“The people that do know their God shall be strong and do exploit.” ~Daniel 11:32
One of the great problems of popular Christian theology is that it has a low view of God, and a high view of man. This low view of God is reflected in various ways: It is revealed in a fashionable presentation of the gospel, which teaches that God cannot save whom He wills, when He wills, and how He wills. Man’s free will is stronger than God’s free grace.
A low view of God, is reflected when Christians forget that God will supply all of our needs according to His riches in glory. A low view of God, is revealed in the poor attendance in prayer meeting and worship services. “Why praise a God who cannot really help?” is the unspoken attitude. “Why encourage our children, or anyone else, to come to church when even the parents and parishioners do not like it, or find the services meaningless? Worship is an option!”
Some theologians are talking about a post-Christian world. Before long, if people are not careful, we will be talking about a post-church world in America. God, His church, and His Word, is not the greatest priority in the life of many professing Christians. People have discovered that ministries can exist without the Lord. No longer do men say, “Behold what God hath wrought.” Rather, there is the longing for personal recognition. and the soul cries out, “Look what I have done!”
A low view of God, is manifested in that we seek for the wisdom of the world to guide us in our ministry efforts, instead of seeking diligently the Word of Truth for those principles and practices that have guided the church until the twentieth century. A new generation has forgotten, that except the Lord build the house we labor in vain.
“Where is the power of the Holy Spirit?”
“Where is biblical faith?”
“Where are the all-night prayer meetings, and the seasons of calling upon God?”
There are people that do not know their God. In contrast to those souls who do not really know their God, there is the strength of Scriptures which offers a powerful proclamation. It was the position of the prophet Daniel that, “The people that do know their God shall be strong and do exploit.” Daniel was speaking from personal experience. Daniel knew God.
First, Daniel knew God as a person. God was not an abstract concept to Daniel. He believed that God existed. He believed that God loved Him, and cared for Him. Daniel believed that if he spoke God would listen. Because of this belief, Daniel prayed several times a day. And the Lord heard his prayers. If you would know God, speak to Him often.
Second, Daniel knew God as God. The Lord was not a god among many deities. Nor was He the figment of an over fertile imagination. God was God. Daniel knew that God was holy and sovereign. The sovereignty of God refers to “…the supremacy of God, the kingship of God, the godhead of God.”
To say that God is sovereign, is to declare that God is God.
To say that God is sovereign, is to declare that He is the Most High, doing according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the Earth, so that none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, what doest Thou? (Dan. 4:35).
To say that God is sovereign, is to declare that He is the Almighty, the Possessor of all power in heaven and earth, so that none can defeat His counsels, thwart His purpose, or resist His will. (Psa.115:3).
To say that God is sovereign, is to declare that He is “The Governor among the nations” (Psa. 22:28), setting up kingdoms, overthrowing empires, and determining the course of dynasties as pleaseth Him best.
To say that God is sovereign, is to declare that He is the “Only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords” (1 Tim. 6:15). Such is the God of the Bible” (A.W. Pink). Oh, that such a God would be known and worshiped today!
It was not easy for Daniel to set forth afresh the concept of a sovereign God to the people of his generation, because the Jews were a nation enslaved. In 586 BC the mighty armies of Babylon, led by King Nebuchadnezzar had invaded Palestine. Jerusalem was destroyed.
The Temple was burned.
Homes were demolished.
Women were raped.
Men were butchered.
Children were trampled under the foot of soldiers.
It seemed as if God had abandoned His chosen people! Leading citizens were bound in chains, and deported to far away towns and cities. Among the captives of Jerusalem were Daniel and his friends. And yet, despite all the horrors and hardships, Daniel pled with people not to forget God. In particular, they must not forget that God is sovereign, even amidst the ravages of sin and sickness, death and darkness. “The people who know their God shall be strong.”
If the Jews needed a reminder of the sovereignty of God, even over their terrible situation, there was historical evidence. Many were the times when God showed Himself sovereign in the exercise of His power, but He did so in different ways.
For example, when Pharaoh dared to stop Israel from going forth to worship Jehovah in the wilderness—what happened? God exercised His power. The river ran with blood. The cattle died with diseases, and the Angel Of Death passed over the land.
However, when the Amalekites dared to attack the Exodus generation in the wilderness—what happened? Were these enemies of the people of God immediately overthrown and destroyed? No. Rather the Lord swore that He would “have war with Amalek from generation to generation” (Ex. 17:16).
It is God’s prerogative to decide how He will display His sovereign power, and where He will display it. When the Jews finally entered into the land of Canaan, God’s power was manifested in different ways. When the city of Jericho had to be taken, Israel did not storm the walls. The Lord stretched forth His hand and the walls fell down flat. But the miracle was not repeated, and the other cities had to be conquered by the sword.
Throughout human history, the sovereign exercise of divine power has been manifested. David was delivered out of the mouth of a lion, and out of the hand of Saul, but other saints, “had trials of cruel mockings and scourging, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword; they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented” (Heb.11: 36,37). But why? Why did these things have to be? Could God not deliver His own? The answer is, “yes!” God could do whatsoever He wills, for He is sovereign in the exercise of His power.
Again, God is sovereign in the delegation of His power to others. To some He gives physical vitality. Methuselah was endowed with health, which enabled him to live longer than any other human in history. Samson was given unusual physical strength, which no one else has ever possessed. In Deuteronomy 8:18 it is written, “But thou shall remember the Lord thy God: for it is He that giveth thee power to get wealth.” God does not give this power to all people alike.
There are relative few men like J.C. Penny, John D. Rockefeller, Bill Gates, Ross Perot, Steve Jobs, or Warren Buffett. Why not? The answer is this. God is sovereign and being sovereign, He does as He pleases.
To press the point, it can be stated that God is sovereign in the exercise of His mercy. Sometimes the mercy of God is far reaching. There are men who curse and blaspheme, defy God and hurt others, but are gloriously saved in the last hour of life, like the thief on the Cross. But then there is Moses. The sentence of death was passed upon Moses for one act of disobedience. He sought the Lord for mercy, but his desire was not granted. Moses told Israel, “The Lord is wroth with me for your sakes and would not hear me: and the Lord said unto me, Let it suffice thee.” Deuteronomy 3:26 Though Hezekiah was not a better person than Moses, when he grew sick and prayed, the prophet Isaiah was commanded to return to the King and say, “Thus saith the Lord, the God of David thy Father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee.” 2 Kings 20:1-6.
Romans 9:15 summarizes the sovereign expression of mercy, for the Lord declares, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”
As God is sovereign in the exercise of His mercy, so He is sovereign in the exercise of His love. Jesus said, “A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from above.” John 3:27 If a person is the object of God’s special love, it is because He is the object of a sovereign choice. God does not choose to love everyone. God does not love the devil. There is nothing in Satan to love. But then, there is nothing in you or me to attract the love of God. Why then, are we the objects of saving grace? The answer is sovereign love.
Ephesians 1:3-5 puts it this way: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.”
It was in love; it was in His sovereign selection of love, that God the Father predestinated His chosen ones to salvation. The grateful heart can only sing,
“I am so glad that Jesus loves me,
Jesus loves me, Jesus loves me.
I am so glad that Jesus loves,
Jesus loves even me.”
The sovereign love of God is manifested in the exercise of sovereign grace. Grace is favor shown to the undeserving, and thus to the Hell deserving. All men deserve Hell in the sight of Divine justice, for the laws of God have been violated. No one has a right to grace. No one is entitled to God’s grace. And yet it is freely given. It was in grace, that God decided to redeem souls for His glory. It was in grace, that a plan of salvation was designed. It was in grace, that Jesus took our place on Calvary.
“Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt,
Yonder on Calvary’s mount out poured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilt,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sins.”
Julia H. Johnston
As we come to know the grace of God better, we will know the sovereignty of God better which will provide spiritual strength. Our passage says that they who knew their God shall be strong.
First, the people of God will be strong in faith. Usually, at the moment of salvation, faith is rather weak. Enough faith is given to fully cast our souls upon the work of Christ, but faith is weak. With the disciples we ask, “Lord, increase our faith.” Time passes. New situations emerge. Pressure mounts. Faith is tested. There are spiritual giants to slay. There are high mountains to climb. There are mighty rivers to cross. We lift up our voices and cry out, “Where is the God of Elijah?” And then, like Elisha, we smite the waters, they part hither and yonder and we pass over (2 Kings 2:14). We are stronger in faith.
Second, the people who know their God are strong in prayer. We pray to a sovereign God who still has control over His creation. We believe that the Creator can change the hearts of men. Not only can He make the blind to see, the deaf to hear, and the lame to walk. But He can raise the dead. God can cause those who are dead in trespasses and sin to live and shine as the stars in heaven. Because of a strong belief in the sovereignty of God we can take our petitions for whatever we want and present them for His consideration.
Third, those who know their God shall be strong in the spirit. As God is sovereign so He is spirit, and He will pour out His Spirit upon those who pray and believe, as illustrated in what happened at Pentecost. As people waited and prayed, the Holy Spirit fell. New power was received to do exploit according to promise.
In like manner, it was because Samson knew God, that he could slay the Philistines in the hour of his death.
It was because David knew his God that he could kill Goliath.
It was because Solomon knew God,
that he could request wisdom.
It was because Hannah knew her God that she could plead for a child.
It was because Mary knew God, that she could be the mother of the Messiah.
We believe that if the church today only knew God better, we would be stronger, and do greater exploits in our community and throughout the world.
The challenge comes for us to seek to know God in all of His splendor, and sovereign glory. Amen.