As a young man, Daniel resolved to remain obedient to God throughout his life. As we encounter him in his later years, we find that he stood firm in his decision to live for the Lord. Alistair Begg teaches that Daniel was distinguished because of his obedience to God and faithfulness in his work, yet for these reasons he was also despised by his peers. Looking to Daniel as an example, we are challenged to consider what it looks like to trust God and serve Him faithfully in the midst of a world that opposes Him.
Facing an edict forbidding prayer to anyone but the king, Daniel continued his established pattern of private prayer to Almighty God. Alistair Begg explains that Daniel’s steady faithfulness, unjust suffering, and ultimate deliverance must point us forward to the greater conflict at hand. Despite the best efforts of the evil one to destroy the kingdom of God, our faithful Savior is victorious. We can look to Him in times of crisis knowing that He lives, reigns, and is mighty to save.
King Belshazzar threw an extravagant feast marked by sacrilege, idolatry, and pride. Although he knew how God had dealt with Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar failed to humble himself before the Lord. Alistair Begg explains that this story represents a major theme of Daniel, that God has authority over every earthly ruler and kingdom, and He is the only one worthy of our worship. No one is innocent before God, but He freely offers forgiveness to those who humble themselves before His goodness and power.
God warned Nebuchadnezzar in a dream to repent of his rebellion and pride, but he continued in sin, placing his trust in his own kingdom and authority. Alistair Begg reminds us that it is God’s great mercy that gives each person the opportunity to repent and turn to Him, but His justice awaits if we refuse. Understanding the sovereignty of God will either provoke us to rebellion or draw us to humbly bow before Him who establishes and removes the rulers of the earth.
Daniel Chapter 4 records Nebuchadnezzar’s journey from rebellion to praise, a hard path marked by humiliation. Alistair Begg explains that God does not relent in His gracious pursuit of sinners, but brings men and women face to face with His greatness so that we can appreciate our need. The wonder of the Gospel is that this God, who is completely sufficient and perfect in who He is, humbled Himself in Christ Jesus so that we can be reconciled to Him.
Nebuchadnezzar demanded that his advisors not only interpret his dream, but tell him what the dream was about. While this was impossible for humans, the God Daniel worshipped is able to reveal mysteries, and He empowered His servant to fulfill the king’s request. In this message, Alistair Begg explains that the main point of the dream is that all of human history is under God’s control. A believer’s ultimate security is in the promise Daniel conveyed and Jesus fulfilled: an everlasting Kingdom that supplants all earthly realms and overcomes death.
The story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is familiar, but behind it lies the age-old conflict between men in rebellion against God and those who submit to His rule. Alistair Begg explains that the three men responded in faith because they were convinced that God had spoken, that He meant what He said, and that they could commit themselves to His care. God is able to deliver His people, and we must not compromise even if the cost is our lives.
Although they were captives in Babylon, Daniel and his friends submitted to their captors through changes in location, education, and even their names. When required to surrender the dietary practices that marked them as God’s own people, however, they resisted. As Alistair Begg leads us through this passage, we see that it provides not so much a strategy to cope with trying times, but comfort and encouragement to be faithful. The focus of the story is not Daniel, but the God that he worshipped.
The Apostle Paul concluded his final letter with messages to and about his colleagues and friends. Within these personal remarks, Alistair Begg identifies three principles we can apply today: the ordinary experiences of our lives are vehicles for God’s Providence; believers need gospel partnerships to grow in their faith and to function as a local congregation; and when in God’s time we are separated from our brethren, we do so graciously and with grace.
Paul had been been deserted by his friends, but he took comfort in the presence of Christ, knowing that it would allow the message of the Gospel to be proclaimed. Alistair Begg provides four verbs to describe Paul's situation in prison: opposed, deserted, strengthened, and rescued. This example reminds us that the comfort we experience from the presence of the Lord with us is directly related to His purposes for us.