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Eugene W. Prewitt

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Daniel 4 and the Sovereignty of God

Daniel Class

God’s Sovereignty

Brief Idea: God, the King of the Universe, has the power to do whatever He wills. He does not, however, will to control our wills. Misunderstanding His will leads men to underestimate His goodness. It leads others to rebel against his representatives in government. Those that understand His sovereignty should be able to defend their position.

God Exercises Special Oversight of the Nations

Men that are in earthly authority are their by God’s decision. This may be, at first inspection, an uncomfortable doctrine of scripture.

By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth. Pr 8:15-16[1]

Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin. Joh 19:11 


Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Ro 13:1 

These men are God’s “ministers”, entrusted with lethal power for the dual purpose of repressing evil and encouraging well-doing. Romans 13:2-8.

Nebuchadnezzar was nearly destroyed by the thought that he had placed himself at the head of the world’s greatest empire. This is the backdrop of Daniel 4.

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. . . And they shall drive thee from men, . . . until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. Daniel 4:17, 32.

Daniel 4, by figures, also reveals the purpose of earthly kingdoms. They promote peace and protection and suppress anarchy and fear. They are used to punish each other. They are vehicles for God’s wrath. There, under the protection of government, the beasts enjoyed repose and the birds made safe nests.

God reserves to himself the ultimate title of King of Kings, though lesser emperors have often used the title accurately to describe themselves. Da 2:47; Ezr 7:12; Da 2:37.

Does this right to rule extend to the papacy? The papacy claims the role of King of Kings as well. Da 11:36. She has been given substantial power for a limited time. Da 7:25. But her claim to rule beyond the bounds of her civil state (the Vatican, today) is an unwarranted assumption of power.

In fact, God even has purpose in his arrangement of national borders.

And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: Acts 17:26-27.

Further, God has purpose even in bringing the “basest” of men into power.

For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Acts 9:17

Far from raising only good men to positions of civil power, God promised to raise cruel men to that position if that would be in the eternal interest of His people. De 28:47-56. If they would reject his gentle leading, they would be given a taste of Satan’s style of administration. It was God’s hope that such national disaster would lead men to seek Him.

For I will be . . . as a young lion to the house of Judah: I, even I, will tear and go away; I will take away, and none shall rescue him. I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early. Hos 5:14-15.

As God established kings and governments to protect the rights of men, He reserves the right to overpower their judgment in things pertaining to the subjects. They are free to rebel against their Creator, but may be restrained in their executive decisions for the benefit of God’s faithful. See Ezra 7:27-28; Neh 1:11;

The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will. Pr 21:1 

He turned their heart to hate his people, to deal subtly with his servants. Ps 105:25

He made them also to be pitied of all those that carried them captives. Ps 106:46 

If men object to this doctrine that God surely didn’t raise Innocent the III, Hitler, or Lenin, let it be remembered that the blood of martyrs is seed, that in darkness men search for God who otherwise would never do so. We can not see all things.

Can those that know truly say that the wonderful freedoms we enjoy in the USA have been a more prosperous ground for Adventism that the repressive regimes that sought to crush the church in other lands? Our numbers are larger here. But where are we the most spiritual?

God’s ruling in the affairs of state, and His placement of men at the head of other men, both aim to secure a seeking populace, if “haply they might feel after Him and find Him.”

Because of His overarching rule in the kingdoms of men, we can rightly say that Jesus is the “only Potentate” and the King of Kings, the prince of the “kings of the earth.” 1 Ti 6:15; Re 1:5; 17:14.

God’s Sovereignty and Predestination

Some men have, however, failed to notice the distinction between God’s management of nations and His management of individuals. For these men God’s Sovereignty means that nothing happens but what God wills.

As evidence for this, they cite the fact that God had chosen certain men to salvation. If this is true, it is no large jump in logic to say that those not chosen are, well, very unfortunate.

Before criticizing Calvin’s version of the doctrine of God’s Sovereignty, let us acknowledge that he had grounds for his belief. God has, indeed, chosen men to salvation from the foundation of the earth. Re 17:8.

But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, . . . because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: 2 The 2:13.

Calvin failed, however, to understand the relation between foreknowledge and predestination. The relation is spelled out a few verses before Romans 9.

For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Ro 8:29 

This is the Bible doctrine. God knows the way that we will take. He can see the future like we can see the present. He knows those that are his. 2 Ti 2:19. Foreknowledge is the ground even of the choosing, or election, described in 2 The 2:13 above.

Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied. 1Pe 1:2 

What was God looking for, in His foreknowledge? Sanctification by the Spirit’s power, obedience to the faith, belief in the truth. These qualities declare a man to be a child of God and a true child of Abraham. God will never cast away such people. They are the faithful remnant we studied in an earlier lesson. You may remember this verse:

God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Ro 11:2 

But what about Pharaoh is Romans 9 and in the story of Exodus? Was he predestined to be lost? If God intended to manipulate the will of the Pharaoh, He could have used any Pharaoh. The fact that God chose Pharaoh is evidence that foreknowledge, rather than captivity of the will, was at work. The word “endured” reveals that not all that happens is the will of God.

For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: Romans 9:17, 22.

The summary is that God had to look carefully to find someone as stubborn as Pharaoh, someone that would resist God’s will so defiantly that God’s full power in defense of his people could be shown.

When we come to the death of Jesus we have an interesting unconditional prophecy. On one hand God determined that Jesus would die for our sins. This was certain. If no men would have been found to do it, evil angels would have been permitted to do it. But there was no chance that this would happen. God knew, by foreknowledge, the parts that the various actors would play in the crucifixion. Their words were prophesied, as well as their actions.

Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Ac 2:23 

Romans 9 illustrates the truth of foreknowledge by the births of Isaac and Jacob. God prophesied of their future state before they had done either right or wrong. Their life, and the lives of their brethren, demonstrated the accuracy of God’s foreknowledge. This is the argument that is concluded in chapter 11 with the declaration that God has not cast away his people that He foreknew.

Following are two statements from Ellen White that touch on the old term from predestination, “divine decrees.” In closing, let it be understood that not everyone is chosen. Many are called. Few are chosen. But all may be. All may meet the requirements that God’s foreknowledge was seeking when He said he knew those that were his.

Every question of truth and error in the long-standing controversy will then have been made plain. In the judgment of the universe, God will stand clear of blame for the existence or continuance of evil. It will be demonstrated that the divine decrees are not accessory to sin. There was no defect in God’s government, no cause for disaffection. When the thoughts of all hearts shall be revealed, both the loyal and the rebellious will unite in declaring, “Just and true are Thy ways, Thou King of saints. Who shall not fear Thee, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? . . . for Thy judgments are made manifest.” Rev. 15:3, 4.  {DA 58.1}


The doctrine of the divine decrees, unalterably fixing the character of men, had led many to a virtual rejection of the law of God. Wesley steadfastly opposed the errors of the Antinomian teachers, and showed that this doctrine which led to Antinomianism was contrary to the Scriptures.


[Note: Though this issue may seem small to us, it is by no means small in Christianity, being the primary division point between Protestants. Extensive works have been written to defend the doctrine of the Divine Decrees. A short, yet comprehensive, work that might be of interest to those that would like to see a very scriptural defense of the error can be found at It is titled, “Antidote to Arminianism.” If you read it, read it while you have persona available that can help you through it. Then again, perhaps this paper is all you would need.]

[1] The chapter is more than a personification of wisdom; it is a description of Jesus under that title. He is the Person named “Wisdom”.

For the Word Document, see: Dan_4_-_Gods_Sovereignty

(4) Comments

    • Don’t ask, Sister Eckert, why it took three months to approve this comment. There is no good reason. Thank you for being studious even AFTER graduating from college.

  1. Hi Eugene, Thank you for maintaining this website. I’m studying this topic for a couple that I’m working with. Just noticed your reference for the verse talking about Pharaoh should be Romans 9:17 and not Acts 9:17. Hopefully this will help others. Blessings on you and your work.

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