June 25, 2019

Today you should read: Deuteronomy 1:1-8

People often look at me funny when I tell them that the book of Deuteronomy is one of my favorite books in the Old Testament. It’s certainly one of the books that gets a bad reputation as being hard to understand, but it certainly doesn’t deserve to get skipped in your annual Bible reading plan. Deuteronomy is essentially Moses retelling the law (deutero: second). In fact, chapters 5-28 of the book are Moses breaking down and teaching on the Ten Commandments.

Believers today can sometimes feel uneasy when they read through books like Leviticus or Deuteronomy, because so much of what we read applies to us in different ways than it did to the original audience. But does this mean these books of the law have no value to us? Of course not! In Matthew 5:17, we see that Jesus himself says that he did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. Paul also shows us what value the law has in Romans 7, where he makes the case that the law is not bad in and of itself, but that it reveals how sinful we truly are. In thinking about how we should think of the law today, a helpful general principle is to see that the moral aspects of the law (think the Ten Commandments) can still give us direction, but Jesus has fulfilled for us the ritualistic aspects of the law (think sacrifices, eating unclean animals, etc.)

So my encouragement to you as you read through the book of Deuteronomy is twofold:

  1. Take note of the different ways that it talks about loving God and loving neighbor throughout.
  2. Thank God for sending Jesus who fulfilled all of the law so that we could have a right relationship with God.

By: Graham Withers — Pastoral Ministry Associate

June 24, 2019

Today you should read: Daniel 12

Final Resurrection and Reward

“Many … who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever” Daniel 12:2–3

Apocalyptic literature often sees events in the near term as anticipations of similar events to come. Jesus shows us this phenomenon when He predicts the “abomination of desolation” in the Jerusalem temple in AD 70, namely, the Roman standards that General Titus set in place as objects of worship just before he had the armies of Rome burn the temple to the ground (Mark 13:14–23). Our Lord was recalling Daniel 11:31, where Daniel foresaw the “abomination that makes desolate”—the idols Antiochus IV Epiphanes set up in the Jerusalem temple in the second century BC. Christ foresaw Titus’ standards as a long-term fulfillment of a vision that had a shorter-term fulfillment centuries earlier.œ

When we come to the end of Daniel 11, which is actually one unit with Daniel 12, we find a prediction of longer-term events alongside a prediction of events occurring prior to the coming of the Messiah. In 11:36, it appears that the prophet moves from Antiochus as a figure in history to Antiochus as a type of the final enemy to come. We draw this conclusion mainly based on the exalted language applied to the king in verses 36–45, the reference to the “time of the end” (v. 40), and the fact that the final resurrection foreseen in Daniel 12 seems to happen immediately after the ruler in 11:36–45 is defeated. Given the symbolism of the passage, this interpretation is tentative, but it seems to fit the figure whom theologians have traditionally regarded as the Antichrist, the ultimate embodiment of the “spirit of antichrist” who has always stood against the Lord and His people (see 1 John 4:3).œ

This final enemy “shall come to his end” in a time of great trouble, but the people of God will be preserved (11:45–12:1). At that point, there will be a physical resurrection of the dead, both the righteous and the unrighteous. The former will be rewarded, but the latter will find “everlasting contempt” and destruction because they are the Lord’s impenitent enemies (12:2–3). Despite the sufferings of God’s people in exile, as described in Daniel 1–6 and foreseen in 7–12, those who persevere in faithfulness, trusting in God alone for deliverance, will be victorious in the long term even though they endure pain in the near term.œ

That is the message of Daniel for us today. As God’s people, we remain physically exiled from paradise, awaiting the full restoration of all things. Spiritually, however, the restoration has begun, which means suffering for our faith until the consummation. But all who endure to the end will be saved (Matt. 10:22).œ

Coram Deo

God’s elect will most certainly persevere until the end, and the elect know that they are elect only as they persevere (Phil. 1:6). Daniel shows us how those who truly know the Lord are faithful to Him when they face opposition, be it minor or great. It is a call for us to be faithful to Him all the days of our lives, to persevere to the end that we might receive a great reward. Let us press on in faith and repentance, never losing hope in the final salvation of our God.

Today’s post comes from Ligonier Ministries. You can find the original article here.

June 22, 2019

Today you should read: Daniel 11

Now I will tell you the truth.” The truth proclaimed to Daniel represents one of the most detailed chapters of prophecy recorded in Scripture. Many of us reading chapter 11 aren’t aware of the numerous historical references that comprise about 200 years of history. The account is so accurate in it’s details that very few scholars debate who and what this passage is referencing, but they strongly contest when it was written.

There was an ancient scholar named Porphyry. writing in the 300’s AD that Daniel was a forgery. The prophecy in Daniel is so detailed that he concluded it had to be written around 200 BC, after the events took place. This thought is alive and well among many who reject the idea that there is a God who knows the future.

However, we know that God exists. And if God exists, He has the power to reveal world events hundreds of years before those events took place. That’s exactly what happened—God said it would happen and it happened.

Daniel 11:2 suggests that Persia will see “three more kings…then a fourth.” “It is a matter of historical record that the three kings who ruled between Cyrus and Xerxes I were Cambyses (530–522), Smerdis (pseudo-Smerdis or Gaumata; 522), and Darius I Hystaspes (522–486).” (Bible Knowledge Commentary).

The rise of Greece, and specifically, Alexander the Great, is prophesied several times in Daniel. Again, history tells us that after Alexander’s untimely death at the age of 32, his empire was divided up among four generals. These events eventually culminated in the actions of one man, the Seleucid ruler, Antiochus Epiphanes’ (When you read that name you should hear the Darth Vader theme song in your head—this man was evil).  Daniel 11:21–35 tells of Antiochus calling him a “despicable” person (21).

It was Antiochus who set up the “abomination that causes desolation” (31). On December 16, 167 BC he erected an altar to Zeus on the altar of burnt offering outside the temple in Jerusalem, and had a pig offered on the altar. This desecration and the following actions of the wicked Antiochus led to a revolt among many of the Jewish people. Daniel recorded, “but the people who know their God will display strength and take action” (32). This guerilla war was led by a family for whom these events were named, the Maccabean Revolt. (If you’ve ever wondered who Hanukkah comes from, it’s is a celebration of God’s actions during this time.)

Here’s a simple thought for today—God knows the future. It was revealed, in part, to Daniel who recorded some of it, but God knows all of what will happen. Although we may not always know what’s around the corner, God does. Also, He’s made promises to us about the future, and since He knows, we can trust that it will happen—God says it will happen and it will happen.

 

In an effort to find something to help explain the historical nature of this chapter, I was looking for a video when I found this sermon—

A quick search of Daniel 11 explanations will turn up a bunch of whack-jobs, so I was surprised to find a message by my former professor, Mark Hitchcock. This is the guy with whom I studied the prophets in seminary and this hour-long message is worth your time if you have a chance to listen.  

By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate

June 21, 2019

Today you should read: Daniel 10

Today in Daniel 10 we see Daniel after three weeks of prayer and a form of fasting. He goes to the bank of the Tigris River and sees a vision of an angel of high rank, believed to be Gabriel. Men had been with Daniel at the time, but none could see the vision. This should remind us of when those accompanying Saul, later known as the Apostle Paul, couldn’t understand the voice coming from Heaven that Saul heard when he was on the road to Damascus. Isn’t it interesting that both groups were so close to the presence of the power of God, but just couldn’t see or understand it?

Daniel was greatly affected by the vision, as his physical state turns sickly and weak. This shows that even the holiest of men can’t compare to God’s power! He’s reassured by the angel that he’s there because God heard Daniel’s prayers and greatly loves him. The angel shares that God responded as soon as Daniel started praying three weeks earlier! He dispatched the angel to share a vision with Daniel about the future of God’s people, but the angel was delayed by the “prince of Persia”, a demon of high rank. The vision was important enough that battles were happening trying to stop its delivery!

Do you have any doubt at all that prayer matters? This chapter is a clear indicator that it most certainly does! We have the privilege of communicating with the God of the universe, the One who created us. And what’s even more amazing about this is that He listens!

Here are some questions to reflect on today:

  1. Do you pray to the Lord daily?
  2. If not, why don’t you, knowing that the Lord hears and cares for you?
  3. How different would your life be if you communicated with God daily?

Make a commitment today to pray every day for the next week. If you aren’t sure where to start, feel free to contact any of the staff and we would be happy to help you!

By: Kaitlin White — Preschool Director