“… until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind …” Daniel iv. 37.
God has a message for all rulers of ‘sovereign’ states and provinces. He wants everyone to know that He – the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ – is the only true Sovereign Ruler. Only His dominion is eternal and only He is truly free to do what pleases Him. Every human kingdom or state enjoys limited sovereignty under God’s supremely sovereign rule.
Nebuchadnezzar – one of the mightiest and most glorious of all kings – had to learn this lesson the hard way. His statement, “I … was at ease in my house and flourishing in my palace” (v. 4) is quite an understatement of his splendor. One day, God showed him a dream that made him fearful and anxious. God’s servant the prophet Daniel alone could interpret the dream. It was a warning from God. After stating the dream and its meaning, Daniel ventured to “advice” the king! ” He exhorted Nebuchadnezzar to “break away now from your sins by doing righteousness and from your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor, in case there may be a prolonging of your prosperity.’ (v. 27)
A year later, the dreadful dream and its message couldn’t be farther from the king’s mind. The proud monarch surveyed his glorious capital from the terrace of his palace. He couldn’t resist admiring himself: “Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?” (v. 30) Before he could finish his sentence, God’s judgment struck him. He was driven away from civilization. He dwelt with with animals, eating grass, drenched by dew and exposed to the elements. Seven long years later, his “reason returned” to him (v. 36a). That’s when he understood God’s absolute dominion over every human kingdom. He praised the God of heaven!
The people of our times think that human kingdoms and republics supremely sovereign. Rulers and their cronies presume that they can do whatever evil that’s within their power. Governments and States presume that they can get away with any evil for their survival and progress. Few dare to question a State – even if it’s a State that boasts of promoting liberty and transparency. The arrogant deeds of human governments and rulers cannot be justified by claims of ‘sovereignty.’ The limited ‘sovereignty’ of human governments are subject to the absolute sovereignty of the God of heaven. That’s because God is eternal and all-powerful. “No one can ward off His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?'” (v. 35)
What does this Sovereign God delight in doing? As Nebuchadnezzar confessed, God “is able to humble those who walk in pride.” (v. 37) Those who are perched on ivory towers of pride cannot expect a promotion. They can only move in one direction – downward! On the positive side, the Most High God gives power and authority to whom He wishes. He sets the “lowliest of men” over kingdoms (v. 17). The lowly among us can rejoice in our humble state even as other despise us.
We also need modern prophets who are full of the Holy Spirit. Like Daniel, they should boldly declare God’s counsel to rulers. Daniel, the statesman who worshipped the Almighty God, had no reason to fear. He felt secure in his knowledge that it was God who elevated him from being a prisoner of war to be the chief among administrators of Babylon.