Daniel - Sees the Cross and the Crown        

A Sermon preached at Plymstock Chapel on 27/11/05

In 605 BC Nebuchadnezzar carted off the best young Jewish men to Babylon.
      To university - Daniel, in his late teens, was among them.
In the 2nd year of their training Nebuchadnezzar was troubled and sleepless.
      He had several muddled dreams and demanded an interpretation;
            but he couldn't or wouldn't tell them what his dreams were.
      As a young and successful warrior
            he was probably impatient with the old astrologers.
      They replied, What the king asks is too difficult,
            no-one can reveal it to the king except the gods,
            and they do not live among men.

Wrong - on two counts:
      1. There is only one God. The great Creator of all the universe, the "I am",
            the King of kings, the Lord Almighty, ...
            the Most high God - as Daniel often used to call him -
            He is the one and only God.
            All other gods are satanic inspired delusions. They do no really exist.
            Baal, Dagon, Asterti, Diana, Allah, Buddha, the many Hindu gods.
      2. This Sovereign Lord is so gracious and merciful he loves to dwell with men.
            From the garden of Eden this has always been God's purpose and delight.

To prove this truth the Lord Almighty revealed the dream to Daniel.
      And in far greater detail than even Nebuchadnezzar could remember!
And he also told Daniel exactly what it meant.
      Nebuchadnezzar was impressed!
      Even the Babylonian astrologers who were saved from death were grateful too.
Nebuchadnezzar had seen a statue of gold, silver, bronze, iron, and iron and clay.
      For God wanted to reveal what would happen in days to come.
Four great world empires would arise - Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome.
      The metals showed them to be strong, powerful and prosperous.

Why is this relevant to us now?
      Isn't this all just a slice of history - albeit quite a large slice?
The Lord God revealed what would happen in the last days.
      To us, now!

1. The 4th empire of iron (Rome) will become mixed with clay.
      The Caesars will become the Czars and Kaisers.
The federation of nations will become brittle, unstable and corrupt;
      Like the blasphemous, God defying EU or the UN
            and finally a One World Government led by the Beast of Rev 13.
            What President Bush described as 'The New World Order'.

2. Daniel then tells of  a rock that was cut out, but not by human hands.  234
      Jesus was conceived in the womb of Mary,
            not by the will of man, but by the power of the Holy Spirit.
            This glorious Rock of Ages has already triumphed over sin and death.
            Satan thought he had won when the Lord of Glory hung on a Cross -
                  how wrong he was.
            When Jesus cried, "It is finished", the darkness turned to light.
            The Lamb of God, the Rock, the rejected Cornerstone, had triumphed.
                  And the kingdom of Heaven was opened to all believers.
            Daniel here is shown and sees this triumph of the Cross.
            But there would be some 2000 years when wickedness seems to prevail.
            One day soon, out of the ashes World War III,
                  when ¼ of the world's population will die,
                  there will arise a world ruler, the great Satanic beast, the Lawless One.
                  His rule will be brittle, unstable, corrupt - and brief.
                  He is more blasphemous and God defying than any other.

But God reveals to Nebuchadnezzar, and to us, that the Rock, Jesus, will come.
      He will smash all the man-made world empires to little pieces,
            so small that like dust they will be blown away like chaff in the wind.
      Their value is seen to be - like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer!

... The God of heaven will set up a new kingdom, one that will never be destroyed ...
      God has shown the king what will take place in the future.

Just over 2½ thousand years ago God revealed this truth to a heathen king.
      He wanted him to know who rules and who determines what would happen.
Our God is always the King of kings and Lord of lords!
Daniel clearly told him that it is God who determines the course of world events;
      he removes kings and set others on the throne.
  221 (NLB)

God teaches Nebuchadnezzar Lesson #1. God wears the Crown.
      We also need to learn this lesson!

Nebuchadnezzar was so impressed that he made the young graduate Daniel, Prime Minister.

But such is the pride of men that the lesson was not heeded for long.
We soon find Nebuchadnezzar building a big statue of himself.
      But it was not modelled on his dream. It was ALL gold.
      Nebuchadnezzar knew he was the undisputed master of his empire.
      He thought his new mighty Babylon could never be overthrown.
      And he thought God was wrong!

So God embarks on Lesson 2.
      Nebuchadnezzar, you need to learn this well; God is never wrong!
      World leaders ignore this truth at their peril.
            So do all men, whether great or small.
Daniel's 3 friends rightly and courageously refused to worship this golden image.
      But the furious Nebuchadnezzar was unable to destroy them in his super-hot furnace.
      And more, he actually saw God walking in the flames with them.
The result? 2-0 to God.
      And Daniel's 3 friends were promoted.

Let us 'fast-forward' the next 40 years,
      throughout which Daniel had served Nebuchadnezzar faithfully until the king died.
      Daniel then retired.
      But God had not finished with Daniel.
            For the servants of God never retire until God takes them.
God gave Daniel a dream about 4 beasts.
It was similar to the statue in Nebuchadnezzar's dream - some 50 years earlier;
      the statue of gold, silver, bronze and iron - and the Rock.
Daniel's dream was of a lion, a bear, a leopard and a most terrifying beast.
      It represented the same 4 world empires.
But they are now seen from God's perspective.
      Man sees the world empires as strong, valuable and honoured.
      God sees each of them as destructive beasts!
            And the last beast is so terrifying that it could not even be named.

      My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.  Is 558

In this dream there is also a vital addition.
      1. A boastful little horn arises and destroys 3 of the 10 horns.
              Daniel sees this horn waging war against the saints and defeating them.

      2. Only Until the Ancient of Days came.  722
            Then the court will sit, and his power will be taken away
               and completely destroyed for ever.

      3. Then in the kingdom of the Most High men will worship and obey the Lord.

Daniel was deeply troubled. Why?
Although the final outcome is that Kingdom of God is firmly established world-wide;
      Before that day comes; there is to be 3½ years of increased wickedness
      and intense persecution.

After Daniel's vision of the beasts, another 10 years roll by.
      Belshazzar made a great feast at which he intentionally insulted God.
            This is always a most foolish thing to do.
      God wrote his judgement on the palace wall for all to see.
      And that very night Babylon was overthrown by the Medes and Persians.

The new ruler, Darius, then makes Daniel Prime Minister again.
He is still reading the scriptures and praying.
We read that this venerable 85 year old man is pleading with God for mercy.
He had been in idol worshipping Babylon for over 65 years.
He longed with all his heart for righteousness and truth.
      He had faithfully prayed 3 times every day all these years.
      But God delayed giving him an answer.
He pleaded for an end to wickedness.
      An end of sin and blasphemy.
      Yes, he had seen Belshazzar die for mocking God.
      And only a few months earlier some wicked Medes had instigated a plan
            that made Darius throw him to the lions.
      But God had intervened and shut their mouths.
Daniel is longing to see Israel forgiven and for the Truth to reign.
      Knowing full well it can never be deserved,
            he cries to the God of mercy and grace.
      Do you share this longing?

God now answers his lifelong cry.
He sends his mighty archangel Gabriel.  (Read Dan 920-27)
Gabriel first encourages the tear-filled Daniel:
      As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given.  923
      He also assures him that in God's sight You are highly esteemed.  923
Then he reveals the Lord's plan:
      A definite time is decreed for your people and your holy city.  924
            This time of 70x7 years is divided into 9x7 + 62x7 and a final 1x7 years
            The Jews will return, Jerusalem will be rebuilt and so will the Temple.
      And that's not all. God will act so as to
           To finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness,
            to bring in everlasting righteousness
            to seal up the vision and prophecy
(i.e. to make it secure)
            to anoint the most holy ...  924
      Isn't that fantastic?
      Can you see the old man Daniel, his heart leaping with each phrase?
      It is no longer a vague hope but a sure certainty.
              It has God's seal and all his authority. No one and nothing can annul it.

Gabriel hasn't finished.
He then reveals how God will act.
      How will God be able to put an end to sin?
      How will he atone for wickedness?
      After 62 sevens the Anointed One will be cut off  -  926
            the Son of God, anointed by the Father will be crucified.
      Further, we read, The Anointed One will be cut off and have nothing
            Jesus, the Saviour, will die and buried.
      The ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary.  926
            Jerusalem will be destroyed again.
            War will continue to the end.
              The 'Road Map' will not bring ME peace.
      He will set up an abomination that causes desolation
            until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.

      Then Jesus will return,
      the Anointed One that was crucified, dead and buried and rose again
            will return as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
      Then the papers will print nothing but good news!
Daniel, God wants you to know all this -
      and all who will later read your prophetic words.
God does not say that the end will be easy;
      but the word of God is sure and the people of God are safe.

We see Daniel, a man full of years, his heart full of the truth of God.
Like Joseph, the Sovereign Lord made him PM in a foreign land,
      And he did it not once but twice - under Babylonians and Medes.
Daniel, you had personally learned the truth of Deuteronomy
      which you heard Jeremiah quote before you left Jerusalem,
      that those who seek the Lord with all their heart shall surely find him.
Your legacy was such that just over 5 centuries later
      three Magi knew when and where to go to find the Messiah King.
Though in a foreign land, surrounded by idols and wicked men,
      you knew that the God of Abraham was the Sovereign Lord,
            the only Most High God - always, everywhere.
Daniel, you knew God is so full of grace and mercy,
      who delights to forgive all who repent and call upon his name.
Daniel, you tell us so much about our righteous God,
      and about how you were made righteous by grace and truth.
      You saw Jesus Christ, the Anointed One.
      You saw both his Cross and his Crown.
And you now point us to the same Saviour, Redeemer and King.

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness.