Daniel 12

You Will Rise Again.

“As for you, go your way until the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days, you will rise again to receive the inheritance set aside for you.” – Daniel 12:13 NLT

This is it – the final chapter in this amazing book – and it closes with a glimpse into the distant future. God gives Daniel a view of what is yet to come. While much of what He revealed to Daniel in chapter 11 had to do with Antiochus Epiphanes and events that have already taken place, chapter 12 contains details about events that have yet to take place – even in our day. They most likely refer to the like seven year period – part of God’s 70 sevens (chapter 9). God is revealing to Daniel the final phase of history before Christ returns to the earth. He refers to it as a period of unparalleled persecution of the people of God – the Jews. “Then there will be a time of anguish greater than any since nations first came into existence” (Daniel 12:1 NLT). “When the shattering of the holy people has finally come to an end, all these things will have happened” (Daniel 12:7 NLT). This all seems to be pointing to the Tribulation, the seven year period of time right before the Second Coming of the Lord. It will be marked by intense persecution of the Jews because of the rise of the Antichrist – a powerful political figure who will make the exploits of Antiochus Epiphanes pale in comparison.

Daniel is given some shocking news that would have been difficult for even him to understand. He has watched his people suffer through exile for almost 70 years and now he is told that their persecution will last until the end of time. It will not get any better. While they were returning to the land of Israel even as Daniel was receiving this final prophecy, they would still end up scattered all across the planet in the years to come. Wars, persecutions, and countless attempts to exterminate the Jews over the centuries have left them a shell of what they once were. And while the occupy part of the original Promised Land today, they remain under constant attack, with other nations intent on their annihilation. But God is not done. He is not finished with His people. Their suffering will continue, but there is a day coming when He will restore them. There is one last great tribulation, but then His Son will return. There is hope. There is a happy ending to this story, because God has written it and He will fulfill it. So the angel tells Daniel to “go your way until the end.” He gives Daniel an incredible assurance that all will work out, including Daniel’s own resurrection to new life in Christ’s future kingdom. Daniel will die, but he will rise again, so that he can spend eternity with the God in whom he had placed his hope and trust all those years living in captivity in Babylon. Daniel could rest knowing that God was going to faithfully complete what He had promised to do. And we can rest in that same promise.

Father, we tend to look at time in short segments, forgetting that You exist outside of time. You are not limited by time. You are eternal and so to You, past, present and future are all one and the same. To you, the life of Daniel is not ancient history, but as vivid as if it was happening right now. You can see the future like it is taking place at this very moment. I don’t fully understand it all, but I am so glad that the future is not a mystery to You. It is as clear as the last 60 seconds is to me. You know what is going to happen and it is all within Your divine plan. You hold the future of mankind in Your hands. You hold my future in Your hands. And I can rest in the knowledge that You are not anxious, worried, or ignorant of what is going to happen tomorrow or a thousand years from now. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Daniel 11

The People Who Know Their God.

“But the people who know their God will be strong and resist him.” – Daniel 11:32 NLT

The divine messenger sent to Daniel continues to give him news of the future – disturbing news that outlines the various wars and conflicts to take place in the years ahead. He tells him of the coming of Alexander the Great, the various kings over Egypt, and ultimately, the rise of Antiochus Epiphanes, the Syrian king who was so wicked that he foreshadows the coming of the Antichrist. The amazing thing about this message is its unbelievable accuracy. But then, we shouldn’t be amazed, because it is a prediction from the mouth of God. He knew down to the smallest detail what was going to happen, long before it happened. He knew all about the coming wars between the Syrians and Egyptians. He knew who would win and who would lose. And while these great leaders could think that they were in control of their own destinies, in the end, their futures were in the hands of God. Throughout this chapter we read such phases as “the end will come at the appointed time,”  “then at the appointed time,”and “the appointed time is still to come.” The rise and fall of nations is under the sovereign hand of Almighty God. He is in complete control. Daniel is reminded, “For what has been determined will surely take place” (Daniel 11:36 NLT).

This entire chapter sets up the rise to power of Antiochus Epiphanes, a conniving, flattering, and powerful king who seemed to have a special hatred for the people of Israel. His actions against them foreshadow the events of the end times, when the Antichrist will target the people of God and persecute them as they have never been persecuted before. At one point, Antiochus Epiphanes, frustrated over a battle lost to the Egyptians, orders his general, Apollonius, and a contingent of 22,000 soldiers to attack Jerusalem on a Sabbath, taking many Jewish women and children captive, plundering the temple, and burning the city. His goal was to completely exterminate Judaism and to Hellenize Palestine. He would forbid the Jews to follow the Mosaic Law or practice the Jewish sacrifices, festivals, and circumcision. He would even install  an image of the Greek god Zeus in the Temple and offer sacrifices to him on an altar he had built there – even sacrificing a pig, an unclean animal to the Jews.

Yet, in spite of all these dire predictions, Daniel is told, “But the people who know their God will be strong and resist him” (Daniel 11:32 NLT). The people of God will always be there. There will always be a remnant of God-fearing, God-believing, God-empowered saints to stand against the greatest of enemies. God was calling Daniel and the people of God to remain strong in the midst of coming persecution, because He is strong and in complete control. We must remain strong as well. We should not be shocked at what we see taking place around us. There is a spiritual battle taking place that manifests itself in the material world. Wars and violence should not shock or scare us. They are to be expected and simply part of living in a fallen world that is at war with God. But we can rest in the knowledge that our God is great and He is in full control of the situation. But we must truly know Him and learn to trust in Him. We must continually seek to grow in our knowledge of God and our understanding of His character. Paul even prayed for the believers in his day that God would, “give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better” (1 Colossians 1:9-10 NLT).

May you and I grow in our knowledge and understanding of God so that we might be strong and resist the enemy in our day. As we grow in our knowledge of God, we will come to love and trust Him more – no matter what comes our way.

Father, help me to be one who knows You well. I want to be strong and resist the enemy, but to do so, I must know You. Give me a growing awareness of Your character, so that I will rest in the knowledge of who You really are. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Daniel 10

Be Encouraged. Be Strong.

“Don’t be afraid,” he said, “for you are very precious to God. Peace! Be encouraged! Be strong!” As he spoke these words to me, I suddenly felt stronger and said to him, “Please speak to me, my lord, for you have strengthened me.” – Daniel 10:19 NLT

The year is 536 B.C. and Daniel is an old man – well in to his 80s. He has spent nearly his whole life living in exile in the land of Babylon. Cyrus is the king and had issued a decree back in 538 B.C. allowing the Jews to return to their land in order to rebuild the Temple under Zerubbabel’s leadership. Ezra tells us that by 537 B.C they had reinstituted the sacrificial system and by 536 B.C., they had begun work on the Temple. Yet Daniel remained in Babylon, perhaps too old to make the long trip back to the Promised Land. He was in retirement by now, having served as an official under the various kings who ruled over Babylon during his lifetime. But even in his old age and in spite of the fact that the real action was taking place back in the Promised Land, Daniel was still hearing from his God. Advancing years and decreasing activity did not keep God from giving His servant additional insights into future events concerning Israel. God sent Daniel a special messenger – “a man dressed in linen clothing, with a belt of pure gold around his waist. His body looked like a precious gem. His face flashed like lightning, and his eyes flamed like torches. His arms and feet shone like polished bronze, and his voice roared like a vast multitude of people” (Daniel 10:5-6 NLT).

Daniel had been in mourning for three weeks when this vision came to him. He was apparently in mourning over the opposition the returning Jews were experiencing back in Jerusalem. Things were not going easily for them. They were under spiritual and physical attack from their enemies, and Daniel was more than likely interceding for them, lifting them up in prayer. It was during this period of prayer and fasting that Daniel received his “visit” from God’s messenger. When Daniel encountered this divine messenger, he reacted with fear. When he heard him speak, he fainted. But twice, this one sent from God assured Daniel that he was “very precious to God.” This designation refers not just to Daniel’s status as a Jew – one of God’s chosen people – but to the fact that God had been precious to Daniel. Daniel had faithfully served God all the years he had lived in Babylon and remained obedient to God’s will and glory. God encourages Daniel to take courage and be strong because what He is about to tell him is going to be difficult to hear. God lets Daniel know that there is a great spiritual war going on, unseen by men, and impacting the world in which Daniel lives. He also tells Daniel that things are going to get worse before they get better. There will continue to be conflicts on earth and in the heavens until God decides it is time to bring it all to an end. God is going to reveal to Daniel events that are going to happen in the future. These events will be disturbing and not encouraging. But God tells Daniel to be encouraged and to be strong. Why? Because God is in control. These things are all “written in the Book of Truth” (Daniel 10:21 NLT). These things must happen because God has ordained them to happen. They are all part of His divine plan. There is nothing that has happened or has yet to happen that God has not been fully aware of and is outside of His divine will. So we can be encouraged and remain strong even in the face of coming struggles. There is a spiritual war taking place that should not surprise or scare us. It is inevitable. But our God is all-powerful. He is in full control. Like Daniel, we have been given a glimpse into how things will turn out. We have been given a view into the future and we know how the story ends. We know that things will get worse before it gets better. We know the enemy will fight until the end. But we also know that God wins in the end. His will will be accomplished. His plan will be fulfilled. So there is no need to be afraid. We are precious to God. He has chosen us and He will protect us. We can take courage. We can be strong.

Father, I am precious to You. That is an amazing thing to consider. You love me and have my best interest at heart. Never let me forget that. Give me the courage to stand strong in the fact of adversity. Give me the strength to remain faithful even when things appear difficult and the future looks bleak. You are in complete control and I can trust You. Your will will be done. Your plan will be accomplished. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Daniel 9

Our Merciful God.

“O my God, lean down and listen to me. Open your eyes and see our despair. See how your city—the city that bears your name—lies in ruins. We make this plea, not because we deserve help, but because of your mercy.” – Daniel 9:18 NLT

By now we have established the fact that Daniel was a man of God. He lived his life for God – even in the midst of a pagan nation where the temptation to compromise was ever present. But Daniel remained faithful. And one of the reasons was that Daniel stayed in touch with his God. He was obviously a man of prayer. But he was also a man of the Word. We see in this chapter that Daniel is reading from the writings of Jeremiah the prophet. Jeremiah had prophesied that the people of Israel would remain in captivity for a period of 70 years then they would be restored to the land. At the time he is reading this, the people have been in captivity about 67 years. So Daniel knows that the time is short. But rather than sit back and wait for God to fulfill His promise, Daniel prays. He reads Gods Word, then he prays to God. What prompted this reaction was what he found written in Jeremiah’s prophesy:

This is what the Lord says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.” – Jeremiah 29:10-14 NLT

He probably read Jeremiah’s prayer where he appealed to God regarding the land God had commanded him to purchase. “O Sovereign Lord, you have told me to buy the field – paying good money for it before these witnesses – even though the city will soon be handed over to the Babylonians” (Jeremiah 32:25 NLT). Jeremiah had done what the Lord commanded based on his understanding of God’s unfailing love and promise to restore them to the land one day. Jeremiah’s investment was based on the integrity of God. Daniel read the words of Jeremiah and his response was one of prayer and fasting. His prayer was full of repentance on behalf of the people, and he included himself in their guilt. He appealed to God’s mercy. He praised God for His unfailing love and unwavering commitment to keep His promises. He acknowledged that their restoration would have nothing to do with their own merit, but for God’s own sake and the honor of His name. In spite of their rebellion and sin, God would forgive and restore. It reminds me of the words of God spoken at the dedication of Solomon’s Temple. He told them that if they failed to be faithful, He would bring punishment. But if they repented, He would restore them. “Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14 NLT).

As a result of Daniel’s prayer, God responded. He sent His angel, Gabriel, to provide Daniel with “insight and understanding.” Gabriel told Daniel, “The moment you began praying, a command was given. And now I am here to tell you what it was, for you are very precious to God. Listen carefully so that you can understand the meaning of your vision” (Daniel 9:23 NLT). Then Gabriel proceeded to give Daniel an understanding of things to come. This passage is the central text for understanding the end times. It gives a chronological framework regarding the coming Messiah that runs from the time of Daniel all the way to the establishment of the kingdom on earth. Not only will God restore Israel to the land at the end of their 70 years of captivity, He will restore peace and righteousness to the world when His Son returns at the end of the age. The same God of mercy, grace, and forgiveness to whom Daniel prayed is the one who will fulfill all His promises regarding the end of the age and the coming of the kingdom of His Son. Our response should be that of Daniel’s – prayer, fasting, repentance and confession – calling out to God to honor His name by fulfilling what He said He would do. Our appeal should be based on the character and integrity of God. Our hope should be based on who He is, not who we are or what we can do to earn His favor. He is good to us, not because we are good to Him, but because He is good. As we read about His goodness and faithfulness, it should drive us to our knees in thanksgiving and recognition of our own sinfulness.

Father, You are a merciful, loving, compassionate and promise-keeping God. You will bring about all that You have said, not based on anything we have done or will ever do to deserve it, but simply because You have promised it. You are faithful. But never let me rest in the certainty of what will happen. May I turn to You in prayer and repentance BECAUSE You will do what You have promised. Your mercy and grace should cause me to confess, repent and return. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Daniel 8

A Taste of Things to Come.

“Then I heard two holy ones talking to each other. One of them asked, ‘How long will the events of this vision last? How long will the rebellion that causes desecration stop the daily sacrifices? How long will the Temple and heaven’s army be trampled on?’ The other replied, ‘It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the Temple will be made right again.’” – Daniel 8:13-14 NLT

Daniel lived in a spiritually tumultuous time. The land of Israel had been raped and pillaged and its people taken captive to foreign lands. Daniel was one of thousands of individuals who found themselves living in exile in Babylon, and they had been there for decades at this point. Their homeland is miles away. Their Temple, the dwelling place of their God, is destroyed. It is a period of spiritual darkness filled with questions about the future. What is God going to do with His people? Is He going to restore them to the land once again, in keeping with His promises? In chapter seven, God gives Daniel a look into the distant future, at the end of the age. He lets Daniel know what is going to happen long after Daniel is gone. But that does not answer a lot of Daniel’s more immediate concerns. Then he has his vision of chapter eight.

In this vision, Daniel is given a little bit closer look at what is going to happen in the future. There are similarities and parallels. But the focus seems to be on the period of time between when Daniel lived and the second coming of Christ. Daniel is living within the Medo-Persian Empire. He is still in Babylon, but it has become part of the Medo-Persian Empire and Belshazzar is the king. His vision takes him to Susa, the capital of the Persian Empire, located about 200 miles east of Babylon. This is where Daniel’s vision takes place. In his vision he sees a goat and a ram. The ram was the guardian spirit of the Persian Empire. The goat represents Greece, and its single, prominent horn represented Alexander the Great, who would sweep into that area of the world and wipe of the Medo-Persian Empire. Alexander the Great would die in his thirties and his kingdom would divide into four parts led by four different generals. Out of one of these would come Antiochus IV (Epiphanes), who would wage a relentless attack on the people of Israel, overthrowing the High Priest, looting the Temple and replacing the worship of God with a form of Greek worship. The daily sacrifices would come to a halt after he desecrates the Temple. And Daniel is told that this would go on for seven years.

Each and every one of these things came about just as Daniel saw them in his vision. This speaks of God omniscience, His all-knowing nature. He doesn’t just watch the future unfold helplessly like the rest of us. He knows it before it even happens. God was able to show Daniel events that had yet taken place – in amazing detail. And these events are foreshadowings of what Daniel had seen in chapter eight. But they will come about with the same degree of accuracy. In the month of December, 168 B.C., Antiochus returned from a defeat at the hands of the Romans and, in frustration, sent 20,000 of his troops to seize Jerusalem on the Sabbath. He erected an idol of Zeus and desecrated the altar of the Temple by sacrificing swine on it. This idol became known to the Jews as “the abomination of desolation.” All of this is a precursor to events that will take place in the end times. At that time, the Antichrist will erect an image of himself and command that everyone, including Jews, worship it. As bad as that time will be, it will also be a kind of alarm clock, telling mankind that the second coming of Christ is eminent. “Now, dear brothers and sisters, let us clarify some things about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and how we will be gathered to meet him. Don’t be so easily shaken or alarmed by those who say that the day of the Lord has already begun. Don’t believe them, even if they claim to have had a spiritual vision, a revelation, or a letter supposedly from us. Don’t be fooled by what they say. For that day will not come until there is a great rebellion against God and the man of lawlessness is revealed—the one who brings destruction. He will exalt himself and defy everything that people call god and every object of worship. He will even sit in the temple of God, claiming that he himself is God” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 NLT). But those events will be the preface for an even greater and more significant one – the coming of Christ. He is going to return just as He said. And as the events of Daniel’s vision took place with painstaking accuracy, so will the events associated with the end times. The tribulation will come. The Antichrist will come to power. But Jesus Christ will come again and bring about a great victory, setting up His kingdom once and for all.

Father, these dreams and visions are difficult to understand. But help me to grasp that You know the future and You will bring about everything You have said will happen. It is a certainty. Just as Alexander the Great came to power, so will Christ. But unlike Alexander, Christ’s kingdom will have no end. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Daniel 7

The Son of Man.

“As my vision continued that night, I saw someone like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient One and was led into his presence. He was given authority, honor, and sovereignty over all the nations of the world, so that people of every race and nation and language would obey him. His rule is eternal—it will never end. His kingdom will never be destroyed.” – Daniel 7:13-14 NLT

It seems that Daniel not only interprets dreams, he has them. And the dream he has in chapter seven is a doozy. It is full of bizarre beasts, big horns and little, violent wars, and other disturbing imagery. And even with his interpretative skills, Daniel is unable to figure this one out. So in the midst of his dream he approaches the throne of God and is given an explanation. He is given a vision of the future. His dream includes the not-so-distant future and a time that has yet to happen even in our day. Ultimately, his dream is about the end times. He is given a glimpse of the time of the tribulation and the coming of the Antichrist. But more importantly, Daniel is given a view of the coming of the Son of Man – the return of Christ to rule and to reign on the earth. The term “Son of Man” was Jesus’ favorite designation for Himself. He preferred it over the more common term “Messiah,” because to most Jews that simply indicated a human deliverer sent by God. By referring to Himself as the Son of Man, He was claiming the role of the one predicted in Daniel’s dream. He was the coming God-man. He would one day be “given authority, honor and sovereignty over all the nations of the world, so that people of every race and nation and language would obey him” (Daniel 7:14 NLT). His coming kingdom would be an earthly, not just spiritual, kingdom. And it would last forever.

Of all the beings revealed in this dream of Daniels, the most significant one is that of the Son of Man. He is not described in detail. We do not get a good idea of what He looks like. The other beasts are described in frightening detail. But with the Son of Man, the emphasis is more on what He will do than on what He looks like. Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, will destroy the Antichrist and all the nations he will have gathered to rebel against God Almighty. He will use His God-given authority to destroy the enemies of God and usher in a new age of perfect peace. “Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war. His eyes were like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns. A name was written on him that no one understood except himself. He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God. The armies of heaven, dressed in the finest of pure white linen, followed him on white horses. From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod. He will release the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty, like juice flowing from a winepress. On his robe at his thigh was written this title: King of all kings and Lord of all lords” (Revelation 19:11-16 NLT).

We may not be able to fully understand just who the other beasts represents. But we do know that the Son of Man is the Son of God, Jesus Christ. And He is going to return to the earth one day to finish His work and establish His kingdom once and for all. His rule will be eternal – it will never end. And unlike the nations represented in Daniel’s dream, the Son of Man’s kingdom will never be destroyed.

Father, in the midst of all the chaos that surrounds the end times, we can rest in the knowledge that Your Son will come onto the scene and set all things right. He is the Son of Man, the Savior who has come and will come again. He is not finished saving this world. His work is not yet done. Help us keep our eyes focused on the one character in Daniel’s dream that truly makes a difference – Jesus Christ, Your Son and our Savior. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Daniel 6

Can Your God Save?

“He rescues and saves his people; he performs miraculous signs and wonders in the heavens and on earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.” – Daniel 6:27 NLT

This is what I call a “Sunday School story.” It is one of those stories from the Bible that we are told in Sunday School as children when we are growing up. When I was a kid, it was told with the use of Flannel-Graphs, those colorful fabric pieces that were cut-out pictures of the characters that stuck to a piece of flannel. As the teacher told the story of Daniel and the lion’s den, we kids would take turns placing the figures of Daniel and the lions on the flannel-covered board. We were amazed at the bravery of Daniel. As a matter of fact, this whole story was about Daniel – thus the name, Daniel and the lion’s den. It was all about the faith of Daniel, the bravery of Daniel, the courage of Daniel, and the prayerfulness of Daniel. And it is still easy to read this chapter and think that this is a story about a man, a very brave, courageous, prayerful man. But the hero of the story is God. He is the one who ensures that there is a happy ending. He is the one in whom Daniel believed, to whom Daniel prayed, and to whom Daniel owed his life.

Even Darius the Mede recognized that God was going to have to be the one to save Daniel from his predicament, because even as king, he was unable to rescue Daniel from a certain death in the lion’s den. “So at last the king gave orders for Daniel to be arrested and thrown into the den of lions. The king said to him, “May your God, whom you serve so faithfully, rescue you” (Daniel 6:16 NLT) Darius knew that it was Daniel’s God that would make the difference – not Daniel. And Daniel himself knew that it was God who was going to have to get him out of this mess. When he heard about the new law, Daniel did what he always did, he prayed to God. This time he had something new to pray about, and he did. “Then the officials went together to Daniel’s house and found him praying and asking for God’s help” (Daniel 6:11 NLT). Faced with a difficult situation, Daniel turned to God for help. And the amazing thing is, God didn’t answer Daniel’s prayer the way I would have expected. He didn’t miraculously change the law. He didn’t give Darius a disturbing dream and cause him to revoke his decree. He didn’t cause a strange new disease to break out among the lions, wiping them out and thus, sparing Daniel’s life. No, Daniel was arrested and had to face his punishment. Where was God? What was He doing? What was He thinking? The last words Darius had for Daniel were, “May your God, whom you serve so faithfully, rescue you” (Daniel 6:16 NLT). Even Darius knew it was all up to God now. Only He could prevent tragedy from striking Daniel. And He did.

The next morning, Daniel was found alive and unharmed. There wasn’t a scratch on him. And Daniel knew why. “My God sent his angel to shut the lions’ mouths so that they would not hurt me, for I have been found innocent in his sight” (Daniel 6:22 NLT). Daniel had trusted in God, and God had come through. Why? Because, “He rescues and saves his people; he performs miraculous signs and wonders in the heavens and on earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions” (Daniel 6:27 NLT). This story is about our God, not Daniel. Sure, Daniel was a man of faith, but the whole point of the story is the ONE in whom Daniel had faith. Yes, Daniel was a man of prayer, but the moral of the story is that it is GOD ALONE who answers prayer. We are sometimes guilty of making the Bible about men. We read stories about the men and women of the Bible and we determine that we either should emulate or avoid their examples. We are told to “dare to be a Daniel.” We are encouraged to “fight the good fight” like Paul. We are encouraged to be a “man after God’s own heart” like David. And while modeling our lives after other saints isn’t necessarily wrong, we would be better off focusing our attention on the God in whom they believed. He is the real moral to the story. God saves. He rescues. There is not predicament too big for Him to handle. He is the living God.

Father, forgive us for making it all about us. Our pride is so great. We sometimes think You exist for us. We seem to believe that the story is all about us. And we lose sight of the reality that without You, there is no story. There would have been no creation. Mankind would never have existed. None of us would have taken our first breath. And not a single one of us would have the slightest chance of making it through this life unscathed without You. You alone are God. You are the star of the play. You alone deserve glory and honor. Not Daniel. Not Moses. Not Paul. And not us. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Daniel 5

Sixty Years Later…

You are his successor, O Belshazzar, and you knew all this, yet you have not humbled yourself. For you have proudly defied the Lord of heaven and have had these cups from his Temple brought before you. You and your nobles and your wives and concubines have been drinking wine from them while praising gods of silver, gold, bronze, iron, wood, and stone—gods that neither see nor hear nor know anything at all. But you have not honored the God who gives you the breath of life and controls your destiny!” – Daniel 5:22-23 NLT

Daniel is still in Babylon, and a new king sits on the throne. There has been a succession of rulers over Babylon since Daniel was elevated to his high position after having successfully interpreted the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar. Now Belshazzar rules over the Babylonian empire. One night he decides to throw a huge party for 1,000 of his nobles. As a symbol of his power, he commands that the gold and silver cups that were once used in the Temple in Jerusalem be brought for he and his guests to drink from and to toast their false gods. These are the same cups that King Solomon had made when he built the Temple. They had been dedicated to God and were intended for His house and His glory. But King Nebuchadnezzar had taken them when he pillaged Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple.

Now Belshazzar, in his pride and arrogance, decides to use what was dedicated to God for his own personal use. It was a slap in the face of God and an affront to His holiness. And while Belshazzar was well aware of what had happened to his ancestor Nebuchadnezzar when he let pride get the best of him, it didn’t seem to faze him. Until he saw the handwriting on the wall. God crashed Belshazzar’s party and gave him a message – one that neither he or his magicians could understand or interpret. But when Daniel was summoned, he was able to tell the king its message – your days are numbered, you don’t measure up, and your kingdom is going to be divided. That very night, Belshazzar would be murdered and his kingdom taken over by Darius the Mede.

All the way back when Solomon dedicated the Temple in Jerusalem, along with all its contents – including the gold and silver cups – he seemed to understand that there was a day coming when God’s people would fail to worship Him faithfully. He prayed, “If they sin against you—and who has never sinned?—you might become angry with them and let their enemies conquer them and take them captive to their land far away or near” (1 Kings 8:46 NLT). He went on to plead with God, “Forgive your people who have sinned against you. Forgive all the offenses they have committed against you. Make their captors merciful to them, for they are your people—your special possession—whom you brought out of the iron-smelting furnace of Egypt” (1 Kings 8:50-51 NLT). Now here they were, all these years later, captives in Babylon. God had not left them or forsaken them. He was still watching over them. And He was protecting the holiness of His name. He was not going to allow Belshazzar or anyone else to desecrate His Holy possessions – whether it was gold or silver cups or His chosen people. Both were in exile. Both were in the possession of the enemy. But they still belonged to God and God had not forgotten that they were His. They were still His people – His special possession – and He was not done with them yet. Belshazzar, like Nebuchadnezzar, was just a pawn in the hands of the sovereign God. The cups were not his to use as he saw fit. Neither were the people of Israel. They were Gods and He had a plan for them.

Father, we are Your possession. We belong to You. And while this world tries to take us captive and use us for its own purposes, we have to constantly be reminded that we do not belong to this world. We are no longer slaves to sin or this world. We are Your holy possessions. We belong to You and while we find ourselves living in a foreign land, You have not forgotten us and You will not forsake us. Help us to remain pure and undefiled while we live in this world. For our own good and Your glory. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Daniel 4

Nebuchadnezzar’s Pride.

Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and glorify and honor the King of heaven. All his acts are just and true, and he is able to humble the proud.” – Daniel 4:37 NLT

What would cause the pagan king of one of the most powerful nations on earth to sing the praises of the God of Israel – the nation he had just defeated and whose people he had taken captive? Why would this man praise, glorify and honor the King of heaven. The answer is pretty simple. God had humbled him. Nebuchadnezzar had learned the power and prominence of God the hard way. A year earlier, God had given Nebuchadnezzar a dream in which He revealed to him what was going to happen in the not-too-distant future. It took Daniel to interpret the dream, but the meaning was clear. Because of Nebuchadnezzar’s pride, God was going to have to humble him. The king refused to acknowledge that it was God who put kings on their thrones and not themselves. After King Nebuchadnezzar had conquered virtually every nation in the region, he took a look at all his accomplishments and the trappings of his success and began to feel a bit proud of his accomplishments. He had a powerful army, a beautiful palace, and enjoyed a life of ease and prosperity. He had it all. Power, possessions, prosperity, and prominence. He had everything he needed. Or so he thought.

Nebuchadnezzar had overlooked one important factor. It was God who had given him his throne and the ability to conquer all the surrounding nations. God had raised up Babylon for his own divine purposes. Nebuchadnezzar was simply a tool in the hands of God. So God took this pride-filled pagan king and humbled him. Daniel advised the king to take the dream seriously and to, “stop sinning and do what is right. Break from your wicked past and be merciful to the poor. Perhaps then you will continue to prosper” (Daniel 4:27 NLT). But Nebuchadnezzar refused to listen. So a year later, as he was walking around the roof of his majestic palace proudly surveying the domain he had built, tragedy struck. He lost his mind. He went crazy. He ended up living in the fields like an animal. He went from parading around the palace, strutting like a proud peacock in his royal robes to living like a wild animal. But when he finally “looked up to heaven,” his sanity returned. God restored his mind and his kingdom. But the key was a change in his heart. He had gone from worshiping self to worshiping God. He went from praising self to praising God. Through his tragedy he had come to understand what each and every one of us as God’s creation need to know. “His rule is everlasting, and his kingdom is eternal. All the people of the earth are nothing compared to him. He does as he pleases among the angels of heaven and among the people of the earth. No one can stop him or say to him, ‘What do you mean by doing these things?’” (Daniel 4:34-35 NLT).

Pride is a powerful force in the hands of the enemy. He uses it to take our eyes off of God. Satan is not so much concerned that we worship him as he is that we worship ANYTHING other than God. And the worship of self is the ultimate form of idolatry. When we begin to believe our own press clippings and start to think we have made ourselves what we are, that is when we are in real danger. Self-exaltation is ultimately self-destructive. It can be bad for your health. Because God does not share His glory with anyone. The Scriptures remind us, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6 NIV). The lesson Nebuchadnezzar had to learn was regarding God’s sovereignty. He had to understand that God is ruler over ALL the kingdoms of the earth, including his own. He had to learn that God was the only true King, not him. He had to learn that God was the consummate conqueror, not him. Nebuchadnezzar had learned the lesson that James simple reiterated: “All his acts are just and true, and he is able to humble the proud” (Daniel 4:37 NLT).

Father, we are a proud people. Even as believers we can begin to believe that we are self-made men and women. We have made ourselves what we are. Our accomplishments and achievements are the work of our hands. But in this passage You remind us that the only thing that separates us from the wild beasts in the field is Your divine, sovereign hand. You can lift us up and You can bring us down. You will not tolerate self-worship. You will not put up with self-exaltation. Keep our eyes focused on You and You alone. May we acknowledge your power and sovereignty without having to learn to do so the hard way. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Daniel 2-3

Daniel’s God.

No one on earth can tell the king his dream! And no king, however great and powerful, has ever asked such a thing of any magician, enchanter, or astrologer! The king’s demand is impossible. No one except the gods can tell you your dream, and they do not live here among people” – Daniel 2:10-11 NLT

King Nebuchadnezzar has had a series of disturbing dreams. He gathers all his magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers and demands that they tell him what his dreams mean. Not only that, they have to tell him WHAT he dreamed. Their reaction? Panic. In spite of their illustrious titles, they know that none of them can do what the king is demanding. It would be impossible for them to know what the king dreamed, unless he told them. But King Nebuchadnezzar sticks to his original plan, threatening to kill them if they don’t do what he says. When they finally admit that his request is something only a god could do, and gods don’t live among men, he explodes and sentences them all to death. This death sentence would include Daniel and his friends, because by this time they were considered to be on a par with the rest of the king’s retinue of wise men.

When David gets wind of the king’s plan to have them all put to death, he asks for more time, then calls his three friends to a time of prayer. They  ask God to intervene and show them mercy by revealing the dream and its interpretation. Keep in mind, Daniel has never interpreted dreams before, so this is an amazing request. While the king’s magicians saw it as impossible, Daniel viewed it as highly possible because of what he knew about the nature and character of his God. This was all new territory for Daniel, but not for God. It may be that Daniel knew the story of Joseph and how God gave him the ability to interpret the dreams of Pharaoh all those years ago in Egypt. But Daniel prays and God responds. He gives Daniel the dream and its meaning. Daniel’s reaction is one of praise and thanksgiving at the wisdom, power, and omniscience of God. While the gods of the Babylonians did “not live here among people,” the God of Daniel did. He heard Daniel’s prayer and did the impossible. Daniel knew what Jesus Himself would later express, “What is impossible for people is possible with God” (Luke 18:27 NLT).

The next day Daniel goes to the king and tells him, “There are no wise men, enchanters, magicians, or fortune-tellers who can reveal the king’s secret. But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and he has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in the future” (Daniel 2:27-28 NLT). Then Daniel proceeds to tell King Nebuchadnezzar his dream and its meaning. Through the dream, God is giving Nebuchadnezzar a glimpse of what is to come. In his dream the king had seen a great statue made of gold, silver, brass, and a mix of iron and clay. The  four different materials represent four kingdoms that will exist in the not-too-distant future. The head of gold is Babylon. The breast and arms of silver are Persian (currently a Babylonian vassal state). The belly and thighs of brass represent Greece (at this point just a band of warring tribes). And the legs of iron and feet of clay and iron represent Rome (at this point nothing more than a village on the Tiber River). God is revealing to Nebuchadnezzar the future history of the world, all the way up to the Tribulation. Some of these kingdoms came to power and have already fulfilled the prophecy. But the final Gentile power (Rome), which came to power and no longer exists will be revived in the last days. It will be a confederation of 10 nations which will bind themselves together in order to solidify and strengthen their power. But they will prove weak and unstable (iron and clay). At the end of the Great Tribulation, Christ will return to earth and establish His kingdom in Jerusalem. His kingdom “will crush all these kingdoms into nothingness, and it will stand forever” (Daniel 2:44 NLT). .

The God of Daniel is a great God who not only knows the meaning of dreams, but holds the future of mankind in His hands. His words concerning Babylon, Persia, Greece and ancient Rome all came true. So why should we doubt that what He had to say about the end times will not also come about just like He said? As Daniel said, our God “has all wisdom and power. He controls the course of world events; he removes kings and sets up other kings” (Daniel 2:20-21 NLT). Daniel could count on Him for providing an answer to prayer regarding an impossible request. But He could also count on God  for not only the future of his own life, but that of the entire world as well. We serve a great God who has a firm grasp on this world. We can trust Him and rest in the knowledge that He is in control.

Father, thank You that the God of Daniel is my God as well. You are the same today as You were then. You are no less powerful, knowledgeable, capable, or approachable. You hear and answer prayers. You still do the impossible and hold the future in Your hands just as surely as You did in Daniel’s day. Thanks for the reminder. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men