December 27

Daniel 1:7-8 (NIV) 7The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego. 8But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.

Daniel was one of the young men from the court of the king of Judah who was taken to be re-educated to serve as a eunuch for the king of Babylon. Daniel served the kings of Babylon and Medo-Persia as a government official until the return of the Jews, seventy years later.

One of the first things Babylon did was to try to change the identity of these men. Daniel means 'God is judge', but his new name means 'Bel will protect'. Hananiah means 'the LORD is gracious', but his new name is 'inspired of Aku'. Azariah means 'the LORD is my help', but his new name is 'servant of Nego'. Mishael means 'who is like God?', but his new name is 'belonging to Aku'. These incredible Hebrew names were changed to the names of idols! That is exactly what the world wants to do to you. A name meant the identity of the person, their destiny and heritage. It was a part of the program of Babylon to cause the youth to forsake their culture and beliefs and adopt those of Babylon.

Who are you in Christ? What is the name He has given you? Converts of the first century changed their names upon conversion to match with their new identity. In heaven, the overcomers will receive a white stone upon which is written their new name, an identity in God. Babylon was doing just the opposite. Can you see how the world would like to change your identity to one who belongs among them?

Consider: You will influence your world, or your world will influence you. Maintain your identity in Christ with firm resolve.

December 27

Revelation 5:4-6 (NIV) 4I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. 5Then one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals." 6Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.

John is caught up into heaven to witness an event that takes place in the timelessness of eternity. I can't tell you if it happened at the ascension or will happen at the end of this age or even if it is related to time as we know it. The important thing is that God has a scroll that unleashes the events that preclude the Day of the Lord. Someone had to be worthy to approach God and receive the scroll and open the seals. No man has ever been holy enough to approach God, until Jesus.

Why would John weep? Without the Day of the Lord, this world would go on in its fallen state with suffering and death. Only when a perfect Savior and conqueror of sin and death approached the throne could the events begin to unfold.

He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, and the Lamb of God. He looked as if he had been slain, or as one translator put it, "with the marks that caused His death." When we meet Jesus in the clouds we will see the same marks. They are there eternally as receipt of your redemption.

We are grateful for our salvation that was purchased by the death process that inflicted those scars, but we should also consider in gratitude the fact that His victory will one day set this earth free from the curse it is under. Suffering will cease. Death will be no more. It is no wonder that heaven is filled with praise to God and the Lamb.

Consider the marks that caused His death and all that they should mean to you.