This reading is Daniel 2.
Nebuchadnezzar was onto something when he challenged the psychics to not only interpret his dream but to first tell him what his dream was! This should be a standard challenge to all of the world’s psychics.
Daniel exhibited very strong faith in the face of the death threats from this obviously temperamental king. Daniel spoke to the commander of the king’s guard “with wisdom and with tact” and trusted that God would provide. Then he was quick to give credit to God for the visions he received. This is a beautiful passage:
Daniel 2:19-23 During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven and said: “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him. I thank and praise you, O God of my fathers: You have given me wisdom and power, you have made known to me what we asked of you, you have made known to us the dream of the king.”
Each part of the statue in the dream had special meaning. Trivia fact: The message about the statue is where the saying “feet of clay” originated.
- The head of gold represented Nebuchadnezzar.
- The silver part represented the Medo-Persian empire that conquered Babylon in 539 B.C.
- The bronze parts were Greece and Macedonia under Alexander the Great, who conquered the Medo-Persians around 334-330 B.C.
- The iron part is the Roman Empire, which conquered the Greeks in 63 B.C.
- The iron and clay represent the break up of the Roman Empire.
Gotta love my Life Application Study Bible footnotes! They are invaluable for information like this. More prophecies on these empires will occur later in Daniel. It is stunning how the Bible writes history hundreds of years in advance.
The next reading is Daniel 3.
There is a lot of smoke around the Embryonic Stem Cell Research (ESCR) issue. Here are some facts that are downplayed or overlooked altogether.
President Bush didn’t ban ESCR completely. He just vetoed the use of Federal Funds for it (read: your tax dollars). If you want to donate your money for ESCR, go ahead! Just send the check to me and I’ll ensure it gets to the right place.
Therapeutic uses of adult stem cells have been found and are in use. See the list here.
Therapeutic uses of embryonic stem cells have not been proven and are not in use. Currently, at least, they tend to cause tumors.
Yes, Nancy Reagan is for ESCR, but until now who really cared what she thought? Ronald Reagan was the great president, not her. And he was staunchly pro-life!
These are human embryos. A human being dies when you kill them. Check out the Snowflake Kids that President Bush had at the press conference. They were from adopted embryos.
There are serious ramifications to in vitro fertilization. It is costly and often unsuccessful, for starters. Then there is the moral dilemma of what to do with the extra embryos.
Note that even pro-abortion “parents” of embryos are not cavalier about destroying them. They get the fact that these are human beings.
Embryonic Stem Cell Research is just the beginning. What many scientists will want next is cloning, because they’ll need identical or near-identical stem cells at some point. They don’t have the guts to say “cloning,” so you have to read carefully.
Yes, there are over 400,000 frozen embryos out there – but there are plans to use most of them. And the reasoning behind the “they may get thrown out later so let’s kill them now” view is suspect.
I’m not thrilled with President Bush’s positions on illegal immigration and a couple other areas, but he has done a fantastic job for the pro-life cause.
I’m a lifelong Pittsburgh Steelers fan (the first football game I ever watched was the 1972 “Immaculate Reception” game), but I liked this quote from Tom Landry, former head coach of the Dallas Cowboys (and former arch-rivals of the Steelers).
To live life to the fullest and truly enjoy it, we need to understand and abide by the rules God spells out in the Bible. God isn’t out to spoil our fun; He knows that life without limits results in anarchy and misery. It’s only when we have absolute limits that we can be truly free to enjoy the best life has to offer.
This reading is Daniel 1.
The book begins in roughly 605 B.C. when the army of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon took over Jerusalem. God had warned Israel through his prophets that He would give them into the hands of their enemies if they did not repent, but they didn’t obey. When the Babylonians took over a country it was a common practice to take the best and brightest people back to Babylon. Daniel was roughly 16 at the time, and he was one of those chosen.
Daniel 1:6-7 Among these were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.
Daniel’s character immediately shines through when in v. 8 he “resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine . . .” He and his friends took a huge risk by doing this, but God provided for them and the King found them to be “ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in the whole kingdom.” God blessed their resolve throughout their time in Babylon. This reminds me of the story of Joseph in Genesis, where God helps take him from being a prisoner to eventually running the country of Egypt.
Daniel 1:17-18 To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds. At the end of the time set by the king to bring them in, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar.
Daniel and his friends weren’t belligerent with the officials. They acclimated to the culture where it didn’t violate God’s laws.
Thought for the day: The Bible teaches that Christians are aliens and strangers in this world. Do we stand out like Daniel and his friends, or do we completely blend into the foreign culture of this world?
The next reading is Daniel 2.
Giving can be fun and rewarding, but we need to use wisdom in making giving decisions.
2 Corinthians 9:6-7 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
Ministry Watch is an organization that collects lots of information about hundreds of charities. They also have “Donor alerts” to warn people of problematic ministries, such as Benny Hinn’s (shocking!). Here are some of the areas they cover:
- Efficiency ratings
- Comments that supporters and critics make
- Financial statements
They seem to be very careful, accurate and unbiased. This organization can help you be a good steward with all God has blessed you with.
War is to be avoided, but not at all costs. As some have said, “Except for ending slavery, Fascism, Nazism and Communism and for providing religious and political freedom, war has never solved anything.”
Some have labeled the Israeli response to Hizbollah attacks as a “disproportionate response.” But consider the following:
- Muslims leaders around the world have called for the eradication of Israel and all Jews. They have done this in writing and speeches. The leader of Iran said it publicly. They are quite serious about it. There does not appear to be any reasoning with them.
- Muslims outnumber Jews 100 to 1 in that region. These leaders would gladly sacrifice an equivalent number of their own to eliminate all Jews.
If you were personally outnumbered 100 to 1 by a group working to wipe you off the planet, I think a disproportionate response would be in order.
God is dead.
Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)
Nietzsche is dead.
Hat tip: Chappel Temple, my pastor at Lakewood United Methodist Church