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Right Worship, Wrong God - Daniel 3:1-7 - In Babylon

Made for More / Mercy Hil Church
The Truth Network Radio
May 13, 2023 8:00 am

Right Worship, Wrong God - Daniel 3:1-7 - In Babylon

Made for More / Mercy Hil Church

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May 13, 2023 8:00 am

Being a Christian today takes courage, backbone, and faith just as it did in Daniel’s time. If we are going to thrive for the mission in Babylon, we need a clear view of who God is.


All right. Well, hey, guys, across all of our locations, if you have a copy of scripture, you can take it out and turn with me to Daniel chapter three. That's where we're going to be today.

And as you guys are finding Daniel chapter three, I've got some really cool news for us today. Across all of our campuses, we get a chance to celebrate something together, which is pretty incredible. And I know that some of you might not realize that we are a multisite church. If you're brand new, you don't realize that we meet in six different locations all across the triad. But when something really awesome happens in one of those locations, we get a chance to celebrate it across all those locations.

And we had something really cool happen that I just want to take a minute and celebrate. Guys, our our vision really from the very beginning of Mercy Hill, we have this crazy vision of seeing, you know, hopefully seeing multisite churches. But one of them that we really wanted to pray for and see was we really hope that we would have an opportunity to see an expression of our church happen in a different language, particularly in Spanish. We know there's a lot of Hispanic influence here in the triad, and we really felt like that would be an influential thing. I was part of a church that had a Spanish campus and we saw what was able to come from that and just the impact there. And man, I wanted that here. I'm talking about day one, year one, we were praying for some of this stuff.

And in twenty twenty one, we got a chance to launch Mercy Hill in Espanola. They are thriving, guys, to services over 100 people. All right. Coming. They've seen seven baptisms this year already.

All right. But here's the cool thing is what we're going to celebrate today. Guys, two weeks ago, Pastor Javier Magdi and their family, they became U.S. citizens.

Can you guys praise and praise God with me for this? Man, what they have. Listen, they have been working for this for months and months and months. And man, they have people praying all over the place. They had our staff praying and we are just so happy for them and excited for them. And we just want to say to them, you know, Pastor Javier Magdi, we love you guys so much. And we see the impact that you're making. And today is a really cool day because not only do we get to embrace you as brothers and sisters in Christ, but also as our fellow Americans. And man, we're just so pumped for you guys. So if you get a chance to see them or comment on something or whatever, man, let's just be really excited for them and all that.

All right. Daniel, chapter three is where we're going to be today. Remember, this series is for anyone who has ever found themselves thinking, God, where are you?

Are you on the throne? If you've ever thought to yourself, this culture feels like it's going to hell in a handbasket. There's great news for us today, and that is that we aren't the first generation of Christians to wake up in Babylon. And that's what we've been looking at over the last few weeks. And that's certainly we're going to look at this weekend. Now, today, in Daniel, chapter three, we are going to start a two part series within the series.

OK, so I'm just going to go ahead and say it. We're only going to get through a little bit of this magnificent story today. This is funny. The story is the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. OK, although I'm not even going to read their names from scripture today.

All right, because we're doing the setup today and then we're going to get into their stand. Guys, this is funny. Even if you're not a believer, you probably have heard of this story. Their stand that they took on the plains of Shinar has echoed throughout history for twenty six hundred years.

So much so that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego's names will autocorrect on your Microsoft Word at home. Like even Microsoft knows the story. OK, so so many of us probably have heard something of this story. But here's what we got to see today.

We're going to set this up today and we'll talk about their part of the story next week. But here's the thing. If we're going to take a stand in the way that they took a stand, we're going to need what they need, what they had. And what they had is a simple belief that God was God and other things were not God. It feels like a simple thing, but that's it. If we're going to have steel in the spine, backbone, courage, be able to stand in a culture that is continually asking us to bow, we've got to have what they had.

And what they had was a simple, childlike understanding and belief that there is a God. And what's up there on that pole that's being asked of me to bow down to is not him. And that's it.

Now, once we have that, we can move into practical application about how we stand and all that kind of stuff. We'll talk about that next week. This week, we're not going to talk about the ones that stood. We're going to talk about the ones that hit their face in the dirt and bowed to the culture that was around him. See, those people actually had the right response. They just were worshiping the wrong God. It was the right worship. It was the wrong God.

The right worship is I fall down before you and I'm subject to you. You created me. I didn't create you. I'm here for your glory. You're not here for mine. I'm here to serve you. You're not here to serve me.

This world don't revolve around me. It spoke. You spoke and it came into existence. So therefore, yes, my posture is prostrate before you. It was the right worship.

It was the wrong God. And some of us find ourselves in that very place even today. And I've been there before. We've all been there before. This is, I hope, what we're going to see today. Y'all, our worship is reserved for God alone. There is a right worship, but only directed towards the right God.

Standing or bowing is going to come next week. And I get that. We need to talk about that. And that's one of the more famous parts of this story, why these brothers have their name written in Microsoft Word.

OK. But what we got to get before that is what did they have in terms of a belief about who God was? And that's what enabled them to be able to stand.

And I hope that we can see that today. Y'all, many of us, myself included, at times in our life, we chase things in the world as if they were God. And they're not God.

They're created by God. And when we do that, we're no different than the people who put their face in the dirt on the plains of Shinar. We're bowing down. We're facing. We're chasing.

We're putting our face down. And we're worshiping at an idol that is actually not God. And what we're going to see today is worship is reserved for him.

Let us worship him rightly. All right. Here's what I want to do. I want to read this whole story. All right. We're going to read it's only seven verses. So I'm going to read this part of the story. I mean, that we're going to get into this weekend and then we'll go back and we'll just kind of parse it out.

A little bit of a running commentary today. All right. We're just going to walk and talk, walk and talk. And then towards the end, we're going to get into this concept of right worship here.

OK, here we go. King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold whose height was 60 cubits and breadth was six cubits. He set it up on the plain of Duro in the province of Babylon. Then King Nebuchadnezzar sent to gather the satraps and the prefects and the governors and the counselors and the treasurers, the justices, the magistrates and all the officials of the provinces to come to the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. All the important people who represent all the people.

So all the people are going to be here, at least in representation. Then the satraps, the prefects, the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the justices, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces gathered for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. And they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up and the herald proclaimed aloud, you are commanded, O peoples, nations and languages, that when you hear the sound of the horn, the pipe, the lyre, the trigon, heart, bagpipe and every kind of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. And whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. Therefore, as soon as all the peoples heard the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, heart, bagpipe and every kind of music, all the peoples, nations and languages fell down and worshiped the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. Now, I know maybe some of you are brand new this weekend.

If so, I would really encourage you to try to go back and catch up, because I like to try to play catch up a little bit, but it kind of builds, OK, as we go through. So the end of chapter two, if you weren't here, the end of chapter two was kind of like this. Nebuchadnezzar acknowledges their God. So now it's time for them to return the favor. OK, so the dream is revealed. Oh, great. Your God is the God. OK, well, now my God is going to be the God. And so now we're all going to get together.

And now you guys are going to worship my God now. And so he sets up this statue. Exactly. What was the statue? That has been something that's been debated and there is no answer to it.

Exactly. OK, we're not totally sure what the statue was. We know how big it was. It was 90 feet tall by 10 feet wide.

So that's very odd looking. I mean, it's just a straight up kind of statue, very large for ancient statues. This is 30 feet higher than the Sphinx.

OK, in Egypt. This is about 70 feet higher than General Nathaniel Green in downtown Greensboro. OK, so it's really tall, really big. It's very narrow. It's only 10 feet. Many people have said that it probably was a base of which some kind of image was on the top.

It's kind of what it was. Actually, there was a French archaeologist that found something in the very same area when I was saying plains of China. I mean, just this idea of right around Babylon.

OK, nobody knows exactly, but right around, you know, found a 40 foot, 40 foot tall, kind of same similar dimensions that may have been a base for something or whatever. But maybe I don't know. OK, this is not an archaeology lesson. It's a theology lesson.

And a theology mind has to say, OK, wait a minute. What do I think the statue is based on my study of Daniel before? Because I've been reading Daniel.

Right. We've been reading it. We've been thinking about it. We've been preaching on it.

We've been talking about it. OK, well, here's the theology lesson. Why was the statue made entirely of gold? Because the dream that Nebuchadnezzar had, it was only his head that was made of gold.

You understand? And so I think what is happening here, and I could be wrong, but I feel pretty strong about this, that Nebuchadnezzar has simply set up the exact statue that he saw in his dream, with one exception, the whole thing is going to be gold. Instead of it going gold, bronze all the way down to clay and having this little stone, if you remember, that can crumble the whole thing and then God's kingdom grow into a mountain. I think what is going on here is Nebuchadnezzar is saying, actually, we'll just see about that. My kingdom and the kingdom after me and the kingdom after me and the kingdom after me, we will be the ones.

We sang this earlier. I think Nebuchadnezzar is saying, no, no, my name will be the one that has no rival. My name will be the one that has no equal.

And I think that's probably what's going on here. What we see in this passage, and this is what I want to make sure that we understand, is that in the human heart, there is a war for worship. What will we give our allegiance to? Who is worthy of sitting on the throne for all time?

Is it God and his kingdom, or is it man and what he can build and his kingdom? Now, one of the reasons I really feel pretty strongly about maybe the way I'm even interpreting this is a little nugget that I on purpose left out in Daniel chapter two, and that is that we see an allusion to another story in the Bible. I'm going to give it to you and see if you guys can catch up with it.

You don't have to turn there. Daniel 2.7. You remember when Joseph, I mean, Joseph, you remember when Daniel was interpreting the dream? Here's what he said to Nebuchadnezzar, if you remember. You, O king, the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven, listen, has given the kingdom the power and the might and the glory. And to whose hand he has given, wherever they dwell, the children of man, the beasts of the field, and the birds of heaven, making you rule over them all. You are the head of gold. You know what's another way to say you rule them all? You have dominion over them.

What is this setting up? You know, there was another guy who was given dominion over the beasts of the field and the birds of the air. There was another guy who was given the image of God. There was another guy who was made a vice king on this world.

But you know what, Adam, if you didn't catch it yet, Adam did the same thing Nebuchadnezzar did. It's not enough to have your image. It's not enough to be given dominion. I want your throne. I don't want to serve you. I want everybody else to serve me. It's not going to be about me here for your kingdom.

Your image isn't good enough. Your dominion is not good enough. I want your throne. This is the war of worship in our heart.

It's not just Adam. It's not just Nebuchadnezzar. Y'all, every one of us that are fallen in this human condition, which is all of us that are in the room here and at our campuses today, there is a war for worship. Whose kingdom are we living for? You can say it like this. Are you seeking to build my kingdom or are you seeking to build thy kingdom? You know? Like, that's the question we've got to ask ourselves. Is it about my kingdom, God, or is it about your kingdom?

And it comes into view pretty quick. Maybe when our young families bow to the idol of materialism and they decide that this neighborhood is worth living in, even if it means I will have no margin to give, I won't be able to help my neighbors, I won't be able to, it's crazy amounts of debt and all that. And they just, but I've got to live here. It's my kingdom, not thy kingdom. You know, when our young people, I think about, you know, maybe some of our young women are like, man, I know this isn't a godly man. He isn't known. He doesn't want to come around my community. It's always, I got to go on his turf. He doesn't want to be known by the men in this church, people in my community group that love me and care about me. He never talks about the Bible, although he says he's a Christian.

It feels pretty unequally yoked, and you know that, but maybe you're just going to date him anyway. Is it about your kingdom? Is it my kingdom or thy kingdom? This is the war of worship. Now, what we think is it's all about behavior. Your behavior is the downstream of what we adore and what we love and what we worship and what we say we will bow to.

It's been said by many theologians, you never break any other commandment without having already broken the first one, to have no other gods before God. And so it's really about kingdom. It's about this concept of who am I going to live for? What is worthy of the object? What is worthy to be the object of my worship? It really starts there. For Nebuchadnezzar, I think he's trying to set it up as, man, I'm the guy, you know, it's about my kingdom.

Well, we're going to see. And the herald proclaimed aloud, you are commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, that when you hear the sound of the hornpipe, lyre, trigone, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. And whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into the burning fiery furnace. Now, Nebuchadnezzar, it seems like, is pretty serious about overturning this dream, okay? And it's like, nope, it's going to be my kingdom and I'm going to unite my kingdom under the worship of, it's hard to know. I mean, because some people have said, well, maybe the statue actually was an image of his God or whatever, it's hard to know. Either way, he is going to unite the kingdom under worship under his direction towards a God that is not God.

We're going to worship something that's not, and this is how he is going to unify his kingdom. And he gives the people one of the most terrifying object lessons of all time, which is we got this probably the same furnace that we used to make the statue is going to be the one that we dump you into if you don't bow down and worship. And I can just see it, it's crackling, it's there for everybody to see. I don't know why this popped in my head, but this kind of concept of object lesson, keep you in line, I just have that, I hear that, I don't know how many of your dads had that perfected like belt that just popped, just like that, you know what I'm talking about? They didn't have to spank you very many times with it, because that pop, you knew what it meant, right? And it's this concept of like, hey, every once in a while, you need to hear that noise because it's kind of an object lesson of what, well, this is, I mean, think about this. It's not just, it's like the actual furnace probably that has made this giant grotesque statue is now there.

And he says, hey, if you don't fall down when I tell you to, you're going to be thrown in. Now, one of the things I think we could say here is that when God is not on his throne and man is on his throne, things get crazy, okay? And we see it in our world today. I mean, I want you to just think about this. How many people would have been there? I mean, the Israelites absolutely would have said this. I mean, they would have known. You can go back in their literature, they would be like, oh, you kind of made the thing. I mean, how many people are standing there going like, wait a minute, okay, you made that from that, but I'm supposed to worship it as if it's God. That doesn't quite, right, it doesn't quite compute. It's like, it almost seems like Nebuchadnezzar, if you made the God, it seems like maybe you would be God, not the thing that you made, but I know you're not God, because like everybody else, Psalm 103, your life's a vapor and you will wither like grass. I know you're not God, and I know this isn't God, but I'm gonna fall down and worship it like it is. Things get crazy when God's not on his throne. You're asked to believe a bunch of things that you're just looking at going like, eh.

I don't think that quite, right? And that's what's going on here. But the music begins to play, and as the music begins to play, we're gonna see all these people fall down. One thing I want to tell you guys, especially for the believers in the room, maybe for the skeptics that are here too, we have both at every one of our services, I'm sure, but this is interesting. You may hear this sometimes.

I just want to fortify you against it and make sure that you're strengthened in this way. There are people who look at all the different lists of instruments here. This is just a little bit of a side note, okay? All these lists of instruments, and there have been people that have tried to date this book hundreds and hundreds of years later than it was actually written, because they say those instruments were Greek and the Greek instruments wouldn't have been there and been present. They're saying that it's an anachronism. Hey, this got written in later as if it was part of the story, but it actually is from a different era. One of the things that I think that I want to just tell our church this weekend about things like this, it's just as simple as this.

Y'all, sometimes when you're thinking about biblical argumentation, it's really as simple as just using the little two bits of sense you got in your head that God gave you, okay? Here's the question that I want to ask you today. How on God's green earth can anybody possibly know the specific flutes that made their way into Babylon from being around Greek culture in 600 BC? Can anybody possibly know that on earth? You're looking at me like you're not sure. The answer is no, okay? I'm gonna tell you.

The answer is no. I mean, this is what's crazy. Sometimes in our hubris, we will look back and make these types of claims and then call them scientific or archeological.

How in the world could anybody know? We know that Babylonian culture mixed with Greek culture before the time of Alexander the Great. I mean, you've got fringe society. You've got people that are intermixing. How could we possibly know what exact instruments would have been there or even what they're calling them and all of this kind of stuff?

My point is sometimes we look back with such certainty and it shows me such hubris. I don't know if you guys have seen this in your kid's textbook. I mean, you find a toenail of a dinosaur.

Next thing you know, there's a whole artist rendition of it. We've got a toenail of it. We've got one little bone. Well, it lived it this time and then it evolved to be a bird and then if a kid says, that don't make a lot of sense, they're anti-science.

It's like, man, we need to have a little bit, Christians are anti-science by no means, but Christians have a little bit of humility about all human enterprises. We kind of look back and we're kind of like, yeah, I'm not really sure you could build a whole argument off of the bagpipe, okay? I'm not really sure that's where we want to go here.

Babylonian and Greek culture, they would have mixed. Who knows exactly what is being talked about here? Either way, not a great thing to, not a great reason if you're going to try to date this book in a later time. All right, but again, this is not archeology or science. This is theology. So let me ask you a theological question.

Who is there and what is happening? Well, let me read it again. Verse four, the herald proclaimed aloud, you are commanded, this is important theologically, all right? Oh, peoples, nations and languages. In other words, if you've been around church, you might read it like this, from every tribe, tongue, nation and language, that's who's there.

These are people that are represented from all the peoples. Now, this is what I have in my mind, all right? What we've got to understand, especially if you're new to the faith, and I know there's some new families that are around and people have just gotten baptized, here's what you got to understand about the Bible, all right? It is one book. It's one story that's made up of a thousand different stories, but it's one story. And in that one story, there are things that begin and end, and you kind of see the arc of what's going on.

And this is one of those things. Now, listen, the reason I was kind of talking about the language of Plains of Shinar, I don't know exactly where this happened. It happened somewhere in Babylon, okay?

But the reason I was intentional about that language is because that's the language where this story actually played out the first time in Genesis chapter 11. See, I just imagine, this is what I imagine, okay? We're not getting into them this week, this is next week, but I imagine Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and they're standing there and they're going like, wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute, okay?

You got people from every tribe, tongue, and language. You got this big giant tower, for lack of a better term, kind of there. We're supposed to worship that, although it's not the real God.

I just think Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, if you're a VeggieTale fan, Rach, Shach, and Benny, okay? And they're thinking to themselves, wait a minute, I've seen this, I've heard this story before. Yes, you have heard this story before. It's the story of the Tower of Babel. What happened in Genesis chapter 11 is incredibly significant. You can't really understand the end of the Bible if you don't understand the beginning of the Bible. And the beginning of the Bible says, wait a minute, all the people of the whole earth gathered themselves in rebellion against God. They built a tower to say, we will be like God, Nebuchadnezzar, my kingdom, not the stone and the mountain, but my kingdom will be forever, and you will worship my kingdom, all right? That this will be what we will worship. We will be God's, we will have the kingdom. And God, what did he do?

He scattered them across the whole earth. But then what happens in Genesis chapter 12? The next story is one day there will come a savior, and that savior will be a blessing to all of the families, the people groups, the languages of the whole earth.

So if I'm, you know, Rach, Shach, and Benny, okay? If you're sitting there, you're like, wait a minute now. All right, we've been told our entire life, one day a savior's gonna come for all the families of the earth, and every family will be blessed in this, and we'll have an opportunity to worship. This looks kind of right, doesn't it? It's like everybody's there, and there's somebody, they're all, and there's music playing, and there's worship, right worship.

Wait a minute, something's wrong. Oh, that's what's wrong, wrong God. It's the right worship, but it's the wrong God.

See, the right God in the middle, all the people music playing looks a little more like this. Revelation 7, nine. After this, I look to behold a great multitude that no one could number from every nation, from all the tribes, from all the peoples, all languages standing before the throne and before the lamb, clothed in white robes with palm branches in their hands and crying out with a loud voice, salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne and to the lamb. Daniel chapter three gives us a foreshadowing of what the whole world is about.

What is it about? God creating a people from all the peoples for his possession to worship him. They had the right worship, wrong God. One day, this is gonna play out again.

It's gonna play out just like this. Can I just tell you something? I'm telling you, and I hope you're following this. Listen, it was not until I was in my 20s and in a seminary classroom that I fully understood God's heartbeat for the world. I understood missions because I was a Southern Baptist kid and we go, okay? What I mean is I didn't quite understand that God intended to be glorified not by all the people that get saved but by all the peoples who are represented around the throne. You've heard somebody say before, well, we got a lot of lost people here. Why don't we just, you know, there's unreached people there. They've never even heard the gospel. We got a lot of lost people here because you're thinking in terms of people and the Bible thinks in terms of peoples, people groups, this picture, a multitude not just of the myriads of myriads but of the myriads of myriads of every tribe, tongue, nation, and language. And this is what's cool. It was this story that had it pop for me in a missions class my first semester in seminary.

And I hope it pops for you. You know, that's why we have a heartbeat at this church. We wanna send 500 missionaries by 2032. I mean, that's the drum that we beat.

That's what I'm thinking about when I'm driving to work in the mornings. Man, how do we send? We want at least a fifth of them to be people who go and learn new tongues so they can reach new peoples. That's what we wanna see. Why? Because this is what it's about.

Man, it's every tribe or tongue or bust. This is the picture. It's supposed to be the lamb that is in the center instead of these idols. This is why we get so fired up about stories. Guys, we have two of the sent out ones from Mercy Hill.

This is really cool, okay? Two of the ones from Mercy Hill sent out accepted a short-term team from New City Church, which is the church plant that we sent out. So now we got a short-term team going back with family, you know, to the mission field that we were at South Asia now, and they go and they share the gospel in this particular village. And there's a woman there who is clearly afflicted with demonic possession. And they're praying for her.

And she's actually kind of, she's sort of faked being a believer some and come out of that and faked some and come out of that. And they prayed for her and they went back to the village. They prayed for her again.

A few months later, after that short-term team left, one of the two that I was talking about are from Mercy Hill. They go back to that village and she has become a believer. She's sitting in her right mind. She's been delivered from the demonic possession. She said to them, I know that I was faking being a believer.

I did not have the spirit. And she said, I remember when those teams came and prayed over me. Their daughter was bringing her to the church.

The son was bringing her to the church for prayer. And they had a chance to pray over her, see her delivered and get saved. This is what it's about for us.

I mean, this is what, nothing excites our heart more than this, why? Because we know one day, all tribes and tongues will come together in the praise, not of Nebuchadnezzar and the kingdoms of this world. No, the lamb is who they will praise. Psalm 2, the kingdoms of this world will have already been shattered and passed away. But we will see this one day and we pray for that.

And I hope that you're praying for that as well. Verse seven, look what it says. Therefore, as soon as all the peoples heard the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe and every kind of music and all the peoples nations and languages fell down and worshiped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. Y'all, this is the crux of the whole thing. You know, in preaching, you're supposed to walk across the bridge. You got to figure out, we're talking about something 2,600 years ago. How do you walk across the bridge in today, okay? And this is the part, this is the crux of it. This is the whole deal, right?

Let me ask you a question, try to set it up. Do you believe, do I believe, I don't know how many people were there, hundreds maybe, I don't know, okay. Do you believe this multitude of people that fell down before this idol who saw the furnace that the idol was made in, okay? How many of them that fell down and worshiped that idol honestly believed that that idol was a god?

Now here's where I'm going, follow me, okay? I don't know, probably a lot of them. All of them, but they bowed anyway, why? This is why. They didn't bow to this statue as god, but they all bowed because of what they believed about god. Because everybody has a god. You know why they bowed?

It wasn't all for the same reason. Some may have thought it was god. Some may have thought to themselves, I want the king's favor. And you know what, being loved by the king is the most important thing in the world to me.

And if being known by the king and loved by the king is the most important thing to you, that is your god. You may have bowed, maybe to that statue, or maybe because you idolized the king's favor, or maybe because financial security and safety, is if I bow, man, I got a good gig, I'm a governor, okay? If I bow down, the gravy train keeps coming, right? And here's the thing.

What I actually care about the most in my life is safety and security, which is represented in dollars. And so, yeah, play the music, I'll bow. I'm not really thinking this is god, but I'll do whatever you say, because I've got a god. Safety and security, that's my god.

Maybe physical health of these people or their family, that's my god. So sure, I'll bow. You could say it like this. While everyone bowed to this idol, they may not have all bowed for the same reason. And that's why we've got to talk about idolatry here.

And this is the idea that I brought up in the very intro. Before we talk about courage and take a stand and don't bow down, we've got to talk about who is god. In your life, you're thinking idol is only a statue and incense, I can understand that.

I've been in places in the world where that was true. But I'll tell you this, the frat guy who lives for, all he lives for all day, all night is the party. That's all he thinks about is where all of his money goes. That's all he can, that every action is geared toward that. He don't need a statue of a beer bottle to bow down to.

He's got an idol. It's the same thing with us. Anything that we love, security, identity, that we really think, man, I'm going to be okay if this is never taken from me. Man, those are things that we were only supposed to find in the loving arms of God. And ever since the garden and sin and shame and exposure comes around, you know what we do? Many times we're running around looking for the things that we can only find in the Lord's arms and we're looking for them in money, sex, power.

And they're idols that are in our life. We're not meant to find ultimate love in the arms of relationship after relationship, but we're meant to find it in God. We're not meant to find all of our identity in our kids' success in sports and soccer and all this kind of, in grades and all this stuff. We're meant to find an identity in the one that God has given us. We're not meant to find our security in the numbers on a bank account. We're meant to find our security in God alone. And whenever that's off in our life, there becomes all this smoke, which is behavior, but really it's a worship issue and it's a worship problem. You know, we've got these books across the lobby all weekend, we're not making any money on these books.

Obviously, they're just a resource. It's Counterfeit Gods by Tim Keller, okay? And man, listen, whenever we sell a book, I don't endorse everything somebody has ever said in their whole life, so save the email, okay? Just FYI. But this book, man, it really helps me think about these things really, really well.

And I hope, I mean, if it's something you never picked up, maybe it'll help you as well, all right? Hey, worship God alone, let's finish up like this. Man, I wanna call you to worship God alone. You know, here's the danger with these stories, okay? The danger with these stories, y'all, is that we have heard them so many times in our life that they end up getting stripped of their power because, man, we've just got all the layers that are built up about hearing them and calloused almost, you know what I mean?

And I've shared this story before, but it's a perfect example for me. One time a few years ago, me and my dad were building a horse fence right off of Pleasant Ridge Road and I needed to move some horses and I had rented this pasture from a guy, but it needed a fence and it was, we put up a polywire fence, it was gonna be a temporary thing for maybe a year or something like that. And so, man, we get out there and it was a fun time, we're building this fence, we've been building it all day.

We get totally done. And the last thing we're gonna do before we move the horse is wanna test the fence. Well, of course, we don't have a tester, so I told my dad, I'm like, well, you just touch it. Well, he's like, man, it's your horse, you touch it, okay?

So we did the redneck thing. You pull a piece of grass and you put it on the fence and you kind of feel it popping your fingers when you put a piece of grass on the fence and I couldn't feel it pop at all. And so I was like, well, all right. I was like, you sure you don't wanna touch it now?

He's not gonna touch it. I was like, okay, I'll touch it, all right? And so I'm like, I kind of, you know, you've been shocked before, right? And so I just reached out and touched it, man, and it was the faintest. That's what it felt like, boom, boom, boom.

I looked at my dad and I was like, oh my gosh, we have, it was a solar charger, we never had one. I mean, just to make the point, I grabbed the thing with both hands like this. I'm just holding it. And it's just like going ding, ding, ding in my hands. And I'm kind of getting a little bit stressed out. I'm like, man, what are we gonna do?

We gotta move these two horses tonight and all this kind of stuff. And my dad says, well, he has this really brilliant idea. He's like, hey, well, listen, you know, I've been thinking about this thing. He's like, you're standing there with these rubber boots on touching this thing, okay? He said, man, we know how it feels to you. We gotta figure out how it feels to the horse. I was like, that's really smart, you know?

I mean, that's thinking, that's using your head. I said, well, what do you propose? And he said, well, I propose you take them boots off and then you touch it.

I said, well, that sounds reasonable, you know? So I take the boots off and I'll never forget. I remember it, I'm like, it's so wet out here, you know?

It's like all wet water. So I'm about to touch the fence. I'm about to touch the fence. And right before I touched the fence, he goes, wait, wait, wait. He said, you know, the horse has four points of contact on the ground, not two, okay?

So you may wanna put all fours on and then just like, you know, reach your elbow over. I was like, man, you know, he's a smart cookie, you know? So I was like, all right.

Well, I did it, okay? I hit that, I touched that fence. I don't remember anything else. My dad says the last, all he remembers is I go, it hit me like a two by four, okay?

I go running through the pasture. I'm taking my shirt off yelling, it's coming out my back. It's coming out my back, okay? I mean, it absolutely crushed me, okay? Now, I don't know if you've ever had, you know, an experience like that before, but the reason I tell that story and I've told that story a few times, but the reason I tell that story is, and I don't wanna bring it down, and I know it's kind of a funny story, but the power was there the whole time. The power didn't change.

What changed was the position I was in to receive it, right? Like, man, you gotta strip the layers off. You gotta put your heart in the right posture. This is kind of what I'm trying to get at here. It's like we have heard this story a thousand times before, many of us have. Some of you, you're brand new.

You're hearing it with the weight that it intends and deserves, but others of us that have heard it a million times before, man, we've gotta strip some of that away and hear it fresh for the first time. Can we not see that this story is trying to get us to ask the biggest question? What you believe about God is the most important thing about you, and it's trying to get you to ask that question. Who is God? And what I wanna say to you today, man, is that our God is a God who is worthy to be bowed to.

You know why? Because when he asks, hey, the music's playing, bow down, when you look up at that pole, you don't see a lifeless statue. Well, I'm gonna read it to you again. Revelation 7, 10, crying out in a loud voice, salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne. Listen, and to the lamb. What does that mean? You ever heard the term sacrificial lamb?

This is all he's getting at here. Jesus was the perfect lamb of God who died for our sin. For all the times that we have bowed to materialism, sexual sin, building up of our own identity, Jesus came to die to pay the penalty for all the times that we messed up. Listen, Jesus never bowed to idols one time in his life, but he went to the cross and died for all the times we did.

Yes, music plays. Yes, multitude, myriads, every tribe tongue. When we look up, man, we don't see a lifeless statue. We don't see one who has a rival. Our worship is reserved for the God who loved us enough to send his son for us. So that's my question for you. Who is God to you?

We gotta settle that before we settle any of this other stuff. Who is God to you? Would you bow your heads and close your eyes with me for just a minute at all of our campuses? Maybe you're a young professional today that's really teetering on the edge of bowing to the materialism God, little G. Maybe you're a brother or a sister today who is starting to really have their heart pulled because of all the media you're taking in into another election cycle, the coming of another political savior as if that's God, little G. Maybe you're a college student who are really on the edge of maybe flipping some of the way you view some things in this world, beginning with the way you think about life and compassion and what that actually looks like and the social pressure is mounting because being on quote, the right side of history, whatever that means has become a little G God in your life. We're gonna talk about standing and bowing next week but listen, it all hinges on what you believe about God. Verse four very simply said, a herald stepped forward at the sound of the music, bow all peoples, tribes, tongues, languages. Well you've heard the gospel proclaimed, there is a herald before you today.

Man, only bow to the right God. Father, we come before you at all of our locations. God, we pray this weekend that you will move idolatry out of the hearts and prepare us to take our stand as we talk about this next week. Lord, I pray that our eyes will be fixed firmly on you in Christ's name we pray, amen, amen. Well hey guys, at all of our campuses, we're gonna go ahead and stand now and have a song of response. Now at this time at Mercy Hill, we have a chance every weekend to respond by praying, by bringing and by singing, all right? So you can come forward at all of our campuses and you can pray right here at the altar. You can bring your tithes and offerings to the God who loves you first in this way. Man, we want to give him our first and our best, but today I just want to call you to sing. Maybe there's no greater weapon in removing idolatry from the heart than singing words about God that are true. There's something that happens. And so I pray at all of our campuses today, man, there would be an eruption of praise and singing that comes from all of our locations.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-13 10:15:20 / 2023-05-13 10:34:44 / 19

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