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Daniel 3

Even though I am unable to maintain the schedule I originally set out for this blog, I can’t pass up this point from this week’s scripture selection.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego went through the fiery furnace without a singe or even the scent of smoke or fire on their garments. But where was Daniel?

I can’t say that the question never crossed my mind, but I find it very irresponsible to leave the question unanswered or unapproached. My Sunday school quarterly did just that by including the question “Where was Daniel?” and then continuing his discussion about styles of worship. To me this is Drive-by-Theology, and it infuriates me.

There is an explanation. But as is typical of most scoffers, they don’t really want to find it. They would prefer to believe that Daniel probably gave in and bowed down to the gold statue. But the last two verses of chapter 2 (Daniel 2:48-49) provide some enlightening to this situation. Daniel was no longer with his three friends. He had become the top ruler over all Babylon and remained in the Royal Court. So the informants who tattled on Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego hadn’t the opportunity to observe Daniel.

I feel bad to have stopped writing on His Whisperings, but doing so is making a big difference in my being able to handle all the other demands on my live over the next three months. I am still reading the Book of Daniel, and instead of reading only the chapters in the recommended reading from the Sunday school book, I am reading them all. It takes far more time to read and write than it does to only read.

But I would like to make a few general comments about the book of Daniel that have been on my heart for years.  My commentary is as much on the status of seminaries as it is on the book of Daniel.

Because my father was a pastor for many years of his life before leaving the ministry to become a science teacher, I became aware of his skeptical attitude towards taking the Bible literally. The book of Daniel was one that he would not believe. Apparently there are names in this book that pre-dated the times these people lived. He and his seminary teachers made the decision, based on this information, that the book of Daniel was written much later than the time in which Daniel was supposed to have lived. They may have some valid points worth looking at – for myself, I don’t have the time to search it out just now.

But I do have this to say. Who are we to tell God what he can and cannot do? Is God too small to give Daniel some names out of the future (if indeed that happened in the book of Daniel)? Are we so smart that we can decide for ourselves what God isn’t capable of doing? It is presumptuous to put it mildly for any human being, no matter how smart he/she is to decide that something didn’t happen because we have problems understanding it. If we are smart enough to understand everything about God including what he can and cannot do, then we would be equal with God. Now that is what I can’t swallow.

Of course we don’t understand it all. Neither does a child understand that he has to go to bed at a certain time, that he can have only so many cookies or pieces of candy before he must leave the rest for another day, and that sitting and working out math problems after school every day is important.

I have heard a story told of a father and son. From several feet away, the father was watching his son who was playing in his sandbox under a tree when the father suddenly turned serious and said, “Son,  come to me.” Now the boy knew he hadn’t done anything wrong, and he was thoroughly engrossed in building his sand castle. He could have stood there and demanded to know why he should stop playing just now. He could have asked his father to come to him and look at his castle too. Or he could walk away from his project to see what his father wanted. But the boy didn’t know what the father knew. His father was watching a poisonous snake on a branch directly over the child’s head.

We are like that boy. We have to decide whether to trust God to be who he says he is, or to decide for ourselves who we will let God be (as if our decision had any influence whatsoever on the reality of God.)

Unfortunately too many of our current seminaries are taking the scoffer’s approach to understanding the Bible. These misguided theologians are willing to discard the truth of anything bigger than they can understand. In their teachings, they deny God’s power and capability to guide a human being in the writing of scripture, and they deny God’s influence over a group of dedicated Christian men who determined which writings were to be identified as Holy Scriptures and which were not (the canons).

Thankfully, there are still a few good seminaries that are willing to accept all of God’s word as holy. These faithful ones are willing to acknowledge what they don’t understand without faulting the Bible and God for their own lack of understanding. They accept that it is possible not to know all the answers on this side of eternity.

As you read about the Bible from any source other than the Bible itself, ask God for his wisdom and discernment on what you should believe and what you should dismiss as yet one more scoffer’s opinion.

Daniel 3:1-7

Note: I must make a change of approach in this blog. I am facing two or three months of temporary but overwhelming circumstances that lead me to have to pull in my belt and re-focus on some prior commitments, as well as to some temporary but very demanding changes in my work for the next few months as my school is closing and I expect to have to move a large library.

 

The new plan… Judging from the stats on this blog, I believe most of my readers have been Sunday school teachers, so I will attempt to provide this space for my readers to help one another by writing reactions to the scripture each day. I may post more than one in a day as I prefer to get them up early instead of late, but there will be seven individual posts each week until I am led to do something different.

 

 

The first such post is Daniel 3:1-7. Please read the scripture and share something you feel God may be whispering to you as you read it. Feel free to suggest tags that might be added to this post as well.

Daniel 1:18-21 (Click to read NIV or select your preferred translation of the Bible. Please read the scripture first.)

The three years of grooming in Babylonian culture and training for service to King Nebuchadnezzar had finally come to an end. Daniel and his three friends had continued to remain faithful to God throughout this time, and they had chosen not to indulge in the rich foods the king had offered to them and the other young Israelite men the king had singled out for this special treatment.

 

Daniel and his three friends were superior in every way to the other young Israelite men. They had also exceeded the wisdom of all the king’s magicians and enchanters. So they were chosen to enter the king’s service.

 

When we serve God appropriately, we are prepared to serve others, even those who do not revere God. By serving God with our whole heart, we give him the opportunity to empower us to be salt and light to the world. Serving God demands that we serve others to our best ability without compromising our faith.

 

Our Father, help us to keep our focus on you as we try to live out our lives in the secular world that surrounds us. May our willingness to be different serve as a positive witness to those who are inclined to seek you.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Daniel 1:15-17 (Click to read NIV or select your preferred translation of the Bible. Please read the scripture first.)

 

God honored Daniel’s courage and diplomacy. Daniel and his three friends were visibly healthier than the other young men who ate the king’s rich food and wine. They were allowed to continue eating their healthy diet and to honor God.

 

Not only did God bless their physical health for honoring him, he also blessed them with knowledge and understanding. Daniel was also given the gift of understanding visions and dreams.

 

Even though Daniel and his friends were plunged thoroughly into the Babylonian culture, they were able to distance themselves from it by holding fast to the commands of God.

 

Our culture today could be compared to the Babylonian culture as we are surrounded by such an indulgent and permissive society. Like David, we must hold fast to the commands of God and the teachings of Jesus as we face the daily temptations that are thrown at us.

 

Father God, give us the will and the faithful determination to hold fast to your teachings in the face of worldly opposition.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Daniel 1:11-14 (Click to read NIV or select your preferred translation of the Bible. Please read the scripture first.)

When the king’s guard was concerned for his own safety as well as Daniel’s life because of Daniel’s refusal to eat the kings food, Daniel exercised great wisdom. Rather than taking a defiant stand against eating the king’s food, he negotiated a proposal that turned the situation into a temporary test case.

We would benefit from following Daniel’s example of resistance through respectful negotiation. Unfortunately, we Christians often take the offensive approach to following God’s commands. I am referring to in-your-face self-righteous behavior that causes unbelievers to feel embarrassed or singled out for not meeting our expectations. Perhaps we need to examine our own behavior. Do we reach out to the unsaved in love and compassion, or do we view them with contempt because of their behaviors.

Father, lead us to follow you in humility. Help us to learn from Daniel’s example of diplomacy as he negotiated with the king’s guards. Give us his kind of wisdom as we live and work among the unsaved around us.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Daniel 1:8-10  (Click to read NIV or select your preferred translation of the Bible. Please read the scripture first.)

Daniel was prepared to take a stand. He knew what foods God had forbidden his people to eat. Daniel was not willing to sacrifice his principles to please the king. Daniel’s decision to refuse the king’s food could have caused him to be executed, but he would not compromise God’s commands.

Daniel’s decision to not partake these foods came out of a life-long commitment to honoring God. He didn’t suddenly decide to stop eating them; he had decided this long ago. Then when the going got tough he didn’t waver.

We, like Daniel need to resolve issues of right and wrong, what we will and will not do, well ahead of the time when we may be challenged to decide. When we are under pressure to conform, it is hard to think rationally. If the decision has already been made prior to the pressure we will be stronger in our resistance.

God, help us to prepare ourselves to face the temptations that may come our way by studying your word to know your teachings. Then help us to embrace your teachings that we will not falter when the world pressures us to go in the wrong direction.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Daniel 1:3-7  (Click to read NIV or select your preferred translation of the Bible. Please read the scripture first.)

Daniel and his three friends did not seek to be chosen to serve the king, but they were selected because they met the qualifications the king was looking for. They along with all the other young men who were selected were treated like royalty and were in training to serve the Babylonian king. Daniel was given a new name, Belteshazzar, and his three friends were names Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.I always like to find a way to apply each verse to our current day. 

This scripture is basically factual information; however, we might consider how God uses other people and changes they make in our circumstances to show what he can do.

The school I teach in is closing at the end of this school year, so what next year is going to bring me looks like one great big question mark. I have to keep reminding myself that God will be at work in the outcome of the decisions that will be made on my behalf. I have been wishing I could retire to write… We’ll see…

Lord, empower us to relax in the knowledge that you are in control of every aspect of our lives. When things seem shaky and uncertain, help us to lift our eyes off our troubles and up to you with confidence and trust.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Daniel 1:1-2 (Click to read NIV or select your preferred translation of the Bible. Please read the scripture first.)

God is patient and long-suffering. Yet he will do what he says he will do. The people had taken God’s patience for granted until even God’s patience had run out.

God’s covenant with King David and with Solomon was “I will establish his kingdom forever if he is unswerving in carrying out my commands and laws, as is being done at this time.” (1 Chronicles 28:7 NIV) But even King Solomon had begun the downward spiral of the Jewish nation by marrying foreign wives and making allowances for them to worship their Gods.

There were few kings over the Jewish people who followed God. Josiah was one who repented immediately when he heard for the first time the Book of the Law. If Josiah had not repented, God would have allowed the Israelites to fall captive to Babylon earlier.

But the people had once again become corrupt and God could no longer look away. God brought in the Babylonians to conquer the Israelites, carrying them off along with the items from the temple of God, and placed them in their foreign god’s house.

Lord God, May we never forget who you are. May we never forget your promises to us or your commands, lest we become defeated by our enemies. Keep us steadfast in service to you, oh God.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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