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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Walking Together

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“Can two walk together, except they be agreed?”  Amos 3:3

What a timeless truth.  I first remember hearing about Jesus when I was five years old.  As far as I know, that’s when we started attending church and I was enrolled in a small Christian school.  My fondest memories are about Jesus and especially how he loved the children and even rebuked his disciples that day and let the little children come to Him and be held and blessed.  And even as a little five year old, I knew one thing.  I wanted to walk with Jesus.  I wanted it so much that I dreamed about it, I thought about it, and I played games centered around it.  Maybe I was a strange little kid, but whatever the Lord had planted in my heart at that early age, impacted my life forever.

“Can two walk together, except they be agreed?”  What a pertinent question.  It defines those who belong to Christ and it defines those who refuse to belong to Christ.  It even defines our relationships or lack of relationships with others.  I mean, come on, look at what happens to husbands and wives who can’t be agreed.  Look at the statistics on the great extent of divorce and how they are ceasing to walk together.  What about broken friendships because of disagreement?  And what about all those relationships that never began because of lack of agreement in the first place?  Yes, this is true.  Just look at life.  The people who cling together are those who agree together. 

Now this is not just a wise saying.  This is a saying of greatest eternal value and great import for us.  As a matter of fact, our success and life and future depend upon understanding the depth and importance of this saying and applying it in our lives.  Because by this saying, God is saying that He, the God of creation and the God of the universe and the God of angel armies and the God who knows the heart of man, wants to be the One who walks together with us, the mere men and women that He created.  This God of awe and wonder wants us, created us to agree with Him.  He wants us to know Him that intimately and walk in His ways that intimately and bear His image on this earth that He created.  He has already agreed and stated that as His desire.  But there has to be agreement between both parties for there to be relationship, at least one that walks together.  I have to agree or I miss out on the relationship and the walk designed for me.

Here’s the other truth that goes with this.  “For the Lord GOD does nothing without revealing His secret to His servants the prophets.”  Why don’t people know how to do right?  Because they won’t agree with the One who is right.  Why are people surprised by the things happening in life around them?  Because they won’t listen to what the God who designed them for relationship with Him reveals to those who know Him.  And the truth is, that as You reveal to those who walk with You, they always reveal to the others around them.  And You continue to reveal Yourself through Your creation that is there for all to see.  Paul reminds us, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.  For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.  For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.  So they are without excuse.”  (Romans 1:18-20)  Every one of us is surrounded by evidence of God just by nature of life itself and all we see at work around us.  But You take that even farther and more personal to invite us into a daily walk with You where we can know You and Your thinking and not just know of You by the evidence You have left behind.

You haven’t just left evidence behind because You are still actively involved in holding all of nature together.  But it’s one thing to see Your handiwork outside of me and it’s another thing to BE Your continual handiwork.  Because You don’t just reveal Yourself and Your secrets and Your mystery to prophets or religious elites.  You reveal Yourself to any who would walk with You, to any who would turn and agree with You.  Look at Simon Bar-Jonah.  He was brash and arrogant.  But You saw someone different in him.  You saw Peter and when Peter saw You for who You really are and agreed with You and walked with You, he started to see himself as You saw him and His life was changed into Your image.  You revealed Your plans and Your heart to him and he lived them out.  And what of Saul the persecutor?  You saw Paul the apostle, who walked with You and agreed with You and lived You out in his life even though it lead to his death.  But even that lead to life eternal with You, with walking with You and agreeing with You forever.

And why would they choose to walk with You and agree with You like that?  Could it be because it was more than a flesh and blood thing but that You revealed the truth of Yourself to them?  Is it that God would make Himself personally known?  Would You let the secret out of the bag and into our hearts and lives?  Even if I’m not a prophet?  Even if I’m just me?

Jesus Himself thanked God for this truth.  “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was Your gracious will.” (Luke 10:21)  And it’s not that the wise and those who think they know so much, can’t know.  The truth is that they choose not to know, they choose not to agree, they choose to walk their own way.  But not so those who see themselves as children who need a Father to walk with, who want that relationship, and see the value of agreeing with the One who knows and wants to share that knowledge. 

It’s a message of truth for all people.  An invitation to relationship.  And no matter how others feel about it, it’s a message that has no shame.  According to Paul, the Gospel of Christ and the relationship it brings, “is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes; to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16)  Why?  Because in it we see who God is.  We come to understand what righteousness is and that it’s only of and in God.  It’s all revealed and He is made known by agreeing and walking with Him and in Him.  That’s that part about “faith to faith.”  It doesn’t come without the agreeing and walking together.  Faith is more than belief in words and doctrines.  Faith is more than speech and ideas.  Faith is those truths lived out.  Faith is the agreement turned into the walk of our lives.  The “just,” the holy live by that kind of faith.  And the revealing continues into eternity because there is that much of God to be made known!

Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 2 that there was a secret and hidden wisdom of God that God had decreed before the ages.  Neither the earthly rulers or the heavenly rulers up to that time had  understood it or they wouldn’t have crucified Jesus.  But God had a plan for those who love Him.  And God reveals that plan to us through the Spirit, that Spirit that searches everything including the depths of God.  He searches the depths of our own hearts and the depths of God and makes them both known to us.  Only if we don’t agree with God, we won’t agree with His Spirit either.  And if we don’t agree, we won’t choose to walk with Him.  And if we don’t walk with Him, we won’t get to know Him and we won’t hear a thing He has to share.

It’s not like we don’t have a choice.  I can choose to listen to and agree with and walk with the Spirit of God.  On the other hand, I can choose to listen to and agree with and walk with the spirit of the world.  If I choose that, I’ll not know the “things that are freely given to us of God.”  And the truth is that the things and relationship that God wants to give, the people and angels of the past wished they understood, including the prophets and angels, but today, in Christ by the Spirit of God, we can be filled up with what was lacking, with the personal knowledge of revelation, that of a true relationship with our living God! 

This great mystery used to be available to a select few.  But now it’s available to all who will agree with and walk with the Lord in Jesus Christ, the hope of glory.  God is calling you and me out from the spirit of this world.  He’s inviting us to agree with Him and walk with Him.  We were created for that intimate relationship.  God created us to make known the riches of the glory of this mystery of Christ in us.

God was using Amos to remind us of this truth, to bring Israel and us into that relationship we were created for, to break the chains of false thinking and false alliance.  And it’s not that coming back or finding that place or being in that place in You comes without trials, but the truth is that You are worth the trials and You are greater than the trials.   I mean, after all, You went through the greatest trial to win us back to You, to show how much You wanted us to agree with You and walk with You.  If You were willing to walk through the fire of testing to win me back, then I think it is worth the testing of my faith that I might become genuine in my agreement and walk with and for You.  And if Your walk has become the most precious thing to me, then surely the walk of tested faith You take me on, shall be precious to You. 

Yeah, I wasn’t there when Peter and Paul were.  I didn’t get to see You like I always wished I had.  I couldn’t be reborn as a kid in Your day of walking back then.  But You are the risen Saviour.  And You invite me to walk with You today in agreement as Your disciple.  And like Paul, we are invited to be Your emissaries in this world.  I may not have his giftings, but then again, Paul didn’t have mine.  Maybe I’ll never be given the opportunity to heal someone, or cast out a demon, but You have revealed so much to me that I see Your truth shine out through balloon creations, and magic tricks, and object lessons, and clown skits, and umbrella dances, and words on paper and words that float through the air, and so much more.  And it’s not because I would have always seen these things.  It’s because in knowing You and agreeing with You and walking with You, Your Spirit opens You up in everything.  And I don’t have to be a Paul or a Peter or a Mother Theresa.  I just get to become who You really created me to be.  But I won’t ever realize that if I don’t agree with You and walk with You.

So I guess I have to determine who I will walk with.  And if I want to walk with God, then I’ve got to walk with You.  Because I can’t know You unless I know You and I can’t know You without walking with You and I can’t know You unless I listen to Your Spirit and that takes agreement.  Because listening isn’t just listening.  Listening is doing and following through.  Here’s the sad thing, the truth is out there and available for every one of every nation, Jew and Gentile alike.  But so many will never know, not because the knowledge wasn’t available, but because they would never look and search it out.  How sad to miss out on the answer of life when it has always been within one’s grasp.  I want nothing more than to walk in agreement with You, Lord, no matter what it takes.