Sermon by Rev. Trevor Johnston
Series: The God I Wish You Knew, Week 3 – “He Reveals”
- Icebreaker: Pastor Trevor started his sermon with a clip from the movie “Ghostbusters.” What is one of your favorite movies, and why did you like it?
- The Old Testament book of Daniel took place during a time when the Israelites were exiles in Babylon. The King of Babylon had selected some of the most gifted young Israelite men to serve as part of his team of advisors. Daniel was one of these. Read Daniel 2:1-28a, and 45b-47:
“In the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his mind was troubled and he could not sleep. 2 So the king summoned the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers to tell him what he had dreamed. When they came in and stood before the king, 3 he said to them, “I have had a dream that troubles me and I want to know what it means.”
4 Then the astrologers answered the king, “May the king live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will interpret it.”
5 The king replied to the astrologers, “This is what I have firmly decided: If you do not tell me what my dream was and interpret it, I will have you cut into pieces and your houses turned into piles of rubble. 6 But if you tell me the dream and explain it, you will receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. So tell me the dream and interpret it for me.”
7 Once more they replied, “Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will interpret it.”
8 Then the king answered, “I am certain that you are trying to gain time, because you realize that this is what I have firmly decided: 9 if you do not tell me the dream, there is only one penalty for you. You have conspired to tell me misleading and wicked things, hoping the situation will change. So then, tell me the dream, and I will know that you can interpret it for me.”
10 The astrologers answered the king, “There is no one on earth who can do what the king asks! No king, however great and mighty, has ever asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or astrologer. 11 What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among humans.”
12 This made the king so angry and furious that he ordered the execution of all the wise men of Babylon. 13 So the decree was issued to put the wise men to death, and men were sent to look for Daniel and his friends to put them to death.
14 When Arioch, the commander of the king’s guard, had gone out to put to death the wise men of Babylon, Daniel spoke to him with wisdom and tact. 15 He asked the king’s officer, “Why did the king issue such a harsh decree?” Arioch then explained the matter to Daniel. 16 At this, Daniel went in to the king and asked for time, so that he might interpret the dream for him. 17 Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 18 He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.
19 During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven 20 and said: “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. 21 He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. 22 He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him. 23 I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors: You have given me wisdom and power, you have made known to me what we asked of you, you have made known to us the dream of the king.”
24 Then Daniel went to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to execute the wise men of Babylon, and said to him, “Do not execute the wise men of Babylon. Take me to the king, and I will interpret his dream for him.”
25 Arioch took Daniel to the king at once and said, “I have found a man among the exiles from Judah who can tell the king what his dream means.”
26 The king asked Daniel (also called Belteshazzar), “Are you able to tell me what I saw in my dream and interpret it?”
27 Daniel replied, “No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, 28 but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in days to come….
45 “The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy.”
46 Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell prostrate before Daniel and paid him honor and ordered that an offering and incense be presented to him. 47 The king said to Daniel, “Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery.”
- Why did Nebuchadnezzar give his staff such an impossible task – to not only tell the meaning of his dream, but also to describe the dream itself? What good quality in Nebuchadnezzar is revealed in this challenging request?
- There are many “spiritual” and “religious” ideas available to us today. How can a person discern which ideas are the right ones to listen to? How can we know what is true?
- God had placed Daniel in Nebuchadnezzar’s life to be a voice of truth. Have you ever sensed that God placed a person in your life to be His voice of truth to you personally? Describe that experience and why you believe God was behind it.
- Read Matthew 7:7-8:
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
What does this passage tell you about how a person can get to know God and His will? What does this passage reveal about what God is like?
- Read Romans 1:19-21:
“…what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities– his eternal power and divine nature– have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
In Romans, Paul explains that God reveals Himself to all humanity in basically two ways, which we call “general revelation”. Creation is one form of “general revelation” (see Romans 1:19-21). What can a person learn about God just through creation alone?
- Read Romans 2:14-15:
“When Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.”
In Romans 2:14-15, Paul names another type of “general revelation” through which God seeks to reveal Himself to people: the human conscience. Every civilization has some sense of right and wrong. All humans have a conscience. How does that help us know God?
- In addition to “general revelation” (creation and human conscience), God also provides “special revelation.” We use this term to refer to God’s more specific and personal ways of revealing Himself to people. One of the primary ways God has revealed Himself is through the Bible.
- What advantages does the Bible have over general revelation (creation and conscience), when it comes to helping people know God?
- If you have ever had a time when you felt God speaking to you through the Bible, tell about that experience.
- The author of Hebrews tells us that one form of God’s revelation is superior to all others. Read Hebrews 1: 1-3.
“In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.”
According to these verses, Jesus is the best, most accurate revelation of what God is like and what God wants to say to people. How can an awareness of this fact help us, when a difficult passage in the Old Testament causes confusion about what God is like?
What can we learn about God by looking at Jesus?
- Pastor Trevor told about a former Muslim named Nabeel Qureshi (author of the book “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus”) who wanted to know the truth about God. God gave Nabeel several dreams and visions to help him understand the truth about God. Dreams are another form of “special revelation.” Even today, people sometimes experience supernatural dreams that point them to Jesus. What does the fact that God sometimes provides supernatural dreams tell you about God and His heart?
- Why does God reveal Himself to people? What is His purpose in giving us all these various forms of revelation about Himself?