November 23, 2015

Daniel 3-6 -  
Nebuchadnezzar built a gold statue....a herald then proclaimed in a loud voice...fall on your knees and worship the gold statue that has been set up...Anyone who doesn’t kneel and worship shall be thrown immediately into a roaring furnace....Then some Babylonian fortunetellers stepped up, went to the king, and accused the Jews (Shad, Mesh, & Abed) who are ignoring you and your command.  Furious, the king ordered these three brought in.  The king gave them a second chance and reiterated that they would be thrown in the furnace if they didn’t comply before asking “who is the god who can rescue from my power?”  

The three answered the king with, “Your threat means nothing to us.  If you throw us in the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from your roaring furnace and anything else you might cook up.  O king, but even if he doesn’t, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference, O king.  We still wouldn’t serve your gods or worship the statue you set up.”  

The king, his face purple with anger, cut off the three.  He ordered the furnace fired up 7x hotter than usual...then the three were pitched into a roaring fire where flames from the furnace killed the men who carried them to it while the fire raged around the three... Suddenly, the king jumped up and questioned how many men were thrown in the fire...”look, I see four men, walking around freely in the fire completely unharmed!  And the fourth looks like a son of the gods!”  The king called for the three men to come out.  All the important people...gathered around to examine them and discovered that the fire hadn’t so much as touched the 3 men...the king said, “ blessed be the God of Shad, Mesh, & Abed!!!...I issue a degree: Anyone, anywhere, who says anything against the God of these three will be ripped to pieces....Then the king promoted these three in the province of Babylon.

The king later had another dream that scared him...When all his wise men were assembled and he told them the dream, none could tell what it meant.  And then Daniel came in.  The king told him his dream and Daniel (aka Belteshazzar, named after one of the king’s gods) was asked to interpret it.  At first, Daniel was upset.  The thoughts that came swarming into his mind terrified him.  The king told Daniel to “stay calm.  Don’t let the dream and its interpretation scare you.”  “My master” Belteshazzar said, “I wish this dream were about your enemies and its interpretation for your foes”...Then after interpreting the hard times that the king would face, Daniel concluded “So king, take my advice.  Make a clean break with your sins and start living for others.  Quit your wicked life and look after the needs  of the down-and-out.  Then you will continue to have a good life.”  

All of what Daniel predicted happened to the king just 12 months later as he boasted at how great Babylon was and how he built it all by himself to display his honor and glory!  Then a voice out of heaven spoke and sentenced him to 7 seasons, enough to learn that the High God rules human kingdoms and put whomever he wishes in charge.”  The king was then driven out of human company ate grass like an ox and was soaked in heaven’s dew.  His hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a hawk.  

“At the end of 7 years, I, the king looked to heaven.  I was given my mind back and I blessed the High God, thanking and glorifying God, who lives forever.....At the same time that I was given back my mind, I was also given back my majesty and splendor, making my kingdom shine.  I was reestablished as king and became greater than ever.  And that’s why I’m singing...singing and praising the king of heaven:  “Everything he does is right, and he does it the right way.  He knows how to turn a proud person into a humble man and woman.”

Years later, King Belshazzar held a great feast for his 1,000 nobles.  The wine flowed freely.  The king, heady with the wine, ordered that the gold and silver chalices his father, Nebuchadnezzar had stolen from God’s temple of Jerusalem be brought to them...They drank the wine and drunkenly praised their gods made of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone.  At that very moment, the fingers of a human hand appeared and began writing on the lamp-illuminated, whitewashed wall of the palace.  The king was scared out of his wits and yelled for his wise men to tell him what it meant, promising they would become famous and rich.  All the wise men could neither read what was written nor interpret it...

The Queen heard of the hysteria among the king and his nobles and came to the banquet hall...”Don’t sit around looking like ghosts.  There is a man in your kingdom who is full of the divine Holy Spirit...Have Daniel called in.  He’ll tell you what is going on.  So Daniel was called in...Daniel answered the king, “You can keep your gifts, or give them to someone else.  But I will read the writing for the king and tell him what it means.  God gave your father a great kingdom and a glorious reputation though he developed a big head and a hard spirit.  Then God knocked him off his high horse and stripped him of his fame.  He was thrown out of human company, lost his mind and lived like a wild animal...Your his son and have known all this, yet you’re as arrogant as he ever was...God sent the hand that wrote on the wall and this is what is written:  MENE - God has numbered the days of your rule and they don’t add up, TEQEL- You have been weighed on the scales and you don’t weigh much, and PERES - Your kingdom has been divided up and handed over to the Medes and Persians....That same night, he was murdered.  Darius the Mede was 62 years old when he succeeded him as king.

Darius reorganized his kingdom.  He appointed 120 governors...over them were three vice-regents, one of whom was Daniel....But Daniel, brimming with spirit and intelligence, so completely outclassed the others that the king decided to put him in charge of the whole kingdom.  The others got together to find some old scandal or skeleton in Daniel’s life  that they could use against him, but the couldn’t dig up anything.  He was totally exemplary and trustworthy... so they went to the king and suggested a new decree which stated that for the next 30 days, no one is to pray to any god or mortal except to the king.  Anyone who disobeys will be thrown into the lions‘ den...King Darius signed the decree.  

When Daniel learned that the decree had been signed and posted, he continued to pray just as he had always done...3 times a day he knelt in prayer, thanking and praising God.  The conspirators came and found him praying, asking God for help...They went straight to the king and reminded him of the royal decree before they told him that Daniel was ignoring it...

At this the king was very upset and tried his best  to get Daniel out of the fix he put him in.  He worked on it the whole day long but the others persisted and the king caved in and ordered Daniel thrown into the lions’ den.  but he said to Daniel, “your God to whom you are so loyal is going to get you out of this...

Then the king went back to his palace.  He refused supper.  He couldn’t sleep.  He spent the whole night fasting.  At day break the king got up and hurried to the den and called to Daniel.  Daniel responded, “My God sent his angel...so they would not hurt me. I’ve been found innocent before God and also before you.  O king, I’ve done nothing to harm you...then the king commanded the conspirators who had informed on Daniel be thrown in the lions‘ den along with their wives and children....

From then on, Daniel was treated well during the reign of Darius and also  in the following reign of Cyrus the Persian.

2 Peter 3 - 
Both letters I’ve written as reminders to hold your minds in a state of undistracted attention.  

First off, you need to know that in the last days, the mockers are going to have a heyday.  Reducing everything to the level of their puny feelings, they’ll mock....

Don’t overlook the obvious here, friends.  With God, one day is as good as a thousand years...He is giving everyone space and time to change.....

Daily expect the Day of God, eager for its arrival...do the very best to be found living at your best, in purity and peace...

Grow in grace and understanding of our Master and Savior, Jesus Christ.