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The Dangers We Face

Memorial Day  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  40:44
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Daniel 5:1-31
Memorial Day is a time each year when we pause to remember those who laid down their lives for family, friends and freedom. One week after the Pearl Harbor attack President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “Those who long enjoy such privileges that we enjoy forget in time that others have died to win them.” Freedom is never really free; it’s almost always bought with the blood of patriots.
The biggest battle we, as Americans, are facing today is the battle for the very soul of our nation. We see it all around us every day. The erosion of our society has been a slow process, but we’ve seen it accelerate rapidly in the just the past few decades. It really doesn’t matter whether there’s a Democrat or a Republican sitting in the Oval Office, this nation that we’ve all come to know and love continues to erode. The position we’re in today is because of what we tolerated yesterday. And, the position we’ll be in tomorrow will be because of what we tolerate today.
Well, history has a way of repeating itself down through the centuries. In Daniel’s day, he saw a lot of what we’re seeing today. But, his situation was much worse. The fifth chapter of Daniel describes the collapse of a culture. They became so comfortable and secure within the confines of their strong walls, but they crumbled from within.
Babylon made four huge mistakes. They lost all sense of remembrance. They lost all sense of reality. They lost all sense of restraint. And, they lost all sense of respect.
On this Memorial Day, my prayer is that we would be challenged to be a people of repentance and that we would acknowledge that anything we do is vanity without the presence of the Holy Spirit living and working in our lives.
Let’s talk briefly about the...

The Danger of Losing All Sense of Remembrance (Daniel 5:18-23)

Belshazzar’s problem was the same many people have today. He had forgotten some of the valuable lessons from the past. Lessons like his predecessor, Nebuchadnezzar, had learned the hard way. Lessons like, “Those who walk in pride He is able to put down” (Dan. 4:37)
In most cases, pride always comes before destruction. Daniel gives us an important insight when he challenges the king with the accusation that “you have lifted yourself up against the Lord of Heaven.” That’s what Belshazzar was doing, boasting about himself. He picked up right where King Nebuchadnezzar left off, saying, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty (Daniel 4:30)?”
Pride always leads to a fall. It’s right up there at the top of the list of those things which God despises. If you don’t want to take my word for it, just ask Satan. Ask Adam and Eve. Ask King David. Ask Simon Peter. Yes, “Those who walk in pride He is able to put down” (Daniel 4:37).
America used to honor God unashamed and openly. It’s etched in numerous monuments all over the nation’s capital. It’s carved in granite on many of the government buildings we hold dear. It’s printed on our currency. There was a time when we credited Him with our blessings and our successes and turned to Him in our trials and our losses. But today, like Babylon, we seem to have lost a sense of remembrance.
President Woodrow Wilson said it best, “A nation that does not remember what it was yesterday does not know what it is today, or what it is trying to do. We are about a futile thing if we do not know where we came from or what we have been about.”
In many ways, we’ve forgotten our past. What was it about America that made us so great and caused men and women from nations all around the world to risk their lives and fortunes to come here? Is there something about America that distinguishes us from our neighbors to the north and south? Canada was settled by French explorers who were looking for gold. Mexico was settled by Spanish explorers who were also looking for gold. America was settled by men and women who came here primarily looking for God. They came searching for a home where God could be exalted and worshiped in spirit, freedom and truth.
We’ve fallen a long way from where we once were. We’ve gotten so far off our founders’ path that it’s not uncommon to see the federal courts repeatedly doing things such as restricting manger scenes from city squares and removing ten commandment displays from government buildings.
Unfortunately, there are some sobering similarities between ancient Babylon and modern day America. And just like Babylon, there’s an expensive price to pay when a nation loses all sense of remembrance of who they are and where the’ve come from.
But not only is do we see a danger in losing all sense of remembrance, there is also...

The Danger of Losing All Sense of Reality (Daniel 5:1)

In order to understand how the king had lost all sense of reality around him, we need to remember that outside the city walls of Babylon, the Medes and the Persians surrounded the city. But inside, Belshazzar is partying. The Babylonians thought that because of their history of dominance and their strong walls they were invincible and indestructible. Those walls stretched for sixty miles in circumference. But everywhere you looked beyond them you could see the enemy surrounding the city. But, no problem, they thought. After all, the walls were so high and thick they were impossible to penetrate and a twenty-year supply of rations lay inside.
So, what did Belshazzar do? He lost all sense of reality. He threw a big party and invited thousands of guests when destruction was at his door.
When we begin to feel secure in our own strength, danger is just on the other side of the wall. Many people today think that just because they got away with something before, they’ll get away with it again. This king was too blind and drunk on his own success to realize that the strength of a kingdom, or an individual, is never on the outside but on the inside. Babylon soon fell because they had become corrupt on the inside with no more sense of remembrance or reality.
Some people today foolishly think that somehow God needs America to carry out His plan on earth. After all, we’ve won all the world wars, the cold war is over, and we seem to be the only real superpower still standing in the world today. But, I believe God is saying to us today, “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he also fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).
Like those in ancient Babylon, we too, think that we’re invincible. But remember, there was a time when Israel was the world’s only superpower. They were one nation under God. Their motto was “In God we trust.”
Three thousand years later, God gave birth to another nation. God gave America a law built and based on Israel’s ancient commandments. Why should we think we are invincible? I think that now, more than ever, it’s time for us to remember who we are where we’ve come from. I think it’s time for us to look at the reality of what’s going around us and truly pray, “God forgive us and turn back to God in repentance for I believe only then will God bless America”.
Now there is a third danger I see...

The Danger of Losing all Sense of Restraint (Daniel 5:2)

When a nation, or an individual, loses all sense of remembrance and reality, they also lose all sense of restraint. The Babylonians were too blind to see any connection between moral decay and national decline. Sound familiar? This verse describes what the Old Testament politely calls “concubines.” These were women who were kept for the king’s pleasure for the purpose of sexual gratification and additional procreation. Our nation, like Babylon, has been virtually given over to sexual permissiveness and perversions of all types.
I don’t have enough time here this morning to describe all the various forms of sexual perversion that bombard our society through movies, television, media and the Internet. Men have stopped leading their families in spiritual and moral development. They’ve neglected their wives and children in pursuit of material wealth and power. They’ve become so busy with their jobs that they ignore their wives and become involved with other women outside the home. As a result, their wives begin to seek their own worth and value outside the home. Then, because male and female role models are no longer prominent in the home, children are developing identity problems of their own. Many of them are neglected and, for the most part, undisciplined. I don’t believe I need to go any further with application at this point. Much like the Babylonians, we’ve lost all sense of restraint.
But not only that there is...

The Danger of Losing All Sense of Respect (Daniel 5:3-4)

Here we see the crumbling culture of Babylon. Nothing was sacred to them anymore. They had abandoned all absolutes, there were no more restraints and now there is no respect for anything that is sacred. It was party time in Babylon.
Then an amazing thing happens. “The fingers of a man’s hand appeared and wrote opposite the lamp stand on the plaster of the wall” (Daniel 5:5). The king sobered up. His “knees knocked against each other” (Daniel 5:7). Into the party hall comes Daniel (Daniel 5:13). Now He wasn’t at the party. Most people don’t want the man of God around when the liquor is flowing and the women are present. But, when the writing is on the wall, when the crisis comes, they no longer want their immoral friends and drinking buddies, they’re looking for someone who can tell them what this means.
As Daniel looked around, the shouting and drinking and sex had come to a stop. A strange silence filled the banquet hall. People looked as if they were frozen in time. The sacred vessels were scattered around the tables. Daniel was the only one in the room who was calm. Then he did what every preacher should do. He took God’s word, and without fear or favor simply revealed to them what God said.
Listen to Daniel as he stands before them. Before he interpreted the handwriting on the wall, he preached a sermon to them with three points. First, there was a word about power. Daniel reminded Belshazzar that King Nebuchadnezzar’s power came from God (Daniel 5:18-19). Second, there was a word about pride. Daniel reminded the king that Nebuchadnezzar lost his kingdom because of pride (Daniel 5:20). Third, there was a word about punishment (Daniel 5:21). King Nebuchadnezzar was punished until he came to realize that the “Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses”(Daniel 4:32).
Next, Daniel applied the text. “You have not humbled yourself, although you knew all this” (Daniel 5:22). He said, “King Belshazzar, you knew about the power, the pride, and the punishment. But, sadly, you’ve lost all sense of remembrance, reality, restraint and respect.”
When we forget these things, we become blind to the fact that, like Babylon, our problems are not primarily political, economic or social. The decline of any nation stems from spiritual factors. Everything else is just symptomatic.
Back to the banquet. The hall is silent. Daniel now reveals the handwriting on the wall. “Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin” (Daniel 5:25). These words reveal the three elements involved in the sinner’s destruction. Numbered. Weighed. Separated. In other words: Your days are numbered numbered, judgement is coming, you will be separated from God for eternity.
Now the ballroom is a scene of fright and terror, but there was one person who stood peacefully. He wasn’t scared; he wasn’t concerned about his destiny because he knew the One who had written on the wall.
The fifth chapter of Daniel concludes with these words, “That very night Belshazzar…was slain and Darius, the Mede, received the kingdom” (Daniel 5:30-31). “That very night.” While Babylon had partied with no sense of restraint or remembrance, the armies of the Medes and the Persians diverted the Euphrates into swampland and they marched right into the city through the dry river bed that ran under the city walls and took the city.
God’s judgment is certain. There’s not a wall high enough or thick enough to prevent a person, or a nation, from falling when God writes, “Mene, Tekel, Upharsin” on the wall.
Who knows how close we might be to our number being called? Who knows how close we might be to facing God’s judgement? One thing we can know for sure is which side we will be on when He separates the sheep from the goats.
Very few nations have had a history like America. For over two hundred years we’ve been a shining light to the world around us. We’ve been a launch pad to take the gospel literally to the very ends of the earth. We often hear people say, “God is our only hope.” But, I wonder if God might not be our biggest threat! What is it about America that offers us the exemption that neither Babylon or Israel were given?
There’s a last night for every nation, and for every individual. In light of eternity, what is the kingdom of Babylon or any other nation compared to the kingdom that is forfeited by men and women without Christ? Our days are indeed numbered, we need to have a sense of urgency in exchanging our own righteousness for the righteousness of Christ through the new birth that is only offered through salvation in Him.
On this Memorial Day, as we remember those who gave so much for the freedoms we enjoy today, may we be reminded that, in the words of Daniel, “The Most High still rules over the affairs of men” (Daniel 4:32). And, may we humble ourselves before Him...and may God bless America!
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