..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)



Saturday, May 03, 2008

Daniel Bible Study: The Atmosphere of Idolatry

"Therefore, at that time, when all the
people heard the sound of the cornet,
flute, harp...and all kinds of music,
all the people...fell down and worshipped
the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar had
set up" (Daniel 3:7).

Atmosphere can really set the mood, can't it?
The word "atmosphere" comes from the Greek
"atmos" (vapor) and "spaera" (sphere), it is the
air of a locality, the surrounding influence
or the environment, or an intriguing or singular
tone, effect, or appeal.


Do you know that idolatry is often enmeshed
in a created "atmosphere"? Here in Daniel,
Nebuchadnezzar has the musicians play to
"lead" people into the worship of the golden
idol. Music has the power to lead people
past their inhibitions and past their normal
state of mind. For better or worse, it sets
a tone, makes an appeal, and has an effect.

What we might not normally do, we may find
ourselves doing given the right "atmosphere."
Consider Israel when Moses is with God on
Mt. Sinai. They do not "just decide" to worship
another god, they create a whole atmosphere
to accompany and reinforce it. They prepared the
idol, a feast was proclaimed, and then,
"party-time!" The singing and dancing created
such an atmosphere of idolatry for the golden calf,
that the people ended up "worshipping" naked
(Ex 32:25). Its hard to imagine this happening
without more than a little bit of atmosphere!

Creating an atmosphere appeals to our soulish
nature. It prepare us to let down our guard
and to be more open to receive, but the big
question is, "Receive what?"

There are so many issues feeding into this
subject that I will just touch on a few,
and speak only of one in this article.

Dear ones, I fear that we are in danger
of not discerning the Spirit of the Lord
concerning much of what is purported to be
the working and Presence of God in our midst.
The human body is amazing. If you hadn't
noticed, it can feel an amazing range of
emotions, feelings, and sensations.
It likes atmosphere, but after it is
stirred up it is not always a good judge
of the real source of what it is feeling.
Just because I feel goosebumps does not
make it the Presence of God.

Jesus told us to watch out for deception.
Many deceivers and antichrists have gone out
into the world. They are masters of illusion.
They are purveyors of atmosphere. They
are conjurers of a sense of the sacred.
And they can, themselves, be completely deceived
as to what they are doing, or willing
participants in making people "twice as fit
for hell, as they are themselves."

When these people stand before God they
tell God that they prophesied, did many
wonders, and cast out demons, IN THE
NAME OF CHRIST, and yet, God rejects
them and says that He never knew them,
and they are thrown into hell-fire
Matt 7:22,23).

So often we think that the deceivers are
outside of the church, but this is not
what Jesus is telling us here.

Right now there is a purported "revival"
going on in Lakeland, Florida. But
we would do well to ask God for discernment.
Worship sets the stage to receive something:
by its nature, it opens the heart. But
what is being received? and who is being
worshiped?

I listened to the worship songs that
were being sung at the Todd Bentley
"revival" and for as long as I listened
I did not hear one song that directly
spoke the name of Jesus. It was about
rain, and being free, being family,
and even, a long round of "when you're all
about Me, I'm all about you."
...Nothing much about the atoning work
of Christ, nothing much about holiness,
nothing much about the pre-eminence of
Christ above everything.

And then, when the hearts are soft, and
the atmosphere is just right, are we
given the Word of God, truthfully exposited?
or something else, something very
frighteningly something else? I adjure
you to examine the atmosphere of
"revivals" like these in light
of the Word of God.

In this case, while the worship may
produce a good feeling, it is scripturally
on dodgy ground. So we are in trouble before
we even get to the main course, where the
ground appears to ooze into quicksand quite
rapidly. I don't think Paul "visualized" himself
into the third heaven, nor do I think that the
angel named Emma is anyone that I would
want on my team.

Would to God that this were an isolated
experience, but it is not. Jesus told
us that the true worshippers worship
in Spirit and in truth. There is a lot
that we need to understand about what
He means. "In Spirit" does not mean
any sort of spiritual experience that
comes along, it means, "by means of the
Holy Spirit." "In truth", well, don't
even get me started. If our worship
is to be pleasing and acceptable to
God, it must be worship of God as
He is, and has revealed Himself,
through Scripture, to be. He must be
be given His rightful place and
we must be in our rightful place
as His worshippers.

Once we are in an "atmosphere" we
can be lulled to sleep and wake up
having been captured by something
that is not of God. We must judge
all things in the light of the
Word of God to see what be of Him.
We cannot assume that something is
from God because we thought we
felt the "presence of God" in it.
What we discern to be the presence
of God may be a host of other, not
so godlike, things.

I do not write this to frighten you,
nor to criticize. I write this to
warn you. Idolatry always has a
atmosphere. That's why there are so
many bars, that's why rock musicians
have such great followings, that's
why it costs so much to join the
country club, and that's why deceivers
gather such a willing audience to themselves.

It's all in the atmosphere. Literally. It
gives new meaning to the phrase "the prince
of the power of the air" whom Paul says
is the spirit that works in the sons
of disobedience (Eph. 2:2).

Dear ones, I exhort you to pray earnestly.
Let God sift through what you believe and
allow Him to leave only the Truth.
Immerse yourself in the Word
of God. Many deceivers have gone out
into the world. Many more are still
coming. All Nebuchadnezzar had to do
was play the music. Whose tune are
you falling down to?


(This is part of a series on the Book
of Daniel. Other studies are filed
in the archives under "Daniel Bible Study")










4 comments:

Kathleen said...

Oh, Rose Marie, this cut right to the heart of the matter...Praise God for men and women who can hear what the Spirit is saying to the church...I had to share this and will share this with others...

The Pen of The Wayfarer said...

In these troubling times we need to seek God and search the scriptures, and pursue holiness with the Lord so that we can clearly hear from Him. May God protect His people from that which is not of Him!

Bonny said...

Thank you for your words, Rosemary. I certainly agree with your comments about the atmosphere and music. I do not believe these type of 'revivals' are of God at all. People do strange things when they are in an altered state of consciousness, including open themselves up to chanelling demons. Is sin confronted? Is the Name of Jesus Christ, and His holiness and righteousness exalted, or is everyone out for a big free for all experience? Jesus warned that it is a crooked and perverted generation that seeks after signs and wonders. Witches or occultists would probably laugh, knowing full well the source of these 'revivals', and know that there are not only demonic healings possible, but the human body in an altered state of consciousness can actually release endorphines, replicating a 'heaing' experience, yet we questionable Christians covet the experience like krispy creme donuts. Sorry, Rosemary, I feel very strongly about these things! How we need to discern the Lord's voice and hear Him in these days!

FollowJesusAlone said...

Thank you Wayfarer for again speaking the Truth and wisdom that the LORD has revealed to you! Yes, I too thought I was the lone voice that did not feel "sucked" into the revivial excitement of these "prophets" and "revivials". I know that my God never changes, and as you have stated before, His Spirit is gentle and He deals line upon line and precept upon precept, not impulse upon impulse!!! He looks for His people to worship Him in purity and holiness, with clean hands that are turned only to Him. His Spirit will empower us with His Life, and not with emotion that is "stirred" up by music and other forms of excitement! His LIFE IS EXCITING by giving Peace and Joy that the world cannot explain! Hallelujah to His Name forever!