I am on vacation until the 6th August. While away, I am posting some short thoughts on Daniel…
How do you view the world? How do you view yourself? Are you pleased with what you have accomplished in school, sports, music?
Are you popular? Are you liked? Are you unpopular or disliked?
How much of who you are and what you are and where you hope you are going do you think is down to you?
Most of us, if we were truly honest, have had that moment when we have said to ourselves – I am GOOD; I Did it; I am Talented; I am Cool; I am the Man!
What is presented to you by our society is that you can be what you want to be. You can achieve what you want to achieve. You can fly as high as you want.
Is that not the American dream? You have within you all that is needed to make you successful – you just need to try harder!
Also, power, authority and status (and money) are the places to crave – to aspire to. If you have power, authority and status (and money) you are strong – anything else is seen as weakness.
The point of Daniel 4 is that no matter how far you fly, how powerful you become, how good you are, how popular you become God is the ultimate source and determiner of your future and your place.
What you achieve, you do so ONLY because God has given it to you. When we stop realizing this then we are in danger.
This is why, in all we do we must do it FOR GOD and for NOBODY ELSE.
Nebuchanezzar was the ruler of the known world.
He was as powerful as you get – as important as you get. For him he had accomplished a lot. He was the ruler – he was the victor – he was the dude – everyone wanted to hang with him, to please him, to get his attention. He was the center of everything.
He was about to go through a tough lesson.
And it’s a lesson we need to learn, not just for now, but for the rest of our lives –
GOD IS SOVEREIGN.
having supreme rank, power, or authority.
supreme; preeminent; indisputable: a sovereign right.
greatest in degree; utmost or extreme.
being above all others in character, importance, excellence.
Which means that there really is only one person you need to worry about, God. But for most of us we only think about God a few times a week, at church or youth group or bible study.
But God is involved in every aspect of our existence.
One of the most famous passages of scripture can easily slip by us in its meaning – Matthew 28 says ALL AUTHORITY IN HEAVEN AND ON EARTH HAS BEEN GIVEN TO ME.
All authority is God’s and he has given that authority to the incarnate Christ.
This was the lesson Neb was going to learn.
Chp 4 is Neb’s testimony of how he came to change his worldview – how he realized that there was something more about life.
Do you have a testimony of what God has done in your life? Can you write down your testimony of how God has changed you – from the then to the now? A testimony is not just about WHEN you were converted to Christianity because for many the process was a journey which happened over time.
We should have many testimonies – some big, most small, about how God has been involved with our lives, how we have seen him move and act and help us and bless us and encourage us.
That is why I think it is so important to write down the experiences we have – whenever we say “Wow, God showed up” write it down – no matter how small the situation – so that you can look back and see how God has moved in your life.
Neb has a dream and Daniel is called to interpret it. And Daniel knows the gravity of this dream. God is going to do something to Neb which is frightening.
But the purpose of this, Daniel says, is so that Neb will know that GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER THE NATIONS.
Neb has seen the power of God. He has experienced God’s help in interpreting dreams but he has not yet acknowledged that this God should be his God.
And God is about to bring him to the place of knowing that.
And Daniel knows that the easier why for Neb would be to repent right now – give his life to God. Daniel almost pleads with him to change – v27 Therefore, Your Majesty, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue.”
God never judges for the sake of judging – he judges to turn people to him. He judged Israel so that they might turn back to him and he judges Neb in the same way.
The purpose of God’s dealings with Neb was to convince the King that there is NO OTHER WAY TO LIVE LIFE.
The choice before Neb was this – repent, give ALL your life to God, live life for God now, or Get floored by God and then give your life to God.
And God floored this great King by removing everything from him – his power, status, position. To some extent what had happened to Israel and to Daniel happened to Nebuchadezzar – he was stripped of everything!!
THIS IS SO AMAZING BECAUSE IT SHOWS THAT GOD IS JUST AND RIGHTEOUS. HE JUDGES ALL WHO IGNORE HIM, BE IT THE ISRAELITES OR THE KING OF BABYLON, THE CHRISTIAN OR THE ATHIEST.
My question to you this evening is this – Does God need to floor you?
That is a frightening thought. But if we persistently refuse to do what God asks of us and yet we call ourselves believers God will at some point floor us. For Neb it was a full year after Daniel had made his interpretation and challenge.
Neb had reverted back to thinking it was all about him – walking in his garden admiring all that he had made – and God steps in.
God will step in into our lives and floor us if we continue to ignore him.
But the point that God brings Neb too is two fold:
1. Neb realizes exactly who God is and it changes him. This chapter is remarkable coming from the King of Babylon – he says in v34 that he looked to the Most High and he honored and glorified ‘him who lives forever.’ It worked – Neb changed – he recognized God for who he was.
He then goes on to say his dominion is an eternal dominion one and that no one can hold back his hand.
2. That he is not to be the same person – he is to have a different view of authority and power because he knows it comes from God.
Biblical faith is not about letting go of authority or power but about its right use, especially on behalf of the powerless.
Is your life one of serving God and being a servant? Are you one who champions those who are weaker, especially at school – who stand up for truth, who fights injustice. Do you use your position to protect those who are bullied, or those who are ridiculed, or those who are shunned, or those who are friendless.
But, you might say to me, you don’t understand what would happen to me if I do that – people will think I am a dork, or a loser.
SO WHAT. This is not about you – its about God and if you refuse it God will floor you – eventually!
A powerless Daniel, a captive and exile, who has lost everything and whose God is in apparent disgrace stands before the most powerful king on the earth and tells him he is wrong and he needs to repent and that God will cut him down if he does not.
Daniel put his life on the line to do what he must do for God.
No less than that is the call God has asked of YOU!!