Text: Daniel 5:1-31

The King gave a party and invited all of his “friends.” When we want to do something, we like to have those of like interests around, those who will approve or tolerate our behavior. At this party the forces of evil had a field day. There was much corruption and riotous living.

It was at the height of this party that Belshazzar called for the vessels of God that his grandfather Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple in Jerusalem. While they were drinking from these and praising pagan gods, something startling began to happen. Prior to this the king and his cronies were living it up. As the world says, “It doesn’t get any better than this.”

Then all of a sudden the king’s face grew pale and terror came into his heart. We might say he was “as white as a sheet – as if he had seen a ghost.” But we all know it was more than that. The Most High God was making Hs presence known. He did something that would make them stand up and take notice.

What did Belshazzar do? He did the same thing that Nebuchadnezzar did; he called on his wise men to tell him what was transporting. These counselors could not come up with the answer. It is foolishness to think that world can have the right answers. Then a familiar tune: Daniel is called in. He read the writing; it was a message of judgment. (Daniel 5:1-24). What did the “handwriting on the wall” mean?

  • Mene: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.
  • Tekel: You have been weighed in the scales and found wanting.
  • Peres: Your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and the Persians.

It happened just like God said it would. That very night Babylon fell. There are a number of lessons to be learned from reading this account.

  1. Sin is not static. What do I mean by this statement? The one who sins never stays on the plateau. The path of sin always leads downhill (James 1:13-15). In many cases we do not learn from experience who God is and that He is the Sovereign God in control of the universe. Belshazzar fell into that category. He knew or had heard how God had dealt with Nebuchadnezzar; he went farther and blasphemed God by desecrating the holy vessels. This pattern of sin is clear from Romans 1:21-24; 26, 28.
  2. Sin puts us to sleep in regards to sin. We think that we are living “all right lives” and that we are in control of our destinies. We don’t even think we are sinning.
  3. God is not static. There are times in history when sin abounds and God does not seem to intervene. We must not think that just because God has postponed judgment that He will forget; He will pour out His wrath against sin. We say that there are only 2 sure things in life: “death and taxes.” Well, you can avoid paying some taxes, but death is certain (Hebrews 9:27). This verse gives another certainty for mankind: judgment.
  4. The final destinies of mankind. We see a foretaste of the final days here. All sin will be judged. Each of us has to make a decision on whether to follow Christ or not. Those who have followed Him and are alive when He returns will be caught up to meet Him in the air as recorded in I. Thes. 4:16-18. But what about the unbeliever? Read Rev. 20:11-14. It will be a time when “every knee will bend and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.” But for the unbeliever it will be too late. People think they have plenty of time to be saved. Where will you spend eternity? The choice is yours. God tells us the destiny of the wicked so that we might turn from sin to salvation. God desires that all be saved, but we know that will not happen (2 Peter 3:9).

If it were not for the long suffering of God we might not have had the opportunity to become a Christian. Judgment is coming! To those outside of Christ the three word on the wall have meaning today.

  • Mene: God is going to number your deeds to show that you has failed to achieve His standards. At the Great White Throne, books are opened; all the evil you have do will be poured out on one side of God’s scales.
  • Tekel: All the lies, hypocrisies, all the self-seeking, all the evil will be weighed as you stand there the scales weigh down to condemnation.
  • Peres: The Greek word for judgment means divided. Thee is a path that leads to eternal life for those who have accepted Christ and have obeyed the Gospel But at this judgment, it is too late for that.

What will those who are lost say to God on that day? Perhaps they will tell God that they lives a good life. You must choose to live for Jesus and serve Him.

Christians must focus on sharing the Gospel message with the lost. We must help unbelievers find their way out of the kingdom of darkness into the marvelous light of the Gospel, this avoiding the destiny of the lost!

Larry Miles lives in Louisville, KY and worships  with the Cherry Street Church of Christ in New Albany, IN