Daniel 4

This reading is Daniel 4.

King Nebuchadnezzar praises God in the beginning of the chapter, but as it unfolds it is clear that he did not worship and trust in him as the one true God. There is a distinction between profession (saying you believe) and possession (truly believing).

One would think that Daniel would consider the king to be an enemy, but Daniel was clearly upset at the interpretation of the dream and what it meant for the king.

The king was the most important man on the planet, but he held no power compared to God. Everyone should keep this passage in mind when criticizing God or acting as if the universe would run better if we were in charge:

Daniel 4:34-35 . . .At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done?”

Kings would often practice “Russian history,” which means to modify historical records to leave out the embarrassing parts. Notably, the Bible does not do this. Even the most revered figures such as King David have many embarrassing failures documented. Still, one can infer from Babylonian historical records that for a period of time Nebuchadnezzar did not rule.

The next reading is Daniel 5.

Quote of the day

How strong can evolution theory be when even its supporters generally avoid debate and prefer to silence its critics by using the machinery of government and other gatekeepers? How ironic that the theory of evolution itself only survives because of artificial protection by government and academia from competition with other theories of origins!Mark Ramsey
Texans for Better Science Education Foundation
www.strengthsandweaknesses.org

Anti-Semitism and “Who killed Jesus?”

This is a rerun from 2006.  Long time readers: Try to look surprised.

cross3.jpgIn light of Mel Gibson’s alcohol-fueled anti-semitic comments as well as an article in the Houston Chronical religion section that referred to stupid things Christians sometimes say to Jewish people, I thought it would be worth posting this from my Christian FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) page.

Q. What does the Bible teach about how Christians should act towards Jewish people? There has been so much hostility towards them over the centuries.

A. Many Christians are very kind to Jewish people and are Israel’s staunchest defenders. However, throughout history, some unthinking Christians (or at least people who have called themselves Christians) have blamed the Jewish people for killing Jesus. If anyone blames “the Jews” for killing Jesus or is unkind to Jewish people, they should consider the following:

  • Jesus was Jewish.
  • The apostles were Jewish.
  • Nearly every author of the Bible was Jewish.
  • The Israelites were chosen by God to be His people, and they received the first covenant. God still feels fondly towards them.
  • Only some Jewish people wanted Jesus killed. Blaming all Jewish people for Jesus’ death is as illogical as blaming all males, since only males (Jewish and Roman) are recorded as having been involved with his death.
  • The Apostle Paul cared so much for the Jews that he would have given up his own salvation if it meant that more Jews would follow Christ.
  • The New Testament clearly states that Jesus came first for the Jews, then for the gentiles.
  • Jesus was the Messiah predicted by over 100 prophecies in the Old Testament.
  • Jesus would not condone hurting others in His name.
  • Since Jesus died for our sins, we all killed Jesus as surely as we put the nails in His hands and feet. If we weren’t sinners, He wouldn’t have had to die in our place.
  • Would they like to be held accountable for any acts their ancestors committed?
  • Would they prefer that Jesus hadn’t died for their sins? Speaking for myself, I would be in big trouble if Jesus hadn’t taken my punishment and bridged the gap between God the Father and me.
  • Jesus forgave his killers, saying as He was dying, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
  • Most importantly, Jesus let himself be killed. John 10:17-18 “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life, only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. “
  • If you can think of anything to add to the list, leave a comment.

    P.S. Things we can learn from Mel:

    1) Alcohol can cause serious problems.

    2) One stupid act can undo a lot of good work.

    3) Think first, then speak (or type).

    Daniel 3

    This reading is Daniel 3.

    Near the end of chapter two, King Nebuchadnezzar said to Daniel, “Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery.” We don’t know how much time elapsed between chapters two and three, but Nebuchadnezzar obviously had a change of heart somewhere in between. He apparently liked the statue concept and decided that his should be gold from head to toe.

    Shardrach, Meshach and Abednego refuse to bow down before the statue and this enrages the king (We’re not sure where Daniel was . . . presumably out of town, as it is hard to imagine him bowing to the statue). They make a stunning witness to the king in verses 16-18:

    “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

    What faith! They could have come up with many excuses to worship the statue, but they held firm. Are we bold enough not to worship the world’s idols, especially when it costs us money, prestige or safety? Think of how our society worships gold in the metaphorical sense – money, possessions and status. I don’t think we can stand up to such pressures with our human wills, but we can pray for the Holy Spirit to strengthen us for these challenges.

    Who was the fourth person in the furnace? It could have been an appearance of the pre-incarnate Christ or perhaps and an angel.

    The next reading is Daniel 4.

    Getting added to “do not call” lists . . .

    I think I’m on the “do not call” list for a few cults/religions (mainly the types that come to your door). It isn’t because I’m not friendly to them. On the contrary, I figure if someone with a false religion comes to my door and wants to talk about God, then how much easier does evangelism get? I invite them in or make an appointment to visit with them at a more convenient time. I just sit back and listen and ask questions to clarify my understanding. Then I have the opportunity to point out what I see as flaws in their reasoning and to share the real Gospel. No one has dropped to their knees and converted, but I do think they were given something to think about. I pray that seeds are planted and that the Holy Spirit will guide them to the Truth.

    Perhaps I’m being paranoid, but it seems that we are skipped over when the groups make future treks through the neighborhood.

    If you travel, always take your Bible. I was going through LAX after a Far East trip once and must have looked exhausted. A Hare Krishna made a bee line for me with some books to read. I pulled out my Bible and told her she should read my book first. She laughed and said, “But your book is much bigger.” I figured she would convert or leave. She left.

    The Christian Research Institute has some good, brief outlines of major religions and cults that can be useful when talking to people of other faiths. It helps you understand where they are coming from and where they will try to mislead you. Their presentations often have the veneer of orthodox Christianity, but when you peel back the layers they are talking about a different God, a different Jesus and a different Bible.

    I’ll be doing a lesson on sharing the Gospel with people of different faiths for an upcoming CareNet Pregnancy Center volunteer in-service and also for my church’s youth group. I may do a series on this blog as well.

    Am I growing in my faith?

    Some penetrating questions from James MacDonald to help assess if your relationship with God is growing:

    • Does my life give evidence of a person truly redeemed by the Son of God?
    • Does my faith endure in hard times as well as good times?
    • Does my life reflect a growing pattern of righteousness?
    • Do I have an increasing hunger for God’s Word and a passion for His kingdom?
    • Is my love increasing for God and His people?

    We look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.