Sunday, December 3, 2017

December 3: Daniel 11:1-35; Psalm 122; Proverbs 29:1; 1 John 3:7-24



Overview

            Daniel: The man with the supernatural appearance told Daniel that he had strengthened and confirmed Darius in his first year. Now, the man will reveal what is going to happen in the future. Four more Persian kings will come before a great king arises. His kingdom will be broken into four parts, but none will go to his descendants.
            From there on, there is constant battles and alliances made between the king of the South and the king of the North and their descendants. Violent people from Daniel’s people will try to fulfill the vision against the king of the North but will fail. The king of the North will invade the Beautiful Land. He will make an alliance with the king of the South in marriage but that won’t help him. One of his own commanders will weaken the king of the North, he will try to retake his home but will fail.
            His successor will tax people, but he will be destroyed but not in battle. His successor will be contemptible and will take over by trickery. He will wipe out armies and even a leader of the Jews. He will conquer by bribery with the plunder he accumulates and will do better than his predecessors. He will take over quickly and without warning areas that thought they were secure.
            This contemptible king will battle the king of the South who will be thwarted by his own household. The two kings will meet in conference and lie to each other. Their plans will not change the outcome of the end because it will still happen as it is appointed. He will return to the North.
            He will again attack the South, but it will not go as well as before because ships from Kittim (a symbol of Rome) will come and scare him. He will turn back and take his defeat out against faithful Jews. He will side with unfaithful Jews to stop the daily sacrifices and set up an idol (of himself) in the temple.
            The people who know God will stand firm and fight back. The wise will teach others though many will be killed. They will not receive much help. Some will falsely join with the wise. Some of the wise will stumble only to be refined and purified. This will continue to the end of time because it will still happen at the appointed time.
            Psalm: David rejoices with people who want to go to the house of the Lord. Jerusalem is a special city. All the tribes of Israel go there to give thanks to the Lord. God established David’s throne there. He asks for prayer for peace in Jerusalem and security. All David’s brothers and friends want peace for Jerusalem because the house of the Lord is there.
            Proverbs: A person who is corrected often but ignores it will run out of chances to change.
            1 John: Don’t let anyone tell you any different. If you practice righteousness just as Jesus did, then you are righteous. The devil has sinned from the beginning and anyone who persists at sinning belongs to him. Jesus came to destroy the devil’s work. If you are born again, you don’t persists at sinning because God lives in you and you can’t continue sinning. The difference between the children of God and the children of the devil is their practice of righteousness and whether they love their brothers.
            The message of loving one another was one of the first thing preached. Don’t be like Cain who murdered his brother because he did evil things and his brother didn’t. The world hates Christians in the same way. We know we have eternal life and are not living in death when we love our brothers. If you hate your brother you are a murder and you don’t have eternal life.
            True love is giving your life for your bothers just like Jesus did. If your brother is in need but you don’t help him when you are able, it shows that God’s love isn’t in you. Our love must be more than talk, it must be shown in truthful action.
            We know we are in the truth if our hearts don’t condemn us. God knows our hearts and can convict us. If we aren’t convicted, then we can be confident before God. When we ask him for things he will give it because we keep his commandments and please him. His commandment is to believe in Jesus Christ, God’s Son, and love one another. If we keep his commandments, we are abiding in him and he in us. We know this by the Spirit whom he gave to us.

What Stood Out

            Daniel: “When they stumble, they shall receive a little help. And many shall join themselves to them with flattery, and some of the wise shall stumble, so that they may be refined, purified, and made white, until the time of the end, for it still awaits the appointed time” (Dan 11:34-35).
            Psalm: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! "May they be secure who love you” (Ps 122:6)!
            Proverbs: “He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing” (Prov 29:1).
            1 John: “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?” (1 John 3:16-17).

Insight

            Daniel: Most of what is predicted for Daniel’s future has already happened. The battles, alliances, and deceit between the kings of the North and South and their descendants is all recorded in history books and took place between the last chapters of the Old Testament and the New Testament. The leaders of Jerusalem were well aware of the Book of Daniel and when Alexander the Great came, they gave him the city and told him why. Unfortunately, his successors were not as kind as he was toward them. The battles of the Maccabees fit the description of those who tried to bring about the vision by violence. As mentioned two days ago, Antiochus Epiphanies was one of the descendants of Alexander’s generals and he slaughtered many faithful Jews and desecrated the temple after stopping the daily sacrifices.
            Twice, we see God affirming his sovereignty over these events. The two kings are bent on doing evil as they speak lies to each other. They are undoubtedly working under Satan’s influence and his goal is to change what God has decreed. However, Daniel is told, “the end is yet to be at the time appointed” (Dan 11:27). Again, in Daniel 11:35, he is told that the end of time is still awaiting its appointment.
            There is more to this than history. From this point in Daniel the prophecy is two-fold. It details more of our history, but it also tells of our future. Note in Daniel 11:30-32 that Jews are referenced by “the holy covenant,” whether they are part of it or those who violate it. The end of Daniel 11:32 reveals a change in the reference. It is about those who know their God. While this would refer to Jews who were faithful to the covenant during the first fulfillment, it would also include anyone who knows God since Jesus. It marks a point in the prophecy that can be applied to our time and our future.
            Regarding these who know God, note that the wise teach other to understand. They are persecuted, but many join them with flattery. Some of the wise will stumble but be purified until the end. I doubt this is a reference to Jews because people would not want to falsely join with those being persecuted. However, this is what we see within Christianity. We have had times of persecution and we have had other times when many joined with Christians without knowing the Lord. We have many who have stumbled, but when we do, it is God’s refining work in us to make us pure. When it all ends, we will be wearing white. Knowing God’s sovereignty and knowing Jesus as Savior, we fit the description of these verses of Daniel 11:32b-35.
            Psalm: Does it fill you with joy when you and your family get up on Sunday morning and say, “Let’s go to church?” That’s what David felt when he went to the house of the Lord in Jerusalem. His desire was to go and worship the Lord. That should be our joy and desire as well. There is something about corporate worship that completes individual worship and devotion to the Lord. We were not made to be “lone ranger” Christians. We were made to worship together.
            One day, we will all be going to Jerusalem when Jesus reigns there in person. When that happens, Jerusalem will be secure. The Holy Spirit, through David, is telling us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem even now. When the Lord fulfills that prayer is unknown to us because we don’t know when he will come back. That should not stop us from praying for the peace of Jerusalem.
            Proverbs: God is exceeding patient with us and wants everyone to be saved. However, that is no guarantee that we can keep on ignoring him until we think it is time to repent. We don’t know his mind and his timing. If we are already saved and simply won’t give up some favorite sin, the Lord will break that at some point and the consequence won’t be nice if we aren’t cooperating. The loss of rewards in heaven will be evident.
            If a person doesn’t know the Lord and keeps on rejecting his chances to repent and be saved, then he can’t be assured he will repent before he dies and there are no more chances. He will not be in heaven, but his reward will be in hell.
            1 John: If we really want to know what love is we only need to look to Jesus. Even when we were sinners Jesus died for us. By sinners, I mean practicing sin. We were identified by sin and wanted to sin. We cared nothing for God and were his enemies regardless of what we thought. How many people would die for someone who was their enemy and everything they did was an in-your-face insult? Jesus’ love was such that he died for us when we were that kind of people. John makes it easy for us. He isn’t asking us to prove our love by giving our lives for our enemies but for our Christian brothers.
            The practical, everyday application is also not as hard as giving our lives. He tells us that when we see Christian brothers in need, we should help them. He even makes it easier than that by saying when we have it within our means to help. Yeah, if we don’t help our fellow Christians when they are in need, we can’t say that we love them. If we don’t help them in their needs, then I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t lay down our lives for them.
            We need to practice the basics if we want to be able to love during the hard times. Look at the warning in Daniel. Some will stumble (Dan 11:35). If we aren’t working on the easier tasks, then it is likely we will stumble when the harder tasks come along.

Application

             I want to be able to one who doesn’t stumble at being a Christian. I know I’m not perfect and therefore I will have to be refined. But it is always easier to be obedient after reading and applying God’s word than it is to ignore it then have to be disciplined before obeying.

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