The Handwriting on the Wall

Daniel 5  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 6
Great King Nebuchadnezzar had a son. His name was Belshazzar, and he became king of Babylon. He knew all about his father’s hard lessons from the God of heaven, but hearing the story did not change the young king’s heart. He could have learned from his father’s mistakes, but he did not learn until it was too late.
You have heard that you are a sinner and that God hates sin. Are you willing to learn from God before it is too late?
Belshazzar made a great feast for a thousand of his important men, and they were having a good time at the party. In their excitement they sent for the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple at Jeru-salem and used them for wine glasses. These were holy vessels used to worship the Lord, but they used them for a joke. As they drank from them, they praised whatever gods they chose - idols of gold, silver, brass, wood and stone.
It was nighttime, and the palace hall was lighted with candles set in holders on the wall. This is how the Bible tells what happened: “In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote.”
Belshazzar suddenly quit laughing and his knees knocked together with fear. “Bring the astrologers!” he cried.
At last he was ready to listen, but not to the Word of God. He hoped his fortune-tellers could explain the words written on the palace wall, so he cried out for help - but from the wrong source.
If there are times when you are afraid because of your sins, don’t go to the wrong source. Cry out to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of sinners. He knows if your cry is because you are very sorry about your sins, and He is able to save you, because “Christ Je-sus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:1515This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. (1 Timothy 1:15)).
The astrologers came, but not one of them could read the words or explain what they meant. However, the queen remembered something. She remembered that when King Nebuchadnezzar had troubled dreams, Daniel, who had wisdom from God, had explained the meanings.
The queen was not there at the party, but she came when she heard what had happened. She told the king, “Let not thy thoughts trouble thee.  .  .  .  There is a man in thy kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods.  .  .  .  Now let Daniel be called, and he will show the [meaning].”
The great question today is, “What must I do to be saved?” Some of us know the answer to that question, and that is why we are telling you this story right now.
The king then sent for Daniel, as the queen suggested. The king promised him a rich reward if he would explain the writing on the palace wall. But how can you reward someone who is already rich? Daniel had God-given riches; he didn’t want earthly riches. Daniel answered the king, “Let thy gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another.” Then, with wisdom from God, he explained the strange words on the wall.
First he reviewed the story of how humbling it was for Belshazzar’s father, King Nebuchadnezzar, until he finally learned that “the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men.” But this young king had defied and mocked the God of heaven and worshipped idols!
Then Daniel explained the meaning of the strange words on the wall—“MENE, MENE, TE-KEL, UPHARSIN”:
“MENE; God has numbered thy kingdom and finished it.
TEKEL; thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.
PERES; thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.”
Each of these words was a signal of death. But even then, the king did not believe it, for he then proclaimed Daniel to be the third ruler in the kingdom.
What kingdom? Daniel had just explained the meaning of the words, that not only was Belshazzar’s life finished, but so was his kingdom!
And during that very night, Belshazzar was killed by the enemy nation who was already waiting outside the city gates. And they took over the kingdom, just as God had said.
Do you think God does not care what you do or what you say? He is very much in control in the big world and in your own life. He allows sinners to go just so far. He is giving you the opportunity right now to repent of your sins and be safe in His everlasting arms, because His Son, Christ Jesus, came into the world to save sinners. Will you listen and learn and trust Him right now?