Lessons that can be learned from the Book of Daniel.
[Roy Holladay] I wonder if any of you have ever had somebody come up to you and express what they really think of you. Maybe they say you're the greatest person who ever walked the earth. Or maybe they have other comments that are not too complimentary.
When Jesus Christ walked the earth, He was criticized constantly by His distracters – by the Pharisees, Sadducees. He was called a wine bibber – meaning, “You're a drunkard.” He said, “You've been born of adultery.” “You're a Sabbath breaker.” “You're a false teacher.” “You've got false ideas.” “You're trying to overthrow the government.” That was another accusation. “You want to destroy the temple.” So what was He going to do – bring a bomb in and blow the temple up? They accused Him of that. And they even went so far as to say that Jesus Christ was demon possessed, that He was influenced by the Beelzebub, the chief of the demons. Now that's what a lot of individuals that didn't like Him said, because they looked on Him as a competitor.
What did God the Father think of Jesus Christ? Well, we have several instances, but there's one back in Matthew 3:17 Matthew 3:17And see a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
American King James Version×, where the Father sent a message saying, "This is My Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." So God looked on Him as a beloved son. He was not a rebellious son. He was one who was beloved and He was well pleased with what He was doing.
Now the Bible was full of messages from God to mankind. All you have to do is go back and read Revelation 2 and 3. Here are seven churches mentioned – seven attitudes that you find that are prominent in the church in any given time. These were seven little congregations that existed in Asia Minor and God revealed to them what their deficiencies were – also what their strong points were to all of them. He said, "He who overcomes will be in My Kingdom," but you also have to endure to the end. Moses and Aaron were sent by God to deliver a message to Pharaoh and that message was "Let My people go." They also said, “Let them go keep a Feast to Me.”
The book of Daniel also contains a unique message from God that applies to events taking place today – that actually transcends the century, the millennia and comes down to our day today. This Thursday, as we know, is the Feast of Trumpets, which pictures the time when God will finally get the attention of the rulers of this world. And He's going to get the attention of all mankind. And He's going to begin to talk to them in the only language they will understand at that time. Now the book of Daniel focuses on this and we want to spend most of our time today in the book of Daniel. I wanted us to take a look at the message that God has for us, and the message that God has for the nation, and the message God has for the people of the earth, and what He is sending at this time.
Let's go to Daniel chapter 1 and we'll begin in verse 2. As we go through this, you might say, “Well this sounds like a Bible study.” It's going to be a sermon study and we're going to go through – and we will be reading a considerable amount of the book of Daniel – but only those verses that really illustrate what we're talking about.
Daniel 1:2 Daniel 1:2And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god.
American King James Version× And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand – talking about Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon. Now I want you to notice that God was involved in this, or God allowed this to take place – that God allowed Jerusalem and Judah to go into captivity – God, through the prophets, Jeremiah and Ezekiel – different ones that already predicted what was going to take place. Now you would think, if you were among the Jews at that time – just as Daniel was, and his companions – that you would wonder, “Where is God?” – that He allowed you to go into captivity. Here you are. You're obeying God – you're serving Him – and all at once you're hauled off into captivity. What could God possibly have in mind for you? Well, we're going to see that God was working something out beyond what Daniel and his companions might have thought.
What verse 2 shows is the sovereignty of God. God intervenes in history at any point that He needs to to carry out His plan and His purpose. There was a reason why God allowed Judah to go into captivity. And God said seventy years later they would come back out of captivity. Daniel and his associates went into captivity around 605 BC. Nebuchadnezzar reigned from 605 to 562 BC in that period of time. Why did God allow Ezekiel to go into captivity? He was by the river Chebar we read in the book of Ezekiel. Why did he allow Daniel to go into captivity? Why Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego? They were being positioned in different locations – Daniel and his friends – for positions at the palace at the heart of the government – at the seat of power. Ezekiel was out with the people and he was living with the average Jew. God positioned each one because He had a duty and responsibility for them to carry out. Now as we read through this, you ask yourself the question, “Why are you where you are?” Why has God positioned you where you might be? Why has God called you now? Why didn't God call somebody else – somebody else with, maybe, a billion dollars who could really bankroll what we're doing? Why has He called us? – because we want to address that as we go through this.
Notice Verse 3:
V-3 – Then the king instructed Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs, to bring some of the children of Israel and some of the king's descendants and some of the nobles. Young men – for all of you who are young – young adults, teens, whatever – in whom there was no blemish, but good looking – these were not the ugly ducklings of the kingdom – gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king's palace and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans.
God had prepared the opportunity for Daniel and his friends to influence the King of Babylon, as we're going to see. They had an opportunity to be in a unique position that few have had. God had a purpose to work out. You might remember God had chosen ancient Israel and He brought them out of Egypt. They were to be a light and example to all the other nations around them. He choose them for a purpose – not because they were more righteous or better, but He choose them for a purpose – to be an example to all other nations. Now God also gave an opportunity – a witness – to the gentile rulers. And I'm referring specifically here to Babylon to start with. Babylon, at that time, you might remember, decimated the Assyrian empire. They were the strongest nation – empire – on the face of the earth – mighty Babylon. God brought into the very heart and core of Babylon four young Jewish men. They could have still been in their teens or early twenties. It doesn't say precisely. But why were Daniel and his friends selected for this special training? Again, here's a lesson for all of us who might be young. Why were they selected? Well, as it says here – as we've already read – that they possessed knowledge. They were gifted. They did not have blemishes. They were good looking. They were smart. They were swift of mind. They had already applied themselves. They didn't come into Babylon being dumb clucks. They came into Babylon already educated. They had already been trained. They were individuals who understood and applied themselves. They did not have blemishes. They didn't have tattoos all over their bodies, a lot of body piercing. They did not blow their minds on drugs. They had given themselves to study and they were sharp as a tack and the rulers were able to see that. God intervened to give them favor the Bible says. So God is intervening on their behalf, but if they had not been the material to start with, then there wouldn’t be anything to intervene for. So God intervened, but immediately they were met with a challenge and they were met with a problem. Notice verse 5:
V-5 – And the king appointed for them a daily provision of the king's delicacies and of the wine which he drank – in other words, the same type of food that the King had, the same type of drink he had – and three years of training for them.
Now Daniel and his three friends here – Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah – decided that they were not going to eat the King's delicacies or drink his wine. Now you might ask, “Why?” It doesn't specifically say. It just said they didn't want to be defiled. It could have been unclean meat involved here. Much of the food that had been cooked would have been cooked and prepared back at that time…they would have not known what exactly was in it, how it had been prepared, what it was seasoned with, any number of things. They did not want to defile themselves. You remember the story. They asked if they could eat vegetables and grain instead of eating the King's delicacies. Notice verse 9:
V-9 – Now God had brought Daniel into the favor and good will of the chief of the eunuchs. How do you fall into favor of someone who is in charge of all of the eunuchs? Well, Daniel was given favor by God, but also he was an individual who could communicate, who could talk – as we will find out – who had the ability to express himself, who was smart. And I'm sure he set an excellent example, so therefore, he didn't give any trouble to this individual. He'd been given favor. But the chief of eunuchs said, "Hey, I can't do this, and, if I do this and you look poorly, then it's going to come back on my head." Now notice, Daniel came up with a plan. He didn't take no for an answer. He came up with a plan, as we'll see here in verse 12:
V-12 – "Please test your servants for ten days and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink." Vegetables there also implied grain – so vegetables and grain – and not the delicacies of refined food, as the others were eating. What was Daniel doing? He was relying on God. He was wanting to obey God, to honor God, and God blessed him. God backed up his actions. It doesn't say God necessarily told him, "Ask for this." It didn't happen that way. He just simply thought “Well, maybe 10 days – just give us 10 days – and if we don't look better, then forget about it.” So they did that, and you'll find that after 10 days, they looked fatter, stronger, more healthy – better than all the others. So they were allowed to eat their vegetables at that time.
V-18 – Now at the end of the days – in other words, after three years – they were brought into the King. Then the king interviewed them. And among them all, none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. Therefore they served before the king. And in all matters of wisdom and understanding about which the king examined them, he found them ten times better – that's pretty good. I'd like to be 10 times smarter than the competition here.
So when school was over, the king brings them in and starts asking them questions. They were outstanding in what they were able to say. They made a great impression upon Nebuchadnezzar. God allowed them to go into captivity for a purpose and the reason – He had picked them to be trained. God gave them special ability and knowledge, as we will see, and they then were noticed by the king. They were positioned to give a witness to the leadership of Babylon. God wanted them there for a reason and you'll find, as we go on here, that they were given very high positions.
Now Chapter 2, verse 1:
Daniel 2:1 Daniel 2:1And in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams, with which his spirit was troubled, and his sleep broke from him.
American King James Version×– In the second year of Nebuchadnezzar's rein, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams.
Now I want you to notice the 2nd year of his rein. They were taken into captivity during the first year of his rein. So the three years of training were not yet complete when this happened. They're still in training – Daniel and his buddies at this time. Now Nebuchadnezzar calls in all the wise men, the magicians, the astrologers, sorcerers – anybody who is supposed to be able to have spiritual contact to tell him about the future – and said, "I had a dream. Tell me the dream and interpret the dream.” Of course they looked at him and said, "O king, live forever." That was always the first thing out of their mouth. "We want you to live forever, however no king has ever made a demand such as this. Tell us the dream and we will interpret it.” I think Nebuchadnezzar realized that if they claimed to have supernatural powers to interpret, they should have supernatural power to tell him the dream. So they hemmed and hawed. They're not able to come up with it and Nebuchadnezzar is very mad at them. Verse 9:
V-9 – "If you do not make known the dream to me, there is only one decree for you. For you have agreed to speak lying and corrupt words – now we find he didn't trust these men – there obviously was political intrigues going on within the palace and this was one way to get rid of them – get them all killed and come up with other men – before me till the time has changed. Therefore tell me the dream." Then if you don't tell me the dream, I'm going to kill all of you.
V-12 – For this reason the king was angry and very furious and gave a command to destroy all the wise men of Babylon.
Now we've got a problem, because Daniel and his three friends are part of this group, and you will find here in verse13:
V-13 – So the decree went out and they began killing the wise men; and they sought Daniel and his companions, to kill them. Then with counsel and wisdom Daniel answered Arioch, the captain of the king's guard. Now notice: the king's guard came in about to kill him. “Hey, wait a minute! What's all the urgency?” Daniel asked. And he explained it to him, and Daniel said, “Bring me before the king.” He goes before the king and he requests time – in other words, “Set a time, and I'll come, and I will tell you the dream, and I will interpret the dream.” Now I want you to notice He knew that he didn't have the ability to do this – that God was going to give him the interpretation of the dream and tell him about it.
Now there is one thing that you need to stop and realize – what's going on here. There is an adversary out there. He's called Satan the devil, and he is trying to thwart God's plan in any way he wants to. The fact that you had Daniel and his three friends at the very heart of the government, there was a certain element of perception there for the Jews in captivity. They could be there…there was something coming up or going to happen, they could intervene on their behalf. And so God provided them their number one for safety and protection for their fellow countrymen who had been taken into captivity, but also Jesus Christ was going to come to Judah. And so God wanted that lineage to continue on. So God intervened here on their behalf.
So they played a major crisis and how were they going to handle this crisis? They all went to their room and they got down on their knees and they prayed. Now you'll notice God didn't immediately reveal to them the interpretation. Daniel was the one who had been given the ability to interpret dreams, so they went to their rooms and while they were sleeping that night, God gave to Daniel the vision and the interpretation. So Daniel comes back and he interprets this. And I want you to notice, as we go on here, that Daniel had the ability to articulate – ask questions, get answers. He was bold. He had courage. He was not afraid to go before the king and say, “Oh King, you set a time, and I will come to you, and I will tell you.” So the king probably said, “Well tomorrow morning, you show up here and you tell me.” So he appeared. Daniel had to have faith that God would intervene on his behalf – to give him the dream and the interpretation. Otherwise he's a dead duck. He's had it. God did intervene again. It's another lesson, I think, for our young adults – for our youth in the church. What if Daniel had been a shy person? What if he had been reticent? What if Arioch, the guard, had come to him and said, “We're going to kill you.” Why he's not able to talk, he's not able to express himself, and while he's trying to figure out what to do, he gets his hands loped off? That doesn't work. But he was bold enough to speak up. He had courage. God intervened. He had faith.
And let's notice that Daniel comes before Nebuchadnezzar and he tells him this:
V-21 – He changes the times and the seasons – talking about God. He removes kings and raises up kings, He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals deep and secret things. So he realized that God was the One who gave him understanding. In verses 28 and 29 you find that he gives credit to God.
V-28 – But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days. Your dream and the visions of your head upon your bed were these. I want you to focus on the expression the latter days. I believe we are living in the latter days – at the time of the end. How close? None of us really knows, but we are certainly living in the end of the 6,000 year period that man has to rule over himself. And so Daniel was inspired by God to say, “This vision ultimately is for the latter days.” He summarizes here for him the vision. He talks about he saw a great image – head of gold, then silver, then bronze, then iron and then the feet of clay and iron. Then he begins to interpret that for him. Notice verse 47:
V-47 – The king answered Daniel and said, "Truly your God is the God of gods, the Lord of kings and revealer of secrets, since you would reveal this secret." Now notice what he did not say: "Your God is the only God." He said: "Your God is the God of the gods.” In other words, he believed there were other gods, but obviously whoever Daniel was worshipping had to be pretty powerful, because He revealed to him the dream and also the interpretation of the dream.
Now the interpretation: we know that the image – the head of gold – was Nebuchadnezzar, followed by the Medes and the Persians – silver – bronze was Alexander the Great in the Grecian Empire, followed by Rome. Finally you get down to the feet, the ten toes which comes down to our day today, as we will see. Now the interesting thing here is that Nebuchadnezzar, a total pagan king, in charge of all Babylon has the true God introduced to him. God revealed Himself, in one sense, to Daniel, and Daniel tells the king, "I did not do this on my own, God revealed it to me. He gives understanding of secrets” – God has the wisdom and that it is the God of Israel who is above all so-called god's and He, therefore, is God.
So Nebuchadnezzar had revealed to him a whole course of history – what was going to happen from his day down to the return of Jesus Christ. And that's what it talks about, because there was a stone, you remember, cut out that hit the image on its feet, knocked it down. It shattered and broke up – it blew away – there was no trace of it found. And the stone that did that killed the whole earth and it became a mighty kingdom – talking about the Kingdom of God being set up. What does the Feast of Trumpets picture? It pictures the return of Jesus Christ to the earth. What is He going to do? He's going to put down all rule, all authority, all government and He's going to set up His kingdom. And His kingdom – once to be set – will rule over all nations forever and there will only be that kingdom.
V-48 – Let's notice another problem – the seeds of another problem were sown. As a result of what Daniel did, The King promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon – chief province, like Washington DC – the headquarters – this is where the palace is – where the authority is – and chief administrator over all the wise men of Babylon. Also Daniel petitioned the king and he set Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego over the affairs of the province of Babylon; but Daniel sat in the gate of the king. He was right there with the king. He was his advisor, because the king recognized the wisdom that he had.
Now you take a young man – he may be in his late teens or early twenties – and put him over all the affairs of Babylon. What's that going to do to all these older men who were around and used to be in charge? Would you say that there could be a little envy or jealousy or greed? They thought, “What are we going to do with this guy? How are we going to get rid of him?” Now he's brought his own buddies in – Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego – and so now you've got a different dynamic going on within that empire.
Now chapter 3, verse 1:
Daniel 3:1 Daniel 3:1Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was three score cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.
American King James Version×– Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold.
V-5 – You shall fall down and worship the gold image that the King set up. When the band struck up, the alarm went off, everybody was to fall down before this image. Now there's a little problem with this. There happens to be a commandment that says you are not to worship any idols. You are not to bow down before them – do any of that. So here's Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego. When the band strikes up, everybody bows down and guess what? If everybody is lying flat on the ground on their face, and they're standing, there's a problem. And that's exactly what happened. So they did not worship the image.
V-8 – Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and accused the Jews. There's always somebody watching you. And they accused them. Now in verse 12 they bring this accusation:
V-12 – There are certain Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the providence of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego; these men, O king, have not paid due regard to you. They do not serve your gods or worship the gold image which you have set up. Nebuchadnezzar, out of his benevolence, gave them an opportunity to recant and change. He said, “When you hear the band strike up, you'll fall down and worship, and everything will be okay.” Guess what? They said, “Well, we're not going to do that.” And they didn't. Now God allowed another major test for these young men. And this is a major test, because if you don't do it, you're going to be thrown in a fiery furnace. And the King was angry at them. And you can see the veins extended on his neck and face and he was furious at them. “You better fall down and worship my idol!” Well, they basically say in verse 17, after they were told to do this and they refused, they said, “If this is the case, our God, whom we serve, is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace and He will deliver us from your hand, O King. But if not, let it be known to you, O King, that we will not serve your god, nor will we worship the golden image.
V-19 – Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury and had the furnace heated up seven times more than it was usually heated. It was so hot that the men who picked them up to throw them in are killed. So now they are thrown in. I want you to notice that Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego's God will deliver. Okay, at what point will God deliver? So they bind them up. They picked them up and they're ready to throw them in. Surely, at this point God will intervene. God's going to put something over the furnace door. No, we're falling and they're in the furnace, but “we're not burning.” God intervened at the last second to save them. And not only that, He sent an angel to be among them. When Nebuchadnezzar and all of those around him looked, not only was Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego in the furnace, but there was one like the Son of God who was there also - four men, not just three. They were not hurt.
Now in verse 28, Nebuchadnezzar asked them to come out. Not a hair on their head was singed, their clothes were not burned, there's no smell of smoke on them. It was as if they had been out walking through the pasture on a bright sunny day. Nothing had happened to them. Nebuchadnezzar spoke – and this is the second time – saying:
V-28 – "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego” – the same God who is the God of Daniel – “who sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king's word and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God. Therefore I make a decree” – these guys were good at making decrees, so he makes another one – that any people, nation or language which speaks anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego shall be cut in pieces and their houses shall be made an ash heap; because there is no other God who can deliver this." Now he still has not acknowledged that the God of Israel is the only God.
Now I want you to notice something here – that God is actually giving the Babylonian ruler and all of those who are his advisors around him an opportunity to repent – an opportunity to know what's right and who the true God is and to change. Now the question is, will they? or do they? So this is the second time that God gave a witness to the head of the gentile kingdom of Babylon. Remember when God chose Israel and brought them out of Egypt? He performed a series of miracles and those series of miracles got the attention of the nations around them. The nations around them – whenever Israel came anywhere near them – feared, because they were afraid that God would do the same thing to them that He had done to the Egyptians. Now here is a degree that goes out to the whole Babylonian empire saying, “If anybody speaks a bad word against the God of Israel, he's going to be killed.” So the knowledge and information is spread to everyone and proclaimed. So it's interesting how this witness went out to everyone. Now what if Nebuchadnezzar, at this point, had said: "You know I've learned a lesson. It took me a couple of times here, but you worship the true God. I'm going to worship Him, too, and I'm going to command my people to do so." What if that had happened? How would the world have turned out since then? Well, it might have been completely different but obviously it didn't happen that way.
Daniel 4…He still hasn't gotten the point – Nebuchadnezzar – but God is not through with him yet.
Daniel 2:2 Daniel 2:2Then the king commanded to call the magicians, and the astrologers, and the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans, for to show the king his dreams. So they came and stood before the king.
American King James Version×– I thought it good to declare the signs and wonders that the Most High God has worked for me. How great are His signs and how mighty His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom and His dominion is from generation to generation. He has another dream and in the dream he has a vision. It's of a great tree that grows up to heaven. It's got lovely leaves, great branches going out, fruit is in abundance – fruit for all – birds live in the trees, all of the animals live underneath the trees. Then they come alongand the watchers chop it down. It is chopped down. Tthere are no branches, no leaves, no food, scattered fruit. All that is left is the stump and roots with a band of iron and bronze around it.
V-16 – Let his heart be changed – now one of the watchers – or angelic being – came down and they are obviously talking about a tree, but it's also talking about the leader of the nation of Babylon – Nebuchadnezzar – from that of a man. Let him be given the heart of an animal and let seven times pass over him. This decision is by the decree of the watchers and the Holy One. Why? Why is God doing this? What's the purpose for it? Notice the last part. In order that the living may know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men – that they would know that God is in charge – He is sovereign and He gives it to whomever He will and sets over it the lowest of men.
So many times we see political figures who are the lowest, as far as their morals, their wisdom even, and this is why God allowed this – brought it about – because He wanted them to learn a lesson.Now it's interesting that in the future, there's going to be two witnesses. We'll touch on this a little more as we go on. Then they’ll confront the great political general – show the world, even at the end time, that He is in charge.
So Daniel interprets this for the king and he tells the king and Nebuchadnezzar that he had a lesson that he had to learn. Notice in verse 25:
V-25 – They shall drive you from men. Your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field and they shall make you eat grass like oxen until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men and gives it to whomever He chooses. God is in charge and He will give to whomever. Okay, that is exactly what happened. Now it's interesting to note, God didn't do this immediately. He waited a year. Nebuchadnezzar had a year to think about and consider. Maybe, as time went on, he began to think, “Well Daniel said this and generally what he said comes true.” Nothing has happened. And then one day Nebuchadnezzar is outside walking around and he beholds Babylon and he sees all the power. And the King spoke:
V-30 – "Is not this great Babylon that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?" He didn't give God credit, as God rules in the affairs of man and He gives to whomever He wills. He didn't do that. That very day he was driven out and for seven years, he was like a beast. He ate grass like oxen – insane – just totally not understanding fully what was going on. His problem was a problem with pride – the same problem most leaders have even today.
V-34 – And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven and my understanding 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 is from generation to generation, and all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing.
V-37 – Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to abase. Now it's interesting, Nebuchadnezzar, after seven years – after what he went through – seems to have a little different attitude at this point. So what eventually happened? We don't know, the Bible doesn't say much after this – that he tried to worship the true God. Did he really learn a lesson here? We don't fully know.
Now you come to this point. Now the seven years, we've always understood – that Nebuchadnezzar had the mind of a beast – was a type of a period of gentile rule. You have a day for a year in prophecy. 360 days in prophetic years times seven – 2,520 years that the gentiles were held slaves until the time when God would bring forward Israel – the British Empire and the United States – at the time of the end.For the last century and part of the century before was the century of the Israelites, so to speak – or of America and Britain. But they have been described as the beast being motivated by a heart of pride and power. But eventually he was given a heart of a man. And it will come time in the future when the nations of the earth will go through what the Bible describes as the tribulation, or a terrible period of suffering, and mankind then will come to realize that there is a God. He is in charge and they will submit and obey. And God will set up His Kingdom.
You might remember in Daniel 5, Belshazzar, son of Nebuchadnezzar is now king and ruling. He makes a great feast and they're eating and drinking wine. He calls for all the vessels that were in Solomon's temple – brought them out and drinks wine out of them. They praised the gods of gold and silver. Now while he's doing this, there is a hand that appears and writes on the wall, “Mene mene tekel upharsin.” And you can imagine, they wanted to know, “What is this?” Again, nobody can interpret it. It's always at the last they bring Daniel in – not at first – but it shows that the soothsayers and astrologers did not have understanding. But Daniel did. They bring him in and he tells them, “Look mene means your days are numbered, tekel means you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting, upharsin means your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians. That very night the King was overcome and slain and the Medes and Persians took over. Now you find that a very interesting scripture though, as Daniel is talking to Belshazzar. Notice: he describes to him what all Nebuchadnezzar went through. He rehearses the history.
Daniel 5:22 Daniel 5:22And you his son, O Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this;
American King James Version×– But you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, although you knew all this. He knew what happened to Nebuchadnezzar. He thought, “And yet you refused to humble your heart.” Now there's a lesson there for all of us. And we learn from mistakes of other people and we learn from good examples and bad examples. The Bible is a book that is written – especially the Old Testament – the history, the prophecy…. There are bad examples and what happens when you break God's laws. God gives laws like the grammar book – singular subjects and singular verbs. And then you have a grammar book – all kinds of examples of what's singular – and telling you until you get the idea – showing you. So it is with the Bible. God gives us His law. He shows what happens to people when they break His law. A curse comes upon us. He shows what happens when you obey the law – the blessings that come upon you. So He tells Belshazzar, “You haven't humbled your heart, so you're not going to stick around either.” Can we learn lessons? And do we learn lessons from others?
Chapter 6 is another classic example. Daniel is thrown in the lions den. You might remember the Persians are in charge now, and they set three governors over the land, and Daniel was one of them. Daniel distinguished himself above the governors and the satraps, and he exercised the spirit of wisdom, and God was with him, and God blessed him. And so therefore again, the other men were envious of him. So they asked Darius to make a decree that for thirty days nobody can make a petition to their own god or worship anyone, make a petition to anyone except the king. If they did they would be destroyed. So they knew they couldn't find anything wrong with Daniel, as he was faithful. There was no fault found in him. He didn't steal. He kept the books correctly. He handled everything with wisdom. So what were they going to find wrong with him? Well, you find that they said, “It's only in his worship of his God.” So they found him praying – he usually prayed three times a day. They brought this knowledge to the king, and it's very interesting that Darius realized he'd been conned – realized that they had taken advantage of him – and he liked Daniel.
Daniel 6:16 Daniel 6:16Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spoke and said to Daniel, Your God whom you serve continually, he will deliver you.
American King James Version×– So the king gave the command and they brought Daniel and cast him into the den of lions – of all the laws of the Medes and Persians, you can't change them – he had to do it – but the king spoke, saying to Daniel, "Your God, whom you serve continually, He will deliver you." Now Darius must have had some contact with Daniel. He knew about his worship. He heard about all that had gone on, perhaps, in the past. The next morning he runs to the lions den and he says, “Daniel, are you alive?” Daniel says, “Yes sir, I'm here. God sent angels to shut the mouth of the lions and I've been delivered.” So then the king took those who accused Daniel and cast them into the lions den. And before they hit the floor they were torn to shreds. The lions were so hungry. They're just pussy cats to Daniel. And he goes around to pet them, and talk to them, and sit there, and got a good nights rest waiting for the door to open. And these men were killed. Notice verse 25 – again, interesting. Now the decree goes out.
V-25 – Then King Darius wrote: To all peoples, nations and languages that dwell in all the earth. Peace be multiplied to you. I make a decree that in every dominion of my kingdom men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel. For He is the living God, and steadfast forever; His kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed and His dominion shall endure to the end. He delivers and rescues and He works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, who has delivered Daniel from the power of the lions. So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian. It was Cyrus who allowed the Jews to go back to Jerusalem, if you'll remember.
Now this decree went out to the whole empire again. Not only does Babylon hear about it, now the Medes and Persians hear about the God of Daniel, and it goes out to the empire. Every time Satan tried to undermine the plan of God or to destroy the servants of God at this time, God intervened. They had to stand up for what they believed, but God turned it back on his enemies and God intervened on his behalf.
So the rest of the book – we won't read to Daniel 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 – are all prophetic. God revealed many visions to Daniel. He told him about future events and many of them are for our day today and for the future. The first six chapters were a little different. The first six chapters have a lot of prophecy in them, but this interpersonal relationship, that shows you how the servants of God were faithful, obeyed God and how God intervened on their behalf, and in so doing, how God witnessed to the leaders of those empires. It is interesting that God prophesied there would be four world ruling empires to come along.
And I say that at least one of His representatives testified and witnessed to each one of them. What do I mean by that? Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego did to Babylon, Media and Persia. What about Alexander the Great and Grecian? The only historical account that we have of Alexander ever coming in contact with the religion – the God of the Bible: he had come to Palestine, destroyed Gaza and he went up to Jerusalem – this is according to Josephus in The Antiquity of the Jews…. He went up to Jerusalem and when he came the High Priest, Jaduh had had a dream the night before that he would put on a purple robe, put on his miter with the name of God, go out and meet Alexander. Now while Alexander was in Macedonia. Alexander had a dream that he saw this individual dressed in purple with this miter that he was going to meet, and that in the dream, he was told, “Go conquer, because I will lead your army.” So he meets the high priest, he sees all these priests dressed up, and bingo! This is what my dream was all about. He goes up to the temple with the high priest and they offer up a sacrifice in the temple. The high priest shows him the book of Daniel – in the book of Daniel, where it says that there was going to be a King of Greece who would conquer the whole world – and guess what Alexander surmised? “That's me!” So therefore, he praised God, sacrificed to God and went on his way. So God – whether He recognized it or not – God actually inspired a dream to Alexander, inspired a dream to the high priest, brought them together, and he had to acknowledge that the God – this is what Josephus said – he acknowledged and paid homage to the God of Israel.
What about the Roman Empire? You might remember Paul was thrown in prison and what did Paul say? "I appeal to Caesar." So he goes to Felix, he goes to Agrippa – he sees all of these lesser kings – he's finally taken to Rome and he sees Caesar. What did he tell Caesar? Well, we don't have the record of what all he said to Caesar, but you know what he said to Felix, what he said to Festus – what he said to all of these other kings – you pretty well have an idea what he probably said to Caesar. “This is how I was called. This is what I did. This is how I'm being accused. This is what I'm saying – preaching. And you know that he was let go after that.
In time, the Roman system of government is mentioned in Revelation, chapter 17. You might just jot down Revelation 17. There are ten kings mentioned there – ten horns featuring ten kings. There's also a great ruler called the beast who is mentioned, and there is the religious leader who directs and sits on top of that very beast. This is the same power described in the book of Daniel, chapter 2 – pictured by the ten toes. Ten kings, ten toes. The book of Revelation clearly shows that, at the end time, there will be two men – servants of God, who God will call – who will stand up and resist the great false religious leader and the great political leader who will help to unite Europe – the beast power together – and will fight against Jesus Christ when He returns.
Let's notice in Revelation 11:3 Revelation 11:3And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and three score days, clothed in sackcloth.
American King James Version×– this certainly does tie in with today, Feast of Trumpets.
Revelation 11:3 Revelation 11:3And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and three score days, clothed in sackcloth.
American King James Version×– And I will give power to my two witnesses and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth. If anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner. Now notice verse 15.
V-15 – Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ and He shall reign forever and ever!" He will reign forever and ever. Isn't that what we found in Daniel 2 – the stone being cut out, striking the statue, filling the whole earth – things and events being described. God will not leave – never has left – the nations without a witness. He did with ancient Israel. He did with the start of many of these 10 trial empires. And God will, at the very end time. And Daniel was an example and a witness to the kings – two kingdoms back at that time.
Remember I asked you the question, “Have you ever had anybody say to you what they thought of you?” How would you like God to come down, send you a message – maybe on Facebook, leave a message on your cell phone. What would He say about you? Well, let's notice in Daniel 9:23 Daniel 9:23At the beginning of your supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to show you; for you are greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision.
American King James Version×the message that God sent to Gabriel and to Daniel.
Daniel 9:23 Daniel 9:23At the beginning of your supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to show you; for you are greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision.
American King James Version×– At the beginning of your supplications the command went out and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved…. Would you not like to know that you are greatly beloved of God?
Same thing is said in Daniel 10:11 Daniel 10:11And he said to me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright: for to you am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood trembling.
American King James Version×.
Daniel 10:11 Daniel 10:11And he said to me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright: for to you am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood trembling.
American King James Version×– And he said to me: "O Daniel, man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you.
He said the same thing in verse 19. God's message to Daniel is, “Well done, you're greatly beloved. You're doing what's right.” What about us? The word greatly beloved there means to delight in greatly, have a great desire for, to be precious. Daniel was somebody who was very precious in God's sight.
2 Thessalonians 2:13 2 Thessalonians 2:13But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brothers beloved of the Lord, because God has from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:
American King James Version×– But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you brethren, beloved by the Lord. You realize that you and I, likewise, are beloved by God. The word there means to be loved. It comes from agape – from that root – and God loves us.
So you and I have been called today. We've been called for a purpose and a reason.
Let me summarize for you very quickly for what we've learned from Daniel. Daniel and his friends never compromised God's way. If God said it, they did it, and they did not compromise, even, almost every time, under stress of death. When confronted with life and death situations, they always obeyed. And they had to obey as young men. In other words, they were so convinced, even as older Kings and young adults – that they would not compromise God's way.
As a result of their obedience and where God positioned them, God gave a warning to the gentile rulers of Babylon and Media and Persia. God has given a warning or witness to the major ruling empires down thru the ages. God will do the same at the end time. And God has called us for what reason? Why are you in the church today? Matthew 24:14 Matthew 24:14And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations; and then shall the end come.
American King James Version×.
Matthew 24:14 Matthew 24:14And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations; and then shall the end come.
American King James Version×– And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness – that's one reason. God is preparing us to rule with Him in the Kingdom. The one is to take the gospelas a witness today.
Daniel was a man who was greatly beloved of and by God. We likewise are loved by God so much so that He was willing to give His only begotten Son. The book of Daniel was there to give us a glimpse of the future. The book of Daniel was also written for our encouragement. We obey God. He will bless us. It shows what happens when a person obeys and does what is right. So remember this: You and I are beloved of God.