Theology of History

Both Revelation and Daniel proclaim the absolute sovereignty of God over the course of History, nations, and rulersIn the thirteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation, the “Beast from the Sea” is “GIVEN” authority over the “Inhabitants of the Earth” and the right to “wage war against the saints and to overcome them.” Satan’s imperial creature cannot wreak havoc against the Body of Christ until he is authorized to do so, and only for the time allotted, namely, the specified “Short Season.”

This pattern repeats in the Book. Jesus is the “Ruler of the Kings of the Earth,” the one who possesses the “Keys of Death and Hades.” Consequently, he now reigns over the Cosmos and has “all authority.” His power is limitless and absolute – (Revelation 1:4-6, 1:18-19 3:21, 5:11-14).

History - Photo by Giammarco Boscaro on Unsplash
[Photo by Giammarco Boscaro on Unsplash]

is not concerned with teaching an abstract doctrine of the “sovereignty of God.” Instead, Christ’s authority over events serves to assure his beleaguered congregations that he remains in firm control of History, and, in the end, his Kingdom will triumph over all opposition.

Persecution and suffering may be necessary to achieve his purposes, but he will not allow the enemies of the Seven Assemblies of Asia to exceed certain limits. Try as hard as he might, the “Dragon” is unable to succeed in his efforts to annihilate the “saints.”


The Book of Revelation is not unique in this perspective. Some of the phrases it uses are derived from the Book of Daniel. For example, the Prophet Daniel wrote that the “Lord GAVE the king of Judah and the vessels of the Temple” into the hand of “Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon,” the very ruler who later destroyed the Temple, the city of Jerusalem, and the kingdom of Judah - (Daniel 1:1-2).

In the first chapter of Daniel, the Hebrew verb rendered “gave” is applied repeatedly. Thus, God gave Daniel “favor and sympathy with the prince of the eunuchs,” and He gave him and his Jewish companions “knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom.” Furthermore, Daniel was “given” an understanding of “all visions and dreams.”

When God granted Daniel the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of a great image with a golden head, he blessed the “most-high God” who “changes times and seasons, He REMOVES KINGS AND SETS UP KINGS.”

In the dream’s interpretation, Daniel presented the future rise and fall of great empires, beginning with Babylon and ending with the Kingdom of God. In response, the ruler of the Babylonian Empire acknowledged that Daniel’s God was and is the “God of gods, Lord of kings and the revealer of mysteries,” and he acknowledged Yahweh as Sovereign over the Earth – (Daniel 2:20-49).

In Chapter 4, Nebuchadnezzar again recognized the sovereignty of Yahweh over History and kingdoms. God removed him from power for “seven seasons,” and then restored him to the throne. In the process, the king learned that “the Most-High rules in the kingdom of men, and GIVES it to whomever He will, and He sets up over it even the lowest of men.” After his restoration, the king declared to one and all:

  • I praise and honor the One whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation. Before Him, all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and according to his own pleasure, He deals with the Host of Heaven and the inhabitants of the earth.”

History remembers Nebuchadnezzar as a great builder of magnificent buildings and a successful conqueror. Scripture remembers him as an unwitting instrument used by God to achieve His purposes for His people despite the king’s arrogance and presumptuous acts.


On the final evening before the fall of Babylon, its last ruler, Belshazzar, saw a frightful sight when a disembodied hand wrote strange letters on the wall. Summoned, Daniel interpreted the writing. God had found Belshazzar wanting and declared, “Your kingdom is divided and GIVEN to the Medes and Persians,” and the very next day, “Darius the Mede took the kingdom” - (Daniel 5:22-31).

Once more, the sovereignty of the God of Israel was on display as the World Empire was transferred from Babylon to the “Medes and the Persians.”

Later, after God rescued Daniel from the den of lions, Darius the Mede decreed that “all the peoples, nations, and tongues that dwell on the earth” must revere the “God of Daniel His kingdom shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end.”

Thus, the new ruler of the province of Babylon publicly acknowledged the absolute sovereignty of Yahweh, just as Nebuchadnezzar did previously - (Daniel 6:25-28).

In such ways, the Book of Daniel presents the reign of God over the course of history. The plans, intentions, and dictates of even the most powerful rulers cannot thwart His purposes. He uses their designs and even evil machinations to accomplish His purposes.

This is what I mean by the title, “Theology of History.” God reigns over History and His creation. This is NOT fatalism, and it does not mean that He predetermines every event that transpires in life. It certainly does not mean that He approves of everything that occurs.

However, since He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and infinitely merciful, He works in and through human history for the sake of His children, and He brings events to His intended conclusions. Evil and tragedy often result from the intentions and actions of men and women, but the “Most High God” even uses their nefarious plans to accomplish His will.

This very same view is reflected in the visions and language of the Book of Revelation, only now, sovereignty is in the hands of the sacrificial “Lamb” who reigns from the Throne of God. He employs his authority to “shepherd the nations,” but in the most unexpected and paradoxical ways.