What is the Writing on Your Wall?

What is the Writing
on Your Wall?
Pastor Stephen "Red" Shumate
September 11th, 2016
Image courtesy of Graphics Mouse at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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What is the Writing on Your Wall?
Daniel 5

Today we look at the story of the writing on the wall in Daniel 5:1-31.  And basically what we are going to be talking about is stepping back and looking at the big picture of our lives; taking a step back and seeing what those things are that should be obvious in our lives that are getting in the way of our faith.

This is one of the very first things we need to do as we begin thinking about getting serious about our faith.  We need to take stock of those big stumbling blocks that have been getting in our way and then get rid of them.  Because we can WANT to get serious about our faith all day long, but if we don’t take care of those things that have been our stumbling blocks for years then we’ve failed before we even started.

For instance, if I’m a smoker and decide I want to get healthy, then I can change my diet and try exercising all I want in order to “get serious” about my health, but if I don’t quit smoking…then it does no good.

And sometimes these things have been in our life so long, and we have gotten so used to them that we don’t even recognize that they are there. That means there are a few things we need to do to be able to recognize them, whether that is stepping back and seeing the big picture, or asking someone else to help us see what we should have seen all along…either way…in order to really get serious about our faith, we first have to take care of the writing on the wall.

Take a Moment to read the story of the writing on the wall in Daniel 5:1-31.

In this story King Belshazzar is having a party.  And during this party, after drinking a little wine, he decides it would be a good idea to go and get the cups and things that had been taken from the temple and set aside to worship God and let his party goers drink from them and use them to worship other Gods.  The king in his success had become arrogant and brazen.

And God responds to his arrogance by sending a hand to write a message on the wall.  The king and all of his wise men could not interpret what the message on the wall meant, so they called in Daniel, a man of God.  When Daniel arrives, he tells the king, that he has become too arrogant in his ways and should have been acknowledging God.  He goes on to explain that he should have known this because the same thing had happened to his predecessor King Nebuchadnezzar.  He had done the same thing and as a result God exiled him and he became a wild man.

And since King Belshazzar had become arrogant, God wrote the message on the wall, that he had been weighed and measured and found to be short.  And so God was going to take his kingdom away from him and give it to another.  That very night, King Belshazzar was killed and his kingdom was taken over by the Medes.

So what can we learn from this story?  

The first question we want to ask is…
1. Why was the message written this way? 
Why did God write this message in a way that the king couldn’t have read it himself?

I think it was for three reasons:
1. To prove it wasn’t a trick – in other words, if this had been a trick being played on the king by someone he knew (whether a friend or enemy) the person playing the trick would have been waiting to give the interpretation.  But since there was no one who could give an immediate interpretation, it couldn’t have been from someone he knew.  

2. To Prove it was from God - Since the king had to get Daniel, a man of God to interpret it, the only explanation of the source of the writing was that it was from God.  Otherwise one of his wise men would have been able to make the interpretation.

3. To get his attention – no doubt the way this was written got the king’s attention.  In fact, the scriptures said that it scared him so badly that his hip joints were shaking and his knees were knocking.

How does this apply to us? Well, we can ask ourselves the very same question… Why does God do things in our lives, that aren’t immediately clear to us? Have you ever thought…”Why doesn’t God just tell me…?”or ”Why doesn’t God just show me…?”

He does it for the same reasons
1. To prove that it wasn’t a coincidence in our life…
2. To prove that it was from Him…
3. To get our attention…

In a world so full of distraction, sometimes God has to do things in such a way that it gets our attention.  It makes us ask the questions, “Why did it happen this way, what is God trying to tell me?”  And if He hadn’t done it in the way that He did, we would have never paid any attention to it.  It would have gone in one ear and out the other.

The next thing that we want to pick up from this story is that…
2. It Should have been Obvious…

King Belshazzar should have never found himself in this situation.  He should have learned from his predecessor what happens when you become too arrogant.  This just happened with Nebuchadnezzar and if he had been paying attention to what happen to him, he would have avoided his own great down fall.  It should have been obvious that he was becoming way too arrogant.

And here is the thing, in our lives, there are many things that should flat out be obvious to us, but we don’t see them, because we get wrapped up in our own stuff and in our own wants and desires.  And in the middle of all of this, we often times find ourselves thinking…”I just don’t understand why”…” I don’t understand why I can’t get started, why I keep failing, why?...why?…why?…”

But really, the answers should be obvious to us because we have been given plenty of examples.  We have been given examples in the Bible of what not to do, or we can simply look around at the world around us.   If we don’t want to end up making the same mistake that other people make, then we need to look at their lives as examples to us.  

3. What is our Response?
How do we open our eyes to our obvious stumbling blocks?

The first thing we need to do is to be aware of what is going on in our own lives.  We need to take a step back and see our lives what they are worth so that we can see the big picture and identify those obvious stumbling blocks.  We need to take a step back and ask ourselves…”What is REALLY important…and what is not?”

If King Belshazzar had done this, his eyes would have been open to his own arrogance and he would have been able to avoid his fall. One of the ways that we can do this is to project our situations on someone else.  What I mean by this is to imagine if your best friend was in your situation and then ask what advice would you give them?  And then simply take your own advice.  Do your best to take yourself out of the situation and see what advice you would give yourself.

The next thing we can do to help identify our stumbling blocks is to Seek Godly counsel.  This is ultimately what the king did when he sought out Daniel.  When we are having trouble figuring out those obvious thing in our lives, then we need to go and ask someone who we know to be a godly person for help.  Sometimes, it takes someone on the outside, to help us see our own big picture.

And then once we have identified our stumbling blocks, the last thing for us to do…is to get rid of them, as quickly as possible.  We cannot wait until the time is right, we cannot wait until next week, we cannot wait until there is writing on our wall, at that point it’s too late…The damage will have been done. So, once you figure out your stumbling blocks, the time to remove them is now.

So the questions I leave you with are…

Where is God getting your attention…what is happening in your life right now, that you can’t help but notice and wonder about?

What are those things that should be obvious to you…that need to be removed from your life, so that you can get serious about your faith?

What is it, that you need to do, and need to do today, to get serious about your faith?

What is the writing on your wall?

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