Dolbadarn Castle Ruins, Maggie T’s Death, Sovereignty of God
It is possible that while we were hiking the Miners’ Track up Snowdon, Margaret Thatcher had a stroke in her room in the Ritz in London and died.
The next day, I wandered up the little knoll in Llanberis that held the ruins of the castle keep of Dolbadarn Castle, still full of the news of Maggie T’s death, thoughts swirling with bits of Daniel 4 – 5 that would be the subject of bible studies for the fortnight ahead.
The tributes continue to dribble in as the hate parties drag on. But in the sweep of human history, what she did or didn’t do will soon be forgotten; as much as the politicking that went on in Dolbadarn Castle is now known only by silent stones. And Maggie Thatcher was never as big as King Nebuchadnezzar was in his time. Nebby had, amongst many other displays of military might, defeated Judah and Jerusalem, and was no fan of their God. Yet this was what the great Nebby had to say, upon realising there was a king of far greater power than he:
His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and his dominion endures from generation to generation. (Daniel 4:3b)
I blessed the Most High, and praised and honoured him who lives for ever,
for his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
and his kingdom endures from generation to generation;
all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
and he does according to his will among the host of heaven
and among the inhabitants of the earth;
and none can stay his hand
or say to him, “What have you done?” (Daniel 4:34-35)
What God? Why bother about a God that no one can see, and who might not even be there? Why not worry about the very real powers who have apparent control over our lives in this world? As Daniel warned Nebuchadnezzar’s successor, Belshazzar, do not be fooled – for it this God who appoints these kings and rulers and gives them their power and can take it away again:
O king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father kingship and greatness and glory and majesty. And because of the greatness that he gave him, all peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him. Whom he would, he killed, and whom he would, he kept alive; whom he would, he raised up, and whom he would, he humbled. But when his heart was lifted up and his spirit was hardened so that he dealt proudly, he was brought down from his kingly throne, and his glory was taken from him. He was driven from among the children of mankind, and his mind was made like that of a beast, and his dwelling was with the wild donkeys. He was fed grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, until he knew that the Most High God rules the kingdom of mankind and sets over it whom he will. And you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this, but you have lifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven. And the vessels of his house have been brought in before you, and you and your lords, your wives, and your concubines have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see or hear or know, but the God in whose hand is your breath, and whose are all your ways, you have not honoured.
Then from his presence the hand was sent, and this writing was inscribed. And this is the writing that was inscribed: Mene, Mene, Tekel, and Parsin. This is the interpretation of the matter: Mene, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; Tekel, you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting; Peres, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” (Daniel 5:18-28)
But it is far too easy to forget the awesomeness of God. After teaching Daniel 3 a few weeks ago, I was chatting with someone in a Costa Coffee, and I might have sighed self-piteously and worried about The Great Unknown, at which, the said individual, being Irish and therefore not prone to the mollycoddling prevalent in certain English Christian circles, said, accusatory finger pointed,”Didn’t you just teach us that God is in complete control?”
“And didn’t you just say there are not ‘but’s because God is sovereign over all things – the big events of human history as well as the small minute things of every day life?”
“Yeah, well…you see…in this case…”
“And didn’t we learn that God isn’t just powerful, but he also looks after his people and works for their good as he works to bring his promises to pass and glorify his own name? And so we can trust him and so obey him even though he may not save us physically now?”