I want to begin this morning with a reading from Daniel.

Daniel 1:8-17 But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king's choice food or with the wine which he drank; so he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself. Now God granted Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the commander of the officials, and the commander of the officials said to Daniel, "I am afraid of my lord the king, who has appointed your food and your drink; for why should he see your faces looking more haggard than the youths who are your own age? Then you would make me forfeit my head to the king." But Daniel said to the overseer whom the commander of the officials had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, "Please test your servants for ten days, and let us be given some vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance be observed in your presence and the appearance of the youths who are eating the king's choice food; and deal with your servants according to what you see." So he listened to them in this matter and tested them for ten days. At the end of ten days their appearance seemed better and they were fatter than all the youths who had been eating the king's choice food. So the overseer continued to withhold their choice food and the wine they were to drink, and kept giving them vegetables. As for these four youths, God gave them knowledge and intelligence in every branch of literature and wisdom; Daniel even understood all kinds of visions and dreams.

  1. I am impressed with this fact: horrible circumstances often were the means for the person who experienced those horrible circumstances to move to greater usefulness for God.
    1. There are a number of these situations in scripture:
      1. Joseph being sold into slavery by his brothers.
      2. Moses' mother being forced to abandon him.
      3. Samuel living as a child in strange circumstances.
      4. David fleeing for his life in the wilderness.
      5. Jesus' execution.
      6. Paul's struggles as many tried to destroy him.
    2. Jesus made this statement to his disciples in Matthew 5:11, 12:
      Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
    3. Daniel's experience is typical of numerous people who faced an enormous crisis in a horrible situation: "Will I turn to God in faith, or will I turn against God in anger?"
      1. One to two situations could have been true of Daniel prior to captivity.
      2. One, he could have been a religious person who was not a godly person.
        1. He could have been one of those people who did "the right" religious things just because that is what a person did and he was required to do them.
        2. He may have just "gone through" the motions.
        3. That certainly would be consistent with conditions in Jerusalem prior to falling to Babylon's supremacy.
          1. The reason Jerusalem fell was due to its ungodliness.
          2. The people in Daniel's segment of Jerusalem society were known for their self-indulgence, not their spirituality.
      3. Or, two, he could have been one of the truly few godly people who went into Babylonian exile because of who he was and where he was in Jerusalem's society.
        1. He could have been a very godly young man who was forced into exile because of the ungodliness of the majority.
        2. Perhaps he was not sent into exile because of his ungodliness, but because of the ungodliness of the majority.
      4. Regardless of which was the situation, he faced an immediate crisis in captivity.
        1. Among a large group of captives, the king had selected him to be prepared for service in the king's court.
        2. To be in that position, two things were necessary:
          1. Special educational preparation
          2. Becoming fat (the king did not want to look at skinny people)
      5. The king himself prescribed the food and drink for this group.
        1. The king gave a specific officer the responsibility to see that this group ate and drank the prescribed food.
        2. If Daniel ate this food and drank this wine, he violated the religious dietary code he always lived by.
        3. Yet, if he rejected the food and wine, he faced serious consequences.
      6. He had to decide what role God had in his life, and he had to do it as a captive.
    4. He approached the man in charge [whose heart God opened toward Daniel] and asked the man to allow him and his three Jewish friends to be vegetarians.
      1. The commander said, "If I do that, I will be executed."
        1. "You will be skinner that everyone else."
        2. "When the king sees this and knows why, he will execute me."
      2. Daniel proposed a test.
        1. "Let us eat vegetables for ten days."
        2. "Then compare us to those on the king's food and drink."
        3. At the end of the 10 days Daniel and his friends were fatter than those who ate the king's food and drank the king's wine.
      3. These four Jewish vegetarians were blessed with exceptional intelligence, and Daniel even understood visions and dreams.

  2. Now let us read together Daniel 2:31-35.
    You, O king, were looking and behold, there was a single great statue; that statue, which was large and of extraordinary splendor, was standing in front of you, and its appearance was awesome. The head of that statue was made of fine gold, its breast and its arms of silver, its belly and its thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. You continued looking until a stone was cut out without hands, and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and crushed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were crushed all at the same time and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away so that not a trace of them was found. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.
    1. The king had a dream that really disturbed him.
      1. He had all the interpreters assembled before him.
        1. He said, "I had a dream, and I am really anxious to know its meaning."
        2. The men assembled said, "May you live forever! Tell us your dream and we will tell you what it means."
        3. The king said, "No! You tell me both the dream and its meaning or all of you will be killed and your homes destroyed!"
      2. The assembled group were shocked by the request. "Tell us your dream!"
      3. However, the king was not be moved from his demand: "That will not happen! You are buying time. If I tell you the dream, you can deceive me."
        1. "Tell me both the dream and the meaning and I will give you great reward; if you do not tell me the dream, you will be killed."
        2. The group protested that the request was unfair, that only a god could respond satisfactorily to the king's demand.
    2. The king was indignant and furious, and issued orders to kill all the wise men of Babylon.
      1. Daniel learned of the king's plan and asked God to reveal the dream to him.
      2. God revealed the mystery to Daniel, and he requested an audience with the king.
      3. The scripture we read was Daniel revealing the dream to the king.

  3. Read with me Daniel 2:44, 45, which is the final part of the interpretation of the king's dream.
    In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever. Inasmuch as you saw that a stone was cut out of the mountain without hands and that it crushed the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold, the great God has made known to the king what will take place in the future; so the dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy."
    1. Most of the dream had to do with the great empires that were to come in the future.
      1. The beginning of these great empires was the Babylonian empire with King Nebuchadnezzar as its king.
      2. This is what would happen: the current empire would be swallowed up by the next empire. (Remember these empires were know to them as kingdoms.)
    2. The final kingdom would be God's kingdom.
      1. In the time of the final kingdom in the statue, God's kingdom would come into existence.
      2. It would be like a stone cut without hands that would crush the statue.
      3. God's kingdom would never be destroyed; it would endure forever--once God's kingdom came into existence, it would never cease to exist.

  4. Permit me to share with you some things I learn from this occurrence.
    1. The first lesson I learn from this occurrence comes from the fact that Daniel faced a "relationship with God" crisis.
      1. That crisis could have masked itself in many ways: a captivity crisis; a culture crisis; a political crisis; a horrible circumstances crisis; a reality crisis.
      2. But Daniel saw the crisis for what it was--allowing God to determine who and what Daniel was.
    2. The second lesson I learn from this occurrence [in fact from Daniel's life] is found in Daniel's awareness that God should receive all the credit.
      1. Daniel never approached a situation with the attitude "look what I can do."
      2. Daniel consistently made it clear to the king that it was God, not Daniel
      3. Daniel 2:20 - Daniel said, "Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, For wisdom and power belong to Him."
    3. The third lesson I learn from this occurrence is heard in Daniel's God-given interpretation of the dream: from the moment God's kingdom became a reality in this world, it never ceased to exist.
      1. It endured and continues to endure because of God's purposes and intent.
      2. It does not endure because of human accomplishments--the existence of God's kingdom depends on God, not on us.
    4. That leads me to a fourth realization: God's enduring kingdom began with God's achievements in Jesus Christ 2000 years ago, not with us 200 years ago.
      1. The key to being a part of God's enduring kingdom is what God did in Jesus Christ.
      2. The key is not in our achievements in what we perceive to be human correctness.
    5. Thus in our personal lives, the key to being a part of God's kingdom is allowing myself to be ruled by God.
      1. The key is not being more correct than everyone else.
      2. The key is being ruled by God.
      3. I can be correct in my opinion and still be totally removed from God.

I want to close by asking you to read with me a statement given in scripture by Paul to some people who were absolutely certain they were correct, and in their correctness they were sure they were superior to other people.

Romans 2:1-11 Therefore you have no excuse, every one of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each person according to his deeds: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God.

Does God rule you, or do you attempt to rule others?

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 19 October 2003

 Link to next sermon

 Link to other Writings of David Chadwell