Sometime into the exile of the Jews in Babylon, King Nebuchadnezzar died and his son, Belshazzar, took the throne. The new king did not respect the Most High God as his father had come to do. One day he threw a great banquet for a thousand of his nobles. Can you imagine the catering bill?
Belshazzar decided to pull out all the stops, and ordered that the gold and silver goblets his father had captured from the Temple in Jerusalem be brought out for the nobles to use to drink wine at the party. These goblets had been consecrated for use in worship in the Temple. They were holy things – set apart for special use, and never meant to be used at a common banquet. Using them to drink wine and get drunk showed profound disrespect for the God to whom they were dedicated.
In addition, Daniel 5:3-4 says this:
So they brought in the gold goblets that had been taken from the temple of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines drank from them. As they drank the wine, they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone.
They not only used the sacred goblets to party, they used them to worship idols. Yahweh was not impressed.
Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand 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. (Daniel 5:6 NIV)
This supernatural thing happened. The hand of God appeared and wrote something on the wall Belshazzar could not read. But he knew instinctively it was something important and something frightening. The king called for his learned ones (enchanters, astrologers and diviners) to interpret the writing on the wall, but they could not.
The queen remembered that Daniel had interpreted dreams and visions for her father-in-law, Nebuchadnezzar, and suggested the king consult him. So Daniel was called in. Daniel launched into a prophetic word, speaking truth to the most powerful king on earth. He reminded Belshazzar that God had favored his father with glory and splendor, and had also humbled him by giving him the mind of an animal until he acknowledged the Most High God was sovereign.
“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 and your concubines drank wine from 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:
MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN
“Here is what these words mean:
Mene: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.
Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.
Peres: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” (Daniel 5:22-28 NIV)
God’s judgment against Belshazzar was swift and complete. That very night he was murdered, and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom of Babylon, inaugurating the kingdom of the Medes.
It matters how we handle sacred things. The communion chalices at our church are set apart for use in the sacrament to hold the Blood of Christ for the people. It would be profoundly disrespectful to fill them with Mountain Dew and use them at a pizza party for the teenagers. Sacred things are not meant for common use.
And here’s the thing: the most sacred thing in your life (and mine) is our heart. Our lives have been given to us as a gift , and we are meant to bear the very image of the Most High God. Using our lives for profane things, especially after we have consecrated ourselves to Christ by faith is making light of something God considers holy.
It can become so easy to rationalize living by our own desires and convenience. We think to ourselves, “It’s just a little buzz on the weekend and I’m not hurting anybody.” Or “It’s just a little pornography, I’m not physically committing adultery.” Or “I’ve had a long week, I think I’ll just sleep in this morning instead of going to worship.”
It matters how we handle sacred things. And God does not divide our lives into “church life” and “personal life”. He makes no distinction between secular and sacred like we sometimes try to compartmentalize our lives. My life is either consecrated to Jesus Christ, or it isn’t. The last thing I want to hear from the Living God is “You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.” To believe in Jesus but continue to live worldly, indulgent lives is not really to “believe” in Jesus at all. We are either in or out. We either pursue Him with our whole hearts or we use Jesus like a spiritual bandaid so we can feel better about ourselves. The Lord of the universe will not be treated that way.
This does not mean we need to be perfectionists and legalists. We don’t have to spend our lives worrying that we’ve slipped up in a weak moment, and now God is going to lower the hammer on us. But I believe it’s vital that we refuse to play games with our faith and instead pursue Jesus with our whole heart and life. And in humility, it’s important to admit He is God and I am not, and to live our lives accordingly.
I’m pursuing Jesus with all my heart and life. How about you?