have you heard the expression “the writing on the wall”?
Usually we use it in the context that someone saw or ignored it, meaning that they had seen or ignored a warning, something unfortunate was about to happen if they didn’t listen to this warning and yet they continued doing what they were doing…
Did you know that this saying actually stems from a story in the bible?
Me, I didn’t.
Only today when I was reading the bible did I realize that this is where it came from.
I am talking about the book of Daniel chapter 5.
For many of you, the phrase “writing on the wall” will have rung a bell, but let me freshen up your memory or fill you in if you’ve not heard about it:
MENE MENE TEKEL UPHARSIN
that was the title of the writing upon king Belshazzar’s wall.
The phrase appeared on a wall in the palace of Belshazzar, the acting king of Babylon.
He is referred to as the “son of Nebuchadnezzar”, although he was not Nebuchadnezzar’s immediate successor. The biblical account of the mysterious and frightening appearance of the phrase mene mene tekel upharsin has given rise to the modern expression “the handwriting on the wall,” meaning “a portent or warning of inevitable misfortune.”
Daniel 5 tells the story of the Babylonian ruler Belshazzar, a rich and debauched king, who gave a banquet to his court. During the drunken party, the sacred vessels from the Jewish temple, stolen by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC, were used in a blasphemous manner. At the height of the festivities, a man’s hand was seen writing on the wall the mysterious words “mene mene tekel upharsin” (verse 25). The king was terrified. But no one could understand what the words meant. All attempts at interpretation by Belshazzar’s wise men failed until the prophet Daniel was called in.
Daniel was one of the captives from Judah brought to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel was given wisdom from God to read and translate the words, which meant “numbered, numbered, weighed, divided.” Daniel told the king, “Here is what these words mean: Mene: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end. Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting. Peres: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians” (Daniel 5:26–28). Peres is the singular form of upharsin. The Bible never identifies what language the words were in.
The handwriting on the wall proved true. In fact, it proved fatal for the dissolute Belshazzar. Just as Daniel had said, the kingdom of Babylon was divided between the Medes and Persians, and it happened that very night. Belshazzar was slain, and his kingdom passed to Darius the Mede (Daniel 5:30–31).
Belshazzar had not lived his life for GOD, nor had he feared HIM. This is why this came upon him according to the bible and to this story.
When you hear or recall this story, what is it telling you and how do you translate it into your life today?
To me, this can mean two things for us and in our lives:
- either it is a warning to us that something we are doing must stop immediately, because it is not of GOD’s will, that we are living our life missing what he wants for us, that we are not on our path, not obeying HIS calling for us
- Or it can also be a warning for our enemies that their days are numbered and that they are about to die – this will be spiritually most of the time, usually not in a literal sense, but it also can be…
Which of the two meanings apply to your current situation, you will know immediately and most likely, you have even known what the meaning is before I suggested the options…
This is how GOD speaks to us, this is why HE has created the bible, so that we can hear HIM, so that we can learn what HE wants us to learn.
For me, it is always fascinating and a mystery at the same time, how GOD directs me to the very story that I am supposed to read and hear that day.
This one came to me through a movie that I watched – I don’t watch secular movies any longer, just as I renounced and stopped listening to secular music a while ago, and I also don’t have a TV at home, because I find that the media are trying to manipulate our brains and wellbeing too much with their negative propaganda, spreading fear and also with the subliminal messages and attempts to control our minds being sent out through the media…
But I do sometimes like to watch a film for entertainment and when I do, I sometimes like to watch one of the many Christian, Nigerian movies – there are many of them and if you are interested, you can find them on youtube, just type in “mount zion movies” to give you an example.
They are all “clean” in language, all of them have a Christian message and most of them even contain sound biblical teachings which I really like.
This one today was about a family who had come from Nigeria to the USA and had missed the mission why GOD had sent them there – before they had left for the foreign land, their pastor had asked the head of the family to read the first 6 chapters of the book of Daniel – and when he said it to the father in the movie, I paused the movie and did the same…
I still continued watching the film and I enjoyed it very much.
But even more so did I enjoy how this phrase came to me – I had not seen it before:
MENE MENE TEKEL UPHARSIN
These words comfort and inspire me.
And they give me hope.
Because in this account, someone who was against GOD was punished and died.
It can be frightening or comforting to consider that GOD is a just GOD.
Regarding of how we live our lives, this will either threaten or soothe our soul.
The knowing that GOD is JUST.
Me, I am comforted by this reminder today.
Perhaps I am missing something in my life which is not pleasing to GOD and perhaps I am being self-righteous, but after a lot of soul searching, I found that I have diligently sought HIM, asked HIM about every decision I made in my life in the past few years (after I got born again to be precise) and that my intention and my deep, deep wish is to follow HIM and to serve the LIVING GOD.
Which means that if or when my life is in dire circumstances, that these are against GOD and about to die, just like the forces and / or people causing them.
This is a good assurance.
And I wanted to share this with you, my dear friends.
Because I know that some of you are in the same situation.
That they are being treated unfairly, that they are being oppressed, that they are being haunted, tormented, shunned, attacked…
I want you to know that GOD is going to bring you justice.
That GOD is a rewarder of those who diligently seek HIM and that HE will give you an expected end.
And those of you who will see and ignore the writing on the wall and have some changes to do in their lives, in their hearts, they better do them, otherwise they will regret it.
GOD will always win.
There is nothing anyone can do about it.
HE is GOD and above all things and all persons and all powers.
If we are on HIS side and in HIS team, increasing and serving HIS kingdom, this truth is GOOD NEWS, is soothing, comforting, reassuring… if we are not, it is the most frightening truth we could possibly hear.
So if you are not comforted by this, my friend, take the writing on the wall seriously and give your life to JESUS today if you have not done so!
Remember, Belshazzar died the same night, so there may not be a lot of time left, you better repent and do it now!
And if you are already HIS child and serving HIM, take this as an assurance that your suffering will be over any minute…
I hope and pray that this will bless and inspire you and that THE LORD will bless you abundantly in all areas of your life, that HE will keep you and shine HIS face upon you and bring you peace. In JESUS’ name I pray. AMEN.