Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Writing On The Wall

Daniel is one of my favorite books in the Bible. There are so many different stories that I enjoy from Daniel, so the next few days will be all about Daniel (or his friends, but that's for another day). Today, as you may have guessed from the title, I'll be talking about the writing on the wall as found in Daniel 5. Since this story is the entire chapter, I'll give a brief summary of the story instead of the full text (but feel free to read the whole story here).

Essentially, this story begins with the king of Babylon, along with his lords, wives and concubines, defiling vessels his father had taken from the temple in Jerusalem.  A hand appears and writes a message on the wall.  The king, who is understandably terrified at this point, tries to find someone in his kingdom who can interpret the message.  None of his wise men can, but the queen remembered a man whom, because of his ability to interpret dreams and solve puzzles, the king's father highly regarded.  This man was Daniel, and he interpreted the message on the wall after rebuking the king for his inability to honor "the God in whose power is your very breath, and to whom belong all your ways."
"And this is the writing that was inscribed: mene, mene, tekel, and parsin. This is the interpretation of the matter: mene, God has numbered the days of your kingdom 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.’" -Daniel 5:25-28
 That night, the king was killed and a Mede received the kingdom.

One of the things I like about this story is the simple "justice" aspect: If you mess with God's stuff, you might end up dead.  My favorite part of this story, however, is the interpretation of the message.  Daniel tells the king why the message appears before interpreting it, then uses the words of the message as a form of passing judgment against the king. 

Tomorrow, look for another story from Daniel.

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