The writing on the wall at Belshazzar’s banquet teaches us what it means to deny ourselves and enter the narrow gate. The first word, mene, signifies the sinner’s condition: though he thought he could dethrone God and be in charge of his own life, God will finally put an end to this stolen sovereignty. Tekel signifies the reckoning at the final judgment of the areas of our life that we shaved off and gave to the enemy, darkness, or casualness. Parsin represents hell.
Because we’ve all shaved off and stolen from God, the only way to not be found wanting at the judgment is to buy gold tried in the fire. Outward obedience and trying hard will never get us there–that is a system of works. Instead, to pass through the narrow gate is to deny our own sense of ability and any personal agenda, fully give ourselves to Jesus, and receive his righteousness. This act of faith causes a great groaning in our souls as our inner rebellion and wickedness cry out against crucifixion. Will you, like Nebuchadnezzar, humble your heart before the mighty God of heaven? Or, like Belshazzar, will you spend your last day on earth partying with the holy things of God?