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TODAY’S WORLD: The Writing is on the Wall

God has been warning Britain…..


The fact that the Bible has had a tremendous impact upon the development of our English language cannot be disputed. In 2011, to mark the 400th anniversary of the publication of the Authorized (King James) Version of the Bible in 1611, some research was undertaken to investigate the effect that the Bible has had in everyday language. Lists were compiled showing just how many figures of speech and expressions that we use find their origin in the Bible. Evidence of this kind is hardly surprising when we consider that men such as Tennyson, Dickens and Daniel Webster all commended the Bible as a book that should be read – for its literary merit, if for nothing else. People with Bible knowledge therefore often recognize the source of a phrase being used in an everyday way in conversation.  


Two such examples can be found in chapter five of Daniel. One is “the writing’s on the wall.” We use this expression to indicate that there is an ominous sign which cannot be denied. In other words, the evidence is plainly there for all to see and there will undoubtedly be consequences.

The other expression is “weighed in the balances” and is found in Daniel 5:27. An old pair of scale pans is pictured, with the weight on one side being used to balance what has been placed in the other pan. Something or someone is being assessed, and they haven’t made it. They have failed the test. 




In the Bible account, Belshazzar (Prince Regent in Babylon while his father, Nabonidus, was away) was hosting a feast for a thousand of his lords one fateful night in 539BC. Already Babylon was besieged by the Medes, but within Babylon there was no undue concern. It was estimated that their supplies could last the more than one million inhabitants for the best part of 20 years. The towering walls of Babylon rose to more than 300 feet in height, and chariots three or four abreast could ride on those walls which were between 75 and 85 feet thick. Their city was impenetrable and was amply supplied with water from the Euphrates. What was there to fear? The Babylonian Empire ruled the world, and the Medes outside would eventually realize that they were wasting their time and be gone! Belshazzar, not content with the party thus far, ordered that vessels taken from the temple in Jerusalem years earlier should be brought into the banqueting hall and filled with wine. This done, the revelers praised the gods of gold, silver, brass, iron, wood and stone (Daniel 5:4). 


At that very moment a hand appeared on the wall opposite the lampstand and wrote a brief message of four unfamiliar words. To say that Belshazzar was terrified would be an understatement; his body reeled in shock and his face turned ashen. His nobles were perplexed, and the party was ruined. None of his astrologers or wise men could read the writing or interpret the message – in spite of being offered promotion in the realm. Eventually Daniel was brought in and fearlessly revealed the sentence of doom to Belshazzar. Indeed the writing was on the wall. The unfamiliar script read: NUMBERED, NUMBERED, WEIGHED, SPLIT. Babylon’s rule was over; the Medes had already diverted the waters of the Euphrates and within a few hours would be in the city and Belshazzar would be dead. He had refused to learn the lessons of history, had not humbled himself before God, and was guilty of sacrilege. The message of Daniel was profound and divine, and the consequence shows us that God is able to remove unrighteous rulers who will not learn and bring in new governments. It is a fearful thing to be weighed in God’s balances and to be found wanting.




The Word of God is remarkably up to date. Situations that arose in past centuries have a way of reappearing in our day. The early chapters of Isaiah also make extremely relevant reading for us now and none less than the statement found in Isaiah 3:9:

 They declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it not.

Isaiah was addressing a nation that had forgotten the Lord. In spite of all His loving care and kindness towards them, there was a blatant indifference in society. Animals were behaving better than human beings! The oxen knew their owners and where their food came from. They would respond in their own way and show a recognition that was totally lacking among God’s people. While domesticated animals might eat out of the owner’s hand and show some limited affection or relationship, the Lord’s own people had retreated from Him and were living in utter ignorance of His providential care. They failed to consider the prophet’s analogy, were rebellious, sick, and corrupt, and were provoking the Holy One of Israel to anger. The opening verses of Isaiah 1 present this heart-breaking scene.  


Alarmingly, God addressed the leaders of the nation as rulers of Sodom (Isa.1:10). Jerusalem was ruined, and God had been provoked by a people whose doings were “against the Lord” (Isa.3:8). Without a trace of shame, they were brazenly declaring their sin as openly and as proudly as Sodom – the city that was eventually destroyed by fire and brimstone. 


Here lies the similarity: the days of Sodom are with us now. Behaviour that in the middle of the last century was still criminal has become accepted and normal. The “Gay Pride” march that took to the streets of London in July 1972 has become an annual event and has since been replicated in many other cities across the UK. The word pride is not without significance. Those who march are proud to be there. They are demonstrating the new society that is being built – a society that is thoroughly atheistic in its promotion of evolution and has dispensed entirely with the notion of God.  




In Britain today we have a Prime Minister and a government guilty of sacrilege. Like Belshazzar they have taken something sacred – marriage, a divine institution – and have defiled it with their high-handed and outrageous proposal to make it a same-sex affair. The writing is on the wall for them – and it would be foolish to ignore the recent unprecedented weather pattern and regard it as unconnected with the moral state of our country.


Surely the devastating floods (pictured in Somerset) have been a startling warning from the Almighty. Mr. Cameron, like us all, has been weighed in God’s balances and found wanting. The warnings to our nation could not be clearer. It is high time to turn from our wicked ways and humbly repent of our guilt.


The Lord Jesus has drawn our attention to the days of Noah and the days of Lot in Luke 17:26-30 and has stated “as it was… so shall it be…” Judgment is most certainly coming upon our proud and unrepentant nation, but salvation is still possible for those who will forsake Sodom and its ways.