Thursday, February 22, 2024

Is the Handwriting on the Wall for America? ‘Mene, Mene, Tekel Upharsin’

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CHRISTIAN ANALYSIS

Some time in ancient history, most probably in October of 359 BC, Belshazzar, king of Babylonia and ruler of the Chaldean Dynasty held a feast. It led to a supernatural message from God that still resonates today – a profound story that is recorded in the Bible.

Belshazzar had somewhat of a shady past and a circuitous route to the throne. His grandfather, Nebuchadnezzar II, was one of the greatest kings of ancient times. At one point Nebuchadnezzar defied God and was punished with seven years of mental illness but later repented and submitted to God. 

Belshazzar ascended to the throne through a coup along with certain misfortunes, including a period of exile that befell his father who preceded him. Through his actions, Belshazzar defied God and the nation of Israel. However, unlike his grandfather before him, he continued down the path of alienation from God, which ultimately led to the loss of his life and his kingdom.

Most of us young’uns from Sunday School remember the story from the book of Daniel as a hand sent from God began to write these words on the wall of the palace: “Mene, Mene, Tekel Upharsin.” 

It seems that all of the great philosophers and wise men of Belshazzar’s court could not interpret the words since they appeared to be in a language not understood by the Babylonians. 

The king, at the behest of his mother, summoned Daniel who promptly let Belshazzar in on the meaning of the cryptic words. Essentially, the rough English translation is that “God had weighed Belshazzar in the balance of his great scales, and he had been found wanting. Therefore, his kingdom would be divided and given over to the Medes and Persians.”

In fulfillment of the prophecy, Belshazzar’s life came to an end that very night in a military attack from his enemies. It is from this story that our common parlance has adapted our saying of “the handwriting is on the wall” to describe an event that is bound to take place as a result of decisions that have been made.

While the story of Belshazzar and Daniel is certainly a dramatic story in its own right, it nevertheless is one that has been played out over and over again on the canvas of history as nations and governments rise and fall. The question surfaces in our time, could this same thing be played out in front of our eyes, just as in the days of the end of the Babylonian Empire? 

The situation in Israel seems ready to explode even further than it did on October 7, bringing in nations from the north, the east, and the west into the deadly fray. American service members have been killed in Jordan by Iran all while the Ayatollah hid behind the skirts of his minions.

As we breathe, Israel is fighting its war of survival on numerous fronts, and I have no doubt of their ability to defend themselves. 

Likewise, Mr. Biden announced that the U.S. was responding to the cowardly attack on our servicemen and women in Jordan, launching multiple attacks against Iranian proxies in several Middle Eastern countries.

Still, with threats rising across the region, I have much more confidence in the preparedness of the Israeli Army. If history tells us anything at all, it is that it simply does not pay for the Arab world to mess with the likes of Israel. On the U.S. homefront, when it comes to national security, it might also be best for the federal government to join with Texas to defend the border rather than working against it. 

As we ponder the circumstances of our present world condition and the precarious moments that America faces, I am drawn once again to the story of these two kings of the Babylonian Empire. Nebuchadnezzar defied God but then ultimately repented. When he did so, he left the pasture where he ate grass like the oxen, and his kingdom was restored. Belshazzar, however, simply chose to continue to defy God, and it led to his untimely demise and the fall of his empire. 

At Southern Evangelical Seminary we fully recognize that if God’s people do not return to him and repent, then this nation that we love will see the irrevocable and ominous handwriting on the wall. Right now, we are being weighed in the balance of God’s grand scales. If we do not lead our country back to a nation of laws built on the morality of a righteous God, then our fate will be shortly sealed, and we will, as a people, fade into the background of some historical footnote. Now is the time for a revolution of true faith in the real truth that matters.

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After a distinguished career as both a lawyer and a judge, Judge Phil Ginn retired as the Senior Resident Superior Court Judge for the 24th Judicial District in North Carolina. Over the course of his 22-year judicial career, he was privileged to hold court in almost 50% of the county seats in North Carolina. Currently, Judge Ginn serves as the president of Southern Evangelical Seminary (ses.edu).

 

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