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I Dare You: Submit! - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig
The Truth Network Radio
January 12, 2023 5:00 am

I Dare You: Submit! - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig

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January 12, 2023 5:00 am

In the book of Daniel, we read about a king who recognized God's authoritative rule in the human realm. In the message "I Dare You: Submit!" Skip explores how this story has implications for us to submit to God by submitting to human government.

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You can be challenged and yet not changed. You can be moved and yet not motivated. You can be impressed and yet not pressed to do anything about it. We used to call these Alka-Seltzer Christians.

They bubble up really quickly, but they fizzle out as quickly. Nobody is outside of the reach of God's hand and influence. And today on Connect with Skip Heitig, Skip examines one of the strangest events in Scripture to show you that God can get a hold of anyone no matter who they are. Now, here's an offer that'll help you love your Bible studies and get the most out of your time in God's Word. So it's another new year and you've resolved to study through the entire Bible again. Very often, somewhere around 2 Chronicles, that wonderful goal can grind to a halt.

Well, this year can be different. We have a package of resources with an excellent strategy for successfully studying through all 66 books this year. It includes Skip Heitig's book, The Bible from 30,000 Feet, which lifts you to a new biblical altitude to help you get a new view of the full counsel of God's Word.

Make 2023 the year you truly make it through a solid survey of the entire scope of Scripture. This package also includes Skip's super accessible book, How to Study the Bible and Enjoy It, along with The Bible from 30,000 Feet. Both are our thanks when you give $50 or more today to help reach more people through Connect with Skip Heitig. Skip has asked the team at Connection Communications to make it a priority in 2023 to take daily messages as you've heard today and expand them into more metropolitan areas. It is obvious that the population centers of our nation are in deep need of hearing the truth and that is exactly our plan for the future with Skip's teachings. Will you help us make that happen? Call 800-922-1888 or give online securely at connectwithskip.com slash offer.

That's connectwithskip.com slash offer. Okay, we're in Daniel chapter 4 as we dive into today's lesson with Skip Heitig. It's often said the truth is stranger than fiction and chapter 4 of the book of Daniel is a good example of that.

It is really one of the weirdest episodes in all of the Bible. It is the state of the union message from King Nebuchadnezzar to all of the people under his authority and domain. The state of the union is an American tradition. It goes all the way back to our constitution where in article 2 it says, the president of the United States shall from time to time inform Congress of the state of the union.

So it's been a tradition since our first president George Washington. The average length of the state of the union message in American history is 5,000 words. George Washington gave the shortest of all 833 words. Harry Truman gave the longest in 1946, 25,000 words. Nebuchadnezzar's state of the union in chapter 4 is around 1,200 words of a man who encountered God and what he writes about this episode in his life. It is monumental. Can you imagine a president of the United States getting on national television in front of the Congress giving a state of the union message and beginning something like this?

Distinguished members of Congress, citizens of the United States, and people of the world, God has spoken to me. A silence would fall over that room. The White House staff would be scrambling of what to do next. What is he going to say? This is unusual. This is unlikely. And then he would say something like, the God of heaven has gotten ahold of me and shown me his plan, not only for the world, but for my life.

Everybody would be going, uh-oh. Essentially in chapter 4 of Daniel, that's what we have, the state of the union as seen by Nebuchadnezzar after God has gotten ahold of his life. It is a remarkable section with a remarkable story about a king who makes a remarkable statement.

A little bit of history. 25 to 30 years have passed between chapter 3 of Daniel, where we ended last week, and chapter 4, where we begin. So this means since there was a gap of 16 years between chapter 2 and 3, that it's been 45 years since Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, received that first dream and the interpretation from Daniel about successive world governing empires. Now somebody in reading through the book of Daniel might say, doesn't this king cop a clue? I mean, God has spoken to him dramatically in a dream in chapter 2. In chapter 3, there was this miraculous deliverance of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the fiery furnace. Why is he even not believing at this point?

Why is this all necessary? Well, if you were to follow Nebuchadnezzar's journey so far, spiritual journey, he was challenged, he was moved, and he was impressed by the episodes in chapters 2 and 3. But you can be challenged and yet not changed. You can be moved and yet not motivated. You can be impressed and yet not pressed to do anything about it. We used to call these Alka-Seltzer Christians.

They bubble up really quickly, but they don't bubble up really quickly, but they fizzle out as quickly. Nebuchadnezzar gets all excited in chapter 2, but he quickly forgets about it. And in chapter 3, evidently, he has forgotten the lessons that God was trying to get ahold of him with. Like the old saying, you can put a pig in a parlor and it will not change the pig, but it will certainly change the parlor. Up till now, Nebuchadnezzar hasn't really been changed, I say, until now.

Remarkably, he is. And it is such a remarkable story and a long one that we're going to cut it into part of chapter 4. We look at this week, part of chapter 4 next week. The great lessons we learn in the words ahead of us are simply that God can get ahold of anyone and utterly change him or her, even a politician.

I know that's hard for some of you to believe, but it can happen. Number two, it shows us our role and responsibility as believers to the authorities around us, and the challenge will be for us to submit. So we're going to look, beginning in verse 1 down to verse 18, at a remarkable section, a remarkable story, and a remarkable statement. Verse 1, Nebuchadnezzar, the king, to all peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth, peace be multiplied to you. I thought it good to declare the signs and wonders that the most high God worked for me.

How great are his signs. How mighty his wonders. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation. I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at rest in my house and flourishing in my palace. It's a remarkable section because it's the only portion of Scripture written by a pagan king, or at least a one-time pagan king. It's in the first person, I, me, my, this is what I saw, this is what I experienced. It is the king's personal account where he deals with the most high God, he says in this verse.

The episode that we read this week and next week is an episode that rattled King Nebuchadnezzar to the core of his being. And I would say that any authentic contact with God must eventually be demonstrated in the life of the person who's made contact. It has to change you somehow.

It has to somehow humble you. Find a proud person who claims to know God, and you have found a liar. When Isaiah the prophet encountered God, he said, woe is me, I am undone. When Peter understood that Jesus was who he understood him to be, he said, depart from me, Lord, I'm a sinful man. He saw himself in the light of who Jesus was, and it changed him. Like the old saying, if your religion hasn't changed you, maybe it's time for you to change your religion. We have, in effect, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, changing his religion from that polytheism that he knew to believing in the true God.

That's how I see it. And this is his testimony, his personal encounter with God. And this is his testimony, his personal encounter. Few things are more powerful than your own verbal, personal testimony of how God has worked in your life, your spiritual journey. I'll never forget going to one of my high school reunions, and I think it was the first one, and letting people know that I was a Christian and seeing the shock written on their faces.

You're kidding, they said. And then I watched even better when I said, and I'm a pastor. But I got the shock of my life when I saw one guy I recognized from my senior high school class, John Booth, football player, partier, Mr. Popular, cynic, come run to me with a smile on his. I'd never seen him smile. I'd seen him grunt, but he smiled, put his arms around me and said, God bless you. I'm a Christian too. I thought, no way. Is there somebody that you consider hopeless or beyond reach, somebody that you wish were with you today? And you think, you know what?

I don't think it will ever happen. Don't you think Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego might have thought that about Nebuchadnezzar? Hebrews 7 tells us he is able to save to the uttermost those who come to him by Christ, or as Spurgeon put it, he's able to save to the gutter most, pull people right out of the gutter. Also, this is a remarkable portion of Scripture because Nebuchadnezzar is the only person in the Bible with the condition that will be described in the verses that we're about to read.

He exhibits a form of insanity, a psychotic disorder known as insanias zoanthropica, aka, boanthropy or zoanthropy, where a person believes himself or herself to be an ox or a wolf, some animal form. In fact, not only does the Bible record this, but there are two places in secular history, one by Flavius Josephus, the Jewish historian, who quotes a Babylonian historian by the name of Berassus, citing that Nebuchadnezzar had this malady. The other by a Greek historian, 268 BC, by the name of Abedenus, who mentions that this occurred historically. Where Nebuchadnezzar, his life is reduced to that of an animal for a period of years. Also, look at verse three once again. Nebuchadnezzar says, how great are his signs, how mighty his wonders. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom.

His dominion is from generation to generation. Now, there's going to be more of this praise toward the end of this chapter. This is the only psalm of praise written by a Gentile king. There are portions of the Bible written by a Gentile.

Luke was a Gentile, gave us the gospel of Luke, the book of Acts. But these come from the lips of a pagan king who acknowledges the God of heaven, and his words sound more like King David than King Nebuchadnezzar. Written probably eight years after the episode occurred, he is now recovered, he is sane, and he sits down to write this. God got a hold of Nebuchadnezzar in the nick of time. According to history, he was toward his latter years of his reign. The older age had set in. Babylon was now flourishing, he had made his dreams come true, the kingdom was at peace. He was flourishing in his house, he was at rest. He had it made, but God got a hold of his life in the nick of time.

Doesn't God do that? The nick of time. The thief on the cross, the nick of time. I met a man several years ago from Japan, his name was Mike Kohama. Interesting story, he was a pastor in Tokyo, but in his early years, he was a kamikaze pilot for the Japanese Air Force. Now obviously he didn't fly his mission because I met him. His mother was a Christian, a devout believer who prayed for her son every day, but Mike hardened his heart against the Lord. Two weeks before he was to fly his kamikaze suicide mission, the war ended.

Put him in sort of to a depression, a tailspin. He went on a search, and weeks later he gave his life to Jesus Christ, and he says, in the nick of time. And now, or after that, he's in heaven now, but he served for many years as a pastor in Tokyo. A remarkable section. Let's look at verse four and see this story, how remarkable it is. I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at rest in my house, flourishing in my palace.

The word flourishing means to grow green. That's important, especially with the story that will be unfolded. I saw a dream which made me afraid. Terrified would be a better translation. And the thoughts on my bed and the visions of my head troubled me. Therefore, I issued a decree to bring in all the wise men of Babylon before me that they might make known to me the interpretation of the dream. Then the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, soothsayers came in, and I told them the dream, but they did not make known to me its interpretation. Sound familiar?

Sound a lot like chapter two, an episode 45 years prior to this? But at last, Daniel came before me. His name is Belteshazzar, according to the name of my God. In him is the spirit of the holy God.

And I told him the dream before me, saying. He calls Daniel Belteshazzar, because at that time in his life, in his testimony, he was polytheistic, but he says in him is the spirit of the living God. Here's a thought. If this is a true conversion, just think, we're going to see Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, in heaven.

That is such a crazy, awesome thought. That's the embracing mercy of God. Now look at verse nine.

Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, because he was the chief of the magicians, because I know that the spirit of the holy God is in you, and no secret troubles you. Explain to me the vision of my dream that I have seen and its interpretation. These are the visions of my head while on my bed. I was looking. And behold, a tree in the midst of the earth, and its height was great. The tree grew and became strong, its height reached to the heavens.

It could be seen to the ends of all the earth. Its leaves were lovely. Remember, Nebuchadnezzar was flourishing or growing green in his palace. Its fruit abundant, and in it was food for all. The beasts of the field found shade under it. The birds of the heavens dwelt in its branches, and all flesh was fed from it.

I saw in the visions of my head on my bed, and there was a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven. He cried aloud and said thus, chop down the tree and cut off its branches, strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the beasts get out from under it, and the birds from its branches nevertheless leave the stump and roots in the earth. Bound with a band of iron and bronze in the tender grass of the field, let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let him graze with the beasts on the grass of the earth. Let his heart be changed from that of a man. Let him be given the heart of a beast, and let seven times, most would see that as seven years, pass over him. Forty-five years prior to chapter four, Nebuchadnezzar had a dream. This is now the second dream for this king.

It says he was in his palace at rest, at ease. I sort of picture hands behind the head, feet up on a pillow, thinking, ah, this is the life, man, I've got it made. And then he just sort of fell asleep and had one of those dreams. And when he woke up, even though the first dream was 45 years ago, he must have thought, this is going to be a bad day, isn't it?

The dream he had 45 years ago was the dream of successive empires, head of gold, chest of silver, stomach and thighs of bronze, legs of iron, feet of iron and clay. This dream is different in that it shows the future of King Nebuchadnezzar personally. And God speaks to him through this dream.

It rattles him. I've never had a dream from the Lord, at least one that I'm conscious was from the Lord. I've had plenty of exciting dreams, but usually from a late night pizza with onions, something like that. But this is a dream from God.

And I've known people who've had dreams. I know a woman who did not believe in Christ. And she had a dream of Jesus one night, she got out of her bed, tears in her eyes fell to her knees, committed her life to Christ. And she is still walking with the Lord to this day.

Very dramatic. I have read the accounts of people in Africa and in the Middle East, especially Muslims who have come to faith in Jesus Christ, hundreds of them because of dreams. The testimony of one man who goes by the name of Timothy was a young man from Egypt. He believed in the Sufi sect of Islam, a very mystical Islamic group.

At age 14, Timothy became an evangelist for this sect, went out to the streets, tried to win people to the Sufi belief system in Islam. But according to Timothy, it wasn't enough. His heart was empty. He wanted what he said, intimacy with God, and he was not getting that. One night he went to sleep and he had a dream. He said, and I'm quoting, one night Christ appeared to me and said in a tender and sweet voice, I love you.

I saw how obstinately I had resisted him all of these years and said to him in tears, I love you too. I know you. You are eternal forever and ever. Close quote. And young Timothy gave his life to Christ. Now when you read of a dream or you hear of a dream that somebody gets, it doesn't mean that person is more special or more spiritual. In fact, he could be the least spiritual. And God has to use strict, stringent means to get ahold of that person. For example, Pharaoh in the Old Testament had a dream from God.

Remember the seven cows that ate the seven fat cows? Laban in the book of Genesis, not a spiritual guy, got a dream from God. The Midianites saw a dream of a loaf of bread tumbling through their camp, a dream about Gideon who would be used by God to overthrow the Midianites. Pilate's wife, Pontius Pilate's wife, had a dream about Jesus Christ and warned her husband, leave this man alone. I've had dreams about him, troubling dreams. Look at verse seven.

The magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, soothsayers came in. He calls in the Babylonian God squad, all the psychics, Miss Cleo and Oliver Gang. And you wonder, why does he do this?

I mean, they failed in chapter two. Why does he do it again? Can I just say we are creatures of habit.

This is Babylonian protocol. This is what he's always done is what he does. I think some of us are very similar to this. Probably if you were a worrier a year ago, you're a worrier today unless God has done some dramatic thing in your life.

If you struggled with greed and lust in the past, you probably still are. Again, unless God has done a dramatic work in your life. Finally, he calls Daniel in. After these guys failed the test, Daniel comes in with the right answer. Why didn't he just call Daniel first?

I don't know. Daniel could have been away on business and just showed back up in town, or perhaps he was afraid to call Daniel first. Maybe he remembered 45 years ago in chapter two, when Daniel came in and it wasn't good news.

You, O king, he said, are the head of gold after you will arise a kingdom inferior to yours that will take over. So, you know, no news is good news as far as Daniel is concerned. It's sort of like that today, the same reason that other religions are tolerated and Christianity is not. Everybody likes sort of the spiritual thing. Let's have the co-exist bumper sticker and we just transcend in love and peace. But we don't want the guy who comes in and says, you need to repent of your sin.

That's Skip Heitig with a message from the series, I Dare You. Find the full message as well as books, booklets, and full teaching series at connectwithskipp.com. Now we want to share about an exciting opportunity you have to take your knowledge of God's word even deeper.

Personal or small group Bible study is a great way to learn God's word, but what if you want to learn more, go deeper. This spring, Calvary College is offering classes and ministry training, classes like personal evangelism. Learn how to be a dynamic, confident witness for Jesus Christ.

Take evening classes on campus or anytime classes online. An education from Calvary College will impact your spiritual life for the rest of your life. Apply now at calvarychurchcollege.com.

That's calvarychurchcollege.com. God has called us to make His name known and tell others the good news of salvation in Christ, even when the world doesn't listen or tells us to sit down and be quiet. That's why we share these messages, to encourage you in your faith so you can be a powerful witness for Christ in the world. And in this new year of ministry, Skip wants to get these messages into more major U.S. cities. Would you consider a gift today to help make this possible? You'll not only help encourage others, but you'll keep these teachings you love available to you as well. Just call 800-922-1888 to give a gift today.

That's 800-922-1888. Or visit connectwithskip.com slash donate. That's connectwithskip.com slash donate. Thank you. Join us again tomorrow as Skip challenges you to submit to human government because it's God's will for you to do so. Connect with Skip Hyten is a presentation of Connection Communications, connecting you to God's never-changing truth in ever-changing times.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-12 04:54:57 / 2023-01-12 05:04:29 / 10

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