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March 29, 2020 | Doug Sauder
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“You are his successor, O Belshazzar, and you knew all this, yet you have not humbled yourself. For you have proudly defied the Lord of heaven and have had these cups from his Temple brought before you. You and your nobles and your wives and concubines have been drinking wine from them while praising gods of silver, gold, bronze, iron, wood, and stone—gods that neither see nor hear nor know anything at all. But you have not honored the God who gives you the breath of life and controls your destiny!”—Daniel 5:22-23 (NLT)
How many times have we placed the Lord second, third, or even last in our lives? How many times have we let friends, significant others, jobs, church, ministry, you name it, become idols in our lives?
In a world that’s always demanding our attention, that equates busyness with worth and pressures us into doing and being distracted, it’s easy to allow lesser lovers to take His place in our hearts. We need to return to our first and greatest love because HE is calling us back.
In today’s Scripture, we see Daniel bring a convicting word to King Belshazzar about his disobedience to the Lord. To give context, King Belshazzar and his nobles were praising idols while drinking wine from the cups King Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple in Jerusalem.
A human hand wrote on the wall and it frightened the king. Daniel was asked to interpret the writing, which read, “Mene, Mene, Tekel, and Parsin.” Daniel relayed that it meant God would end the king’s reign because he didn’t measure up, and his kingdom would be divided and handed over to the Medes and Persians. That same night he was killed.
Exodus 20:5 (NLT) says, “You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods.” Jealous here doesn’t mean envy; it’s used to portray that God is zealous for His bride, displaying a passionate, fiery love that He will not share with anyone or anything.
God does NOT tolerate idolatry. He gives us the opportunity to repent from indulging in our other “gods.” But the more time we let pass, the harder the fall. So, if we insist on putting other things before Him, it’s only a matter of time before we come to the end of ourselves and feel pain and emptiness when those things ultimately let us down. It’s in those moments that God meets us. He reveals to us a deeper measure of His love and shows us that He is the only one who can fill us in every way we could ever need and want.
We’re constantly longing and yearning for things—a title, money, friends, ministry, marriage, children, etc. Those things aren’t inherently wrong. They’re good gifts from God to us, but when they’ve become our god, we stray away from the very thing we were created for—to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30). So, let’s go back to God—the greatest love we’ll ever know and experience.
DIG: Look up the word jealous in the original language as attributed to God. What does this show you about God’s love?
DISCOVER: Where has idolatry crept into your life?
DO: Today, ask the Lord to search your heart for any idols that have occupied His place. Let’s humble ourselves before Him, asking Him to soften our hearts and surrender those things that cost us. If it costs us, it probably is an idol. Repent and give Him your heart. He doesn’t condemn; He’s kind, loving, patient, and quick to forgive. Allow Him to be the Lord of ALL in your life, your first love. You won’t be disappointed because He’s worth it every single time.