I was once advised to study the Word like I study my textbooks. That looked quite different from what I typically did, which was skimming the words on the pages until I found a verse that made me feel good.
Needless to say, I did not know the Word. And if I did not know the Word, then I did not know my Father’s heart.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:1 (ESV)
I guess deep down I did not want to read the text that thoroughly. I mean the Old Testament seemed to display a completely different God than that of Jesus in the New Testament. So then I began questioning (and how grateful I am that I serve a God who can not only handle all of my questions, but invites me to ask in order to know Him deeper) how is this scary God full of wrath and anger in the Old Testament the same humble God who said to “turn the other cheek” in the New Testament?
I was confused, but I also know that God is not confusing.
For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.
1 Corinthians 14:33
So then began my journey. I took out my highlighters, my sticky notes, my pens, and I dived into the Book of Daniel. I will not even tell you how long it took me to read (and re-read and re-read) these 12 chapters. I wanted to learn. I wanted to understand. I wanted to know Him.
And guess what.
Jesus met me there. Right in the Old Testament.
Allow me to share my experience.
Daniel is a true example of Romans 12:2:
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Daniel embodied this verse daily.
Throughout the book, Daniel was a captive in Babylon, ruled by ungodly kings, surrounded by nonbelievers, and he stood for the one true God. He never compromised.
How? It’s simple. God was there – the same God that Jesus displayed in the New Testament – which means we are capable of standing with honor and integrity while living in a pagan culture, too.
In chapter 3, Daniel’s three friends were thrown into a fiery furnace because of their allegiance to God; their deaths being an inescapable fate. But God not only delivered the three men, He glorified Himself as Savior. A fourth man was seen walking around inside the furnace with them. The mysterious man was said to “look like a son of the gods”. The three men walked out of the furnace, completely free and whole. I believe the fourth man was Jesus Christ, Himself – offering a picture of what was yet to come – Jesus Christ walking among us, delivering us from a fiery hell, allowing us to come out on the other side, unbound and intact.
In chapter 6, Daniel was thrown into the lions’ den because he was found praying to the one true God. Instead of being torn apart and killed, an angel closed the mouths of the lions. God has always been for us, fighting our battles. Remain obedient.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
I cannot imagine that living in this time and place was easy for Daniel and his faithful companions. I cannot imagine that serving God when everyone else served the world/themselves was easy either. I believe Daniel was scared and that God knew his heart and innermost feelings. In the New Testament, Jesus is portrayed as a companion, the greatest friend.
In chapters 9 and 10, while Daniel was praying for insight and understanding, an angel appeared to him and reminded him that he was “greatly loved.” How amazing is it that we don’t just serve this big scary, demanding God who places all of these impossible standards on us! We serve a God who meets us in the midst of our sorrow and pain and says “hey, I love you. I am with you.”
Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words.
As I am typing these last few words, I feel the Holy Spirit say this:
Read this verse again. Replace your name with Daniel’s.
I hope you feel beckoned to set your heart to understand and to humble yourself before God because He truly truly loves you and wants you to know Him and have fellowship with Him.
All my best,