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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Dreams and Visions - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Dreams and Visions - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Dreams and Visions - Part 2
TOPICS: Let's Do Difficult, Dream, Vision

And I want to take the balance of our time, I've got a little bit, and use Daniel. I chose Daniel because he's a character that's familiar to many of us. And Daniel had a series of visions and dreams and understandings and insights that God gave to him that are still relevant for our lives. Can you imagine listening to the Lord with such clarity that hundreds and hundreds of years after you're gone, people would still look to what Lord showed you to bring direction to their lives? Wow. I think Daniel knew how to take his stand. Is that fair? So I think there's some things we can learn from him. You know, in a very high level, Daniel is a very unlikely hero. He's a prisoner of war. He lived his adult life as a slave, physically mutilated, and somehow, with those things being descriptive of him, he decides to honor God. One of the things in "Let's Do Difficult" is you have to give up your excuses.

You have to give up your excuses. I wasn't treated fairly. Whatever. Whatever. Prisoner of war, a slave, mutilated, he decides to honor God. He gained some influence in a foreign land. He really does. God intervenes, and he has kind of a meteoric rise. And he gained some influence. And then there's a leadership change. And once again, he gained some influence, and then there's an empire change. But through all of those things, through all the rise and the fall and the jealousy and the antagonism and the hatred and the threats and the death threats, Daniel persists in his determination to do difficult things. And so it seemed like an appropriate snapshot for us to consider. His dreams and visions are presented to us in something of a chronological fashion by Daniel. He introduces them to us in that way. He tells us who the ruler is that he's serving under. It's certainly a historical marker, but I also think it's a reminder that he's persisting as a slave.

Can you imagine serving God with your whole heart in circumstances that were so uncomfortable that you're described as a slave? That's difficult for me. Because I've threatened to withdraw from serving God if he just didn't give me the answers I wanted as quickly as I've wanted them. Amen or oh me. I'm sure we've all considered threatening God a time or two. Well, Daniel chapter 7, in verse 1, it says, "In the first year of Belshazzar the king of Babylon," so we got, it's the first year that Belshazzar, you know, this is the guy that gets the handwriting on the wall, so. "Daniel had a dream and visions passed through his mind as he was lying on his bed. And he wrote down the substance of his dream".

Now, I left the whole dream out. I thought the closing conclusion of it was, for our purpose, sufficient. He said, "In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed". Who did Daniel see? Jesus. Daniel saw the Lord. Now, many years ago, someone more mature and much wiser than I said to me that when you get big guidance, it's because you're gonna need it. And I decided pretty early on I was content with small guidance. I didn't need burning bushes or talking donkeys or angelic host.

I thought, Lord, you know, And I read that again in preparing for the weekend. And I thought Daniel. Imagine that hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus, he saw the King. And are you gonna see the King one day? You will. And you'll get to have a conversation about your journey through time. Can you imagine? And I just wanna plant a seed. When he ask you how it went, don't start, "Well, it was pretty tough. Pastor was long-winded". You wanna give the Lord your best. You can tell me the things in your life for which you've made great sacrifices: to be a parent, for a relationship, to earn a degree, to gain an opportunity. Be certain before your strength is done that there's been a significant effort in your life on behalf of the kingdom of God. And I'm not recruiting or collecting. I'm not talking about those things. I'm talking about taking your stand.

Now, let's go on. Daniel's got a whole host of this. Next chapter, chapter 8 says, "In the third year of King Belshazzar's reign, I, Daniel, had a vision, after the one that had already appeared to me," so we're at least two years later. You know, sometimes I think we're a bit immature in the directions we ask God for. We want God to give us like moment by moment instructions, like the little annoying voice that gives you directions in your car. And every time they say rerouting, I wanna tear it out and throw it out the window. Right? If your directions have been more clear, you wouldn't be rerouting. And I think we have this imagination. We want God to do that. "Go to the corner and turn left. Now, go straight for 150 yards and turn right".

I think there's a more mature way to understand that. If I told you, I'd give you $1000 to deliver my Bible to Little Rock, Arkansas and you agreed and I'll give you $500 now and the other $500 after the Bible is delivered, and you got in the car and you called me from Smyrna, and you said, "I made it to Smyrna. What do you want me to do"? Well, I'd like you to deliver the Bible to Little Rock. I might get another call from Antioch. "I've got some real momentum going. I'm in Antioch. What would you like me to do"? Then I get another call from Dixon. I'd tell you to come home. You're not bright enough to make it to Little Rock. I wanna send somebody that'll finish the job. If you understand the assignment at the beginning, you don't need course correction. And if you're an adult, you don't have to have affirmation at every stop along the way. "But I would like it". Duly noted.

Sometimes we get some, and sometimes we're asked to persevere. In the third year of Belshazzar's reign, Daniel said, "I had another vision". Then I gave you a portion. Verse 15: "While I, Daniel, was watching the vision and trying to understand it, there before me stood one who looked like a man. And I heard a man's voice calling, 'Gabriel, tell this man the meaning of the vision,'" So who's he getting the message from? Gabriel. You're gonna meet him later in the New Testament, an archangel. "The vision of the evenings and mornings that has been given you is true, but seal up the vision, for it concerns the distant future".

So Daniel's had a vision, and a significant portion of it deals with something beyond his lifetime. What I was intrigued by was the impact it had on Daniel. It concerns the distant future, "I, Daniel, was exhausted and I lay ill for several days. Then I got up and went about the king's business. I was appalled by the vision; it was beyond understanding". He recorded it. He made note of it. It took a tremendous physical toll upon him. He has an angelic visit and a revelation from heaven, and it leaves Daniel exhausted for days. Do you have room for that in your imagination? Will you allow me just to suggest the possibility that we need kind of a different structure for what it means to seek God? I've been exhausted in my life. I've been exhausted from digging post holes. I've been exhausted from international travel. I've been exhausted from studying all night. How often have we been exhausted from seeking God?

Now we have a new king. Belshazzar is gone. Darius is king. Daniel chapter 9: "In the first year of Darius," this means he's got to start all over in that whole authority structure again. Because when the kings change and the power structures change, Daniel loses status over and over again. Gotta start from the bottom. "In the first year of Darius the son of Xerxes who was made ruler over the Babylonian kingdom, in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. So I turned to the Lord and I pleaded with him in prayer and petition, and fasting, and sackcloth and ashes," Daniel, in spite of empire changes, despite of gaining some freedom and losing freedom, in spite of having a pretty dramatic spiritual life already. I mean, he could point to his curriculum vita and say, "You know, let me tell you what I've done for the Lord".

In chapter 9, he says, "I was searching the Scriptures even though I read through the Bible last year". And while he studied the Scripture, even as an exile and a slave, even after Jerusalem has been destroyed, you know how easy it would have been to imagine that God had let us down, that those people that taught us the Bible had led us on a pathway of fantasy about the superiority of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? Looks like to me, the god of Babylon trumped that God. Do you know how easy it would have been to step away from any sense of biblical authority and have said, "No, I don't, I don't think so. I'm gonna make it my own way". Daniel says to us, in those opening verses, in spite of another regime change, "Because of Scripture," Daniel says, "Because of what Jeremiah wrote down, we're going home". We're going home. He put such confidence in the Word of God, as a slave, all the stuff, the defeat, the heartbreak. He said, "The Bible says we're going home".

I can't hardly get my head around there. And he begins to pray. We're gonna close with his prayer. I didn't put it in your notes there. But because of Scripture, Daniel begins to fast and pray. He begins to fast and pray, and God responds to him. Now, Daniel knows a little bit about seeking God. He sought the Lord before, and it left him completely physically spent. So he's not into half measures. He's not into convenient Christianity. Daniel's kind of ahead of us on this "let's do difficult" thing. Same chapter, chapter 9, same season of his life, same narrative, we're just stepping down a bit so your notes didn't frighten you. He said, "While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people, my people, Israel and making my request to the Lord my God for his holy hill, while I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision," he remembered him. Come on. You again?

Last time I saw you, it rocked my world. "He came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice". They're not having an evening sacrifice in Babel. That's a reference to what happened that used to happen in Jerusalem when the temple was in place, something that hasn't been happening for 60 years. That's a long way removed, but not from Daniel's thoughts. "He instructed me and he said to me, 'Daniel, I have come, I've now come to give you insight and understanding.'" Do you believe there's insight and understanding that you can only gain with a spiritual heart? "As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given, which I've come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the message and understand the vision," Gabriel comes to visit with insight and understanding.

As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given. Your prayers initiated an answer. What you're invested in studying the Scripture and the awareness that came to you and your response to that awareness elicited a response from heaven. Do you believe that? Do you believe that what the church and the Earth does elicits responses from heaven? Or that our failure to respond forfeits what heaven would do in our generation? May I suggest we raise our hand and say, "Let's do difficult". I'm not talking about bar... doesn't have to be great sights. The investment in the kingdom of God. If investing in the kingdom of God, and I don't mean your money, is loathsome to you, you need to consider the nature of the relationship you have.

Daniel chapter 10, next chapter, we got a new king. So imagine that. Daniel 10, verse 1: "In the third year of Cyrus the king of Persia," we not only have a new king, we've got a whole new empire. The Persians defeated the Babylonians in a day, whole new structure. Whatever place Daniel had, he started over, "a revelation was given to Daniel," he's got a whole new name, "His message was true and it concerned the great war. And the understanding of the message came to him in a vision. At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. I ate no choice food; or meat or wine touched my lips; I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over".

This passage again begins with a chronological placement, a location in history. In the third year of Cyrus, the king of Persia, Daniel, has been having an extended period of fasting. He said for three weeks, I altered my whole lifestyle. He began to seek God, not for a moment, not to begin his day. He's taken three weeks and reordered his life. In verse 12, he has another visit. He says, "Don't be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard," we've heard that before.

We heard that in an earlier version in Daniel's life. When you began to pray, Daniel, I was dispensed with a message, dispatched with a message, and it's repeated here, "your words were heard, and I've come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me for twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me," Michael is another of the archangels. The Scripture tells us that Michael's assignment are the things connected with the Jewish people. Gabriel said, "I was released with a message. I knew the way we've been, we've done this before, Daniel". But this time, there was a principality, and there's a spiritual force of darkness over the Persian Empire that stood between you and that message.

Now, there's lots of questions around that we can ask. A spiritual force with authority over Persia that resisted a heavenly message? I know what some of us immediately do. Well, I don't agree with that. Allow me. The presentation is really not for you to agree or disagree. It's informational. It provides insight into spiritual activity. Now, you can reject the message, but I would encourage you not to. An angel arrives to explain to Daniel what will happen to your people in the future. Daniel is seeking God on behalf of his people for something that is not going to directly impact him. He's not going back to Jerusalem. Are we willing to do that? Are we willing to take a place, to take a stand, to take our stand against evil? Because Daniel's done that through the breadth of his life.

And understand that, even if we don't see the benefit, we will take a stand and hold the place in anticipation that there'll be a generation beyond us that will know the benefit. Come on, church. Jesus gave himself on a cross so that all humanity could be different. The people that knew him the best after he was gone, when they were threatened, they said, "Listen, whatever you think you need to do, you tee it up. We're not stopping".

Now, it's time for the church to find a response. Daniel has this pattern of searching the Scriptures and seeking God regarding the future of his people. This isn't some abstract, random intervention. By this point in the narrative, I hope you can identify for yourself that Daniel has established a track record of doing difficult. One last passage, same chapter: "So he said, 'Do you know why I have come to you?'" This is intriguing. It's insightful. "'Soon I will return to fight against the prince of Persia,'" there is a spiritual opposition to the purposes of God in the Earth. And he said, "Daniel, I had the breakthrough. I delivered the message, but that battle is ongoing".

I promise you there's a battle over the Earth today. I promise you a spiritual battle far more important than rockets that fly and missiles that are launched and weapons that are fired. He said, "When I go, the prince of Greece will come; but first I'll tell you what is written in the Book of Truth. No one supports me against them except Michael, your prince. And in the first year of Darius, the Mede, I took my stand in support and to protect him". There's some ways you can understand that. My understanding is Daniel's taking his place to support the messengers and the purposes of God. There's a spiritual conflict that remains even after the message is delivered. If you'll allow a bit of a historical note, the Greek Empire, which Gabriel mentioned, was the empire that followed the Persian Empire, a whole new principality over that region.

What do you imagine the spiritual forces of darkness over our nation look like? We've redefined marriage. We're confused about biological sex. Major expressions of the Christian church deny the authority of Scripture. And on and on. When God looks at our generation, let him find people who say they'll stand in the gap. I brought you that prayer from Daniel chapter 9. I tweaked it to make it personal. Daniel began to pray. He wasn't praying some great historical prayer for things that happened hundreds of years ago. He was praying about a generation that he knew. He knew the circumstances of their lives. He knew precisely why they were learning foreign languages in foreign countries. And yet, when he began to pray, he wasn't praying with anger about his parents and grandparents. Or he wasn't praying with anger about the ill behavior of the generation who preceded him. He said, "Forgive me. Forgive us".

And if you're still angry at someone who's preceded you, you're forfeiting the opportunity of your life. You're caught. Forgive. Release. Doesn't mean they got away with it. They'll deal with an Almighty God. Nobody gets away. But anger and resentment and bitterness and hatred hold you in bondage, or me. It's a wonderful prayer. Let's stand together. It's a little longer than the prayers we read typically, but it's worth the time. Daniel's the book where we learn so many of those stories that we teach children, about lions's dens and lions that aren't hungry and furnaces that aren't hot.

Daniel saw some tremendous victories, and he continued to seek the Lord. It's my prayer for you that only that you would know the joy of being birthed into the kingdom of God, but that you would know the triumph and the wonder of seeking a living God, but being freed from the burden of pretending, and be set free to the just the inestimable privilege of bearing the name of Jesus in time. We will see Jesus when... Daniel saw. You and I will see him, and we want to have lived in such a way that anybody that remotely bumped into us thought, "That is a Jesus person right over there". Because when you see the King, you'll be grateful for that. And I haven't always been that. I haven't always been that. So I suspect there's at least some degree of possibility you may not have always been that. Daniel's prayer:

O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with all who love him and obey his commands, we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your command and laws. We have not listened to your direction. Now, O Lord our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servants. For your sake, O Lord, look with favor on your people. Give ear and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of our day. We do not make requests because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. O Lord, listen! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hear and act! For your sake, do not delay, because your people bear your name, amen.

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