Despite human pretensions, history demonstrates the impermanence of political power. Rome may have endured for a thousand years, but its empire fell all the same. Like life itself, political power and imperial ambitions are fleeting, and they often collapse quickly and unexpectedly. Its allotted time expires.
At the height of his power, the absolute monarch of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, boasted before heaven and earth, “Is not this Babylon the great and exceptional kingdom that I built by the MIGHT OF MY POWER and for the glory of my majesty?” His boast was not an idle one. Babylon was one of the great powers of the ancient world.
After destroying the remnants of the Assyrian Empire, and having subjugated Syria and the kingdom of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar expanded Babylonian rule right up the border of Egypt. But in Daniel, his presumptuous words and imperial ambitions received an immediate response from an angelic figure:
- “O King Nebuchadnezzar the dominion has departed from you…until you come to know that it is the Most-High who has dominion over the kingdom of men, and to whomever he pleases, he gives it” — (Daniel 4:28–33).
Consequently, the king lost his rational mind and was driven from society to live like an animal. After “seven seasons” his mind restored, and he lifted his eyes to heaven and declared:
- “And at the end of the days, I, Nebuchadnezzar, my eyes to the heavens did uplift, and my understanding returned to me, and the Most-High I blessed, and to him that lives everlastingly I rendered praise and honor, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; and all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and according to his own pleasure deals he with the army of the heavens and the inhabitants of the earth, and none there is who can smite upon his hand or say to him, What hast thou done?” — (Daniel 4:34–35).
From time immemorial, kings, emperors, dictators, and presidents have engaged in the imperial conceit of this magnitude — the Babylonian monarch’s boast was nothing new. His kingdom was the greatest and most exceptional power the world had yet seen. But within two generations his empire was overthrown and replaced by an even greater power. the “kingdom of the Medes and the Persians.” And it has been thus throughout human history.
Nebuchadnezzar should have known better. He had learned the same lesson when he received a troubling dream that only Daniel could interpret. The king saw a “great image” with a head of gold, breast and arms of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, and legs of iron with feet of iron mixed with clay. But a “stone cut out without hands” struck that great image, pulverizing it, and that small “stone” became a “mountain that filled the whole earth” — (Daniel 2:31–45).
The “great image” represented four successive world-power wannabes, beginning with Babylon. But the final kingdom would fill the whole earth after the demise of those four imperial powers. Thus, the end of Babylon was inevitable. Political power would pass from one regime to another until the day God “set up a kingdom for the ages that shall not be destroyed.” The “stone” that destroyed the “great image” symbolized the everlasting kingdom appointed by Yahweh destined to replace ALL EXISTING POLITICAL POWERS.
At the time, Daniel declared that God alone “changes times and seasons, removes kings and sets up kings.” According to His own purposes, He gives dominion to even the “basest of men.” Nebuchadnezzar himself declared, “Your God is God of gods and Lord of kings,” thereby acknowledging that his sovereignty was derived from a higher power. Political authority comes from God and no regime can reign without His say-so — THERE IS NO EXCEPTION TO THE RULE.
This is a key theme in Daniel — God gives rulership to whomever He pleases. It begins in the first paragraph of the book. The capture of Jerusalem, the captivity of Judah, and the destruction of its Temple all occurred in accord with God’s purposes. The “Lord gave the king of Judah into Nebuchadnezzar’s hand with the vessels of the House of God” — (Daniel 1:1–2).
Despite that national disaster, Yahweh used Daniel to direct the policies of the Babylonian empire that had overthrown the kingdom of Judah. Yahweh enabled him to do what none of the astrologers, priests, “wise men,” economists, bankers, or soothsayers of Babylon could do — Recount and interpret the king’s dream. The result was the elevation of Daniel to a high position where he influenced the course of the empire — (Daniel 2:1–49).
God uses His sovereign power to accomplish His purposes regardless of human intentions and machinations. He is never surprised by the plans of men. Kingdoms endure until He decides otherwise. Rulers who presume too much risk their removal from power.
History confirms that all kingdoms, empires, and regimes without exception fell — Greece, Rome, Byzantium — all rose to great heights only to collapse, often under their own weight.
No nation today is an exception to the rule. Not one is indispensable to God and His purposes. His redemptive plan is to fill the whole earth with His righteous reign under the authority of His Messiah. All other governing powers are impermanent realities — fleeting powers and “perishing meat.” In the grand scheme of things, investing time and resources in the political institutions of this age is a fool’s errand.
Yahweh promised a day when His anointed ruler would sit at His right hand and rule until He made all his enemies his footstool. He would give His Son the “uttermost parts of the earth for his possession.” Though the nations raged and opposed “His anointed one,” he was destined to rule them all — (Psalm 2:6–9, 110:1–4).
The New Testament is explicit and uncompromising. Not only is Jesus this very “Son” and “anointed” ruler, his messianic reign on the “throne of David” commenced after his death and resurrection. As the risen Jesus declared to his disciples — “ALL authority in heaven and on the earth has been given to me.”
Before his exaltation to reign at the “right hand of God,” Jesus commanded his disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they had received the Spirit, then they would become his witnesses “to the uttermost part of the earth,” an echo of the second Psalm — (“the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession”). As the gospel is proclaimed among the nations, so the reign of God’s anointed king is extended across the earth.
Having received the Spirit, Peter declared that the very man rejected by the Jews had been raised from the dead and installed to rule from the “right hand of God.” It was not King David who ascended into heaven, but Jesus, and therefore, God had made him “both Lord and Christ” just as He had promised — (Acts 2:34–36).
When Yahweh raised Jesus from the dead, He placed him “far above all rule, authority, power, dominion, and every name that is named, and he put all things in subjection under his feet.” Because of his obedience, He gave Jesus a “name which is above every name” — (Ephesians 1:20–22, Philippians 2:6–11).
By his death, Jesus “despoiled the powers and principalities,” triumphing over them. By his resurrection, he became the “firstborn of the dead” and in “all things preeminent.” Already he reigns, and all angels, powers, and authorities have been subject to him — (Colossians 1:16–18, 2:15, 1 Peter 3:22).
Just as the God of Daniel ruled over the kingdoms of men, so His anointed Son now reigns over all things. He is the “ruler of the kings of the earth.” No nation, government, political party, or ideology is beyond his reach or indispensable to his purposes. Thus, Jesus reigns over all things without exceptions!
[Published originally at christorcaesar.org]
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