Behind the "Seens"

There's more going on here than meets the eye.

Daniel 1 (7)


Daniel 1 sets the stage for the rest of the book. It leads us with Israel into her captivity in Babylon, introduces us to the ways of the Babylonian royal court, and brings onto the stage the main players in this drama that will last until the days of King Cyrus, the servant of God (Is. 45.1-13). This is a time of judgment and trial, but it’s also a time of God’s caring and preparing His people for greater glory to come. Israel and the Babylonians see the events of captivity beginning to unfold. But behind the “seens,” God is at work, just as He always is, bringing His promises to fruition for His people.

Read Isaiah 45.1-13.

Read and Meditate on Daniel 1.

Think it Through
1.  Describe Israel’s situation at the end of Daniel 1. Recalling Psalm 137, how do you suppose most of the people felt about what was happening to them? On the other hand, what would have been the Babylonians’ attitude toward this situation? Who seemed to have the upper hand here? Most of the people in captivity would not have been aware of the story that unfolded in Daniel 1. Even if they were, they would have seen this as simply one more humiliating development: The best and brightest of their youth, forced to serve in the royal court of their enemy. In what sense is it true that we can often be misled by the “seens” of life?

2.  How many different ways is it suggested in Daniel 1 that God is still at work in Israel, willing and doing of His good pleasure (Phil. 2.13)? Would the people of Israel have been encouraged to know this? Should they have known this? Why or why not? When the “seens” of life don’t seem to be going our way, we should remind ourselves that they’re not the whole story. Explain.

“And so the God of all makes evident the foolishness, infirmity and loathsome ways of the world in order to put to shame its power and wisdom. People who care for bodily things and seek beauty, greatness and great bodily strength know nothing of divine wisdom but rather only a false and artificial sort of eloquence. And thus is the distance between humanity and God.” Theodoret of Cyr (393-466 AD)

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3.1-3

Teach me, Lord, to focus not only on the “seens” of this life, but on the unseen things of Christ as well. Then I will…

Pray through Psalm 74. Remember that this psalm was written during the reign of King Solomon, when Israel was a flourishing and powerful nation. But Asaph could see the compromises that were already beginning, and he knew where these would lead. His mind was filled with terror at the dissolution and judgment to come. But he also remembered to call upon God, Who brings such discipline upon His people, to restore His favor to them once again. Pray reflectively, thinking about the situation of God’s people in our day, and letting Asaph’s words guide you in seeking the Lord for revival, renewal, and awakening.

Psalm 74 (Rockingham Old: O Lord Most High, With All My Heart)
O Lord, why have You cast us off? Why does Your anger ever burn?
Remember now Your Church, O Lord, and to us let Your grace return.

Turn now Your steps to this sad ruin; our foes have damaged all within.
They roar throughout Your meeting place and raise the banner of their sin.

The wicked wield their ax within and desecrate our walls around;
Defiling Your abiding-place, they burn Your temple to the ground.

Within their hearts they plot and scheme: “Now let us finally bring them down!”
Our signs and prophets all are gone; they burn our churches to the ground.

How long, O Lord, must they prevail and mock and spurn Your holy Name?
Why stay Your hand? Deploy it now, and bring Your foes to lasting shame!

Our God is King from long ago, Who works deliv’rance in the land;
He split the sea, He crushed His foes; against Him none can ever stand.

You opened the springs, fresh water flowed; to You belong both day and night.
You bound the seasons and the earth, and gave the sun its glorious light.

Remember this, O Lord, our God: a foolish people spurns Your Name;
Deliver not Your flock to them, nor leave Your holy ones to shame.

Your covenant recall, renew, for violence spreads throughout the earth;
The poor and needy rescue, Lord, and we shall sing Your matchless worth!

Arise O God, and plead Your cause! See how the fools reproach Your Name.
Their voices quell, their uproar still, who Your majestic grace defame.

T. M Moore

A free PDF download of this week’s study is available by clicking here.

For a better understanding of the book of Daniel, and all the books of the Bible, order a copy of the workbook,
God’s Covenant, from our online store. The studies in this workbook will show you how the parts of the Bible connect with one another to tell the story of God’s redemption and glory (click here).

Men, God is calling you to pray, lest He come in judgment against His Church.
Watch this brief video, then seek the Lord about joining our Men at Prayer movement.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from
The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT. 

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