One night in Babylon, King Belshazzar “made a great feast” for his thousand lords (Daniel 5:1). He, his wives and concubines, and these lords drank wine out of temple vessels stolen from Jerusalem as they praised idols of “gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood and stone” (5:4). Suddenly, “the fingers of a man’s hand” wrote on the wall, “Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin. … God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it. … You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting. … Your kingdom has been divided, and given to the Medes and Persians” (5:5, 25-28). That night, Belshazzar was murdered (5:30). Game over.
The story of Babylon’s overthrow by the Medes and Persians is not a unique one. History repeats itself. The 1890s was a period of European decadence. Even America had its “gilded age.” Then came World War I (1914-18), the “war to end all wars.” Nearly 10 million people on both sides died. Another 50 to 100 million people died of Spanish flu (1918-20).
In order to shake out the cobwebs of war and death, Americans decided that they wanted to enjoy themselves. Money flowed in the roaring 20s, as women shortened their hair and dress lines. Prohibition didn’t stop them from getting drunk at speakeasies. Then came the 1929 stock market crashes and the Great Depression. Thirteen million people lost their jobs. Families stood in bread lines, lived in Hoovervilles, hopped trains, or moved west. World War II (1939-45) followed. More than 60 million people lost their lives fighting Hitler, Mussolini, and Emperor Hirohito of Japan.
The world we live in today isn’t much different from ancient Babylon or the 1890s and 1920s. It’s decadence like we’ve never seen before. The money’s still flowing and people just want to enjoy themselves. Abortion, homosexuality, euthanasia, drugs, and free sex are their idea of a ‘good’ time. They don’t know that they’re laughing their way to hell, but the church doesn’t seem to care. People who still publicly hold to the Word are entertaining themselves instead. They’ve abandoned their God-given mission to preach repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.
I keep waiting for another economic depression or world war, anything to wake people up and wipe the laughter off their faces. When poverty and death arrive, they’ll stop laughing. Life and death, heaven and hell – eternity isn’t funny. So I keep waiting for sobriety, for the change.