As we have seen through the previous chapters of Daniel, God is all-powerful. His power and victory don’t depend on worldly circumstances or the choices of worldly kings. He is sovereign over all things. In this particular account, we are thrust into a scene of flagrant sin on the part of the Babylonian king, Belshazzar, and his people. He had decided to use the cups from the temple that Nebuchadnezzar had taken from Jerusalem years before. However, not only did he chose to use these sacred cups, he chose to use them as he praised false gods. He was full of pride and arrogance as he partied with his people and blasphemed the one true God. When the writing appeared on the wall, Belshazzar was stunned. Though he did not know the meaning or the source of the writing, he knew something was terribly wrong. After many failed attempts at interpretations from the Babylonians, Daniel was called in to provide the same wisdom he had provided to Nebuchadnezzar in years past.
Daniel took time to remind the king of the folly and restoration of Nebuchadnezzar before he provided an interpretation. Daniel pointed out that just as Belshazzar was a man of pride, so was Nebuchadnezzar. The difference was that in the end Nebuchadnezzar recognized God’s power and humbled himself, whereas Belshazzar refused to part with his pride. The true sorrow comes in that though he heard the word of God, he didn’t turn from his ways. That very night he met the destruction God had promised. God couldn’t let this blatant sin go unpunished because he is a just and holy God.
Belshazzar’s arrogance and issues of the heart are what ultimately led to his demise. His actions seem so much worse than many of the sins we find ourselves trapped in. But are they really? I’m sure if we took the time to honestly search our hearts we’d find traces of idolatry, that one thing we so often let take priority over our relationship with God. We might find some pride as we spend so much time judging the actions, thoughts, and choices of those around us. We are all plagued with heart issues that stem from our sinful nature, however, we have also heard the Word of God. We are provided with His inspired Word to lead us in the way that we should go, to show us His unbroken plan for redemption. Will we choose to search our hearts and humble ourselves before Him or continue to live in pride?