Daniel 6:1-28; Daniel 9:1-27; 2 Chronicles 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-11; 1 Chronicles 3:17-19
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Daniel chapter 6 today is probably more famous than chapter 5's writing on the wall! Today Daniel goes into the lion's den... Several things, as always, are going on in this chapter. One big note is that Daniel is about 80 years old at the time of this chapter. He's not a young man. And yet he is running laps around the other kingdom administrators with his work - and for this he is honored more and more by the king. And others are getting jealous of this old man Daniel. They realize the only way to trip him up is on his religion. And - by appealing to the king's pride with a law that makes people worship the king only. Interesting thing that pride... seems an easy sin for us humans to fall into..? Well, then the old man Daniel gets tossed into the pit of lions - and comes out alive through the grace of God. And the king realizes he was duped by the admins and tosses them & their families into the pit of lions. But enough of my Cliff Notes here... let's check out a few verses... (below is a painting of "Daniel in the Lion's Den" by Peter Paul Rubens, circa 1615)
Verse 4 makes me reflect on my life and the way I live it: "Then the other administrators and princes began searching for some fault in the way Daniel was handling his affairs, but they couldn't find anything to criticize. He was faithful and honest and always responsible." How are we in handling our affairs? Our job, our tempers, our finances, our time? Are we faithful in all of these areas? Honest? Always responsible?
Verse 10 helps us look at how we should act when challenging circumstances come into our lives: "But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God." Daniel continued to worship God as he always had in the midst of bad news of the new law. He didn't blink. He didn't flinch. He didn't take a break from God. He kept worshiping. How do we act when bad news comes into our lives? Do we sulk? Do we decide to avoid God for a while? Or do we continue to worship God as we have always - giving thanks to God? Even in the midst of severe challenges, will we still give thanks to God for who He is?
Verse 20 is a wonderful verse from the mouth of the remorseful King Darius: “When he got there, he called out in anguish, "Daniel, servant of the living God! Was your God, whom you worship continually, able to rescue you from the lions?”” First of all - I love the term “the living God”. Do you believe that God is indeed a living God? Not a stoic God who just sets up the universe and then lets it run on its own - but a God who is in the midst of every single one of our experiences - good and bad? A living God? A God who is with us on the mountain tops - and in the lion's den? Do you believe God is indeed a living God? Do you worship the living God continually? Like Daniel, are you a servant of the Living God? Do you want to be a servant of the Living God? The Living God that will send His angels to protect you from even lions in their den?
Daniel chapter 9 today has an amazing prayer from Daniel! Confess your sins, be humble, praise God and petition for others. What a prayer. If you liked Daniel's prayer in today's readings as much as I did, here are two more that I think you'll appreciate - one from Ezra at this link - and one from Nehemiah at this link. (okay, this is completely a geeky Bible thing here - but I just noticed that all 3 of these amazing prayers are in chapter 9 of their respective books! :) So, if you are forgetting how to pray and feel like you need some inspiration, just remember: Daniel 9, Ezra 9, and Nehemiah 9!)
I'll just highlight the opening verses of Daniel's prayer in verses 4 & 5: ""O Lord, you are a great and awesome God! You always fulfill your promises of unfailing love to those who love you and keep your commands. But we have sinned and done wrong. We have rebelled against you and scorned your commands and regulations." What a great way to open in prayer - praise God and then confess your sins. Do you believe that God is indeed a great and awesome God? That God always fulfills his promises of unfailing love to those who love him and keep his commands? Have we sinned? Have we rebelled? Have we scorned God's commands?
The remainder of chapter 9 (and into chapter 10 two days from now) are fascinating as Daniel interacts with angels, including Gabriel - and we hear about Michael the Archangel and his work. If you are interested in learning more about "angelology" - yes, a real word apparently - check out this link on angelology at bible.org.
Today we begin the book of the priest & scribe Ezra!
Date: Fifth century B.C.
Content: The book of Ezra deals with the return of the Israelites to the land of Palestine after their captivity in Babylon. After describing first the return and how the work on the Temple was begun, the author tells us the problems that arose. After a great deal of trouble and early failure, the Temple was finally finished and rededicated to the glory of God. The ministry of Ezra is described in some detail, stressing the intercession that he made to God for the wayward people of the restored community.
Theme: When the people of Israel returned home they saw this as the fulfillment of the promise of God. God had said he would never abandon his people, and although they were judged for their sin, God never stopped loving them. That God should care for the world to this degree is the deepest of mysteries. God desires our worship in return for his love, however. This may be seen in that he sent the prophets Haggai and Zechariah to speed the rebuilding of the Temple after the people, in discouragement, had ceased to work upon it. (Above commentary is from Tyndale Publishers “The One Year Bible Companion” p. 8) More commentary on Ezra is at this link: http://www.bible.org/page.php?page_id=900
Worship God: Today's readings reminded me of Michael W. Smith's great song "A New Hallelujah!"
Do you want to sing a new Hallelujah? Click here and Sing!
Comments from You: What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!