Tuesday, November 28, 2017

November 28: Daniel 5; Psalm 119:113-128; Proverbs 28:19-20; 2 Peter 2



Overview

            Daniel: King Belshazzar, Nebuchadnezzar’s son, held a great banquet and used the vessels from the temple in Jerusalem to drink wine and praise his gods. When he did that, a hand appeared and wrote on the wall. The king was exceedingly frightened and called for his magicians to interpret the writing. He promised them honor and position as 3rd ruler in the kingdom to whoever could do that. The wise men failed.
            The queen came in and told the king that in the times of his father, Daniel was the chief magician and had wisdom to interpret such things because the spirit of the holy gods was in him. Daniel was brought to the king who offered Daniel the same gifts if he could interpret the writing.
            Daniel told him to keep his gifts, but he would still interpret the writing. He reminded the king that Nebuchadnezzar had been granted great wisdom, power, authority, and a great kingdom by the Most High God. When he was proud, God made him like an animal. Even though the king knew this, he didn’t humble himself but exalted himself against the Lord of heaven by using the vessels from the temple of God to praise his idols. He did not honor the God who controls the king’s life.
            Daniel told him that this God is the one that sent the hand to write Mene, Mene, Tekel, and Parsin. Mene means God has ended his kingdom. Tekel means the king has personally been found lacking. Peres means the kingdom is split and the Medes and Persians will take over.
            The king did for Daniel as he promised. However, that night the king was killed and Darius the Mede took over when he was 62 years old.
            Psalm: The Psalmist continues to provide reasons for his delight in God’s law. He hates the double minded and doesn’t want evildoers around to distract him. He asks God to uphold him. God doesn’t have anything to do with those who ignore his statutes.
            He has done right so he wants to be saved and not oppressed by insolent people. He wants God to act against those who have broken his law. He loves God’s commandments more than gold.
            Proverbs: Working hard will provide for your needs but following get-rich-quick schemes will bring poverty. Being faithful in this will bring blessings but one wanting quick riches will be punished.
            2 Peter: False prophets and teachers will come just like they did in the past. They bring heresies and even deny Jesus. They will be destroyed. People follow them because of their sensuality causing Christianity to get a bad name. They lie out of greed and we are assured they will be condemned.
            God didn’t spare angels who sinned. The were cast into hell or chained in dungeons to wait for the judgment. God didn’t spare the wicked when he saved Noah during the flood. He didn’t spare Sodom and Gomorrah as an example of what happens to the ungodly. He rescued Lot from them; he was righteous and destressed by their sins. Since God did all this, he can also rescue godly people from trials and make sure the unrighteous will be punished in the judgment. He will especially punish those who engage in lustful passions and rebellion.
            Some of these teachers are so bold as to slander celestial beings. Angels don’t even do that though they are more powerful. These teachers are irrational and destined for destruction as they teach error about theology. They will suffer for their wicked ways. They actually live and eat with us while dishing out their deception. They are so bad that they work at being greedy along with all sorts of other sins. They are like Balaam who liked money so much that a donkey had to rebuke him.
            These teachers are unreliable like dried up streams or mists driven by the wind. They will go to hell because they parade the lure of sensual passions before people who have barely escaped from these sins. They say they are free but are enslaved by their sin. If they really had escaped these sins of the world through the knowledge of Jesus Christ and then turned back, then it would be even worse for them than if they hadn’t come to know Christ. They are like the proverbial dog that eats its own vomit or the pig that returns to the muck after being washed.

What Stood Out

            Daniel: “And you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this, but you have lifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven” (Dan 5:22-23).
            Psalm: “You spurn all who go astray from your statutes, for their cunning is in vain” (Ps 119:118).
            Proverbs: “A faithful man will abound with blessings, but whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished” (Prov 28:20).
            2 Peter: “For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first” (2 Peter 2:20).

Insight

            Daniel: The short story of Belshazzar is another demonstration of God’s sovereignty. The Lord says he stirred up the Medes to destroy Babylon (Jer 51:11). This was established long before Belshazzar took over after Nebuchadnezzar. When the sovereign Lord says something will happen, it is only a matter of time before it comes true. When the Lord says Jesus is coming back, it will happen and we need to be prepared for that.
            Belshazzar should have been prepared. Daniel rebuked him for ignoring what had happened to Nebuchadnezzar. The king didn’t have any excuse for doing what he did. He knew that God could set up kings and depose them. He knew that a proud man will be humbled by the Lord. Yet, he went ahead and did what he wanted.
            His example leaves us with no excuses either. We know God is sovereign and we know his righteous decrees. We have even more information about God, Jesus, our sinfulness, and our need to turn to Jesus for salvation than Belshazzar. We can’t ignore what the Bible says, do what we want, and expect that we will get away with it. We probably won’t get a hand writing on the wall just before our death, but God’s hand has already written the Bible. If we don’t know Jesus, and continue to do what we want, there will be no warning the day before our death. If we do know Jesus, then we certainly should not continue in our sins and do whatever we want. We’ve been warned.
            Psalm: Belshazzar had his chance in life to do what was right, but he didn’t. The Psalmist says that the Lord rejects people like him (Ps 119:118). They think they are wiser than God when they do their own thing, but the Lord knows better. They are selfish and looking out only for themselves. Since we have God’s word, we don’t have any excuse for our sins. We think we can find loopholes with our cunning to let us get away with our sins. That won’t buy us any lenience with God. He will refine us if we are Christians. If we aren’t Christians and don’t turn to Jesus, he will discard us like the waste after a refining process (Ps 119:119). We should tremble at the thought of his judgment (Ps 119:120). We need to throw ourselves on God’s mercy so that we can have his righteousness (Ps 119:123) when we trust in Jesus.
            Proverbs: The Bible doesn’t condemn a person for being wealthy. It does make it clear that wealthy people have a harder time letting go of their wealth to follow the Lord (Mark 10:24-25). But these Proverbs do condemn a person trying to get rich without working for it. The schemes that people fall for by con artists are often ways to make a huge gain on an investment in short amount of time. Gambling fits that description also. The Lord doesn’t honor those. It isn’t just trying to get rich quick either. It is our attitude about riches. If riches are our goal in life, then Paul warned us that the desire for riches lead us into temptations that end in ruin, destruction, and wandering from our faith (1 Tim 6:9-10).
            2 Peter: Peter spends a lot of time warning us about false teachers. There isn’t one good word that he has to say about them. He doesn’t have one shred of hope for them either. He says they are reserved for punishment on the day of judgment (2 Peter 2:9). He also says they will be destroyed (2 Peter 2:12). Their future is gloom and darkness (2 Peter 2:17). Let it be known that we don’t want to be in the same boat as these.
            They aren’t just teaching false doctrine, but they are enticing people to participate in their sensual activities. We see some of them in the news on occasion when some “Christian” cult is exposed with reports of sexually abusing women and children. You see it every day when they pronounce homosexuality and gay marriage as gifts of God. When they use the name of Jesus or Yahweh as the source of their revelation that these things are good and decent, they blaspheme the name of God. The Bible is clear that these things are an abomination to him. I won’t go into detail because I’ve already written about that (https://ray-ruppert.blogspot.com/2015/10/gay-marriage-churchs-response-to.html).
            However, some of what Peter says could lead us to believe that a person could lose their salvation. In the last verses of the chapter it sounds like he is talking about a person who once was saved but turned back to his old ways of life and then taught others that this was OK. Peter says his later state will be worse than if he had never come to Christ. You can look at these verses in three ways.
            The first is that the “if” in verse 20 applies to whether or not they really escaped in the first place. I think that most people who fall back into sin this deeply were never truly saved in the first place. They had a knowledge of Jesus but never really had a saving faith. However, the plain understanding of this verse doesn’t support this. Other verses on eternal security of the believer would support this supposition. 1 John 2:19 would support the idea that they never were saved because they left for their sinful lifestyle.
            The other way to look at this is to see that the statement of being worse off is not a matter of eternal judgment but a matter of what happens to them in this life. They usually are found out and suffer the consequences.
            The third way to look at it is to believe they were saved and then lost their eternal salvation. They are doomed to destruction (2 Peter 2:17). They were saved (2 Peter 2:20) and now they have ignored and turned back from obedience to Christ (2 Peter 2:21).
            Whichever you believe, the warning is there for all of us. Don’t become a false teacher. Don’t go back to your sinful lifestyle you had before becoming a Christian. The end will be the same regardless of your theology. You will be destroyed one way or another.

Application

             I recognize God is sovereign, but I also know that as one of his adopted children, he will never leave me or forsake me. I am secure in my salvation. However, that doesn’t mean I am free to do whatever I want as false teachers do. Rather I should do what I can to expose them so they won’t be a blemish or blight in our church (2 Peter 2:13).

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