2 Peter 2
Matt 5:45 Jesus reminds us that God “makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” So, when God sends judgment on the world, it is going to affect the righteous as well as the unrighteous. In 2 Peter 2:4-9 Peter reminds us that while God is going to judge evil, he will never forget the righteous.
- He judged the people of Noah’s day, but spared Noah and his family.
- He judged the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, but he spared Lot
It’s amazing how God is able to judge the wicked, spare the righteous, while at the same time, use the very thing that brings judgement on the wicked, to refine the faith of the righteous. As I meditated on this truth, the Lord brought the example of Daniel to mind.
When God judged Israel, and allowed the Babylonians to capture some the young men of Israel, Daniel and his 3 friends were swept up in God’s judgment. (Dan 1:1-4) We all know the story of what happened. Dan 1:5-7 describes how Daniel and his 3 friends chose to not defile themselves with the kings food. They remained faithful to the Lord, and God honored that. I am sure through this experience God used it to greatly refine their faith! Throughout the book of Daniel, we see glimpses of the work God was doing in their hearts.
In chapter 3 we see Daniel’s 3 friends stand up against the king and refuse to bow to his idol. As a result they get thrown into the fiery furnace. But, through it all, their faith grew even stronger! (Dan 3:17-18)
In chapter 6 we read the story of Daniel and the lion’s den. This was another opportunity for his faith to be refined and we see how strong his faith had become. Daniel remained faithful, even though he knew it could cost him his life!
2 Pet 2:9 “The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgement.” In the case of Daniel and his friends, “rescuing them from trials” didn’t mean they didn’t experience trials. After all, they were thrown into a fiery furnace and into a den of hungry lions. Talk about circumstances to cause anxiety! Both those circumstances could have caused great anxiety and worry after the edicts were given. For Daniel’s 3 friends, do they bow to the idol or not? For Daniel, does he still continue his habit of prayer? I for one would have been very anxious in either of those situations! But, as they faced those trials, they faced them with God, and from God’s perspective! (Dan 3:17-18; Dan 6:10) They experienced God’s peace (Phil 4:4-7) in the midst of incredible stress and potential for anxiety.
When we get near the end of Daniel, we see him (Dan 9:1-23) acknowledges the sin of the nation, and his personal sin, Daniel also sees the current state of Israel, the broken down temple, the captivity of God’s people, and acknowledges that all of it was the result of God keeping His word to judge the nation if they turned away from Him. We also see him, instead of becoming anxious about it all, turning his anxiety into a prayer. (Phil 4:6 ; Dan 9:18-19).
I was coaching a friend this past week, and we went through Philippians 4:6-9 as a tool for dealing with anxiety. I think this passage shows Daniel responding in a very similar way.
Here’s how it works:
- Phil 4:6-7 Don’t be anxious, but pray instead. When you are anxious, it’s because you want something. So, instead worrying about not getting what you want, turn it into a prayer and ask God for that. But, once you pray about it, you need to leave it in God’s hands, and acknowledge God’s sovereignty and rest in that. Like Daniel’s 3 friends did. (Dan 3:17-18) Phil 4:6 says we need to make our request with thanksgiving. Thank him for what this experience is teaching you. Thank him that your worry is causing you to remember you need God. God promises, when we do this, we will experience his peace!
- Phil 4:8 Anxiety often occurs when we live according to the lies we believe. So, the next step in dealing with anxiety is to identify the lies, and speak truth. I believe we see this in Daniel in Dan 9:18-19 He acknowledged he was petitioning, not based on his righteousness, but based on God’s mercy. Asking God not to delay for the sake of God’s name, God’s city and God’s people. Speaking what is true, right, lovely, and worthy of praise, rather than the lies causing your anxiety.
- Phil 4:9 To deal with your anxiety, the final step is “do something about it.” Phil 4:9 says, “Practice the things you have received and heard and seen in me.” Get in the Word. Read, pray, spend time with God. Meditate on the truth. I believe this is what Daniel was doing in Daniel 9:20. “While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people, and presenting my plea before the Lord…”
- I am commanded not to worry. When I worry it’s because I am trying to control circumstances and I am not resting in God’s sovereign plan for me today.
- God will use everything to accomplish his plan. His plan to judge the wicked. His plan to conform the righteous to the image of His son. His plan to bring salvation to the world. And somehow, God can and does often use the same circumstances to do all those things, all at the same time!
- The truth is, God is always good. What He does is always the best for me! His love is as great as His power, and neither knows measure nor end.
- As I speak the truth with thankfulness, I will experience God’s peace! (Phil 4:7)