Consider Daniel's wisdom shared by God's instruction with King Nebuchadnezzar.
"This is the interpretation, O King, and 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 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... Therefore, O King, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing which is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your property will continue." Daniel 4:24-27
As we conclude this week our study on the book of Daniel, I am struck by the relevance of Daniel's words for the king. We have been celebrating our freedom as Americans over the past few weeks with the Memorial Day and 4th of July holidays. These occasions are so special to us as we pause to reflect on the abundant blessing we share as residents of a land where liberty, justice, and the pursuit of happiness are values which we invest in together to gain for all. I have shared some special moments with my grandfathers over these holidays. One is a World War II veteran, the other a political leader, both were farmers. Each gave years of their lives in hopes that they could contribute to strengthening and steering our nation. I have been blessed to hear over the years, and in recent days the stories of your Father's and Mothers as well. One of the most incredible aspects of our democracy is that our ancestors were the ones who contributed to the design and protection of the government we now inherit.
As we celebrate the generations which have given towards our freedom, and our sons and daughters who contribute to our society still, we are at the same time called to continually hold our nation, as well as ourselves, accountable through prayer and action. In the above paragraph Daniel breaks it to the king that his arrogance, his indifference for God's reign (even over kings and governments) and his disregard for the poor was going to bring about his destruction. I find one line particularly humbling and important, "...until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men."
I had to stop and ponder those words. They gave to me several important questions: Do I acknowledge God's sovereignty (presence and ultimate power) over all things? Do I live my life in such a way that no earthy power, government, leader, or influence is more important to me that God? Do I come humbly before God and others or am I puffed up thinking "I'm the best?"
As we have read the book of Daniel we have discovered the power of one man who gives ultimate allegiance to God. When the king decreed that all must stop praying Daniel was torn. He believed it was his duty to be loyal to the king. Yet his ultimate loyalty was with God. Daniel prayed in spite of the King's decree, the Lord rescued him, and the King learned about the strength of Daniel's God.
We are each only one member of our society. Yet the story of America is that one person can, and will continually change the course of history.
I believe this is a critical time for our nation. Some will debate loudly and that may be their call. Others like Daniel will go into their rooms and pray for God's forgiveness, God's guidance, and God's help. Others like Daniel will make brave choices about how they live their lives according to God's guidance; choices which may go against the grain of culture or cut against the will of the powerful, but ultimately reveal God's will. I encourage us to each heed Daniels words and consider how we can demonstrate in our daily lives that God is sovereign, God alone reigns.
This week pray for our nation:
For political leaders to acknowledge God's sovereignty and hold themselves accountable to God's justice.
For businesses large and small to consider how they can contribute to building a just and equitable society.
For God's wisdom to be over and through all who make decisions regarding war and foreign relations.
For God's protection and daily guidance be with all who serve our nation.
For each of us that we can be among those who guide our nation in just and righteous ways through how we conduct our business and use our voice.
Also pray for:
Those who are grieving
Those who are undergoing cancer treatment, having surgery, or are in need of healing.