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  • Writer's pictureChuck Garriott

Absence of Humility

Redeeming Us From Sin

This is the third devotional in our summer series on "The Miraculous Acts of God."

“But you, Belshazzar… have not humbled yourself... Instead, you have set yourself up against the Lord of heaven. You had the goblets from his temple brought to you, and you and your nobles, your wives, and your concubines drank wine from them. You praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which cannot see or hear or understand. But you did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways."  – Daniel 5:22-23 


It is rare for a king to be known for his humility. Many would argue that for a ruler to demonstrate meekness would be a path of destruction. Any sense of weakness may likely attract those seeking, harm, defeat, and control.

In the year 539 B.C. the Babylonian king, Belshazzar throws a lavish feast with a thousand nobles in attendance including his wives and concubines. In accordance with such grand festivities, excess wine is consumed by the guests in the gold and silver goblets taken from the Jerusalem temple, as commanded by the king. As they consume the wine they enter into a season of praise. No, not worship for the one true God, but praise for the gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood and stone (v. 4)

For the Babylonians to possess and display the 5,400 temple articles was a reminder of their authority as a conquering world power. In the midst of loud idolatrous celebration, a hand miraculously appears and begins to write on the white plaster wall four words: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN, (v. 25). The meaning is unclear. Yet, the appearance of the writing hand is a party stopper. No one thinks this is a form of entertainment. It is not taken as a joke. No one is laughing. The king, and I am sure others, are terrified and seek an interpreter. The Hebrew Daniel is brought in before the king and provides both the interpretation and meaning of the text.

However, before the translator addresses the mysterious text he provides a brief history lesson. Daniel reminds Belshazzar of the arrogance and lack of humility of the great King Nebuchadnezzar as a means of pointing out the frightened king's lack of humility and pride.

“But when his heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and stripped of his glory…until he acknowledged that the Most High God is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and sets over them anyone he wishes.” (v. 20-21).

The interpretation of the inscription remaining on the wall informs Belshazzar that his days numbered by God have come to an end and the kingdom will be given to the Medes and Persians. By the night’s end the proud king was slain and Darius the Mede was king. What application does this account hold for us today, some 2,500 years later?

First, there is for us as Christians the question of pride and arrogance. The most mature believer will find pride and haughtiness developing over time. In some cases, we view others with disdain or prejudice. We become self-centered. At other times our pride surfaces when we are in dispute or disagreement with a neighbor, coworker, or fellow church member. It is difficult for us to be loving and forgiving when consumed with how “right we are." The gospel always directs us to be other-oriented as a means of directing and submitting the relationship towards the Savior.

Secondly, we may not be holding idolatrous feasts utilizing temple gold and silver goblets, but we need to acknowledge our sins before a holy and gracious God. We have our forms of idolatry. In some cases, it is an obsession with material things or relationships. The possessions and friendships are not wrong in themselves. Yet, if the way we handle them demonstrates that they provide our happiness, it is a transgression. 

Any form of transgression is an acknowledgment that we are in rebellion against God. The creation of the temple and the priest who served in it were a means of addressing the sins of God’s people who needed redemption and forgiveness. Jesus, our perfect High Priest has paid the ultimate price redeeming us from our sin.

Miracles are a means used by God to speak into people's lives. They are loud and obvious and although they may be misunderstood and denied, they will capture your attention. We may never see the “handwriting on the wall.” Yet, our gracious Lord speaks to our pride-filled hearts through his word by directing us to himself as our true form of happiness and fulfillment.

Chuck Garriott is the Executive Director of Ministry to State


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