Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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Handwriting on the Wall 8.9.2015
Dear friend,

Grace and Peace from God our Father and from His Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be to you now and always!

The Occasion
As we move to chapter five of the book of Daniel, we find a great party being held by a successor (Belteshazzar) of King Nebuchnezzar. Belshazzar was not worshipping the living God as his predecessor had, but was steeped in his worship of his pagan gods and went so far as to blaspheme the Living God by profaning the holy vessels that had been carried from the Temple in Jerusalem. It was while this party was going on that the following happened:

God Speaks
Daniel 5: 5 In the same hour came forth fingers of a man's hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king's palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote.
6 Then the king's countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.
(The hand wrote the following words: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.

Daniel explains why the words were written:
5:22 And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this;
23 But hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified:

Daniel explains the meaning of the writing on the wall.
Daniel 5:24 Then was the part of the hand sent from him; and this writing was written.)
25 And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.
26 This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it.
27 TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.
28 PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.

That which came to pass....
29 Then commanded Belshazzar, and they clothed Daniel with scarlet, and put a chain of gold about his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.
30 In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain.
31 And Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old.

Before I began to preach the first sermon on the book of Daniel, I asked the congregation to share with me of what they remembered most about the book of Daniel and immediately they shared with me: Daniel and the Lion's Den and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace. We have already spent some time considering the account of the three men who were put into the fiery furnace by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and next week hope to get to the account of Daniel being put into the lion's den because of his refusal to obey the demand to pray only to the King of Babylon. In between those two stories, we find in chapter 5, which we have briefly outlined at the beginning of this writing: The "hand" writing on the wall.

As I have spent time reading this chapter, thinking about it, meditating over it, sorrow began to seep into my soul as I considered the end that came upon the Belshazzar because of his rejection of the Living God. After witnessing the amazing grace of God towards his predecessor Nebuchadnezzar in the previous chapters and of the transformation of the mind and the soul that came to him, it is such a contrast to read of that which came to Belshazzar. So it is with great difficulty that I put together this message on this particular chapter this morning and find myself before the throne of God in deep sorrow over the manner and over the end of the life of one of God's created sons: Belshazzar......asking Him to give me His mind and heart as I share with my beloved congregation this morning in our worship service. May this sorrow for the end of Belshazzar be turned into compassion for those who are in similar conditions, but mingled with hope as we think of the power of the Gospel of Christ.

So, with a great need for help from the Holy Spirit, let us begin...First of all it has been helpful for me to remember the three main themes in this book: God's care for those who rely and trust upon Him in the darkest of times, His superintending over all of human events, and most importantly, the preeminence of the eternal kingdom of which the Messiah will reign over. Of the three, the last one is the most important as it is because of one's trust in that which the Gospel of Christ has delivered to us that we, like those in Daniel's time, are able to rest in the knowledge that in the end all is well, for we are victorious in Christ and the events of the world are going to be governed by our God according to His purposes.

I would like to consider this portion in two ways: One from the context of the entire scriptures which would apply to us in a personal way and then we will look at how sorrow for those living yet in darkness can be turned to compassion and action.. I will use an object lesson for the first part, using one of the crafts that were made by those young ones who attended our annual VBS this week. A scene was constructed which gives an overall view of what we could say is pictured in this fifth chapter of Daniel and it looks like this: Three empty crosses are on a hill top along with an empty tomb at the bottom of it. (The students planted grass on the knoll on which the crosses are and they were asked to water the grass and cut it as it grows).

The Gospel is pictured on that craft: The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus the Christ. In the three crosses, we see all of mankind represented: Christ the Redeemer is there because of mankind's fall into sin, the two guilty sinners, but only one repentant and the other with no apparent signs of repentance. We also see the empty tomb which is evidence of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, and so therefore He now lives!!!

When we read the Old Testament, we know that the Gospel is always present, for if we have difficulty seeing it in our present story, we must always go back to the first time it was prophesied, in Genesis 3:15 " And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." The Promise of the Messiah was progressively revealed over the years and so it is always present in any scripture that we are reading. For we remember that the Gospel is that which God has done for us and not that which we have done or do for Him. In God's timing, His Son was slain before the foundation of the world and in our way of counting time, we mark the time of its actual historical happening, which was around 2015 years ago. Either way, whether in the OT or NT, it is a done deal!

Belshazzar rejected the God of Daniel and of Nebuchhadnezzar, and in the end was found wanting as he was weighed in the balances of God, who from the beginning has spoken to his human creation because He loves them and wants to gather them to Himself. The vessels that had been consecrated to the worship of the Living God in Jerusalem and which pointed towards the coming Messiah were not only taken by Nebuchhadnezzar from Jerusalem, but Belshazzar used them in praise of their false gods. In this way he gave evidence outwardly that his loyalties lay towards his Babylonian deities, "which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified:" In this we see that God is long suffering, desperately wanting all to come to Him, but there is a day that comes that the door of grace closes.......

On the hill of Calvary, our guilt was shown to the entire world in the two sinners on the cross, and the love of God was shown to the entire world in the presence of Jesus Christ, the Innocent Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.

Let us look through the eyes of Jesus, as He peered through the pain of a heart that throbbed with joy as He bore our guilt and shame. Previously there had been two instances in which Jesus wept..The first one is due to the pain for those who did not want to be gathered....

Luke 19:41 And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,
42 Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.
43 For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side,
44 And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.

In the next one, Jesus wept at the fallout of our fall into sin: Death, but He then showed them how He had power over death by raising Lazarus from the dead in full view of them, which was a precursor of His resurrection from the dead!!!!

John 11:32 Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,
34 And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.
35 Jesus wept.
36 Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!
37 And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?
38 Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.
39 Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.
40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?
41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.
42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.
43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.
44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.

Now let us gather our thoughts and conclude this with some application which would help us in applying this to our lives as we seek to share His message of reconciliation with those around us, who may not yet have been gathered. The reason I shared the two scripture reading is because they point out the heart of God, of Christ and of the Holy Spirit towards all of humanity: All have been reconciled back to God and all that is left is for those to come to that knowledge and to believe in that reality. The Trinity who lives in us longs for all to come to that knowledge and experience through faith. Our difficulty at times is that we lose hope, we think that it is hopeless for a loved one, but is it? Perhaps a couple of illustrations will give us some encouragement as we close this meditation today.

A few years ago my youngest son spent some time in China, and through that experience and in that experience of being without Christian fellowship in living in that culture, he began to feel alone and somewhat distant from our God. As he struggled in that experience, he reached out to a trusted Christian peer and shared of his difficulty. It was presented to him that perhaps through that experience, he was being drawn into the heart and mind of the Chinese people who has been conditioned and trained not in the things of the Living God. He was asked to consider the question: Are you being prepared for being able to understand and relate to them so that you will be able to build relationships with them for the purpose of sharing the gospel of Christ with them? At this time in his life, he now ministers in the country of Thailand, in Southeast Asia.

Last week one of my grandsons was outside with his younger brother who had eaten an apple. Seeing some apple seeds on the ground, my grandson asked me if we could plant them. I said, sure, so we got a clear plastic cup, put the seed in some soil in the cup, watered it and placed it on the window sill so it would get adequate sun. As he happily walked away, his voice could be heard: "And we can have apple pie...."

The Word is likened unto a seed, may we keep planting it whereever we are able, may we water it abundantly and may we continually pray for God to give great increase to that Seed: Christ, in us, the hope of glory!

Yes, the writing was on the wall concerning our sin, but through Christ the handwriting has been taken away on the cross and so therefore by grace through faith, we are counted as righteous before our God. Today He says to you: "You are my beloved child, in whom I am well pleased!"

In Him we are redeemed, in Him we stand, and through Him, we will perservere!!

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

Posted on 09 Aug 2015 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
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