TODAY’S READING FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT- DANIEL 2:24-3:30
Daniel must act on the revelation he has been given. He goes to Arioch and intercedes for the lives of the other wise men who are condemned to death for failing to provide insight into the King’s dream. He announces that he has revelational knowledge of the dream and its interpretation. Arioch then goes to the King and takes credit for finding the man with the knowledge of the King’s dream and its interpretation. However, Daniel is careful to give God the glory for making the dream known to him, saying, “There is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will take place in the latter days” (Daniel 2:28).
Daniel delivers the precise content of the dream and its interpretation with holy boldness: “A Great God has made known to the king what shall be after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure.” (Daniel 2:45b)
Daniel tells of the King’s dream. The King dreamed of a great image with a head of gold, a chest, and arms of silver, a middle and thighs of bronze, with legs of iron and feet mixed with iron and clay. The image, Daniel says, represents the kingdom of this world, the kingdom of Babylon (gold), to be succeeded by the kingdom of Media and Persia (silver), to be succeeded by the Greeks (bronze), and then the Romans (a mixture of iron and clay), a kingdom that will not hold together. A stone, not cut out of human hands, strikes the image, smashing the feet, causing the entire image to be broken to pieces. The pieces are blown away by the wind, never to be found again. The stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the earth (Daniel 2:31-35), representing the fifth kingdom, the kingdom of God.
This image represents what Jesus referred to as “the time of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24). During this time, there will be four successive kingdoms. A fifth kingdom will destroy the first four and cover the earth with the knowledge of the King of Kings and Lord of lords, Jesus Christ.
King Nebuchadnezzar is impressed and prostrates himself before Daniel, offering incense up to him. He makes Daniel ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the Magi of Babylon. Daniel requests that his friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, be appointed rulers over the affairs of Babylon while Daniel remains at the King’s court.
The peaceful prosperity of these Hebrews is short-lived. Nebuchadnezzar makes an image of gold sixty cubits high and six cubits wide. A royal command is given. All are to bow and worship the image of gold when they hear the musical instruments playing. Whoever does not obey is to be cast into the fiery furnace.
Certain Chaldeans accuse three Hebrews, who have been appointed over the provinces of Babylon, of failing to obey the king’s orders and worship the golden image. The King is furious and threatens to cast Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into the furnace if they do not worship the golden image.
Daniel 3:16-18 16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. 17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
Nebuchadnezzar is furious and orders that the furnace be heated seven times hotter. He orders his mighty men to bind up the three young men and cast them into the fire.
The men do so, but because of the urgency and the intense heat, the king’s men are killed in the process (3:24).
The king is amazed as he looks into the fire and sees not only three Hebrew men, but a fourth man. And the appearance of the fourth man is like a son of the gods (3:25).
The king then calls Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego out of the furnace, and he sees that not even the hair on their heads was singed. There was no smell of fire upon them. Their clothes were also unharmed. Nebuchadnezzar gives praise to the God of the Hebrews for sending an angel to deliver His servants who put their trust in Him.
The King then resolves that the name of their god be honored.
Daniel 3:29-30 29 “Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation or tongue that speaks anything offensive against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego shall be torn limb from limb and their houses reduced to a rubbish heap, inasmuch as there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way.” 30 Then the king caused Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego to prosper in the province of Babylon.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT – 1 PETER 4:7-5:14
Peter and the apostles believed that Christ could return at any time. The redemptive work was accomplished in his first coming. Now His people were to stay active in the Spirit’s control until He comes a second time. Peter tells his readers and us what we should be doing- give ourselves to prayer (v.7), keep on loving and forgiving (v.8), show hospitality (v.9), and use your gifts to the max.
If you have a speaking gift, speak as an oracle of God. If you have a serving gift, serve with the energy that God supplies. To do so brings greater glory to God (1 Peter 4:7-11).
Paul reminded the Thessalonians that they were destined to suffer for Christ (1 Thess 3:3). Though they are appointed to face difficult circumstances as they bear Christ’s testimony in this fallen world, they should rejoice in the sure knowledge of God’s promised reward.
1 Peter 4:12-13 12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.
We are promised that the spirit of glory will rest upon us if we dignify the trial when we are insulted for the name of Christ. We should bear up when people speak evil of us. We must be sure that our attackers don’t have a legitimate case because we have been behaving in an ungodly manner.
Judgment upon the house of God is intended for cleansing and purging, not punishment. The suffering will make them stronger.
Peter recognizes that it is far better to be disciplined by a loving father than an angry judge. He warns them of the judgment to come on unbelievers.
1 Peter 4:18 18 AND IF IT IS WITH DIFFICULTY THAT THE RIGHTEOUS IS SAVED, WHAT WILL BECOME OF THE GODLESS MAN AND THE SINNER?
1 Peter 4:19 19 Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.
1 Peter 5 contains a word to the elders- calling them to protect, love, and care for the flock and to do so with the right motives (5:1-5).
1 Peter 5:6-7 6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.
Peter reminds us that we are in a spiritual battle, and must submit to God and resist the enemy of our souls.
This kind of suffering in the will of God reminds us that we are part of a universal body that is bearing the reproach of Christ in the world.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS- PSALMS 119:81-96
The next eight verses all begin with the letter’ kaph’.
Here we have a picture of the human struggle- First, he describes the internal struggles- “My soul languishes” (v.81), “My eyes fail” (v.82), “I have become like a wineskin in the smoke” (v.83). Then the external struggles- “They persecute me” (v.84), “They dig pits for me” (v.85), “They have persecuted me with a lie” (v.86), “They almost destroyed me” (v.87). Who were his persecutors? “Men who are not in accord with Your Law” (v.85).
What is his response? What is to be our response in these times of trouble? “I wait for your word” (v.81),” I long for your Word” (v.82), “I do not forget your statutes” (v.83) “You will execute judgement” (v.84) “But as for me I did not forsake your precepts” (v.87).
He concludes with this prayer:
Psalm 119:88 88 Revive me according to Your lovingkindness, so that I may keep the testimony of Your mouth.
The next section contains 8 verses, each beginning with the Hebrew letter’ lamedh’.
The immutability and eternality of God is emphasized here:
Psalm 119:89 89 Forever, O LORD, your word is settled in heaven.
We can securely stand on God’s word. His truth abides. His character steadily endures. His faithfulness extends throughout all generations.
His sovereignty is emphasized:
“For all things are your servants.” (Psalm 119:91b)
Verse 93 answers the prayer of verse 88:
“By them (Your precepts) You have revived me” (v.93).
Let us share the Psalmist’s holy resolve: “I shall diligently consider your testimonies.” (v.95)
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS – PROVERBS 28:15-16
Proverbs 28:15-16 15 Like a roaring lion and a rushing bear is a wicked ruler over a poor people. 16 A leader who is a great oppressor lacks understanding, but he who hates unjust gain will prolong his days.
Have you noticed the overlap in our readings today? In the Old Testament Book of Daniel, we read about the Hebrew young men who were cast into the fiery furnace for their faithfulness to the one true God. In the New Testament First Epistle of Peter, we are told not to be surprised at the fiery trials that come upon us, especially as we identify with the one true God in this world. We are told to be watchful for our adversary, the devil, prowls like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Therefore, we are to resist him by standing firm in identification with Christ. Now here in Proverbs, we read of those in this world who behave as roaring lions, oppressing people, devouring and exploiting people, thus prospering unjustly. The writer of Proverbs reminds us that these wicked ones lack an understanding that they stand condemned in the day of judgment, and their prosperity is short-lived.
PRAY FOR THE NATIONS – TURKEY
(from “Operation World Prayer Guide”)
For over 1,000 years, this region was a stronghold of Christianity. Later it became a center for the spread of Islam. The Christian population declined from 22% in 1900 to 0.21% in 2010. Few of today’s 73 million Turkish Muslims have ever truly heard the gospel. The ancient Churches survived until the beginning of the 20th century, but massacres (Armenians), severe persecutions (Assyrians), and emigration (Greeks) removed most of them from the land. Pray for a reviving work of the Holy Spirit among the 130,000 Christians from these ancient confessions who still remain in Turkey.
Pray for the millions of Turks and Kurds in Western Europe. The diaspora of Turks- all approximate numbers- in Germany (2.8m), France (400,000), Netherlands (350,000), UK (300,000), Austria (200,000), Belgium (150,000), Switzerland (80,000), and Sweden (40,000) are far more accessible to Christian workers but are also often far more closed to the gospel. There is also much work among the 150,000 Turks in Australia.
A number of churches and international agencies seek to evangelize them, but local hostility to migrant workers impedes this outreach.
PRAYER: God of Glory, we praise You for the promise that the Spirit of Glory will rest upon those who bear the testimony of Christ in their appointed sufferings. We know that You, the God Whom we serve, are able to deliver us and that You are with us in the furnace of our afflictions. Thank You for the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ that equips us to be victorious in the fight against temptation and the devil. Thank You, God of all grace, for every provision You give to perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish us. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.