Kind of amazed at how the rock dropped into the pond last Tuesday night continues to make waves. The ripple effect still apparent. Calm waters nowhere in sight. To say that last week’s election continues to dominate the news cycle would probably be an understatement. Though some might think it’s time to move on, apparently not.
Maybe that’s why my reading in Daniel hit me in a way I’m not sure it’s hit me before. Maybe that’s why the ancient story of a great king who was humbled as a lowly beast has captured my thinking this morning. Maybe that’s why, despite all that’s going on in our world, my “pond” can be calm. Because I’m reminded that when it comes to the kingdoms of men, the Most High rules!
Don’t know what Nebuchadnezzar’s eating before he goes to bed at night, but whatever it is God was using it to get his attention. Daniel chapter four records another dream of the leader of the not-so-free world. Though he was at ease and prospering in his palace (4:4), one night when the lights go out another show comes on–a horror show. As he lays in bed he sees a dream that makes him afraid. He has a vision that alarms him.
He sees a great tree. Tall and strong. It reaches to the heaven, visible to the end of the whole earth. Providing food and protection for all brought under it’s towering branches. Magnificent. Nothing on earth surpassing it. But then a holy watchmen descends from heaven and orders, “Chop it down!”
“The sentence is by the decree of the watchers, the decision by the word of the holy ones, to the end that the living may know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom He will and sets over it the lowliest of men.”
(Daniel 4:17 ESV)
And the great king will hear heaven’s explanation for such a humbling two more times.
First, from Daniel when Daniel explains the dream and reveals the tree represents Nebuchadnezzar and tells the king he will be humbled “till you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom He will” (4:25).
Then when, on a night when Nebuchadnezzar is bloated with pride and glorying in his own might and majesty, he himself hears the voice of heaven cry, “Chop it down,” and the king is brought low. Driven from among men. Dwelling with the beasts of the field. Eating grass like an ox. “Until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to who He will” (4:32).
And though I may not be the brightest bulb in the box, repeat something three times and I can start picking up what’s being laid down. God wants the living to know that the kingdoms of men, even our kingdom, is ruled by the Most High. He gives the seat of power to whom He will. Even setting over it the “lowliest of men” . . . the least likely of candidates.
Heaven rules. (Daniel 4:26 ESV)
True in the political front. Equally true on the personal front.
What a gift Almighty God gave to the less-than-as-mighty-as-he-thought-he-was Nebuchadnezzar. What grace was extended to such a despot. Delivering him of his self-aggrandizement and revealing to him the true Potentate, the King of kings, the God Most High. And not to him only, but to all the living who have ears to hear. That they too might know the Most High rules!
When we get that and believe that, no matter how big the rock dropped into the pond, the waters, though disturbed momentarily, will soon again become calm as glass. Because we turn our eyes upon the Most High . . . look full in His wonderful face . . . and the things of earth grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.
And the waves of worship then roll:
At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored Him who lives forever, for His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom endures from generation to generation.
(Daniel 4:34 ESV)
Blessed be the Most High who rules.
What grace! What glory!