Daniel 5: Do You See the Writing on the Wall? Understand it’s From God!

Twenty-three years have passed, Nebuchadnezzar’s long gone and his grandson, Belshazzar is king and has the same problem of pride. However, Belshazzar, conveniently forgets Nebuchadnezzar’s humbling story. He’s partying, and sinning, like there’s no tomorrow. Little does he know that there will be no tomorrow for him for the handwriting was on the wall. Let’s dig in…

Daniel 5 – The Writing on the Wall

Many years later King Belshazzar gave a great feast for 1,000 of his nobles, and he drank wine with them. While Belshazzar was drinking the wine, he gave orders to bring in the gold and silver cups that his predecessor, Nebuchadnezzar, had taken from the Temple in Jerusalem. He wanted to drink from them with his nobles, his wives, and his concubines. So they brought these gold cups taken from the Temple, the house of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his nobles, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. While they drank from them they praised their idols made of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone.

Suddenly, they saw the fingers of a human hand writing on the plaster wall of the king’s palace, near the lampstand. The king himself saw the hand as it wrote, and his face turned pale with fright. His knees knocked together in fear and his legs gave way beneath him.

The king shouted for the enchanters, astrologers, and fortune-tellers to be brought before him. He said to these wise men of Babylon, “Whoever can read this writing and tell me what it means will be dressed in purple robes of royal honor and will have a gold chain placed around his neck. He will become the third highest ruler in the kingdom!”

But when all the king’s wise men had come in, none of them could read the writing or tell him what it meant. So the king grew even more alarmed, and his face turned pale. His nobles, too, were shaken.

10 But when the queen mother heard what was happening, she hurried to the banquet hall. She said to Belshazzar, “Long live the king! Don’t be so pale and frightened. 11 There is a man in your kingdom who has within him the spirit of the holy gods. During Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, this man was found to have insight, understanding, and wisdom like that of the gods. Your predecessor, the king—your predecessor King Nebuchadnezzar—made him chief over all the magicians, enchanters, astrologers, and fortune-tellers of Babylon. 12 This man Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar, has exceptional ability and is filled with divine knowledge and understanding. He can interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve difficult problems. Call for Daniel, and he will tell you what the writing means.”

Daniel Explains the Writing

13 So Daniel was brought in before the king. The king asked him, “Are you Daniel, one of the exiles brought from Judah by my predecessor, King Nebuchadnezzar? 14 I have heard that you have the spirit of the gods within you and that you are filled with insight, understanding, and wisdom. 15 My wise men and enchanters have tried to read the words on the wall and tell me their meaning, but they cannot do it. 16 I am told that you can give interpretations and solve difficult problems. If you can read these words and tell me their meaning, you will be clothed in purple robes of royal honor, and you will have a gold chain placed around your neck. You will become the third highest ruler in the kingdom.”

17 Daniel answered the king, “Keep your gifts or give them to someone else, but I will tell you what the writing means. 18 Your Majesty, the Most High God gave sovereignty, majesty, glory, and honor to your predecessor, Nebuchadnezzar. 19 He made him so great that people of all races and nations and languages trembled before him in fear. He killed those he wanted to kill and spared those he wanted to spare. He honored those he wanted to honor and disgraced those he wanted to disgrace. 20 But when his heart and mind were puffed up with arrogance, he was brought down from his royal throne and stripped of his glory. 21 He was driven from human society. He was given the mind of a wild animal, and he lived among the wild donkeys. He ate grass like a cow, and he was drenched with the dew of heaven, until he learned that the Most High God rules over the kingdoms of the world and appoints anyone he desires to rule over them.

22 “You are his successor, O Belshazzar, and you knew all this, yet you have not humbled yourself. 23 For you have proudly defied the Lord of heaven and have had these cups from his Temple brought before you. You and your nobles and your wives and concubines have been drinking wine from them while praising gods of silver, gold, bronze, iron, wood, and stone—gods that neither see nor hear nor know anything at all. But you have not honored the God who gives you the breath of life and controls your destiny! 24 So God has sent this hand to write this message.

25 “This is the message that was written: Mene, mene, tekel, and Parsin. 26 This is what these words mean:

Mene means ‘numbered’—God has numbered the days of your reign and has brought it to an end.
27 Tekel means ‘weighed’—you have been weighed on the balances and have not measured up.
28 Parsin means ‘divided’—your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”

29 Then at Belshazzar’s command, Daniel was dressed in purple robes, a gold chain was hung around his neck, and he was proclaimed the third highest ruler in the kingdom.

30 That very night Belshazzar, the Babylonian king, was killed.

31 And Darius the Mede took over the kingdom at the age of sixty-two.

Daniel 5 NLT

Some Historical Context

It’s 539 BC, just about 67 years have passed since the start of the Babylonian exile. Because of prophecy, Daniel knew that the Babylonian exile of the Jews was almost over. He also knew that the Medes and Persians had surrounded the city. See, Babylon was a great walled city. The River Euphrates flowed under the walls and through the city. The Medes and Persians damned up the river and walked right in on a dry riverbed all while Belshazzar was partying. Belshazzar felt smug and secure thinking his city was impenetrable. There was no battle, no war.

Immorality and Blasphemy

Pastor Sandy Adams comments…

Sacking of Jerusalem, image by Sweet Publishing from FreeBibleImages.org, (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Sacking of Jerusalem, image by Sweet Publishing from FreeBibleImages.org, (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The king’s immorality was bad enough, but what tips the scales in God’s eyes is when Belshazzar brings out the vessels from the Jewish Temple. When his grandpa, Nebuchadnezzar, conquered Jerusalem, he took the holy vessels from the Temple to Babylon as trophies of his victory. These were the sacred saucers, and the dedicated dishes, and the consecrated cups. God’s law commanded that the utensils used in the Temple service were to be used for no other purpose than the service of Yahweh. Belshazzar knew that, but in his arrogance and defiance he deliberately defiles these holy vessels.

Sandy Adams

Belshazzar even had forgotten about Daniel. Like his grandfather, he first called on the “enchanters, astrologers, and fortune-tellers”. In what language was the writing? Hebrew? Then, of course, they couldn’t read it. But we don’t know why they, the “wise men”, were unable to decipher the message.

Enter the queen mother, who reminds Belshazzar of Daniel. Daniel, now an old man, tells Belshazzar that he doesn’t want the gifts, but he’ll tell him what it says. Notice this time Daniel didn’t pray. That’s why I think the writing was in Hebrew.

His Days Were Numbered

Bad news, Bel, your days are numbered – Mene. Your mighty empire is about to be overrun by Persians. You had the gall to blaspheme and disrespect God by desecrating the holy vessels from His temple. You’ve been weighed and haven’t measured up — Tekel. Your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians — Parsin.

The tragedy here is that the Babylonian culture crumbled from within. Like the Roman Empire later on, which we covered in Nebuchadnezzar’s first dream, we in America better see the writing on the wall.

In Rebellion with God

Like Babylon and Rome, America has turned its back on God. Immorality, idolatry, pride, apathy, and plain stupidity, is causing our great country to implode — that is, corrode from within. We don’t need Russia or China to attack us. We’re doing a great job of killing ourselves all on our own. Dr. David Reagan of Lamb and Lion Ministries and Christ in Prophecy, explains in this video…


Lost Empires Collapse

Lost empires have four things in common…

  • They lost all sense of history. If we don’t learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it! History teaches us valuable lessons. If we ignore it or make believe that it didn’t happen, we set ourselves up to fail.
  • Too big to fail. They lost all sense of reality. No one is too big to fail! Money, power, clout, position — nothing will stop God’s judgment on each and everyone of us.
  • Morally degenerate, sinful behavior only leads you to hell. Losing all sense of restraint leads to…
  • Losing all sense of respect. Nothing is sacred — not even life. Apathy abounds. No one cares about anything or anyone but themselves.

Related: How to Stop Idea Viruses that Satan wants to Feed into Our Minds

The Writing on the Wall

Each one of our days is numbered and God only knows what that number is. Everyone of us will be weighed against the perfect balances of God’s Glory and none of us, by ourselves, will ever measure up. No matter how much good we do in the world. Our earthly kingdom will end at some point. So, you’re either secure as one of the chosen in the Kingdom of God or you’re not. If not, then you’re looking at spending eternity in hell.

Are YOU Lost or are you Walking with Jesus?

Is Jesus Lord of EVERY part of your life? If not, then it’s time you got right with God and surrendered your life to Christ. It’s really rather simple…

Believe. Repent. Be Baptized. Receive the Holy Spirit.

  • Believe — have Faith — that Jesus is the Christ and He died taking your sins away forever and that He rose from the dead 3 days later.
  • Repent of your sins — stop sinning! Do a complete 180 degree turn in your life and surrender your life to Him.
  • Be Baptized by water baptism — show the world and yourself that you have died to your old life and are born again in Christ.
  • Receive the Holy Spirit in your heart.

Invite Jesus into Your Heart and Receive the Gift of Grace and the Confident Hope of Eternal Life…


Soli Deo Gloria! To God Alone Be the Glory!

Top image by Sweet Publishing from FreeBibleImages.org, (CC BY-SA 3.0)