Verse of the Day Devotion. Daniel 5:25
“Now this is the inscription that was written out: ‘MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.'” – Daniel 5:25
Chapter five gives an account of the end of Babylon as a kingdom. After the death of Nebuchadnezzar, there were a series of kings who sat on the throne. The first was the son of Nebuchadnezzar. Amel-Marduk. He lasted around a year and was followed by Neriglissar, Nebuchadnezzar’s son-in-law, who reigned for around six years. After his death, his son Labashi-Marduk took the throne. His reign was very short, lasting only one to three months, until Belshazzar, the son of Nabonidus led a coup resulting in the death of Labashi- Marduk and declaring Nabonidus as king. However, Nabonidus was not as interested in being king as he was in Babylonian history, therefore, as he was out doing research, he pronounced his son Belshazzar as ruler over Babylon.
Now, Belshazzar held a great feast, not knowing this would be the last day of his reign. “Belshazzar the king held a great feast for a thousand of his nobles, and he was drinking wine in the presence of the thousand.” Daniel 5:1. Everything was going OK until he made a fatal mistake. “When Belshazzar tasted the wine, he gave orders to bring the gold and silver vessels which Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem, in order that the king and his nobles, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them.” Daniel 5:2. The mistake he made was using the gold and silver vessels take from the Temple in Jerusalem. And worse yet, “They drank the wine and praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone.” Daniel 5:4. His arrogance became so great during his drunkenness that he praised his gods while drinking from the cups of the true God.
The king then noticed an inscription being written by a hand on the wall which frightened him. He brought in the wise men of Babylon to read and interpret it, but they could not. Belshazzar then became even more frightened. Then the queen entered the banquet hall and said, “O king, live forever! Do not let your thoughts alarm you or your face be pale. There is a man in your kingdom in whom is a spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of your father, illumination, insight, and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods were found in him. And King Nebuchadnezzar, your father, your father the king, appointed him chief of the magicians, conjurers, Chaldeans, and diviners.” Daniel 5:10b-11. The man she was referring to was Daniel, and she said that he will declare the interpretation. She offered him gifts, plus authority as the third ruler in the kingdom if he would. However, Daniel answered her, “Keep your gifts for yourself, or give your rewards to someone else; however, I will read the inscription to the king and make the interpretation known to him.” Daniel 5:17.
And here is the interpretation. He first tells them what happened to Nebuchadrezzar in the previous chapter. “O king, the Most High God granted sovereignty, grandeur, glory, and majesty to Nebuchadnezzar your father. And because of the grandeur which He bestowed on him, all the peoples, nations, and men of every language feared and trembled before him; whomever he wished he killed, and whomever he wished he spared alive; and whomever he wished he elevated, and whomever he wished he humbled. But when his heart was lifted up and his spirit became so proud that he behaved arrogantly, he was deposed from his royal throne, and his glory was taken away from him. He was also driven away from mankind, and his heart was made like that of beasts, and his dwelling place was with the wild donkeys. He was given grass to eat like cattle, and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven, until he recognized that the Most High God is ruler over the realm of mankind, and that He sets over it whomever He wishes.” Daniel 5:18-21.
But then comes the following. “Yet you, his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, even though you knew all this, but you have exalted yourself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines have been drinking wine from them; and you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see, hear, or understand. But the God in whose hand are your life-breath and your ways, you have not glorified.” Daniel 5:22-23. He tells Belshazzar that he does not humbled himself before the true God but has exalted himself against him. And he used the articles from the holy temple to drink the wine in their parties honoring the false gods. Then he gives them the interpretation of the writing on the wall. “Then the hand was sent from Him, and this inscription was written out. Now this is the inscription that was written out: ‘MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.’ This is the interpretation of the message: ‘MENE’. God has numbered your kingdom and put an end to it.” ‘TEKEL’. you have been weighed on the scales and found deficient. ‘PERES’, your kingdom has been divided and given over to the Medes and Persians.” Daniel 5:24-28. And then, the end of the Kingdom of Babylon came that very night. “That same night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was slain. So Darius the Mede received the kingdom at about the age of sixty-two.” Daniel 5:30-31.
God brought an end to the greatest kingdom that had existed up to that time in a single night. The end of Babylon came in no great battle, almost without a murmur. The Babylonians were so disaffected by the policies of Nabonidus that they had little will to fight. A Babylonian general, Gobryas, defected to the Persians, and began insurgency against Babylon. In a desperate attempt to rally support, Nabonidus attempted to reinstate the worship of Marduk, and brought the gods of the outlying provinces to Babylon to inspire the people. But the effort backfired, because it did nothing but further anger and demoralize the people from whom the gods had been taken. Two days later, on approximately October 12, 539 B.C., Ugbaru’s troops were able to enter Babylon without a battle. Herodotus describes how the Persians diverted the River Euphrates into a canal upriver so that the water level dropped “to the height of the middle of a man’s thigh,” which thus rendered the flood defenses useless and enabled the invaders to march through the riverbed to enter by night.
God’s will is certain. Honor Him as God Almighty and do not place anyone or anything before Him. In doing so, you will please Him and He will be with you always.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.