Weekend Devotion – Daniel 6:5

Daniel 6:5

Do you have enemies? Fortunate is the person who can answer “no” to that question. But for most of us, there are at least some people in our lives we could categorize that way.

Our goal as Christians is to be sure that any enmity that exists is not a result of our actions. The Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 12:18 “…as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

No one in the Old Testament lives this out better than the prophet Daniel. In the sixth chapter of Daniel, jealous co-workers set out to destroy him. The Bible says they tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel to discredit him in the eyes of his boss, King Darius, but could find nothing. Then we read this:

We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the laws of his God. – Daniel 6:5

In other words, if they’re going to get Daniel in hot water with the king, they’ll have to put him in a position of choosing between the King of the Medes & Persians and the King of the Universe – because they were certain he’d choose God over the king.

What a statement on Daniel’s character!

Would someone seeking to discredit you or I have the same dilemma?

Christians should be the most honest people in the office, the people who work the hardest and treat their co-workers the best. They should leave the best tips in restaurants (especially on Sunday!) and treat both those in positions of authority and positions of service with honor and dignity. In short, With God’s help we should seek to live each day as Paul instructs in Titus 2:8, such that any who oppose us would be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.

Have a blessed weekend and Lord’s Day!

Weekend Devotion – I Samuel 23:14

David stayed in the desert strongholds and in the hills of the Desert of Ziph. Day after day Saul searched for him, but God did not give David into his hands – I Samuel 23:14

English: DAVID PLAYING THE HARP BEFORE KING SA...
DAVID PLAYING THE HARP BEFORE KING SAUL.—1 Samuel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In I Samuel 15, God rejects Saul as king because of disobedience then in chapter 16, Samuel anoints Jesse’s son David as the next king. But, there was a problem. Saul was still alive and well on the throne and not in any hurry to give it up.

After David defeats the giant Goliath, King Saul takes David into the palace and into his family. But Saul soon becomes jealous of David and begins to pursue him relentlessly trying to kill him. Probably not the life David had in mind when told he would be the King of Israel!

In the passage above we see an interesting dynamic. God is controlling the outcome yet David still acts. David knows he will be king because God has promised that he will. Nevertheless, David hides from Saul. Why? Because God’s sovereignty over all things does not preclude human action. God ordains the ends as well as the means and human action is the means He’s chosen to achieve His ends.

There’s a parallel here for our Christian walk. David was never in danger of being defeated by Saul and losing the kingship, yet he continued to work hard to avoid capture. Believers are never in danger of losing our salvation, yet we are called by the Apostle Paul to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).

Saul pursued David in unbelief and was destroyed. David hid from Saul in belief and was saved. God’s sovereignty is no excuse for inaction. Followers of Christ are called to trust God and work hard recognizing that ultimately the results are up to Him and knowing that He will keep His promises to His people.

The Lindisfarne Gospels

Opening page the Gospel of Matthew from the Li...

A week or so back, my son lost his Bible. We searched everywhere for it and in the end, had to send him to church with another one. Finding that particular Bible proved difficult, finding another one to send in its place – 2 minutes. Sitting in my office I have within reach at least three different Bibles in English, one in Spanish and one in Romanian.

But there was a time when not every individual had a Bible, yet alone more than one. In fact, there was a time when whole communities of believers were without any part of the scriptures in writing.  This was the world of early eighth century England when the Lindisfarne Gospels were produced.

Written circa 700 A.D. this is more than just a text of the four gospels. It’s a work of art. It is also evidence of the dedication to and reverence for the Word of God at the time it was produced. Most copies of scripture during the middle ages were done by teams of scribes in a scriptorium at a monastery.  But the Lindisfarne Gospels were written and illustrated by one man – Eadfrith, Bishop of Lindisfarne (698-721). Eadfrith produced the book in honor of St. Cuthbert who had died several years earlier.  It’s estimated this work took ten years to complete. But beyond the cost in time was the cost in resources, especially the calf skin required for the vellum pages. Michelle Brown of the British Library tells us:

The creation needed a remarkable input of human resource, as well as the physical resource of 300 of the best, finest cattle skins imaginable. It must have meant many, many communities’ annual incomes, with lots of gift exchange as well. Pigments too were needed, not only local ores, leads and materials of that sort, but possibly lapis lazuli from the foothills of the Himalayas. That tells us so much about the environment in which it was made and it’s socio-economic and historical context. But the most remarkable thing for me is the fact that it is one person’s time.

End of 7th century
St. Matthew from the Lindisfarne Gospels

Each of the four gospels begins with a page of beautiful artwork depicting the evangelist. There are also fifteen other pages with ornate illustrations throughout the book. These show the influence of native Celtic and Anglo-Saxon art as well as Roman, Coptic and Eastern traditions – revealing the cultural diversity of Northumbria at the time. During the Viking raids of the ninth century, the original jeweled cover was lost. Thankfully, the text was evacuated from Lindisfarne and preserved. A new jeweled cover replicating the original was added in 1852.

The gospels were written in Latin but around 970 A.D. an Anglo-Saxon translation was added in red ink beneath the Latin. This makes the Lindisfarne Gospels the oldest surviving version of the gospels in any form of the English language.

They were donated to the British Museum in 1753 by a private collector. In the summer of 2013, they will be on display at a special exhibition at Durham University’s Palace Green Library. This exhibition will also feature St. Cuthbert’s Gospel (of John) the oldest surviving intact European book.

You can read more about the July 1 – September 30, 2013 exhibition here.

You can also virtually thumb through the Lindisfarne Gospels here courtesy of the British Library.