Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“And they thirsted not when He led them through the deserts: He caused the waters to flow out of the rock for them; He split the rock also and the waters gushed out.”
Isaiah 48: 21
Penned by Andrew A. Bonar
“Years ago earth became to me a real wilderness, and I wondered how I could journey through it. But the Lord’s presence and plenty of work for Him have borne me on. Many things have made earth to me more than ever a wilderness and a land of broken cisterns, but the Lord Jesus is more than ever a full heaven to me...God will not give an easy journey to the Promised Land, but He will give a safe one…We every day escape dangers that we are not aware of. Is that not a beautiful touch in Jeremiah 2: 6, where God says He took care of His children when they went through the wilderness, a land of ‘deserts and pits’? They skirted the margin of the pits as the pillar – cloud led them safely along – a picture of how we are led. How we shall praise Him for all our deliverances!”
Today’s Study Text:
“And a stone was brought, and laid upon the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet, and with the signet of his lords; that the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel.”
Daniel 6: 17
“Earthly Power Versus Heavenly Purpose” Part 27
“Blocked By A Stone”
“All who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
II Timothy 3: 12
What “stone” is blocking my way right now?
How have I witness God reaching into my life and unblocking what appears to make me stumble along my journey home?
“Christ’s followers cannot expect better treatment in the world than their Master had.”
“Progress toward the welfare of mankind is made not by the persecutors but by the persecuted…Only goodness, meeting evil and not infected by it, conquers evil.”
Count Leo Tolstoy
The king not only signed the decree that he was the only person to be “petitioned” for 30 days, but then when Daniel was caught in prayer to the God of heaven and earth, it was the king who gave the final order that Daniel was to be thrown into a den of lions.
I’ve often wondered what would have happened if King Darius had defied the law he had written and let Daniel go free. But we don’t know because instead of standing up for the right, as Daniel had, King Darius bowed to the pressure of his “power-team.”
In our study text for today, we are told, “a stone was brought, and laid upon the mouth of the den.” I just couldn’t help myself! I had to grab my Hebrew dictionary, which has proved to be such a useful tool in helping us better understand this very familiar story. At the same time, the Hebrew translation helps uncover a depth to this Biblical favorite has opened my eyes more clearly to God’s purpose here on earth.
The words that I chose to research in the first half of today’s study text are “laid,” “mouth” and “den.” In order to get a clear picture of what this passage of Scripture is portraying for us, not only did I go to the Hebrew but I also used Webster’s Dictionary specifically for the word “upon” which means “up” and “on.” Rather simple! The Hebrew meaning for “laid” is to “set on.“ The word “mouth” means, “related to where one blows from.” Interestingly, the first visual image that came to my mind was a whale’s “blow-hole” shooting water into the air. However, it was the Hebrew description of the word “den” that really defined the place where God’s ambassador Daniel was thrown into. This word “den” in Hebrew means, “a pit that was dug as a place to put wild animals where they could not escape.”
But the text in Daniel 6: 17 doesn’t just stop with the fact that a large stone was put over the opening to the den. We are also told that the “signet” or “an engraved signet ring” was used by King Darius and his princes to make it impossible for anyone else to leave their mark on the “sealing” of the den.
I’m a great lover of old movies and just last week, late one night, I chose to watch one of my all-time favorites, “Ben-Hur.” In this movie, in a very dramatic scene where Judah Ben-Hur returns to the land of his birth in Judea, after saving the life of the Roman consul Quintas Arrius, he goes to visit the man who was once his closest friend but now is a mortal enemy, Messala, and Judah demands to know where his mother and sister are. He grabs the pad on Messala’s table and stamps the tablet with the engraved image of his adopted father, Arrius. At that moment, a recognition comes over the face of Messala which can only be described as pure terror for Messala realizes who Judah is truly representing – the Roman Consul’s family! As this movie so powerfully shows, not only did the signet define the “wearer” but it also signaled the earthly power behind that sign. In the case of Daniel, the princes didn’t just want King Darius to leave his mark on the stone covering the lion’s den, they wanted their marks as well for I don’t believe they really trusted the king not to come at a later hour and try to intervene on Daniel’s behalf. And this become a very important point for our consideration next week as we watch the Almighty God of heaven and earth step into “earth-time” to bring about the miraculous release of one of His beloved children.
After readying about this stone blocking the mouth of a den of lions and reflecting on the extreme measures earthly rulers took to ensure they destroyed the ministry of Daniel in Medo-Persia, I couldn’t help but think about another “den” covered by a supposedly immovable stone. But evil people never know when enough is enough. As we find with the evil enemies of Daniel, they had to have the king’s signet and theirs as well to mark the stone! And Matthew in his gospel record leaves us with this special detail only he shares about the burial of Jesus: “Now the next day, that followed the day of preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, saying, ‘Sir, we remember that the deceiver said while he was yet alive, after three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulcher be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead; so the last error shall be worse than the first. Pilate said unto them, ‘Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can.’ so they went, and made the sepulture sure, seeing the stone, and setting a watch’” (Matthew 27: 62-66, K.J.V.).
God’s beloved child Daniel wasn’t the only person earthly power tried to block with a stone and a seal. God’s Son Christ Jesus faced the same treatment when a stone was rolled in front of His tomb and a seal was used to secure the stone.
Maybe today you feel as though you too have been tossed into a den of lions and a stone has been rolled over the opening and you are trapped. You aren’t strong enough to even budge the stone. All alone you feel that God has forgotten where you are. The pit of financial problems is too deep for you to crawl out of. The challenge of addiction is too tough for you to break. The relationships in your family are so fractured, there’s no way for you to see how they can be put back together again.
Well, take a look again at our friend Daniel. While it may appear he is all alone in a den of lions with a stone upon the opening, God never forgot His ambassador. And He hasn’t forgotten you either. In the tender words from the pen of the prophet Isaiah: “Can a mother forget her nursing child, that she should not have compassion on the child of her womb? Yes, they may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have indelibly imprinted a picture of you on the palms of each of My hands; your walls are continually before Me” (Isaiah 49: 15, 16, Amplified Bible).
God was there in the den with Daniel and He’s there with you in your den as well.
“But now I give you certain news
To spread by land and sea;
Ye may scourge Truth naked,
Ye may nail Him to the tree,
Ye may roll the stone above Him,
And seal it priestly-wise,
But against the morn, unmaimed, new born,
The living Truth shall rise!”
Roll Back the Stone
“When we are all despairing
when the world is full of grief;
when we see no way ahead,
and hope has gone away;
Roll back the stone.
Although we fear change;
although we are not ready;
although we’d rather weep
and run away;
Roll back the stone.
Because we’re coming anyway;
because we hope where hope is vain;
because You call us from our den
to show us Your way;
Roll back the stone.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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