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Resolved, Part 1

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
November 21, 2022 12:00 am

Resolved, Part 1

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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November 21, 2022 12:00 am

The city was burning behind him. His God seemed to have been defeated. His hands were put in bonds. Yet, Daniel’s youthful resolve to remain faithful to God in the midst of unthinkable calamity altered the course of his life. Join Stephen in this message to find out why.

Wisdom for the Heart
Dr. Stephen Davey

In the Old Testament, Daniel ended up in captivity in Babylon. God intended to discipline his people through this period of captivity because of their persistent rebellion and idolatry.

I like the way Warren Wiersbe kind of summarized this in his wonderful little commentary on Daniel. He said that God evidently would rather have his people living in captivity in a pagan land than living like pagans in the Holy Land. It was God's will that His chosen people, the nation of Israel, were led captive into Babylon. It was God's judgment upon them because of their rebellion against God and His laws. But not everyone had turned their back on God. While in Babylon, a young Hebrew man named Daniel rose in prominence.

He did that while remaining faithful to God. Today on Wisdom for the Heart, Stephen Davey begins a series looking at his life. It's entitled Daniel, the First Wise Man. This first message in the series is called Resolved. And we're going to begin looking at this remarkable young man right now. I have read that 45% of Americans typically set New Year's resolutions. And we're really close to that period of time, and maybe you're among them.

Maybe you write out the little list and you have it on a sticky note or a three-by-five card or it's on your computer or on your desk. From what I've read, half of the resolutions made by people have to do with some kind of self-improvement program, maybe education or whatever. 38% of those who set resolutions made resolutions specifically related to their weight. Although I wasn't told in the survey, I'm pretty sure they wanted less of it, not more of it. 34% made resolutions regarding debt.

I'm sure they wanted less of that. 31% made some sort of resolution regarding personal relationships. And those were kind of the big ticket items on this survey that I read about. I personally think making resolutions is an excellent application of Proverbs 4 and verse 26 where we're told to give careful consideration to the path of our feet. Think about where you're going and where you'd like to be. It's an exercise worth doing prayerfully and thoughtfully.

Many of you are aware of Jonathan Edwards. He began his own personal list of resolutions. In fact, he would later become a key leader in the Great Awakening, a time of great revival in American churches in the 1700s. Beginning in 1723, when he was 20 years of age, he began a list of resolutions. And for about a year, he added to the list until he got to about 70 of them.

Here's one of them, resolved. Never to do anything which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life. That pretty well takes care of everything, doesn't it?

That'll serve as a rudder. Because he had such a wonderful theological understanding and would write volumes, he understood sanctification so well and he was so realistic in his presentation. He had several along those lines. Here's one of them, resolved. Never to slacken my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be. You'd think a leader would say, until I reach perfection and success.

No. Never to give up the fight, no matter how unsuccessful I may be. And again, another one, resolved. If I should fall and grow dull, to repent of all I can remember when I come to myself again. I like that one. When I get back in my right mind, repent and get back following the list.

Here's one more. I think this was a key to his success. Jonathan Edwards actually made a resolution to review his resolutions.

Here it is, resolved. To inquire every night as I'm going to bed where I have been negligent, what sin I have committed, where I have denied myself, that is where I've done the right thing, and to do so thoroughly at the end of every week, every month, and every year. In other words, when he got into bed, he went through this mental list of accountability, but at the end of the week, at the end of the month, at the end of the year, he got the list and thoroughly reviewed his resolutions. Maybe one of our problems and maybe one of my problems is that I soon forget what I've resolved to do. I found it interesting in the survey summary that I've mentioned already that only half of the people who make resolutions are keeping them 30 days later. Only 40% are keeping them six months later.

And the survey recorded that only 19% are sticking to them 24 months later. I want to introduce to you in our series of studies a young man who made a resolution that would serve as a rudder for the rest of his life, but I want you to know before we dive in that his resolution and further resolutions are going to place him squarely in the midst of horrible conflict. In fact, they're eventually going to threaten his life. Because of his resolutions, he's going to live life for the most part alone.

He'll have a few friends, but only a few. He's going to face incredible pressure from the very beginning to conform his entire life and walk away from his resolution. Go ahead and turn in your Bibles to the biography of Daniel. We'll spend five or six weeks touching the highlights in this book.

While you're turning, I'll eventually catch up with you. I want to set the stage for us as we look at this wonderful model of godly resolve. If you rolled the calendar back some 600 years before the birth of Jesus Christ, Egypt and Babylon would have been the two superpowers on the planet. In the year 605 BC, a young prince by the name of Nebuchadnezzar won a decisive victory over Egypt. He gained control of what we refer to as not only Egypt, but the Holy Land and the people therein. Later that same year, his father, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon died. Nebuchadnezzar rushed back to take the throne. Biblical history records for us as well as ancient history how he carried on his way back captives from Jerusalem, along with sacred vessels from the temple of God to install in the temple of his chief god Marduk. Verses one and two of Daniel basically provide that information that I've just summarized. He wanted to express his thanks to Marduk.

He's going to have his own thanksgiving celebration. Thanks to Marduk, which they believed of course gave him the power to defeat not just the other people, but their gods who evidently were inferior. And he also took those vessels because he's going to humiliate Jehovah by placing them in his temple, a god obviously inferior to his god. It'll be a few chapters later, by the way, that Nebuchadnezzar will come to understand that Jehovah really doesn't have any rivals and will also discover that his victory had actually been prophesied a hundred years earlier by Isaiah. God intended to discipline his people through this period of captivity because of their persistent rebellion and idolatry. And it was prophesied as much. I like the way Warren Wiersbe kind of summarized this in his wonderful little commentary on Daniel.

He said that God evidently would rather have his people living in captivity in a pagan land than living like pagans in the Holy Land. So Nebuchadnezzar, like Alexander the Great after him, adopted the policy of using the most promising young people in his new empire and governmental service. He wanted the best and the brightest minds, not just captured, but commissioned to serve them. Most Bible historians that approach the book of Daniel agree that somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 young people were taken to Babylon for this very purpose. Now, if you look at verse three, you'll notice that all or most of them are from the royal line of Judah, which means they're sons of nobles.

They've got royal blood flowing through their veins, leaders from the land of Israel. In verse 14, they're called youths. It's the Hebrew word Yeladim, which puts them at about the age of anywhere from 13 to 17 years of age. Now, we're given six very brief descriptives of these young men. We're told that in verse four, they were youths in whom was no defect. In other words, these guys are physical specimens.

Nothing wrong with them. That's what Nebuchadnezzar wanted in his court. They're also described as good looking, not just strong and healthy, but handsome.

Just as Israel chose a king based entirely on externals, Nebuchadnezzar was all about that too. He's all about image. He only wanted those serving him who were in great shape and were good looking. You'll notice the next one, he wants them to be intelligent. He doesn't just want good looking guys.

He wants good looking guys who can spell. They have some brains in that brawn. Number four, they also had to be endowed with understanding. Literally, they had to be the Hebrew phrases, knowers of knowledge. We're told also that they had to be discerning.

This is a reference to being able to gather data and correlate facts and come to the right conclusions. We're not sure what the testing was like, but they got high SAT scores when they entered, evidently. Number six, we're told here in verse four that they had to be able to stand in the king's court. Now that's a reference to their poise and their manners, which I thought was kind of humorous. I can imagine 14-year-olds and their manners, but they're going to grade them on these as well. The manners and the customs certainly would be different.

If you've traveled the world, you've recognized that. I've had several people come up after the service and telling me about their own experiences. We just had one last weekend in Geneva, Switzerland, where manners were very, very different. We were told by the pastor and his wife, as we had dinner with them, that you always place both hands on the table. You always had them up on the table. Elbows were fine, too.

This was really odd. The bread was never put on your plate. It was placed directly on the table. No bread plates. You put your bread right on the table. If you didn't, you would be implying to your hostess that her tablecloth was unclean. Elbows, hands, bread. Is this great or what? I wish my mother had been raised in Geneva.

I've got a lot less cracking on my knuckles growing up. Well, obviously, Daniel and these others are going to learn a host of new manners that are different from anything they've ever seen, but this probably refers to just their bearing, their poise, their social graces. If these young men had all six qualities, the last part of verse 4 informs us that they were inducted into the Babylonian Royal University. In other words, they weren't given slave duty.

They were given scholarships, a free ride. Now, what I want to do is work my way through with you this chapter. We're going to cover all of chapter 1 because we believe in miracles. And what I'm going to do along the way is I want to show you four, by the way of outline, four new life-changing events that have or will impact and challenge Daniel's life and maybe change his heart and his mind. And out of it, what you're going to find is you're going to find this brand new resolution that will serve as a rudder for the rest of his life. The first life-changing event that Daniel faces is that he is taken to a new world.

He's taken to a new world. Frankly, it's difficult for us to imagine the impact of moving from the land of Judah and his boyhood home to the greatest, wealthiest, most resplendent place he'd certainly ever seen and even known to the ancient world. The hanging gardens of the terraced palace were among the seven wonders of the ancient world.

Highly trained staff were used to tend these gardens 24 hours a day. The river Euphrates flowed through the city and the banks of the river inside the city proper were beautifully walled and tiled with steps leading down at certain places to the water's edge like beautiful Venice. It would have been staggering in its beauty. The main entrance of the capital city was also one of the wonders of the ancient world. It was called the Gate of Ishtar, named after their chief goddess.

They considered her the Queen of Heaven. The very gate has been excavated and rebuilt in the Berlin Museum, which they stole after a war during World War II, and they're not giving it back, with its beautiful blue and gold tiles, dragons and lions crafted in patterns along this mosaic tiled wonder. His predecessors had used sun-dried bricks but Nebuchadnezzar was the first to use fired bricks, which then survived in the arid climate and to this day, nearly 3,000 years later, these excavations can be seen as they were and they're still stunning, aren't they? They boggle the imagination.

They reflect the beauty and the wealth and the splendor of this ancient kingdom. In fact, keep in mind that Daniel would have walked through this very gate. He would have seen what you're seeing. I can't imagine his heart racing. Maybe behind his eyes, he's hiding thoughts of utter amazement and intimidation and probably a sense of total hopelessness.

I mean, if there was ever a time to doubt the superiority and the sovereignty of your God, your defeated God, it was now and you're not even past the gate. In fact, to add to the propaganda of their immediate indoctrination, they would have paused just inside this gate and they would have been shown and their guide would have read to them the inscription. The inscription is in hieroglyphs, so you didn't need a picture. I'll just give you the translation. Here it is. Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, the pious prince, appointed by the will of Marduk, of prudent deliberation, having learned to embrace wisdom, who fathom the godly beings and pays reverence to their majesty, the untiring governor, the wise, the humble, the first born of Nabapelassar, the king of Babylon, am I. Wow.

And where are you from? Oh, a little dust bowl back east. They would have walked through that gate and down what would open into this main boulevard called the Processional Way. It was 150 feet wide, twice the width of this auditorium, separated for two-way traffic with a landscaped median, kind of like out on Tryon Road, with sidewalks on either side, tiled, paved for pedestrian traffic and these captives would have walked alongside tiled walls that have also been perfectly preserved and excavated on both sides of this Processional Way, stunning in beauty. They're covered with mosaics of palm trees stretching 30 feet into the air and underneath there's this band of lions marching in single file underneath those palm trees. You take a closer look at the bottom of these tiled walls and you can see how the lions were designed to look as if they're marching along with the pedestrian traffic and all of their strength, all of their splendor. Each lion is seven feet long, set against this backdrop of blue tiles. Excavations actually reveal that their coloring varied somewhat.

Color has faded. Some lions had white fur and yellow manes. Other lions had yellow fur and red manes, all part of sort of this stunning display of the grandeur and the wealth and the power of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar was somewhat obsessed with lions. He collected them, along with other wild animals, to show off his power and he would periodically feed his enemies to them. These lions are going to make an appearance, by the way, in Daniel's life, although he doesn't know it at the time when he walks through this gate.

They'll come about 70 years later. Can you just imagine Daniel and his friends walking through this massive gate down this tiled processional boulevard? I mean, this is not Kansas anymore, is it? This isn't little Jerusalem. This is Babylon the Great.

Welcome to your new world. There's another new thing that's going to happen, not only a new home, but they're about to begin a new education. Now, the king orders Ashbenaz, the headmaster, to begin this three-year university course. It's going to be a crash course. It's going to be taught by the top tutors in the land.

Notice the last part of verse four again. They're to be taught the literature and the language of the Chaldeans. Now, obviously, the purpose of their education was to transform, to convert these Jews into Babylonians. They would have been inducted into the Babylonian mythologies of creation, the flood, the origin of mankind, the plurality of gods. They would have been taught by the Chaldeans. They were the cream of the Babylonian caste system.

They were at the top of the heap. These were the wise men of old. This is the priestly caste who trained the king and the kings and crowned them. They were the diviners, the magicians.

They were also the elite educators, the professors of philosophy and astrology and architecture and agriculture and law and history and linguistics. And their goal here is, again, really simple, to turn these backward, monotheistic, Jewish boys into Babylonian polytheists. It didn't matter if they were atheists at the end of it, but they were going to be turned away from Jehovah, much like the educational system of our own culture which is built on humanism and atheism with many professors having as their chief and the destruction of what they would consider to be a rather crude, ignorant crutch called Christianity. I remember one college student coming up to me some time ago telling me that her professor openly admitted to her that one of his goals was to destroy the faith of Christians in his classroom. So like Daniel, this isn't anything new by the way, bombarded with both truths and errors.

That doesn't mean you can't get a degree from a secular university, but it does mean that you'd better learn like you eat cherries. You swallow the good stuff and do what? You spit out the seeds. You've got to do that all the time. That's not new. In fact, just last week I watched a program about planet Earth. I love to watch those kind of programs, although you might as well turn the volume down because they don't get the point. But at any rate, the pictures are staggering and this woman is gushing in the program about how amazed everybody is that planet Earth is so perfectly suited to support all kinds of life forms and these different pictures of animals and just glorious stuff. And she's talking about how it's amazing that we're at the right distance from the sun so that we are neither fried nor frozen. And I'm saying, yeah, sister, go on. Go on. Keep going. And she then said, the amazing thing is that our planet, unlike any other that we've been able to discover, is covered for the most part with water, which is critical to the sustaining of life in all of its form. And I'm going, yeah, go on. And then she said, we don't know where it came from. Oh, brother.

The camera shifted to a guy standing on the bank of a river. Some educated guy who was explaining the likelihood that millions of years ago, I'm not sure how many throw a few million in there, but millions of years ago, Earth was bombarded by thousands of asteroids, each of them carrying water, which filled up the lakes, rivers and seas. That's great. I love it. Well, don't fault them. I mean, frankly, when you think about it, you've got to come up with something, right?

We know you get nothing out of nothing. Something had to happen. See, Daniel has been taught creationism from his childhood.

Now that's all going to be changed. The Babylonians could actually say to him, look, we've got our theories, too. They did. They could even say, we have our our tree of life. And they did. They could say, we've got our view of a flood.

They did. We've got our pantheon of gods. And from them we came. And it wasn't one God.

It was many. Why in the world do you think that all of this could come from one God? And our gods, my boys, are obviously superior to your God because you're here. Daniel was resolved that even though he lived in Babylon, he would not become a Babylonian. He would remain faithful to God all the days of his life.

And that's what he did. We'll learn more in the days ahead. This is Wisdom for the Heart with Stephen Davey. With this lesson Stephen begins a series on the life of Daniel entitled, Daniel, the First Wise Man.

We'll bring you the remainder of the series in the days ahead. Would you be interested in receiving occasional text messages from Stephen? It is a very easy and convenient way to communicate. And we'd like to add you and send you messages by text from time to time. Of course, once you're signed up, you'll be able to send Stephen a text as well.

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But to get signed up, it's just that one key word. Please do that. We're glad you are with us today. Be sure and thank your local Christian radio station for carrying Wisdom for the Heart. And as I said, this was the first message in Stephen's series through the life of Daniel. Join us next time as we continue this series right here on Wisdom for the Heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-21 00:07:38 / 2022-11-21 00:17:00 / 9

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