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This is part one of a special two-part episode. Do you feel like you're on a religious treadmill? Do you feel like Christianity is just a system of rules and regulations?
I can do this, but I can't do that. Do you feel like your efforts to reach God, find God, and please God are futile? Do you feel like your faith is dead or alive? Today, Pastor Russ Andrews will walk us through Scripture to answer these questions. Join us on Finding Purpose, glorifying God by helping men find their purpose for living.
For more information and to connect with Russ Andrews and Finding Purpose, you can visit us online at findingpurpose.net or connect with us on Facebook. Now, let's listen to Russ Andrews as he teaches us how to be a Christian without being religious. I've entitled this morning's message, When a Nation Dishonors God, subtitled, I'm in the titles by the way, When God's Patience Runs Out. We're going to be looking at Daniel chapter 5.
If you want to go and take your Bibles and open up there. Now, last week, for those of you who are here, you may remember that Grant gave an incredible message about the honor of God. He discussed about how we are to live a life to honor God because He is our Creator and He is our Sustainer.
Now, think about that just for a moment. God created each one of us. He breathed life into us. And not only did He create you and me, but He is the one who sustains each one of us every moment of every day.
Moreover, He is the one who holds the entire universe together. He causes the sun to shine upon us. He sends the rain when we need it to nourish the earth.
He's blessed us with rain recently, hasn't He? So, He's provided everything that we need for life and happiness. Now, He's also the one who establishes how we are to live. In other words, how we are to honor Him with our lives. And He has told us how to do this by giving us commands, precepts, and laws that we are to live by for both our spiritual health and our physical well-being. We are to obey them to listen, not solely out of duty, but mainly because we love Him. When we think about His grace and His mercy and what He did for us, how can we not obey Him? This is why He created us, to be in an intimate, personal relationship with Him, to love Him, and to worship Him.
Every human being that has been created was created with that purpose in God's mind, to love Him, to honor Him, just like you want your children to love you and honor you. And so, as our Creator, we owe God our full allegiance. But unfortunately, we are a people who at one time or another, all of us, have rebelled against God and gone our own way.
Isaiah 53 says, we all, like sheep, have gone astray. Each of us has turned to his own way, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. So what is God's response when we rebel against Him? Well, He lets us do what we want to. He lets us go our own way. He gives us over to our own selfish, evil desires. Now, I want you to understand this truth, because this is not, you know, an easy message to list to. I'm going to warn you.
But I want you all to keep this in your mind as you hear what I've got to say this morning. God is long suffering. He is patient. But His patience has a limit. At some point, God says enough. At some point, God's patience runs out. This inevitably happens when a nation continues in open rebellion and defiance against the very laws and commands that He's told us to live by. Then God has no choice but to judge us. Moreover, and you can see this all throughout Scripture, God will send judgments against any nation when that nation continues in open rebellion, when that nation continually defies His laws, and when that nation mocks Him by its actions. And sadly, and this grieves my heart, this is what I see in our country today. As you look across our landscape at what is happening in our cities, in our schools, in our government, and even in many of our churches, we are observing the judgments of God against a nation that has been given so much.
We've been blessed more than any nation since the beginning of creation, have we not? Bernard of Cluny, who lived in the middle of the 12th century, wrote a poem entitled Deux Contemptus Mundi. That's French, in case you didn't recognize my French accent. It means the contempt of the world. And the theme of this very long poem, which is 3,000 lines, which I'm not going to read this morning, but the theme of it is expressed in the opening lines of one of the stanzas, and it goes like this.
It's in your outline. The world is evil. The times are waxing late. Be sober and keep vigil.
The judge is at the gate. Even though this poem was written in 1140 AD, I believe that it's pertinent to our day. Without a doubt, the world we live in is evil.
All you have to do is watch the news. The times are waxing late, and I personally believe it's time for us as Christians to be more than ever sober and keep vigil, because I do believe the judge is at the gate. Now listen, the world does not want to hear any talk about the judgment of God, and you probably didn't wake up this morning thinking, gosh, I would really like to hear something about the judgment of God. But, and here's the other thing, most churches rarely, if ever, mention the judgment of God, do they? Most churches, particularly the modern church, paint a picture of God as a mild, grandfatherly figure who simply dotes over his children, but that is not a correct biblical view of God.
J.I. Packer, in his excellent book entitled Knowing God, writes, quote, why do men fight shy of the thought of God as a judge? Why do they feel the thought to be unworthy of him? The truth is that part of God's moral perfection is his perfection in judgment. Would a God, listen, would a God who did not care about the difference between right and wrong be a good and admirable being?
Would he? Would a God who put no distinction between the beast of history, the Hitler's and the Stalin's, if we name any, and his own saints be morally praiseworthy and perfect? Moral indifference would be an imperfection of God, not a perfection, but not to judge the world would be to show moral indifference. The final proof that God is a perfect moral being, not indifferent to questions of right and wrong, is the fact that he has committed himself to judge the world. I think everybody's born with this idea within our DNA that at some point we're gonna have to give an account of our lives.
Would y'all agree with that? It's just in our DNA, even an atheist. Deep down inside, he knows it. Acts 17 31 says, for he, this is God, the Father has set a day when he would judge the world with justice by the man, notice it's a man, the God-man, he's appointed. He's given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead. So whenever you think about the resurrection, you can think about this truth. The fact that there was a resurrection according to scripture means that God is going to judge the world one day.
That's why there had to be a resurrection, because there had to be a cross. Now this morning, I want to mention three realities. First, judgment is already here. Second, the final judgment is coming.
And third, there's good news, because God has provided a way of escape. You see, when Jesus came into the world, and you all know this, he came for one purpose. He came to die for the sins of the world. In other words, Jesus was born to die. Why did he have to die? Why did he have to die? Because God is just, and he must judge sin. He has no other choice. Not to judge sin would be for God to go against his own character, and he can't do that.
It's impossible for him. Now the Bible also makes it very clear, and this is my favorite aspect about God, this is what I'd rather talk about, is that he's a God of love, and I want you children to hear this. He's a God of love and grace and mercy. In fact, the Bible says that God delights in showing mercy. Micah 7 18 and 19, two of my favorite verses in the entire Bible say, who is a God like you?
It's almost hard to understand. How can he forgive us when he sees what we're doing? Who is a God like you who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever, but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us. You will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. If you're in Christ, all of your sins and all of your iniquities have been cast into the depths of the sea. How good is that? And here's the good news, even with America, God still loves the world so much that he provided a way of escape from this coming day of judgment, and that way of escape is what?
It's in your outline. The cross, that's a God's escape door. But here's the deal, if anyone refuses to come to the cross where Jesus hung in our place, then one day and perhaps very soon that person will face God's judgment all alone. John writes in Revelation 14 7, fear God and give him glory because the hour of his judgment has come.
We know from history that God judges the world by just reading the Bible. During the days of Noah, God's patience ran out and God sent the flood. During the days of Sodom and Gomorrah, God's patience ran out and God sent hail, fire, and brimstone from heaven. And one day, I believe this, and perhaps soon, God's patience is going to run out one final time. And I believe that's what will usher in the second coming. Basically, when God says enough and he sends his son back to bring this evil world to an end, you want to know, well, why does God not bring evil to an end? Because of his grace and mercy.
If he brought it to an end, nobody would get saved tomorrow. And have you ever thought about this? God sees all the evil that's taking place 24 7. We see just a fraction of it. I mean, we see like one millionth of one percent. He sees everything.
Everything that's taking place in New York City right now. Everything that's taking place in all around the world right now, he sees it. This morning, we're going to examine Daniel chapter 5. It's an amazing chapter. In Daniel 5, we see a nation, Babylon, that totally dishonored God.
And God's patience ran out with a particular king whose name was Belshazzar. So if you have your Bible, just turn on me to Daniel chapter 5. I'm going to begin reading this beginning at verse 1. I'm going to read the entire chapter.
It's a very interesting story. We read here in verse 1, it says, very interesting story. We read here in verse 1, King Belshazzar gave a great banquet for a thousand of his nobles and drank wine with them. While, now catch this, while Belshazzar was drinking his wine, he gave orders to bring in the, I won't add the word holy here because they were, the holy gold and silver goblets that Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken from the temple in Jerusalem so that the king and his nobles, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them. When King Nebuchadnezzar defeated the southern kingdom of Judah around 600 BC, he brought back all the golden instruments that were in the temple, and he brought them back to Babylon. Verse 3, so they brought in the gold goblets that had been taken from the temple of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his nobles, his wives, and his concubines drank from them.
As they drank the wine, they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone. Then suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote. His face turned pale, and he was so frightened that his knees knocked together and his legs gave way. The king then called out for the enchanters, the astrologers, and diviners to be brought and said to these wise men of Babylon, whoever reads this writing and tells me what it means will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around his neck, and he'll be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom. Then all the wise men came in, but they could not read the writing or tell the king or tell the king what it meant. So King Belshazzar became even more terrified, and his face grew more pale, and his nobles were baffled.
And then the queen, who was awfully not present, hearing the voices of the king and his nobles, came into the banquet hall. O king, live forever, she said. Don't be alarmed.
Don't look so pale. Now I want you all to think about what I'm getting ready to read, and tell me if the world will recognize this about you. Verse 11, there's a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods in him. In the time of your father, he was found to have insight and intelligence and wisdom like that of the gods. King Nebuchadnezzar, your father, your father the king, I say, appointed him chief of the magicians, enchanters, astrologers, and diviners. This man Daniel, whom the king called Belteshazzar, not to be confused with Belshazzar. This was Daniel's Babylonian name. Remember when they brought them from Judah?
They changed their names. They tried to feed them their diet. They tried to indoctrinate them into the Babylonian culture, and Daniel, Shadrach, and Amishak would not do that. This man Daniel was found to have a keen mind and knowledge and understanding, and also the ability to interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve difficult problems. Call for Daniel, and he will tell you what the writing means.
So Daniel was brought before the king, and the king said to him, are you Daniel, one of the exiles my father the king brought from Judah? I've heard that the spirit of the gods is in you, and that you have insight, intelligence, and outstanding wisdom. The wise men and enchanters were brought before me to read this writing and tell me what it means, but they could not explain it.
Now I've heard that you are able to give interpretations and to solve difficult problems. If you can read this writing and tell me what it means, you'll be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around your neck, and you'll be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom. Right here what I'm getting ready to read explains to you why so many people named their sons Daniel. Oh, to be a Daniel. Then Daniel answered the king, you may keep your gifts for yourself and give your rewards to someone else. Nevertheless, I will read the writing for the king.
Tell him what it means. Verse 18, no king, the most high god, gave your father Nebuchadnezzar, sovereignty and greatness and glory and power. I want you all to picture Daniel standing there before that entire party that was getting drunk. Because of the high position he gave him, all the peoples and nations and men of every language dreaded and feared him. Those the king wanted to put to death, he put to death. Those he wanted to spare, he spared. Those he wanted to promote, he promoted, and those he wanted to humble, he humbled. But when his heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and stripped of his glory. He was driven away from people and given the mind of an animal.
He lived with the wild donkeys and ate grass like cattle, and his body was drenched with the dew of heavens. Notice this word, until he acknowledged that the most high god is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and sets over them anyone he wishes. And right here, beginning with verse 22, you see a man who has no fear when he knows God is with him.
He's addressing the king who could have him killed. He says, but you, his son of Belshazzar, have not humbled yourself, though you knew all this. Instead, you have set yourself up against the Lord of heaven. You had the goblets from his temple brought to you, and you and your nobles, your wives, and your concubines drank wine from them. You praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which cannot see or hear or understand.
Do you think we do this today? But you did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways. Therefore, he sent the hand that wrote this the inscription. By the way, when I read that about that he sent the hand that wrote the inscription. Can you remember another time when God wrote in the sand?
How about John chapter 8, when they brought in the woman caught in the act of adultery threw at the feet of Jesus. What's the first thing he did? He took his hand and he wrote in the sand. This is the inscription that was written, many, many, tekel, parson. And this is what these words mean, many. God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end. Tekel, you have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.
Peres, by the way that's singular for parson. Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians. Then at Belshazzar's command, Daniel was clothed in purple, a gold chain was placed around his neck, and he was proclaimed the third highest ruler in the kingdom.
That very night, Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians, was slain and Darius the me took over the kingdom at the age of 62. I want you to listen and listen carefully. When a nation so dishonors God and refuses to repent, that nation should expect the imminent judgment of God. It's basically asking God to judge us.
And that's what we're doing. Has this ever happened before? Well, in Genesis chapter 15, God explained to Abraham that he was going to form a nation from his offspring. Hopefully you know the story. Moreover, God told Abraham that his descendants would be enslaved in a foreign land for how many years?
400. And as you know, that happened in Egypt under Pharaoh. At the end of that time, God told Abraham that he was going to rescue him and the Israelites, that would be his descendants, in the land of Egypt and bring them back to the promised land which at the current time was occupied by the Amorites, also known as the Canaanites. And here's the main question. Why was God going to take the land away from the Amorites and give it to the Israelites? Weren't they just innocent bystanders?
No. Genesis 15, 16 explains in the fourth generation, your descendants, talking again to Abraham, will come back here. For the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.
Did y'all hear that? The sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure. What does this tell you about God? It tells you that he is watching and measuring sin. The whole time the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt, God was watching and measuring the sin of the Amorites and he gave them plenty of time to repent.
Plenty of time, but they refused. Psalm 33 verses 13 through 15 says, from heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind, from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth, who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do. As America continues to dishonor the name of God, I want you to remember this, he is watching and measuring our sin. God gave the land of the Amorites to the descendants of Abraham because the sin of the Amorites was so egregious.
The boundary line between God's patience and his wrath was crossed. But I want you to notice that as I just said, he gave them 400 years to repent in spite of what they were doing. Do you know what they were doing for 400 years? They worshiped many false gods. Sound familiar? They practiced the horrible ritual of child sacrifice.
Sound familiar? They participated in religious prostitution, sorcery, and witchcraft and God's patience finally ran out. Babylon was just as evil. Thus on October 12th, 539 BC, King Cyrus's army advanced against the city of Babylon. And guess what?
Belshazzar knew that the Medes and the Persians were encamped around the city, but he wasn't worried. He thought he was untouchable. After all, the city walls were too high to climb. Some of them were over 300 feet high. Can you imagine that? They were too numerous. And there were numerous defense towers.
The walls were so broad that several chariots could be driven abreast of each other on top of the wall. And to show his lack of concern, Bill Chaswell said, well, let's just celebrate. We'll have a party. I'm not worried about them. They can't get to us.
We're untouchable. And it was no small party. Commentated John Phillips describes the setting. The dining room was enormous. Reportedly 1,650 feet wide and a mile long. Some 4,400 pillars in the form of giant elephants were part of the walls. These elephants were carved out of stone and stood 20 feet high.
The tables were fashioned in the form of horseshoes. You can picture the Lords of Babylon were sat down with their wives and their concubines and their concubines and they were eating and drinking as trained peacocks aerated in gold and silver harnesses pulled carts of rich food around. From the adjoining gardens, an enormous choir and orchestra provided music and entertainment.
Some of you may be aware that the hanging gardens of Babylon weren't considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It was a very rich nation. Sound familiar? This was a gala affair. All the dignitaries were dressed in their finest and toasting one another with the golden goblets that had been taken from God's holy temple and everyone was partying and laughing the night away and yet no one knew that judgment was at hand. Just like our country and our world today. God is still watching.
He's still measuring sin. In Matthew 24 verses 37 through 39, Jesus says, as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be at the coming of the Son of Man. For the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage.
Up to the day Noah entered the ark and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all the way. A flood was waiting outside the city walls of Babylon and that flood was the Medo-Persian army. As the revelry of the party climax, Belshazzar had a thought, well let's bring in the gold and silver goblets from the temple of the Jews and drink from them.
And that's what they did. And listen, through this act, you know what he was doing? He was declaring that the gods of Babylon were greater than the God of the Jews. And as they drank, they mocked God and they ridiculed the Lord of Heaven and they held the gods made with hands. But God will not be mocked. Galatians 6 says, do not be deceived. God cannot be deceived. God cannot be mocked.
A man reaps what he sows. So out of the darkness of the night, the hand of God appeared and wrote four words on the wall. Many, many tackled Parson. Belshazzar was terrified. His face turned pale. He did what all unbelievers do. He called for worldly men to help them with a spiritual problem. Now listen, if you have a spiritual problem, do not go to someone who is not indwelt by the Holy Spirit for any counsel or advice. Psychology is the study of the soul. Who created the soul? God. If you choose to go to a psychiatrist or a counselor, which is fine, make sure they know Jesus so that he can give you counsel from God's word that will nourish your soul.
The wisdom of the world is passing away. Being a Christian is not about being religious, but about having a dynamic, alive relationship with Jesus Christ. You've been listening to Finding Purpose with Pastor Russ Andrews, glorifying God by helping men find their purpose for living. You can discover more about finding your purpose in life by checking out the resources at findingpurpose.net or connect to Finding Purpose on Facebook. Pastor Russ would also like to extend a special invitation for you to join him and over 300 other local men to study God's Word together every Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in downtown Raleigh. Find out more at findingpurpose.net.
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