Sunday service 18 July 2021 – Do not bow to the golden image

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We greet everyone in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the reason we meet. I pray and Rev Stegen prayed this morning and said, “Oh Lord, wouldn’t you change the lives of people this morning.” It is such a privilege and an honour to still have Rev Stegen with us. I thank the Lord from the bottom of my heart that we have a man like him in our midst. If God has chosen a man, he remains a chosen vessel for as long as he lives. God is the God of Daniel and this morning I say, the God of Rev Stegen, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Daniel is still the same God today. Today Rev Stegen asked that mielie meal and water be taken to people who are hungry because of the many shops that have been looted. His heart goes out to those who have nothing. Man robs but God’s people build up and feed others. That is the difference. Communism says what’s yours is mine, but Christians says what’s mine I give to you. A total contradiction.

Last week we had the Youth Conference. It was a good and blessed time. We received many phone calls from people who were touched and made their lives right. A person phoned me from Germany and said, “I have heard the Gospel for the last 30 years, but it is brand new to me. God is working like He did at the beginning of the revival. Things have changed in my home and at my place of work.” Many people were touched by Daniel and his three friends. So, this morning, I would like to return to that topic and conclude. King Nebuchadnezzar forced his religion onto the people of that country who were not all following his religion. It is interesting how the devil uses the same tactics today. People and governments want to force you to do as they do and think as they think.

Nebuchadnezzar the king [caused to be] made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits or ninety feet and its breadth six cubits or nine feet. He set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon.

Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together the satraps, the deputies, the governors, the judges and chief stargazers, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs and lawyers, and all the chief officials of the provinces to come to the dedication of the image which King Nebuchadnezzar had [caused to be] set up. Daniel 3:1 – 2

I wonder if our lawyers would have gone. They are educated but it is interesting that he even invited the lawyers. All those who had a position or power in his kingdom were called to this meeting. It is also interesting that governments want to force their thinking onto their citizens even if it is contrary to God’s word.

In the first service of the conference, Rev Stegen mentioned that the attacks on Daniel and his friends came in waves. The attacks on the Jews and Christians today come in waves. This is true in our own lives. The devil will attack. Beloved, do not be amazed and bewildered at the fiery ordeal which is taking place to test your quality, as though something strange (unusual and alien to you and your position) were befalling you. 1 Peter 4:12 He will test the quality of your faith in order to purify and strengthen you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or any sort of criminal, or as a mischief-maker (a meddler) in the affairs of others [infringing on their rights]. 16 But if [one is ill-treated and suffers] as a Christian [which he is contemptuously called], let him not be ashamed, but give glory to God that he is [deemed worthy to suffer] in this name. 1 Peter 4:15,16

Nebuchadnezzar was a great king. He could build this huge image of about 30 metres high and have it coated in gold. They say that image was a copy of the king himself. When he returned from wars that he had won and took the spoil and used it to build this idol. It was built in the valley of Dura. It was in the same place in Genesis 11 where man spoke one language and built a tower to reach heaven – the Tower of Babel. Friends, when our spiritual life is in a valley, that is when things go wrong. When we live in a lukewarm situation, in a valley, that is when our lives go wrong. You set up images. You build things for your own kingdom and you think you are doing it for God. This is when people find fault with others. This is when people gossip. God put these events together. He never makes a mistake. This is a stark warning to us. When we begin serving other things and our priorities change, we find ourselves in a valley and in a very dangerous situation. The people were united. They spoke the same language, but God brought confusion amongst them. If we become confused about spiritual matters, it is because of our lives and how we live.

Rev Stegen spoke about the Chaldeans. Nebuchadnezzar belonged to the Chaldean race which is why the Chaldeans had such an influence on the king. I wonder whether it was the Chaldeans who influenced the king to set up the idol. (It is an idol because one had to bow down to a foreign god.) It would not surprise me if they whispered into the king’s ears. It is only later that you understand the motive behind this. (When you want to catch a rat, do you set a trap and hope the rat will find its way into it? You must put some cheese on to attract the rat to the trap.) These Chaldeans set a trap. For whom? God’s anointed.

Where did the Chaldeans originate from? Nahor, the brother of Abraham. No wonder God said to Abraham, “Leave your family and your father’s household. Come to a place I will show you.” God knew that one day Abraham’s own family would persecute them the most. That is why the Chaldeans hated the Jews. They knew where they stood and the blessing on their lives. Today there are about 400 000 Chaldeans in America and about a million in Syria. From a mighty nation they dwindled to nothing. Time does not exist with God. He took them from the mightiest nation that ruled the world but today they are spread all over. They have their own Catholic Church. These Chaldeans set a trap for God’s children. They knew that a Jew could not bow before an idol. It would have been different if whoever wanted to, could bow to image but they knew that would never work. The people had to be forced so that it would be clear who was not on their side.

Daniel had interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dream before this. He dreamt about a statue that had a head of gold. The rest of the statue was made of iron, mud, clay and bronze. Nebuchadnezzar was told that he was the head of gold but that his time was limited, and other kingdoms would come. So Nebuchadnezzar became proud and uplifted. 18 years later he built an image that not only had a head of gold but the whole statue was of gold. This is what he thought of himself. No kingdom or government will be there for all eternity. God will make sure of that. Only the kingdom of God, of our Lord Jesus Christ, that Rock that came to destroy the statue in the dream, has remained from eternity until today.

The Chaldeans built the image. Why? They were jealous of the Jews and of how God used Daniel. They were jealous of the wisdom the Jews had. They hated God’s children. Friends, be careful who speaks to you. You do not know people’s motives. You do not know what is in their hearts, you just hear the words. Remember the trap for the rat which is why the Bible tells us to watch and pray. If we are not careful, laws will be made, and things will be upheld which are totally contrary to the Christian belief and to what God says in His word. If we are not careful, we will fall into that trap.

Some people today say that masturbation is not wrong. A person can do it to relieve himself rather than go to someone else. That is a trap and it is not how God wants us to live. Young people think that if they get married, all these problems will disappear. “I will not need to look at pornography anymore.” This is the image the world portrays, and this is what people are taught: “If you marry, young person, that will be the end of porn.” Porn is a drug, remember that. It is a drug which will make you like an animal, and you will live like one. What will you think of your wife? What will a wife think when she finds out that her husband watches pornography? That is why so many families are rotten to the core because dad is secretly looking at these things. A clever, wise wife will find out and reveal it. It may help the man. He might get such a shock that he will never do it again. A wise woman and a wise wife is sharp. You should be so sharp that you pick it up. Why are you fast asleep? You should have long helped that man, brought it to the light, given him a kick in his backside to wake him up because he is going to hell. The Bible says, “I will make a helpmeet for you, someone who will be able to help you to serve God 100 times better.” Do not think that if you defile yourself and use your hands it is not bad. It is utterly disgraceful. God never created man to live like an animal. No wonder that Paul said to Timothy, “Flee youthful lusts.” Do not accommodate them. Flee. Get away from it.

Young person, you know too much. You know things that older people do not even know. You want to get married but you are not even pure. How will that work? Tell me. Isn’t it time that you get victory over sin? So that when you obey God in what He says, it will be blessed? Why? Because it was pure before it even started. Is that not what you want? Is that not what you yearn for? Go to somebody who can help you and pray to God that He helps you. In our lives we often do things upside down and then we wake up too late. You have got a chance. God has given us an opportunity to live such lives and to build our homes on a rock which is steadfast, clean, pure.

King Nebuchadnezzar called everybody. He knew where to start. He got all the influential people onto his side so that he would be able to enforce what he had planned. How can you run a nation if you are not united? COVID-19 has brought many things across the lives of Christians. I do not say that we must go against what God brought about and that we should neglect and despise the laws. As an example, COVID-19 has forced us to not gather as a church. It is a law, be it right or wrong, that you cannot oppose. You can be caught for contravening the law. But God’s word is contrary to what we are told. God and Paul stipulated that as a body of Christ we need to come together but friends, look at the situation in which we find ourselves today. Christians in atheistic and communistic countries went through hardships to meet secretly. I am not saying that we should do the same, but we should look at not finding ourselves later in a rat trap. Paul specifies that we should not neglect meeting as a body of Christ. We must be careful because of the dangerous disease. But where are we heading? What is going to happen? On social media and TV you see thousands of people streaming into a place, screaming without masks. They do whatever they want. Nobody says anything, nobody stops them. Thousands attend drinking parties, and they all have excuses. As Christians we respect what is happening and I am doing it but where are we heading?

Nebuchadnezzar saw that Daniel and his friends had great influence in his country which is why the Chaldeans said, “We are going to lose out. We are going to lose our power, our authority. The Jews are too strong. They serve a great God.” This may have been the reasoning behind it all. Friends, be honest if you sit at home, it is not a church. If you livestream the service and listen, it is not the same as being in a church. If you see the attack on the church in the last year, and especially on our church and on what God is doing, you begin to get a small picture of where we are heading. Firstly, the newspapers tried to destroy Rev Stegen and the mission, then this disease arrived. I respect the COVID restrictions, but Christians need to wake up. See that you do not bow to things that contradict your faith.

An American wrote something significant in a Genesis article: There are many areas where the laws of the land are now coming into conflict with the ways of God. An Answers in Genesis article states that the American government:

attempted to force pastors to officiate at gay weddings; coerced Christian colleges to accept homosexual behavior or lose government aid…have effectively forced religious and pro-life groups based in Washington, DC, to hire people who are pro-abortion and provide them the insurance coverage that includes abortions
(https://answersingenesis.org/religious-freedom/)

Many are faced with an unwanted pregnancy, but the Chaldeans know what they are busy with. They aim to destroy God’s work. People are then told that the only way out of an unwanted pregnancy is to abort. They do not explain the consequences of an abortion. One day I spoke to an old lady of 80+ years and she said, “I did something as a young girl. I aborted but through all these years I cannot forget what I did.” If you bow to the image, you deaden your conscience and that is what the devil wants – commit a sin which will deaden your spiritual life. They want to destroy the Christians by forcing them to do things which are contrary to the Bible.

It is said that the king built an image of himself. (That is a service on its own.) An image of himself -“I”. There are many people in this world who are ruled by their image. I want my way, my will, that’s my image, that’s me. In German we say – the will of a person is his heavenly kingdom. Children, your parents will not allow you to do your own will to teach you to bow under a will that is from God. Nebuchadnezzar said, “Look at who I am! Look at what I can achieve! Look at how I have been educated!” Another image that people love to display is: I am poor, I belong to the poor. The Lord said to His disciples when that woman with the oil came, “You will always have the poor with you, but you will not always have Me because I will return to heaven.” Lazarus was so poor that his wounds were licked by the dogs. But never once, did he covet from the rich man. He resolved to keep himself pure before God. We do not read that he ever stole from the rich man’s kitchen. Not once. But when he died, God took him and put him next to Abraham in heaven. Brethren, that is why I fear, we no longer meet and this could be the reason people are looting and destroying because Christians are not allowed to meet and pray to the living God. We hope and pray that one day God will help us. May the Lord have mercy on us – our country is in turmoil. There may be Chaldeans who are promoting and instigating this. May God have mercy on us. The three young men said, “The Lord we serve is able to save us.” The Lord can still help you, even if you stole things and hid them.

The image of a sexy woman is a golden image that is evil in the church worldwide. Throughout the world, this image is prevalent. We should never be like it. Another image which is portrayed is the clothes you wear. Many Christians fall into that trap. I need to wear this brand and that brand. What is your motive behind it? Why do you want to do it? Why do you want people to bow before you and acknowledge that you are handsome, you are beautiful? Young men like to display their muscles even if they are flimsy. As a Christian, what makes you different to the world? Pants halfway down your backside? Friends, let us remember that we do it not because of who we are but because we are called by a holy God who rules this world. What do you want to portray through wearing tattoos? This is an image to bow to but in God’s eyes it is wrong. The Chaldeans knew that if they raised this image, they would catch these people. The people knew that if they did not comply, they would be pulled limb from limb. The Chaldeans knew man is a fearful creature.

From the beginning of the revival, Rev Stegen portrayed Jesus Christ crucified. He was crucified to die for our sin and save us from it. That is the image we have, and nobody has an excuse. This image of the Lord Jesus Christ has been portrayed to us, and for many, since our childhood. To Him you must bow. You must honour and obey him. We were taught what Christ expects of us and how we should live according to His word. You remember from what background you came where you wore trousers as a woman. It became the evillest thing when you got converted, but now you are in the valley of Dura. And it is no longer so bad, everyone does it.

The Lord taught us to always pray. Prayer is a key to our spiritual lives. Prayer drove Daniel and his friends, which is why they were later chastised and threatened with death. Today we indulge in the sins of heathens, we live as heathens without a conscience. We do not pray in our homes. We were taught as children to do everything as unto the Lord. This is a profound mystery. We could not just take what belonged to others and say, “God has blessed me.” Another thing we were taught as children was that we should not talk together, or all at the same time. There should be peace and one should be always humble. We were taught that God is a God of order, and we should be disciplined and not simply make a lot of noise as is made in taverns. We were taught that if something separates us from Jesus, we should run and make it right. Someone who is alive will live like this. We were taught to not allow anything to come between you and your brother. We were taught not to speak to others and draw them into the matter, gossiping about it. But if the brother does not listen, take him to someone else for help. I was privileged to have grown up before Rev Stegen. I learned strictness from him. We speak in this manner because the Lord Jesus was portrayed in front of us. You cannot use the Lord’s name in vain. If someone talks like this in front of you, you do not even help him and tell him he will not be blessed if he speaks in that way. We were taught that if a brother takes what does not belong to him and you see it but do not help him, you are also guilty. It is a narrow road, but the Lord has promised that He will save us, and He will help us even if it is painful.

An Israeli came to visit us here. Because of the work we do, they come and go. He saw the way in which we lived and said that he grew up on a kibbutz where they lived and worked together, and everybody was the same. A kibbutz reminds me so much of the mission. When they come here, they say that they feel at home. One day one of them said something which stuck. He said that at the kibbutz where he grew up, they experienced a problem. This problem came about through gossip and it destroyed the kibbutz. They would see someone barbecuing meat and they would wonder whether he got the meat from the kitchen because he worked there. Then they would also desire meat and could not get it and the gossip began. It destroyed their kibbutz.

We were taught that if you have something against your brother, go straight to him and tell him. Over the years many people have worked for me. Recently I said in front of everybody, “Do you remember how things used to be? I want to thank you, today that when I tried to help you that you bowed and listened.” Do you think it is easy to teach someone? No, it is not. You may be 50 or 60 years old, and every day Christ must teach you. How many times in the past has He not taught you?

Why did Daniel and his three friends stand when this statue was put in front of them. In the beginning they had made up their minds: this is the way I will walk. The decision was made in the beginning to live a pure life. Do not think that if small things worry you and you fall, that when big things come you will stand. It does not work.

Rev Stegen closed his sermon last week with these words: For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome. Jeremiah 28:11 He will give us hope, not only for ourselves, but for our country. I often say that I have hope for this country, no wonder He gave us Rev Stegen and revival, for nothing? Oh, the plans He has for us if we stay true, plans for welfare, not for evil and to give you hope in your final outcome. Think of it. God’s desire, God’s yearning for His children and His people is their welfare. He wants the best for them even if at times it does not seem that way. He wants the best for their lives. Daniel was about 15 years old when they reached Babylon and after 70 years, he was allowed to return with his people to rebuild Jerusalem and the king even helped them.

Christ was portrayed before us. He taught us to do our best, help other people, to build up, not to destroy, to be an encouragement and that even through His name, our country can be built up into something that we have never experienced. Even in this time that we live in, may it be a time where we walk with the Lord in a prayerful way and that we are found on our knees and praying for every soul in the country and the world.

I have a book which I received from an Israeli company. It has strawberries on the cover. That is what the Lord wants us to be – beautiful fruit that everyone will yearn for and say, “I wish I had something like that.”

As Christians we should stand up in God’s time and in God’s way for the truth. We should be in the forefront helping people and our country. It is easy to find fault but that is not how we were taught to live. What can we do to uplift God’s kingdom in a practical way? So many people who have nothing need help. They have no work, what will we do? It is a challenge. Daniel and his three friends influenced the whole country, not only the kings, for the better.

May the God who saves be with us.

Conclusion Michael Ngubane
Thank you very much. This message should wake us out of our sleep. Our eyes have been opened and we have been warned to open our eyes and see what is going on around us.

Are we alert? Are we observant? Do we see the danger of this image in front of us which we are compelled to bow and worship? What will we do? How will we respond?

A believer on his own and isolated will wilt. There is not much good that can be expected from that person. Let us beware that we do not grow lukewarm and eventually forsake the Lord. You should not only have the title of believer. It should not happen that COVID-19 produces a lot of heathens. Contact the other brethren. Daniel and his friends were in contact with others.

At present there is even a shortage of bread, people are queuing, they are rationed for a loaf of bread. Do you see how quickly things can change? We heard about these things in communist countries where there is no fuel but so quickly, we are experiencing similar things. This is where we are headed if God is not merciful to us.

Let us wake up out of our spiritual slumber. Lend a hand to anyone in need. We will be unable to be of help if our hearts are ice-cold. We will not be of assistance if we do not have an eye to see or notice a need. Let us wake up from our sleep, be sharp, alert and see what time it is on God’s clock. Let us not allow things into our lives that will make us dull and blunt. We should be sharp and see where we can make a difference. Let us sanctify ourselves before God and rid ourselves of those things that make us go against the will of God then we will be able to serve Him as we ought to. We have been taught not to be self-centred and self-seeking but to think of others.