When something “rules” in our culture, that can mean a lot of things. If we call a group the “ruling party” in a country, we mean that they have enough influence to impact how that country is governed. On the other hand, if my wife says, “Blackhawks Rule!”, while wearing her team apparel, she is probably celebrating another win by one of her favorite hockey teams.
While reading about the prophet Daniel’s interpretation of a king’s dream (with both the dream and interpretation ultimately being provided by God), I encountered this verse, where Daniel was prophesying what would happen to the king:
But the stump and roots of the tree were left in the ground. This means that you will receive your kingdom back again when you have learned that heaven rules.
Daniel 4:26 NLT
Ultimately, King Nebuchadnezzar (the king who had the dream, and who found out that the dream was about him) still didn’t acknowledge the role of God in his accomplishments, even after being warned. So, King Nebuchadnezzar lost his mind and – as near as I can tell from both the Bible and history – went insane for a while, until he figured it out.
Centuries later, another king, named Herod, ran into the same problem, taking credit for accomplishments as a “god”, when he wasn’t even close to the actual God.
The people gave him a great ovation, shouting, “It’s the voice of a god, not of a man!”
Instantly, an angel of the Lord struck Herod with a sickness, because he accepted the people’s worship instead of giving the glory to God. So he was consumed with worms and died.
Acts of the Apostles 12:22-23 NLT
These guys didn’t figure out – at least at first – that God in Heaven was the ruler, not them.
Unlike these misguided kings, may we figure out this lesson ahead of time, without doing it the hard way.
Maybe we celebrate Heaven with at least as much enthusiasm as we show to our favorite sports team, actor, author, TV series, or other person/thing/idea. Once we have accepted Jesus’ payment for our sins, and established Heaven as our eternal home, we should probably start to get excited about Heaven as a place (both what it offers us, and – more importantly – the fact that Jesus will be there). Based on what we learn about Heaven from the Bible, it’s ok to get pretty hyped up to go there and celebrate. Paul was torn between this opportunity (to be with Jesus) versus his chance to serve both Jesus and those that he cared about, while Paul remained here on earth (see Philippians 1:20-24) .
Or, unlike the kings above, who provided examples of what we should not do, we can acknowledge that God in Heaven truly rules the universe. He extends mercy in delaying the punishment we deserve (as fallen people), and He accepts Jesus’ payment for our eternal punishment (if we accept His offer).
However, no matter how much evil forces and powers in this world may seem to dominate, God is ultimately in control. Reminding ourselves that everything is ruled by God (a loving and righteous leader), can not only help us to put imperfect leaders (here on earth) in perspective, but also inspire us to regularly thank God for His wise rule.
As Jesus illustrated in His example prayer for His disciples:
May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven.
Matthew 6:10 NLT
Either way, “Heaven Rules”!