We’ve heard the expression “the writing is on the wall,” which comes from the Old Testament account of a king who stood on God’s scales and came up short.
His name was Belshazzar, and he was the grandson of King Nebuchadnezzar. Belshazzar went out of his way to mock God, and he reaped the very heavy consequences of it. He saw the very hand of God writing on the wall of his palace with a very specific warning.
The Babylonians felt their city and nation were impregnable. No one could defeat them, they thought. After all, Babylon was surrounded by a complex series of walls, some as high as 300 feet. The mighty river Euphrates ran through the center of the city, so water was plentiful, and they had enough food stored up to feed their population for the next 20 years.
They weren’t really afraid of anyone. But the reality was that at that moment historically, the Medo-Persian forces under the command of Cyrus were right outside the walls of Babylon. And this was the moment when God effectively said to King Belshazzar, “Your number is up.”
By this time Nebuchadnezzar had died. Prior to his death he had a dramatic conversion after a long bout of insanity. He returned to his senses and put out a decree to the entire kingdom, telling everyone that he was a believer in the Lord God. Everyone knew the story of the mighty Nebuchadnezzar’s conversion.
Apparently, this message was not passed on to his son, whom he named Evil-Merodach. He was a wicked king and the father of Belshazzar, named after the god Bel. The Babylonians worshiped Bel, and there was a temple to this god in the city of Babylon.
So here was this young ruler, named after a false god, who went out of his way to insult God. He knew the story of his grandfather and how he had proclaimed his faith. But this king wanted to challenge God openly. And that never goes well.
Ancient kings loved to throw big feasts to show off, and of course Belshazzar was no exception. He went out of his way to take vessels that were used for the worship of God in Jerusalem, fill them with wine and drink from them.
Then the Bible tells us, “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” (Daniel 5:4–6 NLT).
Not only did God tell Belshazzar and Babylon that the kingdom would end with Belshazzar as its ruler, but God also told them who would lead the invasion. While Belshazzar was having his giant party in honor of his false god, judgment literally was at the door.
Gone was the smirk, the defiance of God. Suddenly this young man realized that his life was coming to an end. His banquet hall had been turned into a courtroom, and he was about to be declared guilty.
The writing was on the wall for Belshazzar, and I think the writing is on the wall for all of us right now. It’s in the news, on the internet and on social media. Everywhere we look, the writing is on the wall. We’re seeing Bible prophecies fulfilled before our very eyes.
One of the signs of the times is in our pockets or purses or hands. I’m talking about cellphones. The explosion of technology is significant, with artificial intelligence added to it today. We talk to these devices in our homes, and they give us an answer. If we buy anything online, targeted ads follow us around on various websites.
There is coming a day when a man will harness this technology for evil, and no one will be able to buy or sell without his mark. In the Bible that man is called the Beast and the Antichrist.
Last May the U.S. Embassy opened in Jerusalem, and violence broke out. What does this remind us of? The Bible tells us that Jerusalem will be the epicenter of end-time events. Why will Jerusalem, a little city on a little sliver of land, be at the very center of the world’s attention? The Bible is very specific in saying that it will be. And we’re seeing it happen.
China, an economic and military superpower, is flexing its muscles as never before. I think a pretty good case could be made for China being spoken of in the Bible. Certainly, I think the emergence of Iran as a nuclear nation, a nation intent on the destruction of Israel, is clearly spoken of in the Bible.
All around us are signs of the times.
Every nation has a life span. Ancient Babylon lasted around 86 years. The powerful Persian Empire did better at 208 years. The glory of Greece was eclipsed after 268 years. Mighty Rome ruled for nine centuries. The United States of America is 242 years old and counting. There is a beginning, a middle and an end of a nation, so we have to be very careful and prayerful about our own nation as we look toward our future.
The writing is on the wall, and here’s what the writing is saying: Jesus Christ is coming back.
“That very night,” the Bible says, “Belshazzar, the Babylonian king, was killed” (Daniel 5:30 NLT).
There will be a last night for every nation. There will be a last night for every person. There will be a last meal, a last statement, a last breath … and then eternity.