Daniel’s longest night

Daniel Chapter 6

Over the last eight years, Jillian and I have had many long nights with our three children.  There have been nights where the kids have caught a virus or an illness and we are up all night with either child.   These nights have come and go as most parents can attest, but there have been some nights that have truly tested our faith. One particular night is when Oliver was in the hospital when he was six weeks old and had a procedure to secure nutrition.  He had to have a specialized intravenous preparation to give him the essential nutrients for his body to heal.  The procedure that her had to undergo would place an intravenous line directly into his heart and then he would be able to get the medication.  While in the procedure room with him the medical staff informed me that the next hours will be critical because of the risk of his body not maintaining the proper temperature and the risk for infection. After the procedure was completed, we returned to our room.   In the middle of the night we were woken with alarms in the room that he had dropped in temperature.  The drop was so significant the team had to use extraordinary measures to stabilize his body temperature and vital signs.  This was the longest night that I can remember.

In this chapter of Daniel, Daniel is presented with a long night as well.  To the causal onlooker, life and death are weighed in the balance, but for Daniel this was another opportunity to show God’s love and grace. In the previous chapters, God has revealed many times before that the circumstances that we are present with are chances for God to do some amazing work: for both you and the other person.   At this point in the journey Daniel is approximately 80 years old.  He has seen the height of the Jewish authority; been exiled into a new land; made high officer in three different kingdoms; interrupted and conveyed the hardest information to ruthless kings.  Through all of these years and experiences Daniel has seen the glory of God and how these situations worked out for God’s Glory.

Daniel  2: 46

Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face and paid homage to Daniel, and commanded that an offering and incense be offered up to him. 47 The king answered and said to Daniel, “Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery.” 

 

Daniel 3: 28

28 Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside[f] the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.”

 

Daniel 4:1-3

King Nebuchadnezzar to all peoples, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied to you! It has seemed good to me to show the signs and wonders that the Most High God has done for me.

How great are his signs,
how mighty his wonders!
His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and his dominion endures from generation to generation.

At the beginning of the chapter, Daniel is reappointed to the highest position in the kingdom and is not admired by many except the new king Darius.  Darius makes proclamations about praying to other entities and deities, except for him.  This proclamation backfires on the relationship that Darius has with Daniel and Daniel is sentenced to the lions’ den.  This is a punishment that others have seen as ultimate condemnation for the acts against the king.  But this a final testament of the faith of Daniel, he was blessed by God to survive the punishment.

As we go through our journeys we will face many difficult and dark times.  Some we are able to navigate easily and others may be challenging, but we must always remember that when we have a relationship and have an unwavering faith in God, we will come out in the morning with renewed sense of self and bountiful blessings.

Two promises

Today’s Reading Jeremiah 31

Jeremiah is one of the big prophets that is critical to the history and wisdom of God in the Old Testaments.  Jeremiah is the author of the Book of Jeremiah and Lamentations.  He has an eyewitness account the fall of Jerusalem and conquest of the Babylonians.  But in these verses in Chapter 31, he reveals two promises that have been addressed previously: God will bring his people to him AND God will dwell in them.

Jeremiah 31: 31-34

31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

In this section, God reveals for a second time (first in Isaiah with the coming of Christ) that He will create a new covenant with Judah and Israel.  This is important because the children of Israel new something big is going to happen, but they are not sure when or how.  This is the covenant with Christ. This promise meant that some suffering and sacrifice would have to be made.  God reveals here that he understands the ultimate price is something that we, as humans, were unable to complete.  He has seen our inability to complete our promises and He being a merciful father will aid us in this promise.  After many times and attempts, God steps in and creates peace in the disorder that we have made.

The first promise is Salvation with Christ.  The second promise is the creation of the temple of God dwelling in each of us with the Holy Spirit.

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I willbe their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

This is the combination of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit working in tandem for His benefit for us. God is revealing the promise of not only will He save us from the hurt and destruction that we have subjected ourselves, but He will wipe away everything that is blocking our connection, then He will then reside within us.  He even states that there is no one that would be able to take credit for or against it because He will reveal Himself to everyone.  These are the promises that God has made.  Let us remember.  {Further reading Romans 8}

Postmortem

Today’s Reading : I Kings 17

It has happened again, God has intentionally brought this message and passage of Scriptures to me this week.  Over the last year, God has been reintroducing the same concepts at different venues or times.   Last week, our children had this verse presented to them with the main idea of “Give to God” and then as I am preparing for this writing my theme is “Postmortem”.  These themes are completely different, but their main composition is the same: Give to God in all circumstances and He will provide everything.

In this story, we are introduced to one of the most prolific and influential individuals in Judaism and Christianity outside of Jesus and Moses, Elijah.  In the beginning of the chapter, Elijah tells Ahab that because of the heinous ways that the king has been toward God and his people that there will be a famine and drought throughout the land.  Once Elijah makes this proclamation, God speaks to Elijah and he retreats to the wilderness for safety.    The wilderness that he is sent to is North of Jerusalem and close to his hometown.   While in the wilderness, God sends him food by ravens and he drinks water from the brook. After the brook runs dry, Elijah retreats farther North to Zarephath, which a seaside town.  In this town, he greets a widow who is preparing for her last meal with her son.  This is truly her last meal of life because the famine has been so brutal that there is no more wheat or grain that survived to make any additional flour.  This widow has a small amount of flour to make one last cake of bread.  Elijah asks her to make him a cake of bread before she makes herself a cake.  The widow agrees and then is blessed with oil and flour to outlast the famine.  During some time later, the widow’s son is ill and then dies.  The widow is furious at the lack of respect and audacity that the prophet would allow her son to die.  Elijah then takes the son and prays over him and he is returned to life.

In these 24 verses, there is so much packed in that address our everyday life.   First, we must know who we are and whom we are.  Elijah knew that he was God’s prophet and was not afraid of speaking truth into the situation.  Second, when God directs us, we must go (without question).  God told Elijah to go and Elijah went.  He was directed to go home, but not the place he knew. Elijah was directed to go to a sanctuary close to where he was familiar.  He was then provided with food from some unlikely sources: Ravens. These birds are not known to be kind and cuddly, but viscous and tricky.   Third, find the people that God provides for us and ask boldly.  Elijah asked the widow boldly for her last piece of bread [and water].  Fourth, Give to God first and then he will provide unimaginable things.  The widow (who was not Jewish, believed in a great God and obeyed) submitted to the request of Elijah and was blessed. Finally, don’t limit God’s blessings. The widow saw the miracle that God preformed with the flour and was still not fully convince that he would take care of her son.

The word Postmortem has many definitions: 1.) the examination of the body after death. 2.) The reexamination of the details after a particular event. The postmortem of this story can be seen three-fold: Mental, Emotional/Spiritual, Physical. There is one resurrection in the story, but three distinct deaths that happen throughout the story.

  • Mental:The widow was suffering from mental death.  When she is introduced we can see that she is depressed and full of anxiety.  She has lost her husband.  She has not been able to provide for her family, and now she and her son are preparing to die due to lack of food.  This famine is one of the most trying times that the region has been through.  There are other stories of this time that people has resorted to cannibalism to survive. She has resigned completely to her situation.  How many times have we been in situations that have completely left us destitute and we have lost all hope?   This is the space that this woman is full entrenched.
  • Emotional/ Spiritual: This widow has probably tried all the gods of Ahab and the other kings of the time and they have not given her any relief. Elijah turns up at the scene and she immediately recognized that he is a man of God.  She has been spiritually dead for quite some time and is now having a revival of the spirit after she has loss so much.  How many times have we continually lost special things or people in our lives and we have become despondent to everything? We become numb and apathetic?
  • Physical death:This is when the son of the widow dies while the prophet of God is in their house.  The widow is completely upset, frustrated, and mad that this has happened to her son.  She expected not to worry about anything while Elijah was there.  This physical death completely shuts down everything else.  She could survive these other deaths that have afflicted her, but this was the last piece that she finally submitted everything.

The story of the widow is our story: we will undergo so many deaths in our lives that we continue to push through.  We face mental deaths daily, spiritual deaths often, and physical deaths ultimately and we try to do this on our own.  God has shown us that through his son, Jesus, we are not alone and we do not have to face these things alone because he has already overcome death.  Let us remember that we have the victory after death because Jesus has conquered death