Misuse of God’s NAME due to ‘PRIDE’ will not go unpunished: "But you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, although you knew all this. And you have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven. They have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you and your lords, your wives and your concubines, have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone, which do not see or hear or know; and the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified." (Dan. 5:22-23)
The events described in the book of Daniel chapter five took place in 539 B.C., which was the year when the city of Babylon fell to the Persians. This happened exactly forty-two years after the death of Nebuchadnezzar, the first king of Babylon. During his earlier conquest of Israel, King Nebuchadnezzar had looted the God’s temple in Jerusalem, which was built by King Solomon. He had taken priceless wealth back to Babylon along with many costly implements that were used in Hebrew worship (2 Kings 25:13–17). These included the sacred gold and silver vessels, which the Israelites had carefully set apart for use in only the holiest rituals of their worship and sacrifice!
Years later, Belshazzar, the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar, hosted a great feast and brought out these sacred gold and silver vessels to drink wine and praise the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone (vv. 2-4). This was a blasphemous act of sacrilege and a deliberate defiance of Jehovah (v. 23). Not only were the temple vessels defiled and put to profane use, but they were also used to honor the false gods of Babylon. While Belshazzar and his hirelings became intoxicated, the fingers of a man’s hand appeared, writing on the wall in their sight. When Belshazzar saw the mysterious hand, three things happened to him: his “face turned pale”, his “knees knocked together”, and his “legs gave way” (v. 6). Belshazzar should have learned to recognize God’s authority from his predecessor’s humiliation!
At the queen’s suggestion, Daniel was summoned to interpret the writing. After reviewing the experience of Nebuchadnezzar and boldly rebuking Belshazzar for desecrating the vessels of the temple by using them in a drunken, idolatrous feast, Daniel proceeded to reveal the writing and its meaning (vv. 18–21). The application of Daniel’s sermon was bold and directed at Belshazzar in these words: “But you have not humbled yourself, although you knew all this” (5:22). The writing was God’s message of judgment to a proud king who had refused to honor the God who had total control over his life!
The writing on the wall was God’s answer to the arrogant challenge presented by Belshazzar’s pride and his defiance of Jehovah God. The message on the wall read, “Numbered, numbered, weighed, and divided.” This four-word wall message meant that God had “numbered” the days of Belshazzar’s reign because he had been “weighed” on God’s scales of justice. His kingdom was to be “divided” and given to another nation. Belshazzar was now without any excuse, and the time of mercy from God towards him was past. In fact, while Belshazzar was feasting in revelry, Babylon got surrounded by the Persian army who attacked and captured the city without much resistance. The Medo-Persian armies under Darius killed Belshazzar that very night, and seized power!
We must recognize that God measures, judges, or rewards us according to our conduct. We must also understand that God judges as idolatry and blasphemy the arrogance of all who refuse to honor Him. King Belshazzar may have been new to his position, but his sin (pride and arrogance) was old. God hates pride (Prov. 8:13), and pride eventually brings shame in our lives. Pride is a sword that will wound us eventually, and let us understand that the misuse of God’s name due to pride will not go unpunished!