Jesus said this, the greatest among you will be your servant.
Will be your servant. That's a great person. Not the person who says, I want to be the greatest. The person who stoops and vows as a servant.
Now that's a great person. It's counterintuitive in the world's mind, but as Skip shares today on Connect with Skip Heitzig, humility is the path to greatness according to God's standard. But first, if you want to stay up to date on the latest from this ministry and from Skip, we invite you to follow Skip on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
You'll find important announcements and great encouragement from Skip. That's at Skip Heitzig, at Skip H-E-I-T-Z-I-G. Now, we're in Daniel 8 as we begin today's study with Skip. 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 1, 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 5, 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, and 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 6, 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, 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.
Did this guy have a Babylonian burrito the night before? Daniel had this in chapter seven. He has it now in chapter eight, 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 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 the ground.
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 riding, 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. Question, how could Daniel know that?
That's the whole point. He couldn't know that. This wasn't some food-induced vision, this was a revelation of God. God was telling him God was telling him what was going to happen.
Now notice verse four, notice a word in verse four. I saw the ram pushing westward, northward, 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. He became great. The Medo-Persian kingdom was great. Cyrus was Cyrus the Great.
The word Gadol is the Hebrew word. It means to grow, to become important, to do great things, or to magnify himself. Yes, Cyrus would make it in Time Magazine's top ten most influential people list.
He was great. But you know, the problem is when you're great as an emperor, there's always somebody greater around the corner. There's always somebody ready to take your great spot.
And Cyrus would learn that the powers that be will someday become the powers that have been. Even Solomon, great King Solomon, said in his writings, the book of Ecclesiastes, I have attained unto greatness. But as soon as he wrote that, he said, yet all of this is grasping for the wind. Grasping for the wind.
It's empty. My greatness is so short-lived. Jesus said, what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul? Daniel was great. Cyrus thought he was great. But somebody greater was right around the corner. Verse 5 tells us, as I was considering suddenly a male goat, came from the west, across the surface of the whole earth, without touching the ground. And the goat had a notable horn between his eyes. Then he came to the ram that had the two horns, which I saw standing beside the river, and ran at him with furious power. And I saw him confronting the ram. He was moved with rage against him, attacked the ram, and broke his two horns. There was no power in the ram to withstand him. But the ram was standing on the ground to withstand him. But he cast him down to the ground and trampled him.
And there was no one that could deliver the ram from his hand. Therefore, the male goat grew very, here's the word again, great. But when he became strong, the large horn was broken.
And in place of it, four notable ones came up toward the four winds of heaven. So you have a goat with a prominent horn that moves like lightning speed, his feet don't even touch the ground, from the west toward the east. This is turbo goat. This is in Star Trek terminology, the goat at warp speed.
Moving from the west toward the east. Now we don't have to guess who this is, just like we don't have to guess that the first emperor is Cyrus the Great, part of the Medo-Persian Empire. I want to move you ahead to verse 20. Look at verse 20. The ram which you saw having the two horns are the kings of Media and Persia.
Verse 21. And the male goat is the kingdom of Greece. The large horn that is between its eyes is the first king.
As for the four, as for the broken horn and the four that stood in its place, four kingdoms shall arise out of that nation but not with its power. So we know who the fourth king was in history. That was Alexander the Great, the son of Philip of Macedon.
Let me give you a little biographical sketch. When Alexander was growing up, his dad, who was a warrior, Philip, the head of the Macedonian emperor. Philip didn't think his son would amount to much.
Isn't that funny? And little Alex, he's not going to grow up to be anything great. Because little Alex was like an indoor kid. He was like a bookworm. He wouldn't go outside and play army like all the other boys.
And this was a warrior. He noticed his son just likes to read books. But he was particularly brilliant with books. And so Philip decided to give him a tutor by the name of Aristotle who would help him along and tutored him until he was age 19.
At 19, Philip, his dad, died. And when he died, something rose within Alexander to want to become a warrior like his father and avenge his father's death, especially against the Persians who had attacked 150 years prior that empire that they were living in. And so Alexander amassed an army, not large in comparison to Medo-Persia, but very fast, very swift moving. And he moved from west, Greece, toward the east. And wherever he went, history tells us he slaughtered thousands of people and sold people groups into the hands of others.
For instance, Alexander the Great came to the city of Tyre and asked for supplies for his men because they wouldn't give him supplies. He decimated every citizen of Tyre. After conquering Tyre, he moved south toward Egypt. After conquering Egypt, he moved north toward the Medo-Persian Empire, finally crushing them at the ancient city of Nineveh.
After crushing and defeating them, he attacked Shushan, Akbatana, and finally Persepolis. In verse 8, notice, the male goat grew very great. His dad said, you're not going to amount to much. He became great. History tells us that Alexander's mother convinced him that he was divine, that he really wasn't the son of Philip of Macedon, but he was a son of the gods, and that he was great. So he went around telling people, I'm divine.
My mama said so. It didn't go over well with his generals. But notice something else in verse 8.
The large horn was broken. On December, no, on June the 10th, 332 BC, in Babylon, after conquering the world, it took him 10 to 12 years to do it, did it very swiftly. At age 33, interesting age, Alexander the Great died. He had been drinking the night before. Some say he was poisoned.
Most historians say he just got a fever, some weird fever out of nowhere. And the next day he died. When he was on his deathbed, they said, to whom shall go your kingdom?
He said, give it to the strong. And they divided it up between, guess how many generations he gets, how many generals? Four. Four generals, just like this vision predicts. Four generals. Alexander the Great, the horn was broken. So great, so vulnerable, so weak.
Got some virus, he died. There was a reporter who years ago asked the great Walt Disney, the theme park maker, the movie maker, et cetera, how it felt to be such a great celebrity. His answer is classic.
He said, well, it's pretty good, especially when you want to get good seats at football games or great tables in restaurants. But then he said, but being a great celebrity has never helped me make a good picture, nor command the obedience of my daughter, nor impress my wife. It doesn't even keep the fleas off of our dogs. And if being a great celebrity won't give me the advantage over a couple of fleas, I guess I can't be that great after all.
Isn't that classic? In other words, if you're not a great dad and a great husband, and even a great pet owner, I don't care what else you're great at, you're not that great. Kings don't impress God. He's the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. Conquerers don't impress God.
One day through Jesus Christ, he will conquer the world that he created. Movie stars and executives and musicians and politicians, none of them ever make God say, wow, wow. God didn't say that.
God didn't have to. He's God, except one type of person. There's one type of person that God would take note of and say, ah, that person's great. What kind of a person is that? Well, do you remember when the disciples, the 12 disciples were arguing among themselves as to who would be the greatest in the kingdom of God?
Can you imagine that argument? Peter going, I'm going to be the greatest. I'm Peter. He's called me the rock.
I have a bigger beard than you guys. I'm always first in the list of the 12 disciples. You're not. I'm going to be the greatest. John and James going, I don't think so.
You couldn't fish all that great anyway. You've got your mama-in-law living with you. I think we're greater than you are. So they had this argument, who's going to be the greatest in the kingdom? Finally, Jesus said this, the greatest among you will be your servant.
Will be your servant. That's a great person. Not the person who says, I want to be the greatest. The person who stoops and bows as a servant.
Now that's a great person. Humility. The way up is down. You want to be great? Bow. Be a slave to people. Be a slave to your wife, husband. Serve them. Serve your husbands, women. Serve your children. At work, your fellow workers, your friends.
Serve them. The greatest example is Jesus Christ, who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but he humbled himself and became a servant. He was great. I mentioned that Alexander the Great died at age 33. How old was Jesus when he died? Thirty-three.
What a contrast. Alexander the Great, Jesus the Christ. I close with this little poem. Jesus and Alexander died at 33. One lived and died for self. One died for you and me.
The Greek died on a throne. The Jew died on a cross. One's life a triumph seemed, the other but a loss. One led vast armies forth, the other walked alone. One shed a whole world's blood, the other gave his own.
Jesus and Alexander died at 33. One died in Babylon and one on Calvary. One gained all for self and one himself he gave. One conquered every tongue, the other every grave. The one made himself a god, the other made himself less. The one lived but to blast, the other but to bless. Jesus and Alexander died at 33. The Greek made all men slaves. The Jew made all men free. King for a day, child of God for eternity.
Serving, bowing, that's great. That concludes Skip Heitzig's message from the series, I Dare You. Find the full message as well as books, booklets, and full teaching series at connectwithskip.com. Right now we want to share about a special resource that will help you make your marriage stronger and more fun. We have an exciting resource to help strengthen your marriage so it can thrive no matter what your circumstances. It's The Marriage Devotional, 52 days to strengthen the soul of your marriage by Levi and Jenny Lusko.
And we'd love to send you a copy as thanks for your gift this month to grow the ministry of Connect with Skip. How do you figure out what's going on underneath your marriage? You ask about it. So when was the last time you've checked in with your spouse? And a little pro tip, Jenny and I, our marriage counselor, for what it's worth, she told us to never, ever, ever do the check in during date night.
And this has been revolutionary for us. We used to just literally have a fight every single date night because that was our check in. One of us would be dumb enough over appetizers to go, well, what's going on in your house?
Which is usually code for please tell me the five things I'm doing wrong this week. You know what I'm saying? And so now like I'm pushing the cauliflower away because I'm like feeling hot and angry. And then we get in this big fight.
And she goes, oh, gosh, you're doing it wrong. Date night's joy. Date night's fun. Just keep it light. Put a pin in stuff that's going to give you stress on the date night.
But you got to have the check in too. Great marriages are made, not born. And this devotional journey will be the encouragement your marriage, not just any marriage, needs to flourish. So we cling. We cling to God. We cling to our spouse. We cling to the local church because we're vines. And we want our marriage to be like a fruitful vine in the heart of our house.
In the marriage devotional, 52 Days to Strengthen the Soul of Your Marriage, Levi and Jenny will point you to God's word and help you experience a depth and beauty you may have never thought possible. We'll send you a copy of this powerful resource as thanks for your gift to expand Connect with Skip Heitzig to reach more people in major U.S. cities. Yours for a donation of $50 or more. Just call 800-922-1888 or visit connectwithskip.com slash offer.
That's connectwithskip.com slash offer. Be sure to join us tomorrow as Skip begins a new message about a shocking revelation God gave to Daniel and what it means to you and me today. God revealed the future to him in a vision, and what he saw absolutely shocked him to the core. So we're going to consider in Daniel Chapter 8 what he saw, what it means or what it meant, and what he felt. The vision, the interpretation, and the reaction. Connect with Skip Heitzig is a presentation of Connection Communications, connecting you to God's never-changing truth in ever-changing times.
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