July 29, 2011

Saturday after the Fifth Sunday after Trinity


Morning - Ps. 28, 1 Sam. 1:1-11, Lk. 11:29-36
Evening - Ps. 47, 48, Dan. 2:1-6, 10-13, Acts 20:1-16

We began reading in Daniel last night, and will be in it until mid August. It is a story of people holding fast to the faith when all the props have been removed and the general direction of the surrounding culture is hostile to you. The story takes place in Babylon after Nebuchadnezzar had conquered Jerusalem and deported the Jews to captivity in Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar had some of the Jewish boys selected to be instructed in the learning of the Chaldeans (Babylonians). These were to be descendants of the king and nobility of Judah, without defect, and showing promise of intellectual ability. Nebuchadnezzar wanted to make Babylonians of them, and use them to influence the Jews to accept Babylonian rule. Children from other nations readily agreed to live in the palace and learn of Babylon, but the Jewish children did not. They retained their Jewish identity, including eating only "Kosher" food. And "God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams" (1:17).

It would be very difficult for anyone to resist the gentle brainwashing of the Babylonians. Separated from their parents, told they are the best and brightest children in all the land, promised privilege and prosperity, it would have been nearly impossible for an adult to remain true to God. Yet these young men did. In the days ahead we will read their stories and see the hand of Providence guiding God's people, even in this dark and dangerous hour.

Tonight's reading takes us to the dream of Nebuchadnezzar. He knew his dream was important, and needed someone to tell him what it meant. But the seers and astrologers often lied to kings to protect themselves. They told kings what they wanted to hear instead of the truth, and Nebuchadnezzar wanted the truth. So he decreed that the wise men, the astrologers and seers, would be required to tell him the content of his dream and its meaning. Those who could not, were considered useless pretenders and would be executed by being cut to pieces and their property taken and turned into dumps (2:5 &12).