Daniel-Wayne Barber/Part 1
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2006|
|If we’re going to study Daniel, there are three requirements that we’re going to have to meet, and if we don’t meet them, we might as well hang it up. We’ll never understand what’s being said in this precious book.|
Three Requirements for Studying Daniel
Well, turn to the book of Daniel. I want to talk about three requirements for studying the book of Daniel. If we’re going to study together, there’s going to have to be three things we’re going to have to measure up to if we’re going to get anything from it.
It’s a hard thing to admit when you’re wrong. I hate to do that worse than anything. Of course, it’s only once or twice a year! But I really hate to do that. For years I have been saying that it’s not necessary to study prophecy. And I’ve said that basically I’m more of a practical person, let’s live today! It’s all going to take care of itself one day anyway. But I have to admit to you tonight that I’ve been wrong. As a matter of fact I began to study and realized that one-fourth of all Scripture is prophecy. Do you realize that? One-fourth of the Bible is prophecy. Can you imagine taking your Bible tonight and cutting it into four pieces and taking one and throwing it away and studying the other three-fourths? Look at how much you’ve missed when you don’t study prophecy. And when I say that “you,” I’m referring to myself. Not only that, but one-fifth of all Scripture was predictive when it was written, and most of that has already been fulfilled. And not only that, some of the things that we love to talk about and study about in Scripture is all wrapped up in prophecy.
For instance, the Lord Jesus is the main theme, whether directly or indirectly, in all of prophecy. You want to know about the Lord Jesus, you want to know why it’s wrong not to believe He’s God’s Son? You go back and realize the prophecy of His coming, it is incredible what’s in prophecy about the Lord Jesus. Not only the Lord Jesus, Israel. And everybody’s wondering about Israel. There are some people, as I was in South Africa preaching in a particular denomination there, we ran across some folks who believe that Israel was completely done away with when the Lord Jesus came and the New Covenant began. And they say now that the wheat and the tares grow side by side, therefore they don’t see any future for the nation of Israel. Somehow they can’t seem to get into their minds in the New Testament it doesn’t say “Israel” and the Greek are one in Jesus Christ. It says the Jew and the Greek, speaking of individuals out of the tribe of Israel who will come as a remnant to know the Lord Jesus Christ. It has nothing to say about Israel. Israel is still God’s people, folks! And He’s not through with them.
There are some people who say, “Oh, no! We’re God’s people now!” Yes, we are. But God has a plan for Israel. God chose them and we know that there’s a history to Israel, and you don’t understand that until you understand prophecy. It’s all wrapped up in prophecy. God is not finished with Israel yet.
Well, not only is Israel mentioned in prophecy, but we also find the Gentile nations. Now, that’s important to you and me, because that’s where we come from. We need to be interested in the Gentile nations; what’s going to happen to the Gentile nations. And I guess the one question that’s facing everybody in the twentieth century is, “How is this age going to end?” How in the world is all this going to come to a head and every bit of that is wrapped up in prophecy, and everything I just spoke about is found in the book of Daniel.
Folks, this is the most exciting book I guess I’ve ever gotten hold of. I’ve said that about every book we’ve studied, but I really mean that as far as Daniel is concerned. I remember last year coming out of Romania and flew over to Switzerland and caught that plane coming to the United States of America. And as I flew out I picked up a Newsweek magazine. And in the Newsweek magazine it had a history of World War II. You know, I’ve never really sat down and read a lot about World War II. I’ve always been interested in it. A great big special section, about an inch thick, great big old copy, I think it was US News and World Report or one of those things. And as I started reading it I thought, “Man, I’ve got all kinds of time—ten hours. I’m just going to read this thing through.” While I was reading that thing I got down to where Hitler invaded Paris. And it was so interesting how it talked about how he really surprised them about that invasion. And about that time the pilot up front of the plane said, “Ladies and gentlemen, if you’re sitting on the right side of the plane,” which I was, “if you’ll look out your window, just to the right there, it’s the city of Paris.” I couldn’t believe it! I was just reading about Paris, how Hitler moved in on that city. And then we moved on and I’d read a little bit further and the pilot would come on and it was almost like I was getting a travel log to that magazine I was reading. And I got to thinking, “Man, oh man.”
And I got the same feeling when I was studying the book of Daniel. Folks, you watch the newspapers, you’re watching things happening. Our young people don’t seem to understand that there’s more history taking place faster right now than ever in the history of man, going on right before our very eyes. It’s almost like we’re on a plane and we’re taking the Word of God that’s already been God-inspired and God-breathed and the pilot of this plane comes over the microphone and says, “Ladies and gentlemen, while you’re studying the book of Daniel, if you’ll just look out your window to the right, notice what’s happening over here. Oh, and by the way, if you’re sitting on the left of the plane will you look right over here.” Folks, it’s happening right before our very eyes.
And it’s all found in the book of Daniel. If you want to know about the end of the age, if you want to know about what God has prophesied of what will take place in history, it’s all there in God’s Word. Well, if we’re going to study Daniel, there are three requirements that we’re going to have to meet, and if we don’t meet them, we might as well hang it up. We’ll never understand what’s being said in this precious book. Now, I don’t know if I’ll get to all three of them this time, but guarantee I’m going to get one of them. And the first one is this: the inerrancy of the prophets.
The Inerrancy of the Prophets
The inerrancy of the prophets. These are convictions: you’re going to have to be convicted of the inerrancy of the prophets or you’re absolutely dead in the water when it comes to studying God’s Word. What do I mean by that? I mean that the prophet cannot err in what he prophesied. You must realize that about the Old Testament prophets. Now, the Old Testament prophet was a lot different from those people going around proclaiming themselves to be prophets today. Quite different. Some of these quacks, they get on the thing and predict certain things to happen, and they hit and they miss and they hit and they miss. Man, you can’t do that and qualify to be an Old Testament prophet.
I remember several years ago, somebody got in the paper and put a prophecy down that a large stadium during a football game was going to fall down and they believed it was going to be in the state of Kentucky. I’ll never forget it. And that particular weekend I was going to Western Kentucky to see them play some team. And when I walked in the stadium I kept thinking about what I’d heard on the TV and what I’d read in the newspapers that a large stadium in the state of Kentucky was going to fall during the football game. And I thought, “Now, that’s just hogwash. Those people don’t know what they’re talking about.”
But I happened to be sitting right underneath the great big balcony that would have fallen. And I remember sitting there during the game and every time I’d feel the stadium move—and they do move, by the way—I’d look up. And I began to plan, “Now, if that thing falls, where am I going to go?” But, you know, after the game was over I had expended a lot of emotion and that stadium was still standing. That was a false prophet, folks! That prophet was nothing like what we’re talking about in the Old Testament.
You must realize that when a prophet would prophesy, they had to be exactly right every time or they were not considered to be a prophet. Now, once you get that down in your thinking, you’ll be able to follow through. Because, you see, most of what a prophet says has not taken place, so you look and see what has been said and what has taken place and you’ve got to hang on. If it says it’s going to take place, then you’ve got to believe it’s going to take place. That’s the inerrancy of the prophet.
There are two things about a prophet. Let’s look at them under this heading, “The Inerrancy of the Prophet.” First of all, the calling of a prophet. Now just who are these guys? I want you to see first of all that they were raised up by God. Turn to Deuteronomy 18. This will be a good time to learn the books of the Bible because we’re going to jump around. Deuteronomy 18: They were called by God, they were raised up by God, and the people were supposed to be listening to those prophets. God intended to speak to the people through the prophets. Of course, you know that Israel decided they didn’t want a prophet any more. They wanted a king; and they messed up. God told Samuel, “Don’t worry, Samuel, they’re not rebelling against you, they’re rebelling against Me.”
Verse 18 of chapter 18. Of course, this is referring to the Prophet of all prophets, the Lord Jesus, but it says in verse 18: “I will raise up a prophet from among your countrymen like you and I will put my words in his mouth and he shall speak them to all that I command him.” Verse 19 says, “And it shall come about that whoever shall not listen to My Words, which he shall speak in My Name, I Myself will require it of him.” So you see, a prophet was raised up and especially the Prophet of all prophets, the Lord Jesus, which we find right here in Deuteronomy 18. They were raised up and God said, “I will put My Words in their mouth and they will speak to you and you had better listen unto them.”
So they were not self-appointed, they were God-raised up. As a matter of fact, they were chosen from all different kinds of society. There were the priestly prophets like Samuel and Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. There was the aristocracy like Isaiah. And then there were the common prophets like Amos. It doesn’t really matter what rank of society you came from. God almost, it seemed like, at random would pick a man here or pick a man there or pick a man over here and he would become His prophet and He would raise him up. They were called forth of God to speak the Words of God and the people were to listen to the prophets. God chose them to speak to the people. They were called, they were raised up.
But then, secondly, I want you to see the characteristics of a prophet. What were these guys like? Who were these people and what were their lifestyles like? First of all, they lived in a close relationship with God. Matter of fact, one of the names for prophet in the Old Testament, they’re called “men of God” or a “man of God.” Now go to 1 Samuel 9:6. And this is, of course, referring to Samuel as they go up to him, Saul and his men. But it says in verse 6, “And he said to him, ‘Behold now, there is a man of God in this city and the man is held in honor.’” Don’t let me read that too fast. “And he said to him, ‘Behold, there is a [what?] man of God in this city.” And he’s referring to the prophet Samuel.
Now turn with me to 2 4. And by the way, get ready to go back and forth from 2 Kings to 1 Kings. We’re going to do that for a minute or two. Second Kings 4, speaking of Elisha, called a holy man or a man of God. Look what it says in verse 8: “Now there came a day when Elisha passed over to Shunem, where there was a prominent woman,” a Shunemite woman, “and she persuaded him to eat food. And so it was, as often as he passed by, he turned in there to eat food. And she said to her husband, ‘Behold now, I perceive that this is a holy man of God passing by us continually.’”
Now, because they were men of God, and because they were known as the holy men of God, because they had a close relationship with God, they were feared. You know why? Because whenever sin was present in the camp, that holy man of God usually brought forth the judgment of God. You don’t want to see a prophet, brother, when there’s sin in the camp, because God would speak His judgment to those people through that prophet. As a matter of fact, let me give you an illustration. Go to 1 Kings 17:18. This is after the lady’s son dies, and Elijah is dealing with it. This is Elijah now, not Elisha, and this lady’s son has died, and look what she says in verse 18: “So she said to Elijah, ‘What do I have to do with you, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my iniquity to remembrance, and to put my son to death!” She had misinterpreted why he was there and thought that because he was there her son had died. And so they feared the prophets. Why? Because the prophet normally is a man of God, is a holy man of God, walking in close relationship with Him, having been raised up by God would pronounce the judgment of God.
Well, secondly the prophet only had one purpose and that was to be a servant of God. Another title found in the Old Testament, rendered to all the prophets, is a “servant of God.” Not only a man of God, but a servant of God. Matter of fact, this is a title for all prophets in 2 Kings 9. Here we go, back to 2 Kings. They were servants of God. All the prophets were servants of God. Second Kings 9:7: “And you shall strike the house of Ahab your master, that I may avenge the blood of My servants [the what?] the prophets.” All the prophets were God’s servants. They were men of God, they were servants of God.
Now, go back to 1 Kings 18, and we see this as a mark of Elijah. Servants of God: men of God, servants of God. First Kings 18:36, “Then it came about at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near and said, ‘O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, today let it be known that Thou art God in Israel, and that I am Thy servant, and that I have done all these things at Thy word.” As a matter of fact they were such servants of God that they believed very strongly that they were sent forth by God.
Now go over to Isaiah 6. This isn’t one of those messages that makes you want to go to the mission field, but I think it’s what we have to do if we’re going to understand the book of prophecy. We’re going to have to realize what a prophet is. God raises them up; they’re holy men; they’re servants of God. Of course this is in the year of King Uzziah’s death when Isaiah saw the Lord. Isaiah 6:8, “Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go of Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’ And He said, ‘go, and tell this people: “Keep on listening, but do not perceive; keep on looking, but do not understand.”’”
And look with me in Jeremiah 26 as it speaks of Jeremiah as one who is sent from God. I want to make sure you have a distinction in your mind for the prophets of the Old Testament and what some people talk about as prophecy under the New Covenant. There’s quite a difference. Jeremiah 26:15, “Only know for certain that if you put me to death, you will bring innocent blood on yourselves, and on this city, and on its inhabitants; for truly the Lord has sent me to you to speak all these words in your hearing.” So then they were men of God, they were raised up of God, they were servants of God, and they were sent forth by God.
But the third thing and I think this is the most exciting thing about a prophet: a prophet was an interpreter of historical events in light of God’s sovereignty. Can I say that again? I think that might be profound. A prophet was an interpreter of historical events in the light of God’s sovereignty. There are so many people today who don’t understand the sovereignty of God. Man, they get all nervous and bent out of shape when things start happening in countries and in nations. Friend, God is in control. And only through the prophets of the Old Testament does He reveal history in light of His sovereignty. As a matter of fact, Israel could not be understood, what’s going on in 1948. If you’d have gone back to 1945 people would have laughed in your face that Israel could ever be a nation again. Friend, way back in the Old Testament it was prophesied that it would be and they became a nation in 1948 and we began to look at the Word of God, and in light of God’s sovereignty, we began to see history and we began to understand how to interpret it.
As a matter of fact, prophecy arises out of history, it interprets it, and it keeps pace with it. A lot of people say that you can’t go to the Word of God and find anything historical. Well, that’s the most off the wall thing I’ve ever heard. If you want to find out what history is all about, friend, you better go to the Word of God because Israel is the center of all prophecy. As a matter of fact, Israel is the center point of the whole world today, and everything happens somehow in light of what is going on in Israel. And it’s all right here in the Old Testament. A prophet was an interpreter of events in light of God’s sovereignty. As a matter of fact, God would reveal His secrets to the prophets.
Now turn to the book of Amos. Amos 3, he revealed His secrets to them in verses 7-8: “Surely the Lord God does nothing [now watch this] unless He reveals His secret counsel to His servants [the who?] the prophets. A lion has roared! Who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken! Who can but prophesy?” So we see that the Lord would reveal history through His prophets and we begin to see it in light of His sovereignty.
So first of all then, they are men of God, they’re called men of God. Secondly, they’re servants of God. Thirdly, they’re interpreters of history in light of the sovereignty of God. But the fourth thing I want you to see tonight is that all prophets spoke by the inspiration of God. God inspired them to speak. Now. let’s go to the New Testament, 2 Peter 1:20-21. It says in verse 20, “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation.” My wife and I just got back from doing a retreat in Virginia. And I know it was interesting how the men of that church had been going through some struggles and their struggles were not over what God had said, their struggles were over doing what God had said. And I shared with them that it should never be a struggle. God’s will absolutely must be done at any cost. If we’re ever going to have disagreements, folks, let it be over what God has said so we can come to agree. We need to understand that if you differ with me, one of us is wrong. And when you finally get right with God and we agree, we can go on! No! But let’s argue over that, let’s discuss that. But let’s never find ourselves arguing over, once we’ve discerned what God has said, whether or not we’re going to do what God has said. Scripture is no private interpretation.
Verses 21 says, “For no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” And that’s to me is just incredible. These are men raised up of God, men who spoke many times things they didn’t even understand themselves. But they simply became a mouthpiece for God and God would begin to reveal His judgments and reveal His plan, both past, present, and future through these prophets of the Old Testament. As a matter of fact, look with me in Hebrews 1:1 and we’ll find that the prophets didn’t have all of it together. You can’t find any prophet—I guess Daniel is the most complete—but you don’t find any prophet who has every piece of the puzzle. Each one of them has a differing piece of the puzzle. Hebrews 1:1, “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers [how?] in many portions and in many ways.” You see, one prophet had this piece of the puzzle, another prophet had that piece of the puzzle, and they themselves many times didn’t even understand all that they were saying. They were totally moved by the Holy Spirit of God. It was a totally God-initiated move. It was a man raised up of God and a message that only God could have given through that man. And the people were to listen to it.
Well, look with me in 1 Peter 1:10-12: “As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful search and inquiry, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look.” Isn’t it incredible the privileged generation we live in? Those prophets couldn’t understand it all. They didn’t know when He was coming. They didn’t know anything except what God was putting on their hearts about the sufferings of Christ. But now we know Him personally and He lives in our life. And we can look back and look at all the prophets, and we can see the picture come together. That’s exactly what’s going to happen as we look at the book of Daniel. What a privileged time to study a book of prophecy.
So, the inerrancy of the prophet: he cannot be wrong. If a prophet was ever wrong, he disqualified himself of being a prophet. Called of God, he was raised up of God; he lived in a close relationship with God as a man of God. He was a servant of God; he interpreted history in light of God’s sovereignty. And all prophets spoke by inspiration. And, folks, we come to the book of Daniel, don’t just flippantly look into it. Because unless you have this nailed down, you will not get the message that God wants us to have in the book of Daniel. Man! If you’re going to read through it for awhile, I trust that you will. When you get to chapter 7 just stop. We’ll get there together soon enough. That’s when it’s going to get tough. The first few chapters are going to bless your heart. It’ll all come to mean something to you. I wanted to go on and finish this tonight but I’m just not going to do it. I’ve got too much I want to say on it, so I’m going to just let you off the hook. I’ll get you next time.
Start reading through the book of Daniel. You know, folks, do you love this Book? Do you love this Book? When you get to the book of Daniel, brother, you’re going to start realizing that God’s already got it under control. I think the one thing that grabs me so much is, man, I gripe and fuss and complain half the time. You get in the book of Daniel and you realize God has been in control the whole time. Last night, when my wife and I got off the plane and found out that the city was flooded, I said, “Well, can’t I rent a car?” And they said no, that parts of I-75 and north Georgia are also closed. We can’t even take a bus? We’re going to have to stay in a hotel and I thought to myself, “God, why would you do that? I’m ready to preach. Now I could understand if I’d been messing around last week and didn’t have my message ready. But how come You’re not going to let me go?”
I called Brother Spiros, and—I loved his spirit—he said, “I’m the emergency preacher, I’m ready.” I don’t know why I had any doubt that he’d be ready or not. But you know, I’ve been sick the last several days, and today I realized that I really needed some rest and as I came in this afternoon I thought, “You know, God had something to say through Brother Spiros that the church needed this morning. God’s in control.”
Man, they did the same thing back in the Old Testament. “God, why are You doing this?” And God would say, “Would you just relax, you couldn’t handle it if I told you.” I think about old Habakkuk, bless his heart. “Lord, when are You going to do something?” And God said, “Habakkuk, would you sit down and shut up. You can’t handle it.” “Lord, when are You going to do something? “I am doing something Habakkuk.” “What are You doing Lord?” And He said, write this down, “I’m raising the enemy to power.” And old Habakkuk had to back up a little bit and clear his throat four or five times, and then he comes back and tries to impress the Lord with all the good things he can say about Him. And then he finally gets in his two cents worth and he says, “God how you put up with all those mean people?” In other words, how are you doing that? God says, “Habakkuk, you wouldn’t understand if I told you. Now, you just do what I tell you and you’ll be alright. I’m in charge of this situation.” And finally He reveals to Habakkuk what He’s doing. Toward the last part of the book, you find a different character, don’t you? He says, “Oh boy, when the vine bares no fruit and the fields are barren, I will wait patiently upon the Lord.” Cause it finally dawned on him who was in control. Folks, if you don’t believe that, then you’ll have trouble with Daniel. I want to go on but I can’t. Let’s pray.
Father, we just thank You so much for just the excitement that comes from thinking about the fact that You’ve already got it planned as to how history will end. And, Father, we thank You for the book of Daniel. We thank You Father for the prophet Daniel. We thank You Lord that in chapter 1 verse 8 he made up his mind that he would not defile himself. And we thank You, Father, for how You honored him because he answered the highest calling of obeying You. Lord, I just pray tonight that as we begin to get into this book, we’ll recognize Your sovereign Hand on everything that is going on, whether You’re allowing it or initiating it, Father we know You’re in control and we praise You for that. We thank You Lord that we’re just to be in the flow of whatever You’re doing. We love You and we thank You for these prophets of old, Father, that through them we now can reap a benefit as we look at Your Word. In Jesus’ name we pray.