NIV Daniel 4:35 especially: All the peoples of the earth are regarded AS NOTHING. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: "What have you done?" What about other Scriptures that say that God values and loves people (John 3:16, etc.)?
Daniel 4:34 - 37
ESV - 34 At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation. 35 All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, "What have you done?
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I would say that the word "nothing" in the cited verse is not being used in an absolute sense, but in a comparative sense. The cited passage is addressing the issue of whether anything can impede God in the accomplishment of His will and purposes. In that sense, any obstacle (no matter how formidable it may be absolutely -- that is, by its intrinsic nature) is comparatively nothing, since God is infinitely greater than any such obstacle (whatever it may be, including any or all efforts by human beings) and can overcome it. However, the Bible is equally clear (in verses such as John 3:16, as also noted in the question) that God assigns an infinite worth to each and every human being to the point of being willing to sacrifice His one and only Son so that that person (as if he or she were the only individual who had ever lived) would be able to spend eternity in His presence through faith in that sacrifice. (However, at the same time, He respects human free will so much that He will not force or compel any human to exercise that saving faith. It must be a free, voluntary choice.)
Yes, compared to God who is everything, we are nothing. Think of how vast this universe is! See the hymn at the very bottom of my answer, based on this verse in Daniel: I cite Gill's long sentence from Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible: And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing,.... That is, by the most high God, in comparison of him; and that not only the common people, but magistrates, princes, and kings, and even so great a monarch as Nebuchadnezzar; they are like mere nonentities, nothing as to existence, substance, greatness, glory, and duration, when compared with him: for this is to be understood not absolutely as in themselves; for as such they are something; their bodies are something in their original, and especially in their make, form, and constitution, and even in their dissolution; and their souls are yet more valuable, are of more worth than the whole world, being immaterial and immortal; but comparatively with respect to God, in whom they live, and move, and have that being they have, and by whom they are supported in it; al whose glory and grandeur is fading and passing away, and continuance is but very short; and all nothing with God, the Being of beings, whose glory is inconceivable, and with whom a thousand years are as one day, and who is from everlasting to everlasting: and this meant chiefly of the rational inhabitants of the earth; not of the beasts of the field, the cattle on a thousand hills, and the innumerable reptiles of the earth, which also are the inhabitants of it; but of men, the principal ones, and of all of these, high and low, rich and poor, bond and free; not as in their own account, and that of others; for they are something in their own esteem, and seem so in the eyes of others, who judge according to the outward appearance; but they are nothing in the account of God: and as this is true of them in things natural and civil, it is much more so in things spiritual, or relating to everlasting salvation: in these men are nothing, and counted as nothing; no use is made of them, or any account is had of anything done by them; these have no causal influence in their salvation; they are nothing in God's choice of them to eternal life, which is all of mere sovereign grace; nothing in redemption, which is only by Jesus Christ; nothing in regeneration, which is alone by the Spirit and grace of God; nothing in justification, which is not by the works of the law, but by the righteousness of Christ-- [I believe Gill is referring to Galatians 2:16 here, New King James Version: "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified."] In short, they are nothing in their salvation from first to last, which is all of grace, and not of works. Jarchi and Saadiah interpret this of an atom or mote in a sunbeam, which is seen flying about, but cannot be laid hold on, having no substance, and disappears when the sun shines not; see Isaiah 40:15. New International Version: "Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust." Yes, compared to God who is everything, we are nothing. Think of how vast this universe is! See the hymn based on this verse in Daniel: All earth’s many peoples You regard as nothing. You do as You please in Heaven and on earth below. None can overpower You; none can hold Your hand back. None dares to ask You why You acted so. --Susan H. Peterson
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