29 November 2010

Nov 29

Reference links:
Old Testament

Daniel rises high in the administration of the conquerer, Darius the Mede. This causes others to be jealous of him, and they decide to use Daniel's religion as a snare. They get the king, who seems to be as unthinking as the king in Esther, that anyone who prays to anyone or anything other than the king in the next 30 days should be thrown into the den of lions. One wonders if ancient kings were really that "yeah, sure, whatever" about signing laws. Or that the king would not have noticed that one of his favorites, Daniel, regularly prayed to a deity; these officials noticed it, so Daniel was obviously not keeping it a secret.

In any case, Daniel defies the law and is caught. Again, as in Esther, the law cannot be revoked. The king reluctantly gives Daniel to the lions, but Daniel, of course, is miraculously saved. The king gets his revenge by having the men who plotted against Daniel, along with their wives and children, thrown into the den of lions. That's a rather unfair punishment. Maybe, just maybe, killing the plotters can be justified (better to just strip them of their positions, in my opinion), but killing their families is cruel.

The upshot of this is that Darius, like Nebuchadnezzar before him, declares Daniel's God to be totally awesome. Daniel continued to prosper.

New Testament

We finish 2 Peter today. The author declares that in the last days, people will scoff at those who believe that Jesus is returning. The author also revisits the Hebrew idea of the primordial waters out from which the earth was brought. Does he he really believe that cosmology or is he referring to it symbolically?

The author then gives the ultimate cop out for Jesus' tardiness in returning: God's time is not our time. Now, if that had been a consistent message, I would not call it a cop out. However, previous authors who referred to the nearness of the end times sure sounded pretty convinced that when they said (or, if you'd like, were inspired to say) that the end times were near, they meant near in human terms. In any case, the longer God waits, the more people will be saved. But the "give people more time to be saved argument" is rather weak when you consider that birth and death are constantly renewing the population.

The author of 2 Peter also seems to look forward to the destruction of everything. In the meantime, the believers should live peaceful lives. He closes by warning people not be get carried away by erroneous beliefs.

Psalms and Proverbs

Today's second proverb is fairly straight forward:
Greedy people try to get rich quick
but don’t realize they’re headed for poverty.
But the first proverb is one where I cannot quite figure out how the first and the second part are supposed to relate to each other:
Showing partiality is never good,
yet some will do wrong for a mere piece of bread.