Uncertainty is the refuge of hope.
Henri Frederic Amiel
One thing is certain…nothing ever stays the same. I was on Facebook this past week and I was noticing the updates posted by a friend with whom I went to college. She now lives in Maine and she posted the comment…the sun is out. A few minutes later she posted another comment that said…the sun is not out. This went on for a few posts, and I got bored of following the conversation.
It is true that living in New England you will have your fair share of weather inconsistencies. Like the 90 degree weather we were having last week compared to the mild 60’s of today.
But it is not just in the weather were we are experiencing uncertainty. There is uncertainty in the job market…uncertainty in the housing market…uncertainty in the stock market. In fact our world is full of uncertainty. And in uncertain times people seem to slip into a mode of fear.
Why are people so afraid of uncertainty? Well, there is the fear of the unknown. And I must confess that the unknown can be a bit frightening, but it can also be delightful. There is also the fear of change in time of uncertainty. The fear of failure… and the list could go on.
But I want to make a bold statement, which will serve as kind of the premise of our study today. Faith can thrive in times of uncertainty. Consider for a second the biblical definition of faith given in Hebrews 11:1. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Things hoped for…things not seen, certainly sound a little uncertain.
It is in these times of uncertainty that faith become obvious or should I say that faith become provable. Faith says in spite of not seeing things…in spite of only having hope, there is substance in our faith that keeps us moving and keeps us standing strong.
Let’s go back to our story today in Daniel 2. Let’s do a little review of our main characters. Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were taken captive to serve in the Babylonian King’s court. These three men received three years of training in the Babylonian culture which was an attempt to re-indoctrinate them to the Babylonian lifestyle. But in spite of the Babylonian effort to cause the men to forsake their God they men stood strong. They chose to believe the sovereignty of God.
They chose to stand strong on what they believed. They chose to follow God and walk in faith. But it did not take long for their faith to be tested.
Their first test came while in training, or should I say three year long re-programming effort. These men were challenged to fit in with the behavior and specifically the eating rituals of all Babylonians. But the dietary plan was against the dietary laws of the Jews. So they stepped out on faith and ask for a different food plan. It worked and God blessed these three brave men who stood up for what He had designed for them. In fact it worked so well that at the end of the three years listen to what was said about Daniel and his friends…
Dan 1:20 – And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.
Yet in spite of their impressive knowledge and stamina, it did not take long for there to be another trial. Chapter 2 of Daniel starts out by saying that King Nebuchadnezzar dreamed a dream. The dream was so upsetting, that the King immediately called for his wise men to give him the reason for the dream.
The Catch was that by the time the king assembled the wise men, he had forgotten the dream, or so he said. He asked the wise men to tell him the dream and to tell him the interpretation of the dream. This was an impossible task, and the wise men make an appeal on those grounds. Listen to their appeal:
Dan 2:10 – The Chaldeans answered before the king, and said, There is not a man upon the earth that can shew the king’s matter: therefore there is no king, lord, nor ruler, that asked such things at any magician, or astrologer, or Chaldean.
You can almost hear the desperation in their voice. Things they are a chanin’…from the certainty of the kings wise men, to the brink of extermination.
Listen to the King’s response:
Dan 2:12-13 – For this cause the king was angry and very furious, and commanded to destroy all the wise men of Babylon. And the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they sought Daniel and his fellows to be slain.
I want to digress form the story a bit here for a very important point. Did you know that we are in a war? And in this war our enemy will use whatever he can to try to defeat us. You name it…worldliness with all of it lusts…uncertainty with all it fear. He is ruthless. One person said, “The Evil one is willing to sacrifice all his false prophets in the city of Babylon if he can destroy four of God’s faithful servants.” Those who would follow the devil are a dime a dozen…but those who would follow Christ are few.
It is hard to believe that so many terrible things can happen to one person. Yet Daniel was ready to handle every occasion. He was bold in his faith and trials seem to make his faith shine brighter. Here in the face of uncertainty, Daniel’s faith shines bright. Daniel had to remember three truths in order to follow his faith.
Dan 2:14-16 – Then Daniel answered with counsel and wisdom to Arioch the captain of the king’s guard, which was gone forth to slay the wise men of Babylon: He answered and said to Arioch the king’s captain, Why is the decree so hasty from the king? Then Arioch made the thing known to Daniel. Then Daniel went in, and desired of the king that he would give him time, and that he would shew the king the interpretation.
Remember the immovable power of Faith
The First thing Daniel asked was if he could speak to the King. Now I want you to understand that Daniel did not take an arrogant stand on faith. The Hebrew word here actually means he desired or requested to see the king. There was a proper way to ask for an audience with the King. In fact it may be that Daniel never actually talked to the King, but actually spoke with a high ranking official who reported Daniel’s request to the King.
Daniel was bold in his faith. Daniel did not question whether or not he could do what the king asked. In fact, he said he would be able to show the interpretation. And why not, do you remember what God said about Daniel in chapter 1…
Dan 1:17 – As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.
Later on, we find out that Daniel was so bold because he had faith that God could reveal and interpret the King’s dream. Daniel stepped out on faith knowing that in the uncertainty, God was still there and he was still faithful.
This is an important fact. In time of uncertainty, God is still certain. We can still lean on his truth, and follow his leadership. The immovable power of faith is anchored in the immovable character of God.
One of my favorite things to do at the beach is to just sit or stand on the beach right where the waves wash up under my feet. The waves are refreshing, but I like most what happens as the waves retreat. As the waves retreat, the water takes the sand around my feet and under my feet away. This has a tingling sensation as my feet resettle just in time of the next wave to hit. Then the entire routine is started all over.
This is like the certainty that the world offers. It is shifting sand. Just about the time you settle in and feel comfortable, another wave hit and the shifting begins again. There is not firm foundation in the world, only uncertainty as the waves of life role in.
I am glad that we have a solid foundation on which to stand when the waves of live come crushing in
Remember the song…
A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.
Remember the immeasurable value of prayer
The next thing Daniel does is go straight to the Lord. I wonder, what is your first response to uncertainty? Is it prayer?
Notice what kind of prayer Daniel prayed:
Corporate prayer – He asked other to pray with him. Daniel did not want to engage in this battle without the help of his friends.
Fervent prayer – The word “desire” here is actually the same word used earlier when Daniel went to the king. Daniel and his friends went to the Lord
Expectant prayer – Daniel fully expected to get an answer.
Urgent prayer – Time was limited.
God answered his prayer.
Remember the incredible name of God
When God provided the dream and the revelation of the dream, Daniel praised the name of the Lord. Listen to Daniel’s praise…
Dan 2:20-23 – Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding: He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him. I thank thee, and praise thee, O thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might, and hast made known unto me now what we desired of thee: for thou hast now made known unto us the king’s matter.
Daniel knew that only God could provide such an answer to prayer and such an answer to the king’s dilemma.
But it even goes further, Daniel made sure that the king knew only his God, the God of Heaven, could do such things.
Dan 2:27-28 – Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, shew unto the king; But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days.
Dan 2:47 – The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret.
Why does God need people to stand strong in times of uncertainty? It’s so the world will know the name of our great God. In facts it all about the name of our great God. Daniel understood this, that’s why he says that no one could understand the dream, but god could. In fact you could say that God created or at least allowed the time of uncertainty, so that His name would be known
Many years ago, King George VI of England addressed the British commonwealth on New Year’s Eve at a moment in history when the whole world stood on the brink of uncertainty. Despondency and uncertainty filled the air. The king’s own body was racked by cancer. Before that year was over, his life ended. Unaware of his own physical maladies, he uttered these memorable words: “I said to the man at the gate of the year, ’Give me a light that I might walk safely into the unknown.’ And he said to me, ’Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the hand of God. It shall be to you safer than the light and better than the known.’ ”
I am not sure what kind of uncertainty you are facing in your life. It may be an uncertainty of…work…finances…family…a relationship…or it could be the uncertainty of an eternal home in heaven. I want to assure you that God is here, waiting for you to remember the truths the Daniel learned. Why not today, trust in God in your tome of uncertainty?
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