Shine Brightly

Re:Verse passage – Daniel 12:1-13 (day two)

 Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt. Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. Vs. 2-3

I love the poetry of these verses. There is enough mystery in them to fire the imagination, but still they are filled with the promise of hope. I love these verses because the point to a moment where those resting redeemed will shine are receive the reward of the righteous. Not often in the Old Testament do we read about what happens after death. Our greater understanding of eternity comes from Jesus and what he taught, and further from the great Revelation. In the midst of what must come, the war, the rebellion, and all the accompanies those, this is an oasis to the faithful. A life lived for Jesus is worth it.

War and More War

Re:Verse passage – Daniel 11:1-45 (day two) 

And now I will tell you the truth. Behold, three more kings are going to arise. Vs. 2a

So, you’re saying there’s going to be war? I have tried to read this chapter as Daniel would have read it. We have some indication who these kings of the North and South were as we have layered history on top of prophecy, but Daniel did not. In that sense, I get frustrated. North, South, kings and kingdoms, battles and false gods; doesn’t it seem like a world spinning out of control. What is a prophet to do? Then I realize, I’m not Daniel, and that is an indictment on my spiritual formation. Tough words were not new to him or his faith journey. He delivered them to Kings all his life. He was put in a place to speak truth to power, and to withstand the changing regimes of godless men. Daniel may have been wearied by these words, but his faith was not shaken. If the Lord continued to allow kingdoms to rise and fall, that didn’t change Daniel’s assignment in a greater Kingdom design. We cannot change our place in history, but we can accept where God has placed us and get to work.

You Are Heard

Re:Verse passage – Daniel 10:1-21 (day two) 

Then he said to me, “Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words. vs 12

Read that verse again…slowly. Now substitute your name for Daniel’s. All this time that you have been petitioning the Lord on behalf of your children, your family, your co-workers, your city, or whatever – the Lord has heard you. That doesn’t mean you are going to hear the answer tomorrow, or that you should stop praying, but isn’t it a comfort to know that you are heard. Can you imagine Daniel’s relief to hear those words. None of those moments were in vain. When you go before the Lord, have this assurance; you are heard. Let me also encourage you to make that an end in itself. Just the recognition that you serve a God who hears should be enough to continue to serve. Press on.

Highly Esteemed

Re:Verse passage – Daniel 9:23-27 (day two)  

At the beginning of your supplications the command was issued, and I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed; so give heed to the message and gain understanding of the vision. vs. 23

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name; you are Mine! Isaiah 43:1b

Believer, when was the last time you recognized your standing with God? Scripture tells us over and over again how much we are loved. Not because of our merit, or on account of status. We are his, and he rejoices over us. This doesn’t mean that we won’t face our share of challenges. We will continue to be refined until we reach glory, but in the midst of struggle we can rest assured that God loves us. Daniel is highly esteemed. It may be easy to look around and become forlorn, but don’t forget to look up. God is active and has not forgotten you.

Take it to the Lord in Prayer

Re:Verse passage – Daniel 9:1-23 (day two)

while I was still speaking in prayer, then the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision previously, came to me in my extreme weariness about the time of the evening offering. vs. 21

It has been mentioned several times in the past few weeks, but I think it bears repeating; Daniel was a man of prayer. What I found compelling is that in this passage Daniel admits both his extreme fatigue, and his reliance on God. Following after the Lord does not guarantee a worry-free existence. You’ve been walking in faith long enough to know that. Our weariness, however, should not be an excuse to take a break from following and serving. When the Lord blesses abundantly we are to give thanks and spend time with him. When we are walking through life’s valleys we are to lean on his promises and spend time with him. Daniel is a great model of how to prioritize our walk with Jesus in the midst of an ever-changing world.

Getting Back to Work

Re:Verse passage – Daniel 8:1-27 (day two)

Then I, Daniel, was exhausted and sick for days. Then I got up again and carried on the king’s business; but I was astounded at the vision, and there was none to explain it. v. 27

What is clear in this passage is that Daniel is unsettled by the vision he has experienced. That may be an understatement as scripture records him being sick for days, but then something happens: he gets up and goes to work. Isn’t that a profound word for us right now? Here is the prophet of the Lord who has been shaken to the core; who, by his own admission, is unsure of the meaning, and his response is to get back to work to which he has been called, trained, and appointed.

We may not know this side of heaven what all of these things happening around us today mean. We may also be very heavy-hearted as we look at the state of the world. In this we are in good company. There will come a time, however, when we are to get back to the doing of our lives. To answer the call that every believer has heard. To obey. To live.

The Ending is Best

Re:Verse passage – Daniel 7:1-28 (day two)

His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him. Vs. 27 b (restatement of vs. 14)

Daniel’s dream sounds terrifying, doesn’t it? I don’t have a clear picture of what those beasts looked like, but I can read from Daniel’s state of mind they were disturbing. Not only that, what they represented was unsettling. Kingdoms, terror, and destruction is not the kind of thing that one wants to know about the future. What I found compelling about the interpretation is that we are not given specifics. Not in the way that we, perhaps, would like. Details like who exactly, when exactly, and where exactly are not revealed. And even if Daniel is given all those details, that is not what he chooses to record. That is not the important part. Kingdoms will rise and fall. Injustice will triumph for a time. Then something else will make all of that stop. This is the heart of the message. Authority will be given to one who will no longer suffer injustice. His kingdom will be everlasting. Skip to the end, friends. We don’t know the details of the middle part of this story, but we certainly know the ending. Fix your eyes on him. He is the author and perfecter of our faith. We proclaimed it a few days ago. He is risen, and he will reign forever. Put your confidence in the ending of this story.

Centered on Him

Re:Verse passage – Daniel 6:1-28 (day two) 

 Now when Daniel knew that the document was signed, he entered his house (now in his roof chamber he had windows open toward Jerusalem); and he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously. vs. 10

We have said this more than once in the past few weeks, but it bears repeating: Daniel’s faith was not a faith of crisis. Daniel did not turn to God because things weren’t going well for him or his people. Daniel did not panic and remember that God could deliver him from trouble. Daniel’s faith was born out of a life committed to following the Lord as a matter of course. It was his duty, his act of obedience, his love for Jehovah that created the core of his person. As a result, when things looked grim around him, he was already in a place of security. He knew the Lord, and the Lord knew him. Our relationship with Jesus needs to be the center of who we are, not a remedy for the current crises around us. Center on Him and you will begin to gain a heavenly perspective on everything else.

He Knew Better

Re:Verse passage – Daniel 5:1-31 (day two)

Then they brought the gold vessels that had been taken out of the temple, the house of God which was in Jerusalem; and the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines drank from them. vs. 3

Yet you, his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, even though you knew all this, but you have exalted yourself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines have been drinking wine from them…vs. 22-23

We know little of Belshazzar as he grew up under his father Nebuchadnezzar, but we do know from Daniel that we has aware of his father’s rise and fall. His story should serve as a cautionary tale for all of us then in light of how we behave when given authority. It is one thing to witness someone abuse privilege and swear that we would never behave in a manner like that, only to be placed in power and fall into the same traps. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Will power is not enough to stave off the demons of our past or those we inherit. It is only complete reliance on Christ for strength and hope that we are able to put those tendencies to the side.

How Many Times?

Re:Verse passage – Daniel 4:1-37 (day two) 

All this happened to Nebuchadnezzar the king. Twelve months later he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon. vs. 28-29

Nebuchadnezzar is like most of us, if we are honest. We are mostly consumed with our own want and desires. There will be times of crisis where we come to a place of recognizing our need for God, and may, for a time, trust in his ability to help us. It’s that “for a time” part that is the problem. Our moments of clarity in crisis do not equate to a surrendered heart and life. Nebuchadnezzar had more than one opportunity to recognize God as the ultimate authority over him, and he gave some lip service before everything was taken from him. His last word was to praise the Lord, but we must ask the question – do we have to have everything forcibly taken away before we will submit to his will? How appropriate a question for us today, as many of us are struggling with so much loss. It’s not too late.