The King Humbled by the Power of The Almighty

This study is Daniel 4:1-37

“Nebuchadnezzar the king, unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you. I thought it good to shew the signs and wonders that the High God hath wrought toward me. How great are His signs; and how mighty are His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and His dominion is from generation to generation.” Daniel 4:1-3 (KJV)

A STATEMENT OF PRAISE FROM A KING (vv. 1-3).

As we look at these three verses it becomes quite clear who is speaking. It is king Nebuchadnezzar. He has already been through the experience he describes, and is using it to glorify the Lord Almighty, or as he refers to Him in verse 37 “The King of heaven”. This seems to be the clearest testimony of a once proud, self-exalting king, who came to realize there is a higher King of kings who is worthy of praise.

In this chapter the king is sharing a personal testimony of his own experiences with God. If God had not changed him he would not be making this praise to Him. Nebuchadnezzar was a king. A king who had met the Lord, you might say in battle, and lost. Yet, it was a great gain for king Nebuchadnezzar.

I am sure the greatest humiliation the king experienced was not in praising the greater King, but during that time when he behaved like a beast of the field. Praise be to the KING OF HEAVEN for His sovereignty in the lives of kings, presidents, prime ministers, despots, dictators, and beasts and the common man.

THE TROUBLING DREAM OF A NOT YET HUMBLED KING (vv. 4-7).

The king begins sharing his testimony how everything all got started with his heart change. He tells that he had a very troubling dream. One which made little to no sense to him. He just knew it had a special meaning, but what.

He still has not learned who can know and interpret dreams, though. He calls for the ‘magicians, astrologer, Chaldeans, and soothsayers’ just as before, and just as before they failed to give understanding of the dream. It does seem that they do not try to deceive the king by asking for time.

At the time Nebuchadnezzar has the dream he is yet arrogant, proud, and has no confidence in the Lord GOD. Remember he has had Daniel tell him (because God had revealed it to him), not only the meaning of a dream, but also God showed Daniel the dream which the king dreamed. Also, God has delivered Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah through the fire, and from the fiery furnace. Both of these times Nebuchadnezzar has recognized the power of God, but not humbled himself before Him. “How long wilt thou refuse to humble thyself before Me?” (EX. 10:3),God asked of Pharoah, and though these exact words are not used here, the message is clearly the same. God is pursuing Nebuchadnezzar for His own. God is in pursuit of you.

DANIEL AND THE DREAM OF THE KING (vv. 8-27).

Daniel finally appears before the king. Why Daniel was last is beyond comprehension. You would think that Nebuchadnezzar would have called the one with the most notable success with dreams and interpreting as at the first. That does not seem to be what happened though.

The dream was of a tree. A tree of great height, and breadth. It seemed to cover the earth. In Scripture a tree seems to represent a kingdom: for instance – the tree which grew out of a mustard seed (Matthew 13:310-32); Jesus cursed the fig tree because it bore no fruit (Matthew 21:19; Mark 11:13-14,20), and the fig tree seems to represent Israel (Hosea 2:12; 9:10).

NOTICE THE CONFIDENCE NEBUCHADNEZZAR HAS IN DANIEL (v. 18).

We can be assured that Daniel was a praying man, and was well studied in the way of God. The request of the king was not as difficult as the first one, but Daniel still had to deliver God’s message.

After spending an hour ‘astonished’ and most likely praying he is troubled. Daniel evidently didn’t like the interpretation. He certainly did not like the idea of telling the king, “Let not the dream, or the interpretation thereof, trouble thee.” was the kings decree when he saw Daniel’s troubled face.

Prophets in those days could lose their heads for giving kings unpleasant messages.

THE INTERPRETATION –

First of all the king would become like a beast of the field;

“The order to fell the great tree was prophetic of temporary form of insanity known as lycanthropy in which a man imagines himself to be some form of animal. The word derives from the Greek lukos, OR ‘wolf’, and ‘anthropos’, meaning ‘man’. BELIEVER’S STUDY BIBLE.

Secondly, the tree represented Nebuchadnezzar;

Third, ‘Watcher’ and ‘holy one’ – God notices the proud of heart; is holy and will cut this king down to size;

Fourth, ‘they’ of verse 25 probably refers to the ‘watcher’ and ‘holy one’;

Fifthly, Seven times most likely is 7 years;

Finally, ‘Leave a stump’ – assurance of Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom continuing for awhile after this judgment and it being returned to Nebuchadnezzar.

THE PURPOSE OF THIS JUDGMENT –

1. To encourage Nebuchadnezzar to cease from sin;

2. To humble the king to recognize the God of all creation and nations.

Daniel calls the king to turn to the LORD.

UNWILLING TO YIELD TO GOD HE BECOMES A BEAST, AND GOD’S PURPOSES ARE ACCOMPLISHED (vv. 28-37).

How can we think that proud, haughty, arrogant people will turn to being Beasts. Think of Romans 1:18-32. Verse 21 says it clearly…

“Because that when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imagination and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

You can see the result of what happens when people refuse to yield to God, by reading the verses which follow in that chapter.

It happened to Nebuchadnezzar just as he was warned in the dream – a short twelve months later – a whole year. This speaks volumes of God’s mercy. God gave him a year to repent and change his way.

It happened on a day of his boasting. Watch out in your arrogance and pride.

How long was this judgment to last? “Until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdoms of men and gives it to whoever He wills.” (v. 32). No king or kingdom of men is without the sovereign, ruling hand of God.

Nebuchadnezzar turned his eyes toward Heaven ‘at the end of the days…’ . He praised and honored God as sovereign and having an everlasting kingdom (v. 34). Remember this is the testimony of Nebuchadnezzar.

He was returned to the throne. Ruling as a new king with a new heart. He had seen the True King – the King of kings, and Lord of lords.

Did the king change? Read verse 37…

“Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and His ways judgment: and those that walk in pride He is able to abase.”

It looks like a new king with a new heart to me. WOW!!! God can and will have His way in the hearts of kings and paupers and the common man, and woman.

Delivered; Pure and Bold

“Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the Most High God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire. And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.
Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent His angel, and delivered His servants that trusted in Him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God. Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort. Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, in the province of Babylon.” Daniel 3:26-30 (KJV)

NEBUCHADNEZZAR’S SECOND TESTIMONY TOWARD GOD.

 Please Note : Just because someone has seen God’s mighty works, and can testify to God’s power does not necessarily mean they know God on a personal basis. At this point in the kings life, he did not know God.

 God’s grace is so amazing toward Nebuchadnezzar and toward us all. This is the second mighty deed the king witnesses of the Almighty. The first, remember, was God revealing the dream through Daniel with its interpretation, and this is second; and at the scene of false worship.

When the king commanded them to come out of the fire – they obeyed. They could not obey when it came to worshipping an idol. They could, however, obey their king in other matters. This shows us that there is a time and place for civil disobedience.

When they came out of the fire there was not one single singed hair, nor a piece of clothing touched by the flame. They did not even have the scent of smoke on them or their clothing. When they came from the flames of that fire they were cleaner than ever before.

Nebuchadnezzar’s testimony has all appearances of genuine faith with one exception. You cannot legislate genuine faith. When you have a genuine faith in Jesus Christ you are secure enough in that faith to let the gospel do its work and the people trust God for themselves.

Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, alias Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego were promoted even higher in Babylon. I wonder how the snitch felt now?

NOTE: They were cast down into the fire and God lifted them out of it. In times of our fiery trials God is closer than at any other time.

By the fire they were cleansed, they were strengthened in faith, and they were exalted, and God was exalted.

GOD of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; the Father of Jesus Christ, and our Father because of the cross (the death) of Christ, His burial and bodily resurrection will not leave His own in the fire alone.  He purifies through the fire, making us like His Son Jesus.

Fiery Furnace of Deliverance

“Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated. And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Therefore because the king’s commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” Daniel 3:19-25 (KJV)

THE FIERY FURNACE OF DELIVERANCE (vv. 19-25).

This furnace was made seven times hotter than what it was. This shows that the king was angry at Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. They were trusted men in his court, but now they had failed him, so he thought.

Nebuchadnezzar chose the most ‘mighty men’ to cast them into the furnace. The Hebrews were bound and cast into the fire. These men’s faith never wavers. As they approach the fire the men who are to cast them in perish from the blazing heat. As the men enter the fire they have a very welcome visitor with them, and O such a Visitor He is. After looking at the two words in the old Webster dictionary (visitor, guest) it seems the word visitor would be best to describe Jesus’s appearance. This is from Websters Dictionary on “e-Sword”,

VIS’ITOR, n.1. One who comes or goes to see another, as in civility or friendship.

2. A superior or person authorized to visit a corporation or any institution, for the purpose of seeing that the laws and regulations are observed, or that the duties and conditions prescribed by the founder or by law, are duly performed and executed.

The king is the visitor of all lay corporations.

 The ropes burned from their hands, they were loose and walking around in the fire. You could say it was the fire which set them free, but only the One in the fire with them preserved them from the very same flames which set them free. Free in the midst of the fire walking around. There is no better freedom than that.

The king and others looking into the flame saw them walking around with no harm coming on them. They also see four, rather than three men in the flame. What sweet fellowship the men must have been having with Jesus. Yes, I said with Jesus. That is who that fourth man was.

Nebuchadnezzar probably would not have recognized the Son of God, but that is who the fourth man in the fire was/is – Jesus Christ the pre-incarnate Son of God.  No matter what the faithful child of God has been through, is going through, or will go through the Lord Jesus Christ will go with you through it.

Jesus died for you, was buried and He arose from that grave three days later; and He is alive today and those who trust Him will forever be with Him in glory.  He will get us through the fires of affliction

The Mockery Of A King; And The Reaction Of The Faithful

“Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Then they brought these men before the king. Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up? Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” Daniel 3:13-18 (KJV)

THE KING’S MOCKERY OF GOD AND THE BOLD STAND OF THE FAITHFUL (vv. 13-18).

The decree has gone out, “Bow before this image, or burn”. Everyone has, with the exception of three Hebrew youth. The king hears that his decree has been shunned by three. He becomes angry. Did you ever think that the one who turned them in for their apparent insolence could have been one of those ‘wise men’ who could not reveal the dream, thus became jealous of these Hebrews. Nebuchadnezzar mocks the God of all creation.

Take a look now at the one’s who were bold people of faith. Their minds were made up (v. 16) – they would not bow – no compromise; no need for empty talk – they would not bow.

They knew God could deliver them, but even if not – they still would not bow. They had rather burn for God, and let the light of their burning shine throughout eternity, than bow to an idol. And, God still has the flame that could not harm them burning as an example today. Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me bless His holy name. Amen. Do Christians have that kind of faith today. We know there are some, especially, if we are familiar with The Voice of the Martyrs ministry located in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. They share stories each month in their Newsletter/magazine “THE VOICE OF THE MARTYRS” of our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world who are suffering for their faith. Facing persecution from their governments, if they refuse to give up preaching Christ or holding worship services. In the face of that kind of opposition they continue. God bless them. May we have that kind of faith.

The so called, “FAITH MOVEMENT” says God wants to bless you with material things, and if you are not it is due to sin in your life. What happens when things are gone? God will bless you with Good health, if you rid sin (negative thoughts and influences) from your life. What happens when health is gone? Are we only trusting God when we are blessed? That is the height of idolatry, not faith in the One true and living God. May God forgive those who teach such heresy.

When you are called on to stand for your faith will you bow under the butcher’s axe or before the idol of comfort and love for life?

Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah had determined before hand, that they would not worship this image. How could they make that pre-determined decision and stick with it. There is one thing for sure, and that is, that they had prayed, and were continuing to pray. I do not think the Scriptures need tell us that; it is just simply evident, by their previous examples.

How can Christians today stand in the face of such trial? Only by maintaining a continuing fellowship with God in prayer, in His Word, and by being faithful in everyday living.  In a land and/or culture where everything is viewed as good, and right, except the truth; those who know Jesus, trust Him, and live by it need to continue to believe, trust and live by the truth.  Even when the kings, tyrants, despots, and rulers make new laws against us.  We must stand on the laws of God, and His word.  Just because something is “Legal” does not mean it is right.

The three Hebrews would not bow – even though it meant being cast “alive” into a hot fiery furnace. There are many professing Christians today who will not give up their comfort to be faithful to Christ by living right or giving up ten percent of their income as a tithe of their income, because they “Can’t afford it”. They can afford to get a new car, new house, or go on vacation to a new place. They just simply do not love God, and in the day of their trial by fire; they will not be faithful, because they have not pre-determined, by faith, to stand.

To Whom Will You Bow???

“Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together the princes, the governors, and the captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up. Then the princes, the governors, and captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, were gathered together unto the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages, that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up: and whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. Therefore at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and all kinds of musick, all the people, the nations, and the languages, fell down and worshipped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.” Daniel 3:1-7 (KJV)

THE IMAGE WAS A CONCOCTION OF NEBUCHADNEZZAR’S OWN IMAGINATION – WHICH HE MOST LIKELY CONTRIVED FROM HIS DREAM OF CHAPTER TWO (Read verses 1-12).

When I see things like this my first thought is of Psalms 2 where it is said…

“Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.” Psalm 2:1-3 (KJV).

Nebuchadnezzar has had this dream which Daniel gave him the interpretation as well as telling him what the dream is in the first place. Now he comes to the place of pride and arrogance and seeks to call all worship to himself, as the “head of gold”. He desires his kingdom to continue despite God’s clear prophetic message.

It continues today. Michael Drosnin author of THE BIBLE CODE says the prophecies of the Bible are warnings not predictions (see THE BIBLE CODE pg. 137).

“The Bible code is more than a warning. It may be the information we need to prevent the predicted disaster” (Ibid, pg. 149). “The message of the Bible code is that we can save ourselves.” (Ibid pg. 150).

Understand Michael Drosnin is not a follower of Jesus Christ, nor does he believe in the verbal inspiration of Scripture. This could have just been the thinking of the king of Babylon. “It is just a warning, I can change my own fate”. What God says will come to pass. Not one word will return to Him void. Hear what God says…

“And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, what is that proverb that ye have in the land of Israel, saying, The days are prolonged, and every vision faileth? Tell them therefore, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will make this proverb to cease, and they shall no more use it as a proverb in Israel; but say unto them, The days are at hand, and the effect of every vision. For there shall be no more any vain vision nor flattering divination within the house of Israel. 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 12:21-28 (KJV).

God’s Word prevails over the wisdom of men. It does not matter their stature or power.

Nebuchadnezzar was impressed by the God of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; but he was not yet a believer.

It would certainly be no surprise to learn that the image the king made was after his own likeness. If man makes an image of worship it is most often like himself, or a image of a lesser being.

There is another image mentioned in Bible prophecy, which, if people of that time do not worship, they too will be threatened with death; (Read Revelation 13:14-18).

 Pride is a destructive thing. It will lead to the downfall of any man or woman, boy or girl. Especially the pride which exalts itself over God and His Word. That is exactly what king Nebuchadnezzar was doing. He still had a great love for himself, thus, a hatred for the God of the Hebrews, and who was His Sovereign as well.

Pride caused the fall of the devil – See Isaiah 14:12-23. Also see Ezekiel 28:1-19.

Pride causes Nebuchadnezzar’s fall.

Pride causes the fall of Antiochus Epiphanes who first desecrated the Jewish temple.

Pride will cause the last world Gentile ruler’s fall as well.

GOD’S WORD FOR US, “BEWARE THE PRIDE OF YOUR HEART”.

Everyone was summoned to worship this image – but it is quite clear that all did not. There were three who stood firm in their faith, even in the face of death

 Look at the dimensions of this monstrous image:

  • Sixty cubits high = approximately 90 feet;

  • Six cubits wide = approximately 9 feet;

  • Six is the number of man; seven is the number of completeness; thus, man always comes up short (Rev. 13:18)

When I study this chapter of Daniel, the question comes to my mind, “Where was Daniel?” at this time. We know where Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were. They were about to face the heat of fiery trial. It was time they had to stand alone, ie, without Daniel. However, they were not without God – YHWH.

No matter what kings or despots concoct against God and/or His people God still reigns in the hearts and minds of all men, even the kings. Jesus Christ the Son of God, God the Son is the King of all kings and Lord of lords.  Bow before Him now.  You will later, but then too late. No threat, but the promise of everlasting hope; or warning of everlasting destruction.

GOD Reveals Thoughts and Dreams

 Daniel 2:46-49

There is a theme which runs through all the Old Testament.  That theme is “…That they shall know that I am the LORD…”  That thought is used at least sixty three times in the prophecy of Ezekiel; and other books of the Old Testament.  The king of Babylon was discovering who the LORD is.

“Then the king Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face, and worshipped Daniel, and commanded that they should offer an oblation and sweet odours unto him. The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret. Then the king made Daniel a great man, and gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon. Then Daniel requested of the king, and he set Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, over the affairs of the province of Babylon: but Daniel sat in the gate of the king.” Daniel 2:46-49. (KJV).

In Nebuchadnezzar’s thinking only a god could have revealed his dream, and told its interpretation. He did the thing that anyone with his thinking would do – he worshiped Daniel. This, most likely, was not amusing to Daniel, because he knew God was the only one worthy of worship.

Through this dream, and by the revelation of the dream the king is introduced to the God of all creation. Nebuchadnezzar does not put his faith in Him, yet, but he will later.

Through this dream also, Daniel and his friends are brought to the front of God’s rule and sovereignty. When God’s people follow God’s way; not matter their place inlife – God will be glorified.

2:44 One final feature of the vision records the ultimate reason for the dream. The vulnerable toes of the great image become the target of a stone which comes from nowhere. The stone has been ‘cut out’ without hands, and indication that the stone, unlike the great image, is not of human origin. Striking the toes of the image, the stone renders a crushing blow to the iron and clay composition. The entire image falls, being utterly destroyed in that fall. This stone, which ‘became a great mountain and filled the whole earth’ (v. 35), is identified as the kingdom of God. Following the destruction of the image, the kingdom of God continues forever in full strength. Apparently, the dream had several results: (1) the dream and its interpretation brought Daniel to prominence in Babylone with Nebuchadnezzar (vv. 46-49); (2) the dream further served as an initial warning to Nebuchadnezzar that he, though great, was not invincible, and must prepare for the ultimate dissolution of his kingdom unless he humbled himself to the true God; (3) the dream must have provided immense consolation to Daniel and the Hebrew captives, assuring them that ultimately God’s kingdom would be triumphant, overcoming all of the ruthless reigns of earthly sovereigns; and (4) Nebuchadnezzar was thereby introduced to the true and living God (v. 47)” (From the BELIEVER’S STUDY BIBLE).

Daniel was not self-indulgent either. He brought Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah into the picture too. The king gave Daniel many gifts; made him a ruler; chief of the governors; and all the ‘wise men’ of Babylon. There must have been much jealousy among those ‘wise men’ who had been in the kingdom for years, and had never received such recognition as this.

Oh, that the leaders and rulers of the countries of the world today would understand…

“The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: He turneth it whithersoever He will.” Proverbs 21:1 (KJV)

We get a start on knowing who GOD is by trusting His Son Jesus as our Lord and Savior who gave His life as a redeeming sacrifice for our sins; He died, was buried, and bodily arose; and He ever lives, and trusting in Him we live eternally with Him.

Revealer of Secrets

“The king answered and said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, Art thou able to make known unto me the dream which I have seen, and the interpretation thereof? Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, shew unto the king; 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…” Daniel 2:26-28 (KJV)

Please read verses 24-45

You would have thought that Daniel’s first response after receiving the dream and its interpretation would have been to immediately run to tell the king, “I know, I know”. This is not what he did, however. Daniel praised and thanked the God of Heaven and earth. After praising God he revealed to Arioch that he knew the dream and its interpretation. By going to Arioch Daniel was probably using proper protocol in appearing before the king. Daniel is still a teenager at this point of his life.

Arioch upon appearing before the king says, “I have found a man of the captives of Judah, that will make known unto the king the interpretation.” He lied. Daniel found him. Daniel did not much care who received credit for it, he never contradicted Arioch; he just plainly gave the king the message of the dream.

Before Daniel gave the dream and its interpretation, the king asked him, “Are you able to tell me the dream and its interpretation?”; to which Daniel responded, “No man, astrologer, sorcerer, magician, etc. is able, but there is a God in Heaven who reveals secrets.” It is also quite clear that Daniel was not doing this for personal recognition, but so that the king might know the thoughts of his heart. It also would save the lives of all the ‘wise men’ and Daniel and his friends.’

The dream itself was that of an image – Daniel calls it a “great image” which seems to mean it stood out from all others – it had a head of gold; its breast and arms were of silver; belly and thighs were of brass; its legs of iron; and its feet of iron mixed with clay. NOTE; the weak foundation. The rest of the dream was of a Stone “cut out without hands” which purposely fell on the feet of iron and clay and toppled the image. Now, Daniel gives the interpretation…

  1. The head of ‘Fine gold’ – Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian empire;
  2. Breast and arms of silver – represent the joint kingdoms of the Medes and Persians which conquered Babylon while Belshazzar was having a party (Daniel 5);
  3. Belly and thighs of brass – represent Greece which under the leadership of Alexander the Great would take possession of ‘the world rule’;
  4. Legs of iron – represent Rome ‘the iron legions of Rome’; Whereas the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, and Greecian empires were conquered; the Roman empire never was, thus the fifth world rule; which is yet to come;
  5. Feet of iron mixed with clay – Rome fell from within due to mixed cultures, and th inability to adjust and be tolerant – “iron mixed with clay”. This represents a future kingdom of earth which will be ruled, eventually, by the one world ruler referred to as ‘antichrist’, ‘son of perdition’, etc.

These all represent world Gentile governments. Gentile governments will rule on earth until Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah of Israel, the Stone cut out without hands, shall come and overthrow them, and He shall rule and reign on earth. One day all human governments will fall, and be crushed to powder, and blown away, like chaff in the wind (SEE v. 35). The kingdom of Jesus will fill the earth. Every tribe, tongue, and nation will come to Him.

There is a great significance with prophecy – this one especially – toward the governments of men. All man made governments will crumble and fall; yes, even democracy. It is a government of man that gives the people choice of who rules, but it is not the answer to the world’s problems.

“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.

Please do not take me wrong. I believe democracy is the best and fairest government man has ever devised, but it is still man’s government – not God’s . This 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.

The statue of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream shows the gradual decline of man’s form of government. A head of gold makes it top heavy and proud. Each section of the statue progressively becomes of lesser value, and weaker. Finally, we get to the feet – ‘part of iron and part of clay’ – a weak foundation to say the least. NOTE: where the Stone strakes to tumble the statue.

The kingdoms of men will be ground to dust and blown away by the winds of the Spirit of God. God will set up an eternal kingdom; ruled by His Son Jesus. His rule will be a Theocracy – ruled by God Himself; forever and forever.

(From September 29, 2006)

 

World History Revealed to a Captor King

This is one of the more lengthy chapters of Daniel, but it is also a very important one. Though this chapter deals with the dream of the king Nebuchadnezzar, it is one of historical proportions. This chapter sets the “stage” for the events which follow. The kings ego, which is most likely behind the building of the great image we will see later, the dreams which Daniel would see, and the events of the nations which would follow Babylon in world domination.

“And in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams, wherewith his spirit was troubled, and his sleep brake from him.“ Daniel 2:1 (KJV)

The distress the king is having is caused by the dreams he has had. Notice, it says, “Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams” which seems to imply his dream was recurring; maybe having it on a nightly basis or may have been over and over on a singular night. This was only in the second year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign. This was an arrogant and proud king. He was ruthless. Of course, most kings of the Gentile nations were cruel and vicious tyrants.

We are about to see how the Sovereign God of the universe was in control of the dreams of men/kings, the interpretation of the dream, and its fulfillment. Whether God still speaks through dreams in this study is not an issue this study will endeavor to answer. It is important for us to realize and believe that God did speak through the dreams mentioned in the book of Daniel.

“Then the king commanded to call the magicians, and the astrologers, and the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans, for to shew the king his dreams. So they came and stood before the king. And the king said unto them, I have dreamed a dream, and my spirit was troubled to know the dream. Then spake the Chaldeans to the king in Syriack, O king, live for ever: tell thy servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation. The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing is gone from me: if ye will not make known unto me the dream, with the interpretation thereof, ye shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made a dunghill. But if ye shew the dream, and the interpretation thereof, ye shall receive of me gifts and rewards and great honour: therefore shew me the dream, and the interpretation thereof. They answered again and said, Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation of it. The king answered and said, I know of certainty that ye would gain the time, because ye see the thing is gone from me. But if ye will not make known unto me the dream, there is but one decree for you: for ye have prepared lying and corrupt words to speak before me, till the time be changed: therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that ye can shew me the interpretation thereof. The Chaldeans answered before the king, and said, 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. For this cause the king was angry and very furious, and commanded to destroy all the wise men of Babylon. And the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they sought Daniel and his fellows to be slain.” Daniel 2:2-13.

After having this dream in a recurring fashion the kings command went forth for all the “wise men”, astrologers, magicians, sorcerers, and Chaldeans speaking of Chaldeans as “astrologers”.

Now, the king ordered them to appear before him for the distinct purpose of interpreting this troubling dream. It was troubling to him. It was an encouragement and blessing to Daniel and his friends. We will see why as we come to the close of this chapter.

In times past kings, and this particular king had always told the dream and accepted the interpretation from these “wise men”. That would not be so in this case.

Not only did the king ask for the interpretation, but he asked these men to tell him the dream. There is some question as to whether the king had actually forgotten the dream or that God had put it in his heart to test the ‘wise men’. Whoever could tell him the dream he had would also be able to interpret the dream – surely. “No man can tell another what he dreamed”. That was the basic response of these ‘counselors’ (v. 10). “Only the gods could do that, and they probably won’t” was there response in verse 11. You can tell anyone your dream, and they can give their interpretation of it. It may not be accurate, but it is an interpretation.

The kings mind was set. He would only except the interpretation of the dream from only the one who could tell him his dream. It was not ‘Business as usual’. It seems that he really did not trust his ‘wise men’; especially, with this very important dream.

These men began to stall, trying to obtain more time. The king recognized what they were doing and became angry with them. He commanded that all the ‘wise men’ be killed. By this decree he also condemned Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. They, evidently, had not been called upon to interpret the dream.

“The thing” of verse 5 is for ‘a word, command, discourse or subject. “The thing is gone from me”.

This could be saying, “I have given the command; it is firm”. He was speaking of the decree, that if they could not tell him the dream and its interpretation they would all die.

If this is a correct interpretation, then, the king knew the dream; he just did not want some flippant charlatans interpretation to the dream, and neither did the LORD God. This was wisdom given the king by God to weed out the false interpreters, and bring Daniel before the king – ultimately glorifying the Lord Most High.

The kings decree to kill was a satanic edict. “A man who determines not to compromise his life usually gets Satan’s attention.” (DAVID JEREMIAH from “The Handwriting On The Wall” pg. 51). Daniel certainly got his attention, and the devil wanted to kill him.

“Oh, the sin and folly of pretension. The emphasis is not to be put on Nebuchadnezzar’s wrath and cruelty, but on that which occasioned it. These sons of the colleges were trained and paid to interpret mysteries, and it is a reasonable to assume that the means whereby they could know the interpretation of a dream might also be employed to discover the dream itself. The fact is, they were frauds. The four Hebrews studied astrology to understand it, but not to believe it. Daniel 2:10 shows in one single sentence that all of the astrology and necromancy and oracles and dreams and mantic revelations of the whole pagan world for six thousand years are nothing but imbecilities and lies, and it proves that all the religions and arts and sciences and philosophies and attainments and powers of men apart from God-inspired prophets and an all-glorious Christ are nothing but emptiness and vanity as regards any true and adequate knowledge of the purpose and will of God.” (A quote by Graham Scroggie as printed in “The Handwriting On the Wall” by David Jeremiah pg. 51).

The death, burial and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is true, and will forever stand sure.

Educating 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; 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. 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. Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: 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.

O my Christian brother and sister today is a day we must stand as the youth of Daniel’s day.  Stand on the Word of God.  Stand on the cross; the death, the burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Stand strong.  Stand firm.  Love the Lord.

Prophets Speak – Christmas Day One Hundred Thirty and Three

“And it came to pass in the seven and thirtieth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, in the five and twentieth day of the month, that Evilmerodach king of Babylon in the first year of his reign lifted up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah, and brought him forth out of prison, and spake kindly unto him, and set his throne above the throne of the kings that were with him in Babylon, and changed his prison garments: and he did continually eat bread before him all the days of his life. And for his diet, there was a continual diet given him of the king of Babylon, every day a portion until the day of his death, all the days of his life.” Jeremiah 52:31-34 (KJV)

Jehoiachin was a king who “…Did evil in the sight of the LORD” (2 Chronicles 36:9) yet finds Nebuchadnezzar to be merciful, and releases him from prison, and gives him a seat with himself.

What do I want for Christmas today?

I want to always walk in the mercies of GOD, to behold His goodness, mercy,  love and grace; and I want all to know the same mercy, love and grace that has been shown to me throughout my whole life that has been given to all who will receive it through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ Son of God, God the Son.

Humble Yourself Before the King of Heaven

For the most part chapter four of Daniel is the writing of Nebuchadnezzar, sharing his personal testimony of a tragic, yet humbling, and redeeming time of his life and reign as king of Babylon. He had grown proud and arrogant (4:28-30), and the King of heaven brought him down.

The following are the final words of Nebuchadnezzar in the testimony he shares:

“Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and His ways judgment: and those that walk in pride He is able to abase.” Daniel 4:37 (KJV)

Pride is one of the abominations which God hates (Proverbs 6:16-19); called “a proud look”, and the king of Babylon had it. It is a dangerous thing to try and exalt oneself above the word, and words of God. The LORD had given Nebuchadnezzar warning through a dream of a tree being cut down; but he did not listen to it; he did not fear the word of the LORD.

How about you today? Is there a arrogant, proud mind, and heart where you are saying to yourself; “I am a self-made man. I do not need God.” That is the height of arrogance and pride. Every man and woman needs God, His mercy and His grace. He is offering it to you today through the cross of Jesus Christ His holy Son. Believe Him today. Humble yourself before God, and He will lift you up (Matthew 23:12; Luke 14:11; 1 Peter 5:5-7).

Humble yourself before God; and He will not need to abase you. Honor the King of Heaven with your life.

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.

The Surrender

“And Gedaliah sware to them, and to their men, and said unto them, Fear not to be the servants of the Chaldees: dwell in the land, and serve the king of Babylon; and it shall be well with you.” 2 Kings 25:24 (KJV)

Surrender is never a pleasant topic; especially for those with strong personalities, and stubborn hearts.

The prophet Jeremiah had told the people of Judah to surrender to Babylon’s Nebuchadnezzar, because he was going to come and capture the people, take the articles from the temple, and leave it in ruins (Jeremiah 27:12ff). Now it had occurred and a governor of Judea had been appointed. Gedaliah (Jehovah is great) was speaking words of encouragement to some people who had came to him seeking advice.

Surrendering to the enemy is not easy. Surrendering to God is often not easy, because we have our own ideas; our own way; and God’s way is not always what we desire at the start. The question is: Do we want God as our enemy? That is what we make Him when we say no to His plan, His way

In the end; this is not so much surrender to Nebuchadnezzar as it is surrender to GOD.

“Fear not” God will have His way with our enemy, and He will have His way in your life and mine.

Profaned

“O God, the heathen are come into Thine inheritance; Thy holy temple have they defiled; they have laid Jerusalem on heaps.” Psalm 79:1 (KJV)

This Psalm is another of Asaph’s a patriotic poet of the day.  One who had a heart for God, and God’s people.  One who was grieved at seeing the land of Israel defiled; profaned; by unholy feet and hands.

This Psalm seems to have been written concerning the invasion of Babylon, and Nebuchadnezzar’s leadership.  Of course we know this as the judgment of God on Israel for previously becoming unholy in their practices.  The prophet Jeremiah addressed this matter in his prophecy.

For those who have a heart for God and His holiness, knowing that it is God’s judgment on His own people does not ease the pain of seeing the unclean heathen nation coming in a taking it over; even removing the holy articles from the temple.

One thing we Christians can learn from this is that when a nation has been blessed by God, and turns its back on God, His word, His law, and His Spirit; then God will send invaders in judgment.

The Church has been profaned today by crossless, bloodless, Christless, unholy preaching.  Preaching that magnifies men rather than God.  It ought to grieve the hearts of men and women of God everywhere.  We ought to cry out with Asaph,

“O God, the heathen are come into Thine inheritance; Thy holy temple have they defiled; they have laid Jerusalem on heaps.” Psalm 79:1 (KJV)

In the Rule, and Fall of the Kingdoms of Men

…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 KING’S 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

Day 62 – The Wisdom and Knowledge of Daniel

That is right.  My reading today covered all of the prophecy of Daniel, and the first two chapters of Hosea.  We will look at Hosea in the next post.  God willing of course.

Daniel was one of many Jewish nobles who were taken by Nebuchadnezzar into Babylon as captives.  Daniel and three of his friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were chosen by the hand and appointment of God.  They were four young men who were willing to risk their lives for the sake of the commandments of the LORD God.

“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.”  Daniel 1:17 (KJV)

These were not young people who would be given to pride with the power and authority which was given them by God.  Many might say, “It was Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon who gave them their power and authority”.   Not so.  All power and authority comes from the God of heaven and earth.

One of the first test which came to Daniel was the king wanting the “wise  men” of Babylon to tell him a dream he had dreamed and its interpretation.  Of course the Chaldeans of Babylon had no clue as to the dream he dreamed.  Daniel, however, called on Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah to pray and seek God for the answer, and God gave it to them  (2:17-23).  Daniel went to Nebuchadnezzar and told him the dream and its interpretation.  It was a dream showing how the end of the earthly rule of the Gentiles would come about.

“And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.  Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.” 2:44-45

All the prophecies of Daniel were fulfilled just as Daniel foretold them; or are yet to be fulfilled.  The earthly kingdoms of men yet stand, but they will one day fall to the rule of the One who died on the cross for our sins, was buried carrying our guilt and sin away, than three days later He bodily arose and came out of the grave justifying forever, those who will believe in Him.

God tells Daniel to “seal the book, even to the time of the end” (12:4), and it seems to me that we are near the end, and the wisdom and understanding of the prophecy is becoming clear to those who will hear and believe.

Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God will soon return, and set up His earthly kingdom.  Know the wisdom and knowledge of Daniel.  Know the LORD.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 25 – What the LORD Does With Evil in His People

In reading through the Bible in 90 days there are passages which, to be honest, I find difficult to read; and today’s reading was no exception.  I am speaking particularly of 1 Chronicles 1 – 9 which gives us a genealogy from Adam through the Babylonian captivity of Israel.  I must admit that I cheat when I come to these and pretty much just scan the pages trying to take note of the main names.  Ever once in a while I will notice something I had not seen before.

The one main thing I noticed this morning is that there is more mention of Bathsheba than I had noticed before, in the genealogy, and that may be due to the KJV use of “Bathshua” rather than Bathsheba.  Bathsheba according to this text (1 Chronicles 3:5) is the daughter of Ammiel; who is known as Eliam in 2 Samuel 11:3.  There is also the famous Jabez in chapter 4; who prayed and God answered his prayer (vv.9-10). His name [Jabez] means that he was a pain in birth.

My reading this morning started in 2 Kings 21 and extended through 1 Chronicles 9.

The statement in the title “What the LORD Does With Evil in His People” is answered in 2 Kings 21 – 25.  The short answer to that question is – He judges it severely.  I will not just leave it there though.

The first mention in the reading is of Manasseh, son of Godly king Hezekiah who was a man pretty much after the fashion of king David.  Manasseh, however was a murdering, idol worshipping abomination to Judah.  He led the people of Judah away from the worship of Jehovah/YHWH.   He worshipped the sun, moon, stars, and all their supposed powers (21:5), he sacrificed his son to the fire (21:6), and to these things God will not turn away;

“And the LORD spake by His servants the prophets, saying,  ‘Because Manasseh king of Judah hath done these abominations, and hath done wickedly above all that the Amorites did, which were before him, and hath made Judah also to sin with his idols: therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel, ‘Behold, I am bringing such evil upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whosoever heareth of it, both his ears shall tingle.  And I will stretch over Jerusalem the line of Samaria, and the plummet of the house of Ahab: and I will wipe Jerusalem as a man wipeth a dish, wiping it, and turning it upside down.  And I will forsake the remnant of Mine inheritance, and deliver them into the hand of their enemies; and they shall become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies; because they have done that which was evil in My sight, and have provoked Me to anger, since the day their fathers came forth out of Egypt, even unto this day.’  Moreover Manasseh shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another; beside his sin wherewith he made Judah to sin, in doing that which was evil in the sight of the LORD.”  2 Kings 21:10-16 (KJV)

In 2 Kings we get our first introduction to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon.  He will be the instrument of God’s judgment upon Judah.  One of the things we should see about these things is that God is not pacified with good deeds.  We have seen a few kings of Judah who were pleasing to God David, Asa, Hezekiah, Josiah to name a few.  God does not have a set of balances weighing our good on one side and evil on the other; He judges sin, because He hates sin.  It separates us from Him.

God sent the Southern kingdom of Judah into Babylonian captivity because of their sin; but we find when we get through 2 Chronicles that He does bring them back to Jerusalem.  That is not a balancing of things; that is, however, grace.

The Son of God made it possible for all will call on His name to have eternal fellowship with the Creator of the Universe.  His name is Jesus

-Tim A. Blankenship

The LORD’s Greatness

“For I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way: because we had spoken unto the king, saying, ‘The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek Him; but His power and His wrath is against all them that forsake Him” Ezra 8:22 (KJV).

Ezra, a priest and scribe of Israel, was much burdened for the return of God’s people back to their homeland, and for the restoration of the worship of the LORD God.  They had been in captivity in Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar, and now Cyrus.

Ezra had made a big boast to the king about the greatness of God.  He would not require a band of soldiers for their protection.  He believed that in asking it would be a shame to the Lord, and show a lack of faith on his part.  The way to Jerusalem was dangerous; filled with thieves and murderous hearted culprits who hated all things good.

We can never do wrong in boasting of the greatness or our LORD God.  Boast of Him daily.  Boast of Him many times during the day, and during every hour and minute of the day.  You cannot begin to over boast of His greatness.

The LORD God is Almighty, full of grace and mercy, He holds the world in His hands, He holds the Universe in His hands, He smiles in the smile of a child and one of His saints.  There is no other god.  He is the only one.  He has made a way that all may come to Him, and that is provided only one way; that is His way through the cross of His Son Jesus Christ, the Creator of all that is.

Boast of Him today, all day long.  You will grow to love Him much more than you do right now.  Then put your boast of Him to work by faith.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Rebellion’s Consequences

The prophet hears and knows that judgment is coming. His heart is for his people, for God’s people. One of the sad things about God’s judgment that many find unjust is that the “innocent” suffer the consequences along with the “guilty”. Think of the flood of Noah’s day; there were babies who had never sinned, though they were born sinners, like all of us; yet these died in the flood. Another point is the faith of Caleb and Joshua when they had viewed the Promised Land their faith said, “God is able. Let’s take the land”. The unbelieving said, “There are giants in the land” and the majority ruled. Then Caleb and Joshua suffered the punishment along with the unbelieving. They too wandered in the wilderness for forty years.

One of the things you and I can learn from that is; our sins do not just hurt us, they affect others too.

Jeremiah writes:

O Jerusalem, wash your heart from wickedness, that you may be saved. How long shall your evil thoughts lodge within you? For a voice declares from Dan and proclaims affliction from Mount Ephraim: ‘Make mention to the nations, Yes, proclaim against Jerusalem, that watchers come from a far country and raise their voice against the cities of Judah. Like keepers of a field they are against her all around. Because she has been rebellious against Me,’ says the LORD. ‘Your ways and your doings have procured these things for you. This is your wickedness, because it is bitter, because it reaches your heart.’ Jeremiah 4:15-18 (NKJV)

Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21), and it was obvious to the prophet Jeremiah, that the heart of the people of the Southern kingdom of Judah was in the same condition as that of the Northern kingdom when the armies of king Nebuchadnezzar came swooping down with the speed of the leopard upon them, carrying them away captive. This is what the prophet saw happening to Judah as well.

We must know that a divided heart is a sinful, rebellious, self-absorbed, godless heart. The lips which proclaim a faith in God while giving allegiance to things; material gain, family, government dependence, self dependence, etc.; is a full hypocrite, pretentious, and gives no allegiance to God, who alone deserves our undivided faith, and allegiance. There will be occasions when the genuine believer will doubt, fear, and not believe; however they do not dwell there for long. The heart of the genuine believer will come back to the place of faith, return to the Lord and glorify His name, glory and grace.

The voice coming from Dan and from Ephraim are the events which has happened to them concerning their judgment. They have been conquered because their evil hearts. Jerusalem and all of Judah cannot continue to live in sin and rebellion against God, thinking we have the temple, it is God’s temple, He won’t allow anything happen to His temple. Such arrogance and pride is doomed to fall. Thinking; “I am a child of God, therefore God will not cause the judgment that falls on the immoral unbeliever, to fall on me” is a dreadfully deceptive notion.

Hear the voices that come from others. The Christians who are imprisoned because of their crimes against another, they are paying for their sins. Christians who have disease because of a sinful lifestyle they once lived; which could have been prior to or following salvation. There are consequences to sin; for the Christian and the non-Christian.

Because of rebellion and a continued refusal to repent these judgments are coming on the children of God. The wickedness of the heart is known by the All-Knowing God. He will not hold guiltless those who are guilty. The sin of the guilty will also fall on the guiltless and the innocent.

Why is it that there are some people who think, “Well, it is my sin, my action, I will take responsibility for it,” by going ahead and doing it, and say, “It won’t hurt anyone but me”. My how deceived we can become when we get into sinful living. Our sins affect everyone around us. Even the “innocent” pay for our sins.

The sin of the heart is a bitter thing. The heart is where we gain the capacity of love, mercy and grace. It is the place we hold those things and people who are dear to us. The heart given to God holds Him dearest, closest, and trust solely in Him for life, living and eternity. The heart given to God loves all that is godly and good. Loves all there is to know about God, His Son Jesus Christ. If you do not know His Son and love Him; you do not know God and/or love Him (John 5:22-23; 8:42).

How is your heart today? Is there any pretension or hypocrisy which is directing your heart away from God? Is there desire in your heart turning you away from God, redirecting the main focus to something, someone other than God and His Son? Jesus also said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matthew 12:34). When your heart is full of evil thoughts, and imaginations it will be speaking and doing and thinking those evil deeds. When your heart is full of God will you not be speaking the things of God? Most certainly.

Fill your heart with God, and God will come out in your speech and your life. Even when you end up in the judgment of God due to the sins of others, you will still grow in faith, love and knowledge and wisdom.

-Tim A. Blankenship

A False Count

“Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof. Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.” Matthew 13:31-33 (KJV).

Remembering the parable of the wheat and the tares will give us a better understanding of these two. The enemy came in under the cover of darkness, while men slept, and planted the tares among the seeds of wheat. When the wheat began to grow, there to be seen by all who could identify it, was the tares. The landowner said, “Let them grow along with the wheat, or you will uproot the wheat also.” The sower is the Son of man, the seeds which He sowed were the children of His kingdom, the tares are the children of the enemy who is Satan. The children of the devil are planted in the kingdom to endeavor to supplant the children of the kingdom, and overrule the kingdom of God.

The “grain of mustard seed” is said to be the smallest of seeds, and yet, it only grows into a normal size of about 6 – 8 feet in height. Jesus uses the mustard seed as a comparison to faith in Matthew 17:20; “…If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say to this mountain, ‘Remove from here to yonder place;’ and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”

Trees of great stature and structure are used to show political power through earthly kingdoms in Scripture. For example in Ezekiel 17:23, it is written, “In the mountain of the height of Israel will I plant it: and it shall bring forth boughs, and bear fruit, and be a goodly cedar: and under it shall dwell all fowl of every wing: in the shadow of the branches thereof shall they dwell.” This, of course speaking of the kingdom of Israel under the rule of Messiah. The kingdom and reign which all Christians look for, with great expectations. Note the tree which speaks of the power of Assyria and its world influence; “Therefore his height was exalted above all the trees of the field, and his boughs were multiplied, and his branches became long because of the multitude of waters, when he shot forth. All the fowls of heaven made their nests in his boughs, and under his branches did all the beasts of the field bring forth their young, and under his shadow dwelt all great nations.” Ezekiel 31:5-6 (KJV). The tree of Israel is like a cedar tree. The tree of Assyria has no like.

Nebuchadnezzar is likened unto a tree cut down. Before he is cut down this is how Daniel describes him, “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 4:12 (KJV). John the apostle writes in the Revelation of Babylon, “And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.” Revelation 18:2 (KJV).

According to Strongs, “G1186 δένδρον, dendron; den’-dron. Probably from δρύς drus (an oak); a tree: – tree”. According to Jesus, “…when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree…” The word “Tree” in this verse is for the Oak, and is no way what is expected of the mustard seed. One thing that can be seen in this is that this “Tree” is representative of political power. It welcomes every kind of animal under its bushes, because of its great size. It seems to indicate an irregular growth, an untimely growth, illigitimate growth, and an ungodly growth.

These two parables if you will notice are placed between the parable of the wheat and the tares, and the explanation of the wheat and the tares. This was intentional so that we might see His intent of the two parables. He is warning us of the deception of the enemy. We all like to see growth in our churches. Hopefully we mean by growth – people being called to Christ through faith in the shed blood of Jesus’s death, His burial, and resurrection. Too many times churches have crowds, members, and numbers, but no salvations. “But Oh, we had a great crowd. There was excitement in the air.” something along this line said, and everybody is feeling great; but is Jesus truly praised, worshipped, and glorified?

Many will read this and think, “This is sure a different way of looking at this than I have ever heard”. If so, I think that is a good thing. I know the other view or interpretation of it. That being, that the growth of this tree is representative of the growth of Christianity, and the numbers of people who are Christians in the world, being a good and positive thing. If that is so, however, then, it gets us away from the other two parables which have preceded these two. Jesus has just given us two points to consider in the other two; One, that the word of God is not received, and continued in all who hear the message; Two, that there is an enemy who has planted his tares [children] in the kingdom of heaven causing much dissension and division and ungodliness. This is the third thing, and it has to do with how the enemy influences the church within the kingdom of heaven.

The growth of the mustard seed would normally be to become the bush of an herb. It, however, becomes like an “Oak tree”. It represents popularity, power, prestige; and for many years Christianity has fit into that realm. When people begin to see that influence of power, popularity, and prestige sinking or falling away the people who are not genuine in their faith will also begin falling away. However, until that time comes the birds of the air and beasts of the field will continue to come and get under the umbrella of its shade, and nests in its branches. Too many times people are in love with Christianity, but not Christ.

How is it that the power, popularity, and prestige of Christianity has increased in past years. It partly has to do with politics. The woman, or religion (Christianity in this case) riding on the back of the beast, or democracy. The true child of the kingdom; the true Christian; is not in love with Christianity, but with Jesus Christ Himself. The power of Christianity in past years has been its numbers, the votes at the election booth. Every Christian has the responsibility in a free country to vote, and vote our convictions, not parties or politics, but our God given, Biblical and moral convictions. Another thing is when we are having popular singers, strong men, and show men perform acts of entertainment, for the crowds and for profit. There may be a message of the gospel presented, and due to emotional excitement, encouragement or a nudge from a friend, some go thinking, “This thing called Christianity is really exciting. I think I want into this thing.” Then, they find out afterward, that there are problems, tribulations, trials, and maybe they find something a little more exciting. What happened to their “faith”. They had never been told the cost of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. They trusted in a moment and not a Lord and Savior.

In the Christianity of today, we see many leaders of it calling for less rhetoric against the Muslim religion, and all false religions. It is okay to speak against “radical Islam”, but let us not put the whole group in that category. Some are even saying, “Let’s try to get along with the Muslim, and find common ground.” The only common ground we have with Islam is that we are part of the human race. The only thing we have in common with them is that apart from the gospel of Jesus Christ we are all condemned to hell. The only thing we have in common with them is that Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world; yours, mine, and ours. There is far too much compromising on the part of Christianity (the religion), going along to get along. This is not the day for compromise. We are in the greatest spiritual conflict since the cross of Jesus Christ. It is time to speak the truth, and to speak the truth boldly, courageously, without malice, without personal offense as is possible, and with love.

The devil likes nothing better than for the church and the kingdom to have an unholy, ungodly, supernatural growth. We are accepting people into congregations that call themselves Christian, but they have had no personal experience with Jesus. They are still in their sins, unforgiven, unredeemed. They have not been regenerated by the power of the Spirit of God, they have not been justified, there is no sanctification, and until they have these things they certainly will not be glorified in the presence of Jesus. There are some in the local church who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus, they do not love the Word of God, they are more concerned with the children’s activity than their time with God, and are teaching children, or not, “…because there is no one else willing to do it”, and what a shame. It would be better to have no class for children, than to have an unbeliever leading them into God knows what. In one church I know, they had a woman teaching children – all ages – who would spend 5 maybe 10 minutes of an hour with a flannel chart, telling a story of Jesus, then the rest of the hour they got to go play outdoors. These children had no respect for discipline. They pretty much did as they pleased under her “care”.

Now is not the time to be adding numbers without their conversions. “It is time for Thee, LORD, to work; for they have made void Thy law.” (Psalm 119:126). If there was ever a day the church needed to be pure, and shine forth the light of Jesus Christ, it is today. Let us not be so much trying to win souls, but like Jesus commanded us, “Go and teach all nations… Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you…” that is the making of disciples. Tell them of Jesus, His death on the cross, His burial carrying our sins away, and His resurrection; and the promises of His return. The teaching and making of disciples would include the Sermon on the Mount, His sending of His disciples to preach the gospel, the Olivet Discourse, and all things that He has commanded us. It would also include the teachings of the apostles, and the epistles of the Bible. But, then, when a pastor will preach the Word and the pure gospel of Christ; that does not bring in the crowds. I recently heard a preacher say, “If a preacher will preach the Word people will come”, which sounds much like, “If you build it they will come”. It sounds good and much like Hollywood, but it is not the truth. If a preacher will love the people, and preach to them smooth, encouraging, entertaining, comforting, messages, then, they will come. If the pastor “loves the people” he can preach just about anything that tickles their fancy, and they will come. Who is going to come to church services when all you have is a preacher who expounds the Scriptures, revealing the wickedness of men’s hearts, and the power of the cross of Jesus, and the power of the resurrection? Most times, only the faithful, who love God, His word and their pastor.

There have been a few times I compromised on some principles of my beliefs, but every time I have done so I ended up regretting it. It seems like each time that I have compromised on a Biblical principle, or belief, and I regretted it, that I always became stronger in that principle and/or belief. Should a pastor love God and His Word more than he does the people God has given him to lead, or should he love the people and neglect the Scriptures? How can you love the people if you have no love for the Scriptures? Teaching them the truth, the power of the Word, and of the personal God who is Jesus is the greatest love we can give the people. We should never compromise Scriptures or preaching the Word to gain popularity, or power, or prestige; or for any other reason. That is what the devil will have us do.

The Psalmist wrote in the song, “Except the LORD build the house, they labor in vain who build it.” (Psalm 127:1). Rather than relying on “fire under the altar” (1 Kings 18:23, 25) why can the church not depend on the fire of God? Rather than depending on the fires of men, where is the fire of God? We have left it at the altars, unrepaired, and undesired. We depend too much on the methods of the flesh. Then we have our own converts, but none to Christ. We have numbers, but no one fit for heaven. May God forgive us, and may we get on our knees, rebuild our altars and seek the power and the face of God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

God’s Answer to Habakkuk’s Questions

GOD’S ANSWER

 

“Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvellously: for I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you.  For, lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, which shall march through the breadth of the land, to possess the dwellingplaces that are not theirs.  They are terrible and dreadful: their judgment and their dignity shall proceed of themselves.  Their horses also are swifter than the leopards, and are more fierce than the evening wolves: and their horsemen shall spread themselves, and their horsemen shall come from far; they shall fly as the eagle that hasteth to eat.  They shall come all for violence: their faces shall sup up as the east wind, and they shall gather the captivity as the sand.  And they shall scoff at the kings, and the princes shall be a scorn unto them: they shall deride every strong hold; for they shall heap dust, and take it.  Then shall his mind change, and he shall pass over, and offend, imputing this his power unto his god.” Habakkuk 1:5-11 (KJV)

 

The prophet has asked, ‘How long?’ He has even insinuated, possibly, that, the LORD was slack in His duties of being God – particularly Judge.

God gives Habakkuk the answer, but not one he wants to hear. For seven verses God describes to the prophet what He has in mind for the people of Judah.

Basically, God says to Habakkuk, ‘The work you are about to see is going to be beyond your belief’. Notice what God tells the prophet –

Regard – or ‘look intently at’ – this would be a pleasure to those who Judah would call the ‘heathen’;

Wonder marvelously – amazed to the point of confusion.

Really take notice of what I am about to do, what is coming to pass. Mouths will drop open in wonder. Shock will accompany the wonder.

“Though it be told you” How could anyone who knew God think that God would use an unholy people to judge His unholy people.

It seems to me, that we see God’s sovereign hand here. God had intended that His people Judah and Israel be messengers to foreign lands; messengers of His grace, mercy, and goodness; but they had not only failed in that, they had become just as sinful and lawless as the ‘heathen’.

God was going to send some of His holy servants into the very jaws of the lion, the fires of Babylon, for judgment of Judah, and inform Babylon of the one true God.

In verse six God says the Chaldeans are a “Bitter and hasty nation”. By bitter it seems they have a hatred for Judah and ‘hasty’ seems to imply swiftness without much hesitance. They would possess what was not theirs and they would do it with all speed at their beckoning. It would seem particularly speedy since God was initiating the attack.

In our day we tend not to understand how God could use people like this to judge His people. It happens when God’s people have not lived up to the standards He lays out for us, and those standards are in His Word. God is not so concerned with our happiness or health, as much as He is our holiness, and most of all His own glory. He will do whatever it takes, within the attributes of His character, to make us holy. That is what He is doing in the nation of Judah.

The Chaldeans are said to be frightening, and they would put fear in your heart according to verse seven. The New Living Translation says, “They are notorious for their cruelty. They do as they like and no one can stop them”. They would be the source of God’s judgment upon Judah, however, they would get theirs too (See Daniel 5).

In the eighth verse we find that the Chaldeans/Babylonians will come with power and speed. They are also fierce, not only in countenance, but temperment.

Verse nine, violence and conquering is what they have in their minds and heart. They thrive on blood, the blood of their enemy, and that was anyone who got in their way. When you pick up sand in your fingers all of it cannot be kept there. This is almost like a randomness in some ways, but most likely means taking captives in great numbers. Captives of Judah.

Mockery will be on their tongues and in their hearts (vv. 10-11). Captured kings and princes – leaders will be scorned and some will die.

Walls built to resist their attacks will be overthrown by mounds of dirt laid against them. Because of his victory Nebuchadnezzar will attribute his victory to his god.

How pitiful it is when God’s people do not live by God’s Spirit and His Word. We bring shame to His name and pain and reproach to our name. O, how this must have pained the heart of Habakkuk. Do you think he liked the answer? May God forgive me.

This begs the question will God refrain from judging those who turn their backs on the nation of Israel today?  Will He count guiltless those who say that God is finished with Israel?  We could also ask, If this nation called the United States of America, was truly built on Biblical, Christian/Judeao principles and values; will we be any less guilty before God, than was Israel for turning their backs on God?

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.