Friday, August 11, 2017
Daily reading assignment – Daniel 1-6
Today’s scripture reading challenges me to an impossible task—to write a brief devotional commentary for one of the great prophetic books in the Bible and cover in one reading a passage of scripture (Daniel 1-6) that consumed me for 14 weeks when I preached through the Book of Daniel in 2014.
The Book of Daniel is a prophetic panorama of human history, beginning with the days of Nebuchadnezzar and ancient Babylon and encompassing a prophetic vision of world empires that would follow…Medo-Persians, Greece and Rome. Daniel’s writing include prophecies that are for the 21st century reader a footnote in history past and a foretelling of future events that conclude with the Second Coming of Christ.
Daniel 1 opens with a straightforward, historical fact…the children of Judah are in bondage in Babylon and the beloved city of Jerusalem and the temple will soon be laid waste. The prophet Jeremiah warned Judah’s kings if the people did not repent of their sin and turn to the LORD, His wrath would rise “against His people, till there was no remedy” (2 Chronicles 36:16). Jeremiah prophesied the captivity in Babylon would last for 70 years (Jeremiah 25:12) and when those years were “accomplished at Babylon [God] will visit you… causing you to return to this place [the promise land] (Jeremiah 29:10).
The prophet Daniel has been a favorite of children for millenniums. Only a youth, perhaps no more than 13-14 years old when chosen, taken from his home and family and transported to Babylon with its strange language and idolatrous culture, Daniel proved he was a child of faith from the beginning of his training in Babylon. Numbered with three other Jewish youth who proved they were children of conviction, we read of Daniel:
Daniel 1:8 – “But Daniel purposed [pledged; determined; made a decree] in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.”
“Daniel purposed”, he pledged his heart and resolved in his character, “he would not defile himself” (Daniel 1:8). What courage! What conviction! What passion! God blessed Daniel and providentially gave him “favour and tender love with the prince [chief] of the eunuchs [the servants of the king]” (Daniel 1:9). As you will see in your reading of Daniel 1-6, the testing of Daniel’s faith in his youth prepared his heart for the opportunities, challenges and trials he would face in his service to the kings of Babylon and Persia.
Daniel 5 gives us a historical record of Babylon’s fall in 536 B.C. to Darius, king of the Medo-Persian Empire (5:30-31). Daniel 6 gives us insight into the civil government of ancient Persia (6:1-3). Once again God honored Daniel and, though in his 80’s, king Darius made him second only to himself in power and position (6:2-3).
I close with an observation of three qualities found in Daniel’s life that every Christian should emulate. The first, Daniel had “an excellent spirit” (Daniel 6:3). Rather than a grumpy old man, his spirit and character was exemplary.
The second, Daniel was a “faithful”, trustworthy servant (6:4). When his enemies plotted to destroy him, the only accusation they could bring against him was his devotion to God (6:5-9). Finally, Daniel’s love and devotion for God was so great he was willing to die rather than sacrifice his times of prayer with the LORD (6:10).
Dare To Be A Daniel (by Philip P. Bliss)
Standing by a purpose true,
Heeding God’s command,
Honor them, the faithful few!
All hail to Daniel’s band!
Dare to be a Daniel,
Dare to stand alone!
Dare to have a purpose firm!
Dare to make it known.
Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith