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That's connectwithskip.com slash offer. Okay, we're in Daniel Chapter 4 as we go now to Skip Heitzig for today's study. Now look at verse 9, Belteshazzar, 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 while 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 a hold 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 in all of her game. 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, this 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 in 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 and let's have the coexist 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. So, Daniel wasn't there, but finally he comes in and look at verse nine. The king says, Belteshazzar, that's Daniel's new Babylonian name, chief of the magicians, because I know that the spirit of the holy God, singular, is in you and no secret troubles you.
Explain to me the visions of my dream that I have seen and its interpretation. You know, believers live in a fishbowl. We are constantly being observed and evaluated by unbelievers.
Nebuchadnezzar had watched Daniel for years in his kingdom. He said, I know that no secret troubles you. The word means baffles or literally reduces you to distress. Daniel, I've watched your life and I noticed that nothing rattles you. You don't get stressed.
Nothing causes you to panic. Here's a man, Daniel, who's lived with his eye upon God rather than on the circumstances, and unbelievers notice that. They're watching you. Speaking about being watched, look at verse 13. I saw in the visions of my head while on my bed there was a watcher, a holy one coming down from heaven.
Now, this watcher is Nebuchadnezzar's word for an angel. Interesting thought. You think what you did this morning was in secret? There's watchers. Lewis Ferry Shaffer used to say, Secret sin on earth is open scandal in heaven.
Interesting thought. Nobody saw me. Oh, there are watchers. There's a great cloud of witnesses.
Nothing is hidden. Now, again, this is an angel in his dream. I have never seen an angel, at least that I'm aware of.
Only one and I married her. I always like to say that. Oh.
Gets me points every time I say that. I do believe in angels. I know the Bible says in Hebrews chapter 1 that they are sent by God to minister to those of us who are inheriting salvation. I know the Bible says that angels are active in our lives.
I believe I've given a few of them ulcers, if that were possible, by the places I've gone to skateboarding and motorcycling and things like that. Oh, no, skips up again. Double up on him. But the watcher from heaven comes down and in this dream he is calling all of the shots as Nebuchadnezzar is watching. It's a remarkable section with a remarkable story and the most remarkable is the statement made by King Nebuchadnezzar. Verse 17. This decision is by the decree of the watchers and the sentence by the word of the holy ones in order that the living may know. Keep in mind Nebuchadnezzar is writing this to the whole world at that time. That the most high rules in the kingdom of men gives it to whomever he will and sets over at the lowest of men. This dream I, King Nebuchadnezzar, have seen. But you, Belteshazzar, declare its interpretation since all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known to me the interpretation, but you are able for the spirit of the holy God is in you.
What Nebuchadnezzar is essentially saying in verse 17 is the purpose of my episode, the purpose of this dream and what happened to me as a result of this dream, the purpose of all of that was for you to hear this, what I now have to say. And what he says is, first of all, God rules in human affairs. Or, as he puts it, notice the most high rules in the kingdom of men. It's a key verse in chapter 4.
It's a phrase mentioned three times in this chapter. The most high God rules in the kingdom of men. Now think about that. Think about what it means. God is absolutely independent, subject to no one, dependent on no one. In philosophical terms, we would say God is the only non-contingent being in the universe. All other beings are contingent. They depend upon God for life and sustenance.
God is absolutely independent. The most high rules in the kingdom of men. According to scripture, God does what he wants. Isaiah 46, 10, my counsel shall stand and I will do all my pleasure. Look down at verse 35 of chapter 4. Nebuchadnezzar continues. In verse 35, he writes, he, God, does according to his will in the army of heaven. And among the inhabitants of the earth, no one can restrain his hand.
Now that doesn't mean that God is responsible for all of the sin that people commit, but that God permits the will of people to be executed within the restraints of the parameters of his sovereign control. A.W. Tozer gives us this illustration. An ocean liner leaves New York bound for Liverpool. Its destination has been determined by proper authorities. Nothing can change that. This is a faint picture of sovereignty. On board the liner are several scores of passengers. These people are not in chains, neither are their activities determined by decree. They are completely free to move about as they will. They eat and they sleep and they play and they lounge about on the deck. They read, they talk all together as they please.
But all the while, the great liner is carrying them steadily onward toward a predetermined port. The ocean liner of God's sovereignty goes over the sea of human history, and it moves unhindered toward the fulfillment of God's eternal purpose. God rules in the kingdom of men, says King Nebuchadnezzar. The second thing he'd want us to know is that God overrules in political affairs. Listen to this politician, verse 17. The most high rules in the kingdom of man, he gives it to whomever he will, and sets over it the lowest of men.
That's quite a statement. That tells me, number one, God has appointed human government, and number two, God often allows the worst people to rule. Pharaoh, not a great guy. Herod the Great, not a great guy. Antiochus Epiphanes, not a great guy.
Nebuchadnezzar, he will admit it, not a great guy. This does not mean that God approves of all of their actions, but that he reserves control of their appointment. So don't get too excited if your guy or gal gets elected, because it says here, he sets over them the lowest of men.
Enough said. I'll tell you what this means to us as Christians. It means that no matter what is the form of government, we have a responsibility, here's the hardest part of this message, to submit to human government, human authority. We are to be, of all people, model citizens, model citizens. The Christian, the model citizen.
Why? Because we believe what we just read. Psalm 62, verse 11, David writes, God has spoken once, twice I have heard this, power belongs to God. Jesus Christ stood before Pontius Pilate, an earthly ruler.
Pontius Pilate, who was going to lower the gavel and sentence Jesus to death. And Jesus said to him, you would have no power at all against me, unless it had been given you from above. God, my Father, has given you, Pontius Pilate, the authority to execute me for his eternal purpose of salvation, as I go to the cross.
That's quite a statement. I want to conclude our study today, not in the book of Daniel, but in the book of Romans, if you quickly turn to Romans chapter 13, we'll read a few verses and we'll end here. Romans chapter 13. It's always good to read something in the Old Testament and have it amplified, if indeed it's there in the New Testament. Romans 13, one of several places that has the same message. Romans 13, verse 1, let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. Would that include your soul and my soul?
I think every soul would sort of take care of that. Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore, whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil.
Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God's minister to you for good, but if you do evil, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is God's minister and avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.
Therefore, you must be subject not only because of wrath, but also for conscience' sake. For because of this, you also pay taxes, for they are God's ministers. You ever thought of the IRS as God's ministers? They are God's ministers attending continually to this very thing.
Oh, don't they? Render, therefore, to all their due taxes, to whom taxes are due, customs, to whom customs, fear, to whom fear, honor, to whom honor. There is no civil government that exists apart from the authority of God. You say, but what about cruel governments?
What about unfair governments? When Paul wrote Romans 13, you know who was in charge? Caesar Nero, the man who single-handedly killed thousands and millions of Christians by his policies. When David ran from King Saul, a government official who wanted to kill him, rather than avenging him, David said, 1 Samuel 24, let the Lord judge between you and me. Let the Lord avenge me on you, but my hand shall not be against you. Wicked rulers are sometimes used by God to punish nations. God used Nebuchadnezzar to punish Judah, God's own people, according to Daniel chapter 1. Also, wicked rulers and wicked governments are sometimes used to purify God's people. The early church flourished under the persecution of the Roman government. A more modern example would be China.
Listen to this. Hundreds of years of Western missionaries to China yielded about 800,000 converts was the best count. In the 1940s, the government of China closed the doors to Western missionaries.
They were ejected, pushed out. The church had to go underground because of the persecution many martyred because of their faith in Christ. It was illegal to be a Christian, it was illegal to have a Bible. The church went underground, and finally when China began to open up again, we in the West were looking to see, are there any believers left? Only to discover there were now 50, some estimate 100 million believers.
All who had grown up under the worst, not the best, government. All of that to say a God-fearing government is ideal, but unnecessary for the effectiveness of the spread of the gospel. No matter how bad things get, the gospel will never be hindered. Now, is there ever a time to violate a government's rule and not to submit?
Yep, hold on to your seat belt. We'll get to chapter six of Daniel, and Daniel will do exactly that. We've already seen one instance of that last chapter when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did not bow to the government authority. Pharaoh gave an order to kill all the Hebrew male children.
Two midwives disobeyed. In Acts chapter four, there is a legal edict to not preach the gospel or teach anymore in the name of Jesus Christ, and the apostles say we must obey God rather than men. So whenever a government commands us to do what God forbids, or whenever a government forbids us to do what God commands, we obey a higher law, and that is God's law.
So to sum it all up, our relationship to the government authority, human authority, is to respect it, to submit to it, to support it with taxes, to pray for it, and occasionally to disobey it, if and only if it violates God's law. You know, we could start today just by obeying the speed limit when we leave here. I can't believe he said that.
He offended me. Or it's tax season. Make sure you claim everything you need to legally and pay your fair share of taxes, and make sure that you pray for the government. Even if you don't like your elected leaders, you pray for them every single week.
It's part of being submissive. Of course, the first step, Nebuchadnezzar, I'm sure, would want me to say, the first step is make sure your life is submitted and surrendered to God, the Most High God. That wraps up Skip Heitzig's message from his series, I Dare You. Find the full message, as well as books, booklets, and full teaching series at connectwithskip.com. Now, here's Skip to share how you can keep these messages coming your way to connect you and many others around the world with God's Word. Simply put, God's Word has the power to change lives.
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