lantern shining in the darkness August 3 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Jeremiah 35; 2Kings 24:1-4; 2Chronicles 36:6-7; Daniel 1, 2

Lights in the Darkness

Every day in evil cultures around the world there are Christians who are shining lights. Faithful mothers and fathers try to raise their children to be godly citizens in a hedonistic society, and others gently care for their aged parents, giving them honor and dignity. Laborers faithfully put in an honest day's work and provide an invaluable resource. Pastors and other church workers minister faithfully to the needs of their church, going above and beyond what might be expected. In these instances and many others there are some faithful people, even in evil cultures.

Up to this point in our Bible studies in Jeremiah we have seen both Israel and Judah as obstinate nations who refused to repent. However, there were some shining lights, some good men in bad times. The Recabites and Daniel and his three Hebrew friends were shining lights in the darkness of their times.

The Recabites were a nomadic people. As other nations, they also faced the threat of a Babylonian invasion. However, instead of fleeing to an ungodly country like Egypt for their deliverance, they sought refuge in Jerusalem, the city of God. They were a righteous people, seeking to completely obey the instructions of their forefather, who was a godly man. They were shining lights in a dark time and served as an example to the people. If the Israelites had obeyed God as the Recabites did their forefather, God would have been pleased to bless them. As he did the Recabites, God is pleased to bless those who are good examples of godly obedience.

Nebuchadnezzar attacked Jerusalem and carried away King Jehoiakim (initially, though he was quickly re-instated), some of the precious articles of the temple, and the most excellent young men of Judah (princes and other nobility). Among these refugees were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. “The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego,” (Daniel 1:7, NIV).

Daniel and his three young friends became shining lights in the dark culture of Babylon. They gently negotiated their diet with the chief official who had been placed over them. They did not want to eat defiled meat knowing that God did not allow it. And because they sought to obey God rather than men, God blessed them with greater health than all the other youth, and he gave them surpassing wisdom and understanding, and to Daniel he granted the ability to interpret dreams.

In his second year as king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar had a troubling dream about a great imposing statue made of various metals from head to toe. His own wise men and fortune tellers could not interpret the dream for him, and Nebuchadnezzar refused to help them by disclosing it. When no one stepped forward with an interpretation, he decided to kill all the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers, astrologers, and wise men of the kingdom, including Daniel and his three friends. Daniel, however, sought an audience with the king to interpret his dream. He and his friends prayed fervently that night, and the LORD revealed the dream and its interpretation to Daniel.

Daniel then appeared before the king.

The king asked Daniel (also called Belteshazzar), “Are you able to tell me what I saw in my dream and interpret it?”

Daniel replied, “No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries.” (Daniel 2:26-28a, NIV)

When Daniel rightly revealed and interpreted the dream to king Nebuchadnezzar, the king sought to give Daniel the credit. Daniel would have none of that, however; he gave glory to God, the revealer of dreams. Daniel was indeed a remarkable man. He sought no glory for himself but God’s glory. For this, God rewarded him with honor, and he and his friends were placed in prominent positions in the kingdom. From there they could rule with kindness and wisdom over the people (many were their fellow Jewish captives). Here Daniel remained for the entire seventy years of Jewish captivity, serving in government and being a light in a dark place. This light was kindness and preservation for the exiles. Are you willing to live such a good life of integrity and righteousness that you could serve as a light in a dark place? Will your light give some hope to your community or to those oppressed? The light of the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ gives hope (more...). Are you sharing that light? (For more insights into the miraculous preservation of the Jewish people through the ages, go to divine-preservation-of-jewish-people)

Lessons to live by:

  • Those who are shining lights often times expose the darkness of their culture and are not popular. God, however, is your strength and protection.
  • God is pleased to bless those who are good examples of godly obedience in their cultures.
  • Live such a good life of integrity and righteousness that you could serve as a light of hope in a dark place.

Today’s Bible memory verse: Psalm 4:6 “Many are asking, ‘Who can show us any good?’ Let the light of your face shine upon us, O LORD.” (NIV)

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