Today’s readings.. (2 Chronicles 24), (Daniel 5), (Acts 3,4)
If you were doing a Bible Quiz and you were asked whose “knees knocked together” and why – what would you answer? Well, the answer is in today’s readings: it is one of several lessons as to how quickly humans can forget the evidence of the power and presence of God in their lives or in those very near to them.
King Belshazzar was probably the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel Ch. 5 tells of “1,000 lords” gathered together by Belshazzar and drinking wine. They were using “the vessels of gold and silver that Nebuchadnezzar “had taken out of the temple in Jerusalem” [v.1,2]. As “they drank wine and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood and stone, immediately the fingers of a human hand appearing and wrote on the plaster of the wall …” [v.4,5]
It was such a dramatic happening that “the king’s colour changed, and his thoughts alarmed him; his limbs gave way, and his knees knocked together” [v.6] His wise men cannot interpret the writing, but the queen mother comes in (v.10) and reminds him of the now aged Daniel. He is called and arrives to interpret the writing, a message of doom – “you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting” [v.27]. His kingdom is to be overthrown by Darius and “that very night Belshazzar … was killed” [v.30]. How many will be “found wanting” when Christ returns?
Our Chronicles reading provides similar lessons. We read in 2 Chron. Ch. 23 of the boy Joash who was preserved to become king. He was guided by the aged priest Jehoiada and did great work to repair the Temple which had been desecrated by his evil grandmother who had seized control of the nation and killed all the heirs, but he had been hidden.
“But Jehoiada grew old and died … He was 130 years old” [24 v.15]; the then “the princes of Judah came and paid homage to the king (flattered him). Then the king listened to them. And they abandoned the house of the LORD” [v.17-18} and great trouble followed.
These events are lessons for us. This world has abandoned all meaningful belief in God – so will not God, maybe soon, create situations in which knees will knock together – and worse! The words of the prophets are that he will, let us heed the lessons of history.
We have valuable thoughts in all our readings today.. In Chronicles we read how the priest “Jehoiada took courage and entered into a covenant with the commanders …” [2 Chron 23 v.1] so that the kingship was restored and the evil queen mother – Ahab’s daughter – was destroyed.
In Daniel we read chapter 4 and saw how parts of it were written by King Nebuchadnezzar himself who is humbled to bring him down from his excessive pride in saying, “Is not this great Babylon which I have built by my mighty power” [v.30]. He is humbled for seven years and then, he himself writes, “my reason returned to me and I blessed the most high and I praised and honoured him who lives forever” [v.34] He now has a true personal perception, born of experience, of the one and only real God. Can we fully share his perception?
He writes,” … all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing and he (God) does according to his will … all his works are right and his ways are just …” [v.35,37]
In Acts ch. 2 we read how the Holy Spirit came upon the 12 apostles on the Day of Pentecost. As a result Peter is inspired to speak out a message that cuts the hearers to the heart leading to thousands being converted and baptised.
What is really challenging for us to think about – is Peter’s quotation from a Psalm of David (v.25) applying it first to Jesus, then to all the believers, “I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad … my flesh always will dwell in hope … you have made known to me the paths of life.” [v,25,26,28]
The more we read God’s word, may we more clearly see our Lord always before us so that we may not be shaken as our world disintegrates into chaos in these last days – as so many prophecies reveal it will.