Oct 25: 2Chr 21-22 | Dan 3 | Acts 1
Updated: Oct 18, 2021
Reading 1 - 2Ch 22
Concerning Athaliah (2Ch 22) GV Growcott writes: "The influence of a woman over a man may be tremendous, either for good or evil. It is a power that is unique. Applied in the right direction it can work wonders of transformation, and the quiet operation of this power for good may be many a woman's crown of salvation. But it is a two-edged sword and Athaliah portrays the other edge. How important, then, is marriage 'only in the Lord'!"
Reading 2 - Dan 3
"The story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego is a story we all know well. Who does not know how these three Hebrews were cast into the fiery furnace and came out alive? Familiarity with the story of the fiery furnace is one of two major obstacles which prevents us from benefiting from this passage as we should.
"We are told automobile accidents often happen close to home. Because we are so familiar with the area, we pay less attention. In the same way, familiar passages of Scripture may receive less of our attention. Christians, and many others, know the stories of David and Goliath, Samson and Delilah, and Jonah and the 'whale.' We may fail to grasp the meaning and message they were intended to convey because of our superficial understanding of the characters and events.
"A second barrier is our mentally filing the story of these three Hebrews under the category of 'fairy tale' or 'myth.' Some commentators candidly admit, even advocate, that this story is merely a myth, and not history. They, at least, are conscious of their perspective on this passage. But many of us have heard this story so often in Sunday School that we may have lumped Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego with Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel, and Goldilocks and the Three Bears...
"We must see this event as history, not fairy tale. We must feel the heat of that fire and smell the smoke of that ancient furnace" (Robert Deffinbaugh).
"But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon -- Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego -- who pay no attention to you, O king. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up" (Dan 3:12).
Picture the scene. On a huge plain Nebuchadnezzar had set up a huge statue of gold 27 meters high. This great image was imposed upon the landscape so that people from miles around could see it. Then the people were gathered into the plain and told to fall down before that image when they heard the music.
As the music began, the mass of standing people on the plain would suddenly fall down to the ground, leaving three men still standing in the midst of the crowd. With all the people down around their knees, these three would have stood out like great trees in a pasture, or like ships' masts on a smooth sea. What courage to stand apart in a situation like that!
It might have seemed to them like a good compromise, at that point, simply to have fallen down with the rest of the people, whilst telling themselves that they were not REALLY worshipping the image. But God does not want compromises. He wants all of us. With God it is all or nothing. These young men gave their all to God and were prepared to give their lives for him.
Let us not compromise our stand with God, but rather take our stand for Him and Him alone.
The absence of reference to Daniel here raises questions. Was he away on government business, was he occupied with pressing matters, or was he ill and unable to attend the ceremony? Did he enjoy such an exalted position or such favor with the king that these Chaldeans dared not accuse him? The writer did not explain this mystery. It was the response of Daniel's three Hebrew friends that he wanted to stress. It seems safe to assume that if Daniel had been present he would have responded as his three friends did.
"Then Nebuchadnezzar said, 'Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants!' " (Dan 3:28).
His question, asked only moments before, "What god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?" (v 15), is now answered by the king who asked it. Nebuchadnezzar blessed the God of these three Hebrews, as the God who had delivered them from death. He praised them for their faithfulness in obeying their God, even unto death. Significantly, the king praised these men for their exclusive (monotheistic) worship of their God. Unlike the rest, they were not willing to serve any other god in addition to the one God they worshipped and served.
"They trusted in him and defied the king's command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God' " (Dan 3:28).
The AV has "...and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God." This seems to be echoed in Rom 12:1: "I urge you, brothers... to offer [present] your bodies as living sacrifices..." The example of the three friends should be our example when we are confronted with trials and temptations to cause us to compromise our faith. Such action as they manifested was a "living sacrifice", by contrast to the sacrifices under the law of Moses -- which were usually dead animals.
And here, even before the great "idol" of the Babylonian king, the young Jews could offer themselves as the ultimate sacrifice to their faith! It is fascinating, then, to note that even the very presence of the "false god" was holy ground, because it was witness to a holy "sacrifice".
Reading 3 - Acts 1:9-12
"After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 'Men of Galilee,' they said, 'why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.' Then they returned to Jerusalem" (Acts 1:9-12).
Describing this same scene, Luke 24:52 adds, "Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy."
They had seen the heavenly glory and heard the heavenly voice. We are there with them. Now, history merges into eternity. We now hear the same voice, promising the same return. And we still wait for that return. Those men, and untold numbers of every age since, wait in the dust of the earth. We are yet alive, perhaps to hear the Trumpet, and the voice of the Archangel, when the Lord himself will descend from heaven. Will we be ready?