold chain, and the third-highest position if you’ll just tell me what this means,” because King Belshazzar is terrified about this writing on the wall. He wants to know.
But Daniel says no to the rewards, he says, “No thank you, you can keep your gifts, I do not want them. But I will still tell you what is on the wall.” So, point number two is this, resist temporary rewards. God bless you. Resist temporary rewards. Daniel was offered a fantastic reward, but it was temporary. The Kingdom would crumble that night. I’m sure the allure of position and power and wealth and clothes was nice for Daniel, but he said not to it because he knew that it was not going to last. Now, when an empire is taken over by another empire, who usually gets killed first? The people in power, right?
So, Daniel was also being wise by saying no to this reward because he knew that he might be on the chopping block because the Medo-Persian army was at the doorsteps of Babylon, so he said, “No thanks, you can keep your reward for yourself, I’m just fine.” In our culture, there is so many rewards for acquiescing to culture. There are so many temporary rewards if you and I will just blend in, and temporary is tempting. The things that are temporary in our lives are tempting.
Daniel could have said, “Thank you very much,” taken the reward and run, he could have gotten out of there, but he didn’t. He could have had the mentality of accept what you can get when you can get it, but he didn’t. He didn’t want to look like a sellout even for doing the right thing. Now, you’ve heard the phrase, a bird in the hand is worth two in the …
… bush. Because what we naturally realize is that if I can have something right now then it’s better than maybe having some more of that thing later. And so what we do is we end up taking the temporary rewards that are culture offers us, instead of the eternal rewards that our Heavenly Father gives to us. As Christians we have a better reward coming than any human culture can offer us and his name is Jesus. Amen.
He is the best reward. In Hebrews, there’s a fantastic verse about this. And it’s talking about Moses, it says this, it says, “He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as a greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.”
So, Moses said no to the treasures of Egypt and instead he took disgrace for the sake of Christ. He said, “No, I will not take the treasures, I’ll take disgrace instead,” because he knew he had something better coming. And as Christians, when we engage with culture and we’re offered temporary rewards for acquiescence, we need to say no thank you because we know we have something better coming, and it’s not just something better coming, we have that something better now in Jesus.
See, Daniel did not allow his temptation, engage in the temptation to accept this temporary reward, he allowed this greater reward to lead him. And the question is what’s leading you? Is it culture’s carrot that’s right in front of you, or is it the greater reward that’s waiting for you?
Every human culture is full of temporary rewards for blending in. Think about this. You can gain temporary acceptance with the crowd by doing what is common to culture but counter to Christ. You can gain acceptance that way. You can have temporary pleasure when you overindulge in anything.
Two nights ago, I overindulged in ramen at Noodo and I was very pleased. You can have temporary happiness when you get your own way over someone else’s way. You can have temporary satisfaction when you exact revenge on someone, but it will only be temporary. As a parent, I can win a temporary victory by raising my voice at my kids when they’re not listening to me, but that is not going to win the war, it’s just going to win the battle. I don’t want to use that as my strategy, because when you accept temporary rewards for blending in, you sacrifice the eternal impact from sticking out.
And we need more Christians that stick out. We need to be those Christians who stick out, not because we’re weird or mean or angry, but because we love everyone always, because we are walking with Jesus and allowing his holy spirit to lead us through the day, and we are looking not at the temporary rewards that we have, but the eternal reward that we have in Jesus. That’s what we need.
See, if Daniel accepted the reward, would an even greater reward change his interpretation to a positive one? Or if you accept a small reward for blending in in a small way, what stops you from blending in in a big way for a big reward? As Christians we have the biggest reward possible in Jesus, so let’s make the biggest impact possible by resisting the urge to blend in for temporary rewards. So, what is our reward? John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only …
… that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Our reward is eternal life. It’s not something temporary, it is eternal. But the question begs to be asked, what is eternal life? And in John 17:3 we’re told, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” So, eternal life is not just a quantity of life, it’s a quality of life that starts now in our relationship with Jesus, and when you have that relationship with Jesus, the eternal life that you have been seeking, the eternal rewards that you have been seeking, start to happen in your soul.
So, my heart and your heart will only be satisfied when they are satisfied in him. We will not find satisfaction that lasts anywhere else. See, Jesus is better than wealth. Jesus is better than relationships. Jesus is better than sexual freedom. Jesus is better than comfort and ease. Jesus is better not just alongside of these things, but Jesus is better in exclusion to these things. I would say no to these things if it means saying yes to Jesus. In his book entitled Weird, Because Normal Isn’t Working, Craig Groeschel says this, he says, “If you pour everything you have into this life, this world, which is temporary and fading, you’re jeopardizing your relationship with God, the only thing that’s eternal.”
If we accept temporary rewards, we are jeopardizing our eternal reward, and I don’t want to jeopardize what is eternal, I don’t want to jeopardize with Jesus, the only thing that’s going to last. Here’s the reality, our culture will offer us general acceptance if we will back away from our truth claims. If we will back away from that simple three-word phrase, Jesus is Lord, culture will accept us.
But when we stand up and say, “Yeah, Jesus not only died, but he was also resurrected,” that’s when people are like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.” “Not only was Jesus a historical figure but he’s actually God come in the flesh.” “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.” If we will back away from those things and say, “Jesus is a nice guy. Yeah, Jesus lived and he died,” if we won’t talk about the resurrection and his divinity then people will say, “Yeah, you’re accepted.”
So, when we back away from our truth claims culture accepts us and they give us a lot of other offers as well to blend in with them. But when we blend in, we sacrifice the eternal impact that Jesus wants us other make.
So we’re keep going in Daniel 5: 18 through 31. We’re gonna finish this story? Are you with me?
Fantastic. So, Daniel has just told the King, “No thanks, I’m not gonna take your reward, but I will tell you what it means,” and here’s what he says to King Belshazzar. “Your majesty, the most high God gave your father, predecessor, Nebuchadnezzar, sovereignty and greatness and glory and splendor. Because of the high position you gave him, all the nations and people of every language dreaded and feared him. Those the King wanted to put to death, he put to death. Those he spared, he spared. Those he wanted to promote, he promoted. And those he wanted to humble, he humbled. But when he heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and stripped of his glory. He was driven away from people and given the mind of an animal. He lived with the wild donkeys and ate grass like the ox, and his body was drenched with the dew of the heaven until he acknowledged that the most high God is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and sets over them anyone he wishes.
“But you, Belshazzar, his son, have not humbled yourself, though you knew all this. Instead, you have set yourself up against the Lord of heaven. You had the goblets from his temple brought to you, and you and your nobles, your wives, your concubines, drank wine with them. You praised the Gods of Silver and Gold, of Bronze, Iron, Wood and Stone, which cannot see or hear or understand, but you did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways.
“Therefore, he sent the hand that wrote the inscription. This is the inscription that was written. (Foreign language). Here’s what these words mean. (Foreign language). God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end. (Foreign language). You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting. (Foreign language). Your Kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”
Then at Belshazzar’s command, Daniel was clothed in purple, a gold chain was placed around his neck, and he was proclaimed the third-highest ruler in the Kingdom. King Belshazzar gets to do whatever he wants because he’s King, and even though Daniel said no he still gave it to him.
“That very night, Belshazzar, King of the Babylonians was slain and Darius the Mede took over the Kingdom at the age of 62.”
So, this starts with Daniel retelling the story of Nebuchadnezzar, and Nebuchadnezzar’s fall because of his pride. Then Daniel looks straight at Belshazzar and says, “Look, Belshazzar, you knew the story of your predecessor but you did not humble yourself before God, therefore your pride will lead to your fall.”
Point number three is this, resist pride. Resist pride. We see at the very end of this story his pride leads to his fall, the Babylonian Empire collapses at the hands of the Medo-Persian army and King Darius the Mede takes over this empire because Belshazzar was proud. Now, what is pride? Usually we say that pride is thinking more highly of yourself than you ought to, correct? And for most of us, we don’t exist in a state of constant pride, of conscious pride. Most of us don’t walk around thinking, “I’m so amazing.” Most of us actually struggle on the opposite end, we struggle with self-esteem, with believing in ourselves. But this is just part of pride.
Pride in action is treating yourself more highly than we ought, and none of us have a problem with them. We all treat ourselves like we should treat God. We all do certain things that take care of ourselves when we should be thinking about God. We think about number one right here, instead of number one right there. We do exactly what Belshazzar did. See, pride is treating yourself more highly than you ought, or treating yourself like you should treat God.
And Belshazzar drank from the goblets that were reserved for God alone, in the same sense you and I do things in life that are, we take things in life that are reserved for God alone, his glory, his honor, and we honor ourselves instead.
My one-and-a-half-year-old, Capri, she is a sweet darling little girl. And he’s learning to talk right. When she wants my attention, this is what she does. She runs up to me, she grabs both of my legs and then leans back, looks up at me and says, “Me! Me!” I think all of us still have a one-and-a-half-year-old hidden inside of us. We still have this me mentality.
When we go through life we’re thinking about me. And we put ourselves before others, we put ourselves before God, we treat ourselves like we should be treating God. And this is exactly what Belshazzar did and that’s why the hand appeared and wrote (foreign language). Now, why couldn’t the diviners understand this? Well, these words were written out in noun form.
So, (foreign language) or minor was a coin. It was a weight of measurement. And (foreign language) was another coin, another weight of measurement. Then finally (foreign language) was another weight of measurement, it literally meant half-coin. So, the noun forms, when you look at them, you’re like minor, Shekel, half-coin, or like dollars, two dollars 50 cents, like, “What does this mean?” Right? So, that’s why they couldn’t understand it, they couldn’t interpret it.
But that’s when Daniel comes in and he interprets these nouns in their verbal form. So, he takes these nouns and takes them into their verbal form. He says, “(foreign language) means numbered. Your days have been numbered because of your pride.” He says, “(foreign language) means you’ve been weighed and found wanting. All of the pride, all of the hot air in your head, has filled you up, has ballooned you to a high position, but you are just full of hot air, you don’t have any substance inside of you. You’ve been weighed and found wanting.” Then finally he said, “(foreign language) your Kingdom will be divided.”
This is the judgment on pride for Belshazzar. This is what he gets, this is the writing on his wall. And human culture, the cultures that we live in reek of pride. We think of ourselves before we think of others, we treat ourselves like little self-consumed Gods, thinking constantly about our preservation and our glorification. We give ourselves what we want when we want it. The love that God meant for us to give to other people and to him, that love has turned inward.
And you know, I think more than anything else, I love myself. And you do too. Gaston, right? Gaston. We all have an inner Gaston where we’re just, “Yes.” And if someone, or a lot of people, were to break out in song and sing about how amazing we were, we would be all right with it. If you’re not a Gaston, you’re probably an Eeyore or somewhere near there, where you’re thinking, “Woe is me, life is hard.” And it’s still all about me.
Whether you’re a Gaston or an Eeyore, you are one of these people just like me, we are filled with pride, we’re saturated by a spirit of pride, and yet pride will lead to our fall. That’s why in James 4:6 it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” God is in opposition to the proud and we see this with Belshazzar. That’s why he says, “You’ve been numbered, you’ve been weighed, and you will be divided.” And the truth is before God we are prideful and so we will be numbered, our days are numbered, right? You’re not gonna live on this earth forever. You have been weighed and you will be found wanting. Your Kingdom, all that you amass by the end of this life will be divided between your kids or your grandkids or whoever it is. We will be numbered, weighed and divided as well.
But does Jesus change that? I wanna ask this, what’s written on your wall? What’s written on the walls of your life? You and I are both guilty of pride. Does God’s disembodied hand come and write on the walls of our life, “You’ve been numbered, you’ve been weighed, and you will be divided”? Is that our destiny because of our pride? Will we also fall because of our pride? It says God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.
So, what’s written on your wall? See, I believe when you say yes to Jesus, when you put your lives in his hand, when you humble yourself and say, “I’m a sinner and I need Jesus, I need Jesus,” you have found grace in Jesus. And instead of (foreign language), God comes in and scrubs your walls clean and he writes new words on your walls. He writes loved, he writes united with God, he writes forgiven, he writes cherished child of God in heaven. This is the new writing on your wall because of Jesus. You don’t have to be weighed, you don’t have to be divided, you don’t have to have your days numbered because Jesus has given you eternal life. When you’ve been weighed, you’ve been weighed on the same side of the scale as Jesus and you’ve been given his righteousness. And instead of being divided at the end of your life, you are united with the Heavenly Father at the end of your life, and that’s all because of Jesus.
That’s what happens when you invite Jesus in, he gives you new writing on your walls. Whether it’s the hand of culture or the hand in your mind that’s writing things on your wall, I wanna tell you that Jesus comes in with his blood and writes an eternal message on your wall that will not be washed away, that cannot be taken away. And then on your walls, when you get up in the morning you should see grace plastered on your wall and it should affect the way you live. You should see forgiven plastered on this side, and you know that you can go forward knowing that you’ve been freed of your guilt and your shame. You see cherished on this side, knowing that God takes pleasure in you. This is what we get to do as Christians.
So, friends, I wanna know, if you’re a Christian, are you living with the Gospel on your walls? Are the walls of your life filled with these words that Jesus has written in his blood, or are you still living like (foreign language) are written on your walls? I wanna challenge you, invite you, encourage you, do anything I can, to help you and I to live like the Gospel’s written on our walls, because it is. And if you’re not a Christian, what’s written on your wall? ‘Cause truth is, it’s numbered, weighed and divided.
If you’re not a Jesus follower, your days are numbered, you’ve been weighed and found wanting, you will be divided at the end of your life. But when you come to Jesus, he’ll write something new on your wall. And so if you have never made that decision to follow Jesus, if you’ve been around for a while or if this is your first time ever been here and you’re thinking, “Man, this sounds pretty amazing,” then you’re onto something. It is pretty amazing, right?
Jesus will come in and write something new on your wall. When you say yes to Jesus, you say no to sin, no to death, no to pain, no to the old life that you lived because Jesus is creating a new life in you. And if that’s what you want, if you wanna say no to fear being your Lord and yes to Jesus being your Lord, if you wanna say no to pride and yes to Jesus and humility that he gives you, then what I want you to do with all of us in just a moment is to say those three words that early Christians did to identify as Jesus followers. They would say Jesus is Lord.
And when you say Jesus is Lord, you’re saying fear is not, sin is not, death is not. I will not be constrained by the old things, I am going to be released by the freedom of Jesus, to walk in his holy spirit. And so if that’s you, if you wanna say that for the first time, that Jesus is Lord, you’re becoming a Christian today, giving your life into his hands, then I want you to say that with all of us together right now. Let’s say this together. Jesus is Lord.
Let’s say it one more time. Jesus is Lord.
Oh, just one more time, Jesus is Lord.
Jesus is Lord. And if you just said that for the first time, that’s true in your life, there’s no more what ifs defining an unclear future or destiny, Jesus is your destiny changer. He’s written new words on the walls of your life, and he is Lord and fear is not and pride is not and the temporary rewards are not, Jesus is Lord.