Thursday, December 2, 2010

December 2

OT: Daniel 9:1-11:1

More strange dreams for Daniel. Well, first, he starts off with a prayer, in response to learning that the Babylonian captivity will last for seventy years. The prayer basically confesses the nations' sins to God and expresses understanding at their punishment. It closes by pleading with God to turn from his anger, regardless of how much the nation deserves it (4-19).

At the conclusion of his prayer, Daniel gets another visit from Gabriel, who assures Daniel that he is about to explain everything right before launching into some esoteric jargon about convoluted dates and times and Anointed Ones...and I don't even know. I did feel sorry for Daniel, having to figure out that "explanation."

I can't tell if 10:1 gives a conclusion of the earlier chapter, or if it really is a one-verse synopsis of yet another vision. Regardless, it puts Daniel into quite a funk, to the point where he mourned for three weeks.

Then, he meets yet another messenger. Is this Gabriel again? It doesn't appear to be, b/c Daniel doesn't identify him, and by this time, he and Gabriel seem to be buddies. This new guy terrifies him, and understandably so: "His body was like chrysolite, his face like lightning, he eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude" (10:6). So...not very approachable.

This new guy explains that he has come to answer Daniel's questions, and in fact, has been on his way "since the first day that [Daniel] set [his] mind to gain understanding and to humble [himself] before...God" (12). However, this angel apparently had to fight his way to Daniel; the prince of Persia hindered him for 21 days. This would seem to be an example of some spiritual warfare, as well as a small glimpse into the spirit world. Is the prince of Persia supposed to be some demonic being who rules over Persia? Who knows? Regardless, Michael is identified as quite the fighter. I'd always heard that about him: Gabriel was the messenger, and Michael was the fighter. I guess that reputation comes from this passage. I also thought that it was interesting that in verse 21, Michael is referred to as Daniel's prince. Is Michael, like, Daniel's guardian angel? Is the reason that he came to this guy's rescue b/c the guy was on his way to Daniel? I don't know. I just found all of that very intriguing, especially in light of Paul's statement in Ephesians 6:12: "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."

NT: 1 John 2:19-3:6

The end of chapter 2 reflects the author's view that he is writing during the end times ("this is the last hour"), as well as his preoccupation with truth. Apparently, some members of the Christian community have deserted the faith (18-20), prompting John to remind them that the truth is that Jesus was the Christ. He argues that you can not separate belief in Jesus from belief in God; to deny one is to deny the other (20-23).

The first two sentences of chapter 3 are very dear to me: "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" Such a wonderful reassurance. I also like the promise of transformation in chapter 2: "what we will be has not yet been made known." The context of the verse seems to indicate that John is specifically referring to what happens to us after Christ's coming, but the idea of transformation even here on earth is present throughout Scripture. Obviously, any transformation we experience on earth will pale in comparison to the transformation after death, but it is nevertheless miraculous to our eyes. I love seeing the process of people becoming more and more like Christ, and I am thankful to witness it regularly in my church family.

Psalm 121:1-8

Since I have a bit of a problem with overcommitment, I have been feeling somewhat stressed out this week. To help my mind, I went to bed early last night and then got up early this morning to read my Bible and pray. I just read the NT, Psalm, and Proverbs this morning, and the Psalm and first proverb helped me so much. The whole psalm was about how God helps us, how he watches over us, and will not let our foot slip. When I read it this morning, I just thanked God for giving me this psalm. It set the tone for my whole day, and God did indeed help my day to be productive and triumphant.

Prov. 28:27-28

Verse 27 says,

"He who gives to the poor will lack nothing,
but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses."

That hit home with me this morning, b/c part of my day did involve giving to the poor. And sadly, b/c I was so busy, I had tried to close my eyes to this opportunity earlier in the week. Without going into detail, let's just say that it wasn't God's plan that I miss that opportunity and so part of my day involved acting on it. Since what I needed was energy and strength for the day, I took heart at the idea that "he who gives to the poor will lack nothing." I know it's a general proverb, but it was also a little gift from God to me today. And it proved to be true. It's been a great day. And now, I'm going to bed.

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