Sun, 4 October 2015
“The Handwriting’s on the Wall”
Key verse: “This is the interpretation of the matter: Mene, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; 27 Tekel, you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting; 28 Peres, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians” (Daniel 5:26-28).
Fornette Fever is sweeping the nation. I want to coin that phrase this morning. Fornette Fever. I'm talking about Leonard Fornette, III. All right. He is the running back for the LSU Tigers and he is the leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy. He is leading the nation in scoring. He is leading the nation in touchdown. He is leading the nation in total yards rushed. He's leading the nation in yards rushed per game. All of that, having played one less game than all of the competition. So, he's and amazing, amazing fellow. I want to give you a little piece of advice. Let a sleeping beast lie. Don't poke your finger in Mike's eye! Auburn did not get the memo. All right, we played Auburn a couple of weeks ago, and one of their defensive players, he was one of the cornerbacks, or safety or somebody back there, here’s what he said about Fournette. He said, "Stopping Fournette shouldn’t be difficult, not much of a challenge." Well of course, Fournette heard about that, as did the LSU Tigers. They answered not with a word, but with the game. The first time Fournette touched the ball, he romped across the field for seventy-one yards. He went on to rush that day, in fact the whole team, ran for four hundred and eleven yards. The most the Tigers have ran for in over twenty-years. So, the moral of the story is this, don’t smack talk a superior opponent. Now just to remind you guys, and reinforce what I have been saying, watch this.... Rewind Campus Insiders
Well all right. So again, if you are going to smack talk, be careful who you are smack talking. Right?
I want to take you to a story in the bible today where there was some smack talk going on. The guy in the story was not smack talking another player, he was smack talking the Creator. God, himself. Here's the story. It's from Daniel, chapter 5. It goes like this. There was a king. His name was Belshazzar. He was the king of Babylon. Babylon, at that time, was the greatest empire of its day. Babylon, the city, was, of course, its capital. He called for a feast to be held. He invited a thousand of his lords, along with their wives and all of their conconkybines. They all got together in the great palace hall and Babylon. They began to feast. Over and over again, the scripture tells us that they were drinking wine. I take from numerous references, and the verbs that are used there that they were actually getting drunk. It was a wild, drunken, party. You can imagine with the wives, concubines, there, I wont go into detail, but it was a wild party. It went from bad to worse, when Belshazzar, somehow got this idea to call for them to bring to the feast hall, some gold and silver vessels, that had been in the temple in Jerusalem. Now, just to jog your memory, Babylon had conquered Jerusalem. They had destroyed the temple and they had taken from the temple, several of the articles that were there. They had been in sort of a museum of sorts for decades. I suppose to demonstrate the superiority of the Babylonian gods over the God of Israel. But this man made the mistake, this king did, he said, "Bring those golden vessels to me." When they came in, they began to pour into those vessels, that were meant for the worship of Almighty God, their wine. They began to toast, false gods, gods of gold and silver, and bronze and metal and stone and praise those false gods. All the while, blaspheming the one true God. What was it? It was scriptural smack talk. Don’t smack talk your superior. But they were reveling there in the banquet hall. Just as their wild revelry was reaching its climax, in their drunkenness and their sexuality, in that moment a hand appeared. Now, this October, we are getting close to Halloween, OK; here is you a Halloween story. A real one. A hand appears. No arm attached. No body to it. But a hand appears and the hand begins to write in the plaster of the feast hall some words. And as that hand appeared, right by the lampstand, the Bible says, so that it was illumined for everyone to see. I can imagine, that banquet hall went completely silent. All of those guys who had been drinking, all of the sudden, you talk about sobering up in a hurry; they sobered up in a hurry. They were watching those words being carved into the plaster with this bodiless hand. The king was terrified. The Bible says, actually that his knees knocked together he was so afraid. He called for the astrologers, the enchanters, the magicians, the wise men of his kingdom to come and to tell him what did these words mean. They all came, but as we have seen prior in the book, they were of no help whatsoever. They were charlatans. They were frauds. They couldn’t interpret what was being done. About that time, when all hope seemed to be lost, the queen came out. Now, I take it from study, that this was not the wife of Belshazzar. We might refer to her as the queen mother. She perhaps was even Belshazzar's mother. Maybe a daughter of King Nebuchadnezzar. She had been in the royal line. She knew the history of what God had done in Babylon. She said O King, don’t let your knees knock together, don’t be terrified. There is someone in the kingdom who can tell you what these words mean. He is Daniel. That old prophet that had been brought captive to Babylon by your grandfather, Nebuchadnezzar. He can tell you what the words mean. So the king sent for Daniel to come. And Daniel came in. Daniel saw the handwriting on the wall. Daniel knew immediately what it meant. I’m going to share with you, what the words on the wall, the handwriting on the wall, meant. It was a message not only for that smack talker, Belshazzar, but it’s a message for every one of us today. In honor of that message and God's word, I want to ask you to stand up. To show your respect for Him. We are going to read what was written on the wall. Daniel chapter 5, beginning in verse 25. And this is the writing that was inscribed: Mene, Mene, Tekel, and Parsin. This is the interpretation of the matter: Mene, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; Tekel, you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting; Peres, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”
Lets pray together. God I thank you for the hundreds of people that have gathered here for this moment. To hear you speak from your word to us. God I pay that something of the effect of how Belshazzar must have felt and those lords and ladies as they saw that hand writing. How awakened and sobered they were to see it. I pray that somehow, we might feel similarly. And that we would hear you speaking to us, today, through these ancient, but true words. Open every ear. Open every heart to your message today God. I pray it in Jesus name, Amen. Please be seated.
For the message today, I want to invite you to a feast. I know everybody loves a party. I’m going to invite you to go to this party that was held so long ago there in Babylon. I want to call it, a senseless party. If you want to follow along this morning, the outline is on the back of your worship guide. You can write in those blanks, it will help you pay attention. Listen to the voice of God. I want to invite you to a party. This is a party I’m going to call, a senseless party. Look in verse one that opens up this chapter. It says, King Belshazzar, made a great feast for a thousand of his lords and drank wine in front of the thousands. Now, this is an occasion. This is kind of like Cinderella going to the ball. You know and the King is their and all the attendants, all the lords and the ladies and there is sumptuous food and drink for all. It’s a festive occasion. You want to be there right? Maybe not. This was a senseless feast. I know what some of you are thinking. You are thinking, ok here we go, party pooper. The preacher he's going to put douse, a damper on our fun. God's a killjoy. He’s a spoilsport. He doesn’t want us to enjoy life. Listen friend. Listen. The only way you will really know joy, the only way you are really going to know genuine deep satisfaction is by honoring the living God. He's not a party pooper. He, in fact, He's the life of the party. Did you not know this? Let me illustrate. You remember that young couple that were going to be married? And like all weddings, and all couples, they make out their invitation list. Guess whom they put on their invitation list? Jesus. They wanted Jesus to be at their wedding. Let me just recommend to some of you out here that are engaged, when you are making out your invitation list, you make sure Jesus is first on the list. Lord we want you at our wedding. We want you to be honored. Well, this young couple invited Jesus to their wedding. You may remember the story. They had been partying, in those days; the wedding went on for several days. They had been partying those days and the party was going to grind to this very uncomfortable end, because they had run out of supplies. In that instance, Jesus intervened. He took the common things of life, water, and he turned it into the most exquisite thing they had ever drunk. Jesus did that. He brought life to the party. You remember man, Jesus doesn’t steal joy, Jesus, really knowing him and really following him, Jesus give joy. He’s no against parties, he's just against senseless parties. All right? You remember another occasion, talking about parties. Do you remember? There was a man in the New Testament, in the Bible days, he had two sons. One of the boys, the younger of them, came to his daddy. I think he had grown weary of life around the farm. He said Dad; I want you to give me my inheritance, now. A radical request of the father. I’m sure with a heavy and broken heart he conceded to his son's request. He gave him his share of the inheritance. You remember what the boy did? He took that money, and he's like, I’m outta here! He went off to a far land. There he spent all of that hard earned inheritance that his daddy had garnered over the years. The bible says he wasted it on riotous living. Women, wine, wild parties, senseless parties. One morning he woke up literally in the pigsty. He is wallowing there in the mud among the pigs. He thought to himself, don’t the servants in my daddy's house eat better than the husks that I am eating here in this pigsty? He said I’m going home. He got up and he began to go back home. I can imagine the scene, cant you? That daddy, broken hearted, praying for his boy. That God would bring him back home. That daddy, I can just picture him, sitting in a rocker, on the front porch. He’s looking out across the horizon there across the pastures. He’s praying, even as the sun is setting, Oh God, God bring Johnny home. God, turn his heart. About that time, as the sun is setting he sees the silhouette of a figure. He stands up, squints his old eyes to see better. He can see by the gait of the young man, the way he is walking. He says, I think I see my boy. I think that’s my boy coming home! The bible says that he ran to his son. He didn’t stand there with his hands on his hips and a scowl on his face. How dare you come home. NO! The Bible says he ran to where his boy was. He threw his arms around that stinking boy, muddy from the hog slop. He kissed him and he said Hey, bring out the supplies. Kill the fatted calf because my son, who was dead, now is alive. He said let’s party! Well that’s not the King James, but you know what I mean. Lets celebrate! I remember the first time I ever heard that story preached in Spanish. We were missionaries to South America. The preacher, when he was preaching along he said, "Y el hijo regreso a casa y el padre dijo, 'Hagamos fiesta!'" I only understood the last word. Fiesta! But if you look back in the Spanish bible, that’s exactly how it’s translated. Lets have a fiesta. Lets have a party! Listen friend, God's not against parties! The right kind. But the senseless kind, he's against. He is.
This was senseless party. I’m going give you two reasons it was senseless. Number one, because of the setting of that party. Now you probably don’t know this, but let me clue you in to what was going on that very night. Even secular historians tell us the story. We have it in Daniel five, but we can also read of it in Herodotus and Xenophon. The great Greek historians. That very night, Cyrus the Great was coming from Persia with the Meads and the Persian army. They had encircled the Babylon. As they were partying in the banquet hall, the smoke from a thousand Persian campfires were rising to the heavens. They had put a siege on the city. There is King Belshazzar, ensconced in the city. I suppose he thought he was invulnerable. He could not be defeated. He was untouchable. After all, don’t you remember I told you guys, the wall of Babylon were some eighty feet thick. That’s about the width of this auditorium. They stood about three hundred feet high. Chariots could race around the top of the walls of Babylon. Inside the walls of that city, they food stored for twenty years. They had plenty of water. They had built the city over the Euphrates River and the river flowed right beneath the city walls through the city and out the other side. I suppose he thought he could ever be taken or defeated. So there they are, with danger encroaching from every side, partying it up! Pass me the wine, let’s drink, lets engage in immorality. What a foolish man he was. He didn’t know that very night his soul was going to be exacted of him. I like a party. Sometimes its time to party. When there’s a wedding. When there’s a reunion. When there’s a salvation. The bible says, listen to this! Listen to this, the bible says, when a sinner repents, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels. You hear that? There is a party in heaven whenever somebody gets saved. You say the angels are rejoicing, no that’s not what the bible says. The bible says, listen, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels. It’s not the angels rejoicing, you know who is rejoicing? God is rejoicing! He is celebrating. I love a party as much as anybody. But not the senseless kind. I think about America. Sometimes I think we think that we're undefeatable. We can’t be conquered. We’re surrounded by a moat. We have the Pacific Ocean on one side protecting us from China and Russia. We’ve got the Atlantic on the other side; nothing from Europe or Africa could come and harm us. We think we're impregnable. We think we have walls about us that reach to the heavens. Do you know how Babylon was taken that night? Upstream, upriver, King Cyrus had told his engineers to create a dam of sorts. A sluice. They re-routed the Euphrates River out of its riverbed into some swampland and as the water trickled out of Babylon, the Persian walked into the city beneath the walls in the bed of the river. Not a shot was fired. Not a sword was clashed; they took the city without a battle. In fact they say the only one killed that night was King Belshazzar himself. Now you think about the setting we live in. we think we are impregnable. We think no one can defeat us. Yet we smack talk the Lord. We curse; we take his name in vain. We engage in all kinds of sexual perversion. We drink, we party, and we live in debauchery, as if God would never hold us accountable. It’s a mistake. It was a senseless feast. Because of it’s setting, and here’s the second reason. Because of the sin at the party. The sinning that was there. I’ve already alluded to this. They were drinking. Now, you all know what the bible says, do not be drunk with wine wherein is excess, because it leads to debauchery. We’re not to be drunk. My own view, my own stance the best way not to get drunk is never take the first drink. I don’t touch the stuff. I don’t smoke, I don’t do drugs and I recommend the same o you. These people were not living that way that night. Man they were drinking it up. They were becoming inebriated. They weren’t thinking clearly. Perhaps for that reason he calls for the vessels from the Temple. And he profanes them. There in that orgy, with the wives and the concubines and the wine flowing freely, they curse the God of Heaven. Be careful. Be careful how you live. God will hold us accountable.
Now let me go to the second thing. I talked about a senseless party. But here, listen to this, in that moment, as the party reached its zenith, its apex that hand appears. And you all know the phrase, the handwriting on the wall. This is from where it comes. God wrote on the wall. And what did he write there? Listen to it. Mene Mene Tekel and Parsin. You say preacher, what does that mean? Well I’m glad you asked. The king didn’t know either. He wanted to know. You will be wise to want to know. Number one, it says something about our days. It says something about our days. The very first word is the word Mene. Look at verse 26. Mene, that is, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end. Did you know that the bible says, that every day of your life is known by God before even one of them comes to be? God knows the number of your days. He knows how long we will all live. He knows how brief it is. Listen to what the bible says, Psalm 90, verse 12. So teach us to number our days, so that we may gain a heart of wisdom. We need to learn to number our days. Life is fleeting. Life is passing. That’s what James 4 says. Yea, you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are but a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. You guys ever seen a kettle on a stove? And maybe it’s going to brew up hot tea or something of the sort. They put that thing on to boil and that little kettle begins to sing and from its spout rises a mist. But even before that mist touches the ceiling, it vanishes. It’s gone. The bible says, so are our lives. They are fleeting. They are passing us by. So quickly. That was the first word God gave Belshazzar. Your days are numbered. Times up, your numbers up. You are being held accountable. Number two. He didn’t say something only about his days. He also said something about his deficiencies. Now look at the next verse, verse 27. I’m going to put it up on the screen for you. From the bible we read these words. Tekel. What does that mean? Well really you could translate it with one word. Weighed. Here it is elaborated. Tekel. You have been weighed and in the balances and found wanting. Now I know we don’t like to weigh our selves. Do we. I actually have a scale; Nell and I do in our bathroom at home. Its very prominent right there. And every day, pretty religiously I step up on that scale. Not because I want to really, but I step up on there because I want to know what I weigh. Because I know that impinges on my health, and its something of accountability to me. It tells me, man you don’t need to eat so much. Lay off the Mountain Dew. Get some things together in your life. I weigh myself. I have yet to step on there and weigh myself and find myself wanting. You know, I’m never deficient. In fact I get on there and I’m always like, oh man, I need to lose twenty pounds. And probably, you are like that too. Our problem is that we weigh too much. But the problem with Belshazzar was he weighed too little. You are found wanting. I weighed you and you are a lightweight. I feel like I’m Donald Trump saying that. Ha Ha. You are a lightweight. What does he mean? Well if you can imagine in your mind, a scale. All right. It’s a balance. God says, I put you on the scale. Here you are. You weigh this much. But on this side of the scale, I put all of the Holy demands of My Law; you shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make unto yourselves any graven image. You shall not take the name of the Lord Your God in vein. Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Thou shall not steal. Thou shall not kill. Thou shall not commit adultery. Thou shall not covet. And when I weighed you in this scale, against God's demands, you're wanting. You’re a lightweight. You don’t measure up. You’re deficient. We are lightweights. We are sinners. Doesn’t the bible say, for all have sinned and we've come short of the Glory of God? Mene, Mene, Tekel. Your numbers up. You’ve been weighed and you’re found wanting. Parsin. This is a word about our destiny. You see, when God weighs us, what is hanging in the balance? Our eternal destiny is. Where will we end up? What will be our end? He said to Belshazzar, that night, Perez, your kingdom is divided and given to the Meads and Persians. That is, there are consequences to the way you’ve lived Belshazzar and there always are.
Now let me come to the end. Because there is a destiny. There are potentially two separate finishes towards which we are all headed. There was one finish, here illustrated by the man Daniel. He’s what I’m going to call for the uncompromising. Daniel is now in his eighties. He’s been a captive for seventy years in Babylon. He has remained faithful to the Lord. Full of faith. What happens to him as he very boldly tells the king, your numbers up king. You’ve been weighed and found wanting. Your kingdom is going to be stripped from you. What happens? God blesses him. You can read the verses right here. What transpired in Daniel's life? God blessed him. But there is another destiny. There is another finish. That was the finish for the king. Here is the mightiest man of his empire. Called to account by God. And the bible tells us very succinctly in verse thirty. That very night, Belshazzar, the Chaldean king was killed. His number was up.
Now let me conclude. The handwriting is on the wall. Mene, Mene, Tekel and Parsin. Did you know friend, listen to me, everybody here listen to me. Those words that were written to the king so long a go, did know very honestly, they could be written of each one of us. I don’t want us to get here and look down our nose at King Belshazzar. He’s no greater a sinner than I have been. If I had to answer for the handwriting on the wall for my life, I’d be in trouble. But did you know there’s another handwriting in the Bible? I want to point you to it. It’s found in Colossians, chapter 2, verse 14. I’m just going to refer to this. Colossians, chapter 2:14. Listen to what the bible here says. Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us and he took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross. You hear that? There’s another handwriting. Those sins that we’ve committed, the things of which we are guilty, its as though those have been written. But Jesus did something wonderful. He took the handwriting that was against us and blotted it out. He nailed it to his cross. That is, he took our punishment for us. Some of you are old enough to remember, Whiteout. I took typing back in the seventy's. Ya’ll don’t even know what a typewriter is, I know. A typewriter was a machine, every time you would strike a key, there would be a corresponding strike on the paper, through a ribbon and it would imprint the letter there. Well somebody invented what they called Whiteout. It was this beautiful thing. It was a little bottle of white paint. You’d open it up and it would have a little brush. What you could do was, if you made a mistake when you were typing, you could just ratchet the paper up and dab that Whiteout on the letter where you'd made the mistake. Then put the paper back in position, and strike the new key and it would be as though you didn’t make a mistake. Awesome! Whiteout! Then somebody invented what they called an autocorrect typewriter. This was even better. Because it not only had a ribbon for the ink, it had another ribbon that was white. If you made a mistake typing, you could hit a key and it would bring the cartridge back, and you could strike the key again that you had erroneously struck and not the white ribbon and it would cancel out the mistake you’d just made. Any of you here old enough, make me feel good, anybody know what I’m talking about? All right, there you go, good. I’m not as old as I thought. Then somebody invented autocorrect on texting. [Audience Laughter] Man, I could tell ya’ll some stories about my autocorrects. Wouldn’t it be good in life? If there was a whiteout? You think about the things you’ve done. The things of which you are ashamed. Wouldn’t it be good if there was a whiteout? Wouldn’t it be good if there was an autocorrect? Friends, there is. There is. But he didn’t white it out in white. It’s whited out in red. It’s the blood of the cross. The sacrifice of Jesus. There, he nailed our offenses to the cross. Now here is your choice. Listen to me. Here is your choice. And on it your eternal destiny hangs. You can take the handwriting on the wall, or you can take the handwriting on the Cross. Which will it be?
Lets bow our heads. Thank you Lord Jesus that you blotted out our sins. You nailed our offenses there and in your body you suffered the consequences of our sin, so that we might be forgiven. We might be cleansed. That we might be accepted into your family. Oh God, thank you for this gift. I party that everyone here would make sure that they have received that gift. They have trusted in Christ. Help us Lord, I pray it in Jesus Name, Amen.