feast: Handwriting on the Wall (2020)
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Given 02-Oct-20; 51 minutes
You are all no doubt aware that America's cities, especially those in what are called blue states—that is, democrat dominated liberal power centers—are burning. Rioters, otherwise known as “peaceful protesters,” are marching through the streets, looting businesses, burning cars and buildings, clashing with police, and intimidating everyone into repeating their chanted slogans. Whether that is, “black lives matter,” or, “say her name,” or, “I can't breathe,” “No justice, no peace,” “defund the police,” “Silence is betrayal,” “truth, justice, equality,” and they go on and on. There are a lot of those slogans. Of course, you would have to be deaf and blind to be unaware of the rioting that is happening across our country.
Insurance companies say that the riot damage will soon exceed, if has not exceeded already, the damages from those of LA’s Rodney King riots many years ago that caused $1.4 billion in damages to Los Angeles. And, as each night of riotous destruction passes, the total goes up. The figure is just for urban damage from claims that the insurance companies have already gotten, and it is not including all of those things like the arson that was in the Pacific Northwest, or any of the more less well-known destruction out in the countryside.
The price is surely higher than $1.4 billion, which is why the cities and states are crying to the federal government for money. So far, the federal government has stood fairly solid against giving them. It is like, “Well, you have a police force. Why didn’t you put them out there and protect your city?”
The figure does not include the butcher's bill—the lives lost on both sides of the rioting—both police and the rioters. As of about two weeks ago, 47 people have died. That figure has not been put out there very much. I had to do a bit of digging to find it, and I think it is actually probably a little low. (It is kind of like the very opposite of COVID deaths; you die from tripping, and you are called a COVID death.)
Now, revolutions and revolutionaries are made, not born. The historical revolutions of centuries past did not begin with farmers, and ranchers, and blacksmiths on the frontier, but the revolutions began in the universities, and the drawing rooms, and salons of intellectuals. Revolutionaries’ thinking is formed by his education and his experiences, and by the friends that he has or wants to cultivate.
Maybe you have seen Les Misérables, either the movie, or maybe the stage production. The revolution pictured in Les Misérables was a student-led revolt against the oppressive French government of the time.
The American Revolution, the French Revolution, the Spanish Revolution, the Russian Revolution, and the Chinese Communist Revolution followed this same pattern. Usually it was the intellectuals that taught the students, and the students went out and put it into practice—and they rioted, and rebelled.
The intellectuals—the teachers—propounded to them new ways of government. And it instilled in their students—their protégés as they called them—Messianic hopes. They promised revenge on the people's oppressors, and utopia under the new regime, which, of course, they intended fully to be in charge of.
Now, the American Revolution was the most benign and successful of all these European/American revolutions. (Maybe I should just say recent revolutions.) The American Revolution’s peace was a testament to the men who led the colonies to independence from Great Britain. It arose out of enlightenment philosophy and a very deep knowledge of classical literature and systems, combined with a mostly Christian morality. So, it was a nice meeting of all these different ideas, especially the Christian morality at the end that made the revolution what it was.
The product was what we call constitutional America or the constitutional American Republic, with its separation of powers and emphasis on freedom, opportunity, and the rule of law. So, the good philosophic soil that it came out of produced a fruitful plant, if you will. And we have been now running “this experiment” for 244 years, or whatever it happens to be.
The French Revolution soil, though, was fouled with envy and revenge, and it led to something called “Madame Guillotine,” and the reign of terror, and later to the despotism of Napoleon. Even worse, the Russian or Bolshevik Revolution and the Communist Revolution in China led to appalling death tolls.
A man named Rudolph Rummel, a demographer of governmental mass murder (How would you like that on your business card?) estimated the human death toll of 20th century socialism to be about 61 million in Russia (Soviet Union), 78 million in Communist Red China, and about 200 million worldwide. These are the results of the Communist Socialist revolutions during that time, from basically the early 20th century, all the way up through the mid-century, and then beyond as copycat nations followed what the Chinese did.
Now compare these totals to the terrible French Revolution. We have this idea that the French were just running around killing people right and left. We call it the reign of terror. We expect to hear about many hundreds of thousands of deaths. Well, believe it or not, the total killed in the French Revolution was “only” 40,000, which is not good, obviously. That is 40,000 people who should have lived. But compared to the 61 million in Russia and the 78 million in China, that was a rather benign revolution.
Do you know how many died in the American Revolutionary War? About 4435; roughly one-tenth of the French Revolution, and just a very small percentage point compared to the other ones.
So this country did well in terms of revolution. I do not know if that is a good thing, but, you know, 4000 compared to 40,000 compared to 61 million, is fairly peaceful all told.
Now, the Communist revolutions—the ones we are most interested in right now—began in the minds and writings of Karl Marx; his pal, Engles, his protege after many years; Lenin; and then his Chinese protege, Mao; and other leftist intellectuals in universities and salons. These were men who hated capitalism. And more than hating capitalism, they hated capitalists, and they wanted them dead. That is why there is such appalling death toll for 20th century Communism and Socialism.
“Antifa,” and “Black Lives Matter” are not by any means grassroots or barbershop revolutions. They are, in fact, the fruit of nearly 200 years of progressive, and later communist thought among scholars, intellectuals, and politicians. Their ideas and their tactics go back at least to the publication of the Communist Manifesto in 1848. That is a long time ago—170 years. This has been festering and brewing and waiting to spill over, and occasionally it does. This is just the latest iteration of that.
However, their Communism contains a racial strain that is more recent, and that comes out of a philosophical idea that is called Critical Race Theory—CRT. I am going to speak about that a bit tonight, because it is something I think you should know about; something that I think we should have in our minds so that we understand what is happening on our television screens, and in our cities. That it is not people going crazy, although they are. They are actually following and acting out a philosophy—an idea of belief.
You know, Joe Biden the other night was right when he said that “Antifa” was an idea. But now, Antifa is more than that. It is little groups, mostly in the Pacific Northwest and other Democrat-controlled areas that are now coming together, and doing what they are doing.
We have a tradition in this church that each year we open up the Feast of Tabernacles with a sermon titled, “The Handwriting is on the Wall,” and that is what I am doing tonight. My offering this year will attempt to explain Critical Race Theory. Actually, I want to put it another way. I want to explain Critical Theory because Critical Race Theory is just a one part of Critical Theory, which is the overall philosophy; so you will be aware of the twisted thinking behind this mass-movement.
I think it should be easy to see that what we are witnessing out on the streets is a sign that the return of Jesus Christ is nearer than we may have thought.
I would like to begin in Daniel 5. This is where we get the handwriting on the wall idea. I just want to give you the background for it and explain the concept a little bit.
Daniel 5:1-6 Belshazzar the king made a great feast for a thousand of his lords, and drank wine in the presence of the thousand. While he tasted the wine, Belshazzar gave the command to bring the gold and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple which had been in Jerusalem, that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them. Then they brought the gold vessels that had been taken from the temple of the house of God which had been in Jerusalem; and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone. In the same hour the fingers of a man's hand appeared and wrote opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king's palace; and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. Then the king's countenance changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his hips were loosened and his knees knocked against each other. [He had an episode as it were.]
Next part is Daniel’s explanation of what is going on here, talking about how Nebuchadnezzar had been humbled by God:
Daniel 5:22-28 "But you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, although you knew all this. And you have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven. They have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you and your lords, your wives and your concubines, have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone, which do not see or hear or know; and the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified. Then the fingers of the hand were sent from Him, and this writing was written. And this is the inscription that was written: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. This is the interpretation of each word, MENE: God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it; TEKEL: You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting; PERES: Your kingdom has been divided, and given to the Medes and Persians."
The original handwriting on the wall was literal. It was an actual hand that they saw, and it was carving these letters into the plaster of the wall. But the phrase over the centuries—the millennia—has come to suggest, “Reaching a state in which the outcome—usually bad, usually negative—is increasingly obvious.”
For instance, “When the Pittsburgh Pirates dropped their 40th game of the season out of only 60 the handwriting was on the wall, they wouldn’t make the playoffs.” Yeah, when their record is what ended up 19 and 41.
Here is another sentence that we can use this phrase in: “The career criminal, seeing the handwriting on the wall, turned on his comrades, and made a plea deal to shorten his sentence.” So here you have the handwriting on the wall being a sure sign that things are looking bad. Things are bad. And in this case here in Daniel 5, the handwriting on the wall was a sure sign of Babylon's defeat—in fact, it happened that very night.
There is a New Testament equivalent of this. Let us go to Matthew 16.
Matthew 16:1-3 Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. He answered and said to them, "When it is evening you say, 'It will be fair weather, for the sky is red'; and in the morning, 'It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.' Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times.”
This is, like I said, the New Testament equivalent of the handwriting on the wall, discerning the signs of the times. Jesus castigates the Pharisees, as He did so often, for being self-absorbed, and so blind that they missed the most important Person doing His most important work, and speaking the most important words that had ever been spoken on the face of the earth. He was right before their eyes, He was right under their noses, and they could not see Him.
The great sign of the time was the first coming of the Messiah, and they missed Him altogether, because they were looking inward, puffing themselves up. We know what their end eventually was. So, we do not want to follow their example.
God wants His people aware of the tenor of the times, thinking about the direction and the ramifications of events, and trends, and the philosophies that are swirling about.
We should not be going through this life in a fog. We should always be aware of the things that are happening around us, because that is where the signs of the time appear—in the people, in the events, in the things people are following, in the ideas that people live by.
What He wants His people to be is like a guard on duty—on watch; our heads like a good marine, always on a swivel, looking about; and light on our feet so we can move when we need to, ready to react to whatever dangers may come.
We do not want Jesus Christ to come and say, “How did you miss the signs of the times?” It is like red sky in the evening, portending good weather, or a red sky in the morning that portends a storm.
“Couldn’t you figure that out? Couldn’t you see it? It was on your TV every night. It was coming across your Internet all the time. Did you even bother to check Twitter?”
I am not saying that is a great news source, but it actually is a snapshot of the way people think today. And they are full of anger. They want to fight; they are ready to drop their gloves (using a hockey analogy) at the very instant something comes along that they do not happen to like.
Not that I am suggesting you get on Twitter. I am not. But it is a slice of America, mostly America and Britain. I have seen those two nations on there, and you can really tell what is on people's minds by looking at Twitter.
Then you have to go take a shower.
But my point is that we do not want Jesus castigating us like He did the Pharisees for not being aware of what is happening—the big things that are happening. We do not have to know every little bit of it. That is a distraction to know every little detail that might take us off course, but we do need to keep our eyes open so we understand how things are going—where they are moving, what their potentials are—so that we could be ahead of them and have a strategy of what to do. Be thinking through God's Word about, “Is this right or not? Is this good or not? Where will this end? What does God say about it?”
So, that being said, we need to know something about critical theory. It is a philosophy. It is behind the 12,045 incidents across 47 states of US civil unrest between May 26 and September 5 this year. That is as far as I got. I could not find any more recent stats, but that is 12,045 incidents across 47 states. I hope many of you live in those other three states. I am not exactly sure what they are, but they are probably like North and South Dakota—small population states.
Of these 12,045 incidents, 1,143 of them (or about one in 10, roughly) involve some sort of violence. There were peaceful protests, that is true. But about one-tenth of them turned violent. There was either rioting, looting, clashes with police, cars being torched, cars rammed into crowds, bystanders pepper sprayed, armed attacks—that sort of thing. Whatever reached the level of violence that these statisticians considered.
Of these 1,143 violent incidents, about 84% of them involved Black Lives Matter or Antifa. Because of this, we need to understand critical theory.
According to Michael Walsh in his book, The Devil's Pleasure Palace, the Cult of Critical Theory and the Subversion of the West, critical theory is the brainchild of what is known as The Frankfurt School.
Now, who are The Frankfurt School? Quoting Mr. Walsh,
The Frankfurt School is a collection of dissident Marxist intellectuals who believed that Orthodox Marxist theory could not adequately explain the turbulent development of capitalist societies in the 20th century.
That is a lot of big words.
They took up the task of re-appropriating Marxism in light of conditions that Karl Marx himself had never considered. The school has a clear genealogy, appropriating elements of Marxist materialism, Hegelian philosophy, German idealism, Gestalt psychology, and atheistic Jewish Messianism. This synthesized analysis gave expression to a transdisciplinary, anti-capitalist intellectual tradition, with both imminent—that is material—and transcendent—that is metaphysical or spiritual—themes.
I know that is a lot to put your head around. It was an intellectual being an intellectual, using big words and such. But you just need to know that they come out of Marxism, mainly. That is the main thing you need to understand. And they had this German idealism, meaning that they could, like Hitler wanted to do, and some others, make this grand society and utopia if they just would do it right. They have a psychological background as well, where they are trying to use the properties of the human mind for their own advantage. And this atheistic Jewish Messianism.
So they were atheists, ethnic Jews, but atheists, yet they still had this idea of a messiah, but they believe themselves to be the messiah. They were going to be the ones that brought the new age to all of society.
Unfortunately, many of these disaffected Marxists moved to America, and they set up shop in our universities and our think-tanks. So they kind of glommed onto the New England area with Harvard and Yale, and those sorts of university, and also Washington D. C, where a lot of the think tanks are. They were not a solely an East Coast/Northeast type of thing because they did spread to places like Stanford and other places around the country. But that is where they decided that they would make their home and do their work.
What did the Frankfurt School believe? Basically, its critical theory holds that no tenet—no principle—of civilization should go unquestioned.
Have you ever heard the slogan, “Question authority?” That is directly from these guys out of the Frankfurt School. And so it is critical theory, because they criticized everything. They put everything under a microscope. They wanted to get down to the nitty-gritty of everything in Western civilization, including Christianity, and tear it down.
They thought the traditions and principles of society should be attacked and dismantled because they believed them to be one of two things. Either they were arbitrary—just somebody thinking, and, “Whoo! Okay, let's do that.” Or part of an ancient conspiracy, So they were conspiracy theorists too; part of an ancient conspiracy to place and maintain power in certain hands. They either think that these principles of Western society were something just picked out of the air at random, or they thought that somebody way back when, probably Catholics in the Catholic Church, or, you know, maybe even before that, some other bad group of people had gotten together and said, “How could we keep our power over society for millennia at a time? Okay! Let's make this rule and this rule in this thing and do this.” That is how they thought. Their job, they felt, was that they should go in and pick at everything—to destroy it.
By the way, I should mention that the ones they thought that this grand conspiracy had benefited, and not just benefited it, but had created it, and then benefited from it, was the wealthy, straight white male. Which is, as you can tell, over the last 50, 60, 70 years, is the one who has taken all the arrows. The wealthy, straight white male.
They believed (these Frankfurt School people) in rebellion against the established order to take wealth and power out of the hands of wealthy straight white males, and put it into (you probably guessed it) their own progressive, enlightened hands.
So it is just like any other thing. “You’ve got it. I want it. I’m going to take it.” This is the way they decided to go about it. They would come up with a philosophical argument against everything. Everything! Nothing in Western civilization was safe from it.
To this end they would deconstruct (you have probably heard that word), by any means possible. You just know by this word—deconstruct—they are destroyers. I hope you hear the characteristics of Satan the Devil through this—rebellion, destruction, taking things, stealing, trying to overthrow those that are above them, ruling them.
Anyway, they would deconstruct by any means possible the ideas, philosophies, beliefs, and literature of the capitalistic West, including Christianity and the Bible, to the point that they would find, see, and destroy their foundations, and root out all the fatal flaws.
Then, at that point, they would present their own ideas, juxtaposed against the old Western civilization ideas. They would present their ideas as forward thinking—progressive; scientific (that is another word they really like); and reasonable. “Modern man doesn’t think like that. Why should we listen to something or follow something that was put together by people way back when?”
Once they have argued this in their position papers, or white papers, or their newspaper articles, journal articles, wherever they happened to have argued them, then they would use their activists, media, and political arms to agitate for, explain, and implement them. One of their big ploys, which you have seen probably many times throughout your life, was to undermine language.
You could probably think of a couple right off the top of your head. They like to disparage certain language that most of us use and advocate for their own language, their own way of saying these things, to get us thinking along their lines. Very subtle.
For instance, years ago, probably in the late 1960s, I am not sure of the exact time, but they went from pro-abortion, to pro-choice. They changed the tenor of the verbiage, so it was more acceptable. That was maybe about the same time that they went from calling homosexuals what they are. They called them gay. Homosexual—that is a big, long word, and it means bad things. But gay, that sounds wonderful. They are very happy people. And they make you think that there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, they are happier than you are. This is what they did. They did this across society with many different things. But these were some of the two big ones that they did.
Now their master stroke, the thing that really worked for them was to put themselves and their disciples in schools, early. I am talking about kindergarten and elementary schools, also middle schools, and junior high and high schools. And they loved the university. So their protégés went there, and they turned out hundreds and thousands of young Marxists, Socialists, and Progressives like themselves, many of whom then went into education, the media (it is full of them), politics, and pièce de resistance, government. They formed the minds of the next generation and the next generation and the next generation, and moved the intellectual and cultural thinking inexorably leftward, until we are where we are today, where we have Joe Biden propounding these same ideas in debates and other appearances, because guess who he is backed by? The protégés, and the protégés of the protégés of the Frankfurt School. And now they are in organizations like Antifa and Black Lives Matter, and similar groups because there is many more.
The thinking behind modern social justice is critical race theory. See? They just threw race in the middle of Critical Theory—Critical Race Theory, that is, Critical Theory applied to the subject of race. It is also applied very specifically to sexuality; to gender; to handicaps; to body weight and body image; to colonialism; and we could go on and on talking about these different kinds of movements. They apply to every philosophy, every idea of Western civilization, and they break them down. There is [even] Critical Christianity Theory, and Critical Theology Theory.
Now, Critical Race Theory takes as its starting point that America is rotten to the core; a nation founded upon white supremacy, patriarchy, and all manner of repression. And, what do you know? Those things are all focused on one man in this country right now, because they think that President Donald Trump represents all of these ideas. That is why they hate him so much.
Now, I will defend him, and say, he is not like that. But they have convinced an awful lot of people to believe it and that is why you have such hatred of our president, even though when you look at the things that he is accomplished, he is actually done a pretty good job. But that will never fly with them, because as much as we think that everything we hear on the air is fake news, they believe that, too. They believe that there are only a few sure sources of news, and they are all from their side and what their side says is true. And what we might call the conservative media, or just down the middle media (if there is such a thing), that is all lies.
I want to read a summary now of Critical Race Theory that comes from a recent book by a woman named Helen Pluckrose, and co-author, James Lindsay. Their book is Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity—and Why This Harms Everybody. It is actually a pretty good book. It is pretty fair, even though the authors themselves, would probably fall on the political spectrum to the left of center.
Critical Race Theory (CRT) maintains that race is a social construct meant to uphold white supremacy, and white privilege. Key to CRT is positionality, which says that a person's position in society, which is to say their identity groups, dictates how well and how accurately the world can be understood. Those who are marginalized have knowledge that is not available to those in positions of power, which means those in power must listen to the marginalized so they too, can gain knowledge. CRT is also closely associated with intersectionality, which is meant to display how prejudices magnified by the intersection of multiple marginalized identities. According to CRT racism is omnipresent in Western society to such a degree that every interaction between a white person and a person of color will necessarily be marked and marred by an imbalance of power.
And the white person [supposedly] has it. (This is my aside, here.) What it comes down to is that all whites, and their every action, are racist. Continuing the quote:
The task of society and the individual is to draw attention to this imbalance and to dismantle it through racial consciousness.
Now, I know that was another earful, but I actually went on Twitter and a user on Twitter who calls himself, “@GreenwoodOutlaw” (that would be like “Robin Hood”) provided this helpful summary:
Critical Race Theory is a conscious attempt by Marxists to destabilize the West, using race as a vector to create social unrest in order to establish conditions under which a revolution against capitalism can occur.
So what he saying is that race is being used as the ‘tip of the spear’ to cause problems so that a Marxist revolution could take place in the near future. That is why I wanted to explain Marxism, and the Frankfurt School, because this is the getting to the end of where they were trying to go.
They had to come up with something that was going to overthrow America, and they finally hit on race. It has been bubbling underneath the surface for a long time. They tried feminism. Then, they tried homosexuality. They tried homosexual marriage. They tried all the LGBT and other things, and they did not work.
So their trump card, at least to this point (and that is not a pun), is the race issue, and they riled a lot of people up, not just blacks, but a lot of whites who feel as if they have had too much privilege in this country. They are trying to overturn this constitutional republic by any means possible, one brick, one building at a time.
Nobel Prize winning anti-Communist author Alexander Solzhenitsyn once wrote, “Within the philosophical system of Marx and Lenin, and at the heart of their psychology, hatred of God is the principal driving force, more fundamental than all their political and economic pretensions.”
Remember, the Frankfurt School was a bunch of atheistic Jewish Messianics.
True Christians should oppose communism and socialism as much as they can, because it is fundamentally anti-God. You look in the Bible, and there is no trace of that sort of system in it. And the reason is because God does not support it. I am not saying that He supports capitalism, either. Do not get me wrong. Capitalism is better than communism, though.
Now this factor, the factor of them being anti-God, also accords with the apostle Paul's prediction of end time attitudes in II Timothy 3:1-5. I am not going to read that. I have read it recently, but Paul tells us, there, that men will love themselves, and they will love money. But they will not love God. They are proud, and blasphemous, slanderous, and brutal; traitors and head strong; they even have a form of godliness.
Many social justice warriors and supporters of Critical Theory call themselves Christian, but their lives deny its power over them. They do not follow it. They like the title because it gives them an “in” to get their other ideas to other people.
And Paul's list, there in II Timothy 3, describes the people with an inveterate hatred toward God. As the end nears, we will see this born out fully.
Let us go to Revelation 13. If you know your chapters, you say, “Ah ha! The beast!”
Revelation 13:5-7 And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months. Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation.
So we see, here, that the beast who is coming will lead the world at the end, and his underlying philosophy, if you will, is hatred of God and he will show it by his blasphemies. Many in this world will follow him. The whole world eventually follows him. It says here in Revelation 9, that many of these people will retain their hatred of God to the very end.
Revelation 9:13-15 Then the sixth angel sounded: And I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, "Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates." So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released to kill a third of mankind.
Let us drop down to verse 20:
Revelation 9:20-21 But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.
Let us go on to chapter 16, verse 1:
I just read this to give you some time element here. Let us drop down to verse 8:
Revelation 16:8-11 Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory. Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues because of the pain. They blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds.
So, keep an eye out for those in the Frankfurt School tradition. Keep an eye out for these Antifa people, the Black Lives Matter people, and other destructive and deconstructive groups like them. This is not a racial thing. It is an economic and political thing. It is about power.
I hate to see it, but these groups, these attitudes are signs of the time. The handwriting is on the wall for all to see.