My Grandfather’s Fatal Weakness
Nebuchadnezzar, all-powerful King of Babylon, was reduced to anxious nervousness by a confusing dream he couldn’t understand. After Nebuchadnezzar’s magicians failed to interpret it, Daniel the Israelite explained its meaning by God’s revelation. The dream’s forecast came true a year later: Nebuchadnezzar went mad and became animal-like, eating grass and living solo in the wild for seven years. Only when he looked to God and acknowledged him as ruler of all was his sanity restored and his kingdom and power returned to him. The result? He repented of his pride, and learned to praise and glorify the one true God.
After several short-lived interim rulers, his grandson (or descendant) Belshazzar took the throne and ruled Babylon. So Belshazzar tells his own story, as he saw it. Even prouder and more contemptuous of God than his grandfather had been, Belshazzar was confronted by God himself in the middle of a lavish palace feast. Disgusted by Nebuchadnezzar’s “weak” repentance in the past, Belshazzar intentionally provoked God by using holy Jewish temple goblets for his pagan feasting. Terrifyingly, God’s hand appeared and wrote indecipherable words. Once again, Daniel – now elderly, but still serving faithfully in the Babylonian public service – was summoned, and interpreted the words: Belshazzar had been weighed and judged by God; his kingdom would be destroyed.
But unlike Daniel, Belshazzar arrogantly refused to listen, repent, humble himself and acknowledge God’s sovereignty. He shook his fist at God. What did God know about history, power, life, death, love, gender, marriage, warfare, or anything else? Belshazzar, the modern man, knew best about everything. How dare this cowardly God show just his hand, but never show himself, to humans?
That same night, Belshazzar was slaughtered, and his kingdom fell.