Monday, May 26, 2014

Sermon Daniel 1 Who is in charge


Who is Sovereign?

Who is in charge here then?

I fear many today think we ourselves are!

Consider this, are you anxious?

Not mere concern about something, not just planning for today or tomorrow but what keeps you awake at night?

What causes you to have sleepless nights? Or stomach ulcers?

Is it relationships? Arguments going on the family?

Loss of your job? Unrealistic expectations put upon you are work or in the home?

Sickness of the ones you love?

Or the car wasn’t fixed properly by the mechanic and now you wonder how you will pay for it?

Or you’re facing exams at school?

What is it?

If you are so anxious that it effects you that much it’s really only a step away from getting depressed!

Well if you come to grips with Daniel 1 then you are on your way to dealing with all that properly.

What do we make then of Daniel 1?

Some in the past have said it’s about faith and unbelief

– and drawn attention to the faith of Daniel and his friends and the unbelief of Nebuchadnezzar.

I know of a preacher who spoke to a youth group on Daniel 1 and said it’s about faith in Jesus. But that’s not listening to what God actually says in the chapter.


It’s just putting a spin on it that is far from the text itself and its context.

Since as you read through the book

you find it’s much more than that.

Jesus himself in Matthew 24:15 Told us that Daniel was a prophet and that steers us along the right path.
            Daniel wasn’t just an example of a good Jewish boy that we do well to imitate, he was a prophet.

Trouble is that we tend to think of Daniel in light of the Sunday school stories about Daniel and the lion’s den and the like.

So we need to cast our eyes to the text of God’s Word and observe carefully how it starts.

Clearly in verse 1 we are struck by the historical concreteness of the book.
            It happened in history that in the third year of Jehoiakim,  Nebuchadnezzar came and besieged Jerusalem

Now people tend to think the chapter is all about Daniel and his friends but then they haven’t pondered how in verse 2 it doesn’t say Daniel and his friends were carted off to exile to Babylon,
                        no ……  it says the Lord gave into the hand of Neb some of the temple items and these were carted off to Babylon and put in the temples of Nebuchadnezzar’s gods!

Now this is a big thing for the Jewish readers.

We lose sight of its significance because we aren’t thoughtful about what it means we haven’t learnt to ask “why this

It’s not that God is materialist like us and thinks highly of material things.

Rather behind it lays before us the connotation of  Who is in charge here.

Is God Sovereign or the gods of the Babylonians ?

Is God in charge or is Neb as we read later who likes to think life is all about his power and glory?

You see in the ancient Near East Countries and Kings regard their god’s as the God when they were successful in battle.
            It proved the “reality” of their gods when they were successful in battle.

            And to take the temple items off to their temples declared that these were lesser gods compared to their god or gods.

But you know what, here God tells us He was behind the defeat of Judah!

He isn’t worried or think it’s the end of the world when his temple items are placed in pagan temples – because there’s something bigger at stake!,

His name had already been trampled in the dust because of Judah’s abhorrent sins

God had spoken to Moses back in Deut that if Israel broke her Covenant with him they’d be taken into exile.

Through Daniel’s contemporaries Ezekiel and Jeremiah and Isaiah he’d warned her to repent or face exile, but they continued.

Just 100 years before Neb besieged Judah, the Assyrians had carted off Israel into Exile.
            Perhaps they’d become complacent – well nothing’s happened to us – “we missed that broadside well”  -  as though they had engineered their safety!

But no – they were steeped in sin and hardened.

…. Ezekiel 8 just look at verses 16-17.. their sin was so blatant that even in the corridors of the Temple they were worshipping other gods of the North and women at the gates were worshipping Tamuz


Just to reinforce that this chapter is all about God who is Sovereign see how it’s not just in verse 2 “the Lord delivered”  but highlighted in verse 9, 17 in the midst of the story about Daniel and his friends.

God is in charge, things are coming to pass that he wants.

In this case it is the punishment of Judah for its sins against him.

So the people of God needed to hear through Daniel that things now had come to a head.
            Their just deserts as he warned about were coming upon them.

But in the midst of that ----  we then read of Daniel and his friends. Why is that here? What’s that all about?

You will notice that these three were taken as teenagers off to Babylon, to be slaves in Nebuchadnezzar’s palace.
            They were probably somewhere between 15 and 17 years of age.

They were thoroughly trained in the education and culture of the Babylonians, but did they object? No.

They had their names changed to represent the Babylonian Gods,

Daniel, whose name means “God is Judge“  was called Belteshazzar meaning “Bel (ie Marduk) protect his life”

Hananiah means “The Lord shows Grace” but Shadrach means Command of Aku ( the Sumerian moon god )

Mishael means “Who is what God is?” or phrased slightly differently for us so we can grasp it “he that is a strong God”  whereas Meshach probably means “Aku is strong” [[ “who or what Aku is” ]]

And Azariah means “The Lord helps”  whereas Abednego means “servant of Nego” another god of the Babylonians.


Did they object and say no way?

Only at one point did they object,
            only regarding one thing did Daniel lay it all on the line.

And this wasn’t insignificant or irrelevant to their situation. The consequences were severe.

We are far removed from the kind of absolute power and control over human life that Nebuchadnezzar had.

We glimpse it later in the book when he orders the men thrown into the fiery furnace.
            Was he concerned that the guards lost their lives by just getting too close to the furnace in throwing in the Israelites  --  no.
                        he could look at you on whim and say to the guards “kill him.”

So what Daniel was doing had great consequences.
            Even the man in charge of Daniel and the others, Ashpenaz  realized this.       

                    That if they stood out as not looking their best, Ashpenaz  could lose his life as well.

But Daniel stood his ground on the issue of food and wine.

It tells us this clearly in the text itself of Daniel 1

In verse  8……

Why does Daniel decide to challenge it ?

Back in the book of Leviticus God laid out Israel’s dietary laws
                                   and elsewhere
forbade eating of such foods and wine.

But these are not the justification for Daniel's stance here. There seems no clear link to those laws in Leviticus, but Deut 32 is one chapter that stands out.

READ Deut 32 :36-40  this is a central text for us here.

Remarkably it begins ‘The Lord is Judge’ and Daniels name means ‘God is Judge’.

Whilst Judah and Jerusalem we sinning and sunning themselves and ignoring God, the warnings of Ezekiel rang out as in Ezek 4: where in verse 12 the food in exile they’d be given to eat would be as defiled as if it were baked in human excrement!

Behind it stood an ANE custom of kings dedicating their food to their gods.
In this case such food and wine coming from the kings plate as it were,  was defiled, because it had been offered and dedicated to Nebuchadnezzar’s god.

Anyway, we are clearly told in Daniel 1 that the sole reason was the defilement of the food and wine.

I don’t need to go into this any further this morning because what we need to hear is what the people of God had to hear.

Daniel and his friends mere teenagers, stood firm on the commands of God’s Word.

Where there was a clash between what God said and what man said, even a despot like Nebuchadnezzar, one is to follow God.

This is one of the things we are to learn from Daniel 1

But first we are to learn God is in Control of all things, Nothing takes place regardless of Him.

He is Sovereign.

Things may appear terrible,
            but they are not chaos.
                        Sometimes it due to sin and punishment is taking place,
                                                sometimes it’s even due to the sin of other people.

Hear that today! It can be due to the sin of others.

Daniel and his friends obviously had faithful godly parents who had taught them  God’s Word in their younger days before exile!

And it had stuck.

So some in the midst of terrible times, know God and His Word,

and secondly,
            that godly people can be caught up in calamities and disasters caused by others!

They were taken into exile or killed in the invasion of Nebuchadnezzar.


So, The people of God needed to hear God is in control,
                                                He is in charge, not Nebuchadnezzar.

And we need to understand that too in our place of History.

It doesn’t matter in real terms whether its liberals of labor in Government.

What matters for us is What God says and obeying that.

It doesn’t matter if we are destitute,
            loose our homes and comfortable way of life because of economic decisions of others.
            What matters is God.

I began this morning with thinking about what you are anxious about, what keeps you awake at night?

Perhaps you are depressed about something?

Well God knows and God cares.

Doesn’t matter what bad experience you might have had in life or are even experiencing now

God knows and God cares, God is in Control. So will you grab hold of that?

God is Sovereign indeed Acts 17 tells us that it is God who decided when you were born!
Not your parents!
                        It was in this last 100 years and not back in Elizabethan times or the French revolution times when people were starving or Assyrian times.

He decided. So He knows what difficulties you have encountered or will encounter.

And not only did God decide when but where!   

Here in Australia – a place of great opportunities and wealth at present.

But those things aren’t to be what consumes us.

Nope we need to be grounded in His Word so whatever confronts us we know where to take our stand and with whom!

With the Sovereign Lord.


Let’s pray.

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