Bible Reading Plan – July 29-August 5
Bible Project Reading Plan (July 30-August 5):
Daniel 4-12; Haggai 1-2; Zechariah 1-14; Psalms 56-62
Trying to pick an interesting subject to write about from the book of Daniel is a tough ask – not for a lack of material, but because there is too much! Should we look at the miracle of being saved from fire or from lions? About a crazy king, or the king who saw the disembodied hand writing on the wall? Should we think through the dream of a king about statues, or the dream of the prophet about beasts? Or perhaps just dip our toes in the last bits of the book, filled with wonder and angels and timelines?
If Daniel was a buffet, we would do here the only right thing to do: take a little of everything! So, let’s do that, and think through what Daniel as a whole is trying to communicate to us. What do all of these random events have in common?
At first blush, not all that much. The list of characters changes, as do the themes of the stories: sometimes the hero is Daniel, sometimes his friends. While Nebuchadnezzar comes in for some good treatment (after going crazy) his son shows himself worthless. Daniel at first can interpret dreams, and even divine their content(!), but at the end doesn’t understand his own. All in all, the stories seem isolated, and not very interrelated.
Yet, there is a common theme. In each, we find that those who are willing to recognize and live their lives in humility under the sovereignty of God are dealt with by that God in kindness and mercy. And here, we find that this runs the gambit of people: not just the great Daniel, but his friends. Not just the Jews, who were at best second class citizens, but such treatment extends even to kings. Daniel and company decide to seek to abide by the dietary restriction of the Jewish nation and are blessed. Daniel and company again, despite different circumstances, decide to worship Yahweh and not idols, and God delivers both. The kings are warned to respect Yahweh’s greatness, and are treated to radically different outcomes. In all of this, whether great or small, noble or common, Jewish or Gentile, one only stands or falls because of the will of the Sovereign God of the Universe – the Ancient of Days.
So, we have the table helpfully set for the last chapters. While God’s people are in exile, and as they even return to their land, they need to trust in this God. The pattern of the past will be repeated, and deliverance from the great and mighty will come. Even the great, despicable beast, mighty and massive, is no match for this great king, the Son of Man.
Friends, don’t worry if you cannot fathom all of the details in Daniel. And don’t fret if you don’t fully grasp the nature of the timeline. The picture that you should cling to is simply this: God’s kingdom is coming (and now has come in Christ), and this kingdom will crush all others and their oppression, will grow mightily, and will be a haven for God’s people. Yes, in the meantime you may find yourself devoured, beaten, smashed. But there is a greater kingdom inaugurated, and its consummation is soon. Hold on, for
those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.