Lessons from the book of Daniel, Lesson 5, Part 1
Daniel, ch 5
Worshipping the wrong gods is deadly. Even though people devote themselves to all kinds of idolatry, God is remarkably patient. God puts up with an awful lot. God lets people go a long way and God patiently, patiently, patiently bears with people’s sin. There is a line. When a person crosses this line, it’s too late to turn back.
It’s interesting that Belshazzar did for Daniel what he promised. He gave Daniel the robe, the chain and he declared him number three in the kingdom. Belshazzar didn’t live through the night. That very night, he lost his kingdom; then he lost his life.
In Genesis 6:3, God says: “My Spirit will not remain with mankind forever…”
When I was a little boy, a talented Christian singer and his wife attended our church. They had recorded several albums and toured the country as successful Christian artists. The man sang a song on one album that got under my skin. I can still recite the words:
“In youth I heard him calling me in tones so strong and clear. And, in the years that followed, still his beckoning I’d hear. The fleeting prime of manhood seemed too busy to respond. The life giving message grew fainter. The pleadings dimmed as years went by. I’ve often mused and wondered why. As now I’ve reached the end of life and moments past recall, his Spirit is striving no longer.”
The singer who sang this haunting song ended up taking his own life. It was absolutely tragic. In this song, he described something scripture warns about.
It’s possible to cross a line where there’s no turning back. We want to believe that while there’s life, there’s hope. While I can’t tell who’s crossed the line, the fact is there are many walking dead among us. There are a lot of people who have said no to God over and over and over and over. We don’t know it, and they may not know it, but they’ve already crossed the line. There’s no turning back.
I think of a New Testament story in Acts 5:
But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property. However, he kept back part of the proceeds with his wife’s knowledge, and brought a portion of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
“Ananias,” Peter asked, “why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the proceeds of the land? Wasn’t it yours while you possessed it? And after it was sold, wasn’t it at your disposal? Why is it that you planned this thing in your heart? You have not lied to people but to God.” When he heard these words, Ananias dropped dead, and a great fear came on all who heard. The young men got up, wrapped his body, carried him out, and buried him.
About three hours later, his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. “Tell me,” Peter asked her, “did you sell the land for this price?”
“Yes,” she said, “for that price.”
Then Peter said to her, “Why did you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.”
Instantly she dropped dead at his feet. When the young men came in, they found her dead, carried her out, and buried her beside her husband. Then great fear came on the whole church and on all who heard these things.
The sin of Ananias and Sapphira seems like such a small thing. It wasn’t that they weren’t going to give any money to the church; it was just that they wanted to seem more spiritual than they were. They lied about the amount. They gave the amount they said, but they said it was a hundred percent, and it wasn’t. First, the husband, then the wife, dropped dead because they lied to the Holy Spirit.
If you look at your life and realize: “I don’t want to be like the singer who took his own life. I don’t want to be like Ananias and Sapphira. I don’t want to be like Belshazzar. I don’t want to end up like these people,” my question to you is: “Do you want to be like Daniel?” Most people don’t want to be like him either. We’d just like to be one of the nobles at the party, one of the everyday church members.
Being Daniel can get dicey. Following God wholeheartedly in total obedience with complete dedication and utter consecration can be hard, sometimes miserable. But Daniel understood: There is a line a person can cross where it’s too late to turn back. Stay far from it.