Back in early 70′s, there was a popular song by The Five Man Electrical Band. The title of it was “Signs.” The song dealt with how signs were being used to control everyday life. “Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?” The implication of the song is that “signs” are a bad thing. To say the least, signs didn’t go over very well with a generation that didn’t want to be told how to live their lives. I guess it’s pretty much always been that way.
In the context of the song I can see the point the Five Man Electrical Band was trying to make. Man does have a propensity to misuse things. However, as far as God is concerned, signs have been a pretty useful thing. In Daniel chapter 5, God used a very interesting sign to get the attention of Belshazzar, the king of the Chaldeans.
While in the midst of a drunken orgy, using the gold and silver vessels taken from the temple in Jerusalem, the fingers of a man’s hand appeared and started writing on the wall. To say the least, this brought the king’s “celebration” to a very different level. Fear and outright terror filled the room to the point we read the king’s “knees knocked against each other.” I must admit I’ve never seen that before! Belshazzar was, quite frankly, terrified! He wanted to know what this was all about.
But the “writing on the wall” was a cryptic message that wasn’t understood by Belshazzar or any of the “wise men” of Babylon, bringing greater fear to the king. The queen arrived and urged the king to bring in Daniel to give the interpretation of the mysterious writing from the finger of God. When Daniel was brought in to the king, he was offered great rewards from the king if he could read the message. Daniel refused any “rewards” and reminded the king of what God did to his predecessor, King Nebuchadnezzar. He lost his kingdom, was driven away by the people and ate grass like an animal for 7 years!
The Most High had made it clear that He would not allow any king to exalt himself over God. This is what Belshazzar was guilty of in his mockery of God during his orgy. So God uses Daniel once again to reveal Himself to a pagan king. He was truly the right man for the job, for he was totally devoted to God and His Word. In chapter 9 we see how Daniel, because of God’s Word, knew his people would soon be free to return to Israel. Daniel knew what God had done in the past and what He would do in the future. He knew God because he knew His Word.
It’s interesting to me that Daniel wasn’t there to actually see the finger writing on the wall. He didn’t need to. The “sign” wasn’t for Daniel, it was for the unbelieving Belshazzar. I’m reminded of Paul writing to the Corinthians, explaining that the sign of languages was “not for believers but for unbelievers” (1 Cor. 14:22). Daniel didn’t need to see the sign, he would know exactly what God was communicating when he saw the words, because he knew his God and His Spirit was in him (v.11). God always has the right man, for the right job, in the right place, at the right time.
The message that the hand of God had written declared the end of Belshazzar’s kingdom. It had been weighed in God’s balance and came up short. Belshazzar still tried to “reward” Daniel for telling him what God’s message was, but I have to think it was probably more of a bribe to stop God from doing what was written. It didn’t work. God’s Word always holds true. Belshazzar’s kingdom fell that very night and he was killed.
It’s somewhat disappointing when believers in Christ look for “signs” to confirm to themselves that God is really working in their lives. He has given us His “prophetic word strongly confirmed. You will do well to pay attention to it, as to a lamp shining in a dismal place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:19). Let’s pay attention to the light He is shining and focus on the “sign” He has given us all to read…His Word. May we learn of our God through His Word, to the end that we will know Him and daily walk in His Spirit who lives in us.