Last Sunday our church kids had a lesson on the major prophets with Phil Vischer’s What’s in the Bible curriculum. As we learned about Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel, they were really intrigued by the book of Daniel, chapter 5, and the account of King Belshazzar and the handwriting on the wall.
Most of our children hadn’t heard of this story before–to be honest it’s not one of the top 10 kidmin lessons, because, well, because it’s kind of freaky! The kind of stuff that gives kids nightmares. I tell ya what, a kid will pay pretty good attention when they hear about fingers appearing out of nowhere and writing on a wall. This kind of thing doesn’t just freak kids out; this was so freaky that it caused the arrogant King Belshazzar to turn pale, his knees to start knocking and his legs to give away.
I mean, seriously, if a hand or fingers appeared in my home anytime, I would freak out, but especially if I was in the middle of a moment of great defiance against the LORD.
The message left on the wall included these words: Mene, Mene, Tekel Parsin.
Today more people would probably recognize their meaning from the Heath Ledger movie, A Knight’s Tale than they would the Bible, but the meaning was still clear for both King Belshazzar and Adamar.
“You’ve been weighed. You’ve been measured and you’ve been found wanting.”
At least that’s how it went in “A Knight’s Tale.” But in Daniel it was a bit more specific:
“God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.
You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.
Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and the Persians.”
Then that very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians, was slain, and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom.
It’s sad that in Belshazzar’s arrogance, he didn’t think to consider that the LORD’s patience would one day run out. The queen was a wise woman, and she seemed to have understood what was going on. Fingers writing on your wall? Who ya gonna call?? She knew the man to call was Daniel and told Old Belshazzar to call him up and bring him in to shed a little light on the subject.
Before explaining the message, Daniel retold the story of Belshazzar’s ancestor King Nebuchadnezzar’s encounter with the LORD, which was equally freaky (see Daniel 4), until he “acknowledged that the Most High God is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and sets them over anyone He wishes.” (Daniel 5:21b)
That’s the thing. Belshazzar knew this, yet he chose to disregard all that he had seen in the past and all that he knew in the present.
Daniel acknowledged this by speaking honestly and saying, “But you, his son, O Belshazzar, have not humbled yourself, though you knew all this. Instead you have set yourself against the Lord of heaven . . . therefore He sent the hand that wrote the inscription.”
The handwriting on the wall . . .Belshazzar should have seen it long before the hand appeared. We should, too.
Has God been sending you some messages you been failing to respond to? He’s making it clear that we need to acknowledge Him, honor Him, humble ourselves before Him and live for Him. In His grace and great love, He continues to give us opportunity to turn to Him.
Why not today???
The handwriting’s on the wall. Our hope is in Him.