Daniel 3 & 4
2 Peter 1.1-21
Daniel 3 & 4:
God in the fire
These two chapters contain two of the most incredible stories of God’s power and sovereignty! First we see the “three Hebrew children,” as they are sometimes called, thrown into the fiery furnace because they refused to bow down to the golden image.
Doing so would have amounted to worshipping King Nebuchadnezzar. When they were not even scorched by the fire that had killed their executioners, Nebuchadnezzar was forced to acknowledge God’s intervention.
The kingdom departs
But even more awesome to me is the story in chapter 4. It is such a picture of God’s total and complete sovereign control of His universe and everything in it, including power and politics. God doesn’t just see into the future and reveal what He sees. God plans and purposes what He desires according to His will, His wisdom, and His good pleasure. He sometimes declares in advance what is to happen, but He is always working to bring about His desired result.
In chapter 4, God who knew Nebuchadnezzar’s heart warned him in a dream that all he had would soon be taken from him. A year later, forgetting that warning, he pridefully declared, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?”
“… that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?” Oh, really? (emphasis added)
Verse 31, “While the word was still in the king’s mouth, a voice fell from heaven. ‘King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you!’”
Then God caused Nebuchadnezzar to lose his ability to think and reason and he became like a beast, grazing in the field. He lived outside covered in dew. His hair grew out and his nails became like claws. And he lived like an animal for seven years.
Even more amazing is the fact that at the end of the seven years, he acknowledged God as God and gave Him glory and his kingdom was restored to him.
If you have been reading through the Bible with us or you know history, kingdoms do not just wait seven years for a leader to get his act together. Apart from God’s sovereign control a power vacuum guarantees someone else will come in and take over.
Not only did he regain his power, but he also regained his influence:
“At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my honor and splendor returned to me. My counselors and nobles resorted to me, I was restored to my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added to me” (v. 36).
Whether or not Nebuchadnezzar became a true believer, I don’t know, but he understood one thing, “… those who walk in pride He is able to put down.” Again we see the recurring theme of pride verses humility. Repeatedly God makes the point that He resists the proud and gives grace to the humble (Jas. 4.6).
This is an amazing illustration of God’s sovereign control of kings and kingdoms. What was true in Daniel’s day is true with our nation, our world, and our leaders today! He may use ungodly leaders for a time and a season, but He can just as easily remove all power and authority from the same, and even, make them just as irrelevant as brute animals.
Our good & merciful Creator
That God is the Creator of the universe is reason enough to worship Him, but as the psalmist reminds us in these verses, He is also good and merciful to His creation.
A fool & his feelings
“A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back.”
Although feelings and emotions are real and can be very powerful, we do not have to be led or controlled by our feelings. Instead, as believers, we are to be led by God’s principles and submit ourselves to the control of His Holy Spirit.
It is a fool who does otherwise. Even when we think we are controlling people or circumstances by the strength of our personalities, our anger, etc., all we are really doing is revealing our foolishness to others.
Is the Bible enough?
The Bible isn’t just a book about God. It is inspired by God, literally, God-breathed (2 Tim. 3.16).
We are told in verse 21:
“for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”
Charles Ryrie in his book Basic Theology says this about verse 21:
This verse tells us as much as any single verse how God used the human writers to produce the Bible. The Holy Spirit moved or bore them along. The use of the same verb in Acts 27:15 illuminates our understanding of what is meant by “bearing” or “moving” the human writers. Just before the ship that was taking Paul to Rome was wrecked on the Island of Malta, it ran into a fierce storm. Though experienced men, the sailors could not guide it, so they finally had to let the wind take the ship wherever it blew. In the same manner as that ship was driven, directed, or carried about by the wind, God directed and moved the human writers He used to produce the books of the Bible.¹
So while God used men to pen the Scriptures, it was the Holy Spirit who moved or carried them along causing them to write exactly what He desired, without error.
So is the Bible enough to teach us how to live in our complex world or do we need to add something to it? Let’s look at verses 3-4:
“as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (vv. 3-4).
God’s Word contains everything we need for “life and godliness”—that is, it teaches us how to live godly lives whether married or single, rich or poor, while suffering persecution, sickness, or any other situation in life.
God’s Word does not teach us how to bake a cake, nor does it teach us how to set a bone, how to perform an algebra problem, or how to assemble a crib. But it does teach us how to respond when we’re missing half the screws for the crib, the cake falls, the pain of a broken bone keeps us awake all night, or we struggle with algebra.
It teaches us how to live in a godly way in a difficult marriage, with an ungodly spouse or no spouse at all. It teaches us how to return good for evil, how to love the unlovable, and how to live by God’s principles rather than our unreliable feelings and desires.
So not only is God’s Word inspired and inerrant, it is also sufficient for all the issues of life. We don’t need to add man’s wisdom (modern psychology) to it.
Have a great day as you grow in Christ,
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¹Ryrie, Charles C. (1999-01-11). Basic Theology: A Popular, Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth (pp. 78-79). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.