Chapter 18 :: Recap/Review

Yesterday, we wrapped up our week with Daniel and some of his friends. The Israelites are in exile and spread out in countries that are not their own. They are strangers in other peoples’ lands. They don’t fit it. They feel like the things they deem important are not important to those around them. They have this draw to be close to God, but live in cultures that have a blatant disregard for the God with whom they are connected. Do you ever feel that way?

While much of the book of Daniel is rooted in prophetic foresight and language, there are a few stories at the beginning that offer great hope for anyone attempting to live a holy life in the midst of an unholy culture. Whether the story of Daniel and his friends, at 15 or 16 years of age refusing to eat from the royal table in Babylon, the story of his friends in the fiery furnace in chapter three or the sleepover with the lions Daniel had when he was close to 90 years old, it’s clear that Daniel understood the tension of living a holy life in an unholy culture.

In all three of these stories, God reaches into their calamity and rescues them. God is not distant from them watching and wondering if they will survive, but he is actively involved and cares about their daily lives. What amazes me about this God is that it’s the same today. We may not be thrown into fiery furnaces or lion’s dens, but God is our “ever-present help in times of trouble” (Psalm 46:1) and promises to be with us always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). In Psalm 121, the psalmist writes these words…

I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains? No, my strength comes from GOD, who made heaven, and earth, and mountains. He won’t let you stumble, your Guardian God won’t fall asleep. Not on your life! Israel’s Guardian will never doze or sleep. GOD’S your Guardian, right at your side to protect you— Shielding you from sunstroke, sheltering you from moon stroke. GOD guards you from every evil, he guards your very life. He guards you when you leave and when you return, he guards you now, he guards you always.  

If you feel like you are in a furnace right now, maybe you just need a little encouragement to keep moving. Don’t stop. No matter how bad, know that you are not alone. I realize that there may be some really good worship songs that might help you during this time, but I’m a country music fan and one of my favorite country psalmists is a man named Rodney Atkins and here’s what he might say to you today…

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