Wednesday, December 1, 2010

December 1

OT: Daniel 8:1-27

Another day, another weird dream. There, um, definitely seems to be a lot of horn imagery going on here. And horns apparently generally represent leaders and/or kingdoms.

The main thrust of the dream involves two destructive animals, with their varying symbolic horns, and the latter one devours the former one. One thing I found to be especially baffling is how the text would throw out these phrases like they should be understood. For example, verse 11 says that one of the horns "set itself up to be as great as the Prince of the host." Um, excuse me? Who is the Prince of the host? And then verse 14, Daniel "heard a man's voice from the Ulai calling..." Oh yeah...the Ulai! Whatever that is...

(It's a river, by the way.)

Thankfully for Daniel, Gabriel appears and explains that the dreams are about the end times and that the ram and goat pictured represent Media/Persia and Greece, respectively.

The one phrase that really stuck out to me today was found in verse 12, which described one of the more sinister horns: "It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground."

One of the main theses I've had as I've read the Bible this year is that the truth is strong. So if the Bible is true, which I believe that it is, then it can stand up to my questions about it. Sometimes questions make people uncomfortable. Perhaps they see them as a sign of doubt, or perhaps they fear that their own faith won't withstand such questioning. I don't see them that way. For me, asking hard questions about Scripture is an act of faith. I have faith that the truth is strong and can handle it. I know that I might never get answers to my questions, but I sure as heck am not afraid to ask.

Hearing about the idea of truth getting thrown to the ground, though, makes me wonder about my thesis. In a later description of this same horn, Gabriel says that "he will cause deceit to prosper" (25). And I guess that is something to consider with my thesis. It makes me sad to think of the idea of truth getting body slammed on the ground or being smothered out by rampant deceit, but I know that that happens. We all know, I'm sure.

I guess what I take away from those thoughts today is that truth is strong, and if you honestly seek it, you can find it. At the same time, though, if you don't seek it, it can be easily kept from you.

Those ideas spur me on to honestly seek truth. It's easy for me to become complacent and secure in what I know, and when I get too secure, I open myself up to be susceptible to distortions of the truth. That probably made sense to nobody but me, but that's what I got from the reading today.

NT: I John 2:1-17

Well, I'm glad we got that little bit of reassurance at the end of chapter 1 that we are all sinners (and it's odd that that was reassurance), b/c chapter 2 really lights a fire under Christians. Verse 1 tells us in no uncertain terms not to sin, and although it goes on to remind us that God will forgive us, verses 3-6 effectively keeps us from using the idea of God's forgiveness as an "out." Those verses tell us that if we don't do what Jesus says, then we don't love him. And if we say we are a Christian, but don't "walk as Jesus did," then we are lying. Yikes. John certainly doesn't sugar-coat his message; he clearly seems unworried that he might be stepping on anyone's toes!

In verse 9, John gives a specific example of the darkness he is telling Christians to avoid: "Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness." I don't have a lot of comment on that, but I think it's a good, specific example of what he is talking about.

Verses 12-14 are kind of strange. They seem to be some kind of hymn or poem, but they are about writing people a message. That's kind of a weird conceit for a song. Did John write this himself? Is he quoting something? I read it over a couple of times, and I couldn't see any obvious reasons why certain descriptions were given to certain age groups. So I guess I don't have a lot of insight into the poem/song.

Verses 15-17 warn us not to love anything in the world. I thought it was interesting that "the boasting of what [man] has and does" is listed as something in the world. I easily get how our cravings and lust are worldly, but I sometimes forget that even our best accomplishments can be worldly if they make us prideful.

Psalm 120: 1-7

Hey, we're done with Psalm 119.

In Psalm 120, the psalmist laments that he is surrounded by deceitful and war-loving people.

Prov. 28: 25-26

I especially love verse 26:

"He who trusts in himself is a fool,
but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe."

That's a nice reminder not to be overconfident. My faith should never be in my own abilities, but in God.

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