Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones helps us to see the folly of kingdoms built with man at the center:
This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:27-29 ESV)
Think of a great kingdom like the kingdom of Babylon. That was an amazing kingdom, great wealth; great power, great armies and they conquered practically every country and at the head of this great kingdom of Babylon there was a man called Nebuchadnezzar. And he was such a conqueror, such a military genius, that he began to think that he was almost a god. And the people agreed with him. And he set up a great image to himself and commanded his people to bow down and worship. He really believed he was a semi-god if not a god. He had built this great kingdom, you see. But according to the Bible – and this is sheer history – it was not a kingdom that was going to last for ever, as he thought. It began to shake and we are given an account of this mighty dictator in a field one day and his nails had grown into talons and his hair was as long as the hairs of an animal and he was eating grass in a field-humbled by God. This man who had inflated himself to heaven – humbled, his kingdom shaken.
And quite soon it was conquered by another mighty kingdom that came along, called the Medo-Persian kingdom. Now this is biblical and secular history. The Medo-Persian kingdom came along and this again was a mighty kingdom, conquered Babylon, conquered others and it seemed to be invincible and everlasting and people were beginning to worship it.
It did not last very long. Another kingdom came along, the kingdom of Greece and this was an amazing kingdom. The head of this kingdom was a man whom we still know as Alexander the Great and he was of course one of the greatest military geniuses that the world has ever known. He conquered everywhere, conquered Egypt, built Alexandria, named after him; he conquered all the then known and civilized world and he set up this kingdom that really did seem to be indestructible and invincible, great in every respect. But do you know what happened? While he was yet in the thirties, he died and his kingdom was destroyed and divided up. . . .
But why do they collapse? … The certainty you see with all these kingdoms is that they are made. ‘And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made,’ These are man-made kingdoms and the tragedy of man is that he is too small to be a kingdom builder. Man is finite, he is limited, and he is small. This is the final folly of man that he thinks he knows everything. . . .
Yes, but even worse than that, according to the Bible, man is not only finite, man is also sinful – and this is what bedevils all his great efforts. Every one of us is sinful. What does that mean? It means that we are selfish. it means that we are self-centered. It means that we are subjects of jealousy and envy and malice and spite and hatred. We want things for ourselves – let the other man get on with it. . . . You cannot trust anybody. You may think that you have got a man who will fight with you to the end – he will desert you at the very moment that you need him most of all. He is a false friend, he lets you down. You see it in the political parties and everywhere else, they all seem to be carrying a dagger in their hip pockets and they are attacking one another. No man trusts anybody, why? We are all sinners, we are all selfish, and we are in no condition to build empires.
But the Bible gives a third and a crowning reason for all this failure and it is this: that God blows upon it. We are living in a universe that we have not made; it is made by God. And God will not give His glory to another. . . . ‘The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold down the truth in unrighteousness’ [Romans 1:18]. It is the law and history proves it. Whatever man may do; whatever he may strive to do – it all is shaken and it collapses and disappears. And of course not only is it the Bible that says this, the really great thinkers of every century have seen this and seen it quite clearly. (“A Kingdom Which Cannot be Shaken”)
Filed under: Bible, Christianity, Culture, Evil, God, History, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Reformed Christian Topics, sin, Theology Tagged: | Alexander the Great, Babylon, English Standard Version, Greece, Nebuchadnezzar II