Today’s Bible Reading: Daniel 6:1-28; 2 Peter 3:1-18; Psalm 119:129-152; Proverbs 28:21-22
The book of Daniel is filled with many great stories and today we read one of the most famous. Babylon had been conquered by Persia and Daniel is now an administrator to the Persian king. Despite being an outsider (Daniel was an exiled Jew from Israel) who did not recognize the false gods of either Babylon or Persia, Daniel rose to high-ranking positions in both governments due to his abilities and ethical behavior (Daniel 6:3-4). Christians today often find ourselves working for people who do not know God. This is a great opportunity for us to demonstrate our faith by working hard as if for God, not for man (Colossians 3:23). No one should be able to rightfully accuse us of any wrong-doing.
Since Daniel’s co-workers could not find anything to accuse him of, they hatch a plot to get him to disobey the king (Daniel 6:5-7). Such is how jealousy works. People like Daniel – who focus on God, work hard, and don’t associate too closely with those who don’t – are often the target of others. I experienced this first-hand a few years ago when I worked for a manager who was foul-mouthed and quite lazy (he frequently didn’t come in until late and then left early). It was obvious to both of us that we were nothing alike and he subsequently used his power and position to spread false rumors about me. That’s how it goes sometimes.
Upon hearing about the edict from the king, Daniel immediately prays (Daniel 6:10) even though this went directly against Darius’ command. God does command His children to obey earthly authority figures. But this does not include orders that would cause someone to disobey Him or to become estranged from Him, as Darius’ order did. So Daniel was perfectly in the right for continuing to pray to God.
Christians today should obey their governments. We should pay our taxes (even if they are unreasonably high). We should pick up after our dogs. But when our government tells us we cannot pray on public land or in a school (or issues other similar laws) we do not need to obey. When there is a discrepancy between man’s law and God’s law God wins 100% of the time. I wonder how many of us would be willing to take the chance Daniel took and do something we know God wants us to do even though our government said it is illegal.
Despite his initial hesitation, Darius – out of obvious pressure – has Daniel thrown into the lion’s den (Daniel 6:16). I would imagine with the stone sealing the entrance to the den it must have been pitch black in there (Daniel 6:17). Daniel would not have been able to see the lion, not that seeing it would have made it any easier to escape. Daniel had to rely solely on God to protect him.
Just like He protected Shadrach, Mehsach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace, God protected Daniel from the lion. Upon being found unharmed Daniel informs Darius that he (Daniel) did not do Darius any harm (Daniel 6:23). Yes, Daniel disobeyed the king’s orders. But following God’s orders never brings harm. In fact, its quite possible that when caught Daniel was actually praying for Darius and his ill-conceived edict.
As a result of Daniel’s improbable survival, Darius is impressed with God (Daniel 6:25-27). This is the sixth time in the book of Daniel we’ve seen someone do the right thing in the face of undesirable consequences. When we stand firm in godly convictions and honor God even when it costs us, others will see the testimony and be impressed.
Many dismiss the idea that Jesus will return to earth. They based this on an ill-advised premise that if were going to happen it would have happened by now (2 Peter 3:4). But this is an illogical argument. Who is to say when something “should” happen? Jesus will return when He is ready to return and not a moment before.
God does not operate on our schedule. What we consider late, He considers to be on-time. What we consider to be soon, He considers to be too early. It is not possible to compare our reckoning of time with God’s (2 Peter 3:8). To a little child “soon” means in less than five minutes. Adults understand it differently. Its the same way with us and God.
In any event, God is never tardy. People should not view Jesus’ thus-far non-return as God being slow. They should understand that it is God being patient (2 Peter 3:9). God doesn’t want anyone to be separated from Him. He wants everyone to repent and to be saved (2 Peter 3:10, 15). As soon as Jesus returns that can no longer happen. So God is giving all of us sinners time – a lot of time – to do just that. This is not slowness. This is love.
Peter was familiar with Paul’s writings and knew that Paul wrote some very deep and, therefore, hard to understand truths (2 Peter 3:15-16). Scripture can be twisted by those who don’t take the time to understand it. Many people are going to miss out on heaven because they arrived at erroneous conclusions about God due to their lack of diligence in studying the Bible. God does not want us sitting in front of a television 7 hours a day (the average for an American). That is a waste of life. He wants us in His word, learning about Him. This brings life. I believe that is one reason why the Bible is not always simple to understand. If it were, we wouldn’t need to spend much time in it.
This concludes Peter’s two epistles. Notice that there was no mention of any of the tenets of the Catholic church. Nothing about the pope, papal succession, or infallibility. Nothing about purgatory or praying for the dead. Nothing about penance, confession, indulgences, sacraments, or transubstantiation, to mention just a few. This is very telling considering that Peter is officially recognized by the Catholic church as being their founder. Virtually all of what the Catholic church believes and practices is unbiblical.
God gives His children many promises in the Bible. One of them is that he will show mercy to all who love His name (Psalm 119:132). All means all. It doesn’t mean a few. It doesn’t come with an asterisk. It doesn’t exclude women, homosexuals, convicts, or anyone else who honestly and repentantly turns to God. God has enough grace and mercy to overflow all of our lives and He is just itching to pour it out on us.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.