But I have heard of you, that you can make interpretations and solve knotty problems.Dan 5:15a
Daniel – a Problem Solver
The verse is taken from the story of Daniel. Belshazzar was not able to interpret the writing on the wall, and thus called Daniel.
Daniel, at that time a rather young lad, had already accumulated some accolade as a problem solver. Daniel was an interesting person. Of noble heritage, he had been abducted from Jerusalem and brought to the palace of Babylon. There he got a great education and ended up leading the wise man of Babylon. He had refused to eat meat from the king’s table, but was OK with his new name after a Babylonian god, and his title as chief wizard, sorcerer, and warlock. Interesting choice.
But what’s far more interesting: Daniel did not have the Holy Spirit within. Still, he was known as the problem solver of the day, while we are more looked at as the prohibitors, old-fogyish and unprogressive.
I think it is not about becoming vegetarians—Paul tells us that the weak in faith don’t eat meat because it might have been offered to the gods. Imagine what Daniel could have done if he had eaten meat. (Just kidding.) It’s a little more about us shying back from names like sorcerer. It is not sorcerer any more, but we are so reluctant to participate in new technology and development. First it was hellevision for TV, now the internet is of the devil, and in some places simple things like drums.
We as Christians seem backward oriented in so many things, and it seems so hard to move us into the new—even for God.
Signs and our Reactions
There are those shadows in the old testament that show us a trinity of things to happen: the three rooms in the tabernacle and the temple, the three layers of the priestly clothes, and the three feast seasons. They all portray a three stage journey for Christians individually as well as corporately.
But just like the pharisees of old, we have become guardians of the status quo, and even worse, leaders to the past. We mourn the good old days when our nations were Christian, the morals the masses attended to were biblical. As if following outward rules would at any time suffice to save us. It did not in the old covenant apart from the few that realised that the rules were not a means to itself, but a guide to the one giving life. Think David, who broke almost every single rule of the law, but was a man after God’s heart. He forestalled, antedated the new covenant of grace.
We have both globally and individually experienced easter. Our sins were forgiven and we were restored to God. Some of us have experienced pentecost individually, and in the early 1900, we did globally. And this is our state-of-the-art. One would think.
But we want to lead the people back even before those two feasts. We want to solve problems through regulation. As if that were to change things around.
But I have written about this. Let’s dig deeper.
Leading the People
In our easter experience, we have been satisfied to make believers. Jesus told us that we should make disciples. The difference? A disciple, that is a student, has an inner desire, push, impetus, impulse to know and become more. We think discipline and want to lead them under the law agin, though. But pentecost gave us the tools to go deeper, connecting us with the teacher Jesus by giving us a personal pedagogue to lead us, the Holy Spirit. He has given us the elite university called the church, with the greatest fraternity called the company of the firstborns.
And we ever so often turn it into a social club, where performance is more important than knowledge and relationship. Think sports instead of intellectual achievement as an analogy.
But as a true disciple, at some point I want to graduate. There is a third level. Jesus said that nobody can be greater than his master, but that we can be like the master. A master is a teacher, a father. A disciple becoming a master.
Avid readers of this blog know that adoption in the old times, at least in the middle east, was the rite to pronounce a male child as son. In that, the son earned the right to speak in the name of the father, to lead the father’s business, to partner with him, and in the eyes of others earned the same trust as the father.
In my last blog entry, I spoke of creation eagerly awaiting the revelation of the sons of God. The graduation of Jesus’ disciples. Something Paul was looking forward to. The last feast season: tabernacles.
Interpretation of the Future
God tells us that he wants to restore everything. We interpret this as the restoration of what was when Jesus was here. Restoring what the first church had.
God wants to restore much more. He wants to restore what we were to be in the first place. That not only is the state of being as it was in paradise, in the garden. It is the restoration of the potential that the garden held.
God wants to restore the potential that the garden held.
And of course he wants us to experience and walk out the fullness of that potential.
We cannot do that if we see the church as too weak to deal with the problems of this earth. We were put in charge of the earth to guard it and develop it. God entrusted us with the world. We brought the problems into the world, and we are going to solve them.
Creation eagerly awaits the revelation of the sons of God so it can come into the freedom of the children of God.
But we believe that we will leave this earth the moment it gets really dark and leave it to God to deal with it. He dealt with it when he said: it is finished. By making us a new creation. Potential sons of God.
In easter we are born anew. We become toddlers, little children that are very dependant.
In pentecost we become teenagers. We have the tools to grow and learn, now we have to learn to use them. The Greek term: teknon, technically a son. Potentially a son.
In tabernacles we become mature sons that partner with God. He told us that he will never leave us nor forsake us. Even though he did his part, we do ours together with him, but not leave it up to him.
Becoming Problem Solvers again
How do we become problem solvers again? It is my goal that the world talks about us just as Belshazzar did about Daniel.
First, we have to believe that we are. But that only is the first step.
We then have to define what problems we are to solve.
At the moment, a great part of Christianity sees the solution in solving but one problem: get everybody to heaven. The problem is defined in the question where one will spend eternity.
That certainly is the great and eternal question. And it is beautifully ambiguous.
Do I spend eternity with God or far from him—heaven or hell, as vernacular puts it.
But in it, there is this second layer: where will heaven be? When I spend eternity with God, where will that be?
Revelation shows us that this will be on a renewed earth. Renewed? Will Jesus come and in an instant—or within 7 or a thousand years—destroy the old and make the new? Or did we just establish that we are going to do this with him?
And suddenly, the range of problems to be solved widens, including daily problems on any scale, just as with Daniel. He solved the imminent problems of the kings he served.
Let me name a few of the problems that come to mind also:
People will listen if we solve their problems. Let’s find answers.
Do you have some?