Daniel 9-10 B

“As it is written in the law of Moses, all this calamity has come on us; yet we have not sought the favor of the LORD our God by turning from our iniquity and giving attention to Your truth. Therefore the LORD has kept the calamity in store and brought it on us; for the LORD our God is righteous with respect to all His deeds which He has done, but we have not obeyed His voice.” (9:13-14‬)

We have observed just how righteous of a man Daniel is, yet he confesses the sins of his people as if they were his own.

I think we can all learn from this posture of humility. As a white American, “my people” have done a ton of horrible things to African, Latin, Native and Muslim Americans. Instead of separating myself and insisting that someone come along and claim that crap and apologize, I think Daniel teaches me how to confess these sins as my own. To beg the LORD for His name to prevail over the name I’ve tarnished.

It’s foundationally human to sidestep blame and responsibility. By contrast, it is foundationally Christ-like to bear the weight of another’s offense. Christ gave the final word on the powerful sting of death.

Lord, heal our proud hearts! I surrender my pride and the impulse to defend myself; admitting I am broken and come from a long line of broken people. We have not respected your image or the divine worth of Your children. We have sinned against You and even done much of it in Your name. Restore Your Great Name for Your Own sake and forgive us. Lead us to repentance, in Jesus’ name.

-Bethany

Daniel 7-8 B

“As my vision continued that night, I saw someone like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient One and was led into his presence.  He was given authority, honor, and sovereignty over all the nations of the world, so that people of every race and nation and language would obey him. His rule is eternal—it will never end. His kingdom will never be destroyed.” 7:13-14

I love this Old Testament glimpse of Jesus we get. Can you imagine how Daniel felt?

On one hand, these chapters are weird and overwhelm me a little. There’s symbolism that goes over my head, biblical history I don’t know and to be honest I’ve never cared much for hearing about people’s dreams. (My mother has an infamously detailed dream-life and I was often the first person she saw in the morning growing up, God bless her.)

On the other hand, I find these chapters relatable and envy his clear vision of Jesus here.

Sometimes, like Daniel, I peek ahead into an imaginary future, get overwhelmed and lay around, feeling ill over it. Sometimes even a piece of Scripture will spin me out for a few days. Today I left Bethany several messages, rambling about how busted and broken it is that women and children were thrown into the lion’s den, snapped to pieces by the jaws of hungry animals God had just sovereignly tamed for Daniel. I get overwhelmed living in a prideful nation, one that fans the flames of God’s wrath and turns it’s back on his people. I see it rising up against the Ancient One and I wait for it to fall.

But like Daniel, I also see evidence of a Good and Perfect Ruler. One that waves me in to his unshakeable, ever-lasting kingdom. He is good, and safe, and I can trust him. His rule is eternal-it will never end. 

I feel stirred by these chapters to ask myself, what kingdom am I living for? 

Who do I need to tell this story to? Who needs to hear about Jesus? 

 

-Carly

 

 

Daniel 5-6 B

“Then Daniel answered and said before the king, ‘Keep your gifts for yourself or give your rewards to someone else; however, I will read the inscription to the king and make the interpretation known to him.'” (5:17)

I love how uninterested Daniel is in position or wealth. He’s almost hilariously calm, compared to the pale-faced, knee-knocking Belshazzar. I also like how the king, nonetheless, gives Daniel all these gifts. Maybe in a nervous, “oh…okay. Well, thanks here you go.” gesture before “that same night [he] was slain, and Darius the Mede received the kingdom.” (5:30-31)

This is all because Belshazzar knew his father had been humbled by the LORD, and still decided to be proud and worship inanimate objects. (5:18-23)

As one kingdom falls and another takes it place, Daniel seems unphased. He goes from ruling a third of Babylon, to being one of three commissioners over Media; basically ruling a third of this one as well. He obviously doesn’t let it go to his head, and just does a great job. The Spirit of the LORD was within him (6:3). Soon he would be put over all three thirds, but not before the other two guys tried making a power grab.

Darius loves Daniel. You can tell how quickly he grew fond of him, and I wonder at this back story. How, when he overthrew Babylon, did he decide to keep one of Balshazzar’s administrators? Was it because he heard about the writing on the wall and Daniel’s interpretation? Was it Daniel’s basic, overall reputation? In any case, in the time that Daniel served Darius, things had obviously gone well for him. Kings don’t lose sleep over just anybody. This incident provokes a very powerful decree, sent to all peoples, nations and men of every language:

“May your peace abound! I make a decree that in all the dominion of my kingdom men are to fear and tremble before the God of Daniel; for He is the living God and enduring forever. He delivers and rescues and performs signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, who has also delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.” (6:25b-27)

I want to stop here for a second. Why is Daniel in Media? Israel, Judah, Jerusalem–everyone–had gone sideways. They were defaming their God. They had exchanged Him for idol worship and had become wicked and worthless. They were all in exile for a 70 year time out, so the LORD could give their land all the Sabbaths they’d ignored.

The number one job of Israel, from the beginning, was to be a blessing to every nation. To make God known to the world. That’s why God had put them at the crossroads of Asia, Africa and Europe, so people could hear about Him and worship Him.

Now, as a lovely side bonus during their humiliation, the LORD has used his people to spread His fame to the known world. Darius, King of Media, has just done that. Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, did it in 3:29; 4:3, 34-35. Ahasuerus, King of Persia, will do it in Esther 10. This is why the exile is my favorite part of Jewish history.

Left on their own, in their own land, the Israelites were keeping the good news of the One True God to themselves and, honestly, ruining His reputation. Their selfish indifference was bad news for the nations.

The Apostle Paul, a Jewish scholar, made another connection like this in the book of Romans 11:10-12, 15.

“By their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous. Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be! For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?”

The LORD always keeps a remnant for Himself (Romans 11:5). Even when everything is going wrong, there are always Daniels, Hananiahs, Mishaels, Azariahs, Nehemiahs, Ezras, Mordecais and Esthers. In every dark hour, where it seems the people of God have abandoned the task of blessing others, He always has someone out there, full of His Spirit, doing His work and seeking no personal glory.

Keeping the blessings of God for yourself can turn into a dark thing. What kind of servant of the LORD will you be? How will the fame of the LORD spread in your lifetime?

-Bethany

Daniel 3-4 B

Before writing a new post, I take a minute and review what was written about the chapters the last time we read them. You guys! I can’t even be bothered to try to scrounge up new or interesting thoughts because Bethany put eloquent words to my squirrely thoughts.

“There is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.” (3:29)
This story is one of any prime examples of what it looks like to only fear the LORD. Our boys did not fearfully give in to idolatry and were miraculously saved (although they agreed it was worth it to die).

What about these men who threw them in? They feared Nebuchadnezzar and were fully obedient to him. What was their fate? They became collateral damage at no bother to their king.

The LORD is altogether different. He is the king who wades into the fire with His people.

He took the richest, most successful and powerful king in the world and brought him to animal knees. What does it say about God, that after Nebuchadnezzar’s humiliation he says this?:

“His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, He does according to His will in all the host of heaven and in the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay His hand or say to Him, ‘What have you done?’” (4:34-35)

“Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are right and all His ways are just; and those who walk in pride He’s able to humble.” (4:37)

Glory to be God! He opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. The fear of Him is the beginning of wisdom!

Let’s examine our hearts and ask, is there someone else’s opinion I fear more than the LORD’s? Is there something I’ve accomplished or a destination I’ve reached that I believe I got there on my own accord? Let us be thankful for everything and worship our glorious LORD!

I especially love how she described God as the king who wades into the fire with his people. 

Can you think of a time God has entered in to the flames with you?

 

-Carly

Daniel 1-2 B

Here’s Carly’s from last time, which includes the Bible project overview if you need a refresher.

Daniel, Hananiah (Shadrach), Mishael (Meshach) and Azariah (Abed-Nego) are some of the most baller guys in the Old Testament.

“Youths in whom was no defect, who were good-looking, showing intelligence in every branch of wisdom, endowed with understanding and discerning knowledge, and who had ability for serving in the king’s court.” (1:4)

“As for these four youths, God gave them knowledge and intelligence in every branch of literature and wisdom; Daniel even understood all kinds of visions and dreams.” (1:17)

“As for every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king consulted them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and conjurers who were in all his realm.” (1:20)

Right when you might think God only, exclusively uses the weak and foolish, He busts out these guys and uses them to influence kingdoms. Granted, they are still imported slaves from a plundered nation.

Daniel continues to be promoted, and primarily because of what God reveals to him in chapter two. He recounts Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and interprets it, saving his life and the lives of every magician in Babylon. He also gives us one of the most glorious prophecies:

“In the days of those kings [Rome] the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever.” (2:44‬)

The stone (cut out without hands) that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.

The reaction of Nebuchadnezzar was to worship Daniel and promote him. He didn’t get to work worrying about the end of his kingdom, or what this ultimate kingdom will be, he was just amazed.

I wonder what Daniel thought about this prophecy. A kingdom filling the whole earth?

Even now, looking back and remembering what Jesus said about the Kingdom of Heaven, it’s hard to feel the weight sometimes. It doesn’t always seem like the Kingdom of Heaven affected the continued march of earthly kingdoms.

All I really learned in school was ancient history, and especially in Bible college (I didn’t attend all four years), focused on this Assyria-Babylon-Media-Persia-Greek-Roman succession.

From 2018, I get all excited about Jesus and the new kingdom and never stopped to wonder what people thought when the next empire after Rome, the Byzantine Empire, lasted 1,123 years! I would begin to think this was the everlasting kingdom! But then it fell to the Ottoman’s in 1453 and their slogan was “the Eternal State”.

A major part of me wants to delve into what the eternal kingdom of God beginning during Rome with Jesus is, but we can save that for when we cover the gospels. I want to focus on what this meant for Daniel and his peers. The God of heaven just revealed his next 500 year game-plan!

Nowadays, everything feels like the end of the world. Imagine what this would be like nowadays.

Mohammed bin Salman is the crown prince of Saudi Arabia. He’s the kinda guy who would definitely kill all his wise men if he thought they were lying to him. What if God came to him in a dream and told him what was going to go down in the next 500 years? We would all be like, that guy? Also, 500 years and the world won’t be over yet?!?!

Hopefully we’d eventually circle back around to trusting the LORD’s plan. How okay are we if we don’t see political hope in our lifetime? That was the saga most people in history lived out. What about Daniel?

If his hope was in the political restoration of Israel, he would have been disappointed alongside Jesus’s contemporaries. But I think Daniel might have been a guy who cared more about the victory of Heaven over the victory of his nation.

How did Jesus teach us to pray?

“Your Kingdom come Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”

What if my hope was hinged on the promise that the Kingdom of Heaven was filling the whole earth?

Just as Daniel and the other exiles in Babylon were told to get comfortable and seek the welfare of that country (it’s blessings would be their blessings) we get comfortable in our varied countries and seek its welfare. Our hope cannot be in our country, though. They are all temporary. Even shorter than they used to be (let’s hear it for term limits).

Consider with me today the Kingdom that is here now and is unearthly. How often do you rejoice in the now-ness of this kingdom as it fills the earth?

-Bethany

Genesis 49-50 B

After burying Jacob, Joseph returned to Egypt with his brothers and all who had accompanied him to his father’s burial. But now that their father was dead, Joseph’s brothers became fearful. ‘Now Joseph will show his anger and pay us back for all the wrong we did to him,’ they said.” 50:14-15

Poor Joseph. The scene described of him throwing himself over his father’s body and weeping is heart-breaking. He lost so much time with his dad, time his brother’s robbed from him.

But Joseph replied, ‘Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you? You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” 50:19-21

God takes evil and turns it into good. He’s the Redeemer. I love that this dialogue closes out the book of Genesis. A book with one story after another of how mankind has drifted away from the relationship God intended. Remember how the book started out? It wasn’t suppose to be this way. Yet he is reconciling us to his initial plan and we will be welcomed back in his garden.

What was something that surprised you about the book of Genesis this time around?

How did reading this book (again) shape how you see God? Did it change something for you? How?

Join us tomorrow as we start the book of Daniel!

 

-Carly

 

Genesis 47-48 B

These chapters sparked a similar reflection in me as Carly observed last time. The LORD so often lifts up the younger, weaker, or least likely, to be the recipients of blessing. I wonder if Jacob did this on purpose, as a younger brother thief of birthright.

Israel successfully settles in Egypt as the rest of the country struggles to survive. The way in which Joseph makes Pharaoh wealthy at the great cost of the Egyptian people is very interesting. Parts of it sound familiar to the upcoming laws of Sinai:

  • Priests get their own land allotted by the theocratic government.
  • People can sell their land in order to pay debts.
  • They can also sell themselves into slavery.

A major introduced difference will be the glorious Year of Jubilee, which calls for a reset: Slaves regain their freedom, debts are cancelled and everyone returns to their original land.

I struggle with Joseph charging the Egyptians like this with no such “Year of Jubilee” ahead of them, but it’s a sober reminder that times get tough. It’s probably unavoidable. But, there’s always hope for freedom, redemption of things lost, and restoration of former glories.

Life is full of seasons and cycles between feast and famine. The LORD has graciously put an expectation date on everything.

Think about your current situation, the season you find yourself in. Know that it’s not forever. Maybe that inspires you to hold on to glorious feelings. Maybe it encourages you to let go of disappointments.

Even though these chapters end with Egyptians in poverty and Israel sitting pretty, that’s about to get flipped on its head too.

Let’s extend grace to one another in our varied seasons. Let’s also know when it’s time to forgive a debt, restore a relationship or free yourself and others from something holding you back.

-Bethany