Learning from the "Old" and growing with the "New"

The other day I watched an old black-and-white movie called "The Hatchet Man" with Edgar G. Robinson and Loretta Young.  To my surprise, it was entertaining in an antique sort of way.  So, today, when I sat down to select a topic for today's post, I was drawn to this 50's Sci-fi classic.  Its funny how many things we see today are based on previous events or ideas.  This is readily apparent as we see movies be remade again and like Mutiny on the Bounty.  I can think of at least three iterations of that classic!!!  But, thinking of the past can be a good thing, as this passage from the book of Romans will illustrate...

Romans, Chapter 15
 1 Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of the weak, and not to please ourselves.  2 Let each one of us please his neighbor for that which is good, to be building him up.  3 For even Christ didn’t please himself. But, as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.”  4 For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that through patience and through encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.  5 Now the God of patience and of encouragement grant you to be of the same mind one with another according to Christ Jesus,  6 that with one accord you may with one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The strong are to be understanding and the weak are to learn; concepts that are as true today as throughout all history.  The very best example of this is Jesus; he put up with a lot for those who would never fully understand, nor could they.  Likewise, all of the Old Testament, with its strange customs and very fallible people can teach us a lot.  A lot about our tendency to sin and the consequences of our transgressions.  So, learn and grow and as you do, your old self will someday become so foreign as to seem like a 1930's black and white movie.  But who knows- even that might be useful to someone- someday!!!  Oh, yes-- be sure to play the video, I enjoyed it a lot and I hope you will as well!!!


Spending Time with Jim McGuiggan


Tomorrow is Sunday. The day of resurrection. The Lord’s Day! The called by the Gospel will gather again to announce or proclaim the death of the Lord Jesus.
The fact of it! But not merely the fact of it! As much as they can grasp of it they will proclaim while confessing that they can’t get to the bottom of it.
It is the crowning event of the greatest Story ever told or tellable. It doesn’t stand alone as a bizarre event. It is inextricably connected with the birth, life, resurrection, glorification and coming of the Lord Jesus. To attempt to sever it from any of this is to mutilate it. Paul, who said he had purposed before going to Corinth that he would preach nothing but the cross of the Lord Jesus never ceased to preach the resurrection and glorification of the Lord.
To speak of the glorification of Jesus Christ without the cross is to deny the entire OT drift as well as specific texts [compare Luke 24:25-27; 44-47]. To speak of the suffering of Christ without his resurrection and exaltation is to do the same and to ignore the fulfilment of God’s eternal creation and redemptive purpose.
To engage in holy communion as we participate in the body of Christ [1 Corinthians 10:16-21] is to do more than speak of Jesus’ sacrificial suffering. The Supper speaks of his all-out war against the gods and against all that is in us of an idolatrous spirit. As we eat the Supper stands in judgment on all that is in us of selfishness, bitterness and abuse of one another [1 Corinthians 11:20-34].
To engage in the Lord’s Supper and reduce it by ceaseless talk of our own forgiveness is to ignore and diminish vast layers of truth simply by silence on them. The Supper speaks of the person and work of the Lord Jesus and of his Holy Father glorifying his Holy Son on his way to exalting him [John 12:23-33].
Until the death of the Lord Jesus is given its place within the context of cosmic truth and as God’s faithfulness to his creation purpose we will hear nothing from we the rank and file but “Thank you for being so kind as to forgive our sins.”
Should we not be constantly aware of his generous forgiveness of our sins? Absolutely! Is that all we should be aware of? Absolutely not! Should the incarnation, life, death, resurrection, glorification and return of the Lord surprise us? The answer to that is [as in the entire message] in Isaiah 49:14-16!
Grateful? Yes, and profoundly! But we’re a bit far down the road now to speak as if God hadn’t demonstrated his relentless and unswerving love for the human family. What if all your children ever said to you when they came into your presence: “Thank you for providing for us”?
It’s time those who teach us the meaning of the Supper which proclaims the person and work of God as he has come to us in and as Jesus Christ got on with it. Topic after topic after topic after topic. No expounding the meaning of the “Christ-event”!
No wonder our public [and I suppose, private] prayers are so shallow and repetitive. Our people don’t know what else to say! I lay that at the feet of our preachers and teachers and the schools that shape our teachers and preachers.
Where is the sustained expounding of the cross of the Lord Jesus that would turn our corporate worship into something to hunger for? That would lead our worship leaders to choose relevant and rich texts, hymns that are rich in thought of GOD and his Blessed Son and preaching that supports all that instead of nice little homilies on nice little topics?
Tomorrow we get the chance to admire and worship the “lifted up” Savior who has been lifted up not only on the cross but now lifted up far above all principality, power, might and dominion and every name that is named, not only in this world but in the world to come. This is the One who will call us to share in the meaning of the body and blood.
Maybe some minister of the Word will help his sisters and brothers to become wide-eyed at the privilege and vastness of what we do and leave astonished [at least for a while] at what has happened in that hour.

Bible Reading, Jan. 12

Jan. 12
Genesis 12

Gen 12:1 Now Yahweh said to Abram, "Get out of your country, and from your relatives, and from your father's house, to the land that I will show you.
Gen 12:2 I will make of you a great nation. I will bless you and make your name great. You will be a blessing.
Gen 12:3 I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you. In you will all of the families of the earth be blessed."
Gen 12:4 So Abram went, as Yahweh had spoken to him. Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed out of Haran.
Gen 12:5 Abram took Sarai his wife, Lot his brother's son, all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls whom they had gotten in Haran, and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan. Into the land of Canaan they came.
Gen 12:6 Abram passed through the land to the place of Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. The Canaanite was then in the land.
Gen 12:7 Yahweh appeared to Abram and said, "I will give this land to your seed." He built an altar there to Yahweh, who appeared to him.
Gen 12:8 He left from there to the mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to Yahweh and called on the name of Yahweh.
Gen 12:9 Abram traveled, going on still toward the South.
Gen 12:10 There was a famine in the land. Abram went down into Egypt to live as a foreigner there, for the famine was severe in the land.
Gen 12:11 It happened, when he had come near to enter Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, "See now, I know that you are a beautiful woman to look at.
Gen 12:12 It will happen, when the Egyptians will see you, that they will say, 'This is his wife.' They will kill me, but they will save you alive.
Gen 12:13 Please say that you are my sister, that it may be well with me for your sake, and that my soul may live because of you."
Gen 12:14 It happened that when Abram had come into Egypt, the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful.
Gen 12:15 The princes of Pharaoh saw her, and praised her to Pharaoh; and the woman was taken into Pharaoh's house.
Gen 12:16 He dealt well with Abram for her sake. He had sheep, cattle, male donkeys, male servants, female servants, female donkeys, and camels.
Gen 12:17 Yahweh plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram's wife.
Gen 12:18 Pharaoh called Abram and said, "What is this that you have done to me? Why didn't you tell me that she was your wife?
Gen 12:19 Why did you say, 'She is my sister,' so that I took her to be my wife? Now therefore, see your wife, take her, and go your way."
Gen 12:20 Pharaoh commanded men concerning him, and they brought him on the way with his wife and all that he had.

Daniel, The Hand Writing On The Wall, Mark Copeland

                          "THE BOOK OF DANIEL"

                 The Hand Writing On The Wall (5:1-31)


1. So far in our study of the book of Daniel, we have seen...
   a. The faith of young Daniel, who made the commitment not to defile
      himself - Dan 1
   b. The first dream of Nebuchadnezzar, interpreted by Daniel - Dan 2
      1) Prophesying the rise and fall of four world empires
      2) Foretelling the establishment of the kingdom of Christ
   c. The faith of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego in the face of fire
      - Dan 3
   d. The second dream of Nebuchadnezzar and it is fulfillment, 
      confirming that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men - Dan 4

2. We now come to the Dan 5, where we find an incident familiar to
   a. The event is often called:  "The Hand Writing On The Wall"
   b. As with any Old Testament account, it was written for our
      admonition - cf. 1Co 10:11

[As we begin with the text, we first read of...]


      1. The time is now about 539 B.C.
         a. Nebuchadnezzar had died in 562 B.C.
         b. He was succeeded by his son, Evil-Merodach - cf. 2Ki 25:27
            1) After two years he was assassinated by Nergilissar, his
            2) Who in turn died four years later (556 B.C.), leaving
               the throne to his infant son, Labashi-Marduk
            3) Labashi-Marduk was soon deposed by a priestly revolution
         c. Nabonidus, a former priest under Nebuchadnezzar, was made
            king in 556 B.C.
            1) Who was more interested in scholarly and religious 
            2) So he appointed his son Belshazzar as ruler of Babylon
               in his place
         d. Belshazzar therefore became co-regent in 550 B.C.
            1) He was "second" in command
            2) Which explains why he offered Daniel only the "third"
               position in the kingdom - cf. Dan 5:16,29
            3) Nebuchadnezzar is called his "father" - Dan 5:2,11,13,
               a) Nabodonius (Belshazzar's father) may have been
                  Nebuchadnezzar's son-in-law, and it was common to
                  refer to one's ancestor as "father"
               b) Or "father" may be used figuratively
      2. Belshazzar throws a big feast - Dan 5:1-3
         a. Nebuchadnezzar had taken gold and silver vessels from the
            temple in Jerusalem - cf. 2Ch 36:10
         b. Belshazzar adds insult to injury by using them in the feast

      1. The king and guests foolishly praised the creation rather than
         the Creator
      2. Would we ever stoop so low?  
         a. Worship the gods of silver and gold?   
         b. Become guilty of idolatry?
      3. We do if we succumb to the sin of covetousness! - Ep 5:5; Co
         a. When we make mammon (material riches) our god - cf. Mt 6:24
         b. When we make created things the prime focus of our time and

[As we continue in Dan 5, notice how quickly things change as we read


      1. The fingers of a man's hands appear - Dan 5:5a
      2. They write on the plaster of the wall of the king's palace 
         - Dan 5:5b
      3. Belshazzar sees the part of the hand that wrote - Dan 5:5c

      1. In the case of King Belshazzar...
         a. One moment his heart is puffed up with pride
         b. The next moment, his knees are knocking together - Dan 5:6
         -- A vivid illustration of:  "Pride goes before destruction,
            And a haughty spirit before a fall." - Pr 16:18
      3. All he saw was a man's hand...
         a. What if he had seen the face of God?
         b. If just a tiny manifestation of God's power had that
            effect, then what would be the effect of coming face to
            face with God?
      4. What about the coming Judgment?   Will we be able to stand?
         a. Not if we are wicked - cf. Ps 1:5
         b. But we can if we have pure hearts and holy hands - cf. Psa 24:3-5

      1. Once again, a king appeals first to those unable to help - Dan 5:7-9
      2. Just as Nebuchadnezzar did in Dan 2,4
      3. People often do the same thing today in times of crisis
         a. They go to the wrong place for help
            1) Looking to their own strength or wisdom
            2) Or that of other people
         b. When they need to trust in God first - cf. Pr 3:5-10; Mt 6:33

[As we continue with the Biblical account, we read of...]


      1. The queen was likely the "queen mother", for the wives were
         already present - Dan 5:10-12; cf. 5:2
      2. Note that the queen was not present at the banquet...
         a. Could the one who knew where to turn in time of trouble,
            have also known the banquet was no place for her to be?
         b. Those who like to party and "live it up" are usually those
            who are lost in despair when trouble strikes!

      1. Twice the king says "I have heard of you" - Dan 5:13-16
         a. It sounds as though the king knew him only by reputation
         b. He evidently had not made much effort to know Daniel prior
            to this event
      2. People in the world are not much different
         a. They make little effort to get to know the people of God
         b. But in times of sickness, trials, and death, where do they
            turn?  To the church, of course
         -- The time to get to know God's people is before, not after!

[Next comes...]


      1. At this point the character of Daniel really shines - Dan 5:17
      2. Unlike many, who teach only if given gifts (or "love
      3. Daniel willingly tells the truth for free

      1. The lesson from Nebuchadnezzar's second dream is recounted 
         - Dan 5:18-21
      2. We would do well to learn from history
         a. Those who ignore history, are doomed to repeat it
         b. This is especially true with inspired history!

      1. Belshazzar did not learn from his father's experience - Dan 5:
         a. He exalted himself, when he should have glorified God
         b. This handwriting on the wall was sent
      2. When will people learn from history?
         a. Should we not learn from the pride of Pharaoh in the book
            of Exodus?
         b. Should we not learn from the murmuring of the Israelites in
            the wilderness?
         -- Indeed, inspired history was written for our learning! - Ro 15:4; 1Co 10:11

[Belshazzar failed to benefit from his knowledge of God's dealings with
mankind, and so upon him was to come...]


      1. The meaning of:  "Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin" - Dan 5:25-28
         a. Mene - God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it
         b. Tekel - You have been weighed in the balances, and found
         c. Peres (Upharsin) - Your kingdom has been divided, and given
            to the Medes and Persians.
      2. From the Believer's Study Bible:
         a. The term mene (Aram.) could be the monetary "mina," or a
            participle meaning "numbered." Its repetition produces the
            sense "thoroughly numbered." God had set limits on 
            Belshazzar's kingdom.
         b. The term tekel (Aram.) could be a monetary unit 
            corresponding to the Hebrew shekel, or a participle meaning
         c. The final word upharsin (Aram.) could also be a monetary
            unit, a half-mina or half-shekel, or a plural participle
            from the verb paras, "divide," meaning "and divided."
         d. The message of Daniel's interpretation is that Belshazzar's
            kingdom had been numbered for destruction. The king himself
            is weighed and found wanting. The kingdom was to be taken
            away and given to the Medes and the Persians.

      1. Belshazzar is true to his promise - Dan 5:29
      2. But as we will soon see, what he gave Daniel was a "third of

      1. How quickly the proud and boastful can fall, despite power and
         wealth - Dan 5:30-31
         a. Herodotus indicates that Babylon fell as a consequence of
            the diverting of the waters of the Euphrates, allowing the
            enemy to enter under the city walls
         b. Other sources explain it as the result of treason and
            subterfuge from within, resulting in the opening of the
            gates to the conquering armies
      2. This is reminiscent of Jesus' story of the rich fool - Lk 12:
         a. Boasting one day
         b. Dead the next


1. The announcement of doom in this story was provoked in part 
   a. The king misused and abused some pieces of metal
   b. These pieces of metal were God's pieces of metal
   -- For such disregard of what belonged to God, a kingdom would be

2. Remember that we are the temple of God today - 1Co 3:16-17
   a. If God did not view lightly the misuse of His vessels then...
   b. Will He be casual about the impenitent abuse of His church today?
   -- Just as He destroyed the one who defiled His temple of old, so He
      will destroy those who defile His temple (the church) today!

Let's not wait for "The Hand Writing On The Wall" to tell us it is too
late, that judgment has been passed and the sentence is final.

Let's instead heed "The Hand That Wrote On The Ground" (i.e., Jesus,
Jn 8:6,8), while there is still time for mercy and forgiveness...

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011