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The Handwriting On The Wall Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
March 18, 2022 1:00 am

The Handwriting On The Wall Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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March 18, 2022 1:00 am

The judgment of God may be long in coming, but it can come with a vengeance. As the Babylonian Empire partied, Daniel stood before the king and read the handwriting on the wall. The pride, blasphemy, and idolatry of Babylon could be overlooked no longer; God would destroy them that very evening. In this message, we face what God is doing here in America, and how God deals with nations. We must be willing to speak about God’s judgment with compassion and conviction.  

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. The judgment of God may be long in coming, but it can come with a vengeance.

For ancient Babylon, that time came when Daniel foretold the doom of Babylon's king. We in America should take heed, as his story might well be ours. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Today we continue a series on the church in Babylon, unleashing the power of a Spirit-filled witness. Pastor Lutzer, some high drama today. The famous story of the handwriting on the wall. You know, Dave, when I read that story, I've often wished that it had been videotaped. Can't you just imagine the king watching that, understanding that he was under judgment, and it was going to happen immediately? What a story.

God's judgment oftentimes comes in various ways, and today as we speak about this judgment, we always have to be reminded also of America. And by the way, I want to thank the many of you who support this ministry. Would you consider becoming an endurance partner? That's someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts. Of course, you need more info, you can go to rtwoffer.com, click on the endurance partner button. That's rtwoffer.com.

Click on the endurance partner button, or if you prefer, you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. Thanks in advance for helping us, and now we turn to God's word. It's not possible to visit the sites of World War II without being impressed at the high cost of freedom. To be able to stand on Utah Beach, and remember that it is here that a combined group of allies came together, and in the process lives were lost as they went across in difficult circumstances with mines virtually everywhere. It's also interesting that we were able to stand not only on Utah Beach, but Omaha Beach. And we were reminded there of the tremendous sacrifice, about 70% of all of the young men who came there ended up being killed, because the Germans were able to just be on the cliffs, and they were able to shoot and to kill everyone who was coming up.

What a price. What sacrifice was paid for that? And then, of course, we think of the cliffs. We call the cliffs Pointe du Hoc, and those cliffs were scaled by our American troops. If I remember correctly, about 290 went up the cliffs, and about 90 were alive, and the others ended up being killed as they went up those cliffs.

We also thought of John Steele. If you saw the movie The Longest Day, you know that he was featured because he was a paratrooper who landed on a church. And the church steeple caught him, and even today he is memorialized there as sort of an effigy hanging from a church steeple. Well, when the paratroopers came down, they came down in the wrong place, and they were just being shot by the Germans as they were landing.

It was horrible. He landed there and pretended that he was dead, and then he was captured by the Germans, but then he left, was able to escape and actually win many victories for the Allies. He died in 1966, a great hero. This, actually, the church is in St. Mary and Gleece, and it is a church that represents the fact that this was the first town captured in Normandy by the Allies, but the price paid was horrific. But I think the most moving thing that we experienced was the cemetery, the cemetery, and it was there. The beautiful flowers of the American cemetery in France cannot obscure the tremendous price that was paid by our young men.

As you walk through the cemetery, you look at the dates, and you discover that many of these young men were only 20 years old. Many went into battle fearful, crying, weeping, but they gave their life that we might be able to have freedom. And how wonderful it was for us to see also a cross dedicated to the unknown soldier. It reads, here rests in honored glory a comrade in arms known but to God.

And most of us will die as unknowns. As many of you know, I was born in Canada but became an American citizen a number of years ago. And I have to say that as we were there in Normandy seeing the American flags and looking at nearly 10,000 graves, I was very proud to be an American and proud of the American flag. When you think of all of the families, all of the mothers and fathers, all of the relatives whose young people died and the tears that were shed, but they were shed for freedom and for that we are deeply grateful.

But I think it's true to say that we live in a country that is very different now than the country was back in 1940 and 45 and on. And that's why today I speak with a very heavy heart, a message entitled The Handwriting on the Wall. The Handwriting on the Wall is actually the last in a series of 10 messages entitled The Church in Babylon, Unleashing the Power of a Spirit-Filled Witness. I speak this message because first of all we have to know what God is doing here in America and how God deals with nations. But at the end of the message also I'm going to be giving some challenges to live for Christ and for that which is right in our present generation.

I pray that as I speak I will speak with love, I'll speak with compassion, but I'll also speak truthfully so that we will understand that even in our own nation we have to interpret the handwriting on the wall. The passage of scripture is Daniel chapter 5. Daniel chapter 5, you remember how we've been emphasizing the fact that Daniel was taken to Babylon as a teenager. When Daniel chapter 5 opens he is now a man in his 80s, 60 years at least, have passed since those original days when he purposed in his heart to serve God no matter what.

And as a result of that Daniel is now going to stand once again for God even as an old man. Daniel was alive during the days of Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar was the king, you know, who went insane. He began to eat grass like animals and the whole bit until he came to the conclusion, and this is the last part of chapter 4, at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted my eyes to heaven, my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored him who lives forever for his dominion is an everlasting dominion and his kingdom endures from one generation to another and all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing and he does according to his will in the army of heaven and amongst the inhabitants of the earth and none can stay his hand or say unto him what doest thou? It's no question but that I expect to see Nebuchadnezzar in heaven. But chapter 5 opens with his grandson Belshazzar. In between there were kings who were assassinated. It's a very complicated history. Belshazzar is a co-ruler with a man by the name of Nabonidus and Belshazzar calls a feast.

We're in chapter 5. It's the happy hour. King Belshazzar made a great feast for a thousand of his lords and drank wine in front of the thousand. Belshazzar, when he tasted the wine, commanded the vessels of gold and silver that Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken out of the temple in Jerusalem to be brought and they used these vessels to drink to their pagan gods.

Set the scene. They are basically drunk. And by the way, sometime I should preach on alcohol, you know, because the Bible doesn't condemn wine but approves it in certain contexts. People often use that and it's often a pathway for young people to become alcoholics. I don't want to pick on Germany but when we were there last week, our guide told us that Germans discovered that those who are between 20 and 32 were drinking less beer. Now you might think that's good.

Actually a study showed that it is bad. The beer isn't strong enough. They are taking stronger things.

We're a nation that is addicted. But Belshazzar does two things. First of all, not only is he and the concubines, I mean this obviously is an orgy of sorts, they are all drunk, but also he blasphemes God. He takes the vessels that Nebuchadnezzar had brought from the temple of Jerusalem and he uses them to drink wine to his gods.

Clearly he's shaking his fist in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Now why is it that Belshazzar felt so confident that he could have this party when outside there were Medes and Persians gathered and had been there for a couple of months? He was confident because Babylon was impregnable. Nobody would be able to get into the city. Some people say that the walls were 300 feet high. I can't believe that.

I think that's an exaggeration. We do know, however, they were 80 feet wide so nobody was going to come over the walls. Soldiers were up there guarding. They had supplies for food for 10 years supposedly and water ran under the city because the Euphrates River ran through the city.

They were absolutely confident that they would be there for as long as they wanted to be and could party. Well that was the happy hour. Now there's a change and it becomes very much the perplexing hour, the perplexing hour. Verse 5, immediately the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall of the king's palace opposite the lampstand and the king saw the hand as it wrote. Then the king's color changed and his thoughts alarmed him. His limbs gave way and his knees knocked together.

What a change. Have you ever wondered whether or not the Bible is really true? You know, you say you read these stories, did they really happen? Did you know that archaeologists in ancient Babylon uncovered a room also that seems to have been plastered that was 60 feet wide and 170 feet long? I think that's enough to get a thousand people in to have a party. And so they are, they are there partying and suddenly they see without a body a hand right on the wall and the king becomes absolutely terrified. What a description of fear. And he calls in his astrologers and his charmers and says, what do this mean? And none of them knew what it meant.

They couldn't interpret it. Well the queen mother, not his wife, she was already in the party, no question about that. But the queen mother, probably the, his grandmother hears about this and remembers Daniel who has been living in obscurity for the last 40 or 50 years. But she remembers that he was able to interpret dreams and visions and he'd be able to interpret the handwriting. So this woman suggests that he come and Daniel is offered a third of the kingdom.

Why a third? Because Belshazzar would have had a third, Nabonidus would have had the other part, and he's willing to give Daniel a third of the kingdom if he can interpret this particular vision, the handwriting on the wall. Daniel of course totally discounts it. He says in verse 17, let your gifts be for yourself and give your rewards to another. Nevertheless, I can interpret this, but then he gives the king a speech. In verse 22, what he does is he rehearses what happened to Nebuchadnezzar, how that because of his pride God humbled him and he experienced a disease called Boanthropy, I hope I pronounced that correctly, where he actually acted like an animal until he repented. And Daniel rehearses that and says to Belshazzar, you knew about this and you deliberately defied God. He makes three accusations against Belshazzar. Verse 22, and you as son Belshazzar have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this, but you've lifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven and the vessels of his house have been brought in before you and you and your lords and your wives and your concubines have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, a bronze, iron, wood, stone, which do not see or hear or know, but the God in whose hand is your breath.

Wow. In whose hand is your breath, that God you have not honored. Three indictments. First of all, pride. You refuse to humble yourself.

You didn't learn from what happened to your grandfather. Secondly, you have blasphemy. You use the utensils and the vessels that were brought from the city of Jerusalem, and you use those to drink your own wine and praise your own gods.

And then also you served your idols. And notice this, Belshazzar and his entourage did it knowingly, even though you knew this. You know, the Bible says in Romans chapter one, those who practice debauchery, you know what it says. It says who knowing the judgment of God, not only do such things, but take pleasure in them that do them.

They know better because the law of God is written on their hearts, but they take pleasure in dethroning God and substituting themselves. Well, we've gone from the happy hour to the perplexing hour, the fearful hour, and now we get to the last hour. Daniel says, I want you to recognize the words. And by the way, those words must have stayed on the plaster for quite a while because the soothsayers of Babylon were able to read them. Evidently, the words were still on the wall when Daniel got there, and they called for him to interpret them. And these are the words, and they're given to us there. Verse 26, this is the interpretation of the matter. Many, God has numbered your days and your kingdom is brought to an end. In the vernacular, we'd simply say that Daniel said to Belshazzar, your kingdom is gone. Your number is up.

It's finished. Not only that, but trekel, tekel I should say, means weighed. The imagery there is of a scale, and you know how those ancient scales would go.

On the one hand, there was a correct weight, say of one pound, and on the other side, you see whether or not it balances with one pound. God says, I put my righteousness on one side of the scale, and you have come up light. You are deficient. You are not meeting the mark in your rebellion. And then finally, Perez, and there are two different interpretations or two different spellings because there's a play on words going here. Perez really refers to also Persia, so Daniel is interpreting this as a reference also to Persia because he says your kingdom is divided, and it's being given to the Medes, and it's being given to the Persians. So that's the end of your kingdom, end of story. Now notice verse 29, then Belshazzar gave the command.

Daniel was clothed with purple. He didn't want to be, but the king said, put a chain of gold around his neck. Proclamation was made about him that he should be the third in the ruler of the kingdom, last thing Daniel was interested in. And then verse 30, that very night Belshazzar the Chaldean was killed, and Darius the Mede received the kingdom being about 62 years old.

You know what happened? Herodotus tells us, thank God for historians. What he said was that the Persians diverted the Euphrates River. Now they couldn't divert the whole thing, but they built a tributary and kept it blocked, like with a dam, and then they took the dam away, and the waters flowed over here, and the water went down far enough that the soldiers were able to cross under the walls. And so you have all of these soldiers who are going under the walls because the Euphrates River was low enough, and they come into the banquet hall where Belshazzar and all of his friends are having this party, and he is beheaded in the year 539, October the 11th and the 12th, and a Babylon.

Yes, my friend, that was the end of Babylon, but of course the Bible predicts that a day is coming when another Babylon will arise. And we might not know all the details, but isn't it wonderful to know that God does? And I want to thank you so much for your involvement in the ministry of running to win. When I think of this ministry, remember it's not the ministry of a man or a church or an organization.

It is yours. Would you consider joining the running to win family? I'm holding in my hand a letter from someone who says, your teaching has lifted me out of my life-threatening depression and extreme anxiety. Through many sleepless nights, I would listen over and over again to the wisdom, the truth, and the promises of God coming through your program. You, my friend, have a part in testimonies just like this as you partner with us.

Would you consider becoming an endurance partner? That's someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts. You can get more info. Here's what you do. Go to rtwoffer.com. That's rtwoffer.com, and when you're there, click on the endurance partner button, or if you prefer, you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. In my mind and heart, I can visualize the many of you who come alongside of us. You are, in effect, holding our hands with your prayers and with your gifts. Thank you so much. You can go to rtwoffer.com, click on the endurance partner button, or right now, call 1-888-218-9337.

It's time now for another chance for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. When jobs are scarce, all options need to be on the table. An anonymous listener hears our program on WMBI in Chicago and is asking this, do you have any opinions on working in multilevel marketing companies such as Amway and ACN for income? Is it ethical to work in a multilevel company? Well in answer to your question, I think the answer is yes, but I do want to say a few things about those kinds of companies. First of all, there's a tendency for those who are involved in the company to try to use those who are on a lower layer, so to speak, to do all of the sales for them, and of course they get a certain commission. And so you have people buying into the company thinking, I'll almost do nothing, but I will recruit others to do the work for me. That's the way in which those companies work. So sometimes I think that it can degenerate into kind of a get-rich-quick scheme, and how do I use other people to make money for me? And I think that that motivation certainly is wrong in certain situations. Another thing I've noticed just by observation is that there's a tendency to over-exaggerate the kind of income that people will have if they sign on with you and begin to sell for you. I know many people who have these kinds of products and they end up with a garage full of them. So you must be very honest and scrupulous in your relationships.

But if everything is done in accordance with truth and high ethical standards, I don't see anything wrong in working with a multi-level company. Some wise counsel from Dr. Erwin Lutzer. Thank you, Dr. Lutzer. If you'd like to hear your question answered, go to our website at rtwoffer.com and click on Ask Pastor Lutzer. Or call us at 1-888-218-9337.

That's 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. Belshazzar's feast began with revelry and ended with Belshazzar dead. Babylon died with him, as might America, if we don't heed the warnings of God. Next time on Running to Win, our series on The Church in Babylon concludes. Thanks for listening. This is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-21 03:21:42 / 2023-05-21 03:30:12 / 9

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