One of the biggest mistakes the people of God made in the early years of faith was to believe that God’s presence and purposes were limited by geography and ethnicity. Initially people believed that gods were local, and that when two groups of people clashed, the victory of one group over the other demonstrated the superior power of their god. The Old Testament is full of such perspectives on events. Then, when the Temple was built, the people of Israel began to learn that God was the God of all the universe, but they still believed that God was, in some way, linked to the Temple.
So, when the Temple was destroyed and the people carried into exile, they thought that God had abandoned them, and that they no longer had access to God’s presence and power. The prophet Daniel, however, and many of the other prophets of that and later times, proclaimed a different view.
The king has a dream, and, in order to ensure he gets the correct interpretation, insists that his wise men tell him what the dream was before they explain it. When
they can’t do it, he orders their execution. But Daniel, the exiled Hebrew, manages to save himself and the others by fulfilling the king’s request. If God’s people were in doubt of God’s presence, this story would have encouraged them in their faith. But it would also have expanded their view of God, because in this story it is a pagan king who hears God speak through his dream, and who recognizes the significance of what he has seen and heard.
Once again the Scriptures invite us to celebrate a God who embraces all and works through all. Notice how concerned Daniel is, not just for his own well being, but that of his Gentile colleagues. This is a Christlike attitude of love.
Today, find ways to celebrate the God who will not be contained in our categories.
When we offer our praise to God, we are opening ourselves to new understandings of God’s nature and purpose. Today, allow your praise to expand your faith and allow you to recognize that God is not limited by human categories.
I praise you, O God, for your love and presence which fills all and embraces all.