Daniel 7:9-14, there are many statements in the latter part of this book of Daniel that I do not dare to express or venture a thought as to what I think they mean, because frankly, I do not know just exactly what all these imply and when this might be happening. I enjoy reading in this book and also in the book of Revelation; and even though there is a good deal that is not altogether entirely clear to us, it has a very good effect and influence upon us. It is very, very good to read it, not to speculate about it and make some extravagant statements, but there is an assurance given just to read carefully those words, and it brings the conviction that we are on the winning side. It tells of the ultimate triumph of the children of God, of the little band on earth that go to make up His people, and few people here and there gathered out; and we might be overwhelmed with the thought, “What can we do against all this power and might and all those brains and all the brains and all the wealth that is in ascendancy in the world today?” What can we do? Ultimately, eventually, without a question or doubt, that little band of people are coming out on top. Truth is stranger than fiction.
In this book, we have that which is more marvelous and vastly more wonderful than any fiction could ever be, but the best of it all is that it is true and it is happening in us and for us. We are on the winning side, even though despised and not reckoned among the nations. It was never so that the Lord was endeavoring to build up some great big number that was going to be recognized in the world, but His work is in the individual here and there. Jesus’ work was in individuals, and He was putting into them that same spark of divine life which began and was fanned into a flame and grew on and on and consumed His life in His work and service.
Daniel was seeing something concerning the future. He was looking ahead, he was exercised about the future, and so are we. We are exercised about the Lord Himself coming back again, and the end that is certainly coming. When, we do not speculate, but coming it is; and there are many evidences about us in the world that show us we are living in a period of change. We have a conviction about that. What we read in the book, what we see about us in the world convinces us that we live in a period of change. We are not concerned about when it comes if we are ready for that coming. Our greatest concern is to be ready.
I heard of a man in the South during the days of slavery who was a very good master. He was loved by his men who served him. He went away for a while and was supposed to be back at a certain time, but when that time came, he was not back. He did come quite some time later, and came in the middle of the night. As he approached the entrance to his estate, he saw a lantern moving, and then others. As he neared the house, there were many lanterns coming. He was intercepted by men who were on guard. He was so impressed by the loyalty of those slaves of his that he called his wife and they set food on the table, gave them the best rooms in the house, and he and his wife served every one of those Negro servants. Didn’t Jesus say, “Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.” (Luke 12:37) I will serve them who are so waiting and guarding, loyal and true to the interests of the house, because they were on the job for the love of the master of the house.
It speaks of the Ancient of Days. The throne is set. Thrones were cast down. This is relative to the time that the throne of God will be set up over all. Jesus will not be the rejected one. He will be the glorified one. Every other kingdom down, every other throne and movement down, and the Ancient of Days is seated on the throne, and then there is the statement, “The books were opened.” Are we able to project ourselves into the future to think of that breath-taking, awe-inspiring moment when we shall be before the Ancient of Days and before His Son, and the books are opened? What was written in the books? We are going to face that some day, and there are some men and women who are going to be grandly, pleasantly surprised by what is in the books. There are going to be words in those books that they never knew were there. There are going to be acts and services done out of the divine love of God that are recorded there. God is not unrighteous to forget your work of faith, your labor of love, in that you have ministered to His Name. In the Old Testament, the ashes of their sacrifice were taken outside of the camp and laid up in a clean place. Where? In the mind of God. Don’t feed on the memory of what we did yesterday. Don’t feed on ashes. Put away the ashes; put them out where we do not even see them. We do not even tell ourselves about it.
It is a great thing to forget what we have done in our service. Not even thinking about what we did yesterday because today we are so busy making a new sacrifice, we don’t even have time to be bothered about it. After ten or twenty or fifty years of service, there are people who have forgotten what they have done. The Lord is going to be rehearsing it, and they will say, “We do not even remember it.” They were so busy doing something else. We are all making history. We read the history of this book and remember that we, in our day, are also writing history, and some day the books are going to be opened, and it will not be the defeats that we have suffered, or the weakness in our lives that we are going to be glad for, but the little in which we have been true to God.
There is a little verse I read which says, “The moving finger writes, and having writ, moves on; nor all your piety nor wit shall lure it back to cancel half a line, nor all your tears wash out a word of it.” The record is down. The record is going down day after day. We are not known so much by our name as by what we are. Just as soon as our name is spoken, people think of what we are.
This story of Daniel concerns Babylon. There are two Babylons. There was a world empire in the days of Nebuchadnezzar that was a natural kingdom. He was a world ruler, just a natural man. That kingdom ruled over all the known inhabitable portion of the earth. The children of God, because of their disobedience to God, went into captivity in Babylon. Jeremiah told them they were going into captivity years before it happened because he saw the untrueness that was in their hearts.
There is another Babylon, and it is a spiritual Babylon. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12) We wrestle against this world ruler, the prince of the power of the air. Babylon is a religion, and collectively going into Babylon is joining up with any of the many denominations of the world. Babylon is made up of every religion, every doctrine, every people who have a religion that has a foundation that is not of Jesus Christ. There is, however, a very, very great danger and possibility that Babylon might come into us and the end result is just the same. Babylon is an influence. Babylon is in the heart.
The first mention of Babylon is found in Genesis 10:8, where it tells us that Nimrod began to be a great one in the earth. He was big, and he felt important and capable and cocky; he was sure of himself, and he had big ideas. He had thoughts about God that were wrong, thoughts about the way of God and walking in the ways that were wrong. That is the beginning of Babylon for us. He began to be a great one, not a little one, not a humble one, not a person of lowly mind. Confident, sure, projecting one’s self into the limelight – that is Babylon in the world’s religion. That is also Babylon if it comes to us. May God forbid that it should ever come. We should treat it as we would treat a copperhead snake – it is deadly, it is fatal. Babylon is spiritual untrueness to God, spiritual treachery with the word and truth of God. The cup is beautiful, the wine is attractive. Self-exaltation, self-importance. We should dread every part of it. No matter where they start from, they are all going to end in the dead-end road of Babylon. That is where we will all end if we ever allow that influence to enter in.
Genesis 11, the people were on a journey, just as we are on the journey of life. They came to a nice pleasant plain to dwell in. We are finding a nice easy way to serve Christ in. The cross is gone, the reproach is gone. Babel is the easy way; it is the beginning of Babylon, individually and then collectively. They said, “Let us build a city, let us make a tower.” They had brick for stone, slime for mortar. Man can make brick but only God can make stone. The Lord said, “Let us go down – they will build no more.” That was prophetic, that was telling of the end of Babylon when Jesus would come. Daniel, Jeremiah, and the book of Revelation all speak of this. In one hour, when the time of God is come, she will come down. All the power, all the wealth, all the might, they will come down, and that little band that goes to make up the children of God will be exalted on the throne of God. We are on the winning side if we keep true to Him.
These four children of God were in Babylon because of the wrongs of others. When we begin to read of them, they were in the kingdom of Babylon, but the kingdom of Babylon was not in them. They were unmoved by the pressure around them. There was something in themselves that kept them steady – the anchor to their soul. The prince of Persia was to bring these four men, and remember, they were some of the best men of Israel, men of understanding, men of science. The pressure of the evil one is greater on those who have greatest possibilities of usefulness. They were to be receiving of the king’s meat and the wine of the king, so that they might have the learning, the understanding, and the tongue of the Babylonians. That is the desire of the evil one in the world – that we would have that kind of a speech, the tongue of Babylon, the same thoughts as they do. There is that pressure there. This man of God purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself. The prince said, “If you do that, you are going to be a sad-looking bunch; and if I show you to the king, I will endanger my head.” He said, “I fear the king,” but Daniel said, “I fear God.” Daniel means “God is my judge.” Daniel said, “You prove us.” The world would say to our young people, “YOU can’t live that way, you can’t live the bible, you can’t just give yourselves to that; you need something more. You are going to be a sad, gloomy-looking people.” At the end of this period of proof, it is written that their faces were fairer and fatter – ten times better. It was a mighty good diet. One grain of God-given faith is worth more than all the concentrated learning of all the colleges and universities on the face of the earth. It helps us to learn how to live and how to die. For the child of 12 or 95, it is the source of happiness and well-being.
Chapter 2, Nebuchadnezzar is the world ruler, and he has a dream, a vision from God. There are a good many men in high places in this world, even in Babylon, and they are very much troubled. Just by quietly being true to God today where we are, we are making history that will make grand reading when the books are opened. Daniel said, “You saw a vision, and the head was of gold, etc.” That is Babylon: thoughts, wonderful ritual. It is marvelous even to look on Babylon, the brains that are able to hold that together. But the feet are clay, the feet are weak; they cannot walk. That was true of natural Babylon and it is also true of spiritual Babylon.
There was a stone cut out of the mountain without hands — Jesus – no work of man, no brains of man, no planning of man. There will be the kingdom that God Almighty will raise up, and it shall smite every other kingdom. It shall be everlasting and eternal. We are on the winning side. When our Redeemer comes, every other thought will be cast down – all the head of gold. This which we believe will be the only belief. Now we are despised, even as Jesus was, but then it will be the only thing. Can we wait a little while?
Chapter 3, the golden image. This speaks of the thoughts of Babylon everywhere. Go with the trend, the popular movement. Fall down and worship and all will be well. They said, “We will not fall down.” In II Corinthians 10:4-5, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” The image of gold, 60 cubits high, lofty, big, important, cocky. It describes Babylon perfectly. Thoughts about doing God’s work in a big way. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal.
The most difficult thing of all is to be keeping the thoughts of God before us, and not our own thoughts. If the heart is right, we are going to interpret it in the light of Jesus, but if the heart is wrong, that is the beginning and everything else is going to be wrong. “When you hear the sound of music, fall down and worship, and it will be well with you.” Go along with us, you will be popular. I admire the answer those men gave, “We are not careful to answer thee in this matter.” A reckless abandon of the consequences. We are not trying to change a thing. “If our God wishes to deliver us, well; but if not, we will not serve thy gods.” It is a great thing to have the matter settled in ourselves and to be recklessly abandoned that, no matter what happens, we will remain true to God. The battle is half won.
Of course, the fire came – great tests, and they have said, “It has done us good.” The fire slew those men who put them into the furnace. Those that touch the little ones of God had better be careful. We have seen some terrible things that God has done in righteousness when someone has touched some of His little ones. Three men bound in the will of God equals four men loose in the liberty of Christ. There are people in God’s house today because they saw the form of the fourth in the lives of the men and women whom they were observing.
Chapter 4, Nebuchadnezzar had another vision, and said, “I saw, and behold, a tree in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof was great, etc.” Is that Babylon? Babylon sits upon the waters of the earth. Spiritual Babylon covers the earth. This tree filled the earth, reaching to heaven. It was spiritual wickedness in heavenly places. Millions and millions of adherents – all flesh was fed of it. Something for all flesh. All flesh could be satisfied with it. There is nothing in God’s house for flesh. Flesh is crucified in this house. Make no provision for the flesh, no scheming as to how we can gratify our flesh. I Peter 4:1, “He that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin.” We are to have the same crucifixion or mortification of the fleshly appetites and desires in ourselves. This is a perfect picture of Babylon. Mighty, strong, rich, and harboring some of the basest and lowest creatures in the human race. There was a watcher came down from heaven. In one hour, Babylon comes down – Revelation 17 and 18. It is written there that all the merchants of the earth mourned for her, no more shall be heard the voice of the bride and the bridegroom, no more music, never a stone for the quarry, no more anything – but the saddest of all is that never, never shall there be the voice of the bride and the bridegroom.
What about Zion? Genesis 12 tells about the beginning of Zion. It is the beginning of a man’s journey to that city whose builder and maker is God. In that city there is the voice of the bride and the bridegroom – Jesus and His people. No more tears, no more sorrow, no more sighing, or pain in Zion (Revelation 21). What a contrast to Babylon! We are on the winning side!
In the days of Belshazzar, when he was the successor to Nebuchadnezzar, he made a feast for his lords. While they were feasting, having a banquet, everything was lovely and pleasant and powerful and mighty. You will remember in that night Belshazzar was slain and Darius took over the kingdom. Babylon said, “I sit as a queen and am no widow, and shall never know sorrow.” In that night, Belshazzar was slain and his kingdom has never been from that time until this.
Think of this man Daniel and his companions. They went into Babylon, in custody of one of the greatest kings and kingdoms that ever were on the face of the earth. Nebuchadnezzar is gone, Belshazzar is gone, others have gone; but in chapter 6, Daniel is still living and is in the position to be instrumental in helping his people to get out of this condition. The Lord was maneuvering in the life of that man even years before their liberation. Toward the end of his life, he is still battling and he has the experience of the lions’ den. He had this testimony, “Thy God whom thou servest continually, He will deliver thee.” God will deliver every one of us if we will just continually keep being true in the place where we are.