Monday, November 29, 2010

November 29

OT: Daniel 6:1-28

Today, we read the famous story of Daniel and the lions' den. I have heard this story a million times, but a few things still stood out to me as I read it for the million and first time. One was the statement made by the satraps and administrators regarding Daniel's conduct: "We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God" (5). That is quite a statement, and it is with that same type of blamelessness that I strive to live my own life. Sometimes when I see something bad come out about a politician or someone, I wonder, "If someone were to scrutinize my life with that same intensity, would they find anything?" I mean, obviously they would not find anything huge and sensational, like an affair. But am I truly blameless in all I do? I want to live my life in such a way that if I were being scrutinized by others, they could not find anything against me.

It also struck me how flippant the kings could be when it came to making laws, and yet, how rigid the rules were against revoking them. Compared to our own government, the Babylonians' system is horrible! (And same with King Xerxes' system in Esther.) It really hit me today how bad it would be to live in a land where one man's whims could immediately become irreversible law. That king didn't even have ultimate power. Whatever happened to come out of his mouth at any given time is what had ultimate power. That makes no sense. I'm so thankful that governments have since evolved far beyond that point.

I was struck again by that terrible power of the king when he demanded that Daniel's accusers be thrown into the den of lions, along with their wives and children. Good grief! Did he not learn his lesson about impetuousness with his first decree? The idea of innocent women and children being devoured by lions is so sad! I'm very glad that that general model of judging the family for the sins of the father has passed.

NT: 2 Peter 3:1-18

Like many of the pastoral letters, 2 Peter spends some time prepping the church for settling in for the long haul. Many seemed to believe that Jesus' return was imminent. To them, Peter urged patience, and he gave a bit of explanation:

"But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" (8-9).

The two elements of Peter's explanation is that God's plan and His sense of time are bigger than ours, and His delay comes from patience, wanting to give everyone a chance to turn to Him.

Even though Peter urges patience, he still employs the image of God's return to spur the church to righteousness. He tells them, "Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward tot he day of God and speed its coming" (12). In verse 14, he elaborates that, "since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him."

As Peter closes his letter, he also mentions Paul, both to emphasize his agreement with him (15), and to warn that Paul's letters are a little confusing and thus, open to distortion (16). I agree with him; Paul's letters can definitely be confusing!

Psalm 119: 129-152

We read three more stanzas today. My favorite verse was verse 143:

"Trouble and distress have come upon me,
but your commands are my delight."

I like the idea that, even in the midst of trouble, we can always take delight in following God's commands. After all, to borrow a phrase from Peter, following God's commands allows us to "participate in the divine nature." And that is a delightful thing.

Prov. 28:21-22

Against showing partiality and being stingy.

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