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Divine Graffiti: The End of an Empire

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
July 14, 2021 4:00 am

Divine Graffiti: The End of an Empire

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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This chapter becomes for us a powerful look at what causes the end of an empire. The first scene in the chapter is an orgy in the midst of the orgy is the awesome intervention of God pronounces doom on the whole empire and I believe that all civilization follows the very same pattern in eyesore something that should be covered over, but there was one some writing on the wall that not even the most powerful king in the world could remove as we continue our study of the rise and fall of world powers today on grace to you. John MacArthur presents a fascinating lesson with an equally intriguing title divine graffiti. The end of an empire. It's a story about the Old Testament. He wrote Daniel King Belshazzar and well some ominous graffiti and as you will see those words barrel warning for nations today and really for each of us as well. So turn to the book of Daniel and here's John as we come to Daniel chapter 5. These 31 amazing and marvelous insightful verses we see the end of an empire. In fact the end of the most glorious empire of the times of the Gentiles the great Babylonian Empire.

We see the movement from the head of gold is the image in chapter 2 indicated to the breast and the arms of silver, which indicate the Medo Persians who followed the Babylonians. This great transition takes place at the close of this, the fifth chapter as we begin our study, let me remind you of the verse in Ezekiel 1820.

It says this the soul that Senate.

It shall guy the soul that Senate, it shall die. And this chapter is a vivid commentary on that verse.

Sin brings debt in the life of an individual in the life of a nation and an empire.

The Babylonian empire was once the glorious head of gold.

The crown of the times of the Gentiles, but it had gradually deteriorated. It had gradually entered a state of debauchery, a state of degeneration until the hour of its doom is finally pronounced suddenly and totally in the Medo Persian army sweeps in and it is the end of a great and historic era.

This chapter becomes for us a powerful look at what causes the end of an empire. What causes something is great and magnificent as wealthy and as far-reaching as militarily mighty as the Babylonian empire to fall. The first scene in the chapter is an orgy is filled with desecration blasphemy, evil acts that history would describe for us, but I would not assault your brain with such a description in the midst of the orgy is the awesome intervention of God pronounces doom on the whole empire in a few hours. That doom comes in. I believe that all civilization follows the very same pattern. It rises to its heights. At its height is filled with pride in the midst of its pride and self-indulgence and materialism. It begins to descend into degeneration of debauchery and evil and as it descends, it comes closer and closer to its destruction. In Psalm nine verse 17 it says the wicked shall be turned to hell and all the nations that forget God.

The doom of the nation's spell when it forgets God. So the Empire fell in one night.

The end came in. Daniel gives us the record, I want to look at the chapter into perspectives.

First, the account and then the application first, the account just the historical record, and then its application and on the account. We tried to break it down so you can see the flow of the text. First is the scene in verses 1 to 4. Let's look that verse one Bell Shatzer, the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords. There immediately are introduced to name Bill Chesser. This name sets the scene who is he were to come from. When did he live.

When did he rule for years and years.

The critic says Daniel is wrong because there is no Bell Shatzer until something was found which archaeologists call the NABA night us cylinder and in it is a record of Bell Shatzer. Just as Daniel said he was young, 36 years old about he was decadent he was dissolute, it was idolatrous. It was immoral. He was in pious, he was unworthy, but he was the ruler who sat in the seat of royalty and babble in the night it fell 70 years of past since Daniel chapter 170 years since Daniel and his friends were taken captive. Daniel is in the teenager anymore is in his 80s 23 years of happen since chapter 4 ended the great breaking of Nebuchadnezzar and his recognition of the true God. So a lot has happened. For one thing, Nebuchadnezzar has died after 43 years of raining seven of them in insanity like an animal. But after 43 years and 562 BC he died. Now Daniel doesn't record for us anything between Nebuchadnezzar and bells as Nebuchadnezzar's mention in verse 37 of chapter 4 and Bell Shatzer was introduced in chapter 5, and we have nothing in between. But history fills it in for us very clearly and there are several records of this after Nebuchadnezzar died, the Empire began to decline. He was followed by his son, whose name was Abel, Marmaduke, and by the way these kings have couple of different names. They seem to be changing names according to whatever gods they identified with, but his name was Amel Marmaduke. He was the son of Nebuchadnezzar.

The only rain for two years. The reason he only ran for two years was because he was assassinated. The Bible mentions him as a man named evil Morel deck was the same as Amel Marmaduke is mentioned in second Kings 25 and in Jeremiah 52 is one who released you hearken from prison and gave him a place of privilege in the Babylonian court so he figures in the biblical record in the Martic only lasted two years and as I said it was assassinated by his own brother-in-law's brother-in-law's name was NARA glycerin, like a medicine that was his brother-in-law and he ruled for four years. He is mentioned in Jeremiah 39, under the name of NARA gal Charisse or he was an official under Nebuchadnezzar, who apparently was involved in helping Jeremiah be released from prison, so it will Martic lasted two years, NARA Glaser at lasted for years. He died and was succeeded by his son.

I can imagine anybody naming his son this but his little boy who only rain nine months and was just the child was named Libby she Marmaduke just calling him would be a linguistic problem would be she, Marmaduke only lasted nine months is a little boy because he was beaten to death by conspirators in the kingdom. Waning one of the conspirators appointed NABA night us as King and NABA night's rain 17 years NABA night us was finally defeated by Cyrus was the leader of the Medes and the Persian Cyrus who came in and conquered the Babylonian Empire.

Now whenever night's was appointed as monarch he was not related to Nebuchadnezzar so we didn't have a right to the royal line and so he was the king but he was apparently very intimidated by trying to hold onto that royal position in not being a member of Nebuchadnezzar's family. So as best we can tell, he married either, the widow of Nebuchadnezzar or one of his daughters and therefore he married into the royal family and this daughter of Nebuchadnezzar, or more likely the one of the windows of Nebuchadnezzar had a son named Bell Shatzer so that Belshazzar was in Nebuchadnezzar's line remaining child to not lay claim to the throne. And so it not been assassinated. And so it is most likely, then the NABA night us in order to secure his position married in the Nebuchadnezzar's family by marrying one of his widows and then adopting the sun Bell Shatzer.

He was still intimidated so amazingly, he moved the R his palace, or the place of his dwelling clear down to a in an area known as steam in the middle of Arabia. I it was clear across the Arabian desert from babble days and days and perhaps weeks to make the journey and for 14 years of his 17 years. He never set his foot in the city of Babylon. Now, in order to hold onto the power and babble, and he appointed Bell Shatzer, who had the line of royalty as cocaine, coal region, so Bell Shatzer occupied the throne and babbling and he just went down and Fatima and they took care of him, almost like he was in exile. The amazing thing about NABA night us is that he was not a bad man apart from the fact that he worship false gods. I mean in character. He in fact was a very deeply religious man, he rebuilt a very special temple to his own God. He rebuilt all kinds of religious centers and religious rights were instituted under his reign. He appears to be a totally non-warring King wasn't very interested in that at all. By the way, this whole picture has been verified again and again in historic writings. He was probably the most capable King next to Nebuchadnezzar he came from a priestly lineage. He was a man of peace. He was a man of conviction. He was a man of capability but Cyrus Marcus Cyrus the king of the Medes and the Persians was eating up the world and the Medes and the Persians were just crawling across the countryside and they met NABA night us and his forces outside the city of Babylon. Out in the wilderness of the Babylonian empire and they destroyed the whole army of NABA night us and they took him captive. This is in a place called Corsica and worship is somewhat south of babble, and maybe 50 miles.

That's where the battle happened and he was taken captive.

He was exiled to a special place known as car mania until he died, and never again did he see babble when we begin chapter 5 NABA night is has been defeated the Medes and the Persians literally surround the entire city of babble there everywhere, and depending on which historian you take. They had already been besieging the city of Babylon either two months. Some say three months. Some say and four months. One historian said so Bell she has arisen Babylon and all around them is the seeds from the Medes and the Persians who have exiled his adoptive father destroyed his army and are doing all they can to cut off the city of babble. Now as you pick up the story in chapter 5 we meet Bell Shatzer.

This adopted son of NABA night us the defect okay now who sits on the throne and babbling and it says he made a great feast to a thousand of his lords and drank wine before the thousand he sat up on elevated deal where kings would sit and he drank Bell. She has her while he tasted the wine commanded to bring the gold and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem that the king and his princes, his wives and his concubines might drink from them now. It's hard to conceive that the guy could be that stupid to get a drunken orgy going while the city is in rapt by the Medo Persians but Babylon was so formidable, you realize the city supposedly was 15 mi.. According to Herodotus. Herodotus says if the walls were 87 feet thick. That's sick folks and there were 100 massive bronze gates and they had no problem with water because the Euphrates River flowed right through the middle of the city. What they have to fear they had all gone for so Bell Shatzer got up on his dealing sitting up there above all of the thousand of his lords were gathered for the big feast.

He started really bringing the wine and it says in verse two that while he tasted the wine implication there is that he became drunk. He called for the gold and silver vessels which his father taken out of the temple in Jerusalem when Nebuchadnezzar first took captives from Jerusalem in order to show them that his gods. The gods of babble and were more powerful than the God of Israel.

He desecrated the temple he took all of the gold and silver vessels that were in the temple used by the priest and he hauled him off the babble and he put them in a special place in the house of his own deities. This was his way of showing his people that their God was stronger than Israel and showing Israel that their God was stronger to and apparently these vessels had sat in this place. All this time and now Bell Shatzer in the midst of his drunken stupor is going to really mock the God of Israel. One great last time and so I just bring all that stuff that is representative of the God of Israel and were going to drink out of it an act of desecration and blasphemy openly defying the God of Israel.

Now he he wasn't totally uninformed. He knew the God of Israel. He knew history about Nebuchadnezzar.

He knew the God of Israel had made Nebuchadnezzar a raving maniac for seven years. He knew how the God of Israel been able through.

Daniel is profit to reveal dreams and visions. You know the God of Israel was a great and glorious God. But in the midst of his paganism and finally he decided to mock this God and he knew that such an act was totally blasphemous.

He knew it. Later on when he has a conversation with Daniel in this chapter he talks to Daniel and he admits who Daniel is and he knows about Judaism and he knows what Daniel came from into the whole story.

This was a flagrant mocking of God and to make it as blasphemous as possible. He takes those things that came out of the temple of God and he uses them as a part of his drunken debauchery. He challenged God and you want to know some God accepted the challenge.

He threw down the got so to God. I want you to know what happened in verse three and they brought the golden vessels were taken out of the temple of the house of God which was at Jerusalem and the king and his princes and his wives and his concubines drank from a drank wine and praised the gods of gold and silver and bronze and iron and wood and stone.

See the descending therefrom.

The most precious gold out of the most worthless tone. He says all other deities from the gold ones to the rocks. They praised their gods they used those utensils set apart for the true God in the worship of false gods and you could just see the picture drunkenness everywhere in orgy with the concubines, the wives everyone there being drunken and in their worship.

Canaanite is worship very similar to this in that kind of worship. There were sexual atrocities that are beyond description perversions you think people today have invented group sex and you haven't read your history in terms of biblical times. This was all going on in the midst of it, the desecration and the mockery of the God of Israel is that use these utensils. Music went along with it as well. They were all engulfed in orgy.

That's the scene.

Secondly, the sign verse five like a lightning bolt from these words in the same hour came forth fingers of a man's hand and rolled over against the lampstand upon the plaster of the wall of the king's palace and the king saw the part of the hand and wrote. Now imagine this in the midst of all the revelry at the same hour. God said the cup of wrath is full, as he had said to those at the time of the flood, my spirit will not always strive with man. My patience is ended and immediately and suddenly and swiftly. When the orgy was at its apex hand appeared not even hand really but fingers just whatever was necessary to hold whatever instrument was used to write supernaturally in the drinking and the singing and the feasting stopped and the loud mouths were slammed shut deathly silence and fear fell like a pall over the whole group. You'll notice it says in verse five that it was against the lampstand and the place where the lampstand would be illuminating. This wall that's where the hand of the fingers begin to write. Where could be seen best and by the way, lampstands were usually placed for the lighting, the brightest lighting at the point where the king sat because he was the crown of the occasion is very likely that is the king sat with the lampstand in his presence right over his head. Those fingers rode across that plaster wall supernaturally. The archaeologist called away who excavated babbling, says that in their excavation of the palace of Babel and from the time of Bell Shatzer. They found in the palace, a large room 55 feet wide and 169 feet long. That's along it's a large building. It had says called away.

It had plaster walls not amazing is what the Bible said wrote on the plaster and the place they found that plaster walls and it also had, says the archaeologist, a niche in one wall where they believe the king sat elevated, and with a niche in the wall so he would be central so in that very setting, came the fingers and they wrote for six and the king's countenance was changed and his thoughts troubled him. That's a mild statement the next would help you to understand how much the joints of his loins were loosed in his niece mode one against another, his face changed all of a sudden the flesh red face that's been warmed by the wind and the drink in the revelry and the emotion in the food and all the perversion it's going on turns to an action white is troubled. Didn't seem to be too troubled by a natural fall outside the gate but it was pretty well troubled by a supernatural foe inside the palace, fingers writing on the wall sheer terror group that man's heart is face paled the joints of his loins, literally the word is not and it speaks of hip joints or joints of bones, particularly in the loin area would be the hips. All of his strength left and he couldn't stand up and his knees started to collapse.

By the way, name 210 uses the same expression is niece smote against each other. This demonstrates how fearful the man was. He was shaking but that's prophetic because in Hagy. I 27 God says I will shake all nations in the desire of all nations shall come, God shook one nation, then and someday God will shake all are accustomed to in the be a whole lot a ruler standing with her knees begging to get Zephaniah writes about the same thing in the first chapter of how God is going to come someday into this world and there will be a day of wrath, a day of trouble. A day of distress, a day of waste and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness a day of the trumpet and alarm against the fortified cities in the high towers and I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they sinned against the Lord and their blood should be poured out like dust in their flesh like tongue and neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the Lord's wrath. But the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy and he shall make a speedy riddance of all those who dwell in the land.

That's the day when Christ returns. But here is a little preliminary shaking. This is grace to you with John MacArthur.

Thanks for being with us.

John's current study is looking at God's sovereign control over nations, even the most powerful ones. It's titled the rise and fall of world powers. John as you spoke about the wrath of the Lord and his fiery destruction. Today it occurred to me that this is pretty far from what we normally hear today, I think in most people's eyes. There's a deafening silence where God is concerned, is there really going to come a day when the Lord shows his hand in a worldwide unmistakable way. Well, of course, there is because that's pretty clear in the Bible and if them and that was that. That is, the scoffers query in Jim Peter's epistle here where he says so you know where is it where is this coming, all things continue as they were from the beginning right. That was their argument and and Peter answered by saying, did you forget that God destroyed the entire earth and drowned the entire human race in the flood, so Peter uses the flood as evidence that God judges and judges in a colossal massive worldwide way. As he did in the flood. So from the standpoint of the weather or not God's judgment is coming in the future.

You have the flood to show that short of the flood of all kinds of judgments you have judgments throughout the Old Testament that are enacted in only been many different places in many different times offer the same thing on belief in sin and you have Jesus from his own mouth standing and looking at the temple, and saying it's coming down it's going to come down and this nations coming down with it and he's pronouncing essentially judgment that ended up in the bloodshed and disaster of the Roman invasion. 70 A.D. so we have history that shows us that God judges the prophet said he would judge and historically those judgments came, Jesus pronounced judgments on cities chorus in Bethsaida, Capernaum, and that judgment fell most places don't exist today so 20 of history to indicate that there's going to be judgment with the uniqueness of the final judgment compared to the flood is that the flood God drowned the world and then consider rainbow in the sky to promise he would never do that again. But when he does judge again. It won't be water it will be fire and that is a kind of judgment that you see played out in the book of Revelation and all the way to the end. Peter even talks about the elements melding with a fervent heat that's the atomic implosion when this whole universe was out of existence. And there's a new heaven and new earth.

All of that is the touchstone of the book of Revelation and II want to remind you that I put together a little booklet that takes you through the whole book of Revelation and you can follow the complete flow of the book.

It's called a jet tour through revelation.

All you have to do is ask for a copy is free to anyone who asks and do ask friend, you can know exactly what's ahead and why it matters for you today to get a free copy of the jet tour through Revelation booklet. Contact us now our toll-free number 855 grace or you can go to the website Jide jet tour through Revelation unlocks scriptures final prophecies with the panoramic view of all 22 chapters of the book of Revelation. It can also equip you to explain the truths in this incredible section of Scripture to others in a way that points them to Christ in his eternal glory for your free copy.

Call 855 grace will go to Jide and for even greater depth on Revelation, you'll appreciate John MacArthur's two-volume commentary on this book. John will go through every single verse giving you detailed explanations about what the passage means and how you can apply its truth to your life. This is a great resource for pastors and lay leaders or really anyone wants to understand what's ahead for the world to place your order. Call 855 grace or go to our website Jide that's our website Jide now for John MacArthur in the entire grace to you staff on Phil Johnson reminding you to watch grace to you television this Sunday. You can check your local listings for cattle and times and then make sure you're here tomorrow for another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on grace to you

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