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DANIEL, GOD'S MAN IN THE FIELD (PART X)
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
3 SEPTEMBER 1989
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
Preparation Verses: (Romans 12:1-2)
1. I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
2. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Last week, we left the Book of Daniel when Daniel was about to interpret the inscription that was written upon Belshazzar's palace wall.
And even though Belshazzar could not interpret the writing, he had great fear, for he knew that it was written against him.
His party time had run out.
We also left you with a challenge to see if you would answer the king in the same manner as Daniel is about to answer him.
Let's see, beginning with Daniel 5:17 –
17. Then Daniel answered and said before the king. "Keep your gifts for yourself, or give your rewards to someone else; however, I will read the inscription to the king and make the interpretation known to him.
Daniel is a true servant of the Lord. He is not interested in worldly gifts as a reward for doing what the Lord wants him to do.
God has given him the interpretation to give to the king, and that he will do.
It is the false prophets who always want gifts. And when you deal with false prophets, you begin to think that all prophets are interested in money; but there are some who are interested only in serving God, and in that there is eternal reward.
18. "O king, the Most High God granted sovereignty, grandeur, glory, and majesty to Nebuchadnezzar your father.
19. "And because of the grandeur which He bestowed on him, all the peoples, nations, and men of every language feared and trembled before him; whomever he wished he killed, and whomever he wished he spared alive; and whomever he wished he elevated, and whomever he wished he humbled.
20. "But when his heart was lifted up and his spirit became so proud that he behaved arrogantly, he was deposed from his royal throne, and his glory was taken away from him.
21. "He was also driven away from mankind, and his heart was made like that of beasts, and his dwelling place was with the wild donkeys. He was given grass to eat like cattle, and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven, until he recognized that the Most High God is ruler over the realm of mankind, and that He sets over it whomever He wishes.
Listen carefully to what is said here. Nebuchadnezzar had the power of life and death over his entire kingdom; and no matter how evil he was, if anyone opposed him, he would be killed.
God put Nebuchadnezzar in office, and He would have to remove him. No man was strong enough to do so.
And God did humble him.
Yet, as we said, Belshazzar knew all this, and Daniel is again reminding him, so that he is without excuse; for Belshazzar has not humbled himself before God, and in fact he became more arrogant.
Thus the word of God has come against him.
22. "Yet you, his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, even though you knew all this,
23. but you have exalted yourself against the Lord of heaven, and they have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines have been drinking wine from them; and you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which do not see, hear or understand. But the God in whose hand are your life-breath and your ways, you have not glorified.
Why is it that we all too often fail to realize the extent of the power that God has and that it can be used against us, as well as for us?
We think we are invincible, when in an instant, God could take away our very breath.
We are to humble ourselves before God; and the more authority we have, the more of a servant we are to be.
And if we do not behave this way, God will let us know his displeasure.
24. "Then the hand was sent from Him, and this inscription was written out.
25. "Now this is the inscription that was written out: 'MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.'
26. "This is the interpretation of the message: 'MENE' – God has numbered your kingdom and put an end to it.
27. " 'TEKEL' – you have been weighed on the scales and found deficient.
28. " 'PERES' [singular form, same root as upharsin] – your kingdom has been divided and given over to the Medes and Persians."
The judgment has been pronounced. It is too late to say, "I'm sorry!"
Don't ever let yourself drift so far from God that this could happen to you.
None of us really know how far we can drift before it's too late.
And remember that God has been less patient with Belshazzar, because he knew the truth from Nebuchadnezzar and was responsible for what he had been told.
We in this country have been told much more than Belshazzar, so I will leave it between you and God to determine when it is too late.
29. Then Belshazzar gave orders, and they clothed Daniel with purple and put a necklace of gold around his neck, and issued a proclamation concerning him that he now had authority as the third ruler in the kingdom.
There still seems to be no repentance at all, and in fact Belshazzar actually seems to be trying to buy his way out of this sentence from God – something he could never do.
30. That same night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was slain.
31. So Darius the Mede received the kingdom at about the age of sixty-two.
Daniel stood firm upon God’s word, and God removed Belshazzar from his throne.
What will happen under the new ruler Darius? Next week we will begin to see.
But before we go on, I want us to think about something that I just challenged you about: When God has had enough.
God created this world as a peaceful place with no death or suffering, just as it will be in heaven.
God also granted human beings to power to rule over His peaceful world and protect it from evil, yet we have failed miserably, just as Belshazzar did with his kingdom.
We have made war against our fellow human beings and the animals, and most of humanity has gorged themselves on the flesh of these animals, without any regard for their suffering, and without remorse, or regard for God's heavenly will.
And just because God gives us the power to rule, does not mean that He is happy with the way we go about it.
When do you think God will decide He's had enough?
The apostle Paul describes the type of relationship we are to have with rulers and governments, and how they got into power in the first place. Let's take a look at Romans, chapter 13, beginning with verse 1:
1. Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.
We are always to have a proper attitude toward the governing authorities, and to be subject to them in the will of God.
Since all authority exists according to the will of God, then it is only logical that the followers' existence is also subject to the will of God.
2. Therefore he who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.
3. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same;
4. for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath upon the one who practices evil.
The avenger of God will be against those evil persons in authority as well as those who oppose the authority.
And remember that there are always two authorities in play at the same time: God's authority, and human authority.
Have you noticed that Daniel never opposed the kings of Babylon directly?
He was always obedient to them.
Yet he never failed to deliver God's message.
And even those whom the message was against, praised him.
We must learn to leave wrath to God.
We must learn to live in love according to the will of God – even in the face of evil.
5. Wherefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience' sake.
6. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing.
If we are living according to God's will, and if the rulers turn from being servants of God, He will remove them.
We get corrupt rulers because we ourselves are corrupt.
And if we are corrupt, then God most likely will not remove the corrupt rulers.
Does this perhaps give you some explanation for the problems we are having
with our government?
7. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.
8. Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.
9. For this, "You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet," and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
10. Love does no wrong to a neighbor; love therefore is the fulfillment of the law.
And we can add that this kind of love does no harm to the animals, nor to the environment in which we all live.
True godly love will cover a multitude of sins and soothe the wrath of others.
But it is also nearing the time when it will be too late to make a change, as it was for Belshazzar.
11. And this do, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed.
Time does not stand still.
Hear this message!
12. The night is almost gone, and the day is at hand. Let us therefore lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
13. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy.
14. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.
The choice is ours.
We can live in the lusts of a Belshazzar, and die in our sins.
Or we can live in the piety of a Daniel, filled with the love of Jesus Christ, and live forever with the Lord.