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Watch 2022 online sermons » Robert Jeffress » Robert Jeffress - Daniel, Courageous Living In A Pagan World - Part 2

Robert Jeffress - Daniel, Courageous Living In A Pagan World - Part 2

Robert Jeffress - Daniel, Courageous Living In A Pagan World - Part 2
TOPICS: Courageous Living In A Pagan World, Daniel

Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. Many of us assume that our culture has never been more corrupt and Godless than it is right now, but when we read the Old Testament, we're quick to recognize our shortsightedness. The truth is our favorite biblical giants lived in corrupt times as well. And despite the opposition, they chose to stand strong. Today I want to introduce you to a courageous man who stood boldly against the secular forces of his day. My message is titled, "Courageous Living in a Pagan World" on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.

Now, the prophet Habakkuk had a difficult time with some of these prophecies. He couldn't believe that God would use a pagan people like Babylon, idol worshipers, to bring judgment upon God's own people. And in fact, in Habakkuk one verse 13, Habakkuk was having an argument with God in himself and he said, "God, your eyes are too pure to approve evil. You cannot look on wickedness with favor. Why do you look with favor upon those who deal treacherously"? That is the Babylonians. "Why are you silent when the wicked swallow up those more righteous than they"? That's the whole question of the book of Habakkuk.

How can God use pagans to bring about his judgment against the godly? You know, we see the same question being asked today. I don't know whether the events of 9/11 were God's judgment on America or not. God didn't tell me, so I don't know. There are a lot of reasons bad things happen. But one thing I do know was absolutely ludicrous during that discussion were people who said, "Well, God would never use Islamic terrorists to accomplish his purpose. That's impossible". Well, it's not impossible at all. God often uses pagans to accomplish his purpose even among godly people. God used the Assyrians to bring judgment against the northern kingdom. He used the Babylonians to bring judgment against Judah as well.

Now, in Daniel 1:1, look at this verse with me. "In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it". Daniel, as I said, was one of the young captives who was in the first group of hostages taken to Babylon. And we'll know and we'll see in chapter two that he was able to interpret Nebuchadnezzar's dream and because of that, Nebuchadnezzar raised him to a place of prominence. Apparently, after Nebuchadnezzar's death, however, Daniel fell into disfavor with subsequent kings. In fact, you don't hear anything about him until the last king of Babylon, Belshazzar, called upon Daniel to read the mysterious handwriting on the wall. Remember that story?

And Daniel interpreted God has numbered your kingdom and has put an end to it. And of course, that very night, God delivered Babylon into the hands of Darius the Mede. He invaded Babylon, became the king of Babylon, and he elevated Daniel to become one of the three leaders of Babylon. And Darius was king and finally, Cyrus, the Persian king invaded Babylon and it was in the third year of Cyrus's rule that he issued the decree for Judah to be able to return to her homeland. And so the book of Daniel covers the time period between 605, that's Nebuchadnezzar's invasion, until the time that Cyrus, the Persian king, told the Israelites that they could go back to their home country.

Now, if this is so clearly stated in the Bible, that these events started in the seventh century and concluded in the middle or the end of the sixth century, why is it that people want to put a late date to the book of Daniel and say it was written in the second century B.C., like 165 B.C.? Why do they do that when it is so clearly stated, here? Well, you need to understand that for 2000 years of church history, the older date of Daniel was widely accepted by most theologians with one notable exception. In 250 A.D., 250 A.D., there was a heretic, an unbeliever named porphyry. And porphyry wrote 15 books entitled, "Against Christianity". And he attacked the Christian faith and book number 12, he devoted solely to the book of Daniel. And he made the claim that Daniel was not written in the sixth century, but it was written in the second century, that it was an imposter who wrote it and tried to pass it off as prophecy.

Well, porphyry was roundly denounced by the church fathers. His findings were highly discredited and that was the end of porphyry in 250 A.D. You never heard from him again until the 17th century, when with the rise of higher criticism, liberal theologians resurfaced the teaching of porphyry that Daniel was a fraud and a forgery. And the reason I bring that up is to simply say whenever you hear a noted Christian scholar, a Christian teacher in a college or a seminary claiming that Daniel was written in the second century and not the sixth century, you're not listening to the theory of a believer. You're listening to the repackaged and regurgitated teachings of a heretic. Everybody who believes the Bible believes that it's telling the truth when it tells the fact that Daniel wrote this book. It is not a forgery. It is an amazing book filled with all kinds of fulfilled prophecy.

Remember, the liberal theologian cannot accept the idea of fulfilled prophecy because it involves the supernatural. Let's talk about the language for a minute. It's interesting that the book of Daniel actually is written in two different languages. Chapter one and chapters eight through 12 are written in Hebrew. Chapters two to seven are written in Aramaic. Now, again, those who want to discredit the book of Daniel say, "Well, there it is. That shows you it's a forgery. Why would any one author use two languages"? Well, it's very clear. When he's writing in Hebrew, he uses Hebrew to describe God's dealings with Israel. God's dealing with Israel is written in the Hebrew language, but when he describes God's program for the gentile nations, in chapters two to seven, he writes it in Aramaic.

Now let's talk about the place in scripture. To me this is really interesting, the place that Daniel has in scripture, the Old Testament. Remember, the Old Testament was divided into three categories. Jesus and others divided the Old Testament into three categories. You had the law. That's the first five books of the Bible, Genesis through Deuteronomy. You had the prophets. Prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel. We call the prophets. Some of them are major prophets and some are minor prophets. It had nothing to do with the status or the importance of the prophet. It had to do with the length of the book that he wrote, whether it was a major prophet or a minor prophet. But you had the prophets. That was the second category. And then you had what you call the writings, the writings. That includes the Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Ruth and Daniel was included in the writings.

Now, again, the critic of Daniel said, "There it is". There's another evidence that he's really not a prophet, that this was a forgery. And according to this theory, the reason that Daniel was placed in that final category, the writings, is at the very last minute, this forgery called Daniel was slipped in when nobody noticed it to the canon of scripture and the fact that it is placed in the third category shows that it was written at a relatively late date. Now, that theory has as many holes in it as a piece of swiss cheese. And let me show you why. There's a simple reason why Daniel was not included in the prophets and instead included in the writings. Daniel, by his profession, was not a prophet. He was not called as a prophet. He was a politician, a government official that God used for miraculous purpose, so it would have been out of place to put him as one of the prophets. And as far as the late date, the fact that Daniel was included in the third category doesn't mean it was written at a late date.

Do you realize job is also included in the writings. It's the earliest book that was ever written in the Old Testament. No, the fact is, Daniel is more suited to be in the writings than in any other place in scripture. Now, I'll once for all drive the nail through this claim that Daniel was written in the second century, 165 B.C. Here's why that is absolutely impossible. Do you remember what the septuagint is? The septuagint was the Greek translation of the Old Testament. It was composed in Alexandria, Egypt. And the date of the septuagint was anywhere from 300 to 250 B.C. Now, the septuagint, I mean everybody knew about the septuagint. It is very clear that the septuagint included the book of Daniel. Now, if the book of Daniel wasn't written until 165 B.C., how did it find its way into the septuagint in 300 B.C.? The fact is, Daniel has always been considered a part of the canon, the measure, of Old Testament scripture. And one thing you'll find very interesting.

I'm gonna talk about this more in our morning series when I talk about "How can you know that the Bible is true"? One thing's very interesting. There were some debates about some Old Testament books, whether or not they measured up and should be included in the Old Testament. There was a debate about Ecclesiastes. There was a debate about Ruth. There was a debate about the song of Solomon, but never was there one recorded debate about the book of Daniel. From the very beginning, it was accepted for what it was, a book of miraculous prophecies. Let me say a word about the style of Daniel. The book of Daniel is called an apocalyptic writing. It's apocalyptic literature.

Now, you remember from our study of the Book of Revelation, that revelation is actually called the apocalypse. It comes from the Greek word apocalupsis, which means the unveiling. Apocalyptic literature is literature that unveils future events by using dreams and visions that the writer writes down precisely and then is given and provided divine interpretation. In apocalyptic literature, you always have a pointing toward the future. The future is communicated many times in dreams and vision and God always provides a divine interpreter. Now we know about the revelation, the Book of Revelation, the apocalupsis of Jesus Christ. Something about apocalyptic literature, it's usually written under oppressive conditions to bring encouragement to people. And that's true about the book of the Revelation.

Remember the situation from the Book of Revelation? The apostle John, who was the pastor of the church of Ephesus, had been exiled to Patmos because of his faithfulness to Christ. This coming summer, some of us are going to get to visit the Isle of Patmos and we will actually go down into that cave where John received that revelation. It's the most amazing thing you'll ever see. But that book of the revelation was given to John to encourage him, in the midst of persecution, to remain faithful to Jesus Christ. And not only to John, but to those seven churches in Asia Minor to say, "Yes, you're getting ready to go through intense persecution, but look at what is awaiting you when Christ returns". In light of Christ's return, remain faithful.

Now the same thing is true about the book of Daniel. The book of Daniel was given during a time when Israel was in exile. She was being punished because of her sin. And yet God gave this vision of future events to Daniel to encourage Israel to say, look, you've messed up big time, but God isn't finished with you. God still has a great plan for Israel's future. That's apocalyptic literature. It's literature about the future, written under times of oppression, to give encouragement. Now I should note that around 250 B.C., there was a whole group of apocalyptic writing that occurred, books that pretended to be apocalyptic. None of them had authors associated with them, or credible authors associated with them. They were filled with historical inconsistencies. They were clearly inferior to the writing of scripture and there was never even a debate about including them in the Bible. We call these books part of the pseudepigrapha, the false writings. They were never considered a part of scripture.

Now, now that we've looked at the overview of Daniel, let's look briefly at an outline of the book of Daniel. You know there are several ways you can divide the book of Daniel. For example, chapters one to six are historical, telling us of Daniel's ministry in Babylon. Chapters seven to 12 are apocalyptic. They are about God's future program for Israel and the gentiles. So you can look at the present and the future. Another way to divide it would be chapters one to six are about the messenger, Daniel himself. Chapters seven to 12 contain the message itself. Chapters one to six center on the prophet. Chapters seven to 12 are about the prophecy. Chapters one to six are about the here and now. Chapters seven to 12 about the hereafter. Another approach is to say chapter one is the introduction. Chapters two to seven are about God's plan for gentile nations. And chapters eight to 12, God's program for Israel. The outline I like best is one I adapted from Dr. John Walvoord, from his book "Daniel, key to prophetic revelation". And it's the one that we're going to follow in our study of this important book.

Now, in the final minutes here tonight, I want to close by talking about three benefits of studying the book of Daniel. And I want you to write down each of these benefits. Why study the book of Daniel? First of all, the book of Daniel emphasizes the sovereignty of God over all people. It emphasizes the sovereignty of God over all people. As Nebuchadnezzar, the unbeliever, came to understand, God establishes and deposes kings and kingdoms. I want you to turn over to chapter two verse 21. I want you to start, two verses here. First of all, Daniel 2:21. Daniel writes, "It is God who changes the times and the epochs. He removes kings and establishes kings. He gives wisdom to wise men and knowledge to men of understanding". Or turn over to chapter four verse 35. Chapter four, verse 35. "All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but God does everything according to his will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth and no one can ward off his hand or say to him, 'what have you done'"?

God is the one who establishes kings and he removes kings. That truth does not relieve us of our responsibility, but it does relieve us of a lot of anxiety. God is sovereign over all people. Secondly, Daniel reminds us of God's faithfulness to his people. Daniel reminds us of God's faithfulness to his people. Even though Judah had been exiled to Babylon because of her disobedience, the fact is even though she was under his severe discipline, God still supernaturally protected his people, and he eventually brought them home. And the fact is, God will do the same for any of us who are his children. Even when we're under his divine discipline, God still is working out his plan for our life. Moses wrote this about the Israelites, about their 400 years of bondage in Egypt and later about their 40 years of wandering in the wilderness because of their disobedience to God. Listen to what God's attitude was for his children he was disciplining.

In Deuteronomy 32 verse 10 he said, "God found him," talking about Israel, "In a desert land, and in the howling waste of a wilderness, he encircled him. He cared for him and he guarded him as the pupil of his eye". There's some of you listening right now. You feel like you're in the wilderness. You feel like God has forsaken you. You feel like God has forgotten about you. And the most painful part about this experience is you realize you're where you are right now, not because of anyone else, but because of your own failure. Let me give you a word of assurance tonight. If you feel like you're in the wilderness, that you're there by your own disobedience, yes, you're experiencing the discipline of God, but it doesn't mean God has forgotten about you. It doesn't mean God has forsaken you. It doesn't mean God does not love you. The fact is, he's still working out his purpose for your life and one day he'll be ready, you'll be ready for that new beginning he has planned for you.

Somebody has said the most precious object of God's love is his child in the desert. God cares for his people. He is faithful to his people even during times of severe discipline. Thirdly, the book of Daniel serves as an example of godly living in the midst of a decaying culture. The book of Daniel is an example of godly living in the midst of a decaying culture. I don't have to tell you that we are living in a culture that is increasingly, rapidly, become more and more Godless. Ladies and gentlemen, our greatest problem as a nation is not a fiscal deficit. It is a moral deficit. And not only that, the greatest danger awaiting our nation is not economic bankruptcy. It is spiritual bankruptcy. The problem with our nation is we have forsaken God.

We have turned away from God and neither the republicans or the democrats, they are both spiritually bankrupt. They don't have the guts to stand up and point out what our true problem is of our nation and neither do they have the guts to point out the only remedy for our nation's healing and that is a turning back to God. Now, the Bible says, and here's the good news. That great turning back to God will never come about through a political or governmental mandate. The only way we're gonna turn back to God as a nation, the only motivation to turn back to God as a nation, is for Christians to have the courage to stand up like a Daniel. Christian men and women to stand up, to be what Paul calls "Children of light in the midst of a perverse and crooked generation, holding forth the word of life" and my prayer for us is that the book of Daniel will give us both the instruction and the encouragement we need to do just that.
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