Summary: Exposition of Daniel 1:1-2 about the sovereignty of God’s dealing with the nation of Israel in bringing them into Babylon
Text: Daniel 1:1-2, Title: The Everlasting Sovereign God, Date/Place: NRBC, 2/22/09, PM
A. Opening illustration: lyrics from the Matt Papa song No One Else,
B. Background to passage: we begin tonight a series through the book of Daniel. Tonight we will take up the first two verses, and really get into the first incident next week. But as we go through, let me encourage you to come to Sunday night worship having looked at the passage that we are going to preach. Sometime during your week, in your devotional time, look at the next text. Ask yourself questions about it, come having your heart prepared by the text, so that you can go deeper.
C. Main thought: In the text and message tonight, we will see the background and main theme of Daniel
A. Spiritual Decline (v. 1)
1. Jehoiakim was a terrible king of Judah. This was 110 years or so after the fall of the northern kingdom to Assyria. God had warned the people to stay faithful to Him. And there was a glimmer of hope with the young king Josiah and his reforms ushered in with the finding of the book of the law. But Jehoiakim allowed things to denigrate to similar conditions under Manasseh. People were oppressed and taxed heavily to pay off officials and Pharaoh Neco. Then he was defeated at Carchemish in 605, which is where we find our text beginning. Idolatry was rampant and true religion was cold and formalistic. Jehoiakim cut up Jeremiah’s prophecy and threw it into the fire symbolizing the nations wandering from the will of God. As the leaders go so goes their followers, and in this case the nation of Israel.
2. Jer 36:23, 2 Tim 3:1-5, Heb 2:1,
3. Illustration: “Humanly speaking, this was a time when God’s glory was discounted, and His people were not a testimony to His great Name.” –Sinclair Ferguson, "Isaac’s Storm" is a very interesting book about the hurricane that wiped out Galveston in 1900. One of the main plot lines of the book is about how everyone was convinced that a hurricane could never strike Galveston, even as one approached. The author vividly describes how as the streets began to flood people went about their business as if nothing was wrong. Children played in the water, men gathered for breakfast at the local diner, and no one fled from the storm that was about to strike. Some didn’t worry because Isaac Cline, the national weather service officer in Galveston, assured them it would not be a severe storm. Other’s simply believed that Galveston was invincible. Some thought that since they had never seen a hurricane strike Galveston one never would. So for a number of reasons, people assured themselves nothing bad would happen. And as a result over 6,000 people died one September day in 1900. Today we can see storm clouds forming on the horizon. There is a moral and spiritual decline that continues to erode our national life. What happened to the great city of Ephesus? Often mentioned in the New Testament, it was one of the cultural and commercial centers of its day. Located at the mouth of the Cayster River, it was noted for its bustling harbors, its broad avenues, its gymnasiums, its baths, its huge amphitheater, and especially its magnificent Temple of Diana. What happened to bring about its gradual decline until its harbor was no longer crowded with ships and the city was no longer a flourishing metropolis? Was it smitten by plagues, destroyed by enemies, or demolished by earthquakes? No, silt was the reason for its downfall—silent and non-violent silt. Over the years, fine sedimentary particles slowly filled up the harbor, separating the city from the economic life of the sea traders. Little evil practices, little acts of disobedience may seem harmless. But let the silt of sin gradually accumulate, and we will find ourselves far from God. Life will be a spiritual ruin.
4. As I mentioned a week or so back, we are all subject to spiritual decline. And by this I don’t mean the general ups and downs of the Christian life, as if we could attain some steady state of perfect Christianity. I mean a pattern of general falling away or decline over the course of an extended time. We need benchmarks in our lives that let us know when we are in need of realignment. We need brothers and sisters in the Lord that can see evidence of spiritual unhealthiness and are willing to come to us and tell us that we are not as close to the Lord as we used to be. We must be open to their pleas. And we should be on the look out for these signs of decline in our own lives. Here are some: failure to attend church as you used to, lack of concern for unbelievers, failure to maintain a healthy devotional life, withdrawal from other strong Christian friends, ceasing to tithe/give faithfully, doing things that you had previously committed not to doing, beginning to compromise standards in business or friendships, etc. What do we do when we note it? You take aggressive steps to thwart and kill it, lest you become accustomed to the new ways and used to it and blind to it. Repent, ask forgiveness, and for the desire to return and desire for God afresh. Ask God to not let you grow comfortable with it. Get some accountability, memorize some scripture, and fight as though you life depended on it!