Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Say to God, ‘How awesome and fearfully glorious are Your works! Through the greatness of Your power shall Your enemies submit themselves to You. All the earth shall bow down to You and sing praise to You…For You, O God, have proved us; You have tried us as silver is tried and purified…Come and hear, all you who reverently fear God and I will declare what God has done for me.”
Psalm 66: 3, 4, 10, 16
God In The Midst
“God is unique and one –
Maker, Sustainer, Lord!
Patterns of life were spun
by His creative Word.
Of His intention, love and care
we are with growing trust aware.
Love came to earth in Christ,
our common life to share,
Choosing to be the least,
willing a cross to bear.
He died and rose that we might live
and all our love-responding – give.
The Holy Spirit moves
people to trace God’s plan;
such inspiration proves
more than the mind can span.
Each listening heart is led to find
the will of God for humankind.
God shall forever reign,
Ruler of time and space;
here, in the midst of life,
seen in the human face.
We give expression to our creed
by love in thought and word and deed.”
Fred Kaan from
The Only Earth We Know
Today’s Study Text:
“Sing to the Lord, all the earth; show forth from day to day His salvation. Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous works among all peoples. For great is the Lord and greatly to be praised; He also is to be reverently feared above all so-called gods. For all the gods of the people are lifeless idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Honor and majesty are found in His presence; strength and joy are found in His sanctuary. Ascribe to the Lord, you families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name…O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy and loving-kindness endure forever!”
I Chronicles 16: 23-29, 34
“The Furnace of Affliction: - Part 10
“Nothing But Lifeless Idols”
“That to which your heart clings is your god.”
How would I define the word ”idol”?
What in my life has become an “idol” that I can’t let go of?
“Whatever you love more than God is your idol.”
D. L. Moody
“My sin was this, that not in Him but in His creatures – myself and others – I sought for pleasures, honors, and truths, and so fell headlong into sorrows, confusions, errors.”
Augustine of Hippo
I should have known better. At the first of this week I wrote you and said we were going to come back on Friday (that’s today!) to the “golden vessels” stolen by King Nebuchadnezzar’s army from God’s house of worship in Jerusalem. I was wrong. I should have learned from past experiences that it isn’t a wise idea to box in God’s Spirit of inspiration to a human timeline as together we study God’s Word. I know I was pushing it, limiting our study of Daniel 1-3 to just one week. I guess God needed to show me again that when we open His Word asking for His enlightenment, that if we really believe He’s in charge of opening our eyes to “truths Thou hast for me,” then we will be ready to study at His pace not our own. I just needed my Father’s gentle reminder that there’s absolutely no need to rush through passages of Scripture that we may not have studied as thoughtfully in the past. So today, we aren’t going to look at the rest of the story about those “golden vessels.” We’ll get to it at the right time of this I am certain. However, for today, I want to look at several passages in Daniel 2.
Yesterday, it was the phrase, “There Is A God In Heaven” which stopped me in my “writing tracks.” I hadn’t planned on even doing a devotional on those six words. But with the globe we call earth in total turmoil, I believe God had a message for His children, that’s you and me, that He sent thousands of years ago through the inspired pen of His prophet Daniel.
As Daniel stood before the king of Babylon, God revealed to him that the dream which had the godless king in such a tizzy he couldn’t even sleep, was about the future kingdoms of earth. One kingdom after another would be toppled, that is until the Kingdom of the Eternal God was set up. As Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar: “In the days of these final ten kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, nor shall its sovereignty be left to another people; but it shall crush and consume all these kingdoms and shall stand forever” (Daniel 2: 44, Amplified Bible).
In these troubled and confusing times in which we live, it gives me great comfort to know with certainty that the God of heaven and earth, your Creator and mine, has this whole mess on earth under the control of His guiding hand. What’s more, it is God that sets up governments and kings and rulers. Don’t forget that fact! Even when “Nebuchadnezzar’s” in the 21st century doubt God’s Word. And this is what Daniel revealed to King Nebuchadnezzar.
But somehow the king of Babylon seemed to miss this part of the heavenly message. To be sure, he got the part of the dream that said, “As for this image, its head was of fine gold” (Daniel 2: 32). I can just imagine Nebuchadnezzar’s eyes lighting up at the prospect of a “great image” with a big head of pure gold representing him and the country he lead. Somehow though, in his musings on his greatness, his brain “slipped a cog” and he passed right over the rest of the image with its breast and arms of silver; its belly and thighs of bronze; its two legs of iron; and last but not least, its feet which were a mixture of clay and iron.
And after a little time reflecting on Daniel’s interpretation, Nebuchadnezzar decided that, “there’s a God in heaven” belief could be erased! What’s more, he knew exactly how to do it. He was rich. He was mighty. And he was an expert at smearing gold on everything!
It’s interesting that when Daniel penned the words to the book that bears his name, there’s no information between Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 that gives any indication about the timeline between Daniel’s interpretation and subsequent elevation in status by the king who “gave him many great gifts, and made (Daniel) to rule over the whole province of Babylon and to be chief governor over all the wise men of Babylon” (Daniel 2: 48). And one more thing I just have to mention. Daniel didn’t forget his three faithful prayer warriors. When he moved up the “Babylon ladder of success” he took his prayer family with him for he “requested of the king that he appoint Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (do you notice that when talking to the foreign king, Daniel used his friends Babylonian names because this was the only way I suspect Nebuchadnezzar would have known who Daniel was talking about,” over the affairs of the province of Babylon (Daniel 2: 49). And as a final capstone, Daniel 2: 49 states that “Daniel remained in the gate of the king at the king’s court.” If you wanted to see the king, you saw Daniel as you came before the ruler of Babylon.
That’s the end of Daniel 2. And the very first verse in Daniel 3 states that King Nebuchadnezzar “caused to be made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits or nine feet. He sat it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon” (Daniel 3: 1). So it was, that a tall image of gold began to dominate the skyline. Make no mistake, this image sent a message as to what Nebuchadnezzar thought about Daniel’s interpretation. That God of heaven and all the other nation’s Daniel said would knock Nebuchadnezzar off his pedestal could be forgotten. He was the king. He was the best. He was the smartest, richest and most powerful. If you didn’t believe what he said, just look at his big, huge golden “idol” out on the plain. It was Nebuchadnezzar’s image. It carried his name…it carried his message…it shouted, “I am the greatest.”
But I ask you, “Where is that golden image today?” I find it rather thought provoking to look today in 2016 at the geography that once was the province of Babylon and now is what we call Iraq and the surrounding region. Nebuchadnezzar could boast about himself and his possessions all he wanted, but “there was a God in heaven,” whether he believed it or not. And all his “things,” that “stuff” he boasted about, were just what the Bible said they were, “nothing but lifeless idols.”
In our world today, where some who claim to be the richest and smartest flash their gold and boast about their brilliance, we need to remember that the Bible has many warnings to those who find themselves beguiled by the “things” of this earth. Maybe God’s rules for a “joyful life,” as I like to call the Ten Commandments, don’t mean much to many people, but within those God-given instructions, you and I are exhorted as children of the Most High, “Not to worship any god except Me (Jehovah). Don’t bow down and worship idols” (Exodus 20: 3-5). Why would God give us this instruction? It’s found in Exodus 20: 5, where we read that our God is a “jealous” God. Just so we don’t mistakenly think that this means our God is petty and small like we can be, I appreciate how The Message Bible expands our comprehension with words I can understand “God spoke all these words: ‘I am God, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of a life of slavery. No other gods, only Me. No carved gods of any size, shape or form of anything whatever…Don’t bow down to them and don’t serve them because I am God, your God, and I’m a most jealous God…I’m unswervingly loyal to the thousands who love Me and keep My commandments’” (Exodus 20: 1-6). My heavenly Father’s jealousness is a protectiveness and a call to loyalty, the same qualities He exhibits in His relationship with me and with you. He treasures our friendship. It means the world to Him. We have to look no further than the cross on Calvary to recognize the length He would go to in order to preserve our relationship. So why shouldn’t He say He is concerned about absolutely anything – possessions or people – that seek to disrupt or demean our committed relationship with Him. As David Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains “(Our) god is that for which (we) live, for which we are prepared to give (our) time, our energy, our money, that which stimulates us and rouses us, excites and enthuses us.” As I read these words all I could think of was this: “Dorothy, you have worshipped a lot of idols in your life.”
We can look at a Nebuchadnezzar and think, “Boy, what a godless fellow!” But without knowing it, we may have fallen victim to bowing our life’s energy, time and money before godless pursuits as well. And it is this fact that makes it imperative for us to comprehend why the actions of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah mattered so much in the eyes of the Babylonians as well as the God of heaven and earth. As Blaise Pascal observed, “There is nothing so abominable in the eyes of God as idolatry, whereby (we) render to the creature that honor which is due only to our Creator.”
There is a God in heaven. And thankfully, He longs for my loyal friendship for He knows how futile it is for me to throw away my allegiance and worship for nothing but a lifeless idol.
“The dearest idol I have known,
Whatever that idol be,
Help me to tear it from Thy throne,
And worship only Thee.”
“You came, Lord Jesus Christ,
to teach us the way of life which God requires;
make us receptive to Your word,
and help us to obey, whatever it may cost,
that our lives may bear much fruit;
to the glory of Your Name. AMEN.”
Collects with New Lectionary
“O Lord God, grant us always, whatever the world may say, to content ourselves with what You will say, and to care only for Your approval, which will outweigh all worlds; for Jesus Christ’s sake.”
General Charles Gordon
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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