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Divine Graffiti: The End of an Empire C

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
July 16, 2021 4:00 am

Divine Graffiti: The End of an Empire C

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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Sin brings destruction, be it a man, a woman, be it a nation. Doom is inevitable in the world as it gets worse and worse.

The Bible promises that those who put their faith in Jesus Christ shall escape the wrath to come, shall be delivered from the hour of tribulation, shall be saved from judgment, taken to heaven. What's the greatest threat to the United States? Many people would say enemy nations, or incompetent politicians, or racial strife.

Probably no one would say arrogance. After all, how could pride bring down a powerful nation? Well, I encourage you to find out today on Grace to You, as John MacArthur looks at how pride brought down ancient Babylon, and why it could do the same to the United States, or any nation, and the destructive effect pride has on individuals. The title of today's message, Divine Graffiti. It's part of John's current study, called The Rise and Fall of World Powers.

And with that, here's John MacArthur. We have the privilege of going to the fifth chapter of Daniel, Daniel chapter 5, in our continuing study of this amazing prophet, Daniel, one of the great Hebrew prophets of old, a man whose record of the history of his time is without equal. And by the way, for many years, critics attempted to discredit the prophecy of Daniel, to say that it wasn't true, that his history was ill-formed and unfounded. Some of the characters that he referred to were just not real, but false.

Some of the interpretations he gave to the dreams and the visions were those of his own whims. But after years and years of criticism, archaeology in the last hundred years, the last fifty years, and even later, has uncovered evidence upon evidence upon evidence that Daniel's prophecy is absolutely accurate, and there have been no contradictions at all found. In fact, from the Babylonian record, at the time of Daniel, we have no less than ten thousand fragments to indicate to us the truthfulness of this tremendous prophecy.

It is the Word of God, and therefore it is true and will become verified by history, and that is in fact exactly what has happened. So when you read Daniel chapter 5, you are reading an eyewitness account of the fall of the Babylonian empire by one who was a prime minister of that very empire itself. And even though he was a prime minister in a pagan culture, in a pagan society, in a palace of Babylonian monarchs, he never compromised his faith in the true God. And thus every time he appears on the scene, we find him somehow unrelated to everybody else that's there.

He always makes a grand entrance alone, never with the magicians and soothsayers and Chaldeans who come to give their human wisdom. And so he is set apart as God's man, and the record he has given us is wonderfully true. As we come to Daniel chapter 5, these 31 amazing and marvelous, insightful verses, we see the end of an empire. We see the movement from the head of gold, as 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. Now as you pick up the story, in chapter 5, we meet Belshazzar, this adopted son of Nabonidus, the de facto king now who sits on the throne in Babylon. And it says, he made a great feast to a thousand of his lords and drank wine before the thousand.

He sat up on an elevated deal where kings would sit and he drank. Belshazzar, 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. The Medes and the Persians literally surround the entire city of Babylon.

They're 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 says. So Belshazzar is in Babylon and all around him is a siege 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 Babylon.

Now, it's hard to conceive that the guy could be that stupid to get a drunken orgy going while his city is enwrapped by the Medo-Persians. But Babylon was so formidable. You realize the city supposedly was 15 miles square, according to Herodotus. Herodotus says that the walls were 87 feet thick.

That's thick, 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.

Now, I want you to know what happened. Herodotus the historian tells us this. The Medes and the Persians outside the city in the night in which Belshazzar had his feast. And by the way, the night is marked for all history. The 16th day of Tishri, 539 B.C.

in October around the 11th and 12th of that year. By our months, that night, the Medes and the Persians built a dam on the Euphrates. It flowed under the wall of the city. They diverted all of that water coming into the Euphrates except a little shallow portion.

They diverted it into a swampland. And when the water began to fall in the midst of the banquet, it came down to be about to the knees or the waist of the soldiers. They marched underneath the wall on that shallow riverbed, went into the inside, and the whole Medo-Persian army descended on that city in one fell swoop. Babylon fell on the 16th day of Tishri in the year 539 B.C. And someday, someday, the Babylon of Revelation 17 and 18, the final world system of Antichrist, is going to fall in a holocaust infinitely greater than this one. But between the Babylon of old and the Babylon of the future, nations keep falling all along the history of man. And they fall for the very same reasons that Babylon fell. I believe that all of the elements of rejecting God that I see in Babylon I see also in America. And so, as I draw to a conclusion, I want to take you to the thoughts of the application.

And I'm just going to run them by you. How do we apply this to today? What were the devastating sins of Babylon that caused her fall?

I've listed them for you and I want to show you how these are the things that I see in our own country. And the doom is inevitable, people. It is inevitable. We have passed the point of no return as a nation. First of all, verses 1 to 4, I see the sin of drunkenness.

Do you see it there? When he was drunk, it all really began to happen. Cyrus had had it all, all except Babylon.

And Babylon looked to be unassailable. And so, in a drunken stupor of debauchery, they thought themselves impregnable. Alcohol has destroyed many rulers.

It's destroying some in our own country. Drunkenness. We have millions of drunks in this country.

We are a drunken nation. Secondly, pleasure madness. They were having a party while the end of the world was a few hours away.

They didn't understand how serious it was. Pleasure mad, crazy about entertainment, wives and concubines and sex and dancing and drinking and feeding themselves. And here we are in the same kind of a condition, sports and movies and TV and shows and sex and restaurants and on and on. And we spend billions and billions, as my dad used to say, it could be said of this society, merrily we go to hell. Completely freaked on entertainment.

The whole country is drowning in pleasure madness, unwilling to face the reality that we are on the brink of doom. Thirdly, immorality. The worship of the Canaanite gods involved sexual perversion and sexual stimulation that I would not speak of. Archaeologists have discovered artifacts in the digs around Babylon that have engraved on them pornographic pictures from this era. They had their pornography.

But I don't think it could be any worse than what we have in America. We're so sin-sick and wretched that we've abandoned, deviced and lust. Fourthly, this society was destroyed because of its idolatry. They were worshiping all our man-made gods and blatantly rejecting the true God. There were thousands of deities that cluttered their culture.

And we have the same thing. We have zillions of false Christs, false messiahs, religious phonies, cults and occults, gods of sex and money and things and pleasure and education. We have literally crowded God out of our whole country, except for vestiges here and there of those who really know Him. Fifthly, blasphemy. This nation was destroyed because of blasphemy.

It wasn't enough to reject. They blasphemed God. They mocked God. You can't believe how fearful a thing that is.

I couldn't conceive of doing that. We mocked God with our empty prayers before congressional meetings and football games. We mocked God with religious charlatans who used His holy name to get rich and fill the needs of their empty egos. Sixthly, I believe America is characterized like Babylon was of willful rejection. No nation that I know of in the history of the church has had any greater opportunity to hear the gospel than this nation. Isn't that true?

It was founded for Christian freedom. We have heard it, but we don't care about it. We're not interested. It is a willful rejection. And over in verses 18 to 22, Daniel said to Belshazzar, You know all the facts about how God revealed Himself to Nebuchadnezzar. You know the whole story and you willingly sin against light.

To him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin. We've got churches all over this country on every block and all the way down the streets of this country. In every little town there are churches and they are empty and they are liberal.

And schools are pumping out people denying the word of God supposed to pass to those churches. We are turning our backs willfully rejecting the very thing we know to be true. No nation ever had greater opportunity than America. And I'm fast believing that no nation ever turned its back on it either as severely as we have.

We don't learn anything from history. How foolish. Seventh, another problem that I see in this particular thing is unrelieved guilt. This country, this Babylonian society was basically ridden with guilt because sin brings guilt.

And you know what? The king saw the writing on the wall and his countenance was changed. His thoughts were troubled and the joints of his loins were loose, verse 6, and his knees smashed together.

Why? Now if you and I were here and all of a sudden we saw some writing on the wall, we might say, Hey, the Lord has given a message. But that would only be because we know the Lord and we have a secure heart. But if we were a bunch of ungodly people in the midst of an orgy and supernatural fingers started to write a message, we'd react a little differently. The reason they reacted the way they did was because their guilt convicted them, you see. We interpret everything that happens to us according to our consciences and conscience makes a coward of us all. The enemy on the inside condemned them like Adam and Eve. As soon as they sinned, God came along and God said, Adam, Adam. Normally Adam would have said, Here I am, Lord. You want to have a conversation? Ran and hid.

Why? God didn't give away anything in His introduction, but He had it in His heart. Our nation is so guilt-ridden, it's unbelievable. We're literally ridden with guilt. Never have there been so many psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, mental illness, alcohol, drugs, misery, sorrow, suicide. It's all over the place because we are totally unrelieved in our guilt.

Eighth, America is characterized by greed and impure motives. And that's what was part of the destruction of Babylon. In verse 7, he says, I'll give you a gold and I'll give you a scarlet and I'll make you the third ruler in the kingdom. And in verse 17, he says it to Daniel. Boy, I'll give you all this, verse 16, I'll give you all this stuff.

Daniel says, I could care less. But you know something? That's how our entire system works. Think about it. The whole American system is based upon greed, selfish motives.

Characterized by lack of honesty, no integrity, all the way from the house on your block to the White House. That's the way it goes. You buy people, don't you?

You buy them. These verses point to a system so corrupt, the king said, boy, if I just give them enough gold and enough fancy clothes and a high enough position, they'll tell me what I want to know. Why? Because the whole operation was built on that approach. People didn't speak the truth because it was right. They said what they said when they got what they wanted for it.

That's the way the system works today in America. Corruption, greed, impure motives. Number nine, materialism, and that's the parallel to that same verses. Power was equated with your clothes and your gold, the decadence of living for prestige and riches. I don't think there's ever been a country in the history of the world to know the wealth of America for such a long period of time, spread over so many people.

There are wealthier people in the Arab states, but the mass of people don't really experience that. We are wealthy and decadent. Number ten, another thing that struck me about this was their confidence in human security. Their confidence in human security. Did you notice that they were having this feast because they thought their city was impregnable?

What could happen to them? You know, a lot of people have that fortress America concept. Hey, this is America. We can't lose. We're going to always win. We're impregnable. But we're not going to get conquered maybe so fast from the outside as we are from the inside, you know. We're corrupted on the inside. We're in the same kind of drunken debauchery when the enemy is ready to take us.

It'll be easy, probably not even with a fight. One historian says there wasn't even a spear thrown that night in the fall of Babylon. And Belshazzar was systematically executed, as were others. But there was no battle, just execution.

It'll come just so fast. Why? Because they believed their own resources were enough. It's a form of humanism, people. They forgot that it is the most high God who rules in the kingdom of man.

They lifted up themselves against the Lord of heaven. We live in a humanistic day when man says, I'm the master of my fate. I'm the captain of my soul. I'll decide what's right.

I'll do what I choose to do. And humanism has taken the place of God. The ultimate stupidity is to think that we have the resources in ourselves.

We have swallowed godless, atheistic humanism, preoccupied with all of our rights instead of God. The next, another thing that hit me in this passage that is indicative of a dying society is corrupt leadership. What were all these princes doing getting just as drunk as the king? Corrupt leadership and all the soothsayers and the Chaldeans and the magicians had absolutely no help.

They couldn't give many answers. The whole bunch of them were as drunk and immoral and as inept as everybody else. The whole thing pictures leaders who are godless, practical atheists, humanists who at the end of their guilt and lust and folly can only brazen it out with the help of alcohol and sex. When I think about that, I think about our own leaders. Some of them such lascivious, lustful people that were the truth known across America. Certainly Christian people would shudder.

Can I throw in another thing? I read one author this week who said one of the problems with Belshazzar was that he wasn't as good as his father. He wasn't as good as his adoptive father, Nabonidus, and he wasn't as good as his father or grandfather, Nebuchadnezzar. But there's a big gap from Nebuchadnezzar to Belshazzar and it illustrates to me the decline of the family.

I see that in America, too. Where is the godly seed? Where is the righteous generation? A last one. And this is the sum of it. What made Babylon fall? Pride. Verse 22, you didn't humble your heart. You didn't humble your heart. Pride.

Listen to this. At the feast of Belshazzar and a thousand of his lords, while they drank from golden vessels as the book of truth records, in the night as they reveled in the royal palace hall, they were seized with consternation at the hand upon the wall. See the brave captive Daniel as he stood before the throng and rebuked the haughty monarch for his mighty deeds of wrong. As he read out their writing, it was the doom of one and all for the kingdom was now finished and said the hand upon the wall. See the faith and zeal and courage that would dare to do the right which the Spirit gave to Daniel, this the secret of his might. In his home in Judea, a captive in its hall, he still understood the writing of his god upon the wall. So our deeds are recorded.

There is a hand that's writing now. Sinner, give your heart to Jesus to his royal mandate bow, for the day is approaching, it must come to one and all, when a sinner's condemnation will be written on the wall. Sin brings destruction.

Be it a man, a woman, be it a nation. Doom is inevitable in the world as it gets worse and worse. The Bible promises that those who put their faith in Jesus Christ shall escape the wrath to come, shall be delivered from the hour of tribulation, should be saved from judgment, taken to heaven. What I ask you is to search your own heart and see that you know Christ. Living in this dying, decadent society in America, a country turning its back on the things of God so blatant and flagrant, we are salt and light. We must come to Christ and stand for truth that others may hear and come to know Him as well. God is not willing that any should perish.

It's not His desire. He wants us to come to Him and it's needful for you in your life, first of all, to come and confess your sin and receive Him as Savior, and then for those who know Him to preach the message of judgment and salvation in Christ from that judgment. The good news that Jesus saves and keeps us from the wrath to come. If you don't know Christ, right now in your heart will you invite Him in?

Pray a quiet, silent prayer. Take Christ. If you do know Him, reconfirm that you're willing to stand for His truth in this day. Father, we bless you. Lord, I can't express the joy in my heart to see the faithfulness of these people to be here.

Thrills me, Lord, just thrills me. Thank You for bringing them and for their wonderful faithfulness and for them wanting to open their lives to the conviction of the Word of God. Bless them for it, Lord. And for one or so who are here and they don't know Jesus Christ, may this be the night they come for forgiveness, for salvation. For those of us who do, Lord, give us a new zeal to preach His truth, to stand against the decay of our time, boldly and courageously take our stand for Christ's sake. Amen.

I trust that you'll share this message with others. I believe it's important that our people in our country see that we are paralleling the same track that caused the fall of Babylon. People, it's a great, great, great task, isn't there, ahead of us to reach men and women. God doesn't want the perishing and neither do we. We don't sit back and say, oh, it's inevitable.

We go into the highways and byways and compel them to come in. Hope you'll do that. This is Grace to You with John MacArthur. Thanks for being with us. Today's lesson looked at specific sins that can destroy any nation. It's part of John's study titled The Rise and Fall of World Powers. Now, John, to bring our study to a close, you made a comparison today between our current moral state and the condition of ancient Babylon, and you said that we've come to the point where we think we're invincible. In essence, people don't see the handwriting on the wall. So let me ask you, what is the best way to help others see their true condition and the doom that lies ahead? Let me get above that a little bit and just say this. I think many people assume that this is the worst the world's ever been, but this is only the worst the world exposed to Christianity has ever been. Right? The world before Christianity, the world of Babylon, ancient Babylon, would have been infinitely worse than this culture.

Right? Because there were no influences. There were no godly influences at all. There was just this small little nation, Israel, that was disobedient for the most part. They were custodians of the word of God, but they weren't very faithful in making sure the rest of the world heard it.

In fact, it even irritated them when Nineveh repented. So the pre-Christian world was far worse than this world. The world of Noah was worse than our world. God drowned that entire world. But we have to agree and say, look, this is the worst post-Christian world that we've ever seen.

You say, why do you say that? I say that because Scripture says evil men are going to get worse and worse. For us to understand that, all we have to do is look at Scripture and just look at every passage where God sets a righteous standard and judges people who fall short of that righteous standard and reject the only forgiveness and the only hope in Christ.

So we aren't surprised at what's happening in our world. There are only so many sins you can commit, and this generation is busy committing the same ones that Babylon committed. It's just for us difficult to understand that on this side of Christianity's influence in our world. So we've been looking at the rise and fall of world powers based on Daniel 2, 4, and 5, and we've seen that while times are different in some ways in terms of culture and how society functions, the heart of mankind is evil, and judgment is always going to be inevitable when people turn their back on God, and especially when they turn their back on the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. So what I'm saying is the series on the rise and fall of world powers is as relevant today as it was in Daniel's time, and you would do yourself a great favor if you got a copy of the series. You can get six CDs, it's an album, so you can download the MP3 audio at our website

Right. And, friend, Daniel stood firm and glorified God in an evil society, and that's a great example for us to follow. To study this story again at your own pace, pick up John's series called The Rise and Fall of World Powers. Contact us today. The six-CD album is reasonably priced and shipping is free. To order, call 800-55-GRACE or visit our website And, as John said, you can download the messages from The Rise and Fall of World Powers free of charge in MP3 or transcript format at the website When you visit there, make sure to download the Study Bible app if you haven't done that already. This free app gives you the full text of Scripture in the English Standard, King James, and New American Standard versions, along with instant access to thousands of online resources. And, with an in-app purchase, very affordable, you can add the notes from the MacArthur Study Bible. The app, again it's called The Study Bible, is free to download from

That's Now, for John MacArthur and the entire Grace to You staff, I'm Phil Johnson encouraging you to take some time this weekend to watch Grace to You television. Check your local listings for availability and then join us Monday when John shows you how to talk to a heretic. That's the study he begins next week. It's another half hour of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace to You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-22 02:50:10 / 2023-09-22 03:00:36 / 10

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