Daniel 4:1-37 ~ 2 Peter 1:1-21 ~ Psalm 119:97-112 ~ Proverbs 28:17-18
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Old Testament - Daniel chapter 4 is an incredible chapter today! There is a lot going on in this one. We open up this chapter with King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon giving praise to God as verses 2 & 3 tell us: "I want you all to know about the miraculous signs and wonders the Most High God has performed for me. How great are his signs, how powerful his wonders! His kingdom will last forever, his rule through all generations." Does this sound like the Nebuchadnezzar we've come to know? We'll, we must read on as he tells us how he got to the point of praising God like this...
Nebuchadnezzar's dream of the tree in this chapter is relatively straightforward, as is the interpretation that Daniel gives. One intriguing verse to me was verse 27 where Daniel pleads with Nebuchadnezzar to repent to avoid what will happen per the dream - "O King Nebuchadnezzar, please listen to me. Stop sinning and do what is right. Break from your wicked past by being merciful to the poor. Perhaps then you will continue to prosper." Do you think Nebuchadnezzar listened to Daniel? What if Daniel was telling us to do this same thing this very day? Would we listen? Will we stop sinning and do what is right? Will we be merciful to the poor? Below is a portrait by Guy Rowe of Nebuchadnezzar's dream of the tree:
We see the sin of pride bring down Nebuchadnezzar in verse 30 as follows - "Just look at this great city of Babylon! I, by my own mighty power, have built this beautiful city as my royal residence and as an expression of my royal splendor." Are their times in our life where we boast of what we have "done" or "created" by our "own mighty power"? Good idea.... ?
In this chapter today Nebuchadnezzar becomes Gollum from the Lord of the Rings! :) Yes, I did hear someone teach on this chapter recently and he placed up on screen a picture of Gollum from Lord of the Rings and suggested this is what happened to Nebuchadnezzar essentially in verse 33 - "That very same hour the prophecy was fulfilled, and Nebuchadnezzar was driven from human society. He ate grass like a cow, and he was drenched with the dew of heaven. He lived this way until his hair was as long as eagles' feathers and his nails were like birds' claws." Can you see how sin can drive us to basic animal instincts? Like Gollum? Do you see how godly wisdom can save us from becoming like animals? Like Gollum? Pride seems to be a very tempting sin for all of us - and not a good one to pursue - as Nebuchadnezzar tells us himself in verse 37 -"Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and glorify and honor the King of heaven. All his acts are just and true, and he is able to humble those who are proud." Do you believe this to be true? Below is an image of Gollum... and perhaps Nebuchadnezzar for seven years?
Verse 36 also stands out to me in this chapter only because it reminds me of the end of the book of Job - "When my sanity returned to me, so did my honor and glory and kingdom. My advisers and officers sought me out, and I was reestablished as head of my kingdom, with even greater honor than before." A reminder that God gives and takes away - and can give again...
New Testament - Today we start the book of Second Peter! This is another great letter from Peter to the early Christian church written in approximately 65 to 68 A.D., just before Peter was martyred during the reign of the Roman emperor Nero. 1 Peter was more of a letter of encouragement to early Christians who were facing suffering, whereas 2 Peter is written to dispel false teachings within early Christianity. Below is a fresco by Michelangelo of Peter being crucified, in the Sistine Chapel in Rome:
~ Second Peter ~
Author: Peter the apostle
Place: Uncertain, perhaps Rome
Date: A.D. 67
Content: This letter was written by Peter shortly before his death and deals with the problems that the church would face after his departure. He encourages the believers to continue in their spiritual growth, realizing the truth of the Christian gospel. It does not consist of fable but fact. He warns them of false teachers who would destroy the truth by exalting their own ideas over those of the church. Finally, he points out that Christ will return some day to destroy the old order of this world; as a result, we ought not to become too attached to it.
Theme: Second Peter is a call to steadfastness in the midst of numerous pressures to drift from the truth. The world is seeking to undo the work of God, but we must resist all such pressure by living godly lives, believing the truth, enduring persecution, trusting God, and looking for Christ’s return. (Above commentary is from Tyndale Publishers “The One Year Bible Companion” p. 33) A great overview of Second Peter and the other “Non-Pauline Epistles” by J. Hampton Keathley is at this link. (Scroll down just below his commentary on First Peter to get to his commentary on Second Peter.) Below is a painting of Peter by William Holman Hunt -
2 Peter 1 verse 3 brings up a couple of good questions we should ask ourselves - "As we know Jesus better, his divine power gives us everything we need for living a godly life." Do you want to know Jesus better? How will you do this? (hint - reading the Bible daily is one great way...) How else? Do you want to live a godly life? What does a godly life look like? Do you believe Jesus' divine power gives you everything you need to live a godly life?
Verse 19 makes a One Year Bible Blogger happy :) - "Because of that, we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. Pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a light shining in a dark place--until the day Christ appears and his brilliant light shines in your hearts." I think one of the beautiful things about the One Year Bible is going through both the Old Testament and New Testament each day. We learn from the prophets and can play close attention to what they wrote - for as Peter says, their words are like a light shining in the dark! Below is a stained glass image of the prophet Elijah (Elias is Greek for Elijah) -
Psalms - Psalm 119 verse 105 is one of my favorite verses in the Bible! "Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path." Do you believe God's Word, the Bible, is a lamp for your feet? A light for your path? To help put this in perspective - without God's Word, the Bible, is it possible that we would have no lamp for our feet? No light for our paths? That we'd essentially be groping in the darkness without God's Word, the Bible?
Verse 111 is incredible: "Your decrees are my treasure; they are truly my heart's delight." What is your treasure? Where is your treasure? Is God's Word, the Bible, truly your heart's delight?
Proverbs - Proverbs 28:17 today tells us - "A murderer's tormented conscience will drive him into the grave. Don't protect him!" There is a very real example of this Proverb with Cain in Genesis chapter 4, where Cain became restless for the remainder of his days after murdering his brother Abel.... In Genesis 4:14 Cain himself tells us - "I will be a restless wanderer on the earth." This is one of the saddest moments in the Bible for me. It was actually quite heartbreaking for me to google search images of Cain and Abel to post up something relevant below. I did find this anonymous artwork of Cain below, which I think captures the horrific nature of murder in a small way -
YouTube - Today's readings in Daniel reminds me of Chris Sligh's song "Empty Me:"
Please join us in memorizing and meditating on a verse of Scripture this week: "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." First Peter 5:8 (NIV)
Comments from you - What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!