Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Friday, 30 November 18:
1. Daniel 11 — The kingdom’s of men will not bring peace to earth and will always be driven by selfishness.
2. Daniel 11:2 – “And when he has become strong through his riches, he shall stir up all against the kingdom of Greece.” Some of Daniel’s prophecies have already occurred, so accurately described by Daniel that many sceptics have tried to suggest that Daniel was written after the events – it wasn’t. Daniel 11:2 speaks of Xerxes, the Persian king who invaded Greece and reigned from 485-464 B.C.
3. Daniel 11:3, 4 – “Then a mighty king shall arise, who shall rule with great dominion and do as he wills. 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.” These verses are believed to prophecy about Alexander the Great. Below is an amazing account by Josephus of Alexander the Great’s actual entry into Jerusalem and the temple:
– “Now Alexander, when he had taken Gaza, made haste to go up to Jerusalem; and Jaddua the high-priest, when he heard that, was in agony, and under terror, as not knowing how he should meet the Macedonians, since the king was displeased at his foregoing disobedience. He therefore ordained that the people should make supplications, and should join with him in offering sacrifices to God, whom he besought to protect that nation, and to deliver them from the perils that were coming upon them; whereupon God warned him in a dream, which came upon him after he had offered sacrifice, that he should take courage, adorn the city, and open the gates; that the rest appear in white garments, but that he and the priests should meet the king in habits proper to their order, without the dread of any ill consequences, which the providence of God would prevent. Upon which, when he rose from his sleep, he greatly rejoiced; and declared to all the warning he had received from God. According to the dream he acted entirely, and so waited for the coming of the king. And when he understood that he was not far from the city, he went out in procession, with the priests and the multitude of the citizens. The procession was venerable, and the manner of it different from that of other nations. It reached to a place called Sapha; which name, translated in Greek, signifies a prospect, for you have thence a prospect both of Jerusalem and of the temple; and when the Phoenicians and the Chaldeans that followed him, thought they should have liberty to plunder the city, and torment the high-priest to death, which the king’s displeasure fairly promised them, the very reverse of it happened; for Alexander, when he saw the multitude at a distance, in white garments, while the priests stood clothed with fine linen, and the high-priest in purple and scarlet clothing, with his mitre on his head having the golden plate on which the name of God was engraved, he approached by himself, and adored that name, and first saluted the high-priest. The Jews also did all together, with one voice, salute Alexander, and encompass him about: whereupon the kings of Syria and the rest were surprised at what Alexander had done, and supposed him to be disordered in his mind. However, Parmenio [Alexander’s second-in-command] alone went up to him, and asked him how it came to pass, that when all others adored him, he should adore the high-priest of the Jews? To whom he replied, “I did not adore him, but that God who has honored him with that high-priesthood; for I saw this very person in a dream, in this very habit, when I was at Dios, in Macedonia, who, when I was considering with myself how I might obtain the dominion of Asia, exhorted me to make no delay, but boldly to pass over the sea thither, for that he would conduct my army, and would give me dominion over the Persians; whence it is, that having seen no other in that habit, and now seeing this person in it, and remembering my vision and the exhortation which I had in my dream, I believe that I bring this army under divine conduct, and shall therewith conquer Darius, and destroy the power of the Persians, and that all things will succeed according to what is in my own mind.” And when he had said this to Parmenio, and had given the high-priest his right hand, the priests ran along by him, and he came into the city; and when he went up into the temple, he offered sacrifice to God, according to the high-priest’s direction, and magnificently treated both the high-priest and the priests. And when the book of Daniel was showed him, wherein Daniel declared that one of the Greeks should destroy the empire of the Persians, he supposed that himself was the person intended; and as he was then glad, he dismissed the multitude for the present, but the next day he called them to him, and bade them ask what favors they pleased of him: whereupon the high-priest desired that they might enjoy the laws of their forefathers, and might pay no tribute on the seventh year. He granted all they desired: and when they entreated him that he would permit the Jews in Babylon and Media to enjoy their own laws also, he willingly promised to do hereafter what they desired: and when he said to the multitude, that if any of them would enlist themselves in his army on this condition, that they should continue under the laws of their forefathers, and live according to them, he was willing to take them with him, many were ready to accompany him in his wars.” (Antiquities 11.8.4-5)
4. Daniel 11:5 – “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.” Ptolemy I of Egypt exerted his control over the Holy Land. Soon after the division of Alexander’s Empire, the Ptolemies dominated this region. Ptolemy I had a prince named Seleucus, who rose to power and took dominion over the region of Syria. He became more powerful than his former Egyptian ruler. The Seleucids are identified with the Kings of the North, and the Ptolemies were the Kings of the South. The dynasties of the Seleucids and the Ptolemies fought for some 130 years. The stronger of the two always held dominion over the Holy Land.
5. Daniel 11:6 – “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.” Antiochus II (of the Seleucids) married Berenice (daughter of Ptolemy II). There was peace for a time because of this marriage, but it was upset when Ptolemy II died. Once Ptolemy II died, Antiochus II put away Berenice and took back his former wife, Laodice. Laodice didn’t trust her husband Antiochus II; so she had him poisoned. After the murder of Antiochus II, Laodice had Berenice, her attendants, and an infant son of Antiochus II and Berenice killed. After this reign of terror, Laodice set her son (Selecus II) on the throne of the Syrian dominion.
6. Daniel 11:30-32 – “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. 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. He shall seduce with flattery those who violate the covenant, but the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action.” Ungodly kingdoms will inevitably find themselves opposed to the worship of God as His commands will oppose the sinfulness of their ways. A natural next-step is to seek to eliminate worship of God.
7. Daniel 11:32 – “He shall seduce with flattery those who violate the covenant, but the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action.” Knowing about God won’t be enough to keep people from being led astray by the seduction of the world; you must truly know God and live Him with all your heart. Those who truly know God will not partner with the world in violation of God’s commands.
8. Daniel 11:33-35 – “The wise among the people shall make many understand, though for some days they shall stumble by sword and flame, by captivity and plunder. When they stumble, they shall receive a little help. And many shall join themselves to them with flattery, 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.” Many will resist the world for a time but will succumb to the pressure that comes from both pain and pleasure. Those who remain faithful until the end will reign with Christ in the new Kingdom of God on earth.
9. Daniel 11:36 – “And the king shall do as he wills. He shall exalt himself and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak astonishing things against the God of gods. He shall prosper till the indignation is accomplished; for what is decreed shall be done.” Daniel transitions to End Times.
10. For an explanation of the remainder of the prophetic verses in Daniel 11, go to https://www.blueletterbible.org/comm/guzik_david/studyguide_dan/dan_11.cfm
11. Daniel 12:4 – “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.” People are getting busier and busier, and human knowledge is increasing exponentially on earth, but wisdom is decreasing just as fast. While the ungodly pride themselves in their knowledge, they become increasingly capable of evil and destructiveness. Our global technologies have become our Tower of Babel – our rapid progress is rapidly progressing us towards catastrophic consequences as mankind seeks their own global kingdom on earth rather than the Kingdom of God.
12. Daniel 12:9 — “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are shut up and sealed until the time of the end.” End Times prophecy is mostly intended to be understood when it is revealed, to give confidence throughout all times that God is in control and has a plan and to give confirmation to those who witness the fulfillment of prophecy that God always fulfills His word. Daniel 11:1-36 shows us that God fulfills His word, and we can have complete confidence that God will fulfill His End Times prophecy – only the Father knows when.
13. Daniel 12:10 – “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.” You are either purifying yourself as one of God’s holy people or not. You are either giving your allegiance to this world or to God. The world will be distinctly divided between true Christians and the ungodly. Only the true followers of Christ will have the spiritual discernment to understand what is going on. The wicked cannot understand the gravity of what is happening around them right now.
14. Daniel 12:13 – “But go your way till the end. And you shall rest and shall stand in your allotted place at the end of the days.” Daniel would die before the end of the days, but there is a position awaiting him when Christ returns to establish His Kingdom on earth.
15. Proverbs 30:1-3 — “I am weary, O God, and worn out. Surely I am too stupid to be a man. I have not the understanding of a man. I have not learned wisdom, nor have I knowledge of the Holy One.”
– It takes a lot for some people to finally realize how much they need God and to humble themselves before the Lord.
– One of the first steps to wisdom is acknowledging that you know nothing and that you are totally reliant on God for understanding.
16. Proverbs 30:5, 6 – “Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.”
– We should only communicate the word of God to ourselves and to others. Don’t try to prove your wisdom by adding to it.
– Many feel they are too smart for the Bible, and many think they need more than God’s word. Many people trust in their own intellect rather than the mind of God. God will be glorified in the consequences the proud will inevitably face. Trust in God’s word, not in your own understanding.
17. Proverbs 30:7-9 – “Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.” Trust God to give you what you need, not what you want.
18. Proverbs 30:10 — “Do not slander a servant to his master, lest he curse you, and you be held guilty.” Don’t judge the worth of others; you don’t have God’s perspective on their lives. God is the judge of people. We can only judge behavior. You can speak to whether or not a person is doing what is right or wrong, but you cannot judge the value of the person. What a person does today isn’t the sum total of who they are or who they are becoming. At one point, both Moses and David were murderers, but God was making them into people after His own heart. You have to assume that God is doing great things in the lives of every person you meet, even the difficult people.
19. Proverbs 30:12 – “There are those who are clean in their own eyes but are not washed of their filth.” If you don’t think you need it, you won’t ask for it, and your need will remain unfilled to your loss.
20. Proverbs 30:18, 19 – “Three things are too wonderful for me; four I do not understand: the way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a serpent on a rock, the way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man with a virgin.” You never know what a person might do under certain circumstances. Everyone can be tempted to do foolish, sinful things when conditions change. You should seek to not only guard your own heart by controlling your environment as best as you can, you should also do the same for others, protecting them from their own weaknesses whenever possible.
21. Proverbs 30:20 – “This is the way of an adulteress: she eats and wipes her mouth and says, ‘I have done no wrong.’” What sins in your life have become so commonplace that you don’t even consider them sinful anymore? How about watching ungodly scenes as entertainment on your television?
22. Proverbs 30:24-28 – “Four things on earth are small, but they are exceedingly wise: the ants are a people not strong, yet they provide their food in the summer; the rock badgers are a people not mighty, yet they make their homes in the cliffs; the locusts have no king, yet all of them march in rank; the lizard you can take in your hands,
yet it is in kings’ palaces.” You don’t have to be powerful if you are wise. Wisdom comes from God, not through human intellect.
23. Revelation 2:2, 23 — “I know your deeds…. I will repay each of you according to your deeds.” In today’s reading from Revelation, Jesus commends and rebukes the churches based upon their deeds. The church of Ephesus is commended for its perseverance, refusal to tolerate “wicked men” and false teachers, and for its hatred of evil practices. Yet, it is also rebuked for slipping from its original height and commanded to repent. Meanwhile, Smyrna receives no rebuke, only praise and encouragement to remain faithful through affliction. Jesus commends Pergamum for refusing to renounce their faith under persecution but also rebukes them for immorality including sexual sin. He warns Pergamum that if they don’t deal with their sinful behavior, he will personally “fight against” those who practice such behavior. Thyatira is commended for “love, faith, service, perseverance, and growth. However, Thyatira is also rebuked for tolerating false teaching and immorality. Jesus warns that, without repentance, he will personally punish such behavior that God may be glorified. The end of chapter 2 states, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” – these letters have a message for all of God’s people. My takeaway: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8, 9). However, God holds us accountable for our words and deeds on earth as His ambassadors. God calls His people to repent from false doctrines and immorality which dishonors His Holiness. God does not take sin lightly and will punish His people for sin. Churches that fail to repent lose their “lampstand.” Reward awaits those who persevere and overcome.
24. Revelation 2:3, 4 – “I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.”
– You must endure patiently, but you must do it out of genuine love, not merely a sense of duty. You must be patient because you really want to for God and not just because you know you are supposed to.
– Good deeds are not enough. God is concerned about your heart. Your actions must be the fruit of love, not the fruit of pride, self-righteousness or self-preservation. How can two people do the same deed and one is accepted by God and the other isn’t? The answer is that one person is motivated by genuine love and the other isn’t. What motivates you to do what you do?
25. Revelation 2:14, 15, 20 — “You have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam… so that they might… practice sexual immorality…. So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans…. you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality.” God warns his churches that syncretism (the blending of God’s truth with the world’s lies) will destroy the churches if not stopped. Despite their “toil and… patient endurance… and bearing up”; despite their ‘holding fast’ to the Name of God and their refusal to deny their faith; despite their ever-increasing “love and faith and service and patient endurance,” the influence of the world around them threatens to erode their holiness, salt and light, thereby rendering them powerless and worthless as a church. It starts with ‘tolerance’ of evil within the church which turns into acceptance of evil within the church. Soon the word of God is filtered by God’s people to accommodate their sins which are abhorrent to God and misrepresent His character and His will before the world. The Bible points out over and over again that sexual sin is the most obvious or blatant indicator of infidelity to God. First the church starts to tolerate sexual sin (this usually starts with entertainment); then the church accepts it; then we stop preaching about it or, even worse, we pervert the word of God to justify current cultural norms. We do all this in the name of ‘love.’ However, the Provider of Grace has a much different message to the churches – “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.” (Revelation 2:5)
– God will not tolerate sexual immorality within the body and will “war” against it. God strictly forbids sex outside the covenant marriage of one man and one woman. All other sexual activity is an abomination. Remember, this is Jesus speaking. Don’t let anyone convince you that His grace accommodates unrepentant sin after salvation.
– Again, God forbids you to tolerate any form of sexual immorality. Don’t view inappropriate things and then go to the Lord in prayer, expecting God to honor your prayer. Purify yourself.
26. Revelation 2:9 — “I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.”
– Christians must be willing to really pay the price for doing the right thing. Wealth obtained in an ungodly way (like taking advantage of others or working for ungodly organizations) is not wealth at all. To be faithful to God, you might have to pass up on opportunities to get what you desire.
– See how many places the Bible points out that the church will go through the tribulation. Many Christians think they will escape the suffering that comes when God judges their nations.
27. Revelation 2:10, 11 – “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’” God will let His faithful servants suffer and die, and He warns them not to be afraid of their earthly demise. He will reward them for eternity. You likely won’t hear this message preached in the “seeker sensitive” church.
28. Revelation 2:21 – “…she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality.” Once again, God will not tolerate sexual immorality.
29. Revelation 2:26, 27 – “The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father.” Those who are most faithful will rule on earth with Jesus in His new Kingdom; not everyone receives a position of leadership in that kingdom.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 30 Nov 18: Today, purify yourself, and focus your mind on responding to all people, regardless of how they treat you, with love and service. (Rev 2:14-20; Proverbs 25:21, 22)