Archive for the ‘Daniel’ Category

Time to Pray

Daniel 9:4b-19 is a prayer Daniel offers to God during the time when praying to anyone other than the king was illegal.  Daniel kept on praying to God anyway.

This prayer Daniel offers in the evening, the time of day when sacrifices would have been made at the temple before it was ruined.  The prayer begins with confession.  The people have abandoned God and now they are facing the harsh life that comes with no regard for God.  They accept responsibility for not living up to the ideals of God.  At the end of the prayer Daniel offers words beyond confession.  Here we find an example of how to cope and respond through prayer to spiritual and physical loss.  When great uncertainty and doubt weigh on us and fear starts to set in, may we pray,

“O, our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to [my] prayer of request, and for your own sake, Lord, let your face shine on [us].  Incline your ear, O my God, and hear.  Open your eyes and look at our [ruin] and the [people] who bear your name.  We do not present our prayers of request before you on the grounds of our righteousness, but on the ground of your great mercies.  O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, listen and act and do not delay!  For your own sake, O my God, because … your people bear your name!”

The Lord responds, as always the Lord does!  Gabriel comes to Daniel in swift flight and says, “Daniel I have now come out to give you wisdom and understanding.  At the beginning of your prayer of request a word went out, and I have come to declare it, for you are greatly beloved.”

If the Lord responded quickly to Daniel’s prayer of request, the Lord will respond quickly to us as well, for we, like Daniel, are greatly beloved by God.  Wisdom and understanding are offered from the Lord God when uncertainty and doubt weigh upon us.  When fear starts to take hold, remember that God is compassionate and cares for us.

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We are to live every moment of our lives trusting that God’s ultimate justice will prevail. The 7th chapter of Daniel begins with the chaos of a great ocean blown by hurricane winds and swirling with foreboding sea monsters.  The scene is terrifying!  The sea monsters have no regard for God.  They trample, break, devour and the wear out God’s people.  The vision is interrupted by a scene of the heavenly court where the God of justice, righteousness, healing forgiveness and mercy sits on the throne ready to judge the peoples and the “monsters.”  The monsters are doomed!  And God’s holy ones are given an eternal kingdom where they may live for ever and ever.

Daniel wants to know more about the sea monsters, but the attendant keeps pulling his attention back to God’s desire for God’s people.  We have been invited to be a part of God’s eternal kingdom.  God’s has chosen us to be his people.  Will we accept the invitation and live a life serving God?  Jesus says serving God means acts of kindness to others, feeding the poor, welcoming the stranger, caring for the sick, spending time with those who are imprisoned.  May we turn our eyes away from the “monsters” and gaze upon the majesty and beauty of God so that we may be enable to serve without fear or loss of heart!

 

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Daniel 6.  With a new king on the throne, Daniel (a faithful servant of God) was appointed 1 of 3 officials who supervised 120 governors.  These men served as the eyes and ears of the king.  Daniel was an honest and faithful worker and the king noticed.  He began making plans to put Daniel in charge of everyone.  You can imagine this didn’t sit well with the other officials and governors.  Their conniving landed Daniel an overnight stay in a pit of lions.

Thanks to an angel who shut the mouths of the lions, Daniel survived the sleepover.  In response, the king sent out a letter to all the peoples of the world.  His letter praised Daniel’s God, the living eternal God!  He announced to everyone that God delivers, rescues and saves!  The king was right on target.  Our God is in the business of delivering, rescuing, setting free–salvation!

There is nothing we could ever do to earn such favor from God, but God chooses to save us. Take time to thank God for this.  We have no fear of being trapped overnight in a lion’s den.  Yet poverty, addictions, low self-worth, hunger, bitter hearts, despair, fear and a host of other things are like lions which threaten to devour.  As God’s children, may we serve the God of salvation by becoming like the angel in Daniel’s lions’ den shutting the mouths of the lions that threaten to devour.

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Daniel 5.  The new king in Babylon was too busy focusing on himself and his future to care about what had happened to leaders who came before him.  He choose not to remember  what happened to former king Nebuchadnezzar when he oppressed the people and set justice aside.  He also showed no respect for the Most High God who gave King Neb a 2nd chance.  Instead the new king entrusted himself and his kingdom to empty gods of silver, gold, bronze, iron, wood and stone.  He led the people to praise these gods while drinking from the vessels that had been taken from our God’s temple in Jerusalem.

Temptations to praise the empty gods of silver, gold, bronze, iron, wood and stone seem silly to us today.  But we do find ourselves from time to time entrusting ourselves to other empty “gods,” like $, social positions, jobs, grades, efficiency, control, good health, peace, happiness… When these fall apart, we realize what we had been building our lives upon.

Let us trust in God first and foremost and build our lives upon the One who created us, redeemed us and sustains us.  Proverbs 3:5-6 teaches us to trust in the Lord with all our hearts and not to rely upon ourselves. Acknowledge the Lord in everything you do and the Lord will guide your steps.  Trust in the Lord!  Trust in the Lord….

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Righteousness and Mercy

In Daniel 4:27, the prophet Daniel invites the arrogant, pride-filled king of Babylon to atone for his sin with righteousness and his iniquities with mercy to the oppressed.  His pride had led him to have no regard for God nor for any other human being.  He treated people anyway he wanted.  God’s call for righteousness here means actually doing things that care for those whose needs are not being met–either by supporting them financially or helping to create structures in society that offer support.  God’s call for mercy means being kind to those who are oppressed.
Job 31:16-23 reminds us what this looks like.
  • giving to those in need
  • lifting up the eyes of the widow
  • sharing our food with those who have none
  • giving clothes to those without
  • never using our power and status to throw others under the bus so that we look good
Helping others is not just charitable, it is seeking justice.  It is what we are commanded by God to do without excuse.

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Daniel 2 retells the story of the great Babylonian Emperor Nebuchadnezzar who was terrified by a dream. A man who had conquered nations, built a huge empire, and now is rattle to the bone by a dream!  Desperately wanting to know the meaning of the dream, yet not trusting the honesty of his advisers, he decrees that all the wise ones in Babylon be executed unless they tell him what he dreamed and what it means!

When the executioner Arioch (whose name means “lion”) comes to gather up Daniel and his friends, Daniel requests the king give him a little time and Daniel will tell the king his dream and it’s interpretation.

Daniel has no idea what the dream might be, much less it’s meaning, but Daniel knows that God knows everything.  Daniel goes home and tells his friends the challenge ahead of them, then they pray.  In a vision in the night, the dream and it’s meaning is revealed to Daniel.  Daniel 2:20-23 records Daniel’s prayer of thanksgiving.

Life sometimes seems like a mystery to be solved.  But we can face the challenge like Daniel trusting that God knows and God cares about us.  God hears our prayers for understanding and wisdom.  As Daniel said, “There is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries.”  How blessed we are that this God loves and cares for us!

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Daniel 3 is a story of steadfast hope and faith in God in the face of death.  King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon built a gold statue 90 feet tall and 9 feet wide. He decreed that everyone must fall down and worship the golden image.  Refusal to do so would guarantee death in a fiery furnace!  Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (whose Babylonian names were Shadrach, Mishach and Abednego) knew that worshiping idols broke God’s commands. They had a hard choice to make–serve Neb or serve God?  They chose to serve God.  They did not expect their loyalty to guarantee them life.  But they did expect that God would never abandon them.  After being thrown into the furnace, folks outside in the cooler air could see there were not 3 people walking around, but 4!  Neb called for them to come out of the furnace.  Three came out–H., M. and A.–without even a single hair on their heads singed. Faith in God is required every time we walk through the flames of life that threaten to destroy us.  God may not put out the flames, but promises to walk around in the chaos of the unknown and unpredictable with us.  So be brave this week!  Be loyal to God and God’s ways!

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