Action vs. permission

In Daniel chapter 5, King Belshazzar dishonours God by taking items from the temple and using them at a dinner party. He sees a hand, writing something on the wall, and calls Daniel to tell him what it's all about. Daniel gives him a message from God, which says in part:

You have not humbled your heart... but have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven... the God in whose hand is your breath, and whose are all your ways you have not honoured. (Daniel 5 v 22,23)

Sometimes I read things like this and think, "Yeah, those foreign kings (or Pharisees or disciples) really need to humble themselves before God, and recognise that he has power over their whole lives." Oh wait... don't I need to do that too? Recognising that God holds my very breath in his hand is a good reminder that he doesn't just permit; he wills and acts. God is not some benevolent and distant landlord who lets us do whatever we like so long as we don't damage the walls and lose our bond - he actually has power and authority, and he DOES act in the world. Yes, he allows us free will, but I don't think this means he simply steps aside for things to take their course - he plans and directs the course of our lives. This is not to say that things are on a set path and can never change... my point is that God is in active control of the world, not passive control.


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