November 22, 2016

Daniel - 
Obedience to God in the pressures and stresses of day-by-day living and trust in God’s ways in the large sweep of history are always at risk, but especially in times of suffering and persecution.  Daniel was written out of  such times....

Daniel is composed, in approximately equal parts, of stories and visions - 6 stories (1-6) and 4 visions (7-12).  The stories tell of souls living faithfully in obedience to God in a time of adversity.  The visions are wide-screen renditions of God’s sovereignty worked out among nations who couldn’t care less about him....The 6 soul-survival stories nourish a commitment  to integrity and perseverance right now...The 4 visions of God’s history-saving ways nourish hope in God during times when world events seem to put God in eclipse....

Daniel is one of our primary documents for keeping it all together - the personal and the political, the present and the future, the soul and society.  

Daniel 1-2 - 
Nebuchadnezzar had taken King Jehoiakim and the leaders of Judah in exile to Babylon.  Nebuchadnezzar  told Ashpenaz, head of the palace staff, to get some of the Israelites from the royal family and nobility-- young men who were healthy and handsome, intelligent and well-educated, good prospects for leadership positions in the government, perfect specimens!-- and indoctrinate them in the Babylonian language and the lore of magic and fortunetelling...After 3 years of training, they would be given positions in the king’s court.  

Four young men from Judah - Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah - were among those selected.  Ashpenaz gave them Babylonian names - Daniel= Belteshazzar, Hananiah= Shadrach, Mishael= Meshach, and Azariah= Abednego.  But Daniel determined that he would not defile himself by eating the king’s food or drinking his wine, so he asked to be exempt from the royal diet...by God’s grace, the head of staff liked Daniel, but warned him about going against the king’s instructions...But Daniel appealed to the steward to allow them to “try us out for 10 days on a simple diet of vegetables and water.  then compare us with the young men who eat from the royal menu.  Make your decision on what you see.”...At the end of the 10 days, they looked better and more robust than all the others so the steward continued to exempt them from the royal menu.

God gave these four young men knowledge and skill in both books and life.  In addition, Daniel was gifted in understanding all sorts of visions and dreams...  When the king interviewed the four at the end of their training, he found them far superior to all the other young men....and so they took their place in the king’s service ...who found them 10 times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his kingdom put together.  

Nebuchadnezzar started having dreams that disturbed him deeply.  He couldn’t sleep & called all the Babylonian wise men to interpret his dream though warned them that if they couldn’t tell and interpret his dream they would be killed.
So he insisted that they tell him his dream first  so that he’ll know they were on the up and up instead of just blowing smoke in his eyes (aka -up his ass).  The wise men responded that “Nobody anywhere can do what you ask.  And no king, great or small, has ever demanded anything like this...what you are asking is impossible unless some god or goddess should reveal it--and they don’t hang around people like us.”  That set the king off.  He lost his temper and ordered the whole company of Babylonian wise men killed, which included Daniel and his friends. 

When Arioch, chief of the royal guards, was making these arrangements,  Daniel wisely took Arioch aside and quietly asked what was going on....then went to the king and asked for a little time so that he could interpret the dream...Daniel then went home and told his companions...He asked them to pray to the God of heaven for mercy in solving this mystery so that the 4 of them wouldn’t be killed along with the whole company of Babylonian wise men.  That night the answer to the mystery was given to Daniel in a vision.  Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven saying:

Blessed be the name of God, for ever and ever.  He knows all, does all: he changes the seasons and guides history.  He raises up kings and also brings them down.  He provides both intelligence and discernment, he opens up the depths, tells secrets, sees in the dark---light spills out of him!  God of all my ancestors, all thanks!  all praise!  You made me wise and strong.  And now you’ve shown us what we’ve asked for.  You’ve solved the king’s mystery.

So Daniel went back to Arioch who didn’t lose a minute to inform the king.  The king asked Daniel for his interpretation to which Daniel initially replied, “No mere human can solve the king’s mystery, I don’t care who it is...but there is a God in heaven who solves mysteries and he has solved this one.....but the interpretation is given through me, not because I’m smarter than anyone else in the country but so that you will know what it means, so that you will understand what you dreamed.  Then Daniel proceeded to interpret the king’s dream of what will happen in the years to come...When Daniel finished, the king fell on his face in awe before Daniel and ordered the offering of sacrifices in Daniel’s honor... Then the king promoted Daniel to a high position in the kingdom, lavished him with gifts and made him governor over the entire province of Babylon and the chief in charge of all the Babylonian wise men.  At Daniel’s request, he appointed his friends to administrative posts throughout Babylon.  

2 Peter 2 - 
But there will also be lying prophets among the people, just as there will be lying teachers among you... They give the way of truth a bad name.  They’re only out for themselves.  They’ll say anything, anything, that sounds good to exploit you...

God knows how to rescue the godly from evil trials....God is especially incensed against these “teachers” who live by lust...they despise interference from true authority, preferring to indulge in self-rule.  Insolent egotists, they don’t hesitate to speak evil against the most splendid of creatures...These people are nothing but brute beasts...their specialty is greed and they’re experts in it...They are loudmouths, full of hot air, but still dangerous.