INTERESTING FACTS : Oliver Wolcott, SIGNER OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE; MILITARY GENERAL; GOVERNOR OF CONNECTICUT
"Through various scenes of life, God has sustained me. May He ever be my unfailing friend; may His love cherish my soul; may my heart with gratitude acknowledge His goodness; and may my desires be to Him and to the remembrance of His name....May we then turn our eyes to the bright objects above, and may God give us strength to travel the upward road. May the Divine Redeemer conduct us to that seat of bliss which He himself has prepared for His friends; at the approach of which every sorrow shall vanish from the human heart and endless scenes of glory open upon the enraptured eye. There our love to God and each other will grow stronger, and our pleasures never be dampened by the fear of future separation. How indifferent will it then be to us whether we obtained felicity by travailing the thorny or the agreeable paths of life - whether we arrived at our rest by passing through the envied and unfragrant road of greatness or sustained hardship and unmerited reproach in our journey. God's Providence and support through the perilous perplexing labyrinths of human life will then forever excite our astonishment and love. May a happiness be granted to those I most tenderly love, which shall continue and increase through an endless existence. Your cares and burdens must be many and great, but put your trust in that God Who has hitherto supported you and me; He will not fail to take care of those who put their trust in Him....It is most evident that this land is under the protection of the Almighty, and that we shall be saved not by our wisdom nor by our might, but by the Lord of Host Who is wonderful in counsel and Almighty in all His operations."
Daily Reading : DANIEL 4 - 6, 7 - 9
TEXT : Dan 4:1 Nebuchadnezzar the king, unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you. Dan 4:2 I thought it good to shew the signs and wonders that the high God hath wrought toward me. Dan 4:3 How great are his signs! and how mighty are his wonders! his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation.
THEME : GOD'S SOVEREIGNTY & MAN'S RESPONSIBILITY
The salient theme in the Book of Daniel is the sovereignty of God. Throughout the Book, there are references in various ways showing it is the LORD who rules in the kingdom[s] of men. The examples of Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar his son, Darius the Mede, etc. all show the acts of God. Interpretation of dreams, salvation from a den of lions, deliverance from a furnace of fire, judgment on Nebuchadnezzar in the form of insanity and so forth, all display the power of God. The LORD is always at work, in the lives of men.
However, there is a difficulty when one side of truth is accentuated at the expense of the other. Mainly, not recognizing the full testimony of the Scriptures will cultivate a distortion in your learning and view of life. For instance, if you believe - that is, if you only believe, God controls everything including all people and their destiny; you may end up with a fatalistic view or deterministic ideology of the Scriptures and life. Keep in mind, the "whatever is going to happen is going to happen," can often be an excuse for laziness or a clever disguise for passivity of mind. The Bible does not promote irresponsibility, slothfulness, apathy, or careless inactivity.
On the other hand, if you accent Man's responsibility without acknowledging God as the King of [His own] universe, a Sovereign Ruler over all He has created, you will become unduly independent, unable to recognize your need of God for wisdom, self-control, and His [always welcome] intervention in the affairs of this life that are beyond our management and influence.
This begs the question - "where does our responsibility begin and end?" [You cannot ask where does God's sovereignty begin or end, since that would deny the definition of sovereignty, which means - dominion, rule, and dominance.[1
] Sovereignty is independent rule without outside interference. Clearly, the Bible states this about God.] Still, Man is held responsible for his actions. Therefore, we must reconcile the two. One without the other is not what God has revealed in His Word. One without the other is incomplete.
TRUTH FOR TODAY : "LIFE IS GUIDED BY THE WILL - BOTH GOD AND MAN'S"
It is outright nonsense to promote a view of the Scriptures that does not hold Man responsible for his or her actions. You see this in Daniel chapter 4 where God shows Nebuchadnezzar his future in a dream. As Daniel interprets the dream - one of Nebuchadnezzar temporarily losing his sanity until he learns that God is the Supreme Ruler of the universe, he advises Nebuchadnezzar to repent. Daniel states if Nebuchadnezzar "breaks off his sins by righteousness," it will "lengthen his tranquility" [that is, peace of mind].
Dan 4:27 Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity.
Now, if the dream were irrevocable, how can Nebuchadnezzar lengthen his peace through repentance? We have similar examples in Scripture where God tells Israel or individuals that if they change their behavior [from unrighteousness to righteousness] He will change His mind concerning punishment, and will bless instead of curse. In other words, if everything in life is predetermined by God, who can alter it? Man cannot resist God's will. Certainly, no one can defy God or His purposes.
The answer to these two [seemingly] irreconcilable facts lies in joining the two references together. God is omniscient and knows all things. Therefore, He [and only He] can declare the end from the beginning. [Isa_46:10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.]
Further, since Man is created in God's own image, you can say Man has "limited sovereignty," whereas God has "absolute sovereignty." You can perform deeds and actions apart from God's will. Thus, we have what the Bible calls "sin." It is the breaking of God's Law[s]. God on the other hand, has absolute sovereignty and nothing is restrained from Him. However, God cannot sin - as Man can.
Thus, we conclude life - both ours and God's, is guided by the will. We make decisions and God makes decisions. God has granted Man the freedom and responsibility to choose his destiny. However, God, knowing these choices in advance, is never taken back by Man's choices. Further, He overrules sin, destruction, and death through Christ who came to save you. When men and women put their trust in Christ, they are secure. Given the power of the Scriptures to read, the fellowship of other Christians to encourage, the dominion of the Holy Spirit to guide and empower, a believer is safe and never in danger.
Therefore, salvation as well as damnation, is a "mutual choice." You are saved by choice. You may be damned by choice. Life is guided by the will, and Man must choose whom he will serve. A person may say as Christ - "thy will be done." On the other hand, he or she may say as Satan - "To reign is worth ambition though in Hell: Better to reign in Hell, then serve in Heav'n."[2
] Further, the human mind can make Heaven a hell, or Hell a heaven [to quote Milton again]. [3
] It depends on your choice. God has granted Man the liberty to choose, and makes His choice based on yours. We read in Isaiah -
Isa_66:4 I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not.
When He calls - answer. Choose to obey God. It is not for His good you choose His salvation, it is for yours. In the end, your life will be judged by your choices, the decision of your [semi-sovereign] will. Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar made the wrong choices. Do not do the same.
Rev_20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. Rev_20:13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.