Menjia Longshan Temple, Taipei City, Taiwan

Hear the sound of judgement coming. The ghostly ringing of the bell pierced the blanket of muggy heat.  The man ringing the bell, in straw hat and black religious garb, wore a face as stony as the concrete, a face crowned with eyes of steel.  I walked on the rounded cobblestones towards the temple, its gray castle-like walls towering overhead, and passed through the outer courts.

And then, the inner courts.  O, the people!  People bowing their heads, holding burning joss sticks, muttering under their breath to graven images of gold and silver.  People dropping kidney-shaped blocks of wood, and pulling out wooden sticks with Chinese characters, hoping for answers from their god.  People, worshipers, created beings made to worship their Creator rather than created things, bringing elaborate arrangements of flower and food to the foot of where their idols lived.

Hello Keith.  Welcome to Taiwan.

Blood surged, and my fists clenched shut like my teeth.  Do you not know that these gods are dead?  Tell me, can they hear you?  Can they deliver?  Are you sure that they are real?  You say that they are men become gods, yet their stories are told by myth not history.  Their mouths are as closed as your eyes.  They are made out of the same material as your tooth fillings, out of the same material that makes your electronics work, out of the same material that you use as currency.  Their power is as fake as the salvation they bring.  Do you not see?  Can you not hear?

Their shrines are protected by gates and bars, separating you from them.  Do you not know that Christ is the great high priest who has passed through the heavens (Heb 4:13), and has torn down the veil and purchased with blood a way to know God directly, with no mediums nor mediators except the Christ Himself, who is indeed God?  Your gods' answers to your 'prayers' are mere chance: two blocks down is maybe, two blocks up is no, half and half is yes.  The living God promises that His word is true and will not change, against all odds and situations.

I wanted to shout like Paul:

Ac 17

24 “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands;

25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things;

26 and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation,

27 that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;

28 for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’

29 “Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man.

30 “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent,

31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”

The Lord of the heavens and earth has the right and power to demand that all bow in submission before His throne: "You shall have no other gods before Me" (Ex 20:3).  Worshipping any other god than the living God of the Bible is idolatry, the reason why God destroys entire nations in the Old Testament, and the ultimate reason why many will go to the fiery pit where there will be eternal weeping and gnashing of teeth.

And failure to worship the Christ is more heinous and will be judged more harshly than sins of homosexual rape and murder (Lk 10:10-16).  Why?  Because worship places ultimate value and glory and worth and devotion to the object that is worshipped.  Idolatry screams with the voice, hand, mind and will to God and all the world: "Who are You, God?  You have no right nor ownership over my life in any capacity, not even a whisper!  You're a liar, unholy, unworthy of praise, the bane of my existence not the joy, and I would like for nothing more than for You to let me alone.  I deny You.  Your Christ and plan of salvation is foolishness and indeed one of the most terrible ideas I've ever heard of.  How could you make Your own Son suffer?  Your gospel is foolishness.  He accomplished nothing other than to create a bunch of fools who call themselves 'Christian.'  Who are You, God?"  Blaspheme upon blaspheme, curse upon curse, hatred upon hatred.

I looked at the color, ornate carvings of mystical dragons and peacocks, the golden and shiny Buddha and Matsus statues, the polished wooden tables, the idols and their shrines, and saw one thing — fire from heaven coming down and consuming it all in the last days.  "But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up" (2 Pe 3:10).  When the temple is reduces to nothing but ash, and is shown to be worthless and nothing but dust, those gods will be put on display as dead and worthless, and the true God will be exalted.

Yet, I know that "the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God" (Jas 1:20).  Wrath and judgment are not mine to levy.  Ultimate verdict and death and fire and punishment are not mine to wield nor levy.  God is pleased to be patient, and "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim 2:4).  Yes, these sinners have "exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator" (Ro 1:25).  Yes, they deserve death (1 Ki 18:1-40, Ro 6:23) and fire and brimstone from heaven (Gen 19:24).  But our God is merciful, and loves to display His lovingkindness to sinners who hate Him, and every moment that He delays judgement is a gift of grace, an opportunity to repent and believe in the Savior of the world.

We left the temple, the silence thicker than the heat.  Right before we entered the battlefield, rain began to fall on the rooftops of the city, and soon drenched the entire temple court and the worshippers.  One verse came to mind: "He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous" (Mt 5:45).  How great His grace, how wonderful His plan, how worthy of thanks and praise from all the nations and all the earth!

Hear the sound of freedom calling.

“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink" (Jn 7:37).

"All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out" (Jn 6:37).

"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life" (Jn 6:47).