Continuing in our series Daniel: God’s Ally, Geoff spoke this week from Daniel 4.
Don’t shoot the messenger has been a long theme throughout human history from ancient Greek times to Shakespeare through world wars and conflicts. The idea that when someone tells you something you don’t want to hear, you take your anger out on them! Even if it’s not their message.
Don’t shoot the messenger has been a long theme throughout the Bible as well. Because God is still sending messengers.
What did allegiance to God look like in Daniel’s life in the Bible. Throughout Daniel’s life how did he show himself to be God’s Ally? And what can we learn from Daniel’s life in how we show allegiance to God today?
Today we’re focussing on Daniel 4, the whole chapter. Which is an account of a story in Daniel’s life, set in the royal courts of King Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon around 600 years before Jesus was born. You may remember that Daniel was born an Israelite, but when Babylon overthrew Israel, Daniel and others were taken away into exile. To live in exile means to be forcibly taken away from your homeland and made to live elsewhere. They were captives, being forced to forget their homeland, forget God, to assimilate into the culture, to become Babylonians in every way, and ultimately to betray God.
Daniel was given a new name, and not just a random name, a pagan name, a name that meant Bel (a false God) is my protector. He was probably castrated. And was made to study all of the arts, science, spiritual life and magic of the Babylonians.
The amazing thing is, throughout Daniel’s life he still maintained his allegiance to God. We’ve heard about how Daniel and his friends refused the diet offered to them. We’ve heard about how they refused to bow down to an idol. And we’ll hear later about how Daniel continued to pray to God.
In every other way Daniel assimilated into the culture. He was an exemplary Babylonian citizen, and a high court official to a number of Babylonian kings as they lived and died during his lifetime. BUT he was still God’s Ally.
How can you be God’s Ally in your office?
How can you be God’s Ally at a party?
How can you be God’s Ally in your street?
In Chapter 4 King Nebuchadnezzar is writing a letter to all of his subjects – the entire empire – telling them about the one true God. He has met God, he’s become an ally of God. And so he writes a letter telling everyone who knew him before how things have changed. He’s telling his testimony.
Like you do. You meet someone you knew from your past and you tell them how and why you’ve changed. You know what my life used to be like? Well I met God, well I read something in the Bible, well I went to church, well someone prayed for me, well this happened. And now…
That’s what King Nebuchadnezzar is doing. He’s sharing his testimony of how he became God’s Ally.
Rather than read the many verses I’ll tell you the story and you can follow along in your Bible from Daniel chapter 4.
Verse 4. Everything was going well for King Nebuchadnezzar, then he had a dream which terrified him. None of his advisors, magicians, enchanters or astrologers could tell him what the dream meant. This is similar to chapter 2 which Clint spoke on a couple of weeks ago. But this time the king decided to tell them his dream rather than ask them to reveal it themselves. He was terrified and he just wanted an interpretation.
Finally Daniel comes in after everyone else has failed, and the king tells him the dream as well.
Verse 10. In the dream there is a great tree, and it is magnificent and animals find shade in it, and everything is going well for the tree. Then someone from heaven comes down and gives an instruction about chopping the tree down. One of the key verses is this instruction, or prophecy is in 4:15b-17a
“Now let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him live with the wild animals among the plants of the field. For seven periods of time, let him have the mind of a wild animal instead of the mind of a human.
For this has been decreed by the messengers; it is commanded by the holy ones, so that everyone may know that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world.”
Verse 18. Now Daniel freaks out. God reveals to him the meaning of the dream, but he is overcome with fear and doesn’t want to give the interpretation.
Sometimes God will lead you to speak, and you won’t want to. You know you should speak up, speak out, tell the truth, but you don’t want to. You have a prophecy from God. You know the interpretation of a dream. You understand why something is happening. But you’re afraid of what people will say. You’re afraid of their reaction. You’re afraid of what people will think.
Daniel is freaking out because he knows what he needs to say, but he doesn’t know how it will be received.
Verse 19. Daniel is incredibly gracious, respectful and loving to the king. The interpretation he is about to give is heavy. But he delivers it so well. 4:19b
“I wish the events foreshadowed in this dream would happen to your enemies, my lord, and not to you!”
He honours the king, even the pagan king, and speaks respectfully.
The interpretation is that Nebuchadnezzar is the tree. He has grown big and strong. But God is saying that Nebuchadnezzar will be cut down, he will be removed from his throne. He will even live with wild animals for a while and lose his mind for seven periods of time. BUT he will also have his kingdom restored when he learns that heaven rules.
You won’t always know what response you’ll get from speaking the truth. You won’t always know how people are going to react, but your responsibility, when God prompts you to speak, is to speak!
When you’re the messenger like Daniel, all you have to do is speak, and trust God with the rest.
Daniel can’t control Nebuchadnezzar’s response. He is just the messenger. He has to trust God.
And Nebuchadnezzar has to hear from God directly to accept the message, and respond as God wants him to.
When you speak the truth to someone, you are not responsible for how they respond. You are responsible for speaking the truth, as well as you can.
- Don’t conjure up a message. Let God speak, you make sure you’re listening. This is not about your opinions, your preference or your culture.
- Don’t complicate. Your job just is just to speak. Not to interpret or control.
- Be respectful, loving, honouring. Have their best in mind.
- Don’t worry about getting it wrong. This is a learning thing. When you can freely share something without hanging on to it, and without putting yourself into it, you will learn over time to be more and more accurate with being God’s messenger. LOVE COMES BEFORE ACCURACY.
1 Peter 4:11 NIV
If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God.
You might get it wrong sometimes. Don’t over interpret, over guess, add things in. Just say what you know, what you think, what you see, what you feel from God. And leave it up to them. Be respectful and honouring like Daniel was. If you are respectful and honouring, it has much less impact if you get it wrong while you’re learning to hear God’s voice. But if you’re respectful and honouring, it doesn’t lose any impact because it’s God’s message anyway.
What’s your job?
Has God given you a dream you think might be for someone else? Tell them.
Has God given you a verse to encourage someone? Pass it on.
Has God given you a strange random task to do that seems like a waste of time? Do it anyway.
Daniel 4:28. All these things did happen to King Nebuchadnezzar. A year later he was proudly looking out over his kingdom when a voice came from heaven and within an hour he’d lost his mind and was out in the bush living like an animal. From emperor of the greatest nation on earth to living like a cow…in an hour.
In Daniel chapter 4, after the seven seasons have passed, Nebuchadnezzar regains his sanity and recognises God for who he is, God of the whole universe and over his whole kingdom. Nebuchadnezzar recognises God, gives honour to him, and becomes his Ally.
When you’re on the other side and you hear from someone, let God confirm it and lead you to respond. Hold it with open hands. God, this person said this, they thought it was from you, what do you say about it. And God can confirm, adjust or deny it. But often, so often, as we speak the truth, God will confirm things even straight away in our spirit.
- Don’t quench the Spirit, but listen to the message.
- Test the message on Scripture and the person of Jesus. From what I know of Jesus, of God, would he say this? Does it line up with everything else he’s said.
- Listen and wait on God.
- Look for the fruit over time, and you’ll learn to know God’s voice.
1 John 4:1
Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world.
Nebuchadnezzar became God’s ally because Daniel was God’s ally first. Because Daniel spoke the truth that God had revealed to him.
When God’s truth is spoken and responded to, this is the response, Daniel 4:37
“Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and glorify and honour the King of heaven. All his acts are just and true, and he is able to humble the proud.”
God is still speaking. He’s looking for messengers. He’s looking for allies.
Just as God was in Daniel’s day, he’s looking for allies in schools, in offices, in trucks, in kitchens, in backyards, in cafe’s, in Cairns.
God is still sending messages. God is still looking for allies.
Will you be a messenger? Will you test messages? Will you be God’s ally?