August 14th, 2007 • Category: Book of Daniel
by Tyler Connoley

Today’s scripture: Daniel 1:1-2 (NRSV) (The Message)

As you read, consider these questions: What might God be saying to me in this passage? What jumps out at me? At the end of the reading, try to summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two before reading on.

Editor’s note: Today we begin a new study of the Book of Daniel — a book of history and prophecy. It’s full of stories of political intrigue, kings and magicians, dreams and supernatural visions, and a fiery furnace and a den of lions. But most of all, it’s about the faithfulness of God. This was a message Israel needed at the time it was written, and it’s a message we can all use today. We hope that the study of this ancient book will be a blessing to you.

My thoughts on this passage (Tyler Connoley):

Although the author of Daniel tells us God allowed Jehoiakim to fall into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, that is certainly not the way it felt to the people of Judah. You might think the most devastating thing about the fall of Jerusalem would have been being taken into captivity, but there’s something even worse in these verses — the ransacking of the Temple.

By including this detail, the author of the Daniel tells us something about the mindset of the people of Judah at the time of the captivity. To them, the fact that God allowed the Temple to be ransacked would have been proof that God had been defeated. Think about what Jesus says in Matthew 12:29, “How can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property, without first tying up the strong man?” If the Temple was looted, then God must have been tied up! That’s what the people of Jerusalem would have thought.

Probably all of us can point to a time in our lives that felt like this. It was a time when we wanted to believe God was in charge. However, every sign pointed to the fact that God must be dead or defeated. If you’ve ever felt like that, then you have something in common with Daniel.

Another thing many gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people have in common with Daniel is the loss of family, coupled with spiritual insecurity. Many of us can relate to the experience of losing our families at the same time we lost our spiritual homes. Like Daniel, we found ourselves far from the comfortable religion we thought we would have for the rest of our lives, and without the support of the family we thought we could rely on. We were thrown into life in a foreign land, uncertain if God was strong enough to see us through, and even wondering if God had abandoned us entirely.

At the beginning of Daniel’s story, it’s hard to imagine the great things that will come. It’s hard to imagine Daniel will find people who will love him and support him. It’s even harder to imagine that the God who allowed the Temple to be ransacked could work mighty miracles in Daniel’s life. However, I’ve read the rest of the story, and I know the unimaginable is about to happen!

Thought for the day: Even when things look the most grim, we can expect God to do great things.

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to start, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.

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