Summary: "You have been weighed in the balances and found wanting..." It's such a familiar phrase, even Johnny Cash turned it into a hit, but what does it mean for us as Christians today? In these lesson we'll explore that and much more.
It must have been a sight to behold; a hand that appeared out of nowhere, writing an unknown message, “Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin.” The very sight of the hand writing on the wall caused King Belshazzar to be overcome with fright. What was the meaning of the message? That King Belshazzar had been “weighed in the balances and found wanting.” The days of his kingdom and been numbered, and on that very night, that which he treasured would be taken from him. One of the greatest judgment scenes in the Bible speaks to us today. Just as Belshazzar was weighed in the balances, we too will be weighed in the eternal balances of God. Will the results be the same? Will we be found wanting? For our lesson today let’s consider the three charges that caused Belshazzar to be found wanting. As we examine his charges, take a long look at your life and ask yourself this question…”If I was to die today and weighed in the balances of God would I be found wanting?” If the answer is yes, then I would advise you to turn to Jesus and seek our His way so that you might have eternal life with Him. Let’s consider the three charges against Belshazzar.
He Dishonored God by Dishonoring God’s Vessels (Daniel 5:2, 22-23a):
After Belshazzar had begun to drink wine he commanded that “the vessels of gold and silver that Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken out of the temple in Jerusalem be brought, that the king, his lords, his wives and his concubines might drink from them” (5:2). When Daniel is brought to decipher the hand writing on the wall he begins by reminding Belshazzar of how God blessed his father[i] Nebuchadnezzar and how when his heart was prideful, God humbled him (5:17-21). Daniel said, “And you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew 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… but the God in whose hand is your breath, and whose are all your ways, you have not honored” (5:22-23).
What is Belshazzar guilty of? Why was he found lacking when he was weighed in the balances? Because he exalted himself by dishonoring God and dishonoring God’s vessels. In the context of this feast it is likely that Belshazzar is dishonoring all the “gods” who had been subdued by the Babylonians.
What about us? When we are weighed in the balances will be we found wanting? If we have not shown God honor by honoring His vessels, then yes we will be found wanting. That might sound strange at first. You might be asking yourself, “How can we dishonor God’s vessels like Belshazzar did?” We can dishonor God’s vessels in just the same way that Belshazzar did. When we dishonor God’s people, Christians, we dishonor God. For God’s people are God’s vessels in His holy temple. Note some of the passages that show this: Paul is called a “chosen vessel” of God to teach His name to the gentiles, to kings and the children of Israel (Acts 9:15 NKJV). In Paul’s discourse on the need for Christians to be approved by God, he said if a Christian will “cleanse himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:20-21). Peter instructs “husbands to live with their [wives] in an understanding way showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel” (1 Peter 3:7).
Therefore, if we dishonor God’s people (vessels), then we dishonor God. We dishonor God’s vessels by not: putting other people’s interest before our own (Philippians 2:1-11). When our actions are motivated by what’s best for us and not others, then we’re dishonoring God’s people, God’s vessels, and we’ll be found wanting. Furthermore, we dishonor God by not imparting grace with our words, actions and forgiveness (Ephesians 4:29-32). Paul says this kind of conduct, “grieves the Holy Spirit” (4:30). Finally, we dishonor God by dishonoring His people when we as husbands don’t treat our wives in an understanding way (1 Peter 3:7). He doesn’t say that we have to understand them, we rarely will, but that we treat them in an understanding way, in a delicate way that gives them honor.
If you were to stand before God today and your life was weighed in the balances, would you be wanting because you have dishonored God by dishonoring His vessels, His people? If so friend, then show God honor by humbling yourself and honoring His people.
Honored Other gods above Jehovah God (Daniel 5:4, 23b):