At times it seems that we live in a world that is out of control. Our own personal lives can feel a bit unmanageable as well. How can we take courage even when the wicked seem to prevail? Can we have hope even when our personal life seems overwhelming? This study from the book of Daniel will give a powerful spiritual perspective as “The Most High Rules”.
[Steve Myers] Good evening everyone, you may not have realized, Bible study started at 7:15 tonight, instead of 7:00. I'd like to welcome you here with us, we had some technical difficulties as we were getting things started tonight. So hopefully, you're still here with us, welcome to those of you who are in the room as well. It's time for our Bible study if you'll bow your heads we're going to ask God's blessing on our study tonight.
Great loving heavenly Father, God Almighty we are so thankful for Your truth, and Your love, and Your way. Thank You, Father, for Your Word, we are so thrilled with the opportunity tonight, to delve into Your Word, to read those inspired passages that You've given to us Father. We just pray that you'd open our minds to Your truth, help us gain a deeper understanding of Your Word, and realize how we can take them to heart in our life as well. So, Father, we thank You, we praise You, we ask for Your presence and blessing now, and we ask all of this now, in and by and through the authority of our Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.
Well, as you know, we are continuing our series in lessons in Daniel, so when we are in the book of Daniel, it takes us to really a fantastic time period in history. Babylon was the world ruling empire of the day. Of course, if you remember your history at all, Babylon had conquered Judah and taken them off into captivity. Daniel was one of those young men who was taken off as a slave. Of course, we know some of the others that were along with him, those guys that got thrown into the fire with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They were also some of those talented young men who were taken off into slavery at the time, by this amazing powerful nation of Babylon.
Of course, the king at the time was Nebuchadnezzar, he was kind of an interesting man. Certainly a ruthless ruler, he was a man of extreme authority, he was strict, he had absolutely no equal and he knew it, he knew it. And as we read through some of the passages that we'll note tonight, we'll see some of those character traits come through in his approach and his attitude as he deals with Daniel, and he deals with his advisers, and as he deals with God as well.
So here we are in the book of Daniel, we're going to pick up the story of Nebuchadnezzar in chapter 4. So if you want to make your way over to Daniel 4, we're going to talk a little bit about Nebuchadnezzar and a dream that he has. Now, as a little bit of background, Nebuchadnezzar is kind of interesting as well, that's an odd name, you don't hear too many babies today called Nebuchadnezzar, do you? Little Nebby, you generally don't hear that too much these days.
Literally, his name means, “O god Nebu, protect my son.” His father named him that, asking this pagan god to watch over his son, who would eventually become ruler of Babylon. Some even say variations of his name means “Nebu's favorite.” So if you can imagine the perspective of a young man growing up, feeling protected, favored by this great pagan deity. That's a whole different perspective than one who understands the true God.
And so imagine that frame of mind that he had, that “I am the favorite of the gods, here I am, god's gift to the world.” But we’ll see it was the wrong god that he was looking to. And so when you imagine this scenario of this great world-ruling king, comes to a point in his life he can't really sleep well. He's had dreams that have been bothering him.
And by the time we get to chapter 4 we have a second dream, this is the second in the series, I guess you can say when he had trouble sleeping. He couldn't get things off his mind, and the thoughts of this recent dream that he had, were just tormenting him. And in a way, I think he was worried, he was a little worried about what in the world does this mean? And so when you look to chapter 4, let's read a little bit about this dream that Nebuchadnezzar had.
Verse 4 of chapter 4, Nebuchadnezzar says, “I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at rest in my house, flourishing in my palace." And he says, "I saw a dream which made me afraid,” now that would have taken a lot, wouldn't it? “I'm the king, I'm the ruler, I'm the one in charge!” And yet here he is. Sounds like he's shaking in his boots a little bit. He says, "the thoughts on my bed and the visions of my head troubled me. Therefore I issued a decree to bring in all the wise men of Babylon before me, that they might make known to me the interpretation of the dream."
Of course we know how harsh Nebuchadnezzar was in that first dream he had, he said, "I'm not telling you my dream, you tell me the dream." That's pretty harsh. This guy was in charge, so now I'm going to call all these interpreters, these astrologers, his soothsayers, and have them tell him. So verse 7, "The magicians, the astrologers, the Chaldeans, the soothsayers came in, and I told them the dream." Nebuchadnezzar says, "but they did not make known to me its interpretation." They couldn't explain it.
Of course, it comes back to Nebuchadnezzar, “Oh yeah, there's that Daniel, he knew what that first dream was all about, his God revealed that to him, let me call Daniel.” "So Daniel came before me," verse 8, “(his name Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god; in him is the Spirit of the Holy God), and I told the dream before him, saying." So Nebuchadnezzar tells Daniel the dream, "Belteshazzar," that's Daniel "chief of the magicians, because I know that the Spirit of the Holy God is in you, no secret troubles you, explain to me the visions of my dream that I've seen and its interpretation."
So he begins to explain this dream, Daniel helped him with the frightening one earlier of this gigantic statue, and now he thinks Daniel with God's help, can interpret this dream. So he says in verse 10, here it is, "I was looking, and behold, a tree in the midst of the earth, and its height was great. The tree grew and became strong; its height reached to the heavens, and it could be seen to the ends of all the earth. Its leaves were lovely, its fruit abundant, and in it was food for all. The beasts of the field found shade under it, the birds of the heavens dwelt in its branches, and all flesh was fed from it. I saw in the visions of my head while on my bed, and there was a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven."
So in the beginning of this dream, he sees this gigantic tree that seems to provide everything anything would need, whether it's birds, whether it's people, whether it's animals, fruit, whatever, and amazingly, beneficial to everything. And yet we find that there's someone, something coming down, it says “a watcher” in verse 13, "Coming down from heaven and cries out." Well, who is this watcher that's going to pronounce something upon this tree?
If we take a sneak peek, verse 14, this watcher says, "Chop down the tree and cut off its branches." So who is this? What is this? Well, we see this name watcher come up a couple of times, it's in verse 17 as well, where it talks about the watchers, who is watching over Nebuchadnezzar? You see it's giving this impression they're there to be on the watch. Of course, when we put this together with other passages in the Bible, it becomes a little bit clearer.
If you hold your place here in Daniel 4, go over to Psalms 103:20 Psalms 103:20Bless the LORD, you his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening to the voice of his word.
American King James Version×, just as a little side point as we get started to kind of narrow down who is this speaking of when it speaks of “the watchers.” Well, Psalm 103, gives us a little bit of insight into who this being can be, these beings, multiple beings mentioned later, watchers, who they can be.
Psalms 103:20 Psalms 103:20Bless the LORD, you his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening to the voice of his word.
American King James Version×, gives us a little bit of insight, it says, "Bless the Lord, you His angels, who excel in strength, who do His word, heeding the voice of His word." So here we see angels are servants who do the will of God, they are heavenly hosts, angelic beings that are watching on God's behalf. And in fact, as you consider this very thing, they watch over people. Stay in the Psalms for just a moment and go back to Psalm 34, we'll see a little bit of information added to this, so we can get a little bit better handle on these watchers.
Psalms 34:7 Psalms 34:7The angel of the LORD encamps round about them that fear him, and delivers them.
American King James Version×, notice verse 7, it says, "The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them." So the angel watches or encamps around people. So if they're around, did you think they're watching? Do you think they're noticing what's going on? Absolutely, in fact, in the New Testament, there's a familiar passage in Hebrews 1, if you’d like to quickly turn over to Hebrews 1:14 Hebrews 1:14Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?
American King James Version×, describes what angels do, part of their job description, I guess you could say. Is fulfilled in these responsibilities, where they watch over humanity, they watch over individuals.
So in Hebrews 1, notice how it describes angels in verse 14, Hebrews 1:14 Hebrews 1:14Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?
American King James Version×. It says, "Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?” Of course, people, human beings inherit salvation and they serve them, they minister on God's behalf. And of course, that means they watch, they oftentimes bring messages from God, they do things on God's behalf.
And so here when we go back to Nebuchadnezzar and his dream, as he describes these watchers, notice what they do, notice what they do. We get down to verse 14, where we left off in Daniel 4, we see that these watchers “cried aloud” and gave this message. They were ministering, I guess you could say in a sense, to Nebuchadnezzar serving on God's behalf, ever on the watch to execute God's will.
So they bring this message which was advice, I guess you could say, that was brought by the watchers, the angels. They weren't the author of this decree, but they certainly approved of it. And they were ready to execute it on God's behalf.
And so what do they say, "Chop down the tree and cut off its branches, strip off its leaves, scatter its fruit. Let the beasts get out from under it, and the birds from its branches. Nevertheless leave the stump and the roots in the earth, bound with a band of iron and bronze, in the tender grass of the field. Let it be wet with the dew of heaven, let him graze with the beasts on the grass of the earth. Let his heart be changed from that of a man, let him be given the heart of a beast, and let seven times pass over him."
“This decision is by the decree of the watchers,” okay, they brought this decree it's not their decree, it's with their approval on behalf of God, but they're ready to act on God's behalf. In the sentence, it says, "By the word of the Holy ones in order that the living may know." And so here we see they bring this message, what's going to happen to this tree, it's going to be chopped down, it's going to be totally in ruins in that sense.
And we see the purpose for Nebuchadnezzar's dream, what was the purpose for what was going to happen? What was this symbolic of? Well, we see the purpose in verse 17, the purpose, middle of verse 17. "In order that the living may know that the Most High God rules in the kingdoms of men," or some translation say, “in the affairs of men,” or “the kingdom of men,” “the Most High God rules."
And it's not just for Nebuchadnezzar to understand that, but as we see that the living, that everyone may know, everyone may know that the Most High God rules. And it was critical that Nebuchadnezzar understand it, he had to come to understand that. And what we find then, it's pointing to the fact that God is supreme, God is over all. Nebuchadnezzar had to learn that very fact that He is sovereign, that He's at the top, He's superior, He is the ultimate, He is unlimited, He is all knowing, and He is above all. And Nebuchadnezzar had to learn that.
In fact, this dream and its fulfillment was going to be a record for everyone to recognize God's greatness, that He controls everything, He controls everything, so let's think about that for just a moment. Nebuchadnezzar was to learn that God is sovereign. God is sovereign, He is the highest, He is the greatest there is, He controls everything, He is absolute. There is nothing that falls short in God, He does whatever He pleases, anything He pleases, He is eternal, He is self-existent, He is, He's self-sufficient, all-powerful, all-knowing, above everything. And Nebuchadnezzar was to know that.
In fact, Daniel gives a little bit of an indication of that recognition even in interpreting this dream. Let's notice how Nebuchadnezzar has to come to understand the sovereignty of God, look at verse 19. Verse 19, it goes on, and it reminds us of what he needs to learn. Daniel speaks “whose name was Belteshazzar, he was astonished for a time, his thoughts troubled him. So the king spoke, and said, ‘Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its interpretation trouble you.' So he answered and said, 'My lord, may the dream concern those who hate you, and its interpretation concern your enemies.'"
Well, that was not to be the case, but we'll see exactly what God inspired Daniel to interpret. Verse 20, "The tree you saw, which grew and became strong, whose height reached the heavens and which could be seen by all the earth, whose leaves were lovely and its fruit abundant, with food for all, under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and in whose branches the birds of the heaven had their home." Verse 22, "It is you, O king."
So the tree is Nebuchadnezzar himself, mighty Babylon did all of these very things that it was an abundant Kingdom, it was a powerful Kingdom. Verse 22, "You're the one, O king," it says, "your greatness has grown and reaches the heavens, and your dominion to the end of the earth." So now we know who we're talking about here, when we talk about this great tree. Verse 23, "Inasmuch as the king saw a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven and saying, ‘Chop down the tree and destroy it.’" Doesn't bode well for Nebuchadnezzar, does it?
“'But leave its stump and roots in the earth, bound with a band of iron and bronze in the tender grass of the fields; let it be wet with the dew of heaven, let him gaze with the beasts of the field, till seven times pass over him’; this is an interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king."
And so what we find, Nebuchadnezzar is going to be chopped down, it's a prophetic vision that he's having, that this will happen to him. And seven times are going to pass over, seven years he's going to be chopped down and banded up, until, what happens? Well, until verse 17 can take place, "In order that the living may know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men."
Well, wait a second, I'm great Nebuchadnezzar, I rule, don't I? I'm in charge, I've built all… I've done all these great things, I'm supreme. Wait a second, I'm the head of gold, right? But Daniel tells him the interpretation and what ultimately will happen. In fact, in verse 24, we see this indication, yes, he calls Nebuchadnezzar by what title? Well, he calls him “the king,” the king, he says, "O king, this is the decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king." My lord the king.
Now, that's kind of an interesting word when you look it up. These words right in this section of Scripture, maybe in your Bible, you notice these are offset, it's mostly Aramaic. And he uses the Aramaic here, mare' for king, which means “my master.” It doesn't mean the highly exalted one in that sense. Okay, I'm your slave you're my master, okay, it's pointing to that. But the interesting part he says “the Most High, it's the decree of the Most High.” Now that Aramaic word is a different word than the king, it's the word Eli in Aramaic.
And that means “sovereign,” that means “supreme.” That means, yeah, nothing can get higher than the… He is the Most High. And so we see that interesting connection between the difference between Most High and king. And Daniel uses that, and I think it's something you don't want to just let slip by because he's also making the point of the interpretation of the dream, as he says these very things.
Isaiah 44:6 Isaiah 44:6Thus said the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.
American King James Version×, just write that one down. It reminds us, “There is no God besides Me.” That's what God tells us, “There is no God besides… don't tell me about Nebu, because that's nothing. You favorite son of this pagan deity, that is nothing, there's no God besides Me.” Isaiah was inspired to record that.
In fact, hold your place here in Daniel go over to 1 Timothy 6. In 1 Timothy 6 the same concept is throughout the New Testament as well. We'll just look at one example here in 1 Timothy 6:15 1 Timothy 6:15Which in his times he shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;
American King James Version×. Right at the end of the letter that Paul wrote to Timothy, in chapter 6, he says something interesting in verse 15 where he talks about God manifesting Himself in His own time.
Notice how he describes this, "He who is blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords…” the only Potentate. Potentate is kind of a synonym for sovereign, the only sovereign, the only sovereign. So here we see this same concept throughout Scripture, that God is eternal, He is self-existent, He is the only true God, and He can do as He pleases. He is sovereign and controls everything. Nebuchadnezzar is not the absolute ruler, God is the absolute ruler.
And so when you consider these passages it should help us to recognize, God can do what He wants, God can do whatever He pleases, that He is in charge, and that's all there is to it. And so does it convince us that that's the facts? Are we convinced of that very fact, does God have then the right to rule? Does He have that right to do whatever He wants? Yeah, no doubt, no doubt about that.
Since we're here in the New Testament, go over to the book of Colossians for a moment, Colossians 1 look at verse 16. Colossians 1:16 Colossians 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
American King James Version×, we'll see an interesting connection as we consider this concept of God having all power and doing as He pleases, God in control. We'll see how this plays out so critically and is recorded for us in Colossians 1, notice verse 16.
It says, "For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him."
Is God in control? Nebuchadnezzar in control? Does God take credit for making everything? Is He in power? Does He control and sustain everything by His power? There's no doubt about it. There's no doubt about it. And all living have to come to understand that lesson, Nebuchadnezzar had to understand that lesson.
If you look back to the Proverbs, Proverbs 16, gives us a little bit different perspective on the same concept. Notice Proverbs 16:4 Proverbs 16:4The LORD has made all things for himself: yes, even the wicked for the day of evil.
American King James Version×, what a great reminder of God's supremacy. Proverbs 16:4 Proverbs 16:4The LORD has made all things for himself: yes, even the wicked for the day of evil.
American King James Version×, it says, "The Lord has made all for Himself, yes, even the wicked for the day of doom."
You see there is no doubt God is in charge, He's in control, even those difficult things. I mean, it's almost shocking when you read this, even the wicked are reserved for the day of doom. And who's in charge of that? God is, God is. Now, He didn't cause them to be bad people, He didn't make them do evil things, you know, they chose to do evil on their own. Yet, here's the interesting part, He can use these situations for His own purposes. He can use these events to bring honor and glory to Himself, and ultimately, His eternal purpose will be fulfilled.
And so He's teaching this lesson to remind us of that very fact, He can do this without manipulating people, without forcing them to do things. He can work in and through events and circumstances and people to fulfill His will. Even in the Chronicles, it reminds us, 1 Chronicles 29:11 1 Chronicles 29:11Yours, O LORD is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is yours; your is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all.
American King James Version×, that everything in heaven and earth is God's, everything, everything.
So since God made everything, He created everything, He is over everything, does He have the right to rule everything? You see, I think these passages certainly bring that out, don't they? God has the right to rule, God has that right to rule. And what Nebuchadnezzar learned was life-altering, the fulfillment of this dream changed his perspective. Now, for how long is up for debate, but it was a life-altering experience, because as we see here, God does rule, and He has that right.
Since we're right near the Psalms, let's just turn over to Psalm 103, because as a reminder it drives this point home even more fully. Notice Psalms 103:19 Psalms 103:19The LORD has prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom rules over all.
American King James Version×, Psalms 103:19 Psalms 103:19The LORD has prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom rules over all.
American King James Version×, notice who's in charge once again. Verse 19 Psalms 103, "The Lord has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom" this isn't just a heavenly kingdom, it says it “rules over all."
And Nebuchadnezzar was to come to understand that very fact. All inhabitants of the earth have to come to understand this fact. There is nothing that is outside of the realm and scope of God's sovereignty, of His supremacy, nothing escapes, absolutely nothing. Now when you think about that in our terms, for us, for us, now we recognize this fact, don't we? Especially when things are going great, especially when it's good, “Yes, of course, God's in control! He's in charge!”
But what about when things don't go so great, what about the times when He allows something to happen in our life that we don't like? Do we have a tendency then to question His rule? We get upset with God, do we blame God for circumstances in our life? Do we hold Him responsible in that sense in a wrong kind of way? You see, that's part of the challenges here if God can do whatever He wants whenever He wants, why does he allow us to suffer? Why does He allow pain? How am I supposed to find peace and security?
Well, as we come to more deeply understand the sovereignty of God, it really means if I understand God, and His rule and His reign, it can bring me, and will bring me a sense of peace, knowing He is in charge. Now when God shows us that as the Most High He rules everything, there's no doubt that He loves us because we are His creation. And throughout Scripture, we can read over, and over, and over again how much He loves us.
We know the famous passage in the New Testament that, "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever should believe in Him should not perish but have eternal life." So when we consider that God loves us so much He gave His Son, on our behalf, to pay the penalty of sin, and He rules, and He's in charge.
And when you read the descriptions of the kind of God that we have, I mean, the synonyms are just kind of endless. Scripture talks about, "Our awesome God, our Most High God is awesome," that's in Psalms 47:2 Psalms 47:2For the LORD most high is terrible; he is a great King over all the earth.
American King James Version×. It reminds us of that. It also reminds us that whatever the circumstances, whether difficult ones that God allows, trials and temptations, difficulties, illness, whatever it may be, it doesn't change the fact that God is for us.
There's a passage in Romans, if you like to turn over to Romans 8, that is also a reminder of this. Romans 8, notice verse 28, even when things are difficult, it doesn't change the fact of who's in charge. Romans 8:28 Romans 8:28And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
American King James Version×, you're familiar with this particular passage I'm sure. It says, "We know all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."
And of course, we may be in the midst of just a horrible circumstance, and when we read this we say, “Well, how in the world can this work out for good? This doesn't seem possible God.” But wait a second, is He in charge, is He in control, does He rule over everything… has He promised… has He made this promise to us? That's what it says. In fact, he even says a little bit farther down here when we look to verse 31. "What shall we say to these things, if God is for us, who can be against us?"
You see that's the facts, he says “God is in charge…” but what about that being that's the prince of the power of the air, you know, he's out to get us, why does God allow that? If He loves us, if He's on our side, He seems like He's against us. Yet what we see here, it's a matter of timing.
Yeah, there may be a prince that's roaming this earth, we know who the King of the jungle is. You see and that's the difference, we know who is sovereign, we know who is Lord. And He has promised all things will work together for good, when we love God. And so we can say every circumstance, every situation, every single event, God is in control of, He is in charge of, and He claims responsibility.
He has the right to rule, and whether or not we like the situation, it has nothing to do with it. Whether we're upset, whether we're hurt, whether we're going through a horrible trial, that's all beside the point. These are God's promises, and that is who He is. And so we have to keep that in mind, that God is in control.
God's in control, He's in charge, and He's in control of everything. So when we think of God's sovereignty, His rulership, it means that He either directly causes things to happen, or consciously, knowingly, permits everything to happen. And that includes everything, anything, everything that's happened in human history, God has caused it, brought it about, or allowed it. It's the only options there are when we recognize God's sovereignty.
There's nothing that escapes Him, nothing that surprises Him, He's in charge, He's in control. A fantastic passage here in the book of Ephesians, turn over just a couple of pages, as we recognize this very fact, that if we understand God's sovereignty it just means He's directly involved in all of these things, and He knows what's going on.
So we looked at the beginning of the book of Ephesians, Ephesians 1:11 Ephesians 1:11In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who works all things after the counsel of his own will:
American King James Version×, he talks about the promises that God gives us. And notice the frame that Paul puts around this as he writes to Ephesus. He says, "In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him…” Okay, so God's got a purpose in mind, you know, those who are God's people have the opportunity for eternal life in the Kingdom.
That eternal life, is certainly what God intends for those who choose His way, but notice what it's all according to. It says, “…according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will." Doesn't work some things, doesn't let some things get by Him, but it says, "Works all things after the counsel of His will." So no wonder He could say that even there's a day of doom that works according to His will.
Even like Isaiah says, that there's calamity that God is responsible for in that sense, that He has allowed adversity, He's allowed calamity. Isaiah 45:7 Isaiah 45:7I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.
American King James Version×, talks about that very fact, and so when we look at it in this sense, maybe some of these lessons that Nebuchadnezzar had to learn, are lessons we need to learn as well. When you consider my problems, you know, why in the world did… God, you knew I was in a hurry and you let me have a flat tire. Did that escape God? He didn't know that was going to happen, He didn't...? No, He knew it, He understood it, yeah, just a dumb, little problem.
But then there's some of those big problems too. God, you knew I had this illness, you knew I… why wasn't this diagnosed earlier, how did this come about? You know, those are big deals, does God purposely allow those things? Well, if God's in charge He knows it, He's allowed those things to happen, He's brought about certain things through different events. Sometimes He just lets events take their normal course, yeah, that's very true.
But no doubt when we recognize that God has the right to rule, He understands all of… The fact is, He is in charge of every single circumstance in our lives, He's in control, He's in control. Beautiful passage over in the book of Lamentations, it's kind of a hard one to find, so I put a little marker in my Bible so I could find it a little quicker.
Lamentations 3:37 Lamentations 3:37Who is he that said, and it comes to pass, when the Lord commands it not?
American King James Version×, if you get before the book of Ezekiel and if you go too far you'll be in Jeremiah, so don't go too far, you'll find the book of Lamentations. And this particular passage just bears this fact that God knows, and He is in charge of every circumstances… every circumstance, every event in our life. Lamentations 3:37 Lamentations 3:37Who is he that said, and it comes to pass, when the Lord commands it not?
American King James Version×, notice what is inspired here, it says, "Who is he who speaks and it comes to pass, when the Lord has not commanded it?"
Okay, he's actually saying the reverse, God commands and it comes to pass, that's it. He says, "Is it not from the mouth of the Most High…” Making that point, God's in control, He has the right to rule, He is supreme, He is sovereign, He is Most High. Verse 38, "Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that woe and well-being proceed?” You’ve got both sides of the coin, whether it's the great stuff that happens in our life, whether it's a difficult thing. Now God may not be causing it, but certainly, He's aware of it and allows these things, and He has the right to do that very thing.
And so no wonder Isaiah was inspired to write about God, "I'm God, there is no other, I declare the end from the beginning. I'll accomplish all My good pleasure." Isaiah recorded in Isaiah 46:9 Isaiah 46:9Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,
American King James Version×. Tells us very clearly that's the case. And that was the lesson that Nebuchadnezzar had to learn.
And so you can imagine knowing that he's the head of gold, this amazing ruler of the greatest empire of the day. He had to learn this very lesson, he had to learn it the hard way, had to learn it the hard way. Go back to the book of Daniel, as we consider Nebuchadnezzar, and then the results, as this dream and the prophecy is fulfilled, let's notice the fulfillment of this dream.
Verse 28, of Daniel 4, says, "All this came upon King Nebuchadnezzar. At the end of twelve months…” okay, so it didn't happen immediately after the dream was interpreted, we're a year later, kind of forget about things by then. So a year later “…he’s walking about the royal palace of Babylon. The king spoke, saying, ‘Is this not great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?’” He took full credit for everything that was done.
Boy, if you've ever looked into some of the archaeological digs and discoveries they've made with, you know, even just the bricks of Babylon, I mean, it's unbelievable. They manufactured something like 15 million bricks that were fired in those furnaces like they tried to throw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into. I mean, it's phenomenal, absolutely phenomenal, and even imprinted his name, put different sayings, all kinds of things on the various bricks and all of the architecture. And it was an unbelievable fantastic kingdom, no doubt about it. But who's in charge, who's in control?
Well, his perspective is “I am, I'm the great, I'm the mighty power.” Well, wait a second, who's the Mighty One and what did the dream say? Well, verse 31, "While the word was still in the king's mouth, a voice fell from heaven: ‘King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you!’” So we have the tree being cut down. "They shall drive you from men, your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. They'll make you eat grass like oxen; seven times shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses."
Learn this lesson of God's sovereignty, God's in charge, you're not in charge, that's the point, you're not in charge Nebuchadnezzar. And since God is in charge, you got no recourse, you got no argument, God will do what He will do, and this is what's going to happen to you. And sure enough, verse 33, "That very hour the word was fulfilled concerning Nebuchadnezzar; he was driven from men, ate grass like oxen, his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair had grown like eagles' feathers and his nails like birds’ claws."
And so the dream was fulfilled, the tree is cut down, it's banded, seven years go by. And then ultimately, we begin to see the difference, "At the end of the time," verse 34, “I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever.”
A little change of perspective here, isn't it? It says, "His dominion is an everlasting dominion, His kingdom is from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’"
And so as you imagine Nebuchadnezzar recognizing this very fact, now he knows he's not in charge. The Most High God is in charge, recognizing that very fact, Nebuchadnezzar has a change at least for a moment, a change of heart. He says, verse 36, "At that time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my honor and splendor returned to me."
Interesting lesson about what happened with this man who became like a beast, and we're not going to get into that side of the story tonight. But when we recognize this fact, that imagine the people's perspective that watched this whole thing carry out over this long period of time. Suddenly he's back and what's the difference? Who he recognizes as being in charge, who he recognizes as being in charge.
And as we see what Nebuchadnezzar came to realize, that the sovereignty of God is unquestionable, it's unquestionable. And whether it's Nebuchadnezzar's life, whether it's our life, we have to realize the same thing. This lesson plays through so that all inhabitants of the earth can recognize this as well. And when you go through it, you might say, well, it's kind of kind of a downer isn't it? I mean, is there any kind of encouragement here, when we recognize this very fact? And the fact is, yes, there is, there is encouragement. There is encouragement.
And as we know and understand that God is in control, He's there when times are good, He's there at tragic circumstances, He does allow pain, He does allow the great things as well. And because He's in charge, yeah, He doesn't manipulate us, we're not like a robot or we're not like a puppet or anything like that. God has given us the freedom to make our own choices, and yes, He holds us responsible for those choices, no doubt about that.
But the interesting part is by allowing these choices, and bringing about different circumstances, allowing different events to happen, it demonstrates His greatness, it demonstrates His glory. And by these things His will is accomplished. God's will is accomplished and those perfect purposes that He has in mind happen. Can you think of biblical examples of that? Think of Joseph and his brothers, bad stuff, brothers beat up Joseph, threw him in the well, sold him off as a slave, and what happens to him? They meant it for evil, God used it for good, God used it for good.
So was God there, did it accomplish God's purposes? Yeah, without Joseph there would have been a horrible famine and no relief, but God was able to work through those things, by bringing some things about, allowing different things. And yet who got the glory? Ultimately God got the glory. And so God can do that very thing, He can even use evil men and bring about good things. God can do that sort of thing, and not by forcing them to do it, by working in and through situations.
I mean, even the story in the New Testament Church is a phenomenal story, they were persecuted, and there were tragic situations in that first Century. And when that came about in Jerusalem, what happened? Well, we're in trouble in Jerusalem, we better get out of here. And so what happened? The gospel went out from Jerusalem. Because something bad had come about people got out of there, and they took that message with them. And so as a result of evil things happening, God turned it around, used it for good, and spread the gospel message, that served God's purposes? Absolutely.
And that's what God can do, He can cause our actions to serve His own purposes because He's God and He can do awesome things. And what does he have in mind for us? I mean, ultimately, Romans 8:28 Romans 8:28And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
American King James Version×, that's what He's got in mind to work these things for good.
Another passage that says pretty much the same thing, Jeremiah 29, you want to turn over to Jeremiah 29. It reminds us what God's perspective is, you know, He's not some puppet master, you know, He's not some technical whiz that's created a robot that has to follow His every move and dictate. No, not at all, ultimately, God can work in and through situations and circumstances, and people, and He does it for His own glory, and does it to bring about good for us as well.
So when you look to what it says in Jeremiah 29, here is an indication of what God's thinking, verse 11, Jeremiah 29:11 Jeremiah 29:11For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, said the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
American King James Version×, well, verse 10 gives you the context. "Thus says the Lord," God's talking, verse 11, "I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." So the sovereign God is on our side, and even though we can't understand every in and out of every action, every situation, every difficulty, He promises to ultimately work them out for our own good.
He wants us to trust Him. He wants us to recognize that even though this looks like a catastrophic situation, He will work it for good, He will, He promises to do that. And it causes us to recognize He can do whatever He wants, He can do whatever He wants… He is in charge, and even though I don't understand why it doesn't change that fact.
I belong to Him, I am His. Do I have a right to question what happens in my life in that sense, what He allows to happen, what challenges I may be faced with? Do I have a right to argue with Him about it or dispute about it? If He's in control of my circumstances, you know, as bad as it may appear He still says, He's got plans for good, plans for “a future and a hope," no exception, no exception.
David said in Psalms 31:15 Psalms 31:15My times are in your hand: deliver me from the hand of my enemies, and from them that persecute me.
American King James Version×, "My times are in Your hand… My times are in Your hand." He even said, "The steps of man are established by the Lord." You know, God knows, and so even though things are out of our control, even though we can't control every aspect of our life, we recognize God is in charge at every moment, every second, and He's good at what He does, right, He's fantastic. And so He says, “Trust Me, have faith, don't worry, don't argue, I'm going to work this out.”
I don't have to be upset or complain, if I trust God, I know He's going to accomplish His purposes. He's going to work His will. And it brings home I think some powerful lessons that we can learn from this amazing dream that Nebuchadnezzar had. That no matter what the trial, God can bring us to spiritual maturity, He can cause us and help us to grow.
So if we turn things around a little bit and instead of asking, “Why me? Why are You allowing this?” If we turn that around and consider, what can I learn? How can I grow? What quality of spiritual maturity does God want me to build in this situation? How can I become more Christ-minded? How can I put on the mind of Christ, like Philippians 2? How can I develop the character of Christ in and through my life circumstances?
Because as you think about it, isn't there something that we can build on, no matter the circumstances? I mean, if you consider our life, I mean, somebody hurts us, they hurt us deeply. Can I learn how to forgive? I got problems with my boss, conflict at work constantly, well, can I learn humility, can I learn to submit? Can I put those spiritual character principles into practice in my life? You know, when I'm down, I am discouraged, well, can I learn to look to God and trust Him, learn to be faithful? I need to.
I mean, even things, there are those physical things, I'm in a financial mess, I've botched up my life and done stupid things with my money, well, can I have a different perspective… can I now look to God and begin to turn that around and be a good steward, to begin to put godly principles into practice even in my financial life? Yeah.
Or if I'm tempted and the temptation lures me and I'm drawn to these things, can I recognize that with God's power I can overcome those temptations? I don't have to give in to those things. Because He's in charge, and whether I'm healthy, or whether I'm deathly ill, is it possible to recognize who's in control, and somehow rejoice in those things? Because I am in His hands, He knows it, He understands it. Or if we suffer loss, we lose a loved one, can we build a deeper relationship with the ever living One?
Can we recognize those types of things, because we know there's so many of us that are going through some very, very difficult trials right now, and there are difficult times. But when we conclude that God is sovereign, we have to come to the point to recognize He's allowed this, He's allowed this to happen. And you know, He has some perfect purpose for this whole circumstance, and He's going to accomplish what He wills. And we know His will is a plan for good, a plan for a future, and a hope and to work all things together for good.
And so when you consider these things, really comes down to the bottom line, the bottom line in all of these things is that we need to learn to yield to God's sovereign will. It's what Nebuchadnezzar had to learn because He's got a right to do what He pleases. He can let my Feast plans that were so perfectly orchestrated to fall apart at the last minute. Did that escape Him?
You know, He can let my child be bullied at school. You know, He may not give me that great job that I went through three interviews for, and at the last second, they didn't give it to me. He might even let me get blamed for something I didn't do at work, and yet I'm getting all the heat for it. I might lose my job because I obey His Sabbath law. Those things may happen. He might let my whole world fall apart around me if He chooses to do that.
So what do we do? And we’ve got two choices really, there's two things we can do: We can resist Him, we can blame Him, fight against Him, accuse Him of things, He's unfair, “God what are you doing? Don't you see I'm in this mess, what's wrong?” Yeah, we can have that point of view, or we can recognize He will use these circumstances to fulfill His perfect purpose. And we willingly yield to His sovereign will, and when we do that, that brings true security, you know, that brings real confidence. When you talk about comfort, talk about encouragement, yielding to God and recognizing He is in charge of all, that nothing escapes Him, that changes everything.
That brings comfort. That brings I think a boost to faith, and it certainly gives us a peace of mind that surpasses understanding, people don't get it when we recognize the sovereignty of God. And so Nebuchadnezzar definitely did that, at least for a time he did, and when you look back at Daniel 4, let's notice Daniel 4:34 Daniel 4:34And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honored him that lives for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation:
American King James Version×. Nebuchadnezzar comes to this conclusion, and hopefully, we come to the exact same conclusion.
Daniel 4:34 Daniel 4:34And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honored him that lives for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation:
American King James Version×, he came to this point, he recognized this, he understood it at a level he could never understand before, and as a result, it says, "I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever."
In fact, he carries that same thought all the way through to kind of put a bow around this beautiful package of God's sovereignty. Verse 37, "Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He's able to put down."
And that's where we want to be, we want to be in this same position that Nebuchadnezzar came to realize. That we recognize God's sovereignty, we know that He's in charge, we've learned the lessons that God has taught us through our life experiences. And in all of this, we bring praise to God, we extol Him, we honor Him because all of His works are truth, all of what He does is truth, all His ways justice.
And so let's strive that much more to recognize how God is with us, and He has promised never to leave us or forsake us and use circumstances, and events, and situations, in our life, to bring Him glory and honor.
All right, that'll do it for our lesson for this evening from the book of Daniel. I apologize again, for being a few minutes late, look at that, we're right on time, 15 minutes after when we started. Well, that will conclude tonight's lesson, we will have the next lesson from the book of Daniel in two weeks. So two weeks from tonight we hope you'll come back and join us on the Web, if not, get back on the archives you can see all of the studies from the book of Daniel, and previous Bible studies in our archives as well. So have a safe trip home tonight, and we look forward to getting together next time.