This is the most famous episode in Daniel’s long career. We should call it Daniel in the angel’s den. Threatened with a gruesome death, Daniel, now an old man near 90, defied the Persian king and kept on praying. What was he praying for? Why did he face Jerusalem when he prayed? How does this story point us to the Greater Daniel?
In chapter 4 we saw the mighty grace of God humble a proud king. But it doesn’t always go that way. What does it look like when God’s patience runs out for those who “knew better?” What lessons might this offer for ourselves, our church and our nation?
The story of Gideon’s defeat of the Midianite army in Judges 7 is one of the most absurd stories in the entire Bible. The narrator intends for the story to be absurd, to illustrate the fact that it was God, not Gideon, who was responsible for defeating the Midianites. Gideon has an absurdly small army which is absurdly ill-equipped. Even the means by which the battle is fought and the victory won are absurd. Left on their own, the paltry Israelite army would have had no chance against the Midianites. But with the Lord, all things are possible. No foe is too great, no obstacle is too large, for the Lord!
We have always heard insanity described as doing the same thing over and over, expecting to get a different result. This great chapter gives a much better definition of insanity: thinking I am in control of my life. Or to use another word, pride. How did God cure the great Babylonian king of this? How is it related to grace and the gospel?
The story of Gideon is one of the most memorable stories in the Old Testament. His call is recorded in Judges 6. An angel of the Lord appears and tells Gideon he is God’s chosen instrument to go to battle against the forces of the Midianites. Gideon, however, is unconvinced and fearful. He needs reassurance, which the Lord graciously provides time and again. In this way, the call of Gideon reminds us that even though we are sometimes slow to believe, God is always prepared to condescend and provide us the reassurance we need to carry out whatever he has called us to do.
In this famous story, three young believers defy the king of Babylon, who has threatened to burn them up in a furnace (and makes good on his threat). Why would they do that? And how does God show up? What does this teach us about our own suffering?
Judges 4 tells the story of another unlikely deliverer of Israel. This time, the deliverer is a woman, Deborah, who was a judge and prophet in Israel. Deborah leads the Israelite army into battle against Sisera, the commander-in-chief of the army of Jabin, King of Hazor. Deborah is accompanied by the Israelite general, Barak. In the end, however, Barak does not get the glory for defeating Sisera’s army. Another woman, Jael, kills Sisera by driving a tent peg through his temple while he slept, thereby bringing about a great victory over the enemies of Israel. The story of Deborah (and Jael) is another demonstration of the principle that God sometimes uses unexpected people and unexpected means to fulfill his divine purposes.