This is a phrase we use when the signs are clear that something is about to change, maybe the fall of a government or even the end of a relationship. Often it spells catastrophe.
The origin is a Bible one, from the Book of Daniel. At the time of the Babylonian empire, King Belshazzar held a debauched party with his rulers and wives. They were having a tremendous time until the fingers of a man's hand appeared and wrote on the wall.
“Then the king's countenance changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his hips were loosened and his knees knocked against each other.”
None of Babylon’s wise men could interpret for him. Then the queen mentioned Daniel. He was brought before Belshazzar to explain the writing.
“Mene: God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it; Tekel: You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting; Peres: Your kingdom has been divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.”
That very night, mighty Babylon was taken by the Medo-Persians. Belshazzar was killed. When God signals a dramatic change in the world, it happens.
Jesus gave a similar message to the Jews of his day, warning them that the end was coming.
“When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”
Within 40 years the Romans destroyed Jerusalem. There was awful slaughter followed by slavery, all foretold by Jesus. It was another era coming to an end.
This is where it gets exciting for us. Jerusalem is no longer ruled by Gentiles but has celebrated over 50 years under Jewish rule. Jesus tells us what we should expect.
“Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”
The writing is on the wall for our world. Jesus will soon return to the earth and establish the Kingdom of God. Let's take his advice and not be caught out like King Belshazzar.