The thing I loved the most about Daniel and his friends was their love for God. They were in exile in a foreign land and were made to serve their enemies in the royal courts. They were forced to learn the Babylonian culture for three years.
But instead of rebelling against their circumstances and becoming bitter and angry, their attitudes remained positive. Their actions throughout life reflected a deep love for and devotion to God even though they could have easily complained about their situation. They loved Him for who He was and not for what they thought they deserved in life. They knew He was still sovereign and was with them and in control:
But Daniel resolved the he would not defile himself with the royal rations of food and wine; so he asked the palace master to allow him not to defile himself.
If our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire and out of your hand, O king, let him deliver us. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods and we will not worship the golden statue that you have set up.
Obviously if Daniel and his friends weren’t completely in love with God, they would have let their circumstances get the best of them and would have been unfaithful to God. But their love and faith in God prevailed over fear. As a result, God continued to bless their faithfulness to Him as they thrived in the hardest of circumstances:
Soon Daniel distinguished himself above all the other presidents and satraps because an excellent spirit was in him, and the king planned to appoint him over the whole kingdom…
Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.
Another thing that grabbed me was Daniel’s humility. He was blessed, like Solomon, with all sorts of wisdom and knowledge. But Daniel always recognized that none of his talent was earned, that it was all freely given to him by God:
Blessed be the name of God from age to age,
for wisdom and power are his.
He changes times and seasons,
deposes kings and sets up kings;
he gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to those who have understanding.
He reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what is in the darkness,
and light dwells with him.
To you, O God of my ancestors,
I give thanks and praise,
for you have given me wisdom and power…
His humility was marked by fear of the Lord. No matter how smart Daniel was, even he couldn’t stand up in His presence without God’s help:
How can my lord’s servant talk with my lord? For I am shaking, no strength remains in me, and no breath is left in me.”
Again one in human form touched me and strengthened me. He said, “Do not fear, greatly beloved, you are safe. Be strong and courageous!” When he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.
There is no room for pride for mankind! Everything, including our very life and strength, is given to us by God. Developing a healthy fear of God is so freeing and sweet because fear of the Lord is in our God-given design!
We also learned some interpretations of the visions given to Daniel in the
second part of the book. I myself am still unsure, but I do tend to like the interpretations that say all of the prophecies given to Daniel have already been fulfilled (with God’s kingdom coming at the first coming of Christ, though obviously not all the way established until His second coming).
I don’t think any one interpretation makes perfect sense, but keeping in mind that this book was written for the Israelites back then, it makes more sense in my head that God wouldn’t be revealing the end times and the second coming of Jesus if Jesus hadn’t already come yet.
Then we studied the Book of Obadiah which I had never read before. Basically, God is telling the nation of Edom that they will be judged.
Edom was the nation that came from Esau, the brother of Jacob, to whom he had sold his birthright back in Genesis 25:34. Ezekiel 35:5 shows that Edom never really got over the fact that Jacob “stole” the blessing from them:
Because you cherished an ancient enmity, and gave over the people of Israel to the power of the sword at the time of their calamity, at the time of their final punishment…
Edom had “cherished an ancient enmity” against Judah. “Enmity” means “the state of being actively opposed or hostile toward someone or something.” Basically, they held a long-time grudge. Because of their unwillingness to let go of their bitterness, they literally reveled in the evil done to Judah when the Babylonians destroyed their city. For this, God was judging them:
On the day that you stood aside,
on the day that strangers carried off his wealth,
and foreigners entered his gates
and cast lots for Jerusalem,
you too were like one of them.
But you should not have gloated over your brother
on the day of his misfortune;
you should not have rejoiced over the people of Judah
on the day of their ruin;
you should not have boasted
on the day of distress.
You should not have entered the gate of my people
on the day of their calamity;
you should not have joined in the gloating over Judah’s disaster
on the day of his calamity;
Although God had given the inheritance to Jacob, God still had a heart for Edom like He does for all nations and peoples, but Edom rejected God by holding on to their bitterness. They “gloated” over their brother’s downfall and stood aside as it happened. For that reason, God decided to judge them.
This shows God’s heart for how He wants us to treat one another. Sometimes jealousy and bitterness can get in the way, but if we ask God to change us, He can renew our minds so that we truly love good and mourn with those who mourn!
Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good…Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.