Friday, December 20, 2013

It’s All So Unscientific

This story took place on the hot dusty plains of southern Africa during the dry season.

A new mission station had been built there, along with the usual little school building with its corrugated tin roof.  In the course of time enough students began attending the little mission school to make a mission vegetable garden necessary. 

Before long their garden took shape.  Acres of Cassava and Yams spread their leaves over the ground.  Corn and beans stretched out in long rows.  All looking tall, green and healthy. 

Every day at noon the local villagers walked down a road that bordered the mission garden on their way to pray at the shrine of a local god of wind and rain, believed by the villagers to be the most powerful god within many days walk from there.  Each day as they passed they would cheerfully call out their greetings to the mission students working in their garden.

For several weeks Pastor Larsen, who was the Director of the mission station, endeavored to convince the villagers that the real God of wind and rain was the God they worshiped at the mission station, that the god they worshiped at their shrine could neither see nor hear or bring wind or rain.  But few of the villagers were willing to listen to the “crazy” missionary.  After all everybody knew that the god of the shrine was much more powerful than the god of any stranger could be. 

And so the villagers continued day by day to make their trek to the shrine. And weeks passed, and no rain fell.  The mission garden as well as the gardens of the villagers, once so lush and green, began to turn brown and wither.

As the drought continued, the friendly greetings of the villagers as they passed by the mission on their daily trek to the shrine were now tinged with frustration and sarcasm.  “If your god is the one true God, why is there no rain for your beans and corn?” 

More days of dry parching heat passed.  Then one day at noon, as the villagers once again made their daily trek to the shrine, and elderly man called out to Pastor Larsen in a voice easily heard by all in the mission station and those on the road to the shrine, saying: “Good morning, Sir Director.  Has your god made any rain lately?  I see your gardens are as dry as ours.  You tell us that your god is stronger than the god of my village.  All right, then.  I challenge him!  We go to offer a cow and two chickens to our god so he will bring us rain.  Pray to your god as you will and let us see which god will work the strongest magic!”  Having laid down this challenge, the old man and the other villagers went on their way to the shrine.

Pastor Larsen called the mission students into the chapel for a prayer meeting.  As they prayed the wind began to blow and large dark clouds began forming in the west.  The stiff wind caught those clouds and began blowing them in the direction of the mission station and the neighboring village. 

The villagers assured that their sacrifice had finally awakened their god of wind and rain, were making their way back to the village.  When they came to the mission station, both groups, the villagers and the people at the mission awaited the onrushing clouds, both sure that it was prayers that were being answered. 

Just as the dark and rain heavy clouds crossed the border of the mission ground, they let loose a drenching torrent of rain.  And just as quickly as the rain began it stopped, for the rain ceased the moment it reached the opposite border of the mission grounds.   The villagers gazed in amazement.  On the mission side of the road all was wet and muddy.  On the village side of the road all was as dry and dusty as before. 

But God was not finished.  The winds that had blown the rain clouds over the mission station now reversed directions and blew those same clouds back over the mission ground.  And once again the drenching torrent of rain began and ended at the mission boundaries. 

Then God did it again.  Again the wind and clouds reversed direction and the rain made a third pass over the mission grounds.  And then for good measure God reversed the direction of the wind and rain yet once more before having the clouds melt away into the once again cloudless sky.

Needless to say, the villagers were impressed.  The god of the shrine was forgotten and the God of the mission was wholeheartedly accepted by the villagers.

God is just so unscientific.  Too bad He didn’t consult with a few knowledgeable meteorologists first.  If He had He would have known that rain clouds just don’t behave like this.  He would have known that rain clouds just don’t make multiple back and forth passes over the same exact piece of land dropping their rain exactly within its borders with every pass.  But this is what happens when the one fails to consult the “experts.”

Jeremiah 14: 22 Are there any among the idols of the nations that can cause rain? Or can the heavens give showers? Are You not He, O LORD our God? Therefore we will wait for You, Since You have made all these.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Prophecies of Christ- John the Baptist

Blue = Old Testament
Red = New Testament

Isaiah 40:3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness: "Prepare the way of the LORD; Make straight in the desert A highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be exalted And every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough places smooth; 5 The glory of the LORD shall be revealed, And all flesh shall see it together; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken."

Malachi3:1 Behold, I send My messenger, And he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, Will suddenly come to His temple, Even the Messenger of the covenant, In whom you delight. Behold, He is coming," Says the LORD of hosts.

Malachi 4:5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.

John the Baptist was born about six months before the birth of Jesus.  Both of their births were surrounded by a rather unusual set of events which served to publicize their births, for it was God’s intention to alert the nation to the arrival of their Savior.

Luke 1:5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years. 8 So it was, that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of his division, 9 according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.

Zacharias’ duty was that described by Moses in Exodus 30:7-8

Luke 1:10 And the whole multitude of the people was praying outside at the hour of incense.

This sets the general scene of the place and time of the announcement of John’s birth by the angel. As can be seen there were to be many witnesses to the event.

Luke 1:11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. 15 "For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. 16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, 'to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,' and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."

The message could hardly have been any clearer. John was to be “The voice of one crying in the wilderness.” (Isaiah 40:3).  Who else was to come “in the spirit and power of Elijah?” None other than the messenger spoken of by the prophets.  Who else was “to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.?" None other than that voice crying in the wilderness.  “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the LORD.” “Behold, I send My messenger, And he will prepare the way before Me.” “Behold, I will send you Elijah.” (Isaiah 40:3 Malachi 3:1, 4:5).
The message given to Zacharias by the angel could only mean that John was to be that messenger, that voice.

Luke 1:18 And Zacharias said to the angel, "How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years."

More miracles and signs were to be given to direct attention to this birth. Because of their age the birth of a son to them would have been in itself a most unusual event, but on top of this yet another sign was to be given.  In response to Zacharias’ question the angel identified himself as Gabriel and added that Zacharias would be unable to speak until the birth of John.

When Zacharias came out of the temple it was rather obvious to the people waiting outside that something unusual had happened to him while in the temple, and although Zacharias could not speak, he could write, and undoubtedly did so.

So the announcement was given and it was heard, nevertheless it went largely unheeded.  Despite of all the unusual events and public nature of signs surrounding the birth of John, some years later when John had grown and began preaching his identity and authority to do so was questioned by the very ones who above all others should have known these things.

John 1:22 Then they said to him, "Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?" 23 He said: "I am 'The voice of one crying in the wilderness: "Make straight the way of the LORD,"' as the prophet Isaiah said." 24 Now those who were sent were from the Pharisees.

Now some of you may be tempted to look with contempt at the religious leaders of the day saying to yourselves, “How could they have been so blind? How could they not have known the prophecies and seen that they were being fulfilled?  If I had lived back then I would not have done as they did, etc.”  Yet are we any better than they? Consider the words of Jesus.

Matthew 23:29 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, 30 and say, 'If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.'”

What about it, have you ever  been tempted to say with the scribes and Pharisees “If we had lived in the days of …”?  If so, then perhaps a little humility on our part may be called for. We are not so different from them after all.

John had earlier denied that he was Elijah.

John 1:21 And they asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the Prophet?" And he answered, "No."

And he was not in that he and Elijah were two different individuals.  However John cam in the spirit and power of Elijah and in that sense he was Elijah. 

Matthew 11:7  As they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 8 But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed, those who wear soft clothing are in kings' houses. 9 But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet. 10 For this is he of whom it is written: 'Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You.' 11 Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 "For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come. 15 He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

2 Kings 1: 7 Then he said to them, "What kind of man was it who came up to meet you and told you these words?" 8 So they answered him, "A hairy man wearing a leather belt around his waist." And he said, "It is Elijah the Tishbite."

Matthew 3:4 And John himself was clothed in camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey.

Matthew 3:13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him.

And again prophecy meets it reality, the shadow its substance.  Prophecy had said concerning ministry of John the Baptist, “The glory of the LORD shall be revealed, And all flesh shall see it together; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken." (Isaiah 40:5).We find at least a partial fulfillment of this at Christ’s baptism.

Matthew 3:16 When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

Psalm 2:7 "I will declare the decree: The LORD has said to Me, 'You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.

Monday, December 9, 2013

A “Jesus Loves Me” Miracle Story

On her fortieth birthday, Sandi found herself traded in by her husband "for two twenties," as the not-so-funny joke goes. Her struggle to raise three elementary-age children alone was anything but funny. Trying to juggle the needs of three children and holding down two full time jobs to make massive house payments sapped her strength and her health.

Sandi had never wanted to be an independent woman. To go it alone became more and more unthinkable. Late at night when the children were sleeping, her thoughts turned toward suicide as the solution. If she could be brave enough to end it all - ah, sleep in total peace - her children would be better off without her. She knew she could count on her parents to raise her babies. In her twisted, pain-filled mind, Sandi believed suicide was the most loving gesture she could do for everyone. Satan had turned her world inside out and upside down. Now he had done the same with her thinking.

One night as a winter snowstorm pelted Sandi's home, the woman decided she could not face another day. With a bottle of sleeping pills in one hand and a bottle of alcohol in the other, she went to the phone to ask her mother to come over and watch the children for a few hours. She would ingest the cocktail of poison when she hung up the phone. By the time her mother arrived, it would be too late.

"Instead of getting a dial tone, Sandi heard someone singing on the line, "Jesus loves me, this I know; for the Bible tells me so."

Impossible, she thought. I have a private line. Thinking the anomaly might be due to the storm in the area, she hung up the receiver. A minute or two later she returned to the phone.

Again she heard a little child singing, "Jesus loves me this I know … "

Sandi waited ten minutes and tried again to place her call. "… Little ones to Him belong; they are weak, but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me ..." When the truth of the child's simple words broke through her frazzled brain, she hung up the receiver, dumped the booze down the sink, and returned the sleeping pills to the medicine chest.

The phenomenon continued for many days. Whenever she tried to place a call, she heard, "Yes, Jesus loves me..."

This quirky little miracle triggered Sandi's desire to get reacquainted with the God who loved her so much He's rather die than live without her. Her slow, step-by-step journey took her beyond a mere moment with God each morning and evening. She knew her very survival depended on her diving into this God-thing heart first.

When she stumbled across Jeremiah 3:14, the passage in which God promises to be her husband, Sandi thought, All right! I am going to romance God in the same manner I would if He were courting me. She tidied up her hair-do, spruced up her wardrobe, and restyled her mental outlook. These changes alone improved her daily attitude. Another change she made was to think of Scripture as a love letter from her Intended - instead of a prescription drug to take twice a day.

Her worship, both at church and at home, improved. Whenever she found herself in her Lover's presence, she purposely blotted out everything and everybody else except Him. Before long her expression became radiant from the inside out. She didn't need five layers of Cover Girl to mimic good health and youthful vigor. She's fallen in love with her new Husband and, in doing so, discovered the secret of living in a fabulously new environment - in the essence of His presence. Did all her difficulties disappear overnight? Of course not! But with confidence in her new Spouse, she knew they could see through the difficulties together.

1 John 4:19 We love him, because he first loved us.

Jeremiah 31:3 The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Prophecies of Christ's Birth

Red = Old Testament
Blue = New Testament

Genesis 3: 14-15 So the LORD God said to the serpent: … “I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel."

This is the first Messianic prophecy in the Bible and God’s first revealing of His plan for their salvation. From the very gates of Eden God announced the coming of a Savior, a Redeemer who would prevail over Satan and set His people free.  In these cryptic words God outlines the climactic battle between good and evil, between Christ and Satan.  Satan would strike at Jesus like a serpent, but in the end it is Satan who would be crushed. 

This precious promise of the seed was passed on from generation to generation.  To Abraham God said, "In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 22:18).  Years later God repeated the promise to Isaac saying again, “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” (Genesis 26:4).

Turning to Galatians 3:16 we read, “Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, "And to seeds," as of many, but as of one, "And to your Seed," who is Christ.”

God had told Abraham to take his only son Isaac and offer him up as a burnt offering.  This Abraham set out to do. This entire drama was a passion play.  This scene was acting out the sacrifice of the only begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ, which was yet to occur far in the future.  At the same time the death to which Isaac was headed represented the death awaiting all sinners. And as Christ offered Himself in the place of man, paying the penalty of death for our sins, even so was the ram that was found caught in a thicket offered up in place of Abraham’s son Isaac.

Genesis 22:8 And Abraham said, "My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb.

And indeed He did.  The ram for Isaac and Christ for all the world.  Jesus is the Lamb of God who died in our place. 

Again through Moses, when the children of Israel were being led through the wilderness, God renwed the promise of a Savior.

Deuteronomy 18:15 "The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear …18 I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. 19 And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him.”

This promised prophet is none other than Christ. Peter, under the inspiration of God, speaking to the multitudes at the gate of the Temple said, "For Moses truly said to the fathers, 'The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’ Yes, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days. You are sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, 'And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities." (Acts 3:22-26).

From Adam to Abraham to Moses the promise had been given, yet more was to come. Prophecy after prophecy of Chr4ist was to be given.  Not in vague generalities, but in very specific language.  The whole of His life from conception to resurrection and beyond was to be given in such detail that there could never be any doubt by any who fatefully searched the Scriptures that Jesus was the Son of God, the Savior of the World.

Numbers 24:17, 19 There shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel … Out of Jacob shall come he that shall have dominion.

Isaiah 11:1  And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots 2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD 3 And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: 4 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. 5 And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.

Jeremiah 23:5 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. 6 In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.

Little by little, piece by piece the details of Christ’s advent are given, or as Scripture says, “line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.” (Isaiah 28:13).  Those who search the Scriptures with an open heart and mind, truly seeking knowledge will not be disappointed.  They will find the truth they seek. But those who do not seek truth, who do not open their hearts and minds to the guiding of God will not find truth, only confusion.

Christ, the prophecies say, was to come out of the tribe of Judah and more specifically, as it was later revealed, Christ was to come from the house of David.

Psalm 40:6  Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. 7 Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, 8 I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart. 9 I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O LORD, thou knowest. 10 I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation.

Nearly two thousand years ago these words were spoken in heaven, from the very throne of God they came.

Hebrews 10:5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: 6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure 7  Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.

The announcement is given, the time has come, the secret of eternal ages is about to be told.  The Hold Son, the Creator Himself is about to visit the earth, to become one like us.  God is about to become man.  His great glory before which all the earth would perish He shrouds in a human body.  He is about to become one of us that we may come to him.

Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Matthew 1:20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. 22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying 23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

From the very first, from the moment of conception Christ’s life upon this earth was to be clearly marked by signs which would identify Him as the Son of God.

Micah 5:2 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

Yes, there were plenty of signs for any who took the time to look for them.  The leaders of Israel, and any who have read the Scriptures to this day, have no excuse for not accepting Christ as the promised savior.  The religious leaders of the day knew these prophecies and knew to whom they were to refer.  But there were many born in Bethlehem and Christ was but one of them, and the story of the virgin birth may not have been believed or even heard by many.  But there was more.  Already John had been born, and the strange events surrounding his conception and birth were well known to many.

To the priests first the message had been given. The coming of the Lord was soon, very soon indeed, for John was to be the herald of the Lord. But the prophecies do not stop here.  God through the prophets goes on to give all the evidence anyone could need.  Nothing is lacking that might help even one to believe.

Genesis 49:10 The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.

Psalm 89:3 I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant, 4 Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations. Selah.

Yes, the signs of the times were there for all who were willing to read.  Already the scepter had departed from Israel, for Herod their king was not an Israelite, but was of Edom, and he held his position and power in Israel by Roman authority.  Thus by the sure word of prophecy the Messiah was already born.  Nothing had been left in doubt.  Christ the seed of David, the seed of Abraham, was born of a virgin into the tribe of Judah in the house of David in the town of Bethlehem at the very time the scepter was departing from Israel.

Isaiah 60:3 And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. … 6 The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall shew forth the praises of the LORD.

Now once again the attention of the priests and the scribes of Israel was turned to the prophecies of Christ, and rather forcibly this time.  Wise men, men whom the Jews considered heathen, had come to Jerusalem seeking the Christ.

Matthew 2:1  Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

Such an event did not go unnoticed.  It was definitely did not go unnoticed by Herod who was then king of Israel.

Matthew 2:3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. 5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, 6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

By now it would have been very difficult indeed for the priests not to know that something was happening.  But it was men from heathen nations who were to honor the new born king, not the leaders of Israel. 

Matthew 2:11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

The prophecies are sure, and if one only looks they will be amazed at how much is told in every line.  Throughout the Old Testament the prophets continue to speak, each giving ever more information to the searcher that they may believe, telling not only of Christ but also of the event connected with His advent. Christ Himself referred people to the prophecies as proof that He was indeed the Son of God.  When John the Baptist inquired whether or not Jesus was the Messiah the answer was given in the fulfillment of prophecy.

Isaiah 35:5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. 6 Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.

Luke 16: 31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

The prophecies are the proof.  So let the prophecies speak, compare them line by line with the life of Jesus and nothing will be found lacking.  It is of the utmost importance that you believe on Jesus, for therein lies your salvation.  Therefore nothing has been left undone which might help even one honest seeker to believe.

Jeremiah 31:15 Thus saith the LORD; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rahel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.

Matthew 2: 16  Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, 18 In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

Already the forces of evil were arranged against Jesus.  Israel may not have recognized Him but Satan certainly did.  Satan know who Jesus was and attempted through Herod to destroy him.  But Jesus was not to be killed as a child, so Satan failed.

Hosea 11:1 When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.

Matthew 2:13  And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. 14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: 15 And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son. … 19  But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life.

When Jesus was born it was the wise men from the east who sought Him to honor Him.  His own people did not recognize Him.  Now it was in another heathen nation, Egypt, where the young Christ found refuge.  He, the Christ, was not safe in His own country.

The early days of Christ’s life here on earth was much like the early days of the children of Israel.  As Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had lived in the land which was one day to become the nation of Israel, even so Christ was born there. And as the twelve sons of Israel, their families, their father, and their servants went into Egypt and tarried for a time until they were called out by God, even so did the young Christ go into Egypt for a time.  And as God through Moses called his people out of Egypt to lead them to the promised land, even so did God give word to Joseph that Herod was dead and called his Son back to Israel.

Judges 13:5:For the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel.

Matthew 2:23 And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.

John 1:45 Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.

Now if you look up Judges 13:5 you may well wonder how this could be a considered a prophecy of Christ when it is so obviously speaking of Samson. This is a case of typology, where people and events recorded in the Old Testament serve as prophetic types and symbols of Christ. Samson was to be a deliverer of Israel and as such he was a type of symbol of Jesus who is The Deliverer of Israel. 

And this is just the tip of the iceberg.  There is so much more in Scripture concerning Christ that it is not possible to put them all here in a single post.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Jesus' Family Tree

This is a look at the spiritual messages hidden in Jesus' family tree as given in Matthew 1:1-16.

Imagine for a moment if you will that God has asked you to design Jesus' family tree. What kind of people would you put in it? Who would you choose? Would you choose the very best of the best, the real giants of faith? Apparently God had other ideas.

Nobody is surprised to find that Abraham (the father of the faithful) is at the head of the list. After all in Romans 4:20-21 we read of him that "He (Abraham) did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform."

And yet there was a time when Abraham's faith did stager at the promise of God. You know the story. God promised Abraham and Sarah a son. But years passed, and then decades, and finally they decided that they needed to help God out before it was too late. And so Hagar enters the picture. More years pass. Abraham and Sarah are both old, even by the standards of their day when people lived a lot longer. And then finally at long last God came one day and told them that by this time next year Sarah would bear a son. Their response to the news was to laugh at God. It just could not be. Not at their age. But the promised son was given, and because they laughed his name was called Isaac, which means laughter.

I believe that Abraham is in Jesus' family tree, not so much because his faith was so strong, but for all of us whose faith has staggered at times at the very immensity of God's promises, for those of us who look at the promises and see all the impossibilities. For those of us who like the man who brought his son to Jesus at the foot of the mount of transfiguration, who find that we need to pray as he did, "Lord I believe, help me to believe." He is there to let us know that we too can through Christ learn to believe and to trust and to hope.

And Isaac begot Jacob. Jacob, the very name means deceiver. He was a con-artist. While with one hand he reached for the blessings of God, with the other he grasped for all that the world could give. He represents all of us who have ever found ourselves seated firmly on the fence, in the midst of a tug-of-war with God on one side and the world on the other. He is there to let us know that there is hope, that if we will but surrender ourselves to God we too can have victory over the alluring attractions of the world.

And Jacob begot Judah and his brothers. And the question is, just where do we begin? Judah, as you may remember, in a fit of jealousy, along with ten of his other brothers sold his younger brother (Joseph) into slavery. Sometime later, with hormones raging, he mistook his daughter-in-law (Tamar) as a prostitute and got her pregnant. And this was one of Christ's ancestors? What in the world was God thinking?

And Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar. Now here's a question for you. Judah still had one son living who was born through a legitimate marriage relationship. Why then did God choose to bring his family tree through the son of a forbidden relationship? Could it be that God chose to bring his linage down through Perez for the sake of all those who are born out of wedlock? For all those whose parentage is questionable, that they might know that however scrambled or uncertain their earthly relationships, that in heaven they do have a Father, a Father who would love to call them His sons and daughters.

And beginning with Perez we come to a list of names of whom we know nothing. They live out their lives in Egyptian bondage. They never received their 15 minutes of fame. They just lived day to day in mind numbing drudgery, just trying to survive and to live another day. They are for the countless millions who seem to be trapped in circumstances beyond their control, for all those who look to the future and see no way out. They are there, in Jesus family tree, to let people know that though they may be forgotten by the world, God remembers. He knows who they are. He knows their names. He has not forgotten them.

And Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab. Why Rahab? First of all she was a prostitute. (Strike 1). More than that, she was bred, born, and raised an idolater. (Strike 2). She was of the old Canaanite race. (Strike 3). Three strikes and you're out, right? -- But not in God's book! -- I believe that Rahab is there in Jesus' family tree to show us that there is no place or circumstance of birth that can place us beyond the reach of the saving arm of God. It doesn't matter where we were born. It doesn't matter what culture we were brought up in. It doesn't even matter what we have done with our life. The message of Rahab is that God is able to reach us wherever were are and that there are no circumstances on this earth that can keep Him from saving the soul that honestly seeks after God.

And David. We could write a book on David and many people have. The Bible calls him a man after God's own heart, and yet his life is marred by some of the most blatant sins to be found in the Bible. He is there for all of us who have stumbled and fallen in our walk with God and have really really really blown it big. For all of us who feel that we have sinned so badly that God can't possible take us back, God puts David in his family tree to let us know that in Christ we can be accepted into the family of God. That He is a much much bigger Savior than we can ever possibly be a sinner.

David's great sin as you know was his affair with Bathsheba. Not only did he have an affair with another man's wife, he sunk so low as to commit murder to cover it up. Now David had many legitimate children through other marriages. Why then did God take the family tree of Jesus through Solomon the son of Bathsheba and David? Why bring His family tree through that sorry relationship? Could it be that God looking down through the ages and seeing all the broken homes, husbands deserting their wives and wives their husbands, and all the sorry tangled messes that we make of our lives. Could it be that God looking down through the ages and seeing all this took his linage through David, Bathsheba and Solomon to show us that however tangled, however awful a mess we have made of our homes and our relationships, He is more than able to make things right again. That we can still have hope.

And as for Solomon, he started out ok with a close walk with God, but before his reign had ended he had backslidden so far that he was setting up pagan idols and alters in the sight of the temple he had built for the Lord. But God saved him from his backsliding, showing that there is real hope for all of us backsliders. Solomon is there to show us that no matter how far we have backslidden, we have not strayed so far that God can't find us. The Good Shepherd will seek his lost sheep.

And the list goes on through the kings of Judah. Not exactly a list of spiritual giants. Too many to look at them all, but one that we must consider; Manassah the son of Hezekiah. The man was a monster by any definition of the word. He is easily the single most evil king ever to reign over either Judah or Israel. The Bible says speaking of Manessah: "Moreover Manessah shed very much innocent blood, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another besides his sin by which he made Judah sin, in doing evil in the sight of the Lord." (2Kings 21:16).

When the Bible begins to use this kind of language you know that you are looking at an extreme situation. So why Manessah? At times it seems as if God is very deliberately choosing the very worst of the worst, the very dredges of humanity to include in Jesus family tree. Remember this is Jesus genetic heritage. We live in an age when people want to blame everything on their genes. Could it be that God is trying to tell us that He is more powerful than even our genes? If anyone ever had an excuse to blame their sins on their genetics it would have been Jesus, yet he lived without sin. Nor did He make the place or circumstance of His birth an excuse for sin.

And getting back to Manessah, in 2 Chronicles 33 we find that God was able at last to save even this monster of a man. And so he teaches us that instead of hating the monsters of this world (and the world has more than enough hate already) we should pray FOR (not against) them. Consider the apostle Paul, before he became the apostle Paul. He was Saul. His motto was "the only good Christian is a dead Christian." And he lived that motto. Now consider what God was able to do with him.

And the list goes on, the rich and the poor, the famous and the unknown, the saved and the lost. That's right! Not everybody in Jesus family tree is saved. Consider what message there is for us in that.

And finally: Matthew 1:16. "And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ." And the world has never been the same since.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Daniel 6, When Worship is Forbidden

In Daniel 3 we saw how Nebuchadnezzar tried to force all to worship a golden image, and although for a time it appeared as if the whole world was bowing down to that golden image, God had three faithful servants would not even make a pretense of worshiping that image.

Here in Daniel 6 we have a situation that on the surface looks very much the same. But there is a major difference. In Daniel 3, although the king tried to enforce the worship of the golden image, there was no prohibition against people worshiping the true God. A situation much like the early Christians found themselves in, where many were required once a year to offer a pinch of incense in token worship of Caesar as a god, and if they were to do that they would then be left free to continue their worship of Christ for another year until they were once again required to offer a pinch of incense in worship of Caesar. A simple pinch of incense once a year, it would have been so easy, so simple. Yet many Christians suffered severe hardship and even martyrdom rather than make even that tiny token show of Caesar worship. But here in Daniel 6 we find in addition to an attempt to compel a false worship, (in this case a worship of the Persian king), a prohibition against the worship of any other god, including the true God. Likewise, in the last days Revelation reveals that God’s people will not only be enticed to indulge in a false form of worship, (in this case, the worship of the Beast of Revelation 13 and its image), but also prohibited on pain of death from true worship of God.

But like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in chapter 3, and like Daniel in this chapter, God’s faithful people will not yield on either point. More than that, they, like Daniel and his companions will not make even the slightest pretense of yielding. The reason for their steadfast faithfulness will be the same as it was for Daniel and his companions, they will have developed a strong personal relationship with their Lord.

In Daniel 3 false worship was commanded. In Daniel 6 true worship is forbidden. The last great crisis under the mark of the beast will be a combination of these. Revelation 13 indicates that people will be commanded to worship the beast and its image (false worship). Finally they will be prohibited from true worship of God. But as said before, God’s true people will not yield nor even give the appearance of yielding on either point.

Digging for Dirt

Daniel 6:1 It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes, which should be over the whole kingdom; 2 And over these three presidents; of whom Daniel was first: that the princes might give accounts unto them, and the king should have no damage. 3 Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm. 4 Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him. 5 Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God.

Babylon was taken by the Medo-Persians, and Cyrus took the throne in 538 BC. The events of this chapter take place sometime within the next two years. It has been estimated that Daniel was about 84 years old by this time. As noted in the commentary on chapter 5, there is good evidence that Darius was the Babylonian throne name of Cyrus the great, although an argument can also be made for Darius being a commander of the Medo-Persian armies to whom Cyrus gave temporary kingship over Babylon.

Daniel in the lion’s den, as the story is often called, is probably better titled, “God and the lion’s den” as a reminder that the God who delivered Daniel from the lions still lives to rescue us in our troubles. The relevance of the story to our needs today is found in Peter’s warning. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8). In the light of 1 Peter 5:8 we can see that in a very real sense, we are all, every one of us, in the lion’s den. And our only safety is in the One who can shut the mouth of the lion.

Daniel’s enemies tried their best to dig up some kind of dirt on Daniel. They would have been quite at home in our modern mud-slinging political world. But it was a vain effort. There just was nothing to find. At last even Daniel’s enemies were forced to confess that “We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel except we find it against him concerning the law of his God.”

WOW!!! What a testimony that was. What the world needs today are more people like Daniel, people who have such a close living relationship with God that it molds their entire life, people whose lives transcend mere morality.

Daniel was a moral person. So much so that even his enemies were forced to confess that they could find no occasion nor fault against him. But beyond mere morality he was a man of God, a man who knew his God, a man who knew how to pray.

In Daniel’s case, his enemies discovered that their only hope of finding a case against him was to find it in his worship. So it will be in the last days. God will have a people in these last days that will stand firm for him, people who have built their spiritual house on the Rock, on the firm Foundation, people who will stand unmoved when the storm blows. And once again, the world will discover that here are a people against whom they can find no cause except they find it in their worship.


Daniel 6:6 So these governors and satraps thronged before the king, and said thus to him: "King Darius, live forever! 7 "All the governors of the kingdom, the administrators and satraps, the counselors and advisors, have consulted together to establish a royal statute and to make a firm decree, that whoever petitions any god or man for thirty days, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions. 8 "Now, O king, establish the decree and sign the writing, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which does not alter." 9 Therefore King Darius signed the written decree.

These words are very revealing. They show how far the ungodly are willing to go to destroy a man of God. They came together to the king. (They came tumultuously, as it may also be translated). They claimed that “all” were agreed -- But this was false, for Daniel, the chief of them all, was of course not consulted in the matter.

Their approached the king was calculated to hide their true evil purpose against Daniel. If they had made the decree to read that no petition should be asked of the God of the Hebrews, (which was the real intent), the king would have rejected it. But they gave it a general application, and were willing to ignore and heap insult on their own gods if by any means that would lead to the ruin of Daniel.

And just so it will be in the last days. It will be seen by all that there is no depth of deception to which the wicked will not sink, no length to which they will not go in order to destroy the righteous. Here we see cloaked in deceit and flattery, a state decree signed by the highest government authorities, a direct attack against the worship of the living God.

So what did Daniel do when he knew the decree had been signed by the king?

Daniel 6:10 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.

Daniel’s response was not to respond at all. He did not change his manner of prayer or worship in the least. He fully understood the trap that had been laid for him, but he would not change his course in a single particular. Why should he stop praying now, at the very time when he needed to pray the most? Daniel showed that he would rather give up life itself, than give up his hope in God. He could have closed the windows and prayed in secret, but this would have been hiding his faith, it would have given the impression that he had caved in to the demands of the decree. But Daniel was not a spiritual coward.

Daniel was no spiritual coward. He did not try to conceal his acts of worship. He could have rationalized many possible excuses for changing his ways, but Daniel was no compromiser. Knowing full well what the consequences of his loyalty to God would be, he would not allow it even to appear that he had ceased praying to his God. In all cases where the king had a right to command, Daniel would obey. But neither the king nor his decree could make Daniel turn from his allegiance to the King of kings.

Thus Daniel boldly yet quietly and humbly declared that no earthly power has a right to come between him and his God. Surrounded by idolaters, Daniel was a faithful witness to this truth.

Matthew 10:32 "Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. 33 "But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.

Some people might feel that this was a small thing; that Daniel could have prayed secretly and so no one would have known the difference. In that way he could have avoided the lion’s den. But to Daniel, obedience to God was more important than life itself. He would not give anyone the opportunity to think that he was unfaithful to his God, and thus set a cowardly example for the people. A relationship with God was more important to Daniel than his earthly life.

The only ones who will make it through the final crisis will be those who have a strong person relationship with God. A relationship with God is the most important thing in the world. And one of the ways Daniel developed his relationship with God was through prayer. The Bible says that Daniel “kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God.” Daniel gave thanks, even in the darkest of times. This was one of his secrets.

How was the apostle Paul able to accomplish so much and keep going when everything and everyone seemed to be against him? God delivered Paul from many trials just as he delivered Daniel, but God also allowed Paul to suffer a great many trials as well. Paul could say: “From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness-- besides the other things, what comes upon me daily.” (2 Corinthians 11:24-28)

The secret of Paul’s peace was the same as Daniel’s. Imprisoned in a dank, dark Roman prison, Paul could write to his fellow believers: “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7).

The trap was set. Daniel’s worship habits were well known, and there were probably many watching to see what Daniel would do. And they did not have to wait long.

Springing the Trap

Daniel 6:11 Then these men assembled and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God. 12 And they went before the king, and spoke concerning the king's decree: "Have you not signed a decree that every man who petitions any god or man within thirty days, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions?" The king answered and said, "The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which does not alter." 13 So they answered and said before the king, "That Daniel, who is one of the captives from Judah, does not show due regard for you, O king, or for the decree that you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day."

Just as they expected, Daniel performed his daily prayers just as before. Daniel’s enemies were elated. Hurrying back to the palace as fast as they could go, they first made sure that the decree was in effect and then proceeded to gleefully tattle-tale on Daniel.

Daniel 6:14 And the king, when he heard these words, was greatly displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him; and he labored till the going down of the sun to deliver him.

The very moment they mentioned Daniel’s name Darius knew that he had been played as a fool by these guys. Suddenly Darius understood exactly what this whole thing was really about. He was “greatly displeased with himself” and rightly so. And it is to Darius’ credit that he did place the blame for what happened on himself. How many of us Christians when we find ourselves betrayed into a colossal blunder seek to place the blame on anyone or anything else but ourselves? But no matter what the circumstances, ultimately we ourselves are responsible for our decisions whether they be good or bad.

Although Darius was forced by law to put Daniel into the lion’s den, as he did so, God moved on Darius to make a very remarkable statement of faith.

Daniel 6:15 Then these men approached the king, and said to the king, "Know, O king, that it is the law of the Medes and Persians that no decree or statute which the king establishes may be changed." 16 So the king gave the command, and they brought Daniel and cast him into the den of lions. But the king spoke, saying to Daniel, "Your God, whom you serve continually, He will deliver you."

In the Lion’s Den

God did not prevent Daniel’s enemies from casting him into the lion’s den. God allowed the plans of these wicked men to succeed to the point that Daniel was actually cast into the lion‘s den. But this was permitted by God that God’s deliverance of His servant would be all the more remarkable, and the defeat of the enemies of truth and righteousness all the more complete. As the Psalm’s say, “Surely the wrath of man shall praise You.” (Psalm 76:10).

Through the courage of this one man who chose to follow right rather than policy, Satan was to be defeated, and the name of God was to be exalted and honored. A man whose heart is stayed on God will be the same in the hour of his greatest trial as he is in his greatest prosperity. Faith reaches to the unseen and grasps eternal realities.

Daniel 6:17 Then a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the signets of his lords, that the purpose concerning Daniel might not be changed. 18 Now the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; and no musicians were brought before him. Also his sleep went from him.

Darius, under inspiration, had said to Daniel, “Your God, whom you serve continually, He will deliver you." And he was right. After sealing Daniel into the lion’s den, Darius went back to his palace. Darius knew he was guilty, knew he had been in the wrong. Verse 18 tells us that that night he fasted and did not sleep. Was he spending the night in prayer? We are not told, but it is possible. God was using this event to reach out to Darius, just as he had reached out to Nebuchadnezzar before him. And don't be surprised if someday God uses your biggest blunder to reach you in ways He never could before. It's not called Amazing Grace for no reason.


Daniel 6:19 Then the king arose very early in the morning and went in haste to the den of lions. 20 And when he came to the den, he cried out with a lamenting voice to Daniel. The king spoke, saying to Daniel, "Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?" 21 Then Daniel said to the king, "O king, live forever! 22 "My God sent His angel and shut the lions' mouths, so that they have not hurt me, because I was found innocent before Him; and also, O king, I have done no wrong before you."

Just as God delivered Daniel out of the lion’s den, God will deliver His people in the final crisis when it is decreed that all of God’s people must be put to death. This is a very important point. God is very honest with us. He tells it like it is, and He tells us very plainly that His people will have to go through some very tough times in the last days. And that, unfortunately, is all that many ever hear about in the prophecies. But the trouble God’s people must go through is not the main point of the prophetic books of Daniel and Revelation, far from it. The point that God makes in these books is that no matter how bad things may look, no matter how hopeless the situation may appear, no matter how bleak -- God’s people have absolutely nothing to worry about. He is well able to deliver His people even as the world does its very worse. And if by chance He chooses not to deliver us in this life, the Christian still has absolutely nothing to worry about. For the Christian’s life is hid in Christ and is never lost.

Colossians 3:2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

Oh, how disappointed Daniel’s enemies must have been, all this plotting, all this scheming for nothing.

Daniel 6:24 And the king gave the command, and they brought those men who had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions-them, their children, and their wives; and the lions overpowered them, and broke all their bones in pieces before they ever came to the bottom of the den.

In their grumbling about Daniel’s survival did someone perhaps suggest that the lions simply chanced not to be hungry? They were hungry enough, but those lions were under the control of a higher power than that of any earthly king. An angel from God had been Daniel’s companion that night.

Daniel knew Scripture. Was David’s prayer (Psalm 57) on Daniel’s lips that night? We don’t know, but it would have been most appropriate for the situation.

Psalm 57:2 I will cry out to God Most High, To God who performs all things for me. 3 He shall send from heaven and save me; He reproaches the one who would swallow me up. Selah God shall send forth His mercy and His truth. 4 My soul is among lions; I lie among the sons of men Who are set on fire, Whose teeth are spears and arrows, And their tongue a sharp sword. 5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; Let Your glory be above all the earth. 6 They have prepared a net for my steps; My soul is bowed down; They have dug a pit before me; Into the midst of it they themselves have fallen.

The same God who delivered Daniel is the same God we serve today. If you feel that subtle intrigue surrounds your life, that your enemies are preparing traps and snares for you, that there seems to be no way out, no escape, no way through the trouble you find yourself in, then let the example of Daniel inspire you to be true to the living God - in spite of all. He has a thousand ways to deliver you. Trust Him fully, no matter what - even if you should find yourself actually cast as it were into a lion’s den or into a fiery furnace as his companions had been. God will bring you through. David said, “My enemies would hound me all day, For there are many who fight against me, O Most High. Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?” (Psalm 56:2-4). And Isaiah says, “Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid.” (Isaiah 12:2). Find your strength where these men found theirs. We can be more than conquerors through Christ Jesus our Lord.

Daniel 6:25 Then King Darius wrote: To all peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied to you. 26 I make a decree that in every dominion of my kingdom men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel. For He is the living God, And steadfast forever; His kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed, And His dominion shall endure to the end. 27 He delivers and rescues, And He works signs and wonders In heaven and on earth, Who has delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.

What a tremendous witness Daniel was. Two world rulers, Nebuchadnezzar and Darius, both brought to acknowledge the one true and living God.

Just before Jesus ascended up to heaven He gave to His church what has been called the great commission. “And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15). And when we give ourselves up to God to use us as He pleases, we may well be astonished beyond measure by what He can do through our witness.

“Satan as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” But what is that to us. “If God is for us, who can be against us.” (1 Peter 5:8, Romans 8:31)

Friday, November 29, 2013

Daniel 5, The Fall of Babylon, part 2; The Revelation Connection

The fall of Babylon is of great importance to our understanding of the overall message of Daniel and Revelation. The historic fall of Babylon form the typological basis for understanding the end-time Babylon spoken of in Revelation.

I am not going to get into a discussion of whom or what end-time Babylon is, only to note some of the parallels between the events mentioned in Revelation and those we have just studied in Daniel 5.

Revelation 16:12 And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.

The Medo-Persian armies came from the east. They marched into the city of Babylon along the dry river bed of the Euphrates. Just so, at the end of time there will once again be a drying up of the Euphrates, preparing the way for the kings of the east. In the case of ancient Babylon, the coming of the kings of the east resulted in the deliverance of God’s people. From the east came the armies of the Medes and the Persians. And they attacked and they conquered until in all the Middle East, the city of Babylon alone held out against them.

Cyrus, commander of the Medo-Persian armies laid siege to Babylon. The Babylonians, gathered within their seemingly impregnable walls, scoffed at Cyrus and derided his seemingly useless effort to conquer them. According to all human wisdom no means of warfare then known could take that city.

Cyrus knew that there was no way he could ever enter Babylon unless he could find an entrance where the Euphrates River passed under the cities massive walls. Cyrus therefore decided to divert the river and use its channel as his means of entry into the city. This is a very interesting typology as in Revelation waters are stated to symbolize peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.

Revelation 17:15 Then he said to me, "The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues.

Accordingly he divided his army into three divisions. One division he stationed a few miles upstream with orders to divert the river into a new channel. The other two divisions were stationed on either side of the city where the river passed under its walls, with orders to enter the channel as soon as the river became shallow enough to ford, then to make their way under the walls and into the city, and on to the palace, where, on that very night Belshazzar was holding a drunken feast in praise of his gods.

But there was one major flaw in Cyrus’ plan, and if it were not for the direct intervention of God, Cyrus’ plan would have failed. You see, on each side of the river, for the entire length of the city, were walls just as high and thick as the outer walls surrounding Babylon. In these river walls were huge, massive gates which when opened allowed access to the river, but when closed and guarded barred all possibility of entrance from the river. If those gates had been shut, Cyrus’ army might have marched into the city along the river bed, and marched out again for all the good that it would have done them. And here is where a rather remarkable prophecy from Isaiah comes into play. (Remember as you read this Isaiah prophecy that the coming of these kings of the east resulted in the deliverance of God’s people, allowing them at last to leave Babylon and return to their own land.) (Note also God’s reference to the wise men of Babylon in verse 25.)

Isaiah 44:23 Sing, O heavens, for the LORD has done it! Shout, you lower parts of the earth; Break forth into singing, you mountains, O forest, and every tree in it! For the LORD has redeemed Jacob, And glorified Himself in Israel. 24 Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, And He who formed you from the womb: "I am the LORD, who makes all things, Who stretches out the heavens all alone, Who spreads abroad the earth by Myself; 25 Who frustrates the signs of the babblers, And drives diviners mad; Who turns wise men backward, And makes their knowledge foolishness; 26 Who confirms the word of His servant, And performs the counsel of His messengers; Who says to Jerusalem, 'You shall be inhabited,' To the cities of Judah, 'You shall be built,' And I will raise up her waste places; 27 Who says to the deep, 'Be dry! And I will dry up your rivers'; 28 Who says of Cyrus, 'He is My shepherd, And he shall perform all My pleasure, Saying to Jerusalem, "You shall be built," And to the temple, "Your foundation shall be laid."'

Isaiah 45:1 "Thus says the LORD to His anointed, To Cyrus, whose right hand I have held-To subdue nations before him And loose the armor of kings, To open before him the double doors, So that the gates will not be shut: 2 'I will go before you And make the crooked places straight; I will break in pieces the gates of bronze And cut the bars of iron. 3 I will give you the treasures of darkness And hidden riches of secret places, That you may know that I, the LORD, Who call you by your name, Am the God of Israel. 4 For Jacob My servant's sake, And Israel My elect, I have even called you by your name; I have named you, though you have not known Me.

Impressive considering that Cyrus would not even be born until some hundred fifty years after this prophecy was spoken. And there is in the prophesies concerning the fall of ancient Babylon some very interesting typology crucial to a right understanding of the fall of Revelations' end-time Babylon.

Cyrus recognized the hand of God in bringing him to power. And one of the first things Cyrus did after the defeat of Babylon was to issue a decree allowing all exiles and their descendants to return to their homelands if they desired to do so. And this was not for the Jews only, but also all the other peoples whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away into captivity. All were given their freedom. Cyrus further offered to return all their captured gods that Nebuchadnezzar had carried away. In the case of the Jews, who of course had no images of God, this meant the return of the sacred temple utensils and even a promise to rebuild the Jerusalem temple at state expense. And so the coming of the kings of the east resulted in the deliverance of God’s people. Cyrus’ decree concerning the Jews is recorded in Ezra.

Ezra 1:1 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying, 2 Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: All the kingdoms of the earth the LORD God of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem which is in Judah. 3 Who is among you of all His people? May his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel (He is God), which is in Jerusalem. 4 And whoever is left in any place where he dwells, let the men of his place help him with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, besides the freewill offerings for the house of God which is in Jerusalem.

This decree by Cyrus has caused many to think that Daniel may have shown the above Isaiah prophecy to Cyrus.

Revelation makes it very clear that there will be another Babylon at the time of the end. The Babylon spoken of in Revelation is not the same as the Babylon of Daniels’ day. When Cyrus conquered ancient Babylon, that was the beginning of the end for that city. It became a heap of ruins and has remained so to the present day, and prophecy declares that the city will never be rebuilt. But the Bible foretells the rise of another end-time Babylon which will do to God’s people on a global level what ancient national Babylon did to the Jews. Modern Babylon, according to Revelation, is the great final oppressor of the people of God.

Revelation 16:18 And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. 19 And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.

Revelation 17:1 And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: 2 With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.

Babylon’s great sin is fornication and adultery. Adultery is an illicit relationship. Obviously in this case it is not physical adultery, but spiritual adultery. Spiritual adultery is an illicit relationship that combines the worship of God with various elements of paganism, as typified in Daniel 5 by the use of the temple vessels in the worship and praise of the Babylonian gods. It is a mingling of the true with the false, of righteousness with unrighteousness, with light with darkness. In Daniel 5 we saw ancient Babylon in the person of its king defiantly mixing elements of the worship of God with the worship of pagan deities. Revelation's end-time Babylon’s fornication, or adultery, likewise is an illicit relationship that mixes elements of the worship of the true God with the worship of pagan deities. And the influence of this end-time Babylon is global in extent. Revelation equates this fornication with drunkenness, which again ties in nicely with the typology established by the historical fall of Babylon.

Revelation 18:2 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. 3 For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. 4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.

And just as ancient Babylon fell when it openly defied God, so spiritual Babylon will also fall for much the same reasons. Babylon the Great is a worldwide spiritual apostasy from truth. Her adultery is worldwide, and nearly all people will be deceived by her.

Interestingly, as we read in Revelation 18:5, God states that just as he did in ancient Babylon, He also has a people that He calls His own in modern spiritual Babylon. Just as God had a few faithful people in ancient Babylon, so too, today some of God’s faithful people are in modern end-time Babylon. But God is now calling His people to come out of this end-time Babylon before His final wrath is poured out on her. Spiritual apostasy may surround us on every side, corrupting everything we see and hear. How important then that we remain loyal to God’s Word. That is our only safety from the snares of the final great apostasy. God clearly warns us so that we will not be deceived by the apostasy of the end times. In love, God warns those trapped by modern spiritual Babylon to get out as soon as possible, before the final wrath of God is poured out on Babylon.

2 Corinthians 6: 14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.

Again, as I noted at the beginning of this article, the fall of Babylon is of great importance to our understanding of the overall message of Daniel and Revelation. The historic fall of Babylon form the typological basis for understanding the end-time Babylon spoken of in Revelation. Here are just a few of the more notable parallels between the two Babylon’s.

Ancient Babylon > “You who dwell by many waters” (Jeremiah 51:13).
End-time Babylon >“Seated upon many waters” (Revelation 17:1).

Ancient Babylon > “A golden cup in the Lord’s hand” (Jeremiah 51:7).
End-time Babylon > “a golden cup” (Revelation 17:4).

Ancient Babylon >“Babylon is fallen” (Jeremiah 51:8).
End-time Babylon > “Fallen, Fallen is Babylon” (Revelation 14:8).

Ancient Babylon > “I shall be a mistress forever… I shall not sit as a widow” (Isaiah 47: 7,8).
End-time Babylon > ”A queen I sit, I am no widow” (Revelation 18:7).

Ancient Babylon > ”Go ye out of the midst of her, my people” (Jeremiah 51: 45).
End-time Babylon > ”Come out of her, my people” (Revelation 18:4).

Ancient Babylon > At her fall “the heaven and the earth … Shall sing for joy” (Jeremiah 51:48).
End-time Babylon > At her fall, heaven, saints, apostles, prophets rejoice (Revelation 18:20).

Ancient Babylon > As a stone, “shall Babylon sink, and rise no more” (Jeremiah 51:64).
End-time Babylon > “like a great millstone [thrown] … into the sea … so shall Babylon … be thrown down” (Revelation 18:21).

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Daniel 5, The Fall of Babylon

The date was October 12, 539 BC. The Medo-Persian armies were camped outside the city of Babylon, having already conquered all of the Babylonian empire except the city itself. And Belshazzar, being the brilliant person that he was, decided that this would be a really great time to throw one wild bash of a drunken party - and mock God while he was at it.

Nebuchadnezzar was one of those rare leaders whose brilliance defined an age. But those who succeeded Nebuchadnezzar had nothing of his ability to rule. In general they were incompetent, ineffectual, weak and unimpressive rulers. Since the death of Nebuchadnezzar, Babylon had fallen far from its golden age. Now Nabonidus and Belshazzar, father and son, shared the throne of Babylon as co-regents. This explains Belshazzar’s statement in verse 7 about making whoever could interpret the handwriting on the wall “the third ruler in the kingdom.”

Nebuchadnezzar’s conversion in chapter 4 was real and deep. All indications are that Nebuchadnezzar fully turned away from the worship of the gods of Babylon and devoted himself wholly to the worship of the One True God of Israel. Accordingly the services of the Babylonian gods, which were largely dependent on state support, fell into decay. Nabonidus, who was at this time the first ruler of Babylon, set his heart on restoring the gods of Babylon to their former glory, and so that he might devoted himself wholly to the restoration of the worship of these gods, especially the worship of the moon god, he entrusted the kingdom to his son Belshazzar, making him the second ruler of Babylon. Having entrusted the kingdom to his son Belshazzar, Nabonidus left the city of Babylon and traveled throughout the kingdom and devoted himself avidly to the restoration of the worship of the Babylonian gods.

Meanwhile, Cyrus the Great had begun his rise to power. Having welded the Medes and the Persians into a united kingdom, he then proceeded to conquer Lydia. And now having defeated the armies of Nabonidus some 50 miles north of Babylon without a fight, his armies surrounded the walls of Babylon.

The empire was lost. Armies were at the gate. But why worry? The walls of Babylon were strong. Its storehouses were filled with food. The Euphrates flowed with water. Babylon was undefeatable. As undefeatable as the Titanic was unsinkable.

A Drunken Feast

Daniel 5:1 Belshazzar the king made a great feast for a thousand of his lords, and drank wine in the presence of the thousand. 2 While he tasted the wine, Belshazzar gave the command to bring the gold and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple which had been in Jerusalem, that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them. 3 Then they brought the gold vessels that had been taken from the temple of the house of God which had been in Jerusalem; and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. 4 They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone.

God is very patient with people and with nations. This is clear from his dealings with Nebuchadnezzar. (And sometimes we mere mortals get frustrated by just how longsuffering He is toward the wicked. The wicked of course being those other guys we’re not so fond of.) Yet there comes a time when God must, so to speak, ring down the curtain if there is no response to His entreaties. There is a limit even to God’s forbearance. God worked long with Babylon. For over 30 years God struggled to win the heart, mind and soul of Nebuchadnezzar - and He did.

Jesus once said that “it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.” Upon hearing that the disciples asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus’ answer was that “with God, all things are possible,” meaning that by the power of God even the rich can be saved. (Matthew 19:24-26). And Nebuchadnezzar is proof. Here is a man who had it all. Wealth, power, fame - the whole world did his bidding. And yet by the power of God this "rich man" found salvation and entrance into the kingdom of God.

But Nebuchadnezzar was the exception rather than the rule. Those who followed him to the throne did not heed the lessons that Nebuchadnezzar had learned, and stubbornly walked in defiance of God.

On this night in the course of their drunken feast in honor of their pagan gods, Belshazzar called for the sacred temple vessels that were used in the worship of the God of Israel, that they might mock Him as they praised and worship the gods of Babylon. The spirit that inspired Belshazzar was the same spirit that in more ancient times inspired the Philistines, who after they had captured the Ark of the Covenant, placed it in their temple at the foot of their god Dagon, thinking to exalt the power and glory of Dagon over the God of Israel. However instead of bringing glory to Dagon, it brought disaster to the people.

The mingling of paganism with Christianity is an abomination that God deals with very severely, and for good reason. This mingling of righteousness with unrighteousness is one of Satan’s most effective devices for deceiving and ensnaring the people.

2 Corinthians 6:14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people." 17 Therefore "Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you."

Writing on the Wall

Daniel 5:5 In the same hour the fingers of a man's hand appeared and wrote opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king's palace; and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. 6 Then the king's countenance changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his hips were loosened and his knees knocked against each other. 7 The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. The king spoke, saying to the wise men of Babylon, "Whoever reads this writing, and tells me its interpretation, shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around his neck; and he shall be the third ruler in the kingdom." 8 Now all the king's wise men came, but they could not read the writing, or make known to the king its interpretation. 9 Then King Belshazzar was greatly troubled, his countenance was changed, and his lords were astonished.

Once again the wise men of Babylon are discredited. In Daniel 2 they could not make known the king’s dream, but they boasted that if only the king would tell them the dream they could give him the meaning. And so God gave them a chance to prove their point. In Daniel 4 God gave another dream to the king and made certain that Nebuchadnezzar told it this time. But the wise men of Babylon failed once again. Even after they were told the dream they could not interpret it. Now, to their total discredit, God literally spells it out for them, writes it on the wall, and they still didn't get it.

The wisdom of the wise men of Babylon is the same that is today being repackaged by the devil in bright new packages and being sold to the public as New Age wisdom. But this New Age wisdom so popular with so many today is, however, still just as incapable, just as incompetent, just as powerless, just as bankrupt as it was in Daniel’s day. And those who turn to it to solve their problems and to unravel the mysteries of life will find just as Nebuchadnezzar did and just as Belshazzar did that it has no answers. They will discover that the New Age religion is just an empty shell - a lot of pretence, a lot of glitter and glitz, a lot of empty promises, - but no power, no answers, no wisdom.

Queen Mother

Daniel 5:10 The queen, because of the words of the king and his lords, came to the banquet hall. The queen spoke, saying, "O king, live forever! Do not let your thoughts trouble you, nor let your countenance change. 11 "There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the Spirit of the Holy God. And in the days of your father, light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, were found in him; and King Nebuchadnezzar your father-your father the king-made him chief of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers. 12 "Inasmuch as an excellent spirit, knowledge, understanding, interpreting dreams, solving riddles, and explaining enigmas were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar, now let Daniel be called, and he will give the interpretation." 13 Then Daniel was brought in before the king. The king spoke, and said to Daniel, "Are you that Daniel who is one of the captives from Judah, whom my father the king brought from Judah? 14 "I have heard of you, that the Spirit of God is in you, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in you. 15 "Now the wise men, the astrologers, have been brought in before me, that they should read this writing and make known to me its interpretation, but they could not give the interpretation of the thing. 16 "And I have heard of you, that you can give interpretations and explain enigmas. Now if you can read the writing and make known to me its interpretation, you shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around your neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom."

“The third ruler in the kingdom.” Remember, Belshazzar ruled as second ruler, co-regent with his father Nabonidus. This offer would make Daniel king of Babylon, third in power after Nabonidus and Belshazzar.

Daniel was now an old man probably well into his 80's, and possibly living in retirement. To most of the current leadership of Babylon he was ancient history. However, there was one who did remember Daniel, the queen. Not one of Belshazzar’s wives, but rather the queen mother, possibly Nitocris, either the wife or daughter of Nebuchadnezzar, (it is not clear which), and quite possibly a convert along with Nebuchadnezzar to the worship of the God of Israel, which may be the reason she was not invited to the party. An indication of her power is the fact that she was allowed to approach the king without the king’s permission. (See Esther 4:11).

This woman lived to the exceptional age of 107 and was probably an eye witness to some of the events described in the earlier chapters of Daniel, and as soon as she heard of what was happening in the banquet hall she came in. Her first words were to remind Belshazzar that while the wise men could not read the writing, there was one in the realm that could not only read the writing, but also interpret it. Yes, she remembered Daniel.

At the urging of the queen Daniel was brought in. It is clear that Belshazzar was not too thrilled at the prospect of having to resort to asking a worshiper of the God of Israel to interpret the handwriting for him. Belshazzar’s first words to Daniel was a sneering reminder to Daniel that he was nothing more than a captive from Judah. You can imagine the scene, “You’re Daniel, right, that captive from Judah” a drunken Belshazzar sneered, as he held up a golden temple cup from which he had just been drinking in praise of his Babylonian gods. “Well I’ll make you a deal. If you can tell me what this writing means, I’ll not only make you rich but also the third ruler of the kingdom.”

Reaping What We Sow

Daniel 5:17 Then Daniel answered, and said before the king, "Let your gifts be for yourself, and give your rewards to another; yet I will read the writing to the king, and make known to him the interpretation. 18 "O king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father a kingdom and majesty, glory and honor. 19 "And because of the majesty that He gave him, all peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him. Whomever he wished, he executed; whomever he wished, he kept alive; whomever he wished, he set up; and whomever he wished, he put down. 20 "But when his heart was lifted up, and his spirit was hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him. 21 "Then he was driven from the sons of men, his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild donkeys. They fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till he knew that the Most High God rules in the kingdom of men, and appoints over it whomever He chooses. 22 "But you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, although you knew all this. 23 "And you have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven. They have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you and your lords, your wives and your concubines, have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone, which do not see or hear or know; and the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified.

Daniel did not give the king any salutation. There was no “O king, live forever“ as was the case when Daniel spoke with Nebuchadnezzar. It would have been rather pointless in this case. Daniel was not being discourteous to the king, but he spoke bluntly and to the point. In front of the assembled guests and leaders of the nations, he reminded Belshazzar of the judgment which had fallen on Nebuchadnezzar on account of his pride, of how his mind had become like that of an animal until he confessed that the most high God rules in the kingdom of men. “And you his son, O Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though thou knew all this.

God is well aware of our weakness, “For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:14).

God protects us for a time from the consequences of our sinful ways. He provides persuasive evidence to help us choose the way of life. Belshazzar had the example of Nebuchadnezzar before him. He probably grew up hearing the stories. But God also leaves us free to obey him or not as we please. The choice is ours to make. And in the judgment, he permits us to meet the ultimate consequences of our choices, whether good or bad.

Centuries prior to the days of Daniel, Joshua spoke these famous words; "And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15).

Belshazzar had made his choice. He would serve the gods of the land. God weighed these choices to see how they measured up. In the judgment Belshazzar’s choices were found wanting, and God gave up Belshazzar to the consequences of his choices. Belshazzar had known all about Nebuchadnezzar’s experience, but deliberately ignored the lessons that Nebuchadnezzar learned at such great cost.

God allowed Belshazzar to make his own choices, and after a time, when Belshazzar refused every effort of God to save him, God allowed him to face the consequences of his choices. Belshazzar by his own choices declared that he did not want God in his life, and finally the day came when he reached a limit beyond which God could not allow him to pass.

The apostle Paul speaks of how God deals with those who chooses to live as Belshazzar did.

Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth. 20 . . . . . they are without excuse; 21 for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever! Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. . . . . . . .28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a base mind and to improper conduct. 29 They were filled with all manner of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity, they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God's decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them but approve those who practice them

Such was the case with Belshazzar, and so it is with our modern society. Scripture says that God is “the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” (Hebrews 13:8). Can we then expect to escape the judgment that fell on Belshazzar and on Babylon 2500 years ago? Daniel reprimanded the drunken king of Babylon for desecrating the sacred vessels which Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from the temple in Jerusalem. In desecrating these vessels in the way he did, by drinking alcoholic beverages from them, Belshazzar became guilty of profaning not only the Jerusalem temple, but also his own body temple.

1 Corinthians 6:19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 3:16 Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? 17 If any one destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and that temple you are.

God was not abiding within Belshazzar on that October night. Belshazzar’s body was a violated, desecrated and empty temple of God. “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.” (Matthew 23:28). Of how many of us can God just as justly speak those word regarding our body temples.

Belshazzar’s body temple was desolate because Belshazzar chose to ignore God as much as possible and to use his living temple for unholy purposes. And so God gave him up to his unholy passions.
And God in an act of judgment decreed that king Belshazzar should be permitted to meet the consequences of his free choices.

The Interpretation

Daniel 5:24 "Then from his presence the hand was sent, and this writing was inscribed. 25 And this is the writing that was inscribed: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, and PARSIN. 26 This is the interpretation of the matter: MENE, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; 27 TEKEL, you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting; 28 PERES, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians." 29 Then Belshazzar commanded, and Daniel was clothed with purple, a chain of gold was put about his neck, and proclamation was made concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom. 30 That very night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was slain. 31 And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old.

The armies of the Medes and the Persians had come from the east to conquer Babylon. That very night Cyrus, the commander of the Medo-Persian armies had the Euphrates River diverted into a new channel so that his armies could march into the city of Babylon via the river bed. And that very night Babylon fell, never to rise again. That very night Belshazzar perished.

As a little side note here: There is some question as to the identity of Darius. Was Darius a sub-commander of the Medo-Persians armies to whom Cyrus gave temporary command (kingship) of Babylon, or was Darius the Babylonian throne name of Cyrus himself. Evidence can be found to support either position, but I lean to the idea that the name “Darius” was the Babylonian throne name of Cyrus the great, which name by the way means “The Royal One.”

The use of throne names was a common practice, and there are a number of examples of kings using throne names in the Bible. There is Tielath-pleser who was also known as Pul. Azariah who went by the name of Uzziah. Solomon who at times use the name Jedidiah. And Jeoiachin who is also called Coniah by Jeremaiah.

Daniel 6:28 which in our English Bibles reads “So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.” may also be rightly translated to read “So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius which is the reign of Cyrus the Persian.” The difference being a question as to whether the word translated “and in” in our English Bibles is a conjunction or an explicative. And the evidence points to it being an explicative. Also Daniel 5:31 tells us that this Darius was about 62 years old at the time, and it is known that that Cyrus was in his early 60’s at the time of his conquest of Babylon.