Monday, January 12, 2015

Daniel: Part 1: vol 17 January, 12, 2015

A study on the book of Daniel.
We will divide the study into two major parts:

Part I: A History of the Times...And the Setup for Coming Attractions:

Part II: Events Prophesied...Prophecies Fulfilled. 

... These two parts will be broken down and delved into in detail.

Daniel 6:16-18
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.

17 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 music brought before him: and his sleep went from him.
Darius found himself between a rock and a hard place. 

He had to do the deed, and Daniel was brought to what all assumed would be his imminent death. But note what the king said in verse 16,
"Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee."

What a vote of confidence for Daniel. Darius was rooting for his friend Daniel and was praying that his God would see him through the disastrous ordeal. But would it be enough to spare Daniel the pain and physical destruction of his body?
"Why did Darius use a lion's den when the fiery furnace was still in existence?"
Many people have asked me, Well this is because the Babylonians-the former rulers-made it their practice to use a furnace as the primary vehicle to execute dissidents and enemies, as they'd attempted to do with the three Hebrew children. But now, under a new administration-the Medes and the Persians-this was not the appropriate means of execution. Here's the reason.

The Medes and the Persians gave their allegiance to a religion called Zoroastrianism, and they worshiped the fire god, Atar.

For them to use fire to execute their enemies would be to desecrate their teachings, putting them on the verge of religious sacrilege. Their alternative to fire was a large den of ravenously hungry lions, not the cage of sleepy beasts we might see lying about when we visit the lion section of a local zoo. This lion's den was an immense square cavern carved out of the ground to about the size of a large home. In the middle of the cavern was a partition with doors.

From above, the workers could manipulate the doors to make them open and close. When they wanted to clean the den, they would jump down on the one side in safety because the lions were held back by the partition. When they wanted to throw raw meat-or their screaming enemies-to the hungry beasts, they would do just the opposite. Now, it was Daniel's turn to be lowered to the floor of the cavern below. The lions were hungry, pawing at the partition, ready to eat whatever would be placed on the other side of the door. We can only surmise what was in Daniel's mind as he waited for the panel to open.

With the stone on the den now firmly in place-sealed by the king and then again by his officials-the drama was ready to unfold. Apparently Darius did not choose to see what he feared might be the inevitable. Instead, he returned to his palace where he spent yet another sleepless night. The usual dancing girls, animated orchestra, rich foods, and night of revelry were canceled. Instead, Darius fasted-praying, in his own way, for the God of the Hebrews to put His cloak of protection around his friend.

I'm OK, O King.

Daniel 6:19-23
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 exceedingly 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.
Perhaps you've had a loved one who was sent to the hospital emergency ward. You prayed all night for his or her recovery. But you've received no word. All night you wondered, worried, and prayed for the one you loved. Then, early the next morning, you jumped into your car and rushed to the hospital to check on the person for whom you cared so much.

Well, that's how Darius must have felt when he rose from his bed at the breaking of dawn the next morning. He didn't stay around for his usual bath or breakfast, or to be waited on by his servants. He had only one objective: to go to the lion's den and check on the condition of his friend. I can almost feel his heavy breathing as he made the trek from his sleeping chamber to the large cavern where the lions were kept. Would Daniel be alive? Or would there only be a few scraps of bones?

When he arrived at the den, his voice cracked and trembled as he cried out, "Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?" The time between the king's cry and Daniel's response must have seemed like an eternity to Darius. Then, the king heard what he wanted to hear-what any friend wants to hear about a friend in trouble-that he was all right.

The score was:

It's no accident that the writer of the Book of Hebrews would later write about this victorious deliverance when he stated: "Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions" (Hebrews 11:33). God had indeed paralyzed the mouths of what may have been as many as two hundred hungry lions, and Daniel's life was spared. Picture the scene: A king and his friend are reunited, as Daniel is pulled back up through the opening in the cavern. The prayers of both men were heard as God again venerated Daniel's loyalty, faith, and allegiance.

Keep the Lions Handy - and Hungry

Daniel 6:24
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.
The wheels of justice moved swiftly that day as the king commanded that all 120 princes, two presidents, and their families be rounded up and brought to the cavern. The law of the Medes and Persians stated that whatever punishment was meted out to a leader, his family would also experience.

So if we consider an average family of the day to be four persons, there could have been as many as five hundred individuals dropped through the ceiling into the lion's den, where the beasts-thwarted from having a good meal the night before- ripped their prey to shreds.

Some, in fact, were killed mid-air since the verse says, "the lions had the mastery of them, and brake all their bones in pieces or ever they came at the bottom of the den" (6:24).

No more would Darius be subjected to their jealousy and rage. The punishment they'd designed for Daniel was now their own undoing. By also killing his leaders' families, the king had eliminated the possibility of reprisals, and even potential assassination attempts on himself.

These were not toothless lions as some have suggested. They were the same beasts that had simply skipped a meal to be used to destroy the jealousy-filled conspirators against God's prophet. The message of this passage?

Be careful not to attack the prophets of God-God's duly ordained ministers.

Psalm 105:15 says, "Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm."

It is your duty and mine to obey God, and to give honor and respect to those who declare the word of truth.

Some of today's "lions" waiting to devour God's servants may not be of the four-legged variety, but they, too, will surely pay the price if they demonstrate by their actions that they are failing to live in obedience to God's warning about His servants.

A New Proclamation Is Issued

Daniel 6:25-28
25 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.
Zoroaster and Atar, the god of fire, could not do the job. The lions couldn't do what the enemy had set them up to do.

Treachery born of avarice had not won the day. It was the living God who again stepped in and reminded the Gentile establishment that enough was enough. I've always wondered why Darius did not fall on his knees and get converted right there on the spot. Perhaps he did, and we just do not have the written account.

But I have a sneaking suspicion that as he made his decree for all his subjects to serve Daniel's God, in his heart he may have said, "My beloved Daniel, I want your God. I want a God in my life who can paralyze the mouths of two hundred hungry lions. I want a God to do what Zoroaster and Atar cannot do. I want a God who is faithful and true, and not subject to human whim.

Have you ever been there?

Where all your best laid plans, investments, manipulation of people and events have simply not given you what you really wanted from life? I'm sure we've all had those experiences. That's why we must remember that there comes a time when only the Holy Spirit can do the job.

Jesus said, in John 6:44,
44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
This is one of the key messages of this chapter. 

You see, this is more than simply a story about Daniel in a den of hungry lions. It's a narrative of God's enormous power, great love, compassionate mercy, overwhelming friendship, and the timeless reality that He will always have the last word in every situation-lions present or not. These first six chapters are prologue to the great prophecies yet to come-simply reminders that earthly kingdoms will always come and go, but the kingdom of God is an eternal one, the warm-up message for what we will now begin to analyze in chapters seven through twelve, the prophetic portion of the Book of Daniel.


Monday, January 05, 2015

Daniel: Part 1: vol 16 January, 05, 2015

A study on the book of Daniel.
We will divide the study into two major parts:

Part I: A History of the Times...And the Setup for Coming Attractions:

Part II: Events Prophesied...Prophecies Fulfilled. 

... These two parts will be broken down and delved into in detail.

Daniel 6:4-9
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.

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.
In actions that demonstrated the depth of their anti-Semitism, the Gentile administrators compelled to work with Daniel were determined to find a way to put this man down once and for all. How could they tolerate the presence of a Jew in such a high position-one greater than their own? That was the rub. So they pulled Daniel's file. I can just see them scouring the official records looking for just one act of impropriety, for some minute administrative error.

Perhaps they'd find that some unaccounted for, under-the-table money had changed hands. Perhaps Daniel had been derelict in his duties earlier on, but no one had caught the mistake. They searched to the point of exhaustion, only to end their quest unsuccessfully. As much as they hated to admit it, Daniel was apparently as good as everyone said he was.

The only thing they could find wrong with him was that he served God. What a marvelous indictment, and would it. not be wonderful if our detractors were to say the same thing about you and me? But it will only be said about us as we remain people of the Book who live on our knees in devoted worship to our heavenly Father. It's what Luke says as he reminds us of the words of Jesus,

"And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint" (Luke 18:1).

That's our choice: We can either pray or faint. It's either one or the other, and Daniel never stopped praying. Because of this, his fellow administrators figured they'd finally discovered the smoking gun they were looking for, and that's when their treachery began.

Today we might call it "bootlicking"-cozying up to someone from whom we might want a favor or some special arrangement. This is what Daniel's "friends" did by going to Darius with their newly-hatched scheme to catch Daniel in the act of praying. It's important to realize that it was not just a few who plotted against Daniel.

Remember, there were 120 princes and three presidents-the first of whom was Daniel. That means there were 122 government servants under the Medes and the Persians who had turned against Daniel. The vote was 122 to 1. How could any politician survive those odds? And it all started with a vile, dirty little sin called jealousy. You might say, Well, I don't go out and get drunk; I don't commit adultery; I don't steal; I have never murdered a person... but if your heart is filled with envy, that not-so-small sin will remove you from the presence of God eternally unless repentance occurs.

Galatians 5:19-21 reads,
19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
God's Word is constantly reminding us to check out our hearts, and find out if we are envious of the position, wealth, or appearance of others. Daniel didn't compare himself with the Smiths and the Joneses of his day, and neither should we. Daniel had higher goals, and his message to us is that if we are to truly know God, we, too, must have goals and objectives that reflect our love for the Savior. 

Meanwhile, Daniel's enemies got their way as they pushed through a decree that promised a den filled with lions for those who worshipped any god other than the king. What a fool-proof idea.

Finally, they would get this Jew who had been elevated to such a lofty position of leadership. Yes, a den of lions. That would surely do it. Not even a praying Daniel could extricate himself from those hungry beasts. Something else: They reminded the king that when a decree is signed, it is an irrevocable law of the Medes and the Persians. The king knew this, but because of the pressure of virtually his entire administrative staff, he complied with their wishes, signing the document on the spot.

Daniel 6:10-15
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.

11 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.
These verses are a mini-treatise of what true friendship is all about, even though it may seem to be expressed in a context we might not expect. Here is a powerful king, Darius, who has signed a decree under considerable duress, now only to be made aware that his friend, counselor, and confidant, Daniel, has been "caught in the act" of praying to the God of the Hebrews. I've seen some Christians "scratch their eyebrows" as they bowed their heads and intoned a quick prayer in a restaurant, hoping that no one would see them praying before eating their food. Not Daniel. No secretive scratching of Jewish eyebrows for this saint of God.

Daniel knew the decree had been signed, and that his life was on the line. Yet, he continued to pray three times a day, as was the Jewish custom, and not just pray, but pray before an open window! He wanted everyone to know what he was doing and to whom he gave his allegiance as he bowed his head humbly toward Jerusalem, not toward, the headquarters of the Medes and the Persians.

Matthew 10:32-33 reminds us that,
32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. 33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
It was true in Daniel's day, and it is true in ours. God doesn't put much stock in would-be believers who quietly "scratch their eyebrows" for fear of being caught in the act of praying.
Later, Jesus added,
38 Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. (Mark 8:38).
While the first six chapters of Daniel are more historical and devotional, do not forget that the essential content of Daniel- seen more graphically in the last six chapters-is about the return of Messiah, the coming again of Christ, a moment in time when Jesus will remind us that if we have been ashamed of Him, He will be ashamed of us. It cuts both ways.

The crown hangs forever heavy on the head of any ruler, and this night the head of Darius was heavy indeed. He realized he'd been tricked by his own staff just so they could get their man. The problem was that their man was also Darius's man- but for completely different reasons. Darius loved Daniel. It didn't matter that Daniel was a Jew in exile, that he was well up in years, or that he continued to worship the God of Father Abraham. Daniel was his friend, and Darius loved him.

But now his friend was about to be thrown into a den of lions-and it was all his fault. Love-real love-seeks to overrule even the strictest, most binding decree. But, in this case, not even Darius's friendship with Daniel would be enough to save the day or the man. He had signed the proclamation.

He had bowed to the pressure of putting himself in a position to be worshipped. Now, he would pay the consequence by losing his dear friend.

That evening, the kingly head tossed and turned, unable to sleep. Darius wished he could undo his terrible decree, but it was a law that could not be altered. An eighty-five-year-old saint and friend was about to be devoured by hungry lions, and that's all Darius could think about throughout the long, painful night


Monday, December 01, 2014

Daniel: Part 1: vol 15 December, 01, 2014

A study on the book of Daniel.
We will divide the study into two major parts:

Part I: A History of the Times...And the Setup for Coming Attractions:

Part II: Events Prophesied...Prophecies Fulfilled. 

... These two parts will be broken down and delved into in detail.

Belshazzar's Response

Daniel 5:29-31
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.

30 In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain.

31 And Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old.
It was a Babylonian Pearl Harbor. A sneak attack. Just as American soldiers would be ill-prepared on that fateful day in Honolulu on December 7, 1941, so great a devastation was about to come to Babylon. How the two great armies made their way into the city is a military stratagem worthy of explanation.

Here's how the Medes and Persians won the day. Babylon was built on the Euphrates River, with a huge wall-like fort surrounding it. It was so formidable that no one could scale it. To ensure even greater security, the moats around the walls were filled with water, so enemies would have to swim across and through those deep waters if they were to have any chance at approaching the city wall. 

With these precautions firmly in place, the Babylonians lived with a strong sense of security. But they didn't count on the military cunning of the Medes and the Persians under their rulers, Darius and Cyrus. The two enemies of Babylon put their heads together and figured out a way to enter-and capture-the city.

First, they blocked off the flow of the Euphrates River until the water around the city dried up. They then waited until the moat was dry, stepped into it, dug a trench under the wall, and in full battle gear marched through the underground canals into the city-while Belshazzar's orgy was in full swing. It was an enormous military success. That night-only moments after the handwriting had appeared on the plaster wall-the troops entered the hall and killed Belshazzar.

This story has given rise to some compelling verse by an unknown poet who has written:

Pause in this desert! Here, men say, of old
Belshazzar reigned, and drank from cups of gold
Here, to his hideous idols, bowed the slave,
And here - God struck him dead!
Where lies his grave?
'Tis lost! - His brazen gates? His soaring towers?
From whose dark tops men watch the starry hours?
All to the dust gone down! The desert bare
Scarce yields an echo when we question "Where?"
The lonely herdsman seeks in vain the spot;
And the black wandering Arab knows it not.
No brick, no fragment, lingers now, to tell
Where Babylon (mighty city!) rose and fell
O city, vast and old!
Where, where is thy grandeur fled?
The stream that around thee rolled
Still rolls in its ancient bed!
But where, oh where art thou gone?
O Babylon! O Babylon!
The giant, when he dies,
Still leaveth his bones behind,
To shrink in the winter skies,
And whiten beneath the wind!
But where, oh where are thou gone?
O Babylon! O Babylon!
Tho liv'st - for thy name still glows
A light in the desert skies;
As the fame of the hero grows
Thrice trebled because he died!
But where, oh where art thou gone?
O Babylon! O Babylon!

Before the attack, Daniel was rewarded with his promised clothes of scarlet and gold jewelry, but Belshazzar had little time to enjoy the presentation. God's judgment on the wickedness of the young ruler was swift and complete, and Darius the Mede took the kingdom at sixty-two years of age. It was the end of an era-as Daniel had prophesied years before to Belshazzar's grandfather.

But our story is not yet half told. There is still more excitement and palace intrigue to come as we see a devilish plot developing to destroy Daniel, even as he continues to pray fearlessly at his open window to the God of the Hebrews. Daniel, courageous under any Babylonian administration, remained brave and in full compliance with the laws of his God, even when it meant being thrown unjustly into a den of hungry lions. This kind of spiritual courage eventually led him to the ultimate in prosperity, the engaging subject of chapter six.

Preferred above Princes But not without Lions

Daniel 6:1-3
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.

Recently, I was telling a friend that I was going to do a major exposition on the Book of Daniel, and he said, "Oh, that's about Daniel in the lion's den." I replied, "Yes, but there's much more to the book than that." It appears that just about everyone knows this story. Unfortunately, for many, that's all they know about this mysterious book that provides information on multiplied end-time events that only now, in our generation, are being unsealed-something we'll investigate in greater depth when analyzing chapters seven through twelve.

But we're getting a bit ahead of our story. First, some background. Daniel had now served under six administrations as a faithful, wise, competent counselor-all the more remarkable since he was a Jew, a member of that reluctant group of captives brought from Jerusalem to Babylon, and one who never really fit into this foreign culture. Daniel was a survivor because God gave him the strength and the courage to stand up for his faith. And now, in chapter six, we're going to see that strength tested once again.

For anyone to serve six political administrations is a tremendous feat. That's one of many reasons I admire Dr. Billy Graham and the enormous respect he has earned as counselor and friend to so many United States presidents. That's a long, impressive history of relationships with our nation's top leaders. It was also a long time for Daniel.

For this man of God it had all started with the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, who ultimately lost his kingdom when Babylon was handed over to the Medes and the Persians that fateful night when Beishazzar was preoccupied with wine, women, and song. Then the handwriting began to appear on the wall and the Medo-Persian conquest occurred as the new leaders immediately executed three thousand political prisoners, including all of Babylon's princes and presidents.

However, as you'll recall, at the last moment of his life, Belshazzar made Daniel the third in command. Imagine this scenario if you were Darius or Cyrus, leaders of the Medes and the Persians: You conquer a nation, rape and pillage virtually everyone and everything in sight, you kill all the country's key leaders-yet despite your best efforts at assuming complete control, there is still this person, Daniel, who is number three in the kingdom-and who seemingly can't be eliminated. Why wasn't he killed with the others? Why was Daniel, of all people, left to survive and to become a nuisance to the new administration?

The only answer I can give is that God always sets up those He wants elevated. God had a plan for Daniel's life, and now even the new kings-Darius and Cyrus-find themselves appreciating Daniel and his administrative abilities, so much so that they make him a president in their kingdom. So, Daniel was one of the three appointed heads of state-at eighty-five years of age.


Monday, September 29, 2014

Daniel: Part 1: vol 07 September 29, 2014

A study on the book of Daniel.
We will divide the study into two major parts:

Part I: A History of the Times...And the Setup for Coming Attractions:

Part II: Events Prophesied...Prophecies Fulfilled.

... These two parts will be broken down and delved into in detail.

Daniel 3 ...
Daniel 3:1-7 | 1 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.

Nebuchadnezzar II
We said earlier that kings will be kings, and Nebuchadnezzar II was no exception.

One moment Daniel had Nebuchadnezzar’s undivided attention, almost persuading him of the’ ultimate power of the one, true God; the next minute, the king was again egocentric and self-promoting, forgetting Daniel’s prophecy and its implications.

Perhaps the king was simply denying his mighty Babylonian kingdom would ever really collapse-especially at the hands of the Medo-Persian empire.

A Preview of 666

Imagine the sight of a golden image of Nebuchadnezzar II that was ninety feet high {27.432m} (sixty cubits) and nine feet wide {2.7432m} (six cubits in all, a cubit being approximately eighteen inches), erected on the plain of Dura. While the ‘golden image may simply have appeared to be little more than a massive statue, it actually holds great prophetic meaning and is yet another end-time mystery about to be unsealed.

For example, the numbers 66 come together here: the number of man (sixty cubits high) and six cubits wide, resembling the number of the Antichrist in Revelation 13:16-18 (six cubits). This gives us a reference to the time when the Antichrist comes into power and his false prophet sets up an image of his likeness in the temple. Revelation 13:15 says,
"And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed."
Faucet's Bible Dictionary Encyclopedia reports that the archaeologist Opert once journeyed to present day Iraq-the area of biblical Babylon-and excavated what most evangelical scholars believe is the pedestal on which Nebuchadnezzar’s great image had been placed-proving this biblical event really happened! Some believe the gold statue may have been built to honor Nebuchadnezzar’s deceased father, Nabopolassar. Others suggest it was erected to appease  Marduk (aka Bel) - the revered pagan gods of Babylon. More likely, the image was a representation of the king himself.

Nebuchadnezzar II had a flair for publicity, and he knew where to position the gigantic statue so that no one could miss seeing it. While Babylon was a skyscraper city of its day, the plain of Dura was a huge mound of earth, about six miles southeast of Babylon, probably a walled area that Nebuchadnezzar II could have easily used as a focal point to stage an event of this enormity.

Anything constructed in that area would be seen for miles around. Its strategic position allowed for thousands of people to descend on the area at once, thus giving the king a venue for a mass rally where loyal supporters could bow and pay their homage to the king. This seemed to be a carefully planned "photo op" for Nebuchadnezzar II and an event which all the chief officers of the land were commanded to attend-including Daniel’s three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego.

Fail to Bow... Pay the Price

Here we catch a glimpse of Nebuchadnezzar’s political acumen and get a dramatic preview of the activities of the Antichrist to come. The king knew he had to keep certain conquered peoples under his thumb at all times, and what better vehicle than native religion to promote the power of the state? Nebuchadnezzar II knew that whatever officials saw that day on the plain of Dura, they would take back to those captives under their jurisdiction.

Apparently Daniel was somewhere else in the realm on business for the king, since he was not present at the unveiling of the golden image. In fact, Daniel is not even mentioned in this chapter. For the first time in our story, his three friends are on their own {Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego}. But because Daniel had exerted such great moral and spiritual influence on his companions, compromise with foreign gods was out of the question.

However, these three faithful Hebrews would pay a terrible price for not bowing to the image. King Nebuchadnezzar II would try to have them killed, picturing an approaching day when the Antichrist carries out the same penalty on those who refuse to bow to his image and reject his mark, 666. At first reading this passage simply appears to be a provocative piece of biblical history. Closer observation, however, tells us that this story speaks to where you and I are today-and where we are quickly headed.

For instance, during the Tribulation hour, the Antichrist will make an image of himself (Revelation 13:15), and anyone who will not worship that image will be killed, even as those who refused to bow to the image of Nebuchadnezzar II were threatened with destruction in a furnace of fire. The only difference between the two events is magnitude. The Tribulation hour will be a time when fire engulfs the earth. Revelation 8:7 says,
"And the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up."
Revelation 9:18 tells us:
"By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone."
Accompanying all this mayhem will be the Antichrist, who says, "If you don’t worship me and my image, you're going to die.Revelation 20:4 says,
"And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image."
Matthew 25:31-46, however, declares that there will be multitudes who will survive the seven-year period without taking the number. I’m not sure how, but they will persevere, just as the three Hebrew children ultimately survived their trial by fire.

Nebuchadnezzar - Picture of the Antichrist

So the statue on the plain of Dura was more than just an image of a king. It graphically represented the king’s continued rebellion against God-just as the Antichrist will become the definition of rebellion against the Almighty. The image also indicated that the king was egocentric, offering his image to the people as a symbol of self-deification. Again, there are Antichrist implications (Daniel 11:36).

Politically, Nebuchadnezzar needed a strong, unifying force to continue to bring together the disparate tribes and nations that fell to the power of Babylon. In short, Nebuchadnezzar’s purpose was to institute a totalitarian regime, and this was one way to galvanize the people’s attention and allegiance. What better description can we find in Scripture of the political prowess of the Antichrist to come!

Not surprisingly, when the word went out that this was "bow down" time, the officials, governors, and whoever else had managed to get to Dura that day paid obeisance to the king right on cue. Imagine the scene. Nebuchadnezzar was so fully in control of this grand event that he even had it choreographed. When the conductor of this desert orchestra of cornets, flutes, harps, sackbuts (stringed instruments), psalteries, and dulcimers lowered his baton, it was time to fall to one’s knees.

And that’s what the masses did: They looked at the great statue, and they fell down to worship.

Why not?

To remain standing in defiance of the king’s order would mean certain death in a fiery furnace.


Sunday, September 28, 2014

America's Soldiers Singing "Days of Elijah"

There's No God Like Jehovah

Published on 17 Sep 2014
America's wonderful men and women in uniform participating in worship, lifting their voices to Almighty God as they sing "Days of Elijah." Love the energy and camaraderie as they praise the God of Psalm 91.

Islamic Extremism, Nigel Farage says UK & USA Need to be like Australia.

Nigel Farage: leader of the UK Independence Party
We need to be like Australia: "Accept our Ways Accept our Values or Leave"
Nigel Farage British politician and leader of the UK Independence Party since 2010. Since 1999 he as been a Member of the European Parliament for South East England, and he co-chairs the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (formerly "Europe of Freedom and Democracy") group. Farage was a founding member of UKIP, having left the Conservative Party in 1992 after the signing of the Maastricht Treaty.

Nigel Farage On The Sean Hannity Show On Islamic Extremism

Friday, September 26, 2014

Not by Sight

Gods Good For His Word

Psalm 18:30   (ESV)
This God—his way is perfect;
    the word of the Lord proves true;
    he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.

God is not man, that he should lie,
    or a son of man, that he should change his mind.
Has he said, and will he not do it?
    Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Daniel: Part 1: vol 06 September 22, 2014

A study on the book of Daniel.
We will divide the study into two major parts:

Part I: A History of the Times...And the Setup for Coming Attractions:

Part II: Events Prophesied...Prophecies Fulfilled. 

... These two parts will be broken down and delved into in detail.
Kingdoms Come... Kingdoms Go ...
continued from vol 5 Daniel 2: 36 - 45
36 This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king. 37 Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory. 38 And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold. 39 And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth. 40 And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise. 41 And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters' clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay. 42 And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken. 43 And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay. 44 And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. 45 Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.

Marduk, Babylon’s chief god, was also called the "god of gold"-something that surely did not escape the king’s notice. 

In fact, the precious metal gold was almost synonymous with the nation of Babylon. There was gold everywhere-in the ornate palaces, the worship places, and the ubiquitous shrines. Even the walls were overlaid with what was then the most precious substance in existence. 

Now King Nebuchadnezzar was told that all this gold would one day be swept away by a second kingdom, the kingdom of Medo-Persia.

This later became a historic fact when the two disparate cultures-the Medes and the Persians-united in 550 B.C. under one king to form a great world power.

This was the "silver" part of the statue and a proper representation of the Medo-Persian empire since the Medes and Persians based their partnership on the power of money collected through an elaborate system of taxation. Nebuchadnezzar must have been relieved to hear Daniel prophesy that this "silver" kingdom would be inferior to his own, probably because as a partnership nation,

Medo-Persia did not have the political and military unity of Babylon. But despite this weakness, Medo-Persia would one day break the "head of gold.

Because God’s Word speaks only the truth, we should not be surprised to note that Daniel’s prophecy became reality when Medo-Persia brought Babylon to its knees in military defeat in 539 B.C.

But what about the third kingdom, the belly and thighs of brass? 

The element bronze later became a characterization of the Greek empire, primarily because the Greeks used it extensively as the material for their weapons of war. Daniel foresaw that Greece would one day "bear rule over all the earth" (2:3, 9). History shows that Greece did dominate the world of its day. The kingdom of Alexander the Great encompassed much more of the known world than Babylon or Medo-Persia ever did. Again, a prophecy of Daniel was fulfilled in world history.

The Renewal of the Roman Empire

Imagine how Nebuchadnezzar must have reacted to the news from this young prophet. His was probably a mixture of fear and disbelief. But we must also note that Daniel wasn't finished yet, and the king did not interrupt Daniel’s interpretation.

After the world-dominating empire of bronze another empire would arise-a fourth kingdom composed of two legs of iron. 

This kingdom would be Rome with its "two legs" representing the expansive empires of the Western Roman Empire, headquartered in Rome, and the Eastern Roman Empire, with the cosmopolitan city of Constantinople as its capital. 

This empire also would fall.

The great historian Edward Gibbon powerfully describes it in his work entitled The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. However, just before Christ returns, this empire will revive as the iron mixed with clay begins to wiggle in the form of ten toes.

Only God could have given Daniel the wisdom to know what is now becoming reality for us who live in the beginning days of the twenty-first century.

According to Daniel, the final revival of the Roman Empire would be comprised of a confederation of ten nations, which would finally lead to a new world order encompassing the globe .

Why would they come together?

For monetary and military security and strength-something we're already seeing as the European Union moves ahead with such plans at break-neck speed. Thus, Nebuchadnezzar’s image with ten toes pictured the revival and conclusion of the Roman Empire.

Note: the gradual deterioration of the metals in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream: from gold to silver to bronze to iron to clay, a clear demonstration that as history marches on, men and their cultures become increasingly corrupt

Tregelles is a scholar who has called attention to the decreasing "specific gravity" of each of these metals: For example, the specific gravity of :
  • Gold is 19; 
  • Silver, 11; 
  • Brass, 8.5; 
  • Cast iron, 7.8; 
  • Iron & Clay, 1.93.
The world in which you and I live-the world of the fourth and revived fifth kingdom as prophesied by Daniel-is going to get worse up to the moment that the great stone breaks the feet of the image. That stone is Jesus Christ, who becomes a mountain and fills the entire earth.

"And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever" (2:44).

The Ten Toes Begin to Wiggle

The entire end-time message is predicted here in the Book of Daniel thousands of years, in some instances, before the actual historical events occurred-just as Rabbi Shvili in 1935 suggested in his book, Reckonings of Redemption. How could Daniel know this? Because God, historically, has chosen to reveal His secrets through spirit-anointed prophets.

Let’s bring Daniel’s prophecy even closer to home.

There was a long interval between the time when Rome’s power began to wane and fall-around 476 A.D.-and the year 1947 when the "ten toes" ; of the statue began to wiggle.

First of all, Benelux met in that year-Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg- creating the first three members of the confederation.

In 1957, three additional nations met with the countries of Benelux- Italy, France, and Germany-for a total of six, ratified by the Treaty of Rome.

Little by little, in our daily newspapers, we see a revival of the Roman Empire just as Daniel predicted. In 1973, England, Ireland, and Denmark joined the confederation, making it a total of nine members. Then, on New Year’s Day, 1981, Greece became number ten. The time that Daniel prophesied is here. We are living in the latter days, and Jesus is coming soon.

Jesus Is Our Rock

One of the most profound messages of these verses is that you and I don't have to worry about straightening out our world. We have almighty God, Adonai, who is in charge of the affairs of earth. Jesus is the rock, that stone, on which the true church is built. You'll remember in Matthew that Jesus asked the apostle Peter, "Whom do men say that I am?" Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of God." And Jesus said, "On this rock I will build my church" (see 16:13-18). Christ was that rock (1 Corinthians 10:4).

Yes, the rock in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream that eventually engulfs the entire world, a rock that will hit the feet, not the head-Babylon; not the chest and arms of silver- the Medes and the Persians; not the stomach and thighs of brass-Greece; not the legs of iron-Rome. They went out of existence. 

Instead, the rock strikes that group that revives at the time of the end-the ten toes, the restored Roman Empire.

Thus, on January 1, 1981, when Greece became number ten, pictured by the ten toes on the image, we were given the clearest signal yet that we were headed toward the end times and would soon be ushered into an environment that would be ready for the return of Christ as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

God’s Sovereignty

We can therefore reasonably conclude that the dream of Daniel chapter two reveals that the Kingdom of God will soon be established in connection with the second coming of our Savior. Daniel 2:44 states, and I repeat this for the sake of emphasis,

44 "And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever."

It’s all starting to happen. Just as the image in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream contained metals that degraded as they descended from gold to iron and clay, so will the world in which you and I live become increasingly apostate and the more our society at large will be governed by outright militarism as its only vehicle to control the violence that is present and that is yet to come.

What was the actual purpose of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream?

To show God’s sovereign rule over the affairs of men, leading to the future Gentile world domination and its ultimate destruction, to be replaced by a Kingdom and a King who would reign forever on earth (Matthew 6:10).
One of the reasons the Book of Daniel is so important is that it provides us with a complete scenario for the end times. And it all begins to wind down with the current revival of the Roman Empire, which I believe is the present-day European Union. After this episode is completed, there is no more. This will be the last empire, and it will continue into the latter days, with the Antichrist as the primary figure taking over the resurrected Roman Empire (Revelation 17:10). He will be a dictator of world proportions and will rule the world of his day just as King Nebuchadnezzar ruled his world as leader of Babylon.

But for those of us who know the whole story, we need not fear the perilous times yet to come because "the stone [which] was cut out of the mountain without hands" (2:45) is none other than the person of Jesus Christ, God’s anointed, our Savior, the Rock of our salvation. When He returns to gather His own, God will establish His Kingdom which will prevail in our world, and for a thousand years all beings on earth will be tremendously blessed under the personal reign of the Lord Jesus Christ.
46 Then the king Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face, and worshipped Daniel, and commanded that they should offer an oblation and sweet odours unto him. 47 The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret. 48 Then the king made Daniel a great man, and gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon. 49 Then Daniel requested of the king, and he set Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, over the affairs of the province of Babylon: but Daniel sat in the gate of the king.

Daniel’s God Is Greatest!

Nebuchadnezzar’s subjects often fell on their faces before their leader, but for the king to subject himself to such a humble posture meant that Daniel had indeed gotten through to him. It also appeared that Nebuchadnezzar may have been making some spiritual progress, revealed by his act of contrition, admitting that Daniel’s God was the greatest god of all. The king made good on his promise that he would reward the wise one who met the demands of speaking and interpreting his dream, and Daniel was subsequently exalted throughout the realm.

But Daniel, always a man of integrity, did not forget his friends, and requested that the king give them key positions as well. His wish was granted. Daniel continued to be a person of great influence in the king’s court by being allowed to sit in the gate of the king-a position of judge, the equivalent of a Supreme Court justice and confidant of the king. Yet Daniel never compromised his standards in that foreign land.

Through it all, Daniel remained faithful to his God, continuing to speak the truth fearlessly, always serving notice to Nebuchadnezzar that God alone, not earthly kings, has the real power. God does not tremble at the sight of monarchs. If anything, He laughs at their rebellion, and in Psalm 2:1-4-a passage that pictures the battle of Armageddon-we read:

1 Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?

2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against theLord, and against his anointed, saying,

3 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.

4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.

But kings will be kings. Seemingly a victim of short-term memory, Nebuchadnezzar goes on yet another rampage.

During his recurring paranoia he commands that his servants turn up the heat in the palace furnace seven times hotter.

It’s a futile attempt to destroy three Hebrew teenagers-surely one of the most fascinating and familiar stories in all the Bible, and a dramatic preview of the real wrath that is yet to come during the Tribulation hour-another mystery which we will see unsealed.