The Handwriting on the Wall

Among the many things we see when we look at love is the fact that love can have limits. A young man is deeply in love with a young woman and tries desperately to win her love in return. If she never responds by loving him, his love for her will eventually reach its limits. He will give up and give his affections to somebody else.

Unfaithfulness to the marriage vow is the tragic thing that often brings love to the limits beyond which it cannot go.

God is love, but even the love of God must have its limits. The love of God cannot accept rebels into the kingdom of heaven. This would be going beyond its proper limits.

The love of God cannot go on forever forgiving a sinner while he continues to rebel and do injuries to other persons.

The Bible tells us that the love of God sets limits in sin for nations and also for individuals. The nations that God commanded Moses and Joshua to destroy had reached the limits that God’s love must set. The Bible tells us about some individuals who kept on sinning until they reached the limits that God’s love must set. We will study about one of them in this article.

The Handwriting on the Wall

In Daniel 5:22 we read a story—a very human, though tragic, story. This is the story of a man who knew what he ought to do, but did not do it. “Thou…, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this.”

Belshazzar was the king of Babylon. Babylon was one of the greatest empires, and greatest cities, of its day. Belshazzar was apparently the grandson of the great Nebuchadnezzar, who had built Babylon to its glory.

For many years we have marveled, and even doubted, at the reports that have come down through the centuries about the glories of ancient Babylon, but the modern science of archaeology has made it clear that the stories are indeed true. We know that the hanging gardens, rising terrace upon terrace, existed in all the unmatched grandeur with which legend has vested them, and its palaces were majestic. Its temples, mansions, and pleasure grounds were magnificent. Even the bottoms of the canals that crossed the city were covered with glazed tile, some beautifully ornamented with figures of trees, birds, and animals. Figures of lions, executed in brilliantly enameled tiles, have been dug from the ruins, many as bright and perfect as when they glistened on the walls of Babylon some 2,500 years ago. The royal banquet hall was 58 feet wide and 168 feet long. It is said that its pillars were figures of slaves, cast in bronze, standing upon the backs of figures of elephants, their hands supporting the ceiling.

Nebuchadnezzar, the grandfather of Belshazzar, had built this city to its greatness, but Belshazzar was not the man his grandfather, or even his father, Nabonidus, had been. On a prayer tablet from the hand of Nabonidus, archaeologists have found these words: “As for Belshazzar, my first born son, place in his heart fear of Thy great divinity, let him not turn to sinning; let him be satisfied with the fullness of life.”

Apparently Nabonidus was concerned about this son—and with good reason.

Standing Alone

Belshazzar had grown up in Babylon. He knew how God had dealt with the great Nebuchadnezzar, but he did not pay attention to this object lesson. He knew well about the exploits of his grandfather, invading the territories around the empire and bringing back slaves. He knew, too, how some of the slaves from Israel had risen to be prominent in the kingdom and how they had influenced Nebuchadnezzar so that he became a believer in the true God, instead of the sun god of Babylon.

He remembered well the time when Nebuchadnezzar had the strange dream, as recorded in Daniel, chapter 2, in answer to his question whether Babylon would last forever. He knew how Daniel had explained the meaning of the dream, showing that God had sent the dream to reveal the history of the world.

The image that was shown in this dream had a head of gold, representing Babylon, then other metals to show other future empires. Belshazzar remembered well how his grandfather had resolved to overthrow the prophecy, and had built a huge image, all of gold, to show that Babylon would not give way to another kingdom. He stood this great image on the plain of Dura. (See Daniel 3.) Here he called all the leaders of the empire to bow down before the image that he had built. Among these leaders came three who worshipped the God of Israel.

They would not bow down. It was called to the attention of the king, and he was sorry, because he greatly admired these stalwart young men from Israel whose intellectual brilliance had won them places among the advisors of his realm. So he decided to give them a second chance.

“Didn’t you understand the order?” he asked. “We will give you another chance. This time, when you hear the music, just bow down, and everything will be all right.”

The young men knew another chance wouldn’t make any difference, so they gave their answer to the king. Their reply is one of the great moments in history.

“We are not careful to answer, O King,” they said. “Our God is able to deliver us if He chooses to do so, but whether He does or whether He does not, know thou, O King, that we will not bow down to the image.”

Nothing quite like this had ever happened in Babylon before, and the God of heaven took notice of it.

Again the music sounded, and all the people, except these three, bowed low. Three against the thousands! Of course the devil tempted them, as he tempts Christians today—telling them it was not the letter of the law that was important, only the spirit, and that God would understand that the intent of their heart was that the image represented Him, etc., etc. But these men were not like the compromising, milk and water Christians of today—they were made of sterner stuff. They wasted no time on such rot. They would not even stoop to lace their shoes. Tall and straight they stood—three against the thousands and the might of great Babylon.

So they were thrown into the fiery furnace, with heat so great that it destroyed the men who threw them in, but the Son of God Himself came down and walked through that furnace with them and delivered them. Belshazzar knew all about this.

Stark, Raving Mad

Belshazzar knew also about the madness of his grandfather. Nebuchadnezzar had walked upon the ramparts of the city, his heart swelling with pride, as he looked across the monuments of his success. “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built,” he thought. He pushed aside all the warning and counsels that God had given him. He tried to force them out of his mind. He just could not believe anything evil could happen to great Babylon.

So the Lord sent him another dream. God saw something good in this king, and worked to save him. God said to him, “You are going to live like a beast in the fields and eat grass like the oxen, until you learn that the Most High ruleth in the affairs of men. In Daniel 4 we read how it happened. The king went mad—stark, raving mad. They drove him from the palace, and for seven long years he wandered through the forests and the fields, until his hair was like an animal, and his fingernails like claws.

Some have refused to believe this remarkable story, but the archaeologists have now deciphered a tablet of the king from the ruins of Babylon, on which appears corroborating testimony, telling of a time when the illustrious monarch conducted no business of the kingdom.

“In all dominions I did not build a high place of power. In Babylon buildings for the honor of my kingdom I did not lay out. I did not sing the praises of my Lord, I did not furnish His altars with victims, nor did I clear out the canals.”

For seven long years the king was mad. Then, even as God had said, his reason returned to him, and he returned to the throne, a changed man—a humbled, converted, surrendered man—as his prayer and proclamation in Daniel 4 indicate.

Crossing the Line

All of this Belshazzar knew. He had grown up right there in Babylon. Some of these things he had probably seen with his own eyes, and the rest had been recounted in his ears time and time again, but still he went on in folly.

We read in Daniel 5:1, 2: “Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand. Belshazzar, while 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.”

Belshazzar, of course, did not realize that this was to be his last feast. If he had known that, he would have acted very differently, for he was like all men, in that he expected to get right with God someday. I do not believe you can find a man on earth who really intends to be lost. Deep in his heart every man plans that he will get right with God—someday. Not now, but someday.

I met a stranger in the city of Hilo, Hawaii, and invited him to attend my meetings there. He answered: “I know all about your meetings. I attended some by one of your evangelists in Florida. I know the truth.”

“Well,” I said, “why do you not live up to it?”

“Oh,” he said, “I am going to hell.”

I said, “You are the first man I ever met who was planning on it.”

“Oh, I am not planning on it,” he said, “but I am afraid that is the way it’s going to work out.”

You see, nobody really plans to be lost. Everybody plans to get right with God—someday—but for many, that day never comes.

“There is a line, by us unseen, that crosses every path—the hidden boundary between God’s patience and His wrath.”

You can not tell how close you are to that line, and Belshazzar did not know either, so in his drunken impiety, he committed a great sacrilege. He called for the golden and silver vessels that had been used in the worship of God in Jerusalem and ordered them filled with wine, that he and his companions might drink from them.

The Hand of Doom

Satan had convinced him that God does not care for His sacred things, even as he does with men today. He tells them that God will take no notice, but He does. Men today defile the holy things of God—His holy day, His holy money, His holy ceremonies of worship—thinking that God will do nothing about it, but He will, even as He did with Belshazzar. We read in verses 5 and 6: “In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. Then the king’s countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.”

Have you ever seen a man suddenly in fear of his life? Have you noticed how quickly the curses die upon their lips, and they start imploring one another for help? I have. It makes a great difference when they are suddenly brought face to face with eternity.

So the face of the king was changed, as he suddenly became aware that there were those in the dining hall whom he had not counted. As he had looked out across the vast room, he had thought that he knew everyone who was there, but he did not. There were some in the banquet hall that he had not reckoned with, as there are in every banquet hall—the silent watchers of God, recording everything that is said and done. They do not argue, these silent watchers. They never try to force us to do what is right, but they are always there. Even when we raise our hands in blasphemy against God, they do not interfere; they just write it all into the record, for the judgment day.

In his wild alarm, the king made a mistake that has been made by many other men since then. Wanting to understand something that God had done, he appealed to the wise men of the world to help him. This is entirely useless. They may be wise in the learning of the world, but if they do not know God, there is no use asking them anything of a spiritual nature. They will give the wrong answer every time.

So the king called for his wise men, and they came. “Now all the king’s wise men came; but they could not read the writing, or make known to the king its interpretation. Then king Belshazzar was greatly troubled, his countenance was changed, and his lords were astonished.” See Daniel 5:8, 9. (NKJV.)

Called As a Witness

Now the queen had not been in the banquet hall that evening. This was apparently the queen mother, not Belshazzar’s own wife. She had been in her own palace, listening with great concern to the sound of merriment from the banquet hall, for as a matter of actual fact, there was an enemy army camped outside the city walls at that very moment, trying to find a way to get in. Belshazzar, young, arrogant, and foolish, had decided to show his contempt for them by having a feast while they were there—which was a matter of great concern to the queen mother. She knew that Nebuchadnezzar would never have done a thing like that.

So her concern mounts as she listens to the sound of feasting progressing toward drunkenness, but as the sound of merriment suddenly stops and an awesome silence prevails, she is alarmed more than ever. Hastily summoning a servant, she sent him running to the banquet hall to learn the cause of the strange silence. The servant can only report that something terrible has happened, so she goes herself. Entering the banquet hall, she sees the lords and ladies in a stupor of drunken fear, and the king paralyzed by terror. Following the direction in which all eyes are turned, she sees the writing on the wall, and she remembers Daniel. Approaching the king, she says: “There is a man in thy kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of thy father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him; whom the king Nebuchadnezzar… made master of the magicians…now let Daniel be called, and he will shew the interpretation.” Daniel 5:11, 12.

So, they sent for Daniel. Daniel was an old man now. For seventy years or more he had lived in Babylon, since his captivity as a youth. He had seen all of God’s dealing with Nebuchadnezzar, had seen him come, and had seen him go. Now he finds himself once more called to explain the works of God to a king of Babylon—but how different the message this time! As he stood before the king, Belshazzar said: “If thou canst read the writing, and make known to me the interpretation thereof, thou shalt be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about thy neck, and shalt be the third ruler in the kingdom.” Daniel 5:16.

“…Daniel answered and said before the king, ‘Let thy gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation.” Daniel 5:17.

In the hushed silence of the banquet hall, Daniel begins to speak but not, at first, to read the writing. He fastens his eyes upon Belshazzar, and as he looks at the young king, his mind runs back across the years. He remembers all that God has done to and through Nebuchadnezzar. He finally says:

“O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honor: And for the majesty that He gave him, all people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down. But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him: And he was driven from the sons of men; and his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild asses: they fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven; till he knew that the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over it whomsoever He will. And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this!” Daniel: 5:18-22.

Weighed in the Balances

Here Daniel spelled out the tragedy of the young king’s life. He knew what he ought to do, but he didn’t do it. Daniel went on:

“…this is the writing that was written, ‘MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. This is the interpretation of the thing: Mene; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. Tekel; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. Peres; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.” Daniel 5:25-28.

So Daniel left the banquet hall—and none too soon, for while he had still been talking to the young king, the armies of the Medes and Persians were entering the city. They had found a way to turn aside the waters of the Euphrates River, and they had marched down the riverbed, under the wall, into the city. In a few moments they burst into the banquet hall, and in that night was Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans, slain.

Have you ever considered how differently sin opens her banquet, from how she closes it? As sin opens her banquet, there is laughter, gaiety, music, and song, but when she closes it—how different. Why don’t you laugh now Belshazzar? Here, have a drink! Let the clowns beguile you; let lust satisfy you; let the praise of your lords and ladies reward your bold sacrilege!

No! Sin’s banquet has closed. In all the great banquet halls, there are no smiles now—except upon the lips of the devil and his legions, who move in to look upon the faces of their victims. This is how sin’s banquet closes, then and now.

Belshazzar was weighed in the balances of God and found wanting—because he knew what he ought to do, but didn’t do it.

Dear friend, do you, today, know what you ought to do? Do not make the mistake that the king of Babylon made.

Saying Goodbye to God

Among all the names that come down to us across the pages of American history, I suppose there is no name more loaded with infamy and shame than the name of Aaron Burr. Burr was a man of great ability and of great ambition. You remember the story of how he became angry with Alexander Hamilton, then secretary of the treasury, over some trifle and challenged Hamilton to a duel.

Hamilton didn’t believe in duels, but he thought honor compelled him to accept the challenge. So they met, and Burr fired the shot into Hamilton’s heart that killed him, while Hamilton fired his shot into the air.

But public indignation was aroused against Burr. From there he went steadily downward in bitterness and sorrow, until finally he died by his own hand, disowned by his family, despised by his countrymen, loaded with infamy and shame.

This story every American knows, but few know the story of the earlier tragedy that lies behind this tragedy in the life of Aaron Burr.

When Burr was a young man, he was a student at Princeton University. While he was there, an evangelist came to town and preached the gospel of the living God. Burr, along with other students, attended the services and felt the call of God to his heart. He felt convinced that he should become a Christian.

Then he made the same mistake that Belshazzar made. Wanting advice on a spiritual matter, he went to a worldly wise man for counsel—he went to the president of the university.

“Sir,” he said, “what is your advice? I have been attending evangelistic services, and I feel convicted that I should become a Christian.”

The president answered: “I cannot tell you whether you should become a Christian or not, but this is my advice. Wait until the evangelist has left town, and no one is here to influence you. Then, by yourself, think it through and make your own decision.”

Like most of the devil’s advice, that sounded reasonable, so Burr agreed to do it. Call after call was made at the meetings, but he sat in his seat and refused to respond. Finally the meetings were closed, the evangelist moved on to his next appointment, and the revival influences ebbed away.

The fellow students of Aaron Burr reported that late, late one starry night, as they were studying in the dormitory, they heard a sudden noise. Looking out, they saw young Aaron Burr, leaning far out of his dormitory window, his face turned to the sky, gazing for a long moment towards the heavens. Then they heard his voice ring out on the silent night, “Goodbye, God. I have made my decision.”

This is the story that lies behind the tragedy of Aaron Burr. Like Belshazzar, he knew what he ought to do, but did not do it.

Bible Study Guides – “God Hath Numbered Thy Kingdom and Finished It”

August 4, 2001 – August 10, 2001

MEMORY VERSE: “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18.

STUDY HELP: Prophets and Kings, 522–531.

Introduction: “You may plan for merely selfish good, you may gather together treasure, you may build mansions great and high, as did the builders of ancient Babylon; but you cannot build wall so high or gate so strong as to shut out the messengers of doom. Belshazzar the king ‘feasted in his palace,’ and ‘praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone.’ But the hand of One invisible wrote upon his walls the words of doom, and the tread of hostile armies was heard at his palace gates. ‘In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain,’ and an alien monarch sat upon the throne. (Daniel 5:30.) To live for self is to perish. Covetousness, the desire of benefit for self’s sake, cuts the soul off from life. It is the spirit of Satan to get, to draw to self. It is the spirit of Christ to give, to sacrifice self for the good of others.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 258.

“A Thousand of His Lords”

1 What was Belshazzar doing while his city was besieged? Daniel 5:1.

NOTE: “Babylon was besieged by Cyrus, nephew of Darius the Mede, and commanding general of the combined armies of the Medes and Persians. But within the seemingly impregnable fortress, with its massive walls and its gates of brass, protected by the river Euphrates, and stocked with provision in abundance, the voluptuous monarch felt safe and passed his time in mirth and revelry. In his pride and arrogancy, with a reckless feeling of security Belshazzar ‘made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand.’ All the attractions that wealth and power could command, added splendor to the scene. Beautiful women with their enchantments were among the guests in attendance at the royal banquet. Men of genius and education were there. Princes and statesmen drank wine like water and reveled under its maddening influence.” Prophets and Kings, 523.

2 What act of sacrilege crowned the scene of depravity? Daniel 5:2–4.

NOTE: “Exalted by wine, and blinded by delusion, the king himself took the lead in the riotous blasphemy. His reason was gone, and his lower impulses and passions were in the ascendancy. His kingdom was strong and apparently invincible, and he would show that he thought nothing too sacred for his hands to handle and profane. To show his contempt for sacred things, he desecrated the holy vessels taken from the temple of the Lord at its destruction.” Manuscript Releases vol. 10, 307.

“The Hand That Wrote”

3 What appeared at the height of the feast and what was the king’s reaction? Daniel 5:5, 6.

NOTE: “Little did Belshazzar think that there was a heavenly Witness to his idolatrous revelry; that a divine Watcher, unrecognized, looked upon the scene of profanation, heard the sacrilegious mirth, beheld the idolatry. But soon the uninvited Guest made His presence felt. When the revelry was at its height a bloodless hand came forth and traced upon the walls of the palace characters that gleamed like fire—words which, though unknown to the vast throng, were a portent of doom to the now conscience-stricken king and his guests. Hushed was the boisterous mirth, while men and women, seized with nameless terror, watched the hand slowly tracing the mysterious characters. Before them passed, as in panoramic view, the deeds of their evil lives; they seemed to be arraigned before the judgment bar of the eternal God, whose power they had just defied. Where but a few moments before had been hilarity and blasphemous witticism, were pallid faces and cries of fear. When God makes men fear, they cannot hide the intensity of their terror. Belshazzar was the most terrified of them all. He it was who above all others had been responsible for the rebellion against God which that night had reached its height in the Babylonian realm. In the presence of the unseen Watcher, the representative of Him whose power had been challenged and whose name had been blasphemed, the king was paralyzed with fear. Conscience was awakened. ‘The joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.’ Belshazzar had impiously lifted himself up against the God of heaven and had trusted in his own might, not supposing that any would dare say, ‘Why doest thou thus?’ but now he realized that he must render an account of the stewardship entrusted him, and that for his wasted opportunities and his defiant attitude he could offer no excuse.” Prophets and Kings, 524, 525.

4 To whom did Belshazzar turn for an interpretation of the writing? With what result? Daniel 5:7–9.

NOTE: “In vain the king tried to read the burning letters. He had found a power too strong for him. He could not read the writing. ‘The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. And the king spake and said to the wise men of Babylon, Whosoever shall read this writing, and show me the interpretation thereof, shall be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about his neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom. Then came in all the king’s wise men; but they could not read the writing, nor make known to the king the interpretation thereof.’ In vain the king offered honor and promotion. Heavenly wisdom cannot be bought and sold.” Bible Echo, April 25, 1898.

“There Is a Man”

5 Who proposed a solution to Belshazzar’s dilemma? Whom did the queen recommend to the king? Daniel 5:10–12.

NOTE: “There was in the palace a woman who was wiser than them all,—the queen of Belshazzar’s grandfather. In this emergency she addressed the king in language that sent a ray of light into the darkness.…“There is a man in thy kingdom in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of thy father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him; whom the king Nebuchadnezzar, thy father, the king, I say, thy father, made master of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers; . . . now let Daniel be called, and he will show the interpretation.’” Bible Echo, May 2, 1898.

6 With what words did Belshazzar address Daniel? Daniel 5:13–16.

NOTE: “Daniel is remembered, and brought to the banqueting hall. The servant of God sees the evidences of the degradation and idolatry of the feast, so suddenly brought to an end; but Daniel was not disconcerted in the presence of the king and his lords. ‘I have even heard of thee,’ said the king, ‘that the spirit of the gods is in thee, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom is found in thee.…And I have heard of thee, that thou canst make interpretations, and dissolve doubts; now if thou canst read the writing, and make known to me the interpretation thereof, thou shalt be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about thy neck, and shalt be the third ruler in the kingdom.’” Signs of the Times, July 20, 1891.

“Prior to the time that Belshazzar’s place in the kingdom and his relationship to Nabonidus were fully understood, commentators could only conjecture as to the identity of the second ruler in the kingdom. . . . Now that it is known that Belshazzar himself was only a co-ruler with his father, and hence the second ruler in the kingdom, it is clear why he could bestow no higher position in the realm than that of “third ruler.’” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary,vol. 4, 803.

7 How did Daniel respond to Belshazzar’s offer? Daniel 5:17.

NOTE: “Before that terror-stricken throng, Daniel, unmoved by the promises of the king, stood in the quiet dignity of a servant of the Most High, not to speak words of flattery, but to interpret a message of doom. ‘Let thy gifts be to thyself,’ he said, ‘and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation.’” Prophets and Kings, 529.

“Thou Knewest All This”

8 Of what important facts did Daniel remind Belshazzar? Daniel 5:18–21.

NOTE: “Belshazzar had been given many opportunities for knowing and doing the will of God. He had seen his grandfather Nebuchadnezzar banished from the society of men. He had seen the intellect in which the proud monarch gloried taken away by the One who gave it. He had seen the king driven from his kingdom, and made the companion of the beasts of the field. But Belshazzar’s love of amusement and self-glorification effaced the lessons he should never have forgotten; and he committed sins similar to those that brought signal judgments on Nebuchadnezzar. He wasted the opportunities graciously granted him, neglecting to use the opportunities within his reach for becoming acquainted with truth. ‘What must I do to be saved?’ was a question that the great but foolish king passed by indifferently.” Bible Echo, April 25, 1898.

9 What was Belshazzar’s sin that Daniel pointed out to the king? Daniel 5:22, 23.

NOTE: “Then in bold and emphatic words he rebuked Belshazzar for his great wickedness. He held the king’s sin up before him, showing him the lessons he might have learned but did not. Belshazzar had not read aright the experience of his grandfather, nor heeded the warning of events so significant to himself. The opportunity of knowing and obeying the true God had been given him, but had not been taken to heart, and he was about to reap the consequence of his rebellion.” Prophets and Kings, 529.


10 What was the writing on the wall and how did Daniel interpret it? Daniel 5:24–26.

NOTE: “MENE meant that God had added up the crimes of Belshazzar and his people and finished their tally. The word was repeated to stress the thoroughness and finality and accuracy of the divine decision.” Hardinge, Jesus Is My Judge, 71.

In Daniel 8:13 (see marginal reading) God is described as Palmoni, which means “The Wonderful Numberer.” The time prophecies of the Bible show how accurately God numbers the affairs of earth and finishes them.

11 How did Daniel interpret the next word of the inscription on the wall? Daniel 5:27.

NOTE: “TEKEL testified that God had ‘weighed’the character and conduct of the Babylonians and Belshazzar in His scales of eternal justice and found them lacking.” Hardinge, Jesus Is My Judge, 71.

“Be not deceived. God is not mocked. Nothing but holiness will prepare you for heaven. It is sincere, experimental piety alone that can give you a pure, elevated character and enable you to enter into the presence of God, who dwelleth in light unapproachable. The heavenly character must be acquired on earth, or it can never be acquired at all. Desires for goodness and true holiness are right so far as they go; but if you stop here, they will avail nothing. Good purposes are right, but will prove of no avail unless resolutely carried out. Many will be lost while hoping and desiring to be Christians; but they made no earnest effort, therefore they will be weighed in the balances and found wanting. The will must be exercised in the right direction. I will be a wholehearted Christian. I will know the length and breadth, the heighth and depth, of perfect love. Listen to the words of Jesus: ‘Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.’ Ample provisions are made by Christ to satisfy the soul that hungers and thirsts for righteousness.” Maranatha, 46.

“The robe of your character must be washed till it is spotless, in the fountain opened for all uncleanness. Your moral worth will be weighed in the balances of the sanctuary, and if you are found wanting, you will be at an eternal loss. All the coarseness, all the roughness, must be removed from your character before Jesus comes; for when He comes, the preparation for every soul is ended. If you have not laid aside your envy, your jealousies, your hatred one against another, you cannot enter into the kingdom of God. You would only carry the same disposition with you; but there will be nothing of this character in the world to come. Nothing will exist there but love and joy and harmony.” Signs of the Times, February 10, 1888.

12 What was the interpretation of the final word on the wall? Daniel 5:28.

NOTE: “PERES has a double meaning. It proclaimed that the kingdom was to be ‘divided’ and handed over to the Persians.” Hardinge, Jesus Is My Judge, 72.

“In that last night of mad folly, Belshazzar and his lords had filled up the measure of their guilt and the guilt of the Chaldean kingdom. No longer could God’s restraining hand ward off the impending evil. Through manifold providences, God had sought to teach them reverence for His law. ‘We would have healed Babylon,’ He declared of those whose judgment was now reaching unto heaven, ‘but she is not healed.’ Jeremiah 51:9. Because of the strange perversity of the human heart, God had at last found it necessary to pass the irrevocable sentence. Belshazzar was to fall, and his kingdom was to pass into other hands.” Prophets and Kings, 530.

“In that Night”

13 What honors were heaped upon Daniel in reward for his interpretation? Daniel 5:29.

NOTE: “As the prophet ceased speaking, the king commanded that he be awarded the promised honors; and in harmony with this, ‘they clothed Daniel with scarlet, and put a chain of gold about his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.’” Prophets and Kings, 530.

14 What was the fate of Belshazzar and Babylon? Daniel 5:30, 31.

NOTE: “While the king and his nobles were at the height of their revelry, the Persians turned the Euphrates out of its channel, and marched into the unguarded city. As Belshazzar and his lords were drinking from the sacred vessels of Jehovah, and praising their gods of silver and gold, Cyrus and his soldiers stood under the walls of the palace. ‘In that night,’ the record says, ‘was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain. And Darius the Median took the kingdom.’” Bible Echo, May 2, 1898.

Bible Study Guides – The Fall of Ancient Babylon

July 31, 2004 – August 6, 2004

Memory Verse

“When his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him.” Daniel 5:20.

Suggested Reading: Prophets and Kings, 522–538.


“In the history of Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar, God speaks to nations of today. We are to take to heart the lessons he sought to teach these rebellious kings; for if Belshazzar had pursued a course in harmony with the instruction given to his grandfather, he would have retained not only his kingdom but his life. He disregarded the lessons, and went on in rebellion against God, committing the very sins for which his grandfather had been reproved and punished. He, too, lifted himself up in pride and exaltation, and the final judgment of God fell upon him and his house. His great sin was that, notwithstanding God had given him light, he refused to walk in the paths of righteousness.” The Signs of the Times, July 20, 1891.

“The condemnation that will fall upon the nations of the earth in this day will be because of their rejection of light, and will be similar to that which fell upon the kings of Babylon; it will be because they have failed to make the most of present light, present opportunities for knowing what is truth and righteousness. Our condemnation in the judgment will not result from the fact that we have lived in error, but from the fact that we have neglected heaven-sent opportunities for discovering truth. The means of becoming conversant with the truth are within the reach of all; but, like the indulgent, selfish king, we give more attention to the things that charm the ear, and please the eye, and gratify the palate, than to the things that enrich the mind, the divine treasures of truth. It is through the truth that we may answer the great question, ‘What must I do to be saved?’ ” Ibid., July 27, 1891.

1 What was God’s gracious purpose in sending messages (Daniel 2:47; 3:28; 4:1–3) to Babylon’s king? Jeremiah 51:8, 9.

note: “Through the folly and weakness of Belshazzar, the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar, proud Babylon was soon to fall. Admitted in his youth to a share in kingly authority, Belshazzar gloried in his power and lifted up his heart against the God of heaven. Many had been his opportunities to know the divine will and to understand his responsibility of rendering obedience thereto. He had known of his grandfather’s banishment, by the decree of God, from the society of men; and he was familiar with Nebuchadnezzar’s conversion and miraculous restoration. But Belshazzar allowed the love of pleasure and self-glorification to efface the lessons that he should never have forgotten. He wasted the opportunities graciously granted him, and neglected to use the means within his reach for becoming more fully acquainted with truth. That which Nebuchadnezzar had finally gained at the cost of untold suffering and humiliation, Belshazzar passed by with indifference.” Prophets and Kings, 522, 523.

2 Who was the last ruler of Babylon? Daniel 5:1. What blasphemous scenes were enacted at his last feast? Verses 2–4.

note: “Ignorance is no excuse now for the transgression of law. The light shines clearly, and none need be ignorant, for the great God Himself is man’s instructor. All are bound by the most sacred obligations to God to heed the sound philosophy and genuine experience which He is now giving them in reference to health reform. He designs that the great subject of health reform shall be agitated and the public mind deeply stirred to investigate; for it is impossible for men and women, with all their sinful, health-destroying, brain-enervating habits, to discern sacred truth, through which they are to be sanctified, refined, elevated, and made fit for the society of heavenly angels in the kingdom of glory.

“The inhabitants of the Noachian world were destroyed because they were corrupted through the indulgence of perverted appetite. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed through the gratification of unnatural appetite, which so benumbed the intellect that they could not discern the difference between the sacred claims of God and the clamor of appetite. The latter enslaved them, and they became so ferocious and bold in their detestable abominations that God would not tolerate them upon the earth. God ascribes the wickedness of Babylon to her gluttony and drunkenness.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 162.

3 What evidence was given that an unseen Watcher was witnessing this blasphemous revelry? Daniel 5:5.

note: “It is the most abhorrent form of selfishness that leads the worker to neglect the improvement of time, the care of property, because he is not directly under the eye of the master. But do such workers imagine that their neglects are not noticed, their unfaithfulness not recorded? Could their eyes be opened, they would see that a Watcher looks on, and all their carelessness is recorded in the books of heaven.

“Those who are unfaithful to the work of God are lacking in principle; their motives are not of a character to lead them to choose the right under all circumstances. The servants of God are to feel at all times that they are under the eye of their employer. He who watched the sacrilegious feast of Belshazzar is present in all our institutions, in the counting-room of the merchant, in the private workshop; and the bloodless hand is as surely recording your neglect as it recorded the awful judgment of the blasphemous king. Belshazzar’s condemnation was written in words of fire, ‘Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting’; and if you fail to fulfill your God-given obligations your condemnation will be the same.” Messages to Young People, 229.

4 What offer was made to the wise man who could interpret the writing? Daniel 5:6, 7.

note: “In vain the king tried to read the burning letters. He had found a power too strong for him. He could not read the writing. [Daniel 5:7 quoted.] In vain the king offered honor and promotion. Heavenly wisdom can not be bought and sold.” The Youth’s Instructor, May 19, 1898.

5 Why did the queen mother call attention to Daniel? Daniel 5:8–12.

note: “There was in the palace a woman who was wiser than them all,—the queen of Belshazzar’s grandfather. In this emergency she addressed the king in language that sent a ray of light into the darkness.” The Bible Echo, May 2, 1898.

“Daniel is remembered, and brought to the banqueting hall. The servant of God sees the evidences of the degradation and idolatry of the feast, so suddenly brought to an end; but Daniel was not disconcerted in the presence of the king and his lords.” The Signs of the Times, July 20, 1891.

6 What did the king say when Daniel came before him? How did Daniel esteem the king’s offer of gifts? Daniel 5:13–17.

note: “Then is Daniel brought before the king without delay, and the monarch promises him great rewards if he will interpret the writing. Daniel looks upon that wicked throng bearing evidence of intemperate feasting and revelry. He stands before them in the quiet dignity of a servant of the most high God, not to speak words of flattery, as was the custom of the professedly wise men of the kingdom, but to speak the truth of God. Sternly disclaiming all desire for rewards or honor, he says, ‘Let thy gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation.’ [Daniel 5:17.]” Review and Herald, February 8, 1881.

7 Of what was the king reminded? Daniel 5:18–21. Why had judgment been pronounced against him? Verses 22, 23.

note: “Daniel did not swerve from his duty. He held the king’s sin before him, showing him the lessons he might have learned but did not. Belshazzar had not heeded the events so significant to him. He had not read his grandfather’s history correctly. The responsibility of knowing truth had been laid upon him, but the practical lesson he might have learned and acted upon had not been taken to heart; and his course of action brought the sure result.” The Bible Echo, May 2, 1898.

8 What was the meaning of the writing on the wall? Daniel 5:25–28. How soon was the sentence executed? Verses 30, 31.

note: “Belshazzar was without excuse, for abundant light had been given him to reform his life. He had had opportunity for knowing the truth; but he lost all the benefits of the knowledge by his course of self-indulgence; he did not meet the mind of God, as a man or a king, and because of this the kingdom had been taken from him. He who has power to set up and to tear down, gave the kingdom to another.” The Signs of the Times, July 20, 1891.

“This was the last feast of boasting held by the Chaldean king; for He who bears long with man’s perversity had passed the irrevocable sentence. Belshazzar had greatly dishonoured the One who had exalted him as king, and his probation was taken from him. While the king and his nobles were at the height of their revelry, the Persians turned the Euphrates out of its channel, and marched into the unguarded city. As Belshazzar and his lords were drinking from the sacred vessels of Jehovah, and praising their gods of silver and gold, Cyrus and his soldiers stood under the walls of the palace.” The Bible Echo, May 2, 1898.

9 What lessons come to us from the fall of nations? Jeremiah 18:7–10. Compare 11 Corinthians 10:4, 5.

note: “The history of the world from the beginning is contained in Genesis. There it is revealed that all nations who forget God and discard His way and his sign of obedience, which distinguishes between the just and the unjust, the righteous and the wicked, the saved and the unsaved, will be destroyed. The first books of the Bible, which trace down the history of nations, including the destruction of the old world, show the overruling providence of God, which from generation to generation has provided for the education of a chosen people. The plainly written word in regard to the just and the unjust is a living testimony in regard to those whom the Lord will sanctify. None who live in disobedience can receive His blessing. Only those who are obedient can receive this.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 3, 184.

10 In what words had the prophet foretold God’s deliverance of His people from Babylon before the captivity? Jeremiah 50:33, 34; Jeremiah 51:19–24.

note: “In the unexpected entry of the army of the Persian conqueror into the heart of the Babylonian capital by way of the channel of the river whose waters had been turned aside, and through the inner gates that in careless security had been left open and unprotected, the Jews had abundant evidence of the literal fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy concerning the sudden overthrow of their oppressors. And this should have been to them an unmistakable sign that God was shaping the affairs of nations in their behalf . . . .

“Nor were these the only prophecies upon which the exiles had opportunity to base their hope of speedy deliverance. The writings of Jeremiah were within their reach, and in these was plainly set forth the length of time that should elapse before the restoration of Israel from Babylon.” Prophets and Kings, 552.

11 By what assurance had captive Israel looked forward to this? Jeremiah 51:57, 58.

note: “With what tender compassion did God inform His captive people of His plans for Israel! He knew that should they be persuaded by false prophets to look for a speedy deliverance, their position in Babylon would be made very difficult. Any demonstration or insurrection on their part would awaken the vigilance and severity of the Chaldean authorities and would lead to a further restriction of their liberties. Suffering and disaster would result. He desired them to submit quietly to their fate and make their servitude as pleasant as possible . . . .” Prophets and Kings, 441.

12 How certain is spiritual Israel of judgment upon spiritual Babylon and of final deliverance? Revelation 18:21–19:2.

note: “After the truth has been proclaimed as a witness to all nations, every conceivable power of evil will be set in operation, and minds will be confused by many voices crying, ‘Lo, here is Christ, Lo, he is there. This is the truth, I have the message from God, he has sent me with great light.’ Then there will be a removing of the landmarks, and an attempt to tear down the pillars of our faith. A more decided effort will be made to exalt the false Sabbath, and to cast contempt upon God himself by supplanting the day he has blessed and sanctified. This false Sabbath is to be enforced by an oppressive law. Satan and his angels are wide-awake, and intensely active, working with energy and perseverance through human instrumentalities to bring about his purpose of obliterating from the minds of men the knowledge of God. But while Satan works with his lying wonders, the time will be fulfilled foretold in the Revelation, and the mighty angel that shall lighten the earth with his glory, will proclaim the fall of Babylon, and call upon God’s people to forsake her.” Review and Herald, December 13, 1892.

These lessons are adapted from Sabbath School Lesson Quarterly, Pacific Press Publishing Association, Mountain View, California, 1918.

Bible Study Guides – Weighed in the Balances

October 25, 2009 – October 31, 2009

Key Text

“Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the Lord [is] a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.” I Samuel 2:3.

Study Help: Prophets and Kings, 522–538; Testimonies, vol. 8, 247–251.


“God judges every man according to his work. Not only does He judge, but He sums up, day by day and hour by hour, our progress in welldoing.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 987.

1 When Belshazzar inherited the Babylonian throne at a young age, what traits were readily seen in his character? Daniel 5:1.

Note: “Belshazzar gloried in his power and lifted up his heart against the God of heaven. Many had been his opportunities to know the divine will and to understand his responsibility of rendering obedience thereto. He had known of his grandfather’s banishment, by the decree of God, from the society of men; and he was familiar with Nebuchadnezzar’s conversion and miraculous restoration. But Belshazzar allowed the love of pleasure and self-glorification to efface the lessons that he should never have forgotten. He wasted the opportunities graciously granted him, and neglected to use the means within his reach for becoming more fully acquainted with truth. That which Nebuchadnezzar had finally gained at the cost of untold suffering and humiliation, Belshazzar passed by with indifference.” Prophets and Kings, 522, 523.

2 How did Belshazzar blatantly display his irreverence for the sacred vessels of God? Daniel 5:2–4. Explain how still greater profanations occur today, even among professed believers.

Note: “It is a truth which should make every one of us weep, that those living in these last days, upon whom the ends of the world are come, are far more guilty than was Belshazzar. This is possible in many ways. When men have taken upon themselves the vows of consecration, to devote all their powers to the sacred service of God; when they occupy the position of expositors of Bible truth, and have received the solemn charge; when God and angels are summoned as witnesses to the solemn dedication of soul, body, and spirit to God’s service—then shall these men who minister in a most holy office desecrate their God-given powers to unholy purposes? Shall the sacred vessel, whom God is to use for a high and holy work, be dragged from its lofty, controlling sphere to administer to debasing lust? Is not this idol worship of the most degrading kind?—the lips uttering praises and adoring a sinful human being, pouring forth expressions of ravishing tenderness and adulation which belong alone to God—the powers given to God in solemn consecration administering to a harlot; for any woman who will allow the addresses of another man than her husband, who will listen to his advances, and whose ears will be pleased with the outpouring of lavish words of affection, of adoration, of endearment, is an adulteress and a harlot.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 434, 435.

3 What amazing sight stopped the party? Daniel 5:5.

Note: “In the midst of the revelry, Belshazzar saw the bloodless hand of an uninvited guest tracing upon the wall of the palace words that gleamed like fire,—words which, though unknown to that vast throng, were a portent of doom to the new conscience-stricken revelers. The boisterous mirth was hushed, and they shook with a nameless terror as their eyes fastened upon the wall. Where but a few moments before had been hilarity and blasphemous witticism, were pallid faces and cries of fear.” Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, 20, 21.

“If they could not understand the writing, why were they so troubled? The writing on the wall gave evidence that there was a witness to their evil deeds, a guest not invited or welcome to their idolatrous feast, and his presence convicted of sin, and foretold doom and disaster. Before them passed, as in panoramic view, the deeds of their evil lives, and they seemed to be arraigned before the Judgment, of which they had been warned.” The Signs of the Times, July 20, 1891.

4 How did Belshazzar react? Daniel 5:6. Why should this impress us to reexamine our own lives? Ecclesiastes 11:9.

Note: “Belshazzar was the most terrified of them all. He it was who above all others had been responsible for the rebellion against God which that night had reached its height in the Babylonian realm. In the presence of the unseen Watcher, the representative of Him whose power had been challenged and whose name had been blasphemed, the king was paralyzed with fear. Conscience was awakened.” Prophets and Kings, 524, 527.

“The same Witness that recorded the profanity of Belshazzar is present with us wherever we go. … You may feel that you are at liberty to act out the impulses of the natural heart, that you may indulge in lightness and trifling, but for all these things you must give an account. As you sow, you will reap, and if you are taking the foundation from your house, robbing your brain of its nutriment, and your nerves of their power by dissipation and indulgence of appetite and passion, you will have an account to render to him who says, ‘I know thy works.’ [Revelation 3:15.]” The Review and Herald, March 29, 1892.

5 What was the frantic desire of Belshazzar? Daniel 5:7–9.

Note: “In vain the king tried to read the burning letters. But here was a secret he could not fathom, a power he could neither understand nor gainsay. In despair he turned to the wise men of his realm for help. His wild cry rang out in the assembly, calling upon the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers to read the writing. … But of no avail was his appeal to his trusted advisers, with offers of rich awards. Heavenly wisdom cannot be bought or sold. … They were no more able to read the mysterious characters than had been the wise men of a former generation to interpret the dreams of Nebuchadnezzar.” Prophets and Kings, 527.

6 How was Daniel’s name brought up during this crisis? Daniel 5:10–12. What was known about him? Daniel 5:13, 14.

Note: “There was in the palace a woman who was wiser than them all,—the queen of Belshazzar’s grandfather. In this emergency she addressed the king in language that sent a ray of light into the darkness.” The Youth’s Instructor, May 26, 1898.

7 Describe the prophet’s introduction to the king. What should the prophet’s warning make us realize? Daniel 5:15–28.

Note: “Before that terror-stricken throng, Daniel, unmoved by the promises of the king, stood in the quiet dignity of a servant of the Most High, not to speak words of flattery, but to interpret a message of doom.” Prophets and Kings, 529.

“When Daniel was brought in before Belshazzar, as the king and his nobles sat at their sacrilegious feast, he plainly told the king that the calamity to come upon Babylon was the result of a disregard of heaven-sent light. He disregarded the light given to Nebuchadnezzar, and thereby lost the benefits he might have received had he been obedient to the light. God gives His people lessons to instruct them and lead them to reform. If they do not receive and practice these lessons, their neglect will surely bring judgments upon them.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 11, 98, 99.

8 How did God’s judgment affect the king and the entire nation? Daniel 5:29–31.

Note: “Belshazzar was without excuse, for abundant light had been given him to reform his life. …

“His great sin was that, notwithstanding God had given him light, he refused to walk in the paths of righteousness.” The Signs of the Times, July 20, 1891.

“God ascribes the fall of Babylon to her gluttony and drunkenness. Indulgence of appetite and passion was the foundation of all their sins.” Counsels on Health, 110.

9 What must we take into serious consideration if we do not want to be found wanting? I Samuel 2:3.

Note: “The fact that you conscientiously believe a lie will not save you from ruin, when the truth might have been yours.” The Signs of the Times, July 27, 1891.

“Those who are ‘do-nothings’ now will have the superscription upon them, ‘Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.’ [Daniel 5:27.] They knew their Master’s will, but did it not. They had the light of truth, they had every advantage, but chose their own selfish interests, and they will be left with those whom they did not try to save.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 237.

10 What may keep us out of the kingdom? Proverbs 16:2; Hebrews 4:13; James 4:17.

Note: “The church cannot measure herself by the world nor by the opinion of men nor by what she once was. Her faith and her position in the world as they now are must be compared with what they would have been if her course had been continually onward and upward. The church will be weighed in the balances of the sanctuary. If her moral character and spiritual state do not correspond with the benefits and blessings God has conferred upon her, she will be found wanting.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 83.

“Men are weighed in the balance and found wanting when they are living in the practice of any known sin. It is the privilege of every son of God to be a true Christian moment by moment; then he has all heaven enlisted on his side.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 440, 441.

Additional Reading

“‘If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.’ [Matthew 19:17.] Very many who profess to be Christ’s disciples will apparently pass along smoothly in this world, and will be regarded as upright, godly men, when they have a plague spot at the core, which taints their whole character and corrupts their religious experience. ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.’ [Matthew 22:39.] This forbids us to take advantage of our fellow men in order to advantage ourselves. We are forbidden to wrong our neighbor in anything. We should not view the matter from the worldling’s standpoint. To deal with our fellow men in every instance just as we should wish them to deal with us is a rule which we should apply to ourselves practically. God’s laws are to be obeyed to the letter. In all our intercourse and deal with our fellow men, whether believers or unbelievers, this rule is to be applied: ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself.’

“Here many who profess to be Christians will not bear the measurement of God; when weighed in the balances of the sanctuary, they will be found wanting. Dear brother, ‘come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.’ [II Corinthians 6:17, 18.] What a promise is this! But we are not to lose sight of the fact that it is based upon obedience to the command. God calls you to separate from the world. You are not to follow their practices, nor conform to them in your course of action in any respect. …

“God calls for separation from the world. Will you obey? Will you come out from among them, and remain separate and distinct from them? ‘For what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?’ [II Corinthians 6:14.] You cannot mingle with worldlings, and partake of their spirit, and follow their example, and be at the same time a child of God. The Creator of the universe addresses you as an affectionate Father. If you separate from the world in your affections, and remain free from its contamination, escaping the corruption that is in the world through lust, God will be your Father, He will adopt you into His family, and you will be His heir. In place of the world, He will give you, for a life of obedience, the kingdom under the whole heavens. He will give you an eternal weight of glory and a life that is as enduring as eternity.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 43, 44.

“God is weighing our characters, our conduct, and our motives in the balances of the sanctuary. It will be a fearful thing to be pronounced wanting in love and obedience by our Redeemer, who died upon the cross to draw our hearts unto Him.…To be weighed in the balance and found wanting in the day of final settlement and rewards will be a fearful thing, a terrible mistake which can never be corrected.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 370.

© Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.

Your Last Night on Earth

by Cody Francis

Your Last Night on EarthHave you ever stopped to consider that at some point in time you will have reached your last night on planet earth? This time will come for each and every person alive today. One day you will wake up for the last time. You might eat breakfast and walk out your front door, never more to do so again. You will work your last day. Drive your car for the last time. You will say the last words to your family. To everyone this will not happen at the same time, but to everyone it will happen. For absolutely everyone who is alive, as with everyone who has ever been alive, there will be a last night on earth. None know when that will be, but like it or not, your last night on earth is coming. For the last generation living on planet earth, the last night will come all at once, as a sudden, overwhelming surprise to the inhabitants of earth. Your last night on earth is coming sooner than many think? Are you prepared for your last night? Do you know what your last night will be like? Several illustrations that deserve our careful study of what that last night will be like, are found in the Bible.

Belshazzar’s Last Night

There are many examples of different individual’s last nights on planet earth, but perhaps the most graphic of the many last nights, is Belshazzar’s. Belshazzar grew up on Nebuchadnezzar’s knee. Nebuchadnezzar was Belshazzar’s grandfather, and like any doting grandfather he probably loved to tell his grandson the many unique experiences that he had gone through. There were the many war stories, the brave and courageous deeds that Nebuchadnezzar had accomplished along with his valiant army. There were the many great works that he had done for the building of the great city of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar had definitely built the city of Babylon to a height that it had never known before, and that it has never attained since. Not only were the stories of courage and magnificence told, but also the many strange occurrences that had taken place during Nebuchadnezzar’s long and prosperous reign. There was nothing more unusual than the events that surrounded some of the Hebrew captives that he had brought back from his raid on Jerusalem. They were different from all of the other captives. He had taken hundreds and thousands of the pride of the Hebrew nation back to the mighty fortress of Babylon, but there was something different about these few. He knew something was totally different as soon as they arrived. They refused to eat the food that he had graciously provided for them. He had given them everything that they could want. He brought them back to the capital city of the greatest empire of that time, and then put them through an intensive training program. He planned on making them, along with the other captives, the counselors and ministers of his government. He was paying all of the expenses of the greatest teachers in the world just so he could have the best cabinet possible. The captives should be forever grateful to him for the high honor that he had bestowed upon them, but not so with these strange Hebrew captives. When they came to the dinner table, they refused to eat the repast that he had so graciously provided. The king had the best nutritionists in the world, yet these four young men seemed to think that they knew more than the most learned men in the field of nutrition. Amazingly enough, they were right! It was more than could be accounted for by the learned men of the day, but it was still true. The dean of the school had given them permission to eat only vegetables and water. Imagine! How could anyone develop mentally and physically by only eating vegetables! But they did, and at the end of that short trial period, “their countenance appeared better and fatter in flesh that all the young men who ate the portion of the king’s delicacies.” Daniel 1:15. Here were a few young men who would rather die than eat of the delicious delicacies with which the king had spread his table. There were the finest and rarest meats from around the world on that table. There were the rich cakes and sweets that the best chefs in Babylon had baked. There were the exotic and intoxicating wines that all of Babylon lusted after. And here were a few men who refused to join in the feast! It was surprising that anyone would not want to gorge themselves with the fancy foods and drinks that tempted the palette, but here were men who were willing to die rather than eat the delicious food. Odd indeed; but since they had proved themselves in just a few days to be more healthy than the others, they were allowed to continue with their singular diet. Then, wonder of all wonders, at the end of the training they were far superior to all of their other colleagues. “Then the king interviewed them, and among them all none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; therefore they served before the king. And in all matters of wisdom and understanding about which the king examined them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm.” Daniel 1:19, 20.

The odd and unexplainable circumstances did not stop with the unusual diet of these Hebrews, but each event became stranger and stranger. There was the remarkable dream that Nebuchadnezzar had. No doubt each time he heard the story of the dream, it puzzled little Belshazzar’s mind. The impression that had been left upon Grandfather Nebuchadnezzar was never afterward erased. It is not an everyday experience when the God of heaven sends you a dream and then blocks the remembrance of it from your mind. The importance and significance of the dream still weighed heavily upon the mind of Nebuchadnezzar, but in the morning, for some strange reason, he could not recall the dream. He knew that it had great importance, but he could not recall the details. He called his trusty counselors together and demanded that they divine for him both the dream and the interpretation. He was certain that if they could interpret dreams and omens, surely they would be able to tell the dream as well. He was wrong. Their response revealed their complete incapability. “The Chaldeans answered the king, and said, ‘There is not a man on earth who can tell the king’s matter; therefore no king, lord, or ruler has ever asked such things of any magicians, astrologer, or Chaldean. It is a difficult thing that the king requires, and there is no other who can tell it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.” Daniel 2:10, 11. This answer was not acceptable to the king and his hasty decree went forward that all of his wise men should be killed. “For this reason the king was angry and very furious, and gave a command to destroy all the wise men of Babylon.” Daniel 2:12. Then those unusual Hebrews came to the forefront again. This time in an even more marked way than previously. “So Daniel went in and asked the king to give him time, that he might tell the king the interpretation.” Daniel 2:16. Daniel went directly to the king and asked for a night that he might fast and pray to the God of heaven to reveal the dream. Sure enough, in the morning Daniel confidently stepped up to the king with an answer, “The secret which the king has demanded, the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, and the soothsayers cannot declare to the king. But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days.” Daniel 2:27, 28. Then Daniel proceeded to relate the exact dream that Nebuchadnezzar had been given the previous night. As Daniel was explaining, the entire dream came back to Nebuchadnezzar and he knew that truly this God of heaven, whom Daniel talked about, had both given the dream and revealed it to his servant, Daniel. Not only did Daniel reveal the details of the dream that no one but the God of heaven could reveal, but he also gave the interpretation of this remarkable dream. How Nebuchadnezzar must have delighted in telling this unusual story to his wondering grandson, Belshazzar.

Then there was the great statue that Nebuchadnezzar had erected and commanded all peoples to bow down and worship. Perhaps one of the most dazzling and beautiful idols that had ever been made, stood there on the plain of Dura. No doubt, Nebuchadnezzar was proud of the dazzling, ninety-foot tall image that stood sparkling in the sunlight. Then he gave the command that all were to worship this great image. Once again the Hebrews stood in the limelight. When the masses of people on that large field prostrated themselves to the ground in worship of this beautiful image, there was three left standing. Who were they? None other than those stubborn Hebrews. The king was in a generous mood so he gave them a second chance, but they did not even take it. “If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” Daniel 3:17, 18. Firm as a rock they stood to principle, just as they had done with their diet, but this was too much for the king. He could not allow them to get away with this. His entire kingdom would be in jeopardy if he allowed this insubordination. He would make a public example of them, little knowing that they would be a public example to him. Into the furnace they were thrown. No more would he have to worry about those pesky Hebrews; they were gone now. But wait! They were not gone. They were walking around in the fire as if it were a stroll in the park! This was truly stranger than was anything anyone on that plain had seen before. Never had men been cast into a kiln, which had been heated to a white-hot heat, with no affect. Even if Nebuchadnezzar did not believe in the God that they followed, there was no denying it now–they served a powerful God! Nebuchadnezzar was sure to relate how it affected his heart, and how he almost chose to follow the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego, but alas, he turned away again. But God was not done with Nebuchadnezzar.

The most unusual thing of all was the judgment that rested upon Nebuchadnezzar himself. His grandfather might not only have told Belshazzar about this, but Belshazzar may even have witnessed it himself. God sent Nebuchadnezzar yet another dream in an attempt to wake him up to his spiritual condition, but Nebuchadnezzar still had not learned his lesson. Once again he called in his wise men, but they, of course, were completely unable to give an accurate interpretation of the dream. Finally Daniel came in. When the king related the dream to Daniel, he “was astonished for a time, and his thoughts troubled him.” Daniel 4:19. This dream did not present the empires of the world through history. This dream did not flatter the king’s ambition and pride. This dream was a stern rebuke, and threatened judgment if the king did not repent. But Nebuchadnezzar did not repent. “All this came upon King Nebuchadnezzar. At the end of twelve months he was walking about the royal palace of Babylon, and he spoke, saying, ‘Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?'” Daniel 4:28-30. Nebuchadnezzar prided himself in what he had done and gave none of the credit to God. As a result God took away his reason. “While the word was still in the king’s mouth, a voice fell from heaven: ‘King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you! And they shall drive you from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. They shall make you eat grass like oxen; and seven times shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.’ That very hour the word was fulfilled concerning Nebuchadnezzar; he was driven from men and ate grass like the oxen; his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws.” Daniel 4:31-33. Nebuchadnezzar refused to repent despite the merciful warning that God had given to him, and the awful calamity threatened, fell upon him. He went insane and was driven from beautiful Babylon that he had built. He was given grass to eat and he wandered through the wilderness as a mad man. What a fate for the most powerful monarch in the world. But God had a plan. Nebuchadnezzar, instead of being angry or embarrassed over the humiliating state of affairs, praised God for His goodness. Nebuchadnezzar could truly say, “all things work together for good.” Romans 8:28. It was through this most humbling experience that God was able to reach down to him and save him. Nebuchadnezzar had a true conversion experience. No longer did he throw his subjects into the furnace for obeying the God of heaven, but he praised and extolled the God of heaven. “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice.” Daniel 4:37. Through this most humbling experience, Nebuchadnezzar learned to love and obey the God of heaven. As he told his grandson, Belshazzar, the terrible experience that he had gone through, we can be sure that he added warnings and cautions so that young Belshazzar would not follow the same dreadful path. Nebuchadnezzar had a true conversion experience, and as with everyone, who has had a true experience with the Lord, he longed for his friends and family to have this same experience so that they also might “taste and see that the Lord is good.” Psalms 34:8. It is certain that Nebuchadnezzar told of this experience with tears and pleadings that his precious family would listen and take heed, but Belshazzar did not.

Belshazzar had heard the stories of God’s miraculous workings over and over again, until it had seemed like an idle tale, but he went his own way. He determined that he would have fun and enjoy life for a while. Perhaps he intended to get right with God later, but the world seemed to offer so much. His heart had no doubt been convicted as his grandfather pled for him to follow the God of heaven before it was too late. Belshazzar might even have said that he would. Belshazzar had the knowledge. Belshazzar had the personal acquaintance with God’s miracle working power. Belshazzar knew what he needed to do, but he did it not, and unbeknownst to him, his last night on earth was soon to overtake him unprepared. The Bible gives a full description of Belshazzar’s last night on earth, not as an amusing story to tickle our fancy, but as a lesson, a solemn warning that all should heed lest their last night on earth end the same way.

It began as one of the gayest rounds of merriment with which Belshazzar had ever dazzled himself. Belshazzar was fond of feasts and licentiousness and frequently gave himself over to such debasing merriment, but this was a special night. This was a special festival, and nothing was to be held back. As the Bible records, “Belshazzar the king made a great feast for a thousand of his lords, and drank wine in the presence of the thousand.” Daniel 5:1. The Persian army had surrounded the city of Babylon and were planning to attack, but what did that matter to Belshazzar. Let the Persians die under the hot sun while he feasted inside. He cared neither for the Persians nor for the God of heaven. He would throw contempt upon both by recklessly disregarding their presence. He had food for years, walls higher than the Persians could mount, and the great river Euphrates supplying the city with water. What need he to fear? He would throw a great feast in defiance of the God of heaven whom his grandfather Nebuchadnezzar had served. He knew about the dream that an inferior kingdom would conquer Babylon, but he cast the convicting voice of conscience from his heart and gave himself fully over to feasting and revelry. He went even further in his blasphemy by bringing in the sacred vessels from the temple of Jerusalem. “While he tasted the wine, Belshazzar gave the command to bring the gold and silver vessels which his ancestor Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple which had been in Jerusalem, that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them. Then they brought the gold vessels that had been taken from the temple of the house of God which had been in Jerusalem; and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. The drank wine, and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone.” Daniel 5:2-4. Belshazzar showed the ultimate contempt for the God of heaven by profaning his sacred things. He recklessly brought the sacred vessels and polluted them with wine and gaiety, and did not know that this was to be his last night. How many today are following the same course as Belshazzar. They profane God’s holy things–His holy Sabbath day, His holy time, His holy money. What a fearful fate will meet all who, like Belshazzar, despise what God has set apart as holy. But Belshazzar did not care! The more wine the better. The more dainties the better. The more entrancing music, the better. The more wives and concubines, the better. He had made his decision to live for the world, and the world he would live for. Moses chose the opposite. “Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin.” Hebrews 11:25. Moses chose to leave the court life of excitement and vain pleasures. He chose to take his stand with God’s people even if he had to endure trials and obstacles, but not so with Belshazzar. Belshazzar went the opposite way. He threw his lot in with the passing pleasure of sin. How many today follow the same pernicious course. The things of this world have such a hold upon them that not even Samson can shake them loose; and unknowingly they are headed at breakneck speed for their last night on earth.

Belshazzar’s last night did not end as he had thought, though. His laughing was turned into mourning in a matter of seconds. “In the same hour the fingers of a man’s hand appeared and wrote opposite the lamp stand on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace; and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. Then the king’s countenance changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his hips loosened and his knees knocked against each other.” Daniel 5:5, 6. In the midst of the mirth, a bloodless hand appeared next to the wall. It began to write in letters that all could trace, but none could read. Although, the words were unknown to all in the room, an awful silence fell upon that once boisterous crowd. None knew what was written, but all sensed that it spelled their doom. They knew what they had done. They knew the events that were common knowledge to all in the realm of Daniel’s God. They remembered the insanity that struck Nebuchadnezzar, and all were sure that the mysterious words on the wall were not a message of peace and safety.

As Belshazzar thought back upon his life and the thousands of times that the Lord had convicted his heart of which way to go, and he refused, his knees began to knock with fright. The expression of empty excitement vanished from his face and one of guilty terror took its place. He knew that he was guilty of the most heinous crimes against his Maker and he was without a shield. He feared that the fate of his grandfather, who he knew so well, would likewise be his; but a worse fate than Nebuchadnezzar’s hung over his head. The wise men were called, but as they had failed two times before, again they were unable to produce. Then Daniel, now a very old man, was called in. Sure enough, Daniel could read the fateful words clear as day, but he began by reminding Belshazzar of the wicked, forgetful course that he had followed. Then Daniel zeroed in and pointed out the crux of the matter. “But you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, although you knew all this.” Daniel 5:22. Belshazzar knew what he needed to do, but he did it not. He had heard of Daniel, knew his life and words, but he did not follow them. As a result of this awful neglect, he came to his last night on earth unprepared. The mournful denunciation and message was faithfully given. Belshazzar knew it to be true, and “that very night Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans, was slain.” Daniel 5:30. It was Belshazzar’s last night on planet earth. So ended, in frivolous mirth, the life that might have been a mighty power for good in the world.

How is it with you, friend? Are you on the same course that Belshazzar took? There are thousands, even millions, who know what they need to do, but do it not. Like Belshazzar, they rush on through life, unsuccessfully trying to drown the voice of conviction and duty in the vain and empty pleasures of this world. It is still there! Conviction still seizes the soul now and then, but it is brushed aside. There are so many excuses in our world, but you can be lost with a good excuse. The Word of God warns us about making excuses, “so that they are without excuse.” Romans 1:20. Every person is going to be without excuse. Every tongue will be stopped and every head hung low. There are more excuses now than a man can number. Every time that I think I have heard every excuse imaginable, then it is that I hear another one. It is not that people do not know what they need to do; it is that they, for one reason or another, do not want to do it. There is a cross involved in following our Lord all the way, but the cross only makes the crown more enjoyable. “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” Mark 8:36. Millions today are making the worst investment decision of all time. They are purchasing stock in this old, warn out world, instead of placing their hearts and means in the Bank of Heaven. Are you making that mistake? The Lord will not judge you for what you honestly do not know, but for what you knew, and did not do. Are you doing as Belshazzar did? Is the handwriting on the wall staring you straight in the face? Are you rushing to your last night on earth unprepared?

There is only one thing to do in order to be ready for that great day–do what you know you need to do. The Lord is not asking you do to that which you do not know, but that which you do know. “For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have.” II Corinthians 8:12. You are judged for the light that God has been pleased to give you and the use that you have made of that light. Are there new things that you have learned from God’s Word? Are you doing them? Perhaps you see the need to keep all of God’s Law. Maybe there are habits and practices that you desire to overcome. It could be that you know you need to be baptized, but have not made the decision yet. Whatever it is that the Lord is convicting you to do–do it! The Lord is looking for those who are willing to obey Him no matter what the cost or sacrifice. Are you willing to do what the Lord asks of you? God leads and guides us, as we are able to follow. He never asks us to do that which we cannot do. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13. If the Lord asks you to give up your job in order to follow Him, then He will give you the grace to endure. If it becomes necessary to leave friends and family behind, the Lord will amply supply the lack. Whatever the Lord asks of us, He also says, “My grace is sufficient for you.” II Corinthians 12:9. Friend, your last night on earth is coming, too. None know when it will be. It could be tomorrow. It could be tonight. Which path are you on? Will you join the lot of Belshazzar? Or will you do what you know you need to do?

Sodom’s Last Night

“Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed. In that day, he who is on the housetop, let him not come down to take them away. And likewise the one who is in the field, let him not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.” Luke 17:28-33. The last generation will all come to their last night on earth together. As a sudden, overwhelming surprise, it will break upon this world. Men and women will be engaged in their common ordinary pursuits. They will be buying and selling, building and tearing down. Planning for many more years to live out their dreams, but suddenly all their hopes, dreams and plans came to and end. It is their last night on earth.

So when Jesus comes the second time, it will be a sudden surprise to the inhabitants of the world. “For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.” I Thessalonians 5:2, 3. When Jesus comes back it is going to be an overwhelming surprise for the billions of inhabitants of our little world. It, of course, is not to be a surprise to the faithful, for in verse 4 we are told, “But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.” Our last night on earth is not to be a surprise to the faithful, but tragically, many who think that they are prepared for their last night on earth are going to be surprised as was Sodom and Gomorrah, and find out, too late, that they have been duped. “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me you who practice lawlessness!'” Matthew 7:22, 23. Just like Sodom, many are going to come right up to their last night on earth and find out, too late, that they are lost. Then the mournful words will be uttered, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved!” Jeremiah 8:20. There will be no second chances then, for “now is the day of salvation.” II Corinthians 6:2. Probation’s door will close suddenly, unexpectedly, and those who have not made the choice to follow the Lord all the way, will have sealed their doom by completely rejecting Him.

Sodom’s last night does not just show us that our last night on earth will be sudden and unexpected, but it shows the perilous danger of getting caught up in the things of this world. Millions are so busy with the things of the world that they have no thoughts for the things of eternity. They do not do the “wicked” things of the world, as Belshazzar did, but they are consumed by the cares of this life. They ate. They drank. They bought. They sold. They planted. They built. There is nothing wrong with any of these things. Obviously, if a person does not eat, he will die of starvation. If a person does not drink he will dehydrate. The Lord is not saying that it is wrong to do all of these things, but we can become so absorbed with these things that we forget about doing what the Lord asks us to do. “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:34-36.

One of the many faults of the dwellers in Sodom and Gomorrah was that they were weighed down by the cares of this life. Are you weighed down by the cares of this life? How long has it been since you spent some quality time with just you and the Lord? Have you been praying and reading your Bible every day? Or are there so many tasks to do in a day that you rush from here to there, and by the end of the day you are so exhausted all that you can do is fall into bed? Remember that your last night is coming. Do you want to meet your Maker without having spent time with Him that day? Do you want the shadows of your last night to fall without praying to Him? The times in which we live tell that your last night is coming sooner that you think. It is almost here. Are you ready? Have you made your decision to follow Jesus no matter what the cost? Have you decided to follow and obey all that you know to be true? Brother, Sister, time is fleeting away. The longer you wait, the less time you have. Will you make the decision right now, before it is forever too late? Before your last night comes and goes without you being ready?

“Remember Lot’s wife.” Luke 17:32. It is a power packed three-word verse. Remember Lot’s wife. Lot’s wife came to her last night. She was warned that it was coming. She started to move out by faith, but then turned back and there she stood. She could go no more. With that one fatal longing look back, she sealed her destiny. Her last night came, and she stood still as a pillar of salt. Remember this. Remember her. Why? It will be the experience of millions. There are millions, and even billions, of people who profess Christianity. They claim to be Christians. They come out of the world to a certain extent, but they only come halfway. This was the tragic mistake of Lot’s wife. She heard the message to come out, and she hurried out, but that was not enough. She did not come all of the way out. Her heart was still back in Sodom, and her last night found her halfway between destruction and safety, and there she stayed. Do you remember Lot’s wife? Have you taken notice of what happened to her? Have you applied the lesson to your life? The Lord will accept no divided service. We are either completely for Him or totally against Him. “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.” Matthew 12:30. There is no neutrality. You are either totally on one side or the other. All who attempt to go halfway between, will end up as Lot’s wife–lost in the middle. There are many people whom I have met who seem to think that God is not that particular, and that it is all right if we mix a little of the world with the church. There could be nothing further from the truth. If one foot is in the world and one foot is in the church, you will be divided in two. “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62. If you think that you can go to church, study your Bible, and pray, but not keep all of God’s Law and His Word, you are sadly mistaken, just as Lot’s wife was sadly mistaken. She thought because she had come most of the way out of Sodom that everything was fine, but she is lost because she did not come all of the way out of Sodom.

So today, God is calling His people to come ALL of the way out of Babylon. If a person remains in Babylon, or does not come all of the way out of Babylon, he will be lost just as Lot’s wife was. “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.” Revelation 18:4. Have you come all the way out of the Babylon? (Churches that continue to break one or more of the commandments of God’s Law.) God’s people in the last days are those who keep all of God’s Law no matter what the rest of the world does. They are described as, “those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” Revelation 14:12. They are the ones who have right to the tree of life. “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.” Revelation 22:14. They are the ones with whom the devil is enraged. “And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 12:17. Are you willing to keep all of God’s Law no matter what the consequences may be? If not, Remember Lot’s wife. She went halfway, but not all the way, and as a result she is lost. Her last night found her halfway between the Lord and the world, with all its disobedience. Where will your last night find you? It will find billions at this halfway mark. Reader where are you? Please make the decision now to be fully on the Lord’s side, no matter what He asks of you.

The Last Night

There is, perhaps, no better illustration of the last night on earth than Noah’s day. “But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” Matthew 24:37-39. Jesus tells us that as it was in Noah’s day, so it will be when the He returns the second time. Well, what was it like in Noah’s day?

The wickedness had grown to such a level that God’s pure eyes could no longer look upon the evil rampant in the world. “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.” Genesis 6:5, 6. The thoughts of mankind were continually evil. They had no room for God; their minds were bent to wickedness. Today, man lives for around eighty years, but in those days man lived for eight hundred years! Imagine the wickedness that man could dream up with ten times the amount of time on his hands. Habits were formed and the characters were set, and then there were hundreds of years to reveal what was inside the heart, and unfortunately for most, it was evil continually. Does this sound anything like today? Is man’s heart mesmerized with wickedness through television, movies, novels, etc.? If you turn on the television today, there is hardly a show that does not show violence, adultery or some other sin. Indeed man’s heart is evil continually today, as it was then.

As the Lord looked down upon the earth, he saw man, the crowning act of His creative power, so debased that in His mercy He knew that He had to check the rapid growth of wickedness. He knew that the only way that He could save some of mankind was to put a limit on His forbearance and destroy those who refused to repent. “And the Lord said, ‘My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.'” Genesis 6:3. The Lord gave mankind a probation of one hundred and twenty years to turn from their wicked ways. The Scripture records that His Spirit was to strive with man. How the Holy Spirit must have strove. If man did not turn around, he was headed for doom. His last night on earth was coming, and millions were unprepared. How many times men and women heard the voice of duty convicting them of the way they needed to walk, but they refused. The Lord pled and pled, but to no avail. Man was bent on evil, and he would not turn around. Do you hear the Spirit striving on your heart? Do you hear the voice of conscience convicting you of what you need to do? Today, the Lord is pleading with all flesh just as He did in Noah’s day, because once again the last night on earth is coming, and coming soon. Do you hear the still small voice saying, “This is the way, walk ye in it?” Isaiah 30:21. It is the voice of God’s Spirit striving with you. Will you listen? Will you heed that voice? Soon it will be too late. A myriad of people on this earth are refusing to follow today, just as in Noah’s day, and just like Noah’s day, the vast multitudes of planet earth will be lost.

God did not leave the world without a witness then, and He has not left the world without a witness now. “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” Genesis 6:8. There was a least one man in that wicked world whose ways were perfect before the God of heaven. To Noah was given one of the most difficult tasks ever given to a man. He was to stand unmoved for one hundred and twenty long years. God had given him the commission to build a boat for all who desired to be saved, and also to proclaim the message given him by God. “And did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of the eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly,” II Peter 2:5. Noah was not just to be a shipbuilder; his more difficult task was that of being a preacher of righteousness. Noah was to build a boat where all could see, and call all men to come into the boat to be saved. He had a present truth message, “Come into the ark of safety?” All who refused this present truth message would be swept away with the torrents so soon to engulf the world. Noah built and Noah preached. Year after year he swung the hammer and sounded the warning. God would have all who would come to repentance, be saved. “As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.” Ezekiel 33:11. The Lord did not want any to perish in the coming judgment, but in His mercy, He knew it was the only way to save mankind. So He sent a strong message to go to every inhabitant of the world, warning them of what was coming and the way to escape. So today the Lord loves His children and does not desire that any perish, but He knows that the last night is coming and so He sends a message of warning to all. A message that, if accepted, will be a savor of life unto life, but if rejected a savor of death unto death. This stern and startling message that is to be given to all the world today is found in Revelation 14:6-12. “Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth–to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people–saying with a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.’ And another angel followed, saying, ‘Babylon is fallen, is fallen that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.’ Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, ‘If anyone worship the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. And he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.’ Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.”

This last message of mercy is present truth for today, just as the message to come into the ark was present truth for Noah’s day. If we reject this message, we have rejected the only message that will bring salvation in the last days. Our last night on earth will be one of gloom. The Lord longs for all to be saved, but the choice is yours. That is why He has waited this long. “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” II Peter 3:9. Is he waiting for you? Have you heeded this most important message? Are you in God’s ark of safety for the last days, or are you outside hoping to make it in someday? This last message is one that covers all the bases. It begins with the message that we are living in the very last days of this earth’s history, for God’s judgment has come. Since His judgment is here, it is paramount that we are living in obedience to all of the commandments and worshipping the Creator according to His will. If any will be saved they must come out of Babylon, the churches that continue to break God’s holy Law. Those who worship the beast power in any way will be lost. All who heed these messages will be saved, but those who refuse, as did the majority in Noah’s day, will find their last night filled with terror and darkness. God, in His love and mercy, gave the antediluvians a message of warning and so, today, the Lord has given us a message that our eternal destiny hinges upon. Which choice will you make? If you make no decision, you are already counted with the unbelievers, for to not make a decision at all, is to decide against. Will you heed this life and death message?

As I have thought of what Noah’s messages must have been like, I am certain that they were not like the popular sermons you hear in the churches of our land. His was a message distinct from all the other preachers. He had a message from heaven, and an intensity of desire that brought conviction to the hearers. A singular sight that certainly attracted a great deal of attention. With a hammer in one hand and the scrolls of the prophets in the other, he could give a message like thunder that brought his listeners to tears. No doubt he became the laughing stock of the world. Here was an old man spending all his wealth to build a mammoth boat on a hill. What good would a boat up there do? This poor man appeared to have gone insane, but he had a message from the Most High and he knew what he was doing. The scoffing and ridicule that he met must have been almost more than the old man could bear, but he faithfully went about his task whether his friends and colleagues would listen or not. He had a message from heaven, and nothing was going to hinder him from fulfilling his task. This message had to go to the entire world, to warn them of impending doom, and no doubt some accepted the message, but the vast majority would have no such thing. Surely, there were those in the crowds who were convicted that Noah’s message was heaven sent and decided to follow and obey. They had good intentions. They knew what they needed to do, but they thought that they would do it a little later. They had so much going on just then, they couldn’t give up their jobs and their families. When the time got a little closer, then they would heed the call. On they went, planning on heeding the message, desiring to heed the message, but never quite coming to the point of decision. “Later,” they thought, “when it gets more convenient, then I will follow.” But day followed day, and the days turned into weeks which gave way to months, and then year after year rolled on. Still with good intentions, they did not know that their last night was coming. Noah’s urgency began to increase, for he knew the time period was almost over. On they went, thousands, millions, planning on making their decision–later. Then the final signs began to take place. The dumb animals knew that there was no time to delay, but the poor deceived souls went on thinking they still had plenty of time. Finally the time came for Noah to give his last message, and oh, what a message that must have been. With every ounce of energy he had left, he gave that final warning, calling for all to make their decision before it was forever too late. He gave his final appeal. He called and called. He knew that this was the last chance. He knew that their last night on earth had nearly arrived and if they did not make their decision now, it would be forever too late, but none came forward. They had heard that call so many times that it just didn’t have the solemnity that it used to have. They had ignored the voice of conscience so long that there was no response. It barely affected them. “Later,” they still said, but it was too late. When Noah saw that there were none who would heed, he gathered together his family and entered the ark. Probably tears were in his eyes as he thought of his friends, his neighbors, his relatives who had refused the call, but Noah had done his part and he could do no more. The message had been given. He could not force them to be saved. “So those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him; and the Lord shut him in.” Genesis 7:16. As Noah and his sons and their wives were in the ark, that massive door swung shut and probation had closed. Those who were inside the ark were safe, but the millions around the door were lost. They probably beat on the door with all their might, but it would not open to them. They had their chance. They made their decision. They procrastinated until it was too late. Their destiny was set. Their fate was sealed.

Probation’s door is soon to close for you and for me. Are we ready? Have we made our decision? Are we living up to all that the Lord has commanded us to do? Soon the words will rumble through the courts above, “He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still.” Revelation 22:11. As in Noah’s day, soon the door will be shut. Those who are standing fully on the Lord’s side will be pronounced righteous and holy still. All of the attacks of the enemy will no longer have any power over them, for they will be eternally secure, but it will not be so for those who procrastinated. Those who delayed making the decision to follow Jesus all the way will have an entirely different fate. They are unjust and filthy still. No more can they choose to follow the Lord, for they have delayed until it was too late. Which side will you be on? Your last night is coming. Probation’s door is soon to close. Is your title clear? Is your decision made? Have you decided to follow Jesus no matter what the cost? Have you decided to keep all of His commandments, regardless of what the world does? Brother, Sister, your decision will determine your destiny. There were hundreds of thousands in Noah’s day who were good people, who wanted to be saved, but who never left the valley of decision and thus were drowned in the deluge.

Your Last Night

With one gushing swipe, the last night on earth came to millions in Noah’s day, and so it will be again. As it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the coming of the Son of Man. Millions again will experience their last night on earth together, when Jesus returns to execute judgment on the disobedient. Your last night on earth is coming. Believe it or not, like it or not, it is still coming, and coming fast. It is the most solemn time in the history of our planet, for the world is soon to end, and the inhabitants know it not. You know it, what are you going to do about it? You must make a decision. It is the only logical thing to do. If you do it not, your last night might steal upon you as a mammoth surprise.

I was visiting a couple of ladies who had gone all the way through a prophecy seminar that we had held. They had heard the last message, but they hadn’t quite made a decision. They saw that it was true. They knew what the Bible said, but they had not taken the step of faith to fully follow the Lord no matter what. I longed for them to be saved and visited them again. That afternoon we visited and had a pleasant time. There were questions for which they wanted answers, and many other things were discussed. As it came time to go, I appealed to them again to give their hearts to the Lord and to follow Him no matter what. I appealed for them to be ready for their last night on earth. I knew that there were still problems that needed to be worked out, and so we set up Bible studies for the following week; but I still longed for them to make a decision that very afternoon to allow nothing to stand between them and eternity. When I returned the following week, one of the ladies had passed away. She had spent her last night on earth. When I made that appeal for them to be ready for Jesus’ Second Coming, neither I, nor they, knew that her last night was almost here. It was, perhaps, the final appeal that she heard. The last call to follow Jesus no matter what. What about you, friend? If your last night were to be tonight, would you be ready? Do not delay, for delay is from the devil. None of us know how long we have, but we do know that time is running out. Will you make your decision to follow Jesus all the way no matter what? Will you make the decision to follow His Word regardless of what He asks?

Two thousand years ago there was a man who delayed making his decision, and that delay cost him his eternal life. “Now he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, ‘Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.'” Acts 24:25. Felix was convicted of what he needed to do, but he procrastinated. He put it off. He thought that he still had many years to turn around. When it became a little easier, then he would follow Jesus. He had so much going on. He couldn’t give up his kingdom, his honor, his wealth, and his prestige right now. Maybe later. Maybe at a more convenient time, but that more convenient time never came. Felix is a lost man. Not because he never heard, but because he heard and waited. Because he knew what he needed to do, and did it not. He made the tragic mistake of delay. Friend, you cannot delay. Please do not put it off. The time is coming in which it will be too late, and all who want to make a decision will not be able to do so then. It will be forever too late. Their last night on earth will close, and the book of destiny will be shut, nevermore to be opened again. Where will you be? Will you make your decision now?

“Thus says the Lord God: ‘A disaster, a singular disaster; Behold, it has come! An end has come, the end has come!” Ezekiel 7:5, 6. Very soon these words will be said. They are still future right now, for probation’s seconds still linger, but that will not be forever. Imagine the terror of the millions who exclaim, “The end has come!” They knew it was coming. They knew that they needed to make a decision, but they put it off. Now they know that they are lost without an excuse. They know that they waited too long, and now there is no more time left. They are outside the ark awaiting fearful judgment and condemnation. The end is come, the end is come! The last night is here! Oh, where will you be? Will you be among those who cry in abject terror that the end is come and it is too late? Or will you be among those who have made the decision to follow their Lord no matter what the cost and now they are rewarded according to their works? (See Matthew 16:27.) There are two sides and no more. Those who praise the Lord that their last night has come and that eternity has begun, and those who slink in fear and self-condemnation for they know that “the harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved!” Jeremiah 8:20. Which side will you be on? It all depends upon the decision that you make now. If you wait until later, later may never come. What will your decision be? “And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day who you will serve…, But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15.

All emphasis the authors unless otherwise stated.
All texts from the King James Version unless otherwise noted.


  • The Great Controversy, Ellen G. White, 1911.
  • His Mighty Love, Dr. Ralph Larson, Teach Services, 1995.
  • Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Review & Herald Publishing Association, 1979.
  • Your Last Night on Earth, Joe Crews, published by Amazing Facts.
  • World-Wide Bible Lectures, Fordyce W. Detamore.

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Copyright ©1999 by Steps to Life

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