02 May 2014

The Book of Daniel

Before I started memorizing the book of Daniel, I tended to think of all the sections separately, some unrelated miraculous stories put together to give context to a book full of amazing prophecies.

But now?  It seems like every time those words make the paths through my brain a little deeper, I notice a new connecting thread, a new significance in what I used to think were the smallest details, added only for interest's sake.  

Each time, I come away with a renewed awe for the depth and cohesiveness of the Word of God.

That's why for weeks I've had these threads running through my mind, wanting to share them here, but realizing there would be way too much to say for one post.

This month, then, you can expect some thoughts on Daniel, maybe once a week, maybe more often.  And just to whet your appetite?  I'll start with just a small detail that gets a passing notice in Daniel chapter one.

The book opens with the tiniest of battle descriptions:  Nebuchadnezzar comes against Jerusalem, wins the battle by gift of God, and takes treasures from the house of the true God and stores them in the house of a false god.

That's where they sit for years, perhaps decades, without mention.  But the holy vessels that belonged in the house and service of God were brought out for pagan worship instead.  

And you know what?  God doesn't stand for such foolishness, especially when the king who commanded it knew better than to strut his stuff in the face of the Almighty God (see Daniel's words to king Belshazzar at the end of Daniel chapter 5 if you want an example of a fearless and clear rebuke that simultaneously condemns the rebellious king and reminds him of God's matchless care for his very breath).

Belshazzar and his kingdom are conquered that night, but if we pay careful attention to the Bible, we still get to find out what happens to God's holy vessels.

In Ezra chapter 1, we learn that Cyrus king of Persia restores every vessel (5400 in number) to God's people, to be returned to their original place.  No more will they be housed with the vessels of pagan worship.  They once again occupy the glory of their God-given purpose.

If you're like me, though, sometimes you wonder why these objects--their number, their type, their history--get such detailed attention in God's Word.

Well, you know how the sanctuary and later the temple service were to be object lessons of Jesus' sacrifice for His lost world, and how Peter talks about Jesus being the living cornerstone of the spiritual temple, or the church?  You can read about that in 1 Peter 2.  

The other amazing thing in that same chapter is how we also get built into God's house, set apart for holy service to Him.

And if God can take the golden and silver vessels, preserving them not only through generations of service in His house, but also years and years of captivity in a pagan land, He can preserve us--you, me, anyone--and bring us back home to Himself even if and after we've been carried away captive in sin.

Maybe you're there right now, feeling bound in the depths of some dark place, surrounded by things you wish you'd never heard of.  Jesus, the Light of the world, can shine for you even there, lighting your path back home.  He can even work on hearts of people who don't truly know and serve him (like Cyrus) to help you along in your journey back to Him.

What's important now is that you simply accept His call.  Don't spend one moment longer in that darkness of life without Christ.  Now is your day of salvation, and God still has a work for you to do in His great house.

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