December 9, 2019
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Daniel: Faith in the Face of Challenges Compilation


Hey friends, this
week we’re going to take a look at the life of Daniel who we learn about in
the Book of Daniel. Daniel in general,
is a great example of how to stay true
to your convictions under some very
difficult circumstances. We’ll see that as we
go throughout the week, that his faith and
just like the strength of holding onto his faith, how strongly he wanted
to hold onto it, it was challenged in a
lot of very unique ways in a lot of very difficult ways. But it gives us some
great encouragement in our life of faith. Daniel’s story takes place
about 600 years before Christ, so about 600 BC. And when we come
in to meet Daniel at the beginning of
the Book of Daniel, Daniel has to move.
And he’s not moving because he wanted to
upgrade his living quarters or because he was retiring
or anything like that. He was moving, he was
moving from Israel because Nebuchadnezzar,
the King of Babylon, another country,
he came into Israel and he took over
the whole thing. And he took all
of the Israelites and he brought them
back to Babylon. And once he got the
Israelites back to Babylon, he thought, “There might be
some really great workers here, people who are, men
who are intelligent and who are capable of learning and that we can train to become really, really
productive people here in the nation of Babylon.” And Daniel was among the
group that was chosen to come in and be
evaluated as somebody who might be useful to King
Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. And, right off the bat,
there’s a test of sorts, although Nebuchadnezzar
didn’t mean it as a test. But, Daniel saw
it as a test that, well, he needed to pass. So, Nebuchadnezzar brought
in all the different workers, and he wanted to feed them. He wanted to give them food, and it says that he
wanted to feed them with the royal food, and
with the royal wine that was typically
offered at every meal. Doesn’t sound like
a big deal, right? But it was to Daniel, because the way that
they celebrated their
meals in Babylon, especially with the royal
food and the royal wine, they were ways of showing
allegiance to their god, a god that Daniel
did not believe in. And so, he thought,
“If I eat the food, “and if I drink the wine here, “I’m going to give
the impression “that I believe in
the god of Babylon.” And he didn’t want to do that. It’s the very first commandment being put into practice for us. The commandment that says “You shall have no other gods,” and he didn’t want to
even give the impression that he was worshiping
another god, the god of the Babylonians. But he knew that
there was a risk if he decided just to
flat out not eat the food that was presented
in front of him. He knew that Nebuchadnezzar
was not shy about just throwing people away. And so he knew there
was a very real chance that if he just
outright refused to eat, or if he said, “I’m
not going to do this”, then he would be thrown away, and his life might just
be over at that point. So, he came up with a plan. He had become pretty close
with the guy who oversaw, the guy from Babylon who oversaw his particular group of people, and he suggested a plan to him. He said, “I can’t eat,
I can’t eat the food, “because of my
personal convictions, “my allegiance to my God.” He said, “And I know
you’re a little bit worried “of what might happen
if we don’t eat, “then we won’t be productive, “we won’t be strong, “we’ll get kind of weak, “and you’ll end up looking bad.” And Daniel said, “And I don’t
want you to look bad.” He said, “But I believe,
I believe that our God “can take care of us
through all of this, “and give us what we need.” So he proposed a ten day plan. He said, “If you give
me and my buddies “just vegetables to eat “and water to drink, “and then evaluate us
at the end of ten days, “and see if that has, see
if we can get by on that “and still be productive, “then maybe you can just
give us vegetables to eat “and water to drink
as we move on.” And the guy thought
it was kind of risky, because vegetables
was not the same, it didn’t give the
same sustenance that the royal food did, but he thought, “Okay,
we’ll give it a shot. “It’s only ten days.” And so, for ten days,
Daniel and his friends ate just vegetables, and they drank just
water for their food. And at the end of the ten days, Daniel and all of his friends looked physically healthier than all the other guys
that they had brought in. And they performed even better than all of the other
guys they brought in. And so much so, that King
Nebuchadnezzar noticed, and he said, “Those guys
are really outstanding, “and I want to give
them a higher position. “I want to give them a
more significant position” than all the other people
that he brought in. And so Daniel and his friends, they were elevated right away, because God took care of them. And if you pay attention
to the language, if you read through
the Book of Daniel, and I would encourage
you to do that as you go through this week, you notice how often it assigns God responsibility for what happened there. That God gave them strength, that God made their
muscles strong, that God did all
of these things, that God is the one
who is very active in making these things happen for Daniel, who wanted
to represent God. Fast-forwarding to
the end of the book just for a moment. We know that Daniel remained
in a high position in Babylon for almost six decades. For 60 years. And so, he did a lot of
service in Babylon in 60 years, so 60 years he
was far from home. 60 years he was serving somebody that he wouldn’t have
signed up to serve. And you might wonder, “Well, why did God
allow that to happen?” And there’s something
really interesting in the very first verse
of the Book of Daniel that gives us some really
good insight into this. It says, “In the third
year of the reign of “Jehoiakim, King of Judah, “Nebuchadnezzar, King of
Babylon came to Jerusalem, “and besieged it, “and the Lord delivered
Jehoiakim, King of Judah, “into His hand.” Along with some of
the articles from the Temple of God. And notice the subject and
the verb of that sentence. That the Lord delivered Daniel and all of his friends into the hands of
the Babylonians. God made that happen. Now why did God
make that happen? In short, because he wanted
to put Daniel and his friends in a position to be able to represent God. He wanted to put them in a place where if they stood up for God, it would be noticed, and a place where God’s
power would be clearly seen, because it wasn’t there at all. He wanted Daniel and his friends to be in a good place
to represent God. And one of the lessons
that we take away from the Book of Daniel is that the same
is true for you. It’s that God wants
you to be in a place where you will succeed
in representing God. That is his purpose for you. And think about that if
you’re ever in a place that you didn’t ask to be in, or if things are harder
than you ever imagined, or if your faith
is being challenged in ways that you didn’t expect, or in ways that
inflict some pain, or in ways that
even put the lives of the people you love at risk. Don’t tell yourself that
God isn’t behind it. Just be reminded
that God’s purpose is always to put
you in a position where you can clearly
represent God. And remember God’s
purpose in all of this. Just as he was with Daniel, and we’ll see through the Book
of Daniel through this week, that he certainly was, and God is with you, too. God has no intentions
of allowing you to fail in your purpose as His child. Just to represent God in some very powerful
ways wherever you are. We are looking at the
life of Daniel this week and yesterday we saw that Daniel
had an immediate challenge to his faith right off the bat when he and his
buddies were taken into the nation of Babylon
after King Nebuchadnezzar over Babylon, he came in and
he defeated the Israelites. But Daniel passed the test and now things were good. He had a place of pretty
high position, of authority and things are
looking really good. But in chapter two,
another test comes up really, really quickly. And the test comes
from Nebuchadnezzar
himself, the King, who had had a dream
and it was a dream that was very vivid and the
dream that was very troubling. He thought it might
mean something. And so, King Nebuchadnezzar had a lot of different
people employed as his wise men, as the people
who had great understanding and who could maybe
interpret a dream or give him some explanation
as to what this meant. And so he brought in
all of his wise men and he said, “I had a dream, “I want you to tell
me what it means.” And so the wise men,
they say to him, “Well, tell us what
the dream was.” But Nebuchadnezzar said, “No.” He said, “Because I want you, “I want to make sure that you
are giving me the actual, “the actual meaning
of this dream. “And just, I don’t want
to tell you the dream “and then you make something up “and I have no idea if
you’re telling me the truth. So, King Nebuchadnezzar said, “I want you to tell
me what my dream was. “And then also tell
me the meaning.” And how do you think
they responded? They said, “This can’t happen.” “That there’s no way we
know what your dream was. “We didn’t dream the same dreams “and we weren’t there. “We have no idea what that
was, that’s impossible. “There’s nobody on the face of
the Earth than can do that. And King Nebuchadnezzar
said, “Well fine, then
you guys are useless.” And so, he ordered that
all of the wise men
in his entire kingdom be killed. He said, “You’re useless to me.” And among those wise men were Daniel and his friends. And so, there was now an order that Daniel and his friends
were going to be killed, even though it seems
that they weren’t in that initial group that
talked to the king. So, word gets out that
King Nebuchadnezzar had decreed that all the
wise people in the kingdom, those who had been appointed
to those positions, that their lives were
suddenly going to end. Daniel heard about
this and he asked, “Well, what’s going on?” And then somebody told him, “Well, the king had a dream. “He wants someone
to interpret it “but he also wants the
person who interprets it “to tell him what the dream was, “which is impossible, of course. So Daniel asked for permission
to talk to the king. He said, “Before the
king carries this out, “can I go talk to the king?” And, it seems that
the guy went to see if Daniel would be able
to talk to the king and then Daniel, he
went to his friends and he told his friends,
“I want you to pray.” He said, “It looks like we
might have an opportunity here, “I want you to pray.” And, they prayed three things. He prayed for mercy. He said, “Pray that God
will have mercy on us. “That his heart
will go out to us. “That he will see us in the
hard position that we are in “and that he will do something.” That’s what mercy is. Number two, he prayed
very specifically, “God, give us the ability to do
what the king is asking here, “give us insight into
what the dream was “and then give us the
ability to interpret it.” And then the third
part of the prayer, it wasn’t asking for anything. They ended their
prayer by praising God. By praising God, by believing that God was
going to be good to them even though they hadn’t yet seen how God was going to
answer the prayer. And so they got done
praying those things and Daniel gets an
audience with the king. And the king comes up to Daniel and he says, “I had a dream “and I heard that you might
be able to tell me the dream, “that you might be able to tell
me the meaning of the dream, “that you have this incredible
ability to do this. “Are you able to
do these things?” And do you know
what Daniel said? He looked at the
king and he said, “Well, no, I can’t do that.” (laughs) He said, “I can’t do that.” Which might be surprising
because you just never know when a king, who’s in a
position of authority like that, who has a tendency to
just throw people away, he might just lose
it in the moment and throw him away. But, he didn’t. He kept Daniel around
for long enough that Daniel was able
to finish his sentence when he said, “No,
I can’t do that. “But, “my God can.” “My God can.” And God had given him insight
into what the dream was. And Daniel, he wanted
God to get full credit for everything that
was going on there. When he was in a position, when nobody would
have blamed him for trying to make
himself look good, to keep his head,
literally, maybe, or to get a higher position.
But he put that at risk because he so strongly
wanted God to get full credit for anything good that
might come from this. And then he told
Nebuchadnezzar the dream. He said, and it was
a dream of a statue and there were different
parts of the statue. The upper part was made
of one type of material and then the next part was made
of another type of material, and the next part, and a
couple different sections of the statue. And the different
sections of the statue, they represented
different kingdoms. The top part of the statue,
which was the most glorious, represented King Nebuchadnezzar. And then the next part
represented the kingdom that would come after him. And then the next part
represented the kingdom that would come after him and the next the kingdom
that would come after him and all the way down. But in the dream, a
large stone from heaven was thrown at the statue and just obliterated
the whole thing. And the different
parts of the statue that were obliterated, the
winds just carried them away and, as if it had never
existed in the first place. And then the rock became,
just became so massive that it overtook
the whole world. And he told him that this
is what the dream means. He said, “King Nebuchadnezzar, “your kingdom represents
that top one.” And then, he just told him,
represents the other ones. “But there’s something that’s
more powerful than you. “And that is God.” The rock stands for God. And, not surprising there
are other places in the Bible where God is called our
rock, something solid that cannot be broken,
that cannot be defeated. And there’s encouragement
for us in that. That God is a rock and
in particular contrast to the different
kingdoms of the Earth. There’s an encouragement to, don’t get so stressed
out about politics. Don’t get so worried when
the nations in the world are going at each
other’s throats. And, well if this
person gets elected or if that person doesn’t
get elected then all is lost. God oversees it all. And he’s not unaware of
all these different things that are going on. He is a rock that’s much bigger than any of those
kingdoms, any of them. So that’s an encouragement
for us to be calm and remember that God is a rock. But, there are other
encouragements there too. Related to the prayer, when you’re going
through a tough time and when you’re in
a tough situation, that’s great guidance for
how we ought to pray too. Remember that our God
is a merciful God. That God does see
us in our pain. He does see us when we hurt. He sees us when we’re
troubled and confused and lost and broken. He sees that and his
heart goes out to us. We see that so
clearly at the cross that God has mercy on us. Even our self-inflicted wounds. And he heals us from them. So pray to God
appealing to his mercy. He is a merciful God. And then pray very specifically
about whatever it is that’s going on in your life. There’s so many promises in
the Bible related to prayer. But, pray very specifically. There’s a passage
in the book of James that points out
one of the reasons we might not have good
things in our life that we feel like we should. It says, well you
don’t have them because you haven’t taken
the time to ask them, to ask God for those things. So take the time, pray,
very specifically. He answered Daniel’s prayer
very specifically here. And then thirdly, don’t
forget to give God credit, credit before he
answers your prayer, an act of faith saying, “God
I trust you with my life, “I trust you to
answer this prayer “and I praise you
no matter what.” And then certainly also
credit after it’s all done. You know, Daniel was quick
to give credit to God before he showed
Nebuchadnezzar that he was God and that he knew
what was going on. But we have a great God who pays such close
attention to you. And, in this way, God
witnessed, God showed his glory through Daniel in a way
that had a major impact on King Nebuchadnezzar. After he got done with all the, with the dream telling
and interpreting, King Nebuchadnezzar, he fell, its says he fell before Daniel. He paid him honor and
ordered an offering, and incense be presented to him, which Daniel probably said,
“Eh, I don’t want to do this.” But then the king
said to Daniel, he said, “Surely your
God is the God of Gods.” And again, another reminder
why it was so important for Daniel to be in that
uncomfortable position. So that one other soul might see the God of Gods. I don’t know that
King Nebuchadnezzar would have seen the
true God otherwise. But he saw him through Daniel and I bet you there’s
somebody out there today who needs to see
him through you. When we stopped yesterday, we saw King Nebuchadnezzar
from Babylon give a great statement
of faith to Daniel after Daniel
interpreted his dreams and he let him know what the
dream was, interpreted it, and gave the king great
clarity on what was coming. He said to Daniel, “Surely
your God is the God of gods,” which is awesome. But as we get into
the next chapter, we see that he didn’t
totally stay there. He drifted back to some of
his old ways pretty quickly. And this is significant, even before we get
into the details of what we’re
talking about today. Because there are
people in our lives that we have great victories
with and victories of faith. They get to a point
where, like, “Yes, God is good!” “Yes, I come to church!”
“Yes, I’m reading the Bible!” “Yes, I confess my sins and
find forgiveness in Jesus!” But then they begin
to drift a little bit. And today, just don’t be surprised by that and don’t give up. Daniel’s example is a great
example of not giving up. And with King Nebuchadnezzar
in particular, it’s a reminder of
the journey of faith, that sometimes we
can have our highs and sometimes a person
can have their lows. But for us to be consistent in reaching out to
them and loving them. But as we get into the
next chapter of Daniel, we actually get to talk about
some of Daniel’s friends who already show up
in the first chapter, but who really show up
in the third chapter of the book of Daniel. And that’s Shadrach,
Meshach, and Abednego. Those three guys had
been close friends with Daniel from
the very beginning, and they were
journeying with Daniel on the ups and
downs and everything Daniel had been through now. But now they show up in
a very particular way. So King Nebuchadnezzar,
he built a gold statue. And the command was for
everybody in the kingdom, whenever you hear
the music start, you’re supposed to bow
down to this statue and worship the king’s statue. And so that was the declaration. So obviously his, hey Daniel, surely your God is
the God of gods, he was at least slipping away
from that just a little bit. But that was the command is that whenever
you hear the music, you bow down and you worship
and you worship the statue. So the statue was done
and the music started, and everybody in the kingdom, they’re like, “Well, this is
what the king told us to do, “so we’re going to do it.” So they bowed down, except
there were three guys, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who didn’t bow down. And King Nebuchadnezzar
really liked them. And so they were
brought in and he said, “Hey guys, maybe
you didn’t hear, “Just like, I don’t want
anything bad to happen to you, “just so you know,
when the music starts, “that’s when you bow down “and that’s when you
worship the statue. “Okay, are we all clear?” And they said, “No, we’re just not
going to do that. Now another little interesting
tidbit about all of this was the consequence for anybody who did not bow
down to the statue. The consequence was that anybody who didn’t bow
down to the statue was going to be thrown
into a blazing furnace. They were just going to
be thrown into the furnace into live fire and their body was going to be burned up. And Shadrach, Meshach, and
Abednego, they knew that. And yet they stood up
in front of the king, and they said, “We
just can’t do that.” But I want to read
you how they said it. They said this, they
said, “King Nebuchadnezzar, “we do not need to
defend ourselves “before you in this manner. “If we are thrown into
the blazing furnace, “the God we serve is able
to deliver us from it, “and he will deliver us
from your majesty’s hand. “But even if he does not, “we want you to
know, your majesty, “that we will not
serve your gods or worship the image of
gold you have set up.” And what they said there is
just an incredible example of what faith really is. It’s a reminder that God
isn’t like a vending machine, where if we say the right prayer and we put in the right change,
if we do the right thing, then God is going to
give us everything that we’re asking
immediately in the moment. It can be easy to walk through
life that way sometimes. If we think, well,
you know what? I tried praying, I
tried going to church, I tried reading my Bible, I
tried doing all of those things, and look at my life,
it’s just a big old mess and God obviously
doesn’t care about me. But no, listen to their words. They said, God is
able to save us, but they didn’t
say, you know what? We are absolutely
certain that God is going to pull
us out of the fire. They just knew he could, they didn’t know that he would. And then they even said,
“And even if he doesn’t, “even if this ends
with our bodies “being burned up into a
whole bunch of ashes, “we’re still going to
worship him as God. “We’re going to
worship him as God, “whether things look good
or whether they don’t.” Now what a great example
of what faith is. Faith, if we only worship
God when life is easy, when life is comfortable, when things are going
the way that I want, then we’re not really
worshiping him as God, we’re worshiping
our desires as God. As long as you give
me what I want, God, then I will worship you. That’s not faith. That’s putting
ourselves above God, and saying, “God, you
better listen to me, “or else I’m going to
walk away from you.” But they listened to God
whether times were good or times were bad. The greatest example of that is looking at the
cross of Jesus. Things looked really
really bad on that day. And yet based on the
promises that God had given to love us forever, to
forgive us, to care for us, we had every reason, and
they who saw that that day, had every reason to believe
that God was still good, and that God was
still loving them. But anyway, that’s
where Shadrach, Meshach,
and Abednego are, and they don’t bow down to him. And then the king’s attitude
towards them, it just flipped. While he wanted to
save them initially, he became furious after
they outright said, “King, we are not
going to do this.” And so he ordered the furnace
to become seven times hotter. And it was so hot that
the guards that he ordered to throw the three
guys into the furnace, that when they got so close to
the furnace to throw them in, those guards died
because it was so hot that they couldn’t take
the intensity of the heat. And so the three guys, they’re thrown into
the blazing furnace, the guards who threw
them in, they were dead. And so what do you
think is going to happen to Shadrach, Meshach,
and Abednego? What did happen was not
what the king was expecting, because he looked
in the furnace, and he not only saw
them walking around, as if they’re just
having a good time, just talking, whatever. There weren’t three of them. There were four
people in the furnace. And he himself said, he said, “That fourth one, he looks
like a son of the gods.” And truly it was. That God himself was with
those guys in the furnace, God himself was with them, which is again, a reminder
of what our God does for us. He doesn’t stay away
from our trouble, he doesn’t stay
away from our world, he doesn’t stay away
from our brokenness. He comes and embraces us, and he stands with
us through all of it. And then the king was so shocked that he saw them still
alive and the fourth one, that he ordered
them to come out, and they came out, and it was as if they had never
stepped into the fire at all. Their clothes didn’t
even smell like smoke. And for anyone who has
ever sat around a campfire, you know if you’re
around smoke at all, that your clothes are
going to smell like smoke. But they didn’t. It says it
never touched them at all. And it’s a great
reminder of something that God has promised
you in your future, a day when you will be standing, and it will be as if everything that gives us so much trouble
and pain here on Earth, as if it never touched you. The day we walk into heaven and God sets us
free from all pain, from all sadness,
from all trouble, from all hurt, and God
wipes all of our tears away. That day is coming for you too. The miracle that took place for Shadrach,
Meshach, and Abednego, it’s a miracle that’s
also coming for you. Yesterday we took a
look at the account of the three men in
the fiery furnace, Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego were thrown into
the fiery furnace, and God stood there with them, and he rescued them. And then the king, he
responded in a great way. King Nebuchadnezzar he said, “There is no God
like your God, guys, “a God who is able to save, “and a God who is
able to rescue.” Again, a great statement of
faith from Nebuchadnezzar. So you can see his faith
is kind of continuing, it went up and
then it went down, and now it’s up again. Today we kind of see it waver. In fact, we’re looking
at two kings today. We’re looking at Nebuchadnezzar and then we’re looking
at his successor, one of his successors
named Belshazzar. And we look at those two kings. We give one very important lesson, the same lesson from both
of them related to pride and how we feel about
ourselves in relation to how we feel about God. The first lesson comes from us, the first part of that lesson
comes when Nebuchadnezzar had another dream. This time he didn’t
dream of a big statue that was made up of
different materials that a rock came and destroyed. He dreamt of a big tree, a large tree that spread over
the face of the whole Earth, provided shade for
a lot of people. It was massive,
it was beautiful, it was wonderful. But then a voice came from
heaven to cut down the tree, and the tree was cut down. But the voice from heaven said, “But leave the stump
and leave the roots.” And so that was the dream. Because Daniel had
shown great ability from God to come and
interpret dreams, he brought Daniel in to
interpret the dream again. And Daniel told him the
meaning of the dream. He said, “King Nebuchadnezzar, “that tree represents you, “and it represents your kingdom. “It’s massive and
it’s beautiful. “It’s great and it
does so much good. “It provides shade for so
many people in the world.” He said, “But at some point, “you’re going to
turn away from God “and God is going to see that, “and he is going to
cut down your tree. “But he is going
to leave the roots, “and he’s going to
leave the stump, “so that when you turn
back to Him in faith, “He’s going to build
the tree back up again. “It can grow up again.” So Daniel urged him. He said, “Don’t put
yourself in that position. “Just love God,
love God, love God, “and don’t put
yourself above God.” But of course,
Nebuchadnezzar, he didn’t. He didn’t listen. Part of the interpretation
of the dream was what was going to
happen to Nebuchadnezzar after he turned away from God. As in not only was the
threat of his kingdom being, his kingdom was going to be
taken away from him for awhile, but he himself was
basically going to go crazy, go insane, act like a lunatic
in a lot of ways. And that ended up happening. Because one day, Nebuchadnezzar, he’s just walking through
the middle of his kingdom and he’s looking around, and he just pauses and he says, “What a great
kingdom I have built. “Look at how awesome I am. “Look at the awesome
things that I do. “There is no one
on Earth like me. “I am the greatest person
ever in the history of ever.” (laughs) Loose interpretation, I don’t think he said
it exactly that way. But God heard it, and that’s exactly
the thing that Daniel had warned him against. Give credit to God for all
the good things in our lives. But he didn’t. He looked at himself,
he elevated himself, and he said, “I’m so great.” So God did exactly what
he promised in the dream. In a moment he became insane, he became crazy, and in some really unique ways. I encourage you to
read through it. But it didn’t take long before
he remembered the lesson that Daniel had taught
him through the dream. Where he realized, “Wow, this is really happening.” And God really is
serious about us wanting to recognize Him as God
and not ourselves as God. And so he repented. And once he repented, he got his clear
mind back again, he was back to himself, and he was back
ruling his kingdom. And then at the end of that, after all of that happened, it says, “Nebuchadnezzar, he praised and he exalted and
glorified the King of heaven” These are his own words. He says, “Because everything He, “everything God does is right “and all His ways are just. “And those who walk in
pride He is able to humble.” And those are the last words
we hear from Nebuchadnezzar. We don’t hear what
happens after that. We don’t know when he died. When you get into
the next chapter, the very next verse takes
us to one of his successors, King Belshazzar. And King Belshazzar, he’s having, it refers to Nebuchadnezzar
as Belshazzar’s father. He’s having a big party. And during the party, you might remember
that Nebuchadnezzar had gone into Israel and he had, and part of taking
all of the people from Israel back to Babylon, was taking a lot of the things that had been in the
temple back to Babylon. And Belshazzar, when he’s
having this big old party, he says, “Hey, let’s grab some
of those cups, and goblets “and stuff that we
took from the temple, “and let’s use them
to have a good time.” And so they go in and they
grab a lot of the cups, the silver, and the gold, and they pour wine into them, and they’re having a great time. And then it says they
started to worship the silver, and the gold, and all those different things as if those things
were the gods. And then as soon as it says that
that started to happen, that they were
worshiping something
other than the true God, they were worshiping these cups and different things like that, and then it says
something suddenly
appeared out of nowhere, and it was a hand. It was just a hand appearing
in the middle of nowhere, and it started
writing on the wall. It started writing a
message on the wall, “mene, mene, tekel,
parsin” it said. And Belshazzar was
just terrified. This floating hand writing
a message on the wall. And he didn’t know
what it meant. He wasn’t able to interpret it. And none of the, none of his other wise men
were able to do that either. He was really, really scared. So they brought
Daniel back in again, and Daniel was able to tell him what the hand writing
on the wall meant, which is by the way where
that phrase comes from. You may have heard
of the phrase, “They’ve seen the
handwriting on the wall.” It was an indication
of what’s coming. It comes from this
biblical account, the handwriting on the wall. But Daniel came in and he said, “Belshazzar, I can tell
you what this means.” He says, “God has evaluated you, “and he takes what you
did here very seriously, “and you’re going to
be punished for it.” He gave a little more insight. He said, “Belshazzar, you
knew what your father did. “You knew about all the
ups and downs in his faith. “You heard his confession
of faith at the end. “And you knew how he turned
away from his other gods, “and eventually he came and
he worshiped the true God. He said, “You knew those things, “and yet you still decided
to worship another god. He said, “So Belshazzar, “your life is going to end. “And it’s going to end quickly.” And it did. He died that night. That was it. While God had given
Nebuchadnezzar chance after chance
after chance, Belshazzar, maybe
in part because he should have known better, he cut off his
opportunity right away. Now God doesn’t tell any of us
exactly how long we have on, how long we have on Earth. We might have five minutes, we might have 50 years, we might have, we don’t know. But we do know this, that this time on Earth
is our only opportunity to get right with God. Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar, they both suffered from pride. There was something
that they loved more than they loved God. And if there’s
something in your life that you have loved
more than you love God, if it’s yourself or anything else, do not wait any longer and acknowledge that to God. And repent of it, and turn to him just like Daniel urged Nebuchadnezzar to do, just like Belshazzar
should have known to do. Turn to him and
what will you find? No matter the sin, whether it’s pride
or anything else, no matter what you’ve been
holding onto with all your heart more than you hold onto God, you’ll always find a God who
is determined to hold onto you. Who’s already forgiven it, and who obviously can
take care of those who walk with him in faith. We certainly see that in Daniel. We see it show up in
so many different ways. And tomorrow, we’ll see it
show up in probably the most well known way of
all with Daniel. I’ll see you then. Yesterday we looked
at a lesson on pride and the danger of pride as we
looked at King Nebuchadnezzar, and another dream he had,
and then also King Belshazzar with the hand
writing on the wall. After Daniel
interpreted the meaning of the handwriting on
the wall for Belshazzar, Belshazzar was so
grateful to Daniel that he elevated him to
an even higher position. And so he continues
to be elevated just by faithfully representing
God and living out his faith with whatever
opportunity that he had. And then after Belshazzar
elevated Daniel, Belshazzar died. That very same night. So now we get into the reign
of another king, Darius. And Darius, he
also liked Daniel. He liked Daniel a lot. And Darius, he’s
coming into power, he’s bringing a lot of other
people to be his advisors, which often happens with a
change of who’s in charge. But Daniel remained in charge. Not in charge, but in a
very, very high position. And the new people
who were coming in, they didn’t like Daniel. Then they saw that
there wasn’t any way to make him less than credible. He had a great reputation, he was honest, he
was trustworthy. And he did things by the book. He obviously had his principles
and he stuck to them. So they came up with a plan to make Daniel look
really, really bad. They came up to
Darius, and they said, “Hey, King Darius, you are
so great and so wonderful. “And don’t you think
that people should “let you know how wonderful
and great you are? “And, I think, wouldn’t
it be a great idea “if for 30 days, if
people would, well, “they would bow down
to you and worship you “for 30 days as the
great king that you are.” And Darius, being the guy
that he was, and he said, “Wow, I guess that does
sound like a great idea. “I am pretty great after all. “And I think people should also
let me know how great I am.” And so he made this law
that for the next 30 days, everybody should bow down
to him and worship him as the only God that there is. And the people who
suggested that, they knew that Daniel wouldn’t, because they knew that
he stuck to his guns when it came to his faith. And the first time that
people were supposed to bow down to him
and worship the king, they found Daniel, and
what was Daniel doing? He was praying. And out in the open. Which wasn’t unusual,
that’s what he did, that’s what he did normally. He would go up to his room,
he would stand in front of the window that opens
towards the city of Jerusalem, and he would pray
three times a day. And it’s interesting that after
there was this new threat. And there was a threat, that
anybody who did not bow down and worship the king, you would
thrown into a den of lions. He didn’t change his practice,
he didn’t change his habits. He continued to
practice his faith in just the way that he did. He didn’t let the intimidation or the threat of
something bad happening change who he was
or what he did. And so he continued to pray. And the enemies, they busted
in on him as he was praying, asking God for help in
what he was going to do. And they brought
him into Darius. And they said,
“Darius, didn’t you say “that anybody who
doesn’t bow down to you “would be thrown into
the den of lions?” And he said, “Yep, absolutely. “Because I’m that awesome, “and everybody should tell
me that I’m that awesome.” And then they said, “Well, there’s this
guy here who doesn’t. “And we know that you said
that anybody who doesn’t “should be thrown
to the den of lions. “And here is the man.” And they gave him,
they showed him Daniel. And Darius was just sick. Because he knew he could
not go back on his word. Because then he
wouldn’t be a good king. He wouldn’t have credibility. And he knew he had to throw
Daniel into the den of lions. And so he did. He took him to the den of lions. And he said to Daniel,
“Daniel, I hope and pray “that your God is
able to save you.” And he put him in, and Darius,
they sealed it all up. And then Darius went
back to his home. He didn’t sleep that night,
didn’t eat that night, he was so nervous about
what would happen. And then he came
right in the morning, he came running out to
where the den of lions was, and he shouted into
the den of lions. And he said, “Daniel, Daniel, “was your God able to save you?” And Daniel responded. He said, “Oh yes, my king.” He said, “My God sent
an angel, and that angel “closed the mouth of the lions.” And then they pulled Daniel up. And I want to pause
there just for one second because there’s
one important word that Daniel said that is so
significant for our lives. It’s the word “my.” Where he said “my God.” “My God sent his angel.” “My God.” It was his God. He knew that he belonged to him. And I guess my question is, how do you know that
God belongs to you? How do you know
that he is your God? If we try to answer
that question based on how strongly
we believe in him or how tightly we
hold onto his promises or how faithful we
are in worshiping him, I bet you can find
a reason to doubt. Because we’re not
always strong enough, we’re not always as
faithful as we want to be, we’re not always not
as tight with God as, you know, when it comes
to our tightness with him. But the way we know that
Daniel’s God is also your God, that you also get
to use the word “my” is because that’s what
God signed up to be. That’s what God signed up to be. When he put his son on a cross so that he would have one place
where you could always look and say, “Well, we
know what God wants. “God wants to be my father. “And God is my father
because of what Jesus did. “And I am his child. “And I am loved by him. “And I am forgiven,
and I am in his family. “Not because I’m so
good at believing it, “but because he’s so good
at making it happen.” So anyway. “My God,” Daniel said,
and he’s our God. And then Daniel gets pulled
up, and he’s rescued. And then there’s a great,
great confession of faith from Darius, who says,
“Daniel, your God, “your God is incredible.” And he was elevated once again, and the people who
had out for him, they were thrown
into the lion’s den. And we get a glimpse
of what the lions did. That even before
they hit the ground, the lions did what lions do. That the mouths were not shut,
and the angel did not come. But God protected his own, just like God promises
to protect you. And that happens in
Daniel chapter six. There are twelve chapters
in the Book of Daniel. And which means that there are
six more chapters that go on. And as we go on to
the book of Daniel, we won’t spend a lot of
time digging very deeply into everything that happens. But Daniel, as he was
able to interpret dreams, we also see that Daniel
was given dreams. And he was given dreams by God
that had symbolic meanings. He sees fantastic pictures,
fantastic imagery. And symbolic numbers
that gave him insight into what was going to come
over the course of his life and by the end of the world. And the very last thing,
in his very last vision that we hear in the book of
Daniel is just so significant. Because God is talking to
Daniel in this last vision, and in the last verse of the
Book of Daniel, he says this. He says, “As for you,”
he’s talking to Daniel. “Go your way ’til the end. “You will rest, and then
at the end of the days, “you will rise to receive
your allotted inheritance.” And there were three things
I want to point out there. First of all, where he
said, “Go your way.” That God was saying,
“Go your way.” Which was not
permission to go and do whatever you want in life. Because he knew that
Daniel’s way was God’s way, and God’s way was Daniel’s way. Daniel had proven that
time and time again that his way was
directed by God. And that’s why he
said “your way.” And he identified Daniel’s
way with his own way so clearly that he
called it “your way.” Jesus, incidentally,
called himself “the way.” And it fits in very, very well with how Daniel lived his life, that following Jesus is
the way to find fulfillment and joy and happiness
and contentment and all those wonderful things. The second thing, here he
says, “You will find rest. “You will rest.” And you know what he
was talking about there. He said, “Daniel, some
day you’re going to die.” And some day, you will too. And some day I will too. Unless Jesus comes back first. But one day we will die. But God was talking about
death in the same way that Jesus often did, as a rest. It’s like taking a nap. That’s how God looks at it. Nothing to be afraid of. Nothing to be scared of. And some day, we’ll
wake up from that nap. But that’s how God views death. And we can looked
at our loved ones who have died, and
they’re resting. That’s how God views death. We don’t need to
be afraid of it. And then the last thing, “and
then at the end of the days, “you will rise to receive
your allotted inheritance.” And there’s one key
word in that sentence that I want to point out,
and that’s the word “will.” “You will rise.” And, “you will receive
your allotted inheritance.” And of course that
inheritance, it’s heaven. It’s heaven. The best part of Daniel’s
life was still to come. And that’s what God
was showing him. He had obviously shown
him that he was with him every step of the way,
and he was reminding him that the great things
that you’ve seen, the greatest things
that your eyes will see, it’s still coming in the future. And the same is true for you. God is with you every step of
the way, but one day, one day, the best part of your
existence will begin. And then once it begins,
it will never end. And God wants you to be there. God has made the way
for you to be there. And you will be
there, because God is with you every
step of the way, too. Hope you’ve gotten some
great encouragement from the book of
Daniel this week. Because there’s a lot of it. A great reminder that we have
a God that’s worth defending, that’s worth sticking up for, that’s worth holding onto
with everything that we have because he is a God
that holds onto us with everything that he has.

Otis Rodgers

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Isatu Turay Posted on November 16, 2019 at 10:24 am

    Amen. Father help us increase our faith and hope in you Lord. Thanks for sharing have a blessed day servant of the Most High God

    Reply
  2. Michael Jeffry Posted on November 16, 2019 at 5:16 pm

    No words can tell how much I was encouraged. God bless you man ofGod- it was so good- thank you God.

    Reply
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