Worst Response

“Then Belshazzar gave the command, and Daniel was clothed with purple, a chain of gold was put around his neck, and a proclamation was made about him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.”—Daniel 5:29 (ESV)

King Belshazzar had just been through a lot! As he’s partying and reveling in his own glories, God decides to interrupt by causing a hand to supernaturally appear and write out a cryptic message with its finger. Daniel interprets this, and the news isn’t good . . . judgment is coming upon Belshazzar and his kingdom.

Notice how Belshazzar responds to all of this above. In keeping with a promise he had previously made, Belshazzar commands that Daniel be given tremendous honor for making sense of the mysterious message. Now, it’s good that Belshazzar kept this promise before man; but unfortunately, that seems to be all that he did! There’s no sign of repentance to God, no plea for His mercy, not even a request that Daniel pray for him. Instead, here’s what happens next: “That very night Belshazzar . . . was killed. And Darius the Mede received the kingdom” (Daniel 5:30-31 ESV).

On that very same night, just a few hours later, this terrible judgment fell! Belshazzar’s kingdom passed on to another, and a new king named Darius now sat on the throne of the ancient world at that time.

This all unfolded according to God’s perfect plan. But let’s also stop and consider how Belshazzar’s pattern of making terrible choices culminated in his response to receiving news of his own judgment. He saved face by keeping his word, but lost everything else by not humbling his heart (Daniel 5:22). While Belshazzar’s place in God’s program is unique, he does reveal an important spiritual reality to us . . . the danger of responding wrongly to what God reveals to us.

If God shows us that we’re off in some way, if there’s a sin we choose to persist in or refuse to take a step we know He wants us to take; it’s foolish to then do anything other than what we’ve been shown.

Like Belshazzar, we can do something else that may look and seem right on the surface, but if it’s not what we need to do before the Lord, then it’s just camouflaged disobedience. In God’s economy, there are no substitutes for obeying Him.

Knowing what needs to be done is not doing what needs to be done. May we not only know, but live out that reality as we walk with Him.

DIG: What’s the cautionary lesson to be learned from Belshazzar here?

DISCOVER: How have you tried to substitute obedience in your relationship with God?

DO: Today, pray and ask that God’s Spirit would reveal if there’s an act of obedience He wants you to take and to empower you to take it.