The Most High Rules In The Kingdom Of Men
November 5, 2000 / No. 3018
Dear radio friends,
This week our nation will elect a new president, the highest official of the strongest nation in the world today. Along with that election will be the election of local officials, judges, state and congressional representatives, governors, and senators.
In the campaign speeches and debates, radio and TV advertisements, we have heard the candidates boast of what they will be able to do for us. Whether they have campaigned on a platform promising that the government will take care of you, or whether their platform has asserted that the government will let you take care of yourself, either way, they have promised that they are the ones who will be able to do us the most good. They have spoken to us of the economy, jobs, social security, old-age benefits, promising the continuation of the prosperity we have enjoyed as a nation if they are the ones chosen as president.
Yet in all the campaigns from the national to the local level, there is one word that we have not heard – the one word that is true, the one word that will abide forever. This word, from the living God, “The most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will…. And settest up the basest of men. Therefore, break off thy sins and thy iniquities by shewing mercies to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquility.” These were the words that God spoke through Daniel to Nebuchadnezzar, who at that time was the world ruler. These are the words that God speaks yet today.
God rules in the kingdoms of men. God sovereignly accomplishes His own purpose. That purpose is always the salvation of His church and the coming of the day of the Lord. And always the word of God to man, to you and to every man from the highest official to the lowest citizen of the earth is this: Repent, break off thy sins, do His will. Instead of the immorality that runs rampant in our society, the ungodliness, and the gross shameful sins which are legalized, God’s word, nevertheless, stands. He rules from the heavens. And His purposes in Jesus Christ shall know no change. It is the calling of the church of God, in the midst of the world today, to testify. It is our calling to “dare to be a Daniel,” to say the same word that Daniel spoke to the world ruler of his day. That word was, “God sits enthroned over all, as the almighty and as the judge of heaven and earth. Break off thy sins. Repent or His wrath will fall upon you and ye will perish in a day.”
That is also a word to each one of us in our sinful pride. Live holy lives in the midst of darkness. Confess the Son of God. Be not conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. As strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conversation honest among the Gentiles. Walk as children of light.
This is also a word of assurance. For, no matter how evil and dark the day may be, we belong to Him whose kingdom rules over all and who accomplishes all things to bring the day of our final glory and redemption.
Our passage today is taken from chapter 4 of the book of Daniel. You will want to read that entire chapter and meditate upon it today and in the coming days.
Nebuchadnezzar was a great and mighty king. He was the one who had destroyed Jerusalem, the city of David, and laid waste the temple of Solomon. He had taken the people of Judah captive and had established the greatest world kingdom and power that had yet been set up upon the earth. His kingdom, Babylon, was great and luxuriant. Nebuchadnezzar had built shrines and beautiful temples for his gods. He had built a beautiful kingdom which is remembered still today for its beauty and grandeur. Nebuchadnezzar represented man and man’s kingdom in all of his power, influence, and beauty. The Scriptures make plain that he stood in the line of the antichrist. That is, the spirit of antichrist was in him. His was the kingdom of man. His was the boast that man will determine and man will rule. His was the arrogance against the living God. He exemplified the pride of man which attempts to throw off the bands, throw off the rule, of the Lord God Almighty.
In that chapter we read that Nebuchadnezzar had a dream which shook him, troubled him, and forced him to bow before God. The dream came to him at the end of his reign, at a time when he had reached the very height of his power. That dream came to him in the night. He saw a tree in the midst of the earth. This tree grew so that its height was exceedingly great and reached unto the heavens and could be seen for miles around. It was lush with branches and leaves and fruit, producing food and shelter for the birds and beasts of the earth who would nest in its branches and feed in its shadow.
There appeared to him a watcher, a holy one, that is, an angel of God, who cried with a loud voice, “Hew down the tree, and cut off his branches, shake off his leaves, and scatter his fruit: let the beasts get away from under it, and the fowls from his branches: nevertheless leave the stump of his roots in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass … and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth.” That dream came upon Nebuchadnezzar while on his bed at night. It troubled him, because Nebuchadnezzar had more that just a sneaking suspicion that the dream applied to him and his kingdom and his reign.
First of all, the vision itself made very plain that the tree represented a person, a man, upon whom would fall severe judgments, who would be reduced from a place of great glory to a place of being a beast upon the earth.
Secondly, the angel or watcher explained even in the dream that the purpose of the dream was “that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.”
Thirdly, Nebuchadnezzar showed that he had this sneaking suspicion, indeed, a dread that the dream referred to him because he did not call Daniel until the very last. We read in verse 8 of that chapter, “At the last Daniel came in before me.” Nebuchadnezzar hoped that somehow he could avoid calling in Daniel. He thought that, perhaps, his magicians could spin a good interpretation for him. But at last, with nagging suspicion and dread, the proud king was forced to hear the true interpretation of the dream.
Daniel comes before Nebuchadnezzar and we read that he was astonished and troubled by the space of an hour. Then he speaks to the king the interpretation. “The dream be to them that hate thee, and the interpretation thereof to thine enemies. The tree that thou sawest, … it is thou, O king, that art grown and become strong: for thy greatness is grown, and reacheth unto heaven, and thy dominion to the end of the earth. … Thou art the man,” says Daniel, “before whom the world is bowing. And, whereas thou sawest the angel come down with the command to hew down the tree, so is the decree of the most High God which has come upon thee, O king. Because of your pride, because of your boast, because of your vain glory, because of your arrogant setting aside the law of God, God is going to humble you, Nebuchadnezzar. God is going to humble you so low that you will eat grass as an ox. And you will live exposed to the elements. You will be reduced to a beast upon whom the dew falls for seven years, until you know that the most High rules in the kingdom of men. God will bring you low. Therefore, O king, break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquility. Nebuchadnezzar, repent, humble yourself, do God’s righteous will, cast away your idol gods, and obey God alone, or you will be reduced to a beast.”
That word of God speaks to us today. It speaks a truth, a truth that no one can escape.
First of all, it proclaims to us the truth that Jehovah, the God of the Bible, the most High is the everlasting King whose dominion is over all. God does not merely exist, but He reigns. He controls, determines, performs His will and good pleasure in the earth, in the sky, over all things. He is not simply a God who is and to whom men ought to give a place. But He sits upon a sovereign throne as the Almighty before whom all men appear and by whom all men are judged. No one rules but God alone. He sits in judgment and is judged by no man. In spite of all arrogance and pride which would dare deny Him or wrestle power from Him, He nevertheless abides as the eternal God. His place is upon a throne and ours is to obey. He governs and man must serve His purposes. It is not so that the Almighty God is merely a spectator of events and sits back to see what will be in our society. No, we confess even as Jesus taught us in the Lord’s prayer, “Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory for ever.” The throne of the universe is not vacant today. God does not hold a bare title to kingship. He is the King. The government is upon His shoulders. All things are in His hand to do even as He pleases. Through all events He accomplishes His own eternal purpose. And we are called to confess that with reverent joy.
But this word of God means something more. It means that before God man is nothing. All the inhabitants of the world are reputed as nothing, says Nebuchadnezzar after these things had fallen upon him. All the nations before Him are as nothing and accounted as less than nothing and vanity. At this very moment, if God so wills, all the might of our society could be reduced to nothing. And it will not be a long time, so far as the world is concerned, that it shall be reduced to nothing before the living God.
What of the great kingdom of Babylon, the greatest kingdom that the world had yet seen in the days of Daniel? What is left, but a few remains covered in the layers of mud and silt. Every man who has thought of God is made to feel experientially his own utter nothingness before God. And then to think that the most High God, who needs no one and nothing to add to His glory, has nevertheless loved His church and condescended to embrace us in all of our sinfulness and littleness through Christ. Oh, what a wonder!
All men are made to feel their nothingness when God stands up just a little bit to reveal His might and power. The problem today is this: Man has great thoughts of men and of himself and little thoughts of God. This is the lie of Satan. But it is not so. God is God. Before Him, man is nothing. God does not strain to fulfill His purposes. He raises up one and He casts down another. And those who walk in pride, He is able to abase. Therefore, the word of God is: Repent! Of course. If God sits upon His throne and man is nothing before Him, then the word of God is, “Break off thy sins by righteousness and thy iniquities by showing mercy to the poor.”
When Daniel spoke those words to Nebuchadnezzar, that took the courage of faith. You know, it is one thing if you call a beggar who is in rags and whose life is shattered by sin and poverty, to call that person to repent. But it is another thing to stand before a king dressed in the world’s best and holding a scepter, which represents the power by which he can enforce his own will over you – the power to cast you into prison or to take away your life. Nevertheless, Daniel, who stood before God and God’s throne, was made bold to bring the word of God even to mighty kings, kings who rule over nations, who have become exceedingly proud and boastful of what they can do, and who arrogantly have set aside the will and the law of God. God’s word is spoken, for He sits upon His throne. He speaks to rich and to poor, to high and to low, to Supreme Court justices and to Presidents, to movie producers, to corporate leaders, to the world leaders, and to the lowest inhabitants of the earth: Repent. That is His word. Take heed if you cast away the will and the law of the almighty God. Watch out what you trample under your feet.
No one can ever get around the living God. No one ever has or shall. Our proud nature imagines we can. We always think that we can get around our sins. We always think that we can arise and say before God, “So what?” Hear the word of God: Repent, break off your sins, lest the almighty God fall upon you and there be none to deliver you when His anger is risen just a little. Listen, man. Listen, nation. Listen, believer. Listen, all peoples of the earth; boys and girls, mighty and low. Listen to the word of God. God rules from His heavens. He is the almighty God. Man is nothing. Repent of your sins. Repent of your sins. Serve the Lord with gladness. Bow before His presence. Confess His name.
This word of God was fulfilled in the day of Daniel and is fulfilled today. We read in Daniel 4 that it was but a little later that Nebuchadnezzar walked in his palace. He had choked down the words of his pride for he was afraid. But then, in a moment when he viewed the splendor of his kingdom – its shining domes, its paved streets, its golden pillars, and its hanging gardens – the thoughts of his heart expressed themselves upon his lips. In a moment of achievement and power and self-worship, he said, “Is not this the great Babylon that I have built for the house of the kingdom, by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty!” So he spoke. “Have not I done all these things? Look at the prosperity! Look at the influence. Look at the power. Is not this all the result of my hands?”
And we read, “While the word was in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee. You shall be driven from men and turned to a beast until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdoms of men and giveth it to whomsoever He will.” And in that very hour the heart of king Nebuchadnezzar was turned to the heart of a beast. And he lived for seven years as a wild, shaggy animal, eating grass and with his fingernails clawing the ground, reduced to a beast before the face of the living God.
So it will be with sinful pride. Whatever exalts itself before the living God shall be abased. That is the word that is true. Hear it. So shall it be with any nation among men which casts aside God’s law and seeks to establish itself in might and honor and prosperity, any nation which claims that it has the right to decide what is right and true.
So shall it be with the world’s mighty – sports stars, movie stars, justices of the Supreme Court, congressmen, representatives, presidents, dictators – to all who do not confess the name of Jesus Christ and His Son. And so shall it be to every sinner among men whose heart is lifted up and who will not bend the knee to God and who will walk in his own way and cast aside God’s holy law. This is set by the decree of the almighty God. God shall be exalted and all human pride shall be made low, for God is the unconquerable King.
Bow before Him in fear and reverence. Confess His Son. This, the gift of God by faith, is eternal life. God’s purposes in His Son Jesus Christ are faithful and true. His kingdom is forever. He reigns over everything – from pole to pole. Blessed are all they who put their trust in Him. That is His word.
His purposes will be accomplished. Even now they are being done. His secret will will be performed through Jesus Christ, leading all things to the judgment of sinful rebellion and the building of His church in Jesus Christ. He will gather out of this world His own church. In the day of Jesus Christ, when the Son returns, He will judge the world. And He will bring His church to final redemption and glory.
His word today? “Fear not, little flock. It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” All the mighty power of God is channeled through love and mercy unto His church in Jesus Christ. Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord. All things are ours, for we are Christ’s and Christ is God’s. This is comfort to the believer and to the church of Jesus Christ. God rules through Jesus Christ. That is our comfort.
But that also brings a serious word to you and me, to national leaders and local judges. That word is this: “There is a terrible danger to which you are exposed. If you are wise, by the grace of God, you will bow to the scepter of Christ and submit to His instruction.” If not, the warning of the King of kings is also made known to you today, to Supreme Court justices and to humanists and atheists, to agnostic news media and television, to producers and performers of hard rock and base movies, to those who advocate pornography, to those who practice abortion, to all those who live today in power and influence but live in rebellion against this King: Repent! Kiss the Son lest He be angry. When His anger is risen, who shall stand in that dread day? The most High rules in the kingdoms of men. Break off thy sins. Cease from your iniquity. Believe and obey the Lord Jesus Christ.
That is a word of comfort to the believer and to the church. For we confess that by mighty grace we have been brought to bow in humble adoration. We worship Him now with zeal and love. And we desire to serve Him in obedience. We confess Him who is sovereign over us in His love. We confess Him who remains our shield and protector. And we come before His throne not with fear and dread, but with praise and love, and we confess before Him, out of wonder and delight, “The Lord God omnipotent reigneth. The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our God and of His Christ. And He shall reign for ever and ever. Hallelujah.”
Father, bring this word even to our hearts and give us to walk in its comfort. Amen.