Blessed Be the Name of God Who Changes Times and Seasons (Daniel 2:20-21)
…“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. 21 He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding;” —Daniel 2:20-21
What better time to memorize Daniel 2:20-21 than at the beginning of this new year?
What better time to be reminded that God is the source of all “wisdom and might” than when we stand on the threshold of a new year mindful of our limitations and weakness?
What better time to acknowledge the One who “changes times and seasons” than when we hang a new calendar that assumes spring will arrive on March 19th and summer will follow on June 20th and fall will begin on September 22nd and Winter will return four days before Christmas?
What better time to bless the name of Him who “removes kings and sets up kings” than before 10 months of activity that assumes the campaigning, debating, caucusing, and voting will determine the next U.S. president.
Our Fighter Verses this week are Daniel’s first recorded words after God revealed the mystery of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. He woke up as a foreigner in a land of idol worship and wickedness with praise on his lips to the One who made known what otherwise could not be known. Daniel’s heart desire was for the name of the only true God, to be blessed forever and ever. In the first two verses of his song, Daniel exalts God as the source of all wisdom and might—giving “wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.” This glorious truth is one of the threads woven throughout the book of Daniel and is worthy of our reflection as this new year dawns.
From his first encounter with Daniel and his friends, Nebuchadnezzar had observed that “in every matter of wisdom and understanding…they were ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom” (1:20). Following the interpretation of his dream, Nebuchadnezzar confessed that Daniel’s God “is the God of gods and Lord of kings, and revealer of mysteries” (2:47). But it apparently did not sink in. In chapter 3, Nebuchadnezzar exalted himself above Daniel’s God, tossed his three friends into the furnace only to confess in the end that they were indeed, “servants of the Most High God” (3:26). With the truth not yet embraced, we find Nebuchadnezzar in chapter 4, on his roof declaring “is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power…for the glory of my majesty?” We was then “driven from among men and ate grass like an ox” (4:33). Not until the end of his life could Nebuchadnezzar see and embrace the God that Daniel worshiped, after receiving the interpretation of the king’s dream.
Taking time to not only memorize but reflect and meditate on these two verses alone can guard us against the same self-exalting blindness that plagued Nebuchadnezzar for most of his reign. We are guarded and also helped as the Word cultivates Daniel-like confidence in God that can keep us steady through whatever circumstances lie before us. How much more if we give ourselves this year to the regular memorization of God’s Word?! Few people have affirmed this discipline and memorized Fighter Verses more faithfully than Pastor John Piper. I enjoyed fresh inspiration and encouragement for another year of Bible memorization after reading his article, “Plunge Your Mind into the Ocean of God’s Sovereignty.”
Sometimes we need to plunge our minds into the ocean of God’s sovereignty. We need to feel the weight of it, like deep and heavy water pressing in against every pore, the deeper we go. A billion rivers of providence pour into this ocean. And God himself gathers up all his countless deeds — from eternity to eternity — and pours them into the currents of his infallible revelation. He speaks, and explains, and promises, and makes his awesome, sovereign providence the place we feel most reverent, most secure, most free.
Sometimes we need to be reminded by God himself that there are no limits to his rule. We need to hear from him that he is sovereign over the whole world, and everything that happens in it. We need his own reminder that he is never helpless, never frustrated, never at a loss. We need his assurance that he reigns over ISIS, terrorism, Syria, Russia, China, India, Nigeria, France, Myanmar, Saudi Arabia, and the United States of America — every nation, every people, every language, every tribe, every chief, president, king, premier, prime minister, and politician, great or small.
Sometimes we need to hear specific statements from God himself about his own authority. We need God’s own words. It is the very words of God that have unusual power to settle our nerves and make us stable, wise, and courageous.
What better time to plunge our minds into the ocean of God’s sovereignty than at beginning of a new year, a new decade, and a new election cycle? May God saturate our minds with truth so that we can face the uncertainties of this year with confidence in Him whose “dominion is an everlasting dominion” and “whose kingdom endures from generation to generation” (the words of an enlightened king in Daniel 4:34).
Read through the book of Daniel this month and note the many times God is exalted and His attributes praised.