The Youth’s Instructor


May 19, 1898

The Unseen Watcher—No. 1


“I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed,” writes Daniel, “and, behold, a watcher and an holy one came down from heaven; he cried aloud, and said thus, Hew down the tree, and cut off his branches, shake off his leaves, and scatter his fruit: let the beasts get away from under it, and the fowls from his branches: nevertheless leave the stump of his roots in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth: let his heart be changed from man's, and let a beast's heart be given unto him; and let seven times pass over him. This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.” YI May 19, 1898, par. 1

Here we are shown that God holds even heathen kings subject to his will. He takes idolaters, and deals with them according to their evil ways and doings. YI May 19, 1898, par. 2

The same Watcher who came to Daniel was an uninvited guest at Belshazzar's sacrilegious feast. This monarch had everything to flatter his pride and indulge his passions. He was a great king, presiding over what was then the greatest kingdom on earth. His provinces were cultivated by captives, and his capital was enriched by the spoil of nations. He held the life and property of his subjects in his hand. To those who ministered to his pride and vanity, he was indulgent; they were his chosen favorites; but if at any moment they crossed his will, he was at once a cruel tyrant. His anger blazed forth against them without restraint. YI May 19, 1898, par. 3

Admitted to a share in kingly authority at fifteen years of age, Belshazzar gloried in his power, and lifted up his heart against the God of heaven. He despised the One who is above all rulers, the General of all the armies of heaven. “Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand.” On this occasion there was music and dancing and wine-drinking. The profane orgies of royal mirth were attended by men of genius and education. Decorated women with their enchantments, were among the revelers. YI May 19, 1898, par. 4

Exalted by wine and blinded by delusion, the king himself took the lead in the riotous blasphemy. Reason no longer controlled him; his lower impulses and passions were in the ascendency. His kingdom was strong and apparently invincible, and he would show that he thought nothing too sacred for his hands to handle and profane. To show his contempt for sacred things, he desecrated the holy vessels taken from the temple of the Lord at its destruction. YI May 19, 1898, par. 5

A Watcher, who was unrecognized, but whose presence was a power of condemnation, looked on this scene of profanation. Soon the unseen and uninvited Guest made his presence felt. At the moment when the sacrilegious revelry was at its height, a bloodless hand came forth, and wrote words of doom on the wall of the banqueting hall. Burning words followed the movements of the hand. “Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin,” was written in letters of flame. Few were the characters traced by that hand on the wall facing the king, but they showed that the power of God was there. YI May 19, 1898, par. 6

Belshazzar was afraid. His conscience was awakened. The fear and suspicion that always follow the course of the guilty seized him. When God makes men fear, they can not hide the intensity of their terror. Alarm seized the great men of the kingdom. Their blasphemous disrespect of sacred things was changed in a moment. A frantic terror overcame all self-control. YI May 19, 1898, par. 7

Belshazzar had been given many opportunities for knowing and doing the will of God. He had seen his grandfather Nebuchadnezzar banished from the society of men. He had seen the intellect in which the proud monarch gloried taken away by the One who gave it. He had seen the king driven from his kingdom, and made the companion of the beasts of the field. But Belshazzar's love of amusement and self-glorification effaced the lessons he should never have forgotten; and he committed sins similar to those that brought signal judgments on Nebuchadnezzar. He wasted the opportunities graciously granted him, neglecting to use the opportunities within his reach for becoming acquainted with truth. “What must I do to be saved?” was a question that the great but foolish king passed by indifferently. YI May 19, 1898, par. 8

This is the danger of heedless, reckless youth today. The hand of God will awaken the sinner as it did Belshazzar, but with many it will be too late to repent. YI May 19, 1898, par. 9

The ruler of Babylon had riches and honor, and in his haughty self-indulgence he had lifted himself up against the God of heaven and earth. He had trusted in his own arm, not supposing that any would dare to say, “Why doest thou this?” But as the mysterious hand traced letters on the wall of his palace, Belshazzar was awed and silenced. In a moment he was completely shorn of his strength, and humbled as a child. He realized that he was at the mercy of One greater than himself. He had been making sport of sacred things. Now his conscience was awakened. He realized that he had had the privilege of knowing and doing the will of God. The history of his grandfather stood out as vividly before him as the writing on the wall. YI May 19, 1898, par. 10

In vain the king tried to read the burning letters. He had found a power too strong for him. He could not read the writing. “The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. And the king spake, and said to the wise men of Babylon, Whosoever shall read this writing, and show me the interpretation thereof, shall be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about his neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom. Then came in all the king's wise men: but they could not read the writing, nor make known to the king the interpretation thereof.” In vain the king offered honor and promotion. Heavenly wisdom can not be bought and sold. “Then was king Belshazzar greatly troubled, and his countenance was changed in him, and his lords were astonished.” YI May 19, 1898, par. 11

Mrs. E. G. White