The glory of God is awesome. Ezekiel saw the massive living creatures moving at the speed of light on wheels full of eyes. Fire, wind, and lightning swirled around the creatures, while above them was the throne of God sitting on a crystal floor. What a glorious sight! Psalm 104:3 also describes God’s awesome glory: “You make the clouds your chariots; you ride upon the wings of the wind.”
We can contrast God’s glorious nature to the rebellious nature of humankind. God called the Israelites a “hard-hearted and stubborn people” (Ezekiel 2:4). When the Israelites were in the wilderness they rebelled against Moses, even though they could see the literal cloud and fire above them day and night.
Humanity should melt like wax before the awesome glory of God Almighty, but instead, people harden their hearts and rebel. The message of the Holy Spirit is “Today you must listen to his voice. Don’t harden your hearts against him as Israel did when they rebelled, when they tested God’s patience in the wilderness” (Hebrews 3:7-8). Soften your heart today and listen to His voice, for one day you will see His glory face-to-face!
Hebrews 4 reveals that rest is a precious commodity, stemming first from a promise (v. 1). God’s promises can give us rest and soothe our minds when we are troubled. After we receive the promise, however, we must combine it with faith (v. 2). Faith is the “fuel” in our “engine” that brings the promise to life. A promise without faith has no power, in the same way that an engine without fuel has no active energy.
We know that our faith is activating a promise when the result is rest. “For only we who believe can enter his place of rest” (v. 3). The moment our faith mixes with a promise, a perfect rest enters our hearts. All anxiety, frustration, fear, and worry depart, and God’s rest is ours.
God is not anxious about problems! When we believe His Word, we enter into His rest. Therefore, when we are troubled we must bring a promise to God’s throne, mix it with faith, and sit quietly in the rest of God until He performs it.
“Let us do our best to enter that place of rest” (Hebrews 4:11)!
God always starts His process of purifying in His own house. In the New Testament, Peter echoed that thought, saying that judgment must “begin first among God’s own children” (1 Peter 4:17). What a sober realization that judgment begins first among God’s people!
Ezekiel 9 speaks of a man dressed in linen who was carrying a writer’s case. The man was instructed to walk through the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the forehead of every person who had wept and sighed because of the sins they saw taking place around them (v. 4). Apparently, there were those who grieved deeply for the sins of their society.
The average person today has no concern for the gross immorality and debauchery existing in our society. Such an individual thinks homosexuality is “gay,” abortion is “necessary,” and drunkenness and adultery are “acceptable.” For God’s saints, however, these things should be repulsive and deeply grievous.
God marked Noah as righteous in his generation and spared only his family from the flood that enveloped the earth. Even now God is “marking the foreheads” of those whose lives are pure and who closely follow His commands.
Remember: This process begins in the sanctuary, so check your “mark” today.
Faith and patience are two wings of the same bird. You may not always experience instant results from your faith; in fact, more often than not, you must wait for the results. But with consistent faith and patience, you can obtain the results you need.
Abraham is a prime example of patient waiting. “Then Abraham waited patiently, and he received what God had promised” (Hebrews 6:15). First he had to wait, and then he received the promise. In the same way, it should not really matter to us when the Lord performs His Word. His timetable is perfect, and He is never late. What should matter is that we learn to relax in His promise and hold on to our confidence, which is like a “strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls” (v. 19).
Joseph’s life also illustrates the successful blend of faith with patience. The dreams and visions of his childhood seemed to be hidden forever as he languished in an Egyptian prison. The Word of God records, “There in prison, they bruised his feet with fetters and placed his neck in an iron collar. Until the time came to fulfill his word, the Lord tested Joseph’s character” (Psalm 105:18-19).
You must understand that the Word of God is testing your faith until it has passed the true test of its worth. Faith is patience in waiting on the promises. Therefore, time must pass to prove that your faith is patient.
Be encouraged today. Your patience for the promise will produce!
Think of the transition from rags to riches! The Israelites had lived in squalor and filth, yet suddenly they were draped in the gold, silver, and jewelry of the world’s richest nation.
God has a plan of financial blessing for His people. The blood of Jesus paid the price for our deliverance from the land of bondage. Consequently, we can expect our inheritance of provision. That provision begins with the giving of the tithe (Hebrews 7:2). Just as Abraham gave the tithe, or one-tenth, of the spoils of battle to Melchizedek, we give our tithes to the One who “lives on” (v. 8).
God always had His priests collect the tithe. Because we no longer have an earthly priesthood, Jesus, the great High Priest, is collecting the tithe. We give our tithes to the local church, referred to as the storehouse in Malachi 3:10, and Jesus receives them. Then, like Israel of old, we come under the covenant of God’s blessing.
Can God bless in any circumstance? Israel received an abundance of quail, manna, and water in the desert (Psalm 105:40-41). Can’t He meet our needs as well, if we are obedient with our tithes?
How do you react when someone corrects you? Are you threatened and defensive, or do you receive correction with a grateful heart?
God always “tells it like it is” to His people. He reminded Israel that she had at one time been like an infant cast out of doors, bloody and naked. His faithful concern for her brought her to maturity, adulthood, and prominence. Rejecting God’s faithfulness, however, Israel became faithless and was described in Ezekiel 16:32 as an “adulterous wife who takes in strangers instead of her own husband.” So corrupt was Israel that God compared her to a prostitute that insisted on paying her suitors (vv. 33-34)! These rebukes, harsh though they may seem, were intended to bring Israel back to repentance.
Those who whitewash sin and do not tell you the truth about yourself are actually contributing to your destruction. It is better to be rebuked openly if it causes your repentance and restoration. Look for friends who are willing to wound you with correction, rather than enemies who multiply kisses!
A friend’s courage in confronting you will produce a change in your character and may save you from eternal destruction. After all, doesn’t everyone have a blind side?
Three basic factors contribute to the destruction of a society, and Sodom had them all! Sodom was destroyed because its citizens were proud, lazy, and gluttonous.
When a people become proud, their intellects excuse them from standards of basic decency. The Sodomites grew so proud and arrogant that they thought they could leave the natural order of sexuality and engage in homosexuality. God, however, viewed their perverted ways as “loathsome” (Ezekiel 16:50).
In addition to being proud, the people of Sodom were lazy and unconcerned about others. Being so self-centered, they had little to do with their time. People who are bored and unconcerned about others gradually begin to live for pleasure.
Finally, the inhabitants of Sodom were overfed gluttons. They had so much bread and food that their entire lifestyle revolved around eating and pleasure. Though, of course, we need food, it is never to be the focus of our lives. As Christians, we should “eat to live,” not “live to eat”!
How can we guard against these three deadly diseases of society? We must continually humble ourselves in prayer before God. We must then work for the Kingdom of God, showing concern for and compassion to others and not just living for pleasure. We must regularly fast to remind ourselves that man shall not live by bread alone.
Prayer, godly work, and fasting are the “salt” that will preserve against the rot of condemned societies of the past.
Ezekiel reminds us that it is not the way people start in their walks with God, but the way they finish, that counts. When a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits sin, the righteous things he has done are no longer remembered.
Sitting back and resting on our spiritual laurels is a dangerous posture. How often have people served the Lord for perhaps a year, five years, ten years, or longer . . . and then, toward the end of their lives, thrown it all away?
Moses spent forty years in the wilderness being faithful in God’s house (Numbers 12:7). However, at the very end of the journey, he lost his composure in front of all Israel. “Rash words came from Moses’ lips” and “trouble came to Moses because of them” (Psalm 106:33, 32 NIV).
On the other hand, if there are people who spend their lives in wickedness but repent in the end, “All their past sins will be forgotten, and they will live because of the righteous things they have done” (Ezekiel 18:22).
Don’t be self-satisfied, thinking you cannot fall, and don’t condemn yourself, believing you cannot rise. Remain in an attitude of repentance, and you will make it to the end. “Put all your rebellion behind you, and get for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O people of Israel? I don’t want you to die, says the Sovereign Lord. Turn back and live!” (Ezekiel 18:31-32).
In Psalm 107, the psalmist lists four areas from which we are redeemed and for which we should praise the Lord. The first group of the redeemed were those who were wandering around the wilderness with nothing to eat (vv. 4-5). But when they cried to the Lord, He “rescued them from their distress” (v. 6). As our Provider, the Lord satisfies our hunger and thirst, both spiritually and physically. Praise the Lord for His provision!
The second group of the redeemed were those who were in emotional or physical bondage (v. 10). But when they called on the Lord, He “led them from the darkness and deepest gloom; he snapped their chains” (v. 14). He is our Deliverer, the One who can set us free from darkness, gloom, and depression and break our chains of bondage. Praise the Lord for His deliverance!
The third group were those who were so physically sick and diseased that they could no longer eat (vv. 17-18). They, too, cried to the Lord, and “He spoke and they were healed—snatched from the door of death” (v. 20). The Lord is our Healer, victorious over any affliction that attacks our bodies. Praise Him for His healing!
The last group included people who were confused by hopeless circumstances (vv. 23-27). When they cried out, “He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves” (v. 29). The Lord is our Light in the darkest storms of life. Praise Him for His guidance!
Are you hungry, bound, sick, or confused? The Lord is your Redeemer, and He wants you to praise Him!
This verse contains both a promise and a penalty. The encouraging part of the scripture is that God is looking for just one person who will be righteous and pray fervently for his nation. We sometimes wait for crowds and multitudes to join us in prayer, but God is looking for even one individual who will intercede for his country.
That one person must see himself as mediating a large gap between a holy God and a sinful nation destined for His judgment. What an important position! Because Moses willingly stood in such a gap, the nation of Israel was spared.
The sad reality of the situation in Ezekiel was that even though God needed only one person, He could not find a single one. Today may you and I be such an intercessor, knowing our rights in the new covenant of grace.
Always remember: You may be that person upon whom God is focused—the one who is holding back His wrath. Keep praying, for God is surely watching!
Deliberate sin brings dreadful punishment. Think of the beautiful things of God that sin tramples. First, deliberate sin “trampled on the Son of God” (Hebrews 10:29). The corporate sin and individual sins of all mankind were responsible for putting Jesus on the cross. Imagine punishing Christ all over again with your own hands and then simply walking over His precious body. Paul stated that when we commit willful sin, we are in effect “nailing the Son of God to the cross again by rejecting him, holding him up to public shame” (Hebrews 6:6).
Second, those who engage in willful sin have “treated the blood of the covenant as if it were common and unholy. Such people have insulted and enraged the Holy Spirit who brings God’s mercy to his people” (Hebrews 10:29). Jesus’ blood is the purest, most holy thing in the universe, and it has sealed an eternal pact with God. To deliberately sin is to act as if that blood were worthless.
Finally, deliberate sin insults the Spirit of grace. The Holy Spirit is so precious, forgiving, and long-suffering. To deliberately sin against the Lord is to offend, insult, and take advantage of the Spirit’s goodness. Judas acted in this way, and his judgment and that of others like him is recorded in Psalm 109:1-20.
Run from sin, not just for your own sake, but also because of the horrible shame and pain it will cause the God who gave His life in your place.
Can we be sure of something we cannot see? The certainty of faith goes beyond hope. Hope has to do with the future, our eternal reward once this life is over. In contrast, faith has to do with the present. The King James Version of Hebrews 11:1 begins with the phrase “Now faith.” If it’s not now, it’s not faith!
The entire concept of faith rests on being certain of the unseen, because all creation came into existence from things that are not seen (Hebrews 11:3). The fact that something is unseen does not make it unreal. God’s Word operates in the unseen realm, and faith in His Word is what brings those things into the seen realm.
It takes evidence, a piece of objective data in which you place your full confidence, to be certain of something you cannot see. The promises of the Bible must become your evidence and certainty even when your five senses see no tangible reality in the natural world.
Fix your attention on God’s promises until your hope graduates to become faith!
Ezekiel describes in a prophetic picture the beauty and perfection of Satan in the Garden of Eden. Leading the worship of God, Satan was clothed with garments decorated with beautiful stones, and some believe he was even covered in musical instruments. He was a “mighty angelic guardian” (Ezekiel 28:14), walking among the fiery stones that surround the throne of God.
Satan’s high position and beauty led him to imagine himself as the source of that beauty and position. Jesus said that He saw “Satan falling from heaven as a flash of lightning!” (Luke 10:18). And how great was that fall! He lost everything he could lose and was thrown to the earth, exposed to “the curious gaze of kings” (Ezekiel 28:17).
We must always remember the wisdom of showing reverence to the Lord. To Him alone belongs eternal praise (Psalm 111:10). It may sound like a simple lesson—to walk humbly in the fear of the Lord— but it is the one the devil never learned. To have the fear of the Lord means we always reverence Him as first and never take any praise for ourselves. If we will give God the glory, one day the Church will occupy the position Satan forfeited so long ago.
People come and go and are remembered for various contributions to society. However, the “huge crowd of witnesses” spoken of in Hebrews 12:1 are remembered for their mighty faith.
Think of the rich heritage recorded in the Scriptures of faith-filled believers. They were great men and women of character, endurance, vision, and accomplishment who “overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice . . . shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. . . .” (Hebrews 11:33-34).
Some were raised from the dead, and others chose death over betraying God, desiring a better resurrection (v. 35). They were unafraid of the saw, the sword, or the shame. They were willing to live in caves, mountains, and deserts and to clothe themselves in sheepskin or goatskin. Their powerful testimonies inspire us all.
Of course, the greatest Hero of faith is Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. His one, solitary life exemplifies a life of the greatest courage in adversity. “He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterward” (Hebrews 12:2).
Follow Jesus. Live for Him, and die for Him—and you also will be remembered forever.
No more awesome sight has ever occurred in history than when Mount Sinai began to shake and tremble under the power of God. Paul records, “Moses himself was so frightened at the sight that he said, ‘I am terrified and trembling’ ” (Hebrews 12:21). The entire mountain was covered with “flaming fire, darkness, gloom, and whirlwind” (v. 18). In addition, all the people “heard an awesome trumpet blast and a voice with a message so terrible that they begged God to stop speaking” (v. 19). This frightening demonstration of sound effects and raw power made even the bravest soul tremble and was intended to bring the Israelites to an unforgettable sense of reverence and godly fear.
Paul said, “Let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. For our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:28-29). In worship, we do not approach a physical mountain, but we come to the eternal mountain of God: Zion, “the heavenly Jerusalem” (v. 22).
One day we will stand before God Himself, the One who moves mountains. In the meantime, let us heed the words of the psalmist:
“Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Israel” (Psalm 114:7).
Leadership is an awesome responsibility. To stand before others as a leader implies two great responsibilities. First, Ezekiel said that a leader is a watchman (Ezekiel 33:2). The watchman’s job is to stand upon the wall and never relax his vigilance in looking for the enemy. The watchman is no respecter of persons, but he issues the warning for all to hear. If the watchman is sleeping, afraid, or unconcerned about giving the warning, the Lord will hold him accountable for the blood of his people.
The leader’s second responsibility is as a shepherd (Ezekiel 34:2). The leader is not only to lead but also to feed the flock of God. The leader who spends all his time and attention feeding himself neglects his flock. Ezekiel rebuked such leaders, saying, “You have not taken care of the weak. You have not tended the sick or bound up the broken bones. You have not gone looking for those who have wandered away and are lost. Instead, you have ruled them with force and cruelty” (v. 4). Shepherds should never be harsh, brutal, or uncaring, but rather they should serve as examples of kindness and concern to their flocks.
Leaders who fulfill the dual roles of watchman and shepherd should be highly respected. “Obey your spiritual leaders and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they know they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this joyfully and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit” (Hebrews 13:17).
Obey and pray for your watchman and shepherd, for your spiritual life is in his hands.
Are you going through a severe trial today? If so, your mind must settle certain issues. First, your reaction to the trial should be one of joy, for the testing of your faith develops perseverance (James 1:2-3). Rejoice when trials come your way, because without a test, there can be no testimony.
Second, you should remember that if you persevere and withstand the test, you will receive the crown of life (v. 12). All your earthly difficulties are simply adding jewels to your eternal crown and reward. That is a life-changing way to look at trials, now isn’t it?
Finally, you should never blame God for all your trials. He does not tempt you to sin and only gives you what is good. “Whatever is good and perfect comes to us from God above, who created all heaven’s lights” (v. 17). Always remember “how kind the Lord is! How good he is! So merciful, this God of ours!” (Psalm 116:5).
The summary of the matter? Trials are working in your character, they are temporary, and God is concerned about your trials. One day you will be on the other side of the trial, saying to yourself as the psalmist said, “Now I can rest again, for the Lord has been so good to me” (Psalm 116:7).
Ezekiel saw a massive valley of dry bones. What a picture of today’s Church—disconnected, dry, divided, and dead! The once-powerful army of the early Church has disintegrated into a fractured, feeble graveyard of spiritual relics.
Now must come the breath and life of God! Someone once said, “God does not breathe on anything that is not connected.” As believers in the Church of Jesus Christ, we must come back into relationship with one another, crossing racial, denominational, and even national lines of boundary. In Ezekiel, the connecting together of the dry bones brought muscle, tendons, breath, and balance back to the body. Then the revived body stood upright, a great army filled with the Spirit of God (Ezekiel 37:10).
How easy it is for the Church to become disconnected by economic status, race, or educational level. James corrected the believers who were favoring the rich over the poor in their congregational seating arrangements (James 2:3). The “royal law” tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 19:19); thus, the Church must provide for the daily physical and emotional needs of others. There can be no favoritism in extending the love of Christ to one group of people over another.
You cannot live disconnected from the rest of the Body of Christ. Look around, hook up, get involved, and feel the precious breath of God invigorating and empowering you!
James describes these seven pillars of wisdom (James 3:17) and contrasts them to the wisdom that is “earthly, unspiritual, and motivated by the Devil” (v. 15). First, wisdom is pure. Living a mixed, compromised lifestyle may appear smart, but it is not wise.
Second, wisdom is peace-loving. This attitude is in direct contrast to the world’s envy and selfish ambition, which results in “disorder and every kind of evil” (v. 16).
Third, wisdom is gentle. A wise person practices gentle courtesy and always considers the needs, desires, and feelings of others.
Fourth, wisdom is submissive. A person’s willingness to yield his will to the overall good of the family, community, or local church is a mark of true wisdom.
Fifth, wisdom is full of mercy and good fruit. A wise person will demonstrate obvious marks of goodness, charity, and forgiveness toward those who have injured him.
Sixth, wisdom is impartial, never valuing the face or status of someone instead of that person’s actual deed or need.
Finally, wisdom is sincere. A wise person is not hypocritical, but possesses a deep, inward authenticity. With him, what you see is what you get!
Establish your life on these seven pillars, and you will “plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of goodness” (v. 18).
Drawing close to the Lord should be your lifetime pursuit. Sometimes, however, that process is hindered. James writes about two stages you may have to pass through as you attempt to enter God’s presence.
First, James says to “humble yourselves before God” (James 4:7). Pride, lust, and friendship with the world will block your prayer requests. Also, you may be asking with wrong motives: “You want only what will give you pleasure” (v. 3). However, if you humble yourself and submit your life to God, then your requests will be made from right motivations.
Next, James says to “resist the Devil, and he will flee from you”
(v. 7). Satan may be hindering your requests from coming to pass, even though God has granted them. When Daniel prayed, his prayer was actually answered from the first day, but Satan hindered it from coming to pass for twenty-one days (Daniel 10:12-13).
After you humble yourself and resist the devil, you will be able to “draw close to God, and God will draw close to you” (James 4:8). God loves you and is waiting for you to draw near through the gate of the Lord!
Prayer is the mightiest force upon earth. It is powerful enough to help the troubled, the sick, or the sinner (James 5:13-16).
Elijah is an example of one of the most powerful “pray-ers” in the Bible. He was subject to the same human frailties that we experience when we pray: boredom, fatigue, discouragement, hunger, and thirst. However, so powerful a prayer warrior was he that when he prayed for no rain, “none fell for the next three and a half years!” (James 5:17).
Elijah was consistent for more than three years in holding back the rain through prayer. Then, during a seven-part prayer drama on Mount Carmel, he sent his servant to look for a cloud of rain over the Mediterranean. Six times the servant returned discouraged. Finally, Elijah’s prayer broke through, and the cloud of rain soaked the parched soil.
Our prayer goal? More than anything else, we must pray for those who have strayed from the truth of the Gospel and work to bring them back to right relationship with God (vv. 19-20).
Pray on, fervent Christian. The cloud of salvation is beginning to rise!
Serving the Lord is to be “no sweat”! God would not allow His servants who came before Him and ministered to Him to be in a sweating, fretful state of mind or body. We often think that serving God should tax our bodies, strain our relationships, bankrupt our finances, and cost us our sleep. Instead, Jesus said, “My yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light” (Matthew 11:30).
Peter said that we are to be joyful, even though we may have to go through many trials (1 Peter 1:6). Can you imagine rejoicing when you feel like weeping? Peter continued by telling us that we can be “happy with a glorious, inexpressible joy” (v. 8), even in the midst of a trial.
The psalmist expounds the third note in the heavenly chord of today’s reading: “If you will help me, I will run to follow your commands” (Psalm 119:32). Run? “Only children run,” you may say. Not so! Rejoice in God and run to Him with your worries and cares. The Christian life, though it can be difficult, should be “no sweat”!
A Christian’s appetite for the Word of God must be as voracious as a newborn baby’s craving for milk. A baby’s mouth snaps and its head jerks around the moment it senses nourishment is near. Similarly, baby birds open their mouths wide when their mothers return to the nest with food. The young of all species have an insatiable craving for food.
God’s Word is imperishable seed, the living and enduring Word of God. Nothing in this world will last, “but the word of the Lord will last forever” (1 Peter 1:25). God’s eternal Word is the diet of the human spirit. It changes us, enabling us to rid ourselves of “all malicious behavior and deceit” (2:1).
Peter’s admonition is that like newborn babies, we are to crave spiritual milk so we may grow up in our salvation (2:2). A baby drinking from a bottle is cute, but an adult drinking from a bottle is definitely not cute! We’ve got to grow up in Christ. David said, “How I delight in your commands! How I love them!” (Psalm 119:47). Love for God and His commands will cause us to hunger for the Word of God that will mature us.
Make God’s Word your staple. Crave it, love it, and feed on it. You will find yourself growing into a new person!
Ezekiel saw a vision of a river flowing eastward from the threshold of the temple. The river measured varying depths, and we can use this analogy to examine the level of our relationship with God.
First, we may be splashing around in the shallow, “ankle-deep” water with God. Our goal may be just to follow the crowd and have a good time as long as it lasts!
Hopefully, we decide to venture farther into the river and move into the “knee-deep” water. This gets us involved in the local church through regular attendance, prayer, and fellowship.
Third, we may dare to wade deeper into the river. The “waistdeep” water involves areas such as commitment, Bible study, personal prayer, and discipline of character.
The last area is water that is deep enough to swim in. We now come to the area of leadership and fulfilling life’s calling. This is the area of faith—the area where we are in water “over our heads” and totally dependent upon God.
Some may be satisfied to simply splash around in the river of God, but you will never be truly satisfied until you fulfill your purpose. Dive in! The water is fine!
Daniel and his friends were men of integrity. Captured by the armies of Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, Daniel and three others from Judah’s royal family were ordered to live in the king’s palace for a three-year training period. Early on they resolved not to defile themselves with the royal food and wine offered by the king’s servants (Daniel 1:8). Everything about these young men testified of the good, wholesome will of God in their lives. Then came the time for their testing.
Satan did everything he could to destroy them and their influence with the king. It seemed as though their doom was sealed until Daniel spoke to the captain of the guard with “wisdom and discretion” (2:14). His wise words won him and his friends a stay of execution. Later that night the Lord revealed the king’s disturbing dream to Daniel. As a result, instead of being harmed, Daniel and his friends were promoted!
When you come under persecution, be certain you are pursuing God’s good will with all your heart. He will give you the favor you need with whoever is responsible. “The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and his ears are open to their prayers. But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil” (1 Peter 3:12).
Peter said we shouldn’t be surprised or afraid at the painful things that happen in our lives. One way or another, we will all come face to face with a “trial by fire,” a moment in our lives when we decide if serving God is worth losing everything.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walked through a fiery trial. The three young Hebrew men reached a quality decision before the king: “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. . . . But even if he doesn’t, Your Majesty can be sure that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up”
(Daniel 3:17-18). The courageous young men had determined that whether the trial burned them or they burned the trial, they were going to serve God!
Once you have decided that you are going to withstand any trial and realize that “these trials will make you partners with Christ in his suffering” (1 Peter 4:13), nothing Satan throws at you can affect you. In fact, you will find that Jesus is there in the fire with you (Daniel 3:25). The only things you will lose in the fire are your chains, for they will be burned off!
The stump in this dream typified King Nebuchadnezzar. His pride had brought him to the point of his becoming obnoxious to God. Indeed, he ruled the entire known world and lived in the most magnificent city in the world. His construction of the hanging gardens of Babylon is still considered one of the eight wonders of the world. However, the time came when God had to humble him.
Nebuchadnezzar may have been king, but God is “Chairman” of the “Ways and Means Committee”! He is in charge, and “he is able to humble those who are proud” (Daniel 4:37). God removed Nebuchadnezzar’s intellect and made him eat grass like a cow for seven years. In His mercy, however, He did not totally destroy him, but left him as a stump, restoring everything to him the moment the trial was over.
You may feel like you have lost everything, but in fact, your stump is still intact. God may have disciplined you, but He still loves you. And when God restores you, it will be with “even greater honor than before” (v. 36).
Cheer up, all you “stumps.” The best is yet to be!
When the fingers of a human hand wrote on the plaster of the wall, King Belshazzar’s face “turned pale with fear. Such terror gripped him that his knees knocked together and his legs gave way beneath him”
(Daniel 5:5-6). Even the bravest sinner is terrified before the pure revelation of God’s justice.
How often people mock God as though He were some senile puppy hiding under the porch! Their ignorance only displays their lack of understanding of His long-suffering. Someone once said, “Never mistake the long-suffering of God for His approval.” Those who persist in wrongdoing, counting on God’s mercy to overlook their sins, will one day be forced to account for their actions. “Their destruction is their reward for the harm they have done” (1 Peter 2:13).
When Belshazzar touched the holy vessels of the temple of God (Daniel 5:3-4), he crossed the line with God. He met the same fate as did the rebellious angels, the people of Noah’s day, and Sodom and Gomorrah. Belshazzar pushed the mercy of God over the line, and God’s mercy turned to judgment.
Walk before God in fear and trembling, for He is an awesome God.
Daniel’s final instance of supernatural deliverance is perhaps the most instructive. In everything he did, Daniel was above reproach. He was trustworthy, incorruptible, and honest. His lifestyle, decisions, moral standards, honesty, and work ethic were unmatched.
When extreme persecution came into Daniel’s life, it was because of his righteousness, not because of some fault in the way he conducted his life. This purity became his confidence in the time of trouble. In the dark night of the lion’s den, the angel of the Lord was with Daniel. “My God sent his angel to shut the lions’ mouths so that they would not hurt me, for I have been found innocent in his sight” (Daniel 6:22).
Your integrity is your shield. Peter said, “Make every effort to live a pure and blameless life. And be at peace with God” (2 Peter 3:14). If you will work on the “pure and blameless” part, God will work on the “delivering” part!
When the enemy seems to have the upper hand, search your heart. If it is innocent and pure before God, you can proclaim with the psalmist, “Those lawless people are coming near to attack me; they live far from your law. But you are near, O Lord, and all your commands are true” (Psalm 119:150-151).
There were four major world kingdoms in the ancient world: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. Daniel saw each of these kingdoms in animal form. The last kingdom, the Roman Empire, was an empire that was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns.
In world history, Rome ceased to exist as an empire centuries ago. However, in biblical prophecy, from this last empire will arise a world ruler spoken of as the “little horn,” or Antichrist. The Roman Empire is still around in seed form, and during the close of time, it will revive again as a league of ten nations.
The Antichrist will arise from these ten nations, and his boastful mouth will seek to exalt himself as God. He will be destroyed only by a direct intervention of the Ancient of Days. The world has seen some awful dictators in its short history—Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot, and others—but this world dictator will crush all opposition to his rule.
It’s good to be on the Lord’s side. We know the end from the beginning, and the good news is that we win!