Jesus’ Teaching Is From the Father

Have you ever been at a party or major event with lots of people, and you tried to find someone? You unsuccessfully searched for a special person! Maybe you were slightly frustrated that you could not locate the person? Can you remember what that felt like? Our study is about Jesus, some religious leaders and a major Jewish feast with lots of people. We will discover that the religious leaders are searching for Jesus at a feast called the Feast of Booths. We will discover that they were not successful in their search. It was Jesus who found them. Now we need to back up for a minute and note that Jesus has been experiencing significant rejection after another rejection recently. The religious leaders had already rejected Him. In John 6:60-66 many of His disciples had left Him. In John 7:4-5 it becomes clear that His own brothers rejected Him. In our last study, a number of Samaritans rejected Him too! I imagine that it was difficult to have experienced these rejections. We are going to discover that the rejection is even more wide spread than just these few examples.

Map of Israel - Jesus went to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles

Arrival In Jerusalem

Our study begins with Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem for the Feast of Booths. His brothers had already left Capernaum for Jerusalem (John 7:8-10) about 3-4 days later. John 7:14 tells us that Jesus arrived in the midst of the feast. Verse 11 states that the religious leaders, the Pharisees, were seeking Him.

So the Jews were seeking Him at the feast and were saying, “Where is He?” John 7:11 (NASB)

Now we expected that didn’t we? John 5:18 tells us that the religious leaders wanted to murder Jesus because He claimed to be God. John 7:1 tells us that almost nine months later they still wanted to murder Him. These Jewish religious leaders are not seeking Him to gain some wisdom or knowledge or to get healed. They want to murder Him. Jesus arrival in Jerusalem is gutsy and dangerous. Verse 11 reveals that they were asking the people, “Where is He?” The Greek tenses of the words “seeking” and “saying” are in the imperfect. This reveals that they were repeatedly asking the people that question. Most likely they were moving from one group of people to another group and asking, “Where is He?”

Verses 12-13 reveal that as a result the people were talking about Jesus.

There was much grumbling among the crowds concerning Him; some were saying, “He is a good man”; others were saying, “No, on the contrary, He leads the people astray.” Yet no one was speaking openly of Him for fear of the Jews. John 7:12-13 (NASB)

No, they were doing more than talking. They were grumbling or murmuring about Him. The Greek word for “grumbling” is an onomatopoetic word. That is, a word that sounds like what they were doing. The Greek word is goggusmos. The murmuring was both positive and negative. Some of the people were just like people today. They listened to the leaders and agreed that they were right. Jesus was leading everyone astray. Others had the correct view and disagreed with the leaders and believed that Jesus was a good man. The Greek word for “good” is agathos and has the idea that they believed Jesus was a morally good man. The verb tenses in these two verses imply that the crowds were abuzz with conversation about Jesus.

Chronology10 - Ministry in Galilee to Ministry in Judea

Jesus Appears

Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem must have been a dramatic event since the religious leaders were seeking to murder Jesus, and the crowds knew it (John 7:25-26). John 7 reveals that the crowds were talking among themselves about the religious leaders’ desire to murder Jesus. Then Jesus appeared.

But when it was now the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and began to teach. John 7:14 (NASB)

Wow! When He arrived in Jerusalem He went to the temple and started teaching. When we are told that Jesus “began to teach,” the word “teach” is in the imperfect tense implying that Jesus was doing a lot of teaching, and the next verse reveals that the religious leaders were doing a lot of listening. Because we are told that they were repeatedly “astonished” (in the imperfect tense).

The Jews then were astonished, saying, “How has this man become learned, having never been educated?” John 7:15 (NASB)

This is a very dynamic picture. Jesus is teaching and the religious leaders are watching and listening. Now the religious leaders are not astonished because Jesus’ teaching was necessarily convicting. They were not saying to themselves or one another that He had great application. Instead, they were wondering how was it that Jesus knew the scriptures?

Notice that the religious leaders wondered how did Jesus become “learned”? The Greek phrase that is translated as the one word, “learned” literally means “know the writings” or “know the scriptures.” They could not understand how Jesus knew the scriptures since He had never gone to a rabbinic school. In Acts 4:13 we are told that the religious leaders later also wondered how Peter and John could preach so powerfully since they were “uneducated and untrained.” Some modern critics have stated that this verse reveals the apostles could not have written the New Testament since they could not read or write. But that reveals the critics’ lack of education or their willful desire to persuade others that the Bible could not have been written by the apostles. The correct answer is that the religious leaders could not understand how Jesus and the apostles knew the scriptures and teach as they did since they had not been formally trained in an official rabbinic school.[1] For example, in Acts 22:3 the apostle Paul tells us that He was educated by a very famous rabbi named Gamaliel. But Jesus and the apostles did not have any such “rabbi-approved-seminary” credentials. Actually, they had better credentials, Jesus was God Who had written the very scriptures they were studying. Mark 1:22 captures Jesus’ command of the scriptures with these terrific words,

They were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Mark 1:22 (NASB)

Some of the great recent preachers our time, such as Moody, Spurgeon and Bill Sunday, never had formal theological training at a seminary. All that a man or woman needs is the empowerment of the Holy Spirit and faithfulness in digging into God’s Word to uncover its meaning. The Holy Spirit will give power to the words and apply the message to the hearts of the hearers. That is all that is really required.

Accurately Teaching The Bible

Jesus’ reply is amazing. He does not defend His lack of “rabbi-approved-seminary” training. Instead, He speaks to the real issue with which the religious leaders are struggling. Was He teaching truth?

So Jesus answered them and said, “My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me. John 7:16 (NASB)

The religious leaders were struggling with the content of Jesus’ teaching. We can imagine that they were amazed at the conclusions that Jesus reached from the scriptures. In the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5, we discover that Jesus applied the scriptures in unique ways. Here are some examples,

You have heard that it was said, “YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY”; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matt. 5:27-28 (NASB)

You have heard that it was said, “AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.” But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. Matt. 5:38-39 (NASB)

You have heard that it was said, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you . . . Matt. 5:43-45 (NASB)

In John 8:26, 38 and 40 Jesus repeatedly revealed that He taught what He had heard from the Father. He taught the Father’s message and not His own. The religious leaders did not recognize that Jesus spoke truth because they were not filled with the Holy Spirit nor were they faithful, diligent teachers of scriptures.

Some teachers and preachers twist scripture to make it say what they want it to say. Some have a theological system that they cling to and then bend scripture to make it support their theological belief system. This happens in the secular world all the time. Let me give you an example. Some years ago I published an article about the Bible’s view on homosexuality and a woman complained that homosexuality was not a sin and God encourages us to love everyone. She rebuked me, accusing me of twisting the Bible. I responded by asking her to read Romans 1:24-27 and 1 Cor. 16:9-10 and then tell me if those two passages reveal that God views homosexuality as a sin. She never wrote back. Why? Because the passage explicitly says,

. . . men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. Romans. 1:27 (NASB)

I would not be surprised to learn that the woman was taught by some pastor or teacher who claimed that homosexuality is not a sin. If so, they changed the clear meaning of the Word of God. The clear meaning of the passages is that homosexuality is a sin. One who teaches the Word of God should be like a waitress who carries the food from the kitchen of the restaurant to the table of the customer without changing it. The waitress does not add pepper, salt, mustard, oregano or ketchup to the food. The waitress does not remove something from the plate. The waitress should deliver the plate of food to you just as the chef prepared it. God is the “chef,” and the preacher or teacher is responsible to just deliver it just as God prepared it – without changing the meaning. That is what Jesus did. Unlike the religious leaders, Jesus taught what He heard from the Father. This is an important lesson for those who teach the scriptures. Their job is to be a waiter or waitress who delivers the Word of God unadulterated to the listeners.

The religious leaders did not accept Jesus’ teaching because His teachings were different from their teachings. After all their hours of study in the scriptures they did not understand the truth that the Father had tried to communicate. They were poor scholars of the scriptures, handling the Word of God in a sloppy manner. They depended upon the opinions of other rabbis in order to understand the meaning of scripture. They would even debate what other rabbis said in order to determine the truth rather than examine scripture itself.

Hills of Samaria Near Shechem

Knowing The Truth

Then Jesus made a key statement.

If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself. John 7:17 (NASB)

He says that those who want to obey the Father will be able to sense the true teaching from the Father when they hear it. He is not saying that a non-Christian who has an interest in the things of God will recognize divine truth. Instead, Jesus is saying that a Christian who sincerely wants to obey God will understand the truth when they hear it. For example, later on Jesus says that the Holy Spirit will convict us of righteousness, judgment and sin (John 16:7-11). In 1 Cor. 2:12-13 we are told that the Holy Spirit will guide Christians into truth. That is also the message of 1 John 2:20, 27. But this is only true for those Christians who sincerely desire to obey and are actively obeying God the Father. Otherwise, they will be led astray by every charismatic teacher.

If you are a Christian, have you ever listened to some teacher and while you were listening had a sense that something was wrong with the teaching? Then later you studied the scriptures and discovered that the teacher taught error? That has happened to me on more than one occasion. The teacher was a gifted speaker and due to the power of preaching, he was almost convincing. But I sensed that something was wrong with his teaching. It wasn’t until later after I examined his teaching that the Holy Spirit helped me discover that he was wrong. I have put Deut. 4:29 and 2 Tim. 2:15 into practice,

Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. Acts 17:11 (NASB)

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. 2 Tim. 2:15 (NASB)

I desired to be obedient. I wanted to know what the Father was trying to teach. I wanted to know the truth and so I searched the scriptures. Now this does not mean that we check out some other gifted teacher for their opinion. The examples given to us by scripture is that we study His Word faithfully. This requires much effort and not just a flippant, quick, hurried thought.

Jesus said that those who desire to do the Father’s will know the truth. The fact that they did not understand that Jesus spoke the truth, proved they did not want to do the will of the Father.

Glory Seeking Teachers

Then Jesus added this,

He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. John 7:18 (NASB)

Unfortunately, some teachers of scripture are more interested in “wowing” the audience or appearing to be anointed by the Holy Spirit. On one occasion a preacher told the audience that the Holy Spirit was giving him new spiritual truth. It was a dramatic moment. He paused as if listening to the Holy Spirit and then declared that God was not a trinity and then said, “There are nine of them. The Father has a body, soul and spirit. Jesus has a body, soul and spirit. The Holy Spirit has a body, soul and spirit. There are nine of them.” Later he admitted that he taught error when others challenged him. The truth is – he sinned and was a false teacher. But his “performance” on the stage was dramatic. He was seeking his own glory from the audience.

That is a dramatic example. But the same situation exists in other church pulpits around the world every Sunday morning as preachers try to impress their congregation but in a less arrogant way. Some pastors are more of a showman than a teacher of truth. Some impose an application upon a passage of scripture that is not taught by the passage. The application might be biblically true but it is not what the passage is all about.

Some times teachers just make up an application that might not even be true because they want to “wow” the audience. Imagine this obviously ridiculous application, where someone is teaching Genesis 1 and then concludes that every Christian can create their own universe, create another planet earth and even another Adam and Eve, if they just had enough faith. Then he explains that Jesus said if we had enough faith we could move mountains. Obviously, such a teaching is not the message of Genesis 1. The purpose of Genesis 1 is to reveal that God created the universe and or planet. He is the Creator. But I am sure that someone in the church would think the teaching was Holy Spirit inspired. They would be impressed with the teaching, especially if the teacher was powerful and dynamic. Some teachers seek their own glory but not God’s glory. Teachers who seek their own glory are not as interested in truth and the correct application as they should be.

Then Jesus added that the one who accurately teaches what the Father wants communicated seeks glory for God the Father and is not committing sin. How many teachers and preachers are concerned about glorifying the Father and not committing the sin of inaccurate teaching? I have consistently tried to be an accurate teacher of scripture, but the thought that I might be committing sin by inadvertently teaching incorrectly is a new thought. James 3:1 alludes to this truth when he writes that every teacher of the Bible will be judged harder.

Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment. James 3:1 (NASB)

Not only will the teacher sin by wrongly teaching and applying the truth that God the Father does want taught, but such a teacher will be disciplined eventually and severely.

Selective Obedience

The religious leaders did not know the truth because they did not really want to obey the Father. Also, they did not teach the truth because they were more interested in being held in honor by the people. Consequently, they are more like an actor seeking to impress the audience. So we should not be surprised that they did not obey scripture either. They were not serious about pleasing God. Their religion was about themselves. That is the message of Jesus’ next statement.

Did not Moses give you the Law, and yet none of you carries out the Law? Why do you seek to kill Me?” John 7:19 (NASB)

Jesus spins their confrontation around with these words. He reminds them that Moses gave them the Law, which they so highly valued. That is where they got their teachings. Exodus 20:13 states, “You shall not murder” but they did not obey it. They understood the author of that law and they understood the meaning of the words. They did not challenge Moses’ teaching as they did Jesus’ teaching. Yet, they rejected both the teaching of Jesus and that of Moses because they wanted to murder Jesus. The crowd thought Jesus was crazy. The majority of the people did not understand that the religious leaders wanted to murder Him.

The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who seeks to kill You?” John 7:20 (NASB)

We will discover later that some of the people understood that Jesus spoke the truth.

Then Jesus makes another comparison between Himself and Moses.

Jesus answered them, “I did one deed, and you all marvel. For this reason Moses has given you circumcision (not because it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and on the Sabbath you circumcise a man. If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath so that the Law of Moses will not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made an entire man well on the Sabbath? Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” John 7:21-24 (NASB)

Jesus reminds them that they practice circumcision. It did not originate with Moses but with the fathers. In fact, it started with Abraham (Gen. 17:11), whom they greatly respected. God had told Abraham that circumcision was a sign, and Moses required that circumcision be performed on the eighth day after a male was born (Lev. 12:3-8). Normally the Jews would not perform any work on a Sabbath day because that was God’s command (Ex. 20:10; 31:14-17; Deut. 5:13-15). The Jews were so careful to obey this command that they went to excess. For example, the Shabbat in the Jewish book called the Mishnah[2] lists hundreds of rules supposedly to protect a Jew from working on the Sabbath. Yet, they ignored God’s commands in order to perform circumcision (a work) on a male child anyway, so that the Law of Moses would not be broken. Circumcision was a sign of being a Jew.

Yet, they objected to Jesus healing a man on the Sabbath. John 5:5-17 describes the healing. The man had been paralyzed in his legs for thirty-eight years. One would think that the religious leaders, who should have been an example of compassion, would have rejoiced for the man. Instead, they objected that one of their man made rules was violated. God had only said do not work on the Sabbath. Was healing a work? According to their long list of rules, it was a work.

The religious leaders were angry. Jesus reveals that their anger was sin. They were self-centered. They did not judge righteously. Their judgment was warped.

Conclusion

Jesus revealed that because the religious leaders were not serious about obeying God they could not understand scripture. Later in John 14:21 Jesus will tell us that He will not reveal Himself to anyone who is not seeking to obey the commandments. Jesus taught this principle many times.

When Jesus taught the Word of God, His teachings sounded strange to them because they were new. Consequently, they were offended that Jesus did not agree with them. Have you ever encountered someone who was offended because you disagreed with them? As Jesus taught He revealed their error. The religious leaders were not trying to be good waiters who delivered God’s food from the kitchen to the tables unadulterated. They played with the food. They added and removed things.

Every godly, God honoring teacher must want to obey God, work hard to teach accurately what God the Father was trying to communicate in each passage of scripture, and then faithfully apply it. Every godly, God honoring Christian must want to obey, want to know the truth, and then they can grow in their knowledge about God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. That is the ultimate joy in life – to know one’s Creator!

 

References:

1. Robertson, A. T. Word Pictures in the New Testament. Broadman Press. John 7:15.

2. Jacob Neusner. Shabbat. The Mishnah. Yale University Press. 1988. pp. 179-208.

God The Father Sent Jesus

Where were you born? Were you born in your mother’s home, a hospital, an automobile, a train, an airplane or in a field? What city or nation is your place of origin? Have you ever stopped to ask, “Why was I born in this nation or country?” Or, “Why was I born to these parents?” It is obvious that you did not choose your parents or your country. The message of the Bible is that God gave you your parents and your nation. They were God’s choices. In Jeremiah 1:5 God said He knew the prophet Jeremiah before he was born, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (NASB) God planned before the beginning of time that Jeremiah would be a prophet. When you meet another person, do you ever wonder in what country he/she was born, who are their parents or if he/she was a nice person? Maybe you wonder if he/she lives in a mansion, are married or has a vocation. Maybe you called the person pastor, doctor, Mr. President or some other name. And what do you think about Jesus?

Mistaken Identity

In this study we are going to discover that when Jesus walked this earth there were Jews who thought they knew all the important things about Jesus. They knew the city in which He lived, His father, mother, brothers and sisters. Some had probably heard rumors about Him that they rejected as not being true. We can be sure that there was gossip about Him. Gossip exists in every town and church. In the gospel of Mark we are told that some people knew the names of Jesus’ parents, brothers and sisters,

Map of Israel

Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?” And they took offense at Him. Mark 6:3 (NASB)

In addition to the names of the family members, they knew that Jesus was a carpenter. Typically, in Jesus’ day sons adopted the vocation of their fathers. Therefore, many conclude that Jesus’ father was a carpenter. While Mark 6:3 does not state the name of Jesus’ father, John 6:42 reveals that they knew his name was Joseph.

Many Roman Catholics have been taught that Jesus did not have brothers or sisters and that these verses refer to those who believe in God. That is, they are spiritual children or followers of God. Such teaching is wrong since it ignores the very obvious. For example, Matt. 1:16; Luke 1:27 and Luke 2:16 clearly identify Mary and Joseph as husband and wife.

Mark 6:3 clearly identifies Jesus’ mother along with four brothers and an unknown number of sisters. A plain sense reading of the verses indicates that this is a family unit. Nowhere in scripture are the words “brothers” and “sisters” used to refer to believers in God. Unfortunately, the Roman Catholic church have rejected the obvious because they teach that Mary did not have any other children? Why? Because they exalt Mary claiming that she was sinless and some how believe sexual relations for her would have been sinful. Where in the Bible can one find the statement that Mary had only one child – Jesus? Further John 7:1-8 reveals that Jesus’ brothers went to Jerusalem for the Feast of Booths and Jesus stayed behind. Acts 1:14 is a powerful statement that indicates Jesus had brothers. The verse says, “Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.” If this statement refers only to those of Jesus’ disciples or those who believe in Jesus, are we to conclude that the apostles weren’t His disciples? Also, Galatians 1:19 states that James was the brother of Jesus (Mark 6:3). The message is simple. Jesus had brothers and sisters and Mary was not a perpetual virgin. The Jews of Jesus’ day knew that Jesus had brothers and sisters.

The Origin of Jesus

In this study the question that we will consider is who was Jesus and from where did He come? In our last study Jesus and the religious leaders were questioning His authority to teach the crowds. They did not believe that He had the authority or the rabbinic training to teach. They considered themselves as the authority. Since Jesus had not been taught in any of their schools, they did not think He was qualified to teach. Jesus defended Himself by showing them their hypocrisy. They claimed to be true to the teachings of Moses, but they distorted his teachings and were not faithful followers of God. Jesus was repeatedly stating that their teachings were in error. In response they challenged Him. Because they were angry that He was not following their own teachings, they wanted to kill Him.

Confusion Among The People

Consequently, the people were in confusion not knowing what to believe about Jesus. Our study begins with John 7:25-26 and these verses reveal the people were confused.

So some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, “Is this not the man whom they are seeking to kill? Look, He is speaking publicly, and they are saying nothing to Him. The rulers do not really know that this is the Christ, do they?“ John 7:25-26 (NASB)

These two verses tell us that the people who gathered for the Feast of Booths were surprised that the Jewish leaders were allowing Jesus to speak publicly. Earlier in verses 11-13 we were told that the religious leaders were seeking Jesus because they wanted to kill Him (John 5:18; 7:1). As a result, the people were afraid to speak about Jesus. They knew that the leaders had already rejected Jesus. Consequently, they were stunned that the leaders were allowing Jesus to speak “openly.” The Greek word that is translated as “publicly” in verse 26 is parresia. It literally means “boldness or openness.” That is, Jesus was bold and yet the leaders did nothing.

Chronology10 - Ministry in Galilee to Ministry in Judea

So, the people wondered why the leaders delayed. The wording of the Greek sentence could imply that the religious leaders had fresh evidence that Jesus could be the Messiah.[1]  If this is true, then the leaders were discussing among themselves what to do next. That would explain why they did not take action immediately.

The Greek word that is translated as “Christ” in verse 26 also means “Messiah.” We can be confident that the religious leaders understood the full meaning of Jesus’ name. This was a strategic time for the religious leaders. Jesus was at the feast and He could have been easily arrested and then killed. But they delayed. We will soon discover also that the religious leaders were concerned that Jesus was gaining a following. They heard the crowds wondering if He was the promised Messiah. The tension and excitement among the people and the religious leaders at the feast over Jesus must have been like electricity. Was Jesus really the Messiah? One can almost hear the religious leaders thinking. Why should we kill Him, if He is the Messiah? If He is not the Messiah, then Jesus is a trouble maker and gaining a following. Should they take the risk?

The Jewish rabbis of Jesus’ day were not careful students of the Old Testament scriptures. As a result, they thought the Messiah would be a human, like them – only a man. They believed correctly that he would be born in Bethlehem and become a Messianic king. The religious leaders taught that the Messiah would be a descendant of King David (Mark 12:35) and sit on the throne of Israel’s kingdom.

The next verse, John 7:27 raises some interesting questions. The question is, “Why did the people think that they would not know from where the Messiah came?”

However, we know where this man is from; but whenever the Christ may come, no one knows where He is from. John 7:27 (NASB)

It is obvious that the people had been incorrectly taught by their religious leaders that no one would know the identity of the Messiah until He suddenly appeared, and no one would know from where He came. While they were correct in many points about the Messiah, it is amazing that they believed that no one would know who He was or His birthplace.

They missed the fact that He would be God. That is the message of Isaiah 9:6-7 and Micah 5:2-5. Maybe the truth was too difficult to accept? Matthew 2:1-6 reveals that the religious leaders understood that Micah 5:2 taught the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. That is what they told the magi, but they did not understand the last past of Micah 5:2 which clearly reveals that the Messiah would be from “forever, ancient, perpetuity or everlasting.” Only God is from everlasting. They missed that truth.

Today the rabbis teach that the Messiah will be a human leader of Israel who ushers in universal peace.[2]

God The Father Sent Jesus

Sent By The Father

Then Jesus cried out,

Then Jesus cried out in the temple, teaching and saying, “You both know Me and know where I am from; and I have not come of Myself, but He who sent Me is true, whom you do not know. I know Him, because I am from Him, and He sent Me.” John 7:28-29 (NASB)

Jesus’ response indicates that He knew what the people were thinking and discussing. He was either omniscient – knew their thoughts – or He had heard them talking. Now it is important to notice what Jesus said in these two verses. First, He acknowledged that they did know Him. At least they thought they knew Him. They knew His parents and His brothers and sisters. They knew He was a carpenter and probably many other things that the gospels do not state.

Second, they knew the town that He came from. It was called Nazareth in the region known as Galilee. Many people are born in one city or nation and then later move to a different city or nation. The people did not even stop to think that maybe Jesus was born in Bethlehem and later moved to Nazareth in Galilee. They did not know that Jesus actually came from heaven to Bethlehem and then His parents moved Him to Nazareth. They did not know where He really came from.

Third, Jesus made an incredible comment that should have captured their attention. He said that it wasn’t His decision to come to earth, but someone else sent Him. Now most of us know that children enter this world as the result of sexual relations. Their parents “decided” to have children. But Jesus did not say that. He said that someone sent Him whom they did not know. He was referring to God the Father. He was clearly claiming to be sent by God. God decided to send Him to the parents to whom He was born.

This statement infuriated the religious leaders. Claiming to be from God sounded like a very proud and arrogant man. Even worse for the religious leaders, the people were believing Him because of His miracles, signs, wonders and incredible teachings. It is obvious in the next two verses that the religious leaders would have wished that He had just disappeared. But He didn’t and wouldn’t, so they wanted to kill Him.

So they were seeking to seize Him; and no man laid his hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come. John 7:30 (NASB)

But the religious leaders could do nothing because God did not want anything to happen to the Christ, yet. The Greek word that is translated as “seize” is pasisdo. It literally means to “arrest.” So they wanted to arrest Him. That was an important step before killing Him.

Even though the religious leaders did not believe in Jesus the crowds did.

But many of the crowd believed in Him; and they were saying, “When the Christ comes, He will not perform more signs than those which this man has, will He?” John 7:31 (NASB)

The signs, wonders and teachings were too great for the people to ignore. These things screamed loudly that Jesus was the one they longed for, waited for and wished for. He must be the Christ; however, they had doubts.

Now the religious leaders thought they had only two choices. First, arresting such a popular individual with so many people present had great risks. Or second, they could let Him continue teaching things with which they strongly disagreed. If they arrested Him, the people could revolt and cost them their popularity. If they did not arrest Him, that could cost them popularity too since He was speaking against them while claiming to be God. All of His signs, wonders and teachings seemed to support His claims. One would like to know what they had to say in their private meetings. But all we know is the result of their discussions.

Attempt To Arrest Jesus

The next verse states that the religious leaders finally decided to risk rejection from the crowds and arrest Jesus. They concluded that the alternative of doing nothing was too dangerous.

The Pharisees heard the crowd muttering these things about Him, and the chief priests and the Pharisees sent officers to seize Him. John 7:32 (NASB)

In this verse we are told that the Phariees heard the crowds muttering. The verb “muttering” is a participle which means that the crowds were continuously muttering. One can only imagine the emotional impact this must have had upon the Pharisees as they heard the people wondering if Jesus was the Christ. This One who spoke out against them denounced their teachings and publicly rebuked them. He performed signs, wonders and miracles they couldn’t. His teachings were awesome, inspiring and wonderful.

This was not a secret to Jesus. He knew about their plan. That is the message of verses 33-34.

Therefore Jesus said, “For a little while longer I am with you, then I go to Him who sent Me. You will seek Me, and will not find Me; and where I am, you cannot come.” John 7:33-34 (NASB)

The Greek word that Jesus used in the phrase “little while” is mikron. It has the idea of a very short unit. That is, Jesus was declaring that He would not be on planet earth very long. Where was He going? He was going home where He came from originally – back to God the Father who had sent Him! He was going back to heaven.

If the religious leaders had understood Jesus’ next statement in verse 34, they would have been angry, but they didn’t. In that verse Jesus said that they would try to find Him but would be unsuccessful. Why? Because they could not and were not going where He was going. That is, they were not going to heaven. Jesus’ message is simple but powerful. They were going to hell. They were not going to go to heaven as they had assumed. Just imagine, these religious leaders who counseled others on how to go heaven were not going to heaven themselves. Their decision to arrest Jesus revealed their unholy, godless, self-centered heart. These were religious leaders who were just like the devil (John 8:44). They were religious leaders in title only.

Verse 35 reveals that they did not come close to understanding what Jesus was trying to communicate.

The Jews then said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we will not find Him? He is not intending to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks, is He? “What is this statement that He said, You will seek Me, and will not find Me; and where I am, you cannot come’?” John 7:35-36 (NASB)

They simply ignored all of Jesus’ previous claims to be God (John 5:18) and to have come from heaven. Their words also reveal their own arrogance that they could go anywhere they wanted. They missed the message. Jesus was going to heaven and they weren’t going there. They were going to go to hell.

Conclusion

It is amazing how many people have claimed that Jesus never taught He was God and had come down from heaven. In this passage we have discovered that Jesus claimed to have come from heaven (John 6:38; 41-42, 51, 58). He was sent by God the Father (John 7:28-29). He had already claimed to be God (John 5:18, 26-27) and He would repeat this claim again in John 8:24, 58; 10:30-33. Jesus declared to everyone who had ears to hear that He was and is our eternal God.

 

References:

1. D. A. Carson. The Gospel According to John. Inter-Varsity Press. 1991. p. 317.
2. Today the rabbis believe that the Messiah will 1) Build the Third Temple (Ezekiel 37:26-28). 2) Gather all Jews back to the Land of Israel (Isaiah 43:5-6).
3) Usher in an era of world peace (Isaiah 2:4). 4) Spread universal knowledge of the God of Israel (Zechariah 14:9). (http://www.simpletoremember.com/articles/a/jewsandjesus/)

 

 

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The Elect Are Secure By The Power of God

I Have Spoken!

They have invaded us! They have conquered us, stolen from our temple, and captured thousands of our people! Those must have been just a few of the thoughts of some of the Israelites who watched Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian army march through the streets of Jerusalem after they had defeated Pharaoh Neco and his Egyptian army. Nebuchadnezzar and his army had come to conquer and control the land of Judah. Now he came to humiliate their King Jehoiakim by making him his slave and stealing from the temple. Before Nebuchadnezzar left Judah, he made Jehoiakim a puppet governor to control the land Nebuchadnezzar now claimed for his own. The once proud nation under King David and King Solomon was now in the control of the Babylonian Empire.

God’s Hand

Daniel picks up this historical event in the first two verses.

In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the vessels of the house of God; and he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and he brought the vessels into the treasury of his god.” (NASB) Daniel 1:1-2

Nebuchadnezzar was an emerging power and Jehoiakim was a wicked king. Daniel begins with two kings, one defeated and the other a conqueror because God helped him win. The Holy Spirit tells us that God “gave” Jehoiakim to Nebuchadnezzar. Psalm 127:1 reminds us that Nebuchadnezzar would not have won without God’s help.

Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman keeps awake in vain. (NASB) Ps. 127:1

Nebuchadnezzar did not know that he had been helped. He did not know that he was to soon discover God through one of his captives.

flow of Biblical prophecy

Overview

Daniel is about kings and godly men who remained faithful to the true God. It is about dreams and prophecies concerning five nations. It is a book about God, Satan, and demons. It is a book that will give us confidence that the Bible is God speaking to us.

We will see the signs of the times and explore the future. When we finish with Daniel, we will continue into Revelation, Lord willing, to understand the events in our future.

The Battle Ground

Daniel has been a battle ground between those who do not believe in God and those who do. Those who do not believe in God cannot accept miracles and biblical prophecies, including Daniel. So they have attacked the date and authorship of Daniel. They say that the book was written after the historical events occurred.
What has occurred is that they have ignored the facts and have refused to answer questions that point to their error. Here are some of the facts.

Dead Sea Scrolls. When was Daniel written? The Dead Sea Scrolls provide the first proof that the book of Daniel existed before 165 BC, since Daniel was found among the manuscripts at Qumran. This early date is the result of radiocarbon dating of the Dead Sea manuscripts of Daniel. They imply that earlier copies of the book with older dates already existed. This is important because Daniel predicted the fall of Babylon (605-539 B.C.), Media-Persia (539-331 B.C.), Greece (331-146 B.C.) and then Rome (331-146 B.C.). Daniel also predicts the time of Jesus’ death (33 A.D.). The Dead Sea Scrolls prove that at least one prophecy, the prophecy about Jesus’ existence on earth to be real.

Date of Daniel

The Septuagint. There is another proof that the book of Daniel existed before Jesus was alive on this earth. This proof involves the Septuagint, which is also known as the LXX. The LXX is a Greek translation of the Old Testament. Jewish tradition says that seventy scribes translated the Hebrew Bible into Greek between 285 BC and 247 BC. Since the Septuagint contains the book of Daniel, we know that the book of Daniel existed even earlier in time.

Book of Josephus. Josephus states that the book of Daniel was shown to Alexander the Great when he approached the city of Jerusalem (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book XI, chapter VIII, section 5). History says that Alexander the Great approached Jerusalem around 331 BC. This means that the book of Daniel existed before this event. It predicted that Jerusalem would be conquered by Greece. Some critics will accept Josephus’ other accounts as being accurate, yet dispute this fact.

The Jewish Tradition. Long standing Jewish tradition says that the book of Daniel existed before 450 BC. While this is not solid proof, it is consistent with the next fact.

Ezekiel’s Reference. Most critics widely accept the book of Ezekiel as being written between 586 BC and 538 BC. What is fascinating is that the author, Ezekiel, refers to Daniel in Ezekiel 14:14, 20. This implies that Daniel was alive during his time. Daniel claims to be the author (Daniel 12:4) of the book which bears his name and to have lived during the life of Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 1-2) and Darius (Dan. 9:1). This implies that Daniel was a contemporary of Ezekiel and lived to see the fall of Babylon (Dan. 5:30-31).

Internal Evidence. For decades, the critics said the proof that Daniel was written near Christ’s time is found in the Greek names of musical instruments recorded in the book and in the fact that a portion of Daniel was written in Aramaic. After excavations in Babylonia and Assyria, it has become clear that the musical instruments (lyre, sackbut, and trigon) mentioned in Daniel 3 do not have Greek names (which would argue for a later date for Daniel), but Babylonian names from the seventh century (600 B.C.). These instruments originated in Old Persia and were then assimilated by the Greeks.

To the embarrassment of the critics, excavations have also proven that the Aramaic of Daniel was an Imperial Aramaic of the seventh century (600 B.C.) and not the Aramaic found later. The Babylonians did read and write in Aramaic (Dan. 2:4). With the Dead Sea scrolls and recent archaeological findings, the critics of Daniel are having to reconsider their objections. Future discoveries are proving the criticisms to be in error and not objective.

Substantial historical evidence exists to prove that Daniel was written before the prophecies about Greece, Rome and Jesus were fulfilled.

The Kings and Prophets

For a horizontal version of the chart click here.

The Warning

The opening verses of Daniel are a warning to us. The nation of Israel had been a divided nation after King Solomon sinned and went after other gods (1 Kings 11:9-13). Two new kingdoms were created after his death as God had decreed. One was a new, smaller kingdom of Israel in the northern part of Canaan and the second kingdom was Judah in the southern part. This was the result of King Solomon’s sins and not the sins of the people.

The kings of the new Israel and Judah continued ignoring God and worshipping other gods. They “did evil.” The chart below shows which kings did evil before God (1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles). The kings of Israel were the worst and so God disciplined them first and brought the Assyrian Empire down to remove the vast majority of the people to a foreign land. The kings of Judah were better, but only two kings were considered to be “good.” The last good king was King Josiah – a wonderful king. Listen to this!

And before him there was no king like him who turned to the LORD with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; nor did any like him arise after him. (NASB) 2 Kings 23:25

God never said this about David or Solomon and He did not say this about any other king. Did you notice the first and last part of the passage? There was no king like him before or after him. He loved God with all his heart, soul, and might. That is what Jesus has called us to do.

And He said to him, “YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.” (NASB) Matt. 22:37

Josiah destroyed everything that stood between him, the people of Judah and God. But that did not change God’s plan to bring Nebuchadnezzar down and destroy Jerusalem and Judah.

However, the LORD did not turn from the fierceness of His great wrath with which His anger burned against Judah, because of all the provocations with which Manasseh had provoked Him. (NASB) 2 Kings 23:26

There is a great lesson here for us . God works through leadership. Sinning leaders bring God’s discipline on a nation. The principle is the same with fathers and single parents who are sinning. Sinning church leaders blunt the blessing of the Lord on the church. Oh, the leader can “minister” for the Lord but he/she “ministers” without the Lord’s full blessing.

Eventually, God disciplines the leader and maybe the people, the family, or the church. So God gave the kingdom of Israel to the Assyrians and about one hundred years later He gave Judah and its sinning leaders to Nebuchadnezzar. Was this fair? Here is God’s answer.

Woe to them! For they have brought evil on themselves. (NASB) Isa. 3:9

In the following verse, leaven symbolizes sin.

Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? Clean out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. (NASB) 1 Cor. 5:6-7

The leaders are the models. They set the example and the people follow. The kings sinned and here is what happened in the kingdom of Judah.

For My people have forgotten Me, They burn incense to worthless gods And they have stumbled from their ways, From the ancient paths, To walk in by-paths, Not on a highway . . . (NASB) Jer. 18:15

God had been calling them to repent but they did not.

Perhaps they will listen and everyone will turn from his evil way, that I may repent of the calamity which I am planning to do to them because of the evil of their deeds. (NASB) Jer. 26:3

So God used Nebuchadnezzar to discipline Judah. Nebuchadnezzar was not a man who followed God. He worshipped other gods, including his chief god Marduk. God used Nebuchadnezzar to bring the Jewish captives to Babylon. Babylon means the “Gate of god” or the “Gate of the gods.” They would be here for seventy years (Jeremiah 25:12-13). God used this man to defeat Jerusalem and bring the Jewish captives to a godless place. Nebuchadnezzar was God’s servant (Jer. 25:9) – God’s tool. The message for us is that God uses evil nations, terrorists, thieves, murders, to bring us to Himself. God calls us to believe in Jesus Christ.

Conclusion

Do you believe in Jesus Christ? If you do not, God says that you at war with Him (Rom. 5:10). But you can make peace with God by believing in Jesus Christ.

Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ . . . (NASB) Rom. 5:1

God says that we must believe that Jesus is God, the only true God. You must believe that you are a sinner and that peace is found only when Jesus forgives your sins. We must also believe that Jesus returned to life. If you do, the war is over. Your sins are forgiven and now Jesus calls you to submit to Him. Praise the Lord.

 

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Introduction To The Prophecy of Daniel

Daniel Was A Precious Man Before God

God’s Desire for Us

At a school in Ireland, a clergyman is reported to have asked a group of children, “What is holiness?” A poor, dirty, ragged-clothed young Christian child jumped up and said, “Please, your Reverence, it is to be clean inside!” That is a wonderful definition, “To be clean inside” – morally clean. As we saw in our last study, the Israelites missed this point. Most of the kings of both Israel and Judah were doing evil before God. The prophets of God had warned them to stop, but they did not listen. So God brought the Assyrian and then the Babylonian Empires down to take Israel and Judah into captivity. The prophet Isaiah explains why this happened with, “For they have brought evil on themselves” (NASB) Isaiah 3:9. God wanted their holiness, but they had ignored Him.

Opening of Daniel

At the opening of our last study in Daniel, we discovered that Nebuchadnezzar had besieged Jerusalem. What a way to start a book. What an incredible opening! The book opens with a military battle.

In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. (NASB) Daniel 1:1

This was judgement. God’s judgment came in 605 B.C. as illustrated in the chart entitled “Events of the Conquest” in the Appendix (also see an outline of Daniel in the Appendix). We are told that Nebuchadnezzar came to Jerusalem during the third year of Jehoiakim’s reign. But Jeremiah 46:2 says this occurred in the fourth year of Jehoiakim’s reign. The difference is that the Babylonians counted the first year as the ascension year and the next year as the first year of a king’s reign. This fact is found in the first and second chapters. In the first chapter, Daniel says that he was trained for three years (Dan. 1:5) before he entered the king’s service (Dan. 1:18). So the chapter marks the end of Daniel’s third year of captivity, but Daniel 2:1 says this is also the second year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign. Nebuchadnezzar has been the ruler for three years: one ascension year plus two years as king. Daniel, the author, was trained to count the reign of a ruler as a Babylonian would. He counted Jehoiakim’s reign in the same way.

Persian Satraps

Nebuchadnezzar’s military victory was not something God happened to allow. God caused it to happen. He gave the kingdom of Judah to Nebuchadnezzar along with the vessels from His temple.

And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the vessels of the house of God; and he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and he brought the vessels into the treasury of his god. (NASB) Daniel 1:2

Nebuchadnezzar brought the vessels to the temple of his god in Shinar, the ancient name for Babylon. What an incredible set of events! God gave Jehoiakim to Nebuchadnezzar. God gave the vessels from the temple and He gave some Jews, His people, as captives. God did this! He gave the king, temple vessels, and people whom He loved to a man who did not believe in the true God, to a man who was named after and who served the god Nabu.

Then God called Nebuchadnezzar “My Servant” (Jeremiah 25:9). This is, humanly speaking, unbelievable. This account reminds us how much God hates our sin.

Secular Education

God then proceeds to tell us that He allowed Daniel to be educated in Babylon.

Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, the chief of his officials, to bring in some of the sons of Israel, including some of the royal family and of the nobles, youths in whom was no defect, who were good-looking, showing intelligence in every branch of wisdom, endowed with understanding, and discerning knowledge, and who had ability for serving in the king’s court; and he ordered him to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. (NASB) Daniel 1:3-4

Daniel was a youth. I wonder how he felt being taken away from his family, transported hundreds of miles, and then coming to a godless city of great beauty and wealth. This city was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. I wonder how he felt? Was he afraid, lonely, uncertain or worried? Probably! But unknown to this young man, God had plans for him.

The first step was a secular education. There is nothing wrong with a secular education. There is only a concern for a young man or woman’s faithfulness to God. This young man was faithful as we will see. Just imagine. Daniel must have been taught a different view of creation. The Babylonians did not believe in the creation account found in the Old Testament. Daniel was to learn a different language, a different concept of God, and a different standard of living.

Secular Influence

Daniel’s Babylonian guide was Ashpenaz. He was the chief of the eunuchs. Was Daniel made a eunuch? We do not know. This official was responsible for taking care of the education of Daniel and his friends.

Persian Ruins

And the king appointed for them a daily ration from the king’s choice food and from the wine which he drank, and appointed that they should be educated three years, at the end of which they were to enter the king’s personal service. Now among them from the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. Then the commander of the officials assigned new names to them; and to Daniel he assigned the name Belteshazzar, to Hananiah Shadrach, to Mishael Meshach, and to Azariah Abed-nego. (NASB) Daniel 1:5-7

He also changed Daniel’s name and the names of his friends: Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. Their Hebrew names referred to Jehovah God, but their new names referred to Babylonian gods. But God did not intervene. What a lesson for Christians. All too often we want to create an environment that is “free” from non-Christian influence in the belief that this will make us better Christians or more holy. The truth is, victory in spiritual warfare makes us better Christians. God was preparing Daniel.

Daniel Revealed

Many have wondered if Daniel ate the Babylonian food or food approved by the law given by Moses. Daniel objected to the food he was asked to eat.

But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank; so he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself. Now God granted Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the commander of the officials, and the commander of the officials said to Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has appointed your food and your drink; for why should he see your faces looking more haggard than the youths who are your own age? Then you would make me forfeit my head to the king.” But Daniel said to the overseer whom the commander of the officials had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, “Please test your servants for ten days, and let us be given some vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance be observed in your presence, and the appearance of the youths who are eating the king’s choice food; and deal with your servants according to what you see.” So he listened to them in this matter and tested them for ten days. And at the end of ten days their appearance seemed better and they were fatter than all the youths who had been eating the king’s choice food. So the overseer continued to withhold their choice food and the wine they were to drink, and kept giving them vegetables. (NASB) Daniel 1:8-16

If Daniel was rejecting food not approved under the Mosaic Law, why did he reject the wine? Or, did he want to avoid food offered to Babylonian gods? Foreign gods are not gods according to the New Testament (Galatians 4:8). There is only one God. The answer is, “We do not know for sure why Daniel rejected the food!” There is no clear, satisfactory answer. What we do know is that Daniel did not want to “defile” himself. Daniel was seeking holiness! That is the key point. That is the message of these verses.

In School

Therefore Daniel asked for permission not to eat the food or drink the wine and God granted Daniel favor and compassion. Have you ever wanted favor and compassion in a difficult situation? Proverbs has the answer for us.

My son, do not forget my teaching, But let your heart keep my commandments . . . Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute In the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. (NASB) Proverbs 3:1-6

In this passage the Holy Spirit calls us to knowledge of His Word, faithful obedience and love. When God calls us to faithful obedience, He is calling us to a holy life. When He calls us to faithful obedience. He is calling us to love. These things appear to be true of Daniel.

God’s Favor

So God granted Daniel favor and compassion and He granted all four young people knowledge, intelligence, and wisdom.

And as for these four youths, God gave them knowledge and intelligence in every branch of literature and wisdom; Daniel even understood all kinds of visions and dreams. (NASB) Daniel 1:17

Three years past between verses seventeen and eighteen. The day came for them to be evaluated by the king.

Then at the end of the days which the king had specified for presenting them, the commander of the officials presented them before Nebuchadnezzar. And the king talked with them, and out of them all not one was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s personal service. And as for every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king consulted them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and conjurers who were in all his realm. (NASB) Daniel 1:18-20

God had granted Nebuchadnezzar victory over Jehoiakim. He granted Daniel favor with his overseer, the youths knowledge, intelligence, and wisdom, and the result was favor with the king. Dr. J. Vernon McGee adds this,

I want to submit to you that the Bible was not written by a bunch of . . . men who were ignorant. Moses was learned in all the wisdom of Egypt. The Egyptians were quite advanced; they knew the distance to the sun, and they knew that the earth was round. It was a few Greeks who came along later and flattened out the earth. They were the “scientists” in that day, you see. Science taught that the earth was flat. The Bible never did teach that; in fact, it said it was a circle (see Isa. 40:22). Daniel, too, as a young man was outstanding. He must have rated high on the list of these young men who were given tests in the court of Nebuchadnezzar. The apostle Paul, who wrote much of the New Testament, was up in that bracket intellectually also. All these were brilliant young men who were exposed to the learning of their day. I get weary of these so-called [intellectuals] who act as if the Bible was written by a group of ignoramuses . . . Daniel was nobody’s fool. He was a brilliant young man and he was taught as few men have been taught . . . Thru the Bible with J. Vernon Magee, Vol III

Conclusion

Daniel was brilliant and holy. The kings of Judah and Israel caused the kingdoms to fall into captivity by their evil. Here we have a young man who seeks to be holy, and God responds by making him one of the great prophets of the Old Testament.

When Queen Victoria reigned in England, she would occasionally visit some of the “humble cottages” of her subjects. One time she entered the home of a widow. Later the poor woman was taunted by her neighbors, “Granny, who is the most honored guest you have ever entertained in your home?” They expected her to say it was Jesus. But to their surprise she answered, “Her Majesty, the queen.” They were surprised and asked, “Did you say the queen? Ah, we caught you this time! How about Jesus?” To that, the woman responded, “No, He is not a guest. He lives here!”

Daniel could have sinned and done what he wanted. He was away from home, away from parents and away from church – unseen by all who knew him. This reveals Daniel’s real heart. He risked his life to be holy. God was not a visitor in His life. Do you live your Christian life as if God is a visitor?

 

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Daniel – Granted Unusual Favor By God

Hooked By A Dream

A young woman was murdered on a farm and was buried in a barn. Those who missed the young woman assumed that she had left the town and was living somewhere else. The murder was not suspected and so went undiscovered. But the young woman’s mother started having dreams. It was always the same dream over and over again. Each time the dream told the mother to go and search this particular barn. Disturbed by the dream, the mother finally went and discovered her murdered daughter. The murderer was identified, went to trial, was sentenced and executed. Now, how did this happen? Where did the mother’s dream come from?

Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream

Nebuchadnezzar had a dream too! His dream was different. It was about a metal statue. The dream started when he started wondering about the future (Dan. 2:29). Night after night he had the same dream. He could no longer sleep. Finally, Nebuchadnezzar wanted to know the meaning of the dream. He must have sensed there was significance to his dream.

Now in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; and his spirit was troubled and his sleep left him. (NASB) Dan. 2:1

Babylon was a glorious place according to ancient historians and from Isaiah we have this description,

. . . Babylon, the beauty of kingdoms, the glory of the Chaldeans’ pride . . . (NASB) Isa. 13:19

The ancient historian Herodotus said that Babylon was more magnificent than any city in the known world. Babylon was a place of beauty which featured one of the seven wonders of the ancient world – the Hanging Gardens. God had also given Nebuchadnezzar an empire greater than the Assyrian Empire. His empire was a military superpower. Was Nebuchadnezzar thinking about his fame, wealth, and military strength when he started worrying about his future?
The Lion - Symbol of Ancient Babylon

All we know is that he wanted to know the future, and he called his team of wise men together to see if they knew the meaning of his dream. Only he did not know that he was calling on the wrong team of men.

Then the king gave orders to call in the magicians, the conjurers, the sorcerers and the Chaldeans, to tell the king his dreams. So they came in and stood before the king. (NASB) Dan. 2:2

The Wise Men

These men were educated in the Laws of Hammurabi, the Assyrian Dream Book, astrology, mathematics, economics, and religious literature. They maintained a record of the economic trends of the empire in the Chronicles of the Market Places. Babylon also had a vast library of knowledge, which archaeology has uncovered. As a result, it is not surprising that the Babylonian dynasty was called the “Master of Wisdom” (Wiseman, D. J. Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon, The British Academy. 1983. p. 86.). Today, some assume that a man or woman with educational degrees is intellectually brilliant.

But that is not necessarily true, as we are going to see in just a minute. In many cases it just means that they have completed a course of study as a result of hard work. Nebuchadnezzar, frustrated and wanting to sleep, finally called for the wise men.

And the king said to them, “I had a dream, and my spirit is anxious to understand the dream.” (NASB) Dan. 2:3

The wise men reacted as most of us would. They asked the king to tell them the dream.

Then the Chaldeans spoke to the king in Aramaic: “O king, live forever! Tell the dream to your servants, and we will declare the interpretation.” (NASB) Dan. 2:4

Nebuchadnezzar’s magicians, the conjurers, sorcerers and Chaldeans are surprised when he uses the old carrot and stick routine. He threatens them with punishment and then tries to motivate them with rewards.

The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, “The command from me is firm: if you do not make known to me the dream and its interpretation, you will be torn limb from limb, and your houses will be made a rubbish heap. “But if you declare the dream and its interpretation, you will receive from me gifts and a reward and great honor; therefore declare to me the dream and its interpretation.” (NASB) Dan. 2:5-6

The king doubted their ability to honestly interpret his dream. That may be the reason he waited so long to take his dream to them. Ancient historians state that mistakes were made in divination just as in medicine. Cicero said there was error, superstition, and fraud in divination. A historian writes that Sennacherib separated some diviners into groups in order to determine if their report was truthful (Oppenheim. Ancient Mesopotamia. Univ. of Chicago Press. 1983). Nebuchadnezzar must have been disappointed before with bad information from his wise men too!

Nostradamus Prophecy Hoax

The False Prophets

In recent years, Nostradamus, a sixteenth century medical doctor, has been hailed as a great modern day prophet. Books have been written about his prophecies. The media has featured him. But many are not aware that most of his supporters disagree about the interpretations of his prophecies. In fact, the majority of his supporters agree that he is accurate less than 50 percent of the time. His prophecies are referred to as “quatrains” and were written in French. Among his supporters, less than 10 percent agree upon the meaning of the quatrains and less than 6 percent agree that any have been fulfilled. The symbolism in Nostradamus’ quatrains has to be tweaked to make them “prophetic.” God has said the test of a true prophet is that he is never wrong (Deut. 18:20-22). This means that Nostradamus is not a true prophet. When we come to the book of Daniel, we do not need to tweak them. Daniel is a true prophet of God.

Only The Gods

But the magicians, conjurers, sorcerers and Chaldeans insist the dream be shared.

They answered a second time and said, “Let the king tell the dream to his servants, and we will declare the interpretation.” The king answered and said, “I know for certain that you are bargaining for time, inasmuch as you have seen that the command from me is firm, that if you do not make the dream known to me, there is only one decree for you. For you have agreed together to speak lying and corrupt words before me until the situation is changed; therefore tell me the dream, that I may know that you can declare to me its interpretation.” The Chaldeans answered the king and said, “There is not a man on earth who could declare the matter for the king, inasmuch as no great king or ruler has ever asked anything like this of any magician, conjurer or Chaldean. Moreover, the thing which the king demands is difficult, and there is no one else who could declare it to the king except gods, whose dwelling place is not with mortal flesh.” (NASB) Dan. 2:7-11

But Nebuchadnezzar did not trust them. He explained that if they could reveal his dream then he would believe they could interpret his dream. The Chaldeans tried to escape. In the past they had pretended to be something they were not. Now they were trapped and Nebuchadnezzar responded in anger and ordered them to be killed.

Because of this the king became indignant and very furious, and gave orders to destroy all the wise men of Babylon. So the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they looked for Daniel and his friends to kill them. (NASB) Dan. 2:12-13

He was not only disappointed with them – he had lost faith in his wise men. So why keep them?

Compassionate Prophet

Apparently, Daniel and his friends were not allowed to come before the king, since this was their first year in the king’s personal service (Dan. 1:19). This would have been their internship year. When Daniel the prophet learned what had happened and of the order to kill the wise men which included himself and his friends, he had compassion not just for the lives of his friends but for the unbelieving wise men too! Daniel felt compassion for men who were involved in the occult and pagan worship. What a lesson for us! God calls us to love even those who disagree with us religiously. Daniel did! Daniel responded by asking to speak to the king.

Then Daniel replied with discretion and discernment to Arioch, the captain of the king’s bodyguard, who had gone forth to slay the wise men of Babylon; he answered and said to Arioch, the king’s commander, “For what reason is the decree from the king so urgent?” Then Arioch informed Daniel about the matter. So Daniel went in and requested of the king that he would give him time, in order that he might declare the interpretation to the king. (NASB) Dan. 2:14-16

The Lord granted Daniel favor with the king and he was given time to discover the dream and to interpret it. So Daniel left and returned to his friends and they asked God for help.

Then Daniel went to his house and informed his friends, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, about the matter, in order that they might request compassion from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his friends might not be destroyed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven; Daniel answered and said, “Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, For wisdom and power belong to Him. And it is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men, And knowledge to men of understanding. It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, And the light dwells with Him. To Thee, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, For Thou hast given me wisdom and power; Even now Thou hast made known to me what we requested of Thee, For Thou hast made known to us the king’s matter.” (NASB) Dan. 2:17-23

God was merciful and revealed the dream and its interpretation to Daniel. How did Daniel respond? Daniel understood that he did not do it. He understood that God did not need to reveal the dream nor its interpretation. Daniel was thankful! It is great lesson for us. How often do we take pride in what God has done through us? Daniel did not! He gave the credit to God in his prayer.

I Am Important

Daniel was now ready to go to the king, but he must go through Arioch.

Therefore, Daniel went in to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to destroy the wise men of Babylon; he went and spoke to him as follows: “Do not destroy the wise men of Babylon! Take me into the king’s presence, and I will declare the interpretation to the king.” Then Arioch hurriedly brought Daniel into the king’s presence and spoke to him as follows: “I have found a man among the exiles from Judah who can make the interpretation known to the king!” (NASB) Dan. 2:24-25

Arioch was not like Daniel. He told the king that he – Arioch – had discovered someone who could reveal the dream. Arioch must not have been present when Nebuchadnezzar met with Daniel the first time. Arioch wanted the king to believe that he, Arioch, was needed and valuable. Arioch wanted the king’s favor so he took credit for something he did not do. He disgraced himself. Has that ever happened to you – someone takes credit for something you did? How did it make you feel? Most of us would become angry. We would say it is not fair. But God calls us to not seek credit.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time . . . (NASB) 1 Peter 5:6

It is a great reminder that we need to give credit to others and not seek it for ourselves, even when we think we deserve it. This is called self-sacrifice.

Daniel’s response was wonderful. He started by reminding the king of his request and the failure of his wise men.

The king answered and said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, “Are you able to make known to me the dream which I have seen and its interpretation?” Daniel answered before the king and said, “As for the mystery about which the king has inquired, neither wise men, conjurers, magicians, nor diviners are able to declare it to the king.” (NASB) Dan. 2:26-27

But Daniel did not do this to gain favor with the king. He was preparing the king to meet the one true God.

However, there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will take place in the latter days. This was your dream and the visions in your mind while on your bed. As for you, O king, while on your bed your thoughts turned to what would take place in the future; and He who reveals mysteries has made known to you what will take place. But as for me, this mystery has not been revealed to me for any wisdom residing in me more than in any other living man, but for the purpose of making the interpretation known to the king, and that you may understand the thoughts of your mind. Dan. 2:28-30

St Augustines Poem

Conclusion

To whom did Daniel give credit? Before Daniel shared the dream, he gave all the credit away. Daniel did not want to take credit for something someone else – God – had done through him. What a contrast! Arioch wanted credit in order to gain favor, and Daniel gave it all away to God.

When you teach, preach, serve, lead, or minister in the church in different ways, what motivates you? Do you want to draw others to yourself or to God? In the gospel of John, Jesus describes Himself as the Good Shepherd and then describes a thief or a robber when He says,

He who is a hireling, and not a shepherd . . . leaves the sheep, and flees, and the wolf snatches them, and scatters them. He flees because he is . . . not concerned about the sheep. (NASB) John 10:12-13

The thief or robber comes to get for himself or herself and does not care for the people in the church. They only care for themselves. That is why they run. Jesus is trying to make the point that He cares for us. He has described good shepherds and those who are not. When you minister, do you seek to draw credit away from God and to yourself? Are you a thief or a robber? Do you steal the credit that belongs to God and seek to draw others to yourself and not to God? If so, you are a robber! God does not want men and women who are in the ministry for themselves – robbers. He wants those who will sacrifice themselves for Him. Men and women who will deny themselves and draw others to Him. He wants Daniels!

 

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