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Even Though You Knew All This - Daniel - Part 5

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
July 24, 2020 7:00 am

Even Though You Knew All This - Daniel - Part 5

So What? / Lon Solomon

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July 24, 2020 7:00 am

A study of the book of Daniel. 

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You know, the Neo-Babylonian Empire, that is the empire that was established in 609 B.C. by Nabbo-Polassar and then enlarged to enormous size and grandeur by his son Nebuchadnezzar, that empire fell with about as much swiftness as it rose.

What were the circumstances that surrounded its fall? Why did God decree such a rapid decline for this empire? And what were the biblical principles that were at work here? The chapter that we have in front of us tonight, Daniel chapter 5, deals with these issues. And not only is it a fascinating chapter from the standpoint of history, but it's also, I believe, a very challenging chapter from the standpoint of the spiritual principles that we see demonstrated in it. So I want us to look tonight at Daniel chapter 5. Now, let's go over the chronology for just a minute. In other words, what's the historical background that leads up to Daniel 5?

Because understanding this helps us to understand what happens in the chapter. Almost 70 years have passed since Daniel chapter 1 took place. In 606 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem for the very first time. And it was in 606 B.C. when he captured Jerusalem that Nebuchadnezzar deported Daniel and his three friends. Nebuchadnezzar then ruled the Babylonian empire for the next 44 years.

That is, 44 of the next 68 years he was the king. Finally dying, Nebuchadnezzar did, that is, in 562 B.C. During that time, Nebuchadnezzar expanded the Neo-Babylonian empire from its tiny beginnings under his dad, to the mightiest empire on the face of the earth stretching from the Euphrates on the east to the Nile on the west. After Nebuchadnezzar's death in 562 B.C., the Neo-Babylonian empire lasted for only another 23 years, that is, until 539 B.C.

And here's a little bit about how it went. When Nebuchadnezzar died, his son, a fellow that the Bible calls, Evel Maradoc, that's not his Babylonian name but it's his biblical name, he took over. After two years, he was assassinated by a fellow named Nerech Glisser. Nerech Glisser died after four years on the throne and was succeeded by his son whose name was Labashi Marduk. He was only a child when he succeeded his dad.

He was assassinated nine months later. And the conspirators who assassinated Labashi Marduk chose one of their own number, a fellow named Nabonidus, to become king. Nabonidus or Nabonidus, depending on how you want to pronounce it. Nabonidus or Nabonidus reigned for 17 years and he was the reigning monarch when Babylon fell in 539 B.C. Now this historical chronology that I just gave you, we got that from a fellow named Berosus. Berosus was a Babylonian priest who wrote the official history of Babylon that is most commonly followed today. And we accept that, the history of Berosus, as our best and most accurate historical record of Babylon during this period. Now Berosus' history, even though it helps us a lot, leaves us with a big problem.

You say, well, what's that? The big problem is who, when we turn to Daniel chapter 5, is this fellow named Belshazzar? Daniel chapter 5 calls him the king of Babylon.

And Daniel chapter 5 places him as the final king of the empire before its fall. But Berosus knows nothing about anything named Belshazzar being the king of Babylon. And no other historical record that we had until recently mentioned Belshazzar either. As you might imagine, the critics of the Bible had a field day with this. They said that this guaranteed, this was absolute proof that the book of Daniel and the Bible is historically inaccurate. That the fact that there's no trace of any king named Belshazzar proves that Daniel was written centuries after it claimed to be written at a time when the writer of the book of Daniel knew nothing about Babylonian history and therefore he could have made a mistake such as this. Well, thank God for archaeology. In 1929, the text of an inscription was found on a clay cylinder and it's commonly called the Nabonidus cylinder because its main character really is Nabonidus.

And the text of this cylinder was published in 1929. The cylinder is definitely from the 6th century BC, the very time that Daniel claims to have written his book. And in this Nabonidus cylinder, in the text that's on it, Nabonidus is said to have had a son whose name was Belsharusser in Babylonian or we know him better as Belshazzar. Furthermore, the text goes on to tell us that Nabonidus often was absent from Babylon for long stretches of time while he was a king. And when he was out of town, he developed the habit of leaving his son Belshazzar in charge. In fact, this happened so much that in 553 BC, Nabonidus officially appointed Belshazzar as co-regent, co-king with him. The Nabonidus cylinder goes on to say that Belshazzar was actually killed by the invading Persian army in 539 BC, just as Daniel chapter 5 is going to say, and that Nabonidus was out of town when this happened, that he was captured by the Persians but was allowed to live out his days in exile. Now what's the result of all of this? Well, the result of it is that once again the remarkable historical reliability of the Bible has been corroborated by secular archaeological records.

E.J. Young, the great Protestant scholar said, and I quote, The identity of Belshazzar has long caused difficulty to commentators. Some have denied his historicity altogether. The king's name, however, has now appeared upon cuneiform documents so that there can be no question as to Belshazzar's historicity. This is only the first point at which this chapter, Daniel 5, exhibits a remarkable accuracy. And I should mention at this point that rather than implying that Daniel was written centuries after it claims to have been written, the data that we've discovered about Belshazzar actually provides strong evidence that Daniel was written during the days of the 6th century BC, during the days of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, exactly as it claims.

You say, well, why? How does that follow? Well, it follows because someone writing centuries later, who was relying only upon the official history of Berosus to give them the events of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, they would never have known the name Belshazzar.

How could they? Only someone who was living during the 6th century, only someone who was an eyewitness of the events that were unfolding as the Babylonian Empire came to a close, only such an author would have known about Belshazzar and would have been able to record the events as accurately as the author of Daniel 5 has done. And so, rather than the information we have about Belshazzar undermining the historical integrity of the book of Daniel, actually it confirms it and corroborates it to an incredible degree. So let's summarize. We've settled the issue of whether Daniel 5 is true. We now know that it is, exactly as it's written.

And so now let's look and see what happened. Verse 1, Belshazzar the king made a great feast for thousands of his lords and drank wine before the thousands. And Belshazzar, while he was drinking the wine, commanded that they bring the gold and silver vessels that his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple that was in Jerusalem. And the king and his princes and wives drank out of them. And so they brought the vessels in and they did drink out of them and they praised the gods of gold and silver and brass and iron and wood and stone. Now what these verses don't tell us is that while this party was going on, the Persian army was actually camped right outside of the city of Babylon, right outside of the city walls, right as Belshazzar is inside having his party. We find that out from the historical records that Berossus gives us.

You say, well, why in the world would Belshazzar throw a party like this while a hostile army was surrounding the city? Well, remember what I told you last week about the city wall of Babylon. It was one of the most massive city walls in the history of the world. It was 136 and a half feet thick. Herodotus, the Greek historian, says that four chariots could be driven abreast on top of the wall. That's how wide it was. Herodotus says that the walls were 350 feet high.

We don't know whether that may be a slight exaggeration, but we know that they were awful high. And the point is that Belshazzar felt impregnable. Belshazzar felt that he had nothing to worry about. There was lots of food stored up. There was plenty of water because the Euphrates River ran under the city wall right through the middle of the city of Babylon. So they had all the water they needed.

And whenever you were under siege, the two most critical things that any city had to have to survive was food and water. Babylon had plenty of both. And so supremely confident as he was, Belshazzar decided to have a big shindig, throw a party, just to show his people how absolutely confident he was Babylon would never fall.

The party consisted of thousands of his nobles. Last week, remember I told you the palace of Nebuchadnezzar had a great throne room that measured 56 feet by 173 feet, which is probably where this party was held. And we know from archaeological records that the Babylonian kings often threw huge parties like these and drank themselves into oblivion. Well, Belshazzar was well on his way to doing exactly that when for some crazy reason, he decided to bring out the vessels that Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple in Jerusalem. Apparently, these vessels had been kept in storage without sacrilegious use being made of them ever since Nebuchadnezzar's day. It's very likely that that was because of Nebuchadnezzar's conversion in Daniel 4, where after he became a believer in the true God, perhaps he took these vessels and put them in storage and gave orders that nobody was to defile them. But for whatever reason, Belshazzar impudently decided to bring these vessels out, to distribute them to his cronies, and to drink from them as they praised their idols and their false gods. It occurs to me that it's always possible that Belshazzar's motive was to demonstrate that the gods of Babylon had been greater than all other gods so far, including the God of Jerusalem.

And so therefore, the Babylonians had nothing to worry about, for their gods would prove to be stronger than the gods of the Persians who were surrounding the city as well. Verse 5, In the same hour there came the finger of a man's hand, and it began to write opposite the candlestick on the plaster of the wall in the king's palace. And the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. And the king's appearance was changed and his thoughts troubled him, so that even the joints in his knees were loosened and his knees smote together.

They shook, they knocked together. And the king cried aloud to bring all the astrologers and the wise men and the soothsayers. And when they came, the king said to them, Whoever will read this writing and interpret it for me shall be clothed in purple and have a chain of gold around his neck and shall become the third ruler in the kingdom.

So all the wise men came in but could not read the writing nor make known to the king its interpretation. And King Belshazzar then was greatly troubled, and his appearance was changed, and his lords were scared. We know from archaeological work in Babylon that the wall behind the throne in Nebuchadnezzar's big throne room was covered with white plaster, just the way Daniel chapter 5 says.

Isn't that amazing? That Daniel chapter 5 even records what we know from archaeology that only one of the walls, but the wall right behind the king had white plaster on it. And no doubt this was the wall where the finger wrote right above the head of the king. And upon seeing it, the king turned around and was amazed. He was shocked, he was scared to death, and he realized he wasn't hallucinating.

He realized he hadn't had too much cheap peach wine, but that rather indeed something supernatural was happening. And he was terrified. Isn't it funny how people can be so arrogant and so smug through all of life until suddenly something happens and they have to face the hand of God, and then, man, all of that smugness, all of that arrogance just dissipates like a fog in the morning sun. You see, unbelief only works until you have to face the hand of Almighty God.

Then it fails miserably. And some of the most arrogant men and women in this world have become some of the most terrified when they had to face God. Voltaire was one of those people. He was a great French atheist. He was vocal. He was an arrogant enemy of Christianity.

He did all that he could to undermine Christianity and destroy it. And yet Voltaire died in agony, screaming and begging for someone to help him, someone to deliver him from the terror of death, and someone to take him out of what he called this horrible darkness. Isn't it funny when faced with eternity how all of that arrogance and that smugness just faded away? G. H. Lang in his commentary on Daniel tells this story, and I quote, he said, There was an infidel who was boasting loudly as he and two Christians argued about God as they drifted down the river and neared Niagara. When he realized the danger they were in, the infidel suddenly began to cry out loud to God for help. After they had been rescued, he admitted that while unbelief may not be a bad thing with which to drift down the river, it is a very bad thing with which to go over the falls. End of quote.

I like that. Unbelief may not be such a bad thing with which to drift down the river, although I'm not even sure that's true, but it certainly is a horrible thing with which to go over the falls. And Belshazzar had been drifting down the river in arrogance and in smugness. But now that he was about to go over the falls, he was singing a different tune. He was scared.

And so he searched frantically for someone who can interpret the writing for him, but no one could. Verse 10, Now the queen, because of hearing all of the words of the king and his lords, came into the banquet house, and the queen spoke and said, O king, live forever. Don't be afraid.

Don't let your appearance be changed. There's a man in your kingdom in whom is the spirit of the holy gods in the days of your father, light and understanding and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods was found in him, whom the king Nebuchadnezzar, your father, made master of the wise men and the soothsayers. Because there's an excellent spirit of knowledge and understanding, of interpreting dreams and showing hard mysteries that is found in Daniel, whom the king named Belshazzar.

So let Daniel now be called, and he can interpret this for you. Suddenly the queen shows up, but I don't think this was Belshazzar's wife. I think she's best seen as being Nabonidus' wife, that is Belshazzar's mother, because she talks to him like a mother. She says to him, she walks in and says, son, would you pull yourself together? That doesn't sound like a wife, sounds like a mother. Well, you say it might sound like a wife.

Well, maybe so. But it sounds more like a mother to me, who addresses the king and says, son, pull yourself together. And she says, there's a man in your kingdom who can interpret this, call him. Now, just an aside here, she refers to Nebuchadnezzar as Belshazzar's father. And yet we know from records that we have that there's no way to trace Belshazzar back to being the son of Nebuchadnezzar.

So what's going on here? Well, we need to understand that in the ancient Near East, tradition always referred to a king's predecessor as his father, even if there was no direct lineage. That's even found in the Bible.

We see that happening. But the Babylonians also referred to Omri as the father of Jehu, but he wasn't at all. As a matter of fact, Jehu had wiped out the entire family of Omru, including Ahab, his last surviving relative on the throne, and Jezebel, his wife. But the Babylonians referred to Omri as the father of Jehu because he was his predecessor on the throne. And that was the conventional way that the Babylonians referred to your predecessor as king.

And so in referring to Nebuchadnezzar as Belshazzar's father, nothing more is really being meant than your predecessor. And so the queen mother reminds Belshazzar about Daniel. Remember now, Daniel is between 80 and 90 years old at this time. No doubt he's in retirement.

That's why he isn't around the court anywhere. And the queen urges Belshazzar to call for Daniel, and so he does it. Verse 13, then Daniel was brought before the king.

And the king spoke to Daniel and said, Are you Daniel of the children of the captivity of Judah that my father brought here? I've heard of you that the spirit of the gods is in you and that light and understanding and wisdom is in you. And now the wise men and the astrologers, they could not make understanding. They could not interpret this writing. And so I, since I heard of you, I've heard that you can interpret this, that you can explain mysteries. And now if you can read this writing and interpret it for me, you will be clothed with purple. You'll have a chain of gold around your neck and you will be third ruler in the kingdom. Well, after Belshazzar sent for Daniel, doesn't tell us in the Bible how long it took for Daniel to get there.

I suspect Daniel moseyed on in. And then the king offers him, if he can interpret the writing of this hand, offers him these great gifts and also offers him the privilege of being the third ruler in the kingdom. People often have wondered why in the world would he offer him that? Why wouldn't he offer him to be the second ruler of the kingdom? What's the answer?

What's the answer? Well, of course, the answer is that he, Belshazzar, was the second ruler in the kingdom. His father, Navinitis, was the first ruler.

The highest position that Belshazzar had to offer was third ruler. And that's what he offered to Daniel. Daniel says to him, verse 17, Let your gift be to yourself, king.

Give your reward to somebody else. Daniel said, I am not interested in your reward and I don't want any of your gifts. But, he said, I will interpret the writing for you, king, and I will tell you what it means. And so Daniel begins, verse 18, You, king, don't forget that the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar, your father, a kingdom. And he gave him majesty and glory and honor. And for all the majesty that he gave him, he gave him all the people and the languages and the nations and they trembled and they feared before him. And he could kill whoever he wanted and he could keep alive whoever he wanted.

And he could put up anyone he wanted and he could put down anybody he wanted. But when his heart was lifted up and his mind was hardened in pride, he was deposed from his throne and his glory was taken from him. And he was driven out from the sons of men and his heart was made like that of the beast and his dwelling was with the wild animals and they fed him grass like an ox. And his body was wet with the dew of heaven till he acknowledged that the most high God rules the kingdom of men and that he, God, appoints over it whomever he will. And you, his son Belshazzar, you have not humbled yourself even though you knew all of this. But you've lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven and you've had brought the vessels of his house out before you and you and your lords and your wives and your concubines have drunk wine in them and praised the gods of silver and gold and brass and iron and wood and stone that see not nor hear not nor know not.

And the God in whose hand your very breath lies and whose are all thy ways you've not glorified. Daniel begins by rebuking the king, reminding him of what happened to Nebuchadnezzar, how that he was a mighty king and conqueror, how that he had unlimited earthly power, how this led to Nebuchadnezzar being boastful and proud and arrogant and how the God of the universe humbled him. And the result was that Nebuchadnezzar realized that the God of Israel, not Nebuchadnezzar, was in charge of the universe. Nebuchadnezzar became a great worshiper of the God of Israel.

Now here comes the great indictment against Belshazzar, verse 22. And you, Belshazzar, you have not humbled yourself even though you knew all of this that happened to Nebuchadnezzar. You see, friends, apparently what happened to Nebuchadnezzar was not a secret even many years later in the reign of Belshazzar. It's true that Nebuchadnezzar had sent a circular around, we read about it in Daniel 4, and had told the people of his empire how God had done this to him. Now, even some 20 or 30 years later, it's no secret, Belshazzar knew it. Daniel reminded him that he knew it. But even though he knew it, he refused to humble himself, but to the contrary, Daniel looks at him and says, you, Belshazzar, have dared to challenge this God by profaning the vessels of his temple and by giving them to your false gods instead.

And the fact that you knew all that happened to Nebuchadnezzar, but you did what you did anyway, only makes your blasphemy all the worse. Can you picture this classic confrontation here? Regally dressed, half drunk, young king Belshazzar, facing regally spirited, stone sober, seasoned prophet of God, Daniel.

I'm sure you could have heard a pin drop in the room. And then Daniel went on to interpret the writing. The writing consisted of four Aramaic words. And this is the writing, verse 25, that was written, Daniel said.

Many, many, tekel, eufarsin. Those were the four Aramaic words. And here's what they mean, Daniel says.

The first one, menes, in Aramaic, literally means numbered. And so Daniel says, what this means is that God has numbered your kingdom and he's finished it. You may feel so secure behind those high walls, Belshazzar, but walls don't keep kingdoms in power. God does. And God has decided, Belshazzar, that you and your kingdom are history.

Your number's up. And then he went on to the second word, tekel, which in Aramaic literally means to be weighed in a balance. And Daniel said, you have been weighed in the balances and you have been found wanting.

You have been found deficient. The idea of the gods weighing the king in the balance is a very common concept in the ancient Near East. In fact, the ancient Egyptians built this concept into the central issue of the afterlife for the Pharaoh. The god of the dead would take Pharaoh's heart and he would put it in the balance. And on one side he'd put the heart of that Pharaoh and on the other side he would put a feather. And if the heart of the Pharaoh was lighter than the feather that meant that he had been pure and he went to Pharaoh heaven, so to speak. But if his heart was heavier than the Pharaoh it meant that his heart was weighed down with sin and he needed to be punished. And so Belshazzar could relate to what Daniel was saying that God had examined his heart, God had weighed his heart and found him deficient. And finally, Eufarsin or Perez as Daniel pronounces it.

It's the very same Aramaic root, two forms of the same root and it means in Aramaic to be divided. So Daniel says, your kingdom is divided and has been given to the Medes and the Persians. That's it Belshazzar, lights out. Verse 29, then Belshazzar commanded and they clothed Daniel with purple and put a chain of gold around his neck. And they made a proclamation concerning him that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom, but you know what, I don't really think Daniel cared. He probably took the robe off, threw it down at Belshazzar's feet, took off the chain, threw it down at his feet, said I don't care, why do I want to be third ruler in a kingdom that's not even going to last for the next 24 hours?

And he walked out. The Bible says that that very same night, Belshazzar the king of the Babylonians was slain and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom being about 62 years old. That very night the Persians took the city, killed Belshazzar just as the Nabonidus cylinder says they did and the Babylonian Empire came to a screeching halt. You say, well Lon, how did the Persians do it? How in the world did they ever get through that crazy wall? Well the answer is they didn't get through that crazy wall, they got under it.

You say, do what? Herodotus, the Greek historian, and I quote, Cyrus the Persian advanced against Babylon. The Babylonians had laid up provisions for many years and therefore were under no apprehension about a siege. Having stationed the bulk of his army near the place where the Euphrates River enters Babylon, Cyrus diverted the river by means of a canal and made the channel affordable by sinking the river. When this took place, the Persians entered Babylon by this passage, fording in the river up to their thighs. If the Babylonians had been aware of this beforehand, they would not have allowed the Persians to enter the city but would have utterly destroyed them.

But the Babylonians were dancing at the time and enjoying themselves for there was a great feast going on and thus Babylon was taken for the first time, end of quote. Darius the Mede became the ruler of Babylon. You say, Darius the Mede?

I thought it was Cyrus. Well, we're going to talk about that next week and we'll solve that problem. One historical problem per message is enough. We'll save Darius the Mede for next time. Now all of this leads us to ask a question and the question is, so what?

Yeah, right. The key point under so what I feel is found back in verse 22 where Daniel says to Belshazzar, you Belshazzar, even though you knew all of this, you haven't humbled yourself before God. Even though he knew all of what? Well, even though he knew all of what had happened to Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar had been a heathen, a pagan, a blasphemer, an infidel. He had his run-ins with Jehovah and yet God never brought this kind of swift destruction to Nebuchadnezzar but Belshazzar, God chopped him in two swiftly and without remedy.

Why? What was the difference? Well, Nebuchadnezzar had very little knowledge of the true God. Yes, he learned a little bit about the true God in Daniel chapter two when his dream was interpreted by Daniel and then he learned a little bit more about the living God in Daniel chapter three when the three youths were saved out of the furnace and then in Daniel chapter four, he learned a lot more about the living God when he became insane and God forced him to become humble and he repented and he surrendered to God. On the other hand, Belshazzar knew all of this. He had lots of information about God and yet he took all of that information that had been passed on to him through the experiences of Nebuchadnezzar and he spurned it and he ignored it and he defied it. The point is each of these men received different treatment from God based on how much they knew and understood about the living God.

Nebuchadnezzar knew virtually nothing and God treated him with much more mercy than he did Belshazzar who knew very much. Even though the two men acted the same very often, God judged them based on what they knew and what they did with it. Now there's a biblical principle here and the biblical principle is found repeated over and over in the New Testament.

I'd like you to turn to Matthew chapter 11 and let me show you Jesus pronouncing this principle. Matthew chapter 11 verse 20. Then he began to upbraid the cities or to rebuke the cities in which most of his mighty works were done because they did not repent. And Jesus said, woe to you Chorazin, woe to you Bethsaida, for if the mighty works that were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say to you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment than for you.

Now why? Why are Tyre and Sidon going to get better treatment, an easier treatment at the day of judgment than these cities of Chorazin and Bethsaida? Because Tyre and Sidon did not have the same amount of light. They did not have the same amount of information about who God was that Chorazin and Bethsaida had who had seen the living Christ do all of his miracles. So even though both cities rejected God's offer to repent and even though the people in both of those cities are under the judgment of God and will be in hell, one group of them will be treated much more leniently than the other because they had less information.

And one will be treated much more stringently than the other because they rejected greater light. Look what else Jesus said. And you Capernaum, who are exalted unto heaven, will be brought down to hell for if the mighty works that had been done in you had been done in Sodom, Sodom would still be here today.

What an amazing statement. Jesus said if I had sent angels to Sodom to do in Sodom the miracles that I have done in Capernaum, Sodom would have repented and would never have been destroyed by God. But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you.

Why? Because you Capernaum had more light and you ignored and rejected more information about God than Sodom ever had. And that means your judgment will be stricter. Jesus said this very same thing in John chapter 15. Speaking in John chapter 15 verse 22, here's what Jesus said. He said, If I had not come and spoken unto the Jewish people, they might not have had the same amount of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Is he saying that the Jewish people or any group of people aren't sinners in the sight of God? No. Is he saying that only if Jesus comes and talks to you personally do you become a sinner in the sight of God?

No. But what Jesus is saying is that the more light he gave these people, the greater accountability for their sin became theirs. To whomever much is given, much will be expected. And because Belshazzar had been given more, much more information and knowledge about God than Nebuchadnezzar, he was treated much more harshly.

God expected more of him. Now how does all this relate to you and me? Well, first of all, we should tell lost people this. You know, when you share the gospel with somebody, you need to tell them that because you've shared this information with them, if they don't repent, if they don't receive Christ, they will be treated more harshly in the judgment of God than if they'd never even met you. And there are going to be a lot of people that you share Christ with who don't end up repenting and don't end up going to heaven, who in hell for all of eternity are going to bemoan the day they ever met you and you told them about Jesus because God's going to hold them accountable for what you told them. But praise the Lord, keep telling people about Jesus because think of all the ones who will respond and do something about it. But nonetheless, we need to tell people when we share Christ with them that God is going to hold them accountable for the information they've just been given. But far more importantly than just that, I believe this has direct bearing on us as Christians because you know, dear friends, with all that we know as Christians, God's expectations from us are much higher because to whomever much is given, much shall be expected. And there are many, many Christians sitting here this evening, many, many Christians in our church and in churches all over the world who've been sitting and learning about God for 5 years, 10 years, 15, 20, 30, 40 years, who have piled up enormous amounts of information about God and what God wants from them, what God expects from them, who call themselves mature Christians and they pride themselves in that.

Yes, that's nothing to pride ourselves in unless we're doing what we know. Actually, that's something I feel to be quite scared of because the older we get as Christians and the more we learn, the more God expects of us. I have a teenager. I have a 5-year-old. I don't expect the same thing from my 5-year-old as I do my teenager. Every once in a while my 5-year-old surprises me and acts more like an adult than my teenager does.

But generally speaking, that's not true. I don't expect my 5-year-old to go out and cut the grass in the front and in the back like I asked my teenager to do and expect him to do. I don't expect my 5-year-old to watch over the house and be a help to his mom when I'm away on a trip, but I expect my teenager to.

Why? Because my teenager is older. My teenager knows more.

I expect more of him. And that's normal. And that's natural. That's what you did with your children or that's what you will do. And that's what God is telling us, that the more we know and the older we get as Christians, the more he expects, the more he has a right to expect. And you know, that demands that we as Christians exercise extreme care in how we live. And the older you are as a Christian and the more you've grown, I submit to you, the more care you need to exercise. Because I have found that what God will tolerate from unbelievers, he will not tolerate from me. And what God will tolerate from younger believers, he will not tolerate from me.

Because I know better and he expects more. That's kind of a sobering thought. You bet it is. But it's good for us to be sobered up every once in a while. It's good for us to understand that God does expect things from us and that when we get to heaven and we have our performance evaluation before God at the Bema Seat of Christ, 2 Corinthians chapter 5, God will evaluate us, not based on what we did, but based on what we did in light of what we knew. And sometimes I think my dad, who died a week after receiving Christ and is in heaven today, sometimes I think that my dad probably got or will get a much more generous and merciful hearing at the judgment seat of Christ than I'm going to get because he knew virtually nothing. And he probably did a better job of living up to what he knew, the little bit of it that he knew, than perhaps I've done in the last 20 years of living up to all that I know.

My dear friends, remember, God evaluated Belshazzar based on what he knew. Daniel said to him, because you knew all of this and you didn't humble yourself, God's going to cut you in pieces tonight. And that reminds me in closing of 1 Thessalonians chapter 5 verse 4. But you, brethren, Paul says, you are not in the darkness, that the day should overtake you as a thief, but you are the children of light and the children of the day. We are not of the night nor of the darkness, therefore do not let us sleep. Let us not sleep as others do, but let us be sober and let us be awake. For they that sleep, sleep in the night, and they that get drunk, get drunk in the night. But we who are of the day, we need to be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us that whether we wake or sleep, we should live with Him. Therefore, exhort one another and comfort each other with these words, even as you do. Brethren, we need to exhort one another with these words. We are not of the day, of the night rather, we are of the day. God doesn't expect us to act like the people who are of the night. The more we grow as Christians, the more God expects us to live like children of the day. How are you doing?

How are you doing? Are you getting sloppy around the edges and saying, Oh well, I know Christ, He will forgive me. Other Christians do it. Be careful.

Be careful. It doesn't matter what anybody else does, what any other Christian does. The thing that matters is, what do you know and what are you doing in light of it? To Him who knows to do right and doesn't do it. To Him, James says, it is sin. May God use His word to sober us up, to call us back to serious living for Christ. As Christians, let's pray. Heavenly Father, thank you for the opportunity to open your word this evening. And thank you for the chance to study this great section of the Bible. Remind us this evening, Lord, that this is not just a nice story. It is not just a historical record, but it is biblical principles in action.

And the principle that we've seen in action this evening is that to whom much is given, much is expected. And Lord Jesus, I pray for those of us here, almost all of whom are Christians. Almost all of us here have been Christians for a while. And most of us here have a high degree of Bible knowledge. So this is the right audience to speak this message to. Lord Jesus, touch our hearts and grip our souls with the fact that you're going to evaluate us based on what we know.

And most of us know more than we're living up to. Lord, help us not justify our behavior by saying other Christians do it, younger Christians do it. God will forgive. Help us be smarter than that, Lord.

Help us instead to say, what do I know? What does God expect? And Lord Jesus, help me live up to that by your grace. Make us sober-minded, not grumpy, not grim, not gruesome, but sober-minded, serious about our Christian commitment. And Lord Jesus, use us this week to tell others about you. We pray these things in Jesus' name. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-10 10:12:17 / 2023-06-10 10:28:48 / 17

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