Friday, August 22, 2014

R.E.A.L. Women Devotional - Tarnished

A white satin tablecloth, fine china, crystal stemware, polished silver and candles set a perfect table for a special occasion. One of my favorite things about entertaining is setting the table. There is something that makes one feel special when sitting down to a well dressed table. There are also those who prefer not to use their special dishes, but instead display this precious dinnerware in a china hutch.

This past week, I began reading the book of Daniel. As I read Chapter 5, I was reminded of a study I went through a few years ago by Beth Moore on the book of Daniel. This particular chapter begins with a great banquet given by Belshazzar, the King of Babylon. He was the grandson of King Nebuchadnezzar and co-ruled Babylon with his father Nabonidus. Belshazzar watched over the affairs of the kingdom while his father worked on reopening trade routes that were taken by Cyrus and the Persians.

The banquet Belshazzar was having, was not your everyday shindig. What I mean by this is that, traditionally the custom at that time was that women did not attend the same banquets with the men. Remember Queen Vashti's banquet for the women in the book of Esther? He had invited his nobles, his wives, and his concubines to this party. They had been drinking wine and were possibly acting out immorally. The King wanted to kick it up a notch, so he ordered that all of the gold and silver goblets that his grandfather, Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple in Jerusalem to be brought in for them to use. (Daniel 5:1-3) Verses 3 and 4 read, "So they brought in the gold goblets that had been taken from the temple of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines drank from them. 4 As they drank the wine, they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone."

These articles from the temple were holy and undefiled. They belonged to God and were to be kept in the temple. God was angry with what Belshazzar had done. If you read the rest of this passage, God writes with his finger on the wall in an unknown script that only Daniel can interpret. God wrote on the wall for Belshazzar and for everyone else to see. The inscription said that his kingdom and life would be short lived. That very night he was slain and King Darius the Mede overtook Babylon.

When I went through this study, Beth Moore brought something to my attention. These gold and silver goblets were important to God. They were special and holy vessels. Not only did Belshazzar use them immorally, but they praised their gods with them. This was defilement at its best and it was detestable to God. Under the Old Covenant, these cups were to remain in the temple because they had been anointed by Moses and placed in the temple where God's presence dwelt. The temple is where these vessels were protected. Much like a china hutch that keeps special dinnerware protected.

Now that we live under the New Covenant, we are considered God's gold and silver vessels. 2 Timothy 2:20-21 says, "In a wealthy home some utensils are made of gold and silver, and some are made of wood and clay. The expensive utensils are used for special occasions, and the cheap ones are for everyday use. 21 If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work." (NLT) Hebrews 10:10 says, "we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."

Unfortunately, we find ourselves tarnished from the pollutants of life. (See above photo) Satan is always looking for ways to use us to celebrate his cause. He wants to defile us, just like Belshazzar did the temple vessels. His goal is to make us think we aren't holy enough for God. He can't take our salvation from us, but if he can make us think we are unholy, then he's already got a foothold on us.

The amazing conclusion of these defiled vessels is that they were sent back to the temple in Jerusalem by King Cyrus of Persia. (Ezra 1:2-8; 8:28 &29) In the book of Ezra, these vessels were now being given back to God's people and were to be reinstated as holy. We too can declare ourselves holy, even if we have been used for unholy acts. Jesus paid that price for us when he shed his blood. 1 John 1:7 tells us that the blood of Jesus purifies us from all sin. I'd like to think of Jesus cleaning us, just like that popular brand of silver cleaner/polish. Remember those commercials of the tarnished spoon and when it was dipped into his miracle cleaner, it sparkled like new? Jesus' blood is greater than any silver cleaner or polish. Even if we have defiled ourselves over and over, God see's us marked with His name and declares us holy! It doesn't matter what you've done, you are a permanent vessel in God's china hutch!

If you are feeling today a little tarnished from the pollutants in your life, know today that no matter what, you belong to God. Pray this prayer with me:

Dear Heavenly Father, I am holy because your Holy Spirit lives in me. You are the Most High God who has declared me holy because you are holy. I commit today that I will believe and start believing everyday from here on out, that I am your holy vessel. Help me to think of myself as holy. Help me to recognize the schemes of the enemy who wants to treat me as if I am not holy. You are God! Your Word is the truth and it WILL set me free. In the purifying and cleansing name of Jesus! Amen.