Shelby G. Floyd


Good morning church! It is wonderful to celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. We will study God’s word and apply the truth to what is going on in our world.

We are glad that Ronnie Cooper is here today. Vinton and Kathy Morgan of Mount Gilead, Ohio are visiting with us today. Vinton preaches for the Perry Church of Christ that was founded in the 1800s during the Restoration Movement back to New Testament Christianity. It is one of the oldest surviving churches in that area! Please make them feel welcome.

I am speaking on “The Handwriting on the Wall!” We studied the book of Ezekiel for almost three months. So, I thought it good to present a lesson on the complete downfall of Babylon by Cyrus the Great and Darius I of the Medes.

Babylon destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple of God about 586 B. C. Nebuchadnezzar carried the Jewish nobility back to Babylon. In ancient times when a nation conquered another nation, they brought the brightest and best educated back to their own country. Then they used them to enhance their own country. So, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshack, and Abed-Nego were added to the wise men of Babylon. But others captured, like Ezekiel, they took in exile down by the Chebar River.

My lesson today is about 60 years later. Daniel was a young man when he came to Babylon, but now he is about 80 years old. A lot of water went under the bridge while Daniel is in exile.

Babylon was the greatest cities in ancient times. It covered 12 square miles. The walls were 80 feet high, and 330 feet wide! And the city was never taken. It boasted of The Hanging Gardens, one of the seven wonders of the world! Nebuchadnezzar was the king in its heyday! But now he is dead. His grandson Belshazzar is now on the throne. And the armies of Darius the Mede and Cyrus the Persian are laying down their final plan to take this city.

And this lays the groundwork for our lesson today about the fall of King Belshazzar and the kingdom of Babylon in 539 B. C.!


Belshazzar, along with his officials, wives, and concubines had a big drunken party. They celebrated that their city and gods are invincible. Belshazzar tasted the wine and called for the holy vessels from the temple. They toasted the false gods of gold, silver, brass, iron, and stone out of these sacred vessels! Nebuchadnezzar took the vessels of Solomon’s Temple back to Babylon and put them safely in storage. He respected them more than did his grandson!


Suddenly, something strange happened! A hand came out of nowhere and started writing on the plaster of the wall. King Belshazzar is shaken up mentally and physically! He was heated with wine, but he was moved to the core. The joints of his hip were separated, and his knees started knocking together! He was scared to death. He did not know what this writing on the wall meant.

Belshazzar called for the astrologers, magicians, and soothsayers. He promised anyone who could read the writing will be clothed in purple, have a gold chain around the neck, and be the third ruler of the kingdom. But no one figured out the writing on the wall. They did not know what it meant. And they were of no help to the king.

About that time, the Queen Mother stepped in. She was his grandmother. And she rehearsed that his father Nebuchadnezzar had dealt with a perplexing dream. When no one could explain it, a young Jewish boy named Daniel explained the dream. He was rewarded and became a valuable asset to the king.

She recommended that he call Daniel so he can explain the writing on the wall, “Inasmuch as an excellent spirit, knowledge, understanding, interpreting dreams, solving riddles, and explaining enigmas were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar, now let Daniel be called, and he will give the interpretation” (Daniel 5:12).


And Belshazzar called Daniel. Daniel came and presented a history lesson to Belshazzar. Daniel said that he served his grandfather, Nebuchadnezzar. God blessed his grandfather and allowed him to do whatever pleased him. But when lifted up with pride, God humbled him until he came to his senses. Then he was deposed from his kingly throne and humbled as the animals of the forest “…till he knew that the Most High God rules in the kingdom of men and appoints over it whomever He chooses” (Daniel 5:21).

And then Daniel speaks directly to Belshazzar about the kind of life he is living that is very displeasing to God:

“But you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, although you knew all this.  And you have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven. They have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you and your lords, your wives and your concubines, have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone, which do not see or hear or know; and the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified. Then the fingers of the hand were sent from Him, and this writing was written” (Daniel 5:22-24 NKJV).


“And this is the inscription that was written: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN (Daniel 5:25). What did the writing on the wall mean? The message was short and simple.

1. “Mene, Mene” means “Numbered!” “God has numbered your kingdom and finished it” (Daniel 5:26).

What does that mean? Daniel said, “Mene, Mene,” means “numbered.” Remember during World War II everyone registered for the draft, and they gave you a number. When your number came up, you were called to go and fight for your country! In like manner, we all have a number. God has numbered each one of us. Belshazzar had a number. And we do not know when our number will be called! Scripture says, “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Nature tells me the truth that my number will come up before long. We all have a number. And we never know when our number will be called.

And Daniel told Belshazzar, “Mene, Mene,” means numbered – you are numbered, “God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it.”

2. “Tekel!” Tekel is the second word and means “Weighed.” “You have been weighed in the balances and found wanting” (Daniel 5:27).

Tekel means, “You have been weighed.” We all like to go to the see the doctor! “Come on in and step up on the scales while we weigh you in!” God will weigh us all in one day. And Daniel explained, “Tekel,” “You are weighed in the balances and found wanting” (Daniel 5:27). Your weight is not what it should be! God wants you!

3. “Upharsin—Pares,” means “Divided.” “Your kingdom has been divided, and given to the Medes and Persians” (Daniel 5:28).

The idea is that Belshazzar’s kingdom will be divided up between the Medes and the Persians.  And according to our context that very night Darius the Mede received the kingdom when he was 62 years old (Daniel 5:31).

Therefore, Daniel did not have any problem at all, explaining that writing on the wall. Let us look at it again. Mene, Mene! “God has numbered your kingdom and finished it!” One day God will say to all of us, “Mene, Mene,” your life is finished, and you are going away! The patriarch Job, said, “Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble” (Job 14:1). We will all admit that life is good, but there will be some trouble ahead.

Job also said,

“Since his days are determined,
The number of his months is with You;
You have appointed his limits, so that he cannot pass.
Look away from him that he may rest,
Till like a hired man he finishes his day” (Job 14:5-6).

One day we all will finish our day like a hired man.

The second word, Tekel, means weighed. “You have been weighed in the balances and found wanting” (Daniel 5:27). We should weigh what God expects out of our life. Job said,

“If I have walked with falsehood,
Or if my foot has hastened to deceit,
Let me be weighed on honest scales,
That God may know my integrity” (Job 31:5-6).

We all want our lives to amount to something! When God weighs us, there will be honest scales. God is not going to put his foot on the scales and make you weigh more than you do, nor will he take his foot off the scales and make you weigh less than you do.

For some of us we will weigh much less than what God expects of us, and our life will be like a vapor:

Surely men of low degree are a vapor,
Men of high degree are a lie;
If they are weighed on the scales,
They are altogether lighter than vapor (Psalms 62:9).

Now Daniel explained the riddle to King Belshazzar. He told him everything about the writing on the wall that he saw, and which shook him to his knees! And Belshazzar I am sure was still shaking in his boots.

But perhaps he is thinking, “If I reward Daniel, maybe God will not be so hard on me!” So, he ordered Daniel to be clothed with purple, a gold chain was placed around his neck, and he was proclaimed to be the third ruler in the kingdom of Babylon.

And you know, Daniel did not refuse it. He did not ask for the reward, but now maybe he can use it to help his people of Israel. And by the way he did help his people. After Babylon fell, he was able to help the Jews during the reign of Darius the Mede. And he also became a very great man during that reign! The Bible says, “And so this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian” (Daniel 6:28).

And now I relate to you what happened next. Previously, I told you how great was the city of Babylon that had never been overthrown. No kingdom had ever equaled the kingdom of Babylon!  King Belshazzar felt very secure! The armies of the Medes and Persians were working their plan to take the city even as Belshazzar saw the writing on the wall!

Do you know how they took that city? They could not take it with battering rams, nor could they take it with ballista, or a trebuchet!

There was one thing the king and his advisors overlooked – it was the great Euphrates River. This river ran right down through the middle of the city. This was one of the original rivers that flowed out of the garden of Eden! This river flowed down through the Mesopotamian cradle of civilization! This area was where they built the Tower of Babel!

They had brilliant engineers back then, and so they diverted the river into a man-made lake. And when the riverbed was low, the Army marched right on in the muddy riverbed. They went into the city through the open gates that were left unlocked. There were no watchmen to warn the city. They marched right up to the throne: And “That very night Belshazzar, King of the Chaldeans was slain” (Daniel 5:30). “And Darius the Mead received the kingdom being about 62 years old” (Daniel 5:31). And that was the end of the Babylonian kingdom in 536 B. C.

And now I ask, “Are you ready for any kind of writing on the wall?” If you are not a Christian, do not wait too long? Do not wait until the Lord says, “You are weighed in the balances and found wanting.” Obey the Lord and hear him say unto you, “Enter into the joys of your Lord.” Respond right now while we stand and sing this hymn! *

*Copyright © 2023 Shelby G. Floyd, All Rights Reserved


Shelby G. Floyd delivered this sermon, The Handwriting on the Wall, September 3, 2023, at the Heartland Church of Christ, 1693 West Main Street, Greenwood, Indiana 46142

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