The future of the world. Knowing what it might look like can be both a scary thought as well as an exciting one as well. Think about it – what if the future of the world is dark and ominous – would you want to know about it? What if the future of the world was bright and promising – would you want to know about it? While we cannot know the minutia of our world to come, there is an amazing amount that we can know and I will tell you this – both of the previous future examples of the world are true! How would I know that? There is an easy one word answer: Daniel.
People in the Bible
A few weeks ago we began to tell the story of the dramatic events that led up to the conversion of the Centurion Cornelius to Christianity. Because the expansion of Christianity to Gentiles was such a radical shift in God’s methods, radical measures had to be taken! Today we will finish the story and see how its conclusion would change the history of Christian faith by the inclusion of you and me!
Sometimes things need to change. When there is a great plan in progress, the need for great change is likely to be a part of that plan. Since Adam’s fall from grace, God’s plan for man’s redemption has been punctuated by changes, including the great Flood which ended the old world, the calling of Abraham which began the age of the Patriarchs, and the death of Jacob which ushered in the age of Jewish favor. Each change had a distinct purpose. Today’s story about the conversion of Cornelius signaled that another change was on the horizon – a change that would be played out through the experiences of the Apostle Peter and Cornelius, the first Gentile convert. God’s plan was progressing and great change was necessary. But why Cornelius? Why a soldier?
Several weeks ago we looked into the life and times of Noah, the righteous man of God who built the Ark upon dry ground in obedience to the will and direction of God. The flood came and destroyed a world that had not only become a society without God, it had become a society that destroyed God. Spirit and human being alike took the goodness of God’s creation, mixed it into a forbidden hybrid formula of intelligence and form that may have resembled God’s intentions on the outside, but on the inside was a force that rebelled against all that God stood for. The Bible tells us that the resulting destruction was a preview of future destruction to come…has the full length feature of that preview arrived?
There are many accounts in the Bible that really run along the edge of reality for many of us here today. Think about it – Balaam’s donkey talks, the sun stands still for Joshua in a battle, Jesus rises from the dead and goes to heaven… These are fantastic and unbelievable to many. And then there is the story of Noah. Here is a man around 500 years old who builds a boat to save his family and the animals from a devastating flood! Now THAT is amazing! So, what is there about this story of Noah that rings true for us today? Is his experience a warning for us here and now?
So much of the philosophy of our society today is built around the idea that “I am the center of my universe, therefore what I want, I truly must have,” so the whole concept of sin becomes very subjective and often not even really relevant in people’s lives. So, is sin as relevant today as it was in the past, or have we outgrown the concept of sin in favor of a much more fluid and progressive understanding of right and wrong?
When you begin to grasp the life and times of Daniel the Prophet, what you find in your hands is pure inspiration, integrity, faith and courage. Here is a man who lived out his entire life far from his home in Israel and who, by God’s grace, turned captivity to a pagan nation into an opportunity to reveal the greatness of the One God and eventually win over the King who made him captive. When we grow up, we should all want to be like Daniel! Stay with us as we continue his story!
A few weeks ago we began looking at the life of Daniel the Prophet, beginning at the time he was about 17 years old and taken prisoner by the Babylonian Empire. What we saw was a boy who displayed solid integrity, faith and focus as he navigated his way through the muddy waters of captivity and idolatry to shine out as a light of God in a very dark place. Stay with us as we observe him grow up and grow into a man, a leader of uncompromising strength and passion for his God.
We all want to be inspired. We all want to see or hear a story of someone who was so strong against sin, so courageous against captivity and so trustworthy against temptation that we ourselves become invigorated to follow that example. Daniel the prophet was one such man who lived one such story. Stay with us as we open the book of Daniel and look upon his life to see why he was beloved of God.
Daniel was a good, righteous and deeply faithful man. From a very young age, he showed himself to be wholly keyed in on being in lock-step with obedience to God. God, in turn, blessed Daniel in many ways, from preserving his life, to granting him ability to interpret dreams, to elevating him in power, to bestowing upon him an incredible gift of prophecy. Oh yeah, and God also delivered him from the den of lions! Today, Daniel’s prophecies are among the most discredited scriptures in the Bible! Why? What is it about Daniel that makes so many afraid?