I am trying to understand what I want to achieve by recording what I learn from the bible passage every week. I guess the most important thing is for me to revise what I have learned, and to see which are the points that I can apply to my life immediately. The other important thing is for me to look back, four years from now, on all the things that I have learned. And then see how far I have come. The whole bible can be covered in 3 years in its basic lessons and knowing what happened and when, but understanding the concept of trusting God and being obedient will take a lot longer.
Daniel 2 is the lesson where King N. had a dream and he wanted the wise men of Babylon to interpret his dream for him, but he refused to tell them what the dream was. The wise men (sorcerers etc) knew that they could not interpret something that was unknown to them, and so the king gave the order for all the wise men to be executed. However, Daniel stepped up and prayed to God for understanding and wisdom, and he was able to interpret the dream correctly for the king. Because of that, he was promoted and his three friends were also elevated to positions of power in Babylon.
There are many lessons in this chapter, about the wisdom of Daniel and his trust in God, the mightiness of the true God over all the other idols of Babylon, and the prophecies that Daniel was interpreting. It was a dream that foretold the falling of Babylon and all the other kingdoms after it, each one weaker than the previous, until a great stone comes and destroys everything. Regardless of the great deeds that King N. had done, it was still a chasing of the wind, everything would be destroyed and nothing would remain.
The DG discussion centered not on the contents of the prophecies, but on the way Daniel feared and obeyed God, and the nuances of his character which was shown. He spoke to Arioch with discretion and discernment, and he did not protest the king’s orders by shouting and making a fuss about how unfair it was to be executed when he wasn’t even summoned to interpret the dream. It reminded me of what my friend was telling me over dinner yesterday, she asked if I thought people who only relied on God’s word are weak-minded. I replied something along the lines of we have to rely on God’s word and not on our own powers, although we also need to put in our best efforts. But the results of our efforts are determined by God, and not by kings or men.
Christianity, to me, is not just about what a person does in front of other people. It is about changing a believer’s mindset such that he learns a different way of living. For atheists, life can also be meaningful, moral or filled with joy and happiness. But what ‘can’ be often isn’t the case. Life can also be boring, drab, and completely meaningless. With Christianity- although like I said, I am only making a decision to learn about Christianity for the next four years, and then think about whether I should continue- I feel that the things I value will change and the things I enjoy and work towards to will change. Perhaps I have been so self-reliant for so long that it is getting tiring, and nothing I do seems to make me happier. Time passes and what I have has changed, but my mood and the meaning I find in life seems to be very much still at the base level as when I first started being aware of the ‘meaning’ that others strive to find.
Going to church every week and learning about scripture, it reminds me that my worries and accomplishments are ultimately a chasing of the wind. It is not what I achieve in the end, but how I achieved them, and my spirit when I go about my daily routines. Although I am also aware that I can have a lot of knowledge by the end of the four years, but I can also stay at my current level of maturity- being petty, judgemental, and 100% focused on what other people say and think of me. (I’m describing my mother as she is talking about another church member in the kitchen. Not with, but about.)
Obedience to God in small things matter too. I was born with a less disagreeable temperament, I don’t think I go out my way to quarrel with people. But even now, I am not obedient in the small things. I rarely do quiet time because I get quite caught up in other parts of my life, and it’s easier to watch youtube videos than think about how I went about my day. And I am not always wise with my words, neither am I worry-free about my day.
In Daniel 1, the four friends refused to eat foods off King N’s table, and in Daniel 3, they refused to bow before a gold (overlaid, probably, not pure gold) statue that the king had ordered built. They were obedient in the small things and God delivered them from all their trials and tribulations, because they did not compromise, even when they were threatened with torture and then death.
In society now it is easier to compromise on things like friends with benefits or an open marriage, by justifying that everyone else is doing it. It is genuinely easier to not have a code of conduct than it is to stick by one. I am not saying that Christians are better people because we have a higher standard of what it means to do good, because to those who do not have a God, how can anyone judge what is higher or lower? I am saying that there is an established standard when you attend church and study the Bible- do not lust, do not commit adultery, do not lie or cheat or steal from your fellow neighbour etc- and because there’s an established standard, it is difficult to act as others do without compromising on what we believe.
But I believe that what is difficult will also be what is worth it, it is only through doing things which are restrained and difficult will I experience what others will not experience. They say this of people who are resistant to sin- it is those who resist sin who understand the temptation of sin, those who give in after a minute will never know what it means to resist the lure of sin. I know this well, I fall under the category of people who make no effort to resist dessert.
He changes times and seasons;
he removes kings and sets up kings;
he gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to those who have understanding;
-Daniel 2, ESV