May My Tongue Sing of Your Word, For All Your Commands Are Righteous

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DANIEL 7:1-28 | 1 JOHN 1:1-10 | PSALM 119:153-176 | PROVERBS 28:23-24

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We continue with Daniel’s story, but backtrack a little as far as the timeline goes.  Daniel has a dream, but this is during Belshazzar’s time.  And what a dream it is! 

But dreams, as we see from Daniel’s account aren’t always so pleasant.  Sometimes, they’re downright terrifying such as is the case here, and to say that Daniel was “disturbed” from having seen such a dream would most definitely be an understatement. 

But a dream is a revelation sometimes.  It is the ethereal evidence of things to come; it is a forewarning, at times.

Daniel’s dreams were prophecies that were to be fulfilled into the future.  This wasn’t just a fantastical figment of his imagination; it was a divine revelation that is to come to pass in what we understand to be world history.  A close reading of this particular chapter of Daniel corresponds greatly to the prophecies to be found in the book of Revelations concerning the end-times.

Turning now to our reading of our New Testament passage, we enter the first letter authored by John, one of Jesus’ disciples, to the scattered early churches in Asia Minor. 

John’s account of having witnessed Jesus in the flesh couldn’t be more forceful.  John says:

1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We write this to make our joy complete.

This was the Word made into flesh, and that flesh appeared before man, and breathed and walked with him for a season.  God incarnate.  For you.  And for me.

John continues to expound upon this great concept of God dwelling among man in the person of Jesus Christ, and speaks to the difference between light and darkness.  He says: 

5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

Next, he writes plainly about the direct correlation between sin and the concept of forgiveness.  First, he establishes that sin is all-encompassing, and we need to recognize this truth.  Once there is recognition of this fact, we may then proceed to confess our sin and receive instant forgiveness.  Earning our way to forgiveness is not possible, by the way, no matter how sincere one’s efforts might be.  

It is as simple as A-B-C.  Accept, Believe, Confess!  And the result is forgiveness.  Could it be any simpler?  The answer, my friend, is no!  So, let us not complicate, or even try to improve upon what God has prepared and presented to us in so clear and simple a way. 

John says this: 8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

Turning next to our reading of the Psalms, we continue with the long acrostic poem in Psalm 119, and find David’s sense of perseverance and devotion to be truly inspiring.  In simplicity, David’s cry for help is one that we are all capable of echoing:

153 Look on my suffering and deliver me,
   for I have not forgotten your law.
154 Defend my cause and redeem me;
   preserve my life according to your promise.

May it be that like David, we might also lift our voices in praise like this:

165 Great peace have those who love your law,
   and nothing can make them stumble.
166 I wait for your salvation, LORD,
   and I follow your commands.
167 I obey your statutes,
   for I love them greatly.
168 I obey your precepts and your statutes,
   for all my ways are known to you.

And these set of verses in the section titled Taw (one of the letters in the Hebrew alphabet) are so poignant in their sincerity, that I reproduce the section in its entirety.  May it be that we may make this our daily prayer:

169 May my cry come before you, LORD;
   give me understanding according to your word.
170 May my supplication come before you;
   deliver me according to your promise.
171 May my lips overflow with praise,
   for you teach me your decrees.
172 May my tongue sing of your word,
   for all your commands are righteous.
173 May your hand be ready to help me,
   for I have chosen your precepts.
174 I long for your salvation, LORD,
   and your law gives me delight.
175 Let me live that I may praise you,
   and may your laws sustain me.
176 I have strayed like a lost sheep.
   Seek your servant,
   for I have not forgotten your commands.

David’s yearning to be reunited with his God is one that is a timeless, universal condition. 

Like Augustine of Hippo says many hundreds of years later, “Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee”.

Finally, a couple of verses from the book of Proverbs, in which Solomon, wise king of Israel, offers food for thought:

23 Whoever rebukes a person will in the end gain favor
   rather than one who has a flattering tongue.

24 Whoever robs their father or mother
   and says, “It’s not wrong,”
   is partner to one who destroys.

May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.  Amen.

For He Is A Living God, And He Endures Forever

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DANIEL 6:1-28 | 2 PETER 3:1-18 | PSALM 119:129-152 | PROVERBS 28:21-22

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Much time has passed since Daniel interpreted the writing on the wall for King Belshazzar, the last king of Babylon. 

Daniel must have been no more than a teenager when he had been brought into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar, and had interpreted dreams for him as well. Following that, Daniel had gone on to read the ominous writing on the wall for Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson, Belshazzar, and true to his deciphering of the mystery writing on the wall, Belshazzar is replaced by Darius, the Mede. 

Babylon is now under the rule of the Medes and the Persians, and Daniel who must be well into his middle-age is one of the senior-most administrators in the land.

And we see today, Daniel’s faith and confidence in his God is such an awesome thing! 

Owing to the decree that was passed by the king — at the behest of the king’s men — it turns out that Daniel’s life is suddenly in jeopardy in the most literal sense of that word.  Thrown into a den of lions for not observing the decree to worship the king alone and none other, Daniel willingly succumbs to the punishment that awaits him.

But the King cannot sleep that night because Daniel is dear to him, and yet, the king has to honor his own decree and follow through with the consequence of disobedience by allowing Daniel to be thrown into the lion’s den.  And yet, despite his great remorse and fear for Daniel’s life, the king still has confidence in Daniel’s God to save him.  He calls out Daniel’s name the very first thing the next morning knowing deep down in his heart that Daniel would be alive!

This is what the text says:19 At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. 20 When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?”

Needless to say, Daniel was not only alive, he was untouched by the lions!  Yet another amazing miracle along the likes of his three friends walking through the fire unharmed.

And in this way, Daniel proves to the great Darius that his God is a God that delivers.  Darius, in turn, issues a decree that overturns the previous one. 

This is what he says:  26 “I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel.

   “For he is the living God
   and he endures forever;
his kingdom will not be destroyed,
   his dominion will never end.
27 He rescues and he saves;
   he performs signs and wonders
   in the heavens and on the earth.
He has rescued Daniel
   from the power of the lions.”

Turning next to our reading in the second book of Peter, we find Peter expounding upon the faithfulness of God’s promises.  Evidently, there must have been talk about the second coming of the Lord, as promised by Jesus after his resurrection, and before his ascension.  There must also have been unbelievers of this promise, and so Peter is urging his readers to not stop believing. 

He says: 8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Next, we find that Peter’s exhortation to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” is one that is a timeless one, and one that we must all take to heart — every single day.

Our reading in the Psalms, brings us to a beautiful psalm of 119 which is a long acrostic poem, in which David, the psalmist, is plaintively crying out to the Lord with the full confidence that his prayer will be answered.  He says:

132 Turn to me and have mercy on me,
   as you always do to those who love your name.
133 Direct my footsteps according to your word;
   let no sin rule over me.
134 Redeem me from human oppression,
   that I may obey your precepts.
135 Make your face shine on your servant
   and teach me your decrees.

In his most inimitable style, David claims the promise of God’s love.  This is not an impersonal God sitting on a throne; this is a God as close as a brother.  This is a God who will do for you because he has told you he loves you!  May it be that like David, we also say:

149 Hear my voice in accordance with your love;
   preserve my life, LORD, according to your laws.

Finally, a couple of verses from the book of Proverbs in which Solomon, the wise king of Israel, is cautioning against partiality, and predicting the future of the tightfisted:

21 To show partiality is not good—
   yet a person will do wrong for a piece of bread.

22 The stingy are eager to get rich
   and are unaware that poverty awaits them.

May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.  Amen.