Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18
Through the US election this year, we have witnessed history in the making. A billionaire reality-TV star with his dyed blonde coif and orange spray tan has been voted by the people as the new President of the United States of America. This man, Donald Trump, is now the most powerful man in the free world, and the reaction to this has been nothing short of overwhelming.
Many of the citizens of the US who supported and voted for Trump, are revelling in this change, some even hopeful enough that he will be the saviour they need, and he will ‘Make America great again’. Those who were in the Clinton camp are left shell-shocked, many rioting in the streets, bashing Trump supporters, sprouting threats of assassination and immigration, and one citizen even defecated on a Trump sign on a public street! And those of us in other nations watch on, wondering how this will affect us as a society in general.
Changes of government, leaders, and kings have been occurring since the world began. The Old Testament is filled with the history of Israel; changes in leadership and kings; entire nations being overthrown by more powerful nations; entire people groups being annihilated. Israel had good kings and bad kings; times of prosperity and turmoil, wealth and destitution; abundance, and famines so great people ate their own children. We may feel as though we are living in days of turmoil and instability such as the world has never seen before, but that’s just not the case. At the end of his life, King Solomon sat and penned a few books of the Bible. In Ecclesiastes he shares much insight, but with a large measure of raw honesty. He offers us the profound, yet simple explanation that:
“What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.”
From these words I can hear him telling me to relax, this instability is not new, this kind of thing has happened before, and may even happen again. Ultimately Solomon reminds me that God is in control, and there is great comfort in that. There is comfort in reading the Bible and seeing that as God wove together the stories and events we read from thousands of years ago, He is continuing to weave together our stories and our history. Yes, it may be new and startling to us, but to God, it’s all part of His plan.
I know for a fact that this world will never have a human leader who will be our saviour. Yet we still continue to look for one! We know that we can’t solve our problems in and of ourselves, yet we expect someone as mortal, sinful, and as flawed as us, to save a country, and maybe even the planet! The thinking is crazy. Donald Trump is not going to make America great again. No leader can make a country great, as that leader is NOT actually in control. God in His sovereignty only allows our leaders a permissible amount of freedom and control. Ultimately every leader, every person, is under God’s authority, and the prophet Jeremiah confirmed this with his exclamation, “I know, O LORD, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.” (Jeremiah 10:23). Only God is in control. God sent His Son, Jesus, to die for us, and He alone is our Saviour. Looking outside of Jesus Christ for salvation is futile, so why do it at all?
So, all of this brings me back to the powerful words of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who knew that regardless of how tyrannical their king was (and he was!), that only God is in control. They submitted to the king’s laws, and their lives were dedicated to serving him and his kingdom. But when those laws opposed the reverence and worship due to God only, they firmly refused the king. They did not threaten to kill him, they were not disrespectful, they did not protest or defecate on images of the king. They knew and trusted in God and Him only. They knew that if they were thrown into the fiery furnace that God could deliver them, but even if God in His wisdom chose not to, He was still in control and they were subject to him. As it happened, Nebuchadnezzar was pretty upset about the response he received from the three men, and he threw them into the fiery furnace which was made seven times hotter than usual.
Most of us know this wonderful story, and we know that God did indeed spare their lives, and that’s a wonderful thing. But what I think is far more wonderful, is the faith that the men had, to know that we have but one God, and our lives are in His hands. He may choose to spare us, or take our lives, but He only is in control. Let’s remember that when we reflect on the American election. God is in control. No human leader will ever be our saviour, and even if he or she is a cruel dictator, God is sovereign. His sovereignty knows no bounds, and He is neither shocked, or worried about the President Elect. Let’s continue to trust in Him and put aside our fear, worry, or even that joy we may feel that this man will make America great again. He can’t deliver on that promise because ultimately, only God can.