“Where were you when they bombed Pearl Harbor?”
“Where were you when the planes crashed into the Twin Towers on 9/11?”
“Where were you when you heard they killed Osama bin Laden?”
These were events that changed the world. Although I’m far too young to remember Pearl Harbor, I clearly remember where I was on 9/11. I was baking a vanilla cake for my Dad’s birthday when Jamie turned on the news to hear the football scores from the night before. It felt like time stopped as we watched the second plane crash into the second tower. At that moment, everyone knew that life in America had changed.
When we look at Daniel 5, we see a similar event. Only this time, it wasn’t bombs flying or planes crashing into buildings. Instead, the question asked throughout society's higher echelons was, “Where were you when the finger wrote on the wall?”
For King Belshazzar (King Nebuchadnezzar’s son), and a thousand of his nobles, the answer is simple. They were all together, having a feast and getting drunk as skunks. While they were intoxicated, they made a disastrous decision.
“While Belshazzar was drinking his wine, he gave orders to bring in the gold and silver goblets that Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken from the temple in Jerusalem, so that the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines might drink from them.
So they brought in the gold goblets that had been taken from the temple of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines drank from them.
As they drank the wine, they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone.” (Daniel 5:2-4)
That’s when it happened:
“Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote. His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his legs became weak and his knees were knocking.” (Daniel 5:5-6)
Whoa!! They were not expecting this!!!
You can almost imagine them asking, “Did you see that? That really happened right? I really saw that…it’s not just the alcohol?”
Most importantly, “What do those words mean?”
You’d better believe they were going to find out. So the king called in all of his wise men and enchanters, but of course, they had no idea what the words meant.
That’s when the queen (who apparently wasn’t at the banquet) had a suggestion.
Remember Daniel? He could tell you what the dream meant.
In the end, Daniel came and told the king that the words meant that God was not pleased with King Belshazzar and that God was going to give the kingdom to another.
As we see in Daniel 5:30, "That very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians, was slain, and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom, at the age of sixty-two.”
At that time, this event was as big as Pearl Harbor or 9/11. In one night, the greatest world power was overthrown. King Belshazzar was killed, and Darius the Mede became the most powerful man in the world.
Meanwhile, what happened to Daniel?
Turn to Daniel 6:1-3 and we’ll see:
“It pleased Darius to appoint 120 satraps to rule throughout the kingdom, with three administrators over them, one of whom was Daniel. The satraps were made accountable to them so that the king might not suffer loss.
Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.”
Wow! That’s impressive!
Daniel had come a long way since he was a young exile choosing to obey God and refusing to eat the king’s food.
And yet, all these years later, we see that Daniel was still the same man with the same convictions. How do we know this?
Daniel wasn’t at the party feasting with the other nobles.
He wasn’t drunk out of his mind like the rest of the leaders in the kingdom.
Most importantly, he wasn’t desecrating the things from God’s Temple and worshiping other idols.
On the night of the big party, Daniel was the only one with a sober, sound mind, remaining faithful to God.
On the night the kingdom of Babylon fell, Daniel was the one who survived to serve King Darius as a leader in the new nation.
Not only did he survive—he thrived. King Darius planned to set him over the whole kingdom!
As I read this passage, I am reminded of the truth that as Christians, we are called to follow Daniel’s example.
We are not meant to be part of the crowd, participating in the crowd’s sin.
As Christians, we are called to be set apart, live holy lives, obey God and remain faithful to Him and follow His Word.
Even though the common lie is that when you abstain from sin and seek to live a holy life, you will miss out, the truth is that it is actually this path that will allow God to fulfill His purpose in your life.
Think about it: If Daniel had been at the party, gorging on food, overcome by alcohol, going with the flow, worshiping other gods, and defiling items dedicated to the Temple, he would have been killed alongside Babylon’s other leaders.
Because he chose to live a set-apart lifestyle, God was able to protect him, prosper him, and continue to use Daniel to advance God’s kingdom.
Today, God is looking for people who are willing to follow Daniel’s example and stay home from the party of sin that the world is throwing.
God is looking for people who will choose to “Come out from among them and be separate.”
Come out from them
and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing,
and I will receive you.”
And, “I will be a Father to you,
and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”
2 Corinthians 7:17-18
God is asking you and I be different—to be holy—-to live our lives, avoiding the trappings of sin and walk in obedience to His Word.
Like Daniel, we should no be attending all of the parties and events that the world is throwing.
We shouldn’t be consuming the things they are consuming—whether it be alcohol or entertainment.
We shouldn’t be watching the trash they are watching, filling our minds images they fill their minds, using the same foul language, or bowing down to the same gods they serve.
Even if everyone else is doing it, we shouldn’t have anything to do with the occult or magic.
We shouldn’t be doing yoga, meditating on anything but God’s Word, or participating in any ritual derived from a foreign religion.
We need to obey the Bible’s guidelines for sex. It is meant to be between a man and a woman who are married—nothing else.
In all of the ways that a sinful world and even progressive Christians want us to compromise, we need to follow Daniel’s example and say, “No, thank you. I can’t join in.”
I truly believe that God will honor our choice to follow Daniel’s example. When we obey Him, we allow Him to guide our lives in whatever direction He sees fit. We walk in the center of His will, and that’s exactly where I want to be.
Even more, when we choose to follow God wholeheartedly, we position ourselves to be ready for the ultimate “Where were you event?”
You see, one day, the trumpet is going to sound, and those who are genuinely wholeheartedly following Jesus are going to be raptured to meet Jesus in Heaven.
Will you be following Jesus or caught in a compromised position?
I know beyond a shadow of a doubt where I want to be and what I want to be doing.
I want to follow Daniel’s example and abstain from evil while I’m wholeheartedly following Jesus.
How about you?