A 2008 Daniel counsels Belshazzar, king of Babylon
By ALLAN JENKS
THE Daniel recorded in the Bible was greatly beloved and gifted of God, whose gifts and integrity were prized by the potentate Nebuchadnezzar. Several times his fearless refusal to compromise his loyalty to God put his life at risk, but his enemies and even the wrath of kings were never able to touch him. His words from God were 100 percent accurate. He was one of the most anointed prophets Judah ever saw. The scripture commends Him as an exemplar of the kind of man that can stand before God.
Do we have similar Daniels? How would the story turn out today if, instead of refusing to take up the philosophies and practices of his day, our modern Daniel exampled the fully culturally assimilated men-pleaser of our time? Perhaps like this?
Daniel is woken up in the middle of the night, and told that King Belshazzar’s triumphant party has been shockingly interrupted by a disembodied hand, writing some indecipherable message on his banquet-room wall and that Belshazzar is terribly afraid that it might augur very bad news. Could pastor Daniel come, and interpret it please? This is Daniel’s first chance to witness to the King and to try to convince him to ‘accept Jesus’ and join the church.
Previously Belshazzar had no ‘felt needs’ that Daniel could have ministered to, but this eerie situation seems like a great chance to impress him with the church’s answer to the terrible fear he is suffering right now. “What a coup! The King in MY church!”. Then Daniel suddenly realises he won’t be able to make it to the palace, as his chariot is in for its regular service-check, so he’ll have to counsel Belshazzar on the phone.
“Belshazzar don’t be afraid!—That writing has no power to hurt you.”
“But what if it’s a judgment from God?”
“God is a God of LOVE, oh King, and doesn’t want us to be afraid.”
“The Bible says He’s not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.”
“It’s the devil that wants you to feel condemned, not God.”
“Repeat to yourself; ‘God is LOVE—God loves ME.”
“Keep saying that over and over, and the fear will subside.”
“No it’s OK Belshazzar, don’t panic!”
“I want you to reject that feeling that it’s God who is condemning you.”
“Instead, start thanking God for all the good things He has already done for you.”
“Look! He’s given you riches, power, glory focus and has made you great.”
“He has a wonderful plan for each one of us, and I’m sure that’s what the message on the wall will be all about,—God’s plan for your life.”
“No, I don’t think God was against your party, or anything like that. After all, God wants us to enjoy all His gifts, and all the good things of life. He wants us to live our lives to the full. Life’s too short not to be doing all the things we want to do.”
“You think you were too proud?”
“Well God wants us to love ourselves Belshazzar.”
“We all need to have a healthy self-esteem, and to know who we are in God.”
“You were worshipping when it appeared?”
“Well that’s great!—worshipping God is GOOD!” ….
“You were worshipping the gods of gold, silver and stone eh? Well, there are many ways of thinking about God, and worshipping Him.”
“All religions have a different name for Him, and all worship Him in their different ways, but he’s the same God of us all, and He knows our heart, whether we are sincere or not.”
“Yes, certainly, your party-style worship is probably very different from mine Belshazzar, but it’s not my place to say that my way of worshipping God is better than yours, because that would be judgmental.”
“Our book says ‘Judge not, lest you be judged.’ Everyone comes to God in his own way. It would be bigoted of me if I said my way of worshipping was better than yours, and that you should give your way up and do it my way.”
“Every faith can proffer something they have which they believe will benefit other faiths. They just need to have a conversation with each other about it, rather than try to find out which one is right.”
“Anyway, how can I know MY way is right, and yours is wrong?”
“My way might be right for ME, but is it right for you?”
“Whatever works for you, is right for you, I believe.”
“You’ve heard God seems to be with me?”
“Yes, but hey! I’m no better than you oh King!”
“He loves YOU just as much as He loves me, and furthermore, before we start putting anyone right, we first have to take the splinter out of our OWN eye, eh?!”
“Tell me Belshazzar, did you have a great sense of peace and joy and fulfilment BEFORE you saw this writing on the wall?”
“Yes?—Well there you ARE then!—If this experience has made you lose your joy, surely then it’s not of God!”
“God has come to bless us, and fulfil us, to give us life more abundantly, not to frighten us.”
“And if the writing on the wall IS from God, then it wasn’t sent to condemn you Belshazzar, but to bless you!”
“Resist and rebuke that spirit of condemnation that’s come upon you.”
“I say again, God doesn’t condemn us, He loves us all.”
“What I want you to remember is this. God has made you mighty, powerful, rich and famous,—a major celebrity in fact, and now that you’ve had this amazing spiritual experience, God will want you to use that, for His glory.”
“When this story gets known, and they want to interview you on Oprah, or Larry King Live, or Enough Rope, or on David Frost and put your writing-on-the-wall story in all the celebrity magazines, you’ll be able to use your amazing story and increased celebrity status, for GOD! He needs just as many celebrities as He can get these days, to get His message out. So just thank God for this great opportunity He’s given you Belshazzar, to be a tremendous influence for Him.”
“This could be really big: You could do seminars: ‘How to get GOD to write on YOUR wall!’ “
“What’s that Belshazzar? I can’t hear you!”
“What’s all that noise and shouting?”
“Army?—what army?! The PERSIAN Army!?”
“Belshazzar? Belshazzar?”—the line’s gone dead.
The true story says:
In that night, Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans was slain. And Darius the Mede took the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old (Daniel 5:30-31).
About the Author
ALLAN JENKS was converted in the Church of Christ in New Zealand in 1958. He has been in various positions of spiritual leadership, including pastoring, over the past 40 years. For the greater part of that time he has served in Pentecostal churches, but has latterly returned to his home town and worships in his local Church of Christ where he was first converted, and continues to minister there as part of a ministry team.