Daniel 008: God Rewards Faithfulness

Dr. Andy Woods | Jan 15, 2017 | Daniel 2:46-49 | Daniel

Andy Woods

SUGAR LAND BIBLE CHURCH

Lesson 8, God Rewards Faithfulness, Daniel 2:46-49

January 15, 2016

Good morning everybody.  If I could invite your attention to the book of Daniel, chapter 2 and verse 46, trying to cover this morning verses 46-49. Of course I always want to give a shout out also to our live streaming folks, people that tap into us online, so thank you for joining us.  We have a church here and then we have an online church, and God is blessing both, for which we’re very grateful.  Daniel 2:46-69, the title of our message this morning is God Rewards Faithfulness.  Do you believe that, that God is a rewarded of faithfulness?   We see a tremendous testimony of this in the lives of four very young people after a season of trial, verses 46-49.

Of course, as you know, God has raised up this man, Daniel, during the dark and difficult days of the Babylonian captivity, to operate as sort of a role model related to how the nation of Israel is to act and conduct themselves during a time period when people who do not believe the way they do have power over them.  Are you in that kind of circumstance at your job, or maybe in your family, around people that generally don’t view life the way you do, through your biblical lens?  How do we act in those circumstances?  The book of Daniel helps us.

Daniel also was raised up, as you know, as a prophet of God, to explain the prophetic plan of God during this unique time period, as Israel is being bullied by various Gentile powers, a time period that started with Nebuchadnezzar and actually for the history of Israel will extend all the way to the Second Advent of Christ.

So we find ourselves at the very end of chapter 2.  Chapter 2 is a revelation, if you will, of Gentile history.  You know the story, we’ve gone over it multiple times; Nebuchadnezzar has received a dream, Nebuchadnezzar being the Emperor who was in place that God used as His instrument to bring Judah into captivity.  He had a dream and he reveals to his wise men an impossible standard which is tell me the dream and its interpretation, not just the interpretation but tell me the dream itself.  The year is 603 B.C.  Daniel is probably about 17 years of age at this time.

You know, there’s so many young people that really kind of drift through life as if they had no hope; as if God really didn’t want to work in their lives, they’re too young to be used by God.  And how the Word of God is a sharp rebuke to that mindset, for we see God strategically working in the life of a very young person.  In fact, four young people, they made a decision to honor God and God honored them, not just throughout the course of their lives but almost immediately in their youth.  This is a message we need to be sending to our youth as well.

So Nebuchadnezzar, verses 2-13, demands the dream and its interpretation.  The only one who could get over this bar is God Himself, which God does by revealing the dream to Daniel, verses 14-23.  Daniel then recites both the dream and its interpretation, verses 24-30.  And then you get into the very interesting prophetic section that we covered last week, the actual contents of the dream as well as its interpretation.

What did Daniel see?  He saw a giant statue; he saw each body part of the statue represented by a different metal, metallic substance.  He saw the statue destroyed.  And then Daniel begins to interpret that dream, as each body part of that statue represents a different empire that God would rise to power and trample the nation down during the times of the Gentiles.  So Daniel, as a 17 year old, all the way back in the sixth century, sees these nations that would come against the nation of Israel, beginning in the time of Daniel and stretching all the way to the Second Advent of Christ, wherein this stone cut without human hands would shatter the statue, speaking of the immediate destruction of the kingdoms of man at the end of the tribulation period, yet future.  And that statue grows and grows and grows till it fills the earth.

The message to both the Hebrews and the Gentiles is that the kingdoms of man seem quite powerful but they are temporary.  They are ultimately destined to be replaced with God’s eternal kingdom.  Evil has the upper hand for a season but that’s not how it will always be.  And even as we, in the  year 2017, are awaiting for this kingdom to come we can pray as our Lord taught us, “Thy Kingdom” what? “Thy kingdom come.”  There’s hope for planet earth. There’s hope for our world.

Daniel has explained in great detail all of these kingdoms leading to the Second Advent of Christ, without compromise.  He has explained this to Nebuchadnezzar.  Daniel, as a seventeen year old may have been tempted to compromise; maybe I won’t tell him that his empire is going to replaced one day, maybe I should just tell him what he wants to hear and that Nebuchadnezzar’s empire is going to go on forever.  But Daniel does not acquiesce to compromise but he tells the kind the truth.

And isn’t it interesting how, if you’re a person of conviction and gracefully stand up for what you know is right, God has a way, does He not, of taking care of us.  God took care of Daniel.  We see exactly how God blessed and took care of Daniel here in verses 46-49.  What four things happened at the end of this chapter revealing to us the fateful hand of God towards the non-compromized life of a young person.

The first thing that happened to Daniel is given in verse 46, he became the recipient, if  you will,   of personal honor.  Notice verse 46, it says, “Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face and did homage to Daniel, and gave orders to present to him an offering and fragrant incense.”  What we discover here in verse 46 is God rewards faithful people.  In fact, Jesus spoke of this, did He not, in Luke 16:10.  He said, “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.”

Study this through the Bible and you’ll see this theme.   Who does God bless?  Who does God take and expand their borders?  Who does God promote?  It’s generally speaking people that have a mindset, or a lifestyle of faithfulness in things that at first glance seem very insignificant.   You take, for example, David, you when the man of God, Samuel, came to anoint the next king of Israel and Jesse brought out all his sons there in the book of 1 Samuel, you’ll remember that Jesse didn’t even bring out David, because David was so insignificant in  terms of his size.  And  do you remember what David was doing?  He was just tending some sheep, that’s all.  And Samuel said to Jesse there must be someone else here.  And he brought out David and you know the story, David became the first or the second King of the nation of Israel.  David was faithful in something very small.  Joseph, who I’ll mention a little bit later, the same pattern.  Everywhere Joseph went in adversity, whether it was prison, into Potiphar’s household, you’ll notice this attribute in Joseph’s life that he was faithful no matter where God put him.

Then finally the day came for promotion; this is how God works.  You see, you might be involved in some task or doing something that very few people are aware that you’re involved in it and  yet God has called you to do it and whether your boundaries will expand or not is largely contingent upon whether you can be trusted with something small.

You know, at the College of Biblical Studies where I teach I give take home exams.  And people say why in the world are you giving the students take home exams, don’t you realize that they could cheat on the take home exams.  And yet I was born in the morning, but it wasn’t yesterday morning; yes, I realize that, but here’s why I do it.  And this is exactly I tell my students: yeah, you can cheat on this test, you can fool me but guess who you can’t fool—you can’t fool God.  And God, how in the world is He supposed to entrust you to ministry, how in the world is He supposed to entrust to you the souls of men and women when you can’t even be faithful on something as minor as being honest in a take home test.  And whether you’re honest with this take home test or not is largely your ticket concerning whether God is going to use you or promote you or not.  And once I start talking like that I usually get the student’s attention.  The reality is God promotes and rewards people based on their faithfulness in something small.  Sometimes it is obedience even to the possibility of death.

Nebuchadnezzar was the leading emperor of the world at this time, he could have killed Daniel in an instant.  Daniel, as an intelligent 17 year old no doubt factored that in, but he remained faithful to the vision that God had given him.  He faithfully reported it and the opposite happened, Daniel became very prominent in the land of Babylon, into his adult years, into his career.

The book of Philippians, chapter 2, verses 5-11 says this.  “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, [6] who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, [7] but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. [8] Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. [9] For this reason also, God highly” what? “exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, [10]so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, [11] and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Where is Jesus today?  He’s been exalted to the highest place, “above every name.”  But do you see the order here?  That exaltation came when he became obedient, humble if you will, to the point of death.

As you go through life’s struggles and you’re doing something insignificant and menial and nobody is there to give you any accolades it’s so tempting to think that God has forgotten about us.  The fact of the matter is, the Bible teaches payday someday.  Maybe your exaltation, like Daniel’s will be in this life; maybe it’ll be in the next; that’s within the providence and the sovereignty of God.  But the reality is payday someday.

Hebrews 6:10 says, “For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints.”  You’re ministering, you’re giving of yourself, you’re in a place of anonymity, obscurity and yet we learn here that God doesn’t forget.

Revelation 22:12, Jesus says, “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My” what is with me? “My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.”

Galatians 6:9 says, “Let us not lose heart in doing good,” why not? “for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.”  So tempting to grow weary, to give up, to quit on  your assignment, and  yet the Bible teaches payday someday.

Daniel was honored as a very young person because of his attitude of putting God first in all things.  And like a very good man of God he directs praise not to himself, not to his education (and he had on one of the best in Babylon, as we’ve studied) not to his intelligence, not to his skill, not to his family background, you see him directing attention directly back towards God where it belongs.

Notice, if you will, verse 47, “The king answered Daniel and said, ‘Surely your God is a God of gods and a Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, since you have been able to reveal this mystery.’” When this revelation (through Daniel) comes to Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar praises Daniel, verse 46.  Nebuchadnezzar, of course, didn’t know any better being a pagan himself.  And somehow, it doesn’t say how, in the course of the conversation Nebuchadnezzar begins to redirect praise away from Daniel back to God.  I have a tendency to think, I can’t prove it, that somehow Daniel deflected the accolades and directed them back to their proper source, to God Himself.  This is what true servants of God do.  They are not so much interested in their own notoriety, they are interested in God’s notoriety.

In Acts 10:24-25, it says this: “On the following day he entered” that would be Peter, “Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them and had called together his relatives and close friends.  [25] “When Peter entered, Cornelius met him, and fell at his feet and worshiped him.”  Worshiped who?  Worshiped Peter.  Why would Cornelius do that?  He didn’t know any better; this is the first Gentile that has been converted into Christianity.  And what is Peter’s response?  [26] “But Peter raised him up,” in other words Peter stopped the process, “raised him up saying, ‘Stand up; I too am just a man.’”

You’ll find the Apostle Paul doing the exact same thing in Acts 14:11-15, it says: “When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they raised their voice, saying in the Lycaonian language, ‘The gods have become like men and have come down to us.’ [12] And they began calling Barnabas, Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. [13] The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds. [14] But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their robes and rushed out into the crowd, crying out [15] and saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of the same nature as you….”   You know, the angels do this too; you worship an angel, if it’s a true angel the angel doesn’t like it.

Revelation 19:10, it says this: “Then I” that’s John, “fell at his feet to worship him. But he” that’s the angel, “said to me, ‘Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God….’”

And you would think John the Apostle would learn his lesson, but he does it again, just a couple of chapters later.  Revelation 22:8- says, “I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things.  [9] But he” the angel, “said to me, ‘Do not do that. I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book. Worship God.”  I don’t claim to know everything there is to know about God but this much I know—God is zealous for His own glory.  Isaiah 42:8 says, “I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, Nor My praise to graven images.”

I’ve shared with you the three G’s of ministry; you commit any of these G’s your days are numbered.  Number 1, don’t touch the gold (embezzlement); number 2, don’t touch the girls, that’s sexual immorality; and number 3, most importantly, don’t touch the glory.  And if you watch the destruction of ministries it’s so sad because it’s always the same thing, over and over again, somebody commits the sin that I’ll call the three G’s.  This is why 1 Timothy 3:6, when it speaks of laying on of hands of people (which we just did) it talks in that book about not laying hands too quickly, watch the character of the person.  1 Timothy 3:6, of elders, it says he should “not be a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil.” What is the condemnation of the devil? First comes pride, then comes what?  A fall.

How easy it is to forget this and sort of… maybe take a little bit credit for what God has done.  The Bible warns us against this.  Nebuchadnezzar is redirected, as a pagan, he didn’t know any better, back to God.  And notice the thing that Nebuchadnezzar begins to say about God.  He calls God here “the God of Gods.”   Nebuchadnezzar calls God the “Lord of kings.”  [Daniel 2:47]  This what we call in language a superlative; it means the highest.  So when you use the expression “Holy of Holies,” you’re not just using a reference to a holy site, you’re referencing the holy site, the ultimate holy sight.  When Solomon calls his masterpiece The Song of Songs he’s not just saying this is a song, this is the ultimate song.  The superlative is used here to describe God, not just Lord but “Lord of kings.”  Not just God but the “God of gods.”  It’s interesting to me that Nebuchadnezzar gives no credit to the Babylonian system that failed to produce the result that only Daniel’s God could produce.

Revelation 19:16, in describing Jesus, says this: “And on His robe, and on his thigh He has a name written, ‘KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.’”   Jesus is not interested in being a roommate with another god.  He’s interested in authority and supremacy over your life.  And we teach at this church against the doctrine of Lordship salvation because it’s a view that really is not found in the Bible.  The doctrine of Lordship salvation, meaning if Jesus is not Lord of all then He’s not Lord at all; that’s a wrong way of thinking.  However, that is not to negate the fact that he is the Lord of Lords!  He is the King of Kings!  He is the ultimate authority; He wants total and complete authority over your life, the way you think, every facet of your being.  And there’s a reason why the great writers of Scripture called themselves slaves of Jesus Christ.

The Greek word for slave is doulos; Paul calls himself doulos.  What is that?  It’s a slave; it’s a servant.  It’s somebody that exists to fulfill the will of another.  That’s the calling on the Christian.  That’s what God is trying to bring forth in our lives.  And He deserves it because He is the revealer, not just of mystery, singular, verse 47, but mysteries.   What is a mystery?  It’s something that’s never been revealed before in the history of man; it’s something that God revealed to Daniel here.  There is no amount of intellectual exercise, academic acumen, exerting of the flesh that could have arrived at the proper understanding of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.  It’s only available because a disclosure from heaven.  And if that is true shouldn’t the insight be credited to God Himself.

And you have to watch Nebuchadnezzar very carefully because you’ll notice in verse 47 he says, of God, he uses the expression “your God.”  He doesn’t say my God yet, he says “your God.”  And what is happening here is Nebuchadnezzar has taken the first step in a path that will lead, I believe, to his conversion.  In fact, by the time God finishes with Nebuchadnezzar, the end of Nebuchadnezzar is revealed in Daniel 4, the last story related to Nebuchadnezzar, by the time you get to verses 34 and 35 you’ll notice that Nebuchadnezzar is more than just an observer.

[Daniel 4:34-35, “But at the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever; for His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom endures from generation to generation. [35] All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’”]

He’s in a personal relationship with God and  yet it took chapters 1, 2, 3 and 4 to get there.  The reason I share this is because many of us share the gospel with people and we have a tendency to think that if they’re not saved right there on the spot we’ve failed when in reality evangelism is a process.  This is why it is analogized to farming.  Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:6, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.”  I did one thing, Apollos did another thing and God did His part.

You’ll find the same agrarian terminology used in John 4:35-38 concerning evangelism, which says, “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest. [36] Already he who reaps is receiving wages and is gathering fruit for life eternal; so that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. [37] For in this case the saying is true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ [38] I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored and you have entered into their labor.”  Jesus is saying to the disciples you’ve got converts all over the land of Israel because somebody, way back when, planted a seed.  A seed is planted into Nebuchadnezzar’s life in chapter 1, in chapter 2, that is about to sprout into full harvest.

So you share the gospel with someone and you don’t see an immediate conversion when in reality God is doing far more in that than you probably would expect; maybe He’s just called you to plant the seed, because without a seed we can’t have a harvest, can we, or a crop.  I won’t go into details but I’ve received calls from people that knew me decades ago, people that I’ve forgotten, conversations that I’ve forgotten, people that apparently I had spoken to related to spiritual things but that at the time I never thought would get saved; I’ve received more than one phone call of someone saying it was something you said when we were in college and we were standing by this building, I couldn’t even remember the conversation, and I’m thinking to myself, I did a lot of things in college, I hope you’re not remembering everything, but you said this one thing and it bothered me for years until the Lord used it to bring me to faith.  Maybe that’s you, maybe that’s how God is working in your life.  Don’t be discouraged, be faithful and let God do His work.

Personal honor, praise to God, and then we have a promotion, don’t we.  Notice if you will verse 48, “Then the king” Nebuchadnezzar, “promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts, and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon.”   The fact of the matter is God is in the promoting business.

All the way back to the time of Joseph we read these words; Genesis 41:37, “Now the proposal seemed good to Pharaoh and to all his servants. [38] Then Pharaoh said to his servants, ‘Can we find a man like this, in whom is a divine spirit?’  [39] So Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Since God has informed you of all this, there is no one so discerning and wise as you are. [40] You shall be over my house, and according to your command all my people shall do homage; only in the throne I will be greater than you.’  [41] Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.’  [42] Then Pharaoh took off his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand, and clothed him in garments of fine linen and put the gold necklace around his neck. [43] He had him ride in his second chariot; and they proclaimed before him, ‘Bow the knee!’ And he set him over all the land of Egypt. [44] Moreover, Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Though I am Pharaoh, yet without your permission no one shall raise his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.’  [45] Then Pharaoh named Joseph Zaphenath-paneah; and he gave him Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On, as his wife. And Joseph went forth over the land of Egypt. [46] Now Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh, king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh and went through all the land of Egypt.”

It’s an amazing set of verses when you remember what Joseph went through from age 17 to age 30.  You know the story.  And in an instant his fortunes were reversed.  And 1,200 years have passed and God is doing the same thing to Daniel.  And 2600 years have passed since the time of Daniel, God is doing the same thing because God does not change, He is the same yesterday, today and forever.  I don’t understand how God does it, I don’t understand when He does it, I don’t even understand if it always comes in this life or in the next.  But I know this much, that God promotes people.  And this is so important to understand because when you talk about promotions we’re all interested in that and we waste so much energy trying to promote ourselves when in reality the Bible says, in Psalm 75:6-7, “For not from the east, nor from the west, nor from the desert comes exaltation; [7] But God is the Judge; He puts down one and exalts another.”

Proverbs 18:16 says, “A man’s gift makes room for him and brings him before great men.”  That’s what happened with Joseph.  That’s what happened with Daniel.  That’s what God wants to do with you.

1 Peter 5:6 says, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time.”  Notice this expression “humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God,” there’s no need to toot your own horn, there is no need to promote yourself, there is no need to want to be seen by people.  It’s a matter of standing humble before God so that He may exalt you.  When is that—“at the proper time.”  God has this whole thing under control, He knows when the time of exaltation is to come and if you’re trying to promote yourself before the proper time it’s an exercise in futility; the only person it makes look foolish is the self-promoter.

And you’ll notice something here and it’s so easy to read over this and not pay attention to it, but it says Daniel was promoted and became chief prefect over all of the wise men of Babylon.  [Daniel 2:48, “Then the king” Nebuchadnezzar, ‘promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts, and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon.’”]  Well who were they?  They are forerunners of what we call the magi, that are on all your Christmas cards, that we just celebrated.  I like this one here, “Wise men still seek Him.”  That’s these men coming from the east.  If you do a word study on east you’ll discover that east in the Bible, whether it be Eden, the tower of Babel, is always located in the area of Babylon, 350 miles to the east of the nation of Israel.

And so we discover these men in the New Testament seeking Christ at a particular time in history.  We covered this in our Christmas message (those of you that came on Christmas day)  why these men were seeking Christ at this particular time in history.  Because if you go back to the time of Moses there was a guy named, Balak, the King of Moab, who hired Balaam to curse Israel as Israel was making its way from Sinai through the Transjordan, that area of Moab, and the king of Moab didn’t like these Jews coming into his territory so he hired a prophet for profit, a prophet with the right price, to curse Israel.  And the prophet of God… Balaam tried to curse Israel seven times, tried his best, and every time out of his mouth did not come a cursing but a blessing.  I’m not sure if I said that wrong, he hired him to curse Israel, he tried to curse Israel seven times (which isn’t that smart) and out of his mouth every time he cursed him came a blessing.

And it’s in the book of Numbers, chapter 24, verse 17, the fourth oracle that Balaam gives says this: “…A star shall come forth from Jacob, A scepter shall rise from Israel….,” it’s a Messianic prophecy.  And where was Balak?  Where was he from?  Where was Balaam from?  We learn in Deuteronomy 23:4 that Balaam was from Mesopotamia where these wise men came from.  [Deuteronomy 23:4, “because they did not meet you with food and water on the way when you came out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you.”]

So through the generations what had happened is the connection of the Messiah to a star had been handed down for 1500 years.  That’s how they knew to look for a star.  And if that weren’t enough in the 6th century, about 800 years after the time of Moses Daniel properly interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and according to verse 49, verse 48 really, Daniel is promoted into the ranks of the magi.  Now we haven’t gotten there yet but Daniel is going to give a very specific Messianic prophecy, Daniel 9:25, telling you the exact day that Jesus will show up and proclaim His Messianic credentials to the nation.  [Daniel 9:25, “So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.”]  I believe that these magi, as this tradition was faithfully passed down understood the Balaam prophecy, understood Daniel’s prophecy, they put two and two together and they knew that that star appearing at a certain time in history meant something.

And probably when Balaam was giving his oracles and Daniel was explaining the prophecy of the seventy weeks and actually was promoted, if you will, into the ranks of the magi through the providence of God, I really doubt that either individual knew what was happening and how God was using them, and how God was setting the stage for the conversion of these magi.  And He was putting into place the circumstances where the birth of Christ would be honored by somebody, certainly Israel would honor it, Herod was killing all the firstborn, but at least these pagans would honor it.  And God used 1,500  years in advance in the case of Balaam, 600 years in advance in the case of Daniel, their lives in a way to set the stage for the entrance of Jesus.

The fact of the matter is  you have no idea what God is doing in your life.  Probably if God showed you what He is going to do through your obedience this week (and hopefully last week) it would fill you up with so much pride you would start to think more highly of yourself than you ought.  So God doesn’t reveal everything but the movement of God, the sovereignty of God through the life of an obedient believer becomes so obvious.  God actually reaches down and wants to use our lives for eternal purposes.  I can’t believe that God acts that way towards me.  Perhaps there’s subsequent generations that are going to be blessed somehow through you; I don’t know how it all works but God does, and He will take and use you and what you give Him.

And you know, here is Balaam, cursing Israel; that’s so not smart.  Have you noticed that every time Israel gets attacked God comes through and gives them a holiday as a result?  You attack Israel, Israel gets a holiday.  Haman came up with a plot to abolish or eradicate the Jews and the Jews got a holiday out of that called Purim.  Antiochus Epiphanius had the same idea in the intertestamental period and Israel got another holiday out of it called Hanukah.  And how smart is it for the nations of the earth, even as I’m talking here, January 15th, to be gathering in Paris to plot the removal of Judea and Samaria out of Israeli control?  How smart is that, for them to do that?  You push Israel God’s going to come through and they’re probably going to get another holiday as a result, because God has given the nation of Israel a special calling and covenant, and how that needs to be respected.  But the nations of the earth have a very difficult time learning this; apparently they’re going to have to learn it yet again.

So we have the personal honor to Daniel, praise to God, promotion of Daniel and as we conclude the chapter notice that Daniel does not forget his friends.  Verse 49, “And Daniel made request of the king, and he appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego over the administration of the province of Babylon, while Daniel was at the king’s court.”

How tempting it would have been for this 17 year old to say well God gave the dream and the interpretation to me so I get the credit, when in reality if  you go back to Daniel 2:17-18 you’ll see that this is a team effort, “Then Daniel went to his house” this is after Nebuchadnezzar said everyone will be killed amongst the wise men, “Then Daniel went to his house and informed his friends,” plural, “Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah,” those are their Hebrew names, “about the matter, so that they might request compassion from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his friends would not be destroyed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.”  This was a team prayer meeting; this was a team result.  They went into Babylon as a team; they were subjugated through a pagan educational system as a team.  And do you know the interesting thing about the word “team?”  The letter “I” is not found in the word “team,” is it?  We have a big case of the “I’s” many times, I did this, I accomplished that, God is using me, when in reality if you’re honest with yourself there is a whole cadre of people around you that God is orchestrating your lives together.

You know, at Dallas Seminary I took a class, one of those classes (I won’t give the professor’s name) it was one of those classes where I don’t remember anything; I frankly don’t even remember how I passed the class.  It was a class called Trinitarianism, but I remember this one thing: this particular professor was talking about the community within the trinity, the great mystery of the trinity and how the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit live in harmony and fellowship with each other and how each part of the trinity plays a different role in executing the plan of God.  And he stopped in the middle of his lecture and he said this, he said you, by way of application, will accomplish nothing in ministry without a team.  And I thought to myself well, that’s a dumb application because God has gifted ME, and God is working through ME, and God wants to use ME, and then you get off in the ministry and you realize how totally helpless you are and how dependent you are on other people.

And isn’t it providential that on the very Sunday  morning where we laid hands on two team members that this whole subject of team is found right here in the passage that we’re working from.  “There is no “I” in team, there is no me, myself and I in the word team; it is teamwork.   Now some members, for whatever reason, are more prominent than others, some are more visible but what does the Apostle Paul say: those members of the body of Christ which are less visible than others, he’ll explain this in 1 Corinthians 12, are indispensable supports.  You can’t see my lungs, yet what if one of them just decided not to work?  The whole body would suffer.  There are things that God has called you to do at this church that may seem menial, they may seem insignificant, they may not get you a lot of notoriety, they may not get you a lot of accolades,  yet God has called you to do it.  And if you just decide I’m not going to do it, it’s like a lung that no longer works.  The church can’t go forward the way God wants it to go forward because He’s designed it as a team, as community.

Daniel remembers his team.   Do you know that you’re part of a team?  Are you a player on the team?  God has called us all to play different roles.  Daniel remembers his team.  Daniel remembers his friends.  Can I say something to you?  So does God!  Daniel remembers his friends just like God does.  Proverbs 18:24 says, “A man of too many friends comes to ruin, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”  People let you down, people desert you, people frustrate you, people can alienate you, wound you, that’s part of living in a fallen world.  Sadly even in the church world this happens.  But God doesn’t forget; God doesn’t forsake.  In fact, the day is coming where God’s team is going to be rewarded with authority, just like Daniel’s team was.

Revelation 5:10 says this, “You have made them” plural “to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”  It’s not just the reign of Christ, it is the reign of the church under the delegated authority of Christ, because God doesn’t forget His friends.  He doesn’t forget His team any more than Daniel did.

And then notice this last clue here at the end, where it says, “appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego over the administration of the province of Babylon, while Daniel was in the king’s court.”  Notice the different offices here.  Daniel, apparently is serving in the king’s court, according to verse 48 he is ruler over the whole province of Babylon.  Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego are placed into positions of what it says here, “administration.”  You say well who cares?  It’s significant because when we start chapter 3 next week there will be a command given to the whole province of Babylon to commit an act of idolatry and there’s only three dissenters: Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego dissent, everybody else acquiesces and we say well, what about Daniel?  Did Daniel himself acquiesce to this command and the reality is we have an explanation as to why Daniel did not acquiesce, he was not in the normal government structure that Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego were in.  And consequently it is highly likely, it is not just possible, but probably that Daniel was out of the country at the time fulfilling his obligations to the king in another role.

Well, why bore you with that detail?  Because when you watch A & E, Mysteries of the Bible, and the History Channel, they will sell you on this idea that the book of Daniel is fabrication and a fraud because everybody knows Daniel was a godly man so why would chapter 3 indicate that everybody worshiped the image except three dissenters and not mentioning Daniel as a dissenter.  The fact of the matter is there’s a very plausible explanation and you see a hint of it in verse 48 and verse 49.  And all I have to prove is it’s possible this could have happened.  Would you not agree this is a possibility?  I wasn’t there 2,600 years ago, neither were you, neither was the history channel, neither was A&E, neither was Mysteries of the Bible, they weren’t there either.  We’re all wrestling with the text that’s 2600 years old, all I have to do is demonstrate the possibility and the plausibility of an interpretation which maintains the integrity of the book of Daniel.

You see, the critics have decided to take an interpretation that damages the book of Daniel. Okay, that’s their will, that’s their decision.  I decide to take an interpretation which honors the book of Daniel.  It’s not claiming fundamentalism, it’s a reasonable explanation, because beloved, your kids and your grandkids, who are filled with all of this erroneous information are going to be looking to you for an answer.  I saw this on YouTube, I saw this on TV, what do you say mom?  What do you say dad?  What do you say Grandma?  What do you say Grandpa?  And I want to equip you to answer those questions.

A tremendous day in the life of Daniel.  What do we take away from chapter 2?  Number 1, the Mosaic Law taught Israel how to live inside the land, now we have to learn how to live outside the land and this is why the examples of the four Hebrew youths are so significant.  How do you live?  You consecrate yourself to God, you live by faith from crisis to crisis doing nothing more than continually entrusting yourself to your faithful Creator and who do you trust with the results?  God.  You don’t need to worry about outcome of your life, you just need to worry about not compromising in your baby steps, where you’re at now, doing exactly what God has called  you to do without compromise.  How it ends up, martyrdom or promotion, is up to the sovereignty of God.  Allow God, if it’s His will, to promote you in His due time rather than engaging in self-seeking promotion.  I can’t think of a more appropriate way for us to live in the  year 2017 amidst our Romans 1 culture.  Live for God, trust your circumstances to God, leaving the results unto God; personal honor, praise to God, promotion of Daniel, promotion of Daniel’s three friends.

Of course  you could be here wanting to know how you could be rightfully related to this God who blesses and that’s what we call the gospel.  The gospel is good news because Jesus did it all; He did the heavy lifting, we trust in what He has done in our place.   You may not understand everything there is to know about theology but you can all understand this: that what you get from God you receive as a gift.  What you get from God is not what you do for yourself, it’s what God has done for you and you trust in that.  Our exhortation to you is to trust in God, in the promise of Jesus Christ, even as I am speaking and the Holy Spirit has placed you under conviction, respond in the privacy of your own thoughts, in the quietness of your own heart the best you know how and trust in God’s promises.  Trust in Him and Him alone for the safekeeping of your soul.  If that’s something you have done or are doing then on the authority of the Word you have altered your eternal destiny.  If it’s something you need more explanation on I’m available after the service to talk.

But what about those of us that are walking with God, that know God, what are we to do.  No compromise.  John Walvoord writes these words in his Daniel commentary: “Thus Daniel, the obscured Jewish captive who would have been lost to history like many others if he had compromised in chapter  is now exalted to a place of great honor and power.  Like Joseph in Egypt he was destined to play an important part in the subsequent history of his generation.” Payday Sunday.  Shall we pray.

Father, we’re grateful for this ancient book and yet it speaks directly into our time period.  We are grateful for its preservation, we’re grateful for a church that wants to hear it proclaimed.  Convict us deeply, Father, of these lessons we’ve learned this morning from these final four verses in chapter 2.  Be with us as we move into chapter 3 next week, we’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory.  We lift these things up in Jesus name, and God’s people said….