Week 3: The Writing's on the Wall
What is precious to you? Toys? People? Possessions?
How do we treat these ‘precious things’?
Do we respect them and look after them?
Story: Daniel 5 (International Children's Bible)
The Writing on the Wall
1 King Belshazzar gave a big banquet for 1,000 royal guests. And he drank wine with them. 2 As Belshazzar was drinking his wine, he gave an order to his servants. He told them to bring the gold and silver cups that his ancestor Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the Temple in Jerusalem. King Belshazzar wanted his royal guests to drink from those cups. He also wanted his wives and his slave women to drink from them. 3 So they brought the gold cups. They had been taken from the Temple of God in Jerusalem. And the king and his royal guests, his wives and his slave women drank from them. 4 As they were drinking, they praised their gods. Those gods were made from gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood and stone.
5 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.
6 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. 7 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.”
8 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. 9 King Belshazzar became even more afraid. His face became even whiter. His royal guests were confused.
10 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! 11 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. 12 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.”
13 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? 14 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. 15 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. 16 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.”
17 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.
18 “My king, the Most High God made your father Nebuchadnezzar a great, important and powerful king. 19 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.
20 “But Nebuchadnezzar became too proud and stubborn. So he was taken off his royal throne. His glory was taken away. 21 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.
22 “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. 23 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. 24 So God sent the hand that wrote on the wall.
25 “These are the words that were written on the wall: ‘Mene, mene, tekel, parsin.’
26 “This is what these words mean: Mene: God has counted the days until your kingdom will end. 27 Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found not good enough. 28 Parsin: Your kingdom is being divided. It will be given to the Medes and the Persians.”
29 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. 30 That very same night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonian people, was killed. 31 A man named Darius the Mede became the new king. Darius was 62 years old.
In today’s story we learn about some cups that were very special cups. They were special because they had been used in the temple of the Lord. They were made of pure gold and silver. God wanted the cups to be always handled and looked after very carefully.
When the Babylonians took the Israelites captive, they stole lots of the Israelites special items that were used in the temple when the priests praised God. But when King Belshazzar demanded that they were bought to the banquet he was drunk and not behaving in a very nice way. That made God angry and so he sent the hand to write a message on the wall in the palace.
Now, when this happened no-one knew what to do. Daniel, who had been very close to the previous King Nebuchadnezzar, wasn’t even thought of to begin with! Daniel, who had helped King Nebuchadnezzar interpret his dreams, had been forgotten until Belshazzar’s mother reminded him about what Daniel had done.
So Daniel was bought before the King to interpret the writing on the wall, but it wasn’t a good message. Belshazzar had upset God and he was going to pay, his kingdom was going to be taken from him and divided between the Medes and the Persians.
Think about your special things and special people. How should you look after them?
Watch the next part of the video we started two weeks ago (2:43-3:54) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9cSC9uobtPM
For a slightly longer, but cartoon version of this story try this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=59ztPUFKhWA
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. (Daniel 5:23b)
Pray that God will help you look after the special things you have been given. Also pray for the special people in your life who look after you.
Have a go at writing secret messages. Use a white crayon or candle to write a message or draw a picture on white paper. Use either water colour paints or watered down poster paints to paint over the page to reveal your hidden image.