There are two primary messages seen in the book of Daniel: 1) God’s prophetic plans for the nation of Israel and His dealings with Gentile nations/leaders during the “time of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24). God reveals Israel’s future national restoration at the end of the Tribulation (Romans 11:26) in order to encourage them and in order to instruct us as Gentiles to not go against God’s plan for Israel (e.g., to not divide the land/Jerusalem – Romans 9-11). 2) God’s message to every individual as we see the sin of Nebuchadnezzar (pride) and the godly examples (faith, humility and obedience) of Daniel and his three friends. In this lesson we will see a general summary of the first point and a more in-depth look at the second point so we can apply the message to our own lives (especially as it relates to pride in our relationship to God).
1) God’s prophetic plans for the nation of Israel and His dealings with Gentile nations/leaders during the “time of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24) – [“This chapter portrays the pride of the Gentile world powers and God’s sovereignty over them (cf. 4:17, 25, 32 and 2:21). The message to Israel: God will break the Gentile nations and bring them in subjection to Himself. Again a parallel with 2 Thessalonians 2 and Revelation 13, 17, 19 (the Antichrist , the man of sin is crushed).”] http://www.kenboa.org/search/?q=daniel [“The Scriptures make it clear that Nebuchadnezzar was declaring himself to be a god and demanding worship. But the worship was to be directed at the statue he had erected. And even the numbers involved are clues: A statue 60 cubits tall, 6 cubits wide and to be worshiped when 6 instruments are played. And we know from the book of Revelation that 666 is the number of the Antichrist. This is the Hebrew parallel poetic style the Bible was written in. The Lord expresses Himself through repeated events, occurrences and ideas. Here, the Bible is giving a foreshadow of the religious system of the Antichrist. The Book of Revelation prophesies that the Beast, or the Antichrist, will be a global ruler. He will have power over all people and his religious system will be based on the worship of him. (See Revelation 13:6-8) Like Nebuchadnezzar, the Antichrist will proclaim himself to be god. He will be worshipped by all of the people on the earth who do not have Jesus Christ as their Savior. There are no exceptions in his system once it is established. And it is enforced and directed by his cohort, the False Prophet. The False Prophet will emerge on the public scene at the same time as the Antichrist and be a spiritual leader who promotes the Antichrist as “The One”, the messiah the world has been waiting for. And with his words and false miracles he will encourage the world to set up an “image” of the Antichrist. (See Revelation 13:14-15) So again, we see the parallel. The image of the beast, whether it be a statue or hologram, or whatever it may be, is where all worship is to be directed, under penalty of death. Just like the golden statue. This is the similitude that the book of Hosea (12:10) is speaking of. It is a repeated idea or theme from ancient times to future prophecy. They are all throughout the Bible. The king becomes a beast, the king’s heart is going to be replaced with a beast’s heart. A transformation is going to overtake him that would literally make this wealthy, powerful king act like an animal. This chapter is rich with foreshadowing. For one, we see the global king being compared and transformed to a beast. And of course in Revelation, the Antichrist is constantly referred to as “the beast.” We also see that the length of the punishment of Nebuchadnezzar is “seven times” which is interpreted as seven years. This is the length of the final end-time period of the earth known as Daniel’s 70th week. The 70th week is the time when the beast or Antichrist makes his ascent to global power and rulership. And we know that Satan will be supernaturally empowering the Antichrist to perform miracles, wonders and secure his unrivaled power.”] http://beginningandend.com/nebuchadnezzar-666-foreshadow-of-the-antichrist-3/ The difference between Nebuchadnezzar and the Antichrist is that he repents and the Antichrist doesn’t. (Daniel 4:34-37; Revelation 19:20)
2) God’s message to every individual as we see the sin of Nebuchadnezzar (pride) and the godly examples (faith, humility and obedience) of Daniel and his three friends – “Nebuchadnezzar the king to all the peoples, nations, and men of every language that live in all the earth: “May your peace abound! It has seemed good to me to declare the signs and wonders which the Most High God has done for me.” (4:1-2; see Psalm 107:2 KJV) It seems that Daniel recorded Nebuchadnezzar’s testimony as he spoke it (inspired Scripture) and then sent it out to his entire kingdom. Wow! That would be like Ahmadinejad repenting and testifying to the UN and the world that Jesus is his Lord and Savior; except Nebuchadnezzar was far more powerful (the king of the known world) than Ahmadinejad is today. (Read Nebuchadnezzar’s testimony in chapter 4.)
“Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the LORD; be assured, he will not go unpunished.” (Proverbs 16:5) [“Pride is not a circumstance. It’s a state of mind. It’s an equal opportunity agent of Satan—his absolute specialty. We can become as proud of our self-discipline, sacrificial giving, and self-denial as of our worldly successes and goals.” Beth Moore, Daniel, p. 71] The sin of pride is the first and worst sin of God’s creatures and it is seen most clearly in Satan, the Arch Rebel. “You said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly; on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain.” (Isaiah 14:13-14) But it is also seen in mankind when Eve, tempted by Satan but not under his power, chose to disobey God’s clear instructions even with His warning of death (physical and spiritual death – Gen. 2:17; 3:2-3) and Adam was silent (Gen. 3:6). Believers are not immune to this most serious sin as seen in Romans 8:7-8: “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Although this passage refers primarily to unbelievers, Paul makes it clear in Romans 7:14-25, 1 Corinthians 3:1-4, and Galatians 5:16-20 that believers can walk in the flesh and be insubordinate and hostile to God; i.e., be proud in heart. A sign of maturing as a believer is increasing humility before the Lord and people. (Matt. 11:28-30; Phil. 2:3-8) Thus we need to heed this message on God’s dealings with Nebuchadnezzar’s pride.
One of the lessons I saw about myself is how Nebuchadnezzar resisted the obvious reality of the One true God for years (34 plus) through the amazing witness and character of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Likewise I resisted the witness and reality of God as I grew up in the Bible belt, went to church on Sunday until college, heard God’s Word and still rebelled until age 38 when God broke and humbled me with the tragic death of my first wife. I would like to blame my parents, the preacher, and everyone but myself but that just reveals my pride. (Adam and Eve did a lot of blaming – Gen. 3:10-13) The first three chapters of Daniel are filled with godly examples of him and his three friends in both their respect for the king’s rule over them and their higher respect for God. Also God inspired Daniel to do the miraculous in both revealing the king’s forgotten dream (chapter 2) and then interpreting it. In chapter 3 we see the absolute trust and surrender to God in Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and one of the most supernatural deliverances of God in the entire Bible. Yet Nebuchadnezzar only adds God as one of the many deities to worship. And even here in chapter 4, after Daniel supernaturally interprets another dream about how God will reduce Nebuchadnezzar to an animal unless he repents and then gives him a year to do so, Nebuchadnezzar refuses to submit to God and then brags to himself about his might, power and glory. Woe! “Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?” (4:30) Nebuchadnezzar forgot that he was a mere creature totally dependent on God for his next breath and totally accountable to God for how he lived every minute. And we have memory lapses of our creatureliness. (See 3D video on the vast empire of Babylon that Nebuchadnezzar bragged about at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EPc6Gn9-zs&feature=youtube_gdata_player)
“Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?” While the word was in the king’s mouth, a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared: sovereignty has been removed from you, and you will be driven away from mankind, and your dwelling place will be with the beasts of the field. You will be given grass to eat like cattle, and seven periods of time (seven years) will pass over you until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind (you and me) and bestows it on whomever He wishes.” Daniel 4:30-32
Proverbs 21:4 “A proud heart is sin.” Proverbs 6:16-17 “These things doth the Lord hate, a proud look.” Proverbs 16:5, “Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord.” Proverbs 8:13, “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil, pride, and arrogance.” Proverbs 16:18, “Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 29:23 “A man’s pride shall bring him low.” Proverbs 11:2 “When pride comes, then comes shame.”
“All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” (1 Peter 5:5-6)
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION AND APPLICATION
1) We see from Scripture both God’s hatred of pride and the antidote to pride: humble yourself or God will do it for you; a la Nebuchadnezzar and many other proud men. Please “humble yourself” and share at your table this Friday a) one example of how God has humbled you over the years, and, b) how and where you are now choosing to humble yourself.
2) Why is it so important to understand God’s prophetic plans for the nation of Israel? What current foreign policy issue makes this understanding so critical? (Ezek. 36:22-28; Zech. 12:3)
3) What is your main take away from the message and how can you apply it to your life?
I have attached a teaching I did on Andrew Murray’s book, HUMILITY –THE CARDINAL VIRTUE OF CHRISTIANITY and will teach on this on November 16 and 30. (We will not meet Friday November 23, the day after Thanksgiving.) Please read this document in two sections and answer the questions for our table discussions. Section 1 – Chapters 1-6 for Friday 11/16; Section 2 – Chapters 7-12 for Friday 11/30.