We continue our journey talking about the Lord God Almighty. If we are to prepare ourselves to meet Him, we need to understand who He is. Yesterday we looked at how we are to honor our Sovereign Lord with our trust. Today, we will look at how to address God as our Sovereign King and the reverence and awe He deserves. Psalm 89:8 “Who is like you, Lord God Almighty? You, Lord, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you.” When Hezekiah prayed to God, he understood the respect he needed to give Him and that God could save them from their enemies. Isaiah 37:15 “And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord: 16 “Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth.” Isaiah 44:6 “This is what the Lord says— Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God.” Isaiah 54:5 “The Lord Almighty is his name—the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth.” Understanding who God is changes the way we approach Him. Hebrews 12:28 “Since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.” Malachi 2:5 “My covenant was with him, a covenant of life and peace, and I gave them to him; this called for reverence and he revered me and stood in awe of my name.” If the church actually worshiped God with fear and trembling, awe and reverence as Malachi went on to say, “6 True instruction was in his mouth and nothing false was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and turned many from sin. 7 “For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, because he is the messenger of the Lord Almighty and people seek instruction from his mouth,” much in the church would change, especially when it comes to fearing God.
The word sovereign means “one possessing supreme political power or sovereignty.” The word lord means “one having power and authority.” When you think of world-wide power of a king, we do not see that today. Obviously, the sovereign that comes to mind was Queen Elizabeth who reigned for seventy years, yet over time, she was basically a symbolic figure and now that Charles is king, even less so. So, when most people especially in North America think sovereign, they really do not understand what it means to bow before their king with reverence and awe. While there have been kings that have had tremendous power and authority, none can compare to God. Kings became king because they are from the lineage of a royal family and the people really have no say, unless of course there is an uprising. Would the people really choose King Charles as their king, but they have no say in the matter, Charles is king? There is no, nor has there even been or will there ever be a king like our Sovereign Lord, the Almighty God, but the amazing part is that the Almighty God actually gives you a choice as to whether to make Him your king or not. Having said that, it would be foolish not to bow and submit to Him, yet that has been the case since the beginning of time. I say foolish because God has ultimate power and authority to destroy you from the face of the earth and the eternity beyond time. You often hear people say why would God allow such and such to happen, as if they are omniscient. (all-knowing) The better question to ask is why would God allow you to live when you don’t worship Him with reverence and awe? He has your life in His hand, even though most think that they are in control, at least they are in control until something happens that they cannot control. Then all of a sudden, they are either seeking God to save them or blaming God. We are told and warned Matthew 10:28 “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” And that would be for eternity, yet there is no fear of God in the church. Psalm 36:1 “I have a message from God in my heart concerning the sinfulness of the wicked: There is no fear of God before their eyes. 2 In their own eyes they flatter themselves too much to detect or hate their sin.” Jeremiah 5:24 “They do not say to themselves, ‘Let us fear the Lord our God.” If there was fear, the church would be repenting for their sin and wickedness against God and turning back to Him with everything they have. All through scripture we see God’s sovereign power. Amos 6:8 “The Sovereign Lord has sworn by himself—the Lord God Almighty declares: “I abhor the pride of Jacob and detest his fortresses; I will deliver up the city and everything in it.” He also had total control over Israel’s enemies. People will say that is the Old Testament, God will not allow that today and they would be wrong. Jesus said Matthew 24:15 “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. 18 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. 19 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20 Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. 22 “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. 23 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you ahead of time.” Today the church stands desolate because the church has rejected Jesus, their Sovereign King. The church has turned away from His word. Because of this rebellion, the abomination took place. 2 Thessalonians 2:3 “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.”
This destruction of the church does not mean that Jesus is not King of kings and our Sovereign Lord. Psalm 146:10 “The Lord reigns forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the Lord.” Lamentations 5:19 “You, Lord, reign forever; your throne endures from generation to generation.” Mary was told, Luke 1:30 “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” What it does mean is that even though Jesus is King of kings, God has turned His face from us and has allowed our enemies to decimate the church just as He said would happen because the church has rebelled against Him. God was still the Lord God Almighty when Israel and Judah were taken into captive and the temple destroyed. Jeremiah gives us picture of what has happened in the church. Jeremiah 5:3 “Lord, do not your eyes look for truth? You struck them, but they felt no pain; you crushed them, but they refused correction. They made their faces harder than stone and refused to repent. 12 They have lied about the Lord; they said, “He will do nothing! No harm will come to us; we will never see sword or famine. 13 The prophets are but wind and the word is not in them; so let what they say be done to them.” 14 Therefore this is what the Lord God Almighty says: Because the people have spoken these words, I will make my words in your mouth a fire and these people the wood it consumes. 15 People of Israel,” declares the Lord, I am bringing a distant nation against you.” Then God shows that he is merciful. 18 “Yet even in those days,” declares the Lord, “I will not destroy you completely. 19 And when the people ask, ‘Why has the Lord our God done all this to us?’ you will tell them, ‘As you have forsaken me and served foreign gods in your own land, so now you will serve foreigners in a land not your own.” The Jeremiah is told to make this declaration. 20 “Announce this to the descendants of Jacob and proclaim it in Judah: 21 Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear: 22 Should you not fear me?” declares the Lord. Should you not tremble in my presence? I made the sand a boundary for the sea, an everlasting barrier it cannot cross. The waves may roll, but they cannot prevail; they may roar, but they cannot cross it. 23 But these people have stubborn and rebellious hearts; they have turned aside and gone away. 24 They do not say to themselves, ‘Let us fear the Lord our God, who gives autumn and spring rains in season, who assures us of the regular weeks of harvest.’ 25 Your wrongdoings have kept these away; your sins have deprived you of good.” This is why repentance, not just in this season of Lent, but at any time is so important, as that is the only way God will turn His face back to the church. The good news is that we are told 2 Chronicles 30:9 “If you return to the Lord, then your fellow Israelites and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will return to this land, for the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.”
At this point in time, the church has been decimated and all that is left is a remnant of faithful followers scattered throughout the world. No, the remnant is not one particular church as some like to think of themselves like the Seventh Day Adventists who are false teachers that teach other gospels. (their disappointment will be even greater when they find out hell is real for all eternity), The remnant are those who have been saved from this massive attack (abomination that causes desolation) on the church, just like the remnant was saved in the Old Testament, that has been going on for hundreds of years, probably even back to when Paul said, Galatians 1:6 “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!” God really does mean it when He says Nahum 1:3 “The Lord is slow to anger but great in power; the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished. 7 The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him, 8 but with an overwhelming flood he will make an end of Nineveh; he will pursue his foes into the realm of darkness.” When Jonah preached, Nineveh was saved because they repented, this second time in Nahum, they were destroyed. Nahum 1:14 “The Lord has given a command concerning you, Nineveh: “You will have no descendants to bear your name. I will destroy the images and idols that are in the temple of your gods. I will prepare your grave, for you are vile.”
If we do not repent and then meet God, we will not spend eternity with Him. That in itself should be enough to fear Him, but it seems to have no effect on most people as they think they are safe and secure because they go to church. We repent because we believe God is a God of His word. I said earlier we would be a fool not to repent knowing what we know from the bible. When Jonah preached, the Ninevites believed God would destroy them and they immediately repented. Jonah 3:4 “Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” 5 The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. 6 When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. 7 This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. 8 But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. 9 Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.” This king acknowledged that there was a greater king than he was. They bowed before the Lord God Almighty and recognized Him as Sovereign. Most of the kings of Israel and Judah on the other hand did not believe and they were destroyed, taken captive and removed from their land just as God said He would do. Deuteronomy 4:22 You are about to cross over and take possession of that good land. 23 Be careful not to forget the covenant of the Lord your God that he made with you; do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the Lord your God has forbidden. 24 For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God. 25 After you have had children and grandchildren and have lived in the land a long time—if you then become corrupt and make any kind of idol, doing evil in the eyes of the Lord your God and arousing his anger, 26 I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you this day that you will quickly perish from the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess. You will not live there long but will certainly be destroyed. 27 The Lord will scatter you among the peoples, and only a few of you will survive among the nations to which the Lord will drive you.” They did not acknowledge the Lord God Almighty as their Sovereign King. They refused to obey and bow to Him and that came to pass. 2 Chronicles 36:20 “He carried into exile to Babylon the remnant, who escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and his successors until the kingdom of Persia came to power. 21 The land enjoyed its sabbath rests; all the time of its desolation it rested, until the seventy years were completed in fulfillment of the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah.
Even some of the remnant who stayed behind refused to obey and went back to Egypt even when Jeremiah said don’t go or you will be destroyed. God said Jeremiah 42:11 “Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon, whom you now fear. Do not be afraid of him, declares the Lord, for I am with you and will save you and deliver you from his hands. 12 I will show you compassion so that he will have compassion on you and restore you to your land.’ 13 “However, if you say, ‘We will not stay in this land,’ and so disobey the Lord your God, 14 and if you say, ‘No, we will go and live in Egypt, where we will not see war or hear the trumpet or be hungry for bread,’ 15 then hear the word of the Lord, you remnant of Judah. This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘If you are determined to go to Egypt and you do go to settle there, 16 then the sword you fear will overtake you there, and the famine you dread will follow you into Egypt, and there you will die.” They had even asked him what they should do, said they would obey, got the answer, and still refused to listen. Jeremiah 42:19 “Remnant of Judah, the Lord has told you, ‘Do not go to Egypt.’ Be sure of this: I warn you today 20 that you made a fatal mistake when you sent me to the Lord your God and said, ‘Pray to the Lord our God for us; tell us everything he says and we will do it.’ 21 I have told you today, but you still have not obeyed the Lord your God in all he sent me to tell you. 22 So now, be sure of this: You will die by the sword, famine and plague in the place where you want to go to settle.” Again, they refuse to acknowledge their Sovereign King and were destroyed.
We have to understand that the God we serve is the same Lord God Almighty who said, Malachi 1:14 “I am a great king,” says the Lord Almighty, “and my name is to be feared among the nations.” God was saying this because the people were not honoring Him. 6 “A son honors his father, and a slave his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” says the Lord Almighty.” What the people were bringing to offer Him did not show respect for their king. Malachi 1:8 “When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the Lord Almighty. 9 “Now plead with God to be gracious to us. With such offerings from your hands, will he accept you?”—says the Lord Almighty. “When you bring injured, lame or diseased animals and offer them as sacrifices, should I accept them from your hands?” says the Lord. 14 “Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord.” Can you imagine having healthy offerings and then giving God the least that you have. Actually, you don’t have to imagine, as that happens all the time, but then God responds, 10 “Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the Lord Almighty, “and I will accept no offering from your hands. 11 My name will be great among the nations, from where the sun rises to where it sets. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to me, because my name will be great among the nations,” says the Lord Almighty.” In a future blog I will be talking about doing jus that so that we do not light useless fires. Have you given God your very best, your life and everything you possess? Or is what you are offering your king, blemished?
This was Israel, constantly not fearing God and constantly bringing blemished offerings to God and constantly disobeying Him. They did not honor God or submit to Him as their Sovereign Lord. This is the church, constantly not fearing God and constantly not giving God our lives or carrying our cross. Luke 14:33 “In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.” Stephen said Acts 7:51 “You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit!” Isaiah describes this when God said Isaiah 30:8 “Go now, write it on a tablet for them, inscribe it on a scroll, that for the days to come it may be an everlasting witness. 9 For these are rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the Lord’s instruction. 10 They say to the seers, “See no more visions!” and to the prophets, “Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. 11 Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel! 5 This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. 16 You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’ Therefore you will flee! You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses.’ Therefore your pursuers will be swift! 17 A thousand will flee at the threat of one; at the threat of five you will all flee away, till you are left like a flagstaff on a mountaintop, like a banner on a hill.” Yet, we see God’s compassion on a people who do not deserve Him. 18 “Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! 19 People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. 20 Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. 21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Malachi 3:7 “Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty.” Unlike the Ninevites who repented, Israel and Judah refused and were removed from the Promised Land.
We can we learn from the Ninevites, who repented at the preaching of Jonah. Matthew 12:38 “Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.” 39 He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here. 42 The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now something greater than Solomon is here. 43 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. 45 Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.” Jesus knows the heart of people. We can’t hide that from him. Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Mark 2:8 “Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things?” Matthew 13:15 “For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.” Matthew 15:8 “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” We also see the example of the young man of great wealth. Matthew 19:21 “Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me. 22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.” Jesus knew his heart. Peter responded to Simon who wanted to buy the Holy Spirit. Acts 8:18 “When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money 19 and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” Peter also saw his heart and responded, Acts 8:22 “Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. 23 For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”
Jesus responded to the Pharisees and teachers of the law by saying they were a wicked and adulterous generation. Jesus knew their hearts because they basically wanted Jesus to prove Himself to them. If He did they might then believe. John 4:48 “Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.” John 2:23 “Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. 24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. 25 He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.” The people of Nineveh repented immediately to the preaching. It is not that signs and wonders are evil, it was the evil in the hearts of the Pharisees and teachers of the law. Many in the church think signs are wonders are only from satan so they want nothing to do with them. I think Jesus response would be applicable here. Mark 12:24 “Jesus replied, “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?” Yes, we are told Matthew 24:24 “For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” And yes, they have deceived people, but we are also told there will be true signs and wonders. In John 2 above, we saw that Jesus performed signs, but He also knew what was in their hearts. Acts 2:22 “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.” Mark 16:20 “Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” Hebrews 2:4 “God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” Acts 2:43 “Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles.” Acts 6:8 “Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people.” Acts 15:12 “The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them. So know that signs are wonders are not evil as they will accompany the true gospel. When the truth gospel is not preached, there will be signs and wonders to deceive those who do not seek truth.
We know from the Old Testament that Israel and Judah were obstinate and stubborn and refused to repent. As we read earlier, Jeremiah 5:3 “Lord, do not your eyes look for truth? You struck them, but they felt no pain; you crushed them, but they refused correction. They made their faces harder than stone and refused to repent.” Revelation 9:8 “The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the sun was allowed to scorch people with fire. 9 They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him.” 10 The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness. People gnawed their tongues in agony 11 and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done.” Today not only does the world refuse to repent, the church refuses too. Throughout scripture there is an obstinate refusal to repent. When Ezekiel was sent to the people God said, Ezekiel 2:3 “Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their ancestors have been in revolt against me to this very day. 4 The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says.’ 5 And whether they listen or fail to listen—for they are a rebellious people—they will know that a prophet has been among them. 7 You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious.” Ezekiel 3:27 “But when I speak to you, I will open your mouth and you shall say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says.’ Whoever will listen let them listen, and whoever will refuse let them refuse; for they are a rebellious people.”
This is why the church needs to turn from wicked ways. There are two kings that we can learn a lot from who were not from Israel or Judah. The first was King Nebuchadnezzar who learned by experience who the Lord God Almighty was. He would come to understand that even though he was a great king and had at the time world power and dominance, he learned he was nothing compared to God, something Israel refused to learn as we saw in 1 Kings 17:5 “The king of Assyria invaded the entire land, marched against Samaria and laid siege to it for three years. 6 In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria and deported the Israelites to Assyria. He settled them in Halah, in Gozan on the Habor River and in the towns of the Medes. 7 All this took place because the Israelites had sinned against the Lord their God. 13 The Lord warned Israel and Judah through all his prophets and seers: “Turn from your evil ways. Observe my commands and decrees, in accordance with the entire Law that I commanded your ancestors to obey and that I delivered to you through my servants the prophets. 14 But they would not listen and were as stiff-necked as their ancestors, who did not trust in the Lord their God.” Later we see Judah fall to King Nebuchadnezzar. 2 Chronicles 36:15 “The Lord, the God of their ancestors, sent word to them through his messengers again and again, because he had pity on his people and on his dwelling place. 16 But they mocked God’s messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the Lord was aroused against his people and there was no remedy. 17 He brought up against them the king of the Babylonians, who killed their young men with the sword in the sanctuary, and did not spare young men or young women, the elderly or the infirm. God gave them all into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar. 18 He carried to Babylon all the articles from the temple of God, both large and small, and the treasures of the Lord’s temple and the treasures of the king and his officials. 19 They set fire to God’s temple and broke down the wall of Jerusalem; they burned all the palaces and destroyed everything of value there. 20 He carried into exile to Babylon the remnant, who escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and his successors until the kingdom of Persia came to power. 21 The land enjoyed its sabbath rests; all the time of its desolation it rested, until the seventy years were completed in fulfillment of the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah.”
King Nebuchadnezzar plays a big part of Daniel. Daniel 1:1 “In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2 And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia and put in the treasure house of his god.” Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah (Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego) The king had a dream but would not tell the dream, so they had to figure out what it meant without that piece of crucial information. He said Daniel 2:5 “This is what I have firmly decided: If you do not tell me what my dream was and interpret it, I will have you cut into pieces and your houses turned into piles of rubble. 6 But if you tell me the dream and explain it, you will receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. So tell me the dream and interpret it for me.” 10 The astrologers answered the king, “There is no one on earth who can do what the king asks! No king, however great and mighty, has ever asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or astrologer. 11 What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among humans.” They were about to find out who the Lord God Almighty was. The problem was Daniel and his friends were going to be put to death. 12 This made the king so angry and furious that he ordered the execution of all the wise men of Babylon. 13 So the decree was issued to put the wise men to death, and men were sent to look for Daniel and his friends to put them to death.” He told the king that he would interpret it and they pleaded with God for the answer. 19 During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven Daniel 2:20 and said: “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. 21 He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. 22 He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him. 23 I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors: You have given me wisdom and power, you have made known to me what we asked of you, you have made known to us the dream of the king.” 26 “The king asked Daniel (also called Belteshazzar), “Are you able to tell me what I saw in my dream and interpret it?” 27 Daniel replied, “No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, 28 but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries.” After Daniel told him, the king responded 47 “Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery.”
After this the king promptly forgets and then makes an image of gold. Daniel 3:4 “Then the herald loudly proclaimed, “Nations and peoples of every language, this is what you are commanded to do: 5 As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. 6 Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.” Everyone did except 12 “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—who pay no attention to you, Your Majesty. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.” They refused to bow and were thrown into the blazing fire. 24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?” They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.” 25 He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” King Nebuchadnezzar then said 28 “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.”
The king was good at saying things like “surely your God is the God of gods” and praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego but he still didn’t know what it meant to bow before the Lord God Almighty who was sovereign over everything, including Him. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego knew who their God was. Daniel 2:17 “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” They understood as did Daniel what it meant to bow before their Sovereign Lord, the Lord God Almighty. It is important to understand this isn’t just a story to listen to, but an account of what we also must do as in the end King Nebuchadnezzar humbled himself and submitted to God. Once again, he had another dream. Daniel 4 is the king’s account of what happened. He now tells his own personal story. He says, Daniel 4:1 “To the nations and peoples of every language, who live in all the earth: May you prosper greatly! 2 It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me. 3 How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an eternal kingdom; his dominion endures from generation to generation.”
This started with a dream, but it was about him. Once again no one could interpret his dream except for Daniel. Daniel said, Daniel 4:24 “This is the interpretation, Your Majesty, and this is the decree the Most High has issued against my lord the king: 25 You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox and be drenched with the dew of heaven. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes. 26 The command to leave the stump of the tree with its roots means that your kingdom will be restored to you when you acknowledge that Heaven rules. 27 Therefore, Your Majesty, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue.” Daniel’s advice to the king applies to the church. Don’t wait to renounce wicked ways. Time went by and the dream was fulfilled. Daniel 4:29 “Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, 30 he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” 31 Even as the words were on his lips, a voice came from heaven, “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. 32 You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes.”
This is the part of the account that the church, which is people, need to come to themselves. We all do. As Job said Job 42:5 “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. 6 Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” Isaiah said Isaiah 6:5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” Then King Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged the King. Daniel 4:34 “At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. 35 All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done?” 36 At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.” His son didn’t listen and was destroyed.
The next king was King Darius. King Darius liked Daniel. Daniel 6:3 “Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.” Then the others set out to try to get rid of Daniel and tricked the king. 7 “The royal administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or human being during the next thirty days, except to you, Your Majesty, shall be thrown into the lions’ den.” Now like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, he refused to follow that order. Daniel 6:10 “Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.” This is what Daniel did and he was not about to change because he had submitted his life to the Lord God Almighty and would not waver. John shows us the opposite of Daniel. John 12:42 “Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved human praise more than praise from God.” Daniel understood Matthew 10:28 “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
Once the decree was put in writing there was nothing that could change it. Daniel was now about to die a horrible death in the lion’s den. Although the king tried to stop it, but had no choice. Daniel 6:16 “the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!” The king’s anticipation must have been almost unbearable. He would call out to Daniel, but would Daniel answer him? 19 At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. 20 When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions? 21 Daniel answered, “May the king live forever! 22 My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.” 23 The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.” This next part tells us how bad the lion’s den actually was. 24 “At the king’s command, the men who had falsely accused Daniel were brought in and thrown into the lions’ den, along with their wives and children. And before they reached the floor of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.”
This is the account of King Darius’ realization that the Lord God Almighty is Sovereign above all. Daniel 6:25 “Then King Darius wrote to all the nations and peoples of every language in all the earth: “May you prosper greatly! 26 “I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. “For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. 27 He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.” The God who saved Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and Daniel and made a powerful king realize he was nothing compared to God and closed the mouth of lions in front of another great king, is the same God we worship today. Mary was told Luke 1:31 “You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
Paul told Timothy. 1 Timothy 6:12 “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you 14 to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.” Jesus talked with Pilate, who was uninterested. Pilate really wanted nothing to do with Him. John 18:31 “Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law. But we have no right to execute anyone,” they objected. 32 This took place to fulfill what Jesus had said about the kind of death he was going to die. 33 Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Pilate had an opportunity to bow before the King but did not. Jesus said, 34 “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?” 36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” 37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me. 38 “What is truth?” retorted Pilate.” Truth was standing before him and he missed it just as the Jews did.Our job no matter what as believers is to testify to the truth that Jesus is the King, our sovereign Lord.
Have you submitted to Jesus Christ your King? Can you say you on the side of truth or have you fallen for man’s teaching? What will it take for you to acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes? Do you believe Lamentation 5:19 “You, Lord, reign forever; your throne endures from generation to generation.” Can you say, 2 Samuel 7:22 “How great you are, Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you.” Will you say Psalm 71:14 “As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more. 15 My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds, of your saving acts all day long— though I know not how to relate them all. 16 I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, Sovereign Lord; I will proclaim your righteous deeds, yours alone. 17 Since my youth, God, you gave taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. 18 Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come. 19 Your righteousness, God, reaches to the heavens, you who have done great things. Who is like you, God?”