Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.
Reading 1 - 2Ch 22
Concerning Athaliah (2Ch 22) GV Growcott writes: "The
influence of a woman over a man may be tremendous, either for good or evil. It
is a power that is unique. Applied in the right direction it can work wonders of
transformation, and the quiet operation of this power for good may be many a
woman's crown of salvation. But it is a two-edged sword and Athaliah portrays
the other edge. How important, then, is marriage 'only in the Lord'!"
Reading 2 - Dan 3
"The story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego is a story we
all know well. Who does not know how these three Hebrews were cast into the
fiery furnace and came out alive? Familiarity with the story of the fiery
furnace is one of two major obstacles which prevents us from benefiting from
this passage as we should.
"We are told automobile accidents often happen close to home.
Because we are so familiar with the area, we pay less attention. In the same
way, familiar passages of Scripture may receive less of our attention.
Christians, and many others, know the stories of David and Goliath, Samson and
Delilah, and Jonah and the 'whale.' We may fail to grasp the meaning and message
they were intended to convey because of our superficial understanding of the
characters and events.
"A second barrier is our mentally filing the story of these
three Hebrews under the category of 'fairy tale' or 'myth.' Some commentators
candidly admit, even advocate, that this story is merely a myth, and not
history. They, at least, are conscious of their perspective on this passage. But
many of us have heard this story so often in Sunday School that we may have
lumped Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego with Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel, and
Goldilocks and the Three Bears...
"We must see this event as history, not fairy tale. We must
feel the heat of that fire and smell the smoke of that ancient furnace" (Robert
"But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of
the province of Babylon -- Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego -- who pay no
attention to you, O king. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of
gold you have set up" (Dan 3:12).
Picture the scene. On a huge plain Nebuchadnezzar had set up a
huge statue of gold 27 meters high. This great image was imposed upon the
landscape so that people from miles around could see it. Then the people were
gathered into the plain and told to fall down before that image when they heard
As the music began, the mass of standing people on the plain
would suddenly fall down to the ground, leaving three men still standing in the
midst of the crowd. With all the people down around their knees, these three
would have stood out like great trees in a pasture, or like ships' masts on a
smooth sea. What courage to stand apart in a situation like that!
It might have seemed to them like a good compromise, at that
point, simply to have fallen down with the rest of the people, whilst telling
themselves that they were not REALLY worshipping the image. But God does not
want compromises. He wants all of us. With God it is all or nothing. These young
men gave their all to God and were prepared to give their lives for him.
Let us not compromise our stand with God, but rather take our
stand for Him and Him alone.
The absence of reference to Daniel here raises questions. Was
he away on government business, was he occupied with pressing matters, or was he
ill and unable to attend the ceremony? Did he enjoy such an exalted position or
such favor with the king that these Chaldeans dared not accuse him? The writer
did not explain this mystery. It was the response of Daniel's three Hebrew
friends that he wanted to stress. It seems safe to assume that if Daniel had
been present he would have responded as his three friends did.
"Then Nebuchadnezzar said, 'Praise be to the God of Shadrach,
Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants!' " (Dan
His question, asked only moments before, "What god is there
who can deliver you out of my hands?" (v 15), is now answered by the king who
asked it. Nebuchadnezzar blessed the God of these three Hebrews, as the God who
had delivered them from death. He praised them for their faithfulness in obeying
their God, even unto death. Significantly, the king praised these men for their
exclusive (monotheistic) worship of their God. Unlike the rest, they were not
willing to serve any other god in addition to the one God they worshipped and
"They trusted in him and defied the king's command and were
willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their
own God' " (Dan 3:28).
The AV has "...and yielded their bodies, that they might not
serve nor worship any god, except their own God." This seems to be echoed in Rom
12:1: "I urge you, brothers... to offer [present] your bodies as living
sacrifices..." The example of the three friends should be our example when we
are confronted with trials and temptations to cause us to compromise our faith.
Such action as they manifested was a "living sacrifice", by contrast to the
sacrifices under the law of Moses -- which were usually dead animals.
And here, even before the great "idol" of the Babylonian king,
the young Jews could offer themselves as the ultimate sacrifice to their faith!
It is fascinating, then, to note that even the very presence of the "false god"
was holy ground, because it was witness to a holy "sacrifice".
Reading 3 - Acts 1:9-12
"After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes,
and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky
as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 'Men
of Galilee,' they said, 'why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same
Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way
you have seen him go into heaven.' Then they returned to Jerusalem" (Acts
Describing this same scene, Luke 24:52 adds, "Then they
worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy."
They had seen the heavenly glory and heard the heavenly voice.
We are there with them. Now, history merges into eternity. We now hear the same
voice, promising the same return. And we still wait for that return. Those men,
and untold numbers of every age since, wait in the dust of the earth. We are yet
alive, perhaps to hear the Trumpet, and the voice of the Archangel, when the
Lord himself will descend from heaven. Will we be ready?