TODAY’S READING: DANIEL 4-5
“Till you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.” – Daniel 4:25
“Until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of mean and gives it to whom he will.” – Daniel 4:32
“Until he knew that the Most High God rules the kingdom of mankind and sets over it whom he will.” – Daniel 5:21
The first two verses above were spoken by Daniel to Nebuchadnezzar in interpretation of a dream about his kingdom. Nebuchadnezzar thought it was himself and his greatness and glory that made him and his kingdom great. The last verse was spoken to Belshazzar, Nebuchadnezzar’s son, as a reminder of what happened to his father as Daniel was interpreting the handwriting on the wall for Belshazzar. The next day Belshazzar lost his kingdom.
We tend to read statements about God choosing a king whom he wills over the kingdom of men as a statement of fact that God has hand selected every king that has ever ruled over any kingdom, government, or nation on the earth.
But, in order to believe this, one would have to believe that God hand selected Genghis Khan, Hitler, Pol Pot, and every other evil leader to rule these nations. If this is true, then there is a lot of innocent blood on God’s hands.
Not only that, but if we believe that God has appointed every ruler over the kingdom of mankind, then we must believe that he appointed Satan to rule over us. For Satan had the rule over every kingdom of this world.
Matthew 4:8-9 says, “again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.'” Satan could not have made this offer to Jesus if he was not truly ruling all the kingdoms of this world.”
In 2 Corinthians 4:4, Paul indicated that Satan was the ruler of the kingdom of mankind when he said, “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
1 John 5:19 says “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”
In John 12:31, Jesus said, “Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out.”
Surely, God would not have made Satan the ruler of the world only for Satan to blind us to the truth of God so that God could send his son to cast Satan out of this world so that we could know the truth about God. This could kind of view makes God a jumbled mess working against his own purposes.
So, instead of reading “the Most High God rules the kingdom of men of mankind and sets over it whom he will” as a statement that God has handpicked every king, we need to read this as a statement that God has always had in mind a king that would ruled mankind according to his own will.
And, that king is Jesus.
Go back to Genesis 1:26, which says, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion.” Genesis 1 is a take on all the creation myths of the ancient near-eastern cultures. These myths were used by the kings in these lands to show that they had descended directly from the gods to rule over all the people. But, in Genesis 1, God is overturning that way of thinking, saying that he had appointed all mankind to have dominion according to his own image.
Further, Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” But, it is not just men that were created in God’s image to rule, women were created in God’s image as well. And, as we read on into Genesis 2, we find the man and the woman, Adam and Eve, are actually a picture of Jesus and the church, the man and the the woman, that are to have dominion over the earth according to God’s own image.
Therefore, in Genesis 1 and 2 we see God desires a ruler over mankind as he wills. And, the ruler God wills has to rule according to God’s image.
Genesis 5:1 says that “when God created man, he made him in the likeness of God.” But, Adam chose not to remain in that likeness. Adam chose to rule according to his knowledge of good and evil. So, when Adam, indeed all mankind, produced offspring, he did so according to “his own likeness, after his image,” according to Genesis 5:3.
So, all men and women are the image of Adam, not God. Therefore, no man or woman ruled as God wills. No earthly king, and certainly not Satan, ruled in the image of God. Therefore, none of these kings were hand selected by God to rule the kingdom of mankind.
But, Colossians 1:15 says, “He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” Jesus is the one that the Most High God wills to rule over the kingdom of mankind.
This is just what Paul goes on to say in Colossians 1:16-20. “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”
God even directly proclaimed that Jesus was the one he had chosen to rule over the kingdom of mankind. When Jesus was baptized, Mark 1:11 says, “And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” Then, on the mount of transfiguration, a picture of Jesus in his ascended glory on the throne of God, Mark 9:7 says, “And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, ‘This is my beloved Son; listen to him.”
Why are we to listen to Jesus?
Because he is the true king, the one whom the Most High God has willed to rule over mankind from the foundation of the world.
Notice that Paul said in Colossians 1:20 that all of this was “by the blood of his cross.” And, in John 12:32, just after he said the ruler of this world would be cast out, Jesus said, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”
So, we see that Jesus’ death on the cross was necessary to reveal the true king of mankind. For, it is the cross, God’s giving of his own life for us, that revealed the greatness of God’s love. Not only did the cross reveal the greatness of God’s love, but it revealed that God is love. God is the self-sacrificial giving of self for the benefit of others. This is only possible because God is three in one. For, if God were singular, the God could not be love in his eternal nature. There would have been nobody, no other, to love.
God’s three-in-one nature brings an interesting element to the handwriting on the wall that judged Belshazzar, who is a picture of the ruler of this world and all men who have sat as a king over men.
The handwriting on the wall was “Mene, mene, tekel, parsin.” Daniel interpreted this as Belshazzar had been numbered and weighed and found wanting, meaning that he did not have what it takes to rule. He was not in God’s image of love and therefore not qualified to rule. Therefore, the kingdom was divided and taken from him.
What I find fascinating is that the handwriting on the wall – mene, mene, tekel, parsin – that revealed Belshazzar unfit for the throne over mankind has a numerical value of 1,118. This is the exact same numerical value of what the Jews call the Shema.
What is the Shema?
It is Deuteronomy 6:4, which says, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord Our God, the Lord is one.”
Do you know what the next verse says?
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” According to Jesus, the greatest commandment, which stems from knowing that the Lord our God is one. Three in one. God is love.
Surely it is not a coincidence that the judgment of Belshazzar has the same numerical value as one of the most important revelatory statements in all of scripture. And, it is this judgment, this statement of who God is, three in one, love, that reveals who is the one, Jesus, that is in God’s image whom God wills to be on the throne ruling over the kingdom of mankind.