Jeremiah 19:1-20:18; Daniel 1:1-21
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I read Jeremiah chapter 19 today and am reminded again of how tough it can be to be a prophet! Wow. Can you imagine receiving these words from God to deliver to a nation? It's tough duty - getting to the point of Jeremiah being whipped and put in stocks in chapter 20, verse 2. Below is an image of Jeremiah prophesying the doom of Pashur from chapter 20 verse 6:
Jeremiah does get to complaining about his lifestyle as a prophet in chapter 20:7-18. In verse 9 he bursts out with: "And I can't stop! If I say I'll never mention the Lord or speak in his name, his word burns in my heart like a fire. It's like a fire in my bones!" I really like this! "His word burns in my heart like a fire"! Does God's word burn in your heart like a fire?? Should it? Could it? Will you let it?
Today we start the book of Daniel, which is an incredible book! The book of Daniel takes place in approximately 605 B.C. during the first captivity of Jerusalem by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Daniel is exiled to Babylon to Jerusalem in 605 B.C. - whereas Ezekiel, the prophet of the previous book, was exiled in 597 B.C. It is generally believed that Daniel himself wrote this entire book. Though some say that Daniel couldn't have written this book because his prophecies in the this book are spot-on. Thus, some think someone else must have written the book in retrospect. Let's forge ahead with the belief that Daniel indeed wrote this book. I do believe that God can indeed prophesy events through prophets like Daniel before they actually happen... A good overview of the book of Daniel - and the authorship questions - is online here. Below is a painting of Daniel by Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel -
~ Daniel ~
Date: Sixth century B.C.
Content: Daniel was carried off into captivity in Babylon as a young boy where, although he was a captive, he received an education and ultimately rose to a high position in Babylonian, and later, Persian government. Because of his trust in God he was subjected to barbarous persecution, at one point being thrown to the lions. Three of his compatriots were thrown into a furnace, but they too survived by the power of God. The book deals with many historical events of Daniel’s day, but it also contains prophecies concerning the future. Daniel saw the great world empires that were to come, but saw more than just that. He also saw the power of God and the Messiah, Jesus, who was to come and undo the evil of this world, ultimately to establish a kingdom of righteousness that would never fade away.
Theme: Daniel’s major theme is the sovereignty of God. God rules over the affairs of men, directing the course of history toward his own ends, working in and through the acts of men. The kingdoms of men rise and fall but God remains forever. God’s will remains forever as well, and it is God’s determination to bring salvation to men by the Messiah whom he will send. Ultimately evil will be overcome and good will triumph because God has willed it so. (Above commentary is from Tyndale Publishers “The One Year Bible Companion” pp. 14-15) A wonderful commentary on the book of Daniel by Bob Deffinbaugh titled “Daring to Believe Daniel” is at this link - https://www.bible.org/page.asp?page_id=466 Below is an engraving of Daniel by Gustaf Dore -
Daniel chapter 1 verse 7 is worth diving into to show how Nebuchadnezzar was trying to change the religious alliances of these 4 young men from Jerusalem - "The chief official renamed them with these Babylonian names: Daniel was called Belteshazzar. Hananiah was called Shadrach. Mishael was called Meshach. Azariah was called Abednego." Daniel's name in Hebrew means "God is my Judge" - his new name Belteshazzar meant "Bel, protect his life!" Bel, or Marduk was the main Babylonian god. (you can see where Nebuchadnezzar was going with this...) Hananaih's name in Hebrew is "the Lord shows grace" and Shadrach means "under the command of Aku" - the moon god.... Mishael's name in Hebrew is "who is like God?" and his new name Meshach is "who is like Aku?" And finally Azariah's name in Hebrew is "the Lord helps" and his new name Abednego is "servant of Nego/Nebo" - the god of learning and writing. Do you think that someone's name can be reflective of who they are? Are names important?
Verse 8 is worth exploring - "But Daniel made up his mind not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king." Why do you think this was? Was Daniel just being picky? Snooty? Well, that was kind of my first thought. Further study shows that the food the Babylonians were going to feed Daniel and the 3 others were sacrificed to idols. Which is not a good thing in the Law... And furthermore, the wine was poured out on pagan altars. Again, not good. So, Daniel is making a very wise move here. Will we do things like this in our own lives? Things that appear to be "harmless" on the surface, will we refuse, if we know they will actually be damaging to us or our relationship with God? Even if our peers are pressuring us? Will we not defile ourselves?
Worship God: Today's readings remind me of the Chris Tomlin song "Our God is Greater:"
Do you know true greatness? Click here to meet our Great God!
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!
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