At Gateway Church in Austin, we kicked off our series called Outlaws, a series looking at prophets whose stories point towards the Messiah.
It’s often easy to make our own plans for our lives, and it’s often difficult to let go of those plans when things don’t seem to be going the way we expected. But God tells us in the Bible that He has His own plan for each of our lives, and He promises us that His way will be best. What does it take to let go of our plans and to trust God in every aspect of our lives?
The Outlaws series included the following messages:
Work through the following questions and Scriptures on your own, and get together with your running partner, life group, or friends and family to talk through what you are learning.
WITH YOUR FAMILY, ROOMMATES, OR LIFE GROUP, WORK THROUGH THE MESSAGE NEXT STEPS:
LISTEN TO THE MESSAGE I SHARED AT GATEWAY IN SOUTH AUSTIN:
HERE ARE THE MESSAGE NOTES FROM JOHN BURKE:
Big Idea: He’s the God who gives you a future and a hope. Will you trust God with your future?
Are you struggling to trust God in an area of your life?
- Do you feel like you know better than God how to move forward when it comes to your relationships, your career, your finances, your family?
- Or do you feel you have asked God for help and He isn’t coming through so you have decided to take matter into your own hands?
We struggle with this:
“What if God doesn’t want for me what I want? What if God has other plans for me than what I am willing to do?”
It puts us at a pivot point we often ignore—we don’t really trust God—not with our future plans.
But if God is love, and if God created you for love, peace, joy, and like Jesus said “If you know how to give good gifts to your kids, don’t you think God knows how to give you good things even more?” But will you trust him? Question to ask yourself today as we look at Daniel.
Do You Trust God with Your Work Future?
Daniel was an Outlaw prophet who had the audacity to do what God said, even when the powerful rulers said it would cost him his future.
But first, let me bring us up to speed historically. Which, I hope you take note, this is real verifiable history I’m showing you in this series.
I’ve studied the religions of the world, and there is not another religious text that first speaks to all the nations, most speak to a particular people group.
Second, that claims God is doing something in verifiable history that you can check out, and God even claims—that’s how you’ll know I’m really the One True God—I alone know what the future holds.
The past two weeks, we’ve looked at verifiable, specific ways God foretold the future of Jesus and whole nations—proof positive it was written before it happened because we have copies from the Dead Sea Scrolls pre-dating the events.
But in Daniel, more than any other prophet, God shows how He knows the future of kings, nations, and therefore your future too.
- So 2000 BC God creates the Jewish nation for 2 purposes: to record and persevere God’s Words in the Bible and to reveal God’s Messiah, Jesus to bless all the nations on earth.
- Then in 1500 BC God tells Moses he wants Israel to be a special, set apart (holy means set apart) nation of priests (a priest helps people reconnect to God).
- So Israel was God’s nation to help all nations know and connect to God. 1000BC this was happening. King David, wise King Solomon, the high point of Israel.
- But God had warned them in this conditional Mosaic Covenant—if you follow me and my ways, you’ll be blessed and a blessing for all nations; but if you rebel and do evil like the nations killing their children, I’ll let you have what you want—the full experience of evil’s consequences.
- For centuries God warns them through the prophets—please, turn back to me, you’re hurting yourselves—I will forgive and take you back. The reason God seems so full of angry warning, is because He’s so lovingly patient—for centuries he’s warning and pleading to turn back. But they keep on ignoring God, going their own way, doing evil.
- So in 605BC Babylon attacks, enslaves Israel, and Daniel is a Jewish teenager taken to Babylon. 587 King Nebuchadnezzer destroys the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, and so the book of Daniel is written from Babylon, modern day Iraq.
The Prophet Jeremiah is called the weeping prophet because he’s God’s last hope to turn their hearts back, but they stay hard-hearted. So even as they’re deported to Babylon, God says this through Jeremiah:
“Seek the peace and prosperity of the city [Babylon] to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”…10 This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord. – Jeremiah 29
Notice several things:
- God tells them, 70 years you’ll be in Babylon. A promise fulfilled but not necessarily enjoyed by those reading this. It is more of a promise for the generations to come.
- For now, seek the prosperity of Babylon.
- God wants us to thrive and bless the company or even evil kingdom where we’re planted.
- Even in the worst disasters of our lives, God’s already looking toward that day when we will look up, trust his plans—and let him lead us into a new, good future.
So Daniel and his 3 friends are smart, strong, and hotter than Chris Hemsworth, and King Nebuchadnezzar notices, and puts them in his Leadership Intern program to take the best and brightest for his kingdom. Sounds like an honor, but the initiation fee into this elite club was steep: Castration.
Apparently the King didn’t want any Chris Hemsworth types too close to his Harem with any ideas.
Daniel knows that God wants him to seek the prosperity of Babylon, but Babylon is an evil, corrupt society. Daniel and his friends are outlaws – living counter culturally while in exile.
- And Daniel is a faithful follower of Yahweh. So there are challenges from the start.
- He follows a Kosher diet, and yet the meal plan for the interns violates his diet, now known as the Daniel Plan, which many of us are on—turns out God even knew the future of good diets.
- So Daniel had already decided he would trust God with his future career, so he goes to his immediate boss and asks for a pass.
Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel, but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Daniel 1:9-10
This is a great mini-study on faith in the workplace. God wants you to work hard to bless and prosper your company. That helps people be open to God when Christ followers are good employees. Yet sometimes the company wants us to do things opposed to God’s will or ways, then what?
- Daniel models it—he respectfully asks permission, realizes the real issue—his boss is afraid of the big boss. That’s almost always the issue by the way.
- So Daniel proposes a solution that considers his bosses needs while he follows God’s lead.
- Test me and my friends on the Daniel Plan 10 days, and if we’re not healthier than the other interns, do what you want.
- At the end of 10 days, they’re healthier. And God honors that obedience in multiple ways.
To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds. 18 At the end of the time set by the king to bring them into his service, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. 19 The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.
– Daniel 1:17-19
God rewards Daniel’s faithfulness and by giving Daniel this gift to interpret the King’s dream, and it increases these guys influence in Babylon.
Let me ask you, do you trust God with the future of your career?
- Are you scared to live your faith at work because it might hurt your career, or do you compromise what you know God’s will and ways are to get ahead?
- Or do you trust God with your future plans—that He does plans for you and they’re good—for a future and a hope?
- Can you both work hard to bless your company, to be the best employee because you serve God first, and if company ways and God’s ways cross—will you trust God, seek a mutually beneficial solution, but ultimately do what God’s leading you to do?
I know, it’s not always that easy. Right?
Some tests are more severe, and the consequences are far greater, you could get fired.
- What do you do when everyone else is fudging numbers to get ahead?
- Or not being honest about the product?
- Or lying to customers, or cooking books, or using sex for power-moves—what do you do?
- Do you trust God with the future of your career and do what’s right, or do you go with the flow?
The more you trust God, the more He honors it.
Daniel gets tested again trying to help Babylon Prosper.
- His new Boss has such success, he gets a big Head. (Ever seen that happen?)
- Not like this—I mean a BIG HEAD—like 90 foot tall statue of himself Big Head.
- He thinks he’s god—literally. (I know your boss acts like God, this guy thought he was god).
- And he declares that if all his employees don’t bow down and worship his statue, they’re going to get fired.
- In Babylon, fired literally means fired—like in a fiery furnace fired. (You thought your company’s non-compliance policy was harsh).
Archaeologist David Heslop says:
“On the plains of Dura there stands today, a rectilinear mound, about twenty feet high, an exact square of about forty-six feet at the base, resembling the pedestal of a colossal statue.”
These are real places, people, and history. This is the God of history.
Daniel and his 3 friends are King Nebuchadnezzer’s prodigies, but they refused to bow down and worship the statue because the first of the 10 commandments says to worship Yahweh only—he’s the only true God—all others are counterfeits.
We’ve been showing that history foretold is how Yahweh proves this.
[The King said,] “If you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
– Daniel 3:15-18
Our God is able, and He will deliver us…but even if He doesn’t, we will follow Him. That’s trusting God with your career future!
God delivered them through the fire, and Nebuchadnezzar realizes there’s no God like this Yahweh, and not only does he promote them to running the province of Babylon, God uses that to then humble this arrogant King and lead him to faith.
Let me ask you, do you have an “If…then” faith, or and “Even…if” faith?
If I do this God, then you have to do that—or I’m not following you?
That’s an “if…then” faith.
They had an “Even…if” faith.
Or do you have an “If.. then” faith? This kind of faith is when we struggle to trust God when things get tough.
- If my husband or my wife makes me happy then and only then will I will stay with him.
- If my boss gives me a raise then I will work harder.
- If my parents help me out financially then I will come by for Christmas.
God wants to help us to develop an “Even…if” faith!
That’s when we say and mean: “God I’m going to trust you, and I’m going to believe you’ll deliver me through this tough situation, but even… if you don’t do what I’m asking—I’ll follow you still.”
That’s the kind of faith God honors and uses to change families, companies, neighborhoods, cities.
If you want to be involved, then give to Gateway South Campus Offerings and all that comes in above our budgeted expenses will go to pay off this debt. Text “gateway” to 77977.
Later Daniel under a new King of the Medes and Persians, corporate policy—no praying period.
Daniel doesn’t stop praying—thrown into the lion’s den—again God delivers and uses that to propel Daniel to highest position of government.
But you have to trust your career future into God’s hands. First question, are you there to serve you, or God? You have to answer that one first.
Do You Trust God To Rebuild a New Future?
So Daniel has these dreams and visions—and we don’t have time to get into all of them, but chapters 7-8 and 11 God gives him a layout of the coming kings and kingdoms right up to the coming of Messiah.
In Daniel 7, Daniel gets a vision of this coming Messiah in Heaven:
“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. – Daniel 7:13-14
What’s fascinating is this is not Christian, it’s Jewish, written in 500’s BC. The creed of Judaism was “There’s only One God—worship God only.” Yet here this mystery of the Ancient of Days
But then for 10 years, nothing. You don’t always see that unless you study the Bible—we think God was always doing stuff with these guys, but 10 years of silence can be faith-shaking. But Daniel keeps seeking God, reading the words of Moses and the Prophets, and he reads in Jeremiah and says this:
In the first year of Darius son of Xerxes (a Mede by descent), who was made ruler over the Babylonian kingdom— 2 in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. 3 So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes. – Daniel 9:1-3
He’s praying and confessing the wrongs of himself and his people, asking God to forgive and come lead and guide the Jewish people again.
And he’s asking what’s going to happen next. God surprises him with a visit from the angel Gabriel. What God shows Daniel is the future of the Jewish People through whom the Messiah would come.
He gives us the very time when the Messiah will come.
Let’s look at it, because this confirms God’s inspiration of the Scriptures.
- It reminds us God is alive and active in human affairs.
- He responds to the prayers of people fully devoted to Him.
- He longs to guide us and bless us.
- But He alone deserves full devotion.
Nothing else deserves 1st place–Not our jobs, not ourselves, not finding a spouse, or even raising children. Nothing deserves our full devotion like God does.
If we get that right then every other endeavor gets set in right order.
As we study, I want you to consider—is there any area of my life I’m holding back Lord—not trusting my future to you? Have ears to hear what the Lord’s saying to us.
The Year of Messiah Foretold
The Angel Gabriel says:
“Now listen, so you understand the meaning of your vision: Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place. …” Daniel 9:24 (535 B.C.)
Push Pause a second—so the angel is saying “this is what’s going to happen for the Jewish people [God created the Jewish people specifically as a sign to all nations–to bless the whole world. This prophecy relates to when it is all done, 6 things will be accomplished through the Jewish nation:
- Finish transgression
- Put an end to sin
- Make atonement for wickedness
- Bring in God’s kingdom (everlasting righteousness)
- Complete all vision and prophecy
- Anoint (set up) God’s permanent Temple.
And it’s kind of cryptic, Gabriel says “70” 7s
It could either be 7s of days (a week), or 7s of years.
Here is where prophecy is never that clear looking forward. In fact, sometimes prophecies in the Scripture were dealing with situations happening in that moment.
Some are dealing with the first coming of the Messiah, and some are dealing with the second coming of the Messiah. And it is not always clear.
In addition, some prophecies are potentially fulfilled in more than one timeframe!
Here’s what we know for sure. Jesus said “No one knows the times or dates except God” but he gives us enough so that looking back we can have confirmation God’s hand was involved.
- A good rule of thumb is “think context” – If I go into Krispy Kreme donuts and say—give me a dozen. They won’t give me a 12 pack of coke—the context makes it clear.
- Since this prophecy involves the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Temple, the coming of the Messiah, and the consummation of all history, (it’s probably not 70 weeks, or 1.5 years), so years are a good assumption.
- Plus 70 years of Babylonian captivity just completed, and now 70 “7s of years” are decreed for God to accomplish His purposes through the Jewish people for all history!
The angel continues:
25 “Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, [“Christ” in Septuagint] the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It [Jerusalem] will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. 26 After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be cut off [lit. “killed”] and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the [Temple] sanctuary. – Daniel 9:25-26, (535 B.C.)
Try to follow me because this is incredible—Gabriel says exactly when the Messiah will come and what will happen. By the way, Gabriel next appears in the Scriptures when he tells Mary she is pregnant with the Son of God.
(Now if anyone doubts Jesus was God’s Messiah—bring them right here to Daniel 9 or to Isaiah 53.)
First, let me remind you, this book and prophecy was translated from Hebrew to Greek around 250 B.C. (when the King of Egypt ordered a copy of the Hebrew Bible in Greek for the Great Library of Alexandria).
- Plus we have more fragments of the book of Daniel from the Dead Sea Scrolls than any other book—again pre-dating Jesus’ birth.
- We have copies found in the Dead Sea scrolls of Daniel carbon dated from 125 BC–before the time of Christ.
- The point is, these prophecies were not written after the fact—we know that scientifically.
So let break it down for you:
1). 70 “7s” = 490 years decreed for Daniel’s people and Jerusalem to accomplish God’s plan (v.24).
2). The countdown starts with the “Decree to rebuild and restore Jerusalem” (v.25)
3). “Jerusalem will be rebuilt, but in times of trouble.” (v.25).
This is why the 70 7’s are broken into 2 periods.
7 7’s or 49 years, then 62 7s.
The 49 years is how long it took to rebuild Jerusalem, and the book of Nehemiah and Ezra attest to the constant attacks and resistance the Jewish people got while rebuilding.
Which is an important aside. Just because God is in it, rebuilding the city, doesn’t mean there won’t be setbacks, difficulties, struggles, or even opposition. Often that’s a sign that God’s plans are good but being opposed in this evil world. The great Plans for God will be Greatly Opposed.
You sense God leading you to a new city or to a new company, it does not mean all will be easy, but it could still be right.
Or if you sense God guiding you to get married, to buy a house, or to have children, it does not mean all will be easy even if all is still right.
God does not promise a life without problems.
God promises to be with us in the midst of the problems we face.
So back to this prophecy.
4). 7+62 “sevens of years”= 483 years later Messiah comes (v.25)
5). “After the 62 “7s” period the Messiah will be killed and left with nothing.” (v.26)
6). Then a ruler will arise to destroy Jerusalem and the Temple (v. 26)
Note that when Daniel writes this, the Temple is still destroyed—not rebuilt the first time. This is talking about a second time.
7). The last “7” years “The end will come like a flood.” (v.26)
As you’ll see, Prophecy is like peaking across mountain peaks of history—sometimes God shows the peaks but there are years of valleys in between—and in this case, there’s at least a 2000 year valley between the Temple destroyed and this last 70th 7 year period when Israel will come into play in God’s redemptive plan once again. Hold on and I’ll explain.
The starting gun for the countdown was “From the time the decree goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem.” (Dan 9:25)
The Jewish Priest, Ezra, records in another Old Testament book this exact decree and the time:
“[Ezra] came up to Jerusalem in the seventh year of King Artaxerxes…11 This is a copy of the letter King Artaxerxes had given to Ezra… ‘Artaxerxes, king of kings, To Ezra the priest, teacher of the Law of the God of heaven: Greetings. 13 Now I decree that any of the Israelites in my kingdom, including priests and Levites, who volunteer to go to Jerusalem with you, may go… [and] do whatever seems best with the rest of the silver and gold, in accordance with the will of your God.’”
– Ezra 7:7-18 (458 B.C.)
That decree started the Jews rebuilding Jerusalem.
|Decree to Restore & Rebuild Jerusalem
Artaxerxes 458 B.C.
[-49 yrs-][—-434 years—-]
[458 B.C. – 483 yrs = 25]
+ 1 (no yr “0”) = 26]
and is “Cut Off”
2nd Temple in Jerusalem Destroyed
Now notice, this is very real history with very real dates.
Encyclopedia Britannica says Artaxerxes started ruling in 465 B.C.
The decree was issued in the 7th year of Artaxerxes rule.
Artaxerxes rule begins 465 B.C. – 7 years = 458 B.C.
So show you in chart form:
- 458 is the year of Artaxerxes decree
- subtract Daniel’s 7+62=69×7 “sevens of years” = 483 years
- 458BC-483= -25 (or 25 A.D.— but there is no year zero between 1 B.C. and 1 A.D., so you add one year = 26 A.D. when the Messiah comes
I just love Church Math – reminds me of my days as an engineer!
This is important though—it confirms God’s Hand behind the Scriptures—God proves he superintended the Bible’s words—this should motivate you to study and know the Bible well—there’s no other book like it.
Jesus said, He’s the fulfillment of all that was written by God through the Jewish Prophets:
I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. 19 So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven. – Matthew 5:17-19
And if you claim to love God and follow Jesus, this is his love letter written to you in the Bible so you can know Him better, prioritize reading and studying his word.
Will You Trust God with Your Whole Future?
Just stop and marvel for a second—look what God has done! The Messiah, God’s human representation, will come in 26 AD, be killed, then the Temple destroyed—happened in 70AD. This is real history, proving God alone knows the future.
So that’s 69 “sevens” of years the angel talks about, what about the 70th “seven?”
The angel continues to explain one more 7 year period the Jewish people will be involved in.
We don’t have time to look at verse 27 which mentions “The end will come…”
But to summarize, we are in “The Time of the Gentiles” or the Church age. But at some time in the future, and no one knows when, the Jewish nation will come into play again for one more 7 year period—the same period mentioned in Daniel and Revelation.
Are we in the last days, is Jesus coming back in our lifetime? I have no idea.
But look, you will see Jesus in the next 60-70 years I guarantee (90 for sure)—so live like it.
How do we respond to the God of the Universe—who holds history in his hands?
Who created you and me and holds the future in his hands?
How do we respond to the only one who can fulfill His promises irrevocably?
To the One who knew you before you knew yourself, who created You for Himself. How do we respond to the God who says He has great plans for you and me…not to harm you, but to give you hope and a future where you truly prosper—from the inside out, in right relationship with God and others around you.
We should respond by giving Him our whole lives—every part—by committing ourselves fully to God who sent His Messiah Jesus to pay for all our sins.