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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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Christians explain what a soul is, especially to non-Christians

The soul is that part of you that transcends life and death. It existed before you were born, as it did for Jeremiah (Jer 1:4-5), and it will exist after you physically die. Irrespective of your fate as a person who rejects God (Mark 9:47-48 – your ‘worm’ is your soul), or a person who finds God and eternal life (John 17:1-2, 3), your soul is eternal. It is the real you.

Genesis 1:26, “And God said, Let Us make a man in Our image, after Our likeness… 27, So God created man in His Own image, in the image of God created He him, male and female created He them.” God is a three part spiritual being. We worship God in spirit and in truth. We are body (physical), spirit, and soul. 1 Thessalonians 5:23, And the very GOD of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray. God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

In Genesis when Adam sinned, the very essence of man’s nature changed. He became focused more on his soul, that is to say on his own wants. He rejected the spirit, the part of us that is God focused. The curse fell. The soul is the seat of desire. Also can be thought of as heart, your hearts desire. Remember God is a Spirit. We are all born spiritually dead. This is why we need Jesus! 1 Corinthians 15:42-50, 54 55.

It is my belief that you were created by Jesus (Col 1:15-16) at some point other than your birth (Eccl 1:10-11). I believe you existed at the Foundation of the World when God made a choice amongst His Creation (Eph 1:3-4), predestining some to be in His new kingdom (Eph 1:5-6). The grace we received was given before time began (2 Tim 1:8-9). It was based on merit. If it were not, then God could not, in my opinion, be praised as just and true in His choices, at the end of this age (Rev 15:3-4; 16:5-6, 7).

Jeremiah tells us that before he was formed in the womb, he was known by God. Romans 8:28-29 extends that scenario to those whom God called to be conformed to the image of His Son. The soul is shaped and bedecked in the womb with the accoutrements of a physical body. God does these things (Psalm 139:13-14) to a person’s “unformed substance” – their soul (Psalm 139:15-16). It is visible to God, but to us it cannot be seen:

Hebrews 11:3 (NKJV) By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.

When we are born, we consist of two parts – physical body and soul. Until we believe on the One True God, and His only begotten Son, Jesus, we are separated from God – spiritually dead. Once we believe the Father, we pass out of spiritual death and into spiritual life (John 5:24). At that point, we become three parts – body, soul, and spirit – God’s Holy Spirit (1 Thess 5:23). What is it that the Father said that we must believe in, in order to obtain eternal life?

Jesus said the words He brings are not His, but from the Father who sent Him (John 14:24). Romans 10:8-9 states that whoever confesses with their mouth, the Lord Jesus, and believes in their heart that the Father raised Jesus from the dead, they will be saved. It is at the point of belief that the Father and Son will come into your heart, via the Holy Spirit, and make their abode with you (John 14:23). (Of which I get the church’s name, ‘The House of the Nazarene’! We house Jesus the Nazarene we are His abode!) Jesus spoke these words on the Father’s authority (John 14:10). He stands at the door of your heart (Rev 3:20), ready to fellowship with you by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit actually indwells a person who has believed. It is referred to in Scripture as being “in the Spirit” (Rom 8:9-10). Again, it requires that you believe God raised Jesus from the dead (Rom 8:11) in order to live by the Spirit (Rom 8:12-13) and qualify as sons of God (Rom 8:14). The Holy Spirit is sent as a teacher (John 14:26). It abides in us. (1 John 2:24-25). The ‘anointing’ (Holy Spirit) is given to us to lead us into all truth (1 John 2:27).

God the FatherTo conclude, the soul is the quintessential fabric of our very being. The physical body is only a covering. As Paul states in 2 Corinthians 5:1, our earthly dwelling is a tent, but our heavenly dwelling is a body (spiritual body) not made with hands, i.e. not through procreation, but through transformation into the image of Jesus’ very nature, bearing His righteousness. And while we are in these physical bodies (2 Corinthians 5:2-3) we complain and wish to be in our heavenly bodies, that we may attain to eternal life (2 Corinthians 5:4). The Holy Spirit is given to us as a ‘guarantee’/pledge (2 Corinthians 5:5-6) so that we may find our way back to the Lord.

We will all die naturally. This physical body will die in its time. We will all share in eternity in our souls. This soul that is spiritually alive, thanks to Our Lord will be at home with God. 1 Corinthians 15:55, O death, where is thy sting? O grave where is thy victory? Jesus relates the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31. His soul was in torment. He was spiritually dead. But he will have an eternity!

The spirit and the breath are the same throughout Scripture. When a person dies, it is God’s life-giving power, His breath, the spark of life that returns. The psalmist David states it this way: “His breath (spirit) goeth forth” (Psalm 146:4). It is not some conscious entity. It is not some immortal soul. The Hebrew word for breath throughout Old Testament Scripture is ‘ruach.’ This Hebrew word means air, wind or spirit. Job 27:3 talks about God’s spirit, or breath, in our nostrils. At death this spirit, or breath, returns to God.

God mercifully shuts our eyes at death to all of the sorrow, heartache and disappointment on earth. Since the “dead know not anything” (Ecclesiastes 9:5) and “in the grave there is not remembrance of you” (Psalm 6:5), it is only logical that “the dead praise not the Lord” (Psalm 115:17). The Bible compares death to a sleep more than 50 times. For Christians, death is like sleeping soundly, not aware of time passing (Revelation 14:13).

Jesus said in John 14:3, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” I look forward to that, and to the new glorious body, that I and all others, spiritually alive will spend soul fully in eternity. Thank you LORD for eyes to see and ears to hear.

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God have the Cherubim guard just the East side of Eden

Genesis 3:24 says, “He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.” According to this verse, only one side of Eden was guarded-the east side. Was it possible for Adam and Eve to have sneaked in another way?

Part of understanding this passage is a consideration of the Hebrew perspective regarding directions. The Jewish people listed directions starting with “east,” unlike Western cultures that typically list the compass points starting with “north.” To say “at the east of the Garden of Eden” could have been a reference to the edge of Eden. Though this is not definitive, it appears to fit the context of the passage.

In addition, the presence of the sword-bearing cherubim stresses that Adam and Eve were forcefully expelled from the Garden of Eden. The word cherubim is plural, indicating several angelic beings, either on the eastern side or the edge of the Garden, who completely blocked the way to the tree of life. The added facts that the sword was flaming and “turned every way” (which might mean that each angel had a sword) also emphasize the strong security God had provided. There was no possibility that Adam and Eve or any other person could later reach the tree of life.

Another possibility may be that guarding the “east side” of Eden is related to Genesis 2:8, which says, “And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.” If Eden was in the east, then guarding “the east” would make sense. In this interpretation, guarding the east means to guard the area where Eden was located.

Another possibility may be that the cherubim were preventing Adam returning to eat from the tree. The tree of life is being protected and preserved for us. The flaming swords may be to bar satan from ever returning there.

Either way, the emphasis is that God completely protected the tree of life from any humans who would approach it. Whether the intended idea is protecting “the edge” or protecting “the location” of Eden, God’s Word emphasizes that Adam and Eve were removed from the Garden of Eden, unable to return.

God have the Cherubim guard just the East side of EdenThe Bible mentions the tree of life again, when it shows up in the new heaven with the Lord. Revelation 22:1-3a notes, “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed.”

At the end of time, God’s people will experience the blessings of a restored creation and renewed access to the tree of life.

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God punish Pharaoh for Abram’s lie

In Genesis 12; Abram and his wife Sarai (their names were later changed to Abraham and Sarah) traveled to Egypt due to a famine in Canaan. Abram instructed his wife to tell people in Egypt that she was his sister instead of his wife. His reason was to protect himself. Because Sarai was so beautiful, Abram feared someone would kill him and take Sarai as his wife. The plan to pass her off as his sister would ensure that Abram would be well received by those he met.

In Egypt, Sarai’s beauty attracted the attention of Pharaoh, the ruler of that country. Sarai was taken into Pharaoh’s house, and many gifts were given to Abram (Genesis 12:16). Genesis 12:17 says, “But the LORD afflicted Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife.” This seems puzzling. After all, the king was the victim of Abram and Sarai’s deceit.

The result of this punishment reveals the reason for it. When Pharaoh realized Sarai was Abram’s wife, he summoned Abram and said, “What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her for my wife? Now then, here is your wife; take her, and go” (Genesis 12:18-19). If God had not caused the plagues to come upon Pharaoh and his household, he may not have known anything was wrong. The affliction led to the discovery that Sarai was Abram’s wife. If Pharaoh had kept Sarai, Abram would not have had a son by Sarai in fulfillment of God’s promise to him (Genesis 12:2; 17:19). Abram was wrong to lie, but God graciously intervened in order to keep His covenant with Abram.

God punish Pharaoh for Abram's LieIn the end, Pharaoh returned Abram’s wife and provided protection for him: “Pharaoh gave men orders concerning him, and they sent him away with his wife and all that he had” (Genesis 12:20). Despite Abram’s wrongdoing, God worked to fulfill His promise. Abram left Egypt with his wife Sarai, the protection of the king, and added prosperity.

This incident is a good example of how God sometimes allows bad things to take place in someone’s life as part of a larger situation. God used the affliction of Pharaoh’s household to bring about good for Abram. We may not always know why bad things happen, but that does not mean they are without purpose. God has a larger purpose behind everything that takes place in life (Jeremiah 29:11). As Paul taught in Romans 8:28, “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

Abram unwisely trusted in his own cunning to preserve his life, and he was caught in a lie. God proved His strength is perfect and that He is the only One with the power to save. Further, we see God has a greater purpose in all things, including suffering. His will is sovereign, and His Name will be glorified.

The outcome of Abram’s lie to the Egyptian pharaoh is difficult to understand without a working knowledge of the principle known to Believers as Grace. Law-mindedness will cause confusion in this case as in many of it’s kind in the Bible. The most glaring is the story of The Cross.

That, I believe, is the basis of stories like Noah and his family, lot and his family, and here, Abram and his. Why save or bless these people? The only thing I can make of it is that God chose to for the purpose of displaying His grace. That is hard for many to grasp, so all I (we) can do is try.

Those stories are there to get us thinking straight on a subject that seems to lack straightness. And it does. In our estimation as humans in this struggle, is to think Abram must not be guilty since he profited from his lie and the Pharaoh was punished.

What’s up with that? Grace is what.

The most misunderstood characteristic pertaining to The LORD, and the most important. I know this is hard but it, Grace, is the emphasis behind this story, not Abram’s goodness or the Pharoah’s anything. The greatness example of Grace is The LORD Jesus suffering on The Cross for the guilty, IN OUR PLACE. I believe this story is designed to get us ready for THE BIG ONE, (Undeserved Salvation) and to show us He is The Sovereign Lord of All!

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God put the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden

God put the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden to give Adam and Eve a choice to obey Him or disobey Him. Adam and Eve were free to do anything they wanted, except eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 2:16-17, “And the LORD God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.'” If God had not given Adam and Eve the choice, they would have essentially been robots, simply doing what they were programmed to do. God created Adam and Eve to be “free” beings, able to make decisions, able to choose between good and evil. In order for Adam and Eve to truly be free, they had to have a choice.

There was nothing essentially evil about the tree or the fruit of the tree. It is unlikely that the fruit, in and of itself, gave Adam and Eve any further knowledge. That is, the physical fruit may have contained some vitamin C and some beneficial fiber, but it was not spiritually nutritious. However, the act of disobedience was spiritually deleterious. That sin opened Adam’s and Eve’s eyes to evil. For the first time, they knew what it was to be evil, to feel shame, and to want to hide from God. Their sin of disobeying God brought corruption into their lives and into the world. Eating the fruit, as an act of disobedience against God, was what gave Adam and Eve the knowledge of evil-and the knowledge of their nakedness (Genesis 3:6-7).

Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of EdenGod did not want Adam and Eve to sin. God knew ahead of time what the results of sin would be. God knew that Adam and Eve would sin and would thereby bring evil, suffering, and death into the world. Why, then, did God allow Satan to tempt Adam and Eve? God allowed Satan to tempt Adam and Eve to force them to make the choice. Adam and Eve chose, of their own free will, to disobey God and eat the forbidden fruit. The results-evil, sin, suffering, sickness, and death-have plagued the world ever since. Adam and Eve’s decision results in every person being born with a sin nature, a tendency to sin. Adam and Eve’s decision is what ultimately required Jesus Christ to die on the cross and shed His blood on our behalf. Through faith in Christ, we can be free from sin’s consequences, and ultimately free from sin itself. May we echo the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 7:24-25, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God-through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

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Donald Trump Will Be 70 Years, 7 Months And 7 Days Old On First Full Day In Office As President

God likes to orchestrate events relating to Israel around the number 70

“In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy yearsin the desolations of Jerusalem.” Daniel 9:2 (KJV)

People, you better buckle up because things are about to become unglued. For well over a year now, we here at WHATSHOTN have been telling you that Donald Trump is God’s man for the White House, and that Bible prophecy would be fulfilled in the process.

Israel in general and Jerusalem in particular are God’s time clock for the fulfillment of Bible prophecy

We talked about Donald Trump, Bible prophecy and the coming global shaking. And believe me when I tell you it’s coming. In the 9th chapter of Daniel we see that he finally understands what Israel’s Babylonian captivity is all about by reading the prophecy Jeremiah had written. That was Daniel’s “a-ha!” moment.

“And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the LORD, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations.”Jeremiah 25:11,12 (KJV)

After digesting that bombshell, Daniel is then visited by the angel Gabriel who gives Daniel his own shocking prophecy of the Seventy Weeks Of Years. All of that prophecy has been fulfilled except the last week, or 7 year period, known as the time of Jacob’s trouble as found in the book of Jeremiah and mentioned by Jesus in Matthew 24 as the time of “great tribulation”.

“Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.” Jeremiah 30:7 (KJV)

“For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” Matthew 24:21 (KJV)

On May 14, 2018, Israel will have been officially regathered, in fulfillment of Bible prophecy, for exactly 70 years. In 70 AD, Israel was destroyed by the Romans and the Temple stones toppled to the ground exactly as Jesus said it would happen. When you subtract 70 AD from 2018 AD, where does that leave you? It leaves you square in 1948 AD. Please pause here and allow that thought to sink in for a moment.

Donald Trump was born on June 14, 1946. If you move ahead 70 years from that date, that brings you to June 14, 2016. Moving forward another seven months brings you to Jan. 14, 2017, and moving forward another seven days brings you to Jan. 21, 2017. This is happening in the year 5777 according to the Jewish calendar.

And since Donald Trump won the election, Jan. 21 will be his first full day in office. Of course Trump would be inaugurated on Jan. 20, but he would only be president for part of that day. So that means that Donald Trump would be 70 years, seven months and seven days old on his first full day as president of the United States. Please pause here as well, and allow that thought to sink in for a moment.

All this brings us to our last point, and here it is. One of the many campaign promises that Donald Trump has made is that he will move the US Embassy in Israel from its current location in Tel Aviv, to its new location in Jerusalem in accordance with the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995. By doing that, the United States will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and thus set off the Psalm 83 War as found in the Bible.

“They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance. For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against thee:” Psalm 83:4,5 (KJV)

POWERFUL post-election thoughts from Rev. Franklin GrahamFor it is Jerusalem, what the Bible calls the “apple of God’s eye”, that the real battle will be fought over. Why do you think that the Palestinians have always rejected the so-called Two State Solution? Because that solution calls for Jerusalem and the Temple Mount to stay with Israel, and the Muslims will not stand for that. They want Jerusalem for the same reason that the Antichrist fights the Battle of Armageddon for it. Because Jerusalem is where Jesus returns to, and where He will rule from for a thousand years. Jerusalem is the reason for all the conflict, all the fighting, all the past wars, and the coming war.

“Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.”Zechariah 12:2,3 (KJV)

This election is going to usher in a time of amazing fulfillment of Bible prophecy. It is no coincidence of any kind that Donald Trump will be 70 years, 7 months and 7 days old on his first full day in office. It is not luck, fortune, happenstance or karma that he beat his 16 competitors for the nomination. As I have said for over a year now, Donald Trump is God’s man for “such a time as this”, and that we are living in the days of visible fulfillment of Bible prophecy.

Do you know what the headline story on the Jerusalem Post website was? It was this:

  • Ivanka Trump says her father will move US embassy to Jerusalem ‘100%’ if elected

Since Donald Trump bacome President on Tuesday, as I believed with all my heart he would, then you better start thinking about the time of Jacob’s trouble beginning sometime on or around May of 2018. That means the Rapture of the Church will have to happen before that. Please pause here as well, and allow that thought to sink in for a moment.

Are YOU ready for what comes next? Because, brothers and sisters, it sure looks like it’s coming.

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The Plan of God

What is God’s plan for me?

As a Christian, of course you want to make decisions according to God’s will. But what happens when you just don’t know which way God wants you to go?

Sooner or later in life everybody has to make some decisions. Which college should I go to? Whom should I marry? Should I move here or there?” The list goes on and on and as the questions grow bigger and more life-changing, shouldn’t God’s answers and plan for our lives be clearer and clearer as well?

It can be difficult to hear God’s voice and know which road to take. You pray to God and ask for help but there are often no prophetic dreams, visions or strong feelings leading you one way or another. It can seem like God isn’t answering you at all.

Do everything before His face.

Many Christians struggle with this because we almost expect a loud voice from heaven when we talk to God, complete with trumpets and a burst of sunlight. But God doesn’t necessarily work that way. Often He works in whispers instead of shouts. And the way we practice listening is to go in faith and do everything before His face.

Often God works in whispers instead of shouts.

It says in Colossians 3:23: “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.” This is the key point. It isn’t always so important what we do but why and how we do it. Are you doing it wholeheartedly because you want to please the Lord? Or are there a few selfish reasons behind your decision?

It also says in Matthew 7:7: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” God is more than willing to show us His will and plan for our lives, but he also wants us to show that we want to know it and follow it. He wants us to make an effort – to seek His will. Then He has promised that we will find it. So if you are asking and seeking and knocking and doing everything as to the Lord then you can rest assured that He will show you His will for your life. His will may not always be what we expect, and it can be revealed to us in unexpected ways, but if we are truly interested, we will find it.
God’s will – good, acceptable, and perfect

Put simply this is the entirety of God’s will right here.

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2. Put simply this is the entirety of God’s will right here, as well as His plan with our lives. That we be transformed by the renewing of our mind, that we prove what is God’s will. That is something we can do regardless of whether we decide to become a doctor or a teacher, move to another country or stay at home. There are always opportunities to be transformed and renewed wherever you are.

So how do you make your decision? Ask yourself, “Is it good? Is it acceptable? Is it perfect?” If the answer seems to be yes, then do it! Prove what is God’s will. Test it. He who seeks will find.

The renewing of your mind.

Whatever the outcome, when looking back, you may find that what you did was actually tainted with a bit of self-seeking, some demands on the others and so on. This was not according to God’s will, and yet you made your decision in faith and with a burning desire to serve God. That’s why God can now show you how you could have done it better, where you should have given up your own will. Go back and fix things, ask for forgiveness, set things right. It is this that is God’s will for us and His plan for our lives: that we to learn humility, that we learn how to live as a disciple. The revelation comes in an unexpected way – by showing you your mistakes, but because you are seeking to do God’s will, you use it to be transformed. This is the renewing of your mind.

A disciple is not one that knows everything and can do everything perfectly the first time.

A disciple is not one that knows everything and can do everything perfectly the first time. The life of a disciple means following Jesus, the Master, and learning from Him. It means listening for God’s voice every day and striving to be well-pleasing to Him. In this way, we will daily find more and more of this “I should have done things better. God, give me strength and wisdom to humble myself and do it better next time.” So next time I put to practice what God’s voice told me, and do it better – I’m becoming more like my Master day by day. That’s what it means to be a disciple!

Be Transformed by the Renewing of your Mind

Be Transformed by the Renewing of your Mind

No matter where we go we will find opportunities to hear God’s voice and do His will.

No matter where we go we will find opportunities to hear God’s voice and do His will. We will find our own life, our anger, our pride, our stubbornness and self-seeking, and by putting these things to death we are transformed more and more into Jesus’ image and in this way we are doing God’s will!

Ultimately, this is God’s perfect plan for both you and me: that we become free from the way that we are and be transformed into Jesus’ own image.

Isn’t that a hopeful gospel? You really can’t go wrong at all!

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Get to Know God Better

Everyone knows that God exists. “God has made it plain” that He is real, “for since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” (Romans 1:19-20). Some try to suppress the knowledge of God, most try to add to it. The Christian has a deep desire to know God better (Psalm 25:4).

In John 3 we read about a man who clearly wanted to know God better and who became more studied than most in the things of God. His name was Nicodemus, and he was a Pharisee, a ruler of the Jews. This Nicodemus knew that Jesus had come from God, and he was truly curious to learn more about Jesus. Jesus patiently explained to Nicodemus how he must be born again (verses 3-15). In order to know God better, Nicodemus had come to the right person “In Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9). Jesus is indeed the Word of God made flesh (John 1:14). Jesus revealed God through His words and works. He even said that no one comes to the Father but by Him (John 14:6). If you want to know who God is, look at Jesus.

Sons and DaughtersSo, we must start with faith. The first step in knowing God better is to know Jesus Christ, who was sent from God (John 6:38). Once we are born again by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can truly begin to learn about God, His character, and His will. “The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10). By contrast, “the person without the Spirit . . . cannot understand [the things of God] because they are discerned only through the Spirit” (verse 14). There is a difference between the “natural” man and the “spiritual” man.

Romans 10:17 says, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ.” It cannot be emphasized enough how the study of God’s Word, the Bible, is paramount to knowing God better. We must, “like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it [we] may grow up in [our] salvation, now that [we] have tasted that the Lord is good” (1 Peter 2:2-3). God’s Word should be our “delight” (Psalm 119:16, 24).

Those who are learning more about God are also those who obey the command to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Born-again believers always have the Holy Spirit, but Ephesians 5:15-21 teaches us to walk in the Spirit and surrender to His will.

Prayer is also an important part of knowing God better. As we pray, we praise God for His character and for what He has done. We spend time with Him, relying on His power and allowing the Spirit to intercede for us “through wordless groans” (Romans 8:26).

Also consider that one can get to know God better by fellowshipping with other believers. The Christian life was not meant to be lived alone. We learn more about God through the preaching of God’s Word and the godly counsel of those who walk with Him. Make the most of your church experience, get involved, do small-group Bible study, go witnessing with fellow believers. Just like a log ablaze on the hearth soon goes out when it is removed and placed aside, so we will lose our fervor for God if we do not fellowship with other believers. But put the log back into the fire with the other logs, and it will burn brightly again.

To summarize how to get to know God better: 1) Accept Christ as your Savior. 2) Read His Word…it is alive (Hebrews 4:12). 3) On an on-going basis, be filled with the Holy Spirit. 4) Seek the Lord through Prayer. 5) Fellowship and live out your life with the saints (Hebrews 10:25).

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Are You ready for the Jewish High Holy Days 5776/2016- 5777/2017?

For our Messianic Jew Brothers and Sisters, Shalom!

“These are My appointed feasts, the appointed feasts of the LORD, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies.”  (Leviticus 23:2)
The very special and holy time known as the High Holy Days—Rosh HaShanah (Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement)—is just around the corner.
These Biblical feasts and fasts, which are called moadim in Hebrew, are appointed times.
The Book of Leviticus in the Torah specifies the reason for each of them and how they are to be celebrated.
Although many people, including Christians, consider these holidays to be “Jewish holidays,” the moadim are in fact God’s Holy Days and festivals.
As such, they are entirely relevant to anyone who wants to know Him and have a better understanding of the New Covenant.  We invite you to share this special season with us!
“These are the LORD’s appointed feasts, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times.”  (Leviticus 23:4)

This Jewish Israeli wears his tallit (prayer shawl) over his head as he blows a
shofar fashioned from a Greater Kudu horn.
Sounding the Shofar in Preparation of Rosh HaShanah
We are now in the final days of Elul, the Hebrew month that is set aside as a time to repent and begin the process of asking for forgiveness in preparation for Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur.
Because of that, the shofar has been and is continuing to be sounded every morning except Shabbat in many Orthodox Jewish communities.
Its piercing, haunting sound stirs our hearts to seek God and repent of the sin in our lives.

Ram’s horn shofar: the call of the shofar is a call to teshuvah (repentance).
A well-known and greatly respected Jewish sage of the Middle Ages, Maimonides, likened the sound of the shofar to an alarm call that awakens us:
“Sleepers, arise from your slumber, and those who are dozing, awake from your lethargy.  Review your actions, repent from your sins, and remember your Creator!”  (Hilchot Teshuvah 3)
Likewise, the Brit Chadashah (New Testament) exhorts us to wake from our spiritual slumber and make the most of our time by loving and following God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength, rather than following empty or frivolous pursuits.
“Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Messiah will shine on you.  Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”  (Ephesians 5:14–16)

An Orthodox man earnestly petitions Elohim (God) at the Western Wall.
Selichot Confessions
As the new year approaches and the month of Elul draws to a close, the call to repentance is being felt all the more urgently throughout the Jewish community.
Since Rosh HaShanah begins on the evening of October 2, special penitential prayers called Selichot (pronounced s’lee-KHOT, meaning forgiveness) were added today to the daily morning prayer service in Ashkenazi communities (Jews of France, Germany, and Eastern Europe and their descendants).
However, the Sephardic Jewish community (Jews of Spain, Portugal, North Africa and the Middle East and their descendants) has been saying these special prayers throughout the month of Elul.
And they are not short; they add an extra 45 minutes to the regular daily morning service.
Moreover, they are often recited before the sun rises.
A central theme found throughout these prayers is the 13 Attributes of Mercy (Shelosh-Esreh Middot), which were revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai and enumerated in Exodus.
“The Lord, The Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion, and sin.  Yet He does not leave the guilty unpunished.”  (Exodus 34:6–7)

Selichot is prayed before the morning prayers.
The Hebrew word selichot is related to slichah, which is the equivalent expression for excuse me, I’m sorry, and forgive me.
Although we strive to live a pure and holy life before God, all of us sin and fall short of the glory of God.
Each one of us needs to repent and seek forgiveness for the many errors we make that hurt both ourselves and others.
“Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD.”   (Lamentations 3:40)

The days before Rosh HaShanah and throughout the High Holy Days are
characterized by seeking and extending forgiveness.
This is a special time in which we request forgiveness from those we have wronged and extend forgiveness to those who have wronged us.
Jewish tradition, in fact, holds that God cannot forgive us for sins that we commit against another until we obtain forgiveness from the person we wronged.
Forgiveness and saying sorry can be life changing.
They are crucial to leaving the past behind and moving forward with God’s plan for our lives.
Asking for forgiveness is pivotal to repentance, a closer walk with God and to successful relationships with our family, friends and our fellowman.

Women pray in Jerusalem.
Yeshua (Jesus) also identified unforgiveness as a critical issue.
He said that it would keep us from receiving forgiveness from our Heavenly Father.
“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”  (Matthew 6:14–15)
Since fallen human nature leads to sin and unforgiveness, God provided this special time to focus on repentance and forgiveness.

A Jewish man seeks God at the Western (Wailing) Wall in Jerusalem.
This period of Selichot, repentance and forgiveness does not end on the last day of Elul, which is next Sunday.
In most Jewish communities, Selichot will continue to be recited in prayer services right through the Days of Awe or Ten Days of Repentance, a special ten-day period that begins with Rosh HaShanah (Jewish New Year) on October 2, and culminates with Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) on October 12.
This ten-day period is an even more intensive time of introspection and self-examination.
It provides everyone the opportunity to survey the condition of their lives and hearts and get right with God.
Yis-RA-El

Yis-RA-El

Interestingly enough, the very name Israel (pronounced Yis-RA-el in Hebrew) can be taken to mean right with God, from two Hebrew words—Yashar (straight, right, or honest) and El (God).

An Orthodox man in Jerusalem meditates on the
Tehillim (Psalms).
During these final days of Elul and throughout the High Holiday season, may we each be challenged to look inside ourselves, asking the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) to reveal hidden sin in our hearts and lives.
Over the next three weeks, please join with the Jewish People worldwide and here in Israel, repeating the prayer of the Psalmist David:
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”  (Psalm 139:23–24)
Amen!

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