God Reigns (Part 2 of 2)Daniel 4:1-37
As king over a great empire, Nebuchadnezzar enjoyed an easy, prosperous life—until a dream led to a lesson in humility. Listen to Truth For Life as Alistair Begg explains why we must swallow our pride before we can acknowledge God’s sovereign authority.
Why Are We Here?
We live to the Lord.Romans 14:8
If God had willed it, each of us might have entered heaven at the moment of conversion. It was not absolutely necessary for our preparation for immortality that we should linger here. It is possible for a man to be taken to heaven and to be found fit to partake in the inheritance of the saints in light, even though he has only just believed in Jesus. It is true that our sanctification is a long and continued process, and we shall not be perfected until we lay aside our bodies and enter within the veil; but nevertheless, if the Lord had wanted to, He could have changed us from imperfection to perfection and have taken us to heaven at once.
Why then are we here? Would God keep His children out of paradise a single moment longer than was necessary? Why is the army of the living God still on the battlefield when one charge might give them the victory? Why are His children still wandering here and there through a maze when a single word from His lips would bring them into the center of their hopes in heaven?
The answer is—they are here that they may “live to the Lord” and may bring others to know His love. We remain on earth as sowers to scatter good seed, as plowmen to break up the fallow ground, as heralds publishing salvation. We are here as “the salt of the earth,”1 to be a blessing to the world. We are here to glorify Christ in our daily life. We are here as workers for Him, and as workers together with Him. Let us see that our life fulfills this purpose. Let us live zealous, useful, holy lives, to “the praise of his glorious grace.”2
Meanwhile we long to be with Him and daily sing—
My heart is with Him on His throne,
And ill can brook delay;
Each moment listening for the voice,
“Rise up, and come away.”
1) Matthew 5:13
2) Ephesians 1:6
C.H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg.
Copyright © 2003, Good News Publishers and used by Truth For Life with written permission.
Today’s Bible Reading material is taken from McCheyne Bible reading plan and used by Truth For Life with permission. Scripture quotations are taken from Holy Bible: English Standard Version, copyright © 2001, Good News Publishers.
The Sabbatical Year
1“At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release. 2And this is the manner of the release: every creditor shall release what he has lent to his neighbor. He shall not exact it of his neighbor, his brother, because the Lord's release has been proclaimed. 3Of a foreigner you may exact it, but whatever of yours is with your brother your hand shall release. 4But there will be no poor among you; for the Lord will bless you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance to possess—5if only you will strictly obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all this commandment that I command you today. 6For the Lord your God will bless you, as he promised you, and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow, and you shall rule over many nations, but they shall not rule over you.
7“If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, 8but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be. 9Take care lest there be an unworthy thought in your heart and you say, ‘The seventh year, the year of release is near,’ and your eye look grudgingly1 on your poor brother, and you give him nothing, and he cry to the Lord against you, and you be guilty of sin. 10You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. 11For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’
12“If your brother, a Hebrew man or a Hebrew woman, is sold2 to you, he shall serve you six years, and in the seventh year you shall let him go free from you. 13And when you let him go free from you, you shall not let him go empty-handed. 14You shall furnish him liberally out of your flock, out of your threshing floor, and out of your winepress. As the Lord your God has blessed you, you shall give to him. 15You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this today. 16But if he says to you, ‘I will not go out from you,’ because he loves you and your household, since he is well-off with you, 17then you shall take an awl, and put it through his ear into the door, and he shall be your slave3 forever. And to your female slave4 you shall do the same. 18It shall not seem hard to you when you let him go free from you, for at half the cost of a hired worker he has served you six years. So the Lord your God will bless you in all that you do.
19“All the firstborn males that are born of your herd and flock you shall dedicate to the Lord your God. You shall do no work with the firstborn of your herd, nor shear the firstborn of your flock. 20You shall eat it, you and your household, before the Lord your God year by year at the place that the Lord will choose. 21But if it has any blemish, if it is lame or blind or has any serious blemish whatever, you shall not sacrifice it to the Lord your God. 22You shall eat it within your towns. The unclean and the clean alike may eat it, as though it were a gazelle or a deer. 23Only you shall not eat its blood; you shall pour it out on the ground like water.
Do Not Hide Your Face from Me
A Prayer of one afflicted, when he is faint and pours out his complaint before the Lord.
1Hear my prayer, O Lord;
let my cry come to you!
2Do not hide your face from me
in the day of my distress!
Incline your ear to me;
answer me speedily in the day when I call!
3For my days pass away like smoke,
and my bones burn like a furnace.
4My heart is struck down like grass and has withered;
I forget to eat my bread.
5Because of my loud groaning
my bones cling to my flesh.
6I am like a desert owl of the wilderness,
like an owl1 of the waste places;
7I lie awake;
I am like a lonely sparrow on the housetop.
8All the day my enemies taunt me;
those who deride me use my name for a curse.
9For I eat ashes like bread
and mingle tears with my drink,
10because of your indignation and anger;
for you have taken me up and thrown me down.
11My days are like an evening shadow;
I wither away like grass.
12But you, O Lord, are enthroned forever;
you are remembered throughout all generations.
13You will arise and have pity on Zion;
it is the time to favor her;
the appointed time has come.
14For your servants hold her stones dear
and have pity on her dust.
15Nations will fear the name of the Lord,
and all the kings of the earth will fear your glory.
16For the Lord builds up Zion;
he appears in his glory;
17he regards the prayer of the destitute
and does not despise their prayer.
18Let this be recorded for a generation to come,
so that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord:
19that he looked down from his holy height;
from heaven the Lord looked at the earth,
20to hear the groans of the prisoners,
to set free those who were doomed to die,
21that they may declare in Zion the name of the Lord,
and in Jerusalem his praise,
22when peoples gather together,
and kingdoms, to worship the Lord.
23He has broken my strength in midcourse;
he has shortened my days.
24“O my God,” I say, “take me not away
in the midst of my days—
you whose years endure
throughout all generations!”
25Of old you laid the foundation of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
26They will perish, but you will remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.
You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away,
27but you are the same, and your years have no end.
28The children of your servants shall dwell secure;
their offspring shall be established before you.
The Lord's Chosen Servant
1Behold my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my Spirit upon him;
he will bring forth justice to the nations.
2He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice,
or make it heard in the street;
3a bruised reed he will not break,
and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;
he will faithfully bring forth justice.
4He will not grow faint or be discouraged1
till he has established justice in the earth;
and the coastlands wait for his law.
5Thus says God, the Lord,
who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and what comes from it,
who gives breath to the people on it
and spirit to those who walk in it:
6“I am the Lord; I have called you2 in righteousness;
I will take you by the hand and keep you;
I will give you as a covenant for the people,
a light for the nations,
7to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
from the prison those who sit in darkness.
8I am the Lord; that is my name;
my glory I give to no other,
nor my praise to carved idols.
9Behold, the former things have come to pass,
and new things I now declare;
before they spring forth
I tell you of them.”
Sing to the Lord a New Song
10Sing to the Lord a new song,
his praise from the end of the earth,
you who go down to the sea, and all that fills it,
the coastlands and their inhabitants.
11Let the desert and its cities lift up their voice,
the villages that Kedar inhabits;
let the habitants of Sela sing for joy,
let them shout from the top of the mountains.
12Let them give glory to the Lord,
and declare his praise in the coastlands.
13The Lord goes out like a mighty man,
like a man of war he stirs up his zeal;
he cries out, he shouts aloud,
he shows himself mighty against his foes.
14For a long time I have held my peace;
I have kept still and restrained myself;
now I will cry out like a woman in labor;
I will gasp and pant.
15I will lay waste mountains and hills,
and dry up all their vegetation;
I will turn the rivers into islands,3
and dry up the pools.
16And I will lead the blind
in a way that they do not know,
in paths that they have not known
I will guide them.
I will turn the darkness before them into light,
the rough places into level ground.
These are the things I do,
and I do not forsake them.
17They are turned back and utterly put to shame,
who trust in carved idols,
who say to metal images,
“You are our gods.”
Israel's Failure to Hear and See
18Hear, you deaf,
and look, you blind, that you may see!
19Who is blind but my servant,
or deaf as my messenger whom I send?
Who is blind as my dedicated one,4
or blind as the servant of the Lord?
20He sees many things, but does not observe them;
his ears are open, but he does not hear.
21The Lord was pleased, for his righteousness' sake,
to magnify his law and make it glorious.
22But this is a people plundered and looted;
they are all of them trapped in holes
and hidden in prisons;
they have become plunder with none to rescue,
spoil with none to say, “Restore!”
23Who among you will give ear to this,
will attend and listen for the time to come?
24Who gave up Jacob to the looter,
and Israel to the plunderers?
Was it not the Lord, against whom we have sinned,
in whose ways they would not walk,
and whose law they would not obey?
25So he poured on him the heat of his anger
and the might of battle;
it set him on fire all around, but he did not understand;
it burned him up, but he did not take it to heart.
The Woman and the Dragon
1And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. 2She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. 3And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. 4His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. 5She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, 6and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.
Satan Thrown Down to Earth
7Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, 8but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. 9And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. 10And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers1 has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 11And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. 12Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”
13And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. 14But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time. 15The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood. 16But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth. 17Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood2 on the sand of the sea.
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