Daniel 4:10-13 (NIV 13-16)

Do you wanna hear God's voice?

Or, are you afraid of hearing God's voice?

Observe how God spoke to the king:

Daniel 4:10-13 (NIV 13-16)

“In the visions I saw while lying in bed, I looked, and there before me was a holy one, a messenger, coming down from heaven. He called in a loud voice: ‘Cut down the tree and trim off its branches; strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the animals flee from under it and the birds from its branches. But let the stump and its roots, bound with iron and bronze, remain in the ground, in the grass of the field"

“‘Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him live with the animals among the plants of the earth. Let his mind be changed from that of a man and let him be given the mind of an animal, till seven times pass by for him"

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When you compare these verses with the original Aramaic you can see that NIV is a very good translation. "Mind" is the translation of Aramaic/Hebrew "leb" which means "heart", but it is very good to translate "mind" because it is the sense in this verse, not the literal heart but the faculty of thinking.

This "heart of man" is a first clue to know the real meaning of the tree, which should be changed to a "heart of animal". Even when Nebuchadnezzar didn't know the interpretation, this passage is already frightening enough fo him, because that tree which anyone could see from the whole world and which gave food to every creature on earth had to be related to Babylonia, the greatest empire, and these verses are prophesying that it will be cut down and made firewood. The seven "times" is a prophetic expression we find in the books of Daniel and Revelation, meaning "years". Whatever the tree should be, it would be broken and neutralized for seven years.

The "messenger" is the rendering of "ir" from Aramaic (corresponding to Hebrew "malákh" and to Greek "ángelos") and could be rendered to English as "angel". This word means "messenger" too, and it is used to refer to God's angels, who bring His messages, or to prophets, pastors and preachers because they have a message from God to men. That's another reason to frighten Nebuchadnezzar: the one talking about destruction and punishment was a heavenly messenger!

In spite of being a pagan and a Gentile, the king made the right decision about the message from God, when he saw this vision in his dream, and no one among his sorcerers explained it to him: he sought Daniel to get an interpretation. What do you do when you receive a spiritual message you don't understand? When it seems to be that God doesn't speak, and your prayers are crashing against an invisible wall, without reaching Him? When things in your life are taking a course that wasn't in your plans? When you feel abandoned, on your own? When it is impossible to carry on with some vision or plan of yours which was your primary goal? When there's nobody to support you? When you feel in your soul that God doesn't care? When you are waiting for a word of comfort, and you receive a word of punishment, as the king did?

In the previous message we were talking about the builders of Babel's tower. They came to this point. Descending from believers, people which knew God, they were probably believers also. The event which happened in Babel caused men not only to speak different languages; they began also to practice different religions. When God's answer to their prayers to finish their tower was "NO", they changed to other "gods". God had to call Abraham from a lost world, similar to that He has destroyed through the flood, to raise from the patriarch a nation which should know, serve and worship the true God.

Maybe you're thinking, "but I don't see any holy angel descending from heaven to give some answer to my needs". This was the idea of a rich man who died, and in Hades was asking Abraham that Lazarus, the beggar, should resurrect and go to preach to his siblings, in order to deliver them from hell. Abraham answered him that they had their "angels" or messengers of God on earth, and that it was to them they had to listen to. The rich man knew that his siblings didn't care about Moses or the prophets, and he insisted because "they should listen to a resurrected one". But Abraham answered that, if they had rejected God in his messengers which lived on earth, they would reject Him also in someone who should come back from the dead.

When we read in the Bible of "descending from heaven", and "heaven" as a spiritual place, then we have to forget the atmosphere, the clouds, the outer space or the firmament, because this spiritual "heaven" is here among us. Sometimes it is revealed to people whom God wants to send special visions or messages, as Hezekiel the prophet, John the apostle, and others. They saw on earth the glory of "heaven". And that's why God, who "dwells on heaven", is also among us, because this "heaven" where God abides is omnipresent, as He is. Observe this prayer of the prophet Isaiah (and you can also see the NOTE at the end) :

"Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you, as when fire sets twigs ablaze and causes water to boil, come down to make your name known to your enemies and cause the nations to quake before you!"
(Isaiah 64:1-2)

God is omnipresent (which means He is everywhere) How could He "descend", that means to come down from a place to another one? Observe the words of the prophet, "before you" (or "in Your Presence") Even when God is everywhere, His Presence isn't perceived by everyone, and it is not always manifested in spectacular or supernatural ways. Daniel the prophet and Paul the apostle had the experience of seeing God's presence and hear His voice, and their companions didn't see anything. In Isaiah's prayer, the enemies of God, especially "the nations" - Gentiles which had another gods - didn't fear God; they didn't even know His Name or revere HIm. Even when God is everywhere, not everyone sees and receives Him.

Do you want to experience God's Presence?
Or, are you afraid of being reproved because all your thoughts of your mind or all your acts you've done, which you know very well they're anything but "holy" ones?

Do you want to abide in His Presence, and to be led by Him in his holiness?
Or, do you prefer a mediocre life full of sin, but on your own, not under God's control?

Do you wanna hear God's voice?
Or, are you afraid of hearing God's voice?

God is our Father. Maybe this paternal figure says nothing to you. Maybe you are one of those which do not honor father and mother, and the paternal figure is something you avoid instead of appreciate. But in spite of their human weaknesses, our parents raised us, and they formed us. It was them which brought us to this world - it wasn't the stork - and they wished and wish us good. The Bible says that "they disciplined us as they thought best" (Hebrews 12:10) pointing the fact that their discipline was limited to that which thay knew or felt as persons, to their own values ans resources. But the Heavenly Father disciplines us "for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness".

God's primary concern is not to punish us, and it is something He will not do, no matter how much we have sinned. To receive the Lord is to receive pardon for everything we've thought or done in the past, is to get a "second chance" from Him, to recommence our life in communion with Him. It is to have a Father who knows everything, who can everything and who loves us with eternal, unquenchable love. Many people read in "share in his holiness" that they will be obliged to abandone everything that's funny, because "it is prohibited by religion". If you are in this group, let me tell you that it is not "God's discipline". To "share in his holiness" you arrive with all your sins, your vices and wickedness, and you are declared "holy" because of Jesus Christ sacrifice on the cross, and because of His blood, that was shed for us. God "sanctifies" us, He makes us holy, when we are yet sinners. He doesn't see all evil we've done or that we will do, but He sees that we are receiving Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. That blood which was shed on the cross of Calvary has power to declare holy the least of sinners.

The voice of God is the voice of His Spirit. His Spirit can give you a dream, or send to you an angel, a prophet or a preacher. He can speak to you by means of an image, a writing, an event. Everything is possible with God. It is us who want Him to talk to us through a resurrected Lazarus. But He is God, He is sovereign and He speaks as He wants. If you hear His voice, do not harden your heart. His voice comes to us to bring salvation. The dream of Nebuchadnezzar was a warning, but he forgot Daniel's advice and went into the evil which was prophesied for him. When you hear that the end of those who live without God is the eternal hell, because of their sins, it is also a warning to you, so that you kneel before Jesus Christ, ask him for forgivennes for your sins, and ask Him to be the Lord of your life, as He will guide you in the same way He has saved you from death. If that's something you have never done, let me tell you that it is precisely that which God wants to hear, that a sinner has been delivered from death and has come to life. Receive Jesus Christ, and become God's child!

May the Lord bless you!

In the love of Christ, your brother

Israel Leonard

NOTE:

In Genesis 11 we read that God planned to "go down and confuse their language", seeing the tower's builders. We read also that "God confused the language of the whole world" and scattered them. But this is in a flagrant contradiction with 1 Corinthians 14:33, which establishes that "God is not a God of disorder" (or "confusion") Just consider this, God is not the "father of lies" (Satan is so called) and yet, the Word says that the Lord sent a lying spirit to reach his goal (1 Kings 22:19-23)

In 1 Kings 22 we can read how the king of Israel - the wicked Ahab - made an alliance with the king of Judah in order to attack the king of Syria ("Aram"). Ahab's prophets had spoken lies to him - nothing special if we remember that the northern kingdom was always an idolater nation - and only one of them spoke the Word of God to the king. In this prophecy we can see how God allows an unclean spirit to put lies in the mind of the prophets, so that Ahab should fulfill his destiny.

The "spirit of confusion" which came upon the builders in Babel is undoubtedly similar to the deceiving one who came upon Ahab's prophets. God took from them their unity - the work of the Spirit of God - so that they should be confused and scattered. God is the giver of gifts and blessings, but He will not give you them so that you do that which is not in His will. One of the most abominable sins we read about is to use holy things to reach sinful goals, as they tried to do in Babel and as Ahab always did. The book of Daniel deals with this in chapter five, that we will share also, if the Lord allows.

Both passages, that of Babel and Ahabs death, show us that when we leave God's protection then we fall under Satan's influence, and that not hearing God's voice makes us vulnerable and defenseless, with an open door to unclean spirits that can deceive and confuse us.

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