My God and My Neighbor

May 29, 2024

Does God Care About What’s Happening?

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In a world of war and killing, it might appear that God doesn’t know or doesn’t care what is happening. Even some prophets of God in the Bible couldn’t understand why God didn’t put an end to evil. But God has reasons. He does things in His own time. He takes into account everyone in all ages. Yes, God sees and He cares. More importantly, He is at work in the world in ways we cannot see—even in great and powerful governments. He sets up kings and puts down kings (Dan. 2:21). He rules in the kingdoms of men (Dan. 4:17). And He does this not to toy with nations but to accomplish His purposes, the most important of which is the greatest kingdom of all—the church.


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  • Scriptures: The books of Daniel and Isaiah
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Kerry Duke: Hi, I’m Kerry Duke, host of My God and My Neighbor podcast from Tennessee Bible College, where we see the Bible as not just another book, but the Book. Join us in a study of the inspired word to strengthen your faith and to share what you’ve learned with others.

The United States and Israel, China and Russia, Iran and North Korea – these are the countries everyone is talking about. These nations are powerful. They are so strong that a shift in power in any one of them can affect the whole planet. And if one of them pushes another one too far, the result could be a war the likes of which we’ve never seen.

God is watching all the nations of the earth. He is listening to every speech, every campaign promise, every threat, and He’s watching every secret plan the leaders of nations are making.

In the Bible God looks at the great powers of the world like the waters of the sea. In Isaiah 17 the Lord said, “Woe to the multitude of many people who make a noise like the roar of the seas, and to the rushing of nations that make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters! The nations will rush like the rushing of many waters; But God will rebuke them” (Isa. 17:12-13).

What a prefect description of powerful nations! They do what Isaiah said the seas do. They make a lot of noise. Leaders boast about how great they are. Countries pride themselves in their history, their money, and their armies. They make loud but empty promises and issue idle threats. And just like the waves of the sea, this never ends. That is why people never stop talking about the latest news from these nations.

Daniel saw a vision in Daniel chapter 7. He saw “the four winds of heaven were stirring up the Great Sea” (v. 2). That chapter foretells the future of the great world powers in ancient times. The Babylonians were the reigning super power at the time. But the Persians would conquer Babylon in Daniel’s lifetime. Then over two hundred years later the Greeks led by Alexander the Great would defeat the Persians. But the Greek empire would divide and eventually the mighty Roman Empire would take center stage. All that is foretold by Daniel the prophet of God.

And what was the world like in the midst of all this commotion? It was like the waves and winds of the ocean. These nations competed against each other like the wind blowing in all directions. The great superpowers clashed with each other like the great waves of the sea collide. And just as the ocean constantly rages, the nations of the world are never at rest. To this day nations compete and push and war against each other. Yet none of them keep the upper hand long.

But God is not just observing all this. He is involved. The Bible teaches that God works in governments to bring about His will in His time.

In the same book of Daniel, the Bible gives these remarkable words: “The Most High rules in the kingdom of men, gives it to whomever He will, and sets over it the lowest of men” (Daniel 4:17). Daniel 2:21says, “He removes kings and raises up kings.” The whole book of Daniel is an astounding commentary on these verses.

If you just read that short book, you will see two things. One: The world has not changed. It is the same today as it was in Daniel’s day. Nations rise and nations fall. Nations war against each other. Some win and some lose. And these wars can last for years and take a heavy toll on human life.

Two: God accomplishes His plans in spite of and even in the midst of all this conflict! You will notice in the book of Daniel that he describes a shift in world powers briefly and with a noticeable calm. He does not go into a lot of detail about administrative decisions like political analysts today. He summarizes centuries of government changes in just a few words.

Here is a good example. In Daniel 2 the prophet interpreted a dream of the most powerful man on earth—Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon. His dream was a bad dream. It bothered him. But Daniel told him what the dream meant. The image he saw in the dram represented the great nations of the world in his time and in times to come. Daniel 2:38-40 says, “You are this head of gold. But after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours; then another, a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth. And the fourth kingdom shall be as strong as iron, inasmuch as iron breaks in pieces and shatters everything; and like iron that crushes, that kingdom will break in pieces and crush all the others.” Those kingdoms were the Babylonian empire, the Persian empire, the Greek empire and the Roman Empire. In these few words God summarized over 700 years of history! He talks about the change in world powers as matter-of- factly as we would talk about winter turning to spring or summer ending and fall beginning!

How can God speak like this about events that affect so much of the world? Because to God “the nations are as a drop in a bucket” (Isa. 40:15). The Bible says, “All nations before Him are as nothing, and they are counted by Him less than nothing and worthless” (Isa. 40:17). The power of nations can impress or intimidate us, but to God they are nothing.

This chapter in the book of Isaiah (chapter 40) brings us back to our senses. God set forth a very simple way to think about the great governments and armies in the world. Here is what God asked, “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, measured heaven with a span and calculated the dust of the earth in a measure? Weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance?” (Isa. 40:12).

Do we take the time to think about how easy it was for God to make this universe? This verse says God measured the waters in the hollow of His hand. That is all the water on the face of the earth. That is the trillions and trillions of tons of water in the oceans, the seas, the lakes, the rivers and the streams. Can you comprehend that much water? God said He made all that water as easily as you would scoop up water in the palm of your hand!

Then God said that He measured heaven with a span. This heaven is not where God is. It is the sky far above us where the sun, moon, and stars are. The sheer enormity of this universe baffles the minds of the greatest scientists. Astronomers try to calculate the distance from the earth to remote stars and tell us that it would take light years to get there.

How can people say they do not believe in God? The Bible says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork” (Psa. 19:1). It also says that a person is a fool who thinks all this just happened by chance. “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psa. 14:1).

It is not just that God created all this thousands of years ago. That should be enough to remind anyone of God. But God did not just make this great universe. He sustains it. He keeps the sun burning. He keeps the law of gravity in place. He gives life and breath and all things (Acts 17:25). Not just the initial creation of the world but its continual existence is from the hand of God.

But that is not all that God said in Isaiah 40:12. He calculated the dust of the earth in a measure. The Hebrew word for measure literally means three. Many translators believe the idea is a measurement, perhaps a third of a measurement the Hebrews used like an ephah. The point seems to be this. God made all the dust of the earth as easily as you would measure out a small amount of flour or meal. The size of this earth staggers the mind. But to God it is a small thing.

This same chapter in Isaiah says that God is “He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in. He brings the princes to nothing; He makes the judges of the earth useless” (Isaiah 40:22-23).

What is God saying in these verses? He is saying that if He could create this incredible universe and sustain it with His mighty hand, then the nations of the world in all their glory and strength and wisdom are nothing to Him. What can man do against the forces of nature? Can men tame a hurricane? Can governments send their armies to stop a tornado? Can scientists even create a single blade of grass or make an ant? God made all this out of nothing! And do we forget that God made man and without Him we could not even breathe?

Why should we fear what men can do? God can raise up governments and put them down when and how He wishes. And why do Christians worry so much about wars and rumors of wars that they neglect their everyday duties as Christians and lose the joy God gives so freely?

You might say, “But do we know that God’s hand is in human governments, working His will without overriding theirs?”

Yes we do. The passage we have already mentioned teaches this clearly. Let’s notice it again. Daniel 4:17 says, “The Most High rules in the kingdom of men, gives it to whomever He will, and sets over it the lowest of men.”

Notice what this verse says. First, God rules in the kingdom of men. He is involved. He intervenes. We do not know how. That is not our business. It is a fact that we need to respect. Second, gives it—power, position, might—to whomever He decides to give it to. And we are mistaken if we think God only gives power to nations that are good or to rulers who are righteous. The last part of the verse clarifies that. Thus, third, God sets up the lowest of men over nations.

This may seem strange to us, but the Bible is full of examples of this. God raised up Pharaoh to sit on the throne in Egypt. He was a wicked man who had no respect for God, but the Lord told him, “But indeed for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth” (Exod. 9:16). God raised him up—to sit on the throne as king, that is.

The Lord did not speak to him in a dream or vision. He did not send a prophet to tell him he would be the next king. God did this through His remarkable providence. Somehow in ways that we cannot see or comprehend, the Lord works in the hearts and lives of men. He never makes them do evil or good. He never takes away their free will; He does not turn men like Pharaoh into robots. But the Lord opens doors and closes doors to accomplish His purposes.

In the case of Pharaoh the king of Egypt, God had a plan for putting him on the throne. That purpose was twofold. First, God said He placed Pharaoh in this position of power so that He could show His power in this powerful ruler. The plagues demonstrated God’s power. Pharaoh with all his riches and power and worldly wisdom was no match for the hand of God. Second, the Lord wanted His name to be spread throughout the earth. The plagues in Egypt and the deliverance of the Hebrew people did that. When the Israelites years later came to the edge of the promised land, Rahab said, “We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt” (Josh. 2:10).

God does not intervene in governments just to give power to one and to topple another. He has much bigger purposes. That is what we must remember. That is what we must teach. Many people are only interested in the political side of this issue. They are only concerned about their own safety in their own country. And it seems that many who profess Christianity assume that the hand of God will always be in our favor. They say, “God is on our side” and “God bless America” like those words are some kind of promise from God. Some people quote these sayings like they are Scripture.

God works in human governments to accomplish His will. And sometimes that will is not to bless a nation but to punish it. God put Pharaoh on the throne to punish him and the Egyptians and, at the same time, to bless and deliver the Hebrew slaves.

Many times in the Old Testament God used one nation to punish another nation. In fact, this is so common that it would do any Christian good to read the Old Testament more often for this reason alone. Of course, there are other reasons to study the Old Testament. But in a day when we hear so much about national troubles and international conflicts, we need to be reminded that God is, as we sometimes say without thinking much about it, that “God is in control.” We need to remember that Isaiah said this is His world. He created it. He maintains it. He manages it. He owns it.

The history of the Israelite people after their release from Egypt is a continuous story of God using one nation to bless His people and another nation or nations to punish them. In the book of Judges God delivered His people many times into the hands of their enemies when they left Him as their God.

From the time of the first king of Israel until the Babylonian captivity God worked in foreign nations as well as in the Jewish nation. He used the Assyrians to punish the northern tribes of Israel in II Kings 17 because of their heinous sins. The Bible says, “And the Lord rejected all the descendants of Israel, afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of plunderers, until He had cast them from His sight…So Israel was carried away from their own land to Assyria, as it is to this day” (II Kings 17:20,23).

Over a century later God also used the Assyrians to humble the people of Judah. The Lord said, “Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger and the staff in whose hand is My indignation. I will send him against an ungodly nation, and against the people of My wrath I will give him charge, to seize the spoil, to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets. Yet he does not mean so, nor does his heart think so; But it is in his heart to destroy, and cut off not a few nations” (Isaiah 10:5-7). God said the Assyrians had no idea He was using them to punish His people Judah. But they were like a rod in the hand of God.

The people of Judah humbled themselves under the leadership of king Hezekiah, but that did not last long. After Hezekiah died, his son Manasseh became king. He was just the opposite of his father. He was one of the most wicked men in the Bible. The country lapsed into gross idolatry again. His grandson Josiah was ironically one of the greatest men in the Bible; he “cleaned house” in Judah and got rid of the idols. But the country went back to serving idols after he died and God said enough is enough.

That is when God sent the Babylonians to punish the people of Judah. In fact, God even said the king of Babylon was His “servant.” In Jeremiah 25:9 God mentioned “Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant.” Nebuchadnezzar was not aware of the fact that he was accomplishing God’s will in this. He worshipped the pagan gods of the Chaldeans. He was like the Assyrians. Isaiah 10 says they were like a rod in God’s hand without realizing it. In the same way, God used the Babylonians to execute His judgment on the Jews because of their sins.

Here is another verse that teaches what Daniel said about the providence of God in human affairs. Proverbs 21:1 says, “ The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.” This was written through inspiration by a man who was a king—Solomon!

King Solomon was not like some today who say man does not do anything because God decrees everything that happens whether it is good or evil. The Bible teaches that everyone chooses to do good or evil. In Deuteronomy 30:19 God told the Israelites, “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.” Joshua told the people, “And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve” (Josh. 24:15). Moses chose “to suffer affliction with the people of God” rather than to “enjoy the passing pleasures of sin” (Heb. 11:26).

God does not explain how He works behind the scenes like this. Even if He did, how could we comprehend it? We cannot even understand how He can read our minds or how He is everywhere at the same time. Why should we think we can fathom something as deep as his divine providence?

What does all of this mean for us as Christians?

First, these verses show that powerful rulers—Presidents, Prime Ministers, Kings, and others—need to remember that they only have power because God allows it.

When Belshazzar the king of Babylon blasphemed God during a drunken party, Daniel reminded him that God held the king’s breath in His hand. Daniel said, “The God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified” (Dan. 5:23). The most powerful men on earth are just like the rest of us. Their life is in the hand of God.

When Jesus would not answer Pilate, the proud Roman  governor responded, “Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?” (John 19:11). Jesus told him, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above” (John 19:11). Rulers have authority. They have that authority from God. The Bible teaches that and it tells us to respect that authority. Romans 13:1 says, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.” That verse tells us how we should view the authority of government. The same Bible tells rulers to remember where they got that power.

You will rarely hear a person in power admit this. They think they got to the position they are in by getting a good education, scheming, manipulating people, or buying a political office. And those are definitely factors in many cases. But these verses tell us there is a much bigger picture. You will not hear about it on the news or from politicians, but there is a God in heaven that can put down or raise up leaders whenever He decides.

Second, these passages teach us to trust in God. He knows the future, and that includes the future of nations. He knows the outcome of the wars we are seeing. He knows who will win the next election and what that will do for our country. He knows—assuming that time lasts—when and how America will fall. Isaiah 46:10 says God declares “the end from the beginning.”

Do you trust God about the future of the country? Too many times when we say this we have in mind earthly benefits. We mean that we trust God to keep the economy from going bad. We mean that we trust God to keep us from war. We mean that we trust Him to preserve our freedom. But are we thinking about what is best for us or what we want?

Prosperity makes life enjoyable. But the Bible shows and history confirms that people tend to forget God when times are good. They also tend to forget about others.

Peace is a good thing. War is horrible. But as you read the Old Testament you see that war is how God reset civilizations. Human beings are so stubborn that it takes the worst calamities to wake us up.

Freedom is wonderful—the freedom to travel, to enjoy your life, to raise your family without fear and to worship God without harassment—these are blessings from God. But it is easy to take for granted. And when that happens, people become careless and selfish and they stop loving God and caring for others.

God does not owe us these things. He made no promise that we will always have the lifestyle we have enjoyed for all these years. And, it may just be that we need to lose these blessings before we appreciate them like we should. If that is the will of God, then so be it. If He allows us to have them a few more years or many more years, then so be it. Either way, we need to trust in God that He will do what is best for our souls first.

Sometimes Christians pray that God will give us leaders who will turn this country around and bring us back to God. When did politicians ever do that? That is not their job anyway. Their job is to keep peace in our land by punishing people who do evil and by giving praise to citizens who do what is right. That is what the Bible teaches in I Peter 2:13-14, Romans 13:1-7, and I Timothy 2:1-2. Turning people away from sin is our job as Christians. The last time countries used the government to promote religion, it did not work out too well in Europe.

The popular way of looking at government is to expect the government to do for us. People constantly turn to the government for solutions to every problem. They ask, “What is the government going to do about this? When is somebody in Congress going to make a stand?”

We have a right to want leaders who will do the right thing. I am certainly not saying it should not bother us when high officials legalize same-sex marriage, when they promote transgenderism, when they defy the Creator, when they punish Christians for their beliefs. And we are foolish if we give people who agree with these things a place of authority. But if the Bible says that God sets up the lowest of men in human governments in Daniel 4:17, and if God does all things for the best from His perspective, we had better not assume that He will give us righteous leaders. There may be far more involved in the situation than we can imagine.

That may be another reason why God does not tell us when and how he works behind the scenes. We would probably disagree with what He is doing if He told us, at least in some cases. Do you think that is exaggerating? There was a prophet of God in the Old Testament who was sick of all the corruption in the leaders of His people. He prayed to God again and again but nothing changed. He asked God that age-old question: “How long”—how much longer, lord, are you going to stand by and do nothing about this?” Finally God spoke to him. His name was Habakkuk. God told him “I’m about to do something you won’t believe!” The Lord said He would send the Babylonians into Judah to punish the wicked Jews the prophet complained about.

But instead of saying, “Finally! I’m glad at last that you heard my prayer,” Habakkuk asked God why He would do that. He said he was not being disrespectful, but: why would You, Lord, use a nation that is worse than we are to punish us? God put the prophet in his place. He told him He knew how evil the Babylonians were. He was not taking sides with them. In fact, God said He would punish them too—after He sent them to punish the Jews. But God said He would do that in His time, not when the prophet expected Him to.

Sometimes we pray to God like Habakkuk and grow impatient. Then when God does act, we do not like how He did it. What do we expect? Do we think we are wiser than God?

The problem is that see only a very small part of the whole picture. We think we have all the facts when we do not. We think we have a closed case when there are angles we have not thought about. And we are pathetically short-sighted in our opinions.

Even good men like Job and Habakkuk thought they had a case against the way God was handling evil in this world. But they did not have a clue. And if we are going to have any peace in this world, we need to read our Bible more and listen to the news a lot less.

We would do well to read the New Testament and ask what kind of government was in power when the church began. The Roman government was corrupt. Its kings and governors engaged in all kinds of lying and deception and killing and perversion. Nero was emperor of Rome when the church was spreading like wildfire. He was a sadistic, perverted, sociopath who eventually executed Christians for sport in the arenas. And yet the church did not just barely survive in this hostile world. It thrived in number and in spirit! And that took place at a time when the government had branded Christianity as an illegal religion! Many of the early saints knew nothing about freedom of religion! But they trusted in God.

Third, we need to understand that God works through human governments to accomplish His will for the greatest kingdom—the church. In the Old Testament, there was one nation that was different from all the rest—Israel. Why was it different? Because God promised the head of that nation—Abraham—that His descendants would become a great nation. That’s what we read in Genesis 12:1-3.

But in order for God to do that, He had to protect that nation. He had to keep their enemies from killing them. He had to protect them against natural disasters that could have wiped out this nation. The hand of God was with the Jewish people. Even when He used foreign nations to punish Israel, He always preserved some of them. God calls them the “remnant” in Isaiah. At times it looked like the Jewish people were on the verge of extinction. The book of Esther is one of those scenes. But God was merciful to His chosen people. He kept His word that He had sworn to Abraham. And all this involved, as Daniel said later, the Most High ruling in the kingdoms of men.

But it is very important to remember that God didn’t intervene for Israel just to keep their nation alive. God had a higher plan. He promised another nation—a nation that would be far greater than the political state of Old Testament Israel. God gave a higher promise. He promised that the Messiah would come and rule as king over this great kingdom—the church! When Daniel foretold the fall of the great superpowers—Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome—he said that God would set up another kingdom, a spiritual kingdom, that would overshadow all these nations. In Daniel 2:44 he said, “And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.”

That kingdom is the church! We know that because the New Testament says Christians were in it! In Colossians 1:13 Paul said, “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.” They were in the kingdom! In Revelation 1:9 John wrote, “I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ.” It is strange that many today use the book of Revelation to teach that the kingdom will come in the future and be a political nation when John tells us in the opening chapter that the kingdom was already here and Christians were in it! Hebrews 12:28 says, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.”

Here is the promise we need to remember about that kingdom. Just as God intervened for the physical nation of Israel in the Old Testament, He intervenes for the church in New Testament times! The hand of God was in the the affairs of the Jewish nation and the great Roman Empire in the first century. He works in the lives of men to bring about His will for the good of that special kingdom, the church! And God does this for the salvation of souls, not the preservation of some nation or form of human government.

So let’s remember the promise of Jesus: “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). Nations rise and nations fall, but even the “gates of hades” will not overcome the church (Matt. 16:18). The most important thing is not saving a country. It’s saving souls. Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16). That’s what people need to be concerned about.

Thank you for listening to My God and My Neighbor. Stay connected with our podcast on our website and on Apple, Spotify, YouTube, or wherever fine podcasts are distributed. Tennessee Bible College, providing Christian education since 1975 in Cookeville, Tennessee, offers undergraduate and graduate programs.

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