Handwriting on Your Wall

In the same hour the fingers of a man’s hand appeared and wrote opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace; and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. Then the king’s countenance changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his hips were loosened and his knees knocked against each other. The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. The king spoke, saying to the wise men of Babylon. ‘Whoever reads this writing, and tells me its interpretation, shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around his neck; and he shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.’ Now all the king’s wise men came, but they could not read the writing, or make known to the king in interpretation. Then King Belshazzar was greatly troubled, his countenance was changed, and his lords were astonished.”—Daniel 5:5-9 (NKJV)

Roughly 20 years have passed and Belshazzar, a relative of Nebuchadnezzar, is king of Babylon. Belshazzar, like his forefather, walked in great pride and indulged in a self-centered, wanton lifestyle. His only interests were power and personal pleasure with no desire for spiritual matters. Strangely, this king knew and chose not to learn from his predecessor or Daniel’s godly influence years earlier.

Sir John Dalberg is best known for the remark, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men." George Santayana said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

This holds true in this story. God had spoken to Nebuchadnezzar in two different dreams. For Belshazzar, God spoke by handwriting on the wall.

Job 33:14-17 (NKJV) says, “For God may speak in one way, or in another, yet man does not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls upon men . . . then He opens the ears of men, and seals their instruction. In order to turn man from his deed, and conceal pride from man.”

There are two other significant moments in Scripture where God writes with His finger in front of man: 1) When He gives Moses the 10 Commandments (Exodus 31:18), and 2) when Jesus wrote in the sand when the woman was caught in adultery (John 8:6).

Recently, I officiated a difficult memorial for a 54-year-old man who took his life. Family members acknowledged he knew the Lord, but that he felt life was too hard and painful to keep going. His life got out of balance because he did not listen to the Lord, and the lie of poor self-worth and pride took over. If this man truly knew the Lord and humbled himself, he would have known the Lord was there to help.

We all must answer to the Lord today—especially on our last day. God has clearly spoken to us in many ways to instruct us to do what is right. After we live our life on the earth, when we stand before Him we should long to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21 NKJV)! Every one of us should make it our goal to honor the Lord every day.

DIG: If the Lord were to write on your wall, the wall of your heart, what might He write?

DISCOVER: The Scriptures were written for our instruction. Read 1 Corinthians 10:11 and Romans 15:4. When you read the Word, a good question to ask yourself is, “How does this speak to me?”

DO: Your life is a visible testimony to others. Ask someone, “What’s it like on the other side of me? Tell me, what do you see?”

About the Author

Jeff Seward