The prophet Daniel is unquestionably one of the most remarkable men not only in the Bible but also in all of Jewish history. The book that bears his name traces his life from his teenage years through his days past the age of 80. For 70 years, Daniel lived in captivity (605-536 BC) while serving in the metropolitan capital city of Babylon as prime minister. But when the Jews returned to the Promised Land, Daniel's life, work, and ministry drew to an end.
Struggling through reading the lesser-known Old Testament passages and long prophetic oracles may seem to have little relevance to everyday 21st-century life. But there are important things we can learn from the Old Testament. First, the New Testament is based on the Old Testament. Second, the Old Testament reveals the character of God. Third, the Old Testament has transformational power. Its message transcends time, geography, and culture. It speaks to everyone, everywhere, in every situation.
We don't need to be prophets or sons and daughters of prophets to realize that the world is turned upside down. The cliff-hanging posture of the world today—terrorism, rogue nations with nuclear weapons, predictions of environmental catastrophe, governmental and business corruption—spells the end of our civilization as we know it. To make sense of it all we must first understand God's plan for the future, outlined in the book of Daniel and related Scripture.
Tragically, King Uzziah didn’t learn well enough what it meant to fear and worship God. He had a good start. He walked humbly with God, pursued the disciplines of godly living, and sought wise counsel. But when he achieved military prowess and gained notoriety, his heart became proud. He built monuments to himself. Then his fear of God waned, and he sinned against Him. And Uzziah’s sin had lifelong consequences.
Deep in the heart of Elisha’s helper, Gehazi, were smoldering embers of greed. Silently, secretively, they remained hidden. No one could tell by looking. Words never passed from Gehazi’s mouth, admitting such sin, but it was there nevertheless. Through a series of events those embers burst into full flame. As we recount the story, we want to take sufficient time to examine our own hearts and determine if we suffer from a similar malady.
Though not strong in faith, Naaman was nevertheless greatly respected as a leader of troops and as a military warrior. One day all that was put on hold. None of his trophies seemed important any longer. He was unclean…he had become a leper. This is a story about a man, once proud and self-sufficient, finally humbling himself before the only One who could cleanse his leprosy…and did.
Jabez emerges in the midst of epitaphs on tombstones as the Spirit of God is pleased to hover over his life a bit longer than any other mentioned in this context. Because God singles out Jabez, we are wise to pause and learn the truth of the story. By doing so, many who feel their lives are marked by obscurity and insignificance can gain fresh courage to excel.
Although a rather obscure character, Rehoboam, who lived in the days of the kings, illustrates the principle what appears on the surface doesn’t always match what lies beneath. We can learn many lessons about integrity from his life!
Family feuds, wayward kids, parent-child clashes, husband-wife disagreements, and other in-house pressures have a way of breaking our spirits and stealing our joy. And no one is immune who compromises with God’s standard—not even a king such as David. In this study we witness the monarch’s misery as the sword of consequences falls on him and his family.
The story we discover recorded in 1 Samuel 25 is amazing—change a few particulars, the geography, and the date, and we find ourselves reenacting a series of events as modern as today’s news. It is the story of an unfair boss, a strained marriage, and a great-hearted woman whose act of unselfish bravery saved her husband’s neck! Its fairy tale ending makes the story one of the most memorable in all the Old Testament.
When Saul became king, he was “little in his own eyes” (see 1 Sam. 15:17), but some time later all that changed drastically. The erosion of his character left him proud, impatient, and downright rebellious…a man who refused to bow even to the Lord his God. A serious failure and well worth our attention.