Daniel 5:22 (ESV)
And you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this,
This is not an easy blog to write. There comes a time when God says, “Enough is enough!” God had blessed Nebuchadnezzar, but when his son, Belshazzar took over leadership of the kingdom something changed. God had warned Nebuchadnezzar in chapter 2 that his kingdom would not last. Because of Nebuchadnezzar’s arrogance, God had humbled him in chapter 4. Now, years later, his son, Belshazzar, took that arrogance too far. He partied using the gold and silver vessels from he Jerusalem Temple. That which had been dedicated to God was used for drunken reveling. There comes a time when God says, “Enough!”
We don’t always know where that line is, but we need to be very aware that it is there. When we were first married, we had a dog that was allowed on the tile in the house, but not on the carpet. He knew exactly where the line was. He would lay on the line with his paws over. When we were not looking, he would sneak over the line and eventually he would be sitting clear across the room on the carpet. He knew where the line was, but hoped he could get away with it.
God is a God of love, mercy, and grace, but he is also a God of justice, righteousness, and holiness. When an individual, a group, or a nation flaunts their sin and celebrates it, they are very close to the line. The lesson Nebuchadnezzar had been taught in chapter four was that Gods “works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble” (Dan 4:37). We may not know where the line is, but we can be assured that it is there and we will not escape judgement.
In Revelation 2:21 God said of the church in Thyatira, “I gave her time to repent, but she refuses.” The Apostle Paul warned in Romans 2:4, “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” Too often we take God’s kindness to mean God’s approval. His patience with us is meant to lead us to humility and faith, not justify our sin.
What makes this truth hard is that we are quite willing to embrace it, teach it, and even cheer it because we assume it is about someone else. Or, we look at those who seem to be prospering in their wickedness and it causes us to doubt the truth of God’s judgment. Solomon wrote, “There is a vanity that takes place on earth, that there are righteous people to whom it happens according to the deeds of the wicked, and there are wicked people to whom it happens according to the deeds of the righteous” (Eccl 8:14). David wrote in Psalms 73:3, “For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” But he concluded in verse 27, “For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.”
There is always room for repentance. When Nebuchadnezzar was warned in Daniel 4, Daniel said, “Therefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to you: break off your sins by practicing righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the oppressed, that there may perhaps be a lengthening of your prosperity” (Dan 4:27). But when Belshazzar was sent the warning in chapter 5, there was no such offer. He had stepped over the line. He had gone too far. There is always room for repentance, until we go too far.
For individuals, I believe that as long as they have breath they have the opportunity to repent and believe. For kingdoms and nations that may not be the case. Jesus taught in Luke 12:48, “But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.” The more blessing we have received, the more access to the truth we have had, the more serious the judgment.
When that which is holy is treated as unholy God says, “Enough!” In Romans 14:11 Paul quotes the prophet Isaiah, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” That day is coming. The Apostles expected that day to come in their lifetime. My grandparents expected that day to come in their lifetime. To many, it looks as though that day will come in our lifetime. The Apostle Peter warned, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed” (2 Peter 3:10).
When that day is we do not know, but it will come when the world has crossed the line, and God says, “Enough!” How should we live until then? Colossians 3:2 tells us to, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Jesus instructed us to, “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Hebrews 12:2 tell us that we should be, “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” So let me ask you, what are you giving your life to?