Wednesday, November 29, 2017

November 29: Daniel 6; Psalm 119:129-152; Proverbs 28:21-22; 2 Peter 3



Overview

            Daniel: Darius had 120 satraps running the nation. They reported to three officials, one of whom was Daniel. Because of Daniels excellent spirit, Darius was going to put him over the whole kingdom. The other two officials and the satraps conspired to bring charges against Daniel but couldn’t find any faults. They came to Darius and convinced him to make a law that anyone who prayed to any god other than Darius should be killed in a den of lions. Darius agreed, and it became a law for 30 days. Laws of the Medes and Persians cannot be revoked.
            When Daniel heard of it, he continued to pray to God three times a day in his house. The officials went to the king and reminded him of the law and that it couldn’t be changed. They then told him that Daniel was ignoring the decree and praying to his God. The king tried for a day to find a way to rescue Daniel, but the officials came again and reminded him that the law could not be changed.
            Darius told Daniel that he wanted God, whom Daniel served, to rescue him from the lions but he put Daniel in the lion’s den and sealed it with a stone and the king’s and his officials’ signet rings. Darius went home and fasted and didn’t sleep all night.
            In the morning, Darius went to the den and asked Daniel if God had rescued him. Daniel answered that God’s angel closed the lions’ mouths and he wasn’t harmed because he trusted God. Darius threw all the men and their families who conspired against Daniel into the lions’ den.
            Darius then made a proclamation to all people on earth. He commanded them to tremble before Daniel’s God because he is the living God who lives forever. His kingdom is forever. He rescues and does signs and wonder on earth and in the heavens. He saved Daniel from the lions.
            Daniel prospered during Darius’ reign and that of Cyrus the Persian.
            Psalm: God’s word is wonderful, it imparts understanding, keeps our steps steady. Therefore, we long for it; it keeps us from iniquity. We need to have it taught to us because some do not keep it.
            God is righteous and it shows in his rules and his faithfulness. The Psalmist is zealous for God’s word especially when his foes forget it. Even if we are small, despised, and have troubles, we don’t forget God’s word but delight in it.
            The Psalmist cries to God with all he has, to be saved. He cries early in the morning and even at night. In his affliction, he keeps God’s word and meditates on it. Though his persecutors come close, they are far from God’s law and he is close to the Lord and has known God’s law for a long time.
            Proverbs: Don’t be biased against or for others; remember a hungry person may cause someone to sin. Not being generous and desiring wealth will end up in poverty.
            2 Peter: Peter again reminds his readers that he is stirring up their minds with his letter. He reminds them of what the prophets and the Apostles said concerning Jesus’ commandments. They should remember that in the last days there will be people who ridicule predictions of Jesus’ return. They do this by claiming everything is the same as it always was and therefore isn’t going to happen. On purpose, they ignore God’s account of the creation and the flood as God has said. They ignore the prediction that the universe will be ended at the judgment and the ungodly will be destroyed.
            We should not overlook that time is different for God. Long ages or a short moment are both the same to him. He isn’t forgetting his promises, but he is waiting because he wants people to repent and not to perish. When he decides it is time, it will happen swiftly when the Lord comes. Everything will disappear in heat and everything we have done will be exposed.
            Since everything will happen this way, we need to be living godly lives. We should even do what we can to have it happen sooner. We should be looking for a new heaven and earth where there is perfect righteousness after all the old universe is removed.
            While we wait, we should be perfectly holy and at peace. This waiting is giving time for more salvations according to what Paul wrote by the wisdom God gave him. His letters speak about these things and some are hard to understand. Unstable people twist his letters along with other Scripture, but it is to their own destruction. Since we know this, we need to keep away from their errors and not become unstable like them. Rather, we should be growing in grace and our knowledge of Jesus. To him belongs all glory now and when eternity starts.

What Stood Out

            Daniel: “When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously” (Dan 6:10).
            Psalm: “I am small and despised, yet I do not forget your precepts” (Ps 119:141).
            Proverbs: “To show partiality is not good, but for a piece of bread a man will do wrong” (Prov 28:21).
            2 Peter: “For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished” (2 Peter 3:5-6).

Insight

            Daniel: We again see God’s sovereignty over all situations. He didn’t stop the officials from conspiring against Daniel. He didn’t give wisdom to Darius to see through the ridiculous law and the consequences of signing it. He didn’t punish Darius for his obvious pride in wanting people to pray to him. That alone was blasphemous enough to have warranted his immediate destruction (see Acts 12:22-23 so see what happened to Herod when he accepted the acclimation that he was a god). If we were praying for Daniel, we would have surely asked God to do one or all of these things. However, he did stop hungry lions from killing Daniel. The results were glory to God acclaimed in writing to perhaps millions of people. That wouldn't have happened if any one of our prayers were answered and Daniel was spared from entering the lions’ den.
            We don’t know what Daniel prayed but it is noteworthy that he continued to pray as was his custom. When disaster threatened, he didn’t panic. He didn’t have to make any special times of pray because he always prayed. We can learn from him that a godly people are always in communion with God so that threats don’t cause anxious prayers. We can learn that our godly way of life doesn’t have to change because of some government regulations. We can learn that when a government or society makes rules against our worship of the Lord Jesus, we don’t have to stop or put others in place of Jesus. We must obey God rather than man as Peter said (Acts 5:29).
            Daniel’s example doesn’t mean that we must openly defy the government though. Continuing to have underground churches when necessary and being careful when and where to worship or evangelize is not lacking faith. It is being shrewd (Matt 10:16). It does mean we should establish our regular prayer life and trust in the Lord so that when we are thrown to the lions, we will still trust him knowing the outcome will bring him glory.
            Psalm: Today’s reading has a lot of anguish in it as the Psalmist asks to be saved from his afflictions. But he does remember that in the midst of his personal battles and problems, God’s word is his delight. We may not face the same kinds of things. Ours may be small problems or they may be great and life-threatening. We may be a nobody or we may be someone like Daniel. The solution to living a victorious life is not focusing on the problems but on God and his word. He has the power to rescue and change our circumstances as demonstrated by Daniel’s rescue. But we don’t see the whole picture, how he will gain glory from it all. If we focus on ourselves, our trial will be miserable. If we focus on what God wants, we can have joy in our circumstances (James 1:2-4).
            Proverbs: We often are biased against poor people. We don’t want to be around them because of one thing or another. We may think that they are dangerous, thieves, or some other vile criminals. Certainly, some are, but so are some wealthy people and everyone in between, but we don’t automatically think they are wicked. We need to remember that some of the poorest people are not there because they are worse than other. Some of them do steal because they are hungry. We should be careful in judging them because we’ve never been in their shoes.
            2 Peter: Peter told us that the teaching of evolution would be at the heart of those who deny Jesus. No, he didn’t say it in those words, but his opening of chapter 3 describes in a few short verses what has happened of the past 100 years or so as people ridicule the biblical view of creation using evolution. I firmly believe in a literal six-day creation, a young earth, and a global flood. These are the things Peter says scoffers will deliberately overlook (2 Peter 3:5).
            I hear this ridicule when people proclaim that the biblical view of creation isn’t scientific. The reality is that there are many scientists with PhDs who have clearly described why evolution is not scientific and there is more evidence for a literal six-day creation, a young earth, and a global flood than there is for evolution. I would refer you to https://creation.com/ and their book and DVD written by some of these PhDs, Evolution’s Achilles’ Heels. Remember, people who scoff at this have a reason and it isn’t scientific. Many know their theory is bogus, but they try to put down the biblical view because they don’t want to be accountable to God. The want to ignore and pretend that the day of judgement won’t happen.
            Another very important passage is 2 Peter 3:15-16. Some false teachers claim that Paul led the Church astray with his teaching. Peter affirms that Paul’s letters are God’s word when he associates his letters with the “other Scriptures.” While he admits that Paul’s letters are sometimes hard to understand, they are still God’s word.

Application

             I want to be able to have a consistent walk with the Lord so that my prayers will be in accordance with his will and to bring him glory. That means trusting him because he is sovereign and he is good. It means living a godly life that will demonstrate to outsiders that Jesus is real and he is returning. It means believing the whole Bible from Genesis to Revelation and not picking the things I think are correct and without error.

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