[Teaching method: dramatic storytelling]
Summary: The supernatural hand writing on the wall - announces God's judgment [the immediate fall of Babylon] - at the height of a sinful king's rebellion and mockery of God, - a prelude to the final judgment when God will come again in Glory and overthrown all man's attempts at kingdom.
This chapter covers events which happened on one night. Already defeated by the Medo-persians, Belshazzar is holed up in his fortress, besieged by the armies of Cyrus, under General Darius.
In telling this story, without any visual props or teaching aids, you are being presented a real challenge.
Here is a tale full of atmosphere and charged with tension. There is a lot of dramatic elements that will call upon skillful use of storytelling techniques.
You will want to spent a lot of time with this story.
"Allow time each day over a period of at least 2 to 3 weeks to make a new story your own."
"Live with your story until the characters and setting become as real to you as people and places you know. You must know it so well that it can be told as if it were a personal reminiscence."
"Visualize the happenings as though you were seeing and experiencing them. Imagine sounds, tastes, scents, colors. Only when you see the story vividly yourself can you make your audience see it."
"Read the story from beginning to end several times, first for pleasure, then with concentration. Analyze its' appeal, the word pictures you want your listeners to see, the mood you wish to create."
"Learn the story as a whole rather than in fragments. Master the structure of the story. Perceive the story line:
"Note how the action starts, how it accelerates, how and where the transitions occur. Note sequences of names and events."
"Master the style of the story. To retain the original flavor and vigor, memorize rhymes of characteristic phrases which recur throughout the story. Observe the sentence structure, phrases, unusual words and expressions. "
But in the end it is most important that you should tell it in your own words with sincerity and gravity.
Practice, practice, practice!!
[Quotes from Baker and Greene, Storytelling: Art and Technique, pp. 43-49]
Ironically he was frightened by what he didn't know, when he should have been concerned by what he did know. The final tragedy is that he failed to fear God even when judgment lay at his gates. The point of this story is that we have good reason to be frightened as sinners because of God's coming judgment. It is foolishness to not repent and seek forgiveness. Judgment will come. The sin of Belshazzar is focused in the story on the image of the misuse of the Temple cups. His mocking use of them is the symbol of his setting himself up against God.
The tension builds with the hand "writing" Who wrote it! What does it say! Why! The king's fright adds to the suspense. The magnificent offer made, but unclaimed, the remembering and search for a forgotten "wise man", heightens the tension further. Daniel's refusal of the king's honors sets up a grave tone for the interpretation. This is bad news! The account of what God did to Nebuchadnezer builds this tone further. "You knew this! but you misused the Lord's cups"
The climax is in understanding those mysterious words. Taken literally - "Your days are numbered. You are weighed and found wanting. Your kingdom is divided."