The Book of Daniel isn’t the easiest book in the Bible to read and understand. Having said that, don’t you always enjoy the story of the young Jewish captives standing tall for God in Babylon? The drama of their fiery furnace ordeal and triumph is awesome. It’s hard to beat the story of the hungry lions that left older Daniel uneaten and unharmed. Even the story of the mysterious hand that wrote a message on the party-hall wall and crashed the King’s big evening — well, it is just one of those classic stories that has lasting appeal and meaning.
But Daniel is also a key book for those who enjoy history and the study of future events.
In Chapter 11, Daniel writes about a future event that is now history for us. He told about a wicked ruler who would come into Jerusalem and attack the worship of God in the Holy Temple.
History tells us that Daniel was prophesying about a vile ruler named Antiochus IV, Epiphanes. He sacrificed a pig in the Holy Temple to the horror of the Jews; erected a large statue of Zeus for people to worship and promoted degraded participation in Greek games – all very offensive to the Jews. But sadly, many Jews succumbed to this evil man and his idolatry. The good news is – some didn’t! Why did some have the strength to stand?
Here’s a great verse for the day. It is just as true today as it was back then:
But the people that know their God shall be strong and carry out great exploits. Daniel 11:32
Mattathias Maccabaeus was one of those people who knew his God along with his five sons. Not an overpowering army by any stretch of the imagination! But this little group who knew their God exhibited outstanding courage and did numerous exploits.
Repeatedly, this family unit was able to defeat the much larger armies of the wicked Antiochus. Within three years they were able to cleanse and purify the Holy Temple. On December 25th, 165 B.C. the Temple in Jerusalem was ready for worship services once again. Jews today still celebrate this event on December 25th – they call it Hanukkah.
Christians in our day who know their God are strong and are doing great exploits for God. The term ‘great exploits’ conjures up images of major, highly publicized triumphs. But behind-the-scenes Christians or those living godly lives in obscurity – those who know their God intimately are also strong, and great are their unseen exploits for the Lord.
In our efforts to climb the ladder of success we may expend much energy and many hours getting to know the ‘who’s who’ in our town or in our industry. But the most powerful thing I can do as a Christian is to spend hours getting to know my God.
Today, I need to make sure the vertical audio connection is left ‘on’ each day. Whether we are communing with Him during our specific private devotional hour each day or spontaneously interacting with Him as we walk, run, drive, sit or stand – we should consciously bring God into our thought life. We should be breathing little five-second prayers, requests, and thank-yous to the Lord throughout the day.
When I am reading my Bible each day, my prayer should be:
“Lord, as I read today, help me to get to know You better. Deepen my understanding of Your Person. I want to love what You love and be repulsed by that which is offensive to Your Holy Character.”
We get to know God more and more by reading His Word and studying His dealings with people and nations throughout the centuries. We become more intimate with God as we enjoy the Lord Jesus Christ more and more. (2Corinthians 3:18) We get to know God more and more by communicating often with Him.
Knowing God is a real relationship. It is not merely knowing facts about God; that is intellectual knowledge. Knowing God is relational and experiential. My strength as a believer and my usefulness for God is directly proportionate to the degree to which I am experiencing and enjoying God in my life.
Jeremiah records this:
Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 9:23-24
Walk carefully and closely with the Lord today,
Warmly in Christ
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