There Is a God in Heaven
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There Is a God in Heaven

From Series: Faith Under Fire

Daniel 2:1-49  (ID: 3108)

Troubled by nightmares, King Nebuchadnezzar was unable to interpret their meaning, and he lashed out in rage. God answered Daniel’s prayer for help, and the meaning of the dreams was made clear. As we examine the text, Alistair Begg turns our attention to the everlasting nature of God’s kingdom established on the Rock that is Jesus Christ. When we align our thinking and habits with the truth of His Kingship, we can proclaim the Gospel through our lives.


Sermon Transcript: Print

Daniel 2:1: “In the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his spirit was troubled, and his sleep left him. Then the king commanded that the magicians, the enchanters, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans be summoned to tell the king his dreams. So they came in and stood before the king. And the king said to them, ‘I had a dream, and my spirit is troubled to know the dream.’”

And then in verse 10: “The Chaldeans answered the king and said, ‘There[’s] not a man on earth who can meet the king’s demand, for no great and powerful king has asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or Chaldean. 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.’”

And then verse 17: “Then Daniel went to his house and made the matter known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions, and told them to seek mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his companions might not be destroyed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.”

And verse 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.’ 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?’ 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, 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 [your] bed are these.’”

And then verse 46: “[The] King Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face and paid homage to Daniel, and commanded that an offering and incense be offered up to him. The king answered and said to Daniel, ‘Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery.’ [And] then the king gave Daniel high honors and many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon.”

And then to the end of the chapter.

This is the Word of the Lord.

[Audience: “Thanks be to God.”]

Father, thank you for the Bible. Thank you for these songs, which set our minds in the right direction: that you are the God of everlasting truth and righteousness, and that you have made yourself known finally and savingly in Jesus, and that you continue to speak as your Word is opened up. We pray that not only will we understand something of the Bible but that we might have a life-shaping encounter with you, the living God, who has given to us the Bible. And we pray for help to be attentive and to be free from distractions and to hear from you. For we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Well, this is a long chapter, as you will see. Some of you may have read ahead and said to yourself, “Well, I wonder how we’re going to handle all of these verses.” And I’ve been thinking the same thing, and with my mathematical ability I have been able to work out that if I gave three minutes to each verse, then our study would last for two hours and twenty-seven minutes. So, clearly, that is not going to happen.

And although the entire chapter clearly forms a unity, it’s important, if we’re going to come to terms with it this morning, that we grasp the big picture while actually working our way somewhat selectively through the text. You can assume that the parts that I leave out I don’t really understand—and there’s no point in me telling lies to you—and then you can go and figure them out. And then, as you’ve already begun to do, you can come and fill in the blanks for me when I’m walking around the camp and tell me all the parts I didn’t get. That’s fine.

Well, it begins clearly with this agitation, this sleeplessness, on the part of this great king. Verse 1 is a clear statement of his predicament: he “was troubled” in “his spirit” and “his sleep left him.” This, of course, is very significant, because we’ve already been told just what a great king he is. He is powerful. He’s successful. His policy of military expansion has been quite unparalleled. His frontiers and his borders are largely under control. And so, from the outside looking in, clearly he has nothing really to be worried about. Yet despite the outward signs of stability, he was being emotionally and continually destabilized by what we’re actually told in the text were divinely appointed nightmares. His sleeplessness was actually due to the fact that God was at work in the darkness not only of the night but in the darkness of his own mind, and he had dark, disturbing doubts about the future.

In The Phantom of the Opera, which some of you will recall, the phantom at one point sings “nighttime [darkens], heightens each sensation.”[1] And of course, notions that appear problematic in the daylight can become paralyzing in the darkness. I don’t know about you, but when I have my three-o’clock-in-the-morning wakeup session, I find that the things that destabilize me when I’m lying down don’t seem quite as bad when I’m standing up. And that may be an experience that is shared.

Now, whether Nebuchadnezzar was lying down or standing up, it would be hard to believe that this individual whose word was never questioned, whose directives were never disputed, could himself be suffering from a deep-rooted, growing sense of insecurity—for that’s what we’re being told. And it is on account of that that he does what was customary to do: send for his Chaldeans, for his magicians, and for his enchanters. Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters! And so it is that they arrive, right on cue. And in verse 3 the king makes known to them his request.

Verse 4, their polite response. And it’s quite funny actually, isn’t it? And there they tell him that nobody has ever really been confronted by the kind of thing. But “the king answered and said to the Chaldeans,” verse 5, “‘The word from me is firm: if you do not make known to me the dream and its interpretation, you shall be torn limb from limb, and your houses shall be laid in ruins.’” That’s pretty straightforward stuff, isn’t it? Nobody’s saying, “Do you get what he just said?” or “Could you be a little clearer?” No, it’s quite amazing.

Now, one of the interesting questions, of course, is, did he know what his dream was or not? There’s nothing to tell us in the text whether he did or whether he didn’t. He just says that he wants them to tell him the dream and the interpretation. He might have known the dream. And he didn’t trust these characters. And if they didn’t tell him the dream, they could give him any interpretation that they wanted. And so, perhaps that’s the reason. I actually don’t think so. I think he didn’t know the dream. I think he was disturbed. I think he had a deep-seated sense of being somehow or another magnificent and powerful and yet somehow amazingly vulnerable. And so he employs his tactical approach: “If you show the dream and its interpretation, you shall receive from me gifts and rewards.” So he tries the carrot and he tries the stick. At one moment he’s the wolf to the three little pigs, and at the next moment he’s Humpty-Dumpty, who is falling off the wall, and none of the king’s horses and none of the king’s men will be able to put him back together again.

He must have been a real problem to live with, don’t you think? There’s nothing in here about his wife, but if we’d had a little sidebar from his wife or from his children, they said, “Oh, goodness gracious, you should see this fellow when he gets off his throne. Unbelievable! Morose, paranoid, threatening, all kinds of things—looking over his shoulder all of the time.”

And his astrologers, who are just really unraveled by this, finally, in verse 10, pluck up the courage just to give it back to him straight: “The Chaldeans answered the king and said, ‘There is not a man on earth who can meet the king’s demand.’” Those are just the facts: “There is not a man on earth.” They said, “However, if there was ever to be an interpretation, it would have to come from the realm of the gods,” with a small g.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I sympathize with their predicament, and at the same time, I admire their courage. I wish that some of our more modern-day wizards and astrologers would be prepared to admit their complete inability as well. But that’s for another time.

In verse 11, of course, they were partially correct. These issues belong to the realm of divinity and eternity. Their polytheism stands in the way of discovering the truth, which is going to come, as we see, through Daniel himself. As a result of that—verse 12—the agitation of the king reaches its high point: he’s “angry,” he’s “very furious,” and he commands “all the wise men of Babylon [to] be destroyed.” “Let’s just kill the whole lot of them.”

Quite amazing, isn’t it? You think you live in a tough time? You think you got a problem with leadership? Try this for size. Mm-hmm? Fast-forward in your mind through the years and see another king upon his throne, infuriated by the wise men and ordering the slaughter of the innocent children in Bethlehem.[2] Both Nebuchadnezzar, 600 BC, and Herod the so-called “Great” in the first century depict the often vicious reaction of man qua man when he senses that his position in the universe is not as secure as he actually believed it to be.

And in recognizing this, it quickly becomes apparent that Nebuchadnezzar doesn’t stand alone on the stage of human history. He in his kingship here is a prototype of others who have risen on the stage of history and who have been marked by a deep-seated hostility against God. The reaction of his humanity in the face of divinity is akin to that expressed by the great godless Nietzsche when he said, “If there is a God, how can I bear not to be that God? If there is a God, it probably should be me.”[3] Or Reinhold Niebuhr, in his book The Nature and Destiny of Man, sees this insecurity—what he refers to as this anxiety complex—at the root of much of our modern political tyranny: that “the lust for power is prompted by a darkly conscious realization of [man’s] insecurity,”[4] the insecurity of his very existence.

Now, you’re students of history. We had established that on Sunday morning, I know. And so you can go roam through your history books as you like. Can you explain a little man like Hitler apart from the demonic response of humanity bringing its fist in the face of divinity, of a deep-seated insecurity in his own personal existence that manifests itself in that way? Can you explain the clown in North Korea at the moment, whose attempts at political machinations include bringing some of our brightest and best basketball players to act as the ambassadors of sanity and stability and political effectiveness?

No, this is not simply an interesting perspective on world affairs. Because let’s be honest: no matter whether you have the corner office, or you’re on the fourth floor, or you head up the children’s wing, or whatever else it is, or you’re the pastor of a church, these things take their hold on each of us. We daren’t miss the fact that Nebuchadnezzar’s behavior and his uneasy dreams speak into our personal worlds, our own insecurities and hostilities. They’re not exclusive to the mighty.

What’s wrong with me and my angry outbursts that are often irrational? Where does this horrible sense of one-upmanship emerge in the fabric of local churches or in the gatherings of pastors? For we, in the feebleness of our flesh, confronted by our own sense of insecurity, creating our own peculiar identity, are at sea in these matters until we find our identity in our union with Christ and our security in the work of Christ. And then our union with one another in Christ is marked in such a way that it speaks to this kind of world.

Wallace, in his commentary, says at this point, “[Why is it that even in our moments of triumph there comes] the strange disturbing thought that even this may be the material of tragedy? Why is so much that is good and beautiful marked so deeply and indelibly with clear signs of instability and frailty?”[5]

We, in the feebleness of our flesh, confronted by our own sense of insecurity, creating our own peculiar identity, are at sea until we find our identity in our union with Christ and our security in the work of Christ.

No, you see, we, like Nebuchadnezzar before us, need not simply to be provided with an interpretation of our predicament, but we need to be brought face-to-face with our problem. His agitation, his sleeplessness, responded to by the best of human wisdom, could not fix him. What he needed was a word from above.

Enter Daniel.

Verse 13. How are we doing time-wise? We need to pick it up. Verse 13: “So the decree went out” that all the fellows were about to be killed; “and they sought Daniel and his companions, to kill them.”

You take the knock at the door: “Hello, Daniel? Are the boys in there with you?”

“Yes.”

“We’re here on a special mission. You’re going to be slaughtered.”

“Oh, thanks for letting us know. Let me get my shoes. I just… I need to… I’ll be right out in just a moment.”

Now, I think I have six things in my notes here. I won’t expound on them, but I’ll give them to you. These are the coat hangers; you can hang your own clothes on them later.

In noticing how Daniel approaches this, number one, he was tactful. He was tactful. That almost goes without saying, doesn’t it? I think it’s a good time for tact, isn’t it? You don’t wanna get your answer wrong at this point. “We’re here to kill you.” “Oh…” Verse 14: “Then Daniel replied with prudence and discretion.” That’s super in the ESV: “with prudence and discretion.” “Not gonna do it. Wouldn’t be prudent. Not at this juncture.” Right? It’s the George Bush Sr. approach. It’s very, very good here. “With prudence and with discretion.”

He doesn’t overreact, despite the fact that his personal prospects are not bright. He doesn’t go stark raving nuts. But he does take the initiative again, doesn’t he? He doesn’t say, “Oh well, must be the will of God. We’re all going to die. Let’s all just have a prayer meeting.” He’s going to have a prayer meeting, but that’s not what he’s going to be praying about—about how he can die. No, this is no fatalism. This is no strange assent. This is no “Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be.”[6] His confidence in God did not make him indolent; his confidence in God propelled him into action.

Consider how many opportunities that we have missed by a striking lack of initiative—how we’ve often abused the opportunity by a kind of blustering heavy-handedness that was nowhere close to prudence and to discretion. It’s a characteristic that I think is greatly needed in our day, isn’t it? It’s not the same as zeal. It has to do with understanding the ways of God, learning what kind of action is appropriate in any given set of circumstances. That’s why we need each other. That’s why you need country music:

You gotta know when to hold ’em,
And when to fold ’em,
And when to walk away,
And when to run.
And you never count your money
When you’re sittin’ at the table.[7]

Right?

Luther was not good at that. That’s why God gave him Melanchthon. You see how wonderful it is, in the providence of God? Can you imagine what Luther would have said if he hadn’t had a friend like Melanchthon? I can’t wait to meet Melanchthon and say, “How many times did you have to say, ‘Luther, don’t say that’?”

He was tactful. Secondly, he was practical. In verse 17: “Then Daniel went to his house and made the matter known to Hananiah,” and he told them to make sure that “we pray to God,” verse 18, “to seek mercy from … heaven concerning this mystery,” and “so that”—hina clause—“we’ll have a prayer meeting, so that we don’t get killed.” That’s pretty practical: “so that we don’t get executed.” How much self-preservation was involved in this? We’ll have to wait to find out. But in actual fact, you will notice that practicality and spirituality are quite happy to share the same bed. In response to the attacks upon the building project in Jerusalem, you will remember, Nehemiah records, “We prayed to our God and [we] posted a guard.”[8] Very practical, very spiritual.

So he’s tactful, he’s practical. Thirdly, he’s prayerful. The explanation of verse 17 was fuel for his intercession, and the implication in verse 19 seems to be that this season of prayer may actually have been prolonged during the night.

He was not only prayerful, but he was thankful. Again, we’re in verse 19: “Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in [the] vision of the night. [And] Daniel blessed the God of heaven,” and he thanked him. How God desires from us a thankful heart! There was no possible way out, and yet, like others before and after, he’d acted in supreme confidence that God would supply a way if it was necessary.

Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail,
In thee do we trust, nor find thee to fail;
Thy mercies, how tender, how firm to the end,
Our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend![9]

And he was purposeful. Again, in keeping with the purpose established in chapter 1, his prayer doesn’t remove him from the realm of action. Rather, as we see in verse 24, “Daniel went … 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.’” Okay? That’s very straightforward: “Do not destroy them. Please do not execute them. Take me to the king, and I will interpret the dream.”

But actually, he was humble. He was humble too. He knew the source of his ability. And there’s an obvious contrast, actually, between the approach of Arioch in verse 25 and the approach of Daniel in verse 28. I hope your Bible is open, because otherwise you’re just going, “Well, I suppose it’s in there.” But in verse 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.’” No you didn’t! You absolutely didn’t, Arioch, you little rascal! You see? He’s trying to take credit for himself! “Hey, king, I’m Arioch. I’m your main man. I know these guys were not doing good, but I, I have found a man! And here he is.” Contrast with our man Daniel: when the king says to him, 26, “Are you able to make known to me the dream that I’ve seen?” Daniel answered the king, “No wise men, enchanters, magicians, … astrologers could show to the king the mystery … the king has asked, but there is a God in heaven who reveals…” Now, see, that’s it, isn’t it? “Humble yourselves … under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.”[10]

Then follows the explanation of the dream. This is where some of you get really excited and agitated and get out your coloring pencils. Well, I have great discouragement for you in this regard, because I want to tell you something that is very, very important that you understand. That is that in the apocalyptic sections of Daniel… And when we say “apocalyptic,” apocalyptic literature—the ability to unveil the future, to pull the curtain back, as it were, and give an insight into the victory of God—that apocalyptic literature is not there in order that it might create for us the ability to understand the detailed plan of God for the future or for a future generation. It’s not there in order to help us draw up our calendars. But it is there to assure every generation since the sixth century BC, and often contrary to the appearance of things, that God is still on the throne and that the future is securely in his hands.

Now, if we get that, then we can enjoy multiple cups of coffee debating the kingdoms, their appearing, their demise, and so on. We can bury ourselves under that kind of thing and simultaneously miss the overarching issue: that the kingdoms of this world will eventually crumble to nothing and that the kingdom of God will prevail. That is the big picture. That is the big story. And yet—and please don’t applaud; it unsettles me. I’m so used to the reverse.

God is still on the throne, and the future is securely in his hands.

But the fact of the matter is that I grew up with the ten toes of the beast. I grew up with all of that stuff. I have lived sixty-three years of my life disproving just about every theory that was ever told to me since I was five years old. And finally, one morning I think I banged my head as I fell out of my bed, and I got it! We’re not supposed to be preoccupied with these things. We’re supposed to understand that this stone that was not formed by human hands, that brought down the kingdoms of the world, is none other than the stone over which men stumble and the rock upon which men stand—namely, Jesus.[11] So if you stand back from the picture far enough, you go, “Oh! Along with my grandchildren, I get it!” But if you stand too close to it and get your nose up there, along with all your crazy friends, you missed it!

Steady! Steady.

In the circumstances of a pagan king, God is in control of his sleep patterns. In the circumstances of the White House, God is in control. Elizabeth the Queen sleeps and awakens according to the providence of God. The rulers of Saudi Arabia breathe as a result of his providential care. And that is contained in this unfolding story.

It’s made clear—the interpretation is made clear—graphically as he describes this statue from top to bottom: a top-heavy structure, unstable, unable to move, destruction caused by the impact of a rock that is not cut with human hands, verse 34. Verse 35: a graphic picture of the statue being pulverized to fine dust and causing us to reflect on the words of the First Psalm: “The ungodly are not so: but [they] are like the chaff which the wind drive[s] away.”[12] Meanwhile, the stone grows into a huge mountain, filling the earth.

And Daniel is brutally frank in explaining the meaning of the dream to the king: the time remaining to the empire he was building was comparatively short. It would go through the ongoing development in the course of human history. It would help to give place and shape to three or four other empires, each in its own way impressive and mighty. But that development itself would ultimately reveal to all the greatness and the magnificence of the structure resting as it was on crumbling clay, clay that could not bear it for very long, until eventually this kingdom emerges that will last for time immemorial.

I hope you will take time to read this again—there, verse 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, and into whose hand he has given, wherever they dwell, the children of man, the beasts of the field, … the birds of the heavens, making you rule over them all—you are the head of gold.

Wow! That was kind of reassuring, wasn’t it? What a great start, and how good that he could speak so clearly.

“And this statue,” he says, “has a head of gold, and I’ve got good news for you: you are the head of gold. But I need you to know,” he says, “that the reason you are the head of gold is because he who is the Lord of kings has established you there.”

You see, we have such a small view of history. You can’t understand world history without a Bible, incidentally. It’s not possible to make sense of the unfolding drama of humanity apart from the story of redemptive history that reveals that with the fall of man there is a great spiritual conflict that is like a fault, the San Andreas fault line, that runs at the very heart of humanity. How else are we to make sense of this? That’s why Daniel is able to come and say, “You are this head of gold. This is your kingdom. This is the Babylonian kingdom. But the only reason you have a kingdom is because he,” verse [37], “who is the Lord of kings has given it to you.” And he says to him, “There’s going to be other kingdoms,” 39 to 43. “They will crumble one after another.” Traditionally, we’ve thought of them in terms of the Babylonian, the Medo-Persian, the Greek (the empire of Greece), and finally of Rome. But he says, “The kingdom of God will not disintegrate. The kingdom of God will not be left to other people.”

I like to sing a hymn at Parkside; they reluctantly join me every so often. It begins,

The day thou gavest, Lord, is ended,
The darkness falls at thy behest;
To thee our morning hymns ascended,
Your praise shall sanctify our rest.

And it’s just some wonderful verses in it:

We thank you that your church unsleeping,
As earth rolls onward into night,

is constantly praising you, and constantly praying, and so on. But it finishes like this: “So be it, Lord…”

So be it, Lord; thy throne shall never,
Like earth’s proud empires, pass away;
For your kingdom stands, and grows forever,
Till all your creatures own your sway.[13]

Now, loved ones, I have to say to you: at this point in our history, I think it’s going to be important for you to get up in the morning, for us to get up in the morning, and reaffirm these essential truths for the stabilizing of our mind, for the preparing of our interactions with a community that is working from an entirely different worldview—to take a leaf from Daniel, who was acting in a way that was courteous and with discretion, with prudence. Because actually, much of what has characterized evangelical Christianity in its public face, and characterizes us, is not marked by this kind of skillful, tactful, prayerful, humble, significant belief in a sovereign God who is in control of things—that there is no need for panic, there is no need for all of this vociferous, angry venting. Why? Because of what we’re learning here in Daniel chapter 2.

Now, our time is gone, and the bell going off for the third time is a reminder to me. “Hear it not, Macbeth!”

So let’s just fast-forward to the end of the chapter. Let’s fast-forward about half a millennium, five hundred years on. The Roman Empire is clearly in control. They don’t manage to get Scotland, but they’re doing a pretty good job otherwise—good ol’ Hadrian’s Wall. And it is in that environment, where Rome apparently reigns supreme, that divinity steps down into time in the form of an angel and appears to the most unlikely slip of a girl called Mary and makes this declaration: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you[’ve] found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.” That would be enough, wouldn’t it? “He will be [called] great … will be called the Son of the Most High [God].” Notice: “And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”[14] In other words, the stone in Daniel 2 is about to appear. The kingdom comes first in the appearing of Jesus, continues in the proclamation of the gospel throughout the world—which is where we are now—and will be brought to consummation when Christ returns in power and in great glory.[15]

So the already and the not yet is there as the Scriptures unfold, and here we live. And aren’t we so often just like those disciples, who were so desperately in need of the work of the Holy Spirit? We won’t take time to throw them under the bus, but they did not do a particularly good job of picking up on the clear instruction of the greatest teacher who has ever lived. And even after his resurrection, as he meets with them, what is their preoccupation? The kingdom! And they have a question: “Jesus, are you at this time going to reveal the kingdom to Israel?[16] Are you going to actually bring it all to fruition?” They are thinking geographically. They are thinking nationally. They are thinking wrongly.

The quest for reconciliation between people who have routinely been at animosity with one another is an understandable quest. And when we read our Bibles, we find that that is actually answered only in one place, and that is at the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ

So Jesus says, “It’s not for you to fiddle about with times and seasons.”[17] Would to God that many of us had just paid attention to such a simple observation; it would’ve saved us a lot of time reading books. But, “It is not for you to know the times and the seasons. They’re not irrelevant, but it’s not your preoccupation. Let me tell you what I want you to do: I want you to go into all the world and to preach the gospel, to make disciples of all nations.[18] For that is how my kingdom comes. That is how my will is done. That is how the kingdom will be ushered in.” Not national, not territorial, not spatial, but international.

In fact, the quest of humanity that is revealed in the United Nations, in the G8, in the European Common Market—that is an understandable quest, isn’t it? The quest for reconciliation between people who have routinely been at animosity with one another is an understandable quest. And when we read our Bibles, we find that that is actually answered only in one place, and that is at the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ.

And so we have to go out and say that to the world. And our intelligent friend says, “Are you kidding me? Are you suggesting for a moment that the pivotal event of human history took place outside of Jerusalem all that time ago in the death of a Galilean carpenter whose name was Jesus?” And you’re gonna swallow hard, and then you’re going to say, “That’s exactly what I’m telling you. And I’m not surprised at your reaction, because Paul, who once thought as apparently you think, wrote to the Corinthians, and he says, ‘My dear friends, this message of the gospel is absolute foolishness to those who are perishing. But to those who are being saved it is the power of God’”[19]—the same power that God revealed in giving to his servant Daniel the ability to interpret the dark, disturbing doubts of a pagan king, 600 BC.

Thank you, Father, that when we get to the end of the Bible, we realize that the kingdoms of our world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever![20] This does not make us bombastic or proud. It is immensely humbling. Immensely humbling.

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died he for me, who caused his pain?
[To] me, who … death pursued?
Amazing love! how can it be,
That thou, my God, [would] die for me?[21]

Lord, help us to display this amazing love of the Lord Jesus by life and via lip as you give to us days remaining upon this earthly journey. For we pray, commending our loved ones, our friends, and our enemies into your care. In Christ’s name. Amen.


[1] Charles Hart, “The Music of the Night” (1986).

[2] See Matthew 2:13–18.

[3] Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra, pt. 2, chap. 24. Paraphrased.

[4] Reinhold Niebuhr, The Nature and Destiny of Man: A Christian Interpretation, vol. 1, Human Nature (London: Nisbet, 1941), 201.

[5] Ronald S. Wallace, The Message of Daniel: The Lord Is King, The Bible Speaks Today (Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity, 1979), 51.

[6] Ray Evans, “Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)” (1956).

[7] Don Schlitz, “The Gambler” (1978). Lyrics lightly altered.

[8] Nehemiah 4:9 (NIV).

[9] Robert Grant, “O Worship the King” (1833).

[10] 1 Peter 5:6 (KJV).

[11] See 1 Peter 2:8.

[12] Psalm 1:4 (KJV).

[13] John Ellerton, “The Day Thou Gavest, Lord, Is Ended” (1870). Lyrics lightly altered.

[14] Luke 1:30–33 (ESV).

[15] See Mark 13:26.

[16] Acts 1:6 (paraphrased).

[17] Acts 1:7 (paraphrased).

[18] Matthew 28:19 (paraphrased).

[19] 1 Corinthians 1:18 (paraphrased).

[20] See Revelation 11:15.

[21] Charles Wesley, “And Can It Be, That I Should Gain?” (1738).

Copyright © 2021, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Alistair Begg
Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.