And this is the inscription that was written: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. This is the interpretation of each word. MENE: God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it; TEKEL: You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting; PERES: Your kingdom has been divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.” Then Belshazzar gave the command, and they clothed Daniel with purple and put a chain of gold around his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom. That very night Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans, was slain. (Daniel 5:25-30)
Read The Wall
The one certainty of life is the uncertainty of when death will come. No one knows the time of their death except Jesus who knew His hour. Like an unwelcome guest, death invades life at the most inopportune time. There are no signs to indicate the immediacy of the vale of death and no warning signs hinting at the demise of the body. Ironically this creates a false sense of security that life is endless with no thought of what is a certain reality for all men, regardless of where they find themselves in life. The poor man dies just as suddenly as a rich man. Powerful men will succumb to the sting of death as easily as the most insignificant citizen of the kingdom. The earth is filled with thousands of nationalities that share one common gene and that is the poison of death that flows through everyone. Long ago when the people of God were in bondage to the foreign power of Babylon, a Jew was called to the feasting hall of the king to answer a riddle. Belshazzar sat on the powerful throne of Babylon as his father and grandfather, Nebuchadnezzar, had done. He was wealthy as a king could be, the most powerful man in the kingdom and ruler over one of the most formidable nations that existed on earth. There was a reason to make merry and to enjoy all the privileges of wealth, fame, power and fleshly lusts. Calling for the treasures of Israel to be brought into the banquet hall, the king and his lord, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. They drank wine and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone. It was a grand affair with the king enjoying his power to the fullest. Nothing in his heart would cause him to believe this day would be his last. The same hour the fingers of a man’s hand appeared and wrote opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace. In terror, Belshazzar saw the part of the hand that wrote and the words inscribed upon the wall. He would give kingly honor to any man that would tell him the meaning of the words. Among the captives was a man named Daniel. The king called for the Hebrew to come and tell the meaning of the words. Daniel was brought in before the king.
Ignoring the promises of wealth and power promised by the king, Daniel told Belshazzar what the writing was and the meaning of the words. The fingers of the hand were sent from Almighty God who held the breath of all men in His hand. The inscription read, “Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin.” This was a three-part message from God to king Belshazzar. The first two words meant that God had numbered the days of the kingdom and it had come to an end. Tekel signified the king had been weighed in the balance and found wanting. Finally, the once great and powerful nation of Babylon had been divided and given to the Medes and the Persians. Lavishing Daniel with gifts of purple and gold, king Belshazzar honored Daniel as the third ruler in the kingdom. He need not have bothered. History will record that night Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans, was killed by Gadatas and Gobryas, generals of the Persian army under the command of Cyrus. The judgment against Belshazzar was swift, punitive and in fulfillment to the writing on the wall. When Cyrus brought his army against Babylon, they diverted the Euphrates River and walked into the city through the dry channels under the walls. The king and his army were caught unaware as they celebrated the feasts of the gods and the city was given up to revelry. Feasting in the banquet hall and using the articles from the Temple of Solomon as his defiling of the God of Israel, Belshazzar lost his life as the writing on the wall had determined. The word of the Lord had come true.
The wall of life is replete with messages from God for men to take heed and be warned of coming judgment. Unlike the plaster walls of Belshazzar, the word of God reminds men of the frailty of life through every generation as viewed from the revelation of the Lord. What Daniel told Belshazzar was not new as all men faced the uncertainty of when death would come. Jesus reminded the disciples that in the days of Noah, men were feasting, marrying, working, and going busy lives as if nothing would change and then the rain came and the flood increased and soon all breath on life was extinguished save eight souls. Two things are certain in the fabric of life: death will come without warning or the Lord will return with His holy angels. One of two things will happen and at present death is the major factor while all men wait for the coming of the Lord. Regardless, the end result is the same. The warning of God to Belshazzar is just as important today as it was so long ago. God has numbered life and the time of the earth and neither will last forever. Death is a real commodity for the human flesh that all the vitamins and exercise will not change. Denying the reality of death does not remove the certainty of death. Inherent in the souls of all men is to understand that life will end. When the Lord comes everyone on earth will come to an end as will the heavens and the earth. The real question about the certainty of death is whether a person is found wanting (like Belshazzar) or found pleasing before God. The answers are so diametrically opposed from one another. If a man is found wanting there is no joy and if a man is found pleasing there is eternal happiness. Reading the writing on the wall should remind all men of the place they find themselves before God. Finally, what will become of life today? Many a man who desired to repent at the midnight hour died at 11:30 unprepared. Belshazzar was killed that night. Knowing that life is short and upon this short life eternity depends, what are you doing about the writing on the wall?