Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Daniel 12 Today

The Time of the End

1"At that time Michael, the archangel F59 who stands guard over your nation, will arise. Then there will be a time of anguish greater than any since nations first came into existence. But at that time every one of your people whose name is written in the book will be rescued. 2Many of those whose bodies lie dead and buried will rise up, some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3Those who are wise will shine as bright as the sky, and those who turn many to righteousness will shine like stars forever. 4But you, Daniel, keep this prophecy a secret; seal up the book until the time of the end. Many will rush here and there, and knowledge will increase."

5Then I, Daniel, looked and saw two others standing on opposite banks of the river. 6One of them asked the man dressed in linen, who was now standing above the river, "How long will it be until these shocking events happen?"

7The man dressed in linen, who was standing above the river, raised both his hands toward heaven and took this solemn oath by the one who lives forever: "It will go on for a time, times, and half a time. When the shattering of the holy people has finally come to an end, all these things will have happened."

8I heard what he said, but I did not understand what he meant. So I asked, "How will all this finally end, my lord?"

9But he said, "Go now, Daniel, for what I have said is for the time of the end. 10Many will be purified, cleansed, and refined by these trials. But the wicked will continue in their wickedness, and none of them will understand. Only those who are wise will know what it means.

11"From the time the daily sacrifice is taken away and the sacrilegious object that causes desecration F60 is set up to be worshiped, there will be 1,290 days. 12And blessed are those who wait and remain until the end of the 1,335 days!

13"As for you, go your way until the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days, you will rise again to receive the inheritance set aside for you."

F59: Hebrew the great prince.
F60: Hebrew the abomination of desolation.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Daniel 11 Today's Daily Bread

Kings of the South and North

12"Now then, I will reveal the truth to you. Three more Persian kings will reign, to be succeeded by a fourth, far richer than the others. Using his wealth for political advantage, he will stir up everyone to war against the kingdom of Greece. F53

3"Then a mighty king will rise to power who will rule a vast kingdom and accomplish everything he sets out to do. 4But at the height of his power, his kingdom will be broken apart and divided into four parts. It will not be ruled by the king's descendants, nor will the kingdom hold the authority it once had. For his empire will be uprooted and given to others.

5"The king of the south will increase in power, but one of this king's own officials will become more powerful than he and will rule his kingdom with great strength.

6"Some years later, an alliance will be formed between the king of the north and the king of the south. The daughter of the king of the south will be given in marriage to the king of the north to secure the alliance, but she will lose her influence over him, and so will her father. She will be given up along with her supporters. 7But when one of her relatives F54 becomes king of the south, he will raise an army and enter the fortress of the king of the north and defeat him. 8When he returns again to Egypt, he will carry back their idols with him, along with priceless gold and silver dishes. For some years afterward he will leave the king of the north alone.

9"Later the king of the north will invade the realm of the king of the south but will soon return to his own land. 10However, the sons of the king of the north will assemble a mighty army that will advance like a flood and carry the battle as far as the enemy's fortress. 11Then the king of the south, in great anger, will rally against the vast forces assembled by the king of the north and will defeat them. 12After the enemy army is swept away, the king of the south will be filled with pride and will have many thousands of his enemies killed. But his success will be short lived.

13"A few years later, the king of the north will return with a fully equipped army far greater than the one he lost. 14At that time there will be a general uprising against the king of the south. Lawless ones among your own people will join them in order to fulfill the vision, but they will not succeed. 15Then the king of the north will come and lay siege to a fortified city and capture it. The best troops of the south will not be able to stand in the face of the onslaught.

16"The king of the north will march onward unopposed; none will be able to stop him. He will pause in the glorious land of Israel, intent on destroying it. 17He will make plans to come with the might of his entire kingdom and will form an alliance with the king of the south. He will give him a daughter in marriage in order to overthrow the kingdom from within, but his plan will fail.

18"After this, he will turn his attention to the coastal cities and conquer many. But a commander from another land will put an end to his insolence and will cause him to retreat in shame. 19He will take refuge in his own fortresses but will stumble and fall, and he will be seen no more.

20"His successor will be remembered as the king who sent a tax collector to maintain the royal splendor, but after a very brief reign, he will die, though neither in battle nor open conflict.

21"The next to come to power will be a despicable man who is not directly in line for royal succession. But he will slip in when least expected and take over the kingdom by flattery and intrigue. 22Before him great armies will be swept away, including a covenant prince. 23By making deceitful promises, he will make various alliances. With a mere handful of followers, he will become strong. 24Without warning he will enter the richest areas of the land and do something that none of his predecessors ever did—distribute among his followers the plunder and wealth of the rich. He will plot the overthrow of strongholds, but this will last for only a short while.

25"Then he will stir up his courage and raise a great army against the king of the south. The king of the south will go to battle with a mighty army, but to no avail, for plots against him will succeed. 26Those of his own household will bring his downfall. His army will be swept away, and many will be killed. 27Seeking nothing but each other's harm, these kings will plot against each other at the conference table, attempting to deceive each other. But it will make no difference, for an end will still come at the appointed time.

28"The king of the north will then return home with great riches. On the way he will set himself against the people of the holy covenant, doing much damage before continuing his journey.

29"Then at the appointed time he will once again invade the south, but this time the result will be different. 30For warships from western coastlands F55 will scare him off, and he will withdraw and return home. But he will vent his anger against the people of the holy covenant and reward those who forsake the covenant. 31His army will take over the Temple fortress, polluting the sanctuary, putting a stop to the daily sacrifices, and setting up the sacrilegious object that causes desecration. F56 32He will flatter those who have violated the covenant and win them over to his side. But the people who know their God will be strong and will resist him.

33"Those who are wise will give instruction to many. But for a time many of these teachers will die by fire and sword, or they will be jailed and robbed. 34While all these persecutions are going on, a little help will arrive, though many who join them will not be sincere. 35And some who are wise will fall victim to persecution. In this way, they will be refined and cleansed and made pure until the time of the end, for the appointed time is still to come.

36"The king will do as he pleases, exalting himself and claiming to be greater than every god there is, even blaspheming the God of gods. He will succeed—until the time of wrath is completed. For what has been determined will surely take place. 37He will have no regard for the gods of his ancestors, or for the god beloved of women, or for any other god, for he will boast that he is greater than them all. 38Instead of these, he will worship the god of fortresses—a god his ancestors never knew—and lavish on him gold, silver, precious stones, and costly gifts. 39Claiming this foreign god's help, he will attack the strongest fortresses. He will honor those who submit to him, appointing them to positions of authority and dividing the land among them as their reward. F57

40"Then at the time of the end, the king of the south will attack him, and the king of the north will storm out against him with chariots, cavalry, and a vast navy. He will invade various lands and sweep through them like a flood. 41He will enter the glorious land of Israel, and many nations will fall, but Moab, Edom, and the best part of Ammon will escape. 42He will conquer many countries, and Egypt will not escape. 43He will gain control over the gold, silver, and treasures of Egypt, and the Libyans and Ethiopians F58 will be his servants.

44"But then news from the east and the north will alarm him, and he will set out in great anger to destroy many as he goes. 45He will halt between the glorious holy mountain and the sea and will pitch his royal tents there, but while he is there, his time will suddenly run out, and there will be no one to help him.

F53: Hebrew of Javan.
F54: Hebrew a branch from her roots.
F55: Hebrew from Kittim.
F56: Hebrew the abomination of desolation.
F57: Or at a price.
F58: Hebrew Cushites.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Daniel 10 Today

Daniel's Vision of a Messenger

1In the third year of the reign of King Cyrus of Persia, Daniel (also known as Belteshazzar) had another vision. It concerned events certain to happen in the future—times of war and great hardship—and Daniel understood what the vision meant.

2When this vision came to me, I, Daniel, had been in mourning for three weeks. 3All that time I had eaten no rich food or meat, had drunk no wine, and had used no fragrant oils. 4On April 23, F45 as I was standing beside the great Tigris River, 5I looked up and saw a man dressed in linen clothing, with a belt of pure gold around his waist. 6His body looked like a dazzling gem. From his face came flashes like lightning, and his eyes were like flaming torches. His arms and feet shone like polished bronze, and his voice was like the roaring of a vast multitude of people.

7I, Daniel, am the only one who saw this vision. The men with me saw nothing, but they were suddenly terrified and ran away to hide. 8So I was left there all alone to watch this amazing vision. My strength left me, my face grew deathly pale, and I felt very weak. 9When I heard him speak, I fainted and lay there with my face to the ground.

10Just then a hand touched me and lifted me, still trembling, to my hands and knees. 11And the man said to me, "O Daniel, greatly loved of God, listen carefully to what I have to say to you. Stand up, for I have been sent to you." When he said this to me, I stood up, still trembling with fear.

12Then he said, "Don't be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer. 13But for twenty-one days the spirit prince F46 of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, F47 came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia. F48 14Now I am here to explain what will happen to your people in the future, for this vision concerns a time yet to come."

15While he was speaking to me, I looked down at the ground, unable to say a word. 16Then the one who looked like a man F49 touched my lips, and I opened my mouth and began to speak. I said to the one standing in front of me, "I am terrified by the vision I have seen, my lord, and I am very weak. 17How can someone like me, your servant, talk to you, my lord? My strength is gone, and I can hardly breathe."

18Then the one who looked like a man touched me again, and I felt my strength returning. 19"Don't be afraid," he said, "for you are deeply loved by God. Be at peace; take heart and be strong!" As he spoke these words, I suddenly felt stronger and said to him, "Now you may speak, my lord, for you have strengthened me."

20He replied, "Do you know why I have come? Soon I must return to fight against the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia, and then against the spirit prince of the kingdom of Greece. F50 21But before I do that, I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth. (There is no one to help me against these spirit princes except Michael, your spirit prince. F51 1I have been standing beside Michael F52 as his support and defense since the first year of the reign of Darius the Mede.)

F45: Hebrew On the twenty-fourth day of the first month. This date in the book of Daniel can be cross-checked with dates in surviving Persian records and can be related accurately to our modern calendar. This day of the Hebrew lunar calendar occurred on April 23, 536 B.C.
F46: Hebrew the prince; also in 10:13c, 20.
F47: Hebrew the chief princes.
F48: As in one Greek version; Hebrew reads and I was left there with the kings of Persia. The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.
F49: As in most manuscripts of the Masoretic Text; one manuscript of the Masoretic Text and one Greek version read Then something that looked like a human hand.
F50: Hebrew of Javan.
F51: Hebrew against these except Michael, your prince.
F52: Hebrew him.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Daniel 9 Today

Daniel's Prayer for His People

1It was the first year of the reign of Darius the Mede, the son of Ahasuerus, who became king of the Babylonians. F34 2During the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, was studying the writings of the prophets. I learned from the word of the LORD, as recorded by Jeremiah the prophet, that Jerusalem must lie desolate for seventy years. F35 3So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and fasting. I wore rough sackcloth and sprinkled myself with ashes.

4I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed: "O Lord, you are a great and awesome God! You always fulfill your promises of unfailing love to those who love you and keep your commands. 5But we have sinned and done wrong. We have rebelled against you and scorned your commands and regulations. 6We have refused to listen to your servants the prophets, who spoke your messages to our kings and princes and ancestors and to all the people of the land.

7"Lord, you are in the right; but our faces are covered with shame, just as you see us now. This is true of us all, including the people of Judah and Jerusalem and all Israel, scattered near and far, wherever you have driven us because of our disloyalty to you. 8O LORD, we and our kings, princes, and ancestors are covered with shame because we have sinned against you. 9But the Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him. 10We have not obeyed the LORD our God, for we have not followed the laws he gave us through his servants the prophets. 11All Israel has disobeyed your law and turned away, refusing to listen to your voice. "So now the solemn curses and judgments written in the law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out against us because of our sin. 12You have done exactly what you warned you would do against us and our rulers. Never in all history has there been a disaster like the one that happened in Jerusalem. 13Every curse written against us in the law of Moses has come true. All the troubles he predicted have taken place. But we have refused to seek mercy from the LORD our God by turning from our sins and recognizing his truth. 14The LORD has brought against us the disaster he prepared, for we did not obey him, and the LORD our God is just in everything he does.

15"O Lord our God, you brought lasting honor to your name by rescuing your people from Egypt in a great display of power. But we have sinned and are full of wickedness. 16In view of all your faithful mercies, Lord, please turn your furious anger away from your city of Jerusalem, your holy mountain. All the neighboring nations mock Jerusalem and your people because of our sins and the sins of our ancestors.

17"O our God, hear your servant's prayer! Listen as I plead. For your own sake, Lord, smile again on your desolate sanctuary.

18"O my God, listen to me and hear my request. Open your eyes and see our wretchedness. See how your city lies in ruins—for everyone knows that it is yours. We do not ask because we deserve help, but because you are so merciful.

19"O Lord, hear. O Lord, forgive. O Lord, listen and act! For your own sake, O my God, do not delay, for your people and your city bear your name."

Gabriel's Message about the Exile

20I went on praying and confessing my sin and the sins of my people, pleading with the LORD my God for Jerusalem, his holy mountain. 21As I was praying, Gabriel, whom I had seen in the earlier vision, came swiftly to me at the time of the evening sacrifice. 22He explained to me, "Daniel, I have come here to give you insight and understanding. 23The moment you began praying, a command was given. I am here to tell you what it was, for God loves you very much. Now listen, so you can understand the meaning of your vision.

24"A period of seventy sets of seven F36 has been decreed for your people and your holy city to put down rebellion, to bring an end to sin, to atone for guilt, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to confirm the prophetic vision, and to anoint the Most Holy Place. F37 25Now listen and understand! Seven sets of seven plus sixty-two sets of seven F38 will pass from the time the command is given to rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One F39 comes. Jerusalem will be rebuilt with streets and strong defenses, F40 despite the perilous times.

26"After this period of sixty-two sets of seven, F41 the Anointed One will be killed, appearing to have accomplished nothing, and a ruler will arise whose armies will destroy the city and the Temple. The end will come with a flood, and war and its miseries are decreed from that time to the very end. 27He will make a treaty with the people for a period of one set of seven, F42 but after half this time, he will put an end to the sacrifices and offerings. Then as a climax to all his terrible deeds, F43 he will set up a sacrilegious object that causes desecration, F44 until the end that has been decreed is poured out on this defiler."

F34: Or the Chaldeans.
F35: See Jer 25:11-12; 29:10.
F36: Hebrew 70 sevens.
F37: Or the Most Holy One.
F38: Hebrew Seven sevens plus 62 sevens.
F39: Or an anointed one.
F40: Or and a moat, or and trenches.
F41: Hebrew After 62 sevens.
F42: Hebrew for one seven.
F43: Hebrew on the wing of abominations; the meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.
F44: Hebrew an abomination of desolation.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Daniel 8 Today

Daniel's Vision of a Ram and Goat

1During the third year of King Belshazzar's reign, I, Daniel, saw another vision, following the one that had already appeared to me. 2This time I was at the fortress of Susa, in the province of Elam, standing beside the Ulai River. F29

3As I looked up, I saw in front of me a ram with two long horns standing beside the river. F30 One of the horns was longer than the other, even though it had begun to grow later than the shorter one. 4The ram butted everything out of its way to the west, to the north, and to the south, and no one could stand against it or help its victims. It did as it pleased and became very great.

5While I was watching, suddenly a male goat appeared from the west, crossing the land so swiftly that it didn't even touch the ground. This goat, which had one very large horn between its eyes, 6headed toward the two-horned ram that I had seen standing beside the river. 7The goat charged furiously at the ram and struck it, breaking off both its horns. Now the ram was helpless, and the goat knocked it down and trampled it. There was no one who could rescue the ram from the goat's power.

8The goat became very powerful. But at the height of its power, its large horn was broken off. In the large horn's place grew four prominent horns pointing in the four directions of the earth. 9From one of the prominent horns came a small horn whose power grew very great. It extended toward the south and the east and toward the glorious land of Israel. 10His power reached to the heavens where it attacked the heavenly armies, throwing some of the heavenly beings and stars to the ground and trampling them. 11He even challenged the Commander of heaven's armies by canceling the daily sacrifices offered to him and by destroying his Temple. 12But the army of heaven was restrained from destroying him for this sin. As a result, sacrilege was committed against the Temple ceremonies, and truth was overthrown. The horn succeeded in everything it did. F31

13Then I heard two of the holy ones talking to each other. One of them said, "How long will the events of this vision last? How long will the rebellion that causes desecration stop the daily sacrifices? How long will the Temple and heaven's armies be trampled on?"

14The other replied, "It will take twenty-three hundred evenings and mornings; then the Temple will be restored."

Gabriel Explains the Vision

15As I, Daniel, was trying to understand the meaning of this vision, someone who looked like a man suddenly stood in front of me. 16And I heard a human voice calling out from the Ulai River, "Gabriel, tell this man the meaning of his vision."

17As Gabriel approached the place where I was standing, I became so terrified that I fell to the ground. "Son of man," he said, "you must understand that the events you have seen in your vision relate to the time of the end."

18While he was speaking, I fainted and lay there with my face to the ground. But Gabriel roused me with a touch and helped me to my feet. 19Then he said, "I am here to tell you what will happen later in the time of wrath. What you have seen pertains to the very end of time. 20The two-horned ram represents the kings of Media and Persia. 21The shaggy male goat represents the king of Greece, F32 and the large horn between its eyes represents the first king of the Greek Empire. 22The four prominent horns that replaced the one large horn show that the Greek Empire will break into four sections with four kings, none of them as great as the first.

23"At the end of their rule, when their sin is at its height, a fierce king, a master of intrigue, will rise to power. 24He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause a shocking amount of destruction and succeed in everything he does. He will destroy powerful leaders and devastate the holy people. 25He will be a master of deception, defeating many by catching them off guard. Without warning he will destroy them. He will even take on the Prince of princes in battle, but he will be broken, though not by human power.

26"This vision about the twenty-three hundred evenings and mornings F33 is true. But none of these things will happen for a long time, so do not tell anyone about them yet."

27Then I, Daniel, was overcome and lay sick for several days. Afterward I got up and performed my duties for the king, but I was greatly troubled by the vision and could not understand it.

F29: Or the Ulai Gate; also in 8:16.
F30: Or the gate; also in 8:6.
F31: The meaning of the Hebrew for these verses is uncertain.
F32: Hebrew of Javan.
F33: Hebrew about the evenings and mornings; compare 8:14.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Daniel 7 Today

Daniel's Vision of Four Beasts

1Earlier, during the first year of King Belshazzar's reign in Babylon, Daniel had a dream and saw visions as he lay in his bed. He wrote the dream down, and this is what he saw.

2In my vision that night, I, Daniel, saw a great storm churning the surface of a great sea, with strong winds blowing from every direction. 3Then four huge beasts came up out of the water, each different from the others.

4The first beast was like a lion with eagles' wings. As I watched, its wings were pulled off, and it was left standing with its two hind feet on the ground, like a human being. And a human mind was given to it.

5Then I saw a second beast, and it looked like a bear. It was rearing up on one side, and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. And I heard a voice saying to it, "Get up! Devour many people!"

6Then the third of these strange beasts appeared, and it looked like a leopard. It had four wings like birds' wings on its back, and it had four heads. Great authority was given to this beast.

7Then in my vision that night, I saw a fourth beast, terrifying, dreadful, and very strong. It devoured and crushed its victims with huge iron teeth and trampled what was left beneath its feet. It was different from any of the other beasts, and it had ten horns. 8As I was looking at the horns, suddenly another small horn appeared among them. Three of the first horns were wrenched out, roots and all, to make room for it. This little horn had eyes like human eyes and a mouth that was boasting arrogantly.

9I watched as thrones were put in place and the Ancient One F26 sat down to judge. His clothing was as white as snow, his hair like whitest wool. He sat on a fiery throne with wheels of blazing fire, 10and a river of fire flowed from his presence. Millions of angels ministered to him, and a hundred million stood to attend him. Then the court began its session, and the books were opened.

11I continued to watch because I could hear the little horn's boastful speech. I kept watching until the fourth beast was killed and its body was destroyed by fire. 12As for the other three beasts, their authority was taken from them, but they were allowed to live for a while longer. F27

13As my vision continued that night, I saw someone who looked like a man F28 coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient One and was led into his presence. 14He was given authority, honor, and royal power over all the nations of the world, so that people of every race and nation and language would obey him. His rule is eternal—it will never end. His kingdom will never be destroyed.

The Vision Is Explained

15I, Daniel, was troubled by all I had seen, and my visions terrified me. 16So I approached one of those standing beside the throne and asked him what it all meant. He explained it to me like this: 17"These four huge beasts represent four kingdoms that will arise from the earth. 18But in the end, the holy people of the Most High will be given the kingdom, and they will rule forever and ever."

19Then I wanted to know the true meaning of the fourth beast, the one so different from the others and so terrifying. It devoured and crushed its victims with iron teeth and bronze claws, and it trampled what was left beneath its feet. 20I also asked about the ten horns on the fourth beast's head and the little horn that came up afterward and destroyed three of the other horns. This was the horn that seemed greater than the others and had human eyes and a mouth that was boasting arrogantly. 21As I watched, this horn was waging war against the holy people and was defeating them, 22until the Ancient One came and judged in favor of the holy people of the Most High. Then the time arrived for the holy people to take over the kingdom.

23Then he said to me, "This fourth beast is the fourth world power that will rule the earth. It will be different from all the others. It will devour the whole world, trampling everything in its path. 24Its ten horns are ten kings that will rule that empire. Then another king will arise, different from the other ten, who will subdue three of them. 25He will defy the Most High and wear down the holy people of the Most High. He will try to change their sacred festivals and laws, and they will be placed under his control for a time, times, and half a time.

26"But then the court will pass judgment, and all his power will be taken away and completely destroyed. 27Then the sovereignty, power, and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be given to the holy people of the Most High. They will rule forever, and all rulers will serve and obey them."

28That was the end of the vision. I, Daniel, was terrified by my thoughts and my face was pale with fear, but I kept these things to myself.

F26: Aramaic an Ancient of Days; also in 7:13, 22.
F27: Aramaic for a season and a time.
F28: Or like a Son of Man; Aramaic reads like a son of man.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Daniel 6 Today

Daniel in the Lions' Den

1Darius the Mede decided to divide the kingdom into 120 provinces, and he appointed a prince to rule over each province. 2The king also chose Daniel and two others as administrators to supervise the princes and to watch out for the king's interests. 3Daniel soon proved himself more capable than all the other administrators and princes. Because of his great ability, the king made plans to place him over the entire empire. 4Then the other administrators and princes began searching for some fault in the way Daniel was handling his affairs, but they couldn't find anything to criticize. He was faithful and honest and always responsible. 5So they concluded, "Our only chance of finding grounds for accusing Daniel will be in connection with the requirements of his religion."

6So the administrators and princes went to the king and said, "Long live King Darius! 7We administrators, prefects, princes, advisers, and other officials have unanimously agreed that Your Majesty should make a law that will be strictly enforced. Give orders that for the next thirty days anyone who prays to anyone, divine or human—except to Your Majesty—will be thrown to the lions. 8And let Your Majesty issue and sign this law so it cannot be changed, a law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be revoked." 9So King Darius signed the law.

10But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God. 11The officials went together to Daniel's house and found him praying and asking for God's help. 12So they went back to the king and reminded him about his law. "Did you not sign a law that for the next thirty days anyone who prays to anyone, divine or human—except to Your Majesty—will be thrown to the lions?" "Yes," the king replied, "that decision stands; it is a law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be revoked."

13Then they told the king, "That man Daniel, one of the captives from Judah, is paying no attention to you or your law. He still prays to his God three times a day."

14Hearing this, the king was very angry with himself for signing the law, and he tried to find a way to save Daniel. He spent the rest of the day looking for a way to get Daniel out of this predicament. 15In the evening the men went together to the king and said, "Your Majesty knows that according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, no law that the king signs can be changed."

16So at last the king gave orders for Daniel to be arrested and thrown into the den of lions. The king said to him, "May your God, whom you worship continually, rescue you." 17A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den. The king sealed the stone with his own royal seal and the seals of his nobles, so that no one could rescue Daniel from the lions. 18Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night fasting. He refused his usual entertainment and couldn't sleep at all that night.

19Very early the next morning, the king hurried out to the lions' den. 20When he got there, he called out in anguish, "Daniel, servant of the living God! Was your God, whom you worship continually, able to rescue you from the lions?"

21Daniel answered, "Long live the king! 22My 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. And I have not wronged you, Your Majesty."

23The king was overjoyed and ordered that Daniel be lifted from the den. Not a scratch was found on him because he had trusted in his God. 24Then the king gave orders to arrest the men who had maliciously accused Daniel. He had them thrown into the lions' den, along with their wives and children. The lions leaped on them and tore them apart before they even hit the floor of the den.

25Then King Darius sent this message to the people of every race and nation and language throughout the world:

"Peace and prosperity to you!

26"I decree that everyone throughout my kingdom should tremble with fear before the God of Daniel.

For he is the living God,
and he will endure forever.
His kingdom will never be destroyed,
and his rule will never end.

27 He rescues and saves his people;
he performs miraculous signs and wonders
in the heavens and on earth.
He has rescued Daniel
from the power of the lions."

28So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian. F25

F25: Or of Darius, that is, the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Daniel 5 Today

The Writing on the Wall

1A number of years later, King Belshazzar gave a great feast for a thousand of his nobles and drank wine with them. 2While Belshazzar was drinking, he gave orders to bring in the gold and silver cups that his predecessor, F19 Nebuchadnezzar, had taken from the Temple in Jerusalem, so that he and his nobles, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them. 3So they brought these gold cups taken from the Temple of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his nobles, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. 4They drank toasts from them to honor their idols made of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone.

5At that very moment they saw the fingers of a human hand writing on the plaster wall of the king's palace, near the lampstand. The king himself saw the hand as it wrote, 6and his face turned pale with fear. Such terror gripped him that his knees knocked together and his legs gave way beneath him.

7The king shouted for the enchanters, astrologers, F20 and fortune-tellers to be brought before him. He said to these wise men of Babylon, "Whoever can read this writing and tell me what it means will be dressed in purple robes of royal honor and will wear a gold chain around his neck. He will become the third highest ruler in the kingdom!" 8But when all the king's wise men came in, none of them could read the writing or tell him what it meant. 9So the king grew even more alarmed, and his face turned ashen white. His nobles, too, were shaken.

10But when the queen mother heard what was happening, she hurried to the banquet hall. She said to Belshazzar, "Long live the king! Don't be so pale and afraid about this. 11There is a man in your kingdom who has within him the spirit of the holy gods. During Nebuchadnezzar's reign, this man was found to have insight, understanding, and wisdom as though he himself were a god. Your predecessor, King Nebuchadnezzar, made him chief over all the magicians, enchanters, astrologers, and fortune-tellers of Babylon. 12This man Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar, has a sharp mind and is filled with divine knowledge and understanding. He can interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve difficult problems. Call for Daniel, and he will tell you what the writing means."

Daniel Explains the Writing

13So Daniel was brought in before the king. The king asked him, "Are you Daniel, who was exiled from Judah by my predecessor, King Nebuchadnezzar? 14I have heard that you have the spirit of the gods within you and that you are filled with insight, understanding, and wisdom. 15My wise men and enchanters have tried to read this writing on the wall, but they cannot. 16I am told that you can give interpretations and solve difficult problems. If you can read these words and tell me their meaning, you will be clothed in purple robes of royal honor, and you will wear a gold chain around your neck. You will become the third highest ruler in the kingdom."

17Daniel answered the king, "Keep your gifts or give them to someone else, but I will tell you what the writing means. 18Your Majesty, the Most High God gave sovereignty, majesty, glory, and honor to your predecessor, Nebuchadnezzar. 19He made him so great that people of all races and nations and languages trembled before him in fear. He killed those he wanted to kill and spared those he wanted to spare. He honored those he wanted to honor and disgraced those he wanted to disgrace. 20But when his heart and mind were hardened with pride, he was brought down from his royal throne and stripped of his glory. 21He was driven from human society. He was given the mind of an animal, and he lived among the wild donkeys. He ate grass like a cow, and he was drenched with the dew of heaven, until he learned that the Most High God rules the kingdoms of the world and appoints anyone he desires to rule over them.

22"You are his successor, F21 O Belshazzar, and you knew all this, yet you have not humbled yourself. 23For you have defied the Lord of heaven and have had these cups from his Temple brought before you. You and your nobles and your wives and concubines have been drinking wine from them while praising gods of silver, gold, bronze, iron, wood, and stone—gods that neither see nor hear nor know anything at all. But you have not honored the God who gives you the breath of life and controls your destiny! 24So God has sent this hand to write a message.

25"This is the message that was written: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN. 26This is what these words mean:

Mene means 'numbered'—God has numbered the days of your reign and has brought it to an end.

27 Tekel means 'weighed'—you have been weighed on the balances and have failed the test.

28 Parsin F22 means 'divided'—your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians."

29Then at Belshazzar's command, Daniel was dressed in purple robes, a gold chain was hung around his neck, and he was proclaimed the third highest ruler in the kingdom.

30That very night Belshazzar, the Babylonian F23 king, was killed. F24 31And Darius the Mede took over the kingdom at the age of sixty-two.

F19: Aramaic father; also in 5:11, 13, 18.
F20: Or Chaldeans; also in 5:11.
F21: Aramaic son.
F22: Aramaic Peres, the singular of Parsin.
F23: Or Chaldean.
F24: The Persians and Medes conquered Babylon in October 539 B.C.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Daniel 4 Today

Nebuchadnezzar's Dream about a Tree

1King Nebuchadnezzar sent this message to the people of every race and nation and language throughout the world:

"Peace and prosperity to you!

2"I want you all to know about the miraculous signs and wonders the Most High God has performed for me.

3 How great are his signs,
how powerful his wonders!
His kingdom will last forever,
his rule through all generations.

4"I, Nebuchadnezzar, was living in my palace in comfort and prosperity. 5But one night I had a dream that greatly frightened me; I saw visions that terrified me as I lay in my bed. 6So I issued an order calling in all the wise men of Babylon, so they could tell me what my dream meant. 7When all the magicians, enchanters, astrologers, F16 and fortune-tellers came in, I told them the dream, but they could not tell me what it meant. 8At last Daniel came in before me, and I told him the dream. (He was named Belteshazzar after my god, and the spirit of the holy gods is in him.)

9"I said to him, 'O Belteshazzar, master magician, I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in you and that no mystery is too great for you to solve. Now tell me what my dream means.

10"'While I was lying in my bed, this is what I dreamed. I saw a large tree in the middle of the earth. 11The tree grew very tall and strong, reaching high into the heavens for all the world to see. 12It had fresh green leaves, and it was loaded with fruit for all to eat. Wild animals lived in its shade, and birds nested in its branches. All the world was fed from this tree.

13"'Then as I lay there dreaming, I saw a messenger, F17 a holy one, coming down from heaven. 14The messenger shouted, "Cut down the tree; lop off its branches! Shake off its leaves, and scatter its fruit! Chase the animals from its shade and the birds from its branches. 15But leave the stump and the roots in the ground, bound with a band of iron and bronze and surrounded by tender grass. Now let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him live like an animal among the plants of the fields. 16For seven periods of time, let him have the mind of an animal instead of a human. 17For this has been decreed by the messengers F18 ; it is commanded by the holy ones. The purpose of this decree is that the whole world may understand that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone he chooses—even to the lowliest of humans."

18"'O Belteshazzar, that was the dream that I, King Nebuchadnezzar, had. Now tell me what it means, for no one else can help me. All the wisest men of my kingdom have failed me. But you can tell me because the spirit of the holy gods is in you.'

Daniel Explains the Dream

19"Upon hearing this, Daniel (also known as Belteshazzar) was overcome for a time, aghast at the meaning of the dream. Finally, the king said to him, 'Belteshazzar, don't be alarmed by the dream and what it means.'

"Belteshazzar replied, 'Oh, how I wish the events foreshadowed in this dream would happen to your enemies, my lord, and not to you! 20You saw a tree growing very tall and strong, reaching high into the heavens for all the world to see. 21It had fresh green leaves, and it was loaded with fruit for all to eat. Wild animals lived in its shade, and birds nested in its branches. 22That tree, Your Majesty, is you. For you have grown strong and great; your greatness reaches up to heaven, and your rule to the ends of the earth.

23"'Then you saw a messenger, a holy one, coming down from heaven and saying, "Cut down the tree and destroy it. But leave the stump and the roots in the ground, bound with a band of iron and bronze and surrounded by tender grass. Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven. Let him eat grass with the animals of the field for seven periods of time."

24"'This is what the dream means, Your Majesty, and what the Most High has declared will happen to you. 25You will be driven from human society, and you will live in the fields with the wild animals. You will eat grass like a cow, and you will be drenched with the dew of heaven. Seven periods of time will pass while you live this way, until you learn that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone he chooses. 26But the stump and the roots were left in the ground. This means that you will receive your kingdom back again when you have learned that heaven rules.

27"'O King Nebuchadnezzar, please listen to me. Stop sinning and do what is right. Break from your wicked past by being merciful to the poor. Perhaps then you will continue to prosper.'

The Dream's Fulfillment

28"But all these things did happen to King Nebuchadnezzar. 29Twelve months later, he was taking a walk on the flat roof of the royal palace in Babylon. 30As he looked out across the city, he said, 'Just look at this great city of Babylon! I, by my own mighty power, have built this beautiful city as my royal residence and as an expression of my royal splendor.'

31"While he was still speaking these words, a voice called down from heaven, 'O King Nebuchadnezzar, this message is for you! You are no longer ruler of this kingdom. 32You will be driven from human society. You will live in the fields with the wild animals, and you will eat grass like a cow. Seven periods of time will pass while you live this way, until you learn that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone he chooses.'

33"That very same hour the prophecy was fulfilled, and Nebuchadnezzar was driven from human society. He ate grass like a cow, and he was drenched with the dew of heaven. He lived this way until his hair was as long as eagles' feathers and his nails were like birds' claws.

Nebuchadnezzar Praises God

34"After this time had passed, I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up to heaven. My sanity returned, and I praised and worshiped the Most High and honored the one who lives forever.

His rule is everlasting,
and his kingdom is eternal.

35 All the people of the earth
are nothing compared to him.
He has the power to do as he pleases
among the angels of heaven
and with those who live on earth.
No one can stop him or challenge him,
saying, 'What do you mean by doing these things?'

36"When my sanity returned to me, so did my honor and glory and kingdom. My advisers and officers sought me out, and I was reestablished as head of my kingdom, with even greater honor than before.

37"Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and glorify and honor the King of heaven. All his acts are just and true, and he is able to humble those who are proud."

F16: Or Chaldeans.
F17: Aramaic a watcher; also in 4:23.
F18: Aramaic the watchers.

Daniel 3 Yesterday's Daily Bread

Nebuchadnezzar's Gold Statue

1King Nebuchadnezzar made a gold statue ninety feet tall and nine feet wide F9 and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. 2Then he sent messages to the princes, prefects, governors, advisers, counselors, judges, magistrates, and all the provincial officials to come to the dedication of the statue he had set up. 3When all these officials F10 had arrived and were standing before the image King Nebuchadnezzar had set up, 4a herald shouted out, "People of all races and nations and languages, listen to the king's command! 5When you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes, and other instruments, F11 bow to the ground to worship King Nebuchadnezzar's gold statue. 6Anyone who refuses to obey will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace."

7So at the sound of the musical instruments, F12 all the people, whatever their race or nation or language, bowed to the ground and worshiped the statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

8But some of the astrologers F13 went to the king and informed on the Jews. 9They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, "Long live the king! 10You issued a decree requiring all the people to bow down and worship the gold statue when they hear the sound of the musical instruments. F14 11That decree also states that those who refuse to obey must be thrown into a blazing furnace. 12But there are some Jews—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—whom you have put in charge of the province of Babylon. They have defied Your Majesty by refusing to serve your gods or to worship the gold statue you have set up."

13Then Nebuchadnezzar flew into a rage and ordered Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to be brought before him. When they were brought in, 14Nebuchadnezzar said to them, "Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you refuse to serve my gods or to worship the gold statue I have set up? 15I will give you one more chance. If you bow down and worship the statue I have made when you hear the sound of the musical instruments, all will be well. But if you refuse, you will be thrown immediately into the blazing furnace. What god will be able to rescue you from my power then?"

16Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. 17If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. 18But 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."

The Blazing Furnace

19Nebuchadnezzar was so furious with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that his face became distorted with rage. He commanded that the furnace be heated seven times hotter than usual. 20Then he ordered some of the strongest men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. 21So they tied them up and threw them into the furnace, fully clothed. 22And because the king, in his anger, had demanded such a hot fire in the furnace, the flames leaped out and killed the soldiers as they threw the three men in! 23So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, securely tied, fell down into the roaring flames.

24But suddenly, as he was watching, Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in amazement and exclaimed to his advisers, "Didn't we tie up three men and throw them into the furnace?" "Yes," they said, "we did indeed, Your Majesty."

25"Look!" Nebuchadnezzar shouted. "I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire. They aren't even hurt by the flames! And the fourth looks like a divine being F15 !"

26Then Nebuchadnezzar came as close as he could to the door of the flaming furnace and shouted: "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!" So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stepped out of the fire. 27Then the princes, prefects, governors, and advisers crowded around them and saw that the fire had not touched them. Not a hair on their heads was singed, and their clothing was not scorched. They didn't even smell of smoke!

28Then Nebuchadnezzar said, "Praise to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel to rescue his servants who trusted in him. They defied the king's command and were willing to die rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. 29Therefore, I make this decree: If any people, whatever their race or nation or language, speak a word against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, they will be torn limb from limb, and their houses will be crushed into heaps of rubble. There is no other god who can rescue like this!" 30Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to even higher positions in the province of Babylon.

F9: Aramaic 60 cubits [27 meters] tall and 6 cubits [2.7 meters] wide.
F10: Aramaic the princes, prefects, governors, advisers, counselors, judges, magistrates, and all the provincial officials.
F11: The identification of some of these musical instruments is uncertain.
F12: Aramaic the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, and other instruments of the musical ensemble.
F13: Aramaic Chaldeans.
F14: Aramaic the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes, and other instruments of the musical ensemble; also in 3:15.
F15: Aramaic like a son of the gods.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Daniel 2 Today

Nebuchadnezzar's Dream

1One night during the second year of his reign, F5 Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that disturbed him so much that he couldn't sleep. 2He called in his magicians, enchanters, sorcerers, and astrologers, F6 and he demanded that they tell him what he had dreamed. As they stood before the king, 3he said, "I have had a dream that troubles me. Tell me what I dreamed, for I must know what it means."

4Then the astrologers answered the king in Aramaic, F7 "Long live the king! Tell us the dream, and we will tell you what it means."

5But the king said to the astrologers, "I am serious about this. If you don't tell me what my dream was and what it means, you will be torn limb from limb, and your houses will be demolished into heaps of rubble! 6But if you tell me what I dreamed and what the dream means, I will give you many wonderful gifts and honors. Just tell me the dream and what it means!"

7They said again, "Please, Your Majesty. Tell us the dream, and we will tell you what it means."

8The king replied, "I can see through your trick! You are trying to stall for time because you know I am serious about what I said. 9If you don't tell me the dream, you will be condemned. You have conspired to tell me lies in hopes that something will change. But tell me the dream, and then I will know that you can tell me what it means."

10The astrologers replied to the king, "There isn't a man alive who can tell Your Majesty his dream! And no king, however great and powerful, has ever asked such a thing of any magician, enchanter, or astrologer! 11This is an impossible thing the king requires. No one except the gods can tell you your dream, and they do not live among people."

12The king was furious when he heard this, and he sent out orders to execute all the wise men of Babylon. 13And because of the king's decree, men were sent to find and kill Daniel and his friends. 14When Arioch, the commander of the king's guard, came to kill them, Daniel handled the situation with wisdom and discretion. 15He asked Arioch, "Why has the king issued such a harsh decree?" So Arioch told him all that had happened. 16Daniel went at once to see the king and requested more time so he could tell the king what the dream meant.

17Then Daniel went home and told his friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah what had happened. 18He urged them to ask the God of heaven to show them his mercy by telling them the secret, so they would not be executed along with the other wise men of Babylon. 19That night the secret was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven, 20saying,

"Praise the name of God forever and ever,
for he alone has all wisdom and power.

21 He determines the course of world events;
he removes kings and sets others on the throne.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the scholars.

22 He reveals deep and mysterious things
and knows what lies hidden in darkness,
though he himself is surrounded by light.

23 I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors,
for you have given me wisdom and strength.
You have told me what we asked of you
and revealed to us what the king demanded."

Daniel Interprets the Dream

24Then Daniel went in to see Arioch, who had been ordered to execute the wise men of Babylon. Daniel said to him, "Don't kill the wise men. Take me to the king, and I will tell him the meaning of his dream."

25Then Arioch quickly took Daniel to the king and said, "I have found one of the captives from Judah who will tell Your Majesty the meaning of your dream!"

26The king said to Daniel (also known as Belteshazzar), "Is this true? Can you tell me what my dream was and what it means?"

27Daniel replied, "There are no wise men, enchanters, magicians, or fortune-tellers who can tell the king such things. 28But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and he has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in the future. Now I will tell you your dream and the visions you saw as you lay on your bed.

29"While Your Majesty was sleeping, you dreamed about coming events. The revealer of mysteries has shown you what is going to happen. 30And it is not because I am wiser than any living person that I know the secret of your dream, but because God wanted you to understand what you were thinking about.

31"Your Majesty, in your vision you saw in front of you a huge and powerful statue of a man, shining brilliantly, frightening and awesome. 32The head of the statue was made of fine gold, its chest and arms were of silver, its belly and thighs were of bronze, 33its legs were of iron, and its feet were a combination of iron and clay. 34But as you watched, a rock was cut from a mountain by supernatural means. F8 It struck the feet of iron and clay, smashing them to bits. 35The whole statue collapsed into a heap of iron, clay, bronze, silver, and gold. The pieces were crushed as small as chaff on a threshing floor, and the wind blew them all away without a trace. But the rock that knocked the statue down became a great mountain that covered the whole earth.

36"That was the dream; now I will tell Your Majesty what it means. 37Your Majesty, you are a king over many kings. The God of heaven has given you sovereignty, power, strength, and honor. 38He has made you the ruler over all the inhabited world and has put even the animals and birds under your control. You are the head of gold.

39"But after your kingdom comes to an end, another great kingdom, inferior to yours, will rise to take your place. After that kingdom has fallen, yet a third great kingdom, represented by the bronze belly and thighs, will rise to rule the world. 40Following that kingdom, there will be a fourth great kingdom, as strong as iron. That kingdom will smash and crush all previous empires, just as iron smashes and crushes everything it strikes. 41The feet and toes you saw that were a combination of iron and clay show that this kingdom will be divided. 42Some parts of it will be as strong as iron, and others as weak as clay. 43This mixture of iron and clay also shows that these kingdoms will try to strengthen themselves by forming alliances with each other through intermarriage. But this will not succeed, just as iron and clay do not mix.

44"During the reigns of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed; no one will ever conquer it. It will shatter all these kingdoms into nothingness, but it will stand forever. 45That is the meaning of the rock cut from the mountain by supernatural means, crushing to dust the statue of iron, bronze, clay, silver, and gold. "The great God has shown Your Majesty what will happen in the future. The dream is true, and its meaning is certain."

Nebuchadnezzar Rewards Daniel

46Then King Nebuchadnezzar bowed to the ground before Daniel and worshiped him, and he commanded his people to offer sacrifices and burn sweet incense before him. 47The king said to Daniel, "Truly, your God is the God of gods, the Lord over kings, a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this secret."

48Then the king appointed Daniel to a high position and gave him many valuable gifts. He made Daniel ruler over the whole province of Babylon, as well as chief over all his wise men. 49At Daniel's request, the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to be in charge of all the affairs of the province of Babylon, while Daniel remained in the king's court.

F5: The second year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign was 603 B.C.
F6: Or Chaldeans; also in 2:4, 5, 10.
F7: The original text from this point through chapter 7 is in Aramaic.
F8: Aramaic not by human hands; also in 2:45.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Daniel 1 Today's Daily Bread

Daniel in Nebuchadnezzar's Court

1During the third year of King Jehoiakim's reign in Judah, F1 King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it with his armies. 2The Lord gave him victory over King Jehoiakim of Judah. When Nebuchadnezzar returned to Babylon, he took with him some of the sacred objects from the Temple of God and placed them in the treasure-house of his god in the land of Babylonia. F2

3Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, who was in charge of the palace officials, to bring to the palace some of the young men of Judah's royal family and other noble families, who had been brought to Babylon as captives. 4"Select only strong, healthy, and good-looking young men," he said. "Make sure they are well versed in every branch of learning, are gifted with knowledge and good sense, and have the poise needed to serve in the royal palace. Teach these young men the language and literature of the Babylonians. F3 " 5The king assigned them a daily ration of the best food and wine from his own kitchens. They were to be trained for a three-year period, and then some of them would be made his advisers in the royal court.

6Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were four of the young men chosen, all from the tribe of Judah. 7The chief official renamed them with these Babylonian names:

Daniel was called Belteshazzar.
Hananiah was called Shadrach.
Mishael was called Meshach.
Azariah was called Abednego.

8But Daniel made up his mind not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king. He asked the chief official for permission to eat other things instead. 9Now God had given the chief official great respect for Daniel. 10But he was alarmed by Daniel's suggestion. "My lord the king has ordered that you eat this food and wine," he said. "If you become pale and thin compared to the other youths your age, I am afraid the king will have me beheaded for neglecting my duties."

11Daniel talked it over with the attendant who had been appointed by the chief official to look after Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. 12"Test us for ten days on a diet of vegetables and water," Daniel said. 13"At the end of the ten days, see how we look compared to the other young men who are eating the king's rich food. Then you can decide whether or not to let us continue eating our diet." 14So the attendant agreed to Daniel's suggestion and tested them for ten days.

15At the end of the ten days, Daniel and his three friends looked healthier and better nourished than the young men who had been eating the food assigned by the king. 16So after that, the attendant fed them only vegetables instead of the rich foods and wines. 17God gave these four young men an unusual aptitude for learning the literature and science of the time. And God gave Daniel special ability in understanding the meanings of visions and dreams.

18When the three-year training period ordered by the king was completed, the chief official brought all the young men to King Nebuchadnezzar. 19The king talked with each of them, and none of them impressed him as much as Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. So they were appointed to his regular staff of advisers. 20In all matters requiring wisdom and balanced judgment, the king found the advice of these young men to be ten times better than that of all the magicians and enchanters in his entire kingdom.

21Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus's reign. F4

F1: The third year of Jehoiakim's reign, according to the Hebrew system of reckoning, was 605 B.C.
F2: Hebrew the land of Shinar.
F3: Or of the Chaldeans.
F4: The first year of Cyrus's reign was 538 B.C.

Lena Journals
We as Chriatians are to be IN but NOT to be OF this world and it's ways, systems, etc.
But do we think this way of our circumstances? In but not of? In but not in bondage, as in, in slavery to? Not enslaved by?
Yesterday I read in Titus 2 about slaves that were to be the best slaves ever to their masters, serving them.
This is just what the Hebrew boys who were taken captive were. They knew full well their master was God, yet men bound them to slavery, and they were not enslaved. They could still serve God inside of the circumstance and not even get out of it. Notice they were free inside of it! Wow, huh?
What circumstance today do we need to be free in?
Think about it.
It is really in our minds and hearts that we are victums of our situations. Daniel served God inside of the situation, to the best of anyone else, and through that GOD promoted him out!
Not because he rebelled out or wiggled or manipluated out, God freed him physically because he was already free mentally and spirtually speaking.
How free are we today? As free as we have faith in God to be.
Our circumstances do not tell us what to do! We tell them, through faith.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Psalm 45 Today's Daily Bread

For the choir director: A psalm of the descendants of Korah, to be sung to the tune "Lilies." A love song.

1 My heart overflows with a beautiful thought!
I will recite a lovely poem to the king,
for my tongue is like the pen of a skillful poet.

2 You are the most handsome of all.
Gracious words stream from your lips.
God himself has blessed you forever.

3 Put on your sword, O mighty warrior!
You are so glorious, so majestic!

4 In your majesty, ride out to victory,
defending truth, humility, and justice.
Go forth to perform awe-inspiring deeds!

5 Your arrows are sharp,
piercing your enemies' hearts.
The nations fall before you,
lying down beneath your feet.

6 Your throne, O God, F33 endures forever and ever.
Your royal power is expressed in justice.

7 You love what is right and hate what is wrong.
Therefore God, your God, has anointed you,
pouring out the oil of joy on you more than on anyone else.

8 Your robes are perfumed with myrrh, aloes, and cassia.
In palaces decorated with ivory,
you are entertained by the music of harps.

9 Kings' daughters are among your concubines.
At your right side stands the queen,
wearing jewelry of finest gold from Ophir!

10 Listen to me, O royal daughter; take to heart what I say.
Forget your people and your homeland far away.

11 For your royal husband delights in your beauty;
honor him, for he is your lord.

12 The princes of Tyre F34 will shower you with gifts.
People of great wealth will entreat your favor.

13 The bride, a princess, waits within her chamber,
dressed in a gown woven with gold.

14 In her beautiful robes, she is led to the king,
accompanied by her bridesmaids.

15 What a joyful, enthusiastic procession
as they enter the king's palace!

16 Your sons will become kings like their father.
You will make them rulers over many lands.

17 I will bring honor to your name in every generation.
Therefore, the nations will praise you forever and ever.

F33: Or Your divine throne.
F34: Hebrew The daughter of Tyre.

Lena Journals
The person who wrote this Psalm saw the Lord, meaning they got a glimpse through revelation and understading. If one understands one can apply knowledge.
Children copy what they see their parents do. We, as Christians, are copies of what we see of our Fatherly image. It is hard to copy what one does not see or understand. Students of the word, Christians, who seek to be as He is and copy Him, seek to see Him more that they might express Him more clearly and make Him more visible for others to see and understand.
It's neat how David describes the Lord and how magnificant He is.
Then he speaks of who he himself is, who we are, sons and daughters and those created to display and reflect Him.
What he is saying is what I see, the more I see the more I can copy and become.
If the Lord Jesus was anointed (Christ means - anointed One), I can be also. If His anointing comes from loving what is right (not worldly opinionated right, but God's word on it - right) and if it also comes in hating what is wrong, then if I also do the same, I am as He is, I am the same also! That's true Christianity - I am now as He is!
I will bring honor to Your name!
What else are we here for?
There is no greater thing to live for. In all we do reflecting His kingdom, power, honor and glory.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

James 5 Today's Daily Bread

Warning to the Rich

1Look here, you rich people, weep and groan with anguish because of all the terrible troubles ahead of you. 2Your wealth is rotting away, and your fine clothes are moth-eaten rags. 3Your gold and silver have become worthless. The very wealth you were counting on will eat away your flesh in hell. F15 This treasure you have accumulated will stand as evidence against you on the day of judgment. 4For listen! Hear the cries of the field workers whom you have cheated of their pay. The wages you held back cry out against you. The cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.

5You have spent your years on earth in luxury, satisfying your every whim. Now your hearts are nice and fat, ready for the slaughter. 6You have condemned and killed good people who had no power to defend themselves against you.

Patience in Suffering

7Dear brothers and sisters, F16 you must be patient as you wait for the Lord's return. Consider the farmers who eagerly look for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They patiently wait for the precious harvest to ripen. 8You, too, must be patient. And take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near.

9Don't grumble about each other, my brothers and sisters, or God will judge you. For look! The great Judge is coming. He is standing at the door!

10For examples of patience in suffering, dear brothers and sisters, look at the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11We give great honor to those who endure under suffering. Job is an example of a man who endured patiently. From his experience we see how the Lord's plan finally ended in good, for he is full of tenderness and mercy.

12But most of all, my brothers and sisters, never take an oath, by heaven or earth or anything else. Just say a simple yes or no, so that you will not sin and be condemned for it.

The Power of Prayer

13Are any among you suffering? They should keep on praying about it. And those who have reason to be thankful should continually sing praises to the Lord.

14Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15And their prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make them well. And anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven.

16Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results. 17Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for the next three and a half years! 18Then he prayed for rain, and down it poured. The grass turned green, and the crops began to grow again.

Restore Wandering Believers

19My dear brothers and sisters, if anyone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back again, 20you can be sure that the one who brings that person back will save that sinner from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins.

F15: Or will eat your flesh like fire.
F16: Greek brothers; also in 5:9, 10, 12, 19.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Matthew 5 Today

The Sermon on the Mount

1One day as the crowds were gathering, Jesus went up the mountainside with his disciples and sat down to teach them.

The Beatitudes

2This is what he taught them:

3 "God blesses those who realize their need for him, F29
for the Kingdom of Heaven is given to them.

4 God blesses those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.

5 God blesses those who are gentle and lowly,
for the whole earth will belong to them.

6 God blesses those who are hungry and thirsty for justice,
for they will receive it in full.

7 God blesses those who are merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.

8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
for they will see God.

9 God blesses those who work for peace,
for they will be called the children of God.

10 God blesses those who are persecuted because they live for God,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

11"God blesses you when you are mocked and persecuted and lied about because you are my followers. 12Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted, too.

Teaching about Salt and Light

13"You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it useful again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. 14You are the light of the world—like a city on a mountain, glowing in the night for all to see. 15Don't hide your light under a basket! Instead, put it on a stand and let it shine for all. 16In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

Teaching about the Law

17"Don't misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to fulfill them. 18I assure you, until heaven and earth disappear, even the smallest detail of God's law will remain until its purpose is achieved. 19So if you break the smallest commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God's laws and teaches them will be great in the Kingdom of Heaven.

20"But I warn you—unless you obey God better than the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees do, you can't enter the Kingdom of Heaven at all!

Teaching about Anger

21"You have heard that the law of Moses says, 'Do not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.' F30 22But I say, if you are angry with someone, F31 you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, F32 you are in danger of being brought before the high council. And if you curse someone, F33 you are in danger of the fires of hell.

23"So if you are standing before the altar in the Temple, offering a sacrifice to God, and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, 24leave your sacrifice there beside the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God. 25Come to terms quickly with your enemy before it is too late and you are dragged into court, handed over to an officer, and thrown in jail. 26I assure you that you won't be free again until you have paid the last penny.

Teaching about Adultery

27"You have heard that the law of Moses says, 'Do not commit adultery.' F34 28But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust in his eye has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29So if your eye—even if it is your good eye F35 —causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30And if your hand—even if it is your stronger hand F36 —causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.

Teaching about Divorce

31"You have heard that the law of Moses says, 'A man can divorce his wife by merely giving her a letter of divorce.' F37 32But I say that a man who divorces his wife, unless she has been unfaithful, causes her to commit adultery. And anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Teaching about Vows

33"Again, you have heard that the law of Moses says, 'Do not break your vows; you must carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.' F38 34But I say, don't make any vows! If you say, 'By heaven!' it is a sacred vow because heaven is God's throne. 35And if you say, 'By the earth!' it is a sacred vow because the earth is his footstool. And don't swear, 'By Jerusalem!' for Jerusalem is the city of the great King. 36Don't even swear, 'By my head!' for you can't turn one hair white or black. 37Just say a simple, 'Yes, I will,' or 'No, I won't.' Your word is enough. To strengthen your promise with a vow shows that something is wrong. F39

Teaching about Revenge

38"You have heard that the law of Moses says, 'If an eye is injured, injure the eye of the person who did it. If a tooth gets knocked out, knock out the tooth of the person who did it.' F40 39But I say, don't resist an evil person! If you are slapped on the right cheek, turn the other, too. 40If you are ordered to court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. 41If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, F41 carry it two miles. 42Give to those who ask, and don't turn away from those who want to borrow.

Teaching about Love for Enemies

43"You have heard that the law of Moses says, 'Love your neighbor' F42 and hate your enemy. 44But I say, love your enemies! F43 Pray for those who persecute you! 45In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and on the unjust, too. 46If you love only those who love you, what good is that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47If you are kind only to your friends, F44 how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. 48But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.

F29: Greek the poor in spirit.
F30: Exod 20:13; Deut 5:17.
F31: Some manuscripts add without cause.
F32: Greek uses an Aramaic term of contempt: If you say to your brother, `Raca.'
F33: Greek if you say, `You fool.'
F34: Exod 20:14; Deut 5:18.
F35: Greek your right eye.
F36: Greek your right hand.
F37: Deut 24:1.
F38: Num 30:2.
F39: Or Anything beyond this is from the evil one.
F40: Greek `An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' Exod 21:24; Lev 24:20; Deut 19:21.
F41: Greek milion [4,854 feet or 1,478 meters].
F42: Lev 19:18.
F43: Some manuscripts add Bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you.
F44: Greek your brothers.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Ephesians 6 yesterday's Daily Bread - Psalm 68 Today's

Children and Parents

1Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. 2"Honor your father and mother." This is the first of the Ten Commandments that ends with a promise. 3And this is the promise: If you honor your father and mother, "you will live a long life, full of blessing." F12

4And now a word to you fathers. Don't make your children angry by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction approved by the Lord.

Slaves and Masters

5Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. 6Work hard, but not just to please your masters when they are watching. As slaves of Christ, do the will of God with all your heart. 7Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. 8Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do, whether we are slaves or free.

9And in the same way, you masters must treat your slaves right. Don't threaten them; remember, you both have the same Master in heaven, and he has no favorites.

The Whole Armor of God

10A final word: Be strong with the Lord's mighty power. 11Put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the Devil. 12For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms.

13Use every piece of God's armor to resist the enemy in the time of evil, so that after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14Stand your ground, putting on the sturdy belt of truth and the body armor of God's righteousness. 15For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News, so that you will be fully prepared. F13 16In every battle you will need faith as your shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan. F14 17Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18Pray at all times and on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all Christians everywhere.

19And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words as I boldly explain God's secret plan that the Good News is for the Gentiles, too. F15 20I am in chains now for preaching this message as God's ambassador. But pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him, as I should.

Final Greetings

21Tychicus, a much loved brother and faithful helper in the Lord's work, will tell you all about how I am getting along. 22I am sending him to you for just this purpose. He will let you know how we are, and he will encourage you.

23May God give you peace, dear brothers and sisters, F16 and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24May God's grace be upon all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.

F12: Exod 20:12; Deut 5:16.
F13: Or For shoes, put on the readiness to preach the Good News of peace with God.
F14: Greek by the evil one.
F15: Greek explain the mystery of the gospel.
F16: Greek brothers.

Psalm 68
For the choir director: A psalm of David. A song.

1 Arise, O God, and scatter your enemies.
Let those who hate God run for their lives.

2 Drive them off like smoke blown by the wind.
Melt them like wax in fire.
Let the wicked perish in the presence of God.

3 But let the godly rejoice.
Let them be glad in God's presence.
Let them be filled with joy.

4 Sing praises to God and to his name!
Sing loud praises to him who rides the clouds.
His name is the LORD—
rejoice in his presence!

5 Father to the fatherless, defender of widows—
this is God, whose dwelling is holy.

6 God places the lonely in families;
he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy.
But for rebels, there is only famine and distress.

7 O God, when you led your people from Egypt,
when you marched through the wilderness,


8 the earth trembled, and the heavens poured rain
before you, the God of Sinai,
before God, the God of Israel.

9 You sent abundant rain, O God,
to refresh the weary Promised Land.

10 There your people finally settled,
and with a bountiful harvest, O God,
you provided for your needy people.

11 The Lord announces victory,
and throngs of women shout the happy news.

12 Enemy kings and their armies flee,
while the women of Israel divide the plunder.

13 Though they lived among the sheepfolds,
now they are covered with silver and gold,
as a dove is covered by its wings.

14 The Almighty scattered the enemy kings
like a blowing snowstorm on Mount Zalmon.

15 The majestic mountains of Bashan
stretch high into the sky.

16 Why do you look with envy, O rugged mountains,
at Mount Zion, where God has chosen to live,
where the LORD himself will live forever?

17 Surrounded by unnumbered thousands of chariots,
the Lord came from Mount Sinai into his sanctuary.

18 When you ascended to the heights,
you led a crowd of captives.
You received gifts from the people,
even from those who rebelled against you.
Now the LORD God will live among us here.

19 Praise the Lord; praise God our savior!
For each day he carries us in his arms.


20 Our God is a God who saves!
The Sovereign LORD rescues us from death.

21 But God will smash the heads of his enemies,
crushing the skulls of those who love their guilty ways.

22 The Lord says, "I will bring my enemies down from Bashan;
I will bring them up from the depths of the sea.

23 You, my people, will wash your feet in their blood,
and even your dogs will get their share!"

24 Your procession has come into view, O God—
the procession of my God and King
as he goes into the sanctuary.

25 Singers are in front, musicians are behind;
with them are young women playing tambourines.

26 Praise God, all you people of Israel;
praise the LORD, the source of Israel's life.

27 Look, the little tribe of Benjamin leads the way.
Then comes a great throng of rulers from Judah
and all the rulers of Zebulun and Naphtali.

28 Summon your might, O God.
Display your power, O God, as you have in the past.

29 The kings of the earth are bringing tribute
to your Temple in Jerusalem.

30 Rebuke these enemy nations—
these wild animals lurking in the reeds,
this herd of bulls among the weaker calves.
Humble those who demand tribute from us. F48
Scatter the nations that delight in war.

31 Let Egypt come with gifts of precious metals;
let Ethiopia F49 bow in submission to God.

32 Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth.
Sing praises to the Lord.


33 Sing to the one who rides across the ancient heavens,
his mighty voice thundering from the sky.

34 Tell everyone about God's power.
His majesty shines down on Israel;
his strength is mighty in the heavens.

35 God is awesome in his sanctuary.
The God of Israel gives power and strength to his people.

Praise be to God!

F48: Or Humble them until they submit, bringing pieces of silver as tribute.
F49: Hebrew Cush.