It’s 10 years ago. You’re very excited. You are going to see the new iPhone. You love iPhones. They are one of few 21st Century items that, in your view, has lived up to its potential. The iPhone changed your social life, the way you did business, got you organised, unblocked your ears to rivers of new music and gave you a new view of the world and yourself.
You couldn’t be more excited. You will be one of the first people in Australia to see the new iPhone. The time has come. You walk into the display room. There it is.
You stand there marvelling. It is everything you heard it would be, but more. The form and the function are perfect. But then, you notice a presence in the room. You turn around and there HE is. The legendary Steve Jobs. But, you ignore Steve Jobs and turn back to the gleaming phone on its lighted display.
Crazy right? Of course you would not do that. Who would ignore Steve Jobs, the creator and genius behind the iPhone? Even if you disdained the iPhone, I doubt you’d turn your back on him if you were in his presence. Wouldn’t you at the very least acknowledge Steve? And what about if you love and adore the phone? Wouldn’t you show admiration and perhaps even adoration and love to Steve? It would be an act of madness, wouldn’t it to ignore Steve whilst bowing down to his phone. You are in the same room as the living, breathing creator.
And yet, this is just what we do isn’t it? We live in this extraordinary world. The form and function of this gleaming world is stunning. It is a world of such infinite wonder that we can make, behold, enjoy and utilise iPhones and millions of other wonderful delights. Even despite physical disasters the world is full of beauty and joy and wonder. It is rich in amazing pleasures and deep satisfaction. It bursts with music, art and creativity. We live in this world, our Creator’s world. He is not far from any of us for he made us and the world. He is, as it were, in the room with us with all his intelligence, creativity, power and love.
And what do we do? We so quickly and easily bow down to created things. Created things, be they material things or cultural things such as success, power, beauty – these are the things that we live for, dream about, set our hopes and find our security in. Surely this is an act of madness.
One such King did just this, Belshazzar who ruled the Kingdom of Babylon. He knew about the true and living God. He had seen the reality of God through the events of his father’s life – Nebuchadnezzar. He experienced his Father’s fall from power and restoration by the hand of God. His father even made the Creator God known to all his kingdom by public declaration. And yet, Belshazzar bowed down to the iPhones of his day.
"But you, Belshazzar, Nebuchadnezzar’s son, have not humbled yourself, though you knew all this. Instead, you have set yourself up against the Lord of heaven. You had the goblets from the Lord’s 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 5:22-23
And what happened? Belshazzar who refused to acknowledge the true and living God died that very night.
This is an aside but it is stunning is how this ancient text pins down those old new atheists who want to get rid of one more God. This ancient texts shows that when it comes to the Creator God, the God of the Jews and now Christians, we are not talking about the god of the woods, or of gold, or of thunder. He is the one who gives life, and creates and speaks and reveals. The true God is not the explanation of some part of creation. He is the explanation for the reality of creation and life itself. Reject him and and we are rejecting life.
Returning, if Belshazzar should have known and bowed down to the true and living God so should we. For we live on the other side of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus claimed to be God himself. He did the kind of things that only God could do.
Jesus came and walked on the dusty paths of his creation and revealed that he was God. Jesus was in the room with his creatures. All of this is recored and revealed in the Gospels of the Bible. Some saw Jesus and bowed down to him. Others, in an act of madness turned away focused on the creation around them rather than the Creator. They refused life.