My 19-year-old daughter recently shared for our family worship some insights from a book she is reading for her university Bible class. When she finished, my mind went to the following scripture:
“As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time” (Daniel 7:12).
This verse describes both the military dominion and cultural influence of four great kingdoms: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome (Daniel 7:17, 23). The prophecy indicates that while each kingdom’s dominion and military control was lost to each succeeding power, the lives of these conquered nations were prolonged.
Defeated but living?
The life of a nation is found in its culture—the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively. These four cultures, though they differ in expression, are characterized by exonerating man and displaying his achievements. This is the culture of “I”, expressed today in things like the iPhone and social media, which enable our self-centered way of living.
Jesus turned the culture of “I” upside down. “Not I but Thy” was His mantra.
This “I” culture is foreign to God’s original plan for creation. First introduced by Lucifer in heaven (Isaiah 14:12-14), the “I” culture later entangled Eve, then Adam, thus conquering planet earth (Genesis 3:1-6). It ruled the world in every generation until it met its only Conqueror, Jesus Christ, God in the flesh. Through Jesus, God’s original other-centered culture was restored in humanity. Jesus turned the culture of “I” upside down. “Not I but Thy” was His mantra.
In Christ the entire human race is called out of the self-destructive culture of “I.” The way out is found in the other-centered love of God. To embrace this counterculture is to accept the completeness of the gift of our salvation, accomplished in the doing and dying of Jesus, and to use the gifts He has given to us in a way so that He alone is exalted. As fallen human beings we naturally tend to take credit even for the work of believing in Jesus (John 6:29).
God’s other-centered culture of love will eventually crush to powder every selfish act of “I.” His grace will remove every last layer of the culture of “I” from all who will look to Jesus. Then not only the dominion, but also the lives (the “I” culture) of these four great prophetic “beasts” will be taken away. Amen.