Living in the Lion’s Den: The People of God in Exile
Today's Text: Daniel 7:1-28
Daniel gives these incredible insights as to how we can live in a post-Christian culture, a secular age that wants to push a Biblical Worldview to the margins, if not completely out of the picture. So far, our sermons in the Daniel series can be succinctly stated:
Jer. 29:1-14 – Live your life
Dan. 1:1-7 – Stamp your child
Dan. 1:1-7 – Draw your line
Dan. 1:8-21 – Stand your ground
Dan. 1:8-21 – Love your people
Dan. 2:1-23 - Face your crisis
Dan. 2:24-49 - Know your prophecy
Dan. 3:1-30 - Trust your Savior
Dan. 3:1-30 - Understand your culture
Dan. 4:1-37 – Guard your mind
Dan. 4:1-37 – Surrender your pride
Dan. 5:1-31 - Honor your God
Dan. 6:1-28 – Remember your home:
Dan. 6:1-28 – Show your loyalty:
Dan. 6:1-28 – Embrace your leadership:
Dan. 6:1-28 – Check your attitude:
Dan. 6:1-28 – Maintain your integrity:
Dan. 6:1-28 - Establish your consistency:
Dan. 6:1-28 – Welcome your humility:
Dan. 6:1-28 – Seal your legacy:
Dan. 7:1-28 - Quiet your panic:
Dan. 7:1-28 – Resist your (rogue) government:
Dan. 7:1-28 – Worship your God:
Dan. 7:1-28 – Protect your space:
Dan. 7:1-28 - Define your reset:
Dan. 8:1-27 - Improve your serve:
The Passage Contents - Daniel 8
Living in the Lion’s Den: The People of God in Exile.
To sum up Daniel 8: A goat (Alexander) fights a ram (Darius). It’s very violent. The goat wins. The goat’s single horn is broken and is replaced by four horns. From one of the four horns, a small horn sprouts and assumes god-like proportions. And this "small horn" that grows represents a leader that hated the Lord’s people.
How can we relate to visions of animals that represent nations and kingdoms of long ago? And what are we to think of little horns that rise up to destroy other horns? This is great prophecy. It was 200 years in the future for Daniel, but it’s now history for us. And we wonder if any of this can be practical and applicational.
Today, we focus on Alexander the Great. He was into "empire building". But is this how we should go about trying to be truly great? What is true greatness? We want to be significant and shown to have value. We crave acceptance. Every single one of us, whether we’re consciously aware of it or not, has a deep desire to leave this life and be able to look back and state, “I’m leaving this to the world.” “This is my legacy and my contribution.” “This is why I was here.” Each of us wants future generations to be able to say, “Wow, she was here; and she left the world a better place because of the life she lived.”
Here are the 4 Ps we tend to use to measure greatness here in our world: Power- A person’s greatness is measured by the things that they have the ability to control. Prestige- A person’s greatness is measured by the accolades / reputation that they receive. Position- A person’s greatness is measured by where they are in life. Possessions- A person’s greatness is measured by the things that they own. People think greatness is power, status, and wealth, and when that doesn’t happen, can they still be great? Princes and potentates, conquerors and leaders of armies, statesmen and philosophers, artists and authors–these are the kind of men or women whom the world calls “great.”
True greatness is not found in a petty spirit or empire building. “Whoever wants to be great must become a servant.” "Greatness" in a phrase is "self-sacrificial love". We become great by honoring the greatness in everyone else by serving them. It is the thousands of little deeds and tasks of service and sacrifice that constitute the giving or losing of one’s life for others and for the Lord. If you really want to be something then you must become nothing. If you want to go up in life then you must learn to come down. If you want more of God then there must be less of you. Selfish people can succeed. But you must serve something bigger than yourself to be great. You can gauge how far along you are in developing a servant’s heart by taking note of how you respond when someone treats you like a servant. When feelings of resentment, bitterness, or anger emerge when our acts of kindness seem unappreciated that is a good indicator that we still have a way to go in our pursuit of true greatness.
We want a life that matters. We want a life that means something. We want a life that makes a difference. The question is, “How?” How do we live a life that matters? Why do we miss it? Selfishness has us turned in on ourselves. Setbacks have us distracted. To be sure, living a life of significance will involve setbacks. The end result may not always be clearly visible, but it seems that it always requires regular, consistent, small, and sometimes ordinary and mundane steps over a long period of time. These things do not usually receive the attention or the adulation of the world. And the truly great aren’t really concerned about being great – rather it’s about honoring God with their life in small ways. Here there is such rest in the humble service of others, no longer jockeying for power, obsessing over our reputation, and constantly comparing ourselves with others. If we want to live a life that matters, we must sacrifice, suffer, submit and serve. We don’t like those words, because they seem to be steps down to obscurity, but in Christ’s Kingdom they are steps to true greatness.
Jesus sacrificed all the 4 Ps (Power, Prestige, Possessions & Position) given in heaven for life on earth so that we can be with Him. He gave up the praise of the angels to hear the insults of sinful men. Jesus gave up the position in heaven to take up a position on the cross. And lastly, He wasn’t only betrayed by Judas, Peter betrayed him too and even the rest of his disciples during his darkest hour. Self-sacrificial love is the way forward to be truly great. And you can only do that with Christ dwelling inside your life. Why don't you receive Him today?
[One thing to watch for in the message is the comparison between Alexander the Great AND Jesus the Humble. This will demonstrate further what servant-leadership really is.]