King Belshazzar made a great festival for a thousand of his lords, and he was drinking wine in the presence of the thousand. Under the influence of the wine, Belshazzar commanded that they bring in the vessels of gold and silver that his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple in Jerusalem, so that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them. So they brought in the vessels of gold and silver that had been taken out of the temple, the house of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. They drank the wine and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone. Immediately the fingers of a human hand appeared and began writing on the plaster of the wall of the royal palace, next to the lampstand. The king was watching the hand as it wrote. Then the king’s face turned pale, and his thoughts terrified him. His limbs gave way, and his knees knocked together. The king cried aloud to bring in the enchanters, the Chaldeans, and the diviners; and the king said to the wise men of Babylon, “Whoever can read this writing and tell me its interpretation shall be clothed in purple, have a chain of gold around his neck, and rank third in the kingdom.” Then all the king’s wise men came in, but they could not read the writing or tell the king the interpretation. Then King Belshazzar became greatly terrified and his face turned pale, and his lords were perplexed. The queen, when she heard the discussion of the king and his lords, came into the banqueting hall. The queen said, “O king, live forever! Do not let your thoughts terrify you or your face grow pale. There is a man in your kingdom who is endowed with a spirit of the holy gods. In the days of your father he was found to have enlightenment, understanding, and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods. Your father, King Nebuchadnezzar, made him chief of the magicians, enchanters, Chaldeans, and diviners, because an excellent spirit, knowledge, and understanding to interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve problems were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar. Now let Daniel be called, and he will give the interpretation.” (Daniel 5:1-12, NRSV)
What would you do if out of no where a human hand appeared and started writing on the wall? And of course, we really don’t know at this point why the king can’t read it. Was it because it was written in a way that was illegible? Was it because it was in a language the king could not understand? Or was it because the king was drunk that he couldn’t make it out?
The reading does inform us that the king was under the influence of wine and had the gold and silver vessels his father had taken from the temple in Jerusalem. What do you think would happen if you started to use something you had stolen from God?
Have you ever stolen from God?
How do we steal from God as we prepare for Christmas? How do we steal from God when we skip over Advent?
You see Advent is not just about waiting for the coming savior, it is about preparing the way for Him. It is about preparing our hearts for Him. It is about us making room for peace, joy, love, and hope.
Advent is a time for us to reflect on how we are Christ’s light to the world. And by not doing this are we stealing from God?
Do we steal from God?