Immediately the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace, opposite the lampstand. And the king saw the hand as it wrote. 6 Then the king’s color changed, and his thoughts alarmed him; his limbs gave way, and his knees knocked together. 7 The king called loudly to bring in the enchanters, the Chaldeans, and the astrologers. The king declared to the wise men of Babylon, “Whoever reads this writing, and shows me its interpretation, shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around his neck and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.” 8 Then all the king’s wise men came in, but they could not read the writing or make known to the king the interpretation. 9 Then King Belshazzar was greatly alarmed, and his color changed, and his lords were perplexed. – Daniel 4:5-9
It was a very difficult lesson. The assignment was due on Friday. It wasn’t turned in until the following Monday. You might think that would be OK; the teacher could let it slide. But it was not to be. The student would not be eligible for the National Honor Society – even though the grades were all sufficiently high.
The failure to get the assignment turned in was a threshold that was final and irrevocable. It took the wind out of the sails of academic excellence; scholarships were lost. Opportunities evaporated. Could it be that final?
Nebuchadnezzar is dead. His son rules in his place. In an overly-confident display of his wealth and enviable status, Belshazzar sets himself up for a fall. The assignment will not be turned in on time. The plans will not move forward.
Desperate the king seeks someone to interpret the handwriting on the wall. Bravado and hubris give way to panic and frantic measures. Who will give the interpretation? Who can tell us what this means?
When we say that the handwriting is on the wall, we are saying that the inevitable is about to happen. The pink slip is going to show up. The medical report is going to come back. The credit card statement is coming in the mail. The news is not going to be good.
Those who know the rescue and redemption stories of the Bible know that this is a set up for what God will do through Daniel. An even greater deliverance has been accomplished by Jesus, God’s Son. Just when we think there is no more hope, God would have us remember Jesus’ rescue, look to him, and wait for his deliverance.