July 30

July 30

Daniel & Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream & Humbling — God establishes authorities.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: Daniel 4

Reading 2: Daniel 5:18-21

Reading 3: Romans 13:1-4

After yesterday’s miracles and Nebuchadnezzar’s recognition of God’s power, today we read about his dream warning him of powerful personal consequences if he continues in his pride and arrogance. Clearly this king was full of himself, even if he recognized God’s hand in specific events!

Despite Daniel’s warning, Nebuchadnezzar does not change his ways and the insanity prophesied befalls him. His example becomes a lesson for his successor Belshazzar. The fault is to disregard God’s supremacy as creator of the world, and to act as if God has no authority, when in fact all authority comes from God.

This is a lesson for us too: we do well to honor all authority (godly or ungodly) because God has instituted that authority for His Kingdom purposes. No human authority is ever completely righteous, so we must learn to submit to imperfect rulers lest we fail to submit to God.

Have a great day!

Mark.

July 29

July 29

Daniel’s Three Friends & the Fiery Furnace — The fiery furnace & fiery trials in our lives.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: Daniel 3

Reading 2: Isaiah 48:10-11

Reading 3: 1 Peter 4:12-14

Did you know that sometimes promotion leads to hardship? Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were placed over the province of Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar, but when the power-crazed king set up a statue and commanded everyone to bow down to it, the Jewish men could not comply. Their allegiance is to God, not to idols. This led to extreme hardship for them as the other officials (who were presumably jealous of their position) betrayed them to the king, and the king flew into a rage.

But when hardship comes, God is already in control. We would have been focused on praying that we would not be thrown into the fire; these three were instead focused on telling the king the truth – that they would obey God even if it meant their death.

When God shows Himself powerful in the heat of hardship, it can also lead to promotion. The king was so amazed that they survived the furnace without even smelling of smoke that he promoted them to even higher positions!

And Peter tells us that the sufferings we face unite us with Jesus – that is the best news a suffering person can hear!

Have a great day!

Mark.

July 28

July 28

Daniel & Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream — Daniel’s wisdom & hearing from God.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: Daniel 2

Reading 2: Amos 3:7

Reading 3: Ezekiel 28:1-10

The Sovereign Lord never does anything until he reveals his plans to his servants the prophets. (Amos 3:7).

Today we read how God showed Daniel what Nebuchadnezzar had dreamed, and the meaning of the dream. Daniel predicts four kingdoms (the Babylonians, the Medes & Persians, the Greeks & Macedonians and the Romans) who will finally give way to the Kingdom of God.

We know that Daniel was accurate in the predictions about the four kingdoms. History and archeology tell us that Daniel’s words came to pass. It is therefore a safe assumption that the future aspects of Daniel’s revelation are also true.

We have seen the entry of God’s Kingdom with Jesus, and we know His Kingdom will be eternal. We are waiting for Jesus to return and inaugurate his earthly reign,

In the meantime, let’s live boldly, as Daniel did, and trust God in any tight corners we find ourselves in!

Have a great day!

Mark.

July 27

July 27

Daniel & his Friends Obey God — Daniel deals with temptation.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: Daniel 1

Reading 2: Proverbs 23:1-8

Reading 3: 1 Corinthians 10:13

After all the disappointments of the final years of the Kingdom of Judah, with God’s judgment and evil kings abounding, we now come to a most encouraging part of God’s Story.

In the midst of captivity, and punishment for sin, God blesses four young men from Judah who are selected for their strength and aptitude by Nebuchadnezzar’s leaders. And in the midst of the training regime they are able to continue to live in the way God commanded (not eating food offered to idols as was common in the Babylonian palace).

God gave them favor with those overseeing them, and they were able to prove that God’s blessing is more powerful than a rich diet or pagan spiritual talents. They are positioned for some mighty demonstrations of God’s presence, power, and purpose, during the long captivity of Judah in Babylon. Stand by for more adventures in the days ahead!

Have a great day!

Mark.

July 26

July 26

Gedaliah (Southern Governor 7 months) — Jeremiah preaches “Don’t go to Egypt” but is taken.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: 2 Kings 25:22-26

Reading 2: Jeremiah 42

Reading 3: Jeremiah 43

Now Judah is also under judgment, and a mere remnant remains in Jerusalem after king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon took the best men away as captives. They are governed by a puppet ruler – Gedaliah – set in place by the Babylonians to keep order.

However, there are still some proud men in Judah who think they know best, and they murder Gedaliah, and then decide to flee to Egypt to be safe from the revenge of Nebuchadnezzar. But they ask Jeremiah to ask God what they should do. They at least pretend to desire God’s answers, until they do not line up with what they want to hear. But Jeremiah truly listens to God, and God tells Jeremiah the truth – that these men are deceitfully asking for God’s word, having already decided what they are going to do.

Poor Jeremiah and Baruch are caught up in the disobedience because they too are carried off to Egypt when the proud leaders escape there. But Jeremiah accurately prophesies that Nebuchadnezzar will bring an end to the once great nation of Egypt and all the rebels who fled there will die there.

For us, this sad tale is a warning; let’s be careful not to come to God on our own terms, and beware of doing what we have determined in our hearts to do if God’s Word does not confirm it. It is so easy for us to slip into sin by obeying our own desires rather than God’s will. But God is faithful and will speak truth to us, as He did to Jeremiah.

Have a great day!

Mark.

July 25

July 25.

Zedekiah (Southern King 11 years) — Jeremiah laments the fall & destruction of Jerusalem.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: 2 Kings 25:1-21

Reading 2: Jeremiah 39

Reading 3: Lamentations 2:5-19

Finally the end comes. After two terrible years of seige and famine, the Babylonians conquer Jerusalem, kill the king, loot all the remaining treasures, and execute the remaining leaders. Jeremiah, however, is not harmed, but released from prison and allowed to remain with his people.

He is heartbroken at the devastation and the judgment of his nation, and the heart of that nation, the City of Jerusalem and the Temple.

The good news is that judgment is now completed and God can begin the rebuilding process. The story is about to become more joyful!

Have a great day!

Mark.

July 23

July 23

Jehoiachin (Southern King  3 months) & Zedekiah (Southern King 11 years) — Jeremiah jailed.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: 2 Kings 24:8-20

Reading 2: Jeremiah 37

Reading 3: Jeremiah 38

The end of a decline is often the hardest part, and today’s readings are no exception. Jeremiah continues to live in fear of his life despite his obedience to God and his adherence to God’s Word. The evil kings he serves are determined to ignore his advice, or worse to kill him for what they see as treason.

Jeremiah has enemies among the people too, especially the grandson of false prophet Hananiah. But there are also those who look out for Jeremiah and rescue him. So he lives to prophesy another day!

Let’s thank God that out of all this death, rebellion, and destruction, comes restoration after the punishment for sin is completed.

Have a great day!

Mark.

July 22

July 22

Jehoiakim (Southern King 11 years) — Jeremiah’s prophecy (70 years) to Jehoiakim destroyed.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: 2 Kings 24:1-7

Reading 2: Jeremiah 25:1-14

Reading 3: Jeremiah 36

We have been reading that God is using the surrounding nations, especially Babylon, as His instruments of judgment on the sinful nation of Judah, just as He did with Assyria against the nation of Israel.

Jeremiah has been prophesying for 23 years about the consequences of Judah’s sin, and now God tells him to write out the prophecies in full. But wicked king Jehoiakim refuses to respond to the prophecies as they are read. Instead he cuts them off the scroll and burns them in the fire!

Such callous disregard for God’s words illustrates the hardness of heart that God was determined to erase from Judah. And don’t think that being a prophet (or the prophet’s scribe) were easy jobs! Both Jeremiah and Baruch have to hide to avoid execution, and then they rewrite the scrolls Jehoiakim had burned. All that work repeated in obedience to God!

Have a great day!

Mark.

July 21

July 21

Jehoiakim (Southern King 11 years) — Jeremiah’s vs. Hananiah’s message to Jehoiakim.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: 2 Kings 23:31-37

Reading 2: Jeremiah 26

Reading 3: Jeremiah 28

We have often seen in our readings that obeying God in the Old Testament period was literally a matter of life and death. Sin is a powerful task master and God is as opposed to sin as an oncologist is to cancer. God’s purpose is to eradicate sin and stop its cancerous hold on his creation – mankind.

Today we read of the high stakes Jeremiah faced in his obedience to God. Prophesying disaster is never popular, but God told him to warn the nation. By contrast, Hananiah had a “feel good” message for the king and the people.

In these cases, the only way to know who was the true prophet was to wait and see whose words came true. In this case, the outcome for Hananiah was death, proving Jeremiah’s prophecy true.

We too are called to demonstrate God’s heart to the world around us, but now it is loving sacrifice that we can demonstrate, reflecting Jesus. What will you do today as you represent our loving Savior in the places to which He has called you?

Have a great day!

Mark.

July 20

July 20

Josiah (Southern King 31 years) — Josiah’s Passover, dying in the wrong battle, & Jehoahaz.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: 2 Chronicles 35

Reading 2: Proverbs 26:17

Reading 3: 2 Chronicles 36:1-4

Today we read the culmination of Josiah’s revival efforts. The Passover he led the nation to celebrate was unlike any Passover before or since. The peak of  his obedience to God was effective in bringing the whole nation back to a place of relationship with God for a short time.

However, in a salutary reminder that we are all fallible, Josiah led his army into a battle which was not his own, and he was killed!

His son Jehoahaz was only king for a short time because the Pharaoh returned and deposed him.

So we see the power, and the immaturity of youth in today’s reading, and again the common thread is that God will have His way in the affairs of men, whether the leaders cooperate with Him or not. There are wide-ranging and eternal consequences to the choices we make.

Have a great day!

Mark.