Some years before the destruction of Jerusalem Daniel came to Babylon.
King Nebuchadnezzar of the Babylonian Empire had defeated King Jehoiakim of Jerusalem and took the best and the brightest from Israel into captivity in Babylon.
Daniel’s Prophesies in Babylon detailed God’s Kingdom to come, redemption for the captives, and God’s Judgment upon Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar.
In Daniel 4:30-33 Nebuchadnezzar said, “…Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power…for the glory of my majesty?” While the words were still in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, “O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you, and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the Kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.” Immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar.””
Belshazzar took the vessels from God’s Holy Temple and used them for a party praising their Babylonian Gods…then, “…the fingers of a human appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall of the King’s palace… “MENE, MENE, TEKEL, and PARSIN.” (Daniel 5)
Nobody could interpret the strange message save Daniel alone.
“This is the interpretation of the matter: MENE, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; TEKEL, you have been weighed in the balance and found wanting; PERES, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” (Daniel 5:25-28)
“That very night Belshazzar…was killed.”
Almighty Yahweh tolerates epic arrogance for only so long.
So Daniel prophesied and saw it fulfilled almost immediately!
But today’s prophecy in our OT lesson…will take a little longer.
Many preachers have done a lot of mischief with this prophecy.
So many have unwisely suggested and even insisted that they know when the prophecy will be fulfilled.
“Come to the church that lets’ you know when Jesus will return”, they call out like a salesman at a close out sale, never before seen prices, factory liquidation sale!
Oh it comes with the best of intent; indeed they search the scriptures desperately yearning for the return of our Lord!
But they must have forgotten to read the words of our Lord Jesus, and chose rather only to read between the lines.
For our Lord Jesus says in Matthew 24:26, “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven nor the Son, but the Father only.”
Indeed it takes a bold, mislead, misread, and false preacher to claim you know more than our Savior Jesus does.
So we pray that they will repent and eagerly anticipate our Lord in His time rather than the time we would dictate to Him!
Oh the waiting and the anticipating can lead to despair for those looking for instant gratification and immediate revelation.
After all Nebuchadnezzar was immediately judged for his arrogance!
And Belshazzar’s death sentence took far less time for to carry out, then the time it took for him to understand the writing on the wall was indeed intended for him.
We all need be grateful for the time God gives us to repent and believe His perfect will.
For only those who believe God will be righteous, but as verse 2 makes clear today those who don’t believe will die in shame and everlasting contempt.
I don’t think any of us will deny there is indeed no end to shame and contempt in our culture today.
Whether it’s lies and misrepresentation of the equal application of the law, or gender dysphoria run amuck, or indifference to the truly downtrodden and violence towards that indifference…there is much shame and contempt in America today.
Just like Nebuchadnezzar we burn the righteous amongst us with our ovens of gossip and false witness so there will be no competition for our self-proclaimed worship of our own ambition.
Just like Belshazzar we drink to life with our God given gifts and celebrate little of the life Christ gave choosing instead our steaming heaping piles of human accomplishments.
We forget, the chaotic liars that this world worships; found their origins in a generation that never knew that forgiveness is found in God alone.
I am grateful today that God is patient in His judgment over me.
Have I not walked about proudly in the palace of my life built unto myself, giving little lip service to my eternal Father for providing every step of the way?
There are too many pastures He could have put me into, to graze alongside the burros of my kindred spirit.
I am grateful that God has been patient and not yet weighed my heart in the scales of compassion, generosity, and sacrifice and then had to tell ME those fateful words, “Marc, you have been weighed in the balances and found WANTING!”
I am grateful that God is long suffering and patient not wanting any of us to die in shame and everlasting contempt.
I am most grateful, that Jesus died in shame and everlasting contempt, instead of ME.
Yes, God took a long time to carry out his Judgment…but even though we will never know the day or the hour, somethings tells me it is coming soon.
USA Today reported on February 23, 2018 that exorcisms in Italy alone have increased threefold. When the demons are active, they’re fighting for every soul they can before our master returns.
The days, when wrong is called right and right is called wrong, is clearly upon us; and our vaunted position as Christians has taken a much lower seat.
The most telling fact of all: The total number of Christians martyred for their faith in the 20th century alone, has outnumbered the total number of Christians martyred in the previous 19 centuries combined.
What would really be shameful and contemptible is if Jesus is coming soon, less than half of the Christians alive are watching or even ready.
Thanks be to God we know what to do for our Savior that already saved us and removed all fear for that final day.
Thanks be to God for the Sacraments that sustain us and His Holy Word that comforts us.
And I thank God, every day, for you,
my Brothers and Sisters in Christ who know your Savior Jesus and comfort me with His promises when I just need to hear it from someone besides me.
That’s what we need church for, to have that place where we can invite the lost to be with us to meet Jesus together when He comes to take us home.
It isn’t scary, it won’t be long, and it is as certain as anything we have ever known.
It’s Our God Coming to Take Us Home. AMEN.