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DANIEL, GOD'S MAN IN THE FIELD (PART XVII)
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
5 November 1989
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
1 Corinthians 11:28
Preparation: (1 Corinthians 11:28)
But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.
In our last sermon in this series about Daniel, God’s man in the field, we looked at a prophetic message from Daniel, chapter 8, that was confirmed by the New Testament.
We looked at what happens to nonbelievers, and we saw that there should be great hope and assurance for all believers and followers of Jesus Christ, for we shall always be with the Lord.
It’s because we truly believe that we desire to follow Jesus Christ and live in the will of God, that we have this assurance.
But how did Daniel get the interpretation of his vision and how did we get our view of the end times?
Today we are going to remind ourselves of how we get these answers and the answers to our other petitions, for we really should already know.
Let’s begin by going back to Daniel, chapter 8, and start with verse 15:
15. And it came about when I, Daniel, had seen the vision, that I sought to understand it; and behold, standing before me was one who looked like a man.
Note how Daniel begins to deal with his troubled spirit. He doesn’t go off
saying, “Woe is me! Woe is me!” Instead he sought to understand it.
And as he sought to understand it, there appeared before him one who looked like a man. Most of the time when we seek to understand something in our lives, there usually appears before us something that looks like a book.
So, what did Daniel do that we may learn from him?
16. And I heard the voice of a man between the banks of Ulai, and he called out and said, "Gabriel, give this man an understanding of the vision."
Daniel’s petition, which was obviously directed toward God, brought forth the answer through the angel Gabriel.
17. So he came near to where I was standing, and when he came I was frightened and fell on my face; but he said to me, "Son of man, understand that the vision pertains to the time of the end."
18. Now while he was talking with me, I sank into a deep sleep with my face to the ground; but he touched me and made me stand upright.
Yes, sometimes when we approach God for an answer, there may be some fear; but God will encourage us, as Gabriel is doing here with Daniel; but we still must respond, as Daniel does. We must stand on our own two feet, and then we will begin to understand the answers to our problems.
19. And he said, "Behold, I am going to let you know what will occur at the final period of the indignation, for it pertains to the appointed time of the end.
20. "The ram which you saw with the two horns represents the kings of Media and Persia.
21. "And the shaggy goat represents the kingdom of Greece, and the large horn that is between his eyes is the first king.
22. "And the broken horn and the four horns that arose in its place represent four kingdoms which will arise from his nation, although not with his power.
When I read the first part of chapter 8, it wasn’t the angel Gabriel that brought me the understanding. My understanding came from the Book that was before me – my Bible; and the Holy Spirit helped me understand it as He will with each and every one of you, if you truly desire to know the answer and are at least willing to open your Bible and read it.
From our prayerful reading we learn the difference between the will of God, and the things God reluctantly allows in this corrupt world, and what we have to do to overcome the corruption.
And as we continue to read and reread our Bibles, we get additional insight and understanding of all of life’s situations as well as those about our current problems, just as Daniel is here receiving from the angel Gabriel, as we continue to listen in on the conversation.
23. “And in the latter period of their rule,
When the transgressors have run their course,
A king will arise
Insolent and skilled in intrigue.
24. “And his power will be mighty, but not by his own power,
And he will destroy to an extraordinary degree
And prosper and perform his will;
He will destroy mighty men and the holy people.
25. “And through his shrewdness
He will cause deceit to succeed by his influence;
And he will magnify himself in his heart,
And he will destroy many while they are at ease.
He will even oppose the Prince of princes,
But he will be broken without human agency.
Did you hear what we were just told?
This evil ruler who will arise we know from history to be Antiochus; and from prophetic messages we also know him to be the future Antichrist who will himself destroy those who are at ease.
Do you know the identity of the people who are at ease today?
They are us, and people like us who are members of churches like ours all over the world and who are too weak and too timid and perhaps too lazy to seek the Lord and His word and submit our will to His, so that we might be protected from the evil that is around us and which is daily getting worse.
See, if we hold fast to God and His word, we will be delivered from the evil of Satan and his Antichrist, for we will not fall into the traps set before us and we will not listen to the falseness of what they or their followers tell us.
And don’t discount this evil power, for as we are told, this arrogance will even lift itself up to the extent that it will oppose the Prince of princes, Jesus Christ.
26. "And the vision of the evenings and mornings
Which has been told is true;
But keep the vision secret,
For it pertains to many days in the future."
This message may still pertain to many days in the future, but whenever that
date may be, it is much closer than it was when this prophecy was given. And I
personally believe that it is not too many more days in the future.
27. Then I, Daniel, was exhausted and sick for days. Then I got up again and carried on the king's business; but I was astounded at the vision, and there was none to explain it.
It is not uncommon for any of us to get sick when faced with a stressful situation. We most often will get through the tough moments, only to get sick when it is all over.
And what made it hard for Daniel is that even though Gabriel did explain the
vision to him in broad terms, and he understood that it would indeed take place,
he nevertheless had no other person to discuss it with, for they couldn't have
understood it either.
There was much more that Daniel wanted to know, but he had to just rest upon his faith in God, just as each of us has to do today. And God’s word will comfort and strengthen us until the answer or the end comes.
Daniel wasn’t the only person that the angel Gabriel appeared to. He also appeared to Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist.
Let's take a look at Zacharias' encounter with the angel of God and the circumstances surrounding it, as we look at Luke 1:5ff.
5. In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.
6. And they were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord.
7. And they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in years.
Do you notice the similarity in the character of Daniel with that of
Zacharias and Elizabeth? They all were righteous before the Lord.
This is also a point that we should question in our own lives, if we are not getting answers to our prayers and petitions. Perhaps our walk is not as God desires it to be.
And even with all her righteousness, Elizabeth could have no children. To have children was considered to be a blessing from God.
Why wasn't this couple being blessed?
They were being blessed; but as for children, they had to wait for God’s timing. But they continued praying and serving the Lord.
8. Now it came about, while he was performing his priestly service before God in the appointed order of his division,
9. according to the custom of the priestly office, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense.
Here we see part of the blessing of God. The priest was permitted into the Holy of Holies to burn incense before the Lord only once a year, and only one priest went in, and this time it was Zacharias.
10. And the whole multitude of the people were in prayer outside at the hour of the incense offering.
11. And an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense.
12. And Zacharias was troubled when he saw him, and fear gripped him.
I find it interesting, and also consistent, that both Daniel and Zacharias had the same reaction in the presence of the angel. Just because you may fear that you may get an answer is no reason not to seek the Lord. The Lord will strengthen us just as he did with Daniel and as He is about to do with Zacharias.
13. But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John.
14. "And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.
15. "For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and he will drink no wine or liquor; and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, while yet in his mother's womb.
16. "And he will turn back many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God.
17. "And it is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous; so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."
What a promise!
What an answer to Zacharias' petition!
Not only are Elizabeth and Zacharias being blessed with a son, but through their son they will receive additional blessings.
It's important that we see something else about our lifestyle in relation to the way in which God will work with us, and also the effectiveness of that work.
We are told here that John will drink no wine or liquor, and that he will be
filled with the Holy Spirit before birth. The wine and liquor, even a little
bit, will so cloud our minds that we will be unable to clearly hear all that the
Holy Spirit is telling us.
The drinking of wine and liquor does not prevent our salvation, but it is one of the reasons that we feel that the Lord doesn’t answer our prayers, or that we have more troubles than we feel we should have; and it is also why others don’t necessarily believe our testimony, as they did John’s.
I know that this is true, and my ministry before you is part of that proof.
And all too often, we doubt the full truth of the matter, as happened with Zacharias:
18. And Zacharias said to the angel, "How shall I know this for certain? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years."
19. And the angel answered and said to him, "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God; and I have been sent to speak to you, and to bring you this good news.
20. "And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which shall be fulfilled in their proper time."
Doubting God's word is just as much a sin as any other.
We all seem to seek God's blessing, yet when we don’t receive it, or instead get additional problems, we had best honest1y examine our own lives and see if we are truly living as God wants us to live; and if not, then we must first correct that problem, and then return to the Lord.
Isn’t this the same caution we are given as we come to the Lord’s Table?
As we learn to accept God’s correction, and perhaps His punishment, along
with His blessings, we will find that we will receive even greater blessings.
21. And the people were waiting for Zacharias, and were wondering at his delay in the temple.
If the priest approached God in an unholy manner, he would most likely die; and the people were wondering about this. They knew that Zacharias was a holy man, but they also knew that he was a human being like themselves, and perhaps he had done something wrong. Thus, they were wondering.
22. But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them; and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple; and he kept making signs to them, and remained mute.
23. And it came about, when the days of his priestly service were ended, that he went back home.
And the message from the Lord through the angel Gabriel was fulfilled.
Will our petitions be fulfilled this day?
If our heart attitude toward God is correct, I believe they will.