August 12, 2011

Saturday after the Seventh Sunday after Trinity

Lectionary

Morning - Ps. 90, 1 Sam. 10:17, Lk. 14:25
Evening - Ps. 96, 9, Dan. 5:17-30, Acts 25:13

Tonight's reading allows us to witness a great cosmic war. The battleground is the city of Babylon. The contestants are God and Bel, the idol of Babylon. The battle is fought through two men, Belshazzar, whose name means, "Bel protects the king," and Daniel, whose name means "God will judge." We are going to find out which name expresses the truth. If the prophecy written on the wall comes true, then God has judged Belshazzar and proven that He is God and there is no other. If the prophecy does not come true, then Bel has protected the king and proven that he is the Most High God.

This clash of the Gods takes place at a crucial time in Jewish history. The Jews will return to Jerusalem soon, and the events we studied recently in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah are about to occur. So the Jews need to know their God lives and reigns. They need to know He raises kings and empires up, and casts them down as He sees fit. More importantly, they need to know He rules in the life of His people, His word is true, and His will is accomplished infallibly upon the earth. This will show the Jews they can trust Him when the time comes to return to Jerusalem and do the hard work and sacrificing required to rebuild the city and Temple. Most importantly, it will encourage the Jews, infected with pagan idolatry and a diluted Jewish faith, to throw down their idols and return to God as His covenant people again.

Like the Jews, we are called to follow God and keep His Covenant, even in difficult and dangerous times. We need to know that God will judge all and Bel will protect no one. Then we can follow God with confidence.

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