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God Is Still on the Throne (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
June 2, 2021 4:00 am

God Is Still on the Throne (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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June 2, 2021 4:00 am

If we were kidnapped and forced to assume a new identity in a foreign land, we might question God’s sovereignty. Discover how young Daniel continued to trust in the Lord despite experiencing this exact situation. That’s on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.



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After Daniel had been taken and has forced him to change his name, his language, even his education. Today on Truth for Life, Alistair Begg continues a message in Daniel chapter 1 that teaches us how God worked in and through such drastic measures. And so Daniel wants the people who are in exile to know that in actual fact, behind the invading forces of Babylon, was the hand of God itself. So that the people would realize that in actual fact, although everything seemed out of control, it wasn't out of control. So that the people might realize that the same God who was in charge of their blessing was the God who actually had overruled the fact of their besiegement. That he was in control, if you like, of the defeat of his own city and of the exile of his own people.

It cannot be otherwise. God is working his purpose out, albeit in mysterious ways. Now, the family members who were still left back in Judah would inevitably have had occasion to wonder whether these youths, particularly the cream of the crop that had been taken from them, would actually be able to stand or whether they would fall. And when we read on, we discover that these individuals, championed particularly by Daniel, are faced by a real dilemma and they are prepared to make a bold decision. This is familiar material to us, and we don't need to delay on it, but you will notice that the strategy that the king commanded for Ashpenaz, his chief unit, was a pretty skillful one, wasn't it?

I want you to take charge of these characters, he says. We've chosen them very purposefully. We believe that we can let these people of Judah know that we really are triumphant over them. We've taken the best from them, and we have, first of all, changed their location. Let's be honest, the change of location is enough for some of us, isn't it?

We get out of our usual little routine, our favorite little place, our favorite little gathering, we find out just how much we have a love for God, a love for his word, a love for his people. Oh no, we don't go. Why? We're on vacation. Oh really, God's on vacation as well, isn't he? There are no people of God in Devon, there are no people of God in Maine, there are no people of God in wherever it is. Oh no, we just like to go where we go.

I understand that. Could it change our location, silence your tongue, your praise? Could it do it for these fellows?

No. How about we change our education, give them a new language, give them a new view of the world, retrain their minds, disengage them from the conviction that they are the product of God's creative handiwork? That's what they did. Change their diet. I can't believe how many diets people get out of the Bible now as well.

I say it with the greatest respect, but it really is quite incredible. But that's often the story, change of diet. And they said before then, the wine and the choice foods, they weren't giving them a special deal. The rest of the people wouldn't have had the access to this. But now they realize that the last threads that tied them to their own people needed to be cut. And if you move amongst the Hasidic Jews, there are a large number of them in Cleveland, you know that these external mechanisms are key and crucial to their identity, and understandably so. Therefore, if you can cut that cord, you have made a significant inroads into disengaging them from the very convictions which underpin their entire existence.

New place, new school, new diet, new names. They all had beautiful Hebrew names. Let's change their names. What we'll do is we'll give them the names of Babylonian gods.

And that's exactly what they did. If we can change their identity with their name, perhaps as a result of subtle coercion, we will be able to disengage them completely. Now, I'm going to resist every temptation to go down rabbit trails.

I can hear them all in the back of my head just now, to go off down a whole education thing and the whole thing. You're sensible people. You can work this out for yourself.

Presumably, there were people in this context who were absorbed as a result of the coercion. There were people who said, there's no reason to fight this. We're a long way from home. Things are different. Times are changing. Convictions come, convictions go. I mean, we don't really need to hold so firmly to this, do we?

I mean, that doesn't really matter that much, does it, and so on. They are alive and well in every generation, not least of all in contemporary evangelicalism. Incidentally, what we're about to give up in the moral realm, we already gave up in the theological realm at the end of the 19th century and into the 20th century. Oh, culture doesn't like this? Culture doesn't like the idea of a virgin birth? Well, we get rid of the virgin birth.

A secular, intelligent culture doesn't like the idea of a resurrected Christ? That's fun. We can deal with that as well, and so on.

Where are we now? Well, it doesn't like the idea of marriage between one man and one woman solely and singly and only? Well, we can deal with that as well. Regardless, there were those who were absorbed. There probably were some who just became freedom fighters. We haven't learned about them, but they were just cantankerous individuals, and they spent all of their time bemoaning and decrying the fact that they were living in a state of oppression.

But here, you see, these individuals are quite remarkable. They couldn't prevent their capture. They couldn't prevent their change of name. They couldn't prevent the new school that they were sent to. But they were not about to take part indirectly in the worship of Babylonian deities by eating the food that would inevitably have first been offered to the gods of Babylon before it was served to them. And they said, this is the point at which we can go no further.

We are not going to do this. It was a dangerous decision, as comes out when he puts it to the chief of the eunuchs, who comes across quite memorably here, when he says, well, thank you for sharing that with me, Daniel, at the end of verse 10, but I'm not sure it's a great idea because you would endanger my head with the king. I think everybody got the point very clearly.

The king really is concerned about this, and if you're asking for me to go and address him on your behalf, then that would be a pretty strong no. And despite the fact that he had been given favor. And so Daniel said to his friends, oh well, we tried it. That's it. We'll just let it go. We'll just get the food the same.

But in actual fact, Daniel then said to the steward, whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over them, hey, why don't you give us a test for 10 days? I love his initiative here. I love the fact that he's not prepared to take no for an answer. Well, I don't think I'd like to get my head chopped off for this. Well, that's okay.

I'll talk to someone else. So he talks to the other fellow, and here we come to our second gave. Because in verse 9, God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs. So there was an opportunity there that he was then able to engage, because presumably the fellow who reported to the chief of the stewards is not a nut.

We've got to assume. So that if the chief of the stewards could get his head chopped off, then presumably this fellow might end up in the same position. And yet it happens.

Why? Because God gave favor. Now here again, you see, the people are reading this book, and they're now learning something.

They're learning that in a foreign land, where the people of God were among the minority, where in this foreign land in Psalm 137 terms, they had hung their harps or hanged their harps up on the willow trees, saying to one another, by the rivers of Babylon, we sat down and wept when we remembered Zion. We look back and we remember the good old days. Some of us, that's exactly where we are. The closer you get to death, it seems to me almost inevitable. How can I sound so much like my grandfather? Well, because you became a grandfather, for goodness sake. Don't you find yourself saying, there's no way in the world that my children or grandchildren are going to be able to deal with this?

Well, what are you talking about? You think God is shutting everything down with your demise? That it stops when you go? That you really are the center, that I really am the center of the universe? No, we hung our harps up when we realized, when we remembered Zion and all the good stuff.

And now look at us, we have no good stuff. And this letter comes, this book comes, to tell them that here in a foreign land, in the same way that God granted favor to Joseph with the jailer, so he granted favor to his servant here. And the ten-day test worked out really well, because instead of losing weight, apparently they gained weight, which makes me smile when I think about the Daniel diet. But anyway, at the end of ten days, it was seen that they were fatter than they were when they started.

I don't know that that is the normal strategy. I don't know, I didn't read it, I might have missed something, but apparently not. The danger was that they looked gaunt, they looked withdrawn as a result of what they were going to eat. And the miracle is that although that would have been the normal physical eventuality, in actual fact the reverse was the case.

So that when they appear at the end of the ten days, they look fitter and more vibrant than any of the rest of the characters. In other words, it's a miracle. It's a miracle.

Ten days is not very long. It's a dramatic intervention on the part of God. The same God who intervened to grant them favor, has intervened in the immediacy of their circumstances.

Now let me say as I move to my final observation, that the conviction that gave rise to this resolution on the part of Daniel, is not, I think we would agree, a conviction that would be hit upon in the immediacy of the challenge. In other words, the intellectual, moral, theological response of Daniel has its roots, presumably in the family of Daniel. In the beginning and the ending of the day, when under the tutelage of his parents, they would have said together, Here, O Israel, the Lord your God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind and all your strength. And these things that I give you today are to be upon your hearts, and you shall teach them to your children when you walk along the road, and when you lie down, and when you get up, you shall bind them around your wrists and wrap them around your forehead, so that every movement of your body says again and again, The Lord, He is God.

That is how Daniel was able to go into an environment so alien, to have his name changed, his education changed, everything changed, save for his diet, and to come out as he came out. It is a wonder of God's dealings. Verse 17, As for these four youths, here's our third God gave, God gave them. First God gave, verse 2, God gave Jehoiakim into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar. Second God gave, verse 9, God gave favor to his servants in that environment. Thirdly, God then gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had the understanding in all visions and dreams.

In other words, God gave to Daniel a supernatural ability into the realm of knowledge, as we see in the chapters that follow. And when they are all brought in at the end of the three years, at the end of the time, which you will remember from earlier was three years, and the king commanded that they should be brought in, and the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar, and the king spoke with them, and the top of the class were these boys, and they stood before the king, and he found that they were absolutely top-notch. You can imagine all of the bureaucrats and the politicians and the servants of the king all sitting around the big table at the interview process. Man, I'm sure you're green, Nebuchadnezzar. We came up with a wonderful plan, didn't we? I mean, look at these boys.

We gave them new names, we've schooled them, they're a bride group and so on, and look how wonderfully they've come out. But what they didn't know and what they couldn't know was that God was in control. It was as a result of who God is. It was a result of what God was doing, that God's name was glorified and his purpose was fulfilled and his kingdom was extended.

And whether it is 6th century B.C. in Babylon or 21st century A.D. in America, God is still on the throne, and he will remember his own. And though trials may press us and burdens distress us, he never will leave us alone, for God is still on the throne and he will remember his own.

And his promise is true, he will not forget you, for God is still on the throne. He is the God who gives. He is the God who gave to the rebellious forebears of humanity, coverings for their nakedness. He is the God who gave an ark so that Noah and his family might be rescued and redeemed.

He is the God who has given all the way, and ultimately, for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son. And in the same way that Daniel went down into Babylon, Jesus came down into time. Daniel was taken away into an alien world. Jesus came from the realm of glory into an alien environment of our world. Daniel did the Father's will in obedience. Jesus did the Father's will in obedience. Daniel, as a result of his obedience, was exalted to a place of great authority in an alien kingdom. Jesus exalted to the place where every knee will one day bow. And the Israelites in exile who heard the story about Daniel and his friends received all the comfort they required and all the encouragement that they needed to be faithful.

God had not been conquered by the Babylonian deity. Therefore, although it was tough going, they could rest in God's purposes. Let me ask you, how then are we to handle the onset of persecution? How then will we handle the loss of our job on account of our Christian faith? How then will we handle the closing down of public worship in the continental United States?

Will we hang our harps? I'm worried that some of us have already begun to do so, believing that somehow or another all the good stuff is in the rearview mirror, forgetting that the same God who gave Jehoiachin into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar and gave favor to his servants in an alien world is the same God who has provided for us he who is Lord and Savior and King. As I was reading this over this morning, my mind went because I saw his name the other day.

I can't remember what I was reading. But anyway, I saw the name of Lord Reith, and Lord Reith was the founder of the British Broadcasting Corporation, and he was a godly man from the Highlands of Scotland. And as the BBC came of age and began to embrace much of the secularism of the United Kingdom, which is going back now into the sixties, maybe the early seventies, it's recorded in one of the biographies that one of the young producers of the BBC in a large corporate meeting stood up and said to the General Director of the BBC, Lord Reith, he said, You know, the world is changing and the nation is changing, and we really do not, sir, need this religious programming on the BBC. People are no longer interested in it, and the BBC now is beginning to establish itself and show that really we have the nerve of the nation, and the church is pretty well obsolete. And Lord Reith, who I think was six foot three or six foot four, apparently stood up and said, Young man, take your seat. The church will stand at the grave of the BBC.

And you know what? The church will stand at the grave of the BBC. And what did Jesus say?

And CNN, and Fox as well. What did Jesus say to his followers in his day? Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is the Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

You need not be in any doubt about this, but this is not a story about pull your socks up, you can be a good guy like Daniel. This is a story about the fact that when everything seems to have gone completely pear-shaped, God is sovereign over the affairs of time. Go out and enjoy the beauty of his creation. Rest in the wonder of his providence. Trust unreservedly in his desire and design for his people and will of occasion to be thankful. Father, we bless you now for the privilege of these moments and commit ourselves afresh to you in Christ's name.

Amen. A bold illustration today of how one man, Daniel, was willing to acknowledge God's sovereignty over the affairs of his time. This is Truth for Life with Alistair Begg. The month of June is an exciting time here at Truth for Life because it gives us an opportunity to invite you to join an essential team of truth partners. Truth partners are listeners like you who bring the gospel to a worldwide audience through Truth for Life.

Truth partners give each month and their giving helps cover the cost of producing and distributing Alistair's teaching. We are grateful for our truth partners and one of the ways we show that gratitude is by inviting truth partners to request both of our monthly book selections. Now if you have ever requested one of the books we offer each month, you know we choose these books with great care.

And today's book is no exception, but we have to admit this one was a bit easier to pick than usual. It's Alistair's brand new book titled Brave By Faith, God-Sized Confidence in a Post-Christian World. In this book Alistair explores what it looks like to live faithfully for Christ in a pagan culture. He compares our increasingly secular society to the world in which Daniel lived. This book is a perfect companion for our current series Faith Under Fire.

You'll learn how to hold the line in your faith even when the lines around you are becoming blurred. Request Brave By Faith today when you become a truth partner or when you make a one-time donation. To enroll visit truthforlife.org slash truth partner or call 888-588-7884. If you'd rather mail your donation along with your request for the book, write to truthforlife at P.O.

Box 398000 Cleveland, Ohio 44139. I'm Bob Lapine. Thanks for joining us today. I hope you can be here tomorrow as Alistair explains what an insecure king's troubling dreams can teach us about our own lives. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-11 06:32:24 / 2023-11-11 06:40:50 / 8

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