The feeling of being in control of every event in our lives is very desirable for it gives us a sense of safety.
We lay hedges around our little world and establish our own empires in an effort to safeguard the people and things that we treasure in life.
When our empires have been established and seem to be within our control, there is a tendency to take pride in our successful conquests.
But it just takes a calamity, a problem or a predicament to befall us before we realize that the control we perceive to wield is actually transient and illusive like a mirage in a desert.
As Christians, we know that God is the one who is truly in control of every single detail of our lives and the whole universe.
Even with that knowledge, it is very human for us to forget and ignore the sovereignty of God. More often than not, we struggle to allow God to steer the course of our lives.
Today’s narrative poem is taken from Daniel 4:4-37.
Counterfeit Gods: Part 6 - The Power and the Glory
By Joanne Liaw Sook Ling (29th July 2013)
King Nebuchadnezzar was a powerful man
He had conquered and subdued many foreign lands
The empire of Babylon grew under him
Under his reign, the golden age was ushered in
One night he had a dream that brought him immense fear
He summoned all the wise men so that they could hear
His dream and provide the right interpretation
But they failed to come to a correct conclusion
At last, Daniel who was an exile from Israel
Was brought before the king who related the tale
Of his unresolved dream to Daniel who once had
Interpreted his previous dream as a young lad
'Behold, I dreamed of a great and towering tree
That provided ample food and shade for many
Its leaves were beautiful and its top reached the skies
I could see no other trees that could grow so high
And then I saw a watcher came down from heaven
Who made a loud and commanding proclamation
He said 'Chop down the tree and lop off its branches
Let all those that took shade flee to other places
But let the stump of its root remain in the ground
With a band of iron and bronze, let it be bound
Let him be wet and drenched with the dew of heaven
With the beast of the field, let him share his portion
Let his mind be transformed from a man's to a beast's
Until the passing of the seven period lease
So that all may know that God rules earthly kingdoms
And sets lowly men over them in his wisdom''
Daniel's thoughts alarmed him; he knew not what to do
The king said ‘Let not this dream of mine alarm you'
'My Lord, may this dream be for your adversaries
And its interpretation for your enemies!
O great king, the tree that you saw represents you
Your success and accomplishments have not been few
Your greatness has grown and reaches to heaven
To the ends of the earth you have gained dominion
But just as the great and mighty tree was chopped down
With only its stump heavily bound to the ground
So shall you be driven away from among men
And your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the land
Drenched with dew and like an ox you shall eat grass
Then over you shall seven periods of time pass
When you acknowledge that God rules earthly kingdoms
And sets lowly men over them in his wisdom
As it was decreed to leave the stump of the tree
God shall restore your kingdom, strength and sanity
My counsel to you: repent of your trespasses
By showing mercy and practicing righteousness'
The king remained unrepentant after a year
The one true God he did not acknowledge and fear
One day as he was casually strolling along
The roof of the royal palace of Babylon
He gazed at the greatness and wealth of his country
'Is this not Babylon which I've built mightily
As a royal residence and powerful city
For the splendour and glory of my majesty?'
While he was speaking, a voice fell from heaven
'O king, the prophecy that has been spoken
And interpreted by Daniel will befall you
Until you repent and know what you ought to do'
Thus, the prophecy was fulfilled immediately
Till the king understood and learned humility
At the end of the long seven periods of time
The king looked up to the LORD who restored his mind
Like the king, have you been prideful of your kingdom?
Do you run life your way and reject God's wisdom?
Repent of your arrogant ways and prideful thoughts
Submit to Jesus Christ as your Saviour and Lord
Points for Reflection:
Therefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to you: break off your sins by practicing righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the oppressed, that there may perhaps be a lengthening of your prosperity.” (Daniel 4:27)
· Do you notice God giving you warning signs to repent of your pride and turn to him? Those warning signs could be your Christian family, friends, a sermon, a song or perhaps even the words of this email which are gently rebuking you for your self-sufficiency and arrogance.
· Have you been ignoring those warning signs? If so, do not persist in ignoring such signs but repent and allow Jesus to take the wheel of your life.
At the end of twelve months he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, and the king answered and said, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” (Daniel 4:29-30)
· Even after being aware of God’s warnings, do you still persist in being the king of your own life?
· Do not persist in your arrogance but allow Jesus to be your King who determines what is right and wrong.
While the words were still in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, “O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you, and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.” (Daniel 4:31-32)
· King Nebuchadnezzar refused to repent for twelve long months even after receiving God’s warning through a dream. His pride reached its climax when he exclaimed proudly to himself about the power of his own might in establishing the kingdom of Babylon. God’s discipline followed immediately after he uttered those arrogant words.
· God’s discipline is never pleasant but painful. But God disciplines us so that we would repent of our sins, put our trust in him and be saved from eternal judgment in hell for our sins. God would not discipline us if he did not love us and he does so for our own good.
And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” (Hebrews 12:5-6 ESV)
· Are you experiencing God’s discipline because of your pride and stubbornness? If so, take heart for God is trying to save you from persisting in your sin which leads to eternal death.
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)
· King Nebuchadnezzar finally repented of his sins and acknowledged God as the sovereign and most powerful Ruler of the universe. When he had learned his lesson, God restored his sanity and kingdom to him. If God had not disciplined him at all, his heart would not have turned to God’s saving grace.
· Have you repented of your pride and submitted to Jesus as your Saviour and Lord? There are two ways to live -
- Be the king of your own life and reject Jesus as your king. This ultimately leads to eternal death in hell.
- Repent of your sins and allow Jesus to be the king of your life. This ultimately leads to eternal life in heaven.
· Which way are you heading towards?
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. (John 3:36)