Sermons by Bernard Bell

Sermons by Bernard Bell

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Dan 12 As we emerge from the Omicron wave of Covid and mark two years since PBCC closed its campus at the beginning of the pandemic, the light at the end of the tunnel looms large. But for Russia’s war in Ukraine there is as yet no light at the end of the tunnel; the train is still heading further into the darkness. Daniel asked how long it would be till the end of the time of distress. He is given different answers: a time, times and half a time; 1290 days; and 1335 days. How far away is the light and what does the light bring?

Faithful Resistance

Dan 11 The world admires the courageous resistance of the Ukrainian people and President Zelensky in the face of the brutal Russian invasion. Is it possible to mount an effective resistance without sinking to the same brutality as the invader? Both Daniel and Revelation are resistance literature, written to encourage God’s people to resist evil while remaining faithful to him. Daniel 11 portrays human empire sweeping over God’s faithful people. How do they resist?

Behind the Scenes

Dan 10 Russia has made a move on Ukraine. In Daniel’s day it was the Persian Empire that was expanding its territory, only to later be overrun by the Greek empire of Alexander the Great. There was more going on than a sequence of empires. Daniel is told that world events of his day reflected a cosmic conflict behind the scenes. We go behind the curtain to consider these extraterrestrial realities.

How Long?

Dan 9 “How long, Lord?” asked the Psalmist. “How long?” we ask also. How much longer will the pandemic continue? Is the end really in sight this time? When Babylon fell to the Persians, Daniel sensed that the end of Jerusalem’s desolation was nigh. He read in Jeremiah that it would last 70 years, and he had already been in Babylon for 66 years. The time was nearly up. So, in one of the great prayers of the Old Testament, Daniel prayed for God’s mercy. But he was told that the problem was much worse than he thought. It would take seventy sevens—the (in)famous Seventy Weeks of Daniel 9.

Darkness Before Dawn

Dan 8 The darkest and coldest time of night is just before dawn. Venus is now visible in the pre-dawn sky shining far more brilliantly than any star. But the sun arises, Venus disappears, and the day becomes bright and warm—although we do want some rain. Daniel’s second vision is of a ram and a goat each with multiple horns. He is told that it concerns the time of the end. Towards the end it gets very dark indeed for God’s people. In such darkness it is hard to believe the Reformation motto: post tenebras lux, “after darkness, light.” No wonder Daniel is appalled by the vision.

The Lion and the Lamb 

Dan 7:15-28 Happy New Year—Lunar New Year. We are now in the Year of the Tiger. There are no tigers in Daniel, but there are ferocious wild beasts: a lion, a bear, a leopard, and a fourth beast beyond comparison, all representing oppressive empires. We return to the Book of Daniel midway through chapter 7. Daniel wants to know the meaning of the fourth beast, the ten horns, and the little horns. He is in good company: very many people have wanted to know the meaning of these. Join us Sunday as we try to make sense of them.

A New Shoot from a Dead Tree

Matthew 1-2 The four Sundays of Advent begin the church’s annual liturgical calendar. It is a season of longing and hope. We look back and remember Israel’s hope that God would come to save his people. We look forward in our own hope that Jesus will come again. During these four Sundays we will look at how the four gospels begin their story of Jesus in very different ways, beginning this Sunday with Matthew. Can the way Matthew tells the story of Jesus help us make sense of our own story?

Two Kingdoms

Dan 7 Nebuchadnezzar had a dream of a 4-part statue, which Daniel interpreted for him as four kingdoms (Daniel 2). In its counterpart chapter (7), Daniel has a dream of four beasts which are interpreted as four kings. He also sees one like a son of man receive eternal dominion from the Ancient of Days. What are these kings and kingdoms? What is the relationship between the beastly empires and the human kingdom? Can they coexist?

Dare to Stand Alone

Dan 6 A large empire requires a large imperial bureaucracy. Daniel flourished in this system and rose to the very top because of his excellence. But both King Darius and Daniel get caught in a bureaucratic nightmare, trapped by a law which cannot be repealed. By this law Daniel must be fed to the king’s hungry lions even though he is the king’s loyal subject. We all know the outcome because the story of Daniel in the Lions’ Den is one of the best-known in the Bible. But why is this story in the Book of Daniel? Can we put ourselves back in the story and feel the tension as Daniel dared to stand alone against the king and his officials? Please read Daniel 6 in preparation for Sunday.

The Moving Finger Writes

Dan 5 After four chapters about Nebuchadnezzar the Great, the first Babylonian king of the Jewish exile, Daniel moves on to Belshazzar, the last king. As the king was enjoying a great feast, disembodied fingers wrote a message on the wall. One person’s graffiti is another’s art, as shown by the world-famous graffiti artist, Banksy. In this case, God’s graffiti is a prophetic message to the king: your days are numbered; you’ve been weighed in the balance and found wanting. These are now common sayings. Why was the writing on the wall for Belshazzar?

Heaven Rules

Dan 4 Nebuchadnezzar, King of the Universe, was the greatest king of his time. He was a warrior who conquered all rivals, and a builder who made Babylon great. But he needed to learn an important truth: he might be ruler on earth, but Heaven rules. The proud king was humbled until he learnt this. God has appointed as the true King of kings one who humbled himself to begin with. The Lion that conquered is the Lamb that was slain.

Dare to Have a Purpose True

Dan 3 “If” is a powerful word. It is used a lot in computer code. It is the title of a famous poem by Rudyard Kipling. It is a word that can arouse possibilities or longings or fear. At the heart of Daniel 3 lie two sets of “if…if not” clauses, one posed by Nebuchadnezzar, the other in the reply of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. In the face of “if…if not” and the threat of the fiery furnace, the three Jewish friends dared to have a purpose true.