“He should have seen the writing on the wall.” This expression refers to clear evidence—evidence that was ignored—of a bad or dramatic event about to happen. This connection between impending doom and writing on a wall traces all the way back to the Bible, to a miraculous event in the life of Daniel the prophet, and to one of the most important turning points in all of history.
This was back at a time when the Jewish people were in exile in Babylon, one of the lowest moments in their history. The depth of their despair is captured in the opening verse of Psalm 137: “By the rivers of Babylon—there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion” (Psa. 137:1). Their exile meant the end of Israel’s existence as an independent kingdom, the end of their national sovereignty, and the end of their personal freedom. It looked very much like the final chapter in God’s special relationship with the Jewish people.