Green beer, Belshazzar, and God’s temple

Happy St. Patrick’s day!  Today was set aside to honor St. Patrick, a priest who went to Ireland to preach the gospel to folks there.  He was actually taken captive by a bunch of Irish folks and was held prisoner in Ireland for six years.  He then left Ireland and went back to Britain and studied to be a priest after which he returned to Ireland to minister to the Christians there and to preach the gospel to those who didn’t know Jesus.  You can read up a bit about him at History.com.

Amazing isn’t it?  How the world can take a holiday meant to commemorate the life of a Godly man and turn it into a drunken fest with green beer.  How does that happen? 

I’m currently studying the book of Daniel on Wednesday mornings with the most amazing group of women.  Love them!!  Last week we covered chapter five which you can read here although I certainly encourage you to read the entire book of Daniel if you never have.  It’s a testimony over and over to God’s faithfulness.

Anyway, in chapter 5 we meet King Belshazzar who throws this big banquet for all the high-falutin’ folks in Babylon.  (Just to give you a bit of background, prior to Belshazzar’s reign, the Babylonians had sacked Jerusalem and had taken all the things from the temple of God and brought them back to Babylon.)  On this particular night at this banquet, Belshazzar in his drunken stupor gets this brilliant idea that he and all the nobles will drink wine from the gold and silver goblets taken from the temple in Jerusalem.  So he has his servants bring them in and the Bible says in verse 2 that Belshazzar, his nobles, his wives, and his concubines all drank from and toasted their gods with the holy goblets…they used the holy articles of God’s temple in a very unholy manner.  (Incidentally, the Bible tells us towards the end of chapter 5 that on that very night, Babylon was overtaken by the Medes and the Persians and Belshazzar was killed.)

The very thought of this crazy king and his entourage toasting pagan gods with the holy temple vessels makes me cringe.  And it makes me want to punch this guy in the nose.  And it breaks my heart. 

God deserves so much more than that. 

He is holy and mighty and worthy of praise.  He is the Beginning and the End.  The Ancient of Days.  God Most High.

I guess from someone who doesn’t know the Great I AM, I could expect complete and blatant disrespect.  But really, as Christians we are…I am…just as bad as Belshazzar many times. 

Jesus lives in me and that makes me

His temple.

My hands and feet, my mouth, my eyes, my ears, my heart are all holy articles.

But so often I use my body for less-than-holy things.  My feet carry me places I haven’t any business going.  My eyes watch things I shouldn’t be watching.  My ears hear things I shouldn’t be listening to.  My mind dwells on things I shouldn’t think about.  If I am honest, I have to admit that way too often I open myself up in one way or another and allow something unholy to find its way into this temple.  And if I’m not constantly seeking cleansing in the water of His Word, then not only does something unholy enter into my temple, but that unholiness can overtake the holy articles and well…you get what I’m saying.  I feel like that’s kind of a lame Christianese-y analogy but there is truth in it.

Holy doesn’t mean that we are perfect.  Even the most upright of us are still prone toward sin and subject to screw up from time to time.  Holy means reserved from profane and set apart for the service or use of God.  We have been set apart from the world for the dwelling of His spirit and to accomplish His purpose here on earth.  When we allow our temple to be used for anything other than to accomplish His purpose, it’s almost like we’ve snatched the holy goblet out of His hand and used it to toast the gods of this world (self, lust, money, vanity, etc.).  When I think of it that way, it almost makes me sick to my stomach. 

And all I can say is thank You Lord for grace.

God, remind us daily that we are Your temples, where Your spirit dwells, and Your desire is that we would be filled with Your Holy Spirit.  Guard our hearts and minds that we might not allow them to be used for unholy things.  We take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor 10:5).  Order our steps in Your word so that we won’t be overcome by sin (Psalm 119:133) but rather that we would be a noble instrument, made holy, and ready for You to use us Lord however You see fit (2 Tim 2:21).

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