Life’s Last Three Words
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
“Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin” does not mean “Money money tickles the parson.”
Daniel, having known the Lord a long time, was able not only to read God’s handwriting, but also to read between the lines. Daniel’s explanation of these three words applies to us all. In a sense, “Mene, Tekel, Upharsin” are the last three words of every life. Their implications are determined by the life we live.
I. Mene, Mene (Numbered)
Numbered, numbered; or enough, enough. This word was written twice to show its importance. The repetition denotes emphasis and certainty. This is the main thing.
God is screaming from heaven, no more will be tolerated. We can almost sense the frustration of God in these repeated words. What He had been holding in with difficulty now came streaming forth, “Numbered. Enough.”
One of the most important things God has to tell people is that each of us has a deadline to meet. We are not going to live on earth forever. Hebrews 9:27 says, “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.”
Everyone here has an appointment to keep. Every life has a finish line. People hate this idea. To try to get around it, they concoct all kinds of schemes, including annihilation, purgatory, reincarnation, baptism for the dead.
We have only until the end of this present life to make our everlasting choice. We must settle the account in this life. We do not have forever to decide. When “Finished!” is heard, the verdict will be irreversible. We should decide for Jesus now because we never know when we’ll reach our deadline.
Wicked Jezebel tried to pretty herself to delay Jehu’s vengeance, but her days were finished. Had she looked like an angel, death still would have come. Her time was over. The jig was up. There would be no more chances for repentance.
King Saul conjured up dead Samuel, who said, “Tomorrow you will be with me.” When Saul consulted the witch, “Enough” was written on his life. It was time to appear before God.
God waited 120 years to slam shut the door of the Ark, but once He closed it, the human race almost became extinct.
There is a finish line for everyone here. We need to prepare for the end. The scribe who is recording the events of our life will be stopped someday by the death angel. Our book will be slammed shut. “Numbered. Enough.”
II. Tekel (Weighed)
God does not count people as much as He weighs them (Parker). Isaiah 26:7 says the Lord “dost weigh the path of the just.” Proverbs 16:2 says, “The ways of a man are clean in his own eyes, but the Lord weigheth the spirits.”
What we do is not done in secret. Our deeds are watched and weighed. Our lives are being evaluated by God.
The Lord looks for spiritual heavyweights, but too often finds styrofoam people instead. He picks us up to see if the weighty virtues of love, mercy, prayer, holiness, integrity, and non-compromise are present, but many are found wanting, “unworthy to have a trust lodged in them. They are light, empty, men of no weight or consideration” (Henry).
Many struggle against the same affliction that plagued Belshazzar, the adversary known as prosperity. Nothing is inherently wrong with wealth, but it easily drains Christians of their commitment and churches of their zeal.
Many stay close to God in troubles only to fall away in ease. When times improve, compromise and pleasure often replace dedication and prayer.
Some people’s religion is like the Queen of Russia’s palace. Made of solid ice, wintry cold and windy blasts did not hurt it. In fact, they helped, but Summer melted it away.
When winds of affliction blow on a Christian’s head, he wraps himself in cloaks of prayer, Bible study, church attendance, and communion with Jesus. When the sun of prosperity shines, we tend to shed our cloaks. What afflictions can not do, the soft hand of prosperity often accomplishes.
Remember, though, as we shed garments of holiness and discipline, we become lighter and lighter on God’s scales. Beware. We are being weighed.
III. Upharsin (Divided)
“Divided” may be the saddest part of God’s final judgment against the ungodly. First, the ungodly will be divided from society. All who die lost will be divided from family and friends.
Though this happens in reverse to believers, God somehow removes their loneliness. In Hell, however, people remember broken family ties. The rich man pleaded on behalf of his five brothers still living (Luke 6).
Painful awareness of division from loved ones will endure forever. One of the saddest scenes in the movie “The Hiding Place” is when Corrie gets separated from her sister in a rushing crowd. The looks on their faces were frantic.
Judgment Day will be indescribably horrible. All humanity will be divided: right and left, sheep and goats, saved and lost, Heaven and Hell. It’s a haunting thought ( divided.
Second, the ungodly will be divided from God. We can not describe the awfulness of a place without God ( no plant life, no light, no goodness, no compassion, no comfort. All these will be missing, for God is the Source of them all. Hell can best be described as existing death, ongoing devastation. Rapists will still be rapists, murderers will still be murderers. There will be no kindness, no mercy, for God will be absent.
Third, the ungodly will be divided from distractions. No wonder people try not to think of pending Judgment. They know their lives count for little. They fear self-examination. Instead of thinking about our spiritual condition, we fill our minds with work, recreation, frivolity, music, entertainment, etc. This is the approach of an ostrich. Ignoring the problem does not drive it away.
This is what Belshazzar was trying to do. While armies surrounded him, he tried to drown it out of his mind with wine. He wanted to forget his troubles.
Included in the “Division” of Judgment is that in hell people will be divided from all things that distract their attention. We will then take plenty of time to think about our spiritual condition, but it will be too late.
Quit ignoring this matter. Don’t go to Hell due to distractions. Contemplate your condition before it’s too late. Consider it now. Only a foolish person wastes time, for time is the substance of existence. After death is too late.
This is not the way we want to meet God, nor the way He wants to meet us. It is infinitely better to face God honestly, openly, and in forgiveness now. Jesus knows us and wants us to repent of sins, and invite Him into our life.
Think now of another “handwriting on the wall.” This didn’t only happen long ago in a crowded banquet hall. Belshazzar experienced the only time God’s “fingers” broke into human view. The handwriting happened last night, is happening right now, and will continue until the end of time.
On the wall of your heart, God is writing words of conviction and invitation. Conviction burns as a branding iron. Invitation woos with its beauty.
God’s scribes write all the time, recording events of our lives. For us all, a deadline is approaching. Someday the book of our life will be slammed shut by the death angel. When God re-opens it, only those covered by Jesus’ blood will be able to stand.
Belshazzar could do nothing about his sentence. Execution and condemnation happened immediately. But God sent you here this morning to hear this warning. He is giving you a chance to repent, to turn around, to reverse the handwriting. It would be foolish to continue in sinfulness. Be wise.