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DANIEL and the DEALING of the DEITY
The Sufferings, the
the Sovereign Strategy of God
MIRACLE AND MEANING
Daniel is perhaps more often thought of in terms of the lions’ den and his three friends incarcerated, for their part, in a furnace, than most other things. However, this is worse than simplistic, and far below the superficial. For a commencement, the form of One like the Son of God, as also seen in Daniel 10, is notable in the furnace experience. Omitting that, is like omitting engines from a take-off flight experience.
To continue, the shutting of the mouths of animals – that is, the temporary removal of their desire to kill is not unheard of, even in nature. The case of one Christian who could – when it was called for in the wild - stroke a leopard has been mentioned earlier; and though this was to the uttermost exceptional, remarkable and even moving, involving tremendous self-control and many other things, it can happen. So too has the case of a lioness SEEKING out a tender young animal, more normally prey, to succour it, has been noted.
This is in no slightest way to minimize the miracle. It is one thing to act discreetly in a jungle setting with poise, however extraordinary the perception and the practice; it is another to be THROWN into a DEN of creatures used to their prey. It is one thing to escape in the quietness of motion and experience with the wild, it is another to be delivered in the commotion of being cast into a pit of lions and recovering one’s footing before being devoured, and then to spend the night in such company. The point we are therefore making is this: it is too easily thoughtlessly sneered, Ah! a miracle, as if this means taking leave of your senses.
Birth is a miracle in this, that its highly specialised paraphernalia of womb and umbilical cord, change to breathing with lungs, removal of food attachment, at the technical level, especially the minute level which enables all these things so that those whose field is computing can begin to gape with amazement at the intricacy of the programming and the staggering addition of life: all this is a work of a specialist. Yet again, without this specialist there would and could be neither matter nor mind, spirit nor their trilogy combination (cf. SMR, TMR, Repent or Perish Ch. 7, Earth Spasm… Ch. 1, Spiritual Refreshings … Chs. 6, 13, 16). Books do not write themselves, code does not compose itself for the very simple reason that the reality of such requisition lies deep in the interstices of what comprehends code and disposes its directives.
Yet the term ‘miracle’ is not normally used for the staggering conceptual compositions and practical installations of the Creator. Therefore we merely move towards it in seeing that there are semi-permanent interpositions of the Creator, which are the scaffolding for our souls in this world, and there are less continuous provisions. It is all of one piece, the one like a house, the other like a tent.
As to the ‘tents’, there should be not tension about this. It is merely a lesser act in this, that it is not housed in a continuity. Of course, the fact that God bothers to intrude action into a semi-permanent series of situations and provisions, architectures and additives, this is impressive. It is impactive and remarkable; but it is not different from the less dramatic, except for its episodic character and the fascinating thought – WHY did He so act in this special case ?
That is the real question.
It is only the constant din of thoughtless if not vacuous conformity to secular culture – aided to be sure by the diabolical aspirations of the ultimate terrorist, the devil – which makes man fail to realise that a miracle is quite an ordinary thing IN ITS ESSENCE, and is extraordinary only in its RATE of action. It is not often seen, comparably with the procedures of the semi-permanent. On the other hand, it is not seldom seen. If it were not for miracles, there is no doubt in this author’s mind, in view of countless facts of one’s past life, that one would not be functionally intact on this earth, nor could one be writing at this moment! Yet, it is to be admitted, however many they may be, that they are not the normal procedure at the PHYSICAL level.
If they were, then the settled course for the athletes of action on the earth, mankind, and the secure laboratory for the testing of the same, the scene for the scenarios of history would be so mobile as to be perhaps all but confusing; but God is not the God of confusion, but of order. However, though one may purchase a diesel car so that, despite its various limitations, it might last a long time and minimise, comparatively, its wear and tear, yet this does not at all mean that it is strange or exotic if a mechanic ever works on it!
Permanence is only relative to the PURPOSE of the permanence, and the action of intervention is only strange if one thinks in a magical sort of way, instead of simply realising that God – and man follows Him in this – makes some things comparatively permanent in their settings and situations, some less so, and some creations and situations are matters of intervention expressly, though by no means continually. Further, in the interpersonal realm, we read Psalm 145:18-19 and Mark 11:23-24, so that there is even further provision for the call, as of a lamb to the shepherd, which reaches within the gates of the celestial, to call forth a response.
That is a permanent structural incorporation in the covenant, assuredly; but all His ways are foreknown (Isaiah 46:10, Ephesians , Romans 8:29ff.), so that His discretion has these phases and facets of operation, without ceasing to be whole and integral. There is continuation; ad there is interposition, either in a structurally continuous interpersonal fellowship, or in a more or less dramatic thrust into immediately observable history.
Thus you make a bridge, such as that over the
Again, if there is some collision at some level of its altitude, this may require immediate intervention to protect the continuity of the whole.
So in life: there may be some things which require continual oversight, though so crafted is the structure called man, and so remarkable the capacities of his spirit for inter-communion with God, that this is more likely to be a spiritual matter than physical. Nevertheless, an accident, or a gross wearing in some part, or some disorder, such as occurred in this author’s eye condition some years ago, miraculously repaired, may make action, in this case DIVINE action, necessary on pain of loss.
If then an engineer arrives at
The human being is a construction. It is not so VERY permanent. It can cease operation if someone grabs a windpipe, via the outer flesh, for a few minutes. Nevertheless it can go on with remarkable facility for 70 or 80 years, and currently the thought of some who are now 80 years old, doing strong things is not so unusual. This author at 73-74 was writing (admittedly with exceedingly much divine assistance in spirit and mind, and help in body) some one million words per year.
Yet all this capacity or capacitation, can be rubbed out with one stroke. ONE defect can end the operation of the physical whole. A small condition can develop, a heart attack can leave the body, just now expressing the healthy humour of the active resident of this earth, in a moment, on the floor, in a few more, dead. The spirit departs, but the body is dead. The pianist is to meet the grand master of music, but the piano is fallen (cf. SMR pp. 316Dff., It Bubbles… Ch. 9, Little Things Ch. 5).
Less dramatic things like arthritis can bring motion to an
almost paralysed still. How quickly does the
His semi-permanent structure is vulnerable to such a point, that its normal continuance for 70 or more years is the more obvious testimony to the supra-genius of its construction. It is light-weight, heavy duty and moves in its three dimensions with a facility that leaves one frankly staggered as one sees its artistic marvels, its literary depositions, its symbolic masterpieces and … its tenacious obscurantism in this generation, in much of its thought. In such mode, totalitarianism, humanism, secularism and evolutionism work like so many rust factors on the iron of man’s matrix. In the grip of such plagues, many become dead and men do not realise it: this was the comment on religious, meaning- muddle and error which Christ made of some (Luke ).
There is a life of the mind, of the spirit, and these two closely cohere, and of the body. Death is not merely NON-operation, but a dysfunction in any realm, so total that the entire purpose of the structure or facility is now a gaunt substitute for function. It is a husk. It is there; but there is no longer any seed.
This then brings us to a further facet in miracles. There is a realm of the human spirit which is consciously present to most of us, in which the baleful, baneful, besotted, brilliant, clear, the heady, the happy is so conspicuous that the results of these things at the mere level of efficiency of thought and action, is rather obvious and often reflected on psychologically, medically or mentally. That is merely the fashion of the matrix as it moves. However there is far more than this. There is the interchange with the minds and spirits of others, and then that with the Maker of the matrix and spirit which uses it. When this is an alien relationship, this has two immediate results (cf. Ephesians -19.
First, there is a LOSS of divine correlation in terms of happy comradeship and the implements of spiritual power for spiritual task, which of course will often involve the mental and the physical as well, as implements and procedural postings. That is, the knowledge of God is missing, and it is not merely factual, but personal, and results of this can be procedural and even processive as He acts in His own ways. That on the other hand, may lead to divine impacts and involvements well before the end, and these too form a kind of interposition (cf. Jeremiah 31:18-22, Isaiah 48:16ff., with their abundant pathos, the former with a hope for the end).
Secondly, there is a DISTANCING of the likelihood of divine interposition, direct miracle, in the sense of caring for one’s household (cf. Psalm 1:6).
Thirdly, there is a confusion likely to arise - as with those who deaf, never hear, when finer points of musical appreciation arise (new limits occur) - about the modes of operation of the Almighty in man. This is intended in no sense to delimit these, for that is forbidden and foolish both (Psalm 78:41).
It is however to APPREHEND in measure, that there are – if not gradations, for the thing is spiritual, then – measures and functions of a vast variety. The Lord might merely STIMULATE one to apprehend something, or STIR one to act, or AROUSE thought or ENABLE physical endurance, or ILLUMINATE with direct vision of things obscure, or cast a sort of lightning of apprehension into a dull area, fashion thought or expose as a simple thing, a vast array which had seemed perhaps rather a muddle; He may stir the body to new heights, enable the apparently broken, or give a keenness both of mind and of spirit which is a kind of health, on the one hand, and yet a steering and oaring of the boat of life, on the other.
DEFINITION FOR THE OCCASION
Where precisely in all this, then, is the MIRACLE! For definitional clarity, it might be best to suggest some criterion.
there is the normal comradeship to which the Christian has access
Robert Bruce, famous statesman but more precisely Presbyterian Minister in
Scotland in the 16th century and its opportunities and vagaries is a
good example of this cf. Ephesians 1:17-19, Micah 3:8, Isaiah 6, II Timothy
4:8, II Corinthians 1:3-4,9-11, Jeremiah 20:11, Acts 8:26ff., Ephesians 3:16,
since this has results in power and performance,
v when does what specifically is to be called ‘miracle’ arise ?
The facts are clear; but the terminology may need some refinement. IF ANY supernatural involvement with the spirit or mind or body of a man/woman/child is to be termed a ‘miracle’, then this writer has miracles virtually daily. That however would be to distinguish the normal (in spiritual life as a Christian) into the unusual, and hence could cause confusion.
Hence we would use the term ‘miracle’, for the purposes here of clarity, of what is not just the action of the divine Creator and Redeemer in the life of the Christian, or for that matter the maintenance in normal terms of various equipments made for the world or for man, the former adding a (relatively) unusual but still spiritually normative dimension for those who walk with the Lord. The term ‘miracle’ then, for clarity, could be reserved for what, whether in the Christian or the non-Christian, for those with the habitual comradeship of the Lord in terms of covenant received, or without it, constitutes a DIRECT ACTION which is in no sense normative, whether for the one or the other.
MIRACLES AND HISTORY: CO-EXISTENCE BUT NOT CONVERGENCE
In the case, then of Daniel, which is being considered, the lion case is a miracle. Its timing, its conditions, its case, the precise purpose of the lions and their den, their expectation and so on, together no doubt with the level of hunger induced in order to increase their destructive efficiency, all these things constitute this a miracle. He lived through the night, rewarding the anxious king with his God-praising presence; for the sovereign had spent a restless night, afraid of losing a man of God so outstanding, because of the subtle intrigue of the courtiers in their envy, for which they paid with death.
Yet even here, let us try to see the context of Daniel’s life, for although miracle this is, stunning it is not. The Lord has simply AMPLIFIED the DEGREE of PHYSICAL action, beyond the norm: He has not here started what does not happen at all. It is necessary to realise that the sort of renewal noted in Isaiah 40:27-31 is itself miraculous, except in our current definition; that it is if not constant, yet frequent, so that it would be marginally miraculous, being nearer to a renewal course. Yet in terms of supernatural intervention, however available, it is in any usual sense, certainly miraculous.
Let us then remind ourselves of this provision for the children of God:
Ø “Why do you say, O Jacob,
o And speak, O Israel:
o “My way is hidden from the Lord,
o And my just claim is passed over by my God”?
Ø “Have you not known?
o Have you not heard?
o The everlasting God, the Lord,
o The Creator of the ends of the earth,
o Neither faints nor is weary.
o His understanding is unsearchable.
Ø “He gives power to the weak,
o And to those who have no might He increases strength.
Ø “Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
o And the young men shall utterly fall,
Ø But those who wait on the Lord
o Shall renew their strength;
o They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
o They shall run and not be weary,
Ø They shall walk and not faint.”
This, from one’s own experience, is quite distinct from normal psychological review, distancing from a scene in order the better to comprehend it, facilitation in some way, invigoration through review of purposes or aims and so on. It is an enabling that is concrete in kind, absolute in disposition, spiritual in lustre and quality, mental and physical in result, that leads to all that is needed, and then more, so that one is like a car, not merely greased, oiled and fitted with new air filter, but given a new engine. It is transformatory rather than ameliorative.
It is of the quality that relates naturally to the supernatural, quietly to the Maker and efficaciously to the task which HE HAS IN MIND; for that is one of the apparent conditions in which this occurs. YOU have a task which HE has given you; and in the process, THIS is the provision. There are things to be done, results to be achieved, things to be changed, events to be secured. Before they seemed but dim hopes; now they are arrow-attracting targets.
Of course, this is not to demean the personal, for the Lord made the personal, but the person who is obeying God, as Peter told the rebellious religionists of his day, to Him the Spirit of God is given (Acts 5:31). It is not that the servants of the Lord who may be for a time disobedient (like Jonah) are not helped; but there is a certain constraint between ‘coach’ and ‘athlete’ which is palpable in such a case!
Miraculous as these things undoubtedly are, in any usual sense, we are excluding them here lest the singular character of the miraculous be terminologically submerged in the matters before us.
For Daniel in the lions’ den, this then was both a miracle, and an escalation to unusual heights of the normal experience as he walked with the Lord. It is equipped on the one hand, with a measure of continuity in that the Lord is so habitually active in one’s life, but on the other, this is a realm of action which by its very nature, is select, original and distinctive. It thus doubly qualifies as miracle, both on the one definition and the other; but not as in quality weird, strange or outlandish. It is a kiss instead of a hug. In this country, we do not socially kiss so very often, but may hug more frequently!
So too is the case with Daniel’s friends. Their disposition with Daniel, was intense, cordial with the Lord, expectant of action by Him as the case might require, one of fervent loyalty the God of Israel, to the living God, and their self-discipline and diligence was not the less notable because Daniel himself was so extraordinarily zealous and practical, wise and apprehending in the Lord, as if tutored direct, which in no small measure he was.
Their trial was different from that of Daniel. For them, it was a simple case of the mad paranoia of a monarch leading to a few steps, as so often seen in the last hundred years of our own times, so that he might be the better appreciated. The Red Book of Mao, the Green Book of Hussein, the power over Nature (which of course did not materialise for the materialist) of Stalin (cf. SMR p. 883), the disrupted havens of earthly heavens (cf. SMR pp. 971, *13), instituted by force, and distinguishable by acute suffering, the master race of Hitler, the master mace of continually anti-verified humanism and its portentous pretensions (cf. SMR pp. 1008-1011): all this carnal confusion is second nature culturally today.
It is abysmal in folly and irrational in type. So was Nebuchadnezzar who became a type for the end of such things… except that in his case, it may be that it finally came, through corrosion and corruption, to contrition.
With the young Jews, it was not a case of a Little Red Book, for his Nebs, but a golden statue to which all should bow. That was quite enough, but the case was most blessedly simple. The peoples (ALL peoples of course, so grand) were to fall down and WORSHIP the golden image, as so many do today, sacrificing all for the notable financial security and wiles that lead to their (temporary) survival and that (temporary, transient or vacant) of their dynasty to come, if it escapes drugs and those mature delinquencies which are their own gods, without power or glory. In such ways, they often seek to forward the establishment of the disestablished, and life for the dead.
Worship ? of gold ? What madness is this! Ah! but the case of the King here is that of an IMAGE of gold, a crafted thing, a representative thing, a contrived and created thing, like man, but without spirit or DNA. It is of course the worship of what the STATE directs which is in question, and that implies the worship first of all of the State or its King or both (Louis XIV ‘solving’ any dilemma in this by allegedly declaring, “L’Etat, c’est moi!” How personal a king!
How can man be worshipped whether in his bee-hive of state, or his ant-hill of industry ? Ridiculous, there is nothing there! Daniel’s friends had no intellectual, spiritual or moral problem. The thing royally commanded COULD not be done, any more than can one find any square root to minus 1. You can imagine it, but it isn’t there. It is a contradiction in terms. So is the worship of man, not of God.
The King sought to be kindly. They had not fallen down to worship, was it this that he told by report ? Very well, then came his response. In the spiritual insanity of his mode and his mood, he advised them in haste to do as required in the next opportunity, to fall down and worship the image; but if not, then the full weight of State power would be disposed against them in the format of a fiery furnace of escalating temperature.
Their answer is all but as much miracle, as the result. It has savour, is sufficient and terse. After all, to what are they replying ? Did not the king expressly state or indicate that there was no god who could deliver them!
This made it relatively easy (in principle but not for practice)! It was that delicious and quite delightful case where it is expressly STATED or clearly implied that there is NO GOD who can deliver from this. Here is a beautiful situation! A god who is not there is to be worshipped to supply the rank and rancid surrealism of a man and his State; and it is asserted that the God who is there is not so, and so cannot act. Glorious opportunity! These parallel propositions, like a railway line, allow for fast travel.
The situation and the challenge is seized by the three friends of Daniel with relish.
Let us read it:
Ø “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter.
Ø “If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king.
Ø “But if not, let it be
known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods,
nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”
Now it is not that God will assuredly preserve them from death, who allowed and indeed planned the sure death of His own Son in order to express His love for mankind in terms practical and through redemption thus composed, clad with effective power. The divine dynamic there was not to escape pain, nor even death, but to use it, overcome it, and produce and proclaim liberty from its source, in the name of the One who suffered, the Christ.
As we have just finished seeing in the book of Job, for suffering, there are many purposes and depths! However, that GOD can turn even death to the advantage of life, has long been clear. From divinely imparted wisdom, according to God’s own word, only good can come. They refuse the threat. They will not bow. There is no need to answer in this matter! There is a beauty like that fragrance of daphne, in that declaration to the king! It is not merely pious, not constrained with fear, not apprehensive, not a mere form. It is immediate, sanctified, sure and steadfast, governed not by obstinacy but by insight, not by self-will but by divine directive.
The refusal is wonderful; but in one aspect, it is the lesser of the matter. It is the WAY in which they refused it which is glorious. Let us therefore examine it more closely.
THE ANSWER THAT SINGS
“O Nebuchadnezzar,” they cry, with that nice personal approach to the man behind the sovereignty, for that is all he is, “we have no need to answer you in this matter.” They are young, but we do not have here to hear excuses of immaturity and the like. The case is too foolish to need deep thought, and the affront to God is too obvious to require from such men with such a sustained and substantial testimony as theirs (they had been elevated to high position in the State following Daniel’s dream interpretation through the express and recognised power of God, as in Daniel 2:46-48), to give a reason. They merely therefore DECLARE NO!
They proceeded for clarity a little. “If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us form the burning fiery furnace …,” they retorted. As to power, there is no problem: that of God is infinite, nor does He die as men do (Revelation 1:18-19, Psalm 90:2, 102:26-27 cf. SMR Ch. 1, Acme, Alpha and Omega: Jesus Christ, Ch. 8). There is no terminus to His rule, nor is any translocation of forces relevant. HE IS ABLE.
That established in front of the self-proclaiming idiocies of the State and its sovereign on that occasion, they proceed “ …and He will deliver us form your hand, O king.” This is now a practical fact. They WILL be delivered from the power of the king. As with Paul’s ascription to God in Philippians 1:20-21 and in II Timothy 4:18, his earnest expectation of deliverance from evil, whether it be by life or by death is comparatively indifferent: so here is it so, except of course God wants them to live to testify for Him any longer.
One way or
the other, there will be no crushing of their spirits, no sustainable
distortion of their words, no doubt about where they stand, with whom or why.
Let the State power roll on to its dastardly limits! Even today, as in
But what of those Islamic countries where submission is the fiasco of the State, when religions have it in its power, any indeed such as this religion ? What of the deaths, murders, imprisonments and the like, for one word which is DEEMED detrimental to Muhammad or whatever associations may be prescribed by the State! It is one and the same: a creation of man, an idol without warrant or background, a thing of force is substituted for the living God, and as it has been instituted, by force, so it is to be maintained.
Yet what has this to do with the truth, or the lives of men! (cf. More Marvels … Ch. 4). The terrorists extend the process from internal to a State, to external to the world, to use force instead of truth, and violence instead of virtue, to extinguish instead of create, though the mere attestation of force, the power to move matter at a certain acceleration is entirely irrelevant to truth.
Does a larger sports car engine in some way sanctify the driver when he crashes into some other car which from behind, he has been menacing ?
Daniel’s friends were unimpressed with force. However, they realised that in the DIVINE STRATEGY, God having given certainty regarding their deliverance, whether as with Paul by life or by death, just as they served ONLY Him with worship and final mastery in their lives: there was the possibility He might elect death. In that case, it would make no difference: God is God and they were His, so that the refusal is untainted by such outcomes.
continued: “But if not, let it be known to you, O
king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which
you have set up” – Daniel . They correctly specify the pagan
follies as gods, and their response in decisive outcome in will, and they imply
that it is merely something set up. This it was, in that case more obviously,
as in Victoria, just as really, but less obviously
(cf. Joyful Jottings Preface,13, 14,
pp. 99ff.; News 145, Pall of Smoke… Chs. 3, 10; Deliverance from Disorientation
Whatever the terrestrial outcome (and men die in the end, till Christ come), the incineration of their bodies or otherwise, they still will not acknowledge what is not, or worship what is a mirage. How could they! “We have no need to answer you in this matter …”
One is reminded in this case of a person of another race in this country, whose wife was reportedly asked if she would like him to steal someone’s car battery in order the better to meet financial needs.
“I am not even going to answer that!” she replied, or words to this effect. Since the man concerned was quite capable of becoming both drunk and violent, and the culture tended to be submersive of women, that was no small answer.
That too is evidently what Nebuchadnezzar thought. Not mere male dominance but royal rule and state worship, all were at stake. The furnace was given an almost incendiary combustion level, for its surrounds, so that those casting the three young men into the fire died.
PARALLELS AND PORTENTS
It is important however to realise that shrouded though this may be in drama, and expectant as the reader may be of some description of a mini-Auschwitz, of an incendiarism both horrific and remorseless, this is merely an extension of everyday life for these men. Their will and their way was with God. Daily this or that decision, loss, affront, confrontation had to be met as they served the invisible but intensely powerful king, in the adventures of a divine love and faithfulness, the object of which was certainly not mere survival on this earth for a little while longer, any more than the object of a captain is that his men stay on the field as long as possible.
This ‘game’ involves truth and the pardon of God, the good news of divine comradeship on a covenantal basis, involving the sacrifice of the Messiah (as Daniel touched on it also in 9:23ff.); and the continuation for a little longer of a given servant on this earth, on the basis that the rules should be broken, this was not a criterion of service or situation alike.
these men are cast into the fire, with this record and this contest, it is not
entirely unlike the Mt Carmel experience of Elijah (I Kings 18:20ff.). It is
epochal, and it is being wrought on the bodies of men who were faithful among the
many exiles taken forcibly to
Would it be so, in this case ? It was an open question, but what was sure was this, that their testimony and frank faithfulness to the living, active and abundantly validated God, exceedingly verified in His utterance, even to the point of the then current predicament of the Jews themselves in Babylon, absent from their own land as warned they would be, for 70 years (Jeremiah 25): this would be effective. It was so with those who were slain by the Auca Indians, and made the more so when Elizabeth Elliot, the wife of one, went back with pardon for the murderers of her husband in her heart, to help many to find the Lord, for they were amazed at such a response!
With Daniel’s friends, God acted. He did far more. He made use of the situation to reveal the actual presence of the fourth man, or one who looked like the Son of God (Daniel ). This figure is seen again in Daniel 10. The king discerns a king with a power he lacks, a deliverer with a zest that is better than his own, is impressed, amazed, calls on the men to come out, which they do, and here is the supernatural, you might almost say flaunted in his face; for their clothes did not show burning or even the smell of it.
How precisely verified in this epochal situation was Isaiah 64:5! How joyfully ardent their demeanour, how arduously perfect was their deliverance!
THE DIVINE STRATEGY ATTESTED
The king’s response came in vigorous terms. It included the idea of bringing demolition to the house of any breaching his decree. What was the force of his edict ? Woe betide any who would dare speak a word against the God of these young men! This was perhaps nearly as undiscerning as his assault on their persons! It made a secular rule out of a spiritual reality. However, to the extent it gave protection to freedom of expression, so daunted in Victoria, and perhaps in some danger in this State as in many another as men trade, alas, what is more important for what is less, and make man, though unmeasured, the measure of all things: it did well.
When therefore later, Daniel was also delivered from the lion’s den, is there a feeling of a miraculous highway ? Not at all. These are TWO instances, the dream a THIRD, for a period of seventy years. Further, although there is a fourth, in the case of Belshazzar, Daniel was in no danger in that case, and it only led to more testimony and more honour. A fifth vision came as in Daniel 10. That is no incredible number; but the strategy of it all is vast.
After all, this did not only concern four young men, for they were representatives of the best talent of Israel, squandered when it had its own independence, in the case of many misused lives, but here sanctified as the people suffered their divine rebuke. When the God of Israel IN THOSE CIRCUMSTANCES was verbally demeaned, and made to appear subservient in reality to the ludicrous protestations of the State on its own behalf, the State which God Himself had appointed to discipline Israel (Jeremiah 38:17ff.): then as at Mt Carmel, God might well decide to act.
had promised to be as ‘a little sanctuary’ to
How long of course, it is till Christ returns is unknown. Those who recall The Sound of Music may remember the performer who, just before the escape of the von Trapps, was bowing seemingly interminably to right and left, after receiving a minor prize. While she did, they escaped from behind the concert hall. What of this world as its destiny creeps up like an assassin ? but in fact like judgment! Time is escaping now, and how long the finale will take before the curtains fall is STATEDLY unpredictable (Acts 1:7ff.), and that for no strange reason (Matthew 24:29ff.), since the faithful are to be found operative in integrity, not coached, crammed, primed for merely superficial performance concerning a known date.
The signals however are in place, the flags of communication are flapping meaningfully in the wind, for those who care to consult the symbols and interpret their message (Answers to Questions Ch. 5). The time is “near” (Luke ).
Our point however remains, that then as now, Israel, in both cases following profound disobedience to the Lord whose they were as a nation (cf. Joshua 24), has been used to demonstrate the power of God. It is not easy to do this when the people are themselves, as a whole, disobedient; and school teachers can reflect on the difficulty of bringing out a good result from a poor student. However with God all things are possible, and so very possible that He even divulges to mankind, much of His divine strategy before events, the more impressively to maintain them before men when they happen (cf. Isaiah 48).
with the three young wisdom cadets in
It is profoundly pleasant to see depicted an aged Daniel (as in Daniel 10), a little after the famed and predicted (Isaiah 44-45) liberation message of Cyrus of Persia, one which allowed the Jews to return to their land, the 70 years duly completed as announced prophetically in advance’ He is seen sitting on the bank of a river. To him, arrested by grace, vision is again granted.
The whole history had already unfolded, to the extent that the Jews were driven out of their land, the young men had grown old in the service of God in this strange land, a kingdom had gone as predicted (Daniel 5), both on the spot and far earlier in Isaiah (13), the dreams of the king had been interpreted. Further, history to come had thus been focussed at the highest level of attention, before a whole court, when the vision exposed the nature of kingdoms to come, and this had been expended in detail as in Daniel 7 and 9. Now, as Daniel sits there, the degradation of Nebuchadnezzar is over, and his restoration with a ringing testimony to God on his lips (Daniel 4:34ff.): it is all past.
TWILIGHT AND ETERNAL LIGHT
On the river bank he sits and is given now a vast canvas of history. This quiet event following the day of Darius when Daniel predicted the (now fulfilled) death date of the Messiah (cf. Highway of Holiness Ch. 4), as in Daniel 9:24-27, yes and the dereliction He was to suffer, is before us. But why was the Messiah so to suffer (Daniel ): and why is He to be ‘cut off’ so that ‘there is nothing for Him’ ? It because the evacuation of suffering is not the purpose, but the institution of salvation, a method which leads to a destiny in those thus securely reconciled to God, by sacrifice, not their own, but His own (Hosea 13:14, Ezekiel 34, Isaiah 50-55). These words had long preceded those of Daniel in the latter part of the 6th century (cf. SMR pp. 1082ff.).
Daniel at this time has been fasting for three weeks. It is now in the day of Cyrus, a while after the first consignment of Jews have returned, that this elder statesman and prophet of the Lord is told of God’s own love for him, and given an overview of history of the most amazing kind, accurate as ever, precise and ultimate, leading to the very resurrection (Daniel 10-12). This has been pondered in detail in Highway of Holiness Ch. 10, with other perspective overviews.
The end of this account, in Ch. 12 includes the famed predictions of the excessive travel and the vast increments of knowledge to be characteristic of the final stage of the Age, before the resurrection.
In all these ways, one sees precisely the frequency of the supernatural divulgements to Daniel (though these are not so frequent as to make the 70 year period in the slightest degree alien to normal historical venues), the intensity of the divine solicitude, the care of God over His people, the ruthlessness of man without God or without the living God. With this cardinal omission, man is seen proceeding down the line of revealed history, in the vision of Danniel. What is he doing en masse, en bloc ? He is merely following the cultural accretions of his own mind and sullenly dignifying them with the name of their Creator.
But what of the action and intrusion of God, on various occasions, relative to Daniel: these are not so seldom found as to make the matter an oddity, nor yet so often as to make courage and constancy, patience and purity a mere additive.
is the fellowship of the sufferings of Christ, the power of God and the
knowledge of God all combined, this time, not in Paul but in Daniel. The
similarities are profound. In each case, you have someone called, consecrated
and zealous; tested, tried and
threatened with death, exposed; and just as Paul was left for dead after being
stoned (Acts 14:19-20), so Daniel was left, as far as the mere connivers were
concerned, for death by violence. They were guileful terrorists of their own
day, and they fell at the wrath of the King, when God intervened to deliver
Daniel. None delivered them, and they
had evidently sold their souls for nothing but shame, a poor exchange, and a
dim one in the presence of light which instead of sharing, they envied! (Cf. The
YOU, God said to Daniel (), go your way, and you will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days. Some of us will be seeing more of Daniel soon, and just as God has dealt with David in his word and deed alike, with Jeremiah, with Samuel, with Paul, with Stephen, with Philip, so does He humble Himself to help His servants, however lowly (Psalm 113:6). So He moves, intervening on occasion, often trying patience, showing His hand at His pleasure, using strategic brilliance, intertwining suffering often like the lacework which can so adorn a garment, not without feeling, but not without reason, in love helping us who try to help make up what remains of the sufferings of Christ in finding the ear of our generation, before it is too late (cf. Colossians 1:24 cf. Ch. 1 above).
You will observe that INTIMACY of the knowledge of God, whether in guidance as for Philip (Acts 8), spiritual sustenance as for Paul (II Cor. 1, 12), for reinforcement as for David (Psalm 30,35), assurance (Psalm 16, II Timothy -18, , I Thessalonians 1:9-10, Philippians -21, I Cor. 15), and that it is a background to these involvements with Daniel. Just as a friend’s well-known house may be a background for many visits, so is the knowledge of God the river in which the episodes, like sticks carried along, are flowing. Observable likewise is the way in which it can mingle, as a zephyr can touch one’s legs by a river in Summer, with events (as in Daniel so often). Zephyrs do not always blow, but they do sometimes, the more appreciated for that!
Then, as for the much displaced world of today, all this is strongly immersed in a day of suffering, yet not one without deliverance, nor yet is the deliverance without meaning or portent, impact or teaching, to help those who do not believe to find the way, and those who do to rejoice the more! The power in the frankly miraculous for God’s people is not so much mere power, as an extension of a continual oasis, in the occasional dimensions of a geyser. The principle is there: and it is the same.
God is personal, and moves in all these various ways; so that not only are all the books of the Bible of one message, one mind, one set of symbols, one set of meanings for those symbols, one way of salvation since the Fall; but this is itself a type of more.
God Himself is One, not only in number, as one Being, but constant in His faithfulness; for whether it be suffering or miracle, deliverance or drama, the knowledge of Him is to be embraced by all these things in their way, as He dispenses, now an examination, now a test, now a grim drama, now a great light, now a testing seething clime, and now a peace which passes all understanding which comes like the evening, in its own habitual glory, the joy of the setting sun glinting on the rivers of His reality as one prepares to end the day.