God deposes kings and raises up others

This fall in Community Bible Study the Greenville women’s class is studying the book of Daniel which is grouped with the Major Prophets in the Old Testament. Daniel begins with Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, coming to Jerusalem and besieging it. “The Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand.” (Daniel 1:2)

After the United Kingdom of Israel during the reigns of Kings Saul, David and Solomon there was a split between the north and the south. Solomon’s sin caused this division. The Kingdom of Judah was in the south with Jerusalem as its capital and the Kingdom of Israel was in the north with Samaria eventually established as its capital. The ten northern tribes were ruled through the years by nineteen different kings. All of them were ungodly and established idolatrous worship. The southern tribes, Judah and Benjamin, had far fewer people and less territory. The descendants of David were the southern kings. Some of them were good and others were wicked. The Southern Kingdom was more spiritually in line with God’s wishes and lasted 135 years longer than the Northern Kingdom.

You might remember that King Nebuchadnezzar, after taking control over Jerusalem, brought some of the most promising young Israelite men from royal families to be trained for three years eventually to enter his service. Daniel was one of them. God’s hand was evident upon the lives of Daniel and his three Jewish friends. When Nebuchadnezzar ordered the execution of all of his “wise men” because no one could meet his demand to recount his troubling dream and interpret it, Daniel stepped forward. He knew that God would reveal the dream and its meaning to him.  Daniel asked the king for a little time. He went to his friends and “urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven and said: ‘Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.” (Daniel 2:18-21)

Theologian John Gill elaborated on this as “an increase of wisdom and knowledge, to wise politicians and counsellors of state, to form wise schemes of peace or war, to make wise laws, and govern kingdoms in a prudent manner; and to wise master builders or ministers of the word, to speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, to diffuse the knowledge of Christ everywhere, and make known the mysteries of grace to the sons of men; particularly to Daniel and his companions, who were wise and knowing men, the interpretation of the king’s dream.”

Throughout the Book of Daniel it is evident how God worked through the actions of faithful and unfaithful people to accomplish his purpose. God has never been limited by our willingness or unwillingness to follow his direction. During this election season we can take heart that this is true for our leaders as well.

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