The Tuesday morning Bible study group have been looking into the Book of Daniel over the last 6 weeks. We read chapter 6 this week, the story of Daniel being accused of not obeying King Darius’ decree that everyone should bow down and worship the king. As a result, Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den. It’s a sobering story when you look closer at what’s going on: jealousy, flattery and treachery, catastrophic consequences for whole families.
Daniel had to live in Babylon because he was an exile, but he wasn’t going to let Babylon live in him. His eyes were fixed on Jerusalem – not the pile of ruins Jerusalem had become, but the Jerusalem that is God’s city, the symbol of God’s rule and reign on earth, the ultimate authority in his life. He was loyal to God and proved his fidelity in the crisis that unfolds in Ch. 6, emerging from the lion’s den unscathed. God vindicated his fidelity and the king testified to God’s greatness. Daniel was a man of faith and wisdom, full of the Holy Spirit.
Today, in Acts 6 and 7 we will see another man of faith, wisdom and full of the Holy Spirit: Stephen is chosen to oversee the daily distribution of food to the Christian widows in Jerusalem. He starts falling foul of the Jewish leaders who, like the governors in Daniel Ch. 6, are jealous, whose powerbase is under threat and who therefore must act to secure their position.
[It’s interesting how angry and jealous we become of others when our identity isn’t secure.]
While Daniel survives the lions, Stephen pays the ultimate price for his loyalty, dying at the hands of his accusers.
Following God is not easy; it’s not fashionable or even sensible today. Belief is costly. James 4.4 reminds us that friendship with God means enmity with world.
However, God has promised that His presence will remain with us. He will never desert us.
God will vindicate Himself and us one day. He will be seen for who He is and we will be seen for our relationship to Him.
God will finally rescue us – not always in present difficulties but one day we will be with him eternally, safe and secure from all alarm.
Stephen found that rescue, experienced God’s presence and God vindicated Himself, if only in the eyes of the believers for the time being.
As we live in this world, this Babylon with all it’s trickiness, I pray that you will find the courage to hold fast to the Lord Jesus. Let His word and Spirit dwell richly in you and know the wonder and joy of His presence.