Read Daniel 5
Focus on verse 22-23
It is never a good idea to bite the hand that feeds you – or so the saying goes. This analogy arises from the idea that even an animal such as a dog has the sense to honor the source upon which its existence relies. Apparently we humans, who supposedly occupy the top spot in the food chain, are not always that sensible.
In todays reading the son of Nebuchadnezzar, King Belshazzar is in the midst of a big party during which he uses some of the sacred vessels from the house of God to praise his Babylonian idols. It is at this point that his party is interrupted by disembodied hand, writing a message on the wall, bringing the party to a screeching halt! The king calls for someone to interpret the message but has some trouble finding someone able to understand it until Daniel is brought in. Daniel recounts to Belshazzar how the Most High God made Himself know to the Babylonians during the reign of his father Nebuchadnezzar. He then sums it up as follows:
And you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this, but you have lifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven. And the vessels of his house have been brought in 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, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which do not see or hear or know, but the God in whose hand is your breath, and whose are all your ways, you have not honored. (v. 22-23)
Daniel then conveys the meaning of the writing on the wall, which essentially informs Belshazzar that his actions have been judged by God and that his kingdom has been divided and given over to the Medes and Persians. Daniel is rewarded as the king promised, and that very night Darius the Mede takes over the kingdom and Belshazzar is killed.
This theme of God making Himself known through those who are faithful to trust Him is replayed many times throughout the Old and New Testaments. A careful study of more recent history would seem to indicate that God has not changed his strategy all that much. He continues to humble those who honor themselves and honor those who humble themselves. The phrase that jumps out at me in verse twenty-three is “the God in whose hand is your breath.” It is particularly striking when I consider all the times I have said and done things, which dis-honor Him, yet He continues to give me breath. It humbles me when I realize that He could end any life in an instant, yet He chooses to be patient and merciful and loving, giving us multiple opportunities to repent just as it would seem He did with King Belshazzar. So the question becomes, “at what point will we see the hand-writing on the wall?”
How long will He allow us to figuratively continue to “bite the hand that feeds us”?