What is most important to God with respect to this world and all of us is not this world. He seems to be, rather, focused on eternity, and that we spend eternity with him. As we see today in Daniel’s story, sacred and important things can be sacrificed for eternity…
8 The goat became very great, but at the height of its power the large horn was broken off, and in its place four prominent horns grew up toward the four winds of heaven.
9 Out of one of them came another horn, which started small but grew in power to the south and to the east and toward the Beautiful Land. 10 It grew until it reached the host of the heavens, and it threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them. 11 It set itself up to be as great as the commander of the army of the Lord; it took away the daily sacrifice from the Lord, and his sanctuary was thrown down. 12 Because of rebellion, the Lord’s people and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground.
Daniel bore a great load as prophet of God. After he received a vision, he would be deeply troubled (Daniel 7:28) or fall ill (Daniel 8:27). I’m sure that physically, he was in an exhausting business; I also get the impression that he almost experienced the things he was envisioning, which would take both and emotional and spiritual toll on him.
In Daniel 8:10-12 we see that the powers against God stopped the daily sacrifice and the sanctuary was brought low in its prominence and function and respect in the region. God’s opponents – Babylon – prospered in everything they did at the same time that God’s people were brought down.
Truth was thrown to the ground…
That’s how it feels sometimes when God allows us to be captive for a time in the Babylon’s of life. We wonder why God would want us to fall to authority or circumstance which doesn’t respect and honour him. We can’t understand why God would ever let truth be thrown to the ground, because we think that above everything in the entire world, truth should reign.
I’m a Baptist dude, and I’ve seen our tendency first-hand. The ‘word’ is supreme in the minds of many on the conservative edge of faith. Nothing can violate the word because truth is more important to many of us than kindness, love, or mercy. And it looks to me like God has several things in his priority list which appear before truth.
On God’s watch, truth was thrown to the ground. On God’s watch, the sanctuary was brought low. On God’s watch (going back to Daniel 1), his precious people and articles from the temple were delivered to Babylon’s king to control for a season (which lasted a generation).
We see that God was willing to allow things more precious (we would think) than truth to suffer – his children and his temple were violated. On God’s watch. And truth was thrown to the ground…
The answer to what is more important to God than his people suffering temporarily and his sanctuary being desecrated and truth being compromised can be found in the story of God giving up someone who is part of himself. God gave his only Son, Jesus, who for eternity past was in the heavenly realms, equally God and unified with the Father and Spirit as God, to be a human who would become a sacrifice.
Jesus is our sacrifice once for all to fulfill that temple system of worship which had been brought low. Jesus is our sacrifice personally, as the one who restores the relationship of God’s precious children to himself. And Jesus is the one who lived in complete truth, yet who was sacrificed in complete denial of truth by a human system bent on throwing truth to the ground.
Why would God surrender his most precious eternal Son for created things? Because what is most important to God with respect to this world and all of us is that we spend eternity with him. Eternity is more important than truth. Truth can be thrown to the ground if it will help move someone toward eternity. God’s temple can be desecrated if it will help move someone toward eternity. God’s desire is for each of us to be in eternity with him.
Perhaps we could hold some things looser in our service to the God whose priorities are higher and better than ours. I’m not saying we should abandon truth and disrespect sacred spaces. It is not okay for God’s children to buy bus tickets to Babylon. That’s not what I am saying. Yet when we see these things happening today, perhaps our response could be to ask how today can be a positive influence upon eternity. How can our response and action contribute toward our neighbours, family, friends, and even Babylonians coming to a faith relationship with the God who gave his most precious Son for all of us?
Make God’s priority our priority. Let’s place eternity above everything.