A Lesson from the Past
Have you ever read the book of Daniel? If not, you really should take the time to do it. It opens with an empire (Babylon) invading a small kingdom (Judah) and taking some of the most promising young men in the kingdom captive to serve in the court of Babylon's king, Nebuchadnezzar.
One of those young men is Daniel. He spends a lifetime—nearly 70 years—in a foreign nation, serving kings that aren't his own, and he writes about it all. The first six chapters of the book tell the shockingly bold and brave tales of Daniel and his friends as they seek to practice faithfulness and fealty to the Lord in a hostile land. The last six chapters of the book contain the fantastical visions and dreams of Daniel, along with divine interpretations. They're apocalyptic, confusing, and, at times, downright terrifying.
In Daniel 7, the year is 553 BC. Daniel has been in Babylon for 52 years. He's minding his own business, trying to sleep one night, when all of a sudden, he has a dream that leaves him trembling.
Four horrific beasts, each more terrible than the last, come up out of the Mediterranean Sea. They represent four different empires, and they're the stuff of nightmares. Daniel, who has survived a siege, war, and exile, is terrified.
But then, the scene shifts, and heaven comes into view. The Ancient of Days, glorious in splendor and majestic in power, sits on the throne surrounded by thousands upon thousands upon thousands of his subjects.
Captivated by the scene, Daniel's attention is suddenly dragged back to earth, where a horn on one of the beasts (yes, it's as strange as it sounds) just won't stop yapping. Can't you just imagine him swiveling his head back and forth between heaven and earth, wondering what's going to happen to the arrogant little horn?
Not to ruin it for you, but it only takes half of one verse for the beast that was so terrifying to be destroyed.
There's much, much more to the vision, including the arrival of one like a son of man who is given dominion and glory and a kingdom that has no end. You really should give it a read.
Why it Matters Today
The point that I keep coming back to, the one that has comforted the people of God throughout the ages, is that no matter how terrifyingly powerful and utterly destructive the kingdoms of this world may seem, they are nothing compared to the power of the Almighty, and though they may be allowed to reign for a little while, one day, they will all be brought low. There will be a reckoning, and they will pay.
The problem is that in the meantime, we're still here, and the dictators and tyrants of the world are here with us, doing what they do best, trampling and destroying everything that stands in their way on their path to power.
The news coming out of Ukraine is harrowing. A million people have fled for safety beyond the borders as Russia continues its unrelenting assault. And we're just a week into the fighting.
I don't know what's going to happen or how things are going to play out. I don't know if this will be over soon or if it's only the beginning. I don't know if we're on the brink of another world war or if there's a way to somehow stop what Putin has started before it comes to that.
To be honest, a lot of times I feel like Daniel, swiveling my head back and forth between the events playing out on the world stage and the throne room of heaven, wondering what God's going to do about the horror and injustice and atrocities that keep piling up.
Truth to Remember
Though sometimes it may seem as if God doesn't see or care about what's happening here on earth, appearances can be deceiving, and if it looks like the enemy is winning, it's only an illusion.
When it seems like hope is lost, remember this:
The Lord God Almighty, ruler of heaven and earth, is sovereign over every last bit of his creation, including power-hungry dictators and tyrannical empires.
When we say that God still sits on his throne, we're not saying that he approves of what's happening. We're saying that he knows, sees, and cares for the powerless. He always has, and he always will. Nothing escapes his notice, and he will not allow a single atrocious act go unpunished.
Kings and kingdoms rise and fall, but the Lord God Almighty outlasts them all. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom will know no end. Hold on to that truth in the days ahead. No matter what happens, the Lord our God reigns today just as he has since before time began. And he always will.
Don't ever forget it.