Luke 17:20-37 Jesus is the Son of Man: The Kingdom of God

Luke 17:20-37

Jesus is the Son of Man

The Kingdom of God

All right, lets go ahead and grab our Bibles and turn to Luke chapter 17. As always, if you do not have a Bible, or if you need a Bible, please come see me after the service so we can get one into your hands.

Jesus, as he has been teaching over the course of the last number of chapters, has been talking a lot about the future, about salvation, about making sure that our soul is right. He has been talking a lot about our eternal destination.

Now, this got people thinking, which was a part of Jesus intent. We can all here Jim saying, AMEN! And of course, everyone had their own preconceived notions regarding these things. They had their thoughts about how the things that Jesus was talking about would manifest, how it would all play out. They all had their own view on what it would look like.

The kingdom of God, or Kingdom of Heaven, used interchangeably throughout the scriptures, is one of the most mentioned subjects that Jesus talks about.  Many commentators and theologians will start with a basic definition of what the Kingdom of God is. Simply put, they say Gods Kingdom is Gods People, in God’s place, under God’s rule.

Let’s pick up from there reading this morning’s passage, Luke chapter 17, verses 20-37. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version, and I encourage you to read from your preferred translation. The key is to read for yourself what the Word of God says instead of depending on someone else to read it for you.

Luke, inspired by the Holy Spirit, writes chapter 17, 20-37:

Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, 21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”[h]

22 And he said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. 23 And they will say to you, ‘Look, there!’ or ‘Look, here!’ Do not go out or follow them. 24 For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day.[i] 25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. 26 Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27 They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, 29 but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all— 30 so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed. 31 On that day, let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away, and likewise let the one who is in the field not turn back. 32 Remember Lot’s wife. 33 Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it. 34 I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken and the other left. 35 There will be two women grinding together. One will be taken and the other left.”[j] 37 And they said to him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the corpse[k] is, there the vultures[l] will gather.”

 

 

May God Bless the Reading of His Holy Word.

 

 

When we look out at the world and we see tragic events happen, personally, locally, nationally, globally, we cry out. And so often, as Christians, our cry out when we see these things is “LORD, come quickly!”

Because we know that he is going to come back. We know that he is going to make all things right and all things new. We know what John saw and wrote down in Revelation 21:3 & 4:

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place[a] of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people,[b] and God himself will be with them as their God.[c] He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

 

We know that ultimately, the bad things will go away, and God will make this world perfect and sinless, without pain and death and tragedy. But until that time, we are called to live holy and fruitful lives here in Earth, as strangers and aliens, as Ambassadors, as those looking forward to what will be coming, without ignoring what we have and are called to right here and now.

And we all have our ideas on what the end will look like and even what it will look like as it gets closer. Many of us have very specific ideas of what will take place and whit it will look like. And the Pharisees did too.

They in particular had a very specific vision of what the Kingdom of God would look like, and more specifically what the promised Messiah would accomplish.

They knew all the prophecies and the promises of God about what the Messiah would do and who he would be. And they did what we all do as well. They looked at those prophecies and scriptures through the lens of their culture, their society and their times.

Because of the Roman occupation of Israel and before that, Greek military might, the Babylonians, the Persians, The Meads, the Assyrians and so forth, they were looking for the Messiah to be a mighty military leader who would lead the Jews out of oppression and occupation and overthrow the ones who were ruling over them and Make Israel Great Again.

The Kingdom in their mind would be an earthly Kingdom, with an earthly messiah sitting on an earthly throne, a literal return to David sitting on the throne of Israel, though with some disagreement on whether it would literally be David or not.

And so, Jesus was talking and teaching about this eternal Kingdom. Right from the very beginning of his ministry. The first words of his ministry that we have recorded in Mark 1:15, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand;[e] repent and believe in the gospel.”

          And this kingdom that Jesus was talking about didn’t sound like what they were envisioning. IT didn’t sound like what they were expecting. For once, it seems they weren’t trying to trick Jesus. Like us, they were confused, curious and oh so impatient.

Again, this is like we tend to do today as well. We look at the prophecies of the Bible, we look at the scriptures. We see the words of Jesus and we mostly subconsciously decide that the words must have been said with our specific locality or country in our specific time in mind. In our case, Jesus was speaking directly about The United States in the 20th and 21st Century. And so, we put Russia into prophecies that have nothing to do with them. WE read America into the Bible when there is no mention of it anywhere. We decide that, after 2000 years of people thinking the same thing of their own time, now is the time that Jesus is going to come back.

And I want to be clear. This is something, when we disagree that we can discuss and even challenge each other on. But this is in no way a subject to divide over. These are not viewpoints to get angry about. Most of us, despite us having different views of the end times, can all point to scripture to back up what we think and what we expect.

 

Now, Jesus is going to show, coming up in a moment that there are some things to disagree and stand firm on. There are things to separate over. But our interpretation of when the end will come and what it will look like is not one of them.

So, the Pharisees are curious, confused and impatient and so they ask Jesus, “Ok, so this kingdom of God you are talking about, when is it going to arrive? We don’t see it…”

They are looking for miraculous and spectacular signs. They are looking for the things that will point the way of the kingdoms coming so that they can be sure that they don’t miss it. They want to observe it. They want to be a part of it.

 

Jesus says, nope.

Jesus says you are not able to observe the Kingdom coming and he shows a couple of reasons. For one, they won’t see it coming because its already here. Jesus coming the first time brought the kingdom of God with him and it was now there on earth. Second, he says, that he is standing right in front of them, and they don’t recognize him. He is the manifestation of the Kingdom. That doesn’t mean that the kingdom in not a real, literal, physical place as well. But Jesus presence is what shows us the kingdom. The pharisees especially were looking, desperately seeking this kingdom, and it was right in front of them the entire time.

With Jesus and his arrival, the Kingdom has arrived on Earth. It has started its infiltration. At the birth of Jesus, at the incarnation of God, God became man, the Word became Flesh, and the manifestation of the Kingdom began.

Jesus says that the kingdom of Heaven is at hand. It is in your midst. It is within you. It is among you. All those depending on your translation. And it is here among us in the person of Jesus Christ. Many will say that this text is saying that the Kingdom is here in our hearts, that Jesus lives in our hearts so that the Kingdom comes from within us. But at best, that’s just a partial answer. Jesus is not just alive in our hearts. If that’s all then as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15, we have no hope and we are to be pitied.  But Jesus is physically alive as well. And so, the Kingdom is real, and it is here. And it is among us, within us, in the midst of us in two ways. Jesus right here with us, Gad made man. Second, the Kingdom is shown and is made evident by the change in peoples lives who become citizens of the Kingdom.

Paul writes in Romans 14:17, For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Its not an accident that Paul is referring to the fruit of the Spirit that he writes in Galatians 5. When it comes to the Kingdom of God, you are actively living in it, or you are not.

The church is supposed to be a representation of the Kingdom. We as Christians are ambassadors for the Kingdom. And we have a different kingdom than most. The Kingdom of God is both already and not yet.

It is already in how we just looked at it. Its already started its infiltration. It is manifest in the person of Jesus Christ. IT is here and is shown by how we live and the change in our lives. Jesus already taught, back in Luke 13: 18-21 that the Kingdom is like yeast spread through dough, eventually causing the whole loaf to rise. And so, the Kingdom is here, and spreads throughout the whole predestined, elect people of God, through the whole of world history until one day, the whole, full kingdom of Heaven rises, or comes down as it were.

 

And after Jesus answered the Pharisees, he turned to the disciples. He tells them that there will be a day that they long for the day that Jesus has already come back and that He is with them again. He tells them, your desire to see me and your inability to see me will leave you susceptible to people who will claim that Jesus has already returned.

One study note I read, says that it is good and natural that Christians long for the coming of Christ and for the peace and justice that the Second Coming will bring.

The problem, Jesus says here, is that there are many who will try to take advantage of that desire. Here he is! There He is! People claiming to now, claiming to have seen, claiming to be in some cases, the returning Jesus Christ.

One commentator rightly notes that rumors and speculation will only lead us away from the truth. Jesus affirms this as he tells us, when we see these people, Mark and Avoid them! Do not follow them! They don’t know what they are talking about, and they are being destructively deceptive, whether they realize it or not. They are false teachers and false prophets, and we are to remove ourselves from their influence.

Jesus shows in verse 24 that there will be no secret or subtle return. He says, when I come back, EVERYONE will know. His return will be as bright and unmistakable and as sudden as lightning. All will see. Jesus, when he returns, will come back inaugurating, consummating and fully and finally initiating his Kingdom. It will be dramatic and visible to all, and you won’t have to wonder or worry that you have missed it.

 

 

However, …

Before that happens… after verse 24, we see verse 25.

Before we worry about Jesus coming back, he is going to have to leave. First, he must suffer and be rejected. As one commentary notes: “The consummation of the kingdom requires the obligation that Jesus must first die according to Gods plan to redeem a people for himself.”

          In order to manifest his kingdom, he must first have a people for his Kingdom. The unfortunate part is that people will be rejecting him right up until the point of his return. No matter what the warning signs, no matter what the sins of the day. People will reject salvation through Christ until they have no more opportunity. Just like the days of Noah and Lot.

Now, it would be easy to read this and start talking all about how sinful and depraved the society and culture was in the says of Noah or in Sodom and Gomorrah during Lots time. And that would not be factually incorrect, but it would instead have nothing to do with what Jesus is saying here in this text. Jesus does not mention the righteousness of Noah or Lot, nor does he mention the sinfulness of the people or the culture.

What he points out is that in the Days of Noah and in the Days of Lot, while there was great sin occurring, people were going about their normal everyday business. They weren’t worrying about the coming judgment. They had many warnings, many signs, but despite that, the day that judgment came caught everyone by surprise, including Lot and Noah. Believers will be caught by surprise as well at the coming of the LORD.

Just as the Days of Noah and the days of Lot, we are heavily warned, just as they were. Then out of nowhere, the rains came, and the flood came, and it destroyed them all except those who accepted the LORDS salvation on the Ark. Then, out of nowhere, the rain of sulfur and fire and brimstone came and destroyed all of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah except the few who listened to the angels and left and didn’t look back. Then out of nowhere, the Son of Man will return, sudden and unexpected as a thief in the night, but sudden and visible as a streak of lightening.  And all who are not saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ will be brought to judgment and eternal torment.

Just as it was in the days of Noah. Just as it was in the days of Lot. So, it will be when Jesus comes back. There is, was and will be plenty of warning, but it will still come completely out of nowhere. Today, people know that it is coming, and they ither ignore it and suppress it or they know it’s come and don’t care enough to do anything but live and go about their normal, everyday life.

When Jesus comes, judgment will come. Many will be judged and found guilty. But the righteous, (only through Christ, His righteousness) will be redeemed and restored. All will be burned away and reborn.

We will have a New Heaven, New Earth, New Bodies. Their will be one glorious people. All who trust in Christ and only those who trust in Christ. The church. True Israel. The adopted children of God. Co heirs with Christ. One Glorious People of God. One Glorious Kingdom of God. New Jerusalem. And One Glorious King, God Almighty, maker of Heaven and Earth.  Forever and ever.

 

 

And on that day, that glorious day. That singular, public, every eye will see day that the LORD comes back, when he separates the sheep from the goats. When we stand before him in judgment. When we enter, either eternal judgment and wrath, or eternal glory and worship. On that day…

On that day, some will enter his kingdom, and some will not. The Day of the Lord will not create division. Division in where we are going to go already exists. But the day of the LORD will expose that division. It will bring it to light. Many who expect to be with the LORD will not be. Many whom we expect not to be with the LORD will be.

Just as suffering does not create character but reveals character. Just as children do not create patience with in us, but reveals patience or lack thereof, The Day of the LORD will reveal who the true people of God are.

Even if they think they will be together in eternity, husband and wife wont necessarily both be with the LORD.  Brother and Sister. Parent and Child. Best Friends. None will be both brought to be with the LORD because of their relationship and expectations.

Jesus tells his disciples that they need to remember Lots wife. JC Ryle has a great book on holiness that I’m reading, and he has an entire chapter on Lots wife and why Jesus tells his followers to remember her. What seems to be his biggest point is that her proximity to Lot and his God, her likely proximity to Abraham and his household faithfully and unashamedly worshipping God, her going along for the ride right next to Lot, none of it meant anything because she never had her heart changed by the Holy Spirit. She never committed herself to the LORD. She never let go of her sins and her old beliefs and way of life. She never trusted in Christ for her salvation. And so, her being married to Lot, was not enough to save her. She, undoubtedly, expected to be right there with him in the eternal kingdom, but she was trusting in the wrong things, not letting go and she turned back desiring her old things.

 

Of course, this makes the disciples nervous, and they ask, “Where, LORD?” Where will all this take place? Where should we be looking?

 

Jesus answers, “where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” A few translations have Eagles instead. The point is true regardless. Just as dead bodies invite birds of prey and scavengers, so also will the spiritually dead invite judgment.

 

There are a lot of things we can read into this text, and we can pull out. A lot of details about the second coming and the return of Jesus that we can use these texts to affirm, may correctly, probably not though.

Heres what we all need to remember, regardless of our similarities or differences in the details.

 

Jesus had to come the first time and did. Son of God. God himself. He lived a perfect life and fulfilled the law in the way that we couldn’t. He died for us. He resurrected, rose from the dead. He ascended into heaven, and he will come again.

This must happen in order to redeem his people.

He will return to judge the living and the dead. The redeemed and the condemned.

And he will come back once and for all. Though no one knows when except the father. He will come as a thief in the night, not in secret, but in suddenness and unexpectedness.

He will come back like a flash of lightning. Visible to all. Light chasing darkness. Sudden, unexpected, flashing across the sky.

And that return ill bring with him the full, complete, inaugurated, consummated, eternal, glorious, perfect Kingdom of God. Which brings with it peace, justice, glory, eternal life, worship. The eternal wedding banquet between our King and his bride, the church, made up of all believers of all times. People from all tribes and tongues, but one united, combined one people of God. His redeemed people. His bride.

 

We are to be absorbed with being ready for the return of Christ. The act of Jesus coming back WILL happen. But don’t get absorbed by the timing.

Life on this earth will end. TO dust we shall return. But the end is already written. One theologian reminds us, “We can enter the Kingdom now and live in it forever more by saying yes to the King.”

Focus on what Christ tells us to focus on. Remember what he tells us to remember. Don’t focus on what he doesn’t tell us to focus on.

Christ has died.

Christ has risen.

Christ will come again.

 

Let’s Pray.

2 Corinthians 5:16-21 Ambassadors for Christ

2 Corinthians 5:16-21

Ambassadors for Christ

 

 

 

          Good Morning everybody! If you would, please grab your Bibles and turn with me to 2 Corinthians chapter 5. We are just going to take a few minutes today to look at some scripture. This is intended to be more of a short devotion or maybe a sermonette, than a full sermon.

What I want to do is show you one of things that I’ve seen over the past 2 plus months. I have seen a lot of Christians fighting and tearing each other apart over what’s right, over what’s wrong, and over how they think we should respond and react to the wrongs going on in the world around us.

And my point is not going to be that one way is clearly right or that one way is clearly wrong. I’m not here to say that one method or one decision or one reaction is clearly right or clearly wrong. I think there is a lot of leeway for Christian Liberty here.

But with the passage I’m going to share this morning, what we will see is that in all times, in all circumstances, in all situations, that we are to model Christlikeness to all people.

Its easy to forget that, as Christians, we are held to a higher standard than this world adheres to. Actually, kind of the point is that we are all held to the standard, but we acknowledge the eternal truth and reality of that standards, whereas no Christians do not recognize the authority of God to set that standard.

We are not held to the standard of the world. We are not held to the standard of society and culture. We are not held to the standard of America and the Constitution even. We are held to higher standards than that. We are held to harder standards. WE are called to die to our selves daily. We are called to bear our cross.

We are called not to respond to people and groups in the same way that they talk to us, how they act to us, or how they treat us. We are called to the standard of Christs righteousness.

This is a foreign concept to much of the world. This is a concept born of the flesh. The prevailing instinct is to treat others how they treat you, or worse, and often, before they get a chance to.

 

 

Every single life, every single human being is born in the image and likeness of Christ. This goes for Americans and non-Americans. This goes for Democrats and Republicans. This goes for Christians, Muslims, and Atheists. This goes for liberals and conservatives. This goes for black, white, brown, red, yellow, purple, green, polka dot and chartreuse.

Every single human life on earth is created in Gods image and likeness. This is the entire basis and the entire and full foundation of our pro-life position. If we do not believe this, we have no right to say anything is regards to the whole sale slaughter of millions of unborn babies.

Now, born in the image and likeness does not equal a child of God. It does not mean that all are saved. That is reserved for those who have repented of their sins and trust in Jesus Christ.

But we are not called to only be nice and to only treat well other Christians. We are called to treat every single human being in this world with the same dignity and respect that we want others to treat us with and the Bible does not give us any exceptions. We are to remember that our battle, our war is not with flesh and blood, but in the spiritual realm, against powers and principalities.

That brings us to our text this morning. 2 Corinthians chapter 5, verses 16-21. In this passage, Paul writes:

 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.[b] The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling[c] the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

 

May God Bless the Reading of his Holy Word.

 

 

So, we start with Paul showing us that our duty is t treat others around us with Christs Spiritual standards, as opposed to the worlds physical, fleshly standards. We used to live, believe in and act according to those standards. We are born into those actions and beliefs.

But God… Remember, what I considered one of the greatest truths of the Bible. But God, through his grace alone, delivered through our faith alone in his Son Jesus Christ alone changes us. It brings us out from death to life. It changes us from the inside out. It changes our heart. It changes our identity and it changes our nature.

We are then New Creations. We are now reconciled to God, through Jesus Christ. Once we are reconciled to him, we are new creations, the old identity is gone, though habits, temptations and actions will remain.

Charles Spurgeon, in one of his devotions says: In every believer’s heart there is a constant struggle between the old nature and the new. The old nature is very active and loses no opportunity of employing all the weapons in its deadly arsenal against newborn grace: while on the other hand, the new nature is always on the lookout to resist and destroy its enemy.

 

          When we are new creations in Christ, the change in us should be clear and noticeable. And when that happens, we have one single job to do. We are to be Ambassadors for Christ, Ambassadors on the behalf of the Kingdom of God.

We speak and share the official position and official view of the kingdom of Heaven. Now what we want the official view to be. Not what we think it might be or should be. But we are a conduit. We are to funnel the Word of God to the people who need to hear it.

We present and announce what our King has already decreed. We do not make laws. We do not determine official positions. We share Christ and he crucified. We Preach the Word and We Love the People. We fulfill the Great commission, making disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all the Christ has commanded.

Jesus Christ is our King. He is reigning today, here and now. He is not waiting to reign. He reigns now and forever. There is no waiting for tomorrow. Christ is King. And he will be our savior if, by Gods grace we put our faith in his son.

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man[a] Christ Jesus,

Jesus says, repent and believe in the gospel.”

So, faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

These are the Words of Christ, written down in the Bible you hold in your hand, that is accessible to so many, so many more than ever in history. He is our King; He is our savior. We literally owe our eternal life to him. He does this free and clear, nothing we can do to earn it or to influence it or to cause it or to bring it to bear.

Jesus does, however, tell us, after we are saved, we have certain responsibilities. Top of that list and I think summing up all the others is that we are to be Ambassadors of Christ and all that this means. I encourage you to reflect on this. To think about what it means to be an Ambassador.

How are we supposed to act? IS it how we have always been taught? Or is it more complex and nuanced. How influenced are we by our family, our society, our culture, our nation, our history, our morality, our nation? Or are we influenced by the Bible, the written and inerrant and inspired and sufficient word of our King, of God himself, creator of Heaven and Earth, creator of the universe and the ultimate authority of all that is?

 

 

Now, Speaking of Jesus as our King, He was more than that as well. He condescended from Heaven, still God, was born a man, a human baby and lived the perfect, sinless life that we needed to and were unable to live. HE paid the penalty, paid the wages for our sins so that we could be reconciled to God. He paid that penalty with his life. In an act of pure, perfect love, Romans 5:8 says:  but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

This act of pure love goes beyond natural human understanding. Hymnwriter Charles Wesley wrote, Amazing love! how can it be, That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

Before he performed this act, Jesus told us to remember this and to celebrate it as often as we get together. We do this in a monthly basis and no matter when our first week back was going to be, we were going to celebrate communion as a church family.

We remember and we follow the commands of Jesus that he gave his disciples during the Last Supper.

Matthew records this in Matthew 26, verses 26-29, where he writes: Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the[c] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

We do this in remembrance of Him. Paul speaks about communion in 1 Corinthians 11 and before we get into it, I have one thing to share that Paul tells us, first, communion is for believers. It is in remembrance for what he has done for us. It is us obey his commands by our faith in him. Communion itself does not save. It does not forgive sins; it does not impart righteousness or cleanse your soul. If you are not a follower of Christ, we just ask that you pass the elements along and then, if you have any questions or want to take that step, you can talk to myself or one of the deacons after the service.

 

Now, we are going to do things a little bit different this morning, due to taking some precautions. We have individual cups that contains both the wafers, which symbolize Jesus’ broken body on the cross. His Death that pays the penalty for our sins. It also contains the juice, symbolizing the shed blood of Christ, which purchases our eternal life in Christ, through faith.

First, we will take the wafer together. Afterwards, we will take the juice together and we will be united together under the cross and blood of Jesus Christ. I will pray and we will come to the LORDs table.

 

Daniel 2:24-49 God of All Nations Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream

Daniel 2:24-49

God of All Nations

Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream

 

Good Morning Bangor!   Please grab your Bibles with me and turn on them to Daniel chapter 2. As you are turning there, let me say that it does seem like we are moving closer and closer to being able to meet together physically and in person once again. I do not yet have an idea, or a guess as to when exactly that will be, but I do know that the first week we are back together will be a celebration. We will have communion, we will sing together and we will have a potluck following the service. Please plan and pray accordingly.

So, last week, as we  looked at the first half of Daniel Chapter 2, Hope pointed out that we kind of left off on a cliffhanger. So, in that vein, we will start with, Previously…In Daniel…
Last week we saw that King Nebby had a dream that disturbed him greatly. He brought together all his wise men and his sorcerers and magicians and what not, got them all together and told them to both tell him his dream and then to tell him the interpretation of said dream. If they could do that, great rewards were awaiting them. If they could not, well, death is the nicest and the least painful for them, way to put it.

OF course, they couldn’t do this. As they said, no man on earth could do what the King was asking. Only the gods could do that and the gods don’t dwell with man. So, the order was sent out to kill all the wise men in the kingdom and this included Daniel and his three friends, Hananiah, Azariah and Mishael. Daniel asked for some time to receive the interpretation from God. His request was granted and he and his three friends prayed to God. God answered their prayers, Daniel received the information he was seeking and he and his friends gave thanks to God.

That’s where we left off. We spent all that time leading up to it and we never even shared what the dream was! Thus the cliffhanger. So now, this week, we will look at the second half of chapter 2. And this will include an important discussion between Daniel and King Nebby, this will include his dream and what it meant. We will look at the big picture, what God was trying to tell Nebuchadnezzar specifically and the Babylonian kingdom and what that means for today, as opposed to getting bogged down in every minute possible detail or possible interpretation of every single aspect of his dream.

Details are important and every word of the Bible, every word of these dreams and prophecies are important and inspired By God, making them the very Word of God. However, we sometimes get so distracted by the cloudy, the unclear, the unanswered, that we loose view of what God is clearly telling us and wanting us to see.

So, with that in mind, lets goa head and read the first section of our scripture this morning. Over all, we will be reading Daniel chapter 2, verses 24-49. But we are going to break that into a few sections at a time. So, first, We will read verses 24-30. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version and I do encourage you to read along and follow along in your preferred translation at home. Lets go ahead and read, Daniel 2:24-30. Daniel records:

 

Therefore Daniel went in to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to destroy the wise men of Babylon. He went and said thus to him: “Do not destroy the wise men of Babylon; bring me in before the king, and I will show the king the interpretation.”

25 Then Arioch brought in Daniel before the king in haste and said thus to him: “I have found among the exiles from Judah a man who will make known to the king the interpretation.” 26 The king declared to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, “Are you able to make known to me the dream that I have seen and its interpretation?” 27 Daniel answered the king and said, “No wise men, enchanters, magicians, or astrologers can show to the king the mystery that the king has asked, 28 but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and he has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days. Your dream and the visions of your head as you lay in bed are these: 29 To you, O king, as you lay in bed came thoughts of what would be after this, and he who reveals mysteries made known to you what is to be. 30 But as for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because of any wisdom that I have more than all the living, but in order that the interpretation may be made known to the king, and that you may know the thoughts of your mind.

 

May God bless the Reading of his Word.

 

 

So, after Daniel had his vision or dream from God, which gave him the dream and the interpretation of the Kings dream, he went to Arioch, remember, he is likely the executioner, Daniel went to him and said, “Good News, you don’t have to kill us all! I can interpret his dream!”

Interesting, isn’t it? That Daniels response is not, “Don’t kill me,” but instead, “Don’t kill all these wise men!” Daniels life is one mark with humility. His life is one where he is looking at god first and foremost, but then he is look at others even before himself. We see that humility not only later on in this story, but again in the next two verses.

The next thing we see is Arioch having the exact opposite attitude. “King, I found someone who can tell your dream!” Completely contrasting the humility of Daniel, Arioch was trying to take credit for something that wasn’t his. Daniel was the one who approached him, both beforehand, and after God revealed the truth to him. But, Daniel was not worried about who was getting the credit.

Let me just saw, I have been in Daniels position here. I’m sure many of us have. You did something good, but someone else is trying to get either some or all of the credit. Trust me when I tell you, its almost never worth the time or the energy to fight and make this right. IN the grand scheme of things, does it matter. Yes, the Truth matters. But does it matter if its you that gets the credit? God knows and as Jesus tells us in Matthews Gospel, their reward is here and now and our reward is in heaven, which will never perish or go away.

So King Nebby asks Daniel, “can you really interpret you my dream?” The expected and mostly true response would be Yes. But that’s not what Daniel said. He surprised the King by saying, “NO, I cant. Not only cant I do it, but your wisemen were right, no person on earth can do it.”

That must have stopped the King short. What is this guy doing in front of me? Why am I wasting my time? Also, can you imagine Arioch’s face at this point? “He lied to me! I stuck my neck out and took credit for finding him!” He must have been scared for his life right then.

But out of the dark comes the light. The motto of the reformation in the 1500s was Post Tenebras Lux, meaning, Out of Darkness, Light. We have to know the bad and see the dark in order for the us to be able to know the Good and see the light.

Daniels says, No man on earth can do what you are asking, BUT…

One of the greatest phrases in the Bible is But God. We see it often, things are bad, they are at their worse, we are dead in our sins, But God. Ephesians 2:4-5 are one of my favorite examples. Paul tells us we are dead in our sins, unable to do anything that might save ourselves. And he writes:

But[c] God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—

 

We have no hope, no anything, no salvation, no wisdom, no nothing, But God.

Daniel says that no man on earth can do what the king wants, But there is a God in heaven who can and did. There is a God who dwells with us. Jesus is prophesied to be Immanuel, God with us.  That’s who he was and what he did. He came down from heaven and was born a man here on Earth. God became man to save sinners.

The wise men were right back in verse 11, when they said, The thing that the king asks is difficult, and no one can show it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.” But God did show it to Daniel. He showed the dream and the interpretation both. And he tells the King, he did so and he gave Ol’ Nebby this dream to tell him what coming.

One commentator says, “That there is a God in Heaven, as against man-made gods and defiled men, is the supreme theme of the book, even as it is the cardinal principle of the Bible.”

Daniel here is very politely telling the King that all of those other religions, all the other so called gods are, quite literally, worthless. And he tells the King that God told me your dream, not because of anything about me. Just like he saves each of us, not because of anything about us, but for his glory and his purposes. Here, that purpose is so that Nebuchadnezzar would know what his dream meant and he gave him the dream so that he would know what would be to come.

So, now to satisfy the first part of the cliffhanger, Daniel tells the King what his dream was. Daniel 2:31-35:

“You saw, O king, and behold, a great image. This image, mighty and of exceeding brightness, stood before you, and its appearance was frightening. 32 The head of this image was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its middle and thighs of bronze, 33 its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. 34 As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. 35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.

This dream is incredible. Stephan Miller calls this dream “one of the most amazing prophecies in the Bible.”

 

 

Imagine in your head, if you can, a statue, great and tall. Many presume that is must have been 60 cubits tall, which I think is 90 feet, based on the statue that Ol Nebby builds of himself in the next chapter.  So, a statue 90 feet tall, that’s 9 stories tall. The head was gold. The arms and the chest was silver. The midsection and the thighs were bronze. The legs were iron. And the feet were a mixture of iron and clay.

This is obviously symbolizing something, but Daniel doesn’t get into that just yet, he simply tells the King what his dream was. He continues, a stone cut out of a mountain, but cut by no man, was hurled and hits the weakest point of the statue, the feet, made by the iron/clay mixture/

It hits that spot and the statue crumbles and disintegrates. The dust blows away and it cannot be found. The stone would grow and grow until it became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.

That’s the dream. Just in and of itself, sounds like a dream. Dreams are known for their interesting symbolism and imagery. And just like most dreams, the actual, full meaning of it is not readily apparent on the surface. Let us not forget that even if Daniel stopped talking here, he would have amazed Nebuchadnezzar and done the impossible. The King didn’t tell any one his dream. That was the test to make sure that ones interpretation was correct, that they could also tell him the dream itself. So Daniel would have already amazed Ol Nebby and we are only getting started.

Daniel will now share the interpretation that God gave him as we read Daniel 2: 36-45:

 

“This was the dream. Now we will tell the king its interpretation. 37 You, O king, the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, and the might, and the glory, 38 and into whose hand he has given, wherever they dwell, the children of man, the beasts of the field, and the birds of the heavens, making you rule over them all—you are the head of gold. 39 Another kingdom inferior to you shall arise after you, and yet a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth. 40 And there shall be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron, because iron breaks to pieces and shatters all things. And like iron that crushes, it shall break and crush all these. 41 And as you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, it shall be a divided kingdom, but some of the firmness of iron shall be in it, just as you saw iron mixed with the soft clay. 42 And as the toes of the feet were partly iron and partly clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly brittle. 43 As you saw the iron mixed with soft clay, so they will mix with one another in marriage,[c] but they will not hold together, just as iron does not mix with clay. 44 And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever, 45 just as you saw that a stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold. A great God has made known to the king what shall be after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation sure.”

 

 

That’s quite something, isn’t it? All right, brief rundown. The statue stands for 4 kingdoms, the first of which is the golden head, which is Babylon. There is much speculation, much time spent on figuring out who the other three are and we will touch on that in a moment.

Starting with the head made of Gold, down through to the feet made with a mixture of iron and clay, the kingdoms deteriorate, or are progressively inferior. Each Kingdom shall rise to power and each kingdom shall fall. But there is a kingdom which will rise that will never fall. That Kingdom will crush every other kingdom and will the only and the last kingdom left standing, forever and ever.

Daniel tells Nebuchadnezzar that his kingdom is powerful, mighty and full of prestige. Among earthly kingdoms and by earthly standards, It is the pinnacle and it is the Gold Standard, pardon the pun. And yet, When Gods Kingdom is established, not even the strongest of earthly Kingdoms will be able to stand.

The most common view, and the one that I think sounds the closest to right is that these four kingdoms are, in order, The Babylonian Empire, the Medo-Persian empire, the Greek empire and then the Roman empire. But the text does not give us the answer to this line of questioning. Again, like many things we look at, and especially many things we think we know and we take for granted, its all speculation.

Iain DuGuid cautions us:

It doesn’t take long before we find our heads spinning with the variety of interpretations offered, all of which go far beyond the interpretation and application that Daniel himself gives here. It is important to notice however, that the passage itself gives us virtually no data about the specifics of any of these three kingdoms because it intends to give a philosophy of history rather than a precise analysis of history ahead of its time. As John Goldingay puts it, “In the drama of the story the description has to be allowed to remain allusive. People miss the point when they spend time arguing who the empires were. The focus of the dream itself and its interpretation are more concerned with what the future holds than when it will come to pass.

 

          And I think that DuGuid makes a great point there. When Jesus gives his Olivet discourse, where he addresses the disciples with what to look for in the future, he is more concerned that they focus on the fact that He will be coming back rather than when He will be coming back.

In Daniels time, Jesus hadn’t even yet come the first time. And as Miller points out, the Old Testament prophecies that point towards Christ do not distinguish between his first and his second coming.

 

This dream is pointing towards the coming of the Kingdom of God. Its not actually worried about the earthly kingdoms. We are not going to spend time arguing about who they are or what they mean, but instead we are going to look at the coming of the kingdom of God.

See, the one thing that we see with the kingdoms of this earth is that they get progressively inferior to the ones before it. We know that many have been more powerful or more expansive than the ones before it. But one pattern we have seen over and over again in history, specifically in the BC era, and Ill explain why that is in a minute, is that the various kingdoms of the earth have gotten more and more morally inferior.

From Genesis 3 with  the fall in the Garden, to Genesis 6 with Noah and the complete degeneracy of man, then God starting over and almost immediately back to Genesis 11 with the tower of Babel.  We see this pattern over and over in the Old Testament. And we see it with Babylon and then on through Meda-Persia which conquered Babylon, and then the Greeks which conquered Meda-Persia and the Rome which conquered everybody. And we all know about the moral degradation within Rome.

But the Kingdom of God changed all that. And the Kingdom of God will change that. Its interesting. See, a little over 2000 years ago, the Kingdom of God was inaugurated with the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. Came down from heaven, as we said, born not by man, and was thrown at the base of the statue of this world. He came down and utterly destroyed the kingdoms of this world, defeating death and sin utterly and completely. He has and will destroy every kingdom in this world. Gods Kingdom will stand forever and Christ is sitting right now on his throne in heaven, reigning over all of creation.

Jesus first coming demolished the kingdom of the worlds in sort of a behind the scene way. When Jesus walked this earth, he said, The Kingdom of God is at hand. Its not a future Kingdom, its here and now.  Now the battle is over.

But we look around in this world and we don’t see it yet. We see the world continuing to descend more and more into the moral degradation we see in the Old testament pattern. And that can make us misunderstand. That can makes us think only in the future tense when thinking about the coming kingdom of God. And then we get into all sorts of trouble, adding years to prophecies, especially in Daniel where the text doesn’t justify it. We start getting to focused in trying to identify the specific who’s and when’s and the details that God never told us the answers to.

There is a term, especially when referring the kingdom of God, and it’s the already and the not yet. The Kingdom of God is here and now. Its is already. Jesus Christ first coming brought it into this world. The Kingdoms of this earth have no eternal power or authority.

But, right now, they continue to have earthly power and authority. We are to be in submission to those authorities above us. And we are right now, struggling to find out what that really looks like today in a way that we haven’t had to yet, at least here in the United States. They will continue to try to grab more and more power. They will try to exert more and more authority. Moral Fabric of society will continue to deteriorate.

And then, at some undetermined point in the future, that the Bible tells us we cannot know, that not even the angels in heaven now, Jesus will, in language convenient to the analogy if not 100 percent accurate, be hurled out of the sky and will hit the base of the kingdoms of this world, destroying and disintegrating the powers and principalities that we are struggling against. All sin and evil and all kingdoms outside of the kingdom of God will cease to exist and we will move from the not yet, to the already.

 

 

Daniel tells the King, God is trying to get your attention. As powerful and as wonderful as you are, as much power as you wield, your greatness pales in comparison to what God wields in his pinky fingernail.  Babylon cant save you. Your power, greatness and authority cant save you. Only God can save you. Repent and turn to him. Bow to him and worship him as King.

 

The King had said back in verse 6 that whoever could tell him his dream and the interpretation would be showered in gifts and praise and given great honor. And that’s what Ol Nebby now showered on Daniel. Again, those parallels to Joseph in Genesis that you are supposed to be reading about, Daniel was now given a very high ranking government position, essentially the governor f the most important and powerful state within the Babylonian kingdom. Daniel did decline this to serve as the Kings right hand man, but was able to secure that position for his three friends, Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego, now referred to with their Babylonian names.

The last thing I want to point out this morning is the Kings response to the dream, Nebuchadnezzar declared that Daniels God was the God of Gods and the LORD of kings. He affirmed the power and greatness of God. But, what he did not do was to affirm the exclusivity of God. He was not the only God. This is not showing that he converted to Christianity. HE simply sees God as the strongest of all the gods around. He recognizes that God is sovereign over the nations, but it does not go further than that.

Don’t acknowledge God as powerful and important but fail to recognize the exclusivity of God. As we continue to point out, Jesus does not say in Johns Gospel that he is a way, a truth and a life. But he is instead, THE way, The truth and THE life. Don’t settle for almost Christian or partially Christianity, which does not actually exist. There is not shade of salvation. There is eternal life in Christ or eternal torment without. Recognize that God is sovereign and in control of everything, that he raises up and tears down Kings. That he is reigning as king now. His kingdom is already inaugurated, and we are just waiting for the final culmination.

Bow to Him, worship him and only him. Repent and trust in him. Trust and obey. For there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Lets Pray.

%d bloggers like this: