Daniel-Wayne Barber/Part 7
By: John Ankerberg Show
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2006|
|There are so many practical truths in the book of Daniel. Do you realize that pressure is probably one of the greatest ways of testing godliness? You put a Christian under pressure, you find out a lot about where that person is in his walk with God.|
Godliness in the Face of Pressure (Daniel 2:1-11)
Turn with me to Daniel 2. I thank the Lord for the music today that just so points us to praising God Who is in control, absolutely in control. And we see that in Daniel so beautifully. Of course, this is the chapter that we see the great panorama of history just laid out, we see what happens in the latter days. And if you’re excited about getting into that, I hate to pop the bubble, but we’re not going to get there this time. There’s a little bit of ground work we need to do in chapter 2, but next time we’ll be getting into the dream that God gave to Nebuchadnezzar and oh, how thrilling it is. We hope to have a little insert in the bulletin next week with the statue that was revealed in the dream to Nebuchadnezzar that has the kingdoms on it. Oh, folks, this is going to get so thrilling. How the stone is cut out of a mountain not made with hands, and how that stone crushes that statue at its feet, and oh, me, how God sets up His kingdom on this earth. It’s going to get real good!
But don’t think that today is not going to be good, too, because it’s the first part of chapter 2. Don’t run ahead of us. Do you realize that we would not have that great panorama of history that we have, the prophecy of what will take place in latter days, if there hadn’t have been a Daniel, a man who said, “I will not defile myself. I will honor God regardless of what it costs me.” That’s chapter 1:8, and because Daniel honored God, God honored Daniel. And we have it recorded for us in this precious book in this time.
Well, I want to preach this morning on godliness in the face of pressure; godliness in the face of pressure. There are so many practical truths in the book of Daniel. Do you realize that pressure is probably one of the greatest ways of testing godliness? You know, you squeeze the lemon and what’s on the inside comes out. You put a Christian under pressure, you find out a lot about where that person is in his walk with God. Godliness, when I mention the term godliness, I mean your walk, where you are in your walk with God. You know, it’s interesting that Job, you don’t really know a lot about Job until he’s under pressure. I mean, for instance, this is the argument Satan gave back to God. God said, “Hey, have you considered My servant Job?” He said, “Aw, come on man, You’ve got a hedge around him. You’re not going to let anything touch him. How do You know he’ll trust You or not?” God said, “Hey, I’ll take you up on that. But you can only do what I’ll allow you to do.” And that’s good to remember, he’s on a leash; Satan is directly on a leash. And so He allows him to do certain things in Job’s life. And it’s when Job has lost everything and he’s under tremendous pressure that he makes that statement that so rings in our ears. He says, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.”
You see, pressure forced out of Job where Job really was in his belief with God. But sometimes pressure doesn’t always reveal the things we want to be seen, especially by others. For instance, it was pressure that caused Elijah to run from Jezebel. Now, there are some mean women out there! And Elijah had just seen God conquer the gods of Baal and the priests of Baal and this rascal, he’s got Jezebel coming after him, and buddy, he flees, he runs from her. Under pressure, he runs! And the next time you find him, he’s feeling sorry for himself, sulking, and God comes to him and he says, “Oh, God, I’m the only one who hasn’t bowed my knee to Baal.” And God says, “You rascal! You only missed it by 7,000. There are 7,000 others who haven’t bowed their knee.” It’s amazing: pressure, what it brings out of Elijah.
It was under pressure that Abraham lied to the Pharaoh and said, “Sarah’s not my wife, she’s my sister.” What had he done? It was under pressure that Simon Peter said to a little girl who said, “Listen, you were with them, weren’t you?” And he said, “No, I don’t even know Jesus Christ.” And she said, “Yes, you do. I know who you are.” And he cursed, to make it even that more emphatic that he didn’t know the Lord Jesus Christ.
Pressure does funny things. It lets you see where you are at the moment in your walk with God. And we’re going to see Daniel under severe pressure in chapter 2. Now, he’s been under pressure since we started the book, but I wonder what we’re going to see about him. I wonder if he and his three friends are going to fold. I wonder if they’re going to run out from under their stand of not defiling themselves. Well, I’ll go ahead and free up something for you: if they ever fail the Lord in their consistency to obey Him, it’s not recorded in the Word of God. Thank God for four men that stayed consistent and even under pressure show that they can still stand and honor God regardless of what it will cost.
Now in chapter 2 we see some pressure of a different kind. It’s not persecution, and you’re going to see that later on. It’s not persecution at all. As a matter of fact, they’re not bothering anybody. They’re in the king’s service, they’re going to work every day, and they’re just doing everything like their supposed to be doing it. They haven’t done a thing, and a predicament comes about in their lives and we want to see how they respond; not react, but respond, to that pressure.
So let’s jump right in. Verse 1, chapter 2, “Now in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar.” Now, that’s far enough. Some people, the liberals particularly—I mean, these guys really make great comics—they say, “You see there, there’s a contradiction in the Word of God: ‘Second year in the reign of Nebuchadnezzar.’ It says in chapter 1 that the boys had to be in school for three years before they could be put in the king’s service. We know they’ve already been in school three years, now look: second year of the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar. You see there, there are contradictions in the Word of God.”
I tell you, some people are just so smart. They don’t understand that if you’ll go back and study the history of these people, they didn’t sometimes record the official year of the reign of a king until sometimes he’d been in office for two years. They had a different way of doing things. Why in the world, when we see something like that, do we automatically think there’s a contradiction? If you’ll just study a little bit of history, a little bit of culture, it’ll tell you that. Many, many times it was the second year of the reign, but it would be the first official year. So it was the second official year of Nebuchadnezzar being the king.
“Nebuchadnezzar had dreams.” Boy, did he ever! “And his spirit was troubled and his sleep left him.” Now this is quite a dream, or dreams. Now one of the things I want you to note some place in your Bible or on a piece of paper, write down the fact that God is beginning to move visibly in Nebuchadnezzar’s life. God’s been moving in his life for a long time, He raised him up; He’s the One who established his kingdom. He’s the One that pulled him down to take over His people in order to purify them because of their disbelief. But Nebuchadnezzar is a proud rascal and he wouldn’t recognize that. And so God begins to start moving in his life and he starts having these dreams as God begins to give them to him.
It’s interesting, all the predicament that took place in Daniel and his three friends’ lives result because of God doing something in Nebuchadnezzar’s life. Isn’t it incredible? God is always doing something, folks. He never slumbers and He never sleeps. And what’s going on in your life, because you can’t understand it, may not be the result of anything you’ve done. It may be God doing something in somebody else’s life, but God is doing something in Nebuchadnezzar’s life. So he has these dreams and he cannot interpret them.
So, what does he do? Verse 2, “then the king gave orders to call in the magicians, the conjurers, the sorcerers and the Chaldeans, to tell the king his dreams.” It’s interesting that he didn’t call Daniel. In 1:20 it says that Daniel was ten times wiser than all of his magicians. But for some reason or other he doesn’t call Daniel. Daniel and his friends are not even informed of what’s going on. They have to be informed later on. And he calls these men in and tells them he wants to understand his dreams. They must interpret it for him. Verse 3, “And the king said to them, ‘I had a dream, and my spirit is anxious to understand the dream.’ Then the Chaldeans spoke to the king in Aramaic: ‘O king, live forever! Tell the dream to your servants, and we will declare the interpretation.’ The king answered and said to the Chaldeans [now, before you get to cocky about this thing], ‘The command from me is firm: if you do not make known to me the dream and its interpretation, you will be torn limb from limb, and your houses will be made a rubbish heap.’”
In other words, don’t speak up too quick! You better hear what I’m saying! Verse 6, “But if you declare the dream and its interpretation, you will receive from me gifts and a reward and great honor; therefore declare to me the dream and its interpretation.” You know, it’s interesting what they do. It’s immediate that they recognize the urgency of this command and they realize the seriousness of not being able to do it. So watch what happens. “They answered a second time and said, ‘Let the king tell the dream to his servants, and we will declare the interpretation.’ The king answered and said, ‘I know for certain that you are bargaining for time [these rascals; they’ve already got a strong suspicion that they were in water over their heads] inasmuch as you have seen that the command from me is firm, that if you do not make the dream known to me, there is only one decree for you. For you have agreed together to speak lying and corrupt words before me until the situation is changed; therefore tell me the dream, that I may know that you can declare to me its interpretation.’”
Now, you want to see some weaseling! I want you to watch what these wise men do. The king puts them on the spot. “I know you’re bargaining for time, but, buddy, I want to know the interpretation of this dream. That’s what you’re here for, that’s what you’re hired to do.” Listen to what it says in verse 10, “The Chaldeans answered the king and said, ‘there is not a man on earth who could declare the matter for the king.’” They set themselves up. It’s amazing how you watch this plot thicken. There is not a man on earth—is that right?—“inasmuch as no great king or ruler has ever asked anything like this of any magician, conjurer or Chaldean.”
You know what they’re doing? They’re accusing him of being insensitive. In other words, “What are you doing asking us this kind of stuff? Nobody else would do it to their magicians.” It kind of sounds like your children sometimes when you tell them to do something, doesn’t it? “Well, Dad! No other Dads make their kids do this!” Anyway, verse 11—I just rang a bell, didn’t I? —“Moreover [now watch this], the thing which the king demands is difficult, and there is no one else who could declare it to the king except gods, whose dwelling place is not with mortal flesh.”
Do you know what they’re saying? They’re saying, “We can’t get in touch with our god. And they’re the only ones who could do this.” Well, bless their little sweet hearts. Why don’t they change gods? Their gods won’t communicate with them. I’m telling you, folks; look first of all in Deuteronomy 4:7. I get just a little bit excited in this book. Boy, you’ve got skeptics everywhere. Look at this: here’s the kind of God that we have. He’s the kind of God that not only can be communicated with, but He wants to be communicated with. He’s the kind that makes Himself available to His creation. It’s not like the gods of this world. You take the gods of this world and you put a man in a dire situation and you find where their gods are at that time. They can’t help them when they’re under pressure, they can’t help them when they’re in the valley. Only our God can help us when we’re in the valley. Deuteronomy 4:7 says, “For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as is the Lord our God whenever we call on Him?”
Isn’t that precious? But I’m so grateful that when I cry out to my God, He hears me and not only hears me, but He answers me. But the problem with these guys is they were serving gods that they couldn’t communicate with. Well, bless their hearts! I was in a class when I was in college: World Religion. I took it because I liked the teacher and he was real easy. But it was a good class. And one day he was talking about the fact that we ought to have a missions burden and a missions heart to get around the world to tell people about our God being the One true God, the only God. And we had an intellectual in our classroom. Man, the guy made me want to slap him every time he opened his mouth. And he wore these little round horn-rimmed glasses and he’d come to class, his hair all combed back, he was always the smart aleck in the class. I didn’t like him. Maybe us dumb guys never did like smart guys.
And I remember one day the teacher made that statement and the intellectual raised his hand. “Professor,” I could tell from the start that this was going to be downhill. “What right do we have to go to other countries and tell them that our God should be their God? Why, they worship Allah, they worship Buddha, why not let their god be their own god?” Man, our professor took his glasses off. That was something, because he couldn’t see past the first row with his glasses off. He took his glasses off, walked out from behind that rostrum and for 20 minutes I’ve never heard a message any more precious on who God is and the fact that He came to die for us and what Christ has done for us. And he said, “You name me another religion that the central object of that religion has ever died on a garbage heap for the people he said that he loved. And then resurrected the third day and ascended back into heaven.”
When he finished that thing, friend, it was like two points! Man, he dunked that thing! He slammed it home. They couldn’t communicate with their god. Well, bless their little sweet hearts. That’s what their problem was: they had the wrong god.
Well, this just irritates Nebuchadnezzar. Verse 12, “Because of this the king became indignant and very furious, and gave orders to destroy all the wise men of Babylon.” At first you think that’s good, they deserve it. But wait a minute! Daniel is one of the wise men! Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego with their Babylonian names, they’re some of the wise men. And all of a sudden they’re caught up in a predicament they had nothing to do with. They don’t know this whole thing is even going on. And all of a sudden a decree is out that they are going to be killed. Talk about pressure! You’ve got pressure this week? I doubt very seriously that it’s greater than what they faced.
Now, watch this. How did Daniel handle this pressure? Wasn’t persecution. It was simply a king was mad at his magicians and in anger declared that all of them be killed. How did Daniel handle that kind of pressure? That’s really the basic I want to talk to you about this morning. First of all, you might want to write this down: he didn’t panic.
He didn’t panic
Verses 13-16: “So the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they looked for Daniel and his friends to kill them,” because they were part of the wise men. Verse 14 says, “Then Daniel replied with discretion and discernment to Arioch.” Now notice how he goes with this: with great integrity. You see this all through Daniel. He never went through an authority that he did not go with great respect and integrity and character. “So he replied with discretion and discernment to Arioch, the captain of the king’s bodyguard, who had gone forth to slay the wise men of Babylon; he answered and said to Arioch, the king’s commander, ‘For what reason is the decree from the king so urgent?’ Then Arioch informed Daniel about the matter. So Daniel went in and requested of the king that he would give him time, in order that he might declare the interpretation to the king.”
What’s he doing? Friend, listen. He’s not panicking. He’s trusting his God to get him out of this stuff. Immediately, he doesn’t run, he doesn’t frustrate anybody, he simply says, “I need to make a request. I need to see the king. If you’ll give me some time, I’m going to pray and my God is going to give me the interpretation of this dream.” Now friends, when pressure moves in on your life, remember who’s in control. You see, the Hebrew prophets had a wonderful understanding of the sovereignty of God. I remember sitting in a seminary class and I heard a professor say, “Well, the Hebrew people were just ignorant. They thought that every time in rained, God made it rain. They thought every time there was a famine, God made it have a famine. And they were just ignorant. Why, you ought to go onto the Greek thinking. They were more analytical.” And what they were really saying is you ought to come ask us because we’re really smarter than all of them. About the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard in my life.
Praise God for these Hebrew people who understood the sovereignty of God. You know, John MacArthur said something to me that has run a bell in my mind that I so agree with. He said, “One of the most refreshing doctrines of Scripture to me is the sovereignty of God.” God is always in control. Whatever is going on, He never slumbers, He never sleeps, so when things happen that you don’t expect, when things move in on you that you hadn’t planned on, don’t panic, don’t run, God’s in control. Trust Him for the answer. Exactly what he did. He didn’t go to anybody else. He said, “If you give me some time, and that’s all I need. You give me some time and I will have the interpretation for you. My God, my God will come through.” No panic. No panic.
Look what he does in verse 17. Instead of panicking, he prays. “Then Daniel went to his house and informed his friends, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, about the matter, in order that they might request compassion from the God of heaven concerning this mystery.” Now he’s going to ask them to intercede because, as the verse goes on, “so that Daniel and his friends might not be destroyed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.” It makes it appear that he didn’t pray, but he got his friends to pray. But you’ve got to go to chapter 6 to understand the habit of Daniel. In chapter 6 you find Daniel being told by the king, another stupid decree. Darius has come on the scene, the Medo-Persian Empire has moved in, and he tells them that they cannot pray to any god for thirty days. They must simply worship him as the king.
Well, Daniel’s not going to stop doing what he’s been doing all his life. He’s up in his 80s by this time—he’s about 17 years old here. And so what happens is they put him in the lion’s den as a result of that. You see, Daniel prayed in the morning, Daniel prayed at noon, and Daniel prayed at night. Three times a day. Just like the psalmist says, “Yea, I will seek you in the evening and in the morning and at noon time.” It was a habit of his life. So we have to understand that he was certainly praying when he got his friends to pray with him. So, folks, when pressure moves in, godliness reflects itself first of all by not panicking. But secondly, by praying. And not only by praying ourselves, but getting others of like mind to pray with us. Why? So that God might deliver them from that situation.
Now, if you’re not real careful you can draw some wrong conclusions here. If you took chapter 2 and you built a theology off of it, you could be in trouble if you tell people that every time you believe God can get you out of a situation, God’s going to do exactly what you tell Him to do. Now, that’s not what’s taught in Daniel. That’s what happens here; the principle here is that he trusted God. You see, God may not have chosen to do that. If you’ll go over to chapter 3, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego certainly didn’t want to get in to the fiery furnace, and certainly they would have prayed, “Our God, deliver us!” But remember their statement? Our God is able, but even if He doesn’t, we’ll still not bow our knee. We don’t know what His purposes are.”
And so in their situation, God chose not to deliver them from the situation, but in the midst of the situation. So you’ve got to see balance in the Scripture. I’m not saying that every time you pray God’s going to do exactly what you want Him to do. God’s going to do what’s right, period. And it may not be what you wanted Him to do, but it’ll always be right. You don’t have to defend the character of God. It defends itself. So remember that: don’t get the wrong idea when we say he prayed and it happened the way he prayed. But this specific time, the key is, he turned to God. He didn’t panic, he didn’t go to man for man’s answers. He went to men that were around him to pray with him that God might deliver them in this situation.
When you’re going through a difficult time and pressure has moved in on you, just trust God. Just trust Him. And don’t go to find man’s wisdom, go to find God’s wisdom. And don’t panic: pray! And you can always tell how much you’re trusting God by how much time you spend in prayer. You can always write that down. You’re trusting God to the degree that you’re praying to Him. Because prayer is not twisting His arm, prayer is letting Him know you’re dependent upon Him and if He doesn’t come through, you’re sunk. That’s the key: you’re trusting God regardless of what He does.
I’ve said many times, we’ve been trying to sell our house. I don’t know what in the world is going on. You know, sometimes I believe I wish that God would give me a hint. If I could wake up in the morning and He’d write something in the sky and I could see it for a fleeting moment. “Tomorrow at 3:00!” Gotcha! But He doesn’t do it that way. I don’t know what He’s doing, but Daniel’s telling me something. Daniel’s saying, “Hey, Wayne, stop trying to figure it out. Just trust Him. He’s got something better than what you expected anyway.”
Oh, friend, remember Lazarus? I love it! In John 11, Jesus had heard, Martha and Mary sent Him a note. They said, “Lord, the one whom You love is sick.” And He gets the note and He sends a message back and says, “Don’t worry; the sickness is not unto death.” So when do they get the note? On the day that they bury Lazarus. And old Martha and Mary say, “Oh, thanks a lot! Sickness and not end in death and we just buried him. Who is this guy?” You see, the Lord didn’t say he wouldn’t die. He just said it wouldn’t end in death. Everybody misses that. So Jesus decided since he was sick, He’d wait three more days. And when He got there, it had irritated Martha and Mary. Martha runs out to Him and says, “Lord, if you’d have been here he wouldn’t have died.” Mary, the more silent one and the more discreet one, finally came to Him and said the same thing. You see, they wanted a healing, and God wanted a resurrection. What they had in mind was so far away from what God wanted to do it was incredible. But they thought since He hadn’t come through and done what they wanted Him to do, that God just wasn’t on the scene. God had something greater.
After they said that, Jesus said, “Where is he? Where is he?” They pointed him toward the tomb and he said, “Alright, roll the stone away.” And Martha, full of faith, said, “Oh, Lord, he stinks by now.” I can see the Lord, “Cool it, Martha! Just shut up!” And after they had rolled the stone away, the Lord stood there in front of the tomb. He said, “Lazarus!” Aren’t you glad He said “Lazarus”? Buddy, if He hadn’t have said Lazarus every dead corpse in the whole area would have walked out of the grave. He’s the resurrection and the life. Who do you think He is? But He said “Lazarus,” and old Lazarus jumped out of that place and said, “Yes, sir, here I am!” Front and center. They took the grave clothes off him and turned him loose. You see, they wanted a healing and they got bitter toward God because He didn’t have a healing. God wanted a resurrection.
So that’s the balance in that praying stuff. Hang on to that. When you pray something and God doesn’t do it the way you wanted Him to do it, you hang on. Don’t you ever think you have to defend the character of God. What He does is right, folks. He is a righteous God and can never deny what He is by what He does.
Well, the third thing I want you to see is he didn’t panic, he prayed, and here’s the real essence of the message. I had someone tell me one time that I’m the craziest preacher because I spend more time on one point than I do the other two. Well, nobody ever taught me, so you just hang in there. I’m hurrying to get to this point. When God came through, and He did come through, look at verse 19, “Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel [God chose to do it the way Daniel asked] in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven;” That’s what I want you to see. You can truly tell the character of an individual, not only when he’d under the pressure, but when God has relieved the pressure, how he properly responds in giving praise back to God.
Give praise back to God
Boy, a lot of people forget it and walk off and it’s done with until the next time they go through a bad time, using God as if He’s some cosmic bellhop. Listen, friend, a true, godly person, once he’s been delivered in whatever way he’s been delivered, gives all the praise back to God, and can say nothing but good things back to Him. The word “blessed” there means he said good things. It means to say good things back about God. What did he say about Him? Seven things he praised Him for that I found in this. Look at it.
“Daniel answered and said, ‘Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever.’” Don’t let anybody ever for one second stop saying anything but that which is good about God, because He’s a good God. It says first of all “for wisdom and power belong to Him.” Man, if we could only learn that. Wisdom and power belong to Him. Boy, so many people take the great commission: “All authority has been give unto me. Go ye therefore,” and they start thinking they’ve got the authority. And they start going around acting as if they could be little gods just because they use a certain phrase or use the name of Jesus, that it’s their authority. No, sir! It’s still His authority. And it’s only on loan to us, friend, according to the degree of surrender we have to Him. If there’s any authority in me or in you, you better give Him the glory for it because in Him is all power and wisdom.
But then the second thing he praises Him for: “And it is He who changes the times and the epochs.” Oh, I love that. If you’re going through a season of trial in your life, hang on, friend. Only God can change that season of time in your life. He’s the one who moves things this way and moves things that way. He’s in control.
And then he says, “He removes kings and establishes kings.” Anytime you see the word “king” you can also interlace the word “kingdom.” So He establishes kings and kingdoms. God does that. I want to tell them that sometime. Wouldn’t it be great if we turned on the ABC news one night or the CBS new, or the NBC news or the CNN news and the commentary would say, “I’ve come to an understanding of something.” And all of America goes, “What?” “God’s in control.” I can see people, “That boy’s freaked out. Turn the television off and watch cartoons.” Nobody believes that.
The fourth thing, “He gives wisdom to wise men.” That’s interesting. Why do wise men need wisdom? “And knowledge to men of understanding.” Do you know what I think he’s talking about? I think he’s talking about people that are smart enough to understand that they have to depend on Him to give it to them. People that are wise enough to come to Him for it is the ones that He gives it to; People that are understanding enough to realize that they cannot figure life out. They’re going to have to come to God and get His perspective. He gives wisdom to them.
And then the fifth thing: “It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things.” And then the sixth thing, “He knows what is in the darkness.” And then the seventh thing: “And the light dwells with Him.” He just praises God for what He has done. Has absolutely no thought of any self glory for coming up with the interpretation of this dream. And verse 23 says, “To Thee, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, for Thou hast given me wisdom and power.” I didn’t get it on my own, I don’t deserve it. “Even now Thou hast made known to me what we requested of Thee, for Thou hast made known to us the king’s matter.”
But it doesn’t stop there. I want you to notice as he goes on in verse 24 and 25 what happened: “Therefore, Daniel went in to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to destroy the wise men of Babylon; he went and spoke to him as follows: ‘Do not destroy the wise men of Babylon!’” By the way, did you realize the wise men of Babylon, the pagans, were saved because of the righteous influence of one man? I doubt they ever thanked him for it. “Take me into the king’s presence, and I will declare the interpretation to the king.” Then Arioch hurriedly brought Daniel [I guess so!] into the king’s presence and spoke to him as follows [Now notice how vain this guy is], ‘I have found a man [you little dummy] among the exiles from Judah who can make the interpretation known to the king!’”
Now Daniel has the best opportunity he’s had yet to take glory for what he’s done. Watch this: “The king answered and said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, ‘Are you able [now watch it] to make known to me the dream which I have seen and its interpretation?’” Are you able? “Daniel answered before the king and said [I love this], ‘As for the mystery about which the king has inquired [he makes sure the king understands this], neither wise men, conjurers, magicians, nor diviners are able to declare it to the king.’” Got that king? Write that down there. None of your men could do it. Is that right?
Verse 28, “However, there is a God in heaven [don’t you love it? He doesn’t take any credit. I’m not able, but there is a God in heaven] who reveals mysteries and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will take place [When? What does it say, you tell me] in the latter days.” You put a circle around that. That’s what his dream is all about. Not just then, he’s going to give him a preview of what’s going to take place in the latter days. It hasn’t yet taken place on this earth. He’s going to tell Daniel what’s going to take place. “This was your dream and the visions in your mind while on your bed.”
Well, I know you want me to go on, because this is when it starts getting real exciting. I want you to study it for yourselves this next week. I want you to see who the head of gold is. I want you to see if you can figure out who the silver is that is the shoulders and upper torso. I want you to see on the statue who the bronze is, the belly and the thigh. And what the iron, the legs of iron, and the feet of clay, baked clay and iron, and the toes. I want you to look at that and you study it this week. And see if you can figure out who those kingdoms are. And who do you think the stone is, that’s cut out of a mountain not made with hands. And what do you think the kingdom is that’s going to be established on this earth. I hear people today say, “Oh, there’s not going to be a millennial kingdom. Can’t be. The kingdom’s already here.” If that’s the truth and you go back to Daniel, you tell me in chapter 2, why it is when that kingdom is here there are no other kingdoms on earth? They’re all eradicated. That’s interesting, isn’t it?
Well, there are a whole lot of things we’ll get into before this thing is over with. The key is, how do you respond under pressure? Godliness in the face of pressure.
You know, I love my children. I’m going to brag on my son. He played his last game at his high school. I know he wanted to have a good game that night. He’d started scoring and was just having a lot of fun. He had just found himself on the team or whatever; I don’t know all the ends and outs of that. Last game they played this year in a tournament, he hadn’t been in the game more than two minutes and got two fouls on him. Coach set him on the bench.
He sat there for almost the whole first half. Shot two times the whole game. Came back, the second half, started the second half and wasn’t in the second half more than about 30 seconds and got the third foul. And the coach set him back down. He sat there for the whole part of the second half almost, and got in a little bit, but didn’t score a point. Not one point. I told my wife after the game, “He’s really going to be down. I need to be with him.”
Walking out to the car with him, he said something to me that blessed me. I said, “Son, how are you doing?” He said, “Fine.” “Fine?” He said, “Yea. You know, Dad, if God’s sovereign, and if I did the best I could do, and that’s what took place, I can’t go back and erase that, can I?” “No, no.” “Then why should I get down about it? I’m just going to trust the Lord. Evidently He’s doing something that I don’t understand in my life.”
I wanted to run out in the parking lot and scream, “That’s right, that’s right!” You know, sometimes our kids do a whole lot better job at it than we do, don’t they? What’s going on in your life? Are you griping, complaining, and murmuring? Get off that kick. What’s God up to? Why won’t He do what you want Him to do? I tell you what, because you don’t have Him on a string, friend. He’s got you. There’s a pair of unseen hands in your life controlling what’s going on. Now, how you respond, that’s the kick, that’s the deal.