One of the most popular stories from the book of Daniel is about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s refusal to bow down and worship the image that King Nebuchadnezzar set up and demanded that all people worship. The three men refuse to worship this idol and declare that they will only worship God. Furthermore, they make the famous proclamation that God will deliver them from the fire, but even if He doesn’t, they will not bow down to other gods (Daniel 3:14-18). Although the faith of these three men stands out, other issues caught my attention today as well.

As I read through the third chapter of Daniel today I couldn’t help but notice the repetition of lists and mused that the writer was being paid by the word. Let’s take a look at some verses so you can see what I’m talking about.

He then summoned the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates, and all the other provincial officials to come to the dedication of the image he had set up.

Daniel 3:2 (NIV)

So the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates, and all the other provincial officials assembled for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up, and they stood before it.

Daniel 3:3 (NIV)

These verses stand out, even more, when you read them aloud or listen to them read. I wanted to know why these lists were repeated twice in a row. I also wanted to know why the lists about the musical instruments that were played, “the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music” were repeated four times. Four times we read about this list of musical instruments! In verses 5, 7, 10, and 15. This might be something one might overlook in reading the text so I encourage you to listen, or better yet, read it aloud.

I must say that I’m often pleased when something stands out to me and I discover that it’s not just me. However, today I opened up a huge can of worms. My eyes still hurt from all of the analytical text that I’ve read on why these lists might have been repeated. Before going and researching all of this I did what I usually do and I asked God first. Sometimes, I’ll hear Him while I’m reading something and all I have to do is listen. Other times, He’ll lead me as I search for answers. I don’t know if I wasn’t being patient today or what, but He did lead me to answers. Just not the ones I expected.

If there’s one thing that we all have in common when it comes to our relationship with God it’s about His timing. There are several truths we have as Believers that are firmly established in our minds (hopefully). God is good, God loves us, and He is perfect. We also might say that His timing is perfect and He’s never late but we still struggle with His timing and how it clashes with our own. We wouldn’t have an issue with patience otherwise, right?

I spend some time every day doing nothing but sitting and listening to God. I grab a pen and paper and sit down in my chair and wait. I do this because I know that I talk to Him a lot and regretfully don’t spend as much time listening for His replies as I ought. I am slowly realizing that I’m actively listening to Him each day in the hours I spend during devotions and I’m so very thankful to be hearing Him. There’s something else that I think I’m learning more and more about. Stepping out in faith.

These daily devotions might seem like analytical and literary masterpieces to you but I rarely know very little about what I’m going to write when I start writing. I usually know where I’m headed but my writing is done in faith. There certainly are times when I do more research than others during the process but everything I do is driven by my belief that God is answering my prayers each day. My prayers are to bring you something of worth. Something that will touch your heart as the Lord touches mine. We are always saying that we don’t want to leave church, Bible study, Sunday School, or anything else with the Lord’s hand in it, the same as we were when we started. This too, is my desire for us, each day when I write my devotions.

After all of the reading that I’ve done today the answers I found, as I’ve said, weren’t what I expected. No one really knows why these verses were repeated. There’s some conjecture as to whether or not the verses were intended to be repeated, and that the repeating was done because multiple texts were used in translation. Some people think that the lists were actually in the margins of the text before translation and were accidentally included in the text upon translation. Something else I learned is the first six chapters were originally written in Aramaic and not Hebrew. I also didn’t know that Hebrew, as a spoken language, largely died out between 200 and 400 AD and is the only dead language to be successfully revived.

The other question I had was, “What was Daniel doing while all of this was going on with his friends?” I’ve thought about this before but never pursued the answer. However, after researching the question about the lists I realized something. Daniel couldn’t have been there when the idol was dedicated. One thing that we can glean from these lists of who was in attendance is that everyone who was everyone was there and required to bow down to the idol. We know from chapter two that Nebuchadnezzar had “made [Daniel] ruler over the entire province of Babylon” so one might think that he should have been there (Daniel 2:48 NIV). However, there’s no reason to believe that Daniel would have been there but not been forced to bow down like everyone else because of his position. Since Daniel wouldn’t allow himself to be defiled by eating the King’s food he wouldn’t have bowed down either. He would have been there with his friends, in the fire. Therefore, Daniel couldn’t have been there to do anything.

What I realized today is if I hadn’t pursued the question of the repeated verses and why they were repeated it wouldn’t have occurred to me that Daniel couldn’t have been there with his friends and why. It seems that one question had to be pursued before another question could be answered. This is where I see God’s timing come into play. I might have wanted to find a quick and direct answer to my first question when God wanted me to have a better understanding of my second question. Understanding that I wouldn’t have otherwise had.

Do you know God? God knows you and He loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, right now, and He wants you to know Him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so that we could be free of guilt, be freed from death, and live eternally with Him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.