The next two weeks we will review some of the key lessons we can learn from the book of Daniel and how we can apply these to our lives. This week we will review chapters 1-6 which are historical and cover the entire 70 years of Babylonian captivity plus the early period of the rule of the Medes and Persians. Next week we will look at chapters 7-12 which are prophetic; both God’s prophetic plan for the Gentile nations and His prophetic plan for Israel.
1. “In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. The Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand.” (Dan. 1:1-2) The Lord used Babylon as His rod of judgment for Israel. [“When a nation (like Israel or America) ceases to abide by principles of righteousness, it is a nation that is worthy of God’s judgment against them. As the Proverb writer stated, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).”] http://preachersfiles.com/gods-dealings-with-nations/ What can we do (or more accurately, what can you or I do) to respond to God both as an individual believer and as a citizen of America? [“A great evangelist was asked how revival begins. His answer: Go home, draw a circle around yourself, and pray until everything inside that circle is right with God. When it is, revival will be upon us. Can a national awakening begin with you? Denison Forum on Truth and Culture 17304 Preston Rd Suite 1060 Dallas, TX 75252-5618 Copyright © 2012. All rights reserved.”] As I have said before, God’s purifying discipline of Israel is greater than any other nation because of the amount of revelation they received directly from God and because of His purposes for their nation. However as Proverbs 14:34 says, righteousness exals a nation, any nation, and God deals with individuals and nations to bring people to salvation and to increasing Christ-likeness. God’s passive judgment (Rom. 1:18-32) of America is very apparent and increasingly so regarding unjust leaders. (Daniel 4:17)
2. “But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank.” (1:8) Reputation is what people think about us, but character is what God knows about us. Daniel was a man of godly character and was more concerned about pleasing God than fitting in with those around him. One of our greatest temptations is to seek affirmation from man versus trying to get it from God by playing to an audience of One. Jesus says in John 5:44 that yielding to peer pressure will adversely affect our trust in God. Why is this true? What can we learn from Daniel about this?
3. Where do you feel the pressure of “Babylon” (the world) most in your life? How can Romans 12:1-2 help us as believers? These verses show us the key to knowing and experiencing God’s perfect, passionate love for us if we go to him in humble obedience to know and do His good, pleasing and perfect will. Read Mark 4:19 and discuss the three rivals in this verse that compete for our whole-hearted love for God and yet never satisfy our souls.
4. [“There is no greater place to display the power of God than in a hostile environment. A hostile environment does not mean that we cannot be godly people. We try to change the environment, but there is no better place to learn dependency on the power of God.’’ http://www.kenboa.org/search/?q=DANIEL] How can we display the love and truth of God among the sphere of our relationships through greater dependency on Him in an increasingly godless America?
1. “It is He (God) who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings. “And in the days of these [final ten] kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, nor shall its sovereignty be left to another people; but it shall break and crush and consume all these kingdoms and it shall stand forever.” (Dan. 2:21, 44 ) [“Daniel was written to encourage the exiled Jews by revealing God’s sovereign program for Israel during and after the period of gentile domination. The Times of the Gentiles began with the Babylonian captivity, and Israel would suffer under gentile powers for many years. But this period is not permanent, and a time will come when God will establish the messianic kingdom which will last forever. Daniel repeatedly emphasizes the sovereignty and power of God over human affairs. “The Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses” (4:25b). The God who directs the forces of history has not deserted His people.” Wilkinson, Bruce ; Boa, Kenneth: Talk Thru the Bible. Nashville: T. Nelson, 1983] One very important lesson from the book of Daniel is to see and understand God’s plans for the nation of Israel. My teachings are based on what is called premillennial dispensationalism and shows the distinct program for Israel and the church which I think is clear both in Daniel and many other passages in the Bible including Paul’s teaching on this in Romans 9-11. This will affect our prayers for Jerusalem/Israel and our desire to uniquely reach out to Jewish people based on provoking them to jealousy for Jesus, as well as our political position on the dividing of the land. In Genesis 12, God says I will bless those who bless you (Israel) and curse those who curse you. This has serious implications for individuals and nations.
2. “In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever.” (Dan. 2:44) “For the LORD will not abandon His people on account of His great name, because the LORD has been pleased to make you a people for Himself.” (1 Sam. 12:22) How can we know that God will protect Jerusalem/Israel against its hostile enemies? And why will He protect her? When Paul (by the Holy Spirit) says that “all Israel will be saved” (Rom. 11:26) who is he referring to and when will this happen? What is Replacement Theology and what Scriptures disprove it? When will Jerusalem/Israel have true and lasting peace? What is our part in the meantime?
”Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Dan. 3:16-18) Do you have “if not” faith and faithfulness to God, to obey and worship Him no matter the cost? How does this line up with what Jesus said in Luke 14:26,33? How did Paul state this in Philippians 3:7-8?
”He is able to humble those who walk in pride.” (Daniel 4:37) [“In 1 Kings 15:5 we find a bittersweet epitaph which begins, “David had done what was right in the eyes of the Lord and had not failed to keep any of the Lord’s commands all the days of his life except in the case of Uriah the Hittite.” Will history remember David Petraeus with the same caveat? We must never assume that present obedience guarantees future faithfulness. While our culture segregates religion from the “real world,” you and I should never make the mistake of self-reliance in guarding our integrity. “There but for the grace of God go I” is the right response to Gen. Petraeus’s sin and our temptations.” [email protected]] “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (1 Corinthians 10:12) “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time.” (1 Peter 5:6) How can we humble ourselves under God’s hand and thus avoid His humbling us to break our pride?
The Handwriting on the Wall – The party’s over – “God has numbered your kingdom and put an end to it. You have been weighed on the scales and found deficient.” (Dan. 5:26-27) 1) for the nation and its leaders – look at Belshazzar the king; 2) for unbelievers – look at the party and how it ended suddenly (Psalm 73:1-19); 3) for ourselves – look at Daniel and see how the Lord honors his faithfulness. (See Dan. 6:1-3) “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” (Gal. 6:7) There is a one to one ratio of obedience and reward, but the full recompense is only in heaven. (Hebrews 11:6, 39)
“Then they answered and spoke before the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or to the injunction which you signed, but keeps making his petition (prayers) three times a day.” (Dan. 6:13) Daniel’s commitment to God was non-negotiable – The greatest act of dependence on God is the amount of time we spend in prayer. ”But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.” (Luke 5:16) Why is alone time with God so critical? This includes listening to God through His Word and talking to God by asking for His purposes, provision, and power to honor Him by serving our sphere of relationships for Hs glory, day by day.