Daniel 3:4-7

Do you know what is "idolatry"? Do you know idolatry's outcome? Observe the following - among many others - example:

Daniel 3:4-7

"Then the herald loudly proclaimed, “Nations and peoples of every language, this is what you are commanded to do: As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace”

"Therefore, as soon as they heard the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp and all kinds of music, all the nations and peoples of every language fell down and worshiped the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up"

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INTERLINEAR BIBLE

This list of musical instruments, one of the most detailed in the Scripture - together with that of Psalms 150 - gives us an idea of musical instruments in Biblical epochs. We give a table for comparison because there are differences between translations, and sometimes could some rendering be wrong:

NIV -------------- Aramaic -------- Hebrew ----- Greek ------- possible rendering
"horn" ----------- kéren ----------- kéren -------- sálpingos -------- horn, trompet
------------------------------------------------------------------------------ (possible, a real
------------------------------------------------------------------------------ animal horn)
"flute" ----------- masrokít ------- ugáb -------- suringós --- flute (with holes)
"zither" --------- kitarós --------- kinór ----------- kitáras ----------- zither, harp
------------------------------------------------------------------------------ (in Psalms)
"lyre" ----------- sabbekhá ----- (NONE) -------- lúra -------------- harp, lyre
"harp" --------- pesanterín ---- nébel ------ psaltérion ---- psaltery (12 strings;
---------------------------------------------------------------------------- usually "kinór and
---------------------------------------------------------------------------- nébel" is rendered
---------------------------------------------------------------------------- "harp and psaltery",
---------------------------------------------------------------------------- as in Ps 33:2; 150:3.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------- The "ten-stringed lyre"
---------------------------------------------------------------------------- is a kind of psaltery)
"pipe" -------- sumponiá ----- (NONE) --------- sumfonías ----- pan flute
---------------------------------------------------------------------------- (possibly the "aulos",
------------------------------------------------------------------------------- a kind of double
------------------------------------------------------------------------------- "flute" with reeds)

The fact that some instruments are of Greek origin has been used to discredit the book of Daniel (but this is wrong; see last NOTE) The diversity of instruments shows us that the celebration was an important one, and that music would play a role in idolatry.

What is this "idolatry" we are talking about?

The word "idolatry" comes from Greek "idololatría", a compound of "ídolo" (idol or image, a representation of some deity) and "latría" (worship, service) The literal rendering means "idol worship". In 1st Corinthians 10:18-20 the apostle Paul, talking about the relationship between Christians and idolaters, gives us a very important definition: those "deities" which are represented by idols are actually demons (because there's only one God) and to participate in "idolatry" in any way makes us "participants with demons". In the same way that the Jews participate in the sacrifices to God, the pagans did in the sacrifices to demons. Here is the text:

1st Corinthians 10:18-20

"Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar? Do I mean then that food sacrificed to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons"

On March 15, 44 AD, the last dictator of the Roman republic was killed. His name was Julius Caesar, and his successor was Augustus, the first Roman emperor. This change made the "Roman republic" to become "Roman empire". One of the nearer men of Caesar was general Pompey the Great, who fought for Rome in the territories which are occupied now by Spain, Italy, Turkey and Syria, and in north Africa, too (actually, most of the Mediterranean Sea; Caesar was conquering the land which now is called France) In his campaigns, Pompey invaded also Judea, and especially Jerusalem. He came to the city in 63 BC, in times of a civil war between the parties of Pharisees and Sadducees. Pompey helped the Pharisees to win and took Jerusalem's temple, where the Sadducees had taken refuge. His intervention caused the dead of more than 12 000 Jews.

The history gives account of Pompey's amazement when he entered Jerusalem's temple. As a Roman officer, he had fought in many places that Rome occupied, and he had seen many temples of the religions of those nations. There were idols or images of their deities in every one of them. In Jerusalem, Pompey saw for the first time a "religious" building without "religious" images; he came in to the temple of those who worship a God who forbids to make an image of Him. It is proper to remember that by that time, the Jews were the only nation on earth who knew the real God and worshipped Him; the gentiles were pagans and polytheists.

The existence of "idolatry" was well known by the Jews. Father Abraham left the idolater's Babylonia in order to go to the idolater's Canaan, and the people of Israel left the idolater's Egypt to go to the same land. When we read the well known "Ten Commandments" which Moses got from God in order to lead the people which should found the nation of Israel, both the first and second commandments are about idolatry. "You shall have no other gods before me" (because there are none) and "you shall not make yourself an image and worship it" (because those images aren't God's representation, but demons') Israel was weakened, taken captive by Assyrians and Babylonians and finally fell before Rome, because they disobeyed God's commandments. They were mixed with gentiles and established "high places" to worship demons in the land God had given them. This process began with king Solomon, who allowed his foreign women to worship their deities, and infected after his death the divided kingdom (both Israel and Juda) Almost all of the prophets denounced idolatry and called to repent and turn back to the Lord and His law.

The Christian church suffered the same evil. In its birth, idolatry had no place, because they were in the beginning God-fearing Jews who believed in Jesus Christ, the Messiah of Israel. But when the church began to expand and reach the gentiles, then a conflict arose between believers and "demon worshippers". Some epistles in the NT warn the believers against idolatry, and the book af Acts shows us the first Christian preachers confronting pagan beliefs and rejecting idolatry. It was because of their teaching that the doctrine in the young church was a pure one, and the persecution of the Romans, who thought that Christians were "atheists" because they didn't worship images, rather strengthened the faith of those first Christians. But the recognizing of Christianity as an "official religion" caused the church to welcome idolaters. Many people who didn't care about God, the Bible and the Christian doctrine, but about the profits they should obtain declaring themselves "Christians", came into the church. The emperor Constantine himself, who prohibited to persecute Christians, he kept the pagan religions of Rome side by side with Christianity. Gradually, the people in the church began to worship "virgins" and "saints", and they began to pray to their "patron saints" instead of the Lord Jesus Christ, the "only mediator between God and mankind" as the Word of God states. It is not casual that an important outcome fo the Reformation which Martin Luther began was to take away idolatry from the church, through a "biblical" faith - a faith based in the Holy Scriptures - and a "rational" one, because we don't need to deny our reason in order to believe what God says in the Bible, but rather to use it.

The Psalm 115:1-11 says:

Not to us, Lord, not to us
but to your name be the glory,
because of your love and faithfulness.
Why do the nations say,
“Where is their God?”
Our God is in heaven;
he does whatever pleases him.
But their idols are silver and gold,
made by human hands.
They have mouths, but cannot speak,
eyes, but cannot see.
They have ears, but cannot hear,
noses, but cannot smell.
They have hands, but cannot feel,
feet, but cannot walk,
nor can they utter a sound with their throats.
Those who make them will be like them,
and so will all who trust in them.
All you Israelites, trust in the Lord—
he is their help and shield.
House of Aaron, trust in the Lord—
he is their help and shield.
You who fear him, trust in the Lord—
he is their help and shield.

The writer of this Psalm shows us a vivid contrast between a God "we can't see" and the idols. God is Spirit, ans that's why we can't see Him physically (then people wonder were he is) But He is the only one God, who made the heavens and the earth; He is in heaven and He makes His will (He is sovereign) The idols can be seen and touched, and idolaters postrate before them and worship them. But, as this Psalm shows, they are representations, images made by human hands, and they aren't able to do something. The highest point in the comparison is that those who "trust in them" will be made "like them", because our soul is conformed in accordance with that which we worship. That's why the only worship which can "save us" is that of the Son of God, because the way of salvation is "to be conformed to His image" (Romans 8:29; 1st John 2:6) The Holy Spirit helps us just to be conformed in Jesus Christ's likeness, participants in His nature.

Maybe you are wondering: ...but, who worships nowadays the Canaanite, Roman or Greek deities? How should we apply this knowledge in modern life?

A different form of idolatry, and a worst one, takes place when the "idols" aren't deities of "gold and silver" but famous people. There are many who follow an "idol" of the entertainment industry, copying their styles, both i appearance and in the way of life. Almost every new genre of popular music is accompanied of a whole "subculture" which arises as the opposite, and in rebellion against the previous social patterns. This is typical for every "rebel" music genre which emerges and is received by young people as "theirs". The "idol" will not only "preach" musical rebellion or appearance rebellion; their subculture will include rebellion against paternal authority, against marriage's sanctity, and in short, everything that the "idol" professes as his - or her - personal "creed". Many of them have promoted alcoholism, drugs consumption, sinful sexual relationships or social violence. It is not very hard to see Satan behind the whole phenomenon. As the evil one used music - a form of art created and destined to worship God - to reinforce the call of king Nebuchadnezzar to practise idolatry, he uses music nowadays also, in order to call multitudes to idolatry.

Don't let them deceive you. The musical "idols" which the entertainment industry produces can't save you - they can't even save themselves - from eternal death and condemnation. But Jesus Christ can. If you haven't found yet which is the "image of 60 x 6 cubits" that Satan wants you to worship, let me tell you that the Lord has sent His Holy Spirit to lead us to the truth. Only Jesus saves, and only Jesus can lead us to reject sin and to obey God. Receive Him as your Lord and Savior, and you'll enter eternity as a saved God's child!

May the Lord bless you! In the love of Christ, your brother

Israel Leonard

PS. Jesus is coming soon!

NOTE:

To you who have read about the "maccabean thesis" (which we dealt with in the message corresponding Daniel 2:39-40) we want you to be aware of the main argument of those who believe that error. They base their position in the existence of musical instruments of Greek origin in this list. But the influence of Greek culture in Mesopotamia, and Phoenician culture as well (both Greeks and Phoenicians engaged in trade in the Mediterranean sea) is prior to Nebuchadnezzar (centuries earlier) and it doesn't prove that the book of Daniel was written ca. 200 BC. Besides, by that time, the language in Mesopotamia was Greek (there was no "Babylonia" neither "Persia", but the Seleucid Empire) Even when Aramaic was used, the official language after Alexander the Great was Greek. This influence was so strong that the writers of the NT, who were mostly Jews under the Roman empire, wrote in Greek, the language that "everyone" understood.

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