Do you entertain suicidal thoughts?
I'm not asking you if you are considering to put an end to your life. Most probably you will not do it, and the whole idea has never come to your mind. But there are another ways to "commit suicide" because of ignorance. Observe the behavior of king Belshazzar in Babylonia:
"King Belshazzar gave a great banquet for a thousand of his nobles and drank wine with them. While Belshazzar was drinking his wine, he gave orders to bring in the gold and silver goblets that Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken from the temple in Jerusalem, so that the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines might drink from them"
"So they brought in the gold goblets that had been taken from the temple of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines drank from them. As they drank the wine, they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone"
Belshazzar (553-539 BC) was a coregent, under his father Nabonidus, in the Babylonian Empire. The experts say that because of this, Daniel was offered the third position in the kingdom, because Belshazzar was the second and Nabonidus (555-539 BC) was the king of Babylonia. By the times of the Persian conquer, which we can read about at the end of this chapter, Nabonidus went to fight the Persians and Belshazzar was in charge of the capital's defense (Babylon)
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If you compared the version in the original Aramaic with New International Version in English, then you can see that NIV is a very good rendering of this verses. But there are a pair of words that we could take a look at. The "goblets" are the rendering of the Aramaic "man" which means "goblet" or "utensil". When you read Jeremiah 52:17-23, you can see that, as plunder in Jerusalem's temple, the Babylonians took all kind of utensils. Obviously, because they should use them to drink, "goblets" is the best rendering here. The "gods" is the rendering of "elahá" which means "gods" in Aramaic, but if you see the description (of gold and silver, etc.) here is referring to "idols" (the representation of those false "gods")
If you have studied in order to get your driving license, possibly you have got to learn about the perils of drinking (alcoholic beverages) and driving. A seemingly insignificant amount of alcohol in your blood can influence your ability to follow traffic rules o to react, and you become a dangerous driver. You can read about it in the statistics about traffic accidents. Only in USA, 31 % of those who die in traffic accidents have some per mille of alcohol in their blood.
In Ephesians 5:18 you can read, "Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit". The word "debauchery" comes from the Greek "asotía" - which means "perversity", "wantonness", "profligacy", "dissolution", "wastefulness" - is defined as "Indulgence in sensual pleasures; excessive or immoral activities involving sex, alcohol, food, or drugs". When you learn not to drink and drive, it is because the alcohol will make you "perverse", leading you to act irresponsibly and immorally. "Irresponsibly", because you don't care about the results of your careless driving. "Immorally", because your respect for traffic rules and the value of human life will decrease or eventually disappear.
The behaviour of Belshazzar was disastrous to him. His debauchery and perversity because of alcohol, led him to conceive the desecration of the holy objects which the Babylonians had taken in the temple of God in Jerusalem, after plundering it.
"Desecration"? Why "desecration"?
This word means to deal with a sacred thing - or with something which is supposed to be respected, as a tomb or a temple - without respect, degrading it. Those goblets that Belshazzar ordered to bring were intended for the table of the Bread of the Presence (Exodus 25:29. 37:16; Numbers 4:7) where they should contain grain, oil and wine (the "product of the land") beside the bread. This was situated in the Holy Place, corresponding in the temple to the Holy Place of the tabernacle (but en Solomon's temple there were ten tables, and only one in the tabernacle) The desecration of the goblets, under Belshazzar orders, was a terrible act, because those things in the Holy Place and in the Most Holy Place (another room where the Ark of the Covenant was) were the most sacred in Jewish religion. Remember when Antiochus IV Epiphanes ordered to sacrifice a pig in the altar, to desecrate it. In Antiquity, when a people conquered another, it was common to desecrate their "gods", to show that they weren't capable to save those who believed in them. But this desecration was no good to Belshazzar. As a matter of fact, he died because of it. Because the God of Israel is not like the false "gods", but the Creator of heavens and earh, and the only true God.
In the previous message, which correspond to Daniel 4:33-34 (NIV 36-37) we talked about the story of the relocation of the Jews in Gush Katif, in the Gaza-strip, were the Palestinian Arabs desecrated the sinagogues that the Jews left, and destroyed them. That's not new or unseen in the Gaza-strip. This zone is called "Philistia" in the Bible, and it was the country of the Philistines, traditional enemies of Israel. The Bible tells another story of desecration in 1 Samuel.
1 Samuel 4 recounts about a war between Philistines and Jews. The first ones killed 30 000 Jews and took the Ark of the Covenant. Maybe the desecration was intended to prove that their "god", Dagon, which temple was in Ashdod, was the one who defeated Israel's God? Observe 1 Samuel 5:
"After the Philistines had captured the ark of God, they took it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. Then they carried the ark into Dagon’s temple and set it beside Dagon"
"When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! They took Dagon and put him back in his place. But the following morning when they rose, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! His head and hands had been broken off and were lying on the threshold; only his body remained. That is why to this day neither the priests of Dagon nor any others who enter Dagon’s temple at Ashdod step on the threshold"
"The Lord’s hand was heavy on the people of Ashdod and its vicinity; he brought devastation on them and afflicted them with tumors"
If you have a cat or cats, and they use to go out, it is probable that they come to you with a "war booty", dead little birds or mice, which they have hunted down. It seems to be that they want to show us, "look what I can do". In the same way the Philistines took the Ark of the God of Israel and put it at Dagons feet. Did they intended to present it as a war booty? We don't know. But we certainly know that Dagon's statue was broken, and that many people among the Philistines in Ashdod, Gath and Ekron became sick or die, because of the desecration of the Ark of the Covenant.
The Philistines were idolaters, which means that they worshiped false gods, Dagon for one. But the desecration of the Ark of Israel's God showed them that "this God" was another kind, which you don't desecrate unpunishedly. Idolatry is in itself a desecration, because God's children are called to be holy because our God is holy, and when people worship idols - demons indeed, because an idol is only a figure of an unclean spirit, not the Spirit of God - is to desecrate ourselves. In Daniel 4:5-6 (NIV 8-9) in this site you can read about it, how idolatry in Israel caused their fall and their captivity in Assyria and Babylonia.
The church has also tolerated many forms of idolatry during its existence. The Protestant Reformation established the "five solae" to purge Christian doctrine from unholy uses. One of this "solae" is "Solus Christus", from latin and meaning "Only Christ" or "Only through Christ" (we get salvation, we approach God) Based on 1st Timothy 2:5 ("For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus") this "solus" establishes that the only one who is God among us is the man Jesus Christ, and the only mediator between God and mankind. When somebody prays to Mary or to Paul, John or Peter (the "saints") it is idolatry. Those saints of God did die, and their bodies were decomposed in their tombs. Their souls in heaven are waiting for the resurrection of their bodies - that resurrection that only Christ experienced - as the rest of all saints of God (living or death Christians, which some people don't consider "saints" but the Bible does)
In Belshazzar's desecration was not only idolatry involved. Another sin was rebellion against the God of Israel, because that wicked king took holy utensils and made them to sin instruments. Those goblets were meant to a holy function in the temple of Jerusalem, and the king had no divine call which should enable him to use them, even less to use them in the way he did. In Leviticus 10:1-2 we can see that even those, who are called and anointed to a holy ministry before God, can't do their office in a rebellious manner, unpunishedly:
"Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, contrary to his command. So fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord"
Did they drink? Did they want to show that they had got the same authority than their father Aaron, the High Priest? Did they want just to smell the perfume of incense? Regardless which their motivation should be, their rebellion cost them their life. The censers and all utensils in the temple - or the tabernacle - were not there to be used as they want, but as God wants.
In the church we can see the same rebellion in its two millenia of existence. The Word of God, which is holy and is supossed to be studied and preached as God talks to us, has been used to justify sins like polygamy, adultery, fornication and most lately, homosexuality. Marriage is a holy institution which God created for a woman and a man, and has been desecrated with all this uses. And the church has declared heretical sects some groups wich practice polygamy or adultery and consider them licit and no sinful. But we who have lived in the XX century have witnessed the aparition of the abomination of the century: "weddings" in the church which involve two persons of the same gender. Why shall we call "church" a group of persons that trampled the blood of Jesus Christ, make mockery of His holiness, desecrate the Bible and its teachings, and use a ministry which God intended to sanctify marriage, in a wrong way, calling good something that is a sin? That desecration of them will not remain unpunished, as that of Nadab and Abihu, or of the polygamists and adulterous.
Nadab and Abihu were ordained priests. To burn incense was a part of their office. At the sight of the unknowing, they were not sinning. But you can't mock God. He doesn't see images or actions, but the purpose and the heart of those who are involved. In the same way, the ministers in the house of God ar ordained to teach the Bible and to office weddings, but doing this without the Spirit of God has been fatal: some of them have declared "holy" an abomination. Satan is working through this people. Let's pray that the church shall be free from his evil influence.
The Word of God statutes:
The Word of God statutes:
"The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God"
"You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ"
We Christians "belong to Christ". That which causes us to "belong to Christ" is the Spirit of God, Who comes to dwell in us when we confess Jesus Christ as Our Lord and Savior. If you don't have he Spirit, you don't belong to Christ. It doesn't matter if you have got a degree, if you know many verses, whole books or the whole Bible. If you are not guided by the Holy Spirit, your offer is "unauthorized fire" and soon or later you will experience retribution.
We have seen that Belshazzar desecration involved idolatry and rebellion. A last point which illustrates another sin and that we will mention is debauchery. That sin of the king occurred under the influence of alcohol. Remember Ephesians 5:18, " "Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit". We saw that this word "debauchery" comes from the Greek "asotía" - which means "perversity", "wantonness", "profligacy", "dissolution", "wastefulness" - and it is defined as "indulgence in sensual pleasures; excessive or immoral activities involving sex, alcohol, food, or drugs". This "indulgence" has a very bad outcome. "Asotía" caused death and infirmity in the church of Corinth. 1 Corinthians 11:17-22 says:
"In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good"
"In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval"
"So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk. Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God by humiliating those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? Certainly not in this matter!"
The Lord's Supper in that congregation was more a kind of orgy like that of Belshazzar, than a real Lord's Supper, the sacrament He commanded us to observe "until He comes". And Paul says to them that "their meetings are doing more harm than good", and that "differences between them should show the ones with God's approval" - and obviously, without it. About the supper itself, the apostle says that this behavior "he shall not praise", that "it is not the Lord's Supper they eat" and that they are "despising the church of God". In that intended "celebration" the Spirit of God wasn't involved. The outcome of the debauchery: many were sick or dead (see verses 29 and 30 in 1 Co 11)
The Church is the body of Christ. And Christ is not a minister of sin but of sanctification. The Corinthians who desecrated the Lord's Supper got sick and die. The priests who offered unauthorized fire died. The Philistines who tried to steal the Ark of the Covenant, got sick and die. King Belshazzar, who desecrated the goblets of Yahwe's temple, died and lost his kingdom. Babylonia was conquered by Persia.
Do you think that it is OK to drink? That it is OK to celebrate "weddings" which God abhors? That there is someone we can pray to, besides the Holy Trinity? That you can use objects or take part in rituals supossed to be holy, as you want? That we can seek support in the Scriptures for our own wrong opinions? Let no one deceive you; every desecration shall receive its retribution.
Let me tell you something God has shown us. In heaven aren't welcome Catholics or Protestants, Jehova's Witness or Adventists, Presbyterians or Baptists, Pentecostals or Mormons, Orthodox of Copts. Men talk about "Christians" and "denominations" without knowing what is church or what is a sect. But God calls Christians those who have received Jesus Christ as the Lord and the Savior of their lives, and who have received the Holy Spirit, the One who seals us to be redeemed from sin (Ephesians 4:30) No denomination can save us from hell. Only Christ can save.
If you have not yet received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, today is the day! It doesn't matter if you have desecrated something because of ignorance; the Lord is slow to anger and abounding in love. Your sin hasn't got a fulminant punishment, as Nadab and Abihu got, because God doesn't want you to get lost. He want everybody to repent. It doesn't matter which ones your sins are; Christ is the solution. All you need to do is pray, "Lord Jesus, my sins have make me to go astray, and I know that You and Your Word have become strange to me. Forgive me for my offense against Your Holiness. Wash me with that blood which was shed on Calvary's cross, wash my sins away, fill me with Your Holy Spirit, make me a son, a heir of God's promises and eternal life. Write my name in the Book of Life. In Your Holy Name. Amen"
Don't let your salvation for another day! Christ can come at any moment, and the Great Tribulation can begin on earth. It will be a catastrophe and crisis as the world haven't seen from the birth of mankind. Receive Jesus, and be free from condemnation!
May the Lord bless you. In the love of Christ, your brother
PS. Jesus is coming soon!