Are We Bowing to America’s Golden Image?

While many Christians appear to spend their time expressing outrage over mask and vaccine mandates, a larger mandate has already come upon us that has inaugurated a revolution that few seem to appreciate. It’s not the kind of historical revolution with which we are more familiar. This is a far different kind of revolution. And until Christians are more spiritually minded to appreciate exactly what is happening, the battle will be fought over the wrong issues, kind of like a soldier who argues over the uniform he is required to wear rather than actually stepping onto the battlefield.

What in the world is going on? Everything seems to be unraveling at the seams. Something very demonic is at work before us in our present moment. Dr. W. Robert Godfrey teaches the adult Sunday school class the Escondido United Reformed Church and he has started a new series titled, “What is Going On: Sex, Race, Politics and Power.” In the class, Godfrey has made the assertion that Christendom has come to an end in America.

This is not suggesting, of course, that Christianity has come to an end. Christianity is the faith of those who follow Christ according to his Word. Throughout history, Christianity has survived under the most brutal of all regimes. Christendom is a far different concept with which to evaluate our current moment. Christendom is the enshrinement of Christianity to be the favored religion in the governments of the world established in cultural dominance and law. That we have enjoyed the complete freedom to practice our faith due to a Constitution that enshrines the free exercise of religion is without question a most remarkable blessing.

Godfrey makes the case that for seventeen-hundred years in the West, Christianity has been the favored religion protected under law and cultural dominance. But something specific, says Godfrey, has happened in America that brought Christendom to an end. I will return to this point, but it’s important to say that until we appreciate Godfrey’s basic proposition, confusion will remain as to exactly what is happening and how Christians are to handle themselves.

Nebuchadnezzar’s Golden Image

Let’s begin with a biblical story to demonstrate that we are up against is not a new phenomenon. Imagine with me for a moment that China invaded the United States and hauled us all over by boat to live under their oppressive regime. Without any opportunity for dissent or rebellion, imagine being taken from our country and assimilated into nation that had no tolerance of our faith. This is exactly what happened to Judah in 597 B.C. when king Nebuchadnezzar, a wicked and abusive tyrant, destroyed Jerusalem and took captive Judah by uprooting them from their beloved land with the goal of assimilating them into the kingdom of Babylon.

When Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams were interpreted by Daniel, a surprising prophecy was made that Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom would soon fall, and “the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever.” Daniel was speaking of “the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 1:11).”

In response to this dream, Nebuchadnezzar set up a ninety-foot golden image in the plane of Dura, the very place where the Tower of Babel once stood. It was a direct act of defiance to Daniel’s projection of the future. When the music played, all the kingdoms of the earth were commanded to bow down and worship the golden image.

This must have been a devastating moment for Israel. Up to this point, they were free in Babylon to practice their faith without threat. With one lawless decree, Nebuchadnezzar makes the power-grab of all power-grabs as Israel was now threatened with fire if they refused to bow down to this newly fashioned golden image. We can only imagine the fear and the sense of helplessness on the part of Israel as Nebuchadnezzar’s new law required their obedience at the pain of death for defiance. Nebuchadnezzar had resurrected an image that stood in direct defiance of God, through the idolization of power, by demanding Israel’s worship of the Babylonian image.

This story from Daniel should help Christians to appreciate what is happening in our current moment. When a kingdom or nation begins to crumble and its leaders feel the pressure to retain their nation’s impending loss of power, they respond with desperate attempts to save their kingdom from imminent fall. The trajectory of Babylon is “Fallen! Fallen! (Rev. 17).” Falling kingdoms desperately attempt to assert their power over their citizens in a unifying manner.

This is no less true of the United States which is, at present, the greatest expression of Babylon on earth. The response of Nebuchadnezzar to his kingdom’s imminent fall is similar to what we have begun to experience in the United States. The rulers of America are sensing that their kingdom is being broken into pieces, just as Daniel said would happen to Babylon. In response, as Nebuchadnezzar erected a golden image to save his kingdom, so too, America is desperately grabbing for a unifying power to unite the people and revive the strength of the nation. Every totalitarian nation throughout history has done this, using its sources of law and cultural influence to reestablish their nation’s greatness in times of decline.

Covid-19 has exposed that we live in a paper palace and that our economic strength hangs by a thread. Leaders are feeling the pressure and nothing is going well. Like Nebuchadnezzar, our government is in search of a unifying power to unite the people under an image. If the story of Daniel offers us any insight into our present moment, then what we should see is that attempts to reclaim the glory of a nation is a thoroughly religious activity. In moments of panic, nations have the potential to attempt to unify their people under a new form of religious devotion, a religious system that attempts to assert itself against the Lord and against his anointed (Ps. 2).

This is what the book of Revelation is describing when kingdoms go beastly. What Christians are not appreciating is that an image has already been set up and that the power grabs on the periphery are only serving to strengthen the devotion to this golden image that has already risen tall before us. While Christians remain on the periphery and assume that the battle lies in the political fight of the right and the left, a giant image stands before us that has already been codified into law and cultural influence.

Godfrey says the specific event that brought an end to Christendom in America is the 2015 Supreme Court’s decision to legalize gay marriage. But it wasn’t simply the decision that marked the end of Christendom, it was the fact that by and large, the masses bowed to it without dissent—collectively. This is a remarkable moment. This mandate, codified into law, has entered all facets of life and demands our submission. Our nation has made a desperate attempt to regain control and power to make us bow before this image. The fundamental difference with this image is that it is an ideological one, overtaking law and cultural dominance as a requirement for adherence from every citizen.

What Christians have to appreciate is that what is before us is a thoroughly religious revolution taking shape, an ideological image under a call to religious devotion. It should be no surprise, historically speaking, that Babylon would erect images for its citizens to worship. First century citizens of Rome were soon faced with emperor worship and were called upon to bow to Caesar as Lord. But it’s a far different thing when a nation requires God’s people to bow and accept a new religion, with all of its subservient tenants, that stands directly opposed to the “faith once delivered for all the saints (Jd. 1).”

If Christians do not appreciate that what has been inaugurated in 2015 into law is a new religion being imposed upon us, we will not appreciate what we are up against. Obviously there are many tenants to this new religion. Original sin appears to be questioning that one can follow the desires of his heart. Sinners are those those who say that homosexuality is wrong. Saints are those who embrace the new sexual norm. Heretics are those who question the new orthodoxy. Penance is found in finding sympathy with those who practice what the Bible calls evil desire and tolerating the new sexual norm of the culture. And everyone is commanded to bow and celebrate what has now been enshrined into law. Obviously there are other theories at work that land in the same trajectory.

Until we appreciate that a religious system is being imposed upon us, we will be like a soldier fighting over his mandated uniform rather than engaging the true battle that enables all of these others power grabs. How many Christians are fighting Covid-19 mandates and yet have done little to help their people engage with the newly religious sexual revolution?

We Worship No Other God

A great encouragement is given to us in Daniel 3. The confidence of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is meant to inspire us. Indeed, they would not bow to the image and were immediately thrown into the fire. When Nebuchadnezzar looked in the furnace, he saw four men freely unbound and walking around freely. Believers in Christ are the truly free ones, even when governments attempt to bind us. Christ was with them, and the fire could not touch them. “The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them.” The story is meant to encourage us to stand strong in our faith. We have a promise, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. (Isa. 43:2).”

At present, we have not yet reached the point of being threatened with fire for refusing to bow to the new sexuality. That day may certainly come. But there still is a lot to celebrate, we have the freedom to come every Sabbath and worship at the feet of the true king of kings. Are we worshipping at the feet of Christ every week?

The battle is fought with the truth and God commands us to speak this truth without fear. We are being bombarded every day with sexual perversion, pornography, and the destruction of creation norms. Denominations find within their ranks those who are deceptively justifying the new cultural norm. With all this comes the pressure on our people to take on new identity’s contrary to our identity in Christ. Our children are crying out for help. Are we doing this in our homes with our children, in our churches, and to our neighbors? Or, are we still on the periphery fighting over masks and other symptoms of the political right and left, parroting that divide, while missing the much greater responsibility to stand on the truth of the gospel?

When we speak God’s truth, there we will find the Spirit accomplishing his work of convicting the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. The Scriptures tell us that the greatest victory that overcomes the world is our faith (1 John 5:4). Yes, our faith in Christ is the victory that beats down the entire world! This is why we were left on the earth, with the expressed mission to be Christ’s witnesses to his truth.

There are many distractions at the moment to the more important issues, and we are in desperate need for wisdom from God, received through prayer, to distinguish what are truly spiritual issues and what are merely symptoms and power grabs of a kingdom that is fading away as Christ brings in his eternal kingdom that shall reign forever. This wisdom should guide us in how we are to conduct ourselves in our time on this earth with godly fear. The eternal kingdom of Christ is breaking in, and all other nations are crumbling before the feet of our king. We need boldness in our day, more than ever, to speak the truth as those who are truly free.

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