June 10, 2019

Today you should read: Daniel 1

Second only to the Exodus, the Babylonian Exile is the most significant event of the Old Testament. The storyline of the Bible begins when God made His Covenant with Abraham. We read in Joshua that God called this idolatrous man out of an idolatrous nation to create a unique people for Himself. God promised three things that make up the Abrahamic Covenant—land, seed, and blessing.

Much later, under Moses in Deuteronomy 28, God tells His Covenant People that if they obey the Lord’s commands in the Promised Land they will be blessed in many ways. However, if they disobey, they will receive many curses. Long story short, God’s people disobeyed and they reaped the consequences of sin as the nation of Babylon invaded Judah and captured the city of Jerusalem.

Daniel 1 teaches many things, but I only have the space to focus on three ideas—God’s heart, Daniel’s obedience, and Daniel’s reward.

In ancient times, when nations fought, it was a battle between the nation’s gods. When Jerusalem fell, the Temple was sacked. Yahweh was defeated… or was He? Daniel makes it clear—it was the Lord who gave Judah to Babylon. The sacred Temple vessels were removed and brought to the land of Shinar, to the house of [Nebuchadnezzar’s] god, and he brought the vessels into the treasury of his god (1:2). In everyone’s mind, the Babylonian gods defeated Yahweh to the point of subservience.

Was God really defeated by pagan gods? No way, He was in charge the whole time. However, this means God allowed His name to become tarnished. God suffered the shame of defeat in order that His people could be redeemed. Nebuchadnezzar removed God’s people and their treasure from God’s Land and took them back to the land which Abraham left all those years ago. The Babylonian Exile was the symbolic undoing of almost 2,000 years of covenant relationship—that is a huge deal! However, God’s promises are irrevocable. God is a good Father and although His people suffered the consequences of Deuteronomy 28, thankfully there is Deuteronomy 30. In Deuteronomy 30 God says that when the people experience the blessings and curses, humble themselves and pray, God will return them to the Land. The whole point of the Exile was to suffer the consequences of sin in order that God’s people may be redeemed—God’s heart bleeds redemption.

The second idea is Daniel’s obedience. Imagine suffering in a city under siege. When the city is taken, Daniel and his contemporaries were marched for probably about a month back to Babylon. When they arrived, they had suffered in unspeakable ways. They were offered the finest things Babylon had to offer, and the only price for luxury was their loyalty. For many, it was a small price to pay. Daniel and his friends, however, refused the food and wine in order to remain loyal to Yahweh. Much has been said about Daniel’s wisdom in this process, but even here we see character traits that pop up frequently in this book—that is, complete faithfulness to God and obedience to authorities. They never compromised either. However, when faithfulness to God and obedience to authorities conflicted, they readily accepted the consequences without malice or protest.

The third idea is Daniel’s reward. Daniel and the triplets were recognized for their wisdom and gifts. However, verse 21 should jump off the page. “Daniel continued until the first year of Cyrus the king.”  Sure, Daniel had wisdom and incredible gifts, but verse 21 illustrates that the faithful man of God outlasts empires. Cyrus was not the king of Babylon; he was the king of Persia that would do to Babylon what Babylon did to Jerusalem. Babylon seemed mighty and impenetrable, yet God’s servant saw it crumble.

Questions for reflection:

God faced shame to redeem people, are you?

Daniel obeyed God, even in the small things. Where have you made compromises recently?

By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate

August 30, 2014

Today you should read: Daniel 12

So now we have reached the end of Daniel. We have been in a lion’s den, thrown in a fiery furnace and seen and heard many amazing and confusing signs of the end times. We end this book with a pretty clear picture of what will happen and a pretty clear lesson to take away today. We find it spelled out in verse 2:

“Many of those whose bodies lie dead and buried will rise up, some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting disgrace

So which are you? Daniel was told a few times to go his way and live his life. He was also told in verse 13 that he will “rise again to receive the inheritance set aside” for him. This same promise is true for you and me. So the question comes back to us:

What is the inheritance set aside for you?

We have one of two options: We take what we have earned as an inheritance:

“For the wages of sin is death” Romans 6:23 a

On our own, we “earn” death. Our own inheritance is a christless eternity in hell. Our inheritance is one of eternal payment for our sin.

The other option is this:

“For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory.” Romans 8:16-17a

With Jesus, we are in line to an inheritance from God. One of eternal life and joy and peace. Which will you choose? If you are reading this you may have already made your choice and that is great. But please make sure you have. There are many people who go their whole lives thinking they have settled this choice but really they never have. And remember this, one day you WILL “rise again to receive the inheritance set aside for you.” What will it be?

Posted by: Robbie Byrd

August 29, 2014

Today you should read: Daniel 11

Daniel 11 is a specific prophecy on future conflicts among nations until Jesus comes back. This chapter is so accurate in the rise and fall of certain empires in history that many disbelieved when Daniel wrote it but as we all know, Isaiah 44:6-7 tells us that God prophecies what is ahead of time to show His power and sovereignty. Of course Judah and Israel needed to be reminded of God’s power and sovereignty for they were still in Exile and would later be persecuted by the Persians and Greeks. However God makes good on His promises and we are assured of that in the following chapter as we see Jesus will comes back and Jesus wins. Let us be reminded of this great truth as well. Maybe you’re going through something where you are questioning God’s power and sovereignty. Maybe you need to be assured that God is in control over all of history including the future like He reveals in todays jumpstart chapter. Our God is a God of history because it is ultimately HISstory. His story of love and grace to a people who backstab him and are persecuted for Him but ultimately His love and redemption wins out, even if it’s not so evident in our world right now.

Posted by: Erik Koliser

August 28, 2014

Today you should read: Daniel 10

As we learned from reading through the book of Daniel – Daniel has been given power from God to prophesy.  God showed him visions of what was to come.  All of this was very scary for him as you can imagine.

My strength left me, my face grew deathly pale, and I felt very weak.  Then I heard the man speak, and when I heard the sound of his voice, I fainted and lay there with my face to the ground.  vs. 8-9

Have you ever poured your soul out to the Lord and felt overwhelmed?  I love how God responds (through His messenger) to Daniel (as He will to us).

He touched him

a hand touched me… v.10a

There’s something about a touch…  Max Lucado in his book “Just like Jesus” says this:

Our Savior completely surrendered his hands to God. The documentary of his hands has no scenes of greedy grabbing or unfounded finger pointing. It does, however, have one scene after another of people longing for his compassionate touch: parents carrying their children, the poor bringing their fears, the sinful shouldering their sorrow. And each who came was touched. And each one touched was changed.

Have you ever felt the touch of God on your soul?  It’s a life altering, “I’ll never forget it” experience.

He lifted him up

lifted me, still trembling, to my hands and knees v.10

This makes me think of Psalm 40 (my dad’s favorite passage)

I waited patiently for the lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire.  He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.  He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God.  Many will see what he has done and be amazed.

They will put their trust in the lord.  Oh, the joys of those who trust the lord… Psalm 40:1-5a

When God lifts you out of your despair – He restores you to a new outlook on life.  He changes your perspective in ways that only He can do.

He reminded Daniel how precious he is to God

Daniel, you are very precious to God, v.11

Remember when your mom told you that you were her favorite?  You knew she said that to your siblings, too – but it didn’t matter.  It made you feel special.  You are God’s favorite (you and the rest of His kids).  He values you.  He knows your name – you can substitute “Tim” or your name in verse 11 – ______________, you are very precious to God.

He answered his prayer

Then he said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer. (v.12)

We grossly underestimate the value of prayer.  The God that created heaven and earth hears you and will answer you.  Daniel’s prayer was answered.  God will answer yours, too.

Have a blessed day today as you live in the light of His glorious presence!

Posted by: Tim Parsons