02 God’s Outreach to Heathen Kings and Nations

By John Thiel, Lessons from the Life of Nebuchadnezzar Conference, Audio: mp3

We puzzle over the thought that God reaches out to heathen kings and heathen nations. The purpose that we have is to study the life of a heathen king. To learn of a heathen king?

Some of you might think, what can we learn from Nebuchadnezzar? But by studying God’s outreach to heathen kings and people, we will receive a more potent lesson of God’s work in plucking souls from the quarry of the world to become His special treasure. It will be more potent than studying believers who are themselves already wanting to serve God. But to see a heathen soul, a heathen king, plucked out and carefully worked with until he finally becomes a jewel on God’s throne; that is something potent.

We remember the words of John 3:16. Whom does God love? “For God so loved the world,” the world with all its corruption.

John 3:16 …God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

The whosoever in our study is King Nebuchadnezzar. This is a wonderful characteristic of God.

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

This is the God we worship. He wants the whole world to be saved out of all its corruptions. He does not want anyone to be lost. This is the reason why there has been a delay in His coming; because like with Nebuchadnezzar He has seen souls that He can still take through the trial of time and bring forth as gold. He does not want anyone to be lost who has any chance. After the flood God came to Abraham and selected him. Why did he choose Abraham? He was the one person whom he could still choose because he was living in a pure understanding of God, when the rest of the world was becoming corrupted.

Genesis 18:17 And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; 18 Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?

Why then did he choose Abraham? So that through Abraham all the nations of the world can be blessed. He didn’t choose Abraham to select him as His own and just hide him away. All his posterity was chosen to bless all the nations of the world. God’s interests embrace more than just His chosen people. This was the problem of the Hebrews. They thought they were the chosen people; everybody is down there, and we are God’s chosen people. They put a wall up between them and the Gentiles. They missed the whole object of God’s purpose in them.

Isaiah 49:6 And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.

This is clearly speaking of Jesus, whom God sent not merely to redeem Israel, but for the Gentiles: “I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.” He so loved the world; the world, the heathen nations. The Hebrews were chosen for a purpose. The philosophy of history is that the strength of individuals, as of nations, “is measured by the fidelity with which they fulfill God’s purpose.(Education 175.2).

We now look at statements and scriptures to understand what God’s purpose was for the Hebrews. The degree of fidelity with which they were diligent to take hold of that purpose would be the measure of their strength.

God’s purpose for His institutions today may also be read in the purpose which He sought to accomplish through the Jewish nation. {6T 221.2}

We are receiving a full picture of God’s purpose, and the fidelity with which the people exercised themselves to fulfill God’s purpose would be the measure of their strength.

Through Israel it was His design to impart rich blessings to all peoples. Through them the way was to be prepared for the diffusion of His light to the whole world. {6T 221.2}

His glory would cover the earth as the waters of the sea. That was His purpose for the Hebrew nation.

The nations of the world, through following corrupt practices, had lost a knowledge of God. Yet in His mercy God did not blot them out of existence. {6T 221.2}

They had corrupted themselves, but God was merciful, He didn’t blot them out of existence.

He purposed to give them opportunity for becoming acquainted with Him through His church. He designed that the principles revealed through His people should be the means of restoring in man the moral image of God. {6T 221.2}

These words are very important to pick up exactly what it is about, because time and time again through all my Christian experience, I have heard people say, “You have to go out there and preach, preach, preach. You have to go out there and do some missionary work.” But they missed the whole purpose of what missionary work was about. Missionary work is that the principles of God’s wonderful image were to be revealed through His people, and that is not just by preaching. It is a much deeper exercise of life. The Hebrews were chosen for that purpose, but what happened? Did they have the strength according to the measure of their fidelity? They were not very conscientious. The sad story, written of in the following scripture, is that the purpose of God was not fulfilled in them as a nation by their fidelity.

Isaiah 65:2 I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way [that was] not good, after their own thoughts;

We are to represent God “in thought, word, and deed.” The Hebrews failed to fulfill the purpose of God because they were a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts. Their thoughts were not in harmony. What are your thoughts? Consider very carefully as we listen to this message. We are concentrating on the correct understanding of missionary work, of God’s purpose for us. We are ready to mouth off, we are ready to tell people, but what are we like in our thoughts, in our practice, and in the way in which we behave ourselves? This is what we have to comprehend.

Mark very carefully as we continue through this, because every little communication is of vital importance for our understanding of the purpose of God for us:

God singled out the Hebrew nation and connected them with himself, that he might make them representatives of his own character. {ST, March 3, 1881 par. 16}

That was God’s purpose for the Hebrew nation, and it is for God’s people today as well. What is it? To be representatives of His character. Not just to be preachers with their voices and their presentations of Biblical truth, but a representative of His own character.

He would make them a beacon of light to all surrounding nations, {ST, March 3, 1881 par. 16}

Arise, shine; be a light in the gross darkness.” He wanted them to be that.

…that his name might be glorified, and his service exalted. By communion with God, the Israelites were to become partakers of the divine nature, {ST, March 3, 1881 par. 16}

What did He draw the Israelites to Himself for? To have communion with Him, and then only through that communion with Him would they fulfill God’s purpose. The fidelity with which they would enter into communion with Him would be the measure of their strength. Are we picking up the important message that is here being conveyed to us?

…their hearts, debased by sin, were to be purified, their aspirations ennobled. They were to stand forth before the world as an example of what men may become through Jesus Christ. {ST, March 3, 1881 par. 16}

To be missionaries is to be an example. But what became of them?

Those whom God would elevate and ennoble by connection with himself, would become, by transgression, wholly debased and Satanic in character. It was for them to choose the course which they would pursue. {ST, March 3, 1881 par. 16}

This is where the whole trap is. We feel God drawing near to us, and we think, aren’t we privileged? Aren’t we God’s people? That is how the Jews took it. Like them we do not realise that in our privilege we are supposed to have such a change of character by the privilege of communing with God, entering into deep, affectionate engagement with God, so that we would then reveal the character of God to the world. That is what the relationship that God wanted to enter into with the Hebrews was all there for, for that purpose. We like them, fall so easily into the trappings of drifting away from what God’s purpose actually is.

Isaiah 65:2 I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way [that was] not good, after their own thoughts;

After their own thoughts, what an important word. What are we occupied with in our own thoughts? By their unfaithfulness in holding their privileges as God’s people to themselves, what would happen?

Why did the Lord permit Jerusalem to be destroyed by fire the first time? {2BC 1040.5}

Why did He let that happen?

Why did He permit His people to be overcome by their enemies and carried into heathen lands?–It was because they had failed to be His missionaries, and had built walls of division between themselves and the people round them. The Lord scattered them, that the knowledge of His truth might be carried to the world. If they were loyal and true and submissive, God would bring them again into their own land (GCB April 7, 1903). {2BC 1040.5}

They had failed, they had become rebellious, therefore God said, alright, plan A failed – My purpose for the Hebrews that they should be a great nation to spread the glory of God and be a beacon to the world, that plan failed because they didn’t enter into a close relation with Me for that purpose – so I will spread them across the world. Plan B would have to come into action. His people would be exposed to the heathen by the heathen coming and conquering them, and burning their city. This has happened once, and it has happened again. Having happened twice we have God’s historic revelations to discover the very philosophy that we are being introduced to: The strength of a nation is measured by the fidelity with which they fulfill God’s purpose. Their strength became weaker and weaker because of their lack of fidelity to fulfill God’s purpose.

They were spread among the heathen so that there would be the dispersing of God’s character among the heathen. But how could He do that with a rebellious people? Our study centers at this conference in the Babylonian empire, to see that what God would do in Babylon He wanted to do in all the other empires as well. After Babylon, when they finally failed, there were three other empires with the same purpose uppermost in God. For every nation He had a purpose similar to that which He had for Babylon, and which He had for the Hebrews.

Every nation that has come upon the stage of action has been permitted to occupy its place on the earth, that the fact might be determined whether it would fulfill the purposes of the Watcher and the Holy One. {PK 535.1}

Every nation came to the stage of action, and every individual as well, so that it might be determined whether that nation would fulfill the purposes of the Watcher and of the Holy One.

Prophecy has traced the rise and progress of the world’s great empires–Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. With each of these, as with the nations of less power, history has repeated itself. {PK 535.1}

Why has history repeated itself? To show the philosophy.

Each has had its period of test; each has failed, its glory faded, its power departed. {PK 535.1}

While nations have rejected God’s principles, and in this rejection have wrought their own ruin, yet a divine, overruling purpose has manifestly been at work throughout the ages. It was this that the prophet Ezekiel saw in the wonderful representation given him during his exile in the land of the Chaldeans, when before his astonished gaze were portrayed the symbols that revealed an overruling Power that has to do with the affairs of earthly rulers. {PK 535.2}

It is when he saw the wheels within wheels. He saw a hand that was governing all the confusion. God was working in the complications of all these nations for the purpose of revealing His character.

Babylon finally failed, but under Nebuchadnezzar God’s purpose flourished. He gave him a dream, the very first dream that He gave to a heathen king.

A Heathen King Receives a Vision from Heaven

God gave him that vision so that His purpose would flourish in the life of Nebuchadnezzar.

Daniel 2:47 The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth [it is], that your God [is] a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret. 48 Then the king made Daniel a great man, and gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise [men] of Babylon.

That is an amazing story. Israel failed, but God spread Israel into the empire. The empire conquered the nation, including Daniel, a faithful remnant, the true missionary. Babylon was evangelized by Daniel, but in cooperation with God and a heathen king. That was God’s intention for the nation of Babylon, and Nebuchadnezzar responded and uttered those words above.

The Fiery Furnace

The fiery furnace was another avenue by which God’s purpose could flourish through Nebuchadnezzar. After the terrible scene took place.

Daniel 3:28 [Then] Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed [be] the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God. 29 Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort. 30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, in the province of Babylon.

God used the king of Babylon in such a way, together with Daniel. This is the way that God’s purpose could be fulfilled through Nebuchadnezzar.

In Daniel’s life, the desire to glorify God was the most powerful of all motives. {4BC 1170.5}

Daniel was occupied with the most powerful motivation of glorifying God. He had strength because of the measure of his fidelity.

He realized that when standing in the presence of men of influence, a failure to acknowledge God as the source of his wisdom would have made him an unfaithful steward. And his constant recognition of the God of heaven before kings, princes, and statesmen, detracted not one iota from his influence. King Nebuchadnezzar, before whom Daniel so often honored the name of God, was finally thoroughly converted, and learned to “praise and extol and honour the King of heaven” (RH Jan. 11, 1906). {4BC 1170.5}

We are looking at the life of a king who was finally thoroughly converted. We want to learn how a person becomes thoroughly converted, so that we can have a potent lesson for ourselves to be thoroughly converted. But it was because of the faithfulness of Daniel.

The king upon the Babylonian throne became a witness for God, giving his testimony, warm and eloquent, from a grateful heart that was partaking of the mercy and grace, the righteousness and peace, of the divine nature (YI Dec. 13, 1904). {4BC 1170.6}

With this king upon the Babylonian throne, God’s purpose flourished. Daniel and the three worthies did that which if Israel would have been faithful, it would have achieved. But because of their unfaithfulness as a nation God had to disperse them so that the faithful remnant, dispersed together with all the unfaithful, could be used of God for His purpose. The faithful people would be thrown into chaos as Daniel and his three friends were because of the corruption of the nation in which they lived. But they were faithful. Why didn’t God care for them and keep them from suffering like that? The reason was that they had to be dispersed so that God could use them, the faithful few, to fulfill His purpose. Today you and I, small in number, have the same privilege.

Now we seem to be unnoticed, {Ev 69.1}

That is what they say, what can you small people do? This is how they speak, we are God’s church; they are just a few little people, what can they do?

Ten members, who were walking in all humbleness of mind, would have a far greater power upon the world than has the entire church, with its present numbers and lack of unity. {5T 119.1}

Ten people who are faithful to God can do far more on the planet earth than can the entire denomination with its present lack of unity. The same story as that of the nation of Israel is repeated today in the church. The church is known by all around. The Seventh-day Adventist church is known, the Reform Movement is known, they are registered churches, and the Jesuits know them well.

Now we seem to be unnoticed, {Ev 69.1}

Who? These little people

…but this will not always be. Movements are at work to bring us to the front, {Ev 69.1}

What were the movements that brought Daniel and his three friends to the front? Hard times. How did the three friends become prominent? Do you like the idea of having to end up in a fire, the fire of persecution? That is how God’s people will be made prominent.

This is where we will end up if we like Daniel will learn the lessons from this.

We do not go deep enough in our search for truth. Every soul who believes present truth will be brought where he will be required to give a reason of the hope that is in him. {TM 119.1}

Every soul who believes present truth”: Do you believe in present truth? Then you and I will be brought to a position of notice so that we can give a reason of the hope that is in us.

The people of God will be called upon to stand before kings, princes, rulers, and great men of the earth, and they must know that they do know what is truth. They must be converted men and women. God can teach you more in one moment by His Holy Spirit than you could learn from the great men of the earth. The universe is looking upon the controversy that is going on upon the earth. At an infinite cost, God has provided for every man an opportunity to know that which will make him wise unto salvation. How eagerly do angels look to see who will avail himself of this opportunity! {TM 119.1}

Here we are today, the troubles of this world have been held back because the Lord is not wanting any man to be lost and here we stand. What sort of an image are we conveying at this present time? Are we ready to stand before kings? The Lord is trying to prepare us. This lesson at this conference is here to prepare us. That is what it’s about. That is why we come together such a long distance to be here, for a purpose. Not just to have a holiday, not just to have a general fellowship, but to really pick up on God’s purpose in our life so that He can bring about circumstances and movements that will bring us to the forefront and that, like Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego, we will be exposed and we will convey the glory of God to the world. This we need to understand.

When a message is presented to God’s people, they should not rise up in opposition to it; they should go to the Bible, comparing it with the law and the testimony, and if it does not bear this test, it is not true. God wants our minds to expand. He desires to put His grace upon us. We may have a feast of good things every day, for God can open the whole treasure of heaven to us.–Review and Herald, February 18, 1890. {TM 119.1}

The Lord has shown me before in preparation for this, I know that the treasure of heaven is open to us at this conference because it has been opened to me and I am absolutely trembling inside at the amazing revelations of God on this subject.

Every soul who believes present truth will be brought where he will be required to give a reason of the hope that is in him. {TM 119.1}

As we study how Daniel and his three friends ended up before the kings and princes, remember that, “The people of God will be called upon to stand before kings, princes, rulers, and great men of the earth, and they must know that they do know what is truth.” Not just the stories, not just the theory, but the truth that makes us free. If you haven’t got that experience, you cannot convey it. We are studying the experience of a man who is plucked from the quarry of the world and we will watch him being operated upon until he was finally a witness, together with Shadrach, Meshach, Abed-Nego and Daniel.

Don’t become weary when the church around you fails. We’ve experienced it ourselves, and sometimes we become tempted to think, what’s the use? We’re just so few left now. This is human thinking. If they fail, why won’t I? Don’t become weary when the church fails, faithful individuals will be made prominent. Here is a profound story that the remnant of God’s people will be the ones who will disperse the glory of God across the world, as it is written in Revelation 18.

May God help us to appreciate these realities as we continue to focus our study upon a man who will to teach us this.

Amen.

Posted on January 23, 2015, in Nebuchadnezzar Life Lessons and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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