Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Idealistic Youth Transform History


Today's story happens after personal, political, economic and familial devastation.

Four young kids, the best and the brightest, have been ripped away from all that is familiar. Their families were probably killed. Their country had been overthrown. They were uprooted and transplanted into the service of the oppressive king that had devastated their country.

And they were given a once in a million opportunity to train for government leadership in the new country.

In our land of equal opportunity it is hard to understand the contrast between what they had been given and the only alternative.

They could live in luxury and serve the king - or be killed! Now read the story...

3 "Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, his chief of staff, to bring to the palace some of the young men of Judah’s royal family and other noble families, who had been brought to Babylon as captives. 4 “Select only strong, healthy, and good-looking young men,” he said. “Make sure they are well versed in every branch of learning, are gifted with knowledge and good judgment, and are suited to serve in the royal palace. Train these young men in the language and literature of Babylon.[c]” 5 The king assigned them a daily ration of food and wine from his own kitchens. They were to be trained for three years, and then they would enter the royal service.

6 Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were four of the young men chosen, all from the tribe of Judah. 7 The chief of staff renamed them with these Babylonian names:

Daniel was called Belteshazzar.
Hananiah was called Shadrach.
Mishael was called Meshach.
Azariah was called Abednego.

8 But Daniel was determined not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king. He asked the chief of staff for permission not to eat these unacceptable foods. 9 Now God had given the chief of staff both respect and affection for Daniel. 10 But he responded, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has ordered that you eat this food and wine. If you become pale and thin compared to the other youths your age, I am afraid the king will have me beheaded.”

11 Daniel spoke with the attendant who had been appointed by the chief of staff to look after Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. 12 “Please test us for ten days on a diet of vegetables and water,” Daniel said. 13 “At the end of the ten days, see how we look compared to the other young men who are eating the king’s food. Then make your decision in light of what you see.” 14 The attendant agreed to Daniel’s suggestion and tested them for ten days.

15 At the end of the ten days, Daniel and his three friends looked healthier and better nourished than the young men who had been eating the food assigned by the king. 16 So after that, the attendant fed them only vegetables instead of the food and wine provided for the others.

17 God gave these four young men an unusual aptitude for understanding every aspect of literature and wisdom. And God gave Daniel the special ability to interpret the meanings of visions and dreams.

18 When the training period ordered by the king was completed, the chief of staff brought all the young men to King Nebuchadnezzar. 19 The king talked with them, and no one impressed him as much as Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. So they entered the royal service. 20 Whenever the king consulted them in any matter requiring wisdom and balanced judgment, he found them ten times more capable than any of the magicians and enchanters in his entire kingdom.

21 Daniel remained in the royal service until the first year of the reign of King Cyrus."

Four bright, handsome young guys.

They stood by their convictions.

And transformed history!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Outrage!

What happens in the first few verses of Daniel is an OUTRAGE!!!

Nebuchadnezzar, the supreme ruler of the ancient kingdom of Iraq invades the land of Israel.

The temple to the living God, the only true God, God Almighty is in Jerusalem.

That temple is sacked and the sacred and valuable items are stolen!

Daniel 1
1 "During the third year of King Jehoiakim’s reign in Judah,[a] King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2 The Lord gave him victory over King Jehoiakim of Judah and permitted him to take some of the sacred objects from the Temple of God. So Nebuchadnezzar took them back to the land of Babylonia[b] and placed them in the treasure-house of his god."

It says, "The Lord gave him victory"

and also, "permitted him to take some of the sacred objects from the Temple of God."

Why would God allow a pagan king to overthrow His people?

Why would God allow the holy Temple of God to be ruined?

Why would God allow the sacred objects of the Temple to be taken away, and installed in the temple of a god that-is-no-god.Every day they are there, they sit in triumph as a token of of the superiority of the god-that-is-no-god over the God Almighty!

It is an outrage!

And it went on for 70 years...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Battle is the Lord's

Joel prophesies that final battle. Also known as Armaggedon!

And now, O Lord, call out your warriors!

12 “Let the nations be called to arms.
Let them march to the valley of Jehoshaphat.
There I, the Lord, will sit
to pronounce judgment on them all.
13 Swing the sickle,
for the harvest is ripe.[n]
Come, tread the grapes,
for the winepress is full.
The storage vats are overflowing
with the wickedness of these people.”

14 Thousands upon thousands are waiting in the valley of decision.
There the day of the Lord will soon arrive.
15 The sun and moon will grow dark,
and the stars will no longer shine.
16 The Lord’s voice will roar from Zion
and thunder from Jerusalem,
and the heavens and the earth will shake.
But the Lord will be a refuge for his people,
a strong fortress for the people of Israel."

God is very patient with wickedness and unrighteousness now.
But He is a just God.
When He is ready to take on the forces of wickedness - WATCH OUT!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Promise


First, Joel has terrible and graphic warnings of destruction and plunder.
Then he calls the people to repent.
Now he gives them a promise of what is to come...

The Lord’s Promise of His Spirit

28 [g]“Then, after doing all those things,
I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
Your old men will dream dreams,
and your young men will see visions.
29 In those days I will pour out my Spirit
even on servants—men and women alike.
30 And I will cause wonders in the heavens and on the earth—
blood and fire and columns of smoke.
31 The sun will become dark,
and the moon will turn blood red
before that great and terrible[h] day of the Lord arrives.
32 But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord
will be saved,
for some on Mount Zion in Jerusalem will escape,
just as the Lord has said.
These will be among the survivors
whom the Lord has called."

Definately speaking of the end times.
Are we there now?
Probably!

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Call to Repentance

We are now in Joel.
This is a very small book in the Bible. Only 3 chapters long.
Very dramatic and hard hitting.
After describing the destruction that is coming upon the land of Israel, Joel sends out a call to repentance.

A Call to Repentance

12 "That is why the Lord says,
“Turn to me now, while there is time.
Give me your hearts.
Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning.
13 Don’t tear your clothing in your grief,
but tear your hearts instead.”
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is merciful and compassionate,
slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
He is eager to relent and not punish.
14 Who knows? Perhaps he will give you a reprieve,
sending you a blessing instead of this curse.
Perhaps you will be able to offer grain and wine
to the Lord your God as before.

15 Blow the ram’s horn in Jerusalem!
Announce a time of fasting;
call the people together
for a solemn meeting.
16 Gather all the people—
the elders, the children, and even the babies.
Call the bridegroom from his quarters
and the bride from her private room.
17 Let the priests, who minister in the Lord’s presence,
stand and weep between the entry room to the Temple and the altar.
Let them pray, “Spare your people, Lord!
Don’t let your special possession become an object of mockery.
Don’t let them become a joke for unbelieving foreigners who say,
‘Has the God of Israel left them?’”

Repent!
As a nation.
And personally...

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Have you ever forgotten to hit "Save" and you lost it all?


Have you ever forgotten to hit "Save" and you lost it all?

In today's reading Jermiah undertakes a long and tedious task. God tells him to write down all the warnings that God had spoken to him way back from the start.

To make it a little easier, he gets a scribe to write it all down. But remember, this is ink on parchment. The task is long and ardous.

Once completed, it is on a long scroll.

Follow the story...

Jeremiah 36

1 "During the fourth year that Jehoiakim son of Josiah was king in Judah,[d] the Lord gave this message to Jeremiah: 2 “Get a scroll, and write down all my messages against Israel, Judah, and the other nations. Begin with the first message back in the days of Josiah, and write down every message, right up to the present time. 3 Perhaps the people of Judah will repent when they hear again all the terrible things I have planned for them. Then I will be able to forgive their sins and wrongdoings.”

4 So Jeremiah sent for Baruch son of Neriah, and as Jeremiah dictated all the prophecies that the Lord had given him, Baruch wrote them on a scroll. 5 Then Jeremiah said to Baruch, “I am a prisoner here and unable to go to the Temple. 6 So you go to the Temple on the next day of fasting, and read the messages from the Lord that I have had you write on this scroll."

The religious leaders take it seriously, and decide to go to the king and read it to him. It is cold, so he is sitting in front of the fireplace.

21 "The king sent Jehudi to get the scroll. Jehudi brought it from Elishama’s room and read it to the king as all his officials stood by. 22 It was late autumn, and the king was in a winterized part of the palace, sitting in front of a fire to keep warm. 23 Each time Jehudi finished reading three or four columns, the king took a knife and cut off that section of the scroll. He then threw it into the fire, section by section, until the whole scroll was burned up. 24 Neither the king nor his attendants showed any signs of fear or repentance at what they heard. 25 Even when Elnathan, Delaiah, and Gemariah begged the king not to burn the scroll, he wouldn’t listen."

Ouch!

All that work!

All that memory!

All that tedious writing on parchment, and carefully rolling it up neatly.

Gone...

Gone...

Gone...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Real Estate Investor's Lament

Today the real estate estate investor laments his purchase.
(Kind of like everyone in our area who bought in the 2006-2007 era)

And yet, O Sovereign Lord, you have told me to buy the field—paying good money for it before these witnesses—even though the city will soon be handed over to the Babylonians

21 “You brought Israel out of Egypt with mighty signs and wonders, with a strong hand and powerful arm, and with overwhelming terror. 22 You gave the people of Israel this land that you had promised their ancestors long before—a land flowing with milk and honey. 23 Our ancestors came and conquered it and lived in it, but they refused to obey you or follow your word. They have not done anything you commanded. That is why you have sent this terrible disaster upon them.
24 “See how the siege ramps have been built against the city walls! Through war, famine, and disease, the city will be handed over to the Babylonians, who will conquer it. Everything has happened just as you said. 25 And yet, O Sovereign Lord, you have told me to buy the field—paying good money for it before these witnesses—even though the city will soon be handed over to the Babylonians.”


God goes on...

36 “Now I want to say something more about this city. You have been saying, ‘It will fall to the king of Babylon through war, famine, and disease.’ But this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: 37 I will certainly bring my people back again from all the countries where I will scatter them in my fury. I will bring them back to this very city and let them live in peace and safety. 38 They will be my people, and I will be their God. 39 And I will give them one heart and one purpose: to worship me forever, for their own good and for the good of all their descendants. 40 And I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good for them. I will put a desire in their hearts to worship me, and they will never leave me. 41 I will find joy doing good for them and will faithfully and wholeheartedly replant them in this land."


God is saying:
This will not go on forever.
I have a plan
All this is for a good that you cannot see now.
I (God) am ultimately in control)