By John Hames
"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." Daniel 5:26, 27.
If I were an artist I would like very much to paint at least one picture - a midnight scene in the Bible. I would paint Babylon with her swinging gardens, one of the seven wonders of the world, with her walls and towers three hundred and fifty feet high and wide enough at the top for four chariots to run races abreast. Inside of those towering walls I would paint a palace with all its beauty and grandeur, with King Belshazzar in his banqueting room, seated high on his throne and surrounded by a thousand of his lords and his wives.
At midnight this banquet had reached its climax. The musicians were there, and as the music grew louder and louder the drunken women with muttering tongues danced wildly, and bowed to a golden idol set up in the palace. More wine was brought in and they drank to the health of their gods.
With his brain crazed, a daredevil spirit took possession of Belshazzar. He whispered something to one of his servants nearby, who immediately went out and soon returned, bearing in his arms the golden and silver vessels taken from the house of God. When Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem and ransacked the temple for treasure, he brought those golden, consecrated vessels back with him. Here was a drunken king now drinking wine out of them, and bowing to the golden idol in the palace.
In the midst of this revelry, a strange scene appeared in the palace room. We read, "In the same hour came forth the fingers of a man's hand, and wrote over against the candlesticks upon the plaster of the wall of the king's palace." Wine glasses were dropping from trembling hands as an awful hush and a deathlike stillness settled over everyone. Belshazzar was nearly frozen stiff with fear. We read further: "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 the other. The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and soothsayers." "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." Why couldn't they read it? Because it was God's handwriting, and it takes a spiritual mind to discern spiritual things. It is not for lack of learning that men cannot get the interpretation of God's message today, but it is for lack of a Divinely quickened organ, the intuitive nature and an illuminated mind that men don't know the things of God.
Just at this moment of excitement the queen walks into the palace and takes in the situation and says, "O King, live forever: let not thy thoughts trouble thee, nor let thy countenance be changed." And she began to talk to him about Daniel, of how light and understanding was given him to interpret hard things. And we are told, "Then was Daniel brought in before the king."
I like Daniel because early in his life he took a definite stand for God and purposed in his heart that he would not go against his God-given convictions. Now he is nearly eighty years old, but the light of heaven still burns and shines in his eyes. And the king said unto him, "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." But listen to Daniel's reply: "Then 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." In other words, you couldn't buy Daniel. I like a man you can't scare by threats nor spoil through flattery. Daniel had experienced both and yet remained true to God.
Now that brings me up to my text, "And 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." Now, the twenty-seventh verse we will take for a text: "Tekel; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting."
There is a pair of balances in the Patent Office in Washington, D. C., that are so accurate that they will weigh a small piece of tissue paper; then you can write your name and address with a pencil on the paper, and it will weigh the amount of lead on it. God has scales or balances on which He can weigh our very innermost thoughts, motives and secret intents of our heart.
There must be weights with balances in order to get correct weight. God has several kinds of weights by which He is going to weigh us. First among a number I shall mention are the Ten Commandments. God has not changed in His attitude toward sin since He thundered His laws from Sinai. Let us take two or three of those commandments and notice their spiritual significance. Since we are not, strictly speaking, under law, we are going to be judged by the spiritual meaning of the law as well as the letter of it.
"Thou shalt not steal." Of course the literal meaning of that would be to take a fellow's money, or property. But what is money compared to reputation, character, or a good name? The wayside bandit who holds me up and relieves me of my purse is not any not any worse than the man or woman who through malice or jealousy tries to besmear and injure my good name. Of the two persons, the highwayman who holds me up for money, but leaves my character unbesmeared, has done me the least injury. In Leviticus 19:16, we read, "Thou shall not go up and down as a talebearer among my people." This is just as clear, as definite and as positive as 'thou shalt not steal.' We hear a lot about restitution in some revivals, but it consists mostly of restoring money which has been taken wrongly, but whoever heard of anyone carrying back part of a fellow's reputation they had whacked off with their sharp tongues. Come on now, in the sight of God, the man who in any way by backbiting or talebearing steals my reputation or name is just as much a thief in God's sight as he who slips into my bedroom and steals my purse while I am asleep.
For fourteen years Joseph was though to be guilty of a horrible sin - all because of a slanderous tongue. The truth came out one day, and he leaped from a dungeon to prime minister of Egypt over night. But this is not true in all cases. Time is not long enough to bring out the evidence. The Judgment Day will bring out all the facts.
Rev. Gipsy Smith tells about a woman in London who through a slanderous tongue drove a young minister from the pulpit in disgrace. It went to court after court, but she won out each time over the innocent party. This woman attended a revival conducted by Rev. Smith. She got under awful conviction, and would cry and ring her hands, but got no relief. She came to the evangelist and told her story, and said, "That preacher I ruined is just as innocent as you are. What must I do to get saved?" He told her, "Just as publicly as you have injured him, just so publicly will you have to confess it, and do all in your power to undo it." She went before the same courts in which the young minister had been tried, and confessed it and had her confession published in all the leading papers. Oh, how I wish we would have an old-time revival like that over in this country of ours. You would not only see money changing hands, but wrongs would be made right and clouds lifted from innocent lives.
Take another commandment, "Thou shalt not kill." The literal meaning would be to stab, shoot or poison a person, to take life. But John tells us in his epistle that "he that hateth his brother is a murderer." So you see hatred, malice, and nursing old sores of ill will are murder in the sight of God. You may wonder why your prayers are unanswered, and your sickness not healed. Perhaps deep down in your heart you have never really forgiven someone. Remember, there are two unpardonable sins - unbelief and malice.
Take another commandment: "Thou shalt not commit adultery." Jesus gave us the spiritual significance in His sermon on the mount. Listen to it, "But I say unto you that whosoever looketh upon a woman to lust after her had committed adultery with her already in his heart." The eye is an index to the soul. If you could read character, young lady, like God sees things, when you get into the presence of some folks, you would scream.
Peter speaks of a certain class "whose eyes are full of adultery." Those unclean, beastly eyes seem to bulge out of their sockets. You can stand on the street corner most any day, and let a beautiful, well made young lady pass by, and you will see scores of unclean eyes gazing after her. But there is another side to this. Dr. Adam Clarke, the prince of commentators, said if a woman dresses in a way to cause men to lust after her, she, too, has committed the sin in her heart. Great God, what do our women and girls of today mean? Young woman, you ought to live and dress in such a pure, clean and modest way that you wouldn't make it hard for men to live right around you. God has a remedy for all this. I am glad the sanctifying blood can cleanse you so completely until you are proof against the lust of this age. Amen.
Another weight which we will be weighed by is Light. Now, light does not come to condemn us, but to enrich us. Light from God means fresh obligations and more sacrifice. You may have to have an old-time idol smashing if you keep step with the Holy Ghost, but it pays. While light comes directly from the Holy Spirit and is called the "Spirit of illumination and revelation," it also comes to us by the inspired Word, and through God's servants. I went for years before I got light on tithing, but as soon as I heard a sermon on it I walked right in the light. Years ago when I first got saved, we thought nothing of church members using tobacco, even preachers weren't questioned when they smoked their big, fat cigars, but in this enlightened age, since science has shown the effect of tobacco on the heart and brain, how anyone can defile the body with the poisonous nicotine and keep justified is a question.
I am going a step further, in this age of distress and suffering, with missionaries being called from the fields for the lack of funds, and so-called holiness women going around with enough diamonds and jewelry on their person to support several missionaries is more than I can understand. The only way to get cleansing blood and retain it is to walk in the light.
Still another weight with which God is going to weigh us is conscience. You can stab, sear, stifle and murder conscience. Every sin you commit is a direct stab against conscience. You take the people that don't want to walk in the light - in order to keep conscience from checking them, they stab and sear it until its voice is hushed for a while, but it is going to awake some day to testify against us.
Another weight with which we will be weighed is influence. You will never know until you get to the judgment what a tremendous thing influence is. Someone said after Bob Ingersoll, the noted, blaspheming infidel was dead, "I guess old Bob has got his reward now. I said, "Never, not until time is no more and the last lecture Bob Ingersoll gave against God and the Bible has run its course and those he made infidels turn preacher and go out and make other infidels, not until that benighted crowd of damned spirits stand before God to be weighed and found wanting, will Bob Ingersoll know what his influence has done."
They may bury your lifeless form from your friends and loved ones, but there is one thing they will never bury, and that is the words you have spoken and the life you have lived.
Your very look either blights or blesses. There is an unseen power and atmosphere which proceeds from each one of us. How we need our very words seasoned with the law of kindness, and our whole being dissolved in Divine love, and there would go out from our lives a subtle fire and influence, which would start, and put in motion principles which would be felt to the ends of the earth.
One more weight by which we all are going to be weighed is opportunity. Opportunities are like Abraham's angels which are on the go, and unless we go forth to meet them and embrace them and constrain them to abide with us, they will pass on to meet us at the Judgment. Opportunities always come to enrich us. If asked to define opportunity, I would say it is a convenient season to get right with God. Revivals are God's special opportunities to get right with Him. In revivals, the Spirit is very active, the saints are praying, and heaven is stirred. Then is our time to step in while the waters are being troubled. Some one has said that a golden opportunity knocks at every man's door once in life, and if he only knew it, he could, by taking advantage of it become independently rich. I am not sure of this, but I do know that a golden opportunity knocks at every man's and woman's heart door at least once in life, and if they only knew it, their eternal destiny may depend upon how they treat this special, God-given, heaven-sent opportunity. I believe there comes a time in every life, when the Holy Ghost says it is now or never.
The greater the opportunity, when it is slighted, the greater the regret will be. This is illustrated in the life of Esau when he sold his birthright in order to merely gratify his fleshly appetite. When he saw his mistake he sought the forfeited blessing with bitter weeping but all his weeping did not bring back the slighted opportunity.
Look at this picture: After the resurrection Jesus walked with two of His disciples and talked with them, as they journeyed, yet they did not recognize Him, and when they came to the village we are told, "He made as though he would go further." "But they constrained him, saying, 'abide with us', and their eyes were opened and they knew Him." Had they not invited Him to abide with them, who knows but what they would have missed the opportunity that day of having the Christ of God to dine with them.
Say, He is passing by tonight in the form of the Holy Ghost. Will you constrain Him to abide with you just now? If you say "no" He may depart.