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 legs became weak and his knees were knocking. Daniel 5:5-6 (NIV).
One minute Belshazzar is partying with his pals – “Yah, folks, my grandpa knocked over this temple built by the Jews we enslaved, and I got these cool party favors. Drink up, besties.” – and the next minute he’s trembling like the Cowardly Lion. “Aw, ain’t it the truth.”
Now, I have to admit, this would freak me out, too. If you picture it, it’s seemingly out of one of those 1950s Hammer horror films. Right in the middle of a royal banquet, Thing (from the Addams Family) shows up and starts writing on the wall in front of you. That isn’t some party game: it was really happening. And it must have been terrifying to see. At least it was for Belshazzar.
Fast forward: as we’ll see in the coming days, the hand wrote out words would reveal Belshazzar’s doom. An invading army from Persia is nearly at the gates of Babylon, and Belshazzar is about to die. Perhaps his “friends,” the noblemen and women of Babylon, aren’t very cordial after all; we don’t know. Perhaps they know something else is happening around them but are afraid to speak. Do you think Belshazzar got scared because he knew that was about to happen, but hadn’t chosen to reveal it to his guests? Or, like his ideological descendant, Nero, do you think he decided to throw a big party and fiddle while Babylon burned, and his besties went along with it?
It would have been a terrifying night to be alive. The supernatural hand, writing unfamiliar words, would have only made things worse.
Now, think about yourself. Have you ever had a moment that terrified you, not just because of the shock of it, but because it revealed something to you, something about yourself that you didn’t want to face? That can be upsetting at least; at worse, it can shake you to your core. Have you considered that maybe God is allowing that to happen just to get your attention? What would have happened if Belshazzar had fallen prostrate and repented when he saw the hand on the wall? We’ll never know.
But if there’s something that is bothering you deep inside, something that terrifies you, have you asked yourself why? Only good can result by confronting an issue and taking it to the Lord. In the very least, at least the terrors may subside.
For further reading: Job 4:15, Psalm 22:14, Ezekiel 7:17, Daniel 5:7
Lord, help me to confront my fears, to confess them and turn them over to You. To seek Your face when fear returns.
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