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Daniel 5:1-9; 17-28

THE PATH TO DIVINE JUDGMENT

Intro: This passage builds on the amazing story of King Nebuchadnezzar and how God worked in his life. God took a king who was filled with pride and focused on self and God broke him. God brought Nebuchadnezzar to the end of himself. God brought the pagan king to full faith in God Almighty. I am convinced by reading Daniel 4 that King Nebuchadnezzar was saved. The king honored the Lord and the Lord blessed the king, Dan. 4:34-37.

In chapter 5, Belshazzar is the new king of Babylon. He is guilty of terrible sins against God, and for these sins he paid a terrible price. His story stands as a powerful warning to those who would turn against God. Belshazzar was guilty of ignoring God, His Word and His will. Belshazzar was judged for his sins against the Lord.

In a couple of days, we Americans will celebrate the 232nd anniversary of the birth of our nation. As I consider the America of today, I am convinced there are some parallels between what Belshazzar did in his day and where America is today. I also fear there are some parallels between what happened to Belshazzar and what is awaiting America just down the road.

I want to talk about the parallels between the choices Belshazzar made in his day and the choices America has made. Belshazzar walked a path that led him directly into the path of divine judgment. I fear that America is walking that same pathway today.

Let me point out the choices Belshazzar made in his day and the choices America has made in our day. I want to take this passage and preach on The Path To Divine Judgment.

As I preach this message, we need to remember that actions have consequences, both in the lives of individuals and in the lives of nations. America is walking The Path To Divine Judgment. Let’s consider the evidence together today.

 

I. v. 18-22 HE DISREGARDED HISTORY

         Daniel reminds Belshazzar of the blessings and the problems of Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom. He had been blessed by the Lord, and when his heart was filled with pride, he was humbled by the Lord. Belshazzar had not paid attention to the lessons of the past.

         The same thing is true in our nation today. Modern society wants to distance itself from the historical foundations of our nation. But, a careful reading of history is enough to remind us of how this nation came to be.

         John Quincy Adams said, “The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: It connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.

         Now the ACLU, the liberals, the humanists, the historical revisionists would like to deny this. But it is not possible. From our very beginning the threads of government were woven together with the threads of God.

         When the Pilgrims came over on the Mayflower, they came, in their words, “For the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith.

         The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, written in 1639, the first Constitution in the modern sense of the term, drawn up by popular convention and the first to embody the Democratic idea, states in its preamble that the state owes its origin to “the wise disposition of the divine Providence, and that the Word of God requires an orderly and decent government established according to God, to maintain and preserve the liberty and purity of the Gospel.

         The Declaration of Independence referring to “...the laws of Nature, and of nature’s God...” insist “...that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator, with certain unalienable rights. They close that document by “...appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions...and ...with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence...”

         Thomas Jefferson, the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, wrote these words: The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time.

         Some of the greatest leaders of this nation were firm believers in God and in the Lord Jesus Christ. George Washington made no secret of his Christian faith. In his general order calling for divine services every Sunday during the Revolutionary War, he said, “To the distinguished character of a Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of a Christian.

         When that little rag-tag continental army was fighting against the British, and those Hessian mercenaries, it was General George Washington who went out to kneel in the snow at Valley Forge and to pray for the army.

         Ill. On more than one occasion God saved America in answer to the prayers of His people! Ill. WWII – Prayer meeting at Rufus Baptist Church.

         When a stranger came to the Continental Congress and wanted to know which one was George Washington, a friend said, “He is easy to spot. When the Congress begins to pray, Washington will be the tall man who will go to his knees.

         Probably the most revered President in our nation’s memory is Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln said, “I leave now not knowing when or whether ever I shall return with the task before me greater, than that which rested on the shoulders of Washington. Then he said, “Without the assistance of the Divine Being who attended him, I cannot succeed. With that assurance I cannot fail. Let us all pray that the God of our Fathers may not forsake us now.

         No other nation has “In God We Trust on her currency.

         No other nation has its legislative bodies opened in prayer by a personal chaplain.

         No other nation has a National Day of Thanksgiving set aside to express her gratitude to God for His goodness. Our prosperity and our progress have not been due to simple luck, but to a Sovereign Lord.

         These pundits who go around screaming about the separation of church and state have no idea what they are talking about. Our forefathers believed in the separation of church and state, but they did not believe in the separation of God and government. They believed government should not organize and control religion, but they recognized religion’s importance to good government.

         George Washington began his first inaugural with a prayer asking the blessings of “that Almighty Being, who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations...” Later he added that in “tendering this homage to the great Author of every public and private good he was certain and expressed the sentiments of Congress, as well as his own, for no people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States.” In his eyes America was no secular state, and there was no separation of God and government.

         Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “Without God there could be no American form of government, nor an American way of life. Recognition of the Supreme Being is the first - the most basic - expression of Americanism.

         The conclusion of the whole matter was aptly given by Daniel Webster who said, “...more than all, a government and a country were to commence, with the very first foundations laid under the Divine light of the Christian religion...who would wish that this country’s existence had otherwise begun? Let us not forget the religious character of our origin.

         Deny it if you try, but it cannot be denied. The secret of America’s greatness has always been her faith in Almighty God. Modern America wants to deny our Christian history. Some are attempting to rewrite the history books. In spite of their efforts, the documentary evidence still stands. America was founded as “one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.

 

 

II. v. 22 HE DESPISED HIS HERITAGE

         I am speculating, but I am sure that Nebuchadnezzar shared with Belshazzar all that the Lord had done for him. Instead of obeying the Lord as Nebuchadnezzar had done, Belshazzar despised his godly heritage and chose another path through life.

         Again, that is what our nation has done. Not every American has been godly, but our history is filled with great men and women of God who have loved the Lord and served Him faithfully. Our heritage is a heritage of faith, holiness and submission to God and His Word. This heritage is under attack in our day.

         After surviving their first year in the New World, the Pilgrims, together with some friendly Native Americans, met to give thanks to God for His blessings. Modern history books tell our children that they met to thank one another!

         School children no longer learn anything about the Great Awakenings in America. They do not hear about the great revivals that swept millions of Americans into the Kingdom of God and helped this nation establish itself as a beacon of life, liberty and religious freedom in the world.

         The first three universities established on this soil were Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. All were church colleges and all for the intention of the training for the ministry, and that is what America is really about.

         Over a decade ago a political science professor at the University of Houston did research on the topic of who the founding fathers quoted most often. They examined 3154 documents. Who did the founding father quote most often in their writings? The most quoted men were three writers. Those three writers were Blackstone (Jurist), Montague (Jurist), and John Locke (Philosopher). But 16 times more than those writers, they quoted from the Bible. And that is what America is really about.

         But what has happened in our generation? We have told God that we don’t need the Bible, we don’t need the church, and we don’t need God in the running of our nation, our schools and sadly even our homes.

         We have said that to him in many ways, however, officially we told God we didn’t need him in 1962 and we have paid the price since them. Let me explain.

In 1962 a simple prayer was the center of a great deal of turmoil. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Union Free School District No. 9 in Hyde Park, New York had violated the First Amendment by directing the Districts' principals to cause the following prayer to be said aloud by each class in the presence of a teacher at the beginning of each school day.

Permit me to read it. It says, “Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers, and our country.

What is significant about that prayer is that that simple prayer, which only acknowledges God once, and does not even contain the word Jesus. On June 25, 1962 in the case of Engel vs. Vitale, the courts declared that prayer to be unconstitutional. This ruling came about despite the fact that our own Declaration of Independence acknowledges God four separate times. But based on that decision the courts removed prayer from our schools.

         I remember when every day at school started with prayer and Bible reading. Apparently, Alabama didn’t get the memo that prayer and Bible reading were unconstitutional. (Ill. What was safe then is dangerous now!) Now, Christian students are not allowed to pray at any school function. Now, Christian students are not allowed to mention the name of Jesus Christ. Now, we are told to act as though the past never happened. We are to behave as though the past never occurred.

         As a nation we have turned our back on our godly, Christian heritage. Like Belshazzar, we have ignored the teaching, the warnings and the lessons of the previous generations. As a nation, we have despised the heritage of our forefathers.

 

III. v. 23 HE DEFILED HOLINESS

         Belshazzar took the vessels that had been consecrated for use in the Temple and he desecrated them. He treated the holy things of God as though they were common and ordinary.

         America has also put her hands on the holy things of God. As a nation, we have taken steps to defile, defeat and destroy Christianity and godliness.

         Here are just a few examples where America has defiled the things of God.

  A new Colorado law designed to protect homosexuals reads, “One may practice one's religion in private; however, once a religious person comes into the public arena, there are limitations in how the expression of their religion impacts others. This law could make preaching illegal in Colorado.

The same geniuses in Colorado gave the state SB200 which makes it illegal to bar an individual from using a public restroom marked for the opposite gender.

  The Lord’s Day has become anything but a day of rest as people run to restaurants, malls and places of entertainment.

  Homosexuality, lesbianism and immorality are openly flaunted, praised and gloried in our society.

  Prayer and the Bible have been removed from the public arena.

  The church has been trivialized and forced to the outer fringes of society. There is no respect for the church or for the things of God in our society.

When a tragedy occurs, people are called upon to pray, at other times, the church is viewed as a nuisance that should just go away and mind its own business.

  We are living in a day when Bible believing Christians are marginalized, churches are stripped of their tax exempt status and children are expelled when the dare to pray in school or bring a Bible.

         Christianity in America is under attack. There are three areas where this is true.

First, the United States Supreme Court is basing many of its decisions on United Nations and European models, rather than a clear, unbiased reading of the Constitution. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg stated, “The Supreme Court is looking beyond America’s borders for guidance in handling cases on issues like the death penalty and gay rights. The world cannot accept the notion that certain lifestyles and practices are sinful in the sight of a holy God. Therefore, they reject God and His Word completely and refuse to be ruled by Him.

Second, the trashing of the Ten Commandments has become a new trend in America. In fact, Roy Moore, Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, sacrificed his esteemed position in an effort to save the Ten Commandments from being removed from the state judicial building. The Ten Commandments are being systematically removed from nearly every place in the public arena. It is ironic and hypocritical that the same Supreme Court that ordered Judge Roy Moore to removed the Ten Commandments from the Alabama state house, issued their ruling with the same Ten Commandments hanging on the wall in their chamber.

The third major event in the persecution of Christians is the re-learning in government schools. Schools throughout the United States are eliminating all signs and symbols of the Christian faith. Discrimination toward the teachings of Jesus Christ has become the accepted norm in the public education systems in America. Any religion except Christianity is accepted in a nation founded on the Judeo-Christian ethical system. Students may write reports about Mohammed, but not Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son.

         Christian persecution is on the rise. It can be viewed throughout the complete spectrum of the American society, not just the public education system. As a result, there are several things that Christians can expect to happen in the very near future. First, as has already started, the governments of the world, including the United States, are gradually denying Christians the same privileges as other religious groups. Christians who preach against life styles that the Bible classifies as sin and an abomination to God will face increasing attacks in the days and years ahead.

 

IV. v. 23 HE DEFIED HEAVEN

         Belshazzar’s greatest sin is two-fold. According to Daniel, Belshazzar “lifted up himself against the Lord of Heaven. And he had refused to glorify God. In other words, Belshazzar defied God.

For this defiance, he paid a terribly high price. He lost his throne, his kingdom, his life and ultimately, his soul. Belshazzar experienced divine wrath because he stood in open defiance to the God of Heaven.

         That is where America stands today! This nation has rejected God, His Word, His Lordship and His ways. As a result, we are already experiencing the wrath of God. This is clear from reading Romans 1:18-32.

         America has been weighed and found wanting! Neither Barak Obama nor John McCain will be able to stop the ultimate judgment that awaits our nation. The only hope America has is for her people to turn back to God. That is the only way America will ever be saved.

 

Conc: It seems clear to me that America is following Belshazzar’s lead. It seems clear that we are walking down a path that is leading us toward the judgment of God. Of course, I believe America is already being judged by God.

What can we do?

1. We can pray for our nation and our leaders – 1 Tim. 2:1-2.

2. We can participate in the process by voting for believers and praying that God will raise up godly men and women who will run for public office.

3. We can honor God’s command for us to submit to our government and honor those He has chosen to be over us, Rom. 13:1-7. We may not like what we have or what we are about to get, but we will get the government God wants us to have.

4. We can be thankful for the freedoms we still enjoy and use them for His glory until they are taken away.

5. We can stand for what is right even if it costs us everything.

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