BY AMBROSE KIRAGU
King Belshazzar was the son of king Nebuchadnezzar, probably the most powerful king who ever lived. He ruled most of the known world of his day from his headquarters in Babylon. Belshazzar decided, upon ascending the throne to show off his might by making such a lavish feast that would prove to all that he had made it king.
Accordingly, he invited a thousand of his princes, nobles, wives and concubines. It was a great day. No doubt, he reasoned, all would judge him very wealthy and powerful and his fame would spread into all corners of his vast kingdom. He calculated on all these men later telling off his generosity and lavish lifestyle, even as queen Sheba had taken a great report of King Solomon back to her country. It was also an occasion to have all those who came pledge their allegiance to the new king. Certain it was that he would also publish his government’s agenda.
At the height of this great party he hit on a surprise twist that would enliven the occasion. Somehow he remembered that the vessels that his deceased father, King Nebuchadnezzar, had taken off the temple at the time of its captivity lay idle in the palace treasury. Let it be borne in mind that King Belshazzar was a pagan king who pledged no loyalty to the Hebrew God. It would appear therefore that the king was exempt from reverencing these vessels taken from a distant nation. His party was being held in Babylon, over two thousand kilometers away from Jerusalem, the city of God.
The decision to drink off these vessels was no sooner reached than the king ordered his aides to fetch the vessels and have them used to serve the royal dignitaries. The Devil is ever happy if he can drink off the very vessels used in divine services. Let it be remembered that the reason why the mighty Angel (later to become Lucifer due to this sin) lost his place, and was hurled from heaven, was because he plotted to sit on the throne of heaven as God Himself! Isa. 14: 12- 17 The Devil now prompted king Belshazzar to repeat the same sin.
As soon as the drinks were served, a hand appeared. It is from this particular occasion that we have drawn a favorite phrase that ‘the handwriting is on the wall’ meaning that the time for some foreseen evil has arrived. King Belshazzar saw the hand and its inscription and all his inwards melted. Before any could read or interpret the strange handwriting, the king knew that he was done for. A very superstitious king, who had grown up in an even more superstitious culture, he knew that it wasn’t a good omen. He was right, and as his knocking knees carried him out of the room, no doubt assisted by his equally perplexed aides, he was certain he would never again make a banquet, nay, that his demise had somewhat to do with a Strange God, whom He had offended by drinking off His cups.
‘Mene Mene Tekel Uphausin,’ by these words and their interpretation by Daniel, Belshazzar’s days were numbered and kingdom taken from him. Dan.5: 26. That very night king Belshazzar was dethroned. The point is that the Devil, who is God’s enemy, is ever happy when he can successfully tempt men, especially those in position of influence to repeat his sin.
The application I especially would press from the foregoing is to our politicians who are known for their great disregard of the sanctity of the vessels of worship. A current trend with our politicians is to convert the pulpit into political platforms. Whenever they attend church services, it is more often than not with the intention, not to worship God, but to use the church facility and environment to further their political agenda.
One great reason why we go to church is to meet with our Father. We are the Body of Jesus Christ who is our Head. Even if not a single word were uttered, yet by our very meeting it would still constitute spiritual worship. ‘For where two or three gather in my Name, there I am with them,’ Mat. 18:20. Dear reader, you now see how arrogant it is for a politician to come to church to meet worshippers! These have come to meet with God, their Redeemer, and look who turns up?
Moreover, let it be remembered that the pulpit is the means God has appointed to meet with and feed his flock. To those outside, it may look like a poor feast we are invited to partake off from our Chief Shepherd even Jesus Christ, but no, it is enough for us. We are satisfied with it, and come again and again for a similar experience every day. What we would expect from all strangers is to respect our cheap fare. Let us not be tired with political fare, which causes indigestion!
God is very particular with his vessels and will not suffer that men steal His glory. A truth that sometimes crowds the thinking of many people is that God is slow to judge and sometimes it appears as though His deserved judgments fail to overtake many in this world. But, remember the apostle’s warning ‘The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but come to repentance,’ 2 Pt. 3:9. The meaning is that God is patient and doesn’t want any sinner to die impenitent.
We would not also fail to warn those officials in positions of responsibilities in church who encourage profaning dedicated objects of worship. When the gallant priests in the days of king Uzziah failed to stop the king from profaning the sacred vessels of God by his offering incense (2 Chro.26: 17), we see that God intervened to defend his honor. King Uzziah was struck with leprosy right inside the temple courts where he had thought he could misuse temple vessels to make a political statement. And our current public officers in church also ought to draw the lines about profaning the pulpits, failure to which God will demand the blood of these powerful individuals from their own hands.
We have shown the seriousness of this sin, we hope we shall be able to do justice to the remedy that God has for us all. The point to note is that this is just a symptom to a serious malady with man. Man is born a sinner and grows up proving this truth. He sins because he is a sinner. Sins of pride, covetousness, idolatry, adultery and the like all point to a major defect within man, which is manifested by the outward behavior that we observe. It is from the abundance of our hearts that we speak, which is to mean that what we are inside is proved by how we behave.
It is from this consideration that we believe we ought to explore what God has taught plainly in the word to be the cure for this internal malady that makes us sinful. It would be a waste of time if all we did was to lambast poor sinners for their actions and fail to point them to the solution laid down in Scriptures. None has any need for the good news unless he knows the bad news first. Nobody will buy a drug for an ailment they never heard about. The bad news is that all are all sinners. We know we are sinners only by knowing the law, ‘for by the law is the knowledge of sin,’ Rom. 3:20. An awakened sinner shall then plead for mercy.
The Bible is clear that ‘God is angry at the wicked every day’ Psa. 7:11. And who is the wicked person but the sinner? A great majority of men are cheated as to the meaning of a sinner. Consequently, many who read this article will judge themselves sinless simply because they have been cheated as to the true identity of a sinner by the Devil, others or themselves. It is good to remember that our Lord laid it down as a truth incontrovertible that if a sinner leads another, both will enter into a hole.
There is no possibility that a blind man will be spared from tumbling into the pit simply because he is misled, he is guilty and will end in hell if he continues impenitent. The fact is that the one being misled is in most instances the one who hates God and wants to be led away from God, 2 Tim. 4: 3, ‘instead to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.’
We often limit sinners to the open and willful men – men who blaspheme and break all the laws of God and men, men who ought not to be let loose among others. It is certain God is angry at these sorts but they are not exclusively meant. Are the wicked those who deny the existence of God, those who style themselves atheists? Who scoff at religion and pour scorn at all religious activities? They are included but not exclusively.
The great mass of wicked, by whom God is angry at are ordinary men and women who even attend church services punctiliously. Our Lord Jesus Christ called the most religious men of His day ‘Children of the Devil’. Many men are called irreligious and to be sure, that’s bad: but to be religious is not the same as to be godly. To be religious is one thing and to be godly quite another.
The spirit of the day is to be religious. Many go to church for some religious end, making the church very popular but how few recognize that Jesus Christ did not come to start a religion? He came to open, through Himself, a way to the Father. And so, He came to make possible a manner of living that allows a Christian to have a constant eye at God, to recognize Him in all things and at all times and to trust, love, and serve Him. On the contrary, a wicked person lives in the world as though there were no God; indeed were there a possibility that he could do away with God completely, he feels he would fare no worse for it.
Until the impenitent is shown he is an undone sinner, whose rightful place is in hell, he is not ready for forgiveness of sin. Otherwise, he shall strive with all his might to earn right standing with God by his actions and deeds. He must believe that he has nothing to commend himself before God and that with Adam he shall best run away from God if he heard His footsteps. He must set aside all personal effort to earn the favor or acceptance with God.
Imagine that you had been a guerilla leader plotting to overthrow your government. After twenty years of uncountable rapes, murders and subversion, you are captured and now lie prostrate under your sovereign’s feet. You had refused all offers of surrender until you were at last captured. You would be the stupidest person if you could expect to earn mercy by promising to be an upright person in the future! You must start by acknowledging that you deserve death and any act of goodwill towards you must come from the king’s good pleasure.
The only thing that you can plead for is mercy. How earnestly would you plead! With Canaanites’ woman (Mat. 15:21-28), you will persevere in your importunacy. Many aren’t persistent enough. One refusal and they go home empty handed. It shows they have no faith.
Beloved as a sinner you are a rebel together with Satan, against God. All your resources are engaged in this warfare. Your only hope lies in complete and unconditional surrender. Should the aggrieved King give you pardon, you shall forever remember you owe him your very life. You have gained a new Lord Jesus. You shall be done with the world, the flesh and Satan. You are born again. Sin shall no longer have mastery over you.
May the Lord of mercy press this matter into your conscience, for his Name’s sake. Amen