Article #2 of Our Daniel Studies

 ‘Pre-eminence, Purpose, Purity & Prophecy’ is an apt summary of the book.

Pre-eminence because the book shows time and again that it is God who rules in the kingdoms of men (Dan 4:17 / 4:25 / 4:32). It is He who orders the steps of a good man (Psalm 37:23), indeed,Man’s goings are of the LORD; how can a man then understand his own way?” (Proverbs 20:24). This was the basis of Daniel’s life, a confident assurance that whatever happened on the outside, however desperate things seemed to be, God was still on the throne, the One who is the same, yesterday, today,  (Hebrews 13:8).

Purpose for two reasons:

Firstly because this book underlines the fact that God has a purpose for all that happens in our lives (HIS creation), as Daniel and his friends show – who would have thought that these teenagers who were dragged away in shackles would be the ones to bring the most powerful nation to its knees? Paul reminds us:And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Rom 8:28).

called

Secondly, purpose becauseDaniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.” (Dan 1:8).

NOTE: This text in Daniel 1:8 infers that Daniel was also a eunuch.

 

In this context the ‘purpose’ referred to is a determined conscious decision that is made in the heartFor where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matt 6:21). Daniel’s treasure was to do the will of God regardless of what others thought or said, as we will see in chapter 6:Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, [that everyone should worship king Darius alone or be thrown to the lions] he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.” (Dan 6:10). Oh for men and women who purpose in their hearts to serve God. In the New Testament Paul purposed in his heart to preach the gospel:But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:24 NKJV) “…woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16), as a result of this purpose of heart we read:And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures” (Acts 17:2). For these people, serving God was a way of life, not just a ‘Sunday thing’. The challenge for us as we go through this book is: are we really living lives worthy of our calling? (Eph 4:1; Col 1:10; 1 Thess 2:12).

  • Purity. Because of Daniel’s purpose of heart there was a beautiful purity about Daniel (as there was with Joseph). It is so easy for us to get tainted by the world and our surroundings, but when we do, it can so quickly escalate out of control. Chuck Smith sums it up clearly and concisely, “The flesh is never satisfied”. Chuck Missler comments that the more you feed a desire, the more you need to feed that desire; if you give into drink, you will need more drink to be satisfied, but then that will not be enough. If you take drugs, you will soon need more drugs to feed your habit; but that will not be enough. If you lust after the flesh, you will find yourself wanting more and more. If you gossip, one little story is never enough. Sin will always take you further than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay. If you have a tin of pure white paint, how many drops of black paint would it take to stop it being pure white? And so it is with our lives. Daniel never gave in; and twice in the book of Ezekiel God points to Daniel as an example of what a righteous man should be like. (Ezekiel 14:14 /20). May God put us through His crucible to remove the dross so that, like pure gold, we become reflections of His glory.refletion

 

Next week: Article #3 of our Daniel study

Study Notes on the book of Daniel

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Book of Daniel Study Notes

The following study notes (by Assistant Pastor Barry Forder) were used for Deal Christian Fellowship’s Monday night Bible studies during autumn – winter 2006.

The notes have been ‘tidied up’ to make them easier to read and understand. Additional comments, charts and graphs have been added where appropriate.

Whilst every care has been taken with grammar and spelling, these are only notes and as such are not intended to be a literary classic!

The real aim of these notes is to stimulate the reader to pursue their own study on the verses, issues and topics covered. There is no greater task that can be undertaken in this life than to seek to understand God’s Word. All other achievements in the Christian life will bear much more fruit if they are firmly rooted in the soil of God’s Word.But he that received seed into the good ground is he that hears the word, and understands it; which also bears fruit, and brings forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” (Matt 13:23)

We Teach – You Decide

Northern Michigan Bible School

As always, the reader is encouraged to be like the Bereans in Acts 17:11, whoreceived the word with all readiness, and searched the scriptures daily to see whether these things were so’. In other words, don’t just take these notes as fact – check it out yourself. Let the word of God alone be the standard by which that you judge things.

Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be
ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

2 Timothy 2:15

Introduction

The book of Daniel is one of the best-loved books of the Bible; it gives us the events­ of ‘Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego and the fiery furnace’ and ‘Daniel in the lion’s den’ – histories that many of us learned and loved at Sunday school. However the years have come and gone and we so often tend to just skip over those quaint little histories without them having any real impact on our lives; however, I believe that once we have completed a serious verse-by-verse study of this amazing book we will never be the same. This book gives us real perspective, it helps us to see things the way that God sees them – the way Daniel saw them.

Daniel, whose name means ‘God is my judge’, was just a teenager, probably about 14 or 15 when the Babylonian army, led by king Nebuchadnezzar, came and took him, his friends and about 10,000 others of the brightest and royalty of Judah away from all they knew, and carried them away into a distant land to a culture and language they did not know. It’s hard for us to imagine the feelings and emotions of a young teenager being taken from the security of a family, not knowing if he would ever see them again.

Although we are told that there was *not a righteous **man in Jerusalem at that time (Jeremiah 5:1; Jeremiah 8:5-6), (*the reason for God bringing His judgment upon the Kingdom of Judah), it would seem that there were still some God-fearing mothers, for Daniel and his friends had been brought up to know and fear God and even their names were a continual reminder of the God of Israel. But would that be enough? After all, how many young people today, after seeing all that Daniel saw, and enduring all he endured, would make a stand for God in the midst of a pagan culture? How many of our young people leave home and go to the University of ‘Babylon’ somewhere in America, where secular humanism rules, and find their once vibrant faith destroyed as they become ‘free’ to do what they want, as the moral constraints and stability of a loving family (church and/or home) become just memories? And how many of us can truly say, as we are thrust out into the world every Monday morning, that we desire purity more than worldly pleasure? **Bar-mitzveh is at age 13 but military life begins at age 20.

secret agent

Secret Agent

Do we really fear God and shun evil as did Job? (Job 1:8). Do we run from temptation like Joseph? (Gen 39:12). Do we find ourselves dropping the odd expletive (Col 3:8), telling a ‘funny’ course joke to our colleagues so that we will fit into the crowd (Eph 5:4), maybe telling the odd little ‘white’ lie (Col 3:9).Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?” (James 3:10-11). Were you in church praising God last Sunday, and then blending right back into the world on Monday? I heard of a man who went up to a Christian once and asked: ‘You’re a Christian aren’t you?’ The Christian replied ‘That’s for you to tell me’ – i.e. it should be obvious to all around us. Too many Christians act as secret agents, never wanting to blow their cover.

Daniel hadn’t been in Babylon long before they could tell what the most important thing in his life really was. It is my earnest prayer and desire that by the time we reach the end of this study, we too can say along with Daniel that we have ‘purposed in our hearts that we will not defile ourselves’ – no matter what the cost.

Dr Chuck Missler makes an incredible statement that he urges all of us to challenge, he says:

We are living at a time in history about which the Bible says more than it does about the time that Jesus walked the shores of Galilee or climbed the mountains of Judea”

Does the Bible really say more about the days we are living in than it does about the time of Jesus? If it does, then a study of this book will be one of the most important and timely ventures that we can undertake. May God richly bless you as you read and study His word!

General notes about the book

The book of Daniel records the collapse of the nation of Israel and the beginning of the ‘times of the gentiles’ – a period of time that will last until the Messiah returns to set up His kingdom and re-establish Israel.And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up” (Acts 15:13-16)

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate: and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. (Luke 13:34-35)

And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:2-4)

NOTE: We will deal more fully with this whole idea of ‘Replacement Theology’ – the lie that God is finished with Israel – in part 2 (chapters 7-12) of our Daniel study.

As we will see, the book of Daniel is very much a book of prophecy, foretelling the history of the world in advance; from the time of the Babylonian empire of Nebuchadnezzar, to the final worldly empire of Antichrist; then ultimately into the Millennial reign of Jesus.

A simple chart per the life of Israel:

  • Creation is around 6,000 BC; the beginning of time [Genesis 1:4, 5]
    Flood happened 1657 years later; 10 Generations from Adam to Noah
  • Noah to Abraham is also 10 generations; sometime around 2,000 BC
  • Exiled in Egypt 400+ years
  • 400 or so years under the judges but Tribal connections were a confederacy
  • Kings of a united Israelis, Saul David and Solomon
  • Nation of Israel becomes Northern and Southern kingdoms; Israel and Judah
  • Assyrians disperse the 10 northern tribes around 722 BC by Assyrians
  • Judah is captured by Nebuchadnezzar 606, 597, & 586 BC
  • 70 years captivity in Babylon
  • DANIEL reminds King Cyrus of the 70 years per Jeremiah (536 BC)
  • Zerubbabel takes first wave of about 50,000 back to Jerusalem-Judah now a province of Persia
  • 70 years later Ezra takes another small group back to Jerusalem-Judah
  • 17 years later Nehemiah takes the last group of Judeans back to Jerusalem-Judah
  • Daniel 11 comes into play but more on this in a later article

Note the map on the following page. Not only is the West Bank part of the Nation of Israel back around 1,000 BC, and as two kingdoms (950 to 720 BC) so is the east side of the Jordan River, today known as the country of Jordan.

This territory which is today called Jordan was the territory of the Tribes of Manasseh, Gad, and Reuben. Although this series of article is about the Book of Daniel, it would be wise to understand that “Father Abraham” had six sons through a late-life marriage with Ketur’ah [Genesis 25]. These sons Abraham did not want to mix with Isaac’s offspring so he sent them “EAST.” This would suggest that the populations in the territory Daniel spent his life is where descendants of Abraham’s six other sons and where he told them to go and occupy.

daniel map tribes.jpg

Seasonal Christianity

We will continue with our study on Daniel next week! We at Aha Bible Moments hope you and your loved ones have a blessed Resurrection Sunday. May we celebrate Jesus Christ our risen Savior!

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4seas0ns

Each season of the year has both its good and it’s not so wonderful parts to it. Spring brings the “bounce” back into summer lover lives. Summer has it sunshine and warmth, fall brings it colors and cooler weather; winter brings its non-discerning snow that blankets the good, bad and ugly of every neighborhood. But, there are also the rougher sides to each season. To most these downsides need not to be elaborated. They are personal perspectives. It also depends on which part of the world in which one is located. Winter in Argentina is summer in the northern hemisphere. So…it all depends upon the observer. One size never fits all. Plus, it greatly depends on what the observer sees compared to his or her expectations.

What about seasonal Christianity? The control word here is “consistency.” One size does not fit all but all should have the same joy of Jesus…but we don’t; neither in our eyes nor in the eyes of those who observe. Experience has taught us two, if not three, vital principles about what today is called Christianity and what the Book of Acts teaches (actually the entire Bible attempts to teach us if and when we seek, then we will find).

  1. If a true believer does not feel as close to God as s/he once did, even if it was just a few minutes ago, it isn’t God who moved. But, it is observed by others.
  2. Being a Christian is a life style, not a religion or denomination. Life styles are observable. In this case the old saying, “Do as I say not as I do” is foreign to a believer and his or her witness by observation.
  3. If we are neither hot nor cold per living a life in Christ, God has a bad taste in his mouth per that individual and HIS observation.
  4. MAYBE 4 PRINCIPLES…We may be the ONLY “Bible” a neighbor, fellow worker, casual observer, or person on the street ever reads.

believeIs it tough to be a believer in Christ? NO! But, a believer in Christ is a two word statement: to BE and to LIVE (believe). Is it tough to live the life of a believer? Only if we are more concerned about appearances, culture, social expectations, staus and what different people groups (Church, work, recreational, part of town…any observer) “may” think of us” including inabilities to forgive all who have sinned against us.

Matthew 6:14 & 15 makes it very clear. If we forgive others as in everyone for his or her sins against us, the heavenly Father will forgive us. If we do NOT FORGIVE others who violate us, then the same heavenly Father will not forgive us.

Forgiveness does not mean one must find a way to become a bosom buddy or be socially tolerant of bible compromises. It does mean to not hold it in one’s heart as an issue losing sleep over it or poisoning conversations “over the fence” as one might say. The Greek word translated as “forgive” in the New Testament, aphiēmi, carried a wide range of meanings, including to remit (a debt), to leave (something or someone) alone, to allow (an action), to leave, to send away, to desert or abandon, and even to divorce. Forgiveness is an action, not a feeling. Unfortunately to some, forgiveness per the Bible also means to “not speak against or slander.” Feelings get in the way of our actions.

The late J. Harold Smith once put it, “when one person (studies) reads the Bible, one hundred people read our lives” (emphasis mine). In 2 Corinthians 3:2 we read…(ESV) You yourselves are our letter (epistle) of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. It can be read in every language without interpretation. In biblical terms, we are epistles and (small letter “a”) apostles. Many will likely think or state, I simply can’t live by these standards. I slip up and people see that also. To think or even share that is an absolute truth, but to confess a wrong or hard feeling is part of being an epistle. This too is seen and read by observers. Paul called himself a sinner.

In no way does this article or the Bible suggest compromise as a solution to forgiving or getting along with the world. Forgiveness does not mean being tolerant. As true believers (to be and to live) we are told to not conform to the ways of the world as a way of life but to personally transform our hearts to reflect Christ in us. Compromise is the current vogue or way of this world.

No CompromiseWe do not compromise with the devil. He is the prince and power of this world. Jesus said in John 14:30 ”…for the ruler (Satan) of this world is coming. He has no claim on me.SIDE NOTE: Any who wish to be skeptics by pointing out that as this verse suggests Satan is coming so he is not yet here, read on. The Greek for coming is er’-khom-ahee.” It means “a middle voice verb used only in the present imperfect tense.” Huh? Yup! It means already present.

This is why we are commanded to “not conform to this world.” It is a matter of transforming our lives TO Christ even more so than from the world. It is a bit like two parallel efforts but the same goal. We should not need to run from sin as much as we should run to our salvation. Do we run from a danger or do we run to safety? Running from something does not assure we are ever far enough away from it to avoid some form of contact with it. Running to safety is specific. We YADDA (know) when we get there. Running to Christ is leaving a sinful life behind. Praise God there is sin forgiveness.

In a very real sense, this reflects what E. M. Bounds (1835-1913) put it in one of his great writings.

We have a wrong estimate of what we think is a Church’s strength. Paraphrasing him, Mega-churches must have it right because they have appeal and are MEGA for a reason of some form of demonstrative strength; size; beauty; parking spaces; awesome sound systems; music. To grasp a true churches strength we must go back and study, meaning STUDY to the Book of Acts for what it says, not for some form of starting point after which we adjust “church” to fit culture(s), men’s design, and political correctness to not be offensive. The church is not a building or denomination. Denominations or the lack of one is not the church. Believers are the church.

As Mr. Bounds puts it, “Church (Christianity) strength does not consist in its numbers and its money, but in the holiness of its members (emphasis mine).

Ephesians 4:4 backs him up…One body, and one Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. Here in this verse, preceding verses, or following verse can anyone find the church having anything to do with possessions, size, wealth, “eloquence [that] fills the pulpit (Bounds)”, and check book balances. These are all (kole in the Hebrew and pas in the Greek) man measures. E. M. Bounds adds, “The aggregate of the personal holiness of the members of each [congregation; one church] is the only measure of strength.” Like the oft used example of a “whatever” is only as strong as its weakest link.” Knowledge or even understanding is not an eternal choice.

There was a time when sin would slink around side streets and dark alleys (men love darkness rather than light). Today due to tolerance, political correctness, coming out of closets, and civil compromise, it is found in parades, flaunted on the Internet, heard and seen on the news, and in our school curriculum. Lord, forgive us for we have sinned as a church, a people, a nation, a creation. A. W. Tozer put it well when he wrote, “There is no middle ground. The Lord does not recognize ‘agreeing to disagree’.”

Being in church does not make one a Christian (sheep) by association. Neither can a Christian school, bible college education or being raised in what one considers a Christian family, make one a member of God’s family; even if a member of a local mega-denomination. I shared this with another person some time ago. He said, “Now you are getting personal.” I agreed.

Rev. Dr. Jstark
April 13, 2019

How Does the Book of Daniel Fit into the Bible and history? Part 1

puzzle fitHow does the book of Daniel fit into the Bible and history?

The following is a rather detailed history of the O.T. leading up to the time of Daniel. It will best serve as a personal Old Testament Bible guide. Memorizing it could be daunting. Knowing where to find the answer is the best approach. Find it in THIS background to Daniel. This would be the equivalent in most universities at a graduate level study. Do not be alarmed. There are no written tests.

Three Periods of Old Testament History:

The first verse in the Bible reveals that…

…“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1 NASB

We do not know exactly when creation took place, as there may be a gap between

Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2 as the additional possibility of a gap between these two verses and when God created day and night (V5). The way we currently understand the laws of Physics, including the Theory of General Relativity, secular and evangelical scientists are certain that the universe (time, space, and matter) had a beginning and has not always existed. The book of Genesis reveals that God created the universe “In the beginning…” This is also the beginning of the period we will label the Pre-Abrahamic period of Old Testament History; prehistoric per secularists.

In the Pre-Abrahamic period, the book of Genesis describes:

  1. From where man, woman, and marriage come.
  2. It explains from where sin and death come.
  3. It details the first murder.
  4. It describes a time when God destroyed the earth by a great flood.
  5. It outlines from where the nations and the diversity of races and languages that we have on the earth came. (It is not our goal at the present time to go into detail on any of these events. This study sheet is an overview of the Old Testament and what it is about to be better understood where and how the book of Daniel fits into the Old and New Testament.)

The Patriarchal period. Abraham is a man to whom three great religions trace their origins: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Both Jews and Arabs genetically come from Abraham. Abraham left his country, Ur in Babylon (modern day Iraq), and followed God to a new country, Canaan, where modern day Israel and Palestine are located.

Abraham had two sons, Ishmael, from whom the Arabs trace their lineage, and Isaac, from whom Israel and the Jews trace their lineage. Isaac had two sons, Jacob and Esau. Jacob, who later changed his name to Israel, had twelve sons – the twelve tribes of Israel are descendants of these twelve sons. The book of Genesis (which covers a longer period of time than the rest of the Bible combined) ends up with Jacob and his twelve sons and one daughter, their wives, and their kids all moving down to Egypt to avoid starving in a famine. (By the way, the book of Job is about another man who probably lived during Abraham’s time.)

The offspring of Israel (Jacob) spent more than 400 years in Egypt, and became slaves to the Egyptians probably toward the end of this period of time. The book of Exodus takes up Israel’s history near the end of this 400 year period in Egypt. Thus begins the third period of Old Testament history, Egypt and the Exodus. Four books of the Bible – Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy – cover this period of time lasting about 40 years; mostly the wilderness wandering of the Israelites.

10During this period of time, God used Moses to liberate the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Also during this time, God gives Moses the Ten Commandments and other laws for the Nation of Israel. After God gives the Ten Commandments and the other laws,

Moses sends twelve spies into Canaan. When they return, ten of the spies give a bad report which scares the Israelites. They complain to Moses and to God refusing to enter the Promised Land. God punishes Israel by making the continue living in the desert for about 40 years. The Egypt and the Exodus period begin about 1446 BC.

After the 40 years of living and wandering in the desert, the next period begins. This period, Conquering the Land, covers about 10 years. Israel conquers some of the land of Canaan in the area of the world now known as Israel and Palestine. The people of

Canaan were evil but their origin comes is based in the time of Abraham through Ishmael and Esau.

They sacrificed their own kids to a god named Molech by burning them alive. This gruesome act is one of the reasons that God ordered Israel to conquer the land of Canaan. The book of Joshua covers this period of Old Testament history. Israel conquered Canaan beginning around 1406 BC, but they never followed through per God’s instructions.

Dr. jStark

April 2019

 

Decoding Daniel – Part 1

               An In Depth Classroom and Home Bible Study

DEEP


The Book of Daniel reveals God’s sovereign control of history from 605 B.C. to the Second Advent of Christ. This prophetic writing contains hundreds of predictions that revolve around five basic themes.

1. The Rise and Fall of Four Empires
2. The Coming of the Everlasting Millennial Kingdom
3. The Coming Princes
4. The Time of Israel’s Distress
5. The End Times

My objective in Decoding Daniel is to show history revealing prophecy and prophecy revealing history. Yahweh is the Lord of time and history. They are one and the same; not one a story and the other facts of history. They are both part of the same historical facts.

He is sovereign over the world, though considerable power and freedom of will have been given to human and angelic beings. Because of this freedom, a great conflict within the physical and spiritual realms is revealed in the Book of Daniel as humans, angels, Satan and God strive to control the future. Today they are cloaked in what man calls politics. Do not be swayed, That is a farce of Satan in his attempt to confuse facts. (Recommended reading: Satan’s Confusing Counterfeits by Joe Crews)

God elects to relate to humanity in such a way that humans become a factor in His life and He becomes part of our lives. Paul is strong on this point in his Philippians letter. Because of this interaction, prayers, dreams and visions play a significant role in the events of this book (Daniel) as God reveals the rise and fall of future empires and princes.

Although biblical history shows that God changes in the way He feels, plans, and acts in response to our response to Him, there are boundaries to His change. The LORD responds to human actions without compromising His revealed, unconditional plans and purposes. In addition, He never violates His legitimacy, righteousness and holiness. The future God has mapped out in the Book of Daniel will occur. His prophecies we find in history textbooks of the secular world proving many of these prophecies have already happened.target

Interesting side note… The fact that Daniels accuracy is so on-target, secularists and even some religious sophisticates claim the Book of Daniel had to be written after the fact of history itself. In other words, it was and remains too accurate to be true. Hmmmmm?

From the beginning, man’s history has been the story of rebellion against God. Instead of developing morally, humanity continues to head down the slippery slope of decadence, declension and destruction. For this reason alone, God is able to foretell the future with absolute accuracy as He overrules evil for His plans and purposes. Although in some of Daniel’s prophecies evil may appear to be victorious, God is working behind the scenes for good [Romans 8:28]. Joseph characterized God’s sovereign rule over evil for good in this same way in Genesis 50:20: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

Prophetically, the Book of Daniel is the key that unlocks eschatology; the study of the last days. It is indispensable for understanding Christ’s predictions and the Book of Revelation. Many of its symbols are employed in diverse ways in the Apocalypse of Jesus Christ. [Recommended web site: http://www.biblestudyhour.net/Apocalypse.html] Below is an extract from its pages.

God’s plan for the world is unfolded in amazing detail in Daniel. *Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream of the Great Image, Daniel’s dream and visions of the Four Beasts, and the Ram and Goat, along with Gabriel’s unveiling of the Seventy ‘Sevens’ provide the framework for prophetic history from 605 B.C. to the second coming [Advent] of Christ.

Daniel is written in prose and it differs from other prophetic books of the Bible which often have their oracles written in poetry. Consequently, it appears in the Hebrew Scriptures among “the writings” and not “the prophets.” Nevertheless, Daniel cannot be read like a narrative or novel since it contains images and symbols that need to be understood before God’s plan for the future can be understood. One cannot grasp its prophecies without first knowing a great deal about the rest of the Bible and the secular histories in which it is founded.

The kinds of predictions in the Book of Daniel are twofold:

  1. There are “types” or “foreshadowing’s” concealed within the narratives themselves;
  2. There are revealed dreams and visions of future events, people and places.

 

The prophet has deciphered the dreams and visions with the help of the Spirit of God. Herein a significant part of the outline of God’s plan for “the times of the Gentiles” has been decoded by the prophet. However, translating the details of this period is often left to the readers. My hope is to aid in this task by:

1. Connecting the symbolism decoded by Daniel to historical events, people and places.

2. Interpreting and connecting the symbolism that belongs to yet future events, people and places based on other prophecies contained in the Scriptures.

3. Discovering and interpreting the “types” in the narrative sections.

4. Explaining the words that have been closed up and sealed until the time of the end. In no way is it within my knowledge and study to open what has been sealed by God but we can possibly determine WHAT has been sealed. Someday the hidden will be revealed to all creation.

Practically, the Book of Daniel abounds with personal applications. Daniel himself models a godly life, blessed by God from teenage years through old age. A question section appears at the end of each chapter and will be discussed in our Bible Study containing a few applications gleaned from Daniel and others mentioned within that chapter. These questions can and will be an active ingredient for gaining knowledge and understanding. What we desire to do with gained understanding is an individual’s call. We will add secular historical evidence supporting Daniel’s incredible incites of wisdom and understanding of the times.

Chronological dating of Old Testament events varies slightly among church and secular scholars. Many variations arise from the Biblical writers themselves. Some count the ascension year as the first year of a king’s reign, others do not. Earlier scholars date the fall of Jerusalem in 587 B.C. and Artaxerxes’ decree to rebuild Jerusalem in 445 B.C. I have opted (JIV) to follow the scholars who date these events as 586 B.C. and 444 B.C. Not a biggie considering it is only a give or take of one year. None the less, it is my hopes to self-explain as we progress through this great study and grasp understanding while offering convincing evidence this is the true Word of God and true history all in one.

Somewhere during our study will be a chronology of Daniel with supporting facts. We can divide Daniel three ways: 1) Take it as it is presented in most evangelical Bibles; look at it through its chronological order; 2) divide it between the two languages that it is written in: 1-2:4a (Hebrew), 2:4b – 7 (depending on how one looks at tense, voice and whether Daniel is being quoted or is his own quote) is written in Syriac/Aramaic. 3) Chapter 8 – 12 is written in Hebrew.

The Book of Daniel has been a battleground of “higher criticism.” For instance, liberals view this book as Pseudepigrapha, written to inspire the hopes of the Jewish victims during the Seleucid persecution of 170-165 B.C. I (JIV) believe it was written by a prophetic Daniel at the time of the 70 years Jewish (not Israeli) Babylonian exile, perhaps into the rule of Cyrus of Persia. One’s beliefs and interpretation of Daniel can be a litmus test of conservative or liberal orthodoxy. The interpretations of Daniel’s prophecies sharply divide pre-millennial views from a-millennial views. The reader should find that the explanation in this commentary is conservative and (JIV) pre-millennial Tribulation. Enough evidence and scripture will be provided to validate this position. My basis is that the covenant made between God (pre-Jesus’s N.T. times) is not yet fulfilled and the covenant with the Church (body of Christ) is under a New covenant… the church.

Next Week- Decoding Daniel Part 2


Rev. Dr. James Stark
original copy 3/20/2013
Revised March 2, 2019

Intro to the Book of Daniel

Daniel and the Lion’s Den

The book of Daniel is one of the best-loved books of the Bible; it gives us the events of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego and the fiery furnace, Daniel in the lion’s den, Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams of a great nation (statue), and is the setting for the Book of Esther – stories that many of us learned and loved at Sunday school. However the years have come and gone and we so often tend to just skip over those quaint little histories without them having any real impact on our lives. I believe that once we have completed a serious chapter by chapter, topic by topic putting all into a historical context and the study of this amazing book, we will never be the same. This book gives us real perspective, it helps us to see things the way that God sees them – the way Daniel saw them AND the way we will see them as we near total social and political correctness per global opinions but all without God.

Daniel, whose name means ‘God is my judge’, was just a teenager, perhaps about 14, when the Babylonian army, led by king Nebuchadnezzar, came and took him, his friends and about 10,000 others of the brightest and royalty of Judah away from all they knew. They were carried them away into a distant land to a culture and language they did not know. It’s hard for us to imagine the feelings and emotions of a 14 (or so) year old young teenager being taken from the security of a family, not knowing if he would ever see them again.

Although we are told that there was not a righteous man in Jerusalem at that time (Jer 5:1; Jer 8:5-6), (hence the reason for God bringing His judgment), it would seem that there were still some God-fearing mothers, for Daniel and three of his teenage friends were brought up to know and fear God and even their names were a continual reminder of the God of Israel. But would that be enough? After all, how many young people today, after seeing all that Daniel saw, and enduring all he endured, would make a stand for God in the midst of a pagan culture?

Would YOU Stand Out?

How many of our young people leave home and go to the University of ‘Babylon’, where secular humanism rules, and find their once and hope filled faith destroyed as they become ‘free’ to do what they want? The moral constraints and stability of a home family (church and/or home) become just memories? And how many of us can truly say, as we back into the world every Monday morning, that we desire purity more than worldly pleasure?

Do we really fear God and shun evil as did Job? (Job 1:8). Do we run from temptation like Joseph? (Gen 39:12). Do we find ourselves dropping the odd expletive (Col 3:8), telling a ‘funny’ course joke to our colleagues so that we will fit into the crowd (Eph 5:4), maybe telling the occasional little ‘white’ lie (Col 3:9). “Out of the same mouth proceeds blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Does a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?” (James 3:10-11). Were you in church praising God this past Sunday then blending right back into the world on Monday? (Romans 12:1) I heard of a man who went up to a Christian once and asked: “You’re a Christian aren’t you?” The Christian replied “What makes you think that” It should be obvious to all around us. Too many Christians act as secret agents, never wanting to blow their cover.

Daniel wasn’t in Babylon long before the Babylonians could tell what was the most important thing in his life. It is my earnest prayer and desire that by the time we reach the end of this study, we too can say along with Daniel that we have ‘purposed in our hearts that we will not defile ourselves’ – no matter what the cost. No this is not the Nike-Colin Kaepernick “no matter what the cost” appeal. Their purpose is just another example of a degenerating America and profiteering. What Kaepernick, a multi-million dollar man is protesting is against the very institution that allowed him opportunity to become a wealthy man with the right to protest.

Our Christian stance at “no matter the cost” is talking about eternal things, not check book balances, TV spotlight time or fifteen minutes of camera attention. It does suggest that within Mark 8:36…”to gain the whole world but lose one’s soul” there is a deep meaning most today wish to ignore or deny…perhaps never had a clue.

Rev. Dr. Jstark

Acts 28

Well over 200 [Acts 28:37] passengers, sailors, prisoners and travelers swim, float, ride the storm waves or a piece of ship timber to the shores of Malta. As we read in Acts 27, they are on their way to Rome. They as in meaning, at minimum, Paul and Luke. Luke continues to us the plural “WE.” Paul is a prisoner but there is no reason to suggest Luke is anything but a passenger, close ally, friend of Paul and his secretary or scribe.

In comparison to significant islands, Malta sits north of Africa and south of the toe of Italy; 122 square miles of occupied island. Like most storms, rain is a major factor. Finding dry wood for fires to keep the stranded warm would be difficult. Luke puts it clearly…(v2) “The native people showed us unusual kindness, for they kindled a fire and welcomed us all, because it had begun to rain and was cold.Unusual kindness? Welcomed them (strangers)? Started the fires for them? Yes, Luke is correct per their unusual kindness. (Historical note since the Noah flood. Do we know who these people are?)J


JVI insider note: Malta was settled according to historians around the same time as the Northern Kingdom of Israel including Phoenicia were being invaded and dispersed by the Assyrians; 750 to 700 B.C. We know that there were tight bonds between the northern Tribes of Israel and the Phoenicians. So much so we also have of a name given to this mix of people – Phoenician Hebrews. History attributes the settling of Malta to Phoenicians. We also know from previous studies that the Tribe of Dan, the Merchant Marines of Egypt during the time of Israeli captivity in Egypt, settled trading posts throughout the Mediterranean including Malta. A very tight bond existed over the centuries between Phoenicians, Danites, and the Tribe of Zebulon; all seafaring people known for centuries as the “sea-people.”

Back to Acts….

Acts 28:3 is a rather startling passage. Paul, as one of the prisoners, was gathering wood for the fire(s) the Malta natives had started for them. While doing so, he is bitten by a viper sometimes known as the three-step snake. It is called that because it’s venom is very quick to paralyze the body including lungs, heart, and physical functions. But, the natives noticed in short order that Paul continued with his work after shaking the viper off his hand or wrist back into the fire.

When the viper bit Paul, the natives immediately blamed or perceived Paul as a murderer. These people believed that bad things happened as a justice system from the gods. The viper hanging from Paul’s hand was this perceived justice. But….!

TOO LATE!!!

Paul shook the viper off by hanging his hand and arm over the fire. The viper let loose now being concerned for its own life. TOO LATE. While the natives waited for Paul to show the effects of the venom

, Paul simply continued his work. Now instead of being perceived as a murderer he is elevated to the status of a god by the natives. Word spread quickly of this miracle over their three months stranded on Malta. Paul during this time healed a wealthy man on this island; one that had great property ownership [Acts 28:8]. Soon and over the three months they wintered on Malta, many other islanders brought their sick to Paul. The bible states that “ANY” who were brought to him were healed.

One must wonder what the Roman guards, sailors, passengers and other prisoners thought about this miracle stuff. A prisoner was doing nothing but good and demonstrating his connection with God. Interesting that in Acts 28:11, Luke decides to mention some of the gods of Rome such as Jupiter and the sons of Jupiter, that is, the twins Dioscuri: – Castor and Pollux. In this we may find our answer to what the Roman guards and sailors thought about Paul performing such miracles. Rome had many gods including one to their unknown god. Here is a god that heals the sick and lame; Paul’s God.

After wintering on Malta, they find another ship. Their route to Rome includes stops at Syracuse, Rhegium, Puteoli, *Appi, then by foot to Rome.

*The Appian [Appi] Way was famous for several reasons. It was a straight road that went to Rome up the Italian coast line. Hand constructed and extending well over 200 miles it was the super highway of that day. In fact the Appian Way divided at Beneventum into two parallel roads both leading to and from Brundisium, Italy. It may have been the first divided highway of record (humor intended but factual).

Fellow believers from Rome and surrounding areas somehow learned of Paul and his journey toward them. They came south to meet up with him. This tells us that there already existed believers (The Way) in Rome and Italy. We find in Acts 28:16 of another unusual event. All prisoners were then delivered to the Roman Captain of the guard, but Paul was allowed to dwell in his own place with but one guard. This put that guard under Paul’s constant witnessing and possibly healings.

Now Paul does something rather unusual but not so unusual for him. He is the guy who continually darkened the doorway to any synagogue he passed even at the threat of his life. Acts 28:17 says he called together leaders of the Jews The Way.Men and brethren, though I have committed nothing wrong against the people and the customs of our fathers…” I am here as a prisoner. He identifies both Jews and members of The Way by calling them “men” and “brethren.” He distinguishes between them because they are different groups but at the same gathering.

Even though Paul had continually been persecuted or harassed by Jewish accusers in Asia, Macedonia, Palestine, Antioch and Jerusalem, these folks in Rome claim to have heard nothing about him being accused or on trial, but they knew of him. Paul does distinguish between the two groups but here in v21, 22 we discover that the Jews of Rome thought of The Way as a sect… a group from within Judaism itself.

“We have received no letters from Judea about you, and none of the brothers coming here has reported or spoken any evil about you. But we desire to hear from you what your views are, for with regard to this *sect we know that everywhere it is spoken against.”

A *sect? The Jews of Rome knew of but did not understand The Way as some type of violation of Jewish Law but a schism within Judaism. It was similar to another denomination similar to evangelicals of today; Methodists, Baptists, Brethren, Presbyterians, etc. The Jews saw The Way as coming from within Judaism; Jewish at its roots…not to include Gentiles. Paul set out to change all of that. He is called to the Gentiles [Romans 1:13].

JIV HISTORICAL NOTATION: The Appian (high)Way is very famous and was significant to the survival of the Roman Empire itself. Plus as a very strong message to all entering the capital of the Roman Empire, there was a constant line of crucified men, woman, and children along the Appian Way. There was nothing subtle about it. Be a problem to Rome and hang for it. The practice of crucifixion is not exclusive to Mt. Calvary, that is Golgotha. This method of death was a common practice of the Roman Empire. They were brutal conquerors. Something secular history fails to point out

From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them [understand] about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets.

Act 28:24 And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved [Acts 28:23 & 24].

“‘Go to this people, and say, “You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.” For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see [become aware] with their eyes and hear with their ears [gain knowledge] and understand with their heart and turn [desire], and I would heal them.’ Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; that they will listen.”

Sounds a bit like too many churches of today. People come to hear but do not seek understanding then desire to change and take action in his or her personal life to make the change.

Rev. Dr. Jstark
Conclusion of our Book of Acts study – 2018

Acts 27

We begin this article with a quote from Coffman’s Commentary…

PAUL’S VOYAGE TO ROME:

This great chapter is an immortal work of the inspired Luke, worthy in every way as one of the great narrations in all literature, giving, as Dummelow said, “The most detailed account of an ancient voyage which we possess, and is our principal source of knowledge of the ancient art of navigation.”[1] Even scholars inclined to be critical here confess that “Luke’s whole account may be assumed to be accurate and entirely trustworthy.”

Throughout this chapter to the very end, chapter 28, Luke continues to us the plural “we.” This means he was present although there is no indication Luke was ever on trial, a prisoner, or the center of attraction subject to Sanhedrin scorn. It helps to remember that Luke was NOT a Jew or from any of the other eleven Tribes of Israel. He was a doctor and a Gentile who scribes for and traveled with Paul. He was the only non-Israeli to write any of the books of the Bible. Any person who is anti-Semite yet claims to believe in the entirety of the Bible is quite conflicted.

Paul was not the only prisoner aboard this ship…they delivered Paul and some other prisoners to a centurion of the Augustan Cohort named Julius” (Acts 27:1).

roMAN

Not too amusing but of historical significance, it was not uncommon for prisoners in other provinces of Rome to be shipped to Rome for the “entertainment” of Roman audiences in the arena. This could be for the famous Lions of prey or for Roman Gladiators to practice their art for the audiences. What a sad and Satanic cruelness. People play with or make light the realities of Satan but do not understand his application throughout history.

They board ship in Acts 27:1 with other prisoners and possibly passengers. After all, Luke was with Paul and went to Rome with Paul. Prisoners at the time were sometimes used as rowers chained to their job at the oars. Every good reason to maintain a stable voyage, but this chapter points out the significance of this comment.

Paul, although a prisoner in the sense of pending trial in Rome, is allowed to disembark and visit friends at ports of call. 27:3 states…”we put in [their ship] at Sidon. And Julius treated Paul kindly and gave him leave to go to his friends and be cared for. Julias was the prisoner charge officer aboard ship; a centurion of the Augustan Cohort or duty soldiers. At verse 6 the prisoners are transferred to a ship already bound for Italy.

Several times Luke mentions that the winds [verses 4, 7, 8, 9, & 10] are an issue to the ship. It is a prelude to pending disaster. Paul warns the ship’s masters and helmsman of the seas eerie waters. Paul states in Acts 27:10… “Sirs, I perceive that the voyage will be with injury and much loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives.roacky coast

But the ship’s Centurion paid no attention to Paul’s warning. Due to the many delays and traveling against the cautioning winds, they sought a winter harbor other than Fair Havens. It was not a suitable harbor to port up in for the winter winds and weather.

Act 27:13 Now when the south wind blew gently, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, they weighed anchor and sailed along Crete, close to the shore.

Act 27:14 But soon a tempestuous wind, called the *northeaster, struck down from the land.

Act 27:15 And when the ship was caught and could not face the wind, we gave way to it and were driven along.

*Northeasters are dangerous winds even in the Americas including by land and by sea.

The next several verses explains our opening quote as to the travels and dangers so vividly described by Luke in writing the Book of Acts. The Believers Bible Commentary puts it this way.

They tied cables around the hull of the ship to keep it from being torn apart by the heavy seas. They greatly feared they would be driven south to Syrtis, a gulf on the coast of Africa noted for its dangerous shoals. To prevent this, they struck sail and so were driven. A very real concern as to the known nautical facts of the Mediterranean Sea.

By the third a day of this leg of the journey, they began throwing things overboard to lighten their load; cargo, ship’s tackle, anything but people. Finally Paul after a long struggle to keep his tongue in check and watching the foolishness of this ship’s crew, he lets loose. I warned you in Crete not to venture out this late in the season. You refused my insight (via God). Why do we say via God? In Acts 27:23 Paul proclaims: “For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship…”

There is a sense of humor, if one would call it that, when Paul assures the crew that all will be well because he is assured by God he will stand trial before Caesar, they will be ship wrecked, the ship will be torn timber from deck and all will need to swim ashore. Other than that and being stranded for awhile, all will be just fine.

On the fourteenth night of battling winter winds on the Adriatic Sea, they sense that they are being blown toward land. They drop the four drag anchors and pray for daylight since it was midnight at this time. Then the old trick of “going for help” but intending to save their own skins alone, they set out the rescue boats under the pretense of “laying out the anchors from the bow.” Apparently it was just the ship’s sailor who were trying to escape in the ONE lifeboat. Paul tells the Centurion guard what is going on and that unless the sailors stay with the boat, they would die in the storm seas [Acts 27:31]. The soldiers cut away the ropes to the lifeboat so all will be forced to stay aboard…now finally following Paul’s directions.

They had all been so busy trying to survive the Mediterranean Sea storm, none had eaten. Paul tells them to “take bread” as they will need it shortly after being washed ashore… “for not a h air will be lost or perish.”

What happens next is amazing. All 276 people on board, believed Paul, stopped worrying, ate food, and in the presence of all, gave thanks to God and ate. They quickly followed suit, all but their own thanksgiving prayers that is. “Now after they had eaten, they tossed the ship’s load of wheat overboard.” The next move of the ship’s crew is normal protocol for any ship in a similar situation. They cut anchors, loosed the tied rudder, set sail with the wind and tried for the shoreline they could now see. Beaching the ship was their intent.

Not to happen! With the assurance Paul had given them a few verses earlier, they could have set back, let the band play on, and still be safe to the last person. They came upon a shoal or offshore reef. The ship started being torn apart plank by plank. Next move, kill the prisoners if at all possible just in case one or more escapes. What a call to duty the Roman soldiers were. Paul was now in charge. First he ordered the soldiers not to kill anyone. The word used by Luke to command or order in Greek is keleuō. It means to give instructions to “do it now.”

doitnow

First the swimmers dove in and swam to shore. Then those who could not swim grabbed hold of a floating board from the ship’s hull. Next those who hesitated had to take hold of any floating part of the ship that no longer remained below their feet. The ship was totally destroy. This may have been the first surf board race recorded in history. Everyone’s goal was to ride the surf to shore. According to the ESV: and the rest on planks or on pieces of the ship. And so it was that all were brought safely to land.

Rev Dr. Jstark
2018

Acts 25

From here to the end of the Book of Acts we see the captivity and trials of Paul to its final end in Rome. Governor Festus, unnamed chief priests, King Agrippa II with his sister*Bernice, Caesarea, all additional background leading up to Paul’s execution and the concurring Jewish revolt against Rome plus the Roman orator hired by the Sanhedrin to present their case against Paul all rolled into chapters 24 – 26. It is no wonder that there is so much tentativeness to actually conclude a trial with Paul. Roman authorities keep pushing it up the ladder finding reasons to delay sentencing an innocent man but holding him for Geo-political reasons.

Reading a glowing book

The Living Word of GOD -Connecting the dots of the history of mankind

*A student of the bible should understand that when a first person, place, or thing is identified in the bible, it isn’t an accident or something to fill a page. Emperoris one of those aha-moments in scripture. She is from Cilicia just as is Paul. She was part of the Herodian dynasty that ruled the Roman province of Judea from 55 to 93 C.E. Her father was King Herod Agrippa I. She was sister to Herod Agrippa II. She had a number of failed marriages not to make her the victim. During the First Jewish-Roman War (67 C.E.) she began a love affair with the future (Emperor) Titus Flavius Vespasian.

Acts 25:3 once again points out the deviant and abhorrent actions of the Jewish leadership. The Romans knew Jewish leadership and these people spelled trouble. Their continual trouble-making is but one reason they have been expelled from so many countries over the centuries. They continued to kick the dead horse and held grudges for years. Look at the middle east today…what has changed? Now they wanted Paul to be brought to Jerusalem so he could be killed while in route. A plan derailed by Governor Felix. Probably because Paul appealed to Caesar.derailed

Governor Festus being the new guy on the block denied permission to take Paul to Jerusalem for additional prosecution (perhaps persecution) by the Jewish courts. He kept this under his thumb and said he would judge, not the Jews of the Jerusalem Sanhedrin. At the same time as history records, the Romans knew that the Jews were a force with which they must be aware. He listened to the charges against Paul none of which they could prove. Acts 25:8 is the beginning of Paul’s defense and from his own mouth…

Paul argued in his defense, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I committed any offense.”

Governor Festus wanting to placate the Jews asked Paul if he would go to Jerusalem to be tried. Paul responds that he is already standing in front of the “authority” of this area. Why go there only to stand in front of the same man? Paul is very forthright. He states in v11 that if he committed a crime worth death, he would not resist the executioner. At this point [Acts 25:11] Paul assures his trip to Rome by “appealing to Caesar;” i.e. Emperor Nero. There is great turmoil in the Roman Empire at this time; Emperor Nero the firebug and the pending Jewish revolt.

Acts 25:13 is interesting. Look back at the aster-ix on page one describing the shifty Bernice and her brother King Agrippa II. They show up at Caesarea; a brother and a sister. She was obviously of some influence over her brother. In v14 Governor Felix explains to King Agrippa that Paul is a left over case from the former governor Felix. Governor Felix had already tried Paul and found him innocent but to gain some favor with the insistent and persistent Jews he left Paul in prison. Now it is Governor Felix’s problem. He is very befuddled.

(v14) Festus laid Paul’s case before the king, saying, “There is a man left prisoner by Felix, and when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews laid out their case against him, asking for a sentence of condemnation against him.

Felix explains to King Agrippa II (and) Bernice that the problem with Paul is Jewish religion, attitude, and some guy named Jesus. This would lead us to believe they did NOT KNOW about the crucifixion of Jesus only 20 years earlier. Since these Roman leaders were supposedly “in the know” due to their authority, political position and knowledge, we can deduce that the gospel message was still limited in its scope, reach, and frequency. Felix points out part of the argument between Paul and the Jews was that this Jesus was supposed to be dead per the Jews but yet he was very much alive per Paul.

ceremonialKing Agrippa II states that he would like to hear from this man named Paul. [v22]. Whether it was to see and hear from Paul or the pomp and circumstances provided him at this meeting Agrippa wanted (see verse 23) is unknown. However the bible includes “Agrippa and Bernice came with great pomp, and they entered the audience hall with the military tribunes and the prominent men of the city. Sounds very ceremonial. Not an uncommon aspect of the Herods; Idumean by blood; that is offspring of Esau, twin of Jacob.

...but I found nothing deserving of death” explains Felix to Agrippa. What Governor Felix is searching for is an accusation worthy of “appealing to Caesar.” He would need to or to the Emperor with some degree of criminality for even sending Paul to Rome. As we close chapter 25 Felix states it in his own words: “For it seems to me unreasonable, in sending a prisoner (to Rome), not to indicate the charges against him.”

Rev. Dr. Jstark
December 2018

Acts 23

When it was day, the Jews made a plot and bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink till they had killed Paul.”

This oath comes from Acts 23:12. If these Jews stayed true to their oath, then they all died of thirst or hunger. What sinister plot is going to sway the hand of God? NONE!

none

Knowing that this period of Paul’s imprisonment in Jerusalem while under Roman protection began with his arrest and rescue by Roman Tribune Claudius Lysias, as recorded in the last chapter of Acts. This imprisonment [lasts until the conclusion of The Book of Acts]. [Coffman’s Bible Commentary]

Paul’s first defense was on the steps of the Roman Garrison’s barracks. See Acts 22 article. Keep well in mind that these are very likely to be some if not all of the same Sanhedrin bunch that condemned Jesus to the cross. Paul is not talking to a second or third generation of people. These are for the most part, the same Jewish leaders. How frustrated they must be at this point when the one they killed (Jesus) for his message did not stop the message. Paul, Peter, James, Phillip, and a large number (recall in our previous article…”thousands”) of people becoming believers and followers of this Messiah.

Acts emphasizes that simply being well-minded, good in consciousness, or sincere does not pave the path to Heaven. There is but one way to see the God the Father; it is by Jesus his only begotten son [John 6:44; John 14:6]. To be blunt…sell out to Jesus. Need more evidence? Look at John 16:2.

SELL OUT.jpg

SELL OUT 

[ESV] “People will tell you to *leave their synagogues and never come back. In fact, the time will come when they will think that by killing you they have done God a good service.”

*JIV NOTE: A pastor by the name of Schwartz and probably others is a modern day example of this prophecy. He accepted the pulpit call to a mid-west church in America only to be asked in very shot order to “leave” their church (synagogue). He preached the gospel and they said that there will be none of that around there.

Point being…these people as Jesus states from his own mouth in John 16:2 will be of good conscience, sincere, and well-minded. They have served god (little g) by arresting and killing Christians. It takes little knowledge to grasp at the probability of End Time leaders and Satan himself encouraging such sincerity. As we read on in Acts 23, we even personally find a time when those standing next to Paul are instructed by the High Priest Ananias to strike Paul (us) in the mouth for what Paul (we) states [Acts 23:2]. After being struck, Paul retorts that action of being struck without cause will come back right back at this high priest. What you have done to me will also me done to you. Paul did not know that this was the High Priest giving the order. He does not apologize but points out that now only did the Law of Moses forbid such action, but he, Paul, was obliged by the same Law of Moses to withhold criticizing their leadership (Acts 23: 5).

Paul may not have realized his statement to this high priest was prophetic. “Ananias was High Priest between 47 and 52 A.D. Then again up to 59 A.D. These secular dates help us to know the time period of this incident. An aside but of historical fact, Ananias was murdered by some of his own people after being acquitted of scandalous activities.” [Ananias“. Encyclopædia Britannica.] 1 (11th ed.)

In 66 C.E. The first Jewish revolt against the Romans started. It lasted until 70 or 71 C.E.

Now Paul uses his knowledge of the Sanhedrin make-up of Sadducee, Pharisee, and others. Pharisees believed in an after-life, a resurrection, final judgment and angels. The Sadducee did not. Paul brings this difference of opinion into the conference while in front of the Roman Tribune commander.

Acts 23:6… Paul knew that some of the men in the council meeting were Sadducees and some were Pharisees. So he shouted, “My brothers, I am a Pharisee and my father was a Pharisee! I am on trial here because I believe that people will rise from death.”

That comment is all it took. Now the accusers were in a fight between themselves (v6). Sadducee believed that once dead, eternally dead. No resurrection, no angels, no after life, no spirit. Once their argument got heated, the Pharisees stood up and contested that they see nothing wrong or of a crime committed by Paul (v9). The Pharisee vs. Sadducee fight got so heated and became so violent the Tribune commander ordered Paul to be taken back to the military barracks for protection.

JIV NOTE: There are not three groups of Synagogue peoples; Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes. Both Pharisees and Sadducees had members among them that were also scribes.

We need to go back to verse 3 for some clarification. Paul called this so-called high priest a “whitewash or painted wall” that covers dirt behind it. History tells us what Paul was very likely indicating but the bible does not. Ananias had “purchased” his position of high priest. The ESV Study Bible points out that Ananias was a particularly bad high priest; a bad guy even before he became high priest. Josephus says he confiscated for himself the tithes given the ordinary priests and gave lavish bribes to Romans and also Jews (cf. Antiq. XX, 205-7 [ix.2], 213 [ix.4]). He was hated by what we would call Jewish nationalists. They wanted Israel first; others second or third. Ananias muddied this water with politics, Roman alliances, bribes, and seeking favors with a gratitude debt.

Anianias was a brutal and scheming man, hated by Jewish nationalists for his pro-Roman policies. When the [Jewish] war with Rome began in A.D. 66, the [Jewish] nationalists burned his house (cf. Jos. War II, 426 [xvii.6]) and he was forced to flee to the palace of Herod the Great in the northern part of Jerusalem (ibid., 429 [xvii.6]). Ananias was finally trapped while hiding in an aqueduct on the palace grounds and was killed along with his brother *Hezekiah (ibid., 441-42 [xvii.9]).

JIV NOTE: *Not Hezekiah the Judean King. *Rome burned the Temple to the ground in 70 C.E.

So for him to be a legal high priest in the line of Aaron was a real stretch and a whitewash facade. He wasn’t even a Levite. Paul either in ignorance or the possibility of knowing that Ananias got the office by politics and bribery did not recognize him as legitimate therefore his “whitewash” comment.

Here we find another visitation from heaven either in a vision or angelic. Verse 11 says this message from above tells Paul that what he has done in Jerusalem he must also do in Rome. This assures Paul that he is not going to die at the hands of this mob or in this city. But, this did not mean the contemptible Jews heard that message. They plotted to once again kill Paul. They go to Ananias and ask him to have the Roman Tribune bring Paul to the Sanhedrin so he could better clarify his position. While being transferred to the Sanhedrin from the military barracks these 40 some men would attack and kill Paul. We have no clue what they would do with the Roman guard with Paul.

We now see this article’s opening statement about some Jews who had taken a vow to not eat or drink until Paul is silenced by death. Once again these guys must starve to death because God had just assured Paul that he “must go to Rome.” In Acts 23:16 we discover something about Paul we did not know up to now. He had a nephew, son of Paul’s sister. His nephew heard of the plot, went to the army barracks, and told Paul. Paul sent his nephew with another soldier to the commander of the Romans in Jerusalem. He relays the same message of the plot the nephew overheard directly to the commander.

Now we see something by default. The Romans may have conquered and ruled the land but to some degree did not trust and perhaps feared Jewish revolts. Why? We find that answer in how the commander reacts. Acts 23:23 states:

Then the commander called two army officers. He said to them, “I need some men to go to Caesarea. Get 200 soldiers ready. Also, get 70 soldiers on horses and 200 men to carry spears. Be ready to leave at nine o’clock tonight.”

The Roman commander did not wish a standoff against these Jewish insurgents. He order Paul transferred out of Jerusalem immediately; by 9:00 that same evening. He sends Paul to Governor Felix along with a letter of some explanation. By now the commander had to wonder about these Jews. Why were they so determined to kill a man who some of their own leadership, the Pharisees, claimed he was not guilty of any crime against the State of Judaism.

Verse 26 is where we discover the name of this commander and Tribune…Claudius Lysias. It is in the heading of the letter to Governor Felix that Luke includes in this passage of Acts. He explains in a short note that there was almost a riot in Jerusalem requiring he call out the troops to protect a man named Paul. He ordered a command of troops to take Paul to Felix; one well prepared to defend themselves and Paul if necessary. Once out of town, the horse soldiers continue on with Paul to see Felix.

Secular histories tell us that the First Jewish War against the Romans was between 66 and 70 C.E. Now we may better understand the tensions that already existed in this land.

Governor Felix asks Paul what country is he from. Paul tells him Cilicia. He then agrees to hear the case once Paul’s accusers arrive. He is held in the great palace that King Herod had built for himself long ago.

Rev. Dr. Jstark

November 2018