Daniel 5, Psalm 82
If you have ever wondered about the origin of the phrase “The writing is on the wall”, then look no further than today’s reading from Daniel. Of course this phrase now refers to any ominous signs that misfortune awaits someone. In Daniel 5, the writing on the wall was present before there was any writing on the wall. We see that Nebuchadnezzar's son is drinking wine at a large party from the goblets God allowed Babylon to ransack from Israel’s temple. Before the king sees this hand writing words of warning Daniel will soon interpret, the reader knows this is a terrible mistake. Though God is using Babylon as a means to judge Israel and teach the chosen people problems that comes with dishonoring God, that doesn’t give them impunity to act as they please. Such desecration of God’s sacred objects is not tolerated, and even after Belshazzar responds with deference to Daniel’s interpretation of the writing on the wall, his days, actually his minutes are numbered. He dies that very night. No matter one’s lofty position, or even how God intends to use a particular people, no one can ignore God’s holiness without grave consequences. Praise God that this warning serves as writing on the wall to call us away from evil and to reverence of God’s holy name.