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DANIEL, GOD'S MAN IN THE FIELD (PART III)
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
16 JULY 1989
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
Preparation Verse: (Ephesians 6:12)
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
As we have been seeing in our series on Daniel, God's man in the field, he is totally sold out for God, which includes living in the heavenly will of God.
He does not go along with the ways of the world, no matter how much pressure is brought upon him.
Daniel doesn't act one way in the presence of some people, and then go out and act another way in front of others.
He was not a hypocrite.
And this is the reason that God looked favorably upon Daniel.
If any of us ever wonder why things in our lives aren't favorable to us, then we should take a very serious look at our lives in relation to God, and if we see ourselves as hypocrites, then we should repent and strive to live in God's heavenly will.
If our repentance is sincere, then we also will begin to see favorable things happening in our lives, as they did with Daniel.
Every time Daniel asked something of God, he praised Him and thanked Him, and then he did it again after the Lord answered him.
And most importantly, Daniel only asked God for things that were in His heavenly will, and that would bring glory to the Lord through his life and the lives of his friends.
One of these times was where we left off last week, when Daniel was seeking the answer to, and the meaning of, Nebuchadnezzar's dreams.
Once Daniel had received the answer, and thanked and praised the Lord, he immediately took action.
Let's pick up our study in chapter 2, verse 24 of Daniel:
24. Therefore, Daniel went in to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to destroy the wise men of Babylon; he went and spoke to him as follows: "Do not destroy the wise men of Babylon! Take me into the king's presence, and I will declare the interpretation to the king."
Daniel isn't speaking as one condemned to death. He is speaking with authority.
He knows that God has given him the answer, and he is responding in the power of God.
Not too many weeks ago, we talked a great deal about living in the power of the Holy Spirit; but have we been doing that, as is the case with Daniel?
He even speaks favorably for the wise men – that they not be destroyed – a favor they will not return, as we shall see in our future studies.
But at the same time he is protecting his friends, and his command is received.
25. Then Arioch hurriedly brought Daniel into the king's presence and spoke to him as follows: "1 have found a man among the exiles from Judah who can make the interpretation known to the king!"
Arioch didn't find Daniel, Daniel went to him; but in speaking as he did, Arioch was seeking credit before the king.
Church, listen to the examples of both godly and ungodly living being set before us.
Listen carefully and profit from it.
Do we always give credit where credit is due, or do we seek the glory due to others for ourselves as did Arioch?
Listen now to the conversation between Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar, and see and hear the difference:
26. The king answered and said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, "Are you able to make known to me the dream which I have seen and its interpretation?"
27. Daniel answered before the king and said, "As for the mystery about which the king has inquired, neither wise men, conjurers, magicians, nor diviners are able to declare it to the king.
28. "However, there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will take place in the latter days. This was your dream and the visions in your mind while on your bed.
God will be glorified in spite of the nonbelievers around us, and as we shall see, some of them will repent and come to the saving grace of God.
If Daniel had not been sure of his position with God, that God had indeed given him the answers, and thus didn't act with the assurance of his conviction, he never would have been given an opportunity to come before the king this second time.
We, in this country, are blessed to hear the truth about Jesus Christ almost every day, and the fact that He died to save us from our sins; yet at the same time we are afraid to tell the good news to others.
We seem afraid to tell the world that we all must repent and seek God's forgiveness.
And we are afraid to live the life we know to be true, and bring forth the fruit which is the evidence of our faith, because some ungodly person might make fun of us.
We seem to be afraid to live as the loving, compassionate, and peacemaking children of God we are called to be for the benefit of the whole of creation.
We seem to be more afraid of an ungodly person who is on the road to hell, than we are of hell itself and of our God who might just send us there if we don't turn from our evil ways.
We are so sloppy in our faith that we think we don't even have to read our Bibles and that we will receive His wisdom in some mysterious way; but we only make fools of ourselves before others.
Then we have the audacity to come before the Lord and question Him as to why we don't receive His blessings.
Learn from the example of Daniel.
Then Daniel, in the power and confidence of the Holy Spirit, tells the king about his dream and what will take place in the future; not only what will take place in the near future, but also in a future that is yet to come.
29. "As for you, O king, while on your bed your thoughts turned to what would take place in the future; and He who reveals mysteries has made known to you what will take place.
30. "But as for me, this mystery has not been revealed to me for any wisdom residing in me more than in any other living man, but for the purpose of making the interpretation known to the king, and that you may understand the thoughts of your mind.
Once again note that Daniel gives all the credit to the Lord and, specifically, he wants Nebuchadnezzar to know that the message he is delivering is directly from God, our only true God, and not from any man.
31. "You, O king, were looking and behold, there was a single great statue; that statue, which was large and of extraordinary splendor, was standing in front of you, and its appearance was awesome.
32. "The head of that statue was made of fine gold, its breast and its arms of silver, its belly and its thighs of bronze,
33. its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay.
34. "You continued looking until a stone was cut out without hands, and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay, and crushed them.
35. "Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were crushed all at the same time, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away so that not a trace of them was found. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.
By this time Nebuchadnezzar had relived his dream through the words of the Lord delivered by Daniel.
He also must have realized that Daniel was indeed speaking with the power of God, for even as his own wise men had said, no earthly power could know such things.
Daniel spoke of the statue in a way that would relate to the idols that Nebuchadnezzar had in his land.
And while the statue was made mostly of metal, as were the idols of the land, this particular one was unstable, for it was top-heavy and weak in its feet.
Gold is heavier than silver, which is heavier than bronze, which is heavier than iron; and the iron and clay of which the feet are made can be easily broken, for they are brittle.
No faith built on the so-called wisdom of man can stand.
Only that which is built on the word and heavenly will of God will stand.
All false teachings and beliefs will be broken down and crushed and be blown away by the wind and be forgotten.
And this includes everything that is built upon injustice, corruption, greed, and indifference to the suffering of others, whether they be humans or animals.
But that which is of the Lord will last forever, in spite of everything that man can do.
And the Rock which will destroy all falseness is Jesus Christ.
Place yourself in Nebuchadnezzar's shoes. Feel and understand what he must be feeling.
That dream must have terrified him, in order to have had such an effect on his being; and that, coupled with the vivid and completely accurate description of what Daniel is telling him, has left him speechless, so that Daniel goes directly into the interpretation:
36. "This was the dream; now we shall tell its interpretation before the king.
Did you hear that plural pronoun, "we"?
Who do you think that "we" is?
We have no indication that Daniel's three friends were with him; thus it could very likely refer to God's presence with Daniel, and Daniel wants to remind the king of this fact.
37. "You, O king, are the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, the strength, and the glory;
38. and wherever the sons of men dwell, or the beasts of the field, or the birds of the sky, He has given them into your hand and has caused you to rule over them all. You are the head of gold.
This is a reminder to Nebuchadnezzar from God, that he has not done anything on his own that God didn't allow or ordain to happen.
None of Nebuchadnezzar's own abilities or his idols or his wise men had anything to do with his success.
God is reminding Nebuchadnezzar of his prideful state and the evilness of it.
And we should remember this for our own lives, as well; for all our prideful works will one day come to an end.
39. "And after you there will arise another kingdom inferior to you, then another third kingdom of bronze, which will rule over all the earth.
Strength does not mean that we can retain our power, and the fact that a weaker kingdom will overpower his land is a further reminder that God is in control, and not man.
At this time we are not told much about these second and third kingdoms, but they are the Mede and Persian empire and the Greek empire of Alexander.
40. "Then there will be a fourth kingdom as strong as iron; inasmuch as iron crushes and shatters all things, so, like iron that breaks in pieces, it will crush and break all these in pieces.
This fourth kingdom, which is the Roman empire, will also rule the world and crush all other kingdoms of the world; but even their great power will come to an end.
41. "And in that you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter's clay and partly of iron, it will be a divided kingdom; but it will have in it the toughness of iron, inasmuch as you saw the iron mixed with common clay.
42. "And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of pottery, so some of the kingdom will be strong and part of it will be brittle.
43. "And in that you saw the iron mixed with common clay, they will combine with one another in the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, even as iron does not combine with pottery.
Here we begin to see a great time gap in the seemingly same prophetic message.
The kingdoms we saw in verses 39, 40, and 41 came and went just as Daniel's prophecy said; but in these last two verses, 42 and 43, we are being given a glimpse of things yet to come.
During the period just before the second coming of Jesus Christ, the Antichrist will come to power in what will be a power much like the Roman empire of the time of Christ's first coming.
And while verses 41-43 describe what happened to the first Roman empire, verses 42 and 43 also point to the second, which is confirmed by verse 44:
44. "And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever.
God's kingdom for man has yet to come, but when our Lord comes again, He will reign forever and ever.
Christian, this kind of prophetic message is to give us hope.
Christ will come again!
No power on earth can stand before Him.
Don't lose hope because of the evils of this world, and don't worry about the kingdoms that rise up. Jesus Christ will put an end to them all.
And most of all, beloved, don't become part of these worldly evils and kingdoms.
Wait upon our Lord.
And just in case there may have been some doubt on the part of Nebuchadnezzar, or with us, Daniel concludes this message with the assurance of the truthfulness of the message:
45. "Inasmuch as you saw that a stone was cut out of the mountain without hands and that it crushed the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold, the great God has made known to the king what will take place in the future; so the dream is true, and its interpretation is trustworthy."
God will redeem all who come to Him and will crush all who oppose Him.
God will reign forever and ever.
Trust in His word.
Live in His word in such a manner that others will know the truth of God’s heavenly will as well.
This is not a game; it is for real!
And it's time that we as a church make a stand for our Lord, and repent of our worldly ways.
Next week we will see the result of what happened to Daniel and his friends because they listened to God and stood fast upon His word.
If we make a stand as Daniel did, then we also will be blessed.
Mary, the mother of Jesus, had this hope and she stood firm; and as we heard in our New Testament lesson for this morning, Luke 1:30-33, she also was blessed and was given the same promise contained in this passage from Daniel:
30. And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.
31. "And behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.
32. "He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David;
33. and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and His kingdom will have no end."
Christ will come again!
Live like you believe it!