Idol Factory

Daniel 2:46-3:8


You can affirm God with your mouth without ever accepting His Leadership in your heart.


Years ago, our large family inhabited a small townhouse in the State Capital of New York, Albany. Our neighbors to one side were a family of Polish immigrants. To this day, I still cannot pronounce their names correctly, but Arlena and Andjec became good friends, and their children became friends of ours. We’d regularly visit their home for a time of games, fellowship, and really hot coffee. I mean, really hot. Andjec would even heat the milk to near boiling to make sure that it didn’t cool down the coffee.

It was while trying to sip one of these cups of molten lava one night that we noticed that Moriah was not part of the gaggle of kids running around. It was Christmas time, and the house was fully decorated. We searched the basement, the bedrooms, and every closet in this townhouse, but no Moriah. Finally, someone found her, back behind the Christmas tree, surrounded by presents, dead cold asleep with a chocolate stain around her mouth. Arlena, in her heavy Polish accent, said, “She’s gotten into the candy.” And started laughing.

The problem was, this just wasn’t normal candy. They were Polish rum balls, and my three-year-old daughter was drunk as a skunk under the Christmas tree. We laugh at this now, but looking back at it, there are some important lessons that you can learn from the experience. 

  1. The heart is greedy. Enough is never enough. If Mo would’ve stopped at one rum ball, she would’ve been fine. But one wasn’t enough. For the greedy heart, enough is never enough.
  2. The heart needs guarding. Mo was little, but she still knew what she was doing was wrong. She was hiding. She was hiding amongst the presents. She was hiding behind the Christmas tree. Her heart needed guarding but she fled to a place where there was no guidance.
  3. The heart needs grace. We chose not to discipline Moriah. She was so little, and we figured the headache the next day would be punishment enough. What her little heart needed was grace.

Your heart and my heart and just like Moriah’s heart. Our hearts are greedy, they need guarding, and we all need grace. We all need grace because the inertia, the pull of the human heart is to create idols for itself. Our hearts are restless. Our hearts seek pleasure. Our hearts seek satisfaction. Our hearts seek our own way. The Bible says that the heart is “desperately wicked and deceitful above all things…” This isn’t a pretty picture! This restless heart of ours is an idol factory churning out bricks and mortar day after day to construct little gods with our own hands.

An idol is more than a statue. It is more than an image on a mantle or an icon on a wall. An idol is anything that we look to for the provision that only God can provide. An idol is anything that offers us satisfaction apart from Jesus Christ. An idol is anything that promises to be the only thing that we need that isn’t God Himself!


We saw last week God gave Daniel a unique revelation to not only retell King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, but also to give an interpretation of the dream. This saved not only Daniel’s life, but the life of his three friends as well. This is where we pick up the story today.

I. The King’s Respect for God’s Servant.

Daniel 2:46 says, “Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face and paid homage to Daniel, and commanded that an offering and incense be offered up to him.” This is shocking behavior for a King! No King in that day would bow before another, especially to a slave. No King would put his face to the ground, especially to a young foreigner. This is scandalous behavior. No one could have expected behavior like this. 

The King fell upon his face and worshipped Daniel. Not only did he bow down, he also brought a sacrifice and an offering before Daniel. Listen, he was treating Daniel like a god. This is the bent of the human heart. This is the tendency of the human soul. We treat the things of this earth like gods and ignore the God who made all the things of this earth. We bow down to the things of this world and not the Creator of the world. Instead of remembering that God made man in His image, we try to make gods out of the image of men. Nebuchadnezzar showed respect for God’s servant, but he did not show godly respect.

Look at verse 47, “Truly, your God is God of all gods, and Lord of all kings, and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery.” Despite his unhealthy respect for Daniel, the King still realized that Daniel could not have retold nor interpreted the dream on his own. He knew that there was a higher power involved. And the King said all the right things. Daniel, your God is above every idol, your God is the Lord over all leaders.” He said the right thing. He confessed the right truth. But listen, don’t miss this: you can say the right thing but not believe the right thing and you can confess the right thing but not possess the right thing.

The fundamental problem is found in the King’s pronoun: “your God.” Not, “my God,” but “your God.” The King demonstrates that it is possible to acknowledge God without ever accepting Him as your God. It’s easy to judge the King from afar. It’s easy to offer a rebuke, but the reality is that some of us are just like Him.

  • For some of us, God is the God of our parents, but not the God that is ours personally.
  • For some of us, God is the Lord of our loved ones, but not the Lord of our life.
  • For some of us, God is the King of our congregation, but not the King of our conscience.

Nebuchadnezzar’s head was in the right place, but his heart was not. Oh, dear soul, consider the awesomeness of the truth that the King of the Universe can be yours personally. Consider the majesty of the reality that the Lord of all Lords, the Leader of all Leaders, the Governor of all Governors wants to personally, individually, and intimately involved in your own life. Nebuchadnezzar saw the mighty hand of God at work in an individual soul but he said, “your God,” when God wanted to be his God. Can you say today, “God is my God,” or are you left to say, “God is your God?” 

II. The King’s Reward for God’s Servant.

Verse 48 says, “Then the king gave Daniel high honors and many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon.” Daniel was rewarded for his revelation. The King showed Daniel showed favor upon Daniel.

But Daniel did not forget his friends. Verse 49 says, “Daniel made a request of the king, and he appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego over all the affairs of the province of Babylon. But Daniel remained at the king’s court.”

What began as a potentially deadly tragedy ended in triumph. What began as a death sentence ended with a tremendous promotion. It was all possible because Daniel was a man of integrity, who chose to do what is right, to take a stand for what is moral, and to put himself in a position to be used by God. Daniel and his friends received the rewards from the king, but it is God who deserves all the glory. God is able and willing to work even in the darkest days, in the darkest hours, with the darkest rulers of the darkest nations to promote His plan and His purpose. God is not thwarted nor slowed by the evil acts of mankind, but His purpose presses forward even in the most difficult circumstances. 

III. The King’s Response to God’s Sovereignty

Chapter 3 of Daniel says in verse 1, “King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold…” What an interesting segue. This idol was 90 feet tall and 9 feet wide. It could be seen anywhere from the plains or the city.

Verse 4 says that a herald told the people, anytime you hear music playing, “you are to fall down and worship the golden statue that Nebuchadnezzar has set up. And whoever does not fall down and worship shall be immediately cast into a burning fiery furnace. Therefore, as soon as all the peoples heard the sound of every kind of music they fell down and worshiped the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.”

A couple of things to notice. First of all, it was a gold statue. If you remember last week, as Daniel retold the King his dream, Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2:38), you are the head of gold. His Kingdom was represented by a head of gold. The King was swept up by this. He loved the idea. He was the head. He was on top. He was the most precious metal. And so in creating this idol, Nebuchadnezzar was actually instructing the people to bow down and worship him. We don’t know exactly what this image looked like. It may have been an image that looked like Nebuchadnezzar or one of the gods of Babylon. We don’t know, but it was designed to represent Nebuchadnezzar’s rule and reign. It was to bring the king glory and not to give glory to God.

This idol was set up in the Plains of Duran. This is the same location that back in Genesis 11 became the home of the Tower of Babel. In that story, the people gathered together and said, “Let us make bricks and build a tower with its top in the heaven so that we can make a name for ourselves.” They wanted to build a tower toward heaven believing they could live where God lived. But God came down and confused their languages and the people dispersed and moved all over the land. Now, back in Daniel, another tall structure is built, and Daniel 3:7 says, “all the peoples, nations, and languages fell down and worshipped the golden image that the King had set up.” It’s the story of human history. We build an idol, God knocks it down. We build another idol, and God knocks it down again.

Think about the King. Having just a few verses before stated that Daniel’s God was the God of all gods, Nebuchadnezzar decides to build an idol of himself. Having just declared that Daniel’s God was the God of all kings, King Nebuchadnezzar set himself up as a god. It is what we do, but it is not what we should do.

This leads us to the most important lesson of the text: you can affirm God with your mouth without ever accepting Him into your life. You can say the right thing but not believe or practice the right thing. Let me be blunt, you can call yourself a Christian without ever accepting Christ as the Leader of your life. Idolatry, idol worship, is whenever you set something up in the place that only the One True God belongs.

An idol is something that you build that blocks your relationship with God. Notice please that six times in the first 7 verses of Chapter 3, it says, “Nebuchadnezzar set up…” An idol is something that you set up that separates you from the unadulterated worship of God. An idol is something that captures your attention and keeps your attention from God. You set it up. You create it. You worship it. You honor it. And it keeps you from worshipping God. The heart apart from God is restless and never satisfied, therefore the heart apart from God seeks to build idols to bring satisfaction. But idols will never satisfy. Idols promise

  1. Joy apart from God. Idols promise satisfaction, but all they bring is emptiness.
  2. Idols promise contentment in our lives but actually produce a hunger that can never be satisfied. Idols are greedy.
  3. Idols promise salvation without grace. Idols promise to do things that only God can do.

How do you know if you have an idol in your life? Thoughts on Idols

  1. Idols need to be guarded.If there is something in your life you are trying to hide from God or anyone else, it is an idol. Anything you want to keep in the dark is the enemy of God who is Light.
  2. Idols are greedy. They need to be constantly fed. Their hunger is insatiable. Enough is never enough.
  3. Idols need glory. They need to be nurtured, cared for, given attention. Idols want the first place in your life. Idols will lead you to put aside everything you know is right and true to chase after everything you know is wrong.
  4. Idols need to be destroyed by grace. It is not enough for you to put the idol in a closet, or hide it under a bed. They need to be absolutely destroyed by the grace of God. The grace of God must tear down everything in your life that you have set up that is blocking you from worshipping God.

APPLICATION: Identifying idols

  1. If I have this, I will be happy. This could be a drug, a drink, an experience, or a relationship. You tell yourself, “If I can just have this, if I can just experience this, then I will be happy.” If the answer to this question is anything but “Jesus,” you have an idol. Unless Jesus is enough, enough will never be enough.
  2. If I lose this, I won’t survive. Again, this could be a substance, and accomplishment, a title, a position, or a relationship. The fear of losing this thing grips you, and you cannot imagine life without it. It is an idol.
  3. If I don’t hide this, I will be exposed. Idols love darkness and hate light. If you have an idol, you are so afraid someone will find you out, discover you, or see the real you, and so you spend so much time and energy trying to conceal your actions, your attitudes, and your affections. When you conceal idols, you will have no peace, but if you reveal your idols, the peace of God will surround you.
  4. If I don’t sacrifice to this, I will be rejected. Idols are greedy. They want all of us. And so we deceive ourselves into thinking that we have to give up our morals, give up what our parents taught us, give up what we know the Bible says, give up what the Law says, and give up what we know to be true, or else the idol will reject us. 

There is an old document called the Heidelberg Catechism. It is a series of questions that helps people understand the Christian faith. One of the questions goes like this:

Q. What is your only comfort in life and death?

A. That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation. Therefore, by his Holy Spirit he also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for him.


You have a choice today. You can choose to stop acknowledging God with your mouth and truly accept Him into your heart. You can trade the lies of the world for God’s leadership. You can stop hiding your idols, and choose to worship God. What is taking the place of God in your life? Let it go. Lay it down. Let it be covered by grace. Let the grace of God today destroy anything that is first in your life so that He can again be first in your life.


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