Bible reading for Oct 20 -- 21
Oct 20 -- Daniel 5 and Psalms 110-111
Oct 21 -- Daniel 6 and Psalms 112-113
"...for he is the living God, enduring forever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end. He delivers and rescues; he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth..." (Daniel 6:26-27)
THE HANDWRITING ON THE WALL (ch 5). In this chapter you see where that popular expression came from! Belshazzar, son (or grandson?) of Nebuchadnezzar, was likely a co-regent or crown prince in Babylon, and to no one's surprise was yet another haughty monarch. Daniel says to him, "you have lifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven. And the vessels of his house have been brought in before you, and you and your lords, your wives, and your concubines have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see or hear or know, but the God in whose hand is your breath, and whose are all your ways, you have not honored" (v 23). In 538 BC, literally overnight, Medo-Persian troops captured Babylon, and Belshazzar was killed.
IN THE LION'S DEN (ch 6). Daniel is again honored before a king, this time Darius the Mede. Daniel is exemplary in his character and service, and other officials are envious of him (cf Matt 27:18). They manipulate the king into making a decree, which he cannot un-decree, regarding a temporary (thirty-day) ban on prayer to anyone but the king. (The officials who hatched this plot would pay dearly for this later.) Daniel continued openly with his regular practice of thrice-daily prayer. He is thrown into a den of lions and a royal seal was placed upon the stone over the opening (v 17, sound familiar? See Matt 27:66). God miraculously protects and vindicates his servant Daniel. No human authority can thwart God's purposes. And so Daniel prospered all his days under Persian rule.
DOMINION. World dominion is a theme in the book of Daniel. Among human empires there is a continual succession of them, and most are overthrown for their pride and arrogance. In a sense we're all little monarchs exercising what we will -- how we will, and when we will -- over our little dominions. We use the gifts of God's hand, including our very breath, to have things our way. We are being wise when we humble ourselves and acknowledge that all we have is from the Lord and needs to be used for his honor and service. The Aramaic words translated "kingdom" and "dominion" are generally synonymous, and are unique to the writings of Daniel and Ezra. The meaning, when taken together and applied to God, is that the Lord alone has sovereign rule over all, and his reign is forever, from generation to generation. He raises up rulers, and then -- poof -- he takes away rulers, according to his own will and purpose.
DOXOLOGY. The same Lord who exalted and then humbled Nebuchadnezzar, who deposed Belshazzar, and who raised up Darius, is yet at work today. He is no different now. He is not intimidated by any of the nations today, but he "works all things according to the counsel of his will..." (Eph 1:11). My wife and I are paying special attention to biblical doxologies in our reading together, and we seek to incorporate them in our daily prayer. Doxologies are statements made to honor and glorify God. So far, in the book of Daniel we have read four -- one from Daniel, two from Nebuchadnezzar, and one from Darius (2:20-23; 4:3; 4:34-35; 6:26-27). Here's a challenge: take one or more of these doxologies and make them your prayer to the Lord first thing each morning this week. In that way you will affirm that the Lord is King, that there is no other, and that his dominion endures forever.
"The LORD says to my Lord: 'Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.'" (Psalm 110:1)
AT THE LORD'S RIGHT HAND (Ps 110). This psalm is probably the most quoted passage from the Old Testament in the New. After Jesus cleansed the Temple, various religious leaders were grilling him with their challenging (so they thought) theological questions. At the end Jesus asks them a question related to this psalm (Matt 22:41-46), which they could not answer. It was a climactic moment that revealed the leaders' ignorance regarding who the Messiah was. It appears that because the Messianic King was the "son" of David, and a son is not greater than his father, then perhaps the Messiah would be of slightly less distinction than David? The psalm makes it clear that David refers to his greater son, the Messiah, as "Lord". The Messiah was not a mere human, but would be seated at the right hand of God.
WHO IS MELCHIZEDEK? But more, this psalm teaches us that the son of David, the Messiah, would also be a priest (v 4). Now the king was descended from David (tribe of Judah), but the priests descended from Levi, a different tribe. How then could Messiah be all three anointed offices of prophet, priest, and king? The answer David says, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is that the Anointed One would be a different kind of priest, not a Levitical priest making offerings in the temple, but a priest like Melchizedek, whom Abraham knew long before Levi was born (Gen 14:18-20). The book of Hebrews, especially chapter 7, talks about this in detail. This Priest-King (Jesus!) will ascend to sit at God's right hand and one day return to judge the nations. I especially love the last verse, "He will drink from the brook by the way; therefore he will lift up his head" (v 7), which speaks of his complete victory and enjoying a refreshing drink from a nearby stream. I love that image!
STUDY HIS WORKS (Ps 111). This is a call to worship the Lord for his character and works: "Great are the works of the LORD, studied by all who delight in them" (v 2). The word for "study" is also used for treading grain, or beating a path, or searching something out. Repetition is involved. Do you study the works of God? And with that, do you delight (take pleasure) in the works of God? Do you think about creation, his care for creatures, his miracles, the ministry of angels, his guiding of history, his providence, his works of salvation, the prophecies of OT and NT, the incarnation, life, and ministry of Jesus his Son, the cross and empty tomb, his bringing us to faith, his many answers to our prayer, the advance of the gospel, his care for the church, Christ's return and judgment, and the new heavens and earth? These truths should fill our minds! Often we are absorbed in the problems of our age or with the amusements of this world, rather than with the great works of God. Ask God to help you delight in all that he has done and is doing.
THE BLESSING OF RIGHTEOUSNESS (Ps 112-113). Read my comments here.
Image credit. Source unknown. About this newsletter: I'm Sandy Young, and I post three times a week on my Bible reading, following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson. Subscribe for email at Buttondown.email/Sandy. Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. A very helpful resource is the NET Bible with its excellent notes at netbible.org.