Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Some Atheists either try to devalue or outright deny the historical facts of Christians having been persecuted or killed since the beginning of it. One way we know that they are wrong is because there are Christians being persecuted and killed even today. Why would it be any different for Jesus' first followers? It wouldn't.


Monday, April 29, 2013

Pacific Rim - Con Footage [HD] - YouTube

Pacific Rim - Con Footage [HD] - YouTube

Sunday, April 28, 2013

FacePalm of the Day - Debunking Christianity: Sinner, Do You Know Jesus?

Harry McCall has posted another of his really ignorant arguments that he is deluded enough to really believe is a "death blow" for Christianity. In this case he correctly seems to understand the scripture:

"And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved." - Acts 4:12

There is no one else through whom we must be saved other than Jesus of Nazareth - the Christ - son of the Living God.  This is definitely what Peter was saying.  However McCall attempts to make the following argument:

To keep our souls out of an eternal fiery Hell, we need to be “washed in the blood of the Lamb”, that is the blood of Jesus. But since the Gospels can’t agree (see below) on just who and what this Divine Man is, we are forced to look outside of the New Testament of a savior named Jesus.

McCall is wrong.The Gospels are not confused.  McCall is confused.  He offers the following "evidence" that the Gospel of Matthew is confused as to which Jesus we need to put our faith in.

A major problem in the Gospel of Matthew 27: 17 is that we have more than one Jesus crucified by Ponitus Pilate! As pointed out by Bruce Metzger in his A Textural Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 2nd ed., 1994 p. 56 states:

In a tenth century uncial manuscript (S) and in about twenty minuscule manuscripts a marginal comment states: “In many ancient copies which I have met with I found Barabbas himself likewise called ‘Jesus’; that is, the question of Pilate . . . “ συνηγμένων οὖν αὐτῶν εἶπεν αὐτοῖς ὁ Πειλᾶτος• τίνα θέλετε ἀπολύσω ὑμῖν, Βαραββᾶν ἢ Ἰησοῦν τὸν λεγόμενον Χριστόν; (So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, "Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?")

Dr Bruce Metzger was only talking about one manuscript and it's not saying that Pilate did not know which man was the Messiah.

 In a closing statement on this verse Metzger notes that “A majority of the Committee was of the opinion that the original text of Matthew had the double name in both verses and that Ἰησοῦν was deliberately suppressed in most witnesses for reverential considerationor we might more accurately note for apologetic / theological purposes! 

Metzger was not making an apologetic or a theological  point but McCall want to make a point but only manages to fail miserably. Before I explain the main thing he misses, I want to point out that he tries to give multiple examples of other men named "Jesus".

What is really sad is that McCall mistake is so obvious!  He is making the assumption that the name "Jesus" would have to been unique for scripture to be true.  "Jesus" wasn't even the name in the Aramaic. His name is "Yeshua". "Jesus" is the Greek transliteration of "Yeshua" and in English "Yeshua comes to us as "Joshua". It doesn't matter what language you use - Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek, or English - the name was a common name in 1st century Palestine. There are more than 14 men referenced as Jesus from that time period. Extremely popular.  This is why they did a lot of disambiguation. And in each of McCall's examples there is disambiguation in the examples. Thanks, McCall, for making my point for me. In no way is anyone in the Bible confused as to which Jesus they were referring too - any more than I can confuse John Loftus with my grandfather just because they have the same first name.

To add insult to common sense and scholarship, John Loftus offered the following *ahem <cough> insight.

Harry, you're good at unearthing this interesting stuff. Keep it up. 

If Loftus is the learned scholar he pretends to be - the one whom Dr William Lane Craig - is too scared to debate, then why could he not identify such an obvious flaw in logic?

Perhaps Loftus and McCall should learn something from a real scholar.

 Lecture with Dr. Peter Williams from Lanier Theological Library on Vimeo.

Debunking Christianity: Sinner, Do You Know Jesus?
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Saturday, April 27, 2013

FacePalm of the Day - Debunking Christianity: Jesus Versus Paul: The Greatest Love?

It's always amazing how badly people want to undermine Christianity so that they can continue in their unbelief and feel justified. If the stakes for their soul weren't so high it would be comical but it is just sad. One such tactic is to pretend that Apostle Paul's theology and teachings are contrary to what Jesus said. It's not true but always facepalm inducing. For example take this article. I waited about 15 hours to see if any atheists would be honest enough on Debunking Christianity to point out how bad this particular argument is but alas nothing. There was a great comment by Dr David Heddle but I will save that for the end of this post. I have some direct observations to make on the post.

According to the famous Whitney Houston song, the greatest love of all is to love oneself.
Travelling back in time long before Grammy awards were handed out, we find that Jesus, (according to the Gospel of John), had a different idea:
“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.
John 15:13 (NIV)
Well at least Green recognized that Jesus was teaching something different that what our culture says so he gets a point there. It all goes downhill from there.

But, the Apostle Paul (not-surprisingly) had his own take on it:

For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us… For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
Romans 5:7-8, 10 (NASB)

I find several things interesting about this. First, I have to side with Paul on this. I know he usually comes across like an arrogant know-it-all, what with his self-declared apostleship and talk of trips to the Third Heaven, but when he’s right, he’s right. Dying for one’s enemies, for those who are unworthy, is a hell of a lot more nobler and impressive than dying for one’s friends. Friends mean something to you. An act of self-sacrifice for a friend, while admirable, is not unthinkable, but dying for an enemy is a very strange thing indeed.

What I find most interesting that J.M. Green (who wrote this post) thinks that Jesus and Paul are saying contradictory things to one another. I should point out that he later changed the post to say that dying for one's enemies is "unusual". Let's look at the context for John 15:13.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other. - John 15:9-17

It should be obvious that Jesus is not talking to the same audience as Paul was talking to. Jesus was talking his followers and admonishing them to love one another. And they were all Jesus' friends (except Judas). Paul was talking about the love Jesus has for all us.

So, sorry Jesus, but Paul wins this round. You really should have thought that line through a bit more carefully (or at least, the gospel writer who placed that line of dialog in your mouth should have). That sort of easy mistake tends to undermine the idea that you were supremely wise. And, if you truly had foreknowledge, you would have known that Paul would come along and trump your pronouncement.

Interesting how Green gives Paul's context but not Jesus' context. Either he is ignorant or dishonest. Also Paul did not say the dying for your enemies is greater than loving your friends. He was saying that Jesus showed His love for us in that he died for us inspite of us being His enemies. Green is still Jesus' enemy. Green is arguing that Jesus did not tell us to love our enemies. Is there a single scripture that tells us not to love our enemies? Not a chance. In fact we have the opposite. Jesus said:

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. - Matthew 5:43-45

I know this may seem minor to some of you, but when a ‘mere ma’n one-ups the ‘Son of God’ in defining the highest pinnacle of love, then that is somewhat of a big deal.

Paul didn't contradict Jesus here. I would argue that no where did Paul contradict Jesus.  Atheists will have to do better than this to prove this canard. 

The other interesting thing is how often the teachings of Paul are at odds with the teachings of Jesus. Oh I know, the letter to the Romans was written decades before the Gospel of John and all, but still, these kind of discrepancies in the ‘amazing unity of the Bible’ should give Christians pause. But, sadly it doesn’t seem to. Perhaps another time, we will take a look at some of more pronounced differences between Paul’s gospel, and that of the Jesus he claimed to have been personally selected and tutored by.

Written by J. M. Green

Poor J.M. Green Of course an outright contradiction should give us cause in accept Christianity. The
problem is no one has pointed out one and that should give atheist pause and  cause them to seek God with all their hearts.  David Heddle posted the following remark

David Heddle 4 hours ago
Hmm, lots o' confirmation of
The Super-duper Paul of Tarsus View: Atheists often attribute the Apostle Paul with powers far beyond what Christians grant. To wit: it is often suggested that he a) did not exist. And yet in spite of not actually being real he managed to b) usurp Christianity, creating an entirely new religion quite different from that taught by Jesus—who by the way probably did not exist either. And c) Paul managed, while not existing, to steal Christianity —through the use of forged letters. Remarkable! In a nutshell the "super Paul" view is that two people who never existed created two distinct religions (fraudulently). Then later fools, who believed in both of these non-entities, merged their contradictory teachings into a franken-religion.

I agree with Dr Heddle. He posted a comment showing how silly the remarks in this post are and how it shows how little people understand Christianity in general and Paul in particular.  A scathing  comment like this of course generated a response. However John Law isn't that honest.

Honest_John_Law David Heddle 2 hours ago
Wow! More keen insight from David Heddle, the guy who reads the Bible intelligently and comes here for fun. Since David Heddle began visiting this website, we have observed that:
a) he rejects the position of Early Church Fathers re. their widely held view of an infallible sacred magisterium...

The position of the  Early Church Fathers was not the "widely held view of an infallible sacred magisterium..."

b) he agrees with Luther's positions on sola fide and predestination yet disagrees with Luther's views re. the sacraments and polity...

 So? Martin Luther was not infallible. You can disagree with him and still be a believer and go to heaven. I think Heddle is right on that. And Luther himself would not say you have to agree with him 100% to be a true Christian.

c) some of his views re. Calvinism appear at odds with WLC's views...

Duh. So what? Does Law think that William Lane Craig is the beginning and ending of Christianity? If so he should get out more. 

d) he stated that " when I (David Heddle) disagree with Pope Francis I think I (David Heddle) am correct."...

And....? Law (I assume) disagree with Pope Francis. Does that mean he is just as wrong as me and Heddle?

e) he stated that "There are probably ~8000 Protestant denominations. Whether God is happy with that or not I couldn't say." and suggested that different denominations within the Christian faith are "not a big deal"...

Why should it be? The majority of them only disagree on minor issues that are not important. Things like worship styles. You can't honestly include Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, and Christian Science in that group. If you do, then you are even more ignorant than I thought. 

f) he boldly asserts that the "vast majority of Christians" agree upon the basic gospel message, yet he provided no statistically significant independently verified data to substantiate that claim. In fact, the RCC is by far the largest denomination, and their comprehensive views re. salvation are at odds with those held by mainline Protestant "churches". The RCC is abundantly clear on this point re. those who "knowingly and deliberately" (that is, not out of innocent ignorance) reject divinely revealed doctrine taught by the RCC...
If scripture was intended to be read intelligently by individuals who then may interpret scripture as it seems right to them, it would be astounding if orthodoxy could be preserved over many centuries. Then again, David Heddle suggested that different denominations within the Christian faith are "not a big deal"...
Eureka! We now clearly see that David Heddle HAS contributed something of real value here. David Heddle is a "Cafeteria Christian" for all to observe with astonishment and wonder... Well done, David Heddle. Keep up the good work.

Law forgets that the Roman Catholic Church is hardly based on Sola Scriptura so that is why it's different on some of those main things.  They are not reading the scriptures intelligently. Neither does J.M. Green or Law. And while I will agree that David Heddle HAS contributed something of real value her but he is not a  "Cafeteria Christian". However John Law's comment has contributed nothing of value. 

The bottom line is that Jesus sacrificed himself on the cross because He loves us. That is what Jesus taught and that is what His followers taught and teach.  

Debunking Christianity: Jesus Versus Paul: The Greatest Love?

Answering Muslims: Is the Father the Only God?

In this episode, Sam Shamoun discusses the Trinity and why it should not be a stumbling block to Muslims in coming to Jesus for salvation. Really good stuff!!

Answering Muslims: Is the Father the Only God?
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Truthbomb Apologetics: Video: Jim Warner Wallace- God's Crime Scene

I've become something of a fan of James Warner Wallace's ministry/ This is another presentation of his methodology for approaching scripture and witnessing. He brings to bear his years of experience in investigating crime scenes and especially "cold cases" (like the 30 year-old cases) on the evidences inside and outside the Bible for the validity of Christianity. After being an Atheist of 35 years, he came to the conclusion - based on his professional analysis of the evidence - that accepting Christianity is the only reasonable response.  He gives a great presentation.

Truthbomb Apologetics: Video: Jim Warner Wallace- God's Crime Scene
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Answering Muslims: Former Saudi Muslim Al Fadi Explains His Conversion to Christianity

I always find the testimonies of how people have come to Jesus very very interesting. What people who come to a true and saving relationship with Jesus have in common is a huge change in their lives - who they are change. Their priorities and desires align them with Jesus. If this has not happened to you, then you were never saved from your sins. And if it happened to you, it can never "unhappen" to you.

Answering Muslims: Former Saudi Muslim Al Fadi Explains His Conversion to Christianity
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High Five of the Day - Answering Muslims: Understanding the Islamic Bombing of the Boston Marathon

David Wood does an excellent job explaining why some Muslims consider blowing up American citizens to be consistent with Islam.  He explain how Surah 5:32 is often twisted out of its Context in the Quran so that it says the opposite things that Surah 5:33 says. I hope everyone hears and understands this.

Answering Muslims: Understanding the Islamic Bombing of the Boston Marathon

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Read the Writing on the Wall - Director's cut

I recently had the opportunity to speak at my church today. Here are my sermon notes and my presentation.

Slide 1

Good morning saints. For the past two weeks there is something I can’t get out of my mind: The writing on the wall. My text today is from Daniel Chapter 5. But in order to understand the text we should explore the historical context.

Slide 2

Remember that the Old Testament is full of the cycle of Children of Israel turning their backs on God and his laws , they suffer, they repent, God raises up one person to through him or her delivers them, and the nation of Israel live right while that generation lives, and then the cycle repeats. God continually sent prophets to warn and admonish the people.  This cycle repeated itself for almost 1000 years from the time of the Exodus.  Israel continually flirted with idolatry.  Through the prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah, God promises to bring a great judgment on Judah. This was not a vague threat although Isaiah spoke about 2 or 3 hundred years before the judgment he prophesied. The prophets said that God would let Babylon destroy Jerusalem and his temple and the people carried into captivity for 70 years. But it was not all bad news. God promised to return his people to the land he promised to Abraham. Isaiah even told his contemporaries who it was God was going to use to do it – some guy named “Cyrus”. Isaiah does not just talk about him once but three times.

24 “This is what the Lord says—
    your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb:
I am the Lord,
    the Maker of all things,
    who stretches out the heavens,
    who spreads out the earth by myself,
25 who foils the signs of false prophets
    and makes fools of diviners,
who overthrows the learning of the wise
    and turns it into nonsense,
26 who carries out the words of his servants
    and fulfills the predictions of his messengers,
who says of Jerusalem, ‘It shall be inhabited,’
    of the towns of Judah, ‘They shall be rebuilt,’
    and of their ruins, ‘I will restore them,’
27 who says to the watery deep, ‘Be dry,
    and I will dry up your streams,’
28 who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd
    and will accomplish all that I please;
he will say of Jerusalem, “Let it be rebuilt,”
    and of the temple, “Let its foundations be laid.”’ – Isaiah 44:24-28
“This is what the Lord says to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before him and to strip kings of their armor, to open doors before him so that gates will not be shut: - Isaiah 45:1
I will raise up Cyrus in my righteousness: I will make all his ways straight. He will rebuild my city and set my exiles free, but not for a price or reward, says the Lord Almighty.” – Isaiah 45:13

Slide 3

So did these prophecies comer true? Spoiler Alert: Yes! But I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself and just keep this in mind and let’s go to 586 BC. In 586 BC, Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon takes his army, lays seize to Jerusalem and crushes it. They steal all the gold and precious treasures and burn the city and the temple to the ground. It was Babylonian custom that when they subjugated a nation they took the best and brightest of the population and resettles them all over its empire so that they could not rally and stage revolts against them. It also made them easier to assimilate into Babylonian culture and society. Sometimes these people were brought to Babylon and educated and put into government service.  This where we come to Daniel and his friends: Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. They were taken from their home, their very names and identities taken and an attempt made to give them new ones. I wish I had the time talk about this point more, but it must be pointed out that it was them holding onto God that allowed their relationship with God to grow and deepen while they maintained who they were.

Slide 4

Look at this map of the Babylonian Empire

Slide 5

Skip ahead to October 538 BC. Let’s pick up with our main text today Daniel 5. We are going to read the text and then delve into it and then apply it for us today. 

 King Belshazzar gave a great banquet for a thousand of his nobles and drank wine with them. While Belshazzar was drinking his wine, he gave orders to bring in the gold and silver goblets that Nebuchadnezzar his father[a] had taken from the temple in Jerusalem, so that the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines might drink from them.

At this point, I want to stop and point out some very important things. Nebuchadnezzar was one of the main characters in what was happening in Chapters 1-4. Now we see a shift to what happened after he died. It’s been almost 50 years since the fall of Jerusalem. One of Nebuchadnezzar’s successors, Belshazzar is now on the throne. It’s kind of debated as to whether Belshazzar was the only king at the time, or if he was Nebuchadnezzar’s son or grandson. Given that in that culture sons and descendants were reckoned to be the children of prominent ancestors. For example, it would not have been a big deal as referring to my son Matthias as the son of Clarence Allen McElhaney Sr, who is actually my father, not his.  We can see here that Belshazzar was gearing up for a party. Sources outside the Bible reveal that this was a night in October 538 BC during a Babylonian feast.

Slide 6

 So they brought in the gold goblets that had been taken from the temple of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines drank from them. As they drank the wine, they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone.

As if the debauchery and drunkenness was not enough, Belshazzar purposely too the utensils and things set aside for God’s temple and even praised idols!? OOOOOO!!!!

Slide 7

Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote. His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his legs became weak and his knees were knocking

Put yourself into Belshazzar’s shoes for a moment. Here he is thumbing his nose at God and God writes him a public letter on the wall. No wonder he was frightened. He knew what he was doing was wrong.

Slide 8

Maybe it would have looked something like this

Slide 9

The king summoned the enchanters, astrologers[b] and diviners. Then he said to these wise men of Babylon, “Whoever reads this writing and tells me what it means will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around his neck, and he will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom.”

Of course Belshazzar wanted to know what was written. He didn’t understand the message. He wanted to know bad enough that was ready to share his power with whomever could tell him what the message meant. I find it interesting how the story is being told. At this point we don’t know what the message is – only we are sure it’s not “Good job, Belshazzar!!!” Also I don’t think it was written in a language he could not read but he didn’t know what it meant.

Slide 10

Then all the king’s wise men came in, but they could not read the writing or tell the king what it meant. So King Belshazzar became even more terrified and his face grew more pale. His nobles were baffled.
10 The queen,[c] hearing the voices of the king and his nobles, came into the banquet hall. “May the king live forever!” she said. “Don’t be alarmed! Don’t look so pale! 11 There is a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods in him. In the time of your father he was found to have insight and intelligence and wisdom like that of the gods. Your father, King Nebuchadnezzar, appointed him chief of the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners. 12 He did this because Daniel, whom the king called Belteshazzar, was found to have a keen mind and knowledge and understanding, and also the ability to interpret dreams, explain riddles and solve difficult problems. Call for Daniel, and he will tell you what the writing means.”

Daniel has a really good reputation. I think it shows how far Belshazzar has fallen away from common sense and had no real understanding of what had happened in his own history. He didn’t remember anything that happened in chapters 1-4. Good thing the Queen did.  That is not a coincidence.

Slide 11

13 So Daniel was brought before the king, and the king said to him, “Are you Daniel, one of the exiles my father the king brought from Judah? 14 I have heard that the spirit of the gods is in you and that you have insight, intelligence and outstanding wisdom. 15 The wise men and enchanters were brought before me to read this writing and tell me what it means, but they could not explain it. 16 Now I have heard that you are able to give interpretations and to solve difficult problems. If you can read this writing and tell me what it means, you will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around your neck, and you will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom.”

At least Belshazzar was consistent in his promises. He also explains the problem very well.

Slide 12

17 Then Daniel answered the king, “You may keep your gifts for yourself and give your rewards to someone else. Nevertheless, I will read the writing for the king and tell him what it means.
18 “Your Majesty, the Most High God gave your father Nebuchadnezzar sovereignty and greatness and glory and splendor. 19 Because of the high position he gave him, all the nations and peoples of every language dreaded and feared him. Those the king wanted to put to death, he put to death; those he wanted to spare, he spared; those he wanted to promote, he promoted; and those he wanted to humble, he humbled. 20 But when his heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and stripped of his glory. 21 He was driven away from people and given the mind of an animal; he lived with the wild donkeys and ate grass like the ox; and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven, until he acknowledged that the Most High God is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and sets over them anyone he wishes.

Daniel has the floor and he make the most of it. Reminding Belshazzar and all who was listening what Nebuchadnezzar had learned of God….the hard way.

Slide 13

22 “But you, Belshazzar, his son,[d] have not humbled yourself, though you knew all this. 23 Instead, you have set yourself up against the Lord of heaven. You had the goblets from his temple brought to you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines drank wine from them. You praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or understand. But you did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways. 24 Therefore he sent the hand that wrote the inscription.

Like many of us Belshazzar did not always learn from the mistakes of our parents and Daniel tells Belshazzar why he’s about to get really bad news. He has been prideful and dissed God. All things we were doing before we got saved and it is what we do when we choose to sin against God.

Slide 14

25 “This is the inscription that was written:
mene, mene, tekel, parsin
26 “Here is what these words mean:
Mene[e]: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.
27 Tekel[f]: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.
28 Peres[g]: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”

Let’s delve into the message. I think that given a little background, the message is really even clearer and we can see why Daniel’s interpretation sticks.

Slide 15

These words are known Aramaic names of measures of currency: MENE, a mina (from the root word that means "to count"), TEKEL, alternate spelling of shekel ( the root word means "to weigh"), PERES, half a mina (from a root word meaning "to divide).

Slide 16

29 Then at Belshazzar’s command, Daniel was clothed in purple, a gold chain was placed around his neck, and he was proclaimed the third highest ruler in the kingdom.

So what is Belshazzar’s response? Does he repent in “sackcloth and ashes”? Does he ask Daniel, “What must I do to be saved?” What about directly praying to the one who wrote the message on the wall and apologize?  Nope. Nada. But he does give Daniel everything he promised. Therefore we know he believed that Daniel told him correctly what the message was, but I don’t think he believed the message.

Slide 17

30 That very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians,[h] was slain, 31 and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom, at the age of sixty-two.[i]

Here is the payoff. God brought about exactly what He promised – ending Belshazzar’s kingdom. Babylon was the capital of a huge empire. Not too long before this it was the superpower of the day. Maybe the reason why Belshazzar did not change is because he didn’t believe that Babylon could be conquered.  At the time most people believed it was not possible. The Bible does not go into a lot of detail here but before I talk about why I know we needed to look at this today let me say a few things about how Darius did this. Babylon was protected by huge impenetrable walls. An army would have had a real hard time to break through them and could not go over them. Therefore according to the Greek historian Herodotus, the Persians temporarily diverted the Euphrates River that ran under the city just enough so that they could sneak in beneath the walls and surprise the Babylonians. It was called the Battle of Opis.

Slide 18

Here is the take away from all of this. That message to Belshazzar was not just for him. It’s for us well. When we put each of our lives up against God’s standard, we have to admit that we have been weighed and found incomplete. We are not even close to measuring it. There’s handwriting on your wall. I’m not just talking about your Facebook wall. I’m referring to the walls made up of your hearts and minds. Don’t respond the way Belshazzar responded.  Here is how you should respond: Repentance. We must turn away from our sin and obey God. If we don’t, we will only receive the same kind of outcome that Belshazzar received. We know what is on our wall. How will you respond? If you are already saved, and if you have already put your faith in the Jesus, you are on the right track. But we are still not measuring up. We still have to grow. It’s not that we will ever be not found wanting, because we saved because Jesus is never found wanting. The point is to grow in that grace and to be more like Jesus. We must do all we can while we can…not for our salvation but because that is what we were saved for. 
Oh, yes I almost forgot. What about Cyrus, aka Cyrus the great?  Well, turns out Cyrus came to power soon after Darius and under him, many people whom Nebuchadnezzar had exiled and spread all over the known world were allowed to return to their homelands and the Jews were allowed to rebuild Jerusalem and God’s temple – just like their prophets had said – 70 years after Jerusalem was destroyed!  And the kicker is that when Isaiah wrote those things about him, Cyrus was not even born yet and neither Persia a world power!  It just goes to show just how much God is running all of this – everything and that God is so merciful. I mean he sent a handwritten warning to Belshazzar before He allowed history to steamroll all over him. This afternoon, please consider the handwriting on your wall and respond to God better than Belshazzar did. I will end with one more scripture to sum up the point being made today.
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. – Romans 8:28-29

Slide 19

Reference links