The Handwriting Is on the Wall
What is ahead for America and other Western nations? History and Bible prophecy hold sobering answers!
Shocking and almost unbelievable changes are taking place in nations that once proclaimed, "In God we trust." In so-called "Christian" America, where President Andrew Jackson once said the Bible was the foundation of the Republic, atheists and secularists regularly win battles to banish prayer and remove the Ten Commandments from public display. Instead of learning the truth about creation and Jesus Christ, public school students can learn about Muhammad, or Shiva, or about how to be a witch! In England, where martyrs once died to uphold their understanding of the Bible, children now learn in grade school how to practice "safe sex," and theologians write about the impending "death" of Christianity in Britain. In Holland—once a nursery of the Protestant Reformation and a sanctuary for Puritans who later came to America—prostitutes, deviant sex and drug parlors are now prominent features in many cities. In Australia, flamboyant parades by homosexuals are among the biggest tourist attractions on the annual social calendar.
Fifty years ago, if you had predicted this would happen in America, Britain, Canada or other Western nations, your credibility and even your sanity would have been questioned, because such ideas would have been unthinkable! Yet, the unthinkable has happened! Judeo-Christian culture is being deliberately undermined and systematically destroyed by social changes that ignore, defy and reject clear biblical teachings. In our brave new world of secular thinking, belief in the God of the Bible, the practice of the Christian religion and the promotion of Christian values have become the objects of ridicule and scorn! Today, practices that once prevailed in the ancient pagan, pre-Christian world—abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, occultism and the worship of nature—have re-emerged to challenge and displace beliefs and values that once defined our Western nations!
While news reports describe and tradition-minded columnists lament what is happening, vitally important questions are almost never addressed: Why are these dramatic changes occurring today? What is the real significance of the shocking transformations occurring in our modern "post-Christian" societies? What lies ahead for nations that once professed Christianity but now reject their heritage? Does history offer any advice about the direction we are heading? Are we really advancing to a new level of existence, or have we turned a blind eye to obvious lessons of history?
Surprising as it may seem today, there are definite answers to these questions. There is a source that reveals the true significance and unsuspected outcome of the sweeping social transformations that are turning the Western world upside down. This often-ridiculed and seldom-cited source is the Bible—and its sobering message is supported and amplified by the record of history. The Bible, unlike any other book, reveals the true cause of human problems and the future course of our history. Correctly understood, the Bible and the record of history have much to teach us—if we have eyes to see—about the surprising outcome of the cultural changes that are rocking Western nations. We need to listen to the warnings of history and Scripture!
The Bible records a remarkable event that occurred in 539bc—one with increasing relevance for us today! Belshazzar, the king of Babylon, held a great feast for one thousand of his nobles. During the festivities, he toasted pagan gods with cups that were taken from the temple in Jerusalem. As the king began to drink, a man's hand appeared and wrote several words on the wall of the palace—terrifying the king! The aged prophet Daniel was summoned to decipher the words—that spelled out the imminent doom of Belshazzar and his kingdom. However, before Daniel revealed the meaning of the words, he informed the drunken king that his arrogant behavior would have dire consequences. The Bible records that on that same night, Babylon fell and the king was killed (Daniel 5).
Greek historians confirm the biblical account. Writing in approximately 450bc, the Greek historian Herodotus described how the Medes and Persians defeated the Babylonians in a battle just north of the city of Babylon. The Babylonians retreated into their supposedly impregnable double-walled city. Confident of their safety, Belshazzar's festivities were held while his enemies were encamped outside the city. The Medes and Persians, recognizing the difficulty of a direct attack on the walls of Babylon, diverted the river that ran through the Babylonian capital, and entered the fortified city at night through the riverbed—while Belshazzar and his nobles were toasting pagan gods with the vessels taken from the temple in Jerusalem. Herodotus does not record the handwriting on the wall, but in his account, the city of Babylon was taken by surprise—and fell suddenly (The Histories, book 1, sections 191–192)!
You might ask, "What does this ancient event have to do with us today?" Discerning minds can draw several important lessons from this historical incident: (1) Pride and arrogance have consequences—Belshazzar despised and defied the God of the Bible—and, as a result, he lost his kingdom and his life. (2) Forgetfulness can be fatal—Belshazzar forgot the lessons his predecessor Nebuchadnezzar had learned—that there is a God in heaven who rules in the affairs of men and brings down those who walk in pride (Daniel 4:34–37). (3) Negligence carries a big cost—Belshazzar ignored the signs of the times—he was not watching when he was surrounded by his enemies—and his city was taken by surprise! (4) When Belshazzar finally saw the handwriting on the wall, it was too late—he had crossed the line; he had reached the end of his rope—and God brought him and his kingdom down!
While critics dismiss these accounts as irrelevant to nations in the 21st century, more astute thinkers offer a different perspective. The Spanish philosopher George Santayana once said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it"—in other words, if we fail to learn the lessons of history, we are bound to repeat the mistakes of history! Social critic Os Guinness put it this way,"A generation that fails to read the signs of the times may be forced to read the writing on the wall" (The American Hour, p. 414). Writing five centuries after the fall of Babylon, the Apostle Paul said these events were important because "all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come" (1 Corinthians 10:11). The Bible clearly reveals that these events were recorded to teach us lessons, so we can avoid making the same mistakes—if we have eyes to see!
But, are there signs of the times today—that are clearly visible—yet are ignored by most? Have the hours spent on Facebook, watching television, or playing video games blinded us to the significance of what is happening around us? Do we recognize the dangers that are threatening our culture and the future of our nations? Are we aware of warnings that are being sounded?
For the last several decades, journalists, teachers, theologians and politicians have been warning about the dangerous drift of once "Christian" nations in the Western world. Yet, like Belshazzar and the people of ancient Babylon, our modern nations have continued down the road that leads toward oblivion and the dust bin of history—because we do not seem to notice or listen to the alarm bells that have been ringing!
In 1988, noted theologian Carl F. H. Henry wrote a book entitled The Twilight of a Great Civilization in which he warned of America's drift toward neo-paganism. He wrote, "The Barbarians are coming and they threaten to undermine the foundations of Western civilization" by promoting a "humanistic rejection of God and the Judeo-Christian foundation of Western culture… the new barbarianism has embraced a new pagan mentality… it proclaims that there is no fixed truth, no final good, no ultimate meaning and purpose, and that the living God is a primitive illusion… it champions mysticism, occult forces and powers, communion with nature and exotic religions… where these pagan impulses hold sway the results are moral and intellectual decay paralleled only by Pompeii and Sodom… Do we Christians clearly see and understand the tragic drift of our culture?" (p. ix). Two decades ago, Henry saw where trends were heading—and he correctly anticipated where we actually are today—but how many listened?
In The Marketing of Evil, journalist David Kupelian relates how radical liberals have taken over the media, the universities, courts and political parties to promote secular values that are corrupting America—teaching that homosexuality is praiseworthy, same-sex marriage is a right, sex in grade school is healthy, marriage is obsolete and that abortion and euthanasia must be made legal in a mature and tolerant society. Although most Americans are adamantly against these social and cultural changes, they are being enforced through the courts in a manner that is dangerously dividing our society. Similar dramatic changes are also occurring in other Western nations (see The Abolition of Britain by Peter Hitchens and The Death of Christian Britain by Callum Brown).
Perhaps the most sobering indictment of the sweeping social changes underway in America and the Western "Christian" world comes from a former German soldier who now lives in the United States as his adopted country. Octogenarian Hilmar von Campe warns in Defeating the Totalitarian Lie (2008) about dangerous parallels between what is happening today in Western nations and what happened in Nazi Germany—and the dire consequences of removing God and Christian values from our culture. He writes, "The Nazi government had excluded God from their consideration. To exclude God and his Commandments from human government is a heresy promoted by the godless in order to gain their own power" (p. 114). He continues, "Nazi philosophy and the Nazi state were built on lies… They were dishonest about who they were… The next lie was that there was no God… that human value was subjective with some people being worth more than others" (pp. 46–47). He sternly advises, "the only sane road for America and humanity is to obey God's Commandments… if you keep God from the political process you invite disaster" (p. 221). He concludes, "Today in America we are witnessing a repeat performance of the tragedy of 1933 when an entire nation let itself be led like a lamb to the Socialist slaughterhouse. This time, the end of freedom is inevitable, unless America rises to her mission and destiny" (p. xvi).
While this sobering "handwriting" has appeared on the wall for several decades, what really does lie ahead for America, Britain, Canada and other Western nations that are rejecting their Christian heritage? What does Bible prophecy reveal?
When God brought the children of Israel out of Egypt, He made them His "chosen people" and gave them His laws to set them apart so they could be a light and an example to the world (Exodus 19:5; Deuteronomy 4:1–10; 7:6–11). The covenant God made with the Israelites included blessings if they would obey His laws, but also serious consequences if they chose to disobey His instructions. God warned that "if you despise My statutes, or if your soul abhors My judgments… I will even appoint terror over you, wasting disease.… those who hate you shall reign over you… I will break the pride of your power.… I will lay your cities waste.… I will scatter you among the nations and draw out a sword after you" (Leviticus 26:14–33). All these things happened to the ancient Israelites when they turned away from the God who had delivered them from slavery in Egypt. Yet, that same God still exists and He has not changed (Malachi 3:6)!
Moses also wrote about the future descendants of the Israelites—who now dwell in northwestern Europe, the British Isles, Scandinavia, South Africa, North America, Australia, New Zealand—and the modern state of Israel (see our free booklet The United States and Great Britain in Prophecy). Moses prophesied, "I know that after my death you will become utterly corrupt, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you. And evil will befall you in the latter days, because you will do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger through the work of your hands" (Deuteronomy 31:29)—a sobering description of our condition today!
The prophet Hosea recorded a similar warning, that God shall come against His own people. "He shall come like an eagle against the house of the Lord, because they have transgressed My covenant and rebelled against My law.… they set up kings, but not by Me… they made idols for themselves… They sow the wind, and reap the whirlwind… I have written for him the great things of My law, but they were considered a strange thing.… For Israel has forgotten his Maker… I will send fire upon his cities, and it shall devour his palaces" (Hosea 8:1–14).
The prophet Isaiah also warned the Israelites, "they have rebelled against Me.… They have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked to anger the Holy One of Israel… The whole head is sick.… Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom… you people of Gomorrah.… As for My people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O My people! Those who lead you cause you to err, and destroy the way of your paths.… Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil" (Isaiah 1:2–10; 3:12; 5:20). Today, it is the leaders in the Western "Christian" world who are watering down Judeo-Christian values and pushing the acceptance of homosexual activity and same-sex marriage—just as Isaiah prophesied!
The prophet Jeremiah warned, "Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture… they prophesied by Baal and caused My people Israel to err… they commit adultery and walk in lies; they also strengthen the hands of evildoers" (Jeremiah 23). Jeremiah foretold a future time of "Jacob's trouble" (referring to all the descendants of the Israelites) when they would be scattered into captivity in other nations "because your sins have increased" (Jeremiah 30:15). In both of these prophecies, Jeremiah indicated that "in the latter days you will understand it perfectly" (Jeremiah 23:20; 30:24). In other words, at the end of the age, just before the return of Jesus Christ, all these prophecies will begin to make sense! Perhaps this is why, in 1782, Thomas Jefferson wrote, "I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever" (Notes on Virginia, Query XVIII). The Roman philosopher Seneca—a first century contemporary of Jesus Christ—made a similar observation: "The time will come when our successors will wonder how we could have been ignorant of things so obvious."
America, and the once "Christian" nations of the Western world are playing with fire by turning away from God and the Christian principles upon which our nations were founded. While modern progressive leaders seek to replace divinely inspired biblical values with secular humanist creeds, Bible prophecies and the record of history clearly indicate that this vain and foolish attempt to construct an alternative culture on humanly conceived values will end as a dismal failure—brought down by the same God who inspired the handwriting on the wall that spelled out Belshazzar's doom and the downfall of ancient Babylon! Today, the handwriting is on the wall again—this time for the so-called "Christian" nations of the Western world. Are we watching? Are we listening? Will we heed the warnings? Will we turn back to God, before it is too late?