The Signs of the Times


July 20, 1891

Results of Refusing to Walk in the Light


“Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand.... Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God which was at Jerusalem; and the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, drank in them. They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone.” While they were engaged in this sacrilegious feast, a bloodless hand traced opposite the king, characters of writing that could not be read or interpreted by any of the magicians or wise men of the court. “Then the king's countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him.” But if they could not understand the writing, why were they so troubled? The writing on the wall gave evidence that there was a witness to their evil deeds, a guest not invited or welcome to their idolatrous feast, and his presence convicted of sin, and foretold doom and disaster. Before them passed, as in panoramic view, the deeds of their evil lives, and they seemed to be arraigned before the Judgment, of which they had been warned. ST July 20, 1891, par. 1

Belshazzar was most terror-stricken of them all; for great had been his opportunities for knowing the God he had blasphemed and derided. He knew the history of his grandfather; how, because of his exaltation of self, his wisdom and reason had been taken away, and he had gone forth to be a companion of the beasts of the field. But Belshazzar disregarded the lesson as completely as though these things had never occurred, and made himself guilty of the very sins for which his grandfather had been condemned. He was guilty because he had had the privilege of knowing and doing the right, and of leading others in the way, and yet refused to heed the light that God had permitted to shine upon his pathway. He had every opportunity of becoming acquainted with God and with his truth, but he would not deny himself in order to know and do righteousness. Now in the midst of his most pronounced idolatry and defiance of God, the bloodless hand writes his doom. ST July 20, 1891, par. 2

Daniel is remembered, and brought to the banqueting hall. The servant of God sees the evidences of the degradation and idolatry of the feast, so suddenly brought to an end; but Daniel was not disconcerted in the presence of the king and his lords. ST July 20, 1891, par. 3

“I have even heard of thee,” said the king, “that the spirit of the gods is in thee, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom is found in thee.... And I have heard of thee, that thou canst make interpretations, and dissolve doubts; now if thou canst read the writing, and make known to me the interpretation thereof, thou shalt be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about thy neck, and shalt be the third ruler in the kingdom. Then Daniel answered and said before the king, Let thy gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation.” Then Daniel reviewed the past, bringing before Belshazzar the light which he had received from the history and judgment of Nebuchadnezzar. God had given his grandfather a kingdom, majesty, glory, and honor; but instead of feeling gratitude to God Nebuchadnezzar had taken the glory to himself, and his mind was lifted up and his heart hardened. God deposed him from his throne, and took his glory from him. Daniel faithfully repeated the story of Nebuchadnezzar's renown and degradation, and set forth the mercy of God in granting him another opportunity of acknowledging God as the Supreme Ruler in heaven and earth, the One to whom kings and nations owed allegiance. “And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this; but hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know; and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified.” ST July 20, 1891, par. 4

Then the writing on the wall was read and interpreted. Belshazzar heard the irrevocable sentence: “God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it.” “Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.” “Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.” Belshazzar was without excuse, for abundant light had been given him to reform his life. He had had opportunity for knowing the truth; but he lost all the benefits of the knowledge by his course of self-indulgence; he did not meet the mind of God, as a man or a king, and because of this the kingdom had been taken from him. He who has power to set up and to tear down, gave the kingdom to another. ST July 20, 1891, par. 5

In the history of Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar, God speaks to nations of today. We are to take to heart the lessons he sought to teach these rebellious kings; for if Belshazzar had pursued a course in harmony with the instruction given to his grandfather, he would have retained not only his kingdom but his life. He disregarded the lessons, and went on in rebellion against God, committing the very sins for which his grandfather had been reproved and punished. He, too, lifted himself up in pride and exaltation, and the final judgment of God fell upon him and his house. His great sin was that, notwithstanding God had given him light, he refused to walk in the paths of righteousness. ST July 20, 1891, par. 6