On the night that the great city of Babylon fell to the Medes and Persians, the king of Babylon was enjoying a feast with a thousand of his family, his lords and his associates. He was probably thinking – foolishly thinking – that his city was safe and well-stocked. He didn’t need a 50,000 man army to defend Babylon, because there was a massive wall encircling everything, along with gates of brass and a moat. Besides that, his grandfather had proven that the gods of Babylonians were greater than the gods of all the nations around him. Yes, there had been a temporary set-back in regards to that Persian king, Cyrus, but his astrologers, soothsayers and other religious leaders were convinced that he had nothing to fear. So he was quite proudly afraid of nothing. The armies outside his impregnable walls, would eventually give up and move away long before the vast provisions inside the city walls could be expended.

It was not just the gods of the Persians that Belshazzar detested – there was that Jehovah, God of Israel. Long before Chaldea had become an empire, God had prophesied the rise of Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon. And sure enough, eventually Belshazzar’s grandfather defeated the Assyrians, the Egyptians and even the self-imploding nation of Israel. Nebuchadnezzar had proven that the gods of the Babylonians were a thousand times greater than the God or gods of the Jews. Yes, Jehovah had declared that the Chaldean/Babylonian Empire would last for only 70 years, but that God had been defeated by the gods of Babylon when Jerusalem fell. Belshazzar had nothing to fear from the Medes and the Persians – or from Jehovah, the God of Israel.

So as that 70th anniversary came up on the calendar, and king and his people were celebrating some pagan or secular holiday anyway, it was decided to bring out the holy vessels taken from the temple in Jerusalem. “Belshazzar, whiles he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink therein.” Perhaps among the plates, bowls, goblets and other utensils, were some that had been made by Bezaleel and Aholiab under the direction of Moses nearly a thousand years earlier. But as far as Belshazzar was concerned, these vessels of silver and gold were no longer holy and important, because the gods of Babylon had defeated the God of Moses and Israel. They were nothing but fancy tableware now. “Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God which was at Jerusalem; and the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, drank in them. They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone.” O what fools we sinners are.

“In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote.” For thousands of years, foolish men have been saying that God is dead. Some of them have been historians, who from their skewed perspective, couldn’t see the hand of God. They saw the fall of Jerusalem, and thought that the Omnipotent One had lost His power or control. Some of them have been scientists, who out of wishful-thinking as much as anything else, were trying to explain life from a completely secular position. And some of them, like Belshazzar, were convinced that their gods had destroyed the God of Israel. Allah, is superior to Jehovah. Buddhism is a more practical religion than Christianity, as Tiger Woods tries to tell us. Atheistic humanism is the only worthwhile philosophy in a scientific world.

But the God of the Bible is not dead, asleep, emotionally distraught, or physically incapacitated. He is omnipresent and can appear in any of a thousand different ways anytime or anywhere He chooses. And on the night that the city of Babylon fell to the Persian army, the Lord flexed His muscles. Or perhaps I should say that he flicked his finger and scratched upon the wall of Belshazzar’s palace.

Three words were inscribed upon the wall that night. In some way they were unknown to the hundreds of people who saw them. They were unknown and unintelligible, and perhaps this made them everything even more terrifying. “Mene, mene, tekel, uprhasin.” Just as Belshazzar didn’t know these words or their meanings, no one knows today, with assurance, how they are supposed to be pronounced. Don’t be upset about the fact that different Bible’s use different diacritical markings for them. And don’t be confused because I pronounce them differently from your favorite preacher.

What is important to us, is not their pronunciation, but their meaning. And the Lord graciously sent Daniel to give us their meaning and interpretation. Even though their original intent was for Belshazzar and his colleagues, the application of their principles are universal and eternal.

“This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it.” This special revelation from the Lord, begins with the Lord Himself. I am surprised that Daniel didn’t refer to God by one of His other names or titles. He used the Aramaic word “elahh” (el-aw’) – which I suppose is an early form of “allah.” Daniel didn’t call God, “Elohim” or “Jehovah.” I’m sure that there was a logical reason for it, even though we can only guess. And my guess is that Belshazzar would not have understood those other Name of God. Early in my ministry I rarely used “Jehovah.” in my preaching, because many of the heathen in that society, associated that Name with the Russelites – the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Finally I decided that the abuse of the heretic bestowed upon it, shouldn’t keep the child of God away from the true name of the Lord.

The first thing that Daniel wanted this idolater to realize was that the one true and living God – really is God. As I have said a couple times in recent weeks, any God who is not in sovereign control over all things cannot possibly be God. A God who is surprised when Jesus is crucified, and His offer of the Messiah to Israel is rejected – could not possibly have ever been God. A God who is surprised and disappointed because someone has turned away from a presentation of the gospel is not truly God. Elohim or Jehovah is the sovereign God – in absolute control of all things. Spit on His Name, and drunken yourself from His holy vessels if you like, but Jehovah is still God. Deny Him, defy Him, ignore Him, blaspheme or willfully sin against Him if you choose, but you will never remove Him from His throne. Whether or not you are ever saved from your sins, has nothing to do with whether or not the Lord is God.

The God who governs all things has determined a number and has applied it to every kingdom and to every soul. The numbering to which Daniel refers, is the numbering which Jeremiah recorded in his chapter 25. “The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, that was the first year of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon. Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Because ye have not heard my words, Behold, I will send and take all the families of the north, saith the LORD, and Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will bring them against this land, and against the inhabitants thereof, and against all these nations round about, and will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, and an hissing, and perpetual desolations. Moreover I will take from them the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones, and the light of the candle. And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the LORD, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations.”

There is another prophecy of Jeremiah, found in chapter 27, which highlights the Lord’s sovereignty over Israel, Judah, Babylon and every other nation in that region. “In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah came this word unto Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, Thus saith the LORD to me; Make thee bonds and yokes, and put them upon thy neck, And send them to the king of Edom, and to the king of Moab, and to the king of the Ammonites, and to the king of Tyrus, and to the king of Zidon, by the hand of the messengers which come to Jerusalem unto Zedekiah king of Judah; And command them to say unto their masters, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Thus shall ye say unto your masters; I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground, by my great power and by my outstretched arm, and have given it unto whom it seemed meet unto me. And now have I given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant; and the beasts of the field have I given him also to serve him. And all nations shall serve him, and his son, and his son’s son, until the very time of his land come: and then many nations and great kings shall serve themselves of him.” Notice that Jeremiah prophesied that Edom, Moab, Judah and the others would serve “him, and his son, and his son’s son, until the very time of his land come.” That is – these nations would be conquered by Nebuchadnezzar, and he would be succeeded by his son and then his grandson – Evil-Merodach, and then Belshazzar. Babylon would be a powerful Empire “until the very time of his land come.” There was a specific number of years – dictated by God – before the destruction of Babylon. That number was precisely seventy.”

The God who numbered Babylon has also numbered every nation, every kingdom and every life. Appointments have been made by the sovereign God, and those appointments will all be kept. I suppose that they have all been written in the annals of Heaven; Some of them have been written on the plaster of men’s palaces. But there is a sense in which they have all been written in stone. “God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it.” Belshazzar your time is up.

And some day, your time on earth will be up – and my time here will be done as well. There is nothing that any of us can do to change that number or that appointment. There is no doctor or surgeon, car air bag, traffic sign, vitamin pill or medicine that can change that number As they used to say, “when your time is up,” your life on earth will be over – it will be finished. Each and every one of us had better be prepared for that moment. Because after that moment, we shall all have to stand before this sovereign God.

“Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.” There are a great many ways to weigh something – or someone. At my house there is a scale which is governed by a spring. It seems to me that scale could be affected by hundred different things, making the reading inaccurate. It might be affected by heat or humidity; it could get dirt into it somehow and change the reading. I hardly ever use this scale. But I do weigh on any of eight different digital scales. I don’t know why, but the readings on those scales can vary between 3 and 4 pounds. I consider these scales only as suggestions of my true weight. I also weigh on a scale with balance and two sliding weights – one heavy and the other much lighter. If I had to guess, I’d say that this last scale is the most accurate, although it’s probably far from perfect.

When the Lord said that Belshazzar had been weighed in the balances, the Lord was talking about His scale. The Lord’s scale isn’t just approximate – it is as perfect as the Lord Himself. As the king listened to Daniel that day, he probably visualized some old-fashioned balance-type scale. That was the word which Daniel used. Belshazzar visualized a suspended object with an horizontal beam, suspending 2 cups from either end. It might have been something as precise as what an apothecary might use, or more likely a gold-smith. Into one cup would go a predetermined weight, and into the other cup some pieces of gold or silver. If there was supposed to be one talent of silver, then the silver-smith would use a talent weight on one side, and keep adding flakes of silver into the other cup, until the scale on the balance was perfectly level.

The declaration here is that the Lord has a standard, and the king had fallen short of that standard. In one cup there was a specific quantity of the righteousness of God, and into the other cup stood the king. Down went the Lord’s benchmark, and up went Belshazzar as if he was totally weightless. He didn’t even come close to the weight that the Lord was looking for. And the truth is that there has never been anyone who has ever perfectly matched the Lord’s standard. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes.” As the apostle Paul went on there in Romans 3 – he crossed the path that Daniel was walking as he addressed Belshazzar. “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” Belshazzar was guilty before God – weighed in the Lord’s balances and come up short.

“As it is appointed unto men once to die – after this the judgment.” Babylon’s 70 years were expiring that evening. And Belshazzar’s 40 or 50 years were going to expire at the same time. Then he, as every other human being on earth will do, he will stand before the God whom he denied and blasphemed, to be weighed in the Lord’s perfect scale. Belshazzar was found short-weight – his righteousness didn’t match the righteousness of God. In a few hours after this chapter that man awoke in the torments of hell.

“Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.”

I am not an expert in the Aramaic language, and perhaps you aren’t either. You may be wondering why Daniel said that “upharsin” was written on the wall, but “peres” is used for his explanation. A look at copies of the original Book of Daniel, show that both words are the same in Aramaic. “Upharsin” and “peres” are synonyms of for the word which was written by God on the plastered wall.

The point is this: There have been many billions of people who have lived and died since the days of Adam and Eve. Those two first human beings had no idea what they were starting when their first son was born. And they had no idea what they were starting when they sinned against the Lord. Most of those billions of people were important to someone at some time during their lives. They were special to their mothers, some were special to their spouse; some were special to their children. But then came their appointment-day when they reached their individual, specific number. And even though there was a time of grief and mourning for them, life eventually moved on.

The kingdom started by Nebuchadnezzar and which was concluded in the death of Belshazzar – was passed on to the Medes and the Persians. In some ways there were some changes made. But in other ways there was only a different shade of black covering the canvas of the world. In our next chapter Daniel is cast into the Persian den of lions – just as his friends had faced the Babylonian burning fiery furnace. Ah, but the God who delivered Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah is still the God who can deliver Daniel.

Kingdoms come and kingdoms go, just as the Kingdome came and the Kingdome imploded. People come and people go – at least as far as living on this earth are concerned. But the souls of all those people, go on throughout eternity. In the case of Belshazzar, his kingdom was divided and given to the Medes and Persians. And in your case, your kingdom will be divided between your children and other relatives. But with whom will your soul spend eternity?

There has never been a child of Adam, whose spiritual weight was equal to the standard of the Lord. Only of the Lord Jesus Christ has God ever said, “This is my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Only Christ Jesus has had the sinless righteousness required by God the Father for fellowship with him. Praise God, Jesus was born and the Son of God became a man, in order to share His righteousness with sinners like us. When Christ died on the cross, it was with the specific purpose of washing away the sins of those He intended to save, and to give unto them, His perfect righteousness. Through Christ, and only through Christ, can feather-weight, empty, vain sinners like us, have the substance and weight that God demands. And only those who repent before God and who put their trust in the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ prove themselves to possess the Lord’s saving grace. Therefore I urge you – I command you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, to repent and to believe on Christ.