Rabbi’s Reflections – Sunday, October 10, 2021
“Mene, Mene, Tekel, Uparsin.” by Dr. Raymond Finney
INTRODUCTION: I discussed abortion with respect to Texas’ Heartbeat Law in the last two Sunday RRs. As I wrote the second RR, I kept thinking of a message given to Babylon’s King Belshazzar, as recorded in the fifth chapter of Daniel (which I summarize in the next section).
A TERRIFYING MESSAGE FROM GOD: While the Israelites were in captivity in Babylon, King Belshazzar hosted a feast for one-thousand nobles. While drinking wine, he ordered the gold and silver vessels, which had been stolen from the First Jewish Temple in Jerusalem by his father King Nebuchadnezzar, to be brought out for the nobles’ debauchery. While drinking from these consecrated Temple vessels, they praised (worshiped) their Babylonian gods and goddesses.
A message was supernaturally written on the banquet hall wall to be seen by Belshazzar (Daniel 5:5-6): At that very moment, the fingers of a human hand emerged and wrote on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace opposite the lampstand, so that the king could see the back of the hand that was writing. The color drained from the king’s face, his thoughts alarmed him, his hips gave way and his knees began knocking together.
No wise man in Belshazzar’s court could interpret the message. Belshazzar’s queen asked that Daniel be summoned to read the message. Daniel explained that Nebuchadnezzar had developed a special relationship with Adonai, but Belshazzar had not. Belshazzar had not humbled himself before Adonai.
Daniel, explained that the message, written in Aramaic, was from God. He interpreted its meaning (Daniel 5:25-28): “Now this is the writing that was inscribed: MENE, MENE, TEKEL UPARSIN. This is the interpretation of the inscription: MENE: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end. TEKEL: You have been weighed in the balances and found wanting. PERES: Your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”
SIDELIGHT: I do not read Aramaic. I do not know why Uparsin (Upharsin) occurs in the text (Daniel 5:25), but Peres is the word translated (Daniel 5:28). It appears that both words have similar meanings. END sidelight.
The prophecy was immediately fulfilled. That evening, Belshazzar was slain and Babylon was divided among the Medes and Persians.
IS THERE A PARALLEL BETWEEN ANCIENT BABYLON AND MODERN AMERICA? God gives Biblical examples by which we should live. What happened in the past may happen in the future.
More specifically, what happened to King Belshazzar’s Babylonian Empire may happen to America. God found Babylon so reprehensible that He destroyed that nation from independent existence and gave it to Medo-Persia.
God may be ready to say to America: “MENE: I have numbered the days of your republic and am bringing it to an end. TEKEL: I have weighed your nation in the balances and found you wanting. PERES (UPARSIN): America will be divided and given to [China? Russia? Other?].”
Many Americans might scoff at this idea, and say: “But, America is a Godly nation. America has churches on nearly every street corner. America gives foreign aid to hundreds of millions of people. America’s president is a devout Catholic.” And so forth.
Yeshua taught a principle that applies not only to people but also, surely, to nations (Luke 12:48b): [Yeshua said] ”… From everyone given much, much will be required; and from the one for whom more is provided, all the more they will ask of him.”
In regard to this principle of living, God has poured out tremendous blessings, wealth, resources, and favors on America. He expects more from America than, say, from such less fortunate nations as Bangladesh, Haiti, or other impoverished third-world nations. Following are just a few examples how America has not repaid (honored) Father God in meaningful ways and with love and respect, but has acted shamefully:
● Example 1. Americans kill nearly a million of our unborn babies each year. We call it “abortion” or “pregnancy termination,” but it surely grieves the Almighty Creator that we think so little of our children– children made in His image– as a heritage from the Lord, or fail to recognize the absolute miracle of reproduction, or do not heed His Holy Word that we throw their dismembered little bodies in red trash bags to be disposed of as medical waste in an incinerator. Since I devoted the RRs for the past two Sundays on this topic, I will not repeat representative Scriptures in this RR.
● Example 2. Americans have greatly weakened the family. Modern Americans readily practice divorce. Although the divorce rate is declining slightly in America, about one in four marriages ends in divorce. Marriage is a God-given sacrament (see below).
Yeshua taught about divorce in Matthew 19:3-12, which I summarize: God created both man and woman. The man shall leave his parents to be joined with his wife, the two becoming one flesh with each other. He warned, what God joined as one should not be separated by any person. Because of man’s “hardness of heart” (which I would interpret as “sin”), Moses permitted divorce. But, Yeshua added a stern warning (Matthew 19:9): “Now I tell you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”
Many Americans do not take marriage seriously enough, flitting in and out of marriages like teenagers arranging dates for the prom. My wife and I will celebrate our sixtieth wedding anniversary in December. During these years, I never had a single moment I considered divorce.
Divorce often leads to broken families and broken children. According to the Pew Research Center, America has the highest rate (23 per cent) of children living in a single-parent home in the entire world. American children are also much less likely to live in extended-family homes, failing benefit from grandparents and other adult role models: see U.S. has world’s highest rate of children living in single-parent households | Pew Research Center .
● Example 3. Further weakening the family, Americans are confused about gender. God created two genders– male and female (Genesis 5:1-2): … When God created Adam, in the likeness of God He made him. Male and female He created them, and He blessed them and called their name “Adam” when He created them. [Adam– Hebrew אָדָם , pronounced aw-dam’ – is translated “Man.”] Yeshua reiterated God’s plan of creation (Matthew 19:4): [Yeshua said] “Haven’t you read?” He [Yeshua] answered. “He [Elohim, God] who created them [humans] from the beginning ‘made them male and female’….”
God said that one man and one woman should unite to form a family (Genesis 2:24): This is why a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife; and they become one flesh.
God did not say two men form a family or two women form a family. America now accepts, culturally and by law, any combination of people as a family, and anyone who disagrees is a “homophobe.”
SIDELIGHT: “Homophobe” contains two word fragments– homo- (sameness) and -phobe (one who has a pathological fear of…). It is inappropriately used by most people. Many may disagree with the homosexual life style because it degrades societal relationships and defies God’s Word, but they do not have a “pathological fear” of “sameness” ie. homosexuals.
The Apostle Paul warned against homosexuality (Romans 1:24, 26-27): Therefore God gave them over in the evil desires of their hearts to impurity, to dishonor their bodies with one another. |…| For this reason God gave them up to shameful passions. Even their women exchanged natural relations for what is against nature. Likewise the men abandoned natural relations with women and were burning with passion toward one another– men committing shameful acts with other men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. END sidelight.]
Elohim created two genders– male and female. Yeshua confirmed this plan of creation. In our “infinite wisdom,” mankind (excuse me, personhood) has defined at least sixty-four (64) genders. See: What Are the Different Genders? 64 Terms for Identity and Expression (healthline.com) . I read this list. Even though I am eighty years old, married for sixty years, father of four children, and a practicing physician for thirty-five years, I do not understand most of these terms. Who has time to think up this junk?
Incidentally, read opinions posted on the Internet whether the title “queer,” used to describe a homosexual, is acceptable or unacceptable. (It depends on intention and context, or something like that.) END sidelight.
When we deviate from God’s plan for our bodies, for marriage, and for the basic foundation for the home, we surely sin against God.
● Other examples. I made a list of a number of other examples I intended to discuss in this RR, but I have run out of space. You know how the American government and the American people have sinned against God, and it would mean little for me to recount them.
SIN IN GOD’S EYES AND OUR EYES: We judge America’s sins by our human standards, because we are uncertain of God’s standards (Isaiah 55:8-9): [Adonai said] “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways…. For as the heavens are higher than earth so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
● At least in ancient times, a nation was punished for the sins of its leader (2 Kings 24:3). Wow! America may already be doomed, if that standard still applies! Do the three Branches of our government act in a Godly manner? Would Yeshua talk to American presidents, to senators and representatives, and to Supreme Court justices, and say, “‘Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:23)?
● The Babylonian Exile has been mentioned previously. The Israelites were severely punished– many taken into slavery in Babylon, the First Temple destroyed, the nation’s wealth stolen, and Jerusalem destroyed– because the farmers failed to observe the Sabbath year (shmita) for seventy consecutive shavuot (2 Chronicles 36:21, Leviticus 26:34). In God’s plan for use and stewardship of the land, crops were to be raised for six years, but during the seventh year (the shmita), a Sabbath rest was demanded and the land must lie fallow. (Incidentally, this year– 2021-2022– is is a shmita.)
In the twenty-fifth chapter of Leviticus, Adonai promised better crops for those who followed this practice, explaining that it was a test of faith to avoid the more profitable temptation of planting seven of every seven years. Even so, many ancient farmers did not follow Adonai’s instructions, obviously thinking: “Of every shavuot (seven years), I will earn more by reaping seven crops, rather than six crops.”
Jeremiah prophesied seventy years of enslavement by the Babylonians because farmers of Judah had not followed the shmita for seventy cycles, or shavuot (Jeremiah 25:1-13). Daniel, aware of this prophecy and its impending end, prayed about his people toward the end of the seventy years’ enslavement (Daniel 9:1-19).
To me, failure to observe seventy shmitas seems fairly minor and more of a violation of good agricultural practices. To Adonai, however, this was a major sin to be punished in a most extreme manner. I started this RR by listing some of America’s sins against Adonai. Some seem worse to me, but Adonai is our Ruler and Judge. Will He find one or more of America’s sins worthy of extreme punishment? Will He rule that one or more of America’s many sins is worthy of destruction of the entire nation?
I had intended to discuss the many ways America is on the brink of destruction, but I do not have space in this RR. Another RR, maybe? Suffice it to say that America is poised to be destroyed by many different ways. Do we have a willing, competent federal government that can protect our people?
SIDELIGHT (several paragraphs): A probably meaningless, but interesting, exercise was created in 1947 by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. This exercise, emphasizing global catastrophe due to nuclear warfare, was called “The Doomsday Clock.” The time (“minutes to midnight” – midnight = global disaster) was set in 1947 at seven minutes to midnight. Every year, the time may be adjusted, depending on what the panel of scientists believes is the global danger status. The last time the clock was adjusted (2020, extending into 2021), the time was set at 100 seconds to midnight.
Another global risk assessment is the CENTCOM Defcon warning system. This system is now at a warning level of 4 (out of 5). This level was raised on September 24, 2021, prompted by China’s informing Australia that they have become a nuclear war target due to an Australian pact with the United States and United Kingdom; and, after a senior Chinese diplomat stated that China should abandon its “no use first nuclear policy.”
The Chinese Communist Party is the enemy of all free peoples, including Americans. Whenever you purchase anything labeled “Made in China,” you are contributing to the Chinese Communist’s war chest. Linda and I try never to purchase any China-made product, but it is virtually impossible to avoid their junk. Have you recently seen aerial photographs of the many dozens of Chinese cargo vessels lined up along the California coast waiting to off-load merchandise to sell to Americans (and to fund the military that will some day kill us)? The Revelation prophesies a 200-million man army of the “Kings of the East” marching to the west to confront the Antichrist and others at Armageddon.
The world is a very dangerous place to live. Believers who have read the Bible, including the Revelation, should already know this. END sidelight.
DOES IT REALLY MATTER? Man (governments or citizens) will not at this point save us. Our salvation comes only through God. God’s mercy and love are nearly boundless, but there seems to come a point when He no longer contends with our rebellion, sin, and ingratitude (Genesis 6:3; Isaiah 57:16; Jeremiah, chapter 2).
I love America. I consider myself patriotic. I suspect nearly every reader of this RR loves America and considers him-/ her-self a patriot. Most (all?) readers are alarmed at what is happening to our great nation, but feels helpless to change things for the better.
Throughout history, all governments, empires, and republics have collapsed. America will be no exception.
There is wonderful news, though. A Believer is not a citizen of America. What happens to America is but a fleeting moment in the timeline of eternity. A Believer is a citizen of Heaven (New Jerusalem). A Believer’s eternal home in this glorious Paradise is not affected by Democrats or Republicans.
Read the Bible, including the Revelation (chapters 21 and 22). A resident of New Jerusalem will never read, “Mene, Mene, Tekel, Uparsin.” As we live in our eternal home, we will never disappoint God; our home will never be divided; and our home will never be given to anyone else. We are forever victorious and secure! Shalom and Maranatha.
Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
Sun 10-Oct-2021 4th of Chesvan, 5782
Ge 12:1-13 Jos 11 Ps 11 Mt 9 (1 Pet 5)