Oh hey, I didn't expect you to talk back to me.
If you’ve found your way here it's because you know me, or you know someone who knows me. You may know a lot about me. Maybe you’d like to know more. This blog will be a way for me to relate my passion for preaching and teaching about the Christian Faith, with some other things I’m passionate about.
I grew up in the Nineties. When I think of the Nineties, the first thing that comes to my mind is a dinosaur. That might tell you a lot about how my mind works. Does this blog have anything to do with dinosaurs? I really wish so, but no.
Sometimes I refer to the Nineties as the Nintendo Nineties. Actually I've never done that before. It just sounded too good not to write. I played a lot of video games growing up. One of the series I played and still enjoy the most is The Legend of Zelda. In one of the games there is a bar. Don't worry, it’s not that kind of bar. It’s a milk bar. It's kind of like an exclusive night club. You've got to wear a cow mask to get in. Doesn't that sound awesome? Once you are a member of this exclusive club, you get to enjoy some music, talk to other world-wearied patrons, and of course, buy some milk. Stocking up on milk is a good way to restore your health in the middle of a quest. This particular Zelda game also features a time limit for each play session. In the game the clock shows that you have three days to complete your missions.
Not three literal days. Whew, that would’ve caused me to miss a lot of school as a kid. You only have a short amount of time to get things done in the game before it resets. So like milk itself, each play session has an understood expiration date.
Did I mention that I love Fairlife milk? Specifically chocolate milk. I like to thin it down a little with fat free milk before drinking. The regular chocolate is *just too thick*.
Maybe you’ve never considered if you have anything in common with the carton of milk in your fridge. But friends, I’ve got good news for you!
You and your milk carton have one big thing in common: An Expiration Date.
If you're reading this, odds are you haven't reached your expiration date yet. Hopefully the milk in your fridge hasn't either. Be sure to smell it before you drink it!
(Dinosaurs met their expiration date a long time ago, so there's that)
In all seriousness, we might not think about it a lot, but as sure as we had a beginning, we have an end somewhere in our future.
This past Sunday we studied Daniel 5 in our worship service. It's the story of a king who knows he's in trouble, but chooses to revel in his privilege while he still can. King Belshazzer was the king of the ancient empire, Babylon. It ruled the Middle East for decades, but its time was coming to an end. The Medes and Persians had teamed up to take Babylon down. As the old saying goes, the writing was on the wall.
And in this case, it literally was.
While Belshazzer was drinking himself to death with his buddies, the armies of the Medes and Persians had besieged the capital city, and an invasion was imminent. During the party, just before everyone passed out drunk, amidst their carousing, a hand appeared floating through the room.
Now, I''ve never gotten drunk, or high or anything like that (shocking I know). Heck, if a bottle of prescription drugs has a "may cause dizziness” warning on the side I’m too terrified to take it. I may not have the best mind, but I really don't want to be *out of it*. So maybe seeing things was a normal side effect of Babylonian binge drinking. Who knows. But they clearly weren't prepared for what happened that night. This hand spooked everyone into silence. The story goes that a single finger wrote on the wall of the banquet hall a few words that no one could understand. They were drunk, of course.
Interpreted into English, the inscription read: Number, Number, Weighed, Divided
Even if they could have deciphered what was written, the bigger question was, what did this mean?
Well, Daniel was summoned. He hadn't been on the scene or in the administration for a while. Perhaps Nebuchadnezzar had given him a nice loft overlooking the Hanging Gardens to retire in.
He showed up and delivered a sermon that he had preached to Belshazzer’s grandpa a few decades earlier: “God gave you your power. You've abused it. You’ve mocked Him. You’ve ignored reality. Now you're going to lose everything.”
The “Number, Number" part suggests a beginning and an end.
Tombstones have two sets of numbers on them: a birth date and a date of death. Belshazzer was shown his expiration date. It was that very night.
I could make a joke about seeing your own obituary column in the newspaper, but that’d be mean. Also, I don't read the newspaper. I just check Warlick’s website once a week.
The writing was on the wall. Everyone knew it. Belshazzer wanted to impress his buddies one last time, but they knew things weren't gonna last. Usually when we think we can distract people from knowing what’s broken and wrong in our lives, they already know. They’ve probably already told someone else about it. Hopefully not! But you know how people can be.
In between the date of birth and death on a tombstone is a dash. This dash is the same for everyone, no matter the numbers. The dash, however, is the most important part. It contains our life. That dash is where we lived, how we lived, and who we were throughout our life. This dash is going to be weighed one day, when its followed by our expiration date.
Belshazzer’s dash was weighed, and it was found unfulfilled. He hadn't lived up to his potential in life. He had squandered his God-given opportunity to leverage his life for a greater purpose and to work towards an eternal kingdom. Instead, he put all of his stock in himself, and in the kingdom that was already surrounded by its enemies.
What would it profit a person to gain the whole world at the expense of their one connection with their creator and the world beyond this one? Read Daniel 5. That’s exactly what we can look forward to if that describes us.
Belshazzer’s kingdom was divided and given to someone else. He spent that last night of his life drunk on himself, and died in the midst of his own foolishness.
Meanwhile, Daniel had outlasted Judah, Babylon, and would even go on to thrive as a key figure in the Kingdom of Persia. He purposed in his heart early in life that he was going to live for his Heavenly Father (Daniel 1:8). He could've quit, sold out, and given up a dozen times. He didn't lose faith in times of distress. When Judah was conquered and he was taken captive, he determined to be the best slave he could be. And he didn't dismiss his faith when he found success, after gaining favor with King Nebuchadnezzar. He remained faithful no matter what, because he had perspective. He knew that before his dash began, "Heaven ruled" (4:26). He knew this Kingdom would be around long after him too. The "Ancient of Days" (7:9) held the future in His hands.
Every day I look myself in the mirror and ask, “Who are you living for?”. Every day is a gift, and if we don't live in light of the coming Kingdom of Jesus Christ, we are just as foolish as King Belshazzer.
Take Daniel’s advice. Honor “the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways.” (Daniel 5:23)
Jesus loves you,