Tuesday 5 August

Vaughan Roberts leading the morning Bible teaching at New Horizon
Vaughan Roberts leading the morning Bible teaching at New Horizon

This week at New Horizon, Vaughan Roberts (Rector of St Ebbe’s Church in Oxford) is leading the morning Bible teaching sessions from the book of Daniel.  Here is a summary of Monday’s teaching on Daniel chapter 3.

Daniel chapters 4 and 5: Here we have two chapters describing how two kings respond to the living God. Both are set on a course of proud opposition. Both receive a warning but only one heeds the warning. F

We can never ask the living God to move to the sidelines for our convenience. He is the great reality, the ultimate authority, unmoveable and unshakeable. We will either choose to build our lives on that rock and submit to Jesus Christ, or one day we will crash into it.

What is the fundamental principle of wisdom? The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Daniel’s message shows the wisdom of submitting to the living God – a message for believers and a warning for unbelievers.

In the first four chapters, Nebuchadnezzar is the most powerful man in the world and God is teaching him that there is a great authority.  In chapter 4 comes a warning that Nebuchadnezzar will be humbled until he acknowledges that God alone is sovereign. But he didn’t listen. He wanted to be the god.

Every ability we have, every opportunity, every ounce of energy, every breath we take has been given to us by the living God. If we achieve anything, He should get the glory.

The Great Sin of Pride

What is the worse sin? Living in this world that God made, as if I am God. The great sin of pride. CS Lewis describes it as, “The complete anti-God state of mind.”

Belshazzar takes the goblets set apart for the Holy God and uses them for a drunken feast and praised the idols of gold and silver. It is a deliberately provocative act. Today some people openly scorn God.

The Great Love and Power of God

Daniel is not the hero of the book of Daniel – God is. The important question is, “What is the great truth about God in this passage?” Once we see that, there are lessons to be learnt for our everyday life.

Here we have a revelation about God – His love, His compassion and His power. God gives these two pagan kings a warning and an opportunity to repent.

Nebuchadnezzar exalted himself. God humbled him and brought him down. He tried to rise above his humanity. He wanted to be equal with God.  The little voice says, “You can be god-like.” God will not be mocked. Sin always de-humanises.

The contrast between what happens to Nebuchadnezzar and the defiant pride of Belshazzar is stark. He does not heed the warnings of history. But this arrogant man becomes a pathetic, shivering wreck when God starts to speak!

The great urgency of repentance

Both kings had the same opportunity but there is a strikingly different response.

Nebuchadnezzar repented. He recognises the Most High God and gives Him glory! He raised his eyes towards heaven. His sanity was restored as he praised the Most High God. He recognised the world as it is – revolving around the mighty God.

Belshazzar’s response is the opposite – continuing defiance. The message is, “You have been numbered and found wanting.” That very night he was killed and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom. Judgement will come for those who reject God and refuse to repent.

Ultimately proud human beings will be humbled. Human authority will come crashing down and be left as dust. The Kingdom of God will become the mountain that fills the earth.  The living God reigns and one day everyone will know it. It is an encouragement to the faithful but a warning to the proud.