The writing is on the wall

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Daniel 5

In the Fuhrerbunker, Hitler married Eva Braun and his generals toasted the “Thousand Year Reich.”  But “the writing was on the wall”.  This phrase denotes a judgement of doom that gatecrashes the dinner party.

The original party-pooping judgement happened to the Babylonian King, Belshazzar.  In all probability, the invading Medes were upon them and so the royal family decided to enjoy life while they could.  Instead of turning to the LORD of Israel, (whose temple furnishings lay in the palace), they decided to use the LORD’s things to have one last hurrah.

“Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand. 2 Belshazzar, whiles he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink therein.  3 Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God which was at Jerusalem; and the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, drank in them. 4 They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone. 5 In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. 6 Then the king’s countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.  (Daniel 5:1-6)

The mighty king is reduced to a quivering wreck, even before he reads the writing on the wall .  Once again Daniel must interpret this message from God.  He tells Belshazzar the story of his father, Nebuchadnezzar from Daniel 4.  Nebuchadnezzar had humbled himself before the Most High God and had acknowledged God’s reign through the Lowliest of Men (Daniel 4:17).  In contrast, his son has exalted himself and despised the LORD God and His Christ.  Therefore Daniel translates the writing, pronouncing God’s judgement:

This is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. 26 This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. 27 TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. 28 PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.   (Daniel 5:25-28).

The words are all units of currency – a mina (meaning counted), a shekel (meaning weighed) and half a mina (therefore with the idea of divided).  And the words to Belshazzar are words to all those who would scoff at the judgement of the Most High and His Servant King:  Our days are numbered, our lives are found wanting in the scales of God’s justice and judgement will fall.

For Belshazzar, and those at his table, it was too late – the writing was on the wall.  His was the tragic case of a king lifting himself up in arrogance.  Yet chapter 5 ends with Daniel being clothed in scarlet and made ruler.  The exalted king is struck down.  The humble servant is raised to honour.

As that judgement fell, the question was this: with whom do you stand?  Do you raise a glass to the reigning king and try to distract yourself from the inevitable?  Or do you stand with Daniel, the Spirit-filled servant?

The future does not belong to the king of this age.  The writing is on the wall for the whole race of Adam – it is condemned already, (John 3:18).  The future belongs to Christ, the Lowliest of men – and to those who belong to Him.

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