Summary: How big is your God? Daniel 7 challenges our view of God by showing that he has acted in the past, acts in the present, and has promised to act in the future.
1. UNCERTAINTY IN HUMANITY
We live in an uncertain world. People look for security and guidance from our world leaders and governments yet it doesn’t happen. We place our hope in them that they will solve our problems little realising that we ourselves are the problem. The placing of faith by humanity in humanity is misplaced. As you look through the paper, many events across our globe illustrate that fact:
- Bill Clinton’s fallibility has been plastered across the front pages.
- In Canberra, the Constitutional Convention is getting nowhere fast. And we are paying for it to the tune of $40M.
- Tony Blair is having difficulty even organising a meeting about Ireland let alone negotiating any sort of settlement.
- In Nagano for the 18th Winter Olympics, the two biggest problems appear to be transport and security. The two biggest problems are people. Get used to it for 2000.
JUDAH - BUG PEOPLE WITH SMALL IDEAS
This attitude, this placing of hope in leaders and empires was little different for the Jews in Daniel’s day when they were exiled in Babylon. Many believed that God had deserted them. They had been forced to leave their land and their belongings. The Temple -- in many regards the symbol of their faith and the linchpin of their relationship with Yahweh -- had been looted and desecrated. They were dispossessed and disenchanted. Yet they began to live in the hope that with the overthrow of the Babylonian empire looming at the hands of the Persians, they would regain their freedom and life would go on as before. Daniel, however, was a little less optimistic. Nebuchadnezzar’s dream from chapter 2 indicated to Daniel that things would get a lot worse before they got any better.
The Jews were looking for freedom. What they got was release from exile under Darius -- but it did not bring salvation. For the Jew, the idea of salvation was bound up in the idea of national identity and land occupation. The Jews to some extent probably thought that God had literally lost the plot. Yet they were the remnant -- the last vestige of Judah in a foreign land ruled by a foreign king.
The exile forces a shift of thinking for the Jews from Nationalism and land occupation towards a spiritual kingdom and eternal salvation. The exilic period initiates a period of changed thinking and expanded perspective as God casts light on His eternal purposes through the visions, words and deeds of Daniel.
THE STORY SO FAR ...
So far in this series of sermons on the book of Daniel, we have, with little exception, been focusing on events in Babylon in the 6th century BC:
- We started with the exile from Judah into Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar.
- We’ve seen Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah renamed Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Mishach and Abednego and their refusal to be integrated into Babylonian culture and worship practices.
- We’ve seen Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams of statues and trees.
- We’ve heard Daniel interpret these dreams.
- Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were inflamed by Nebuchadnezzar’s wrath and God delivered them.