“If” is a powerful word. It is used a lot in computer code. It is the title of a famous poem by Rudyard Kipling. It is a word that can arouse possibilities or longings or fear. At the heart of Daniel 3 lie two sets of “if…if not” clauses, one posed by Nebuchadnezzar, the other in the reply of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. In the face of “if…if not” and the threat of the fiery furnace, the three Jewish friends dared to have a purpose true.
Throughout history kingdoms and empires have risen and fallen. Long live the king! But no human king lives forever nor does his dynasty. No matter how eternal an empire thinks it will be, it is destined to fall. Nebuchadnezzar has a dream of an enormous statue representing a sequence of empires, and of a stone that smashes the statue into non-existence, then grows to fill the earth. What is the meaning of the statue and the stone? Please read Daniel 2 before Sunday, since it’s a long chapter and there won’t be time to read it during the service.
The number of forcibly displaced people in the world has more than doubled in the past ten years and now stands at 82.4 million. Forced displacement is nothing new: 2600 years ago much of Jerusalem was displaced to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar. Among them were Daniel and his three friends. Could they flourish in a strange land that did not acknowledge the Lord? Can we flourish today where the Lord is not acknowledged? We begin a new series in the Book of Daniel, and in the next two months will cover the first seven chapters. Would you please read 2 Kings 23–25 and Daniel 1 to prepare for this Sunday.