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Overwhelmed, But An Overcomer

Standing Firm & Staying Faithful In God's Sovereignty -- An Exposition of Daniel  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  49:37
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What Would You Do?

On Sunday night, March 22, 1992, a twin-engine jetliner, USAir flight 405, waited in line to take off from New York’s LaGuardia Airport. On board was Bart Simon, a Cleveland businessman. Outside, a snowstorm was blowing. After the plane sat in line for nearly thirty minutes, the control tower gave clearance for takeoff.

The Dutch-made Fokker F28 raced its engines and headed southeast down runway 13–31. The plane lifted into the air, but then the left wing dipped and scraped against the runway. The landing gear struck a set of navigational lights, and the plane touched back down to the left of the runway, splattering along in the mud for one hundred feet.

The plane then nosed briefly back up into the air, but the left wing hit antennas on the side of the runway, and the fuselage began to break apart. Finally the plane bounced into Flushing Bay.

Twenty-seven people were killed in the crash. But Bart Simon survived unharmed.

Surviving a plane crash is a traumatic experience. No one would blame Bart Simon if he chose never to fly again. No one would think twice if he decided the next day to drive home to Cleveland or to take a bus or train.

But on Monday, the day after the crash, Bart Simon climbed aboard another airplane and flew—safely—home to Cleveland.

Bart Simon is an overcomer.

Fear grounds many people. Fear paralyzes ministries, relationships, dreams, churches, careers. The only way to overcome is to do what we fear.

How would you respond if you were an eyewitness to that event?…would it make you sick to your stomach to know that the person sitting next to you died an horrific death? Would seeing the mass of dead bodies cause you to faint? And then after the initial shock of that event wore off, would you fly again? How would you respond if you saw that event first hand?
With those thoughts in mind please turn in your Bibles to Daniel 8

Vision of the Ram and the Goat

Daniel receives a vision from God that makes him an eyewitness to some devastating events…what Daniel sees turns his stomach and exhausts him, and then after a few days of recovery, he resumes the work God called him to do…he was overwhelmed, but he was also an overcomer.
So what God is doing here is giving Daniel visions that describe His plan for Israel and the world in an effort to encourage the people of his time and the next generations as well, to stay faithful.
The vision of Daniel 7 represents four successive kingdoms as four distinct, yet differing beasts…each of them corresponds to a part of the statue that Nebuchadnezzar dreamt in Daniel 2.
Daniel paid special attention to the fourth beast, the Roman Empire, especially in its final form…Rome Phase 2.
In this next vision, Daniel sees a zoomed in view of the second and third kingdoms…a vision of a ram overtaken by a goat.
This vision zeroes in on the kingdoms of Persia and Greece because both kingdoms would have a significant impact on Israel.
Persia — Cyrus would allow the Jews to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple and the city.
Greece — the conquests of Alexander brought the Greek language to the entire world paving the way for the writing of Scripture in a language everyone spoke.

Timeline of Daniel

605 BC - 562 BC..Chapter 1-4…Nebuchadnezzar conquers Israel...Neb dies in 562
Next 10 years or so Daniel serves several other rulers until Belshazzar gains control.
553 BC to 539 BC — Chapters 5, 7, 8 when Belshazzar is in power
Around 536 BC — Chapters 6, 9-12 — the Jews are allowed to return from exile
Daniel gives us a narrative of his life that covers 70+ years.
We can look back and see that Daniel gives an accurate accounting of human history…even though some of what Daniel prophesied is still to come, there were some events that have already transpired as human history.
You can look at Daniel 2, 7, 8 as pieces of the same prophetic puzzle that all fit together in human history…mention chart

Details of the Vision

Read Daniel 8:1-14
Belshazzar is the final Babylonian king…so when Daniel receives this dream its around 551 BC…but the city of Susa was the capital of Persia…so Daniel was transported in this vision to the capital of the Persian Empire.
Daniel 8:1-4, Daniel sees a Ram with 2 horns where one horn was larger than the other moving in every direction. This ram is very powerful, none could stop him, and filled with pride…magnified himself.
Daniel 8:5-8, Daniel sees a flying goat with one large horn who smashed both horns of the ram and just demolishes him. Now the goat magnifies himself , and in the zenith of his power and influence, that large horn is broken and 4 horns replace the one horn.
Daniel 8:9-14, the dream continues and Daniel sees another little horn growing out of one of the 4 horns, and eventually that horn becomes prominent. He cancels the sacrifices and for 7 years he is destructive against God’s people and the temple…his actions are so brutal they count down the days until the suffering ends.

Interpretation of the Vision

Read Daniel 8:15-19
Although Daniel had the ability to solve problems and interpret dreams, he still needed God’s help to understand them…so God sends Gabriel to explain it to him.
Read Daniel 8:20-27
Daniel 8:20The Ram with two horns is identified as the kingdom of Medo-Persia…remember that Babylon is still the world power when Daniel receives this vision...about 12 years later, Belshazzar dies and the Medo-Persians become the next world power…each horn represents one part of the partnership between the Medes and the Persians…new world power is coming.
Daniel 8:21-22, the flying goat is identified as the kingdom of Greece. The first king (horn) is Alexander the great … very powerful and also very young. Alexander’s conquest of the known world is rapid, but within 10 years he is dead and the Greek kingdom is divided into 4 groups each ruled by a Greek general. These events will happen long after Daniel died.
Daniel 8:23-26, Out of the four groups, there will be one king who is extremely brutal, ruthless and totally against God…he abolishes the sacrifices and will set himself up as a god…explain more in a minute.
Daniel 8:27, At first Daniel is exhausted and sick, sick for days, then once he recovered he went on doing the kings business.
Overwhelming isn’t it…what we need to know about Daniel 8 is that what was prophecy to Daniel is history to us…it has already occurred…but there are still some lessons to learn from this event…

Remember the overarching context of Daniel is that God is sovereign. And because He is in control over the affairs of men, His people are to remain faithful and stay strong, especially when the affairs of men bring great suffering.

Main Point: Over Comers Stay Faithful Even In Overwhelming Situations.

Verse 27 is the crucial part of this chapter…Daniel saw what was going to happen, it exhausted him and made him sick, but it did not keep him from doing what the Lord had called him to do…to be a faithful example in a discouraging, depressing and desperate time.
As we examine the details of this vision, it reveals to us the resolve of character Daniel needed to be an overcomer.
Let’s examine 4 traits of Daniel’s character that made him and overcomer...
Trait #1

Overcomers Stay Faithful Recognizing Their Need to Be Doing the King’s Business.

Daniel was exhausted and sick for days. The news about what was going to happen to God’s people, his people, literally made him sick to his stomach.
Daniel understands that his people will be ruled by others and he begins to see more and more that the present kingdom of the Babylonians are just one small part of the suffering the nation of Israel will experience.
From verses 23-26, we discover that Israel will experience great suffering…but even in knowing that, Daniel gets up and goes about doing what he is supposed to do...the business of the king…he doesn’t throw a pity party, or question God’s plan…he deals with it theologically…he knows what he is supposed to do and does it.
Is there legitimate suffering? Yes, Absolutely…the suffering he witnessed made him sick...Does that result in Daniel shutting down his life? No, he moved on from it.
What did Daniel do in the face of an overwhelming situation… he went about the King’s business.
What that means for us is that you and I must go, continue to go about the king’s business even in the face of suffering and opposition…our King’s business...As a church we receive our marching orders directly from God in through Jesus Christ...
Matthew 28:19–20 NASB95
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
How that translates to us for 2018 is that we are to continually be about doing the King’s business to glorify God by winning people to Jesus Christ and equipping them to think and act biblically…that is our mission statement as a church and ought to be our mission as individuals.
There must be an acknowledgement on our part that when we trusted Jesus Christ as our Savior we entered into a covenant with God that we would follow Him and do what he wants us to do…we are to be his ambassadors who preach the message of reconciliation.
2 Corinthians 5:20 NASB95
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
So whether we are experiencing good days or days of suffering, our mission never changes, our message never changes, our mandate never changes…even in the context of suffering and great opposition, we are to always be about the work of our King.

Overcomers Stay Faithful Regardless of the Length of The Opposition and Suffering.

Daniel is about 50 or so years into the captivity that was going to last for 70 years…remember Daniel 8 occurs before Daniel 5 and 6 … but it is still about 50 years into their captivity. Daniel is in his mid-sixties in Daniel 8. He was taken as a young man and served Nebuchadnezzar for decades and now he is serving Belshazzar.
Even though some by now had created new lives in Babylon, there was still the reality that they were living far from the Promised Land. Daniel is told that the nation of Israel will still experience suffering, even after 50 years of suffering had already passed.
After 50 years of being forced into slavery, Daniel gets word that it is only going to get worse.
Often for us, we want to know when our suffering will end and that seems to get us through it a little easier...As Daniel gets this message of continued rule by the kingdom of men, continued suffering for the people of God the temptation is to slip into despair.
Perhaps some of you are there right now…you are on the verge of despair and you long to know when is it going to end?
Don’t lose hope…the Ancient of Days, the King of Kings, still rules and still provides His people with strength…like He did for Daniel…you can still be about your kings business even when overwhelmed by the length of your suffering…when you reach that point where it seems you cannot take it anymore … remember that God’s grace was enough for Daniel. It is enough for you as well.

Overcomers Stay Faithful Even When The Source of Their Opposition and Suffering Is Beyond Their Control.

Daniel has been living in exile under the control of the Babylonians.
He also knew from the other visions in chapter 2 and 7 that other kingdoms of men would rise.
But up until chapter 8, we knew very little about the kingdom of Medo-Persia and we knew next to nothing about the Greek kingdom.
These kingdoms are world powers crushing everything in their path. In chapter 7 Medo-Persia is like a bear and the Greeks are like leopards. Bears and leopards are beasts, ravaging beasts.
The more Daniel learns about them the worse it gets.
Now he realizes that his people will not only be oppressed by the Babylonians, but Persia and Greece are going to conquer Israel as well.
Overcomers stay faithful, even when the source of opposition and suffering is family…they say or do something that breaks your heart, they say or do something that makes you think you are unimportant, they say or do something that hurts you to your core...the suffering caused by those closest to us are often the hardest ones to endure....
Overcomers stay faithful even when the source of their opposition and suffering is a result of their employer…some high management makes a bad decision and now your job is in jeopardy because that poor decision forced them to cut back…you have to pay the price for someone’s poor management…overcomers do not return evil for evil, they overcome the evil by doing good.
Romans 12:17 NASB95
Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men.
Romans 12:21 NASB95
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Overcomers stay faithful even when the source of their suffering is a result of their government…Israel will experience great persecution at the hands of the Gentile governments,

What Daniel tells us is that sometimes the suffering we experience at the hands of others is really just part of God’s sovereign plan. Remember, when Jesus said he would build his church, He never said he would build it in friendly territory.

Our suffering can come from all areas and never be a result of anything we do...God may want you … he may want us … to endure the suffering and opposition deep in the heart of enemy territory…partly because the next generation who comes behind you needs to see what faithfulness looks like...
The message Daniel received was not just for him and for the people of his time…The events of Daniel 8 would happen hundreds of years later, after Daniel was dead, and those who would experience it needed to know and be prepared so they could stay faithful...Daniel 8 was a message saying it is not getting better any time soon.
Yet, God’s grace was sufficient to sustain Daniel. Because in light of this news he still moves forward and goes about the king’s business.
Are you willing to move forward even when your suffering comes from the hands of others…are you prepared to fulfill your purpose....are you being an ambassador of reconciliation in the heart of enemy territory…are you a ambassador in your home, in your marriage, in your workplace, here at the church?
Friends, the Lord can help you...Pursue the Lord in prayer and in the study of the Word...Pursue the Lord by serving him here at MBC, Pursue Him with greater faithfulness to worship on Sunday morning...when you ask the Lord for his grace and help in your time of need he will give it.

Overcomers Stay Faithful Even When the Opposition and Suffering Becomes Incredibly Intense.

The final part of the vision and its interpretation was the hardest part of for Daniel.
Daniel 8:23-26 focuses on the little horn…see also Daniel 8:9-14. This same little horn is mentioned again in Daniel 11. Historically, we know this individual to be Antiochus Epiphanies. This was prophecy for Daniel, the looked forward...and history for us, we can look back and see this fulfilled...The language is really strong:
Skilled in intrigue
Mighty in power
Able to destroy the mighty
Bring about success through deceit
Kill those who thought they were safe
Only God can stop him
This horn which grew out of the other horns grew strong to the south, east and toward the Beautiful land (Israel) (v. 9) … it grew up to the host of heaven (v. 10).
Historically, here is what happened. After Alexander the great died (the one horn on the flying goat), he left no heir. The kingdom was divided among his top 4 generals (the 4 little horns).
Two of those generals become very important for the nation of Israel. (See Chart)
One group was led by Ptolemy in Egypt. The other is the Seleucids in the area of modern day Syria and Iraq.
These two factions would fight for superiority and Israel was caught in the middle...Israel suffered as the Ptolemys and the Seleucids fought against each other.
But around 190 BC a man named Antiochus Epiphanies (the little horn) becomes king of the Seleucids. He travels to Egypt to take over the Ptolemys and loses the battle...However, news comes to Jerusalem that Antiochus died in the battle…(Ancient Fake News)…and the people believed it and started celebrating...Antiochus did not appreciate Israel’s response. So in response...
Sacrifices gone!
Religious freedom gone!
Eventually, He died at the hands of God when he was stricken with worms!
Incredible oppression…just so you know what he was like here are some things he did.
He had coins minted with his image that more resembled that of Zeus and had theos (god) stamped on them.
He killed anyone who possessed the law of Moses…he sacrificed a pig on the altar in the name of Zeus.
It is written in secular historical accounts…the books of 1 & 2 Maccabees…of a time when Jewish moms who wanted to follow the law of circumcision had their babies murdered and hung around their necks while they were paraded in the streets and eventually thrown over cliffs.
Daniel learns that his people are going to suffer in intense ways in the days ahead. They will be killed and tortured. They will lose their religious identity…it is so disturbing that he is exhausted and sick for days.
We need to remember that the kingdoms of men are fundamentally opposed to who God is and what God wants in this world. The kingdoms of man want the glory.
As a result of man’s pursuit of glory that only God deserves, God’s people get caught in the crossfire between the kingdom of men and the kingdom of God…there is a sense after reading Daniel 8 that we should be a little sick to our stomach…we need to see all human kingdoms setting themselves up against God.
We need to recognize and be prepared for our suffering to intensify if that is what God has planned.

Implications for Us in 2018 and Beyond...

If we are going to be over-comers like Daniel, we need to continually move forward regardless to the degree, length, source and intensity of our suffering and opposition…we have to maintain a faith and trust in God that He continually exercises His sovereign control over all circumstances, events and people…no matter the source of the evil that opposes us or causes us sufferings, everyone and everything is in submission to God…nothing happens that God does not allow.
We may get overwhelmed at times by what transpires or what we see will transpire, and sometimes we may even be exhausted by them…overcomers are going to recognize there is still too much work to do for our King and we must always be about doing the King’s business…we cannot cocoon ourselves in hoping the world is going to get better before Jesus comes…it is only going to get worse, which means we must continue to be shining lights in a world that grows increasingly dark.
Now hopefully my messages don’t make you sick to your stomach, but I do wonder why we don’t have the same view of things that Daniel and other writers of Scripture possessed…they were heavily influenced by an awareness of the coming judgment and it shaped the activities in which they were presently engaged.

You cannot honestly say you are looking forward to Jesus’ return while being content in your laziness and lack of faithfulness to do the King’s business.

You don’t have to be a pastor or missionary to do the King’s business…doing the King’s business is simply walking in obedience to Him to glorify Him with every fiber of your being, and every facet of your life this side of heaven…your personal life, your private life, your church life, your work life, your activity life, everything about you is to be focused on bringing Him glory and proclaiming the truth of salvation in Christ alone.
Colossians 1:28–29 NASB95
We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.

Lesson for Life — Get Engaged and Stay Engaged In God’s Plan!

First you need to make sure you are on God’s Team…GOSPEL...
Those who are on God’s Team…you know what is coming…you have been told and you have enough of the complete picture of God’s plan for you revealed in the Scripture…you don’t need anymore revelation from God, he has given you all you need for life and godliness...
Are you living in such a way that your life is marked with a sense of excitement in Jesus’ return?...the day is coming when Jesus will come and get us…
Are you doing your part in the kingdom? Each one of us has a purpose to fulfill in the kingdom of God…you can find your purpose by linking arms with God’s people and serving Him right here, right now…there is no time to waste…don’t let Jesus come and find you are happy being idle…what part of the King’s business are you actively employed in doing?

We cannot let anything stop us from being about the King’s Business.

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