Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin (Daniel 5)

By Daniel T. Owens

King Belshazzar knew of his father’s attitude and action toward God (5:20-22). Yet he did not humble his own heart and lifted himself against the Lord of heaven (vv. 22,23). He abused the Lord’s vessels and worshiped them instead of glorifying the living God (v. 23).

Therefore, the hand sent from God wrote the inscription on the wall “Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin ” (vv. 5,24). They were interpreted by Daniel as follows: “Numbered, weighed, divided.” Belshazzars’s kingdom (Babylon), as well as his own days, were numbered and coming to an end. He had been weighed and found wanting, deficient. His kingdom was to be divided, or separated, being given to the Medes and Persians (v. 31; Jer. 51:11,12).

In chapter 5 of Daniel there seems to be some lessons for us today. The handwriting is not “on the wall” but in the Book -The Word of God. We are numbered. We are continually being weighed (judged). We are and will be divided (separate -separated).

We Are Numbered

“The Lord knows those who are His” (2 Tim. 2:19; John 10: 14; 1 Cor. 8:3). We are and will be numbered according to our stand – our faithfulness or our faithlessness. If we are obedient Christians, we are numbered with God’s elect: with Noah, a preacher of righteousness (2 Pet. 2:5) who walked with God (Gen. 6:9); with Abraham, the friend of God (2 Chron. 20:7; Isa. 41:8; Jas. 2:23); with Moses, who refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter but rather chose to be with God’s people no matter what the consequences (Heb. 11;24, 25). We’ll be with David, although he too, like so many of us, did wrong and committed sin. Yet he repented and became a man after God’s own heart (Acts 7:46; 13:22). We’ll be with the great cloud of witnesses of Hebrews 12:1 and the 144,000 of Revelation 14:1-5. We are numbered with John, the immerser, Stephen, James, Peter, Paul, and the rest who “did not love their life even to death” (Rev. 12:11; Acts 21:13).

Just as those who are faithfully obedient are numbered with the righteous of all ages, so then also are the disobedient, unfaithful, digressive, and such numbered with the unrighteous. They are numbered with the iniquity of Cain – his unfit offering and his murderous guilt (Gen. 4:3,4,8); with Esau who sold his birthright (Gen. 25:31) in a time of physical temptation (Heb. 12:16,17); with Saul who forfeited his rule by acting foolishly against the commandments of God (1 Sam. 13:11-14; 15:11,26,35). They are numbered with Belshazzar who worshiped the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone (Dan. 5:23) and with the likes of Judas who sold his Lord (Matt. 26:14-16,47-49). Many are still selling the Lord today. They are counted with Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5), Demetrius the silversmith (Acts 19:24-29), Ananias the high Priest, Tertullus, and the governor Felix (Acts 24:1,2,25) and King Agrippa (Acts 26:28). They are with Hymenaeus, and Alexander (1 Tim. 1:20), Philetus (2 Tim. 2:17), Demas (2 Tim. 4:10), Diotrephes (3 John 9,10), the Nicolaitans (Rev. 2:6,15), Jezebel (Rev. 2:20), the lukewarm of Laodicea (Rev. 3:16) and the others who “know not God” and “those who obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (2 Thess. 1:8).

Those who are numbered with the righteous will inherit the kingdom prepared from the foundation of the world (Matt. 25:34). Those counted with the unrighteous shall inherit the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels (Matt. 25:41). “And if anyone’s name was not found written (numbered, recorded, counted, dto) in the Book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:15).

We Are Weighed

We are constantly being weighed (judged). We are weighed by our actions (1 Sam. 2:3). We shall have to give an account of ourselves (Rom. 14:12) and answer for the deeds we have done, whether good or bad (Matt. 16:27; 2 Cor. 5: 10; Rom. 2:6; Rev. 12,13). We must be consistent in our words and deeds and expectations of others. We dare not fall into the temptation of hypocrisy, for we too are judged of others, as well as by God (Matt. 7:2; Mk. 4:24; Lk. 6:38; Rom. 2:1-3).

We are judged by our words (Matt. 12:36,37). Is everything you say Holy Spirit oriented, that is to say, “as the utterances of God” (1 Pet. 4:11; 1 Thess. 2:3-4; Acts 4:13-20; Eph. 6:19,20)? Can your fellow workers tell that you are a Christian by the language you use? Would you be proud to have your children repeat everything you say? Think on these things.

We shall be judged by our thoughts (Rom 2:15,16). Are you thinking like those of this world-of hatred, violence, vengeance, murder, immorality, etc., or are we letting our minds dwell on things that are honorable, right, pure, lovely, good repute, excellent, and worthy of praise (Phil. 4:8)?

We are weighed by our works (1 Pet. 1:17). How are you doing in the Lord’s vineyard? Those who abide in Christ bear much fruit (John 15:5,8). And it does not necessarily mean the numbers of conversions. There is something to be said about keeping the saved saved. Do you take hold of every possible opportunity to labor in the Lord’s vineyard, or are you one who shies or shirks away from responsibilities and “passes the buck”?

We shall be judged by the Word of God (John 12:48) which today is readily available to all. There is no excuse for lawlessness. We need to judge ourselves righteously and make sure we pass the test (2 Cor. 13:5). We need to constantly make corrections in our lives to keep it pure from sin. There is no automatic cleansing from/of sin. Repentance, after the knowledge of sin, is a must if we are to escape the fires of hell (Heb. 10:26,27).

Judgment begins first with the household of God (I Pet. 4:17). “So speak and so act, as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty” (Jas. 2:12).

We Are Divided

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2). To my way of thinking, there are at least two considerations in this matter. One is a division between the Christian and the alien sinner. The other is the division between the faithful Christian and the Christian that just barely gets by.

The first separation is easy to see. One is a faithful child of God. The other has no relationship with God other than being a part of His creation. In the second instance, it may be harder to see the difference, except in practice. The faithful Christian labors and lives for the Lord. You can tell him by the fruit he bears. On the other hand, the Christian that barely gets by is hard to distinguish from the alien sinner. In fact, there may be very little separation at all. He does little work, if any, and is tolerant of the same. His attendance is sporadic as well as is his stand for the truth. In short, there is very little separation or division from the world. There is more of a conformation than a transformation.

Nevertheless, be reassured, there is a division between the saints and the sinners. Some are more visible than others. Some have taken heed to 2 Corinthians 6:14-18. They have come out and separated themselves from the world. They are indeed a peculiar people (Tit. 2:14; 1 Pet. 2:9). Their dedicated separation from the sins of this world insure them a separation from the fires of hell. They are divided now and will be divided then (Matt. 25:34,41). “He who overcomes shall thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels.” ” Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on . . . that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them” (Rev. 3:5; 14:13).

Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin. How do you stand.

Guardian of Truth XXX: 16, pp. 492-493
August 21, 1986