Judgment is amazing too… judgment is good. You learn more, grow more, change more, through judgment. Yet we resist judgment, probably for the same reasons students don’t like tests/ criticisms. We don’t like judges because they have power over us!
Here’s a joke with a great title: “Don’t Mess with the judge”
There were three men at a bar. One man got drunk and started a fight with the other two men. The police came and took the drunk guy to jail. The next day the man went before the judge.
The judge asked the man, “Where do you work?”
The man said, “Here and there.”
The judge asked the man, “What do you do for a living?”
The man said, “This and that.”
The judge then said, “Take him away.”
The man said, “Wait, judge when will I get out?”
The judge said to the man, “Sooner or later.”
Daniel 4 & 5 are two similar stories with very different outcomes. In both stories a King of Babylon is judged by God and warned bad behavior and arrogance will lead to destruction and loss. In Daniel 4, King Nebuchadnezzar is shown in a dream his pride and arrogance will lead to his downfall. He goes insane for 7 years taking on the mind of a cow; finally he looks up to heaven, he woke up and he spoke up. READ Dan. 4:34. Through the judgment of God the King was set on a path of wholeness, recognizing the Lord.
Dan. 5 ends so different. Decades later another King is judged by God, but there is quite a different ending: READ Dan. 5:30. Judgment is good for those who listen. For those who refuse to change judgment ends in destruction. The day is coming when the final judgment call of God will sound.
One King changes, the next King dies that very night. Why? I don’t know. That is God’s domain. But I know this: God gives us all the same opportunity. I know this: Only God knows the heart. Significantly, in Dan. 5:22, it is revealed that King Beltshazzar is a man of pride. He is an arrogant know-it-all. 1 Sam. 16:7 speaks volumes: But the LORD said to Samuel, "Don't judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn't see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (NLT).
God’s judgment is perfect. When things go wrong most folks pray for grace. Try this: when the hammer of stress falls on your life, pray for God’s judgment! Invite God to correct you. Prayers for grace are amazing and powerful, but if all we ever want is grace to overcome sins, that leads to spiritual laziness. Spend deliberate time in prayer for God to judge you, to show you your sins, so you will be transformed by his spirit into a new creation.
People are fond of proclaiming “Do not judge me, God is my judge.” But few people mean it. It’s an excuse for bad behavior. If God is your judge then invite his judgment!
Last week we began Daniel 5, the story of the handwriting on the wall. We saw King Belshazzar did not need the handwriting on the wall to tell him his kingdom was in trouble, all he had to do was look outside the walls of the city and see the armies of the Medes and Persians surrounding the city ready to invade. The King decided to throw a massive party for all the leaders and noblemen of the city. He decided getting drunk and checking out of reality was a better idea.
Instantly the King sobers up when a hand appears and writes on the wall. READ Dan. 5:5-6. The king knows this is a supernatural message. He calls experts to interpret. This is a King who does not like judgment ~ I can tell because of his fear… The massive 300 foot double row of walls surrounding the city were a false sense of security. READ Dan. 5:8. The hand vanished, but the four words remained. The King is desperate.
The mother of the King remembers a man who once helped interpret a dream at an earlier time: Daniel. Daniel is summoned. About 65 years earlier, as a 15 year old, Daniel was one of the Jewish hostages taken from Jerusalem when Babylon conquered Israel. Daniel, now over 80 years old, had lived in the courts of the kings his entire adult life.
The King is desperate… as one person says, “A drowning man will grasp at anything.” I listen to a lot of drowning people. There is great need to listen to those who are drowning… crisis… It is the most frustrating thing you’ll ever do, and the most rewarding… For those who don’t really want to change/be judged, frustrating… but for those who are ready to change, rewarding!!!!!!
Daniel served in the court of the kings of Babylon his whole life. Time and time again he pulled the great King Nebuchadnezzar out of a jam. (Read the earlier stories in the book.) Daniel is a model showing us how to live by faith in a foreign land. He never once compromised his values.
As Christians, more and more we do not fit in society. Take a lesson from the playbook of Daniel and remain faithful men and women of high character in service to God. We may not be invited to the world’s parties, but when the world gets desperate, like the King of Babylon, they will remember. When a marriage breaks up, when cancer hits, when the children get in trouble, who does the world call? They will call the faithful men and women who know the Lord. I get frustrated when I start feeling sorry for myself thinking the world is taking the church for granted ~ at those times I need to remind myself our calling is to be available to the drowning… that’s why our informal motto is, “Love, Acceptance and Forgiveness.” Daniel wasn’t invited to the party, but when God intervened and no one had an answer, the King wanted Daniel.
Never underestimate the power of a godly life.
Daniel is summoned to the King. Before Daniel interprets the writing he reminds the king how King Nebuchadnezzar was humbled and went insane, then came to his senses READ Dan. 5:21.
Three warnings to King Belshazzar trouble is brewing: the armies surrounding the city should have caused the King to act responsible, King Nebuchadnezzar going insane until he saw God, now the handwriting on the wall. Any one should be enough for the King to ask God to show him the better way. Dan. 5:22 explains why God’s judgment comes down on the King and he loses his life that night: READ. God knew his heart, God’s perspective is perfect. The King had warning after warning after warning, and so comes the judgment. Daniels explanation of the writing is short.
Mene means “numbered.” God has numbered the days of your reign, and now your number is up. Tekel means “weighed.” God has weighed your life in the scales of justice and you’ve come up short. O king, you do not measure up. Parsin means “divided.” “Your kingdom is about to be broken up.” These mysterious words are a message from God that Belshazzar’s reign is over, his life will soon end, and his kingdom will be divided and given to someone else.
The end of story comes quickly. Verse 30 says Belshazzar was slain “that same night,” but no details are given. Other historical sources fills in the gaps. The army of the Medes and Persians was camped near the Euphrates River. The army diverted the river into a lake. With the river dried the army walked under the wall. One ancient writer says the army entered the city and found the Babylonians eating and drinking, confirming the Bible’s story. Before sunrise Belshazzar was dead and the Babylonian Empire was gone.
This story applies not only for individuals to change in response to the judgment of God, but it has application for nations…what happened to Babylon may also happen to the United States. Why should we be different from other powerful nations? Is pride a problem today? [YES] Empires come and go: Assyria, Babylon, Medes-Persia, Greece, Rome. In the last 100 years the Communist empire and the Third Reich of Hitler are no more.
There is a pattern of every great nation: Assume we will always be a superpower, push God out of public life, ridicule those who believe in him, promote those who exalt man, bristle at absolutes, and live by our own set of rules. Today as a nation we take God for granted, even too many Christians assume the answer is to keep God private, as we rely more and more on technology. God will judge us. If pride is a problem, if God is ignored, we will fall. And it is true: Judgment often comes at the hands of another nation God raises up for that purpose. This is not a prediction of what will happen to the United States because I do not know. This is not a prophecy because I am not prophet. I only know there are patterns. I know God is patient. I know his judgment is right and true. I know the end of the story is quite different for the arrogant and the humble: the arrogant do not change, rely on themselves, thus rejecting God ~~ the humble are in awe of God.
The lesson of God’s Judgment is clear: God weighs the human heart. He inspects our inner motivations, thoughts, dreams and secrets. Nothing is hidden from him. The judgment of God is amazing for those who are willing to be changed by God. For those who resist God’s intervention/sovereignty the judgment of God is harsh.
These two stories of Dan. 4-5 are a preview of the day we will all stand before God. The judgment is not about God weighing my good deeds vs. bad deeds and if the good outweighs the bad I end up in heaven, or if bad wins then hell. “He’s a good person” is not on the grading scale of God’s judgment. The problem with using goodness as the measurement of eternal destiny is that a single sin is enough to deserve eternal death.
What’s so amazing about God’s judgment? There is one who lived a life without sin, Jesus Christ, and he took your place in death. Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of your sins. The choice is simple. When you stand before God in judgment, you can represent yourself in a spirit of pride and end up in hell. Or you can humble yourself before the Lord Jesus Christ and he will take your place, he will represent you, and you will end up in eternity with him.
God warned two kings over and over. We are also given the same opportunity to turn to the Lord for wholeness, salvation. One king was humbled, the other was defiant. Which are you? The judgment of God is good when you bow before the throne of mercy in humility, inviting the Lord to change you.
Be in awe of God. Welcome his Amazing judgment.