Who Do You Serve?

Daniel 7:13-14  (NRSV) 

As I watched in the night visions,

I saw one like a human being
    coming with the clouds of heaven.
And he came to the Ancient One
    and was presented before him.
To him was given dominion
    and glory and kingship,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
    should serve him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
    that shall not pass away,
and his kingship is one
    that shall never be destroyed.

By John Grimm

The spinoff to Babylon 5, a sci-fi show from the late 1990’s, Excalibur, had a persnickety character named “Galen.”  He would show up at the most inconsiderate and awkward times.  One of his questions was, “Who do you serve?”  As disciples of Jesus Christ, we know the answer.

Or do we?  There are portions of the Bible that we do not understand.  Reading Daniel’s visions we come across the one like a Son of Man, a.k.a. one like the human one.  His entrance is awe-inspiring.  He is given accolades and responsibility that no one else has.  We do not understand when this one like a Son of Man will be here.

We are enthusiastic about all peoples, nations, and languages serving him.  We like the language that they should serve him.  We await his kingship/kingdom that shall never be destroyed.  Then, we realize we are part of all peoples, nations, and languages!  Who shall we serve?

Do we know the answer?  We can freely serve Jesus Christ now.  We could also wait until all people, nations and languages must serve him.  It is a promising idea for us to serve Jesus Christ freely now.  The language of this vision is such that all humanity has the option.  If we are not serving Jesus Christ, then who or what are we serving? 

Jesus Christ, we get to choose to serve you.  You are due all these accolades, for you are the Son of Man!  You have taken us from being God’s enemies to being people of God.  Thank you for being gracious to us.  Through our lives and the retelling of how you are working in our lives we pray for others to begin to serve you.  Thank you for the work you have for us to do.  Amen.

Not Much Has Changed

Daniel 9:1-14

In the first year of Darius son of Ahasuerus, by birth a Mede, who became king over the realm of the Chaldeans— in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, perceived in the books the number of years that, according to the word of the Lord to the prophet Jeremiah, must be fulfilled for the devastation of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years.

Then I turned to the Lord God, to seek an answer by prayer and supplication with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession, saying,

“Ah, Lord, great and awesome God, keeping covenant and steadfast love with those who love you and keep your commandments, we have sinned and done wrong, acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and ordinances. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land.

“Righteousness is on your side, O Lord, but open shame, as at this day, falls on us, the people of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and all Israel, those who are near and those who are far away, in all the lands to which you have driven them, because of the treachery that they have committed against you. Open shame, O Lord, falls on us, our kings, our officials, and our ancestors, because we have sinned against you. To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him, and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God by following his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets.

“All Israel has transgressed your law and turned aside, refusing to obey your voice. So the curse and the oath written in the law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out upon us, because we have sinned against you. He has confirmed his words, which he spoke against us and against our rulers, by bringing upon us a calamity so great that what has been done against Jerusalem has never before been done under the whole heaven. Just as it is written in the law of Moses, all this calamity has come upon us. We did not entreat the favor of the Lord our God, turning from our iniquities and reflecting on his fidelity. So the Lord kept watch over this calamity until he brought it upon us. Indeed, the Lord our God is right in all that he has done; for we have disobeyed his voice.”


It was a different time and a different nation.  Yet, the prayer that Daniel prayed is one that can be prayed by each generation and each nation. 

Daniel’s prayer is called a prayer of confession.  We can have shame upon our nation for we have sinned against God.  From our rulers to even the ones reading this devotion, we all have sinned.  Paul will even remind us in Romans that we are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God.

As Methodist Christians, we realize the importance of repentance.  For when we repent, we are responding to God’s prevenient grace. 

Our confession of our sins, iniquities, and wickedness allows God to give us new birth through faith in Jesus Christ.  It is hard to realize that we have brought calamity upon ourselves.  Yet, thankfully, turning to God in faith we find the forgiveness that he has already prepared for us.

God, we are sinners here in America.  We have not listened to you.  Now, we are listening to you.  We admit we have done wrong by you and our neighbors.  Let us know your forgiveness through Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Taking Time for Daniel

By Chuck Griffin
LifeTalk Editor

Daniel

If you follow the daily lectionary readings, you’re about to hit a string of stories from the Book of Daniel. I want to encourage you to take time to read that wonderful Old Testament book from start to finish, with a simple big-picture message in mind.

Let me remind you of three stories from the first six chapters of Daniel. They make a very straightforward point about God. I also invite you to spend more time studying the other stories, which are mostly about Daniel’s interpretation of various kings’ dreams. And please don’t ignore the last six chapters, made up of unusual writings called “apocalyptic” literature.

First, there’s the story I call “The God Diet.” Daniel and three other Jewish captives are taken to the Babylonian court to be trained in the literature and language of the empire that has conquered the Holy Land.

While there, they are expected to eat the king’s food. It is rich and fattening, but for Jews it also is unclean, forbidden by God.

Daniel and his friends, known in Babylon as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, decline to eat the food, asking instead for vegetables and water. This worries the palace official in charge, who knows he will be blamed if the young men waste away.

Instead, after 10 days, they look “better and fatter” than the people eating the king’s food, and they find themselves stationed in the king’s court.

Some people hold this story up as an example of the power of a vegetarian lifestyle, but that interpretation misses the real point: Be faithful to God despite what the world says, and God will take care of you.

The second story has a similar message. The king builds a great statue made of gold and orders everyone to worship it. Again, because of their faith, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refuse to bow down.

The king orders them thrown into a fiery furnace, one so hot that the men charged with tossing Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego through the furnace door die from the heat.

When the king looks in, he sees not three but four figures in the furnace, one having “the appearance of a god.” He calls the three out and finds they’ve not lost so much as an eyebrow.

God took care of them.

The third story shows that even political intrigue cannot overcome God’s love for a faithful follower. Daniel, a top adviser to the king, is so good at his job that the other advisers are jealous.

Knowing Daniel’s methodical religious life, the other advisers get a law passed that no one may pray to anyone except the king for 30 days. Daniel, of course, goes right on praying three times a day to God and is eventually caught. The punishment is to be tossed into a den of lions.

The next morning, the king finds Daniel unscratched. The king then tosses the conspirators and their families in. The lions decide to break their fast.

Again, the message is simple. Be faithful to God. God will take care of you.

Lord, we are so grateful for the way you watch over us. Even in sickness and death we know we have nothing to fear, for you will be with us through this life and into the next, thanks be to Jesus Christ. Amen.