Tag Archives: Daniel

Through the Bible, July 31

Reading: Ezekiel 21; Daniel 7:1-14

Summary: Of the many titles and references used for Jesus, “Son of Man” is the most frequent.  It is also the only one used by Jesus in referring to Himself and He’s the only one to use it.    Though it appears in all four Gospels, it is occurs most frequently in Matthew.  The reference is of Old Testament origin.  It’s found some 90 times in Ezekiel, although these are all references by God of the prophet.  The only use of it in reference to the coming Messiah is found in Daniel.

Today’s reading from Ezekiel is as a sample of the frequent use of the term in that book and in Daniel of the Messianic passage that is the origin for the term used by Jesus.

Devotional Thought:

Son of Man

There’s a story of a man who noticed a very small flock of birds huddled near his garage door as a violent storm approached.  His thought was that if he could somehow get them into his garage they’d be protected and safe.  Of course, his every attempt to move, coerce, and influence the movement of those birds was futile.  They only scattered and fled with every approach.  “If they just knew I was trying to help them” he thought.  Finally he resigned himself to the notion that the only way he could possibly lead those vulnerable creatures to safety is if he were somehow to become a bird like them.  Then they could know and then he could save them.

Jesus became a man, just like us, to lead us to the safety of the Father.  He became one of us.  He became like us.  He suffered temptation in every point like us—yet without sin—so that He might be a faithful High Priest.  He leads us.  He is the initiator and the pioneer of our faith (Php. 2:6-8; Heb. 2:10, 17; 4:14-15; 12:2).

Jesus chose the title “Son of Man” to refer to Himself above all other names.  Might it be that this is because He sees becoming one of us as one of His most important achievements?  His love is so great that even in designating Himself He chose the name that connects with us.

Through the Bible, June 14

Reading: No scheduled reading

Thoughts and Reflection: Today is the scheduled catch up day for the second week of June.  Take this opportunity, if needed, to get your reading up to date.  If you are all caught up, you may wish to think on the thoughts listed below based on this week’s readings.

  1. Daniel’s prophecies look toward the coming of God’s kingdom. He places the events in historical perspective even bridging the gap from the present (Nebuchadnezzar’s reign) to the time of the New Testament (Roman rule).  He even prophesies regarding events and individuals from during the 400 year time span between the Old and New Testaments (including Alexander the Great, his four generals who inherit his kingdom, etc.)
  2. The fact that New Testament Christians possessed as their Scriptures what we today would refer to as the Old Testament, they were quite familiar with not only the story that unfolds there, but also the prophecies, visions, and messages of the prophets. So, near the end of the first century, when the church began to be opposed by Rome and subject to persecution, God’s message of defeat to her enemies and ultimate victory over Satan was couched in a message based on symbols and figures.  These the Christians readily understood while the enemy Romans did not.  Thus the book of Revelation is replete with words, ideas, and images taken directly from sources like Daniel and Ezekiel.
  3. Zerubbabel led the first return of Jews to Jerusalem and Judah from Babylon. Later groups would be led by Ezra and Nehemiah.  So, just as there had been three primary deportations of Jews from Jerusalem into captivity, there will also be three primary returns from exile; a nice symmetry as we often find in Scripture.

Devotional Thought:

Whether You Do or Don’t, Do

When the people of Israel had the opportunity to return to their homeland from captivity after Babylon fell to Persia, some of them did, but not all.  Of those who did, the Bible says it was ones “whose spirit God had stirred to go up” (Ezra 1:5).  But it wasn’t everybody.  It wasn’t Daniel or Ezekiel, it wasn’t Ezra or Nehemiah—though both of these would eventually go.  Most of the Israelites stayed where they were.

The point is that not everyone is willing, able, or even should do everything.  And just because someone isn’t doing what I’m doing does not make them somehow “less than.”  What is more, even if God stirs my heart to do something, it doesn’t somehow make that more important than what you are doing, or necessarily that you should do what I’m doing.

But also notice this, of those who remained behind the Bible says they “encouraged them” (Ezra 1:6; NASB).  The ones who did not go, did what they could to help those who were going.

Isn’t that true of every endeavor, even in the Lord’s work?  Success depends on active, willing participants as well as strong encouragers and supporters.  Everyone does have a part to play.

So, it doesn’t matter if you do or you don’t, you still need to do!

Through the Bible, June 9

Reading: Daniel 6, 9

Summary: Daniel appears to transition from a role of leadership in Babylon to the same under the Medes and Persians.  Today’s reading involves two incidents from the rule of Darius the Mede.  The first is Daniel’s famous visit to the lion’s den.  The second involves a prayer offered by Daniel, truly one of the great petitions recorded in Scripture.  A third vision is also dated during the reign of this same king (chapter 11) and yet another to the time of Cyrus of Persia (chapter 10).

Devotional Thought:

Don’t Dare Pray!

Have you prayed today?

If not, why not?  Is it because you just hadn’t thought about it?  Is it because you only pray at meal time or in a worship assembly?  Is it because you’re not in the habit of praying?  Is it because you’ve been threatened with death if you do?

I’m guessing it’s probably not that last one, is it?  But what if you were told you could not pray to God?  What if you were told that if you were caught praying you would be killed?  You know, like Daniel was (Daniel 6).

Is prayer more of a possibility for you if it is under the threat of death or if there is no pressure, no threat, no ill effects if you do?

Is the proof of the importance of prayer in my life most evident when there is the chance of death if I do or when there is no looming threat at all?

Through the Bible, June 8

Reading: Daniel 7, 8

Summary: Chronologically speaking, the record of the events and visions of Daniel are not placed in order in the Bible.  Today’s reading involves two visions dated during the reign of Belshazzar, the final king of Babylon, and thus also the last king of Israel’s captivity.

Devotional Thought:

Silence Does Not Mean Inactive

Four hundred years is quite a long time; especially when one is waiting.

That’s how many years transpire between the Old and New Testaments.  The Old closes with great anticipation of the return of Elijah (Mal. 4:5), the emergence of the Lord’s Messiah (Isa. 61:1-3) and the rise of the God’s mighty kingdom (Micah 4:1-4).  But a year must pass four hundred times before it finally begins to happen.

All the while God is silent–no message, no prophet, not a sound from heaven.  That does not mean, though, that God is not at work.  Daniel, more so than any other, prophesies about the work of God during this time of silence.  His prophecies speak of the rise and dominance of Alexander the Great (though he mentions only his kingdom, not the king) and also the aftermath of that kingdom being divided among his generals since he had no sons to be heirs (see Daniel 8).

Daniel confessed to not understanding what all these prophecies meant (Dan. 8:27) yet from our perspective looking back through history, they make perfect sense.  God was bringing about through the nations—as He’s done before—His will; He’s setting the stage for the arrival of His Son and His kingdom.

Just because God isn’t speaking, does not mean He’s not working. That’s good to remember even today.

June Week 2 Bible Reading Introduction

Week 2: Captivity Ends and Restoration Begins

June 8-14

         From an historic vantage point, this week’s readings come from the time of the captivity in Babylon.  Both Daniel and Ezekiel are active in this time as God’s servants delivering His message.  Though God is punishing His people by this act of removal from the land He’d given to them, He is not disinterested or disengaged from them. His continues to speak to them through His prophets.

The saga of God’s people continues on two fronts following the fall of Babylon to Cyrus the Great.  It is he who provides for the return of the Israelite people to their home country and many of them take advantage of this opportunity.  Ezra records the events of these early returns to Jerusalem.  Meanwhile, many of the Jews remain where they have now been for over 70 years.  Daniel is among them.  God remains active among His people in both locales.

Through the Bible, June 7

Reading: No scheduled reading

Thoughts and Reflections: Today is the regularly scheduled “Catch Up” day for the first week of June.  If needed use it to go back and cover some readings where you may have fallen behind—it happens.  Otherwise, below are some thoughts for your consideration from this week’s readings.

  1. Daniel and Ezekiel were contemporaries, and they knew one another. Ezekiel mentions Daniel by name (Ezek. 14:14, 20).  What is remarkable about this is that the prophet mentions Daniel along with Noah and Job as individuals of exceptional faith and righteousness.  That in itself does not surprise us but note that Daniel’s reputation was such while he was still alive, and apparently—if chapter 14 is written even before the siege is made on Jerusalem as many believe—still rather young.  What a great testament to this godly young man.
  2. Effective discipline extends beyond the application of negative consequences. There were times when we felt it necessary to spank our children.  But we never let the spanking be the end of it. After an appropriate time, we would sit down with the child and discuss why what had just happened.  Our interest was not inflicting pain, but teaching important lessons.

So God disciplined his people.  They were taken from their home and their lands and made captives in Babylon.  But God did not leave it there.  He continued to work with them and speak to them.  He wasn’t finished. Daniel and Ezekiel stand as testaments to that fact.

  1. One value of familiarity with Ezekiel and Daniel is a better chance of understanding Revelation. Both books heavily influence John’s apocalypse. Revelation extensively relies on the language, imagery, and vocabulary of the Old Testament in general and the prophets specifically.  Both of these prophets of the exile also contain portions of apocalyptic literature (a style of writing the relies heavily on symbolism) of which Revelation is the most prominent Bible example.

Devotional Thought:

If Only…

What is keeping you from doing your best? From reaching your goals and dreams?  From being a person of righteousness and faithfulness to God?

“Well, I’ve just got to do this or that, or fix this, or get past that, or when I get a little older, or a little smarter, or I’m in better circumstances or….”  There’s always something that could be better about us, our circumstances, and our lives.  We make a critical error when we believe that everything has to be just right before we do and be our best.  That’s just not true.

No better examples of this can be found than Daniel and Ezekiel.  Here are two men for whom the majority of their lives were lived under negative circumstances—they were both captives and exiles from their homeland and likely from their family and kin.  In no way did they think that the only way to do and be their best was to get back home and have their less-than-desirable circumstances be fixed.

As a matter of fact, it could be argued that their greatness is actually defined by who and what they were in the middle of those circumstances.

So, instead of waiting for things to be right so you can act, you may be missing the greatest opportunity you’ll ever have.

Through the Bible, June 2

Reading: Daniel 3-5

Summary: Daniel is not the only young Hebrew of great faith in Babylon.  The amazing story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego happen during this same time as well as the interpretation of a second dream by Daniel.

A final story from the Babylonian empire involves Daniel and king Belshazzar.  This marks the end of Babylon’s dominance at the hand of Darius the Mede.  Daniel’s story, though, is far from over.

Devotional Thought:

Why Serve God?

God blesses and that is wonderful.  He blesses abundantly.  That’s even better.  What He does on our behalf is past our finding out.  And that is, well, impossible to humanly express.

So, here’s a question: why do you serve God?  Think seriously about this.  Is it so that you can get from Him what He has to give?  Or is it because He is God?

That was the issue at hand with Job.  Satan argued that Job’s devotion was only because God blessed him.  God thought otherwise.  The entire experience of Job, as unpleasant as it was, proved Satan wrong and God right.  That’s no surprise, but it was no easy reality to live with either.

Perhaps even more pointed, and certainly more brief, is the experience of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.  Notice carefully their response to Nebuchadnezzar’s insistence that they bow before his image, even under the threat of fiery death: “…our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.  But if not, be it known to you, O kings, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image you have set up” (Dan. 3:17-18).

“But if not…” is a weighty phrase.  Their devotion to God was not dependent on His rescuing them from harm.  He was to be served exclusively because He is God.  Period.

I’m happy and quite pleased for God’s blessing.  I’m happier still that God is God.

Through the Bible, June 1

Reading: Daniel 1-2

Summary: Following the death of good king Josiah, the fall of Judah was rapid. Pharaoh Neco killed Josiah in route to join Assyria in battle against Babylon. This battle at Carchemish essentially ends Assyrian dominance and begins Babylon’s.  Judah places Josiah’s son Jehoahaz on the throne, but Necco, returning home from battle, replaces him with his brother Jehoiakim.  Jehoiakim only lasts until Babylon shows up and replaces him with his son, Jehoiachin.  Some of the “sons of Israel” are brought to Babylon to serve in the king’s court at this time.   Among the number taken is young Daniel.

While Jehoiachin and finally Zedekiah finish out Judah’s time as her last kings, Daniel is coming into prominence in Babylon as a notable Hebrew youth.  His interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream serves as a great prophecy of God’s coming kingdom.

Devotional Thought:

Should I Change My Mind?

“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their mind to be.”

That is supposed to be something Abraham Lincoln said.  It speaks as much to one’s mindset as it does to happiness.  Yes, happiness is a choice, as one’s state of mind has a far greater bearing on realities than do actual circumstances or other outside influences.

Of Daniel we read, “But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself…” (Dan. 1:8).  Of Peter, Jesus said his mind was set on man’s interests rather than God’s (Matt. 16:24).  Similarly, a mind set on things above as opposed to things on earth is to be characteristic of one “raised with Christ” (Col. 3:2).  And a renewed mind is the means by which spiritual transformation transpires (Rom. 12:2).

Several questions seem appropriate here:

Have you determined to follow Jesus?

Is your mind made up to live a “self-controlled, upright, and godly” life (Titus2:12)?

By what conscious means is your mind being renewed and your life transformed?

What kind of space are you allowing in your ongoing thought processes for spiritual, God-centered ideas and truths?

If your spiritual life is weak, somehow lacking, or unsatisfactory it could well be that the very first step in the other direction is to change your mind.

June Week 1 Bible Reading Introduciton

Week 1: The Final Fall of Jerusalem and Judah from Captivity’s Perspective

June 1-7

         God’s people have been taken into captivity.  Previously, Israel had fallen to Assyria and now it was Judah’s turn to be deported to Babylon.  Judah’s departure was actually a process rather than a singular event.  It was consummated when Nebuchadnezzar led the Babylonian armies in a lengthy siege of Jerusalem and finally broke through to destroy the city and the temple.   It all began during the reign of Jehoiachin when he, along with the many nobles and princes, were taken captive (c. 609 B.C.).  A second group was taken into captivity in about 596 and finally, the city fell in 586.

Last month we traced this history of the kings and prophets of this time from the perspective of Judah and Jerusalem.  There is another side to this story and that is from the vantage point of some of those early captives in Babylon who witnessed the final days and fall of Jerusalem from afar and were then finally joined by their kinsmen in captivity.

Both Daniel and Ezekiel’s lives and prophetic careers bridge the gap from the before the fall of Jerusalem and through the captivity and even into the time of restoration following Babylon’s fall to the Medo-Persian empire.  What is unique about them is that they are writing while in captivity.

In addition to that, Jeremiah, the prophet in Jerusalem trough those final days, also wrote Lamentations in response to the destruction of the beloved city.

This week’s reading will take from these sources their accounts leading up to and including Jerusalem’s fall.

June Bible Reading Introduction

June Bible Reading Introduction

Old Testament History Ends

Captivity and Restoration

Books: Daniel, Ezekiel, Lamentations, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi

Old Testament history concludes with God’s people being restored to their homeland and rebuild their nation. It is of great interest to note that when given the opportunity, the majority of the Jewish nation did not return but remained in the lands where they had settled. But, many did return. And as the deportation of htejs3ws from Jerusalem and Judah had taken place in stages, so also would the return occur in stages.

Great emphasis is given in both the historical accounts and the prophetic messages of this time to the future glories of the Messianic kingdom.  It is of no small significance, that the highly symbolic New Testament book of Revelation relies heavily on the language and imagery portrayed in Ezekiel, Daniel, and Zechariah (as well as many other Old Testament books) to convey the message of hope in the eternal kingdom of God.

This closing phase of the Old Testament’s record really does set the stage for much of what we encounter with the Jewish people in the New Testament. We find that more of them live outside of Palestine than in it. Also, there’s a greatly heightened sense of expectation for God’s work among them in sending a Messiah. Further, there’s a decidedly different attitude toward the Law and the gods of the nations, both of which had contributed so directly to their downfall and captivity.