Summary: Exposition of Daniel 4 about the example of how and how not to live in a world that hates God
Text: Daniel 4:1-37, Title: Living in a God Hostile World, Date/Place: NRBC, 5/17/09, PM
A. Opening illustration: talk a little about the hate crimes bill that will potentially make preaching against homosexuality a crime…
B. Background to passage: This is a strange way to begin a text, but it begins and ends with praise to God. It was probably written after the following account as an indication of what was discovered. Or some have suggested that it was actually the doxology to chapter three. Whatever the case, we have the same old Neb. having dreams and visions of an egomaniac. And we have Daniel, humble, godly, and wise to rescue the day, and you have God who is still desiring to communicate with N. And all of this occurring in a land that is obviously hostile to the exclusivity of the God of the bible!
C. Main thought: From our text we will see three truths about how and why to live well in a God-hostile world.
A. Who not to be (v. 4)
1. It is very evident in the first words out of his mouth that ol’ N is still ol’ N. He is very similar to most people in our world that are absolutely self-focused. God has been continually trying to get his attention, or at least demonstrating His power since the first chapter. And this is a continuing theme that Neb just can’t seem to grasp. His heart is continually wicked, scheming, rebellious and hard. By the way, this is the last time that God deals with him. Surely now, after these previous dreams, and consultations from the wise men of Babylon, Neb knew that he was the tree; surely he knew that getting cut down by angels wasn’t good. So why go and ask at all? Surely he already didn’t like what he knew! But the main point is illustrated in v. 29-31—God hates pride, and Neb thinks that he is God, and he continually robs glory from the only One who is worthy of it. And it is for this that God finally ends mercy and space to repent.
2. Jam1:23-24, 4:6, Ps 115:1, Acts 10:25, 14:15, Philip 2:13, Rom 9:22-23, Pro 16:18,
3. Illustration: tell about God providing us with a core group in Maine, and me nearly missing it, “When God therefore wishes to lead us to repentance, He is compelled to repeat His blows continually, either because we are not moved when He chastises us with His hand, or we seem roused for the time, and then we return again to our former behavior. He is therefore compelled to redouble His blows.” –Calvin, The biggest idol we have can be ourselves. George Bernard Shaw put it rather neatly when he described a person in one of his plays as "a self-made man who worships his own creator!" talk about having a prideful reaction to finding this verse in my head, double-checking, and rejoicing in my own abilities, "There is nothing quite so dead as a self-centered man a man who holds himself up as a self-made success, and measures himself by himself and is pleased with the result."
4. Isn’t it strange how we are so clueless in our walks with God? Sometimes God has to do and redo something several times so that we may see. And if we don’t learn, He will do it again. We have need of not only endurance, but insight. Pray when things seem to go continually wrong, “what is it that you want me to understand?” And train your mind to look for things that God is saying, leading, and doing rather than just enduring. The bottom line is that honestly, we don’t do much of what we know God is telling us to do in the scriptures. He calls for help to see if someone will help him reinterpret the obvious. We would all rather hear what we want to hear. Don’t try to discern intricacies of the text or doctrines if you refuse to do what you already know. God will not open your eyes to truth, if He knows that you have predisposition not to follow it. And God will not tolerate pride in your life! He will be ruthless about breaking your sense of self-sufficiency, and replacing it with a sense of God-dependency/sufficiency.
B. Who to be (v. 8)
1. Daniel is our example of how to live under such a king. He was viewed by outsiders as one who had the Spirit of God living and working in his life. He was not troubled by secrets, revelations, or circumstances—seen as fearless. He was faithful do deliver the message to the king without alterations. And all that was done or said was done or said with the utmost respect and submission to authority. And finally Daniel, dispensed some much needed advice to the king.