CDPCKL · The Tree of Life and Wisdom (Daniel 4:1-37)

The Tree of Life and Wisdom (Daniel 4:1-37)

In the earliest parts of Genesis, we are told about a garden on a mountain that had, at its center, two fruit trees that were the sources of life and of wisdom for all the creatures that lived in that garden. Those trees were, essentially, the connecting points between earth and heaven. 

And we are told about a special creature that God made in the image of himself: a human being who was designed and commissioned to protect and cultivate the garden — especially the two trees at its center. This creature’s name was Adam. And his ultimate mission was to gradually expand the garden, extending the fruits of life and wisdom to the ends of the earth, bringing every wild plant and wild animal into proper order for the glory and worship of God. 

In effect, by the end, the whole world would be a garden centered around the trees of life and wisdom, and there would be no more wild animals or wild plants left on earth, no more need to protect the garden. 

But we are also told that Adam failed to protect the garden and its trees. He allowed one particular wild animal — a serpent — to slither its way to the very center of the garden and take over. Adam had the authority to rule over this wild animal from outside the garden. Instead, he submitted to this wild animal from outside the garden…and as a result, he himself ended up living as a wild animal outside the garden, grubbing like an animal in the earth for his food instead of standing upright like a man to receive the fruits of life and wisdom from the hand of his Creator. 

And the bible tells us that, ever since those earliest days of mankind, people have carried in their blood and in their bones this memory of that mountain and that garden with its trees that connected earth to heaven. And the bible tells us that, ever since those earliest days of mankind, people have tried, again and again, to recreate that connection by building temples on the tops of mountains, by setting up towers like sacred trees — only to have the whole project fall apart. 

And last week, in the Book of Daniel, we saw King Nebuchadnezzar of Babyon try this old trick again. He set up a tall, narrow statue — like yet another Tower of Babel, like yet another sacred tree — and he tried to make that statue the center of his personal garden, his empire. He wanted the nations and peoples of every language to recognize his rule as the source of all life and wisdom, as the singular connecting point between earth and heaven, between mankind and the gods. He was trying to unite his empire by centering all worship around one universal religion. 

And we saw, last week, how God intervened and forced Nebuchadnezzar to recognize that the God of Israel is not like all the other gods. He is different. His worship is different. And we saw how, at the end of the episode, Nebuchadnezzar said, “Okay, okay, okay, fine! From now on there will be two religions in my empire.” 

This week, Nebuchadnezzar finds out that this is not enough. He thinks he is being very generous, offering to share the rule of his empire with the God of Israel! 

Turns out the God of Israel is not really interested in half measures. With him it is all or nothing. 

So: let’s get started. 


Today’s episode comes in the form of a letter, written by King Nebuchadnezzar to the nations and peoples of every language, who live in all the earth. 

And right from the beginning, Nebuchadnezzar makes it clear that, unlike last week — when he tried to force the nations and peoples of every language to center their worship around his empire — now he wants them to center their worship around God’s empire, because his kingdom is an eternal kingdom; his dominion endures from generation to generation. 

This letter is Nebuchadnezzar’s declaration of surrender to the Most High God. He is done building towers and statues centered around his own glory. He is done trying to undo the curse of the Tower of Babel. From now on, as far as he is concerned, history belongs to God. 

Now, what happened to cause this amazing change of heart? 

Nebuchadnezzar is so glad we asked! Here is what happened: 

[4] I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at home in my palace, contented and prosperous. But then [5] I had a dream that made me afraid. As I was lying in bed, the images and visions that passed through my mind terrified me. [6] So I commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be brought before me to interpret the dream for me. [7] When the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners came, I told them the dream, but they could not interpret it for me. [8] Finally, Daniel came into my presence and I told him the dream. (He is called Belteshazzar, after the name of my god, and the spirit of the holy gods is in him.) 

We can see from this comment that Nebuchadnezzar’s theology is still a little funky. But, you know, he really has come quite a long way from Chapter 1, so we’re going to cut him a break here… 

But anyway, verse 9: 

I said, “Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in you, and no mystery is too difficult for you. Here is my dream; interpret it for me. [10] These are the visions I saw while lying in bed: 

And then he goes on to describe the Tree of Life standing in the center of the earth! — its roots in the soil, its top reaching to the heavens. It was visible to the ends of the earth. [12] Its leaves were beautiful, its fruit abundant, and on it was food for all. Under it the wild animals found shelter, and the birds lived in its branches; from it every creature was fed. 

Nebuchadnezzar is dreaming about what could have been, what would have happened if Adam had remained faithful. He is dreaming about the whole world as a peaceful garden, all of creation centered around this life-giving connection between earth and heaven. 

Then the dream turns into a nightmare: an angel descends from heaven and commands the tree cut down, its fruit scattered, the birds and animals driven away to fend for themselves. The garden collapses back into chaos, the earth becomes a wilderness again. And the tree itself, that had been the source of life and wisdom and order for the beasts of the earth, becomes like an unthinking beast itself. 

That was the dream. 

[19] Then Daniel (also called Belteshazzar) was greatly perplexed for a time, and his thoughts terrified him. So the king said, “Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its meaning alarm you.” 

In other words: Nebuchadnezzar can already tell that this is bad news, and he wants Daniel to speak freely without the fear of being cut into pieces or having his house turned into piles of rubble. 

Which is…very kind of Nebuchadnezzar, considering his previous enthusiasm for cutting and burning and destroying. 

So Belteshazzar answered, “My lord, if only the dream applied to your enemies and its meaning to your adversaries!” 

In other words: yes, this is bad news. 

And then Daniel goes on to repeat and interpret the dream: Nebuchadnezzar is the tree. His greatness has grown until it reaches the sky, and his dominion extends to distant parts of the earth. 

But he is going to be cut down, driven away from people to live with the wild animals. “You will eat grass like the ox and be drenched with the dew of heaven. 

What is Daniel talking about? How can he say that Nebuchadnezzar is the Tree of Life? Isn’t that…blasphemous, or something? 

Well…no, it is not blasphemous. Remember that, back in Chapter 2, Daniel interpreted another dream for Nebuchadnezzar. he told Nebuchadnezzar that the God of gods had appointed him to be the King of kings. And at that time Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar, very clearly, that as God’s greatest king on earth, it is his duty now to continue the work that Adam left unfinished: “In your hands he has placed all mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds in the sky. Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them all.” As God’s greatest king on earth, Nebuchadnezzar is obligated to extend God’s life and wisdom, order and worship to the ends of the earth. 

So this dream that God has given Nebuchadnezzar here — at least 16 years after that first dream — is really just repeating this same idea: as God’s greatest king on earth, Nebuchadnezzar has been obligated to act as God’s Tree of Life for the world. 

Except that this dream is now calling Nebuchadnezzar to account. This dream is God basically saying, “Hey, king, I gave you everything, and I told you — 16+ years ago! — what I expect from you in return. But what have you been doing with your time instead? Building an empire for yourself…and then offering to share it with me, half/half? I don’t think so! You owe me everything. And now I am going to take back everything. 

And we are going to pause here for a moment and notice something: 

If I had been Daniel, I would have delivered this message of judgement with a bit of righteous glee. 

After all, this is the king that took Daniel as a hostage from his family when he was 12 or 13 or 14 years old. This is the king that has threatened Daniel and his friends with death more than once. This is the king that has actually burned to death men that Daniel knew. And this is the king who, at this point, has utterly destroyed Daniel’s home-city of Jerusalem, turning it into a giant pile of rubble, cutting its princes into pieces, marching the survivors away into slavery, leaving only the poorest of the poor behind to survive as best they can amidst the ruins. 

Daniel has every reason to be delighted that Nebuchadnezzar is about to be struck down. Instead, he sincerely wishes that this bad news could apply to Nebuchadnezzar’s enemies. 

Daniel could have ended his interpretation there, and left Nebuchadnezzar without any hope at all. Instead, he goes on with some good news: 

Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes. [26] 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.” 

So Daniel is letting the king know that this judgement against him will, at some point, be completed. That is why there is this repeated reference to “seven times” passing by. 

Many people have thought that “seven times” is just another way of saying “seven years”, but it’s really not. In those days the number seven symbolized perfection and completeness. So when we are told that Nebuchadnezzar will remain under judgement until “seven times pass by for him”, this is a symbolic way of saying that he will remain under judgement until the entire time alloted for his judgement is completely finished. There will not be any parole. There will not be any early release. He will have to serve the entire prison term. 

But it will finally come to an end. 

That is the hope Daniel offers Nebuchadnezzar here: at some point in the future, Nebuchadnezzar is finally going to repent, and then God will give everything back to him. 

But Daniel does not just stop there, with that good news. He proposes something further: 

[27] “Therefore, Your Majesty, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins — now — by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue.” 

Just a minute ago, Daniel prophesied that, at some point in the future, Nebuchadnezzar is going to repent. So Daniel is suggesting that, since Nebuchadnezzar is guaranteed going to repent someday, why not just do it now? Since he knows now that this humiliation is coming, and that he must inevitably give up and surrender to God, why not just give up now and avoid the humiliation? 

That just makes sense, doesn’t it? 

But I think we all know that just because something makes sense does not mean we will do it. Right? Because, when it comes to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, we all turn into gamblers, don’t we? The bible tells us, in advance, that if we play the lottery of personal power and prosperity and success, there is not even a one-in-ten-trillion chance that we will win that game. But we all go, “…okay. I like those odds!” 

Well, Nebuchadnezzar also likes to gamble. 

And sure enough, he loses: [29] twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, [30] he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” 

And this was true. King Nebuchadnezzar is, without a doubt, the greatest emperor who has ever lived. The city wall he built around Babylon was longer, taller, and wider than any city wall ever built. Not only that, Nebuchadnezzar literally built an artificial mountain inside the city, and covered it with beautiful gardens. Why? Oh, just because he had an Iranian girlfriend who missed the mountains of her homeland… 

This guy had power and ambition beyond the wildest imagination. 

But [31] even as the words were on his lips, a voice came from heaven, “Rrrrrrrrt. Wrong answer.” 

[33] Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like the ox. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird. 

And here, again, it is pretty normal for people to read this and wonder what kind of illness Nebuchadnezzar had. Was he mentally ill? Was this some kind of lycanthropy, where a person thinks they are a wolf or a cow or some other animal? Or did he catch some kind of disease that made his hair and nails grow like this? 

Well, it is clear he is out of his mind. And in those days, when people went crazy, mostly they were just left to run wild. And it is quite natural, under those conditions, for hair and nails to grow like this. I think we have all seen some of the poor afflicted homeless individuals on the sidewalks around here…that is essentially what happened to Nebuchadnezzar. 

But the point being made here is not medical, it is theological. Nebuchadnezzar had the chance to become a second Adam, he was given authority to rule men and beasts and lead them into life and wisdom. Instead, he failed, just like the first Adam: he submitted to his own bestial appetites. And as a result, just like the first Adam, he was driven out of the garden to live as a beast, grubbing like an animal in the earth for his food. 

But just as Daniel had promised, God’s judgement against Nebuchadnezzar did not last forever. It ran its full course. Nebuchadnezzar finally raised his eyes toward heaven for help, and his sanity was restored. 

Then,” he says, “I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. [35] All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: ‘What have you done?’” 

And [36] “at the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before. 

[37] “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.” 

So, in the end here, Nebuchadnezzar learns that religious tolerance is not enough: God will not be satisfied with anything less than total dependence and total commitment. 

And this the question most people ask at this point: did Nebuchadnezzar actually convert? Did he actually come to realize that the God of Israel alone is God? Did he actually surrender his life and his worship to the God of Israel? 

Well…we really cannot say for certain. Historically speaking — apart from Daniel’s journals here — there is no indication that Nebuchadnezzar ever rejected the gods of Babylon in exchange for the God of Israel…just as there is no historical indication that he went insane for some period of time. 

Of course, to be fair, the fact that the king went crazy and then rejected the local national gods is exactly the sort of thing that would be deleted from the official histories of the empire. So it could be that, after Nebuchadnezzar died and the court historians were busy censoring the bad parts of his reign, Daniel alone preserved a copy of this lettter Nebuchadnezzar wrote about his madness and his conversion experience. 

But the reason Nebuchadnezzar’s letter is included here among Daniel’s papers is not really so we can speculate about the reality or the nature of Nebuchadnezzar’s faith in God — the point is to show us that even the greatest pagan emperors of the earth are not beyond God’s reach. The point is to show us that, no matter how powerful a person may become, if they use their power to act like a consuming beast instead of a human being, God will let them reap what they have sown: one way or another they will become like unreasoning animals, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed. And just like everyone else on earth, at that point they will either repent and be permitted to serve God, or like animals they too will perish. 

— and next week, as we start to dig in to Daniel’s apocalyptic visions, we will definitely be discussing further this question of the fate of nations and their rulers. So you’ll definitely want to come back for that. 


But for now, for this week — as we pause to ask what lesson God is trying to teach his people through this — we are going to focus on the application Daniel himself gave directly to Nebuchadnezzar: his call for the king’s repentance, and his explanation of what a king’s repentance should look like. 

To summarize: Nebuchadnezzar had this dream that was a warning to him. The message was really very clear: you knew what you were supposed to do as a king. You have proven over quite a number of years that you are not going to do it. And now your judgement is upon you. 

But, as always, God’s message of judgement did not come without a way of escape: if you repent, even now, at the last minute, and turn around, and begin to do what you know you are supposed to do as a king…God will have mercy on you. 

Okay. But what, practically speaking, does repentance look like for a world leader like Nebuchadnezzar? 

Well, Daniel was very specific: Renounce your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. 

That, friends, is the simplest biblical description of what a godly government looks like. If anyone ever asks you what we Christians are looking for in a politician, how we would define a good, godly politician, this is the answer: a good politician is kind to the oppressed. 

And we can say this, Daniel can say this — the bible can say this — because this single sentence is really a very good summary of what Adam’s government was supposed to look like. Remember, Adam was the first governor over the first government on earth. And this government had one simple task to accomplish: it was called to extend the fruits of God’s life and wisdom to every wild plant, every wild creature on earth. It was called to gradually extend the orderly government of the garden into the disorderly wilderness outside the garden. 

How was Adam’s government supposed to accomplish this? By being kind to the oppressed. 

Allow me to explain: where there is no government, disorder reigns. But even disorder has a natural kind of order. And that order is what modern scientists call “Natural Selection”, or — among us non-scientists — “survival of the fittest”. The wilderness outside the garden was full of wild plants and wild animals. Now, how do wild plants and wild animals survive? Through oppression: the strong devour the weak. 

That is “natural” government. 

And this is why we can say that the task of Adam’s godly government was, quite simply, to be kind to the oppressed. 

Adam and his descendants were supposed to protect the weak, and teach the strong how to restrain themselves. They were supposed to gradually redirect predatory plants and animals, passing judgement on those that refused to learn reason or accept a more godly order of existence…and this is the essence of what it looks like when the life and the wisdom of God fills the earth. 

God included Nebuchanezzar’s letter here because he wants the world to know that this is still what he demands of human government. Government does exist to bring proper godly order to human society, to make sure the strong serve the weak instead of devouring them. But it does not stop there: the reason for bringing proper godly order to human society is so that human society can bring proper godly order to the plant and animal kingdoms as well. And this means that government also has a responsibility to manage the natural resources of the nation under its care, to make sure there is a fair distribution and a renewal of those resources… 

Now, we are not doing to discuss political theory here. There are many different ideas about how to bring about proper distribution and renewal, how best to be kind to the oppressed, and the bible has some very strong critiques of every single political and economic philosophy operating in our world today. But we are not going to talk about all that here because the truth is this: 

God does not actually care about whether our governments are capitalist or communist, democratic or a dictatorship. Nebuchadnezzar was one of the greatest dictators in all of world history, and the Book of Daniel has made it clear that God put him in that position. The only thing God is concerned about is whether a dictator is a good dictator. He just wants to know: is your government being kind to the oppressed? In other words: what are the real world results of your government’s policies? 

So, what is our practical application here? 

Well, if you are here today and you are the King of Malaysia, or the Prime Minister, or some other powerful figure in our nation’s government, this is what God is calling you to do: take a good look at the results of your policies. God has placed you in that high position to continue Adam’s calling. It is your obligation, under God, to extend life and wisdom to all those under your care, especially the widow, the orphan, and the refugee. If you are not doing these things, then, be pleased to accept Daniel’s advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then God will be merciful to you — and to your nation — and your prosperity will continue. 

Okay. But what about the rest of us? What is our practical application? What are we supposed to do if our government is not actually a godly government? 

Well…we just did it. It is our calling as God’s gathered people — it is our calling as Christ’s Church — to tell our governers what God expects from them, and to call our governers to repentance. So there you go! 

But surely there is something more we can do? 

Uh, well: yes…and no. 

The temptation, as always, is to start some kind of revolution to improve things. That is what the ancient Jews did when they were unhappy with their government during the centuries that followed Daniel. But that is not God’s solution. 

And we talked about this last week, if you recall: one of the biggest problems with trying to protect our nation from God’s judgement by taking over our ungodly government…is that we then become the ungodly government that ends up bringing God’s judgement upon our nation. 

So the truth is: no, there is not a lot we ordinary citizens can do about a corrupt government without becoming infected by that corruption ourselves. God has not given us that level of control. 

Even in a democracy the control citizens exert through elections is largely an illusion; and — if the recent American election is anything to go by — that illusion is beginning to slip: very few believe that there is still such a thing as a “free and fair” election…if there ever was such a thing. Manipulation of elections by powerful unseen forces is the new normal. 

Actually, it’s the same old normal. 

And that is what the Book of Daniel is telling us: that it has always been this way. The Book of Daniel is simply reminding us that our governors are always chosen by God! not really by us. The Book of Daniel is simply reminding us that even the greatest governments on earth are not beyond God’s reach! but they are beyond ours. 

And that is why, when we ask what more we can do about our governments, the bible’s consistent advice for us is simply this: obey when you must, preach when you can, and pray all the time. Because only God can humble the mighty. 

And he will! — one way or another, he will. That is also the lesson the Book of Daniel is teaching us. 


But is that it? Isn’t there some kind of more practical application of this episode to our daily lives? 

Sure. We are all governors over some part of creation, whether that part is a family or a company or even just a single room or a desk. Even young children have belongings of some kind: clothing, toys, their own bodies that God has given them. So government is not just something that happens out there, on a national scale; government also exists at this local scale, between us: between individuals and families and small communities. 

And since we are all governors, this calling to be kind to the oppressed, to extend God’s life and God’s wisdom, is our calling also. Which means that this question that God asks of national governments also applies to us as individuals and as a community: are we being kind to the oppressed? Are we extending life and wisdom in our daily lives? What are the real world results of our policies? 

But it is really hard to measure the real world results, isn’t it? We try to do good, of course — we try to raise our children in the way they should go, we try to love the widow and the orphan and the refugee — but so often even the little local good things we try to do end up going wrong somehow, right? We rarely accomplish the pure good we wish to do. And then, when we compare the little bit of good we actually manage to do against everything else that seems to be going wrong in the world, we start to wonder what is the point? And then we are tempted to either give up doing good on a local level and just join the flow of events, or we are tempted to seize control on a national or international level so we can try to do good on a massive scale, as if bigger is always better. 

Which is really a bizarre kind of arrogance on our part, because if we can barely manage to govern our own families and churches in a godly way, what makes us think we can manage whole nations in a godly way? 

So what can we do, then, when failure haunts even our smallest attempts to bring life and wisdom and order to the world? Where can we turn for comfort and the encouragement we need to press on in our lives and local communities? 

We start by turning back and remembering the true nature of reality and our place in it. This is that truth: 

Just like the Tree of Life, we bear fruit in this world, but our citizenship is actually centered in another world. 

Allow me to explain: see, all of existence is sustained by a garden on a mountain that has, at its center, two great trees that have grown together into one tree — life and wisdom combined in one man — our Saviour Jesus Christ, the only true connecting point between earth and heaven. 

Now, over the last 2000 years, this tree has grown large and strong so that it is now visible to the ends of the earth, and under its spreading branches we do find our shelter and our food. But here’s the thing: even though its branches extend into this world, the Tree of Life and Wisdom is still rooted in the garden of God, in the throne-room of God, which is not in this world during this age. The Tree of Life, though bearing fruit in this world, is actually centered in another world. 

And we have all heard the saying, “You are what you eat” right? Well, when we eat the fruit from the Tree of Life we become part of that Tree, which means we also become rooted in the garden of God: just like the Tree of Life, we bear fruit in this world, but our citizenship is actually centered in another. 

Which means that, just like the Tree of Life, we are also exiles in this world. We are refugees here. When we eat from the Tree of Life that is Jesus Christ, we receive his life…but we also receive his refugee status in this world. 

And what did Jesus’ life as a refugee look like? 

Well, during the years of Jesus’ life on earth, he produced a lot of fruit at a local level, he did a lot of good on a local level: casting out demons, healing the sick, feeding the hungry, being kind to the oppressed, extending life and wisdom to the world. He was, finally, the perfect Adam that Nebuchadnezzar could not be. But it all went wrong, didn’t it! The fruit he produced did not last: the very same people he fed and healed and gave life to ended up turning against him. 

By the measure of the world, Jesus died a failure, an unwanted refugee, a nuisance, a threat to the nations he served. 

What the world did not understand is that the Trees of Life and Wisdom needed to be cut down before they could be grafted together and grow up into one central tree that would feed the whole world. What Nebuchadnezzar could not understand is that a true king, a true governor, gives life to his people by giving up his own, by setting aside his glory and dying the death of a refugee — dying the death of an unreasoning animal — so that when he is lifted up again to life the oppressed are lifted up with him. 

Like Nebuchadnezzar, Jesus was cut down and exiled from the rest of mankind by the judgement of God. Unlike Nebuchadnezzar, Jesus suffered that judgement for the sake of his people’s sins, not because of his own. But it was necessary for him to suffer that exile, so that — just like Nebuchadnezzar — when he was restored to his throne he would become even greater than before: a tree whose branches are even now spreading to give shelter to people from every nation on earth. 

And so, even though the fruit Jesus’ produced at a local level looked like a total waste, that waste has ended up bearing fruit all over the world. We are that fruit! We have eaten the fruit from the Tree of Life in that world, which has turned us into the fruit from the Tree of Life in this world. And guess what? Fruit gives life to the creation around it by being eaten, by being consumed. 

So how does turning back and remembering this reality comfort us, and encourage us to keep on doing good even when it looks hopeless? 

We take comfort in the reality that it took years for even Jesus’ good work on earth to begin to bear consistent good fruit. He lived locally. He died locally. But the effects of those local actions are still reverberating outward through the nations today. And now, through the Holy Spirit that he sent to us, we get participate in this strangely powerless plan of redemption. We get to live locally. We get to die locally. We get to spend ourselves for others, and be consumed by others, knowing only that if we do not give up, then at the proper time we will reap a harvest. 

So what this means is that it is almost impossible for us to measure the real world results of our actions. We try to do good, of course — we try to raise our children in the way they should go, we try to be kind to the oppressed — but the truth is we are not really going to know what actually bore lasting fruit until the end. There are some things we do that look very fruitful right away! — only to have it all fall apart as soon as we are gone. Then there are other projects that we might walk away from thinking that they were a total failure — only to discover on Judgement Day that what we called failure was actually the most fruitful thing we did in our entire lives. 

So we live by faith. We obey by faith. We follow our Father’s instructions, not really always knowing for certain why he says one strategy is good while another strategy that seems good to us he calls bad. To us, it is obvious that only kings can really change the course of history! but our Father says that it is actually the weak and the powerless that make all the difference — and that kings only get to eat from the Tree of Life after they have learned to grub like animals in the dust for their food. 

There is no other way to enter the garden but on our knees. 

Therefore — as Paul says in the New Testament — this is our practical, daily application: as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. When it comes to our kings and our governors, let’s obey when we must, preach when we can, and pray all the time. 

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