And this is the writing that was inscribed: Mene, Mene, Tekel, and Parsin (Daniel 5:25).
Most of us find ourselves in situations where the name of God is mocked and the values that for so long have undergirded Western culture and behavior, promoted.
In Daniel 5 we read of a great feast hosted by Belshazzar who sat on Nebuchadnezzar’s throne. Yet on the night he was feasting, drinking from the vessels that had been brought from the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, Persia under the military leadership of Cyrus, was threatening Babylonia’s empire.
Indeed it was at the time of a significant Medo-Persian victory that Belshazzar was partying until a finger started writing on the wall: Mene, Mene, Tekel, and Parsin.
Mene, Tekel, and Parsin were small weights, in descending order, used in the marketplace. Here they are metaphors for God’s justice.
Daniel interpreted them, saying, ‘Belshazzar, mene means your days are numbered; tekel, ‘weighed’, means God has weighed your life, and found it short on goodness; parsin, means your kingdom is divided and given to others. Tonight God will remove both your kingdom and your life.’
Denying the prophecy, Belshazzar commanded that Daniel be honored. But no last minute compliment to God’s man was going to provide a reprieve. Humility and repentance towards God were far from Belshazzar’s heart. That night he was slain and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom.
What Belshazzar failed to learn while he had the opportunity, was that everyone is accountable to the God who made us all. It is only by God’s grace that we enjoy whatever good things, power or position we might have. Nebuchadnezzar had learned the lesson, but Belshazzar had not.
As well as this warning, there is also encouragement for us: God will always have the last word. The writing was on the wall, not just for Belshazzar, but for everyone who thinks they can trample on God’s name and his ways with impunity.
Today Christianity is lampooned by television comedians, dismissed by the gurus of radio and marginalized in the corridors of political power. Many of us feel isolated – in the office, in the professional world, in the classroom, and even in our family.
But no matter what happens, we can be confident. ‘Be assured’, Daniel 5 tells us, ‘the writing is on the wall. God will have the last word.’
In Acts 17:29-31 we read: “Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
Reflect. What does accountability to God – the Lord Most High – mean for you? Do you carry this truth into your prayers for others who mock your walk with the Lord Jesus Christ?
Remember Paul the Apostle’s words: For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness”, has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6).
Optional – you might like to read: Daniel 5; Acts 17:22-31.