Tag Archives: Hebrew language

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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Ancient 2,000 Year Old Charred Scroll Of Leviticus Proves Hebrew Language Has Not Changed

Researchers Reconstruct Early Version of Old Testament Text From Burned Scroll

Digital technology helps scientists read one of the earliest known versions of Leviticus

From a charred Hebrew scroll, researchers resurrected one of the earliest known versions of the Old Testament using a new digital reconstruction technique that may prove invaluable in revealing words from other previously unreadable finds, said scientists who plan to make the imaging software freely available.

“Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.” Jeremiah 15:16 (KJV)

EDITOR’S NOTE: At WHATSHOTN, we receive emails on a regular basis from people trying to assert that the Jews living in regathered Israel today are not the Jews of the Bible, and that the Hebrew spoken in Israel today is not the Hebrew language of the Bible. Those people are wrong on both counts as this exciting revelation for the ancient En-Gedi scroll of Levitcuis proves. God’s promise to preserve His word, His people and His Holy Land is an eternal promise you can count on. 

In research published in Science Advances Wednesday, computer analysts at the University of Kentucky in Lexington detailed the technology they used to reveal text within a roll of parchment reduced to charcoal in a burning synagogue 1,500 years ago, “virtually unwrapping” the scroll without ever actually touching the artifact.

En-Gedi Scroll Of Leviticus Virtually Unwrapped:

This is absolutely amazing….

While important to archaeologists, the digital reconstruction technique also may prove useful for forensic experts intent on recovering words from more modern texts damaged by fire or shredding, they said. The recovery software can be used in conjunction with almost any digital scanning technique.

“Damage and decay are the natural order of things but sometimes you can pull a text back from the brink of loss,” said Kentucky computer scientist William Brent Seales, who led the digital reconstruction. “We were absolutely jubilant.”

The words recovered from the En-Gedi scroll, first made public by the Israel Antiquities Authority last year, are verses from the Book of Leviticus, making it the most ancient scroll from the five books of the Hebrew Torah to be found since the Dead Sea Scrolls. Religious scholars in Israel this week who analyzed the text said it is the earliest known copy of a central book of the Torah exhumed from a holy ark—one that is identical to the text printed in most versions today.

“You can’t imagine our joy when we realized that this was part of the book of Leviticus,” said Pnina Shor, head of the Dead Sea Scrolls project at the Israel Antiquities Authority in Jerusalem.

Researchers at the University of Kentucky have used a new digital reconstruction technique to resurrect one of the earliest known versions of the Old TestamentArchaeologists unearthed the parchment scroll—little more than a sausage-sized chunk of disintegrating debris—in 1970 at the site of a Jewish village in Israel called En-Gedi. The entire town and its synagogue burned to the ground sometime around the year 600, perhaps during a military raid. The scroll was so fragile, however, that nothing at the time could be done to decipher it.

The recovery process began in 2015 when, at Dr. Shor’s request, Merkel Technologies Ltd. near Tel Aviv created a high-resolution 3-D X-ray of the artifact with an imaging technique called micro-computed tomography. They used a commercial micro-CT scanner normally employed to study cancer cells and other bio-medical samples. Those 3-D digital images became the raw material for the computerized reconstruction, funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation and Google Inc.

The computer scientists in Kentucky analyzed the raw digital data in stages. They first mapped the internal structure of the cylindrical roll, like detecting the layers of an onion without peeling it open. Then they analyzed variations in the intensity of the X-ray images that might represent ink, Dr. Seales said. Lastly, they digitally flattened the resulting images, so that any writing on them could be read.

The digital unrolling process gradually revealed five sections of the animal skin that contained about 35 lines of legible Hebrew text written in a metallic ink. The words contained only consonants and no vowels, in the practice of the oldest Hebrew script.

“Most of the text is as readable as the original,” said Biblical studies scholar Michael Segal at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who has analyzed the scroll. “We were immediately struck that the En-Gedi scroll is identical in all details to what we call the authoritative Jewish text in use today.”

Radiocarbon dating of the charcoal parchment performed at the Weizmann Institute and the text analysis suggest the scroll may have been composed as early as the 2nd or 3rd century—about the same time as the creation of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

“For scholars, the scroll brings the good news that the text has not changed for 2,000 years,” said Biblical linguist Emanuel Tov at Hebrew University and the former editor in chief of the international Dead Sea Scrolls Publication Project. “This is quite amazing to us.”

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Perfect

Strong’s defines the word ‘perfect’ as: complete. Aside from the finished work of Jesus’ death on the cross, to my knowledge there is only one thing in the NT that is completed. In 1 Jn 4:17-18 we find that agape love is perfected/completed (v17) and upon completion it casts out fear (v18). Fear is still with us today. Obviously the ‘perfect’ is not here yet, but those resurrected at the Rapture will receive their glorified bodies, and be perfected/completed in the express image (Heb 1:3 NKJV) of God’s nature, the radiance of His glory (Heb 1:3 NASB).

Greek: teleios (G5046) is used to refer perfect/that which has reached an end. 1) It means Prophecies that have been fulfilled have reached an end. 2) Tongues and knowledge will be superseded by a more complete knowledge and means of communication.

The ‘perfect’ will be the eternal state, when we in glory see God face to face. However, this is more of a commitment to the timing of the ‘perfect’ and not a description of the actual essence of the ‘perfect’. The eternal state ties the ‘perfect’ to God’s glory, but what is His glory? The short answer is His agape love.

When the Trinity said, “Let us make man in our image” their intent was to rid man of his sinful nature over a protracted period of time, and change him into a spirit being, completed in the glory of God. This is not exclusive to man, but it pertains to the whole Creation as shown in Romans 8:18-25. It states “ For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God” Rom 8:20-21.

God’s glory and His agape love go hand in hand. This can be seen in Jn 17:21-26. In verse 21 Jesus asks the Father that those whom the Father has chosen would be one as the Father is in Him, and He in the Father. In verse 22, we see that the mechanism for being one is the gift of God’s glory to those whom God has chosen. It reads, “And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one” This has to be the Holy Spirit. He is given to us as “the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory” Eph 1:14. Then in Jn 17 verse 26, we see that the glory that is in us, and makes us one with the Father and the Son, is equated to God’s agape love: “And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”

From 1 Corinthians 13:12 we know that the ‘perfect’ comes when we are face to face with Jesus. It is then that we will be the righteousness of God and know the power of His resurrection (Phil 3:9-10). It is at the resurrection that we shall be perfected (Phil 3:11-12). 1 Jn 2:29 tells us that when we know (eido: to see, be aware, behold) that Jesus is righteous, we will know (gnosko: be aware, perceive, understand) that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him. And 1 Jn 3:2 tells us that when Jesus is revealed, “we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”

Jesus is revealed at His Second Coming. It is at the Rapture that the mystery of Christ’s will, will be made known to those on earth and in heaven, that our inheritance is to be completed in His glory (Eph 1:7-12). 1 Pet 5:4 tells us “when the Chief Shepherd appears, we will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away. And, Col 3:4 tells us “When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” It is then that we will be forever free from our sinful nature. The victory is declared in 1 Jn 3:9 “Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.” And the reason is declared in 1 Jn 3:8 “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.”

First Corinthians 13:10 says: “But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.” “That which is in part” refers to the gifts of prophecy, knowledge and tongues (vs. 8-9). What Paul is saying is that there will be a time when these sign gifts will cease because something better (the “perfect”) will replace them. There is some debate as to what the word “perfect” refers to. The two most common views are the completion of the Bible and the glorification of believers in heaven.

There is a difference between how prophecy and knowledge come to an end, and how the gift of languages (tongues) does, as indicated by the Greek verb forms used. (Prophecy does not mean forecasting or telling the future. The gift of prophecy in its true biblical definition means simply “speaking forth,” or “proclaiming publicly” to which the connotation of prediction was added sometime in the Middle Ages. Since the completion of Scripture, prophecy has not been a means of new revelation, but is limited to proclaiming what has already been revealed in the written Word.)

PerfectProphecy and knowledge are both said to “be abolished,” the verb indicating that something will put an end to those two functions. What will abolish knowledge and prophecy, according to verses 9 and 10, is “that which is perfect.” When that occurs, those gifts will be rendered inoperative. The “perfect” is not the completion of Scripture, since there is still the operation of those two gifts and will be in the future kingdom (Joel 2:28; Acts 2:17; Revelation 11:3). The Scriptures do not allow us to see “face to face” or have perfect knowledge as God does (v. 12). The “perfect” is not the rapture of the church or the second coming of Christ, since the kingdom to follow these events will have an abundance of preachers and teachers (Isaiah 29:18; 32:3, 4 Joel 2:28; Revelation 11:3). The perfect, therefore, must be the eternal state, when we in glory see God face to face (Revelation 22:4) and have full knowledge in the eternal new heavens and new earth. Just as a child grows to full understanding, believers will come to perfect knowledge and no such gifts will be necessary.

On the other hand, Paul uses a different word for the end of the gift of languages, thus indicating it will “cease” by itself, rather than being abolished by something, as it did at the end of the apostolic age. It will not end by the coming of the “perfect,” for it will already have ceased. The uniqueness of the gift of languages and its interpretations was, as all sign gifts, to authenticate the message and messages of the gospel before the NT was completed (Hebrews 2:3, 4). “Tongues” was also limited by being a judicial sign from God of Israel’s judgment (Isaiah 28:11, 12). Tongues was also not a sign to believers, but unbelievers, specifically the unbelieving Jews. Tongues was a means of edification in a way far inferior to preaching and teaching. In fact, chap. 14 was designed to show the Corinthians, so preoccupied with tongues, that it was an inferior means of communication (vv. 1″12), an inferior means of praise (vv. 13″19), and an inferior means of evangelism (vv. 20″25). Prophecy was and is, far superior (vv. 1, 3″6, 24, 29, 31, 39).

First Corinthians 13:10-12 declares, “but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

When shall we see face to face? When shall we know fully, even as we are fully known? This will occur when we pass from this life and enter God’s glorious presence in Heaven. First John 3:2 tells us, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” It is when we are glorified in Heaven that we will truly have put childish ways behind us, till then we as children will mess up, not on purpose but as children.

One more thing, some have said we need to learn Hebrew now, for it will be the kingdom language, I don’t know for sure but I do think there will be a far superior language than Hebrew, though Hebrew is a more advanced language right now, but just as we cannot fathom the expanse of God’s creation now, we also cannot fathom the expanse of God’s language that He will teach us!

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David choose five smooth stones before going to fight Goliath

Some presume that David took five smooth stones instead of just one because he had some doubt. However, there is no indication in the story of David and Goliath that by picking up five smooth stones instead of one that David was doubting God. Rather, David was simply being prepared. What if the Philistines attacked him after he killed Goliath? How would he have defended himself? David was simply being prepared when he took the four additional stones. Also, he couldn’t have known that one stone would be enough to kill the giant. God had not promised that David would kill Goliath with the first stone.

David had experience in defending the sheep he guarded with his sling and stones. It would seem that the animals David had faced were far braver than the men with Goliath, because they all turned and ran away (1 Samuel 17:51). David told Goliath that he (Goliath) came with spear and sword, but his weapon was God the Father (1 Samuel 17:37). He trusted God with all his heart, believing that God would tell him exactly what to do and how. And so He did.

Others speculate that David chose five smooth stones because Goliath had four brothers, and David was readying himself to dispatch all five giants. This theory is based on 2 Samuel 21:15-22. That passage lists four very large Philistines who were related to Goliath in some way: Ishbi-benob, Saph, Goliath, and an unnamed giant with six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot. “These four were born to the giant in Gath, and they fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants” (2 Samuel 21:22). The account of 1 Samuel 17 does not suggest that David knew about Goliath’s brothers or that he believed he would have to fight the whole family. What we know for sure is that David and his men faced four other giants, somehow related to Goliath, in later battles.

David’s faith was in the Lord, and he knew from experience God’s faithfulness. David’s faith was born out of his experience of God’s grace and mercy in his life up to that point. The Lord had delivered him out of dangerous situations in the past, proving His power and trustworthiness, and David relied on Him to deliver him from the Philistine. Whether it took one stone or five, David recognized that the power was not in his sling but in the Lord of hosts. As David wrote later in Psalm 21:13, “Be exalted, O LORD, in your strength; we will sing and praise your might.”

Give the Lord a HandI believe that the five stones are symbolic a picture of Christ who is our rock and our shield. I say that because in the Hebrew language the fifth letter in the Hebrew letter alphabet is the letter “hay” . It has a corresponding picture of an open window that most bible scholars agree is a picture of grace. So here is David boasting in God’s ability, confident that God will deliver this great enemy into his hands, he takes Grace into his hands, five smooth rocks another portrait of God’s Son, smooth and without blemish. I believe that God was revealing something very spiritual to believers through this scripture. He depicted a man who did not rely on his own ability hence him taking off the armor he was supplied with but relying on the grace of God, five smooth stones, a symbol of grace a picture of Jesus who is without blemish, our rock and our shield. It was David’s confidence in who God is and God’s grace toward him that gave David the courage to throw the first stone.

The primary reason that David chose five stones was because in scripture five is a number associated with provision, grace, and fullness. (Gen 4:34, Gen 45:22, I Sam 21:3, Matt 24:17, Mark 8:19 David knew that the victory would come from from God, not from his own strength. David knew that the victory was by the grace of God, not by his own merit. David knew that the victory of God would be complete.

“You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” I Samuel 17:45-47

Just as David credited God, and not his own strength, for the rescue from the bear and lion, he humbly credits the victory to God. Also, David possibly took the five stones because Goliath was not the only giant around. Four are mentioned, at least one of which was Goliath’s brother, in II Samuel 21:18-22. All five of these died by either David’s hand or those under his command. The giants had been wiped out by Joshua from Israel, but some remained in Gaza, Gath (where Goliath was from), ans Ashdod (Josh 11:21-22) While David was only to face Goliath on the battlefield, there was no guarantee that the Philistines would honor the outcome of this “Victory by Championship” battle. Also, even if the philistines left, there was no guarantee that Goliath’s family would not take revenge. Fortunately, the philistine army fled in fear when Goliath was defeated (I Samuel 17:1-58), and it does not appear that the other giants challenged David at this time. They were defeated by David’s men later. In general, he would have taken the multiple stones just as an archer carries more than one arrow in his quiver, or a soldier loads his gun completely. W

Why would he use smooth stones? These smooth stones would have been the swiftest, most aerodynamic, most accurate, and most easily flung from the sling vs. Rough or misshapen stones that might catch on the sling.

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Hebrew Word Meanings

Atonement ~ kaphar

The Hebrew word kaphar means “to cover over” such as a lid and is the word for the lid of the ark of the covenant (though many translations translate this as mercy seat for no etymological reason). This word is translated as pitch which was spread over the ark in order to make it water tight (Genesis 6:14) This same word is also translated as a atonement. The word atonement is an abstract but in order to understand the true Hebrew meaning of a word we must look to the concrete meaning. If an offense has been made the one that has been offended can act as though the offense is covered over and unseen. We express this idea through the word of forgiveness. Atonement is an outward action that covers over the error.

Bless ~ barak

Every word in the Ancient Hebrew language was related to an image of action, something that could be sensed (as observed by the five senses – seen, heard, smelled, touched or felt) and in motion. The word bless, found numerous times in English translations of the Bible, is a purely abstract word that cannot be sensed, nor is it in motion. In order to interpret this word correctly we must find its original concrete meaning. In Genesis 24:11 we read, “And he made the camels “kneel down” outside the city.” The phrase “kneel down” is the Hebrew verb ברך (B.R.K), the very same word translated as “bless.” The concrete meaning of ברך is to kneel down. The extended meaning of this word is to do or give something of value to another. God “blesses” us by providing for our needs and we in turn “bless” God by giving him of ourselves as his servants.

Break ~ parar

While the word keep, as in “keep the commands of God” does not mean obedience but guarding and protecting, the meaning of “break the commands of God” does not mean disobedience. The Hebrew word parar, translated as break, is the treading of grain on the threshing floor by oxen to open up the hulls to remove the seeds. To the Ancient Hebrews, breaking the commands of God was equated with throwing it on the ground and trampling on it. In both cases, keeping and breaking are related to ones attitude toward the commands. A child who disobeys his parents and is genuinely apologetic shows honor and respect to his parents. But a child who willfully disobeys with no sign of remorse has trampled on his parents teachings and deserves punishment.

Command ~ mitsvah

The word command, as well as commandment, is used to translate the Hebrew word mits’vah but does not properly convey the meaning of mits’vah. The word command implies words of force or power as a General commands his troops. The word mits’vah is better understood as a directive. To see the picture painted by this word it is helpful to look at a related word, tsiyon meaning a desert or a landmark. The Ancient Hebrews were a nomadic people who traveled the deserts in search of green pastures for their flocks. A nomad uses the various rivers, mountains, rock outcroppings, etc as landmarks to give them their direction. The verb form of mits’vah is tsavah meaning to direct one on a journey. The mits’vah of the Bible are not commands, or rules and regulations, they are directives or landmarks that we look for to guide us. The word tsiyon meaning landmark is also the word translated as Zion, the mountain of God but, not just a mountain, it is the landmark.

Covenant ~ beriyt

While the Hebrew word beriyt means “covenant” the cultural background of the word is helpful in understanding its full meaning. Beriyt comes from the parent root word bar meaning grain. Grains were fed to livestock to fatten them up to prepare them for the slaughter. Two other Hebrew words related to beriyt and also derived from the parent root bar can help understand the meaning of beriyt. The word beriy means fat and barut means meat. Notice the common theme with bar, beriy and barut, they all have to do with the slaughtering of livestock. The word beriyt is literally the animal that is slaughtered for the covenant ceremony. The phrase “make a covenant” is found thirteen times in the Hebrew Bible. In the Hebrew text this phrase is “karat beriyt”. The word karat literally means “to cut”. When a covenant is made a fattened animal is cut into pieces and laid out on the ground. Each party of the covenant then passes through the pieces signifying that if one of the parties fails to meet the agreement then the other has the right to do to the other what they did to the animal (see Genesis 15:10 and Jeremiah 34:18-20).

Eternity ~ olam

In the ancient Hebrew words that are used to described distance and direction are also used to describe time. The Hebrew word for east is qedem and literally means “the direction of the rising sun”. We use north as our major orientation such as in maps which are always oriented to the north. While we use the north as our major direction the Hebrews used the east and all directions are oriented to this direction. For example one of the words for south is teyman from the root yaman meaning “to the right”. The word qedem is also the word for the past. In the ancient Hebrew mind the past is in front of you while the future is behind you, the opposite way we think of the past and future. The Hebrew word olam means in the far distance. When looking off in the far distance it is difficult to make out any details and what is beyond that horizon cannot be seen. This concept is the olam. The word olam is also used for time for the distant past or the distant future as a time that is difficult to know or perceive. This word is frequently translated as eternity or forever but in the English language it is misunderstood to mean a continual span of time that never ends. In the Hebrew mind it is simply what is at or beyond the horizon, a very distant time. A common phrase in the Hebrew is “l’olam va’ed” and is usually translated as “forever and ever” but in the Hebrew it means “to the distant horizon and again” meaning “a very distant time and even further” and is used to express the idea of a very ancient or future time.

Face ~ Paniym

The Hebrew word פנים (paniym) is a plural noun meaning “face.” As the Hebrew language expresses the idea of motion in most words, this plural noun conveys the ideas of mood, emotions and thoughts, the different motions reflected in the face. This Hebrew word more precisely means the “presence” or the “wholeness of being” of an individual.

Faith ~ Emunah

The Hebrew root aman means firm, something that is supported or secure. This word is used in Isaiah 22:23 for a nail that is fastened to a “secure” place. Derived from this root is the word emun meaning a craftsman. A craftsman is one who is firm and secure in his talent. Also derived from aman is the word emunah meaning firmness, something or someone that is firm in their actions. When the Hebrew word emunah is translated as faith misconceptions of its meaning occur. Faith is usually perceived as a knowing while the Hebrew emunah is a firm action. To have faith in God is not knowing that God exists or knowing that he will act, rather it is that the one with emunah will act with firmness toward God’s will.

Fear ~ yara

The root meaning of the word yara is “to flow” and is related to words meaning rain or stream as a flowing of water. In Hebrew thought fear can be what is felt when in danger or what is felt when in the presence of an awesome sight or person of great authority. These feelings flow out of the person in such as actions as shaking when in fear or bowing down in awe of one in authority.

Firmament ~ raqiya

The word raqiya comes from the root word raqa which can be found in several passages including Isaiah 40:19 – “The idol! a workman casts it, and a goldsmith overlays it with gold, and casts for it silver chains.” The word “overlay” is the verb root raqa. Raqa is the process of hammering out a piece of gold or other metal into thin plates which was then applied to a carved or molten image. Numbers 16:39 reads “So Eleazar the priest took the bronze censers, which those who were burned had offered; and they were hammered out as a covering for the altar.” Here, the phrase “were hammered out” is again the verb root raqa. The gold was hammered into thin sheets then laid over the surface of the alter. The word raqiya is the noun form of the verb raqa and is literally a “hammered out sheet”. There are some scientists who have speculated that before the flood there was a thick sheet of water surrounding the earth up in the atmosphere. It is then possible that the “floodgates of heaven were opened,” at the beginning of the flood, is the collapse of this “hammered out sheet” of water. It is estimated that the sheet of water would have filtered out harmful sun rays and contributed to the longevity of life on earth before the flood.

Fringe ~ tsiytsiyt

In Numbers 15:38-40 God commands Israel to put fringes (tsiytsiy in Hebrew) on the corner of their clothes so that they will remember to do the commands of the torah. As the Hebrew mind focuses on the concrete, God uses physical things as reminders and associations for non-physical things. In this case the fringes are reminders of the commands. The word tsiytsiyt is derived from the root tsiyts meaning a blossom. A blossom is a flower that grows on a tree and is the beginning of the fruit. Just as the blossom turns into a fruit, the fringes on the Hebrews garments are also there to bring about fruit in the sense of doing the commands.

Glory ~ Kavod

In Exodus 16:7 we read “and in the morning you shall see the glory of the LORD” (RSV). What is the “glory” of YHWH? First we must recognize that the “glory” is something that will be seen. Secondly, the word “glory” is an abstract word. If we look at how this word is paralleled with other words in poetical passages of the Bible, we can discover the original concrete meaning of this word. In Psalm 3:3 the kavod of God is paralleled with his shield and in Job 29:20 Job’s kavod is paralleled with his bow. In Psalm 24:8 we read “who is this king of the kavod, YHWH is strong and mighty, YHWH is mighty in battle.” The original concrete meaning of kavod is battle armaments. This meaning of “armament” fits with the literal meaning of the root of kavod which is “heavy” as armaments are the heavy weapons and defenses of battle. In the Exodus 16:7, Israel will “see” the “armament” of YHWH, who is the one who has done battle for them with the Egyptians.

God ~ el/elo’ah

There are two Hebrew words commonly translated as God, el and elo’ah. When reading the Bible it is better to have an Ancient Hebrew perception of God rather than our modern western view. The word el was originally written with two pictographic letters, one being an ox head and the other a shepherd staff. The ox represented strength and the staff of the shepherd represented authority. First, the Ancient Hebrews saw God as the strong one of authority. The shepherd staff was also understood as a staff on the shoulders, a yoke. Secondly, the Ancient Hebrews saw God as the ox in the yoke. When plowing a field two oxen were placed in a yoke, one was the older and more experienced and the other the younger and less experienced and the younger would learn from the older. The Hebrews saw God as the older experienced ox and they as the younger who learns from him. The plural form of elo’ah is elohiym and is often translated as God. While English plurals only identify quantity, as in more than one, the Hebrew plural can identify quantity as well as quality. Something that is of great size or stature can be written in the plural form and in this case, God, as the great strength and authority is frequently written in the plural form elohiym. The two letters in these Hebrew words are the ox head representing strength and the shepherd staff representing authority. Combined they mean “the strong authority” as well as “the ox with a staff” (a yoke is understood as a staff on the shoulders).

Good ~ tov

What does “good” mean? The first use of this word is in Genesis chapter one where calls his handiwork “good”. It should always be remembered that the Hebrews often relate descriptions to functionality. The word tov would best be translated with the word “functional”. When looked at his handiwork he did not see that it was “good”, he saw that it was functional, kind of like a well oiled and tuned machine. In contrast to this word is the Hebrew word “ra”. These two words, tov and ra are used for the tree of the knowledge of “good” and “evil”. While “ra” is often translated as evil it is best translated as “dysfunctional”.

Good News ~ basar

The Hebrew word for Good news, or gospel, is basar. This word actually has two meanings, good news and flesh. What does good news and flesh have in common? Flesh, or meat, was only eaten on very special occasions, a feast, the arrival of guests or whenever an event occurs that requires a celebration. As you can see these times of good news were associated with the slaughter of an animal and a meal of flesh.

Gracious ~ Hhanan

The verb חנן (Hh.N.N) is often translated as “to be gracious” or “have mercy,” however these are abstract terms and do not help us understand the meaning of this verb from an Hebraic perspective, which always relates words to something concrete. One of the best tools to use to find the more concrete meaning of a word is to look at how that word is paralleled with other words in poetical passages. In the book of Psalms the word חנן is paralleled with “heal,” “help,” “raise up,” “refuge” and “give strength.” From a concrete Hebraic perspective, חנן means all of this, and no English word can convey the meaning of the Hebrew, but we could sum up its meaning with “providing protection.” Where would a nomadic Hebrew run for protection? The camp, which in the Hebrew language is the word מחנה (mahhaneh, Strong’s # 4264), a noun related to חנן.

Heart ~ lev

Here is an example of our modern western culture still using a concrete object to express an abstract idea. We often associate the heart with emotions such as love and kindness as in “He has a good heart”. This is also true with the Hebrews who saw the heart as the seat of emotion. But unlike us they also saw the heart as the seat of thought whereas we see the brain as the seat of thought. To the ancient Hebrews the heart was the mind including all thoughts including emotions. When we are told to love God with all our heart (Deut 6:5) it is not speaking of an emotional love but to keep our emotions and all our thoughts working for him. The first picture in this Hebrew word is a shepherd staff and represents authority as the shepherd has authority over his flock. The second letter is the picture of the floor plan of the nomadic tent and represents the idea of being inside as the family resides within the tent. When combined they mean “the authority within”.

Holy ~ qadosh

When we use the word holy, as in a holy person, we usually associate this with a righteous or pious person. If we use this concept when interpreting the word holy in the Hebrew Bible then we are misreading the text as this is not the meaning of the Hebrew word qadosh. Qadosh literally means “to be set apart for a special purpose”. A related word, qedesh, is one who is also set apart for a special purpose but not in the same way we think of “holy” but is a male prostitute (Deut 23:17). Israel was qadosh because they were separated by the other nations as servants of God. The furnishings in the tabernacle were qadosh as they were not to be used for anything except for the work in the tabernacle. While we may not think of ourselves as “holy” we are in fact set apart from the world to be God’s servants and representatives.

Keep ~ shamar

Many times I have heard it said that no one can keep all of the commands but, this is not true. From an Hebraic perspective of the word shamar behind the English word keep, it is possible to keep all of the commands. The problem lies in our understanding of keep as meaning obedience, but this is not the meaning of shamar. It should first be recognized that not all of the commands of the torah are for all people. Some are only for the priests, some are only for men and some are only for women. Some are only for children and some are for leaders. But, it should also be understood that even if a command is not for you, you can still keep it. The original picture painted by the Hebrew word shamar is a sheepfold. When a shepherd was out in the wilderness with his flock, he would gather thorn bushes to erect a corral to place his flock in at night. The thorns would deter predators and thereby protect and guard the sheep from harm. The word shamiyr derived from this root means a thorn. The word shamar means to guard and protect and can be seen in the Aaronic blessing, May Yahweh bless you and keep (guard and protect) you. One keeps the commands of God by guarding and protecting them.

Law ~ torah

To interpret the Hebrew word torah as law is about the same as interpreting the word father as disciplinarian. While the father is a disciplinarian he is much more and in the same way torah is much more than law. The word torah is derived from the root yarah meaning to throw. This can be any kind of throwing such as a rock or an arrow from the bow or throwing the finger in a direction to point something out. Another word derived from this root is the word moreh which can mean and archer, one who throws the arrow, or a teacher, as one who points the way. The word torah is literally the teachings of the teacher or parent. When a parent is teaching a child a new task and he demonstrates a willingness to learn but fails to grasp the teaching completely the parent does not punish the child but rather encourages and builds on the teaching. In contrast to this a law is a set of rules that if not observed correctly will result in punishment and there is no room for teaching. The torah of God are his teachings to his children which are given in love to encourage and strengthen.

Life ~ hhai

The Hebrew word hhai is usually translated as life. In the Hebrew language all words are related to something concrete or physical, something that can be observed by one of the five senses. Some examples of concrete words would be tree, water, hot, sweet or loud. The western Greek mind frequently uses abstracts or mental words to convey ideas. An abstract word is something that cannot be sensed by the five senses. Some examples would be bless, believe, and the word life. Whenever working with an abstract word in the Biblical text it will help to uncover the concrete background to the word for proper interpretation. How did the ancient Hebrew perceive “life”. A clue can be found in Job 38:39, “Will you hunt prey for the lion and will you fill the stomach of the young lion?”. In this verse the word “stomach” is the Hebrew word hhai. What does the stomach have to do with life? In our culture it is very uncommon for anyone to experience true hunger but this was an all too often experience for the Ancient Hebrews. To the Ancient Hebrews life is seen as a full stomach while an empty stomach is seen as death.

Love ~ ahav

We do not choose our parents or siblings but are instead given to us as a gift from above, a privileged gift. Even in the ancient Hebrew culture ones wife was chosen for you. It is our responsibility to provide and protect that privileged gift. In our modern Western culture love is an abstract thought of emotion, how one feels toward another but the Hebrew meaning goes much deeper. As a verb this word means “to provide and protect what is given as a privilege” as well as ” to have an intimacy of action and emotion”. We are told to love God and our neighbors, not in an emotional sense, but in the sense of our actions.

Messiah ~ meshi’ahh

The word Messiah is a transliteration of the Hebrew word meshiahh (meh-shee-ahh – the “hh” is pronounced hard like the “ch” in the name Bach). This word comes from the root mashahh meaning “to smear” as in Jeremiah 22:14 where it is usually translated as “painted”. In the ancient world olive oil was a very versatile commodity. It was used in cooking as well as a medicine as it is a disinfectant, no shepherd was without a flask of olive oil which he smeared on his or his sheep’s injuries. The verb mashahh is also translated as “anointed”, as in Exodus 29:7, in the sense of smearing olive oil on the head. This ceremony was performed on anyone becoming a King, Priest or Prophet in the service of Yahweh. From the root mashahh comes the noun meshiahh literally meaning “one who is smeared with olive oil for office of authority” or, as it is usually translated, “anointed”. This word is also used for any “one who holds an office of authority” (such as a king or priest) even if that person was not ceremonially smeared with oil. A good example of this is Cyrus, the King of Persia. While he was not ceremonially smeared with oil, he was one of authority who served Yahweh through his decree allowing Israel to return to Jerusalem.

Name ~ shem

When we see a name such as “King David” we see the word “King” as a title and “David” as a name. In our western mind a title describes a character trait while a name is simply an identifier. In the Hebrew language there is no such distinction between names and titles. Both words, King and David, are descriptions of character traits, King is “one who reigns” while David is “one who is loved”. It is also common to identify the word “Elohiym” (God) as a title and YHWH (Yahweh, the LORD, Jehovah) as a name. What we do not realize is that both of these are character traits, YHWH meaning “the one who exists” and Elohiym is “one who has power and authority”. The Hebrew word “shem” more literally means “character”. When the Bible speaks of taking God’s name to the nations, he is not talking about the name itself but his character. When the command to not take God’s name in vain literally means not to represent his character in a false manner. It is similar to our expression of “having a good name” which is not about the name itself but the character of the one with that name.

Peace ~ shalom

The noun שלומ (shalom), often translated as “peace,” comes from the verb שלמ (Sh.L.M). The verb shalam means to “restore” in the sense of replacing or providing what is needed in order to make someone or something whole and complete. The noun שלומ (shalom) is one who has, or has been provided, what is needed to be whole and complete.

Praise ~ halel

The word praise is an abstract word that has no relationship with the ancient Hebrew’s concrete way of thinking. While the word halel is translated as “praise” it is also translated as “shine” as in Job 29:3. The original meaning of halel is the North Star. This star, unlike all of the other stars, remains motionless and constantly shines in the northern sky and is used as a guide when traveling. In the Ancient Hebrew mind we praise God by looking at him as the guiding star that shines to show us our direction. The first letter in this Hebrew word (from right to left) is a picture of a man with his arms raised up as pointing toward something of greatness. The second two letters are pictures of a shepherd staff which is used by the shepherd to move his flock toward a direction. When these two letters are combined the idea of looking toward something is formed.

Pray ~ palal

In our modern religious culture prayer is a communication between man and God. While this definition could be applied to some passage of the Bible (such as Genesis 20:17) it is not an Hebraic definition of the Hebrew word palal. By looking at the etymology of this word we can better see the Hebraic meaning. The word palal comes from the parent root pal meaning “fall” (The root pal is most likely the root of our word fall which can etymologically be written as phal). Pal is also the root of the Hebrew word naphal also meaning “fall”. The word palal literally means to “fall down to the ground in the presence of one in authority pleading a cause”. This can be seen in Isaiah 45:14 where the Sabeans fall down and make supplication (this is the Hebrew word palal) to Cyrus.

Priest ~ kohen

While the priests of Israel were the religious leaders of the community this is not the meaning of the word kohen. The Hebrew word for the priests of other nations is komer from a root meaning burn and may be in reference to the priests who burn children in the fires of Molech (2 Kings 23:10). The word kohen comes from a root meaning a base such as the base of a column. The koheniym (plural of kohen) are the structure support of the community. It is their responsibility to keep the community standing tall and straight, a sign of righteousness.

Righteous ~ tsadiyq

What is a righteous person? The word righteous is an abstract word and in order to understand this word from an Hebraic mindset we must uncover its original concrete meaning. One of the best ways to determine the original concrete meaning of a word is to find it being used in a sentence where its concrete meaning can be seen. For example the word yashar is usually translated as upright or righteous (abstracts) but is also translated as “straight”. From this we can conclude that a “yashar” is one who walks a straight line. The problem with the word tsadiyq, and its verb form tsadaq, is that there are no uses of this word in its concrete meaning. The next method is to compare how the word in question is paralleled with other Hebrew words as commonly found in the poetical passages of the Bible. Sometimes these parallels will be synonyms and other times antonyms. When we look at the word tsadiyq we find that it is commonly paralleled with the word “rasha”. Rasha is usually translated as “wicked” but has a concrete meaning of “to depart from the path and become lost”. From this we can conclude that a tsadiyq is one who remains on the path. The path is the course through life which God has outlined for us in his word.

Shine ~ Or

The word אור (or), as a noun means “light” and as a verb, it means to “give light” or “shine.” It is also related to the idea of bringing order, in the same way that you bring about order in the darkness when you turn on the lights.

Spirit ~ ru’ahh

The Hebrew word ru’ach literally means the wind and is derived from the parent root rach a prescribed path. The word rach is not found in the Biblical text but defined by the various child roots derived from it. The child roots derived from this parent root are arach, rachah and yarach. Arach is a traveler who follows a prescribed path from one place to another. Rachah is a millstone which goes round and round in the sense of following a prescribed path to crush grain into flour. Yarach is the root of yere’ach meaning the moon which follows a prescribed path in the night sky. The child root ru’ach is literally the wind that follows a prescribed path each season. By extension ru’ach means the wind of a man or what is usually translated as spirit. A man’s wind is not just a spiritual entity within a man but is understood by the Ancient Hebrews as his character.

Truth ~ emet

The root of this word is aman, a word often translated as “believe” but more literally means “support” as we see in Isaiah 22:23 where it says “I will drive him like a peg in a place of support…” A belief in God is not a mental exercise of knowing that God exists but rather our responsibility to show him our support. The word “emet” has the similar meaning of firmness, something that is firmly set in place. Psalmes 119:142 says, “the ‘Torah’ (the teachings of God) is ’emet’ (set firmly in place).

Wilderness ~ midvar

For forty years God had Israel wander in the ‘wilderness’. Insights into why God had chosen the wilderness for their wanderings can be found in the roots of this word. The root word is ‘davar’ and is most frequently translated as a thing or a word. The original picture painted by this word to the Hebrews is the arrangement of things to create order. Speech is an ordered arrangement of words. In the ancient Hebrew mind words are ‘things’ and are just as ‘real’ as food or other ‘thing’. When a word is spoken to another it is ‘placed in the ears’ no different than when food is given to another it is ‘placed in the mouth’. The Hebrew name Devorah (Deborah) means ‘bee’ and is the feminine form of the word davar. Bees are a community of insects which live in a perfectly ordered arrangement. The word ‘midvar’ meaning wilderness is actually a place that exists as a perfectly arranged order as its ecosystem is in harmony and balance. By placing Israel in this environment he is teaching them balance, order and harmony.

Worship ~ shahhah

In our modern western culture worship is an action directed toward God and God alone. But this is not the case in the Hebrew Bible. The word shehhah is a common Hebrew word meaning to prostrate oneself before another in respect. We see Moses doing this to his father in law in Exodus 18:7. When the translators translate the word shehhah they will use the word “worship” when the bowing down is directed toward God but as “obeisance” or other equivalent word when directed toward another man. There is no Hebrew word meaning worship in the sense that we are used to using it in our culture today. From an Hebraic perspective worship, or shehhah is the act of getting down on ones knees and placing the face down on the ground before another worthy of respect.

Atonement

Atonement

 

 

 

 

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Pre-Face to the KJV Bible

Pre-Face to the KJV Bible

Pre-Face to the KJV Bible

But now what piety without truth? what truth (what saving truth) without the word of God? What word of God (whereof we may be sure) without the Scripture? The Scriptures we are commanded to search, John 5:39, Isa. 8:20. They are commended that searched and studied them, Acts 17:11 and 8:28-29. They are reproved that were unskillful in them, or slow to believe them, Matt. 22:29, Luke 24:25. They can make us wise unto salvation, 2 Tim. 3:15. If we be ignorant, they will instruct us; if out of the way, they will bring us home; if out of order, they will reform us; if in heaviness, comfort us; if dull, quicken us; if cold, inflame us. Tolle, lege; tolle, lege, “take up and read, take up and read” the Scriptures.

A fountain of most pure water springing up unto everlasting life. And what marvel? The original thereof being from heaven, not from earth; the Author being God, not man; the Inditer, the Holy Spirit, not the wit of the apostles or prophets; the penmen such as were sanctified from the womb, and endued with a principal portion of God’s spirit; the matter, verity, piety, purity, uprightness; the form, God’s word, God’s testimony, God’s oracles, the word of truth, the word of salvation, etc.; the effects, light of understanding, stableness of persuasion, repentance from dead works, newness of life, holiness, peace, joy in the Holy Ghost; lastly, the end and reward of the study thereof, fellowship with the saints, participation of the heavenly nature, fruition of an inheritance immortal, undefiled, and that never shall fade away. Happy is the man that delighteth in the Scripture, and thrice happy that meditateth in it day and night.

Translation necessary,
But how shall men meditate in that which they cannot understand? How shall they understand that which is kept close in an unknown tongue? As it is written, “Except I know the power of the voice, I shall be to him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian to me” [1 Cor. 14:11]. The apostle excepteth no tongue; not Hebrew the ancientest, not Greek the most copious, not Latin the finest. Nature taught a natural man to confess that all of us in those tongues which we do not understand are plainly deaf; we may turn the deaf ear unto them. The Scythian counted the Athenian, whom he did not understand, barbarous,
So, lest the church be driven to the like exigent, it is necessary to have translations in a readiness. Translation it is that openeth the window, to let in the light; that breaketh the shell, that we may eat the kernel; that putteth aside the curtain, that we may look into the most holy place; that removeth the cover of the well, that we may come by the water, even as Jacob rolled away the stone from the mouth of the well, by which means the flocks of Laban were watered [Gen. 29:10]. Indeed, without translation into the vulgar tongue, the unlearned are but like children at Jacob’s well (which was deep) [John 4:11] without a bucket or something to draw with; or as that person mentioned by Isaiah, to whom when a sealed book was delivered, with this motion, “Read this, I pray thee,” he was fain to make this answer: “I cannot, for it is sealed” [Isa. 29:11].

The translation of the Old Testament out of the Hebrew into Greek,
While God would be known only in Jacob, and have his name great in Israel, and in none other place; while the dew lay on Gideon’s fleece only, and all the earth besides was dry; then for one and the same people, which spake all of them the language of Canaan — that is, Hebrew — , one and the same original in Hebrew was sufficient [S. August. lib. 12 contra Faust. c. 32]. But when the fulness of time drew near that the Sun of righteousness, the Son of God, should come into the world, whom God ordained to be a reconciliation through faith in His blood, not of the Jew only, but also of the Greek, yea, of all them that were scattered abroad; then lo, it pleased the Lord to stir up the spirit of a Greek prince (Greek for descent and language), even of Ptolemy Philadelph, king of Egypt, to procure the translating of the book of God out of Hebrew into Greek. This is the translation of the Seventy Interpreters, commonly so called, which prepared the way for our Saviour among the Gentiles by written preaching, as St. John Baptist did among the Jews by vocal. For the Grecians, being desirous of learning, were not wont to suffer books of worth to lie moulding in kings’ libraries, but had many of their servants, ready scribes, to copy them out, and so they were dispersed and made common. Again, the Greek tongue was well known and made familiar to most inhabitants in Asia, by reason of the conquest that there the Grecians had made, as also by the Colonies, which thither they had sent. For the same causes also it was well understood in many places of Europe, yea, and of Africa too. Therefore the word of God, being set forth in Greek, becometh hereby like a candle set upon a candlestick, which giveth light to all that are in the house; or like a proclamation sounded forth in the market place, which most men presently take knowledge of; and therefore that language was fittest to contain the Scriptures, both for the first preachers of the gospel to appeal unto for witness, and for the learners also of those times to make search and trial by. It is certain, that that translation was not so sound and so perfect, but it needed in many places correction; and who had been so sufficient for this work as the apostles or apostolic men? Yet it seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to them, to take that which they found (the same being for the greatest part true and sufficient), rather than making a new, in that new world and green age of the church — to expose themselves to many exceptions and cavillations, as though they made a translation to serve their own turn, and therefore bearing a witness to themselves, their witness not to be regarded.

Translation out of Hebrew and Greek into Latin,
There were also, within a few hundred years after Christ, translations many into the Latin tongue; for this tongue also was very fit to convey the law and the gospel by, because in those times very many countries of the West, yea of the South, East and North, spake or understood Latin, being made provinces to the Romans. But now the Latin translations were too many to be all good, for they were infinite (Latini interpretes nullo modo numerari possunt, saith St. Augustine) [S. Augustin. de doctr. Christ. lib. 2 cap. 11]. Again they were not out of the Hebrew fountain (we speak of the Latin translations of the Old Testament) but out of the Greek stream; therefore, the Greek being not altogether clear, the Latin derived from it must needs be muddy. This moved St. Jerome — a most learned father, and the best linguist without controversy of his age or of any that went before him — to undertake the translating of the Old Testament, out of the very fountains themselves; which he performed with that evidence of great learning, judgment, industry, and faithfulness, that he hath forever bound the church unto him in a debt of special remembrance and thankfulness.

The translating of the Scripture into the vulgar tongues,
Now though the Church were thus furnished with Greek and Latin translations, even before the faith of Christ was generally embraced in the empire (for the learned know that even in St. Jerome’s time, the consul of Rome and his wife were both Ethnics, and about the same time the greatest part of the senate also) [S. Hieronym. Marcell. Zosim]; yet for all that the godly-learned were not content to have the Scriptures in the language which they themselves understood, Greek and Latin (as the good lepers were not content to fare well themselves, but acquainted their neighbors with the store that God had sent, that they also might provide for themselves) [2 Ki. 7:9]; but also for the behoof and edifying of the unlearned which hungered and thirsted after righteousness, and had souls to be saved as well as they, they provided translations into the vulgar for their countrymen, insomuch that most nations under heaven did shortly after their conversion, hear Christ speaking unto them in their mother tongue, not by the voice of their minister only, but also by the written word translated. If any doubt hereof, he may be satisfied by examples enough, if enough will serve the turn.

The unwillingness of our chief adversaries that the Scriptures should be divulged in the mother tongue, etc.,
Now the church of Rome would seem at the length to bear a motherly affection towards her children, and to allow them the Scriptures in their mother tongue. But indeed it is a gift, not deserving to be called a gift — an unprofitable gift [δωρον αδωρον κουκ ονησιμον, Sophocles]; they must first get a license in writing before they may use them, and to get that, they must approve themselves to their confessor — that is, to be such as are, if not frozen in the dregs, yet soured with the leaven of their superstition. Howbeit, it seemed too much to Clement the Eighth that there should be any license granted to have them in the vulgar tongue, and therefore he overruleth and frustrateth the grant of Pius the Fourth. [See the observation (set forth by Clement his authority) upon the fourth rule of Pius the Fourth his making in the Index, lib. prohib., pag. 15. ver. 5.] So much are they afraid of the light of the Scripture (Lucifugae Scripturarum, as Tertullian speaketh [Tertul. de resur. carnis]) that they will not trust the people with it — no, not as it is set forth by their own sworn men; no, not with the license of their own bishops and inquisitors. Yea, so unwilling they are to communicate the Scriptures to the people’s understanding in any sort, that they are not ashamed to confess that we forced them to translate it into English against their wills. This seemeth to argue a bad cause, or a bad conscience, or both. Sure we are, that it is not he that hath good gold, that is afraid to bring it to the touchstone, but he that hath the counterfeit; neither is it the true man that shunneth the light, but the malefactor, lest his deeds should be reproved [John 3:20]; neither is it the plain-dealing merchant that is unwilling to have the weights, or the meteyard brought in place, but he that useth deceit. But we will let them alone for this fault, and return to translation.

Reasons inducing us not to stand curiously upon an identity of phrasing,
Another thing we think good to admonish thee of, gentle reader: that we have not tied ourselves to an uniformity of phrasing, or to an identity of words, as some peradventure would wish that we had done, because they observe that some learned men somewhere have been as exact as they could that way. Truly, that we might not vary from the sense of that which we had translated before, if the word signified the same thing in both places (for there be some words that be not of the same sense everywhere [πολυσημα]), we were especially careful, and made a conscience according to our duty. But that we should express the same notion in the same particular word, as for example, if we translate the Hebrew or Greek word once by purpose, never to call it intent; if one where journeying, never travelling; if one where think, never suppose; if one where pain, never ache; if one where joy, never gladness, etc — thus, to mince the matter, we thought to savor more of curiosity than wisdom, and that rather it would breed scorn in the atheist than bring profit to the godly reader. For is the kingdom of God become words or syllables? Why should we be in bondage to them if we may be free, use one precisely when we may use another no less fit, as commodiously? A godly Father in the Primitive time showed himself greatly moved, that one of newfangleness called κραββατον, “σκιμπους” [“a bed”; Niceph. Calist. lib.8. cap.42.], though the difference be little or none; and another reporteth that he was much abused for turning “cucurbita” (to which reading the people had been used) into “hedera” [S. Hieron. in 4. Ionae. See S. Aug. epist. 10.]. Now if this happen in better times, and upon so small occasions, we might justly fear hard censure, if generally we should make verbal and unnecessary changings. We might also be charged (by scoffers) with some unequal dealing towards a great number of good English words. For as it is written of a certain great philosopher, that he should say , that those logs were happy that were made images to be worshipped, for their fellows, as good as they, lay for blocks behind the fire; so if we should say, as it were, unto certain words, “Stand up higher; have a place in the Bible always,” and to others of like quality, “Get ye hence; be banished forever,” we might be taxed peradventure with St. James his words, namely, “To be partial in ourselves, and judges of evil thoughts.” Add hereunto, that niceness in words was always counted the next step to trifling, and so was to be curious about names, too; also, that we cannot follow a better pattern for elocution than God Himself; therefore, He using divers words, in His holy writ, and indifferently for one thing in nature [leptologia;/ adolescia;/ το σρουδαξεινεπι ονομασι; see Euseb. προπαρασκευ. li. 12. ex Platon.], we, if we will not be superstitious, may use the same liberty in our English versions out of Hebrew and Greek, for that copy or store that He hath given us. Lastly, we have on the one side avoided the scrupulosity of the Puritans, who leave the old ecclesiastical words and betake them to other, as when they put washing for baptism, and congregation instead of church; as also on the other side we have shunned the obscurity of the Papists, in their azimes, tunic, rational, holocausts, praepuce, pasche, and a number of such like, whereof their late translation is full — and that of purpose to darken the sense, that since they must needs translate the Bible, yet by the language thereof, it may be kept from being understood. But we desire that the Scripture may speak like itself, as in the language of Canaan, that it may be understood even of the very vulgar.

Many other things we might give thee warning of, gentle reader, if we had not exceeded the measure of a preface already. It remaineth that we commend thee to God, and to the Spirit of His grace, which is able to build further than we can ask or think. He removeth the scales from our eyes, the veil from our hearts, opening our wits that we may understand His word, enlarging our hearts; yea, correcting our affections, that we may love it to the end. Ye are brought unto fountains of living water which ye digged not; do not cast earth into them with the Philistines [Gen. 26:15], neither prefer broken pits before them with the wicked Jews [Jer. 2:13]. Others have laboured, and you may enter into their labours. O receive not so great things in vain, O despise not so great salvation! Be not like swine to tread under foot so precious things, neither yet like dogs to tear and abuse holy things. Say not to our Saviour with the Gergesites, “Depart out of our coasts” [Matt. 8:34]; neither yet with Esau sell your birthright for a mess of pottage [Heb. 12:16]. If light be come into the world, love not darkness more than light; if food, if clothing be offered, go not naked, starve not yourselves. Remember the advice of Nazianzene, “It is a grievous thing (or dangerous) to neglect a great fair, and to seek to make markets afterwards” [Ναζιανζ. περι αγ. βαπτ. δεινον πανηγυριν παρελθειν και τηνικαυτα πραγματειαν επιζητειν]; also the encouragement of St. Chrysostom, “It is altogether impossible, that he that is sober (and watchful) should at any time be neglected” [S. Chrysost. in epist. ad Rom. cap. 14. orat. 26. in ηθικ. αμηχανον σφοδρα αμηχανον]; lastly, the admonition and menacing of St. Augustine, “They that despise God’s will inviting them, shall feel God’s will taking vengeance of them” [S. August. ad artic. sibi falso object. Artic. 16.]. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God [Heb. 10:31]; but a blessed thing it is, and will bring us to everlasting blessedness in the end, when God speaketh unto us, to hearken; when He setteth His word before us, to read it; when He stretcheth out His hand and calleth, to answer, “Here am I! here we are to do thy will, O God.” The Lord work a care and conscience in us to know Him and serve Him, that we may be acknowledged of Him at the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom, with the Holy Ghost, be all praise and thanksgiving. In Jesus name, Amen.

Bible in 1 year: January Readings: Jan 1: Gen 1 – 1-3

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. (Gen 1:1-3 KJV)

The first verse of the Bible gives us a satisfying and useful account of the origin of the earth and the heavens. The faith of humble Christians understands this better than the fancy of the most learned men. From what we see of heaven and earth, we learn the power of the great Creator. And let our make and place as men, remind us of our duty as Christians, always to keep heaven in our eye, and the earth under our feet. The Son of God, one with the Father, was with him when he made the world; nay, we are often told that the world was made by him, and nothing was made without him. Oh, what high thoughts should there be in our minds, of that great God whom we worship, and of that great Mediator in whose name we pray! And here, at the beginning of the sacred volume, we read of that Divine Spirit, whose work upon the heart of man is so often mentioned in other parts of the Bible. Observe, that at first there was nothing desirable to be seen, for the world was without form, and void; it was confusion, and emptiness. In like manner the work of grace in the soul is a new creation: and in a graceless soul, one that is not born again, there is disorder, confusion, and every evil work: it is empty of all good, for it is without God; it is dark, it is darkness itself: this is our condition by nature, till Almighty grace works a change in us.

God said, Let there be light; he willed it, and at once there was light. Oh, the power of the word of God! And in the new creation, the first thing that is wrought in the soul is light: the blessed Spirit works upon the will and affections by enlightening the understanding.

In these verses we have the work of creation in its epitome and in its embryo. In its epitome, (Gen 1:1 KJV) In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. where we find, to our comfort, the first article of our creed, that God the Father Almighty is the Maker of heaven and earth, and as such we believe in him.

Observe, in this verse, four things: The effect produced – the heaven and the earth, that is, the world, including the whole frame and furniture of the universe, (Act 17:24 KJV) God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;

The world is a great house, consisting of upper and lower stories, the structure stately and magnificent, uniform and convenient, and every room well and wisely furnished. It is the visible part of the creation that Moses here designs to account for; therefore he mentions not the creation of angels. But as the earth has not only its surface adorned with grass and flowers, but also its bowels enriched with metals and precious stones (which partake more of its solid nature and more valuable, though the creation of them is not mentioned here), so the heavens are not only beautified to our eye with glorious lamps which garnish its outside, of whose creation we here read, but they are within replenished with glorious beings, out of our sight, more celestial, and more surpassing them in worth and excellency than the gold or sapphires surpass the lilies of the field.

In the visible world it is easy to observe:

Great variety, several sorts of beings vastly differing in their nature and constitution from each other. Lord, how manifold are thy works, and all good!
Great beauty. The azure sky and verdant earth are charming to the eye of the curious spectator, much more the ornaments of both. How transcendent then must the beauty of the Creator be!
Great exactness and accuracy. To those that, with the help of microscopes, narrowly look into the works of nature, they appear far more fine than any of the works of art.
Great power. It is not a lump of dead and inactive matter, but there is virtue, more or less, in every creature: the earth itself has a magnetic power.
Great order, a mutual dependence of beings, an exact harmony of motions, and an admirable chain and connection of causes.
Great mystery. There are phenomena in nature which cannot be solved, secrets which cannot be fathomed nor accounted for. But from what we see of heaven and earth we may easily enough infer the eternal power and Godhead of the great Creator, and may furnish ourselves with abundant matter for his praises. And let our make and place, as men, remind us of our duty as Christians, which is always to keep heaven in our eye and the earth under our feet.

The author and cause of this great work – God. The Hebrew word is Elohim, which bespeaks, the power of God the Creator. El signifies the strong God; and what less than almighty strength could bring all things out of nothing?

The plurality of persons in the Godhead, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. This plural name of God, in Hebrew, which speaks of him as many though he is one, was to the Gentiles perhaps a savour of death unto death, hardening them in their idolatry; but it is to us a savour of life unto life, confirming our faith in the doctrine of the Trinity, which, though but darkly intimated in the Old Testament, is clearly revealed in the New.

The Son of God, the eternal Word and Wisdom of the Father, was with him when he made the world, (Pro 8:30 KJV) Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; nay, we are often told that the world was made by him, and nothing made without him, (Joh 1:3 KJV) All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. (Joh 1:10 KJV) He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. (Eph 3:9 KJV) And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: (Col 1:16 KJV) For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: (Heb 1:2 KJV) Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

O what high thoughts should this form in our minds of that great God whom we draw nigh to in religious worship, and that great Mediator in whose name we draw nigh!

The manner in which this work was effected: (Gen 1:1 KJV) God created the heaven and the earth. that is, made it out of nothing. There was not any pre-existent matter out of which the world was produced. The fish and fowl were indeed produced out of the waters and the beasts and man out of the earth; but that earth and those waters were made out of nothing. By the ordinary power of nature, it is impossible that any thing should be made out of nothing; no artificer can work, unless he has something to work on. But by the almighty power of God it is not only possible that something should be made of nothing (the God of nature is not subject to the laws of nature), but in the creation it is impossible it should be otherwise, for nothing is more injurious to the honour of the Eternal Mind than the supposition of eternal matter. Thus the excellency of the power is of God and all the glory is to him.

When this work was produced: (Gen 1:1 KJV) In the beginning that is, in the beginning of time, when that clock was first set a going: time began with the production of those beings that are measured by time. Before the beginning of time there was none but that Infinite Being that inhabits eternity. Should we ask why God made the world no sooner, we should but darken counsel by words without knowledge; for how could there be sooner or later in eternity? And he did make it in the beginning of time, according to his eternal counsels before all time. The Jewish Rabbies have a saying, that there were seven things which God created before the world, by which they only mean to express the excellency of these things: – The law, repentance, paradise, hell, the throne of glory, the house of the sanctuary, and the name of the Messiah. But to us it is enough to say, (Joh 1:1 KJV) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Let us learn hence, that atheism is folly, and atheists are the greatest fools in nature; for they see there is a world that could not make itself, and yet they will not own there is a God that made it. Doubtless, they are without excuse, but the god of this world has blinded their minds.

That God is sovereign Lord of all by an incontestable right. If he is the Creator, no doubt he is the owner and possessor of heaven and earth.

That with God all things are possible, and therefore happy are the people that have him for their God, and whose help and hope stand in his name, (Psa 121:2 KJV) My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth. (Psa 124:8 KJV) Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth.

That the God we serve is worthy of, and yet is exalted far above, all blessing and praise, (Neh 9:5 KJV) Then the Levites, Jeshua, and Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabniah, Sherebiah, Hodijah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah, said, Stand up and bless the LORD your God for ever and ever: and blessed be thy glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise. (Neh 9:6 KJV) Thou, even thou, art LORD alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee.

If he made the world, he needs not our services, nor can be benefited by them, (Act 17:24 KJV) God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; (Act 17:25 KJV) Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; and yet he justly requires them, and deserves our praise, (Rev 4:11 KJV) Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. If all is of him, all must be to him.

Here is the work of creation in its embryo, (Gen 1:2 KJV) And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. where we have an account of the first matter and the first mover.

A chaos was the first matter. It is here called the earth (though the earth, properly taken, was not made till the third day, (Gen 1:10 KJV) And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good. because it did most resemble that which afterwards was called (Gen 1:2 KJV) And the earth mere earth, destitute of its ornaments, such a heavy unwieldy mass was it; it is also called the deep, both for its vastness and because the waters which were afterwards separated from the earth were now mixed with it. This immense mass of matter was it out of which all bodies, even the firmament and visible heavens themselves, were afterwards produced by the power of the Eternal Word. The Creator could have made his work perfect at first, but by this gradual proceeding he would show what is, ordinarily, the method of his providence and grace.

Observe the description of this chaos. There was nothing in it desirable to be seen, for it (Gen 1:2 KJV) was without form, and void; Toho and Bohu, confusion and emptiness; so these words are rendered, (Isa 34:11 KJV) But the cormorant and the bittern shall possess it; the owl also and the raven shall dwell in it: and he shall stretch out upon it the line of confusion, and the stones of emptiness.

It was shapeless, it was useless, it was without inhabitants, without ornaments, the shadow or rough draught of things to come, and not the image of the things, (Heb 10:1 KJV) For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.

The earth is almost reduced to the same condition again by the sin of man, under which the creation groans. (Jer 4:23 KJV) I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light. To those who have their hearts in heaven this lower world, in comparison with that upper, still appears to be nothing but confusion and emptiness. There is no true beauty to be seen, no satisfying fulness to be enjoyed, in this earth, but in God only.

If there had been any thing desirable to be seen, yet there was no light to see it by; (Gen 1:2 KJV) and darkness thick darkness, (Gen 1:2 KJV) was upon the face of the deep. God did not create this darkness (as he is said to create the darkness of affliction, (Isa 45:7 KJV) I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things. for it was only the want of light, which yet could not be said to be wanted till something was made that might be seen by it; nor needs the want of it be much complained of, when there was nothing to be seen but confusion and emptiness. If the work of grace in the soul is a new creation, this chaos represents the state of an unregenerate graceless soul: there is disorder, confusion, and every evil work; it is empty of all good, for it is without God; it is dark, it is darkness itself. This is our condition by nature, till almighty grace effects a blessed change.

The Spirit of God was the first mover: (Gen 1:2 KJV) And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. When we consider the earth without form and void, methinks it is like the valley full of dead and dry bones. Can these live? Can this confused mass of matter be formed into a beautiful world? Yes, if a spirit of life from God enter into it, (Eze 37:9 KJV) Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.

Now there is hope concerning this thing; for the Spirit of God begins to work, and, if he work, who or what shall hinder? God is said to make the world by his Spirit, (Psa 33:6 KJV) By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. (Job 26:13 KJV) By his spirit he hath garnished the heavens; his hand hath formed the crooked serpent. and by the same mighty worker the new creation is effected. He moved upon the face of the deep, as Elijah stretched himself upon the dead child, – as the hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and hovers over them, to warm and cherish them, (Mat 23:37 KJV) O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! as the eagle stirs up her nest, and flutters over her young (it is the same world that is here used), (Deu 32:11 KJV) As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings:

Learn hence, that God is not only the author of all being, but the fountain of life and spring of motion. Dead matter would be for ever dead if he did not quicken it. And this makes it credible to us that God should raise the dead. That power which brought such a world as this out of confusion, emptiness, and darkness, at the beginning of time, can, at the end of time, bring our vile bodies out of the grave, though it is (Job 10:22 KJV) A land of darkness, as darkness itself; and of the shadow of death, without any order, and where the light is as darkness. and can make them glorious bodies.

We have here a further account of the first day’s work, in which observe, that the first of all visible beings which God created was light; not that by it he himself might see to work (for the darkness and light are both alike to him), but that by it we might see his works and his glory in them, and might work our works while it is day. The works of Satan and his servants are works of darkness; but he that doeth truth, and doeth good, cometh to the light, and coveteth it, that his deeds may be made manifest, (Joh 3:21 KJV) But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

Light is the great beauty and blessing of the universe. Like the first-born, it does, of all visible beings, most resemble its great Parent in purity and power, brightness and beneficence; it is of great affinity with a spirit, and is next to it; though by it we see other things, and are sure that it is, yet we know not its nature, nor can describe what it is, or by what way the light is parted, (Job 38:19 KJV) Where is the way where light dwelleth? and as for darkness, where is the place thereof, (Job 38:24 KJV) By what way is the light parted, which scattereth the east wind upon the earth?

By the sight of it let us be led to, and assisted in, the believing contemplation of him who is light, infinite and eternal light, (1Jn 1:5 KJV) This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. and the Father of lights, (Jas 1:17 KJV) Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. and who dwells in inaccessible light, (1Ti 6:16 KJV) Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.

In the new creation, the first thing wrought in the soul is light: the blessed Spirit captives the will and affections by enlightening the understanding, so coming into the heart by the door, like the good shepherd whose own the sheep are, while sin and Satan, like thieves and robbers, climb up some other way. Those that by sin were darkness by grace become light in the world.

That the light was made by the word of God’s power. (Gen 1:3 KJV) And God said, Let there be light: he willed and appointed it, and it was done immediately: (Gen 1:3 KJV) and there was light. such a copy as exactly answered the original idea in the Eternal Mind. O the power of the word of God! He spoke, and it was done, done really, effectually, and for perpetuity, not in show only, and to serve a present turn, for he commanded, and it stood fast: with him it was dictum, factum – a word, and a world. The world of God (that is, his will and the good pleasure of it) is quick and powerful. Christ is the Word, the essential eternal Word, and by him the light was produced, for in him was light, and he is the true light, the light of the world, (Joh 1:9 KJV) That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. (Joh 9:5 KJV) As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. The divine light which shines in sanctified souls is wrought by the power of God, the power of his word and of the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, opening the understanding, scattering the mists of ignorance and mistake, and giving the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ, as at first, (2Co 4:6 KJV) For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Darkness would have been perpetually upon the face of fallen man if the Son of God had not come, and given us an understanding, (1Jn 5:20 KJV) And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.

Bible in 1 year: January Readings: Jan 2: Gen 1: 4-7

And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. (Gen 1: 4-7 KJV)

The light which God willed, he approved of. God divided the light from the darkness; for what fellowship has light with darkness? In heaven there is perfect light, and no darkness at all; in hell, utter darkness, and no gleam of light. The day and the night are the Lord’s; let us use both to his honour, by working for him every day, and resting in him every night, meditating in his law both day and night. The earth was emptiness, but by a word spoken, it became full of God’s riches, and his they are still.

That the light which God willed, when it was produced, he approved of: (Gen 1:4 KJV) And God saw the light, that it was good: It was exactly as he designed it, and it was fit to answer the end for which he designed it. It was useful and profitable; the world, which now is a palace, would have been a dungeon without it. It was amiable and pleasant. (Ecc 11:7 KJV) Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun: (Pro 15:30 KJV) The light of the eyes rejoiceth the heart: and a good report maketh the bones fat.

What God commands he will approve and graciously accept; he will be well pleased with the work of his own hands. That is good indeed which is so in the sight of God, for he sees not as man sees. If the light is good, how good is he that is the fountain of light, from whom we receive it, and to whom we owe all praise for it and all the services we do by it!

(Gen 1:4 KJV) and God divided the light from the darkness. so put them asunder as that they could never be joined together, or reconciled; for what fellowship has light with darkness? (2Co 6:14 KJV) Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And yet he divided time between them, the day for light and the night for darkness, in a constant and regular succession to each other.

Though the darkness was now scattered by the light, yet it was not condemned to a perpetual banishment, but takes its turn with the light, and has its place, because it has its use; for, as the light of the morning befriends the business of the day, so the shadows of the evening befriend the repose of the night, and draw the curtains about us, that we may sleep the better. (Job 7:2 KJV) As a servant earnestly desireth the shadow, and as an hireling looketh for the reward of his work:

God has thus divided time between light and darkness, because he would daily remind us that this is a world of mixtures and changes. In heaven there is perfect and perpetual light, and no darkness at all; in hell, utter darkness, and no gleam of light. In that world between these two there is a great gulf fixed; but, in this world, they are counterchanged, and we pass daily from one to another, that we may learn to expect the like vicissitudes in the providence of God, peace and trouble, joy and sorrow, and may set the one over-against the other, accommodating ourselves to both as we do to the light and darkness, bidding both welcome, and making the best of both.

That God divided them from each other by distinguishing names: (Gen 1:5 KJV) And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. He gave them names, as the Lord of both; for the day is his, the night also is his, (Psa 74:16 KJV) The day is thine, the night also is thine: thou hast prepared the light and the sun.

He is the Lord of time, and will be so, till day and night shall come to an end, and the stream of time be swallowed up in the ocean of eternity. Let us acknowledge God in the constant succession of day and night, and consecrate both to his honour, by working for him every day and resting in him every night, and meditating in his law day and night.

That this was the first day’s work, and a good day’s work it was. (Gen 1:5 KJV) And the evening and the morning were the first day. The darkness of the evening was before the light of the morning, that it might serve for a foil to it, to set it off, and make it shine the brighter. This was not only the first day of the world, but the first day of the week. I observe it to the honour of that day, because the new world began on the first day of the week likewise, in the resurrection of Christ, as the light of the world, early in the morning. In him the day-spring from on high has visited the world; and happy are we, for ever happy, if that day-star arise in our hearts.

We have here an account of the second day’s work, the creation of the firmament, in which observe, the command of God concerning it: (Gen 1:6 KJV) And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. so the Hebrew word signifies, like a sheet spread, or a curtain drawn out. This includes all that is visible above the earth, between it and the third heavens: the air, its higher, middle, and lower, regions – the celestial globe, and all the spheres and orbs of light above: it reaches as high as the place where the stars are fixed, for that is called here the firmament of heaven, (Gen 1:14 KJV) And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: (Gen 1:15 KJV) And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. and as low as the place where the birds fly, for that also is called the firmament of heaven, (Gen 1:20 KJV) And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

When God had made the light, he appointed the air to be the receptacle and vehicle of its beams, and to be as a medium of communication between the invisible and the visible world; for, though between heaven and earth there is an inconceivable distance, yet there is not an impassable gulf, as there is between heaven and hell. This firmament is not a wall of partition, but a way of intercourse. (Job 26:7 KJV) He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing. (Job 37:18 KJV) Hast thou with him spread out the sky, which is strong, and as a molten looking glass? (Psa 104:3 KJV) Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind: (Amo 9:6 KJV) It is he that buildeth his stories in the heaven, and hath founded his troop in the earth; he that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name.

The creation of it. Lest it should seem as if God had only commanded it to be done, and some one else had done it, he adds, (Gen 1:7 KJV) And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. What God requires of us he himself works in us, or it is not done. He that commands faith, holiness, and love, creates them by the power of his grace going along with his word, that he may have all the praise. Lord, give what thou commandest, and then command what thou pleasest. The firmament is said to be the work of God’s fingers, (Psa 8:3 KJV) When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; Though the vastness of its extent declares it to be the work of his arm stretched out, yet the admirable fineness of its constitution shows that it is a curious piece of art, the work of his fingers.

The use and design of it – to divide the waters from the waters, that is, to distinguish between the waters that are wrapped up in the clouds and those that cover the sea, the waters in the air and those in the earth. See the difference between these two carefully observed, (Deu 11:10 KJV) For the land, whither thou goest in to possess it, is not as the land of Egypt, from whence ye came out, where thou sowedst thy seed, and wateredst it with thy foot, as a garden of herbs: (Deu 11:11 KJV) But the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven: where Canaan is upon this account preferred to Egypt, that Egypt was moistened and made fruitful with the waters that are under the firmament, but Canaan with waters from above, out of the firmament, even the dew of heaven, which tarrieth not for the sons of men, (Mic 5:7 KJV) And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from the LORD, as the showers upon the grass, that tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men.

God has, in the firmament of his power, chambers, store-chambers, whence he watereth the earth, (Psa 104:13 KJV) He watereth the hills from his chambers: the earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy works. (Psa 65:9 KJV) Thou visitest the earth, and waterest it: thou greatly enrichest it with the river of God, which is full of water: thou preparest them corn, when thou hast so provided for it. (Psa 65:10 KJV) Thou waterest the ridges thereof abundantly: thou settlest the furrows thereof: thou makest it soft with showers: thou blessest the springing thereof.

He has also treasures, or magazines, of snow and hail, which he hath reserved against the day of battle and war, (Job 38:22 KJV) Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail, (Job 38:23 KJV) Which I have reserved against the time of trouble, against the day of battle and war?

O what a great God is he who has thus provided for the comfort of all that serve him and the confusion of all that hate him! It is good having him our friend, and bad having him our enemy.

Bible in 1 year: January Readings: Jan 3: Gen 1: 8-11

And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day. And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good. And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. (Gen 1:8-11 KJV)

Though the use of them is allowed to man, they are from God, and to his service and honour they must be used. The earth, at his command, brings forth grass, herbs, and fruits. God must have the glory of all the benefit we receive from the produce of the earth.

The naming of it: (Gen 1:8 KJV) And God called the firmament Heaven. It is the visible heaven, the pavement of the holy city; above the firmament God is said to have his throne, (Eze 1:26 KJV) And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it. for he has prepared it in the heavens; the heavens therefore are said to rule, (Dan 4:26 KJV) And whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the tree roots; thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule. (Job 22:12 KJV) Is not God in the height of heaven? and behold the height of the stars, how high they are!

Yes, he is, and we should be led by the contemplation of the heavens that are in our eye to consider our Father who is in heaven. The height of the heavens should remind us of God’s supremacy and the infinite distance there is between us and him; the brightness of the heavens and their purity should remind us of his glory, and majesty, and perfect holiness; the vastness of the heavens, their encompassing of the earth, and the influence they have upon it, should remind us of his immensity and universal providence. (Gen 1:8 KJV) And the evening and the morning were the second day.

The third day’s work is related in these verses – the forming of the sea and the dry land, and the making of the earth fruitful. Hitherto the power of the Creator had been exerted and employed about the upper part of the visible word; the light of heaven was kindled, and the firmament of heaven fixed: but now he descends to this lower world, the earth, which was designed for the children of men, designed both for their habitation and for their maintenance; and here we have an account of the fitting of it for both, and building of their house and the spreading of their table.

Observe, how the earth was prepared to be a habitation for man, by the gathering of the waters together, and the making of the dry land to appear. Thus, instead of the confusion which there was (Gen 1:2 KJV) And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. when earth and water were mixed in one great mass, behold, now, there is order, by such a separation as rendered them both useful.

(Gen 1:9 KJV) And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. God said, Let it be so, and it was so; no sooner said than done. The waters which had covered the earth were ordered to retire, and to gather into one place, namely, those hollows which were fitted and appointed for their reception and rest. (Gen 1:10 KJV) And God called the dry land Earth;

The waters, thus cleared, thus collected, and thus lodged, in their proper place, (Gen 1:10 KJV) and the gathering together of the waters called the Seas: and God saw that it was good. Though they are many, in distant regions, and washing several shores, yet, either above ground or under ground, they have communication with each other, and so they are one, and the common receptacle of waters, into which all the rivers flow, (Ecc 1:7 KJV) All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.

Waters and seas often, in scripture, signify troubles and afflictions, (Psa 42:7 KJV) Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me. (Psa 69:2 KJV) I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me. (Psa 69:14 KJV) Deliver me out of the mire, and let me not sink: let me be delivered from them that hate me, and out of the deep waters. (Psa 69:15 KJV) Let not the waterflood overflow me, neither let the deep swallow me up, and let not the pit shut her mouth upon me.

God’s own people are not exempted from these in this world; but it is their comfort that they are only waters under the heaven (there are none in heaven), and that they are all in the place that God has appointed them and within the bounds that he has set for them. How the waters were gathered together at first, and how they are still bound and limited by the same Almighty had that first confined them, are elegantly described, (Psa 104:6 KJV) Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a garment: the waters stood above the mountains. (Psa 104:7 KJV) At thy rebuke they fled; at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away. (Psa 104:8 KJV) They go up by the mountains; they go down by the valleys unto the place which thou hast founded for them. (Psa 104:9 KJV) Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over; that they turn not again to cover the earth. and are there mentioned as matter of praise.

Those that go down to the sea in ships ought to acknowledge daily the wisdom, power, and goodness, of the Creator, in making the great waters serviceable to man for trade and commerce; and those that tarry at home must own themselves indebted to him that keeps the sea with bars and doors in its decreed place, and stays its proud waves, (Job 38:10 KJV) And brake up for it my decreed place, and set bars and doors, (Job 38:11 KJV) And said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed?

The dry land was made to appear, and emerge out of the waters, and was called earth, and given to the children of men. The earth, it seems, was in being before; but it was of no use, because it was under water. Thus many of God’s gifts are received in vain, because they are buried; make them to appear, and they become serviceable. We who, to this day, enjoy the benefit of the dry land (though, since this, it was once deluged, and dried again) must own ourselves tenants to, and dependents upon, that God whose hands formed the dry land, (Psa 95:5 KJV) The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land. (Jon 1:9 KJV) And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land.

How the earth was furnished for the maintenance and support of man, (Gen 1:11 KJV) And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, Present provision was now made, by the immediate products of the upstart earth, which, in obedience to God’s command, was no sooner made than it became fruitful, and brought forth grass for the cattle and herb for the service of man. Provision was likewise made for time to come, by the perpetuating of the several kinds of vegetables, which are numerous, various, and all curious, and every one (Gen 1:11 KJV) the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: that, during the continuance of man upon the earth, food might be fetched out of the earth for his use and benefit. (Gen 1:11 KJV) and it was so. Lord, what is man, that he is thus visited and regarded – that such care should be taken, and such provision made, for the support and preservation of those guilty and obnoxious lives which have been a thousand times forfeited!

Bible in 1 year: January Readings: Jan 4: Gen 1: 12-15

And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the third day. And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. (Gen 1:12-15 KJV)

God must have the glory of all the benefit we receive from the produce of the earth. If we have, through grace, an interest in Him who is the Fountain, we may rejoice in him when the streams of temporal mercies are dried up.

In the fourth day’s work, the creation of the sun, moon, and stars is accounted for. All these are the works of God. The stars are spoken of as they appear to our eyes, without telling their number, nature, place, size, or motions; for the Scriptures were written, not to gratify curiosity, or make us astronomers, but to lead us to God, and make us saints. The lights of heaven are made to serve him; they do it faithfully, and shine in their season without fail.

Observe here, that not only the earth is the Lord’s, but the fulness thereof, and he is the rightful owner and sovereign disposer, not only of it, but of all its furniture. The earth was emptiness, (Gen 1:2 KJV) And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. but now, by a word’s speaking, it has become full of God’s riches, (Gen 1:12 KJV) And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. and his they are still – (Hos 2:9 KJV) Therefore will I return, and take away my corn in the time thereof, and my wine in the season thereof, and will recover my wool and my flax given to cover her nakedness. Though the use of them is allowed to us, the property still remains in him, and to his service and honour they must be used.

That common providence is a continued creation, and in it our Father worketh hitherto. The earth still remains under the efficacy of this command, to bring forth grass, and herbs, and its annual products; and though, being according to the common course of nature, these are not standing miracles, yet they are standing instances of the unwearied power and unexhausted goodness of the world’s great Maker and Master.

That though God, ordinarily, makes use of the agency of second causes, according to their nature, yet he neither needs them nor is tied to them; for, though the precious fruits of the earth are usually brought forth by the influences of the sun and moon, (Deu 33:14 KJV) And for the precious fruits brought forth by the sun, and for the precious things put forth by the moon, yet here we find the earth bearing a great abundance of fruit, probable ripe fruit, before the sun and moon were made.

That it is good to provide things necessary before we have occasion to use them: before the beasts and man were made, here were grass and herbs prepared for them. God thus dealt wisely and graciously with man; let not man then be foolish and unwise for himself.

That God must have the glory of all the benefit we receive from the products of the earth, either for food or physic. It is he that hears the heavens when they hear the earth, (Hos 2:21 KJV) And it shall come to pass in that day, I will hear, saith the LORD, I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth; (Hos 2:22 KJV) And the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil; and they shall hear Jezreel.

And if we have, through grace, an interest in him who is the fountain, when the streams are dried up and the fig-tree doth not blossom we may rejoice in him. (Gen 1:13 KJV) And the evening and the morning were the third day.

This is the history of the fourth day’s work, the creating of the sun, moon, and stars, which are here accounted for, not as they are in themselves and in their own nature, to satisfy the curious, but as they are in relation to this earth, to which they serve as lights; and this is enough to furnish us with matter for praise and thanksgiving. Holy Job mentions this as an instance of the glorious power of God, that (Job 26:13 KJV) By his spirit he hath garnished the heavens; his hand hath formed the crooked serpent. and here we have an account of that garniture which is not only so much the beauty of the upper world, but so much the blessing of this lower; for though heaven is high, yet has it respect to this earth, and therefore should have respect from it.

Of the creation of the lights of heaven we have an account, in general, where we have the command given concerning them: (Gen 1:14 KJV) And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven (Gen 1:3 KJV) And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. and there was light; but this was, as it were, a chaos of light, scattered and confused: now it was collected and modelled, and made into several luminaries, (Gen 1:14 KJV) to divide the day from the night; and so rendered both more glorious and more serviceable. God is the God of order, and not of confusion; and, as he is light, so he is the Father and former of lights. Those lights were to be (Gen 1:14 KJV) in the firmament of the heaven that vast expanse which encloses the earth, and is conspicuous to all; for (Luk 8:16 KJV) No man, when he hath lighted a candle, covereth it with a vessel, or putteth it under a bed; but setteth it on a candlestick, that they which enter in may see the light. and a stately golden candlestick the firmament of heaven is, from which these candles give light to all that are in the house. The firmament itself is spoken of as having a brightness of its own, (Dan 12:3 KJV) And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever. but this was not sufficient to give light to the earth; and perhaps for this reason it is not expressly said of the second day’s work, in which the firmament was made, that it was good, because, till it was adorned with these lights on the fourth day, it had not become serviceable to man.

The use they were intended to be of to this earth. (Gen 1:15 KJV) And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. They must be for the distinction of times, of day and night, summer and winter, which are interchanged by the motion of the sun, whose rising makes day, his setting night, his approach towards our tropic summer, his recess to the other winter: and thus, under the sun, there is (Ecc 3:1 KJV) To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

They must be for the direction of actions. They are for signs of the change of weather, that the husbandman may order his affairs with discretion, foreseeing, by the face of the sky, when second causes have begun to work, whether it will be fair or foul, (Mat 16:2 KJV) He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. (Mat 16:3 KJV) And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?

They do also give light upon the earth, (Joh 11:9 KJV) Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. and work, (Joh 9:4 KJV) I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. according as the duty of every day requires. The lights of heaven do not shine for themselves, nor for the world of spirits above, who need them not; but they shine for us, for our pleasure and advantage. Lord, what is man, that he should be thus regarded! (Psa 8:3 KJV) When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; (Psa 8:4 KJV) What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?

How ungrateful and inexcusable are we, if, when God has set up these lights for us to work by, we sleep, or play, or trifle away the time of business, and neglect the great work we were sent into the world about! The lights of heaven are made to serve us, and they do it faithfully, (Gen 1:14 KJV) and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: without fail: but we are set as lights in this world to serve God; and do we in like manner answer the end of our creation? No, we do not, our light does not shine before God as his lights shine before us, (Mat 5:14 KJV) Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. We burn our Master’s candles, but do not mind our Master’s work.

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