Hi, this is Pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…I-d-o-l worship vs. I-d-l-e worship.
Daniel Chapter 5:1-31 is where we read of the mysterious finger writing on the wall. The account from the book of Daniel in the New Living Translation begins as follows: Many years later King Belshazzar gave a great feast for 1,000 of his nobles, and he drank wine with them. While Belshazzar was drinking the wine, he gave orders to bring in the gold and silver cups that his predecessor, Nebuchadnezzar, had taken from the Temple in Jerusalem. He wanted to drink from them with his nobles, his wives, and his concubines. So they brought these gold cups taken from the Temple, the house of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his nobles, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. While they drank from them they praised their idols made of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone. Suddenly, they saw the fingers of a human hand writing on the plaster wall of the king’s palace, near the lampstand. The king himself saw the hand as it wrote, and his face turned pale with fright. His knees knocked together in fear and his legs gave way beneath him…the rest of the chapter completes the account and I would encourage you to read it.
As I was reading this chapter it got me thinking about how such an archaic, seemingly specific to that situation, act of God can be applied to us today. While it is an incredible account from the Old Testament, one many Sunday school lessons for children have been written about, what is the message contained within for us to consider. Almost immediately the title for this podcast came to mind, and the rest just seemed to follow.
Belshazzar the son of the great Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, knew what his father’s life had been like. Nebuchadnezzar is to my knowledge the only example we have in scripture of a true case of narcissism that was turned around. Nebuchadnezzar loved himself above all else. He thought he was the best, strongest, mightiest, wisest ruler to ever walk the face of the earth. He gave no credit to God for the fact that his entire kingdom had been given to him with the express purpose of God using his strength to bring judgement upon the Israelites for their lack of acknowledging God. (It seem both he and the Israelite people had the same problem) As we read in the previous chapter of Daniel, the result of Nebuchadnezzar’s pride and self-love (one of the defining characteristics of narcissism) was that he went crazy and crawled around on all fours eating grass and living in the fields without shelter for seven years! It was not until he was humbled and finally admitted that God was greater than he was and deserving of everyone’s honor that his sanity returned and his kingdom was restored to him.
Even though Belshazzar his son was fully aware of all of that, he too chose to elevate himself above God by using sacred goblets taken from the temple in Jerusalem to use during his drunken orgy, but he also chose to worship other gods at the same time. The result of this careless action was the hand of God wrote a warning to him on a wall with all of his guests witnessing it with him. The message; MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN God has numbered the days of your reign, and brought it to an end. You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting. Your kingdom is divided and given to the Meads and the Persians. (Daniel 5:25-28) That very night, Belshazzar was killed and King Darius of the Meads took over his kingdom.
I-d-o-l worship vs. I-d-l-e worship. This scriptural account gives cause for us to see that both are deadly. Belshazzar’s thinking was that the goblets were only wine glasses made of gold. However, he knew where they had come from. He knew they had been consecrated to the God of the Israelites. He also knew who God is because he was aware that his father Nebuchadnezzar had been forced to finally humble himself before God. His arrogant use of the goblets for a sinful debase party was an act of utter nonchalance to the highest extent. It was i-d-l-e worship. We must never trivialize the things God says are sacred. His word, His Son’s sacrifice, His church (the people), marriage…etc. When we take the things God holds dear and make them meaningless we are walking on very thin ice. Will God forgive someone who does these things and genuinely repents? Yes, ask the apostle Paul about that. But those who choose to do it as a way of life, and have no heart to do otherwise…they are in extreme danger!
The other thing Belshazzar was found guilty of was I-d-o-l worship. Not only did he take the things that were God’s and treated them with no respect, He openly worshiped his own gods, and thereby robbed God of His deserved worship and adoration. We like to think that I-d-o-l worship is a thing of the ancient past, or that it is only practiced by indigenous peoples of third world countries. If only this were so. I think there is more I-d-o-l worship in our great country than anywhere else on the planet. God requires the highest standing in our lives, it must be reserved for Him and Him alone. If God is not first place in our lives then something or someone else is, and that is I-d-o-l worship. I think we are also guiltier in our country perhaps than anywhere else on the globe of I-d-l-e worship. We do not as a people give the things God says are holy near the respect they deserve. Until we become humbled as a nation and seek God in all that we do, we are destined for further problems. 2 Chronicles 7:14 in the New King James Version reads as follows: If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
As a country, as a people, as individuals, I think it worthy to consider the account found in Daniel chapter five. I-d-o-lworship or I-d-l-e worship, both are epic failures as people to bring the glory and the honor deserved to…and reserved for…the One True God.
So now, making certain to give God all of the honor and respect He deserves as our God and King…Go be Awesome!