“Fear God and give Him glory, for the hour of His judgment has come. Worship Him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.” – Revelation 14:7
Going behind the Iron Curtain very soon after the Wall came down, was a fascinating experience! Walking through East German towns and viewing the paucity of goods on dusty, dingy shelves in a gray society, walking through parks in waist high weeds, or strolling along streams filled with old tires, discarded cans, and discarded hub caps, viewing old, once majestic buildings, with crumbling carved facades, seeing pedantic cement, colorless structures built to house thousands of families and occupants, all of this pictured a dreary life of loss of freedom, creativity, neatness or color and, worst of all, a depressed outlook on life. The people you passed on the street kept their head down, did not look up, smile, or greet you, or enjoy seeing the sun. Communism took a fearsome toll on these populations.
There have been and are grand societies of history, filled with ornate palaces, and majestic structures, and gilded mansions. And there have been and are empires of poverty, disease, and loss of hope. Throughout history, empires have been both magnificent and downtrodden, wealthy and poor, healthy and diseased. Normally, the spirit of man has been able to recover from the poisoned spears of plague and war, depression and collapse, disintegration and disillusion. They then raise up, once more, prosperous and powerful regimes, to outdo the past, building their Babel-like structures higher and more magnificent than before. But history is filled with images of both prosperity and ruin.
When the devil took Jesus from the dry, impoverished wilderness to show Him the empires of the world, displaying them all before His view, I am sure he avoided the failed nations and causes, the plague ravaged populations, or the results of war’s destruction. It was all the most desirable empires of power, wealth, armies, and magnificent structures. He certainly did not want to seduce Jesus with man’s failures, or misfortunes. It was all the most humanly coveted from the world’s and the devil’s perspective.
The Son of God was well aware of the entire condition of mankind, failures and success. Things come and go, things deteriorate, empires are not eternal, man continues in a downward slide. How did the devil figure he could seduce the Wisdom of the ages? He who is Wisdom itself? With the worship of things and/or created, fallen man?
We are currently seeing the riches, past and present, of four nations from Budapest to Amsterdam, akin to having empires pass before our eyes on the rivers’ banks; castles and towns, some castles still inhabited, others magnificent ruins, if such description is not contradiction. The sights are truly glorious, especially to us who have not seen the new heavens and new earth. They are of days and years long ago. They are of present life and vibrancy, but also of present life and unbelief.
There are many things and people that might invite your worship of them, but none of it permanent. Worship today, gone tomorrow. Are they really worth your worship? Is the worship of things and/or people truly thoughtful worship? Or is it a temporarily enticing, subverted kind of worship? Why is man so seduced by the impermanent? It is because he has not allowed his eyes or heart to view and consider what is permanent and eternal, and compare. Man is caught up in the transitory. They meet his current delights; delights which never satisfy, but are fleeting. It is a sad commentary that man worships things which are fleeting to fill appetites which are every bit as fleeting. They exchange the eternal for a mess of pottage.
The history of man, the things they build, and the ultimate results are evident to anyone willing to research and study and observe objectively. The devil gave Christ a bird’s eye, but edited view. You have enough resources to plumb the depths of man’s past and see how transitory and fraught with failure it is. If your worship is as unsatisfying as that history you are without excuse if you trade that “mess of pottage” for the eternal God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As Jesus answered the devil’s temptation in the wilderness, “Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.”
“Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail, in you do we trust, nor find you to fail; your mercies how tender, how firm to the end, our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend!”
(5th verse of Sir Robert Grant’s hymn, “O Worship the King,” 1833)
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