“…So the daily sacrifice was halted, and truth was overthrown…”
Daniel 8:12 (NLT)
This blog was originally published in August 2019. I've updated and republished. It's message will never expire, no matter how long it's been on the shelf.
Before you start thinking, “Daily sacrifices? That's not a thing anymore”, let’s consider about the bigger picture. In this age of pandemics, increasing natural disasters, and political upheaval, we are easily distracted from the most needful thing: unadulterated, plain-spoken truth. No less for us than the people who populate the pages of Scripture.
In Daniel’s day, sacrifices were a reality, both in pagan and Jewish culture. It was a thing, like going to Walmart is a thing today. Common. Expected. No big deal.
God had instituted the sacrificial system for his chosen nation, Israel, to point ahead to Messiah’s substitutionary death on the cross for our sins. We can look back and see the significance. Most of the Jewish people back then? Not so much. But God did give them signposts along the way. The priests and prophets were tasked with making sure the nation understood what was at stake. Some of those leaders did a good job of that and some did not.
But what does it all have to do with us Walmart-goers in 2020?
In Daniel 8:12 we have a frightening prognostication. Not only was it happening in Daniel’s day, but it foretold a time in the future when truth would be overthrown. That future is now.
We step in the detritus of truth daily. It lays like shards of glass all around our feet. We can’t go anywhere without butting up against the grim reality. What am I talking about?
“The daily sacrifice was halted…”
How do we halt it?
Each time the church turns away from deep communion with God, both individually and corporately, trading relationship for religion, we halt the daily sacrifice of time with him. Each time we hold to a tradition instead of to the truth and simplicity of his Word, we halt the daily sacrifice of submission to his authority. Every instance of reverence directed to a personality on a stage instead of to the Creator of the universe halts the daily sacrifice. Today, as never before in the history of man, we worship at the altar of the expedient, the comfortable; we bow to the one with the loudest voice.
And more. You can fill in the blanks with the truth laying broken at your own feet.
The current stark revelations in the media about bright lights of Christendom dimming and winking out prove this point. Of course, this is nothing new. Megachurch pastors and leaders have been falling off the holiness wagon for decades. But…
It’s different today. From what I’ve read in recent media stories, these leaders are hailed by some in the church as heroes. They are called authentic, reformers, transparent, and a host of other vague words designed to make us think they’re on the right track at last.
Maybe some are. I don’t pretend to know their motives, where they see Christ’s church going, and I don’t want to judge them. Heaven forbid that I should judge them!
But how about discernment?
I read what they say about their “journey” away from Christianity, and frankly, I don’t want to go with them. Some say they have renounced their Christian faith. Is that tantamount to saying they now reject Jesus Christ as their Lord? Was he ever their Lord? I don’t know. That’s between those people and their God. Some have made statements about current issues that directly contradict what God’s Word states. Are they skating on thin ice? I hear it cracking under their feet.
Here’s the thing. When an avowed unbeliever directly contradicts the Word of God, either by word or deed, it doesn’t mean much. But when a Christian—a person who has publicly confessed the blood of Jesus, especially those who have influenced others to do so—does an about face and “walks away” from his or her faith, we sit up and take notice. Most of us will shake our heads in sadness and cling harder to Christ. We will say, “Well, we live in a fallen world.” And we will go on.
But what scares me is that many will go with them. Many will take this road away from faith in Christ, either because they never knew him to begin with, or, if they did, because it’s a more pleasant road with fewer of the hardships encountered by trying to live a holy life in an unholy world.
Bottom line: truth is overthrown when we stop listening to it and living it. Daniel knew it in his day. It’s time for us to return to simple faith in Christ through obedience to his Word. We must reject the false notion that God’s Word must be interpreted according to the age and culture we live in.
We must embrace the truth that the age and culture in which we live must be interpreted by God’s Word.