FOLLOWING CHRIST IN A PRECHRISTIAN WORLD PART V “THE TRUTH ABOUT CONSEQUENCES” … A Sermon By Dick Emery


You can hear Pastor Emery’s sermons here http://www.mohnshill.org

FOLLOWING CHRIST IN A PRECHRISTIAN WORLD PART V
“THE TRUTH ABOUT CONSEQUENCES”
DANIEL 5

A BRITISH POET BY THE NAME OF THOMAS STEARNS ELLIOTT PUT HIS FINGER ON A MAJOR PROBLEM IN OUR WORLD WHEN HE WROTE THESE WORDS; “HUMAN KIND CANNOT BEAR MUCH REALITY” THAT’S ESPECIALLY TRUE WHEN IT COMES TO “THE TRUTH ABOUT CONSEQUENCES.” NO ONE WANTS TO HEAR IT AND IF YOU INSIST ON TALKING ABOUT IT, YOU ARE CONSIDERED TO BE “JUDGEMENTAL.” WE CANNOT, HOWEVER, LONG AVOID THE REALITY THAT BREAKING LAWS OF NATURE, WHETHER PHYSICAL OR MORAL” CARRIES WITH IT CERTAIN CONSEQUENCES.

THE STORY CONTAINED IN DANIEL 5 IS A GRAPHIC ILLUSTRATION OF THE CONSEQUENCES OF SIN. IN THE PREVIOUS MESSAGE (DANIEL 4) WE TALKED ABOUT THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE SIN OF PRIDE. WE ALSO SAW, IN THE PERSON OF NEBUCHADNEZZAR, KING OF ANCIENT BABYLON, THE TRUTH THAT WHEN A PERSON HUMBLES HIMSELF OR HERSELF BEFORE GOD, HE FORGIVES THE SIN OF PRIDE AND DELIVERS A PERSON IN A TRANSFORMATIONAL WAY. THE STORY IN THIS NEXT CHAPTER OF DANIEL’S BOOK ILLUSTRATES JUST THE OPPOSITE. IT SHOWS THAT WHEN A PERSON LETS PRIDE GET THE UPPERHAND IN THEIR LIFE AND REFUSES TO REPENT OF IT, IT LEADS TO DESTRUCTIVE CONSEQUENCES.

THE MAIN CHARACTER OF THE STORY IS ANOTHER KING OF BABYLON NAMED BELSHAZZAR. HE, PROBABLY, WAS A DIRECT DESCENDENT OF NEBUCHADNEZZAR. HE RULED AS A CO-REGENT WITH HIS FATHER NABONIDUS, 25 YEARS AFTER NEBUCHADNEZZAR 9his53BC). SINCE THE TIME OF NEBUCHADNEZZAR’S DEATH THE KINGDOM OF BABYLON HAD DETERIORATED MORALLY, GIVING RISE TO THE SCENE DESCRIBED HERE IN DANIEL 5. THE KINGDOM WAS ON SHAKEY GROUND. IN FACT, THE CONQUEROR, IN THE PERSON OF CYRUS OF PERSIA AND HIS GENERAL DARIUS THE MEDE, WAS AT THE DOOR. THE CITY, BAGDAD, WAS UNDER SIEGE.

PLAY VIDEO CLIP SUMMARIZING THE STORY

WHAT DO WE LEARN ABOUT THE CONSEQUENCES OF UNREPENANT OF SINFUL PRIDE FROM THIS STORY IN DANIEL 5?

• THE ULTIMATE EXPRESSION OF SINFUL PRIDE INVOLVES THREE
THREE THINGS:

1. IDOLATRY BELSHAZZAR AND HIS FRIENDS WERE IDOL WORSHIPERS AND IN THIS SCENE THEY DESECRATED ATRTICLES BROUGHT FROM THE DESTROYED TEMPLE IN JERUSALEM BY USING THEM IN THE WORSHIP OF THEIR FALSE GODS.

IDOLATRY IS JUST AS PRESENT IN OUR MODERN WORLD AS IT WAS IN THAT ANCIENT WORLD. IN OUR PRIDEFUL WORLD IT HAS BEEN MOVED FROM THE SIMPLE AND PRIMITIVE TO THE SOPHISTICATED. IN OUR WORLD PEOPLE WORSHIP MANY IDOLS. AN IDOL IS ANYTHING THAT OCCUPIES THE PLACE IN OUR LIFE THAT IS RIGHTFULLY GOD’S PLACE.

IN THE NEW TESTAMENT BOOK OF ROMANS, THE APOSTLE PAUL WRITES ABOUT IDOLATRY IN THE ROMAN WORLD OF HIS DAY. HE COULD JUST AS WELL BEEN DESCRIBING OUR DAY

ROMANS 1:25 “THEY EXCHANGED THE TRUTH OF GOD FOR A LIE, AND WORSHIPED AND SERVED CREATED THINGS RATHER THAN THE CREATOR—WHO IS FOREVER PRAISED. AMEN.”

2. BLASPHEMY. BLASPHEMY IS DEFINED AS THE ACT OF DISHONORING GOD THROUGH SPEECH OR ACTIONS. BELSHAZZAR AND HIS FRIENDS WERE PURPOSELY INSULTING ISRAEL’S GOD BY DRINKING FROM THESE CUPS AND BOWLS THAT HAD BEEN CONSECRATED TO GOD FOR THE WORSHIP IN THE JERUSALEM TEMPLE.

TODAY, WE REALLY HAVE NOTHING THAT EQUALS THESE HOLY UTENSILS. WE NO LONGER HAVE HOLY OBJECTS. THAT DOES NOT MEAN THAT TODAY NOTHING IS HOLY. IN FACT, BECAUSE CHRIST’S REDEMPTIVE WORK ON THE CROSS FULFILLED THE TEMPLE WORSHIP EVERYTHING ABOUT OUR LIVES IS TO BE CONSIDERED HOLY. THE BIBLE EVEN TELLS US THAT OUR BODIES ARE “A TEMPLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.” AND THAT WE HAVE BEEN BOUGHT BACK BY GOD THROUGH WHAT JESUS DID ON THE CROSS.(I COR. 6:19-20) SO BLASPHEMY, FOR US, CONSISTS OF THE ABUSE AND MISUSE OF ANYTHING OR ANYONE WHO BELONGS TO GOD.

ROMANS 1:29-31 “THEY HAVE BECOME FILLED WITH EVERY KIND OF WICKEDNESS, EVIL, GREED AND DEPRAVITY. THEY ARE FULL OF ENVY, MURDER, STRIFE, DECIET AND MALICE. THEY ARE GOSSIPS, SLANDERERS, GOD-HATERS, INSOLENT, ARROGANT AND BOASTFUL; THEY INVENT WAYS OF DOING EVIL; THEY DISOBEY THEIR PARENTS; THEY ARE SENSELESS, FAITHLESS, HEARTLESS, RUTHLESS.”

THAT PASSAGE DESCRIBES A SCENE OF BLASPHEMY IN OUR DAY THAT IS EQUAL TO THAT DESCRIBED IN DANIEL 5.

3. ARROGANCE DANIEL, THE HEBREW WHO HAD BEEN LARGELY FORGOTTEN BY THE BABYLONIAN COURT AFTER THE TIME OF NEBUCHADNEZZAR, IS BROUGHT FORTH AND NAILS BELSHAZZAR’S ARROGANCE WHEN HE CONFRONTS HIM WITH THESE WORDS; “BUT YOU, BELSHAZZAR HAVE NOT HUMBLED YOURSELF AS NEBUCHADNEZZAR DID. INSTEAD YOU HAVE SET YOURSELF UP AGAINST THE LORD OF HEAVEN.”

NOW GET THIS PICTURE! GOD’S JUDGEMENT, IN THE FORM OF THE CONQUERING FORCES OF THE MEDES AND THE PERSIANS , IS AT THE DOOR AND BELSHAZZAR THROWS A PARTY.

ARROGANCE CAUSES PEOPLE TO SET THEMSELVES UP AGAINST GOD EITHER THROUGH ACTIVE REBELLION OR PASSIVE INDIFFERENCE. WHEN WE INSIST ON HAVING OUR OWN WAY, RUNNING OUR OWN LIVES AND DISCOUNTING THE CAIMS OF THE CREATOR, REDEEMER GOD ON OUR LIFE, WE ARE BEING ARROGANT.

AGAIN, IN ROMANS THE APOSTLE PAUL DESCRIBES SUCH ARROGANCE.

ROMANS 1:32 “ALTHOUGH THEY KNEW GOD’S RIGHTEOUS DECREE THAT THOSE WHO DO SUCH THINGS (THE ATTITUDES AND ACTIONS DESCRIBED IN THE PREVIOUS VERSES) THEY NOT ONLY CONTINUE TO DO THESE VERY THINGS BUT ALSO APPROVE OF THOSE WHO PRACTICE THEM.”

THIS KIND OF ARROGANCE IS AS UP TO DATE AS THE PRESENT DEBATE OVER GAY MARRIAGE IN OUR COUNTRY.

IDOLATRY, BLASHPHEMY, AND ARROGANCE ARE THE ULTIMATE EXPRESSIONS OF SINFUL PRIDE BOTH ON A PERSONAL LEVEL AND, COLLECTIVELY, ON A SOCIETAL LEVEL.

HERE IS THE SECOND THING WE LEARN CONCERNING THE TRUTH ABOUT CONSEQUENCES FROM THE STORY IN DANIEL 5.

• IGNORING TRUTH LEADS TO INEVITABLE CONSEQUENCES.

THE WORDS IN VERSES 25-30 PERSONALIZE THE CONSEQUENCES FOR THE BABYLONIAN KING, BELSHAZZAR. A HAND APPEARS AND BEGINS TO WRITE ON THE WALL OF THE KING’S BANQUET HALL. DANIEL TRANSLATES IT FOR THE KING.

VERSES 25-30 “THIS IS THE INSCRIPTION THAT WAS WRITTEN:
MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN.
‘THIS IS WHAT THESE WORDS MEAN:
MENE: GOD HAS NUMBERED THE DAYS OF YOUR REIGN AND BROUGHT IT TO AN END.
TEKEL: YOU HAVE BEEN WEIGHED ON THE SCALES AND FOUND WANTING.
PERES: YOUR KINGDOM IS DIVIDED AND GIVEN TO THE MEDES AND THE PERSIANS.’
THEN AT BELSHAZZAR’S COMMAND, DANIEL WAS CLOTHED IN PURPLE, A GOLD CHAIN WAS PLACED AROUND HIS NECK, AND HE WAS PROCLAIMED THE THIRD HIGHEST RULER IN THE KINGDOM.
THAT VERY NIGHT BELSHAZZAR, KING OF THE BABYLONIANS, WAS SLAIN, AND DARIUS THE MEDE TOOK OVER THE KINGDOM, AT THE AGE OF SIXTY TWO.”

IN THE NEW TESTAMENT THE APOSTLE PAUL AFFIRMS THE INEVITABLE CONSEQUENCE OF SINFUL PRIDE WHEN HE WRITES:

GALATIANS 6:7 “DO NOT BE DECIEVED: GOD CANNOT BE MOCKED. A MAN REAPS WHAT HE SOWS.”

THE IDEA OF INEVITABLE CONSEQENCES TO SINFUL PRIDE LEADS TO A VERY IMPORTANT QUESTION FOR OUR CONSIDERATION. THE QUESTION IS THIS:

WHEN CAN SOMETHING THAT HAPPENS TO A PERSON BE CONSIDERED GOD’S JUDGEMENT?

TO WHAT EXTENT CAN WE LOOK AT SOMETHING THAT HAPPENS TO AN INDIVIDUAL AND SAY WITH ASSURITY; THAT’S GOD’S JUDGEMENT. WE LIVE IN A WORLD THAT GOD HAS JUDGED BECAUSE OF SIN. THUS,
IN A GENERAL SENSE WE CAN SAY THAT ALL DISEASE, SUFFERING, TRADGEDY ARE EVIDENCE OF GOD’S JUDGEMENT IN A FALLEN WORLD. BUT, WE MUST BE VERY CAREFUL IN SAYING THAT IN A SPECIFIC AND INDIVIDUAL SENSE

IN JOHN 9 JESUS ADDRESSES THE SUBJECT WITH HIS DISCIPLES AND SAYS; “ALL SUFFERING IS NOT THE RESULT OF A PERSON’S SIN.”
WE DO NOT HAVE THE ABILITY TO KNOW WITH CERTAINTY WHEN SOMETHING THAT HAPPENS TO A PERSON OR EVEN A SOCIETY IS GOD’S JUDGEMENT AND WHEN IT IS NOT. THEREFORE, WE SHOULD BE VERY CAREFUL IN SAYING SO.
OUR TENDENCY IS TO LOOK AT SOMETHING THAT HAPPENS TO A PERSON WHO HAS HURT US, OR AT SOMEONE WITH WHOSE LIFESTYLE WE MAY DISAGREE AND DECLARE GOD’S JUDGEMENT. THAT IS GOD’S PERVUE AND HIS ALONE.

THIS BEING SAID, IT IS IMPORTANT TO POINT OUT THAT GOD’S JUDGEMENT IS A REALITY IN THE WORLD. THERE ARE CONSEQUENCES TO SIN BECAUSE THE UNIVERSE, AS GOD CREATED IT, IS A MORAL UNIVERSE WITH MORAL LAWS. WHEN WE BREAK THE MORAL LAW THERE ARE CONSEQUENCES, JUST AS WHEN WE BREAK A PHYSICAL LAW. (GIVE EXAMPLE) TECHNICALLY, THESE CONSEQUENCES ARE GOD’S JUDGEMENT. THAT’S WHAT THE BIBLE IS TALKING ABOUT WHEN IT REFERS TO “THE WRATH OF GOD.”

ROMANS 1:18 “THE WRATH OF GOD IS BEING REVEALED FRON HEAVEN AGAINST ALL THE GODLESSNESS AND WICKEDNESS OF MEN WHO SUPPRESS THE TRUTH BY THEIR WICKEDNESS.”

THE WRATH OF GOD IS NOT GOD EXPLODING. IT IS THE NATURAL CONSEQUENCE ATTACHED TO BREAKING THE MORAL LAW.

* GOD ALONE HAS THE RIGHT TO JUDGE. HE HAS THE RIGHT TO JUDGE BECAUSE:

1. HIS ANGER IS NEVER ARBITRARY.

HIS ANGER IS NEVER IRRATIONAL AND OUT OF CONTROL, LIKE THE ANGER OF FALLEN MAN CAN BE AT TIMES. HIS ATTITUDE TOWARD SIN IS A SETTLED ATTITUDE. HIS ANGER TOWARD THAT WHICH IS DESTROYING HIS CREATION IS PREDICTABLE AND UNDERSTANABLE.

ROMANS 6:2a “THE WAGES OF SIN IS DEATH”

“CALVIN COOLEDGE, THE TWENTY-FIFTH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, WAS A MAN OF FEW WORDS. PEOPLE CALLED HIM ‘SILENT CAL.’ ONE SUNDAY MORNING WHEN THE WORLD NEWS WAS A LITTLE FLAT, REPORTERS ACCOSTED COOLEDGE AS HE EMERGED FROM CHURCH.
THEY ASKED HIM; ‘HOW WAS CHURCH, MR. PRESIDENT?’
‘FINE’ SAID COOLEDGE IN HIS USUAL WAY.
‘WHAT DID THE PREACHER PREACH ABOUT?’ THEY ASKED.
‘SIN’ ANSWERED COOLEDGE
TRYING TO PRIME HIS RELUCTANT PUMP, A REPORTER THEN ASKED IN DESPERATION, ‘WHAT DID HE SAY ABOUT IT.’
TO THIS QUESTION COOLEDGE UNCHARCTERISTICALLY GAVE A RATHER LENGTHY REPLY. ‘HE WAS AGAINST IT.’ SAID THE PRESIDENT.”

GOD’S SETTLED ATTITUDE TOWARD SIN IS THIS. HE’S AGAINST IT. HE IS NOT AGAINST PEOPLE. HE’S AGAINST SIN THAT DESTROYS PEOPLE.

2.HIS ACTION TOWARD SIN IS ALWAYS PURPOSEFUL.

JOHN 12:24 “AS FOR THE PERSON WHO HEARS MY WORDS BUT DOES NOT KEEP THEM, I DO NOT JUDGE HIM. FOR I DID NOT COME TO JUDGE THE WORLD BUT TO SAVE IT.”

GOD’S PURPOSE IS MORE THAN RERIBUTION. GOD’S PURPOSE IS REDEMPTION.
ONE PERSON HAS WRITTEN IN THIS REGARD:

“THE CONSISTENTLY FOCUSED DESIRE IN ALL OF GOD’S JUDGEMENTS IS THAT WE EXPERINCE AND RECOGNIZE THE EMPTINESS WE HAVE CHOSEN AND RETURN TO THE FULLNESS OF A RIGHT RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM. HIS ARMS ARE EVER OPEN AND READY TO RECEIVE US THE MOMENT WE CHANGE OUR MIND AND TURN BACK TO HIM.”(JUDGEMENTS IN THE GARDEN) (JUDGEMENT AND THE PROPHETS0

3. GOD’S JUDGEMENT IS ALWAYS JUST. IT ALWAYS FITS THE CRIME PERFECTLY.
DEUTERONOMY 32:4 “HE IS THE ROCK, HIS WORKS ARE PERFECT, AND ALL HIS WAYS ARE JUST. A FAITHFUL GOD WHO DOES NO WRONG, UPRIGHT AND JUST IS HE.”
4.GOD’S STANDARDS ARE NOT BASED ON THE COMPARISON OF HUMAN PERFORMANCE.
WE ARE EVALUATED ON THE BASIS OF WHO HE CREATED US TO BE.

MATTHEW 5:48 “BE PER4FECT, THEREFORE AS YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER IS PERFECT.”

. GOD, IN HIS LOVE AND MERCY HAS PROVIDED A WAY FOR US TO MEET THAT STANDARD.THROUGH FAITH IN THE WORK OF HIS SON ON OUR BEHALF ON THE CROSS.

EPHESIANS 2:8-9 “ FOR IT IS BY GRACE YOU HAVE BEEN SAVED THROUGH
FAITH—AND THAT NOT FROM YOURSELVES, IT IS THE GIFT OF GOD—NOT BY WORKS, SO THAT NO ONE CAN BOAST.”

5. NO ONE REMAINS UNDER GOD’S JUDGEMENT UNLESS THEY CHOOSE TO DO SO. THE CONTINUATION OF ROMANS 6:23 SAYS THIS:

ROMANS 6:23b “ BUT THE GIFT OF GOD IS ETERNAL LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD.
WE CHOOSE TO REMAIN UNDER GOD’S JUDGEMENT WHEN WE REFUSE TO ACCEPT THE GIFT HE OFFERS.

6. HE DOES, SOMETIMES, DELEGATE THE RIGHT TO JUDGE TO THE STATE FOR THE GOD OF SOCIETY.

ROMANS 13: 4 “FOR HE IS GOD’S SERVANT TO DO YOU GOOD. BUT IF YOU DO WRONG, BE AFRAID, FOR HE DOES NOT BEAR THE SWORD FOR NOTHING. HE IS GOD’S SERVANT, AN AGENT OF WRATH TO BRING PUNISHMENT ON THE WRONG DOER.

• WHAT IS OUR ROLE, AS THE CHURCH, WHEN IT COMES TO JUDGEMENT?
II CORINTHIANS 5:18 “ ALL THIS IS FROM GOS WHO RECONCILED US TO HIMSELF THROUGH CHRIST, AND GAVE US THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION.”

WE, AS THE CHURCH, HAVE BEEN CALLED TO BE “MINISTERS OF RECONCILIATION” GOD HAS GIVEN US THE “MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION.” AS THE CHURCH, WE ARE TO PLAY, PRIMARILY, THE ROLE THAT DANIEL PLAYED BEFORE NEBUCHADNEZZAR, NOT THE ROLE HE PLAYED BEFORE BELSHAZZAR.

IGNORING THE TRUTH LEADS TO INEVITABLE CONSEQUENCES, BUT GOD,ALONE,HAS THE RIGHT TO JUDGE AND APPLY THOSE CONSEQUENCES, EITHER DIRECTLY OR THROUGH HIS SERVANT, THE STATE. AS THE CHURCH, OUR JOB IS PROCLAIM THE MESSAGE OF RECONCILIATION BETWEEN A HOLY GOD AND SINFUL MAN THROUGH THE DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF CHRIST.

*SOME CLEAR PRINCIPLES FOR AVOIDING CONSEQUENCES.

1. LISTEN TO GOD. THAT’S BASIC. LISTEN CAREFULLY, WHILE RECOGNIZING THAT LISTENING IS MORE THAN HEARING.
JAMES 1:22 “DO NOT MERELY LISTEN TO (JUST HEAR) THE WORD AND SO DECIEVE YOURSELVES. DO WHAT IT SAYS.”
2. DON’T MOVE THE GOAL POSTS.
PROVERBS 14:12 “THERE IS A WAY THAT SEEMS RIGHT TO A MAN, BUT IN THE END IT LEADS TO DEATH.”
WE WOULDN’T THINK OF MOVING THE GOAL POSTS DURING A FOOTBALL GAME. WHAT WE WOULDN’T DO DURING A FOOTBALL GAME WE SOMETIMES ATTEMPT, BECAUSE OF OUR FALLENESS, IN THE GAME OF LIFE.IN THE END, IT NEVER WORKS. THE MORAL LAW, “THE TEN COMMANDMENTS” ARE NOT “THE TEN SUGGESTIONS.”
3 LIVE WITH A HUMBLE ATTITUDE. THE BASIC DIFFERENCE
KING NEBUCHADNEZZAR AND KING BELSHAZZAR WAS THAT, IN THE END, NEBUCHADNEZZAR CHOOSE HUMILTY. BELSHAZZAR DID NOT.
PROVERBS 3:34 “HE (GOD) MOCKS PROUD MOCKERS BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.”

TODAY, GOD CALLS EVERY PERSON TO A PLACE OF SECURITY WALLED IN BY HIS LOVE AND ACCEPTANCE. ONLY THOSE WHO CHOOSE TO HUMBLE THEMSELVES AND REJECT SINFUL PRIDE CAN FIND THE DOOR. THEY AVOID THE INEVITABLE CONSEQUENCES OF SINFUL PRIDE AND THAT’S THE TRUTH ABOUT CONSEQUENCES.

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