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Babylon is Fallen

Daniel 5:1-2 reads, "Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand. Belshazzar, whiles he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink therein."

I. Babylon is fallen Daniel 5:1-10

A. Lessons of Daniel 5.

1. First, one cannot reach so high and be so great that God cannot unleash his untold power and bring one down to ruin.

2. Second, one who has suffered because of his or her sins will be delivered in due time if one changes from his or her wicked ways.

B. The ball (5:1).

1. Belshazzar the king stages a huge dinner and drinking party and invites his top 1000 officers to attend.

2. For many years the historical fact of Belshazzar’s very existence was doubted by historians. According to the known records, the last king of Babylon was Nabonidus. But recent findings have definitely authenticated Belshazzar’s reign over Babylon.

3. Nabonidus, who ruled from 556-539 b.c., for some reason chose not to make Babylon his capital, but left that dazzling city and resided in Tema of Arabia.

4. Belshazzar was thus made the co-regent of Babylon by his father.

a. This fact is brought out several times in Daniel 5 when Belshazzar offers to elevate Daniel to third ruler in the kingdom.

5. The very atmosphere and attitude of the Babylonian kings from Nebuchadnezzar to Nabonidus was filled with insanity and madness in their pride (arrogance) and power.

a. This element only goes before a fall (Prov. 16:18).

b. So the signs were there: that the Babylonian empire by its untold wickedness and the insanity and madness in pride and power by Babylonian kings were moving progressively forward to their downfall. The end of the road for the Babylonian empire is seen in Chapter 5. Their end was sealed, and their fate set in stone.

6. His feast was ill-timed, to say the least, for Babylon had been under attack by the Medes and Persians for some time. Perhaps the feast was to build morale.

C. The gall (5:2-4).

1. Belshazzar sits at his table, drunk, depraved, and demon-possessed.

2. Suddenly he is seized with a wild and wicked idea.

3. He is reminded of the gold and silver cups taken by his grandfather Nebuchadnezzar from the Jerusalem Temple.

4. He orders them brought to the feast and proposes to his guests that they drink wine from them and praise the Babylonian gods.

5. These sacred vessels were originally made by Solomon (1 Ki. 7:48-51), shown by Hezekiah (2 Ki. 20:13), and taken by Nebuchadnezzar (2 Chron. 36:10).

D. The wall (5:5, 6).

1. Suddenly in the midst of this drunken toast, they see the fingers of a man’s hand writing on the wall next to the king’s table. Belshazzar is terrified! We are told: “Then the king’s countenance was changed” (5:6). This is, literally, “his brightness changed.” In other words he immediately turned from a drunken pink to a frightened white!

2. Belshazzar “cried aloud” (literally, “in great earnest”) for some kind of help, but it was already too late. He would soon experience the fearful warning of Proverbs 1:24-27.

3. Some ten centuries before this a group of Egyptian magicians had testified concerning this heavenly hand in connection with the terrible plagues which had befallen them.

a. We read: “Then the magicians said unto Pharaoh, this is the finger of God!” (Ex. 8:19).

4. The fingers wrote in what language?

a. The first theory asserts that the writing was in a common language.

b. The second theory asserts that the writing was in Hebrew.

c. The third theory affirms that the writing was in Aramaic.

d. The fourth theory states that the writing was Aramaic words in Hebrew letters.

e. The five theory says that the writing was Hebrew words in Aramaic letters.

f. The sixth theory declares that the writing was in Aramaic or Hebrew, but they were set in such a way that no one could understand them.

g. The seventh theory states that the writing was a heavenly language, wrote in letters that were truly heavenly in nature and never known before upon the earth.

5. The translation is given in Daniel 5, not the words themselves.

E. The call (5:7-23).

1. In his hour of great need, Belshazzar turns to astrology.

2. But Belshazzar soon discovers that astrology is good.

3. His wise men could not help him. This marks their third failure in the book of Daniel.

4. Finally at the suggestion of the queen (probably his mother, Nitocris) Belshazzar summons Daniel (5:10-15).

5. The king offers him the third ruling position if he will interpret the mysterious writing (5:16).

6. Daniel agrees to do so, but spurns the king’s bribe.

7. However, before he interprets the message, the aged prophet reviews Belshazzar’s wicked past.

a. Belshazzar’s grandfather, Nebuchadnezzar, had set a good example for his young grandson when he turned to God after his period of insanity (5:18-21).

b. Belshazzar knew all this, but had deliberately rejected and hardened his heart (5:22, 23). (See also Prov. 29:1.)

c. Belshazzar was thus gambling with his immortal soul, for the very air he breathed came from this God he had so recklessly spurned (5:23).

F. The scrawl (scroll) 5:24-29.

1. The writing contained a threefold message from God to Belshazzar.

a. “Mene, Mene”—God has numbered your kingdom and finished it!

(1) His number was up.

(2) Belshazzar had not followed the wise advice of Moses when he prayed: “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Ps. 90:12).

(3) Belshazzar’s sad end here should be contrasted to Paul’s thrilling testimony before his death. (See 2 Tim. 4.)

b. “Tekel”—You are weighed in the balances, and found wanting.

(1) Again, by way of contrast, see David’s testimony in Psalm 23:1. The words “found wanting” mean literally “found too light.” Belshazzar’s morality didn’t weigh enough!

c. “Peres” (“Upharsin” is the plural of this word)—your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.

G. The fall (5:30, 31).

1. The Greek historian Herodotus tells us that the Babylonian armies at first moved north to challenge the advancing Persian troops, but were soon driven back behind the walls of Babylon.

2. Cyrus then proceeded to divert the Euphrates River from its normal bed.

3. Belshazzar is slain that very night and the city is ruled by a sixty-two-year-old Mede named Darius.

4. The prophet Isaiah predicted the fall of Babylon over two hundred years in advance. (See Isa. 21:1-10.)

5. When Nabonidus fought the final time, he was defeated and forced to shut himself up in the neighboring town.

6. Because of the feeling that the Babylonians had won the war, and not knowing that Nabonidus had been defeated totally, the Babylonians guarded not the city of Babylon well, for they were rejoicing over the supposed victory.

7. How was this done? The tactic implored by Cyrus was draining the channel of the river Euphrates that flowed through the city of Babylon.

8. This ocurred by Cyrus sending a part of men to the head of the canal leading to the great artificial lake made by Nebuchadnezzar west of Babylon, with orders at a time to break down the great bank or dam, and to turn the whole current that way into that lake.

9. In the interim getting all his forces together he posted one part of them at the place where the river ran into the city, and the other where it came out, with orders to enter the city that night by the channel of the river, as soon as the channel of the river in the city was empty of water.

10. Cyrus had also made trenches on both sides of the river above the city to let the water run into them.

11. So by this means and the opening of the great bank or dam, the river was so drained, that by the middle of the night, it being then in a manner empty, both parties according to their orders entered into the city by the empty channel, and finding the gates open leading down to the river, they ascended through them into the city, and they surprised the guards, and killed them all, and when some inside the gates opened the gates to know what was going on, they rushed in upon them and took the Palace:

12. Where finding Belshazzar with a sword drawn in his hand, they slew him.

13. Thus the city of Babylon were taken by surprised and without a battle, as Jeremiah had prophesied (2:31), by the armies of the Medes and the Persians as anticipated at least 200 years before this by Isaiah (21:1-9; 44:28-45:1-4).

14. Within these prophecies, one will found out that Cyrus, who was the conqueror of Babylon, and transferred the empire from the Babylonians to the Medes and Persians was particularly foretold by name at least 200 years before this occurred.

15. The river Euphrates having been turned out of its true course by Cyrus, and being not restored to its former channel, caused flooding on all that side of the country. Alexander the Great tried to repair the banks of the river and to bring back the waters again into their old channel, but this failed.

16. Cyrus used three tactics (which were methods of siege-warfare) to try to bring the city of Babylon under submission:

a. First Cyrus drew a line round the city, making a trench or ditch broad and deep, and by the help of Palm trees which usually grow in that part of the Middle East to the height of three hundred foot, he erected towers higher than the walls, thinking at first to have been able to take the place by an assault.

b. When an assault was deemed useless; he concluded starvation was the way to make the Babylonians submit to him and thus surrender.

c. Starvation did no work either; and so Cyrus came up with the tactic to change the flow of the river, and cause the channel to be drained empty of water in the city of Babylon.

d. The walls of the city of Babylon were high and impregnable with a large number of men within to defend them having been fully furnished with all sorts of provisions for twenty years, and the void ground within the walls was able both by tillage and pasturage to furnish them with much more.

e. After the taking of the city, many were killed, including Belshazzar.

f. After it was taken, Nabonidus was treated kindly by the conquerors.

17. The destruction of the Babylonian empire and the city of Babylon fulfilled several prophecies, and these were:

a. It was foretold that God would stir up the Medes and Persians against the Babylonian empire and the city of Babylon (Isa. 21:2).

b. It was foretold that various nations would unite against the Babylonian empire and the city of Babylon (Isa. 13:4; Jer. 51:27).

c. It was foretold that the Babylonians would be terrified of the forces against them and finally hide themselves within the walls of the city of Babylon (Jer. 51:30).

d. It was foretold that the river would be dried up, before the city of Babylon would be taken (Isa. 44:27).

e. It was foretold that the city would be taken by surprise during the time of a feast (Jer. 50:24; 51:57).

II. America’s beginning

A. Background.

1. The heritage of this nation is undeniably religious.

2. Beginning with the first explorers and moving on to the Pilgrims, the American Revolution, the Civil War, and even long after, religion had a strong, positive influence on the successful development of this nation.

3. As explained in Compton’s Encyclopedia:

a. The most powerful single influence in all history has been Christianity.

b. This influence has shown itself not only in the religious beliefs and spiritual ideals of the human race, but in the march of political events and institutions as well

4. Supreme Court decisions have affirmed the religious faith of this nation:

a. In 1892 the United States Supreme Court made an exhaustive study of the supposed connection between Christianity and the government of the United States. After reviewing hundreds of volumes of historical documents, the Court asserted, “These references … add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a religious people … a Christian nation.”

b. Likewise, in 1931 Supreme Court Justice George Sutherland reviewed the 1892 decision in reference to another case and reiterated that Americans are a “Christian people.”

c. And in 1952 Justice William O. Douglas affirmed that “we are a religious people and our institutions presuppose a Supreme Being.”

5. One of the arenas in which religion was most visible was in American public education.

6. Our nation’s first schools were in churches, and for more than three centuries following their inception in the mid-1600s, public schools promoted prayer and regularly used the Bible as a textbook.

7. Traditional religious principles was the basis for teaching morals and stories drawn from those principles often provided the content for student readers.

8. Students trained in these public schools were well-rounded and well-equipped, educated both in mind and in character.

9. Noah Webster, a Founding Father, reflected the nation’s beliefs when he stated:

a. "No truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people."

10. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and the first Founder to call for free public schools, similarly explained:

a. "[T]he only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be laid in religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments.… Without religion, I believe learning does much mischief to the morals and principles of mankind."

11. From its inception, our nation had believed in the power and the results of religious teachings and practices and had strongly supported their inclusion in public arenas.

12. Revered national political leaders believed that public prayer could and would change the course of the nation.

13. For example, consider Benjamin Franklin’s lengthy speech delivered at the Constitutional Convention:

a. "In the beginning of the contest with Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayers in this room for Divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending Providence in our favor.… And have we now forgotten this powerful Friend? Or do we imagine we no longer need His assistance? I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth: “that God governs in the affairs of man.” And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. I firmly believe this. I also believe that without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in the political building no better than the builders of Babel; we shall be divided by our little, partial local interests; our projects will be confounded; and we ourselves shall become a reproach and a byword down to future ages. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing government by human wisdom and leave it to chance, war, or conquest. I therefore beg leave to move that, henceforth, prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven and its blessing on our deliberation be held in this assembly every morning before we proceed to business."

14. As Franklin noted," God had often answered their prayers and manifested Himself throughout the struggle with Great Britain."

15. He blessed their efforts at the Constitutional Convention no less—a fact noted by many of the Founders, including Benjamin Rush:

a. "I do not believe that the Constitution was the offspring of inspiration, but I am as perfectly satisfied that the Union of the States in its form and adoption is as much the work of a Divine Providence as any of the miracles recorded in the Old and New Testament."

16. George Washington was another of the many Founding Fathers who avidly believed in the importance of prayer.

17. Numerous paintings show “The Father of Our Country” in prayer, including the stained glass window in the U. S. Congressional Chapel and the monument at Valley Forge.

18. Even his first speech after his election as President was marked by his call for prayer:

a. "It would be peculiarly improper to omit, in this first official act, my fervent supplication to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect.… 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."

19. He then warned:

(1) "[T]he propitious [favorable] smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained."

20. For eight years, Washington wisely and skillfully guided this nation to a position from which its continued strength and development would be assured.

21. In his “Farewell Address,” he warned:

a. "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labour to subvert these great pillars of human happiness.… The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them."

22. Franklin had warned that “forgetting God” and imagining that we no longer needed His “concurring aid” would result in internal disputes, the decay of the nation’s distinction and reputation, and a diminished national success.

23. Washington had warned that if religious principles were excluded, the nation’s morality and political prosperity would suffer.

24. Yet, despite such clear words, in cases beginning in 1962, the Supreme Court offered rulings which eventually divorced the nation, its schools, and its public affairs from more than three centuries of its heritage.

25. America is now learning what both Washington and Franklin knew to be true.

26. We are suffering in the very areas they predicted

B. A New Beginning.

1. In decisions rendered on June 25, 1962 and on June 17, 1963, the Supreme Court forbade the inclusion of religious activities in major activities of daily student life by striking down school prayer and Bible reading.

2. Never before in the history of our nation had any branch of our government taken such a stand.

3. Through those decisions, thirty-nine million students and over two million teachers were barred from participating in what had been available to students since our nation’s founding.

4. Even today, millions of Americans personally recall when prayer, Bible reading, and religious principles were as much a part of their public school activities.

5. Activities once considered an integral part of education are now totally censured.

6. This sudden and dramatic restructuring of educational policies came about by the Court’s reinterpretation of the phrase “separation of church and state.”

7. The First Amendment does not contain that phrase.

8. Itsimply states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

9. This had always meant that Congress was prohibited from establishing a national religious denomination—that Congress could not pass a law requiring Americans to become Catholics, Anglicans, or members of any other denomination.

10. This meaning for “separation of church and state” had been explained clearly during the time of the Founders and was applied by the Courts for 170 years afterwards.

11. But, in 1962, the Supreme Court decided that “church” would no longer mean a “federal denomination”; instead, it would now mean a “religious activity in public.”

12. Consequently, “separation of church and state” was no longer a prohibition against establishing a national denomination; it was now a prohibition against including religious activities in public affairs.

13. This new interpretation of “church” immediately invited hundreds of lawsuits challenging any presence of religion in public life.

14. While numbers of lawsuits are still awaiting disposition, courts have already delivered far-reaching decisions to:

a. Remove student prayer.

b. Remove school Bible readings

c. Remove the Ten Commandments from view

d. Remove benedictions and invocations from school activities.

15. Lower court rulings have gone even further than those of the Supreme Court.

16. Today, there is such an anti-religious prejudice in education that some courts have forbidden the following activities within their jurisdiction:

a. Freedom of speech and press is guaranteed to students unless the topic is religious.

b. If a student prays over his lunch, it is unconstitutional for him to pray aloud.

c. t is unconstitutional for a Board of Education to use or refer to the word “God” in any of its official writings.

d. Public schools were barred from showing a film about the settlement of Jamestown because the film depicted the erection of a cross at the settlement.

e. In the Alaska public schools, students were told they could not use the word “Christmas” in school because it had the word “Christ” in it.

f. In Colorado, a music teacher was stopped from singing traditional Christmas carols in her classes.

17. These rulings are not without consequence; what occurs in the classroom eventually affects the rest of the nation.

18. As explained by President Abraham Lincoln:

a. The philosophy of the class room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.

19. The current anti-religious bias in education is new, having been implemented only after the redefinition of the First Amendment in 1962.

20. Only eight years later, the Court acknowledged that it had begun a legal revolution, even admitting that:

a. It was … not until 1962 that … prayers were held to violate the [First Amendment].

21. The First Amendment, however, does not say that in every and all respects there shall be a separation of Church and State.… Otherwise the state and religion would be aliens to each other—hostile, suspicious, and even unfriendly.

III. Statistics

A. George Washington

1. In his “Farewell Address,” warned:

a. "And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality may be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds … reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."

2. Washington’s statement was not a radical new teaching.

3. It was the voice of a belief widely held among the Founders.

4. Yet today, so completely have religious principles been expunged from education that a court even ruled against a traditional moral teaching for students in public schools (premarital sexual abstinence) because that teaching had religious roots.

5. The court explained:

a. The harm of premarital sexual relations … [is] elements of religious doctrine.

b. It is a fundamental tenet of marry religions that premarital sex … [is] wrong.…

c. In short, [teaching pre-marital sexual abstinence] has the primary effect of advancing religion.

6. Although this case was eventually modified by the Supreme Court, the fact that it even reached the Court indicates the extent to which basic moral values have been rejected by many courts.

B. Prior to 1962-1963, courts never follow such non-sense, as proven by the Supreme Court Declaration.

1. There have been sects which … advocated promiscuous intercourse of the sexes as prompted by the passions of its members.… Should such a sect … ever find its way into this country, swift punishment would follow the carrying into effect of its doctrines and no heed would be given to the pretence that … their supporters could be protected in their exercise by the Constitution of the United States. DAVIS V. BEASON

2. The Court has now reversed its previous long-held position, and the effects of that reversal are apparent.

C. Information on Teen Pregnancies

1. The overall effects of the moral changes go well beyond those indicated by the charts. For example:

2. Teenage pregnancies have increased over 400 percent since 1962–63, and the United States now has the highest incidence of teenage motherhood of any Western country.

3. By 1970, the percentage of out of wedlock births to teens had climbed to 29 percent, and by 1988 it had skyrocketed to 69 percent.

4. Each day, 2,756 teens become pregnant and 1,340 babies are born to teen mothers.

5. One-and-a-quarter million adolescent girls become pregnant each year, and of those who give birth, half are not yet 18.

6. Of girls between the ages of 15 and 19, ten percent get pregnant each year, with 84 percent of the pregnancies being unwanted.

7. Currently, 80 percent of pregnant teenage girls are unmarried.

8. Teenage motherhood among school students is so prevalent that a Dallas high school established a 15-bed nursery for students with children, and Houston has dedicated two entire high-schools for pregnant students.

D. The economic impact of teen pregnancies is enormous:

1. About 50 percent of all teen mothers are on welfare within one year of the birth of the first child.

2. 77 percent join the welfare rolls within five years.

3. 43 percent of long-term welfare recipients started their families as unwed teens.

4. In 1985 alone, $16.65 billion was paid through welfare to women who gave birth as teenagers.

5. in 1990, the cost had risen to $21.55 billion.

6. Of those families headed by a mother age 14–25, two-thirds live below the poverty level.

7. Of the 1.3 million children of teenage mothers, 62 percent are currently in need of day care.

8. Of those who give birth before age 18, only half complete high school (compared with 96 percent for those who wait).

9. They earn half as much money; and they are far more likely to end up on welfare.

E. Sexually Transmitted Diseases—STDs

1. Cases of gonorrhea among junior-high students ages 10–14 have increased almost 400 percent since 1962–63.

2. As many as 40 percent of sexually-active teenage girls may be infected with the STD known as HPV.

3. Nine percent of female students are infected with the STD genital herpes.

4. Each year 4,000 students become infected with syphilis.

5. Up to 20 percent of AIDS victims were infected in their teens.

6. AIDS cases among teens have increased 62 percent since 1990, and the number of teens with AIDS is doubling every 14 months.

7. AIDS is now the sixth leading cause of death among young adults.

8. Over three million teens, one in six sexually active teens, become infected each year with one of the more than two dozen STDs.

F. Information on Student Sexual Activity

1. Premarital sexual activity among 15 year-old students has increased almost 1000 percent since 1962.

2. Over 40 percent of sexually active teens report having more than one sexual partner, and 20 percent have had four or more partners.

3. Two-thirds of America’s teenage boys say they have had sex; and by the time they are 18, on the average, boys have had sex with five girls.

4. According to the Sex Information and Education Council of the U. S. (SIECUS), one of every three girls between the ages of 15 and 17 has had sexual intercourse.

5. Currently, 8,441 teens become sexually active each day; most girls had their first sexual experience at age 15; and half of sexually active males had their first sexual experience between the ages of 11 and 13.

6. Of those students who have gone through a comprehensive sex education program (a course promoting the “promiscuous intercourse of the sexes”), 65 percent are sexually active, a percentage almost twice as high as those who have not completed a sex-education curriculum.

G. Considering the sexual changes so evident in the lives of students, it is ironic that the Court forbids them access to Biblical teachings.

1. Religion is the only solid basis of good morals; therefore education should teach the precepts of religion, and the duties of man towards God.

H. A New Class of Problems

1. Dramatic changes in student morality were not the only changes in student life following the Court decisions.

2. Once the religious teachings which had long provided the basis for societal rights and wrongs were disallowed, students were encouraged to “discover” and to set their own standards.

3. Before the ban on religious teachings, the top public school problems were listed as:

a. Talking

b. Getting out of turn in line

c. Chewing gum

d. Wearing improper clothing

e. Making noise

f. Not putting paper in wastebaskets

g. Running in the halls

4. Polls now list the top offenses as:

a. Rape

b. Murder

c. Alcohol abuse

d. Robbery

e. Suicide

f. Gang warfare

g. Assault

h. Absenteeism

i. Pregnancies

j. Burglary

k. Vandalism

l. Abortions

m. Arson

n. Extortion

o. Venereal disease

p. Bombings

q. Drug abuse

5. The effect of this new moral-free approach to education is that the classroom no longer provides any restraining force on human passions.

6. For example, in his 1794 address to the Massachusetts legislature, Governor Samuel Adams explained that:

a. It has been observed that “education has a greater influence on manners than human laws can have.” … [A] good education is calculated to reach and influence the heart and to prevent crimes.…

b. Such an education, which leads the youth beyond mere outside show, will impress their minds with a profound reverence of the Deity [and].… will excite in them a just regard to Divine revelation.

7. Founding Father Noah Webster, one of America’s leading public educators, similarly declared:

a. In my view, the Christian religion is the most important and one of the first things in which all children, under a free government, ought to be instructed.… No truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of