************ Sermon on Daniel 7:9a ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on February 26, 2006
"Jesus is Gonna Win"
Subtopic: Understanding Revelations
Title: Jesus is gonna win
There was no gymnasium on a certain seminary campus, so the seminarians played basketball in a nearby public school. The janitor, an old black man with white hair, would wait patiently until the seminarians had finished playing. Invariably he sat there reading his Bible.
One day one of the students went up to him and inquired, "What are you reading?"
The man did not simply reply, "The Bible." Instead he answered, "The Book of Revelation."
With a bit of surprise the student asked, "The Book of Revelation? Do you understand it?"
"Oh yes," the man answered. "I understand it."
"You understand the Book of Revelation! What does it mean?"
Very quietly that old janitor answered, "It means that Jesus is gonna win."
The last six chapters of Daniel are very similar to the Book of Revelation. They too are difficult to understand and have generated considerable disagreement. Biblical scholars, theologians, and preachers may disagree on how to interpret Daniel but there is no disagreement on the triumphant conclusion: "that Jesus is gonna win."
That's what we see in front of us this evening as we look again at Daniel's four monsters in a dream. They are terrifying monsters that do terrifying things. But over them is One Who is almighty, One Who someday will call them to account. Daniel's message: do not fear, because Jesus is gonna win.
I The Throne
A In his dream Daniel sees a great sea that is being stirred up by the four winds of heaven. Thus the sea is one large, foaming, swirling mass of water. It is a raging sea with huge, destructive waves rising and falling. Here, as in the book of Revelation, the turbulent sea is the sea of the nations, a sea that foams and swirls and is never still.
Daniel also sees four great beasts emerging from this raging sea, each one different from the one before (7:3). He sees a roaring lion (4), a hungry bear (5), a swift leopard (6), and a ferocious animal so horrible in appearance that Daniel doesn't know what to call it (7-8). In a later verse Daniel tells us that the four beasts are different world empires that make their appearance throughout history (vs 17).
It is not a nice picture that Daniel is being given of the nations. He isn't shown the nations as centers of culture and commerce. He isn't shown gleaming centers of government from which justice and mercy are dispensed. He isn't shown rulers and advisors righteously working for peace and harmony. Rather, he is shown world empires as beasts of prey! He sees them as agents of destruction and death!
When we look at the sea of the nations around us, we see the same thing: we see nations making war on each other, devouring each other, trying to gain an advantage over each other. Think of Iran's nuclear weapons' program. Think of North Korea – citizens are starving to death and freezing to death, yet they support a million man army. Think of Sunnis versus Shiites in Iraq – blowing up each other's mosques.
With the naked eye that's all that we ever see or hear or read: nations as beasts of prey, frenzied activity, destruction, ruin.
B The Bible tells us something not mentioned in the newspapers or shown on TV. The eye of faith trained by the Scriptures is able to see more than the pathetic sight of warring, devouring nations. In his vision, Daniel also catches sight of a throne:
(Dan 7:9) As I looked, "thrones were set in place ..."
Most impressive! Above the turbulent sea there is a throne. A throne unmoved and unshaken! A throne upon which God Himself is seated!
Earlier, Daniel was unable to name or properly describe the fourth beast because it was too horrible. He has similar difficulties with God. The difficulty is not that God's appearance is so horrible but that it is so indescribably glorious and impressive. The prophet cannot find words to describe God. So he confines himself to describing other details. He tells us the throne is flaming with fire and has wheels of fire. It is surrounded by thousands of angels. In His holiness and purity, God is wearing a robe "as white as snow." In His ageless, eternal existence His hair is "white like wool."
All in all, what Daniel sees above the turbulent sea of the nations is a throne of majesty and dignity, of righteousness and holiness, of authority and power.
What's the message here? Daniel reminds us of two things. First, that the Lord God rules. Second, that God will judge the earth righteously.
II A Throne that Rules All
A Daniel's first point is that the eye of faith should know and see and realize that God rules all. What happens on earth is not a chaos of coincidental events. All the threads of world history come together at the throne of God. The Lord God rules. And, He rules over all!
This is clear from various details of Daniel's vision. We are told that it is the "four winds of heaven churning up the great sea" of the nations (vs 2). Thus heaven is a factor in earthly affairs. Furthermore, we are told of the various beasts and kingdoms that they "had been stripped of their authority, but were allowed to live for a period of time" (vs 12). Therefore, they exist by the grace of God. Even more important, the length of their lives is in God's hands right down to the minute.
B To believe in this – that God is in control – requires something. It requires belief in a big God, an almighty God, an awesome God.
Topic: GodYou might want to ask yourself whether you have a big God or a little God? Are you a big-godder or a little-godder? How big is your God? How much is He in control? Does He have the whole world in His hands? Do you believe He is big enough so that Jesus is gonna win?
Subtopic: Power of
Robert Dick Wilson was a great professor at Princeton Theological Seminary. One of Dr. Wilson's students had been invited back to preach twelve years after his graduation.
Old Dr. Wilson came in and sat down near the front. At the close of the meeting the old professor came up to his former student, extended his hand, and said, "... I am glad that you are a big-godder. When my boys come back, I come to see if they are big-godders or little-godders, and then I know what their ministry is like."
His former student asked him to explain, and he replied: "Well, some men have a little god, and they are always in trouble with him. He can't do any miracles. He can't take care of the inspiration and transmission of the Scripture to us. He doesn't intervene on behalf of his people. They have a little god and I call them little-godders.
"Then there are those who have a great God. He speaks and it is done. He commands and it stands fast. He knows how to show Himself strong on behalf of them that fear him. You have a great God; and He will bless your ministry." He paused a moment and smiled, and said, "God bless you," and turned, and walked out.
Daniel teaches us this evening that our God is big. He is so big, so great, so almighty, that Isaiah says:
(Isa 40:15-23) Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust ... (17) Before him all the nations are as nothing; they are regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing. (18) To whom, then, will you compare God? ... (21) Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded? (22) He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers ... (23) He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.
The princes, rulers, and kings of the world – like that terrifying fourth beast – can and do speak boastfully. However, before our great and almighty God they are nothing, and without His permission their plans come to nothing. Consider the following:
The French philosopher Voltaire predicted that Christianity would be swept from existence within 100 years. Yet just 50 years after he died in 1779, the German Bible Society occupied Voltaire's house and was using his printing press to produce stacks of Bibles.
During World War II, Adolf Hitler erected a massive stone structure in Monte Carlo. It was to be a radio station from which to broadcast Nazi propaganda into North Africa. Today from that very building, Trans World Radio beams the gospel of Christ's redeeming love all across Europe and into Russia and Africa.
The message is clear, isn't it? The throne of heaven rules over the sea of the nations. God is in control. Jesus is gonna win.
C God's Word comes to Daniel to calm him and to calm us. The course of world history may appear to be a mess that can never be straightened out, but when we look beneath the surface with the eye of faith we see that God's eternal plan is being accomplished. We know that Jesus is gonna win. We can be at peace, for God is King and He is in control. All things are in His hands. He is holding the reins.
God is in control. But this does not mean that we can understand God's way of ruling the world. Nor, can we figure out just what He has in mind for us. Both in the great world around us and in our own lives there is much that remains unexplained and mysterious.
God is in control. But this does not mean there will be no fierce storms breaking over our heads and no wild beasts nipping at our heels. God is in control so no matter what happens we have this confidence:
(Rom 8:38-39) ... that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, (39) neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God is in control. Jesus is gonna win.
III A Throne that Judges All
A Daniel's second point is that the eye of faith should know and see and realize that the God on the throne will someday judge the kings and kingdoms of this world.
This too is clear from various details of Daniel's vision. We are told that "The court was seated, and the books were opened." And we are told that the "Ancient of Days" has entrusted the actual task of judging to the "Son of Man" (vs 13-14). In other words, Jesus is gonna win.
B "The books were opened." That's what Daniel sees after the Ancient of Days was seated on the throne. "The books were opened." That sounds so harmless, so innocent, so painless. Actually, it is quite terrifying – especially for the beasts. "The books were opened." All the cards will be laid face up on the table, and a completely just judgment will be made, a judgment that takes everything into account. The four beasts will be judged. Kings, too, will appear before the judgment seat – but without their crowns. Dictators, presidents, and prime ministers will have to give account for all that they have done.
C "The books were opened." Not only the kings and kingdoms of this world will be judged, but so will be you and me. The great things and the very smallest things will be examined. No part of our lives will be overlooked.
"The books were opened." Whether we realize it or not, every human being is a writer. Every day we make a new entry in the diary recording the events of our life. Each word and each thought is entered, without our even being aware of it: the good things we do as well as lies, sexual immorality, abuse of drugs and alcohol, greed, theft, swearing. I understand some of these sins have come to light at CVC the last couple of weeks. I don't know if our students think about this, but all of these sins – an my sins – have been recorded in the books. When the Ancient of Days sits in judgment, the books will all be opened and we will be judged for what is written in them.
D God is in control. Someday all will be judged. Jesus is gonna win. That will either comfort you and give you strength to keep going, or it will fill you with fear and trembling. It all depends on your response to King Jesus!
Some, like the four beasts, resist, fight, and rebel against the throne of heaven. When they stand before the judgment throne they will be condemned to everlasting hell fire.
Others will submit to God's throne because they dare not rebel. For them, the yoke is not easy, and the burden is not light. If they had their way, they would shake off God's hand immediately. When they stand before the judgment throne they too will be condemned.
And others, they submit to heaven's throne because that's what they want to do. For them the yoke is easy and the burden is light, and they are eager and willing to live for and serve God and His Christ. Great is their reward in heaven.
God is in control. Someday all will be judged. Jesus is gonna win. The eye of faith sees that and does not despair about the beasts, the raging sea, and the troubled nations and peoples of this world. That's the message Daniel wants to give us this evening.
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