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Great and Awesome
Daniel 9:1-19
Skip Heitzig

Daniel 9 (NKJV™)
1 In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the lineage of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans--
2 in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the LORD through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.
3 Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.
4 And I prayed to the LORD my God, and made confession, and said, "O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments,
5 "we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments.
6 "Neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings and our princes, to our fathers and all the people of the land.
7 "O Lord, righteousness belongs to You, but to us shame of face, as it is this day--to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those near and those far off in all the countries to which You have driven them, because of the unfaithfulness which they have committed against You.
8 "O Lord, to us belongs shame of face, to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, because we have sinned against You.
9 "To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him.
10 "We have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets.
11 "Yes, all Israel has transgressed Your law, and has departed so as not to obey Your voice; therefore the curse and the oath written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against Him.
12 "And He has confirmed His words, which He spoke against us and against our judges who judged us, by bringing upon us a great disaster; for under the whole heaven such has never been done as what has been done to Jerusalem.
13 "As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us; yet we have not made our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquities and understand Your truth.
14 "Therefore the LORD has kept the disaster in mind, and brought it upon us; for the LORD our God is righteous in all the works which He does, though we have not obeyed His voice.
15 "And now, O Lord our God, who brought Your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and made Yourself a name, as it is this day--we have sinned, we have done wickedly!
16 "O Lord, according to all Your righteousness, I pray, let Your anger and Your fury be turned away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain; because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Your people are a reproach to all those around us.
17 "Now therefore, our God, hear the prayer of Your servant, and his supplications, and for the Lord's sake cause Your face to shine on Your sanctuary, which is desolate.
18 "O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our desolations, and the city which is called by Your name; for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies.
19 "O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name."

New King James Version®, Copyright © 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.

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War is Over, The

Have you ever been shaken to the core, disillusioned, and disheartened? When such times occur and fear rises up inside of you, what assurance do you have that life will get better and you’ll be able to even go on? This song penned by our Battledrums worship team speaks to this, and Daniel the prophet instructs us with his prayer. Daniel held onto three assurances that God’s work in us and through us isn’t over but will keep marching on.

As Battledrums releases its debut album, The War Is Over, we take a look at these songs and how they apply to our life as we live in victory over sin. Join Skip Heitzig in celebrating these songs and what they symbolize for our Christian walk. The war is over--Christ has won!

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Outline

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  1. Because of the Scriptures (vv. 2, 11-12)

  2. Because of God’s Character (vv. 4, 8)

    1. God Can Perform Anything

    2. God Can Pardon Anyone

  3. Because of Things Former (v. 15)


Study Guide

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Connect Group Recap: September 13, 2015
Teacher: Skip Heitzig
Teaching: Great and Awesome
Text: Daniel 9:1-19

Path

Have you ever been shaken to the core, disillusioned, and disheartened? In this teaching from Daniel 9, Pastor Skip instructed us with Daniel's prayer, showing us how truly great and awesome God is and revealing three assurances Daniel had:
  1. Because of the Scriptures (vv. 2, 11-12)
  2. Because of God's Character (vv. 4, 8)
    1. God Can Perform Anything
    2. God Can Pardon Anyone
  3. Because of Things Former (v. 15)

Points

Because of the Scriptures (vv. 2, 11-12)

  • Daniel's prayer is like a song written from the vantage point of battle-weary believers. Yet, he expressed confidence in a hopeful future.
  • Daniel's prayer was prompted by reading the Word (likely Jeremiah 25-29). The prayer that God accepts is the prayer that God directs. We need to base our prayers on God's truth, revealed in God's Word.
  • Daniel believed in the literal fulfillment of prophecy. He didn't spiritualize Scripture; he saw it as portraying God's actual will. Daniel also believed he was seeing that prophecy fulfilled.
  • God knows everything. One of His trademarks is His prophetic accuracy. If God's predictions are that accurate, He can handle your life.
  • Probe: Every tomorrow has two handles: anxiety or faith. Which handle are you holding on to? Do you live in anxiety about the future, or do you live in faith? Explain your answer.

Because of God's Character (vv. 4, 8)

  • J.I. Packer said, "Ignorance of God…lies at the root of much of the church's weakness today."
  • Two notable character traits of God are great and awesome (v. 4). The Bible uses these words together a total of ten times regarding God's character and actions.
  • Great is gadol in Hebrew. It means big, magnitude, important, or mighty. It is used as a name of God (see Deuteronomy 10:17).
  • Awesome is yare in Hebrew. It means fear or revere. It holds the meaning that God should be honorably revered and held in respected awe.
  • For all God's power, He is also full of mercy and forgiveness. J. Dwight Pentecost said, "Mercy is God's ministry to the miserable."
  • When our failure meets God's forgiveness, there is joy, confidence, and assurance.
  • God can do anything and forgive anyone; He can perform and pardon.
  • Probe: Discuss a time when your failure met God's forgiveness. What did you learn about God's character?

Because of Things Former (v. 15)

  • In verse 15, Daniel recalled a former captivity: the time the Hebrews were delivered from Egypt.
  • This set a historical precedent: what God did before, He can do again!
  • What can we learn from previous examples of God's greatness and mercy?
    • They are predicted: God is great enough to superintend the writing of the Book that predicted events.
    • He is powerful: God is great enough to demand awe and respect, to forgive and show mercy.
    • We have precedents: God is great enough to deliver people throughout history, giving us a future and hope. History is His story, as He works through people and events to accomplish His will and purposes.
  • Probe: Daniel's prayer revealed God's might and mercy. How have you experienced God's power through one of your prayers?

Practice

Connect Up: Knowing that God is great and awesome, what should our response be toward Him? How does His character influence and affect our worship?

Connect In: God shows mercy and forgiveness toward His children. How are you showing mercy to those within the body of Christ? What role does forgiveness play in fostering a healthy church?

Connect Out: God loves the whole world. In light of this, how should you be praying for the world in accordance with God's will (known through His character and Scripture)?

Detailed Notes

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  1. Introduction
    1. The words great and awesome have been overused and are common words in our language
    2. God created the world and said it was good
    3. When Daniel prayed the prayer found in Daniel 9, he had been displaced from his home and was captive in Babylon
    4. The Israelites faced many trials and hardships
    5. When you feel disheartened in life, what gives you hope?
  2. Because of the Scriptures (vv. 2, 11-12)
    1. Daniel read the Scriptures and reflected on them
      1. He based his prayer on what he studied
      2. If you want to freshen your prayer life, let what you read prompt what you say
      3. The prayer God accepts is the prayer God directs (see 1 John 5:14)
      4. Daniel had scrolls from the prophets, in this case, the prophet Jeremiah
        1. He was reading somewhere between Jeremiah 25-29
        2. Jeremiah 29:10-11
        3. Scriptures give us a future and a hope
    2. Daniel's prayer
      1. He believed in the literal fulfillment of prophecy
        1. Seventy years was taken literally
        2. He was reading in 538 BC
        3. The Jews had been in captivity for almost sixty-eight years
        4. Some people do not believe in studying prophecy
        5. One of the most motivating studies is prophecy and its fulfillment
        6. One-fifth of Scripture is prophetic
      2. Daniel believed he was seeing the fulfillment of that prediction in his lifetime
        1. Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 give the consequences for the disobedience of Israel
        2. Moses predicted the captivity of Israel
      3. Daniel got his hope from the Scriptures
        1. God is omniscient and does what He wishes (see Isaiah 46:10)
        2. Daniel knew his people would soon go back to their land
        3. The odds for the fulfillment of God's prophecies are astronomical
        4. Daniel 11:1-35 contains 135 detailed predictions about the future that have all been fulfilled historically
        5. If God can be that detailed in prophecy, He can handle your life
        6. Every tomorrow has two handles
          1. The handle of anxiety
          2. The handle of faith
  3. Because of God's Character (vv. 4, 8)
    1. God Can Perform Anything
      1. Great and awesome
        1. Mentioned together in Scripture ten times
        2. Always refer to God and what God does
      2. Great
        1. Gadol = great
          1. Used as a name of God
          2. Deuteronomy 10:17
        2. Great is a comparative term
          1. Signifies there are others who are not so great
          2. We are inferior to God
      3. Awesome
        1. Means dreadful or terrible
        2. Yirah = a fear
          1. Reverential fear
          2. Respected awe
    2. God Can Pardon Anyone
      1. Merciful and forgiving
        1. When failure meets God's forgiveness and sympathy, there is joy, confidence, and assurance
        2. God can do anything and forgive anyone
      2. God specializes in forgiving people
        1. He sets captives free
        2. He is attracted to weakness
        3. 1 Corinthians 1:27
      3. Jesus was merciful to the woman caught in adultery (see John 8:7)
  4. Because of Things Former (v. 15)
    1. Daniel recalled a previous captivity
      1. Egypt
      2. It is a historic precedent
      3. God delivered them once before and could do it again
    2. When you are weary, look for a pattern of God in history
      1. If you can discover a pattern that God has done before, it will assure you He will do it again
      2. 2 Peter 2:9
    3. History must always be viewed through the lens of God
      1. You are forced to make the conclusion that it is His story
      2. He is the author
  5. Closing
    1. God is great enough to superintendent the writing of a book that predicts events
    2. He is great enough to demand awe and respect
    3. He is great enough to deliver His people through history and give them a hope and a future

Hebrew words: gadol, yirah

Cross references: Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 10:17; 28; Isaiah 46:10; Jeremiah 25-29; Daniel 11:1-35; John 8:7; 1 Corinthians 1:27; 2 Peter 2:9; 1 John 5:14


Transcript

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Hello and welcome to this teaching from Skip Heitzig, pastor of Calvary Albuquerque. Our series called, "The War is Over" celebrates the songs from our worship team Battledrums' debut album, now available on iTunes, Google Play, and at battledrumsmusic.com. In this series, Skip examines what these songs symbolize for a Christian walk. If the message brings you closer to the Lord, tell us. Email us at mystory@calvaryabq.org.

Ever been shaken to the core, disillusioned and disheartened? When that happens, how can you know that life will get better? Battledrums' song "Great and Awesome" speaks to this, and Skip examines how the Prophet Daniel held on to three assurance that God's work in us, through us, isn't over. We invite you to mark your Bible in Daniel, chapter 9. But before Skip begins, check out this sneak peek of "Great and Awesome."

[MUSIC - BATTLEDRUMS, "GREAT AND AWESOME"]

Would you turn in your bibles please to Daniel chapter 9. To bring you up to speed, what we have been doing in the last several weeks in a series is looking at the original songs that have been penned and composed by our worship team, and we've been looking at the biblical foundation for those. What are the truths found in scripture upon which the great anthems that we have been singing this year with these songs, where do they come from? And today we're in Daniel chapter 9.

And before we begin, let's just pause and pray. Father, this is the time where we give you our attention. This is not the time we sing to you, though we have done that. This is not the time where we declare to you, though we have done that. This is the time we listen to what you have to say.

And so Father, we believe that you have written truth. You have preserved what is written for our benefit. It is you're very word. There are words of life.

And Father, here we are in this little space of time we call our lifetime. We're sandwiched in between eternity past and eternity future, and you've given us, Lord, this life to live, to make choices, to honor you, to glorify you, or to not do any of those things. It's our choice.

We pray, Father, that we might be in a place where we live our lives to their fullest because they glorify you. Help us to understand what is written, what is preserved for us, so that we might be encouraged and find hope. In Jesus' name, Amen.

There are words in our language that are common words. We use them in just about every sentence and paragraph, the, and, that, those are common words. There are other words in our language that have become common words, unfortunately. We have over used them, we have used them to excess, and so words that should be standalone, unique words have become too common.

An article in the Huffington Post said, words are like fashions. They go through trends. But the article went on to talk about overused words by saying that our world is littered with such words.

What are the common words that are overused? Well, in this list, words such as literally or honestly or absolutely. But this and other sources said the number one overused word in the English language today is the word awesome. Everything's awesome.

There's even a guy in Los Angeles, California who's not a Californian, he's from England, and he is trying hard to ban the word awesome in the public forum. He even has bumper stickers out with the word awesome and a red diagonal slash across it. Like quit using that term.

How many times in the last 24 hours have you used the works great and awesome? One time, twice, 18 times? Did you lose count?

And where were you when you used the word awesome? What was it, do you remember, that cause that feeling of awe to come over you? Yeah, we don't even remember it because it is said so often, self included.

Just a note by contrast, when God created the world, you know what he said about it? He said it's good. Isn't that amazing? God creates the world, and he says, it's good. We eat a hamburger and it's awesome.

Awesome is simply the new word for good. Awesome is just a new word for cool. Great is just the new word for OK. Great is just the new word for fine.

It's overused. These are overused words.

I mean, was that sandwich a Subway really awesome? And that parking space that you found, was that awesome? That game yesterday, awesome? I don't think so.

I mean, the sandwich was tasty, the parking space was handy, the game may have even been exciting, but awesome? I don't think so. If we keep using words like great and awesome to define the mundane things in life, we're simply emptying those words of power, right? I mean, if everything is great and awesome, then really nothing is great and awesome because it's just overused.

However, now the Grand Canyon at sunset? That's awesome. Landing on the moon? Pretty awesome, that fits. And in the way in which Daniel speaks about God and uses the words great and awesome is appropriate.

In Daniel chapter nine in verse four, "I prayed to the Lord my God, and made a confession, and said, O Lord, great and awesome God." Now that fits. We're looking at Daniel's prayer.

If you look at chapter nine with your Bible open, you can see that that prayer looks rather lengthy. It's really not long. It took me under three minutes to read it aloud in a normal conversational tone. But this is Daniels prayer to God. And this prayer of Daniel the Prophet, like the song that we are highlighting, "Great and Awesome" that you heard highlighted just a moment ago, both the prayer and the song come from a particular vantage point of a believer who feels beat up, who feels like he or she has gone through the battles of war, who feels at a low place in life. They have been knocked down, but they're wondering is there a future.

Now, when Daniel praised this prayer, he, along with thousands of other Jews like him, had been displaced from their home. They had been taken captive. They had been once in chains and led away from Jerusalem about 5, miles to the East, all the way to Babylon. They had faced hardships.

They continue to face hardships and trials. And yet, what is remarkable is that in this prayer, there's a glimmer of hope. There's a future. After all that they have been through, it's as if Daniel knows this is not the end. God's plan and God's people are going to march on into the future.

Now, how can he think that way? His city has been invaded, his people have been decimated, they've been taken captive, and yet he has this hope. How is that?

In answering the question, I actually want to ask that question of you. When you feel so disheartened in life, when fears are mounting up inside of you and they're growing and even feeling like they're going to take over, and you wonder could I ever move on from this place, can things ever get any better? What assurance do you have? What is it that gives you hope?

I asked the question because I want to answer it with Daniel. There are three assurances or three things that brought him assurance, they gave him future and hope-- because of the scripture, because of God's character, and because of things former. Those three, that triad of truth, gave him hope. Because of the scripture, because of God's character, and because of things former. I'll explain as we look at this prayer.

Let's begin with the first. Let's go back to verse one and read a few verses of Daniel's prayer and kind of the set up to it. In verse one, "In the first year of Darius, the son Ahasuerus, of the lineage of the Medes, who is made king over the realm of the Chaldeans. In the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of years specified by the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the profit, that he would accomplish 70 years in the desolations of Jerusalem.

Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make requests by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. And I prayed to the Lord my God, and made confession, and said, O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him and with those who keep His commandments."

OK, stop right there. The first thing we notice is that Daniel has been reading his Bible, and his prayer to God beginning in verse four is based upon what he has read in the scriptures. He's having his Devotions in the morning, you might say. In fact, the New English Bible translates verse 2, I was reading the scriptures and reflecting.

Put that thought in your mind. Here's the Profit reading and reflecting upon the text of scripture and based upon what he read in the scripture, he begins praying to God.

Now, let me slip in a note of encouragement. If you're prayer life has gotten a little bit dry and dusty, let me encourage you to take your cues from the text of scripture. You want to freshen it up a little bit? Let what you read prompt what you say.

That's what Daniel does. He's been reading the scripture. What he reads prompts what he says to God.

And there is a principal, I believe. The prayer that God accepts is the prayer that God directs. You want to make sure that your prayer is connecting with God, let it be based upon his truth.

First John, chapter 5 tells us we can be confident that He will listen to whatever we ask for anything in line with His will. And if we know He's listening when we make our request, we can be sure that He will give us what we asked for.

Isn't that a great promise? You can ask for anything and know it's going to happen if what? You pray according to His will? How do you pray according to His will? By praying according to His word. Though Daniel reads and Daniel speaks.

Now, Daniel doesn't have a leather bound Bible. He certainly didn't have a digital Bible. He had scrolls, and he must have had the scroll of the Prophet of Jeremiah, that's who he refers to. So I can only imagine that when he and his companions were taken captive years before, that they were allowed to keep with them their scriptures, the scrolls of the law and the prophets, the writings. And so Daniel unfurls the scroll and start reading through Jeremiah the Profit and something catches his attention.

You know it's amazing, really. We are able to determine today in 2015 what Daniel the Prophet was reading in his quiet time that morning. That's what's amazing because he tells us. He's reading the prophet Jeremiah and he understands the 70 years of captivity are almost up. So we know that Daniel was reading between Jeremiah 25 and 29, that great set of promises about the captivity.

Let me read you a snippet, Jeremiah 29. Listen to this. "For thus says the Lord, after 70 years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform my good work toward you and cause you to return to this place." That's Jerusalem. "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace, not of evil, to give you a future and hope."

You know, the scriptures will do that. When you read the scriptures and you see what God has promised, they tend to give you a future and a hope. They broaden out and freshen up your perspective.

A couple things to make note of in Daniel's prayer. Number one, Daniel believed in the literal fulfillment of prophecy. The literal fulfillment of prophecy.

He's reading the book. It says 70 years are determined for Jerusalem and he believes 70 means 70. 70 years is to be taken literally.

These are not symbolic years, these are spiritualized years. So many people look at the thousand year reign of Christ, the millennial reign of Christ as some mystical spiritualized interpretive element that doesn't really mean 1,000 years. Daniel understood 70 years to be 70 years.

Why? Because the year that he's reading according to verse one, the dating that is given, is 538 BC, which means the Jews had been in Babylonian captivity for 67, almost 68 years. That's what rings the bell for Daniel.

He's reading the book and he goes man, in two years, that 70 number is up. We're going back. God said we'll be going back to Jerusalem after 70 years.

Why is this important? It's important because some people will tell you that if you study prophecy, it'll make you lazy and unmotivated. It's unprofitable, it's a distraction. Don't worry about prophetic scripture, worry about now.

I beg to differ. One of the most motivating studies you could ever do is to study prophecy and its fulfillment.

Like the pastor who boasted that he never taught on prophecy to his Church because it was such a distraction. And the person he was saying this too butted in and said, well, you got to admit then, then there's an awful lot of distractions in that Bible of yours. One fifth of the scripture, at least is prophetic. So Daniel reading, seeing the number 70, to him it was literal.

Second thing to make a note of is that Daniel believed he was seeing the fulfillment of that prediction in his lifetime. He reads what Jeremiah wrote, but his mind also goes back to something else he had read in the past. Before Jeremiah, from the law, from the Torah, from the books of Moses, Leviticus 26, Deuteronomy 28, Moses made a prediction.

If you, the children of Israel when they were just starting out, if you turn from God, if you disobey his commandments, he will let you be taken captive by other countries, and in captivity you will not find rest. They will come after you with a sword. In the morning you long for evening, in the evening you long for morning. Moses predicted the captivity.

Look down at verse 10 of his prayer. He includes that.

"We have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God to walk in His ways, which has set before us by His servants the prophets. Yes, all of Israel has transgressed your law and has departed so as not to obey your voice. Therefore, the curse and the oath written in the law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out on us, because we've sinned against Him." Remarkable.

"And He has confirmed," verse 12, "His words which He spoke against us and against our judges who judged us by bringing upon us great disaster. For under the whole Heaven such has never been done as what has been done to Jerusalem. As it is written in the law of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us, yet we have not made our prayer before the Lord our God that we might turn from our inequities and understand your truth."

So get the picture. He's having his devos, he's reading Jeremiah 25 through 29. He also remembers the words of Moses, who predicted this would happen, and he realizes this is exactly what God has predicted would happen. And if it is, and it is, it means we're going back soon.

So he gets his assurance from the scripture, because of the scripture he knows there's hope. We're in this situation. It didn't take God off guard. He knew it. In fact, He predicted it.

You know that one of God's great trademarks is that He is omniscient. That's the word theologians use, omniscient. He knows everything. He's the ultimate know-it-all.

What God says in Isaiah 46 is basically, let's have a challenge, all the other gods and goddesses, which one can predict the future in advance like I can. Isaiah 46 10 declares, only I can tell you what's going to happen before it happens. Everything I plan will come to pass for I do whatever I wish.

So Daniel understands this and it gives him assurance that when God predicts something, it's going to happen. 70 means 70, we're going back.

You know, if I were to place in my pocket 10 coins and mark with a piece of tape each of the coins 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. And they're in my pocket, and I have my hands out of my pocket, and I make a prediction. I say, ladies and gentleman I'm going to reach in my pocket, and the coin that I select will be coin number 1.

Now, the odds that I could do that are what, 1 in 10? But as I keep making predictions like that, my odds decrease exponentially. So if I do that and we're amazed, wow, he did it against the odds of 1 to 10. If I say I'm going to reach in my pocket a second time and I'm going to pick out coined mark number 2, now my odds decrease to 1 in 100. And then if I continue with that, the odds of me pulling out 10 coins marked 1 through 10 in consecutive order as predicted would be 1 in 10 billion.

Why do I bring that up? Simply to say this, God keeps stacking the odds against himself by predictive scripture. He predicts in incredible detail future events. The odds for them to happen are astronomical. Brief example, and there are many, believe me. Just one simple example.

Two chapters away is Daniel chapter 11. In Daniel chapter 11, in the first 35 verses, there are no less than 135 detailed predictions about the future that have all been fulfilled historically and they've been documented. 135 in 35 verses, incredible detail.

Now, if you're a thinking person, then your thinking goes like this-- if God can be that detailed and that meticulous with those kind of predictions, He can certainly handle my life. It's going to be OK. Because of the scripture I have assurance for the future.

You see, every tomorrow has two handles-- the handle of anxiety and the handle of faith. And every time God keeps a promise, it moves you to grab the handle of faith. So what was it for Daniel, a captive in a foreign land who has experienced chains and hardship that God's work is going to go on and things are going to get better? Because the scripture.

Number two, because of God's character. There are certain things that Daniel knew to be God's character, that brought him great comfort and assurance.

Go back to verse 4. "I pray to the Lord my God and made confession and said, O Lord, great and awesome God who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments. We have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from your precepts and your judgments.

Neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, to our fathers, and all the people of the land. O Lord, righteousness belongs to You, but to us shame of face, as it is this day-- to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those near and those far in all the countries which you have driven them, because of the unfaithfulness which they have committed against You.

O Lord, to us belongs shame of face to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, because we have sinned against You. To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him."

What is Daniel doing? He's confessing his sin, their sin. He is confessing the sin of the people.

What brought them into captivity was their failure. He's confessing that, but also he is noting the character of God. He is musing about God himself, who he knows God to be.

J. I. Packer once wrote, ignorance of God is the root weakness of the church. Ignorance of God is the root weakness of the church. I agree with Packer, but I would also say it's also the root of our lack of assurance. We don't understand who God is.

Now Daniel does. Daniel notes that there are two categories of God's character. In one category, God is great and awesome. In the other category, as if to balance it out, with him is mercy and forgiveness.

Does that mean to Daniel? It simply means God can do anything and God can forgive anyone. God can do anything because He is great and awesome. God can forgive anyone because with Him is mercy and forgiveness. Mercy and forgiveness.

God is great. God is awesome. God can do anything. God can forgive anyone.

I decided to look up the words great and awesome together because that's the song, "Great and Awesome." I discovered that in the scriptures, the words together are mentioned 10 different times, and they always refer to God or what God does. Great and awesome is your name, the great and awesome God, the great and awesome day of the Lord. Those are the descriptions of it in the Bible.

God is great. What does that mean? Because if you ask me, Skip, how are you doing, I usually go, great. That's an overused word.

We say God is great. What does that mean? The Hebrew word gadol means to be large in the magnitude, large in importance, or large in might.

God is great. It is one of the names of God, in fact. Deuteronomy 10:17, God is given the title Yahweh or The Great God. It's a formal title of one His name's, The Great God.

I was on the internet and I looked up-- I decided to find out how many people use the term great in their own personal formal name in history. 142 is the number I came up with, with people who decided that they would take the term great and make that a part of just their name. So there's Herod the Great, Alexander the Great, Ivan the Great, Napoleon called himself Napoleon the Great. Overused, under rated leaders in comparison to the great God.

What does it mean to be great? If you look up in the dictionary, it means considerably above average. Considerably above average, remarkable. But when you use the term great, it's a comparative term. It signifies that there are others around who are not so great.

Like the man who went to the psychiatrist and said, Doctor, I have an inferiority complex. And the doctor said, let me run some tests. He ran several tests, got back to him. He goes, you know, I've done all the work up on you, and you're wrong. You don't have an inferiority complex, you really are inferior.

What you pick up from Daniel's prayer is God, we really are inferior, You are great. We have failed, You are righteous.

Then there's the word awesome. You want to know what that really means? Dreadful. It's even translated terrible in some translations, like the old King James.

The Hebrew word is yirah, it means to fear. We speak about the fear of God. It's that same word. It speaks about a reverential fear, however.

In Leviticus when children are told to honor, respect, or revere their parents, it's this word that is used. So in that title great and awesome God, he is saying You are magnificent. You are highly important. You are mighty, and You are to be honorably revered. You are to be held in respected awe.

Can you see why I dislike when people call me Reverend? Because that's the word it's based on. And it's a typical thing. People go, oh, hello, Reverend. I recoil.

First of all, the term Reverend Skip-- I mean, it sounds-- right? How do you revere a guy named Skip?

But I've always recoiled at it because that's a designation for God. He is awesome, He is great. So God is great, God is awesome. That's part of His character.

But let's look at this other set of character traits. God is merciful and He has forgiveness. God is great and awesome, but with God is mercy and forgiveness. Now, those last two traits are very good to have when you're great and awesome. It's one thing to be great and awesome, it's another thing to be great and awesome and yet have mercy and forgiveness to those who have failed, to those who aren't up to par, to those who feel bowed down.

Dwight Pentecost used to say, mercy is God's a ministry to the miserable, thus it is so practical. Because here's Daniel and thousands of others like him who have been stuck in the chains of captivity for 70 years because of their failure, because of their sin. And Daniel confesses as much. Lord, we have failed, we have sinned, we have been disobedient. But that failure meets God's forgiveness.

When my failure meets God's forgiveness there is joy, there's confidence, there's assurance. When my sin meets God's sympathy, there is joy, and there's confidence, and there's assurance. God can do anything and God can forgive anyone. And when I examine the scripture, and when I examine God's character, I walk away and I say, it's going to be OK.

It's going to be OK because God specializes in forgiving people. God specializes in setting captives free. God is attracted to weakness.

Think about that for a moment, God is attracted to weakness. You feel weak? God's strength is attracted to that. Opposites attract.

The Bible actually says that. It says God has chosen the foolish things of this world. God has chosen the weak things of this world. The word weak means powerless.

Do you feel weak, do you feel powerless? Good, you're a good match for God's strength.

People will say, I feel so weak and so fragile. Great! God is strong.

I'm such a loser! Great, God's such a winner. It's a perfect match.

You say, I'm so not awesome. That's true, but God is awesome. It's a perfect match, and he loves to show mercy and forgiveness.

You remember the woman who was caught in adultery, and they brought her to Jesus, and all the religious leaders took up stones to stone her? And Jesus said hey, let the one who is without sin among you be the first one to throw that rock. They dropped their stones and walked off. The only one in that crowd qualified to pick up a stone and throw it first was Jesus and he didn't. Great, awesome, mercy, forgiveness.

So those two things brought assurance to Daniel, because of the scripture and because of God's character. Let me give you a third in closing, because of things former. Because of the scripture, because of God's character, and because of things former.

Look at verse 15, go all the way down. Verse 15, "And now, O Lord our God, who brought Your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and made Yourself a name, as it is this day-- we have sinned, we have done wickedly!"

Do you see what he's doing in this prayer? He's recalling a previous captivity. Not the captivity of Babylon that he's in, but he's going way back in their history when they were in Egypt under pharaoh and Moses was used by God to deliver them out.

So he's going all the way back and making a reference to that, why? Because it's a historic precedent for Daniel, like a legal precedent. He's showing that this is happened before, God delivered the children of Israel once before, and based upon that, God can do it again. It happened in a former times, it can happen in this time.

So it's been predicted in the scripture. God is powerful, great and awesome and forgiving and merciful, and there is a precedent that has been set historically. You see it's important when you feel weary and ready to give up, that you stop and you ask, is there any case what I'm going through happening in the Bible where God acted? And if so, can I find that as a pattern of God in history?

If you can discover a pattern that God has done it before, it will fortify your assurance that God will do it again. This is exactly what Peter does when he writes second Peter. Peter noted that God did certain things in the past. He delivered Noah, he delivered Lot. And then Peter said, then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation and reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment.

You see that? This has happened before. God did this in the past. God can do it and will do it in the present.

This is why history always has to be viewed through the lens of God. If you don't view history through the lens of God, you are not seeing your past correctly. But when you view history through the lens of God, then you are forced to make the conclusion that the word history is really two words. It is His story.

History is His story. It is God's story. It is God superimposing His providence and His sovereignty through the affairs of mankind, and so is my history and my future. So because of scripture, because of God's character, and because of things former, those elements were what gave him assurance and confidence that there was a future for him.

How great and how awesome is your God? Pretty great, pretty awesome. He's great enough to superintendent the writing of a book that predicts these events. He is great enough to demand awe and respect, and yet extend mercy and forgiveness. He is great enough to deliver His people throughout history they gave them a future and a hope.

So this is Daniel's prayer. And I thought it would be fitting, I found someone else's prayer that I would close with. It might capture how you've been feeling.

Dear Lord, today I thought of the words of Vincent van Gogh who said, it's true there's an ebb and flow but the sea remains the sea. You, oh God, are the sea. All though I experience many ups and downs in my emotions, and I often feel great shifts and changes in my inner life, you remain the same.

Your sameness is not the sameness of a rock, but the sameness of a faithful lover. I am sustained and to your love I am always called back. My only real temptation is to doubt in your love, or to think of myself as beyond the reach of your love, or to remove myself from the healing radiance of your love. To do these things is to move into the darkness of despair.

Oh Lord, sea of love and goodness, let me not fear too much the storms and winds of my daily life. Let me know that there is an ebb and flow, but that the sea remains the sea. Amen.

Lord, in your word, Jesus is revealed as the same yesterday, today, and forever. Like the sea, You remain the same. Our lives, they go up and down, they go in and out, they ebb and they flow.

Daniel's life and the life of those captives, though it seemed it so long, they weren't far from deliverance. They weren't far from revival. They weren't far from returning back to Jerusalem under the hands of Nehemiah and Ezra and Zerubbabel and rebuild what You promise them they would occupy again.

I pray, Lord, that we would take heart. Whatever circumstance we find ourselves in today, that we would have confidence, assurance, even joy because of the scripture, because of Your character, and because of things former. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Let's all stand. So I think we can say confidently in closing, God is awesome and that works.

Daniel fully trusted God and leaned on him in difficult times. We can do the same, running into the arms of our Heavenly Father. You can give financially to this work at calvaryabq.org/giving. And you just a reminder, Battledrums' album, "The War is Over" is available on iTunes, Google Play, and at battledrumsmusic.com.

Thank you for listening to this message from Skip Heitzig of Calvary Albuquerque.


Additional Messages in this Series

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7/12/2015
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The Light Has Come
John 1:1-9
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
Music is an integral part of the human experience and expresses our deepest feelings, fears, and hopes. Worship music in particular conveys our dependence on God and celebration of Him. Our worship team has written fresh expressions of praise in their brand-new project, The War Is Over. This summer, we will consider the biblical themes from which these songs are drawn. "The Light Has Come" is a song that celebrates one of the great themes of John’s gospel—God’s life that enlightens us has come in the person of Jesus Christ.
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7/19/2015
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Rend the Heavens
Isaiah 64
Skip Heitzig
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The song "Rend the Heavens," written by our worship team, echoes words first uttered and written by the prophet Isaiah. His heartfelt cry for his people was that they would experience the presence of God in the most profound way. It is our prayer that we would all do the same. As we examine Isaiah's plea, we'll see how it has been answered and yet awaits a further and fuller answer. His prayer shows us three incentives in our relationship to God.
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7/26/2015
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Our God Will Fight for Us
Nehemiah 4
Skip Heitzig
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Nothing is more comforting in war than knowing you’re on the winning side. When you face a hostile enemy with the knowledge that your cause is just, your resources are many, and your companions are brave, you’re ready for anything. And when you have a Commanding Officer who has never lost a battle, your confidence level is at an all-time high. Our worship team wrote the song “Our God Will Fight for Us” with these thoughts in mind. Let’s consider a fourfold strategy for facing the battles in our lives.
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8/2/2015
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Now I Live
Romans 5-6
Skip Heitzig
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Our worship team has managed to put the most salient truths of the Christian experience into this single song. Every step detailed in this section of Paul’s letter to the Romans is expressed in condensed form in this new anthem of praise. Today we will walk through the four essential steps of spiritual growth and examine where we are in relationship to them. Some may still be on the first step, while others have camped on the second and third. The challenge from Paul’s message is to press forward to that fourth step of triumph.
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8/9/2015
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The Valley
Psalm 23
Skip Heitzig
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Everyone knows pain and suffering to some degree. It’s guaranteed for all. As Job said, "Man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward" (Job 5:7). He meant that hardship is as predictable as flames and flickers rising when a fire is lit. King David poetically referred to such adversity as walking down into a valley. Though everyone suffers, not all suffer well. Today we rediscover why the valleys are necessary and how they can even be rewarding.
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8/23/2015
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Let His Love In
1 John 3:1-3
Skip Heitzig
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The heart is like a strong fortress that doesn’t easily admit outside forces in, even if God Himself is the One who is knocking at the door. I’ve found that even Christians can have a difficult time believing that God really loves them, and few experience that love regularly. Our Battledrums worship team has composed a song with this in mind, inviting you to let His love in. Our text in 1 John is a survey of this incomparable love of God, and will help you open your heart to it.
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8/30/2015
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All to You
Matthew 11:1-11
Nate Heitzig
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In times of difficulty, we tend to ask God, "Why am I going through this? Is this really Your will for my life?" We expect God to solve all our problems, when really He wants to use the problems to work on us. In this message, Nate Heitzig explains that though external difficulties can lead to internal doubts, God refocuses us by giving us eternal direction.
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9/6/2015
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By Your Stripes
Isaiah 53:4-6
Skip Heitzig
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Today I bring you "Christianity 101." These verses in Isaiah not only capture the heart of our worship team’s song, but they present the very heart of the gospel itself. These three monumental truths are the cornerstones of the Christian faith and show our need for Jesus Christ. Though the passage itself highlights many profound aspects of the person and work of Christ, I want to keep it simple and confine it to three. Let’s discover the love of God afresh.
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9/20/2015
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Victory (The War Is Over)
1 Corinthians 15:50-58
Skip Heitzig
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Victory is a decidedly Christian term. It is used in our spiritual vocabulary almost without effort or thought. We frequently celebrate that Jesus went to the cross and volunteered His life to be the payment for sin in order to justify us before God. But this is more than a simple concept. In this final message explaining the scriptural foundations of our new worship project, we now turn to the future when we will become winners over the last enemy of life—death itself.
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There are 9 additional messages in this series.
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