August 30, 2015
There are really only two kinds of people in this world. There are those who embrace God and his Son, Jesus Christ, and there are those who do not. Some may believe God exists but they do not acknowledge him as God. And those who believe in many gods have also failed to acknowledge the one, true God who exists in a plurality that we refer to as the Trinity.
Because God is the creator and sustainor of all things, because God created mankind, and because God is good, he has chosen to reveal himself to mankind. He has revealed himself through the immensity and complexity of the natural world. He has revealed himself in the Word of God. But the clearest, most important revelation of God to mankind is in the person of his Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus is God in the flesh.
However, there is another way God reveals himself to mankind. We see this again and again in Scripture. We see it in Daniel. It is very important to understand that in every society God desires to reveal his glory through his people.
I. GOD SETS THE STAGE TO REVEAL HIS GLORY. Dan.2:1-16
In the 2nd year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar had a troubling dream. Scholars suggest this dream occurred between April of 603 and March of 602. It would seem that Daniel and his friends had not yet completed their three years of study. Perhaps that is why when the king called all the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers to meet with him, Daniel and his friends were not in that meeting.
Notice what the king wanted them to do. In v.4 these wise men asked the king to share his dream so they could interpret it. But in v.5 we learn that the king wanted them to tell him the dream and then to interpret it. And if they could not do it, they would all be torn limb from limb and their houses be destroyed. As you can imagine they were quite upset. In v.10-11 we read, “The Chaldeans answered the king and said, "There is not a man on earth who can meet the king's demand, for no great and powerful king has asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or Chaldean. The thing that the king asks is difficult, and no one can show it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh."
Clearly the king did not have much faith in his wise men. He was not about to share his dream with them because he wanted to be sure that their interpretation was correct. In v.12 the decree is given that all the wise men of Babylon were to be destroyed.
When Arioch, the king’s captain came to take Daniel and his friends into custody to be killed, you notice in v.14 that Daniel spoke to Arioch with prudence and discretion, asking why the king was acting in such haste. When Daniel understood the situation, he went to the king and asked that the king appoint a time when Daniel could reveal the dream and its interpretation.
Wow! What a gutsy thing to do. No one else was stepping up to meet the king’s demands. But you might remember that in Dan.1:17 we learned that Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. He had some experience in interpreting dreams. But still the situation was alarming for no king had ever asked the wise men to first tell the dream.
In his commentary on Daniel, Gleason Archer writes, “The stage was now set to show the reality, wisdom, and power of the one true God, Yahweh, as over against the inarticulate and impotent imaginary gods the magicians worshiped.” So who set the stage? Obviously God did.
I want us to see that no matter how godless or idolatrous a culture might be, God is deeply committed to revealing his Name, his goodness, his power, his glory. In Ex.9:16 God tells Moses what he should say to Pharaoh. Moses is to say, “But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.”
When the Lord revealed the dream to Daniel, Daniel gave thanks and in v.21 we read, “He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.” God is very involved in the affairs of the world.
As the church loses its place of honor and respect in society, as we continue to recede in our ability to influence our culture and government, we may wonder what God is doing. And if the day comes when Christians in the United States are persecuted for the cause of Christ, we may wonder why God would allow this. We may even wonder where God has gone.
God has not gone anywhere. God is still on his throne and he is still concerned to see his name exalted and proclaimed in all the earth, including the United States. God is always setting the stage for his glory to be revealed.
Now this is not just true on a national and political level. It is also true on a personal level. In the places where we work, go to school and live, God is setting the stage for us to proclaim the glory of his name. In other words, when you go to work, when you go to school, when you are at home and with friends, God is present and he is interested in seeing his name publically honored. We can be confident that God is present and working. So when you go to work remind yourself, “God is here and working to honor his name.
Now Daniel did not have to try and second guess God as to when he needed to step up. It was clear. If he didn’t step up death was eminent for all the wise men. Well, as believers in this world, I do not think we need to worry about trying to figure out when we should step up to the plate. If we are surrendered to the Lord, I believe God will make it clear. Honoring his name will be our natural response as the opportunities arise. God is in control and since he is most interested in seeing his name and glory proclaimed, God is all over that. And there are many examples of this in scripture. God is continually setting the stage to reveal his glory.
II. GOD USES THOSE WHO HONOR HIM. Dan.2:17-45
There are a number of ways in which Daniel honored the Lord in v.17-45. Before we look at these examples, let me say that honoring the Lord begins with the surrender of one’s entire life to the Lord. Honoring the lord is not just doing certain Christian rituals. It flows from a surrendered heart. In 1Cor Paul writes, “And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” Paul was not interested in making a name for himself in Corinth. He wanted to proclaim Christ. Paul was God’s man.
Daniel was not interested in making a name for himself. He was interested in honoring God with his life. When God is going to make his name known, he uses those who honor him.
So when Daniel was given time to consider the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream it is instructive to see that the first thing he did was to gather his friends for some serious prayer. The fact is, Daniel did not know the dream. In v.18 Daniel told his friends “to seek mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his companions might not be destroyed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.” And when the vision was revealed to Daniel he did not hesitate to give thanks to God in v.20-23.
If God is going to use us in our post-Christendom society, we must be a people of prayer, asking God in his mercy, to give us what is needed to know how best to proclaim his name in ways that our culture can hear. Truth be told, because things have changed so much in our culture, sometimes we are at a loss to know how best to bring the gospel to others. It is like a mystery to us. But of course, it is not a mystery to God. Do we want to proclaim his name? We need to seek his mercy.
Once Daniel knew the king’s dream and its interpretation, he was brought to the king. The king asked, “Are you able to make known to me the dream that I have seen and its interpretation?" Daniel did not say, “I can.” Rather Daniel used the opportunity to honor God. In v.27-28 we read, “No wise men, enchanters, magicians, or astrologers can show to the king the mystery that the king has asked, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and he has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days.”
As Daniel described the dream he took every opportunity to highlight the power and glory of God. Look at v.37-38 (read). The king’s dream spoke of various empires that would rule on the earth. But God was going to set up a kingdom that would stand forever. Of course we believe that kingdom is the kingdom of God with Christ as its king. Verse 44 says, “And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever.” And finally in v.45 Daniel says, “A great God has made known to the king what shall be after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation sure." Daniel honored the Lord before the king, letting the king know that his authority to rule came from God.
Coming from a well to do family in Brentwood, TN, 18 year old Katie did not feel compelled to go to college. She did feel compelled to go to Uganda. In December of 2006 she spent a brief time in Uganda and was immediately captivated with the people and the culture. In the summer of 2007, Katie returned to Uganda to teach Kindergarten at an orphanage. As she walked the children home from school, she was shocked to see the number of school-aged children walking along the road, playing with friends, washing their families’ dishes, or digging in the fields. She learned that most schools in Uganda require school fees, making it difficult for poor families to afford an education for their children. God laid it on Katie’s heart to start an Education Sponsorship Outreach matching orphaned and vulnerable children who are unable to afford schooling with sponsors anywhere in the world. An annual gift of $300 enables one child to go to Christian school and provides the necessary school supplies, 3 hot meals each day, spiritual discipleship, and medical care. Originally intending to have only a handful of children in the program, Katie had 150 signed up by the end of 2008. Today the program sponsors over 700 children.
Later that year, in 2008, she established a 501(c)3 non-profit organization called Amazima Ministries International. “Amazima” means “truth” in the native Luganda language. The organization seeks to meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the people of Uganda who need it most.
Shortly thereafter, Katie was introduced to the Karimojong people of Masese. Living in poverty, and losing their children to malnutrition and starvation at an astounding rate, she noticed their desperate need for nutritious food. She started what is now the Masese Feeding Outreach, which provides meals to 1,200 children Monday through Friday. This program allows the children to attend school and therefore not be forced to beg on the street. Amazima also provides medical care, Bible study, and general health training to the Masese community.
As her friendships developed in Masese, Katie wanted to help the women in the village provide for their families, for the Gospel to take root, and for them to be change agents in the community. She initiated a self-sustaining vocational program to empower these women to generate needed income by making unique Ugandan magazine bead necklaces. The necklaces made by the women are sold in the United States. The money the women receive for their beads allows them to support their family and send their children to school.
Now the mother of 13 adopted Ugandan daughters, Katie says, “People tell me I am brave. People tell me I am strong. People tell me, ‘Good job.’ Well here is the truth of it. I am really not that brave, I am not that strong, and I am not doing anything spectacular. I am just doing what God called me to do as a follower of Him. Feed His sheep, do unto the least of His people.”
I don’t know about you, but at age 18 in comparison, I feel like I was still learning to tie my shoes. Katie could have gone to college and had a successful career in the United States, but Katie has chosen to honor God with her life. She is proclaiming the name and glory of God through her selfless servant’s heart and her public love for Christ.
Daniel and Katie willingly offered themselves to meet needs as they depended solely on God. God uses those who honor him and put him first, those who are willing to be second; those who are willing to step up when the need arises. Do you live to honor God?
III. GOD HONORS THOSE WHO HONOR HIM. Dan.2:46-49
In 1Sam.2:30 God says, “Those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained.” Now look at Dan.2:46-49 (read). Daniel publically honored God above king Nebuchadnezzar. King Nebuchadnezzar honored Daniel because he realized that Daniel was able to do something that none of the other so called wise men could do.
But the king also recognized that it was God, the God of gods who enabled Daniel to do this. The king did not ask, “How did you do that.” It’s because Daniel made it very clear from the beginning that God is the One who reveals dreams.
Think about what happened here. This Jewish captive was promoted to ruler over the whole province of Babylon and over all the wise men. Daniel wasn’t promoted because he was so brilliant. He was promoted because he honored God and God honored Daniel.
God always honors those who honor him. Now I imagine you might thinking to yourself, “Well wait. There are many Christians in the world who honor God and they are paying for it dearly. God doesn’t seem to be honoring them. In fact we could look at Jesus himself. Jesus publically honored God more than anyone else in this world and look at what happened to him.
So we must qualify this thought. God always honors those who honor him either in this life or the next. It wasn’t until Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave that he was exalted to the highest place so that every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God. 1Pt.5:6 says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you.”
Daniel received much honor in Babylon, but as we will see, that honor put him in some difficult places. When God honors us in this world, it is only so we have a greater platform to honor him more in this world by expressing his love and goodness to others and by pointed all to Jesus.
Men and women, our highest privilege is to honor God and reveal his glory in and through our lives. So in all our relationships we want others to see that we belong to God and serve him. In our work and our studies we want to honor God. We live for God and his son, Jesus. Why? Well, because God is God and because God has blessed us in every way through his Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior, Lord and King. Is God honoring his name through you in this world? Are you surrendered to him?