Current Message

To get your own copy of the message...
Download the file from the Written Message Page and
Get a sound recording of the message from the Audio Messages Page.
Watch the message on our YouTube Channel.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

posted Aug 18, 2019, 5:17 PM by Site Administrator

1

 

A GENTLE WHISPER

 

1 Kings 19:1-21

Key Verse 1:12 

 

After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.

 

First, "After the fire came a gentle whisper" (1-12).

 

In the previous passage we saw how Israel had turned their back on God by worshipping Baal. King Ahab was the King of Israel, and Jezebel his wife supported the worship of Baal. In modern terms, Baal worship was the national religion, and there were450 Baal prophets who were on the government payroll. Elijah challenged the people of Israel to repent. There on Mount Carmel, he had a show down with the prophets of Baal. God helped him and revealed Himself powerfully. God proved to the people of Israel that the Lord was God. Then Elijah ended up killing all 450 prophets of Baal in the Kishon Valley. This is the continuation of 1st Kings chapter 18, so lets see what happens! 

 

Look at verse 1. Check out verses 1-7. At the news in Mount Carmel, Jezebel was furious. She sent a messenger to Elijah saying “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.” Even after hearing what the Lord had done, she still wanted to kill Elijah. She was a really wicked person. In Elijah’smind, even though he had such a great victory, outwardly nothing seemed to change. Still evil Queen Jezebel was in charge, these idol worshippers were in charge and was now trying to kill himHe felt like giving up and wanted to just dieSo he fled to another country where he was safe. But he didn’t stop there. He went a day’s journey into the desert without food or water. When he came to a broom tree, he sat down under it and said "I have had enough, LORD, Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors." He had no other desire than to just die there in the desert. He was completely defeated. 

 

Elijah was a zealous man of God, but in this passage, we see a totally different person – no longer a zealous and powerful man of God, but a fearful man who wanted to give up his life and his missionHow did he get this way? It's because he felt that, despite his wholehearted struggle, there was no change at all; even if he fought such a great fight and won such a great victory on Mount Carmel, it seemed that nothing had changed; it seemed that this idol worship in Israel was invincible since the government, especially Jezebel was supporting it; he felt so defeated. He was depressed; he gave up everything, and became suicidal. 

 

 

God understood his sense of frustration and despair so God sent him his angel with food and water. All at once an angel touched him and said, "Get up and eat." He looked around, and there by his head was a cake of bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank. He knew that God sent this food for him; but after eating, he lay down again, showing nothing had changed; he didn't want to do anything - just leave me alone. 7 The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said, "Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you." So, he ate it again. After eating two times, his sense of frustration subsided; he came to his own mind a little bit and was refreshed. With food and water, God sustained Elijah; that's how God helped his servant when he was really defeated and depressed. So we see, eating is important. 

 

Strengthened by the food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. Before, he had no direction - he just wanted to die in the desert. But now after eating the food, he picked up a direction, that was, to go to the mountain of God. Why? Because he had a serious question in his mind and really wanted to see what God would say about it. 

 

 Look at verse 9a. It reads: "There he went into a cave and spent the night." Horeb was like God’s house; Elijah knew that there he would meet God; he knew that God noticed his coming. But once he arrived, instead of saying "Hello" to God, he just went into a cave and without saying a word to God, he slept. He was like a son who is angry at his father that when he comes home, just ignores his father and goes to his room and locks the door and sleeps all day long. God spoke to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" Actually Elijah was being strange andacting a fool. He was a man of zeal, a man of a fighting spirit. He was a man of fire. He was willing to die for God. He was the one who called fire from heaven and burned the offering and killed 450 Baal prophets and turned the people of Israels hearts to God. He should be on the mission field doing Gods work; but instead, what was he doing there in that cave, at Horeb, being fearful of Jezebel, a mere Gentile woman? So God said to him, "What are doing here, Elijah?" It was a gentle rebuke. 

 

 

Elijah answered, "I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too." Elijah’s thinking was that Israel did such bad and terrible things but I took great courage and zeal and struggled hard for the Lord. He thought God just left things alone and did not do anything, even after Elijah worked so hard. In this way Elijah was challenging God. At this, God spoke to him, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by." Now God was going to give his answer to Elijah. Look at verse 11. Let’s read this verse together:

 

11The Lord said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by." Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 

 

A great and powerful wind began to blow; it was so powerful that it tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord. God had already told him that He would pass by. So when Elijah saw this powerful wind, he was sure that it was from God. He tried to find God in the wind. But verse 11 says, "but the Lord was not in the wind." Elijah was confused. God should be in such a powerful and great wind, but the Lord was not there in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake. The whole mountain shook violently and the cave was about to collapse; Elijah thought that God must be in the earthquake; so he looked for God, but again, the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire. At this Elijah said alright this is my specialty – fire! "But the Lord was not in the fire." Now Elijah was really disappointed. Then, after the fire, a gentle whisper came. Let’s read verse 12 together:

 

12After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 

 

God was not there in the powerful wind, or in the earthquake, and even in the fire, but in a gentle whisper. A whisper is so tiny, then what about a gentle one? Unless Elijah paid close attention to it, he could have missed it. While he tried hard to find God in the strong wind, in the powerful earthquake and in the scorching fire, he almost failed to catch God’s gentle whisper. Actually, in Israel, he failed to see God working hard because he was looking for such awesome and powerful thingsas God's work; he didn’t know that God was working in a gentle whisper. Elijah’s desire was to see a nationwide-repentance movement. But he didn’t see thousands’ of people repenting in sackcloth and ashes. Instead, what he saw was Jezebel’s threat. In his eyes, there was no powerful work of God in Israel; it seemed that God was not working so hard.

 

Now God showed him that he was in a gentle whisper. God was working hard in Israel, but not in extravagant ways, not outwardly, but in a gentle whisper, quietly, helping people one by one to remember God’s grace and turn to Him. God was working hard in Israel, but so quietly and individually that now as we see in verse 18, he had seven thousand men whose hearts were fully dedicated to him. God didn’t hold a great harvest crusade in Jezreel; God didn’t build a huge church in Samaria. But surely, God was working hard and powerfully in the lives of real people, helping them experience God’s grace, helping them realize his love for them. God was working hard in a gentle whisper. It was an eye-opening moment for Elijah, having new perspective of God.

 

God is there in a gentle whisper; God works hard in a gentle whisper. Like in the days of Elijah, today sin is so prevailing and people reject God. People love money and pleasures more than Godeven God-believing people, kneel to money and bow to pleasures. It is really a trend in our society. When we see how sinful people try to change society into Sodom and Gomorrah, we feel threatened and we hope that a great work of God may occur and society might change. But God’s way of working is through a gentle whisper. God is in a gentle whisper like finding one student and having one to one Bible study. God's great salvation ministry began with one old man, Abraham. The great work of Exodus began with one man, Moses. Gods great salvation work of the gospel began with one tiny baby in manger 2000 years ago. God's work is a manger ministry. While enemies growl angrily, and while so many people reject God and pursue idols, God works hard in a gentle whisper, working hard in the background, helping people one by one very quietly and personally. So, outwardly, God seems quiet and because of this, enemies are not aware that He is working. Then, at the right time, God rises together with seven thousand young people whom he has prepared, even shocking our enemy. While our enemies, the devil and his followers, work hard to promote sinful environment, persuading people to pursue pleasures and success, we go to our campuses through backdoors, and call out God’s people one by one through one to one Bible studies. We are like Gods specials forces, like the Navy SealsI always thought it would be cool to be a Navy Seal. Now I am one. God is working hard in a gentle whisper, speaking to campus students through our one to one Bible studies personally, converting his people one by one. We can be rest assured that our one to one Bible studies on college campuses is God’s way of working powerfully in this very dark generation. We become his gentle whisper to many dying college students. Our prayer is that we may find all of these seven thousand young people whom God has reserved for his purpose. 

 

 

Second, "Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel" (13-21). Now after showing Elijah that He worked in a gentle whisper, after showing that he had been working hard in a gentle whisper, God spoke to Elijah again, asking the same question, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" This question meant, "What are you doing here, while I am working hard?" Elijah replied, "I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too." His words were exactly the same tooHe sensed God's teaching of a gentle whisper. But instead of accepting God's teaching through the gentle whisper, he wanted to hear from God directly. So, God made his teaching very clear to him. God said to him to go back, and anoint Hazael king over Aram, Jehu king over Israel, and Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed him as prophet. God added, "Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu." God prepared these three people for his purpose. Even though Elijah could not see God's work in Israel, God already had prepared them for himself. That was not all. Look at verse 18. Let’s read this verse together: 

 

18Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel--all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him."

 

Seven thousand—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him! Elijah thought that he was the only one left in Israel. But here! God had preserved seven thousand people whose hearts were fully dedicated to him. In those days, the size of land of the Northern Kingdom Israel was less than one fiftieth of the size of California. Even with seven thousand fully dedicated servants, we can really conquer California completely. Even John Wesley prayed that if God gave him 100 men who loved God only and hated sin, then, he would set the whole world on fire. Think about seven thousand zealous men serving God’s work in that small country. It was indeed amazing. God had done an amazing thing in a gentle whisper. God indeed worked hard in a gentle whisper. Elijah couldn’t say a word. Elijah felt so embarrassed!Now Elijah could catch the meaning of God appearing in agentle whisper instead of the great and powerful wind or earthquake or fire. Also at the same time, the meaning of the question, "What are doing here, Elijah?" became clear. Now he should go back to the mission field and work hard together with God and together with God’s people. Through this, God made Elijah’s mission very clear and restored him to return to the battle field.

 

It seems that people are sinful and they don’t care about God’s command at all. Often we feel that we are the absolute minority. Sometimes, we feel like crying out to God, saying, "Lord, they have rejected your covenant; I am the only one left."But that’s not the case. Surely, there are seven thousand in California—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal or Asherah, to money or to pleasures. It was seven thousand for Israel, a small country, then, for California is 50 times seven thousand, that is 350,000 zealous men and women for the state of California. We need to find them and mobilize them for God’s kingdom work. While we work hard for God's work, God Himself works hard, sometimes, in a strong and powerful wind, sometimes, in a gentle whisper. We need to be Elijahs today, carrying the Lord's standard, challenging the sin of the world. We need to be the members of those seven thousand people for God, with our heart's complete determination not to kneel to money or to pleasures. Let’s find all these zealous and dedicated people to God in God’s way, in a gentle whisper, through our one to one Bible studies, helping them one by one know God’s word and turn to God decisively.

 

 

 

In this very dark generation, God is working hard in a gentle whisper. On our campuses, God is working hard, preparing people to be ready to accept God’s calling. Let’s learn God’s way of doing his work and be his whispering voice to many college students through teaching them the Bible one on one. Let’s pay attention to what God is doing and what God is saying very carefully so that we can hear his gentle whisper. Let’s pray that we may find all whom God has prepared on our campuses who will decisively accept God’s calling.

 

Hello, my name is Ty Rothrock. I was born in Southern California. I grew up in a Bible believing environment. I went to a private Christian school. But as I got older, I drifted farther and farther away. I started to dye my hair in 7th grade and became a punk rocker. At one time I even had a Mohawk. I got a guitar and played in punk bands with a big circle of friends. All I did was go to parties and drink and do drugs. To me doing what I wanted to do and getting the most out of life was using my life in the best way. I wanted a care free life. I subscribed to the YOLO lifestyle. I dropped out of high school when I was 16. I worked but all of my money went to partying and drugs and alcohol. Eventually I began to realize the emptiness inside of me and I focused on that a lot. I wondered why I was so depressed? Why am I so empty? The God shaped hole in my heart became so prevalent that all I could think about was how empty my life was. This led me to have a real deep depression. But then the chance to move away from Orange County came and I moved to the South Bay with my Mom and Step Dad. I decided to go to El Calmino College to find out about life. So I took Philosophy as my first class. There I studied the proof of the soul and this intrigued me a lot. That led me to think about my spirituality. I met a friend at my work who invited me to church and thought I would check it out. I started to study the Bible a lot and read a lot of Christian books. Then one day while walking back to my car from class, I was asked by a Bible teacher to study the Bible. We studied John’s gospel. I was amazed at Gods words in the first 5 verses. I was comforted when Jesus said in Him was life. That was what I really wanted – meaningful and beautiful life. Then I studied Genesis with Msn John. There I met God very personally. I knew I had to make disciples and all of that, but when I studied Genesis 17:5 – for I have made you a father o f many nations, when God was talking with Abraham, there I saw Gods vision for my life. God wanted me to be a father of many nations. Through me, God saw nations of people coming to know Him and have life with Him. Gods voice spoke to me very personally – I remember telling God, that is you who said that! From then on this has been my life key verse for my Christian life. So I started my mission life really by being a shepherd on CSUDH. Mission life was really exciting. I was still in school, and so every day I would fish for students and ask them for Bible study. I had many Bible studies with many different students. I was zealous for God and so would fish for hours and hours. Bible studies with students were really active and alive. I could see how God helped me in each Bible study and was with me, and because of that as I spoke - divine things would come out of me that later I would go woah, that was you that was speaking because I would not have thought about that. God would teach me as I taught the Bible. Then God blessed me to marry by faith. The idea of marriage was so big in my heart, that one night I really prayed to God and said if you want me to marry I will marry and if not I will not. I decided to give this matter to Jesus because my decision was that I would serve Him all the days of my life. And at my surprise God heard me and knew who He wanted me to marry, and revealed my wife Jessica to me. I could see that God had already been working on this in the background. Through marriage God has been helping me to grow as a mature man of God and learn to co-work together with my wife. God blessed us greatly with a son and now a daughter. Being a father is a lot of work, on top of being a Bible teacherand husband, but it is all rolled in to one. Together they help me grow and mature as a servant of God. The life of being Gods servant is definitely challenging. Taking care of my house church, taking care of studetns and taking care of my job is a lot of things to take care of, but because of this God has been molding my inner character and strengthening my spirit. God has helped me to be dedicated to Him all the more in this way. With so much less time to do God work on my campus due to my many responsibilities God is helping me to be more determined and more dedicated to save souls. This helps me to fish even more earnestly and teach the Bible with more sincerity and determination. Most importantly I must rely on God even more. I have been praying more and more for my students and my campus. My weakness has always been fear. As I grew up I had so much instability in my life. I moved around with my Mom a lot and I developed a sense of insecurity. Because of this I always doubted myself, and let fear come in. Because of fear and anxiety I always held myself back. I became like the paralyzed man in the gospel of John and my spirit shriveled.Because of this I never moved forward in life because I was scared that I would do something wrong or fail. So I reverted to fear and anxiety as a coping mechanism and shrank awayBecause of this I changed my major constantly, because I did not want to graduate and go into the real world with a real job. I wanted to stay on my mat so to speak. So I really prayed to God for His healing in this matter. After many years of struggle in this matter God has helped me to understand something. When I love Him with all of my heart, then that means I am to leave everything else under His control, including my job situation and future. That is His responsibility, my responsibility is to love Him and serve Him with all of my heat, soul mind and strength. This released a great burden off of me because I relied on myself for everything. God showed me just as Adam was to serve and love God alone, Gods responsibility was provide everything. So now I could move forward and not be afraid. I could rise and live as Gods servant doing what I should do. I don't have to worry about anything, only to serve God alone and let Him handle everything else. I can serve God freely without any burdens. I can handle the stresses of being a father and husband and shepherd and my job. I graduated CSUDH in 2013. I wasn't sure exactly what job to get since I went to DH for Healthcare Management and was unsure what jobs were available. The one thing I knew was that I must serve God on my campus. Then as I got a job, every one or two years or so God gave me a job paying more and more each time, until now I have a legit career job in the wonderful world of workers compI am a claims examiner for workers compensation for Kaiser Permanente. I have a lot of responsibility and they pay a lot, but it is molding my character. Since then I have served my campus faithfully and with determination. But as I have been serving Gods mission on CSUDH for ten years, I have not had much fruit. And now with less time to do Gods work it seems harder. I do not have any disciples growing up under my care, as Jesus desires for me to have. I have always been so discouraged about this. I think that is my fault, or it is because I am not a good disciple maker. I am passionate for Gods work but nothing to show for it. On campus I teach Johns gospel a lot; and it has been through Johns gospel that Jesus has helped me so much through not having much fruit. Even though I do not have much fruit now, the fact that I live for Jesus is my true joy. Jesus encourages me that my mission life for the gospel is a sanctified and holy life and in Gods eyes it is so precious to Him. My mission life is living by faith in Jesus and faith in Jesus brings me salvation, satisfaction and eternal life. Through Johns Gospel Jesus shows me that He is happy with me and is working in me more and more as I follow Him. Even though I do not see fruit right now, the life I live for Jesus itself brings glory to my Lord Jesus. So I don't need to worry about anything but continue to serve Jesus on my campus with all of my heart. Then in studying this passage, I see that God is with me. God is with me when I go to campus and ask students for Bible study. God is with me as I go to campus after work and fish. Because in this way God is building up my inner person and character. He is molding me and shaping into His image and likeness. He is changing me into a child of God. God is working in me as a gentle whisper. Outwardly not so much evidence, but inwardly God is moving mountains and flaming the fires. God is healing me and restoring my spirit. God is shaping me to be a well refined servant for Jesus Christ. Like the 7,000 I have not bowed to the idols of this world but have worshipped the Lord my God and served Him only. I have been dedicated to Him alone. This is because God continues to work in me like a gentle whisper. This is Gods work in my life. I see that God is preparing me for this mission to find those on my campus who have not completely bowed down to the idols of this world but who are looking for true meaning and purpose through Jesus Christ. In this way through a gentle whisper, God can use me to raise up even 7,000 disciples in Ca. I want to seek God alone and serve God alone with all of my heart. I pray that God may use this gentle whisper as a real spiritual wind on my campus and that through real dedication to Gods mission I may raise up 7 disciples in the next year.

 

One Word: God works through a gentle whisper

Sunday, August 11, 2019

posted Aug 11, 2019, 8:44 PM by Site Administrator

BUT THE PEOPLE WHO KNOW THEIR GOD WILL FIRMLY RESIST

 

Daniel 11:1-45

Key Verses 11:32,33

 

With flattery he will corrupt those who have violated the covenant, but the people who know their God will firmly resist him. "Those who are wise will instruct many, though for a time they will fall by the sword or be burned or captured or plundered.

 

First, “Wars between the king of the South and the king of the North” (2-21). Look at verse 2. “Now then, I tell you the truth: Three more kings will appear in Persia, and then a fourth, who will be far richer than all the others. When he has gained power by his wealth, he will stir up everyone against the kingdom of Greece.” In 10:21, at the end of chapter 10, the holy one said to Daniel, “But first l will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth.” Chapter 11 is some of the contents of the Book of Truth, showing that what the book of Truth is about – in this book, things that should happen according to God’s plan are written. Now Daniel was in the third year of Cyrus, 536 B.C., and the holy one told him that three more kings would appear in Persia and then, the fourth one would be powerful and invade Greece. After Cyrus, his eldest son, Cambyses II (530-522 B.C) became king, but died 7 years later; then, Bardiya became king in 522 B.C, but was assassinated by Darius who succeeded him as king (522-486 B.C). After these three kings, Xerxes I became king and invaded Greece, as we see in the movie “300.” Then, “a mighty king,” Alexadner the Great appeared and conquered the Persian Empire. But when he died (323 B.C), his kingdom was divided into four kingdoms by his generals. Among them, the Bible focuses on two kingdoms – the Egyptian Kingdom, called “the king of the South, and the Syrian kingdom, called, “the king of the North” in the passage, because these two kingdoms would be involved in the history of Israel closely. 

 

Look at verses 5 and 6. “The king of the South will become strong, but one of his commanders will become even stronger than he and will rule his own kingdom with great power. 6After some years, they will become allies. The daughter of the king of the South will go to the king of the North to make an alliance, but she will not retain her power, and he and his power will not last. In those days she will be handed over, together with her royal escort and her father and the one who supported her.” Here, the king of the South refers to Ptolemy I Soter (323-283 B.C), who occupied Egypt after the death of Alexander the Great; that was the beginning of the Egyptian kingdom. One of his commanders was Seleucus I Nicator (305-281 B.C); he went out and occupied Syria, Persia and Babylon, thus, starting the Syrian kingdom. Ptolemy, even though he was angry at Seleucus, chose to be in peace with him and they became allies. Soon, both of them, Ptolemy I and Seleucus I passed away, and Ptolemy II Philadelphus (283-246 B.C) and Antiochus II Theos (261-246 B.C) succeeded them. The king of the South, Ptolemy II sent his daughter Berenice to Antiochus II the king of the North in order to strengthen their alliances. But Antiochus II already had his wife, Laodice whom he loved so much. Ptolemy demanded him to divorce her and dethrone her and make his daughter Berenice legal queen. Suppressing his romantic feelings toward his wife, he sent her away, and made Berenice legal queen. But when Ptolemy II, Berenice’ father, died,Anticohus II quickly brought his ex-wife, Laodice back to the palace – unlike other kings, he was really romantic. But he didn’t know what kind of woman he loved. Laodice was not so romantic as he was. One night, she killed her husband with poison to have power. Berenice fled, but was captured and killed together with her son in Antioch. This was the beginning of bloodshed between the king of the South and the king of the North. 

 

Ptolemy III Euergetes (246-222 B.C), the brother of Berenice, attacked the Syrian kingdom in retaliation for his sister’s murder. He won the war, took their idols and valuable articles of silver and gold and carried them off to Egypt. That was the first round of the war between the two kingdoms. Then several years later, the king of the North, Seleucus II Callinicus(246-225 B.C), attempted to attack Egypt, but failed. Then, Seleucus III Ceraunus (225-223 B.C.) tried to attack Egypt, but he was assassinated by members of his army in Asia Minor. Then his brother Antiochus III the Great attacked the South, but failed (10), because the king of the South, Ptolemy IV Philopater(221-205 B.C), defeated 70,000 Syrian soldiers in the battle of Raphia near Egypt in 217 B.C. Yet he did not remain triumphant (11-12). In 200, Antiochus III mustered another army, larger than the first and attacked the South (13). At that time, Israel was under the Egyptian kingdom. The violent people among the Jews joined in Antiochus III and supported him, hoping that Antiochus would liberate them, but without success. Even though Antiochus won the war, he didn’t liberate the Jews, but put them under his control (14-16). Antiochus even captured Ptolemy V Ephiphanes (204-181 B.C). But, he was afraid to alarm Rome; so, instead of killing him, he gave him his daughter, Cleopatra in marriage, hoping to control the Egyptian Kingdom through her. But once married, she stood on her husband’s side (17). 

 

When Antichus III saw his plan not working, he turned his attention to the coastlands – Greek city states and Asia Minor; he took many of them successfully, but Rome intervened; in 190, the Roman general Scipio Asiaticus won the decisive victory at Magnesia and put an end to Antiochus’ insolence (18). Antiochus had to accept the Treaty of Apamea in 188, and give up all the countries he had conquered in Europe, had to pay a heavy tribute to Rome, and had his son, Antiochus IV Epiphanes taken to Rome as a political hostage. After this, without knowing how to make money for the tribute to Rome, he robbed the temple of Jupitar in his own country; at this, people were angry and killed him (19). His son, Seleucus IV Philopater (187-175 B.C), succeeded him as king. Verse 20 reads: “His successor will send out a tax collector to maintain the royal splendor. In a few years, however, he will be destroyed, yet not in anger or in battle.” During his whole reign, he did one thing, and one thing only – send tax collectors to extract money from his own people to maintain the royal splendor. He was a great oppressor of his own subjects, and exacted abundance of money from them. Then, one day, one of his own servants, Heliodorus killed him with poison. He was a miserable person. 

 

Often, in our eyes, king’s life looks so glamorous – such power, authority, luxury and freedom to do whatever they want. But when we study this passage, we can see that their life was not so glamorous as it looked. Indeed, it was miserable, painful and scary; they were in constant threat of assassination that they could not eat even lunch freely for the fear of poisoning. They had really a lot of terrible headache, struggling to figure out how to survive in the ever-changing politics. We remember the Psalmist’s prayer: “Two things I ask of you, O Lord; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.” (Pro 30:7-9) It is really good that, instead of trying to be very successful or even trying to be kings or queens, we live as children of God being content with whatever God gives us.

 

Second, “So that they may be refined, purified and made spotless” (22-45). The next king of the North was Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175-164 B.C). In the passage, the Bible uses a lot of space to talk about Antiochus IV, because he was a foreshadow of the Antichrist. The Bible uses a very despising description for him, saying, “a contemptible person who has not been given the honor of royalty.” Verses 21 through 24 describes what kind of person he was and how he rose to power. He was not supposed to be king. He lived in Rome for 12 years as a political hostage according to the Treaty of Apamea in 188 B.C. When his father Antiochus III died and his brother Seleucus IV became king, he was exchanged for his nephew, the son of his brother the king. Then, when his brother was killed by Heliodorus, he opposed Heliodorus, and at that time, no one knew his true intension. Some nobles of Syria supported him and also the king of Pergamum. With this small number of people, he rose to power – he first proclaimed himself as a co-regent for his infant nephew, another son of the king, but few years later, he killed him. He was like a con artist; he pretended to be innocent when he had a covenant with anyone, then, he acted deceitfully, and when they felt secure and safe, he would suddenly stab them in the back, and conquer them. In this way, he achieved a lot; then, he distributed his wealth and power to those who had supported him; as a result, they became loyal to him. Maybe, in the world, he was an excellent politician, but in God’s eyes, he was a master of intrigue, contemptible, not noble, not worthy of the throne at all. 

 

Look at verses 25 and 26. In 170 B.C., Antiochus attacked the South, the Egyptian Empire. The king of the South, Ptolemy VI Philometer, fought back with a large and very powerful army, but was defeated, because of the plots devised against him – his own officials tried to kill him. Antiochus even captured Ptolemy VI, but, due to his fear of alarming Rome, he let Ptolemy rule Egypt continually as his puppet king. These two kings, with their hearts bent on evil, sat at the same table and lied to each other; here, “with their hearts bent on evil,” shows their heart’s true desire to destroy each other. But verse 27 says, “but to no avail, because an end will still come at the appointed time.” This expression means that the end of one kingdom does not come as the result of the other kingdom’s power or excellent politics, but it comes only at an appointed time, set by God. God was using those who kingdoms to prepare environment for and train Israel for God’s purpose; even though they hated each other so much and wanted to destroy each other so badly, the end of any kingdom would not come until God’s purpose was completed. God was in control. Many things are going on in the world; the history is fluctuating. But everything is going on according to God’s plan so that his redemption work may be completed.

 

Antiochus, after this great victory in Egypt, was going back to his own country, Syria. But on the way home, he dropped by Jerusalem and attacked her, plundering many gold and silver articles of the temple and killing many of the Jews who opposed him as recorded in 1 Maccabees 1. It was 169 B.C. And then he returned to his own country (28).

 

Two years later, in 168 B.C., Antiochus invaded Egypt again, but this time, he was not so successful. Ships from the western coastlands, referring to the Roman navy, opposed him. About 4 miles before he reached Alexanderia, an old Roman Ambassador, named Gaius Popilius Laenas, stopped the entire army, and demanded him to withdraw from Egypt immediately. Antiochus said that he would discuss it with his council members. Then, Gaius drew a line around him in the sand and told him, "Before you cross this circle, I want you to give me a reply for the Roman Senate." In front of his entire army, Antiochus was humiliated beyond the measure, but he could not help. He consented to withdraw from Egypt, then, the old ambassador shook hands with him. 

 

While Antiochus was busy in Egypt, a false rumor spread that he had been killed. The deposed High Priest Jason gathered a force of 1,000 soldiers and made a surprise attack on the city of Jerusalem. An official Antiochus had appointed as the High Priest, Menelaus, was forced to flee Jerusalem during a riot. When these things were reported to the king, he thought that Judea was in revolt. Raging like a wild animal, he set out from Egypt and took Jerusalem by storm. He ordered his soldiers to cut down without mercy those whom they met on the streets and to slay those who took refuge in their houses. There was a massacre of young and old, a killing of women and children, a slaughter of virgins and infants. In three days, forty thousand were killed, and forty thousand were sold into slavery. Not long after this, the king sent his senator to force the Jews to abandon the customs of their ancestors and live no longer by the laws of God; also to profane the temple in Jerusalem and dedicate it to Olympian Zeus. They set up the statue of Zeus in the temple – it was an abomination standing in the place where it did not belong. They also brought into the temple things that were forbidden such as pigs, so that the altar was covered with abominable offerings prohibited by the laws. 2 Maccabees 5 talks about this. Those who tried to keep the Sabbath were burned to death; women who circumcised their children were killed together with their children. Simply, Antiochus attempted to Hellenize the Jews and remove the memory of God from the surface of the earth. This fierce persecution lasted for about three and a half years until the temple was consecrated and rededicated to God in 164 B.C., through the resistance movement led by the Maccabees. 

 

Now, when the Jews were going through such a horrible persecution, people’s true identity was exposed. Look at verse 30b. “He will return and show favor to those who forsake the holy covenant.” There were some Jews who had deserted their faith in God; Antiochus supported these apostate Jews; before, they felt convicted and condemned, because they knew that they had abandoned God; they were hiding in the shadow for the fear of being exposed as wicked people. But now, supported by king, they became bold; they now, instead of hiding or running away, pursued other devout Jews and killed them; they became mean persecutors. But there were some others who kept their faith despite such a persecution. Verse 32 reads: “With flattery he will corrupt those who have violated the covenant, but the people who know their God will firmly resist him.” Despite such danger and threat, those who knew their God personally stood firm and kept their faith in God. What kind of people were they? Look at verse 33. Let’s read this verse together:

 

33“Those who are wise will instruct many, though for a time they will fall by the sword or be burned or captured or plundered. 

 

While so many others were just struggling to survive under such a persecution, while policemen were looking for them, these people would not just hide behind locked doors. Instead, they, even under such a persecution, struggled to instruct people the way of the Lord; they were the ones who knew what people truly needed – the word of God; they were the ones who knew that all men are like grass and their glory like flowers in the field; grass withers, flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever; they were the ones who taught the word of God even at the risk of their own life, as the matter of life and death. They were dedicated Bible teachers, shepherds and shepherdesses. When we think about how wholeheartedly they struggled to teach the word of God even under such a terrible persecution, we can understand how absolutely they held onto the value and importance of the word of God. And the holy one in Daniel’s vision here, says that they were “wise people.” This shows us what those who are wise do: They instruct many the way of God. Not that they just try to do it once in a while, or whenever the situation allows, but they do it even though the risk is so high, even the risk of losing their life. That much, they are committed to the task of teaching the word of God to people. Such people who are dedicated to teaching the word of God to others are wise in God’s eyes. They are wise because they know what is really important and what is not; they are wise because they love God and do what God wants them to do absolutely. They are wise because they use their time, energy, and talent in most meaningful and effective way. 

 

Here, the expression, “though for a time they will fall by the sword or be burned or captured or plundered,” shows how absolute and wholehearted those wise people were. Even though they were killed by the sword, even though they were burned to death, even though they were captured and plundered, - with that kind of absoluteness, they struggled to teach the word of God. Have you lost a lot because of your dedication to God’s work? Have you suffered a lot because of God’s work? Yet, you are blessed people. You have used your life very effectively. The time of persecution is the time when those who know their God personally, those who love God wholeheartedly rise as powerful heroes and heroins of faith. It is the time when God reveals his glory powerfully through these mighty warriors of faith – while policemen are after them, they go out and instruct people the way of the Lord.

 

Look at verse 34. Let’s read this verse together:

 

"When they fall, they will receive a little help, and many who are not sincere will join them.” 

 

God’s eyes were on these wise, loyal and faithful people. So, when they fell, when they were caught, or when they were going to be killed, often, they experienced some help. When God’s people are going through a really serious persecution, strangely, there are always some help for them like Oskar Schindler or Cori Ten Boom who hid the Jews from the Nazi during the Holocaust. But at the same time, it was the time when those who did not know God exposed their true identity too. Verse 34b reads: “and many who are not sincere will join them.” These people attended worship service; they said that they loved God, but they were not really sincere or serious about their faith in God; they just went through the motion of worship and casually said that they believed in God. Compared to those who were wise, they didn’t know their God personally. Then, when such a persecution came, when they were challenged to choose either to keep their faith in God and die, or to prolong their life in the world a little longer by denying God, they denied God. Since, in the true sense, they didn’t know God personally, they had no reason to sacrifice or risk their life for God at all; so, many of them abandoned their faith in God and joined in those apostate Jews who violated God’s covenant. As a high school kid once said, believing in God is “an all or nothing deal,” and the core of our Christian life is our personal knowing of God; those who know God become absolute toward God, and they are happy and willing to lay down their life for God – to them, God is everything; to them, God is the Alpha and the Omega of their life. But those who are not sincere are not wholehearted toward God, and thereby, they are not dedicated to God. Then, when challenges come, or when temptation comes, they quickly compromise and go away, to be seen no more among the assembly of the righteous. Today, we must check out whether we are really dedicated to God or not, whether we are reallysincere to God or notEven though we do many Christian things, it must not be doing church things. Instead, it must be the expression of our personal dedication to God. Know your God and love Him. This is the real thing of our Christian life. 

 

Look at verse 35. Let’s read this verse together:

 

35Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time.

 

This shows us the purpose of God in allowing such challenges and persecution to his people. The wise were dedicated to God; they were zealous for God, serving his purpose as a matter of life and death; they were God’s instrument in this world. But it did not mean that they were perfect; instead, they still had some impurity, some worldly hopes and desires, sin problems and character-flaws. They were very precious in God’s eyes. It was never God’s intention that these precious people still live with sins, weaknesses or character-flaws. Instead, his desire was to purify them, make them spotless and refined so that they would be really pure in all things, completely sanctified, and thereby, powerful for God. So, he put them in the furnace; he refined them with the fire of a fierce persecution. For their sake, God was willing to let his own temple desecrated and trampled down by wicked people; for their sake, he was willing to see evil people triumphant. As they were dedicated to Him wholeheartedly, God also was dedicated to them wholeheartedly; as they were zealous for God, God was zealous for them also. In John 15, Jesus describes himself as the vine, his disciples branches of the vine, and God the Father the gardener. The gardener’s job is to prune, cutting off small branches so that those fruit-bearing branches can bear the best quality fruit. God is indeed in the business of looking for his people and refining them and establishing them powerfully. Purifying his people, making them spotless, and refining them – this is what God is doing for us today – this is the will of God for you and for me. 

 

We are dedicated to God; we love God; but still, there are sins that bother us continually; still, there are terrible character-flaws that give hard time to those who are around us; still, from time to time, worldly desires for success or marriage dream tries to take a root in our hearts. Because of these things, often, our minds are cloudy and we are not as powerful or as wholehearted as we are supposed to be. Now God’s desire is to make us perfect, spotless, pure and refined. So suddenly, God removes all the things we have held tightly so far; suddenly, we fail miserably in our school work; suddenly we are laid off; suddenly, we come to have a terrible conflict with our boss or managers or other employees; suddenly, without any reason, our professors hate us. Sometimes, terrible diseases attack us.Sometimes, we feel like we are in the washing machine or dryers, spinning continually, so confusing and terrifying. And through all these trials, challenges and persecutions, we come to understand that there is nothing in the world we can desire; we come to understand that there is no one who is good or desirable in the world, but God alone. Finally, we come to confess, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire except you.” (Ps 73:25) When we think about this purpose of God in allowing such a fierce persecution against the Jews, we really see God’s burning desire for his holy children to be pure and innocent, completely sanctified and refined for Him alone – when they come out victoriously, completely purified and sanctified, God is overjoyed and satisfied. God commands us, “Be holy as I am holy.” Jesus commands us, “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Jesus prays for us, saying, “Sanctify them by your words.” 

 

Antiochus IV Epiphanes was the foreshadow of the Antichrist. In verses 36 through 39, God shows us what kind of person he will be, in view of what Antiochus did. The Antichrist’ main character is to exalt and magnify himself above all other gods; he does not give too much credit to any religion or their gods; instead, he demands all peoples on earth to worship him (36a). Another characteristic of the Antichrist is that he will show no regard to the known religions in the world; instead, he will suggest a religion, which has not been heard of – most likely, the religion of the dragon. He will be very successful and powerful, not by himself, but by the help of Satan. Then, once he is successful, he will greatly honor those who acknowledge him; he will make them rich with a lot of money and distribute his power, making them rulers over many people, exactly as Antiochus did. He will be an excellent politician for his followers, so many will be loyal to him. Verses 40 through 45 show that Antiochus was successful and winning in many countries; in the same way, during the end time, the Antichrist will be very successful, winning the wars in many countries. But verse 36 reads: He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed, for what has been determined must take place – even his success is just going on according to God’s plan and purpose. Yet, he will come to his end, and no one will help him.

 

One Word: So That They May Be Refined, Purified AndMade Spotless

 

 

Sunday, August 4, 2019

posted Aug 4, 2019, 8:45 PM by Site Administrator

2

 

DANIEL’S VISION OF A MAN

 

Daniel 10:1-11:1

Key Verses 10:5,6

5I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of the finest gold around his waist. 6His body was like chrysolite, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude. 

First, “A man dressed in linen with a belt of the finest gold around his waist” (1-11). Look at verse 1 through 3. In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia, that was 536 B.C., a revelation was given to Daniel. Its message was true and it concerned a great war. The understanding of the message came to him in a vision. At that time, Daniel mourned for three weeks. He ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched his lips; and he used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over. What kind of vision was it that Daniel had to mourn for three weeks? In 538 B.C, two years before this vision, Cyrus issued a decree for the Jews to return and rebuild the temple. He even gave them the sacred articles, which Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the Jerusalem temple. At this, the Jews under the leadership of Jerubbabel and Jeshua, total 42,360, besides 7,337 menservants and maidservants, returned to Jerusalem (Ezra 2:64,65). When the Lord returned them to Jerusalem, they felt like dreaming; songs of praise and thanks were in their lips. In the seventh month, they built the altar for the burnt offering, and in the second month of the second year, they laid the foundation for the temple (Ezra 3). Then, an opposition rose from the Gentiles; they hired lawyers to report to the government badly about the Jews; thus, the work of the house of God in Jerusalem came to a standstill until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia in 521 B.C (Ezra 4:24). The temple would be completed in 516 B.C. As Cyrus issued a decree in 538 B.C., Daniel hoped that his people would now live in peace and blessing in Jerusalem. But instead, he heard about how his own people in Jerusalem were oppressed by the Gentiles there, how they were so insecure, and how the temple project was halted. Moreover, now God gave him a vision that concerned a great war that would occur around his own nation Israel. He was so troubled, and for his own people in Jerusalem, for the temple of God, Daniel mourned for three weeks. Then, God’s answer came.

Look at verse 5. “On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as Daniel was standing on the bank of the great river, the Tigris, he looked up and there before him was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of the finest gold around his waist.” Linen was used for undergarment for priests, representing the priest’s purity. Gold refers to kingship; the belt represents title, or authority or position. A belt of the finest gold around his waist shows that he is king of great authority and power. When Daniel was so concerned about the Israel people, God showed him that they were not alone, but a priest was praying for them; God was caring for them. Also, through this man in the vision, God showed Daniel that He was king and was in control; even though things were challenging to the Israel people, certainly things were not going out of control, but only according to God’s will and purpose.  

Verse 6 reads: His body was like chrysolite, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude.” His body was like chrysolite. Chrysolite is a gemstone with transparent sparkling green. In Exodus 28, we see God commanding Moses to make a priestly garment, and one of its pieces is a breast plate. On the breast plate were to be 12 gem stones in four rows, each row having three gem stones. And one of the three gemstones in the fourth row was a chrysolite. In Ezekiel 1:16, we see the wheel of God’s thronesparkling like chrysolite. Then, in Revelation 21, we see new Jerusalem, coming down from heaven. It has a great high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. The wall of the city has twelve foundation, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. And each foundation is decorated with precious gemstone; the seventh foundation is decorated with chrysolite. The gemstone chrysolite or its color represents one of the twelve tribes of Israel and one of the twelve apostles and one of God’s characters. One of the disciples suggests that it represents God as a source of life; another disciple suggests the healing of God, and still another the power of God as green grass springs up in the spring. Anyway, this person with sparkling transparent green shinning throughout his body represents one of God’s nature – he was a representative of God. 

His face was like lightning – so bright and powerfully radiant that no one could look at him directly. Here, lightning represents his power. His eyes were like flaming torches. When people are really angry, we see that their eyes are glowing with fire, but their anger does not mean anything – they are just hot-tempered sinful, and short lived humans. But this person’s eyes were like flaming torches that when he looks at you, you can sense that he sees everything hidden and secret; before his eyes that are like flaming torches, we are all exposed naked and no one can hide anything from him. His arms and legs were like the gleam of burnished bronze – shining, well polished; bronze is heavy and thereby, represents God’s judgment. In the Old Testament, God showed a prophet a bronze mountain and told him his judgment. Here, his arms and legs were well polished shows the imminent judgment of God. And his voice was like the sound of a multitude, representing his authorityWho was this person? Some say that he was a high ranking angel, and others say that he was Jesus in his glory as described in Revelation 1When God saw that his friend Daniel was mourning for sorrows, He quickly sent this glorious being to comfort and strengthen him. Indeed, Daniel was highly esteemed.  

Look at verse 7. Daniel was the only one who saw this vision. The men who were with Daniel did not see it, but they sensed something really big present there and they were terrified. Such terror overwhelmed them that they fled and hid themselves. Daniel gazed at this great vision, trying to see it more clearly, but, unlike his mind and desire, his body did not work as he wanted; as he gazed at this vision, suddenly, all his strength left him, his face turned deathly pale and he was helpless. Simply, despite his desire to gaze at this great vision, his human body could not bear such glory. There, in front of the holy one who was shining in green glory, Daniel was about to faint, barely standing. Then the holy one spoke to him, and at this, Daniel’s body reached the limit, and his computer shut down and he fell into a deep sleep, his face to the ground. Ahand touched him; this touch gave him some strength. So, Daniel came back to his senses but he was then on his hands and knees, trembling. The man gave him more strength, saying, "Daniel, you who are highly esteemed, consider carefully the words I am about to speak to you, and stand up, for I have now been sent to you." At this, Daniel could stand, yet still trembling. Daniel was a righteous man, having a certain glory; he was esteemed highly by God. But the glory the man in his vision had was totally different; Daniel’s human body could not bear such glory that it just shut down, and it was trembling continually. 

In verses 14 and 15, the man in the vision spoke to Daniel, "Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come.” While he was speaking, Daniel bowed with his face to the ground and was speechless. His mind became blank, and he was frozen with that posture, for simply, his body could not bear the glory of the holy one in front of him that his system shut down. Then, the holy one touched his lips; new power came to Daniel that he came back to his senses and he said to him, “I am overcome with anguish because of the vision, my lord, and I am helpless. How can I, your servant, talk with you, my lord? My strength is gone and I can hardly breathe.” Even though he was strengthened and thereby could speak, his words were not about a meaningful conversation, but he was just expressing his difficulty. At this, again the one who looked like a man touched him and gave him strength, saying, “Do not be afraid, O man highly esteemed. Peace! Be strong now; be strong.” At this, more strength came to Daniel and Daniel could start a meaningful conversation with him, saying, “Speak, my lord, since you have given me strength.” In the previous passage, we saw how his encounter with Gabriel went – it was amazing and mysterious. But his encounter with the man in today’s passage is more intense. Indeed, in the spiritual world, in the heavenly realm, there are so many things we don’t know; even if we have lived as God’s servants, what we know is really limited. So, let’s not think of ourselves too highly – indeed, we don’t know that much of the spiritual world. Instead, let’s dedicate ourselves to God all the more, then, God will guide us and show us amazing things.

Second, “I will fight against the prince of Persia, and when I go, the prince of Greece will come” (12-11:1). Look at verses 12 and 13. Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia.” Daniel had prayed for 21 days, but no answer came to him; maybe, he thought that this time, God did not hear his prayer. But that’s not the case. Since the first day when he set his mind and started his prayer, God already heard his prayer and sent his answer by sending this amazingly holy one to him personally. God could have answered his prayer by giving in him such an impression, saying, “I have heard your prayer; don’t worry.” But God didn’t think it proper for Daniel, because He esteemed him so highly. God sent his holy one to Daniel to give him His response personally; God sent such a glorious one to give his answer to Daniel; it was such a royal treatment; God esteemed Daniel so highly. The Bible shows that God honors those who honor him. 

Look at verse 13. Let’s read this verse together: 

“But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia.” 

Here, “the prince of the Persian kingdom,” or “the king of Persia” refers to the ruler of evil spirits, in charge of the territory of the Persian Empire. This sounds very mysterious. But this is true. The Apostle Paul shows that Satan’s kingdom is well organized. Ephesians 6 says, “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in heavenly realms.” Here, “rulers” are like kings or presidents, and authorities are like senators or commissioners, and powers are like judges, and evil spirits are like FBI agents, sheriffs, or police or soldiers. In this way, under Satan, all the evil spiritual world is well organized. If there was the ruler of evil spirit in charge of the Persian Kingdom, we can understand that there was the ruler of evil spirits in charge of the Babylonia Empire, or the ruler of eachcountry or nation, and under them, there are governors, city mayors, and sheriffs. There is an evil spirit in charge of South Bay area; there is an evil spirit in charge of El Camino College.Instead of fighting with humans, we must fight against these rulers, authorities, powers of this dark world, and the spiritual forces of evil in the spiritual realms and defeat them. 

Once we defeat them, we see that strangely, God’s kingdom work goes very smoothly in that region – people become responsive to God’s words, salvation work goes powerfully, new disciples rise and new churches are established. Not only the one who defeated those evil spirits, but also all God’s people become successful in advancing God’s kingdom in that region, because, simply, that region is disarmed for God’s people to do God’s work. That’s why often we see that repentance movement rises in one country powerfully – it means that someone defeated the Prince of that country; or sometimes, we see God’s kingdom rises powerfully in a region such as California, or Los Angeles County, or South Bay, or Torrance, or CSULB – it means that someone defeated the head demon in that area. Sometimes, we go and do God’s work in a certain area, and strangely God’s work goes very well even though we are not the ones who fought the enemy and defeated it – it means that someone already defeated the enemy there, and thereby, the whole area is disarmed for Christians to go and reap the harvest. Jesus says, "When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. 22 But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up the spoils.” (Luk 11:21-22) 

God is looking for those warriors of faith to rise, who can wage a war against those rulers, authorities and powers of this world. They are the ones through whom God’s kingdom advances into the enemy’s territory powerfully. Because of them, God has a chance to accelerate the human history, his world redemption plan; because of them, God suddenly ends one empire, and start the next one. Indeed, they are mighty warriors in God’s eyes. Don’t you want to be the ones who defeat the rulers, authorities and powers? Don’t you want to defeat the enemy in your campus so that God’s work can go powerfully there? Then, how can we be such mighty warriors for God’s kingdom work? Pay attention to Daniel’s real dedication to God – how he sought God absolutely as the matter of life and death; he had real zeal and passion for God that he would not slow down or compromise. Also, notice his wholehearted prayer struggle. Such dedication to God, such zeal and passion for God, such wholehearted pursuit of God – these are the secrets that had made Daniel a dangerous weapon for God. When he sought God this way, he was not the dead, but the living, and God became his God; when he sought God that way, he was the one who was serving God in spirit, and thereby, God could work with him freely, revealing his glory to the world, and advancing his kingdom work very powerfully. This is how we can rise as mighty warriors for God too. This is how we can wage a war against the rulers, authorities and powers of this dark world. Actually, Jesus talks about this in the Bible continually. He says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.” That kind of complete dedication to God! Jesus talks about a kernel of wheat that falls to the ground and dies – that kind of complete dedication to God’s work, willing to die for God’s mission. Jesus also says, "Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38 and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” (Mat 10:37-38) Such dedicated people that are not distracted by anyone or anything. When you have such zeal and passion for Jesus, you are the ones who serve God in spirit just in the same way Joshua and Caleb, Daniel and John the Baptist served God. Then, God becomes your God, because God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. Then, God does mighty works of God through you, defeating the rulers, authorities, and powers, and because of you, God’s kingdom advances powerfully into the enemy’s territory, and not only you, but also all God’s people and God’s ministries in your area come to enjoy the benefits of your labor. Today, God wants us to rise as mighty warriors for God, mighty generals who can have duel with those rulers, authorities, and powers. Let’s serve God with such exceptional zeal and passion for God so that God can do mighty works through us.

Look at verses 20 and 21 and 11:1. Let’s read these verses together:

20So he said, “Do you know why I have come to you? Soon I will return to fight against the prince of Persia, and when I go, the prince of Greece will come; 21but first I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth. (No one supports me against them except Michael, your prince. 1And in the first year of Darius the Mede, I took my stand to support and protect him.) 

Soon I will return to fight against the prince of Persia, and when I go, the prince of Greece will come. For what would he fight against the prince of Persia? Of course, to end the time of the Persian Kingdom and so that the next page of the world history according to God’s plan would kick in, that is, the Greek Empire. Because of Daniel’s dedication to God and because of Daniel’s wholehearted prayer, this man came to end the time of one Empire and to start the next one.  This is really amazing. Because of one person’s prayer, faith and dedication to God, God accelerate the world history so that he would complete his redemption plan quickly. Indeed, those who have such dedication to God, those who seek God wholehearted are the real movers of the world history – they are the history makers. 

The holy one said, “But first I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth.” So, he told Daniel chapters 11 and 12. This shows us what kind of book the Book of Truth is. In this book are written what’s going to happen and how the world history should flow. For example, Daniel chapters 11 and 12 arejust parts of the Book of Truth - the Persian Empire, the Greek Empire, the Syrian Empire, the Egyptian Empire, the Roman Empire, the rise of the Antichrist, 3 and a half years’ persecution, the resurrection and eternal judgment and eternal reward. Most likely the revelation given to the apostle John was another part of it, showing the end phase of the world history and how the redemption plan would be completed - the development of missiles and nuclear weapons, the development of computers and internet for fast knowledge and information, how the world history should proceed – all these are already written in the Book of Truth. It does not mean that the human history is programed. Rather, it means that God has a plan for the history to flow in a certain way so that his world redemption plan would be fulfilled. Only according to the progress of the gospel in the world, God proceeds the world history step by step. That’s what the holy one serves, and that’s what Michael serves. And there, those who serve God in spirit, those who serve God wholeheartedly with such exceptional dedication and zeal for God play such important roles; they are heroes and heroines, because through them, God comes to have a chance to accelerate everything. We are serving God’s work. This is how the heavenly realm and this human world are related. We are the agents of the kingdom of God, the hosts of the heavens, here on the earth. 

The holy one says, “(No one supports me against them except Michael, your prince.” He fought to end the time of the Persian kingdom, but the prince of Persia resisted, so that it would enjoy its time a little longer. Then, Michael helped him, thus, the Persian Empire was gone, and the Greek Empire rose. The holy one said that in the first year of Darius the Mede, he helped Michael to end the time of the Babylonian Empire, so that the Persian Empire could start. In this way, Michael and this holy one work closely to fulfill God’s plan on the earth. We all serve this will of God. Let’s pray that we may be the ones who make that major breakthrough on our campuses so that God’s kingdom may advance powerfully there.

One Word:Do Not Be Afraid, O Man Highly Esteemed. Peace! Be Strong Now; Be Strong.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

posted Jul 28, 2019, 6:38 PM by Site Administrator

TO FINISH TRANSGRESSION, TO PUT AN END TO SIN, TO BRING IN EVERLASTING RIGHTEOUSNESS

 

Daniel 9:1-27

Key Verse 9:24

 

Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy. 

 

First, “O Lord, listen! O Lord, forgive!” (1-19). Look at verses 1 and 2. In the first year of Darius son of Xerxes (a Mede by descent), that was 539 B.C., Daniel understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. What great revelation it was! The captivity would last seventy years, and the collapse of the Babylonian Empire was the sign that the seventy years were soon going to be over. Now they would return to their homeland. It was an amazing moment for Daniel. At the same time, it was God’s confirmation that He was not angry with the Israel people forever, even though he punished them for their sins; it was God’s confirmation that God’s plan for them to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation had not changed; instead, he was refining them so that He could work with them for his glorious purpose continually. It was God’s revelation given to Daniel through the Scriptures. Strengthened by this revelation, he turned to God and started his prayer struggle for His love and forgiveness decisively. 

 

Look at verses 3 and 4. Let’s read these verses together: 

 

So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes. 4I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed: “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with all who love him and obey his commands.” 

 

 In his prayer, he calls God, “the great and awesome God.” In what sense did Daniel call God, the great and awesome God? He says, “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with all who love him and obey his commands.” God is the great and awesome God because He keeps his covenant. It is really amazing that even though God is the Almighty and even though he is the Sovereign Lord, meaning that He has perfect freedom to do whatever he wants, he binds and limits Himself to the terms and conditions of the covenant he makes with his people and does everything according to its terms and conditions. Simply, with this covenant, the Almighty Creator God comes to have the code of conduct, limiting his power and freedom completely. For this, our God is the great and awesome God. 

 

It is really amazing that God offers his covenant to us; he is willing to bind himself to the terms and conditions of the covenant and limit His freedom and power. Usually, we humans are very hesitant to accept his covenant, for the fear of losing too much of our own human freedom and human rights. We calculate so much, measuring all the cons and pros; but actually, what can we possibly lose when we jump into a binding contract with God? Surely, nothing, because we are nothing and there is nothing we do well, except sinning; what we have produced in the world are sins, wickedness, destruction, shame and misery. Actually, it is God who should be hesitant to offer his covenant to us, because he will be bound and limited to the terms and conditions of his covenant with us. But He offers us his covenant, willing to restrict and limit His freedom and power as the Almighty God; our God is great and awesome. In our terms, our God is the Bomb; he is cool; it is really cool to have a binding contract with God who is cool.  

 

The other reason why he is the great and awesome God is because he is the God of love. In verse 4, Daniel describes God’s covenant as “the covenant of love.” Many people consider God’s covenant, or simply God’s calling “a restriction of their human freedom.” During the time of Malachi the prophet, Israel people felt exactly that same way, saying, “It is futile to serve God.”(Mal 3:14) They felt really tedious about all the rules and regulations; they felt restricted of their human freedom. They felt confined; it was an insult at God. So, God rebuked them about it, saying, “You have said harsh things against me.” At this, those who feared the Lord, realized what sin they had committed against God; they talked with each other in repentance. Then, Malachi 3:16 reads: “Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name.”  

 

In Daniel’s eyes, God’s covenant was the covenant of love; God’s covenant is an expression of his love for us, and its terms and conditions reflect His love for us very well; the terms and conditions of God’s covenant enable us to express our love for Him. What did God want his covenant people to do by giving them so many laws and regulations, 613 laws? God says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” (Deut 6:5) Actually, the real author of this book was God. So, he was like saying to all his people, “Love me with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” We feel really shy to say to anyone, “Love me,” even between husband and wife, even though that's what exactly we want. But God openly and publicly shouts to all his covenant people to love him. Then, in the New Testament, our God Jesus shouts loud and clear, saying, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” Our God is indeed shockingly romantic and powerfully romantic. 

 

All the terms and conditions of God's covenant, the requirements of God's covenant are there to help us love God with all our heart, soul and strength. Let’s just check out some of them. “Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you.” “Circumcise your human desire.” “Send off Ishmael.” “Sacrifice Isaac as a burnt offering to me.” In the New Testament, God came to the world in a human form, and made his point utmost clear, saying, “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” (Mt 10:37,38) “Go, sell everything you have, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then, come, follow me.” “Whoever wants to come after me must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” All these terms and conditions of God’s covenant show God’s burning passion for us to be in the hot and passionate love relationship with Him. God’s covenant is the covenant of love.  

 

Daniel says that God keeps his covenant of love with all who love him and obey his commands. This expression defines who are God’s covenant people. God’s covenant people are those who love God and thereby keep his commands. Only those who love God obey God’s commands; they are the ones who live according to God’s will and purpose. Loving God by obeying his commands, by living according to His will and purpose is not easy; often, we have to deny our own desires and dreams; often, we have deep sorrows to let go of our dreams or to be misunderstood by our own beloved family whom we love. But we bear all such difficulties and obey God’s commands because we love Him more than all other things. In Daniel’s eyes, such people are God’s covenant people. That was Daniel’s understanding of God’s covenant people in the Old Testament. Then, in the New Testament, Jesus says, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” (Jn 14:15) “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.” (Jn 14:21) He also says, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching... He who does not love me will not obey my teaching.” (Jn 14:23,24) The Old Testament and the New Testament say the same thing. Live as God’s covenant people by loving God and thereby, obeying His commands.  

 

In verses 7 through 14, Daniel talks about God’s characters that were revealed in dealing with the Israel’s people. In verse 7, Daniel says, “Lord, you are righteous. And in verse 14, he says, “The LORD did not hesitate to bring the disaster upon us, for the LORD our God is righteous in everything he does; yet we have not obeyed him.” Daniel’s point was: Our God is righteous, yet, we have not obeyed him, and as a result, God did not hesitate to bring the disaster upon us. We must remember that our God is righteous, and in view of his righteous character, we must do what is right before him. So comes the Christian’s good life. But so many people have ignored this, and did whatever they wanted, and as a result, their lives have been destroyed, and there are pains and sorrows, misery and emptiness, and they cry on people’s shoulders, saying, “I don’t know why my life is so hard like this.” Our God is righteous, so do what is right, and certainly, you will be accepted.

 

In verse 9, Daniel says, “The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving.” Israel was destroyed and so many people were killed, and the survivors were taken to captivity in Babylon, all because of their sins. Yet, in such a terrible judgment, in such a great tragedy and misery, Daniel saw God’s merciful and forgiving character. He found that God had not dealt with them according to their deeds, but according to God’s mercy for them. Our God is merciful and forgiving – this is his character or his nature that naturally, He has a tendency of being merciful and forgiving; that’s why he has not dealt with us according to our sins, but according to his great mercy; that’s why whenever we come to Him in repentance, even at the slightest hint of repentance, God is willing to forgive our sins, forget about our wrongdoings and pours out his love on us. Today, let’s remember that our God is righteous, and thereby, struggle to do what is right. Today, let’s remember that our God is merciful and forgiving, therefore, there is hope for everyone, even the worst sinner in the world. 

 

Verses 17 through 19 are Daniel’s request. Here, he pours out his anguished heart for Jerusalem, the temple and his people Israel. You may have some serious prayer topics. With the same anguished heart for ourselves and for those whom we care, let’s read these verses together: 

 

"Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, O Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary. 18 Give ear, O God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. 19 O Lord, listen! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hear and act! For your sake, O my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name."

 

Second, “To finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness” (20-27). Look at verses 20 through 23. While Daniel was still praying, Gabriel, the man Daniel had seen in the earlier vision, came to him in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice, and said to him, “Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding. As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the message and understand the vision:” It seemed that Daniel had been praying for all day long, in fasting and in sackcloth and ashes. And for the whole day, there was no response yet; it seemed that no answer was coming; but that's not the case; even if no response appeared yet, actually, the answer was given, as soon as he began to pray. Just it took some time for the answer to be delivered to him. Often, we are discouraged because it seems that our prayers are not heard for there is no visible change of the situation; but that's not the case. In most cases, our prayers are answered already, but it takes time until God's answers to our prayers appear to us or delivered to us. It is shipped, but the delivery date is some days later. Jesus says, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mk 11:24)

 

What was God’s answer to Daniel’s prayer? Look at verse 24. Let’s read this verse together:

24“Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy. 

 

Daniel’s prayer topic was for the forgiveness of the sin of his people Israel and that God might restore them quickly. But the answer God brought was far bigger than that; God would not just forgive their sins one more time, but God was planning to finish mankind’s sin problem once for all; God showed him that he was secretly planning to put an end to the human sin problem. Our God is an awesome God who does far more than we imagine or pray for. When God puts an end to sin once for all, then, no more sin problem will bother mankind, and no more wickedness will be found among people, and all people will live in everlasting righteousness – then, there will be no more sacrifice, or no more heart-aching, no more mourning or no more regret; instead, we will live in the bright light of God. This was God’s secret plan of completing his redemption work, and because of Daniel’s earnest prayer, God decided to share this secret plan with him. When Daniel sought God sincerely, and prayed wholeheartedly, God accepted him as his coworker and revealed his plan to him. Indeed, Daniel was esteemed highly. Surely, God honors those who honor him.

 

“Seventy “sevens” were decreed.” Here, “sevens” originally meant “a week,” because one week had seven days, then, when it was extended to a bigger concept, it became “seven years.” It does not mean that seventy “sevens” refer to 490 years, but seventy seven year units. With these seventy units of seven years, God was going to operate the world history and complete his world redemption plan, finishing transgression, putting an end to sin, and bringing in everlasting righteousness. Look at verses 25 and 26. Let’s read these verses together:

 

25“Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. 26After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. 

 

The starting point of this entire seventy “sevens” was the time when a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem was issued. Among 39 books of the Old Testament, the book of Ezra talks about rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem after Cyrus the king of Persia issued a decree in 538 B.C., for the Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. At his decree, 42,360 Jews returned to Jerusalem and rebuilt the temple by 516 B.C. In the year 586 B.C., the temple was destroyed, and it was rebuilt in 516 B.C, thus fulfilling God’s prophecy of 70 years’ Babylonian exile through the prophet Jeremiah. But the starting point of seventy “sevens” was not the decree to rebuild the temple, but Jerusalem, the city of Jerusalem. The book of Nehemiah talks about this. Nehemiah 2:1 specifies the month and the year when the decree was issued, saying, “In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes (464-424 B.C).” The twentieth year of King Artaxerxes was 444 B.C. So, this year was the starting point of seventy “sevens.”

 

God divides seventy “seven year periods” into three parts – seven “sevens” and sixty two “sevens,” and one “sevens.” So, the first segment of time was seven “sevens,” 49 years, starting from the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, 444 B.C., to 395 B.C. This was the time when the returned Jews rebuilt the city of Jerusalem. And with thanks and joy, remembering God’s grace of bringing them back to Jerusalem, they loved God and served Him wholeheartedly. It was a new beginning with a new heart’s dedication to God

 

Then, the second sixty two “sevens” (434 years) began, starting from 395 B.C., and coming to the year 39 A.D. When we use Babylonian Lunar calendar, 360 days as a year, then, it becomes about 32 or 33 A.D. What God showed Daniel in 539 B.C., was that around 30 to 40 A.D, the Christ, the Anointed One would be cut off to fulfill his perfect redemption plan, to finish transgression, and to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, and to bring in everlasting righteousness; it was the climax of God’s redemption history. The passage says that during this period of sixty two “sevens,” Jerusalem would expand with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. This time covers the period between Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament and Matthew’s gospel, the first book of the New Testament. It is called, “the inter-testamental period.” During this long period of time, the Jews were under many Empires - the Persians, Greeks, Syrians, and Romans, and while the world history was fluctuating around Israel, while powerful empires rose and waned, this small country Israel maneuvered – it must have been very difficult time for Israel; indeed, it was times of trouble. During this time, there was no monarchy, no king; instead, the high priest had judicial power, and he was the governor in that area – the position of worldly political power and divine religious power combined. Soon, it was a corrupt position. When Antiochus IV Epiphanes became king of the Seleucid Empire in 175 B.C., Jason, one of the priests, who was pro-Greek, went to him and purchased the position with money, and with a promise to pay him continually. Then, two years later, he sent his officer, Menelaus to Antiochus to pay money; but Menelaus took an opportunity; he outbid Jason, offering more money to Antiochus for the license to be the high priest. Antiochus accepted this offer, proclaiming him as the high priest; by the way, Menelaus was not a descendant of Aaron, but a Benjamite. In this way, priesthood was corrupt, and these worldly minded priests occupied all high and important positions in Israel; they were rich; and these priests became the Sadducees, denying all spiritual things such the kingdom of heaven, angels, resurrection and eternal life. When the mainstream temple worship was so corrupt like this, some people pursued a devout life by themselves; among them were the Pharisees who struggled to live a righteous life by keeping the laws absolutely; there were also some people who left the mundane world and lived in the caves around the Dead Sea; there, they dedicated themselves to copying the Bible, reading spiritual books such as Apocrypha, praying and fasting – they were the Essenes. Also, when Antiochus IV Epiphanes desecrated the temple and stopped the temple worship service,  the priestly family of Mattathias started the resistance movement in Israel – they were called “Maccabbes,” which means, “hammer” the nick name given to Mattathias’ son, Judah – Judah Maccabee, and eventually, they overthrew the Syrian rule, and rededicated the temple to God; thus, the Jewish Feast of Dedication, Hanukah began, and also, the Hasmonean Dynasty in Israel (140-37 B.C.) They were of the Levites, not of David. Then, after the Hasmonean Dynasty came the Herod’s dynasty (37 B.C-92 A.D). Herod was not even a Jew, but an Idumean. In order to justify his kingship in Israel, Herod married a descendant of the Hasmonean Dynasty, Miriamne, and had the only heir of the Hasmonean Dynasty drowned in his palace. During this period of time, the cultures, lifestyles and political environment that we see in the gospels were being developed. When the Anointed One Jesus Christ came to Israel, he quickly gained great popularity and was recognized as a devout servant of God. Then, those long time established leaders – the Pharisees, the Sadduccees, and the Herodians felt threatened; they hated him and challenged him with many questions, and eventually they killed him; thus, the Anointed one was cut off in Israel, and God’s prophecy was fulfilled. This sixty two “sevens” were the time of preparation for the Messiah to come and do God’s work and be crucified on the cross to pay the price of sins as an atoning sacrifice so that God’s eternal righteousness could be brought into the human world. It was the preparation time for the Messiah's coming and death.

 

 Look at verse 26b. Gabriel said to Daniel, “The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed.” Within one generation after the Messiah was cut off, Roman general Titus came with the Roman soldiers and destroyed Jerusalem and the temple in 70 A.D. Daniel was so concerned about Jerusalem and the temple being rebuilt; he thought that in that way, God’s name would be honored. But God’s message showed him that ultimately, God’s redemption plan was not about a certain city like Jerusalem or a gorgeous building like the temple; God’s redemption plan was not limited by such things; even though they would be destroyed, God’s redemption plan would continue, but not through the Jews, but through the Gentiles. It would be the time of the Gentiles when God’s grace was given to the non-Jewish people and they would serve God’s salvation work to the ends of the earth. But while God’s salvation work goes on through the Gentiles, how would the world go? Gabriel says, “The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed.” It is really shocking that God describes about 2000 years’ world history from the Christ until now as the continuation of wars. I checked out the number of wars since 1 A.D., and considering the First World War or the Second World War as just one war, and counting only big ones, there have been more than 1,200 wars listed in the Wikipedia. Actually, this number is way too small; one country, which I know, alone, had more than 500 wars in her history, but in this list, only a few of them were counted. When we think about how God sees the world history, we can really see that surely the history is about the wars – with wars, things change and develop, and the history advances. What a terrible world we live; we are living in a war zone; surely, it is not a place for us to settle down and try to enjoy an easy life; you don’t want to build your home in a war zone. God’s view of the world shows that this world is not our home; our true hope is in the kingdom of heaven, and we are waiting for it anxiously. 

 

Now seven “sevens” and sixty two “sevens” in total sixty nine “sevens” were over with the death of Jesus, the Anointed One, and we are living in the time waiting for the last one “seven.” When will be the last one seven? Look at verse 27. He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing [of the temple] he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.” Here, “He” refers to the Antichrist, and the final one seven refers to the seven years’ covenant the Antichrist and the Jews will have, and with this final seven, God’s redemption plan to finish transgression, to put an end to sin and to bring in everlasting righteousness for all those who believe in Jesus will be completed. So, some day, when you see on the news that a political leader has an agreement with the Jews for seven years’ covenant or cooperation, know that he is the Antichrist, and that the end has come very near; when you see that news, wake up, prepare yourself for the coming of Jesus Christ in glory; your salvation is near. Then, during the second half of the covenant for three and a half years, the Antichrist will change his mind and start persecuting the Jews. At that time, those who are in Judea, should not think about the temple, but flee to the mountains, to the places God has prepared for them. And if anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go; if anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed. This requires patient endurance on the part of the saints. Many will give up their faith to secure their life on earth a little longer. Also, many people will be purified through this persecution and prove themselves faithful. Those who stand firm to the end will be saved. 

 

We are very thankful for God who planned the perfect redemption for all people and proceeded it until now. We are enjoying the benefits of God’s hard work – Jesus Christ is the Anointed One who was cut off to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness; he offered himself as an atoning sacrifice for sinners like you and me so that even wicked people may be forgiven of their sins and acquire everlasting righteousness; we are indeed eternally grateful to God who planned and proceeded it; we are thankful to our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One who offered himself as an atoning sacrifice for us. Because of him, we are here today, enjoying this new life and struggling to do something great for God. Also when we think about God’s plan of completing his redemption work with seventy “sevens,” we can see that it is really the last days; we are just waiting for the last and final one seven to occur and be completed. It is the time for us to wake up from all our spiritual slumber and participate in God’s redemption work wholeheartedly on our campuses. 

 

One Word:The Anointed One Was Cut Off To Bring In Everlasting Righteousness

Sunday, July 21, 2019

posted Jul 21, 2019, 8:35 PM by Site Administrator

YET HE WILL BE DESTROYED, BUT NOT BY HUMAN POWER

 

Daniel 8:1-27

Key Verse 8:25

 

He will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power. 

 

First, “A ram and a goat” (1-8). Look at verse 1. In the third year of King Belshazzar’s reign, I, Daniel, had a vision, after the one that had already appeared to me. The third year of King Belshazzar's reign was 551 B.C. Daniel was in Babylon. But in his vision, he saw himself in the citadel of Susa in the province of Elam. Susa, located about 230 miles east of Babylon, about 150 miles north of the Persian Gulf, was going to be the capital city of the Persian Empire. In his vision, Daniel was teleported to Susa about 230 miles away, and was shown what's going to happen there in the future. In the vision he was beside the Ulai Canal. He looked up, and there before him was a ram with two horns, standing beside the canal, and the horns were long. One of the horns was longer than the other but grew up later. As verse 20 shows, this two-horned ram represents the Medo-Persian Empire. Two horns refer to two kings – the king of the Medes and the king of Persia. Even though the two kingdoms were in coalition, the king who came later, Cyrus, king of Persia was stronger than Darius, a Mede. Cyrus let the king of the Medes, Darius be the king of Babylon in 538 B.C., since he was his uncle and at the same time, his father-in-law, while he himself remained as the king of Persia. Then, two years later, when Darius died, he became the king of Babylon also.

 

Verse 4 describes how successful the Persian Empire was. It reads: “I watched the ram as he charged toward the west and the north and the south. No animal could stand against him, and none could rescue from his power. He did as he pleased and became great.” Here, “no animal could stand against him,” means that no kingdom was powerful enough to resist the Persian Empire. An interesting point is that God describes the kingdoms of the world as “animals.” If any kingdom was significant, God would describe it as another animal, maybe, hyena. God really sees the world history as “Beast Wars!” The Persian Empire spread into three continents - Asia, Africa and Europe. At its greatest extent, the empire included the territories of Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the territories of northern India, parts of Central Asia, Asia Minor, Thrace and Macedonia, much of the Black Sea coastal regions, Iraq, northern Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, and all significant population centers of ancient Egypt as far west as Libya.

 

Verse 5 talks about another beast. “As I was thinking about this, suddenly a goat with a prominent horn between his eyes came from the west, crossing the whole earth without touching the ground.” As verse 21 shows, this shaggy goat refers to the Greek Empire, and a prominent horn between his eyes Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.). The first animal, the ram was about 6th Century, but the second animal, the goat was about 4th century. The Greek Empire spread so quickly that it was described as a goat crossing the whole earth without touching the ground. Alexander the Great became king at the age of 20, and in 10 years, he built the vast Greek Empire – Syria, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Persia, Bactria (the Central Asia under the Pamir Plateau – Modern day Uzebekistan, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan), and a part of India. In those days, it was even not easy to travel all these areas in 10 years! Verses 6 and 7 describe the war between the Persian Empire and the Greek Empire. The goat attacked the ram furiously, striking the ram and shattering his two horns. The ram was powerless to stand against him; the goat knocked him to the ground and trampled on him, and none could rescue the ram from his power. This description shows that simply the ram could not be a match for the goat. The first major battle was at Issus, Turkey. Alexander's army was less than 40,000, but the Persian's army led by Darius III, according to the ancient historians' records, ranged from 250,000 to even 600,000. But Alexander defeated them at Issus; while about 450 men of the Greek army died, more than 100,000 of the Persian army were killed. Shortly after this, Darius offered Alexander a deal to take all the land west of the Euphrates, and his daughter in marriage. At this, one of his general, named, Parmenion said, If I were Alexander, I would accept the terms.” At this, Alexander replied, “So would I, if I were Parmenion.” The next major battle was at Gaugamela, Persia. This time, Darius came up with his largest army, according to the ancient historians' record, about 600,000 or even one million soldiers, and Alexander's army was about 35,000. But again, Alexander won; while about 100 men of the Greek army died, about 300,000 men of the Persian Empire died. Soon, Alexander conquered the Persian Empire. 

 

Alexander the Great believed in the supremacy of Greek Culture, called, “Hellenism” – Greek philosophy, Greek mythology, and Greek arts and buildings. He dedicated himself to spreading Hellenism. As he had conquered the vast area - Europe, Middle East, and Asia Minor, Hellenism spread widely, and as a result, the whole world around the Mediterranean Sea, was unified culturally with Hellenism, and thereby they could communicate with each other freely. That’s why even almost all of the New Testament books were written in Greek. That’s one of the reasons why God established him to build this vast empire. Then, later, as the world was unified politically under the Roman rule, the gospel workers would travel and preach the gospel freely. God was working powerfully for his redemption work.

 

Verse 8 talks about the death of Alexander and his kingdom being divided into four kingdoms. Alexander was a great young warrior, with such a fighting spirit. But after coming back from his military campaign in India, he lost his vision and indulged himself into a pleasure-seeking life in Babylon. Then, at the age of 33, he got fever and died. Even if he was a great conqueror, he was found powerless before sin and death. At his death bed, when asked by his generals about to whom he wanted give his throne, he said, “To the strongest!” At this, his generals went out and established themselves as kings. In 321 B.C., Ptolemy took possession and ruled Egypt. In 317 B.C., Cassander assumed the government of Macedonia and Greece. In 311 B.C., one of Ptolemy's generals, named Seleucus, took over Babylon and Syria. In 306 B.C., Antiogus declared himself king of Asia Minor, but 5 years later, he was killed, and was succeeded by Lysimachus. By this time, within 15 years after the death of Alexander the Great, all of his family members, including his mother, his wives, his children were killed that not one of his family members remained alive.

 

This history lesson helps us think about how we must live our life. Even establishing a great empire does not give us any true fulfillment; instead, often, such success in the world makes people only proud, cruel and sinful; in many cases, even such success becomes the cause of real tragedy or sorrow to themselves and their family members. The true success is to have faith in Jesus and live for him; true victory is the victory over the power of sin and death, that can be found only in Jesus Christ. 

 

Second, “Another horn” (9-14). Look at verses 9 through 11. "Out of one of them came another horn, which started small but grew in power to the south and to the east and toward the Beautiful Land. It grew until it reached the host of the heavens, and it threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them. It set itself up to be as great as the Prince of the host; it took away the daily sacrifice from him, and the place of his sanctuary was brought low.” Here, as we see the interpretation in verses 24 and 25, the Beautiful Land refers to Israel, or more specifically, Jerusalem, and “the host of heavens” refers to the worshipers of God, and “the starry host,” the spiritual leaders there. In God’s eyes, all those great kingdoms are nothing but beasts, and all their kings great or small are nothing but horns of animals, but his worshipers are the host of the heavens, and the spiritual leaders are the starry host. This is how God sees you when you sincerely love him and serve him – such precious and beautiful people to him. 

 

This vision talks about the persecution on the Jews. Here, another horn refers to Antiochus IV Epiphanes (his reign: 175-164 B.C.). He was the eighth ruler of the Seleucid Empire. In 170 BC, Antiochus launched a preemptive strike against Egypt, conquering all but Alexandria and capturing King Ptolemy VI. To avoid alarming Rome, Antiochus allowed Ptolemy VI to continue ruling in Egypt. In 168 BC Antiochus led a second attack on Egypt and also sent a fleet to capture Cyprus. But this time, he was not so successful. Before reaching Alexandria, his path was blocked by a single, old Roman ambassador named Gaius Popillius Laenas, who delivered a message from the Roman Senate directing Antiochus to withdraw his armies from Egypt and Cyprus, or consider themselves in a state of war with the Roman Republic. Antiochus said he would discuss it with his council. But the Roman envoy drew a line in the sand around him and said, "Before you cross this circle I want you to give me a reply for the Roman Senate" - implying that Rome would declare war if the King stepped out of the circle without committing to leave Egypt immediately. It was really humiliating, but Antiochus could not help, but withdraw. While Antiochus was busy in Egypt, a false rumor spread in Israel that he had been killed. 

 

Before this, when Antiochus became king in 175 B.C., Jason a priest in Israel visited him and offered him a lot of money asking him to assign him as the High Priest in Israel, promising him that he would pay the same amount of money every year. Antiochus accepted this offer and assigned him as the high priest. The high priest’s position in those days in Israel had authority not only religiously but also politically. It was equivalent to the governor’s position. Then, in 171 B.C., he sent one of his officials, Manelaus to King Antiochus to pay the money. But when Manelaus met Antiochus, he suggested that he would pay three times more than Jason paid, for the high priest’s position. Antiochus accepted it. Manelaus, in his return, kicked Jason out and became the high priest. Manelaus was not Aaron’s descendant, but a Benjamite. Then, later when the rumor spread that Antiochus had been killed in Egypt, the deposed high priest Jason gathered a force of 1,000 soldiers and made a surprise attack on the city of Jerusalem and Manelaus fled Jerusalem during a riot.  

 

When these things were reported to the king, he was raving mad. He set out from Egypt and took Jerusalem by storm. He ordered his soldiers to cut down without mercy those whom they met and to slay those who took refuge in their houses. There was a massacre of young and old, a killing of women and children, a slaughter of virgins and infants. In three days, forty thousand were killed, and forty thousand were sold into slavery. Not long after this, the king sent his senator to force the Jews to abandon the customs of their ancestors and live no longer by the laws of God; also to profane the temple in Jerusalem and dedicate it to Olympian Zeus. They also brought into the temple things that were forbidden, so that the altar was covered with abominable offerings prohibited by the laws. Those who struggled to keep their integrity before God were killed. Two women who circumcised their sons were killed together with their babies. Those who had assembled in nearby caves to observe the Sabbath in secret were caught, and burned to death. Those who were afraid of such consequences had to give up their faith in God. This lasted about three and a half years until Maccabees overthrew the Syrian rule and rededicated the temple to God. Thus, the Jewish festival called Hanukah began, and also, the Hasmonean Dynasty (140-37 B.C) in Israel – Maccabees belonged to the family of Asmon, or Hasmoneus

 

Look at verses 13 and 14. While Daniel was thinking about this vision, he heard a holy one speaking to another holy one, “How long will it take for the vision to be fulfilled – the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, the rebellion that causes desolation, and the surrender of the sanctuary and of the host that will be trampled underfoot?” Then he said to Daniel, “It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated.” This period of six years and 110 days referred to the time when the sacrifice to God was hindered; this includes the three and a half years of Antiochus' persecution and the time when the Jews neglected the temple worship due to the Hellenistic culture, supported by Jason and Manelaus the high priests

 

When we think about the power struggles between Jason and Manelaus, we can see how corrupt the priests in those days; they were not spiritual at all, but worldly, political and materialistic. When things went this way for so long, these priestly people formed a group called “the Sadducees” as we see in the gospel of Jesus. When the main stream worship of God was corrupt this way, there were some people who dedicated themselves to God’s words and obeyed God’s laws absolutely. These people became the Pharisees. Also, there were some people who felt sick and tired of all these mundane struggles. They left their homes and stayed in the caves around the Dead Sea, reading and copying the Scriptures, and praying and praising. They became the Essenes; John the Baptist was known as an Essene. Thus we can understand why the chief priests rejected Jesus as a man of God, even if he had made everythingclear to them; they eventually killed him.

 

As this passage shows, God considers his worshipers so highly; he calls his worship place “the Beautiful Land,” his worshipers “the host of the heavens,” and his servants, “the starry hosts.” The expressions are amazing. These expressions show how precious and beautiful they were in God's eyes. Then, why did God allow such a terrible persecution occur in Jerusalem? Why did he hand them over to such an evil man? Verse 12 shows us the reason, saying, “Because of rebellion, the host of the saints and the daily sacrifice were given over to it.” English Standard Version translates this as “And a host will be given over to it together with the regular burnt offering because of transgression.” Also, in verse 14, we see the expression, “Then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated,” showing God's earnest desire for his temple to be consecrated. The reason was because of their transgression, their disobedience. God’s people should not sin; instead, God’s people should live in obedience to God’s words – only God’s people can obey him and do what He wants – this is our privilege and at the same time, our divine responsibility as God’s people. When God’s people sin, when their transgression reaches the limit, God disciplines them with challenges and difficulties. It is our nature that whenever we become successful or enjoy some prosperity, we become proud and self-indulgent; then, God is being pushed away from the center of our hearts; instead, other things occupy our hearts such as money, fame, human recognition, or even pleasures; the symptom of such change is that suddenly people become so concerned about how others think of them or see them, not how God sees them. God disciplines those whom He loves so that their hearts may be purified and restored with love for Him, and thereby, his sanctuary may be reconsecrated. When such difficulties or hardships rise, we must remember God's unchanging love and plan for his worshipers; when difficulties rise, we must accept God's love for us and turn to him in repentance.

 

Third, “Yet he will be destroyed, not by human power” (15-27). Look at verses 15 and 16. While I, Daniel, was watching the vision and trying to understand it, there before me stood one who looked like a man. And I heard a man’s voice from the Ulai canal calling, “Gabriel, tell this man the meaning of the vision.” When Gabriel came near the place where Daniel was standing, Daniel was terrified and fell prostrate. Daniel was righteous; he had glory. But Gabriel's glory was different. When Gabriel was a little distant from him, Daniel had no problem. But when Gabriel came near him, and as Daniel was exposed to his boundary, Daniel's human body could not bear his glory that he was terrified and fell prostrate. Simply, Daniel's computer was shut down due to too high voltage. “Son of man,” Gabriel said to Daniel, “understand that the vision concerns the time of the end.” As we see the interpretation in the passage, the vision was about the Persian Empire and the Greek Empire and the Syrian Empire. But Gabriel says here that the vision concerns the time of the end, showing that this vision, especially, the vision of another horn, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, serves as a pattern that will happen again during the end times. Antiochus is a shadow of the Antichrist, and in the same way Antiochus persecuted the Jews and desecrated the temple, the Antichrist will persecute the Jews and the Christians, desecrating the temple and God's churches. He will first have the seven years' covenant with the Jews. Then, during the second half of the covenant, he will change his mind and hate the Jews, stop the temple worship service and try to destroy them.  

 

Look at verse 18. “While he was speaking to me, I was in a deep sleep, with my face to the ground. Then he touched me and raised me to my feet.” When Gabriel touched Daniel, power came to Daniel and he could stand. Simply, Gabriel's power and Daniel's power were synchronized and thereby, Daniel could stand before him. Gabriel said to him, “I am going to tell you what will happen later in the time of wrath, because the vision concerns the appointed time of the end.” Then, he told Daniel about the rise and fall of the Medo-Persian Empire, the Greek Empire of Alexander the Great, and the four kingdoms after him. 

 

Gabriel's interpretation focused on “another horn,” Antiochus IV Epiphanes. He says, “In the latter part of their reign, when rebels have become completely wicked, a stern-faced king, a master of intrigue, will arise.” According to the treaty between the Roman Republic and the Seleucid Empire, Antiochus became a political hostage of the Roman Republic. When his older brother, Seleucus IV became king in 187 B.C, Antiochus was exchanged for his nephew Demetrius I Soter (the son and heir of Seleucus). After king Seleucus was assassinated in 175 B.C., since the true heir, Demetrius was still in Rome, Antiochus proclaimed himself as co-regent for another son of Seleucus, an infant named Antiochus, whom he then murdered a few years later. Indeed, the expression, “a master of intrigue,” describes Antiochus very well. In verse 24, Gabriel says, “He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does. He will destroy the mighty men and the holy people.” Here, the expression, “but not by his own power,” shows that in his rise, success and persecution of the saints, there was a spiritual force involved; he persecuted the Jews and desecrated the temple, having such hatred toward the Jews with the inspiration and power of Satan. During the Holocaust, Adolph Hitler killed millions' Jews, surely not by his own power, but with the help and support of Satan. So many people tried to assassinate him, but strangely, things happened and Hitler survived through all those attempts, because Satan was helping him. When the Antichrist rises and persecutes the saints, we must understand that behind the scene, Satan is involved. But that's not it. God is also involved in that matter. Look at verse 25. Let's read this verse together:

 

He will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power. 

 

According to this prophecy, in 164 B.C., as Antiochus returned to his country, he became ill and soon died and the Jews were set free from the Syrian rule. “Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power.” While those who persecute us grow in power continually, it seems that they are invincible; we are afraid of them. But at that time, we must remember that God is in control. “But not by human power.” We don't need to fight with those who hate us, those who persecute us. Instead of spending out time and energy in fighting with them, we must use such precious time and resources in spreading the gospel, entrusting all matters in God’s hands. Then, God will deal with them.  

 

Look at verse 26. “The vision of the evenings and mornings that has been given you is true, but seal up the vision, for it concerns the distant future.” Daniel served the Babylonian Empire as the prime minister. But the vision showed him that soon the Persian Empire would rise and conquer the world, and then, the Greek Empire. If he talked about this vision, the Babylonian Empire would not be so happy with him. Maybe, that's why Gabriel told him to seal up the vision, so that Daniel could be protected. After seeing this vision, Daniel was ill for several days, because the vision he saw, the encounter he had with Gabriel, and the whole message were too big and great for his body to handle. 

 

Today's passage shows God's control over the world history. For his own purpose, God established the Persian Empire and the Greek Empire. He even established Antiochus, a master of intrigue, to help and refine his own people through the persecution. Today, when we open our eyes toward God, we can see that everything is going on according to his plan and purpose. Don’t get involved in the Beast Wars. Instead, give yourselves fully to God's work, for you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain

 

One Word: Not By Human Power

Sunday, July 14, 2019

posted Jul 15, 2019, 12:54 PM by Site Administrator

2

 

THE KINGDOMS WILL BE HANDED OVER TO THE SAINTS

 

Daniel 7:1-28

Key Verse 7:27

 

Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him.’ 

 

First, “The Four Beasts” (1-8). Look at verse 1. In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream, and visions passed through his mind as he was lying on his bed. He wrote down the substance of his dream. The book of Daniel can be divided into two parts: Chapters 1 through 6 – historic events that happened in and around Daniel and his friends, and chapters 7 through 12 – prophetic visions Daniel had. Today's passage is about Daniel's first vision. He saw this vision in the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, 553 B.C. Daniel was already in his seventieth. How did it start? In verses 2 and 3, he says, “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me were the four winds of heaven churning up the great sea. Four great beasts, each different from the others, came up out of the sea.” The great sea here refers to the earth or the world; it was churning, showing that it was stirred up, and many things were happening; some people become successful while others fail; some companies earn a lot of money, while others go out of business; wars happen, and countries are destroyed; earthquakes occur in various places and many areas of the earth have terrible flood or drought due to the global warming. The great sea was churning. But it was churning because of the four winds of heaven blowing on it, indicating that the direct cause of the great sea churning was the will and purpose of the heaven; simply, God was in control of the world history, and he was guiding it according to his will and purpose. As a result, the four beasts came up out of the sea. 

 

In verse 17, we see a heavenly host giving an interpretation of the four beasts. He says, “The four great beasts are four kingdoms that will rise from the earth.” Based on this, now we understand the nature of this vision: God was showing Daniel of how the world history would flow; according to God's will and purpose, in human history in the future, four kingdoms would rise, and play certain roles. Then, when will this happen? The traditional understanding of this passage is that these four kingdoms are the Babylonian Empire, the Persian Empire, the Greek Empire and the Roman Empire – just the same vision Nebuchadnezzar’s statue showed. So, when you go and check out books on this passage, you will see this kind of interpretation. But that’s not correct. When you check out verses 11 and 12, you see that even when the fourth kingdom is destroyed and gone, still the other three kingdoms will exist in the world, even though they are not dominant in the world any longer. So then, according to the traditional understanding, even after the Roman Empire was gone in 476 A.D., there should still be the Babylonian Empire, the Persian Empire and the Greek Empire. So, we should not see it that way. The heavenly host’s interpretation of the fourth beast in verse 25 gives us the hint. It reads: “He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time.” Here, “a time, times and half a time,” refers to the 3 and a half years' persecution of the Antichrist during the last days. So, this vision is about the end times. According to the record of the book of Revelation, the Antichrist will persecute the Jews and Christians during the second half of the 7 years' covenant he made with the Jews; then, after this, Jesus Christ will come again and destroy the beast's kingdom; the Antichrist will be thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur, and the Millennium will start. That’s what God shows us in the book of Daniel. That’s how the world history would flow, and in order to fulfill God’s plan, four countries during the last days would play certain roles, and through Daniel, God shows us the key characteristics of these four countries so that, even 2,500 years later, today, we can identify them. 

 

Let's check out the beasts one by one. Look at verse 4. “The first was like a lion, and it had the wings of an eagle. I watched until its wings were torn off and it was lifted from the ground so that it stood on two feet like a man, and the heart of a man was given to it.” The first kingdom was recognized as the lion. When we check out national animals online, we see several countries using the lion as their national animal. Among them, one nation that can fit to the description in verse 4, is England – Great Britain. The lion had the wings of an eagle. The lion is the king of the animals, and the eagle is the king of the sky. What a great animal it must be – the lion with eagle's wings. Originally, the eagle's wings were attached, showing the coalition between the lion's kingdom and another kingdom known with the eagle, and later, it was detached, indicating the termination of their coalition. By the way, the eagle is the national animal of the USA. When America belonged to England, the British Empire was indeed the lion with eagle's wings. But on July 4th 1776, America declared independence from England, thus, the eagle's wings were torn off from the lion, even though the lion never wanted it. But even after that, the lion's situation was not weakened at all. Instead, its situation became more glorious. “It was lifted from the ground so that it stood on two feet like a man.” Right after America's independence, the steam engine was applied to power machines (1780s), and soon, the industrial revolution began in England and it changed everything for ever; with this, England grew very powerfully as a great empire, and until 20th century, England had built a vast empire, the largest empire in history – the British Empire. It is said, “The sun never sets on the British Empire.” But that's not all. “The heart of a man was given it.” We remember how human sanity was restored in Nebuchadnezzar when he raised his eyes toward heaven and acknowledged God's sovereignty. Here, the expression, “the heart of a man was given it,” shows the England people coming back to God in repentance. From 1740, John Wesley's Methodist movement spread throughout England; in 1853, Hudson Taylor went to China as a missionary, and soon following him, 800 missionaries went to China; he is the founder of China Inland Mission; then, in the late 19th century, there were 7 Cambridge students who pledged to be missionaries in China after graduation – it was a great sensation and it stirred up the England churches for the world mission – England church woke up for God's world mission. 

 

The second beast looked like a bear. The bear was a symbol of the Soviet Union, and even today, the Russians identify themselves with the bear. “It was raised up on one of its sides,” showing that there was imbalance, maybe, in power, or in wealth. The Soviet Union was a communist's country that claimed equality, but ironically, its unique characteristic was imbalance or inequality – in the Soviet Union, Russia always was dominant, and in that communist's country, only few elites took possession of all its wealth and power, while the absolute majority of people lived in poverty. Its description in verse 5 says, “it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. It was told, ‘Get up and eat your fill of flesh!’” Here, the three ribs in its mouth means three countries devoured by the bear, but actually, they are just some residues between its teeth, showing that the bear already had eaten so many other countries, but even after that, still its strong appetite did not subside that it wanted to eat more – Get up and eat your fill of flesh. Spreading the communism, the Soviet Union captured many countries and ruled until the Perestroika (1985-1990) of Mikhail Gorbachev (1931-).

 

Look at verse 6. “After that, I looked, and there before me was another beast, one that looked like a leopard. And on its back it had four wings like those of a bird. This beast had four heads, and it was given authority to rule.” There is no country that uses a leopard as their national animal. But one nation known for leopard is Germany. Germany is famous for tanks. In the 1950s, France and Germany started designing tanks together, but later, France gave up and Germany continued; then in 1965, they started production of the tanks, called, “Leopard,” and soon, the Leopard became a standard of European forces, and eventually became the Main Battle Tanks in over a dozen countries worldwide. Another key characteristic of this country is: “On its back it had four wings like those of a bird.” Actually, KJV translates this as “four wings of a fowl.”A fowl is a domestic hen or rooster - chicken. So, this description shows the coalition between the leopard country and a country known with a fowl. There is only one nation that is known for a fowl or rooster – it is France. In its history or as a nation, France is known as a Rooster; France' national animal is a Rooster. Historically, there was enmity between Germany and France. Actually, the Germany's national animal is an eagle. So, often, the enmity between France and Germany is described as a battle between a Rooster and an Eagle. But strangely, nowadays, we see these two countries in deep coalition. France and Germany sponsored the European Coal and Steel Community, and this evolved all the way to the forming of the European Union. Another key characteristic of the leopard is that ithad four heads. In Revelation 13, we see the beast, the Antichrist's kingdom, coming out of the sea and it has seven heads and ten horns, and in its interpretation, we see that the seven heads refer to seven kings, actually, seven kingdoms that have been in the history of the beast kingdom, of which, as of the time of the apostle John, 5 had fallen (the Egyptian Empire, the Assyrian Empire, the Babylonian Empire, the Medes and Persian Empire, and the Greek Empire), one was (the Roman Empire), and one was not yet come (the Antichrist's kingdom). So, here, four heads refer to the four kingdoms that appear in the history of the leopard nation. Indeed, Germans identify their history with four Reichs (four kingdoms). The first Reich (800-1806) was the Holy Roman Empire (962-1806), featuring Charlemagne the Great (742-842) as the forerunner. The second Reich (kingdom) was from the unification of Germany to the defeat in the First World War (1870-1919) under the diplomatic statesmanship of Otto Von Bismark, the Iron Chancellor. The third kingdom was Adolph Hitler's Nazi government resulting in the division into East and West Germany (1933-1945). Nazi called themselves as the Third Reich (Kingdom). The fourth kingdom is from 1951 to present as the key member of the European Union in the coalition with France. Another key characteristic of the leopard is: “It was given authority to rule. It shows that this third beast is going to be pretty dominant in the world. If our understanding of the third beast as the coalition between Germany and France is right, then, the European Union will be dominant in the world for a while, maybe, so that it can prepare the coming of the Antichrist, according to God's plan. 

 

Look at verses 7 and 8. “After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast—terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns. While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them; and three of the first horns were uprooted before it. This horn had eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth that spoke boastfully.” This is the last kingdom that will be dominant in the world before Jesus Christ comes again. The beast's ten horns refer to ten kings or ten kingdoms forming this beast's kingdom. So, the Antichrist's kingdom seems to be a union or confederation of ten countries. Also, here, another horn refers to the Antichrist. Before he becomes the Antichrist, already the kingdom is established; then, he comes by uprooting three kings or subduing three countries, and he quickly comes to have the control of this kingdom. This passage does not describe specifically how the beast will look, but just how horrifying, powerful and merciless it will be. But the book of Revelation gives us its description. Revelation 13:2 reads: 2The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority.” The Antichrist's kingdom is directly related to the other three kingdoms – the leopard's body, the bear's claws and the lion's mouth. This means that the Antichrist's kingdom will be formed up with the help and support of the other three kingdoms. By the way, the main body is a leopard – this is really terrifying. If the leopard refers to Germany, then, the Antichrist's kingdom will be mainly of Germany; when we think about how Germany under the leadership of Adolph Hitler killed several million people in the Holocaust, we are only scared. If the three beasts refer to “England, Russia, and Franco-German Alliance,” then, as many Bible scholars suggest, the Antichrist's kingdom will be of the Europeans, maybe, more specifically, Germany.

 

When we think about this passage carefully, we are only amazed at how God sees the world history. It seems that there are many things happening in the world, but simply in God's eyes, it is like a Beast War – nothing good or glamorous, but barbaric, cruel and vicious. There is nothing desirable in the world. Without faith in God, all people are in this Beast War; have nothing to do with them.  

 

Second, “The Ancient of Days took his seat” (9-14).Look at verses 9 and 10. Let's read these verses together:

9“As I looked,

“thrones were set in place,

and the Ancient of Days took his seat.

His clothing was as white as snow;

the hair of his head was white like wool.

His throne was flaming with fire,

and its wheels were all ablaze. 

10A river of fire was flowing,

coming out from before him.

Thousands upon thousands attended him;

ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.

The court was seated,

and the books were opened. 

 

Now the vision shifted from the beasts on the earth to the courtroom in heaven. While the world was going on with many kingdoms rising and having authority and influence, even while the Antichrist's kingdom was dominant, in heaven, the court was open to judge all the kingdoms and their peoples. While the kingdoms and their peoples enjoy success and prosperity, while many companies are being developed into entrepreneurs, they never imagine that in heaven, God is ready to pronounce his judgment on them. Don’t be deceived by the world’s beauty, for they stand already condemned. The heavenly court Daniel saw was indeed awesome. He saw that thrones were set in place: These thrones were not yet occupied, waiting for their rightful owners – worthy saints who produce great fruits as we see in the parable of talents. 

 

Then, the Ancient of Days took his seat: He is the Judge; he is God the Father, Jehovah Elohim. He is described as “the Ancient of Days,” showing that he has been involved in human history for so long; he is the one who has been watching since the creation of the world; so his judgment is not instantaneous, but well thought, arranged and figured out – his judgment is right; what a suitable name it is for the Judge of all; whatever decision he makes is right and just. To each of us, our God is the Ancient of Days. He has been watching you all the time, and whatever he does to you now is not from an instantaneous decision, but from his well-thought out decision – he shows mercy on you and blesses you and such an action of God is based on his long observance of you. So, enjoy God's blessing freely. The judge taking his seat at the court means that the court is in session; while the kingdoms in the world struggle to have power and influence, actually, God is ready to pronounce his judgment on them. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool: The color white shows His innocence and purity; in the past, and even some judges today, at the court, wore white wigs representing their innocence and purity as the judges; but their white color is fake; the white color God shows is genuine and real; his judgment is right and just; nothing impure or no favoritism with God in his judgment. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze. A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him:Here the fire represents his power; “Flaming with fire,” “all ablaze,” “a river of fire flowing and coming out from him,”all these expressions show how awesome the Judge is and how fearsome his judgment will be; all creatures, all peoples must fear Him and his judgment; we must live with his judgment in mind; live your life with a fearful and trembling heart. When you fear God, you know what to say and what not to say, what to do and what not to do. When you fear God, you will be cautious in your words and actions, instead of saying or doing what you feel like saying or doing. Indeed, the fear of God is wisdom. In the left hand of wisdom is life, long life, and in the right hand of wisdom are wealth and fame. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: thousands upon thousands mean several million people – his attendants as servants; ten thousand times ten thousand is one hundred million people – those who stand before him. These people show their absoluteness and loyalty toward him; these so many people standing before him while he conducts his business as the judge represent his glory. We are simply few of them. 

 

The books were opened: In these books, everything has been recorded – what each person has done, why, in what situation. This book is like a super computer, with super fast CPU, and world's best Security Cameras that records everything, not only the events and facts, but even what's going on in your hearts,... Everything has been recorded, and his judgment is based on what has been recorded – everything will be exposed as naked, and no one can hide anything; it will be the time of shame for many people, and at the same time, it will be the time of great joy and victory for many others when all their good deeds that have been hidden will be exposed; they will be recognized by God as good and faithful people. Whatever you do is recorded – when, where, what, why, and how. We must live our lives before God with a fearful and trembling heart.

 

Look at verses 11 and 12. Then I continued to watch because of the boastful words the horn was speaking. I kept looking until the beast was slain and its body destroyed and thrown into the blazing fire. (The other beasts had been stripped of their authority, but were allowed to live for a period of time.) The Antichrist's kingdom was destroyed; this will happen when Jesus comes the second time; after this, the millennium starts. When we look at the world, it seems that these powerful nations (beasts) are dominant and have real influence in the world. But Daniel's vision shows that they are not the main figures in history or they are not the history makers in the world, but eventually they will be destroyed, and the authority and glory and power will be given to the saints.

 

Look at verses 13 and 14. Now we see another Holy One who looked like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He is the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power. Right before his ascension, the Risen Christ proclaimed, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations...” (Mt 28:18,19) At this, all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. When the kingdom is like this, then, there is no more anxieties, no more defeats, no more worries or no more fears; in this kingdom, there will be no more tears; instead, all people in this kingdom can enjoy deep sense of security, peace and happiness; they can rejoice freely. No more worries, no more fears, no more anxieties, no more defeats – this is what all mankind have dreamed about; this is the true hope of all mankind. Jesus' eternal kingdom is the focal point of all mankind's struggles and hopes. Jesus is the one who fulfills our true hopes. How thankful we are that we are called into this eternal kingdom!

 

Third, “Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints” (15-28). Look at verses 15 through 18. “I, Daniel, was troubled in spirit, and the visions that passed through my mind disturbed me. 16I approached one of those standing there and asked him the true meaning of all this. So he told me and gave me the interpretation of these things: ‘The four great beasts are four kingdoms that will rise from the earth. But the saints of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever—yes, for ever and ever. The heavenly host's interpretation was short to the point. There are so many things happen each and every day – many people weep while some people laugh; many businesses and kingdoms rise and wane; there have been many wars. But in short, eventually through all those struggles, four kingdoms rise from the earth. But the saints of the Most High receive the kingdom and possess it forever, yes, for ever and ever. Maybe, this is the shortest description of the world history – four kingdoms rise on earth, but the believers of Jesus Christ possess the kingdom for ever and ever.  

 

Now Daniel wanted to know about the fourth beast and the ten horns and the other horn that came up, before which three of them fell—the horn that looked more imposing than the others and that had eyes and a mouth that spoke boastfully. As he watched, this horn was waging war against the saints and defeating them, until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom. The fourth beast refers to the fourth kingdom that will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it. The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise; he will subdue three kings. He will have the 7 years' covenant with the Jews, but during the second half of the covenant, he will change his mind and persecute the Jews and Christians. At that time, those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. If anyone is to who go into captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed. It will be the time when everything will become clear and everyone will have a chance to make their clear cut decision – either stand on God's side and die, or stand on the world's side and live a little longer. Despite the pains and sorrows of watching their family members dying - sons or daughters or fathers or mothers, there is no room for comprise. Through this fierce persecution, many Christians will be purified, while so many fake believers reveal their true identity as those who belong to the world.  The believers must endure patiently until the end of the seven years. Those who stand firm to the end will be saved. 

 

Look at verses 26 and 27. Let's read these verses together:

 

26“‘But the court will sit, and his power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever. 27Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him.’ 

 

 After the 7 years’ covenant is over, the Antichrist’s government will be darkened quickly. At Jesus’ second coming, it will be destroyed forever. Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High. This is the promise of victory in Christ Jesus. The saints will possess these nations of the earth. What does it mean? In his parable, Jesus described it as the property of your own. Practically, it means that you will be assigned as the city mayor of Torrance, or other cities and you will be given authority to design and operate your city however way you desire – zonings and codes and districts, hiring those whom you want; you will be assigned as the president and administrators of ECC, LAHC, SMC, CSULB, CSUDH, CSUF, USC, and UCLA – so that you can kick out all those unbelieving and liberal professors from your schools and assign shepherds and shepherdesses as professors, and of course, for English 1a, the textbook will be, “Pilgrim's Progress,” written by John Bunyan. It will be really cool and fantastic to be given sovereignty over our schools; it will be really cool to be given sovereignty over cities, states and countries – you are given a chance to use all your creative ideas and desires unlimitedly. And there will be no more re-election; your positions will be secured for ever and ever. We will reign with our Lord Jesus Christ forever, yes, for ever and ever. We give great thanks to God who has granted us such a promise of victory in Jesus Christ. In this hope, we can endure all challenges in the world and live as Jesus' disciples to the end of our life. Our hope in Jesus Christ is the real hope. 

 

Today's passage shows us to what direction the history is flowing. This passage helps us have the right view of what's going on in the world and of the world history – anyway, no matter what, the world history is about Beast Wars – nothing good comes from it; so, don't be enticed or deceived by it. All good things are stored for us in Jesus Christ – eventually, the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, to us, and we will reign the world with Jesus Christ forever, yes, for ever and ever. With this hope in mind, let's give ourselves fully to the work of God, for we know that our labor in Jesus is not in vain. 

 

One Word:All Kingdoms Will Be Handed Over To The Saints

 

Sunday, July 7, 2019

posted Jul 7, 2019, 8:31 PM by Site Administrator

THREE TIMES A DAY HE PRAYED, JUST AS HE HAD DONE BEFORE

 

Daniel 6:1-28

Key Verse 6:10

 

Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.

 

First, “Three times a day,... just as he had done before” (1-10). Look at verses 1 and 2. It pleased Darius to appoint 120 satraps to rule throughout the kingdom, with three administrators over them, one of whom was Daniel. Darius was found to be a well prepared ruler for the vast empire. He organized his empire very well – diving the entire empire into 120 states, assigning 120 governors, and making them accountable to three prime ministers. Daniel was one of the three administrators. The common practice in those days was that once a kingdom was conquered, then, the first thing the conquerors did was to annihilate all the royal members and high ranking officers of the previous kingdom so that there might be no possibility for revolt. But amazingly, when Darius became a new king of the Medes and Persian Empire, he didn't kill Daniel; instead, he hired him to the prime minister's position. How was it possible? Had he been political by becoming either a Republican or Democrat, then, as soon as another government came to power, he would have been removed. Daniel was not political, even if he was a politician. Had he been a patriot to the nation Israel, for Israel was his own country, or had he been a patriot to the Babylonian government, for the Babylonian Empire had shown him great favor, certainly the new government would have killed him; but he was not a patriot to any nation. He didn't seek any isms or any kingdom's particular idea; but he was sincere in his worldly occupation as a politician doing his duties and responsibilities faithfully, while giving his heart to God alone and pursuing him. Simply, he gave to Caesar what was Caesar’s, and gave to God what was God’s. At that time, everyone could see that he was not a threat to them; people could see that Daniel would never stab them on the back; he was truly reliable and trustworthy.

 

We live among the unbelieving people in the world; we have to get a job among the unbelieving people. Often, we wonder how we must conduct ourselves among them as believers. Some Christians are rude to the people in the world, or despise those who have authority over them, saying that human authority does not mean anything or saying that they only obey God. But Daniel's example shows us how we can overcome the world and even give good influence to the people of the world by being good, by being faithful. We must not seek isms or thoughts such as human rights or social justice or democrats’ idea or republicans' idea. We must remember that when there was a slavery system in Israel, God did not try to correct it, but worked around it; when there was great injustice for the believers in Rome, God was with them and helped them endure such injustice for about 300 years. Instead of seeking isms or thoughts or human rights, Christians must seek God alone in the given situation, being faithful to those who have authority over them, entrusting all things in God's hands. We must overcome evil by doing good. In this way, we can grow up as trustworthy and influential people in the world, no threat to anyone

 

Now Daniel was in his eightieth. But in the eyes of the king Darius, Daniel was so valuable and reliable for his experience and knowledge, his wisdom and insight. So, he made him one of the three administrators over 120 satraps. Then, sure thing, Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. In all things, Daniel stood out so clearly. But at this, the other administrators and the satraps were jealous of him that they tried to find basis for chargesagainst him in his conduct of government affairs; they checked out his bank account to see if any suspicious activity was there; they checked out his family members and relatives' job matters; they checked out his personal life after work; but they were unable to find anything wrong with him. Years ago, there was a news article. One person sent an email to many government officers, saying that he knew their faults and asked them to send him money through wire – he didn't specify what problem they had; then, these officers quickly sent him money without asking him anything. That's the story of ordinary people. But about Daniel, they could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. What a great man he was! He was faultless and matchless. Even they themselves acknowledged his exceptional cleanness as a politician, saying, “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.” They knew what kind of person he was – how innocent, how excellent, how trustworthy and how devout Daniel was – completely harmless. They should have considered it as a great privilege and honor that they were given a chance to work with such a great man; but they were blinded by their jealousy. So the administrators and the satraps went as a group to the king and suggested him a decree that anyone who prayed to any god or man during the next thirty days, except to the king should be thrown into the lions’ den. So without knowing what's going on, King Darius put the decree in writing. At the king's command, the decree was published and posted throughout the EmpireIt was now an unchangeable law in accordance with the laws of the Medes and Persians. This decree was aiming on Daniel. How did he respond? Look at verse 10. Let's read this verse together:

 

10Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. 

 

Daniel prayed just as he had done before. As a high governmental officer, he knew what it meant that the king's decree had been published – unchangeable and absolute law. He could have changed his prayer style; maybe, he simply could have closed the windows so that no one would notice him praying. Or simply, he could have prayed in the basement; or in his prayer, he would just talk to God in his mind, without having any prayer posture; or simply, he could have asked God for an excuse for the next thirty days. If he did just one of these many possible options, he would not have any trouble with this decree. But, Daniel did not do that. Instead, three times a day, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. He kept his prayer time as a matter of life and death; he would die rather than changing or skipping his personal time with God in prayer; to him, his time with God was more important and valuable than all things in the world, even his life. Indeed, he sought God with all his heart, as a matter of life and death; when his attitude toward his prayer time was so absolute like this, it was no wonder that he enjoyed such intimacy with God; his prayer life was so wondrous. Also, this was the secret how he could keep his prayer time with God despite his hectic and demanding schedule.  

 

In our relationship with God, absoluteness is everything. When we have absoluteness toward Him, we grow as spiritual people; when you are absolute toward God, you are absolute toward all things that are related to God – you are absolute toward God's word; you are absolute toward prayer; you are absolute toward God's people; you are absolute toward God's schedules such as Sunday worship or Friday Meeting or Bible study time, and greatness comes from taking absoluteness toward God. Absoluteness is an expression of true humility; it is an expression of your loyalty to God; it is an expression of your commitment to God; surely, in God, absoluteness is everything. But in this Post-Modern generation, in which people deny anything that is absolute, people take everything relatively, I mean, in their convenience, and even Christians have lost absoluteness toward God; as a result, they show a kind of an allergic reaction to the word, “absoluteness,” considering it restriction of their human freedom. As a result, they never make real commitment to God and they never grow up; this relativism is based on human pride. Again, in our life of faith, absoluteness is everything. The book of Daniel talks about this continually – how Daniel and his friends became great when they took absoluteness toward God, even at the risk of their own life. We studied about how Noah became great through absoluteness toward God's command; we studied about how Abraham became a source of blessing through his absoluteness toward God; we know how many other servants of God have becomegreat through their absoluteness toward God – their absolute obedience to God's will, their absolute surrender to God’s will. When you have absoluteness toward God, you become reliable and you grow up in Jesus.

 

Verse 10 describes Daniel's prayer life very well. In his prayer struggle, Daniel had certain principles and kept them with absoluteness. The first one is, “three times a day.” This expression means that he set aside three segments of time each day for prayer and kept them absolutely. He didn't pray whenever he felt like doing it; he didn't pray at random; he didn't pray whenever the situation allowed; instead, he set times – maybe, 5 o'clock in the morning, 3 o'clock in the afternoon, and 10 o'clock in the evening, each 30 minutes or one hour – he offered these times to God first. How is it to keep 3 prayer times a day? It’s really hard. Even keeping one prayer time a day requires complete commitment to it. Let’s say your prayer time is 9-10 pm or 10-11 pm. In order to keep this prayer time absolutely, you have to arrange all other things around it. What about your homework or papers? You have to do it before the prayer time. What about your finals next day morning? You have to study in advance so that your prayer time may not be bothered. In this way, when you want to keep your prayer time absolutely once a day, you cannot procrastinate anything or lazy at all; instead, you have to use every flying minute effectively and diligently. Then, what about keeping 3 prayer times a day? It means that basically, you live for those 3 prayer times, and all other things are just the duties and responsibilities you take care of each day. Daniel lived that kind of life. Sometimes, in order to keep his prayer times, he had to excuse himself from the government officers’ meeting; sometimes, he could not attend special family dinner meeting. As a result, he was misunderstood and even isolated. But he continued this struggle. Indeed, Daniel sought God wholeheartedly. The expression, “just as he had done before” shows that he had been keeping his prayer times for so long, maybe, many months, or many years. I am sure that if anyone seeks God this way for months or years, that person must enjoy wonderful fellowship with God in his or her prayer. No wonder that God gave him such divine and prophetic visions to Daniel as we see in this book, showing Him His plan for the whole world. All these visions are like Daniel’s prayer diary. Do you want to enjoy wonderful and divine fellowship with God in prayer? Then, seek Him wholeheartedly just in the same way Daniel did.

 

 The expression, “the windows opened to Jerusalem,” shows how much he yearned the city of God, Jerusalem. He always had his prayer struggle in this room upstairs, whose windows opened to Jerusalem. So, his prayer time was the time when he set aside all other things, and remembered his true home, Jerusalem, the symbolic of the kingdom of God. He was very successful in the world – maybe, prime minister of the superpower nations almost lifelong. But his hope was not in his success, but in God's kingdom. Three prayer times were the times when he renewed his hope in the kingdom of God. We live in the world and there are so many things that attract us; how easy it is to be tempted by success of this world – just you have good grades, then, suddenly all kinds of rosy dreams for success in the world develops in your heart – what silly creatures we are! Prayer times in God's temple, prayer times when we are open toward God is the time when our hope in the kingdom of God isrenewed in us. 

 

The expression, “he got down on his knees and prayed,” shows his prayer posture and his humility before God. Everyone knelt down before Daniel, but he didn't think of himself too highly; instead, he knew who he was – a servant of God. So, he knelt down before God. Another expression, “giving thanks to his God,” shows us his main prayer topic. In his prayer, one thing he always did was to give thanks to God. His own country was destroyed by the Babylonian Empire about 60 years ago; so many people were killed mercilessly, and the rest of them were deported to a foreign land. It seemed that he should be full of sorrows, saying, “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down; we wept remembering Zion.” Or it seemed that he should complain to God, saying, “Why?” But he didn't do that; instead, he gave thanks to God. When his own country was destroyed, so many of his people were killed, and his own people were living in exile. In that situation, Daniel thanked God. Despite such challenging and troublesome situation, he trusted in God who was sovereign, and believed in God's goodness. He thanked God. Many people think that they can give thanks to God, when things go well or when there are blessings of God in their life. But that's not true. Thanksgiving does not come from good conditions, but it comes from having right relationship with God. When you are in the beautiful relationship with God, your heart is full of thanksgiving and thereby, you can give thanks to God in all circumstances. God declares, “He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me...” (Ps 50:23)  

 

Daniel lived as a high government official almost lifelong; luxury and convenience was within his reach. But he didn't melt with money or success in Babylon, but kept his faith in God and lived as a God-worshiper. The environment was really challenging, but Daniel overcame all of them and grew to be an influential servant of God. And today's passage shows us his secret of victory and success as a God worshiper – it was his absolute prayer life – three times a day, giving thanks to God, just as he had done before. As we live as Jesus' disciples in the world, there are a lot of pressures, challenges, and temptations; pressure from our professors, the burden of security and paying the bills and the temptation of flesh and money. So many people have lost their faith in God and live as just nominal Christians actually, as dead fish, no fragrance of Jesus, but bad smell of corruption and worldliness and death; indeed, America is a melting pot. How can we keep our integrity before God and live according to God's plan and purpose continually? How can we rise above all these challenges and grow to be powerful and influential servants of God? Daniel's prayer life, his personal, but absolute prayer life can be our secret too. When we keep our prayer times absolutely, they will be like a spiritual bulletproof shield for us, and with our prayer struggle, we can pass through this world as holy pilgrims. 

 

Second, “His dominion will never end” (11-28). Look at verse 11. Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help. They caught Daniel in the act of prayer. In this passage, we see one expression repeated continually. In verse 6, “So the administrators and the satraps went as a group to the king,...” In verse 11, “Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying,...” In verse 15, “Then the men went as a group to the king and said,...” “Went as a group,...” Actually, it is scary to go to the king and try to deceive him to issue a decree; it is really scary to try to find faults with the prime minister or accuse him; no one would do it on his own. But when they got together, they devised such an evil, believing in manpower. This is how those who do not have personal faith in God behave – they rely on manpower. All kinds of evil come from them. Have nothing to do with them. On the contrary, Daniel was alone; he didn't rely on manpower, because he had God on his side; through prayer, he was with God.

 

Look at verse 12. So they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree: “Did you not publish a decree that during the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or man except to you, O king, would be thrown into the lions’ den?” The king answered, “The decree stands—in accordance with the laws of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.” Then they said to the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or to the decree you put in writing. He still prays three times a day.” They described Daniel as a disgustingly rebellious person, defying the king's decree. At this, the king could have been angry at him. But that's not the case. Instead, when the king heard this, he was greatly distressed; now he knew what's going on – why these officials had come to him and suggested him to issue such a decree – they wanted to trap Daniel and kill him, even by deceiving the king himself. The king never wanted to kill Daniel; he was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort until sundown to save him – maybe, he reminded them of how faithful Daniel was; he told them that Daniel had no evil intention to go against him; he told them that they must accept Daniel as a servant of God. Until sundown, the king tried to rescue Daniel. Then the men went as a group to the king and said to him, “Remember, O king, that according to the law of the Medes and Persians no decree or edict that the king issues can be changed.” Even though he was the king, he was really trapped. So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!” A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed. Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep. It is really good to be recognized and honored by king like this. If Daniel tried to earn the king's heart for himself by doing what the king wanted, he would never have this kind of complete trust. But when Daniel loved God and pursued him only, everyone could see what kind of person he was – a servant of God, and thereby, they trusted him completely. Daniel became very important and valuable to the king.

 

At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?” What was Daniel's response? Let's read verses 21 and 22 together:

 

21Daniel answered, “O king, live forever! 22My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king.” 

 

Daniel was thrown into the lion's den, but God had already arranged the lions there so that Daniel would not get hurt; he fell on the lions like a feather; no lion growled at him; instead, they bowed down to him and circled around him so that he might not be so cold there. Daniel petted them, saying, “You lions are so cute.” While the king could not sleep all night long, Daniel slept well. When the king called to him, Daniel, completely refreshed, answered in a powerful Baritone voice, “O king live forever! My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king.” The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. Daniel was proved innocent. And now the king was angry at those wicked officials who had tricked him and tried to kill Daniel. The king wanted them to prove themselves with the lions too. At the king’s command, the men who had falsely accused Daniel were brought in and thrown into the lions’ den, along with their wives and children. And before they reached the floor of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones. 

 

Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations and men of every language throughout the land: “May you prosper greatly! I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel.” Now thanks to Daniel's absolute faith and struggle to seek God alone, even this unbelieving king was blessed to witness the glory of God. So, he issued a decree that in every part of his kingdom, people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. At first, it seemed that, compared to the vast Empire, what Daniel did – praying three times a day absolutely - seemed not so big; it was just his personal prayer struggle. But when he kept his prayer time absolutely as the matter of life and death, God came to have a chance to reveal his glory to the world through it, and now God's name was exalted highly in that unbelieving Empire. Our personal struggles before God such as keeping prayer time absolutely, or Bible reading time absolutely, or writing one testimony a week absolutely, or keeping the Sunday worship service time absolutely, look not so glamorous; it is just our personal struggle. But when we keep them absolutely as the matter of life and death, eventually, because of our struggle and decision, conflicting situations rise, and through our absoluteness, God comes to have a chance to intervene into the situation and reveal his glory. Surely, those who seek God with all their hearts come to find him in their life, experiencing God's glory, and God reveals Himself to the world through them – His Power, His Wisdom and His Person. Our absoluteness toward God becomes a channel through which God can reveal his glory to the world. God is looking for those people who seek him with all their hearts. God’s eyes range throughout the earth to strengthen whose hearts are fully committed to him.

 

Look at verses 26b and 27. Let's read these verses together, starting from, “For he is the living God,...”:

 

“For he is the living God

and he endures forever;

his kingdom will not be destroyed,

his dominion will never end. 

27He rescues and he saves;

he performs signs and wonders

in the heavens and on the earth.

He has rescued Daniel

from the power of the lions.” 

 

Through this event, Darius' eyes were opened to see who the God of Daniel was. He says, “For he is the living God.” It was obvious to him that God was not just a vague concept or someone far away, but the living God who was working now; not just in the document or myth or stories, but the one who was living and doing things for his servants. In verse 27, he says, “He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth.” He describes God as someone so powerful and at the same time, so active and dynamic in the lives of his servants. To him, believing in God or worshiping God meant to jump into the life together with such active, dynamic and powerful God. That was Darius’ understanding of God. What is your understanding of God? Is it “He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth”? Our understanding of God, our faith in God must be practical like this, and such faith comes from experiencing God very personally in our life of faith. And such an experience with God comes when we seek Him with all our heart, when we take real absoluteness toward Him. At that time, our life of faith comes with a lot of glorious and miraculous stories and our Christian life becomes so abundant. Entrust everything, literally everything in God's hands and pursue Him with all your heart. Those who put their trust in God will not be put to shame. 

 

He also says, “his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end.” No one taught him about God's eternal kingdom, but by seeing how God had rescued Daniel from the lions, he could see that God was almighty and that his kingdom would never be destroyed. God’s kingdom is an eternal kingdom. This is one key theme that is repeated in the book of Daniel. Daniel himself mentioned about it in chapter 1. Then, Nebuchadnezzar talked about it, even two times. Now, king Darius talks about it. This is what the book of Daniel talks about. Nebuchadnezzar and Darius were kings; they had seen how kingdom rose and waned. As kings, it was their dream to establish an eternal kingdom. But they could not do it; just like other kingdoms that had risen, but gone long ago, their own kingdoms also would be gone. Then, they found the answer – God’s kingdom is an eternal kingdom. They were amazed and praised about it. 

 

This is the message God gives us through the book of Daniel – God’s kingdom is an eternal kingdom. It is all people’s dream that their kingdom, their country may be the eternal kingdom. That’s why they want their countries to be more powerful, developing better weapons; that’s why they want their countries to be more respected in the world. All people have the desire for eternal kingdom. But the problem is that no kingdom in the world can be the answer to their desire. But now, through the book of Daniel, God shows us that His kingdom is an eternal kingdom – the answer to all our desire. God wants us to put our hope in his kingdom and live as the citizens of this kingdom. And Daniel’s own example shows us what it means to live as the citizens of this kingdom – even after his own country was destroyed, how he could serve various kings in the Babylonian Empire, in the Medo-Persian Empire, and in the Persian Empire. Let’s pray that we may live as the citizens of the eternal kingdom, God’s kingdom.

 

Verse 28 is the conclusion of Daniel's life of faith. SoDaniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian. May all of us enjoy this kind of great prosperity by seeking God absolutely. May God grant us great victory over the world through our personal struggle of faith. May God establish many powerful men and women of prayer like Daniel among us.

 

One Word:Three Times A Day, Just As He Had Done Before

Sunday, June 30, 2019

posted Jun 30, 2019, 9:15 PM by Site Administrator

MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN

 

Daniel 5:1-31

Key Verse 5:25

 

This is the inscription that was written:

mene, mene, tekel, parsin

 

First, “But you have not humbled yourself, though you knew all this” (1-24). Look at verse 1. King Belshazzar gave a great banquet for a thousand of his nobles and drank wine with them. Nebuchadnezzar (634-562 BC) ruled the Babylonian Empire from 605 to 562 B.C. After him, his son, Amel Marduk, became king, but was almost immediately assassinated and replaced by his brother-in-law, Neriglissar (559-556 BC). In 556 B.C., Nabonidus became king. But after ruling three years in Babylon, he felt completely meaningless and empty that he went to the oasis of Tayma, located in northeastern Saudi Arabia and devoted himself to the worship of the Moon god, Sin. Surely, luxury, wealth, power or pleasure could not be the meaning of man’s life; humans are to worship the true God. But sadly, he didn't know who the true God was, and thereby, ended up dedicating himself to a worthless idol. When Nabonidus left Babylon, he set his son, Belshazzar whose wife was a descendant in the line of Nebuchadnezzar, as the co-regent and made him in charge of defending the city of Babylon. During this time, the Medes and Persians grew strong and attacked the Babylonian Empire. In the year 540 B.C. Nabonidus returned from Tayma, hoping to defend his kingdom from the Medes and Persians. But on October 10, 539 B.C. Nabonidus surrendered and fled from Cyrus, the king of Persia. Two days later, on October 12, 539 B.C., the united army of the Medes and Persians overthrew the city of Babylon. So, today’s event happened at the night right before the fall of the city of Babylon – so on October 11th 539 B.C.

 

Now, the united army of the Medes and Persians was surrounding the city of Babylon, but the city was indestructible – the city wall was indestructible, and inside the city, there was enough food and water for years. Just they closed the gates of the city and were waiting, and the army of the Medes and Persians could not do anything.   Then, in order to boost up the spirit and morale of the nobles and officers, Belshazzar gave a great banquet for a thousand of his nobles and drank with them. It was an animal party. If godly people faced such a challenge, they would gather together, encouraged each other to trust in God and pray – such people are noble. What a silly idea it was to boost up the morale of people through a wild animal party! Compared to how godly people respond, the way Belshazzar or other unbelieving people try to cope with their burdens or fears is indeed barbaric. True civilization comes from loving God and trusting in him – this is wisdom. 

 

Then, as the king was drunk, he did something he should not have done. He ordered to bring in the gold and silver goblets that Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken from the temple in Jerusalem, so they drank from them. As they drank the wine, they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone. It was an open mockery, despising and making sport of God’s name – it was something that should not have been done. But the king lost his mind due to drinking too much wine and he ended up crossing the line, committing the sin of blasphemy. 

 

The Bible warns about drinking. Even a righteous man, Noah, due to drinking too much wine, ended up causing his son, Ham to sin, and bringing curse on his descendants. Even the righteous man can make such a big mistake when drunk; then, what about just ordinary believers like you and me? We must not drink for ourselves, for our family, and mostly for the glory of God. How thankful we are that God has freed us from the danger of alcohol. When we believed in Jesus, when we accepted God’s grace personally, when we repented of our sins sincerely, blessing the beginning of our new life in Jesus, God took away the desire for drinking from our hearts – God broke the yoke of alcohol and set us free. This is our thanks topic. 

 

Look at verses 5 and 6. Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote. His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his knees knocked together and his legs gave way. It seemed that Belshazzar was bold when he dared use the gold and silver goblets that belonged to God and God’s temple – even the great king Nebuchadnezzar had not done such evil. But actually, he was not bold, but silly, thoughtless and childish. Once something that went beyond his understanding happened, he was so frightened that his knees knocked together and his legs gave way. Actually, this is how many sinners live their life. Sometimes, they look bold in sinning, but no one is bold in sinning – their hearts are filled with fear. 

 

The king called out for the enchanters, astrologers and diviners to be brought and said to these wise men of Babylon, “Whoever reads this writing and tells me what it means will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around his neck, and he will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom.” But none of them could read the writing or tell the king what it meant. So King Belshazzar became even more terrified and his face grew more pale. His nobles were baffled. The queen, most likely, queen mother, hearing the voices of the king and his nobles, came into the banquet hall. “O king, live forever!” she said. “Don’t be alarmed! Don’t look so pale! There is a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods in him. She encouraged him to call for Daniel, saying“He will tell you what the writing means.” As of that time, Daniel was very old. If he was 20 years old when he was taken to Babylon as an exile, which was 605 B.C., then in 539 B.C., he would be 86 years old. It seemed that he had already retired. Maybe, that’s why he was not at the king’s banquet.

 

So Daniel was brought before the king. The king asked him to interpret the writings on the wall, promising him that if he did, he would give him a lot of gifts and make him the third highest ruler in the kingdom.

 

But Daniel turned down his offer, saying“You may keep your gifts for yourself and give your rewards to someone else. Nevertheless, I will read the writing for the king and tell him what it means. But before giving him the interpretation of the writing, Daniel gave him a history lesson, showing him that God gave Nebuchadnezzar such authority and power over all others, but when he became proud, God took away everything from him and made him the lowliest of all, making him like a cow to eat grass until he acknowledged God in his life. God was real, and people should live before him with a fearful and trembling heart, acknowledging God in their life.

 

Then, Daniel rebuked Belshazzar, saying, “But you his son, O Belshazzar, have not humbled yourself, though you knew all this. Instead, you have set yourself up against the Lord of heaven. You had the goblets from his temple brought to you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines drank wine from them.” He set himself up against God. It was never his intention to set himself against God, but that’s what he did. How? By treating the things of God with contempt. That’s how people set themselves against God – by treating the things of God with contempt – God’s name, God’s grace, God’s laws, God’s grace, God’s church and God’s people. We must show reverence toward the things of God, treating them with caution, sincerity and humility.

 

Daniel also rebuked him, saying, “You praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or understand. But you did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways.” His sin was that he had not honored God even if he knew about how God had trained his father Nebuchadnezzar. It was obvious that God was real and that He was the Sovereign Lord; God was actively involved in the lives of people. So, Belshazzar had to honor Him because God held in his hand his life and all his ways – everything of his life – his success or suffering, his happiness or loneliness all were in God’s hands; he had to honor God by showing him respect, by living before him with caution, sincerity and humility. But Belshazzar did not honor God; instead, he set himself up against God by treating things of God very casually and contemptuously. God is the Sovereign Lord over our life; he holds in his hand our life and all our ways – what kind of job you will get, what kind of life you will live, what kind of family you will have,… we must honor God. How much respect do we show to our professors who have slight authority over our grades and maybe, some influence over which graduate school we can go? Then, how much more to God who holds in his hand our entire life and all our ways? We must honor Him.

 

Then, how can we honor God? Belshazzar failed to honor God because he valued those idols of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood and stone. He pursued those things and praised them, instead of praising God who held his life in his hand. Like Belshazzar, today many people fail to honor God by praisingsuch idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood, valuing them and pursuing them. They brag about what a wonderful car they have, and what a wonderful house they have. Those who value such things and praise them do not honor God. This is the trend in the society. Such people are idol worshipers. God does not like them, because instead of honoring him who in his hand holds their life and all their ways, they honor such worthless idols, valuing and praising them. Let’s not give our hearts to such things. Instead, let’s give ourselves to God alone who, in his hands, holds our life and all our ways. Let’s not worship idols, but God alone! As a conclusion, Daniel said to the king, “Therefore he sent the hand that wrote the inscription.”Honoring God sounds conceptual and theoretical, but actually, it is very practical for those who acknowledge God’s sovereignty over their lives. They show absolute attitude toward things of God. They, instead of valuing and praising things of gold, silver, iron, stone and wood, value and praise God. Today, what do you value? What do you honor? God, or idols?

 

Second, “Mene, mene, tekel, parsin” (25-30). Now Daniel gave the interpretation of the writing. Look at verses 25 through 28. Let’s read these verses together:

 

25“This is the inscription that was written:

mene, mene, tekel, parsin

26“This is what these words mean:

Mene: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.

27Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.

28Peres: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”

 

The writing was: “Mene, mene, tekel, parsin.” We don’t know exactly why the wise men of Babylon could not read this writing. Some Rabbinic interpretations (notably the mention in the Babylonian Talmud) say that the words were written in code; others suggest that the written Aramaic and Hebrew looked very different, even though they were pronounced similarly. But anyway, it was: Mene, mene, tekel, parsin. As the footnote shows, these words were the Aramaic names of measures. Mene is mina, the amount of money, equivalent to three months' wages. Tekel is “shekel,” a measurement for weight about 15 gram or half an ounce. And Peres (singular form of Parsin as the footnote shows) is half a mina or half a shekel – a half of any other measurement. So, it was: Two minas, one shekel, and two parts. It was a riddle. But Daniel understood what God was talking about through this writing. In the verb form, they were: mene, to number; tekel, to weigh; parsin, to divide—literally "numbered, weighed, and divided." Based on this, Daniel gave the king its interpretation.

 

Mene: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end. God pronounced his verdict against Belshazzar. Belshazzar thought that he was in control and that he could do whatever he wanted. But that’s not the case. It was God who established Belshazzar as the king in Babylon, and it was God who decreed how long he should remain as king, and now God brought his reign to an end. This shows how actively God was involved in operating the Babylonian Empire. God was working hard, hiring people to high positions, and laying them off at the right time according to his own purpose. God was truly sovereign over the kingdoms of menThis shows that we have no reason to pursue high positions or titles in the church. It is God who assigns anyone He wants to the positions and titles. Only those who do not have faith in God, only those who do not love God but value such things pursue them, while those who love God pursue Him alone. Then, God, according to his plan and decision, gives such positions and titles to those whom He sees fit. The principle He uses in this matter is: Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. In the time of success and prosperity, we must remember that God is numbering the days of our prosperity and thereby, humble ourselves before him. We must live our life with a fearful and trembling heart.

 

This interpretation also shows us how actively God is involved in the life of each individual. He is sovereign over each person’s life. Do you believe that God is sovereign over your life? Do you believe that God has a good plan for you? Do you believe that your life is in God’s hands? Then, you have nothing to worry about. You don’t need to say, “I know God does not make a mistake, but human servants do.” God will not fail to guide your life, only because of filthy humans’ flimsy mistakes. You don’t need to say, “What if?” either, because the worst scenario possible you think of will never occur in your life, because God loves you and He has a good plan for you, plan to prosper you. In the US Currency, we see the inscription, “In God we trust.” What does it mean? It does not mean that you just read it or memorize it. Instead, it means that you are confident of God’s goodness and love for you, and thereby, you have nothing to be afraid of. You trust that your life is in God’s hands. Psalm 56:4 reads: “In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”Again, Psalm 56:11 reads: “in God, I trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Then, Psalm 118:6 reads: “The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Then, Hebrew 13:6 draws a conclusion in this matter, saying, “So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”

 

Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting. This was the reason why God had brought to an end of his reign. Since he was king, he should be in the super heavy weight level; but when God weighed him on the scales, the scale tilted up on his side terribly, because he was in the fly weight level, under 112 lbs; simply, he was not a material for king or for any highly authorized position. In the Bible, often, righteousness is measured as weight. For example, in the parable of wheat, when tossed off into the air, chaff is blown away by the wind because it does not have any weight; but grains fall into the sieve instead of being blown away, because they have real weight; as a result, because of sieving, tossed off into the air over and over, all the chaff is blown away, and in the sieve, only real grains remain; such grains are gathered into the barn - these are true saints who endure the winds of all kinds of challenges and temptations in the world and remain in Jesus; the wind of temptation for success or for their dream romance comes, but they are not blown away; they are not cheapened. The wind of hardships such as financial difficulties, or academic failures, or persecution from their family members, or conflicts with other coworkers, blows on them, but still they remain in God's will, holding onto God's calling and serving God's work rain or snow – they have true weight like a rock. They are the ones who hold onto God's words; they are real disciples of Jesus Christ. 

 

When we think about Tekel more carefully, we can see that once he assigns people to certain positions with related authority and responsibility, God expects a certain quality from them – he expects them to perform in an acceptable way – God weighs them on the scales. God established Saul as the first king in Israel; at first, Saul was very humble. But as he was used to his position as king, he became humanistic and took relativistic attitude toward things of God – God's words, God's servant, and sacrifices to God. Finally, after having waited for about 30 years, God rejected him to be king, and gave that position to David, who would do everything God wanted. For Belshazzar, God gave him 14 years to prove himself as king; Belshazzar was thoughtless, careless and childish, but God had waited patiently for him. But now, finally, Belshazzar went too far and crossed the line by despising God's name, by blaspheming. So, God declared his verdict, “Wanting,” and was going to remove him from such an honorable position. 

 

He wants us to live our lives in a manner worthy of his grace, not in debauchery, or in drunkenness, or in pride, but in faithfulness, love and loyalty. When God weighs you on his scales, how heavy will you be found? Like super heavy weight boxers? Or fly weight boxers? Of course, super heavy weight boxers! That’s why we cannot take this Christian life casually. Now is the time God has given us to prove ourselves as true Christians, as real disciples who have real weight, who will not be blown away by the wind of this world. We must live our life before God with true sincerity, with a heart's complete determination to serve God and live for him alone at any cost

 

Peres: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians. When Belshazzar was found wanting, found not qualified to be king, God gave that position to other person who was qualified. In this way, God is leading the human history according to his plan and purpose, sometimes raising people to the positions, sometimes removing them from the positions, sometimes, uniting the kingdoms, sometimes, dividing the kingdoms. We bow down to God, the Ultimate Controller of human history. We thank God for choosing us to be his servants and using us in his salvation work. Let's humble ourselves before Him and before others all the more and make all possible efforts to be found faithful in Jesus Christ.

 

Look at verse 29. Then at Belshazzar’s command, Daniel was clothed in purple, a gold chain was placed around his neck, and he was proclaimed the third highest ruler in the kingdom. When he heard Daniel's message – the message of God's judgment upon him, it seemed that he had to kneel down and cry out to God for mercy. But he was not a sincere person, but just a party animal. At such a serious and urgent message, instead of accepting it and pleading with God for his mercy with tears, he gave Daniel a lot of gifts; maybe, that way, he tried to keep his pride or show himself as king. That very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians, was slain, and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom, at the age of sixty-two.

 

One Word:Live Your Life In A Manner Worthy of God's Calling

Sunday, June 22, 2019

posted Jun 23, 2019, 6:29 PM by Site Administrator

UNTIL YOU ACKNOWLEDGE...

 

Daniel 4:1-37

Key Verse 4:32

 

You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes.” 

 

First, “How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders!” (1-3). Look at verse 1. Today's passage is Nebuchadnezzar, the king's public address to his people like the state of union delivered by the President of the USA at the beginning of each year. The king had something very special that he wanted to tell all his people about. He starts his public address with a kingly remark, saying, “King Nebuchadnezzar, To the peoples, nations and men of every language, who live in all the world: May you prosper greatly!” Then, in verse 2, he writes: “It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me.” The key point of his address to the people was about the miraculous signs and wonders God had performed for him. Originally, he didn't know God. But he experienced God, and it was miraculous and wondrous. In his eyes, what God had done for him was so marvelously great that he could not keep it to himself, but he had to speak out loudly so that everyone would know the greatness of God and marvelous grace and favor of God upon his life. What a happy person he was! He was indeed blessed and favored by God. 

 

By the way, what did God do for him? As today's passage describes, God stripped him off all wealth, power and glory, even his sanity; God made him insane, and he became like an animal, eating grass for seven years, and then, God restored him to his glory. Practically, it meant that, because of God’s intervention, he was bankrupt financially and he became a street bum for 7 years. Simply, it was a difficult struggle for seven years; it seemed that Nebuchadnezzar should complain about God or talk about what a hard time God had given him. But instead, he was happy with God and thankful to God for doing all these things – how God intervened into his life because he had a good plan for him, and how God arranged everything, controlling everyone, every situation so that his purpose could be fulfilled; God’s amazing wisdom and mighty power were launched into his life – it was indeed miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God had performed for him. Our life comes with a lot of challenges and difficulties; maybe, we were sad; we were humiliated, despised and lonely; simply, it was difficult. But strangely, things did not go in the worst scenario possible, but amazingly, at the critical moments, things went in the way that eventually we would not be destroyed, but we would be driven to the place where we came to meet God personally. There, as we look back, we can see that God has been with us in all the days of our life, protecting us and caring us and guiding us. There was no mistake, no accident, but everything happened so that eventually, we would open our hearts and meet God personally. There, we are marveled at the miraculous signs and wonders God has performed for us. Once we see that, all sense of bitterness or misery disappears, and our hearts are filled with thanks and praise to him. We want to talk about it. We shout to the world, “To the peoples, nations and men of every language. It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me.” At that time, surely, we can understand what Ephesians 2:10 talks about, which reads, “For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” 

 

Look at verse 3. "How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an eternal kingdom; his dominion endures from generation to generation.” By experiencing God personally, his eyes were opened toward God; he realized that whatever God did was great and wondrous. What a great discovery it was that God, the Most High, made great signs for him; what a marvelous moment it was that he could see that the Most High revealed his mighty power for him. His testimony was full of thanks, happiness, praise to God, for he knew what great things God had done for him. When we think about our own life, we too can see what great things our God has done for each of us – indeed, God controlled the whole world and arranged everything perfectly so that we could recognize Him in our life and turn to Him – how he arranged things so that we could develop the deep sense of problem about our life, how he arranged things so that our shepherd could invite us to Bible study, how God arranged things so that we could accept that invitation, even though having Bible study with a strange was totally burdensome, and eventually, how he helped us open our hearts and respond to his word personally – all these things are indeed God’s great signs and wonders He has performed for us, controlling everything and everyone around us - God made great signs for us, and he revealed his mighty power to control the whole world for you and for me; as a result, today, we are here, studying his words, learning his laws and ways, and struggling to do what pleases him. Surely, this can be our testimony too. So, remembering the amazing work of God that changed hopelessly and wretched sinners like us to God's saints, let's read verse 3 together:

 

3How great are his signs, 

how mighty his wonders!

His kingdom is an eternal kingdom;

his dominion endures from generation to generation. 

 

  Second, “Until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men” (4-27). Look at verse 4. Nebuchadnezzar now starts how all things happened by sharing his personal testimony. It all began with a dream he had. One night, he had a dream, and it was terrifying. He trembled in fear; as soon as the morning came, he summoned all the wise men of Babylon, told them the dream he had had, but they didn't know what that dream was about; they could not interpret it. Finally, Daniel, the chief of all the wise men of Babylon, came in. Nebuchadnezzar was happy with him, because Daniel was no ordinary man; he knew that God's Spirit was with him and that he could interpret the dream for him. So, he told him the dream. He saw in his dream a huge tree in the middle of the land; its height was enormous; it grew large and strong and its top touched the sky; it was visible to the ends of the earth. Its leaves were beautiful, its fruit abundant, and on it was food for all. Under it the beasts of the field found shelter, and the birds of the air lived in its branches; from it every creature was fed. Then, while Nebuchadnezzar was watching this huge tree, a messenger, a holy one came down from heaven. He called in a loud voice: ‘Cut down the tree and trim off its branches; strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the animals flee from under it and the birds from its branches. But let the stump and its roots, bound with iron and bronze, remain in the ground, in the grass of the field. “‘Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him live with the animals among the plants of the earth. Let his mind be changed from that of a man and let him be given the mind of an animal, till seven times- pass by for him. “‘The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of men.’ How scary Nebuchadnezzar was, when the holy messenger declared the verdict to him. Now, he said to Daniel, “This is the dream that I, King Nebuchadnezzar, had. Now, Belteshazzar, tell me what it means, for none of the wise men in my kingdom can interpret it for me. But you can, because the spirit of the holy gods is in you.” 

 

Immediately, Daniel understood what the dream was about. At this, he was greatly perplexed for a time, and his thoughts terrified him. So the king said, “Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its meaning alarm you.” Belteshazzar answered, “My lord, if only the dream applied to your enemies and its meaning to your adversaries! The tree you saw, which grew large and strong, with its top touching the sky, visible to the whole earth, with beautiful leaves and abundant fruit, providing food for all, giving shelter to the beasts of the field, and having nesting places in its branches for the birds of the air— you, O king, are that tree! You have become great and strong; your greatness has grown until it reaches the sky, and your dominion extends to distant parts of the earth.” 

 

After telling Nebuchadnezzar about the tree, Daniel now told him about the messenger and his message. “You, O king, saw a messenger, a holy one, coming down from heaven and saying, ‘Cut down the tree and destroy it, but leave the stump, bound with iron and bronze, in the grass of the field, while its roots remain in the ground. Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven; let him live like the wild animals, until seven times pass by for him.’ “This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree the Most High has issued against my lord the king: You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle and be drenched with the dew of heaven. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes. The command to leave the stump of the tree with its roots means that your kingdom will be restored to you when you acknowledge that Heaven rules.” 

 

God decreed that Nebuchadnezzar must be stripped off of his power, wealth, even human sanity, and be driven away from people and live with the wild animals for 7 years, until he acknowledged that the Most High was sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gave them to anyone he wished. So, the purpose of this trial was very clear. It was to teach him that the Most High God had given him such a vast empire and set him over all others. Most likely, the king thought that he had built up the great Empire with his brilliance, courage and great military strategy, because he had worked hard, trying to figure out how to train his army and how to conquer other nations. It was him who had come up with great military strategy; it was him who had gone out to the battle fields and fought. When the king thought this way, God's trial came that stripped him off all his wealth, power and glory, and made him the lowliest of all, making him like a wild animal so that he could really recognize that he was nothing and that it was God who had established him and set him over all others out of his own choice.

 

Here, the key point is: “Until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes.” This passage is talking about God's sovereignty upon human history and upon each individual. When things go well academically that you get good grades or great degrees, it is very easy to think that such a great success is the result of your brilliance and your hard work. When they are successful materially that they get a good job, or their business goes very well and they become rich, people think that they have good luck or that they are smart. When we have successful disciple-making or successful pioneering work, or church planting, it is very easy to think that such a great success came because of our own merits – because of my own deep understanding of the Bible, or because of my excellent teaching skills, or because of my own powerful prayer life. When we do so, we become proud and self-conceited that we think of ourselves greatly; we raise our own voice and expect others to pay attention to our opinion, and when they don't, we get angry thinking that they are wrong. This is how people invite God's training, and God's training is thorough and scary – woe to those who fall into the hands of God. That's why we must humble ourselves all the more. The more we climb up the mountain, the lower we must keep our posture and even crawl so that we may not be blown away or fall off. Such humility comes from acknowledging God's sovereignty upon our life – where he placed us, what position he has given us, and how he has blessed us – not by my own strength and talent or struggle, but by God's own choice and blessing upon us. When we acknowledge God's Sovereignty upon our life, we can be thankful even in suffering because we know that God has a good purpose for us, and we can remain thankful and humble in the time of success and blessing as well – such people bear God's blessings well and God can bless them and use them continually.

 

Look at verse 27. “Therefore, O king, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue.” Daniel understood the characteristics of this trial – why it was coming, what purpose it had and how it would end. It was coming because of Nebuchadnezzar's pride and vain-conceit, thinking that he had built the Empire with his might and good military strategy. So, he advised the king to humble himself and live with a fearful and trembling heart before God – don't do whatever you feel like doing, but do all things with great sincerity and humility before God; don't do anything in anger or pride; don't be mean to others. If he did so, God's trial wouldn't come, and his prosperity would continue. In Israel's history, there was an evil king, named Ahab. Incited and strengthened by his wicked wife, he did so much evil before God that God pronounced his judgment on Ahab and his household through Elijah. When Ahab heard this, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth, and fasted. He lay in sackcloth and went around meekly, walking in fear, sensing the burden of God's wrath upon him. God was so touched and in amazement that even this kind of evil person could be so humble like this, God spoke to Elijah, his servant, “Have you noticed how Ahab has humbled himself before me?” Then, God changed his mind that he would not bring the disaster in his day, but in the days of his son.” (1Kings 21:20-27)

 

When we humble ourselves before God, He can bless us and use us continually. The more God blesses us, the more we lower ourselves before Him and before others; the more God pours out his blessings upon us, the more we consider others better than ourselves, humbly taking the positions of servants. God honors those people and exalts them highly as his servants to reveal the glory of God to the world. We must renounce any hint of pride or self-conceit; we must leave all wickedness. Then, God's blessing will be on us and our church continually.

 

Third, “I raised my eyes toward heaven” (28-37). All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. How did it happen? Look at verses 29 and 30. For the twelve months, God's message through his dream and Daniel's interpretation was so vivid that he was careful. But now as twelve months passed, the message became dim in his heart and he lowered his guard. Then, one day as he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, he saw the great city of Babylon – how vast, how great; he was so content that he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” The words were still on his lips when a voice came from heaven, “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes.” When he was alert, when he controlled himself, he would say, “The Most High God enabled me to build this empire.” But now, his guard was lowered, and he was just entertaining himself that way, inviting God's training on himself. 

 

A terrifying fact is that anyone can be like him, doing exactly the same thing, being content of his own success and achievement. That's why we need to make all possible efforts to keep ourselves humble before God that such an idea of pride and vain-conceit may not even exist in our heart and mind. We must acknowledge God's blessing and God's sovereignty upon our life wholeheartedly, not just pretending to accept it but really. As Moses was thinking about how the Israel people would enjoy success and prosperity in the land of Canaan, he was so concerned about them - if they would be vain-conceited and not acknowledge God. So, he clarified with them about it, saying, “When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery...” “You may say to yourself, 'My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth.” (Deu 8:10-18) When we think about our life carefully, we can see that all things came from God – our own life came from God; air we breathe came from God; water we drink came from God; our parents came from God; God's word that gave us a new birth and sustains our life came from God; the church came from God; our shepherds and shepherdesses came from God; money came from God; spiritual fruits came from God – all success and blessing have come from God. The Bible declares, “Every good gift comes from God.” 

 

At the same time, we must remember and acknowledge that nothing good resides in us. See what fruit you had borne in the world when you lived by yourself – sins, shame, isolation, sorrows, bitterness, anger, hatred, jealousy, destruction and pains on yourself and others around you; at that time, your life was meaningless, empty, and directionless, and you were dying - you were bearing the fruits of death - not good at all. So, don't think that you have produced these good fruits in God. God planned them, worked, fulfilled them and gave them to you. They are from God. With this in mind, let's humble ourselves all the more, considering others better than us, lowering ourselves as servants to all people around us.

 

Look at verse 33. “Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like cattle. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.” Suddenly, one chemical in his brain worked strangely and his brain malfunctioned that he came to have the mind of an animal. Suddenly, he began to think of himself as a cow, and started having such great appetite for grass. He ran out of the palace, found some grass, and attacked it – he chewed it, and swallowed it – wow! It was great – so tasty that he became crazy for grass. When he looked herds of cattle, he was overjoyed – he felt like home with all his family members; he joined them, moving around together with them looking for grass. He slept out on the grass with them, behaving like a cow. Then, for the next seven years, he lived as a member of herds of cattle. During this whole time, he slept out with other cattle on the grass; what about haircut? He didn't care about it that in seven years, his hair grew so long into all direction, and since he had not done shampoo, it smelled so bad and oily that it became like the feathers of an eagle – so thick. He had not cut his nails for seven years that they grew so long that he became like the X-man, or Sabertooth

 

Once God started his training for Nebuchadnezzar, his training was thorough; it was not something people could try, but it was really horrifying – everything, including his royal throne, his wealth and even a human mind were taken away from him, and in one day, he was an insane homeless person on the street, behaving so strangely – no more dignity, but he was completely poor and miserable. The Bible declares, “Woe to those who fall into the hands of God.” People think of God's training casually, saying, “Yup, I want to be trained by God, not by humans.” They are really ignorant and blind. Human servants at least show sympathy in training them. But when they reject correction and training from human servants, God deals with them directly, and God's training is thorough. He does not show any sympathy in training them. Surely, it is not a good idea to be trained by God. God's training is like refining a lump of iron in the furnace, removing all impurity from it with the fire. It is scary. We must not harden our hearts in pride; we must not be stubborn, but be quick to repent and humble ourselves before God and before men. 

 

Look at verse 34. Let's read this verse together:

 

34At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever.

His dominion is an eternal dominion;

his kingdom endures from generation to generation. 

 

“At the end of that time,” after living with the wild animals for seven years; after eating grass for seven years; after living such a miserable life for seven years. During this long period of time, many things happened in the palace and in his empire, but there was nothing he could do, except eating grass more. Yet, the empire was going on well without him – it didn't need his help or his power, because fundamentally, it was God who was operating the Empire for his purpose. 

 

He says, “I raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then, I praised the Most High.” Here, we see that raising his eyes toward heaven was the beginning of restoration, the beginning of all good things. Before, when he looked down on the grass, when he looked at other cows and competed with them for the grass, he was insane. But when he raised his eyes toward heaven, his sanity was restored. Then, he praised God, honored and glorified Him. That’s what sane people do. What about insane people? They look down at the grass, competing with other cows. They don’t know who they are; they think they are animals. 

 

Even Charles Darwin described people that way – survival of the fittest. As long as they look down at grass and struggle with other people to secure more grass, they are really insane. They don’t know who they are. Their perspective about themselves, about others, and about life is terrible. Their lifestyle is terrible. They have no dignity at all. But when they raise their eyes to heaven, their sanity is restored. Then, they begin to see things differently. Instead of competing and arguing, they begin to thank and praise God. They live as sane people. 

 

Here, we see the symbolic meaning of the expression, “I raised my eyes to heaven.” He recognized that God was real and that God was guiding his life. It means that he acknowledged God as the sovereign ruler over his life. When he found this, he was very happy and thankful, so he praised God. People need to raise their eyes to heaven. Don’t look down at the grass all the time. Life is more than survivalDon’t live as insane people like animals, but as sane people created in God’s imageRaise your eyes toward heaven and acknowledge that God is the sovereign Lord in your life. When you do so, you will be so thankful and happy to Him and praise God. 

 

One more interesting thing is that he praised and thanked God, when outwardly nothing had changed. He was still among the cows; his hair was like the feathers of an eagle, and his nails like the claws of a bird; he was still a homeless person, so smelly and ugly looking. Yet, he praised God and glorified Him. This shows that what is important is not improving our condition, but meeting God personally and acknowledging His sovereignty upon our life – that makes you happy and thankful.

 

Look at verse 35. Let's read this verse together: 

 

All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done?”

 

Now in view of God's absolute sovereignty over all things in the world, Nebuchadnezzar realized this: All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. There are many great people, or powerful people politically; there are many talented people; there are many rich people. But they are considered as nothing, and God does everything according to his plan and purpose. It seems that these powerful, rich, and talented people are operating and leading the world. It seems that our professors or our bosses have authority over our life; it seems that they can give us promotion or good grades. But that's not the case at all. It is God who does everything according to his plan and purpose, whether against these people's ideas and desires or in accordance with their desires. Some people focus on visible humans and they are afraid if their lives will be ruined by the mistakes of these visible humans. But they must understand that all the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. God's will upon your life, God's sovereignty upon us, cannot be altered by the filthy mistakes of weak humans. No matter what they do – good works or mistakes, all the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing – despite all their works – successes or mistakes, whether they like it or not, still God does whatever He wantsand fulfills his purpose. God is sovereign over your life, but you need to accept it and entrust your life in God's hands.  

 

As a conclusion about God's sovereignty upon all things in the world, upon all the peoples on earth, Nebuchadnezzar says, “He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done?”” This is the ultimate expression of God's absolute sovereignty upon our life. God established Nebuchadnezzar as the king over such a vast Empire, and no one could say anything against Him, even if their own countries were destroyed, and their own family members were slaughtered – that's God's sovereignty. 

 

God is sovereign over our life. How he will lead our life, whether to be a nameless servant lifelong, or to be a pioneering shepherd; whether we live as the gatekeepers of our church in Gardena or we are sent out to pioneer a new chapter; whether we are to serve God's work in California or sent out to Africa, or Russia or China or in other countries as missionaries, or even who will be our marriage partner – all these are not our jobs, but God’s jobs. God decides, and our portion is to accept his will and obey it, saying, “Yes, Sir!” We just accept his will upon us and obey Him – we don’t talk backwe don’t say, “What have you done?” We never question of his choice. We simply raise our eyes toward heaven and acknowledge his sovereignty over our life, and live as children of God doing what He wants us to do. How happy we are that God is guiding our life! How thankful we are that God is working in our life to fulfill his purpose upon us! God does not make a mistake; he does not say, “Oops!” So, we can live with confidence and with thanks all the days of our life. And after fulfilling His purpose upon us, He will take us to His kingdom in heaven and we will enjoy life with Him forever. 

 

Look at verse 36. At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before. Surely, they had been looking for him since he suddenly disappeared from the palace. But strangely, they could not find him. Maybe, he was nearby the palace; or maybe, they passed by him, without recognizing him, because he was living among cows eating grass. But when he raised his eyes toward heaven, when he acknowledged God in his life, suddenly, they found him. How? Think about suddenly, a man standing up among the cows, and raising his hands toward heaven, praising and thanking God. Maybe, this caught the attention of his advisers and nobles. Raise your eyes toward heaven and praise God, and many good things will happen to you. Nebuchadnezzar was restored to his throne and became even greater than before. God was in complete control. Verse 37 is the conclusion of his testimony. Let's read this verse together:

 

Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.

He was a happy man who had found God in his life; he was really blessed. Now it is God who is revealing Himself to us through today's passage – it is God's proclamation that He is the Sovereign Lord over our life – over your life and my life, over our church. When we look down on the grass, struggling and competing with others to secure a little more grass, we may not recognize Him in our life. But when we raise our eyes toward heaven, we can see that it is God who has guided our life to this moment. Indeed, it is never our plan or desire to become God’s servants; indeed, we did not even imagine that we would be in the real relationship with God; we thought that that kind of miraculous relationship with God was only possible for great people like Billy Graham. But God chose us, and He has established us as his servants. We have come to such a high place where we have never imagined. He has raised us up this much. What has happened to us has not been done by our choice, but God’s choice. He is the Sovereign Lord. And we are happy and thankful; we praise Him and we honor and glorify Him in all circumstances. God is guiding our life, and surely, when God's will upon our life is fulfilled, the whole world will be blessed through us and they will see the glory of God in our life. We praise and exalt and glorify our God in heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. 

 

One Word: Until You Acknowledge Him In Your Life

Sunday, June 16, 2019

posted Jun 16, 2019, 2:54 PM by Site Administrator   [ updated Jun 16, 2019, 3:38 PM ]

EVEN IF HE DOES NOT,...

 

Daniel 3:1-30

Key Verse 3:18

 

But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” 

 

First, “Even if he does not,...” (1-18). Look at verses 1 and 2. King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, ninety feet high and nine feet wide, and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. He then summoned the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials to come to the dedication of the image he had set up. There, without any prior announcement, they were ordered to bow down to the image of gold the king set up at the sound of the musical instruments with a warning that whoever did not fall down and worship would immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace. Among those officials were the three friends of Daniel – Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Since they were high governmental officials, they had to attend this dedication ceremony, and there, they were demanded to bow down to the image the king had set up. Such an idol worship was forbidden for them. But if they didn't do, then, they would be thrown into a furnace immediately; their already secured high government officer's job would be gone, and so would their promising future. Moreover, most likely, their family memberswould be sold as slaves, if not killed right away. They didn't want to worship the idol, but it would be too costly; literally, they would lose everything. They were put in a rock and a hard place. How did they deal with this dilemma? 

 

At the sound of musical instruments, all the peoples, nations and men of every language fell down and worshiped the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. There were Buddhists, but they worshiped the idol; there were Hindus, but they too bowed down to it. But Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego didn't bow down; while everyone was bowing down, they stood firm; they were the only ones who were standing there, and thereby, they stood out. To them, worshiping God was the matter of life and death; and in order to keep their purity before God, they were willing to defy the king's order and sacrifice their life. Their idea was clear: Instead of compromising, instead of throwing up their love for God so that they might enjoy their successful life or enjoy their family life a little longer, they chose to keep their pure love for God and die. Keeping their integrity before God, their purity before God was more important than all other things – their high government jobs, their promising future, even their family life. They truly loved God more than anything else. It was indeed a trial in the fire. 

 

When this was reported to the king, he was furious. No one had ever defied his order. But then, these three Jews defied his order publicly – it was unthinkable; his pride was hurt. So, he summoned them immediately. He said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?” He didn't kill them immediately. Instead, he gave them one more chance with a promise that if they bowed down to the image, he would forgive them; otherwise, he would throw them into the furnace. 

 

In the book, “Pilgrim's Progress,” written by John Bunyan, at the border of the city of Destruction, Apollyon met Christian. He was hideous, and he would not let Christian leave his country. But instead of attacking him and killing him right away, he gave Christian another chance to consider his decision and go back to the city with a promise that he would give him all he wanted – wealth, health, and pleasures. He threatened, otherwise, to kill him. This is the tactic Satan uses so enthusiastically – a promise of success if they serve him, but destruction if they keep their decision to live for God. The world challenges us and threatens us with the matter of security and success in the society. We want to serve God only and keep our purity before him. But the world, or simply, our boss asks us to work with him on Sunday, and sure thing – there is a hidden threat that, otherwise, we will be fired – in that way, Satan challenges us to kneel and bow down to the idol of security, compromising our purity before God or perish. We are just happy to study the Bible, love God, and serve his purpose; then, suddenly, our professors threaten us to work harder and complete the project quickly, saying, otherwise, our position will be given to someone else. In that way, Satan challenges us to kneel and bow down to the idol of success in the society, giving up our dedication to God. But our security is not in the hands of our boss or our professors; our success or survival is not in the hands of Satan; instead, as the Bible proclaims, in God's hands are security, success and prosperity. The Bible declares, “Long life is in his right hand; in his left hand are riches and honor.” (Prov 3:16) Our boss or professors have no power to give us security or take it away from us; when they are of no use for his purpose any longer, simply God removes them from their positions and gives them to others according to his purpose. 

 

The challenge was terrifying and the offer was tempting. But what was the response of the three friends of Daniel? Look at verses 16 through 18. Let's read these verses together:

 

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

 

They were bold and cool. They said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter.” They were like Jesus who did not try to defend himself, when people falsely accused him; it was because, like Jesus, they were already determined in their hearts to keep their purity before God no matter what – if they had to die and lose everything, then, let it be so; if God was going to save them from the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, let it be so for the glory of God. When their hearts were determined, they didn't need to try to defend themselves; as a result, they were bold, powerful and cool like real heroes. God is looking for this kind of people who love him with a single-hearted devotion. the Bible declares that double-minded people should not expect to receive anything good from God, because they are like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind, unstable in all they do. (James 1:7,8) Who are double-minded people? Christians without their heart’s firm determination to love God alone! The king challenged, saying, “What god will be able to rescue you from my hand?” King's power seemed real and practical. But they accepted that challenge, saying, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king.” The God they knew and believed was real, not conceptual; they knew and believed that their God was with them and could save them from the king. Their faith in God was tangible and practical. They must have experienced God in their practical life many times. 

 

But their response did not end there. They added, “But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” They had already surrendered their life to God completely that they just honored God's choice, God's will upon their life completely. If God's will for them was to survive this trial by his miracle, they were happy; but if God's will for them was to die in the furnace, they were willing to go that way too. They entrusted their life in God's hands. No matter what, despite any outcome, one thing was for sure – they would not compromise; they would not bow down to such a worthless idol; they were determined to love God and worship Him only; they were determined to die as God-worshipers rather than living a little longer by defiling themselves with idol worship. We can characterize their faith as the faith of “But even if he does not,...” the faith of “Nevertheless.” They would not bow down to any idol no matter what outcome there might be; they would serve God only. When they had such a heart's determination to worship God only, they were strong and powerful. Maybe, saying such words would hurt the king more, making him moreangry; maybe, because of such bold response, more harsh punishment might come. But they didn't care; they boldly proclaimed their one single-hearted love and dedication to God before the king.

 

In their life of faith, many people's spiritual condition is dependent on the situation or outcome. They are happy with God when things go well. But when things go tough, when they lose a lot, they doubt God and his love; then, in frustration, many just plunge themselves to sin. They are like a cry baby – we don't know when they will cry and thereby, we have to be ready with milk all the time. As long as they are conditional, they are weak and unreliable. They must come up with their heart’s determination that they would obey God no matter what outcome there may be. As Christians, do you want to be strong and powerful like these three friends of Daniel? Then, have your heart’s firm determination to keep your purity before God! When our hearts are determined to love God and worship him in any circumstances, then, we don't try to defend ourselves; we are not afraid of any outcome – when pains come, we swallow them; when we have to lose things, we swallow the sorrow. We rejoice not because of good things God gives us, but because of him. Such people's Christian life is stable, and they are reliable. 

 

What Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego faced was not something very particular for them alone, but very common for all Christians – simply, it is about kneeling down to an idol for survival, or for security or for success, and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were determined that they would not bow down to such an idol, even if it meant for them to lose all security, success and even their life; they were determined not to kneel down to the idol, but to God alone. “Even if He does not,...” This expression reminds us of the prophet Habakkuk's confession of faith in God. He shouts, “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,he enables me to go on the heights.” (Hk 3:17-19) Let’s not bow down to money. Instead, let’s live as children of God, keeping our integrity no matter what.

 

Second, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego” (19-30). Now the three friends of Daniel openly defied the king's order in front of everyone; Nebuchadnezzar felt really crushed; he was really furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. The king’s command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace. Maybe, Nebuchadnezzar was still breathing out heavily in anger. But it was not the end of the story. Something amazing happened that King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?” They replied, “Certainly, O king.” He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” SoShadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them. 

 

We are not sure whether the fourth that looked like a son of the gods in the eyes of Nebuchadnezzar was God himself in a human form, or God's holy angel. Anyway, this person had a similar form of a human – with four limbs, with a head and a trunk, but he was not exactly like a human being because of his glory – maybe, his body was shining, or his eyes were like blazing fire like Jesus in glory in the book of Revelation. Usually, God did not reveal himself this way; in history, God helped many people in secret ways so that people might not see his glory or might not notice him. There might be many ways to save them; God could have let the showers of rain fall on that furnace and put out the fire so that his servants might not be burned. Or God could have stirred up the mind of the king and have him show favor on his servants. But instead, he intervened into the situation in a most dramatic and powerful way, revealing his power to the public so that all people might see what he was doing for his faithful servants. In the furnace, God untied them first. While the fire was burning inside the furnace, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and the one that looked like a son of God walked around, maybe, talking to each other, saying, “How come, these days, the furnace is not so hot any more?” Or they talked about the glorious life in heaven. It was really a glorious miracle. Through this, God testified publicly about who these three men were – no ordinary humans, but God's precious and loyal servants. In this way, God exalted them highly. As they honored God with their life, God wanted them to receive honor and respect from all the people there including the king Nebuchadnezzar.  

 

When we live before God, keeping our integrity before him, even at the cost of sacrificing so much, even all we have – our future, our marriage dream, our self-esteem,... God accepts our heart's dedication as pleasing aroma, something beautiful to him; God honors those who honor him by revealing his glory powerfully in and through them, and for them. As a result, those who seek God wholeheartedly above all other things come to experience glorious things; such people's Christian life is full of adventures, very exciting and glorious. God becomes their God, and people come to recognize them as God's servants.

 

Look at verse 28. Let's read this verse together:

 

28Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. 

He praised the God of Shadrach, Meshech and Abednego for sending his angel and rescuing them. He also recognized why these three had defied his order even at the risk of their own life – they were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God – they were loyal and faithful servants to their God. So, Nebuchadnezzar didn't make an issue of it any longer. Instead, he promoted them in the province of Babylon because they were trustworthy. It is not easy to be recognized as God's servants by unbelieving people, especially proud and hostile people like the king Nebuchadnezzar. But through their absolute dedication to God, through their absolute decision not to bow down to worthless idols, even willing to risk their life for God, they testified to the unbelieving, hostile and threatening king about their God. 

 

He came to honor God also, issuing a decree that if anyone said anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that person would be cut into pieces, and his house be turned into piles of rubble. Because of their struggle, this unbelieving king came to see the glory of God, and recognize Him as the only true God. This is how the name of God comes to be known to the unbelieving people. Because we stand firm in God – in the matter of keeping the Sunday worship service absolutely, or attending the Friday meeting absolutely, we go through some troubles with our family members and conflicts rise in the family. But through such struggles and conflicts, by seeing how absolutely we hold onto things of God, they come to recognize God and learn to honor and respect God. One brother kept the Sunday worship service absolutely, even refusing to go to his brother's wedding ceremony; it was a big issue; all his family members called him and tried to persuade him, but he refused to go. Then, later, all his family members came to recognize him as God's servant; his mother calls him a real Christian, and if there is Bible study appointment, she says, “I am sorry. Go and teach the Bible. I will call you later.” God's name is being testified to the people in the world through our absolute attitude toward him.

 

Today, in our life of faith, we face the same kind of challenges as Shadrach, Meshech and Abednego had – the world demands us to bow down to the idol of security, survival, and success, threatening us that, otherwise, we will lose all the privileges and opportunities in the world. Surely, the world is not a resting place for Christians, but a battle ground, and such challenges often are scary and not easy. But when we stand firm in God with our heart's complete determination, saying, “Our God is able to save us from all these challenges; but even if he does not, I will not bow down to such worthless idols,” God accepts our heart's love for him and reveals his glory to the world through us. May God grant us victory over the challenges of this world. May God establish many single-hearted men and women of God for God's glory on our campuses.

 

One Word:More Than Conquerors Through Him Who Gives Us Strength!

1-10 of 47