Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Daily Bread for Sep 15, Dan 1-3

Today's readings are Dan 1-3

Daniel was exiled to Babylon in 605 BC. This tells us that Daniel was one of those taken captive when Babylon invaded Judah. He became influential in Nebuchadnezzar's reign. When Cyrus of Persia conquered Babylon in 539, Daniel continued to rise in influence under the new regime.

Here’s where Daniel fits in with the Old Testament prophets.

The first six chapters of Daniel are historic, detailing the repeated divine deliverance of Daniel and his friends for their uncompromising devotion to God. The overall theme of Daniel, like many of the other prophets, is the absolute sovereign authority and power of God over all nations, kings and people.

Daniel and his three friends honor God in what they will eat, refusing to eat Nebuchadnezzar's meat because it is, for a Jew, tainted (Dan 1). Dan 1:12-16 is not a condemnation of those who eat meat, that matter was resolved in Acts 10:10-16. What is being displayed here in Daniel is that their faithful obedience to God causes them to thrive and is rewarded with respect among the Gentiles.

In Dan 2, Daniel is given supernatural wisdom to interpret Nebuchadnezzar's dream. Notice, Daniel's obedience to God leads to blessing. He rises in influence and stature, even though the interpretation reveals the fall of Babylon (the golden head, Dan 2:32) and the ultimate victory of God (the rock that breaks the pieces of iron, Dan 2:45).

Dan 3  relates a familiar tale. Daniel's three friends get into trouble when they refuse to bow down to the idol Nebuchadnezzar fashions of himself. They are thrown into a blazing hot furnace but suffer no harm. Notice, contrary to what many believe, Daniel was not thrown in, just his three friends. Once again, we see an amazing demonstration of the biblical truth that obedience to God leads to blessing and protection.

The king sees another in the furnace, accompanying the three (Dan 3:25). Much has been made of who this fourth person may be. The text doesn't really tell us. Many think this is a "Christophany," a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus. Regardless of whether it is Jesus or an angelic being, it represents God's physical presence among His people, showing us that God's hand of protection and preservation is on all those who are faithful. Significantly, rather than delivering the three friends out of the fire, the heavenly figure joins them in the flames, protecting them and preserving them.

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