What did “the writing on the wall” mean? What does this Bible verse have to do with Christians today?
The expression “the scriptures on the wall” probably comes from the verse of Daniel 5: 5 which says “Immediately the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace, opposite the candlestick. And the king saw the hand as it wrote»But what motivated this mysterious writing? Who controlled the fingers? What was the message? To be sure of the text, we have to look at the context and the frame in which it was written.
Blasphemy of King Belshazzar
When King Belshazzar, son of King Nebuchadnezzar had a feast, they “brought the golden vessels which had been taken out of the temple, the house of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his lords, his wives and his concubines drank there. They drank wine and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood and stone “ (Dan 5: 3-4) but it was an abomination to God for a pagan and idolatrous nation to use the vessels which were set apart for holy use in temple duties. Even the king’s concubines drank it and God responded by sending the king a very bad message that would spell the end of King Belshazzar.
Writing on the wall
Right after King Belshazzar desecrated the temple vessels, something strange happened; “Immediately the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster wall of the king’s palace, opposite the candlestick. And the king saw the hand as it wrote(Dan 5: 5). When is “the king’s color changed, and his thoughts terrified him; his limbs gave way and his knees bumped“(Dan 5: 6) therefore after summoning the”the enchanters, the Chaldeans and the astrologersincluding all the wise men of Babylon, but they said theycould not read the scripture or let the king know the interpretation“(Dan 5: 8) to which”King Belshazzar was very alarmed, and his color changed, and his lords were perplexed(Dan 5: 9). After the queen remembered Daniel interpreting King Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams, she recommended that Daniel to the king and so “Daniel was brought before the king. The king answered and said to Daniel, “You are that Daniel, one of the exiles of Judah, whom the king my father brought from Judah. I have heard from you that the spirit of the gods is within you, and that light, understanding and excellent wisdom is within you(Dan 5: 13-14).
Since neither the king nor any of his wisest men could translate the scripture, it had to be in a language they did not know. Was it in Hebrew, which perhaps explains why Daniel knew exactly what was written? Some sentences are very similar to Aramaic words, especially in Daniel 5: 26-31, which Daniel probably also knew. Anyway, and it really doesn’t matter, “it is the writing which was inscribed: “Mene, Mene, Tekel and Parsin.” Here is the interpretation of the matter: Mene, God numbered the days of your kingdom and put an end to it; Tekel, you have been weighed in the scales and found insufficient; Peres, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and the Persians(Dan 5: 25-28). The writing was on the wall for King Belshazzar and Babylon. His time was up. He and his kingdom had been weighed down and found insufficient. He had reached a point with no place for grace.
If you have read the Bible or read many Christian articles that clearly proclaim the gospel (Acts 4:12; Rom 10: 9-13, etc.) and have closed your ears and covered your eyes to the truth, then you are move further and further away from God. He will resist you if you have too much pride, but He will extend His grace if you humble yourself (James 4: 6). Peter warns “it would have been better if they had never known the way of righteousness than after having known it to turn away from the holy commandment which had been given to them”(2nd Pet 2:21) meaning that each is held more responsible for the truth he hears and rejects than those who did not know as much about the mercy, grace and righteousness of God. Jesus says so; “that servant who knew his master’s will but did not prepare or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating but he who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating . From the one to whom we have given a lot, we will demand a lot from him, and from the one to whom they have entrusted a lot, they will demand the most(Luke 12: 47-48). Is the writing on the wall today? I’m sure it’s because the unsaved world has been weighed in and proven to be seriously failing.
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is the pastor of Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the senior editor of What Christians Want To Know, whose mission is to equip, encourage and energize Christians and answer questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.