A Personal Revelation

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Photo credit to Madeline Tejano Mostrales.

 

“…that the living may know that the most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomsoever He will, and sets up over it the basest of men.” Daniel 4:7

 
You would think that Nebuchadnezzar would have learned already. I mean, there was Daniel to interpret his dream that no one else in the kingdom could even tell, let alone interpret. What did Nebuchadnezzar gather from that? Well, he worshiped Daniel, fell prostrate before him. That’s definitely a humbling experience for him, but pretty much a “no-no” according to God. Yet he did come to the conclusion that Daniel’s God “is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets” (Daniel 2:47) That’s good to know and it’s good to put God at the top of the list, and know that God can do what the other gods can’t. But it’s also still saying that there are other gods even though God is the Top Dog. It seems as though Nebuchadnezzar still was giving himself lots of choices to run to, although Daniel’s God was the best of the best. It’s a step in the right direction, but it’s not arriving at the destination at all yet.

 
After that lesson, he raises up that larger than life image. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refuse to bow down and worship it, are thrown into the fiery furnace, and come out unscathed. Nebuchadnezzar announces how their God “sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in Him…and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.” Now that was a novel idea for this polytheistic kingdom. These guys worshiped one God and only one God, while the world around them worshiped many. But what did the king learn? Obviously not that God was the only true God. But he did learn that there was “no other God that can deliver after this sort.”

 
Now, I don’t want to fault King Nebuchadnezzar more than any of us. Sometimes we are just as thick-headed and dull as he was. Sometimes, I suppose, it’s much easier to hedge our bets, and hold onto what we’re used to. Sometimes it’s easier to stick with tradition and not rock our boat or anyone else’s. Sometimes it’s easier to let someone else be bold and make a stand and just be the one to commend them. Sometimes it’s just easier to accept it all than to count the cost and take a side. Sometimes it’s just easier to stay where we are because it’s comfortable and we are in control. I mean, who really wants to admit that I’m really not in control? Who is ready to hand that control over so easily to a God who is all powerful and may decide to do things differently? Might as well hold on to the control. Then I can decide, right?

 
So now we come to chapter 4. And Nebuchadnezzar starts off by saying he’s telling this story and that he wants to tell about the wonder and might of that high God in his own personal life. We find that God sends another dream to Nebuchadnezzar. This time again, none of the counselors can interpret the dream except for, guess who? Daniel came in, yeah, Daniel is his real name, because the king admits he changed his name to Belteshazzar after the name of his own god. Maybe he was starting to realize the irony of that act. Because here was Daniel’s God continually showing Himself.

 
Now Daniel hears the dream. And what was his reaction?  He was devastated. It really bothered him. For an hour he was handling within himself what he knew. And the king saw but told him not to worry, but to interpret it. So Daniel told him that as great as he was, and as great as his kingdom was, that God was saying he was going to be driven from men and live among the beasts, not by other men, but by these angels, these watchers of the dream. He would be like a beast of the field, eating grass like the oxen, wet with dew, for seven years, until he acknowledged that God rules in the kingdom of men and gives it to who he will. And at the end of the seven years, when the king learned this lesson, he would be returned to his kingdom’s rule.

 
Did Nebuchadnezzar stave this off? Daniel counseled him, “break off your sins by righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor.” But 1 year later the king was walking and thinking of his kingdom and shared, “Isn’t this 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?” Boom! A voice from heaven, (yes, this is dramatic! but God is that way) “O king Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken; ‘The kingdom is departed from you…” And the dream was fulfilled that same hour. Nebuchadnezzar was driven from men, ate grass like the oxen, his body was wet with dew, his hairs grew like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds claws.

 
Thank goodness he had good counselors that kept his kingdom during this time. Maybe Daniel was in charge and reminding them, “This is only for seven years and God will return him to his position. Let’s just keep everything going till then.” But at the end of those seven years, Nebuchadnezzar looked up instead of to himself, and became a thinking man again, and remembered God and blessed the most High, and “praised and honored Him that lives for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation.” So what else did he learn? “All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and He does according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and no one can stay His hand, or say unto Him, ‘What are You doing?’ He learned that God is the King of heaven, all His works are truth and His ways just, and that those who walk in pride, He is able to abase.

 
And this is where we are left with Nebuchadnezzar. But maybe the question is, where does that leave me?  Am I left like Nebuchadnezzar acknowledging that God is the best choice among lots of choices? Do I acknowledge the wonderful things He does but refuse to surrender to Him alone? Do I keep seeing His hand in my life and lives around me, but I refuse to worship Him? Am I excited and living for moments and miracles instead of living for the One True God?

 
Daniel knew God. God shared things with him. God shared things with him in a way that flowed out to others. Nebuchadnezzar knew about God. He watched from the other side of the fence as God interacted with Daniel. But I even wonder if at the end, when Nebuchadnezzar felt the touch of God, if he just looked up or if he became His like Daniel. Was God his Counselor? Or did he remain his own final counsel?

 
Back in Daniel 2 the king had told Daniel, “Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery.”  Jesus, in both Matthew and Luke declares, “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.” The beauty of revelation is that even in the Old Testament to this pagan king, God was doing everything to make Himself known, not for His sake, but for the sake of Nebuchadnezzar and all the people under his influence.

 
I think of Paul, who was a persecutor of believers, who was like Nebuchadnezzar only puffed up in religious pride. But then God humbled him also, this great man by the world’s standards and probably his own. And he makes this statement, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Philippians 3:8) And he’s not talking about knowing about Jesus. He really means KNOWING Jesus, and knowing Jesus so much that he would be found “in him, not having righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith- that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death…I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own…Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.” (Philippians 3)

 
Yes, God uses even the basest of men and women, boys and girls. He puts us each where He wants us and for His purposes. I can’t explain it all and I never will be able. But I know that You, Lord, give every one of us the opportunity to know You if only we would humble ourselves before You. People may be angry, they may ask, “God, what have You done? What are You doing?” What’s the answer? “I’m trying to reveal myself to you, if only you would get it. Child, I’m doing everything just to reveal myself to you.”

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In the Moment of Turbulence

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Photo credit to renature.com

 

“…that they might ask mercy of the God of heaven concerning this secret.” (Daniel 2:18)

 
“It is the glory of God to conceal a thing; but the glory of kings is to search out a matter.” (Proverbs 25:2) And that’s exactly what is going on here. King Nebuchadnezzar is confronted with a dream that greatly troubles him. The meaning is concealed from him. So he calls in his “advisors” to interpret the dream. Only he isn’t going to tell them what the dream was in the first place. He requires that they tell him what he dreamed and interpret it.

 
“That’s impossible! We can’t know what you dreamed. You have to tell us that part. Then we’ll interpret what you tell us.” Well, it seems as though the king was pretty skeptical and figured it would be easy to make up any interpretation. So he was going to put the whole burden of truth on them. And if they couldn’t do it, what use where they as advisors? In disbelief the advisors answered, “No man on earth can tell you your dream, and there’s no great and powerful king anywhere who has ever asked this kind of thing of their magicians, or enchanters, or Chaldean. Do you realize what a hard thing you are asking? No one can tell the king that, except the gods, and they don’t live among us.” But that was not the answer the king wanted. He was infuriated and commanded all the wise men of Babylon to be destroyed.

 
Now, I know that King Nebuchadnezzar was mad and didn’t care for that answer. But I think it needed to be said. Because it’s true that only God is the revealer of secrets of our hearts and minds. And God does live among us even though He lives above us. But it’s true, gods don’t and gods can’t. But God does and God can. Their statement opened the door to show that.

 
The king was asking a hard thing. It was so hard and so rare that they couldn’t do it. In other words, no man could do that task. It would take something supernatural, something only the gods could do. To me, knowing these gods were made by my men’s ideas and men’s hands, it’s pretty much up to chance whether you get an answer or not. That’s a pretty sad state of affairs if that’s what your faith looks like. If I can’t interact with my “god” and expect him to interact on my behalf, if my “god” could care less about what troubles my soul, and his representatives have no help from him, then I’m in a pretty lonely, empty, meaningless place.

 
BUT there is a GOD! And Daniel finds out that they are going to be slain and the first thing he does is asks Arioch, the captain of the king’s guard, why? Arioch tells him how the king wanted his dream made known and interpreted and the answer of the advisors. But Daniel’s response was so different. He went straight to the king and asked him for time and told him he would show the king the interpretation of the dream. How would time help when everyone else said it was impossible?

 
Daniel wasn’t planning on knowing in his own strength. Daniel was depending upon the God who tabernacles with us, and God who manifests Himself among His people. He wasn’t any god; He is GOD. So Daniel enters his house and shares what is going on with his brethren Hannah, Michael, and Azariah. What would they do? Pray and seek the face of God. “…they would desire mercies of the God of heaven concerning this secret; that Daniel and his fellows should not perish…” And you know what happens when you seek a God who manifests Himself? That impossible secret that men can’t find out, well, it was revealed unto Daniel in a night vision.

 
So what did Daniel do first? Did he run right away to tell the king so that they would not be destroyed? Not at all. He blessed God. It’s like Psalm 103:1 being lived out. “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name.” It wasn’t like his soul was blessing and his body and mind doing something else. That Hebrew word for soul, nephesh, is about “me, all of me all at once.”(Skip Moen) It doesn’t distinguish or separate between mind, soul, body. This blessing God was an act of the whole person. It’s not just a “spiritual” reaction. It’s the whole me offering thanksgiving. It’s that going to bed and sleeping acknowledging my need for You and Your grace and mercy, it’s the waking up expecting it and living in it every moment of every day. It’s expressed in every thing that I am and every way that I am.

 
It’s when I begin to realize all the time that God is always God, that every bit of wisdom and might is found in Him. It’s when I comprehend and rejoice that the seasons change because of Him, or that kings, and kingdoms are put in place by His hand. It’s realizing and rejoicing that no wise man is wise without it being from Him, and that He has all the knowledge and understanding that we could ever need and is willing to share with us what we need. He reveals what needs to be revealed. He knows what no one else can see and brings it to light. He is worthy of praise every one of my breathing moments and beyond. He is worthy of my unceasing thankfulness.

 
And when we let You manifest Yourself in our lives, instead of relying on lesser things, You do because You created us for this, to be Your image bearers in the world. And so Daniel is able to go before the king with your answer. And he does not let the king forget the words of the other advisors. Neither does he claim ability of his own. “But there is a God in heaven that reveals secrets, and makes known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days…” Yes, no man can tell you, but the God who manifests himself to us can and will tell you when you seek Him. And Daniel revealed the dream and it’s interpretation to the king. And the advisors were saved from death and the king was satisfied and Daniel and his three fellow worshippers were blessed with high rank in the kingdom.

 
So how does this relate to me, to today? Life is hard. Things fly in and change our plans and our lives. It can be other people’s attitudes or actions or our own choices. It can be tragedy or loss or natural disaster that sweeps in and life is not what we once knew. Little things and big things that seem too heavy can flip our world upside down. And I can be like the advisors who relied on their own strength and knowledge or I can be like Daniel and rely on You. I can know that You have the answer because You are the Answer.

 
In all honesty, I’m not so sure how well I’m doing in this area. I’m certainly not under threat of being killed, and yet sometimes my stomach is uneasy, or I wonder if I’m grinding my teeth at night, or a moment hits and I’m weeping and feeling overwhelmed. And crazy me, at the same time, in the middle of all the chaos of me and my humanness, I’m thinking of how wonderful You are and how You provide all I need. I wonder if Daniel and the others wept before You, Lord? I wonder what was going on in his stomach or if he just slept peacefully? All I know is that You filled his thoughts and I want You to fill my thoughts. I want to choose to fill my thoughts with You.

 
I can’t help but think of the time that You and the disciples were out in that fishing boat in the middle of the sea when the storm arose. And there You were sleeping on a pillow in the back of the boat, nonplussed by the storm. You were not afraid of perishing. And You calmly rose to the moment in the turbulence and rebuked the turbulence with peace and stillness. And Lord, I pray that I would learn to rebuke the turbulence in my life and heart with Your peace and Your stillness today, just as Daniel did so long ago.