Thoughts to Ponder: Chapter 5
Chapter 5: A Time to Stand and Act ~ Daniel 2:1-19
Q1 – What would be the natural reaction(s) for most people if they were unexpectedly told they were to be executed?
A1 – A whole range of emotions comes to mind—fear, panic, anger. Daniel may well have felt some or all of these emotions, but fortunately his rational self won out before he opened his mouth to speak.
Sometimes the emotions that immediately well up inside us when confronted with dire situations may cause us to freeze, rendering us incapable of taking action. Or they may cause us to scream and strike out at whomever or whatever is nearby. Fortunately, Daniel kept his actions under control as well.
One thing to consider in this whole situation is how different the times were back them for Daniel. As you read through the book of Daniel, notice how many death threats are issued at various times. Daniel lived in servitude under a pretty heavy handed set of kings, so he may have grown somewhat accustomed to death threats. While he certainly understood the consequences, perhaps hearing the death decree may not have been as shocking to him as it would be to us.
Q2 – Have you ever found yourself in a life or death situation? How did you handle it? How would you hope to handle a dire situation, should one arise in the future?
A2 – It will be interesting to hear about individual experiences. Situations can be so varied and happen so suddenly that it’s hard to prepare for what might occur in the future. Studying what has happened to others can be helpful.
Think about your relationship with God and ask yourself—if you were to die right now, would you be right with God? If you keep yourself in a right relationship with God, then you will have the assurance that no matter what occurs, whether you live or whether you die, you belong to Him. “If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” (Romans 14:8 NIV)
Q3 – Can you, like the apostle Paul, truly say, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain”? (Philippians 1:21 NIV) What advice does he give in the verses that follow? (Philippians 1:27-30)
A3 – After the Lord got his attention on the road to Damascus, Paul lived his life wholly and fervently for the Lord. He endured many trying situations because of his faith, yet he never wavered in his devotion and truly lived for the Lord. He also knew how great the eternal reward will be for Christians. So he knew if he died, he would be so much bester off, in a situation infinitely more desirable that his earthly existence.
How do Christians today mature spiritually to the point where they can make the same statement as Paul? He gives his instructions in verses 27-30: conduct yourselves worthy of the gospel of Christ, stand together with fellow Christians firm in the one Spirit, don’t be frightened by those who oppose you—even though you go through struggles and suffer for Christ.