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Category Archives: Daniel

Daniel 4:24-32

“The Madness of King Nebuchadnezzar” by Matthew Clark. From Revealed: A Storybook Bible for Grown-Ups by Ned Bustard

24 “‘This is what the dream means, Your Majesty, and what the Most High has declared will happen to my lord the king. 25 You will be driven from human society, and you will live in the fields with the wild animals. You will eat grass like a cow, and you will be drenched with the dew of heaven. Seven periods of time will pass while you live this way, until you learn that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone he chooses. 26 But the stump and roots of the tree were left in the ground. This means that you will receive your kingdom back again when you have learned that heaven rules.

27 “‘King Nebuchadnezzar, please accept my advice. Stop sinning and do what is right. Break from your wicked past and be merciful to the poor. Perhaps then you will continue to prosper.’

28 “But all these things did happen to King Nebuchadnezzar. 29 Twelve months later he was taking a walk on the flat roof of the royal palace in Babylon. 30 As he looked out across the city, he said, ‘Look at this great city of Babylon! By my own mighty power, I have built this beautiful city as my royal residence to display my majestic splendor.’

31 “While these words were still in his mouth, a voice called down from heaven, ‘O King Nebuchadnezzar, this message is for you! You are no longer ruler of this kingdom. 32 You will be driven from human society. You will live in the fields with the wild animals, and you will eat grass like a cow. Seven periods of time will pass while you live this way, until you learn that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone he chooses.’

Daniel 4:24-32

Dear God, this story convicts me this morning. I found myself jokingly talking like Nebuchadnezzar this morning. I have a tricky issue I’m trying to think through, and I knew I wanted to spend some time with you in earnest prayer about it this morning, but I also had some ideas of my own. So as I talked to my wife about it, I jokingly said that I had come up with some ideas, but I would check in with the Holy Spirit to see if He had any thoughts on the matter, as if it would be an automatic ratification of what I had come up with. As if I could do any of this on my own.

Daniel’s words are for me this morning: “Stop sinning and do what is right.” In this case, it’s just hubris. But the truth is, the ideas I came up with overnight, while they were good, I do think they came from you and you speaking to me and not from me. No, I’m a fool. I’m vain. I want to be respected. I want to be liked. But you are the author of everything good, not only in my life but in me as well. If I have any good thoughts, they are from you. If I have any good decisions or counsel to provide someone else, it is from you. You are my only hope. You are the only thing that keeps me from making a complete disaster of my life. You and you alone.

As I look at this image created by Matthew Clark it can be a little hard to see what all he is putting in there. I see what I think is a snake coming around Nebuchadnezzar’s neck and under his beard. It’s almost like he’s wearing a helmet with oxen horns and ears. It looks like his mouth is hanging open. This is what it looks like when we descend into ourselves.

I want to reprint here what Bustard shares about this piece:

Verse 33 continues with, “Immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles’ feathers, and his nails were like birds’ claws.” [Matthew Clark] writes, “the ‘horns of divinity’ appear in many ancient Sumerian and Babylonian idols. Also, the ancient peoples often thought of crazy people as touched by divinity. So, ironically, Nebuchadnezzar achieved what he desired to accomplish in chapter three when he commissioned the golden statue of himself–but not exactly the way he wanted!” Ultimately the king recovered his sanity and could “praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble.”

Father, I am humble before you right now. I am an arrogant fool, and I am sorry. I experience success and I count is as credit to me. It is not. It is you. It is all about you. I pray that my life today might be about worshipping you and carrying you into the world. I pray that those who encounter me might experience a piece of you and your Holy Spirit today. My utmost for your highest. All that I am for all that you are. Take my life, Lord, and let it be consecrated unto you.

I pray all of this in the name of the Lord of Lords, the King of King, and my God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

Amen

 

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Daniel 9:1-3

It was the first year of the reign of Darius the Mede, the son of Ahasuerus, who became king of the Babylonians. During the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, learned from reading the word of the Lord, as revealed to Jeremiah the prophet, that Jerusalem must lie desolate for seventy years. So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and fasting. I also wore rough burlap and sprinkled myself with ashes.

Daniel 9:1-3

Dear God, I don’t know my Old Testament timelines well enough. I’ve ranted about the modern misinterpretations of Jeremiah 29:11:

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

But they almost always skip verse 10:

This is what the Lord says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again.

There are times when I think I focus too much on trying to see the forest from the trees, but sometimes I think it is important to ignore the forest and just deal with the trees for which you have given responsibility. Help me to be faithful with these trees.

Then there is Daniel’s response, from I can learn as well. Help me to be pained by my country’s sin, and help me to start with my own repentance. I should probably be more burdened for the impact my country’s sin has on the poor and/or vulnerable. What impact it has on children. What impact it has on the elderly. Marriages. Friendships. Isn’t it interesting that our temptation as Americans is to read this passage and find hope. Daniel’s response was to be convicted, heartbroken and repent. Let it convict me as well.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on March 1, 2021 in Daniel, Jeremiah

 

Ephesians 1:9-10

God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ—which is to fulfill his own good plan. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth.

Ephesians 1:9-10

Dear God, I wonder what Paul would have to say about these verses now. Would he be surprised to know that it’s been nearly 2,000 years since he wrote these words and we are still waiting for your plan to be fulfilled? Better said, we are waiting on Paul’s perception of your plan to be fulfilled.

Part of me wants to sit and talk about whether or not Paul was right or wrong. Another part wants to sit and contemplate what your plan is. What exactly are you doing? But that’s a fool’s errand, and I am certainly in no position to form such opinions. No, I think it’s a mistake for me to try to figure out your plan. After all, what will it gain me? What will it gain the world to know your plan for the next 2,000 years? I said a long time ago that you keep me on a need-to-know basis and I very rarely need to know. Those words are as true now as ever.

What I need to focus on is worshipping you today, and being so in tune with the Holy Spirit that I can hear his voice giving me guidance at any given moment. So here is my worship to you. It’s from Daniel 2:19-23:

That night the secret was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven. He said, “Praise the name of God forever and ever, for he has all wisdom and power. He controls the course of world events; he removes kings and sets up other kings. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the scholars. He reveals deep and mysterious things and knows what lies hidden in darkness, though he is surrounded by light. I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors, for you have given me wisdom and strength. You have told me what we asked of you and revealed to us what the king demanded.”
Daniel 2:19-23

Father, you gave Daniel the information you needed him to have without burdening him with information he didn’t need. Please do the same for me. Give me wise counsel for others. Give me insight into the activities that should get my attention and energy. Move through me and bring others to yourself through my life. Be glorified in me so the world might know how amazing you are. And as you choose to raise up leaders here and there, I trust that you are doing exactly what you need, not necessarily for my person good in this moment, but for our good in the long run. It’s all about you and not about me. I am yours.

In Jesus’a name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on November 6, 2020 in Daniel, Ephesians

 

The Fiery Furnace – Daniel 3:14-23

The above image is from Revealed: A Storybook Bible for Grown-Ups by Ned Bustard. The image is called “Even If” and was created by Ned Bustard.

Daniel 3:13-23
Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king, and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?” Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up. ” Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. The king’s command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace.

Dear God, before I get into the artwork that accompanies this story, I want to spend a little time with a revelation that I had. Christians/Jews in the Bible who were living in exile or under the rule of a non-Jewish/Christian king didn’t seem to complain about persecution. Whether it was Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in this story or Paul, Peter, or any of the other martyrs in the New Testament, they seem to take it in stride. Now, I’m sure they were scared and frustrated, but they seemingly dealt with that internally and with you. Externally, however, they just worshipped you through it.

Contrast that with how a lot of Christians respond to what they call “persecution of Christians” in our country today. First, I hardly think it can be called persecution in light of what real persecution looks like. But I hear a lot of whining about Christians being persecuted. Outside of the enforcement of the separation between church and state rules that have been set up, I’m not even totally sure what they’ve been referring to. And maybe I have only a limited picture because I live in the South where there are still large parts of the community that honor faith, but even so, whining is not how to be a witness for you. In this case, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego influenced the king by their faith in action, not by complaining to him that he was being unfair. Paul and Peter were the same way. Letting our faith shine in the midst of trials is what changes hearts. Complaining only makes others tune us out.

Okay, with that being said, let me take a look at this image created by Bustard and see what I see before I read his description.

  • You are overlooking Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego with your arms out wide and your hands open. Everything about you is outstretched and present.
  • Your eyes are focused on Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
  • The flames are very present. They have not been removed. The three of them had to go into the fire.
  • The three men are certainly given distinct looks and hair styles.
  • The one on the right with the curly hair seems to have a rye smile.
  • All three of the men are looking at us while you are focused on them.
  • The guard is dead and the fire had already skeletonized him.
  • The guard is holding a bellows, indicating that he was part of making the fire as hot as possible and he paid a priced for it.
    • He sacrificed his life out of obedience to a king/god that couldn’t save him from the fire that you saved Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from.
  • I just noticed a triangle behind your head. Is that a reference to the Trinity? If so, that’s a nice touch.

With that said, here is what Bustard said about his piece “Even If.”

The title for this piece comes from a different translation of the “But if not” protest against Nebuchadnezzar made by these three young men in this passage. And at the end of the passage above it looks like God will not save them. The poor Persian soldier on furnace duty that day lies on the ground, burned hallway to the bones by the incredible heat, and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are doomed to be burned to death. But then the king was astonished to see four men unbound, walking  unhurt in the fire. God had chosen to save them. He protected them from the king, from the heat, and from death. The appearance of the fourth man in the fire represents a theophany–God revealing himself in human form before the incarnation. Other such appearances include Genesis 32:24-30 and Joshua 5:13-15.

Father, I will follow you “even if” you choose not to save me from earthly situations. I will follow you “even if” I am disappointed with how things that I for which I’m praying turn out. I will follow you “even if” I am angry with you. I will follow you “even if” the road is hard. Let “even if” be my mantra today. I have nothing to prove to anyone else. I am following you “even if” they can’t understand why. But with that said, let my life be an example to others of why, and draw others to yourself through what they see of you in me.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 

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