Two Sundays ago, after a weekend trip to NoGunRi Peace Park, I was in charge of leading devotions for our weekly YAV meeting. I’ve never come up with my own devotion so I decided to reread my childhood favorite in search of a scripture I could use for a devotion: The book of Daniel. I ended up rereading the whole book (all 12 chapters) and taking a nap before deciding on some verses, but rereading Daniel was a valuable experience for me. So far removed am I from when I was in junior high reading the Bible for the first time.
Part of the reason I think I liked Daniel when I was young was because he does no wrong. He’s smart, handsome, and has a connection with God who allows him to interpret dreams. He has adventure as well, like his friends being thrown in a furnace, or that time he gets thrown in a lions’ den. There’s lots of politics and also a kooky King who is kind of arrogant and does some crazy stuff. What’s not to like?
The verses I selected were from the first dream that is revealed to him from God. He asks for it to be revealed to him so King Nebuchadnezzar doesn’t execute all the wise men in the land for not being able to tell him his own dream and interpret it.
17 Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 18 He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. 19 During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven 20 and said:
“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
wisdom and power are his.
21 He changes times and seasons;
he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning.
22 He reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what lies in darkness,
and light dwells with him.
23 I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors:
You have given me wisdom and power,
you have made known to me what we asked of you,
you have made known to us the dream of the king.”
It is praise worthy to praise God when he reveals great things to us. What was interesting to me, however, was how his reaction to the revelations change throughout the Book of Daniel. The dreams he interprets reveal terrible fates and difficult futures.
19 Then Daniel (also called Belteshazzar) was greatly perplexed for a time, and his thoughts terrified him. So the king said, “Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its meaning alarm you.”
Belteshazzar answered, “My lord, if only the dream applied to your enemies and its meaning to your adversaries!
It continues to escalate until the end of the book where Daniel is then having Revelations-esque dreams that are being interpreted to him by Angels. At that point he knows the dreams and they have been interpreted to him, but they still don’t make sense. (I may have joked that he reached Ph.D. levels of prophecy. All jokes aside, I recommend giving it a read!)
This to me closely parallels our experiences in Korea, and in light of the current circumstances around the world in Paris, Lebanon, Syria, and places I do not know. God has revealed to us many things. To bring us to a program like the YAV program, you generally need to have love for others. In Korea we’ve had the joy and honor of getting to know the people here. Our classmates, buddies, kids at our sites – people from church. I rejoice in that just as Daniel rejoiced in God answering his prayer. But we continue in that journey. At JaeAmRi (제암리), we learned of a massacre committed by the Japanese in retaliation against the Koreans for killing a Japanese police officer during Japanese occupation. The day prior to my devotion we visited NoGunRi (노근리) Peace Park where the US Military massacred Korean men, women, and children for nearly no reason during the Korean war. With both of these events, they were nearly completely unknown if it wasn’t for (in both cases) one person who fought to carry the story to the rest of the world. Kurt has explained the concept of Han (한) which (I’m paraphrasing) is a feeling of deep prolonged suffering. I feel as though Han is being revealed to us.
For God to reveal things to you is a gift, but perhaps it can be a responsibility as it was to Daniel to be a prophet. To open your heart and your mind to compassion and loving of people means that you can also feel their pain. Perhaps directly for us, this is the history of the people we are getting to know and love here in Korea. And perhaps like Daniel the more that is revealed the more confusing and terrifying the world becomes. In light of the terror attacks around the world with multitudes of casualties I feel this relevance more than ever. Perhaps we are not prophets as Daniel was, but I do feel that to know is both a gift and a heavy responsibility. And perhaps also in the end we are all left to wonder what it all means.
(And also that Alyson isn’t one for cheerful devotions…)
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One thought on “The Book of Daniel”
Now I want to do devos with you! 🙂 Thanks for sharing this. I cannot imagine the heaviness that may be weighing on you as you learn more about Han and what it means in your current context. But I resonate with what you said about the world seeming more confusing and terrifying the more things are revealed. I think holding revelation as a gift and as a responsibility is a good place to be – thanks so much for sharing this.
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