young men in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans. Dan 1:4 NKJV
Let’s look at the context of the book of Daniel and the verses preceding the verse for today. The book of Daniel is a fascinating book and full of prophetic visions. In verses, 1 through 3, the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, conquers Jerusalem and takes the people into captivity.
The people were taken to Babylon in three waves. Royal families and nobles along with the skilled and educated individuals were taken into captivity in that first wave in 605 BC. Daniel, a gifted prince, was in that first wave. A second wave was brought to Babylon in 597 BC and the third wave in 586 BC. Although most Jews were taken into captivity, the very poorest of the Jews remained in Jerusalem. And those held in captivity were exiled for seventy years.
Today’s verse defines how the Babylonians sought to exploit the talents of those they brought into captivity and make sure they were indoctrinated into the Babylonian lifestyle.
Daniel didn’t fit in. He and his three friends: Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were different. But they stuck together and stood apart even though others from their nation sought to fit into the Babylonian lifestyle.
That’s true for us today. Especially in younger people. They seek to “fit in”. Every person is unique and beautiful having different personalities and gifts and shouldn’t have to worry about peer pressure. Encourage young people to develop their talents. Even if those talents lie in off-the-beaten-path areas. Explore your difference and celebrate it! Seek those who have the same gifts and are like-minded. That’s a way to fit in and still be true to one’s character and self.
Then I looked, and behold, a whirlwind was coming out of the north, a great cloud with raging fire engulfing itself; and brightness was all around it and radiating out of its midst like the color of amber, out of the midst of the fire. Ezek 1:4 NKJV
Let’s look at the context of this verse within the first book of Ezekiel. In verse 1, Ezekiel was among the captives and receives a vision from God. In verses 2 and 3, the word of God and His hand came upon Ezekiel—an in-depth description of God’s calling upon any of the prophets in the Bible.
In verse 4, Ezekiel witnesses something that we would call a tornado. From other Bible passages, we know that God made His presence known to His people with a cloud by day and fire by night. This would have indicated to Ezekiel that this vision was from God. Ezekiel saw the glory of God.
Today we see tornados and we think disaster. And there are disastrous consequences of today’s tornados. But we also see God’s infinite mercy and love when we see a baby protected in a tree during a storm of such magnitude that the cement block home he had been whisked away from crumbled beneath such an onslaught of nature’s fury. How could it not have been God’s protection?
Sometimes the worst times of our lives where we feel overwhelmed, where we feel like nothing can protect us, is the time when God is holding us in His loving arms. Most of the time, we don’t see it until the storm has passed. The key is to remember He’s with us when the storm rages all around us and bask in His grace and mercy.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
Before you were born I sanctified you;
I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” Jer 1:5 NKJV
What a beautiful verse! While God is speaking about Jeremiah, this tells us God knows each one of us before we were formed in the womb. A comforting thought. He also tells Jeremiah, He has ordained him to be a priest. Jeremiah existed in the mind of and plan of God before he ever existed in his mother’s womb.
Since the beginning of time, God knew every person before they were even created in the womb. And He has ordained each of our lives. What is it we are naturally drawn to? Chances are we gravitate towards the ordained profession God planned for us before we were ever created.
Forty years ago, I wrote a novel. I sent it in for publication. In those days, manuscripts were typed on a manual typewriter, publishers accepted novels directly from the writer, and those aspiring authors received physical rejection letters. Not today. While some publishers accept a manuscript from a writer, most of the time, a writer needs an agent to navigate the perils in publishing and seldom do aspiring authors get rejection letters. Most of the time, the publisher and/or agent doesn’t respond unless you have a personal relationship with them. And it takes an enormous amount of effort to find the right agent.
Fast forward to today and I felt the pull to write again. It’s much stronger now that I’m working toward retirement. But it’s there. In the back of my mind. I often wonder if I had not gotten discouraged and given up where I would be now. Doesn’t matter, though. Only today matters.
If you’re young, hold on to your dreams…and if you are older, keep dreaming. Life is too short not to follow the path in your heart.
And remember, God designed you for a specific purpose. Find your purpose and follow it.
Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes.
Cease to do evil. Isa 1:16 NKJV
Let’s look at the history and context of this verse.
Isaiah is one of the major prophets in the Bible. His name means “Salvation is of the Lord”. In Isaiah’s day, Egypt, Assyria and Babylon surrounded the tiny country of Israel, much like today, Israel is surrounded by Egypt, Iran, and Syria. In his day Israel was in the center of wars between those nations. Again, much like it is today.
By the time Isaiah came into Israel’s history, the Israelites had been in the promised land for almost 700 years. At first, they were one nation, but because of their pride, they wanted kings like the other nations instead of making God their king. Thus, the nation of Israel, because kings were not after God’s heart, the nation was split. To the North, the nation of Israel remained and to the south, the nation of Judah was formed. This happened around 720 BC. The nation of Judah remained loyal to the God of Israel, Yahweh.
In Isaiah 1:1, the prophet Isaiah receives a vision. In verses 2-4, the text tells of God’s complaint against the nation of Judah. In verses 5-9, the text speaks of the desperate condition of Judah. In verses 10-15, we are told how God hates meaningless religious ceremonies. And that leads us to verse 16 that gives us a remedy to the first 15 verses.
God wants us to repent from our sins, but isn’t that what we should do in our daily lives and not just toward God but toward our fellow man? We should cease to do evil. Whether in our homes, our workplaces, community or our nation. Taking stock of who we are and shining a bright light on our frailties as humans is difficult. It’s terribly difficult. We don’t want to do it. We don’t want to see how far we’ve come from that child-like innocence to corrupted adult.
Turning away from sin—whatever that sin may be—is hard. It can’t be done on our own. We need the Lord to help us to do that. And we will struggle with it for the rest of our lives but turning to Him is the only answer. He loves us. He loves you. All you have to do is ask. God sees it all, anyway.
Let him kiss with the kisses of his mouth
For your love is better than wine. Song of Solomon 1:2 NKJV
Who says there’s no romance in the Bible? This book negates that notion. It’s a testament of the deep, abiding love and romance between a man and a woman.
Only one chapter with seventeen verses, God uses the marriage relationship between a man and a woman to show us what that relationship should be but also shows the relationship between God and His children which is another aspect of the book. The commitment theme runs throughout the book as the woman and man converse with one another and it echoes God’s commitment to His children.
Detailing a couple’s story from their first meeting to courtship and then their marriage, the book isn’t in chronological order. Instead, we read the magnificent snapshots of the man and woman’s romantic and sensual human love. Their desires are God-given, and they are committed to one another throughout the book.
Today’s verse is the maiden’s passionate desire for her beloved. To experience his love. She is strong and dynamic but doesn’t initiate the kiss but asks for him to kiss her because she recognizes he is the leader and is to be respected. His love energizes her. She adores her man.
This is what love and romance looks like. Today, it’s sad to see both the man and the woman want to be the stronger of the two within a relationship and don’t seek God for their role within the relationship.
When my husband and I were about to be married, we went through marriage counseling even though we were seasoned adults. What struck my core was when my husband said to me, “Honey, I’m only middle management. I have to answer to God if I mistreat you.” Talk about a man who understands his position within marriage. Those two little sentences emphasized how we would succeed. Side-by-side with Jesus central to our marriage. My husband lifted me up when I was down and I did the same for him when necessary. We’ve practiced being one another’s strength for almost twenty years. We’ve had our bumps in the road but in all of it, we both knew Jesus was the strand that kept us bound and influenced how we’d move forward.
Is there anything of which it may be said,
“See, this is new”?
It has already been in ancient times before us. ECC 1:10 NKJV
The song Everything’s Old is New Again is the modern-day equivalent of today’s verse. But that’s not all…We see it in fashion, architecture, furniture, even appliances, and other songs. I’m sure many of you reading this post, can think of other things where everything old is new again.
Let’s look at some things we mentioned.
Fashion. From fringe to leather to velvet and classic styles like Coco Chanel’s easy pieces. Anything and everything goes in today’s fashion houses. But certain styles return…from the 30s & 40s, the peep toe shoes, to the 60s mod styles and bell bottoms. While there is a twist in some of these styles, it only proves everything old is new again like the verse says.
Architecture. I come from a family of contractors so my experience has been with residential construction. I’ve always loved the craftsman style homes of the 20s and 30s and they are back today with the same “look” but with modern materials and modern conveniences that builders didn’t have back in the day. I find it interesting the Early New Englanders built what they called “salt box” style homes in the early years of our country. In the 1970s, this style was resurrected to with again, modern materials and conveniences, not to mention the sizes of these homes are much bigger than the ones back in the day.
Furniture from the 1960s is now considered mid-century modern and is all the rage. Who would have thought that weird chair sitting in my grandmother’s living room now is a classic style that millennials find fascinating?
Appliances. This one is interesting. On Facebook, I’ve seen modern takes on old-time stoves. When pictures are displayed, you’d be amazed at how many people would love to have that modern “antique” appliance in their kitchen.
And songs. Back in the 1980s, my daughters took dance lessons and listened to a lot of music. I remember them coming home one evening and my eldest saying, “Mom, you should hear the new song that just came out.” I told her it was a remake. She didn’t believe me and argued with me that it was brand new. So the first time I heard it on the radio with them in the car, I sang along with the new artist. The beat was a little different, but the lyrics were the same. My daughters couldn’t get over that it was an old song. I think it was their first exposure to “everything old is new again”.
We can look to the Bible for verses that tell us that nothing is new under the sun. Many relationships and situations we find in the Bible are present in today’s society. One simply has to look for them in the pages of that timeless book.
If you live long enough, you see history repeat itself in these areas and many more, too. What examples can you think of where everything old is new again?