Have you ever known people who are stubborn or hardheaded? When it comes to the things that God is trying to show or tell them, do they just ignore it? In the Bible, Jonah was stubborn at first, but eventually did what God wanted him to do. However, there is one person that simply refused to “Read the Hand writing on the Wall!” His name was Belshazzar:
Daniel 5:1 – Belshazzar the king made a great feast for a thousand of his lords, and drank wine in the presence of the thousand. (Babylon had become the leading city in the world and might have had a population of 200,000 people.)
(Verse 2) While he tasted the wine, Belshazzar gave the command to bring the gold and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple which had been in Jerusalem, that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them.
Culture and Biblical language will call the grandfather and great-grandfather and any ancestor the father. Belshazzar was Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson. Belshazzar’s mother was Nebuchadnezzar’s daughter. Belshazzar takes the things that his grandfather took that had been dedicated to God in the temple, and pours themselves wine and drinks out of them.
(Verse 3) Then they brought the gold vessels that had been taken from the temple of the house of God which had been in Jerusalem; and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. (Verse 4) They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone. (Verse 5) In the same hour the fingers of a man’s hand appeared and wrote opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace; and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote.
(Verse 6) Then the king’s countenance changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his hips were loosened and his knees knocked against each other. In other words: He “freaked out!” This is the first time that “knees knocked, ” had ever been mentioned in any historical document.
(Verse 7) The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. And the king spoke, saying to the wise men of Babylon, “Whoever reads this writing, and tells me its interpretation, shall be clothed in purple and have a chain of gold around his neck; and he shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.” (Belshazzar was actually the second ruler. The first was his father who was out building temples to the god of sin.)
(Verse 8) Now all the king’s wise men came, but they could not read the writing, or make known to the king its interpretation. (Verse 9) Then King Belshazzar was greatly troubled, his countenance was changed and his lords were astonished. (Verse 10) The queen, because of the words of the king and his lords, came to the banquet hall. And the queen spoke, saying, “O king live forever! Do not let your thoughts trouble you, nor let your countenance change.
(Verse 11) “There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the Spirit of the Holy God. And in the days of your father (grandfather) light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, were found in him; and King Nebuchadnezzar your father – your father the king – made him chief of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers. (Verse 12) “Inasmuch as an excellent spirit, knowledge, understanding, interpreting dreams, solving riddles, and explaining enigmas were found in Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar, now let Daniel be called, and he will give the interpretation.”
(Verse 13) Then Daniel was brought in before the king. And the king spoke, and said to Daniel, “Are you that Daniel who is one of the captives from Judah, whom my father the king brought from Judah?
Look how arrogant Belshazzar was. He reminded Daniel his place, that he was nothing more than a captive. Daniel was a slave, so he needed to remember his place in front of the king. (Verse 14) “I have heard of you, that the Spirit of God is in you, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in you.
So Belshazzar had heard of the things of God and he knew there was Holy God. (Verse 15) “Now the wise men, the astrologers, have been brought in before me, that they should read this writing and make known to me its interpretation, but they could not give the interpretation of the thing. (Verse 16) “And I have heard of you, that you can give interpretations and explain enigmas. Now if you can read the writing and make known to me its interpretation, you shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around your neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.”
(Verse 17) Daniel answered, and said before the king, “Let your gifts be for yourself, and give your rewards to another; yet I will read the writing to the king, and make known to him the interpretation.
In other words: “I’ll do what you ask, but I don’t need your bribe.” (Verse 18) “O king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father a kingdom and majesty, glory and honor. (Verse 19) “And because of the majesty that He gave him, all peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him. Whomever he wished, he executed; whomever he wished, he kept alive; whomever he wished, he set up; and whomever he wished, he put down.
Keep in mind, Belshazzar was a “crown prince,” not the king. His father was the king. So in essence, Daniel is reminding Belshazzar of his place, just as Belshazzar had done to Daniel. One of the reasons that Belshazzar was so stubborn towards the things of God, is because he wanted to be the king over all, but he never really was.
(Verse 20) “But when his heart was lifted up, and his spirit was hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him. (Verse 21) “Then he was driven from the sons of men, his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild donkeys. They fed him grass like oxen, and his body was wet with dew of heaven, till he knew that the Most High God rules in the kingdom of men, and appoints over it whomever He chooses.
Daniel gave Belshazzar a history lesson in what happened to his prideful grandfather before he ever interprets the writing in such a way that maybe Belshazzar will “get it,” but he doesn’t. (Verse 22) “But you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, although you knew all this. (Verse 23) And you have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven. They have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you and your lords, your wives and your concubines, have drunk wine from them. and you have praised the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone, which do not see or hear or know; and the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified. (I imagine about now, Belshazzar is sorry he ever brought Daniel in to interpret the writing.)
(Verse 24) “Then the fingers of the hand were sent from Him, and this writing was written. (Verse 25) And this is the inscription that was written: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. (Verse 26) “This is the interpretation of each word. MENE: God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it; (Verse 27) “TEKEL: You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting; (Verse 28) “PERES: Your kingdom has been divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.” (Verse 29) Then Belshazzar gave the command, and they clothed Daniel with purple and put a chain of gold around his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.
(Verse 30) That very night Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans, was slain. (Verse 31) And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old.
Belshazzar Saw But He Didn’t Look
Growing up, Belshazzar had seen all the things done by God. He had watched, because Daniel had been there a long time and he knew what had happened. He had heard the stories of Daniel in the lion’s den and the three Hebrew boys in the fire, but he paid no mind to any of that. He also knew what had happened to Nebuchadnezzar eating grass until he was humbled by God, but again ignored all of it. He then took what was holy and used it for himself in his palace.
Spending time with God in reading His word, prayer, and worship will bring us an intimacy with the One who will bring understanding and that will break stubbornness.
Belshazzar Heard But He Didn’t Listen
He had heard all the things that Daniel had done, but it still didn’t change him. We can be a witness for others by telling them the good things that God has done for us, but if they are not open to it, they have a blindness that they refuse to see. I’ve talked to people that I cannot convince that there is only one way to God, but they insist that they are a “good person,” and they don’t need to do it the way God says. They don’t listen.
Belshazzar Knew But He Didn’t Learn
See, hear, and know; look, listen and learn. Belshazzar could have looked into God for himself, but he was too stubborn and ended up paying the ultimate price. Stubbornness is a person’s strong will, turned towards themselves, instead of God. A strong will is not bad if it is turned in the right direction. Being transparent to others so that they can see into us will help us to overcome our stubbornness.
When people turn their strong will toward God, others will see a change in them. It will be a total transformation.