Dr. Ed Young - Is God in Control?
A brief look at El, E-L. We're not going to exhaust our study but when you see the name E-L or the initials, E-L it stands for God. That E-L is mentioned 238 times in the Old Testament, E-L. We looked last week at the God of creation, he is El... do you say it? El, E-L-ohim. Elohim, Elohim. And now we look at another name for God. I want you to notice it, it is E-L E-L-Y-O-N. El, El. You've got E-L, E-L twice. You've got a double God there, right? In the Hebrew. You have God God. And it's used for Almighty God, the High God and when you have in Hebrew a double name, God God, E-L, E-L, see it, "E-L, E-L," this means the top of the top. Make no mistake about it. He is El Elyon. He is sovereign. He is a God who is in control.
And so as we look at this, let's do a brief historical study just to see where this word is first mentioned. Look at the Genesis, the book of beginnings and look if you would in chapter 14. The first time this name for God is used is by Melchizedek, remember him? We studied Hebrews? He's a mystical-like servant of the Lord, Christ-like figure in the Bible. Look at verse 18, Genesis chapter 14, "And Melchizedek, king of Salem brought out bread and wine; and he was a priest of God Most High". There's our word, translated into English, God Most High. "El Elyon", God Most High. The top of the top. "He blessed him and said, 'Blessed be Abram of God,'" there's our word again, most high, El Elyon, the top of the top. Look at, "Who has delivered your enemies in your hand".
So, you have in verse 18 a word, you have in verse 19 our word, you have in verse 20 our word. And what is this priest saying? He's talking to Abram because Abram also worshiped El Elyon, the God who is sovereign. And Melchizedek also worshipped that so they were in the same family and he was reminded Abraham, Abram as he was then, that you've just experienced a great victory but not of yourselves, it was a victory as a result of Him who is sovereign, El Elyon. The sovereign God. You think you've done something, you've accomplished something, you know something, you have something? It all comes from the hands of El Elyon.
Remember when Jesus went before Pilate? Remember that? And Pilate looked at him and says, paraphrased, "You know, Jesus the way you're responding to me, don't you know that I have the power to take your life? Or to spare your life"? Remember how Jesus answered that? He said to Pilate, "You have no power except that what was given you by El Elyon, he who is sovereign. He is the top of the top, that's the only reason you have power". That's the only reason that any of us have life or breath or a heart beats another moment or our mind works for another second; it is a gift. It is the superintendence of and the sovereignty of Almighty God, who is in control.
Now we see the next time this word is used is just in the following verse there. "The King of Sodom to Abram, 'Give the people to me and take the goods for yourself.'" Verse 21, "Abram said to the king of Sodom, 'I have sworn to the,'" there's our word, "Lord God Most High," El Elyon, "possessor of heaven and earth and I will not take a thread or a sandal thong or anything that's yours for fear you'll say, 'I made Abram rich.'" Abram said, "I'm not going to let some pagan determine my destiny. Everything I have and everything I do not have and who I am and what I'm about, it's a result of the grace and the mercy and the benevolence of El Elyon, him who is sovereign".
Now, you have this most high God all the way through the Old Testament but the place where I want to look at in the book of Daniel. Daniel, chapter number 4, remember the setting of Daniel. Nebuchadnezzar went down to Jerusalem, conquered the city... and by the way, chapter 1, verse 2 of Daniel really is the theme of the book. That's where all of Nebuchadnezzar, his boys got into big problems. They took all the stuff, all the gold, all the silver, all the vessels out of the temple and put them in the pagan temple there in Babylon. In other words, that was saying, "My god's bigger than your god! We destroyed you, we've taken choice people from there. Then we've taken all the valuable out of the place of worship, we've given it to our gods, therefore our pagan gods are stronger than this God who you say is El Elyon". See?
But that was temporary as we'll see. And remember they took with them choice young men and we don't know how many exactly but we know 4 names, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, remember? Took them back and engulfed them in the culture of the Babylonians. Taught them the Babylonian language, taught them the Babylonian traditions. Gave them new godless names, pagan names, changed their names. And they were to be leaders of the Jews and also, leaders in the courts. This is what Nebuchadnezzar did. And now we look at chapter 4 of Daniel. It's, by the way, in my opinion, one of the most staggering in all of the Bible, chapter 4 of Daniel. You know why? It was written by Nebuchadnezzar. Every word of it. Whew! That will shock you!
Here's a godless pagan, megalomaniac, despot, vicious, jealous, brilliant, powerful, a murderer, a warrior. He's written a whole chapter in the Bible? Can you believe it? But it's a great chapter. It's a fabulous chapter. It is Nebuchadnezzar's spiritual autobiography. He tells us about the, you would say chess match, over big states he had with God because Nebuchadnezzar says, "I am sovereign of everything I see and everything I touch. I'm in charge, I am sovereign". And El Elyon says, "No, no, oh king. I am God and I am in control of everything".
And we see the end of the story in chapter 4. You can outline chapter 4 easily, it's probably already done in your Bibles. You've got the section beginning with verse 41, of chapter 4 of Daniel. It goes, this is the vision of the great tree, goes verse 41 all the way through verse 18. It's a vision, it's a vision of the dream. It's a vision of Nebuchadnezzar's dream. Look at verse 19, all the way through down to verse 27, it says, "Daniel's interpretation of the dream". Then you've got verse 28 all the way down through verse 33, it says the realization, the fulfillment of the dream. Then you've got verse 34 to the end of this chapter. And you have the restoration of Nebuchadnezzar and that's the miraculous part. You got the outline!
Alright, you've got a dream about a pagan. You've got Daniel, God's man, interpreting the dream. Then you have the dream which was a prophecy, the dream is fulfilled. Then you see the results of the dream, which is the restoration of someone who we would guess would be the writer of this old Nebuchadnezzar. Let's look at it briefly. And then I'll seek to apply it right where you and I live. Look at it in verse 41. This is the dream. "I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at ease in my house and flourishing in my palace, saw a dream and it made me fearful and these fantasies as I lay on my bed, and the visions in my mind kept alarming me".
Let me tell you what the dream was. By the way, you say, what is all this my God is speaking to somebody in a dream? Ladies and gentlemen, God uses whatever he has to use when he wants to say something to you and me. Don't miss it: He'll use a friend. He'll use a mate. He'll use a child. He'll use health. He'll use your vocation. He'll use anything he can use even a dream to speak to you and to speak to me. Dreams were in fashion then. That's how they interpreted them in their pagan culture and therefore this dream was very significant. Nebuchadnezzar. And God used a dream, he'll use whatever he has to use when he wants to get through to you and me when we've come so far removed from him.
Now, here's what the dream was: He dreamed there was a big tree and the tree grew and grew and grew until it went to the top of the clouds, until it covered the whole earth. This was a fabulous tree, it had all kind of fruit on it and birds would eat of the fruit, they would nest and build their nests there and they would be honored to sit in the tree. And other animals would be under the tree and it would shade them and they would eat of the fruit. It was a wonderful tree of bounty and blessing and plenty for all who were connected to it. High tree, magnificent tree. And then it says, an angel came.
This is the dream of Nebuchadnezzar. A heavenly watcher came down and cut down that tree. And the tree was down, the branches, the leaves were swept away and the birds flew away and the animals could rest and eat under the tree. And all that was left was a stump. And in that stump they tied around it a brass band and they tied around it an iron band to hold that stump together where it wouldn't split because any hope for life coming back would be through that old stump. In the dream, don't touch the stump. Don't touch the stump. And then in the dream it changes, interesting, in verse 15 it's talking about, "it," the tree and then it gets into verse 15, it talks about, "he".
It changes from an inanimate thing in the sense of the vegetable, a tree. And it turns into a person. And he says, "And this person will be exiled and will have the mind of an animal and will live for several years as an animal". That's the dream. And this dream kept coming to Nebuchadnezzar and he said, "I've got to get interpretation". He tried all the soothsayers, the pagans of that day. Finally, he went to Daniel because Daniel had already set him straight on a couple occasions. We don't have time to look at that. And so he goes to Daniel and Daniel sees what the tree means. And it's wonderful, a little verse there, I'll not read it to you.
Daniel steps back, he doesn't say anything for a while. Out of respect for the king. Because the king, though he was pagan and despotic and mean and vicious, somehow, he'd been kind to Daniel. And Daniel stepped back, he didn't say anything. And Nebuchadnezzar said, "Tell me what it means. Don't worry about it, just tell me what it means". And so, Daniel interprets the dream and this is a little bit of the interpretation and we'll see how it plays out in just one moment.
Look at the verse number 24, Daniel, "This is the interpretation, O king, this is the decree of the Most High," there's our word, El Elyon, he is sovereign, "This is the decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord, the king, that you be driven away from mankind, your dwelling place be with the beast of the field, you'll be given grass to eat like cattle and be drenched with the dew of heaven; seven periods of time will pass over you until you recognize that the Most High, El Elyon, the Sovereign God is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes". And he goes on, interprets the stump as to what that means, a chance of rehabilitation and he encourages Nebuchadnezzar to repent then of his pride and his ego and worship El Elyon.
And then we see about Nebuchadnezzar, twelve months go by. Man, he's still in power, he still built this stuff, look what happens. This is how the vision fulfilled, look at verse 28, "All this happened to Nebuchadnezzar the king. Twelve months later he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon. And the king reflected and said," listen to the egotist, "Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty"?
And let me tell you something, it was some kind of city. Some kind of city. Babylon had a wall around it, six miles in circumference. That wall was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. That wall was over a football field in height, 89 feet wide, went all the way around the city, one of the wonders of the ancient world. One of only seven. Also in that city was the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. And they were fabulous. They were 600 feet long, 500 feet high, they had terraces of plants and flowers and vegetation and beauty and trees. Unparalleled, probably in history even to this day. In the middle of the city, the Euphrates river ran. And they even had in this beautiful deep body of water, it's a fabulous body of water, they had dykes and they would open and close at flood times so it wouldn't affect the rest of the city.
And they would take the water that would overflow from the Euphrates and they would route it into the Tigris, which is right there. And they had in the city marble, stone, beautiful works of art. They had statues all over the city. It was a fabulous thing and here's, and it's all done by Nebuchadnezzar. And he is standing there looking over 50 different fabulous pagan temples. He was saying, "Woo! Look at what I have done with my own hands"! I didn't read it, but the Bible says, "Bang! Enough is enough". And God cuts him down. He immediately has the mind of an animal.
By the way, the human history world said we're all high class animals anyway, they don't recognize we're humans made in the image of God, not the secular world. He had the mind of an animal. You can imagine. He began to tear his clothes and make animal noises and he ran out of the palace and began to strip himself down and finally he was naked. He was the king, the most powerful monarch in the world. No one could compete with him. No one could stand up to him. Here he was now, living out in the field for 7 years as an animal. And the Bible describes what he looks like. He said his hair grew and grew until it was like the feathers of an eagle. And he said his fingernails grew long, they were like the claws of a bird.
I thought about Howard Hughes. Remember? He came worth over 2 billion dollars. He was a man who had everything and had nothing. He was a man, Nebuchadnezzar, who had everything and nothing. He lived like an animal and he was on his knees and his hands. I'm sure they were calloused. He was naked. He ate of the grass. He kept his head down. He was out of his mind. And this went on for seven years. It said he awakened every morning not of the comfort of the royal bed but the dew of heaven, wet all over from the dew. Living with animals, sounds like animals, out of his mind. Seven years, until a wonderful thing happens. This is the miracle of God's grace.
Look at verse 34, "But at the end of the period, I, Nebuchadnezzar raised my eyes toward heaven," remember, he's telling of this, "and my reason returned to me and I blessed the Most High, El Elyon," there's our word, "and praised and honored him who lives forever". What happened? Seven years down and then he just looks up. He looks up to heaven. That's all you have to do. That's all I have to do. All your ego, all your pride, calling my own shots, making your own decision. You just have to look up to heaven. Show me what you look at. Show me what you admire. Show me who you want to be like. Show me what your dreams are. All you have to do is look up to heaven. And immediately, what happened? His mind was cleared up.
That will happen to you and me today. Our minds, what do you see? What are you looking at, what do you see in this life? In this world, what are you thinking about? Look up to heaven, look to God, look up to El Elyon. He who is sovereign and he'll clear your mind up and then what happened? He worshipped. He said he blessed God. He praised God. He praised El Elyon, he who is the God who controls everything. You see he was broken but he was healed and he was made whole. This is a miracle of God's grace, isn't it? And that miracle still operates in your life and in mine. Where are words to describe almighty God? Where are words to describe him who is Elohim, the God of creation. Him who is El Elyon, who is the god who controls everything, the god who is sovereign? Where do you find those words?
A great preacher of the last generation named Lockridge, S.M. Lockridge, and the S stands for Shadrach, the M stands for Meshach. Shadrach Meshach Lockridge, what a great name. And he was a great servant of the Lord. And in talking about the name of God, in talking about this he was a wonderful recitation that just elevates and honors the Lord and this is his words, he said, "He is the king of the Jews, he is the king of Israel. He is the king of righteousness, he is king of the ages. He is the king of heaven, he is the king of glory. He is the king of kings and lord of lords".
That's my king and I wonder, do you know him? My king is a sovereign king. No means or measure can provide his limitless love. No far seeing telescope can bring into vision the coastline of his shore-less supplies. Oh, that's my king. No barrier can hinder him from pouring out his blessings. He's enduringly strong. He's entirely sincere. He's eternally steadfast. He's immortally graceful. He's imperially powerful. He's impartially merciful. Do you know him?
That's my king. He's the greatest phenomenon that has ever crossed the horizons of the world. He's God's son. He is the sinner's savior. He's the centerpiece of civilization. He stands on the title of himself. He's unique, he's unparalleled. He's unprecedented. He is the loftiest idea in literature. He's the highest personality in philosophy. He is the fundamental doctrine of truth, theology. He is the miracle of the age. He's the only one qualified to be called, "O sufficient savior".
And I wonder do you know him today? He supplies strength for the weak. He's available for the tempted and the tired. He sympathizes and he saves and he strengthens and he sustains and he guards and he guides. And he heals the sick and he cleanses the lepers. He forgives sinners. He discharges debtors. He delivers the captive. He defends the feeble. He blesses the young. He serves the unfortunate. He regards the age. He rewards those who are diligent. He beautifies the meager. I wonder do you know him?
Well, this is my king. He is the key to knowledge. He is a wealth spring of wisdom. He's a doorway to deliverance. He's the pathway of peace. He's the roadway of righteousness. He's the highway of holiness. He's the gateway of glory. Do you know him well? His office is manifold. His promise is sure. His life is matchless. His goodness is timeless. His mercy is everlasting. And his love never changes. His word is enough. His grace is sufficient. His reign is righteous. His yoke is easy and his burden is light. Oh, I wish could describe him to you. He is indescribable. He is incomprehensible. He is invisible. He is irresistible.
You can't get him out of your mind, you can't get him off your hands. You can't outlive him. And you can't live without him. The Pharisees couldn't stand it but they found out they couldn't stop him. Pilate couldn't find any fault in him. Herod couldn't kill him. Death couldn't handle him. Oh, the grave couldn't hold him! That's my king! That's my king. And thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and forever and forever and when you run out of forevers there's more good, God almighty! He is Elohim! He is creator. He is El Elyon. He is sovereign. He's in control of everything. That's our king! That's the Lord God Almighty. He is Elohim! He is creator. He is El Elyon. He is sovereign. That's our king.