What does the Bible say?
Read the following passage, which explains what happened sometime after Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego survived the fiery furnace. King Nebuchadnezzar had a disturbing vision. Daniel interpreted the vision for the king, and told him that he would live like a wild animal for many years unless or until he gave up his sinful life by acknowledging God as Lord of all.
Just as Daniel said, the vision came true and King Nebuchadnezzar lived as a wild animal until he finally changed his ways. But sometime afterwards, his son, Belshazzar became king. King Belshazzar did not honor God, nor humble himself. Instead, he did his best to fight against the Lord. Then, a message came to him in a strange way. Let’s read to find out what that message said.
This story is found in the bible in the book of Daniel, chapter 5.
You can also learn about this story in this video clip.
Then suddenly a person’s hand appeared. The fingers wrote words on the plaster on the wall. This was near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote.
King Belshazzar was very frightened. His face turned white, and his knees knocked together. He could not stand up because his legs were too weak. The king called for the magicians and wise men to be brought to him. He said to the wise men of Babylon, “I will give a reward to anyone who can read this writing and explain it. I will give him purple clothes fit for a king. I will put a gold chain around his neck. And I will make him the third highest ruler in the kingdom.”
So all the king’s wise men came in. But they could not read the writing. And they could not tell the king what it meant. King Belshazzar became even more afraid. His face became even whiter. His royal guests were confused.
Then the king’s mother came into the banquet room. She had heard the voices of the king and his royal guests. She said, “My king, live forever! Don’t be afraid! Don’t let your face be white with fear! There is a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods in him. In the days of your father, this man showed understanding, knowledge and wisdom. He was like the gods in these things. Your father, King Nebuchadnezzar, put this man in charge of all the wise men. He ruled over all the fortune-tellers, magicians and wise men. The man I am talking about is named Daniel. The king gave him the name Belteshazzar. He was very wise, and he had knowledge and understanding. He could explain dreams and secrets. He could answer very hard problems. Call for Daniel. He will tell you what the writing on the wall means.”
So they brought Daniel to the king. The king said to him, “Is your name Daniel? Are you one of the captives my father the king brought from Judah? I have heard that the spirit of the gods is in you. And I have heard that you are very wise and have knowledge and understanding. The wise men and magicians were brought to me to read this writing on the wall. I wanted those men to explain to me what it means. But they could not explain it. I have heard that you are able to explain what things mean. And you can find the answers to hard problems. Read this writing on the wall and explain it to me. If you can, I will give you purple clothes fit for a king. And I will put a gold chain around your neck. And you will become the third highest ruler in the kingdom.”
Then Daniel answered the king, “You may keep your gifts for yourself. Or you may give those rewards to someone else. I will read the writing on the wall for you. And I will explain to you what it means.
“My king, the Most High God made your father Nebuchadnezzar a great, important and powerful king. God made him very important. So all the people, nations and those who spoke every language were very afraid of Nebuchadnezzar. If he wanted a person to die, he put that person to death. And if he wanted a person to live, he let that person live. If he wanted to promote a person, he promoted him. And if he wanted a person to be unimportant, he made him unimportant.
“But Nebuchadnezzar became too proud and stubborn. So he was taken off his royal throne. His glory was taken away. Then Nebuchadnezzar was forced away from people. His mind became like the mind of an animal. He lived with the wild donkeys and was fed grass like an ox. He became wet with dew. These things happened to him until he learned his lesson: The Most High God rules over the kingdoms of men. And the Most High God sets anyone he wants over those kingdoms.
“But, Belshazzar, you already knew these things. You are a descendant of Nebuchadnezzar. But still you have not been sorry for what you have done. Instead, you have turned against the Lord of heaven. You ordered the drinking cups from the Temple of the Lord to be brought to you. Then you and your royal guests drank wine from them. Your wives and your slave women also drank wine from them. You praised the gods of silver, gold, bronze, iron, wood and stone. They are not really gods. They cannot see or hear or understand anything. But you did not honor God. He is the One who has power over your life and everything you do. So God sent the hand that wrote on the wall.
“These are the words that were written on the wall: ‘Mene, mene, tekel, parsin.’
"This is what these words mean: Mene: God has counted the days until your kingdom will end. Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found not good enough. Parsin: Your kingdom is being divided. It will be given to the Medes and the Persians.”
Then Belshazzar gave an order for Daniel to be dressed in purple clothes. A gold chain was put around his neck. And he was announced to be the third highest ruler in the kingdom. That very same night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonian people, was killed.
1. What gods did King Belshazzar and his nobles praise?
They praised gods of gold and silver.
2. While they were drinking, what did they see writing on the walls?
Fingers of a human hand.
3. Why did the king ask Daniel to come to him?
He hoped Daniel could tell him what the writing meant.
4. Why was the sin of Belshazzar even greater than his father?
Although he knew the truth, he chose not to humble himself, and even fought against the Lord (v22-23)
5. What did the writing on the wall say?
The king’s reign is at an end and his kingdom will be given away
6. What is the difference between being boastful and being humble?
Activity: The Humble and the Proud
The Parable of the Tax Collector and Pharisee
Then you could talk about your picture with someone else in your family, maybe using the following questions to help you:
- Did you find one character easier to draw than the other one, if so which one and why?
- If you had to choose to be one of the people in your picture, which one would you choose? Why would you choose this character?
When we boast about what we have, or look down on someone who is less fortunate, we are telling God that He is not important, and that we think we can do things on our own. This is so far from the truth. All good things come from God, by ourselves we are nothing. Therefore, we must live a humble life before God, and admit that without Him we are lost. To avoid being proud, we must acknowledge and thank Him for all He has given us. When we do this, God will exalt us. Remember that God knows what is in our hearts.
Instead help us to be humble and generous in all our doings before God and before our friends and family,