READING: Daniel 1-3
I continue to be more filled with wonder over God as I read His Word. Some of the stories I’ve read so many times over the years have come to life in unique ways as I read this year. Today is one of those days.
Maybe a simple outline summary of the first three chapters of Daniel will show you my increasing wonder. Again, I knew all these truths . . . but God just seems to want me to be overwhelmed by Him:
- King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon laid siege to Jerusalem and demanded the deportation of the best young men to Babylon, where they would be re-programmed (even given Babylonian names).
- God gave great wisdom to the Hebrews Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. In fact, their wisdom was ten times greater than “all the magicians and enchanters in his [Nebuchadnezzar’s] kingdom” (Dan 1:20).
- Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that stressed him out. To test his magicians, he required them to tell him the dream first before they told him their interpretation. Their response was, “What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among humans” (Dan 2:11). What they didn’t know was that they were about to meet the God of the Hebrews, who did, in fact, dwell among His people. The Babylonians knew no God like Yahweh. That’s because there is no God like Yahweh.
- God gave Daniel the dream and the interpretation, and even Nebuchadnezzar praised Daniel’s God as “the God of gods and the Lord of kings and the revealer of mysteries” (Dan 2:47). It’s not clear that Nebuchadnezzar ever worshiped God exclusively, but even the pagan king praised God.
- When Nebuchadnezzar erected a statue to be worshiped, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to worship the image. The king told them he would throw them into the fire, and he concluded his words with this question: “Then what god will able to rescue you from my hand?” (Dan 3:15). Nebuchadnezzar was about to find out!
- The three Hebrew young men so trusted God that they refused to worship the false god even if their God chose not to rescue them (Dan 3:17-18). It was, in fact, their willingness to die that caught Nebuchadnezzar’s attention: “They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God” (Dan 3:28).
- Nebuchadnezzar’s response when God protected the Hebrews in the furnace? “No other god can save in this way” (Dan 3:29). He was quite right.
Who is this God? He’s the God of the universe who also dwells among people. He’s more powerful than all the magicians and enchanters of the world. He grants wisdom to His followers. He is able to save His own from great trouble, even protecting them from the fiery wrath of pagan rulers; and if He chooses not to protect them, He is still worthy of worship. Nobody — particularly no other god among the pantheon of false gods around the word — can save like He does.
He’s worth living for.
And, in fact, dying for, if that’s His calling.
- Give some thought to the spiritual conflicts of Daniel 1-3 as the magicians and their powers encountered Daniel and his God. Thank God for His power.
- Decide now that you will stand for God today, even if you must stand alone. Even if it costs you your life.
PRAYER: “God, You are my deliverer. And, even if you do not deliver me, You are my God. Nobody can do what You do. Help me to stand for You and Your Word today.”
TOMORROW¹S READING: Daniel 4-6