lantern shining in the darkness August 3 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Jeremiah 35; 2Kings 24:1-4; 2Chronicles 36:6-7; Daniel 1-2

Lights in the Darkness

Every day in evil cultures around the world there are Christians who are shining lights. Faithful mothers and fathers try to raise their children to be godly citizens in a hedonistic society, and others gently care for their aged parents, giving them honor and dignity. Laborers faithfully put in an honest day's work and provide an invaluable resource. Pastors and other church workers minister faithfully to the needs of their church, going above and beyond what might be expected. In these instances and many others, there are some faithful people, even in evil cultures.

Up to this point in our Bible studies in Jeremiah, we have seen both Israel and Judah as obstinate nations who refused to repent. In today's Bible reading, however, there are some shining lights, some good men in difficult circumstances. The Recabites, Daniel, and his three Hebrew friends are shining lights in the darkness of their times.

The Recabites are a nomadic people, meaning they live in tents with no permanent dwelling place. Like other nations, they also face the threat of a Babylonian invasion. Instead of fleeing to an ungodly country like Egypt for their deliverance, however, they seek refuge in Jerusalem, the city of God. They are righteous people, seeking to completely obey the instructions of their forefather, who was a godly man. They are shining lights and serve as an example to the people of Judah. If the Israelites (or Judah) had obeyed God as the Recabites obey their forefather, the LORD would protect them. God is pleased to bless those who are examples of godly obedience. The Recabites are, therefore, rewarded by the LORD for their faithfulness.

Nebuchadnezzar attacks Jerusalem and carries away King Jehoiakim, some of the articles of the temple, and the most excellent young men of Judah (princes and other nobility). Among these refugees are Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. “The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego” (Daniel 1:7, NIV).

Daniel and his three young friends become shining lights in the dark culture of Babylon. They gently negotiate their diet with the chief official and the guard, who has been placed over them. They do not want to eat defiled meat, knowing that it displeases the LORD; it violates His dietary laws. And because they seek to obey God rather than men, He blesses them with greater health than all the other youth and gives them surpassing wisdom and understanding, and to Daniel He grants the ability to interpret dreams.

In Nebuchadnezzar's second year as king of Babylon, he has a troubling dream about a great imposing statue made of various metals from head to toe. He demands that his own wise men and fortune-tellers interpret the dream for him, but Nebuchadnezzar refuses to help them by telling them what it is. When no one steps forward with an interpretation, he decides to kill all the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers, astrologers, and wise men in the kingdom, including Daniel and his three friends. Daniel, however, seeks an audience with the king to interpret his dream. He and his friends pray fervently that night, and the LORD reveals the dream and its interpretation to Daniel.

Daniel then appears before the king.

The king asked Daniel (also called Belteshazzar), “Are you able to tell me what I saw in my dream and interpret it?”

Daniel replied, “No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries” (Daniel 2:26-28a, NIV).

Daniel rightly reveals and interprets the dream to the king (see more for the interpretation of the dream given in today's Bible reading). Afterward, Nebuchadnezzar is in awe and seeks to give Daniel the credit. He will have none of that, however—he gives glory to God, the revealer of dreams.

Daniel is a remarkable man; he seeks no glory for himself but God’s glory. For this, the LORD rewards him with honor, and he and his friends are placed in prominent positions in the kingdom. From there they can rule with kindness and wisdom over the people (many are their fellow Jewish captives). Here he remains for the entire seventy years of Jewish captivity, serving in government and being a light in a dark place. This light is a kindness to and preservation of the exiles.

If we are willing to live a good life of integrity and righteousness, we can serve as a light in a dark place. Our light can give hope to our community or those who are oppressed. The light of the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ gives hope (more...). Are we sharing that light?

note: For more insights into the miraculous preservation of the Jewish people through the ages, visit this website.

Lessons to Live By

  • Those who are shining lights oftentimes expose the darkness of their culture and are not popular. God, however, is their strength and protection.
  • God is pleased to bless those who are good examples of godly obedience in their cultures.
  • Let's live such a good life of integrity and righteousness that we can serve as lights of hope in dark places.

Focus Verse

Psalm 4:6 (NIV) “Many are asking, ‘Who can show us any good?’ Let the light of your face shine upon us, O LORD.”

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A Look Ahead: What can we learn from the Last Warnings God gives the nation of Judah before Babylon attacks? Find out in our Next Lesson.

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