The Youth’s Instructor


September 29, 1903

Lessons From the Life of Daniel—13

Obedience the Condition of God's Favor


The strength of nations and of individuals is not found in the opportunities and facilities that appear to make them invincible; it is not found in their boasted greatness. That which alone can make them great or strong is the power of God. They themselves, by their attitude toward his purpose, decide their own destiny. YI September 29, 1903, par. 1

Human histories relate man's achievements, his victories in battle, his success in attaining worldly greatness. God's history describes man as heaven views him. In the divine records all his merit is seen to consist in his obedience to God's requirements. His disobedience is faithfully chronicled as meriting the punishment he will surely receive. In the light of eternity it will be seen that God deals with men in accordance with the momentous question of obedience or disobedience. YI September 29, 1903, par. 2

Hundreds of years before certain nations came upon the stage of action, the Omniscient One looked down the ages, and predicted through his servants the prophets the rise and fall of the universal kingdoms. The prophet Daniel, when interpreting to the king of Babylon the dream of the great image,—an image symbolic of the kingdoms of the world,—declared to Nebuchadnezzar that his kingdom should be superseded. His greatness and power in God's world would have their day, and a second kingdom would arise, which also would have its period of trial as to whether it would exalt the one Ruler, the only true God. Not doing this, its glory would fade away, and a third kingdom would occupy its place. Proved by obedience or disobedience, this also would pass away; and a fourth, strong as iron, would subdue the nations of the world. These predictions of the Infinite One, recorded on the prophetic page and traced on the pages of history, were given to demonstrate that God is the ruling power in the affairs of this world. He changes the times and the seasons, he removes kings and sets up kings, to fulfil his own purpose. YI September 29, 1903, par. 3

Under King Nebuchadnezzar, Babylon was the richest and most powerful kingdom on the earth. Its riches and splendor have been faintly portrayed by Inspiration. But it did not fulfil God's purpose; and when his time had come, this kingdom of pride and power, ruled by men of the highest intellect, was broken, shattered, helpless. Christ has declared, “Without me ye can do nothing.” The illustrious statesmen of Babylon did not regard themselves as dependent on God. They thought that they had created all their grandeur and exaltation. But when God spoke, they were as the grass that withereth, and the flower of the grass that fadeth away. The word and will of God alone endure forever. YI September 29, 1903, par. 4

If these several kingdoms had kept the fear of the Lord always before them, they would have been given wisdom and power, which would have bound them together and kept them strong. But the rulers of the kingdoms of the world made God their strength only when harassed and perplexed. Failing to obtain help from their great men, they sought it from men like Daniel, men who they knew honored the living God and were honored by him. To these men they appealed to unravel for them the mysteries of Providence; for they had separated themselves so far from God by transgression that they could not understand his warnings. They were forced to appeal to those whose minds were illuminated by heavenly light, for an explanation of the mysteries they could not comprehend. YI September 29, 1903, par. 5

The voice of God, heard in past ages, is sounding down along the line, from century to century, through generations that have come upon the stage of action and passed away. Shall God speak, and his voice not be respected? What power mapped out all this history, that nations, one after another, should arise at the predicted time and fill their appointed place, unconsciously witnessing to the truth of that which they themselves knew not the meaning. YI September 29, 1903, par. 6

The centuries have their mission. Every moment has its work. Each is passing into eternity with its burden, Well done, thou good and faithful servant, or, Woe to the wicked and slothful servant. God is still dealing with earthly kingdoms. He is in the great cities. His eyes behold, his eyelids try, the doings of the children of men. We are not to say, God was, but, God is. He sees the very sparrow's fall, the leaf that falls from the tree, and the king who is dethroned. All are under the control of the Infinite One. Everything is changing. Cities and nations are being measured by the plummet in the hand of God. He never makes a mistake. He reads correctly. Everything earthly is unsettled, but the truth abides forever. YI September 29, 1903, par. 7

In the eyes of the world, those who serve God may appear weak. They may be apparently sinking beneath the billows, but with the next billow, they are seen rising nearer to their haven. I give unto them eternal life, saith our Lord, and none shall be able to pluck them out of my hand. Though kings shall be cast down, and nations removed, the souls that through faith link themselves with God's purpose shall abide forever. “They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and forever.” YI September 29, 1903, par. 8

Mrs. E. G. White