I was awakened early this morning with a joyous awareness of God’s presence, his love and His authority over this tiny globe. I felt compelled to write what was in my aging heart.
This week has been quite amazing both in its trials and its revelation. From breakthroughs in friendships to breakdowns in business, not to mention the life impacting challenges at a global level. Yet, I am more convinced than ever, God is in control!
For some reason, I have been drawn back to my old C.I.Scofield Bible, recommended to me by my first mentor in the faith, an old time Alabama Pentecostal by the name of Woodrow Oxner. That will give some an insight into my Biblical preparation and perhaps the roots of my current Theology.
Specifically, my thoughts this morning seem filtered through the book of Daniel.
Scofield’s first notes in the book of Daniel read: The Book of Daniel, like the Revelation in the N.T., is called an apocalypse, as also Isaiah 24-27 (The Isaiah Apocalypse), the vision in Zechariah. “Apocalypse” means unveiling. When wickedness seemed supreme in the world, and evil powers were dominant, an apocalypse was given to show the real situation behind that which was apparent, and to indicate the eventual victory of righteousness upon the earth. Apocalyptic writing uses many figures and symbols. God used this literary form to convey His truth to His people.
Where is the prophetic word for today’s world; for Russia’s economy, for Syria’s refugees, for Pakistan’s grieving parents after the Taliban Peshawar school massacre? Perhaps they are still held within the words of this 6th century writer, Daniel.
Daniel, whose name means God is my judge, was a young man taken into captivity and transported to Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar. In fact, in series of raids not unlike being carried out by ISIS and others today. Had he and others like him not been strong in the Lord, we might not have what we know of today as Christianity.
“In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, came Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, unto Jerusalem, and besieged it.” Dan. 1:1 (KJV). So life has been in these countries for centuries. Yet within those centuries, people have relied on the words of hope captured by this unconquered teenager “of the king’s seed.”
Thus the early morning images, inspiration and encouragement which began my day.
Daniel was one of the young men prophesied of by Isaiah to King Hezekiah in II Kings 20:18 over 100 years earlier: “Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and all that your fathers have laid up in store to this day will be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left, says the LORD. Some of your sons who shall issue from you, whom you will beget, will be taken away; and they will become officials in the palace of the king of Babylon.”
I find this amazing, yet it seems hidden away, veiled perhaps in a time, while our churches in America struggle with diminishing congregations, some in financial foreclosure. Others, who profess a more abundant blessing of God, rock it out with smoke machines, special effects and fine-tuned programs. Can I get a witness!
Meanwhile God continues, just as in Daniels’s day, working behind the scenes, globally, crafting a future for the people of God.
Is His work dependent upon young men who will give their lives when necessary for the sake of this redemptive plan, which both Daniel and John the Revelator describe as culminating with a new heaven and a new earth? Me thinks so!
Daniel was just a teenager, separated from his family and from his peers; other than perhaps Hananiah, Misheal and Azariah. These three are later known by the Chaldeans as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego!
“Skillful in all wisdom and gifted in knowledge,” these kids set out on an adventure to prove God! What a life and what an inspiration!
I can almost hear Daniel thinking to himself years later, as he sets up against the wall of his own “Joseph pit”, bruised perhaps from being dropped into this den full of starved lions. The lions also, much like Balaam’s talking donkey in Moses’ day, are somewhat stupefied in this spiritual moment that shields their once imagined dinner!
“Uhmm, I wonder what tomorrow holds,” Daniel chuckles, “given that the lions are simply staring at me?” The next thing he hears is the voice of a hopeful heathen King, who had been up all night “praying” that this God of Daniel would have protected him from both the starved lions and the wicked political schemes of the “presidents and princes.”
“Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?” Dan. 6:20a.
Daniel had experienced phenomenal God moments, from interpreting the dreams of the king, to witnessing his friend’s survival of a fiery furnace. He knew by now that God was in control. His reply to the King, “O king, live forever! “My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths and they have not harmed me, inasmuch as I was found innocent before Him; and also toward you, O king, I have committed no crime.” Dan. 6:21-22.
The rest of the story did not bode well for the king’s political cronies.
From that day forward Daniel was “off the chain” with his revelation. Much of which is now unfolding!
“And Daniel continued even unto the first year of King Cyrus.” (Dan. 1:21) By the way, this man, later called Cyrus the Great, was prophesied of long before he was even born (Isaiah 44:28), and went on to create the largest empire the world had yet seen.
Perhaps 300 years after Isaiah was written these words are captured by Ezra, as he heads back into the land from which Daniel was taken hostage: .
“This is what Cyrus king of Persia says:
“‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you may go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem, and may their God be with them. 4 And in any locality where survivors may now be living, the people are to provide them with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem.’” Ezra 1:2-4
So, as my life ripens into the full fruit intended by the Lord from before my mother’s womb, how shall I not proclaim His righteousness! Daniel was active in 90’s, and thus my hope! Perhaps John Luther will be in position to take up this mantle by that time?