That's the Book: Daniel
Oh girls! It's story time again. The book of Daniel is full of dreams and visions and powerful men made humble by God. There are stories of kings who listen and are saved. Stories of kings who ignore and are judged. There are visions of days we have seen and days yet to come. Cuddle in and I'll tell you one of my favorites. Grab a teddy bear to hold onto tightly because this one has some scary moments.
This story starts in a land long ago. God's people have been conquored and dragged off to be servents to a king they do not trust. It is not safe for anyone who loves the one true God. And yet there are four mighty men who love the Lord. Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego and their dear friend Daniel.
It's obvious to everyone that our four heros are smart, handsome and talented. So they are chosen to go work for the king. La Ti Da! People in service of the king get to live in fancy houses and eat fancy food and live fancy lives. Only problem is they have to ignore the rules they know God wants them to follow.
Oh! But this is why Mommy loves the stories in Daniel. Our heroes choose to follow God anyway. Anyway is a powerful word.
"But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. Now God had cause the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel," Danial 1: 8-9a
Don't ever forget my girls that our God is powerful. He goes before you and causes favor and compassion. He will be there as you stand for what you know is right.
So the young men hold to the commands of God. This makes God very proud.
"To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds". Daniel 1:17
Here is where the plot thickens. The king in the land had a dream. A big scary and confusing dream. So the King calls all his smartest guys together and tells them he wants to know what the dream means. But he's not gonna tell them what he dreamed! He wants the smarties to figure out what it means without even knowing what it was. And if they can't....he's gonna kill them all. Yikes!
The smartest people are all shocked. Speechless. Terrified.
"What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among humans." Daniel 2:11
Well the king got furious and ordered for the all the wise men in the land to be executed. Daniel hears the verdict and hustles to his friend's house. He urges them to pray.
Listen girls. Sometimes a problem is huge and dark and you can't see a way forward. The best first step is to pray. For we serve a God who does live among humans and He listens when we pray.
So during the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel and before he goes to tell the king he first pauses to praise and thank God. Told you he was a smart guy.
Daniel tells the king "No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries." Daniel 2:25
Daniel tells the king the meaning of his dream. The king is so impressed he gives Daniel wealth and a brand new job ruling the province and he made him leader of all the wise men. Wowsa girls. Dreams are powerful when God is involved.
The next step of the king is not a good one. He's a proud man with too much power. He has a giant golden statue of himself made and passes a law that everyone must bow and worship to the statue. Yucko. Girls, don't ever worship prideful and powerful people. Anyone drunk with themselves is not going to lead you well.
The king finds out that Shadrach, Meschad and Abednego are not bowing or worshiping. The king again becomes furious and orders the young men to come explain themselves. He threatens to throw them into a fiery furnace if they refuse to bow.
"Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego replied to him, "King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you on this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from your majesty's hand But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." Daniel 3:18
Our God is able. Even if he does not. If you could memorize these seven words and write them on your hearts it will guide you through any dark days. God is able to rescue us from anything. Courage is Even If.
The angry King orders furnace to be heated seven times hotter and the heros are bound and thrown into the fire. The king sits back to watch the result. Soon he leaps to his feet in amazement.
"He said, 'Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods." Daniel 3:25
See there?! When God saves he does it by joining the fire with us. Whom God saves, come away unbound and unharmed. His timing is perfect. His salvation is complete.
Another night I'll tuck you in with the story of how one of these kings became like a wild beast in a field, or how God's hand wrote on the wall, and how Daniel escaped from the lions. This is a wild ride of a book. Daniel remained faithful through it all. Near the end of his life, God gives Daniel a beautiful promise to hold onto.
"Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever." Daniel 12:3
Sometimes I look at the world we live in and I feel fear for your future. I worry the days ahead will carry lions, prideful rulers, laws we can not obey, fear and concern. But then I read this promise and I remember. In the darkness light shines brightest. So as I tuck you into bed I pray for wisdom, for righteousness, for you to shine. The promises of God are much better to hold onto than a teddy bear.
You stand in the fire beside me. Gorgeous truth from this powerful book. Take a minute and listen to Chris Tomlin's song Jesus.
Sunday School wouldn't be complete without the fiery furnace or the lion's den. See how they fit into the full book through The Bible Project's walkthrough.
Beth Moore is much smarter than I am. She could be on Daniel's wise person team. If you want to see this powerful book more clearly may I suggest you work through her book?
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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