This week, Jim McDonald led our reflection in church. If you were unable to join us, you will find the readings and his text below.
Daniel 10:4 – 19
Revelation 1:9 – 19
Daniel and John, short character studies, comparing and contrasting them.
2 old men (85+) living some 630 years apart, a long way far from home.
Both were given a majestic vision of the LORD and it is interesting to notice the similarities between them:-
- The clothes of the speaker: linen belt of fine gold; long robe with golden sash
- Feet: like burnished bronze; gleam like burnished bronze
- Eyes: like flaming torches; like flaming fire
- Voice: like sound of a multitude; like the roar of many waters
Daniel, whose name means GOD is My JUDGE, is by the river Tigris in the Persian Empire and John, whose name means GOD has been gracious is on the Greek Mediterranean Island of Patmos, part of the Roman Empire.
Daniel had been CAPTURED by Nebuchadnezzar in BC 605 and EXILED to live in Babylon where he had been exhaustively trained, along with other young men for Royal service. Throughout his long life he maintained his integrity and relationship with God in the heathen Court. He would know that Jerusalem had been sacked in 587, interpreted the dreams of Nebuchadnezzar, seen at first hand the fall of the Babylonian Empire under Belshazzer , thrown into the lion’s den under Darius on account of his daily practice of praying to God in heaven, rather than to an earthly monarch, and now was living under Cyrus in 536 BC at the time of our reading.
Empires built through Military Conquest
John had been CALLED by another King, Jesus, from whom he heard the memorable words Mark 1:15 ‘The time has come, and the Kingdom of GOD is at hand, repent and believe in the Gospel.’ at the start of an intense 3 year period traversing Galilee and Judea. Along with James Peter witnessed at first hand the TRANSFIGURATION, many of his intimate friends had already been martyred, Jerusalem had been sacked in AD 70 under Vespasian and now under Domitian EXILED to Patmos in AD 95, for the testimony of Jesus Christ, being in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day (Rev. 1:9 & 10). We know John particularly through his Gospel and the words, ‘These things are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, and that by believing you might have life in his name.’(John20:31). He too had been in the Upper Room and listened to the Intercessory Prayer of Jesus in John 17:- For Himself; For the Disciples; For those who would believe through their witness.
Kingdom established through Heart Conquest
God still had a work for both Daniel and John to do, despite their advanced years. The commissioning came through their respective visions that have been read to us. Daniel, the start of his last vision (recorded in CH. 10 to 12); for John his first recorded vision. The profound impact of the heavenly messenger on both men was to leave them as dead men at the feet of the Messenger. Both experienced the revitalising TOUCH of the Angel / Jesus that gave their bodies the strength to continue as God’s witnesses and today we have the prophetic books that bear their names in the Bible. Daniel was assured that he was ‘Greatly loved by God’ (Dan. 10:11) and John describes himself as ‘the disciple who Jesus loved’ (John 13:23, 20:2; 21:7)
What an encouragement to know that God has still a work for each one of us, whatever our age. We may not immediately be ‘caused to sing a song’ when our lives are touched by God, but we can be assured that God will give us the strength to carry out his purpose through us.
We have thought how God TOUCHED the lives of Daniel and John and inspired them to record their experiences. God is still touching the lives of people today through his Word, the Bible and using people to bring about his purposes. I want to focus now on 3 distinct ministries, each of which seeks, in creative ways to make Jesus and his Gospel known.
Firstly the Slavic Gospel Association (SGA)
Peter Deyka grew up in the impoverished land of Belarus, and at the age of 15 was sent to America alone, to make the family’s fortune. While there, Peter discovered a far greater and lasting treasure when he was wonderfully converted to Christ. So began his desire to take the Gospel to his own Slavic people . (currently in Bulgaria; Central Asia and Far Eastern Russia; Hungary; Macedonia; Moldova; Poland; Romania; Serbia and Ukraine.)
Significant dates are 1934 the founding of SGA and 70 years ago, 1950 the UK arm of SGA is formed.
Our first story comes from the war torn land of Ukraine:
‘Where death reigned, now there is life!’ and concerns Denis Kuzmenko. He pastors the church of the Narrow Way and serves 2 other small congregations. His life story is a remarkable example of the power of the Gospel to deliver men and women from sin.
Denis’s story, he is married to Victoria and together they have 5 children
Another type of ministry that has proved to be effective in getting the Word across, especially in sensitive countries, is through Christian broadcasting.
‘God will keep me safe.’
Secondly, Asia Link, probably you remember a representative speaking about North Korea a few years ago in the Memorial Hall one Sunday. They work quietly in countries where either Buddhism, Islam or communism is strong. (currently Nepal; Myanmar; Laos; North Korea; the Middle East and the Central Asian Republics).
‘Word for the Warzone’ and
‘Reaching Japan’s Children’
Thirdly this comes from the latest edition of the SBS’s magazine Transform
Just as lockdown began in Scotland SBS took delivery of their new Publication of Mark’s Gospel. Beautifully illustrated to show contemporary life and designed to be an accessible read for those outside the church. “We believe these magazine style books can change lives.” Perhaps especially in times like these where people are searching for answers, for comfort, for hope amidst the storm.
I have 80 of these Gospels and believe that we could use them in 2 distinct ways:-
- Take a Copy as a gift from me today and pass it on to a friend or relative, be like Daniel and John communicating the Word to bring blessing to others. You can top up with another copy once you have done this.
- As a church we could offer a free copy, via our Newsletter, to anyone who asks to receive one.
Some churches are offering free Bibles in a similar way. I close with a story from Rev. Tommy MacNeil. His church is on the Island of Lewis at Stornaway.
‘Last week we received a contact from a lady who had heard about the offer of a free Bible and wanted one for herself. In reply having been given one she shared how she had drifted from God years ago , and hadn’t read a Bible for 13 years, but now had a fresh desire to read it.’
Praise His name!
We normally say the words of the Grace to each other. We say them now to whoever is with us, and to everyone we have thought about during this time of worship.
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all, now and evermore. Amen.
With thanks to John Dent, Jim McDonald, Ed Muirhead and Bill Mclean, for their contributions to our church service, plus the team who prepared the church for opening.