Old Testament: Daniel 2:24-3:30
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Daniel 2:24-3:30 My Shack, Your Shack and A Bungalow
Daniel went home and prayed with his friends. Then Daniel was brought before the king. The king asked if he could indeed tell him his dream and what it meant. Daniel gave the glory to God saying that he in and of himself could not interpret the dream but that God could. Then he told the king the dream:
1) A beautiful statue of a man with a gold head, silver arms and legs, brass belly and thighs, iron legs and feet that were clay mixed with iron
2) A Rock came off the mountain and shattered the feet causing the rest of the statue to fall to bits and be blown away
3) The Rock grew up into a mountain itself
Here is the interpretation:
1) The king was represented by the golden head, he was the most powerful of all the kingdoms represented
2) His kingdom would be replaced by a lesser one, the one represented by silver arms and legs
3) A third kingdom would arise represented by the brass belly and thighs
4) After the third kingdom, a fourth would arise represented by the iron legs and feet
5) The last human kingdom would be the one represented by feet of clay mixed with iron. The mixture of iron and clay show its weakness and it would eventually separate into lesser kingdoms.
6) Finally, God Himself, represented by the Rock, would set up His Own everlasting kingdom
After hearing all this, Nebuchadnezzar bowed down and worshipped Daniel and his friends. They were given gifts and appointed as the king’s assistants.
Chapter 3 The prophecy in his dream that Daniel interpreted apparently went to Nebuchadnezzar’s head. He built a statute of himself that was about 90 feet tall and 9 feet wide (v. 1, LB). Just like the portion of the stature in his dream that represented him and his kingdom, he made it of gold. He made everyone fall down and worship it. Anyone who didn’t worship the statue was to be thrown in a “blazing” furnace (v. 6).
Of course, Daniel’s boys refused to bow down. Their names were Shadrach, Meshach and Abed- nego (v.12). I have trouble not calling them My Shack, Your Shack and A Bungalow. (You will have trouble not calling them that after reading this, too.) The king was hopping mad (v. 13). The boys told the king that they weren’t going to bow down to the statue and that their God would rescue them from the furnace. Even if He didn’t rescue them, they weren’t going to bow down (vv. 17-18).
Nebuchadnezzar was raging angry at this point. He had the furnace stoked to seven times its normal heat and had the boys thrown in. The “warriors” who threw the boys into the fire were themselves consumed by the blaze.
Neb got as close as he could to see what was going on in the furnace. He saw a fourth man walking around with the boys Who looked like a “son of the gods” (v. 25). Whom do you think that was? I think it was the pre-incarnate Christ in the Old Testament (technically called a “theophany or Christophany).
Anyway, the boys came out of the furnace unharmed without even being flushed or their clothes being singed. Nebuchadnezzar made a degree that anyone who tried to harm S, M and A would have their arms and legs torn off and their houses destroyed (v. 29). He honored them with prosperity (v. 30).
New Testament: 1 Peter 4:7-5:14
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1 Peter 4:7-5:14 How To Handle Trials
Peter believed he was living in the end times as did Paul (v. 7, cf. 1 Cor. 7:29; Rom. 13:12). John did, too (cf. 1 John 2:18). In fact, they were. The end times began a couple millennia ago (cf. 1 Cor. 7:29; Rom. 13:12). Peter wanted unity in the body. If they used love and hospitality to cover each other’s sins, they would be able to get along (vv. 8 -9). The proper use of the gifts would also increase the unity of the body (v. 10). Gifts of speaking or serving were to be employed to the glory of God (v. 11).
We are in the middle of a spiritual war (cf. Eph. 6:10-17). When we get caught in the crossfire we shouldn’t be surprised (v. 12). It is to be expected that we would suffer for the cause of Christ (v. 14). To the degree that we suffer, we will also be rewarded and have joy when He returns (cf. 1 Cor. 10-15, Jude 24). In contrast, it would be tragic if anyone suffers for their own heinous sin (v. 15). Suffering for Christ leads to the glorifying of Christ (v. 16). And we shouldn’t think that God would not chastise us for our sin but those who do not believe will receive the worse punishment (v. 17). Believers grow in holiness (present tense of “saved” is an indication of “sanctification” or growing in holiness) through difficulties (v. 18) but the lost are just . . . lost when they suffer (v. 18, cf. 2 Cor. 7:10). Believers may suffer as part of God’s will for them. When that happens we need to trust Him that He knows what is right for us (v. 19).
1 Peter 5:1-5:14 Sheep And Lions
Peter was an example to the congregation of one who suffered for the Lord (cf. Acts 5:40). He was following the example of His Lord. But he knew he would receive his reward as Christ received His (v.1, cf. Heb. 12:2-3). Peter exhorted the leadership to serve the Lord out of pure motives and not for anything they could get out of it on earth (v. 2). They were not to be overbearing but as a model to those they served (v. 3). When the Chief Shepherd, the ultimate leader, returns then everyone will receive their reward (v. 4). Younger men should respect and learn from the older men in the body (v. 5a). Everyone should submit to everyone else in humility (v. 5b, cf. Eph. 5:21). God doesn’t like proud people (Peter quotes Prov. 3:34).
If we humble ourselves, God will exalt us in His time (v. 6). We should rely on him whenever we’re worried, knowing that He cares about us (v. 7). Back to the spiritual warfare theme, Peter warns us that the devil wants to tear us apart like a lion sinking its teeth into us (v. 8, cf. Job 1:7). Peter would know how that would work. Jesus had warned him that Lucifer wanted to sift him like wheat (cf. Luke 22:31). Notice that Satan is “like” a lion. He is a counterfeit. Fortunately, the actual lion of the tribe of Judah takes a stand to protect us (cf. Rev. 5:5).
The way to handle Satan is to resist him and take a stand by holding firm to our faith (v. 9a, the word for “resist” is related in the Greek to the word for “stand” in Eph. 6: 11, 13-14). We should take heart, knowing that all Christians around the world are similarly being attacked (v. 9b). As Warren Wiersbe likes to remind us, ” . . . when His people are in the furnace, the Creator keeps His eye on the clock and His hand on the thermostat. He knows how long and how much, and He is always “in control.” Peter says the same thing in verse 10. After we have suffered for a while, God will be done maturing us and will call us to glory (v. 10). He is in control. That thought causes Peter to praise Him (v. 11).
Peter closes by naming his secretary, Silvans (v. 12). Peter, as Paul, centers all he says in grace and exhorts everyone to stay in God’s grace (v. 12b). He closes with other greetings including from Mark and asks everyone to greet everyone else with a kiss (v. 14). That was cultural. Don’t do it now.
He also is concerned about peace in all the fellowships, as was Paul. He closes as he began by wishing them peace (v. 14, cf. 1 Pet. 1:2).