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There Is a God in Heaven (Part 2 of 2)

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

There Is a God in Heaven (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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June 4, 2021 4:00 am

The prophetic passages of the Bible weren’t written so we’d waste time predicting important dates. Find out the real reason the book of Daniel gives us insight into God’s kingdom. Study along with us on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.


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If we think that the reason why the Bible talks about future events is so that we can spend a lot of time trying to predict important dates, we're missing the point. Today on Truth for Life, Alistair Begg teaches from Daniel chapter 2 as we consider the true nature of God's kingdom. Verse 14, then Daniel replied, with prudence and discretion.

That's super in the ESV. With prudence and discretion. He doesn't overreact, despite the fact that his personal prospects are not bright. He doesn't go stark raving nuts. But he does take the initiative again, doesn't he? His confidence in God did not make him indolent. His confidence in God propelled him into action.

Consider how many opportunities that we have missed by a striking lack of initiative. We've often abused the opportunity by, again, a blustering heavy-handedness that was nowhere close to prudence and to discretion. He was tactful. Secondly, he was practical. In verse 17, then Daniel went to his house and made the matter known to Hananiah. And he told them to make sure that we pray to God, verse 18, to seek mercy from heaven concerning this mystery, and so that we don't get killed.

That's pretty practical. So that we don't get executed. How much self-preservation was involved in this?

I will have to wait to find out. But in actual fact, you will notice that practicality and spirituality are quite happy to share the same bed. So he's tactful, he's practical. Thirdly, he's prayerful. The explanation of verse 17 was fuel for his intercession. And the implication in verse 19 seems to be that this season of prayer may actually have been prolonged during the night. He was not only prayerful, but he was thankful. Again, we're in verse 19. Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in the vision of the night, and Daniel blessed the God of heaven, and he thanked him. How God desires from us a thankful heart.

There was no possible way out. And yet, like others before and after, he had acted in supreme confidence that God would supply a way if it was necessary. Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail. In thee do we trust, nor find thee to fail. Thy mercies, how tender, how firm to the end, our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend. And he was purposeful. Again, in keeping with the purpose established in chapter 1, his prayer doesn't remove him from the realm of action. Rather, as we see in verse 24, Daniel went to Aaron, whom the king had appointed to destroy the wise men of Babylon. He went and said thus to him, Do not destroy the wise men of Babylon. Okay? That's very straightforward. Do not destroy them.

Please do not execute them. Take me to the king, and I will interpret the dream. But actually, he was humble. He was humble too.

He knew the source of his ability. And there's an obvious contrast, actually, between the approach of Arioch in verse 25 and the approach of Daniel in verse 28. I hope your Bible is open, because otherwise you're just going, Well, I suppose it's in there. But in verse 25, Then Arioch brought in Daniel before the king in haste, and said thus to him, I have found among the exiles from Judah a man who will make known to the king the interpretation. No, you didn't. You absolutely didn't, Arioch, you little rascal. You see?

He's trying to take credit for himself. Hey, king, I'm Arioch. I'm your main man.

I know these guys were not doing good, but I have found a man. And here he is. Contrast with our man Daniel. When the king says to him, 26, Are you able to make known to me the dream that I've seen? Daniel answered the king, No wise men, enchanters, magicians, astrologers, can show to the king the mystery the king has asked, but there is a God in heaven who reveals.

See, that's it, isn't it? Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. Then follows the explanation of the dream.

This is where some of you get really excited and agitated and get out your coloring pencils. Well, I have great discouragement for you in this regard, because I want to tell you something that is very, very important that you understand. That is that in the apocalyptic sections of Daniel, and when we say apocalyptic, apocalyptic literature, the ability to unveil the future, to pull the curtain back, as it were, and give an insight into the victory of God, that apocalyptic literature is not there in order that it might create for us the ability to understand the detailed plan of God for the future or for a future generation. It's not there in order to help us draw up our calendars, but it is there to assure every generation since the sixth century B.C., and often contrary to the appearance of things, that God is still on the throne and that the future is securely in his hands. Now, if we get that, then we can enjoy multiple cups of coffee debating the kingdoms, their appearing, their demise, and so on. We can bury ourselves under that kind of thing and simultaneously miss the overarching issue that the kingdoms of this world will eventually crumble to nothing and that the kingdom of God will prevail. That is the big picture.

That is the big story. And yet—and please don't applaud, it unsettles me. I'm so used to the reverse. But the fact of the matter is that I grew up with the ten toes of the beast. I grew up with all of that stuff. I have lived sixty-three years of my life disproving just about every theory that was ever told to me since I was five years old.

And finally, one morning, I think I banged my head as I fell out of my bed, and I got it. We're not supposed to be preoccupied with these things. We're supposed to understand that this stone that was not formed by human hands that brought down the kingdoms of the world is none other than the stone over which men stumble and the rock upon which men stand, namely Jesus. So if you stand back from the picture far enough, you go, Oh, along with my grandchildren, I get it.

But if you stand too close to it and get your nose up there, along with all your crazy friends, you missed it. Steady, steady. In the circumstances of a pagan king, God is in control of his sleep patterns. In the circumstances of the White House, God is in control. Elizabeth the Queen sleeps and awakens according to the providence of God.

The rulers of Saudi Arabia breathe as a result of his providential care. And that is contained in this unfolding story. It's made clear. The interpretation is made clear graphically as he describes this statue from top to bottom, a top-heavy structure, unstable, unable to move, destruction caused by the impact of a rock that is not cut with human hands, verse 34.

Verse 35, a graphic picture of the statue being pulverized to fine dust and causing us to reflect on the words of the first psalm, The ungodly are not so, but they are like the chaff which the wind drives away. Meanwhile, the stone grows into a huge mountain, filling the earth. And Daniel is brutally frank in explaining the meaning of the dream to the king. The time remaining to the empire he was building was comparatively short. It would go through the ongoing development in the course of human history. It would help to give place and shape to three or four other empires, each in its own way impressive and mighty. But that development itself would ultimately reveal to all the greatness and the magnificence of the structure, resting as it was on crumbling clay, clay that could not bear it for very long until eventually this kingdom emerges that will last for time immemorial.

I hope you will take time to read this again. There, verse 37, you, O king, the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom the power and the might and the glory, and into whose hand he has given wherever they dwell the children of man, the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, making you rule over them all. You are the head of gold. Wow, that was kind of reassuring, wasn't it?

What a great start and how good that he could speak so clearly. This statue, he says, is the head of gold, and I've got good news for you. You are the head of gold.

But I need you to know, he says, that the reason you are the head of gold is because he who is the Lord of kings has established you there. You see, we have such a small view of history. You can't understand world history without a Bible, incidentally. It's not possible to make sense of the unfolding drama of humanity apart from the story of redemptive history that reveals that with the fall of man there is a great spiritual conflict that is like the San Andreas fault line that runs at the very heart of humanity.

How else are we to make sense of this? That's why Daniel is able to come and say, You are this head of gold. This is your kingdom. This is the Babylonian kingdom. But the only reason you have a kingdom is because he, verse 47, who is the Lord of kings, has given it to you. And he says to him, There's going to be other kingdoms. Thirty-nine to forty-three, they will crumble one after another.

Traditionally, we've thought of them in terms of the Babylonian, the Medo-Persian, the kingdom of empire of Greece, and finally of Rome. But he says, The kingdom of God will not disintegrate. The kingdom of God will not be left to other people. I like to sing a hymn at Parkside.

They reluctantly join me every so often. It begins, The day thou gavest, Lord, has ended. The darkness falls at thy behest. To thee our mourning hymns ascended. Your praise shall sanctify our rest.

And he says some wonderful verses in it. We thank you that your church, unsleeping as the earth rolls onward into night, is constantly praising you and constantly praying and so on. But it finishes like this, So be it, Lord. So be it, Lord. Thy throne shall never, like earth's proud empires, pass away. For your kingdom stands and grows forever till all your creatures own your sway. Now, loved ones, I have to say to you, at this point in our history, I think it's going to be important for you to get up in the morning, for us to get up in the morning and reaffirm these essential truths for the stabilizing of our mind, for the preparing of our interactions with a community that is working from an entirely different worldview, to take a leaf from Daniel who was acting in a way that was courteous and with discretion, with prudence, because actually much of what has characterized evangelical Christianity in its public face and characterizes us is not marked by this kind of skillful, tactful, prayerful, humble, significant belief in a sovereign God who is in control of things, that there is no need for panic, there is no need for all of this vociferous, angry venting.

Why? Because of what we're learning here in Daniel chapter 2. Now, fast forward to the end of the chapter. Let's fast forward about half a millennium, 500 years on. The Roman Empire is clearly in control.

They don't manage to get Scotland, but they're doing a pretty good job otherwise. Good old Hadrian's Wall. And it is in that environment where Rome apparently reigns supreme. The divinity steps down into time in the form of an angel. It appears to the most unlikely slip of a girl called Mary and makes this declaration. Do not be afraid, Mary, for you've found favor with God and behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son and you shall call his name Jesus.

That would be enough, wouldn't it? He will be called great, will be called the son of the most high God. Notice. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever and of his kingdom there will be no end. In other words, the stone in Daniel 2 is about to appear. The kingdom comes first in the appearing of Jesus, continues in the proclamation of the gospel throughout the world, which is where we are now, and will be brought to consummation when Christ returns in power and in great glory. So the already and the not yet is there as the Scriptures unfold and here we live. And aren't we so often just like those disciples who were so desperately in need of the work of the Holy Spirit?

We won't take time to throw them under the bus, but they did not do a particularly good job of picking up on the clear instruction of the greatest teacher who has ever lived. And even after his resurrection, as he meets with them, what is their preoccupation? The kingdom.

The kingdom. And they have a question. Jesus, are you at this time going to reveal the kingdom to Israel? Are you going to actually bring it all to fruition? They are thinking geographically.

They are thinking nationally. They are thinking wrongly. So Jesus says, it's not for you to fiddle about with times and seasons. Would to God that many of us had just paid attention to such a simple observation, would have saved us a lot of time reading books. But it is not for you to know the times and the seasons.

They're not irrelevant, but it's not your preoccupation. Let me tell you what I want you to do. I want you to go into all the world and to preach the gospel, to make disciples of all nations. For that is how my kingdom comes. For that is how my kingdom comes. That is how my will is done. That is how the kingdom will be ushered in.

Not national, not territorial, not spatial, but international. In fact, the quest of humanity that is revealed in the United Nations, in the G8, in the European Republic, that is an understandable quest, isn't it? The quest for reconciliation between people who have routinely been at animosity with one another is an understandable quest. And when we read our Bibles, we find that that is actually answered only in one place. And that is at the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. And so we have to go out and say that to the world.

And our intelligent friend says, Are you kidding me? Are you suggesting for a moment that the pivotal event of human history took place outside of Jerusalem all that time ago in the death of a Galilean carpenter whose name was Jesus? And you're going to swallow hard, and then you're going to say, That's exactly what I'm telling you. And I'm not surprised at your reaction, because Paul, who once thought, as apparently you think, wrote to the Corinthians, and he says, My dear friends, this message of the gospel is absolute foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved it is the power of God.

The same power that God revealed in giving to his servant Daniel the ability to interpret the dark, disturbing doubts of a pagan king 600 B.C. We are to set our focus on sharing the gospel and making disciples of all nations rather than becoming preoccupied about the future timing of God's kingdom. That's the challenge from today's message on Truth for Life with Alistair Begg.

Please keep listening. Alistair will be right back to close in prayer. Well, today I want to take a minute and tell you what a privilege it is to learn from the Bible right alongside you every day here on Truth for Life. God's word is a lamp to our feet.

It's a light to our path. Its truth alone is what leads us to God's kingdom. That's why we teach directly from the scriptures here on Truth for Life so that, as Alistair says, God's word can do God's work in the lives of those who listen. We hope this is your experience, that as you listen, your life is being changed by God in a remarkable way.

In fact, that's our prayer as this program goes out each day. It's listeners like you who enable these life-changing messages to be heard each day. Some of you have made a regular commitment by joining with us as truth partners. Truth partners give each month. They choose the amount of their donation and they recognize that all gifts make a difference. In fact, the collective giving from this group is what brings Alistair's teaching to a worldwide audience. So if you are one of our truth partners, you have our most sincere thanks.

If you have yet to partner with us, would you please do that today? When you do, we want to send you our current book recommendation. It's called Brave by Faith, God-Sized Confidence in a Post-Christian World. This is Alistair's brand new book, and in this book he takes a candid look at our society's growing intolerance of biblical beliefs as as secularism gains a further foothold, and then he challenges you to consider how you'll respond when you are pressured to go along with the flow instead of obeying God. Brave by Faith follows the story of Daniel and his friends while they were exiled in Babylon, but the focus isn't on Daniel's faithfulness, it's on Daniel's God. When you read Brave by Faith, you'll learn how to trust God for the courage it takes to stand strong for your faith. Request Brave by Faith when you donate to Truth for Life today.

You'll find the book on the mobile app and online at slash donate or give us a call at 888-588-7884. Now let's join Alistair as he closes in prayer. Thank you, Father, that when we get to the end of the Bible we realize that the kingdoms of our world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever.

This does not make us bombastic or proud. It is immensely humbling. And can it be that I should gain an interest in the Savior's blood? Died he for me who caused his shame, his pain, to me who death pursued?

Amazing love! How can it be that thou, my God, would die for me? Lord, help us to display this amazing love of Lord Jesus by life and via lip as you give to his days remaining upon this earthly journey. For we pray, commanding our loved ones, our friends, and our enemies into your care. In Christ's name. Amen. I'm Bob Lapine. I hope you enjoy your weekend as you are able to worship with your local church. Join us again on Monday as we learn how our view of God's sovereignty shapes how we respond to persecution. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-09 09:58:39 / 2023-11-09 10:06:41 / 8

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