Daniel: In the third year of Jehoiakim’s reign, the Lord let Nebuchadnezzar capture him, vessels from the temple, and some of the nobility including Daniel, Hananiah, Misheael, and Azariah. These four were young, wise, and good-looking so Nebuchadnezzar put them in training for three years to become the king’s counselors.
During the training, they were given an allowance of fine food from the king’s table. Daniel and his companions didn’t want to defile themselves with the food so they asked to be served vegetables. The Lord gave them favor with the eunuch in charge who tested them with the new diet 10 days. Looking better than the other students, he let Daniel and companions continue with the diet. God gave them learning abilities and wisdom so that when Nebuchadnezzar tested them, they were top of their class and ten times better than the magicians and enchanters in his kingdom.
Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that freaked him out. He commanded the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers, and astrologers to tell him the dream and the interpretation of it or they would be killed. His counselors argued that no one could know a dream except the gods. Nebuchadnezzar wouldn’t relent and had them all rounded up to kill them.
When the officer came to get Daniel and his companions, Daniel asked the king for time to get the answer. Daniel then asked Hananiah, Misheael, and Azariah to ask God for mercy. During the night God revealed the dream to Daniel. Daniel then praised God who is in control of seasons, kings, wisdom, hidden things, and lives in light.
Psalm: The Psalmist continues to extol God’s word. He knows God has dealt well with him and ask to be taught. He knows that affliction brought him back to the Lord and learned God’s statutes. People say bad things about him but he keeps God’s word. His word is better than riches.
Because the Lord made him, he asks for understanding. Others will see and rejoice that he hopes in God’s word. He acknowledges God word is right and his afflictions are God’s faithfulness. God’s love is comforting, his mercy gives life. The Psalmist asks God to put to shame those who lie about him while he meditates on God’s word. He wants those who fear the Lord to turn to the Psalmist to learn God’s testimonies. He wants to be blameless and not put to shame.
Proverbs: If we fear the Lord at all times we will be blessed, but if we ignore him, we will most likely suffer.
1 Peter: Peter gives us some good directions in living with others in unity and not trying to get revenge on others. The opposite is needed to bless others so we may be blessed. He quotes from Psalm 34:12-16 to make his point that if we want to have good lives, we should turn from evil and seek peace. The Lord watches over the righteous and is against those who do evil.
Generally, people aren’t going to harm you if you are trying to do good, but some will persecute you for being righteous. You will be blessed if that happens. We don’t need to fear them as long as we keep Christ in our hearts and live holy lives. We will be able to tell people about the hope we have. We should do that humbly so that even slanderers will be ashamed of our behavior in Christ. It is better to suffer for doing good than evil.
Christ suffered for us when we were unrighteous to bring us to God. His body was killed but not his spirit. In his spirit he preached the gospel to the spirits in prison, those who disobeyed in the times of Noah when only eight people were saved from the flood. Baptism is like that as we are saved when our baptism is an appeal to God for a clear conscience, not a bodily washing. Our appeal in baptism is only effective because Jesus was resurrected from the dead and is seated in heaven at God’s right hand with angels and powers now in subject to him.
Because Jesus suffered, we should think in the same way. We should be ready to suffer to keep from sinning. If you have suffered for Christ, then it shows you are ready to live for God’s will and not your own. Having once lived like the Gentiles and now living for God, it is time to get rid of all our sensuality and ungodly living. They are surprised when you stopped doing these things and speak badly about you now. But they will have to give an account for their lives to the one who judges the living and the dead. The gospel was preached to people who are dead so that those who believe will live with God in the spirit.
What Stood Out
Daniel: “He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding” (Dan 2:21).
Psalm: “Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe in your commandments” (Ps 119:66).
Proverbs: “Blessed is the one who fears the Lord always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity” (Prov 28:14).
1 Peter: “For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does” (1 Peter 4:6).
Daniel: The sovereignty of God is seen in the book of Daniel from the very first of it. The Lord gave Jehoiakim to Nebuchadnezzar. The Lord gave favor to Daniel in the chief eunuch’s eyes. The Lord gave Daniel, Hananiah, Misheael, and Azariah the ability to learn the Babylonian literature and wisdom. He was the one that enabled them to exceed in wisdom above the other in the land. He is the one that gave Daniel the contents of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. The glory goes to God because all the pagan counselors admitted that no person on earth could reveal what the king dreamed.
When we are in a predicament, do we have the kind of faith in God that Daniel exhibited? His faith didn’t start with the dream, it most likely started long before he was captured and exiled. Yet he demonstrated that faith by his dedication to keeping himself pure. People have made a big deal out of his diet as if that were the reason for is wisdom and good health. I have news for them, it wasn’t the diet, it was God. He wanted the diet only because he couldn’t determine if the king’s food was kosher or not. There wasn’t any way the chef could mess up vegetables, they weren’t offered as sacrifices to idol, they weren’t killed and processed with the blood still in the meat like the pagans did. The water wasn’t first offered to idols either. Daniel’s success was because he put his faith into practice in very practical ways so that he would not disobey God’s commandments.
We need to come to the Lord with faith that whatever our circumstances, he is in control. We can ask him to intervene and do all sorts of things. However, we must be firm in knowing that he is in control even when he answers our prayers in ways we don’t expect or even in ways we don’t want. Our faith is not in the answers but the one God who controls all things.
Psalm: Daniel could have known this Psalm. He may have thought about it often when he was being taught the laws, literature, and even the pagan magic of the Babylonians. He could have been thinking that keeping God’s commandments would give him the wisdom he needed to endure his captivity. He could have expressed his gratitude in his afflictions along with the Psalmist.
The Psalmist exhibits a great trust in the Lord. I wonder how many Christians can take these verses to heart? “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word” (Ps 119:67). “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes” (Ps 119:71). “I know, O Lord, that your rules are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me” (Ps 119:75).
God’s affliction or discipline is something that we should accept and be glad that he loves us enough to keep us from going astray. We should know that when we bend his rules, he will do what is necessary to bring us back to him. God is faithful and his steadfast love is behind his rules and is why he won’t let us go our own way. Let’s thank the Lord for his afflictions.
Proverbs: I wonder if Daniel thought about this Proverb. He could have considered his captivity a great calamity. Most people in exile did. However, Daniel’s faith showed that he feared the Lord and kept his commandments. The Lord did bless him, but like other in the Bible, he was blessed in his calamity instead of being freed from it. We should take a better look at our unfortune because it may be God’s way of blessing us.
1 Peter: Which controversial verses do you want to side track you? 1 Peter 3:21 has led many to believe that all you have to do to be saved is to be baptized. Other focus on this verse and claim that you aren’t saved until you are baptized. Considering that the Bible doesn’t have even one instance of a person being baptized and saved before confessing Jesus as Savior, we need to concentrate on what else the verse and context says. It is what we do when we want to have a good conscience toward God. If we weren’t saved, we wouldn’t care. Baptism then is just what many quote, it is an outward sign of what God has already done in us.
If that verse doesn’t cause enough problems, 1 Peter 4:6 is also hard to explain. Many people believe that the dead people in this verse refers back to 1 Peter 3:19-20 where it says Jesus preached to the spirits of who were disobedient during Noah’s time and are now in prison. They believe that those have a second chance for salvation. This explanation is rather ludicrous because that would mean they had a second chance after death for salvation, contrary to Hebrews 9:27. It would also be ludicrous because God clearly said they were all corrupt and evil (Gen 6:5).
Others believe Peter is referring to Gentiles who are considered dead. This explanation is easier to understand though I don’t think it has to be restricted to Gentiles. Anyone who is not a believer in Jesus Christ is dead, even when our bodies are alive. In the context of the immediately previous verses though, Gentiles fit the passage. When we are dead and we hear the gospel, God makes us alive in Christ. We believe and are seated with God in Christ in heaven (Eph 2:4-5). That is good news for anyone.
I want to make sure that my faith is evidenced even in tough times. I believe that God is good and he is sovereign. That means that I can’t view my circumstance as anything other than God’s plan for me. Sure, I can mess up and “bad” things happen, but God is still in control.