Monday, May 02, 2011

Daniel 4:34-35 and the Sovereignty of God

“But at the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever; 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?’” (Daniel 4:34–35)
I want to get in the habit of more regularly blogging my thoughts and arguments.  The reason I haven't always done so is because of, a) lack of time or b) nothing super-profound to say.  Of course, my primary focus of this blog is to bring God glory through the proclamation of the truth, assist those who are searching, and to engage in intelligent, respectful dialogue.  In addition, i'd like to hold myself accountable for what I believe.  And sometimes the best way to do this is to be vulnerable to public correction; something that having a blog with open comments can certainly do.  Sometimes your critics can be your best friend in helping one to sharpen, refine, or completely abandon held beliefs.  

With that said, if anyone would like to see something addressed, please don't hesitate to EMAIL ME or leave a question in the comments.  

Daniel 4:34-35 is a text which has always provoked some thought with regards to the sovereignty of God.  Is God in control or is He not?  That is, do some things happen in this world that God possibly allowed but had no involvement with?  Sometimes, we think that when bad things happen, God had nothing to do with it.  Again, He might have permitted it to take place, but certainly didn't decree it.  Perhaps I can put it very plainly: God only decrees good things; but man and the natural world cause bad things.  

"All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing" is the utterance of praise from the pagan king, Nebuchadnezzar.  This doesn't mean that God has no concern for the earth and its inhabitants, for the next part of this verse states, "but He does according to His will in the host of heaven."  That is, all the inhabitants are accounted as nothing in that they cannot thwart God's will.  

This raises some interesting questions for consideration.  Is God's sovereign decree, as stated in Daniel 4:34-35, related only to some things that happen in this world or all things?  If its only related some things, then would this not suggest that God is not in full control of all that happens in this world?  If God merely allows some things to happen, what would be His purpose in doing so?  Why "allow" some things to happen while at the same time "decreeing" other things to happen?

Depending on where you stand, your answers to these questions could profoundly affect how you view the world that you live in as well as the one you worship and declare as Sovereign. 

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mike,

We can't read too much into these words. While your point may well be accurate, there is no reason to believe these words were inspired, only that the recording of them was.

Dave

The Apologetic Front said...

Good point, Dave. I suppose I viewed them as such given they are in complete harmony with inspired writings.

ezice said...

Good post and questions Mike. As you know, I spent a lot of years as a JW and my thinking is molded by my past. Something I'm trying to shake off, but still have thoughts and beliefs that are related to the way I've always seen things. One thing I want to ask about this topic is this. How do you feel as to where Satans influence factors in to all the bad things we see happening in the world? Is he responsible for bad, if so to what extent? This is one of the major roadblocks for me in "Reformed Theology". Unless I misunderstand (which is quite likely), it seems like Satan doesn't get blamed for any of the evil we see being done in the world, because, as the thinking goes, "God is in control", and as such everything that happens is according to his Sovereign decree. Please share with me what I'm missing here. Blessings in Christ, DB

The Apologetic Front said...

@Ezice,

Good question. I would hesitate in saying that Satan would get all the blame for the evil in the world, as we humans should always take responsibility for our actions (e.g. "Satan made me do it").

However, I think Job provides a very interesting insight to this question. Maybe this blog I wrote will display some of this:

http://www.theapologeticfront.com/2008/07/thoughts-from-job.html

ezice said...

I totally agree that we humans are to blame for a lot of the bad things happening. I guess we all have to come to some conclusions in our mind about where the blame lies for specific things. For example, who is to blame for the devastating storms last week down your way. Was God responsible or was Satan or was man because of environmental abuse? I suppose it would depend on our perspective. The one thing I don't like is when people try to say God caused something like this as a form of punishment for certain things like Homosexuality or the like. This is what some radical reformed groups do. I know they are a small percentage, but it still concerns me.

The Apologetic Front said...

@Dann,

I think I agree with what you've said here. To claim to know the specific reason as to why a natural disaster happened (i.e. homosexuality, immorality, etc.) is completely unwarranted. We all live in a sin-cursed world and God is completely within His right to exercise judgment in any way He sees fit. But I don't think there is any way to know anything beyond this.

On the other hand, I don't see how its theologically possible to think that God is not in control of nature. God has a plan and a purpose in everything; even in natural disasters. Could he be judging specific sins? Maybe. Could he have another purpose? Maybe. Does he have every right to cause such things? Yes.