Have you ever doubted that God is fully in control? In this message, we look at Daniel 2 to see how Daniel interprets a dream for a powerful king that ends up predicting history and showing us that God's kingdom is the only kingdom that will last.
All right! Well, hey. Welcome everybody in the room and everybody tuning in online: Porch Austin, Porch Boise, Porch Tulsa, Porch North Houston, Porch Scottsdale, all the different Porch.Live locations. We're continuing this series On God where we are looking at stories from the book of Daniel.
Let me start by giving a little vision into my world. In December, my wife and I moved our two oldest kids, our son and daughter, into the same room. We put them in a bunk bed. Here's a picture of them just chilling, loving life. "We can't believe we get to sleep together. I've got my princess cup and everything." It was awesome.
We combined bedtimes, which allowed us to put them both down at the same time. Shortly after they began staying in the same room, my son (that boy on top) started having what are called night terrors. Now just a heads up. Some day you might have kids. This is not a nightmare. This is a night terror.
What's the difference? Night terror happens about 45 minutes after you go to bed. Nightmare happens sometime in the middle of the night. I don't know. I don't make this stuff up. Anyway he begins to have these night terrors, and we begin to try to figure out what's happening. It was a night terror where he would just wake up. It's not like just a nightmare where you wake up and you're like, "Ah!" You're still in the sleep mode.
So he is screaming, which means he is waking up his sister every single night. It's just some form of torture 45 minutes into falling asleep. My wife and I began to go, "What is causing this? Is it something he ate? Is it because…?" At first we thought it was watching The Lion King. I knew we should've fast forwarded the part with Scar and he is having night terrors now.
Then eventually we began to go, "Is it something he is eating? Is it the time? Maybe we should wake him up 45 minutes in, and then that'll avoid it." Nope, it just delayed the night terror from happening. So we began to just look for solutions. We're trying essential oils and rubbing it on things. That's who we are.
Eventually, my wife took him to the dentist and he was having one of his first dental appointments. The dentist looked in his mouth and said, "His tonsils are really large. Is he having night terrors?" It turns out that if you have tonsils that are large, at night it can inhibit your breathing, which for whatever reason has some impact and creates night terrors. So today now he goes to bed and he has this nasal saline spray that he has to put in there every single time that he goes to bed. It gave him some relief.
Now what does that have to do with what we're going to talk about tonight? We're going to look at a man who is having a night terror, if you will. It's a king named Nebuchadnezzar that we launched into last week. Nebuchadnezzar begins to have this nightmare, this thing that is recurring and keeps him from being able to sleep.
Daniel, who is really the focal point of tonight and for much of this study On God, is going to interpret the dream. The interpretation of the dream provides the relief the king was looking for. In Daniel's interpretation and even the way that he goes before the king and communicates the meaning of his dream, we learn a lot of things that we're just going to walk through and observe.
One of the things that we learn is how Daniel could be so confident standing before the king. So we're going to explore and continue this series and learn what was at the root and behind why Daniel was so confident in the chaos. As we said last week, On God is looking at the book of Daniel. What's the book of Daniel?
It's a book that was written over 2,000 years ago in the capital city of Babylon. The Babylonian Empire was the world superpower in 600 BC. It had conquered the known world. It was ruled by a ruthless dictator named Nebuchadnezzar. Here's a picture of the map of Babylon. No, that's Zac Efron. There's Babylon. We just have pictures of Zac Efron around.
There's Babylon, and you can see that's the Babylonian Empire. The reason that had Zac Efron is whenever I read through Scripture, I'll think of the different characters that are involved. So when I think of Daniel, like I said last week, I think of Zac Efron. When I think of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, we think of the Spiderman trio.
When I think of King Nebuchadnezzar, this kind of evil king, I think either Jafar or the king from Gladiator, but those are the characters. Nebuchadnezzar rules the known world. He has taken Daniel and his friends captive. Daniel is put to work in the king's palace. The king is going to have a dream, and Daniel's interaction and exchange and interpretation of the dream gives us a look into how he was so confident. It also tells us the entire story of history.
He tells a dream that, candidly, I don't know that I'll be able to put into words the power that this chapter has had since it was written. Because Daniel is going to say to the king the events that happened immediately in the centuries following and that will happen all the way up until the Messiah's return. So we're going to be in Daniel, chapter 2, starting in verse 1. We're going to walk through three observations. If you have a Bible, you can flip there now. If not, it'll be on the screen. As always, we have Bibles in the Welcome Center that are our gift to you. So let me start in verse 1.
"One night during the second year of his reign, [King] Nebuchadnezzar had such disturbing dreams that he couldn't sleep. He called in his magicians, enchanters, sorcerers, and astrologers [anyone who had access to the divine], and he demanded that they tell him what he had dreamed. As they stood before the king, he said, 'I have had a dream that deeply troubles me, and I must know what it means.'
Then the astrologers answered the king in Aramaic, 'Long live the king! Tell us the dream, and we will tell you what it means.' But the king said to the astrologers, 'I am serious about this. If you don't tell me what my dream was and what it means, you will be torn limb from limb, and your houses will be turned into heaps of rubble!'"
That escalated quickly. Nebuchadnezzar was known to have a temper. So he calls in his guys and says, "Hey, I've had a dream, and I want you to tell me what it was and what it means." Some people believe it's because like often happens when you have a dream, you wake up and you're like, "Wait, what was that? Was she there?" You can vaguely remember it. You're like, "I don't think he had pants on." It's just kind of… You're piecing together.
Maybe it was that or maybe he just wanted to see if these men actually possessed the divine wisdom they claimed to. The men say back to him, "Hey, nobody can do what you're asking. That's impossible!" In verse 10, "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." "We can't tell you your dream." "'No one except the gods can tell you your dream, and they do not live here among people.'
The king was furious when he heard this, and he ordered that all the wise men of Babylon be executed." Which included Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. "When Arioch, the commander of the king's guard, came to kill them…" That's a bad day. "I'm here to kill you." "…Daniel handled the situation with wisdom and discretion. He asked Arioch, 'Why has the king issued such a harsh decree?' So Arioch told him all that had happened. Daniel went at once to see the king and requested more time to tell the king what the dream meant.
Then Daniel went home and told his friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah…" That's Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. "…what had happened. He urged them to ask the God of heaven to show them his mercy by telling them the secret, so they would not be executed along with the other wise men of Babylon."
The first thing I want to point out that we see from Nebuchadnezzar, and it is the reason why Daniel had such confidence before the king, is he knew what Nebuchadnezzar's life reflects. Everyone needs God. The king, Nebuchadnezzar, was the most powerful person who had ever ruled to that point.
He had created a civilization. Even his own palace in the city of Babylon was constructed in a way that he constantly lived in security. I mean, it was a marvel. The city itself was one of the wonders of the ancient world. It had walls 75 feet high and thick enough for two four-horse chariots to ride across, a Greek historian tells us. That it was a marvel.
He lived in luxury. He lived in security. He had more gold… One historian said Babylon contained more gold than dust. He was the wealthiest, richest, securest. He had everything you'd want, and yet he had a need. That need was God. Daniel knew that, "I offer something of the king that he doesn't have. It is something that every person who has ever lived needs, which is a relationship with God in this life, a relationship with God to have eternal life."
The same is true today. You probably have never thought about it this way before, but every person you've ever met needs God. They may not even realize their need for God, but the greatest hole that exists inside of every human heart is a hole that only God can fill. Your boss at work today, as much of a jerk as he is, is in need of God.
Your parents, however great or poorly you think of them, are in need of a relationship with God. Billionaires, supermodels, baristas all come into existence and have and share in common a need for God in this life and for eternal life. There's an emptiness that ultimately only God can satisfy.
A couple of weeks ago, Tom Brady decided that he was going to do another fake out and come back to play again for the 700th year. You think about that. My wife and I were talking about it. Who knows? It's like he just can't let it go. Who knows the reasons behind that?
I do know he did an interview a handful of years ago with 60 Minutes. The interview may give us the reason why it's hard to let it go. In the interview, he says this. This is Tom Brady speaking. "…there's times where I'm not the person that I want to be. Why do I have three Super Bowl rings and still think there's something greater out there for me? I mean, maybe a lot of people would say, 'Hey man, this is what is.' I reached my goal, my dream, my life. Me, I think: God, it's gotta be more than this. I mean this can't be what it's all cracked up to be."
The interviewer asked him, "What's the answer?" What he responds with is tragic. "What's the answer?" Tom Brady responds, "I wish I knew. I wish I knew." Now, what's he reflecting? He is reflecting what's true about every person you've ever met and ever will meet: that there is a hole inside of the human heart.
God says in Ecclesiastes, chapter 3, that he put it there so that you and I would encounter him. That everyone has a need for God. Some of you came into the room tonight and you don't think you need God. You feel like you're living your life. Everything on the outside looks picturesque. Everything looks like what everyone else would want. Yet you know it's empty.
You'll either discover that today or discover your need eventually, because every person has a desperate need inside of the human heart for God, just like the king had a desperate need for an answer from the divine. Daniel was able to go confidently because he knows, "I offer and I have something that every person needs and he doesn't have."
There was a writer for the London Times, which is basically London's version of the New York Times version. It's actually called the Times in London. He was reflecting on some time that he had spent in Africa. He said something, despite being an atheist, that really reflects what's true, not just of Africa, but of all places in general. Here's what it says. This is Matthew Parris for the London Times. He writes about what he observed in his time in Malawi.
He says, "As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God. Missionaries, not aid money, are the solution to Africa's biggest problem… It confounds my ideological beliefs, stubbornly refuses to fit my world view, and has embarrassed my growing belief that there is no God. Now a confirmed atheist, I've become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism…" Or the body of Christ with the message of Jesus. "…makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do."
It then says, "In Africa Christianity changes people's hearts. […] The change is good. …Christians black and white, working in Africa, do heal the sick, do teach people to read and write; and only the severest kind of secularist could see a mission hospital or school and say the world would be better without it. […] Removing Christian evangelism from the African equation may leave the continent at the mercy of a malign fusion of Nike, the witch doctor, the mobile phone and the machete."
Even an atheist looks and says, "I have to confess these people need God." Where he gets it wrong is he says, "Africa," What's true is he needs God. All people need God, in every place and in every space. Dallas, Boise, and Scottsdale are filled with people who need God. Daniel has a confidence that comes from man. "I bring to the table something that every person needs, because I know my Creator."
The second thing we see in this story, and I think it is unbelievably profound, is the prediction that he now makes, the interpretation of the king's dream. He basically goes and prays. That night, it says in verse 19, that God revealed the vision to Daniel.
"Then Daniel praised the God of heaven. He said, 'Praise the name of God forever and ever, for he has all wisdom and power. He controls the course of world events; he removes kings and sets up other kings. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the scholars. He reveals deep and mysterious things and knows what lies hidden in darkness, though he is surrounded by light. I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors…'"
Daniel prays. He then goes back and says, "Hey, take me to the king. I will tell him the interpretation." Shows up at the king, and the king says, "Do you know what it means? Do you know my dream? Do you know the interpretation?" This is how Daniel responds. Verse 27.
"Daniel replied, '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. Now I will tell you your dream and the visions you saw as you lay on your bed.'"
He says, "Nobody can tell this, but there is a God in heaven, and he has told you what is going to happen in the centuries to follow and for the rest of human history. Here is your dream, king." Then he says… This is the point where if your mind works like mine, inside of watching the movie of this happen, this is when the suspenseful music turns on and the king leans forward in his throne as he hears Daniel describe exactly what you dreamed. He says,
"In your vision, Your Majesty, you saw standing before you a huge, shining statue of a man. It was a frightening sight. The head of the statue was made of fine gold. Its chest and arms were silver, its belly and thighs were bronze, its legs were iron, and its feet were a combination of iron and baked clay. As you watched, a rock was cut from a mountain, but not by human hands.
It struck the feet of iron and clay, smashing them to bits. The whole statue was crushed into small pieces of iron, clay, bronze, silver, and gold. Then the wind blew them away without a trace, like chaff on a threshing floor. But the rock that knocked the statue down became a great mountain that covered the whole earth."
He said, "You saw, and there was this statue. The head was made of something and the arms were made of silver and then the chest and the thighs were made of bronze and the legs were made of iron. Then this rock comes out of nowhere. It hits the feet of the statue, and the entire thing crumbles and collapses." The king is realizing, "That's exactly what I saw." Then Daniel gives him the meaning of his dream.
This is what he says in verse 36. "Now we will tell the king what it means. Your Majesty, you are the greatest of kings. The God of heaven has given you sovereignty, power, strength, and honor. He has made you the ruler over all the inhabited world…" You're the ruler of the known world. You and your kingdom, "You are the head of gold."
So the first empire that we're told of is the Babylonian Empire, the head of gold, if you will. The statue replica or remake of it is right there. He sees this image, and the head is gold. The reason Babylon would've been gold is like I said earlier, the amount of gold people didn't even know existed in the entire world that the city was filled with it. Then he says, "But there's another kingdom."
Verse 39: "But after your kingdom…" In other words, your kingdom will come to an end. "…another kingdom, inferior to yours, will rise to take your place." The two arms are made out of silver, and the silver kingdom is Medo-Persian kingdom. It was these two groups that combined, the Medes and the Persians, that eventually 50 years later would conquer Babylon. It's represented by these two arms coming together. It will take down his kingdom. Then he says, then there's another kingdom that's coming.
Verse 39: "After that kingdom has fallen, yet a third kingdom, represented by bronze, will rise to rule the world." So he says there's the gold kingdom. Then there's going to be another kingdom that takes you out. Then there's going to be a kingdom after you, which would be the kingdom of Greece. Why would it be the kingdom of bronze?
Well the Greek kingdom… Again, none of this has happened. Daniel is saying, "This is what is about to happen in the next few centuries." The bronze kingdom was led by a guy named Alexander the Great. Alexander the Great mastered and had his soldiers perfect the use of bronze in weaponry. So it was the bronze kingdom.
Alexander the Great would conquer the known world from Egypt to India by the age of 33. He would conquer and come in and be the third kingdom represented here. What's interesting is 200 years later when Alexander was conquering the world and establishing his kingdom, he comes outside of Jerusalem. He is about to take down Israel.
The high priest goes outside of the city and brings with him the book of Daniel and says, "Don't kill us. We saw you coming. Our God told us that you were here and that you would conquer." Alexander the Great is so flattered that his kingdom would written and prophesied about and here in chapter 7 that he doesn't destroy the city. He moves forward.
Yet after this kingdom, we're told of another one that would raise up. Where Daniel says, "Following that kingdom, there will be a fourth one, as strong as iron. That kingdom will smash and crush all previous empires, just as iron smashes and crushes everything it strikes." So there's going to be an even stronger kingdom. Iron was known as the strongest metal at the time.
This kingdom would be represented by Rome. It would be stronger than all the others. Rome established a military might unlike anything the world had ever seen. They ruled for hundreds of years. All of this is written 600 years before any of that would ever happen. Daniel is saying, "King Nebuchadnezzar, God has told you what is going to happen."
Now before we go to the next point and discover why he was so terrified at that reality, I just want to camp on something in the second observation. Everything is under God's control. Everyone needs God, and everything is under God's control. I want you to think about what Daniel just said. We often think that, "Where is God, and how could this be happening?"
Daniel just said, "There's going to be an empire set up by Alexander the Great, who is anything but a worshipper of God, and God is going to be sovereignly over him ruling. There's going to be an empire set up by the Persians. (Remember Xerxes?) They're going to basically invent crucifixion, and they're going to be a wicked-filled people, but God is going to allow their empire to be established. God is going to allow the Roman Empire to be established."
God is in control of everything. These men sit and they think that they're in control. They are pawns in the story God is writing. He will use anyone and everyone and everything because everything is underneath God's control. Daniel even highlights this in verse 21 where he says, "He controls the course of world events; he removes kings and sets up other kings."
He is sovereign and in control over what is happening in Ukraine, over what's happening in Dallas, over what's happening in Russia, what happened in Iran. God is sovereign and in control over all of it. The Scripture tells us that as believers, we have a promise from God that he is using and will use everything in this life to bring about good for those who love him.
Romans, chapter 8, verse 28 says that God works all things together for good for the people of God, or for those who love him. "Make no mistake, King Nebuchadnezzar, you are not in control, but there is one who is." In this season because we have a newborn, my wife often will send me and I'll take the kids and we'll go shopping. Because there's some age where it's like until 12 weeks and they have shots, you're basically kind of like on lockdown with the baby.
So she'll hang at home with him, and I'll take the other two kids and we'll go out shopping, which is honestly one of the most exhausting things of all time. Because you walk into a store with two little kids, and they're just going crazy running around. You're trying to… It's the walk of shame as people look at you like, "What kind of parent are you right there? They don't even have clothes on!"
They're running around going, "Hey, can we get a toy? Can we get a toy?" I'm like, "We're at the gas station! They don't have toys at the gas station." That's just what they think. Anytime they go shopping anywhere, they're going to get a toy. So it's just madness. Sometimes I honestly just give them a toy, "Just stop. Just stop. Take the toy."
There's one exception to shopping that honestly it focuses all of their energy and distracts them with enough time that it makes it a little bit more enjoyable. That's when you go to a shopping center that has a shopping cart with a car on it. It looks something like this. Why is that important? Because they get in the cart and they think that they're driving the cart.
So they're like, "Yes! We're going this way. Yes! We're going this way." They're taking turns and they're going around. We're going through and getting the list of things Mom said we have to go get. Inevitably while we're driving, there comes a point where they want to take another lap around the store and I need to go get a lightbulb or go get something else. They turn right, and I turn left.
They discover, "Wait a second! I'm not driving this thing at all!" They may throw a fit. They may freak out. They may react, but they become very aware who is driving the cart. The message of the Bible and what Daniel is depicting is "Don't buy the lie that you're driving the cart." But there is a God in heaven who is actively involved in the events and the circumstances of the world around you.
He is in control. There is nothing that you or I will ever face that he is not sovereignly over, that he is not in power over, that he will not use to bring about good from for the people of God, because he is in control. This should move us to do a couple of things that I think Daniel modeled. One of them is Daniel is faced with a problem, and what does he do? Immediately…
We don't ask God for help. Daniel models just what a belief and a death grip on, "My God is in control of everything, so I can ask him, because he can change and do anything," can do. It moves him to go to God in prayer. The second thing that we see modeled out from him is…
What's astounding about the predictions is, think about it. All of these would come to pass. Daniel lays out these are the only empires that will ever exist. To this date, he has been correct. I mean, March Madness is going on right now. In the history of March Madness, not one person has ever successfully predicted a bracket. Not one! He lays out and predicts every world empire that will ever be and gets them exactly right, because he knew the God who controls everything. The final observation we see is that…
What is he saying right there? This is one of those that the interpretation is divided. It's either referring to what happened after Rome, which was Europe, in that there would be kingdoms that would rise up, but no super kingdom would ever quite dominate all of that area. And they would have marriages where Henry the Fifth would marry some French lady and they'd try to hold and build a stronger kingdom, but it wouldn't last.
Or he is referring to a kingdom that will rise up at the very end made up of 10 kings like the 10 toes in the feet that Revelation points to. Either way, it's Daniel reflecting, "Hey, there was not going to be another superpower like these that will rule and expand and conquer all of the world." Verse 44:
"During the reigns of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed or conquered. It will crush all these kingdoms into nothingness, and it will stand forever. That is the meaning of the rock cut from the mountain, though not by human hands, that crushed to pieces the statue of iron, bronze, clay, silver, and gold. The great God was showing the king what will happen in the future. The dream is true, and its meaning is certain."
Nebuchadnezzar hears it, knows it, and falls, we're told in verse 46, at Daniel's feet and worships him. He commanded sacrifices be made. Then he said to Daniel, "Truly, your God is the greatest of gods, the Lord over kings, a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this secret." Then he gives Daniel a promotion and puts him in charge of all the wise men.
Every kingdom but God's won't last. This is why Nebuchadnezzar was terrified. Candidly, this is why a lot of people, when they think about the end of their life, become terrified. Nebuchadnezzar is confronted with the fact that "There is going to come another kingdom that's going to destroy yours. Yours is not going to last. In fact, every human kingdom will be ultimately destroyed."
And it filled him with terror that "I spent my entire life trying to build walls of security, trying to build a name for myself." And Daniel is saying, "Your kingdom will not last. What you have given all of your strength and years of life to will be blown away like a sand castle when the tide comes in and you will have wasted your life, oh king, because every kingdom but God's won't last."
The same instruction is applicable to us today. Knowing that God's kingdom alone will last, it will do two things. It will either create hope when you hear that you have given your life to the only thing that eternally is going to matter or horror when your life is done, because you will realize you have wasted and you have given yourself to something that will not last and wasted your life. The king felt horror as he looked at the coming kingdom of God.
The other thing that we see is the stone, which is Daniel and his picture of Jesus. Notice it said a stone not cut by human hands. What does that mean? It was a stone that was divinely created. It wasn't cut from the mountain by any human work. It was a stone that had not been formed by human hands. It's going to come down and it's going to crush every kingdom that exists.
Jesus will establish a kingdom, and every other kingdom in this world and every leading nation and empire will be crushed underneath the wonder of the everlasting kingdom Jesus is going to create. Daniel says it is true, it is sure, and it is coming. Our God is establishing a kingdom that will never fade. Every kingdom but God's won't last.
As it's been said, history… The point of all human history is that it is his story, our God's. Daniel is giving a spoiler alert to Nebuchadnezzar: "You are going to waste your life." And you will waste your life if you spend it trying to build and amass your kingdom and focused on you getting the house and getting the car and getting the raise and make a million by 30, all of which are great and I hope that you do, but if that is the focal point of your life, you are building a kingdom that will not last.
The Scriptures teach us the way that we live for an eternal kingdom starts with living with an eternal mindset. What do I mean by that? You read the New Testament and you see verses like, "Set your mind on things above…" Colossians, chapter 3, verse 2 says. Or in 2 Corinthians, chapter 4, it says, "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
That's where we fix our focus. That leads to living from an eternal mindset. The Scriptures say that when it comes to how you think about your life, the way that you and I live for a kingdom that actually will last, is we begin to think through the lens of eternity. What does that mean? It means that at your job, you don't see yourself just there to work and get a paycheck. You see yourself there as someone to promote the name of Jesus, to share the gospel with people around you, to speak…
When somebody brings up how they're walking through a hard time and they really are facing challenges, you're a voice that's there that says, "Can I tell you where I turn where things are hard? Can I just share what I feel like God has been really growing in me lately?" You see it as an eternal opportunity as Titus, chapter 2, says to promote in everything the teachings of our Savior.
That means when it comes to thinking of a spouse, you think through the lens of eternity. You're not just looking for somebody who is hot or not or somebody who has some sort of body type. I'm looking for someone who has an eternal mindset. Because no human relationship is going to impact this life or my eternal life and how I use this life like my spouse. So I'm looking for somebody who wants to lock arms as we raise disciples, make babies, and live for eternity.
When it comes to your time, you don't think, "Oh, my 20s. These are my years to spend on you, to sow my wild oats." It looks like, "I want to live for Jesus and my generation. I'm going to use the life, the gifts, the time that he has given me to do what Ecclesiastes 12 says. I'm going to remember my Creator in my youth. Because I'm going to build into the only kingdom that will last."
Daniel has a confidence because he says, "You, king, have been building a kingdom that's going to crumble. God is telling you the human history. He doesn't tell anybody else this specific of a narrative of what is to come. Because God wants you to repent. God is pursuing you, Nebuchadnezzar. He wants you to know you don't have to give your life to building your kingdom. You can know the God of heaven and you can be a part of building his or you will be crushed by it."
Daniel models living and embracing, "I'm going to have a mindset that flows from my relationship with my God." In the inside of my wedding ring, my wife had written 2 Corinthians, chapter 5, verses 14 and 15 where it talks about Paul's description of how we now see this life as those of us who are believers and that we live for the only kingdom that lasts.
He says in verse 14, "For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all…" That's Jesus. "…and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again." Verse 20: "We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us."
There was a story this week that I read of a missionary named James Calvert. He was a missionary to the Fiji Islands in the mid-1800s. When you think of Fiji, you probably think like I do of just huts over the water that have glass. That's a pretty sweet gig to be a missionary to, but Fiji in the 1850s was very different. The island had native tribes there that were cannibals.
James Calvert felt called to go and share the message of Jesus with these men. So he took a group with him, and they were going there to share the gospel. They get on the boat, and they ride over and arrive at Fiji. The captain of the boat says, "You can't stay here. If you stay here, you will die, and all of the men with you will die." James Calvert responds and says, "We died before we came here."
This was expounded upon by someone else who later said, "In Christ, we died to ambition, selfish goals, our own dreams. We died to self and everything the self desires. We died that Christ may live in and through us. That whatever we attempt within his call of God, brings him glory. We died before we came here so that there'd be no hindrance, no barriers within ourselves to follow Christ in the areas of the world where there is a great darkness and a yearning for the light."
What is being said? It's "I've already died to living for myself. I'm not here for that purpose. I'm here to build the only kingdom that matters and that will last." In conclusion, everyone needs God, everything is under God's control, and every kingdom other than God's will fade. Now there's one last prediction that I didn't highlight that you see has happened.
It's the prediction that he had in verses 34 and 35. I'm going to read it again. Daniel was saying, "Here's what you saw. You saw the statue and then you saw this rock. It came out of the heavens, and it smashed everything earthly kingdom. "But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth."
What is he talking about? He is talking about Jesus. He is talking about the message of Jesus. This is another one of the prophecies that we have seen happen with the message of Christianity, the message of Jesus, which is what? In case you're curious, it's that God came into the world in the form of Christ Jesus 2,000 years ago. He died on the cross for you, for me, for anyone who has ever sinned, which is everyone.
He gave his life as the payment for your sin. Anyone who believes in him and accepts his death and resurrection as payment for the mistakes they made, the sin in their life, they will live forever, the Bible says. That message has exploded past the walls of the empire it was formed in and spread all over the earth. That stone has become a great mountain covering the whole earth.
What do I mean by that? People think of Christianity as something that's in the West or something in America. Christianity is exploding all over the world. You look at Latin America. You look at Asia. The countries that are exploding with Christianity far outnumber even today. In fact, the fastest places the gospel is growing today are Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Two-thirds of all self-identifying Christians today live in Africa, Asia, or Latin America.
To say Christianity is just something for white people in the West or something for Americans or something is crazy and lives in denial of what is actually true. The fact is that the gospel is exploding all over Africa today… There are more practicing Christians in Africa than all of Europe combined.
There are more Anglicans, which is the church in England, in Africa than there are in England. There are more Presbyterian, which is the church of Scotland, inside of Ghana than there are in Scotland. There are more Christians, scholars say, today in China than in all of America. By 2050 it is estimated that the population of China will be a majority Christian nation in a country where it is outlawed.
The message of Jesus is exploding because our God said it would be a message that would be a stone that will eventually topple all earthly kingdoms and will spread and be a mountain covering the whole earth. Don't buy the lie that Christianity is in any form on its way out because our God is a rock of salvation to those who trust in him, a rock that will not be stopped, and a force that is growing all over. Through the same God who worked through Daniel. Let me pray.
Father, I thank you that you are at work all over our world, and there are brothers and sisters right now who are praying in every language, of every socioeconomic status, of every skin color, every nationality in hundreds of languages. They're crying out and praying to the same God that Daniel prayed to who gave Nebuchadnezzar the dream.
I pray you would prevent this generation, ourselves, from living for a kingdom that will not last. I pray that anyone who has never put their faith in that message that is spreading and filling the whole earth of our God who came to save, tonight would be their night. We worship you in song. Amen.