Summary: The story of the "handwriting on the wall" is God's way of reminding us that there will be a day of judgment. What can we learn from God's warning to this King?
In 1883, the greatest volcanic explosion in modern history took place. Krakatoa, a volcano in Indonesia, exploded and shot 6 cubic miles of debris 24 miles up into the stratosphere. Its shock wave traveled around the world 7 times, and its debris fell more than 2000 miles away. The official death toll – over 90,000 people. The sky was so blackened from the clouds of debris that the sun was blocked from the sky for the next 24 hours as far away as New England.
At the time of Krakatoa’s explosion, the Captain of a nearby British sailing ship wrote these words in his log: “I am writing this blind in pitch darkness. We are under continual rain of pumice-stone and dust. So violent are the explosions that the ear-drums of over half my crew have been shattered…. I am convinced that the Day of Judgment has come.” (Russ Lawson, www.heartlight.org 2/1/09 and “Our Daily Bread” 12/1/07)
The Day of Judgment (PAUSE)
ILLUS: How many of you are aware that we had a Solar Eclipse last week (everyone laughed and raised their hands because the news media had flooded the airwaves with information on this event). I have to admit that I’d forgotten all about it until I stepped out of my office about 2:30 that afternoon and was amazed at the eerie feel even a partial blocking of the sun had. The sky felt different and the even the grass looked different.
My son got an email from a friend down in Kentucky and that friend said that the solar eclipse made the sky so dark that they could see the stars in the sky and the temperature dropped an entire 25 degrees during the eclipse.
At various spots along the path of this solar eclipse, 1000s of people would gather together and put on their special glasses and shouted and laughed as the sun became hidden behind the moon.
As you can imagine, the Eclipse had a lot of people excited and partying… but there were others who weren’t quite sure the eclipse was innocent:
• One prophetic preacher wrote: “a solar eclipse is meant as a sign from God. … Could God be giving us a warning that we need to repent or judgment will be coming to the United States? The timing couldn’t be clearer!” (Mark Blitz)
• Another such teacher said: You’ve got this epic solar eclipse over America and it’s happening right at Regulus, in Leo the Lion—the constellation… in the constellation of the king, meaning the return of the king!” (Scott Clarke)
• Still another one wrote: the eclipse may mean, 'we are living in the last days.'" (Paul Begley)
Anne Graham Lotz (daughter of Billy Graham) noted “The celebratory nature regarding the eclipse brings to my mind the Babylonian King Belshazzar who threw a drunken feast the night the Medes and Persians crept under the city gate.” (all quotes from http://www.crosswalk.com/slideshows/what-is-the-biblical-significance-of-the-upcoming-solar-eclipse-8-christian-leaders-explain.html?p=4)
It seems that these folks were seeing the eclipse as being “the handwriting on the wall”. And of course, the question is: Was this Eclipse predicting punishment of America? Well maybe - but we need to realize that solar eclipses really aren’t all that rare. They tend to cross some section of the earth once every 18 months). (We showed a map of eclipses that had blanketed the earth from (2001 to 2025).
Eclipses are NOT rare… but hands writing stuff on the wall – that’s pretty rare.
Let’s consider a little background for our text today. Babylon was a wealthy kingdom and the city was considered impregnable to attack. Greek historian Herodotus claimed that "Babylon surpassed in wonder any city in the known world" and specifically praised the walls which he said were 56 miles long, 80 feet thick, and 320 feet high. There was no way that any foreign power was going to take their city.
But in the days of king Belshazzar (although the text calls him the son of Nebuchadnezzar, he was actually that king’s grandson. That terminology was simply the way things were spoken of back in that day). Babylon was being threatened by an army from the East - from the Empire of the Medes and Persians and war was constantly on the borders. Now that enemy was marching toward Babylon itself.
But Belshazzar was convinced that Babylon WOULD NOT fall to his enemies. His army was too mighty, his walls too imposing, and his nation had the dominated the region for nearly 100 years. It was just not going to happen!!!
In fact, Belshazzar was SO convinced that there was no power can stand against his nation’s might that he throws a party. “King Belshazzar made a great feast for a thousand of his lords and drank wine in front of the thousand. Belshazzar, when he tasted the wine, commanded that the vessels of gold and of silver that Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken out of the temple in Jerusalem be brought, that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them.