The Festival of the Reformation
Text: Daniel 6:10-12, 16-23
It smelled like a combination of a zoo and a butcher shop. It was dark, damp, and downright eerie. As he shuffled to the corner, he stumbled over several stray ribs and a jawbone. Then came the blast—a deafening cacophony of primal roars that nearly shattered his old eardrums and almost blew the last few gray hairs off his head. The beastly pride circled closer. Featherlike whiskers gently brushed against his arms, temporarily masking the dagger-like, fang-filled jaws. Cowering in the corner, there was nowhere to go and nothing to do . . . except one of the things he did best. Pray.
That’s how Daniel got there in the first place. Persian king Darius was duped by his administrators to publish a decree that for 30 days no person could pray to any god or man except to him. Sure! Why not make the decree? He was the king and he thought of himself as a god anyways. Sounded like a fun decree to make for a month! Unfortunately Darius forgot about one of his righthand men—Daniel. Daniel was that faithful, noble Jew that had served the Babylonian kingdom and now his Persian kingdom for more than 60 years. He was the one man who always seemed to help and never seemed to fail. Daniel was the one man he could always count on. But he was also one of the men that would not stop praying to the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no changing a law of the Medes and Persians, so Daniel had to go in the lions’ den. Darius hoped Daniel’s God whom he served could rescue him. Read the rest of this entry
Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel? . . . and Luther? . . . and Me?
Text: Daniel 6:10-12, 16-23
538 B.C. A man is alone in his upper room. He’s kneeling. Humbly he implores his God to give him strength and courage. Dutifully he thanks his God for countless blessings. The man’s name is Daniel. Daniel is a Jew living in exile in the land of Persia (formerly Babylon). Daniel is so distinguished among his peers though that Persian king Darius planned to make him second in command over the entire Persian Empire. This didn’t sit well with the Persian leaders.
So they concocted a plan to schmooze king Darius and convince him to make it a law that no one in the land could pray to any god or man except him. Unwittingly, Darius signed the dotted line. Now Daniel knelt in his upper room praying as he always did, yet this time he did so with his future in doubt and his life on the line.
2,059 years later. 1521 A.D. Another man is alone in his upper room. He’s kneeling. Humbly he implores his God to give him strength and courage. Dutifully he thanks his God for countless blessings. The man’s name is Martin—Martin Luther. Martin Luther is a German living in Germany which was part of the Holy Roman Empire—the empire ruled by Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. Luther was also living in the midst of the equally powerful empire of the Roman Catholic Church and Pope Leo X. Read the rest of this entry
Devotion Text: Daniel 7:9-10
Could there be a more terrifying scene?
God granted the prophet Daniel a sneak-peak of a one-time and final event, the Last Judgment on Judgment Day. And what a terrifying vision it was!
Daniel saw Jesus, our Judge, seated on his throne. He is called the Ancient of Days because he is eternal–without beginning or end. His clothing and hair were bright white, brighter than the sun and whiter than any bleach could make them. (Remember Jesus at his transfiguration?) The bright white symbolizes his perfection and holiness. His throne was on fire, symbolizing his all-consuming power, and it had wheels because he is able to go anywhere he wants whenever he wants. Countless thousands of angels surrounded Jesus, for he is King of earth and heaven. Court was now in session. The books were opened.
How terrifying! What would it say in the book about you? How many sins would it list for your life? What deep and dark secrets would be exposed? (Though God already knows them!) Oh, all of the sin and unrighteousness! We are not even worthy to stand in the presences of such a holy and powerful God!
It will probably set the record for the fastest trial and quickest verdict ever! The verdict will come swiftly and forcefully, and it will be a final and everlasting verdict as well. Jesus will open the books, look at your account, and announce . . . “Innocent.”
Such is the grace of our Savior. When he will sit upon his mighty throne on the Last Day, with all his enemies crushed below him and used as his footstool, and with all of the books opened up and ready for judgment, he will look at your account and see no wrongs. For all of your sins–big and small, overt and covert, intentional and unintentional–have been washed away in the crimson tide of his blood. The Mighty Judge is also our Loving Lamb, who laid down his life in our place to receive the punishment we deserve. Thus, when our account is inspected for judgment, only Jesus’ righteousness and perfection will be seen. His work and his holiness is credited to our account! What a great exchange of God’s grace!
So we read Daniel today and we join to say: Could there be a more comforting scene? There is no terror in Judgment Day at all! Our sins have been paid for and erased. Our account is filled with Christ’s righteous works. Our judgment was accomplished on the cross, and applied to us through our faith. There is no fear! Jesus our Savior has forgiven and saved us, so Jesus our Judge will welcome us into his heavenly kingdom!
Prayer: Lord Jesus, I humbly fall before you, the Judge of all, knowing all my sins. I know I am worthy only of your greatest punishment. Yet in your mercy you lived for me and died for me. Grant me comfort and peace now, knowing that your work has become mine, and knowing that on the Last Day you will gladly welcome me into your eternal kingdom. For your great grace I thank and praise you all my days. Amen.
Devotion Text: Daniel 6:10-12; 16-23
Daniel knew what he was doing.
He knew the law. Daniel knew that praying to his God would get him into trouble. He remembered the persecution his people had faced under Nebuchadnezzar and he knew the Persians could be just as ruthless.
He would not get away with this.
Calmly, Daniel walked up to the upper floor of his house, cast open his windows and faced the remnants of God’s temple in Jerusalem. Knowing the danger full well, Daniel got down on his knees to defy the king and pray.
You see, Daniel didn’t just know the danger he faced, he also knew the promises of his LORD.
As a boy, Daniel had heard the stories of God’s great protecting hand, from Noah to Moses to David. Daniel remembered when three of his friends had been thrown into a fiery furnace and emerged unharmed. Now an older man, Daniel could look back and see God’s guidance in his own life as had been brought to his high calling.
How could the same God who had sustained him to this point, fail him now?
We know the story well. After Darius threw Daniel into the lions den, an angel protected Daniel throughout the night. Daniel walked away without a single scratch and the LORD was worshiped throughout Persia.
Yet, have you ever thought, “what if God didn’t protect Daniel?” Would Daniel have been any worse off? If God had chosen that moment to bring his faithful believer to heaven and chosen another to proclaim his power to the Persians, Daniel’s eternal fate would have been the same.
The greatest miracle with Daniel is not an angel who shut the mouths of lions, but the strengthening of Daniel’s faith to face certain death in order to proclaim the LORD’s name.
May God grant that same faith to us as we face the ridicule, the persecution, and the temptations of this world.
Prayer: Dearest Jesus, give me the faith of Daniel! Too often, I shrink back when I am asked to proclaim your majesty and your mercy. Too often, I worry about the earthly cost. Forgive me LORD, and strengthen my faith to stand up to earthly trials in your name. To you alone be the glory! Amen.
End Time 4: Christ the King Sunday
By Pastor James Huebner, Grace Lutheran Church, Milwaukee, WI
The Son of Man Reigns
Text: Daniel 7:13-14
Have you noticed that many writers and producers of action movies are relying more and more on the “Wow!” factor. In other words, the pyrotechnics and special effects have to knock people’s socks off with the goal of making each movie more spectacular than the last. Decades ago audiences were thrilled by action scenes which would seem today to be boring. Obviously, the “Wow!” factor keeps changing. Credit the computer age. For example, there’s a real difference between the special effects of the first “Stars Wars” movie in 1977 and those of “Revenge of the Sith” in 2005. There’s a real difference between the special effects of the 1962 James Bond movie “Dr. No” and “Casino Royale” of 2006. Even the movie trailers presented as television commercials make us go “Wow!”
What was the “Wow!” factor in the days of the prophet Daniel two thousand six hundred years ago? What would it take to make people go, “Wow!” When God communicated with the people who recorded his thoughts and words in the Bible, God did not use computerized special effects. But he did often create a “Wow!” factor with some spectacular visions. Daniel was one of those who received from God a vision with a high “Wow!” factor. In this vision he saw four big, scary beasts – a lion with wings of an eagle, a bear up on its feet with three ribs from its prey sticking out of its mouth, a leopard with wings and four heads, and then an unnamed beast with iron teeth and ten horns – and remember that a horn was not just a symbol of power but was used by a ferocious beast to gore and kill its pray. Daniel tells us that this unnamed beast was terrifying and frightening … it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left (Dn 7:7). Each beast represented a world power that either in Daniel’s day or in the following centuries would dominate the then-known world – Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome. Then from that last beast came a horn that had eyes and a mouth (human qualities), spouting the scariest thing you can imagine, scarier than a Halloween movie, scarier than a hurricane, scarier than swine flu, something that can take people straight to hell – false doctrine. That vision is worthy of a big-time, “Wow!” Read the rest of this entry