What would YOU do if you suddenly saw a hand--not connected to anything--suddenly writing on your wall (or maybe your computer screen)?
Well, I think I'd do a couple of things: 1) Freak out (just a bit); 2) Pray; 3) Read what was written, and 4) Try to determine WHO (or what) was doing the writing.
Well, in the book of Daniel, Ch. 5, that's exactly what happened.
The King--no longer Nebuchadnezzor (see previous posts about him, Daniel and Daniel's friends), but now Belshazzar is throwing a party. (Notes about him: He is either the son, or the grandson, of Nebuchadnezzor, who overthrew Judah and Israel (among other nations).
He apparently did not get the message and lessons that King Nebu had learned. (Note: His name, beginning with "Bel" shows his allegiance to the god 'Baal' in the O.T.--a notorious god who was worshipped by revelry, wanton violence, sacrifice of children, sexual promiscuity, and materialism.) He is throwing a party in the palace and he decides that he is going to reaffirm his domination over the Israelites AND THEIR GOD (again--note his allegiance to Baal). He does so by commanding that the wine goblets and other gold instruments--which had been made for, and dedicated to, the Temple of the Lord in Israel--be brought in and used in his drunken revelry.
This would show continued domination over the people of Israel, but also (very significantly) their God. "King Belshazzar gave a great feast for 1,000 of his nobles, and he drank wine with them. While Belshazzar was drinking the wine, he gave orders to bring in the gold and silver cups that his predecessor, Nebuchadnezzar, had taken from the Temple in Jerusalem. He wanted to drink from them with his nobles, his wives, and his concubines. So they brought these gold cups taken from the Temple, the house of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his nobles, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. While they drank from them they praised their idols made of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone." (Daniel 5:1-4)
As he proceeds to do this, he sees a hand suddently appear a write a message on the wall.
"Suddenly, they saw the fingers of a human hand writing on the plaster wall of the king’s palace, near the lampstand. The king himself saw the hand as it wrote, and his face turned pale with fright. His knees knocked together in fear and his legs gave way beneath him. The king shouted for the enchanters, astrologers, and fortune-tellers to be brought before him. He said to these wise men of Babylon, “Whoever can read this writing and tell me what it means will be dressed in purple robes of royal honor and will have a gold chain placed around his neck. He will become the third highest ruler in the kingdom!” But when all the king’s wise men had come in, none of them could read the writing or tell him what it meant. So the king grew even more alarmed, and his face turned pale. His nobles, too, were shaken." (Daniel 5:5-9)
He freaks a little, and tries to read the message, but can't. He calls in all his astrologers, magicians and prophets to come in and read it...but they couldn't. This just freaked him out all the more!
Suddenly the Queen remembers Daniel, and that 'the spirit of the gods' is in him, and they call for him. Belshazzar offers him prestige, prizes and honor--IF Daniel can interpret the meaning for him.
His response is great: “Keep your gifts or give them to someone else, but I will tell you what the writing means. Your Majesty, the Most High God gave sovereignty, majesty, glory, and honor to your predecessor, Nebuchadnezzar.... and Daniel goes on to recount the greatness of Nebuchadnezzar, and the lessons he learned about humbling himself before the God in Heaven. “You are his successor, O Belshazzar, and you knew all this, yet you have not humbled yourself. For you have proudly defied the Lord of heaven and have had these cups from his Temple brought before you. You and your nobles and your wives and concubines have been drinking wine from them while praising gods of silver, gold, bronze, iron, wood, and stone—gods that neither see nor hear nor know anything at all. But you have not honored the God who gives you the breath of life and controls your destiny! So God has sent this hand to write this message:" (Daniel 5:17-24)
He says, KEEP YOUR GIFTS! Daniel is not interested in any so-called 'reward' or 'honor' that this king has to give. He bluntly and accurately calls Balshazzar out, and tells him the message... “This is the message that was written: Mene, Mene, Tekel, and Parsin. This is what these words mean: Mene means ‘numbered’—God has numbered the days of your reign and has brought it to an end. Tekel means ‘weighed’—you have been weighed on the balances and have not measured up. Parsin means ‘divided’—your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” (Daniel 5:25-28) BOOM! Here it is, king: You're done! God--the TRUE God--will not play. You've stepped WAAAY over the line, and you're finished.
Balshazzar's response was repentance, worship and humility, right? Wrong...he continued with his previous plan to 'honor and reward' Daniel--as if Daniel cared at all what this guy could give to him! There was no evidence of reflection, repentance, nothing! ...so how did it go for king Belshazzar?
"That very night Belshazzar, the Babylonian king, was killed. And Darius the Mede took over the kingdom at the age of sixty-two." (Daniel 5:30-31)
What are the lessons for US? Humility, worship of the True God, willingness to reject the 'rewards' of this world in order to stand for the Truth...LOTS of lessons to learn!
Is "The Hand Writing On the Wall" today?
Is God calling us today to reflection on His past blessings, repentance, and worship of Him as the TRUE God?
I'll let you decide that...