Bill Bright

A massive party raged in Babylon the night the mighty empire toppled. Belshazzar, ruler of the most powerful kingdom on earth, used the sacred golden vessels taken from God’s temple in Jerusalem to host a drunken party. In front of a thousand people, Belshazzar and his men drank wine from the holy cups; while holding vessels of the God of heaven and earth, they praised the gods of gold, silver, and bronze.


Although he had no doubt heard the stories of God’s intervention during Nebuchadnezzar’s earlier reign, Belshazzar refused to acknowledge God. He was too entrenched in his materialistic, hedonistic lifestyle.


Suddenly the drunken revelers sobered as fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the wall of the royal palace. The mysterious phrase was in a language no one could read. With his face white and his knees knocking, the king called for his astrologers and fortunetellers. But these “wise” men could not decipher a single word of the supernatural writing on the wall.


Then King Belshazzar called for Daniel, the prophet who had interpreted dreams for Nebuchadnezzar years ago. He offered the old prophet gifts and power if he could translate the writing. Although Daniel did not want the king’s wealth or favor, he read the inscription, giving credit to the God of heaven and earth. Staggering, King Belshazzar listened as Daniel interpreted the writing:


Mene: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end. Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting” (Daniel 5:26,27).


God’s judgment was swiftly carried out. By the next morning, Belshazzar, once the most powerful ruler in the world, was dead and his kingdom lay in the hands of invaders.


Like Belshazzar, many people today deliberately defy almighty God. Their arrogance and independence, often backed with desires of the sinful nature, lead them down the same road to destruction that others before them have taken.


History is filled with many such cases. As with Babylon, nations that took years, even centuries, to build collapse in a furious firestorm. This pattern of national calamity continues today. Empires are built, then fall into ruin. Recent examples are Hitler’s Nazi Germany, Lenin’s and Stalin’s Russia, and Pol Pot’s regime in Cambodia.



Our Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence with full knowledge that if they lost the war with England they would be executed as traitors. They willingly risked their lives for their beliefs. The Declaration, in fact, ends with the powerful statement, “We mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.” They sacrificed everything to guarantee our freedom to worship and tell others about our Lord Jesus Christ. Our duty is to protect these freedoms. Should we not demonstrate the same measure of devotion in our willingness to sacrifice to help bring about a rebirth of faith for our future generations? Former President Ronald Reagan highlights the importance of diligence:

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. Madison knew, and we should always remember, that no government is perfect—not even a democracy. Our test today must be to reaffirm the ideals of those days. Let it be said of this generation of Americans that when we pass the torch of freedom to the new generation, it will be burning as brightly as when it was passed to us. Then we will know that we have kept faith with Madison and those other remarkable men we call the Founding Fathers, and we will have kept faith with God.


Sadly, as we stand at the threshold of a new millennium, our torch of freedom is burning dimly. Looking back over the 20th century, we can chart the downfall of our nation and her great mission. At each critical step, we have shifted our focus further from God and onto ourselves. The church has fallen into widespread decay and missed many opportunities to fulfill its commission. The United States of America, far from being a shining city on a hill, is in great danger of losing her sense of purpose and her blessings. How do we stop this process of decay? How important is it to regain what we have given away? If this generation cannot rise up and reverse the disastrous trend of rejecting God, who can say where this downfall will end?


I am sure you have noticed that when fabric unravels it follows a pattern. First a stitch becomes loose. At that point, it is easy to repair the fabric to make it as strong as ever. But if left untended, the loose stitch affects the one next to it. Now the hole is twice as large. From there, many loose threads cause the fabric to completely unravel and fall apart.


If there was ever a time when the world needed a deeper, more winsome portrait of what the Christian life is like, that time is now. We can take heart from those who went before us and stood up against the evil in their own culture:


The Pilgrims and Puritans who sacrificed their homelands and even endangered their lives to follow God’s standards

Our Founding Fathers who established our government on the tenets of faith—against overwhelming odds

The abolitionists who stood up to the status quo to speak out for freedom and righteousness

The inventors who were quick to ascribe to God the credit for their accomplishments


Each group of people affected their society in profound ways because of their faith and commitment to righteousness. Their priority was God’s kingdom, and they were not afraid to proclaim their allegiance.


Holiness can never be hidden. It naturally shines like that city on a hill. It is our statement to the world that God is with us and works in us. Does the world see God’s holiness in us today?



By Bill Bright & John Damoose, Red Sky


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