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The Thread of Life – Part 18 (The image and the ruler)
September 26, 2021

The Thread of Life – Part 18 (The image and the ruler)

September 26, 2021

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The Thread of Life – 31 Stories that point to Jesus

Part 18

Welcome to Jesus Church: Here and Online

We are in a series called “The thread of life”


How many of you know that we believe in the Bible

  • We believe the Bible is the Living Word of God
    • That God speaks through his Word to our everyday lives
    • That it is life changing and life giving
  • But we also believe in reading the Bible well
    • We believe in context and understanding
    • We believe it is our responsibility to take the Bible as a whole
    • B/C beginning to end we see the proven character of God

Last week was about King Hezekiah if u weren’t here

King Hezekiah was the one of only 5 kings who followed God

  • That’s out of 208 years… and 38 kings
    • While most worshiped idols and followed pagan gods
    • King Hezekiah sought after God and was blessed for it
  • Says 1st thing he did was reopened the temple – been abandoned
    • He purified the land of false gods
    • And most important – Reminded God’s people of their identity

And what was so powerful… when his enemies came against him

  • 185k strong… They spoke in a voice he could understand
    • To a situation that in the physical seemed hopeless
    • But he fell to his knees: Prayed – Praised – Worshiped
      • And God destroyed his enemies w/o him lifting a sword
  • And because of the way he lived a life of purity
    • He & all he was in authority over… their lives were blessed

2 Chron 32:26

… the Lord’s wrath did not come upon them during the days of Hezekiah.


STORY – Swimming in the Puget Sound in January

Growing up many know I lived in Washington

  • Went to Xian school – Most friends I had… knew from 2nd grade
    • And after you graduate… everyone at college across country
    • That 1st break everyone comes home determined to see friends
    • B/C we are gonna be friends forever (some stick & some don’t)
  • But the first winter break my friend had a cabin up on Puget Sound
    • So a bunch of us went up there to see each other
    • Most of us went to the same church as well…
    • So I brought my guitar for worship – Did a Bible study
  • So in the morning… had heated pool and spa in the deck overlooking water
    • Snow on the ground… drinking hot chocolate… talking life
    • Looking over the water – buoys out to warn boats (no wake)
    • Said to my friend: I bet u I can swim to that buoy and u can’t
      • He didn’t even have to say anything

So we jump out… running down boat dock and dive into the water

  • I remember thinking I might die when I hit the water
    • But was too stupid to do anything about it
    • And it felt like everything in existence was against me
    • When we got to the buoy I wanted to give up…
      • I remember being out there… and I had to make a choice
      • Either give in and become one with the sea
      • Or push through to get back to the shore
  • All I knew was this water wasn’t something I could live in very long
    • It was a completely inhospitable environment
    • And I was either going to give in and drown
    • Or fight through and not give up (scared for buddy too)
  • Finally we both made it back – layed on the rocky beach
    • And I don’t remember the next few minutes after that
    • But I do remember being glad I pushed for the shore

So today we start a journey looking through Daniel

And Book of Daniel tells the story of these 4 men of God

  • They are captured & moved to new land/language/religion/culture
    • And they are struggling to maintain hope & faithfulness to God
    • As they live in a culture that has nothing to do with God
  • And that’s a tension that is familiar to Xians of every time period
    • B/C God’s people for most of history have been the minority
      • We will always be the counter-culture
      • Xianity was nothing in sea of Greek/Roman world
    • Everyone thought they were crazy… weird… made fun of them
      • Eventually made fun of them getting killed by gov’t

We don’t experience that… but do experience being a counter-culture

  • Its sorta like swimming in the Puget sound in the middle of winter
    • You know that you don’t belong in those waters
    • And its exhausting to be in those waters
    • It takes extreme effort to keep moving… no effort to give up
  • But the consequences of giving up/in – it’s not acceptable
    • And while at times is might seem like that’s the only option
    • The goal is to actually endure the water… get to where I can live
    • And that place (was the land) or spiritually the Kingdom of God
      • And that is going to show itself in our story this morning

But this is what Daniel opens up for us to look at

Living in a counter-cultural world is hard (following Jesus is hard)

  • If its not hard: My body is starting to feel warm… arms take a break
    • I need to reevaluate what I’m living or am I “one with the sea”
    • B/C Jesus teaching should always push/challenge me 2 the core

Jn 15:19

If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

  • So to actually live… follow… obey the teachings of Jesus together
    • Is like being in the middle of the Puget Sound
    • And we have to make the choice to push thru waters of culture
      • And that’s in everything… our time/money/value systems
      • Every part of our lives have to go through these waters
  • And throughout history God’s people have been the minority
    • B/C we push against the waters our spirit cannot give in to
    • And it takes more effort… emotionally… physically… spiritually
    • But for us who follow Jesus – It’s not even an option

Question: What will give us motivation to live a life fighting 4 the shore

  • What’s gonna get us to keep pushing through the waters
    • And not give in 2 the ocean surrounding us… calling us to relax
    • So turn with me to Daniel Chapter 2
  • This is a very long chapter… but super entertaining story as well
    • So I’ll read a bunch and summarize the rest
    • But its definitely worth picking up and reading yourself as well

Dan. 2:1-6 (ESV)

In the second your of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar (this is our story – he’s king of the world) Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his spirit was troubled, and his sleep left him.

  • So he has these dreams… wakes him up and now he can’t sleep

Then the king commanded that the magicians, the enchanters, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans be summoned to tell the king his dreams. So they came in and stood before the king. And the king said to them, “I had a dream and my spirit is troubled to know the dream.” Then the Chaldeans said to the king in Aramaic, “O king, live forever! (If in presence of a king… I think this is what you should always say) Tell your servants the dream, and we will show the interpretation. The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, “The word from me is firm: if you do not make known to me the dream and its interpretation, you shall be torn limb from limb and your houses shall be laid in ruins.

  • So clearly somebody has not had their coffee this morning
    • Super grumpy… and this is a bad day to be around the king

But if you show the dream and its interpretation, you shall receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. Therefore show me the dream and its interpretation.

So you can tell these “wise men” have played this game before

  • They get a dream and make something up to make the king happy
    • But that’s not gonna work this time
    • He is on the their little game and he’s in a really bad mood
  • It’s a hard decision… either u make something up and hope its right
    • Then when U say it was about flying pink elephants (you die)
    • But if you say nothing (you die)
    • So basically they are all just dead men

Dan. 2:11 (ESV)

The thing the king asks is difficult, and no one can show it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh. (I think that got God’s attention) Because of this the king was angry and very furious, and commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be destroyed.

This is where Daniel enters the story – considered a wise man

  • So the decree goes out… they go to bring Daniel to be executed
    • Daniel wants to know what’s going on
    • The captain of the Kings guard tells him
  • Daniel says: I’ll interpret the dream – Just give me a little time
    • He tells his friends: Shadrach / Meshack / Amendego to pray
    • And God gives him the dream and the interpretation

So Daniel downloads this dream… then gives this prayer/song to God

  • Whenever a song found in middle of story in OT – Pay attention
    • Authors bring all the core themes of the story together
    • Which are again: How to endure in a culture you don’t belong

Dan. 2:20-23

Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings, he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding, he reveals deep and hidden things, he knows what is in the darkness and the light dwells with him. To you O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise for you have given me wisdom and might and have now made known to me what we asked of you for you have made known to us the kings matter.

  • Says praise God b/c he is wise… He knows where history is going
    • And there’s this crazy king that wants to kill everyone
    • But that’s not cause for concern… b/c who is king of the world
      • God is – And God in his way is directing the flow of history
      • Gives an immense amount of freedom as we will see
      • But not enough to take the train of the tracks
  • So the dream is of this magnificent “IMAGE”
    • Head is made of Gold
    • Chest & Arms made of silver
    • Legs made of iron
    • feet are part iron/part clay
  • But then the stone comes “made of no human hands”
    • Strikes the feet of the image that the whole things shatters
    • Wind carries it all away – Nothing can be found of the statue
    • But the stone turns into a mountain and fills the whole earth

That’s the dream – Now Daniel is going to interpret it

Dan. 2:37-41, 44-46

You, O king, the king of kings to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power and the might and the glory, and into whose hand he has given, wherever they dwell the children of man, the beasts of the field and the birds of the heavens, making you rule over them all – you are the head of gold. (that would make anyone happy) Another kingdom inferior to you shall arise after you and yet a third kingdom of bronze which shall rule over all the earth. And there shall be a fourth kingdom strong as iron, because iron breaks to pieces and shatters all things. And like iron that crushes, it shall break and crush all these. And as you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, it shall be a divided kingdom, but some of the firmness of iron shall be in it, just as you saw iron mixed with the soft clay.

And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever, just as you saw that a stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay the silver and the gold. A great God has made known to the king what shall be after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation sure. Then the king fell upon his face and paid homage to Daniel, and commanded that an offering and incense be offered up to him. The king answered and said to Daniel, “Truly your God is God of gods and Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery.

  • Remember the song Daniel sang – Who is the true king of world
    • The God of Daniel
    • And now the King of Babylon agrees (for a little bit)

So what does any of this mean for us…

For Daniel – Exiled to this foreign land… struggling to remain faithful

  • His first test to swim against freezing water
    • And before that… lets look at what wasn’t a test
      • Daniel was ok learning the language
      • Daniel was ok wearing their clothes
      • Daniel was ok with a Babylonian name
      • Even took a government job (none viewed as compromise)
    • What is a compromise is what he ate… why?
      • Food was something that distinguished God’s people
      • It set his identity apart from other people groups
  • And this will become an ongoing challenge of keeping his identity
    • And he never pulls away from society – Literally works for it
    • But what isn’t ok is for him to give up his identity in His God
    • Or to drown in the ocean of culture surrounding him

So what got Daniel through… was the vision he see’s in chapter 2

  • If u live in Babylon… who is the king of the world (Nebuchadnezzar)
    • And what you realize in Dan. 2… yes this guy is powerful
    • But who is the ACTUAL king of the world: God of Heaven
      • He gives humans responsibility to rule… but He’s the king
  • That doesn’t mean Nebuchadnezzer isn’t important
    • He’s very important… in the dream he is a golden head
    • And even Daniel calls him “The king of kings”
      • And that sounds weird – Isn’t God the king of kings
      • Yes… king of ALL kings – but God also establishes this king
  • And look what it says: God gave him dominion/power/might
    • In his hands God placed all beast of the field & brids of the sky
    • Nebuchadnezzar rules the beasts and birds???
    • And what we need to understand is was Jewish author is saying
      • He uses language that original audience would totally get

The first clue given is: All rulers in dream are symbolized by an “IMAGE”

  • Is there another place in Bible where humans told 2 rule as image
    • Yes it’s in the 1st 2 pages of the Bible – Gen. 1&2
    • Which by the way… everything leads back to Gen. 1&2
    • And it establishes the nature and purpose of humanity

Hebrew = tselem means image or statue – That’s word used in Dan. 2

Gen. 1:27-28

So God created humanity in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it, rule over the fish of the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.

  • “Image of God” in west: What separates us from rest of creation
    • Spirit… Reason… Covenant Promises (that’s not in scripture)
    • But here we find what the image of God is all about
    • Gen. 1&2 shows image isn’t what we possess… it’s what we are

Humans are the image of God – and what are we told 2 do as this image

  • 1 – Multiply thru this family by covenant relationship/promise
    • And out of that covenant new life is generated
      • That’s an image of God… tells us about God’s nature
      • That God is a community of love in covenant to each other
      • And out of that… life is created
  • 2 – After the life is created… we are then called to Rule
    • Thats not a word we use much (unless we really like something)
      • Like if you are a manager at subway… don’t rule subway
      • Employees might think you think you rule… but u don’t
      • It’s not a word we use
    • But it’s about authority – Humans have unique role in the world
      • And its not hard to see it… monkeys didn’t build New York
      • We have a unique ability to not only inhabit the world
      • We are able to remake the world as we go along
        • And this is another way that we “IMAGE” God
        • We rule… take raw materials (just like God did)
        • Cultivate it into amazing things – that’s unique to us

Tag: But with that purpose/commission comes great responsibility

So back to dream – What is God saying thru it

King being shown he has huge responsibility – All humans called to rule

  • But some are called to rule in a larger capacity
    • But even those are just an image of the true king
    • Again: Not what we possess – its who we are
    • And that’s all of humanity… As Christians its what we possess
  • And the temptation of humanity is to take that responsibility
    • Get a name… accomplish something… have some success
    • And now I feel like a god – in your house… b/c I rule
    • And you get a cat and feel like u rule (but so do they)
  • And then you do become manager of that subway
    • And it feels good to tell people what to do
    • And it does something to us… it wants to continue to grow

And we all know the phrase: Absolute power corrupts absolutely

  • And Nebuchadnezzar being reminded – He has huge power
    • But he is just an image
    • And his call is to reflect God’s power/authority over the world
  • When we forget that – Image of power/authority becomes an idol
    • And that’s what happens to this king in the next chapter
    • He forces the world to call him a god b/c of power
    • Might sound irrelevant but again… think about the cat at home
      • You want it to know u are in charge – power over its life
  • And yes he is the ruler… But God shows Daniel that its not forever
    • Babylon lasted for a solid 1000 years
    • Roman empire lasted less than 500
    • And the United states hasn’t even hit 250 yet
      • We feel like we’ve been here forever… and will be forever
      • That’s just how humans think – But its not true
  • Every kingdom is temporary…
    • Until this giant “ROCK” comes that “isn’t of human hands”
    • And that’s bad new for Babylon… great news for Daniel

Remember again what this book is about: How do u swim in the waters

  • This is a reminder… this isn’t how it is going to be forever
    • Kinda like when the Patriots always seem 2 win the Superbowl
    • It was so annoying… thought it would never end
    • But now the Patriots are terrible
  • But when u realize how impermanent something is… less daunting
    • When you are going thur a storm – Its gonna change
    • And that’s what the author wants us to understand
    • It’s not gonna be like this forever
      • And because of that… you can endure the freezing waters

And I want to end talking about this rock

Again a rock not made by human power

  • And it completely destroys all the kingdoms… and replaces them
    • It turns into a huge mountain
    • What does it say that rock is – It’s the Kingdom of Heaven
    • It’s the rule and reign of God here on earth
  • So the point of the rock – Really the entire dream… end result
    • This is all temporary… and God will establish a forever kingdom
    • For Daniel – This is what will sustain him in his world
      • It’s hope… it’s a promise of a future
      • It’s belief that where the world is heading: Kingdom of God
  • And what does the rock do to the kingdoms of this world
    • Annihilates them – which is pretty violent
      • What does it mean… Gods kingdom will destroy the world
      • And we know Daniel was very important to Jesus
      • He was constantly quoting it

So look how the kingdom of God destroys everything through Jesus

  • Jesus enters Jerusalem on a donkey: Talking about kingdom of God
    • All of them have Daniel 2 in their minds (violence)
      • But nothing like that actually happens
      • Instead he is arrested and beaten
    • And look what they do to him
      • What’s put on his shoulders – His royal robe
      • What’s put on his head – A crown of thorns
      • And what happens to body – Lifted up on a cross
      • He even gets a title saying “King of the Jews”
  • In the upper room right before events that lead to crucifixion
    • Jesus tells disciples all this bad stuff is about to go down
    • But have peace… for I have conquered the world
    • Then he almost immediately he gets arrested/beaten/killed
      • How did he conquer the world…
      • By being conquered by the world???

What’s happening: It’s the backwards way the rock smashes into history

  • Why is it different that everything we would picture
    • Because we are the image of God… He is not the image of us
    • He smash the kingdoms by letting them smash him
    • When does the kingdom of God show up
      • Its in the Life (manger)…
      • Its in the Death (criminals death)
      • And in the Resurrection (that one was pretty epic)

Col. 2:15

After God disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

  • Somehow the cross represents a moment of defeat and victory
    • God allowed this world to do to him what we do to each other
    • And it was a point where he takes the penalty of sin and death
    • But also becomes the place where He conquers it
  • And in that he shows us what his kingdom looks like
    • Not a kingdom of power by force… but power by love
    • A kingdom where the last are first
    • A kingdom where to enter you must be like a child

And in the depths of the waters – You can find the shore…

  • If you remember that the kingdom of God is at hand
    • This is not forever… so don’t give up



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