Friday, January 30, 2015

The Future Kingdom of Greece: The LORD'S Majesty (Part II)

"His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude." (Daniel 10:6)

The Lord's body resembled a pure gemstone of great value, and his face overpowered the beholder with its holiness. The physical manifestation of this holiness was veiled when Christ was born into the world, but here it is clearly seen. Peter, James and John caught a small glimpse of it on the Mount of Transfiguration when "his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light (Matthew 17:2)." As someone once put it, Christ's ability to mask His glory was more of a miracle than His ability to show it.

The eyes of fire bring to mind God's ability to see through all things. No secret is hid from the piercing fire of His all-seeing eyes. His arms and His feet resembled burnished brass. Judgment and strength are likely pictured by the brass. Because the Lord Christ knows all things, sees all things and holds all things together (Colossians 1:17), He is perfectly equipped to judge all things by His powerful and unfailing word.

Daniel is careful to note the overwhelming effect of the Lord's voice. It resembled the overpowering sound of an innumerable company of people. As the noise of a vast company of soldiers marching to war, the Lord's voice struck terror and awe into the heart of the one hearing it. The last few verses of John's revelation compliment Daniel's description of the preincarnate Lord.

His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; and his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. (Revelation 1:14-15)

The Lord Jesus Christ is often depicted as an effeminate individual who is willing to compromise the Lord's holiness for the sake of people who are not willing to bow the knee. Daniel's vision paints the Lord in an entirely different light. Everything about Him exudes holiness and the subsequent terror of such overwhelming purity. Christ's beauty is not to be found in the long-haired image on the front of a blasphemous shirt. He would not go to the bar and have a drink for any purpose, evangelistic or otherwise. He would not condone a Christian rock concert. His holiness is not represented by an ill-dressed rebel who cares nothing for the authority and application of Scripture. The Scriptures have done a beautiful job in describing the character and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is time for God's people to return to the authority of these Scriptures, and let all who are unwilling to do so go their way.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Future Kingdom of Greece: The LORD'S Majesty

"And in the four and twentieth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, which is Hiddekel; Then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz:" (Daniel 10:4-5)

Daniel's mourning and fasting began on the third day of the first month (Nisan). This means that Daniel fasted and mourned through the Passover and the subsequent Feast of Unleavened Bread. Daniel's mourning was born out of a heart to see God's righteous will accomplished; therefore, his fasting through the Passover was likely far more pleasing to God than its formal observance apart from a heart of concern. God wants the heart before the actions can be pleasing to Him.

In the Jewish month of Nisan when the Messiah is so clearly pictured in the Passover lamb, Daniel sees what is very likely a preincarnate appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ along the Tigris River (Hiddekel). The similarities between these passages and those found in Revelation 1:13-15 would seem to support the conclusion that this is the Lord.

The Lord was clothed with the garments of a priest (Leviticus 16:23, Ezekiel 44:17). Such attire reminds the reader that He is "the High Priest of our profession (Hebrews 3:1)." To Daniel, the Messiah's intercessory work on the cross of Calvary had yet to be accomplished, but to the New Testament believer, this work has been completely fulfilled, and He now sits at the right hand of God making intercession for His saints (Romans 8:34). John described the Lord in a similar fashion in Revelation 1:12-13 when he said,

And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.

In Daniel's vision, the Lord wore a golden girdle around his waist, but in John's vision, He wore it around His chest. Gold resembles purity and value. It speaks of Christ's holiness and deity, two traits which are clearly evident throughout this amazing vision.

As the believer considers the Lord's apparel, he should be reminded of his obligation to reflect a lifestyle which is pure and holy, set apart from the motives, entertainments and values of this world.

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Future Kingdom of Greece: Daniel's Mourning

"In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a thing was revealed unto Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar; and the thing was true, but the time appointed was long: and he understood the thing, and had understanding of the vision. In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled." (Daniel 10:1-3)

This final revelation occupies the rest of the book. Cyrus came to power somewhere near 559 BC; however, Daniel is viewing Cyrus' liberation of Babylon as his first year (539 BC). In light of this, the third year of Cyrus would place this prophecy near 537 BC.

Daniel qualifies the authenticity of his penmanship by using both his Hebrew and Chaldean titles. The minute accuracy of the following prophecies have spurred many liberals and apostates to severely attack the authenticity of the book of Daniel. But the text is clear; Daniel, the Belteshazzar of Nebuchadnezzar's courts, is the one who penned these prophecies hundreds of years before they ever took place.

Daniel's heart was heavy. He was burdened to better understand what God had previously revealed. He was greatly concerned over the dangers that Israel would face. Some have speculated that he was also greatly burdened over the apathy of the Jews who chose to remain in Babylon rather than to return to their homeland under the decree of Cyrus. Be all that as it may, Daniel was so troubled in his spirit that he chose to abstain from enjoyable food. The text does not say that he ate or drank nothing at all for three weeks but that he abstained from pleasant bread, flesh and wine. He probably resorted to very plain food which had no desirability and drank only water.

Fasting does not make a person spiritual; the act of it is birthed by a spirit that is so burdened over some spiritual battle that food loses its desirability. A man can fast in the flesh just as easily as he can read his Bible or pray in the flesh. Many false religions are adamant about fasting. Muslims practice it. Judaism practices it. The simple act of fasting is not efficacious. Daniel's heart was greatly troubled, and this severe load removed the desire for food. How could he enjoy the pleasant taste of delightful food and drink when so much turmoil was in store for his people, not to mention the added burden of the apparent spiritual apathy of many Babylonian Jews?

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Daniel's Answer from Gabriel: The Seventy Weeks Expounded (Part III)

"And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate." (Daniel 9:27)

The personal pronoun he is not referring back to Christ. As indicated by the context and various other Scriptures, it is referring back to the prince that shall come. This is the future antichrist. Sixty-nine of Israel's weeks have been accounted for, but the seventieth week has yet to be fulfilled. Between the sixty-ninth and seventieth weeks, God has inserted the Church Age, a period unknown to any of the Old Testament prophets; however, when God's work in this dispensation is over, and He has removed His true Church from this earth, He will resume His dealings with Israel in a period known as the Great Tribulation (the seventieth week).

The text says that this future prince will confirm his covenant with numerous people for one week or seven years. Although no one is able to speak of these things in great detail, the general tenor of Scripture does seem to indicate that Israel will make some form of covenant with the antichrist. This covenant will probably be out of a desire for peace and safety from the surrounding nations; however, the Holy Spirit says in I Thessalonians 5:3, "For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape." After three and one half years (the midst of the week), the antichrist will break his covenant of peace with the Jews and will severely persecute them. As the text says, he will remove the daily sacrifice and offering. The Lord Jesus Christ prophesied of this when He said, "When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains (Matthew 24:15-16)." Not only will the antichrist bring the Jews' offering to an end he will also desecrate the temple by exalting himself as God while sitting in the temple of God (II Thessalonians 2:3-4).

The text says that these events have a consummation. The seventieth week will be the greatest time of tribulation ever witnessed, but it will last only seven years. Wickedness and the persecution of God's people have a determined consummation. The word translated desolate is a Hebrew participle which may easily be translated the one who makes desolate or the desolator. This desolator is the antichrist, and God has a determined judgment for him.

In giving this revelation, God has made it clear that His merciful dealings with Israel are not limited to the seventy years prophesied in Jeremiah. If they were, Israel would have ceased to be a nation. Instead, the Lord made it clear to Daniel that God's grace would carry the nation well past Jeremiah's seventy year prophecy. His four hundred and ninety year period would carry them up to the cross of Jesus Christ, and it would keep them safe until the dawning of the millennial kingdom. In other words, God's mercy would never fail His people.

One must be careful to avoid allegory and numerology; however, here is one application of this passage which may be made to the Christian life. When Peter asked Jesus how many times a man should forgive a brother who sins against him, he said, "Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times (Matthew 18:21)?" Christ replied, "I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven (Matthew 18:22)." Jesus was not saying that a man should cease to forgive his brother after the four hundred and ninetieth time. He was commanding a Christian to have unending mercy. Just as God's four hundred and ninety year period is sufficient to carry the wayward nation of Israel into the safety of the Messiah's kingdom, the believer's mercy should be sufficient to meet the needs of people regardless of offenses. It should be sufficient to give them that which is required for their spiritual welfare. God does not fail to give people the time and the care that is needed for restoration and neither should the Christian.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Daniel's Answer from Gabriel: The Seventy Weeks Expounded (Part II)

"And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined." (Daniel 9:26)

The sixty-two weeks (four hundred and thirty-four years) commences sometime near the beginning of the four hundred silent years and ends with Christ's sacrificial death. The text says that the Messiah would be cut off. This wording is significant for at least two reasons. First of all, it pictures the violent death which Christ suffered. The Hebrew verb used for cut off does not leave room for a natural death or a nonviolent death. The violent nature of the verb fully supports that which Christ actually suffered at the hands of sinners. Second of all, the Hebrew verb translated cut off is the same verb often translated make when speaking of making a covenant. When the Scripture says "In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram (Genesis 15:18)," it is literally saying "the LORD cut a covenant." The same verb is used in Jeremiah 31:31 when God said to Israel, "Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make (cut) a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah." The Messiah is the foundation of these promises to Abraham and Israel. The cutting of these covenants would not be possible were it not for the cutting off of the Messiah. When God saw fit to cut off His Son, He firmly established His good intentions to Israel and consequently to the world.

The text says that this cutting off would be not for himself. A literal interpretation would read, "and there shall be nothing to Him." Christ left no worldly riches behind Him. He left no posterity. "He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken (Isaiah 53:8)." His life and death were not for Himself but for others. He came "to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10)." A Christian's life and service should be characterized by this same dedication and sacrifice toward God and man.

A partial fulfillment of the latter part of this passage may be seen in Rome's eventual destruction of Jerusalem and its temple (70 AD); however, the ultimate fulfillment of these things is undoubtedly seen in the antichrist's future destruction of Jerusalem and his defilement and destruction of the temple.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Daniel's Answer from Gabriel: The Seventy Weeks Expounded

"Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times." 
(Daniel 9:25)

Having presented the seventy weeks, Gabriel now moves on to their exposition. Surely, were it not for these next three verses, such a time period would leave the present day believer in the dark concerning the plight of Israel.

Two separate divisions of time are presented. The first division is seven weeks, and the second division is sixty-two weeks. When combined, they equal sixty-nine weeks or four hundred and eighty-three years. The first seven weeks begins with a commandment to restore Jerusalem. This is not referring to the work accomplished in the book of Ezra. The building projects recorded there deal with the reconstruction of the temple in Jerusalem; therefore, the reference undoubtedly points the reader to the building projects supervised by Nehemiah. The Persian king Artaxerxes permitted the rebuilding of Jerusalem during a time of great political unrest, thus the Scripture says that these reconstructions took place during troublous times. Nehemiah made his trip from Shushan to Israel sometime near 444 BC. Malachi, the last prophet to prophesy before the close of the Old Testament canon, gave his prophecies somewhere near 393-400 BC; therefore, the first division of seven weeks seems to be counting from the days of Nehemiah to the commencement of the four hundred "silent" years.

The second division of sixty-two weeks represents four hundred and thirty-four years. Using the Jewish 360 day calendar, the combination of the seven and sixty-two weeks takes the reader from the days of Nehemiah to the sacrifice of Messiah the Prince on the cross of Calvary.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Daniel's Answer from Gabriel: The Seventy Weeks Presented (Part III)

"Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy." (Daniel 9:24)

The revelation which Gabriel is about to give Daniel is primarily Jewish in its importance. These prophecies do not deal directly with the Church, and to insert the Church into one's exegesis of this passage will lead to expository error and confusion. This is a prophecy concerning God's past, present, and future dealings with Israel. Personal applications may be made from the principles found in these passages, but one must be careful not to overlook the context of the Jewish nation.

The phrase seventy weeks is a term which means a period of sevens. In context, this period is counted in years. As Daniel considered Jeremiah's prophecy of seventy desolate years, Gabriel informed Daniel that a period of seven times seventy was determined for Israel before it could fully experience the joys of the Messianic Kingdom. In simple terms, four hundred and ninety years have been marked out in which God will deal with His people in a special way. The context of the seventy years of desolation as well as the witness of historical events concerning the Lord Jesus Christ makes it clear that this period of sevens is counted in years and not days.

Gabriel declared that six major events will take place during this time period. The first three have to do with man's sin. The word transgression carries with it the idea of a breach of promise between two parties. The word sin means to miss the mark, and the word iniquity conveys the idea of twisting or warping the truth. Thus, in these three words, God has pictured every aspect of man's sin. The transgressions of Israel and of the world are not yet finished. Ever since their rejection of Christ, the Jews have been steadily filling up their transgressions until that glorious day when the nation will be converted to faith in the Messiah. To make an end of sins and to make reconciliation for iniquity undoubtedly encompasses Christ's work of redemption on Calvary. When Jesus completed His sacrificial work on the cross, He cried out, "It is finished (John 19:30)." In Him, sin finds an end and iniquity is covered over and forever removed from the believer's account. Although Christ's work of redemption is complete, as a whole, Israel has not been a partaker of its blessings. The transgressions are not yet full. Unknown to Daniel and the other Old Testament prophets, God has made a place for the Church Age. He is using this period to bring in countless Gentiles and provoke Israel to jealousy through the conversion of the heathen. However, the day is fast approaching when Jesus Christ will return in the clouds of heaven and bring in everlasting righteousness. When the Messianic kingdom is established and Christ sits upon the throne, the vision and the prophecy will be sealed up. Not one word of God's Scriptures will fall to the ground. Mockers are prevalent. Christ's enemies may be found in every nation blaspheming His supremacy as they utter these words, "Where is the promise of his coming (II Peter 3:4)?" God will have His day. The prophecy with all of its visions will be sealed up. Christ will return as both Priest and King. The phrase most Holy is literally the Holy of Holies. In Ezekiel 45:3 this exact same Hebrew phrase appears in reference to the Holy of Holies contained within the temple of the millennial kingdom. The most holy sanctuary of the millennial temple will receive a fresh anointing at the return of Christ. The Lord's future office of Priest and King and His reign from the future temple is described in Zechariah 6:12-13:

...Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD: Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.

Gabriel has presented the seventy weeks. They represent a period of four hundred and ninety years, a period sufficient to carry the Jewish nation into the joys of the millennial kingdom.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Daniel's Answer from Gabriel: The Seventy Weeks Presented (Part II)

"And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding. At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision." (Daniel 9:22-23)

The Lord took great interest in answering Daniel's prayers, and that same interest is alive and well today. God's timing and methods may make it seem as though He has forgotten, but the believer may rest assured that God does not forget.

The word translated greatly beloved means desirable or precious. God loves the world, yet there are those who have chosen to adorn the robes of humility and find a special place in God's heart. A godly parent loves all of his children, but the child who is rebellious and self-centered will not have the same place in that parent's heart as the child who is tender and obedient. At this point the question may be asked, "Why was Daniel so loved by God?" The answer may be found in the attitude Daniel displayed up to this point. He was first and foremost a God-fearing man. He respected men but he feared only God. He was very humble. He was righteous in his dealings. He loved God above all else, and he always put others first. In short, Daniel fulfilled the heart of God's law by loving God with all of his heart and loving his neighbor as himself (Matthew 22:37-39). Any believer who is willing to walk by faith as Daniel did may find this special place in God's heart (Isaiah 57:15).

Gabriel commanded Daniel to understand the matter and consider the vision. God was about to reveal certain facts concerning the future of Israel, and He wanted Daniel to use his cognitive abilities and make sense of the matter. God does not want His people to live in ignorance. The Scriptures make many things clear, and the Lord wants His people to understand those things and live by them. The Bible does contain many difficult passages, yet it is not simply a compilation of mystical writings reserved for the spiritually elite. People are often destroyed through a lack of Bible knowledge; therefore, every believer should cast himself upon the enlightening power of the Holy Ghost and seek to understand and consider what the Scriptures say.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Daniel's Answer from Gabriel: The Seventy Weeks Presented

"And whiles I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the LORD my God for the holy mountain of my God; Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation." (Daniel 9:20-21)

God hears the prayers of His people. Even more than Daniel, God is concerned with the restoration of Israel; therefore, Daniel's prayer received a speedy answer. Gabriel, the same angel which interpreted the visions of chapter eight, was once again sent to aid Daniel in understanding Israel's future. 

The word oblation means offering or sacrifice. Gabriel reached Daniel about the time when the evening offering should have been offered in Jerusalem had the temple still been in existence. This offering points the reader to the Lamb of Sacrifice which is Jesus Christ. The revelation which Daniel is about to receive presents the work of Christ on the cross of Calvary; therefore, the presentation of these things during the time of the evening sacrifice is no mere coincidence.   

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Prophecies Specific to Israel's Future: An Appeal for Mercy (Part II)

"O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name." (Daniel 9:18-19)

The reality of God's mercy should bring great comfort. Were it not for His mercy making a way for man's reconciliation every soul would be damned before His holy character. His mercy sought out Adam and Eve after their sin. His mercy sent out prophet after prophet in order to turn back the sinful heart of Israel. His mercy has preserved the Jewish nation from complete annihilation, and the zenith of His mercy is seen in "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world (John 1:29)." Life is full of trials and failures. Everyone has committed sins of which they are or should be ashamed. The world is full of people, saved and unsaved, who have felt and are feeling the effects of sin. In the midst of it all it is good to know that God's mercy is the unfailing friend of the repentant sinner.

In the last verse Daniel asks God to do five things: hear, forgive, hearken, do and do not defer. Defer means to delay. Daniel has completely bared his heart to God. Although Daniel was a man far more righteous than most he did not glory in it because he knew that any righteousness which he possessed had to be traced back to God. Having fully confessed his sins to God he now has complete liberty to cast himself on God's mercy and ask for forgiveness and deliverance. Many people do not experience deliverance because their prayers do not follow this righteous pattern. One cannot expect to be delivered when he is still holding onto his sinful attitudes and actions. Many people want deliverance from the affects of their sins but they do not want deliverance from their sins. Daniel wanted himself and his people delivered from sin. He wanted to see God's authority established in the earth. He wanted to see the world come to saving faith in the Messiah. He wanted to see God rightfully established in the mount of His holiness. No wonder Daniel's attitude gained the attention of his Creator!

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Prophecies Specific to Israel's Future: An Appeal for Mercy

"O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us. Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord's sake." 
(Daniel 9:16-17)

Having confessed his sins and the sins of his people Daniel now turns his prayer towards God's mercy and casts himself upon the forgiving nature of God. Daniel asks the Lord to turn His wrath away from Jerusalem. This prayer is in perfect harmony with God's far-reaching will. Although God brought great desolation to Jerusalem it is still God's chosen city because from it the Messiah will someday rule the earth. Thy holy mountain is literally the mountain or hill of thy holiness. Mount Zion is holy only because it has been selected by a holy God. It is not holy in and of itself. Things which are proclaimed holy are only so because of God's imparted holiness. The belief that things are made holy by any other means than God's holiness leads to a theology which is mystical in its mindset. Catholicism worships many things which it views as "holy," not understanding that God alone holds the monopoly on intrinsic holiness.

Daniel asks God to restore His sanctuary for His own sake. Daniel was interested in seeing God's name vindicated. He was focused on seeing God glorified. His prayer was God-focused. It is easy for a Christian to pray with a focus on self; however, the believer's prayer should always primarily reflect an interest in that which brings the most glory to God and not what is most personally satisfying. Daniel knew that neither he nor his people had any righteousness which God would find attracting; therefore, he asks that God would do this thing based upon His own holy character. This heart attitude must always be present in the believer. The Christian is sanctified by the righteous character of Christ's Spirit not by any inherent goodness. Filthy rags are the best to which man's righteousness may be compared (Isaiah 64:6).

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Prophecies Specific to Israel's Future: An Admission of Sin (Part V)

"As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth. Therefore hath the LORD watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the LORD our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth: for we obeyed not his voice. And now, O Lord our God, that hast brought thy people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and hast gotten thee renown, as at this day; we have sinned, we have done wickedly." 
(Daniel 9:13-15)

When God sent famine upon Israel it did not cause them to turn from their sin. When God brought the Assyrians upon the northern tribes it did not lead the southern tribe to repentance, and when the Lord delivered Judah into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar many of the Israelites carried their images with them into captivity (Isaiah 46:1-2). Man's heart is incredibly hard. In and of himself man is not tender toward God's word. Men must be sought out. They must be convicted by the Spirit of holiness. They must be goaded by their God-given conscience.

Daniel says that God actually watched upon the evil so that it might come upon His people. God is amazingly merciful, but He is a God of fearful judgments. His commandments and convictions may be shunned for a time, yet there comes a point when God will actually supervise the evil as He uses it to chasten the hard of heart. Men often entertain an inappropriate view of God's love. Many a rebellious Christian has thought that he will be permitted to continue acting like the world, dressing like the world, thinking like the world, and pursuing worldly goals only to find that there is a holy God in heaven who will supervise evil as a rod of punishment. What is true love without chastening? The parent who leaves the child to himself is a miserable example of parental love. Even the military with all of its worldliness and wicked influence understands to a certain degree the value of punishment and discipline, yet many of God's people choose to believe that God's love does not demand obedience. God supervises all things, including the evil which comes upon the disobedient sinner.

Daniel ends his confession by exalting God and vindicating His holy name. Israel's failure was not due to a lack of wondrous works on the behalf of God. All the world bore witness to God's mighty deliverance of His people from Egyptian bondage. No fault rests with God. Israel's failure was solely its own responsibility. Daniel humbly includes himself in the closing confession. He says, we have sinned; we have done wickedly. A believer's failure is his own responsibility. He may not blame God because he has gone astray. He may not accuse God of inadequately equipping the believer for the battle. The Lord has provided every Christian with the breastplate of righteousness, the helmet of salvation, the girdle of truth, the shoes of the gospel, the sword of the Spirit, the shield of faith, and best of all - prayer (Ephesians 6:13-18). In what may the believer find fault with God? Rather than accusing God and others for one's failures it would be better to say, "Lord, to you belongs righteousness; to you belongs glory and fame; I have sinned; I have done wickedly."

Yes, an admission of sin is always a tremendous way to begin any prayer to the Holy One of Israel.

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Prophecies Specific to Israel's Future: An Admission of Sin (Part IV)

"O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against thee. To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him; Neither have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets." (Daniel 9:8-10)

Daniel recognized that Israel's sins were ultimately against the high and holy God. This holds true for every man. People are self-deceived in believing that their sin is a private matter. Sin is never a private matter. It is always against the Lord.

Daniel's prayer next reveals an amazing fact found throughout Scripture, the fact that God is ready to forgive. Even though Israel had grievously sinned against God the Lord did not make a full end of them, and neither did He refuse to forgive those who would seek His face. He is amazingly merciful. True confession and humility should bring a man to the place where he understands and appreciates God's righteous and forgiving character. When a man is struggling against God and trying to find fault with His character he has no hope of finding the peace of forgiveness. Why? Because he has failed to realize that God is righteous and all men are wicked. Daniel confessed that God's character is faultless; he confessed that every man's character is faulty, and he then confessed that God may be sought out for His great mercy. This is the type of heart attitude that leads to help and healing.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Prophecies Specific to Israel's Future: An Admission of Sin (Part III)

"O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries whither thou hast driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against thee." (Daniel 9:7)

Daniel recognized that God is the sole possessor of righteousness. Just like Isaiah, Daniel realized that "we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away (Isaiah 64:6)." The saint is righteous only because God imparts to him His own righteousness. Daniel was a born-again believer because he was not trusting in his own righteousness to get him into heaven; he was leaning upon the righteousness of God as seen in the Person of the Messiah.

Daniel next ascribes to man that of which he is worthy. Confusion of face is an expression that represents shame and distress brought on by sin. Israel had been defeated by their enemies and scattered abroad due to a refusal to repent. The same principles hold true for all people. Every person's sin has brought him to a place of shame and distress. No good deed is sufficient to deliver from this terrible predicament. Every single individual needs the righteousness of God which is accessed only by faith in the blood of Jesus Christ.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Prophecies Specific to Israel's Future: An Admission of Sin (Part II)

"We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments: Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land." (Daniel 9:5-6)

The pronoun we is significant in Daniel's prayer. It actually appears five times. In two instances it can be seen and in the other three it is understood. Daniel says we have sinned, we have committed iniquity, we have done wickedly, we have rebelled, and we have not hearkened. To sin means to miss the mark or come short of the standard. To commit iniquity means to bend, twist, or distort something. Every person who has ever lived has been guilty of these things. Daniel was not to proud to include himself in the sins of the nation. It would be easy to look at Daniel's life and say,"He has no reason to include himself in Israel's failures," yet Daniel recognized his own unworthiness. He saw Israel's needs as his needs. He knew that all men share the same wicked nature and that all are in need of confession before God.

Confession of failure is a tremendous way to begin every prayer. It is easy to habitually come to God with needs. Needs should be brought to God but often times they are not prefaced with confession of sin. Human pride will always keep a man from recognizing what he is before a holy God. The Christian should never forget that "every man at his best state is altogether vanity (Psalm 39:5)."

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Prophecies Specific to Israel's Future: An Admission of Sin

"And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: And I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments;" (Daniel 9:3-4)

Daniel knew that the mercy of God was the greatest need of his people. The finances for their return was not the primary concern. Their safety in travel was not the greatest need. The overwhelming burden was a need for humility and recognition of the value of God's mercy. The same holds true for the Christian. His greatest need is to come before God in confession of sin and declare his absolute reliance upon the Lord's forgiveness and mercy.

Daniel's walk with God was very intimate, yet he found it necessary to humble himself through prayer and fasting. The sackcloth and ashes were an outward expression of the inward abasement. If Daniel could find it in his soul to express such humility and dependence before the Lord surely every believer should follow his righteous example.

Daniel uses two significant adjectives to describe God in this passage. He calls Him the great and the dreadful. In the Hebrew text the order of the words gives the statement an air of emphasis. A literal translation would be the God the great and the dreadful. El is the name translated God. This name stresses God's singularity and superiority. He is The high God. He is the only God. Beside Him all other gods are false deities. The word dreadful means fearful and it is translated this way in numerous other passages.

The last part of this passage closely resembles Exodus 20:6 which says concerning God, "...shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments." Perhaps Daniel was reflecting upon this portion of the Law as he prayed to God. Undoubtedly Daniel had committed to memory large portions of God's word; therefore, the Law poured from his lips with smoothness. Speaking God's words was normal for Daniel because God's law was his place of meditation. Speaking God's word should be natural for the Christian. People speak of the things they love. They speak of the things which occupy their time. May every believer be preoccupied with meditation in God's words so that he might live in the reality of Colossians 4:6. "Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man."