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  • Gwen Diaz

195 - The Handwriting on the Wall

King Nebuchadnezzar ruled in Babylon for 43 years. After his death, there was a rapid succession of rulers due to assassinations, illness, and war. Ten years after Nebuchadnezzar’s death, his grandson Belshazzar took over the throne. One day, a hostile army from Persia surrounded the capital. Their presence did not intimidate Belshazzar. He decided to host a banquet in the palace to demonstrate how invincible his city was. He invited one thousand of his nobles. They drank wine together from gold and silver cups that had been taken from the Temple of God in Jerusalem (see #184 - July 3). But instead of using them to honor the God of Israel, they honored their own gods and became drunk. Suddenly the fingers of a man’s hand appeared and wrote on the plaster wall near a lampstand in the great hall. This terrified King Belshazzar! He turned pale. His knees shook. His legs became so weak that he couldn’t stand up. The hand finished writing, but no one could understand what the words meant. Belshazzar sent for his counselors and said, “If you can tell me what these words mean, I will make you wealthy, and you will become the third most powerful man in the whole kingdom!” But no one could interpret them. This frightened the king even more. The queen, hearing confused voices coming from the banquet hall, walked in to see what was happening. “Don’t be afraid,” she said. “There is a man who has great insight. He has the spirit of the gods in him. Your father made him the chief of all his wisemen. He can tell you what these words mean.” So, Belshazzar called for Daniel. Daniel insisted that he did not want any of the gifts or power the king was offering. But he would be willing to read what was on the wall and tell him what it meant. “Your Majesty,” he said after a few minutes, “the Most High God gave your grandfather Nebuchadnezzar sovereignty and greatness and glory and splendor. But God also humbled him when he became arrogant. You know all this, yet you are full of pride. You defy God. Right now, you are using the cups from His Temple to honor other gods. That is why He has written the words Mene, Mene, Tekel, Peres. Translated they are Numbered, Numbered, Weighed, and Divided. This means, ‘God has numbered the days of your reign and brought them to an end because you have been weighed on His scales and found lacking. Therefore, your kingdom will be divided and given to the Medes and Persians.’” Even though Daniel resisted, Belshazzar commanded his servants to dress him in fine clothes and expensive jewelry. He proclaimed that Daniel was now the third ranking authority in all of Babylon. That night, while Belshazzar was distracted with his banquet, the Medes and Persians broke into the city. Historians tell us that the invaders diverted the Euphrates River that normally flowed through the city, unlocked the huge bronze gates that guarded the river channel, and marched in on the dry riverbed. King Darius, a sub-ruler under the great Persian king Cyrus, led the invasion. Everything happened exactly as Isaiah and Jeremiah had prophesied 200 years before (see Isaiah 13-14 & Jeremiah 50-51).

If God counted up the days of your life right now, would He conclude that most of them have been worthwhile? If He weighed the contents of your heart, would He find anything of value? Don’t leave a “light-weight legacy” like King Belshazzar did!

195 - The Handwriting on the Wall
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