Stones Hill Community Church
Living in the Lion's Den: The People of God in Exile
What is happening to our world? You and I are witnessing at warp speed the devolution of a nation. If things move toward a “post-Christian nation” and some are now arguing that this is the case, then how should the people of God operate when relegated to the cultural margins? What is the way forward in a hostile world? Welcome to the Old Testament book of Daniel!
Locations & Times
  • Ligonier, IN
    151 W Stones Hill Rd, Ligonier, IN 46767, USA
    Saturday 4:00 PM
We welcome you to Stone's Hill today!

A typical Stone's Hill service has:

* music (so feel free to sing out);

* some announcements (things that are upcoming that you can be a part of);

* a message out of the Bible (God speaks to us through his Word);

* and an opportunity for you to respond to the message (either immediately in the case of a decision that needs to be made OR in the future as you live out the message in your daily life.)

So relax and enjoy your morning! We're so glad you are here!

Overview of the Book of Daniel

By the Bible Project

The Way of the Exile

By the Bible Project

Living in the Lion's Den: The People of God in Exile

PowerPoint Message Slides
Living in the Lion's Den: The People of God in Exile
Post-Christian Culture
It has been said that our world is becoming a “post-Christian” world. Post means after. Christian means an era of time when Christ and His teachings were a dominant influence in society. Culture means the way we think and value things. This means that, over the course of recent generations, there has been an observed decline in the Church’s influence in society. In a post-Christian culture, the dominant worldview is no longer founded on Christian principles — or at least we can no longer assume that they will be.

As the church enters this time of exile from the center to the margins, we must have a vision through the unique challenges that are presented. As a Christian, in a hostile environment where the dominant values run counter to one’s own, you now experience exile while you REMAIN in your homeland. Just demonstrate that you are unwilling to conform to the tyranny of majority opinion, and you’ll know exile while still at home – forced removals, cancellations, disenfranchisement, job losses.

The Way Forward
What is the way forward in a hostile world? Discerning the meaning of the present moment requires sobriety for no one knows how hostile it may become. Eventually, a post-Christian society moves from assuming Christian values to ignoring them, to resenting them, to repressing them, and eventually to persecuting them. What was once Christian and is now post-Christian will eventually become anti-Christian, led by those who actively destroy it.

Strangers, Aliens, Exiles
God’s people do their best work when in exile. We always have. Exile infuses communities with new creative energy that rises to meet the challenges of new cultural circumstances. The way forward is to look around and understand our context, to look back and gather the resources the Word affords to us, and then to look forward with a clear vision of how we can function as the Lord’s people in a time of contemporary exile.

That’s why we have transitioned to “A Biblical Worldview Church.” It’s a vision for how to do life in cultural exile and it empowers you to come together with a game plan that will prepare your family to live in this world rather than just integrate with dominant culture. It’s the local church that can form a vibrant counterculture.

Exiles on Assignment
How do we build biblical worldview communities within our condition of internal exile, and under increasingly hostile conditions? Can we live with joy and confidence though marginalized? If you’re caught between a host empire you cannot embrace and a church that has no worldview mission, where do you go?

For much of recent history individuals and Biblical Worldview institutions could plan, execute, and flourish with their visions of a better world. That may no longer be the case in a few years. But don’t despair. For in the midst of the chaos of a crisis comes opportunity. The history of the church tells us that crisis always precedes renewal, and the framework of renewal offers us new ways forward. A Non-Anxious Presence shows how that renewal happens and offers churches and leaders strategic ways to awaken the Church and see our culture changed for Christ.

The question is: How? How can we engage a post-Christian society? How can we influence a culture which is desperate to press you into it’s mold? This is not to say that God isn’t at work in dominant culture. He has his “Daniel’s” strategically placed to do His bidding in the “Babylon’s” of the world. There are others who are being prepared to become “Esthers” (in Persia) and “Jonahs” (in Ninevah) and “Josephs” (in Egypt) – those who bring a biblical worldview to the culture, but within the culture itself.

So our primary job is not to make everything “Christian” in culture. Our job is to live out a Biblical Worldview wherever we find ourselves and bear witness to the truth. But, there’s no room for neutrality. The corrosive soil and polluted air of a secular worldview will have to be breathed by your children. You will face marginalization for living out a Biblical Worldview.

Living in the Lion’s Den: The People of God in Exile
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:
Dan. 8:1-27 - Continue your faithfulness:
Dan. 9:1-23 - Own your mess:
Dan. 9:24-27 - Strengthen your (prophetic) backbone:

The Passage Contents - Daniel 9
Living in the Lion’s Den: The People of God in Exile.
Though the Bible is not a “Farmer’s Almanac,” it is not just a hodgepodge of apocalyptic drama either. Its prophecies have a neatly programmed calendar, set on a countdown schedule. God’s calendar for the nation of Israel is precise. We have been entrusted with it. It’s like a family secret, and only those in the family know about it. We are living in the “times of the Gentiles” when the nations of the world have authority over Israel. It started with the head of gold in 605 BC when Daniel went into Babylonian Captivity. Gentile domination will end at some point in the future when the uncut stone of Daniel 2 shatters the empires of man. But for now, they rule under the sovereign hand of God.
Daniel 9 and 70 Years of Captivity
Daniel accurately predicted the rise and fall of four world empires. And he did so vividly. In Daniel 9, we have no brilliant metal statues or menagerie of animals rising out of a sea or rams and goats being violent with each other - as in the previous visions. Rather than beasts or monsters, the people of God must now face ‘seventy sevens’. Seventy units of seven.
The seventy years of exile are drawing to a close but God’s purposes for his people involve seventy sevens before they reach completion. Daniel is thinking, “Lord, seventy years and it will all be over.” And God is saying to him, “No, seventy times seven, seventy sevens.” The restoration to the land will not bring in the restoration of all things. The kingdom of God will not immediately appear and you must prepare for ‘a long obedience in the same direction’.
God's Plan for Israel - A Family Secret
God’s theocratic intentions to rule the world through a repentant Israel would not happen anytime soon. But eventually, it will. Shhhh. It’s a family secret. You have the ethnic nation of Israel and then you have the spiritual church. The church is comprised of all those who receive Christ – it’s Christ in you as a Gentile (in other words, you don't have to be Jewish, though Jewish people can be a part of the church). Why does the NT call this a mystery and why does the OT not talk about the church age? If they had known it, it would have always been Israel’s excuse; "we had to reject God and His Messiah so that the church age could happen." They didn’t know or prophesy about it and thus there was no excuses for their rejection.
So, Daniel, “Things must run their course. You are called to a long obedience.” The Jewish people will be sustained even in distressing times; and the great hater of God’s people sits in the Lord’s cross-hairs with the date of his demise clearly marked on God’s calendar. Sixty–nine of Daniel’s “sevens” have already passed, and the final “seven” is yet to be fulfilled. Israel's time of exile under Babylon had been 70 years, but more time was needed for the "Times of the Gentiles" to run its course before Israel's final restoration would be complete. This would take 70 “weeks” or 70 “sevens”.
The Backbone of Biblical Prophecy
Sir Isaac Newton once said, quote: “We could stake the truth of Christianity on this prophecy alone, made five centuries before Christ.” Daniel 9:24-27 is a “backbone” prophecy, comprehensive, yet concise, that is, a prophecy that provides a time framework to which most other prophecies can be attached. We’re going to take our time so that you can understand the fullness of all the Spirit of God is saying.
The first part of Daniel 9 dealt with Daniel's prayer of repentance in response to his discovery in Jeremiah's writings that the time in exile would be seventy years. In view of his prayer, God was pleased to reveal even more to Daniel: Gabriel was dispatched by God to… reveal God’s program for His people until its consummation in the covenanted kingdom under Israel’s Messiah. Gabriel apparently suggests that the end of the seventy-year exile begins a process, one that will last for seventy “sevens,” or weeks of years—usually understood as 490 years.
You have three segments to this period of time. First, there’s a seven-units of seven period (a week); then there’s a 62-units of sevens (weeks) period; and then there’s a final seven-week period. Why not say 490 years? Because there is a potential gap of time in between the segments – things that would stop the clock for Israel, even though time marches on for world history. What starts the time clock for God’s future plan for Israel? When Nehemiah received the decree to rebuild Jerusalem. Once a homeland is lost, those people hardly ever return and get their land back. One exception: Israel.
Three practical THINGS that comes out of all this for you and me today… (with help from Heitzig)
Prayer. This is an answer to prayer. This is what happens when you pray. Daniel's prayer, though it looks long to read, only takes three minutes to read, three minutes. Have you ever gotten up in the morning and say, "I don't have much time to pray; I've only got five minutes"? "Okay." "Well, that's not long enough." "Why?" "Well, because the devil keeps reminding me I have to be on my knees five hours for it to really be worth something." Just take those five minutes; this was three minutes. He didn't even finish the prayer, didn't even say amen, and he got more than he could handle. Use that time and engage with God—prayer. Daniel prays to God, who in response sends an angel with his answer. In the next chapter we will see that these angels, even as they come with answers to prayer, are involved in a conflict with other supernatural powers

Second thing that shows me is providence. You've heard that term, "the providence of God"? God moves history, God moves circumstances—supernaturally; naturally, using the natural world. The best definition I've ever heard of providence is "it's the hand of God and the glove of circumstance." God moves the players throughout history on his chessboard to get his will done. So people like Titus, Vespasian, Artaxerxes Longimanus, Cyrus, etcetera, they might be powerful rulers, but they're pawns on God's chessboard. He moves them around to get his stuff done. He's in charge here. Although God works according to his own timetable, he nevertheless also works through people.

Prayer, providence; number three, precision. Precision. I have a question for you: The God who can make these kind of accurate, precise predictions about the Jewish people and the coming of the Messiah and his death, can you trust your life to him? Will you entrust your future, your family, your ambitions to this kind of precise God? That's what he's calling us to do.

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