What is the story of the writing on the wall?

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The writing on the wall

The story of the writing on the wall is found in the Bible book of Daniel chapter 5. It starts when King Belshazzar made a great feast for his lords. At the feast, he drank wine with his honored guests. Belshazzar commanded to bring the gold and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the Jerusalem temple that may use them for drinking wine. And as they drank, they praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone (v. 4). Thus, Belshazzar defiled the holy vessel’s of God’s temple.

God’s judgment

So, the Lord in judgement for defiling the sacred vessels, wrote in the form of man’s hand on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace His message of judgement against the king. When the king saw the handwriting, he was so afraid that the joints of his hips were loosened and his knees knocked against each other.

Then, the king fearfully gave an order to summon the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers to interpret the writing on the wall. And he promised, “Whoever reads this writing, and tells me its interpretation, shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around his neck; and he shall be the third ruler in the kingdom” (v. 7). But the king’s wise men could not read the writing, nor interpret it.  Therefore, the king was very troubled at this point and he was filled with fear along with his lords.

Daniel interprets the writing

When the queen heard of the matter, she came to the king and advised him saying, there is a man in your kingdom in whom is the Spirit of the Holy God. And she added that this man helped King Nebuchadnezzar to interpret dreams, solving riddles, and explaining enigmas when all the chief of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers failed. She added, that this man was able to do that because he had divine enlightenment. He was called Daniel. So, the king ordered that Daniel may be brought immediately before him.

When Daniel entered the king’s presence, the king promised him saying, if you can read the writing and make known to me its interpretation, you shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around your neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom (v. 16). But Daniel answered the king, let your gifts be for yourself yet I will read the writing and make known the interpretation.

Daniel said to the king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father a kingdom and majesty, glory and honor. And all the nations feared him. But when his mind was raised in pride he was removed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him. Then, he was driven from people, his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild animals till he knew that the Most High God rules in the kingdom of men, and appoints over it whomever He chooses (v. 18-21).

The prophet of God warned the king that he had not humbled his heart, although he knew all what happened to Nebuchadnezzar. Instead, he lifted himself up against the Lord of heaven. And he defiled His vessels and praised the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone, which do not see or hear or know. He rejected the God of heaven that holds his breath in His hand and didn’t acknowledge him in his life (v. 22-24).

The interpretation of the writing on the wall

Then, Daniel read the inscription that was written: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. And he interpreted thus:

MENE: God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it;

TEKEL: You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting. The king was found lacking in moral worth.

PERES: Your kingdom has been divided, and given to the Medes and Persians (v. 27-28).

Upon hearing the interpretation of the writing on the wall, Belshazzar fulfilled the promise he had made to Daniel and 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 (v. 29).  But that very night Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans, was killed by Darius the Mede (v. 30). And the Babylonian kingdom fell 539 B.C.

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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