My kids love to play with sand. We own a plastic sandbox, and at the beginning of every summer I buy fresh bags of sand for the kids to sculpt buildings and empires. Occasionally the boys carve winding highways suitable for matchbox cars, then with swiping of little arms and hands, the sand becomes a blank canvass ready to transform into another imaginative innovation. Even if the kids construct a “masterpiece” of sorts, with time and the annoying antics of a little sister, the creations collapse leaving barely discernible remnants of previous glory. Sand suffers from significant outside influences: wind, rain, and various other elements of the great outdoors. Jimi Hendrix once said, “Even castles made of sand, fall into the sea, eventually.”
Little children sing a song based upon one of Jesus’ parables, “The Wise and Foolish Builders.” Matthew 7:23-27 shares the following:
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
A person exercises foolishness when building upon a precarious foundation.
Today, news reports broke the story that the Democratic National Convention trucked in over 15 tons of sand from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for the purpose of sculpting a 16 foot likeness of President Obama. Apparently the Commander in Chief considers himself equal to the persona’s chiseled at Mount Rushmore. In 2008, then Presidential hopeful Obama delivered a speech on a stage designed to portray a Greek Temple. Some charged President Obama likened himself to the gods of ancient Greece. This week, with narcissistic calculation, a likeness of himself greets delegates, a surefire crowd pleaser for main stream media and political analysts like Chris Matthews. However, this “tribute” to honor the President eerily reminds me of an Old Testament story.
In Daniel chapter 3, self-absorbed King Nebuchadnezzar erected a 90 foot tall image on the plains of Dura. He issued an executive order directing everyone in the land to bow to the golden effigy. For those who refused, the mouth of a fiery furnace readied to swallow insubordinates. Many know the story. Three young Hebrew men ignored the order, refusing to compromise. Irate, the king extended a second opportunity for the Jewish boys to comply.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego said, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we don’t need to talk about this anymore. We might be thrown into the blazing furnace. But the God we serve is able to bring us out of it alive. He will save us from your powerful hand. But we want you to know this. Even if we knew that our God wouldn’t save us, we still wouldn’t serve your gods. We wouldn’t worship the gold statue you set up.
Bound from head to toe and tossed into the licking flames, the young men strolled through the fire, God intervening to spare their lives. The king watched in awe as four men walked in the furnace, the fourth appearing as a “son of the gods.” He ordered the men out, and after inspecting their appearance exclaimed,
“May the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be praised!” and “No other god can save people that way.”
God blessed obedience. God blessed young men committed to the true God of Israel. God blessed a faith, built not on the shifting sands of idolatry, but upon Himself, the Rock of our salvation.
Interestingly enough, as I write, a bulletin crossed the wires reporting torrential rains battered the Obama sculpture, sparing his facial features, but pockmarking the creation and washing away a portion of the base and right elbow. Anything fashioned of sand faces certain demise.
Whether the President intended for the sculpture to be “graven image-esque” is yet to be determined. However, the story of Daniel 3 shares a truth aptly applicable for this year’s election cycle. This Administration propagates ideologies contradicting the values and rights expressly written in our Nation’s Constitution. When the “band” plays we can bow to the tyrannical laws, believing all hope gone, or stand confidently for truth, trusting God for the outcome.
Shall America build on shifting sands sculpted by dogma resembling socialist philosophy or the Rock of our salvation and the blood sweat and tears of our Founding Fathers?