Mike Cope's blog

Monday, February 27, 2006

He was more than just King Nebuchadnezzar. He was “Nebuchadnezzar, Inc.” Fresh from a great military victory at Carchemish over the Egyptians (605 B.C.), he was maybe the most secure man in the universe. Youth, strength, wealth, clout–all were his! He was a steel tank, a shining knight, a superhero. Besides all that, his name was impressive. As one third-grade girl wrote to me: “Dear Mr. Cope, I discovered that Nebuchadnezzar is more than half the alphabet. That’s fourteen letters. Love, Elizabeth.” Good point–he had that going for him, too! But every night when the king put his head on his royal pillow, he became as vulnerable as the lowliest peasant in Babylon. And it was then that God struck! The chink is his armor is revealed in these three words: “Nebuchadnezzar had dreams” (Daniel 2:1). In his dream stood an enormous, dazzling statue with a head of gold, chest and arms of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron, and feet of iron and clay. What an imposing reminder of the power he had, this King Golden Head (for the head represented him), and of the power subsequent kingdoms would have. Did Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, or any of the other exiles need a reminder that he held all the trump cards? They’d seen his domination in Jerusalem, and they’d heard of how his Chaldean kingdom had dominoed around the fertile crescent. But there’s more to the dream: a rock cut out of a mountain strikes the statue and smashes it to pieces. It doesn’t just destroy the feet (representing the final kingdom); rather, it demolishes the whole statue. This rock is the kingdom of God. And that’s exactly what this rock has done–again and again! The rule of God enters human history, and it overwhelms the power-hungry kingdoms of humans. It happened during the time of Daniel. This pagan king had numerous opportunities to humbly confess the power and deliverance of God (2:47; 3:28f; 4:34ff). It happened a generation later when God worked through Cyrus to return his people to Israel. It happened again when Jews faced the persecutions of Antiochus Epiphanes, and many resisted the urge to adjust, adapt, and follow all the rules. But it happened supremely in the ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The people with all the fame and power–Caesar Augustus, Herod the Great, Archelaus, Antipas, Caesar Tiberius, Pontius Pilate–were no match for this one who described himself as “meek and humble in heart.” Through his righteous life and death, the kingdom of God broke in with power and force. This rule of God continues today–though not in its fulness as it will when Christ returns. During this time when the values of the kingdom come into such sharp contrast with the values of this world, God’s people continue praying, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” During the years that my daughter was becoming more feeble and then following her death, I was drawn to the magnetic writings of Diane Komp. Dr. Komp is a pediatric oncologist who lost–and then found again!!–her faith in the pediatric ICU. She writes of the compelling stories of faith that sprang from dark places. One of those stories is about a six year old whom she calls Sammy. She bonded quickly with Sammy and his mother, but was distraught because he never responded well to treatment. There were very few days after they met that he could even go home. One day Dr. Komp chatted with Sammy’s mother about the latest test results. In the room with him were three other brain-damaged boys. One had fallen from a window; another had been beaten; a third was the victim of a hit-and-run. “The room was a vegetable garden, filled with wilting young life,” she remembers. She had noticed that Sammy was listening to some music, though it was turned down so as to not disturb others. But all of a sudden he turned over and cranked up his little yellow tape recorder. The music blared: We declare that the kingdom of God is here! We declare that the kingdom of God is here! The blind see, the deaf hear, the lame man is walking, Sicknesses flee at his voice. The dead live again and the poor hear the good news. Jesus is King, so rejoice! When the song was over, he felt for the buttons and rewound it. The testimony–like light in the darkness–screamed out again: “We declare that the kingdom of God is here!” When the song ended, Dr. Komp asked him, “You really believe that, don’t you, kiddo?” She knew Sammy believed. The bigger question was, Did she? The most counter-cultural thing the church can do is to continue praying “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done . . . .” For this rock (the reign of God) has come and smashed the strongholds of this earth. And it continues beating away. One day this kingdom will come in its fullness. There will be no more death, no suffering, no terrorism, and no weeping for the people of God. No wonder the church continues to pray, “Maranatha. Come, O Lord.”

19 Comments:

  • Glory, Glory. I love the faith of children, so trusting and pure. Hmmm, didn't got say something about that. From a girl who knows this earth is not her home and can't wait to go where sickness flees. Glory again!

    By Blogger Tammy M., at 2/27/2006 04:57:00 AM  

  • I love it when you get preachy!

    By Blogger Brad, at 2/27/2006 05:10:00 AM  

  • I needed to hear this today, thanks...

    By Blogger Donald Philip Simpson, at 2/27/2006 05:28:00 AM  

  • For some reason I wasn't expecting a post like this, but what a fantastic piece of encouragement. I struggle with faith all the time, and I need words like these any time I can get them. I remember when I had the faith of a child. That was many years ago and I would so much love to find it again.

    By Blogger RC, at 2/27/2006 05:37:00 AM  

  • What a great way to start my day, thanks, Mike.
    You know, if only our pillows could talk they would reveal all our worries and fears and joys, for it is for everyone, a place of truth, when one's head hits the pillow there is no escaping what is in the heart.

    When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,the moon and the stars,which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? Psalms8:3-4

    By Blogger Beverly, at 2/27/2006 05:41:00 AM  

  • As I get older, I want the Lord to come. I didn't when I was younger, so much of life to live.

    Interesting how that works as you age and grow weary of the world.

    Come Jesus Come.

    By Blogger Hoots Musings, at 2/27/2006 05:50:00 AM  

  • Oh, my.

    Thanks.

    By Blogger Emily, at 2/27/2006 06:14:00 AM  

  • "For this rock (the reign of God) has come and smashed the strongholds of this earth. And it continues beating away."

    I pray for a mind which can see this happening. From where I sit many strongholds are in place and getting stronger.

    Maybe they are crumbling beneath the surface just out of my sight. Maybe I am blinded by lack of faith and cannot see this smashing rock.

    I do know my wife and friends smash the strongholds of my life with their love.

    But I look at the world and its strongholds and its business as usual for the last 2000 years.

    Deep down I know what you say is true, I just can't see it very well. Thanks for your post.

    By Blogger L, at 2/27/2006 06:21:00 AM  

  • Leland - Those are words of deepest faith, my dear brother. We walk by faith, not by sight. There are glimpses of this dominion of God, but it does appear at times that all hell has broken loose. But Christian faith traffics in imagination--imagination based on the story of Jesus. You are the kind of believer who has a real, vital word in this broken world.

    Tammy - I'm praying right now that the dominion of God will be seen in Jack's health. Blessings on you and your family!

    By Blogger Mike, at 2/27/2006 06:48:00 AM  

  • Mike, this is a very encouraging post for me. Thank you. It is reassuring to know that when good dreams seem few and nightmares prevail that praying "Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven" is bedrock truth that no powers seen or unseen can destroy.

    By Blogger mark, at 2/27/2006 07:08:00 AM  

  • Mike! What wonderful thoughts today!

    ". . .” For this rock (the reign of God) has come and smashed the strongholds of this earth. And it continues beating away."

    Yes, earthly kingdoms come and earthly kingdoms disappear, as this "rock" smashes their strongholds - continuing to grow, continuing to declare, Jesus Is the everlasting KING!

    Hallelujah, and Yes! Maranatha, LORD Jesus, Maranatha!

    By Blogger Kathy, at 2/27/2006 07:40:00 AM  

  • Thank you for helping me understand the Kingdom of God. Great writing!

    By Blogger David Michael, at 2/27/2006 08:09:00 AM  

  • "You are good, you are good, and your love endures.. today"

    By Blogger Clint, at 2/27/2006 08:55:00 AM  

  • I think we'll know it's getting closer to the time of His coming when the Rock knocks the feet out from under all the different denominations and we really truly become the unified Body of Christ praying "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done...". I long for the day when we are all just congregations meeting under His banner - "LOVE".

    By Blogger Candy, at 2/27/2006 01:27:00 PM  

  • Mike, in my Bible reading last night I came across a perplexing "kingdom" verse that I've never heard properly explained.
    "From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it." (Matt. 11:12)
    Any insight?

    By Blogger Franklin Wood, at 2/27/2006 07:54:00 PM  

  • I'm ready! Come quickly, Lord. Come quickly!

    By Blogger Paul, at 2/27/2006 08:59:00 PM  

  • I had a nightmare one night last week that was the most frightening personification of evil I've ever had in my entire life, and I'm going to be (Lord willing) 61 in just a couple more days.

    What was so horrendous about it was that after it woke me up at 2 a.m., I could still see someone trying to "get to" me, if you will, along with the blackest cloud I'd ever seen, even in the middle of the night.

    I kept blinking my eyes and woke my husband up and made him turn the light on and leave the closet light on for the rest of the night.

    I've been diabetic for 36 years and he thought my blood sugar must be low. I could not even tell him otherwise for a few moments because all I could say was "Oh, God, oh, God, oh, God" as the only prayer I could pray for safety from evil and harm.

    I began to think of what we call the "Lord's prayer" when Jesus prayed, "lead us not into temptation (or not let us become mired in temptation) and DELIVER US FROM EVIL."

    It had never seemed so forceful or so real as it was the rest of that night, for the hours it took me to drift back to sleep while holding on to my husband as mightily as I could.

    I can't recall that I have ever for one second of my life doubted God's reality and force in my life. I suppose that some are "gifted" with faith more than others. And what a tremendous blessing it has always been, even when I felt so far away from God and unable to reach out somehow to His presence and grace or to understand what it was exactly He required of me in my life.

    But, those days are far behind me now at this age and state of decline in life. My younger son, Mark, and his lovely wife and baby Hannah came by to visit with me this evening and he had a lot of questions for me about my life - about how I felt about my life concerning regrets or unfinished business and the like.

    I told he and Lynn that I have no regrets. I am ready to leave this life whenever God should choose to call me. I do not seek it, nor do I particularly long for it on a daily basis. I would like to have more time with my family and children and grandchildren.

    But I also do not doubt for one second that Jesus Christ has redeemed me and will keep me safe before His father - OUR father - God.

    The other night I felt as if Satan were attacking me in the very worst ways, but also felt a deep, satisfying comfort that my God was much more than anything Satan could ever throw at me. I felt safe being awake in the dim light. THE LIGHT.

    I kept thinking of that over and over. How powerful God's LIGHT was to me - to all of us - to the world.

    Amen to all you said today, Mike.

    Amen. So be it.

    Dee

    By Blogger Dee O'Neil Andrews, at 2/27/2006 09:48:00 PM  

  • One of my life's dreams has always been that Jesus will return while my children are both young enough to be living at home and that we will be able to watch the majesty of the event as a family. I want to be able to say, "Look boys, here He comes!"
    Yes Lord, come quickly!

    By Blogger Snapshot, at 2/28/2006 05:00:00 AM  

  • As much as I want him to come, I want him to wait a little while longer. I have friends who aren't ready yet.

    By Blogger john alan turner, at 2/28/2006 02:30:00 PM  

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