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Wednesday: Weighed and Found Wanting — 11 Comments

  1. There is an English saying, "There is none so blind as those who will not see." that reflects a couple of verses in the Bible:

    Therefore I speak to them in parables; because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. Matt 13:13

    Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears and hear not:

    All of these sayings could well apply to Belshazzar. Ho had lost the Battle of Opis, Cyrus's army were digging the dirt out of the banks of the canal outside the city walls and his own courtiers were plotting against him. Then he decided to hold a party, and in the process thumbed his nose at other cultures by profaning their sacred vessels. He reckoned that he could not understand the writing on the wall, My take is that he did not want to understand and even an epiphany was not going to awaken him to reality.

    History records that Babylon was taken without resistance, and didn't even bother to record the details of Belshazzar's death.

    There are those who danced on the sloping decks of the sinking Titanic, those who played music while Rome burned. And those who slept as the signs pointed to the destruction of the earth and the return of Jesus. "He that hath an ear, let him hear!"

  2. ...Not to be confused with insolence on the part of Daniel, rather Daniel merely states he will read the writing for free. His refusal of such gifts also makes it clear that, come what may, he is determined to tell the truth no matter what the inscription says or means. Daniel is plain and bold, qualities that we so desperately need today (Ephesians 6:19; 2 Corinthians 3:12).
    Daniel now repeats what had happened to Nebuchadnezzar in the previous chapter (5:18-22). He makes it clear that Belshazzar knew all about what had happened to Nebuchadezzar (5:22). This was not new information to him. This is a story that he had probably heard since childhood. The problem was not ignorance, but insolence. "Pay attention to what Belshazzar teaches you: having clear information does not guarantee the right response. He knew all this but did not humble his heart (5:22). So having good data does not necessarily bring about required change. Yet Western culture assumes that it will. Political and social gurus preach the information fallacy constantly. In my own country the knee-jerk reaction to any social problem seems to be, ‘Well, we must educate people’. This often means we throw money at it, construct a bureaucracy to oversee it, and try to fund it in some budget. But it’s all built on the assumption that education will bring transformation... But Daniel’s point is – Belshazzar knew and it didn’t matter”

    How about us? What are we actually doing with the truth that has been revealed to us in Scripture? Let us soberly reflect upon the words of the Savior when He said, “And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes” (Luke 12:47).

  3. Today's lesson refers to "justice" and "judgment" in its final question. I would ask how are 'justice' and 'judgment' reflected in today's portion of scripture being studied.

    It is very interesting (and significant) to note Daniel 5:23 as the verse preceding Daniel 5:24-28. What do we see being pointed out in Daniel 5:23 that sets the context for Daniel 5:24-28? Let's take a careful look.

    1. Daniel identifies that Belshazzar is motivated by self-exaltation. What is the significance of this? Self-renunciation (ie self-renouncing love) is the hallmark trait/principle that underpins true/abundant life. As I have previously proposed, it would appear that true/abundant life is the only viable reality. Consequently, self-renunciation is the only motivation that a person can have that is compatible with abundant life. Belshazzar, like Satan, was motivated by self-exaltation - a trait that when embraced, takes the person from viable to non-viable (as per Genesis 2:17). Recall what happened to Eve and Adam (and consequently to the human race) in Genesis 3 as a result of exchanging self-renunciation for self-exaltation (Genesis 3:6) as their core motivation (Romans 5:14).

    2. Daniel identifies that the gods that Belshazzar praised are in fact impotent - they are only created objects that have no capacity to see, hear or understand.

    3. Daniel contrasts these impotent so-called 'gods' with The (True/Real) God who "holds in His hand your (a) breath of life and (b) ways. Daniel is pointing out the truth/reality that life and living, being and doing are not possible apart from God and the way/s of His Kingdom. There is no other viable basis for life.

    At this point it is critical to also note something very important. In Genesis 2:17 God said to Adam and Eve that in the day they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they would die in that day. But they didn't. Was God lying? Some have explained this situation by suggesting that God didn't mean they would die physically, but that they would die spiritually or that the death process would start. I actually believe that God meant that they would die and that it would have been an instantaneous thing. If you were to sever your connection with the one who holds in His hands your breath of life (ie sustains you on a miscrosecond by microsecond basis), how long would you last?

    So how come Adam and Eve didn't die that day/moment - and the rest of us are still 'alive'? I believe that God outlined in Genesis 2:17 the reality that there is no alternative viable option of life other than the one He is and that he correspondingly creates in accordance with. Thus while Eve and Adam joined with Satan in entering the reality of lawlessness that results in self-destruction, God also responded to the activation of that reality with the provision of a grace-based second chance (as per His heart of compassion 2 Peter 3:9) via the offer/plan of salvation. Thus, we currently exist under what I can best (but not perfectly) describe as a temporary virtual-reality where God, for now, in grace gives a measure of existence to all - the righteous and the unrighteous alike (see Matthew 5:44,45) hoping that as many as possible will choose the way of self-renouncing life over self-seeking/exalting perishing. This is a really complex phenomena (way beyond our capacity to fully understand) but we can know that it involves also restraining the inherent consequences of sin/lawlessness in order to provide a window for salvation. Thus, while the provision of life within heaven and other worlds only involves the provision of life, provision of 'life' within our 'temporary, virtual-reality' necessarily also involves the provision of restraint of death/decomposition (as per Revelation 7:1, 2 Thessalonians 2:5,6). It is important to know this because based on our experience, we can draw a false conclusion that life is viable independent of God under self-seeking/exalting. But the truth is it only appears to be viable because God is graciously sustaining both the righteous (self-renouncing) and unrighteous (self-seeking) via provision and restraint for a temporary period of time to enable all to have a second chance at choosing the only viable way of life.

    This is the background and context within which Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin is located - and therefore how 'judgment' and 'justice' are expressed.

    Mene: God has numbered your kingdom. To number is to count off a certain amount and not to provide (count out) beyond that number. God provides the capacity to exist/'live' even to those who live according to lawlessness for a period on a grace-basis for the purpose of offering an opportunity for them to choose life/salvation. However, when a person continues to use that life for destructive purposes, there comes a point where the grace-based provision becomes counterproductive: the costs now outweigh the benefits so to speak. This is the 'point' at which God therefore releases the here-to-fore provided restraint (to varying degrees in varying instances - hence the complexity) and thus the reality-based consequences of lawlessness take over. God was therefore revealing/disclosing that He was no longer going to restrain the consequences of Belshazzar's (and by extension Babylon's) lawlessness. Belshazzar wanted to live by the impotent gods of gold, silver, etc - so God was granting him his heart's desire and releasing him to do so (as per Romans 1:18-32; 2:4-16).

    Tekel: You have been weighed and found wanting/deficient. If you look carefully at this phenomenon, weighing is an objective phenomenon. No-one decides or determines the weight of the thing being weighed. Weighing merely reveals/discloses the weight that exists. This is God's 'judgment' process and outcome - the revealing/diagnosing and prognosing of the state of something for all to see (see for example 1 Corinthians 4:5).

    The notion of God's 'judgment' being a determination (as opposed to a revelation) does not match key scriptural references to judgment - such as John 3:18-21 and John 5:24. Even within a forensic setting, strictly speaking, 'judgment' is a careful examination of the facts to reveal/disclose what actually has happened. Unfortunately, the notion of a judge arbitrarily determining whether a person is guilty or not has clouded Christianity's portrayal of God's judgment.

    Upharsin: Your kingdom has been divided... This is a past tense action and in light of what has been said above, can be seen as the inherent consequence of lawlessness that has already been at work. God is essentially therefore revealing 'the cancer' that has become irreversibly terminal. Lawlessness cannot promote and sustain anything other than destruction. Therefore it was Belshazzar and his leading officials' government of lawlessness that had fostered and facilitated the destruction of the Babylonian empire - just as history has also revealed it to do in many subsequent empires.

    So where does 'justice' fit in? Justice in human understanding predominately means to make someone pay and is based on the view that if someone isn't punished, then it is not fair. But this is not God's form of justice. God's form of justice is to actually restore back to the way things should be - to restore back to righteousness. How does God restore things back to the way they should be? This is the complex process referred to above that in summary involves the interplay between:

    a) provision of an opportunity for a second chance to all
    b) temporary promotion of the capacity for existence as well as restraint of the forces of lawlessness that would otherwise compromise the provision of that existence and hence the chance of a second chance
    c) eventual release of that restraint (partially within this world here and now and fully at a point in the future as per Revelation 20) resulting in unrestrained self-destruction of lawlessness which by nature will leave only that which is in harmony with self-renouncing abundant life once again (as per Revelation 22:1-5).

    I hope this detailed explanation helps outline some of the key aspects of the big picture/background that I would propose illustrates how God's judgment and justice are not the arbitrary phenomena that we typcially understand/conceive of as humans but are instead reflective of God's higher, reality-based and embedded ways (as per Isaiah 55:8,9).

    • The way I see life after Adam and Eve sinned, Phil, is much like you see it, except I wouldn't call it "virtual reality." It is reality, but a probationary state within which God still gives life to sinners who want to be separated from Him (i.e. dead) Sinners who do not want to connect to God are thus "the walking dead." In the NT the Bible often refers to new life in Christ simply as "life" as opposed to the "death" of the life of sin. See, for example Luke 15:24, Romans 6:13, Acts 11:18

      • I concur with what you are saying regarding our ‘life’ being a probationary state. And that compared to the quality of the abundant life that Adam and Eve had prior to Genesis 3 and which will be restored in the New Earth, the ‘quality’ of this present existence is essentially a ‘walking dead’ state of decay and demise.

    • God said, “...for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”(Gen 2:17). Didn’t they eat? Yes! Didn’t they die? Yes!!
      Jesus said, “Follow me, and allow the dead to bury the dead.”(Matt 8:22)
      “When we were dead in our transgressions, He made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him in the heavenly in Christ Jesus.” (Rom 2:5,6). See also Eph 2:1; Col 2:13.
      “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has *passed out of death into life*.”(Jn 5:24)
      “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death.”(1 Jn 3:14).
      The effect was immediate. That which was “bone of my bone”... became shameful in appearance. They covered up that which was good and glorious to God. God became an enemy to hide from. Light became offensive. They sought the shadows, of death.
      In Scripture light and life, death and darkness are linked (Ps 36:9; Prov 20:27; Jn 8:12; 1 Tim 6:16; Ps 23:4; Job 10:21,22). “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.”(Jn 1:4) Life was manifested in Adam as light, that which distinguished and dignified him above the animals over which he was given dominion - conscience, reason, moral and spiritual intellect. Endowed with will Adam was capable to some extent of meeting and understanding his Creator. He could appreciate and sympathize with His purposes, and respond to His love. See what happened above when Adam died, when the light went out.
      Was Adam given a second chance? A second chance to do what? Was it to be tested once more,as a fallen being? For what purpose? The life of Adam was not “abundant” life. It was perfect natural earthly life (1 Cor 15:45-49). Eternal life, the promised abundant life, comes through Christ (last Adam) (Tit 1:2,3; 1Pt 1:20; 1 Jn 5:11,12), of whom Adam was a type (Rom 5:14). Adam convinced himself that he was the heir, and many today still think that he was really the heir but failed. Christ was always the Heir. All things were made for Him, including Adam (Heb 1:2; Col 1:16). He redeems all His brothers and sisters. Adam brought them to corruption. God reprised this scenario in Abraham. Abraham had two sons - one born according to the flesh, who persecuted the other one born according to promise by the Spirit (Gal 4:23,24,28,29). God told Abraham, “Take now your son, your only son...??”(Gen 22:2). Christ is the only begotten Son. Abraham gave gifts to his flesh-born sons, but Isaac was given the inheritance(Gen 25:5,6).

      • Thanks Kenny for your input.

        Unfortunately I am having difficulty understanding the point you are trying to convey in your last paragraph so could you please restate your viewpoint so I can better understand it.


  4. The LORD is not arbitrary, His actions are not random or based on a whim, He clearly sets out the reasons of why the king is to be punished, that he has been judged and found guilty, then the judgment is executed by Cyrus, Gods anointed executioner.

    Just as in the case of Sodom and Gomorrah, the LORD came down himself to check out their evil ways and then completely destroyed them with fire and brimstone.
    Just as in the days of Noah, the LORD examined the hearts and found them only evil all of the time and then destroyed the entire world.
    Although in each case a remnant was saved.

  5. In Daniel 5:22 He told the king he had not humbled his heart, although he knew all the history of what had happened in king Nebuchadnezzar's reign. It reminds me of the abundant writings we have about Jesus and are also without excuse for humbling our hearts.

  6. Belshazzar was defiant in the same way that Lucifer was defiant. His duties as Crown Prince, according to Wikipedia, we’re to restore the Babylonian god Marduk, who had been demoted in favor of the moon god Sin. So when he took the vessels that were part of the temple services of the God of Heaven, he knew exactly what he was doing. He was dethroning the God of Heaven.

  7. Josiah Kariuki's comment “And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes” (Luke 12:47) was probably used to maintain control during American slavery. However, Harriet's read was if you know your master's will is to sell you to the deep South, talk to God, fix your eyes on the North star and get out of there.


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