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Four People Stripped of the Names God Gave Them

Daniel and His Three Friends

In my last post, Three People Given a New Name by God, we looked at God renaming people to give them a new identity. Today we will consider the opposite: people whose names were changed in order to strip away their identity. I’m talking about a young man named Daniel and his three friends.

These lads were forcibly relocated after their country was overthrown. They were removed from their families and all they knew in order to be indoctrinated into the king’s service.

In a final act of reprogramming, they were stripped of their Hebrew names and given new identities. This was not to encourage them or elevate the trajectory of their lives as God did with Abraham, Sarah, and Israel, but an attempt to remove every last bit of who they were, including their faith.

Daniel and his friends didn’t let others reprogram them from who God made them to be—and neither should we. Click To Tweet

Daniel became Belteshazzar, Hananiah became Shadrach, Mishael became Meshach, and Azariah became Abednego.

We live in a world that continually gives us names, names to push us down, names to remove the identity God gave us or how he sees us. Though these may be in the form of nicknames, such as “Shorty,” “Goofus,” or “Blondie,” they are more often labels: loser, worthless, klutz, or stupid.

Daniel and his friends didn’t let others reprogram them from who God made them to be—and neither should we.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Daniel 1-3, and today’s post is on Daniel 1:6-7.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Build Up a Wall and Stand in the Gap

Discover How One Person Can Make a Difference

In the book of Ezekiel, God said he looked for one person who could make a difference. One person who could build up the wall and stand in the gap for his people. But God could find no one. What if he had found someone? Instead of destruction, the outcome would have been different.

Look at these four biblical characters who stood in the gap and made a difference.

Abraham

When God revealed to Abraham his plan to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham interceded, pleading for God to not destroy the cities and therefore protect the few righteous people who lived there.

Though God did not relent and spare the cities, he did spare three of its residents: Lot and his two daughters. Abraham stood in the gap (Genesis 18:16-32).

Moses

Twice Moses stood in the gap for God’s people. Two times the Israelites so exasperated God that he wanted to wipe them out and start over, making Moses’s descendants into a great nation. Most leaders would’ve accepted this as God’s will, but not Moses.

He pleaded for God to relent and not destroy the people. Moses stood in the gap and God relented (Exodus 32:10-14 and Numbers 14:12-20).

David

When the Philistines and their champion fighter Goliath confronted the Israelite army, everyone trembled at his size and bravado. No one dared to fight him. But David did. David stood in the gap, and God granted him victory over Goliath and the Philistine army (1 Samuel 17:32-52).

Daniel

Daniel took responsibility for the sins of his people. He confessed the nation’s sins to God and asked for deliverance. Daniel stood in the gap (Daniel 9:4-23).

What can you do to stand in the gap and make a difference? Click To Tweet

Can You Stand in the Gap?

What can you do to stand in the gap and make a difference?

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Ezekiel 21-22, and today’s post is on Ezekiel 22:30.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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What is “The Abomination That Causes Desolation?”

The phrase “the abomination that causes desolation” occurs five times in the Bible. Daniel mentions it three times in his prophecies of future events (Daniel 9:27, Daniel 11:31, and Daniel 12:11).

People speculate what he means—such as the destruction of the temple or something foreshadowing the end of the world—but whatever the interpretation, the important thing to realize is that it’s something bad, something evil.

Jesus also mentions the abomination that causes desolation (Matthew 24:15). So at the time of Jesus, this part of Daniel’s prophecy has not yet come true or else Jesus wouldn’t reference it as a future event.

It is still forthcoming. Also, the fact that Jesus mentions it gives added credence to Daniel’s prophecy.

In Mark’s record of Jesus’s mention of this curious phrase, he includes a warning for those in Judea to run to a safe place in the mountains (Mark 13:14). This is not a time to stay and fight; resistance is ill advised.

Sometimes we need to oppose evil and other times we must run from it. Click To Tweet

When confronted with something evil, sometimes we need to oppose it and sometimes we must run from it. May God grant us the discernment to know the difference.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Daniel 7-9 and today’s post is on Daniel 9:27.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Five Angels in the Bible With Names

Most of the time when angels are mentioned in the Bible, their names are not given. Apparently, their names aren’t important; their message is what matters.

However, the names of four angels are mentioned:

Michael

The only archangel in the Bible is Michael. Jude reveals Michael argued with Satan about the body of Moses (Jude 1:9). Later, in Revelation, Michael leads his army of angels in a battle against the dragon (Revelation 12:7).

Michael is also mentioned in the book of Daniel, although here he is not called an angel, but “one of the chief princes” (Daniel 10:13), “your prince” (Daniel 10:21), and “the great prince” (Daniel 12:1). In these instances in Daniel, Michael is referred to by another supernatural being, who may or may not be an angel.

Gabriel

Also appearing in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, Gabriel arrives with messages for Daniel (Daniel 8:16 and Daniel 9:21), Zechariah (Luke 1:19), and Mary (Luke 1:26). He is only mentioned these four times.

Raphael

Raphael makes his appearance in the book of Tobit, which is one of the apocryphal books of the Bible. He is mentioned twenty-nine times, in this one book. Raphael appears to Tobias in the form of a man.

Whereas most angels merely communicate God’s message, Raphael accompanies Tobias on his quest, offering advice and encouragement, perhaps even being an instrument of healing for Tobias’s father, Tobit, and Tobias’s wife, Sarah.

Uriel

Another apocryphal angel is Uriel. He is mentioned by name only three times, in the book of 2 Esdras (2 Esdras 4:1, 2 Esdras 5:20, and 2 Esdras 10:28). He comes to the prophet Ezra with messages from God. At one point he holds Ezra’s hand and comforts him.

In addition to the above, these four angels (and more more) appear in a single verse in Enoch 9:1: “Then Michael and Gabriel, Raphael, Suryal, and Uriel, looked down from heaven, and saw the quantity of blood which was shed on earth.”

In Enoch chapter 10, God gives each one of them an assignment in the pre-flood world. Notably, Uriel is sent to give Noah a message of the coming flood, Enoch 10:2.

Many other angels are also named in the book of Enoch.

Jeremiel

In 2 Esdras, another book of the apocrypha, we learn of another archangel, Jeremiel (2 Esdras 4:36).

[Discover more about the Bible at ABibleADay.com: Bible FAQs, Bible Dictionary, Books of the Bible Overview, and Bible Reading Plans.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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What About Daniel and Esther?

What About Daniel and Esther?

The discussion of the text that is not found in all Bibles concludes by addressing the books of Daniel and Esther.

In some versions of the Bible, the book of Daniel contains 12 chapters, while in others there are 14. These two chapters are both interesting and insightful.

Daniel 13 is the story of upright Suzanna, who is falsely accused of adultery and sentenced to death. God intervenes by revealing to a young Daniel the duplicity of her accusers; Daniel is able to expose their false testimony and save Suzanna.

Daniel 14 contains two stories of Daniel later in his life. First, he shows that the Babylonian god Bel is not living; he then kills Bel’s prophets and destroys the temple. Second, he proceeds to kill a dragon that the people worship.

His detractors throw him in a pit of lions for a week; God again intervenes to save Daniel.

As far as Esther, the two accounts seem like a condensed version and an unabridged version. The longer version contains a prelude and a postscript, along with helpful insertions throughout, including the edicts that where issued and the prayers of Mordecai and Esther. 

The result is a fuller and more detailed understanding of what took place.

These additional passages are found in The Jerusalem Bible, as well as other versions.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Seeking God’s Favor

Seeking God’s Favor

There are several places in the Bible that talk about seeking God’s favor. In reading these sections it becomes clear that when people seek God’s favor, good things result; when they don’t, bad things result.

For example, Hezekiah sought God’s favor and disaster was averted, whereas the Jewish people did not seek God’s favor and spent 70 years in captivity.

When people seek God's favor, good things result; when they don't, bad things result. Click To Tweet

What isn’t readily apparent is how one goes about seeking God’s favor, but Daniel provides the answer. It is simply by stop doing bad things and acknowledging his truth.

Seeking God’s favor isn’t hard, but it’s not often done.

[Jeremiah 26:19, Daniel 9:13]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Don’t Be Afraid—It’s Just an Angel

Don’t Be Afraid—It’s Just an Angel

Our perceptions of angels are likely skewed by paintings we have seen. While many of these paintings are great works of art, they cannot begin to capture just how breathtaking and astounding angels must be.

Consider Daniel’s angelic encounter: “His body was like [a precious gem], his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude.” I’ve never seen a picture like that!

Now consider Daniel’s reaction to his angelic encounter:

  • no strength, grew deathly pale, very weak (v8)
  • trembling (v10-11)
  • speechless (v15)
  • overcome with anguish; helpless (v16)
  • strength is gone; can hardly breathe (v17)

Plus, this was likely a “junior” angel, as he required help from a more powerful angel just to reach Daniel. How much more intense would it have been if the “senior” angel showed himself. It is no surprise then, that one of the first things angels say when they reveal themselves is “don’t be afraid.”

However, if an encounter with an angel produces this sort of intense, overwhelming, heart-stopping reaction, imagine what an encounter with the God who created them would be like.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Daniel 10-12, and today’s post is on Daniel 10:4-17.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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God Thinks Highly of Us

God Thinks Highly of Us

Do you ever wonder what God thinks of you? Unfortunately, I suspect that most people who consider such a question reach the wrong conclusion.

But what if an angel were to show up and provide a supernatural perspective about you?

It’s happened:

An angel tells Daniel that he is “highly esteemed.” This doesn’t just happen once, but is said three times on two different occasions. As a result of being highly esteemed, great insight about the future is revealed to Daniel.

A few centuries later, an angel tells a young girl that she is “highly favored”; her name is Mary. As a result of being highly favored, Jesus is born and the world is forever changed.

We can't earn our salvation, we apparently can be esteemed and favored by God for our actions and dedication. Click To Tweet

Although we can’t earn our salvation, we apparently can be esteemed and favored by God for our actions and dedication; implicitly, the opposite must also be true.

While we may never have an angel visit us to say what God thinks of us, the Bible does reveal this truth. But to find out, you can’t read it as a legal document or an instruction manual; embrace the Bible as a narrative, God’s narrative to you.

[Daniel 9:23 and 10:11&19, Luke 1:28]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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More on Predestination

More on Predestination

Another curious thing with Daniel’s prayer is that he may not have even needed to make it!

After all, God, through Jeremiah, foretold that the nation would be in captivity for 70 years and then return. The seventy years are about up; it is time to go home.

God decreed it, so there’s no need to pray. Yet Daniel prays anyway, asking God to do what he already said he would do.

Could there be causality?

Is Daniel’s prayer needed for God’s intention to come to fruition?

Or perhaps God’s decree is given with the foreknowledge that in 70 years Daniel will pray for deliverance.

Was it predestined that the people would be repatriated after 70 years or was it predestined that Daniel would pray, resulting in their return?

In another wonderful God paradox, the answer is yes!

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Daniel 7-9, and today’s post is on Daniel 9:2.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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A Curious Prayer by Daniel

A Curious Prayer by Daniel

The ninth chapter of Daniel records a curious prayer of Daniel.

One thing that is strange is Daniel confesses things he never did. He personally accepts the errors of former generations, identifying with the wayward actions of his country.

It is as if Daniel, though innocent in this regard, takes on himself the faults and failures of an entire nation, personally confessing them and seeking God’s deliverance on their behalf.

If that sounds a bit familiar, Jesus did the same thing, but on a much grander scale and with universal and everlasting impact.

Daniel’s humble prayer foreshadows Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice.

[Daniel 9:1-19; also check out 2 Corinthians 5:21]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.