Have you seen the movie Matilda? If so, do you recall the part when a message to Miss Trunchbull is written on the chalkboard with a piece of chalk, even though nobody is holding it? If not, feel free to check out this youtube link.
My daughter is sitting next to me as I write this and just asked me why I am previewing this scene. I told her that something very similar happened in the Bible and the words, “Wait. . . what?” just rolled off her tongue! It never gets old.
Read with me in Daniel chapter 5, verse 5:
“Immediately the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace, opposite the lamp stand. And the king saw the hand as it wrote.”
Wait. . what? A hand suddenly appeared and wrote a message on the wall with its fingers? Can you imagine this scene?
For those of you unfamiliar with this story, here is the quick background: Belshazzar was a crown prince of Babylon who comes upon the scene about 23 years after Nebuchadnezzar, his grandfather. If you missed my post about him and are interested, you can find it here.
Right before the hand appeared, Belshazzar was drinking wine with his nobles when he decided to have special cups brought in, gold and silver cups that his grandfather had stolen from the Temple in Jerusalem (a.k.a. God’s house). “And while they drank from them, they praised their idols made of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone” (Dan. 5:4, NLT).
Unbelievable. Clearly, the past horrors that Belshazzar’s grandfather experienced were not enough to keep him from falsely believing that he was supreme; that he could do anything, have anything, and demand anything. The cups he ordered be brought to the banquet hall for this drink fest were not only stolen but they were stolen from the house of the LORD. God ordered these cups to be made and used during ceremonies that showed reverence and honor to Him. And now, in this moment, they were being used to toast the idols Belshazzar and his fellow Babylonians worshipped. What an insult. What an arrogant move.
Belshazzar needed a reminder of who sits on the ultimate throne and who ultimately calls the shots.
And he got this reminder the second the hand appeared and began writing a message on the wall.
Overcome with fear, Belshazzar’s face went pale and he collapsed. He frantically called for his enchanters, astrologers, and fortune-tellers in hopes that one of them would be able to read the message and tell of its meaning. Whoever could do this was promised a promotion, becoming the “third highest ruler in the kingdom.” (Dan. 5:7). Unfortunately, none of his wise men could make any sense out of these words that had “magically” appeared on the wall. Just when all hope seemed lost, Belshazzar’s mother came racing into the banquet hall telling of a certain man, named Daniel, who was found to have “insight, understanding, and wisdom” during her father, Nebuchadnezzar’s, reign. In fact, Nebuchadnezzar, she informed him, made this Daniel-guy chief over all the wise men.
So, Daniel, one of God’s prophets, was summoned. He spoke boldly, telling the crown prince where he went wrong (Dan. 5:23-28):
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! So God has sent this hand to write this message (emphasis mine).
“This is the message that was written: Mene, mene, tekel, and Parsin. This is what these words mean:
Mene means ‘numbered’—God has numbered the days of your reign and has brought it to an end.
Tekel means ‘weighed’—you have been weighed on the balances and have not measured up.
Parsin means ‘divided’—your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”
That very night, Belshazzar was killed in a surprise attack by the future king of this kingdom, Darius. It should not be surprising that he was a Mede!
Here’s a few take-aways:
- What God says will be, will be.
- Who God appoints to rule over kingdoms (or countries) is who will rule.
- When God decides to act, it will be unmistakeable.
God has never written a message to me on a wall in our home. I think I might freak out if a hand appeared out of no where and started etching a message to me. So he takes a different approach.
He writes messages on my heart.
On your heart.
But the messages He writes on the walls of our hearts are gentle. They remind us of His love for us. They invite us to get back on track when we’ve started to stray. They speak truth, life, hope, and freedom.
All because of Jesus and His act of mercy on our behalf. He took the punishment for every one of our sinful choices that dishonors Him. His messages say over and over again: I forgive you. I love you. I desire a relationship with you.
And, as was true with Belshazzar, when He writes a message, one thing is for sure: we are left in awe of Him.
So, what message is He writing on your heart today? I encourage you to take some time to be quiet before Him so that you can hear it!