We pass things on to our children, whether we mean to or not. While we think of earthly possessions as things we pass down, we also pass down things like character and moral failings.
The religious term for this is family sin, which is debatable under the New Covenant, by the way – Christ breaks all chains. But it doesn’t take a spiritual mystic to see the reality of how sons seek to be like their fathers. As people, we take our cues from the models in our lives, for good or ill, and sons seek to emulate their fathers in a number of ways. This can be conscious or not.
Our family relationships are foundations that we must understand as we grow. We are responsible for our own choices, but the influence can be overwhelming. To be clear, there is healing in the power of Christ and the love of the Father in heaven to set us free from those earthly expectations and reconnect us to the heavenly design.
Belshazzar received Babylon, but he also seems to have mimicked his fathers penchant for pride and boasting.
The new king decides to have a feast. Nothing wrong with a party, but he invites a thousand of the lords of Babylon. A thousand lords … which we can assume included their own retinues, as well, wives and families and servants and such, not to mention his own wives and concubines. A feast for three to five thousand wealthy people? What a party.
Belshazzar gets a little drunk on wine. It’s a party, after all. And then he makes his mistake. He gets people to bring in the vessels of gold and silver from the Temple in Jerusalem. Why? So the wealthy rulers of Babylon can drink wine from them.
Now, it may not seem like a big deal to us today, but God had instructed the Israelites to keep those things clean and holy, for his use alone. Part of the reason Israel was given over to a foreign nation was that they didn’t keep up proper worship and showed off the riches of the Temple to Babylon in the first place (by King Hezekiah).
Therefore, this was a huge insult, and it was intended to be one. Showing Babylon’s superiority over those pesky Jews.
God was not amused.
We should realize that the Jews were not perfect. Far from it. They had done horrible and detestable things. God had sent prophet after prophet that they had either ignored or persecuted or even killed. All to get them to turn and repent, and they had not.
But they were still his people. And as we see in Esther and Ezra and Nehemiah, he takes care of his people even while they were under oppression and punishment.
If you don’t know the rest of the story, God interrupts the feast and writes a message on the wall that scares the crap out of everyone, especially since they don’t know what the message means. Belshazzar offers untold riches to any of his “wise men” that could interpret the message, but they couldn’t. The Queen remembers this guy, Daniel, who was like a god with his wisdom, and so Daniel – after refusing money and wealth – shows up and gives the interpretation of the message:
“Your father had to be taught to humble himself before God. But you didn’t learn the lesson. And you should have learned.
“Your days are numbered, as are the days of Babylon.” In other words, you really messed up.
The king died that night. Darius and the Syrian Empire took over from there.
Christians aren’t perfect. We are far from it. But we are his children, even moreso than Israel was, born of God in the Spirit. We are his Bride. And no matter how imperfect we are and under conviction from God in what we should be doing, God still takes care of us and protects us.
Two things to take from this. First, it is dangerous for individuals or authorities or governments to mock, insult, or oppress Christians. I’m not defending every action by anyone who claims to be a Christian, but as the Apostle Paul says, we have to remember they are not our servants but God’s. And God is able to deal with his people one way or another. If a government wants to survive, it must give freedom to those with convictions from God, whether they agree with them or not.
I’m not suggesting some sort of “Christian” government or a theocracy. That already exists in the Kingdom of God. And I’m not saying that Christians shouldn’t be held accountable to the law. However, a government invites danger and judgment when it instead marginalizes or oppresses the convictions of those born of God, even when it makes it “law.”
Not to mention, the people of God tend to grow closer to Him and stronger when forced to resist unjust law and oppression of the Gospel of God. No nation has been able to kill the Bible or Christianity in two thousand years. Seems prideful to think one can now.
Second, Christians do not have to defend themselves. God is big enough to defend us. Period. Daniel didn’t have to organize a radical protest in the streets with signs or burn down shops and cars to make the point this was a horrible thing to God. He didn’t have to make snarky memes and put them on FB.
God took care of it. The Kingdom is strong enough.
Daniel, however, did speak truth and address the king of Babylon and the judgment that God declared.
Of course we should get involved in the public sphere to use our influence for better communities as much as is possible. But that’s not our primary mission.
Our mission is to declare the Gospel. To the world, that is offensive enough. And the power of God is behind that mission. He may not fight for us to keep more or less of our taxes or get the president we want, but he will always show up for those willing to give their life for the Gospel. Always.
And if God is for us, no one can be against us.