Stupidity Is Not A Virtue

A STUDY IN THE BOOK OF DANIEL

One of the worst things about the English language is that too often we don’t really know how to use our own words.  DATA, for instance, is plural.  There’s no such thing as one data point.  Or, take the word CORPORATE.  When you see that word I suspect you’re thinking of Microsoft or Amazon as examples (I live in Washington State).  Well, originally it just used to mean any task undertaken together.  You know, lots of people corporately coming together for a single purpose.  It used to be that the *opposite* of corporate was an idiot–literally a solitary single person who didn’t go for the BENEFITS of being part of the group.  It used to be that AN IDIOT was just somebody who stuck to himself–in a peculiar way.

“Oh, oh.  I know where you’re going,” you might be thinking.

But I’ll tell you the word that’s been messed up the most and that’s the word ‘CHURCH’.  Christians aren’t idiots.  We know that a church is a group of people–it’s a CORPORATE GATHERING of the body of Christ.

But let’s face it: when you think of THE CHURCH, you’re probably thinking of a building.  The truth is, it’s so easy to think of THE CHURCH as a building because it’s easier for THE CHURCH to be a place more than a way of life.  We can visualize a place and identify with it better.  It’s safer when it’s a building we go to once a week more so than AN ATTITUDE which defines our lives.

Well, that might be what we think, but it’s too limited.  At times, I fear we may be in danger of losing our CORPORATE notion of CHURCH.  I believe the fellowship I’ve been gathering with for the past 5 years has a better understanding of CHURCH as a people, but we can always do better.  We do a pretty good job of carrying for each other, praying for one another in times of need.  But even we have friends and neighbors and colleagues that NEED us as well.  Too many isolated people are imprisoned voluntarily in the cells of their own homes when what simply they need most is companionship and friendship of a God-breathed individual more interested in serving God than himself.

Our God is a CORPORATE God.

Not in the sense of the way of doing things according to some rules laid down, but in the sense of togetherness that He desires for us.

WE WORSHIP HIM IN COMMUNITY.

It’s a community centered on Jesus to be sure, but it’s not, as we suppose, just a ‘Jesus and me‘ thing.

SCRIPTURE  Daniel 2:14-30

In my study this week and at first thought, I noticed a missing detail, but it is a detail that shows up time and time again centered on RELATIONSHIP. Think about the RELATIONSHIP that Daniel has with Arioch, the king’s captain.  Think about the RELATIONSHIP Daniel has with his young friends.  See how it is these relationships ultimately bring Daniel closer in relationship to God.

Well, okay, Arioch’s job was perhaps to bring Daniel a bit closer to God than Daniel was expecting, but I noticed here, how Daniel was able to talk with him so freely.  Clearly, Daniel and Arioch had a pre-existing RELATIONSHIP, so string that together that Daniel could ask Arioch to risk not only his job but his neck, in delaying the king’s order.  That doesn’t happen by accident.  I sure that they must have spent time together.  There’s nothing to suggest that Arioch could have cared a lick about Daniel’s god.  But he CARED about Daniel.  And through RELATIONSHIP he could learn to appreciate his god, I know it’s a cliché, but it’s so true.  We are often the only Bible our friends will ever read.

STUPIDITY ON DISPLAY!

One cold and rainy day while visiting my brother and his family in Texas, we had all decided to venture out to the family property, the Ranch, and see all the progress that had been made.  After arrival, we reluctantly got out the vehicles into the inclement weather, shivering, but trying to stay enthusiastic.  My dad, my wife, and my sister-in-law’s sister decided it was wiser to remain in the car.  My dad was in the front seat while the girls were in the back seat, unnoticed by dad.

After seeing the family out in the cold and wet elements he shouted, Stupid, Stupid, Stupid not noticing the ladies in the back seat grinning, knowing that he had no idea they were there..  My wife still muses at the event.

I noticed in this passage of Scripture the only STUPIDITY on display is the one who is acting by himself?

I mean, why is the KING so furious that he wants to kill off the entire government?  WHY?  Because he is acting foolhardy and alone.

This isn’t CORPORATE unless perhaps if you were a big accounting firm.  Corporate acts are slow and deliberate because they benefit from counsel.

More importantly, I specifically noticed the FELLOWSHIP of the believers present: Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.  They all came together to PRAY.

It just so happened the Word came to Daniel.  That’s a group in total HUMILITY to God and to each other.  I doubt they cared which one of them actually heard from God directly.  They were simply living out the commandments.

GOD IS COMMUNITY.

They didn’t go to Temple (Church) together–Temple was over 800 miles away, and it was in ruins.  They simply came together out of common LOVE for an uncommon God who had supernaturally reached out to them and chose them for His kingdom.  I’m sure sometimes they wondered about their ‘chosen people’ status. But they knew if they were going to be FAITHFUL, they needed each other.

Today, we’d call that an Accountability Group:  A group of people comes together for the sake of the GOSPEL.

They come together in HUMILITY…COMMON LOVE for God and for one another.  They extend that LOVE to the world around them and they lift each other up.  When one is hurting, they extend God’s love.  When one of them is missing, they’re there.  And when one of them is REJOICING, they’re each lifted up in praise.

Christians are called to be a COMMUNITY of Christ-like believers that realize as great as our individuality is, our CORPORATE presence is in the WORSHIP of our King is even greater than ourselves.

As Christians, we are CALLED to overcome the world (1 John 5:5).  We do that precisely by being greater in LOVE, COMPASSION, and FRIENDSHIP.

Nowhere in the Bible does it say, ‘They will know that we are Christians by our…doctrines, or our theology–even our potlucks.’  No, the world recognizes how we love one another, how we visit one another, and how we care for each other.

THE PRINCIPLE laid down in Daniel is CORPORATE WORSHIP–with Mishael, Hananiah, and Azariah.

It is a PRINCIPLE I see all across the Bible.  For every great hero in the Bible, there’s a companion:

  • Adam had Eve
  • Moses had Mirian
  • Aaron and Joshua
  • Joshua had Caleb
  • David had Jonathan
  • Ester had Mordecai
  • Paul had Barnabas, even Jesus had Peter.

When the Lord said that it was not good for man to live alone, I think He meant more than just males and more than just marriage.

Daniel had Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego.

In Daniel 1, Daniel was already in close communion with these fellows.  In Daniel 3, you are probably familiar with the fiery furnace story.  These three are never mentioned except in COMMUNITY with one another.  Daniel is chock full of stores of integrity and courage in the face of dire circumstances–standing up when everyone else bows to the culture.

How did they do it?  They did it together!

How would you have liked to be a part of that small group?  I’m sure they had their squabbles and disagreements.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Shadrack thought Abednego was always late for the prayer group, and I wouldn’t be surprised that perhaps Meshach needed to shower more often.  I’m sure that each of them was an individual who was great in his own right–after all, you don’t get to be princes by being a wallflower.

But it’s a testament to their sense of CORPORATE LOVE for God that we don’t know anything about of these guys except as part of a group.

These men were all great, but they were all equal before God.  You cannot acknowledge God’s complete, scale-altering greatness, not see that any comparison to your fellow man is but petty foolishness.  That would be stupidity!

After praying corporately, Daniel is given the answer to the secret of the king’s dream.

[19]  Then the secret was revealed to Daniel in a vision of the night, and Daniel blessed the God of Heaven.

[20]  Daniel answered, Blessed, be the name of God forever and ever!  Doe WISDOM and MIGHT are His!

[21]  He changes the times and the seasons;  He removes kings and sets up kings.  He gives WISDOM to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding! 

I certainly don’t find stupidity in those who are blessed by God with “WISDOM” and “KNOWLEDGE” and “UNDERSTANDING”, do you?

We are all beings created for FELLOWSHIP with God and others.

WE ALL NEED EACH OTHER!

__________________________________________________________________

CREDITS –

Photos:  Google Image Search, advanced settings.

Dictionary:  Webster’s Online Dictionary.

Bible used:  Amplified Bible (AMP).

Drinking the Cup of Wine, Top to Bottom!

Psalm 75:8-10:

[8]   For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup, and the wine foams and is red, well mixed; and He pours out from it, and all the wicked of the earth must drain it and drink its dregs.

[9]   BUT I will declare and rejoice forever; I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.

[10] All the horns of the ungodly also will I cut off [says the Lord], but the horns of the [uncompromisingly] righteous shall be exalted.

JOHN 3:16:

For God so greatly LOVED and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life  (Amplified Bible).

Most people recognize this Bible verse.  I remember a few years back when watching a football game on television, in the end zone crowds, someone would hold up a banner reading….JOHN 3:16.

I’m not sure why so much attention is given to John 3:16 and not so much to John 3:36:

“And he who believes in (has faith in, clings to, relies on) the Son has (now possesses) eternal life.  BUT whoever disobeys (is unbelieving toward, refuses to trust in, disregards, is not subject to) the Son will never see (experience) life, but [instead] the WRATH OF GOD abides on him; His indignation hangs over him continually.]”

Here is one idea.  It is much more palpable and sweet to discuss God’s LOVE and MERCY for sinners.  We appreciate sermons on heaven and what it might be like, but we don’t want our minds to dwell on HELL, at least not very long.

BUT what we need to get straight in our thinking about who GOD is…where there is LOVE, FORGIVENESS, and MERCY….there’s also anger and judgement.

I am not, in this POST, going to write for your reading all the aspects of hell.  But I am going to give some healthy attention to the judgement nature of GOD.

Psalm 75:8:  “For in the hand of the Lord there is a CUP…”

There are some 32 cups mentioned in the Bible, and 12 of these are symbolic:

4 deal with GOD’s JUDGEMENT…

4 deal with BLESSING and FELLOWSHIP…

And the others deal with…

REWARD or PUNISHMENT to those who side with the enemy (the devil).

Personally, I like to hang my hat, so to speak, on the idea that GOD is a GOD of LOVE, GOD is LOVE (1 John 4:8).  He would rather SAVE than JUDGE.

But to prove His love and mercy, He demands and carries out justice against sin.

THREE OF THE CUPS:

CUP OF WRATH
CUP OF WRATH

The CUP of WRATH:  “Upon the wicked He will rain quick burning coals or snares; fire, brimstone, and a [dreadful] scorching wind shall be the portion of their CUP”  (Psalm 11:6 AMP).

In my spirit, I’ve often asked in conversational prayer the question,  “With all that is going on around us Lord, what would cause Your judgement to be poured out on the disobedient, the ungodly?”  And as I patiently waited for answer, I was prompted by this thought; “when the innocent come under attack, God always responds”–when babies are killed by the millions in the name of abortion, GOD will respond!  When the aged are a “problem to society” and euthanasia becomes a solution, GOD will respond!

What is the SIGN of a Wicked Generation? 

Is it Drugs?  Is it Gang Violence?  Homosexuality, perversion?  It begins when the sign of a people, moving toward judgment of GOD has no ability to defend themselves.

GOD will pour out the Cup of Wrath–

If we listen carefully, we just might hear the blinded mob from Sodom and Gomorrah crying out from the pit of Hell,  “America Repent!”  

GOD IS a GOD of JUDGEMENT! 

His WRATH on Display:

God is a just God,   And God is angry with the wicked every day. ~ Psalm 7:11, NKJV

The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.  Then He rebukes them in His anger and terrifies them in His wrath ~ Psalm 2:4, NIV.

Arouse yourself, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem, who have drunk at the hand of the Lord the cup of His wrath, who have drunk the cup of intoxication and staggering to the dregs. ~ Isaiah 51:17, AMP.

Then I took the cup from the Lord’s hand, and made all the nations drink, to whom the Lord sent me. ~ Jeremiah 25:17, NAS.

…to make her drain the cup of His furious wrath and indignation. ~ Revelation 16:19 b.  AMP.

And the RECIPIENTS of God’s Wrath:

For God’s [holy] wrath and indignation are revealed from heaven against ALL UNGODLINESS and UNRIGHTEOUSNESS of men, who in their wickedness repress and hinder the truth and make it inoperative. ~ Romans 1:18, AMP.

Though they are fully aware of God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them themselves but approve and applaud others who practice them. ~ Romans 1:32.

The Cup of SALVATION:  “I will lift up the cup of salvation and deliverance and call on the name of the Lord”  (Psalm 116:13).

The BLESSINGS Salvation brings…

Assurance –  (John 6:37-40).

Joy – (Matt. 18:13; John 1:45).

Seasons of Refreshment – (Acts 3:19).

SALVATION CAUSES…

Heavenly beings to stand in amazement – (Ephesians 3:10-12).

SALVATION CHANGES THINGS…

Not just behavior but… (Romans 6:17-18).

SALVATION GIVES YOU…

A position of authority – (Luke 15:22-24).

An Abundant life…”I came that they [YOU] may have and enjoy life, and have it in ABUNDANCE (to the FULL, till it OVERFLOWS)”  (John 10:10 AMP).

Salvation gives you the PRIVILEGE of being chosen and appointed by GOD Himself ~ (1 Thess. 5:9; 2 Thess. 2:13).

SALVATION MAKES ONE WHOLE...Gives meaning.

“If we are being put on trial [here] today and examined concerning a good deed done to benefit a feeble (helpless) cripple, by what means this man has been restored to health”  (Acts 4:9).

Opens one;s eyes – (John 9:1-7).

Saves and hides a multitude of sins – (James 5:19-20).

Saves one to the “uttermost”  [completely, perfectly, finally, and for all time and eternity] – (Hebrews 7:25).

The Cup of BLESSING:

Psalm 16:5:  “The Lord is my chosen and assigned portion,  my cup;  You hold and maintain my lot.”

Psalm 23:5:  “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.  You anoint my head with oil; my [brimming] cup runs over.”

1 Corinthians 10:16:  “The cup of blessing [of wine at the Lord’s Supper] upon which we ask [God’s] blessing, does it not mean [that drinking it] we participate in and share a fellowship (a communion) in the blood of Christ  (the Messiah)? “ 

So there you have it.  THREE CUPS mentioned in God’s Word and the significance they have to all mankind.

BIBLICAL WINE DESCRIPTIONS AND THEIR MEANING:

Several years ago, my wife and I traveled to Central Texas to visit family and get my 98-year-old dad resettled in an assisted care facility.  And while we were there,  my niece’s husband Marc, took us to his place of employment at Inwood Estates Winery where they make wine from Texas grown grapes.

Texas Thanksgiving  trip 2010 Diannes camera 101

Marc took us all on a tour through the winery, explaining technical terms to wine making (storage at the right temperature, aging, color, fermentation process, etc.).  At the end of the tour, we all enjoyed a sampling from a wine storage tank.

And the wine is RED–Psalm 75:8–

The Hebrew word used here -chamar-may mean either to “boil up,” or to be red; from the idea of boiling or becoming heated.

The Septuagint (GREEK translation of the Old Testament); “and He pours out from it and all the earth must drain it”–describing that He draws it off, as is done with wine.

The true picture being revealed here is probably the fermentation process; that the meaning may be, the WRATH of GOD seems to boil, fermenting the liquor.

It’s full of mixture–verse 8–“well mixed”.

It was quite common in wine making of old, to mixed the wine with spices, increasing its strength…or as we might say, drugged.  This was done frequently to increase the intoxicating quality of the WINE presented.

So the Psalmist is giving us the idea of the WRATH of GOD, being poured out like WINE, whose strength or power of intoxication was increased in effect by DRUGS.

And He pours it out of a CUP, in order that His enemies may drink it, then stagger under the demonstration of HIS WRATH; as men stagger and pass out under the influence of spiced or drugged wine.

BUT the dregs–the “lees”–the settling s–

The “dregs”– is what remains after the WINE is racked off (Isaiah 25:6).  This would contain the strongest part of the mixture, the idea being, they would drink the WRATH OF GOD from the top to the very bottom of the glass.  To the very last drop!

Drinking from Wineskin        The Montreal Gazette

“drain it” or “wring them out” (AMP & KJV):

In Biblical times, WINE was poured out and kept in skins.  The picture, they would ring out these skins to get out “ALL” that was in them, leaving nothing remaining.  Then DRINK…not merely the WINE, but the “dregs”, the “lee”…all that there was!

Who are the “they s” in the verse?

All the Wicked of the Earth–

WICKED PEOPLE everywhere.  The expression, “The Wrath of God” is not confined to one nation, or one people, but where ever wicked people are found, He will punish them.

God is just in His dealings… to ALL PEOPLE.

Who are “ALL PEOPLE” the psalmist talking about?

The reference isn’t talking about Christian “backsliders”; believers who don’t go to church every week, drink a glass of wine, slip on spiritual banana peels on occasions.  Asaph [A Psalm of Asaph] is referring to the unrighteous, the non-believers, the ungodly in the world.

GOD “EXALTS” THE RIGHTEOUS  (Verse 9-10):

“…the righteous shall be exalted.”

Notice the language here.  It is the testimony of the singer (Asaph).  He is making a VOW…to testify forever…what God has done!  He is singing with JOY in the midst of what’s going on around him–“When the earth totters, and all the inhabitants of it, it is I Who will poise and keep steady its pillars.  Selah  [pause, and calmly think of that]!”  (Psalm 75:3).  

Who is the “I” referring to?  Not Asaph, but JESUS!  Remembering who is in control of what’s going on, certainly brings JOY to my singing!

The word DECLARE in verse 9, means to make oneself conspicuous of the message heard.

John the Baptist was very conspicuous; in his diet of bugs and honey; he wore a leather suit and his MESSAGE was simple and consistent. Because of whom he was, what he did, the world stirred.  Roman kings and religious priests came to him, confessing and repenting of their sin.

Cutting Off the Horns…(Verse 10).

Now the next phrase is really important.  God is going to break or cut off the horns of the wicked.  In my detective work this week, the description given certainly grabbed my attention.

I found in research, that dehorning animals is a tough process and it’s much easier to accomplish when the animal is very small.  Waiting until it’s older, the job is more difficult and risky to the life of the animal.  The animal has to be immobilized, holding the head very carefully.

Now on a younger animal that’s just beginning to grow horn buds, a hot iron is pressed around the buds, and the skin and cells are singed.  With the older animal the horns are carefully cut away and then cauterizing the exposed blood vessels.  Have you got a vivid picture with expression on your face?  I did while researching the process and the Spirit wants to make things clear to the reader.

So the term of DEHORNING is used in verse 10 because it is the ending of the wild nature of the people we are entrusted.  It means they will have to TRUST their care-giver for protection and not to be able to use deadly force on others.  It means that they will have to submit and not fight their shepherd.

On the other hand, the RIGHTEOUS will have their horns EXALTED.  If they have horns, they can keep them because they will be given the responsibilities of watching the flock.  When the horns grow, they are honored.  This demonstrates what’s happening in our lives today.

“WE GIVE praise and thanks to You, O God, we praise and give thanks; Your wondrous works declare the Your Name is near and they who invoke Your Name rehears Your wonders”  (Psalm 75:1 AMP).