Thursday, January 29, 2009

Daniel chapters 1-4

I love that the theological theme of Daniel is God's sovereignty! Especially in our nation's current time of trial, we need to be reminded that God is in control, He has a plan, and it is GOOD! I, too, need to be reminded of His sovereignty in my life... my plans are small, sometimes scattered, and often fruitless. His plans, however, bring joy, happiness, and PEACE. God cares for me, loves me, and has awesome plans for me... far beyond the limits of my imagination! For that, I am truly thankful! Now, if I could just always remember that God's plans are better than my own, stop meddling, and let Him use me as His plan requires... this is part of my daily walk!
Today I started reading the book of Daniel. It starts with the kingdom of Judah being captured by Nebuchadnezzar, who takes several young Israelite men to serve at the palace- including Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (I'm using the names I know them best by... and the easier ones to write- Daniel is his Israeli name, while the others were the names given to them by Nebuchadnezzar). While beginning their training at the palace, the men were to be given royal food. Daniel (and the others) resolve to stand by their convictions and request to not eat the royal food- as the first portion was given as an offering to the idols. Rather than simply rebelling, Daniel offers a test to their guard- for 10 days, the Israeli men would only eat vegetables and water. God blessed the 4 for standing true to their faith in Him- at the end of those 10 days they looked healthier than the other young men who ate the royal food. God blessed these men because of their faithfulness to Him. Even in the drastic change of their environment, losing their freedom, and becoming servants of a king who did not know their God, these 4 men trusted in God's sovereignty...
CH 2- Nebuchadnezzar has a dream- and challenges the wise men in his kingdom to tell him what his dream was, then interpret it for him. When the wise men say "how can we??? Who knows another man's dreams???" Nebuchadnezzar decides to kill all the wise men in his kingdom- which would include Daniel and the 3 others. The Israeli men gather and pray fervently to God, pleading for mercy... and God reveals the king's dream and the interpretation to Daniel. Daniel goes to Nebuchadnezzar and tells him he knows the king's dream and the interpretation- but prefaces the revelation with a humble admission that no man can know the king's mind- Daniel only knows it because the LORD gave him the knowledge. I love that in this time of uncertainty- even for his life!- Daniel gives the glory to God FIRST. Nebuchadnezzar is amazed when Daniel is able to tell him his dream and the interpretation (who wouldn't be!), and praises Daniel and places him and the 3 others in higher positions of authority in his kingdom.
CH 3- Even though Nebuchadnezzar was amazed by God, proclaiming in ch 2, v 47, "Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery [the dream]," he is not a convert, and creates a golden image for everyone to bow down to and worship. When some of the astrologers tell Nebuchadnezzar that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego aren't worshiping the idol, the king demands that they worship the idol or be thrown into a furnace. I LOVE their answer- so strong, so defiant, and so sure of God's sovereignty! "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this manner. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." (Ch. 3, v. 16-18) Again, even in the face of certain death, these men stand firm to their beliefs, their trust in God, and surrender their very lives to his will, whether it means they live another day or not. One of my fervent prayers is that, as we draw closer to trials and tribulations in our own land and time, I too would stand firmly in my faith in Christ, his sovereignty, and not bow to the pressures and pitfalls of this world. Nebuchadnezzar is infuriated, orders the furnace 7x hotter than usual- so hot that the soldiers who threw Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in are burned to death... but he is yet again amazed by God's power and sovereignty, as he sees not only the three men, who had entered the fire tied and bound, up walking around unharmed in the flames, but also a fourth, who "looks like a son of the gods" (Ch. 3, v. 25). When he calls them out of the furnace, the 3 men had not been harmed at all, not a single hair had been singed, and they didn't even smell of fire! He marvels again at the power of their God, saying "Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king's command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God" (Ch. 3, v. 28). God is amazing! He has the power to do incredible things, far beyond our concept of reality! May I be open to His call upon my life, willing to be used in his awesome works, even if that simply involves being a devoted wife to my wonderful husband and a stay at home mother to the children He has blessed me with!
I read through chapter 4, but I think I'll save my thoughts on that for another post- where I can expound upon and fully develop them. My duties as a mom and wife are my priority now... naptime was short and dinner needs to be early.

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