The Timeless Decree (1)
A king is often recognised by his powers. He manifests such power through decrees, that is, official orders or royal statutes. Decrees are, indeed, commands or laws made by a king – an order with the power of legislation issued by a king or any person with authority. King Darius of Babylon had signed an earlier decree, but it was an unrighteous decree (Isaiah 10:1), a temporary decree (Daniel 6:7), a decree inspired by sin, self and Satan (Daniel 6:3-9).
This time, his new decree was not temporary but timeless, not unrighteous but righteous, not inspired by Satan but inspired by God. He said: “I make a decree, that in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for He is the living God” (Daniel 6: 26). It is a universal decree, as well as an unchangeable decree. Among “all people, nations, and languages”, from all “that dwell in all the earth”.
God cannot expect anything less. “This is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12: 13,14) in every place, at all times. Prophets in the Old Testament and preachers in the New Testament, angels in heaven and Jesus Christ on the right hand of majesty on high, all declare the same decree, that God is to be feared and reverenced. (Isaiah 8: 13; Psalms 33: 8; 34: 9; 1 Peter 2:17; Matthew 10:28; Revelation 14: 6,7; Luke 12: 4,5).
The law King Darius made was not merely the decree of an earthly King; it was the decree of the eternal king. The decree of God is His eternal, unchangeable, holy, wise and sovereign purpose – the will of the infinite, absolute, eternal, unchanging God. He demands from small and great, from the beginning of creation to an unending eternity, that we fear Him.
In view of His infinite greatness and man’s total dependence on Him, “men tremble and fear before God, the living God.” The living God is the eternal God, Who has life in Himself and He is the fountain of life, without Him there is no life. He is the Author and Giver of life. “He is steadfast for ever.” He abides and lives forever, while “presidents and princes,” “governors, counselors and captains” (Daniel 6: 4,7,24) rise and fall, live and die.
All things change; but God is unchangeable. “His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” No human power can prevail against Him, as His kingdom is upheld by His omnipotence. His might, power and omnipotence are irresistible. All the earth will fear God. His saints do fear Him (Psalm 34:9). Sinners will fear Him at the White Throne Judgment and throughout eternity (Revelation 6: 14-17; 20:11-15.
Demons tremble and fear now in anticipation of coming judgment; sinners, demons and Satan will “fear God” throughout eternity, while suffering torments in hell fire (James 2: 19; Matthew 8: 29). “Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and ye perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him” (Psalm 2: 10-12).
The exhortation in this decree is “fear the living God.” This exhortation is not only found here, but it is in several other texts of the Scripture. It is expressed and pressed upon us both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament (Exodus 20: 20; Deuteronomy 10: 12; Joshua 24:14; 1 Samuel 12: 24; Psalm 33: 8; Proverbs 3:7; Ecclesiastes 12: 13; Luke 12:4,5; Romans 11:20; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Ephesians 5:21; Colossians 3:22-24; Hebrews 12:28; Revelation 14: 6,7). We should not confuse the exhortation to “fear God” with the passages of encouragement that command us to, “fear not.” Those passages of scripture assure us of God’s presence, provision, and protections. They exhort us not to fear men, enemies, circumstances, trials, things present or things to come in the future.
As God’s children, we do not have slavish fear or tormenting fear towards God, but we have godly fear, reverential fear, filial fear. It is such filial fear – the fear of a son or a daughter for the father – that makes us to hate what God hates and love what He loves. It makes us to permanently depart from evil and iniquity. “A son honoureth his father, and a Servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? And if I be a master, where is my fear? Saith the LORD of hosts unto you” (Malachi 1:6).
Further Reading (King James Version): Daniel 6: 25,26; Deuteronomy 4:7-10; 6:24,25; 13:4-11; 31:12,13; Joshua 4: 24; 24:14; 2 Chronicles 19:6,7,9; Luke 12:4,5; Revelation 14: 6,7; 1 Timothy 1: 17; Deuteronomy 5:29; 10: 12, 13, 20; Malachi 1:6; 2:5-7.