How can a person be great in God's estimation? How can our lives be significant so as to make a real difference? How can I make sure that I'm not just breathing air and occupying space, but I'm doing something noteworthy, even above average and normal in God's estimation, not in the world's?
The word great is overused these days, and there's often disagreement on what greatness looks like. But as Skip shares today on Connect with Skip Heitig, the book of Daniel gives us an amazing picture of what it means to be great in God's estimation. And stay tuned after the message as Skip and his wife, Lenya, talk about why biblical prophecy is significant in our lives today. First of all, you get confidence in God.
You're never taken by surprise. You realize God knew about this. He predicted it. There's the fulfillment of it.
So it bolsters a certain kind of confidence that you can't get unless you study prophecy. Now check out this special resource that'll breathe new life into any marriage and help it flourish as God intends. Great marriages are made, not born. God wants you to have a strong, thriving, and fun marriage. The Marriage Devotional, 52 Days to Strengthen the Soul of Your Marriage by Levi and Jenny Lusko is designed to help your marriage not just survive, but thrive. You want to understand God's secret, the secret for fruit in your marriage, in your family, in your parenting. If you feel overwhelmed because your marriage is a long way from where you feel like it should be, or if you feel discouraged and excluded today because divorce is in your story, and here you see God's plan for flourishing, and you've disqualified yourself because of what's in your past, let me tell you something.
God never shames you for your past. He always fights for your future, and flourishing and fruitfulness can be your reality. We want to send you a copy of this encouraging resource as thanks for your gift today to support Connect with Skip Heitzig and help expand this teaching ministry to more major cities in the U.S. in 2023. So request your copy when you give today and get the encouragement you need for your marriage to flourish. The vine has been given the tools to continue to grow, and I love this, and I want this vision in your mind. I want this vision in your heart. If you're empty nesters, if you've been married for four years, I want you to have this vision, young people, that you don't have to fear a marriage getting stale. You don't have to fear getting trapped into something.
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That's connectwithskip.com slash offer. Okay, we're in Daniel 8 today as Skip begins the study. I was reading this week about an ESPN sports commentator about an NBA basketball team that had made it to the finals, and he kept using the word great. This is a great team. They have great rebounding. They have a great defense. There's great three-point shooters on this team. Great, great, great.
He kept saying how great they were, so it got me to thinking, not only do we use that word a great deal, and sometimes this is a throwaway term. How are you doing? I'm doing great. Well, how's everything at home? Great.
What about work? Great. What does it mean to be great? What is the best definition of that term? I think if you were to ask the world, our culture outside the church to find greatness, they would come up with at least four categories. A person with power would be considered a great person in their eyes, or she has the ability to control things around them, power. Prestige would also fit the term great in the world's point of view. The accolades that are given to a person for what he or she has accomplished, power, prestige.
Position would be part of their definition, the status they have achieved in their culture, their society, their school, wherever they're at. And then possessions, what a person owns. All of that would be considered great. I looked it up in the dictionary. It's a simple word, but it's a very telling definition. According to Webster's dictionary, great means considerably above normal or above average. A synonym would be remarkable. That's a remarkable team, a remarkable person, a remarkable thing, above average, above normal. The problem with using the term great is that as soon as you use it for one thing, you are inferring that something else is not so great. Like a man who went to the doctor and he said, doctor, I am suffering from an inferiority complex. The doctor ran a series of tests for several weeks, came back to him and said, actually, it's not a complex. You really are inferior.
A very sad thing for a doctor to tell somebody. Sometimes the term great shows up in a formal name. I went on Google and found no less than one hundred and forty two people with the word great attached to their name. Herod the Great, Ivan the Great, Alexander the Great, Napoleon the Great, a hundred and forty two different people. So what I'd like to do by using the text of scripture today, Daniel chapter eight, is look at three people.
One that is mentioned by name, two that are inferred in the text. A prophet named Daniel, a Persian named Cyrus, a prodigy named Alexander, whom we know is Alexander the Great. And look at what greatness really is. How can a person be great in God's estimation? How can our lives be significant so as to make a real difference? How can I make sure that I'm not just breathing air and occupying space, but I'm doing something noteworthy, even above average and normal in God's estimation, not in the world's?
What does it mean to be great? Now, as we get into chapter eight, I need to tie it together with chapter seven and just remind you that in chapter seven, Daniel had a vision, a prophetic vision of the future. He looked ahead from his time onward through four successive world governing empires to which his people, the Jews, would be subject for centuries, all the way to the second coming of Christ. He saw four kingdoms in chapter seven. Now in chapter eight, he gives us details on the second and third of those four empires, the Medo-Persian Empire and the Grecian Empire.
Why is that? Simply because, as we'll read eventually in chapter eight, the Grecian Empire is going to produce somebody who is going to so persecute the Jewish people that he'll be like Nebuchadnezzar was in the past and like the Antichrist will be in the future. So it is written to comfort the Jewish people in captivity that though hard times are coming, God still has a plan for them and that includes the coming kingdom. So let's consider three people, the great and the not so great, and the not so great in Daniel the eighth chapter. First of all, a prophet named Daniel, and you'll notice in verse one that his name is mentioned as it is also mentioned in the last verse of the chapter, verse 27.
But in the first verse we read, in the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar, a vision appeared to me, to me, Daniel, after the one that appeared to me the first time. Now, I think it's safe to say that most people in the modern culture would not consider Daniel to be great. Yes, he made it up the ladder to become the prime minister of the Babylonian empire, but he was a pretty despised person because he was a Jewish captive. The Babylonians had come in and subjugated Judah, and that makes him part of a conquered people. That brings a certain kind of shame with it.
You would be considered a military or political loser. Certainly, Daniel would not be put in Time Magazine's Person of the Year award or the top 10 most influential people. In fact, I did look in Time Magazine's list this week at the 100 greatest people of all time, and then they go all the way up to 1,000 people. Daniel was not listed in either of those lists. So Daniel wouldn't be considered that great, but to God, he certainly was great.
Even when we get to Daniel, the fifth chapter, when King Belshazzar is on the throne, if you remember, this king brings all the wise men of Babylon before him. Except Daniel. Daniel isn't part of that group. It's almost as though Daniel was marginalized and kept away from the group. Let's not bring Daniel in.
Let's bring the worldly guys in with the worldly wisdom. Sort of like that kid that's the last pick when people are picking teams, and he's like the last kid on the field. I know about this because I was often the last kid. Nobody really wanted. I wasn't really great at a lot of those kind of sports. So, okay, Skip, you can be on our team.
You got to be on somebody's team. Daniel could have felt like that. But again, in God's estimation, he was great because he's the guy that gets all the revelation of the future. Yeah, Nebuchadnezzar had a dream, but the interpretation came through this prophet, Daniel. So power, prestige, position, and possessions, God looks at all that and goes, huh, not so much. Jesus put it this way in the New Testament. What is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God. God isn't impressed with all that stuff.
It's always been that way. What the world sees as great, God goes, eh, fluff, vanity, nothing. And what the world despises often, God will extol. Consider for a moment John the Baptist, that eccentric, unpredictable, rabble-rousing hippie who ate bugs out in the desert and said, repent to everyone he could find. People wouldn't consider him great.
But Jesus Christ said, I tell you, of all who have ever been born of women, there is none greater than John the Baptist. He was great. Daniel was great. Though the word doesn't appear in terms of who he is in this chapter, in God's estimation, he was great. Now, what made him so great? Let me suggest to you three qualities that are found in this man, Daniel. First of all, humility. He was a humble man. Did you notice how verse one was phrased in the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar, a vision appeared to me?
Watch this, to me, Daniel. The language of that verse reveals sort of an amazement, like, can you believe it? God keeps showing me all of these dreams and visions of the future. That's humility. I believe that some Christians too easily and too flippantly say things like, God spoke to me. You make sure God spoke to you if you say that.
Make sure it wasn't last night's onions on a burrito. Well, God showed me. Well, that's cool, if God indeed showed you. But here's Daniel saying, can you believe it?
I, even I, Daniel. The Chinese proverb that says, great men never know that they're great. Moses was like that. When God called him at the burning bush, he said, who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and then I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt? The first king of Israel, King Saul, started out humble.
When he was chosen, he said, but am I not a Benjamite from the smallest tribe of Israel and is not my clan the least of all the clans in the tribe of Benjamin? When David became king, he said, who am I, O sovereign Lord, and what is my family that you have brought me this far? And finally, there's Paul, the apostle, who knew what he used to be before he came to Christ and never let go of that memory. And Paul wrote these words, unto me, the one who is less than the least of all the saints is this great or grace given. So a great person is one who bows before a great God.
That's humility. A second characteristic that made Daniel great was not only humility, but singularity. He was a person with a one-track mind. When he was young, if you remember in chapter one, it says, he purposed in his heart, he made a decision, he purposed in his heart not to defile himself with a portion of the king's food. And in virtually every situation, Daniel pointed up to God. When he stood before Nebuchadnezzar, when he stood before Belshazzar, when he stood before Darius the Mede, he pointed up to God.
He had a one-track mind. So a great person is one who bows before God and one who points toward God. He's humble before God, but he points others toward God. A third thing that made Daniel great was not only humility, not only singularity, but consistency.
He was consistent over time. What he was as a youth, he continued to be all the way through the scripture. In that incident, I just mentioned in Daniel chapter five, when Daniel was not brought in to the court with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.
Finally, the queen mother, after the king Belshazzar, was so shaken by what he had seen. He said, bring Daniel in. She said, bring Daniel in. For she said, in that man is an excellent spirit, and he was the guy who in times past made all these things known to your father the king. Chapter six, Daniel is described as one who distinguished himself regularly or consistently. So a great person is one who bows before God, points toward God, and one who is faithful to God over time.
True story. There were two brothers having a discussion after their Sunday school class. They were in Scotland, and they were discussing their life's goal. The first brother said that he wanted to be rich and famous. The second brother said his goal was to follow Christ to the fullest.
That second brother achieved his goal. He was the famous David Livingstone, the missionary medical doctor and explorer of the continent of Africa. His brother became rich, but his fame was not due to his wealth, but to the fact that he was David Livingstone's brother. When John Livingstone died, on his grave were written these words, here lies John Livingstone, the brother of David Livingstone. He was remarkable.
David Livingstone, above average, above normal. He was a great man because he was humble, spiritual, and faithful. That's greatness.
Would you rather be king of the mountain for a day or the child of God for eternity? Now listen, parents, when you have children and you see and you dedicate those little children and you think, I want this child to be great, what do you have in mind? How do you define greatness? I know grades are important. We make a big deal out of grades. Johnny, you made a C. You need to make at least a B. You have it in you to make an A, but you at least have to make a B. Okay, grades are important, but are they that important?
Excelling in that sport, you want to be really notable in that sport. Hey, listen, build within your children the goal of them being a great person in these terms, the greatness of Daniel, humble, spiritual, faithful, humble, spiritual, faithful, humble, spiritual, faithful. If they get a C-, but they're humble, spiritual, faithful. If they don't get picked for the team, but they're humble, spiritual, faithful, you have a great child, a prophet named Daniel.
He was great. Let's look at a second person in our text, not named, but inferred, and you'll see what I mean in the first few verses, a Persian named Cyrus. In the third year, verse one, of the reign of King Belshazzar, a vision appeared to me, to me, Daniel, after one that appeared to me the first time. I saw in the vision, and it so happened while I was looking that I was in Shushan, the citadel, or Susa, the palace, some translations say, which is in the province of Elam. And I saw in the vision that I was by the river Uli.
Now get this. I lifted up my eyes and saw there standing beside the river was a ram, which had two horns, and the two horns were high, but one was higher than the other. And the higher one came up last. I saw the ram pushing westward, northward, and southward, so that no animal could withstand him, nor was there any that could deliver from his hand, but he did according to his will and became great. Another wild, weird, wacky vision, right?
Did this guy have like a Babylonian burrito the night before? Daniel had this in chapter 7. He has it now in chapter 8, and it's like these things just get weirder with each vision. Now I will say that I've also had weird, wild, wacky visions, but that was before Christ, and it wasn't inspired by the spirit of the Lord, but by another substance.
That's a whole other story that I was delivered from. This is the revelation of God, and I find it fascinating that God revealed Himself sometimes through dreams, sometimes through visions, and if you get the picture of the biblical author sitting in a room, a dark, cold, dim room with a candle, and they're just sort of taking dictation as God's voice is coming through the walls, you've got it wrong. Sometimes they wrote poetry, sometimes narrative, and sometimes they saw an animation before them, like this wild cartoon of these beasts or animals, where one thing represented something else. First of all, in his vision, he is not where he is in person. In person, he's in Babylon. In the vision, he is transported 350 miles to the east in the headquarters of the Medo-Persian Empire, where Cyrus the Great was setting up his kingdom.
It says, Shushan, the citadel. He sees in the vision a ram with two horns. What's odd about these horns is they don't grow up simultaneously, but one grows up, then a second grows up, and it's much more notable. It's taller. It's bigger than the other. So this is like a ram with an attitude that he sees, this ferocious ram, Rambo.
Just want to see if you're awake. Why a ram? Because the ram was the animal that depicted the Medo-Persian Empire, just like the eagle is the bird that has been chosen to represent the United States of America or for Great Britain, a lion or a bear for the Soviet Republic in times past. The ram, what was on the coins of the Persian Empire? The ancient coins have a head of a ram on one side, a recumbent ram on the other. The king of Persia would often wear as the crown a gold, jewel-studded head of a ram.
The armies marched with the banner of a ram on their banners above them and on the shields that they wore. So like the two horns, the Medo-Persian Empire would come in two parts, Media and Persia. Media came first, and it was a significant power. Persia was an insignificant power at the time that Daniel was writing, but it was growing, growing, growing in notoriety. And it was Cyrus the Great, he was called, and his son Cambyses II who brought a Medo-Persian coalition so that the second part of the empire, the Persian Empire, grew in strength bigger and by this coalition they became a world governing power that was the biggest to that date. They had an interesting strategy, history tells us. According to history, they first marched westward and took Babylon and Mesopotamia, Syria, Asia Minor, including Macedonia. Then they marched northward and conquered Colchis, where the region of ancient Georgia and the Soviet Republic, Armenia, Iberia, and the lands around the Caspian Sea. And then they conquered southward seizing the Levant, Egypt, Libya, and Ethiopia.
Their armies were so large, the historians tell us, that no single nation nor coalition of nations could stop them. Daniel sees all that. 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 connectwithskip.com. Now, let's go in the studio with Skip and Lenya as they discuss why biblical prophecy is significant to us today. Today's teaching expounds on the important theme in the book of Daniel, but I dare say the Bible, and it's prophecy. You know, Old Testament and New Testament is full of prophecy. So, what part should prophecy play in a believer's life today?
Why care? Well, Peter called it a light that shines in a dark place, and we live in dark times. And when you live in dark times, you're always looking for ways to illuminate the path that you walk down. It really is the only dependable light that we have in a dark world, is to have the light of Scripture. And when you look in the Scripture, and you go, oh my goodness, this has been predicted.
You know, that does something to you. First of all, you get confidence in God. You're never taken by surprise. You realize God knew about this. He predicted it. There's the fulfillment of it. So, it bolsters a certain kind of confidence that you can't get unless you study prophecy.
Second, it'll clean up your life. You know, John talked about he who believes this and lives this way purifies himself even as he is pure. So, there's a close relationship between the study of prophecy and a godly lifestyle. How should we then live based on that?
Yeah. And then third, it gives you comfort and sorrow. Jesus is coming. It's not going to always be like this. I am going to see my loved ones who died in the Lord.
It's also a call to service. If Jesus is coming, if history is going to end, my life is certainly going to end. What can I do between now and then? Because the Bible talks about receiving rewards. Well done, good and faithful servant. Who doesn't want to hear that? Well, I think about when people unannounced tell me they're heading to our house. I get busy straightening things up, washing the dishes, tucking things away. So, just that thought of Jesus is coming.
I throw things in the closet and close it until they can't see it. Thank you, Skip and Lenya. We hope this conversation refreshed you spiritually. If you've been strengthened or encouraged, please consider helping keep Truth Like This on the air and online to refresh others with God's truth. You can partner with this ministry today by calling now to give and help encourage other believers around the world. As you give, you'll help advance the vision to make these messages available to more people in more cities across our country. Just call 800-922-1888 to give.
That's 800-922-1888. Or visit connectwithskip.com slash donate. That's connectwithskip.com slash donate. Thank you. Join us again tomorrow on Connect with Skip Hyten as Skip challenges you to choose humility because that's the only way to be great. 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 / 2023-02-07 06:06:43 / 2023-02-07 06:16:31 / 10