Billy Graham Sermon: Is the Handwriting on the Wall, America? (Transcript)

Read the transcript of Billy Graham’s sermon titled “Is the Handwriting on the Wall, America?” which was preached in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1973.

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Billy Graham – Evangelist

Going to ask that we bow our heads in prayer. Many of you have come from a long distance to be here. To many of you, this is your first time in the arena this week.

And you’ve heard and read in the press all the great and wonderful things that have been happening here. And a friend asks you to come and you’ve come. Or maybe you made your plans months ago to be here at this particular service.

Or God knows all about you. He knows your heart. He knows your intents and your thoughts and your mind. And He can meet your need, whoever you are. And whatever you need.

You need sin forgiven… He gave His Son to die on the cross for that purpose.

Problem solved. He said, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

You that are tired and weary and sick, He’ll meet your need.

Our Father, we pray today that the people that have come here with great spiritual and moral needs may find the answer in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, for we ask it in His name. Amen.

To you that are watching by television, we’re in the St. Louis arena, as you know, in St. Louis, Missouri. And this arena has been filled to capacity every single service. And many of the services we’ve started 15 minutes and even today a half an hour early because the arena is already filled that far in advance.

And one of the great problems we have faced here in St. Louis is that it has not been large enough. And yet this arena is larger than Madison Square Garden in New York City. And this has been a tremendous outpouring of people in this period. And we have seen God do great and mighty things as hundreds of people every night have come to make a commitment to Jesus Christ.

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Now, today I want you to turn with me to the 5th chapter of the Book of Daniel. The Book of Daniel. The fifth chapter of the Book of Daniel.

I suppose more than any other book in the Bible, this book predicts the future, unless it’s the Book of Revelation. And when you read the Book of Revelation, always read the Book of Daniel. The Book of Daniel in one hand, the Book of Revelation in the other. And then in front of you the daily newspaper. And they all tie in, because Daniel is a book of prophecy.

But the thing that I want to talk about Daniel today is an incident that happened in his life that I think bears on what we see happening today in our world.

Some time ago, if you remember, about two years ago now, the Shah of Iran gave a great party. The Vice President of the United States went. Barbara Walters went. Many distinguished Americans went to that great party celebrating 2500 years of the history of Iran, or Persia.

And it was my privilege just a year ago this month to visit with the Shah of Iran in his palace in Tehran. And I reminded the Shah that the first prime minister of ancient Persia was Daniel, because Daniel was the first prime minister when the Medo-Persians came in and took over in this particular chapter, the 5th chapter.

Then you move to the 6th chapter of Daniel and you find Darius making Daniel his first prime minister. And that is a tremendous tie in with what is happening in the Middle East and in the world today and all the concentration of forces that are gathered there.

And in this chapter that we’re turning to, I won’t take time to read it to you. I’ll tell it to you.

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It’s the story of Daniel already in Babylon. He’d been carried to Babylon from Jerusalem. Jerusalem had come under the judgment of God, as Jeremiah had predicted. All the judgments that Jeremiah predicted, all the judgments that the prophets predicted have all come true or they’re yet to come true.

This is God’s Word. It is an infallible Word. And in many places in the Scripture, the Bible predicts that future day of judgment and that future period of judgment that is to come upon the world.

Well, Jerusalem had been judged as Jeremiah had predicted. He said, “Unless Jerusalem repents of their sins, they will be judged.” And judgment came.

And among those that were carried captive away by Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon, 1500 miles away, was young Daniel and his friends. They were just in their teens, and they were carried over to Babylon.

And Daniel had been one of the young men that had been chosen especially by Nebuchadnezzar, to be taken to Babylon and trained in his court and trained in all the arts and sciences of the Babylonians.

Now, when this chapter opens, Nebuchadnezzar is dead. Daniel had been a friend and a prophet and a prime minister for Nebuchadnezzar, the great king. But now he’s more or less been forgotten because a young man is now on the throne by the name of Belshazzar, who was the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar, the great king.

Now, Babylon at that time was the greatest empire in the world. It was the most powerful nation in the world. It was the richest nation in the world.

And the Bible pictures Belshazzar the king as young, rich, powerful, but at the same time egotistical, self-centered. And the Bible teaches that God hates pride. He loves humility. All the way through the Scriptures, pride is listed as one of the greatest of all sins.

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The Scripture says in Proverbs 17:19, “and he that exalteth his gate seeketh destruction.”

Obadiah 4: “Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, I will bring you down”, saith the LORD.

Now, Belshazzar was young, egotistical, filled with pride and filled with his own self-importance. And Jesus was to say years later in Matthew 23:12, “And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased.”

If you try to tell how great you are and leave God out, or if you act as though you can solve your own problems and arrange your own life without the help of God, God says, I’m going to bring you down.

And I would like to say that to the leaders of our world: you that are leaders of our world that do not give God the glory and do not put your trust totally in Him and think that you can solve the problems yourself, you’re going to come down according to the Scriptures.

And the Scripture is very clear about it. “Whosoever shall exalt himself shall be brought down”, said Jesus, Matthew 23:12.

And then he was a man that was very carefree. He was a playboy. He loved ease and he loved pleasure. And the Bible says, “Woe to them that are at ease.” (Amos 6:1)

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