“the Most High God is sovereign over all”Daniel 4:17, NIV
I finished my study of the gospel of Luke the other day, and as I considered what to study next, I realized that I’d been focused on the New Testament for quite a while. I decided it was time to head back in time and back in my Bible to the Old Testament. The Lord led me to the book of Daniel, which I’d read before, but never studied.
Sometimes, before studying a book, I like to get a feel for its background: the author, the setting, the purpose, the recipients. The text won’t always tell you these things, but it’s worth looking for them.
This time, after reading through the book, I decided to look at who were the main characters. (And by using the word character I don’t mean to imply that these weren’t real people and real events.)
Of course, Daniel stood out, and I reread the book to find out what I could learn from the text about him. There was a lot. I jotted down what I’d noticed and also what his actions and words told me about the man. I also made note of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and the kings.
When I sat down to study today, I realized I’d left out the most important participant in the story: God. How could I have missed including God? Looking back over just chapter one the answer to my question was clear: We can trust the truth: God is sovereign over all. It showed me how involved God was in the events described in this book:
- “Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand” (Daniel 1:1-2, NIV)
- God caused the official overseeing Daniel and his 3 fellow Jews to “show favor and compassion to Daniel” (Daniel 1:9, NIV).
- God gave Daniel and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego “knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds” (Daniel 1:17, NIV).
As I said, that’s just chapter one! Throughout the book of Daniel, we see God at work—in kings and in common men, in the lives of His chosen people and in the lives of those who don’t know Him. We see Him gifting and protecting those who acknowledge Him and serve Him, and punishing those who don’t.
It just brought home to me the truth that God is at work in all of history: past and present, just as He will be at work in all of the future. We sometimes hear history referred to as His Story, and though the word doesn’t have those roots, the meaning is right on: History is God’s story. He is the author. He is the director. He is the one in charge.
Remember these events that so clearly show God’s involvement in the world?
- The virgin Mary conceives and bears a child.
- Sarah, who has been barren and is well past the age of being able to have children, gives birth to a son.
- The walls of Jericho fell—without any weapons being drawn.
In the midst of life, we often forget that truth: God is in control. We read of shootings, and wars, and hate. We experience financial difficulties and sickness and the loss of loved ones. The events around us may cause us to wonder if God truly is in charge. And even if we aren’t consciously thinking that way, we may, without realizing it, be living that way. With uncertainty and fear. With grumbling and complaining. With a sense of emptiness.
If that’s where you’re at right now, I encourage you to get back to His Word. Maybe you’ll decide to read the book of Daniel. Maybe you’ll choose a different book. It doesn’t matter. We see God at work throughout Scripture.
Hebrews 11, the great faith chapter, begins this way: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (NIV).
Do you have faith? Then have confidence. Trust that God has been and continues to be at work. He is at work in the world and, thus, He is at work in your life. What a blessing to know this and to hold on to it, even in difficult times.
I pray that God will reveal this truth to you in a new way this day, and that knowing the truth, you will be able to live the truth.
Soul Refreshers for your week:
- Praise God that He is a great, loving, and powerful God. Thank Him for the assurance that He is in control—of the world around you and the world within you.
- Think about these verses this week to remind you that He is indeed in control of all things.
- “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will” (Proverbs 21:1, ESV).
- “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God” (Romans 13:1, NIV).
- “it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13, NIV)
- “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:1, NIV).
- “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23, NIV).