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Rainbow Divider
MCM Broadcast

TV Broadcast #1322

God Rules
Part One

February 4, 2018

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— Brother Phil Enlow: Praise the Lord! I find it particularly interesting that some of the songs that were sung, that we haven’t necessarily sung that recently…but I believe they jive with some of the thoughts that I’ve been having and I’m just trusting the Lord as to what He wants to say and how He wants to emphasize things this morning.

But I was thinking about the sovereignty of God and the fact that God rules. The Bible is full of it. You know, we look at the world and we see the visible world. We see the power structures. We see nations. We see kingdoms and political systems and all of that…and within the context of our individual lives, we see this and that, and people and all of that.

But I’ll tell you, there’s another world beyond all of that and there’s a God beyond all of that who is working out something that He has planned from all eternity. And so, I just want to focus a little bit on some scriptures along that line because it affects every one of us, obviously, in one way or another. It affects everybody in the world whether they want to acknowledge it or not.

But turn, if you will, to Daniel chapter 4, a familiar passage…and let’s visit for a bit with a famous emperor of the ancient world called Nebuchadnezzar. You know, God…it’s evident from many things in scripture without going into the details, that God raised this man up, though he didn’t know God. God had a purpose in raising up and allowing this empire to exist and He actually used them to judge Israel, which had just been persistent in their rebellion.

No matter what God did, whether He blessed them, whether He sent adversity or judgment upon them, they went their own way. There was a stubbornness of heart. And, the scripture even tells us that He did everything He could. He sent prophets. He did everything possible that He could do to reach them until there was no remedy. And the only thing that was left to do was to bring the judgment that He had been warning them about and He used a man named Nebuchadnezzar.

But Nebuchadnezzar was a heathen king. He believed in worshiping the gods of the various nations. And we know from…well, we know outside of scripture, but we know from scripture for sure that basically we’re talking about demon powers that they consorted with. And so one nation would rise against another and they would call upon their gods and they’d go to war. But they didn’t have a clue—none of these people had a clue what was really going on…what was really behind the scenes and who was really directing the affairs of men.

And so, the Lord had a way of teaching Nebuchadnezzar and he brought Daniel and the three Hebrew children, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, into his service and began to train them and one circumstance after another led him to recognize, hey, their God is Somebody special. And, He’s certainly the God above gods and all of that.

But then, you come to chapter 4, and chapter 4 is basically written by Nebuchadnezzar as a proclamation to be sent to the ends of his kingdom. I mean, God had a way, not of just helping this particular man to see the truth about what’s going on in the world, but He wanted everybody to know. And so, not only had He raised him up to this place of prominence in world history, but He taught him some things, knowing that this man would then disseminate that knowledge to the ends of the earth. There is a God who is above all gods. Everything is under His control. You need to acknowledge and worship Him.

So, he says, “To the peoples, nations and men of every language, who live in all the world: May you prosper greatly! It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me. How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an eternal kingdom; his dominion endures from generation to generation.

“I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at home in my palace, contented and prosperous. I had a dream that made me afraid. As I was lying in my bed, the images and visions that passed through my mind terrified me. So I commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be brought before me to interpret the dream for me. When the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners came, I told them the dream, but they could not interpret it for me. Finally, Daniel came into my presence and I told him the dream.” (NIV).

And, the king had actually called him Belteshazzar after the name of his own god. So that’s what he knew at this point. But anyway, he tells him the dream and it’s…let’s see, basically, “I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in you, and no mystery is too difficult for you. Here is my dream; interpret it for me. These are the visions I saw while lying in my bed: I looked, and there before me stood a tree in the middle of the land. Its height was enormous.

“The tree grew large and strong and its top touched the sky; it was visible to the ends of the earth. Its leaves were beautiful, its fruit abundant, and on it was food for all. Under it the beasts of the field found shelter, and the birds of the air lived in its branches; from it every creature was fed.” I mean, that’s quite an interesting picture there of something that was just amazing.

“In the visions I saw while lying in my bed, I looked, and there before me was a messenger, a holy one, coming down from heaven. He called in a loud voice: ‘Cut down the tree and trim off its branches; strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the animals flee from under it and the birds from its branches. But let the stump and its roots, bound with iron and bronze, remain in the ground, in the grass of the field. Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him live with the animals among the plants of the earth. Let his mind be changed from that of a man and let him be given the mind of an animal, till seven times pass by for him. The decision is announced by messengers….’”

Does that tell you who’s in control? I mean, there is literally a Word, a command. There was Somebody sitting on a throne and we know who it is. And He literally gave an edict and said, let this come to pass. Well, when God given an edict, guess what? It comes to pass. There’s no one that can, as he says later, as he realizes later, no one can tell Him what to do.

“…Declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of men.”

So, this is the dream…and he tells Daniel, asks Daniel to interpret it, and Daniel is afraid because he knows it’s a message, a negative message for Nebuchadnezzar. And, he answered down below, he says, “My lord, if only the dream applied to your enemies and its meaning to your adversaries! The tree you saw, which grew large and strong, with its top touching the sky, visible to the whole earth….”

That’s interesting…visible to the whole earth. You see the imagery there. This is someone that God raised so that everybody in the known world at that time knew Nebuchadnezzar—knew who he was. And so forth…he says, it’s you, you, O king. He goes on and describes it.

“…You, O king, are that tree! You have become great and strong; your greatness has grown until it reaches the sky, and your dominion extends to distant parts of the earth. You, O king, saw a messenger, a holy one, coming down from heaven and saying, ‘Cut down the tree and destroy it, but leave the stump, bound with iron and bronze, in the grass of the field, while its roots remain in the ground. Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven; let him live with the wild animals, until seven times pass by for him.’”

And I’ll just comment on this. I don’t know what seven times means. I’ve heard people say, oh it’s seven years. I know it’s longer than seven days ‘cause his hair grew out and his nails like eagles’ claws, but whatever it was, it was enough time for him to be considered just an insane, lost cause, living like an animal.

But anyway, “This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree…” Note that. “…This is the decree the Most High has issued against my lord the king: You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle and be drenched with the dew of heaven. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes. The command to leave the stump of the tree with its roots means that your kingdom will be restored to you when you acknowledge that Heaven rules.” Praise God!

“Therefore, O king, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue.”

And so anyway…so there’s about a year later…you know, you tend to get excited and pay attention to things like that and if nothing happens right away, we kind of forget about it and just go back to the way things were. So now, all of a sudden, he’s stepping out on a high place on his palace, looking around…maybe he’s seeing the Hanging Gardens of Babylon that were quite the wonder of the ancient world.

And he says, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” No pride there! “The words were still on his lips when a voice came from heaven, This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes.”

And of course, immediately that happened and he went out there and it says in another verse or two, “…until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.”

Boy, can you imagine what that must have looked like to the people of his day? I mean, there’s Nebuchadnezzar, this great king…all of a sudden, where’s he been lately? Oh, there he is out there in the fields…that crazy looking guy who looks like an animal. He’s out there eating with the cattle. But isn’t it amazing that God who issued the decree in the first place was able to manage things such that his kingdom was secure to him? I mean, I’ll tell you, we’ve got a God who rules.

( congregational amens ).

We’ve got a God who’s in charge and He does exactly as he says later…He does what He pleases. So, “At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion…” It’s not just a kingdom that comes and goes with somebody’s lifetime. “…His kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: What have you done?”

Wow! You know, I really wonder, if the degree to which he came to acknowledge the Lord, I really wonder if we’ll see him someday? I hope so. It’d be interesting to talk to him.

In any case, it says, “At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored.” We’ve got a God who can just touch a mind and touch anything He needs to touch. Boy, is He in charge. “Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion….” I think I just read this but that’s all right. It’s still true.

“At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before.”

So…isn’t there just a picture of that? You see what Job went through, and all that God accomplished in the life of Job. But when God was through with Job, he had more that he had before he started.

Isn’t that always God’s aim with every single one of us? No matter what He uses to bring us to that place where He wants us to be, where we’re genuinely humbled under His mighty hand, always the aim of God is to lift us up and to give us more than we could possibly have had under any other circumstances. So I’ll tell you what, I want to be…I want to humble myself in His mighty hand, don’t you? Praise God! He is absolutely in control.

And so, now he says, “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.” Praise God, I want to humble myself, don’t you?

And humbling…as we’ve said so many times, humbling ourselves is not groveling and playacting. It’s recognizing the way it really is…that He’s God and we’re not, but also, that He’s a merciful and loving God.

I’m so glad that this man came to the point where, in spite of what He had been through, he didn’t say, God, what’s the matter with You? You’re a mean tyrant. How dare You treat me that way. You could’ve just explained all this to me and it would’ve been just fine. I’ll tell you, God does what He does to accomplish an eternal purpose, but men react very differently, don’t they?

And you know, one of the thoughts that I’ve had very clearly come to me, repeatedly, is that there is an amazing balance between the absolute sovereignty of God who has planned every detail, more than we can possibly imagine…there’s a balance between that reality and the fact that He holds us responsible for our choices.

You know, I think about another man that He raised up and made a great emperor out of him and it was Pharaoh in Egypt. And the scripture even says, I raised you up, but I raised you up to show my power to the ends of the earth. But Pharaoh had a different kind of spirit, didn’t he?

And, I think there are some people emphasize the sovereignty of God to the point where there’s no will, there’s no real responsibility on the part of man, but it doesn’t go that far. God knew the kind of man that Pharaoh was, knew how he’d react. Did not Nebuchadnezzar say, He raises up the meanest among men, the lowest among men? He can put anybody in a place of authority.

Well, He had a character there in Pharaoh that He knew to be a prideful man. And God was going to bring a great deliverance to His people and teach them wonderful things about who He was and His power, but in the process He took a man that He knew…He knew how he’d react. And so, all He had to do was say, “Let my people go.” And He knew that man was gonna bow up and resist Him.

And so, for him, for Pharaoh, it wasn’t exactly a picnic, was it? It was one butting his head against the wall constantly. I’ll tell you what, we need to live, as believers especially, we need to live with a knowledge of who rules! We need to understand that He has planned everything!

I don’t know how to express some of this. You remember how David, in Psalm 139…did you ever take notice of what he said? He said, all my days, “…were written in your book before one of them came to be.” This is not just a God who is in control right now. This is a God who has got everything planned to come out a certain way in the end. Praise God, I want to be part of that plan! I want to be submitted to that plan. I want to be on board with exactly the way He has planned.

I’ll tell you…God knows…it’s amazing when I think about it. The ability of a God to sit outside of time and observe the complexity of human history and how we have come to this place, and how He knew about you and me before the foundation of the world.

But you think about what it took to get to this point…go back 500 years and if a guy turned right instead of left he would have missed seeing somebody and marrying them. You think about the implications…you and I wouldn’t be here if every little detail, every little thing hadn’t been managed over all these centuries…everyone who married, everyone who had a child, everyone whose child lived, whether they lived or died…I mean, the complexity of that ought to stagger our imagination when you think about what a great God this is. Oh man, I want to trust Him. I want to love Him.

Sometimes it’s easy for us to look at the world in which we live, which…it’s a scary place, if you look at it the wrong way. But it’s almost like, sometimes I think we see the Devil just kind of loose, doing his thing and God is almost in a reactive point of view, a reactive place. Okay, the Devil has done this. Now God is gonna have a conference and come up with a solution, to come up with some way to react and to handle it. I’ll tell you, God is the one who sent the decree in the first place!

( congregational response ).

Even if the Devil does something, even if a Hitler arises, do you realize that God was the One who decreed all of that? I’ll tell you, there’s a God who manages human history! And we need to see the goodness of God and not the other side of it!

As I said earlier, if people…all they get is just what they want and catering to their flesh, we would live and die and never seek God, never care. But God uses the difficulties of life. He uses adversity. And how we react to that has everything to do with which direction we go. Oh my, I want to surrender to Him. I mean, you could…you see this throughout the scripture.

I mean, you go through the Book of Isaiah and you will see constantly how God has raised up this one or He’s raised up that one to judge this one. And then He turns around and judges them. There is a…no one is coming to a throne without God’s permission! No kingdom is raised up except God has allowed that.

I remember one situation that happened in the nation of Israel—the Northern Kingdom of Israel. The wickedness of one of the houses…it might have been Ahab, I’m not sure, I didn’t go back and look this up. But there was such incredible wickedness there that God was determined to judge it. And He raised up a man named Jehu and gave him the job of judging that and avenging God for all the wickedness that had been done. But Jehu himself was no prize. And there came a time when God had to turn around and deal with him!

I mean, this is an amazing thing how God has to manage human history. He judged His people Israel repeatedly. You read in Isaiah, chapter after chapter, in the early part, that God will denounce them for their sins and He will raise up some foreign power to come and wreak judgment upon them and then turn around and judge that power for their own evil and their own wickedness.

But Isaiah 40, verse 22 is a familiar passage. It talks about how, “He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth….” All the inhabitants of the earth are like grasshoppers in His sight. All the nations are about like a little bit of dust. You know, you see a little bit of dust…there’s all the nations.

( blowing ).

Man, it needs to give us some perspective. Praise God! And what about Isaiah…I’m gonna go ahead and turn to this one. Isaiah 45 is a familiar scripture we’ve heard many times over the years. But this is a prophecy quite a long time before it happened.

And it says, “This is what the LORD says to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before him and to strip kings of their armor, to open doors before him so that gates will not be shut: I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down…” and so forth. He talks about all these things that He’s gonna do.

This was a hundred or two hundred years…I don’t remember the time scale exactly, but this was a long time before this man ever came to power. I mean, Babylon had not yet conquered Israel, and the Persians were the ones who came in and conquered Babylon, and Cyrus was the king that he was talking about, like two centuries down the line. And there’s God already…knows his name, already planned exactly what’s gonna happen.

And now in verse 4, he says, “For the sake of Jacob my servant, of Israel my chosen, I summon you by name and bestow on you a title of honor, though you do not acknowledge me. I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God.”

You get this picture continually in the Word of God, that there is a God who rules in the armies of heaven. Praise God! You know, Psalm 33 reminds us that, “…the plans of the LORD stand firm…” I mean, He has plans and nothing can stop them.