Monday, March 4, 2024

Fleeting Power

Despite human pretensions, History demonstrates WITHOUT EXCEPTION the impermanence of political power and governments. Rome endured for a thousand years, but that Empire fell all the same. Like life, political power is fleeting, and regimes often collapse quickly and unexpectedly when their allotted time expires. Only the “Kingdom of God” will endure.

At the height of his power, the absolute monarch of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, boasted before Heaven and Earth, “Is not this Babylon the great and exceptional kingdom that I built by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?” His boast was not an idle one. Babylon was one of the greatest powers of the Ancient World.

Roman Arch - Photo by Christoph Schmid on Unsplash
[Photo by Christoph Schmid on Unsplash]

After destroying the remnants of the Assyrian Empire, and having subjugated Syria and the Kingdom of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar expanded his dominion to the border of Egypt. However, his presumptuous words received a response from an angelic figure:

  • O King Nebuchadnezzar the dominion has departed from you…until you come to know that it is the Most-High who has dominion over the kingdom of men, and to whomever he pleases, he gives it” - (Daniel 4:28-33).

Consequently, the king lost his rational mind and was driven by society to live like an animal outside the city. After “seven seasons,” his mind restored, he lifted his eyes to Heaven and declared:

  • I, Nebuchadnezzar, my eyes to the heavens did uplift, and my understanding returned to me, and the Most-High I blessed, and to him that lives everlastingly I rendered praise and honor, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; and all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and according to his own pleasure deals he with the army of the heavens and the inhabitants of the earth, and none there is who can smite upon his hand or say to him, What hast thou done?” – (Daniel 4:34-35).

From time immemorial, kings, emperors, dictators, prime ministers, and presidents have engaged in imperial conceit of the same magnitude. The Babylonian monarch’s boast was nothing new, and he was certainly not the last politician to make such a boast. At the time, his kingdom was the greatest political power the world had yet seen.

Nevertheless, within two generations the Neo-Babylonian Empire was overthrown and replaced by an even greater power, the “Kingdom of the Medes and the Persians.” It has been thus throughout human history. Nebuchadnezzar should have known better.

Previously, he learned the same lesson when he received a troubling dream that only Daniel could interpret. He saw a “great image” with a head of gold, the breast and arms of silver, the belly and thighs of bronze, and legs of iron with feet comprised of iron and clay. A “stone cut out without hands” struck the great image, pulverizing it, and that small unimpressive “stone” became the “mountain that filled the whole earth” - (Daniel 2:31-45).

Nebuchadnezzar’s “great image” represented four successive empires, beginning with Babylon. The coming kingdom of God would fill the whole Earth after the demise of those kingdoms and empires. The end of the Babylonian Empire was inevitable.

Political power would pass from one regime to the next until the day God “set up a kingdom for the ages that would not be destroyed.” The “stone” that destroyed the “great image” of Nebuchadnezzar symbolized the everlasting kingdom appointed by Yahweh destined to replace all existing political powers.

In the Book of Daniel, the prophet declared that God alone “changes times and seasons, He removes kings and sets up kings.” According to His own purposes, He gives dominion to the “basest of men.” Nebuchadnezzar himself admitted that “Your God is God of gods and Lord of kings.” The pagan ruler acknowledged that his sovereignty was derived from a higher power.

Political authority comes from God and no government can reign without His say-so - There is no exception to the rule. This is the key theme of Daniel, that God gives rulership to whomever He pleases.


It begins in the first paragraph of the Book. The capture of Jerusalem, the captivity of Judah, and the demise of the Temple all occurred accordance with God’s purposes.

Despite the downfall of the Kingdom of Judah, God used Daniel to direct the policies of the Babylonian Empire, and He enabled the prophet to do what none of the astrologers, priests, “wise men,” economists, bankers, or soothsayers of Mesopotamia could do – Recount and interpret the king’s dream. As a result, Daniel was elevated to a high position from which he influenced the course of the Empire - (Daniel 2:1-49).

God uses His sovereignty to accomplish His purposes regardless of human intentions and machinations. He is never surprised by events. Kingdoms endure until He decides otherwise. Rulers who arrogate to themselves prerogatives that belong to Him alone risk removal from power.

History confirms that all kingdoms, empires, and regimes without exception fall.  Greece, Rome, and Byzantium all rose to great heights only to collapse. No nation today is an exception to the rule, period. Not one of them is indispensable to God and His purposes.

All governments except the Kingdom of God are impermanent entities, fleeting powers, little more than “perishing meat.” Investing time and resources in the political institutions and processes of this age is a fool’s errand.

Yahweh promised a coming day when the Messiah would sit at His right hand and rule over the nations until He made all his enemies his footstool.

The New Testament is explicit and uncompromising. Not only is Jesus this “Anointed” ruler, but his reign also began following his Death and Resurrection. As he declared to his disciples - “ALL authority in heaven and on the earth has been given to me.” - (Psalm 2:6-9, 110:1-4).

Sun Rays - Photo by eberhard 🖐 grossgasteiger on Unsplash
[Photo by eberhard 🖐 grossgasteiger on Unsplash]

When God raised His son from the dead, He placed him “
far above all rule, authority, power, dominion, and every name that is named, and he put all things in subjection under his feet” - (Ephesians 1:20-22, Philippians 2:6-11).

By his death, Jesus “despoiled the powers and principalities,” triumphing over them. By his resurrection, he became the “firstborn of the dead” and in “all things preeminent.” Already he reigns, and all angels, powers, and authorities have been subjected to him. All other political powers will perish from the Earth.

Thus, Yahweh’s “anointed” reigns over all things, and there are no exceptions to this present reality. By the time of his return, the “stone cut without hands” will fill the whole Earth, and all other regimes and kingdoms will vanish from the Earth.

In the meantime, anyone who would follow Jesus must decide to which kingdom he belongs, and to which ruler he will give his absolute allegiance. It is a matter of life and (everlasting) death.

  • Whomever He Pleases - (Yahweh, the God of Israel, changes the times and seasons, removes kings, and sets up kings as He to achieve His purposes)
  • Which Kingdom? - (The message of Jesus centers on the “Kingdom of God,” a political system that bears little resemblance to the kingdoms of this world)
  • Calvary or Rome? - (When offered by Satan, Jesus refused the political power of Rome. So, why do we continue to seek what he rejected?)