AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH October 23, 2011
Presbyterian Church following the Bible without Qualification
and Christ without Compromise by Faith
in agreement with the thrust of the 1901 Constitution of the PC of Australia
DUMB PRIEST IN LUKE,
AND THE CASE IN PARALLEL DOMAINS,
WHEN MAN MEETS GOD
The Case of Daniel 6
Daniel, then, had been involved in life-threatening, highly dramatic events, with the unique power of God alone saving him and his friends, and in the process, giving a mighty expression of the divine analysis and indeed direction of history to come (Daniel 2). The testimony of this drawing near to God, in what might otherwise have been a slaughter of the Jewish cadre, together with the triumph of godliness amid and over depravity or inanity, and of God amidst multi-religious or merely nominally religious massings, was a divine exploit. It neither removed the liberty of man (to threaten) nor the hand of God (to deliver); nor did it remove the critical point of faith and action.
Daniel had been close to the Lord, in his extremities (in peril as a member of a class of people). Calling on the name of the Lord, along with his friends, they found that name showing the desired result. Just as with Stephen, as an attestation of the love of God, for many a miracle had already been performed by him (Acts 6-7), whose faith in early Church times had meant a willingness to be killed rather than retract concerning his testimony of Jesus Christ, so for Daniel, already stricken as an exile, miraculous deliverance was the divine option chosen. Just as Stephen's death had amazing impacts, not least, it seems, on Saul who became Paul, one intimately involved in the death, so Daniel and his friends had an impact on the Empire both in the times of the Babylonians and the Medes and Persians, in their own time, leading on to the case of Esther!
We learn at once not to allow a tempest of trouble, an onset of the unthinkable, a bellowing from the voice of the infernal, to upset or distress us. The issues are clear; the Lord is at hand for the Christian, whose faith in Him marks him out; and the opportunity to find his calling in the event becomes a challenging and even enticing necessity. God is there, available, and unlike many, willing to listen. The situation of peril thus becomes not a barren necessity for the members of Christ's body, but a productive one, whether of life or death. In the case of Daniel, who predicted the Messiah (Daniel 7, 9), it led not only to the case already noted. It led also to one of even more direct scope for reliance on God, as a servant sent into the world, to attest Him, obey and be devoted to Him, as souls are sought for Him, to deliver and to rescue them from their own not merely temporal, but eternal loss.
Thus in Chapter 6, we find jealous connivers, seeing Daniel's pre-eminence in the kingdom under the highly appreciative King, caused the latter to insist that only to him should prayer be made for a period. It is like the "Independent" Schools in this State, who are to accept the syllabus given, with all its horrendous perversion and presumption of content on creation, if they want their fundings. Daniel would NOT accept any such imposition on the faith, pure before God and with no compromise, whatever the forces of unbelief and godlessness might devise, contrary to the word of God and His commandments. Hence, the lion's den, having been prescribed, through the craft of those who envied him, meant an ill-smelling lair, if he lasted long enough to smell it. God closed their mouths, however, since Daniel had opened his.
The result of Daniel's faith and obedience, in itself a drawing near to God, was a divinely directed drama which showed even the respect if not love for his way of life, which the King felt, who mourned and waited with longing to see what God would do for His servant; for even the King, having made the law about prayer only to himself, could not alter it, for this their national law forbad. It found the King (Darius in this case) acknowledging as did Nebuchadnezzar before him, the reality of this God (Daniel 6:26ff.).
a decree that in every dominion of my kingdom
men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel,
for He is the living God, and steadfast forever;
His kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed,
and His dominion shall endure to the end.
He delivers and rescues,
and He works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth,
who has delivered Daniel from the power of the lions."
"So this Daniel prospered..." we read. How deep becomes a character so much involved, and so deeply with the God of all grace and power. Take hold of tests and trust, therefore, in the Lord. He has His own ways, and they are everlasting (Habakkuk 3:6).
The Case of Daniel 7
In the case of Daniel 7, the prophet had a vision by night. one which amplified the testimony already given in the dream interpretation of Daniel 2, when it was interpretation of the dream the content of which the King had sagely not given, or else death. The test was met by Daniel by the power of God, and the impact made.
Now Daniel, in the vision of Daniel 7, the young prophet finds things moving onto the end of this entire history of our Age, right up to the enthroning in glory of the Messiah, given majesty over the whole Kingdom that endures (Daniel 7:13-14), just as Daniel had been given authority in the imperial domain in the day of Nebuchadnezzar. Vast time spans and gloriously clear-cut information is given on the entire spiritual thrust of the plan of God, made known to Daniel for his own time as well as for ours!
How did Daniel feel, what was his personal experience in the midst of this astonishing revelation, still binding and happening before our eyes, as the day approaches for the return of this same Lord whom Daniel saw in the vision (7:25-27) ? He tells us in 7:28:
"As for me, Daniel, my thoughts greatly troubled me,
and my countenance changed; but I kept the matter in my heart."
This awe-stricken, God-fearing, vision-receiving sense of the glory of God and his own privilege in being shown such things and drawing so near to God, is a characteristic of Daniel. There is no sense of flamboyant striding onto the platform garlanded by the smiles of those entertained; on the contrary, it is not a hand-clapping sensationalism but deep, innermost recesses of feeling relate to this holy presence of the living God, an awesome reverence both to His majesty and His works. Glorious amid it all is this, that although the kingdom is given to the "people, the saints of the Most High," yet this is not mere democracy, for "all dominions shall serve and obey Him," as likewise the Son (Daniel 14).
The Case of Daniel 8
A new vision appeared to Daniel. It almost seems as if he were RECOVERING from the impact of the grandeur of the one before it. This time he is given more detail on the inner workings which would occur in two of the imperial bodies, the empires to come, namely the second and the third, the latter as in Daniel 7:6, to split into four parts (cf. Ancient Words: Modern Deeds Ch. 10). In this, which stops short of the final empire, that fourth one which continues till its final judgment, we come to the third one, the second last. This concentrates on one of the fourfold divisions of that third empire of Daniel 2 and 7. In Daniel 8, we learn more intimately of a time of massive, corrupt, devious and deceitful manipulation to come in Israel and of an abomination which it will suffer from such a ruler, with his "sinister schemes."
At the personal level, in this vision, Daniel hears one giving command to Gabriel, "make this man understand the vision." Thus it is given in a personal context, involving a kind of nursing, tender consideration of the prophet in the very midst of it. Then there follows an identification of the second empire, as Media and Persia, proceeding to the characterisation of what is to occur when, this defeated, the third comes into force and the four divisions are active. It is then that the experiences to come to Israel are committed to Daniel's mind. This would be in that one part of those four towards the South (Daniel 8:9), an imperial or regal rebellion against God. Man mad with power, would challenge even God. The uplifted king would confuse himself with the Almighty not a little, till his time comes, when "he will be broken without human means." These so great megalomaniacs, they are so small when facts catch up with them, and the Almighty brings about their salutary and edifying ruin.
As in Daniel 7:7-8, in the final kingdom or empire, so in 8:8-9, in the third one, there is a "little horn" or minor member among the nations involved, a personal one, an antichrist special, a persecutory and manipulative phenomenon, whose wild self-exaltation and appalling pomposity is thus given like a trailer for a motion picture (8:23-25, 7:20), a warning as we pass from the prelude in the 3rd Empire to the conclusion in the 4th.. The fulfilment in the broken up 3rd Empire was Antiochus Ephiphanes (Ancient Words ... Ch. 10); that in the last one will be seen when he duly comes. Already his mouth-type has been seen in action (cf. II Peter 2:18). Be therefore warned! The time has come when biblical revelation with pure logic (II Corinthians 10:5, Romans 1:17ff., I Peter 3:15), being inescapable, is detested, and pomposity holds the reins of the galloping 'horns' and their cultures.
What, however, of the reaction of Daniel, in this case, as presented in Daniel 8, as he was shown more and more of the horror of the evil and the power of the deliverance to come (8:25, a prelude to the case in the 4th Empire, 7:9-10,25-27) ?
As to Daniel in this case, in Daniel 8,
"And I, Daniel, fainted and was sick for days.
Afterward I arose and went about the king's business.
I was astounded at the vision, and there was none to explain it."
It seems again, that the privilege of being shown such details of history amid vicious evils, and the glorious overall control of God, left him reeling. He did not find himself with some sense of eminence, but the opposite, the feeling of being a small person in a great throne-room; and what he learned, though filled with meaning, caused him to reflect in realms above his normal thoughts: to the point that it was like a 'stunning' lecture, its impact clear, but its implications vast.
How wonderful is the Lord who makes such sharing of His prodigious truth and workings to the children of men, those who know Him and understand Him (Jeremiah 9:23-24). Though now, it is in much as in a glass dimly, yet soon, it will be face to face; and just as now, we learn the ways of the Lord, soon will it sharply apparent. It will become minutely clear as now in outline, so let us be zestful in our duties of obedience and faith in His word! Thus, like Daniel, however astounded at any developments about us, continue in our King's business, dutifully, always abounding in the work of the Lord, steadfast and immovable in Him, knowing our work is not in vain in the Lord (I Corinthians 15:58).
The Case of Daniel 9
Here in Daniel 9, we find Daniel fasting, with concerted prayer and supplication addressed to the Lord, for he had found that Jeremiah the prophet had set the time for the exile in Babylon, for Israel, at 70 years. This led to this concerted session of prayer. Would the Lord now act ? Daniel's confession as himself a sinner along with the rest, though he had not slighted God, extended into entreaty on behalf even of the rebellious nation, and is vast, simple, moving and earnest.
In the midst of this, or as he is drawing to the close of it, he is met by an angel, who announces that he is sent to give to the prophet, skill in understanding (Daniel 9:22). Through various vicissitudes has the angelic being come, but in speaking, he tells Daniel that he is greatly beloved, his supplications being known (cf. Romans 8:26). Using the 70 years, or time units, of the exile in Babylon as an arithmetic base, the Lord through the angel gives the timing of greatly significant events to come over the centuries ahead, with all the effortless seeming majesty of infinite knowledge in the Lord's domain. It comes till a time ending our Age, to which we are now moving at a great rate (cf. Answers to Questions Ch. 5, being vast in its scope.
Thus we learn in this case of the hope available from the word of God, for Daniels entreaty was based on hope, through faith; as also of the amazingly rapid and deep response from the Lord, who loves the prophet and gives him understanding as a gift, so that he might grow in understanding. Thus we all should seek the Lord on the basis of His word and seek with hope, which never makes us ashamed when it is in the Lord (Romans 5:5): your confidence in Him, as with a student and a teacher, helps the result to be poured into the receptive vessel, your believing heart; so do not be afraid or lax, but like Daniel, seek in such a way that you expect to find! Let us all then "GROW in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord" (II Peter 3:18).
The Case of Daniel 10 -12
Once again, instead of engaging in spiritual triumphalism, in view of his many 'successes' in the Lord's work, Daniel is like a man who is worthy of continual trust. He REMAINS HUMBLE AND CONTRITE, always ready to learn FROM THE LORD, not culture; from the truth, not bare-faced cultural deception; to conform to God spiritually, not to man statistically.
After the reign of Belshazzar (the demise of whose kingdom is another of Daniel's involvements, since he had been called to interpret the 'writing on the wall' in that case), in the time of King Cyrus, himself a fulfilment of Isaiah 44:24-45:7, a "message" was revealed to the exiled prophet. He had been mourning for three weeks (many were still in Babylon, and he was awaiting their restoration from this lapse in their continued nationhood, being far from their promised land). In this time he took nothing in the domain of pleasant food, meat or drink. Those things were subdued. During his vision, this time, the prophet was tenderly encouraged, supernally comforted and fortified (Daniel 10:11-12, in a way similar to that in Daniel 9:22-23) and shown anew the love of God.
Here Daniel had a vision of the Lord, and, conveyed from Him, there came in due course data on divine dealings to come concerning Persia and Greece, these being among the empires to come, the second and third. There follows in Chapter 11 an astonishingly detailed account of coming history over centuries, as detailed at Highway of Holiness Ch. 10.
This leads on in Ch. 12, to the resurrection, the bodily resurrection of the saints, and of those who are discarders of God, and so discarded from His presence. As these things are given, so we find in Daniel 12:4, instructions amid these deep dealings with deity. Daniel is told this (12:9-10):
way, Daniel, for the words are sealed up and closed to the time of the end.
Many shall be purified, made white and refined, but the wicked will do wickedly;
and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand."
So we too must go about our work for the Lord (for ALL work done in faith, as we wait on the Lord, is FOR HIM, first and foremost, and is done on that understanding). NONE of the godless will understand. They are committed to views which exclude what is basic to understanding, either in entirety or because of what amount to bugs, blights in their very method of gaining wisdom, and hence are like students in mathematics given full liberty to do ANYTHING, so long as numbers do not enter into it. They have very special problems and never find an answer! Faithlessness tends to become confusion. Thus the giving of a reason for the faith (I Peter 3:15) is for some like music played that moves perhaps, either to frenzy or to sentiment; but they CANNOT listen to it, because their minds, under the governance of their hearts, under the jurisdictive intolerance of the prince of this world (John 14:30) - no nice character- are bound, and their eyes are closed LEST they should see ( Matthew 13:15ff.). Yet God acts insuperably in His love, and uses what He will to enliven.
So Daniel teaches us much, in quietness of spirit, fronting blizzards of challenge, in intimacy with God, finding marvels of inspiration, kept lowly amidst this divine love, seeking to continue with the business appointed to him dutifully, while being crafted by God, and given the parallel to "intelligence sessions" in and amid his work, together with encouragement and affection. Praise God for His wonders, and His faithfulness to the children of men, and to us all, who indirectly but readily to hand, have His word, and the supply of His Spirit (Ephesians 2:17-18).
If anyone lacks this, the door is open as was that of the ark, though few entered, then as now. Before God, only sin prevents it (John 3:19), for God would have all come (I Timothy 2, John 3:15-18), and His own enter. That ark is Jesus Christ, who has provided in Himself a deliverance not on this occasion from any maritime flood, but from the judgment itself, giving us who entering, become His children, meanwhile access to His glorious presence as we go (John 14:21-23).