Sat, Dec 29th - 1:33PM
STUDY IN MARK
"For many bore false witness against Him, but their witness did not agree with one another. And there arose certain, and bore false witness against Him, saying, We heard Him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands. But neither did their witness agree with one another (14:56-59)."
Many were willing to testify against Jesus, but none did so accurately and they contradicted each other. The Sanhedrin needed to establish a bonafide charge by at least two witnesses. Jesus had not said that He would destroy their temple. They would destroy "this" temple, which referred to His very own body. And in three days He would resurrect Himself without using hands. Thus the chief religious rulers of the day had reached an impasse.
"And the high priest stood up in the midst of them, and asked Jesus, saying, You answer nothing? What is it which these witness against You? But He held His peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked Him, and said to Him, Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? And Jesus said, I am: and you shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven (14:60-62)."
Jesus did not waste precious time defending Himself against false accusations. His silence both annoyed and and surprised the high priest. Eventually the high priest thought of a way to get Jesus to answer at least one question. Jesus could not say that He was not whom He was. The correct question had been asked, and so it was answered. Jesus stated that He was the Christ, the Son of the Blessed. No higher claim could be made. This reflected what Daniel had seen in one of his visions so very long ago (Daniel 7:13-14). The high priest clearly understood what Jesus said and all of the implication of it.
"Then the high priest rent his clothes, and said, What need have we of any further witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy: what do you think? And they all condemned Him to be guilty of death. And some began to spit on Him, and to cover His face, and to buffet Him, and to say to Him, Prophesy: and the servants did strike Him with the palms of their hands (14:63-65)."
The high priest was so upset over Jesus' claim to be God, that he broke Mosaic Law by tearing his priestly garments. The death penalty came because Jesus claimed to be their Messiah. Here they had been waiting for hundreds of years for their Messiah to come, and when He did they did not accept Him. They chose to spit in His face. They chose to humiliate Him. They chose to mock Him. All the while, Peter sat outside in the place of great temptation, all alone.
"And as Peter was beneath in the palace, there came one of the maids of the high priest: And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked at him, and said, And you too were with Jesus of Nazareth. But he denied, saying, I do not know, neither understand what you are saying. And he went out into the porch; and the cock crowed. And a maid saw him again, and began to say to them that stood by, Thi sis one of them. And Peter denied it again. And a little later, they that stood nearby said again to Peter, Surely you are one of them: for you are a Galilaean, and your speech agrees with that appearance (14:66-70)."
A woman began Peter's descent down the denial road. She asked him one question, and he could not be honest in his reply. Peter was ashamed of being a disciple of Christ at this point in time. He had failed to remain awake in the Garden of Gethsemane while Jesus prayed. He had committed violence when they came arrested Jesus in the Garden. He had then run away in fear when they led Jesus off to the high priest's palace. How many of us today have done similar acts? May God forgive us our cowardice just as He forgave Peter's.
"But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I do not know this man of whom you speak. And the second time the cock crowed. And Peter remembered the word that Jesus said to him, Before the cock crows twice, you shall deny Me three times. And when he thought about this, he wept (144:71-72)."
Peter felt obliged to open his mouth and respond, to defend himself. Thus he gave himself away. People recognized his accent and knew what region he was from: Galilee. He could easily kept his mouth closed, or else said that it shouldn't be a treasonous thing to be from Galilee. Then, when he is confronted with identification as being from Galilee, Peter explodes with cursing and profanity and in the heat of the emotional moment he denies Christ once more. Prophecy fulfilled. Peter simply did not understand his own weakness. He loved Jesus, was sincere in his declaration of loyalty to Him. He had not reached that point where he saw no good in the flesh at all.
But, repentance of sin is available. It is the real test of a genuine believer in Christ Jesus. Peter wept bitterly as he remembered what his Master had told him earlier. Peter was heartbroken. Peter did not yet know that the Lord Jesus would keep him through faith to salvation which was to be revealed in the very near future. What a horrible time! Jesus Christ is in the hands of His enemies, His servants are scattered all over, running in fear. One has betrayed Him; another has denied Him. It is a dark, bleak, night of sin running amok!
We now come to chapter fifteen of Mark. We have come to Christ's trial, crucifixion, and burial. As we study this chapter we must remain aware of the fact that sin is the issue during this particular night. Sin is trying to destroy Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is doing something about sin. We could say that the cross is one of the many paradoxes of Christian faith. It is the greatest tragedy of the ages while also the most glorious victory of earth and heaven. We ought not to have any feelings of defeat or despair as we read this chapter. We should move quietly and reverently through these pages with a heart bursting with thanksgiving to God for providing us with so great a salvation.
The tragedy here is the cruel injustices and outrageous suffering perpetrated against Jesus Christ. Jesus does not seek our sympathy though, He desires our faith in Him. He wants the faith of your heart. The crucifixion of Christ is the climax of Mark's reported action. All creation and the purposes of God have moved towards this point in time for eternity: "Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." The Gospel is what He did, not what God wants you to do. It is all about His action, not your action. You and I are not in the position to do anything that would be acceptable to God. God must, and surely does, supply that righteousness in Christ Jesus (Romans 4:25)."
"And immediately in the morning the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council, and bound Jesus, and carried Him away, and delivered Him to Pilate (15:1)."
The Sanhedrin could condemn Jesus to death, but they couldn't carry out the sentence. Only Rome could do that. Thus they were forced to appeal lto the Roman court for the execution of the death penalty. The charge leveled against Jesus by the Sanhedrin would not stand up in the Roman court so they had to come up with charges that had a very good chance of succeeding before Pilate and make everything legal.
Rome did not allow any public protests, riots, marches, etc. Pontius Pilate came to Jerusalem to hear cases of unrest but lived down in Caesarea. He came to Jerusalem for the feast days in order to keep riots from breaking out. This man was a politician and expediency rather than Roman justice governed his life. Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent of these charges, but wanted to please the crowds as well as the Sanhedrin. He seemingly had hoped to get some cooperation from Jesus. Pilate is an example of a politician without honesty and integrity. He sought to compromise and please all sides rather than issue an edict dissolving all charges against Jesus Christ. He was the chosen man for a chosen moment in history to make prophecy come true.
I will contine this study next time, beloved. Grace and peace be yours this day!
Wed, Dec 26th - 12:36PM
STUDY IN MARK
Now Jesus returns to where He had left the three disciples stationed in prayer.
"And He came, and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, Simon you sleep? could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray, otherwise you enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but flesh is weak (14:37-38)."
How concerned were these disciples over what was about to transpire? Wasn't Peter deeply troubled by the foreknowledge that he was to deny Christ? Why wasn't he deep into fervent prayer to not recant the Lord? He fell asleep. In less than one hour. Here is where all of us find ourselves today. We are instructed to watch and to pray until Christ's return. We are to watch and pray in order to avoid entering into temptation and to be ready to proclaim His Second Advent. Do we actually engage in this activity today beloved? Our spirits may be very ready, however, our physical bodies will constantly betray us if we remain unaware of their influence upon us.
"And again He went away, and prayed, and spoke the same words. And when He returned, He found them asleep again, (for their eyes were heavy) neither did they know what to say to Him. And he came the third time, and said to them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: it is enough, the hour is come; behold, the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise up, let us go! See, he that betrays Me is at hand (14:39-42)."
Jesus prayed the same prayer three separate times in the Garden of Gethsemane. His disciples could not stay awake to watch and pray until He returned to them. Evidently there was a lapse of time where the disciples were able to sleep longer than just one hour. They were allowed to gain a measure of rest before the chaos of His betrayal began. And then, Christ announced that the time had arrived for His betrayal. He did not simply announce that it was to happen, He pointed out that the man who would directly betray Him was now in the Garden and coming to them.
"And immediately, while He yet was speaking, came Judas, one of the twelve, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. And he that betrayed Him had given them a token, saying, whomever I shall kiss, he is the one; take him, and lead him away safely. And as soon as he was come, he went straight to Him, and said, Master, Master; and kissed Him. And they laid their hands on Him, and took Him (14:43-46)."
We find that the Sanhedrin are come out to do what they claimed that they did not want to do at this time. "Not during the feast days while the crowds are here in the city." Treachery received a name to be known by here in this garden outside of the city of Jerusalem. Judas Iscariot knew exactly where Christ preferred to go to pray, and he led His enemies directly to it. What is a kiss? It normally is a badge of love and affection. Judas turned it into something dastardly and repugnant. Judas became known as a backstabber, a turncoat.
We also see here that Jesus Christ was so ordinary looking in appearance that He needed someone to identify who He was when in a crowd. Importantly, Judas did not call Jesus "Lord." He simply called Him Master. I Corinthians explains why this happened: "...no man can say that Jesus is Lord, but by the Holy Spirit (12:3)." Judas had Satan inside of him at this point in time, there was no way possible for him to call Jesus Lord. Verse 46 is the defining moment in history when Christ was delivered directly into the hands of sinful men. He who had no sin in Him yielded Himself in order that He could go to the Cross.
"And one of them that stood by drew a sword, and smote a servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear. And Jesus responded and said to them. Are you come out, as against a thief, with swords and with staves to take Me? I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and you did not take Me: but the scriptures must be fulfilled. And they all forsook Him, and fled. And there followed Him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men laid hold of him: and he left the linen cloth and fled from them naked (14:47-52)."
The Sanhedrin acted as if Jesus was superman. Swords, wooden poles, a multitude of men to surround and subdue Him. What were they ever thinking? Had Jesus ever given them any reason to believe that He would physically fight them? No. They simply had failed to pay attention to what He had been saying all along. They transferred onto Him what they would do if in His place. We also see here that one disciple grabbed a sword and sliced the ear off of a servant of the high priest. No names are supplied in this account by Mark, but John tells us in his accounting that it was Peter who used the sword and that it was the ear of Malchus that got cut off. If Peter had been attempting to behead Malchus he was off by a wide margin in his swing of the sword. Peter may have been an excellent fisherman, but he was a sorry swordsman. What strikes me odd is that people always pick upon Peter as the one disciple who forsook Christ. But here we are told that they all ran away and left Christ Jesus alone in the hands of his enemies. All of them ran away in fear. All fulfilled prophecy.
Who was this "certain young man?" Was it Saul of Tarsus? Or, was it John Mark? The preponderance of evidence weighs in favor of it being young John Mark.
"And they led Jesus away to the high priest: and with him were assembled all of the chief priests and the elders and the scribes. And Peter followed Him afar off, even into the palace of the high priest: and he sat with the servants, and warmed himself at the fire. And the chief priests and all of the council searched for witness against Jesus to put Him to death; and they found none (14:53-55)."
None of the Sanhedrin' ruling council members were missing from this meeting. All were present. Jesus was brought before Caiaphas, high priest, who was acceptable to the Romans. Annas, his father-in-law, was actually the high priest according to Mosaic Law. Who was the real master plotter between these two? Probably it was Annas. But all of them were involved. We see that although Peter ran away from the Garden of Gethsemane he sort of circled around like a deer, and ended up outside in the courtyard of the high priest's palace. As unfaithful as it was for all eleven disciples to run away, the worse action still remained to happen. Peter ran away and returned, but he associated with the wrong crowd of people upon his return. Inside the palace the Sanhedrin is working to discover just one person who is willing to accurately witness against Jesus. But they simply can't find anyone. Little gets mentioned about when the Sanhedrin met. They were supposed to meet during daylight hours, not at night. Their methodology was equally illegal: only searching for witnesses who would speak against Jesus. If it was proving hard to find credible single witnesses, it was proving even more difficult to have two or three witnesses whose testimony agreed with one another. What could possibly be the solution to their dilemna? That is for nest time my friends.
Grace and peace be with you on this stormy day after Christmas. Drive carefully in those areas under winter storm warnings and advisories. The sleet is pounding down at this time here in central Virginia. Remain in the Spirit, remain faithful to your calling in Christ. Amen.
Sun, Dec 23rd - 5:40PM
STUDY IN MARK
"And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is My body. And He took the cup, and when he had given thanks, He gave it to them: and they all drank from it. And He said to them, This is My blood of the new testament, which is shed for many. Truly I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God (14:22-25)."
Some interesting things were noted by J. Vernon McGee in this passage. The Passover cup was passed around seven times during the feast. They would sing one of the great Hallel Psalms. Apparantly on the seventh time around Jesus chose to not drink but instead instituted the Lord's Supper with the disciples. The Lord's Supper now looks back in time to what Jesus Christ did for all of us on that wooden cross.
The Passover looked forward to the Messiah's coming. Perhaps, in the Millennium there will be a remembrance of His coming; when it was first instituted. It could be that at that time it will look both forward and backward. Perhaps the Millennnial kingdom will bring out the real meaning of the Passover. Something to look forward to learning, eh?
"And when they had sung a hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives. And Jesus said to them, All you shall be offended because of Me this night: for it is written, I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered. But after I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee. But Peter said to Him, Although all shall be offended, yet I will not be. And Jesus said to him, Truly I say to you, That this day, even this night, before the cock crows twice, you shall deny Me three times. But he replied the more vehemently, If I should die with You, I will not deny You in any manner. Likewise also said all of the disciples (14:26-31)."
Interesting stuff here. Peter gives his allegiance to Christ. So do the other disciples. They will never deny Him as being their Master and Lord. Out of complete ignorance of what lay immediately before them they sincerely pledged their allegiance to God. Without taking any of their personal weaknesses into consideration they made vows. The Word of God forces each of us to stop and carefully consider what our weaknesses happen to be, and to then proceed with extreme caution in making boasts or vows.
Today we must not fall into the trap of thinking that Christian psychologists are better able to counsel troubled people than any trained pastor can. If you properly understand what the Word of God teaches then you can counsel troubled people as well as any psychologist or pastor. The psychologist does not know the heart of the person being counseled, just as you won't. But the Word of God can allow us to see what sinners we are, and that is the basic problem with all of us. Psychiatrists may resolve one problem, but they tend to also create more than one additional problem. The only lasting solution to anyone's problems is God. Come to Christ for healing and resolution of your problems. He created us and thus knows us better than any human being can. I may have had a lousy childhood, but I can go to an all-forgiving Creator who is able to heal me and restore me to wholeness.
The Christ flatly informs His disciples that He will be struck down and they all shall scatter. Not simply that He shall die, but that He shall rise from death and travel ahead of them into Galilee. The disciples completely miss these important notes, instead focusing upon giving Christ Jesus their etched in stone allegiance. Nothing can make us deny You! Still, Christ tells them what will, in fact, happen. And now, we come to the Garden of Gethsemane.
"And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and He said to His disciples, Sit here while I shall pray. And He took with Him Peter, and James and John, and began to be extremely amazed, and to be very heavy; And said to them, My soul is exceedingly sorrowed to death: remain here, and watch (14:32-34)."
It would seem that this was a place well known to all of them. Eleven disciples are with Him since Judas Iscariot left to go and betray Him to the Sanhedrin. He leaves a circle of eight to watch while He takes the favored three with Him deeper into the Garden. All indications are that Jesus fully understood the ordeal awaiting Him within this place. This word "amazed" is more like being stunned. He was distressed at what was about to happen to Himself, and to the disciples.
Was Satan present here in this place? Was Jesus being tempted once more to pass on drinking from the cup offered to Him? Much was not recorded on purpose. There are mysteries in this garden of which we can't understand, not until we join Christ in the kingdom. Are any of us able to go through this garden with Him? No, we are not. Faced with what awaited Him there we would be daunted, and would choose to flee as far away as possible. Jesus did not ask anyone to go all the way into the Garden with Him, just part of the way and then remain to watch, wait, and pray. I can do those things.
"And He went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. And He said, Abba, Father, all things are possible to You; take away this cup from Me: irregardless not what I will, but what You will (14:35-36)."
Jesus asked that the hour might be taken from Him. He did not dread physical death, but the hour of spiritual suffering upon the cross when the sins of every single human being would be upon Him. The cup and the hour became one and the same. We can find this scene revisited by the author of Hebrews: "Who in the days of His flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears to Him that was able to save Him from death, and was heard in that He feared; Though He were a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered (5:7-8)." God continued to paint a picture for all of us. How a Son is to be obedient to the Father's will, even if it requires death. In the obedience is to be found honor, and love.
That is all for now, beloved. We only have another day to go before Christ's birth will be celebrated once again. May your heart be prepared, may your mind be full of the scriptures that inform us of the circumstances surrounding Christ's birth, and may you be full of the blessed hope that Christ's birth brings to each and every new generation of people upon this earth. Each and every second someone enters eternity through their physical death. Have they been given the opportunity to choose to believe, or not? Give the gift of eternal life to someone this season by offering Christ Jesus to them in a loving way. Grace and peace to you all!
Fri, Dec 21st - 11:33AM
STUDY IN MARK
Today I resume studying Mark.
"And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went to the chief priests, to betray Him to them. And when they heard it, they were glad, and promised to give him money. And he sought how he might conveniently betray Him (14:10-11)."
If you recall, Mary had poured out expensive ointment upon Jesus and anointed Him. It had created a significant uproar among the disciples, initiated by Judas. Here in these two verses we can see Judas' dark actions. He is not simply stealing from the common good, he is actively seeking out a way to betray Christ. The priests wanted the betrayal to take place at a "convenient time" when there would not be huge crowds of people to witness what happened. But God would not allow them such opportunity for Jesus Christ told Judas at the Last Supper to go and do what he was to do, and to do it quickly. Perhaps Judas thought that Jesus had figured out what was going on, and so told the priests they had better be ready pronto.
"And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the passover, His disciples said to Him, Where do You wish that we go and prepare for You to eat the Passover? And He sent out two of His disciples, and said to them, God into the city, and there shall meet you a man bearing a pitcher of water: follow him. And where ever he shall go in, say to the goodman of the house, The Master says, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the Passover with My disciples (14:12-14)?"
The disciples were very meticulous in following the letter of the Mosaic Law. Where were we observing the Passover? We need to make preparations for the meal. Everything must be exactly right. The Passover was eaten with unleavened bread and then there were seven days of unleavened bread that followed (Exodus 12:14-20). So Jesus sent out two of them to make the arrangements. Actually, I believe that the arrangements were pretty much already made, the two disciples simply needed to discover that fact by doing exactly what Christ told them to do. "The goodman" obviously was someone who knew who Christ was and wished to allow Him use of a room for observing the Passover. Perhaps sometime during Christ's three year public ministry He had made these arrangements. Or perhaps the goodman had offered this room for use during the Passover in some future time.
"And he will show you a large upper room furnished and prepared: there make ready for the rest of us. And His disciples went out, and came into the city, and found as He had said to them: and they made ready the Passover. And in the evening He came with the twelve (14:15-17)."
Any doubts about this having been prearranged? A large room furnished and ready for a group of their number. The goodman did not attend this Passover meal. It was a private gathering, and so the host did not attend to wash their feet. Christ had already stated that He was to eat the Passover with His disciples. No other people were included in that statement. This is similar to the account given of the disciples being sent to find the donkey. Since the Passover began at sunset, Christ did not come to the upper room until evening. Perhaps He did not arrive in the city until darkness had fallen. Christ was arranging the time when He would be delivered into the hands of the Sanhedrin, forcing them to act at a time when they did not wish to.
"And as they sat and did eat, Jesus said, Truly I say to you, One of you which eats with Me shall betray Me. And they began to be sorrowful, and to say to Him one by one, Is it I? and another said, Is it I (14:18-19)?"
Judas was one those who asked Jesus if it was him. Apparantly these twelve men understood that each of them were fully capable of betraying Him. Today we all must remain painfully aware of our depravity due to our sinful nature. I know that I am fully capable of turning my back upon God and walking away from Him. Unfortunately, there are way too many churchgoers who remain totally unaware of the fact that they are sinners and are lost without Christ Jesus. But just as importantly, there are saved people who do not realize they are still capable of turning their backs upon God. "Is it I, Lord?"
"And He answered and said to them, It is one of the twelve, that dips with Me in the dish. The Son of man indeed goes, as it is written of Him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it would be good for that man if he had never been born (14:20-21)."
For three years Judas Iscariot had walked alongside Jesus. He had become a familiar friend of the Lord's. How must God have felt, knowing during those three years that this man with whom He was walking would end up giving Him up for some pieces of silver? Did He look for telltale signs of the moment when Judas chose?
A new feast was begun upon the dying embers of the old, the Passover feast. Jesus instituted a new memorial. One that took the elements that perish so easily in our world: bread and wine. The Passover looked forward to His coming as the Passover Lamb. Now the Lord's Supper looks back to His death and resurrection. Now we must look forward to Christ's Second Advent, when He comes as the King of kings. This Christmas season we all ought to more deeply seek out a more intimate relationship with God. We should not cast about for reasons why this, or that, thing has happened. It is quite simple: Things happen. Let us all begin praying for revival in our hearts. Let us begin to ask God to renew our love for Him. Let us allow tears to flow down our cheeks as we sing the old familiar Christmas carols and hymns. Let us all reconnect with Christ's love for us, and for each other. As a certain past American President said: It is time for a kinder, gentler, America. Let it begin within each of us this very day!
Thu, Dec 20th - 1:16PM
STUDY IN MARK
Our interlude in Daniel continues today.
"And the vision of the evening and the morning which was told is true: therefore shut up your vision; for it shall be for many days. And I Daniel fainted, and I was sick certain days; afterwards I rose up, and did the king's business; and I was astonished at the vision, but no one else understood it (Daniel 8:26-27)."
I believe I pointed out at the end of my previous post that this vision had immense impact upon Daniel. He fell ill for a few days and then got up and began to do the king's work once more. Although he personally witnessed this vision that lasted over the night into morning, he still remained astonished at it. I am sure the pure magnitude of it shocked him.
Now we come to chapter nine of Daniel where the angel Gabriel returns to provide Daniel with important information concerning a time period of seventy weeks.
"And while 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. Yes, while I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel whom I had seen in the vision in the beginning, flew swiftly and touched me about the time of the evening oblation. And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come to give you skill and understanding. At the beginning of your supplications the commandment came, and I am come to show you; for you are greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision (Daniel 9:20-23)."
I am skipping past the first 19 verses for they represent a prayer offered up by Daniel to God in heaven. Please do read it, for it is something which believers today ought to practice doing: praying honestly before God and admitting their sin/s. What sin had Daniel committed that he felt it necessary to give voice to it before God? None of our business obviously. Perhaps he felt that he simply was not living a godly enough life in serving Jehovah. Daniel was beseeching the Lord to turn His wrath and anger away from Jerusalem and the Israelites. We also discover that although Gabriel was an angel, he appeared before Daniel in the form of a human being, a male human being. The exact time of this appearance would have been three o'clock in the afternoon. And now Gabriel reveals to Daniel why he has come once more to him.
"Seventy weeks are determined upon your people and upon your 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 Hebrew word for "seven" is shabua, meaning "a unit of measure." It correlates to our word dozen. Standing alone it denotes seven of something, anything. So here it represents seventy sevens. From this verse it would be ever so easy to assume it must mean 490 weeks, or even seventy weeks period. Somehow the seventy years of captivity of the Hebrew people had to fit into the long period of time in which there would be Gentile world dominion (chapters 7-8 of Daniel). It would appear that Daniel assumed that at the end of the current captivity his people would return to Jerusalem, Messiah would come, and the kingdom which had been promised to king David would be established.
But these seventy sevens answer a couple of questions. Israel's kingdom will not come immediately. These seventy sevens must run their entire course. They fit into the the Times of the Gentiles and run simultaneously with them. The time frame is broken up to fit into gentile times. The word for determined literally means "cutting off." Both the seventy sevens for Israel and the Times of the Gentiles will come to an abrupt end at the same time, at the second coming of Christ Jesus.
These seventy weeks do not concern America or Russia or China. They concern the people of Daniel, the Israelites. They also concern the city of Jerusalem.
"Know therefore and understand, that from the going out of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem until the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be rebuilt, and the wall, even though in troubling times. 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 of it shall be with a flood, and to the end of the war desolations are determined. 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 9:25-27)."
Six things are to accomplished during those seventy weeks or 490 years:
1.) "To finish the transgression." It refers to the transgression of Israel. The cross would provide the redemption for sin, for the sin of the entire Jewish nation; but not all accepted it. Today the Word of God has gone out to the farthest corners of our world that there is a redemption for mankind. Zechariah 12:10 and 13:1 contain prophecies concerning Israel, Jerusalem, and David's throne that simply have not been fulfilled yet. During that very last "week" is when these particular prophecies will come to pass.
2.) "To make an end of sins." The national sins of Israel will come to an end at the second Advent of Christ. They are sinners just like all of the rest of mankind and they require redemption as well. This signifies an end to all sins occurring throughout the entire world.
3.) "To make reconciliation for iniquity>" During this period of time God has provided redemption through the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus. It is for Jew and Gentile alike.
4.) "And to bring in everlasting righteousness." This signifies the return of Christ at the end of the 490 years to establish His kingdom.
5.) "To seal up the vision and prophecy." This means that everything will be fulfilled at its predetermined time. Until then, this vision would be closed to interpretation by the majority of
people. Christ Jesus came and unlocked this prophecy through His revelation to John.
6.) "To anoint the most Holy." Refers to the anointment of the holy of holies in the millennial temple which Ezekiel spoke about (Ezekiel 41-46).
Now I ask you to read on your own chapters 10-11. These chapters speak about what human history would be in the years after Daniel had died. Antiochus Epiphanes is identified in chapter eleven as this vision concerns the intertestamental period, the time when Israel suffered at the hands of both Syria and Egypt. Antiochus came from the Seleucid family dynasty that had arisen in the wake of Alexander the Great's early demise. The verses from 11:1-34 represent examples of prewritten history, so accurate that liberal critics refuse to accept the fact that it was written before it ever happened.
We are informed that there were to be four notable kings of Persia to follow Cyrus. Xerxes was the last of the four and indications are that he is the Ahasuerus of the Book of Esther. The mighty king who could do according to his will was Alexander the Great. Following Alexander's death the empire was divided up into four regional powers: Macedonia, Asia Minor, Syria and the Middle East, and Egypt. These dynasties existed up until the Romans came and conquered them all as they marched east. "King of the south" can be none other than Egypt's ruler, a Ptolemy. "King of the north" is none other than the ruler of Syria, the Seleucidae. History is a bit sketchy for this time period, but it does support/corroborate what is found in Daniel. To form an alliance between these two warring families, Ptolemy Philadelphus of Egypt gave his daughter Berenice in marriage to Antiochus Theos of Syria. Antiochus had a wife, Laodice, whom he divorced. After two years Ptolemy died; so Antiochus put away Berenice with her son and took back his first wife. She, in turn, poisoned her husband and ordered the death of Berenice and her son. Laodice then placed her own son, Seleucus Callinicus, upon the throne.
Then Ptolemy Eurergetes, brother of Berenice, came with an army and captured Syria. He took immense wealth with him when he returned to Egypt. History records the continual warfare between Egypt and Syria. Israel repeatedly made the wrong choice during this period of time and found itself being made captive by one side or the other. Eventually Antiochus the Great gained victory over Egypt, a decisive victory. Israel suffered greatly at this time. This then brings us to the time when Antiochus the Great made a treaty with Egypt and gave his daughter Cleopatra to Ptolemy Epiphanes in marriage. Antiochus the Great then turned his attention against Lysimachus in the west.
Then history brings us to when "a prince for his own behalf" arose, namely Rome. Rome began exacting taxes from Syria. We then arrive again to the time of Antiochus Epiphanes. He was a flatterer and deceiver. He was also an extreme persecutor of the Jews. Daniel 11:35 speaks about "the time of the end." This is the point in this scripture where we leave historical fulfillment and enter back into that which will happen in our future, or even beyond. Daniel 11:36-12:13 deals with the Great Tribulation Period at the end of our current age. It is not the end of time, but rather, the end of the age when Christ returns to rule over the entire earth. I am not going to get into this part of prophecy since it deserves its own study.
That completes our interlude into Daniel from the Book of Mark. Next time I shall resume where I left off in Mark and continue on the study. I pray that you are continuing to prepare your heart as we progress through Advent season towards Christmas Day. Grace and peace be yours.
Wed, Dec 12th - 7:08PM
STUDY IN MARK
"Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said to that first saint that spoke, How long shall the vision be concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot? And he said to me, For two thousand three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed (Daniel 8:13-14)."
We can waste time arguing about whether "saint" refers to Old Testament believers in God or to angelic beings. Either one does not change what is being spoken about here. The profaning of the Jewish temple is being talked about, and a time frame is given to the reader. Much debate has gone on about interpreting these 2300 days. Seventh Day Adventism grew out of the great second advent awakening in which this verse was given the day-year interpretation and the date for Christ's second coming was set for the year 1843. William Miller and his followers, among whom was Ellen G. White, understood "the sanctuary" to be the earth which would be cleansed at His coming. Mr. Miller was a sincere but mistaken Baptist preacher. This interpretation was an insecure foundation for any theory of prophecy about Christ's second coming, which history has proven to be utterly untrue.
But if we take the 2300 days literally as 24 hour days, the period ends up being between six and seven years, which does approximate the time of Antiochus who began perpetrating his atrocities around 170 B.C. Judas Maccabeus, the Jewish priest, finally drove the Syrian army out, at which time the temple was cleansed and rededicated after removing the pollution. This cleansing is celebrated in the Feast of Lights. This is one of the holy days celebrated at the time of Christ and which is still remembered by today's Jews. It does not appear in the Old Testament since it originated during the intertestamental period between Old and New Testaments.
"And it came to pass, when I, even I Daniel, had seen the vision, and sought for the meaning of it, then, behold, there stood before me one who appeared as that of a man. And I heard a man's voice between the banks of Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision (Daniel 8:15-16)."
Without doubt it is the prophet Daniel who is having this vision and passed it on to others. The archangel Gabriel is postively identified for us, and is the angel to give the meaning to the prophet. It was not a man that stood before Daniel, it appeared to be like a man. Daniel was puzzled by this vision and wished to understand what it meant.
"So he came near where I stood: and when he came, I was afraid, and fell down upon my face: but he said to me, Understand, O son of man: for at the time of the end shall be the vision. Now as he was speaking to me, I was in a deep sleep on my face toward the ground: but he touched me, and set me upright (Daniel 8L17-18)."
Daniel is to discover that Antiochus Epiphanes was to be but a partial fulfillment of this prophecy. His desolation of the temple was but a miniature picture of the greater abomination to be perpetrated in the distant future by the Antichrist during the End Times. Please notice that it is not the "end of time," simply the time of the end. This phrase properly locates the fulfillment of this proohecy in the period which Jesus Christ called the Great Tribulation. The Antichrist, the Man of Sin, and the little horn of chapter seven of the Book of Daniel is this man referred to. We all have yet to arrive at the end of the "times of the Gentiles."
"And he said, Behold, I will make you know what shall be in the last end of the indignation: for at the time appointed the end shall be. The ram which you saw having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia. And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn between his eyes is the first king. Now that horn being broken, and four stood up in its place, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power. And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up (Daniel 8:19-23)."
Historically we can line up each of these things mentioned above. Of note is that none of the four kings following Alexander the Great would be able to attain his level of power. The "little horn" is Antiochus Epiphanes who arose from the Seleucid dynasty that arose from the general of that name who took control over Syria. Antiochus was a picture of what was yet to come in the distant future.
"And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand (Daniel 8:24-25)."
"They holy people" most likely refers to Israel. Antiochus Epiphanes slaughtered them in unbelievable numbers, and in the End Times Israelites will be slaughtered again. Revelation 13:7 informs us of what this man will attempt to do. Dr. J. Vernon McGee pointed out that there are four things that the Antichrist will do:
1. We are informed in Revelation 13:17 that no man will be able to buy or sell anything unless he has the mark of the beast upon his person. The Antichrist will control the global econoly with a vengeance.
2. Revelation 13:5 informs us that he is given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies. He will be given power to continue this way for forty-two months. Humbleness is not one of this man's attributes. He is to be like Satan who was filled with pride.
3. He will come into power presenting himself as a lamb, gaining control through peaceful means such as treaties and pacts. In Revelation he is the rider on the white horse. He ushers in a false sense of peace, for after him comes the red horse of war.
4. He will oppose and fight against Christ Jesus. It is a distinctive mark of the Antichrist and of the first beast in Revelation 13, that he is against Christ.
The remaining verses of chapter eight of Daniel inform us that the vision was true but that it was not to be interpreted completely until the End of the age came in the distant future. Daniel informs us that no one could understand the vision when he told them about it. He went back to doing the king's business, remaining astonished at the vision given to him by God.
That is all for today, beloved! Some people refuse to look at what is steadily approaching in our history. They wish to remain distracted by "global warming" and the loss of power by unions. So be it. They will remain at risk when global government becomes a reality. I hope that this interlude provides you with increased understanding of what is yet to come in human history. Pray about it, prepare yourself and your family, help your congregation become aware and ready. There is nothing to fear. Rather, it is time to be more assured of our God's plan coming to pass than ever before and reaching out to lead as many people to redemption through Jesus as we possibly can. Time is getting short. The fields are white, ready for harvest. Where are the diligent workers? Where are we, fellow brethren? Are out in the fields yet? Or are we still sitting at home on our couch. Grace and peace be to you from Christ our Lord and Savior
Sun, Dec 9th - 12:00AM
STUDY IN MARK
Let's get back into this interlude, and look at that vision of Daniel's. It is to be found in Daniel chapter eight. It was a prophetic vision at the time of it being given to Daniel, but has since been fulfilled by historical events. Daniel's vision about the ram with the two unmatched horns and the male goat with just one horn puts a microscope down upon the conflict between the second and third world empires and the struggle between the East and West, between the Orient and the Occident, between Asia and Europe. It was the struggle between the Medea-Persian and the Greco-Macedonian empires. It is also note worthy that the preceding section of Daniel 2:4-7:28 was written in Aramaic, the original language of Syria and the world language of these four great world empires. With chapter eight, the book returns to the use of the Hebrew language.
"In the third year of the reign of king Belshazzar a vision appeared to me, even to me Daniel, after that which appeared to me at the beginning. And I saw in a vision; and it came to pass, when I saw, that I was at Shushan in the palace, which is in the province of Elam; and I saw in a vision, and I was by the river of Ulai. Then I lifted up my eyes, and saw, and behold, there stood by the river a ram which had two horns: and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last (8:1-3)."
This vision happened during the reign of the last king of Babylon. Daniel found himself at Shushan, which is also known as Susa, the capital of Media-Persian, the second world empire. Ulai is the Kerkhah River which flowed past Susa. This vision did not happen at Babylon, the capital of the Babylonian empire, for the vision concerns the second and third world empires and not the first. Within two hundred years all of these prophecies came to pass.
Later in this chapter it will be explained that the ram with two horns is Media-Persia. The more dominant, or stronger, horn arose last on the ram. This means that Media arose first when Gobryas the Median general destroyed Babylon. Later came the Persian monarchs who gained ascendancy over the Medes and drove the empire to even greater heights of conquest and culture. The Persians today are basically located in what is Iran. Interesting, isn't it?
"I saw the ram pushing westward, and northward, and southward; so that no beasts might stand before him, neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand; but he did according to his will, and became great. And as I was considering this, behold, a male goat came from the west on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground: and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes (8:4-5)."
The Medo-Persian empire expanded in all directions except into the Oriental lands to the east. This is the empire represented by the bear found in the vision of chapter seven of Daniel, they were motivated by conquest. But then Daniel beheld another beast approaching quickly from the western world. It came with great speed and had a single horn. This goat represents Greece and the horn typifies Alexander the Great. The Greeks attacked with great speed, overwhelming their foes before they were able to mount any defense.
"And he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had seen standing before the river, and the goat ran into him in the fury of his power. And I saw him come closer to the ram, and he was moved by great anger and hatred against him, and struck the ram, and broke his two horns: and there was no power in the ram to stand against the goat, but he cast the ram down to the ground, and stomped upon him: and there was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand (8:6-7)."
Xerxes was the last great ruler of Persia, and he had made a foray against Europe, against Greece. He had moved against them with an army of 300,000 men and their families. The Greeks did not go out to confront him on the battlefield. They waited until he got to Thermopylae, which is a narrow pass into which he could not fit a huge army. The army of Xerxes was not a trained and disciplined one while the Greeks were very well trained and disciplined. The Greeks gained a decisive victory. The Persian army was decimated. Then at Salamis Xerxes fleet of three hundred ships was destroyed by a storm. When Xerxes heard what had happened to his magnificent fleet he proceeded to go down to the sea and beat the waves with his belt! Sound like the actions of an outstanding, intelligent man?
This was the last effort of the East to advance into the West. The hordes of Muhammed, the Moors, came in through Spain, but Charles Martel stopped them at the battle of Tours. The Turks attempted to come through the East, through the Balkans, but they also failed. Now had arisen in the West this tremendous general, a young man, by the name of Alexander the Great. Only thirty-two years old when he died! He was a military genius, one of the greatest to ever live. He figured out how to move a land force extremely quickly.
"Therefore the male goat grew very great: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and from it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven (8:8)."
How did this "horn" get broken? No human power was able to stand against Alexander. Reports were that he sat down and cried because there were no more lands to conquer, the known world at that time was his. But in the middle of his gigantic projects he was brought down by a fever after a nightlong drinking bout. He subsequently died in Babylon in 323 B.C. at the ripe old age of thirty-two.
As far as can determined today, all three of these world empires went down in drunken orgies. Surrendering to the effects of rampant drug use is a one-way highway to oblivion, both personally and nationally.
In America we currently suffer through thousands of people killed by drunk drivers, and a million or more people suffer crippling and other serious injuries every single year due to drunk driving incidents. It is insanity to claim personal rights or freedom require us to allow this to happen on our roadways. Constitutionally drunk driving infringes upon the rights of others in their pursuit of happiness. It ought to be stopped.
The Greek empire collapsed because Alexander was an alcoholic. He could conquer everything outside of himself, but failed miserably to conquer himself and his urges. This is a continuing danger in every nation today. Leaders who do great things and yet can not control their urges and desires go down in flames and infamy, over and over again. And they tend to drag their nations down with them.
What was the result of Alexander's death? His empire was divided up among four men (the four-headed panther of chapter seven). They were the four generals: Cassander, who was married to Alexander's sister and took control of Macedonia and Greece; Lysimachus who took control of the greater part of Asia Minor (Turkey); Seleucus who took control of Asia (everything eastwardly except Egypt); and Ptolemy who took Egypt and North Africa.
"And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceedingly great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land (8:9)."
"The pleasant land" is none other than Israel. The "little horn" here described is not the same one from the previous chapter. There the horn arises from out of the fourth kingdom while here the horn arises from out of the third kingdom. This horn is historical, while the other is to be revealed in the future. This horn of verse nine came from out of Syria from the Seleucid dynasty. He was Antiochus IV, or Epiphanes, the son of Antiochus the Great. Sometimes he is called "the madman" for he was a demented ruler.
This man came to the throne in 175 B.C. and made an attack against Jerusalem. It was this man whom the Maccabees rose up against in Judah. He tried to exterminate the Jews. His was the first "abomination of desolation" for he placed a statue of Jupiter in the Holy Place in the temple in Jerusalem. He also poured swine broth all over the holy vessels in the temple.
"And it grew great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stomped upon them. Yes, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down. And a host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practiced, and prospered (8:10-12)."
Difficult statements to interpret, aren't they? Best I can do is to think that "the madman" challenged God for supremacy and was allowed to capture Jerusalem and its temple because of the transgressions perpetrated by Israel. There was both physical and spiritual warfare involved at this time. The permissive will of God allowed this "little horn" to practice and prosper during this historical period.
That is all for today, beloved. My apologies for such a long break between posts. I have begun a three year Christian Growth class regimen and it has been time consuming at the outset! But I shall work at being more frequent again in my postings here. Grace and peace be yours during this Advent season leading up to Christmas.
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