The Handwriting on the Wall

Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote. His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his knees knocked together and his legs gave way. –Daniel 5:5-6

In Daniel chapter 5, the powerful King of Babylon, Belshazzar, is having a huge party for his friends and fans. Now, there is nothing wrong with having a party…even people far from God enjoy the benefits of something that the Lord created… community. When people experience community, when there is laughing and joy; when relationships are deepening and hearts are being shared, it is the unmistakable fingerprint of our gracious Creator. The real issue is whether we recognize it or not!

In this instance from the book of Daniel, the people did not recognize God’s gift of community and were actually engaging in mocking God. Daniel tells us that during the party, the gold and silver vessels used in worshipping God that had been looted from God’s temple were now being utilized in a manner that dishonored Him. God stepped in and judged Belshazzar and his court in dramatic fashion. Through mysterious and miraculous “handwriting on the wall,” God judged their arrogance. It was a powerful event that left the most powerful earthly king at this point in history with a “pale face…alarmed thoughts…and knocking knees”.

Within all of our lives, there are times that we need to recognize and acknowledge God’s “handwriting on the wall,” As we know God better, we gain a greater understanding of how we have used “His vessels” (our bodies, minds, spirits, people around us) in ways that are unpleasing to Him. I believe it is time to acknowledge the handwriting on the wall in our lives. If we want our lives to be refined and to grow in our faith, we must give the Holy Spirit permission to do His most important work of convicting us of areas in our lives that need changing; and then, we need to acknowledge these areas and respond accordingly.

1. What is the Holy Spirit saying to you about the aspects of your life where you have habitually used God’s gifts to you in dishonoring ways?

2. How can you respond to these aspects of your life in order to pull them closer into line with what you know to be God’s design and purpose for you?

Daniel 5; John 15:5-16; I John 1:5-10; Hebrews 12:12-13

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Robin Dugall

A long-time contributor to HomeWord's daily devotionals, Robin is Pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church of McCall, Idaho and Shepherd of the Mountains Lutheran Church of Cascade, Idaho. He is also an Adjunct Professor of Theology at Concordia University in Portland, Oregon.

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