BY: CHIP BROGDEN
The Remnant In Israel
The Remnant In Babylon
The Remnant Today
The Rock Fills All Things
Overcomers To Demonstrate Truth
Victory Through Christ
God’s Ultimate Plan
The Enemy’s Plan
Heaven Governs Earth Through The Remnant
The Decree Of The Watchers Brings Heaven’s Will
Into The Earth
Earth’s Submission To Heaven Is Not An Option
Heaven Intends To Subdue Earth, Flesh, And Self
Earth’s Resistance To Heaven Is Futile
Escalating Tension Between Heaven And Earth
Three Characteristics Of The Overcoming Remnant
Spiritual Warfare Begins With Prayer For God’s
The Remnant Stands For Heaven’s Agenda
The Lord In Search Of Overcomers To Form His
“But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself...” (Daniel 1:8a)
In our time the Lord is working with a Remnant and is raising up Overcomers to represent His interests in the earth, a people who are in this world but not of this world. In spite of a general failure of the Whole, the Overcomers, as a part of the Whole, are fulfilling God’s original intent for the Church.
The idea of a Remnant is not without its historical examples. Let us define exactly what a Remnant is. Simply put, a Remnant is this: a person or persons who fulfill the Lord’s Purpose for the Whole when the Whole either cannot or will not fulfill it. As an example, look at Noah. During a time when violence and sin filled the whole earth, here is one man who alone is righteous and pleasing to God. The Lord judges mankind with a flood, but does not make a full end. He spares Noah and his family and makes a new beginning with them.
Another good example is Elijah. He complained that since he was the only prophet left, he was better off dead, so he asked God to take his life. God replied, “I have reserved for Myself seven thousand people who have not bowed down to Baal or kissed him.” (I Kings 19:18) What an awesome Lord! The entire nation belonged to the Lord. Technically speaking, they were His chosen people. But in fact, only seven thousand of them were truly faithful to the Lord’s Thought and Purpose for them. They had not worshiped any idols. It is a comparatively small number, but certainly more than Elijah thought.
The Remnant Principle is found not only among the righteous. You remember that when Abraham made intercession for Sodom he was able to convince God to spare the entire city if ten righteous people could be found. Unfortunately for Sodom there was no Remnant, not even a little handful of people standing in agreement with God’s Purpose, and so the city was destroyed. Remnants can make a difference between life and death, between salvation and destruction.
Anyone could have had the place in God that Noah had. God did not have a quota for the faithful in Israel that stopped at seven thousand people. The Remnant is not a closed group. I heard someone say this many years ago: anyone can, everyone won’t, but somebody will. That is the gist of it, you see. There is a whole doctrine called Remnant Theology, but that is not what we have in mind here at all. Let us be clear: a Remnant is not an exclusive, elitist circle of super-spiritual saints. Not at all. The promises are made to the “whosoevers”. Anyone can be a friend of God! Anyone can overcome! But we know that everyone will not. Why won’t they? I wish I knew why, I wish I could explain it, but I cannot explain it, and I just know it is a fact that everyone will not go on with God. We know it from history, we know it from looking around us right now. Everyone is not going to press into God, everyone is not going to seek His Kingdom, everyone is not going to lay down their life and follow Jesus. Not that they CANNOT, but they WILL NOT. There is nothing set in stone that says you are destined to be an overcomer, but these other people are not. No, everyone is destined for it, but how many will actually go after it? Anyone can, everyone won’t (in fact, a large majority will not), but SOMEBODY will. That group of “somebodys” who will is the Remnant.
The Remnant surfaces again in the Book of Revelation, and they are called Overcomers. The Lord addresses seven churches, and makes a special invitation to “he that overcomes”. Six of the seven had serious spiritual issues that needed immediate correction; Philadelphia, the one exception, was undergoing tremendous persecution. But if we read through these messages we see clearly that the Lord is calling for a Remnant to overcome. Then the individual identities of these seven churches seem to fade away from that point forward and from there all we hear about is the Overcomers.
THE REMNANT IN ISRAEL
How does the Lord get the attention of His people? First, He sends us His Word. If we will not hear His Word, He sends us the prophets. If we will not hear the prophets, what then? Quite simply, the Lord will have to use our circumstances to get our attention. And in the case of Israel, when every other, shall we say, “diplomatic” solution had been struck down and rejected, the Lord said, “It is enough. I will have to make a new beginning. I will judge My people and accomplish My Purpose through a remnant, a small remainder of faithful ones. No, I will not make a full end, but I will cause all of them to pass through the fire of affliction.”
The Lord had done this on a smaller scale many times before. When we read the Book of Judges we see the pattern. The people fall into idol worship and the Lord allows their enemies to overcome them. After a period of suffering they cry out to the Lord, He sends them a deliverer, and they are set free. Things go well for a time and then the vicious cycle repeats itself. Just look at the longsuffering of God! All of these things are meticulously recorded for us.
The Book of Daniel chronicles one of the lowest points in Jewish history. The nation of Israel had experienced a steady spiritual decline over several generations. The Lord had a significant controversy with His people. You know that Israel was to represent the One True God, the Creator of all things. As such, they were to be a people set apart from every other nation on the earth. All other nations worshipped idols; Israel was to be the example and the means through which the Lord would be able to reach all the idol-worshipping nations. Israel was the first monotheistic nation in the world – that is, they only worshipped One God, whereas the other nations worshipped many gods. So the entire nation of Israel was to be a corporate remnant: a nation created to fulfill the Lord’s Purpose for all the nations (the Whole) when the Whole either cannot or will not fulfill it. That was why Israel came into being.
Obviously the nation of Israel could not maintain the Testimony of the Lord if they worshipped idols just like every other nation on earth. They would lose their distinctiveness altogether. The heathen nations were supposed to be able to look at Israel, see the great blessing, wealth, peace, prosperity, and presence of God she enjoyed, and forsake their idols in favor of the Living God. In short, Israel was to be a living witness. Of course, we know that Israel failed. Instead of maintaining the Testimony, she sinned just like all the other nations, worshiping idols. Even a cursory reading of the Old Testament shows that this was at the heart of God’s controversy with Israel. How could a set-apart people bear witness to One God when their lives contradicted the very truth they were supposed to have?
Time and time again the Lord would send prophets to warn them. There were bright periods of reform and purging of idols, but the general direction of the nation was downward. As time passed they grew even more wicked and reprobate than the heathen nations. This presented quite a “problem” for God, although of course that is not the best way to put it, but it is a good way to describe it. Here is a people who are to be a light to the nations, and instead, are actually doing damage to God’s Testimony in the earth. They are no longer exclusive, or separated, or set-apart: they are through and through no different than any other nation. They are commonplace, ordinary, polluted, and compromised altogether.
So what can God do about it? May we say that the Lord is committed to Israel because, quite frankly, if Israel fails, then the Lord no longer has a clear Testimony in the earth. The message to the nations would be, “Israel‘s God is weak; He cannot even control His own people. Just look at them! They are no different than we are, so their God must be no different than our gods. The God of Israel is nothing to fear.” Obviously such a situation as this would be intolerable. Unfortunately, everything hinges upon this backslidden, rebellious, disobedient people. The Lord cannot just go to another nation and start over with them. There is too much invested in these people. A relationship has been entered into, and promises have been made – Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Samuel, David, all of them have had a stake in this. But more importantly, the whole world is looking to see how the “so-called” Living God (as they said) will deal with His idol-worshipping people. The very glory of God among the nations is in question. How could things have deteriorated to this point? It seems, naturally speaking, that everything is lost.
THE REMNANT IN BABYLON
Once all others means had been exhausted, the Lord determined to deliver Israel into the hands of a pagan, idol-worshipping nation – Babylon. The prophet Habakkuk argues with God that Babylon is more wicked than Israel, so how does that establish any kind of testimony for the Lord? How can God let His people be conquered by pagans? But the Lord knows what He is doing. It is almost as if the Lord is saying, “Since you have forsaken Me for idols, I will give you what you want: a manner of life altogether apart from Me and dominated with idols of every kind. I will send you away into a foreign land and you will finally have what you have wanted. Since you want to be like the other nations, since you want to live like heathens, I will give you the opportunity. But I will secure a Remnant, and I will bring them back to their own land, and from henceforth idol worship will never be a problem with Israel again.” Behold the wisdom of God!
Remember when the Hebrews complained that they were tired of the manna and wanted meat? What did the Lord say? He said He would certainly give them meat, and they would eat it until it came out of their ears. They would have all they could stand and it would make them sick. In a similar way, the Lord determined to give them all the idols they wanted as a way to permanently cure them of lusting for idols.
So the Lord brought the armies of Babylon to Jerusalem. The Temple was looted and destroyed, the city was burned, and most of the people were killed. The rest were carried away captive into Babylon. Everything, it seems, is lost. The Testimony is broken down, seemingly beyond the point of ever being recovered. God has “forsaken” His own people and allowed a heathen nation to conquer them. Not only that, but the spiritual center of the nation – the Temple – was gone, and with it the sacrifices, the worship, the priesthood, the Law, the prophets, everything.
But let us get beyond the historical perspective and take a look at things from a spiritual point of view. We must remember that everything points to CHRIST. From the beginning God is working to achieve a particular End, and that is the revealing of Christ and the establishment of a Kingdom. He took one man out of a nation of idol-worshippers – Abraham – and revealed Himself progressively to him. Thus monotheism was born, and from this one man God sought to secure for Himself a nation of His own as something separate and distinct from every other nation. We follow the line through Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, and the kings. It reaches its zenith in David’s reign; that is, Israel most closely resembled what God intended under David. Solomon started out well, but then came that damnable idol worship again! Immediately the nation is divided into Northern and Southern kingdoms, and things go from bad to worse. Eventually the Northern kingdom (Israel) falls, and later the Southern Kingdom (Judah) falls.
From the spiritual perspective it seems that God has failed in His attempt to secure a people for Himself. Can we really appreciate the gravity of the situation? Christ has not yet appeared, and Israel has failed. At this point, Satan says, “At last! I knew it would not last. The very idea of a holy nation in the midst of all the other nations of the world! A separate and distinct people! Ha! I believe it is safe to say that we have won. Christ will not manifest Himself, because Israel is no more. We have the victory!” Why did Satan hate Israel? Not because Israel was something, but because Israel was the door through which the Christ would come into the world. To destroy Israel before Christ can appear is to essentially kill Him in the womb. (Revelation 12:4, 5)
Of course, looking in retrospect, we know that the Lord is not going to just let the devil upset His Purpose. What is so amazing about the Lord is that man cannot upset His Purpose either! The Lord has already spoken through Isaiah that Christ would come. But Jeremiah says that the Lord will allow Israel to be held captive seventy years before restoring them to their land. The issue here is not just a matter of real estate. We must see that the issue with God is the bringing forth of His Son into the world, and the place of that bringing forth and revealing is in Bethlehem. The place of His sacrifice for our sins is in Jerusalem. This is already predetermined. So the land must be restored to Israel before Christ can be manifest.
It is at this point in the history of God’s dealings with Israel that the Book of Daniel begins. We begin with the carrying away into Babylon of a Remnant of people. It is important to understand the philosophy of Babylon towards the nations it conquered. When we understand their approach we will better appreciate the analogy between Babylon of old and spiritual Babylon today. When you are conquered by Babylon, they begin to turn YOU into what THEY are.
The Medo-Persians, who followed after Babylon, took a different approach. They calculated that a happy people are a content people and are less likely to rebel, and so they allowed you to keep your religion and your customs more or less intact. That is why Cyrus permitted the Jews to return to their land and rebuild the Temple. But not so the Babylonians. If they worship a certain idol, then you will be expected to worship it too. If they eat a certain way, then you will have to eat the way they do. Since they speak Aramaic, you will have to learn Aramaic. In other words, there is no room in Babylon for anything other than Babylon. You cannot retain your individuality, your own unique perception of things. You will be assimilated into their culture, or you will die.
Now we see at once the basis for a conflict here. A Jew cannot just “be” like every other nation and still be Jewish. Granted, most of Israel had lost their distinctiveness, otherwise they would not have been in this situation to begin with. But we know that if God is going to see His Purpose fulfilled then He is going to have to save for Himself a Remnant. This Remnant will be sorely tested, because where they are heading, it will not be easy for them to maintain any kind of a Testimony. The hope is that somehow, someway, they will remain faithful to the Lord in the midst of universal compromise, and they will successfully come through the seventy years of captivity, return to Jerusalem, and allow God’s Purpose to continue pressing forward towards the revealing of Christ.
All the hopes and dreams of heaven are bound up with this handful of exiles! So much is riding upon this group. Will they be faithful? Will they persevere? Or will they breakdown completely under the pressure of a foreign nation, a pagan society? To be sure, Satan and all the spirits of antichrist are closely watching these developments. Israel as a whole may have been destroyed, but as long as these Jews remain there is the chance – albeit a slim chance – that God will be able to see His Plan through to completion. We must understand that all the forces of darkness are going to focus themselves against this Remnant in an attempt to shut up the Testimony once and for all. This, truly, is a momentous and critical period. More than Israel is at stake: the very fulfillment of God’s Purpose and Plan for redemption, the actual coming of the Messiah to establish His Kingdom, hangs in the balance.
Now who would ever believe that with this much at stake the first battle to be fought will be over a thing so insignificant as what to eat? Who would ever guess that the very fate of mankind rested on something as simple as food. But I tell you that most of the people failed in this very first test, this very small test, and immediately disqualified themselves. I pray the Lord will open our eyes to see the principle here!
We have no way of knowing exactly how many were taken away into Babylon. We do know that of this group some younger men were selected for intense indoctrination into the lifestyle and customs of the Babylonians. They were selected to undergo a rigorous program in which they would be educated in the arts, sciences, and religion of a pagan nation. They were to learn a new language and new customs. Even their names were changed, for each one was now named after an idol. Babylon is quickly swallowing them up into its system.
So from the beginning Satan attempted to destroy this Remnant. We know that out of all these young men, only four of them raised any kind of objection to the changes that were demanded of them. Only four! Do we mean to say that out of all these young men, everything is resting on four? Yes, that is what we find out from the Scripture. The majority were probably thinking, “I have seen my people killed, my home destroyed, and the Temple burned. We have been brought to this land and we will never see our country again. God has forsaken us. We might as well get used to Babylon. We’re lucky to still have our lives after all that has happened. Maybe if we cooperate we will have a better time of it.”
These boys were appointed a daily provision of the king’s meat and the king’s wine as part of their indoctrination into the Babylonian lifestyle. Most of them quietly accepted the daily provision as part of the program. In fact, what a blessing it is to have food and drink at all! After all, they thought, why should we worry about whether we eat meat or drink wine, or keep the Sabbath, or any other Jewish law for that matter? That way of life is dead and gone. We can’t be Jews here. The Temple is gone, the priests are probably all dead, so it makes no difference. So they took the king’s meat and the king’s wine. This is only symbolic of their final capitulation to Babylon. That sealed it. From that point on they were pretty much lost to the Babylonian system. If they were Jews, it was in name only, because they had compromised themselves.
But there was one young man who would not quietly accept all that was being offered to him. He watched the others sitting at the table around him, and smelled the king’s meat as it was served to each of them in turn, and listened to the gurgle of the king’s wine as it splashed into their goblets. Then and there a decision was made: “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank,” (Daniel 1:8a)
Is Daniel merely jealous for the Law of Moses here, or is there a greater motivation? The point here is really not the meat or the drink, but the purposing in Daniel’s heart not to defile himself. That there is one who would even make such a purpose is astounding, considering the circumstances. The easiest thing to do is to just go along with things, accept them as they are, and not make any trouble. But thank God for that decision! Daniel purposed in his heart – a flame was kindled, and the longer he thought about it, the hotter the fire burned. While the others were eating and drinking, Daniel motioned to his three friends, and whispered, “Eat mine if you will have it – but I will not sin against the Lord in this thing!” And the three brothers, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, agreed that they would not eat the meat or drink the wine either. Hallelujah! This is what the Lord is after – a small company of two or three, gathered together under a covenant that they will stand for the Testimony of the Lord, for something Heavenly, regardless of the cost! But why do you maintain your integrity, Daniel? Do you think you are better than everyone else? What do you hope to gain? What is the point?
Daniel and his friends represent the Overcomers. Daniel purposed in his heart that he would forever and always maintain a certain amount of hostility and resistance to the world system there in Babylon. Not a loud, demonstrative, attention-getting resistance, but a quiet, purposeful, principle-based way of living that would only allow him to go along with things up to a certain point, but then no further. Yes, he might be forced into the Kingdom of Babylon physically, but he refused to be forced into it spiritually! His God and his religion were not bound to a Temple in Jerusalem, to a priesthood or a system of worship. Daniel is saying, “It is true that the Temple is destroyed, Jerusalem is burned, and God has allowed us to be conquered. That does not change the fact that He is the Most High God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth. I am not changing my witness just because of my circumstances. I will maintain the Testimony of the Lord, even if it means death. I would rather die than defile myself and be disqualified from God’s Kingdom. Someone, somewhere on this earth must represent the Kingdom of God, and though I may be IN Babylon, I am not OF Babylon!” That, in essence, was his reasoning.
THE REMNANT TODAY
What is the significance of these things, and what is the application to us today? Simply put, the time in which we live is no different from Old Testament Israel or the New Testament churches of the Book of Revelation. When we survey the landscape of Christendom we see one huge disappointment, an unbelievable immaturity, gross spiritual blindness and deception, and such a mixture and compromise with this world that there is virtually no distinction at all between the natural, the soulish, the fleshly, the carnal, and the spiritual. I will not spend a lot of time on that, because it is apparent to anyone with spiritual perception. As a whole, the Church has failed to bear the Testimony of Jesus, just as Israel failed to bear the Testimony of the Lord.
“Love not the world,” the apostle John writes, “neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.” (I John 2:15-17) This is clearly exemplified in Daniel.
Is that not the very foundation of our conflict today? Here we are, with a heavenly calling, a heavenly citizenship, a heavenly Jerusalem, a heavenly Temple, a heavenly Kingdom, but we are “exiled” for now in a world system that is trying every way it knows how to get us to defile ourselves through compromise. Clearly it is doing a good job. Just like those young Hebrew boys, we eat the world’s meat, drink the world’s wine, and generally act in a thousand other ways just like the world as part of the program and do not think twice about it. And we wonder why we cannot maintain a heavenly perspective! We wonder why we are not victorious! If we will purpose in our heart to set our affection on things above, not on things on the earth (Colossians 3:2), then the Lord can do something for us. Until then, we are no different than the world, so why should the Lord do anything on our behalf? What kind of message would that send? Oh yes, you can eat the world’s meat and drink the world’s wine and carry on like everyone else and still have your religion and your God too? Not so!
In the end, Daniel and his three friends were found to be ten times wiser than the best that Babylon had to offer. When we align ourselves with God’s Eternal Purpose then He will take us in and commit Himself to us in a powerful way. Once He has secured for Himself a Remnant then He will ensure that all of heaven backs them up, for they represent all that is meant by, “Your Name be revered, Your Kingdom be established, Your Will be accomplished ON EARTH as it is already accomplished in heaven.”
Of course, such a people separated unto God for holy purposes will be marked by the enemy as well, those spirits of Antichrist that are opposed to God’s Will and Purpose in Christ. We represent no threat to the enemy so long as we are engaged in our own trivial pursuits and little projects. He is not moved one bit by our religious works, meetings, or preaching, for most of this is done without any correlation to God’s Eternal Purpose in Christ. We may bluster about in circles for years and never truly meet the enemy – we do not disturb him, so he does not disturb us. But as soon as we grasp something of the significance of God’s Ultimate Will and begin moving towards a Heavenly Testimony in the earth then we represent a most serious danger to these principalities and powers.
The occasion of the conflict is the very revelation of Christ upon which the Church is built. The reality is that “the gates of Hell will not prevail against” this Ecclesia of the ones who have seen the Christ, the Son of the Living God, by the direct revelation of the Father; but this statement implies that the gates of Hell will certainly TRY to come against this Church that Jesus is building, which is itself a Remnant, a called-out people. Called out of what? Called out of Babylon; in the world, true, but not of the world. In Babylon, but standing for God’s Kingdom, Power, and Glory in the midst of things completely hostile and contrary to that Testimony. It is not a question of geography, but Testimony regardless of geography. We will see this demonstrated time and again as we progress through the Book of Daniel
“[The Lord] reveals the deep and secret things: He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him.” (Daniel 2:22)
We are progressing through the Book of Daniel to identify the Remnant Principle. In the first chapter of Daniel we see that the Lord has reserved for Himself a remnant of four Jewish boys – Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah – to represent the Kingdom of God in the midst of Babylon. In the midst of universal compromise and failure, these four represent the Overcomers, those who maintain the Testimony on behalf of the Whole when the Whole either will not or cannot maintain that Testimony.
The spirit of Antichrist will always attempt to pollute what it cannot destroy, and destroy what it cannot pollute. We see this evidenced in the Scriptures time and time again. In the time of Daniel, the enemy has succeeded in getting Israel to pollute itself. Everything is compromised and the Testimony is broken down. From the perspective of darkness everything seems to be going in their favor – with the exception of Daniel and his three friends, who are determined to maintain the Testimony.
The conventional use of the word “testimony” means to make public confession, i.e., giving your testimony at church. In the Scriptural context, however, the Testimony of Jesus is much more than confession of Truth, it is the demonstration of Truth. I suppose we would be content to merely confess the Truth, but if we were never tested, it would never be demonstrated. For many, this is the case. Truth to them is a system of thought or a doctrine or a philosophy, but not an experience, not something that can actually be demonstrated.
The Book of Daniel holds within it the secret to being an overcomer. Simply observe how in every case of conflict between the Remnant and the enemy that the Remnant is strengthened and the enemy is defeated. In every instance the very thing which is meant to destroy the Remnant actually serves to reinforce it. I wish the Church in general and every Christian in particular would pay careful attention to this. How often we give up and quit, when if we had only remained steadfast we would have been strengthened. Many times we are on the verge of a significant victory, breakthrough, or revelation but we give up when tested. The Book of Daniel will teach us to remain steadfast.
Now remember that in Daniel’s time the powers of darkness are closing in upon the Jewish exiles. Daniel and his three friends stand alone against Babylon. They are the Remnant, the last link between God’s Will and Kingdom in Heaven and His Will and Kingdom on Earth.
In a time of great spiritual darkness the Lord will remedy the situation by giving us a revelation of Himself. So in this case the Lord determines to reveal Himself in a powerful way, and the way He goes about it is interesting. He does not reveal Himself directly to Daniel as we might expect, but the initial revelation of Himself and His Kingdom comes by way of the pagan king Nebuchadnezzar. Is the Lord limited at all? We limit the Lord so much with our doubt and unbelief, saying God does not do this or cannot do that. Just you try to paint God into a corner and see what happens! The Lord says, “It is time to make Myself known and to reveal My Glory to the Remnant, to let them and the rest of the world know that in spite of all appearances, the Heavens do rule. And I will do it in such a way that My interests are secured and My Remnant is cared for all at once.” What an awesome God!
So there are two sides to this plan of God. The giving of the dream is one aspect of the plan, but the giving of the interpretation is another aspect. The “difficulty” here is that there are many fortune-tellers and interpreters of dreams and “wise men” in Babylon. There are literally hundreds of potential interpreters there in that great milieu of astrologists and wizards. So the Lord goes right around that “difficulty” by giving the dream to Nebuchadnezzar and then taking it away again! This presents quite a frustration to Nebuchadnezzar, who knows he has dreamed something, but cannot remember what he dreamed. He has seen something, but cannot recall the vision. Nebuchadnezzar is no fool. He very cunningly demands that the wise men tell him both the dream AND the interpretation, correctly surmising that if they cannot tell him what the dream is, how can he trust them to tell him the interpretation? Anyone can give an interpretation, but it would take a miracle to tell a man what he dreamed and tell him what it means, too.
The Chaldeans are taken aback. They respond that no one can tell the king what he wants to know, and no king in his right mind would ever ask such a thing. So Nebuchadnezzar, in his own warped sense of frustration and anger, orders the immediate destruction of all the wise men of Babylon. This sentence of death extends to Daniel and his three friends.
Now we went through all of that to get to this point: observe how the enemy would use the very revelation from God as the thing through which to destroy the Remnant. The adversary uses the very thing God intends to bless us with as a means to gain an advantage over us. Remember that it was God Who gave the dream, and it was God who then took the memory of the dream away. The enemy seizes the opportunity not only to shut up the revelation, but to destroy the people that he cannot otherwise defile. He cannot cause them to defile themselves, and he cannot touch them directly; but he can move Nebuchadnezzar to strike them.
We should consider how many instances there have been of the enemy getting the advantage over people through the very thing God intended for their good. A man is given great revelation, but becomes lifted up in pride and destroys himself with it. Or, a woman is blessed with a musical gift, but becomes enamored with the world and uses it for purposes other than the Kingdom. In the case of Daniel, the occasion of God’s initial revelation was also the occasion of Satan’s attempt to destroy him. We repeat: if we want apostolic revelation then we must be willing to endure apostolic persecution.
The enemy ONLY comes in response to revelation. Whenever the pure Seed is sown, the enemy comes IMMEDIATELY, either directly, or through difficult circumstances, or through deception and distraction in order to render that precious Seed useless (Matthew 13:19-22). We might imagine all sorts of “attacks” being carried out against us but the truth is that we are absolutely no threat to the devil whatsoever as long as we are fumbling about, doing our little religious duties, having our meetings, and talking about the Bible. He is not interested in this in the slightest, and is content to just let us spin our wheels indefinitely. Even when we go through the motions of “spiritual warfare” the enemy is unmoved. We are no threat at that stage. But let a little Light begin to come forth and then the enemy becomes interested because Light is the only thing that threatens the Darkness. The Darkness is not threatened by religion, spirituality, doctrine, loud music, preaching, crowds of Christians, spiritual warfare, prophetic conventions, or revivals. Darkness is only threatened by Light, and to the extent that we have Light, to that extent the Darkness loses its power over us. When we abide in perfect Light then Darkness has no power whatsoever. AND LIGHT IS NOTHING MORE OR LESS THAN THE REVELATION OF CHRIST IN HIS GLORY. This truth is the underlying basis of Daniel’s prayer to God: “[The Lord] reveals the deep and secret things: He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him.” (Daniel 2:22) Darkness and Light cannot co-exist. The Chinese have a proverb: do not curse the darkness, but light a candle.
So Daniel sought for more time to consider the king’s request, and with the support of his three friends, made intercession to the Lord in order to know the dream and the interpretation. The Lord answered by giving Daniel the exact same dream that night, and wisdom to understand its meaning. We should see here that it is the nature of God to REVEAL Himself to all who seek Him. The purpose of all prophetic utterance and revelation is to make Him known (Revelation 19:10). Future events are revealed not for future events’ sake, but to bring the preeminence and sovereignty of Christ into the forefront. So let us look at Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, not to see history in it, but to see Christ in it.
THE ROCK FILLS ALL THINGS
The dream is of a ferocious statue with a head of gold, a breast and arms of silver, a belly and thighs of brass, legs of iron, and toes of iron and clay. Then a rock smashed the statue’s feet and broke the entire image to pieces. Then the rock grew until it became a great mountain which filled the whole earth.
The interpretation is that the statue represents a succession of worldly kingdoms. The head is Babylon, the chest and arms represent Medo-Persia, the belly and thighs represent Greece, and the legs and toes represent Rome. We are not going to develop that into detail, because that is not the purpose of the dream. The real significance of this dream is not that we know the identities of the world powers; the significant thing is this Rock! Oh, this glorious Rock upon which the Church is built, a Rock made without hands, which destroys the kingdoms of men and establishes a Kingdom that will never end! However terrible, ferocious, or strong these earthly kingdoms seem to be, they will be ground to powder before that Kingdom of God, and WE are kings and priests within this Kingdom!
“He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30) We see here the tremendous energy and power of God which is working to INCREASE the Kingdom of His Dear Son and establish it “on earth, as it is in heaven.” Along with the increase of the Son there is the DECREASE of all things opposed to the Son, the nations and kingdoms of this world, those things pertaining to antichrist.
May I say that the reality of that Rock is just as certain and sure as the reality of that horrible statue. Why are Bible teachers and students so enthralled with the statue, with tracing the histories of those kingdoms, but overlook the weight and significance of that Rock which grinds to powder everything that opposes it? The Rock, the Christ Who fills all things, is the point of the dream. Just as certainly as Babylon is the head, and Medo-Persia is the chest and arms, and Greece is the belly and thighs, and Rome is the legs and toes, so certainly is that Rock smashing it all to powder and is INCREASING until it fills the entire earth! Hallelujah! When we pray for the Kingdom to come and the Will to be done on earth as it is in heaven we are not praying vain, empty, useless words. We are calling for CHRIST to fill all things! And here we see the end from the beginning. The Lord reigns! His Kingdom is increasing, and His Christ will have the preeminence over all!
Take a good look at Daniel’s initial revelation of the Kingdom. It is a simple statement, but it is the crux of the dream and interpretation:
“In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a Kingdom that will never be destroyed, and the Kingdom will not be left to other people, but it will break into pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it will stand forever.” (Daniel 2:44)
We note that:
– This Kingdom is established by the God of Heaven.
– This Kingdom cannot be overcome, destroyed, or defeated.
– This Kingdom will consume every thing which opposes Christ.
– This Kingdom will stand forever.
Hallelujah! I hope you are not looking to some future fulfillment of these things – in other words, I hope you are not looking FOR victory, but are looking FROM victory. When Jesus began His earthly ministry some two thousand years ago, He began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17) “At hand” means near, at the door, and has arrived. We certainly do look forward to a future consummation of all things, a future completion, but the foundation is already laid, and IN GOD’S SIGHT IT IS ALREADY ACCOMPLISHED. He is Alpha as well as Omega. He is not Alpha in the beginning, and then Omega after everything is accomplished. He is both already. This is the basis of the Testimony of Jesus. Christ has already established His Kingdom, building the Church “upon this Rock” (Matthew 16:16-19), and through this Rock, is steadily filling all things.
Now which is larger in your sight? When you look upon the world today, do you see the horrible statue, or the Rock filling all things? “We do not yet see all things submitted to Him: but we see Jesus.” (Hebrews 2:8,9ff) In order to overcome, we must see that the Rock is larger than anything this world can produce. We must see a Christ and a Kingdom which is larger than this world, which is increasing, filling all things, consuming everything pertaining to antichrist, and standing forever. This vision, this seeing, is priceless. And this is what Overcomers demonstrate daily. If we have seen this, if we are convinced of its Truth, then we cannot help but order our lives accordingly. We will walk worthy of His calling. We will not allow ourselves to be infatuated with the world and the things of the world. How could we do that, knowing this Rock is consuming all things?
Jesus is building His Church upon this Rock, and the Rock is the revelation of Christ given by the Father. The Church is simply the synthesis of those to whom the Father has revealed the Son. This Revelation of Christ leads us to the Testimony of Jesus. When this Revelation becomes more real to us than anything we can see or hear or feel then we are prepared to demonstrate the Truth that we proclaim, and the Testimony of Jesus is ours. THROUGH THIS TESTIMONY we overcome the dragon.
OVERCOMERS TO DEMONSTRATE TRUTH
We cannot be called Overcomers unless there is something to overcome. In other words, if there is not something which rises up and challenges our Testimony then we are nothing more than hot air blustering about. As a matter of fact, the more sure our Testimony, the more severely we will be tested. Let us not imagine that the longer we walk with Jesus the less difficult our trials will become. By no means! As the Lord is revealed to us and we increase in the knowledge of Christ our Testimony is enhanced and enlarged, and with this enlargement comes tremendous conflict, spiritual pressure, and testing. How could it be otherwise? If we are not tested then all we have is a teaching. We cannot demonstrate Truth unless it is tested.
This matter of Testimony is something which cannot be received or apprehended in a sort of objective way. It has to be formed into you, it has to become a part of you, until the Truth is not just something you talk about or teach, but is something you live. This is why I say that the MESSENGER is the MESSAGE. Hearing the messenger is more important than listening to the message he brings. The “lovely feet” of the messenger is what makes the message so wonderful (Isaiah 52:7). We ought to be able to tell immediately if the message is a part of the messenger, or if it is just something obtained out of a book, or repeated from someone else. Do they just possess a message, or does the message possess them? Anyone can stand up and deliver a message, but it takes many years of God’s dealings to work the message into the messenger so that the messenger IS the message.
Before I knew the Lord I always had to pray, fast, study, and work very hard at preparing my sermons. It took many hours to put together a teaching. The teaching would turn out well, but the Life was not in it. Now when I go somewhere to speak I never have to prepare myself in advance. I do not need to find a quiet place to pray. I do not require a moment to be alone. I do not have to have a place to think and write out some notes. Why not? Because my whole life is preparation. I am the message. I do not bring it, I live it. I am presenting Christ, and I do not have to get ready in order to bring Him forth. The best thing for me to do is stay out of His way! If you have to “gird up your loins” and get yourself ready to say something then you are not living it. If you are living it then you cannot prepare for it. Either you are prepared or you are not prepared. But nothing you do in the last hour or so is going to make you any more prepared if you are not abiding in the Truth at all times. Abiding is essential.
So living out the Truth is more than just mentally comprehending it and reciting it. We overcome the dragon by the Blood of the Lamb, the word of our Testimony and by the laying down of our lives (Revelation 12:11). What is the Testimony? The Testimony is simply the Revelation of Christ as All in All being demonstrated in the lives of the Overcomers. There MUST be a demonstration, it must be existential, it must be living, it must be incorporated into the very essence of who and what we are: and for that reason, there is a test. Whenever we apprehend something of the Lord, to the extent that we receive insight and perception into His Person, to that extent we will and we must be tested in order to get the Revelation out into the open as Testimony, to take what we have seen and heard and make it known.
For example, let us say that the Lord gives you light to behold Him as Victory. By the grace of God your eyes are opened to see that the Lord Jesus does not give you the victory, but that He has given Himself to you as Victory. The difference is incalculable. You rejoice in the Truth that is revealed to you. “Thank God, the Lord Jesus is my Victory! I believe the Word of God. From henceforth I will not seek victory as a thing, for Christ is Victory!” Strangely enough, it is not long before something comes around to test the validity of your revelation. This is the common experience of all the saints. Simply maintain your ground, and the enemy will flee. Thus, Truth is demonstrated.
When the Lord first revealed Himself in me I thought that it would be smooth sailing from that day forward. Not so! I found that everything rose up before me as if to challenge what had been revealed. All of my circumstances gathered against me and seemed to be telling me that I was a fool and nothing I believed was true. Many “witnesses” came forth and gave very convincing proof that Christ was NOT my Victory, and that I must DO something about it. Immediately I had to decide if I was going to believe what the opposition said or believe what God said. This was quite a temptation! Watchman Nee said that satan really only has one temptation, and that is to bestir the saints: to get them upset and cause them to rise up and DO something instead of resting in the promises of God and the finished work of the Lord. Oh, I was sorely tested! But what it amounts to is believing the Lord or believing everything to the contrary. I determined to believe the Lord, and in time these circumstances completely dissolved before my eyes. It was a miracle! THE TRUTH OF CHRIST’S VICTORY WAS DEMONSTRATED. Thus, the Lord secured for Himself a Testimony, and I have no trouble confessing today that my victory is a Man, for Christ is Victory!
VICTORY THROUGH CHRIST
We can say a thousand times that Christ is our Victory, but if in the heat of the moment we live like He is not our Victory then the Truth has not been demonstrated and we do not have a Testimony. The problem is this: we pray FOR victory instead of praying FROM victory. We look FOR victory instead of looking FROM victory. How glorious it is to stand FROM victory and SEE the Truth demonstrated!
The Lord has enlarged me to see that Christ has spoiled principalities and powers, making a show of them openly and triumphing over them in the cross (Colossians 2:15). If I have truly seen this then I cannot be the same. How many Christians will nod their head and give their amen to this wonderful truth – but then go forth with a warfare mentality, trying to fight the devil as if there is something Christ left undone that they still have to perform? How does that demonstrate the preeminence of Christ? How does that maintain the Testimony of Jesus? It does not. We should give our amen to this, and then we should live like we believe it. This, to us, is no longer a Bible verse, but a statement of Truth, and we see it demonstrated constantly.
Or what about I Corinthians 15:57? The Scripture plainly says, “Thanks be to God which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” For most people that is just a verse, just one of the promises of the Bible. They do not see the Truth. They do not see Victory as something which is theirs already THROUGH Jesus. They do not see the word “gives” as meaning that there is nothing for them to do to merit or obtain this victory. But the Scripture is clear – God GIVES us the Victory THROUGH Jesus Christ. This takes all of the fight and struggle out of it. Victory is GIVEN to us! And it is not through anything I do or have done or can do, it is THROUGH Jesus!
Many Christians try to overcome by receiving a little of the Lord’s power in order to help them get the victory. May we see before God that He does not give us power to overcome, but He gives us Christ as our Victory. He does not gives us a few promises to confess in order to possess victory, but gives us the Victory through the Lord Jesus Christ.
If I am able to do a lot of spiritual things and apply them to my circumstances so that I overcome, who gets the glory? Who gets the credit? If I do the work, I will claim the credit – maybe not consciously, but unconsciously, I will believe that it was my fasting or praying or Scripture study or my great spirituality or something which gave “me” the victory. But if Victory is something God GIVES me THROUGH Christ then I have absolutely nothing to do but open up my arms and receive HIM! In this way, who gets the credit? Who does all the work? Christ gets the glory and the honor and the praise, and we are the recipients of so much grace, so much that is freely given us.
John writes, “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” (I John 3:8b) Since darkness gains its power solely upon the basis of deception, and not from any intrinsic power, any revealing or unveiling of Christ is hotly contested. To the extent that we see CHRIST, to that extent the enemy has lost power over us. It is just that simple. What a waste of time to “come against” everything and fight it head on. Such an approach will keep you occupied from morning until night, and from night until morning. No! The only way to destroy darkness is to bring in the Light, and all we need is the revelation of Christ. This revelation, this unveiling of the Son of God, is sufficient to defeat the enemy. When He is manifest then the devil’s works are destroyed; hence, there is nothing for me to “come against” at all. The Rock merely consumes everything.
This is the reason why we have the Book of Revelation. In a time of great darkness, persecution, apostasy, and falling away, John is exiled to the Isle of Patmos. As the last of the Lord’s twelve apostles, to be sure the present crisis was heavy on his mind. What is God’s answer? A new spiritual warfare technique? A new formula for overcoming? A new promise to confess? The names of every territorial spirit? No, no, no, no! He simply pulls away the veil of the flesh, brings John into the Spirit, calls him up into heaven, and brings him into a deeper revelation and enlargement into the Person of Jesus Christ as PREEMINENT OVER ALL THINGS. THAT is the solution, not any kind of revelation into spiritual warfare, territorial spirits, and doctrines of demons. Everything pertaining to darkness is predicated upon a lie, and one of the greatest lies perpetuated is that you have to fight darkness by understanding the darkness. Nonsense! What futility! What frustration! How depressing! They say you have to “know your enemy”. No, you have to KNOW YOUR LORD! Let us BEHOLD THE SON IN HIS FULLNESS, and we will observe the darkness fleeing away before the brightness of that glory!
I have produced three verses from the Bible in order to demonstrate the preeminence of Christ over all things. With a little thought I could produce many more. We all know these VERSES, but do you know this MAN? Do you only see Colossians 2:15, I Corinthians 15:57, and I John 3:8, or do you see Christ? Do you have three portions of Scripture, or do you have Christ? Do we have the Bible as a “thing” we can use as some kind of objective “sword”, or do we have the Living Word demonstrating Himself through us? The difference between the one who overcomes and the one who is defeated hinges upon whether these truths are mentally assented to or spiritually apprehended. If we can quote them, or even teach them, in a disconnected, dispassionate, objective sort of way then we will never enter into the experience of it.
Daniel said, “The dream is certain, and the interpretation is sure.” Daniel received the same light as Nebuchadnezzar, but Daniel ordered his life according to that light, while Nebuchadnezzar only satisfied his curiosity with it. Is this talk of victory, overcoming, and Christ filling all things just a teaching to you? A doctrine? A theory? An interesting Bible study? A history lesson? Or is this Kingdom and this Rock and this Victory a certain thing, a sure thing? May it be certain and sure in us! Amen! Even so, come Lord Jesus!
“Upon whose bodies the fire had no power.” (Daniel 3:27ff)
The Book of Daniel contains encouragement and wisdom for us who are being raised up as a Last Days Remnant of overcomers. It records a succession of attacks against the Lord’s Remnant and how they overcame these attacks and demonstrated the preeminence of Christ. We have already identified some principles here. Let us review them briefly.
First, we note that whenever the Whole fails to bear the Testimony, the Lord will raise up for Himself a Remnant – a comparatively small remainder of people – who will fulfill the Lord’s original and full thought for the Whole. They are not doing anything other than fulfilling God’s original intent. To us it sounds so grand and special; the very word “overcomer” seems to imply that we are better than the others who are defeated, when in fact, overcoming is the normal Christian life. The entire Church is, indeed, a remnant of people called out of the nations in order to bear the Testimony of Jesus. That is OUR corporate calling, and to have anything less than that is abnormal. But in the Book of Revelation we see that there is yet a remnant within the Remnant, a band of overcomers called to demonstrate the preeminence of Christ in the midst of a Church that has failed in its corporate responsibility. So that is the situation we find ourselves in today.
Second, we find that whenever the Lord seeks to recover His Testimony in the earth by raising up a remnant the enemy will come around to test the validity of that testimony and either try to spoil it through compromise or destroy it altogether.
Third, we observe that the Lord’s answer to a state of decline is to reveal Himself and His eternal purpose. Once the Lord has established for Himself a people that will represent His interests then He will move immediately to secure, protect, establish, and strengthen the Remnant. Here is what I want us to see. When we align ourselves with God’s Thought, with God’s Kingdom, and with God’s Will in Christ, we are invincible. This is the secret to overcoming. It is not asking God to come down to where we are and bless our little ministry or work. Not at all. Instead, we leave our ground altogether and come onto the Lord’s ground. We leave our earthly position and align ourselves with Heaven. We discern what the Lord’s eternal Purpose is, and we set ourselves to cooperate with THAT. And when we are thus in conformity to THAT Purpose, all of Heaven is moved on our behalf. When our ministry or work is in harmony with that great movement of God then we cannot help but overcome.
GOD’S ULTIMATE PLAN
We simply do not have enough respect for the tremendous energies of God that are moving in relation to the revelation of His Son. We cannot channel this for our own ends. That is like trying to capture lightning in a paper bag. And that is what we are doing when we go about things according to our own thought and mind and ask God to involve Himself with our projects. There is no end to the number of ministries, outreaches, and programs being initiated and carried out in the Name of Jesus. But of all these ministries, outreaches, and programs scarce few of them are actually aligned with God’s universal Will; they do not have the Lord’s End in mind. The work fills a need, but not God’s Need; the work gives a sense of purpose, but there is no sense of God’s ultimate Purpose. There seems to be little if any harmony with God’s eternal Plan.
The “church service” does not provide a service to the Lord, but to us. It is not so much the service that I have a problem with as the sense of disconnectedness to God’s ultimate Plan. From the perspective of Heaven I look down at all these church services and gatherings and meetings and what do I see? I see little hurricanes of activity, spinning around in a circle, disconnected from each other, and worse, having no correlation to God’s Thought. Just an endless succession of services, gatherings and meetings that fulfill no purpose outside of themselves. A lot of wind and noise, but going nowhere.
What is the problem here? The problem is that we have lost that sense of Ultimacy. Most Christians do not understand the meaning of “preeminence”, and even those who do, find it difficult to articulate it as God’s Purpose for Christ, or even understand the ramifications of such a preeminence upon themselves, the Church, the world, and all Creation. That is not meant as a criticism, but as a statement of fact. Their vision penetrates no further than their own little world. The entire object of their faith is to make things more bearable for them here on earth. God is there to save them, heal them, and provide for them. Heaven is something to sing about and a place to look forward to, but it is not a present reality and the object of their affection here and now, or something to be demonstrated and brought to bear upon earth’s “reality”. Church exists to get them through from one meaningless week to the next. The ministry exists to keep them propped up and pumped up.
We are afflicted with a chronic smallness. Our God is too small, our Jesus is too small, our perception of Heaven is too small, our idea of Church is too small, our concept of following Jesus is too small. Without a vision we are a small, petty, trifling people. May God give us the revelation of Christ! Oh God, gives us that vision of Him! If we are illuminated to see Him then we cannot remain small any longer. He is God’s Answer for smallness. This Testimony is a boundary-breaking thing, an overshadowing thing, an expansive and increasing thing: “Of the increase of His Government and peace THERE SHALL BE NO END.” (Isaiah 9:7a) Not only will there be no end of His Kingdom, but there will be no end of HIS INCREASING! Oh God, we cannot fathom that! We cannot comprehend that! It cannot be contained. We cannot take it and fit it into our program. We have to find a way to fit into IT, and not the other way around.
THE ENEMY’S PLAN
In the third chapter of Daniel we have the third assault upon the Remnant, and we are immediately confronted with the spirit of Antichrist. Right here in the plain of Dura, in the middle of Babylon, is a gold idol which is sixty cubits tall and six cubits wide. Well, here is that number six representing man, and here is an image set up by man, and a decree from man that all men should worship it, or die.
Oh yes, we thought that Nebuchadnezzar would have learned something from that dream and interpretation, did we not? But no, he is as wicked as ever, just as self-centered as ever. Truth to him was just something to fill his appetite for knowing what he did not know. He still does not know it. He will not be changed by it. The cost is too great. He is a poor, dumb pawn in the hands of darkness, blinded by his own pride and selfish ambition.
Where is Daniel during this crisis? We do not know. He is not mentioned in this account, so perhaps he was away on the king’s business. What an opportune time for darkness to move in and attempt to overtake Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. The enemy has despaired of its covert attempts to be rid of them, and now he brings everything out into the open and challenges them with what appears to be an insurmountable trial. If they bow down and worship the idol then the enemy wins; and if they refuse to bow down and worship then they will be thrown into the fiery furnace and the enemy still wins. Either way, the enemy gets what he wants. There seems to be no way out of this one.
Now how would we respond to this situation? If Babylon represents the spiritual antichrist at work in the world system today then may I say that the 60X6 gold idol is still requiring you to bow down to it. It confronts you every day on this earth and is requiring that you pay it homage. There it is, plain as day, and the easiest thing in the world is to bow down to it – give in a little, compromise a little, let yourself go in this area, don’t be so strict in this or that, and so on. All the while this beautiful music is playing, and it seems so right, so justifiable. Besides, everyone else is doing it! Even other “Christians” are doing it, so why not you?
What is THE temptation? When we take the thousand and one little temptations and put them all together, to what end are they trying to bring us? Is there an overriding purpose for all these varied temptations we face? I believe there is, and I believe it can be summed up in this one passage of Scripture:
“Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” (I John 5:21)
This verse seems totally out of place in that first epistle of John, and appears to be an anti-climactic ending to such a beautiful letter, but it is actually a very appropriate ending. John is the apostle of Testimony, and he has summed up for us exactly what an Overcomer is. But let us quote this from the Amplified Bible for an even greater insight:
“Little children, keep yourselves from idols (false gods)–[from anything and everything that would occupy the place in your heart due to God, from any sort of substitute for Him that would take first place in your life].”
So what is he saying? On the one hand, you have God’s Ultimate Purpose which says that Christ will have the preeminence in all things, beginning with each disciple individually, and with the Church corporately, and with all of Creation collectively. On the other hand, you have these false gods represented by anything and everything that would attempt to occupy the place in your heart due to God, and every sort of substitute for Him that would take the first place, the preeminent place, in your life. It is a direct challenge to the preeminence of Christ, the quintessence of antichrist, trying to gain the preeminence for itself so as to rob Christ of His position.
This, to John, bears directly upon the Testimony of Jesus. Just look at his words in his third epistle: “I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.” (3 John 10)
What is the heart of the controversy here? Is John just jealous because Diotrephes does not recognize his apostleship? No, that is not the issue at all. John is jealous, but he is jealous for THE PREEMINENCE OF CHRIST, for that is the very essence of the Testimony, the whole reason for the Church to exist. And here is this man, Diotrephes, taking the preeminence for himself! This is untenable to John. He calls this evil, and says anyone taking the preeminence in this way has not seen God (verse 11). Are we prepared for such a confrontation? Can we handle such language? Pastor, how will you fare under that sort of spotlight? Prophet, will you pass the test? What about you, Apostle? And you, Deacon? And you, Elder? And you, Reverend? And you, Pope? And you, High Priest? And you, Televangelist? And you, Worship Leader?
I doubt that we are ready for a truly apostolic man. We give a lot of weight and attention to the “prophetic”, and that is needed, but we need to look at an issue of equal importance: what exactly constitutes something as “apostolic”? An apostle is someone sent to set things in order, to establish things upon a foundation. It implies that there is either no order, or disorder; either no foundation, or a wrong foundation. And the “order” is CHRIST FIRST and everything else beneath Him. The foundation is CHRIST AS ALL IN ALL. You need to get that. It is not bishops, elders, and overseers running around poking their noses in everyone’s business, demanding submission to themselves – free spirits trying to get a following who will pay them tithes. These ones are just Diotrephes reincarnated, loving the first place, making a name for themselves. Nothing about them has changed in two thousand years. John says it is ANTICHRIST, it is EVIL, and these people HAVE NOT SEEN GOD.
What makes John apostolic? First, he has seen and heard something. He has the Revelation of Christ. He has seen God’s End. Second, he is apostolic because he burns with jealousy against anything which attempts to take the preeminence over Christ. To John, anything taking the preeminence for itself in the Church that Jesus is building is antichrist, and anything giving it the preeminence is idolatry. He has put his finger on Diotrephes, and says, “The whole problem with this man is he loves the preeminence. He has taken upon himself that which is due Christ, and Christ alone. For that reason, IF I come, I will remember his deeds.” Even as an apostle, he did not force himself into the situation and exercise some kind of human power. That, in and of itself, would have just been an exchange of one kind of preeminence for another. John will wait until he is asked: but IF he comes, he says, he will set it right; he will set it in order; he will secure the Testimony of Jesus in that assembly.
That is the sort of radical, uncompromising attitude he says we must exercise over our own hearts, for as the disciples go, so goes the Church. Just look at the gravity of his words! “Keep yourself from ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that would occupy the place in your heart due to God, from ANY SORT of substitute for Him that would take first place in your life.” Fanatical, impossible directions! Do you really mean to say that there can be NOTHING that takes first place in my life but Christ? Is that what it comes down to? Absolutely, that is precisely what is at stake, and that is precisely where the battle rages, and that is precisely why we are being tempted on a daily basis. Bound up in that is a lot of good things – spouse, children, and friends. Bound up in that is a lot of religious things – church, ministry, work, calling, title, position. Bound up in that is a lot of reasonable things, a lot of moral things, a lot of innocent things. But the crux of the matter is where does Christ fit in? All we have to do to be defeated is to put Him some place other than first. Either He is Lord OF all, or He is not Lord AT all.
If the Testimony of Jesus states that He will have the preeminence in all things, then how can we bear that Testimony if He does not have the preeminence in our own heart? If He is not first place THERE, how can we proclaim His preeminence elsewhere? We do not have to bow down to a literal idol, all we have to do is have some unsurrendered portion of our heart, some divided affection, a little love for this thing or that thing that tugs on us when Christ calls us to give it up, and we have already bowed down to antichrist. We have already taken the mark. Oh, it is a serious thing, a profound thing, and how we need to get before God and lay everything down! Otherwise, the Testimony is hindered. Do you see that?
There was no debate, no question among the Remnant as to whether or not they would bow down. “We are not careful to answer thee in this matter.” In other words, “We do not have to think about this at all. There is no anxiety on our part, not the slightest hesitation. We serve a Living God, and our God is able to deliver us out of the worst that you can deal to us, and He will deliver us out of your hand. We have aligned ourselves with Him that His Purpose may be seen in the earth, and you cannot stop that. But even if He does not deliver us, we will never serve your gods, and we will never bow down to your idol.”
How were they able to maintain the Testimony? There was no hesitation in answering because they had already answered the question a million times before in countless temptations and testings all directed towards getting them to move just slightly to the left or to the right of the Narrow Path, but they would not budge. They overcame daily, and this, to them, was just another one of those daily things. A day in the life of an Overcomer. Here we are, just standing firm for God’s Kingdom and God’s Will. That is all. It makes no difference whether the idol is sixty cubits tall or six feet tall or whether it can be measured in terms of height and width at all. Whether it is meat, or wine, or women, or power, or position, or bowing down to this thing or that thing, outwardly or inwardly, we are submitted to a Kingdom that is filling all things, a Christ that is preeminent over all things, a Name that is above every name.
And you know the story, how that Testimony got them thrown into the fiery furnace. They fell down bound into the midst of the furnace. I have seen television programs try to explain that the three men were in some cool corner of the furnace and that is how they survived. Yet the Scripture plainly says they fell into the middle of it. Right into the hottest part of the fire they were cast, and it seemed for a moment that the darkness had overtaken them. They had not bowed, we expected that, but at last we are rid of them, they thought. But…
“[Nebuchadnezzar] answered and said, Lo, I see FOUR men loose, walking about in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” (Daniel 3:25)
Go back to what I said earlier: when we align ourselves with God’s Thought, with God’s Kingdom, and with God’s Will in Christ, we are invincible. I do not mean, of course, that we cannot die, or that we cannot be tempted or tested. Many have given their lives for the sake of the Testimony, and many more will. I mean “invincible” as something more profound than mere prolonging of earthly life, but overcoming as He overcame. Overcoming is not avoiding the evil, but persevering in spite of the evil. The Lord did not avoid death in order to overcome, but headed straight into Death, Hell, and the Grave, meeting it head-on, and coming out the other side in Resurrection. Death has no power over the one who has died and been raised to life; thus, we too must take up our cross, lay down our lives, and die that we may live.
Overcomers may not always avoid the fiery furnace altogether, but when cast into it they walk about in the midst of the fire. I am speaking figuratively, of course. The Bible talks about our fiery trials, and they are our portion. The fiery furnace is the means by which God may reduce us to Christ, and consume all that is of fleshly, natural origin. Like these three, we may go into the fire bound, but we come out unfettered. The dross is consumed, and the silver is refined.
Overcomers are those upon whose bodies the fire has no power (Daniel 3:27a). Put them in the fiery furnace and they are not consumed, only refined, only purified. It only makes them that much more conformed to the image of the Fourth Man, the Son of God, the Lord Christ. The fire has no power over them because the fire has no power over Him, and there He is in the midst. They do not seek the fiery furnace, but neither do they shrink from it when it comes. They do not ask for temptation and testing, but they are not afraid of it. They do not look for the devil behind every rock, but when they find him they demonstrate the preeminence of Christ over all things and call for his submission to Him. This is the Testimony of Jesus and the ministry of the Overcomers.
The Lord reveals Himself to us when we are at our end, when the fire burns the hottest. When we have reached the end of our ourselves then He intervenes. He is committed to us there in the fire, because we are committed to Him outside the fire. As we have stood for His Will and His Kingdom in a state of universal compromise, darkness, and deception, so He will stand with us in our state of temptation, testing, and trial. Towards what end? That the preeminence we have been proclaiming may be demonstrated. He will rise to the occasion and prove Himself faithful. “There is no other God that can deliver after this sort.” (Daniel 3:29b)
“The heavens do rule.“ (Daniel 4:26b)
In the first three chapters of Daniel we find the spirit of Antichrist taking the offensive against the Remnant. In chapter one the point of conflict is their refusal to defile themselves with the king’s meat and drink. In chapter two there is the threat to murder them along with all the wise men of Babylon. In chapter three they are thrown into the fiery furnace for their refusal to bow down and worship the idol. In each instance the enemy attacks the Remnant, and in each instance the Lord delivers the Remnant and preserves the Testimony.
In fact, the attack of the enemy is the basis upon which the Testimony is established. Just as there is no victory without a fight, no Crown without a Cross, so there is no Testimony without a devil. Our Testimony is not just “Hallelujah, I’m saved!”. It is not a thing that is said but it is a LIFE that is lived. We overcome the Dragon by the word of this Testimony. This Testimony demonstrates the preeminence of Christ over sin, self, and satan: and it is a violent thing, a proactive thing, not a passive thing. The Lord’s Testimony is actually strengthened when the enemy comes against it, for in the end we see that Christ is, indeed, preeminent. If we are really demonstrating this then we should be getting stronger spiritually. That is not to say we will always feel good and always have a smile on our face while engaging the enemy. But regardless of our outward condition, our inward condition will be continually strengthened as we bear the Testimony of Jesus.
HEAVEN GOVERNS EARTH THROUGH THE REMNANT
The fourth chapter of Daniel marks a turning point in our study. For here we find that this Testimony of Jesus is not always in a defensive posture. It is not always “under attack,” but is just as much ON the attack as it is under attack. We have already seen that Christ, the Rock, intends to fill this earth, breaking and consuming all the kingdoms which stand in opposition to Him (cf. Daniel 2:44). Obviously this calls for destruction. “He must increase, but I must decrease.“ (John 3:30). This is a very graphic, painful thing – to subdue all things to Christ, to put them down, to break them, to consume them, to decrease them. Just see how long and hard the Lord has to work in order to have the preeminence in YOU, and in ME; to then imagine that same process being executed on a universal scale is nearly beyond comprehension. Yet we are assured that “He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself.“ (Philippians 3:21b) What a mighty God we serve!
Exactly how the Lord goes about bringing all things into submission unto Himself is… how can we describe it? It is an art. It is a science. There is a process at work in this universe. Do you see it? It is a process through which the Lord is continually refining, purging, molding, chastening, disciplining, judging, and conforming all things. This process is working itself out on every level, from galaxies, to nations, to the innermost recesses of the souls of men, right down to the very last disciple and sinner. Throw yourself onto the Rock and be broken; or wait for it to fall on you and be ground into powder (cf. Luke 20:18, Daniel 2:34, 35). Either way, sooner or later, the Rock wins, for “He MUST increase, but I MUST decrease.“ (John 3:30)
God has clearly relegated some of this work to the devil. He not only allowed, but practically invited, the devil to test Job. Job’s end was better than his beginning, but what an awful time he had in between! It was the Spirit of God that led Jesus into the wilderness – not to conduct a private retreat or to experience a glorious revival, but to be tempted by the devil (cf. Matthew 4:1). Jesus prayed for Peter, but it is interesting that He did not prevent the devil from sifting Peter like wheat (cf. Luke 22:31,32). And when Paul prayed three times for the Lord to take away the messenger of satan that was buffeting him, the Lord refused his prayer, but gave him Grace. (cf. II Corinthians 12:8,9)
What is His End? What is His Purpose? To “gather together in one ALL THINGS IN CHRIST.“ (Ephesians 1:10ff) What a battle that is! What turmoil! Imagine the breaking that has to take place, the tearing down, the constant whittling away, the continual process of trimming, reducing, decreasing, crucifying. By the time you get to the End of the Narrow Way there is nothing left of you. But is that not God’s Purpose in a nutshell? “Not I, but Christ.“ (Galatians 2:20ff) We still have a long way to go. But He MUST increase; therefore, we MUST decrease. And we can look here in Daniel 4 and see how the Lord goes about accomplishing this Purpose.
What Nebuchadnezzar had to learn is the same thing we all have to learn: the heavens do rule. Heaven governs Earth. To us who are still bound to the Earth it appears that we have a lot of authority, a lot of say-so, a lot to do with what happens here. But control is an illusion. We do not have control; indeed, we never had it to begin with. There is One Who rules Heaven and Earth. He is Sovereign.
THE DECREE OF THE WATCHERS BRINGS HEAVEN’S WILL INTO THE EARTH
To Nebuchadnezzar, of course, the Heavens are closed. He does not know the God of Heaven; he does not know that there is a Heaven. He is an Earth Dweller, and an Earth Ruler. He is the epitome of the natural man, the Adamic man. “Whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down.“ (Daniel 5:19b) The natural man, the man of the flesh, just does whatever he pleases, whatever is right in his own eyes, whatever benefits HIM. He even dares to throw people into the fiery furnace if they dare disagree with him.
May I say that all of us have something of Nebuchadnezzar living inside of us, this resident evil that only lives for Self. In the beginning Self flourishes like a mighty tree: strong and tall, with fair leaves and fruit – a dwelling place for the birds of the air and the beasts of the field. That was the dream Nebuchadnezzar had, a picture of himself. What a happy dream. What a delicious word of prophecy. He must have been quite pleased with the interpretation thus far. But as John the Baptist would say, “Even now, the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Matthew 3:10) Self is on a collision course with the Axe, and the bigger it is, the harder it will fall…
“Cut down the tree and destroy it.“ (Daniel 4:23ff)
It has been decided that this tree should be cut down and “his” (note the subtle use of personal pronouns here) branches cut off, and “his” leaves stripped. Yet a stump is to remain, tethered to the earth with a band of iron and brass, while “he” lives out in the fields, eating grass like an animal. And this shall be “his” fate until “seven times” pass over “him.” Seven, of course, representing the number of completeness. It will be a very thorough work, designed to bring Nebuchadnezzar to the end of himself – and we cannot tell for sure if it will take seven days, seven months, or seven years.
Now that is quite a judgment. It leaves little to the imagination. But who made this decision? Who issued this decree? “This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones.” (Daniel 4:17a) What is the decree of the watchers in verse 17 becomes the decree of the Most High in verse 24. Is it possible that the holy ones and the watchers made the decree because the Lord Himself had already decreed it? We believe so. We believe authoritative prayer is not expressing what we want, but expressing what the Lord wants. And if so, then the holy ones and the watchers are simply announcing what Heaven has already decided, and calling for it to come to pass. In essence, this represents the prayer ministry of the Church. This kind of prayer is for destruction. It is not for me to get what I want, but for the Lord to get what He wants. The selfish, the earthly, the egotistical, the carnal, and the fleshly cannot pray like this. But the watchers know how to pray.
Overcomers have power over the nations (cf. Revelation 2:26). Daniel himself is one of these holy ones, one of the watchers. Indeed, as Heaven’s ambassador to Earth, he is the one who comes down from heaven (spiritually speaking) to deliver this message to Nebuchadnezzar. For the first time in his life, Nebuchadnezzar is going to be personally confronted with a Power that is greater than himself, and a Kingdom which is greater that his own – a Heavenly Kingdom, which intends to come in by force and overrule his Earthly Kingdom. It is the “Rock that fills all things.“ (Daniel 2:34, 35ff) Now, in this we see both the goodness and the severity of God. Love is fierce. Love will not be denied. Love never fails. And the Lord loves this pagan king so much that He is going to go to great lengths to break him. And not only for his sake, but to demonstrate His Preeminence to the world. “Whom the Lord loves, He chastens.“ (Hebrews 12:6) What is the purpose? The purpose is the same, whether you are a sinner or a saint. The Lord intends to reduce you to Christ: more of Him, and less of you.
EARTH’S SUBMISSION TO HEAVEN IS NOT AN OPTION
“To the intent that the living may know that the most High rules in the kingdom of men.“ (Daniel 4:23ff)
What is the purpose? That the living – Nebuchadnezzar and every other earth dweller – may know that the Most High God rules. He is Lord; He is Sovereign; He is Preeminent, though the Heavenly King is not always ruling openly. We still do not see all things submitted to Him (Hebrews 2:8b). Yet, all things ARE under His feet (Ephesians 1:22a). It is not always an outward demonstration of power, but it is definitely an inward, invisible, spiritual, eternal purpose at work beneath the surface, gathering “together in one ALL THINGS IN CHRIST, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him.“ (Ephesians 1:10b) And all of this is about to be demonstrated in the most unlikely of persons: heathen King Nebuchadnezzar.
The magnitude of this strikes Daniel with such force that he cannot speak, but merely stands there in astonishment for “one hour, and his thoughts troubled him.“ (Daniel 4:19a) At last he manages to give the interpretation to the King, and pleads with him to stop sinning and to begin showing mercy, in the hope that if he judges himself then he would not be judged of the Lord.
But even with this clear word from the Lord and this wise counsel, do you think Nebuchadnezzar listened? Do you think he really took it to heart? Nebuchadnezzar is like some people I know. They enjoy having prophets and wise men around. They say they want to know what God is doing and hear what God is saying. They like the prophetic word, and they like the prophet – from a distance, that is. They are all for confrontation, rebuke, and correction as long as they are not on the receiving end of it. As soon as it gets too close to home then they are no longer interested in the prophet or in his prophecy. It would be too inconvenient for them to change their lives in order to live according to the truth of what they have been shown, so they ignore the truth, and continue on as before. Nebuchadnezzar had the same problem. So it comes as no surprise when we read that “all of this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar, at the end of twelve months…” (Daniel 4:28,29a). He had probably forgotten all about what Daniel had said just a year earlier. But he would never forget what happened next.
“The king spoke, and said, ‘Behold, great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty!’ While the word was in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, ‘O king Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken; the kingdom is departed from you….'” (Daniel 4:30, 31)
The Lord will allow Self to run its due course, just like the tree whose branches fill the earth and whose height reaches to the heavens. But a day of judgment is coming. Now, those who love Self will hate judgment; but those who hate Self will love judgment. If our heart is “not I, but Christ,” then we will rejoice whenever we are decreased and Christ is increased. We will submit to the Lord’s dealings with us. Our focus will not be on what Self loses, but on what Christ gains, for our loss is His gain. With less of me, there will be more of Him in my life, so why would I resist that? There should be less of me today than there was yesterday, and there should be more of Him now than there was before. If I will submit to Him today, then tomorrow there will be yet a little more of Him and a little less of me. Praise God! Spiritual growth is not stronger anointing, greater power, or increased knowledge. Spiritual growth is “He must increase, but I must decrease.“ (John 3:30)
When Self is seen as the greatest hindrance to knowing Jesus then we will gladly let go of Self. We will not wait for judgment, but we will ask God to judge us right away. But first we have to see the flesh as an enemy. When we do, not only will we hate the flesh in ourselves, but we will hate the flesh in others. We will be repulsed by Self in us and will be sickened by the manifestations of Self in others. Paul says, “I know that in ME (that is, in my flesh) dwells no good thing” (Romans 7:18a). Paul knows this. How did he know it? From trying and failing enough times to learn this lesson. At long last he is finally able to “rejoice in CHRIST JESUS and have no confidence in the flesh.“ (Philippians 3:3b) Now, which will it be for us? Rejoice in Christ alone, or trust in our flesh? Our problem is that we still have confidence in our flesh. So we walk in the flesh. We make our flesh religious. We make our flesh spiritual. But no matter how good, religious, or spiritual your flesh may be, “the flesh profits nothing.“ (John 6:63ff) The question is not whether your flesh is good, religious, spiritual, or better than most people’s flesh. The question is: is it flesh? If it is flesh then it profits nothing.
Every one of us – sinner and saint – are on a head-on collision with the Rock. Even now, the axe is at the root of the trees. I want us to see that the Voice from Heaven overrules whatever word is in our mouth. We may not be as bold as Nebuchadnezzar, leader of the pagans. Our pride may be a little more subtle than his. Yet the Heavenly Voice reveals us for who and what we are. God’s Purpose for judgment is to subdue all things to CHRIST, to bring all things to the end of Self, so that CHRIST may fill all things. (cf. Ephesians 4:10)
HEAVEN INTENDS TO SUBDUE EARTH, FLESH, AND SELF
“The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, until his hair grew long like the feathers of an eagle, and his nails grew long like the claws of a bird.“ (Daniel 4:33)
It is apparent that Nebuchadnezzar went out of his mind at this point. This moment of insanity was not the result of a chemical imbalance, or a predisposition towards depression. Remember that this judgment was “by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones.“ (Daniel 4:17a) The Remnant is ruling! How long will this sentence be carried out on him? “Until you know that the most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He wills.“ (Daniel 4:32b)
The sovereignty of God, the preeminence of the Lord Jesus Christ, is what we have in mind here. Whenever something untoward happens in the world someone always has to remind us that “God is still in control.” Here is yet another reminder that this Rock is in control (how many more reminders will we need?). Nebuchadnezzar was kind of a cross between Hitler and Saddam Hussein. My point is that humbling someone like Nebuchadnezzar is a big thing, but not too big for God. Upon this Rock some things will be broken, and beneath this Rock some things will be crushed; but whether you are broken to pieces or crushed to powder, the Rock always wins in the end. Get used to it! Embrace it! Surrender to it! Yield to it! We cannot touch God and remain intact, for “our God is a consuming fire”. (Hebrews 12:29) And this One Who is Consuming Fire is calling you by name, seeking you out, and endeavoring to bring you closer to Him! If you want to go deeper into God, it is going to get hotter.
Pentecostals are fond of talking about the “fire” of the Holy Spirit in terms of power, charisma, and anointing. May I say that the fire of the Holy Spirit is but for one purpose, and that is refinement. This refining, purging, cleansing, and conforming to the image of Christ is the express reason the Lord Jesus Christ baptizes us “in the Holy Spirit and in fire”. (Matthew 3:11b) The “Holy Spirit baptism” in Scripture is discussed in the context of judgment, refinement, and purification – not power, charisma, and anointing. Are you sure you really want to be filled with the Spirit? How many self-confessed “Holy Spirit baptized” people are as stubborn, proud, and unyielding as Nebuchadnezzar? They have not yet been through the fire, regardless of the experience they claim. The end result of a true Holy Spirit baptism is less of me and more of Christ.
“And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honored Him that lives forever…” (Daniel 4:34a)
Once the fire has consumed every scintilla of Self; once the Rock has broken to pieces and crushed everything that resists it; once the things that can be shaken are shaken and removed; then the object of all this attention will be like the prodigal son who finally “came to himself” one day, and seeing the Truth, beat a hasty retreat back to His Father’s house (cf. Luke 15:17,18). The Lord, Who says, “I will draw all men unto Me” (John 12:32ff); the Lord, Who “is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9ff); the Lord, Who “will have all be to be saved, and to come to the full-knowledge of Truth” (I Timothy 2:4); the Lord, by Whom God will “reconcile all things unto Himself” (Colossians 1:20ff); the Lord, before Whom “every knee will bow… and every tongue will confess” (Philippians 2:10,11ff); this is the One Who holds Nebuchadnezzar now! Nebuchadnezzar, heathen ruler of the great world empire of Babylon, has been subdued. That is preeminence! AND IT HAPPENED BY THE DECREE OF THE WATCHERS – the Remnant!
Before, Nebuchadnezzar could render lip service to the most High while retaining something of Self. But, no more. It was a devastating blow to his pride to live like an animal, but at long last he “lifted up [his] eyes to heaven.” As soon as he lifted up his eyes to heaven, his understanding returned. He “came to himself,” and he immediately blessed God. That was the beginning of the end of judgment, for it had accomplished its intended purpose. Now he knew that “the heavens do rule,” and he submitted to it, and God was satisfied. Glorious surrender! Knowing what we know now, would any dare say the cost was too great? Did God go too far? Was it too severe?
Ask Nebuchadnezzar! He says, “I praised and honored Him that lives forever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His Kingdom is from generation to generation: all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and He does according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand, or say to Him, ‘What are You doing?'” (Daniel 4:34b, 35) This is a genuine revelation of God’s sovereignty; the likes of which we can only have when “seven times” have passed over us. There will be no forced idol worship or mass executions or “behold what I have built” coming out of Nebuchadnezzar anymore. The heavens do rule (they have always ruled), but now he knows it. And this Kingdom of Heaven is expanding and increasing – individually in each disciple, corporately in the Church, and collectively in all Creation – until CHRIST has the manifest preeminence in “all things” (cf. Colossians 1:18b). What a mighty God we serve!
“Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all Whose works are truth, and His ways judgment: and those that walk in pride He is able to abase.“ (Daniel 4:37)
I am sometimes asked how God will fulfill His Purpose of gathering “together in one all things in Christ.“ (Ephesians 1:10ff) Friends, I cannot say how it will happen. Naturally speaking it is quite impossible. Theologically speaking it opens a can of worms. It goes beyond our comprehension, beyond my ability to articulate. But the issue is not whether we are smart enough to figure it out, but whether Jesus is big enough to pull it off. And I am convinced that even though I cannot say how it will happen, I do know that Christ is higher, deeper, and greater than we give Him credit for. With Him, all things are possible. And He is “working all things after the counsel of His own will.“ (Ephesians 1:11b)
Now the Scriptures say that He is able to subdue all things to Himself (Philippians 3:21b). It is not a question of “can” He, or “will” He. We do not have to wonder “if” it will happen. “And WHEN all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be All in All.“ (I Corinthians 15:28) “When all things shall be subdued unto Him…” See, it is only a matter of time. We see all of this coming to pass in the most unlikely of people, King Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar is Everyman. What does he say now? “Those that walk in pride He is able to abase.” Herein lies the secret. God is able! And this same God is at work in all of us, and His Purpose is the same.
EARTH’S RESISTANCE TO HEAVEN IS FUTILE
Daniel chapter four marks a turning point in the story of the Remnant. Heaven is on the offensive now, and the momentum is building. Something is breaking forth in the midst of Babylon, and the Remnant is central to all that is happening. As we progress into Daniel chapter five the conflict escalates. We meet King Belshazzar, and see yet again that “the heavens do rule;” but this time, the outcome is a bit different.
“And you, his son, O Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart… and the God in Whose hand your breath is, and Whose are all your ways, you have not glorified…” (Daniel 5:22,23ff)
Some years later Daniel is once again brought before a king to give an interpretation. The occasion this time is the famous “handwriting on the wall,” with the cryptic message that read, “MENE MENE TEKEL UPHARSIN.” We should note Daniel’s boldness before Belshazzar as compared to his humility before Nebuchadnezzar. In bringing the word to Nebuchadnezzar he was “astonished” for one hour, and cried, “May it be to your enemies, and not you!” But before Belshazzar he minces no words. Belshazzar will die that very night. There is nothing left to salvage. And depending on Belshazzar’s mood, Daniel could easily be executed for saying the things he said.
First, Daniel refuses the king’s payment for providing the interpretation: “Let your gifts be to yourself, and give your rewards to another.“ (Daniel 5:17ff). What impertinence! Then he rehearses the history of Nebuchadnezzar, and recalls for the record how the God of Heaven humbled the king. Then he points the finger at Belshazzar and says, “And you have not humbled yourself, even though you knew all this!” He accuses him of praising idols that cannot see, or hear, or know, and of ignoring the living God Who gives him the very breath he breathes. This is a strong word!
After he has successfully indicted Belshazzar, he is ready to provide the meaning of the words. The literal meaning is “NUMBERED NUMBERED WEIGHED DIVIDED.” Now, even when we have the meaning of the words we still cannot say what the message is. Translating is one thing, but interpretation is another. We have Bibles full of words from the Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic languages. We have many translations to choose from. Let us assume we can take a passage of Scripture and say that we have the correct translation. Very well, but the correct translation is not enough. The interpretation is from God. The ability to see beyond the words and actually read the message is of the Spirit. Knowing the Bible (as a thing) does not necessarily mean we know the Word (as a Person). Daniel knows the Word of the Lord because he knows the Lord of the Word.
“God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it… you are weighed in the balances, and found lacking… your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and the Persians…” (Daniel 5:25-28ff)
My point is this: do we have a “word from God,” or do we have God Himself? Are we so into the next prophetic “thing” that we have missed the Lord? Everyone sees the handwriting on the wall. A handful of people can translate it – but that does not make them prophetic. Only a Remnant can give the meaning. The Remnant, because it clearly sees God’s Purpose, can accurately interpret all things through the filter of that Purpose. “It is the truth concerning Jesus that inspires all prophecy.“ (Revelation 19:10) (Knox)
To understand the Lord’s Will is to see that everything God has done, everything God is doing, and everything God will do; everything God has said, everything God is saying, and everything God will say; all of it relates to that eternal Purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus. “Numbered Numbered Weighed Divided.” What does it mean? It is a mystery until we have seen this Rock that Daniel talks about, which fills the earth. And that Rock is Christ. Here the message is to King Belshazzar. But I could walk up to any number of people and make the same pronouncement over them. Why? Because Christ is increasing, and they are decreasing. What is judgment to a sinner is salvation to a saint. If I am in Christ, then the end of “Me,” the destruction of the Kingdom of Self, is cause for celebration! For then Christ will have the preeminence and I can say, “Not I, but Christ.“ (Galatians 2:20ff)
May I say that the handwriting is on the wall everywhere you look. What does it say? “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30) That is just another way of saying, “Numbered Numbered Weighed Divided.” I see the handwriting on the walls of our governments, our education systems, our financial institutions, the nations of the world. They are all being decreased. But how am I able to see it so clearly? Because the same thing is happening inside of me! The same thing is happening inside of you! As He increases, everything else decreases. Do you understand this? If you truly understand this then you are the minority. You are part of the Remnant.
“In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans killed. And Darius the Median received the kingdom at the age of 62.“ (Daniel 5:30, 31)
ESCALATING TENSION BETWEEN HEAVEN AND EARTH
So the Heavens DO rule. That is the point of the Book of Daniel. But how does Heaven exert itself upon Earth? How is God’s Will performed? How is God’s Kingdom established? Not directly, but through a Remnant. Not through angels, but through men and women, people who are “in the world,” but are not “of the world.” Remember our definition of the Remnant? A Remnant is a person or persons who fulfill the Lord’s Purpose for the Whole when the Whole either cannot or will not fulfill it. They are the Overcomers.
So far we have traced the Remnant from Israel to Babylon. Nearly seventy years have passed since Israel went into exile and the Hebrew children refused the king’s wine and meat. Daniel is in his eighties now, having spent most of his life on foreign soil, bearing a Testimony that seems ridiculous: that the Heavens do rule. If the Heavens rule, most Jews asked, why did God allow us to be defeated? Why was the Temple and our nation destroyed? Why are we having to raise our children in this pagan society, far away from the Promised Land? And what about the Messiah? When will He arrive? Or is He not coming?
How soon they forgot that the reason for their exile was idolatry and spiritual adultery. Yet, God has reserved for Himself a Remnant who will not be defiled. And through this Remnant He demonstrates His sovereignty. We have seen the Remnant delivered from an execution and a fiery furnace. And we have seen the Remnant exercise unearthly power over the very ones who had enslaved them, decreeing the humbling of Nebuchadnezzar and the elimination of Belshazzar. Tensions are rising. The Spirit of Antichrist is about to make another move. At the same time, Heaven is about to make a move. What happens when an immovable object meets an irresistible force?
We come now to the most significant crisis and spiritual conflict recorded in the Book of Daniel. Everything is leading up to this moment; eternity hinges on the outcome. Heaven and Earth are locked in a battle so fierce that once we understand the implications it will take our breath away. And everything is centered on the aged Daniel, sole survivor of the Remnant.
It would be helpful for us to review the principles we have learned thus far. First, the Lord has a Purpose, and that is for Christ to have the preeminence in all things. In the language of Daniel, a Rock made without hands will consume and break all other kingdoms into pieces, filling the earth, and standing forever. Then a Kingdom will be established that will never end (cf. Daniel 2). Upon this ROCK, Who is Christ, JESUS is building His Church. That brings us right into the present. This Purpose is as valid today as it was in 600 B.C. Please do not relegate this teaching to history, because if you do, then you miss the point and you miss the blessing. The Book of Daniel will teach us how to live according to God’s Purpose NOW.
Second, whenever the Whole either cannot or will not fulfill God’s Purpose, the Lord will take a Remnant out of the Whole in order to secure His Will on behalf of the Whole. Of all the nations in the world, He chose Israel to be the Remnant. Out of Israel, He chose a handful of faithful ones to carry on the Testimony. Of all the people carried to Babylon, Daniel and his three friends were the only ones who did not defile themselves. The Church is a Remnant compared to the world, and the Overcomers are a Remnant compared to the Church. “He gave some… till we ALL.“ (Ephesians 4:11-13ff) The Lord uses SOME until He gains ALL. That is the Remnant Principle.
Third, whenever we touch something of God’s Purpose, whenever we catch a vision of something of Heaven, whenever we see something pertaining to God’s Kingdom and Will, we touch conflict. As soon as we grasp something of the significance of God’s Ultimate Will and begin moving towards a Heavenly Testimony in the earth, then we become the subject of intense resistance from elements in this universe that are opposed to that Testimony. That resistance the Bible calls “Antichrist.” It will always attempt to pollute or compromise the Testimony. If that does not work then it will attempt to destroy it. Remember that the Testimony is not simply stating, “Jesus is Lord.” The Testimony is DEMONSTRATING the Lordship of Jesus with the way we live – by overcoming sin, Self, and satan. If we are not living in such a way as to demonstrate the preeminence of Christ over these three enemies then words are of little use. My Testimony is not something I GIVE, but something I LIVE.
Fourth (and we MUST get this), whenever anyone is aligned with God’s Purpose and begins to pray for God’s Kingdom and for God’s Will, all of Heaven will be moved to support, strengthen, encourage, protect, supply, and fight on behalf of that yielded vessel. “The heavens do rule.” (Daniel 4:26b) The Lord will immediately and decisively move to secure that Remnant. Daniel is a book of victory. It is a book of overcoming. Why? Because overcoming is the normal Christian life of every saint who puts God’s Kingdom and God’s Will above his own kingdom and will. So take all four of these principles, put them together, and what you end up with is war in the heavenlies, unceasing conflict, and an almost unbearable tension in the spiritual realm.
This tension exists until God’s Kingdom and God’s Will are fully established. What IS always resists what WILL BE. Thus, the Lord Jesus does not tell us to merely wait passively for His return, but bids us to pray, “Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done: on Earth as it is in Heaven.” (Matthew 6:10) Obviously, God’s Kingdom is not yet fully established and God’s Will is not yet perfectly fulfilled because life as we know it on Earth is not yet “as it is in Heaven.” Far from it! Christ is preeminent, but He does not have the manifest preeminence; that is to say, Jesus is Lord, but “we do not yet SEE all things submitted to Him.” (Hebrews 2:8b) So Heaven and Earth are at odds until Earth gets into alignment with Heaven.
THREE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE OVERCOMING REMNANT
When we DO see all things submitted to Christ then God’s Kingdom will have been established and God’s Will, His Eternal Purpose, will have been accomplished. Then we can cease praying for the Kingdom to come and the Will to be done, for we do not need to keep praying for something to happen once it has already occurred. But until it happens we are called to stand in the gap and pray for its fulfillment. The deeper into spiritual conflict we go the more we begin to see that prayer, true prayer, is work; indeed, it eventually becomes our only work, our supreme work, for nothing happens until someone prays.
If God will do whatever He wishes, regardless of whether we pray or not, then we do not need to pray at all, and the Lord’s instructions on praying for the Kingdom and the Will are superfluous. But the truth is that God waits for a Remnant to rise up and to pray in agreement with His Purpose before He does anything – He will do nothing apart from the Church. Apart from HIM, we CAN do nothing; apart from US, He WILL do nothing. Here is my point: the Lord searches the whole Earth, and when He has found a person who sees that Purpose, and daily orders their life according to that Purpose, and (here is the key!) consistently rises up to pray for the fulfillment of that Purpose, then God will move Heaven and Earth on behalf of that person; for He has found, at last, some ground to build upon. That person is numbered with the Remnant because, I promise you, men and women like that are few and far between.
Daniel is such a person. Let us take the three characteristics I have just described and see how Daniel measures up. First, Daniel has seen the Lord’s Purpose. We will not take time to go through each prophetic chapter and study it in detail. But when you read through the visions and dreams recorded in the Book of Daniel you see one thing coming into view, and that is, the Eternal Purpose of God. Everything Daniel sees or hears is interpreted through that Purpose. There is a thread that is woven through all of them, connecting them together. If we take the sum of them together, what do we see? We see the rise and the fall of earthly kingdoms, the coming of the Messiah, and the establishing of a heavenly kingdom that will never end. Now, this is stated in a number of different ways, but that is the message coming through every dream and vision recorded in this book. Christ will increase, and everything else will decrease. (cf. John 3:30)
Second, Daniel orders his life according to this Purpose. He is in the world, fulfilling his duty to such a degree of perfection that no fault can be found in him. He is not a starry-eyed mystic who neglects his earthly responsibilities. He is IN the world, right in the midst of Babylon; but he is clearly not OF the world. He has seen that Heaven rules, and the Most High is its Governor. He has seen the direction of the world, and he knows it is only downward. So he will be in the world, but he will not be of it. He will not eat the king’s meat or drink the king’s wine. He will not bow down to the idol. When no one else can give the interpretation then he will give it, and he will not compromise the message. Kings can trust him with their business, and the Lord can trust him with His business.
I would like to take a moment to address this issue of “ordering your life” according to the Purpose. As Christians we have been preached to for so long that we often make the mistake of thinking that just because we know something to be true that we are then automatically ordering our lives according to that truth. But knowing something does not mean you are living by what you know. We must be on guard against smoothly assimilating messages and “words” with our brains. Receiving the Word into your brain will do nothing for you; the Word must be received into your heart. I do not want to hear congratulations and applause for an “enjoyable” message or a “thought provoking” article. I want to see us order our lives according to what we claim to agree with. As it is now, we are educated well beyond our level of obedience. We do not live a tenth of what we say we believe. Before we have put one message into practice we are anxiously anticipating the next. May God deliver us from partial obedience, which is only disguised disobedience.
Seeing something and living it are two different things. There is a difference between knowing the Path and walking the Path. Daniel is doing both, but he does not stop there. There is a third characteristic we need to see in him, and that is, Daniel rises up to pray for the fulfillment of God’s Purpose. True prayer affords us the greatest opportunity for self-denial. When was the last time we offered up prayer, not for our agenda or plan, but for God’s Kingdom to come and for God’s Will to be done? When was the last time we came before the Lord, not to get our needs met, but to meet His Need? When was the last time we subjugated our own desires and wishes and gave ourselves wholly to praying for God’s Purpose to be accomplished? When was the last time we separated ourselves from family, friends, and business and sought the Lord; not to receive a blessing FROM Him, but to be a blessing TO Him?
We learn that Daniel was not only a man of heavy administrative responsibility and governmental authority, but he was preeminently a man of prayer: a man who withdrew from his earthly responsibilities in order to seek the face of the Lord – not once a day, not twice a day – but three times a day, offering up prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings before God. In addition to this, Daniel frequently ministered to the Lord with fasting.
Now, everyone wants power with God, but few want to deny themselves. They would rather just have someone pray for them or lay hands on them while they live any way they please. You know, there is no law that says a Christian must pray three times a day and serve God with fasting, like Daniel did. We are not led by rules and regulations, but by the Spirit. You can pray once a day, once a week, or not at all. You can eat three or four meals a day if you like. But I hope one day we will become more hungry for the Lord and more thirsty for His Purpose than we are for our earthly food and drink. I hope one day we will become so consumed with heavenly things that earthly things begin to lose their grip on us. I pray we will at least have enough wisdom to understand that if we really want to know God we will have to pay a price for knowing. It will cost us something to obtain experiential truth, and it will cost us something to hold on to it after we obtain it.
Something should be driving us to pray. There should be some unction, some inner compulsion, to seek God, to seek Him early, and to seek Him often. If that is not our daily experience then something is wrong. Perhaps we have grown complacent, or comfortable, or cold. Whatever the reason, vision is the cure. If we have truly seen God’s Purpose we cannot just go along as before. It will consume us. A person with a small vision will pray small prayers. Daniel is a man of huge vision, and so he prays large prayers.
I have said many times that everyone wants apostolic revelation, but no one wants apostolic persecution. We would like to have a gift like Daniel so we can interpret dreams, hear the voice of God, and receive prophetic insight into world events. Oh yes, we want the gift, but we do not want to pay the price. Is there any wonder that what is touted as “prophetic” today is simply “pathetic”? There is no depth of root in these people, no secret history of being dealt with by God, just an insane rush to bring forth yet another “word” that will satiate a greedy population’s lust for something new and exciting (II Timothy 4:3,4; I Timothy 1:5-7). New and exciting, maybe: but something the prophet has never actually walked in, and something which the people have no intention of walking in. They are ever learning, but never walking in the truth of what they have learned. (cf. II Timothy 3:7)
Daniel has seen the Purpose; Daniel has ordered his life according to that Purpose; and Daniel is in the daily habit of praying for that Purpose to be fulfilled. Something bigger than himself is fueling his prayers. He is daily paying the price, living according to the Truth he claims to agree with, demonstrating the preeminence of Christ, showing that “the heavens do rule”. So in him we see the Remnant Principle. Anyone who sees, lives, and prays according to that Purpose is marked out and set apart – marked out by the enemy, and set apart as the Lord’s own possession.
SPIRITUAL WARFARE BEGINS WITH PRAYER FOR GOD’S PURPOSE
Let us turn now to the Scriptures and see this principle in action. In Daniel chapter 6 we see that in the first year of Darius the Mede, Daniel has been made the highest official in the former kingdom of Babylon, now a province of the Medo-Persian kingdom. The other officials are envious of Daniel and begin looking for something to accuse him of. But Daniel is faithful, and is without fault. They can find nothing to accuse him of insofar as his work is concerned.
So they realize that the only way to succeed against Daniel is to find something to accuse him of with regard to his devotion to the Lord. They devise a scheme and ask King Darius to sign a law which forbids anyone to pray or to request anything from anyone except the king, for thirty days. If the law is outrageous, the penalty is even more so: anyone who violates the order is to be thrown into a den of lions.
Obviously these officials had a special interest in trying to pass this strange decree, and it should have raised the king’s suspicions. The text implies that they assembled hastily, and with great urgency. The king should have known better (later he would regret his decision), but he agreed with their request. And so, in the first year of Darius, for a period of one month, all prayers and petitions made to gods and men were outlawed under penalty of death. Now Daniel’s enemies watched for the opportunity to catch him in his prayers, turn him in, and have him killed.
Since the Book of Daniel is not written in a strict chronological order, we may not realize the significance of the timing of this edict at first glance. But something else happened in the first year of Darius, and when we find out what happened, the reason for the attack of the enemy becomes plain.
We read in Daniel 9:
“In the first year of [Darius]… I, Daniel, was studying the scriptures, counting over the number of years – as revealed by Yahweh to the prophet Jeremiah – that were to pass before the desolation of Jerusalem would come to an end, namely seventy years. I turned my face to the Lord God begging for time to pray and to plead, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes. I pleaded with Yahweh my God and made this confession…” (Daniel 9:1-4ff) (New Jerusalem Bible)
The “first year of Darius” marks the end of Babylon and the beginning of a concentrated effort on the behalf of Daniel to fast and pray for the return of the Jews back to Jerusalem, for the rebuilding of the Temple, and for the coming of the Messiah, the Christ. Daniel was so urgent in this that he withdrew three times a day to pray. Whenever you decide to turn your face away from the earthly and towards the heavenly, towards the face of the Lord, you touch spiritual conflict. It is a battle to get into prayer, and a battle to stay in prayer.
So it is not coincidental that an edict outlawing prayer is suddenly proclaimed in the first year of Darius. As soon as Daniel rises up to pray for the fulfillment of God’s Purpose, the enemy responds by threatening his life. The spirit of Antichrist is once again directly challenging the Remnant, threatening to destroy it, in an attempt to frustrate God’s Purpose. Daniel has a decision to make…
“Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house, opened his windows towards Jerusalem, and kneeled down three times a day to pray and give thanks to God, just as he always did.“ (Daniel 6:10)
We might wonder why Daniel was so urgent about praying, fasting, pleading with God, and confessing the sins of his people. If God said seventy years had been appointed, and the time was complete, what more was there to pray about?
The answer is found in the prayer itself:
“…and now, as it is written in the Law of Moses, this whole calamity has befallen us; even so, we have not appeased Yahweh our God by renouncing our crimes and learning Your truth… Yahweh our God is just in all His dealings with us, and we have not listened to His voice…” (Daniel 9:13,14ff) (New Jerusalem Bible)
At stake is the coming of the Messiah. Daniel correctly perceives that the seventy years had failed to bring correction to the Jews, and even though the allotted time was fulfilled, it might be delayed indefinitely as a result of the failure of the Whole. So Daniel, as a Remnant, rises up to pray for the fulfillment of God’s Purpose, standing in the gap, and making intercession for the nation.
Daniel prayed toward Jerusalem. This is a symbolic act that is pregnant with meaning and there is an application for us today as well. We will come to that. But first, what was Daniel’s reason for praying towards Jerusalem? No doubt he had in mind the prayer of Solomon:
“When they sin against You – for there is no one who does not sin – and You are angry with them and abandon them to the enemy, and their captors carry them off to a hostile country, be it far away or near, if they come to their senses in the country of their captors, saying, ‘We have sinned, we have acted perversely and wickedly,’ and turn back to You with all their heart and soul in the country of the enemies who have taken them captive, and pray to You, turning towards the country which You gave to their ancestors, towards the city which You have chosen and towards the Temple which I have built for Your name, listen to their prayer and their entreaty from the place where You reside in heaven…” (I Kings 8:46-49) (Ibid)
This is precisely what Daniel was doing on behalf of the entire nation. Chapter 6 of Daniel is concurrent with Chapter 9 of Daniel. Chapter 6 tells us that Daniel prayed three times a day towards Jerusalem while Chapter 9 tells us what was being said. While the enemy is plotting his death and trying to stop his prayers, Daniel says he is “confessing my own sins and the sins of my people Israel, and placing my plea before Yahweh my God for the holy mountain of my God…” (Daniel 9:20) The question before us now is: who will prevail? Which will come first: the answer, or the lion’s den?
We have no way of knowing the exact sequence of events recorded in Daniel 6 and Daniel 9. We have some clues within the text. The enemies of Daniel quickly discovered that he had defied the edict and had continued with his prayers and supplications, so they immediately went to the king and demanded that he enforce the death penalty. We know that the king was upset with himself and tried “until the going down of the sun” to deliver Daniel before having him arrested and thrown into the lion’s den (cf. Daniel 6:14). We also know that the angel Gabriel arrived to personally deliver the answer to Daniel’s prayer “at the time of the evening sacrifice,” which was sunset. (cf. Daniel 9:21; Exodus 29:39)
It is quite possible that the events of Daniel 6 and Daniel 9 all occurred within the space of a few hours. I have found through personal experience that the lion’s den usually comes about the same time as the revelation. The burden to pray comes with the edict forbidding prayer; Daniel labors for God’s purpose while Daniel’s enemies labor for his death; the answer comes along with a death sentence. This is not unusual, but quite common.
What is my point? Apostolic revelation and apostolic persecution go hand-in-hand. We cannot have one without the other. Revelation does not come to us apart from our circumstance, our environment, our struggle, our wrestling. Many want the revelation but they do not want the lion’s den. They want the angels but not the enemies. Yet the depth of the revelation is measured by the depth of the suffering, and if our sufferings are light then our revelation is shallow.
The thing revealed to Daniel is nothing short of miraculous – not only that Christ is indeed coming, but the exact timing of his appearance:
“Seventy weeks are determined… know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks and threescore and two weeks…” (Daniel 9:24,25ff)
It is commonly understood that the “weeks” mentioned here are weeks of years. There is some dispute over the exact time, but most scholars calculate the sixty-nine weeks (483 years) to either the birth of Christ or the beginning of His public ministry. The point being that Daniel received a specific answer to his intercessory prayer and prophetic confirmation of the fulfillment of the very Purpose he has been praying into existence. Now he could face the lion’s den with calm assurance that God would perform His promise.
THE REMNANT STANDS FOR HEAVEN’S AGENDA
It is important for us to realize that Daniel is not praying from any sense of sentimentality for his own people. His concern, and the motivation for his prayers, is not for the sake of his nation, but for Christ’s sake, for the Kingdom’s sake. We are not suggesting that Daniel did not pray for and love the Jews, but we are suggesting that his primary motivation was to see God’s Purpose fulfilled, of which the Jews were (and are) a part of that Purpose. Daniel was not a Jew who prayed for fellow Jews, but was a citizen of Heaven who prayed for God’s Purpose to be fulfilled on “Earth as it is in Heaven.”
We must pray as heavenly citizens of a heavenly kingdom, not as earthly citizens of an earthly nation. Most of the time Heaven’s interests are at odds with what the nations want. If that is the case, we must side with Heaven, not our own country. If we pray according to what the evening news says, or according to our inclination as citizens of South Africa, or Israel, or Australia, or Germany, or the United States, then we have failed our heavenly mandate, and God’s Kingdom suffers loss. We may be praying for blessing and protection when the Lord is calling for decreasing and judgment (or vice-versa). If we cannot separate ourselves from patriotism and nationalism then we cannot have power with God in prayer for His Kingdom. Daniel was zealous for God’s glory, not Israel‘s glory.
Here is what I want us to see. If we come to the Lord on the basis of being a Jew, or a Gentile; a Protestant, or a Catholic; a Fundamentalist or a Charismatic; an American, a Nigerian, an Israeli, an Arab, a Filipino, a Chinese, or an Argentinian; a rich person or a poor person; a professional clergy or a layperson; a male or a female; a red, yellow, black, or white person; then we are approaching the Lord solely on a human basis. We have to leave all our earthly ground and come onto the ground of Christ, and that is a heavenly thing. It goes beyond where we are.
Our history, our heritage, our lineage, the earthly things that we identify with, the things that make us who we think we are – all of it ends at the Cross of Christ. He is the Alpha: all things have their beginning in Him. He is the Omega: all things have their ending in Him. So my identity is not found in the fact that I am white, male, Charismatic, or American. “White power” and “black pride” and “rugged American individualism” is flesh: that is earthly, it is of the earth. It is death. We ought to avoid it like cancer. What is a Messianic Jew? What is a Charismatic Christian? What is a Fundamentalist? What is a Calvinist? What is a Baptist? What is a Methodist? What is a Catholic? What is a Religious Conservative? I tell you, there is nothing like that in Christ – these are all human contrivances. There are only two kinds of people in the universe. Either you are in Him, or you are not in Him. Everything else is just clutter.
I am not saying you should shirk your responsibilities. Remember, Daniel was faithful in all his duties, and no fault was found in him. Yet he was able to separate what he DID from who he WAS. His identity was not based on his position or his calling, but on his standing in Heaven. That is all that matters. I am asking you: are you willing to stop being an American? Are you willing to stop being a black woman? Are you willing to stop being a Charismatic? Are you willing to stop being a Methodist? What I mean is, are you willing to be reduced to Christ and “just” be an anonymous follower of Jesus, a nondescript branch among many other branches who are abiding in the Vine, and leave your own identity behind?
If you are unwilling to leave your ground and come onto the ground of Christ, where everyone is equal, then you will never see anything from Heaven’s perspective. Everything will be filtered through that earthly identity. But if you lose your life then you will find your true Life, and that Life is from Above, not Below. That is the secret to power with God. Earthly challenges (like a lion’s den, for instance) cannot be overcome with Earthly thinking, Earthly attitudes, Earthly prejudices. It takes someone from Above to subdue something from Below. It takes something Heavenly to confront something Earthly, and prevail over it.
“So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God.“ (Daniel 6:23b)
Daniel prevailed over Earth because he was of Heaven. Daniel prevailed over Darkness because he was of the Light. Daniel prevailed over Death because he had Life. Daniel was delivered from the lion’s den, and lived to continue his ministry of prayer. After such an ordeal we might expect him to go ahead and retire, to quietly settle down, and relax a little bit. Certainly he has earned a vacation. But shortly thereafter we find him battling in the spirit for twenty-one days while he waited for yet another answer to be delivered from Heaven. Can there be any doubt as to the outcome? Daniel does not stop. This is what it means to overcome. You can never coast, you can never let down your guard, you can never just let things slide for a day or two. Overcoming is not a once in awhile thing, it is an all-the-time thing. Settle that within yourself right now.
It bears repeating: the Lord searches the whole Earth, and when He has found a person who sees His Purpose, and daily orders their life according to that Purpose, and consistently rises up to pray for the fulfillment of that Purpose, then God will move Heaven and Earth on behalf of that person. If you are reading this I pray the Lord is speaking to you, calling you by name, saying “You are the one I want!” I challenge you to lose your agenda and be devoted to Heaven’s Agenda from this day forward, and every day, for the rest of your life. The Remnant Principle says that if you will seek first the Kingdom of God – that is, if you will put His Need, His Will, His Purpose ahead of your own needs, wants, desires, and plans – then He will not only perform His Will and establish His Kingdom, but He will protect, defend, and fight on your behalf. That is the only way to overcome.
THE LORD IN SEARCH OF OVERCOMERS TO FORM HIS REMNANT
Every Christian, every believer, every disciple can be that person. All of us are called to be Overcomers. It is for the “whosoevers.” The Lord is seeking you as much as you are seeking Him. The Lord is calling out for Overcomers, those who have the Revelation of Christ and who bear the Testimony of Jesus; those who demonstrate the preeminence of Christ over all things. That is your purpose as a Christian – in fact, it has always been God’s purpose for saving you and leaving you on the earth, whether you have realized it or not. You are NOT on the earth to be constantly disappointed, discouraged, and defeated. You are on the earth to demonstrate the preeminence of Christ; to show the world that “the heavens do rule.” Daniel is living the normal Christian life. A defeated Christian is a contradiction: it is not your destiny. Rise up and live according to the truth: that Victory is a Man, and He lives inside of you, and the One Who lives within you is greater than whatever comes against you.
The Lord walks in the midst of spiritual Babylon, calling out for Overcomers, looking for those with a spirit like Daniel, who pray daily for His Purpose to be fulfilled. We, like Daniel, pray daily for the Kingdom to come and the Will to be done. But our vision is higher and wider than Daniel’s vision: “The Jerusalem which is from above is free, whose children we are.“ (Galatians 4:26) For Daniel, Jerusalem represented an earthly Temple and a holy mountain. Our Jerusalem is from above, and we are the Temple of the Holy Spirit (cf. I Corinthians 6:19). We do not pray towards an earthly Jerusalem, but towards a heavenly Jerusalem, the New Jerusalem, which is coming down from God as a bride prepared for her husband. (cf. Revelation 21:2)
We are not zealous for the establishment of any earthly nation, but for a heavenly nation of “kings and priests” (cf. Revelation 5:10). We are not praying for the building of a physical temple, but a spiritual temple, a house of living stones, of which Jesus Christ is the Cornerstone (cf. I Peter 2:4-9). We are not looking for the appearance of an earthly Messiah, but a Heavenly Messiah, Who is building His Church upon the foundation of Himself, against which the gates of hell cannot prevail. (cf. Matthew 16:18)
Though bound to the earth, we are not of the earth. This is not our home, for we are from above. Though in the world, we are not of it. We will not eat its meat or drink its wine, and we will not bow down to its idols. Though we live in the shadow of Babylon, we are not afraid of its fiery furnace or its den of lions, for our God is able to deliver us.
The heavens do rule. We affirm it boldly and confidently, regardless of appearances to the contrary. The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory belongs to God – not man, not the devil, not the nations of this world. The Most High rules in the kingdoms of men, and Christ is increasing and filling all things. Have you seen this in the Book of Daniel? If you have, then embrace it, submit to it, cooperate with it, be in harmony with it, order your life around it, demonstrate it to the world around you, and pray for its fulfillment. Get aligned with something and Someone higher and greater than yourself. For when you see His Purpose, and order your life according to that Purpose, and consistently pray for the fulfillment of that Purpose, then His Purpose cannot be stopped; His Will cannot be frustrated; His Kingdom cannot be defeated. Heaven singles you out and Hell trembles with fear. You just became undefeatable! You just joined the Remnant.
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REMNANT PRINCIPLE, Parts 1-5 [Chip Brogden] 1