Some weird stuff happens in Scripture.
And I think, with all that is going on, we need a diversion right now!
So here goes the first of several stories. “Follow me” to get them delivered to you.
This painting by Rembrandt depicts an Old Testament story recorded in the Book of Daniel, chapter 5. King Belshazzar of Babylon throws a party for a thousand of his lords. The wine is flowing. I mean really flowing. Suddenly, a disembodied human hand appears and begin writing on the plaster wall of the royal palace. A thousand people are there to see it! Its being written just above a lamp so there is no mistaking what is happening.
A disembodied hand! You’ve got to get in the mood for the rest of this story.
Look over at the wall nearest to you. Imagine how you would feel if a disembodied hand suddenly started writing you a note.
Well, this literally scared the legs out from under the king. He called in his advisers and declared, “Whoever can read this writing and tell me its interpretation shall be clothed in purple, have a chain of gold around his neck, and rank third in the kingdom,” Then all the king’s wise men came in, but they could not read the writing nor tell the king the interpretation.
Third in the kingdom? That is quite a reward!
I am surprised that none of the King’s men took a stab at it.
How was the King going to know if you got it right or not?
I think it shows that his men were scared of the hand too.
Well, this made King Belshazzar even more terrified. But the queen knew what to do.
Of course she did! She’s the queen!
She went into the banqueting hall (Note that she hadn’t been at the party. Probably because the King had had his girlfriends with him) and told the King to call upon this Jewish slave named Daniel who the king’s father had kidnapped as a child:
“There is a man in your kingdom who is endowed with a spirit of the holy gods. In the days of your father he was found to have enlightenment, understanding, and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods. Your father, King Nebuchadnezzar, made him chief of the magicians, enchanters, Chaldeans, and diviners, because an excellent spirit, knowledge, and understanding to interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve problems were found in this Daniel”
In the New Testament, we are told that this same spirit with the same enlightenment, understanding, and wisdom that lived in Daniel is alive in the followers of Christ.
And yet… so many claim Christ without actually desiring to follow him.
There’s not much spirit in that kind of religion.
But if we really desired to follow Christ, I mean like Mother Teresa or St. Francis where we gave up all we are to be all Christ is, then this Spirit would become evident in us too.
So Daniel was called before the King.
Daniel immediately knew what the problem was. The Babylonian King had served the wine in sacred goblets he had stolen from the Temple in Jerusalem. God didn’t look kindly on defiling what was holy. The disembodied hand had written, “Your days are numbered. You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting. Your kingdom will be divided and given away.”
The King died that very night.
Look over at your wall again. Really look. Take a few slow deep breaths, listen to your free flowing thoughts. Trust God to speak into them. Listen, look, and wait.
What note is God writing to you?
Check out April’s Books, Disorderly Bible Studies, for group and individual study.