When Belshazzars Rule

To all the Henny Penny’s who have lived through the last decade, believing doom and gloom is sure to follow an earthly election, learn from a man named Daniel. Here is a man whose ninety-some-odd years were lived under three different kingdoms, Israel, Babylon and Persia; a man whose best friends were thrown into a furnace because they didn’t bow to the image of one of those kings; a man who was himself thrown into a lion’s den because he refused to pray to another one of those kings. He knew full well that the kingdom’s of this earth were not ‘where it’s at.’  The word, “Kingdom,” is found 56 times in the book of Daniel. Daniel was fully aware that “the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men.” (Daniel 4:17)

And Daniel certainly saw some lowlies. Perhaps the lowest of his lows was a man named Belshazzar. Despite Nebuchadnezzar’s arrogance, Daniel worked well with this king for 43 years. Daniel was 63 years old when Nebuchadnezzar died. Neb’s strong legacy was left to a succession of weak kings, ending with a guy named Nabonidus. After alienating the majority of his coutrymen by changing the nation’s religion, Nabonidus took off to the oasis of Tayma, leaving his ‘party-hearty’ son, Belshazzar to rule the roost while he skipped town for nine years. In fact, Belshazzar was having a grand old party even as the Persian army massed outside the city walls (Daniel 5). God himself shows Belshazzar the “handwriting on the walls” and Daniel (now around 86 years old) is called in to make heads and tails of the handwriting. Belshazzar was called to judgment because he did not learn the lessons of his forefathers about the important place of God in the affairs of men. If God judged this pagan ruler for not responding to the little bit of divine-light that he had, how much more will God call into account people today whose lives are so brilliantly lit by the knowledge of Jesus Christ?

Folks, I don’t have all the answers as to why God allows the kingdoms of earth to be ruled by arrogant, narcissistic, power-hungry, demeaning, egocentric crooks and cads. It’s all tangled up in there with the implications of free will and the question of why God allows suffering to exist. If this world were a utopia, no one would have any need for God, and hope would be a meaningless word. The minute sin scarred man’s existence, God subjected the earth to futility for our own good (Romans 8:20). We are not set on this planet to get comfortable with our existence here. No human leader or political party will ever be able to give everyone what they want. Until then, we need to keep our aim focused on the true King of Kings and the only Kingdom that offers any hope. Belshazzars will always be among us, placed in power for their allotted time. What they do with that allotted time is between them and God. Let’s learn a lesson from Daniel about how WE should use OUR allotted time while under such rule.     LK


About lelandking

Minister for the Conway Church of Christ
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