The theme of Daniel is God is sovereign. God controls history, the nations, the lives of believers and non-believers. God uses people's circumstances for His plans to come about. God's plans are always good.
My women's group is doing a study (As Silver Refined - Answer's to Life's Disappointments by Kay Arthur*) and there are three chapters which talk about God's sovereignty:
Chapter 7 - Facing the Pain - The Safety of His Sovereignty
Chapter 8 - Peace Amid the Pain - Profiles of Trust in God's Sovereignty
Chapter 9 - A Truth to Buy - Deeper Discoveries in God's Sovereignty
We have only read and discussed the first of these three chapters. Kay Arthur says in chapter 7 of the study, "The single most powerful, liberating, peace-giving truth I've learned in God's Word is the fact that He is sovereign." I couldn't agree more. It has completely shaped my mindset. Something happens; I begin to worry; I pray to God about it; I find peace; I take it back and start worrying about it again; I remember God's sovereignty and find peace again;... I continually have to remind myself that God has this! He heard my prayer. He answers my prayer. And that answer, even if it doesn't turn out the way I want, is His will and is meant for my good. The concept of God's sovereignty is foundational for your faith journey. First you must recognize God's character. He is sovereign, loving, good, merciful, just, holy,... And then when you soak that in, you find the safety in His character.
Since it is such a big concept we need to get down, I asked the women in my group to read the first half of the book of Daniel over break and I would send them some information. We are specifically looking for indications in the text of God's sovereignty. I thought I would share this with you too and you might follow along with us.
For the history leading up to the book of Daniel, see my post, Get This One = Changed Forever! Remember the book of Daniel begins in world history when the nation of Judah is judged by God. The pagan king of Babylonia, Nebuchadnezzar, has taken over. Daniel and his friends are in exile in Babylon (modern day Iraq.)
For the notes on chapter 1 and 2 of Daniel, see my post Daniel Chapters 1 and 2.
When I say God is sovereign, I am referring to God as the Trinity - the Father, Son, and Spirit. See my post, Three in One - Elohim.
Daniel Chapter 3
Daniel 3:1 The image of gold was sixty cubits high and six cubits wide. That is 90 feet high and 9 feet wide! Whoa!! Not made of solid gold, but was plated of gold. Nebuchadnezzar made an idol. That is a no-no.
Daniel 3:2 Satraps are Persian officials. Important officials in the Medo-Persian government during the times of Daniel, Ezra, and Esther. (Source is the dictionary in the back of my NASB Bible.)
Prefects - Persian officials in this context. Prefects aren’t mentioned in the New Testament, but they existed under the Roman Empire. Matter-of-fact - in 1961 they found a stone with the inscription “Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea.” Early Jewish historian, Josephus, says Pilate was a procurator - same thing. I only know this because I teach in my class about how the Roman government was organized. Here is what I teach in class:
[The Romans conquered Judea and imposed a regional government. The Romans governed the region first through King Herod and his successors, then through prefects (such as Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem). The local king administered his kingdom as a client ruler. The Romans interest in Judea and Jerusalem was in having a stable and friendly area near Persia, Rome’s rival. The Romans then ruled Palestine directly, with an official called the prefect. Being prefect of Judea was not a good job. The Romans regarded Judea as a land inhabited by barbarians with a strange religion. Prefect had very few troops. The prefect left the day-to-day running of Judea and Jerusalem to the Jewish high priest.]
Back to Daniel.
3:17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. Notice the “If it be so” And notice verse 18 - even if He does not…
1984 NIV study Bible text note for 3:18 - Whether God decides to rescue them or not, their faith is fully resigned to His will. [Me: Oh, that we would have that same kind of faith!]
Every time I see the word “able” I think of Ephesians 3:20-21
Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.
A good verse to memorize and commit to your heart.
3:25 “like a son of the gods!” 1984 NIV study Bible text note - Nebuchadnezzar was speaking as a pagan polytheist and was content to conceive of the fourth figure as a lesser heavenly being sent by the all-powerful God of the Israelites. [Me: A polytheist is a person who believes in many gods. A monotheist is someone who believes in one sovereign God. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are the monotheistic religions and all began with the patriarch Abraham.]
3:26 He referred to Daniel’s friends as “servants of the Most High God”
3:27 They were not burned, singed or even had the smell of fire on them.
3:28 Nebuchadnezzar responds “Blessed be the God of … and delivered His servants who put their trust in Him,…
3:29 “there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way.”
Daniel Chapter 4
4:2-3 King Nebuchadnezzar begins the narrative at the end of the story after his recovery. His signs are great, His wonders are mighty, His kingdom everlasting, and His dominion is from generation to generation.
Do you realize the impact the king declaring this would have?!
Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and its interpretation:
4:17 "…in order that the living may know that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, and bestows it on whom He wishes and sets over it the lowliest of men."
4:23 “seven periods of time” The number “seven” in the Bible signifies completeness.
The dream was about Nebuchadnezzar.
4:25 “until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes.” God is sovereign.
4:26 “it is Heaven that rules.”
4:28 "All this happened to Nebuchadnezzar the king.” Of course it did. God said it would.
4:32 Again, "until you recognize that the Most High is ruler…”
4:33 “immediately” and “fulfilled” are words you will see frequently in the Bible. Especially in the New Testament. God always fulfills what He says He will do.
4:34-35 Nebuchadnezzar’s reasoning was restored; and he blessed, praised and honored God.
For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom endures from generation to generation.
All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth;
And no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’
Dominion means authority, rule.
God’s dominion is everlasting.
God’s kingdom is everlasting. A key word/concept in the New Testament is “kingdom of God.”
God does His will in heaven and among everyone here on earth.
No one can change God’s will.
No one can question His will because God is sovereign.
4:37 This pagan king of Babylonia realized who God is. Nebuchadnezzar praised, exalted and honored God. Why? Because all His works are true and His ways just. God is able to humble those who walk in pride.
Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged that God controls the universe and human kingdoms and that he (Nebuchadnezzar) does not. God can humble the proud and exalt the humble.
Nebuchadnezzar has himself become a witness to the faith. (ESV study Bible text notes)
ESV text note:
The great and mighty persecutor of Israel, the destroyer of Jerusalem, was humbled by God’s grace and brought to confess God’s mercy. He blessed the Most High, and praised and honored Him who lives forever. God used Daniels’ faithfulness to bring light to this Gentile. (Me - Gentile is a non-Jew.)
See that? God uses His faithful servants to be a light to the world. God used Daniel to bring Nebuchadnezzar to know God, who in turn impacted Babylonia.
God can do anything. He is sovereign.
But don’t miss that Daniel was faithful and a servant to God’s will.
So what application does this have for you? What does it have for our nation?
Think about it.
Again, as Kay Arthur said on page 117:
The single most powerful, liberating, peace-giving truth I’ve learned in God’s Word is the fact that He is sovereign.
Does God’s sovereignty comfort you? Does it give you peace?
God was and is on His throne. God is sovereign.
And how does God fulfill His plan for individuals and for nations? Through His faithful humble servants ready and eager to do His will.
This truth of God’s sovereignty, if you truly grasp it, is going to carry you through the storms of your life.
It will rock your world. It will transform your thinking.
Now read chapters 5 and 6.