This Present Evil, and Our Prayer

We are looking at a recorded prayer of Daniel today. Daniel is confessing the sins of his people, his nation while they are held captive in Babylon. He has read the prophet Jeremiah (Daniel 9:2), and saw the great need for the repentance of the people. The place to begin repentance is with myself.

Hear the heart of Daniel and read through chapter nine, but for this post hear the heart of the man:

“As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand Thy truth. Therefore hath the LORD watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the LORD our God is righteous in all His works which He doeth: for we obeyed not His voice. And now, O Lord our God, that hast brought Thy people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and hast gotten Thee renown, as at this day; we have sinned, we have done wickedly.” Daniel 9:13-15 (KJV)

Daniel sees that the LORD is righteous, and that He watches over us even when evil is prevailing; so that the evil that is upon His people might work to make His people a holy, and righteous people.

One of the things that seems apparent to me is that evil is its own destruction. Evil never triumphs at anything. Evil causes fear in the hearts of people, and God’s people too. Evil causes us to move away from God, then it is brought to destruction; and the people of God return to Him.

We must confess our sin; for we have sinned. We must ask for forgiveness from God. If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

Through the cross, the shed blood of Jesus Christ, His burial, and bodily resurrection there is forgiveness, and everlasting life in the presence of the Lord our God.

One Who Knows Your Secrets

Do you have any secrets? Secrets that only you know, and you have shared with no one else; not even your husband, wife, friend, or any relative? Guess what. There is One who knows them. Whether you believe it or not there is One who knows your thoughts, your dreams, your wants and desires. He knows what you are thinking right now.

The LORD God knows every secret that men and women have ever had.

For our passage of Scripture today we need to back up a bit, and see what is happening. Nebuchadnezzar has had a dream, but cannot remember what it was. He has asked for his “wise men”, “soothsayers”, “astrologers”, and “magicians” to tell him his dream, and its interpretation. They knew that was too much of a challenge. They knew it was an impossible task; and never even attempted to tell the king his dream. Because of their lack of power in telling Nebuchadnezzar his dream, and its interpretation the king threatens them with death.

Daniel ask one Arioch for some time to pray, and seek God for the answer. Daniel does and now stands before the king with these words:

“But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed, are these; as for thee, O king, thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy bed, what should come to pass hereafter: and He that revealeth secrets maketh known to thee what shall come to pass. But as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living, but for their sakes that shall make known the interpretation to the king, and that thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart.” Daniel 2:28-30 (KJV)

It should comfort the Christian to know that God knows the thoughts and minds of every king, president, judge, every despot, and dictator on the earth. He knew the thoughts and mind of Hitler, Pilate, Herod, the current leaders of the world, our President of the U. S. of A., and He knows your heart, mind and thoughts, your secrets as well.

It does not bother me that our government can spy on us; that there are security cameras every where you turn. I know there is some one bigger than our government; and He has His eye on them. He knows every wicked thought, deed, and desire that we all have. One day there will be a judgment, and all will give an accounting of their lives – including their vain, wicked thoughts.

“There is a God in heaven” who reveals secrets. God used a wicked and vile king to reveal secrets for the future of the world. The dream speaks mainly of the end of the Gentile rule on earth.

We do not know when that will come. It will come, because God has said it. The best way to be prepared for it is through believing the One who bled and died on the cross, was buried, and bodily arose from the grave. He is the One who said, “I will come again and receive you unto Myself…” (John 14:3); His name is Jesus the Christ.

God Given Knowledge and Skill in Learning and Wisdom

Whether we Christians would like to admit it or not we are strangers in a foreign land. That does not matter what part of the world we live in. We are both citizens and captives in our respective countries, and lands.

We are citizens of nations, because we are in the world. We are captives because we are in the world, but not of the world (1 John 2:15-16; 4:4). How is the Christian to live in a world of sin and darkness? As servants of Christ Jesus; as the light of Christ.

Please note these verses from Daniel:

“As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. Now at the end of the days that the king had said he should bring them in, then the prince of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king. And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king enquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.” Daniel 1:17-20 (KJV)

Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were young people who had been taken captive from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. How were young men to live in a foreign land, and how were they to behave in a land that despised everything they had stood for before?

In the previous verses Daniel and his friends had challenged the drinking and eating of the young captives. They had shown that they were brighter, more intelligent, and wise in their youth because they were of God.

What is said of them in the verses above is due to the fact that they were a work of God. Nothing that Babylon or the world had contributed to them.

Christian, you are a captive in a foreign land. You are also useful to God in the land as the Light of Jesus Christ. Stand for Him. Stand on His promises, and the whole counsel of His Word.

Weeping in Babylon

“By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.” Psalm 137:1 (KJV)

A Psalm of Israel’s captivity.  This Psalm could have been penned down by the prophet Daniel as he sat on the banks of Babylon’s rivers.

Everyone reading this has been homesick at one time or another.  Home is where you want to return.  Especially when you are forcibly taken away.

Taken to Babylon due to the evil that had invaded Israel and Judah; all the people were paying the price of the sins of the nation.  Thus it is, and thus it will be.

For the Jew Zion is home.  For the Christian “Zion” is the place where Christ dwells.  He dwells within us.  He lives.  He reigns.  He ultimately lives seated at the Father’s right hand; and we long for that day when we can see Him face to face.

Do we weep for that day as we remember the joys that await us?  Are we longing for that day when will be in His bodily presence; worshipping, bowing before Him, adoring Him?  There is a crown awaiting all who love His appearing (2 Timothy 4:8).

I do not know about you but I am homesick.

Day 36 – Thoughts from Psalms

With my reading yesterday I ventured into the first nine Psalms.  First, let me clear some things up. When we speak of the “Book of Psalms” it is used in the plural.  If we speak of one Psalm it is “Psalm”.  Such as Psalm 1, Psalm 50,  you get the idea.  Psalms has no chapters, they are referred to as Psalms.  There are 150 Psalms in this great Bible Hymnbook.

The Psalms are written by a few different men.  David is the most noted one; then there is Moses who could have  written Psalms 90 – 100; he is noted as having written Psalm 90.  There is a possibility that Daniel wrote Psalm 137, or at least someone who had been taken captive to Babylon.  There is also a fellow by the name of Asaph who wrote some of the Psalms.

The longest Psalm is 119 having 176 verse; and the shortest Psalm is 117 having only 2 verses.

Of course it makes no difference who the human author is; they are here by the inspiration of God; and they are both a corrective instrument of God as well as words of encouragement to all who read them.  It would be great to have heard them sung from the mouths and hearts of those who wrote them.

My reading today was from Psalms 10 – 23.  I am going to rest at Psalm 19 for this post today.

“The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.    The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.  The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.   More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.   Moreover by them is Thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.”  Psalm 19:7-11 (KJV)

This Psalm of course, especially in these verses magnify the Law and Word of God.  Notice the words used to convey to us the emphasis of God’s Word.  “Law of the LORD”,  “testimony of the LORD”, “statutes of the LORD”,  “commandments of the LORD”, “fear of the LORD”, and “judgments of the LORD”.  Perfection is the word used by the psalmist speaking of the power to convert.  Its “testimony” makes the simple wise.  Its “statutes” are right and rejoices the heart.  The commandment is “pure” “enlightening the eyes”.  “The fear of the LORD is clean”, and endures forever.  His “judgments”  are true and righteous, and that makes me think of 2 Peter 1:20,

“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” Included verse 21.

The Word of God is more important for the Christian and their daily walk with God than are three meals of food per day, which is good for the body we abide in.

You will notice too, that the one who walks with God will find that the Word of God is desired more than gold, even the finest gold.  It is sweeter than honey and the honeycomb; now that is sweet, and it is for the soul who is in a just state with God.  It can become bitter to the soul who is not righteous in God’s sight.  There is also warning for the “servant” of God; and there is “great reward” for those who keep His Word.

Jesus Christ Son of the Living God said,

“Jesus answered and said unto them, ‘This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.'” John 6:29

The One whom God has sent is, of course His Son Jesus Christ, and He came to die for your sins and mine.  He died on the cross, was buried taking our sin’s guilt, and condemnation away, and arose bodily from the grave justifying those who believe Him, by the Father in Heaven.

Believe the Word of God for they are what testifies of Jesus.

-Tim A. Blankenship

A Time To Pray

Scripture tells us that Daniel prayed three times a day, even after the king had written an edict of death to anyone who was caught praying to anyone but the king (Daniel 6).  Paul the apostle tells Christians to “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).  The Psalmist sang,

“Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and He shall hear my voice.”  Psalm 55:17

For the soul who was under the dictates of the law, they had morning and evening sacrifices, and that was a good time to pray.  Daniel seems to have had a special one; so too the Psalmist.  They loved to speak with the LORD; and Daniel loved to do so even if it meant certain death.  Do we pray as we ought?  I ask that question knowing that is one of my weakest areas.  I love to hear God speak, and He does through His word; however, He loves for His children to speak with Him.

The following is Spurgeon’s comments of verse 17 –

“Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray.” Often, but none too often. Seasons of great need call for frequent seasons of devotion. The three periods chosen are most fitting; to begin, continue, and end the day with God is supreme wisdom. Where time has naturally set up a boundary, there let us set up an altar-stone. The Psalmist means that he will always pray; he will run a line of prayer right along the day and track the sun with his petitions. Day and night he saw his enemies busy (Psa 55:10), and therefore he would meet their activity by continuous prayer. “And cry aloud.” He would give a tongue to his complaint; he would be very earnest in his pleas with heaven. Some cry aloud who never say a word. It is the bell of the heart that rings loudest in heaven. Some read it, “I will muse and murmur;” deep heart-thoughts should be attended with inarticulate but vehement utterances of grief. Blessed be God, moaning is translatable in heaven. A father’s heart reads a child’s heart. “And he shall hear my voice.” He is confident that he will prevail; he makes no question that he would be heard, he speaks as if already he were answered. When our window is opened towards heaven, the windows of heaven are open to us. Have but a pleading heart and God will have a plenteous hand.  From the TREASURY OF DAVID

With the spiritual condition of the churches of the United States and Christianity Christians need to humble themselves before God and get back to our dependence upon God our Savior, Redeemer, Friend and Deliverer.  Let’s commit ourselves to more time with God.  God will hear our voices and cries when we are humble before Him, and repentant of our sins.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Keep Your Eyes Open – Watch

“But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains: 15 And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house: 16 And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment. 17 But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! 18 And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter. 19 For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be. 20 And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect’s sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days. 21 And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not: 22 For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. 23 But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.” Mark 13:14-23 (KJV)

KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN – WATCH

Daniel speaks of this in his prophecies (Daniel 9:27;  11:31).  Daniel’s prophecy was fulfilled partly in Antiochus Epiphanes in the second century B.C. when he sacrificed a pig on the temple altar.  That was before Jesus was born, so this prophecy must be of another day.  The destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. did not involve an “Abomination of Desolation”.  Since Jesus was speaking of a future day, there must be a future one yet to come.  Daniel’s prophecy covered both events – that of Antiochus Epiphanes and the yet future “Antichrist”.

When this final one appears it will be following a time of peace – three and one half years – then this “Judas” will set himself up as God on the throne in Jerusalem and demand the worship of the Hebrews (2 Thes. 2:1-4).  At this time Jesus tells these people to “…Flee to the mountains”, and “…not go back to get his clothes…”.  He tells that it will be a time of great sorrow, unlike anything known to mankind (v. 19).  This will be a time when material possessions will not matter for protection, security, or safety.

Fleeing from the evil one to live in the hills, woods, and caves will be far better.  However, those of us who are presently “in Christ Jesus” do not need to fear this dark time – “we are not of the darkness” but of the light (1 Thessalonians 5:4-5).  We will be removed from the earth in order that God might deal with His people the Hebrews, and call them back to Himself.  Jeremiah the prophet calls this “…the time of Jacob’s trouble…” (Jeremiah 30:7).

Salvation is of our Lord.  Jesus Christ died for our sins; on the cross; was buried, and rose again.  He promised to come again and receive us unto Himself.  Call on the name of the Lord and you too will be saved from your sins and the wrath to come.

The “Elect” (v. 20) must surely refer to the nation of Israel, and/or those who have received Jesus as their Savior during this time.  There will be “False christ’s”, and “false prophets” who will be able to do mysterious deeds, and wonders and try to deceive the populace, and even, “If possible, even the elect.”  It will be a time for them that they must have their senses sharpened, and their eyes wide open.  Of course that is a good thought for all of us in our day.

Christian; Keep Your Eyes Open – Watch.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Daniel 2:24-49

GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU…
1 Peter 5:7

…In The Rule, And Fall Of The Kingdom’s Of Men

Daniel 2:24-49

purpose – To show the peril and fallacious thinking in putting confidence in the rule of man; and the wisdom in putting your confidence in God and the rule of God.

“The reason we have democracy is because we don’t have righteous-rule monarchy. We need some kind of checks and balances, which is why our government is established as it is.” Dr. David Jeremiah THE HANDWRITING ON THE WALL pg. 62.

The following  is a quote from Professor Alexander Tyler which he wrote concerning the fall of the Athenian republic which fell over a thousand years ago. He said,

“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasure. From that moment on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most money from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s great civilizations has been two hundred years. These nations have progressed through the following sequence: from bondage to spiritual faith to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependency, from dependency back to bondage.” IBID. pg. 62.

One of the things we can see from the dream of Nebuchadnezzar and its interpretation is that man’s kingdoms are not eternal, they will fall; and that those who believe God and live for Him are promised a future eternal kingdom.  God’s King will overthrow the kingdoms of this world.  Now, for those who are “inhabiters of this world”, ie., those who love this world; they will be angry at our King, however,  their anger will go to naught.

INTRODUCTORY OUTLINE –

I.  DANIEL WAS A MAN WITH A HEART FOR OTHERS, AND A HEART FOR GOD (vv. 24-30).
II.  DANIEL WAS THE REVEALER GOD CHOSE TO REVEAL THE SECRETS OF THE KINGS MIND (vv. 31-35).
III.  DANIEL WAS GIVEN THE SECRET OF THE DREAMS INTERPRETATION (vv. 36-45).
IV.  DANIEL WAS THOUGHTFUL OF HIS FRIENDS AND WAS REWARDED (vv. 46-49).

During the rule and fall of the kingdom’s of men we must follow the heart of our Savior and Lord.  It was also the heart of Daniel.

I.  AS CHRISTIANS WE HAVE THE ANSWER FOR MANKIND’S PROBLEMS; WE MUST  BE LOVING TOWARD OTHERS (vv. 24-30).
The answer to governments who rule, and don’t rule well is Jesus Christ.  The answer for an empty bank account, is to trust the Lord.  These answers may not put food on the table or money in the bank, but it is the answer to peace of mind and heart.  Jesus saving the soul of troubled people changes the minds and hearts of government, eventually, Jesus will rule and reign on the earth.  Peace of mind, and especially “peace with God” is the greatest thing in this world to possess.

Do we sincerely believe that Jesus is the means of mankind’s salvation?  Do we sincerely believe that He [Jesus Christ] died on a cross, was buried, and three days later came out of that grave alive?  Christian, if you sincerely believe that then we need to be sharing that message.  Daniel had the answer for the king, but when he received the answer his immediate response wasn’t to run in declaring, “I have the interpretation.  I know the dream and its interpretation.”   His immediate response was for the lives of the “wise men”.  We live under the governments of men; which at any time could turn on its people and declare anything unlawful, and with a mad ruler could declare “Christians are unfit to live.  We declare it just and legal to kill anyone who calls themselves ‘Christian'”.  Let’s pray that doesn’t happen; but it could.

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved”  Acts 4:12 (KJV)

When Arioch hears of Daniel’s revelation he immediately tells the king, “I have found a man…”.  It seems as though he is trying to assume at least part of the responsiblity for discovering the secret.  I guess we all want some approval for what we do.

As Daniel we to should not take credit for what God has done.  We must give Him the glory for the answer for our hearts problems, and fears, and declare along with Daniel, “There is a God in heaven…”, and this is as opposed to statues, cash, bank accounts, health care, investments, bonds, any material possession; even family; which are temporary.  There is a God in heaven who has made all things, holds them together, and saves His prized creation from the death brought on by our sin.

We cannot avoid the issue of the “Latter days”.  What days is Daniel speaking of.  It seems that those latter days which the Old Testament speaks of is those days which referr to the coming of Jesus Christ; and beginning with His first coming where He died for our sins and rose from the dead, until the time He returns and sets up His kingdom upon earth; ruling and reigning from Jerusalem.  We are in those latter days.  If people don’t know Jesus Christ trusting Him for their eternity and life, then, they will be part of those who are crushed by the “stone cut out without hands”.

II.  WHEN UNGODLY RULERS SEE THE GREAT IMAGE, CHRISTIANS SEE THE GREAT MOUNTAIN (vv. 31-45).

“For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.”  Habakkuk 2:14 (KJV)

When Nebuchadnezzar had dreamed of this great image, which may be the inspiration for the design of the image he erects in his own honor in chapter three; we find that Daniel sees these things as “Beasts” in chapter seven when he begins to dream of these things.  We will cover this more when we get to chapter seven, however, the beasts which Daniel sees are devouring beasts, and that is how governments of men behave.  Not only do they devour people, but they devour people’s goods and gold.  Ruling men often see their empires as “great images” to pattern others by; God sees them as devouring beasts.

Rulers often see their kingdoms brightly arrayed, and glorious; and Daniel was respectful.  Nebuchadnezzar was a proud man, and “pride goes before destruction”.  How long will it take for wicked rulers to realize that their kingdoms cannot defeat the power and authority of God?  Only until Jesus comes again and defeats wicked men’s hearts will they continue on their slippery slope to destruction.

You will notice in the interpretation of the dream that the metals become less and less precious; less and less valuable.  The most valuable being gold down to the feet which are “iron mixed with clay”.  The kingdoms become more and more inferior.  John Calvin in his commentary of Daniel writing of the kings following writes,

“We see then that his kingdom is not called inferior through having less splendour or opulence in human estimation, but because the general condition of the world was worse under the second monarchy, as men’s vices and corruptions increase more and more.”  John Calvin Commentary pg. 173 Daniel 2:39

If this be the case and I believe that it is then, how far have we slid since then?  Kings and kingdoms seem even more set on setting themselves over all men and over all the earth and over God’s Word and will.

In the dream Nebuchadnezzar saw an image with a head of gold; arms and chest of silver; belly and thighs of brass [bronze]; legs of iron; and feet of iron mixed with clay.  These are representative of five nations which succeed one from the other, having great power, but deteriorating in moral strength and character.  The head of gold is representative of Babylon and Nebuchadnezzar; the arms and chest of silver represent the Medo-Persian empire; the belly and thighs of brass represent Greece; the legs of iron represent Rome; and the feet of iron and clay represent the future  new world order.

It is a wonderful and gracious thing to have the assurance, that all the kingdoms of this world are under the authoritative hand of Almighty God.  The world and her “rulers” may see an “great and awesome” image, but in the eyes of the Almighty they are devouring beasts.  Sounds like Jesus’s description of the “thief”,

“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”  John 10:10 (KJV)

The Psalmist tells us where we are not to put our trust; and that is in the princes of this world; including the “prince of darkness”,

“Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.”  Psalms 146:3 (KJV)

There is no help in man or beasts.  Our help and our hope is in the Lord God Almighty.

III.  THERE IS REWARD AWAITING THE FAITHFUL CHRISTIAN IN THE KINGDOM OF JESUS CHRIST (vv. 46-49).
Jesus said, “Great is your reward in heaven” when referring to the blessed who are persecuted in Matthew 5:12.  There are other places He mentions reward; having “their own reward”, or not receiving “reward” because it was already received.  (See Matthew 5:46; 6:1-18;  10:41-42; 16:27).  God will always honor faithfulness to Himself and His Word.  He has promised rewards to the faitful.  The greatest reward is not escaping hell, death, punishment; not walking on “streets of gold” or through “gates of pearl”, or living in a “mansion” in heaven;  the greatest reward will be beholding the face of our Lord who bled, died, was buried, and rose again that we might be saved.

There is nothing wrong with expecting reward for faithfulness in ministry.  It is wrong if that is the only reason, or the main reason for doing the ministry.  The main reason for serving the Lord in ministry is loving Him, and giving the opportunity to others to love Him.  Remember we can only love Him, because He first loved us;

“We love Him, because He first loved us” 1 John 4:19.

Loving Him can stand alone; even with no other reward; because we cannot love Him, except we first realize His great love for us in dying on the cross for our sin, being buried, then rising again from the grave paying the debt that was ours to pay.

God loves you and me enough to send the very best; His Son.  He loves you so much to save us as we are; He loves us too much to leave us the way we are.

There is fear and dread in the rule of the kings and kingdom’s of men.  However, there is peace in knowing that God rules in the political, economical, social, and national affairs of kings.  The King of all kings reigns supremely.

application –

i.  Christians love others through Christ Jesus, and stand for their rights and their lives.
ii.  Christians are committed to the King of kings, and will loyally serve the kings of earth, in Christ.
iii.  Christians serve the Lord; the King of kings; because of love for Him, and are expecting the rewards He has promised.
iv.  Christians, by faith, know and believe that all things are in the hands of the Almighty God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Daniel 2:1-23

GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU…
1 Peter 5:7

…When The Challenge Seems Impossible

Daniel 2:1-23

purpose – To display the need for Christians to be sober, courageous, and bold enough to seek the Lord’s guidance, and information from Him in difficult situations and circumstances.

In this the second chapter of Daniel we find that Nebuchadnezzar is a man of troubled dreams.  What we will find later, by the power of God, through the prophet Daniel is that this is a dream related to the history of the Gentile nations throughout human history from Nebuchadnezzar until the appearing of Jesus Christ as King of kings and Lord of lord.

In this first message from chapter two we will see an enormous requirement put on the “wisemen” of Babylon.  It is so impossible it leads the Chaldeans to respond that no one can give the dream, “…except the gods”.  The enormous task was that, before they could interpret his dream they had to first, tell him his dream, and then he would know they were being truthful about its interpretation.  Pretty smart of the king; at least I think so.

INTRODUCTION OUTLINE –

I.  THE KING IS TROUBLED BY DREAMS (v. 1).
II.  THE KING ASK FOR THE “WISEMEN” TO TELL HIM HIS DREAM THAT HE HAD DREAMED (vv. 2-9).
III.  THE KING SENDS OUT A DECREE TO KILL ALL THE ‘WISEMEN’ (vv. 10-13).
IV.  THE MAN OF GOD (DANIEL) SEEKS THE KINGS DELAY WHILE HE AND OTHERS PRAY (vv. 14-18).
V.  GOD REVEALS THE DREAM AND ITS INTERPRETATION TO DANIEL (vv. 19-23).

I.  TROUBLING DREAMS, FEARING WHAT MAY BE AHEAD (v. 1).
With a world in economic, political, and moral failure there are many who are having troubling dreams, even fearing what may lie ahead.  Many of us may have dreams while sleeping that we don’t even remember, and some we do, however, Nebuchadnezzar was troubled by his dream.  His dream was one that God had given him.

There should be no trouble in understanding the meaning of “the second year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign”, and the three years of training for the Hebrew children; as it is possible to have three years involved in two years of reign.  In some reckonings of time a part of a year is counted as a year.  In school years of out time we have one school year taking place in two parts of different years.  You have a school year beginning in August 2009, ending in May 2010; another schoold year beginning in 2010 and ending in 2011; then, another school year beginning in 2011, and you have three years.  I think that is enough to give some understanding in this matter.

In the commentary by his name Matthew Henry writes of Nebuchadnezzar, “Nebuchadnezzar was a troubler of God’s Israel, but God here troubled him; for He that made the soul can make His sword to approach to it”  If there is ever a proof of the love of God it is or should be seen in the trials everyone endures; if indeed they endure them.  Maybe it should be said every trial we go through.  Can we not see the wondrous love of God?

In history we can learn from our mistakes; but looking ahead to trouble is only anguish.  Learning from history is great; if indeed we learn, and then don’t repeat the past.  Looking ahead in faith is not troubling, but peaceful.  When you know who holds tomorrow, and leave the outcome to the One who is in charge you will have peace with the past and the future.  No matter what dreams you dream.

“For in the multitude of dreams and many words there are also divers vanities: but fear thou God.”  Ecclesiastes 5:7 (KJV)

II.  WHEN THE SEEMING IMPOSSIBLE REQUIRES TRUSTWORTHY PEOPLE (vv. 2-13).
The supposed wisemen of Babylon were wise in the ways of the worship of demons; yet not knowing they worshipped demons (1 Corinthians 10:19-21).  Thus the wisdom of the world has no power but will be pulled down by the mighty power of  Almighty God.

The challenge which went out to the magicians, sorcerers, Chaldeans; and whatever else they were called was one they nor any other Gentile sorcerer had been asked before.  “Tell me my dream”.  Who can tell another man what they dreamed?  No man can.  Only the God of all creation; the God of the universe; the God of all the things; who holds the worlds in His hands.  Only He can tell a man what He has dreamed.

It is my belief that the king lies about not remembering the dream only to check out the response of the “wisemen”.  It is a thing of God to elevate His man to the position to bring glory to Himself.  The king is dependent still upon the old witchcraft, and demonism of the day; and God is preparing Him to hear from God, drawing the king to Himself.

Matthew Henry writes concerning the Chaldeans, The “…confession of the divine omniscience is here extorted from these idolaters, to the honour of God and their own condemnation, who though they knew there is a God in heaven, ‘to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secret is hid,’ yet offered up their prayers and praises to dumb idols, that ‘have eyes and see not, ears and hear not.”

The Chaldeans; which probably includes all these titles referred to in the text could not believe the king would ask such a thing and even confess “There is not a man upon the earth that can shew the king’s matter: therefore there is no king, lord, nor ruler, that asked such things at any magician, or astrologer, or Chaldean.  And it is a rare thing that the king requireth, and there is none other that can shew it before the king, except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.”  vv.10-11 (KJV).  The king is furious and he seeks to have all these people killed; and do away with any who are connected with this lying sect.

The king was angry with a “trusted” group of men who were being tested for their honesty, and not proving worthy of trust.  He understood that if anyone could tell him what he had dreamed they would actually be able to give him its true interpretation.  However, he was hasty in ordering the destruction of this sect of people.  He had either forgotten about Daniel and his friends or it didn’t really matter to him.

By this hasty decree the lives of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were threatened as well; but by the sovereign hand of God He worked and got the attention of the king; and the king gave Daniel time to consult with the King of kings.

“For, lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought, that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, The LORD, The God of hosts, is his name.”  Amos 4:13 (KJV)

“Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.”  Psalms 139:2 (KJV)

III.  THE TRUSTWORTHY ARE PEOPLE OF GOD AND ARE PRAYING PEOPLE, AND DEPEND ON ONE ANOTHERS BACKING (VV. 14-18).
It is certain that the Chaldeans were “praying” and “praising” in the wrong heart, the wrong way, and wrong place.  There is one correct way of worship; true worship; and that is through the Son of God, God become flesh, whose precious blood was shed for our salvation.  Daniel asked the king’s captain who was sent to kill them, “Why is the decree from the king so urgent?” (v. 15)  This is one example of “haste making waste”; because it would have been waste to kill Daniel and his friends; and it was a waste of the time already put into the effort.

Daniel shows character and goes directly before the king.  He asks the king for time to pray and seek the face and will of God concerning the king’s dream; and the king gives it.  Would to God that God’s people; Christians; of the day were so bold as to approach the king concerning the matters of life and death.  Concerning the matters of morality.  We must, however, have the integrity and character of Daniel, and his prayer life.

Just as Daniel did not approach this matter alone, but went to his friends; Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; and asked them to pray with him; so to must we realize that we must pray together. Daniel asks, “…that they might seek the mercies from the God of heaven concerning this secret”, knowing the message would be coming from Him.

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:6-7 (KJV)

One of the things we must learn from Daniel is the power of prayer.  Do you have something that may seem like a trite matter, a small matter in your heart yet it troubles you?  Then go to God in prayer, seeking His face and His will in the matter.  Another thing; get others to join you in praying about the matter.  Of course this was a life and death situation for Daniel, his friends and many others too.

In the time which we live with  the rapture of the church, and  the second coming of Christ drawing nearer with every minute we must be walking with God, praying, praying, and praying even more.  We must be praying for our walk with God to be ever closer; for the witness of Christians; for the life changing power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be proclaimed with the power and authority of God and His Word; and the drawing power of His Spirit to work gloriously.  We don’t need mushy stories, with heart breaking effort; we need Holy Spirit conviction convicting men and women and boys and girls of their sins to the point of repentance and belief in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross proven by the resurrection from the dead.

If we want to see the power of God to affect change in our life, church, community, State, and federal governments; then, we must pray, work and witness in the power of the Spirit depending on the Spirit to convict of sin and convince of the power of God to save.

IV.  GOD OF THE IMPOSSIBLE REVEALS HIS SECRETS TO THOSE WHO LOVE HIM (vv. 19-23)

“Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.”  Amos 3:7 (KJV)

The prophets of God knew that they knew nothing but what God revealed it to them.  There was and still is no message from God if He does not reveal it.  When God is silent His prophets are silent as well.  God was not silent in the days of Daniel.  He spoke through Daniel and His friends and He still speaks through them.  Do you hear Him?

The LORD  asked Jeremiah the prophet, “Is there anything too hard for Me?” Jeremiah 32:27 (KJV)  What seems impossible to the human eye is possible with God.  When the situation seems hopeless and all seems lost; God, the LORD, who holds the universe in His hands can do what we cannot do; “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20), and He will do it for His own glory; not any glory of any human or humanity.

God revealed the secret to Daniel.  It is not of man’s invention or intervention to tell other men their dreams.  In a world filled with those who want to tell you your future there is only One who can.  His name is Jehovah -YHWH.  He reveals Himself to us through His Word, the Bible, and through His Son Jesus Christ and His death, burial and resurrection.

“But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation.  Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens.  He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion.”  Jeremiah 10:10-12 (KJV)

Do you know the God of the impossible?  The One who knows your thoughts and dreams?  He does know you.  Four times in the gospels Jesus used the phrase, “all things are possible” twice “with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26;  Mark 10:27); and He uses it two other times, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.”  Mark 9:23 (KJV); and “Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.”  Mark 14:36 (KJV)

Magnify the LORD.  Lift up the name of the LORD.

Application –

i.  Know that the LORD is Lord of all dreams and knows your heart and your fears and dreads.
ii.  Believe the LORD when it seems as though the task, or challenge ahead of you seems impossible, and know that God takes care of you.
iii.  When you are having trouble pray and ask others to join you in prayer; know also that when your community or nation is in dire straits that prayer is a cry to God for His action.
iv.  Know that what lies ahead is revealed to us by God in His written Word through faith in His Living Word, and Holy Son Jesus Christ.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Daniel 1:17-21

…Giving What You Need For The Task

Daniel 1:17-21

Purpose –  To see and show that when God calls us to certain tasks; even as captives in a foreign land; He provides what we need for those tasks.

OUTLINE –

I.  GOD PROVIDED DANIEL, HANANIAH, MISHAEL, AND AZARIAH THE GIFTS THEY NEEDED FOR THE TASKS THEY HAD (v. 17).
II.  GOD PROVIDED THAT THE FOUR HEBREW BOYS FOUND FAVOR WITH THE KING (vv. 18-19).
III.  GOD EVEN PROVIDED THAT THE WISDOM AND KNOWLEDGE HE GAVE TO THEM EXCEEDED THAT OF THE OTHERS (v. 20).
IV.  THE TIME OF DANIEL’S SERVICE WAS REWARDED BY ALLOWING HIM TO SEE ISRAELITES RETURNING TO THE PROMISED LAND (.v. 21).

Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah had shown themselves faithful to the Lord’s commandments.  They had done so without causing too much of a rift within the court; and they had God’s approval and blessing.  When we honor God, by keeping His word, applying it to our lives on a daily basis, He will also honor us and bless us.  There is, however, no promise of that blessing being immediate; nor, should we be obedient, nor attempting to honor God because we know we will be blessed for it.
We honor and bless and obey the Lord and His Word because He is worthy; and we thank Him for the priviledge of such service.  By the blood of Jesus Christ we have the right to be called “The sons of God” (John 1:12).  It is still a service we thank Him for, because He gifts us for that purpose.

I.  AS GOD EQUIPPED THE FOUR HEBREW BOYS FOR THEIR TIME IN BABYLON; SO GOD HAS EQUIPPED THE CHURCH FOR THE DAYS IN WH ICH WE LIVE (v. 17).
The text we look at tells us that it was God who gave them “knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom:”, and we must acknowledge that it comes from no one else except the one who designed and continues to give good minds to those He will.  Even to the astonishment and dismay to the educational elite; God oft times speaks by confounding the “wise”

“But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;”1 Corinthians 1:27 (KJV).

We learn from this that it is God who gave Daniel the power of understanding dreams and visions.  This by itself qualifies Daniel as a prophet of God.

“And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.”  Numbers 12:6 (KJV)

These things which Daniel and His friends learned were not from the Chaldean educational system, nor the education they received.  There were many things they learned which were in grave error; and they knew it to be error.  They learned about astrology, and how it worked; they did not practice it.  Astrology – interpreting the astrological charts, and the zodiac was very familiar to the Babylonian citizens.

The child of God today; the Christian of today needs to be grounded and stable in the riches of the Word of God.  I want to stress that before I say what I’m going to say with some reservation.  You and I need first and foremost to study, hear, practice, and heed the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the whole counsel of God’s Word.  When we are able, then, it would be beneficial in some ways to learn about the deceptions and lies that permeate society; not practicing them in any fashion or form, but learning of them, to know where some of these people are coming from, and to know how to rebuke and rebut them.  Some Christians of our day frown on the though of rebuke or rebutting some other belief system or religion; however, if we are to be salt, light, and an influence in society, then we must correct in love those we see in error with Scripture.

We have also been equipped for service to God in the day in which we live.  The apostle Paul writes,

“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;  For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:  Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:  That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;  But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:”  Ephesians 4:11-15 (KJV)

The above gifting is basically dealing with church leaders, however, every Christian is responsible to use the gift God has given you.  Paul has also written,

“But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.”  1 Corinthians 12:18 (KJV)

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”  James 1:17 (KJV)

“For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.”  Romans 11:29 (KJV)

The gifts and calling of God are given to us for the benefit of the day in which you and I live.  We need to rejoice in the gifts of others without desiring their gift or gifts for ourselves.  Every Christian is gifted by God to do the work of ministry.

II.  IT IS GOD WHO BRINGS FAVOR BEFORE THE KINGS AND PRESIDENTS OF THE WORLD (vv. 18-19).
King Nebuchaddnezar was most likely educated in the ways of the “wise men” of Babylon, and could carry on quite a conversation with them, and all the ones who had been educated in the Babylonian institution of learning.  It was after the three years of training was over that the king had them all brought into him.  The king discovered four young men, possibly twenty years of age now; who “…among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah” (v.19).  These four were chosen to stand in the king’s presence.

Daniel and his friends had spent the past three years learning the ways of Babylon, and remained faithful to the LORD.  They were diligent in the task of living the life which God had given them; and they did it without complaint; and with praise. Even though they were in enemy territory God had given them peace without compromising their beliefs.  Solomon, the writer of Proverbs has written,

“When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.”  Proverbs 16:7 (KJV)

“Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.”  Proverbs 22:29 (KJV)

Looking at those two verses we can see that, first of all “Peace” is more than the absence of war.  Peace comes from God.  When we are at war with God we will most likely be at war with everyone.  Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were at peace with God, so God gave them peace with their enemies.  Secondly, they were diligent with God’s business, faithful in obedience to Him and they were the ones who found favor with the king Nebuchadnezzar.

It is said of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ when He was around twelve years of age, that He was found in “…favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52).  Who makes it possible for us to be found in favor with God or kings?  Only God can do that.  God exalts one and brings down another.  In doing so God accomplishes His will and maintains the order of the powers of man.

III.  THERE IS GREAT WISDOM AND KNOWLEDGE FOR THOSE WHO WILL TRUST THE LORD IN ALL OF LIFE (v. 20).
There is much learning, knowledge and so called wisdom in our world.  Education is a good thing, when it is guided by a godly heart and life.  When “education” turns hearts away from God, and that is its sole purpose it is evil and and should be avoided at all cost.  Everyone has the right to learn what they want to learn; but they don’t have the right to force me to learn godless evolution, evil monetary practices, and/or evil practices of law.

One man of year gone by made the statement, and I pray I am getting this correctly, or close at least, “Education without justification and sanctification is an abomination”.  He meant by that word “justification” that all sin was paid for in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and that all the righteousness of Christ Jesus was ours through Him.

The writer of  Proverbs speaks much of wisdom giving all of two chapters to wisdom, even personifying wisdom.  In chapter eight wisdom is personified, and we can see wisdom in our Lord in His teachings, in His living, in His dying, and in His resurrection.  The ninth chapter deals more with wisdom, and when you read this chapter you see the worth and value of wisdom, ie., godly wisdom versus worldly wisdom.

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that these young men were smart, and wise in God.  They could carry on a conversation with the king about the things of  Babylon, and why, what and how he was the king of Babylon.  It is a sad thing, but there are many people who have no care what so ever about “wisdom”.  They speak without thought, act without thought; but merely to circumstances, and the behavior of others.

Who desires wisdom?  The wise.  How do we receive wisdom?

“Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.” Proverbs 9:9 (KJV)

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”  James 1:5 (KJV)

IV.  GOD IS FAITHFUL WHO HAS PROMISED; THERE IS REWARD FOR ALL WHO WILL BELIEVE AND RECEIVE (v. 21).
Though this verse is placed in the beginning of the book of Daniel doesn’t mean that this event tool place here.  We are being told that Daniel was blessed by God and prospered under several kings while a captive.  Daniel even lived to see his people returning to the Promised Land of Israel.  He may have had a part in speaking with Cyrus and his leadership in the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem under Ezra’s ministry and work.  We see clearly from Scripture that God is guiding the affairs of His people.

“A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.”  Proverbs 16:9 (KJV)

Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah could not have planned such lives for themselves.  Neither can you or I.  We can scheme and plot and plan, and many a time those things just don’t work for us.  We must understand that GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU, and He gives us what we need to perform the tasks He has for us to do.

God will never fail to fulfill His plans.  He does have a plan for your life through His Son Jesus Christ.

APPLICATION –

i.  God has equipped us through the gift of His Son Jesus Christ, and His Holy Spirit to live for Him, and serve Him in the time which we live;
ii.  When you and I live for the Lord, faithfully serving, praising, thanking Him; then He will give us peace in our hearts, a pure conscience, and raise us in favor with the people of the world to accomplish His purposes;
iii.  Let us be wise to seek godly wisdom; and to seek it from God by asking Him for it, then, use it rightly for His glory;
iv.  You and I must trust the Lord to be faithful in CARING FOR YOU, and you what you need to do His will.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Daniel 1:8-16

GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU
1 Peter 5:7

When You Purposely Stand For Him

Daniel 1:8-16

Purpose – To see by faith, that God cares for His people when we must take a purposeful stand to forward His name and His faith.

OUTLINE –
I.  DANIEL TOOK A PURPOSEFUL STAND NOT TO EAT OF THE KING’S PROVISIONS (v. 8).
II.  DANIEL IS REMINDED OF THE POSSIBLE COST OF TAKING THIS STAND – ESPECIALLY FOR HIS FRIEND (vv. 9-10).
III.  DANIEL IS NOT STANDING ALONE – HANANIAH, MISHAEL, AND AZARIAH ARE STANDING WITH HIM (vv. 10-13).
IV.  GOD BLESSES THEIR FAITH AND THEIR STAND (vv. 14-16).

We must all consider the fact, as Christians, that we are strangers in a foreign land.  Some may not like, nor appreciate that statement, but if our citizenship is in heaven, and with God, then, we are indeed strangers in this land.  It matters not what nation we live in; we are strangers in a foreign land.  We are even “captives”, yet ambassadors in this foreign land, until the Lord returns to call us home to be with Him.

Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah were ambassadors of God in Babylon.  It seems, that they were about the only godly witness there.  That is not so however.  There was Ezekiel the prophet; and Esther and Mordecai [evidently cousins] (Esther 2:5-7).  These were captives in Babylon, and there could have been many more.  We have the four teenage boys taking a stand which was probably unheard of.  It is a very encourageing thing to see teenagers take a stand for their godly convictions; not in rebellion, but in obedience to God.

I.  THERE ARE TIMES AND SOME THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THIS WORLD THAT CALL US TO PURPOSELY STAND FOR GOD’S RIGHTEOUSNESS (v. 8 ).
In Daniel’s and his friend’s world it doesn’t seem that there were too many who were seeing a problem with eating the “king’s meat”.  There were other youth who evidently took and enjoyed the lush, and rich foods they were not accustomed to.  These young men had been brought up in the Hebrew culture with strict meat restrictions; this mean certain bleeding principles which would drain the dead animal of all its blood.  They were not to eat blood (Leviticus 17:10-16) .  They were not to eat meat that had been offered to idols. Read Leviticus 11.  To receive this meat was the same for them as recognizing the idols as deities.

You can notice that Daniel did not reject this food by a callous, and stubborn refusal; disrespectful of his caregiver.  As Daniel had a plan in taking a stand there are also ways Christians can take a stand and not be offensive.  We can stand with our lives everyday.  Let the light of Jesus Christ shine forth from our lives by developing friendships (as much as is possible) with the people you are around.  As Daniel had developed a good relationship with the melzar [the steward].  (Rather than being a proper name “melzar” is probably a title such as servant or steward; one appointed by the chief eunuch to care for the Hebrew youths.)

II.  IT IS GOD WHO BRINGS HIS PEOPLE INTO GOOD FAVOR WITH OTHERS, AND WE SHOULD BE LIVING TO GIVE THEM CAUSE TO SUPPORT OUR STAND (vv. 9-10).
Matthew Henry has written of verses eight and nine, “Whoever are in favour, it is God that has brought them into favour; and it is by Him that they find good understanding.  Herein was again verified that word (Ps. cvi. 46), ‘He made them to be pitied of all those that carried them captives.’  Let young ones know that the way to be acceptable is to be tractable and dutiful” MATTHEW HENRY’S COMMENTARY Vol IV. pg 1019.  “When a man’s ways please the LORD He maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.” (Proverbs 16:7).

If we are going to stand and we live in a condition where what we do may harm another it seems that we better have their permission before we proceed.  Daniel and his friends not only had permission, but he provided their veggies for this ten day period.  Of course, we need to be in good terms with them for God to direct their paths too.  That is not to say that should Daniel have been refused in this matter that he shouldn’t have did something, but he did what was necessary and God gave him close communion with a man in charge who was, himself, willing to take the risk along side Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.

There are times to stand when no one will help you.  No one will stand beside you.  You may have plenty that will say, “I am [We are} behind you all the way.”  Those who stand behind you can “stab you in the back”.  That may sound suspicious, un-nerving, un-trusting, and/or negative.  It is, however, the truth.  In most cases, those who will walk beside you, can be trusted.

You will notice that there is an early reference to all Daniel’s friends with him in verse ten, “…why should he see your faces”.  So Daniel had at least Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah standing with him in this faith experience.

III.  LIKE THE CONVICTIONS OF DANIEL AND HIS FRIENDS TRUE CONVICTIONS CANNOT BE LAID ASIDE (vv. 10-13).
Daniel had the convictions that should they eat the “king’s meat” they would be sinning against God, thus he, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah chose to refrain from eating the king’s dainties.

Matthew Henry write again, “Perhaps it was not in itself  unlawful for them to eat of the king’s meat or to drink of his wine.  But, 1.  They wer scrupulous concerning the meat, lest it should be sinful.”  MATTHEW HENRY COMMENTARY  Vol. IV pg. 1020.  They were wise to seek to be kept from even the temptation of the food.  “How far can you go until it is sin?”  is a question often asked.  The answer to that is “If you have to ask that you have probably already sinned”.

What many people call convictions are often on preferences.  A conviction is something you will die for, and maybe even another’s life.  A preference is nothing to die for.  Let me give you an idea of what a preference is.  I prefer to drive Ford trucks and cars, but I wouldn’t fight you over it.  I could drive a Chevrolet, Buick, Toyota, etc., if I had no other choice.  My conviction is that God’s Word, the Bible is the inerrant, infallible, God breathed word of God; and that is something I will give my life for and that my Savior Jesus Christ is the God/Man, incarnate Son of God, died on the cross for my sins and the sins of the world, that Jesus is the only way to God and to heaven, and Jesus is coming back one day to call his children home to be with Himself.  Those are my convictions, some of them, and I will hold them until I draw my last breath;  with the power and strength of God.

It is great knowing that we have family, friends, other relatives, and neighbors world wide who hold these convictions and have found that “Hill on which to die”, and land in which to live.  As it is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of God” (Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4).

IV.  GOD PROVES OUR FAITH WHEN WE ARE FAITHFUL (vv. 14-16).
Remember Daniel and his friends were in a three year program (v. 5) for training and the food regimen.  All Daniel was asking for was a ten day trial period to prove that the vegetables, etc., was better for them in their appearance and probably their minds too.  Maybe there is something we could learn from following such a diet; but is anyone among us interested?

The faith they express in God is astounding, and God honors and proves their faith.  Faith is not something we boast of; it is what we live, how we speak, where we go, what we do, and how we live.  Faith is not just believing God when things are going good, but keeping on believing Him even when He doesn’t seem to hear.

It seems that the utmost goal of Daniel’s heart was that God be glorified in the king of Babylon, and the people of Babylon.  His heart was set on obedience to the word of the LORD; and even if the cost was his life.  God came through for Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; proving that their obedience was blessed by the God of Israel and all that is.  “And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat.”  Daniel 1:15 (KJV)

The LORD honored Enoch’s faith, by translating him; He honored Joseph’s faith by making him a ruler in Egypt; He honored Moses’ faith by leading the children of Israel out of Egypt; and many more in the Old Testament.  The LORD honored Peter’s faith when he walked on the water with the LORD;  He honored John’s faith by giving him the letters of the revelation and the Revelation of Jesus Christ.  God will honor the faith of all who will give their all to the Lord Jesus Christ.

APPLICATION –
i.  Take a purposeful stand for God and all that is godly and righteous in the world, even if no one else does.
ii.  Take a purposeful stand and trust the LORD for the good favor of others.
iii.  Take a purposeful stand all the time on your convictions; and stand when they are being attacked as well.
iv.  When we take that purposeful stand trust that the LORD will reward the faith of the faithful – I suppose that is what Paul; inspired by God; meant when he wrote, “Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.” 1 Corinthians 4:2 (NKJV)

-Tim A. Blankenship

Daniel 1:1-7

I realize I have done a previous study on the prophet Daniel.  However, the following are study notes for a new series of sermons I am preaching at Carr Lane Baptist Church beginning January 03, 2010.  I will include hear a link to my previous study and to only the points on our church site.

GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU

“Casting all your care upon Him; for He cares for you.”  1 Peter 5:7

A STUDY IN DANIEL

Purpose – To unveil and see the sovereign hand of God at work in the history of the nations of mankind, of men, and to know and trust God to be sovereign in directing our individual lives.

When Your World Crumbles Around You

Daniel 1:1-7

Purpose – To know and trust God to care for us even when nations, our own, and others are falling; God will take care of us, and meet our needs.

OUTLINE –
I.  THE FALL OF A NATION (v. 1).
II.  THE CAPTIVITY OF A KING, AND KINGDOM’S RELIGION (v. 2).
III.  THE CAPTORS ATTEMPT TO MOLD AND CONTROL MINDS (vv. 3-5).
IV.  THE SOVEREIGN HAND OF GOD IN FOREIGN AFFAIRS (vv. 6-7).

Isaiah the prophet had prophesied over one hundred years before of the impending doom coming on the nation of Israel.  They had grown rich, soft, comfortable, complacent, and apathetic.  “No harm will come to us.” they would say, “After all we are God’s nation, God’s people.  We have the temple of God”; and oh so foolish in their hearts turning from God.

There is security with the LORD so long as the LORD is honored, revered, trusted and obeyed by His people.  When God’s people forsake Him, He does not forsake His people, however, He will discipline, correct, and rebuke them to get them back under His care.

I.  PEOPLE FALL AWAY FROM GOD (v.1)
Jehoiakim king of Judah was the son of Josiah, who was the son of Amon, the son of Manasseh (2 Kings 21:18-26).  Johoiakim was born Eliakim, but the king of Egypt changed his name to Jehoiakim and appointed him king of Jerusalem (2 Kings 23:34).  This falling of the kingdom had begun a few years earlier when the prophet Isaiah was warning of the hard heartedness, and their straying from God.

The reason for the captivity that we are reading about in this text is because of the people’s forsaking God, His Word and His commandments (Ezekiel 20:13, 16; 23:38).

When God had spoken throught he prophet Jeremiah to call the people to go out to Nebuchadnezzar and surrender that was their last opportunity to remain in their land (Jeremiah 27:1-11).

II.  A KING IS TAKEN AND A KINGDOM’S RELIGION IS CAPTURED (v. 2).
This was the first invasion by Nebuchadnezzar.  He took the king from his throne, and to Babylon.  He also took some of the “articles of the house of God”.  It seems to have been a way to imply that the power of the gods of a nation are determined by the conquering nations taking these articles with them, and housing them with their religious articles.  This is seen earlier in the nation of Israel’s history when the Philistines took the Ark of the Covenant and put it in the house of Dagon (1 Samuel 4:11; 5:1-9)

One thing we as Christians must know and keep in mind; just because our place of worship may be destroyed, in shambles, and the place of the “Lord’s Supper” be stolen does not mean that God is destroyed or stolen.  He is larger than our pieces of religion which are used to remember Him.  When the world may take the sign of the cross and abuse it, misuse it, and/or mock it that does not deminish the power of the cross of Jesus Christ.  Several years ago a man, believing he was designing some sort of artistic piece placed a designer cross in a jar of urine, and photographed it.  That did not affect the power of the cross of Jesus one iota.  It was saccreligious.  It caused an outrage among many, and it seemed with some that it was almost the end of the cross of Christ.  Not so however.  The power of the cross of Christ Jesus cannot be captured, destroyed, or diminished.

Religions of men can be captured, destroyed, diminished, and cast out; but the cross of Christ will continue in its power to save and change lives until Jesus Christ returns.

III.  THE WORLD ATTEMPTS TO MOLD AND CONTROL MINDS (vv.3-5).
In the day of Babylon’s captivity of the Jews and others they would take the captives and change their names, and give them a new diet.  For the Jewish people it would mean eating swine, and other unclean foods for them.  In the eyes of many of the world this rich food would be a “blessing” over what they had been eating.
Ashpenaz, a eunuch for the king, was to pick out choice youth from the kingdoms, including Israel, and give them a new diet, and teach them new things.  Fill their heads with new thoughts, divert them from what they had been taught, and gain their loyalty.

Even in a free country such as the USA our public schools, many colleges, and universities, endeavor to redirect minds from the basics of what they have been taught by their parents, churches, and private schooling; directing them to more liberal thought and leadership styles.  They do these things by calling basic life truths, Bible truths, and moral truths into question, and ridiculing any and all who will stand on those basics.

This thought is seen in the science of the thought of “Global warming”.  When some scientist began questioning the authenticity of the theory and its truth these men and women were called all sorts of insulting names; “Unlearned, ignorant, fools” and not even given a chance to prove their points.  The world is attempting, even now, to control the minds, and beliefs of the people.

IV.  THE SOVEREIGN HAND OF GOD IN FOREIGN AFFAIRS (vv. 6-7).
A changing of the names of these Jewish youth.  We are told of only four.  Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; probably because they were four who stood for what they had been taught, never followed the path of evil in Babylon, and stood their ground.  We do not hear them called by these names until a later chapter.  They are called by their Hebrew names at least 5 times from chapter one through chapter two, and yet most people only know them by their Babylonian names?   God wants us to know them by their names Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.  Daniel is referred to as Daniel most of the way through the book; why do we not continue to know Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah by their true names?

Daniel means “God is my judge” … Belteshazzar means “the keeper of the treasure of Baal”;  Hananiah means “Jehovah is gracious”  …Shadrach means “command of the moon god”; Mishael means “Who is like Jehovah” … Meshech means “the goddess Shach”;  Azariah means “Jehovah is my helper” … Abednego means “the fire god”.

Part of the reason and answer to the question above is that we too have been conditioned by what we have been taught.  Let’s begin retraining our thinking to direct ourselves to the thoughts of godly thinking, and living; and trusting that kings and kingdoms are ordained by God; they rise and fall by His decree; and that no king, kingdom, man or woman can stand without the hand of God ordaining it. “The king’s heart is in thehand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: He turneth it whithersoever He will” Proverbs 21:1

APPLICATION-
i.  Let’s stand upon the Word of God; reading, studying, hearing, and applying it to every area of our lives (2 Timothy 3:15-17; 1 Timothy 4:2).
ii.  Putting our faith and trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ on Calvary’s cross, and guarding our hearts and minds from religion of men (Psalm 118:8).
iii.  Filling our minds with the things of God, holiness, righteousness, God’s glory, justice, peace, His love, mercy, goodness, bearing the fruits of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:16;  Ephesians 5:18; Galations 5:22-23).
iv.  Always keeping in mind the power of the sovereign hand of God over the affairs of men and nations will help us realize everyday, that, God is directing the events and circumstances of  our lives; that, He does not have a plan A and a plan B (Daniel 29, 37, 47).

-Tim A. Blankenshi

You may find my previous study posted on Fire and Hammer and the article on Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah and the other Daniel: The Educating Of The Youth.

What Manner Of Man – Worthy Of Worship

“And he said unto them, Is a candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? and not to be set on a candlestick?  For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested; neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should come abroad.  If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.  And he said unto them, Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given.  For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.” Mark 4:21-25 (KJV)

For the second time in chapter four Jesus uses the phrase “If any man have ears to hear, let him hear”.  What we have been given by God’s grace can be seen by all.  Our life, our work, our play, our family, is a witness to all around us.  How bright is that light shining from me?  How about with you?  Is the light of Christ clearly displayed for all to see.

Jesus says that what has been in secret will be revealed.  The Gospel is to the unbelieving something hard to understand and is “hidden” until the Spirit of God turns on the light.  To the unbelieving the preaching of the cross is foolishness; to the Jew it is a stumbling block.

God has given to every believer the light to shine for all to see.  We have been given much, so much is required of us.  Let us not lose what God has blessed us with.  The blessed gift and privilege of sharing Christ with others can be lost if we are not sharing the story.  The more you share the gospel with others the more you will enjoy it and the better it will get.  To have a gift and not use it is to lose it.

“And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground;  And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how.  For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.  But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.”  Mark 4:26-29 (KJV)

It is a marvel of God’s creation how a seed can be dropped onto the earth’s soil and it spring up and bring forth life.  Only God really knows how that happens.  It is a matter of life.

The farmer knows what he is to do, and that begins with plowing the ground – for a good crop – and preparing it for the seed.  He will then sow the seed, and wait patiently for it to grow into a harvest.  That seed will struggle and push its way up through the soil, it will grow to its highest potential, with “blades” of the plant it is supposed to be and eventually bring forth its fruit.  After reaching its time of harvest the farmer then will proceed to gather the harvest, and usually with much joy.

The good farmer knows the right time to harvest the grain.  When that time comes he puts in the “sickle” and brings in the harvest.

“And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it?  It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth:  But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it.  And with many such parables spake he the word unto them, as they were able to hear it.  But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples.”  Mark 4:30-34 (KJV)

The growth of this mustard plant is not normal.  It even shelters the “Fowls of the air” which are seen in the previous “parable” as being representative of the devil.

There is a tree which is seen in the fourth chapter of Daniel where it is said of it that the “birds of the air” rested in its branches.  This can be found in Daniel 4:11-12.

“The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth: The leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all: the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it. Daniel 4:11-12 (KJV)”

The “Mustard seed” is one of the smallest seeds known to man.  When Christ started the church He began with only twelve, and over the years it has grown and flourished.  It is not without problems or problem people, but it still continues to grow.  Within this Kingdom there is good and evil, and the good will triumph because Jesus Christ is its Head.  Warren Wiersbe states, “The growth of the kingdom will not result in the conversion of the world.  In fact, some of the growth will give opportunity for Satan to get in and go to work!”  It is imperative that we understand that the church is not perfect.  It is basically a “Hospital” with “sick” people.  Someone once made the statement, that “If you find a perfect church, and you go there, it is no longer perfect.”  There are members within many churches who are not genuinely Christian.  They “came forward” during an invitation, “took the preachers hand” or someone else’s, they filled out a card and there was no giving of self to Christ as Savior or Lord.  When the local church is made up of saved and lost people it is no wonder there will be problems in the congregation.

We must note that the “birds” who are resting in the branches of the tree are not part of the tree.  They only find solace, security, and some sanctimoniousness.

What Jesus started with only twelve people has grown to be millions.  The Church of Jesus Christ will not fail.  She will prevail, because Jesus has already conquered sin, death, hell, the devil, and the grave.

“And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side.  And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships.  And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.  And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?  And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.  And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?  And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”  Mark 4:35-41 (KJV)

After giving the parables and teachings he had given on this same day he got in one of the boats and said, “Let’s go to the other side”.  Now, what is on the other side?  Gadara.  There is a need for Jesus to go there, and He goes.

On the way to the “Other side” Jesus goes to sleep in the stern of the boat.  While He sleeps a storm that frightens even the seasoned fishermen – Peter, Andrew, James and John.  Even these guys are afraid that they are going to die.  Jesus is still sleeping.  Unafraid, unencumbered with the weights of this incident He sleeps.  There are three reasons a man or woman can sleep during storms of life.  First of all, physically exhausted, or dead.  Secondly, emotionally drained or depressed due to a rebellious attitude toward God.  Thirdly, they are at perfect peace with God.  Which one of those categories did Jesus fit into?  That is really a crazy question.  He is Deity, God in Flesh.  Of course He was at perfect peace with God.  He knew His destiny.  He knew God’s plan for His life.  How about you?

One thing we as Christians need reminded of from time to time is that we are still going to have some storms in our lives.  We are not exempt from them at all.

These seasoned fishermen saw that this storm was different or they would not have been so afraid as they were.  Because they were afraid they went to the right person.  They went and roused Jesus from His sleep.  Jesus was somewhat disappointed with their faith – or lack thereof.  They must not have been sure of their destiny, or God’s plan for their lives, or Jesus’ life for that matter.  If they would have believed Jesus’ previous words they would not have been afraid of the storm.  They would have kept on rowing; knowing and believing that they would reach their destination on “The Other side”.  Jesus had an appointment in Jerusalem He had to keep, and nothing would deter Him from that meeting.

At the storm they were afraid of it, now they suddenly turn their fear toward Jesus.  They really were not afraid of the storm; rather they were afraid of dying.  Now they have their eyes opened, and they receive a proper fear.   A fear of God, for here, standing with them is the One who made the elements, which causes the storm, and now calls them to be at peace.  Now the disciples can be at peace.

WHAT MANNER OF MAN IS THIS?  That is the best question.  He is the God-man.  Jesus Christ the incarnate One; worthy of praise, honor and glory.  It is to Him alone that we owe our complete allegiance, and to no other.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Returning Remnant

The prophet has given a very solemn, and somewhat discouraging words.  The ministry of the prophet of God is to speak the truth of God’s Word, no matter to whom they are speaking.

When one is called by God to proclaim the Word of God it is to God, and to God alone that we are held accountable.  Isaiah knew this and he never withheld a word.  He warned the laid back, at ease people of Zion that, though they had it made at that present time there was judgment coming from Assyria, the Chaldeans, the Babylonians; that they would be taken into captivity, and then he also let them know that God would lead some – a remnant – back to their blessed land.

This prophecy is given at least 100 years before it would take place.  Isaiah would not live to see it happen.  We know from the records of Ezra, Nehemiah, Jeremiah, Daniel that it did come to pass just as Isaiah had said.

As we journey through the Scriptures reading, meditating upon them, learning, we find that there are many times God is not pleased with Israel.  They are divided into a Northern kingdom called Israel, Ephraim; and into a Southern kingdom called Judah, and this was an act of chastisement from God for their departure from the way of David, and overtaxing of the people.  They were often afflicted by surrounding enemies, because they turned their back on God.  Of all the kings named in the Northern kingdom there is not one of whom it is said, that he “did right in the eyes of the LORD”.

When God’s people turn their backs on God, His Word, His prophets and begin to hate and kill His prophets, and despise the way of God, then God will send judgment to chastise His people.  With Israel (both Northern and Southern kingdoms) they would go into captivity, and Jeremiah the prophet says it would be for a period of seventy years (Jeremiah 25:11, 12; 29:10).  After that seventy years are accomplished God would allow a “Remnant” to return to the land.

There are many who have given up on the nation of Israel today.  Some say, “God is through with Israel as a nation”.  One national ruler says, “We will destroy Israel”.  At this time this man’s “kingdom” is in jeopardy due to charges of an unfair election process.  The kingdoms of men fall.  None of these things said by such rulers are so, nor will they come to pass.  God has not given up on Israel.  He still has a remnant who will one day call on the name of the One whom “they have pierced”, and call Him Lord, and the kingdom of David will be forever established with Jesus Christ as King.

Where the nation has trusted many times upon their captors, their “protectors” – such as those who are siding with Israel today; though their protection is like whitewash – they [Israel] will come to a place their hope and stay [trust] will be upon the LORD alone.  Israel’s only protection is the LORD.  Your protection;  also mine is the LORD of hosts.

“And it shall come to pass in that day, that the remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again stay upon him that smote them; but shall stay upon the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God. For though thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea, yet a remnant of them shall return: the consumption decreed shall overflow with righteousness. For the Lord GOD of hosts shall make a consumption, even determined, in the midst of all the land.” Isaiah 10:20-23 (KJV)

Paul the apostle writes of the promises and hope of Israel in Romans 9-11, and there he tells us, “All Israel shall be saved” (Romans 11:26).  Let us all pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6), remembering that the only true and lasting peace will come when the Prince of Peace comes and sits on His throne in Jerusalem, and His name is Jesus.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Secure The Documents

The prophecy of Isaiah has been strong. The people who have heard his preaching of these prophetic words of judgment coming are calling him a leader of conspiracy. In fact in conspiring against his own people and nation.

He has told them of one coming who would be a sanctuary and a “Stone of offense and a Rock of stumbling”, in fact “a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem”. Jesus Christ Himself being the Chief Cornerstone who we are told in the New Testament is that Stone of offense and Rock of stumbling, are warned not to let that Rock fall on us, by Jesus Himself (Matthew 21:42-44; Mark 12:10). This is the stone also of which Daniel the prophet would describe coming down out of heaven, and in the kings dream –

 “Inasmuch as you saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold–the great God has made known to the king what will come to pass after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure.” Daniel 2:45 (NKJV); (Also see verses 34-35ff).

The responsibility of keeping these prophecies – writings were those disciples who were following Isaiah, and writing down what he preached (8:2). To “Bind up the testimony” is to secure them for future acknowledgement of the events which the prophet foretold. They have been kept secure now for over 2,700 years. That is in fact what we are reading today.

Hear the Word of the Lord:

“Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.  And I will wait upon the LORD, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him.” Isaiah 8:16-17 (KJV)

The prophet is secure in the preaching of the LORD’s message. The prophet would not see the invasion of the invading forces of Babylon. The word of the LORD which he had spoken, and his disciples who believed the message would have it to show and prove to those who were living at that time that it was foretold.

When we read the words, “Hiding his face” it means in judgment, or shame, or maybe both. God is not looking on “Jacob” in favor is its implication.

Isaiah the prophet will “Wait for the LORD’ and ‘hope in Him”. The confidence of Isaiah is wonderful. He may be tried beyond understanding, and normal patience; but no matter what his faith in God will see him through. We see the nation we live in crumbling morally, and economically around us; when we see the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ watered down with “Feel good” messages, and messages of prosperity and health, without our suffering with Christ; we too have the faith to look to the LORD, and “Wait for the LORD” of heaven to come in all His glory and power, and to put all things under His feet. Let us pray that He is not hiding His face from His people today.

-Tim A. Blankenship

People, And The Incarnation Of Christ

Luke 2:25-38; Matthew 2:1-12, 16-18

PURPOSE –  In looking at the six people/personalities we see in this message the  question should arise, “Which personality do I fit?”, and lead us to a close walk with our personal Lord, Savior, and God.

OUTLINE –

I.  HEROD – AN EXAMPLE OF “ROYALTY” WHO HATED KING JESUS (v. Matthew 2:16-18).

II.  THE WISE MEN [MAGI] – AN EXAMPLE OF THOSE WHO SEEK HIM FROM FAR AWAY (Matthew 2:1-12).

III.  SHEPHERDS – AN EXAMPLE OF THE LOWLY WHO ARE CALLED TO WORSHIP HIM (Luke 2:8-9).

IV.  PRIESTS AND SCRIBES – AN EXAMPLE OF THE RELIGIOUS, INDIFFFERENT CROWD (Matthew 2:4).

V.  ANNA – THOSE FAITHFUL IN PRAYER DESPITE THE TIMES AND TRIBULATIONS THEY EXPERIENCE (Luke 2:36-38).

VI.  SIMEON – THOSE WHO ARE FAITHFUL IN EXPECTATION OF THE LORD’S COMING (Luke 2:25-35).

In looking at this list there are more we could include probably, but some, such as the “Inn keeper” who had no room, we have no details of him.  Joseph and Mary we have already looked at in the last message.  We could also think about the soldiers who murdered all the infant males in Bethlehem at the orders of king Herod.  You can tell by those I have mentioned here that there are more than we often think about.  The six listed above are the ones I want us to consider in this message.

HEROD – AN EXAMPLE OF “ROYALTY” WHO HATED KING JESUS (v. Matthew 2:16-18).  Herod was a jealous king.  One of whom has recorded history of being jealous of his sons and having them slaughtered so he could keep his “throne”.

When he hears from the “Magi” that there is a “King of the Jews” (Matthew 2:2) he calls for an urgent and diligent search where this King would be born.  He calls for the Priests and scribes.  They inform Herod that it is in Bethlehem, quoting Micah 5:2.

Herod asks the “wise men” to let him know when this child is found so that “I may worship Him to” (Matthew 2:8).  In his heart he was still that jealous envious “king” who wanted no one to take his throne.  Herod was actually a puppet king of Rome, and he wanted nothing to do with the worship of a “King of the Jews”  he was the king of the Jews.  His intent was to destroy Him, and it mattered not what the cost.

THE WISE MEN [MAGI] – AN EXAMPLE OF THOSE WHO SEEK HIM FROM FAR AWAY (Matthew 2:1-12).  These men who came, with no number mentioned as to how many there were, were Gentiles from some land away from Israel.  We are not told where they are from.  This is, however, evidence that God is sending His Son to and for the salvation of the whole world.

The following is from the MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE;

“wise men from the East.  The number of wise men is not given.  The traditional notion that there were 3 stems from the number of gifts they brought.  These were not kings, but Magi, magicians or astrologers–possibly Zoroastrian wise men from Persia whose knowledge of Hebrew Scriptures could be traced back to the time of Daniel (cf. Dan. 5:11).”

From THE MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE, note on Matthew 2:1, p. 1394, NKJV.

It almost appears in reading these verses that the “wise men” were the only ones interested in the star.  Not everyone is an star gazer, but God used this “Star” or whatever it was to capture the attention of three Gentile men, and they came and worshipped the King (Matthew 2:11).

Some one has said, “Wise men still seek Him”, and of that it is sure.  Though God may not in our day be using a star to guide men to Himself; He still uses circumstances, at times, and in some cultures He uses dreams that will cause the recipient of the dream to search out a messenger of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  God uses other people that may cause someone in another culture and another religion to search for the Jesus of the Bible.

Some may wonder well, “What do you do with that verse that says, ‘no one seeks for God’? and my answer to that is, They would not had God not been drawing them to Himself.

The “wise men” followed the direction of the Hebrew Scripture and they have been forever remembered by our Lord and God.  Those same Hebrew Scriptures are  in the Christian Bible.

SHEPHERDS – AN EXAMPLE OF THE LOWLY WHO ARE CALLED TO WORSHIP HIM (Luke 2:8-9).  The shepherds of Israel, the lowliest of society were the first to be notified of the birth of Jesus; and they were notified by the angels of heaven.  Oh, what glory, joy and rejoicing they brought to the lowly that night.

Shepherds were told where to find the “Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world” (John 1:29).   He was to be found in the manger where He lay.  Is there any better place to find a new born Lamb than in a manger?

In the world when a king is going to make an appearance the papers, the news stations make it clear and plain that the king is going to come, but invitations to see the king, visit with the king, dine with the king only go to the elite, and politically, and financially powerful ones.  This Kings appearace was revealed to the lowly of society.

In this we see that God cares for the people of all social levels; and I would add that if God tilts the scales in any favor it would probably be toward the lowly.

Are you hurting from financial troubles, loss of your job, illness, major health problems, disease, troubled marriage, divorce, death of a loved one? Then, this message is for you.  More importantly; Jesus is calling you to Himself.

PRIESTS AND SCRIBES – AN EXAMPLE OF THE RELIGIOUS, INDIFFFERENT CROWD (Matthew 2:4).  Here were the people, the men, who would have been the most familiar with the Hebrew Scriptures.  They were the religious ones.  They would have known the Scriptures which foretold the coming of their long awaited Messiah/King.  It just seems that they were unmoved by this request from the Magi.  They seem as though they don’t even care.

There are  many religious leaders who are engulfed in their business of ministry.  They are “Professional” at what they do.  They are always dressed in the proper attire (Please note this is not a slam against dressing decently and proper), speak professionally in their words, have their religion wrapped up in liturgy, lithargic learning that usually has nothing to do with Biblical understanding, but cultural, societal, and ecumenical unity.  While all they time paying no attention to the signs of the times in which we live that loudly proclaim that the Savior is near.

ANNA – THOSE FAITHFUL IN PRAYER DESPITE THE TIMES AND TRIBULATIONS THEY EXPERIENCE (Luke 2:36-38).  Anna was a young woman when she became a widow after being married for only 7 years.  She spent her time in the temple praying.  She had been a widow for 84 years, and had spent day and night in the temple praying.

We are not told why her young husband had died, and it is not necessary for us to know.  What we know is about Anna and her faithfulness to the Lord.  Her prayers must have been somewhat similar to that of Zachariah, which was partly for the coming of a deliverer for the nation of Israel, and they may have been seeking for the whole world as well.

After spending all those years praying for the appearing of this child, this Son of God, she recognizes Him, and gives thanks to God; and “spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.”  (v. 38).

These things surrounding the birth of our Lord shout loudly to all who will hear, and to those who refuse to hear, that Jesus is God’s Christ, God’s Son, and is the only means of salvation in the world.

SIMEON – THOSE WHO ARE FAITHFUL IN EXPECTATION OF THE LORD’S COMING (Luke 2:25-35).  Simeon is an interesting character, and is often overlooked, even more is said of him than Anna.

We need to remember that this prophecy, along with the words of and about Anna took place on the eighth day after our Lord’s birth.  There was ceremony, circumcision, and worship conducted at the temple on this wonderful day.

Simeon was a man to whom the Lord had revealed that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Christ (v. 26).  He was a man getting up into years.  We are told that he was a just and devout man.  He was a man who feared God, and had been declared by God to be just, ie. made right with God.  Just as Anna is faithful in prayer, so is Simeon faithful in expectations of the Lord’s coming to deliver His people.

Simeon speaks to Joseph and Mary and all those present.  Let’s see what things he spoke:

1. “let me depart in peace”;
2. Mine eyes have seen Thy salvation;
3. Prepared before the face of all  people;
4. A light to the Gentiles;
5. The glory of the people of Israel.

The things he spoke to Mary and Joseph:

1. The child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel;
2. A sign which shall be spoken against, as a sword shall pierce your soul
3. That the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

This “sign” that is spoken against is evidently the cross on which he would die.  That was the piercing of her soul, and at this cross the hearts of many are revealed.  It was the wicked and vileness of men’s hearts that nailed Him on that cross.  Yet, on that cross the atonement for sins was given through the precious, sinless, blood of the Lamb of God.

As Simeon was faithful to carry on the work of the Lord in his life we too are called to be faithful unto the coming of our Lord for His Bride and later in His glory.

Simeon loved the appearing of our Lord.  The professing Christian who has a larger desire to make more money, acquire more things, see more family, etc, than desiring the return of the Lord should be looking at their hearts true condition.  One evidence of the true Christian experience is expectation of our Lord’s return.

Have a heart like the “Wise men” who seek Him, and worship Him; like the shepherds who saw and heard the call and worshipped Him; and a heart like that of Anna who continued in fasting and prayer night and day until that day she could bless Jesus, and be a blessing; and finally have a heart like Simeon who long awaited the coming of the King of the Jews, their Messiah, Deliverer, and Savior.  Our Lord Jesus is coming returning soon for the Church; and later in all His glory, and the whole world will see Him.

Call on His name for salvation, before it is forever too late.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Discernment Of The Times

 “Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” Matthew 24:32-34 (KJV)

Jesus has given a previous lesson on the fig tree (Matthew 21:18-22; Mark 11:11-14, 20-24). Jesus being hungry saw a fig tree with leaves, and when He arrives at the tree to eat some figs finds that it is a hypocrite tree. It is a fig tree, it advertises that it has figs by its having leaves, but there are no figs on the tree. Mark says that it was not the season for figs, yet the leaves indicated that there were figs on the tree. In some places of the Old Testament Israel is likened to the fig tree (Hosea 9:10), and is almost always named in association with them in their blessings or cursings (1 Kings 4:25; Jeremiah 8:13; Joel 1:7, 12; 2:22; Micah 4:4; Habakkuk 3:17; Haggai 2:19; Zechariah 3:10).

When Jesus cursed the fig tree, because it bore no fruit, it was a representative curse upon the nation of religious Israel. They were pretending to have spiritual life, but they were dead; because they had refused to recognize their Messiah, trust Him and believe. By Jesus cursing the fig tree He declared that the old ceremonial, legalistic, religious practices of Judaism were fruitless and cursed and dead. How can I say this? Mark’s Gospel places this cursing of the fig tree between Jesus entering the temple on a late evening (Mark 11:11). Jesus then left and went to Bethany, and the text says, “And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry: And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet. And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it.” (Mark 11:12-14). Then following the curse of the fig tree we find Jesus in the temple overturning money changers tables, because they had defiled the temple, and made the “house of prayer” a den of thieves (Mark 11:15-19). Matthew’s Gospel tells us that the chief priests and elders asked Him where He received the authority to say and do the things He did? He refused to answer, because they refused to answer His concerning the prophet John the Baptist.

The Bible is the Holy Spirit inspired, inerrant, infallible decree of God to mankind; of God, His righteousness, justice, peace, sovereignty, power, and love for mankind; it also tells us of our own wickedness, or our need for repentance, and faith. I say this to emphasize that each verse of Scripture is placed in an order; which God has prescribed; to make the point that He wants to make. It would, therefore, seem to me that the placement of verses 12 – 14 of Mark 11 where they are would be declaring that the religiosity, hypocrisy, and godlessness of the of the Aaronic priesthood is cursed; at the least their godless legalism, and hypocritical acts; they will forever remain fruitless.

If you notice in the above verses of Matthew 24 Jesus only refers to the leaves, and no fruit. It could be that Jesus is referring to the realization of a renewed State of Israel. If this is so then, we have seen this take place in a generation of time. May 14, 1948, and in those sixty years there have been many things take place which should cause us to sit up and take notice. The increase of those things which Jesus tells us of in verses 4-8 of chapter 24. We must remember that these signs are signs of the Second Coming of Jesus in His glory, and not for the rapture of the Church.

Even if the signs or their increase of intensity is what Jesus is referring to it is evident that the time is short. Truly Summer is near, and Jesus is at the door. The generation of which Jesus refers would probably be the generation which sees these signs fulfilled. If the fig tree in this case is Israel, then it would refer to the generation of those living during the time Israel is back as a Nation.

24:34 this generation. This cannot refer to the genreation living at that time of Christ, for ‘all these things’–the abomination of desolation (v. 15), the persecutions and judgments (vv. 17-22), the false prophets (vv. 23-26), the signs in the heavens (vv. 27-29), Christ’s final return (v. 30), and the gathering of the elect (v. 31)–did not ‘take place’ in their lifetime. It seems best to interpret Christ’s words as a reference to the generation alive at the time when those final hard labor pains begin … This would fit with the lesson of the fig tree, which stresses the short span of time in which these things will occur…” From The MACARTHUR Study Bible, p. 1440 (NKJV).

“Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” Matthew 24:35 (KJV)

Jesus saying, “This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled” gives us direction toward verse 35. Verse 35 assures us of the power of the Word of God. It is powerful. It is unchanging. It is inerrant. It is infallible. It is eternal. Can’t all these things be said of God Himself? Yes! His Word is His character. His Word is His voice in a dark world. His Word is His message of Himself to mankind. His Word is His Law, His History, His poetry, songs, and laments. His Word is also His message of faith, repentance, and future events.

Let’s look at what God in His Word says of what He says:

“The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.” Psalms 19:7-11 (KJV);

“Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.” Deuteronomy 4:2 (KJV);

“And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.” Deuteronomy 8:3 (KJV);

“Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that He may perform the word which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Deuteronomy 9:5 (KJV);

“But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.” Deuteronomy 30:14 (KJV);

” And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open vision.” 1 Samuel 3:1 (KJV);

“As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him.” 2 Samuel 22:31 (KJV);

“By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.” Psalms 33:6 (KJV);

“The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.” Isaiah 40:8 (KJV);

“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11 (KJV);

“Then said the LORD unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten my word to perform it.” Jeremiah 1:12 (KJV);

“The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD. Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?” Jeremiah 23:28-29 (KJV);

” For I am the LORD: I will speak, and the word that I shall speak shall come to pass; it shall be no more prolonged: for in your days, O rebellious house, will I say the word, and will perform it, saith the Lord GOD.  Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying,  Son of man, behold, they of the house of Israel say, The vision that he seeth is for many days to come, and he prophesieth of the times that are far off.  Therefore say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; There shall none of my words be prolonged any more, but the word which I have spoken shall be done, saith the Lord GOD.” Ezekiel 12:25-28 (KJV);

“In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.” Daniel 9:2 (KJV);

” Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.” Hosea 4:1 (KJV);

“And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.” Amos 8:12 (KJV);

“Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.” Zechariah 4:6 (KJV).

 

We should be comforted, encouraged, and exhilarated to know that God gives so much power and authority to His Word, and has given it to us to know Him, grow to love Him, and live for His glory. It is also wonderful to know that everything which God has spoken will be fulfilled, and that there is no ending to His word and/or His promises.

“But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” Matthew 24:36-44 (KJV)

There are some who try and date the Second Coming of our Lord. It has always been ended with embarassment, and loss of credibility. Why is it that we cannot believe what Jesus has taught us; “No man, no, not the angels of heaven, but My Father only, knows the day and hour”. He gives us a clue as to the conditions of the times, but still without a date.

Some have looked at this verse and indicated that since Jesus didn’t know the day or hour this was surely evidence that He was not divine. Jesus was divine, but limited His knowledge as a man, to only what the Father would have Him know. It would seem to me, that now that He is seated on the Father’s right hand, and all things have been “Placed under His feet”, that Jesus would definitely know the day and hour of His coming.

Jesus gives us some signs to look for before that great and notable day of the Lord comes. There is the sign of Noah. Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD, and God called him to build a huge boat, with its inhabitants being the animals of the earth, and eight human beings – Noah and his wife, their three sons and their wives. The days of Noah were evil. Everyone was going about life without much thought and little to no thought of God. They were wealthy, comfortable, and there seems to have been no war; all is well! At least on the surface. Then Noah comes along, hears the Word of the LORD, obeys, and begins building this large floating boat, and ark for deliverance. Not only is Noah preaching to the people around him, but the building of the ark itself is a message to the people. Let’s hear what the writer of Hebrews says of this;

“By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” Hebrews 11:7 (KJV)

The culture of Noah’s day was probably very similar to our own. Jesus describes it as, “…before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage…”. To see this and read it just seems like the casual, everyday thing. People were going about their daily task, play, work, as though everything were fine. Jesus is most likely getting us to see that cultural laws had become common place. Cultural law basically being if it is alright for the culture your in then it is right. We could look at this way – if exchanging marriage partners is culturally okay, then it is okay to practice for all; if homosexuality and same sex marriage is acceptable then, it should be acceptable for all; if giving the unborn babies up on the altar of abortion is the going and approved thing, then by all means don’t over burden yourself; if prostitution is just another way of making a living, and can be unionized, then don’t criticize those who must earn their keep by slaving themselves out for pleasure oriented people; you see the phrase of the cultural elite is “You got to go along, to get along”.

As long as you don’t “rock the boat” or “make waves” you are an okay sort of person. However, if you speak out about these culturally acceptable vices, and call them “evil”; the culturally elite will turn that around on you and call you the “evil”. Remember Isaiah the prophets words, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” Isaiah 5:20 (KJV). There has been a changing of words and semantics plays a large part in our understanding. It used to be that the word “Gay” meant “Happy, merry, cheerful”. Now the word “Gay” is used culturally to define a deviant lifestyle which is growing more and more acceptable by our world, and culture.

That is probably the like of Noah’s day. The cultural thing is to be accepting of all fads, frauds, and failures; with one exception, and that exception being those who will have the courage and boldness to say what is right and wrong. That day when Jesus comes back to earth to set up His kingdom will be a dramatic day. Most of those who hold power positions will be put down. Every nation who exalts itself against the God of heaven will fall. Every individual who exalts themselves against the Lord Jesus will crumble and bow in His presence. There will be no humility here from these; they will be pleading for the rocks and the mountains to fall on them.

On that day it seems there will be a separation which takes place in that moment; at least in that very day. Two working side by side – one will be left to live on in the kingdom of Jesus because of their faith in Him, and the other will perish. Matthew’s gospel mentions two men in the field, and two women at the mill, and would probably cover every situation of the workers in that time to come. It leaves us to understand that no gender, or workplace, is without the separation. One believes and is left to live on in the Kingdom or our Lord, while the unbelieving perish, and await the final judgment.

Jesus gives us these words to cause us to be “watchful” and vigilant concerning the matter of His Second Coming. Though this Sermon on Mount Olive is probably a message solely for the Jewish people it should have a profound impact on the Body of Christ – the Church. Though there are many preachers who use these words of two being together and one taken as refering to the rapture of the Church, the rapture of the Church does not seem to be mentioned in the sermon; at least in this part of it. We are uncertain of when the LORD may return, but we can know that since these signs are having to do with the Second Coming of Christ and not the Rapture, then the Rapture of the Church is closer. Therefore, we are to be ever vigilant, and diligent to do the works that will glorify our Lord.

“Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 24:45-51 (KJV)

Here are words of direction, and correction, and comfort. One of the things that Scriptures tell us will happen before the Lord comes is people who doubt – “scoffers” -that Jesus is returning, “Where is the promise of His coming?” they say. There are even some who have heard the one’s who have given up on the Lord’s return and who want to spiritualize His coming, who say, “Jesus already returned and set up His kingdom”, or they say, “The second coming of Jesus is when you were born again”, and there might be a few poor souls who say, “The second coming of Jesus is when you physically die”. These, at least to me, just seem to be a different way of scoffing at the coming again of our Lord and Savior. If the Scriptures which foretold the first coming of Jesus were fulfilled literally, then how can we not believe that those same Old Testament prophecies, which also tell us of the second coming, will not also be fulfilled literally.

It is the heart that has grown cold to the words of the second coming of Christ when the life gets hard, the heart grows cold. When a professing child of God begins to give up on the promises of God they will also begin to grow cold toward others, and in their thinking believe that the way you live doesn’t really matter. If the Lord is not returning “What use is there of this life”, and if the promise of the Lord’s return were not genuine, and His return were a lie, then truly, would life be worth living? I would have to answer YES! to that question.

The faithful Christian would lose nothing in remaining faithful to the Lord, His Word and His promises. Several years ago I would not have agreed with what I just said, but the life of a Christian is worth living. However, Jesus did come the first time; He did live a sinless life, and performed many miracles, and pleased the Father in heaven. He went to the cross and voluntarily laid down His life for all men, taking the judgment for our sins, died, and was buried, and three days later was raised to life to eternally rule and reign; and give eternal life to all who will believe in Him.

Only the unbelieving could turn away from the truth of the return of our Lord, and the setting up of His kingdom on earth. The things of this world will come to an end, and His Kingdom will be forever.

-Tim A. Blankenship

His Kingdom Coming

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord. Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.” Matthew 13:44-52 (KJV).

We have looked at the beginning of the kingdom of heaven in verses 3 – 23; seen the opposition of the devil within the kingdom in verses 24 – 43; and lastly we will see the finished result of the kingdom in verses 44 – 50. The final thing we will see is the responsibility that those who are in the kingdom have with the teachings of Jesus Christ.

The finished result of the kingdom of heaven will be the final putting away of all that is evil and false. The complete redemption of all who are bought and claimed by the Redeemer. All the parables of Matthew 13 give us an outline, together, of the Church Age. First of all in the parable of the “Sower” we see individual’s responses to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Secondly, in the parables of the wheat and the tares, the mustard seed, and the leaven; we see Satan’s opposition to the work of God in His kingdom, and his attacks upon it. Thirdly, we see the results of Judgment upon the “Treasure” [Israel], the Pearl [the Church], and the dragnet [Gentile nations]. This parable shows us that there is evil in the kingdom of heaven; the kingdom of Christ while He is not bodily present, and it will progress until He comes again.

In the following parables we see three items; the first being “a hidden treasure”; the second is “a pearl of great price [great value]”, and finally; “a dragnet”. We have mystery, beauty, and “What?”.

For some time and some odd reason many have looked at the parable of the “treasure” and said this treasure is Jesus Christ, and when you find Him you sell all that you have, then take that and buy to obtain Jesus. That may be a great sentiment, but we do not purchase Jesus. He is not for sale. If there is any finding to be done when it comes to the salvation of lost mankind Jesus will do it. Then, just what is the meaning of this parable (v. 44)?

Remember the previous parables. In the parable of the “Wheat and the tares” the field is the world. In this world “a man” is God in the person of His Son, and the “treasure” is true Israel. Hear the words of the Old Testament here: “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:” Exodus 19:5 (KJV); another one would be, “For the LORD hath chosen Jacob unto himself, and Israel for his peculiar treasure.” Psalms 135:4 (KJV). When God called Israel to be His people and Nation He had a plan for them, and He still does. Warren Wiersbe says, “That nation was placed in the world to bring glory to God, but it failed. It became a nation hidden, a treasure not being invested to produce dividends for God. Jesus Christ gave His all to purchase the whole world in order to save the nation (John 11:51). On the cross, Jesus died for the whole world; but in a special way, He died for Israel (Isaiah 53:8). The nation suffered judgment and seeming destruction, but in God’s sight it is ‘hidden’ and will be revealed again in glory.” From the Bible Exposition Commentary, by Warren W. Wiersbe, p. 47, VOL. 1.

God is the Creator of the world; the Son as the man purchased the world with His own blood redeeming Israel, and all who will receive Him. One day, and it may be sooner than we all think, there will be a manifestation of Jesus Christ in the hearts and souls of the people of the nation of Israel. It will take some time and trial for them to realize their need, and to realize that their Messiah has been here already, but it will come.

Pearls are made through the much tribulation of the oyster. I don’t know all the mechanics behind the making of the pearl, but what we have all heard is that it begins with a grain of sand being on the sensitive part of its body. It senses the irritation, and gives off a substance which surrounds the irritation easing its aggravation, and after several times of this it becomes a pearl; a piece of jewelry which women seem to love and desire.

In the parable of the “pearl of great price” (vv. 45-46), it has seen the similar interpretation as the above “treasure”, the “pearl” being Christ Jesus and those who give up all they have, and purchase the pearl have made a great bargain. Again, there may be great sentiment in this interpretation, but Jesus Christ and His salvation is not for sale, and salvation cost us nothing. Let’s see some Scripture on this matter:

” Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:” 1 Corinthians 10:32 (KJV).

“Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” Ephesians 2:11-13 (KJV).

“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” Ephesians 4:4-7 (KJV).

“The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” Psalms 14:2-3 (KJV).

In this parable of the precious pearl the “Merchant man” is truly representing Jesus Christ. Jesus saw the Church as being a precious pearl, and gave up the splendors and glory of heaven to come and redeem fallen men to God. If you use the interpretation of the pearl representing Christ then, you have mankind searching for and finding God. That contradicts the rest of Scriptures. In Scripture we always have God seeking for men. He came in the garden seeking for Adam, and it wasn’t or even isn’t that He doesn’t know where we are; it is important that we know where we are in relation to Him. The Bible says, “that no man seeks God” (Psalm 14:2-3; Romans 3:11). It was Jesus who said, “I came to seek and save that which is lost” (Luke 19:10). The Merchant man is the one who is searching.

God seeks after men – He is in pursuit of the souls of men. Jesus left it all up that He might purchase with His own blood the “pearl of great price” the pearl is one of great value. Precious means that it is rare. There is no other like it on earth, or anywhere else for that matter. “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” Acts 20:28 (KJV). The price He paid was not only in leaving the immediate presence of the Father, but becoming a lowly servant; taking on Himself the stench, the ugly, the weight, of our sins, and enduring the wrath of His own Father; then giving to us His righteousness

The pearl which the Merchant man seeks is the Church. The Church comes from the realms of mankind. The sea is most usually a picture of mankind. The oyster and the pearl are products of the sea. Read 1 Corinthians 10:32; Ephesians 2:11-13 and 4:4-7 again. The growth of the Church is unseen by the world, just as the pearl within the oyster. It is a unified product – just as the pearl is layered in its production, from beginning to end; so too is the Church.

Jesus once again goes to the sea, only in a bigger way. There are a lot of people who like and even love fishing. We look now at a peculiar catch. Keep in mind that we are to understand that the “kingdom of heaven” contains both the good and the bad [evil]; the true and the false. The good and true are the ones who are genuine believers. The bad and false are the ones in it for the wrong reasons – power, politics prestige; they are the hypocrites. The net is the kingdom and the fish represent people from all nations the Jew and the Gentile (Daniel 7:1-3; Revelation 13:1; 17:15).

The time of this judgment is at the end of the age, when God is going to make all things right. Evil will be judged and eventually put away. It will be a time when many will wonder, “What is going on?”, and “Why is this happening to me [us]? The Gentile believers will be separated from the unbelievers. It is not the end of the Church Age, but the end of the age of a “Mixed Multitude”. It will end the time of the tares infiltrating the wheat.

Jesus’s question as to the disciples understanding of the parables was pertinent. They needed to understand that the new thing He was teaching was coming from the old truths of the Old covenant. The new and the old never contradict but complement one another; or complete the other. The new may give fuller, and clearer understanding to the old. Scribes were given the task of writing the laws and preserving them; they, however, became preservers of man’s interpretations of God’s Word and laws, and in many ways fell away from the practice of these laws. The follower of Jesus needed to know and needs to know that there is a time for the study of the Word, and then, God gives us the time to proclaim the Word to those who need to hear.

The reference to the householder is that when he displays or shows the treasures of his house he shows the old and the new. The same is true with those who are followers of Jesus. I think this is Jesus telling us that the Old Testament is needed to be taught and preached as well as the New. Those who neglect the Old are prone to never have a good understanding of the New. Those who would teach only the Old, without the New, will never have a clear understanding of the Old.

“And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence. And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house. And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.” Matthew 13:53-58 (KJV)

After Jesus finished teaching these parables He went home to where He had grown up. A question that comes to my mind as I look at verse 54 concerning the phrase, “He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished…” is, “Does the statement mean that He taught them these parables, or is it just that He was teaching the people in the synagogue?? With verse 53 saying what it does, “When Jesus had finished these parables…”, and the and verse 54 adding, “…so that they were astonished…” it almost sounds as though it is speaking of the parables being taught by Jesus, to the people of his home town. It is clear that He “taught them in the synagogue” and in that reference is of the people. There is no doubt about His teaching the people in their synagogue. Therefore, that is probably the better understanding of it. Everything Jesus taught, wherever He was teaching was astonishing. The people of Nazareth did not understand where this young man, who grew up in their midst, could get such wisdom and understanding.

The people of Nazareth only saw Him as being the son of Joseph and Mary. Their eyes had been closed as to His true identity. After all as He was growing up He had brothers and sisters, James, Joses, Simon, and Judas, and sisters. These people were offended that He had such a wealth of knowledge of God, Scripture, and wisdom. He hadn’t really even been educated, at least not like the Pharisees, and Sadducees, the knowledgeable elite. It seems that thier offense went something like this, “Who does this guy think He is coming in our synagogue and teaching us?”

I am sure that Jesus’s heart was broken in their rejection of Him. He so desired that all would hear His voice and know Him, but He would not force any to follow. Jesus understood the attitude, and that it was their familiarity with Him growing up in their midst. Because of their rejection and rebellion against Him He could not, nor would not do “many mighty works there because of their unbelief”. Of course, this would be refering to the miracles He performed. It seems that the first miracle He did was in Cana of Galilee (John 2).

It is a sad commentary on a city, county, or country when they will acknowledge their war heroes, veterans, and sports stars, but they do not give any recognition to those who are given to the work of God. It just shows that the people “of the earth” have their hearts in another place.

-Tim A. Blankenship

A Worthless Worship vs. A Worthy Worship

A CARVED WORSHIP

“What profiteth the graven image that the maker thereof hath graven it; the molten image, and a teacher of lies, that the maker of his work trusteth therein, to make dumb idols?  Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise, it shall teach! Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in the midst of it.  But the LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.” Habakkuk 2:18-20 (KJV).

We will be dealing with the fifth and final woe in this portion of our study. “Woe” seems such a dreadful word. If we take it for what it was meant to be, it is. “A condition of deep suffering from misfortune, affliction or grief; 2 : CALAMITY, MISFORTUNE” MIRRIAM/WEBSTER DICTIONARY. The definition from the Biblical perspective would be “A pronouncement of judgment” and in the case of Habakkuk the prophet, a pronouncement of judgment against the Babylonians for their treatment of the Hebrew captives, and their treatment of the temple and its valuables.

The “Woe” is given to us in verse 19, “Woe to him who says to the wood, ‘Awake!’ To the silent stone, ‘Arise! It shall teach!’ Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, yet there is no breath at all.” (NKJV). To see someone speaking to a piece of wood would seem quite comical, if it were not a warning against idolatry. The Babylonians did practice the worship of idols.

The names of the Hebrews in the book of Daniel were changed to reflect the names of the idols of Babylon rather than the God of the Hebrews:

Daniel means “God is my judge” ……….Belteshazzar means ‘the keeper of the treasure of Baal’;

Hananiah means “Jehovah is gracious” ……Shadrach means ‘command of the moon god’; Mishael means “Who is like God” ……………… Meshach means ‘the goddess Shach’;

Azariah means “Jehovah is my helper”…………………. Abednego means ‘the fire god’. This was a means of ‘Brainwashing’ them getting them in tune with the culture of Babylon. They realized the importance of names. That is why I refer to them all by their Hebrew names. They are not Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; they are Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.

The question of verse 18 concerning ‘What profit?, ‘the molded image, a teacher of lies, that the maker of its mold should trust in it, to make mute idols? Wooden images, metal images, stone images, are less restrictive, easily approachable, and have no requirements. When one worships an idol you have your own form and “Formed” worship. You could say “Carved Worship”. You may worship your god whenever, and however you choose. To worship the Lord of Heaven, however, requires, righteousness, holiness, justness, and devotion. Those who try and approach God without these will be turned away, and cast into fires of judgment.

We do not have a “Carved Worship”. We have a heavenly ordained worship in “Spirit and truth”. The God of heaven is unapproachable without righteousness, holiness, justness, and devotion. We can only attain approachableness to God by the righteousness, holiness, justness, and devotion of His Son Jesus Christ, and because of His death on the cross, His burial, and His resurrection. It is not by any work [Carved or otherwise] that man approaches the Holy One.

The Psalmist had a word or two to say about idols:

“Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands.  They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not:  They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat.  They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.” Psalm 115:4-8 (KJV).

What can an idol do for you? Of course, if you are the artist who is doing the carving, then you can be well paid. If you are the metal worker, again, you can receive good pay. As far as any eternal value they offer death. Look at what happened to the gods of Egypt in the early chapters of Exodus. Everyone of them were exposed as being false. They had no control over the elements; only the God of Moses and the Hebrews had power to bring the plagues, and to remove the plagues.

Those who rely upon images are trusting in a lie. There is not one shread of evidence for any false god having power or helping the people who trust in them. The idols they make cannot speak, they cannot see, they cannot touch you, they cannot walk or run, and they cannot hear. Why waste the time of trying.

In some parts of the world, and our Country too, there are people who are good at seeing images in pieces of toasts, trees, and just in thin air. Then they build images to “Give honor” to them. They spend time praying to “Fatima” and praising her. Praying is usually only reserved for deity since deity is the only one who can answer the prayer. Thus, what is offered to “Fatima” as prayer is an act of worship.

According to the apostle Paul in the First letter to the Corinthian church, “…The things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, and not to God: and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons.” 1 Corinthians 10:20 (NKJV). To offer anything to an idol, be it carved, seen in a vision, apparition, or whatever is to offer worship to demons. That is the teaching of the New Testament. That is the teaching of the apostle Paul. The apostle to the Gentiles.

These may have an air of beauty about them with the gold, silver, and sometimes even the craftsmanship which formed it, but they are not living. They have no “Breath” at all. There is One and only One who is in His temple. That One is the One who made us all, and all things seen and unseen.

“Let all the earth keep silence before Him” (v.20b).

John MacArthur writes of this in the MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE:

keep silence. In contrast to the silence of the idols (v. 19), the living, Sovereign Ruler of the universe calls all the earth to be silent before Him. None can assert his independence from Him; all the earth must worship in humble submission (cf. Ps. 46:10; Is. 52:15).”

This call is for an act of extreme reverence, even an awe, because He is the only one worthy of it all. The Psalmist also said, “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10 (NKJV).

All will one day bow before Him and confess Jesus as Lord of all the earth. You do it now, or you will be doing it then.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

DANIEL, THE EDUCATING OF THE YOUTH

“ And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king’s seed, and of the princes; 4 Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans. 5 And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king’s meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king. 6 Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: 7 Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego.“ Daniel 1:3-7 (KJV).

THE EDUCATING OF THE YOUTH – On the first campaign against Jerusalem Nebuchadnezzar took hostages/captives and temple items. Youth are very impressionable to say the least.

The king wanted some youth who were attractive, intelligent, willing to learn the languages of the world. He wanted what would make his court look quite impressive.

The king asked “Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs” to pick out youth who were of noble lineage.

“The kings meat” would have been the best of the land. However, it was rich foods. It was foods forbidden by the Mosaic law. The right meats required the right kind of handling and care. The Babylonian’s probably did not take that kind of care. There are some cultures that believe eating and drinking the blood of animals that have been slain gives them the strength and spirit of that animal. That may be a partial reason why the eating of blood was forbidden in Jewish law.

These young students would be required to learn about the gods of this heathen land. Learn the culture. Learn their sciences. Learn their language. They would become the “wise men” of Babylon.

When Hitler wanted to begin a change in Germany under his rule he began with the youth. He wanted a “pure race”. He picked only the brightest, most attractive, and only of the white race. He learned the hard way that no one is perfect. No race of people is perfect. In fact he is paying for his crimes through all eternity.

The thinking here is that, if you start young enough teaching the things contrary to one’s culture, religion, and race you can win the world to your way of thinking. However, the king of Babylon was about to come face to face with the children of God. Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah who were four young men fully dedicated to Jehovah-Sidkeneu [The LORD our righteousness].

Upon being chosen these men of God were given new Babylonian names. Daniel was renamed Belteshazzar; Hananiah was renamed Shadrach; Mishael was renamed Meshach; and Azariah was renamed Abednego. They had wonderful godly names and were given pagan godless names.

Daniel means “God is my judge” ……….Belteshazzar means ‘the keeper of the treasure of Baal’;

Hananiah means “Jehovah is gracious” ……Shadrach means ‘command of the moon god’;

Mishael means “Who is like God” ……………… Meshech means ‘the goddess Shach’;

Azariah means “Jehovah is my helper”…………………. Abednego means ‘the fire god’.

The enemy will try to get you to forget who you are, where you came from, your heritage, and your destination, and then, laugh in your face if and when he succeeds. This enemy would find out, however, that they would not succeed with these four. What a great witness these four men have been down through the centuries and millenniums of time.

DANIEL, HANANIAH, MISHAEL, AND AZARIAH

DANIEL AND FRIENDS

Daniel 1:1 – 2

Isaiah the prophet had prophesied over one hundred years before of the impending doom of the country of Israel, the captivity of the people, and the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. Jeremiah the prophet warned of the imminent capture of the city of Jerusalem, and capture of the people. The kings would not repent, nor would the people call for repentance.

It is most probable that at the time of captivity around 605 B.C. that Daniel and His friends – Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were only in their teenage years. Maybe as young as fifteen years. We learn much from them in the very first chapter. They were strong in their faith and convictions and what was holy, pure, and right for the children of God.

Just recently we did a study of the Revelation of Jesus Christ. That is truly an unveiling of the most glorious Person who ever walked among men. This book of Daniel will give us even more and better understanding of events of the end times. When did the “End times” begin? Some have asked. When will the “End times” end? Hopefully, these questions will be answered in this book.

Let me put here a word of caution. If you are not interested in a literal interpretation of Scripture where it is meant to be taken literal, and a figurative interpretation when the Scriptures are figurative; if you are not interested in a pretribulation rapture view, millennial reign of Jesus Christ on earth, then, you probably will not be interested in this. Take time to study it anyway. You may just be convicted of your wrong understanding of Scripture. Smile, God loves you anyway.

DANIEL –

“In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god.” (vv. 1-2 KJV).

THE HISTORY OF THE CAPTIVITY – Daniel, Hannaniah, Mishael, and Azariah were taken into Babylonian captivity in approximately 605 B.C. This was the time when Jehoikim was the puppet king of Judah. This puppet king was appointed king by the Pharoah of Egypt (2 Chronicles 36:1-5).

This was the first invasion; there would be another under Zedekiah; theking who refused to listen to Jeremiah the prophet (Jeremiah 27:19-22). In this invasion the rest of the articles of the temple of Jerusalem would be taken to the temples of Babylon – about 586 B.C..

One of the things that becomes quite clear in the book of Daniel very early [even in the first two verse] is that God is Sovereign over all mankind’s affairs. Every president, king, premeir, despot, is put inplace by God – that is Jehovah [YHWH] the Creator of all that is; the Father of Jesus Christ, the Savior and sustainer of all that is. The God who became flesh in the person of His Son. He is Sovereign over all. “…And the LORD gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his [Nebuchadnezzar’s] hand.” leaves not doubt who is responsible.

There are those who refuse to believe in the miracles of the Scriptures, and the prophetic Word; and who believe that Daniel could not have been written in the time period of Daniel’s actual life. They believe rather that it was written after the historical events happened – about 105 B.C. If we discount Daniel, we must also discount Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Isaiah as well. You would also have to answer for the yet unfulfilled prophecies.

SATAN’S FINAL ATTEMPT

SATAN’S FINAL ATTEMPT AND HIS SHORTFALL

Revelation 13:1-18

The devil is a showman and desires the attention of mankind, and in this chapter we will be able to see his mode of entertainment, and his seeming attempt to overthrow the Kingdom of God and His Son, and no matter how vicious it may be, he will come up short.

And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. 2 And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority. 13:1-2 (KJV).

Some translations of the Bible read, “…and he stood” referring to the dragon. It really does no harm to the text to read it either way. Although John standing on the sand of the sea would serve no seen purpose, while the dragon standing so would place him among the people of earth.
The description given of the beast would imply a great empire. It would be the Roman empire revived and empowered by the dragon (11:7; 17:8). Daniel speaks of these same beasts (Daniel 7:1-8) only he refers to seeing four – the fourth being indescribable. Daniel mentions a lion, a bear, a leopard, and the fourth beast being “Dreadful and terrible”. John sees the leopard, the bear, and the lion; and the fourth must be the dragon.

Let’s look at these as Daniel has them interpreted to him (7:17):
1. The lion would be Babylon – Nebuchadnezzar the king;
2. The bear would be Medo-Persia – Darius the king;
3. The leopard would be the Alexandrian empire – Alexander the Great being the king.
Each of these kingdoms were “Swallowed up” by the one following it. All three of these are swallowed up by the “Indescribable beast” or the Roman empire.

Why are these likened to these beasts? Babylon had majesty and power likened to the lion. The Medo-Persian empire had strength and tenacity like the bear. The Alexandrian empire moved swiftly like the leopard (Daniel 8:5 “…touched not the ground”).

If you will note John sees and writes of these in reverse to Daniel. Daniel is seeing these in the future tense. John is seeing them in the past tense.

The seven heads and ten horns probably refer to the remnants of the confederacy that formed the Roman empire in the beginning. In Scripture the horn is symbolic of power. Ten nations of which three were overthrown by the “…little horn” of Daniel 7:8. The ten crowns referring to the symbols of governmental authority. The kings of these confederacies exalted themselves as gods, thus having the “name of blasphemy”.

And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. 4 And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? vv. 3-4 (KJV).

If we look at this in the light of the other Scriptures the head “…wounded to death” would be one of the confederacy, probably the Roman empire itself. Since the empire fell many of the confederate nations has risen and fallen silent, but the Roman empire is dead. Of course the empire is represented by an emperor. For a period of time the dragon [satan] will be given the power to deceive. It seems he may even give the appearance of raising an individual from death. It would be so much like him to counterfeit what God has done.
Because of this “resurrection” “…all the world” will follow him. Worship will be directed to the dragon. The dragon giving power to this resurrected beast could be satan himself possessing this one who has yielded himself to satan’s will (11:7; 17:8). This individual would probably be the ruler of the revived Roman empire, promising peace to Jerusalem and the world.
It is quiet possible that the resurrected beast is a form of government represented by an emperor. The renewed life is the “resurrected” nation able by satanic influence to deceive people and nations.
Here we even see satan’s counterfeiting the Holy Trinity. The dragon, and he in the anti-christ. The third being the second beast “…out of earth” a messenger of the anti-christ.
Anti-christ not only means “Against Christ”, but also, “In place of”, or “Instead of”.

And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. 6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. 7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. 8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. vv. 5-8 (KJV).

This ruler is probably only over the Roman empire until the last three and one half years of Daniel’s seventieth week. He makes peace with Israel, only to be slain in the midst of the week, raised up in satan’s power of deceit, then, breaks the covenant with Israel, and becomes the world ruler.
His mouth to speak is to speak against God and His saints (Daniel 7:25; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4), calling himself god, blasphemes the name of God Most High. In this state of satanic power he is given 42 months to rule (1260 days or 3.5 years).
The dragon’s purpose instilled in the antichrist will be to attack all that is holy and of God (Daniel 7:21). All those on earth “…whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb” will worship the beast. Only those redeemed by the blood of Jesus will not worship this beast. These are those who have been won to Christ by the 144,000 Hebrew witnesses of Revelation 7. See also 2 Thessalonians 2:5-12. They are not exempt from worshipping the beast. They will give their lives (6:11). “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Matthew 24:13). This is where this verse fits into the interpretation of Scripture.

If any man have an ear, let him hear. 10 He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints. vv. 9-10 (KJV).

An appeal, maybe even an invitation or warning is given us in verse nine. Listen up. John appeals for us to hear and heed the awfulness that is about to come upon the earth. Verse 8 is quite clear in showing a great ecumenical peace will come at last. A world religion where all give up their’s to join one. The worship of satan.
Notice this plea is similar to the ending statements of the letters to the seven churches. The only difference being this one does not end with “Unto the churches”. This tends to give support to the teaching of the absence of the Church, because it has been raptured out at this time.
Divine retribution is the topic of verse 10. Those who persecute these saints will be tormented likewise. The faith and patience of the saints, of all ages, is in the fact that that “Vengeance is Mine; I will repay’, saith the Lord”.

And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. 12 And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. 13 And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, 14 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. vv. 11-14 (KJV).

The first beast (v. 1) is said to come “out of the sea”, cast out from heaven (chapter 12), and from the mass of humanity. “Sand of the sea” is often a reference to a great mass of humanity. This second beast is come “out of the earth”. This seems to imply that this one is simply a man, not possessed by satan; because two men could not be possessed by satan himself at the same time. Satan is not omnipresent. The “horns like a lamb” show that he is a man of religion. He will be the leader of the world religion leading people in the worship of the first beast. This one is truly a “wolf in sheeps clothing”, for he speaks “as a dragon”.
He is given power as the first beast and deceives the people into worshipping the dragon. He deceives “with all power and signs and lying wonders” (2 Thessalonians 2:9), with such intensity that, “if it were possible, they would deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:24). We may even now be asking, “Why would God allow such things? The answer which is plausible is only to say, “To bring an end to sin”.
People always want to see the miraculous, but miracles, or at least what appears to be miracles, can only lead to deception, when not tested by faith in Jesus Christ and the Scriptures. The miracles of God point to Him. Some of what seems to be miracles today often point to something or someone other than God.
Some in Jesus’s day asked Him for a sign, and He told them no sign would be given, except the sign of the prophet of Jonah (Matthew 12:39-41), and they did not get it. The Word of God is sufficient enough for those who believe God. The sign of the prophet Jonah was he came alive out of the belly of the fish, and Jesus was raised alive out of the belly of the earth. The resurrected Jesus is all the proof God needs to generate faith in His children (Romans 1:3-4).

And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. 16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: 17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. vv. 15-17 (KJV).
Verse 14 says that every one should make an “Image to the beast” (probably similar to the image of Nebuchadnezzar’s of Daniel 3; of course, maybe a lot smaller). It almost sounds as though every home would have an image of the beast. It would only be speculation, but this could be some electronic device to keep track of his followers. It wold be a way of determining those who worshipped the image and put to death those who did not. Of course those who are God’s would not have the image in the first place.
These worshippers of the beast are identified by a mark, another counterfeit of God’s work. Here satan, the dragon, counterfeits the work of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God seals those who are God’s to the day of redemption (Ephesians 1:13; 4:30). The mark “in the right hand, or in their foreheads” would seal these people to eternal destruction. The Church today needs to hear this message and take the gospel of Jesus Christ out to the perishing, because what awaits the lost is doom. These with the “Mark of the beast” would be able to buy, sell, and trade. They would be able to obtain the things of earth, but be kept from the eternal blessings of God. “What will a man give in exchange for his soul?”

Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six. v. 18 (KJV).

The number of man is six (6). It falls short of God’s perfection, “short of the glory of God”.
When man tries to obtain the glory that belongs solely to the Lord he will always come up short. So will the devil.
No one knows what this number means. There are numerical equasions which figure into names. For example each Hebrew letter is also a Hebrew number. Since I do not know these things I can only share what I have read and studied. For instance Nero’s full name using the Hebrew alphabet and numbers adds up to 666. Alexander the Great’s name adds up to 666. Hitler’s adds up to 666. Both Bill and Hillary Clinton’s names add up to 666. I simply used the Clinton’s to give a more modern perspective, not to accuse them of anything.
This is not a sure thing. One thing we can be sure of, is that, the attempt by satan through man will come up short, sin will be eternally put away and Jesus Christ will reign as King of kings, and Lord of lords. SATAN’S FINAL ATTEMPT AND HIS SHORTFALL is certain because of who Jesus is.

THE WRATH OF THE LAMB

THE WRATH OF THE LAMB

Revelation 6:1-17

In chapter six begins a series of judgment upon the earth. A judgment unlike anything anyone has ever seen. We have all seen some of the movies of the destruction of the earth. We are constantly being warned of the destruction of the earth, if we do not stop using gasoline vehicles, etc. People living in fear of what is called “The greenhouse effect” caused by the earth warming. People living in fear of nuclear war, and destruction of the earth. Let me just say here; We need not fear these things. What we need is a good, old fashioned fear of a Holy God. The end of sin is going to come by Him and no other hand. We can be assured of that. We can either go on in fear of these former things mentioned or rest in peace with God as our Savior, our Lord and Redeemer.

In near past there has been books written about the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”. We see them here in the first four seals which are opened by the Lamb. In the opening of these seals we see the judgment of the Great Tribulation beginning upon earth. (Keep in mind, that there is no more mention of the Church – the twenty four elders, and the wife of the Lamb – until we get to chapter nineteen.) There is a “White horse and rider”, a “Red horse and rider”, a “Black horse and rider”, and a “Pale horse and rider”. The horse is a symbol of strength, and the rider is the one in control of the horse.

And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. 2 And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer. Revelation 6:1-2 (KJV).

The Lamb, the only one found worthy toopen the seals of the book (5:5), opens one of the seals. One of the “Living ones” (4:6) invites John “Come and see”. If these “Living ones” give John the invitation in the order they are listed in chapter four, there may be a connection with each of the first four seals. The first “Living one” was “like a lion”, the “King of beast”, and here we find a ruler ruling completely the opposite of godliness. This “Living one” would be grieved by this, but indicating to John its (the rider on the white horse’s) short lived deceptive rule. Could this be a possibility?

The sound of “Thunder” is warning of an approaching storm. The storm coming is one of judgment and gloom upon the face of the earth.

These first four seals are introduced by the “Four living ones”. It appears that the first four are done by man after God Almighty removes His messenger of restraint [the Holy Spirit] in order that sin might work its course. THE END OF SIN IS DEATH. The fifth seal has to do with martyred souls, during the reign of the evil one, because of their faith in God (See 12:11 and 20:4). I will try and deal with this in more detail later. The sixth seal then, is clearly of divine origin. The seventh seal is not mentioned until chapter eight, and it is opened to begin the judgment of the “Seven trumpets”.

What John sees is a rider on a white horse. There are two possible reliable interpretations of who this rider is: 1) He is Jesus Christ active in His Church taking the gospel and conquering the world – this view is held by those who see the Revelation as history; 2) He is the “Man of sin” referred to in 2 Thessalonians 2:4, 7-10. Notice this rider is said to have a bow. There is, however, no mention of arrows. “He went forth conquering and to conquer” and it could be that he is conquering through persuasive and deceitful speech which would be suitable for the “Son of perdition”.

It would not make sense for the Lamb to be the one opening the seals and also the one riding the “White horse”, nor, would it make sense for the awful tragedies following His conquering, if it was for His kingdom. For Christ to appear here as conquering by peace, or whatever reason, and then appearing again in chapter nineteen, with His sword for war, would not make much sense either.

It appears to me that this rider is none other than the man who will deceive the world with his lies. With the deceitfulness of lies and trickery the world will follow him to their death.

And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. 4 And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword. Revelation 6:3-4 (KJV).

The second “Living one” says, “Come and see”. This seal fits with Jesus’s words in Matthew 24:6-7, “And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places”.

This will be the real thing. The second “Living one” was “like a calf” which may represent “Service”, and war would definitely be the oposite of one who is serving. One with a servant’s heart is not usually given to war, and would be one to ease the pangs of famine, pestilence, earthquakes and such. He would certainly not be one to initiate them.

This horse is red. The color of blood, and that is for a reason. The peace, of the rider on the white horse promised and seemed to give, is very short lived. There is bloodshed, war. His work is to “Take peace from the earth”. Who is to say whether this rider of the red horse is not the same as the rider of the white horse, and the following riders as well. The rider beign the man and the horse representing a power/political agenda. It just might be a possibility. This rider on the red horse is given a “Great sword”; an instrument of killing and war.

And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine. Revelation 6:5-6 (KJV).

John, then sees, with the opening of the third seal, another horse and rider, and is called by the third “Living one”, “Come and see”. This third “Living one” has a face “like a man”. It is in the heart of man to cheat, deceive, and defraud other men. It is in the heart of the God-man Jesus Christ to deliver us from these things, but here it becomes a judgment of men upon the earth. We have heard of and seen things like this in the United States in recent disasters. People charging exorbitant fees for the removal of trees and debris from streets. Charging more than regular prices for generators and such because of excess needs. It just seems to me, that in these times there should be generosity, not greed. During this coming time of judgment there will be excessive greed and no generosity.

This horse is black. Black represents suffering. Famine, plague, and all kinds of suffering are caused by war.

Jesus also referrs to this in Matthew 24:7, “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places”. These seals seem to fit perfectly with the apocalyptic words of our Savior Jesus Christ.
Famine does come often as a result of war. Economic hardship is there too. Notice the cost of food. The presence of the “balances” seem to indicate injustice in price. A penny was a regular days wage. This verse if written today could read, “It costs a days wages to purchase a loaf of bread”. Can you imagine paying 30 – 50 dollars for one loaf of bread?

The balances [scales] of verse five have to do with marketing – selling and purchasing for the purposes of business. These scales under the rule of an unscrupulous ruler would be unjust.

Imagine the stealing, killing and chaos going on because of this rule. Anarchy would be the proper term.

And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. 8 And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth. Revelation 6:7-8 (KJV).

We are now to the fourth seal, the fourth horse and rider, and the invitation of the fourth “Living one” to “Come and see”. This fourth “Living one was like a flying eagle”. This “Flying eagle” would represent the Omniscience of God and ability to see, and oversee all things.

What John sees now is a pale horse, a pale gree, ghastly color symbolizing sickness and death. Sickness and death would certainly follow a famine. Notice, though, the power given unto the rider. He has power to kill one fourth of the earth. If the population of the earth is around six billion that means he would be destroying 1.5 billion people.

The sword, hunger, torturous death, and the use of wild beasts to kill are his instruments of death.

Keep in mind Christian, that God does not have wrath in mind for those who have trusted Jesus. “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.” 1 Thess 5:9-10 (KJV).

And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? 11 And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled. Revelation 6:9-11 (KJV).

The Lamb opens the fifth seal to reveal “Souls of them that were slain for the Word of God, and for the testimony which they held”.

There have been Christian martyrs ever since the near beginning of the Church. These are a different set of martyrs, unless of course you see this as merely historical, and that, in my opinion, does not fit with the rest of scripture. Who, then, are these martyrs mentioned in verses 9-11?

The Church is in Heaven praising and worshipping God around the throne as seen in the twenty four elders. Whereas, man has been allowed (after the translation of the Church), by the coming of the rider on the white horse, to have his way on the earth to the point of destroying the human race; these martyrs are those who opposed him and died for the faith believing God’s Word and bearing testimony to that affect.. These martyrs are people who believe God and reject the rule of the “man of sin”, or “son of perdition”.
The cry of these who were slain is for justice upon the unrighteous. These, are at this time without resurrection bodies. Yet, it is said, “White robes were given unto every one of them” (v. 10). It is not known how a spirit can support a robe, but they do seem to have some type of body. They are waiting to receive their resurrection bodies at the last part of “The first resurrection” (Revelation 20:4-6). (EXPLANATION: The first resurrection began with the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ and those who came out of their graves (Matthew 27:52-53); it continues with the translation [rapture] of the believers, dead and living (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), before the time of judgment begins in Revelation six. The first resurrection ends when all those who died because of faith during the judgment will be raptured and given resurrection bodies.) These martyrs are told they must wait until all who will die for the faith have died.

And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; 13 And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. 14 And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. 15 And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; 16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: 17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand? Revelation 6:12-17 (KJV).

The sixth and final seal of chapter six is opened by the Lamb and now begins the intervention of the divine judgment. The Lamb of God “Slain from the foundation of the world” is now wreaking judgment upon a God-hating, Christ rejecting world. As far as a time frame on this there is no certainty, but let me lay out a small outline of a proposed time. The first four horses and horsemen would represent the first three and one half years of Daniel’s seventieth week (Daniel 9:24-27). The fifth horse and horseman would be at the end of this three and one half years, partly due to the “prince” of Daniel breaking the covenant, and causing the death of all who believe in Jesus Christ. The sixth seal would then begin the latter half of the three and one half years, with the seventh seal continuing the judgment upon the earth, and the “Inhabiters of the earth” (8:13 & 12:12). The “Inhabiters of the earth” are those whose heart is on the things of earth, rather than God and His Christ.

Earthquakes are not in the power of man, nor are the other celestial bodies in the realm of human control. The earthquake is probably one so violent the whole world shakes. Every living thing feels the shaking, heaving and volcanic eruptions which take place.

The sun is darkened. There appears to be no reason to see these as symbols of something else. It is simply divine judgment upon mankind. The moon turns as red as blood. Stars fall to the earth. We have meteor showers all the time, but this will be a spectacle of catastrophic proportions, such as never seen before, nor, will be again. Not only is the earth shaken, but it seems the entire solar system is shaken. Only the divine could accomplish that. Hebrews 12:25-29 could be a reminder and warning to God’s people of what is truly important. The Almighty God is doing this in order to build an unshakable kingdom.

When faced with this divine judgment the people of earth flee from God. Notice there is no economic, social or religious group which receives special favor among the unrighteous. Each is equal before the judgment of God. Many times today, when we face divine judgment we flee to God – at least that is the heart of a child of God. Because of the hardness of heart by sin these flee from God and cry out for death rather than to face holiness. They cannot hide. Even in death they will face their Creator and His eternal judgment.
From whom are they fleeing? From the Lamb and His wrath. The gentle, meek, bloodless (because He shed His for us), Jesus Christ the Lamb of God.
For those who believe that God is only love, and would never consign anyone to eternal judgment, you have never read the Revelation or either have chosen not to believe it. The Revelation makes it quite clear that the One who died for our sins will also severely judge those who reject His gift of eternal life.

Who shall stand in the great day of His wrath? Only the redeemed of the Lord.
BEHOLD. THE WRATH OF THE LAMB.

Edited for tags by t.a. 03/26/10

WORSHIPPING THE ONE TO WHOM JUDGMENT BELONGS

WORSHIPPING THE ONE TO WHOM JUDGMENT BELONGS

In this chapter we will be reminded of God’s warnings of coming judgment, that the wars, famines, diseases, death, cataclysmic upheavals of earth, and such that happen now are only small in comparison to what will happen when the Lion/Lamb takes the Book and looses the seals. Havoc, such as no one has ever seen will plague the earth, and it is done by the “…One To Whom Judgment Belongs”.

And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals. 2 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? 3 And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. 4 And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon. Revelation 5:1-4 (KJV).

In this chapter John is still in Heaven. The twenty four elders and the four living ones are gathered around the throne.

Chapter five is a continuation of chapter four. Whereas, the focus of chapter four was upon the One who was on the throne [God the Father], the focus shifts to the Lamb.
There is a book in the Father’s right hand – the side on which Jesus sits. This book is sealed. It has been sealed from the foundation of the world. It is the declaration of ownership – the “title-deed” to all the earth, and creation. It is the revelation to a Christ denying, God hating world that Jesus Christ is Lord. It is the “title-deed” to all that God promised Jesu before He went to the cross.
It appears in verse two that it had to be a man who would be worthy of opening the book, “and loose the seals”, but none was found. The “Loud voice” of the “Strong angel” (a prominent angel) – probably Gabriel – implies urgency, an immediate need. This reminds me of the message to Ezekiel, “And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.” Ezek 22:30 (KJV).

What would happen if no one was found to open the book? This is why John wept:
1. All Old Testament prophecies of the Christ earthly reign would be voided;
2. Creation would remain under the curse of the fall;
3. The kingdom would never be restored to Israel;
4. The Bible would not be true.

No mere man is worthy to open the book the Father holds in His right hand. We are sinners, unrighteous and unholy before a righteous and holy God. Notice, that none were found who were even able “to look thereon” (v. 3).
In these verses we also see that there is no man worthy to carry out the judgment of the following chapters. God has said throughout all of Scripture, “Vengeance is Mine; I will repay, saith the LORD” (Deuteronomy 32:35; Nahum 1:2; Romans 12:19; Hebrews 10:30). No judgment that is done for holiness or righteousness sake, can be done by sinful man. It belongs solely to Holy God. “O LORD God, to whom vengeance belongeth; O God, to whom vengeance belongeth, shew thyself.” Psalms 94:1 (KJV).

And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. 6 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. 7 And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne. Revelation 5:5-7 (KJV)

John’s weeping invokes one of the elders to say, “Weep not”. There is One who is worthy. The appointed One, the anointed One. “The Lion of the tribe of Judah” – “Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? 10 The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” Gen 49:9-10 (KJV). The lion; a symbol of royalty, of power and supremacy, “Hath prevailed to open the book”. “The root of David”, “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:” Isaiah 11:1 (KJV). As deity He is the Root from which David came. As man, David is the root of His [Jesus’s] human genealogy, “Hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.”

The “Seven seals” begin to open in chapter six; the last seal is opened in 8:1 with the beginning of the “Seven trumpets”.

Because of His position as God-man He has authority and power to open the book. He is worthy because:
1. He is a near kinsman – He is the “Nearer Kinsman” – the God-Man;
2. He was a willing sacrifice for sin – willing to pay the price for our redemption (John 10:18);
3. He was able to pay the price.

When John turned to see the “Lion of the tribe of Judah”, instead he saw a Lamb. Where was the Lamb: He was in “The midst of the throne and of the four beasts and in the midst of the elders”. This is the position our Lord desires.

The Lord Jesus is referred to as “the Lamb” at least twenty eight times in the Revelation. “Lamb” identifies Him as the sacrifice [God’s chosen sacrifice] for man’s sin. In verse six of our text He is mentioned as being resurrected from death; “…a Lamb as it had been slain”. This Lamb “Stood”. Dead lambs do not stand. “Had been slain” is in the past tense showing a dead lamb now living. There can be no doubt about who this is. It is Jesus the crucified, pierced, and resurrected One.

The “Seven horns” represent His perfect power. The “Seven eyes” His perfect sight to see all the affairs, thoughts and deeds of man. The “Seven Spirits” His perfect presence (John 16:7). These are all in the person of Jesus Christ, the Lamb. Omnipotence, Omniscience, and Omnipresence are the theological terms used for the figures.

When the Lamb takes the book it will be the beginning of the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy of 7:13-14 and Psalm 2:8 as well as others. See Matthew 11:27 and 28:18. It is given to the Lamb of God to loose the seals of judgment upon the God rejecting, God hating world.

And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. 9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; 10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. Revelation 5:8-10 (KJV).

The Lamb is worthy of worship. Who does God say is to be worshipped? Only Himself. If God is allowing Jesus, the Lamb, to receive worship, what declaration does that make? Worshipping Him, you are worshipping the God of creation.

In Heaven God is collecting the prayers of the saints. They are collected as the odors of incense. They are a sweet smelling fragrance to Him. Our prayers are pleasing to our Father in Heaven, and He is pleased to hear and also answer them as it pleases and glorifies Him.

He is worshipped for four reasons (I got these reasons from Warren Wiersbe’s BE COMMENTARY, and the five hymns to be sung in our worship also).
1. Because of who He is – the crucified and resurrected One;
2. Because of where He is – in the midst of all creation (represented in the four living ones), and in the midst of God’s people (the elders);
3. Because of what He does – He opened the book no one else could open. He made it possible for singing:
a. The worship hymn – “Thou art worthy”;
b. The Gospel song – “Thou wast slain”;
c. The Missionary song – “Out of every kindred…and nation”;
d. The Devotional hymn – “A kingdom of priests”;
e. The Prophetic song – “We shall reign on the earth”.

It would be great if the music directors of our churches would all begin to follow this pattern for our worship of the Lord. My plan would be to open the worship service with THE WORSHIP HYMN. Something like, Holy, Holy, Holy, or How Great Thou Art. The GOSPEL SONG could be something like, At Calvary, or The Old Rugged Cross. There are many to choose from. The MISSIONARY SONG could be used as the worship in tithes and offerings, using songs like Rescue the Perishing, or Set My Soul Afire. Good DEVOTIONAL HYMNs could be, Sweet Hour of Prayer, or When We Walk With The Lord. There are some good PROPHETIC SONGs which could be used such as, Face To Face With Christ My Savior, or There’s A Land That Is Fairer Than Day.

And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; 12 Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. Revelation 5:11-12 (KJV).

In verse eleven we find a numberless multitude of angels. “Ten thousand times ten thousand” equals 100 million, but then “Thousands of thousands” mean millions more. They probably reach into the billions plus. Notice, their praise was to the Savior “The Lamb that was slain”, not to a baby in a manger, not to a healer, not even to a King, but to a “Violently slain Lamb”. This resurrected Lamb is worthy to receive full honors fromt he Father and all His creation. Notice, “The Lamb that was slain” is past tense and assures us that He was dead but is alive. He is risen. He is risen indeed.

And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. 14 And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever. Revelation 5:13-14 (KJV).

We come now to the fourth reason the Lamb is worthy of worship (See notes of verses eight through ten).

4. Because of what He has. He did not receive these things from people of earth. “Blessings, honor, glory, and power”, He receives them after He completes the task He came to do. I do not know about all who are reading this, but I do know that so many times worship services in our churches seem monotonous, mundane, sometimes even dreaded, and dead. It seems that the reason for that may just be the atttitude of the worshippers heart. Our worship is about Jesus. If we will keep our focus on the crucified, and risen Lamb of God true worship will be the experience of every worshipper. Give Him “Blessing, honor, glory, and power”.

The same things are given to the Lamb and the Father. They are actually given to the Lamb by the Father. The ability to ascribe worth to the Lamb by the creation and God’s people is given by the Father.

We can say A-MEN in our worship – SO BE IT. In these songs of praise we can come to a conclusion of how our worship on earth is done. Let’s worship Him. Let us be WORSHIPPING THE ONE TO WHOM JUDGMENT BELONGS.

LOOK WHO IS SPEAKING

LOOK WHO IS SPEAKING
Revelation 1:9-20

“I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, 11 Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea. 12 And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; 13 And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. 14 His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; 15 And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. 16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. 17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: 18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. 19 Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; 20 The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.” (KJV)

This chapter describes John and his exile, who the book is written to, John’s vision of the glorious Christ, a description of Christ’s characteristics as the risen Lord, an outline of the book (v. 19), and explanation of the stars and lampstands, in order that we may know, that it is God’s will that we understand.

The glory of Jesus is certainly seen by John and will eventually be seen by all who believe and are not fearful of this prophecy.
This book is seen clearly in this first chapter as being for the sole purpose of revealing Jesus Christ in His glory. No longer a slaughtered and dead Lamb, but a resurrected Lord, God and Sovereign King.
He is Lord of His Church and He will ultimately be viewed by all people and nations as Lord of all.
Peter Marshall said, “It is better to fail at a task which will ultimately succeed, than to succeed at a task which will ultimately fail.”

As we look at verse nine John identifies himself with those to whom he is writing. He is involved in the same persecutions and trials. He is also one of the kingdom and enduring in the “Patience of Christ”.
John, faithful and powerful preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ, was exiled by Domitian to the Isle of Patmos. Patmos was a prison island off the coast of Ephesus. It is said to have been an island where they used these prisoners as slaves for mining the mines on the island. Notice, John is not ashamed to write why he is being persecuted.

In verses ten and eleven we see John hearing from Jesus. John probably took every opportunity to hear God. “In the Spirit” simply means that he was caught up in Him in awe and adoration.
According to John Walvoord, “There is no solid evidence, … , that the expression used by John (The Lord’s Day) was ever intended to refer to the first day of the week. It is rather a reference to the day of the Lord of the Old Testament, an extended period of time in which God deals in judgment and sovereign rule over the earth. The adjectival form can be explained on the ground that in the Old Testament there was no adjectival form for “Lord,” and therefore the noun had to be used. The New Testament term is therefore the equivalent to the Old Testament expression ‘the day of the Lord’.” (From The Revelation of Jesus Christ by John Walvoord). I take it in the same way our brother in the Lord did. Most other times, in the New Testament, when they refer to Sunday, it is called “the first day of the week”. In Ezekiel 30:3 we have an example of “The day of the Lord”, “For the day is near, even the day of the LORD is near, a cloudy day; it shall be the time of the heathen.” John, being in the Spirit was ushered into the future to see the ultimate “day of the Lord” when God’s judgment will flow upon all the world.
This Revelation could have seemed as a nightmare were it not for the appearance of the glorified Jesus. John heard “A great voice, as of a trumpet” (SEE PSALM 29). What a voice he must have heard. One of conficence and power. One of conviction and authority. One in which he found comfort.
The voice spoke of the eternalness of Himself. “The first and the last” the “beginning and the end”. He is everything in between. The A to Z. The voice commands John to write what he sees in a book (biblion GK), and send it to the seven churches of Asia.

John turns to see Him from whom the voice is coming and is overcome by His glory.
John sees seven golden “Lampstands” and standing in their midst was “One like unto the Son of man”. “Son of man” was a favorite title Jesus used for Himself. It was also used by Ezekiel very often. It denotes a prophet called and chosen by God. For Jesus it was title that identified His as being human and subservient to God the Father. John clearly recognizes Him as being the resurrected Jesus.
Jesus in His glorified state. In these descriptions we see the character of Jesus; 1. In the midst of the “lampstands” as a priest (Exodus 28:2), the “golden girdle” showing freedom of movement by tucking up the garment when needed; 2. He is seen as is the “Ancient of Days” (Daniel 7:9), He is the wise and eternal God; 3. John then identifies Him as having “Eyes… as a flame of fire” – He is Judge, seeking out the motives and desires of man to judge the righteous judgment; 4. Brass or bronze are seen as symbols of judgment, and they are on His feet. Remember Ephesians 1:22. Look at Daniel 7:9 again; 5. He is Sovereign and authority. His voice was in the creation; 6. He is protector, caretaker, and provider for the “stars”; 7. He is the Giver of the Word of God, Wielder of truth; 8. He is the Light of the world. Look at Ephesians 1:18.

John’s response was to fall down as dead, thus being similar to Daniel’s experience in Daniel 10 (vv. 17 – 18). Daniel declares, “I retained no strength” (Daniel 10:8). The touch of Jesus must have been an inspiring assurance. The very Word of God that brings conviction also brings comfort (v. 17), when there is submission to the conviction of the Word.
Here Jesus is again speaking the words “Fear not” to one of His beloved followers. This is in all probability the first time John has seen Jesus since He ascended into Heaven. To hear those words again. What joy, what peace they must have brought to his heart during this horrible persecution. “John, I am going to work my plan and bring it to pass; fear not”. Those are words of comfort to us as well.
In Matthew 22:31-32 Jesus said, “But as touching the resurrection of the dead…God says, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”
Jesus’ words here tell of His life as man, as becoming dead, and rising from the grave living forever more. He lived in eternity past before He became man.
Having the keys is a symbol of authority. Jesus has the keys to eternity. He has the power, the authority to deliver from sins bondage of Hell. There is no death apart from His authority. By His resurrection He took the keys and has them for all eternity

In verses 19 -20 John is commanded to write, once again the things which he has seen. He is also given the outline of the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ.
Chapter one is the things which John has seen [past]. “The things which are” [present] are chapters two and three. Chapters four through 22 then are “The things which shall be hereafter [future]. As far as the prophecy of the Revelation of Jesus Christ we are still in the “Present” stage of chapters two and three which is the “Church age”.
In verse twenty Jesus gives us understanding of the “Candlesticks” or “Lampstands” and the “Seven stars”. If the “Lampstands” are the seven churches, then it stands to reason that the “Seven stars” being angels, means the angels to the seven churches are the pastors of each church. “Angel” means ‘Messenger’. The messenger to each church is its God-called pastor. It is the pastor who would stand before his congregation each Sunday morning reading and expounding the Word of God. He would be doing the same with this new letter sent from John. It does not seem at all likely, that an angel of Heaven would be the one reading these words to the local congregation.
Notice, John said earlier that Jesus was in the midst of the “Lampstands”. He is the central character of the Church (Matthew 18:20). He is to be found glorified in His Church.

In conclusion, we can see in the verses of this chapter that Jesus is the glorified One. He is the One who is, and shall be glorified in and through His Body, the Church.
We can see it is also His will that His people [the Church] understand the words of this prophecy. Only the wicked and unbelieving will be and are afraid and tremble before its teaching. It is a prophecy of comfort and encouragement to those who know Jesus.

Edited for tags by t.a. 03/15/10

AN ENCOURAGING REVELATION

I was working on my other template, hit save changes and lost everything. So I will begin reposting the study of Revelation, on this new template.

AN ENCOURAGING REVELATION

Revelation 1:1-3

It seems that the history of man has began to reach its climax, and because of this, it is of the utmost importance for all people to realize the greatness of Jesus Christ, His present and future power to redeem, judge and bring to fruition the completeness of His redemption.

It is the purpose of this study to reveal the Lord Jesus Christ as being alive, seated at the right hand of the Father; as the “Chief Subject”; the exalted Priest-King in chapters 1 – 3; as the glorified Lamb in chapters 4 – 5 and reigning on the throne; the Judge of all the earth in chapters 6 – 18, and in chapter 19 He returns to earth as the conquering King of kings; finally, closing the book ushering His Bride (the Church) into the glorious heavenly city; thus “UNVEILING HIS GLORY”.

The book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ has been viewed by many, even professing Christians, as a book of “Doom and Gloom”, as has also been the other apocalyptic book of Daniel. They are not. These are books of hope and fulfillment of our final joy – eternal joy. Let me insert this information concerning the title of the book. Some refer to the book as “Revelations”. Not to be “Know it allish”, but there are no plural revelations, it is a single Revelation. It seems to me that there is one proper title of the book, and it is given in the first sentence of the text, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ…”

The book is for our understanding. It is written where you must be familiar with the rest of Scripture, especially the Old Testament. It is filled with symbolism, which is open to interpretation, but by the work of the Holy Spirit a committed Christian can understand. I know that I will fall far short of excellence, but these will be my thoughts and understanding in my study, hopefully and prayerfully led by the Holy Spirit.

This book was written to encourage the Christians, who were being persecuted by Rome, of the ultimate triumph of Jesus Christ. He would conquer every kingdom of man that would exalt itself against Him.

This book was written while the Roman persecution was going on under Domitian who hated Christianity. He had exiled John to “The isle that is called Patmos”. This is where John received the Revelation. It was sent to, and read by the seven churches mentioned in verse 11. Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. It is a book for the Church of all ages until the redemption of mankind is complete.

We will see in the Revelation that it is truly of Jesus and His power to redeem, and that until its completion we, who are Christians, are to keep the faith of Jesus Christ. He will be faithful to fulfill the Father’s will in us.
Let me explain something before I continue. I believe the Bible teaches the rapture of the Church before a period of Tribulation comes on the earth. That that period of Tribulation will be a total of 7 years in length, and that at the end of that 7 years Jesus will come down to earth, set up an earthly kingdom for a period of 1000 years. At the end of that thousand years will come the Great White throne judgment where all the haters of God, “…Inhabiters of earth” will be judged by their works. I believe these things can be seen in The Revelation, as well as other Scriptures. I also know that there are a many good Christian people who do not believe that form of eschatology. That is their belief, and they will go be with Christ in the rapture whether they believe it or not. I will be happy to meet them there.

Let us look now at the Revelation. If we think about the time that has passed since the resurrection and the ascension of Jesus, it could have been as much as 6o years. The Domitian reign of Rome is nearing an end, and John probably needs some encouragement, as well as those to whom he will send this writing. The “Unveiling” is the unveiling of Jesus Christ in all His glory. It will show things which must “Shortly take place”. There are some who argue against the imminent [ready to take place] appearing of Jesus Christ. This is one statement for it. Jesus reveals the suffering and rejection He has endured. He will reveal His power and His glory which all shall see. It is a revelation given by the Father to Jesus to reveal what “Must shortly come to pass”. It is a message which is delivered by an angel to His servants for all the servants of Christ. “Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” Amos 3:7 (KJV). This apocalyptic message is to be revealed (Rev. 22:10), while the message for Daniel, in his time was to be concealed (Daniel 12:4). There is only one thing that John is told not to write and reveal, and that was the message of the seven thunders (Rev. 10:4). What was said there we may never know, nor should we even speculate.

There is a faithful witness in this Revelation. John’s gospel and epistles point out Jesus Christ as the Living Word (John 1:1), the Lamb, come to take away the sin of the world (John 1:29), and that He is God in flesh (John 1:14). John shows us Jesus very clearly as the Word become flesh, for the purpose of dying for our sins, buried, and rising again. He is getting a look at Jesus much unlike anything He has ever seen. The only thing that may have come near it would have been on the mount as Jesus was “Transfigured” in their sight. John faithful in his testimony and witness of Jesus Christ.

We come now to the first of seven Beatitudes of the Revelation. It is a promise of blessing, of happiness – that is what the meaning of “Blessed” is. What many churches and pastors are getting away from in worship services is the reading of God’s Word. There is a special blessing for those who will read the Revelation in worship to God. This blessing would apply, I believe in any situation. In our own private reading, in a Bible study group, corporate worship, or parents with children, and spouses reading it together. There is also a blessing for the hearer of these words. “So then, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” (Rom. 10:17). To “Hear” means with understanding putting it to action, which leads us to the third blessing. The keeping of this is to “hear” it putting it to work for encouraging others in the faith, and for our own stability of faith. It is something to hang on to, because the times are tough. “Do not doubt in the dark, what you have learned in the light.” One thing is certain and that is that “time is short”, “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.” (1Thes. 5:2). This is a book of hope for the Christian. It is a book of encouragment. These seven beautitudes are placed in the book to show us the light in the darkness of troubled times. Seeing that there are seven of the “Beatitudes” it means that our joy will be full, and gives us strength in the face of opposition.

We see that Jesus is central to this final book of the Bible. Were the Bible to close with any other book we would not have a completed picture.

The Bible begins with the book of “Beginnings” – Genesis and closes with the triumph of Jesus Christ, the redemption of mankind. A-MEN.

A-MEN.

Edited for tags by t.a. 03/15/10