Episode 30 | Evicting the Devil

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-uz7rv-9702d8

In this episodes, Rev. Todd has an honest conversation on Satan, how the devil operates, and how we go about evicting the devil from our lives.

MESSAGE REFERENCES:

God’s People, part 109: Ezra.

Read Ezra 9

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE

“So on October 8 Ezra the priest brought the Book of the Law before the assembly, which included the men and women and all the children old enough to understand.” (Nehemiah 8:2 NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

 ““”” Part 109: Ezra. What’s important to understand is that the people we have been discussing the past several devotions are connected to each other in personal relationship and/or in historical circumstance. In the case of today’s subject, Ezra was personally connected to Nehemiah. Born in Babylon during the Babylonian Captivity, Ezra had never been to Jerusalem, nor did he ever lay eyes on Solomon’s Temple before it was destroyed. In other words, Babylon was all Ezra knew.

So we can imagine the excitement, as well as the fear, that ran through Ezra as he returned back Jerusalem. What’s more, he could not have possibly realized what challenges would have been awating him in Jerusalem. It is imporant to note that Ezra was not among the first to arrive in Jerusalem, nor was he among those who dealt with the struggles of rebuilding the Temple or the wall; rather, he was a part of the second wave of Jews who returned.

It is important to note that Ezra-Nehemiah were originally one book that ended up getting split up. Though we have yet to discuss Nehemiah, by the time Ezra returned to Jerusalem Nehemiah had already built the wall and Ezra wrote, “[God] revived us so that we could rebuild the Temple of our God and repair its ruins. He has given us a protective wall in Judah and Jerusalem” (Ezra 9:9). Thus Nehemiah was among the first wave to return and Ezra returned following him and his leadership on the wall construction project.

Ezra, on the other hand, played another important role in this historic moment for the people of Judah. When he returned, he noticed people were not living as God had commanded them. Some of the Jewish people who originally returned had married into non-Jewish families and were beginning to be led astray. That and the struggles of rebuilding the Temple and reclaiming Jerusalem had proven to set back progress of reestablishing God’s people in their homeland.l

Ezra, ever mindful of the cost of sin having spent his whole life up to that point in a foreign land, called the people to strictly observe the Torah and its laws. Obedience to God’s law, Ezra argued, would keep Judah from falling back into sin and into the threat of destruction. Being lax and not obeying God was not an option. He read to them the Torah and enforced the observance of the law. Ezra’s focus on strict observance of the Jewish Law would eventually become the focus of another group of Jews called the Pharisees.

As Christians, we may feel the temptation to ask how this is all relevant to us. We are not longer bound by the law, right? It is true that through Jesus we have been freed from the letter of the Law; however, in and through Jesus we begin to live into the fulfillment of the law. In other words, Jesus works the heart of the Law (LOVE) in us and calls us to put that LOVE on display toward others. Are we open to the work of Christ through the Holy Spirit? Do we remain faithful to him and the LOVE that he has called us to? Ezra, if nothing else, challenges us to reflect on our loyalty and faithfulness to Jesus Christ who is the fulfillment of God’s Law.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

“By faithfulness we are collected and wound up into unity within ourselves, whereas we had been scattered abroad in multiplicity.” Saint Augustine

PRAYER

Lord, I submit myself to you. Forgive me my trespasses and give me the strength to be faithful. Amen.

God’s People, part 108: Zechariah

Read Zecharaiah 3

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE

“Because of the covenant I made with you, sealed with blood, I will free your prisoners from death in a waterless dungeon.” (Zechariah 9:11)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

  Part 108: Zechariah. As with all of the prophets, we really know very little about who Zechariah was. The main purpose of the prophetic writings was to warn people of the dangers of their sins and to steer people back to God. That is never an easy task. As Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others have found out, people resist being told they are wrong; in fact, they often violently and vehemently resist it. We are seeing this unfold before our very eyes as people stand up for the justice of immigrants (and others) and the absolutely vitriolic reaction people are having to that. Don’t believe me? Here’s an experiment for you: post #blacklivesmatter or #allfamiliesmatter or #justiceforimmigrants as your Facebook status and see what reaction you get.

What we do know about about Zechariah is that he probably came from a priestly family. His father was the son of Berechiah, who was the son of Iddo. Iddo was a Levite and a priestly figure, mentioned in Ezra 8:17, and it is believed that he returned from exile with Zerubbabel. Berechiah, no doubt, would have carried those priestly duties on from his father; therefore, many scholars believe that Zechariah was a priest, in a lineage of priests, as well as a prophet.

Zechariah began his prophetical career during the second year of King Darius the Great’s reign and is the prophet that the Old Testament book of the same name is attributed to. It is in that book that we see the focus of Zechariah’s prophetic ministry and the kind of opposition he was up against.

In the first section of the book (Chapters 1-4), Zechariah lays out Israel’s history in order to present the returned exiles with a stern warning. They had, as was discussed in the last devotion, been returned to their homeland and commissioned by King Cyrus to rebuild the holy Temple. Yet, years had passed and a new king was ruling and the Temple had still not been built. This was because the the people were debating over whether or not to let the Samaritans build it, as they had offered. The debate seriously stalled the construction project.

Zechariah, therefore, was instrumental in getting the people back on track regarding the rebuilding of God’s Temple. At the same time, so was the high priest Yeshua. We will get into Yeshua’s story in more detail in a couple of weeks; however, suffice it to say that Yeshua was against stalling the rebuilding of the Temple and wanted to see it built without the help of the Samaritans. As such, he was up against a very divided people. Some of those people were in support of him and some were in support of further negotiations with Samaritans.

Zechariah denounced the opposition and firmly pronounced that God had appointed Zechariah and was on his side. Furthermore, the prophet exposed the real culprit behind the division: SATAN. Zechariah proclaimed, “And the LORD said to Satan, ‘I, the LORD, reject your accusations, Satan. Yes, the LORD, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebukes you. This man is like a burning stick that has been snatched from the fire.’”

It is important to understand that throughout Old Testament and the New Testament, the word satan is not a name but a title. The Hebrew word, שָׂטָן(pronounced saw-tawn’) literally meant “the accuser” or “the adversary”. This role is played by different entities in different ways throughout the Old Testament (for instance, in the story about Balaam’s donkey, the Angel of the LORD stood in the road as an adversary, blocking Balaam’s way forward); however, there seems to have been a being that was an adversary to God and to God’s people.

This being, forever known as Satan, was a divider and conquerer. His role was to divide God’s people against themselves and keep them from obeying and following God. Thus, as we learn from Zechariah, Satan’s chief modus operendi division.

This is important for us to understand as God’s people in today’s time. Satan has not gone anywhere and this adversary of ours is still operating in the same way: THROUGH DIVISION. Think about that. Take a look around the United States of America and around this world. Look at social media and at our political climate.

 Most importantly, look at the church and look at our own relationships with the church, as well as with our families and friends. Let us be challenged to realize the truth behind Zechariah’s warning. Let us assess our own lives, our own attitudes and our own positions. Do we see the handy work of God, or do we see the foul play of the devil. Let us, like God, rebuke Satan and move toward peace and unity around Christ’ mission.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

In 9:9, Zechariah also prophesied that, sometime following the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Temple, the Messiah would come riding into the holy city on a donkey and it’s colt in holy victory This prophecy was clearly fulfilled a few hundred years later by Jesus of Nazareth.

PRAYER

Lord, like you I rebuke satan’s divisive meddling in my life in your name and turn my eyes firmly upon you. Give me the strength to continue to do so and keep me on your path of righteousness. Amen.

Episode 29 | Growing Up

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-t6ver-966d80

In this episode, Rev. Todd talks about the necessity of being connected to the Body of Christ, as well as the importance of “Growing Up” in our faith.

EPISODE REFERENCES

  • Click here to view Rev. Todd’s message: Christian A & P 101
  • Click here to view Rev. Todd’s message: Christian A & P: Essentials
  • Click here to view Rev. Todd’s message: Christian A & P: Non-Essentials
  • Click here to view Rev. Todd’s message: Christian A & P: In All Things

God’s People, part 107: Haggai

Read Haggai 1-2

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE

“Then the local residents tried to discourage and frighten the people of Judah to keep them from their work. They bribed agents to work against them and to frustrate their plans. This went on during the entire reign of King Cyrus of Persia and lasted until King Darius of Persia took the throne.” (Ezra‬ ‭4:4-5‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

 Part 107: Haggai. In order to understand Haggai’s prophecy, one really needs to understand the historical and religious contexts that it was written in. As with all of the books in the Bible, Haggai was not written in a vacuum. In fact, Zechariah lived and prophecied at the same time as Zechariah. Malachi lived and prophecied about a century later. Ezra was also a contemporary of the prophet and wrote of him and Zechariah being influential in the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple following their return from exile.

Let us look at the context surrounding Haggai’s prophecy. The year was 520 BCE, sixteen years after the Jews were first allowed back frome exile to Jerusalem. If you recall, this was put forth into motion under the Persian king Cyrus the Great, who was regarded by the Jews as God’s anointed king, the messiah. You will also recall that upon sending them back to their homeland, Cyrus commissioned them to rebuild their Temple to their God as well as to rebuild Jerusalem.

Sixteen years later, the Temple still had not been built. Upon returning home, there was a dispute between the Jews who returned and “the local residents” in Jerusalem. The dispute arose over who should have a part in rebuilding the Temple and how that Temple should be built. Thus, the Temple building campaign was halted for sixteen years.

It is this that Haggai was addressing. He found it egregious that God’s Temple lay in ruin, while the people of the land regained their homes and their prosperity. God had come through for them, how could they not come through for God. The issue is less to do with a temple building itself and more to do with faithfulness to God.

Were the Jews who were liberated from Babylon/Persia going to remain loyal to God, or were they going to fall right into complacency? What’s more, Haggai was calling them out on not having the moxy to stand up to the dissenters and do what they had been commissioned by God’s anointed king, Cyrus, to do.

By the way, it is important to note that Haggai is not the only book in the Bible to record these disputes. They are recorded in Ezra and also Zechariah. In fact, in the latter book, the “local residents” or “the people of the land” were opposing the governor Zerubbabel and the high priest Yeshua. The opposition against them rose up after they listened to Haggai and Zechariah and decided to move forward with the Temple building campaign. To do so, they rejected the “people of the land’s” request to build the Temple and placed the building of the Temple in the hands of the ones who had been liberated from exile.

This caused an irrevocable division between the liberated Jews and “the people of the land”. As a result, the latter group eventually split off and built their own Temple on Mt. Gerizim near Shechem. These people, by many scholars, are believed to be the Samaritans and it is during that time where bitter enmity built up between the Judaeans and the Samaritans. That enmity would carry on for centuries, and would be included in some of Jesus’ own teachings (e.g. the parable of the good Samaritan). In fact, it was in the region of Mt. Gerizim that Jesus converses with the Samaritan woman in John 4.

Thus, we can see how this short prophetic book by Haggai had such a profound impact on shaping what would go on to be known as the Second Temple period in Jewish history. It was during this time that the One who IS GOD’s Messiah, would live, teach, die and resurrect in FULL GLORY. This only happened because the God’s people humbled themselves and listened to the warnings of God through the prophet Haggai. They were willing to meet human resistance head on in order to remain loyal to God their LORD.

We are faced with the same charge, to remain loyal when the people of the land are calling us to do things differently than God would have us do. Will we heed God’s warning and build a SANCTUARY for all people, or will we follow the divisiveness of Satan, which is calling us to do things in a way that appeases the current world order? Reflect on this honestly; choose this day, and all days, whom you will serve (Joshua 24:15).

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

“Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem.” Jesus of Nazareth (John‬ ‭4:21‬ ‭NLT)

PRAYER

Lord, steer me along the right path and give me the courage to remain loyal to you at all costs. Amen.

God’s People, part 106: Darius

Read Ezra 6

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Romans‬ ‭8:28‬ ‭NLT‬‬).‬‬‬‬

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

 Part 106: Darius. King Darius I of Perisa (aka Darius the Great) is yet another example how history is weaved in and throughout the Bible. While the Bible does not offer too much background information on Darius, he is one fo the Persian kings mentioned in Ezra and was an ancient ruler of historical significance. Darius was an influential king during the rise of the Persian Empire, especially in regard to the Jews exiled in Babylon. In fact, he brought the empire to its peak.

While an entire volume could be written on Darius. In fact, several volumes have been written on Darius. If you are a history buff and you are interested in getting a more in depth view of Darius’ life, you can search for “Darius the Great” on Amazon.com and if you have an Amazon Kindle, or the Kindle App and are a Prime member, you can download one of the books, “Darius the Great: Makers of History”. Otherwise, there are plenty of options that come up in the search results.

As for the purpose of this devotion, I will focus on a brief summary of Darius and how he is significant in the history of God’s people. Darius was born in 550 CE, forty-eight years following the first deportation (which included Daniel and his friends), forty-seven years following the second deportation, thirty-seven years following the destruction of Solomon’s Temple and third wave of deportations, and thirty-three years following a possible fourth wave of deportations. What’s important to note here is that the Babylonian Exile happened in waves spanning a time period of 15 years. Think about the devastating effects that would have on a people and/or a nation.

Darius was born into a noble family, but not one of royal blood. His father was a governor and was given the title of “king” (a fancy title for governor) of one of the Persian Provinces, and served under Cyrus the Great, who was king of the entire Persian Achaemenid Empire. While governors got the title of “king”, Cyrus was THE KING and was also known as Great King and King of kings. It can also be said that Darius was not trusted by Cyrus who had a dream that Darius was king of the whole world. The dream was seen as an omen that Darius had treasonous plans. As such, Cyrus sent Darius’ father back to Persis, where Darius lived, to closely watch over his son.

While Darius did not end up trying to immediately usurp the heir to the throne, Cyrus’ dream did become a reality and Darius became king, under suspicious circumstances, at the age of 28. Because he became king suspiciously, a number of rebellions rose up against him throughout the empire and he successfully put an end to them within a year as his powerful army was loyal to him. Following that, he focused the beginning part of his reign on strengthening and expanding his empire and began a successful campaign to conquer and control Egypt. In 516 CE he also invaded the Indus Valley, and by 515 CE had conquered that land and expanded his empire going as far east as what is now known as Pakistan.

Following those campaigns he turned his sights on Babylon, which had been conquered early by the Persian King Cyrus the Great (at a later point) but were rebelling against the empire. It his here where Darius the Great enters in to the Biblical narrative. He, of course, quelled the Babylonian revolt and ruled over Babylon in the same way that Cyrus had. Though a devout follower of Zoarastrianism, Darius, and his successors, were extremely tolerant and allowed for others to have religious and cultural freedoms so long as they were submissive to his rule and peaceable. This historical fact is clearly reflected in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah.

Like Cyrus before him, Darius gained the respect of the Jewish people under his rule. Cyrus had permitted Jews, if they wished, to return home to Jerusalem and to begin to rebuild the holy city and its temple. To ensure that happened, Darius gave funding to help the efforts of rebuilding of the Jewish Temple. While he was not a Jew, nor did he worship the Jewish God, he certainly showed respect for their people and their God, just as he did toward the Egyptians and to the Greeks who allied with him (though the Greeks eventually united and defeated him at the Battle of Marathon, which set up the events of the film 300 about the 300 Spartan warriors led into battle by King Leonidas at Thermopylae against Darius’ son (who’s believed to be Esther’s husband) Xerxes I.

This goes to show us that God can and does work through anyone. The Persian King Darius was no observer of the Jewish religion, and yet he had a respect for the Jews and their religion and, as such, became the vehicle through which God fulfilled Jeremiah’s prophecy that one day God would bring the Jewish people back home as shepherd leads his or her sheep (Jeremiah 31:10). The challenge for us is to remember that all the children of the earth are God’s people, whether they realize it or not, for God created them and loves and can work through them. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

There is no one, and nothing, that can separate us from the love that God has for us.

PRAYER

Lord, help me to be less judgmental and more open to see your handiwork in the world. Amen.

Episode 28 | Dimensions of Love

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-i3zv8-961a87

In this episode, based on Ephesians 3:14-21, Rev. Todd discusses the Apostle’s prayer for Christians to have the wisdom to know the dimensions of love and to be rooted in Christ. Unpacking this in a relevant way, this message points us to the source of LOVE.

MESSAGE REFERENCES:

  • Click here to view Walt Disney’s Frozen Trailer
  • Click here to watch Frozen (Live at the Disney’s California Adventure)

God’s People, part 105: Cyrus

Read Isaiah 45

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“But Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the other leaders of Israel replied, ‘You may have no part in this work. We alone will build the Temple for the LORD, the God of Israel, just as King Cyrus of Persia commanded us.’” (Ezra 4:3 NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

Cyrus the GreatPart 105: Cyrus. If you are a student of ancient history (amateur or otherwise), you know that King Cyrus, or Cyrus the great was one of the greatest of the Persian kings. He and his successor, Darius the Great, were perhaps the two kings most responsible for the dramatic rise and expansion of the Persian Empire. Cyrus was known to have a policy of tolerance to the lands he conquered and their religious sensibility, so long as those lands submitted to his ultimate rule and authority. Darius, and subsequent kings, continued that policy onward.

Thus, Cyrus became not only known as the King of Persia, but also the King of Anshan, King of Media, King of Babylon (which is most important for this devotion), King of Sumer, and King of Akkad. What’s more he was known as the Great King, as the King of kings, and as the King of the Four Corners of the World. Needless to say, King Cyrus’ name got around and those who were not under his rule, feared they might be next on his radar.

With that said, there is one more title that is missing from this list of titles that Cyrus readily claimed for himself. What title, you may be wondering? The Jewish title of Messiah, the anointed one of God and king of the Jews. It is here that you may be scratching your head and, provided you read the Scriptures for today (I suggest you do so if you haven’t), you are most certainly wondering where on earth one could possibly pull Messiah from the text.

In Isaiah 45:1, the New Living Translation of the Holy Bible reads as such, “This is what the LORD says to Cyrus, His anointed one, whose right hand He will empower. Before him, mighty kings will be paralyzed with fear. Their fortress gates will be opened, never to shut again” (emphasis added). The Hebrew word for “anointed one”, is מָשִׁיחַ (pronounced maw-shee’-akh). In English, מָשִׁיחַ translates to the word messiah. So, the author of Isaiah refers to Cyrus as the messiah, as the anointed one of God. Why, you may wonder?

It is because when King Cyrus invaded Babylon, or any kingdom for that matter, he had the policy of freeing all peoples who had been exiled to those lands. There are several reasons why, economic, diplomatic and otherwise; however, it was certainly good politics. It caused people who would otherwise be contentious and possibly rebellious to grow loyal to the new leader.

That, as is evidenced in the Bible, is exactly what happened. Cyrus came into Babylon and put an end to the exile of the Jews. As such, they saw Cyrus as a King anointed by God, sent to be their liberator and to return them to their rightful place as God’s people in the promised land. Cyrus, it must be noted, is one of the few foreign kings to be praised in the Bible and certainly the only foreign king to be given the title of messiah.

Of course, we Christians know that another Jewish person, later on, would come as THE MESSIAH. That person, named Jesus of Nazareth, would not only bring liberation to the Jewish people but, through his Apostles, he would extend that liberation to the world. The liberation that Messiah Jesus would bring was not just a liberation from earthly oppression, but from spiritual oppression as well. Messiah (aka Christ) Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension would mark the beginning of the end of sin, evil and death, as well as the adoption of all believers into kinship with God.

While Cyrus was not THE MESSIAH, he was worthy of being called one of God’s anointed for there is little doubt, whether he realized it or not, God worked the liberation of the Jews through him. Thus, Cyrus goes down as one of the only foreign rulers praised in the Bible by Jewish prophets and the Jewish people. This should be a reminder to us that God can, and often does, work through anyone who is open to the Spirit of God. While we judge, people based off their geographical location and their national affiliation, God does not. Let this challenge us to see all people, no matter their nationality or allegiance, as people created in God’s image. Let us recognize that all people of all places and races have the divine potential to be anointed by God for the glory of God.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“From [Babylon] to Aššur and (from) Susa, Agade, Ešnunna, Zamban, Me-Turnu, Der, as far as the region of Gutium, the sacred centers on the other side of the Tigris, whose sanctuaries had been abandoned for a long time, I returned the images of the gods, who had resided there, to their places and I let them dwell in eternal abodes. I gathered all their inhabitants and returned to them their dwellings.” – King Cyrus the Great, take from the Cyrus Cylinder (written circa 538 BCE as translated at Livius.org).

PRAYER
Lord, help me to recognize your handiwork in all people, no matter how different they are from me. Amen.

God’s People, part 104: The Mede

Read Daniel 6

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE

“Sharpen the arrows! Lift up the shields! For the Lord has inspired the kings of the Medes to march against Babylon and destroy her. This is his vengeance against those who desecrated his Temple.” (Jeremiah‬ ‭51:11‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

  Part 104: Darius. At the end of the fifth chapter of Daniel, and all throughout the sixth chapter, we run into what is a bit of a historical mystery in the Bible. The question that plagues scholars and theologians is this, who in the world was King Darius the Mede? If you Google “King Darius” your top results will point you to a Persian king named Darius I who was also known as Darius the Great. At a quick glance, one would think that this Darius must be Darius the Mede; however, when you pay close attention to the details, the Persian king (though the Persian Empire included the kingdom of Media) cannot be the same king as Darius the Mede.

According to the author of Daniel, Darius the Mede ruled in between the reigns of King Belshazaar (who I wrote about in the last part of this series) and the Persian king Cyrus. Yet, we know that King Darius the Great was the third king to succeed the thrown following the death of Cyrus. Thus, Darius the Mede and Darius the Great were not the same person.

So, who was Darius the Mede? This question leads us into the reality that not all of the books in the Bible were intended to be historical records, but were stories intended to convey a certain point and/or theology. Daniel may be one of those examples, as there is no record of there ever having been a Darius the Mede that ruled Babylon between the crown prince Belshazaar (who was given the title of King in the book of Daniel, but never really was king) and Cyrus the Great. The lineages of kings were important and meticulous records of those types of things were kept in the ancient world.

That is how we know so much about Cyrus and Darius and the other Persian kings. So, the fact that there is no historical record, whatsoever, of Darius the Mede can only mean that there was never any such person by that name who ruled Babylon prior to the Persians conquering it under Cyrus. Many scholars believe that Darius was a fictitious character that was a mashup of King Darius the Great with the words of Jeremiah 51:11.

What’s more, many scholars believe that the Book of Daniel itself is not a reliable work of history, but is, rather, and legendary tale, written in the second century BCE. These scholars question whether there ever was a Jewish person named Daniel in Babylon, as they say that there is no such Daniel mentioned anywhere else in the Bible. Yet, there are scholars now questioning that belief, as Ezekiel 14:14, 20 mention a “Daniel” who very well might have been the same Daniel. If so, then Daniel may have been written in the sixth century BCE.

Much more could be written about this, but it matters not for the purpose of this devotion. Whether Daniel was the theological retelling of a legendary hero or a real person who had an excellent relationship with a real king who eludes us in the remaining historical records, we can still pull Biblical truth out it and its characters. In the Book of Daniel, Darius the Mede is first introduced in chapter 5. Belshazaar, after having the cups and plates that were pillaged from Solomon’s Temple be used for a great feast, was cursed by God to be killed that very night at the hands of a “Darius the Mede.”

Indeed, that comes to pass that very night and Darius becomes the King of Babylon. Darius quickly becomes impressed with Daniel and promotes him to a high office within Darius’ court. This, of course, makes Darius other officials angry and they plot to have Daniel killed. They carry this out by tricking the king into signing a royal decree (one that cannot be reversed) that no one can pray to any being, human or god, for an entire month. During that month the only being one could pray to was Darius. They conspirators stated that this was to prove the loyalty of Darius’ subjects.

Daniel, protested that and continued to pray, resulting in him being put into the lions’ den. Darius was destressed at the fact that he HAD TO throw his Jewish friend and confidant into the lions’ den. Yet, by morning, Darius found Daniel still alive, praised Daniel’s God and decreed that anyone who spoke ill of Daniel or his God would face certain death. The Median King then through the conspirators into the den, where they were eaten alive by the lions.

Whether or not Daniel is historical, the book’s point is 100% true: God is with us all and those who listen to and follow God will be blessed. Whether one is a loyal follower of God or a person who has never known God but is open to the Holy Spirit, all such people are God’s people and we are not to judge their character by the human labels (such as race or religion) that divide us. Let us be challenged by this. Yes, there is only ONE God, and that God is revealed to us in the Bible; however, who are we to limit God’s ability to work in and through all people? Let’s be humbled and challenged.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

“I think you have to meet God kind of head on and I think sometimes when you live in a Christian culture that it’s hard to do that because we have all these preconceived ideas about who God is.” —Rich Mullins

PRAYER

Lord, help me to be humble enough to see that I don’t know you in the fullness of your glory. Amen.

Episode 27 | Graceful Justice: At All Costs

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-bd5d4-9599dd

In this episode, Rev. Todd Lattig concludes the 6 part series on Graceful Justice by looking at a very revealing passage in another letter written by Paul. It is in this passage where we see Paul’s own theology around Christian unity and Graceful Justice at work in his own life and ministry. This message is based on Romans 15:1-7.

MESSAGE REFERENCES:

  • Click here to view the trailer for the film, Paul, Apostle of Christ.
  • Click here to purchase or stream it on Amazon.com
  • Click here to stream it on VUDU.com

A biweekly devotional