Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“O taste and see that the Lord our God is good! Blessed is the man (woman) who trusts and takes refuge in Him.”
God Is Good
“I faced a future all unknown,
No opening could I see,
I heard without the night wind moan,
The ways were dark to me –
‘I cannot face it all alone
O be Thou near to me!’
I had done sums, and sums and sums,
Inside my aching head.
I’ve tried in vain to pierce the gloom
That lay so thick ahead.
But two and two will not make five,
Nor will do when I’m dead.
And then I thought of Him who fed
Five thousand hungry men,
With five small casual loaves of bread –
Would He were here again!
Dear God! hast Thou still miracles
For the troubled sons of men?
His kindness is so very great;
His greatness is so very good.
He looks upon my low estate;
He gives me daily food.
And nothing is too small for Him –
Yes, truly! God is good.”
in Bees in Amber
Today’s Study Text:
“Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand. Belshazzar, whiles he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink therein. Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God which was at Jerusalem…They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone.”
“Earthly Power Versus Heavenly Purpose” Part 5
“Turn Back, O Men, Forswear Thy Foolish Ways”
“Sin is the dare of God’s justice, the rape of His mercy, the jeer of His patience, the slight of His power, and the contempt of His love.”
Are there ways in my own life in which I have shown contempt for my Father in heaven?
Have I ever ignored what God has said in order to fit in with the crowd?
“All pride is idolatry.”
“Man is like a thing of nought; his time passeth away like a shadow.”
In a world of rapid change and twisted priorities, the Bible becomes an even more important foundation because it provides us with a historical record of God’s dealings with His children down through time.
What stirs my heart is the fact that what God says in His Word will happen, actually takes place! The book of Daniel offers us an up-close view of God’s faithfulness in keeping His Word. In Daniel, Chapters 1-3, we have found that even when exiled in a foreign land, God’s ability to work through the lives of His children confirms for you and me today the fact that no matter how topsy-turvy things get, God indeed is the Ruler over all. As the prophet Daniel related to King Nebuchadnezzar, his rulership of Babylon wouldn’t last forever. While Babylon was a vast nation, there came a time when King Nebuchadnezzar was no longer on the scene and the monarchy was passed down to his heirs.
Not too long ago, I was reading about how individuals of wealth and power try with all their might to make certain that when they die, they are able to control how their possessions and positions are exactly as they want them to be. It’s as if they want to be in charge of all their earthly affairs from the grave. Strange thing is, I’ve never visited a graveyard that has active participation from its inhabitants, ordering every detail from their earthen resting places.
I have some friends who have become so fixated about spending the money they have acquired over the years. Now mind you, they have no children to leave their millions to and yet for years, they drove an old car with such a gas leak in it that I was concerned that their car might blow up. I once asked the wife, a dear friend, if she thought her husband believed he would be able to grab all his money and haul it into the grave with him. This is sadly the way so many people live their lives today. But to be clear, idolizing possessions and power is not a 21st century phenomenon. Bowing down and worshipping at the altar of avarice and materialism was alive and well in 500 B.C. too. King Nebuchadnezzar and his huge golden idol should leave us with no doubt about the ability of human creatures to create idols made by their own hands.
Thankfully, the ruler of Babylon came to his senses and found that as Pastor John Piper wrote in his book, Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ, that “We were made to know and treasure the glory of God above all things, and when we trade the treasure for images, everything is disordered.”
Frankly, Pastor Piper perfectly describes the scene painted by Daniel in Daniel 5: 1 where we read that Belshazzar, a descendant of Nebuchadnezzar made a great feast and drank wine in the presence of 1,000 of his lords.
Now I want to STOP for a moment. I grew up in a home where drinking was not an approved activity. I went along with the rule because most of my friends weren’t party animals, so to speak. But when I was attending Arizona State University which a few years ago was rated the Number 1 “Party University,” I went to a football rally where everybody was drinking beer. It flowed like water and I stupidly thought a glass or two wouldn’t hurt me at all. To this day I can still remember driving home from that party, feeling as if I wasn’t “with it.” I vowed to God if He would get me home without hurting anyone else or myself, I’d never take a drink of any alcoholic beverage again in my life! And I haven’t!
It was that particular evening though, which helped me better understand something my dad told me when I went off to San Francisco for college. Right out of high school at the young age of 17 he made a point of sharing some very heartbreaking stories of tragic events that turned good lives into painful lives because after drinking sprees, events occurred which upset lives in unimaginable ways.
And it is this very truth that I believe Daniel was bringing to our attention when he pointed out that the new ruler of Babylon, King Belshazzar, got 1,000 of his friends (?), the lords of his kingdom together, and they decided to whoop it up by drinking wine. And then in Daniel 5: 2, there are these chilling words which are the backdrop for the title of today’s devotional, “’Turn Back, O Man, Forswear Thy Foolish Ways.’
King Belshazzar went a step too far when he commanded that the gold and silver vessels be used as party dishes. In the second verse in the book of Daniel (Daniel 1: 2), we are told that due to the gross wickedness of King Jehoiakim of Judah, the Eternal God of heaven and earth, gave this disobedient king into the hand of King Nebuchadnezzar. But that isn’t all. God allowed “part of the vessels of the house of God” to be plundered by the foreign ruler. And Nebuchadnezzar, the Bible tells us, “placed the vessels in the treasury of his god” (Daniel 1: 2, Amplified Bible).
Now you may be thinking I’m making a big deal out of these vessels. But several weeks ago when we were studying Daniel 1, I made the observation that these vessels had been seen by Daniel and his three friends. They were, as we discussed, the ”touchstones” from home that God used in Babylon to remind these faithful young men of their God and Creator. Every time Daniel and his friends looked at those vessels they thought of the Temple in Jerusalem built by King Solomon to bring honor and glory to the God of heaven and earth. At least as arrogant as King Nebuchadnezzar got, he kept those vessels in a safe place. But now, with his passing, subsequent generations had no respect for God or for the Temple or for the vessels that had served as a reminder to Daniel and the three Hebrew young men who boldly stood up to the demands of an earthly king. Those “touchstones” were nothing more to Belshazzar than ornaments. And to God, the time for judgment had come. The call to obedience had been ignored for the last time.
The story of the careless, godless use of these vessels begs the question in the 21st century. What are the “vessels” we use in our haste to make light of what is holy? It makes me wince to see God’s Word, the Bible, used as a prop, making a mockery of what should be treasured in the house of God and in the homes of His children.
In the 1800’s, believe it or not, a poet named Clifford Bax penned these thought-provoking words:
“Turn back, O man, forswear thy foolish ways.
Old now is Earth, and none may count her days,
Yet thou, her child, whose head is crowned with flames
Still wilt not hear thine God proclaim –
‘Turn back, O man, forswear they foolish ways.’
Earth might be fair and all men glad and wise.
Age after age their tragic empires rise,
Built while they dream, and in that dreaming weep.
Would man but wake from out his haunted sleep…
‘Turn back, O man, forswear thy foolish ways.’”
King Belshazzar was too busy partying to hear the call. Will the same be said today about us?
“It’s easy to get attached to idols,
good things inappropriately adored.
But when you have Jesus in
the center of a room, everything
else only junks up the décor.”
Charles R. Swindoll
“The Lord has established His Throne in the heavens, and His kingdom rules overall.”
Lead On, O King Eternal
“Lead on O King Eternal,
Till sin’s fierce war shall cease,
And holiness shall whisper
The sweet Amen of peace;
For not with swords, loud clashing,
Nor roll of stirring drums,
With deeds of love and mercy,
The heavenly kingdom comes.
Lead on, O King Eternal,
We follow, not with fears,
For gladness breaks like morning
Where’er Thy face appears;
Thy cross is lifted o’er us;
We journey in its light,
The crown awaits the conquest;
Lead on, O God of might.”
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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