Daniel 5:4-6,25 – As they drank the wine, they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone. Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote. His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his knees knocked together and his legs gave way. … This is the inscription that was written: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN. (NIV)
For most of my life, I have found the subject of languages a fascinating field of study. So, as a hobby, I try to learn a few new words in various languages. I also recently joined an online stenography class — a subject I enjoyed years ago in high school but have forgotten until now. Although shorthand is not a foreign language, I find it equally intriguing. And while it is practically archaic, it can still be quite useful for jotting down notes quickly during the course of a busy day.
If you are familiar with shorthand, then you might agree that it is much like writing a secret code. Hence, I am reminded of the event in today's Scripture when a hand suddenly appeared out of nowhere writing a mysterious message on the palace wall. I can picture this dramatic scene in the royal courts of Babylon: In the middle of the prince's regal banquet, while honouring his pagan gods and drinking from the sacred vessels that were taken from the Lord's holy temple, the hand of God caused all music, merriment, and feasting to cease abruptly.
Some scholars believe the original inscription was an ideogram similar to cuneiform, having a hidden message or encryption. At any rate, none of the palace diviners were able to interpret it. So, at the suggestion of the Queen Mother, the prophet Daniel was brought in, and he was able to decipher the meaning and give the interpretation:
Daniel 5:26-28 – This is what these words mean: Mene: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end. Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting. Peres: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians. (NIV)
Subsequently, Daniel's prophecy came true — that very night. Thus, the expression, "The handwriting is on the wall," is often associated with doom. But as believers, we need not fear the handwriting on the wall, since God has told us beforehand everything for our well being. Jesus Himself has given us His word:
John 16:33b – In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (NIV)
Though God's precious truth is hidden from the eyes of unbelievers, His Spirit is always available to guide those who put their faith in Him. Therefore, rather than doom, let us seek the knowledge of the living God, the key that unlocks the secret to a victorious life.
Prayer: Sovereign Lord, we thank You for the mystery of Your Word revealed in the gospel of Christ which may be understood by all who come to You with sincere hearts. May Your Spirit, who guides us in all truth, teach us Your holy ways and fill us with the blessed knowledge of Your perfect will. We look to You even in troublesome times, trusting our lives into Your loving hands, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.