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Sermon 7/2/06
Daniel 2:28-29 – Secrets

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Secrets

There is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days. Your dream, and the visions of your head upon your bed, were these: As for you, O king, thoughts came to your mind while on your bed, about what would come to pass after this; and He who reveals secrets has made known to you what will be” (Daniel 2:28-29)

Today’s Scripture reveals very interesting truths about who God is and what He does. For one thing, the indication of this Scripture is that dreams at least sometimes have meaning, if God so wills it for your life or mine. God gave a dream to the mighty king Nebuchadnezzar, of Babylonia, and the dream revealed something only God knows – the future. And the second item is even more interesting – God can and will reveal your heart, your thoughts, and even your dreams to someone else! Nebuchadnezzar FORGOT his dream, just like you and I tend do when we awake and our dreams flit away from our minds. And even more – in this case God REVEALED King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream to a young Hebrew man, a captive from the conquered land of Israel, named – Daniel.

God shows us what we cannot possibly know. He enables the blind to “see” in ways that others do not understand and those who are deaf can “hear” things which cannot be heard by the human ear. SermonIllustrations.com relates that “Helen Keller's teacher, Anne Sullivan, had given her the names of physical objects in sign language. Miss Sullivan attempted to explain God to Helen and tapped out the symbols for the name ‘God.’ Much to Miss Sullivan's surprise, Helen, who was both blind and deaf from birth, spelled back, ‘Thank you for telling me God's name, Teacher, for He has touched me many times before.’” The article continued, “Helen Keller knew something of God's signature from nature, but it was wordless.” The young girl from a human perspective had lost everything, but she was given the touch of God, a Treasure that most on earth never experience.

God spoke to Nebuchadnezzar in his sleep, when he was unconscious. God spoke to Helen Keller within the isolation of her mind. Both of them could not see or hear the outward world at the time God spoke, but He did speak and they heard. Each of them, Helen and the king, were given a “touch” deep inside by the Hand of God, and then they both were also given a human being, a person who would help them to understand what had happened. For the king, it was Daniel, and for Helen, it was Anne Sullivan.

The king did not remember the dream and he was frantic about it. He didn’t remember even what the dream WAS, let alone its content, and as recorded in Daniel Chapter Two, he demanded that the “wise men” of Babylon not only tell him the interpretation of the dream, but also what it WAS in the first place! His “wise men” of course, could not do it, and “for this reason the king was angry and very furious, and gave a command to destroy all the wise men of Babylon” (Daniel 2:12). The young Daniel and his friends, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, were considered to be among that group, “and (as) they began killing the wise men;” they “sought Daniel and his companions to kill them” as well (Daniel 2:13).

Daniel asked the king for more time, “that he might tell the king the interpretation” (verse 16) and a stay of execution was granted for him and for his friends. No doubt all the other “wise men” also lived a little longer because of Daniel’s request. The blessings WE receive can benefit others. And you and I have been blessed by what was given to someone else.

What Daniel and his companions did with that time is what we all should do, not only in times of crisis, but in all our decisions: They sought “mercies from the God of heaven…” (verse 18). In other words, they prayed! Note that God does not NEED our prayers. He doesn’t need our help at all. We need HIM, and that’s a good reason to pray. Amazingly, God chooses to honor our prayers, and you have to wonder: what would have happened if Daniel and his friends did NOT use that time to pray? It is likely we would not be reading the Book of Daniel - ALL the “wise men” would have been dead before it was written.

But he did pray; and “the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision” (Daniel 2:19). God showed Daniel what the dream MEANT, and He also gave him the harder part – in a vision He showed Daniel what the dream WAS. Can you imagine? The Lord reached right into Nebuchadnezzar’s head, pulled out a dream the man himself had forgotten, and then revealed that forgotten dream to someone else, to Daniel! God is indeed wonderful!

Helen Keller was a miracle, too. Some might dismiss the idea that reaching inside her dark world was a “miracle” from God, because human ingenuity in the form of sign language was used. Even though she was even more isolated than Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, the situation was different. Yet when you think about it, our so-called “human” ideas – are from God! HE gave us the capacity for language, and whether it is expressed in words or through touch, it’s from God! We would have NOTHING without Him. It was a miracle.

Things were serious for Daniel. When Nebuchadnezzar had that dream, lives were at stake! If he didn’t get his way right now! Heads would literally roll. He wanted to know what that dream was so badly that if he didn’t get it he would kill ALL his advisers! And the dream WAS important because God had imparted the dream to him for a great purpose. He would reveal the future of Empires in that part of the world for centuries to come. The dream was a prophesy of the future, and all that it contained would come to pass.

Five hundred years or so before Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel; and three thousand years before Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan, King David ruled in Israel. He was described as a “prophet” in Acts 2:29-30, and God indeed gave the man great understanding. He saw that God intimately knows our thoughts, our words and our actions. As David said to the Lord, “You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways…” (Psalm 139:2-3). David was delighted to be known by the Lord because He recognized that God is good and can be TRUSTED with everything there is to know about us all.

Daniel had learned this and King Nebuchadnezzar discovered it, too. Daniel said, “I thank You and praise You, O God of my fathers…” (Daniel 2:23). Nebuchadnezzar said, “Truly your God is the God of gods” (Daniel 2:47), and He is. Let’s pray to Him right now:

Father, give us knowledge, let us have understanding, and show us Your will, but most of all, let us know You through Your Son. Thank You, Lord. In Jesus Name. Amen.

 

Betrayal

But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive” (Genesis 50:20)

Have you ever felt betrayed? REALLY betrayed? Inside it’s like you have been DESTROYED by what happened, and worst of all, the anger growing within is often the result of betrayal by someone you truly CARED for. You opened your emotions to them, you shared with them, and they answered with betrayal. You and I have opened up in the past to those “who did us wrong” in very serious ways, and though forgiveness is possible in our Lord, it is something else to forget.

In our Scripture for today, we find the recorded words of Joseph, son of Jacob. His father was the son of Isaac, son of Abraham. Jacob had been a clever, deceitful man who subsequently was gentled by the circumstances of life and by a holy God. The Lord changed the man’s name (and his heart) from “Jacob” (“heel-catcher” or “supplanter”) to “Israel,” which means “God strives” or “Prince with God.”

Joseph was born to Israel (Jacob) somewhat later in life, and mostly he saw the gentle man his father had become. Most of Joseph’s brothers had come into the world earlier, and they exhibited varying degrees of the cleverness and jealousy that characterized their father as a younger man. Have you noticed that? Your children are indeed individuals, but they also reflect who you are. If fathers or mothers are cold and aloof, something of those characteristics will be “caught” by their little ones, almost like “catching” a “disease” of the soul. Children become “mirrors” that reflect parents, and we tend to be troubled by what we see of ourselves in them.

Joseph was the “favorite” of his father. Most of his brothers were “half”-brothers. They all had the same father, but four mothers were involved. Joseph’s mother, Rachel, was the love of Jacob’s (Israel’s) life, and Joseph, (like his full-younger brother, Benjamin) was adored as a child. In addition, Joseph was gifted by the Lord. He had prophetic dreams about a future time in which his brothers and other family members would bow down to him. The other brothers knew all this and they were disgusted by him. They had murderous feelings. Thoughts have a way of becoming reality and on a certain day they threw him into a pit, prepared a trumped-up story for Jacob and were going to leave Joseph for dead.

This account of the events that led up to the time when his brothers betrayed Joseph can be read in the Book of Genesis, starting with Chapter 29. Joseph was pulled up out of that pit and sold to slave traders, who then re-sold him for profit as a slave in Egypt. He worked hard, but he was betrayed again and ended up in prison. It was very difficult. It says of that time: “they hurt his feet with fetters, He was laid in irons” (Psalm 105:18). Joseph had lots of time to think about his brothers.

God subsequently reached into that dark place and rescued Joseph, raising him amazingly to the position of Governor of all Egypt. In that office, Joseph made godly decisions that resulted in saving innumerable lives during the famine that came upon the land. Included were his brothers and father. “His brothers fell down before his face, and they said, ‘Behold, we are your servants.’” He responded, “Do not be afraid” (Genesis 50:18-19). Joseph was enabled by God to – forgive.

It might have been Joseph’s opportunity to revenge the betrayal done to him, but instead it was God’s time to reveal HIS heart through the man. Joseph said: “you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive” (Genesis 50:20).

In the book, “The Hidden Hand of God, Turning Points,” there is an interesting true story by Richard W. O’Donnell, called “Waiting for the Bus” (page 143). In Hawaii, the author rode “The Bus” as the service is called and he became acquainted at the bus stop with a Korean lady named Minnie, a widow who lived alone. She observed, “You’re a Christian” and the author nodded. She said, “I used to be a Christianwish I still was.” She came from a Christian family and had lived in fear when the Japanese took over her country, Korea. One night her priest left and never came back. The community did not know if he ran away or was arrested. His departure felt like a betrayal to them. She said, “I lost track of my religion” and “I hate the Japanese.

Minnie no longer took the bus when she got a different job, but she sought him out at the bus stop several months later. This time she had a “warm glow” and a “look of contentment.” She said, “I’m a Christian nowGod has welcomed me home again.” She reported that “a little Japanese woman who came to Hawaiihelped meI don’t think I would have made it if she had not been my friend…” She paused and then continued, “Maybe I don’t hate the Japanese anymoreMaybe I’m beginning to like them. Maybe that was why God made me wait so long before He welcomed me home again.” The author observed: “Letting go of her hatred had transformed her.

God is no stranger to betrayal. The Bible contains many recorded accounts of treachery. Judas Iscariot sold-out our Lord to the authorities revealing that God personally understands OUR feelings, our hurt. Judas betrayed God. It is interesting that it really was OUR sins that put Jesus on the cross. When Judas betrayed the Lord, WE betrayed Him, and we have done it each and every time we sinned.  Instead of blaming others, it’s time to think about what we have done. If anyone should be carrying a grudge, it’s the Lord, and yet there is FORGIVENESS in Christ Jesus. As the crowd mocked Him and cast lots for His clothing; as He bore your sins and mine, He said: “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34). He forgives – you and me.

Read the words of Jesus and understand that you do not need to fear. The words of Joshua to his brothers are the beginning of understanding that the forgiveness we have withheld is now possible for you and me. Not in our strength, but in the power and love of God. It’s time to forgive. Let’s do it now:

Lord, we give you our anger, our fear, our resentment. Forgive us, heal us, and in Your strength, Lord, forgive those who caused us pain. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries
First Church On The Net
www.FridayStudy.org
Ron@FridayStudy.org
"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)
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