Good morning everybody. Let’s take our Bibles if we could and open them to the Book of Daniel, chapter 10. Some of you are surprised we’ve made it to Daniel 10; I didn’t know if we were going to make it to Daniel 10 either but we’re here. In fact, I notice the bulletin kept putting Daniel 10 in for a long time and today they didn’t put anything in. I think they were a little gun-shy or something.
Daniel 10, the title of our message this morning is The Invisible War, Part 1. I want to thank Gabe for teaching last week; I hope you’re enjoying his studies in the Book of Jude. People are saying well where did you go (to me) and I was in British Columbia, a place called Abbotsford near Vancouver, involved in a prophecy conference. The folks that put this conference on really stepped out on faith, having never having done one before. And guess what? The Lord moved, a thousand people showed up. Isn’t that incredible. And they said to me do you think we should do this again and I’m like ah, yeah! I think God is saying something. I was one of four speakers and the Canadian… this was my first time in Canada, gorgeous country, and the people could not have been more hospitable and gracious that we were there. So we taught very aggressively on Israel and the rapture and all of these topics they don’t necessarily get in their churches, for an entire day on Saturday. And here’s the questions I always get: number 1, was it livestreamed? The answer is no, and don’t fault me for that, I wasn’t in charge of that decision. Number 2, was there a recording? The answer is yes. Number 3, did Sugar Land Bible Church order the recording. The answer is yes so when I get that in we’ll let you know it’s there.
Speaking of prophecy we find ourselves today in the Book of Daniel, chapter 10. Let me sort of remind you where we are in the book. We’re coming, believe it or not, down the home stretch. Daniel, of course, is a very special prophet. He was raised up by God to explain a period of time in Israel’s history called the times of the Gentiles, when the nation would be outside of its land and trampled down by various Gentile powers.
What is the prophecy that governs this time period? Well, prior to Daniel you don’t have anything so God raised up Daniel to fill in the gaps. Daniel and his three friends were also used as role models, teaching Israel how they are to live and follow God when they’re outside their comfort zone, outside of the security of the land of Israel, being subjected to various Gentile powers and bullying and this is why the Book of Daniel speaks directly into our lives because we are very much in the same boat, pilgrims, as 1 Peter 2:11 tells us, strangers and aliens in the devil’s world. [1 Peter 2:11, “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.”]
How do you work a job when you’re the only Christian there and your boss could care less about Christ and your Bible based beliefs. How do you function as a student in a university where you believe certain things about the Bible and nobody else in your dorm, your roommate, your professors, they don’t care a whit about what you believe. How do you function in that type of environment? The Book of Daniel is very instructive to us; we follow the example of Daniel and his three friends who consecrated themselves to God and yet observed over and over again throughout the course of their lives the faithful hand of God. The whole book is really an encouragement then, that God is in control of a world that seems to be out of control.
Chapter 1, you remember, was introductory. And then we moved through chapters 2-7, which as we have taught in depth is formed as a literary pattern called a chiasm. Chapters 2-7 we’ve worked our way all the way through that literary structure and we moved into the final part of the book, which is chapters 8-12, where the language shifts from Aramaic, the known language of the day, back to Hebrew where God is sending, through this prophet Daniel, a special message to the Jewish nation.
We saw, chapter 8, the ram and the goat vision. We’ve spent a long time in chapter 9, the seventy weeks prophecy. And we find ourselves this morning beginning the final vision, chapters 10-12. You say well, I don’t like all this outline stuff, I’m a picture person. I’m a pictorial learner, and I’m glad you are because I am too. I learn easier with pictures than words. And one of the things you can do to keep track of this book is to associate a picture with every chapter. And if you can do that you can think your way all the way through the book; you can teach this book to your children, to your grandchildren, to your small group, to your Bible study.
Chapter 2, think of the giant statue that Nebuchadnezzar saw. Chapter think of fire, that’s the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego thrown into the fiery furnace. Chapter 4 think of a tree being cut down and that’s a vision that Nebuchadnezzar had related to his pride and his restoration. Chapter 5 think of a hand writing on the wall and that’s the famous handwriting on the wall chapter. Chapter 6 you already know, that’s Daniel in the lion’s den, that’s what chapter 6 is about. Chapter 7 think of the four beasts; the four beasts is a description of the various Gentile powers that would trample Israel down during the times of the Gentiles right on up to the return of Christ. Chapter 8 think of a ram and a goat as Daniel has a vision about two short-term empires, the empire of Persia and the empire of Greece. And then finally chapter 9 think of the city of Jerusalem. The city of Jerusalem is the subject of the seventy weeks prophecy as we have studied in detail.
We come to chapters 10-12 and here is an outline, if you will, of these chapters. Chapter 10 is the setting, chapter 10 verses 1-3. Then a Heavenly Messenger shows up, verses 4-9. And then the Heavenly Messenger does some explaining. It’s like when Ricky said to Lucy, you’ve got some splainin’ to do. We get a lot of splainin’ going on there in chapter 10 verse 10 all the way through chapter 11 and verse 1. Finally you get to the actual content of the vision that the heavenly messenger was dispatched from heaven to reveal. It is a staggering and astounding vision as we’ll be seeing. It really starts from the time of Daniel and moves from Persia to Greece right on into what we call intertestamental history, history that occurred 400 years after Daniel had left the scene.
And then it jumps into the distant future around chapter 11 and verse 36 and gives a great description of the coming antichrist. And then you move from there into chapter 12 where you have a tremendous description of the tribulation period that’s yet future, and the kingdom which will come after that tribulation period. Don’t worry, we’re not going to be covering all of that today.
But that’s sort of a panoramic view, if you will, of chapters 10-12.
The chapter divisions confuse us. Did you all know that the Holy Spirit did not put the chapter divisions in here. These were added by man and sometimes the chapter divisions are very helpful; other times I’m convinced that they cause confusion because they unnaturally bifurcate one chapter or one area of content from another. The way to think about chapters 10-12 is it’s all one package; it’s all one vision. Chapter 10 is a description of how the vision came to Daniel. Chapters 11 and 12 is all part of one vision; it’s God’s final word to Daniel about the future of the nation of Israel.
Notice, if you will, the setting, chapter 10 and verses 1-3. You’ll notice that we have the setting historically, verse 1, and then personally, verses 2 and 3. Notice what chapter 10 and verse 1 says. It says, “In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a message was revealed to Daniel, who was named Belteshazzar; and the message was true and one of great conflict, but he understood the message and had an understanding of the vision.”
Notice first of all in chapter 10 and verse 1, notice this reference to “Cyrus king of Persia.” When you look at the totality of the Book of Daniel, Cyrus the king of Persia would have been the fourth administration that Daniel had served under. You remember that he was taken as a mere teenager into Babylonian captivity and there he served under Nebuchadnezzar and later a king that is mentioned in chapter 5, Belshazzar. And then you will also recall that the Persians overthrew the Babylonians in Daniel 5. That’s the great [can’t understand word] politically and what Daniel discovered is he continued to serve under the Empire of Persia; he served under a king named Darius and he served under a king named Cyrus. And what did Daniel discover no matter what party was “in the White House” so to speak? God was faithful every step of the way.
Daniel 1:21 says, “And Daniel continued until the first year of Cyrus the king.” That’s back in chapter 1 and this is what we find being spoken of here in Daniel 10:1. See, a lot of people put limits on the faithfulness of God. God will be faithful to me as long as I have this health plan over here. God will be faithful to me as long as I have this retirement plan over there. God will be faithful to me as long as I have this job under this boss. But what happens when those things change? Those things can change, as we all know, living in a fallen world, in a nanosecond. Is God’s faithfulness somehow hindered by any of those things?
Many times we limit God but the reality of the situation is God is the same yesterday, today and forever. It is His nature. God will be faithful to you in good times and in bad times; in economic upturns and economic downturns, in seasons of health and in seasons of sickness. One of the things we discover about God as we walk with Him is His consistent faithfulness. And this is the record of Daniel and what Daniel experienced.
This chart here, I’ve referred to it many times, tells you what king is in power in what chapters and we find ourselves in chapters 10-12 where the king in power is Cyrus of Media-Persia.
We go on here in verse 1 and it actually gives you a date. It says, “In the third year of Cyrus, the king of Persia” this chart as we have referred to it many times tells you what year it is at any given time when a date is given in the Book of Daniel. As you can see from the chart many, many dates are given. We find ourselves there in chapter 10 and verse 1. This would be the third year of Cyrus. The date would be 536 B.C. This is the last and the final date given in the Book of Daniel, which means chapter 10, chapter 11 and chapter 12 all occur on one sitting. This was a vision that was singularly given to Daniel at a specific time in history and that’s why it’s a mistake to bifurcate this vision the way our chapter divisions in our Bibles unfortunately do.
Now this chart helps us because Daniel we know was taken into captivity as a mere teenager; he was most likely about the age of 15 when the events of chapter 1 unfold. And as you can see from this chart at this point in Daniel’s life he is in his mid 80’s.
Speaking of limiting God we oftentimes think that we’re too young to serve the Lord, or we’re too old to serve the Lord. The reality of the situation is the only issue with whether we’re going to serve the Lord or not is not so much our ability but our availability. God will use a very young person; He would use what we would consider chronologically anyway to be a very old person. That kind of thing is of no consequence to God.
Jeremiah, for example, chapter 1 and verses 6-7, it says, “Then I said, ‘Alas, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, because I am a youth.’  But the LORD said to me, ‘Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ because everywhere I send you, you shall go, and all that I command you, you shall speak.” God called Jeremiah and He didn’t really concern Himself with the chronological age of the prophet, just are you willing to fulfill the commission? Are you willing to fulfill the call that I have placed on your life.
1 Timothy 4:12, Paul, writing to a young struggling pastor named Timothy, wrote these words: “Let no one look down on your youthfulness, [but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.”] God uses very young people; He uses people that we would consider to be also older or advanced in years. How old is Daniel? Mid-80’s and yet God is still using him. How old was John when John received the vision on the island of Patmos? He was probably about the same age, mid to late 80’s, perhaps 90 years old. And yet these were the seasons in both Daniel’s life and John’s life where they received from God their greatest revelations.
The fact of the matter is as long as there is breath in your lungs and your heart is beating, no matter what your circumstances are God wants to use your life. And what we discover in the Bible is God many times saves the best for last. One of my heroes who has gone to be with the Lord recently is Dr. Tim LaHaye. Most people don’t know this but Dr. Tim LaHaye was voted by Wheaton College the most influential evangelical, even ahead of big names that you would think would have won that award, names like Billy Graham and others. And why is it that that college gave that particular award to Tim LaHaye? Because Tim LaHaye had an influence on not just one or two things but many things.
It’s Tim LaHaye that gave to Henry Morris the idea of starting a young earth creationism scientist ministry. It was Tim LaHaye who gave to the late Jerry Falwell the idea of Christian involvement in politics forming what they called in the 80’s the moral majority. It was Timothy LaHaye that would go around the country and do family ministries, ministering to families, revealing the biblical design for the family. It was Tim LaHaye that started the organization that I’m involved with to this day, I’m even on the board of this organization, The Pretribulational Rapture Study Group which meets every December in Dallas to study doctrines related to the end times.
And Tim LaHaye, I got to know him a little bit personally at his advanced age, probably could have rested on his laurels, thought about look what I’ve accomplished for God, but he didn’t do that. He continued to be that open pliable vessel to be used by God. And what came out of Timothy LaHaye’s life towards the end of his life was the Left Behind series, a series of fiction books giving to theology two people in a fiction book something that they would never read about in a systematic theology. And those books became a runaway best seller and best sellers and many, many people have the correct view, I believe, of end times theology because of their exposure to those books. And it is interesting to me that the Left Behind series, in my humble opinion, was probably one of the greatest things that happened, that God did through Tim LaHaye. And He did it in his advanced years. He did it in his advanced age.
And this is the kind of thing that we’re seeing with the prophet Daniel; as long as Daniel was alive, as long as there was blood coursing through his veins he never lost sight of the fact that he was the servant of God and God wanted to use him. And may we be like that as we continue to advance in years. May we always be open and pliable and flexible. I like the statement, “Blessed are the flexible for they shall never be broken.” I don’t think that’s in the Bible anywhere but it works with me. We’re so rigid many times and we limit what we think we can do. But the reality of the situation is God is the God of the impossible; He is infinite. And as long as we’re walking with Him, flexible, pliable, dependent, usable, God wants to use us every single day of our life, whether it be in youth, middle age or old age.
The fact of the matter is by the time we get to Daniel’s mid-80’s 536 B.C. the seventy year captivity has ended. In fact, this picture here is the Cyrus Cylinder, an archeological discovery recording the boasts of Cyrus and actually recording the verbiage that Cyrus used to release the children of Israel back to their homeland after the seventy year captivity had run its course. This is very interesting because in Isaiah 44:28 through the beginning of chapter 45 you will find the prophet Isaiah calling out Cyrus’s name, the deliverer of Israel, and he calls out that name 200 years in advance. [Isaiah 44:28, “”It is I who says of Cyrus, ‘He is My shepherd! And he will perform all My desire.’ And he declares of Jerusalem, ‘She will be built,’ And of the temple, ‘Your foundation will be laid.’”]
That is a startling prophecy. In fact, the liberals are so bothered by that they don’t think Isaiah even wrote that, it must have been someone they call Deutero Isaiah or Trito Isaiah. The problem is Jesus quotes those sections of Isaiah and attributes them to Isaiah. I don’t have a problem with believing it because God, as we have studied in the Book of Daniel, reveals the end from the beginning, the beginning from the end. God is not limited by time and space the way we are; He can see tomorrow as if it’s today, which is one of the great proofs that the Bible is God’s Word. Only in the Scripture can you receive and study prophecies of this minute detail. Nothing like this… I had some of them show up on my doorstep this week, nothing is like found like this in The Book of Mormon or in The Pearl of Great Price, or in The Doctrine of Covenants; nothing like this is found in The Quran, or the Hadith, or any other alleged holy book. Only in the Bible do you receive and can you see history before it happens.
You see, we look at Daniel 10:1 and we see this word “Cyrus” and we just sort of skip over it but the reality is God is the one that put Cyrus into existence, having called out his name 200 years before the man was even born. Do you realize how astounding that is? That would be like somebody standing up in 1776 and calling out the name Ronald Reagan and saying that Ronald Reagan is going to become President of the United States. And then all of a sudden history happens and what was said 200 years ago manifests itself. That is the equivalent of what you are seeing when you read this word “Cyrus” there in Daniel chapter 10 and verse 1. And by the way, Cyrus was an unbeliever. Isaiah 45:4 of Cyrus the prophet Isaiah says, as God is speaking through the prophet, “though I don’t know you.” [Isaiah 45:4, “For the sake of Jacob My servant, And Israel My chosen one, I have also called you by your name; I have given you a title of honor Though you have not known Me.”]
In other words, God can use a believer to do His will, He can use an unbeliever to do His will. He can use a Republican to do His will, and dare I even say it, [laughter] this is Texas, maybe I won’t say it, He can use the Green Party to do His will… there we go? God can use old people to do His will, young people to do His will. He can use a believer to do His will; He can use an unbeliever to do His will. In fact, I would submit to you this: The moment that Judas Iscariot, an unbeliever, made a decision to rebel against Christ, reject Christ, and betray Christ is the moment Judas Iscariot was fulfilling a script, even though Judas Iscariot made that decision on his own free will. This is the astonishment of this man Cyrus, called by name as the man who would release the children of Israel from the seventy year captivity. We know from history that the children of Israel went back into the land after the seventy year captivity in three waves; the first wave is recorded in the Book of Ezra, chapters 1-6. The second wave is recorded in the Book of Ezra, chapters 7-10. The last wave is recorded in the Book of Nehemiah.
So it is interesting that at this point in time, 536 B.C. the first return from the exile has transpired; the other two are yet future. And one of the things we might ask ourselves, and incidentally by the way, God deals in complete numbers, the deportation in the captivity, seventy years earlier, happened in three waves. Daniel, as we have explained, is taken in wave one, Ezekiel as we have explained was taken in wave two, and in wave three Nebuchadnezzar came and destroyed the city and the sanctuary. So just as the deportation happened in three parts, the return from exile happened in three parts. And by the time we get to 536 B.C. the first wave, in terms of the Jews going back into their land, had been accomplished. God, as Daniel and others were seeing, was faithful in every single thing He said He would do.
In fact, the prophet Jeremiah, in chapter 25 and verse 11 and chapter 29 and verse 10 says the captivity is going to last 70 years, not 68 years, not 83 years, but 70 years. [Jeremiah 25:11, “‘This whole land will be a desolation and a horror, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years.’” Jeremiah 19:10, “For thus says the LORD, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place.”’]
And isn’t it interesting that right on schedule the first return from the captivity and the deportation had happened, and Daniel is watching the faithfulness of God. He has seen the faithfulness of God all the way through his life, even to the point of being rescued in the lion’s den. And once again God shows up in time and history and does exactly what He said He would do.
Daniel, however, stays behind, continuing to serve in the administration of Cyrus of Persia. Why didn’t Daniel go back with everybody else? We don’t know. Perhaps it was his advanced age that prevented him from taking that 350 mile journey. Perhaps he took so seriously his role in Persia as a government administrator that he didn’t go back with everybody else. One of the things we learn about Daniel is his belief in Yahweh, his belief in God showed up, not just in what he said, not just in what he prophesied, but in his conduct on the job.
Does that describe you? Can people see your Christianity? Can people see my Christianity in terms of the daily circumstance God may have us in, in the family, in the educational system, in the career, in the job. Do they see a devotion to excellence, a devotion to service, or do they see complaining, backstabbing, backbiting, lackadaisical service, sloppiness. Those were not the kinds of things that Daniel exhibited and that may be why He didn’t return with everyone else. He took his job as a government administrator in Persia seriously.
It says, “In the third year of Cyrus, the King of Persia, a message was revealed to Daniel,” notice the word “Daniel.” The word “Daniel” shows up here in chapter 10, verse 2, verse 7, verse 10 and verse 12. [Daniel 10:2, “In those days, I, Daniel, had been mourning for three entire weeks.” Daniel 10:7, “Now I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, while the men who were with me did not see the vision; nevertheless, a great dread fell on them, and they ran away to hide themselves.” Daniel 10:11, “He said to me, ‘O Daniel, man of high esteem, understand the words that I am about to tell you and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you.”’  “Then he said to me, “Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words.”]
You say well Pastor, what’s your interpretation of that? Here’s my interpretation: Daniel wrote this section. Why is that a big deal? Because there are many, many people, as we have referenced many, many times throughout this series that really just can’t believe that Daniel could have received this information in 536 B.C. How could the things that he will describe in chapter 11 come to pass with such uncanny accuracy if Daniel knew these things 400 years before they happened. Certainly Daniel could not have received these things and known these things and written these things. And yet what is the text saying? Daniel, Daniel, Daniel, in fact, Jesus Himself quotes, as we have referenced, Daniel chapter 9 and then He attributes Daniel 9 to who? To Daniel.
You see, if you come at the Bible through a naturalistic angle you have no explanation for this and so you’re forced to rewrite it. I have no agenda to rewrite the Bible; in fact, I’m fearful of doing so. I want the Bible to speak and say what it naturally wants to say and what the Bible is saying is Daniel Himself received and wrote these things 400 years before they happened. He describes history in advance, as we’ll be studying in chapter 11, to pinpoint accuracy. No problem for me to believe that since God is omniscient which means all knowing.
[Daniel 10:1, “In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a message was revealed to Daniel,” now watch this, “who was named Belteshazzar; [and the message was true and one of great conflict, but he understood the message and had an understanding of the vision.]” Why was Daniel named Belteshazzar? Daniel is Daniel’s Hebrew name and when Nebuchadnezzar took Daniel and his friends into captivity, according to Daniel 1:6-7 he renamed all of those kids. Daniel 1:6-7, says, “Now among them from the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.” Those are their Jewish names, their Hebrew names.  “Then the commander of the officials assigned new names to them; and to Daniel he assigned the name Belteshazzar, to Hananiah Shadrach, to Mishael Meshach and to Azariah Abed-nego.”
What Nebuchadnezzar tried to do with these four youths is brainwash them, conform them, get them to capitulate to his value system at an early age. And may I just say to you, beloved, that is exactly what’s going on with you in your life and your mind and it’s exactly what’s going on with your children and it’s going on with your grandchildren. The world system is all about conformity, trying to shift your Bible based beliefs to its own value system. We see this playing out quite frequently, don’t we. What does the Bible say? Marriage is between one man to one woman for one life. I realize that when you make a statement like that today there are those that have fallen short of that standard but the reality of the situation is the standard is always the same. The grace of God is always available to anyone who falls short of God’s standard but the standard is not up for grabs. And isn’t it interesting how the world is perpetually exerting pressure on the life of the child of God to get them to think the way it thinks.
This is why Paul, in the New Testament, in the Book of Romans, chapter 12 and verse 2 says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” I like the Phillips translation here. Phillips translates this verse as follows, “Do not let the world squeeze you into its mold,” and that’s the great test that Daniel was under as a mere teenager. That’s why the name Belteshazzar, a remembrance of what had happened 70 years earlier is repeated here. And isn’t interesting that as Daniel walked throughout the course of his whole life he was never conformed and transformed to Nebuchadnezzar’s system. Nebuchadnezzar, you can name me whatever you want to name me, you can make me read whatever it is you are compelling me to read but the fact of the matter is I belong to Yahweh, I belong to God and I am not for sale.
And Daniel stood over and over again against the challenge of compromise and most of the time he did do he put his own life in jeopardy and yet God was faithful, faithful, faithful, faithful as a teenager, faithful in middle age, faithful in old age. And may we be those kind of people that when we reach those end years of our lives that we can look back and say you know what? It wasn’t a perfect life but I walked with God the whole way; His thoughts continue to be my thoughts. And how many people, Christians I’m talking about, get to the end and what you hear from people at the end of their lives? What do they say? What they always say is if I could do it all over again I would change this choice and I would change that choice. And many times they get to the end of their life, not with victory, not with ready to enter heaven with an expectation of being fully rewarded but with sorrow, with regret. Daniel didn’t have to do that because of daily choices that he made going right back to his youth.
You see, show me right now, as a Christian, the choices that you are making and I’ll show you exactly what you will be like in terms of your character five years from now, ten years from now, twenty years from now, forty, fifty years from now if the Lord tarries, because God is not mocked, what a man reaps he has already sown. And may we be the type of people that get to the very end and look back without any regrets because yes, the world system sought to conform us and transform us but we kept walking with God; we kept standing with God, no compromise. And so there’s a brief look backward to what Nebuchadnezzar sought to do and was unable to do in the life of Daniel.
You’ll notice it continues on here in verse 1 and it talks about this vision, this message that Daniel had received which is going to be described for us primarily in chapters 11 and 12 and this message is described through different descriptors. You’ll notice here in chapter 10, verse 1 the message is called true, the true message. […and the message was true] How is it that we can, in this age of propaganda receive the truth. Folks, there is only one place to receive the truth and that’s from God’s inerrant inspired Word. Your pastor can let you down; your elders can let you down, the media can let you down, the politicians can let you down, the educational system can let you down in terms of misleading you. But the reality of the situation is God breathed the Scripture into existence. And the Book of Hebrews tells us that it is impossible, not difficult, it is impossible for God to lie. [Hebrews 6:18, “so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.”]
John 1717, Jesus said, “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.” And that, of course, becomes the great calling on Christ’s church. Paul, in 1 Timothy 3:15 calls the church of the living God the pillar and the support of the truth. [1 Timothy 3:15, “but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.”]
What is the church? It’s the pillar of the church. What do you do with a pillar? You hold something up. The church, by the design of God is designed by God to be the one place you can go in a fallen world to receive uncompromised, unadulterated truth. Receiving truth is not always a pleasant thing to receive because sometimes the truth hurts. But what did Jesus say? “You shall know the truth and the truth shall” what? “set you free.” [John 8:32] And may Sugar Land Bible Church be like that; may the people who come here expect the truth and receive the truth in a non-adulterated non-compromised way.
So the message that you are about to receive, Daniel, is true. Now you’ll also notice there in verse 1 the words “understood” and “understand” or “understanding. The fact of the matter is what we believe God has done in the Scripture is He has spoken, He has revealed Himself and He has revealed himself in such a way that mere fallen people who are reading His Word, respecting the laws of language under the illumination of the Holy Spirit can understand exactly what God says. We call this doctrine in theology the perspicuity of the Scripture, the clarity of the Scripture. In other words, when God speaks God is meant to be understood.
I am not exactly what you would call a card carrying member of the R.C. Sproul fan club (for a lot of reasons) but I love the statement that he makes here on the doctrine of the Scripture. He says, The reformers had “total confidence in what is called the perspicuity of Scripture…the clarity of Scripture. They maintained that the Bible is basically clear and lucid. It is simple enough for any literate person to understand its basic message…What kind of God would reveal his love and redemption in terms so technical and concepts so profound that only an elite corps of professional scholars could understand them?…” “Biblical Christianity is not so esoteric a religion. Its content is not concealed in vague symbols that require some sort of special ‘insight’ to grasp. There is no special prowess or pneumatic gift that is necessary to understand the basic message of Scripture … The Bible speaks of God in meaningful patterns of speech. Some of those patterns may be more difficult than others,”
Amen, Peter himself confessed to this in 2 Peter 3:16 when Peter says you know, some of the things Paul says are hard to understand. [2 Peter 3:16, “as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.”] I feel better having him said that. He doesn’t say everything Paul says is hard to understand, some of the things Paul says are hard to understand. And he doesn’t say impossible to understand. Some things in the Bible require a little bit more digging, a little bit more perspiration to get to what the actual message is but that doesn’t change the fact that the basic message of Scripture is clear to all.
Sproul says, “but they are not meant to be nonsense statements that only a guru can fathom.” [Knowing Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: Inter Varsity Press, 1977), 15-17.]
Henry Morris said in his book, The Revelation Record, writes this: “It must be stressed that Revelation means ‘unveiling,’ not ‘veiling.’ In the absence of any statement in the text to the contrary, therefore, we must assume that the term Babylon applies to the real city of Babylon…”
Now you might not agree with that and that’s okay, we’re not getting into that subject today. What I want to get into is the first part of this statement where he says the Book of Revelation was not written to conceal or to fool people. Many, many people think the Book of Revelation is so symbolic you can’t understand it; the Book of Daniel is so symbolic you can’t understand it. The Old Testament and the New Testament was written so long ago you can’t understand what’s being said. That would be a denial of the perspicuity or the clarity of the Scripture.
Notice again chapter 10, verse 1, “He” Daniel “understood the message and had an understanding of the vision.” We have emerged, haven’t we, from the study of the Seventy Weeks Prophecy. Many people argue that the Seventy Weeks Prophecy is probably the most difficult prophecy in the whole Bible to understand, yet have you read what Jesus said about that prophecy? In Matthew 24:15 He quoted part of that prophecy and in the process you have this parenthetical statement, “Let the reader understand.” [Matthew 24:15, “”Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand)”]
You may not know everything there is to know (nor do I) about every little nook and cranny of the Bible but the basic clarity of the Bible, the basic perspicuity of the Bible is all there. And I think many, many people use a lack of clarity as an excuse to cloak their unbelief. The problem with people is they read something in the Bible and they say well, I don’t believe that part. But they won’t come out and say that, they just say the Bible is not clear on that point. And what has happened is a lack of clarity has been used as a smoke screen to hide a sin taking place in the human heart. The ultimate sin, really, that you can commit against God, the sin of unbelief, because “without faith it is” what? “impossible to please God.”
Notice also chapter 10, verse 1, you see the expression, “the great conflict”? “…the message was true and one of great conflict,” this vision that we will be embarking on is a story of conflict before the resolution. It’s a story of the devil himself coming against God’s people, coming against the chosen people, coming against the nation of Israel until finally the conflict is going to be resolved and the kingdom of God breaks forth on planet earth.
And speaking of this issue of conflict, that’s why I’ve entitled this The Invisible War, there is a great conflict that Daniel is going through right now. His prayer is not answered for 21 days, as we will see. Why 21 days? Because of a spiritual conflict in the heavenlies between the angel dispatched from heaven to give Daniel this vision and a fallen demon, perhaps Satan himself, hovering over the empire of Persia, interestingly enough what’s the modern day nation that we call Persia in the Bible? Iran. Maybe that’s the problem with Iran. Maybe this is demonic. Maybe that spirit that thwarted the vision coming to Daniel is still there wreaking havoc. And when you understand things like that you start to understand why God tells us to pray for people in government because of the reality of the spiritual conflict. People in government do some of the most irrational things I’ve ever seen. It makes no sense in anybody’s frame of reference to run up 21 trillion dollars in red ink. It makes no sense at all unless we understand that they’re doing something irrational because of the presence of demons themselves. That helps us understand that we should be in prayer for such people, in intercession.
Let me ask you a question: in your Christian life, looking at the state of the United States of America, do you do more time complaining or praying? Do you do more time protesting or interceding? I have to confess that many times in my life I’ve been guilty of leaving the place of power, which is prayer, and resorting to other things in their place, not that those other things, activism, registering complaints, organizing, not that those things don’t have their place, they do have a place, I preach from this pulpit that they do have a place but I’m sometimes wondering if the body of Christ in America has used those things as a substitute for the ultimate weapon that we do have, which is prayer.
Conflict before the kingdom… let me let you in on something. The moment you step out and you desire to be used by God in any way is the moment you will experience conflict. You will experience conflict sometimes from your own family. You will experience conflict, God forbid, sometimes from your own church. You will experience conflict sometimes from the religious crowd out there. In fact, who was Jesus always in conflict with? It was not the sinners being saved; it was with these religious ecclesiastical authorities, the Sadducees, the Pharisees, conflict goes with the territory. Daniel is in prayer for three weeks and there’s a conflict going on before that prayer is answered. The whole vision is about a conflict that the nation of Israel is going to go through until the manifestation of the kingdom.
And let me tell you something about Satan; he can wreak all kinds of problems in your life. Paul, in the Book of 1 Thessalonians, chapter 2 and verse 18, says, “For we wanted to come to you– I, Paul, more than once– and yet Satan hindered us.” I stepped out to do something good for God and I was blocked over here. Then I went this direction and tried to do something good for God and I was blocked over there. And I was blocked this way, and I was blocked that way and every step of the way Satan put up a road block, and another road block, and another road block. And most Christians going through those road blocks would say well, I guess I’m outside the will of God. Let me tell you something, the road blocks may be indicative that you’re right in the will of God because conflict comes before the crown. Conflicts come before the kingdom. And praise the Lord, we made it through verse 1. [Laughter] Seeking verses 2 and 3 and beyond next week.
But the reality of the situation is a person could be here today, going through great struggles in their life, going through great conflicts, and the reason those conflicts are going on is God has allowed them to happen so that the lost person would seek God. Through these conflicts God wants us all to understand that we, in our humanness are not the answer to our problems. God is. If you’re going through conflict as a Christian now is your opportunity to trust God for the answer because that’s the only way out. And if you’re orchestrated here because of conflict, because of circumstances beyond your control and you don’t know Christ personally let me let you in on this too, that’s the great move of God in your life to direct you to Himself. How does a lost sinner become directed to God? How does a lost sinner enter into a relationship with God? How does a lost sinner receive the resources of God which will enable him to navigate the way through various conflicts in a fallen world? We call this the gospel; the gospel means good news.
We call it good news because Jesus did the work; He died in our place, He suffered an agonizing death on the cross to bear a sin debt that we could never pay for. He bodily rose from the dead to authenticate exactly who He said He would be. He did everything within His power, as we celebrated this morning at the communion table, to bridge the gap between a Holy God and sinful man. In fact, His final word on the cross in Greek it tetelestai, which means it is finished. There’s nothing else to do other than to receive what He has done as a free gift on your behalf.
And therefore it is incumbent upon, it is the responsibility of the sinner to believe. That’s the only thing God requires of the lost sinner. The onus is now on them. Jesus, in John 3:18 says, “He who believes in Him is not judged, but he who does not believe has been judged already because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” Do you believe? Do you trust in what I’ve done? I’ve done the work, now it’s your responsibility to trust in what He, Jesus Christ, has done for you. And whether you do that or not is your call. The Spirit of God has come into the world to convict the world of their need to do this and what John 3:18 says, if a lost sinner has not done this not that they will be condemned, they already are condemned. The condemnation of God rests over such a person, it’s just that the sentence hasn’t been executed yet.
Every person that has not trusted in the provision of Jesus Christ as I speak is under the condemnation of God. And yet how that can change in a moment by trusting, not yourself, trusting not your own denomination, trusting not your good works, but trusting in what Jesus did for you. The story of the Bible is not what man does for God, it’s what God has done for man. The story of the Bible is not us reaching up to God; it’s God reaching down to us in the person of Jesus Christ through a free gift which can only be accessed by way of faith. And praise the Lord for those that have trusted in it but woe to the person, persons, who have not, already as I speak under God’s condemnation simply waiting for the judgment to fall like the sword of Damocles hanging over a person’s head.
This isn’t my philosophy here today folks; I hope it’s never my philosophy. This isn’t how I would do things if I were in charge; I’m not in charge, I’m just a messenger trying to describe the best I can what God’s Word in its perspicuity in what its clarity says. All that to say our exhortation to you here at Sugar Land Bible Church, even people listening online by way of the Internet and other venues, we plead with you, we exhort you, if the Spirit is convicting you to trust in what Jesus Christ has done for you. And the moment that happens, which can happen in a nanosecond, your whole position changes. You move away from being an enemy of God, as Alex explained this morning, to becoming a child of God and now Romans 8:1 says, “There is no condemnation for those that are in Christ Jesus.” Trusting Christ is something you can do right now as I’m speaking. It’s not necessary that you join a church, raise a hand, walk an aisle, give money to do this; it’s a matter of privacy between you and the Lord. If it’s something that you have question marks on or need more explanation of I’m available after the service to talk. Shall we pray.
Father, we are grateful for the Book of Daniel and the invisible war that it is going to reveal to us. Help us to grow in this area of spiritual warfare, spiritual combat as we walk with You this week and learn more and more truths about this important topic in our walk with you in these last days. We will be careful to give you all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said… Amen.