This past week, I found myself being very reflective over some events in my life. One person that came to my mind a lot was my brother-in-law, Jeff Smith, who passed away almost a year ago. For my sister and her boys they have gone through many firsts ever since August 31, 2019. Yesterday was my nephew’s first Father’s Day without their dad with them. Jeff was a mountain of a man, but was a gentle giant, a testimony to the work Jesus Christ had done in his life. I remember the day I got the call that he had passed. I had just officiated a wedding for a wonderful couple, and my family and I had just left the reception. Jeff had been battling stage four cancer valiantly. Although I knew his death was coming, I never expected that call on that day. Just like that, my sister, her boys, and my family’s lives were all changed. In typical fashion when tragedy strikes, families tend to get a little closer. We tend to learn the value of people a little better. But also in typical fashion, as time marches on those lessons learned tend to fade away.
This is the pattern we see in the Babylonian Empire in the book of Daniel. Nebuchadnezzar was the original ruler who had taken Judah into captivity. God had to humble him. Later, when Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson became king, they forgot what God had done. Therefore, here in Daniel 5, God came and delivered a message to Belshazzar. Daniel 5:21 says, “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 with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of the heaven, till he knew that the Most High God rules in the kingdom of men, and appoints over it whomever He chooses.” Belshazzar has thrown a big party for the people in his kingdom, when all of the sudden a hand appears and starts writing on the wall. He was understandably frightened by this, and so he brought in all his astrologers and magicians to help him understand the writing. When they couldn’t help the king, Belshazzar’s wife remembered Daniel, and told her husband about him. Daniel was summoned and the text is part of Daniel’s speech to the king, He was recounting what had happened to Belshazzar’s grandfather, Nebuchadnezzar. Later in Daniel 5, Daniel says that Belshazzar knew all of this, but still lived for his false gods, and did whatever he wanted to do. Therefore, since the lessons had not been learned, judgment was about to fall. In fact, that night it did. The Babylonian kingdom came to an end as the Medes and Persians defeated the Babylonians and killed Belshazzar.
Maybe you are thinking that this doesn’t really apply to us, because we are not royalty or we haven’t seen writing on the wall. Of course this applies to us. How many times have we seen the “writing on the wall”, but chose to ignore it? How many times has God in His grace tried to get our attention, and call us out of our idolatry and sinful ways? When tragedy strikes, we learn our lesson for a time, but then things seem to go back to the way they were, and then they get worse. Don’t just think of this in a national sense, think about your own life. How many bad things have happened in your life, and then you swore that things would be different, and they were different for a time but then they went right back to the way they were? I remember a line in a show that Diana and I used to watch, Bluebloods. Detective Danny Reagan was busting a corporate fight ring, and he said to the two owners who started it all, “You know the price of everything, but the value of nothing.” I wonder if the same can be saved of us?
Life is unpredictable. We live in a fallen, sinful world in which bad things happen all the time. We can be lulled into complacency and begin to think that things are going to stay exactly the way they are, until they don’t. The live you have right now is a valuable gift, given to you by a loving God. It is so valuable, that Jesus died to redeem your life from your sin and to give it a purpose. Everything you have is a gift from this loving Heavenly Father. Don’t take for granted what God in His grace has given you, because one day you may wake up and its no longer there.
By His grace and for His glory,