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lion, king of the jungle September 4 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Ezekiel 29:17-30:19; Daniel 4; 2 Kings 25:27-30; Jeremiah 52:31-34

Who is King?

A lion is considered by many as the king or ruler of the jungle. Who rules this universe and this earth? Another name for king is sovereign. Who is sovereign over everything and everyone? Is mankind the determiner of his own destiny? Do we consider ourselves self-made men or women? Who is it that gives us brains, talent, special gifts and abilities? Who is it that gives us opportunities? In today’s lesson we find out who is sovereign and what our attitudes should be towards him.

The country of Egypt, the Babylonian leader Nebuchadnezzar, and one of Judah’s last kings, Jehoiachin, found out who is sovereign in today's Bible study.

Egypt was a powerful enemy of Babylon. She did not think she could be conquered but found out differently. Babylon came like a storm conquering from Syria all the way to Egypt and even to nations east of the Jordan River. Ezekiel 29 is a series of seven laments for Egypt, for she would be destroyed. God was angry at Egypt, first for Judah’s reliance on her rather than the LORD, and second, for Egypt failing in its promise to aid Judah; she only made a half-hearted attempt to help her when besieged by Babylon. Now there would be payback. Because God was helping Babylon, nothing could stop Babylon from conquering Egypt. She would be destroyed, never to rise to world prominence again. Ezekiel was a prophet to the Jewish exiles in Babylon. In Ezekiel 29:17-20 he writes,

In the twenty-seventh year [of Israel’s exile], in the first month on the first day, the word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon drove his army in a hard campaign against Tyre; every head was rubbed bare and every shoulder made raw. Yet he and his army got no reward from the campaign he led against Tyre. Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am going to give Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he will carry off its wealth. He will loot and plunder the land as pay for his army. I have given him Egypt as a reward for his efforts because he and his army did it for me, declares the Sovereign LORD.” (NIV)

From 585-572 B.C. (thirteen years) Babylon had laid siege to Tyre and got nothing for it, so God was going to reward Babylon for being his arm of judgment against Judah and the surrounding nations. God can use even the ungodly to fulfill his purposes.

For ten years Jehoiachin had shared co-regency with his father, Jehoiakim, king of Judah. When Jerusalem was invaded the first time, Jehoiakim was replaced with Jehoiachin. He and the kings before him denied Jeremiah and Ezekiel’s prophecies that Babylon would conquer Judah. In fact, almost all of Judah’s prophets falsely foretold just the opposite. After just three months of sole regency, in 597 B.C. King Jehoiachin was captured and deported. He was exiled along with his royal family, his officials, 10,000 of his soldiers, craftsmen, artisans and citizens. In addition, all of the precious and costly articles in Solomon’s temple and the king’s treasury were taken to Babylon. Only the poorest of the land remained. Nebuchadnezzar appointed Jehoiachin’s uncle, Zedekiah, to be a vassal king over the area. Jehoiachin was greatly humbled for thirty-seven years in exile. Perhaps, though we are not told, King Jehoiachin then realized God was Sovereign, for God was merciful to him and allowed his latter years to be free from the shackles of bondage.

Nebuchadnezzar, was full of pride over all his military accomplishments. One night Nebuchadnezzar had a frightening dream. He had a dream about a great tree that grew but was cut down, leaving only a stump in the ground. None of his magicians or wise men in Babylon could interpret the dream. Finally, he called in Belteshazzar (Daniel) to come and interpret it for him. He had received a favorable interpretation many years before, so perhaps Daniel would once again be able to soothe his conscience. His hope would not be realized.

Daniel interpreted the dream, saying

You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle and be drenched with the dew of heaven. Seven times [probably meaning years] will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes.

The command to leave the stump of the tree with its roots means that your kingdom will be restored to you when you acknowledge that Heaven rules.

Therefore, O king, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue." (Daniel 4:25-27, NIV)

Nebuchadnezzar did not renounce his sins, however, and one year later in a single day all these things happened to him. Nebuchadnezzar was dethroned for insanity. For seven years he lived as an animal, even eating grass, until one day he came to his senses and realized that God was Sovereign, not him. Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom was then restored.

Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble, (Daniel 4:37, NIV).

Can pride lead to punishment and destruction? Yes. 1Peter 5:5b says, “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble,’” (NIV).

Lessons to live by:

  • God uses even the ungodly to accomplish his purposes
  • When thinking about our accomplishments, we need to think with sober judgment, not giving ourselves more credit than we deserve (Romans 12:3). For what do you have that you did not in some way receive from God? (1Corinthians 4:7). He used many people, events, and circumstances to bring your success; and he did it so that he, not you, might receive glory.
  • It is dangerous to steal glory away from God, but if we humble ourselves and repent, he is always merciful. In fact, he can give you forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life (more...).

Today’s Bible memory verse: Proverbs 21:1 “The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.” (NIV)

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