One of the Bible’s best-known stories, that of King Belshazzar’s terror from the “handwriting on the wall,” is an example of the importance of teaching young people about God, ministers say.

The Revs. Mario Martinez, Bill Hutto and Steve White say Belshazzar was overthrown and killed by Persians in 539 B.C. in part because he had used sacred cups in a drunken party.

As detailed in Chapter Five of the Book of Daniel, the Rev. Martinez said, the grandson of King Nebuchadnezzar “literally destroyed the Babylonian kingdom with his ego and godlessness.

“Nebuchadnezzar had been made to eat grass like an ox for seven years and he realized near the end of his life that Jehovah was the only God,” the Genesis Christian Church pastor said. “Nebuchadnezzar had brought the instruments made for the sanctuary in the temple of Jerusalem, but he never used them.

“Belshazzar used them to drink wine in the middle of a party and that’s when God sent the hand and the handwriting on the wall, ‘Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin,’ to say God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end, you have been weighed on the scales and found wanting and your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.

“We as Christians have to be careful to pass down the fear of God to our children and grandchildren to guarantee that future generations will be the people of God,” Martinez said. “This country was built on Godly principles and if we don’t teach our younger generation, one of these days we will be exactly like Babylon and our country will go down the drain.”

The Rev. Hutto, pastor of Sunset Heights Baptist Church, said Belshazzar “felt like he was invincible while his enemies blocked off the water and walked under the wall where the water would have been that night.

“Daniel served under three or four kings in his life and no one else was able to interpret the writing because it was in no known language at the time,” Hutto said. “The only reason that Daniel was able to was that God told him what it meant.

“We’re not given a lot about Belshazzar. We see him at the party scene and boom, he’s history. He would have known Nebuchadnezzar’s story, but he didn’t take God seriously because that’s what pride does to you.”

The Rev. White said Belshazzar “was a party animal who had been spoiled by success.

“He had had it too easy,” said White, former pastor of the First United Methodist Church in Monahans and now pastor of the First United Methodist Churches in Alpine and Marfa. “They were having a big party and were running out of fancy cups, so after drinking toasts to the gods of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood and stone, he said, ‘Get those over there!’

“He was drunk and the handwriting was uncanny and supernatural. He didn’t have his king’s face on. He was terrified and turned pale. He called all his wise men and got even more scared when they couldn’t figure it out. His wife said, ‘Here is a guy who can figure this out and we ought to go look him up.’

“Belshazzar had pushed Daniel out of court and didn’t have him as an advisor anymore. Daniel came and said, ‘Of course, I can tell you what it says.’”