We are investing more time and energy to make sure that as a church we are helping people to go and make disciples. Here are a few of the things that we have been working on recently:
We have changed the name of our disciplemaking groups from Life Transformation Groups to D-Groups.
We have significantly updated/improved the material in the D-Group manual. Now there is a much stronger emphasis on each person being in the Word during the week and coming to the weekly gathering ready to share what they have been learning.
Now we have a pastor (Glenn Walker) who is going to oversee the entire process and make sure that it becomes a vibrant part of our church. This is really a key in my opinion. Hoping that a disciple making culture takes root organically is a nice idea, but I don’t think it is realistic.
We will be creating training videos for D-Group leaders.
We had a meeting this past Sunday and took about an hour to explain the importance of each Christian taking the Great Commission seriously and how we can equip them to do so.
HERE is the D-Group manual. Lots of time, energy, and revisions have gone into it.
I would love to hear how you are raising up disciples who will go and make disciples. You can leave a message here or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Seriously, I would love to hear from you!
Do you remember the band from the 1980’s, REM? I do. They had a song called “It’s The End Of The World” and it goes on to say, “and I feel fine.” Tragically, for many people when the end of the world comes they won’t feel fine. This is not just a pastor overstating something for dramatic effect, it is the sobering truth.
Read passage: Daniel 7
15 “As for me, Daniel, my spirit within me was anxious, and the visions of my head alarmed me. 16 I approached one of those who stood there and asked him the truth concerning all this. So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of the things. 17 ‘These four great beasts are four kings who shall arise out of the earth. 18 But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, forever and ever.’
19 “Then I desired to know the truth about the fourth beast, which was different from all the rest, exceedingly terrifying, with its teeth of iron and claws of bronze, and which devoured and broke in pieces and stamped what was left with its feet, 20 and about the ten horns that were on its head, and the other horn that came up and before which three of them fell, the horn that had eyes and a mouth that spoke great things, and that seemed greater than its companions. 21 As I looked, this horn made war with the saints and prevailed over them, 22 until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints possessed the kingdom.
23 “Thus he said: ‘As for the fourth beast,
there shall be a fourth kingdom on earth,
which shall be different from all the kingdoms,
and it shall devour the whole earth,
and trample it down, and break it to pieces.
24 As for the ten horns,
out of this kingdom ten kings shall arise,
and another shall arise after them;
he shall be different from the former ones,
and shall put down three kings.
25 He shall speak words against the Most High,
and shall wear out the saints of the Most High,
and shall think to change the times and the law;
and they shall be given into his hand
for a time, times, and half a time.
26 But the court shall sit in judgment,
and his dominion shall be taken away,
to be consumed and destroyed to the end.
27 And the kingdom and the dominion
and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven
shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High;
his kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom,
and all dominions shall serve and obey him.’
28 “Here is the end of the matter. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts greatly alarmed me, and my color changed, but I kept the matter in my heart.”
There are 4 beasts which represent different empires and rulers
The four empires, in chronological order:
Babylon: Having it’s wings torn off is most likely a reference to when King Nebuchadnezzar was humbled because of his great pride.
Medo-Persia: Being raised up on one side is most likely a reference to the fact that the Persians were more powerful than the Medes.
Greece: Their speed of attack was like a leopard, they had no rival. The four heads pointed to the fact that Greece’s Empire would be divided under 4 different leaders.
Rome: The fourth kingdom. The ten heads are leaders that would appear in the future. The eleventh head is a reference to the Antichrist.
Daniel’s response is that he was greatly troubled by all that God revealed to him.
The Ancient of Days takes his seat
Verses 9-10 mentions one of my favorite names for God, the Ancient of Days. This is a reference to God the Father.
His clothing was white like snow communicates his holiness.
His throne of flaming fire, and a river of fire flowing from his presence speaks of the fact that he will bring judgment. A topic that many churches fail to speak of, but nonetheless it is a part of the Word of God.
Books were opened. In Revelation 20:15 we learn that this is the Book of Life, also called the Lamb’s Book of Life. All those whose name is not in the book of life will be thrown into the lake of fire.
The beasts are judged and the 4th beast is destroyed
We see Daniel 7 unfolding in the future in Revelation 19.
17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, “Come, gather for the great supper of God, 18 to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great.” 19 And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. 20 And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. 21 And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and mall the birds were gorged with their flesh.
The kingdom is given to the Son of Man
The Son of Man is a reference to Jesus Christ. This is a name that Jesus frequently used to describe himself. Jesus took the title from the book of Daniel. Son of Man means a number of different things: 1) it means that Jesus is human 2) it means that Jesus is divine 3) it means that he is coming back one day in the clouds.
Matthew 24:30, speaking of Christ’s return says this, “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven.”
The context of this passage leads us to believe that this will be a literal, earthly reign of Jesus on earth
How are we to respond to all of this?
We need to be on guard against merely attaining head knowledge. The main goal of this passage is not meant to give you the tools by which you can draw up a cool chart of the end times. The goal of this passage is to get you to live differently in light of the return of Jesus!
We need to be ready for spiritual warfare. We are living right now in a Babylonian culture. The devil and his other fallen angels are real and they want to stop and destroy us. Are you praying? Are you in the Word of God? Are you fighting a spiritual battle or have you been distracted by civilian pursuits (culture war)?
We need to make sure that our life reflects the awesome glory of God. We should be holy as God is holy. Is your life being transformed into the image of God? We should be living every day life with a sense of urgency. Does the thought of the Second Coming of Jesus cause us to live differently? Do you have a passion for the lost?
We need to be assured that Jesus wins! In the end, the battle between Jesus and the Antichrist is really not much of a fight. It is the breath of Jesus that overpowers the Antichrist. Fully showing the awesome power of Jesus.
“And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming.” -2 Thessalonians 2:8
“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” -Dietrich Bonhoeffer
The evil one wants to use the Babylonian culture that we are immersed in every single moment of the day to lead us to compromise our faith so that we are no longer a threat to him. That is exactly what the devil was trying to do in Daniel 6
Read Passage: Daniel 6:1-24
1 It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 satraps, to be throughout the whole kingdom; 2 and over them three high officials, of whom Daniel was one, to whom these satraps should give account, so that the king might suffer no loss. 3 Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. 4 Then the high officials and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him. 5 Then these men said, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.”
6 Then these high officials and satraps came by agreement to the king and said to him, “O King Darius, live forever! 7 All the high officials of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an injunction, that whoever makes petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions. 8 Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, which cannot be revoked.” 9 Therefore King Darius signed the document and injunction.
10 When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously. 11 Then these men came by agreement and found Daniel making petition and plea before his God. 12 Then they came near and said before the king, concerning the injunction, “O king! Did you not sign an injunction, that anyone who makes petition to any god or man within thirty days except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions?” The king answered and said, “The thing stands fast, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be revoked.” 13 Then they answered and said before the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or the injunction you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day.”
14 Then the king, when he heard these words, was much distressed and set his mind to deliver Daniel. And he labored till the sun went down to rescue him. 15 Then these men came by agreement to the king and said to the king, “Know, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no injunction or ordinance that the king establishes can be changed.”
16 Then the king commanded, and Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions. The king declared2 to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!” 17 And a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet and with the signet of his lords, that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel. 18 Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; no diversions were brought to him, and sleep fled from him.
19 Then, at break of day, the king arose and went in haste to the den of lions. 20 As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” 21 Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! 22 My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.” 23 Then the king was exceedingly glad, and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. 24 And the king commanded, and those men who had maliciously accused Daniel were brought and cast into the den of lions—they, their children, and their wives. And before they reached the bottom of the den, the lions overpowered them and broke all their bones in pieces.
We want to follow Jesus and stay comfortable at the same time
Let’s take a moment to recall an earlier story in the book of Daniel. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were thrown into a fiery furnace because they refused to bow down to an idol. Their commitment to God on full display. Regardless of how others interpret this passage they did not know for certain that God was going to keep they from being burned to death. They went to the furnace because they could not fathom the idea of rejecting God and worshipping another a false god.
In chapter 7 we find the same kind of radical faith in the life of Daniel.
Think about this for a moment, Daniel would rather be eaten by lions than stop praying. Prayer is a primary characteristic of a committed follower of Jesus Christ.
In Matthew 16:24 we hear these words from Jesus, “24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
What might the cost of discipleship look like today?
We can quickly find the answers to that question in Daniel 7.
Radical commitment to God. Daniel is an older man at this point in time. He might be nearly 90 years old. Daniel has been tempted with great power and money. He has also had his life threatened. In every situation Daniel is committed to God and walks according to the truths found in Scripture. Comfortable Christianity is not Christianity. Jesus is calling us to die to ourselves and to follow him. What is your faith costing you these days? What sacrifices are you making for King Jesus?
Prayerful. The other leaders in the Medo-Persian Empire were obviously jealous of Daniel. Daniel was the favorite of the king and for good reason. Daniel was filled with the Holy Spirit and he always sought to be obedient to God. The other leaders are jealous of Daniel so they manipulate Darius so that they can move into positions of greater power. Daniel shows us just how committed he is to prayer in this story. Is there any wonder where his strength comes from? It comes from seeking God continually through prayer. I believe that God is calling all of us to become serious about prayer. If we hope to see great things happen in our church and the six counties all around us we simply must become Christians that are serious about prayer. We now meet 2 times every month for corporate prayer. Will you join us?
Grateful. Verse 10 tells us that Daniel was grateful to God. Really? Grateful? As far as we know Daniel had never married and did not have kids. He is 90 years old and he is on the verge of being fed to the lions. What did Daniel have to be grateful for? Daniel was grateful to God because he based his life on the Word of God and not his circumstances. If we look to our circumstances for happiness we will be on a miserable roller-coaster. Daniel knew that God was sovereign and that even in the chaos of life that God was working out his plan for the good for those who love him. Is you life characterized by gratitude? Are we good or bad advertisement for God? When people look closely at our life do they see joy?
Daniel had a theology of suffering. This is closely related to the last point. A theology of suffering means you know that suffering comes to the righteous and the unrighteous and that God can use it redemptively in our lives and for his glory. Without a solid, biblical understanding of suffering we will never find contentment or peace in this lifetime.
Integrity and personal holiness. Daniel’s enemies were looking hard for areas of sin in his life and they could not find any! Think about that for a moment. Would we come out so clean if we were so closely scrutinized? Do we want to experience the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives? We will need to confess and repent of our sins before the Spirit will work mightily in our lives. Are you struggling with any secret sin or strongholds? Will you make the life-changing decision to repent of your sin?
Live as salt and light. Our mission as a church is to make disciples who make disciples. Our vision is to be deeply rooted in the six counties all around us. The vision encourages us to see every day life as our mission field. Are we keeping our spiritual eyes open for the people that God is bringing into our lives?
How does this story point us to Jesus?
We already know that all of God’s Word points us to Jesus. We are incapable of living like a disciple without the life of Jesus in us.
Daniel was sent into a broken and wicked culture, so was Jesus.
Daniel lived with integrity, so did Jesus.
Daniel was unfairly accused, so was Jesus.
Daniel emerged from the lion’s den alive, Jesus emerged from the tomb alive.
Daniel is pointing us all to our daily, ongoing need for Jesus.
Introduction: American culture does not like to think about death
One of the things that people are most uncomfortable talking about is something that we all experience, death.
People used to die at home and everyone in their family had to deal with it. Now people die out of sight in a hospital.
Medicine makes us think that we will live forever.
At funerals we dress people up and put on makeup so that they actually look like they are still alive.
When I officiate a funeral I always warn people to take the opportunity to really think about the temporal nature of their life. The tendency is to drink some alcohol or run back to work. Try to forget about death.
Thinking about death now will give you the opportunity to live life fully awake and for the glory of God.
13 Then Daniel was brought in before the king. The king answered and said to Daniel, “You are that Daniel, one of the exiles of Judah, whom the king my father brought from Judah. 14 I have heard of you that the spirit of the gods is in you, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in you. 15 Now the wise men, the enchanters, have been brought in before me to read this writing and make known to me its interpretation, but they could not show the interpretation of the matter. 16 But I have heard that you can give interpretations and solve problems. Now if you can read the writing and make known to me its interpretation, you shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around your neck and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.”
17 Then Daniel answered and said before the king, “Let your gifts be for yourself, and give your rewards to another. Nevertheless, I will read the writing to the king and make known to him the interpretation. 18 O king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father kingship and greatness and glory and majesty. 19 And because of the greatness that he gave him, all peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him. Whom he would, he killed, and whom he would, he kept alive; whom he would, he raised up, and whom he would, he humbled. 20 But when his heart was lifted up and his spirit was hardened so that he dealt proudly, he was brought down from his kingly throne, and his glory was taken from him. 21 He was driven from among the children of mankind, and his mind was made like that of a beast, and his dwelling was with the wild donkeys. He was fed grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, until he knew that the Most High God rules the kingdom of mankind and sets over it whom he will. 22 And you his son,6 Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this, 23 but you have lifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven. And the vessels of his house have been brought in before you, and you and your lords, your wives, and your concubines have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see or hear or know, but the God in whose hand is your breath, and whose are all your ways, you have not honored.
24 “Then from his presence the hand was sent, and this writing was inscribed. 25 And this is the writing that was inscribed: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, and PARSIN. 26 This is the interpretation of the matter: MENE, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; 27 TEKEL, you have been weighed8 in the balances and found wanting; 28 PERES, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”9
29 Then Belshazzar gave the command, and Daniel was clothed with purple, a chain of gold was put around his neck, and a proclamation was made about him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.
30 That very night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was killed. 31 And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old.
We are all sinners
King Belshazzar was living it up. It was a lifestyle totally at odds with God. At this massive 1000 person party (some scholars think it was more like an orgy) Belshazzar was there getting drunk with his wives and his concubines. The king makes the terrible drunken decision to use the cups from the temple to drink his booze from. Instantly the hands appear and the writing goes up on the wall.
Get this. There is at this moment an army all round them. Yes, even while they are partying. This reminds us that our time just might be up at any time. Our days are short and they have been numbered.
Paul reminds us that we are all more like Belshazzar than we might want to admit. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” -Romans 3:23
Due to our sin there is judgment
God brought judgment against Belshazzar immediately. The writing on the wall was in Aramaic and the words were MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN. Daniel tell us what it means. Belshazzar’s days are over, he was weighed and he did not measure up, his kingdom was going to be taken from him that very night.
The Medo-Persian army killed him that very night and took over his Empire.
Reminds me of Matthew 24:36-39. The people in Noah’s day were partying and living it up. When their time was up, it was up. How about the people in your life? Do they know the infinite beauty and power of Jesus Christ? Have you forgotten that their days are numbered? Are you coasting spiritually when you need to be living with urgency because we don’t know our final day?
Use your few days wisely
Right before a battle Maximus said this to his soldiers, “What we do in life echoes for all eternity.” Whether you like Gladiator or not the quote is legit. How you live now matters for all of eternity. Does your life reflect this?
Think about Jim Elliott and his family. Went to Ecuador to bring the gospel to the people who lived there. Maybe you know what happened. The people he came to share the good news with murdered him. Did Jim waste his life? The answer is no.
Two years later his wife went back. Let that thought sink in for a moment. She went back to the same people that murdered her husband. This time the gospel was received and many people were saved.
We need to seek after Christ for our own well being with all of our might. Talk to him, know him, love with, walk with him. Is Jesus the burning center of your every day life?
Paul had some words for death, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through the Lord Jesus Christ. -1 Corinthians 15:56-57
Paul did not fear death. The reason is that he knew Jesus Christ had overcome death and sin through the cross. This is one of the main reasons Paul was so bold for the gospel. If death had been defeated what in the world do we have to be afraid of? There should be nothing that hinders us from sharing the good news with the lost of this world.
We need to work so that others know Jesus personally. Do you have a heart for the lost? I mean, seriously. Our hearts so quickly become cold and indifferent to the fact that there are people all around us headed for hell. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to be at work in us so that we care about the lost sons and daughters of God.
What would you say needs to change regarding the American church? How would you answer that question? I would like to make a strong biblical argument that what the American church needs the most is to repent of their sin and turn back to their first love.
Make no mistake about it, the primary problem for the Jews who were in exile in Babylon was that they had forgotten God and pursued after idols. God used the Babylonian Empire to bring judgment and hopefully to lead his people into repentance.
DA Carson, one of my professors from Trinity writes this, “People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.” Repentance is a gift from our holy God and we desperately need it.
Passage: Daniel 4
19 Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was dismayed for a while, and this thoughts alarmed him. The king answered and said, “Belteshazzar, let not the dream or the interpretation alarm you.” Belteshazzar answered and said, “My lord, may the dream be for those who hate you and its interpretation for your enemies! 20 The tree you saw, which grew and became strong, so that its top reached to heaven, and it was visible to the end of the whole earth, 21 whose leaves were beautiful and its fruit abundant, and in which was food for all, under which beasts of the field found shade, and in whose branches the birds of the heavens lived— 22 it is you, O king, who have grown and become strong. Your greatness has grown and reaches to heaven, and your dominion to the ends of the earth. 23 And because the king saw a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven and saying, ‘Chop down the tree and destroy it, but leave the stump of its roots in the earth, bound with a band of iron and bronze, in the tender grass of the field, and let him be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts of the field, till seven periods of time pass over him,’ 24 this is the interpretation, O king: It is a decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king, 25 that you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. You shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and you shall be wet with the dew of heaven, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will. 26 And as it was commanded to leave the stump of the roots of the tree, your kingdom shall be confirmed for you from the time that you know that Heaven rules. 27 Therefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to you: break off your sins by practicing righteousness, hand your iniquities by showing mercy to the oppressed, that there may perhaps be a lengthening of your prosperity.”
God’s sovereignty is meant to encourage believers living in a Babylonian culture
I believe this is one of the main themes in the book of Daniel. It would have been completely understandable if the Jews who were in exile to have wondered what in the world God was up to. Truth be known, they should have figured out after all the prophets had warned Israel that they were in exile because of their rebellion against God. The Israelites were slow to learn. They are a lot like you and me.
How is God’s sovereignty being revealed in Daniel 4? King Nebuchadnezzar was absolutely filled with pride. He was responsible for building two ancient wonders of the world, the hanging gardens and the walls of Babylon. Both were massive and absolutely amazing. Nebuchadnezzar was the single most powerful man on earth and this point in time. In one second Nebuchadnezzar goes from being the most powerful man in the world to being humbled by living as if he were an ox. This demonstration of power by God reminded the Jews that their God was in control at all times.
It is also a reminder for you and me today that even though the pandemic is still raging, the political world is broken, that God is still in control. We should not be a people of fear, worry and anxiety. When people look at us they should see people who are hopeful and filled with joy because our God is good and he rules over the entire universe.
God will disturb our comfortable life to lead us to repentance
Nebuchadnezzar had the good life. He had all the money, power and fame that a person could ever hope for. Then God speaks to the king through a dream. Daniel must be brought in to interpret the dream. Basically God was warning Nebuchadnezzar that he is going to lose everything if he does not repent. 12 months go by and the king does not take the Word of God seriously. Nebuchadnezzar is humbled and made to live like an ox for seven years.
This reminds me of the story in Luke 12 where Jesus warns people about living for temporary pleasures by talking about the rich fool. In verse 19 we read this: Soul, you have ample good laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays treasure up for himself and is not rich toward God.”
Are you pouring out your life for the good of others?
Are you tithing and giving generously?
How are you approaching retirement? The number one question you should be asking if you are thinking about retirement or if you are retired is this, how can I use these days for the good of others and for the glory of God?
God wants to use us in the lives of people who are in spiritual danger
God strategically placed Daniel in king Nebuchadnezzar’s life to point him to his great need for God. God has likewise placed each one of us where we are so that we can point people to Jesus.
Who are you reaching out to? Who are you discipling? (One of the most important questions Christians can ask and answer). Can we really say we are followers of Jesus if we are not obeying the Great Commission?
God’s people must be characterized by lives of deep worship
In verses 34-35 we find out how Nebuchadnezzar responds to his great humiliation.
34 At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; 35 all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and she does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?”
Nebuchadnezzar’s understanding of the power and greatness of God led him to worship God. I believe this reveals that the king finally God it and embraced Yahweh as the one true God.
What are you worshipping these days? Are you drawing closer to Jesus or would you say that you have spiritually plateaued? Let’s all recommit to seeking after Jesus with all of our heart.
What would spiritual renewal look like in your life? The reason I ask that question is because I believe it is much better for us to be thinking about our own need for spiritual renewal than complaining about the sinful condition of our Babylonian culture. Are you seeking after God with all of your heart? What is keeping you from doing so?
26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. 27 And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them. 28 Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside6 the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.” 30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.
The world is filled with idols that pull us away from God
In Greek mythology the Sirens were mythical creatures who would sing a seductive song that would lead sailors onto the rocks and the loss of their lives. There are no 90 foot images that the devil is asking us to bow down to today. There is a seductive Siren song playing in 2021 and far too many Christians are being rendered useless for the kingdom of God.
False idols that we worship today
-The American dream: The pursuit of comfort, pleasure, wealth, success. How many of us think much more about the American Dream than we do the kingdom of God?
-Hobbies. Have you ever talked to a person and their face lights up as they begin to talk about their favorite hobby? (sports, hunting, shopping, reading). But that is not the case when they talk about church or Jesus?
-Sex, pornography, romance. Massive problem for many Christians.
-Screens: What would happen if Christians spent as much time praying as they do looking at a screen? Is it safe to assume that we would see a new and powerful work of the Holy Spirit? We are being put to sleep and we need the Spirit to wake us up.
One of my favorite musicians is Keith Green. His song, “Asleep In The Light” explains the spiritual condition of many Christians in the church today. We have been slowly, methodically put to sleep by the evil one and we are not even aware of it.
Erwin Lutzer points out in his book, “The church in Babylon” that there were probably up to 10,000 Jews living in Babylon at the time of the events in Daniel 3. Which leads to this question, why weren’t there more Jews thrown into the furnace? Is it possible that they were saving their own skin by bowing down to Nebuchadnezzar’s false god? God is looking today for men and women who won’t bow down to the idols all around us.
How to deal biblically with the idols in our lives
One: Slow down and ask God to reveal to you what is going on in your heart. Kevin DeYoung writes this, “Busyness is like sin: kill it, or it will be killing you.” How many of us are completely unaware of what is going on in our heart because we rarely take the time to immerse our heart and mind in God’s presence? Without a doubt one of the main things that the Spirit is doing in my life these days is showing me how weak I am in prayer. I am beginning to spend longer amounts of time crying out to God to be at work in me, my marriage, family and church.
Two: Repent. Charles Spurgeon put it like this, “Another proof of the conquest of a soul for Christ will be found in real life change. If the man does not live differently from what he did before, both at home and abroad, his repentance needs to be repented of and his conversion is a fiction.” Have you confessed your sin or repented of it? They are not the same thing.
STRONGHOLDS: Here is another thing that God is revealing in my life. In 2 Corinthians 10:4 Paul writes this, “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” A stronghold in our life is a deeply entrenched area that we have surrendered to the devil. We have allowed it to put demonic hooks into us and we are often times not even aware of the damage that it is doing to us. Is there a stronghold in your life?
Three: Be ready for pain and a spiritual battle. These idols, these strongholds will fight back. We must be ready to pray our guts out for the Spirit to deliver us.
Four: Replace the idol with a greater love. This leads me to my last point.
We need to pursue God with a renewed passion
Tim Keller writes, “Jesus must become more beautiful to your imagination, more attractive to your heart than your idol. That is what will replace your counterfeit Gods. If you uproot the idol and fail to plant Christ in its place, the idol will grow back.”
Are you willing to begin seeking after Jesus with all of your heart? You have the world to gain and nothing to lose.
We took some time in a previous sermon to examine Jeremiah 29. In Jeremiah 29 we found clear instructions how the Jews should live while they were in exiles in Babylonian captivity. Yesterday we moved forward and started to discuss the dream that Nebuchadnezzar had in Daniel 2.
As we discuss this prophetic dream of Nebuchadnezzar I believe we need to be on guard against merely trying to understand the dreams and visions of the book of Daniel. Understanding is good, but God’s Word is never given just so that we can learn interesting facts. Daniel 2 is meant to give you a vision of who God is and in turn your response is to live for him and worship him.
31 “You saw, O king, and behold, a great image. This image, mighty and of exceeding brightness, stood before you, and its appearance was frightening. 32 The head of this image was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its middle and thighs of bronze, 33 its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. 34 As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. 35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became pa great mountain and filled the whole earth.
36 “This was the dream. Now we will tell the king its interpretation. 37 You, O king, the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, and the might, and the glory, 38 and into whose hand he has given, wherever they dwell, the children of man, the beasts of the field, and the birds of the heavens, making you rule over them all—you are the head of gold. 39 Another kingdom inferior to you shall arise after you, and yet a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth. 40 And there shall be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron, because iron breaks to pieces and shatters all things. And like iron that crushes, it shall break and crush all these. 41 And as you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, it shall be a divided kingdom, but some of the firmness of iron shall be in it, just as you saw iron mixed with the soft clay. 42 And as the toes of the feet were partly iron and partly clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly brittle. 43 As you saw the iron mixed with soft clay, so they will mix with one another in marriage,3 but they will not hold together, just as iron does not mix with clay. 44 And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up ca kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever, 45 just as you saw that fa stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold. A great God has made known to the king what shall be after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation sure.”
Retelling the story
1) Daniel and his friends are living in King Nebuchadnezzar’s court
2) The king has a dream with an image in it that he wants to understand
3) Nebuchadnezzar calls all of the wise men of the kingdom into his court and tells them that if they do not tell him what the image was and what it means he will dismember them and destroy their homes. BTW: The book of Daniel has so much to say when it comes to living as a Christian in the workplace.
4) The wise men don’t have the power to tell the king what he wants to know
5) Daniel tells the king’s guard that he can tell the king what he wants to know
6) Daniel and his friends meet together to pray
7) Daniel comes to the king and tells him the meaning of the dream
8) The king falls down on his face to praise Daniel
Understanding the dream
So, what in the world does this dream mean?
-The golden head represents Babylon
-The silver chest and arms represent Medo-Persians
-The stomach and thighs represents Greece
-The legs represent Rome
-The feet with ten toes is referring to a future time that is still to come. In Daniel 7 we are told about a vision with ten horns
-Rev 13 and 17 talk about these 10 kingdoms and it is something that is taking place in the very last days before Jesus returns
-The stone represents Jesus and his kingdom. “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” Psalm 118:22
This Babylonian culture needs to see the lives of Godly men and women on full display
As I have already said, the book of Daniel is ultimately about God. But that does not mean that we can not learn from the example of Daniel. In this passage we see Daniel’s faith clearly revealing his trust in his sovereign God. For example, Daniel makes an appointment to see the king BEFORE God has revealed the contents of the dream to him. This is faith that God is going to show up and tell him what he needs to know regarding the king’s dream.
We must be people of courage and faith in everyday life. What areas of life is God calling you to be courageous and to step out in faith?
Our vision as a church is to be “Deeply Rooted In The Six Counties All Around us.” We need to be people of bold faith and joining God in the redeeming work that he is doing in our neighborhoods and cities.
How we respond to trials reveals what we believe about God
In 1 Peter 1:7 we read this, “so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
As Daniel went through some really intense trials his faith was revealing his deep faith in God. Question. What are the trials you are going through right now revealing what you believe to be true about God? Are your trials making Jesus look like he is really all you need?
We must understand the absolute necessity of prayer
17 Then Daniel went to his house and made the matter known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions, 18and told them to seek mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his companions might not be destroyed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. Daniel 2:17-18
“What the Church needs to-day is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use — men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men — men of prayer.” -E.M. Bounds
Jesus will one day return for a second time to rule on earth
Daniel 2 is revealing a double prophecy. It is revealing the first coming of Jesus and his second coming. The second coming of Jesus will be radically different than the first.
“For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. -Malachi 4:1.
Have you ever embraced Jesus Christ by faith?
If you know Jesus, are you living with a sense of urgency?
Our response must be worship, trust, and devotion
In verses 19-23 we see Daniel responding to the greatness and good of God by worshipping him.
19 Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision of the night. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven. 20 Daniel answered and said:
“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. 21 He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; 22 he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him. 23 To you, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, for you have given me wisdom and might, and have now made known to me what we asked of you, for you have made known to us the king’s matter.”
Our ultimate response to the visions and prophecies of Daniel should not be detailed color-coded charts that show we have mastered the chronology of the end times. Our response to the revelation of who God is should be the same as Daniel, worship.
I have mentioned our vision on a number of occasions and will continue to do so as I preach God’s Word. Here is a brief video we made to try and communicate in greater detail what our vision is all about.