Portraits of Faithfulness
Throughout the book of Daniel, we see many amazing stories. These are all the “Sunday school stories“ that I grew up learning. There is Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace. Daniel in the lion's den. The writing on the wall. These are all stories that have gone beyond the church, and most people in American culture have heard them.
The temptation is to focus on those individual stories and lose the big picture. The book of Daniel is not a collection of miracle stories. It is a single story about an exile living a faithful life under God's direction.
Daniel was an outcast, exile, and outsider. From the very start, when they refuse to eat the food from the king's table, to the very end, when Daniel is praying even though it might cost him his life, Daniel and his friends, give us a portrait of what it looks like to be faithful to God in a culture that rejects the Lord and His ways.
This insight into Daniel is far more applicable to our day-to-day lives. I highly doubt that I will soon be cast into a fiery furnace or into a den of lions. I will, however, be challenged to remain faithful during stressful situations. I will be tempted to neglect prayer instead of substituting my own busyness. I will be tempted to bite my tongue instead of sharing God's good news. I will be tempted to blend in with all the other people and religions, instead of standing out as an exile and follower of Jesus.
Those are the Temptations that have plagued God’s people from the time of Moses through the apostles into today. Peter denied knowing Jesus so that he could fit in with the rest of the people watching the execution. Peter also blended in with the Judaizers instead of standing up for the gospel of grace - a story we read in the book of Galatians. Others in the Bible and throughout church history have dealt with similar temptations.
As I study, Daniel, I find myself praying for the wisdom and faithfulness that Daniel and his friends exhibit. I want the view of God that Daniel’s friends had when they told the king:
If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up. - Daniel 3:17-18
The second half of Daniel shifts from historical stories to apocalyptic visions. As we read about stories of mountains, toppling, statues, and beasts, coming out of the sea, let’s keep the same view in mind. This book is not a collection of amazing stories and fantastic visions. It’s a testament written to people in exile to help them remain faithful.
May God, through his word, help us to remain as committed to him as the heroes we read about in God’s word.
Upcoming Daily Audio Bible Readings
November 30 Daniel 7:1-28, 1 John 1:1-10, Psalm 119:153-176, Proverbs 28:23-24
December 1 Daniel 8:1-27, 1 John 2:1-17, Psalm 120:1-7, Proverbs 28:25-26
December 2 Daniel 9:1-11:1, 1 John 2:18-3:6, Psalm 121:1-8, Proverbs 28:27-28
December 3 Daniel 11:2-35, 1 John 3:7-24, Psalm 122:1-9, Proverbs 29:1
December 4 Daniel 11:36-12:13, 1 John 4:1-21, Psalm 123:1-4, Proverbs 29:2-4
December 5 Hosea 1:1-3:5, 1 John 5:1-21, Psalm 124:1-8, Proverbs 29:5-8
December 6 Hosea 4:1-5:15, 2 John 1:1-13, Psalm 125:1-5, Proverbs 29:9-11
December 7 Hosea 6:1-9:17, 3 John 1:1-14, Psalm 126:1-6, Proverbs 29:12-14