Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Dannah Gresh: If you ever feel discouraged by the actions of political officials, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth zooms out and says . . .

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Every human enterprise, every human empire, no matter how impressive, no matter how strong, will one day come to an end. Only His Kingdom will last forever. So let’s pray, “Oh God, may Your Kingdom come!”

Dannah: This is the Revive Our Hearts podcast with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, coauthor of You Can Trust God to Write Your Story, for September 30, 2021. I’m Dannah Gresh.

Nancy: Okay, if you’re just joining us in this series, we’re in the book of Daniel, so let me invite you to turn there in the Old Testament. Ezekiel is a long prophet, then Daniel’s a shorter one, tucked away there toward the end of the Old Testament. We’re looking for God sightings, Heaven rules sightings, in the book of Daniel. 

We’re taking about one chapter a day for a few weeks here and just looking for evidences that Heaven rules. You see it all the way through the book of Daniel, you see it all the way through Scripture, and don’t we see it in our lives? Heaven really does rule. So I want you to not only be looking in your Bible for evidences that Heaven rules, but as we’re going through this series I want you to be looking in your daily life for evidences that God is present, God is providing, God is protecting—Heaven rules.

We’re in chapter two of the book of Daniel today, and I want to read most if not all of the text. This is a lengthy chapter, so we’re not going to take a deep dive into any part of it. We just want to look at this 30,000-foot view. How do we see that Heaven rules?

Lord, would You open our eyes, open our hearts, give us the confidence as we open Your Word that heaven really does rule? Thank You for what You did in Daniel’s life and in the lives of his friends, there in the empire of Babylon, 2700 years ago. Thank You that You preserved this account in Your Word so that we could have assurance today in our lives that heaven really does rule. So give our hearts that blessed assurance, I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Daniel 2:1: 

In the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar [this is the king of Babylon, the most powerful man on earth in that day] had dreams that troubled him, and sleep deserted him. 

Do you remember in the book of Esther when a king had trouble sleeping and God used his sleepless night to preserve the lives of the Jews? God is over everything! God’s over dreams. God is over sleep, or inability to sleep. So when you can’t sleep sometimes at night, just remember, Heaven rules. God’s in charge of all of this.

[He had] dreams that troubled him, and sleep deserted him. So the king gave orders to summon the magicians, mediums, sorcerers, and Chaldeans to tell the king his dreams.” (vv. 1–2)

These were occultic practitioners; these were considered wise men. The magi came from this part of the world, and they were educated. They were supposed to know these things, and they were supposed to have supernatural powers to discern these things. So he summoned all these wise men, and

. . . when they came and stood before the king, he said to them, "I have had a dream and am anxious to understand it." (v. 3)

“The Chaldeans spoke to the king” and then the text says, “(Aramaic begins here.)” It’s a whole other story why, but parts of the book of Daniel are written in Hebrew, the first and ending parts, and the middle is written in Aramaic, which would have been the common language in Babylon. 

The Chaldeans spoke to the king . . . "May the king live forever. Tell your servants the dream, and we will give the interpretation."

The king replied to the Chaldeans, "My word is final: If you don’t tell me the dream and its interpretation, you will be torn limb from limb, and your houses will be made a garbage dump. But if you make the dream and its interpretation known to me, you’ll receive gifts, a reward, and great honor from me. So make the dream and its interpretation known to me." (vv. 4–6)

It’s clear here what he’s asking for, what he’s demanding. Nebuchadnezzar demanded that his advisors, his soothsayers tell him both the dream and its meaning. He promised them a great reward if they succeeded, and if they couldn’t do it he threatened to destroy the whole lot of them, which he had the power to do. So verse 7: 

They answered a second time [now their lives are on the line here!], "May the king tell the dream to his servants, and we will make known the interpretation." The king replied, "I know for certain you are trying to gain some time, because you see that my word is final. If you don’t tell me the dream, there is one decree for you. You have conspired to tell me something false or fraudulent until the situation changes. So tell me the dream and I will know you can give me its interpretation."

The Chaldeans answered the king, "No one on earth can make known what the king requests." (vv. 7–10)

Now, that was true! No earthling, no human being could know what the king dreamt when he was having this nightmare, this dream, whatever it was. 

"Consequently, no king, however great and powerful, has ever asked anything like this of any magician, medium, or Chaldean. What the king is asking is so difficult that no one can make it known to him except the gods, whose dwelling is not with mortals."

“We’re not gods. We’re wise, we’re smart, we have these supernatural abilities, but we’re not gods. We can’t tell you what only the gods can tell you. No one on earth can tell you.” They understood that what the king was asking them to do was absolutely impossible. No mere mortal can read minds or dreams. 

Robert and I will sometimes, after we wake up in the morning, say, “Did you dream last night?” Usually we can’t remember our own dreams, but for sure I couldn’t tell Robert what he dreamed last night! There is no way. “Only the gods” could make this known to the king.

Now, these men, wise as they were or wise as they thought they were, were acknowledging their own limitations, their own mortality. They were acknowledging that they were not gods and that they did not possess supernatural powers.

Well, in verse 12 of Daniel 2, 

Because of this, the king became violently angry and gave orders to destroy all the wise men of Babylon. The decree was issued that the wise men were to be executed, and they searched for Daniel and his friends [who were among this group of advisors] to execute them. (vv. 12–13)

You see, being godly, being among the people of God, did not exempt Daniel and his friends from the challenges of living in a sinful, fallen world. The king’s edict affected Daniel and his friends as well. Sometimes in this world we have to live and deal with tyrannical, egotistical  rulers and edicts. But Daniel had something that these so-called wise men did not have. Look at verse 14. "Then Daniel responded with tact and discretion . . ." Where did he get that? From God. God gave him wisdom; God gave him understanding.

[He] responded with tact and discretion to Arioch, the captain of the king’s guard, who had gone out to execute the wise men of Babylon. He asked Arioch, the king’s officer, "Why is the decree from the king so harsh?" Then Arioch explained the situation to Daniel. So Daniel went and asked the king to give him some time, so that he could give the king the interpretation. (vv. 14–16)

Notice what Daniel didn’t do: he didn’t panic. He didn’t ring his hands. Notice what else he didn’t do: he didn’t stage a protest or plot a coup to overthrow the king. He displays in this passage a quiet confidence that we know was grounded in his understanding that—what? Heaven rules.

When he learned that all the wise men in the kingdom, including himself and his three friends, were to be executed, he appealed to the king to give him time to come up with the dream and its interpretation. He must have believed that God could show him that dream. He knew he couldn’t come up with it; he makes that clear later in the passage. But he knew that God could, and he knew that before God revealed it to him! He said, “Give me time, and I will give you the dream and the interpretation.”

Verse 17; look at what he does next. 

Then Daniel went to his house and told his friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah about the matter, urging them to ask the God of the heavens for mercy concerning this mystery, so Daniel and his friends would not be destroyed with the rest of Babylon’s wise men. (vv. 17–18)

Daniel didn’t panic, but also he didn’t try to figure this out on his own. He went immediately to his friends, explained the situation, and urged them to pray. “Get on your knees, guys! Pray for divine intervention,” so that their lives might be spared.

Daniel had special, God-given gifts for understanding visions and dreams; we read that in chapter one. But still, he operated in community. He didn’t rely on his own gifts; he relied on the help of his friends and his God. He knew that he did not have, on his own, the wisdom or the ability to handle this; that they needed God. So what did they do? They prayed. 

That’s what you do when you need God and you know you need God; you pray. When you know you can’t handle this on your own, you pray. When you know you can’t turn that child’s heart or you can’t figure out the mysteries of how to plumb the depths of that mate or that child’s heart, you pray! You ask God for wisdom, for mercy concerning these mysteries.

Look at verse 19. “The mystery was then revealed . . .” when? When they had prayed. It was “then revealed to Daniel in a vision at night, and Daniel praised the God of the heavens . . .” 

I’m so glad he remembered to do that. In response to the prayers of Daniel and his friends, God revealed the mystery of the dream and the interpretation, but Daniel gives God all the credit, because God deserves all the credit. And in his prayer beginning in verse 20, Daniel acknowledges the sovereignty and the power of God. He gives thanks to God for hearing and answering their prayers. He says, in effect—this passage in chapter two is powerful—the way you could summarize this whole paragraph is, Heaven rules. Look at verse 20.

[Daniel] declared: "May the name of God
be praised forever and ever,
for wisdom and power belong . . .
[not to all the wise men, not to us because we’ve been through this wonderful training program.] Wisdom and power belong to God.
He changes the times and seasons;
he removes kings and establishes kings." (vv. 20–21)

Pause. Remember that. God removes and establishes kings and rulers and authorities in every realm of human authority. Rulers are not ultimately chosen by elections or by any other man-made process. God establishes kings. In your workplace, in your community, in politics, in government, God establishes kings, and God removes them when He is done doing what He wants to with and through them. God does this.

Continuing in verse 21 here:

He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to those
who have understanding.
He reveals the deep and hidden things;
he knows what is in the darkness,
and light dwells with him.
I offer thanks and praise to you,
God of my ancestors,
because you have given me
wisdom and power.
And now you have let me know
what we asked of you,
for you have let us know
the king’s mystery.” (vv. 21–23)

How often do we look to the Lord in our desperation for wisdom and help, and then we forget to thank Him, to praise Him when He comes through, when He shows us what we need? All wisdom comes from God. If you’re a wise person, that’s because God has given you wisdom, and you get that wisdom from His Word and by His Spirit. 

We are not self-sufficient! We are not all-knowing! All of us in this room are facing different life circumstances, in our world we’re facing circumstances for which there is no human solution. But God gives wisdom to His people who ask. We’re dependent on Him for the wisdom and understanding to reveal mysteries that are too great for us. So let’s remember to ask Him for the wisdom, and let’s not forget to thank Him when He gives the wisdom, as Daniel did.

Therefore Daniel went to Arioch, whom the king had assigned to destroy the wise men of Babylon. He came and said to him, "Don’t destroy the wise men of Babylon! Bring me before the king, and I will give him the interpretation." Then Arioch quickly brought Daniel before the king and said to him, "I have found a man among the Judean exiles . . ." (vv. 24–25)

That’s probably a term of derision, like, “All your smart, intelligent, top soothsayers and magicians, wise men, they couldn’t do it; but there’s a Judean exile . . .” 

". . . who can let the king know the interpretation." The king said in reply to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar . . . (v. 26)

Bel, one of the gods of Babylon; his name honored the gods of Babylon, the name he’d been given by the king. But he’s Daniel, the man whose hope is in God. He says to Daniel, 

"Are you able to tell me the dream I had and its interpretation?" Daniel answered the king, "No wise man, medium, magician, or diviner is able to make known to the king the mystery he asked about." (vv. 26–27)

Remember that! When the king says, “Are you able to do this?” You say, “No, I can’t do this,” because you can’t. “‘But,’” verse 29, “‘there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries . . .’” Heaven rules. 

What an opportunity to witness to this pagan, godless king, who is enraged and about to wipe out his entire intelligence corp there!

"There is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and he has let King Nebuchadnezzar know what will happen in the last days. Your dream and the visions that came into your mind as you lay in bed were these: Your Majesty, while you were in your bed, thoughts came to your mind about what will happen in the future. The revealer of mysteries [Jehovah, Heaven rules] has let you know what will happen. As for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because I have more wisdom than anyone living . . ." (vv. 28–30)

People who believe that Heaven rules are humble people. They don’t take credit for things that God deserves credit for. “This happened to me, this was revealed to me, not because I have more wisdom than anyone living,”

". . . but in order that the interpretation might be made known to the king, and that you may understand the thoughts of your mind." (v. 30)

So he goes to the king to give him the dream, the interpretation. He lets the king know, “I couldn’t figure this out, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries.” God is the revealer of mysteries. There are no mysteries to God! There’s nothing that makes Him scratch His head or wonder or try to figure things out. There are no mysteries to Him. He sees and He knows everything, and He reveals Himself and His mysteries a little bit at a time to humans on earth who He wants to do something through them. So as He sees fit, He reveals mysteries.

"Your Majesty, as you were watching, suddenly a colossal statue appeared. That statue, tall and dazzling, was standing in front of you, and its appearance was terrifying." (v. 31)

It’s hard to imagine how you could have forgotten this dream. 

"The head of the statue was pure gold, its chest and arms were silver, its stomach and thighs were bronze, its legs were iron, and its feet were partly iron and partly fired clay. As you were watching, a stone broke off without a hand touching it . . ." (v. 32–34)

Remember that. That’s going to be important in the interpretation. That stone,

". . . struck the statue on its feet of iron and fired clay, and crushed them. Then the iron, the fired clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were shattered and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors. The wind carried them away, and not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth." (vv. 34–35)

Daniel tells the king the dream: a colossal statue that’s both magnificent and terrifying. Its parts are made of various metals, descending in value from the head of gold to feet of iron mixed with clay. Then there’s a rock that’s broken off without any human agency that strikes the statue and crushes, and that stone becomes a great mountain that fills the earth.

Verse 36—Daniel’s still speaking to Nebuchadnezzar.

"This was the dream; now we will tell the king its interpretation. Your Majesty, you are king of kings. The God of the heavens has given you sovereignty, power, strength, and glory." (v. 36–37) 

That’s a Heaven rules sighting in your Bible. “You’re the king of kings, the greatest human being here on the face of earth, but there’s a greater one! The God of the heavens. He’s the one who has given you sovereignty and power and strength and glory. You don’t have anything that He did not give you. So why do you boast like you were something special?” We’re going to see this theme of pride and humility weaving its way through the book of Daniel.

"Wherever people live—or wild animals, or birds of the sky—he has handed them over to you and made you ruler over them all." (v. 38) 

“You didn’t get to this position because of some election or because of some edict or some decree or because your father was a great king. You got here because God handed over this empire to you and made you the ruler over them all.” That’s another Heaven rules sighting. “You are the head of gold.” The head of gold in the dream symbolized Nebuchadnezzar, called “the king of kings” in verse 37.

Then he says in verse 39, “Yes, you have power and authority and glory and God has given you this kingdom,” but look at 39. 

“After you, there will arise another kingdom.” (v. 39)

Pause. This statement is true of every earthly ruler and kingdom in the history of the world. Every president, every prime minister, every premiere, every king, every emperor. Of every earthly ruler and kingdom it can be said, “After you, there will arise another kingdom.” No earthly ruler or kingdom is forever.

Louis XIV of France was one of the longest-reigning monarchs in history. He ruled for seventy-two years and one-hundred-ten days. And when he died, there arose another ruler. He was succeeded by his five-year-old great-grandson, Louis XV. “After you, there will arise another kingdom.”

You see, when you’re one of these long-ruling kings—Nebuchadnezzar ruled for over forty years over Babylon—you start thinking, I’m here. I’m here forever. You’re not here forever. That ruler who’s making your life difficult, maybe in another sphere of life—in your family or in your workplace—after that person, there will be another kingdom, another king. They aren’t forever; no earthly king is.

“After you, there will arise another kingdom, inferior to yours, and then another, a third kingdom, of bronze, which will rule the whole earth. A fourth kingdom will be as strong as iron; for iron crushes and shatters everything, and like iron that smashes, it will crush and smash all the others. You saw the feet and toes, partly of a potter’s fired clay and partly of iron—it will be a divided kingdom, though some of the strength of iron will be in it.” (v. 39–41)

Daniel had no way of knowing any of this. He only knew this because God revealed it to him, God who knows all mysteries. 

“You saw the iron mixed with clay, and that the toes of the feet were partly iron and partly fired clay—part of the kingdom will be strong, and part will be brittle. You saw the iron mixed with clay—the peoples will mix with one another but will not hold together, just as iron does not mix with fired clay.” (v. 42–43)

After Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel’s saying, will arise other kings and kingdoms, each less powerful and each progressively more vulnerable, the final kingdom being divided. The powerful Babylonian empire would be followed by the Medo-Persian empire, which would be followed by the Greek empire, and finally by the Roman empire, which would have strength but would have components mixed into it that would keep it from being able to hold together. This would all take place centuries after Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and Daniel’s interpretation. Heaven rules. God saw this, and God showed it to Daniel.

“In the days of those kings, the God of the heavens will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed. [One of my favorite passages in all of Scripture.] This kingdom will not be left to another people. It will crush all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, but will itself endure forever. You saw a stone break off from the mountain without a hand touching it, and it crushed the iron, bronze, fired clay, silver, and gold. [These were great kingdoms, but they were no match for God and His kingdom.] The great God has told the king what will happen in the future. The dream is certain, and its interpretation reliable.” (v. 44–45)

After a succession of kings and kingdoms established by God and removed by God, the God of heaven will intervene in human history to set up another kingdom that will be indestructible and will crush every earthly kingdom. 

By the way, this prophecy is still in the process of being fulfilled. These earthly kingdoms will all come to an end, but His kingdom will endure forever. Every human enterprise, every human empire, no matter how impressive, no matter how strong, will one day come to an end. Only His kingdom will last forever.

So let’s not try to build our own kingdoms or to fly the flag of somebody else’s earthly kingdom over our hearts, but instead, as the people of God, let’s pray, “Oh God, may Your kingdom come, and may Your will be done here on earth, as it is in heaven!”

Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell facedown, worshiped Daniel, and gave orders to present an offering and incense to him. The king said to Daniel, “Your God is indeed God of gods, Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries, since you were able to reveal this mystery.”

Then the king promoted Daniel and gave him many generous gifts. He made him ruler over the entire province of Babylon and chief governor over all the wise men of Babylon. (vv. 46–48)

Who lifts people up? God does. Nebuchadnezzar was the one who you can see in the visible realm, but in the unseen, eternal realm it’s God who was lifting Daniel up for such a time as this.

At Daniel’s request, the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to manage the province of Babylon. But Daniel remained at the king’s court. (v. 49)

In response to this revelation, the interpretation of this dream, Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged Daniel’s God. He rewarded Daniel, he promoted him to be a ruler over the entire province. Daniel requested and was granted administrative posts for his three friends, and Daniel served in the king’s court. All of those honors could have gone to his head, but you see, he knew this wasn’t his wisdom, this was God’s wisdom.

We’ll see Daniel remaining humble under the realization throughout all his seventy years of service there in the Babylon and Medo-Persian empires, remaining humble, recognizing his dependence on the God of heaven. Heaven rules.

What we’ve seen here in this dream isn’t just a dream. It’s an Old Testament prophecy of promises that are yet to be fulfilled in part. As you go to the book of Revelation, to the end of the Scripture, you find passages like this:

Then I saw heaven opened. There was a white horse; its rider is called Faithful and True, and he judges and makes war with justice. His eyes were like a fiery flame, and many crowns were on his head. He had a name written that no one knows except himself. He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his name is called the Word of God. The armies that were in heaven followed him on white horses, wearing pure white linen. A sharp sword came from his mouth, so that he might strike the nations with it. He will rule them with an iron rod. He will also trample the winepress of the fierce anger of God the Almighty, and he has a name written on his robe and on his thigh: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. (Rev. 19:11–16)

This is the rock, the stone not hewn by human hands, born of a virgin, the Son of God, the rock on which the world stumbles and falls. It is the rock which the world rejects, but the stone chosen by God and precious, who will come at God’s time and in God’s way and will dash to earth and smash all the kingdoms of the earth. It will bring to judgment all those who have rejected God. 

Though they may think they are a head of gold or of silver of bronze, they may think they are strong and powerful. But God has sent His own Son to this world, and one day He will return to judge the nations of the earth. The judgment of the wicked and the eternal salvation of the righteousness and the establishment of the King, of God, on this earth forever and ever and ever. Amen! Amen! Heaven rules!

We have the promises of that today. We see glimpses of it today. One day prayer will be praise and faith will be sight, and we’ll see that Man on a white horse coming with the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God—KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS; and he shall reign forever and ever. Amen.

Dannah: Amen. That’s such a great reminder in these days, isn’t it? We’ve been listening as Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth helps us see the bigger picture. The series she’s in is titled “Heaven Rules: Seeing God’s Sovereignty in the Book of Daniel.” “Sovereignty” is just a fancy term for “ruling.” So when we say God is sovereign, we’re saying “God rules.” Our God reigns! Heaven rules!

Nancy and Robert Wolgemuth talk about embracing the mysteries of God’s sovereignty in their book, You Can Trust God to Write Your Story. Whether you’re concerned about geo-political events on the world stage, or you’re having trouble trusting that God’s plan for you or your family really is best (or both), Nancy and Robert’s book brings you inspiring stories of faith—stories that will challenge your thinking.

We’d like to get a copy in your hands. Here’s how. This week, that book, You Can Trust God to Write Your Story, is our thank-you gift to you. You say, “Thank you gift? For what?” Well, it’s our way to thank you for your donation to support the outreaches of Revive Our Hearts, including this podcast. If you’d like to donate a large amount or a small amount, it doesn’t matter. Just ask about the book by Nancy and Robert on God’s providence when you contact us with your donation. You can give at ReviveOurHearts.com, or call us at 1–800–569–5959.

Do you think God intends for your life to be 100% smooth sailing . . . all the time? Nancy will answer that tomorrow. Join us again, and let’s ask God to revive our hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, showing you the freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness found in Christ.

All Scripture is taken from the CSB unless otherwise noted.

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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.

About the Host

Dannah Gresh

Dannah Gresh

When Dannah Gresh was eight years old, she began praying that God would use her as a Bible teacher for “the nations.” When she sees the flags of many countries waving at a Revive Our Hearts event, it feels like an answer to her prayer.

Dannah is the founder of True Girl which provides tools for moms and grandmothers to disciple their 7–12 year-old girls. On Monday nights, you’ll find Dannah hosting them in her online Bible study. She has authored over twenty-eight books, including Ruth: Becoming a Girl of Loyalty, Lies Girls Believe, and a Bible study for adult women based on the book of Habakkuk. She and her husband, Bob, live on a hobby farm in central Pennsylvania.