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Friday: Further Thought ~ From Lions’ Den to Angel’s Den — 20 Comments

  1. It is interesting that in the story at the centre of our study this week, the real driver for the “persecution” was jealousy. What Daniel believed and practiced was unimportant to the protagonists. They used Daniel’s faithfulness as a situation that would result in their own promotions. This was in spite of the fact that the Babylonian and the Achaemenid
    Empires were relatively tolerant of other religions.

    I have done a lot of reading about the persecution periods of later kingdoms and principalities just to get a handle on how persecution works and have found that one of the big factors has been popular local demand, even more so than state policy. To put it in the vernacular, it is the rabble that is often responsible for persecution.

    Even in Biblical times, its was the rabble was often responsible for persecution. Take the crucifixion of Jesus for example. Jesus should have been freed by the Roman government, but a weak leadership, seeking to find favour with the rabble, gave in to their demands to crucify him. Paul in Ephesus upset the local vendors of Diana memorabilia, and their rabble were the ones that demanded that he be killed.

    During the worst excesses of the Dark ages, it was rabble who would spy on others and accuse them of being a witch, or Jew, or nonconformist, and so on. Many of the charges were often trumped-up merely because they did not like the person.

    This attitude of attacking the unliked/unwanted, or different, by the mob lives on today and we see it in full force with trolling on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. Unfortunately. As always, big players like politicians are now “playing the rabble”, encouraging them to advance their cause using the “people power” of social media.

    Irrespective of the age or technology, the underlying human characteristic driving man’s inhumanity to one another is greed for power and control. Does that remind us of someone?

    You said in your heart,
    “I will ascend to the heavens;
    I will raise my throne
    above the stars of God;
    I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
    on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon.
    I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
    I will make myself like the Most High.”
    Isa: 14:1,14 NIV

    • When you ask the question, "Does that remind you of someone?", my immediate answer was, "Me." There are shadows of these motives that linger in my heart. I forget about them until I see them in my behavior. Perhaps I say something unkind to someone or find myself plotting a way to make sure my preferences win the day. Then I remember. In retrospect, I see that the Holy Spirit has been working overtime in changing my heart, but there is plenty of evidence that there is still work to be done. Praise God, the work WILL be finished by Him. (Philippians 1:6)

      The passage quoted from Isaiah reminds me from who these traits were inherited.

      • Surprisingly, your answer is not wrong. To all created beings, self becomes the center as blindness. The only confidence that we really have to develop is about the Grace that Jesus left us! All in us is deceiving, but connected to Christ we can become a light for Him! Have a great day.

      • Amen Jeffrey!

        No outward observances can take the place of simple faith and entire renunciation of self. But no man can empty himself of self. We can only consent for Christ to accomplish the work. Then the language of the soul will be, Lord, take my heart; for I cannot give it. It is Thy property. Keep it pure, for I cannot keep it for Thee. Save me in spite of myself, my weak, unchristlike self. Mold me, fashion me, raise me into a pure and holy atmosphere, where the rich current of Thy love can flow through my soul. COL 159.3

        It is not only at the beginning of the Christian life that this renunciation of self is to be made. At every advance step heavenward it is to be renewed. All our good works are dependent on a power outside of ourselves. Therefore there needs to be a continual reaching out of the heart after God, a continual, earnest, heartbreaking confession of sin and humbling of the soul before Him. Only by constant renunciation of self and dependence on Christ can we walk safely. COL 159.4

        • These 2 quotes are excellent descriptions/unpackings of how God collaboratively partners with us and we collaboratively partner with God in the salvation process. It describes some to the practical ways that we 'work-out' our salvation to co-operate with God's working within us to will and to do in accordance with our salvific restoration (as per Philippians 2:12,13).

          • My reading of these quotes underscores our helplessness and how Christ alone saves us.

            We acknowledge our helplessness and surrender to Him. Then, He begins the work and finishes the work in us (Philippians 1:6). We receive and accept salvation by a faith we cannot even generate ourselves, for it too is a gift from Him (Heb. 12:2).

          • There are many who believe and profess to claim the Lord’s promise; they talk about Christ and about the Holy Spirit, yet receive no benefit. They do not surrender the soul to be guided and controlled by the divine agencies. We cannot use the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is to use us. Through the Spirit God works in His people “to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13. But many will not submit to this. They want to manage themselves. This is why they do not receive the heavenly gift. Only to those who wait humbly upon God, who watch for His guidance and grace, is the Spirit given. The power of God awaits their demand and reception. This promised blessing, claimed by faith, brings all other blessings in its train. It is given according to the riches of the grace of Christ, and He is ready to supply every soul according to the capacity to receive.

            The Faith I Live By by Ellen G. White

          • Thanks Sieg for your most recent quote also.

            When I agree with Paul that we are to "work out" our own salvation - to be actively and collaboratively involved - I am in essence referring to the same processes as Ellen White overviews in the COL 159.4 quote you provided:

            * a continual reaching out of the heart after God
            * a continual, earnest heartbreaking confession of sin and humbling of the soul before Him
            * constant renunciation of self and (constant) dependence on Christ.

            God gives us the empowerment to be able to do these things and does all He can to try and "draw" us to desire to do so, but He cannnot do these above mentioned things for us. These things are what God needs us to do. These things are all active activities on our part - by their nature they cannot be carried out passively. These are the things that 'work-out' the actuality of our salvation (the progressive healing and restoring of us back to greater and greater Christlikeness - the reversal and repair of what happened from humanity's Genesis 1 & 2 intended state to its Genesis 3 unintended state).

            The concept of 'work-out' aligns with our concept of a 'workout' whereby we intentionally and repetitively undertake a training (or re-training) process. This matches with the developmental nature of created beings. This dynamic of intentional and repetitive undertaking (ie working-out) can be seen in the dot points above that were stated by Ellen White.

  2. 2 Thessalonians 2:15 KJV Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.

    Dear brother Maurice, I understand you very well when you say you had to learn to trust people because you were brought up as a SDA child and taught not to trust others.

    Nearly everyone has their childhood story. Could this be why Jesus says we all need to be born again? My mother is afraid of faith because of the arguments she heard between different religious beliefs. Mostly between Protestant denominations. When I told her that I had started to believe in God she immediately tried to stop me. When I told her she called me Paul, in fact Peter Paul, she even said that she regretted that, if I was to get too involved in religion and would talk to others about God much. My youngest sister, I am the youngest of 6, one brother died age 50, met me with sunglasses because of crying so much. Not only because of my divorce but more because it had made me turn to God.

    Lucifer, the serpent and the roaring lion is the principal cause. He has deceived all in one way or another and you and I and everyone need the Holy Spirit to resist deception. Look at all the conspiracy theories that are not truth. Man is not capable of constructing these. Lucifer can. He wants us to overly distrust each other and hate each other. He also likes it that we believe that we can do so much on our own and forget to let Jesus deal with our own sins through the Holy Spirit, and forget our dependency on God. You know, we are not independent of Him, we only have the free will to acknowledge it or not.

    And also, he wants us to forget about his other great conspiracy.... His part in the Great Controversy.

    Is the nun still alive? Or did you meet her before she died? Perhaps she became an Adventist or you could have helped her to become a stronger believer in SDA truth then you and me.

    We need the Holy Spirit, which transforms us and will make us righteous through faith. Righteousness through faith is a very important SDA doctrine. I believe the Holy Spirit guided me to write this here in this place and time.

    May our Father and His Son Jesus Christ use us through the Holy spirit to present the Truth with love and to conquer satan and his innumerable deceptions. And help our brothers, family, friends, and everyone who wants to hear.

    No more us and them. Our Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, satan, our sinful selves, and our brotherly love are involved.

    I am editing this in my lunch break but whatever I write I realize will be poor. I need more Holy Spirit and more love. Please Father, send us the Holy Spirit. Let us pray.

    • Hi Paul;

      You have obviously taken time to read some of my older comments and I appreciate your interest and response. I like to think that in this conversation we are all learners, seeking not only a better understanding but a better relationship with both Jesus and one another. When I was a lecturer, I was always surprised and delighted by what my students taught me and I realised (Much later than I should have) that as a teacher I was not the great fount of knowledge, but a fellow learner with my students.

      That is how it should be in our Christian experience also. Regarding my Catholic nun colleague; I don't know whether she is still alive or not. I finished teaching nearly 10 years ago and she was still teaching then, and still defending the needy. I never questioned her about her perception of Adventist views on Catholicism because it would have been pointless. Her quiet consistent work was witness enough to her Christianity.

      Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. John 1:27 KJV

      In that respect she was a witness to me.

  3. All the glory must be to God! Just yesterday, a colleague at work came up to me talking about a subject that she knows I teach at the University, because she needed a new professor. She added that it would be hard for me to take over that class because it was on fridays nights. I never told her that I keep the Sabbath, probably someone who knows me longer have told her. With all my defects and no talent to preach she got to know about some principle I try to live by. In this so called modern world, where everyone is supposed to be tolerant with each other's faith, may we find ways of preaching by living! And again, all the glory be to God, who gives us the opportunity to keep one more Sabbath. May we all continue in this faith until He comes again! Happy Sabbath to all.

  4. The only safe path is in the hands of Jesus.

    Jealous is a very subtle sin, starts small and then flourish into death. Humans are very jealous of each other- starting from nothing to something. It doesn’t matter what others have, others need it. It started in heaven and continue to earth. It will get worse as we continue along life. Whether people in the church or not, it’s the same.
    #3. Daniel was a true prophet. Many want to “dare to be a Daniel”. But unless they have the same spirit like Daniel they can’t accomplish anything. It was Jesus dwelling in Daniel. Jesus can be dwelling in us but Daniel calling and ours might be different. We need to brighten the corner where we are. We all have different talents, some have different spiritual gifts. Let us be led daily by the Holy Spirit. Many waiting to do great things for Jesus and allowing the little opportunities to pass them by. Jesus is directing the little as well as the great opportunities. Eg sometimes people refuse to preach to few people because they feel they should be preaching to a larger crowd. The same Jesus is in the small crowd as the large one.

  5. I thought it was interesting that the lesson asked if there could have been any justification for Daniel to change the way he prayed. My thought was that there would have been no other way for him to act. Had he closed his window or just prayed back in his room where no one would have seen him, in my eyes, would have been a danger to Daniel and would have nullified any influence he had with Darius. Look at what the results were. Before Daniel was cast into the den of very hungry lions, Darius assures him that the God he serves is able to deliver him. That is amazing! Daniel had already shown the king by his daily life, that he served a God that could do that. If Daniel had not stepped up to the challenge, all that would have never been known, and the danger to Daniel was more compromise in his life. And what about the amazing compliment that was paid Daniel by his antagonists, that the one way they knew they could get him was that he held fast to his beliefs.

  6. When Daniel prayed, he did not use words that were vague and ambiguous that some clever defense attorney could argue were really made to Darius because they didn’t specify which god was addressed.

    Prayer is a legitimate public testimony, and we should seek to use it as God leads us.

    Daniel was a favorite of the king. He had experience, wisdom, a sense of history, leadership, a good reputation, ability, attitude and revelation from the God of heaven. Apparently, God wanted him in this place of influence to encourage and assist in the Jews’ return to Judah, since the return was made in Cyrus’ first year, right before the lions den incident.
    From the record (of Ezra 1 and 6), all the basic elements of the return appear:
    (1) The temple was to be rebuilt with the cost paid from Cyrus’ treasury;
    (2) All Jews who visited could return, and those who stayed were urged to assist financially; and
    (3) The gold and silver vessels stolen from the temple by Nebuchadnezzar were to be taken back.
    To account for such favor toward the Jews, it is easy to think of Daniel not only influencing Cyrus to write such a decree, but even formulating it for him.

  7. Today’s lesson states “God calls some to witness by living and others by dying.“

    This portrayal of God bothers me. It suggests that those who die do so because God “calls” them to die - or as the next sentences implies, that they die essentially because God "granted" them death rather than deliverance from death.

    I believe God’s will is that His faithful followers would live but that there are other factors at play that often mean that this is compromised. See Job 2:3 for but one example. Essentially, this verse states that what happened to Job was contrary to God’s preference. Or consider Matthew 26:39 where Jesus asked if the path that lay ahead could be avoided - but it couldn’t.

    It is the same when it comes to children and adults being abused. God did not “call” them to be abused - and He didn’t stop it either. Was it because He could have but chose not to? Now this may feel uncomfortable for some (as it was for me initially). Essentially, Job 2:3 shows that God’s hands are 'tied' at times in the zone of our present temporal ‘probationary reality’ due to the freedom that must necessarily be granted to sin and Satan. That is an unpleasant reality to face. But the prospect that God had the power to prevent abuse and instead chose not to use it for someone is a far more unpleasant prospect.

    When we also consider the concept expressed in Romans 8:28 - that while there are factors that mean God’s preference is not possible in certain situations, God is nevertheless able to bring an optimal outcome from that situation when viewed from the perspective of eternity looking backward (in the rear view mirror so to speak). Thus, God’s hands are not tied when it comes to the realm of eternal reality. This is reflected in Hebrews 11.

    God rules and is Sovereign in the way He does so - there is no doubt. But it is not in the way we typically think and portray.

    • Phil, there are some troubling concepts in this post: 1) “what happened to Job was contrary to God’s preference”; 2) “God’s hands are ‘tied’ at times...” especially demonstrated in Job 2:3.
      First, are you basing your concepts on Sis White’s statements of God’s obligation to defend Himself against Satan’s supposed accusations? Would creator God spend any time defending Himself against a creature who is the father of lies from the beginning?
      It was God who challenged Satan boasting about Job’s blamelessness/uprightness knowing exactly what his response would be. Satan insinuated that Job’s allegiance was specious, that it was only because God prospered him. Satan begged, as he did with Peter, for access to Job’s prosperity. It is God who elevated Satan to Antagonist so that His power and His name might be made known to all in heaven and earth (Ex 9:15,16; Eph 3:10,11). In Job 2:3 God is using human language accepting responsibility for His part in the sufferings (“without cause”) of Job, who was experiencing the sufferings of Christ. God is here proving the power of Faith, His gift, over anything Satan could employ against His people. This is not natural common faith, like Thomas’, which is honed by experience and tuned to the senses. This is God’s Faith, the gift which he graciously imparts to/infuses into His children; suffering is a gift too (Phil 1:29; Eph 2:8; Rom 10:17; Tit 1:1). Liar Satan was so sure that Job would turn against God on both occasions. “Who (elect) are kept/guarded by the POWER of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”(1 Pt 1:5) How are God’s “hands tied” in this affair! Note Paul’s exaltation of God in a similar situation, God having laid upon him a messenger of Satan. Paul implored the Lord three times to take it away. God said, “My Grace is sufficient for you, for POWER is perfected in weakness.” “Most gladly, therefor, I will boast in my weakness, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefor I am well content with weaknesses, insults, distresses, persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”(2 Cor 12:7-10). God boasted to Satan of Job’s faithfulness knowing what Satan would propose. No tied hands there.
      It was Christ’s humanity that sought relief from the overwhelming soul trouble He was experiencing. “Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name!”(Jn 12:27,28). Christ had covenanted with the Father concerning this redemption. God takes responsibility in this case this way - “But the Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself a guilt offering, He will see His seed,... and the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.”(Isa 53:10,11). Christ was perfected by/in His sufferings. In Job God was proving His overwhelming conquering Faith, and Job was being perfected also (James 1:2-4; 1 Pt 1:6,7).
      These are not incidents that God turned into “good”. These are God’s planned and executed purposes. There is no reality forcing God’s hand. Note that not a word was heard from liar Satan, not even a lie.

      • Thanks for raising your concerns Kenny. I have reviewed them carefully along with the references provided as I re-examined my stated position again in light of your raised points. No, I was not referring to any Ellen White materials.

        Consider 2 Peter 3:9 where God's preference is expressed. Then compare with what will be the unfortunate reality as outlined by Jesus in Matthew 7:13,14 and also in Revelation 20:7-15. The same principle is manifest in Deuteronomy 23:14 where God's preference is to be able to walk in the midst to rescue and defeat enemies - but if there is unholiness/indecency in the camp, God will be 'forced' (required to act contrary to His preference) to turn away from the camp/people instead. Thus we see that God is prevented from having things happen the way He would prefer due to the existence of something (a reality occurance) that is contrary to His preference and that He necessarily needs to respond to in a way that is also not His preference (eg, turn away from the camp when He would rather/prefer to walk in the midst of the camp to rescue and defend).

        If there was no reality forcing God's hand, then was Satan's rebellion and fall, the subsequent fall of Adam and Eve and all the ensuing suffering that has been experienced - especially the suffering of the innocent - God's preferred planned and executed purpose?

        If there was no reality occurance that 'forced' God's hand (so to speak), then essentially it is God who is the author of suffering since He could have prevented its occurance and still retained freedom of choice. However, this is at odds with Jesus summary statement in John 10:10.

        On the other hand, if God could not prevent the above mentioned situation regarding Satan's fall and the consequential cascade of effects and impacts, then God has needed to respond to a reality that is external to His preference/way. Having to allow and respond to something that is outside of God's preference, intention and desire is in essence 'forcing' His hand. I would propose that this in no way diminishes God's sovereignty - provided we don't assume God's sovereignty is as limited as our typical notion of sovereignty.

        Briefly, in reply to your suggestion that God is embracing responsiblity in Job 2:3, I would counter-propose that the last phrase in that verse is conveying the opposite: "... you incited Me against him without cause". Had Satan not incited God, God would not have had to do what He had to do (ie release Job into Satan's hand: Job 2:6). This dynamic is further reinforced in the ensuing statement in Job 2:7 where Satan then departed from God's and undertook the carrying out of his (satan's) preference - the 'striking' of Job.

        I am not expecting you to agree with me but I would be interested in your response. Feel free to respond further...


        • Phil, Job 1:11 explains Job 2:3. “But put forth Your hand now and touch/strike all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face”(Job 1:11). God putting forth His hand and striking is His visiting judgment, wrath, indignation against sin, the wicked, His adversaries...(Ps 32:4,5; 38:2-4; 1 Sam 6:9; Isa 53:4,5). Note Job’s declaration, “Pity me, pity me, O you, my friends, for the hand of God has struck me. Why do you persecute me as God does, and are not satisfied with my flesh?(Job 19:21,22). But to God Job is actually blameless, and fears God. He is neither guilty of sin, nor an enemy to God.

          Therefore God’s statement:”... and he still holds fast his integrity, although you incited Me against him to ruin him “without cause”. God immediately replied to Satan in 1:12: “Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.” There is God’s sovereign authority over all. God, throughout Scripture, gives us previews, types of the Christ to come. Christ, the sinless/blameless suffers the wrath of God against sin for His people, to the glory of the Father. God is glorified in Job. Job remained faithful to God through God’s power (1 Pt 1:5) just like Christ who cried out, “why have you forsaken Me”.

          2 Pt 3:9: “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward YOU, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” Who are the you that are addressed? “Simon Peter,... to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: ... since that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness... who CALLED us by His own glory and excellence...” (2 Pt 1:1-3). So the reason for the delay of the Lord’s return is his patience toward His people, not the world. He affirms that all will come to repentance. Peter calls them the Elect in 1 Pt 1:1,2. They are the called of Rom 1:6,24; 8:29,30; Acts 2:39; Jude 1; Rev 17:14. They are from every tribe, tongue, nation, and people.

          God is not “forced” into anything. Israel ‘freely’ covenanted with God: “All the words which the Lord has spoken we will do.” (Ex 24:3). All God’s promises to Israel were contingent on their fulfilling their part of the covenant. This was no matter of God’s preference. He knew that they would/could not fulfill their promise (Dt 5:27-29; Dt 29:4). The New Covenant is about only One making promises to be fulfilled. That is sovereign God (Gal 3;19,20: Jer 31:31,34; Ezk 11:19,20; 36:26,27.

          God created the universe according to a plan and purpose. There could be no mistakes in omnipotent, omniscient God’s plan (Ps 139:16; Ezk 37:26; Isa 14:24,27). All his purposes will be accomplished (Job 42:2). Christ’s incarnation was planned in eternity passed (1Pt 1:20; Acts 2:23; 4:25-28). All things have occurred exactly as God has planned. He is obligated to no one (Dan 4:34,35).

          • Thanks Kenny for taking the time and effort to outline your perspective in detail. It helps me better understand how you see things.

            God bless you...


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