Do you live under God's protection? Would you? Read the following words of the prophet:
Daniel 4:23-24 (NIV 26-27)
"The command to leave the stump of the tree with its roots means that your kingdom will be restored to you when you acknowledge that Heaven rules"
"Therefore, Your Majesty, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue"
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If you have compared the rendering in NIV with the original Aramaic then you've seen that it is a very good one. And probably you have noticed also the change in the prophet's attitude; after being astonished and worried for an hour, now he gives a good interpretation to the king and even gives him advice about what to do. Where did this confidence came from?
The founder of the Methodist Church, John Wesley (1703-1791) had no plans to create a new "denomination" but to bring some revival to the Anglican Church, the one he belonged. But he used to preach to every one, and this habit of his disturbed another clergymen, because he preached in "their" parishes, in defiance to the Anglican rules. When he were confronted with this fact, his words were, "I look upon all the world as my parish". He realized that the Lord's call, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation" couldn't be stopped by any human regulation (those clergymen of the parishes didn't do that kind of open air evangelism that he did, and because of that, the souls he gained to Jesus should be lost if they should wait to hear the "clergyman of the parish")
The most known leader or the Reformation, Martin Luther (1483-1546) neither had in mind to create a new denomination. His fight was in the beginning a struggle to cleanse the Catholic Church, where he was a priest, of corruption and paganism. But the persecution from the papacy made it impossible, and he was obliged to raise a different church. When he was forced in the Diet of Worms (1521) to renounce his writings and doctrine, his answer was, "Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason ... [...] ... I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not initiate anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. May God help me. Amen". Luther's doctrine didn't have the effect that he intended (the Catholic Church confirmed all the traditions of theirs, and even started a Counter Reformation) Nevertheless, the Reformation which began with Luther changed Christianity entirely, and was the seed of many new churches which should see the light, based on the Scriptures and not in human traditions.
How could these Christian preachers, without leaving their congregations, oppose the authority, with risk for their ministry, their reputation and - in Luther's case - even their own life? They knew about another protection, a supernatural one, that is higher than any earthly authority. This protection was supporting the apostles in the book of Acts, when they disobey the religious leaders which wanted to forbid them to preach about Jesus (see Acts chapter 5) and Daniel's friends who refuse to adore the golden image which Nebuchadnezzar made raise, and were condemned to death (see Daniel chapter 3)
We are not speaking here about anarchy or rebellion against religious or civil authorities. The government is constituted, in accordance to the Word of God, "to bring punishment on the wrongdoer" and to be "God’s servant for your good" (Romans 13:4) And the Church of Christ is "His body". It is He who constitutes "apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers" to equip his people (Ephesians 4:11,12) Both civil and religious authorities are God's instruments to protect us and take care of us. But the source of this protection is God, not them. Human history is full of injustices, but they haven't certainly come from God.
Do you want to live under God's protection?
In the previous message we were talking about a special form of prophecy, called "WARNINGS", and how God gives us warnings in order to keep us from sinning. Now in this verses, we can see two other forms of God's care: PROMISES and COMMANDMENTS.
There are thousands PROMISES in the Word of God. The coming of a Messiah, the Savior, was promised from the times of the fall of the humand kind parents (Genesis 3:15) and we can read about it in many verses in the OT, even in the NT. Israel's preservation in the hands of God, unregarding their scattering, their gathering and return to the land He gave them, the restoration of their nation and the eternal rule of the son of David over them, these are some of the promises which the Jewish nation can trust. Eternal life, the forgiveness of sins, to receive the Holy Spirit, to get a place on eternity together with the people of God in the New Jerusalem, and many other promises, have we who believe in Our Lord Jesus Christ received from Him.
Have you been as a child promised to get some reward because of good conduct, or good achievements in school? Maybe you have, and you can remember how that hope on the reward was a motive to strive in the right direction. In the same way, God's promises give us hope that our efforts are not in vain. And we need this, because not every effort renders immediate results. If you are training in some gym you know that it can take some years - depending of your previous condition and the program you follow - to reach that weight you aimed to, or to develop those muscles you train. That's why you wouldn't give up after one or two weeks because you don't see any results yet.
God's promises take us beyond everything we could humanely imagine; they lead us into the realm of the supernatural. The apostle Peter tells us that we "participate in the divine nature" - which means that God dwells in us and operates through us - because of these "great and precious promises" from God (2nd Peter 1:4) In John 14:12, our Lord Jesus Christ states that those who believe in Him should do the same works He did, and even greater. And in Mark 16:17-18 we find a list of signs and wonders which the believers could do through their faith. We will continue talking about these promises, because it is a such important issue that can take entire books - as a matter of fact, there are a big deal Christian literature about promises. All things related with our conversion and Christian life are determined by God's promises.
There is another way, and a very important one, of God's care on us: it's called "COMMANDMENTS". And unfortunately, in the same way as many don't care about God's warnings, God's commandments are not seriously taken neither. We can even hear many persons that don't want to receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior because they will "be forced" to "leave many things which are prohibited by this religion". This is of course a satanical tergiversation of the great value of God's commandments, and of that paternal care that He shows us through them.
Our lives abound in commandments, because not all persons "love God above everything", and "love their neighbour as theirselves". Our Lord Jesus Christ resumed the whole Bible in two commandments. The Christian faith is so simple as that. But is also so impossible. So often we don't care about loving God! And so often we treat our neighbour in a wrong way! Then we get a lot of commandments, even human ones, to regulate relationships between persons which don't love God above everything or their neighbours as theirselves. "Thou shalt not kill", "thou shalt not steal", "thou shalt not commit adultery" are commandments which call us to treat other persons in a right way. But if we "love our neighbour as ourselves" it is evident that even without knowing a commandment about it, we shall not steal, or kill, or cheat, because we shouldn't bring upon others that evil we don't want to receive upon us. The apostle Paul puts this whole idea in the following words, "the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers - and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me" (1st Timothy 1:9-11)
If you use to drive a car or another vehicle, then you are probably familiar with this gadget:
The red light has a "commandment" for us: STOP! the yellow one is informing that a red light is coming, and the green light has another commandment: GO ON! This simple gizmo that we all know regulates in a very intelligent way our right in intersections, so that we give others and receive from others priority to drive forward. Many accidents, even deadly ones, and a lot of material damage, occur as a result of violating the simple commandments that these lights convey.
The same thing happens with the spiritual life. Many persons are in jail because they've killed or stolen, and many marriages have gone down because of adultery. God's care through His commandments has an implicit natural and spiritual law: our actions have consequences! The Lord commands us to do that which brings good and holy results, and to avoid that which brings evil upon us or upon others.
The prophet Daniel saw a promise of God for king Nebuchadezzar, in that allegory of the tree. It is that the stump remaining was a sign of a future restoration to the king's earlier glory and power. Did the king remember this, when in his madness he "raised his eyes toward heaven"? (Daniel 4:34) We don't know that, but we certainly know that having a promise from God is a source of protection and confidence, the hope that, no matter what is happening, the Lord will deliver us at the end and will lead us to victory, because He has promised it.
The king received a double commandment of God, to live in a righteous way and to show mercy to the opressed. "Righteousness" in this verse comes from Aramaic "tsidká", corresponding with Hebrew "tsedaká". This word means to conduct ourselves in the right way, to be justified or to be faithful to something or someone. Is a word related with the righteous living. "Be kind" - or "be merciful", another proper rendering - comes from "khanán" (in both Aramaic and Hebrew) which is related with that mercy we use with others, apart from their "justice" or "righteousness". It is "grace", undeserved love, and is more related with a forgiving compassion. The double commandment had a protecting function for Nebuchadnezzar. In the words of the prophet, it should "make his prosperity to continue". But the king forgot it, broke it, and the prophesied punishment came upon him.
Are you going through some kind of frustration? Are you lacking that guidance you need to reach your goals? Don't you even have some goals? Are you living as "on automatic pilot"? Don't you experience God's protection, or guidance? Do you doubt God's love? Is your "tree" cut down, the "fowls of the air and the beasts of the field" are gone, and you can't even see the "stump with the roots"?
If you are reading this text, then it is very probable that you can see, you can read in English, you are aware of your spiritual needs and you have hope in God, who has never put you away. Sometimes we don't value God's blessings, but let me remind you that there are many blind persons, many analphabets, and many people without hope. If you are still reading, probably you've got a good sleep thanks God, you woke thanks God, and you can breath, thanks God. There are many signs to show us that God is working with us and blessing us. It doesn't matter how broken can our "tree" be; many signs show us that there is a "stump with their roots" which is able to sprout, and to grow to its former splendor - even greater.
The first thing you need is to find out what this "stump" is in your life, because it is a prove that there is a core in your life, with those features that God has given you and are good things that He will never destroy. They are tools, instruments He gave you in order to be victorious. The evil one will do everything in his power to manipulate your mind, so that you ignore God's blessings and become ungodly and ungrateful. If Satan wins this battle, then you are defeated. But don't give ear to him! Jesus Christ loves you, and He wants to lead you, from victory to victory. If you can only believe this promise, you have the key to success. Let me repeat it: Jesus loves you, and He wants to lead you, from victory to victory. How? The Lord's possibilities are endless, and God's ways are sometimes hidden from us, but if we seek Him in prayer and seek answers in His Word, He will reveal Himself to us.
If you have not yet received Jesus as your Lord and Savior, there is time yet! The time will come when it will be impossible, when that heart which sends life to your whole body will stop, when that mind where your emotions, thoughts and plans abide will be turned off, and when that being created in God likeness will pass away, to death and corruption. But there's a way to conquer death! In this earthly sheath, which is mortal and corruptible, there is a "soul" which is so precious to God that Jesus gave his life on a cross for it. Your soul will never dissapear, but will resurrect - and with it the material body - either for good or for bad. The Lord wants you to resurrect whith the save ones, so that you get eternal life. Receive Jesus, and with Him, all blessings He has promised!
May the Lord bless you!
In the love of Christ, your brother,
PS. Jesus comes soon!