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*Sovereignty of God 8 (A tale of two kings)*
What do you do these days if you want to find out about something?
– you Google it!
*[P]* Even at work, if we come across something obscure and want to find out about it, we say, “Ask Dr. Google.”
The internet has the answer to everything! Right?
It is omniscient!
Or so we seem to regard it.
It doesn’t matter how obscure, you do your search and in 0.26 seconds you have 13,653,984 hits!
I have a bit of a concern that we treat it like god, the definitive answer to everything.
The internet gives us instant access to an incredibly vast amount of information – all the knowledge of man, pooled and available at the type of a few keys.
A vastly huge amount of information – but, you know?
It is woefully inadequate and lacking.
All the knowledge of man available, but sadly lacking – no revelation, no spiritual understanding or insight!
For instance: I sit at my computer and type in “Neo-Babylonian empire” this is what Wikipedia tells me: “The *Neo-Babylonian Empire* was a period of Mesopotamian history which began in 626 BC and ended in 539 BC.
During the preceding three centuries, Babylonia had been ruled by their northern neighbours, Assyria.
Yet, a year after the death of the last strong Assyrian ruler Assurbanipal in 627 BC, Babylonia rebelled under Nabopolassar the Chaldean.
His son, Nebuchadnezzar ruled after his death.
The city of Nineveh was sacked in 612 BC, and the seat of empire was again transferred to Babylonia.
This period witnessed a general improvement in economic life and agricultural production, and a great flourishing of architectural projects, the arts and science.
The Neo-Babylonian period ended in 539 BC; to the east, the Persians had been growing in strength, and eventually Cyrus the Great established his domination over Babylon.”
I can even get lovely pictures *[P]*; and maps *[P]* of the vast extent of this empire.
I can read about archaeological discoveries, history, the interplay of politics and military might, the motives and aspirations of men; and find out about this great, but now vanished, empire.
But it is all looking at the tail of the coin!
*[P]* From man’s perspective, human motives and interplay.
It is, in fact, a very incomplete and distorted picture.
Far more was going on than the aspirations of Nablopolassar and his son Nebuchadnezzar.
We need to look at the head’s side of the coin *[P]* – from the perspective of the Sovereign.
We can only get God’s perspective, from God; from His Word.
*[P]* I want us to turn from looking at things from the human perspective, from the answers you get from Google; and look at things from the Divine perspective, from God’s point of view, from the true perspective.
Not interpretation and analysis; but the truth.
What does God say?
What does the Word of God say?
Are we going to view things from man’s perspective or from God’s? *[P]* And when we look at what the Bible says we get a completely different point-of-view.
Did this empire arise, exist and vanish merely out of political, military and economic considerations, from the aspirations of man?
Was it simply man’s ambitions and plans or is it God in control of all things?
There is a Sovereign who is on the throne!
*[P]* Hallelujah!
Directing and ordering events.
There were a couple of kings that Wikipedia mentioned, that the Bible has quite a bit to say about: their names were Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus – men!
In previous talks I have shown how the Bible tells us that God is sovereign over: inanimate things: *[P]* things on earth: land, sea and air.
That He is sovereign over the heavens, the unimaginably vast, but also over the inconceivably small detail, down to seemingly random quantum events.
That is fine; that God controls things that have no will, but what about living things?
I showed that the Bible is sovereign over living things; *[P]* both plants and animals.
Last time I showed that the Bible also tells us that God is also sovereign over the spiritual realm: *[P]* angels, demons, even satan himself.
But what about man?! *[P]* Is he the only thing excluded?! Yes, יְהוָה is sovereign even over man!
This is what God’s Word says: [*Psalm 33:8-15* /Let all the earth fear יְהוָה; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.
For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.
יְהוָה nullifies the counsel of the nations; He frustrates the plans of the peoples.
The counsel of יְהוָה stands forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation.
Blessed is the nation whose God is יְהוָה, the people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance.
יְהוָה looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men; from His dwelling place He looks out On all the inhabitants of the earth, He who fashions the hearts of them all, He who understands all their works/.]
יְהוָה frustrates man’s plans, but His plans stand.
He fashions their hearts.
He looks, He understands, He knows what’s going on.
In looking at יְהוָה’s sovereignty over man, let’s begin with some important and powerful men – kings, in fact, emperors – they ruled over many nations, over a huge empire.
They are big enough and important enough for God to be concerned with.
I mean, what they did affected the whole world.
They were powerful men, kings, but what does the Bible say?: *[P]* [*Proverbs 21:1*/ //The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of יְהוָה; he turns it wherever he will./]
If you were with me at the start of the series this may seem familiar, both the picture and the verse.
In fact, in my introductory message in this series I spoke of three kings: Sennacherib, Cyrus and Nebuchadnezzar.
Today I want to talk just about the last two – a “Tale of Two Kings”.
*[P]* I don’t want to repeat the same stuff – but now, as we look of the sovereignty of God over man, it is interesting to see God’s perspective on these two rulers, in contrast to the picture you will get from Dr. Google, from man’s perspective.
The Bible gives us the head’s perspective, not that image of the tail.
Scripture gives us history from God’s point-of-view, from the view of the Sovereign on the throne who is in control of all, directing everything according to His will, plan and purpose.
It has precious little to do with man’s plans, power and will.
The Bible reveals the Divine dramatist.
We have no problem with an author writing a book; creating characters, some bad, some good, having them do the actions he has determined in order to make his story – well “history” is “His story”!
Nor do we object to a playwright; devising a drama with characters of his own design, natures that he has determined, performing the drama that conveys his message.
Cannot יְהוָה do so with the real live characters that He has created?
Always God’s sovereignty stems back to His creation – He can do as He chooses with what He has made.
So what does the Bible tell us about *Nebuchadnezzar:* *[P]* History tells us that Nebuchadnezzar extended the neo-Babylonian world, conquering nation after nation.
He had this ambition to extend his rule, power and dominion.
But what does the Bible say: *[P]* [*Jeremiah 28:14* ‘/For thus says יְהוָה of armies, the God of Israel, “I have put a yoke of iron on the neck of all these nations, that they may serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; and they will serve him.
And I have also given him the beasts of the field.”
/’ ”] How come these nations were defeated by Nebuchadnezzar?
Was it his military might, his army, his strategy, his ambition and campaigns?
No! “/I put a yoke on the neck of these nations that they may serve Nebuchadnezzar/.”
They were serving Nebuchadnezzar because it was יְהוָה’s will and He put them into servitude.
It was יְהוָה’s plan and purpose.
Google doesn’t mention that!
Of course although יְהוָה controls all the nations and determines what happens to them, but His purpose centres around His own special people, Israel.
Judah had not heeded His warnings, they had embraced idolatry and rejected Him; so, just as He had promised in His Word, יְהוָה sent them into exile into a foreign land.
Babylon was His instrument to discipline His people: *[P]* [*Jeremiah 25:9* /Behold, I will send and take all the families of the north,’ declares יְהוָה, ‘and I will send to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, My servant, and will bring them against this land/ (“this land” being the land of Judah) /and against its inhabitants and against all these nations round about; and I will utterly destroy them and make them a horror and a hissing, and an everlasting desolation/.]
Who sent Nebuchadnezzar?
O.K., the armies of Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the land and the people, but what does the Scripture say? “I will utterly destroy them”!
We may be keen to defend God and show that He is loving and merciful and would not do such a mean thing; but יְהוָה Himself, is quite prepared to take responsibility for what He does and say that it is He who destroys them.
Not Nebuchadnezzar, but יְהוָה.
Nebuchadnezzar was just the instrument that He used – יְהוָה calls him “My servant” – he just did according as his Master directed.
We say that Hitler killed 6 million Jews, but of course he didn’t personally execute them.
Nevertheless he did it because it was at his instigation, he was responsible, he made it happen.
So too, יְהוָה is the one who was the one who destroyed them; and He has no qualms about owning to it.
So He says in: *[P]* [*Jeremiah 25:27* /“You shall say to them, ‘Thus says יְהוָה of armies, the God of Israel, “Drink, be drunk, vomit, fall and rise no more because of the sword which I will send among you.”/]
Who sent the sword that killed them?
יְהוָה!
He is sovereign.
יְהוָה was using Nebuchadnezzar to discipline His people, to punish them: *[P]* [*Isaiah 42:24-25* /Who gave Jacob up for spoil, and Israel to plunderers?
Was it not יְהוָה, against whom we have sinned, and in whose ways they were not willing to walk, and whose law they did not obey?
So He poured out on him the heat of His anger and the fierceness of battle; and it set him aflame all around, yet he did not recognize it;/(that is our trouble, we don’t recognize the sovereignty of God – that it is He who has done it.
It is not circumstances, political movements and ambitions – God is in control!)/ and it burned him, but he paid no attention./]
That is the tragedy of man!
He pays no attention to what יְהוָה is doing – attributes it to merely natural causes.
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