God Reigns
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God Reigns

Daniel 4:1–37  (ID: 3110)

The messages of Daniel would have been a great encouragement to the original audience that was comprised of exiles in a foreign land. In Daniel Chapter 4, King Nebuchadnezzar bore witness to God’s sovereign power and authority. Alistair Begg discusses Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, the interpretation and fulfillment of it, and the restoration of a king who finally looked to God for salvation. Despite the circumstances and trials of this world, we must remember that Christ reigns on an eternal throne.

Series Containing This Sermon

Faith Under Fire

Daniel 1:1–6:28 Series ID: 12702

Sermon Transcript: Print

Daniel chapter 4:

“King Nebuchadnezzar to all peoples, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied to you! It has seemed good to me to show the signs and wonders that the Most High God has done for me.

How great are his signs,
 how mighty his wonders!
His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
 and his dominion endures from generation to generation.

“I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at ease in my house and prospering in my palace. I saw a dream that made me afraid. As I lay in bed the fancies and the visions of my head alarmed me. So I made a decree that all the wise men of Babylon should be brought before me, that they might make known to me the interpretation of the dream. Then the magicians, the enchanters, the Chaldeans, and the astrologers came in, and I told them the dream, but they could not make known to me its interpretation. At last Daniel came in before me—he who was named Belteshazzar after the name of my god, and in whom is the spirit of the holy gods—and I told him the dream, saying, ‘O Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, because I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in you and that no mystery is too difficult for you, tell me the visions of my dream that I saw and their interpretation. The visions of my head as I lay in bed were these: I saw, and behold, a tree in the midst of the earth, and its height was great. The tree grew and became strong, and its top reached to heaven, and it was visible to the end of the whole earth. Its leaves were beautiful and its fruit abundant, and in it was food for all. The beasts of the field found shade under it, and the birds of the heavens lived in its branches, and all flesh was fed from it.

“‘I saw in the visions of my head as I lay in bed, and behold, a watcher, a holy one, came down from heaven. He proclaimed aloud and said thus: “Chop down the tree and lop off its branches, strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the beasts flee from under it and the birds from its branches. But leave the stump of its roots in the earth, bound with a band of iron and bronze, amid the tender grass of the field. Let him be wet with the dew of heaven. Let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth. Let his mind be changed from a man’s, and let a beast’s mind be given to him; and let seven periods of time pass over him. The sentence is by the decree of the watchers, the decision by the word of the holy ones, to the end that the living may know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men.” This dream I, King Nebuchadnezzar, saw. And you, O Belteshazzar, tell me the interpretation, because all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known to me the interpretation, but you are able, for the spirit of the holy gods is in you.’”

And then it gets really exciting from that point on. But I’ll leave you to read the rest.

Father, we come to you at the end of this lovely day. In the evening hour, we read in the New Testament how often it was that Jesus gathered with his disciples, oftentimes on a hillside, and there he opened to them the mysteries of who you are and your purposes in the world. And we pray now that you will give to us minds that think, and hearts that are ready to respond to your truth, and wills that are submitted to your authority, so that the things we have sung and the vision that has been set before us of a whole world in need of the gospel may be crystallized as we draw our evening to a close. We humbly pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.

Well, the question that we ought always to be asking as we read the Bible is “Where is God in all of this?” or “Where is Jesus in all of this?” insomuch as the Bible is a book about Jesus. And when we read in these prophecies here in Daniel, so often, as I’ve tried to point out to you in the first three chapters, it’s not difficult for us to follow a line that takes us almost directly to Christ.

I think too often as we come to the Bible, many of us are starting from the wrong point. We’re asking the question “Where am I in this?” or “Where do I fit into this?”—turning our study of the Bible into a kind of self-preoccupation. And the answer, of course, is that you’re not in this at all, and neither am I, because you weren’t around in the sixth century BC. None of us were, and this was written in that context to a historical environment to people who lived then. The fact that there is application beyond that goes without saying, but that’s not the same thing as looking for ourselves, as it were, in the passage.

And here again in chapter 4, it is God who is the hero of the story—God who is described as “the Most High God” all the way through. I just looked for them in verse 2: “[what] the Most High … has done for me”; again in verse 17, verse 24, verse 25, verse 32, verse 34. And again, on the basis of what we’ve said, the repetition of phraseology is there in order that we as the readers might get the point. And if there is a key verse in this chapter, and I believe there is, then I think it would be verse 17: “The sentence [of the] decree of the [watcher]”—the holy messenger, the angel, if you like—is in order that people “may know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men.”

Now, the readers are learning, and I hope we are learning too, that despite all appearances—and the appearances in their lives are not particularly good: they have been taken away from their home, the Babylonian deities have apparently triumphed, many of them have lost loved ones in the process, and all appearances suggest that they are being beaten down. And in actual fact, here they are learning that God is sovereign over all of the earthly kingdoms, and he brings to nothing the proud assertions of man. And if you want just one passing application of it, let’s just acknowledge that when our Supreme Court last week took to itself the jurisdiction of God to redefine that which God himself created, then many of us may have been distressed and trembled in our bones. But we need to remember what we’re being told here: that even though the battle may seem to be tilting against us, still God reigns supreme.

And the first verse of chapter 4 takes place about twenty years after the last verses of chapter 3. The king, Nebuchadnezzar, begins this letter with a doxology; he ends it, as we will see, with a doxology. And in between we have the record of the dream, its interpretation, the fulfillment of the dream, and his restoration. There is a lot to cover, and we’ll go through it as directly as we can.

Here he is. The king, as it were, was in his counting house, counting out his money, and the queen was not necessarily in the parlor; she was probably in the hanging gardens that her husband had created for her. He lived in a palace, he had prestige, he had power. And as a result of his influence, he is able, if you like, to call a press conference that involves the entire world. If I called a press conference, I’m not sure even any of my elders would come. That’s the extent of my influence. Probably my wife wouldn’t come either. There probably would be nobody there at all. It would be a futile exercise. But when Nebuchadnezzar decided that he was going to mail something out to all of the people on his Facebook page, to all of the people that he’d been tweeting to lately, he was able, by means of Instagram, to get the news out as directly as he could. And quite a contact list he had. He writes to all the peoples and all the nations and all the languages; that’s how big and powerful a fellow he was. His kingdom at the time stretched from the Persian Gulf in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west, from Egypt in the south to Iran in the north—a huge area. And he was the big daddy of the whole place.

In verses 2 and 3, as the people heard the letter read to them, they would have been caught off guard. Because he says that “it has seemed good to me to show”—and if the person coughed at that point when he was reading it out, people would have nudged one another and said, “Oh, here we go again. He’s going to tell us about his great military achievements and the architectural triumphs, and his horticultural genius, and so on.” But no, hang on, that’s not what he’s about to say. “It seemed good to me to show,” notice, “the signs and wonders that the Most High God has done for me.” “What God has done for me”—these signs and wonders that had convinced Nebuchadnezzar, in an apparently chaotic world, that this God actually ruled.

God is in charge of the ebb and flow of the moons and the seas and the shorelands.

When you fast-forward, of course, as God becomes incarnate in Jesus and as he announces the presence of the kingdom, he then goes out, and he manifests the reality of the kingdom. And people say to one another, the disciples say to one another, “What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the [waves] obey him?”[1] Because they knew only God was in charge of the ebb and flow of the moons and the seas and the shorelands. And so, here he is able to declare this: “I want to tell you that his signs are fantastic, his wonders are mighty, his kingdom lasts forever, and his dominion endures from generation to generation.”

Well, how in the world has this happened? This is a big change in him, isn’t it? Well, he tells us in verse 4: “I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at ease in my house and prospering in my palace.” Well, that’s jolly nice. He probably had his… Playing his music:

I’ve lived a life that’s full,
I’ve traveled each and every highway
And more, much more than this,
I did it my way.[2]

That’s him, sitting up there, just having something nice to drink and asking some of his folks to come in and survey the magnificence of what he’s done. Like one of those of whom Jesus spoke later on, whose success and prosperity became the occasion of foolish self-confidence,[3] the same was to prove true for Nebuchadnezzar. “I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at ease in my palace. I was prospering, and I saw a dream that made me afraid.” “To sleep, perchance to dream—ay, there’s the rub,”[4] as he lies down on his bed.

There wasn’t a mattress that had been made that was better than his mattress. There wasn’t a higher ceiling in anybody’s bedroom higher than his ceiling. The doorway must have been magnificent. “[But as I lay upon my bed,] I saw a dream that made me afraid. As I lay in bed the fancies and the visions of my head alarmed me.” So he is completely destabilized by this. He is terrified by what has happened. And so he does what he originally does: he issues a decree. You can imagine him calling for somebody who does this for him, and says, “I’m completely freaked out. I’ve had an unbelievable dream. I want you to issue a decree.” Here we go again! “Who do you want?” “Well, my usual group, please. If you could just bring them in.”

Why he’s still doing this I don’t know, because they are reliably, consistently, magnificently incompetent. And they prove that once again. “The magicians” and they all “came in, and I told them the dream, but they could[n’t] make known to me [the] interpretation.” And at last Daniel appears.

Where was Daniel? I don’t know. Don’t waste time in a Bible study pondering that kind of thing. It’s none of our business; otherwise it would be in the Bible. He had gone to visit his daughter, perhaps, or something like that. I don’t know. “At last Daniel came in before me—he who was named Belteshazzar after the name of my god.” And so he says, “I need to tell you this dream.”

And he does—which kind of delays the process a little bit, but we need to know what it is: this amazing tree that grew up and touched… “Its top reached to heaven.” You see that there in verse 11: “The tree grew and became strong, and its top reached to heaven.” I know you think I’m just repeating myself, but I think there is a definite link here with Genesis 11, where the Tower, actually, of Babel is described there in Genesis 11 as having a top that reached to the heavens.[5] This tree is of cosmic proportions; it’s beautiful, it’s fruitful, it’s pretty; the picture is actually very pretty indeed. It was able to provide sustenance and shelter, and in many ways, it was a picture of the best of Nebuchadnezzar, insomuch as he had built this amazing kingdom which provided sustenance and shelter for those who were under his jurisdiction.

So, so far, so good. What’s the frightening part? This is actually quite nice. Why is the king terrified? Well, because there was an angelic visitor. There was “a holy one” who “came down from heaven,” “a watcher,” and “he proclaimed aloud and said thus.” Now we find out what’s happened: “Chop down the tree, lop off its branches, strip its leaves, scatter its fruit,” and so on. He proclaims a message of destruction, and only a stump is left.

And then you will notice, if you have your Bible open, that in verse 15, the stump, “its roots in the earth,” and “bound with a band of iron and bronze, amid the tender grass of the field.” And then you will notice, full stop, new sentence begins: “Let him be wet with the dew.” So there’s a shift in the picture: 15a, it’s a tree; 15b, it’s a person. And so Nebuchadnezzar himself is beginning to put two and two together, and he’s not sure that he likes the four that comes out as the answer. And that is the frightening part.

The image switches from the tree to the person: a great and powerful person is about to be taken down and will be left as a mere shadow of his former self. His mind will be changed. He will revert to an animal’s existence. And the decree of the watcher is the decree of God himself. You read that, actually, in verse 24. You have to read on, and you find that the decree that was given by the watcher—“This is the interpretation, O king: It is a decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king.”

So, the dream is told, and in verse 19 and following, the interpretation is about to be given. “Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was dismayed for a while, and his thoughts alarmed him.” Now, we got a real problem here, don’t we? Because now the two of them are completely out to lunch. Nebuchadnezzar is terrified because he doesn’t understand, and Daniel is getting pretty terrified because he does understand. And in an ironic sort of juxtaposition, the king now is counseling Daniel and telling him, “I don’t want you to be afraid,” he says. “Belteshazzar, let not the dream or the interpretation alarm you.” I wish I could hear what was going… Daniel said, “That’s easy for you to say. But if you just hang on a minute, you’re gonna realize that you’re not so smart.”

“Belteshazzar answered and said, ‘My lord, may the dream be for those who hate you and its interpretation for your enemies!’” And then he goes on to tell him, “This tree that you saw, it’s you. It’s you, king. You are the man. This is a description of God’s judgment. You will be driven away from human society. You will live with the wild animals. You will eat grass like the oxen. You will be bathed with the dew of heaven in the morning. When people come and look out on the fields, they will see you there, and you will be all soaky as a result of the dew that has emerged in the morning hours. And your nails will all be grown in upon themselves, and you’ll be hairy like a Highland cow. And it’s a dreadful, dreadful thing, O king. And this is what will happen to you until you learn your lesson. It will be seven times,” which is an indefinite period but a complete period.

He says, “But there’s a possibility of a reprieve if you will break off, if you will discontinue your sins.” You’ll notice how he says it there. And he is very, very pointed. Nebuchadnezzar was a vindictive and merciless oppressor. And he says, “Perhaps your prosperity will be prolonged if only you will let my counsel be acceptable to you,” verse 27: “Break off your sins by practicing righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the oppressed, that there may perhaps be a lengthening of your prosperity.”

Now, we have to understand the Bible in light of the Bible. Daniel is not saying there that you can, by your own practicing of righteousness, put yourself in a right position by God. I think perhaps the cross-reference that I scribbled down for myself is when Paul is before—I think it’s Agrippa—and he tells him of his preaching, and he says, “I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.”[6] So he’s saying, “Nebuchadnezzar, if you really get serious about this, then your life will declare the reality of your change of heart.”

But he didn’t listen. Verse 28: “All this came upon King Nebuchadnezzar. At the end of twelve months…” He had twelve months! And God in his mercy had sent him a dream to disturb him, and sent Daniel to instruct him, and gave him an opportunity to turn and enjoy a reprieve.

You remember Paul in Romans 2, he says, “Would you show disrespect for the kindness of God, not realizing that it is his kindness that leads you to repentance?”[7] Are you here tonight with an unrepentant heart? Would you besmirch the kindness of God—that he has called out to you in his Word, that he has reached you through members of your family, that he has been gracious to you and preserved your life and prolonged your days? I was talking to somebody in the last couple of days, and I said to him, you know, “What you should be praying, my friend, is, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’”[8] And the immediate reply was, “Well, I’ve been very lucky. I don’t know about that.” And I said, “You haven’t been very lucky at all. God has been very good to you. By his providence you’re still sitting here beside me, and you still can understand the gospel, and you still can trust in Jesus.”

And Nebuchadnezzar blew it all off. And so the curse was fulfilled, and “at the end of twelve months he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, and the king answered and said, ‘Is not this the great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?’” It’s all my, I, me, and mine.

That’s what he said. Verse 31, what did he hear? “[And] while the words were still in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, ‘O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you, and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field,” and so on. And “immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar,” and “he was driven from among men,” and he “ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven [until] his hair grew as long as eagles’ feathers, and his nails were like birds’ claws.”

Now, some of you are psychiatrists, and so you know that this condition is lycanthropy: lykos, wolf; anthropos, man. King George III apparently suffered from this very condition. It is rare, but it is real. Dr. Barker from England, a consultant psychiatrist, writes of it in this way: “As far as Nebuchadnezzar’s illness is concerned, the features are of a fairly acute onset of insanity, with the apparent delusional idea that he was an animal. The length of time that he was unwell is not clear, but he also seems to have had a spontaneous remission”—which, of course, he didn’t have; there’s cause and effect. It wasn’t that he just “Ope! He’s not crazy anymore.” No, it wasn’t! He says a “spontaneous remission.”

… and returned to sanity and changed his way of life … subsequently. This kind of history is much more typical of … depressive illness with relatively acute onset, delusional beliefs of a morbid nature and, in the days before drugs and E.C.T., most such illnesses had a spontaneous remission within a period of one, two and, occasionally, more years. The person who recovered would recover complete insight, as did Nebuchadnezzar, apparently.[9]

So when you read this, and you read that, and then you read of the restoration, you see that Barker helps us, but only in part. Because this is not a spontaneous remission. In fact, the remission comes about, we’re told, by Nebuchadnezzar himself: “At the end of the days…” What days? The seven times, the indefinite but complete period. “At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven.” He did something that he had not done before. He had never lifted his eyes much beyond his proud creations to this point. When he was at ease on the roof of his palace, he was surveying everything, if you like, from a horizontal perspective. He was, if you like, the archetypical “nowhere man,” living “in his nowhere land, making all his nowhere plans for nobody,”[10] ultimately. But now he lifts his eyes to heaven.

Says Leupold in his commentary, “It is almost a touching detail to notice that the outward evidence of the return to reason is the upward look, the most [notable] feature that differentiates man from beast.”[11] Which, of course, is another conversation about worldview, which is another rabbit trail I won’t even touch right now as it comes across my mind. But it differentiates man from beast. In a pantheistic society such as ours, there is no such differentiation, which is why you can’t, you know, deal with the deer when they’re eating your hostas. But that is not something I’m going to talk about right now. It differentiates man from beast.

T. S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. I can’t quote it right, but I know how it begins:

The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
 It isn’t just one of your [ordinary] games;
You may think at first I’m as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
First of all, there’s [a] name that the family use daily,
 Such as [Billy], Augustus, Alonzo or James,
Such as [someone, and someone, and someone, and someone and]—
 … all of them … everyday names.[12]

But then he goes on to say, in a masterful little piece, he says, “But when you see a cat, and it’s sitting by the fireplace, and it is looking,” he says, “I can tell you what it’s thinking. It’s thinking about the name that only it knows. It has a name that only it knows. That’s what it’s thinking about.”[13] Well, I don’t know whether it is or it isn’t, but I can tell you that it is not thinking about God. And neither is your Labrador. How much you love it I don’t care. It is not, when it gazes up, it’s looking for food, it’s not lifting its eyes. No, this is what differentiates man from beast. Because God has set eternity in the hearts of man so that they might find out what he has done from the very beginning.[14] That’s what Ecclesiastes says.

And suddenly this man who had it all, who’d been down all of the streets, all of the dead-end streets, is reduced to animal status. And then, with the psalmist, he says,

I to the hills will lift mine eyes,
 from whence doth come mine aid.
My safety cometh from the Lord,
 who heaven and earth hath made.[15]

Thank God for the metrical Psalms of the Highlands of Scotland. Psalm 121:

I lift my eyes to the hills.
 Where does my help come from?
My help comes from God.[16]

That is the breakthrough moment, my friend. That is the moment of transformation. That is when we move from our time-bound self-preoccupations to the wonder and grandeur of God’s invading presence. And through the magnificence of his upbringing and the tragedy of his downfall, suddenly he lifts his eyes up. I think he would have been glad to sing the hymn, “The sands of time are sinking, the dawn of heaven breaks,” and would have been perfectly at ease with the lines that read,

With mercy and with judgment
My web of time he wove,
And aye, the dews of sorrow
[Are] lustered [with] his love.[17]

Nebuchadnezzar has that story now to tell. Up until this point he was just self-fulfilled.

And so he ends as he began: with a doxology. What an amazing thing he says: “I lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me.” It would appear to be spontaneous, but it was cause and effect. Had he not lifted his eyes to heaven, he’d still be there till the day of his death. “And I blessed the Most High, and [I] praised and honored him who lives forever”—“unlike me,” he might have added—

for his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
 … his kingdom endures from generation to generation;
all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
 and he does according to his will among the host of heaven
 and among the inhabitants of the earth;
and none can stay his hand
 or say to him, “What have you done?”

Where did you get that from, Nebuchadnezzar? Who wrote that for you? “No,” he said, “I don’t… I can’t really explain where I got it from. I think God must have just invaded my life and gave me a song to sing and a story to tell.”

Yes, and in his providential kindness, “at the same time,” verse 36, “my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my majesty and my splendor returned to me. [And] my counselors and my lords sought me.” They came and looked for him! Which is another story altogether. But, “Hey, it’s good to have you back, Nebuchadnezzar. Good to have the old Nebuchadnezzar back!” And he said, “Guys, this is not the old Nebuchadnezzar. This is the new Nebuchadnezzar. No, I’m a new man. God has sought me out. God has brought me down. God has set me up. And so I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble.” What an encouragement that must have been to these exiles.

We need to realize that what God says is true: that his kingdom is the kingdom that lasts.

Well, what an encouragement it is to me, I’ll tell you. And I hope to you too. Because we live as exiles. We live as aliens and strangers. We are bewildered by what we see in the world. For me, that Supreme Court decision—I wrote in my journal, “This is the saddest day of my life in America.” That’s what I wrote in my journal. I then said, “But I do know that God is still in charge. So we proceed accordingly.” But the fact is, we are buffeted, we are bewildered, we are increasingly ostracized, we are marginalized. Don’t think that you’re gonna fix this by appealing to the elite. It has never happened in history, and it will not happen here. It’s going to take an amazing intervention of God himself, at a grassroots level, where those of us who say we believe things actually start living as if we do. For some of us, our sanity needs to be restored, because we have been stuck on a horizontal plane as well, and we need to realize that what he says is true: that his kingdom is the kingdom that lasts.

Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia are responsible for the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of our brothers and sisters. Make no mistake about it. Every day in this world, Christians are martyred for their faith. Every day. How are we to understand that? Is God in control? Yes, he is. Satan is a defeated foe. He came out with all guns blazing against the Lord of Glory. He managed to have him killed. But he rose. As we sang tonight, “Death is crushed to death,” and “life is mine to live.”[18] But I don’t know why it is that so many suffer so dreadfully. I don’t why it is that the times are as daunting as they are. But I do know this: that God is sovereign over all the earthly kingdoms. Nebuchadnezzar is long gone. Nero is dead. So too is Stalin, Hitler, Chairman Mao Tse-tung, and sadly, from my perspective, Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. But they’re all gone, and the wind blows over the place, and they’re known relatively no more.

When Eric Liddell took his life to China—since we’re on a China theme, I will finish here—when he headed to China, he was an Olympic athlete, you will know, that won the gold in the 1924 Olympics, running in the four hundred meters. He played rugby for Scotland. He was a significant hero, at least in the small country of Scotland and in the British Isles. He had stood up to the king because of a conviction he had about Sunday. And he then, in obedience to the call upon his life, left Edinburgh for China to teach there in a school. You remember, he contracted a disease and died there as a relatively young man.

When he left Edinburgh, the people of Edinburgh came to see him off at that railway station, at Waverley railway station, down underneath the castle there, by the Princes Street Gardens. And history records that the people that were there were not just people from his small group, not just people who were interested folks from his church family, but the people of the city of Edinburgh were there, and beyond, and many of them youngsters, many of them young boys and girls who were fascinated by this man who had been such an amazing athlete, and that he was going away to China of all places, apparently to teach children about Jesus. What a strange thing to do! Unless, of course, you believe that the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ.[19] And when he got ready to leave, he let down the window in his carriage, and he silenced the crowd, and he shouted out, “Christ for the world, for the world needs Christ!” That was his parting shot. And then he led them in the singing of the hymn:

Jesus shall reign where’er the sun
Doth his successive journeys run.
His kingdom stretch from shore to shore,
Till moons shall wax and wane no more.[20]

And if by God’s grace you have been made one of the kids of that kingdom, bring your chin up! Get out of the ruck of the old days and the glory days. Get up, and get out! If you’re a banker, be a banker to the glory of God. If you’re a teacher, teach to the glory of God. If you’re a scientist, research to the glory of God. If you’re a salesman, sell to the glory of God. You don’t have to become crazy like me and get stuck in this hot place on a night like tonight in order to serve God. I don’t like it when pastors suggest, “And if you want to get really serious, you can become like me.” No! That’s not a good idea. Just you be who you are, where you are, in the conviction that God is accomplishing the eternal counsel of his will,[21] and in the mystery of his purposes, he’s drawn you into the story and given you a part to play. And I can think of no greater thing to do than to do medicine to the glory of God, to write novels to the glory of God, to tackle the injustices of our world in the legal systems to the glory of God—whatever it is.

Let’s get out and do a [ ] set. He’s a big man, and I like to pay attention to him.

Well, I’m done. We’ll pray:

Well, Lord, now what is of yourself, seal it in our hearts. What is untrue, unnecessary, banish it from our recollection. May your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,[22] tonight and every night until Jesus comes or calls us to himself, and then forevermore. Amen.

[1] Matthew 8:27 (KJV).

[2] Paul Anka, “My Way” (1969).

[3] See Luke 12:16–21.

[4] William Shakespeare, Hamlet, 3.1.

[5] See Genesis 11:4.

[6] Acts 26:20 (NIV 1984).

[7] Romans 2:4 (paraphrased).

[8] Luke 18:13 (ESV).

[9] M. G. Barker, quoted in Joyce G. Baldwin, Daniel: An Introduction and Commentary, The Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity, 1978), 109.

[10] John Lennon and Paul McCartney, “Nowhere Man” (1965).

[11] H. C. Leupold, Exposition of Daniel (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1969), 202.

[12] T. S. Eliot, “The Naming of Cats,” in Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats (1939; repr., Orlando: Harcourt Brace, 1982), 1.

[13] Eliot, 2. Paraphrased.

[14] See Ecclesiastes 3:11.

[15] Psalm 121:1–2, the Scottish Metrical Psalms (1650).

[16] Psalm 121:1 (paraphrased).

[17] Anne R. Cousin, “The Sands of Time Are Sinking” (1857).

[18] Keith Getty and Stuart Townend, “The Power of the Cross (Oh, to See the Dawn)” (2005).

[19] See Revelation 11:15.

[20] Isaac Watts, “Jesus Shall Reign Where’er the Sun” (1719).

[21] See Ephesians 3:11.

[22] See Matthew 6:10.

Copyright © 2024, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Alistair Begg
Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.