Decoding Daniel – Part 2

research

RESEARCH

When doing research I am always personally open to the possibility of what I set out to discover and validate ends up changing my mind or position in some way, major ways, or affirm my position. It is called UNDERSTANDING. I leave my doors of new knowledge open to these possibilities. This position is also steeped into reasoning out why Daniel is written in Syriac/Aramaic (non-Israelis) and in Hebrew (to the Tribes of Jacob and the Old Testament Covenant).

Much of Daniel’s chapter 8-12 prophecies are exclusive to the Israelites (12 Tribes) with particular attention given to the Tribe and Kingdom of Judah then dispersed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. to a 70 year captivity; i.e. better said not allowed to return to Judah/Jerusalem. The Kingdom of Israel meaning the Northern Ten Tribes were dispersed by Assyrians in 732 B.C. and again in 720 B.C. In 605 B.C. and again in 586 B.C. the Kingdom of Judah went into their 70 year exile. Gentiles (the church) can safely consider that we are not in the same river or current of future events as those promised to God’s chosen People. Christians; i.e. The Church of believers may NOT be the primary target in some of Daniel’s prophecies, but could be caught up in the vacuum of events in Israel as Christians if the Church is not a pre-tribulation rapture event. If the Tribulation is targeted to Israel alone, the church body of believers will already be missing due to the Rapture (the pre-tribulation, pre-millennial view).

My sources represent a mix of liberal and conservative scholarly theologians who hold diverse views. These will be listed separately at the end of this work-in-progress study of Daniel. In no-way can I conclude or offer possible insights to all of the meaningful sources until they have been added to this work-in-progress. I will attempt to weed out that which is purely speculation, one-sided denomination planks, tickling ear syndrome not supported by scripture.

In this initial commentary, it is my goal to begin the awareness and some loose understanding of the prophetic blend and practical teachings of the Book of Daniel. God the Father ultimately controls every nation, having determined the times set for them and the exact places where these events will unfold. For that reason, I have structured Decoding Daniel upon God’s Sovereignty in the Rise [and fall] of *Four Hebrew, Five World Empires, and their Princes. These men and nations are but a methodology used of God to fulfill his covenants with Old Testament Israel (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) and the Church established in the early pages of the New Testament. *Four Hebrew powers: 1) the Judges; 2) the Nation of Israel; 3) the divided Kingdoms of Israel and Judah; 4) the Covenant with His people to bring them back to a Promised Land but yet to be fulfilled; i.e. a work still in progress.important-

IMPORTANT JIV NOTE: We should conclude by the end of this Bible study that politics is nothing more than an earthly tool of Satan to distract, derail, confuse and hide the fact that the real issues is between Lucifer’s fall from Heaven and God’s creation giving mankind, made in HIS own image, the opportunity to share in Satan’s destiny or God’s preferred destiny.

The importance of the Book of Daniel

  1. It is an indispensable introduction to New Testament prophecy.
  2. It bridges the gap between Israel’s historical books and the New
    Testament.
  3. It reveals details about the *comings of the Anointed One, the Antichrist and other princes.
      1. The coming of Christ, anointed Son of God
      2. The Rapture of the Church
      3. Jesus on the Throne during the Millennial reign from Jerusalem
  1. It tells of the Tribulation, followed by the Lord’s return to rule from the Throne of David in Jerusalem for 1,000 years.
  2. It speaks about the resurrections and the judgments of God.
  3. It covers “the Times of the Gentiles.”
  4. It shows that God is sovereign in the affairs of man.
  5. It provides compelling evidence that there is a God in heaven who rules history.
  6. It uncovers a great spiritual warfare among the angelic and demonic forces.
  7. It illustrates what true dedication to God means, and what God is willing to do through and for those who are committed to Him.
  8. It provides a solid basis for comfort in the midst of adversity.
  9. It discloses Godly principles for politicians and officials.
  10. It offers hope for God’s people so they will not fall away.
  11. It challenges God’s people to faithfulness and perseverance.
  12. It contains an unusual amount of practical truth that is applicable to Christians today.
  13. It predicts an everlasting kingdom ruled by the Son of Man.

During the Olivet Discourse Jesus directed our attention to the prophet Daniel (Matthew 24:15). By referring to Daniel, Jesus was drawing our attention to some of the most amazing last day prophecies of the Bible. Daniel’s prophecies were written during the sixth century BC, after the Babylonians had conquered Israel and taken them into captivity. Secular theologians state it was written in the first century BC due to its accuracy. Daniel received several visions and prophecies during this time, beginning when he was a youth under king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. The Olivet Discourse didn’t happen until several hundred years later; about 30 A.C.

The Apocrypha adds three additional moments to Daniels’ life in Babylon. These events are found in Bel and the Dragon found in the Vulgate as Daniel 14; Susanna found in the Vulgate as Daniel 13; *The Song of the Three Children; Vulgate, Daniel 3:24-90. The standard Evangelical Bible typically stops after chapter 12 in the Book of Daniel.

* This passage includes the sorrowful prayer of Azariah (Abednego) in Babylonian while the three youths were in the fiery furnace. It is a brief account of a figure who met them in the furnace and was unburned (an angel, or interpreted by fundamental Christians as a pre-figurement of Jesus Christ, in the same vein as Melchizedek); and the hymn of praise they sang (with the refrain, “Praise and exalt Him above all forever…”, repeated many times, each naming a feature of the world) when they realized they were delivered.

AHAMOMENT: The history of Hanania, Misheal, and Azariah (Shadrach, Meshach and Abendego) was under Nebuchadnezzar, a Babylonian King. The historical reference to Danial in the Lion’s Den was over 70 years later under the new Medo-Persian Ruler, Cyrus. These are NOT stories. They are history that ss to some degree mentioned on the *Black Oblisk and other written tablets of ancient Babylon and Persia.

* Black Obelisk of the Assyrian King Shalmaneser III

 

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

 

Acts 24

palace2

King Herod’s Palace

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. This is where we left off in our previous Acts article, chapter 23.

High Priest Ananias is summoned to appear before Felix arriving five days late. He brings along a spokesperson. Interestingly the bible calls him, not a lawyer but an hray’-tore; an orator, someone skilled in the use of language and persuasion. We already know by Paul’s own words that he himself is not a man of flowing words nor trained in such [1 Corinthians 2:1 & 2 Corinthians 11:6]. No doubt the Sanhedrin charges against him had knowledge of this. Their hopes probably were that since they know Paul had not committed a crime against Rome, by comparison, a fluent and influential speaker named Tertullos could simply make Paul sound foolish. What is even more interesting is that this Tertullos is a Roman, not even a Jew or from the Sanhedrin.

This polished orator begins this case by flattering Felix as to *how quiet it is around this Roman province and kingdom. Keep in mind as pointed out in the previous JIV NOTE that just a couple years later, there is a significant 4 or 5 year Jewish revolt against Rome. Rome retaliates by destroying the very Temple these guys from Jerusalem are saying Paul disparaged. So much for flattery even Festus recognized. Recall that Festus replaced Felix as governor and was “the new sheriff “ in this Roman Province. He was handed the case by the outgoing Felix who left Paul in prison [Acts 24:27] “because he perceived it pleased the Jewish leadership.”

*JIV NOTE: Two years after Paul began his two year “imprisonment’ in Caesarea, the Roman governor Felix put down a Jewish uprising with such brutality that the Jewish Sanhedrin complained bitterly to Rome. Felix was recalled to Rome and Porcius Festus had just arrived in the Roman “province” (Acts 25:1) of Judea as its new governor.

KEEP THE PREVIOUS MENTIONED JEWISH REVOLTING!!!

This Roman orator hired by the Sanhedrin drops the blame of the Jewish unrest in this province of Rome right into the lap of Paul (Acts 24:5a). “This man is a plague who stirs up the Jews.” So it is all Paul’s fault that the Jews as a whole people hate the Romans. Hmmmm?

Dr. JStark

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

Acts 9 –The Way?

Can one be totally dedicated to a cause not knowing s/he is on the wrong side? This is Saul in the first couple verses of Acts 9. He witnessed the stoning of Stephen in chapter 8. Now he sets out with a mission of destruction to what verse 2 in Acts 9 calls members of (ESV) The Way.

one way

There is only ONE WAY!

He goes to the Chief Priest asking for what we would call in today’s language, warrants to arrest any Jews who proclaim Christ as Savior. The Jewish Sanhedrin had no jurisdiction over Gentiles or Gentile believers but if a Jew, one would fall under the Roman authorized and supported Jewish (Judaism) leadership and the Sanhedrin. This seems odd for a power like Rome to defer to another authority within its own domain. Especially after the trouble the Jews caused for them. This, in fact all changes in 70 A.D. when the Romans finally destroy the Temple and Jewish independence; about 30 years from this point in Acts 9.

Oddly as it may seem, Saul, soon to be evangelist Paul, the one seeking authority to destroy The Way (Christians), is one of the primary reasons Rome turns on both the Jews and the Christians. This chapter in Acts is known as The Damascus Road chapter. Saul sees a bright light from heaven as he travels to Damascus with warrants in hand. His accompanying comrades or Temple Police witness the voice event but see nothing or no one. “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? (Acts 9:4 – ESV)

Saul replies “Who are you, Lord?” The fact is the word he used in the Greek, LORD (kurios) means “supreme being.” Saul already knew the answer to his own question. Jesus simply takes him to a moment or reality…”I am Jesus, the one you persecute.”

JIV: This is a moment of past, present and future per those who call upon the name of the Lord as Christians. Saul knew well of the crucifixion of Jesus only a few years earlier. He is now talking to the same one he in spirit helped to kill.  Saul saw Christianity as a great threat to Judaism. We now move from God (Old Testament) to Jesus (New Testament); one and the same but a change from Judaism to Christianity…another way of defining this moment.

Paul is told by The Voice of The Way to continue on to Damascus, but he is now blind. There is great symbolism in him being blind. John 9:25 reads…”I was blind but now I see.” This passage reports a miracle of Jesus. There is something of huge value in temporarily retreating to this passage in John 9. Jesus is asked by his disciples “why is this man blind? What sin did he do that blinded him? HERE IS THE KEY VERSE: (ESV) “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” This man had a difficulty or birth defect for one purpose…so that “the works of God (be shown) through his healing.” Why am I diseased? Why am I a cripple? Why do I have cancer? Why is it such a young person died? Why does God let this or that happen? So that the works of God may be shown (given opportunity) to show through him or her. It may not always be an earthly healing we see, but we do see the “works of God” manifesting in his or her life.

Amazingly, a leadership of Judaism, this time the Pharisees, questioned the blind man’s healing. He claims it was Jesus. As it states in verse 9, some tried to convince themselves it was a look-a-like person who was now seeing. The blind guy must have stepped off the face of the map because such a thing cannot be done…so they thought (see Acts 9:28)

The Pharisees cry that since it was the Sabbath it couldn’t be of God. It was traditionally a day of peace and rest. By Jewish Law work was forbidden on the Sabbath. This reminds us of Colossians 2:16…” Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath.” …or what day one calls his or her Sabbath? Man-made tradition and rules!!!! We have so many man-made rules we don’t know the difference between what scriptures actually tell us and what some theologian or denominational doctrine tell us is as much gospel as the Gospels themselves. How will we understand if we do not know? How will we know or have true knowledge if we are not personally aware of bible facts by study?

In desperation, verses 18 and 23, the Pharisees call the healed man’s parents to testify if this is really their “from birth” blind son? They say YES but in fear of the authority of the Sanhedrin, they defer to their son saying, “Ask him. He is of age.”

In Acts 9:22 the finality of being sanctioned from the synagogue or as in Catholicism, excommunicated, was foremost in his parents’ mind. As a Jew, to say Jesus was the Christ (Messiah), was fatal. They passed the buck to their healed son. This reminds us of the End Time reference found in Luke 12:53; Father against son, son against father; mother against daughter, daughter against mother. See below copy of ancient fragments discovered in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

This fragment states of a time yet to come when such will be fact!

It actually addresses a time when the sons of light will battle with the sons of darkness. By implication we can deduce this will be a time of great distress and no one trusting another.

Now the Pharisees get religious. In verses 24, 25 they tell him to give glory to God for this man (Jesus) is a sinner for having worked on their Sabbath. The healed man simply says, whether he is a sinner of not I do not know. But, once I was blind and now I see.

Here is a point too often missed from the pulpit or the Sunday Bible study hour. He healed man says “whether Jesus was a sinner or not, he did not know.” Hmmmm?

Now it gets real interesting. The Pharisees question him again but the healed man gets frustrated with their persistence. He tells them, I already answered your questions. What is wrong with you? In essence, what is it you don’t understand about me being healed? Do you wish to become his disciples (learners)? The Pharisees make a fatal statement…(V28) “And they reviled him, saying, “’You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses’.” They don’t even claim to be disciples of the God they had just ordered the healed man to give glory (v24). They are students of Moses whom they never personally knew from 1,500 years earlier in Hebrew history. Jesus they can see at this time.

Then the Pharisees get totally outwitted by the healed man and “cast him out” of their presence (9:34).

Just above in this article you should have read a hmmmmm statement. The healed man did not know if his healer (Jesus) was a sinner or not. Now we find the answer. Recall that Jesus mudded the eyes of the man commanding him to go to the Pool of Salome to wash off the mud. He did NOT KNOW what Jesus looked like as his previous contact with him was when he was still blind. His faith did not heal him and he knew not Jesus.

Beginning at Acts 9:35, we must read the conversation that followed when the healed man was cast out of the presence of the Pharisees.

Joh 9:35  Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”

Joh 9:36  He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?”

Joh 9:37  Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.”

Joh 9:38  He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.

Joh 9:39  Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.”

Joh 9:40  Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?”

Joh 9:41  Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.

Jesus finds the man a second time and asks him if he is aware of who is “the Son of Man?” He says no but I want to believe. Who is he? Jesus tells him, “It is I who stands in front of you.” So often, in fact too often we hear that JESUS IS LOVE without hearing the rest of the detail (story as Paul Harvey once proclaimed on radio). Jesus said he came to judge (v39). The only reason that the Pharisees had any sense of guilt is the closing verse. In simplified English, if you were not aware you would not know or understand. But now that you are aware, you are guilty.

cropped-minijim1Rev. Dr. Jstark
August 2018

Acts Chapter 5

puzzleThere is more to knowing and understanding the historical record of Ananias and Sapphira as is usually preached from Acts 5. If one is not familiar with this passage, the apostles were collecting funds as needed and volunteered by other believers to feed their widowed. There was an issue between the Hellenist Jews and the Jerusalem Jews where one group seemed to be getting more than the other. We will address this in chapter six of the Book of Acts article. For now it is Ananias and Sapphira.

In agreement with each other, this couple sold some property for the expressed purpose of contributing to the “widow Fund.” It seems that they had an ulterior motive; to look good amongst their fellow believers per contribution. In a real sense this is reflected per an attitude in Mark 12:38-44.

(In brief) In His teaching Jesus was saying: “Beware of the scribes who like to walk around in long robes, and like respectful greetings in the market places, and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets… and for appearance’s sake offer long prayers; these will receive greater condemnation. They made much ado about dropping their tithe in to the collection box. The noisier the better and greater likelihood others will make note of their abundance in generosity.”

This is what is usually pointed out in lessons and preaching; the fact that Ananias and Sapphira wanted all to know they gave so much to this cause of widow funds. Peter challenged Ananias as to whether or not the amount he gave was the same as for what he sold his property? He said yes. He died on the spot as it was not so. He wanted to deceive those in witness regarding his generosity by confirming that the amount given was the amount collected.honest

Three hours later his wife came looking for him. She must have wondered what was holding him up. Perhaps he was being celebrated for such generosity and she wanted her fair share of the attention. Peter asked if the amount her husband had given as an offering and as he had claimed was the price of the property sold. As previously agreed with Ananias, she also said yes. Sapphira also died on the spot.

This is the content of Acts 5:1-10 but the context is more than the historical facts recorded in the bible per Peter, widows, Ananias, and Sapphira. It is what this meant and remains true today per our relationship with others and the Holy Spirit. It may not be directly connected but keep in thought that “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit” is the one unforgivable sin.

Matthew 12:31-32

“Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. “Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.

Luke 12:10

“And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him.

Acts 5:3 & 9 are too often given little attention in a Sunday School lesson or from the pulpit. We lie to each other in order to deceive. But, the same sin is not a deception of the Holy Spirit but a blatant lie. In other words, we can deceive each other but not the Holy Spirit. He is part of the trinity God-head; all knowing, ever present, and all knowledgeable. What fool thinks a deception of other humans is also a possibility with God? We deceive each other but can only lie to the Holy Spirit.

Acts 5:13 is of particular note. It reads… (ESV) “and more than ever believers were added to the Lord…men and women.” The word “believers” is pisteuō in the Greek. It means to put one’s confidence in. It is more than acknowledging something to be true, it is putting one’s trust and life (living) in it; a new way of life. To be a true believer is to accept and to live out one’s faith of confidence.

Beginning at verse 17 the true heart of the Jewish (religion) leaders is exposed. Verse 17 says that the leaders were “jealous.” They see their Judaism flock flooding to Peter consequently putting him in the public spot light and not them. It isn’t that Peter wants the spot light, but the Sanhedrin bunch sure wish it. So what do they do? Arrest Peter and company in the name of their self-proclaiming righteous positions inside the Jewish community.

In short, Peter and his companions are under lock, key and guard. What happens next is amazing. Verse 19: (ASV) “But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors and brought them out…” Two great mysteries are found here per this angelic prison escape. We find both in verse 23 of Acts 5. The prison doors were found soundly locked the next morning, and two, the prison guards were still standing at the prison doors unaware of any “escape.” Peter and his co-conspirators per the Sanhedrin, walked out of prison unnoticed and without unlocking the doors.

JIV: (Jim’s Introspective View) The Greek word for ‘open’, as in the passage where the Angel of the Lord opens the prison doors, is anoigō. It can be used literally or figuratively. Either the prison guards were made total unaware of their surroundings and blinded to the actuality of the event or they made consciously blind and Peter along with the angel of the Lord simply walked through the ‘door’ way open or figuratively speaking.

What a shock it had to be the next morning when the Sanhedrin assembled to ‘judge’ these Jesus preaching individuals, seeking them in their prison cells but found them in the Temple witnessing just as they were doing previous to their in initial arrests (verse 25). But in verse 24 we read that the Jewish leadership and captain of the guard were “perplexed.” This means they were trying to find a rational explanation to this unexplainable event. Even in full view of this miracle, they refused to see the truth. This is one of Satan’s most powerful tools of deception.

Acts 5:28 supports this self-deception of the Sanhedrin and guards. The Jewish legal system peaceably gather Peter and company from the Temple a second time and tell them to basically…don’t do that or this again; we forbid it.” Following this warning we find in verse 30, Peter points out that they must follow God not the whims of religious dictums. He also reminds this Sanhedrin bunch, many being the very same people who had condemned Jesus but a few years earlier, that it was them who crucified Christ Jesus. He put the blame right at their feet. This reminder, plus their efforts to forget the crucifixion made them want to kill them on the spot. Gamaliel, one of their own Sanhedrin members, cautioned them that this is either not of God and will go away on its own or if of God, they must not kill again adding to their guilt of crucifying Jesus.

What an example of to be and to live a life in Christ. Verse 42 specifies that Peter and his entourage kept witnessing door to door and teaching in the Temple. At no time did Peter invite unbelievers to join in the fellowship and worship of believers. He went to them. Has the modern day evangelical church got it wrong? ABSOLUTELY!

cropped-minijim1Rev. Dr. James Stark
August 2018

A Study in Acts-the History

Historical Information on Acts

Dr. jStark

Bible School 2017-2018

The great German composer Ludwig van Beethoven is still remembered around the world for his beautiful and skillful compositions. But as wonderful as his musical scores are in themselves, his works are even more impressive when we learn that Beethoven suffered progressive hearing loss that began when he was a young man. In fact, it is astounding to realize that Beethoven wrote many of his greatest works when he was entirely deaf. Knowing the background of Beethoven’s life makes his music all the more impressive.

In important ways, appreciating the Scriptures is similar to appreciating Beethoven. It isn’t difficult to see the power and clarity with which the various books of the Bible proclaim God’s revelation. But when we learn about the backgrounds of the writers of the Bible, their world, their lives and their purposes, our understanding and appreciation of the Scriptures becomes much deeper.

Acts of the Apostles: Critical verse to this study of Acts is in Hebrew 10:25 (last line…”*as we see the end time day drawing nigh”) *”as” (hosos) means:  how much; how many; whoever.

History and Background Information

Luke wrote two, possibly three New Testament books: Luke, Acts and possibly some of Hebrews. Acts is the second of these books. At the end of the gospel of Luke Jesus says “that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” In the Book of Acts he picks it up where he leaves it off in Luke. We see the fulfillment of Christ’s words as the apostles carry the gospel to the world. See Luke 24:48-53. Luke is the third of the four Gospels. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are called synoptic gospels.

The Book of Acts is the FIRST account of the original church. In brief it covers the period of time between Jesus’ resurrection and the death of the Apostle Paul. Often Luke reverts to the inclusive or plural pronoun “we” in his writing. This is probably when he references him and Paul with others who may be present at that time. Some try to discredit Luke as author when all Luke is doing is including himself and probably Paul.

According to legend, Paul died by execution at the time when “firebug” Roman Emperor Nero was looking for a scape goat per the burning of parts of Rome. He started with the Apostle Paul then continued by accusing the new sect of religion called “THE WAY;” i.e. Christians. The Romans originally saw Christianity as an offshoot of Judaism since the original “church” consisted of Jews (Israelites). They identified themselves as The Way.”

Dictionary: The “Way” with a capital “W” was the early name for followers of Jesus. Considered a sect of Judaism, later in Acts 11 it is replaced with the term “Christian.” The first of only six biblical references, all in Acts, occurs as Saul obtained letters to arrest members of the “Way” in Damascus, immediately after stoning “Way” follower Stephen in Jerusalem. (Acts 9:2, 19:9, 19:23, 22:4, 24:14, 24:22)

This by itself reminds me of Matthew 16 per our understanding or lack of it… (Matthew 16:2, 3; NASB)
turkey-red sky
The Pharisees and Sadducees came up, and testing Jesus, they asked Him to show them a sign from heaven. But He replied to them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times?

This reminds me of a man who once came up and asked for a Word for him from God. While acknowledging the request the reply was almost spontaneous. Turning to the man asking for “a word” I replied… “God said, ‘Ask him yourself but don’t forget to listen to what He tells you.’”

We will follow an outline of Acts provided in small sections with an applicable article with each section of the building outline in this new study. Acts is the ORIGINAL Acts of the Apostles Peter then Paul, the early church, and the acts of the early church. Today’s church is a far thing from what the early church did. This too will be discussed; sometimes in detail. For now, let’s begin with:

OUTLINE of ACTS: (Part 1)

  1. It appears that Luke set out to show in two volumes how redemption came to mankind.
      1. Luke relates the coming of a Redeemer who died for our sins, rose in triumph, and looked to the time when mankind might share in salvation. Luke 24:46­-47.
      2. Volume II (Acts) takes up the narrative at that point and shows how over a period of about 30 years the gospel went from Jerusalem to Rome.
      3. The Gospel he wrote tells about the things “Jesus began both to do and to teach.” Acts 1:1.
      4. Acts tells what Jesus brought about through the Holy Spirit’s continuation of his work. Acts 1:8; cf. John 16:13.
  1. Based on volume/content, Luke, not Paul, wrote over one ­fourth of the entire New Testament.
  2. The Acts of the Apostles is a crucial part of Holy Scripture.
      1. It tells of the establishment of the church.
      2. It describes the growth (amid frequent perils) of the church and records the gospel’s amazing spread through the Roman Empire.
      3. It gives inspiring accounts of great persons who loved not their lives unto death; people who loved Jesus more than life itself.

Jeremiah 52 ( part b –52 of 52 chapters)

Book of Jeremiah

OUR LAST POST ON OUR STUDY ON JEREMIAH! (A NEW STUDY Coming Soon!

There is reasonable consideration or allowance for this final chapter in Jeremiah, although penned by Baruch, was also authored by him, not Jeremiah per dictation. In a sense it is a summary of the previous 51 chapters from prophecies to fulfillments. Bright quotes: “In its present context the chapter seems to say: the divine word both has been fulfilled – and will be fulfilled!” Bright is pointing out that there was both imminent and eminent prophecy in Jeremiah; similar outcomes but two very different time periods. One was a current event and the others are events yet to happen.

Let’s not forget or learn for the first time, the Book of Lamentations, the book following Jeremiah, is also Jeremiahs’ pen. In Lamentations he did not lament the Babylonian captivity as much as his fellow countrymen not heading his warnings.  We will only point out a few incidents in this chapter that should be reviewed per chapter 52 since it does summarize the previous 51 chapters. We encourage the reader to take it upon her or his-self to read the Book of lamentation to add depth of understanding.

Jeremiah 34 to 36 describes the situation in Judah before the fall. Chapter 37 to 39 describe the time of the fall of the kingdom of Judah. Chapter 40 to 45 describes the fulfillment of the prophecy and fall of Judah; a fall that remains contested to this date. That will only change upon the second advent of Jesus when he returns to earth as King of kings. C40 to 45 is consequential to the fall but chapter 46 to 51 describe and End Time element that includes the judgment of not only the world opposed to Israel but judgement awaiting the unbelieving Gentiles.

If we back up to Jeremiah 30 to 33 we find the “hope of a future” Jerusalem. Let’s review some of the major players in Jeremiah. One of them is a person named Shaphan. Biblical account. When the chief Temple priest Hilkiah discovers an ancient Torah scroll, he gives it to the scribe Shaphan, who in turn brings in to King Josiah. Josiah reads it aloud to a crowd in Jerusalem, resulting in a great religious revival. Josiah was the last good king.

Shaphan’s sons play significant roles in Jeremiah:C52 chart1

The chronology of rulers on the throne in Jerusalem during the time of Jeremiah:

kings

JIV NOTE: I did not include King Jehoiachin (Jeconiah) in the above chart. He only ruled 3 months 10 days. He followed his father Jehoiakim to the throne but was removed by Nebuchadnezzar almost upon his taking the throne. A fascinating and historical connection or ahamoment is found in 1 Chronicles.  It states that Jeconiah (Jehoiachin) is the father of Pedaiah. That in and of itself means little, but Pedaiah was the father of Zerubbabel.  It was Zerubbabel along with Ezra who lead the first Judeans out of captivity in Babylon back to Judah. He also set the foundations for the second temple according to Ezra 5:2.

Chapters 30 – 33 are considered chapters of consolation and not easily identified as being written of prophesied during the era of any of the kings identified in Jeremiah. They are promises of a reunited Israel; the people and twelve Tribes of Israel/Jacob. These chapters could have been revealed to Jeremiah at any time during his years. They assured him and his fellow countrymen of a true Promised Land guaranteed under the signature and promise of God him-self.

The same is true of chapters 46-44. These passages are judgement passages that cover two distinct time periods; one that is during the life of Jeremiah/Baruch and one that is End Time. They include both the destinies of Israel and Gentile nations who oppose God.
There are actually two different 70 year judgements running parallel to each other in Jeremiah. It was 70 years between the first exiles of Judeans (includes Jeconiah) and their release by Darius the Mede [605 to 536 B.C.]. The other 70 years is between the time Nebuchadnezzar totally destroyed the Temple and when the Temple was completed a second time [586 – 515 B.C.] We usually only here of the 70 year Babylonian activity but there was parallel judgement periods.

Lamentation, also written by Jeremiah, was penned sometime after 586 B.C. 586 was when the third and final deportation of Jews (Tribe of Judah) occurred.

The following may help a bible student better grasp the events and dates.eventw qnd dates

The above chart was created by biblequestions.org

Rev. Dr. Jstark
February 2018

Jeremiah Chapter 51 (Part A)

time-.jpg

The final chapters of both the Book of Jeremiah are the final chapters of the world as we know it. The Hebrew word *Yome [day] can mean a time of day and night; 24 period of time. However, there is an additional translation of the same word. According to Strong and Thayer it can mean:

*“a season, space, time of trouble, an age or period of time[paraphrased for understanding].

The King James puts it in verse 2 (Jeremiah 51) “shall empty her land in her day of trouble…” The Medes and Persians [Achaemenid Empire] occupied the land and conquered the peoples of Babylon. King Cyrus sat on the throne of Babylon. Does this sound like it was EMPTIED? Jeremiah 51:2 in the ASV, YLT, ABP, ISV, ESV and many other translations indicate the same thing. The Medes and Persians did not, per history, devastate Babylon. They snuck in through the river Euphrates after stopping up its flow, captured ad killed the leadership. They did not destroy it. They only occupied it. One may easily suggest it is a reference to the Babylon of the anti-christ of End Time.

V1… “I will send foreigners against her.”

Secular history reports that both the Babylonian Chronicles and the Cyrus Cylinder describe Babylon being taken “without battle”, whereas the Greek historians Herodotus and Xenophon report that the city was besieged. The Book of Daniel implies that Babylon was taken in one night and that Belshazzar was killed. The total destruction prophesied in Jeremiah 51 was not fulfilled at this time. This means Babylon became part of Persia; today it is within the territory of Iraq. More on Babylon can be found in Revelation and Isaiah including the proverbial Whore of Babylon in End Time.

We should go back to verse 1 to explain the term Leb Kamai…”Thus says the LORD: “Behold, I will stir up the spirit of a destroyer against Babylon, against the inhabitants of Leb-kamai…” Leb Kamai basically is a reference to “those who rise up against me.” Who is the ME in this vers? It is God! This is without doubt a reference to End Time when there are those who rise up against Jesus or the End Time following the thousand year reign of Christ and Satan is released for a short time gathering a great army to “rise up against Jesus.”

It may very well be that Jeremiah used a kind of code [Leb Kamai] which neither Babylonian security nor modern Scripture theorists have been able to crack. http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Leb-kamai.html. It may also simply mean those who rise up against God, Christ, Holy Spirit.

Jeremiah 51:5 & 6 continue this thought of End Time judgement. Once again Jeremiah mentions Israel and Judah as God’s chosen. Guilty? YES! Forsaken? No! Verse 6 tells us that Jeremiah says to “flee the land of the Babylonians before her destruction” [ESV] However men like Daniel, Ezra, and Nehemiah remained in Babylon long after the King Darius defeated the Babylonians releasing the Judeans to return to their land, rebuilt the Temple, and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Perhaps the next verse (v7) helps our understanding. It speaks of the Babylon to which End Time evil is identified, even the Whore of Babylon, as [ESV]:

Babylon was a golden cup in the LORD’s hand, *making all the earth drunken; the nations drank of her wine; therefore the nations went mad.

*“making all the earth drunk.”

This is not just the historical territory of Chaldean Babylonians, but the entire world to which Jeremiah is referring. Recall that Abraham originated from the biblical land of the Chaldeans. This is a reference to a much greater population and territory; i.e. all the earth.

Jeremiah 51:8 could easily be understood as sarcastic in tone. “…wail for her and take balm to her for her pain; perhaps she may be healed.” In light of those who will survive the “time of Jacob’s trouble [tribulation]” and after the millennial reign of Christ, people will be measured and judged according to the intent [kavanah] of their heart. Satan will raise a huge army to try and return the world to destroy as many as he can. If he can destroy them before accepting the King of kings as savior, they will join him in the Lake of Fire. Babylon is the symbolic “world” at this time. Then will come this Great White Throne judgement.

51:9 “let us each go to our own country…” This points out that the world recognizes that they as humans are not in charge of the earth. Satan is bound. There is no longer any point to fight a lost battle with the King of kings.

In verse 10 & *11 Jeremiah returns in thought to the biblical time of the Jews in Babylon; the vindication of the Jews (Judeans). If this is in fact relevant to just that time in history, why would men like Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and the future queen Esther along with men like Mordechai remain in Babylon? Simply put… this passage is in reference to two different periods of time; the time of the 70 captivity and End Time meaning the world itelf. Return each one to his own country…[ESV verse 9].

*V11 also says to “sharpen the arrows.” It sounds or reads like it a defensive move of those in Babylon. It certainly isn’t the Jews who are told to sharpen their arrows as God ordained the Medes and Persians to conquer Babylon without even a battle. The snuck in as previously mentioned in this article.

51:11b (NASB) “For it is the vengeance of the Lord, vengeance for his Temple.” This seems to have little to do with the biblical event of the Babylonian captivity. Fact is, it is the anti-Christ’s abomination of the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem. He sets himself up on the throne within the Temple requiring all to pay homage to him. He has offerings of abominable sacrificed to him in the Temple and on the Alter of God.

It gets more clear and obvious that this prophecy in chapter 51 has dual meanings as we continue to the next verses in Jeremiah 51. Read verses 12 and 13 then look at v14 through 18. Verse 17a says it all (NASB) “All mankind is stupid, devoid of knowledge.” When we are devoid of knowledge, there is not a chance of understanding.

Verses 19-24: Jeremiah once again brings Jacob/Israel into the scripture. He is no longer addressing the Babylonian captivity or Judean release. God is telling us HE has a covenant with Jacob/Israel; a covenant that does not apply to the rest of mankind. Jesus in the New Testament makes provision for the rest of us.

[NASB; Jeremiah 51:19-24]shatter

He says, “You (Israel) are My war-club, My weapon of war;
And with you I shatter nations,
And with you I destroy kingdoms.
“With you I shatter the horse and his rider,
And with you I shatter the chariot and its rider,
And with you I shatter man and woman,
And with you I shatter old man and youth,
And with you I shatter young man and virgin,
And with you I shatter the shepherd and his flock,
And with you I shatter the farmer and his team,
And with you I shatter governors and prefects.
“But I will repay Babylon and all the inhabitants of Chaldea
for all their evil that they have done in Zion before your eyes,” declares the Lord.

If one does not like what is quoted above from the NASB bible, that is precisely what is stated in ‘v17a’ in the previous paragraph…“All mankind is stupid, [because they are] devoid of knowledge.” Without knowledge there cannot be understanding. Without understanding, we make poor choices or none at all.

Jeremiah 51:24b: “before our very eyes”(ESV)… Jeremiah could not be speaking in the first person being his own eyes as God initially punished Babylon the city-state 70 years after this fact. Jeremiah would have been long gone. So, whose eyes is Jeremiah writing about? This too is End Time prophecy. The world will see this punishment brought upon the anti-God forces of its armies. In short, this is the forces of the king of the north (anti-Christ), king of the south, kings of the east…confirmed in the next verse (v25)… (ESV) “I am against you, declares the Lord which destroys the whole earth. There we have it. Jeremiah finally identifies these enemies as the whole world. Babylon is symbolic of this prophetic destiny; imminent and eminent. (Jeremiah 51 part B is next week)

miniJim

Jeremiah Chapter 39

This chapter is the beginning and fulfillment of what Jeremiah had been prophesying for over 20 years to Israel, its people, rulers, and religious sects. There are several components to this chapter:

  1. The capture of Jerusalem (Last of the cities of Israel to fall)
  2. Jeremiah protected by the Babylonians
  3. Removal of Judean people from Israel to Babylon (the first of three transfers)
  4. The fate of King Zedekiah
  5. Assurance of and to Ebed-melech
    1. He was the Ethiopian who rescued Jeremiah from the cistern back in chapter 38
    2. This may not be his real name as it reads more as a title; Ebed: a servant; Melech: [of the] king.

Zedekiah had originally been put on the throne by Nebuchadnezzar several years earlier when he removed King Jehoiachin after initially conquering Judah/Jerusalem. Zedekiah was a vassal king to Babylon. In short…he owed his allegiance and crown to Nebuchadnezzar. Christians too often seek a truly close relationship with God only in a time of trouble.  When the trouble goes away, the tendency is to think one is not needing God until the next trouble pops up. Zedekiah had decided he could rebel as long as Egypt came alongside with its forces against Neb. Pharaoh Necho brought out his forces as agreed between him and Zedekiah, but then changed his mind and returned to Egypt (Jeremiah 37:5-7).

hands help

We need GOD’s help ALL the time!

This left Zedekiah all alone without help. A very weak kingdom was Judah. When Zedekiah saw Neb’s men sitting at the city gate (39:4) they panicked and fled Jerusalem. If it was only Zedekiah and a few of his court who fled, they may have escaped. But the minimal armed forces of Jerusalem fled with him. A group this size was not easy to stay stealth and the Chaldean army caught them. We read how he (they) escaped by going back to Ezekiel 12:12…they broke a hole in the outer and inner walls of Jerusalem and fled. The double wall design had two purposes; 1) To specifically provide an egress or escape route if the city was invaded and 2) a type of thermo-pane-wall (double) to keep the enemy at bay once they broke through the outer wall.

JIV NOTE: Personally, this incident fascinates. Israel under the auspices of Joshua entered the Promised lands via Jericho. Now over 800 years later, the last of the vestiges of the former Israel as a nation ends “on the plains of Jericho” [verse 5]. Is there poetic justice, irony, or thought knowing this nation of people came full circle beginning at Jericho then ending at the same location?

Just as under Joshua and centuries earlier the Israelites slaughtered the sinful inhabitants of Jericho, (v6) “The king of Babylon slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah at Riblah before his eyes, and the king of Babylon slaughtered all the nobles of Judah.” History repeated itself!

There is another even more fascinating insight to this event at Jericho.  We have often wondered about the Magi and the Star of Bethlehem. Who were they? We know they were astronomers, studied the stars and were of the Zoroastrian religion. Here is what secular history along with the bible tells us:magi-

Rab-mag: chief (Rab) of the magi (mag); was brought along with the Babylonian expedition to Jerusalem in order that its issue might be foreknown through his astrological skill. Mag is a Persian word, meaning “great,” “powerful.” The magi were a sacerdotal caste among the Medes, and supported the Zoroastrian religion. The name Rab-mag is of interest…this chief of the magi was brought along to assure victory. When Israel marched on Jericho centuries earlier, Rahab (very similar name and meaning) was saved and through her came Jesus many years after… in order that its issue might be foreknown. Magi visited Jesus when he was yet a baby. Rahab was the mother of Boaz, the great grandfather of King David. Jesus descended from the line of King David.

Jeremiah 39:9-14 tells us that Jeremiah was released from the prisons of Zedekiah and protected by the Babylonian guards; probably because his many years of prophecy had now come to past, there were a significant number of his fellow Judeans that dispised him. Now that what he had prophesied came true, they had even more reason to hate him as their royal courts, leaders, and religious rulers had been openly slaughtered by Nebuchadnezzar. Verse 39 takes us back to the above indented paragraph concerning the discussion of the RAB-MAGI (saris). They came to the rescue of Jeremiah and honored him just like 600 years later the magi from the east came to the babe Jesus and honored him.

The Babylonian armies initially removed 10,000 of the best people of Judah taking them captive to Babylon. This would include Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego (Book of Daniel). This was only the first of three forced removals of people from Judah/Jerusalem; most likely dates are 605, 597, & 586.

NOTE:

Jeremiah 39:15 takes us a step backward in this historical event recorded in Babylonian records and archaeological discoveries of these records. Jeremiah 39:15-17a… The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah while he was shut up in the court of the guard:  “Go, and say to Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will fulfill my words against this city for harm and not for good, and they shall be accomplished before you on that day, but I (God) will deliver you from danger.

…jumping to verse 18: “I (God) will surely save you (Ebed-Melech), and you shall not fall by the sword, but you shall have your life as a prize of war, because you have put your trust in me, declares the LORD.”

 

miniJimRev Dr. Jstark
October, 2017

Jeremiah – Chapter 29

And the beat goes on… Jeremiah 29:11 is one of those controversial and taken out of context verses. Jeremiah empowered by God’s promises to Israel is speaking of Israel in this verse using as present and far-future tense. Using the YLT (Young’s Literal Translation) it reads:

29:11… “For I have known the thoughts that I am thinking towards you–an affirmation of Jehovah; thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give to you posterity and hope.”

continue

more to come…

 

Let’s however begin with the 29:1 then explain the controversy of verse 11 a bit later.

Jeremiah laments that he is “left in Jerusalem” while his brethren and fellow Judeans have been taken as captives to Babylon. The royalty, skilled labor/craftsmen, and the brightest of the youth (including Daniel) have been removed to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar hopes to leverage their skills, contacts, and *governing potentials. These are mostly men of value to any economy, politics, and society.

*Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed Nego became government officials of Babylon. So did many others whose names have not been recorded in scripture.

King Jehoiachin and the royal leaders/family are no long residents of Jerusalem and never will be again. This includes a truck load of prophets, priests, and religious leaders. Jehoiachin’s (aka: Jeconiah) uncle Zedekiah is placed on the throne in Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar.  This eventually becomes another issue for Nebuchadnezzar but we will address it later in our study. A letter is sent to Nebuchadnezzar and the captives in Babylon that points out that it was God who allowed ol’ Neb to even capture Israel and the people of Jerusalem…”Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all the captivity, whom I have caused to be carried away captive from Jerusalem unto Babylon.”  In a very real sense, this letter reminds all of them that Jeremiah warned and they refused to listen. He (God) is also putting Nebuchadnezzar on notice. We find this in the Book of Daniel.

Basically God tells these captives to dig in and thrive because they will be there for quite a while (70 years). God even explains that HE does not want their numbers to diminish but increase while there.  Let’s go back several lessons for a minute. God promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob the Promised Land. It included a much greater territory than they ever conquered or occupied through the Judges, Saul, David and Solomon, and the divided kingdoms; about 800 years by this time. He promised that if they follow and worship him, HE will expand their borders. Well, Israel did not follow God but God is not slack in his covenants in either the Old or the New Testaments.

The Assyrian captivity and dispersion of the northern Kingdom of Israel 120 years earlier spread these people into lands that were to be Israel’s if they kept their end of the covenant. They didn’t. So they (Judean-Israelites) do occupy the land but are not rulers within them the same is true of the southern borders of the covenant with Israel. Sooooo, Babylon takes them captive moving large numbers of Judean-Israelis east of their small homeland. By doing so, they now occupy lands God had promised them; BUT…they are not rulers within this territory.  God actually tells his chosen people to work with not against their captives. He tells them to pray to him for the welfare of their captivity people in Babylon. WOW!

prefer liesAt the same time God through this letter and Jeremiah once again cautions these Judeans to not lend listening ears to the false doctrines and prophecies of those within their midst. Go back to our article on chapter 28 and re-read how Jeremiah dealt with on of them named Hananiah. It cost him his life for his false statements. You can believe several of these false prophets moved with them into captivity. God had ill plans for them but they are not recorded in scripture. Prophesying is one thing but to do so (lie) in God’s name….!!!! (See 29:21 to 26; 30 to 32). God will deal with all false teachers of the Old Testament and today per the New Testament. Vengeance is HIS!

Now we get into the controversial discussions of Jeremiah 29:; i.e. verses 10, 11, and 12. Here they are in the ESV:

Jer 29:10   “For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.

Jer 29:11  For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Jer 29:12  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.

The primary issue is that it appears according to history as we know it, God did NOT make things better for them. Fact is, they got even worse after returning to Jerusalem 70 years later. There were the Greeks, Romans, Turks (Ottomans), WW I, WW II, Arabs and eventually Islamists. So where is the promised prosperity? This is where one must understand that God is referring to a distant future meaning when Jesus returns and sets up his millennial kingdom in Israel. Things are still going to get even worse for these people, i.e. Jacob’s Trouble in the latter half of the Great Tribulation. That is at least 2,700 years in the future from this time Jeremiah is lettering.

Author and blogger Mary DeMuth has another worthy opinion. She says, Jeremiah 29:11 Doesn’t Mean What You Think. As she explains, “the heart of the verse is “not that we would escape our lot, but that we would learn to thrive” in the midst of it.” There is some value to her thoughts but the fact is Jeremiah is referencing a prophecy yet to be fulfilled even today.  Of course this is not what the new captives wanted to hear. They wanted to make it a short tenure in Babylon then return to the “prosperity” of their home in Judah. Therefore, it is easy to conclude that they didn’t even fulfill this commandment; i.e. to pray for the prosperity of Babylon, not just their personal health and wealth. Most of those taken into captivity would die during the 70 years. (More on this in a later blog)

Dr. Coffman puts it: The crowd of false prophets similar to Hananiah were circulating the same falsehoods in Babylon; and the letter in this chapter was written by Jeremiah in order to counteract and frustrate the evil campaign of the false prophets.”  It is no easy task to accept what one does not want and then learn how to live with it in praying for the prosperity of one’s enemies; in this case, the Babylonians.

Jeremiah 29:14 makes verse 11 clearer and more obvious. God restates that he will regather all of Israel from all of the nations where they have and continue to this day to be scattered. What is the condition? ”When you finally decide to follow me” says God. This explains the WHY in the second half of the Great Tribulation; aka: Jacob’s Trouble. God needs to FORCE these bull-headed people into finally accepting and seeking HIM.

God even tells these exiles, through Jeremiah, that those who remain in Jerusalem, the poor farmers and undesired of Nebuchadnezzar, he will (verses 17-19) bring upon them the things that later bible writers like Daniel and John of Patmos (Book of Revelation) prophesied; pestilence, the great sword, make them a horror, a curse, burden and reproach  to “all” other nations. We see this in the daily news today. It is a prophecy yet to be completed. This is another example of this author’s often noted statement… “God says, if  you ____, then I will ____.

Today we are at the threshold of seeing this Jeremiah 29:11. We are opening the door of this End Time history soon to be played out. It is all around us; nation against nation (meaning territorial and political fighting) and kingdom against kingdom (meaning political, racial, religious, petty family feuds, political and literal fighting and sabotage, fake news, spreading of the soon to be southern kingdom of Daniel prophesies; i.e. Islam, border wars, … You name it. This is what the passage in Matthew 24:6 means when correctly translated.

miniJimDr. J. Stark

August 2017