Writting On The Wall (or what to get your dad for father's day)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Are you familiar with the phrase: “The writing’s on the wall”?

I can’t prove it, we get that expression comes from Daniel chapter 5. (Either that, or it was coined by a family notorious for their lack of scrap paper who opted instead to write all phone messages on the wall by the phone.) The phrase is used to mean that the end is near, or something is about to die. That is what Daniel had to say to King Belshazzar after a hand interrupted his party to scribe a message on his wall.

I’m sure the story of Daniel chapter five with the writing on the wall is well known for anyone who went to Sunday school. I’m always a bit nervous teaching it to kids, fearing that I’d be giving them license to go home and take their Crayolas to test their parent’s biblical comprehension on the dining room wall. Of course if I had a five year old who could write “Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin” I’d probably enroll them in the advanced track at day camp.

What’s usually not as well known is Daniel chapter 4. Daniel recaps the events of chapter 4 for King Belshazzar before explaining what the words on his wall meant. Daniel reminds the king that his father King Nebuchadnezzar was arrogant and needed to be humbled by God. Nebuchadnezzar was even stripped of power for a time until he acknowledged God. Daniel points out that Nebuchadnezzar eventually recognized that everything he had came from God.

Belshazzar made no such acknowledgement. And what’s worse, he knew of what happened to his father. He knew that his father lost everything because of pride and arrogance. And he knew that his father eventually gave God the credit.

Yet he learned nothing.

He forsook the knowledge of his father.

And so a message was written on his wall to tell him that his time was up. It was all over for him. And then that night he died.

It amazes me how often this happens: where a son ignores the wisdom and advice of his father. We even see several examples in scripture of a son repeating his father’s mistakes. Usually things are worse for the son, because he should have learned from his dad.

You’d think sons everywhere would eventually learn to heed the advice from dear old dad.

I imagine that would be a great gift to offer our fathers for father’s day. I know that if I had kid’s I wouldn’t want them to repeat my mistakes. I suspect most fathers feel that way.