Monday, March 31, 2014

Monday, March 31st

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Deuteronomy 25-26, Psalm 64, Luke 20
Today's scripture focus is Ephesians 1:8-10

Ephesians 1:8-10

English Standard Version (ESV)
which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

Accompanying David Legge sermon: The Mystery of His Will Part 1
Accompanying Mark Driscoll sermon: I am Blessed
Accompanying John MacArthur sermon: Redemption Through His Blood

Not only do we have forgiveness through the redemption that came through the blood of Christ, but He has also generously poured out on us both wisdom and insight - the ability to understand Him and to walk through the world on a day to day basis.  (MacArthur)

He has given us wisdom - the ability to see things not as they outwardly appear to be, but as they really are.

He has given us insight - the understanding and discernment that leads to right action. (Legge)

We have these things - but are we walking in the reality of them?

Another amazing thing to consider - not only has God allowed us to be His companions and friends, not only has He adopted us and called us His children, not only does He love us as He loves Christ and bless us with every blessing as He does Christ - He has taken us into His confidence!  He has shared His plans with us!  He has given us huge revelations through the New Testament, things that has previously been a mystery, unrevealed.

Why did He reveal the glorious mysteries of salvation, redemption?  So that when the end comes He would gather everything to Himself.  He is in control.  He runs the universe. And at the end of time, all things will be under the headship of Christ.

God's plan (and this is beautiful) is for Him to sum up everything in His Son. That's it! Jesus Christ! He's not only every blessing that we have, and that we derive every blessing in the Christian life from. But He is what everything that exists will be summed up in. At the moment of time - the fulness of time - the authority of Christ that is trodden in the dirt and spat upon; the authority of Christ that is laughed at in our world, that is degraded and blasphemed - that authority will be declared by everyone. Can you think of that? It's hard to think of today, but let me tell you it is coming! And it will be recognised, it will be acknowledged on the earth and in the age - at the end of all things in heaven and in earth - all things will be under the headship of Christ.
God's plan (and this is beautiful) is for Him to sum up everything in His Son. That's it! Jesus Christ!

That ought to thrill your soul!

Christ will gather the universe into unity. Right now the universe is splintered, it is scattered, It is splattered, it is divided. Satan rules, demons rule and the fight is on between God and the holy angels but sometime demons and Satan are cast into the pit, in the Kingdom time, then released for a little time for their final fling and then they are sent to the pit forever, the bottomless pit. And God will call all things into one in Christ and there will be incredible and eternal unity in Him; all things redeemed.

Why is He redeeming us? To make us a part of the final goal of history, to bring all things to Himself.

And the rebels - purged out, dismissed from His presence. That's the purpose....

All that God could possibly give He has given to you. He planned it in the past. He worked it out in the present in order that you might experience the fullness of it in the future. And it's all yours through faith in Jesus Christ.
We are blessed beyond what we could possibly imagine!

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Ephesians 1:11-14
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Deuteronomy 27-28, Psalm 65, Luke 21

Friday, March 28th

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Deuteronomy 19-20; Psalm 63; Luke 19.
Today's scripture focus is Ephesians 1:7

Sorry for the delay in posting!  We left for Florida on Thursday, Friday I didn't have time, and then I just forgot until today. :)

Ephesians 1:7

English Standard Version (ESV)
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,

Accompanying David Legge sermon: Praise the Lord for Redemption
Accompanying Mark Driscoll sermon: I am Blessed
Accompanying John MacArthur sermon: Redemption Through His Blood

Paul is writing the book of Ephesian to the church about how we are to be the church in the world - collectively we are to be Jesus in the world and our head is Christ.  The first amazing truth was that the body was formed before the foundation of the world.  We were chosen in eternity past to be a part of the body of Christ. But in order to make that happen, we had to be redeemed, because our sin separated us from Holy God.

According to MacArthur....
Redemption is an act of God by which He Himself pays as a ransom the price of human sin which has outraged His holiness. 

We are all born slaves to sin.  And the wages of sin is death. And that price was owed to God.  Jesus paid the price of sin to free the slave from sin and death, by His blood.

The wondrous miracle of salvation includes so many things.  Consider...
In justification the sinner stands before God accused but he is declared righteous. In justification he stands before God accused but he is declared righteous.

In forgiveness, the second word, the sinner stands before God as a debtor and receives a cancellation of his debt.

In adoption the sinner stands before God as a stranger but he is made a...what? ... son.

In reconciliation the sinner stands before God as an enemy but he is made friend.

In redemption the sinner stands before God as a slave and he is receiving his freedom

He has redeemed us, by the shedding of His life blood.

He has purchased us - and it's a one time purchase that lasts for eternity.
He has purchased us - and it frees us from the grip of sin, and from the judgment of the law, and from the wrath of our holy God.

We are His twice over - He made us and He bought us.

And what are the results of this redemption?  Forgiveness by the riches of His grace.  We are forgiven. Our sins are forgiven.  All of them.  They are as far as the east is from the west - that is infinity!  He has forgiven us from before the foundation of the world for as long as we live!

And it's just what Jesus said to Peter, "If you've once had a bath, all you need each day is just kind of wash your feet off a little bit when they get dusty." And as you walk through the world and day to day you sin the Holy Spirit does a little dusting work, just to keep you clean. And that's what I John 1:9; 'He is faithful and just to keep on cleansing us," see. It's constant
I appreciated Legge's explanation of the difference between eternal forgiveness and restorative forgiveness.  Eternal forgiveness means that all our sins - past, present, and future - are forgiven in the blood of Christ when we receive salvation.  But we continue to need restorative forgiveness.
because you are a child of God, you are no longer in a relationship between God who is a judge and you who are a guilty sinner. Do you understand? That relationship's gone. It is now God who is your Father and you that are His child. Your sins are gone: past, present and future; but what you need is restorative forgiveness. That means this: that sin, when we commit it as Christians, goes between our fellowship and God - not our salvation, but our fellowship between us and God.
Forgiveness does not, however, erase consequences.  Sin still does damage, it still has consequences that remain even after eternal and restorative forgiveness has taken place. Sin is never to be viewed lightly.

Redemption is all grace.  Grace is undeserved favour.  We don't deserve this forgiveness.  He did not choose us because we deserved to be chosen.  He chose us out of love.  He poured out undeserved grace out of love.  And out of His unlimited riches.

Praise and honour and glory to our Saviour!

Monday's scripture focus: Ephesians 1:8-10
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Deuteronomy 21-22
Sunday's passage: Deuteronomy 23-24
Monday's passage: Deuteronomy 25-26, Psalm 64, Luke 20

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Thursday, March 27th ~ Miriam

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Deuteronomy 17-18; Psalm 62; Luke 18
Today's scripture focus is Ephesians 1:5-6

5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

MacArthur's sermon:  The Body Formed in Eternity Past, Part 2
Driscoll's sermon:  I Am Blessed
Legge's sermon:  Praise the Lord, Part 2

Ooooooh, the predestination verse.  Joy.  I personally do not have a problem with the theology of election.  I'm sure there are people who roll their eyes at me and think "Well, of course you wouldn't have a problem with it if you're one of the predestined, elected, whatever word you want to use.  What about the people who are not?"  In particular, I have a friend who struggles with predestination because she was saved as a teenager, but her parents and her sister are not saved.  She has a hard time with the idea that she would have been elected and they not.  However, they have heard the Word of the Lord, they have attended church (Catholic church), and they have had the witness of my friend and her Christian husband, so they have had the choice and have (so far) chosen not to believe.  So do we blame God for not having elected them, or are they to blame for rejecting the message?

The last two words of v. 4 are "In love".  In love he predestined us to adoption as sons.  In love His grace is freely given so that we can be pure and holy before Him.  In love He gives all mankind the opportunity to become His children, inheriting eternal life, but I believe that He sorrows over each one that He knows will reject His gift.  In love, He gave us free will, to choose or not to choose, and He knows who will choose what and what it will take for some to ultimately choose Him.  God's foreknowledge of who will choose Him and who will not, who will believe His Word and who will mock it, who will need some extra convincing, or a virtual equivalent of a flashing neon sign or a 2X4 to the head, or a still quiet voice or the simple gift of a Bible, does not negate our choice.

I do not want you to hear me saying that God only elects people He knows will choose Him in return, because He is a sovereign God and all things are within His power to predestine, or make up as He goes along, or reverse as He chooses.  I wish to take nothing away from His sovereignty.  He chooses AND we choose.  I don't know how it all works, and just the thought of attempting to figure it out gives me a headache.

The Bible says He chooses, and the Bible says we choose, and I don't think the two things are mutually exclusive, nor do I believe that the Bible is contradictory, therefore both must be true.  I know.  It hurts my head too.

But at the core of it all is His love.  In love he predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,

Happy Thursday!

Tomorrow's scripture focus:  Ephesians 1:7
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  Deuteronomy 19-20; Psalm 63; Luke 19.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Wednesday, March 26th

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Numbers 15-16, Psalm 61, Luke 17
Today's scripture focus is Ephesians 1:3-4

Ephesians 1:3-4

English Standard Version (ESV)

Spiritual Blessings in Christ

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.

Accompanying John MacArthur sermon: The Body Formed in Eternity Past Part 1
Accompanying Mark Driscoll sermon:  I am in Christ  and I am Blessed
Accompanying David Legge sermon: Praise the Lord Part 1

This is the beginning of a very long, run-on sentence.  It seems Paul just gets swept away in the glorious truths of this passage - that the triune God initiated and accomplished our salvation - and he beings by giving all glory, honour, and praise to God.

In this passage we see so much.

We see that God is the blessed One.  He is good.

We see that God is the blesser.  He is the source of every good thing.

We see that we who believe are the ones that are blessed by Him.  When we bless Him it means that we speak good of Him or honour Him.  When He blesses us it means that He does good to us.

We see that He blesses us with every blessing through the Holy Spirit.  Every blessing.  They are all ours. We just don't always recognize them or use the resources we've been given.  He's given us every possible blessing there is to give - peace, joy, strength, wisdom, gentleness, faith, meekness, self-control, and on and on.  He doesn't give us some now and some later.  He gives us everything now!  It's a matter of using what we've been given.

We see that He blesses us in the heavenlies or heavenly places.  What does that mean?  MacArthur says it doesn't only mean heaven, it means the enter domain of God, the Kingdom of God.  He gave the example that we are American (or, in most of our cases here, Canadian) citizens no matter where on the earth we travel.  We are in the Kingdom of God, and no matter where we go, we have the rights and priviledges of a citizen of heaven.

Why?  The answer is at the end of v3.  Because we who believe, are in Christ.  His righteousness has been imputed to us, and His inheritance is now our inheritance.  And THAT is what makes us significant.  Not because of us, but because of Him in us.  MacArthur: Where He is I am. What He has I have. And what He does I do.  We are in Christ.  He indwells our entire being.  Are we living like it?

V4 and on discuss how the body of Christ was formed.

God has chosen us before the foundation of the world.
I loved this section in MacArthur's sermon....
people say to me all the time - Do you believe in election? I say - I believe in the Bible and the Bible teaches election. You mean you believe that God chooses people to be saved before they're ever born? The Bible teaches that. You believe that before the world even began Jesus wrote...Jesus and the Father and the Spirit wrote down in the Book of Life who would be saved already down there? And they planned that whole thing out? Absolutely believe that. You say - Well what about ... what about free will? In the first place free will is no biblical term, it's never used in the Bible because man may have a will but it isn't free, it's bound to sin but aside from that, what about will? You believe that man has a choice? Absolutely. You believe that anybody who wants to can come to Christ? Absolutely. You say - But those are opposites? Absolutely. You believe in opposites? Of course. I believe the Bible teaches absolute sovereignty of God and election and I believe that Jesus said - Him that cometh unto Me I'll in no wise - what? Cast out. And I believe Jesus said - Whosoever will let him come. I believe that Jesus simply put it this way - Come unto Me all ye that what? Labor and are heavy laden, I'll give you rest. You say - But those are two opposites. That's right. And the only way they can ever be resolved is in the mind of God. And, you see, God has some things He can do that I can't do and that's fine. Listen, if I understood everything - I'd be God. And if I was God - we would be in lots of trouble. I don't need to resolve it but don't do this, don't take God's sovereignty and man's choice and try to find some middle ground or you've just destroyed both of them. Leave them alone. Let the tension be there. Let it be that God says He's sovereign. Don't worry about how He harmonizes that with people coming to Christ, that's His problem not ours. He just says - Come. Come.

He has chosen us, we are in Christ, from THAT is where we get our worth.

Why were we chosen?  So that we would be holy and blameless before Him.

Legge shares this insight:
When young Victoria, when she was a child she was shielded from the fact that one day she would be the next monarch. And when she was let discover the fact for herself by her teachers and her parents, this is what she said: 'Then I must be good'. Her life from then on would be controlled by her position and by who she was. Brethren and sisters, you are children of the King, you're joint heirs with Christ. And even though you haven't entered into the heavenly throne room - just like the queen of England: even when she's absent from her throne, she's still the queen of England - and you are still blessed in heavenly places, even though you haven't got there yet!
Are our lives being controlled by our position and by who we are, in Christ?

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Ephesians 1:5-6
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Numbers 17-18, Psalm 62, Luke 18

Monday, March 24, 2014

Tuesday - March 25 - Tiffany

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Numbers 13-14, Psalm 60, Luke 16
Today's scripture focus is Ephesians 1:1-2
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
To God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:
 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I read these 2 verses and immediately thought "Dear Ephesus" which was actually a pretty good indie Christian emo band I listened to in college. 
But they don't really have much to do with this post today.
According to my archeological Bible, Ephesians was probably intended to be a circular letter to several churches. Ephesus at the time of the letter would have had a population of about 200,000, and was renowned for traders and silversmiths.
Letters of this time had a certain form to follow. In the Greek, the standard greeting was "chairein". Through a play on words, Paul made his greeting about grace "charis."
I think it is also important to consider how Paul defines himself and the church. He considers himself Christ's apostle, but only by the will of God.  To me this signifies that he remembers always where he came from.
As for the church, they are given the definition of a holy people, faithful in Christ Jesus.
Wouldn't it be wonderful to receive a letter from someone who recognizes you as holy and faithful?  What a marvelous thing to strive for in our daily lives!
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Ephesians 1:3-4
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Numbers 15-16, Psalm 61, Luke 17

Monday, March 24-by Pamela

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Numbers 11-12, Psalm 59, Luke 15
Today's scripture focus is Daniel 12:4-13

Daniel 12:4-13

English Standard Version (ESV)
But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.”
Then I, Daniel, looked, and behold, two others stood, one on this bank of the stream and one on that bank of the stream. And someone said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the stream,[a] “How long shall it be till the end of these wonders?” And I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the stream; he raised his right hand and his left hand toward heaven and swore by him who lives forever that it would be for a time, times, and half a time, and that when the shattering of the power of the holy people comes to an end all these things would be finished. I heard, but I did not understand. Then I said, “O my lord, what shall be the outcome of these things?” He said, “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are shut up and sealed until the time of the end. 10 Many shall purify themselves and make themselves white and be refined, but the wicked shall act wickedly. And none of the wicked shall understand, but those who are wise shall understand. 11 And from the time that the regular burnt offering is taken away and the abomination that makes desolate is set up, there shall be 1,290 days. 12 Blessed is he who waits and arrives at the 1,335 days. 13 But go your way till the end. And you shall rest and shall stand in your allotted place at the end of the days.”

"How long?"

"What shall be the outcome?"

How many times in our life do we ask these questions? How long is this going to take? How long do I have to wait? How long will it be before I know? What will the outcome be of this choice I am making? What shall the outcome be if I make a different choice? What shall be the outcome of my life...the lives of my family members...what does the future hold?

MacArthur explains it this way:

It is obvious, I think, to all of us that man is curious about his future. We have in human society, and I suppose we've always had, people who look into the future or attempt to do so or offer themselves as those that are able to do that. And they have held the fascination of man throughout his existence: stargazers, fortune tellers, wizards, palm readers, tea bag tale tellers, seers, prophets, predictors, mediums, on and on. But they've always had a wide and lucrative response from people. Why? Basically because deep down within man is tremendous curiosity about the future.
But why? Why is it that man so desperately seems to want to know the future? Well, maybe three reasons. Number one is just curiosity. We just want to know because we don't know. And there's a certain amount of anxiety about what you don't know. And I think man would just like to end the anxiety about the unknown and so he's curious about the future. But there's more than that. I think men want to know the future in many cases in order to capitalize on what is coming. If men could know the future, they could know how to play the stock market, they could know about all the things that are going to come in the world and they could hedge against it. In other words, greed, ambition or selfish fulfillment might be a reason people want to know the future.
Thirdly, and I think most significantly, people want to know the future because of fear. Because, you see, basically we live in the fear of the unexpected. It is what we don't know that scares us. It is what might happen. And man has always wanted to eliminate the unexpected and therefore eliminate his fear. So, whether it's curiosity, or a certain amount of self-serving greed or fear, there has always been an amazing curiosity about the future.

I think about the future. I worry about the future. I wish I knew what was going to happen in the future. But do I? Would I really want to know everything that is going to happen in my life...I don't know....maybe not.

MacArthur goes on to say:

Now, the only true source of knowledge about the future is the Bible. I'll say that again. The only true source of knowledge about the future is the Bible. There is no other true source. And Daniel is one of the great prophetic books of the Bible. In this book we learn about the future. God gives us glimpses of future events, future personalities, future judgments, future blessings. And thus, this is a remarkable book.
Now why does God tell us about the future? Just to deal with our curiosity? To give us the ability to sort of hedge against what's coming in a self-serving way? No. I believe basically there are four reasons God tells us about the future and I tried to think this through, this week, and I think you'll agree with me.
First of all, God tells us about the future to authenticate His Word. One of the great authentications of the veracity of the Bible is that it predicts the future. And then when the thing it predicts come to pass, it's a convincing argument that God wrote it. So in terms of God Himself, it authenticates His Word.
Secondly, God tells us about the future in order to reveal His sovereignty. He wants us to know that He is charting the course of human history.
Thirdly, I believe that God tells us about the future in order to both motivate and comfort His people. When we know the Lord is coming, we get busy living for Him. John says, "He that bath this hope in him, purifies himself." When we know He's coming, we are comforted that no matter what happens in the world, it's all going to come out in the end with the Lord Jesus Christ reigning as King of kings.
So God tells us the future to authenticate the truth of His Word, to reveal the sovereignty of His person and to comfort and to motivate His people. And there's one other reason. I believe God reveals the future in order to admonish the wicked and warn them of coming judgment. God wants us to know something about the future, enough to let us know the Bible is true because it can predict and when it is fulfilled it shows its truthfulness. He wants us to know that He is sovereign. He wants us to be motivated and comforted. And He wants the lost and the wicked to be warned about coming doom.

God reveals His plan to us in His time. We can take comfort in the promises of the past and the sovereignty of in the God of the past, the present, and the future. He has it all worked out.

MacArthur closes his message with these awesome words:

You know what the great hope of the future for us is? That the face of the Savior is looking at us, isn't it? He has us in His heart. He's not indifferent. He's there. All these things are going to come to pass..."Till heaven and earth pass away, not one jot or tittle shall in any wise pass from this law." But we don't fear because the Savior is looking at us in His heart. He had Daniel in His heart. He wouldn't let that man close out his life without stepping out of glory and speaking personally with this saint. What a great, great confidence that you and I have this same Christ who has His face toward us who cares. We have responsibility, we have the promise of resurrection and eternal reward.
With those things in mind, God, help us to live like Daniel lived, to be the kind of man he was.
Father, thank You for our time in Your Word tonight. What a great, great book, how thrilling it's been to have the adventure of going through its truths. Bless these precious people, every one, every man, woman, young person and child. O God, may they fulfill all the good pleasure of Your will, may they live a life of responsibility in obedience, going their way to walk according to Your will and someday know that glorious resurrection when we stand with You in Your Kingdom, to be rewarded throughout eternity. O God, as we look at the future and know that it's all in Your hands, we are comforted and we are motivated. And Your Word is affirmed to us and Your sovereignty is made manifest. And we pray, too, Lord, that as those who hear who are lost, recognize these things to come, that they may be admonished to be sure that their lives are right with You, for that will be a day of judgment for those who know You know not. Father, may we be sure that we are ready for the inevitable day. Thank You for giving us all we need to anticipate blessedness because of Your grace in Christ in whose name we pray. Amen.

Tomorrow's scripture focusEphesians 1:1-2
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Numbers 13-14, Psalm 60, Luke 60

Friday, March 21, 2014

Friday, March 21st

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Deuteronomy 5-6; Psalm 58; Luke 14
Today's scripture focus is Daniel 12:1-3

Daniel 12:1-3

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Time of the End

12 “At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

Accompanying sermon by John MacArthur - The Great Tribulation Part 1
Accompanying sermon by Ray Pritchard - The Last Days According to Daniel

The angel Michael is the appointed guardian of Israel - when he stands up, you know something is going to happen.  But the Israelites are to have hope, even in the face of the unprecedented distress of the Great Tribulation.  At the end of the tribulation, those whose names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life will be delivered.

There will be a resurrection for everyone, but not everyone is resurrected to the same end. Those of faith will rise to eternal life and glory in the presence of our Saviour, but the unsaved will rise to judgement and eternal torment.

Those who have faith in God's Word will shine in glory, radiating the glory of our Saviour.

From MacArthur's commentary:
To shine in glory is a privilege of all the saved. Any who influence others for righteousness shine like stars in varying capacities of light as their reward. The faithfulness of the believer's witness will determine one's eternal capacity to reflect God's glory.

The more we let our light shine here, the greater our capability to reflect God's glory for eternity!  Gives even more meaning to the children's song "This Little Light of Mine", doesn't it?

I loved this quote by Pritchard....

Who are God’s stars? Not the ones the world applauds. God’ s stars are those who lead many to righteousness. They point others to Jesus. They and they alone will shine like the stars in the heavens.

Who are God’s stars?

The mother who patiently teaches her children about Jesus.
The office worker who answers questions from her friends.
The son who witnesses to his parents.
The coach who shares Christ with his players.
The friend who tells his buddies about Christ.
The Sunday School teacher who prays for her children to be saved.
The young couple who goes to Mozambique as missionaries.

They are God’s heroes, and they will one day shine like the stars.

Ordinary, every day people - shining in obedience to God's commands, and in eagerness to share the good news with those around them.

How bright do you want your light to shine in eternity?
How bright are you shining now?

Monday's scripture focus: Daniel 12:4-13
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Deuteronomy 7-8
Sunday's passage: Deuteronomy 9-10
Monday's passage: Deuteronomy 11-12, Psalm 59, Luke 15

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Thursday, March 20 ~ Miriam

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Deuteronomy 3-4; Psalm 57; Luke 13.
Today's scripture focus is Daniel 11:36-45.

36 “Then the king will do as he pleases, and he will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will speak monstrous things against the God of gods; and he will prosper until the indignation is finished, for that which is decreed will be done. 37 He will show no regard for the gods of his fathers or for the desire of women, nor will he show regard for any other god; for he will magnify himself above them all. 38 But instead he will honor a god of fortresses, a god whom his fathers did not know; he will honor him with gold, silver, costly stones and treasures. 39 He will take action against the strongest of fortresses with the help of a foreign god; he will give great honor to those who acknowledge him and will cause them to rule over the many, and will parcel out land for a price.

40 “At the end time the king of the South will collide with him, and the king of the North will storm against him with chariots, with horsemen and with many ships; and he will enter countries, overflow them and pass through. 41 He will also enter the Beautiful Land, and many countries will fall; but these will be rescued out of his hand: Edom, Moab and the foremost of the sons of Ammon. 42 Then he will stretch out his hand against other countries, and the land of Egypt will not escape. 43 But he will gain control over the hidden treasures of gold and silver and over all the precious things of Egypt; and Libyans and Ethiopians will follow at his heels. 44 But rumors from the East and from the North will disturb him, and he will go forth with great wrath to destroy and annihilate many. 45 He will pitch the tents of his royal pavilion between the seas and the beautiful Holy Mountain; yet he will come to his end, and no one will help him.

Well, thank goodness for all the learned scholars who have sorted through all these prophecies for us, because I don't mind telling you that I would have no idea what was going on in these passages without them.  So, from MacArthur's sermon:

Now, as we approach verse 36, we leap across centuries to the final king, Antichrist. And we meet him in verses 36 to 45. We've seen the Persian era, the Greek era, and now we see the final form of the Roman era. The final chapter of the chastening of the people of Israel. And this amazing figure will be all the evil power of Ahasuerus, Alexander, Antiochus the Great, Antiochus Epiphanes combined and more. He is the counterfeit Christ who makes a treaty or a covenant or a league or a pact with Israel He promises to protect. He aligns Israel with the west. And then in the middle of the seven-year Tribulation, he breaks that pact, he desecrates their temple, he desecrates their religion, he blasphemes their God and precipitates the holocaust of Armageddon which is ended in the return of Jesus Christ.

Now some Bible commentators want to apply this to some historical point. They want to apply the rest of the chapter to Antiochus Epiphanes, or some other personality, primarily Antiochus Epiphanes is selected. But they don't want to allow for prophecy in the future so they want to tie it all to some past event. But that just doesn't work very well.

Let me suggest several reasons. First of all, in verse 35, the time of the end is an eschatological term. It deals with last things. In verse 40 it begins, "And at the time of the end." And both of those uses indicate a future last-days point. Secondly, the scope of the prophecy is beyond just the Persian and Greek area. The angel said this in chapter 10 verse 14. "Now I am come to make you understand what shall befall your people in the latter days." So, from the very beginning, the prophecy was said to stretch much further than just Persian-Greek times.

Further, we can follow with minute absolutely accurate detail all of the prophecy up to verse 35. But after that, we have no historical data that can at all relate to what happens from verse 36 to 45. Certainly not in the life of Antiochus Epiphanes.

Notice also in verse 36, it says near the end of the verse, all of this is going to prosper till the indignation be accomplished. Now the indignation which is to be fully accomplished simply means the final outpouring of God's wrath and that demands the last days. In fact, the indignation is almost a synonymous term with the Tribulation.

Further, the description of the ruler in this passage absolutely detail by detail parallels other Scripture accounts of Antichrist. Also, chapter 12 verse 1 tells us that at that time shall Michael stand up and they'll be a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time. In other words, there is coming a time that will be worse than any other time in the history of man. And verse 2, it will be followed by the resurrection. Now that has to be the last time.

Furthermore, the last three revelations in the book of Daniel have closed with a word about the Antichrist. It is fitting that this one follow that same pattern. I just wanted you to know that there are reasons why we interpret this in relation to the Antichrist. And so, we sweep across thousands of years of history to the final world ruler. 

There is a lot more in the sermon about what the Antichrist will be like.  Honestly, I am personally more interested in what I have already pasted above about why this portion of the prophecy is still in the future and not the past, and anyway this is getting long already, so if you'd like to read more about that, please check out the sermon.  The link is above the excerpt.  I'll close with the three lessons that MacArthur pulls out of the passage at the end of his sermon:

Number one, God controls everything. Is that great? Everything. All of history under the control of God...every detail, every ruler, Ahasuerus, Alexander, Antiochus the Great, Antiochus Epiphanes, everybody in between, Antichrist, all carrying out His will within the framework of His plan. I'll tell you, it's a comforting thing to know that history is His story, that the whole thing is in His hand.

The second great lesson, not only that God controls history, and I love this one, but God will purge His people Israel. There's coming a day for Israel. And when these things begin to come to pass, said the Lord in Luke, look up, lift up your heads for your what? Redemption is near.

Third lesson, number one--God controls everything number two--God is going to purge and redeem His people; number three--the world will end in a holocaust but Christ will triumph over that and all will be well forever for the saints of God. Are you thankful?

For those of us who know and love the Lord Jesus Christ, there's a blissful forever ahead. I hope you know Him.

Tomorrow's scripture focus:  Daniel 12:1-3
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  Deuteronomy 5-6; Psalm 58; Luke 14

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Wednesday, March 19th

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Deuteronomy 1-2, Psalm 56, Luke 12
Today's scripture focus is Daniel 11:1-35

Our passage today was prophecy to Daniel, but is history to us.  And what amazingly specific prophesy it is - and every word came true exactly as God described it.

I've used MacArthur's sermon as well as his Bible Commentary to summarize the fulfillment of each of these prophesies.

Daniel 11:1-35

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Kings of the South and the North

11 “And as for me, in the first year of Darius the Mede, I stood up to confirm and strengthen him.
The messenger here is likely Gabriel and he is speaking of assisting Michael, just as Michael had strengthened him in the battle with demons in 10:21.

“And now I will show you the truth. Behold, three more kings shall arise in Persia, and a fourth shall be far richer than all of them. And when he has become strong through his riches, he shall stir up all against the kingdom of Greece.
The three of Persia (after Cyrus) were Cambyses (530-522BC), Psuedo-Smerdis (522BC), and Darius I Hystaspes (522-486BC).  The fourth is Xerxes I, also know as Ahasuerus in the book of Esther (486-465BC)

Then a mighty king shall arise, who shall rule with great dominion and do as he wills. 
This is Alexander the Great (also prophesied about in 8:5)

And as soon as he has arisen, his kingdom shall be broken and divided toward the four winds of heaven, but not to his posterity, nor according to the authority with which he ruled, for his kingdom shall be plucked up and go to others besides these.
Alexander's heirs (a mentally ill half-brother, an illegitimate son, and a son born after Alexander's death) were killed and his kingdom did not go to his posterity.  MacArthur: Cassandra took Macedonia, Lysimachus took Thrace and Asia Minor, Ptolemy--remember that--took Egypt, and Seleucus took Syria. Egypt is south of Israel, Syria is where? North of Israel. Those two become the ones we focus on the remaining of the chapter because they are the ones that are right around the nation Israel. And in Egypt, a Ptolemaic line of kings was established and in Syria a Seleucid dynasty was established and through the centuries, those two dynasties warred with each other and they fought most of their wars on the soil of Israel. So Israel became the pawn in this. From here on to the twentieth verse, we cover about 200 years when these wars waged on the borders and throughout the land of Israel.

“Then the king of the south shall be strong, but one of his princes shall be stronger than he and shall rule, and his authority shall be a great authority. After some years they shall make an alliance, and the daughter of the king of the south shall come to the king of the north to make an agreement. But she shall not retain the strength of her arm, and he and his arm shall not endure, but she shall be given up, and her attendants, he who fathered her, and he who supported her in those times.
Berenice, daughter of Egypt's Ptolemy II Philadelphus (285-246BC) married Syria's King Antiochus II Theos (261-246BC) - the two kings hoping for a political alliance and advantage. Antiochus divorced his wife in order to marry Berenice, that divorced wife murdered Berenice, her baby son, and Antiochus by poisoning, and then brought her own son, Seleucus II Callinicus, to the throne.

“And from a branch from her roots one shall arise in his place. He shall come against the army and enter the fortress of the king of the north, and he shall deal with them and shall prevail.
This is Berenice's brother, Ptolemy III Euergetes of Egypt (246-222BC) and he conquered Syria 

He shall also carry off to Egypt their gods with their metal images and their precious vessels of silver and gold, and for some years he shall refrain from attacking the king of the north.Then the latter shall come into the realm of the king of the south but shall return to his own land.
Syria's Callinicus attacked Egypt c240BC but retreated, soundly beaten.

10 “His sons shall wage war and assemble a multitude of great forces, which shall keep coming and overflow and pass through, and again shall carry the war as far as his fortress. 
Seleucus's sons continued the war against Egypt as described in verses 11-35.

11 Then the king of the south, moved with rage, shall come out and fight against the king of the north. And he shall raise a great multitude, but it shall be given into his hand.
Ptolemy IV Philopator (222-203BC) devastated the Syrian army under ANtiochus III the Great (223-187BC).  

12 And when the multitude is taken away, his heart shall be exalted, and he shall cast down tens of thousands, but he shall not prevail.
Egypt's advantage would be brief.  

13 For the king of the north shall again raise a multitude, greater than the first. And after some years he shall come on with a great army and abundant supplies.
Thirteen years later Antiochus returned with a great army, and in a series of strikes against Egypt brought Palestine ("the glorious land" into his control as far south as Gaza. 

14 “In those times many shall rise against the king of the south, and the violent among your own people shall lift themselves up in order to fulfill the vision, but they shall fail. 
Violent Jews wanted Judean independence from Egypt, but failed in their revolt.

15 Then the king of the north shall come and throw up siegeworks and take a well-fortified city. And the forces of the south shall not stand, or even his best troops, for there shall be no strength to stand. 16 But he who comes against him shall do as he wills, and none shall stand before him. And he shall stand in the glorious land, with destruction in his hand.
Antiochus III the Great achieved enduring dominion over Israel.

17 He shall set his face to come with the strength of his whole kingdom, and he shall bring terms of an agreement and perform them. He shall give him the daughter of women to destroy the kingdom, but it shall not stand or be to his advantage.
Antiochus, feeling pressure from Rome to make peace with Egypt, offered his daughter Cleopatra to marry Ptolemy V Epiphanes (c. 192BC). The Syrian hoped his daughter would spy to help him to destroy or weakeen Egypt and bring it under his power. But instead of helping her father, Cleopatra favoured her Egyptian husband. 

18 Afterward he shall turn his face to the coastlands and shall capture many of them, but a commander shall put an end to his insolence. Indeed, he shall turn his insolence back upon him. 
Antiochus had set his sights to conquer Greece, along the Mediterranean coastlands. But this brought him into conflict with Rome, so that a Roman, Lucius Scipio Asiaticus, repaid the Syrian aggression against Roman rights in the area with a resounding defeat (c 191-190BC)

19 Then he shall turn his face back toward the fortresses of his own land, but he shall stumble and fall, and shall not be found.
Antiochus returned from defeat to his own land compelled by Rome to relinquish all his territory west of the Taurus and to repay the costs of war. He was likely killed by defenders of a Persian temple he tried to plunder at night in Elymais (to get money to pay reparations required by Rome).

20 “Then shall arise in his place one who shall send an exactor of tribute for the glory of the kingdom. But within a few days he shall be broken, neither in anger nor in battle.
Rome required Seleucus IV Philopator to render tribute, since Rome was increasingly powerful. The Syrian set out to tax his subjects heavily to raise the tribute. Soon, he died after being poisoned. The glorious kingdom possibly refers to Israel with its splendid temple.

21 In his place shall arise a contemptible person to whom royal majesty has not been given. He shall come in without warning and obtain the kingdom by flatteries.
In v21-35, the most cruel king of the North was a Seleucid, the Syrian persecutor of Israel names Antiochus IV Epipahnes (also prophesied about in 8:9-14, 23-25). He came to the throne when his brother Seleucus was murdered and while a son of the dead king who might succeed him, Demetrisu I Soter, was held hostage in Rome. In the vacuum, Antiochus seized power in Syria.

22 Armies shall be utterly swept away before him and broken, even the prince of the covenant.
Egypt's armies were swept away by Antiochus's invading forces. Israel's prince of the covenant, Onias III, was murdered by his own defecting brother Menelaus at the request of Antiochus (171BC).

23 And from the time that an alliance is made with him he shall act deceitfully, and he shall become strong with a small people.
In an Egyptian struggle for the throne, Antiochus entered an alliance with Ptolemy VI Philometer over his rival Ptolemy VII Euergetes II (distinct from the leader in v7). By this union, Antiochus deceitfully plotted to gain greater power in Egypt. With a small force, he conquered Memphis and the rest of Egypt all the way to Alexandria.

24 Without warning he shall come into the richest parts of the province, and he shall do what neither his fathers nor his fathers' fathers have done, scattering among them plunder, spoil, and goods. He shall devise plans against strongholds, but only for a time.
Antiochus, under the guise of friendship, plundered the richest Egyptian places he could strike. To gain support, he gave lavish gifts, possibly battle spoils. He developed a scheme to take over Egypt.

25 And he shall stir up his power and his heart against the king of the south with a great army. And the king of the south shall wage war with an exceedingly great and mighty army, but he shall not stand, for plots shall be devised against him.
Antiochus attacked Philometer, who had become an enemy. Philometer fell due to treachery by trusted supporters (v26a) and became Antiochus's captive.
26 Even those who eat his food shall break him. His army shall be swept away, and many shall fall down slain.
Betraying counselors, whom Philometer fed, led him to attack Syria to secure his defeat and death for both him and his men.

27 And as for the two kings, their hearts shall be bent on doing evil. They shall speak lies at the same table, but to no avail, for the end is yet to be at the time appointed.
Antiochus feigned help to reinstate Ptolemy Philometer to Egypt's throne, occupied then by Ptolemy Euergetes. Both kings lied at the conference, and Antiochus set Philometer up as king at Memphis, and Euergetes reigned at Alexandra. The two Egyptians soon agreed on a joint rule, frustrating the Syrian.

28 And he shall return to his land with great wealth, but his heart shall be set against the holy covenant. And he shall work his will and return to his own land.
En route north through Israel to Syria with riches, Antiochus met a revolt, as sources outside Scripture mention. He struck Jerusalem's temple, profaned the sacrificial system, massacred 80,000 men, took 40,000 prisoners, sold 40,000 Jews as slaves, and squelched a Jewish bid to depose his own designated priest, Menelaus.

29 “At the time appointed he shall return and come into the south, but it shall not be this time as it was before.
Antiochus, for the third time, invaded Egypt against the joint rulership (c 168BC), however, he achieved much less success than before.

30 For ships of Kittim shall come against him, and he shall be afraid and withdraw, and shall turn back and be enraged and take action against the holy covenant. He shall turn back and pay attention to those who forsake the holy covenant.
A Roman fleet from Cyprus sided with Egypt, thwarting Antiochuss attack. Backing down from egaging Rome in war, Antiochus left Egypt, taking out his rage on Israelites in his path. He opposed God's Mosaid covenant that some Jews kept, despite Syrian policies and some Jewish compromise. Antiochus showed favors to Jewish apostates (those who forsake the holy covenant) as non-biblical writings attest.

31 Forces from him shall appear and profane the temple and fortress, and shall take away the regular burnt offering. And they shall set up the abomination that makes desolate.
Antiochus's soldiers, no doubt working with apostate Jews, guarded the temple, halting all worship, while others attacked the city on the Sabbath, slaughtering men, women, and children. Soldiers desecrated Israel's temple, banned circumcision and daily sacrifices, and sacrificed a pig on the altar. The Syrians on Chislev even imposed an idol statue in honor of the Olympian god Zeus into the temple. Jews called it "the abomination that causes desolation". Antiochus's soldiers profaned God's temple by spreading sow's broth on the altar and banning daily sacrifices. Both Daniel and Jesus said this atrocity was only a preview of the abomination that would happen alter under the final Antichrist.

32 He shall seduce with flattery those who violate the covenant, but the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action.
Compromisers among the JEws were enticed by flattery to side with Antiochus and be corrupted. Jews loyal to God (called Hasideans) stood with firm convictions, suffering death rather than compromising. Judas Maccabeus, helped by Rome, led them in a successful revolt.

33 And the wise among the people shall make many understand, though for some days they shall stumble by sword and flame, by captivity and plunder.
Jews who understand (believe and know the truth) instructed others in the Scriptures, while also suffering continued persecution.

34 When they stumble, they shall receive a little help. And many shall join themselves to them with flattery, 
Many would fall away, and Jews committed to the covenant would have little help, humanly speaking. Some, fearing the faithful remant's dealing with apostates, pretended loyalty.

35 and some of the wise shall stumble, so that they may be refined, purified, and made white, until the time of the end, for it still awaits the appointed time.
Faced by persecution, some true believers were to fall as martyrs. The gracious design of such suffering was to sanctify them. The persecution pattern continues until the final "end" that God appointed, at Christ's Second Coming. Reference to this "end" prepares for a transition in v36 to final Tribulation times when the Antichrist, whom Antiochus prefigures, will be in power. These two eschatological terms ("time of the end" and "appointed time") point to a forward leap across thousands of years of history from Antiochus to a future similar trial when the willful king (vv36-45) rules. The willful king is the "little horn", the Antichrist.

Wow!  That is some specific prophecy - every word of which has been fulfilled.  For that very reason, scholars continue to try to discredit Daniel or to prove that this was written after the fact, instead of beforehand.

How do you resist in the overwhelming face of such evil?  By knowing God.  Truly knowing God causes us to be passionate for God; fervent in prayer; to have a tremendous sense of His holiness and majesty; to keep us humble, dependent, and obedient; to count the cost and show boldness for God; to be content in God and God alone.

God writes history.  It is His story.  And He has given us the priviledge of being written into His story. I love this excerpt from Richard DeMass:
God wrote you and me in His story. He didn’t have to. His story can go on engagingly, flawlessly and perfectly without me, but wonder of wonders, He invented my character and wrote me in His book. How should we then live? I don’t know about you, but I have always secretly wanted to be a hero in someone’s book.....

We want to be heroes. That’s why it feels so good when we say or do something that makes our spouse or kids proud of us and why it is beyond unbearable when we say or do things that make them ashamed of us.....

Fathers, live to make your kids proud. Husbands, live so that your wife can hold her head up high, not only in public but in her home. Christians, live to be one of God’s heroes in the place where He had set you. Live so that your character shouts, “I exist to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Wouldn’t you like to know Him too?”...

Let’s spur each other on to be a great company of heroes by glorifying God and enjoying Him forever on the pages of his story wherever He has seen fit to write us in.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Daniel 11:36-45
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Deuteronomy 3-4, Psalm 57, Luke 13