December 27, Thursday

John MartinBelshazzar’s Feast, c. 1821; half-size sketch held by the Yale Center for British Art

Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin (i.e. numbered, numbered, weighed, and found wanting).

Daniel 5:25.

It was the year 539 B.C.. The Babylonian Empire was falling apart: the enemy had reached the gates of the capital. Would king Belashazzar seek help from the one true God, whose omnipotence his predecessor, king Nebuchadnezzar, had experienced so mightily? No! In the palace in Babel an extravagant feast was being celebrated by one thousand of the nobility of the kingdom who had been invited. Wine flowed freely, and they raised their goblets to honour their own self-appointed gods. They failed to honour almighty God; instead they challenged Him outrageously by drinking from the golden vessels taken from the temple in Jerusalem.

One cannot mock our great LORD God with impunity. A mysterious hand appeared and wrote “Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin” on the wall. This caused great terror among the company gathered there. Astrologers and soothsayers were summoned to interpret the words, but they failed in the task. Then they remembered Daniel, who, as they knew, served almighty God and had interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. Daniel’s interpretation once again spelt disaster: Beshazzar’s kingdom was at its end, the empire would disintegrate. Indeed, that very night Belshazzar was murdered.

For our own day the writing is also on the wall. What uncertainty reigns in view of all this world’s problems! Countless questions are being asked. The Bible answers: the hour of reckoning is at hand. Whoever heeds God’s warning given in love can yet escape the threatening disaster by turning to Him and accepting His offer of salvation.

Image: By John Martin – xgEUR8n25J7k0Q at Google Cultural Institute maximum zoom level, Public Domain,