upset man August 10 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Daniel 3; Jeremiah 12:7-17; 19:14- 20:18

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Many Americans remember the children’s book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, written by Judith Viorst and published in 1972. In an adult version, imagine that your dog bites you, you run out of coffee, your beloved spouse leaves you, someone lies about you so that you lose your job, the mortgage company is repossessing your house, your car dies, and the big screen television quits all on the same day. As an American, you just might agree that you had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Does God care?

In today's Bible reading, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego (the three Jewish friends of Daniel, see chapter 1) and Jeremiah all experience their terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days. Daniel's friends are exiled in Babylon. They have recently been promoted from captives to administrators over the province of Babylon, but they have jealous enemies. When King Nebuchadnezzar, in his pride, builds a statue of gold ninety feet high and nine-foot wide as a tribute to himself (in response to Daniel's interpretation of his dream), they see their opportunity to make them look bad.

Nebuchadnezzar requires all the people in his kingdom to bow down to this image whenever music is played, but Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are faithful Jews who only worship the true God of heaven and earth. When they are identified as violators of the decree, they are brought before the king and given one last chance to bow to the image or be thrown into a fiery furnace. This would not be a hard choice for most people; they would make the compromise and preserve their lives. However, these Jews answer,

“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace
(Daniel 3:17-21, NIV).

This is definitely a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day! Are they burned up? No. They are thrown into the fiery furnace but are released from their bonds and miraculously protected by a spiritual being that many believe is a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ. God is with them in the fire, and He can be with you in the fires of your tribulations. When the men of God come back out, not a hair of their bodies is singed, and they do not even smell of smoke. They were miraculously protected. This causes Nebuchadnezzar to praise the God of heaven, for who else could deliver in such a way? God is able to deliver us, too, but if He chooses not to, He will help us bear our circumstances. This story of Daniel's three friends has a happy ending, and God is glorified.

While God is sovereignly working in Babylon, Jeremiah is still in Jerusalem having some terrible, horrible, no good very bad days of his own. He has been commissioned by God to deliver messages of judgment upon the nation of Judah and its surrounding nations and is, therefore, extremely unpopular with the people and leaders. By this time, Nebuchadnezzar has already raided Judah twice, carrying away the most prominent people and treasures, and yet Jeremiah is still telling the people that they will be destroyed unless they repent. The LORD has been patient with Judah for over 100 years, and the time of God’s long-suffering patience has just about ended.

The people do not like Jeremiah’s words. They deceive themselves into believing false prophets, who declare they will soon have deliverance, and that Babylon will return all the people and possessions which Nebuchadnezzar has taken. When Jeremiah speaks of further judgment and destruction, they want to shut him up—permanently. Time after time, however, God protects him and they fail. On a particular day, after completing a mission to preach to the city of Topheth, he returns to preach at the temple in Jerusalem.

When the priest Pashhur son of Immer, the chief officer in the temple of the LORD, heard Jeremiah prophesying these things, he had Jeremiah the prophet beaten and put in the stocks at the Upper Gate of Benjamin at the LORD's temple.

The next day, when Pashhur released him from the stocks, Jeremiah said to him, “The LORD's name for you is not Pashhur, but Magor-Missabib. For this is what the LORD says: ‘I will make you a terror to yourself and to all your friends; with your own eyes you will see them fall by the sword of their enemies. I will hand all Judah over to the king of Babylon, who will carry them away to Babylon or put them to the sword. I will hand over to their enemies all the wealth of this city-- all its products, all its valuables and all the treasures of the kings of Judah. They will take it away as plunder and carry it off to Babylon. And you, Pashhur, and all who live in your house will go into exile to Babylon. There you will die and be buried, you and all your friends to whom you have prophesied lies’” (Jeremiah 20:1-6, NIV).

As one might expect, Jeremiah is tired of being harassed and persecuted for being God’s messenger. In fact, he tries not to speak the words of the LORD, but His words are like fire within him—he cannot remain silent. He must do God’s bidding, even if he suffers hardships and shame. Our next lesson shows us one of the ways God tries to get Judah's attention.

Lessons to Live By

  • God is with believers through the fires of their tribulations. Are you a believer in God? He can give you forgiveness, spiritual life, and peace in your soul, even in times of trouble (more...)
  • God is Sovereign; He rules over all kingdoms and people.
  • God is able to deliver us, but if He chooses not to, He will help us bear our circumstances.

Focus Verse

1Peter 5:7 (NIV) “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

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A Look Ahead: In our Next Lesson we read the book of Joel and Learn From Natural Disasters.

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