Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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The Grace of Repentance 8.2.1015
Dear friend,

May the grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ be with you now and always, Amen.

How are you today? We have another day of God's favor towards us, for soon the sun will pop up over the eastern horizon and a new day, a day which has never been before will begin to dawn into which we will have the privilege to rejoice in and into which will be looking for ways to bring cheer and refreshment into the lives of the people with which we are blessed to have around us. We ask: In what ways will the Lord show Himself in His splendor today? Where will we be seeing Him work? All in all, when a new day comes, even if we struggle with the uncertainties of life at times, we through those same struggles have learned and are yet learning to look for the "givingness" of the Lord both in creation and in revelation as we welcome each new day. Which means that by observance of His visible creation we are reminded that He exists to bless and through revelation we are personally ministered to Him by His Word and Spirit which minister the Saviour of our soul to us, Jesus the Christ.

There are terms which describe the witness of creation and revelation: General revelation (creation) and special revelation (Word and Spirit) What a blessing that we have both as the testimony of the reality of the existence of God: Creation and revelation. So let us thank our Creator God and Father, the One who always has been, is and always will be, for He has brought to us the knowledge and continues to bring unto us the knowledge that He loved us in creation, He loved us through our fall into sin and He has brought redemption to us through His Son, Jesus the Christ!

Do you mind if I ask you a personal question? I hope not, for it is an important one and one through which we will approach our text today which is from the next chapter in our study in the book of Daniel: Chapter 4. Here is the question: Is there a point in your life which is very defined at which you came to know and understand that redemption was for you? That you needed it? That forgiveness was for you? Is there a certain day? For me, there is not a specific day or point that I remember, which is perhaps due to the fact that I was raised in a Christian home by my father (who died when I was 11) and mother and regularly was around the Christian community. But there have been many times in my life when the Lord showed me of His great grace towards me as struggled and battled (and still do) with the temptations of the world, of the devil and of my own fleshly will. But let us never forget that His grace is greater than all our sin.......

Yet others remember very well the occasion and perhaps the very day when the need for the forgiveness of their sins came crashing down on their life with such an impact that they put all other things aside in order to be assured that the guilt that they were experiencing could be totally removed. They understood that it would not be removed by forgetting about it, by fleeing to some kind of momentary "pain reliever" or by resolving to stop sinning. No, they understood that the atoning blood of Jesus Christ had been shed 2000 years ago was what they needed applied to their guilt ridden and weighed down soul. When they heard and believed the Gospel message of the forgiveness of their sins, the weight fell away, their eyes were opened to "see and their hearts rejoiced in knowing that they were clean through the blood of Christ. Many people with such experiences look back at those times with thankfulness and joy as they remember the day when the Lord brought them from death to life. For it was on that day that the Lord revealed Himself to them and as a result life has never been the same, for it was like getting a new heart, a new mind, new ears, new eyes, and so on. From that time on life began to be more about others than about oneself.

Whether or not we have the watershed moment in our lives or not, I think that we would all agree that it is the Lord's desire to increase our knowledge of Him and of His Son into our hearts and minds. And namely that knowledge is that He loved us while we were yet sinners and sent His Son redeem us back to Himself through the cross. We now live and will never die!!! We recall that just before He was betrayed by His disciple Judas, He prayed for all the Christians who were to come: John 17:26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them."

Through the indwelling presence of His Spirit, that is what He continues to do as He works in us to bring increase in the knowledge of the grace and truth in Christ. In our lesson today, even is it is in the Old Testament and a time before the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit began, nevertheless the heart of God towards His created souls is the same in the Old Testament as it is in the New Testament: He wants to bring the Promise into everyone's heart and soul, the prophetic future Promise in the Old Testament and the revealed historical Promise in the New Testament. I am gracious and merciful, I have always been and I will always to to those who love me and await my final return.....

That was kind of a long intro, but as we work through the experience of King Nebuchnezzar, I believe that it will be plain as to why I opened in such a manner. So without any further ado, let us get into our text today, as it should be very interesting as well as applicable.

The title that was placed on our meditation today is "the grace of repentance." Two other scripture readings were read that go along with that theme, one from the 32nd psalm which is David's testimony of his life before and after he came to become convicted of the sins of adultery and murder. The other reading was from Luke 15 and it focuses on the return of the son to the Father's house who had earlier left to spend his life as he best saw fit according to his own selfish desires and needs. As he descended deeper and deeper into physical hunger and into the poverty of his soul, he finally "came to himself" and decided to return to his Father's house where he remembered that there would be plenty to eat. In both cases they were given the grace of repentance, or the grace of turning around and going back to their God, to their Father.

What about Nebuchnezzar? How did it go with him? You are probably getting very curious by now....Well, to recount his life so far, we remember that he was the King of Babylon, Daniel and his three friends had been placed in high levels of his government as a result of their God given wisdom and leadership abilities. The King had a dream which Daniel interpreted as pointing to the fact that the Babylonian Empire of which King Nebuchnezzar was over was going to go the way of the following three world kingdoms: they would all fade into history, but that the fifth kingdom that Daniel described in the following manner:

KJV Daniel 2:44 And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.
45 Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.
46 Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face and paid homage to Daniel, and commanded that an offering and incense be offered up to him.
47 The king answered and said to Daniel, "Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings, and a re vealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery."
48 Then the king gave Daniel high honors and many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon.
49 Daniel made a request of the king, and he appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego over the affairs of the province of Babylon. But Daniel remained at the king's court.

In chapter 3, we read of how after this amazing happening, that King Nebuchnezzar had a golden statue made which would seem to represent himself and his kingdom, and the requirement was that all would bow down to that statue and his rule. The three young men did not bow down when the call came to do so, but instead entrusted their lives to the Living God of Israel, knowing that their allegiance was to Him and to Him only. As a result they were thrown into the fire, but the Lord chose to deliver them out of the fire, and even came to them in the midst of the fire to the amazement of the king. It would make sense that the king was trying to stall the eventual demise of his kingdom by trying to make absolute obedience to himself, which apparently all others bought into except for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. In the end, the king made a decree declaring the following:

Daniel 3:28 Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king's command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God.
29 Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way."
30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.

As we are considering the grace of repentance, let us see how it is going with the king. We know that the Lord, even tho the King doesn't know or recognize it, has raised him up to the the king, has given him his abilities to prosper in His kingdom and the Lord wants to bring this revelation to King Nebuchnezzar. In other words, the Lord is working on him to bring him to an understanding that He is the only God, and not just one of many gods, or even the most High God. The Only God. Let us keep that in mind. So far, the king has heard the interpretation of his dream by Daniel even though the king did not tell Daniel what the dream was. Were the kings eyes opening a little bit, when he said::

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.

Note that the king said: "Your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets..."

At the end of chapter 3, the king referred to our God as the God of Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego, and pointed out that no god is able to deliver in that way that he did. The king recognized that this god far surpassed any god he had ever worshipped, but he was still one of many gods. But..God wanted King Nebuchnezzar, just like he wants all leaders of governments to come into the knowledge that He is the Only God of the world and of the universe who superintends all world events. God was not finished with the king, and now, can you believe it, we finally get to our text for the day.

Daniel 4:1 Nebuchadnezzar the king, unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you.
2 I thought it good to shew the signs and wonders that the high God hath wrought toward me.
3 How great are his signs! and how mighty are his wonders! his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation.

He spoke peace to all, testified of the signs and wonders that the "high" God had done towards him, even praising Him for them, for his everlasting kingdom and acknowledged that his dominion was from generation to generation. But..........the Only God wanted to bring him greater knowledge and so....

4 I Nebuchadnezzar was at rest in mine house, and flourishing in my palace:
5 I saw a dream which made me afraid, and the thoughts upon my bed and the visions of my head troubled me.
6 Therefore made I a decree to bring in all the wise men of Babylon before me, that they might make known unto me the interpretation of the dream.
7 Then came in the magicians, the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers: and I told the dream before them; but they did not make known unto me the interpretation thereof.

He had another dream, he sought the usual way of understanding it, but his best could not do it for him. Then came in Daniel again......We wonder, why did he not ask Daniel at first? Perhaps a clue is given in verse 8 when he testifies to Daniel being of the Chaldean name of Belteshazzar that the king had given him. He still hung onto his god, but the king knew that Daniel had an ability that none of his counselors possessed. So... enter Daniel...whom the king called master of magicians.....

8 But at the last Daniel came in before me, whose name was Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god, and in whom is the spirit of the holy gods: and before him I told the dream, saying,
9 O Belteshazzar, master of the magicians, because I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in thee, and no secret troubleth thee, tell me the visions of my dream that I have seen, and the interpretation thereof.
10 Thus were the visions of mine head in my bed; I saw, and behold a tree in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof was great.

11 The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth:
12 The leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all: the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it.
13 I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed, and, behold, a watcher and an holy one came down from heaven;
14 He cried aloud, and said thus, Hew down the tree, and cut off his branches, shake off his leaves, and scatter his fruit: let the beasts get away from under it, and the fowls from his branches:
15 Nevertheless leave the stump of his roots in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth:
16 Let his heart be changed from man's, and let a beast's heart be given unto him; and let seven times pass over him.
17 This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.
18 This dream I king Nebuchadnezzar have seen. Now thou, O Belteshazzar, declare the interpretation thereof, forasmuch as all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known unto me the interpretation: but thou art able; for the spirit of the holy gods is in thee.

19 Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was astonied (appalled, stunned) for one hour, and his thoughts troubled him. The king spake, and said, Belteshazzar, let not the dream, or the interpretation thereof, trouble thee. Belteshazzar answered and said, My lord, the dream be to them that hate thee, and the interpretation thereof to thine enemies.
20 The tree that thou sawest, which grew, and was strong, whose height reached unto the heaven, and the sight thereof to all the earth;
21 Whose leaves were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all; under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and upon whose branches the fowls of the heaven had their habitation:
22 It is thou, O king, that art grown and become strong: for thy greatness is grown, and reacheth unto heaven, and thy dominion to the end of the earth.
23 And whereas the king saw a watcher and an holy one coming down from heaven, and saying, Hew the tree down, and destroy it; yet leave the stump of the roots thereof in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts of the field, till seven times pass over him;

24 This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the most High, which is come upon my lord the king:
25 That they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.
26 And whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the tree roots; thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule.
27 Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity.
28 All this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar.

The interpretation pointed to the king, and it did not remove the prophecy of the first dream, but it did provide for an extension to his kingdom if he would "break of thy sins by righteousness and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. This was was the message was from the Lord. He was given twelves months for the grace of repentance to occur in his heart, and if he did not receive this counsel and change, he would have to learn from God in a much more humbling manner.....verse 25

29 At the end of twelve months he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon.
30 The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?

Wait, that does not sound like one who "comes to their right mind." Instead, of recognizing who has given him the power and honour, he took it for himself......The Lord in his love for the king, enacted the next action into the life of the king which was designed to bring the king to the right way of thinking about who the Only God is.

31 While the word was in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee.
32 And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.
33 The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles' feathers, and his nails like birds' claws.

.We must never forget that God is merciful towards all and all that He does towards us is designed to bring us to this knowledge. Otherwise we will look at this event of the king being an animal eating grass in the field as from a mean and angry God who delights in the absurd treatment of humans. In this case that is recorded for us, in verse 34 the king "comes to his right mind" as indicated by lifting his eyes to heaven....Let us read the last part of the chapter.

34 And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation:
35 And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?
36 At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned unto me; and my counsellors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me.
37 Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.

The last verse is a powerful testimony of the change brought into the mind and heart of King Nechadnezzar, for he said of the King of heaven: "His works are truth, his ways are judgment and those that walk in pride he is able to humble." He had been humbled before the mighty hand of the Only God. He was given the grace of repentance.

Let us make some application by asking a few questions:

Do we think that God wants to change the hearts of our leaders who are not living in humility before Him and His Word as reflected by their opposition to His teaching? 2 Peter 3:9

Do we think that He can change their hearts and lives? Daniel 4:34

Do we have a responsibility towards bringing a change into their lives? 1 Timothy 2:1-5

In closing, let us bring this closer concerning the grace of repentance. God desires that we receive this grace daily and that as we hear and read the Word that we would live in this grace continually, being sensitive to the Word as it ministers to us. As precious as a day in the past when that grace was given to us initially, those who recall that time have come to recognize that this is a grace that is continually being given from heaven by our God, but at times it is blocked by our sin and sinful behaviour.

Sometimes it takes a long time before this grace penetrates into our mind, heart and soul in order that it might bring us back to a place of our need for His grace and change. Let us be encouraged today that He is always working to bring people to Himself and may we in our discouragement not give up on people who are thinking and acting contrary to the ways of our Lord. For if we give up on them, we are essentially giving up on God and on the power that He uses to draw precious souls to Himself.

Let us be refreshed today in the renewed knowledge that He is working underneath the surface, so may we pray for those whom we so dearly love that they would not harden their hearts, but that they would receive the amazing grace of God for them. He is working, and may the story below really apply this truth today to us: God is working the grace of repentance in human hearts!!

I don't read many fiction books, but I have never been able to forget a scene in one of them I read a number of years ago. A man who was serving the Lord in the ministry had become self focused to the point where he continually chose others over his own wife, his own family and his church family. He did not hear the rebukes of those who loved him and who tried to caution him and to warn him of his self focused direction and ended doing things that deeply hurt and betrayed his wife and his family.

As he continued his downward spiral of sin, the Lord used a very unusual happening to bring him to his "right mind." As he was driving down the highway, a jackrabbit ran across the road, and in order to not run over the jack rabbit, he swerved, missed the jackrabbit and ended up running into the ditch. As his car came to a stop, a glass picture frame of his wife slid to the floor, ending face up with the glass broken, but her beautiful smile gazed on him.

At that moment revelation of the truth came to him. "I swerved to miss from running over a jackrabbit and all these years I have been running over my wife." He was given the grace of repentance.

May the Lord bless your thoughts and meditations in His Word now and always.

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 02 Aug 2015 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
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The Cross of Christ 2.25.2018
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