Israel 2016

Israel 2016
Roman architectural influence in Bet Sean, Israel

Monday, September 12, 2016

Chronological Reading Plan for Sep 13, Dan 4-6

Today's readings are Dan 4-6. Tomorrow's are Dan 7-9.

These chapters conclude the first portion of Daniel's narrative. Dan 7 and following will detail the prophetic end-times vision for which the Book of Daniel is famous. In the overall narrative of Daniel, the first six chapters establish Daniel's credentials and authority as a prophet of God. They validate the rest of the book. 

In Dan 4, the king has another dream. Again, Daniel is the only one to whom God gives the wisdom to interpret the dream. The dream, concerning a gigantic tree, representing the Babylonian kingdom and eerily reminiscent of the Tower of Babel, is about the king, again. This time God says the king will be humbled and the kingdom brought down to its foundation if he doesn't set aside his pride and arrogance. Nebuchadnezzar, the one who thinks himself to be a god will become more like a beast. 

It all happens just as Daniel said. The king holds on to his pride, even after giving honor to Daniel and paying homage to God. Apparently the king's heart is unchanged, though. Perhaps he has been impressed, perhaps even moved emotionally by what God has done. But his pride remains. As a result, Nebuchadnezzar is humbled, eating grass and living outdoors, for seven years. When he finally looks up to the heavens and acknowledges God, his reason is restored and so is his kingdom. 

Dan 5 sees the beginning of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar's son. The new king is even more prideful and arrogant than his father. He has a vision that only Daniel can interpret. Babylon would fall into the hands of the Medes and Persians. Darius, who either precedes Cyrus or is, perhaps, a lesser king reigning under Cyrus, invades and kills the Babylonian king, taking Babylon captive.

The Babylonian kingdom was one of the most powerful empires ever to exist. It was also one of the shortest lived, used by God for His divine purposes, then judged, in 538 BC, for their ungodly ways. 

Inline image 1

Recognition is afforded Daniel and he is honored in the new Persian empire. Some of the other leaders plot against him and manipulate the king into executing Daniel. The king is highly reluctant, encouraging Daniel to trust his God. Daniel is miraculously delivered from a night in a lion pit. The king gives honor to God for preserving Daniel and has the evil leaders and their families thrown into the same lion pit where they are immediately crushed by the hungry lions, a sobering lesson on how the head of a family can influence, through ungodly living, in a very bad way, the rest of his family. 

We see, in looking at the big picture here, time winding down toward the end of the Old Testament era. God has protected His people, provided for them, delivered them and is about the bring them home to Jerusalem one more time. He has been faithful to them from the moment He promised Abraham he would be the father of nations. Meanwhile, Israel has been unfaithful at every step, turning away from God, time and time again. They are surely judged for their rebellion, but never truly abandoned. God's promises never change, are never abrogated. 

While we see great judgment and wrath in the Old Testament, we see an overarching story of grace, mercy, deliverance and restoration. We see a God who is faithful and true to His word, always working to refine His children and bring them to the home He has prepared for them. His character never changes. His action in the Old Testament, popularly and wrongly thought to be the testimony of an angry God, proves His great love for His people and His willingness to deliver them in spite of, never because of, their selves. 

It's a beautiful encouragement to us. We are the benefactors of the same patience, mercy and grace God shows to His chosen people in the Old Testament.

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