The Powerful Truth of Heaven’s Rule

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth
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Travel back with me to the sixth century BC, to the capital of the vast, sprawling Babylonian empire, as we make our way into the palace where we will meet a powerful man who was forced to learn the hard way that Heaven rules. He tells the story himself in Daniel 4, years after it happened to him.

Flush with success and renowned for his legendary accomplishments and military exploits, Nebuchadnezzar, the reigning monarch, experienced a distressing dream. He instantly recognized that it possessed significant meaning—that it was not just the quirky remains of an unprocessed memory from earlier in the day. But he didn’t know what that meaning was until he consulted the prophet Daniel, known as the wise man Belteshazzar in his court.

In the dream Nebuchadnezzar had seen a tree—a tall, towering, massive tree, lush and full, beautiful and abundant. Happy birds and forest animals had come from all over the earth to sleep under it, eat from it, and nest within its branches, deriving nourishing pleasure from its fruit and shade. This tree, as he now learned from Daniel, was a visual image of Nebuchadnezzar himself, the most powerful and influential figure in the known world at the time.

But the scene with the awe-inspiring tree had suddenly been shattered by the loud, commanding appearance of an angel soaring down from the sky and shouting out an order to “cut down the tree and chop off its branches,” to “strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit,” leaving nothing but the stump and its roots in the ground—a shocking blow to the king’s mighty strength and standing.

We can take comfort as we walk on this earth because of our Father’s rule from heaven.

Worse, the angel had described the tree-king descending into madness, being “drenched with dew from the sky,” pawing wildly at the ground for food, his mind changed “from that of a human” to that “of an animal” (Dan. 4:14–16).

And it happened! The events the dream foretold took place just as the angel had described and Daniel had interpreted to Nebuchadnezzar. What a comedown—from hero to zero. From universal acclaim to utter humiliation. Stripped of prestige and power. Reduced to grinding out an existence as a brute beast.

Why? To what purpose was this dramatic takedown? As Nebuchadnezzar recounted his memories of this whole series of events—the dream itself, the prophet’s warning, a year’s reprieve, then seven years of insanity—he remembered well the “why,” having heard it spoken more than once throughout his long ordeal:

“This is so that the living will know that the Most High is ruler.” (4:17)

“The Most High is ruler.” (4:25)

“The Most High is ruler.” (4:32)

Or, as Daniel had declared when explaining the meaning of the dream to the king:

“Your kingdom will be restored to you as soon as you acknowledge that Heaven rules.” (4:26)

Yes, the sooner we know and believe this truth, the saner we all can be.

By “Heaven rules,” of course, I mean “God rules.” The God of heaven rules. He rules over every tide of history, over every king and kingdom, over every activity we undertake, over every person and part of His creation. “Heaven rules” is a right-sizing truth—putting our view of God, our view of ourselves, and our view of our problems in proper perspective. It’s a truth meant to instill healthy fear within every proud heart that aims to be its own ruler and that believes we humans can determine our own direction and destiny.

That’s how Heaven’s rule corrects us, and we’re crazy to think we don’t need it. God is kind, not cruel, in reminding us who’s in charge and in doing it at whatever cost He knows is necessary to get our distracted attention. None of us really wants to find out what would happen if He weren’t in charge!

This same truth that corrects us is also intended to comfort us. To reassure and free us. To catch us and keep us. “Heaven rules” means He is sovereign over everything that touches us, that nothing comes to us unbidden by His desire to use it for our good and for His glory and for the greater things He created us to be part of. He is ruler over every diagnosis and prognosis, over all incomes and outcomes, over the most daunting challenges as well as the most seemingly trivial details of our lives.

This truth that is powerful enough to take down the great is also powerful enough to bear up the least of us, both in our private ordeals and as we face the world that seems to be imploding around us. We can take comfort as we walk on this earth because of our Father’s rule from heaven. Comfort and courage—for “Heaven rules” does not call for a passive acceptance of fate; it comes with the promise of grace for the battle. When we feel we just can’t withstand any more pressure, problems, or pain, the awareness of God’s rule infuses us with supernatural strength. It enables us to live with contented, cemented clarity through the chaos and the ugly fallout of a fallen world, through struggles and circumstances that make us want to run away in panic or curl up in despair. We find the courage to patiently, even joyfully, persevere in the assurance that Heaven rules.

For Further Reading:

Heaven Rules

by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

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book cover for Heaven Rules