This tag-cloud series is to help us understand books of the Bible in summary / theme level understanding.
Much like the Gospels, the Old Testament only makes sense in light of the Person and Work of Jesus, His death, and resurrection.
The Gospels are not just bald, objective video recordings of the life and teachings of Jesus; rather they are inspired, theological retellings/interpretations after the crucial reality of the death and resurrection of Jesus. God raising Jesus from the dead changes everything for the Gospel writers. Once they were writing after this fact and the giving of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, they could see significance in things that Jesus said and did that they could not have seen previously. And this is precisely what is given to us in the testimonial history of the Gospels.
-J. Pennington, Reading the Gospels Wisely, 153-154
What does Gospel-Centered mean? you ask.
First, let’s define the Gospel
The Gospel is,
The Person and Work of Jesus; Jesus, Who is God, was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life (fulfilling everything God demands of us), yet died on the cross and became sin for us, paid for our sin and guilt with His life, was buried, and on the third day rose again according to the Scriptures.
This is the Gospel in a nutshell.
But what does “Gospel-Centered” mean?
In essence, Gospel-Centered means the Gospel is placed front and center of our theology and life. The Gospel is that which makes everything else make sense.
What is the justification of being Gospel-Centered?
- We see a pattern in Scripture
- Four (4) Gospels depict the Person and Work of Jesus (Matthew, Mark Luke and John)
- Paul lays out an example of everything we do flows from and out of the Gospel
- He explains the Gospel in detail in Romans 1-11 and then appeals to the Roman Christians to live out the Gospel
- He shares the Gospel to Christian believers first and then he shares what we must do in light of the Gospel (1 Corinthians 1:1-9; 2 Corinthians 1:1-5; Galatians 1:1-3; Ephesians 1:1-14; Philippians 1:1-11; Colossians 1:1-8; 1 Thessalonians 1; 2 Thessalonians 1; 1 Timothy 1:1-11; 2 Timothy 1:1-7; Philemon 1-7; 1 Peter 1:1-12)
- Paul shares that Jesus is the Mediator between God and Men (1 Timothy 2:5)
- Paul proclaims, “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory” (2 Corinthians 1:20)
Let’s park on The Glory of God for a bit
Fact: God’s glory is the root of all I see in Scripture.
This is the paradigm by which I read and interpret Scripture. I determine the genre and interpret the text both literally and theologically with this overarching question:
How does this text reveal God’s glory?
Think of it this way. All of history and all of Scripture is hinged upon the Glory of God; but more specifically, everything hinges on the Glory of God in Christ.
- In Genesis 1-2, we see God’s glory displayed in His creation through Christ (Colossians 1:16-17; John 1:3)
- God displays His glory to Isaiah (Isaiah 6) before Whom Isaiah falls in worship (John explains Isaiah saw Jesus in John 12)
- Paul explains that God’s glory is displayed in the redemptive work of Christ (Romans 3:21-26)
- God’s glory is displayed in Christ Himself (John 1:1-18, Colossians 2:9)
I love what Jeremy Weaver says about the glory of God as our hermeneutic:
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.'”) And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. (John 1:14-18) Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? (John 14:8-9)
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. (Hebrews 1:1-4)
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6) He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, (Colossians 1:13-19)
This means that my hermeneutic now becomes Christological in nature.
This conclusion is supported by the following verses:
And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:25-27)
If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not deemed true. There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true. You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me. And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. I do not receive glory from people. But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?” (John 5:31-47) But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 3:14-15)
From these verses we learn that Scripture is not only about God’s glory, it is about the One through whom He has most perfectly revealed His glory, that is, His only Son. All of Scripture is about Him. I find Bryan Chapell’s statement most helpful when looking for Christ in the Scriptures.
“In its context, every passage possesses one or more of four redemptive foci. Every text is predictive of the work of Christ, preparatory for the work of Christ, reflective of the work of Christ, and/or resultant of the work of Christ.” Bryan Chapell, Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the expository Sermon (1994; Grand Rapids: Baker Books), 275.
- Predictive: these passages include specific prophecies, Messianic Psalms, and many of the ceremonial laws, which make no specific reference to Christ and yet are revealed to be about Christ when we read the New Testament.
- Preparatory: Some of the Old Testament passages were meant to prepare God’s people for the coming of Christ. God’s covenants with man in Old Testament were preparatory in this sense.
- Reflective: According to Chappell,
“Where the text neither plainly predicts nor prepares for the Redeemer’s work the expositor simply should explain how the text reflects key facets of the redemptive message…What does this text reflect of: God’s nature that provides the ministry of Christ; and/or human nature that requires the ministry of Christ?” Ibid., 277.
- Resultant: These are passages that tell us how we should live based upon Christ’s work. It is important to recognize that these are not guidelines for earning God’s favor, but the results of the heart set free by Christ. (Points 1-4 summarized from Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon, by Bryan Chapell, pp.275-279.)
Now, none of what has been written in this post is to the neglect of the literal interpretation of Scripture. It is all founded upon the literal reading of texts in their historical contexts. It is not a method of reading Christ into the text (eisogesis), finding where He really is in the text. For example, in Genesis 1 Christ. But if we read John 1 literally we find that He is there. And further, if we read the passages listed above literally, then we must conclude that Christ permeates the pages of both the Old and New Testaments. And to interpret Scripture ignoring this fact is to miss the point altogether.
The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference. ~Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life (1995)
Because there is a law such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the Universe exists, why we exist. ~Stephen W. Hawking in The Grand Design
This is what I do not get: How is it, if we truly are living in a universe without true purpose (we establish our own purpose), no design (no one designed and “created” the universe), with “no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference,” where does morality come from?
I mean if God does not exist, only we exist, then why should I live life in the norm? Why should I care if I live or die? If I die and my body lies cold in the grave with no redemption, judgment and punishment, why should I care what other people think? If the scoffing and ridicule of people is all I get after life, what of it? Who cares? It’s my 15 minutes of postmortem “fame” that means NOTHING because all those people who are ridiculing me will die too.
What moral basis is there for me to obey all the rules and laws of the land and not be another Hitler?
While the New Atheist “rails against God, denying us any transcendent point of reference,” explains Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias, “he fully embraces God’s life-defining prerogatives.” It is what Wilson calls “sentimental” atheism. And it doesn’t sound at all like the death of God as pronounced by atheists of days gone by; it sounds rather more like the kids sending God out on a Caribbean cruise and having a party at his house while he’s gone. In other words, the New Atheists want to have their cake and eat it, too. ~Salvo Magazine
Further, if God does not exist, why are Atheists so bent on destroying religion? If it really doesn’t matter, then why get on a soapbox that doesn’t matter? Let me live my life and be done with it.
IF God does not exist and Hebrews 4:12-13 is not true, if the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”
This is Atheism’s Strength
But if God does exist and Hebrews 4:12-13 is true yet you do not believe in God, even if you win, you lose. Without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
This is Atheism’s Weakness
Christianity provides the best understanding of the reality of the universe. It was created good, man sinned and plunged all of creation into darkness, but Jesus came and died in our place so that we may be re-created in Him and one day will live gloriously with Him for eternity in the New Heaven and New Earth.
In Christianity, God, in Jesus, became man, but in other religions, man becomes god or nothing at all.
I will follow Christ for in Him is life and life abundantly. And if He does not exist (and I seriously doubt He does not exist), I have not lost anything for tomorrow we die and only die.
Ecclesiastes 7 provides some wisdom:
It is better to go to the house of mourning
than to go to the house of feasting,
for this is the end of all mankind,
and the living will lay it to heart. (Ecclesiastes 7:2)
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth. (Ecclesiastes 7:4)
Death is not a pleasant thing to think about. It is anything but natural.
But death is a part of life that everyone will experience this side of Christ’s Second Coming.
If I were to prepare for the House of Mourning, I would ask that my friends sing the following songs and read the following Scripture. First the songs, then the Scriptures.
Simply put, I want everyone to leave weeping for joy in our Savior, encouraged of His love for each of us, exhorted to live life to God’s glory, and bold to share the Good News of Jesus the Savior of men’s souls.
- Amazing Grace
- Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed
- A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
- All the Way My Savior Leads Me
- Be Still, My Soul
- And Can It Be
- Before the Throne of God Above
- Blessed Assurance, Jesus Is Mine
- Face to Face with Christ, My Savior
- Great Is Thy Faithfulness
- He Is Exalted
- He Leadeth Me! O Blessed Thought
- He Lives
- I Sing the Mighty Power of God
- I Stand Amazed in the Presence
- In Christ Alone (My Hope Is Found)
- O Worship the King
- The Wonderful Cross
- There Is a Fountain
- There Is a Redeemer
- Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus
Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
Serve the LORD with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the LORD is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations. ~Psalm 100
I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. ~1 Corinthians 15:50-58
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint. ~Isaiah 40:28-31
Soli Deo Gloria
One of the reasons why people reject Postmillennialism is that its ideas don’t allow Christians to truly expect the return of Christ within their own lifetime. O T Allis writes:
If, according to Postmillenialist or Whitbyan view, the millennium is wholly future and is to precede the advent, it is absurd, they [Premillennialists] tell us, to speak of expecting or watching for the coming of the Lord. This argument is not without weight. Amillennialists feel this objection to the Postmillennial view quite as strongly as do Premillenialists. … Belief in a still future spiritual millennium does undoubtedly tend to weaken the Christians’ expectancy of the coming, by referring to a remote future” (Prophecy and the Church, 167).
What most folk don’t realize is that this argument from imminency not only works against Postmillennialism but it also gives problems for Premillennialists. For the New Testament tells us that we shouldn’t only be looking for the coming of the Lord, but we should also be “looking for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13). Christians are told to be “looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning and the elements will melt with intense heat” (2 Peter 3:12).
Now, the New Heavens and New Earth mentioned in these verses cannot be a reference to the Pre-Millennium. This is because this New Creation is said to occur after “the earth and its works will be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10). No Premillennialist believes that a brand new Earth is put in place when the Millennium begins. Instead, this happens after the Millennium is over.
Another imminency argument comes from Acts 24:15. There the Apostle Paul tells us that he “looks for … a resurrection of both the just and the unjust.” Again, neither Postmillennialism nor Premillennialism lets us “look for” a resurrection of BOTH saved and unsaved, as if it were a possible event within our lifetimes. Only Amillennialism permits this.
Therefore, we are told by an Apostle to “look for” the eternal state as though we can expect it as an event within our lifetime. The only eschatology that allows Christians to do so is Amillennialism. My friend, whatever your prophetic system, are you obeying the words of the Apostle? Can you honestly and sincerely say that you are looking for and earnestly desiring the New Heavens and New Earth? If not, then perhaps one of the reasons for this is that your system won’t let you. If this be the case, then let’s change the system in order that we may be more biblical.
Oz The Great and Powerful
We all believe in that which we understand to be true.
I believe Christianity to be true and all other views false. To get right down to it, here are my reasons:
- Jesus fulfilled everything required of us
There is so much mystery in Christianity. Christianity teaches God is one being yet three distinct persons and still one God– God is Love –(monotheism). Jesus, who was not man, became man, and his divinity and humanity are never mixed. The resurrection. God using the foolishness of this world to accomplish his will because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
Suffering is not a good thing, but God uses suffering for good. But God is not a God who is so set apart from us that He merely sits in the ivory tower of Heaven. Jesus experienced suffering and death and can identify with our weaknesses (Suffering, Hebrews 4:14-16).
There is something significant that happens in Daniel 2 that the English reader typically misses.
When Daniel 2:4 says: ‘The Chaldeans spoke to the king in Aramaic’, the entire text thereafter shifts from Hebrew into Aramaic all the way until Daniel 7:28. Why? Aramaic was the language of the international world of the time (as Latin later became and as English is today).
It was the language that the elites of every country could speak.
Daniel is the only book of both the Old and New Testaments that is written in two languages. It is intentionally a bi-lingual book. What does this tell us? Well, it tells us that the message of Daniel is not just intended for believers/Jews but for all the nations of the world. The book of Daniel is very much a book about how believers are to live “life in the real world”. It is meant to show the entire world through narrative what kingdom distinctiveness (Christian distinctiveness) looks like.
Read Daniel 2:1-49
Notice the two things we must come to terms with if we are to live with distinctiveness:
1) The Location of our Identity
2) The Depth of our lack
Question: Why was Nebuchadnezzar so anxious and troubled? We know that his inner turmoil was great because he’s losing sleep over it. So why was he so troubled in spirit?
It is important to remember that whenever we have negative emotions like this it is usually because we have exalted something finite to a pretended ultimacy. Tim Keller writes,
One of the signs that an object is functioning as an idol is that fear becomes one of the chief characteristics of life. When we center our lives on the idol, we become dependent on it. If our counterfeit god is threatened in any way, our response is complete panic. We do not say, ‘What a shame, how difficult,’ but rather ‘This is the end! There’s no hope!’
Another quotation is very insightful and helpful. Thomas Oden says,
When I interpret some particular possibility as a threat to some value I consider necessary for my existence, I experience anxiety . . . Anxiety becomes neurotically intensified to the degree that I have idolized finite values that properly should have been regarded as limited. The more I worship finite gods, the more I make myself vulnerable to intensified anxiety (Two Worlds, p. 97).
What Thomas Oden is saying is that when something that we consider essential to our existence (i.e. something that we believe we can’t live without) is threatened, we become anxious. And the more our confidence is placed in that finite value (god) the more anxious we become. This is why Nebuchadnezzar is losing so much sleep.
He has placed his confidence in a finite god.
Question: So what is Nebuchadnezzar’s finite god?
Power and Success
Nebuchadnezzar was finding his identity in his achieved power and success as a leader, and he ultimately became unreasonable in his requests (Daniel 2:12).
Usually anxiety comes directly from having our identity in the wrong place
Where might your identity be if you are experiencing intense anxiety at the thought that you might have done very poorly on a test?
Where might your identity be if you are experiencing intense anxiety at the thought of having to speak in front of a group of people?
Where might your identity be if you are experiencing intense anxiety at the thought of not being able to fix something you think you ought to be able to fix?
Where might your identity be if you are experiencing intense anxiety at the thought of your political party losing an election?
You see if you are seeking your identity in anything other than Christ, you will not be able to live in a secular culture with kingdom distinctiveness
The location of your identity is absolutely crucial if you are to live with kingdom distinctiveness. When we build our lives on earthly success, relationships, approval, comfort, popularity, political power, and the like, we lose our distinctiveness though we may engage in a million different Christian activities. Christian distinctiveness is not really seen in what you do.
Christian distinctiveness is seen in where you find your identity
In other words, the distinctiveness of your Christianity is seen at the motivational level because you do not become anxious when you lose power, success, approval, acceptance, comfort, or whatever. That is what shows us to be different and it is what demonstrated Daniel to be different.
Daniel 2:9 If you do not tell me the dream, there is just one penalty for you. You have conspired to tell me misleading and wicked things, hoping the situation will change. So then, tell me the dream, and I will know that you can interpret it for me.” 10 The astrologers answered the king, “There is not a man on earth who can do what the king asks! No king, however great and mighty, has ever asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or astrologer. 11 What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among men.” 12 This made the king so angry and furious that he ordered the execution of all the wise men of Babylon.
What does the word “this” reference? I think we find what “this” references in verse 11.
Daniel 2:11 What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among men.”
I believe that it is this statement that enrages him (in verse 12) and leads to the death decree. What does this tell us?
Nebuchadnezzar was the most powerful man on earth, but now he is being brought up against the fact that he is still just a man
The dream was bringing him to terms with his limits and finitude. The wise men in v.12 bring up a very sore subject with a powerful person–”you are just another human being”–there are limits to what human beings can actually accomplish. Nebuchadnezzar knows this dream as something to do with his own fall from power, but his inability to discover the meaning is driving the nail deeper with the additional reminder that he is not God.
We must be careful not to think that we are any different than Nebuchadnezzar. Our own desire to be God is seen in numerous ways. Our worry and anxiety often reveals that we are sure we know better than God how our life should go. Much of our drive for beauty or success is a desire for a ‘glory’ and importance that only belongs to God.
People who live with kingdom distinctiveness are well aware of their lack and limits
Anytime we get overly upset at the loss of control in a situation, or the interruption of our plans or schedule, we are demonstrating that we have the same problem as Nebuchadnezzar.
How are you when someone interrupts your plans for a nice leisurely day?
How are you when your political party loses an election?
So if we are to live with kingdom distinctiveness we must come to terms with the location of our identity and our own personal lack. When we do, we hold everything in this world loosely. Nothing really rattles us.
How did kingdom distinctiveness play out in Daniel’s secular context?
I want you to notice the similarities and differences between Daniel’s behavior in chapters 1 and 2.
In chapter 1, Daniel was very tactful. We see this again in chapter 2:14. He is very “tactful” with a pagan (Arioch) who had power over him. He must have been a very winsome, persuasive man, since he knew how to talk attractively to people who should not have been inclined to listen.
Also, we again see Daniel depending on God to reveal that His wisdom is greater than their wisdom. Both chapter 1 and chapter 2 is a ‘wisdom contest’–of God’s wisdom against the Babylonians. In both situations, Daniel literally ‘stuck his neck out’, and if God had not answered or intervened, he would have been lost.
Both times there is both a compliance-and-yet-defiance balance. On the one hand, he is simply doing what the king has demanded–interpreting the dream as a wise man. He is doing his job. Yet on the other hand, he lets it be known very clearly that it is God who is the sole source of what he is doing. “no wise man, enchanter, or magician can explain to the king this mystery.” (v.27)
Daniel is giving God public credit
In chapter 1, Daniel does not ‘make a federal case’ out of his conscience problem with eating the king’s food. He does everything he can not to publicly, dramatically profess his faith. He is not needlessly ‘showy and loud’ about his faith. In chapter 1 he only talks to the chief official about it. He does not crow, ‘We are believers! We will not eat defiled food!” There is no note of anything like that.
But here now, in chapter 2, the situation calls for tremendous boldness. He certainly could have told the king the dream without making such a strong statement as he does in v.27-28. He could have easily said, “King, here’s the dream and the interpretation”, instead of loudly saying, “what I am about to do should show you that my God is superior to all the learning and philosophy and religion of your Babylonian civilization!”
It is breath-taking to compare v.27 and v.12. When he says, “no human being can answer your question—only God” in v.27, he is saying exactly what the astrologers said in v.11 that set him into a rage. So Daniel, though he does not have to make such a bold public witness here–does so. While in chapter 1, when he could have done so—he did not.
Daniel 2:17 Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 18 He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. 19 During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven 20 and said: “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. 21 He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. 22 He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him. 23 I thank and praise you, O God of my fathers: You have given me wisdom and power, you have made known to me what we asked of you, you have made known to us the dream of the king.”
I think the answer is that he was a man who sought for mercy and wisdom in prayer (ala Proverbs 26:4-5).
Daniel 6:10 tells us that he prayed three times a day. Daniel was a man of prayer and you can be sure that every time he prayed he was asking God for mercy and wisdom.
It’s important to realize that Daniel did not only seek for mercy and wisdom in prayer. He was also a man who prayed with a spirit of worship and adoration. His prayer of praise in vv.20-23 shows that in prayer Daniel did not only make petitions and requests, but he sought fellowship with and experience of God’s presence. It is not ‘petition’ but adoration that makes a person into the kind of greathearted courageous person that Daniel shows himself to be before the king.
What must we do to pull it off ourselves? How do you actually live with distinctiveness? How do we become people like this?
The answer is found in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. The important thing to understand is what the head of Nebuchadnezzar’s statue represents.
Daniel 2:36 “This was the dream, and now we will interpret it to the king. 37 You, O king, are the king of kings. The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory; 38 in your hands he has placed mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds of the air. Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them all. You are that head of gold.
So the gold head is Nebuchadnezzar. The point of the gold is to say that this kingdom of the world is considered a dazzling and awesome kingdom. It’s attractive and powerful. It’s where dreams can come true and life can be lived to the fullest. That is some of what the symbolism of the gold points to.
But notice what the feet are made of.
Daniel 2:32 The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, 33 its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay.
Question: What does this tell us? The very foundation of this dazzling kingdom of man is
weak and fragile. It has no lasting or abiding quality. It will crumble and fall. It’s just a
matter of time.
But notice what we learn in verse 34.
Daniel 2:34 While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them.
Verses 44-45 tell us more about this cut out rock.
Daniel 2:44 “In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. 45 This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands– a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces. “The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and the interpretation is trustworthy.”
Notice that . . .
This stone is “cut out, not by human hands” (v.34). This is in complete contrast to the statue, which is a work of the greatest human art, skill, and craftsman ship.
Stone is the least valuable of all the substances. So the kingdom of God is considered (by the world’s standards) to be something small and insignificant.
In actuality, the kingdom of God is eternal and unconquerable.
But here is the most significant thing we must recognize:
Matthew 21:42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? 43 “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. 44 He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.”
Jesus is the stone that (1) the kingdom of God is built upon, and (2) crushes the kingdoms of this earth.
If we are to live with kingdom distinctiveness, we must daily remember that there is no salvation to be found in the world—no lasting identity, no lasting satisfaction, no wholeness.
These things are only found in Jesus.