Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Daniel Study, Session 9

We pick up our study tonight in Daniel 7 where we find Daniel revealing and interpreting his own dream that goes all the way down to Christ’s second coming.


Teaching Notes
Chapter 7
v.1 In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed: then he wrote the dream, and told the sum of the matters. For a bit of an outline, chapters 7 through 12 are visions which Daniel had; in chronology, the events of chapters 7 and 8 belong between chapters 4 and 5; what happens in chapter 9 happens about at the same time as chapter 6, and the visions of 10-12 take place after the events of chapter 6. The first of the four visions of chapters 7-12 are the most comprehensive; the other three visions deal with aspects of this first vision.

The Sum of the Matters: In other words, Daniel could have given us more detail; but the Holy Spirit only wanted him to write the main facts - though we might have wanted to know more detail!

The Four Beasts
vv.2-3 Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea.  (3)  And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another. The four winds of the heaven: Some view these as representing satanic forces (Rev 7:1) or simply a reference to God's strength and power (Psa 35:5; Psa 48:7; Psa 107:25; Isa 27:8; Isa 41:16).

The great sea: This is referring to the Mediterranean that each of these empires borders. From this great sea come four great beasts each distinct from the other.

The First Beast
v.4 The first was like a lion, and had eagle's wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man's heart was given to it. The first was like a lion, and had eagle's wings: This beast is majestic in that it is represented by a lion and an eagle. While the lion is the king on land, the eagle is the king in the air.
Jeremiah used both of these to describe Babylon (Jer 49:19-22). However, this kingdom is humbled by having its wings plucked and given the heart of a man. Babylon was famous for its winged lions.

The Second Beast
v.5 And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh. A second, like to a bear: It's been said that the bear is much less majestic as that it is slow, ponderous, and crushing. This one is imbalanced in some way in that it is on its side, however, it does have a voracious appetite. It represents tot Medo-Persian Empire. Many believe that the three ribs represent the empires that they conquered: Babylon, Egypt, and Lydia.

The Third Beast
v.6 After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it. Like a leopard: The beast represents Greece. A normal leopard can run 36 mph and is known for its sudden, unexpected attacks; this one is especially swift with four wings. It is also clever with four heads. Alexander the Great conquered the entire civilized world by the age of 28. Some would say that the four heads also represent his four generals: Casander, Lysimachus, Seleucus, and Ptolemy who inherited the empire after his death.

The Fourth Beast
v.7 After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. Notice that this fourth beast was very different from the rest before it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it. This is no doubt the Roman Empire. Rome ruled the world from around 150 BC until around 450 AD. It was unquestionably the largest, strongest, unified, and enduring of them all. Rome was unique in that it not only ruled the world physically but came to rule it spiritually as well.

Still With Us Today
In many respects, Rome never lost spiritual control of the world. This is seen in the fact that the iron does not seize to exist from the legs down through the toes in Neb's first vision of the statue. It's unbelievable that God gave this revelation to Daniel around 600 BC. That was almost 400 years before Rome even became a world empire!

It had ten horns: The ten toes of chapter 2 and the ten horns here in chapter 7 are one and the same (Rev 13:1, Rev 17:3). They represent the Revived Roman Empire of the last days.

The Antichrist 
v.8 I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things. Notice that while Daniel is considering the horns and what they could mean, he sees another little horn rise up from among them. This is the antichrist.

Notice that he plucks up three of the ten by the roots. Apparently, the antichrist is going to have to fight three of the 10 kingdoms to gain control of the remaining kingdoms. This sheds some light on Rev 17:10-13. Looks like v.13 is through a little bit of coercion.

Great Things
Notice that he has a mouth speaking great things (Rev 13:1-6). Also, Paul makes reference to the Antichrist in 2Th 2:3-4. He believes that he is greater than God.

Lord of Glory
vv.9-10 I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire.  (10)  A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened. The words cast down could be better translated as established or set up.

The book of Revelation tells us who is sitting on these thrones (Rev 4:4). While we are not sure who is sitting on these thrones, we do know that the number means signifies government in the Bible. Here are a couple of views on whom these twenty-four elders are. Some say they are literally the twelve sons of Jacob and the twelve apostles of the New Testament combined. Not sure about the sons, but I do know that Jesus said that the Twelve would do so in Mat 19:28 and Luk 22:29-30.

Others say that these represent all of the redeemed from both the Old and the New Testament. Either way, in this view, the twelve patriarchs represent those from the Old Testament and the twelve apostles represent those from the New Testament saints.

This all could also be related to 1Ch 24:3-4. In these verses, we see that David had appointed 24 elders to represent the entire Levitical priesthood which numbered around 38,000 at that time. Each of these elders was to represent a group of Levites who were to serve throughout the year for two weeks at a time in the Temple. This division also made it easier to meet with the Levites as they were representative of the entire group. This is probably why the number 24 represents governmental authority in the Bible.

Now those who want to place the Body of Christ in this number, as I used to, will point to 1Co 6:2-3 as a proof text. To be honest, where I am right now, I am having a hard time seeing the Body of Christ anywhere in the Old Testament, and I am also struggling with the term saint because it appears to be referring to Jewish Believers and not the Body of Christ (Eph 1:1; Php 1:1; Col 1:1-2). Make what you will of it, but they appear to be different groups of people.

Final thought, whoever these are, they are judging during the Kingdom, which I have become convinced has nothing to do with the Body of Christ. Also, cf. Jud 1:14-15 and Rev 2:26. Both are speaking of Jews and not Gentiles. We will see another clue in this same chapter in v.18. Again, referring to the House of Israel.

The Ancient of Days
Notice the Ancient of days: This is a reference to God the Father. We see the deity of Christ in this because here it is a reference to God the Father, but in Revelation, it is a reference to God the Son. Compare the description with Rev 1:12-15. Appear to be one and the same.

Daniel has the Second Coming of Christ and the final judgment in view here (Rev 19:11-16; Rev 20:11-15; Isa 66:15-16).

Notice that the books were opened: There are three books mentioned in the Bible: 1. The Book of the Living (Psa 69:28); 2. The Book of Remembrance (Mal 3:16); 3. The Book of Life (Php 4:3; Rev 3:5; Rev 13:8; Rev 17:8; Rev 20:12; Rev 20:15; Rev 21:27, and Rev 22:19).

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Acts Study, Session 15

Today we cover Acts 5:41-7:16. We see that the apostles are still very much involved in life at the Temple, seven are chosen to help with the distribution in Jerusalem, Stephen is arrested and begins his speech before the council.


Teaching Notes
VERSES 41-42: And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. (42)  And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ. Instead of being bitter about the whole thing, they counted it an honor to suffer shame for his name. Also, notice that they continued daily in the temple.

The Temple was still fully operational and the center of Jewish life. Nothing had changed in that regard at all. When we get to Paul, we will find that other than a vow that he took to reach the Jewish nation, he will have nothing to do with the Temple. He doesn't tell the new converts that they have to go to Jerusalem at all. Instead, fellowships are started in homes.

In reality, the entire concept of a building as a meeting place was foreign to the early church. The big building we meet in today is simply throwbacks to the Roman Churches as they attempted to set themselves up as the new Israel. Again, while the church may have begun, the age of grace certainly had not.

Chapter 6
VERSE 1: And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. 
Here we start to see problems with the Common Store. Three possible reasons:
1. No doubt, just like in Jamestown, and in our society today, there were those who wanted to take out who had not put in. 2. Maybe it was just beginning to dry up. 3. Or it just may have been too much trouble for the apostles to tend to themselves which seems to be the more obvious answer. Of course, we do know that it did eventually run out (1Co 16:1-4; Rom 15:25-26).

The next obvious question is who were the Grecians? Hebrews is obvious. A Grecian was simply a non-Palestinian Jew. They were also referred to as Hellenists. Remember that there were Jews who had been carried away into Babylon and never returned to Jerusalem. They grew up outside of Jerusalem but maintained their Jewish faith. These were those referred to as Grecians who had returned to Jerusalem and had accepted Christ as the Messiah and were now part of the Kingdom Church. Albert Barnes says of these, "These were not proselyted Gentiles, but those of Jewish origin who were not natives of Judea, who had come up to Jerusalem to attend the great festivals." Obviously, their widows were being neglected in the daily ministration or distribution of food. There was some obvious prejudice against them.

VERSE 2: Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Many today in the church will go straight to these verses and say that these were the first deacons in the church. The Bible never calls these men deacons. While there were certainly the forerunners, they were not deacons in the Body of Christ sense.

VERSES 3-7: Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. (4)  But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. (5)  And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: (6)  Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them. (7)  And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith. Again, many churches will use the verses to justify congregationally elected deacons. This verse simply cannot be used to justify that practice. I have served and ministered in enough Baptist churches to know that this practice doesn't always work that well. They are little more than popularity contests in my experience. Too often they are used to "keep the preacher in check". I am also not a fan of congregational polity. However, I do believe in what I used to call "family meetings" to keep the congregation updated and to even seek their input. Too many churches are built upon the flimsy foundation of these verses and Mat 18:15-20.

VERSE 8: And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people. Make no mistake, Stephen is still a continuation of the apostolic ministry ministering exclusively to the house of Israel.

VERSES 9-14: Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen. (10)  And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake. (11)  Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God. (12)  And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council, (13)  And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law: (14)  For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us. What were they so upset about? The message that Stephen preached was the King and the offered Kingdom. Understand, what he preached put their livelihood at stake. If what Stephen was preaching truly came to pass, there would be no need for them anymore.

VERSE 15: And all that sat in the council, looking steadfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel. To me, this simply means that they saw something in Stephen that was beyond the ordinary. Of course, he was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Chapter 7
VERSES 1-2: Then said the high priest, Are these things so? (2)  And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran, (3) And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. 
These verses are interesting in that they go beyond the Genesis 12 account which simply says that the Lord had said unto Abram to The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham. So that means that God actually appeared in, most likely, a human form, thus a Theophany. Stephen, as we will see, reviewed Israel's history beginning with Abraham, and how God in the past had consistently prepared the nation for their coming King and Kingdom.

VERSE 4: Then came he out of the land of the Chaldaeans, and dwelt in Charran (Haran): and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell. (5)  And he gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on: yet he promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child. The point is that God had made a promise to Abraham that had not yet been fulfilled in his lifetime.

VERSES 6-7: And God spake on this wise, That his seed should sojourn in a strange land; and that they should bring them into bondage, and entreat them evil four hundred years. (7)  And the nation to whom they shall be in bondage will I judge, said God: and after that shall they come forth, and serve me in this place. This is speaking of the bondage that Israel endured in Egypt. And, of course, God judged them when he delivered them out of the hands of the Egyptians under Moses with the plagues.

VERSES 9-10: And he gave him the covenant of circumcision: and so Abraham begat Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat the twelve patriarchs. (9)  And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him, (10)  And delivered him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favour and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house. This speaks of the betrayral of Joseph's brothers in selling him into slavery, where he, through a series of events, ends up being the governor over all of Egypt. I believe this is a type and a foreshadowing of how Israel had also sold its Redeemer not knowing who he was.

VERSES 11-13: Now there came a dearth over all the land of Egypt and Chanaan, and great affliction: and our fathers found no sustenance. (12)  But when Jacob heard that there was corn in Egypt, he sent out our fathers first. (13)  And at the second time Joseph was made known to his brethren; and Joseph's kindred was made known unto Pharaoh. This is when Jacob sent the remaining brothers to get grain in Egypt because of the drought that the land was going through (Gen 42:1-3; Gen 42:8). Verse 8 there in Genesis reminds me of Joh 1:11. Later we find that Joseph could not restrain himself any further and revealed himself to his brothers (Gen 45:1-4; Gen 45:15).

In the same way, Israel did not recognize Jesus as their Redeemer, but one day they will according to Zec 12:10-12 and Zec 13:6. Stephen is making an attempt to show the nation that what their forefathers had done to Joseph, they had done to Jesus! But, as we have already mentioned earlier, they did it in ignorance (Act 3:17). Also, we discussed, had they known who he was and done what they did in total knowledge, God would have brought judgment down on them immediately. Jesus even said from the cross, Father forgive them for they know not what they do.

Interestingly enough, Stephen will later declare the same words as they are stoning him later in Act 7:60. He asked God to forgive them for their ignorance! Why was this so important that their ignorance is brought out? Because, again, had they known full well what they were doing, God would have destroyed them according to the law of murder. The law makes it clear that if someone knowingly, premeditatively killed someone, it was life for life. However, if it was an accident, grace was extended for the person to flee to the City of Refuge (cf. 1Co 2:6-8).  The example of that grace is furthermore displayed in the next verses.

VERSES 14-16: Then sent Joseph, and called his father Jacob to him, and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls. (15)  So Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he, and our fathers, (16)  And were carried over into Sychem, and laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor the father of Sychem. Joseph showed his brothers mercy, just as God was about to show mercy to Israel as we will see in little bit through the very man that would oversea Stephen's stoning: Saul (v.58).

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Daniel Study, Session 8

Today we continue our study through the book by looking at Danie 6:10-7:7. In these verses, we find Daniel's miraculous delivery from the lion's den and the interpretation of his own dream.


Teaching Notes
VERSE 10: Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. No fear there! Daniel had to have known what they were doing, but clearly showed no fear. As an elderly man by this time, Daniel knew from whence came his favor! It's been said that the best way to stop knocking knees is to kneel; and that is just exactly what Daniel did. Daniel, no doubt, knew of the prayer of dedication that King Solomon made when the temple was first built in 1Ki 8:30, 1Ki 8:38-39.

On a final note, notice that Daniel prayed three times every day. Now I don't think that means that those were the only times that Daniel prayed but those were three times that he went into his chamber and prayed toward Jerusalem as King Solomon had told them to do in 1 Kings 8. However, he also probably knew that King David had written in Psalm 55:16-17, As for me, I will call upon God; and the LORD shall save me. Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice. 

VERSES 11-16: Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God. (12)  Then they came near, and spake before the king concerning the king's decree; Hast thou not signed a decree, that every man that shall ask a petition of any God or man within thirty days, save of thee, 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 altereth not. (13)  Then answered they and said before the king, That Daniel, which is of the children of the captivity of Judah, regardeth not thee, O king, nor the decree that thou hast signed, but maketh his petition three times a day. (14)  Then the king, when he heard these words, was sore displeased with  himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him: and he laboured till the going down of the sun to deliver him. (15)  Then these men assembled unto the king, and said unto the king, Know, O king, that the law of the Medes and Persians is, That no decree nor statute which the king establisheth may be changed. (16)  Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee. There is no doubt that at this point the king had realized that he had been had! These guys had appealed to his pride and set him up, and unknownst to them had sealed their own fate. Thus, he immediately goes about trying to get Daniel off the hook, but to no avail. He was bound by the very law that he himself had made.

Notice his final comment to Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee. I cannot help but think that this was more wishful thinking than anything on the king's part. After all, he had spent the entire day trying to deliver Daniel himself. It sounds like a lot of Christians I know and sometimes me as well. God becomes the last resort. May that never be so in our lives.

Verses 17-23: And a stone was brought, and laid upon the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet, and with the signet of his lords; that the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel. (18)  Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting: neither were instruments of musick brought before him: and his sleep went from him. (19)  Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions. (20)  And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions? (21)  Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever. (22)  My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt. (23)  Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God. Wow! Notice Daniel's cool response. He simply honored the king. This was a true honor, not the "old king live forever" trick that the other guys had played on the king in v.6.

Notice that Daniel says that God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lion's mouths. Who was this angel? I believe that he was the same angel that was in the fiery furnace with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: Jesus Christ himself!

Remember that in chapter three when the three Hebrew children were cast into the fiery furnace, we were asking, "Where was Daniel?" Now, here in chapter six, we could ask, "Where were Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego?" The answer is the same. We simply do not know. I look at it this way. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had their chance to stand up for God in chapter three, and Daniel had his chance here in chapter six.

VERSE 24: And the king commanded, and they brought those men which had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives; and the lions had the mastery of them, and brake all their bones in pieces or ever they came at the bottom of the den. There are a few things that I glean from this verse. First, the king probably had their entire families thrown into the den of lions out of fear of retribution. Second, it was the oriental custom of the day that the entire family pays for the crime of the father. Third, a spiritual application, our sins affect our entire family and not just us alone.

VERSES 25-28: Then king Darius wrote unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you. (26)  I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end. (27)  He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions. (28)  So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian. Well, the king was certainly impressed with Daniel's deliverance. However, there is still no indication from this that the king placed the God of Daniel over the other gods of Medo-Persia. Only God knows what kind of life transformation might have occurred at this point in King Darius' life; just like Nebuchadnezzar. Either way, God certainly used this situation to bring future blessings upon Daniel for his faithfulness.

Chapter 7
Introduction to the Vision
VERSE 1: In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed: then he wrote the dream, and told the sum of the matters. For a bit of an outline, chapters 7 through 12 are visions which Daniel had; in chronology, the events of chapters 7 and 8 belong between chapters 4 and 5; what happens in chapter 9 happens about at the same time as chapter 6, and the visions of 10-12 take place after the events of chapter 6. The first of the four visions of chapters 7-12 are the most comprehensive; the other three visions deal with aspects of this first vision.

The Sum of the Matters: In other words, Daniel could have given us more detail; but the Holy Spirit only wanted him to write the main facts - though we might have wanted to know more detail!

The Four Beasts
VERSES 2-3: Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea.  (3)  And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another. The four winds of the heaven: Some view these as representing satanic forces (Rev 7:1) or simply a reference to God's strength and power (Psa 35:5; Psa 48:7; Psa 107:25; Isa 27:8; Isa 41:16).

The great sea: This is referring to the Mediterranean that each of these empires borders.

Baldwin says "To the Hebrews the sea was both dangerous and mysterious, a restless element but not beyond the Lord's power to tame."

From this great sea come four great beasts each distinct from the other. It's been said that the "lion devours, the bear crushes, and the leopard springs upon its prey." (Strauss)

The First Beast
VERSE 4: The first was like a lion, and had eagle's wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man's heart was given to it. The first was like a lion, and had eagle's wings: This beast is majestic in that it is represented by a lion and an eagle. While the lion is the king on land, the eagle is the king in the air. Jeremiah used both of these to describe Babylon (Jer 49:19-22).

However, this kingdom is humbled by having its wings plucked and given the heart of a man.

The Second Beast
VERSE 5: And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh. A second, like to a bear: It's been said that the bear is much less majestic as that it is slow, ponderous, and crushing. This one is imbalanced in some way in that it is on its side, however, it does have a voracious appetite. It represents tot Medo-Persian Empire. Many believe that the three ribs represent the empires that they conquered: Babylon, Egypt, and Lydia.

The Third Beast
VERSE 6: After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it. Like a leopard: The beast represents Greece. A normal leopard can run 36 mph and is known for its sudden, unexpected attacks; this one is especially swift with four wings.

It is also clever with four heads. Alexander the Great conquered the entire civilized world by the age of 28. Some would say that the four heads also represent his four generals: Cassander, Lysimachus, Seleucus, and Ptolemy who inherited the empire after his death.

The Fourth Beast
VERSES 7: After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. Notice that this fourth beast was very different from the rest before it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it. This is no doubt the Roman Empire. Rome ruled the world from around 150 BC until around 450 AD. It was unquestionably the largest, strongest, unified, and enduring of them all.

Rome was unique in that it not only ruled the world physically but came to rule it spiritually as well. In many respects, Rome never lost spiritual control of the world. This is seen in the fact that the iron does not seize to exist from the legs down through the toes in Neb's first vision of the statue. It's unbelievable that God gave this revelation to Daniel around 600 BC. That was almost 400 years before Rome even became a world empire!

It had ten horns: The ten toes of chapter 2 and the ten horns here in chapter 7 are one and the same (Rev 13:1, Rev 17:3). They represent the Revived Roman Empire of the last days.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Daniel Study, Session 7

In our study today, we look at Daniel 5:7-6:9 where we find Daniel interpreting the writing on the wall, the fall of Babylon, and Daniel still being favored in the next administration under Darius and the Medo-Persians.


Teaching Notes
Chapter 5
The Queen Mother
VERSES 7-16: The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. And the king spake, and said to the wise men of Babylon, Whosoever shall read this writing, and shew me the interpretation thereof, shall be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about his neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom. (8)  Then came in all the king's wise men: but they could not read the writing, nor make known to the king the interpretation thereof. (9)  Then was king Belshazzar greatly troubled, and his countenance was changed in him, and his lords were astonied. (10)  Now the queen, by reason of the words of the king and his lords, came into the banquet house: and the queen spake and said, O king, live for ever: let not thy thoughts trouble thee, nor let thy countenance be changed: (11)  There is a man in thy kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of thy father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him; whom the king Nebuchadnezzar thy father, the king, I say, thy father, made master of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers; (12)  Forasmuch as an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, interpreting of dreams, and shewing of hard sentences, and dissolving of doubts, were found in the same Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar: now let Daniel be called, and he will shew the interpretation. (13)  Then was Daniel brought in before the king. And the king spake and said unto Daniel, Art thou that Daniel, which art of the children of the captivity of Judah, whom the king my father brought out of Jewry? (14)  I have even heard of thee, that the spirit of the gods is in thee, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom is found in thee. (15)  And now the wise men, the astrologers, have been brought in before me, that they should read this writing, and make known unto me the interpretation thereof: but they could not shew the interpretation of the thing: (16)  And I have heard of thee, that thou canst make interpretations, and dissolve doubts: now if thou canst read the writing, and make known to me the interpretation thereof, thou shalt be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about thy neck, and shalt be the third ruler in the kingdom. This queen was probably the mother of Belshazzar. Daniel was now about 90 years old. 70 + teenager = 90ish. He apparently had been retired for some time and wasn't known in Belshazzar's court. The queen-mother spoke highly of Daniel and his wisdom. He had managed to lead a pure and godly life in the pagan court of Babylon.  

Not For Sale
v.17 Then Daniel answered and said before the king, Let thy gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation. The gifts of God are not for sale! 

Faithful Prophet
VERSES 18-22: O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour: (19)  And for the majesty that he gave him, all people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down. (20)  But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him: (21)  And he was driven from the sons of men; and his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild asses: 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 ruled in the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over it whomsoever he will. (22)  And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this; Daniel was a faithful prophet, for he preached to Belshazzar before he gave the interpretation of the writing on the wall. Belshazzar knew the story of Nebuchadnezzar's pride, insanity, and conversion; that made him willfully defiant.  

Belshazzar's Sin
VERSE 23: But hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified: Belshazzar's worship and love had been lavished on material things that were inanimate, and he ignored the God who sustained his life. Notice, in whose hand thy breath is. That literally means that God holds his breath. Paul the Apostle in talking about God to the philosophers on Mars Hill, said "I want to declare to you the unknown the God. For in Him we live and we move and we have our being."

God is much closer to people than they realize. If there is anything that I see wrong in the church today is that we need to become more conscious of the presence of God. In Psalm 139:7, David said, "Where can I flee from your presence, if I ascend in to heaven thou art there, if I descend in hell thou art there. If I take the wings and I flee to the other most parts of the earth, even there You surround me." God isn't confined to one area.

Numbered
VERSES 24-26: Then was the part of the hand sent from him; and this writing was written. (25)  And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. (26)  This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. "Mene" means "numbered". Psalm 90:12 says, So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. 

Weighed
VERSE 27: TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. "Tekel" means "weighed." 

Divided 
VERSE 18: PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians. "U-pharsin" is the plural of "peres" which means "divided." The plural was used because Babylon was to be divided by the Medes and Persians.  

VERSE 29: Then commanded Belshazzar, and they clothed Daniel with scarlet, and put a chain of gold about his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom. In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain and Daniel was promoted, at least for the next few hours.

VERSE 30: In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain. So, Darius diverted the river Euphrates when the soldiers of Babylon were drunk. The drunken soldiers had neglected to bolt the gates, so Darius and his men were able to get into the city, despite all its elaborate fortifications 

VERSE 31: And Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old. 
"Threescore and two" is 62. 

Chapter 6
VERSE 1: It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes, which should be over the whole kingdom; In the last chapter, mighty Babylon had fallen just as the Hand of God had written on the wall and Daniel had interpreted it at Belshazzar's feast. It's like the old preacher once said, "He should've been a'fasting instead've a'feasting!" History tells us that on that very same evening, October 12, 539 BC, King Cyrus and the Medo-Persian army did what no one thought could be done. 

They got through the walls of Babylon. Remember that these walls were 350 feet high, 86 feet thick and surrounded by the Euphrates River which also ran through a portion of the city. It is also said that twenty years of provisions were kept in the store houses in preparation against a possible siege. That meant that the city when under attack could merely shut the gates and wait it out. 

However, none of that stopped the army of Cyrus for two reasons. First, God had already spoken through his prophets Jeremiah and Isaiah that Babylon would fall. The Prophet Jeremiah had sixty years earlier in Jer_27:7-8 prophesied that Babylon would fall under the reign of Nebuchadnezzar's grandson. 

Also, even more, incredible is that three hundred years before the fall of Babylon, it was prophesied by Isaiah the prophet in Isa_44:28 that Cyrus would indeed be the king that would be raised up by God to bring this judgment on Babylon (Isa_45:1-3). Both of these things happened. 

Before moving to the next verse, another interesting tidbit is presented here with the introduction of Darius. There are basically two views as to who Darius was. First, some conclude that Darius was another name for Cyrus. Their argument is v.28 which says, So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian. However, others will argue that first should read, So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Daruis, even in the reign of Cyrus the Persian. Thus, some conclude, they are the same man. The second view is that they were not one and the same person but Darius was simply someone who Cyrus put in charge of Babylon before heading back to Persia. 

VERSES 2-3: 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. These verses tell us that the king had set up princes or satraps to rule over the kingdom. Over these, the king placed three presidents of whom Daniel was first. That is quite amazing that Darius would choose someone out of the "old administration" to oversee his newly conquered territory. Side note: I think Trump has learned that lesson! The only reason given is that an excellent spirit was in him. In other words, Darius saw something special in Daniel. 

VERSE 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. Now we see the jealousy that ensued from the other presidents and princes. Their motivation could have been fear. There is no doubt that Daniel's reputation had preceded him. Surely, if Daniel could reveal dreams, he might be able to see their dreams as well. That could be a scary thought for all of us! 

VERSES 5-9: 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. (6)  Then these presidents and princes assembled together to the king, and said thus unto him, King Darius, live for ever. (7)  All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counsellors, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions. (8)  Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. (9)  Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree. Here we see the old "oh king live forever" trick. They knew that they could not trap Daniel in any other way but concerning the law of his God. They must have known that he prayed three times every day and that it was the only way that they could trap him. 

Of course, they appealed to Darius' flesh to get him to sign the degree. The Bible makes it very clear that we should always beware of flattery. The writer of the Proverbs wrote: A man that flattereth his neighbour spreadeth a net for his feet (Proverbs 29:5). 


Sunday, May 10, 2020

Acts Study, Session 14

Today we pick up our study in Acts 5:34-42 and take an even closer look at the difference between the Gospel of the Kingdom and the Gospel of Grace. We also take a bit of detour in an attempt to understand when Paul first heard the Gospel of Grace and what that meant for him and us.


Teaching Notes
VERSES 34-35: Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space; And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men. Who was Gamaliel? Not that much is known of him, but we do know that he was Paul's teacher according to Acts 22:3. Why also know that he was a highly respected Rabbi because he had been given the prestigious title of Rabban which only seven other rabbis ever received in Israel's history.

VERSES 36-39: For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought. (37)  After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed. (38)  And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: (39)  But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God. Gamaliel goes on to give examples of leaders who had rose up in the past and how they and their causes failed. He also ended with a warning that they did not want to be found in the end fighting against God.

This reminds me fo the promise that Paul gave in Romans 8:32 when he said, What shall we say then to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? In the end, no matter how it turns out, we win!

VERSE 40: And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. They were told a second time that they were not to speak in the name of Jesus. Notice, they were not told to not teach the death, burial, and resurrection, but in the name of Jesus. They only preached the name. Why? No one could deny the resurrection at this point. Jerusalem was filled with eyewitnesses to all of it. The Gospel of the Kingdom was still being preached at this point and would continue until the mystery was revealed to Paul.

Our Gospel (Rabbit Trail)
I am amazed that when I point out the obvious difference between the Gospel of the Kingdom and the Gospel of Grace, they get all befuddled and even defensive. Why? It is so obvious! 1Cor 15:1-4 tells us that the Gospel that saves us is a belief in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. This could not have been taught in the Gospels because it hadn't happened yet. What is so hard to understand about that? Again, what was bad news to the Jew was good news to the Gentile. Romans 1:16 tells us that it is obtained simply by faith/belief with no works required. 1Cor 1:18 tells us that that faith is in the completed work of Christ on the cross. Also, compare 1 Cor 1:23-24. Furthermore, Eph 2:1; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 2:11-13 tells us that no works are necessary under the Gospel of Grace at all. Only belief. That is our Gospel that Paul referred to in 1Co 15:1-4! Why would he say our Gospel?

With that said, the next obvious conclusion, at least in my journey, was that the church could not have started at Pentecost (33AD) because our Gospel was not even made known until after the conversion of Paul to whom it was first given. As a matter of fact, I believe that Paul was the first convert into the Body of Christ. After all, he was the first to hear and receive the Gospel of Grace! I mean think about it!

1Tim 1:15-16 tells us that Paul was the first of many who would follow the same pattern. He was the original, the first, of how the rest of us were to be saved! Note the word hereafter. That means from this point forward or to be about to be in Greek. Everyone who comes into the Body of Christ comes in after Paul and in the same way by faith. Note that the next word after hereafter which is believe. Not repent and be baptized like the Gospel of the Kingdom. Just believe.

Another point, the word Christian is not even found in the Bible until Acts 11:26 at Antioch in 42AD which was a Gentile assembly, not in Acts 2.

When did Paul hear about this Gospel of Grace? Was it in Arabia as recorded in Gal 1:1-17? Afterward, he did go to Jerusalem to see Peter and even stayed there fifteen days (Gal 1:18), but v.19 makes it clear that, other than Peter, he saw no one else but James, so this could not have been the Council of Acts 15 when the other apostles were present. Or did Paul hear the Gospel of Grace it during the fourteen years before he returned to Jerusalem for the council in 52AD (Gal 2:1-9)?

Not sure. At least it is still a subject of study for me, so I am not going to hypothesize at this point. Either way, he received it at some point and was the first convert under our Gospel.

Side Note: 2Cor12:7 was apparently when it happened and that was around 46AD. How that all fits? Still working on it. I believe that one of the mistakes we make when we read the book of Acts is thinking that it all happened about the same time. It didn't. The first chapter was in 33AD and the last in 63AD. That's thirty years! Another illustration of that is that Paul was converted in 34AD and the counsel was not until at least 52AD. That is nineteen years!

VERSES 41-42: And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. (42)  And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ. Instead of being bitter about the whole thing, they counted it an honor to suffer shame for his name. Also, notice that they continued daily in the temple. The Temple was still fully operational and the center of Jewish life. Nothing had changed in that regard at all.

When we get to Paul, we will find that other than a vow that he took to reach the Jewish nation, he had nothing to do with the Temple. He doesn't tell the new converts that they have to go to Jerusalem at all. Instead, fellowships are started in homes. In reality, the entire concept of a building as a meeting place was foreign to the early church. The big buildings we meet in today are simply throwbacks to the Roman Churches as they attempted to set themselves up as the new Israel.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Daniel Study, Session 6

In our study today we look at Daniel 4:1-5:6 where we find Daniel once again giving an interpretation of a dream to King Nebuchadnezzar which foretold of the king's humiliation that would take place until he realized who the true God of Heaven was. We also get into chapter 5 to introduce King Belshazzar and the infamous writing on the wall.


Teaching Notes
Chapter 4
vv.1-3 Nebuchadnezzar the king, unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you. (2)  I thought it good to shew the signs and wonders that the high God hath wrought toward me. (3)  How great are his signs! and how mighty are his wonders! his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation. Nebuchadnezzar was beginning to sound almost like a believer. We need to understand, though Neb seemed to repent and have a change of mind and attitude, we question whether or not this change was genuine because of his subsequent actions. To repent means to have a radical change of mind and complete change of heart. No repentance, short of repentance toward God with faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, is genuine and real. A man may see the error of his ways, and feel bad for it, but that is not repentance. Most in prison are sorry...that they got caught! Real repentance means real change!

Master of the Magicians
vv.4-9 I Nebuchadnezzar was at rest in mine house, and flourishing in my palace: (5)  I saw a dream which made me afraid, and the thoughts upon my bed and the visions of my head troubled me. (6)  Therefore made I a decree to bring in all the wise men of Babylon before me, that they might make known unto me the interpretation of the dream. (7)  Then came in the magicians, the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers: and I told the dream before them; but they did not make known unto me the interpretation thereof. (8)  But at the last Daniel came in before me, whose name was Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god, and in whom is the spirit of the holy gods: and before him I told the dream, saying, (9)  O Belteshazzar, master of the magicians, because I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in thee, and no secret troubleth thee, tell me the visions of my dream that I have seen, and the interpretation thereof. Notice that King Neb refers to Daniel as master of the magicians. It is obvious that King Neb still has no spirit of discernment in him at all. If he did, he would have known that Daniel was not a magician, but a prophet of God.

I am astounded by how many people today, have no spirit of discernment. They run around embracing this and embracing that, obviously oblivious to its contradiction with the very Scriptures they claim to believe. Paul said in 1 Cor 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Why Not Again?
vv.10-18 Thus were the visions of mine head in my bed; I saw, and behold a tree in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof was great. (11)  The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth: (12)  The leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all: the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it. (13)  I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed, and, behold, a watcher and an holy one came down from heaven; (14)  He cried aloud, and said thus, Hew down the tree, and cut off his branches, shake off his leaves, and scatter his fruit: let the beasts get away from under it, and the fowls from his branches: (15)  Nevertheless leave the stump of his roots in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth: (16)  Let his heart be changed from man's, and let a beast's heart be given unto him; and let seven times pass over him. (17)  This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men. (18)  This dream I king Nebuchadnezzar have seen. Now thou, O Belteshazzar, declare the interpretation thereof, forasmuch as all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known unto me the interpretation: but thou art able; for the spirit of the holy gods is in thee. Now the king was looking to Daniel to give the interpretation. Hey, he had done it before. Why not now? Notice also that he apparently trusted Daniel in that he did not require him to tell him the dream like he did last time. 

Resentment
v.19 Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was astonied for one hour, and his thoughts troubled him. The king spake, and said, Belteshazzar, let not the dream, or the interpretation thereof, trouble thee. Belteshazzar answered and said, My lord, the dream be to them that hate thee, and the interpretation thereof to thine enemies. I think that Daniel realized King Neb would resent the interpretation.

Great Monarchy
vv.20-22 The tree that thou sawest, which grew, and was strong, whose height reached unto the heaven, and the sight thereof to all the earth; (21)  Whose leaves were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all; under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and upon whose branches the fowls of the heaven had their habitation: (22)  It is thou, O king, that art grown and become strong: for thy greatness is grown, and reacheth unto heaven, and thy dominion to the end of the earth. In the OT books of I Chronicles, Isaiah, Nehemiah, Ezra and now, Daniel, we read what a great monarchy Babylon was. 

Watcher
v.23 And whereas the king saw a watcher and an holy one coming down from heaven, and saying, Hew the tree down, and destroy it; yet leave the stump of the roots thereof in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts of the field, till seven times pass over him; Who is this "watcher"?  Most likely an angel because it can be translated as a guardian. Notice, leave the stump. That part probably troubled King Neb a lot. 

Seven Years
vv.24-25 This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the most High, which is come upon my lord the king: (25)  That they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. He would spend 7 years like this?

Genuine Repentance 
vv.26-27 And whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the tree roots; thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule. (27)  Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity. In other words, Daniel is exhorting genuine repentance on the part of King Neb. Like I said earlier, there appeared to be a time that King Neb did come very close but he lapsed again.  

Pride Before a Fall
vv.28-30 All this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar. (29)  At the end of twelve months he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon. (30)  The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty? "Pride cometh before a fall!" John said in I Jn 2:16 For all that is in the world-- the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-- is not of the Father but is of the world. It is so easy to get prideful. 

Driven from His Palace
vv.31-33 While the word was in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee. (32)  And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. (33)  The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles' feathers, and his nails like birds' claws. He was literally driven from his palace.

Genuine Repentance? 
v.34 And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: This, again, looks like genuine repentance on the surface, but there is a great question in some minds. I personally believe he did.  

What a Testimony!
vv.35-37 And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou? (36)  At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned unto me; and my counsellors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me. (37)  Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to base. What a testimony! I pray that it was real for King Neb's sake. 

Chapter 5
There is a gap of perhaps 20 years between the preceding chapter and this one.  King Nebuchadnezzar died and was replaced by a succession of men who were removed by their enemies.  His grandson, Belshazzar, was co-ruler with who is believed to be his father, Nebonidas.

Cyrus, the King of the Persians and nephew of Darius (King of the Medes), was besieging Babylon. Belshazzar felt safe within the city's walls because Babylon was extremely well-fortified and supplied with enough food and water to withstand many years of siege. 

Many Years of Doubt
v.1 Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand. For many years scholars doubted the book of Daniel because they could never find anyone named Belshazzar. But, one day Sir Rolandson was doing some excavating around the Babylonian city and they found the name Belshazzar. Once more the archeologists spade proves the authenticity of the Bible.

Third Part of the Kingdom
He was not actually the son of Nebuchadnezzar, but a grandson. History tells us that he was co-regent with his father. His father was actually king but was away with his army fighting Medo-Persia. We will see in v.16 that he offered Daniel to be the third ruler in the kingdom which makes sense that was all he had to give. 

Purpose of the Feast
Belshazzar probably held this feast to show the lords he was confident that Babylon wouldn't fall to the enemy outside its gates. 

Defiled the Vessels
vv.2-6 Belshazzar, whiles he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink therein. (3)  Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God which was at Jerusalem; and the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, drank in them. (4)  They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone. (5)  In the same hour came forth fingers of a man's hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister 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 was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another. Belshazzar defiled the consecrated vessels his grandfather, Nebuchadnezzar, had taken from the temple in Jerusalem. He used the vessels as wine goblets. 

Knocking Knees
Notice, "his knees knocked together and his legs gave way." In the KJV it says, the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another. This was foretold in Isa 21:2-5 and Isa 21:9. Also, in Isa 44:28 and Isa 45:1. 

Thought to be Impregnable
Babylon was thought to be impregnable. It had a wall some three hundred feet high, eighty feet thick, with these massive towers upon it. It ran for about 15 miles. And then it had also a secondary wall, not quite as large. The river Euphrates flowed through the middle of the city. That was Babylon's week point. History tells us that while everyone was in the palace getting drunk and the drunken soldiers had neglected to bolt the gates where the river entered into the city. So, Darius and his soldiers diverted the river Euphrates and came up into the city from the river. And of course, the Babylonian soldiers were too drunk to defend it. Despite, all of its elaborate fortifications, Babylon had a weakness.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Acts Study, Session 13

Today we pick up our study in Acts 4:32 and work our way down to Acts 5:35. In these verses, we continue to see the distinction between the Gospel of the Kingdom and the Gospel of Grace. We also see how the Kingdom Church operated in regards to the authority that had been given to the Apostles who still insisted that the nation repents in regards to killing their Messiah.


Teaching Notes
If you still believe that there is no difference between the church today and the church then, let's look at chapter 5 because God is killing people who misrepresent Him by pretending to do something they did not. If He were still doing this, most churches would be even more empty then they are now.

VERSES 1-4: But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, (2)  And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet. (3)  But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? (4)  Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. To understand what is happening here you need to remember what happened in the previous chapter with Barnabas who had sold his land and laid the money at the apostle's feet. Apparently, Ananias and Sapphira felt they had something to gain by doing the same, but, unlike Barnabas, the misrepresented themselves and kept some of the proceeds back. Now we don't know if Barnabas kept some of his proceeds back, we simply do not have enough context; however, we do know that these two were deceptive about it. They were playing the hypocrites. Again, if God still took care of hypocrisy this way today, we would all be dead!

VERSES 6-12: And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him. (7)  And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. (8)  And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much. (9)  Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. (10)  Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband. (11)  And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things. (12)  And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch. Notice that many signs and wonders were wrought among the people. This is exactly what the Lord told the apostles would happen in Act 1:8.
Again, the demonstration of power was to convince the nation of Israel that Jesus was who he said he was.

Notice also that they were in one accord in Solomon's porch or portico. That is in the Temple. They were still meeting in the Temple (Act 3:1)! That implies that they were still taking their sacrifices and obeying the Law. The only difference was that they now believed that Jesus was their Messiah! There was no FBC Jerusalem at this time.

VERSES 13-14: And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them. (14)  And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.) Remember that these believers were Jewish.

VERSES 15-16: Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them. (16)  There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one. Do you notice how many were healed? Every one! We are not operating under this today (Php 2:27; 1Ti 5:23).

VERSES 17-20 Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation, (18)  And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison. (19)  But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said, (20)  Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life. Again, these guys are operating under Acts 1:8 with Kingdom Authority. We need to remember what Jesus told the apostles in Joh 14:12-14. Is God operating this way today? I think not. No doubt that God can do anything He wants to, but we can not, in all honesty, pull this verse out of context today. What happened in Acts cannot exactly replicated folks. Why? - Because it doesn't apply to us. Never will.

Words of This Life
I can not help but be drawn to the angel's command that they go and speak all the words of this life. This emphasis is not an afterlife, but this life. The point is that they had a decision to make as to the King and his Kingdom, and it had to be made in this life. The next one will be too late.

VERSES 21-28: And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught. But the high priest came, and they that were with him, and called the council together, and all the senate of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. (22)  But when the officers came, and found them not in the prison, they returned, and told, (23)  Saying, The prison truly found we shut with all safety, and the keepers standing without before the doors: but when we had opened, we found no man within. (24)  Now when the high priest and the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these things, they doubted of them whereunto this would grow. (25)  Then came one and told them, saying, Behold, the men whom ye put in prison are standing in the temple, and teaching the people. (26)  Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence: for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned. (27)  And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, (28)  Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us. So now they have been released, done exactly what they were told not to do (teach in this name), and were now brought in again before the council.

Notice that the primary concern of the council was that they, the apostles, were intending to pin the death of Jesus on them. Interestingly, how did they arrive at that conclusion? Nothing in the text indicates what their message was other than the words of this life mentioned in v.20. Obviously, that means that the words of this life were in regard to who Jesus was and what he came to do.

Note: Randy White points out that up to this point, the death of Jesus had not been presented as good news, rather something that needed to be repented of. If would not be until Paul that the death, burial, and resurrection would be viewed as good news.

To further elaborate, under the Gospel of the Kingdom as presented by Peter, the death of Christ was bad news because the nation was guilty. However, under the Gospel of Grace, as presented by Paul, it became good news to us. I believe this is what Paul meant when he said in 1 Tim 2:6-7 that he gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and apostle...a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity. 

VERSES 29-30: Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. (30)  The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Some believe that Peter is referencing Deu_21:18-23 in regards to his remark about the tree. If so, the point would be that they had treated the Lord in the same way.

VERSES 31: Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. That is a pretty good contrast between how they viewed Jesus and how God viewed Jesus. They saw him as a rebellious son that needed to be dealt with. God saw him as an exalted Prince and Saviour to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. What a contrast!

VERSE 32: And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him. Why does Peter bring the Holy Spirit into it? This is crucial, listen carefully. He did so, because if they reject the witness of the Holy Spirit, then they will have committed the unpardonable sin and blasphemed the Holy Spirit (Mat 12:31-32). They could be forgiven for what they did to God's Son, but they would not be forgiven for blaspheming, rejecting the Holy Spirit. This particular sin cannot be committed today in this particular sense. However, men still reject the Holy Spirit and die without salvation.

Notice all that Peter says that the Holy Ghost is only given to them that obey him. Why? Obedience was still required under the Law and the Gospel of the Kingdom was still very much under the Law. Of course, in context, Peter is accusing them of not being obedient in rejecting their Messiah. Today, the Holy Spirit is given simply by belief, but works required; that includes repentance and baptism by the way.

VERSE 33: When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them. The nation was about to commit the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit which would not be forgiven, and they would be set aside (Rom 11:25-32).

VERSES 34-35: Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space; And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men. Who was Gamaliel? Not that much is known of him, but we do know that he was Paul's teacher according to Act 22:3. We also know that he was a highly respected Rabbi because he had been given the prestigious title of Rabban which only seven other rabbis ever received in Israel's history.

Friday, May 1, 2020

The Word of God, Session 5

Today we continue looking at the issue of inspiration by taking a look at the Bible's historical accuracy and the lives that have been transformed by it.


Teaching Notes
6. History
And yet another proof of the inspiration of the Bible is history, especially in the realm of archeology. It has been said that with every turn of the archeologist's spade, another skeptic is put to silence. Halley's Bible Handbook lists 112 examples and Unger's Bible Handbook lists 96.

In Genesis 2:8-14 it says that the Garden of Eden was in the lower Mesopotamian Valley and it is now referred to by even the evolutionists as the birthplace of human life or the Cradle of Civilization. In Genesis 11:1-9 it mentions the Tower of Babel and dozens of ziggurats have been found in Mesopotamia. The Bible states that the birthplace of Abraham was in Ur of the Chaldees (Genesis 11:27-31). For many years, people doubted if it ever existed until C.L. Wooley came along in 1922 and found it. It is now one of the best known ancient sites in the world that dates back to around 2000 B.C.

7. Transformed Lives
The final proof (at least for this paper) in the proof of the inspiration of the Bible is the lives that it has transformed. There is not enough room in this paper or any other for that matter, to list the lives that have been "elevated to new levels of peace and joy by turning their lives over to Christ."

The Bible says in Psa 119:9, Heb 4:12.

There is no doubt that the Bible has changed the lives of many. The Apostle Paul said of himself in 1Tim 1:12-15. 

The Word of God, Session 4

We pick up session 4 today in our study on the Word of God by looking at further proofs of inspiration that include prophecy and scientific accuracy.


Teaching Notes
4. Fulfilled Prophecy
Another proof of inspiration is fulfilled prophecy. The Bible is indeed a book of prophecy and the purpose of prophecy is not only to establish the authenticity of the prophet but also the authenticity of the source of the prophecy. As a matter of fact, the Bible goes so far as to bring about the death penalty for those who presume to speak on behalf of God. "But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die" (Deu 18:20).

It is estimated that there are at least 456 prophecies in the Bible that refer to the Messiah alone. Of these, there are at least 109 of them that Jesus had to fulfill at his first coming alone." Some of these would include his virgin birth (Isa 7:14), birthplace (Mic 5:2), being proceeded by John the Baptist (Isa 40:3), triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Zec 9:9-10), the piercing of his side on the cross (Zec 12:10), and the list could go on and on. In Psalm 22 alone, it is prophesied about what would happen as Christ was being crucified, e.g., the mocking that he received, the piercings in his hands and feet and the casting of lots for his robe.

5. Scientific Accuracy
Another proof of inspiration is its scientific accuracy. It has been said that although the Bible is not a science book, it is accurate when it speaks on scientific matters. Just to name a few. In Lev 17:11, it says that the life of the flesh is in the blood. In Psalm 8:8 it says that there are paths or currents in the sea. In Isa 40:22 it says that the earth is a sphere and yet for many years people believed that the world was flat. In Job 26:7 it says that the earth is suspended in space. In Gen 15:5 it says that the stars were innumerable. In Jon 2:6 it says that there are mountains and canyons in the sea. In Gen 7:11 it says that there are springs and fountains in the sea. In Ecc 1:6-7 it speaks of the hydrologic cycle. In Rom 1:20 it speaks of matter. And once again the list could go on and on.

Next time we will look at how history and transformed lives also confirm proof of inspiration.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Daniel, Session 5

Today we finish up Daniel 3 and see how God delivered the three Hebrew men as they remained faithful to Him in trusting that He was indeed able. We also take a closer look at several types in the Bible that points to God's deliverance of His people.


Teaching Notes
Chapter 3
This chapter is full of what we call foreshadowing or typology. A type in Scripture is a person or thing in the Old Testament that foreshadows a person or thing in the New Testament. For example, the flood of Noah’s day (Genesis 6—7) is used as a type of baptism in 1Pe_3:20-21. The word for “type” that Peter uses is figure. In other words, just like the flood cleansed the world of sin, so baptism represents a spiritual cleansing of sin. 

The types in this chapter foreshadow the resistance of the Jews to the worship of the Antichrist during the time of Daniel's 70th Week (Tribulation). 1. King Nebuchadnezzar is a type of the Antichrist. 2. The three Hebrew children represent the 144,000 Jews God will seal and protect during the Tribulation. 3. The golden image represents the image of the Antichrist that will be set up in the rebuilt Jewish temple. 4. The fiery furnace represents the Great Tribulation. 5. Daniel could represent the Church, which will not be around during the Great Tribulation.

Image of Gold Made 
vv.1-7 Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. (2)  Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together the princes, the governors, and the captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up. (3)  Then the princes, the governors, and captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, were gathered together unto the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. (4)  Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages, (5)  That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up: (6)  And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. (7)  Therefore at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and all kinds of musick, all the people, the nations, and the languages, fell down and worshipped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up. In response to the dream, Nebuchadnezzar made the image of gold. Whether this was a representation of his dream, himself, or something else, we do not know. Randy White suggests that it is actually an obelisk, or possibly even an Asherah pole considering the 10/1 dimensions (2Ki 18:1-4). Asherah Poles were to the Canaanite mother goddess, Asherah. They were sometimes just stylized trees. Thus in the KJV, it is translated as groves. She was tied to the Tree of Life and fertility. Some mythology views her as the wife of El or Yahweh. Either way, it's amazing to me, how soon old Neb forgot the God of Daniel (Dan 2:46-47). 

Civil Disobedience
vv.8-13 Wherefore at that time certain Chaldeans came near, and accused the Jews. (9)  They spake and said to the king Nebuchadnezzar, O king, live for ever. (10)  Thou, O king, hast made a decree, that every man that shall hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, shall fall down and worship the golden image: (11)  And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth, that he should be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. (12)  There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. (13)  Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Then they brought these men before the king. To my knowledge, this is the first time that we see civil disobedience in the Bible. Were they justified in their refusal to bow? After all, the Bible does speak in strong language in regards to being obedient to those who are over us in Col 3:22 and Heb 13:17. But then we also see Peter and the other apostles saying in Act 5:29, We ought to obey God rather than men. Obviously, by their example, there are times when God has to be placed first. 

Another Chance
vv.14-15 Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up? (15)  Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands? From these verses, we must conclude that the king did feel fond of these guys by offering them another chance. After all, that was not his reputation. 

Faith
vv.16-18 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. (17)  If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. (18)  But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. Notice the faith. Hebrews 11:6 says, But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Faith is obedience even when you are unsure of the outcome! Faith is doing it when it is the right thing to do. 

Kings Anger
v.19 Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated. Notice the King's anger. Many see this as just how bad the Great Tribulation will be (Mat 24:21).

Able to Protect
vv.20-25 And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. (21)  Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. (22)  Therefore because the king's commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. (23)  And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. (24)  Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. (25)  He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God. The three Hebrew boys knew that God was able to protect them (v.17). That is the perfect balance in my opinion. Living the Christian life on the brink. On the one hand, we know that God can deliver us if so He chooses. On the other hand, we are determined to stand for Him even if He chooses not to. Either way, God is always faithful. 

Jesus Walks in the Midst
Notice that the only things that burned were the ropes binding them. Jesus still walks with us in the midst of our crises. If the type holds true, it shows how God is going to protect them during Daniel's 70th Week (Rev 12:1-6).

Attitude Adjustment
vv.26-29 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire. (27)  And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king's counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them. (28)  Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God. (29)  Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort. Attitude adjustment time (cf. v.15). The Babylonians believed in trials by ordeal. If you were accused of something and the punishment killed you, they presumed you were guilty. If you survived, you were presumed innocent.

Where's Daniel
v.30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, in the province of Babylon. Daniel isn't mentioned at all in this chapter. He would never have bowed to the image, so we have to conclude that he wasn't there. Still assuming that Daniel is a type of the church, he was spared from fire; i.e., Tribulation. 

Old Testament Types
1. Abraham's Plea (Gen 18:23-25).
2. Lot's Escape (Gen 19:22).

Nowhere do we see in the Bible the righteous being judged with the wicked by God (Luk 17:28-30; 2Pe 2:4-7; 1Th 5:9).

3. The Flood of Noah

The flood of Noah is also an excellent type of God's people being delivered before judgment comes.