Don’t be surprised if you don’t recognize the remainder of Daniel. Today’s reading marks a major shift in the content of Daniel. The second half of the book focuses on apocalyptic literature. It is the only Old Testament book with a significant emphasis on the apocalypse.
- This chapter shifts the book from the stories we learned as kids to the apocalyptic portion of Daniel.
- 1-8 – Foreign powers are no longer depicted favorably in Daniel.
- 9 – The Ancient of Days is God.
- 19-27 – The fourth beast represents Antiochus. Antiochus rises to power overtaking the faithful folks for a time, but ultimately, God prevails.
1 John 1:1-10:
- 1-4 – Here John confirms that God was made flesh in the person of Jesus. And John wants to share that message with everyone, which will make his joy complete.
- 5-7 – We can’t call ourselves faithful and continue to blatantly walk in sin. There’s also a rockin DC Talk song about this.
- 157-158 – The psalmist doesn’t allow others to turn him away from his commitment to God’s law.
- It’s pretty incredible that this is by far the longest psalm and it is almost exclusively about the psalmist’s love and commitment for God’s word.
- 23 – This contrasts a true friend versus someone who just offers lip service. One is helpful. The other is not.
Both Proverbs and 2 Peter remind us just how easy it is to fall into unfaithful traps. There are so many opportunities and influences asking us to walk away from the Lord. We have to be diligent and pay attention to our decisions and what’s going on around us in order to keep our eyes on Jesus.
- 1-5 – What a wonderful thing to be able to say about someone. We can’t find fault in him unless we make up something about regarding how faithful he is to God. Daniel was so faithful that there was no fault to be found in him.
- 6-9 – King Darius doesn’t think through the implications but makes a decision based on ego.
- 10-18 – King Darius is greatly distressed because of the consequences of his actions. He wants to save Daniel but he’s tied his own hands.
- 19-28 – Like with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Daniel’s faithfulness and God’s power work together to create a miracle that draws the king and so many others to faith.
2 Peter 3:1-18:
- 1-10 – The author addresses the concerns people were having regarding Jesus not having returned yet. The people at the time thought his return was imminent and some were getting impatient.
- 14-18 – We are to pay attention so we don’t follow anyone who twists God’s words or instructions.
- 136 – It should be painful to us to see others break God’s law. We should have great empathy for them and to hope to help them return to God in any way we can.
- 21 – This is an interesting verse because it tells us something not to do while also acknowledging how easy it is for us to slip into doing that wrong thing.
Remember the Garden of Eden way back in Genesis in January? That was something perfect and wonderful God gave Adam and Eve. As we know, they found a way to use what was good for evil. They ate the forbidden fruit, bringing sin into the world, and ultimately got kicked out of the garden. Twice in today’s readings we’ll learn about people using good things in ways they weren’t intended by God. First, the golden vessels from the temple in Daniel, and then money in Proverbs. How can you relate in your own life?
- 1 – King Belshazzar followed King Nebuchadnezzar.
- 2-4 – Clearly, this was not the original intent for the gold vessels. They were dedicated to God and now King Belshazzar is defiling them by throwing parties with them.
- 5-31 – Through a freaky happening, King Belshazzar gets bad news. Daniel is the only one who can explain the message from God. He is raised to a high rank in the kingdom.
2 Peter 2:1-22:
- 4-11 – We often think those who do evil get away with a lot, but this reminds us that God offers good things to the righteous and those who do evil receive punishment. It may not always be obvious.
- 17-22 – It is really bad to begin a life of righteousness and commit to Christ but then turn and act as if you never did.
- 114-120 – The psalmist contrasts his love for the law and the ability of those around him to draw him and others away from God.
- 19-20 – Like with many things, being rich is not bad and God doesn’t hate us for it. God looks at our intent and focus. He looks at what we put before him. If pursuit of money is before him, that’s a problem.
Because one time isn’t enough to hear this song, enjoy the musical version of a portion of today’s psalm:
- 1-3 – Remember, Nebuchadnezzar turned his allegiance to God after witnessing the miracle of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego not burning up in the fire.
- 4-27 – The king calls on Daniel to interpret his dream and it’s not favorable. Daniel must have been understandably scared to deliver the bad news to the king.
- 28-37 – Nebuchadnezzar still takes credit for the power of Babylon, which destroyed Israel and captured their people. God humbles him and reminds him who is truly in control.
2 Peter 1:1-21:
- 3-4 – God gives us insight into faithful living and what he wants from us for our own good and so we can follow him.
- 19-21 – This confirms that prophecies were given by God through the Holy Spirit. At this point, many prophecies had come true, but this was encouragement to continue to trust those that hadn’t.
- 97-104 – The psalmist continues to show great love for God’s commands. He realizes that this is where he can receive wisdom and protection.
- 105 – A familiar and beautiful verse proclaiming the great help Scripture can give us.
- 17 – Guilt of this kind of sin cannot be taken away.
We are often like little kids who get told ‘no’. Like us, they are appalled that someone would correct them from doing what they want to do. Today’s psalm reminds us that God’s commands are blessings to us and help keep us safe and blessed. Instead of seeing them as cramping our style, we should see them as gifts to make our lives the best they can possibly be.
- 9-14 – Though the Levites responsibilities for the temple were not completely revoked, they were punished for leading others to worship foreign gods and idols.
- 28-31 – God assured that the Levite priests were well taken care of so they didn’t need to acquire wealth anyway other than how God provided for them.
1 Peter 1:1-12:
- 1-2 – This letter was written by Peter or by someone whose faith originated from Peter’s ministry. People often attributed their works to their teachers or leaders.
- 6-9 – We can rejoice even when we face trials because our salvation means we have ultimate hope.
- 18-24 – When do we ever beg for God’s rules and commandments? We forget that they are blessings to us and are meant for our good.
- 10 – Throughout Scripture we are warned against leading others into sin.
In today’s reading, Ezekiel continues to describe his vision of the second temple. Though the details may seem tedious and like you’ve heard it all before, note that he talks about the separation between the holy and common in the temple. Isn’t it incredible that, when Jesus was crucified, the temple curtain was torn and anything that separated us from God was removed!?! Praise God for making a way to connect with us!
- 13-20 – The separation between the holy space and the common space was torn when Jesus died for our sins.
- 43:6-9 – The temple cannot hold the fullness of God, but simply his footstool.
- 1-6 – Those who are rich and cruel on earth have already experienced their blessings.
- 12 – We shouldn’t need anything or anyone else’s trustworthiness to assure our own. Instead, we should simply be trustworthy so people will trust us.
- 16-18 – Righteous prayers can seek forgiveness and healing and receive them. Prayers are powerful. This passage gives evidence of that
- 1-8 – The psalmist seems so eager to follow God’s commands and understands that blessings come from obedience.
- 6 – Though this sentiment is unpopular in our society, wealth is far less important than integrity.
Not everything we deal with or face is directly mentioned in the Bible. Gun violence is not mentioned…because there were no guns at the time. Today’s Ezekiel reading gives us a solid, though not exhaustive list of sins. Though we can’t get yes and no answers on every one of our questions on sin through this list, it does give us a good set of guidelines to start from.
- 5-9 – There are many more laws listed in other parts of the Old Testament, but this list is meant to be general guidelines. If you’ve done these things, God will look with favor upon you.
- 10-13 – Though not an exhaustive list of sins, definitely avoid these things.
- 14-20 – This is good news! There had been instances of people being punished for their parents’ sins.
- 26-29 – This reminds us that God is just and forgiving. Israel was the wicked one with every opportunity to turn away from sin. God would have forgiven them.
- This section explains the significance and practices associated with the Israelites’ temple. Jesus referred to himself as the temple when talking about being resurrected in three days. The past few days of Hebrews reading has explained how Jesus is a new edition of God’s plan to be connected with his people. This is a continuation of that.
- 32-43 – These are a continuation of the examples of Israel’s unfaithfulness.
- 44-48 – But there’s always hope in the end! God still offers forgiveness and opportunities for restoration.
- To have a friend you have to be a friend. And place a lot of value on those who are close and actually helpful rather than those who should be on paper, but actually aren’t.
Isaiah reminds us that our strength comes in repentance. Though it’s difficult and sometimes feels weak to admit wrong, do it anyway. Plus, Chicago encourages you to as well.
- 15-17 – Judah’s strength, and ours for that matter, is in repentance and humility before the Lord. Our strength is through him.
- 19-22 – Though the Israelites had faced a difficult time of oppression, God promises them that they will be restored to him. Vs. 21 is a powerful explanation of how God leads us through the Holy Spirit.
- 1-9 – The Kingdom of Judah feared the Assyrians, but God reminds them that their fear is misguided. They can trust in the protection of God no matter how scary their opponents are. They have no need to fear.
- 15-20 – Though so much of Isaiah speaks of punishment and difficulties the Israelites and other nations have brought upon themselves, there are glimmers of hope, like this passage, that remind the Israelites that there will be restoration one day.
- 1-12 – Once again, Assyria is in trouble.
- 1 – Christ died for us in order to set us free from the slavery of sin. Yet some of the Israelites were trying to put themselves back under the yolk of the law.
- 5-6 – We are no longer under any covenant other than that of Christ’s death and resurrection. We do not need to conform to those laws or practices, but simply need to rely on the grace of Christ.
- 7-12 – Like at the beginning of the letter, Paul is shocked that the Galatians have so quickly forgotten or turned away from what he taught them.
- 12 – This is obviously a little harsh, but also a play on the fact that those he opposes are teaching circumcision.
- 1-8 – David’s desire for God is unmatched by other followers. He equates his need for God with his need for sustenance.
Did God make a mistake by asking people to follow the law? If we’re not supposed to follow it now, why were people intended to follow it way back when? Today’s Galatians reading explains that the law was good, and though people were not able to follow it completely, it kept them within parameters until God sent Jesus, the ultimate fulfillment of the law.
- 1-12 – This prophecy tells of a time when God’s people will be brought back together. He will redeem them and squash the other nations who are harming and oppressing them.
- 7-15 – Here, the Israelites recognize the benefits of following the Lord. They begin to seek out the Lord and recognize things like God making their paths straight.
- 1-13 – God is clearly going to restore the Israelites, even those lost in battles and exile. He has plans to save them despite how bleak it looks during their punishments of exile.
- 10-14 – Paul is explaining that it is impossible for humans to obey the law fully and the law, by its nature, requires us to obey it fully. Thus, if we attempt to be justified through the law, we are doomed to fail.
- 21-22 – Paul explains that God didn’t give the law to the people in order to doom them. It was designed for them to follow but since they were unable, he gave them Jesus.
- 1-4 – A key theme of David’s psalms is that he trusts in the Lord for protection. He has clearly experienced this to be true and believes that God will continue to protect him.
- 17 – We often do envy sinners. Life seems easier for folks who actively engage in sin and it sometimes seems like they have all the fun. We are to look to something greater and longer term.
Bringing people with different views together is always difficult. Paul runs into this with the churches in Galatia. Were Jewish laws still necessary for new Christians? Find out in Galatians.