6-16-19 Big Questions: Why so Exclusive?

kthomasCommunity Study

Overarching theme:  Living a year in God’s presence through the practice of following Jesus.

 

Core Point: We all have questions about God, Jesus, grace, etc. This week, we focus on why we practice the presence of God or the practice of or faith?

 

Start point: Some scholars believe that the prophet Daniel wrote the book that bears his name sometime in the early sixth century B.C., although others see evidence that the book was composed later by scribes seeking to be faithful to the Daniel tradition. Either way, it records Daniel was written sometime in the early sixth century B.C. The book was written by Daniel. It records the events of Daniel’s life and the visions that he saw from the time of his exile in 605 B.C. (1:1) until 536 B.C., which was the third year of King Cyrus (10:1). The meaning of the Hebrew name Daniel is “God is Judge.”

The book’s central theme is God’s sovereignty over history, empires, and kings. All the kingdoms of this world will come to an end and will be replaced by the Lord’s kingdom, which will never pass away (2:44; 7:27). Though trials and difficulties will continue for God’s people up until the end, those who are faithful will be raised to glory, honor, and everlasting life in this final kingdom (12:1–3).

 

Reflect on this Scripture:

Daniel 6:6-28 (NRSV)

So the presidents and satraps conspired and came to the king and said to him, “O King Darius, live forever! All the presidents of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an interdict, that whoever prays to anyone, divine or human, for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be thrown into a den of lions. Now, O king, establish the interdict and sign the document, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, which cannot be revoked.” Therefore King Darius signed the document and interdict.

10 Although Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he continued to go to his house, which had windows in its upper room open toward Jerusalem, and to get down on his knees three times a day to pray to his God and praise him, just as he had done previously. 11 The conspirators came and found Daniel praying and seeking mercy before his God. 12 Then they approached the king and said concerning the interdict, “O king! Did you not sign an interdict, that anyone who prays to anyone, divine or human, within thirty days except to you, O king, shall be thrown into a den of lions?” The king answered, “The thing stands fast, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be revoked.” 13 Then they responded to the king, “Daniel, one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or to the interdict you have signed, but he is saying his prayers three times a day.”

14 When the king heard the charge, he was very much distressed. He was determined to save Daniel, and until the sun went down he made every effort to rescue him. 15 Then the conspirators came to the king and said to him, “Know, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no interdict or ordinance that the king establishes can be changed.”

16 Then the king gave the command, and Daniel was brought and thrown into the den of lions. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you faithfully serve, deliver you!” 17 A stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet and with the signet of his lords, so that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel. 18 Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; no food was brought to him, and sleep fled from him.

19 Then, at break of day, the king got up and hurried to the den of lions. 20 When he came near the den where Daniel was, he cried out anxiously to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God whom you faithfully serve been able to deliver you from the lions?” 21 Daniel then said to the king, “O king, live forever! 22 My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths so that they would not hurt me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no wrong.” 23 Then the king was exceedingly glad and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. 24 The king gave a command, and those who had accused Daniel were brought and thrown into the den of lions—they, their children, and their wives. Before they reached the bottom of the den the lions overpowered them and broke all their bones in pieces.

25 Then King Darius wrote to all peoples and nations of every language throughout the whole world: “May you have abundant prosperity! 26 I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people should tremble and fear before the God of Daniel:

For he is the living God,
enduring forever.
His kingdom shall never be destroyed,
and his dominion has no end.
27 He delivers and rescues,
he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth;
for he has saved Daniel
from the power of the lions.”

28 So this Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

 

Questions to Ponder:

What jumps out at you in the text?

What did the King stand for in his faith?

How did Daniel practice his faith?

From Daniel’s practice, what did he stand for in his faith?

What was the result in both cases?

 

Commentary:

This is a great Biblical story that many of us learned in our younger years.  So my times, as we grow older, we forget the great Bible stories that give us a look at the results of practicing our faith.  The beginning of the book reveals to us that Daniel was a dream interpreter for the Kings.  The King would call Daniel to listen to the King’s dream and then Daniel would give an accurate interpretation of it.  Basically, the King’s dreams were given by God to send a message to the King.  Obviously, some high officials did not like this practice, so they got the King to write an edict that would hopefully lead to Daniel’s death.  Isn’t it interesting how some people will go to great lengths to silence someone who says things that are not liked, albeit truth.  Looks like the Kings faith was in his supporting rulers and in himself, even though, Daniel had proven his worth to the King. Daniel’s faith was in his God.  In the practice of his faith to God, Daniel would pray three times a day.  Even in the face of disregarding the edict and the risk of the lion’s den, Daniel followed his faith and prayed.  When he was caught praying to his God, he was put in the lion’s den and left to be killed.  Holy Day!  The God to whom Daniel prayed caused the Lions mouths to be closed and Daniel was not killed by them.  The King was “overjoyed” that Daniel was alive.  It was the testimony of Daniel that gave witness to the King that God saved Daniel.  By the end of the story, the King retracted his original edict and affirmed a new edict that set Daniel’s God as the God to be revered.  For Daniel’s God was the God who saves.  It is because of Daniel’s practice of his faith in God, that Daniels life was changed, his integrity was affirmed by the King, and a nation was changed.  So why do we practice our faith, so God can work through us to touch the world with wisdom and grace. Even in the worst of times, God can work to do good through us as we practice our faith.

Remember: One compromise can easily lead to another compromise in your faith, while on the other hand, one act of faith can easily lead to another act of faith.

Think on this Scripture:

Romans 8:28 (NRSV)

28 We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.

 

Questions to Ponder:

How are you like Daniel, or the King?  How are you not?

What do you think about this statement, “one compromise can easily lead to another compromise in your faith, while on the other hand, one act of faith can easily lead to another act of faith?”

How do you practice your faith so that others know you are a follower of Christ and find good?

Describe a time when the power of God was working as you were practicing your faith.

What is the heart of the message in this story of Daniel for you?

 

Activity of for the life of a disciple:

1. Write on a piece of paper:

“Romans 8:28, 28 we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” Place it somewhere for you to read it every day.

2. What can you do this week that would help you in strengthening your practice of faith? What compromise will you get out of your life, starting this week, so that you can have a stronger witness for God?