Tag Archives: gentiles

Daniel’s Disturbing Dream (Daniel 7:1-28)

Daniel, a godly prophet and a man of unshakable faith, has been steadfast in his daily walk of fellowship with God throughout the first six chapters of the Book of Daniel. Nothing has caused him to panic or depart from his faith and practice as a godly Jew. Neither peer opposition nor the king’s new law (chapter 6) greatly disturbed Daniel. Daniel’s first inner turmoil occurs in chapter 7. A revelation from God in his sleep discloses future events which Daniel finds most troubling. Twice in chapter 7 Daniel speaks of his distress:

“As for me, Daniel, my spirit was distressed within me, and the visions in my mind kept alarming me” (verse 15).

“At this point the revelation ended. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts were greatly alarming me and my face grew pale, but I kept the matter to myself” (verse 28).

We should note Daniel’s distress in chapter 7 before turning to the other prophecies in Daniel, where we will find that prophecy very often produces distress. Where it has not caused distress, it should have. Nebuchadnezzar became distressed when he received his first night vision (2:1) because he did understand some of his dream. In his vision, the statue collapsed and disappeared, because a mysterious stone struck it at its feet. His vision in chapter 4 should have produced more distress than it did. He was “at ease” when he received the vision, and then he became fearful, and his mind alarmed him (4:4-5). Upon hearing the details of the dream, Daniel too was troubled (4:19). Unfortunately, the king did not heed the dream’s warning, and his kingdom was taken away for a time. In chapter 5, King Belshazzar’s dream should have greatly alarmed him, but apparently it did not. That night his life and his kingdom came to an end. Subsequent revelations in the Book of Daniel which Daniel received were closely associated with some kind of agony or distress (see 8:17, 27; 9:20-21; 10:2-3, 7-10, 17; 12:8).

A look through the Scriptures shows that Daniel’s response to the prophecies he received was not unique. Many Old Testament prophets shared Daniel’s distress as a result of the prophecies they received and often conveyed to others. Why does the prophecy of Daniel 7 cause this godly man so much consternation? What so upset Daniel about the future? Should we be troubled as well?

Prophecies are given so that we may look at history, especially events occurring in our own lifetime, from God’s perspective. Prophecy provides men the opportunity to think and act in a way which pleases God, who determines the future and who reveals future events to men.

Chapter 7 reveals in broad terms what the future holds. Our study of this chapter will isolate what troubled Daniel about the future. If taken seriously, we will find the future sobering as well. May the Spirit of God reveal the meaning of this prophecy to us and produce in us that which God desires to His glory and our good.

Structure of the Text

Two major divisions comprise our text: (1) Daniel’s dream—verses 1-14 and (2) the interpretation—verses 15-28. In more detail, the outline would be as follows:

(1) Daniel’s Dream verses 1-14

  • The Four Beasts — verses 1-8
  • The Ancient of Days — verses 9-12
  • The Son of Man — verses 13-14

(2) The Divine Interpretation — verses 15-28

  • Daniel’s distress — verse 15
  • A General Interpretation — verses 16-18
  • A Fuller Interpretation — verses 19-27
  • Daniel’s Response — verse 28

Interpretive Guidelines

Interpretations of Daniel’s prophecies differ widely. Liberals reject all prophecies, because they require a sovereign God and a miraculous revelation of future events. While conservative, evangelical scholars believe the prophecies in Daniel are true, their interpretations differ greatly. Whether liberal or conservative, our conclusions grow out of the premises and presuppositions governing the process and the product of our interpretation. For this reason, I wish to clearly state the foundational presuppositions and principles on which this exposition of Daniel is based.

(1) The Book of Daniel is a part of the Holy Scriptures, and thus inspired, accurate, and trustworthy.

(2) The prophecies of Daniel must be understood in relationship to and in light of the other prophecies of Daniel.

(3) These prophecies must be understood in light of their historical background as provided in Daniel, in the inspired revelation provided by other portions of Scripture,and the cautious use of supplementary information by reliable historical documents or study. Other biblical prophecies bear on the prophecies of Daniel, particularly preceding or contemporary prophecies.

(4) Prophecies not completely fulfilled cannot be fully understood until after their fulfillment. At least the final portion of chapter 7 has not been fulfilled. Even those portions which we believe have been fulfilled, students of prophecy differ about the way of their fulfillment.

(5) Above all, the prophecy in this chapter means precisely what God says it means in this text, nothing more and nothing less. How easily we turn from what is revealed to speculate about what has been concealed (see Deuteronomy 29:29). We should not spend a disproportionate amount of time and energy trying to fill in the blanks God has left. Our attention should be given to what is clearly and emphatically said. In our passage, Daniel asks for and receives an explanation. What God determined to reveal to Daniel should be enough for us.

Overall Observations

Note these general observations about our passage before we turn to a more detailed study.

(1) Daniel 7 is the last chapter written in Aramaic in the Book of Daniel. Daniel 1:1-2:4a was written in Hebrew. From Daniel 2:4b to the end of chapter 7, the original text was written in Aramaic (the language of Babylon in that day). After this chapter, the book returns to the Hebrew language.

(2) Chapters 7 and 8, while written in different languages, are written during the reign of Belshazzar and somehow linked by the author in Daniel 8:1.

(3) This chapter contains the major segment of Daniel, which is primarily prophetic, although it does not contain the first prophecy in the Book of Daniel.

(4) This is the first prophecy in the book revealed directly to Daniel. The other prophecies were revealed to King Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar and interpreted by Daniel.

(5) While the process involves wicked kings and nations and the suffering of the saints, the culmination is the establishment of God’s eternal kingdom.

(6) None of the kings or the kingdoms are identified.

(7) No identification is made of the saints as “Jews” or “Gentiles.” There seems to be no Jewish nationalistic emphasis here, as there will be later.

(8) The four beasts are all different, with the last standing apart from the first three.

(9) The interpretation of Daniel’s vision comes in two parts, beginning with a general interpretation and then a more specific one based on Daniel’s questions.

(10) Daniel’s preoccupation is with the last beast, rather than the first three.

(11) A distinction is made between God the “Father”—the “Ancient of Days” and God the Son—the “Son of Man”—with both playing a part in the establishment of the kingdom.

(12) No distinction between the first coming of Christ and the second is made in the coming of the eternal kingdom of God.

(13) In some sense, the last kingdom is still on-going. Since the last kingdom and the prophecies associated with it have not yet been fulfilled, we must in some way be a part of that kingdom. The day of judgment is still future and has not yet been fulfilled. Thus, the vision is yet unfulfilled in terms of its major emphasis. No wonder interpreters differ about the details (Just my thoughts.). Quite clear, however, is the identity of the “Ancient of Days” and the “Son of Man.”

Background

Chapter 7 moves from the historical accounts of Daniel and his three friends to the prophetic revelations received by Daniel in the last half of the Book. The following chart may help us visualize the relationship of Daniel’s prophecies to the historical setting in which they were revealed:

BABYLONIAN EMPIRE

MEDO-PERSIAN EMPIRE

Nebuchadnezzar

Belshazzar

Darius

Cyrus

Daniel 1-4

Daniel 5

Daniel 6

Daniel 12

Daniel 7-8

Daniel 9

Daniel 11-12

The first prophetic revelation is found in Daniel 2. A night vision is given to king Nebuchadnezzar, apparently early in his reign as king of Babylon. Through the vision of a magnificent, awe-inspiring statue, God reveals the future for Gentile kings and their kingdoms. The head of the statue was made of gold, the chest and arms of silver, the belly and thighs of bronze, and the legs and feet of iron and clay.

In his interpretation of the dream, Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar he was the head of gold. The identity of the kingdoms represented by the other body parts and metals was not revealed. The king is told that all of these earthly kingdoms would be destroyed by the “stone not fashioned by human hands,” and that an eternal kingdom would take the place of these temporal kingdoms. The subject of the vision in chapter 2 seems to be taken up again in chapter 7. The inter-relationship between the prophecies of chapters 2 and 7 is demonstrated on the following page:

THE FOUR KINGDOMS

C H A P T E R T W O

C H A P T E R S E V E N

Head of gold

The winged lion

Breast & arms of silver

The devouring bear

Belly & thighs of bronze

The winged leopard

Legs & feet of iron & clay

The indescribable beast

SIMILARITIES

A four-part statue

Four beasts

Statue represents kingdoms

Beasts represent kingdoms

Deterioration: Gold to iron mixed with clay

Deterioration: Nearly human to blaspheming beast

Statue destroyed

Beasts destroyed

Eternal Kingdom is established

Eternal kingdom is established

CONTRASTS

Nebuchadnezzar’s Vision

Daniel’s Vision

Daniel’s interpretation

Angel’s interpretation

Glorious statue

Horrible beasts

Human statue in four parts

Four (inhumane) beasts

Destroyed mysteriously by a stone

Destroyed in judgment by God

Daniel’s Dream
(7:1-14)

1 In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel saw a dream and visions in his mind as he lay on his bed; then he wrote the dream down and related the following summary of it. 2 Daniel said, “I was looking in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea. 3 And four great beasts were coming up from the sea, different from one another. 4 The first was like a lion and had the wings of an eagle. I kept looking until its wings were plucked, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a man; a human mind also was given to it. 5 And behold, another beast, a second one, resembling a bear. And it was raised up on one side, and three ribs were in its mouth between its teeth; and thus they said to it, ‘Arise, devour much meat!’ 6 After this I kept looking, and behold, another one, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird; the beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it. 7 After this I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong; and it had large iron teeth. It devoured and crushed, and trampled down the remainder with its feet; and it was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. 8 “While I was contemplating the horns, behold, another horn, a little one, came up among them, and three of the first horns were pulled out by the roots before it; and behold, this horn possessed eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth uttering great boasts. 9 I kept looking until thrones were set up, And the Ancient of Days took His seat; His vesture was like white snow, And the hair of His head like pure wool. His throne was ablaze with flames, Its wheels were a burning fire. 10 A river of fire was flowing And coming out from before Him; Thousands upon thousands were attending Him, And myriads upon myriads were standing before Him; The court sat, and the books were opened. 11 “Then I kept looking because of the sound of the boastful words which the horn was speaking; I kept looking until the beast was slain, and its body was destroyed and given to the burning fire. 12 “As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but an extension of life was granted to them for an appointed period of time. 13 “I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. 14 And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations, and men of every language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed.

The first recorded vision comes to Daniel in the form of a night vision, like those of Nebuchadnezzar (2:1; 4:5) during the first year of the reign of Belshazzar. How interesting! The vision comes to Daniel in Belshazzar’s first year. A subsequent and related vision comes to him in this king’s third year (see 8:1). The revelation of the “writing on the banquet hall wall,” already described in chapter 5, actually happened later, on the last day of Belshazzar’s life. According to verse 1, the written record of the revelation Daniel received in his first night vision is but a summary of the prophecy he received.

Belshazzar’s rise to power and ascent to the throne seems to have inaugurated a new age for Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar was the first ruler of Babylon to have contact with Daniel. Having gained an appreciation for Daniel and his three Hebrew friends, over a period he came to faith in their God. His declaration, which resulted from the deliverance of the three Hebrews, made it unlawful to hinder the worship of the Jews; his decree recorded at the end of chapter 4 went much further. It not only bore witness to the conversion of this king, but encouraged all of the subjects of Babylonian rule to worship the God of Israel.

I believe some in Babylon, like their king, came to a genuine faith in God. Many others may have reluctantly professed or actually adopted the Jewish religion. King Nebuchadnezzar died apparently nine years before Belshazzar came to power. Public sentiment was turning against this “foreign religion,” and the Babylonians, including Belshazzar, wanted a return to their “old time religion” —the pagan worship of the gods of Babylon. With the commencement of Belshazzar’s co-regency may have come not only a rejection of the Jewish faith and worship, but a new wave of persecution directed toward it. The toasting of the gods of the Babylonians with the sacred temple vessels, recorded in chapter 5, may have been Belshazzar’s final act of blasphemy. As we shall show later, the content of the prophecy of Daniel 7 is very closely related to the reign of Belshazzar. The words of verse 1 point to the relationship between the prophecy Daniel received and its historical setting and context.

In his vision, Daniel observed the sea being stirred up into a raging storm by the “four winds of heaven.” This signifies that the events which follow have been ordained by God. God stirred up the sea, and from its foaming, raging waters came forth four horrifying beasts. These beasts, each different from the other, are described in verses 4-7.

The first beast was lion-like, with wings like that of an eagle. Its wings were plucked from it; if this happened in mid-air, he must have plummeted to the ground. If not, he could never have become airborne again. The beast was lifted up and made to stand like a man. The beast also was given a man’s mind.

Generally, it is agreed that this beast represents the Babylonian empire and king Nebuchadnezzar in particular. This description certainly fits the account of Nebuchadnezzar’s plunge from power and sanity in chapter 4. While God tells neither Daniel nor us that this beast represents Nebuchadnezzar, He does reveal that the “head of gold” in the vision of the great statue was Nebuchadnezzar (2:36-38). Since the head of gold seems to describe the same king and kingdom as the first beast, it may not be too far afield to conclude that Nebuchadnezzar is the king represented by the first beast.

By far, this first beast is the best of a bad bunch. He is more beastly in the beginning and more human in the end, paralleling the character of Nebuchadnezzar. This also underscores that these four kingdoms go from reasonably good to unbelievably bad. The only human things mentioned of the fourth beast are his eyes and his mouth. His mouth is used to speak boastfully.

The second and third beasts are briefly described in verses 5 and 6. The second is bear-like. The precise meaning of the symbols of the raised side and the three ribs is illusive. Encouraged to do so, it savagely devours. The third beast is leopard-like, with four wings and four heads, and it is given dominion.

The fourth beast receives greater attention and is of the most interest to Daniel. Different from the first three, this beast seems uglier, more powerful, and much more hostile toward God and His saints. Daniel finds nothing to compare to it. With iron-like teeth, horns (some with eyes), and feet, it is utterly destructive. What it does not destroy or consume with its teeth, it crushes under foot, much like a bull in a china shop.

This fourth beast has the distinction of ten horns. As Daniel continues to watch, another horn emerges, as three of the other horns are plucked out by the roots to make room for it. Looking about with its numerous eyes, no one can escape his look or hide from him. With its mouth, the beast continues to speak boastfully.

The scene of the four beasts arising from the sea, which Daniel saw in his night vision, is strikingly similar to the account found in the 13th chapter of Revelation:

1 And he stood on the sand of the seashore, and I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns were ten diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names. 2 And the beast which I saw was like a leopard, and his feet were like those of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority. 3 And I saw one of his heads as if it had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed. And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast; 4 and they worshiped the dragon, because he gave his authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?” 5 And there was given to him a mouth speaking arrogant words and blasphemies; and authority to act for forty-two months was given to him. 6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, that is, those who dwell in heaven. 7 And it was given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them; and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him. 8 And all who dwell on the earth will worship him, every one whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain. 9 If any one has an ear, let him hear. 10 If any one is destined for captivity, to captivity he goes; if any one kills with the sword, with the sword he must be killed. Here is the perseverance and the faith of the saints (Revelation 13:1-10).

As the beast continues to boast, a second scene commences in Daniel’s vision, and for a period of time both scenes run simultaneously. The second scene portrays the establishment of the thrones on which the Ancient of Days and those holding court are to be seated to pronounce judgment.

In the first scene, heavenly winds are employed to whip up the sea from which the four beasts emerges. In the second scene, heaven calmly prepares for court, which will determine that the time for judgment has come. The beasts are a horrifying and frightening sight; the heavenly court scene is one of regal splendor and beauty. The beasts emerge out of chaos and confusion; the heavenly court is calm and dignified. This scene in Daniel is also similar to a prophecy recorded in the Book of Revelation:

4 and they worshiped the dragon, because he gave his authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?”

11 And I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon. 12 and he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed. 13 And he performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men. 14 And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life. 15 And there was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast might even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed (Revelation 13:4, 11-15).

Note that the description of the beasts is written in prose, while the description of the heavenly court in verses 9-10 and of the Son of Man in verses 13-14 is written in poetry form. The beasts are hardly worthy of prose, but the court of heaven deserves a description of the finest words.

The “horn” continues to sound off while the court is being set up for judgment. Suddenly, the boasting beast is silenced by death, and his body is cast into the burning fire. Even the fate of this fourth beast is different than his three predecessors, as his life and his kingdom seem to end at the same moment. The other three are removed from power but allowed to live for some time after their removal (verse 12).

As Daniel continues to watch, someone descends with the clouds of heaven, one like a “Son of Man.” He is presented to the Ancient of Days, and to Him is given dominion, glory, and the eternal kingdom. He will rule over all nations forever.

The expression, “son of man,” is not new to Daniel nor to the Jews of his day. Up to this time, it was simply a synonym for being human, a son of man. In the first use of this expression, being a “son of man” was contrasted with being God:

“God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? (Numbers 23:19)

The expression is used in the Psalms in a more pregnant way, in reference to the coming Messiah.

Let Thy hand be upon the man of Thy right hand, Upon the son of man whom Thou didst make strong for Thyself (Psalm 80:17).

Daniel uses the expression “Son of man” twice. The first time in Daniel 7:13, he is referring to Messiah, who will sit on the eternal throne of His father, David. The second time, the expression is used in reference to Daniel himself, as it will be used very frequently in Ezekiel to refer to this great prophet:

So he came near to where I was standing, and when he came I was frightened and fell on my face; but he said to me, “Son of man, understand that the vision pertains to the time of the end” (Daniel 8:17).

Then He said to me, “Son of man, stand on your feet that I may speak with you!” (Ezekiel 2:1).

Old Testament Jews would likely regard the reference to the “Son of Man” in Daniel 7 as a reference to the Messiah, although they would probably not understand Him to be both divine and human. Before the coming of Christ, who would? When Jesus came, He embraced this expression as a designation for Himself, giving the term meaning vastly beyond that previously held by any Jew.

A Divine Interpretation
(7:15-28)

15 “As for me, Daniel, my spirit was distressed within me, and the visions in my mind kept alarming me. 16 “I approached one of those who were standing by and began asking him the exact meaning of all this. So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of these things: 17 ‘These great beasts, which are four in number, are four kings who will arise from the earth. 18 ‘But the saints of the Highest One will receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, for all ages to come.’ 19 “Then I desired to know the exact meaning of the fourth beast, which was different from all the others, exceedingly dreadful, with its teeth of iron and its claws of bronze, and which devoured, crushed, and trampled down the remainder with its feet, 20 and the meaning of the ten horns that were on its head, and the other horn which came up, and before which three of them fell, namely, that horn which had eyes and a mouth uttering great boasts, and which was larger in appearance than its associates. 21 “I kept looking, and that horn was waging war with the saints and overpowering them 22 until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was passed in favor of the saints of the Highest One, and the time arrived when the saints took possession of the kingdom. 23 “Thus he said: ‘The fourth beast will be a fourth kingdom on the earth, which will be different from all the other kingdoms, and it will devour the whole earth and tread it down and crush it. 24 ‘As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings will arise; and another will arise after them, and he will be different from the previous ones and will subdue three kings. 25 ‘And he will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time. 26 ‘But the court will sit for judgment, and his dominion will be taken away, annihilated and destroyed forever. 27 ‘Then the sovereignty, the dominion, and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him.’ 28 “At this point the revelation ended. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts were greatly alarming me and my face grew pale, but I kept the matter to myself.”

Daniel’s response to the vision was far from assuring or calming. Some of his alarm arose from his not yet having been given the interpretation of his vision. Yet, his emotional response was valid and changed little after the vision was explained more fully.

This vision was an “interactive vision,” as Daniel was not only present in the vision but was able to approach one standing by to ask the meaning of what he saw. It seems safe to assume the interpreter was an angelic being; at least this is the case in chapter 8 (8:15-26). The interpretation of the events Daniel witnessed in his vision is given in its most concise form in verses 17 and 18: The four beasts were four kings, who will arise from the earth. In spite of these kings, the saints of the Highest One will possess the eternal kingdom forever and ever. In spite of all these beasts do and say, in spite of their power and even their success, neither they nor their kingdoms will last. The kingdom of God will be established and the saints will possess it forever.

The emphasis of this brief interpretation falls not on the enemies of God, their power, their brutality, nor their boasting, but on the kingdom of God, its certainty and its permanence for all the saints forever. The emphasis is positive. If Daniel had been shaken by the dark side of his vision, he is reminded in the interpretation of the outcome of these events—the establishment of God’s eternal kingdom.

The vision’s explanation was not thorough enough to satisfy Daniel. Desiring a more detailed explanation, he apparently asked for one and received it. Passing over the first three beasts, his questions focus on the last beast. He wants to know more about this dreadful beast, different from the rest, especially in the destruction he wrought. The ten horns are of interest to him, but most of all that final horn which arose, surpassing and replacing three others and speaking boastfully.

The vision plays on before Daniel, almost as though in answer to his desire to know more. The boastful beast becomes even more aggressive, waging war with the saints and even overpowering them. No wonder this vision causes Daniel such distress. This takes place until the Ancient of Days comes and judgment is given to the saints, at the time the eternal kingdom becomes their possession.

These are the things Daniel sees in the vision. Now, in verse 23, the angelic interpreter explains the relationship of the boastful beast and the coming of the eternal kingdom of God. The fourth beast is a fourth king, different than the others. He distinguishes himself by his ability to overcome the whole earth, crushing it under foot.

The ten horns, Daniel is told, represent ten kings who will emerge out of the fourth kingdom. An eleventh king then rises to power, different from the others, replacing three of the previous kings. This king’s boasting turns to blasphemy. He not only speaks against the Most High, he oppresses the saints. He intends to make changes in time and in law. Just what this means is unclear, but it suggests this arrogant king not only speaks against God, but, like Satan, he aspires to change the order God has established. He surpasses those before him by speaking boastfully, then blaspheming, and finally seeking to overthrow God’s order.

The final words of verse 25 are carefully chosen to let the reader know that while this king appears to be successfully opposing God, all he does is a part of the divine plan for the last days. The eleventh horn may hope to change the time, but in God’s plan this king is granted “a time, times, and half a time” —three and a half years to oppose and oppress the saints. God grants this king success and his saints suffering, but only for an appointed time.

When the court sits for judgment, his dominion is taken from him and he is destroyed forever. At this time the kingdom of God is established. The saints of the Highest One are given all the kingdoms of the earth for an everlasting kingdom. They will serve and obey Him forever.

Daniel’s vision ends here, but its impact on him does not end. His thoughts alarm him, and his face pales. Nevertheless, Daniel tells no one, keeping the matter to himself and suffering a quiet agony over the future events God has revealed to him.

Conclusion

The message of this prophecy is really quite simple and may be summed up this way. Before the kingdom of God is established on the earth, four earthly kingdoms will rise and fall. These kingdoms go from bad to worse. Arrogant, boastful, and even blasphemous kings will reign over the nations, opposing God and oppressing His saints. All of this is by divine design. During times of oppression, it may appear the saints are being defeated and that God’s kingdom is but wishful thinking. When the sin and oppression of evil men reaches a predetermined point, God will remove them and establish His promised eternal kingdom. Then the saints will receive the kingdom which will never end.

A number of lessons from our text have broad application to our thinking and conduct as Christians. Consider these lessons as we conclude.

(1) Prophecy is necessary because God has chosen to settle His accounts with men slowly. God is eternal, and so is His plan for all creation. God is in no hurry to fulfill His promises, (even though it only encompasses 6000 years,) whether His promise of the eternal kingdom for all the saints or the promise of eternal destruction and judgment for sinners. Prophecy is necessary then so that men are reassured of divine deliverance and blessing, as well as divine judgment (see 2 Peter 2:4-9). Through the ages, the saints have learned that they must wait for the promises of God to be fulfilled and that this may not happen in their lifetime (see Hebrews 11:13-16, 39-40). God may choose to delay judgment on the wicked until their sin reaches full bloom; the possession of the land of Canaan would not happen in Abraham’s lifetime, but more than 400 years later after the suffering of the people of God (see Genesis 15:12-17). God also allows the wicked to persist and even to prosper, so that those whom He has chosen might be saved (Romans 9:22-24). God’s plan and program are carried out on His schedule, not ours (see 2 Peter 2:8-10). Prophecy becomes necessary from time to time to remind men of those things God has planned for the future which He will surely fulfill.

(2) While the timing of the fulfillment of divine prophecy may seem remote to the recipient, it still has relevance for him. According to our text, the prophecies of Daniel 7 will not be fulfilled for a considerable period of time. Four kings will establish four kingdoms, and some of these kingdoms have a number of kings. The last kingdom has at least eleven kings. Centuries must therefore pass before the prophecies of Daniel are fulfilled.

The distance in time of the fulfillment of Daniel 7 said something very important to the captive Jews of Daniel’s day. It would be but a very few years until Cyrus would come to power and assist the Jews to return to Jerusalem and the land of Israel. In the euphoria of this grand event, someone might well conclude the kingdom of God was to be established within the lifetime of those returning to Israel. Our text challenges such a conclusion, and later prophecies in Daniel further document that the coming of the King and of the kingdom will be some time further in the future. In those days, as in our own, there are always those are too quick to conclude that the kingdom of God has come (see Matthew 24:4, 6, 8, 24-28; 2 Thessalonians 2:1ff.).

The kingdom of God would not be established in Daniel’s lifetime, nor in the life of those who returned to the land of Israel from their captivity. The prophecy of Daniel 7 nevertheless had great relevance and application to those in Daniel’s day. Nebuchadnezzar may have started badly, but by the time we read of him in Daniel 4 he seems to be a true believer in God, urging the citizens of his kingdom to worship and serve Him. For the remainder of Nebuchadnezzar’s life, it seems that religion in the kingdom of Babylon was at least favorable to the worship of the God of the Jews. While most of those in this kingdom may not have had a true conversion, at least they tolerated the Jewish faith as the religion of the state.

With the death of Nebuchadnezzar comes a change in the people’s attitudes, especially their leaders toward Judaism. Belshazzar came to power several years after the death of Nebuchadnezzar and seems to have turned completely away from the God of Israel. Consequently, it is little wonder that in the events recorded in Daniel 5, Belshazzar was ignorant of Daniel and the abilities God had given him. He only called on him in a moment of sheer panic when no one else could help, and only then because of the recommendation of the queen mother.

The reign of Belshazzar was, in some measure, a foretaste of what was yet to come in full measure during the reign of the fourth beast, especially of the eleventh horn. Would this horn Daniel’s vision revealed oppose the people of God and even blaspheme God Himself? God would strike him down in the moment of His choosing to silence him once and for all and put an end to his kingdom. Would Belshazzar toast the gods of gold, silver, wood and stone with the sacred temple vessels? God would strike him down suddenly too and bring his kingdom to a swift end. The prophecies of Daniel 7 speak of a future day of reckoning, foreshadowed by the actions of Belshazzar and the judgment of God on him and his kingdom.

As I read through the statements men have made about the God of Israel in the first six chapters of Daniel, I find that what men came to know and to acknowledge through history, God declares through prophecy. I encourage you to compare the statements of Daniel 2:21-22, 44, 47; 4:3, 34-35, 37; 6:26 with the content and declarations of Daniel 7. What God declares in prophecy, He reveals as well in history. We are in harmony with God when our declarations conform to his. Those of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar, and Darius all agree with the prophecy of Daniel 7. God is able to raise up kings and put them down. God will establish His kingdom, and that kingdom, unlike the kingdoms of men, is eternal.

(3) The finest commentary on the prophecy of Daniel 7 comes from our Lord Himself. In the Old Testament, the expression “son of man” was used most frequently in reference to men, who were merely (as opposed to God) human. In the Psalms and also in Daniel 7, the expression “Son of Man” begins to take on a more technical meaning, referring to the Messiah, who will sit on the throne of His father, David, to rule over men forever.

When the Lord Jesus Christ came to earth, having added perfect humanity to His undiminished deity, He spoke of Himself very often as “the Son of Man.” In the Gospels, Jesus began not only to identify Himself as the Messiah, the promised “Son of Man,” but also to explain all that this involved. The Son of Man had the power to forgive sins, as well as to heal a paralytic (Matthew 9:6). The Son of Man was also “Lord of the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:8). He would rise from the dead (12:40). He will also send forth His angels to gather those who do not belong in His kingdom (12:41). He questioned His disciples so that they could confess that He, the Son of Man, was the Messiah (16:13f.). He would, after His death, burial, and resurrection come in His glory, rewarding men according to their deeds (16:27). His disciples were promised that they would share in His reign as King (19:20). The transfiguration of our Lord was but a foretaste of His coming glorious kingdom (16:28). When He came with His kingdom, they would be sure to recognize Him (24:27). However, the Son of Man must first suffer at the hands of men (17:22; 20:18).

Those who rejected the Lord Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of Man, would mourn when they saw Him returning in the clouds:

And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory (Matthew 24:30).

As the destruction of the last beast and the blaspheming horn came as a complete shock to them, so the Lord’s coming will catch unbelievers unprepared as well (24:27-39). His followers too must be alert and ready for His return (24:44).

In my opinion, the most dramatic reference of our Lord to His identity as the Son of Man comes as the Lord Jesus stands on trial before the Sanhedrin and the high priest:

59 Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, in order that they might put Him to death; 60 and they did not find it, even though many false witnesses came forward. But later on two came forward, 61 and said, “This man stated, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to rebuild it in three days.’” 62 And the high priest stood up and said to Him, “Do You make no answer? What is it that these men are testifying against You?” 63 But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest said to Him, “I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.” 64 Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you shall see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, AND COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN” (Matthew 26:59-64).

In His response to the demand of the high priest, Jesus directly claimed to be the promised Messiah. That was bad enough, from the religious leaders’ perspective, but the way in which He answered them was the last straw. Jesus quoted the words of Daniel 7:13. They surely knew this text to be messianic, but they had always applied it to the Gentiles. They believed that the Messiah would come to establish the kingdom, to bless the Jews and to condemn the Gentiles. Jesus applied this text to them, not as those who would enter into His kingdom, but as those who would be judged at His return. No wonder His words stung and prompted them to act as they did. For the time, it was these Jewish leaders who were beastly, arrogant, and blasphemous, and because of this they would suffer divine judgment. The words of Daniel which applied to the beasts now found application to them.

(4) Suffering is to be expected by the saints, before they enter into the glorious kingdom of God. Daniel 7 indicates in the clearest way that prior to the coming of the kingdom of God the saints will suffer at the hand of the final “horn” and even be overpowered by him. Wherever I see the Scriptures speak of the coming kingdom of God, I find suffering closely associated with it. Before the Israelites were delivered out of Egypt and brought into the land of Canaan, they suffered at the hands of the Egyptians. Our deliverance from the power of sin and the penalty of death has been accomplished by our Lord, who suffered in our place. Those who will reign with Christ are those who have suffered (see Romans 8:17;Philippians 3:10-11; 2 Timothy 2:12). Suffering is an inseparable part of the process which leads to glory. So it was for our Lord (1 Peter 1:10-12), and so it will be for us.

(5) Prophecy is not written as hype but revealed to produce the hope of glory and endurance in present tribulation. Prophecy is not a pep rally, which generates a great burst of short-term enthusiasm but does little to inspire faith and endurance in the midst of suffering. Neither is prophecy written to make us happy or to feel good. Daniel’s response is testimony to this reality.

(6) Prophecy is written to sober the saints. Prophecy speaks not only of the joys and glories of God’s kingdom to come but of the suffering and tribulation preceding the eternal blessings of the kingdom of God. In the context of the coming of His kingdom and the suffering and trials which precede it, soberness is a vitally important quality which prophecy promotes:

1 Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. 2 For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. 3 While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like birth pangs upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day should overtake you like a thief; 5 for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; 6 so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. 7 For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night. 8 But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation (1 Thessalonians 5:1-8).

Therefore, gird your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:13).

The end of all things is at hand; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer (1 Peter 4:7).

(7) Prophecy is revealed, not to give us the particulars of things to come, but to change our perspective. Prophecy is necessary because God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, and His ways are not our ways. We could never predict the goals God has determined, nor the means He has ordained for history to reach them. Prophecy reveals that which we would not and could not expect apart from divine revelation.

In God’s economy, things are not what they appear to be. We do not walk by sight, but by faith. We do not act on what we see so much as on what God has said. Abraham and Sarah were elderly and childless. Humanly speaking, it was impossible for them to have a child. And yet God said they would. And they did! Abraham had to believe and behave on the basis of God’s promises, rather than on the basis of his perception.

As the boasting horn of Daniel 7 seems to be getting away with his blasphemies and his oppression of the saints, it seems to him he can do whatever he wishes, including the changing of times and law. As the wicked prosper in their sin, it seems as though they can continue in sin without any fear of divine judgment (see Psalm 73:1-11; 2 Peter 2:3-4). Their perception is wrong, for suddenly and without warning their day of destruction will come upon them. When that day comes for them, it is too late to repent.

As the saints suffer at the hands of the wicked, it may appear all hope is lost. It may seem to them that their defeat is certain and that their hopes of entering into the eternal kingdom are lost. Things are not as they appear to be! When we expect it least, the Lord will return, the wicked will be punished, and the kingdom of God established forevermore.

I have heard a number of attempts to explain the “gaps” in Old Testament prophecy. One of those gaps is found in Daniel 7. The coming of the Son of Man is represented as one coming, and not two. We know that Jesus came the first time to die and that He will come again to subdue His enemies and establish His kingdom. We are told the Old Testament prophet could not see the distance between the first and the second coming of our Lord, just as one cannot see the distance between two mountains, when viewed from afar.

Considering this text has changed my opinion about the “gap” in the prophecies of the Old Testament. The gap is not the prophet’s problem; it is ours. The Old Testament prophet did not see the gap because he viewed the coming of Christ as God does. From an eternal perspective, the coming of Christ and His kingdom is but one coming. Our Lord’s first coming happened over a period of more than 30 years, and yet we view this as one coming. If, in God’s eyes, a day is as 1,000 years and 1,000 years as a day (2 Peter 3:8), then the coming of our Lord has only been a few days from beginning to end.

We see a gap—an almost insurmountable gap—between suffering and glory; God does not. Suffering and glory are a part of one work. Just so, Christ’s suffering and glory is but a part of one coming. Prophecy greatly benefits the Christian because it enables him to see things from the bigger and broader perspective—from God’s perspective—so that when he suffers, he knows it is but a part of the process of getting to glory.

Consider the birth of a child, remembering that God’s deliverance and salvation is likened to birth. The process of having a baby involves the pains of childbirth. They are far from pleasant but an unavoidable part of the process. The woman endures in the view of the final outcome of the process. When the child is born, the pains of suffering are quickly lost in the joys of seeing a new life, or a couple of hours of pain compared to many years of child rearing. Child-bearing is a process which involves suffering and glory. Salvation is likewise a process involving suffering—and then glory.

Prophecy is revealed to men to change their perspective, to urge them to see things as God sees them rather than as they appear to the human eye. We are not to base our thinking and actions on circumstances, but upon the Scriptures. What God says, He will do. History has shown this to be true in the past, and prophecy assures us that it will be true in the future. Let us listen then, and be sober, enduring the sufferings and trials sent our way, looking expectantly and certainly for His kingdom to come.

Daniel’s Disturbing Dream
Questions and Answers

(1) Why does Daniel indicate the historical setting of the vision he receives in chapter 7?

In verse 1 Daniel indicates his vision came to him in the first year of the reign of Belshazzar. The vision recorded in chapter 8 took place in the third year of Belshazzar. The account of the writing on the wall and the death of Belshazzar (obviously the last year of his reign) is found in Daniel 5.

Prophecy is not revealed in a historical vacuum. While most prophecies in the Bible reveal events which will take place after the death of the recipient of the prophecy, the prophecy is revealed for impact upon those to whom it was revealed. Prophecy is always practical and relevant to the person(s) receiving it.

At the outset of the account of his vision, Daniel wants his reader to know the historical context in which this prophecy was given and to consider its interpretation and application in the light of that context. Specifically, the account of “The Bad News at Belshazzar’s Banquet” (not a bad title for that lesson) in chapter 5 was given to us so that we could better understand the prophecies of chapters 7 and 8. We will deal with the meaning and application of Daniel’s vision later on in our questions and answers.

(2) Why do you think Daniel summarized his dream when he wrote it rather than tell it in full (see verse 1)?

Editing is often evident in the Bible (see John 20:30-31; 31:25). Editing allows an author to set aside details which are not significant and focus on the essence of the message he is trying to communicate. Daniel boiled down his vision to its essence, so we would not fail to understand the message he meant to convey to us.

(3) What principles should guide and govern our attempt to interpret the prophecy of this chapter?

First, the prophecies of Daniel are divinely inspired and revealed, and thus they are true and reliable. Second, the prophecies of Daniel are to be understood in the light of the entire Book of Daniel, of the Old Testament, and of the Bible as a whole. Thirdly (and most importantly), the prophecies of Daniel mean exactly what God says they mean, nothing more and nothing less. The prophecy of this chapter is divinely interpreted. God has revealed in this interpretation what He wants us to know and has kept back that which we need not know. We dare not ignore that which is revealed nor do we dare go too far afield in speculating about what is concealed (see Deuteronomy 29:29; 1 Timothy 1:4; 2 Timothy 2:23).

(4) What is the structure of Daniel 7?

The chapter falls into two major parts. Verses 1-14 contain the vision which God gave to Daniel. Verses 15-28 contain the divine interpretation of this vision.

(5) What do the four beasts represent? How was the fourth beast different from the first three?

Each of the four beasts represent a king and thus a resulting kingdom. Each beast has its own unique characteristics. The fourth beast appears to differ from the other three in that he is more beastly, more powerful, more destructive, and more arrogant. This beast is also unique among the four in that he grows 11 horns. These horns are also kings, from whom kingdoms arise (verse 24). This fourth beast seems to regenerate in the form of subsequent kings and kingdoms. His final offspring, so to speak, is the little horn which becomes the great blasphemer, whose life and kingdom is suddenly cut off by the Ancient of Days and the Son of Man.

(6) How important is it for us to identity the kings and the kingdoms mentioned in our text? Are we supposed to discover their identity?

Daniel was told that the beasts are kings, but he was not told the identity of any of the kings. There is fairly strong inferential evidence that Nebuchadnezzar was represented by the first beast, the winged lion. The point of this prophecy is not to tell us who future kings will be, but rather what they will be like. Until God’s eternal kingdom is established, kingdoms will progress from bad to worse. These kings will rise to power and dominate the earth. In the latter days, an unusually powerful and evil king will arise, who will blaspheme God and oppress the people of God. When his appointed time is over, God will destroy this king and his kingdom and establish His eternal kingdom on the earth. This is what we need to know from Daniel’s vision, rather than the identity of the beasts.

(7) Who is the Ancient of Days? Who is the Son of Man? What role do they play in relation to the four beasts?

The Ancient of Days is a designation for God, not found elsewhere in the Bible. This designation refers to God the Father in a way that stresses His eternality, dignity, and power. It is virtually the opposite of the term “beast.” The expression, “Son of man,” is not new to Daniel. In Ezekiel, and even in Daniel (8:17), it is used in reference to a prophet. Usually it refers to a person as a human being. But here in chapter 7, as in Psalm 80:17, the “son of man” is more than just a man, He is the Messiah. When the Lord Jesus came to the earth, He often referred to Himself as the Son of Man, gradually making it clear that He was the Messiah who was God incarnate.

When the iniquity of the blasphemous horn reaches full bloom and his appointed time to rule is fulfilled, God will destroy him, casting his body into the fire. It is at this time that all human kingdoms will become subject to God and to the saints in the eternal kingdom, which the Son of Man will establish when He comes to the earth to judge and to rule.

(8) Is there any relationship between Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in chapter 2 and Daniel’s dream in chapter 7?

There seems to be a close connection between the vision of Nebuchadnezzar, which is revealed and interpreted in chapter 2, and the vision of Daniel in chapter 7. The statue has four parts; there are four beasts. Both the statue parts (made of different metals) and the beasts represent kings and kingdoms. Both series of four kingdoms begin well and end badly. Both sets of kingdoms are brought to a sudden end and are replaced by an eternal kingdom. It therefore seems that the two prophecies speak of the same four kingdoms by means of different imagery. The latter prophecy of Daniel 7 adds many more details than were revealed in chapter 2.

(9) What is the relationship between Daniel’s vision in chapter 7 and the events described in Daniel 5?

The blasphemous horn of Daniel 7, which goes so far as to oppose the people of God, is suddenly taken by death, and his kingdom is removed. In a similar way, Belshazzar becomes blasphemous and is suddenly removed by God for his wickedness. The death of this king brings about the end of his kingdom. Daniel 5 is an illustration and a prototype of what will happen in the end times, as described in the prophecy of Daniel 7. The fulfillment of the prophecy of Belshazzar’s demise underscores the certainty of the fulfillment of Daniel’s vision in the last days.

(10) What effect did the vision have on Daniel, and why?

Daniel is greatly distressed by the vision which he sees in chapter 7. We are not told precisely what it is that troubles Daniel. From the context, it would seem that Daniel’s distress is the result of the wickedness and oppression of the world kingdoms which are represented by the beasts, and by the knowledge that the saints will be oppressed and even overcome for a period of time. The fact that wicked men will prosper and prevail and that the righteous will suffer is hardly pleasant news.

(11) What is the point of the vision? What is its message to Daniel, to the Jews, and to us?

In the latter days, before the kingdom of God is established on the earth, kings and kingdoms will become worse and worse. The wicked will prosper and appear to get away with their opposition toward God and His saints. The righteous will suffer. But in the end, God will judge the wicked and establish His kingdom for His saints.

The saints should expect to suffer because of their faith, especially as the last days for the kingdoms of men draw near. The saints should also expect the wicked to prosper, for a season. The saints should neither believe nor behave on the basis of how things appear to be (the wicked prospering and prevailing over the righteous). The saints must believe and behave according to what God has promised about the future —the righteous will possess the kingdom of God forever.

Amen! Even so Lord Jesus Come Soon!

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Keys of the Kingdom

The biblical passage that makes reference to the “keys of the kingdom” is Matthew 16:19. Jesus had asked His disciples who people thought He was. After responding with several of the more popular opinions, Jesus aimed His question directly at His disciples. Peter, responding for the twelve, acknowledged Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God. After this great confession, Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:17-19).

Keys are used to lock or unlock doors. The specific doors Jesus has in mind in this passage are the doors to the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus is laying the foundation of His church (Ephesians 2:20). The disciples will be the leaders of this new institution, and Jesus is giving them the authority to, as it were, open the doors to heaven and invite the world to enter. At this point it is important to understand how, biblically speaking, one enters the Kingdom of Heaven.

Jesus said that, unless one is born again, he will not see the Kingdom of Heaven (John 3:3). One is born again as the Holy Spirit works through the Word of God to bring about new life in a dead sinner. The content of the message is the substitutionary death of Christ and His subsequent resurrection (Romans 10:9-10). So the faithful preaching of the gospel is the key to the kingdom.

In Matthew 16:19, Jesus is specifically addressing Peter, so it is significant that, in the book of Acts, Peter figures prominently in the “opening of doors” to three different groups of people so they can enter the Kingdom. In Acts 2; it is Peter who preaches in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost; about three thousand Jewish people are saved that day. Peter’s preaching had “unlocked the door” of heaven for the Jews. Later, in Acts 8; the Samaritans believe the gospel and receive the Holy Spirit; again, Peter (and John) was present for this event. Peter had “unlocked the door” for the Samaritans. Then, in Acts 10; Peter brings the gospel to a Roman centurion’s household, and they, too, receive the Holy Spirit. Peter had “unlocked the door” for the Gentiles. The “keys” that Jesus had given him worked in each case.

Of course, keys can be used to lock doors as well as open them. Part of the gospel message is that faith is necessary. Without faith in Christ, the door to heaven is shut and barred (see John 3:18). As the apostles preached the gospel, those who responded in faith and repentance were granted access to the Kingdom of Heaven; yet those who continued to harden their hearts and reject the gospel of God’s saving grace were shut out of the Kingdom (Acts 8:23).

The context of Matthew 16 also refers to a “binding and loosing.” To better understand this concept, we turn to Matthew 18:15-20, where Jesus gives the guidelines for church discipline, using the same “binding and loosing” language we find in Matthew 16. The apostles were not to usurp Christ’s authority over individual believers and their eternal destiny, but they were to exercise authority to discipline erring believers and, if necessary, excommunicate disobedient church members. Based on God’s Word, believers today can declare an unrepentant sinner to be unsaved (“bound”) and a repentant believer in Jesus Christ to be saved (“loosed”). The binding or loosing, based on one’s rejection or acceptance of the gospel, reflects heaven’s perspective on the matter. In heaven, Christ ratifies what is done in His name and in obedience to His Word on earth.

Keys of the KingdomGod’s will is that sinners be granted access to heaven through the righteousness of Christ. Consider Jesus’ warning to the Pharisees: “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in” (Matthew 23:13). If the gospel message is distorted or ignored, or if unrepentant sin is not adequately disciplined, the doors to the Kingdom of Heaven are being shut in people’s faces.

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Salvation Created by Faith or is Faith Created by Salvation

The offer of salvation was created when Jesus Christ died on the cross in our place – Jesus is the founder of our salvation. (Heb 2:10-11, Rev 19:1-3, 1 John 1:1-4, Titus 1:1-3) He made it possible for us to be delivered from slavery to sin, and instead be adopted as sons of God. (Is 46:13, Rom 7:6, Rom 8:1-4, I John 3:1-10).

Salvation is used in several different senses in scripture (deliverance from slavery to sin, deliverance from bondage to the law, etc) but primarily it refers to the salvation of our souls and eternal life that we will someday inherit. (1 Peter 1:3-9, Heb 1:14, Jude 1:20-23, Luke 20:24-38, Rom 8:18-25). The holy spirit is the down payment that God will indeed give us eternal life someday (II Cor 1:18-22).

God brought salvation through Christ, not through man (Heb 11:32-40, Isaiah 63:5, Titus 3:3-8). However, we do need faith to receive salvation (I Pet 1:3-9, John 3:14-17, II Tim 2:10-13, II Tim 3:10-17, I John 2:24-25, Rom 1:16-17, Gal 3:7-14, Rom 10:5-13). Faith itself does not ‘create’ salvation. [Indeed, faith is the persuasion that it is Christ who has the power to save us].

“He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.” Gal 3:14

Salvation did not create faith, either. Rather, the eternal plan of salvation was revealed in Christ, and it is in His revealed sacrifice that we must have faith (John 3:14-15, II Cor 5:14-15, I Pet 1:3-5, Rom 10:5-15)

Faith is our belief and trust that Jesus is who He says He is, and that therefore we should accept His sacrifice, follow Him as Lord, and hope for His promises. (Rom 10:5-13, Heb 11:1-6, John 6:28-29) Even many of the OT people had faith in the promises of God, including the promise of a Messiah (Heb 11).

By analogy:

“Bob” lives in a landlocked country and has never seen the ocean. Despite this, he firmly believes that the ocean is real (based on the testimony of neighbors who have visited, pictures in books, etc). He decides to sell his house and, sight unseen, buy a new house in another country by the beach. After a long journey, he arrives and now can confirm by sight that the ocean is real.

Did the ocean create Bob’s belief? No – though the testified existence of the ocean certainly was a factor to why he believed it was real. Conversely, did Bob’s belief in the ocean create the ocean? [Certainly not]. His belief was necessary, though, for him to leave the land he grew up in, take a long trip to a beach he had never seen, and take up residence in his new home.

In summary:

It is necessary to have abiding faith in Christ to receive salvation, but faith does not ‘create’ salvation. Neither does salvation create faith.Christ alone, by the mercy and grace of God, completed everything necessary for our deliverance from sin and adoption as sons of God by His death and Resurrection. God created this plan before time even began.

Romans 10:9 ” That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved”. Romans 10:10 ” For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Romans 10:13 ” For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved”. Romans 10:14 ” How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?”. Romans 10:15 ” And how shall they preach, except they be sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things”. Romans 10:16 ” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? Romans 10:17 ” So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

1 Corinthians 2:14 “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned”.

Ephesians 1:13 “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise”. Ephesians 1:14 “Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory”. Ephesians 1:18 “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints”.

It is clear from scripture that the unregenerate, unsaved have no ability to comprehend much less believe the gospel message without the quickening or life giving power of the Holy Spirit first opening one’ s eyes to their fallen condition. So you see, salvation is the easy part once we truly realize we are lost. It is pure grace whereby we are saved. Faith is the vehicle that gives us the understanding.

I believe Ephesians 1:13 explains the sequence. “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise”.

1. We hear the saving gospel, the Word.
2. We put our trust in Christ’s vicarious sacrifice.
3. We believe in him with all our heart.
4. We are then sealed by the Holy Spirit.

Our faith does not sustain salvation. It is the faithfulness of the Lord God who keeps us secure. 2 Timothy 2:13 “If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.”

Philippians 1:6 “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:”

A Light to bring Revelation to the GentilesHebrews 11:1 ” Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”.  Hebrews 12:2 ” Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Like Jesus said on the cross: “It is finished”.

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True Wisdom

While I was a trades teacher in a shop, the opportunity arose to very naturally explain the essence of the gospel. Never before have I received the reaction I did that day from two men in particular. They found what I was saying incredibly stupid as, in a very distinct “New Joisey” twang, one carpenter exclaimed to the other, “Ain’t that somethin’ man? Ain’t that somethin’?” This man’s reaction to the gospel was far more honest than most, for a great many non-Christians feel exactly the same way about the gospel but are simply too polite, or too afraid, to say so. In the confines on that job, those two men could have cared less about what I thought of them, and so they very plainly expressed exactly what they thought of my religious beliefs.

In the first chapter of his first Epistle to the Corinthians, Paul exposes and then confronts the problem of divisions within in the church at Corinth. He renounces divisions as contrary to the gospel. Further, Paul implies that the underlying problem is pride. Individuals took pride in the one whom they chose to follow. As Paul later says, they have “become arrogant in behalf of one against the other” (4:6). In verses 18-31 of the first chapter, Paul argued that pride and the gospel are incompatible. The world will never esteem the gospel or those who embrace it because it is contradictory to all they highly esteem. The Jews, who are impressed by power, wanted signs (of power). A crucified Christ was certainly not a demonstration of power but of weakness. The Greeks were impressed by intellectualism, by wisdom. To them, there was nothing wise about the gospel. It was foolishness to believe that faith in a crucified criminal could save anyone from their sins.

Paul has challenged the Corinthian saints to look around the church and observe that those most esteemed by the world are strangely absent in the church. By and large, the church is not composed of wise men, scholars, and debaters of the day. The church is not made up of the cultural elite. In verses 26-31, Paul urges the saints to look around them in the church to see who is present. The church is not made up of the upper crust of society but rather the rejected and despised of society. Of course there are exceptions, but the rule is clear: “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are” (verses 27-28). This is so that no man may boast, but God may receive the glory for what He accomplishes through those most unlikely to succeed in this world.

One might conclude from what Paul has said that the gospel really is foolish and weak. Not at all! This is only the way the world perceives the gospel. In chapter 2, Paul reveals that weakness and simplicity are not the end of the story but the beginning. It is through the weakness of proclaiming the gospel that the wisdom and power of God are made manifest. The world regards God’s wisdom as foolish because it is incapable of comprehending or accepting its truths. God’s wisdom is a mystery which the unsaved cannot grasp, and no one would have known apart from divine revelation. Through His Spirit, God has revealed Himself to men. The Spirit who searches the depths of God has been given in a special way to the apostles. Through these inspired men, divine thoughts have been translated into divine words. Those who possess the Spirit by faith in Christ can appraise the spiritual truths of Scripture; those who are unsaved, and thus without the Spirit, cannot. No wonder they think God’s wisdom is foolish. They cannot understand it—or God. But we who have the Scriptures and the Spirit have the mind of Christ.

Paul’s Conduct at His First Coming
(2:1-5)

1 And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. 4 And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.

The Corinthians now look upon Paul somewhat like a teenager views his or her parents. Paul is not wise but simplistic. He lacks the charm and charisma which makes his spiritual children proud of him, and thus they have begun to listen to others who have a higher level of esteem, especially by their peers. Paul seeks to correct their wayward thinking by reminding them that he is the same Paul who came to them at the beginning, preaching to them the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was through his simplistic message and methods that the Corinthians, once pagans, became saints. Paul now reminds them of his message and manner when he first came to them which resulted in their salvation.

When he came, Paul did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom. He did not come with “high fullutin” words or thoughts, nor did he employ oratorical embellishments which would draw attention to himself and to his methods. Paul came with a simple, straightforward approach which sought to make the message, not the messenger, primary. He came to them “proclaiming the testimony of God” (verse 1). That is, he came to them preaching the gospel in simple terms, without sensationalizing it.

In verse 3, Paul turns his attention from his message and method to his mind set. He describes the attitude with which he came to the Corinthians with the gospel. If the charlatans of that day had lived in our own time, they would have worn expensive clothing, had a recent face-lift, a self-assured manner, and an omnipresent smile. They would have exuded confidence and composure. But this would not be so with Paul. When Paul first came to Corinth, he worked as a blue collar laborer making tents with Aquila. His mind set was characterized by his threefold description: weakness, fear, and much trembling. He may have come with a physical weakness, for it does seem as though Paul suffered from some physical affliction (see 2 Corinthians 12:7-10). In addition, I believe Paul came to Corinth with a clear sense of his own limitations, knowing that the salvation and sanctification of men could only be accomplished by the miraculous intervention of God.

Paul also characterized his coming as “in fear and much trembling.” We know there were fears, as Luke indicates to us. After previous persecution in other cities, Paul came to Corinth where he again faced opposition. But the Lord appeared to Paul with these words of assurance: “Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent; 10 for I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city” (Acts 18:9b-10).

I have always thought of Paul as a kind of “pit bull” evangelist. Some dogs have no courage at all, while others may sound awesome but when threatened or harmed they protect themselves by backing off. Still other dogs—like the pit bull—will continue to fight until they are dead. How easy it is to think of Paul in this way, as invincible and undaunting. But Luke’s words indicate otherwise. Paul was a man of like passions with our own. He too had fears. But our Lord’s words of assurance enabled him to press on in spite of his fears.

The expression, “fear and trembling,” seems to mean more than just “fear” and “trembling” combined.

33 But the woman fearing and trembling, aware of what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him, and told Him the whole truth (Mark 5:33).

15 And his affection abounds all the more toward you, as he remembers the obedience of you all, how you received him with fear and trembling (2 Corinthians 7:15).

5 Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ (Ephesians 6:5).

12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:12-13).

21 And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, “I am full of fear and trembling” (Hebrews 12:21).

The expression seems to convey the realization on the part of the person fearing and trembling that he or she is of a lower rank, a lower position than the one who is feared. The woman who had been healed by touching Jesus (Mark 5:33) seems to have realized not only that she had been healed, but in being thus healed, she came to recognize the greatness of the One who produced the healing. Slaves should submit to their masters with fear and trembling, recognizing that God has put them under the authority of their masters. We are told by Paul to “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling,” knowing that it is ultimately not our working or even our willing, but God’s sovereign work in us which causes us to will and to work His good pleasure.

Pride was the underlying reason for the divisions in Corinth. People took pride in following the right leader, the leader who spoke words of wisdom with oratorical skill who also had status and esteem among the unbelievers. Paul speaks of himself as a humble man, a man with no confidence in his own abilities, in his own message or methods, but whose trust is in God alone. Paul proclaims Christ, knowing that apart from the working of God in the hearts of men, nothing eternal will happen.

Paul’s actions in Corinth were purposeful, not accidental or haphazard. It was not that Paul was ignorant or uneducated, nor was it that Paul only knew about Christ and Christ crucified (verse 2). Paul determined that this was all he would know while ministering in Corinth (or anywhere else). He chose to limit his knowledge to those truths which would save men from their sins and transfer them from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. Even though many would be impressed by his knowledge in areas which the unbelievers believed to be wisdom, Paul determined not to know such things and thus not to preach them.

Paradoxically, Paul came to the Corinthians in weakness, fear, and much trembling so that the power of God might be demonstrated (verse 4). If Paul’s human skills were dominant in his preaching, Paul’s power would be displayed. But when Paul came in weakness proclaiming a message men deemed foolish and men were converted, it was evident it was the result of the supernatural power of God and not the merely human power of Paul. Paul has much more to say on this subject later, especially in 2 Corinthians 12, but for now we should note that Paul’s weakness was not a hindrance to the demonstration of God’s power but the means through which God’s power was displayed. God’s power is manifested through human weakness.

Paul did not want to make disciples; that is, Paul did not want people to be his followers. His goal was for men and women to trust in Jesus Christ for salvation and to become His followers, His disciples. If men were converted because of Paul’s wisdom and because of his persuasive skills, they could then be led astray by anyone who was wiser and more persuasive. Paul’s desire was that men would place their faith in God and in His power (verse 5).

God's WisdomGod’s Wisdom and the Wisdom of This Age
(2:6-9)

6 Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; 7 but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom, which God predestined before the ages to our glory; 8 the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; 9 but just as it is written, “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, And which have not entered the heart of man, All that God has prepared for those who love Him.”

At verse 6, Paul changes from the first person singular (“I”) to the first person plural (“we”). Verses 1-6 spoke of Paul’s mind set, message, and methods when he first came to Corinth with the gospel. Now in verse 6, Paul speaks for more than just himself. I understand the “we” to refer principally to the apostles.30 As further developments in this epistle and 2 Corinthians will show, the real struggle was not with Corinthian cliques, each of which had chosen to follow a different apostle, but with those in Corinth who had turned from the apostles to other teachers, of which some will prove to be “false apostles” (2 Corinthians 11:12-15).

What characterizes Paul that is so offensive to some of the Corinthians, causing them to follow other leadership? It is Paul’s “simplistic” devotion to Christ crucified. Paul has chosen to be a kind of “Johnny-one-note,” and the note he continues to play is offensive to both Jews and Gentiles. Consequently, for a Corinthian Christian to identify with the apostle Paul is to embrace that which is foolish and weak to the unbelieving mind, whether Jew or Gentile. To identify with Paul and his preaching is to become a fool in the eyes of the world, which has no status. And so some are tempted to identify with new leaders whose methods and message are far more acceptable. Associating with them gives one a much higher status.

Paul does not deny that his message and methods are foolish; rather, he emphasizes this is so. But in moving to the first person plural (“we”), Paul links himself, his message, and his methods with all of the other apostles. Paul’s message and methods are no different from those of his fellow apostles. He speaks with and for all the apostles as he admonishes the Corinthians.

At verse 6, Paul makes another shift in his emphasis. Up to this point, Paul has granted the fact that his gospel is foolish and weak. Now he begins to clarify and expand his instruction. The apostolic gospel is foolish and weak to unbelievers, but it is neither foolish nor weak in the sight of God. Neither should it be regarded as foolish nor weak in the sight of the saints. In verse 6, Paul insists that the apostles do speak wisdom. This wisdom is not for all, however. There are two groups from whom apostolic wisdom is withheld. The first group is those who are immature (verse 6). In chapter 3, verse 1, Paul plainly tells the Corinthians they are “men of flesh,” “babes in Christ,” and in verse 3, he contends that they still remain in the same condition. Did the Corinthians chafe because Paul’s message was too simple? It was because the simple things were all they were able to grasp. The problem was not with Paul or his colleagues; the problem was with the Corinthians.

The second group from whom apostolic wisdom is withheld is those who are unbelievers (2:6). Paul says the wisdom the apostles preach is not of “this age.” Consequently, the rulers of “this age” are not able to grasp it. Even those who are the wisest and most powerful people of this age are unable to grasp it. This is evident at the cross of Calvary. There, at the cross, the rulers of this age rejected Jesus as the Messiah as God’s means of salvation. God’s “wisdom” was never more clearly manifested to men than in the person of Jesus Christ, but the best of this age were not able to see it. It is obvious that they did not receive this “Wisdom” because they crucified Him.

Paul’s words here help us to distinguish between God’s wisdom and worldly wisdom. God’s wisdom was revealed in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ at His first coming, but the world rejected Him and the wisdom He manifested. The wisdom of God is “eternal wisdom,” a wisdom established in eternity past yet to be fully implemented when Christ’s kingdom is established on the earth. The wisdom of this world is “empirical wisdom,” based upon that which can be seen and heard and touched. The wisdom of God is otherwise. It is not seen by the naked eye, it cannot be heard with the ears, it cannot be fathomed by the natural mind. It surpasses even man’s imagination. It is other worldly. This should not come as a surprise to the Christian, for the prophet Isaiah indicated as much in the citation which Paul includes in verse 9.

Let me pause to reflect further on this concept of the “other worldliness” of God’s wisdom. Do we not tend to think of heaven as an extension of earth’s joys? Most people who believe in heaven think of it as the place where they will be reunited with their family and friends. And yet, when Jesus spoke to the Sadducees, he chided them for their ignorance because they supposed marriage would continue on into eternity (Matthew 22:23-33; see also 1 Corinthians 7:25-35). Are we perplexed when we find prophecies which describe things of which we have never seen nor heard? For example, there are Ezekiel’s wheels (see 1:16, 19-21; 3:13; 10:2-19; 11:22), and there are the “living creatures” of the Book of Revelation (Revelation 4:6-9; 5:6-14; 6:6; 7:11; 14:3; 15:7; 19:4). Nothing in this life can be compared with such things. Heaven is not just an improved earth; it will be “a new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1) where there will be no sea (21:1), no temple (21:22), no need for sun or moon (21:23-25; 22:5). The streets, we are told, will be paved with gold. This may be a way of telling us that what we value most highly on earth will have little or no value in heaven. Heaven, that biblical “new age,” is nothing like the present age, and thus no mortal can conceive of what it will be like. The things of God are other worldly, and thus we cannot even guess as to what they will be like.

How God’s Wisdom is Revealed
(2:10-13)

10 For [But]31 to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man, which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God, 13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.

Paul has just shown us why God’s wisdom, the wisdom which the apostles proclaimed, is rejected by the great but unbelieving men of this age. Men of this age are limited to temporal, human wisdom. They cannot grasp God’s eternal wisdom. They cannot see, hear, or comprehend the things of God. How then can mere mortals ever know God’s wisdom? The answer is found in verses 10-16. In verses 10-13, Paul expounds the doctrines of inspiration and revelation whereby God has made his wisdom known through the apostles who have inscripturated the “depths of God.” In verses 14-16, Paul turns to the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer, enabling him to comprehend the things of God which He revealed in the Scriptures through the apostles.

How can men know of a God who cannot be seen and whose provisions are beyond human thought? The answer: through the Holy Spirit, who has imparted the knowledge of God to and through the apostles in the New Testament Scriptures. The Holy Spirit is theSpirit of God.” Just as man’s human spirit knows the deep thoughts of the man, so the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, knows the intimate things of God. When the Lord Jesus was on the earth, He spoke many things to His disciples which they did not understand or even remember. Jesus told them that after His departure, He would send His Spirit. The Holy Spirit would not only call the things He had spoken to their remembrance, He would also enable them to understand them so that they could record them for others. In addition, the Spirit would reveal things to come, things of the coming age:

25 “These things I have spoken to you, while abiding with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” (John 14:25-26).

12 “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. 14 He shall glorify Me; for He shall take of Mine, and shall disclose it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said, that He takes of Mine, and will disclose it to you” (John 16:12-15).

Paul has already spoken of the wisdom of God as a mystery (1 Corinthians 2:7). A mystery is something God reveals concerning the future, which is not fully grasped before its fulfillment because it is beyond human comprehension. The apostles played a unique role as “stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Corinthians 4:1). After God has completed a work that was formerly a mystery, He fully discloses that mystery through one of His apostles. Paul was surely one of the great “mystery apostles” in that it was his privilege to speak of several mysteries. In the Book of Ephesians, Paul spoke of the privilege God had given him as an apostle to reveal some of these mysteries (Ephesians 1:3-14; 3:1-13; 5:32).

In 1 Corinthians 2:10-13, Paul describes the fulfillment of our Lord’s promise to His disciples (remember that Paul was divinely added as the twelfth apostle). Man, Paul is saying, could never know God on his own. But God has chosen to make Himself known through His Word and through His Spirit. His Spirit was given to the apostles in a special way so that the things of God might be inscripturated, divinely inspired and recorded as a part of the Bible. The apostles have been given the Spirit in this unique way so they “might know the things freely given to us by God” and might communicate them to us. The Spirit superintended this process by “combining spiritual thoughts (“the depths of God,” verse 10) with spiritual words” (the words of Holy Scripture).

Here is a very crucial difference between the apostles and the false apostles. The apostles claimed to speak for God, and they did! False apostles claimed to speak for God, and they did not! God can be known intimately because He has chosen to disclose His innermost thoughts and being to men by means of His Spirit working through the apostles, resulting in the New Testament Scriptures. To reject the apostles and their teaching as the “wisdom of God” is to reject God, for they are the only ones through whom God has chosen to disclose Himself. Is the gospel simplistic? It is because God’s way of salvation is simplistic—one way (see Matthew 7:13-14ff.; John 14:6). To reject the apostles’ teaching is thus to reject the God who disclosed Himself to men through them.

There may be a secondary interpretation of Paul’s words in verses 10-13, but, if so, it is surely secondary. Many interpret these verses as speaking of God’s direct disclosure of Himself to men, through His Spirit. I do not think so. I believe these words make sense only as interpreted above. This same thought is taught by Peter as well in 2 Peter 1:16-21. The work of God the Spirit in the lives of Christians in general is spoken of in the closing verses (14-16) of 1 Corinthians 2.

Spiritual Insight: The Haves and the Have-Nots
(2:14-16)

14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. 15 But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no man. 16 For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:1-16).

God has disclosed Himself to men through the Holy Spirit. The Spirit knows the intimate things of God and, by inspiring the apostles, has translated spiritual thoughts about God into spiritual words—the New Testament. In the Old Testament period, God revealed His Word through the prophets. In the New Testament times, this revelation came through the apostles. Yet the unbeliever seems blinded to the truth contained in God’s Word. How can this be? How can some find in the Bible a rich source of revelation which enables them to know God more intimately, while others find the Scriptures a senseless mixture of writings which cannot even be understood? Why are some drawn to the Scriptures and others repulsed by them?

The difference may be summed up in terms of the presence or the absence of the Holy Spirit. We see in verses 10-13 that Paul speaks of the Spirit’s work in conveying God’s thoughts to men by inspiring the apostles to convey spiritual thoughts through spiritual words, the words of the New Testament. Now, in verses 14-16, Paul writes of the work of the Spirit, enabling men and women to understand the Scriptures and thus to know the mind of God.

Previously, Paul has divided mankind into two groups: (1) those who trust in the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary for their eternal salvation and (2) those who do not. Another way of viewing these two groups would be: (1) those (unbelievers) who do not possess the Holy Spirit, who cannot understand the wisdom of God as revealed in the Scriptures, and (2) those who do possess the Holy Spirit, who therefore have the capacity to understand the Scriptures.

The first group Paul refers to as “the natural man” (verse 14). The “natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God.” The natural man, who is not indwelt by the Holy Spirit, cannot understand the Scriptures (“the things of the Spirit of God”). God the Holy Spirit conveyed the “deep things of God” to the apostles, who by the Spirit’s inspiration, recorded them as Scripture. The Scriptures are thus “the things of the Spirit of God,” the things which the Spirit of God has originated and communicated. How can one “devoid of the Spirit” (see Jude 19) grasp the things of the Spirit? No wonder the wisdom of God seems foolish to the unbeliever. They cannot fathom anything which falls within the realm of the Spirit.

More than a year ago, Dr. Jim Lopez visited while interviewing for a position at the University of Texas Medical School in Dallas. A part of his interview process involved making a presentation of his research. After Sunday dinner, he wanted to “run through” his presentation one last time, and so we set up the slide projector in the living room. I must confess I did not understand a word Jim said. It was completely over my head; it was a different world. Both of our cats perched on the coffee table beside the slide projector and were fascinated with the slides. Jim’s research was done with rats, and the cats found the slides of great interest.

True wisdom cannot be grasped by those who are unsaved, by those who do not have the Spirit of God dwelling within them illuminating the truth of the Scriptures so they can know the deep things of God. True wisdom speaks of things which pertain to a future age and of things which no man has ever seen, or heard, or is even able to imagine. The only way this kind of wisdom can be known is for men to trust in Jesus Christ so that their spiritual eyes may be opened to see the wonders of the wisdom of God and the world to come.

The Christian is the one who is called “spiritual” (verse 15) here by Paul. Most often, we understand the term “spiritual” to refer to those who are mature, who manifest the fruit of the Spirit in their lives. Paul seems to use it here to refer to those who possess the Spirit, who live in the realm of the Holy Spirit because they have trusted in Jesus Christ. The one who possesses the Holy Spirit is able to grasp and to appraise both temporal and eternal matters. The Book of Proverbs, for example, is divinely inspired and provided so that we may see life clearly from God’s point of view. The prophetic books have been given to us so that we may look at the eternal dimension of God’s plan. Thus, Paul can say that the Christian who possesses the Holy Spirit is able to “appraise all things,” things earthly and things eternal, things pertaining to this age, and things pertaining to the next.

While the Christian—“he who is spiritual”is able to appraise all things and thus to understand the beliefs and the behavior of the unsaved, the unsaved (“natural”) man is unable to understand the Christian (“he who is spiritual”). No wonder Christians are misunderstood and even persecuted. No wonder they are considered foolish and weak. This is the best the unaided mind of the natural man can do.

In verse 16, Paul closes our chapter with the words of Isaiah 40:13: “For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:1-16). These words sum up the difference between the non-Christian and the Christian. God has revealed Himself to all men in the person of Christ and in the Scriptures (see verses 10-13 above). The Scriptures make no sense to the unbeliever. This is because it is impossible for the unbeliever to grasp the things of God apart from the Spirit of God. Who can know the mind of the Lord? No one can, apart from the ministry of the Holy Spirit in revealing the Word of God through the apostles and in illuminating the Scriptures to the individual believer. Note that the words of verse 16 indicate not only the natural man’s ignorance but also his arrogance. Who would think that any man could instruct God? But this is precisely what the unbeliever does think. This is why they think the Christian is foolish and weak.

In contrast to the unbeliever, who is oblivious to the mind of God, the Christian can say confidently, “We have the mind of Christ.” The “we” may refer either to the apostles, who alone can speak the “mind of Christ,” or more generally, of all the saints who possess the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures. It is through the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit that the “mind of Christ” is conveyed to the saints. The Christian has both the Word of God and the witness of His Spirit, the Author of that Word. What more can one ask for than this?

This final statement sums up the vast difference of opinion which exists between Christians and unbelievers over “wisdom.” The unbeliever is incapable of understanding God’s wisdom and so is confined to a very limited, distorted temporal wisdom. The Christian has the means for knowing the mind of God and thus has access to the wisdom of God. The Christian should not be surprised by the reaction of the unbeliever to the preaching of the gospel. And the Christian should not forsake the vast wisdom God has made available to us in order to pursue the wisdom which the world seeks.

Conclusion

What a blow this chapter strikes at human pride. Paul’s coming to the Corinthians was far from prestigious. He came in weakness, fear, and much trembling. He came with a message offensive to both Jews and Greeks. He refused to “know” anything other than the crucified Christ, for he came to bring the Message of Salvation. His message was not one of superior wisdom, one that would appeal to the intellectual curiosity or headiness of the Corinthians. His method of presentation was not one that would naturally draw a crowd or attract a following. From a merely human point of view, Paul did everything wrong when he went to Corinth. But what happened? A number of his readers came to faith in Jesus Christ because of Paul’s mind set, message, and method!

How could Paul do everything wrong (from a worldly point of view) and yet sinners be converted and a church born? In verses 1-5, Paul indicates that he purposed to come to the Corinthians as he did so that the Corinthians’ faith would “not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God” (2:5). How does this happen? How is the faith of men and women turned God-ward by a mind set of weakness and humility and by a message and method which runs contrary to human wisdom? The answer is implied here and clearly stated later by Paul:

9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

In God’s economy, divine wisdom is foolishness to the secular mind; divine power is weakness to the unbeliever. Paul’s weakness and simplicity were not obstacles to divine wisdom and power; they were the means through which God’s wisdom and power were demonstrated. Had Paul come with self-assurance and confidence preaching a “wisdom” applauded by the world, through a method which ranked with the best secular communicators, the best that could have happened was that men would place their confidence and trust in Paul. But when Paul came as he did, only God could convince and convert the Corinthians, and their faith must therefore be in God, not in Paul.

How does this happen? How can human weakness be transformed into divine power? How can human foolishness become divine wisdom and pagan sinners become saints? The answer: The Word of God and the Spirit of God. The gospel is the means by which men are saved: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16). And how can the gospel become the “power of God for salvation?” Again, the Spirit of God:

7 “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. 8 And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment; 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you no longer behold Me; 11 and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged” (John 16:7-11).

The Corinthians had become mesmerized by men and by human wisdom. They were wrong. What had saved them was the Word of God and the Spirit of God, working through humble men who proclaimed a straightforward, simple message of Christ crucified, even though their message and their methods were unappealing to unsaved men.

If the Word of God and the Spirit of God were sufficient to save the Corinthians, Paul makes it clear to them that the teaching of the apostles does convey wisdom, but a wisdom of a different order (verses 6-9). It is a wisdom which even the cultural elite (“the rulers of this age,” verses 6, 8) could not comprehend. Indeed, when wisdom was personified in the person of Jesus Christ, they crucified Him. Why would the Corinthians be so enamored with secular, human wisdom? It cannot lead us to God; indeed, it will turn us from God. Human wisdom cannot comprehend God or the things which He has for men. Human wisdom is of no eternal value, and its temporal value is limited.

At verse 10, Paul turns us once again to the Word of God and the Spirit of God. What men could never have known about God (see verse 9), God has chosen to reveal to men. This He has done through His Spirit. His Spirit knows what no man can know about God. His Spirit took these spiritual thoughts, spiritual realities, and translated them into spiritual words, the words of Scripture. This He did by His Spirit, who inspired the apostles who were the human authors of the New Testament.

Men can come to know God in only one way—through His Word and through His Spirit. There are many different beliefs about God, but there is only one true God. This is the God who has revealed Himself to us in the Bible. All views of God which originate with men, rather than with God, are false. All views of God which come from some other source than the Bible are false. How often I hear people say something like, “Well, I like to think of God as… .” It does not matter how you would like to think of God. Paul’s words inform us that the way we think about God is certain to be wrong, for true wisdom comes from above, not from below. True wisdom flows from God to men, not from men God-ward. The Bible reveals to us a God that we would not have imagined, a God whom we would not have wanted, a God whom we would not have received. Apart from the Spirit of God and the Word of God, we could never have come to know God.

If anyone can appreciate this truth Paul is teaching, it is the teacher. Think about Paul. He was a devout Jew, deeply religious, committed, and sincere. But he was dead wrong. When God revealed Himself to Paul (it is always God who initiates a relationship with man and who initiates the revelation of Himself to man), everything suddenly changed. Indeed, all was reversed. The things he once prized, thinking they won him favor with God, Paul now counted as “dung” (Philippians 3:1-11). Now Paul is a new man in Christ. Now he has come to know God through His Word and through His Spirit. That is what Paul wants for each one of us.

If you have never trusted in Jesus Christ, you do not know God. You cannot know God apart from Christ, and you cannot know Christ apart from His Word and His Spirit. Hell will be populated with countless souls who served a “god” of their own making, and such “gods” are not God at all but only idols of our mind. We cannot know God through our own wisdom or insight. We cannot see, hear, or touch Him. But He has revealed Himself through His Word, the Bible. By the ministry of His Spirit, we can come to know God personally as the One who has provided for the forgiveness of our sins and for eternal life. God has revealed Himself in His Son, who died on the cross of Calvary, bearing the penalty for our sins. He has raised Him from the dead, as proof of His satisfaction with the work of Christ. All we need do is to believe the One whom God sent, that we are sinners, deserving eternal punishment, and that through the death of Christ, we have been punished and raised to newness of life. I urge you to view God through the pages of Holy Scripture and to trust in His provision for salvation in Jesus Christ.

My Christian friend, do you believe wisdom comes only from God, through the Scriptures, by means of the Spirit? If so, where are you seeking daily wisdom, the wisdom to understand the events and crises of daily living? Where are you seeking a knowledge of God and of His “mind”? Where do you go to learn of the glories of the coming age and of His promised kingdom? Do you read the Bible, or books about the Bible, or do you read “Christian books,” sparse with references to the Word of God or the Spirit of God? God has revealed Himself through His Word and through His Spirit, and we do well to take heed:

1 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world (Hebrews 1:1-2).

1 For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. 2 For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, 4 God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will (Hebrews 2:1-4).

1 Therefore, putting aside all malice and all guile and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, 2 like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, 3 if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord (1 Peter 2:1-3).

16 For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”— 18 and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. 19 And so we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. 20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God (2 Peter 1:16-21).

Thank you!


30 Would the Corinthians segment themselves into factions; would they distinguish their groups by individual leaders? Paul speaks of and for the apostles as a group, with no distinction. There may be divisions in the church concerning apostles, but there is no dissention among the apostles.

31 It is baffling to see the translation “for,” chosen as the reading of preference by the translators of the NASB. The KJV, NKJV, NIV, and Berkeley versions, and even J. B. Phillips’ paraphrase all begin verse 10 with “But.” The editors of the NASB do indicate in a marginal note that some Greek manuscripts read “but.” The fact is that most all of them do so with very sparse support for the reading they have selected. In addition, the context calls for a more decisive break here, indicating the beginning of a new paragraph.

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ONCE AND FOR ALL! Should Christians Observe the Israelite Festivals?

Should Christians observe the Israelite festivals? Are they necessary for salvation?

LIST OF FESTIVALS
(It is advisable to read Leviticus 23 from the Bible along with this study. All of the Festivals are listed in Leviticus 23. All were observed at the sanctuary in the wilderness and later at the temple in Jerusalem. All were accompanied by sacrifices and offerings. All were prophetic of future events—all of which have been, or are in the process of being fulfilled except The Feast of Tabernacles. Seven yearly sabbaths were observed in connection with these feasts.)

Passover Feast
This included the slaying of the Passover lamb on the 14th of the first month, partaking of the lamb and observing the Passover sabbath on the 15th.

Unleavened Bread Feast
This lasted seven days and the first day coincided with the Passover on the 15th and continued through the 21st day of the first month, (Nisan). The 15th and 21st were sabbaths.  Why unleavened bread?  Leaven represented sin and it was also the type of bread eaten the night that they left Egypt.

On the second day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread was the offering of the “Wave Sheaf.” This was the offering of the first of the barley harvest. This represented Christ’s presentation before the Father on that day–Sunday the 16th of Nisan in 31 AD. (John 20:17)  This was called the “firstfruits” of their harvest and represented Christ who is called “the firstfruits” from the dead. 1 Corinthians 15:22-23 says, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.

Pentecost Feast—Feast of Weeks
Fifty inclusive days, counting from the day after the Passover sabbath, a feast and sabbath were to be observed. This feast represented, in type, the outpouring of The Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. All this historically occurred, fulfilling the prophecy.

Blowing of Trumpets Feast
This was celebrated on the 1st day of the 7th month. It’s purpose was to herald the coming of The Day of Atonement on the 10th day, calling the people to prepare their hearts, examining their lives and making things right with God.

The Day of Atonement
This was understood to be a day of judgment when all sin was dealt with and the people, the priest and the tabernacle/temple were cleansed. And, then the scape goat, a type of Satan, was held responsible for the sins, having them placed on his head. And he was led away into the wilderness.  (See Leviticus 16 for the details of The Day of Atonement.)

Feast of Tabernacles
Five days after The Day of Atonement, the joyous Feast of Tabernacles began, not only as a reminder of the Children of Israel dwelling in tents in their sojourn to Canaan, but also prophetically of the future rest in Heaven of the faithful. It was a joyous time because the people felt cleansed from the burden of their sins and at peace with God. This feast lasted for 8 days with sacrifices each day. The 15th and 22nd were sabbaths.

ACTIONS DURING FESTIVALS
Animal sacrifices, meat and drink offerings, afflicting souls, confessing sins, rejoicing.

EVIDENCE FOR CESSATION OF THE FESTIVALS

Does the Bible say that the sacrifices and offerings will cease?
Daniel 9:27, KJV. “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. . .”

Was there historical evidence that the earthly temple services of sacrifices came to an end in fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy?
Matthew 27:50-51, “Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent. . .”

LOCATION OF THE FESTIVALS
The Festivals and offerings of animals and meat and drink offerings connected with them were offered at the sanctuary in the wilderness and later at the temple in Jerusalem. Three times a year the men of Israel were to gather for these which included 7 yearly sabbaths. (1. Passover and unleavened bread, 2. Pentecost and 3. Day of Atonement followed by Feast of Tabernacles)

ORDINANCES

Besides, Jesus, what else was nailed to the cross and blotted out?
Colossians 2:14, KJV “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross”

What were these ordinances about?
Colossians 2:16, “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days”. . . [the seven yearly sabbaths]

What did all these offerings and yearly sabbaths point forward to?
Colossians 2:17, NLT “For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ himself is that reality.”

Were the Gentiles required to be circumcised and keep the law of Moses?
Acts 15:1,5, KJV  “And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. . . .But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.

What was the decision of this Jerusalem council in 49 AD regarding keeping the law of Moses and circumcision?
Acts 15:19-21, KJV “Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.” In other words, the Gentiles and Jews were hearing the commandments about the feasts as Moses’ books were read—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.)

What did the letter from Jerusalem say to those in Antioch?
Acts 15:23-29 And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia: Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment: It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.

Was the decision of the Jerusalem counsel, God’s decision and directions?
Acts 15:28, ASV. “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things:”

Is there another Bible reference that describes the cessation of the feasts?
Ephesians 2:15, KJV, “Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace. . .

Ephesians 2:15, NLT “He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups.”

Are any of the feasts said to be ordinances?
Numbers 9:12 They shall leave none of it unto the morning, nor break any bone of it: according to all the ordinances of the passover they shall keep it.

Colossians 2:14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross

Does this “blotting out” and “abolishing,” include the seventh-day Sabbath?
No.  Col. 2:16, 17 indicates that the sabbaths mentioned here are prophetic, (“shadows of things to come”).  This could only be true of the yearly sabbaths that were prophetic of Christ’s sacrifice and ministry.  It therefore could not apply to the weekly Holy Sabbath Day which is not a shadow or prophecy of Christ’s sacrifice and ministry. The weekly Sabbath was established at Creation and is what we could call a birthday memorial of Christ’s creative work. A birthday memorial cannot be eliminated or changed any more than your own birthday or national holiday because all three are permanent historical events. An event that is not only a memorial, but also a sign of knowing God and a covenant of salvation and a forever friendship celebration and worship day, would have no reason to be removed. And it would have every reason to remain just as it was originally established by Christ. You could it is Christ’s Birthday once a week!(Psalm 111:7, 8; Isaiah 58:13, 14; Exodus 20:8-11; Mark 2:27, 28; Exodus 31:13-18; Isaiah 66:22, 23.)

The Sabbath is one of The Ten Commandments. As such it portrays the perfect character of God and righteousness and The Ten commandments serve as a ruler for right living which will be used in the judgment to decide who is worthy of eternal life. (Matthew 19:17-19; James 2:8-12; Revelation 22:14)

Are there passages in the Bible besides the prohibitions for the Gentiles in Acts 15 in which days to be regarded and food to be eaten is to accommodate those who have mistaken ideas about days and food?  Yes. This is seen in 1 Corinthians 8 and Romans 14, in which those who do not understand about food offered to idols or observance of the feasts are not to have their consciences harmed by others, (even though the food and feast days to be observed are not God’s requirements).

SUMMARY

One noted Christian writer says this about the ceremonial system which included the feasts and seven yearly sabbaths that God instructed Moses to institute: “The whole system must be swept away. . . . Christ was standing at the point of transition between two economies and their two great festivals. He, the spotless Lamb of God, was about to present Himself as a sin offering, that He would thus bring to an end the system of types and ceremonies that for four thousand years had pointed to His death. As He ate the Passover with His disciples, He instituted in its place the service, [commonly termed, “The Lord’s Supper”/”Holy Communion” or the Eucharist”], that was to be the memorial of His great sacrifice. The national festival of the Jews was to pass away forever. The service which Christ established was to be observed by His followers in all lands and through all ages. . . . It was Christ’s desire to leave to His disciples an ordinance that would do for them the very thing they needed–that would serve to disentangle them from the rites and ceremonies which they had hitherto engaged in as essential, and which the reception of the gospel made no longer of any force. To continue these rites would be an insult to Jehovah.”

Celebrate The Birth Of ChristColossians 2:16-17, NLT, “So don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or [yearly] sabbaths. For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ himself is that reality.”

The yearly feast days pointed forward, (in other words, were prophetic), of Christ’s sacrifice. They were to be celebrated at the temple in Jerusalem with meat, drink and animal offerings. When they were fulfilled in Christ’s sacrifice, Christ resurrection, Christ’s ascension briefly on Sunday morning as represented by “the wave sheaf,” and Pentecost, 50 inclusive days later, there was no need to continue the feasts. In fact, to continue the feasts would seem to indicate that one did not believe they had been fulfilled! A Christian writer puts it this way: “To continue these rites would be an insult to Jehovah.”

It might be a danger, if one urges the keeping of the feasts, to neglect The Gospel Commission of Matthew 28:19-20, ASV, “Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”

Matthew 24:14, KJV,  “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”

Revelation 22:20, KJV, “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”

APPENDIX

“For ever”
Exodus 21:6, KJV, “Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever.”

Obviously, the servant isn’t still serving the master today and into the ceaseless ages, but did so as long as life lasted. And, the sacrifice of animals will not continue into the New Earth where there will be no more death. (Revelation 21:4) As you can see, “for ever” does has its limits.

From Bible scholar, Frank Holbrook, we have this note about the phrase, “for ever” since that is used about some of the feasts in the Old Testament:

How Long is ‘Forever’?
A major reason why some Christians are led to believe that the typical festivals of the Temple should be observed permanently as part of the Christian religion is because Israel was instructed to keep them “forever.” For example:

Exodus 12:14, 17 “And this day [Passover] shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever” [Hebrew, ‘ôlām; Greek Septuagint, aiōnios].
…And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever”[Hebrew, ‘ôlām; Greek, aiōnios].

To Western minds the expression “forever” means “endlessness.” However, this is not the meaning to the Eastern mind-set when either the Hebrew `ôlām or the Greek aiōn/aiōnios is used. While these terms may be translated “forever” or “everlasting/eternal” in English, both the Hebrew and Greek words derive their length from the nature of the object described.

For example, if we say, “God lives forever” (in Hebrew/Greek terms), we do, indeed, mean “endless,” because by nature the Deity is immortal or eternal. But if we were to say, “King Darius, live for ever” (Daniel 6:6), it would simply mean, Live a long life. The phrase would not mean “endlessness” at all, because man is mortal and subject to death (Job 4:17). For another example, see 2 Samuel 7:16, 19. Although God promised David a dynastic throne that would last “for ever,” David understood the promise to mean “for a great while to come.” It actually ended with Zedekiah in 586 B.C. The emphasis of the Hebrew and Greek terms translated “for ever” in the Bible is on duration. A thing or person exists continuously without break—endlessly or until it comes to an end—according to its nature.

Thus, when God called for the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread to be observed “for ever” (or more accurately, that the ordinance governing these should be an “everlasting/eternal” ordinance), He simply meant that these typical festivals were intended to be observed regularly for as long as He intended the typical system to last. In this case, it meant a regular, annual observance of these festivals until the Messiah—the Antitype to their symbolism—should come and die for the sins of the world. “Christ our passover is sacrificed for us” (1 Cor 5:7). By its very nature no typical rite or observance was ever intended to be permanent.

Now you should understand the difference, (And there is a difference!) between the OLD and the NEW Testament! While Saturday is the Sabbath, Sunday is the Lord’s day, and should be spent gathered together as believers worshiping the Lord and receiving the word.

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Hosea 8-14

Hosea 8-14

Hosea 8

8:1-14 Sow the wind and reap the whirlwind

1 [Set] the trumpet to thy mouth. [He shall come] as an eagle against the house of the LORD, because they have transgressed my covenant, and trespassed against my law. 2 Israel shall cry unto me, My God, we know thee. 3 Israel hath cast off [the thing that is] good: the enemy shall pursue him. 4 They have set up kings, but not by me: they have made princes, and I knew [it] not: of their silver and their gold have they made them idols, that they may be cut off. 5 Thy calf, O Samaria, hath cast [thee] off; mine anger is kindled against them: how long [will it be] ere they attain to innocency? 6 For from Israel [was] it also: the workman made it; therefore it [is] not God: but the calf of Samaria shall be broken in pieces. 7 For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: it hath no stalk: the bud shall yield no meal: if so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up.

8 Israel is swallowed up: now shall they be among the Gentiles as a vessel wherein [is] no pleasure. 9 For they are gone up to Assyria, a wild ass alone by himself:

Hosea 8

Hosea 8

Ephraim hath hired lovers. 10 Yea, though they have hired among the nations, now will I gather them, and they shall sorrow a little for the burden of the king of princes. 11 Because Ephraim hath made many altars to sin, altars shall be unto him to sin. 12 I have written to him the great things of my law, [but] they were counted as a strange thing. 13 They sacrifice flesh [for] the sacrifices of mine offerings, and eat [it; but] the LORD accepteth them not; now will he remember their iniquity, and visit their sins: they shall return to Egypt. 14 For Israel hath forgotten his Maker, and buildeth temples; and Judah hath multiplied fenced cities: but I will send a fire upon his cities, and it shall devour the palaces thereof. (Hosea 8:1-14 AV)

Hosea 9

9:1-17 The days of visitation are come

1 Rejoice not, O Israel, for joy, as [other] people: for thou hast gone a whoring from thy God, thou hast loved a reward upon every cornfloor. 2 The floor and the winepress shall not feed them, and the new wine shall fail in her. 3 They shall not dwell in the LORD’S land; but Ephraim shall return to Egypt, and they shall eat unclean [things] in Assyria. 4 They shall not offer wine [offerings] to the LORD, neither shall they be pleasing unto him: their sacrifices [shall be] unto them as the bread of mourners; all that eat thereof shall be polluted: for their bread for their soul shall not come into the house of the LORD. 5 What will ye do in the solemn day, and in the day of the feast of the LORD? 6 For, lo, they are gone because of destruction: Egypt shall gather them up, Memphis shall bury them: the pleasant [places] for their silver, nettles shall possess them: thorns [shall be] in their tabernacles.

7 The days of visitation are come, the days of recompence are come; Israel shall know [it]: the prophet [is] a fool, the spiritual man [is] mad, for the multitude of thine iniquity, and the great hatred. 8 The watchman of Ephraim [was] with my God: [but] the prophet [is] a snare of a fowler in all his ways, [and] hatred in the house of his God. 9 They have deeply corrupted [themselves], as in the days of Gibeah: [therefore] he will remember their iniquity, he will visit their sins. 10 I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the firstripe in the fig tree at her first time: [but] they went to Baalpeor, and separated themselves unto [that] shame; and [their] abominations were according as they loved.

11 [As for] Ephraim, their glory shall fly away like a bird, from the birth, and from the womb, and from the conception. 12 Though they bring up their children, yet will I bereave them, [that there shall] not [be] a man [left]: yea, woe also to them when I

Sow the Wind and Reap the Whirlwind

Sow the Wind and Reap the Whirlwind

depart from them! 13 Ephraim, as I saw Tyrus, [is] planted in a pleasant place: but Ephraim shall bring forth his children to the murderer. 14 Give them, O LORD: what wilt thou give? give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts. 15 All their wickedness [is] in Gilgal: for there I hated them: for the wickedness of their doings I will drive them out of mine house, I will love them no more: all their princes [are] revolters. 16 Ephraim is smitten, their root is dried up, they shall bear no fruit: yea, though they bring forth, yet will I slay [even] the beloved [fruit] of their womb. 17 My God will cast them away, because they did not hearken unto him: and they shall be wanderers among the nations. (Hosea 9:1-17 AV)

Hosea 10

10:1-15 The punishment of Israel

1 Israel [is] an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself: according to the multitude of his fruit he hath increased the altars; according to the goodness of his land they have made goodly images. 2 Their heart is divided; now shall they be

for it is time to seek the LORD

for it is time to seek the LORD

found faulty: he shall break down their altars, he shall spoil their images. 3 For now they shall say, We have no king, because we feared not the LORD; what then should a king do to us? 4 They have spoken words, swearing falsely in making a covenant: thus judgment springeth up as hemlock in the furrows of the field. 5 The inhabitants of Samaria shall fear because of the calves of Bethaven: for the people thereof shall mourn over it, and the priests thereof [that] rejoiced on it, for the glory thereof, because it is departed from it. 6 It shall be also carried unto Assyria [for] a present to king Jareb: Ephraim shall receive shame, and Israel shall be ashamed of his own counsel. 7 [As for] Samaria, her king is cut off as the foam upon the water. 8 The high places also of Aven, the sin of Israel, shall be destroyed: the thorn and the thistle shall come up on their altars; and they shall say to the mountains, Cover us; and to the hills, Fall on us.

9 O Israel, thou hast sinned from the days of Gibeah: there they stood: the battle in Gibeah against the children of iniquity did not overtake them. 10 [It is] in my desire that I should chastise them; and the people shall be gathered against them, when they shall bind themselves in their two furrows. 11 And Ephraim [is as] an heifer [that is] taught, [and] loveth to tread out [the corn]; but I passed over upon her fair

The punishment of Israel, Empty and Lifeless

The punishment of Israel, Empty and Lifeless

neck: I will make Ephraim to ride; Judah shall plow, [and] Jacob shall break his clods. 12 Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for [it is] time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you. 13 Ye have plowed wickedness, ye have reaped iniquity; ye have eaten the fruit of lies: because thou didst trust in thy way, in the multitude of thy mighty men. 14 Therefore shall a tumult arise among thy people, and all thy fortresses shall be spoiled, as Shalman spoiled Betharbel in the day of battle: the mother was dashed in pieces upon [her] children. 15 So shall Bethel do unto you because of your great wickedness: in a morning shall the king of Israel utterly be cut off. (Hosea 10:1-15 AV)

Hosea 11

11:1-12 God’s love for faithless Israel

1 When Israel [was] a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt. 2 [As] they called them, so they went from them: they sacrificed unto Baalim, and burned incense to graven images. 3 I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms; but they knew not that I healed them. 4 I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love: and I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat unto them. 5 He shall not return into the land of Egypt, but the Assyrian shall be his king, because they refused to return. 6 And the sword shall abide on his cities, and shall consume his branches, and devour [them], because of their own counsels. 7 And my people are bent to backsliding from me: though they called them to the most High, none at all would exalt [him].

8 How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? [how] shall I deliver thee, Israel? how shall I make thee as Admah? [how] shall I set thee as Zeboim? mine heart is turned within

God's love for faithless Israel

God’s love for faithless Israel

me, my repentings are kindled together. 9 I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I [am] God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee: and I will not enter into the city. 10 They shall walk after the LORD: he shall roar like a lion: when he shall roar, then the children shall tremble from the west. 11 They shall tremble as a bird out of Egypt, and as a dove out of the land of Assyria: and I will place them in their houses, saith the LORD. 12 Ephraim compasseth me about with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit: but Judah yet ruleth with God, and is faithful with the saints. (Hosea 11:1-12 AV)

Hosea 12

12:1-14 Ephraim’s sins rebuked by God

1 Ephraim feedeth on wind, and followeth after the east wind: he daily increaseth lies and desolation; and they do make a covenant with the Assyrians, and oil is carried into Egypt. 2 The LORD hath also a controversy with Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways; according to his doings will he recompense him. 3 He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with God: 4 Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto him: he found him [in] Bethel, and there he spake with us; 5 Even the LORD God of hosts; the LORD [is] his memorial. 6 Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually.

7 [He is] a merchant, the balances of deceit [are] in his hand: he loveth to oppress. 8 And Ephraim said, Yet I am become rich, I have found me out substance: [in] all my labours they shall find none iniquity in me that [were] sin. 9 And I [that am] the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt will yet make thee to dwell in tabernacles, as in the days of the solemn feast. 10 I have also spoken by the prophets, and I have

Hosea shows God's Grace

Hosea shows God’s Grace

multiplied visions, and used similitudes, by the ministry of the prophets. 11 [Is there] iniquity [in] Gilead? surely they are vanity: they sacrifice bullocks in Gilgal; yea, their altars [are] as heaps in the furrows of the fields. 12 And Jacob fled into the country of Syria, and Israel served for a wife, and for a wife he kept [sheep]. 13 And by a prophet the LORD brought Israel out of Egypt, and by a prophet was he preserved. 14 Ephraim provoked [him] to anger most bitterly: therefore shall he leave his blood upon him, and his reproach shall his Lord return unto him. (Hosea 12:1-14 AV)

Hosea 13

13:1-16 Ephraim’s destruction foretold

1 When Ephraim spake trembling, he exalted himself in Israel; but when he offended in Baal, he died. 2 And now they sin more and more, and have made them molten images of their silver, [and] idols according to their own understanding, all of it the work of the craftsmen: they say of them, Let the men that sacrifice kiss the calves. 3 Therefore they shall be as the morning cloud, and as the early dew that passeth

Hosea 13:4

Hosea 13:4

away, as the chaff [that] is driven with the whirlwind out of the floor, and as the smoke out of the chimney. 4 Yet I [am] the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt know no god but me: for [there is] no saviour beside me.

5 I did know thee in the wilderness, in the land of great drought. 6 According to their pasture, so were they filled; they were filled, and their heart was exalted; therefore have they forgotten me. 7 Therefore I will be unto them as a lion: as a leopard by the way will I observe [them]: 8 I will meet them as a bear [that is] bereaved [of her whelps], and will rend the caul of their heart, and there will I devour them like a lion: the wild beast shall tear them.

9 O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me [is] thine help. 10 I will be thy king: where [is any other] that may save thee in all thy cities? and thy judges of whom thou saidst, Give me a king and princes? 11 I gave thee a king in mine anger, and took [him] away in my wrath. 12 The iniquity of Ephraim [is] bound up; his sin [is] hid. 13 The sorrows of a travailing woman shall come upon him: he [is] an unwise son; for he should not stay long in [the place of] the breaking forth of children. 14 I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes. 15 Though he be fruitful among [his] brethren, an east wind shall come, the wind of the LORD shall come up from the wilderness, and his spring shall become dry, and his fountain shall be dried up: he shall spoil the treasure of all pleasant vessels. 16 Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up. (Hosea 13:1-16 AV)

Hosea 14

14:1-9 Israel entreated to return to the Lord

1 O Israel, return unto the LORD thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. 2 Take with you words, and turn to the LORD: say unto him, Take away all iniquity,

I am like a green fir tree. From me is thy fruit found

I am like a green fir tree. From me is thy fruit found

and receive [us] graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips. 3 Asshur shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses: neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, [Ye are] our gods: for in thee the fatherless findeth mercy.

4 I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him. 5 I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon. 6 His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon. 7 They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive [as] the corn, and grow as the vine: the scent thereof [shall be] as the wine of Lebanon.

8 Ephraim [shall say], What have I to do any more with idols? I have heard [him], and observed him: I [am] like a green fir tree. From me is thy fruit found. 9 Who [is] wise, and he shall understand these [things]? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the LORD [are] right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein. (Hosea 14:1-9 AV)

This is the End of Hosea

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Romans Chapter Two, Everyone Needs the Gospel, A Study of Romans 2

Good Morning Everyone…It’s time to continue our biblical studies of the book of Romans Chapter Two…”Everyone Needs the Gospel”…A Study of Romans 2…

…”As part of Paul’s presentation of the gospel, he explains why it is needed. Paul begins with a typical Jewish criticism of Gentiles, which says that people ought to know God but are willingly ignorant and therefore deserve to die. But there is something wrong with this view, Paul says…

…”All are guilty”…
“In Romans 2:1 Paul says, Therefore, you have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things…hummmm…

………”Does Paul mean that if you accuse someone of murder, you have committed murder? No; we need to see the context. In Romans 1:29-31, Paul had mentioned a variety of sins: “They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy.”

“In Romans 2:1, Paul is saying that whenever people pass judgment on someone else, they are “guilty of the same kind of thing” a sin. We are all guilty of something, so “we should not judge other people” Paul will say more about that in chapter 14.If we condemn someone, we are saying that sinners deserve to be punished..Romans 1:32…But since we have sinned, we also deserve to be punished…

…”Paul says: God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth …Romans 2:2…Yes, what they have done is wrong. We have done wrong, too”…

“So when you, a mere human, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?…Rom.2:3…Everyone will be judged, so “no one should be pointing fingers”…

…”Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?…Rom.2:4… If we judge others, we are showing contempt for God’s mercy, not only his mercy toward them, but also his mercy and patience toward us. God’s patience toward sinners should make us have a change of mind and be patient toward sinners, too!

…”Condemned by our works”…
“In verse 5…Paul is still talking to the person who passes judgment on others: But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. If you persist in judging, it will be worse on you on the judgment that you like to talk about. God’s righteousness cuts both ways…….

“In the traditional view of judgment, God will repay each person according to what they have done. To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life…Rom.2:6-7…If we take this out of context, it suggests that people can be saved on the basis of good works. But as he will soon argue, no one is good enough to earn eternal life through their works. This verse is part of the view that Paul is critiquing, he is not endorsing it. He is showing that this view of God’s righteous wrath leads only to universal condemnation and despair. It is not good news…

…”But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile..Rom.2:8-9.. This is where Paul wants to go, applying this Jewish worldview to the Jews. If God is in the business of applying righteous punishment on all sinners, he will do it for the Jews as well as the Gentiles, because God does not show favoritism…Romans 2:11…

“God will give glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile…Rom.2:10…Paul will soon say that all have sinned;no one deserves glory, honor and eternal life. In these verses Paul is describing a judgment of rewards that will never actually happen because no one will ever qualify in this way. This is not a “straw man” that doesn’t exist, or a hypothetical situation that Paul made up just for the sake of argument, it was a view being taught by some people in the first century. Paul is showing that this religious belief is wrong; the gospel reveals that God envisions a much different outcome for humanity…

…”Equal treatment under the law”…
“All who sin apart from the law..Paul is referring to Gentiles here..will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law..Jews..will be judged by the law verse 12 No matter who you are, if you sin, you will be condemned. This would be terrible news, if it weren’t for the gospel. The gospel is news we desperately need, and news that is very good but it is especially good when we see how bad the alternative is…

“Rom.2:13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. Paul is not saying that people can actually be declared righteous by their obedience, he says that no one can be justified in this way..Rom 3:20..Is he spinning in circles, or is he inconsistent as some scholars claim? No, not when we realize that these words are not his own view, but the view of his opponents. He is showing that this way does not work…

…”How can God condemn Gentiles for breaking his law when they don’t know what it is? The traditional view said they had a chance, but they blew it…Rom.1:19…It said that if they would have heeded their conscience, they would have done what was right: When Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them…Romans 2:14-15…

“As everyone will admit, Gentiles keep some things required by the law. They teach that murder and adultery are wrong. Gentiles have a conscience, and it sometimes says they did well, but sometimes it says that they did not. Even by their own standards, they fall short. That is how they can “sin apart from the law”..Rom.2:12..

…”Paul resumes the discussion of the judgment in verse 16: This will take place on the day when “God judges people’s secrets” through Jesus-Christ, as my gospel declares. Paul agrees with his opponents that there will be a day of judgment but he introduces a big difference, this judgment will take place through Jesus-Christ … Acts 17:31…

“This changes everything”. People will be judged not on the basis of their own works, but will be declared righteous on the basis of what Christ has done. Paul is turning the traditional concept of judgment upside down. But that is getting ahead of the story. Paul has not yet unfolded that part of the gospel because he has not yet finished showing the futility of the opposing view…

…”Advantages of the Jews”…
In verse 17, Paul begins to address some arguments that Jews might have: If you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and boast in God; if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of little children, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth…Romans 2:17-20…

“If you have these advantages, Paul is saying, you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?…Romans 2:21-22…An individual reader might object: “I don’t steal and commit adultery.” But Paul is speaking of Jews as a group, and everyone knew that some Jews broke their own laws, even stealing from their own temple”…

…”And Romans 2:23..You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? If you have ever broken a law, you have dishonored God, and you are in the same category as thieves and adulterers…“sinner.” You know what you should do, and yet you fall short………

………”Paul uses Scripture to illustrate his point: As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you”..Rom.2:24..and Ezekiel 36:22 says that the Jews had caused God’s name to be blasphemed. Jews are not immune to sin, and not immune to judgment. The “judgment according to works” view has nothing good to say to them…

…”The true people of God”…
“In verse 25, Paul comments on an advantage Jews thought they had: Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. As Paul will soon argue, everyone has broken the law…and “circumcision doesn’t rescue anyone from anything”…

“So then, if those who are not circumcised keep the law’s requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker..Rom.2:27.. Some Jews taught that Gentiles could be saved if they obeyed the laws that applied to Gentiles, without being circumcised. So in such a case, the Gentile would be better off in the judgment than the Jew, a reversal of the picture that Jews usually drew…

…”A person is not a Jew..that is, not one of God’s people..who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God Rom.2:28-29..Just as Deut. 30:6 said, circumcision should be in the heart, not

Everyone Needs the Gospel

Everyone Needs the Gospel

just in the flesh. Just because someone is circumcised on the outside does not mean that he is truly part of the people of God who will be accepted on the day of judgment…

“Paul is rattling the underpinnings of the traditional view, but he is not yet done. He is pulling his punches as part of his rhetorical strategy. He is saving his most powerful arguments for the “next chapter”…at this point he wants people to keep reading even if they sympathize with the opposing view. His opponents would have to agree in principle with what he says so far, though they might be a bit uncomfortable with it. Paul wants them to keep reading, and we need to do that, too, if we want to see what the gospel reveals in contrast to the traditional view…

…”God is perfectly fair. Some Gentiles do what is right, and some Jews do what is wrong. But if both peoples are judged by what they do, then what advantage is there in being Jewish?…That is precisely the question that Paul raises in the next chapter…

Until then, have a great day in our Lord and Saviour Jesus-Christ.

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Acts, Chapter fifteen part three, James speaks.

As we continue our biblical studies of Acts of the Apostles…Chapter fifteen Part three…let’s start with…”James speaks”…Acts 15:13-21…

“At the end of the conference, James speaks. He is the leader of the church in Jerusalem…Acts 12:17; 21:18…and supposedly the one who had originally authorized the overly zealous people to visit Antioch. Everyone respects him, and when all three apostles agree, that settles the matter…

…”James is clearly representing the Jerusalem church. The Judaizers look to him for support partly because of his respected position among non-converted Jews, and partly because James himself zealously keeps all the Jewish laws. However, they misread him on the most basic issue, one he held in common with Peter and Paul: “faith is the basis of salvation…not religious observance. Just because I keep these laws does not mean that Gentiles have to as well…hummmm….interesting!!!…

…”A people for himself”…Acts 15:14…
“James’ speech sums up the testimony already presented. James begins his comments before the assembly by summarizing Peter’s speech. But he makes no reference to the comments of Paul and Barnabas. That is rhetorically shrewd, for it is their teaching that is the subject of the controversy. James wants to win his audience, and using the evidence of controversial persons is not the best way to do it……..

………The point of James’ speech is that God is taking the Gentiles as “a people for himself”….Acts 15:14….There is no disagreement on this. If nothing else, the experience of Cornelius proves it. Acts intimates that there is no longer any debate on whether Gentiles are being converted. James is beginning on common ground…

“In his speech, he emphasizes the presence of “God’s hand in the work” of the apostles..Acts 15:14.. In this he is echoing the thoughts of both Peter and Paul. Paul had referred to “everything God had done”..15:4..including his “wonders”..15:12.. Peter said that “God made a choice”..15:7..and that “God… showed”..15:8.. The three leaders are making the same point: this outreach to the Gentiles is nothing that humans dreamed up. They are only fulfilling the purpose of God…

…”Prophets agree”…Acts 15:15…
“After James cited the experiences of the apostles as dynamic encounters with God’s purpose, he refers to a text of Scripture relevant to the discussion. James says, “The words of the prophets are in agreement with this”…Acts 15:5…”This” refers to the fact that God is calling Gentiles to his church, and that he does it through faith…

“Luke gives only a single example of the verses James cites in defense of the ruling he is about to make. They are the words of Amos 9:11-12…It is probably representative of the other verses James cited…

…”We should pay attention to the subtle way in which James uses Scripture. He doesn’t say that the experiences of Peter and Paul agreed with Scripture. Rather, James says the words of the prophet are in agreement with what God has done, that is, the conversion of the Gentiles on the basis of faith! For James, the experience of what God had done interprets the scripture, not the other way around…hummm…

“It is the experience of God revealed through narrative which is given priority in this hermeneutical process: the text of Scripture does not dictate how God should act. Rather, God’s action dictates how we should understand the text of Scripture.”

…”James’ decision regarding the practice of circumcision and the Jewish law by Gentile converts is based on three vital factors. It depends, first, on the revelation of God. The decision is then confirmed in the experience of the apostles. Finally, the decision is supported by a new understanding of Scripture…

…”Rest of humanity”…Acts 15:16-18…
“When we analyze the scripture James refers to, we are in for some surprises. The quotation comes mostly from the Septuagint version of Amos 9:11-12….not the Hebrew text on which English translations are based. Amos 9:12 reads this way in the NIV: “So that they..Israel..may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations that bear my name”…Amos 9:12…This is a promise that the nation of Israel will possess the remaining people of Edom as well as other nations in a restored kingdom…

“That is strikingly different from the Greek Septuagint version of Amos 9:12 which reads much like this: “That the remnant of men may seek the Lord and all the Gentiles who bear my name”…that’s the NIV of Acts 15:17…Here, the remnant of Israel seeks the Lord together with the Gentiles. Thus, all people are invited to become part of the people of God in a restored kingdom…

…”The Septuagint version allows James to support his contention that the people of God should include Gentiles as well as Jews. God’s people consist of a restored remnant of Israel and the nations as part of David’s rebuilt nation…

“Some commentators object that James would not use the Septuagint version in Aramaic-speaking Jerusalem. But the council might have been conducted in Greek, since the representatives from Antioch might not know Aramaic. In addition, James might be using a Hebrew text that agrees more closely with the Septuagint than the Masoretic….The Masoretic is the basic Hebrew text from which the Old Testament is translated into English. Parts of Amos 9:11-12 are quoted in the Hebrew Dead Sea Scrolls, and they agree with James’ version of this verse…

…”By quoting Amos 9:11-12…James is saying that the promised enlargement of “David’s fallen tent”..Israel..over Gentile nations is taking place in the church, the new Israel. The Gentile mission is the instrument by which Gentiles are becoming part of this new “tent,” the church…

“The Hebrew and Greek versions are different, and yet both say that Gentile nations are included in the future kingdom of Israel. But the use of the Septuagint version gave better support for the evangelization of Gentiles and admitting them to fellowship. No longer did Gentiles have to come through Israel, the nation, in order to become a people of God…

“Subtly but surely he James uses the apostles’ statements to shape a new definition of ‘the people of God’ as one based on messianic faith rather than on ethnic origin or ritual observance. He establishes as a fundamental principle that the church’s responsibility is not to dictate God’s action but discern it, not to close the Scriptures to further interpretation but to open them. He asserts unequivocally that the authentic people of God is one in which all nations can share as equals, and that since God has shown himself to be without discrimination, so must the church itself.”

…”It is my judgement”…Acts 15:19-20…
“At the end of the meeting, James makes his decision:”It is my judgment, therefore
that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God” Acts 15:19.. That is, no one should require Gentiles to be circumcised or to obey other laws of Moses. There are no such entrance requirements for the family of God…

“However”, James does have a public-relations problem. He is refusing to discriminate against the Gentiles by making them live as Jews. But he also feels the need not to offend pious Jewish believers who have been brought up to observe such things as Old Testament food restrictions…

…”With this in mind, James outlines four prohibitions that the Gentile Christians should observe. These practical considerations will help keep peace in a church that includes people from two widely different cultures, Jewish and pagan. By stressing the observance of these regulations, James believes it will be easier for Christian Jews to accept Gentiles “as they are” and live in harmony with them…

“The four things James asks of the Gentile Christians touch on ethical, ceremonial, and even health aspects of the law..behaviors that are particularly offensive to pious Jews…

…”James’ four regulations direct Christian Gentiles to “abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood” Acts 15:20…There are several theories about why James selects these four rules. One theory traces them to Leviticus 17-18, which gives laws applying not only to Jews but also to resident aliens within Israel…

“Three of the restrictions concern food. First, any food associated with idolatrous worship is to be avoided especially meat offered to pagan deities in ritual sacrifices. Such meats are eaten in temple banquets, and the excess is sold in the meat markets……

……”In Gentile cities most of the meat for sale in shops or markets consisted of the carcasses of animals which had been used for sacrificial purposes in one or other of the pagan temples…. In the process they had been dedicated or offered to some god, represented by his statue. From the Jewish point of view, the eating of such meat condoned polytheism and was an act of sacrilege. There was the added complication that social occasions among Gentiles involving banquets or even family gatherings were often held on temple premises where sacrificial meat that was abhorrent to Jews was consumed.”

“The second “prohibition” concerns the flesh of animals that are improperly killed “strangled”, and from which the blood has not been properly drained….Leviticus 17:10, 13…This prohibition is connected with the Noachian covenant..Genesis 9:4.. and is considered by Jews as being applicable to all humanity. Jewish slaughter practices ensured that an animal killed for food had its blood drained. Any slaughtered animal that comes from a non-Jewish butcher where the blood may not have been drained is questionable, even repulsive to Jewish sensitivities…

…”The third prohibition cautions Gentile Christians to avoid eating blood…Leviticus 3:17; 7:26; 17:10; 19:26;..Deuteronomy 12:16, 23; 15:23…In a sense, this is an extension of the restriction on eating improperly slaughtered animals…

“The three food restrictions are rather straightforward. They are something of a compromise so strict Jewish Christians will not be offended. One of the prohibitions, the ban on eating meat or any other food offered to idols, is “not a permanent restriction”….

Acts, Chapter fifteen part three, James speaks.

Acts, Chapter fifteen part three, James speaks.

…”When Paul’s congregations in Corinth later ask him about food sacrificed to idols, he says “an idol is nothing at all”…1 Corinthians 8:4…That is, food is not actually polluted just because it was offered in pagan rituals. It is physically no different than other meat. Thus, it can be eaten by Christians….but not as part of pagan worship…

“Paul does not want believers to participate in banquets held in pagan temples. Nor should they eat meat when someone tells them it has been offered to an idol, that is giving the meat a religious significance, and the believer should refrain, to avoid offending someone’s conscience…

…”Meat sold in the public shops might not be properly killed and bled, and hence might violate the decree on not eating strangled meat or blood. The Bible does not directly tell us how first-century Christians are to deal with such questions.

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