Billy Graham - America, Is the Handwriting on the Wall?
Now today I want you to turn with me to the fifth chapter of the book of Daniel. The book of Daniel, the fifth chapter of the book of Daniel. I suppose more than any other book in the Bible, this book predicts the future, unless it's the Book of Revelation. And when you read the Book of Revelation always read the book of Daniel. The book of Daniel in one hand, the Book of Revelation in the other, and then in front of you the daily newspaper and they all tie in, because Daniel is a book of prophesy.
But the thing that I want to talk about Daniel today is an incident that happened in his life, that I think bears on what we see happening today in our world. And in this chapter that we are turning to, I won't take time to read it to you, I'll tell it to you. It's the story of Daniel already in Babylon. He'd been carried to Babylon from Jerusalem. Jerusalem had come under the judgment of God as Jeremiah had predicted. All the judgments that Jeremiah predicted, all the judgments that the prophets predicted have all come true or they're yet to come true. This is God's word, it is an infallible word. And in many places in the scripture the Bible predicts that future Day of Judgment and that future period of judgment that is to come upon the world.
Well, Jerusalem had been judged, as Jeremiah had predicted. He said unless Jerusalem repents of their sins, they will be judged and judgment came. And among those that were carried captive away by Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon 1,500 miles away was young Daniel and his friends, they were just in their teens. And they were carried over to Babylon. And Daniel had been one of the young men that had been chosen especially by Nebuchadnezzar to be taken to Babylon and trained in his court. And trained in all the arts and sciences of the Babylonians. Now when this chapter opens, Nebuchadnezzar is dead. Daniel had been a friend and a prophet, and a prime minister for Nebuchadnezzar, the great king. But now he's more or less been forgotten. Because a young man is now on the throne by the name of Belshazzar, who was the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar the great king.
Now Babylon at that time was the greatest empire in the world, it was the most powerful nation in the world, it was the richest nation in the world. And the Bible pictures Belshazzar the king as young, rich, powerful but at the same time egotistical, self-centered. And the Bible teaches that God hates pride. And Jesus was to say years later in Matthew 23: "And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased". If you try to tell how great you are, and leave God out, or if you act as though you can solve your own problems and arrange your own life without the help of God, God says I'm going to bring you down. And then he was a man that was very carefree. He was a playboy, he loved ease and he loved pleasure. And the Bible says "Woe to them that are at ease".
We in America are at ease, in comparison to the rest of the world. And so Belshazzar had just won some military victories. And his father who was a great general was out on the frontiers leading them from victory to victory. And so he decided that he wanted to celebrate. And he decided to have a great feast and it would be the greatest feast that Babylon had ever seen. Babylon with all of its glamour, Babylon with all of its wealth, Babylon with all that it had, he said we'll have the greatest feast in the history of the world. So he ordered the finest dancers the finest wines, the best foods and he sent an invitation to a thousand of his lords and ladies throughout the empire to come and in their Jeweled chariots, they came.
And that evening as they were feasting and dancing and wining in the low hanging gardens that Nebuchadnezzar had built for his Median wife, one of the seven wonders of the world, Belshazzar became intoxicated. There he was, king of an empire. Master of a banquet, the center of all attention, dancing the night away. But the Bible says, "Be not deceived, God is not mocked. For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap". Belshazzar, watch out! Judgment is coming, you're going too far, there is a point beyond which the patience of God will not go. There's a line drawn among nations and among individuals and in families and in communities.
Job said, "They that plow iniquity and sow wickedness, reap the same". Keep on plowing your iniquity, keep on sowing your wickedness, you're gonna someday reap it. Hosea said, "For they have sown to the wind, and they shall reap a whirlwind". Jeremiah said, "They have sown wheat but they shall reap thorns". And so in the middle of this banquet, Belshazzar is dancing with a beautiful, sexy, young girl and all of a sudden everyone is quiet. You could hear a pin drop. His face turns white, the Bible says he begins to tremble, because over on the wall, an armless hand starts writing. And everyone sat there trembling wondering what this was, what strange thing this was.
And Belshazzar tried to read it. He couldn't read the message. So he said, "Let's call the astrologers and the soothsayers and the chaldeans, let's call the magicians, let's call all the people that can read this type of thing". And they came in. They couldn't read it. Belshazzar was even more afraid, the writing was getting lighter all the time and more brilliant. People were frightened. And his mother heard about it, and his mother incidentally was not at the party. But she came in, and she said, "Son, what is this I hear about a strange writing"? And he pointed over to the wall. She said, "I know a man that can read that writing. His name is Daniel, he's a great prophet. He helped your grandfather interpret dreams. He was prime minister under your grandfather, he's been living in sort of semi-retirement, perhaps you don't know him".
Daniel was not at the party but they sent for him. And he came in and Belshazzar said, "Daniel, you see that writing? If you'll read that writing I'll make the third ruler in the empire. I'll put a gold chain of authority around your neck and I'll put royal robes on you and you'll be a member of the royal family, next to me". Daniel looked at the writing and he recognized it immediately. That was his Father's handwriting, that was God the Father's handwriting and he had studied God and lived with God all these years and he knew that that was God's writing.
he said, "Belshazzar, I can read the writing, but keep your gifts, I don't want them. Give your gifts to somebody else, you see, Belshazzar, oh king, you have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven. And they have brought the vessels of God's holy house before thee and you and your lords and your wives and your concubines have drunk wine in them. And God is offended. And thou hast praised the Gods of gold and silver and brass and iron and wood and stone that see not and hear not and know not. And the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, thou hast not glorified. Yes, Belshazzar I'll read it".
God had given Belshazzar everything he had, even the ability to laugh, his food, his drink, his power his riches, everything had come from God, but he hadn't thanked the Lord for them. Daniel said, all right, here's the writing, "Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin. This is the interpretation, mene: God has numbered your kingdom and finished it". Belshazzar, you're finished, your last day has been spent on this earth. "Tekel: you have been weighed in the balances of God and found wanting. Peres: thy kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and the Persians". And while they were in the banquet, unknown, unknown to the Babylonians, the great Euphrates river was being changed in its course and the Medo-Persian army slipped under on the dry riverbed and that night Babylon fell to the Medes and the Persians. Belshazzar was killed. Daniel remained and became prime minister in the next empire. Both empires respected him for his wisdom and his faith and his purpose. And his Godliness.
Is God writing on the wall of America tonight? The word mene also means remembered. God remembers. God remembers our sins. God sees our pornography. He sees our obscene films and he sees these new films that are coming out making fun of Jesus Christ. He sees our lying and our cheating and our corruption, that goes all the way through our society. He sees it all, and the scripture says, "Be sure your sin will find you out". But he remembers something else too. It's not too late. God remembers to forget. When any group of people, any nation, will repent of their sins and turn to the Lord, he'll forgive their sins and heal the land. That's the promise of the Lord.
Secondly, he says, "Thou art weighed in the balances and found wanting". The scripture says, "Thou dost weigh the paths of the just". The Lord says, "By the Lord actions are weighed, all the ways of a man are clear in his own eyes but the Lord weigheth the spirit". The nation, the world tonight is being weighed. You are being weighed in the balances of God. Our sins are great in the eyes of the Lord, and we're being weighed in his balances. And many thinking leaders believe that the handwriting is already on the wall and the judgment is already beginning to take place. But God weighs us as individuals, what's he going to weigh us by? What's on the other side of the scales?
You see here's the scales, here's you and here's what God weighs you by. First, he'll weigh you by the Ten Commandments. How do you stand up with the Ten Commandments? Thou shalt have no other Gods before me. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not lie. Thou shalt not murder. All of these are taken in the Ten Commandments, and the Bible says if we offend in one point we are guilty of all. If you've broken one commandment one time in your life, it's the same as breaking all of them.
Well you say, of course I've broken at least one or two of them. Well then you're guilty of all. And that's the reason the Bible says we're all guilty. That's the reason Jesus said "You that are without sin, pick up the first stone and throw it at this woman taken in adultery". None of these religious leaders could do it, because we all have sin. "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God". And all are under the judgment of God. Then not only are we going to be weighed by the Ten Commandments, but we're going to be weighed by the law of love.
Matthew 22, Jesus said, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy mind, this is the first and great commandment, and the second is like unto it: thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, on these two commandments" said Jesus, "Hang all the law and all the teaching of the prophets". It's all summed up in love. Do you love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul? And do you love your neighbor? Now your neighbor means anybody that's in need, Jesus taught that in the parable of the good Samaritan. Anyone who's in need. You love that neighbor as much as you love yourself. That's what Jesus said. We're going to be weighed by that law.
Thirdly, we're going to weighed by the person of Jesus Christ. The Bible says in Psalm 89: "For who in the heaven can be compared unto the Lord? Who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the Lord"? Isaiah said, "To whom will be likened to me? And make me equal and compare me, that they should be like me". God says, "Be ye holy, for so I am holy". Now Jesus Christ was the only righteous and the only holy man that ever lived. We call some people in India holy men. But Jesus was the only truly holy man of history. And if we don't live like Jesus and live as good as Jesus is, then we come short of God's requirement. And God's expectation.
You say, "Billy, who in the world can live like Jesus"? Nobody, that's the reason you all have to say I'm a sinner. God is going to weigh us by Christ. He's going to weigh us by the Ten Commandments. He's going to weigh us by the law of love, but he's also going to weigh you by your works. Those sins of omission that you weren't even conscious of. In Matthew 25, Jesus reminds us: "For I was an hungred and you gave me no meat, I was thirsty: you didn't give me anything to drink, I was a stranger and you didn't take me in, I was naked and you didn't clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you never came and visited me". But the people will say, "Lord, where did we see you naked and sick and in prison and thirsty"? Then he answered them this way, "In as much as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me".
Now that strikes every person in this arena. And we come short and then Jesus pronounced judgment. He said, "Those that are guilty of the sin of omission and these shall go away into everlasting punishment but the righteous unto life eternal". You say, "Well, Billy I'm sort of devastated. How can any of us weigh up"? We can't. Jesus said in revelation 3: "I know your works, that you're neither hot nor cold, I would that you were hot or cold. So then because you're lukewarm I'm going to spew you out of my mouth", he said. Listen, there are going to be a lot of people that are gonna miss heaven that you think are gonna be there.
And then fifthly, he's going to weigh us by our opportunities. By our opportunities. "To whom much is given, much shall be required", he said. Think of living in America, with all of its advantages. A church on almost every corner. A Bible in almost every hotel room. Millions of Bibles available. The Gospel by radio and television. Think of living here. He's going to judge us by the opportunities we had. Think of the Christian literature that's available at bookstores, and we don't take advantage of it. "To whom much is given, much is required". You say, "Well, Billy, even on that score, I can't make it". No, but the glory of this whole thing is that there is a Gospel. And the Gospel is good news to people like you who are sitting there saying "Well, I'm guilty". The good news is that God sent his son Jesus Christ to the cross to die for you. And God took those sins of yours and those failures of yours and laid them on Christ. He became sin for us.
Now he said the just and the righteous are going to get to heaven, how am I going to get a justness and a righteousness of my own when I don't have any? I'm a sinner. I don't weigh enough to get to heaven. But on the cross, Christ provided a justness for me, he provided a righteousness for me that I didn't have. And I am acceptable tonight by God not because I've been good or because I've read the Bible, or because I preach to crowds of people - I'm acceptable because of Christ. I am accepted into the beloved because of him. And that's your privilege at this moment. You can appropriate what Christ did on the cross to you right now and you can leave here weighing enough to get to heaven. Weighing enough to have your sins forgiven. Weighing enough to live a new life. "Thou art weighed in the balances of God, and found wanting". Are you found wanting?
The last word here is "upharsin", divided. Thy kingdom is divided. God said, "Belshazzar, I'm taking your kingdom away from you, you're finished! Judgment is come, it's too late". Is God going to say that to you? Judgment is come, it's too late. I know people that know that, and accept that and believe that, and just go on merrily dancing their way to hell. They're like the mouse that's been caught in the trap that's still nibbling at the cheese after being caught. You're still nibbling at the devil's bait. And you're already dead, as far as eternity is concerned.
I believe this crusade has been held at the right time. And in the providence of God at the right moment, in the history of many of your lives. People have prayed for you, people have worked, people have given to make this possible. And now this is your moment with God to receive him into your heart. To make sure that you weigh enough. No, I won't be at the judgment. "There is therefore now no judgment to them that are in Christ Jesus". I won't see you there. The judgment that I deserve was taken by Jesus Christ at the cross, and I accepted what he did, even though it looked foolish and looked a little bit ridiculous, for me to come forward that night and say yes to Jesus Christ in front of all those people. I did it.
And I'm going to ask you in just a moment to get up out of your seat and come forward and stand in front of this platform and say by coming, "I want Christ in my heart". After you've come, I'm going to say a word to you and have a prayer with you and give you some literature. And you can go back and join your friends. But don't you let this afternoon pass until you've said yes to Jesus Christ. Because you see you may never have another moment like this. This may be the last moment that you'll ever have.
And now is the moment. You get up and come. With hundreds of people that have come this past week, even thousands, you come and join them and say today, "I want Christ to forgive my sins, I want to know I'm going to heaven. I want to weigh enough when I have to be weighed in the great scales of God at the great judgment". If you come from that top gallery up there it'll take you a couple minutes to come, so come right now quickly, from everywhere, hundreds of you. God is speaking to you. You may be in the choir, you may be an usher - whoever you are, you get up and come, we're going to wait.
As you can see on television, hundreds of people are coming here in st. Louis to make their commitment to Jesus Christ. They want to be sure that their sins are forgiven. They want to know that they weigh enough in the scales of God. No, I don't believe it's too late for America to turn to God. I believe we could have healing in our country. I believe we could turn to God and find a whole new atmosphere if we did turn to him. But that can also happen in your life as an individual, and it can happen in your home, and it can happen in your block and in your community, in your apartment, wherever you are. But it must start with somebody. It could start with you. If you will say yes to Jesus Christ right now. I hope you make that commitment. God help you to make it. And be sure and go to a church next Sunday. Good evening and God bless you.