Belief to Behavior - Honor

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You can’t live on bread alone.
Deuteronomy 8:3 CSB
3 He humbled you by letting you go hungry; then he gave you manna to eat, which you and your ancestors had not known, so that you might learn that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
Fight the Good Fight
1 Timothy 6:12 CSB
12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of eternal life to which you were called and about which you have made a good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
Go the extra mile.
Matthew 5:41 CSB
41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two.
By the skin of my teeth.
Job 19:20 CSB
20 My skin and my flesh cling to my bones; I have escaped with only the skin of my teeth.
Out of the mouths of babes...
Psalm 8:2 CSB
2 From the mouths of infants and nursing babies, you have established a stronghold on account of your adversaries in order to silence the enemy and the avenger.
The blind leading the blind.
Matthew 15:14 CSB
14 Leave them alone! They are blind guides. And if the blind guide the blind, both will fall into a pit.”
The writing’s on the wall.
Daniel 5:5 CSB
5 At that moment the fingers of a man’s hand appeared and began writing on the plaster of the king’s palace wall next to the lampstand. As the king watched the hand that was writing,
Words and phrases that we use or hear a lot day to day…from scripture. And there’s a lot more too. Some are word for word from scripture and some are paraphrased.
Our Bible has had a major influence in all of life.
God’s Word has significance. True significance.
That last one…the writing’s on the wall…that’s where we’re headed today.
The main idea today surrounds the topic of honor.
So when I say the word honor, what type of things come to mind?
This month is held as Black History Month. A month to honor those who have contributed, selflessly served, and have risen above some of the horrible situations of the past and… unfortunately as we sometimes see…even our current day.
I read the story yesterday, from a columnist from the LA Times, of a man who had been honored some time ago. Arthur Winston. He had worked in LA for 73 years…as a public bus maintenance man, cleaning and washing them so they’d be sanitized, clean, and shiny for the next riders. 73 years. When he started he began by working on trolly cars…and then just moved as the industry changed. In all of those years, he had never been late to work and had only taken one sick day. That one day was the day he took off for his wife’s funeral in 1988. Oh, I neglected to mention that on this day, when he was being interviewed for Black history month…he was 100 years old and a few days from retiring.
The United States Labor Department named him the country’s most valuable employee of the century. He was given honor. And I don’t think only because of the color of his skin. He was given honor because of his sense of duty, his smile, his determination, and the thoughtfulness of the residents of LA…making those buses the cleanest he could for them, it wasn’t about him, it was all about those he served. And he didn’t work for honor, he worked and served because … it was serving others was top on his list.
As he was being interviewed, other workers were coming by and saying that they were going to miss him…and that it was an honor to work with him.
In the book of Revelation, there’s a passage that talks about, in Heaven, 24 elders laying down their crowns of glory in front of God saying that He is worthy to receive glory and honor.
Glory is often thought of as a reflection of what’s already there, as in a mirror…God’s glory is a reflection of who He ultimately is. Perfect love and goodness.
Honor originates in our hearts and refers to the value we personally place on something or someone. Collectors honor certain things…they see value in items when others may not.
When we honor God, it is directly related to how we see Him. Is He worthy of our honor? I would say, absolutely. Honoring God is often talked about in scripture simply because when we put God above all else, it usually comes from a sense of honor. And that’s healthy on our part. When we do that, we recognize what God has done, is doing, and what he will do for us. And we honor Him for it.
When we take the position that we are the creators of our own happiness, our own success, of our very lives, we steal honor that is due to God. And that’s a dangerous place to be… it's very unhealthy. And we see that in the account we’re going to look at today. And it’s a pretty blatant act of dishonor.
Very quick review.
Daniel has written about some accounts from his life…his life in Babylon…in service to the king (he and his friends). In this we’ve seen how Daniel has lived out what he knew was true about life and about God. He lived according to what he knew, what he believed to be true. And I think God wants this for all of us. To recognize truth and live accordingly. So that we can live the best possible life we can, this side of eternity.
Remember last Sunday we asked the question, how many of us can see ourselves in King Nebuchadnezzar? Sometimes seeing God…sometimes living fully for ourselves? Truth…that would be true for me. But the more I get to know God’s truth, the more I find His spirit nudging and pulling me, holding me back from things…and more…to become changed…renewed…made new as Jesus said He would do for us.
A little bit of history before we begin in chapter 5. King Nebuchadnezzar passes away…after a 40+ year reign. He did a lot in that time too. It was an up-and-down journey for him…but in the end, he sends a letter to all of Babylonia concerning his humbled situation via the hand of God.
Now, about 25 years later, we’ll see the hand of God again.
The handwriting is on the wall....
Daniel 5. Immediately you’ll see that Daniel is now in service to another ruler, and it even looks like possibly only on retainer…not active service.
Since Nebuchadnezzar’s death, there have been 4 rulers…the 4th is King Nabonidis. He is the king of the empire, but more recent archeological evidence points out that he made his son, Belshazzar, regent king over the city of Babylon. The father, Nabonidis, spent a lot of time in an oasis city doing religious service to his “god” and ruling from there.
So his son, Belshazzar, is king over the very large city (which Nebuchadnezzar had built).
Now, a quick reminder…this all has to do with that statue we saw in chapter two. At some point, Babylonia (Babylon), which Nebuchadnezzar had built up, will fall to the next world power. That was the dream and that was God’s word to Nebuchadnezzar. So to those who had kept their faith in God…watching for His movements through history, what would soon happen here in chapter 5 would be of no surprise.
We’ll focus on a few things that this new king, Belshazzar does as it pertains to our theme…Truth. We’ll watch how he lives…pertaining to what he believes to be true.
Daniel 5. Here we see a number of events happen but everything surrounds a huge party during a religious feast, while an army is waiting for the right time to destroy Babylon…oh…and God is right there in the middle of it all, confirming that this is part of his plan.
Belshazzar is holding a huge party. He’s invited a thousand guests. It’s a religious feast (according to other historical texts).
While the feast is going on, he demands that the goblets, from the vessels that Nebuchadnezzar took from God’s temple Jerusalem many years ago, be brought to him. They will be used for drinking…and praising the “g”ods of Babylon that evening.
Remember, these vessels were made at God’s instructions to be used for His purposes in His temple. And now, they are being used in worship to other “g”ods.
It is at this point that a hand appears and writes into the plaster on the wall of the palace. Belshazzar is watching, and the text says he goes pale…and his knees knock together. He’s very scared. Some wise men come in and can’t make anything of it. There’s a lot of commotion with all the guests and the queen mother comes in. We’re pretty sure this queen isn’t his wife but possibly his mom or Nebuchadnezzar's wife, who is still alive at this point (we kind of gather this from how she presents her idea).
She says, go get Daniel. He served your father (predesessor) well, and the spirit of the gods is in him. He will explain and interpret this for you.
Belshazzar does and in walks Daniel…probably near 80 at this point.
Belshazzar calls him an exile from Judah…kind of demeaning because Daniel at one point was second in command of all of Babylonia.
Daniel is asked to interpret…and if he can he’ll get third rank in all of babylon and get a gold chain and purple coat.
Daniel knows what’s happening. He’s well aware …he can see what’s happening.
“Keep your things for yourself.” However, I will interpret this for you.
Your predecessor, God put him in a place of honor, and even when he became selfish and arrogant, God humbled him…and then raised him back up after he again acknowledged God as the Lord of lords and the king of kings.
You however, have never humbled yourself. You’re using the vessels of God’s worship to worship idols made by human hands. (Tremper Longman writes that this is like spitting in the eye of God).
“Instead” below - I have an idea, because of how Daniel is comparing the two…that
Daniel 5:23 (NIV)
23 Instead, you have set yourself up against the Lord of heaven.
You had the goblets from his temple brought to you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines drank wine from them. You praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or understand.
But you did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways.
Daniel brings up, specifically the vessels from the Temple of God.
Belshazzar takes them and uses them in worship to other gods. Here…the scholar Tremper Longman writes… In the final analysis, it does not matter what was going on in Belshazzar’s mind; his very act is like spitting in the eye of God.
Anything, words or actions, that take honor from God.
Have we ever done anything that has dishonored God? I’m sure all of us have. Sin, itself, is doing what we want over what God would want. It is dishonoring to God....the God who holds our lives in His hands.
And here, Daniel explains that Belshazzar knew what he was doing. He wasn’t ignorant of God, or the prophesies, or of Nebuchadnezzar’s acknowledgement and honor given to God.
Interesting Note: Belshazzar means Bel-Saves, Daniel means God is my Judge. Belshazzar’s “g”od cannot save him. However we will see God judge him.
Daniel 5:25–28 CSB
“This is the writing that was inscribed: Mene, Mene, Tekel, and Parsin. This is the interpretation of the message: ‘Mene’ means that God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end. ‘Tekel’ means that you have been weighed on the balance and found deficient. ‘Peres’ means that your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”
Background…at this very minute...Cyrus the Great’s army is in the process of taking the city....water tunnel. Belshazzar was killed that night as Persian armies enter the city under the walls…we have this account from other ancient historical texts.
Darius is the regent king (another name for this person is Gubaru) who takes over and is given authority over Babylon....Cyrus rules over the new empire now…all the cities.
It is almost as though God is saying, as Babylon falls to the Medes and Persians, I told you so. Please choose to honor me…not for my sake but for your own.
Honoring God means we recognize that he has the best life in store for us if we’d like to have it.
Honor - Recognizing God’s goodness and greatness.
Truth…We live what we believe to be true. Belshazzar lived what he believed to be true…He did not honor God because he chose to neglect the evidence laid before him. He was choosing his own path rather than God’s will for him.
Let focus on us for a few seconds....
John 3:16 says....for God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him might not perish but have eternal life.....he deserves honor. Jesus died for us…took the punishment for sin for us…because of that He deserves our honor.
What does “honoring Jesus” look like? What does this look like for you and me?
Following Jesus, is honoring him. Obeying, trusting, loving him, loving others as he did,
....looking at our own sin as he would…repenting of that sin…remember Nebuchadnezzar? In his final days he not only acknowledged God but humbled himself before Him. Repented right there in a letter to the whole empire. I believe that us coming before Jesus and saying…I’m a sinner before you is a way of honoring Jesus.
If Jesus is the way and the truth and the life, then he is to be honored above all else.
Daniel, even though living in a foreign land where others might worship idols and “g”ods, kept moving forward with what he knew to be true. we can do the same. He honored God in, at times, very unfriendly circumstances.
Daniel, in a way, by believing God’s word about the coming Kingdom, and accepting his part to play…was a way of honoring God.
HONOR WHAT GOD IS DOING. Jesus brought that Kingdom…and is bringing it, on his time schedule, to completion…so we, as a Kingdom ambassador…following Christ the an example of showing honor.
Jesus calls us to honor God.
John 5:20–25 CSB
20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he is doing, and he will show him greater works than these so that you will be amazed. 21 And just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so the Son also gives life to whom he wants. 22 The Father, in fact, judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son, 23 so that all people may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. 24 “Truly I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life. 25 “Truly I tell you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.
The handwriting was on the wall for Belshazzar. God was moving forward, and Belshazzar, in his dishonoring actions toward God, was judged.
We have a decision to make…believe in the one who died and rose …the one who chose to die for our sin. Giving us grace.
Choose truth…truth has a name. It’s Jesus. And then live out your belief in Him. Honor Jesus with all of your life…and in His words…live forever.
If you need to make a decision…maybe you’re seeing handwriting in some way on your heart today...
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