10/23/14

From Gary.... As plain as black and white


With a last name like Rose, of course I am interested in flowers.  And this picture aroused my interest this afternoon.  Why? Well, the sheer absence of colors other than black and white, of course.  It somehow defines the picture in a way that one having many variations of colors could never do.  And life can be like this flower; that is, having sharp delineations of truth to it.  When this is the case, then doubt is removed and exactly how to live one's life becomes clear. Consider the following...

Philippians, Chapter 4
 8  Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honorable, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise, think about these things.

1 Timothy, Chapter 2
1 I exhort therefore, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and givings of thanks, be made for all men:  2 for kings and all who are in high places; that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and reverence.  3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior;  4 who desires all people to be saved and come to full knowledge of the truth.  5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,  6 who gave himself as a ransom for all; the testimony in its own times;

If truth is to be found, it lies with God in absolute perfection.  Our thoughts are subject to change and therefore in doubt... but God is a different matter. His purity, His knowledge and in fact everything that characterizes HIM as GOD is perfect!!!  So, Paul puts in plainly- think about God's word, ruminate, consider, dwell, and understand everything that you possibly can.  And you will come to a "full knowledge of the truth". As plain as black and white; God's truth- and that is magnificent!!!!

From Gary... Bible Reading October 23



Bible Reading  

October 23

The World English Bible


Oct. 23
Ecclesiastes 11, 12

Ecc 11:1 Cast your bread on the waters; for you shall find it after many days.
Ecc 11:2 Give a portion to seven, yes, even to eight; for you don't know what evil will be on the earth.
Ecc 11:3 If the clouds are full of rain, they empty themselves on the earth; and if a tree falls toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falls, there shall it be.
Ecc 11:4 He who observes the wind won't sow; and he who regards the clouds won't reap.
Ecc 11:5 As you don't know what is the way of the wind, nor how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child; even so you don't know the work of God who does all.
Ecc 11:6 In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening don't withhold your hand; for you don't know which will prosper, whether this or that, or whether they both will be equally good.
Ecc 11:7 Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to see the sun.
Ecc 11:8 Yes, if a man lives many years, let him rejoice in them all; but let him remember the days of darkness, for they shall be many. All that comes is vanity.
Ecc 11:9 Rejoice, young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth, and walk in the ways of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes; but know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.
Ecc 11:10 Therefore remove sorrow from your heart, and put away evil from your flesh; for youth and the dawn of life are vanity.
Ecc 12:1 Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come, and the years draw near, when you will say, "I have no pleasure in them;"
Ecc 12:2 Before the sun, the light, the moon, and the stars are darkened, and the clouds return after the rain;
Ecc 12:3 in the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those who look out of the windows are darkened,
Ecc 12:4 and the doors shall be shut in the street; when the sound of the grinding is low, and one shall rise up at the voice of a bird, and all the daughters of music shall be brought low;
Ecc 12:5 yes, they shall be afraid of heights, and terrors will be in the way; and the almond tree shall blossom, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail; because man goes to his everlasting home, and the mourners go about the streets:
Ecc 12:6 before the silver cord is severed, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is broken at the spring, or the wheel broken at the cistern,
Ecc 12:7 and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
Ecc 12:8 Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher. All is vanity!
Ecc 12:9 Further, because the Preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge. Yes, he pondered, sought out, and set in order many proverbs.
Ecc 12:10 The Preacher sought to find out acceptable words, and that which was written blamelessly, words of truth.
Ecc 12:11 The words of the wise are like goads; and like nails well fastened are words from the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd.
Ecc 12:12 Furthermore, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.
Ecc 12:13 This is the end of the matter. All has been heard. Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man.
Ecc 12:14 For God will bring every work into judgment, with every hidden thing, whether it is good, or whether it is evil.

Oct. 24
1 Thessalonians 1

1Th 1:1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, to the assembly of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
1Th 1:2 We always give thanks to God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers,
1Th 1:3 remembering without ceasing your work of faith and labor of love and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father.
1Th 1:4 We know, brothers loved by God, that you are chosen,
1Th 1:5 and that our Good News came to you not in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and with much assurance. You know what kind of men we showed ourselves to be among you for your sake.
1Th 1:6 You became imitators of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit,
1Th 1:7 so that you became an example to all who believe in Macedonia and in Achaia.
1Th 1:8 For from you the word of the Lord has been declared, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone out; so that we need not to say anything.
1Th 1:9 For they themselves report concerning us what kind of a reception we had from you; and how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God,
1Th 1:10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead--Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come.

From Jim McGuiggan.... Toy castles and Naked prophets


Toy castles and Naked prophets



 The Hebrew writer's insight

Bearing in mind what the Hebrew writer said, that God spoke in various ways through the prophets (1:1) it makes no sense to homogenise their methods. I don't hear it said anymore though I'm sure someone somewhere is still saying it: "Prophecy is simply pre-written history." This was never true.

What we should expect

We should expect there to be some constants in the teaching of the prophets. Constants such as: whatever changes we should hear that God doesn't change and that he remains faithful to his commitments. Or: whatever he changes he will not withdraw his call for holiness and righteousness. Or: when God is done all wrongs will be righted because his overarching purposes cannot be thwarted. These kinds of truths we should expect (and get) in the prophets but in the course of working with such truths they will receive and proclaim their message is varied ways.

Some of the various ways

Ezekiel will build model forts and attack them from behind an iron baking-griddle or dig a hole in the wall of his house and go in and out blindfolded. Isaiah will walk about virtually naked (or completely so) for an extended period of time and Jeremiah will perform "skits" with wooden ox-yokes. God's prophet sometimes acts the part of someone under God's judgement; as Isaiah did in Isaiah 20 when he represented the captive people of Egypt, led away by Assyria. Zechariah will represent the collection of wicked shepherds who are to feel God's chastisement (Zechariah 11:15-17).

We need to notice that prophets don't always speak of judgement or blessing and vindication in simple prose; their speech as well as their behaviour is sometimes startling. They will speak of the earth staggering like a drunken man trying to find his way home or they'll speak of an entire country becoming a lake of fire that never stops burning or they'll say that that same land at the same time will be a wilderness where wild animals live, raising their families.
How many ways can a prophet say that the enemies of God and his people are to be overcome? I'm not sure, but I know at least two. One is to speak of God crushing them and the other is by saying that they become worshipers of the true God. That is less fantastic but just as startling; nevertheless Isaiah 19:24-25; 66:18-23 and Zechariah 9:6-7; 14:16-21 speak that way.

Literal or figurative, that's the question

How can we tell when some of what the prophets said is to be literally fulfilled and some of it is not? Well, it isn't always easy but some of it can't be literally fulfilled or human existence would cease altogether and some of it we know was literally fulfilled because we're told it was (Isaiah 7:14, for example). That's the easy part. It's the mass of other material that isn't interpreted for us that requires patient and prayerful work on our part. Certainly, one of the things we must do is to work with texts in light of God's overarching purpose for humanity and his creation. This won't provide all the answers we seek but it will offer us some solid parameters within which to work with prophecy. But this means we would have to have a clear understanding of "God's overarching purpose for humanity and his creation" which we will use as a guide in our interpreting the prophets. These two areas of reflection will shape each other. Our view of God's ultimate purpose and how he has developed salvation history will affect how we understand the prophets and how we understand the prophets will help to shape our view of God's ultimate purpose and his development of salvation history.

Interpreting in light of the big picture

If we believe that the book of Hebrews teaches that the Sinai covenant is gone—permanently—swallowed up in the person and work of Jesus, how will that affect our understanding of Ezekiel's rebuilding of the temple, the restoration of animals sacrifices for atonement, circumcision as essential to fellowship, a Levitical priesthood and all that is involved in such a restoration? Click We could say, and I think we should say, that Ezekiel is describing Israel's glorious future in terms that were current and meaningful to Israel. I would say that the measurements given in Ezekiel could not be literally followed and in addition to that, a literal restoration of Ezekiel 34—48 would conflict with the NT teaching. Whether that's true or false it would lead me to decide for or against a literal understanding of Ezekiel 34—48.

If we believe—as I do—that God's purpose in Jesus is to redeem the creation itself, along with humans, then we'd understand the texts that speak of the removal of the curse from the earth as foretelling something that is actually going to happen. Click I'm making the point that our understanding of prophecy is and should be affected by our grasp of the big picture but I don't mean to suggest that we'll always get the details right.

When there are no clear historical clues

It's common knowledge that knowing the historical circumstances surrounding a remark helps us to understand the remark. The reverse is also true. Harry goes to his friend's door, he hears a child sobbing and he hears his friend shouting, "If you do that again I'll split your skull with this hatchet!" The door finally opens, Harry's distraught friend shows him the sobbing child and the bad bite mark on his hand where the dog (now cowering in the corner) bit him. He'd been shouting at the dog and not the child.

Often there are no clear historical guidelines. That is, the speaker and his listeners know what's going on but we don't. We search around and try to find a setting which throws some light on what the writer had in mind. This is how we should proceed because it helps us to understand what the writer/speaker meant to say. What we think the writer's purpose is makes all the difference to how we go about interpreting him and applying the truth he tells.

If we think Moses meant to describe literally how God created the world we read Genesis 1 in one way. If we think he wanted to expose the idolatrous faith of Egypt from which Israel just came and the idolatrous faith of Canaanites to where they were now going then we read it in a different way (see Leviticus 18:1-3). Near Eastern religions saw the elements as gods that the supreme deity (say, Marduk, as in the Enuma Elish, the Babylonian creation story) had to overcome. Moses' record in Genesis 1—whatever else it has in view certainly insists that there was one true God and these elements were his creation and not his enemies, they were not gods to be feared or worshiped. [I wish only to make the point that what we take to be a writer's purpose will affect how we understand him and it will affect how we use what he writes.]
Zechariah 1—8 has clear historical settings and because this is so we have guidelines within which to understand the visions there. Zechariah 9—14 is not like that (though the difference between the two blocks of text can certainly be overstated) so it's more difficult to know why the prophet said what he said. [I wish only to make the point that without contextual guidelines our grasp of what the writers is getting at is more difficult and that in turns means we should not be over-anxious to settle for a given understanding of what he has said.]

When a prophet gives us historical notice that he's dealing with a particular nation or time then we're well armed to do a good search (Isaiah 34 or Nahum would illustrate). But often they speak in such general terms that we're left without good reason to think he's speaking of a particular occasion or time. Where that's the case it might be best for us to settle for the prophet's "general truth".

I think we see that in texts like Zech 14 and Isaiah 66. In such cases, the word a prophet gives from God is a word of assurance that judgement/blessing is certain. Those judged are the enemies (whoever they turn out to be) and those blessed are God's servants (whoever they turn out to be). Readers are then left free to see and apply that truth as it relates to their time and place. The reader must, of course, allow the biblical text to shape his use of the text.

Even when there are clear historical clues

Isaiah 29:13 has Isaiah's peers in mind at a critical moment in their history but Jesus in Matthew 15:7-9 says Isaiah speaks of his (Jesus') peers. In doing this Jesus teaches us that there is a continuity in God's dealings with us; his condemnation of the leaders in Isaiah's day is equally true of the leaders in Jesus' day and so the Isaiah text as truly relates to Jesus day as it did in the 8th century BC.

This helps explain some of those texts where a NT writer claims a text is fulfilled in his day or that occurrence when it seems to have a specific historical point in the OT. Let me repeat: the spirit and drift of the OT text must be (and in the NT it is) treated with integrity. It simply isn't good enough to lift a text out of the OT and give it a meaning that is completely out of character.

[All this needs development.]



Pre-Babel Confusion? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=881

Pre-Babel Confusion?

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

I am amazed (and troubled) at how far some will go to appease the vast ages of time associated with evolutionary geology. It seems that the decisive factor for many “Bible believers” in interpreting God’s Word is no longer, “What does the Bible say?,” but rather “What do evolutionary dating methods indicate?” Sadly, for many people the deceptive evolutionary geologic timetable has become the father of modern biblical exegesis. Instead of the Universe and everything in it being created in six days (Genesis 1-2; Exodus 20:11), we are told it actually took billions of years, which can be “found” in “gaps” between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 or between each of the creation days. And even though the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11 match up remarkably with the genealogy recorded in Luke 3, and although Jude confirms through inspiration that Enoch was indeed the seventh from Adam (Jude 14—just as Genesis 5 tells us), we are informed that many thousands (or millions!) of years could be inserted (and should be, according to many religious evolutionary sympathizers) between Adam and Abraham.
As if we had not “heard it all,” some now are teaching that there was a great gap of time between Genesis chapters 10 and 11. Supposedly, since Moses recorded that the descendents of Shem, Ham, and Japheth spoke different languages in Genesis 10 (vss. 5,20,31), and since Genesis 11:1 states that “the whole earth had one language and one speech,” there must have been a gap between Genesis 10:32 and 11:1! It is alleged that enough time must have passed in order for the descendents of Shem, Ham, and Japheth to the begin speaking one language.
If you have ever read Genesis 6-11, you likely have questioned why the order of events seemed to indicate that the Earth’s population went from speaking one language (by the eight persons on the ark), to speaking a variety of languages and dialects (10:5,20,31), to then speaking one language again (11:1). It may be that you have asked the same question that I heard asked recently: “How can there not be a gap between Genesis 10 and 11?”
The reason that no gap of time exists between Genesis 10 and 11 is because the events recorded in these two chapters were not written chronologically. As Victor Hamilton stated in his commentary on Genesis: “We have here the unusual order of effect (ch. 10) before cause (ch. 11), or result preceding explanation” (1990, p. 347).
The simple fact is, Bible writers did not always record information in a strictly chronological sequence. Genesis 2:5-25 does not pick up where chapter one left off, rather it provides more detailed information about some of the events mentioned in chapter one. Several of the events in Genesis 38 involving Judah and Tamar occurred while the things recorded in chapter 39 and following took place. Making the assumption that the entire Bible was written chronologically hinders the trustworthiness of the text. How will one explain the differences in the arrangement of the temptations of Jesus recorded by Matthew (4:1-11) and Luke (4:1-13) if we always must conclude that things are written in sequential order? If Jesus only cleansed the temple once, how does a person explain why John mentioned this event as having occurred early in Jesus’ ministry while the other gospel writers placed it later in His ministry (John 2:12-17; cf. Matthew 21:12-17)? Obviously, the gospel accounts were not arranged to be a strict chronology of Jesus’ life. Similarly, Moses jumps ahead of himself at times, inserting parenthetical material like that found in Genesis 10.
Aside from the languages mentioned in Genesis 10, there is another “clue” in the text that reveals the events recorded in chapter 11 occurred before the descendents of Noah began speaking different languages and spreading throughout the Earth. In 10:25, it mentions a man named Peleg (meaning “division”) who received such a name because “in his days the earth was divided.” This is a clear reference to the confusion of languages at the tower of Babel described in chapter 11. The “earth” (i.e., people; cf. 11:1) divided when God confused the languages (11:7-8). Thus, the division in Peleg’s day is linked contextually to the linguistic segregation at Babel (Genesis 11:1-9).
When Genesis 10 and 11 are read with the understanding that not all events are recorded chronologically, one clearly sees how the events revealed in these chapters are entwined tightly with one another—so tighly in fact that those who seek to place a gap of time between them are doomed to fail. Linguistically speaking there was no pre-Babel confusion!

REFERENCES

Hamilton, Victor P. (1990), The Book of Genesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).

From Mark Copeland... The Most High Rules In Kingdom Of Men (Daniel 4:1-37)

                          "THE BOOK OF DANIEL"

             The Most High Rules In Kingdom Of Men (4:1-37)

INTRODUCTION

1. In Dan 2, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had a dream...
   a. Involving a large image with head of gold, chest and arms of
      silver, belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron with feet of
      iron mixed with clay - Dan 2:36-43
      1) Representing four world empires
      2) I.e., Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome
   b. In which the image was destroyed by a small stone made without
      hands - Dan 2:44-45
      1) Representing the establishment of a kingdom by the God of
         heaven
      2) A kingdom that would never be destroyed, and would consume the
         other kingdoms
   -- Prompting the king to praise the God of Daniel - Dan 2:47

2. In Dan 3, Nebuchadnezzar made a large image of gold...
   a. He required all to worship it, under threat of death - Dan 3:4-6
   b. Three young men did not, yet survived the fiery furnace - Dan 3:
      23-27
   -- Prompting the king to bless the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and
      Abed-Nego - Dan 3:28-29

3. From Dan 4, it appears that Nebuchadnezzar had more to learn about
   God...
   a. He knew that God was Lord of kings and a revealer of secrets 
      - Dan 2:47
   b. He knew that God can deliver His servants - Dan 3:28-29
   -- But now it was time for him to learn that God, the Most High and
      King of heaven, rules in the kingdoms of men, including his own!

[It was through a second dream and succeeding events that led
Nebuchadnezzar to this conclusion.  In his own words, the king of 
Babylon relates how it happened...]

I. THE DREAM, INTERPRETATION, AND FULFILLMENT

   A. NEBUCHADNEZZAR'S FOREWORD...
      1. Addressed to all who dwell on the earth - Dan 4:1
      2. To declare the signs and wonders of the Most High God - Dan 4:
         2-3a
      3. Proclaiming God's kingdom to be everlasting, His dominion from
         generation to generation - Dan 4:3b

   B. NEBUCHADNEZZAR'S DREAM...
      1. A dream which troubled him and made him afraid - Dan 4:4-5
      2. His dissatisfaction with the wise men of Babylon - Dan 4:6-7
      3. The dream is told to Daniel...
         a. The king's confidence in Daniel - Dan 4:8-9
         b. Elements of the dream - Dan 4:10-17
            1) A tree in the middle of the earth, its height reaching
               to the heavens
            2) The decree of a holy one, a "watcher", concerning the
               tree
               a) To be cut down, leaving only the stump and roots
               b) Bound with a band of iron and bronze
               c) Wet with the dew of heaven
               d) To graze with the beasts of the earth
               e) His heart changed from that of a man to an animal
               f) And let seven times (years?) pass over him
            3) The purpose of the decree is for the living to know:
               a) The Most High rules in the kingdom of men
               b) Who gives it to whomever He will, and sets over it
                  the lowest of men
         c. The king repeats his confidence in Daniel to interpret the
            dream - Dan 4:18

   C. DANIEL'S INTERPRETATION...
      1. Daniel is astonished and troubled by the dream - Dan 4:19
         a. Yet the king reassures Daniel to tell the interpretation
         b. Daniel wished the dream pertained to the king's enemies
      2. Elements of Daniel's interpretation - Dan 4:20-26
         a. The tree which became strong and tall represents
            Nebuchadnezzar
         b. The king shall be driven from men, dwell among beasts and
            eat grass like oxen
            1) Seven times (years?) will pass over him
            2) Till he knew that the Most High rules in the kingdom of
               men, giving it to whomever He chooses
         c. The kingdom shall be returned to Nebuchadnezzar
            1) Indicated by the command to leave the stump and roots of
               the tree
            2) Once he comes to know that Heaven rules
      3. Daniel's counsel for the king to be righteous and show mercy
         - Dan 4:27

   D. THE DREAM'S FULFILLMENT...
      1. It came to pass at the end of twelve months - Dan 4:28-29
      2. As the king was boasting about his power and majesty - Dan 4:
         30-32
      3. That very hour he was driven from men - Dan 4:33
         a. He ate grass like oxen
         b. His body was wet with the dew of heaven
         c. His hair grew like eagle's feathers, his nails like birds'
            claws
      4. And the end of the time, understanding returned to the king 
         - Dan 4:34-35
         a. Prompting him to bless and praise the Most High, who lives
            forever
         b. Acknowledging His everlasting dominion and kingdom
         c. Who does according to His will in the army of heaven and
            among inhabitants of the earth, and none can restrain or
            say "What have You done?"
      5. Nebuchadnezzar restored - Dan 4:36-37
         a. His reason, honor, and splendor returned, his counselor and
            nobles resorted to him
         b. But now he praises and honors the King of heaven for His
            truth and justice, Who is able to humble those who walk in
            pride

   E. THE MAIN POINT OF THE DREAM AND ITS FULFILLMENT...
      1. Stated several times in this chapter
         a. In the dream itself - Dan 4:17
         b. By Daniel, in providing the interpretation - Dan 4:25-26
         c. As spoken from Heaven when the dream came to pass - Dan 4:
            32
         d. By Nebuchadnezzar when he returned to his senses - Dan 4:
            34-35
      2. To learn that "The Most High Rules In The Kingdom Of Men"
         a. Which Daniel acknowledged from Nebuchadnezzar's first dream
            - Dan 2:20-21
         b. And now does the king, from his second dream!

[The main point is simple enough, but do we acknowledge that it is
still true?  Do we appreciate that the Most High still rules in the
kingdom of men, only now through His Son?  Lest we forget, let's review
what the New Testament teaches about...]

II. THE RULE OF GOD IN THE KINGDOMS OF MEN

   A. CHRIST NOW REIGNS AS SOVEREIGN...
      1. As claimed before His ascension to heaven - Mt 28:18
      2. As proclaimed after His ascension - Re 2:26-27; 3:21
      3. As taught by His apostles - Ep 1:20-22; 1Co 15:24-28; 1 Pe 3:22
   
   [So He has the authority, but does He exercise it? Consider the next
   point...]

   B. CHRIST NOW REIGNS IN THE KINGDOM OF MEN...
      1. As foretold by the prophets
         a. In Psalms 2, which speaks of:
            1) The attempt of the nations to reject Christ - Ps 2:1-3
            2) The coronation of Christ despite their efforts - Ps 2:
               4-6
            3) The exercise of Christ's rule over the nations - Ps 2:
               7-9
            4) The importance of kings and judges serving the Lord 
               - Ps 2:10-12
            -- Ac 4:23-28 confirms that this passage refers to Jesus!
         b. In Psalms 110, which tells of:
            1) The rule of Christ in the midst of His enemies - Psa 110:1-2
            2) The voluntary service of His people (the church), and
               the priestly service of their King - Ps 110:3-4
            3) The exercise of judgment among the nations - Ps 110:5-7
            -- Ac 2:32-36 confirms that this passage refers to Jesus!
      2. As taught by the apostles
         a. Governing authorities exist as appointed by God, to serve
            as ministers of God - Ro 13:1-4
         b. Why pray for kings and those in authority, that peace may
            prevail, unless God through Christ can do something about
            it? - cf. 1Ti 2:1-2
         c. Jesus is the "ruler over the kings of the earth" - Re 1:5
            1) He exercised that rule in the destruction of Jerusalem,
               foretold in Mt 24
            2) He exercised that rule in destroying the beast of
               Revelation (the Roman empire) and all his forces - cf.
               Re 17:14
            -- Truly Jesus is "King of kings, and Lord of lords"! - cf.
               Rev 19:16; 1Ti 6:15
      3. We may not always be able to see how it is so
         a. If Christ rules in the kingdom of men, why do evil men and
            evil empires exist?
         b. This was a problem that perplexed Habakkuk...
            1) Who bewailed the wickedness in Israel - Hab 1:2-4
            2) Who was amazed that God would punish Israel by a nation
               more evil than it - Hab 1:12-13
            3) Who placed his trust in God, no matter the circumstances
               - Hab 3:17-19
         c. It helps to understand the nature of Christ's rule
            1) He rules "in the midst of His enemies" - Ps 110:2
            2) He must reign "till He has put all enemies under His
               feet" - 1Co 15:25-26
            -- Until He comes again, Jesus exercises His authority over
               the nations in ways we may not always comprehend

CONCLUSION

1. To know that "the Most High rules" must have been comforting to
   Daniel...
   a. For at that time he and the nation of Israel were in captivity
   b. Their temple was destroyed, the land plundered and filled with
      transplanted foreigners
   c. Yet Daniel knew the prophecy of Jeremiah, that after seventy
      years they would return - cf. Dan 9:1-2
   -- Knowing that God rules, even when wicked men seem to prevail,
      gave him hope

2. We can take comfort in knowing that "the Most High rules" today...
   a. That He who rules in the kingdom of men is Jesus!
   b. Who is our Savior, Priest, and Friend!
   -- Therefore we can look forward to the future with hope, not 
      apprehension

3. But this is true only if we give Jesus sovereign rule in our
   personal lives...
   a. He must be "our" Lord, the King of "our" lives!
   b. We must be "volunteers" in the day of His power - cf. Ps 110:3

Have we submitted in obedience to Him who is both Lord and Christ (cf.
Ac 2:36-38)?  Remember the admonition of the Psalmist...

      "Serve the LORD with fear, And rejoice with trembling.

      "Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, And you perish in the way,
         When His wrath is kindled but a little.

      "Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.

                                                       (Ps 2:11-12)

Are you putting your trust in Jesus, the Son of God?

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Mark Copeland... Faith In The Face Of Fire (3:1-30)

                          "THE BOOK OF DANIEL"

                   Faith In The Face Of Fire (3:1-30)

INTRODUCTION

1. In Dan 1, we were introduced to three companions of Daniel:
   Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego...
   a. Like Daniel, they were young men taken from Judah into captivity
      and trained to serve before the king - Dan 1:6-7
   b. Like Daniel, they were blessed by God and impressed the king
      after their period of training - Dan 1:17-20

2. Dan 3 reveals more about the character of these three young men...
   a. In recounting an incident that has fascinated many, both young
      and old
   b. Like Dan 1, it illustrates the power of a strong faith in those
      who are young

[This inspiring story, which I like to call "Faith In The Face Of
Fire", begins by describing...]

I. THEIR TRIAL

   A. THE EVENTS LEADING UP TO IT...
      1. Nebuchadnezzar's image, and his command to worship it - Dan 3:
         1-7
      2. The accusation against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego - Dan 3:8-12
      3. The king's threat of the fiery furnace - Dan 3:13-15

   B. THE NATURE OF THEIR TRIAL...
      1. To save their situation
         a. They had been promoted over the affairs of Babylon - Dan 3:12
         b. They would lose their position as well as their lives
      2. To sacrifice their conscience
         a. All they needed to do was to conform outwardly
         b. Of course, that would have meant disobedience to God - Exo 20:4-5

   C. WE MAY FACE SIMILAR TRIALS TODAY...
      1. To save our situation, such as:
         a. Our popularity at school, by doing things our peers or
            teacher do not see wrong
         b. Our position at work, by doing that which our boss or
            company requires which may be illegal, unethical or immoral
      2. To sacrifice our conscience
         a. It would be easy to conform outwardly, to "go along with
            the crowd"
         b. But our conscience would condemn us, and so would God

[Likely we all have been tempted in some way like this.  How did we
react?  How should we have reacted?  How did Shadrach, Meshach, and
Abed-Nego react?  Let's consider...]

II. THEIR TESTIMONY

   A. THEY DEMONSTRATED FAITH...
      1. In the power of God - Dan 3:16-17
         a. That God was able to deliver them from the fiery furnace
         b. If it was His will
      2. In the will of God - Dan 3:18
         a. If it was God's will not to deliver it, so be it!
         b. They would still not worship other gods, nor the gold
            image!

   B. THEY DETERMINED TO SERVE GOD NO MATTER WHAT...
      1. Like Job in the midst of his affliction - Job 1:20-21; 13:15
      2. Like Habakkuk who would praise God even in suffering - Hab 3:
         17-19
      3. Like the apostles who rejoiced to suffer in His name - Ac 5:
         27-29
      4. Like Polycarp who offered this prayer as he was being burned
         at the stake:

        "O Lord God Almighty, the Father of Thy beloved and blessed
         Son Jesus Christ, through whom we have received the knowledge
         of Thee, the God of angels and powers and of all creation and
         of the whole race of the righteous, who live in Thy presence;

        "I bless Thee for that Thou hast granted me this day and hour,
         that I might receive a portion amongst the number of martyrs
         in the cup of Thy Christ unto resurrection of eternal life,
         both of soul and of body, in the incorruptibility of the Holy
         Spirit.

        "May I be received among these in Thy presence this day, as a
         rich and acceptable sacrifice, as Thou didst prepare and
         reveal it beforehand, and hast accomplished it, Thou that art
         the faithful and true God.

        "For this cause, yea and for all things, I praise Thee, I bless
         Thee, I glorify Thee, through the eternal and heavenly High
         Priest, Jesus Christ, Thy beloved Son, through whom with Him
         and the Holy Spirit be glory both now and for the ages to
         come. Amen.'
                                      - From The Martyrdom Of Polycarp

[Such examples are truly "Faith In The Face Of Fire"!  This is what it
means to have faith, trust, and commitment to the Lord.  What about our
own personal trials at school or work?  Have we been true to God, no
matter the cost?  Finally, consider...]

III. THEIR TRIUMPH

   A. THE REST OF THE CHAPTER REVEALS...
      1. How they were saved in the fiery furnace - Dan 3:19-25
      2. How Nebuchadnezzar was led to bless the true God - Dan 3:26-39

   B. CONSIDER WHAT THEIR TRIALS BROUGHT THEM...
      1. A new sense of freedom!
         a. They entered bound, but were soon seen "loose, walking" 
            - Dan 3:23-25
         b. The very thing presumed to destroy them, enabled them to
            walk freely!
         c. So our own trials can be used to set us truly free! - Jm 1:
            2-4; Ro 5:3-5
      2. A new source of fellowship!
         a. Note:  There was a fourth person in the fire! - Dan 3:25
         b. The identity of this fourth person is not certain
            1) Some think it was an angel
            2) Others believe it was a Christophany (a preincarnate
               appearance of Christ)
         c. Whichever, it suggested a closer communion and fellowship
            with God!
         d. So our trials can bring us closer to God
            1) As explained by the author of Hebrews - He 12:5-11
            2) As promised by Jesus Himself - Re 3:12,21; 7:13-17
      3. A new opportunity for service!
         a. They were promoted to even higher positions! - Dan 3:30
         b. Just as Joseph, who in his trials went:
            1) From slave to steward
            2) From prisoner to Pharaoh's second hand man!
         c. So our faithfulness in trials will lead to greater things!
            - Mt 25:21; Re 2:25-27

CONCLUSION

1. What a wonderful example of faith in these three young men!
   a. Committed to serving God, no matter the consequence
   b. Believing that God can bring deliverance, willing to accept death
      if He doesn't
   c. Demonstrating that faith in the face of fire can lead to greater
      things

2. Let's not overlook perhaps the most important outcome of this
   incident:  glory to God!
   a. Note the praise rendered by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon - Dan 3:28-29
   b. So our faith (and works) should be to the praise of God - Mt 5:16

3. What kind of faith do we have?  Is it like a....
   a. Spare tire, used only in the case of an emergency?
   b. Wheelbarrow, easily upset and must be pushed?
   c. Bus, ridden only when it goes our way?

May our faith be like that of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego,
committed to serving the Lord and demonstrating "Faith In The Face Of
Fire"!
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Mark Copeland... The Kingdom That Shall Never Be Destroyed (Daniel 2:1-49)

                          "THE BOOK OF DANIEL"

           The Kingdom That Shall Never Be Destroyed (2:1-49)

INTRODUCTION

1. In Dan 2, we read about Nebuchadnezzar's dream and Daniel's
   interpretation...
   a. Nebuchadnezzar challenges his magicians, sorcerers, et al, to
      tell him both the dream and its interpretation, and they are
      unable - Dan 2:1-13
   b. God reveals the secret of the dream to Daniel in a night vision
      - Dan 2:14-23
   c. Daniel approaches the king and explains that God has made known
      to him both the dream and its interpretation - Dan 2:24-30
   d. Daniel then tells the dream, and gives the interpretation of it,
      to the amazement of Nebuchadnezzar - Dan 2:31-49 (read)
      1) The king had seen a great image
         a) With head of gold
         b) With chest and arms of silver
         c) With belly and thighs of bronze
         d) With legs of iron, and feet mixed with iron and clay
      2) The great image was destroyed by a small stone made without
         hands
         a) The image representing the rise and fall of four world
            empires
         b) The stone representing a kingdom that God would set up
      3) The king praises God, and exalts Daniel along with his three
         friends

2. There are certainly two key thoughts expressed in this chapter...
   a. God is a revealer of secrets - Dan 2:19,22,28-29,47
   b. God can make known the future and bring it pass - Dan 2:28-29,21

3. But of particular interest to us ought to be the "kingdom" in verse
   44...
   a. Which the God of heaven Himself shall set up
   b. Which shall never be destroyed, but consume other kingdoms and
      stand forever

4. Several questions naturally come to mind concerning this
   "kingdom"...
   a. When would God set it up?
   b. Has it been set up as foretold?
   c. If it has, and if it shall never be destroyed...
      1) Where is it now?
      2) What is the future of this kingdom?
      3) Can we be a part of this indestructible kingdom?

[In this lesson, we shall endeavor to provide the answers to these
questions.  Let's start with the first:  When would this "kingdom" be
set up...?]

I. THE PREPARATION FOR THE INDESTRUCTIBLE KINGDOM

   A. "IN THE DAYS OF THESE KINGS..." (44)
      1. Daniel describes the image as depicting four kingdoms which
         shall rise and fall
      2. The first one is definitely Babylon - Dan 2:37-38
      3. With Babylon as the starting point, world history confirms
         that the next three kingdoms would be:
         a. The Medo-Persian empire, represented by the chest and arms
            of silver
         b. The Grecian empire, represented by the belly and thighs of
            bronze
         c. The Roman empire, represented by the legs of iron, with
            feet mixed with iron and clay
      4. Thus one could look for the establishment of the
         "indestructible kingdom" in the days of the Roman empire

   B. WHEN "THE TIME IS FULFILLED"...
      1. Notice what John the Baptist began preaching during the days
         of the Roman empire ("the kingdom of heaven is at hand")
         - Mt 3:1-2
      2. Jesus proclaimed this also, adding "the time is fulfilled"
         - Mk 1:14-15
         a. What "time" was fulfilled?
         b. The time described by Daniel!

[So the "indestructible kingdom" was to be set up in the days of the
Roman empire.  During Roman empire both John and Jesus anticipated its
establishment.  This leads to our next question:  Has it been set up as
foretold...?]

II. THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE INDESTRUCTIBLE KINGDOM

   A. DURING JESUS' EARTHLY MINISTRY, IT WAS "AT HAND"...
      1. This is what both John and Jesus proclaimed - Mt 3:1-2; Mk 1:
         14-15
      2. Yet after Jesus' death, there were those who were still
         waiting for the kingdom - e.g., Joseph of Arimathea, Lk 23:
         50-51

   B. BUT FOLLOWING THE ASCENSION OF JESUS...
      1. He is far above all principality, power, might, dominion - Ep 1:20-21
      2. All has been made subject to Him - 1Pe 3:22
      3. He is ruler over the kings of the earth - Re 1:5
      4. He rules the nations with a rod of iron - Re 2:26-27
      -- He truly has all authority in heaven and on earth! - cf. Mt 28:18

   C. THIS SUPPORTS WHAT IS REVEALED LATER IN DANIEL...
      1. Consider Dan 7:13-14
         a. Where one like the Son of Man approaches the Ancient of
            Days (God)
         b. And is given dominion, glory, and a kingdom which shall not
            be destroyed
      2. Compare this with Ac 1:9
         a. Daniel describes the ascension from a heavenly perspective
         b. Whereas Luke describes it from an earthly perspective!

[It is clear, then, that the King (Jesus) has received a kingdom, that
the indestructible kingdom was set up when He returned to heaven!  But
one might naturally ask:  Where is it now?  The answer is found when we
consider...]

III. THE NATURE OF THE INDESTRUCTIBLE KINGDOM

   A. THINGS TO REMEMBER ABOUT THIS KINGDOM...
      1. It was described by Daniel as a "stone cut...without hands
         which became a great mountain and filled the whole earth"
         - Dan 2:34-35
         a. "without hands" suggests it is not your ordinary kingdom
         b. Also, it would start small and then grow larger
      2. Compare this with what Jesus taught about the nature of His
         kingdom
         a. His kingdom is not of this world - Jn 18:36; cf. Ro 14:17
         b. It would start small, and grow to encompass the earth - Mt 13:31-33
      -- Thus this "indestructible kingdom" would start small, and be
         spiritual in nature

   B. THIS KINGDOM THEREFORE INVOLVES THOSE IN THE CHURCH...
      1. The Christians at Colosse were in the kingdom - Col 1:12-13
      2. Those at Thessalonica likewise - 1Th 2:12
      3. Along with the seven churches in Asia - Re 1:6,9
      4. Indeed, all Christians receive their part in this
         "indestructible kingdom" - He 12:28
         a. Including us gathered here this day!
         b. Fulfilling the statement that this kingdom would fill the
            whole earth!
         c. For here we are, on the other side of the planet from
            Jerusalem, yet citizens of this kingdom foretold by Daniel!

[Whoever is willing to "repent and believe in the gospel" (Mk 1:15) can
be a part of the kingdom Jesus established when He sat down at the
right hand of God following His ascension to heaven.  This leads us to
yet another question:  What is the future of this kingdom...?]

IV. THE FUTURE OF THIS INDESTRUCTIBLE KINGDOM

   A. IT WILL LAST FOREVER...
      1. As Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar - Dan 2:44
         a. "which shall never be destroyed"
         b. "it shall stand forever"
      2. As the writer to the Hebrews stated:  "a kingdom which cannot
         be shaken" - He 12:28
      3. As the angel Gabriel spoke to Mary:  "of His kingdom there
         will be no end" - Lk 1:31-33

   B. AT CHRIST'S COMING, IT WILL BE DELIVERED TO THE FATHER...
      1. As taught by Paul to the Corinthians - 1Co 15:23-26
         a. When Christ comes, He shall deliver the kingdom to God the
            Father, having put an end to all rule, authority and power
         b. Until then, Christ shall reign until all enemies are placed
            under His feet, the last enemy being death
      2. As Jesus taught in the parable of the tares - Mt 13:40-43
         a. At the end of the age, His angels will gather out of the
            kingdom those that offend and practice lawlessness
         b. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the
            kingdom of their Father

CONCLUSION

1. And so this kingdom...
   a. Foretold by Daniel, proclaimed by John the Baptist and Jesus
      Himself
   b. Was begun in the days of the Roman empire, with Christ as its
      king and His disciples as its citizens

2. It is an indestructible kingdom...
   a. That continues on, ever growing
   b. With the hope of a glorious future in eternity

3. But let us not forget the last question raised in our introduction:
   Can we be a part of this indestructible kingdom?
   a. Yes!  For Jesus and His apostles tell us how
      1) We must be born again of water and the Spirit - Jn 3:5; cf.
         Tit 3:5
      2) An allusion to baptism, commanded of penitent believers - Mt 28:19; Mk 16:16; Ac 2:38
   b. But beware, some in the kingdom may one day be cast out!
      1) As Jesus warned in the parable of the tares - Mt 13:41-43
      2) Telling us later of the necessity of an enduring faith - Re 2:10

Therefore, once we have been obedient to the gospel (cf. Ro 6:17-18) we
must remain diligent in our faith, if we wish to experience the future
glories of "The Kingdom That Shall Never Be Destroyed"!

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Mark Copeland... The Faith Of A Fifteen Year Old (Daniel 1:1-21)

                          "THE BOOK OF DANIEL"

                The Faith Of A Fifteen Year Old (1:1-21)

INTRODUCTION

1. The Old Testament is filled with examples worthy of our study and
   emulation...
   a. Such as Joseph, with his stand for God in the house of Potiphar
   b. Such as Joshua, a great man of faith and conviction in his
      service to God

2. Another example that ought to inspire us all is that of Daniel...
   a. As a young man, his faith gave him the courage to remain true to
      his convictions
   b. As an old man, his faith sustained him the threat of persecution

[We first read of Daniel and his great faith, in the first chapter of
the book of Daniel...]

I. DANIEL'S FAITH AS A "FIFTEEN YEAR OLD"

   A. IT WAS A BLEAK DAY IN THE HISTORY OF ISRAEL...
      1. The beginning of Babylonian domination - Dan 1:1-2
         a. In  the third year of Jehoiakim (ca. 605 B.C.)
         b. Jerusalem besieged by Nebuchadnezzar
         c. Jehoiakim taken into captivity, and precious items taken
            from the temple
      2. This was the first of three times that Nebuchadnezzar came
         against Jerusalem (605, 597, 586 B.C.)

   B. DANIEL AND OTHERS SELECTED FOR SPECIAL TRAINING...
      1. Young men taken to serve Nebuchadnezzar - Dan 1:3-7
         a. They were truly the "cream of the crop" among the captives
            1) Good looking with no blemish
            2) Gifted with wisdom, knowledge, and the ability to learn
               quickly
         b. To serve in the king's palace, and be taught the language
            and literature of the Chaldeans (Babylonians)
            1) Given special provisions of the king's food and drink
            2) With three years of special training
         c. Among those selected, four are named, and apparently
            renamed to honor Babylonian gods
            1) Daniel (God is my judge) - Belteshazzar (a servant of
               Bel)
            2) Hananiah (the Lord is gracious) - Shadrach (inspired by
               the sun god)
            3) Mishael (who is what God is?) - Meshach (who is what the
               moon god is?)
            4) Azariah (the Lord helps) - Abed-Nego (servant of Nebo)
      2. How would these young men respond?
         a. Would they submit to the temptations placed before them?
         b. Would they give in, excusing themselves due to youth and
            inexperience?
         -- How would you have reacted if you were in their place?

   C. DANIEL MAKES A DECISION...
      1. He "purposed in his heart" - Dan 1:8
         a. I.e., he made a commitment
         b. Something too rarely heard of today, in both young and old
      2. His commitment was to "not defile himself" with the king's
         food
         a. Possibly unclean food according to Levitical restrictions
         b. Or food used in idol worship which would cause one to be a
            participant with such worship - cf. 1Co 10:20-22

   D. HOW DANIEL REMAINED TRUE TO HIS COMMITMENT...
      1. He did it with politeness - Dan 1:8b
         a. Note that "he requested"
         b. He did not "demand", but respected the authority of those
            over him
      2. He did it with God's help - Dan 1:9
         a. God gave him favor in the eyes of the chief of eunuchs
         b. Similar to how Joseph found favor in prison - cf. Gen 39:21
      3. He did it through persistence - Dan 1:10-11
         a. He did not give up after the refusal by the chief of the
            eunuchs
         b. He tried something else, going to the steward directly over
            them
      4. He did it through willingness to test his faith - Dan 1:12-15
         a. He was confident that God's way was the right way
         b. He was willing to demonstrate the superiority of God's way
         c. So he asked the steward to give him and his three friends
            just water and vegetables for ten days

   E. THE VALUE OF SUCH FAITH SEEN IN ITS RESULTS...
      1. It affected the lives of others! - Dan 1:15-16
         a. It had blessed the countenance of Daniel and his friends
         b. It then blessed the rest of the young men under the care of
            the steward
      2. God blessed Daniel and his three friends even more! - Dan 1:
         17-20
         a. God gave them knowledge, skill, and wisdom, and to Daniel
            He gave understanding in visions and dreams
         b. They became the best of the young men who had been trained,
            and served in the presence of Nebuchadnezzar
         c. The king found them better than all his magicians and
            astrologers
      3. Daniel continued in the court of Babylon nearly seventy years!
         - Dan 1:21
         a. Even to the first year of Cyrus of Persia (539 B.C.)
         b. Eventually becoming provincial ruler and chief
            administrator over all others - Dan 2:48

[What a wonderful example of faith and commitment, and of God's
providence to care for His people!  Now let's consider some...]

II. LESSONS AND APPLICATIONS FROM DANIEL'S FAITH

   A. HOW TO SUCCEED IN KEEPING OUR COMMITMENT TO THE LORD...
      1. Be polite
         a. There is never any reason to be rude or arrogant
         b. Impoliteness just aggravates a situation rather than helps
            it - cf. Pr 15:1
      2. Seek God's help
         a. Without God, any effort is more likely to fall - cf. Psa 127:1-2
         b. God seeks to help those who are loyal to Him - cf. 2 Chr 16:9
      3. Be persistent
         a. Don't give up trying after meeting the first obstacle
         b. Remember what Jesus taught about persistence:
            1) Those who keep on "asking, seeking, knocking" will
               receive, find, have doors opened to them - Mt 7:7-11
            2) The parable of the persistent widow - Lk 18:1-8
      4. Be willing to test your faith
         a. If not willing, how committed are you to trusting God?
         b. Yet God often invited people to test His promises - cf. Mal 3:10
         c. And so does Jesus - cf. Jn 7:16-17; Mt 6:31-34

   B. SOME APPLICATIONS...
      1. School-age children
         a. Out from underneath their mother's apron for the first time
         b. They will be faced with making decisions
         -- Will they have the faith of Daniel?
      2. College-bound students
         a. Moving away from home for the first time
         b. Leaving a spiritual environment at home, for one that is
            likely very worldly
         -- Will they live and act with the same sort of commitment
            found in Daniel?
      3. Adults in the workplace
         a. Tempted to accept jobs which may require one to compromise
            convictions
         b. Called upon to lie for the boss, show loyalty to the
            company though illegal or unethical
         -- Will they have "the faith of a fifteen year old"?
      4. Those with unbelieving spouses
         a. Having to serve God and raise their children in the ways of
            the Lord on their own
         b. With little or no moral and religious support from their
            life mate
         -- Will they have the "purpose of heart" that Daniel had?

CONCLUSION

1. Many other applications could be made, but what have we learned from
   "The Faith Of A Fifteen Year Old" like Daniel?
   a. Even those who are young need to make a personal commitment to
      serve the Lord
   b. One can be steadfast in their purpose to serve the Lord without
      arrogance
   c. We should look to the Lord for help, and be willing to trust in
      His providence
   d. God will bless and provide for those who put their trust in Him
      and His will

2. Daniel is not the only person to demonstrate such faith in his
   youth...
   a. We made mention of Joseph earlier
   b. We have other examples in the O.T., such as David and Josiah
   c. And of course, let's not forget the example of Mary (the mother
      of Jesus), and that of Timothy

May the example of their dedication to the service of the Lord inspire
us all to "purpose in our heart" not to defile ourselves by the things
of the world!

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011