Explore God's Word Daily

A daily blog on Christianity.com

A look ahead

 

 

The stories of the first six chapters of Daniel are often taught in Sunday school and in sermons. The second half of the book is usually lef alone! We're going to work our way through it, but it's worth taking a moment to understand more about how to read this section of the Bible.

So today's study isn't really a study--it's a (hopefully) helpful introduction. 

A clear structure

Read Daniel 7 v 1

  • - What's curious about the timing here (look back to 5 v 30-31)?

In terms of time, chapter 7 is placed between chapters 4 and 5. In other words, having finished the events of chapters 1–6 we now rewind to read about Daniel’s dreams. Chapters 1 – 6 and 7 – 12 have been structured to form two overlapping sections.

Similar but different

Read verses 15-18

  • - What's happening to Daniel here?

These are much like what was going on in chapter 2 (it might be worth taking a cou- ple of minutes to read through it)—but now Daniel is the one who has the dreams. And he has to be told what they mean, rather than interpreting them himself.

There is also more about the political powers of the ancient world and how they relate to God. But the difference is that God doesn't intervene as obviously and directly as he does in the first six chapters. His people often suffer for faithfulness rather than being saved miraculously. Arrogant kings seem to prosper rather than being humbled.

The same theme

The theme of the book is still the same, however: God remains the true God so stay faithful to Him. And faithfulness often means suffering persecution, even death, while waiting for God’s promises to be fulfilled.

Apocalyptic now

The content of the dreams is in symbolic language (technically it’s called “apoca- lyptic” writing), where the objects stand for certain things. Some of these are clearly interpreted for us—for example, look at 8 v 20.

We’re not familiar with this kind of writ- ing today. We need to remember that despite being a bit weird, it is simply a symbolic audio-visual display to Daniel; there’s nothing particularly mysterious about it. That’s not to say it’s all easy to understand, mind you— but the general idea is straightforward enough.

.............................................

PRAY

Pray for God's help in understanding and applying this section of His word during the next few weeks.

.............................................

This devotional is taken from Explore—a daily Bible-reading devotional from The Good Book Company which enables you to engage with Scripture and which will encourage, equip and inspire you to live for Christ. Explore features contributions from pastors such as Dr Timothy Keller, Mike McKinley and Tim Chester.

Click here and enter the code bstexplore61 when you check out to get the next quarter’s Explore for $5.84, a 10% discount.

Click here and enter bstexploresub when you check out to buy a year’s worth at 25% off—just $16.

Keep a record of what God is teaching you with "My Bible" at BibleStudyTools.com

MORE BIBLE READING PLANS

Daniel: Staying Faithful

 

Welcome to the book of Daniel. After covering the first half in the last issue of Explore, we're diving back in halfway through.

So it's well worth reminding ourselves of the main themes of the book...

The book of Daniel is set in Babylon, where Daniel and his friends have been taken into exile.

Read Daniel 3 v 8-12, 6 v 10-14

  • - What challenges have Daniel and his friends faced?

Read 3 v 28-29, 6 v 26-27

  • - What have been some of the main lessons in living for God so far?

Read 2 v 46-47, 5 v 22-28

  • - What have been some of the main lessons about God Himself so far?

The book of Daniel is all about living faithfully for God in a pagan land. It is at a time when God's people are in exile and so God appears to have been defeated. But the main theme is: God remains the true God, so stay faithful to Him.

So the first six chapters see Daniel and his friends living faithfully for God, even when under pressure not to, and being rescued and vindicated for doing so. And we've seen pagan kings being brought to recognize God as the true God.

.............................................

TIME OUT

It's sometimes hard to see how Daniel's experience of the world can have much to do with ours. Most of us aren't Jewish, pining for a return to Israel. None of us are serving a Babylonian king while trying to live for God.

But in the New Testament, Peter describes Christians as "strangers in a world, scattered' throughout the earth (1 Peter 1 v 1). None of us are yet living in the ultimate land of heaven. All of us face the daily tension of living for God in a world which doesn't recognize or respect Him.

In fact, Daniel's world isn't so very different from our own!

.............................................

APPLY

  • - In your own life, where are the tensions between how everyone expects you to act, and how God tells you to act?

Peter says Christians have "an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you" (1 Peter 1 v 4)

  • - Is that what you're most looking forward to today?

.............................................

PRAY

Pray that as you spend the next few weeks in Daniel, the true God would be encouraging, equipping and challenging you to stay faithful to Him.

.............................................

This devotional is taken from Explore—a daily Bible-reading devotional from The Good Book Company which enables you to engage with Scripture and which will encourage, equip and inspire you to live for Christ. Explore features contributions from pastors such as Dr Timothy Keller, Mike McKinley and Tim Chester.

Click here and enter the code bstexplore61 when you check out to get the next quarter’s Explore for $5.84, a 10% discount.

Click here and enter bstexploresub when you check out to buy a year’s worth at 25% off—just $16.

Keep a record of what God is teaching you with "My Bible" at BibleStudyTools.com

MORE BIBLE READING PLANS

Outsider in

 

 

As a widow, refugee and foreigner, Ruth is vulnerable to sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse. But she has come to take refuge under the wings of Israel's God. So what will she find among His people? Will this community be different in the way they treat an outsider?

Read Ruth 2 v 1-23

  • - What do we learn about Boaz's character?
  • - How does Naomi interpret the way in which Ruth is treated in Bethlehem (v 20)?
  • - Look at what people do, say, permit or avoid through the whole chapter. How does each show the LORD's kindness to Ruth and Naomi?

God's law

Read Deuteronomy 10 v 17-19 and 24 v 19-22

  • - How are these commands of God carried out when it comes to Ruth?

The time of the Judges was a time when God's law was ignored (Judges 21 v 25). But it seems that in Bethlehem, and in Boaz's house, God's law was loved.

.............................................

APPLY

Most people today, as then, see God's law as something that can be (and even should be) ignored.

Read James 1 v 25

  • - Why should we not only obey the law, but love it?

.............................................

God's kindness

A key theme of the book of Ruth is "loving kindness" (or "covenant love/loyalty")--the Hebrew word hesed. It describes loyalty to the obligations of a covenant or agreement, and the generous spirit that is willing to go beyond those obligations. This is the "kindness" for which Naomi praises God (v 20).

God is kind to Ruth and Naomi thorugh the kindness and obedience of His people. We are to show the same kindness towards others, especially the vulnerable. This creates an attractive community of kindness. God is revealed as a God who liberates and protects, and people of all nations come to Him for refuge.

.............................................

APPLY

  • - Who is vulnerable (materially, physically or emotionally) in your community?
  • - What could you do to show them the LORD's kindness?

Think of some specific ways you can show kindness this week. Pray that this would be an opportunity to show people the loving kindness of the LORD.

.............................................

This devotional is taken from Explore—a daily Bible-reading devotional from The Good Book Company which enables you to engage with Scripture and which will encourage, equip and inspire you to live for Christ. Explore features contributions from pastors such as Dr Timothy Keller, Mike McKinley and Tim Chester.

Click here and enter the code bstexplore61 when you check out to get the next quarter’s Explore for $5.84, a 10% discount.

Click here and enter bstexploresub when you check out to buy a year’s worth at 25% off—just $16.

Keep a record of what God is teaching you with "My Bible" at BibleStudyTools.com

MORE BIBLE READING PLANS

Wings of refuge

 

 

Read Ruth 2 v 1-12

  • - How do the fortunes of Naomi and Ruth begin to change?

The writer doesn't explicitly tell us that God is at work. It does look as though Ruth is simply extremely fortunate. But in fact, we're seeing God's hidden hand blessing her--the LORD is, as Boaz wanted for all his workers (v 4), with her.

.............................................

APPLY

Ruth and Naomi don't know the outcome of these events. But from God's perspective, the outcome is certain. There are twists and turns, ups and downs, in the story, but we know where it's going and who's in control.

So what about our own lives? Most of the time, we can't see them from the viewpoint of the sovereign God. But we can apply what we learn from Ruth. We may laugh and cry at the ups and downs of our life story, but we can know where our life is going and who's in control.

  • - In which part of your life is this particularly reassuring today?

.............................................

Re-read verse 12

  • - How does Boaz describe God?
  • - In chapter 11 it seemed that Ruth was risking her own security and well-being to show loyalty to Naomi. But how does Boaz describe her actions at the end of the verse?
  • - So why was Ruth's decision, however costly and apparently risky, a wise one?

God's people

Look at how Boaz treats his workers, and how he treats Ruth.

  • - How does he reflect the character of the God who is a "refuge?"

It's wonderful to see that God works through His people to be a refuge for Ruth. He gives Boaz the privilege of being the way this vulnerable woman is cared for. 

.............................................

 

TIME OUT

Boaz's mother was a woman called Rahab (Matthew 1 v 5). Read her story in Joshua 2 v 1-21 and 6 v 15-25.

  • - What do you think Boaz learned about God and His character from his mother's story?
  • - How does this seem to be influencing his treatment of Ruth?

.............................................

PRAY

Use verse 12 to thank and praise God; to confess times when you have sought refuge elsewhere; and to ask God to open your eyes to see His loving, sovereign care of you.

.............................................

This devotional is taken from Explore—a daily Bible-reading devotional from The Good Book Company which enables you to engage with Scripture and which will encourage, equip and inspire you to live for Christ. Explore features contributions from pastors such as Dr Timothy Keller, Mike McKinley and Tim Chester.

Click here and enter the code bstexplore61 when you check out to get the next quarter’s Explore for $5.84, a 10% discount.

Click here and enter bstexploresub when you check out to buy a year’s worth at 25% off—just $16.

Keep a record of what God is teaching you with "My Bible" at BibleStudyTools.com

MORE BIBLE READING PLANS

About Explore God's Word Daily

Explore God's Word Daily helps you open up the Bible to be refreshed and encouraged in your walk with God. "Explore" is the daily Bible-reading devotional from The Good Book Company (www.thegoodbook.com). Contributors include: Dr Timothy Keller, Senior Pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York; Mike McKinley, Senior pastor of Guilford Baptist Church; Tim Chester, author and pastor of Crowded House, Sheffield, UK; Mark Meynell, Senior Associate Minister at All Soul’s Langham Place, London, UK. Editors: Tim Thornborough and Carl Laferton.

  • Editors' Picks

    Black Friday and the Love of Stuff
    Black Friday and the Love of Stuff
  • The Key to a Thankful Heart
    The Key to a Thankful Heart
  • Ferguson and the Gospel's Hope for Racial Healing
    Ferguson and the Gospel's Hope for Racial Healing
;