Just think, even the most mighty king is nothing compared to God. King Nebuchadnezzar finally learned that. He finally learned that God has power over all things, and that whatever power King Nebuchadnezzar had, it wasn’t his own doing. God gave it to him.
Too bad his son didn’t learn anything from his dad.
King Nebuchadnezzar died, and his son Belshazzar became king. He thought he was pretty hot stuff. Well, he was. He had just inherited the richest, the mightiest, the most glorious kingdom in the whole world. And he was in charge. He could do whatever he pleased. He could have whatever he wanted.
And so King Belshazzar decided to have a great feast to celebrate just how wonderful he was. He invited a thousand of all the most important people in Babylon.
It must have been a wild party. King Belshazzar began drinking wine. He drank too much wine, and he lost all his sense.
He brought out the sacred pitchers and cups of gold and silver that his father had taken from God’s temple in Jerusalem. He and his guests drank wine from them with no thought at all that these were God’s holy vessels.
The king and his guests were laughing too loudly, singing too badly, and falling all over themselves. They bowed to statues of gold and silver, bronze and iron and wood, and thanked them for making them so great and wonderful.
Right then, in the middle of King Belshazzar’s wild party, a human hand appeared out of nowhere. It wasn’t attached to a body. And it began to write on the wall of the royal banquet hall.
The whole hall went quiet.
The only sound was the sound of a finger scratching giant letters into the plaster wall.
King Belshazzar was terrified.
His face turned white. And he began to shake all over, so that even his knees were knocking together.
He cried out, “BRING ME MY MAGICIANS, SORCERERS, AND WISEMEN!”
The party was over.
All the guests went home, and King Belshazzar was left alone in his banquet hall, with the writing on the wall.
The magicians, sorcerers, and wisemen came before the king, and the king said, “Tell me what this writing means! Whoever can tell me what it means, I will put a gold chain around his neck, a purple robe on his back, and I will make him the third most powerful man in all of Babylon.”
Well, of course the magicians, sorcerers, and wisemen didn’t know what the writing on the wall meant. Only God knew.
Now, the queen heard all of this, and she came to the king and said, “O King! May you live forever! Don’t be afraid. Remember back in the days of Nebuchadnezzar your father. There was a man who had great wisdom and understanding, the power to answer riddles and to solve puzzles - and he could tell the meaning of dreams. His name is Daniel.”
“Bring me this Daniel!” commanded the king.
And so, once again, Daniel came before the king of Babylon.
“So you are Daniel,” said the king. “I have heard that you have great wisdom and understanding, that you can answer riddles and solve puzzles - and that you can tell the meaning of dreams.
“I have called my magicians, sorcerers, and wisemen to tell me the meaning of this writing on the wall, but they can’t do it. I will put a gold chain around your neck, a purple robe on your back, and I will make you the third most powerful man in all of Babylon, if you can tell me the meaning of the writing on the wall”
Daniel said, “You can keep your gold chain and your purple robe. But so that you will know that there is a God in heaven, and that he has power over all things, I will tell you what the writing on the wall means.
“O king, the Most High God made your father Nebuchadnezzar a great and mighty king. All the people in the world feared him because his power was so great. He could do whatever he pleased, and take whatever he wanted.
“But your father became proud. He started to think, ‘How great and wonderful I am!’ And so the Most High God took away your father’s power, and he made him live like an animal. After seven years, your father finally understood that God is King over all things, and he can give power to whomever he wants.
“But you, King Belshazzar, have not learned from your father.
“You think you are so great. You think no one can tell you what you can do and what you can’t do. And so you insulted God by using his sacred vessels for your drunken party. You bowed before statues of gold and silver, bronze and iron and wood. These statues cannot see, they cannot hear. They can do nothing for you at all. But you couldn’t even take a breath without God, and you do not praise or honor him.
“So the Almighty God has sent you this message...
MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN.
“And this is what it means. MENE means that God has counted out the number of days you will be king, and they are over. TEKEL means that God has tested you, and you have not passed the test. And PARSIN means your kingdom will be divided, and given to the Medes and the Persians.”
Well, at least King Belshazzar was true to his word. He put a chain of gold around Daniel’s neck, and a purple robe on his back, and made him the third most powerful man in all of Babylon.
And that very night, King Belshazzar died.
His great and glorious kingdom and all his riches were given to Darius the Mede.
(Just a note. You might hear someone say, “The writing is on the wall.” What they mean is that it looks like whatever is happening is about to come to an end, and there is nothing anyone can do to stop it.)