Daniel 5:20-21

Are you in prison?

Maybe you are indeed. If you're reading this text from a correctional institution or another form of captivity, the Lord has a word of comfort for you, and of deliverance for your soul (just keep reading!)

The very first idea which comes to our minds with the words "prision" and "captivity" is that of the lack of freedom. The Babylonians took the Jews as captives. The Romans took Greeks and many others from the nations they conquered, as captives. America's colonists took Africans as captives. And justice in every country usually put in prison those persons which commit crimes of different kinds. Whatever the situation in which you are in captivity, you'll have no rights and have to obey a special system of rules for your daily life, which is dictated by those who took away your freedom. The daily life of a prisoner makes a strong impact upon his spirit and his soul, which can transform him in a different person.

But maybe you are not in any correctional institution. Maybe you enjoy a real home, the company of a family, a job from which you get your incomes, the right to vote in elections (if you're living in a democracy, of course) etc. But the material "prisons", those we can see and touch, are not the only ones.

Observe the words of the psalmist in Psalms 84:10:

"Better is one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked"

"In the tents of the wicked" is the rendering of "be-okholé reshá", where "reshá" means the quality of evil, wickedness. So, the author is contrasting the house of God with those where evil people dwell. But it is not all.
In the book of Acts we read about a story where the apostle Peter rebuked a sorcerer, Simon by name, who wanted to buy the power of the Holy Spirit. Before his conversion, Simon was a known figure among the people in his community, and when he saw that the apostles performed powerful signs and wonders in the power of the Spirit, he wanted to "be someone" again, now among Christians. But Peter told him he was a "captive of sin" (Acts 8:23) and that he had to repent of his wickedness.

Did Simon live in a prison?`Obviously not. Which "captivity" was in Peter's mind?

The Word of God compares our body to an "earthly tent" (2 Corinthians 5:1) and "a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit" (Ephesians 2:22) Those verses show us that we are dwelling places, and that the Spirit of God wants to dwell in these "rums" (which are ourselves)

But, who dwells in those "tents of the wicked", then? Observe what 2 Peter 2:4 says about it (you can praise the Lord) :

"For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment"

Those "angels which sinned" are called "fallen angels" or "demons" in other passages, and their leader is Satan. Because they are spirits, they are looking for a dwelling place in humans - in the NT we can even find a story where they sought dwell even in a herd of pigs. Those "gloomy dungeons" which Peter is referring to are the same prison where Simon dwelt, his own body, soul and spirit. "Satan's prisoner" is deprived from his freedom and his rights too, and have to live under those wishes his evil master have.

But there is a difference between this spiritual prison and physical captivity. You can be a captive but even remain free in your spirit. Daniel and his friends resisted their "babylonization" and, even as captives, kept themselves free to serve their God. Paul and Silas, in Acts 16:19-31 (you can read it before you continue) were free in their spirit to praise God even in jail, and to use their freedom gave them deliverance. But spiritual captivity keeps you a prisoner, even when you think you're free. Simon the sorcerer thought he was free, like the apostles - he just wanted to buy the power to do the same things they did - and in the same way, many ungodly ones which are doing Satans job in this world. They think they are free to do what they do.

The Jewish people were taken captive to Babylonia - must of them - because of their sin, because of being living in "prison". But in the book of Jeremiah, the chapter 29 is a letter that the prophet - the same prophet who prophesied about this captivity - calls them to go on with their lives as they should do in their land, because after 70 years they would be free again. This letter is a call to leave the spiritual prison (which has its origin in idolatry) or to avoid to fall in that prison (as Daniel and his friends did in Babylonia, rejecting idolatry)

Observe how Daniel describes the spiritual prison where Nebuchadnezzar fell because of his pride in chapter four:

Daniel 5:20-21:

"But when his heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and stripped of his glory. He was driven away from people and given the mind of an animal; he lived with the wild donkeys and ate grass like the ox; and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven, until he acknowledged that the Most High God is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and sets over them anyone he wishes"






If you compared NIV with the Aramaic from the original, then you've seen that the English rendering is excelent. The "mind" in verse 21, "heart" in the original, is a very good change, because it was not the physical heart which was transformed to that of an animal, but his spirit, soul, psyche which became animal.

Could this happen to us? Does our mind get impacted because we are living in a spiritual prison?

Observe the words of the apostle Paul to the Romans in the first chapter of the letter he wrote to them:

"The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse"

"For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles"

"Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator - who is forever praised. Amen"

"Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error"

"Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them"

Romans 1:18-32

You can see that what happens with the ungodly ones, "their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened" is similar to that which happened to Nebuchadnezzar, "his heart became arrogant and hardened with pride". The vanity or pride causes that God gives them over to a "depraved mind", as He did with Nebuchadnezzar. Besides homosexual relationship, which are referred too in this passage, there is a long list of sins which are the consequence of that "depraved mind".

Why does God do this? Maybe He wants to send them to hell, and to condemn them to eternal death?

NO. God is love. He wants the sinners to be save, not to be lost. That's why He sent His Only Son to die for oss on a cross, because of our sins, not because of His sins, because He never sinned.

The spiritual prison of the ungodly is described as "to become a fool" and "change Gods glory for images of men or animals". This leads to "exchange the truth about God for a lie" and to "degrade their bodies with one another", which is God's definition of sexual relationship between persons of the same gender (the "shameful lusts")

God is not the one who administers your mind. In this life on earth, He doesn't even owns it. He gave you freedom to choose what you would do in this life. When Paul writes that God "gives them over to a depraved mind", it doesn't mean that God turns people to be evil, but that He leaves them to live in wickedness. He doesn't force someone to receive Jesus or to live in His Word.

And as Nebuchadnezzar's dwelling place was "with the wild donkeys", that of the ungodly is a "prison", a "gloomy dungeon" that the demons use to do what they want. Verses 28-32 in Romans 1 - last paragraph in the prevous cite - describe that "depraved mind" where God leaves the ungodly. Read it here:

"Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them"

Maybe you think, "but that's not my mind. No one's mind is like that". Well, if you're thinking that the meaning is that the ungodly "are filled" with ALL those things, maybe you could be right. But it is not the meaning. It is a long list because it is including many kinds of depraved minds. The greedy ones have a depraved mind, the ones who disobey their parents have a depraved mind, the envious have a depraved mind, the adulterers have a depraved mind, the liars have a depraved mind, the ones who don't love have a depraved mind, the murderers have a depraved mind.

The very soul of the ungodly is a prison, a "gloomy dungeon".

Why do they come to those prisons?

Romans 1 shows us the answer: they have commmited sin, God judged their wickedness and executed a judgement against them. Nebuchadnezzar got a "disciplinary judgement"; he was in "prison" until he "acknowledged that the Most High God is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and sets over them anyone he wishes". Belshazzar got condemnation, the "condemnatory judgement". His sin was so serious that he didn't get a second chance, no "until..." (something which ends the sentence)

The Lord Jesus is to come. Today is the day flr the ungodly ones to leave their evil ways, to repent from their sins and to change their depraved mind. God's wrath smites this world now with local judgements, and will even pour partial judgements in the Great Tribulation. But the final judgement will come, and the day when nobody can repent, as it happened to Belshazzar.

If you have not received yet Jesus as your Lord and Savior, probably you have been living in a "gloomy dungeon" even without being aware of that. Many persons who think they are free, are indeed in spiritual captivity. I don't know which is your condition, but the Holy Spirit knows. And Jesus wants to set the captives free! Observe His words in Luke 4:18-19:

"“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor”

People living in such conditions are "opressed" by Satan, they need deliverance. The Lord wants to break opression chains, open the doors of your prison, set you free! All you have to do is receive Him as your Lord and Savior. He came to deliver the opressed.

In the love of Jesus, your brother

Israel Leonard

PS. Jesus is coming soon!

Inga kommentarer:

Skicka en kommentar