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Belshazzar was the King of Babylon. Many years earlier, Belshazzar’s father, Nebuchadnezzar, had invaded the land of Judah and exiled many of God’s people to Babylon. He also destroyed the temple and carried away many of the gold utensils to his palace.

Later Belshazzar became king, and he held a great banquet for all his officials. During the festivities, he called for the gold utensils of the Lord’s temple to be brought out, and they drank from them, praising the gods of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone (Daniel 5:3–4). Just then the Lord caused a hand to appear, announcing that God had numbered Belshazzar’s days, for he failed to measure up to God’s standards. His kingdom would be handed over to the Medes and the Persians. That very night the prophecy came true, and Belshazzar was killed.

Belshazzar was made coruler after his father left Babylon and lived in the desert town of Tema for over ten years. A few years before the Persians attacked Babylon, his father returned to defend his empire, and Belshazzar was put in charge of the city of Babylon itself. As the Bible records, however, Belshazzar was unable to stop the Persians from overtaking the city.

Some people seem to live above the rules. The rich hire skilled lawyers to get them off the hook for their crimes. The powerful put pressure on judges and leaders to turn a blind eye to their wrongs. The crafty find ways to get around the law to keep their schemes from being found out.Sometimes it can even seem like such people go unnoticed even by God Himself. But God does see, and one day He will call all persons to account for what they have done. No one illustrates this better than Belshazzar, the king of Babylon.