Great Thoughts of God
The Most High God rules the kingdom of mankind and sets over it whom he will.(Daniel 5:21)
The central truth which Daniel taught Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel chapters 2 and 4- and of which he reminded Belshazzar(5:18-23), and which Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged(4:34-37), and which Darius confessed ( 6:25-27), and was the basis of Daniel’s prayers in chapters 2 and, and of his confidence in defying authority in chapters 1 and 6, and of his friends confidence in defying authority in chapter 3, and which formed the staple substance of all the disclosures which God made to Daniel in chapters 2, 4, 7, 8, 10, 11, and 12- is the truth that “ the Most High rules the kingdom of men”(4:25). He knows, and foreknows, all things, and His foreknowledge is foreordination; He, therefore, will have the last word, both in world history and in the destiny of every man; His kingdom and righteousness will triumph in the end, for neither men nor angels shall be able to thwart Him.
These were the thoughts of God which filled Daniel’s mind, as witness his prayers(always the best evidence for a man’s view of God); “Blessed be the name of the Lord forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom….He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him”(2:20-22), “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments…..To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness….To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness….The Lord our God is righteous in all the world he has done”(Daniel 9:4,7,9,14)
Does this tremendous sense of His holy majesty, His moral perfection, and His gracious faithfulness keep us humble and dependent, awed and obedient, as it did Daniel? By this test, too, we measure how much, or how little, we know God.
The Christians were experiencing a very difficult time when God call John aside to the Isle of Patmos and gave him the Revelation. At this time the church was being intensely persecuted by Rome. Many Christians had been arrested and many had been tortured and executed for their faith. Stories of their sufferings included them being coated with pitch and set on fire to light the streets. Others were thrown into the arena with wild beast, tied to horses and pulled apart and every manner of a tortured death imaginable for their refusal to denounce their faith. Many had fled, others had been driven to the catacombs of Rome, hiding in fear. It was a dark time for the church. Believers were wondering where God was in the midst of their suffering and why He had not come to deliver them. They wondered if evil and the Devil were overcoming the good and even if somehow God had lost control. It was in this sitting that God calls John to heaven and provided him and us heaven’s view of all that is and will be happening on earth right up until the end of things as we know them now and the beginning of the eternity that God has designed and created.
John begins his writing by giving us a living instruction about how we respond in adversity. He opens with these words:
“I, John, your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patient endurance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos, [exiled there] because of [my preaching of] the word of God [regarding eternal salvation] and the testimony of Jesus Christ. I was in the Spirit [in special communication with the Holy Spirit and empowered to receive and record the revelation from Jesus Christ] on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet….”
What John describes is the believer that chooses to worship God even in the midst of adversity. John is on Patmos, a barren rock in the middle of the Mediterranean. He is alone, no doubt hungry and his seat and bed is bare rock. We do not know what he had suffered before being placed there. But it was Sunday, the Lord’s Day, so he began to worship and became caught up with the Spirit, the presence of God. Sometimes we must choose to worship even in the times of trial and distress.
John tells us as he worshipped and he “was in the Spirit….” he heard behind him a loud voice. When he turned he saw Jesus in all of His majesty and glory. Read his description in Revelation 1:12-20. To me the fact that John heard the voice behind him and had to turn tells me that he was looking the wrong way. I wonder if that is not sometimes our problem. Are we looking at the things of the world, focused on all the calamity around us? Are we spending more time listening to and watching the reports of all the happenings around us rather than spending that time with God and hearing His response? I don’t know, but I do know that it was significant that John had to turn around to see Jesus. I believe in this hour we should live what we sing. “My hope is built on nothing les than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not claim the sweetest fame but wholly lean on Jesus name. On Christ the Solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand, All other ground is sinking sand. When He shall come with trumpet sound,may I then in Him be found, Dressed in His righteousness alone, Faultless to stand before the throne.”
What Revelation provides us is the truth that God is the Sovereign Lord over all things. It tells us that even after the rapture of the church and the Antichrist seemingly controlling the whole world to such a degree that none can buy nor sell without the mark of the beast, that God is seated upon the throne and nothing is happening outside His control or knowledge. If God is in control during the Great Tribulation when Satan appears to be orchestrating all things on the earth, and He is, then surely He has control of all that’s taking place now. I do not pretend to understand all of the plans and ways of God. I do not have a prophetic word about how all these things are going to turn out. I don’t know if or when the pandemic will end, or the violence and divisions cease, or if there will ever be peace and safety in the world again. But this I know and it’s obvious from the prophetic books of the Bible, that at the end of it all God has His way. Though He may be patient and allow humans and all the forces of evil to have their way for a season, He will come and set all things right. None of His plans and purposes can be delayed, denied or destroyed.
We know that when God raised up Moses to deliver the Israelites that Satan moved the heart of Pharaoh to kill all the male infants of the Hebrews. But in spite of the power of Pharaoh and the plans of the devil, Moses was preserved and the very ruler that had set out to destroy God’s deliverer wound up bringing Moses into his household and paying Moses’ mother to take care of him. So you see though it seemed that Satan was going to prevent God plan, he failed and literally God turned the tables by having the devil’s tool work for His purposes.
We read that when Christ came, again Satan moved on Herod’s heart to execute all Jewish babies two years old and under. But God who knew the plot before, revealed to the Magi the birth of a king and they traveled to Bethlehem with gifts that no doubt Joseph used to finance their journey to Egypt to keep Jesus safe. The irony to me is that God would use the very nation that had enslaved the Hebrews to the the nation that provided safety for His Son. Once again the plot of Satan failed.
We see that Satan entered the heart of Judas so he would betray Jesus. He moved on the religious leaders and Pilate and the people to crucify Christ, thinking that with God being in the flesh,if he could destroy that flesh, he would destroy the Son of God. “But on the third day, the stone was rolled away, the angel said, ‘ Mary, go and tell, that the Son of God is risen, hallelujah, Jesus is alive and well!”
Throughout history, there have been plagues, persecutions, evil of all kinds, apostasy and false teachers, and a turning from God. But the church still overcomes and just when it’s the darkest and the hopeless God moves again and His plan and purposes continue to be carried out.
As you read through the book of Revelation, you will find that even during the most horrible happenings on earth, the people of God are preserved and kept. Even those who are martyred are only so because their work is done and in their death they are caught up to God and their souls are kept.
Daniel who was a captive and a slave in one of the most powerful empires the world has ever known, an empire that certainly wasn’t godly, tells us that it is God to raises up leaders and takes down leaders for it is God who is ultimately in control.
May we find our hope and peace in the fact that our Savior is also Lord and that He not only rules and reigns in our hearts. It over the universe.
“Have this same attitude in yourselves which was in Christ Jesus [look to Him as your example in selfless humility], who, although He existed in the form and unchanging essence of God [as One with Him, possessing the fullness of all the divine attributes—the entire nature of deity], did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped or asserted [as if He did not already possess it, or was afraid of losing it]; but emptied Himself [without renouncing or diminishing His deity, but only temporarily giving up the outward expression of divine equality and His rightful dignity] by assuming the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men [He became completely human but was without sin, being fully God and fully man]. After He was found in [terms of His] outward appearance as a man [for a divinely-appointed time], He humbled Himself [still further] by becoming obedient [to the Father] to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also [because He obeyed and so completely humbled Himself], God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow [in submission], of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess and openly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord (sovereign God), to the glory of God the Father.”
One day we all will bow, some in adoration, some because of fear, some because of command, but all will bow. Every created being, every human and every angel including atheists and even the devil himself will bow and all will proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord.
We have been given this great privilege now for to us who have received Christ as our Savior have also received the revelation that He is Lord over the universe and that He keeps us in every situation. Let us bow before Him in trust and confidence the He who feeds the sparrow and tends the lilies of the field will keep us in these troubled days.
Till He comes!
Dr. John Thompson