Augustine1 Conservative Christian Worldview Blog

October 22, 2014

“Jesus’ Method in Calling Disciples”

Filed under: Bible,Theology — augustinehippo1 @ 3:23 pm

I. Jesus’ Method in Calling Disciples:

A. How did Jesus call Andrew and Peter?rusty

Mark 1:16-18 (NIV)  As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17  “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 18  At once they left their nets and followed him.

John 1:40-42 (NIV)  Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41  The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). 42  And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter). 

Luke 5:1-11 (NIV)  One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. 2  He jesus_calls_610x300saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 3  He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. 4  When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” 5  Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” 6  When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7  So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. 8  When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” 9  For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10  and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 11  So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.

B. How did Jesus call James and John?james and john

Mark 1:19-20 (NIV) When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20  Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.

 Mark 3:17 (NIV) James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means “sons of thunder”), 

C. How did Jesus call the two disciples of John?

John 1:29-39 (NIV)  The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30  This is the one I meant when I john the baptistsaid, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 31  I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32  Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33  And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34  I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.” 35  The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. 36  When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” 37  When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. 38  Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?” They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” 39  “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.

D. How did Jesus Call Levi/Matthew?

Luke 5:27-28 (NIV) After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, 28  and Levi got up, left everything Leviand followed him.

Mark 2:13-17 (NIV) Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. 14  As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him. 15  While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16  When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17  On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

E. How did Jesus call Zacchaeus?

Luke 19:1-10 (NIV)  Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2  A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was zackwealthy. 3  He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. 4  So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. 5  When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6  So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. 7  All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” 8  But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” 9  Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10  For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

 

II. How can we effectively call disciples today?abide-with-me

A. Introduce the truth about Jesus naturally:

B. Build a bridge into the lives of people relationally:

C. Establish authentic relationships with potential disciples socially:

D. Initiate certain relationships aggressively:

E. When the time is right , issue the challenge decisively:

 

Mark 1:20 (NIV)  Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.

 

* Some closing thoughts and applications:

 

 

 

 

October 19, 2014

Daniel Chapter 6

Filed under: Uncategorized — augustinehippo1 @ 4:16 pm
Tags: ,
1 It pleased Darius to appoint 120 satraps to rule throughout the kingdom, 2 with three administrators over them, one of whom was Daniel. The satraps were made accountable to them so that the king might not suffer loss. 3 Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.

 

 

 

When the Medo-Persian alliance overthrew the Neo-Babylonian Empire, it acquired much geographic territory that it proceeded to incorporate into its kingdom. The Persian Empire became the largest that the world had yet seen, eventually encompassing modern Turkey, Egypt, and parts of India and North Africa as well as Babylonia.

.

1. Who was Darius?

.darius2

There is much speculation as to who he actually was.  Some believe he was  Gubaru, a governor appointed by Cyrus. Both Daniel and ancient literary  sources indicate that a certain official (“Darius the Mede” in Daniel,  “Gubaru” in Persian texts) took over immediately in Babylon until Cyrus  appointed his own son Cambyses as vice regent around 538 b.c. This figure is most likely identified with Darius. Why he is called  Darius is uncertain, though ancient rulers often took other names for  themselves. NSB

 

Possibly Darius is not a name, but an honored title for Cyrus, who with his army entered Babylon Oct. 29, 539 b.c. It is used in inscriptions for at least 5 Persian rulers. History mentions no specific man named Darius the Mede. In 6:28 it is possible to translate, “Darius even … Cyrus.” A less likely possibility is that Darius is a second name for Gubaru, Cyrus’ appointed king to head up the Babylonian sector of his empire. MSBN

 

The identity of Darius the Mede and the exact nature of his relationship to Cyrus is not certain. It is clear that Cyrus was already king of Persia at the time when Babylon fell to the Persians (539 b.c.), and thus far no reference to “Darius the Mede” has been found in the contemporary documents that have survived. That absence, however, does not prove that the references to Darius in the book of Daniel are a historical anachronism. The book of Daniel recognizes that Cyrus reigned shortly after the fall of Babylon (1:1; 6:28), and knowledge of the history of this period, while substantial, may be incomplete. Until fairly recently there was no cuneiform evidence to prove the existence of Belshazzar either. Some commentators argue that Darius was a Babylonian throne name adopted by Cyrus himself. On this view, 6:28 should be understood as, “during the reign of Darius the Mede, that is, the reign of Cyrus the Persian.” Others suggest that Darius was actually Cyrus’s general, elsewhere named Gubaru or Ugbaru, and credited in the Nabonidus Chronicle with the capture of Babylon. ESVN

 

2. Why so many satraps.
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Darius had “an hundred and twenty princes” who shared the responsibility and leadership with him. Over this group Darius placed “three presidents” who served
as liaison officers between the princes and the king. There was therefore a distribution of responsibility and rulership. We are told that these three presidents (Daniel was one of them) held their position so that “the king should have no damage.” This suggests that the presidents were to prevent the princes from stealing from or undermining the king in any way. Daniel was number one of the three presidents, and I take it that he was a man of about eighty years of age at this time. JVM

 

Darius may have been new at the task of ruling an empire, but he was far from naive. To establish himself and his rule over the territory formerly ruled by Babylon, he appoints 120 satraps, each responsible for a certain geographical region. The king’s major concern was corruption. He knew that political power afforded the opportunity not only for oppression but for corruption. Darius feared he would not be able to adequately supervise the satraps with such a large kingdom, and they would enrich themselves at his expense. For this reason, the king appointed three governors over the one-hundred and twenty satraps. He wanted to create a system of accountability which would prevent him from suffering loss. RD

 

4 At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. 5 Finally these men said, “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.” 6 So these administrators and satraps went as a group to the king and said: “May King Darius live forever! 7 The royal administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or human being during the next thirty days, except to you, Your Majesty, shall be thrown into the lions’ den.

 

3. Why couldn’t the  administrators find some dirt on Daniel.
 .
Daniel’s testimony is awesome, his character and ability unsurpassed. His work is such that not even his enemies can bring a charge against him. His flawless faithfulness to the king and his obedience to the laws of the land forces his enemies to pass a new law aimed directly at him and his destruction. The only fault to be found with Daniel is that he is too godly. What Christian would not want to be regarded as highly as Daniel?
RD

 

What a good man he was: An excellent spirit was in him, Dan_6:3. And he was faithful to every trust, dealt fairly between the sovereign and the subject, and took care that neither should be wronged, so that there was no error, or fault, to be found in him, Dan_6:4. He was not only not chargeable with any treachery or dishonesty, but not even with any mistake or indiscretion. He never made any blunder, nor had any occasion to plead inadvertency or forgetfulness for his excuse. This is recorded for an example to all that are in places of public trust to approve themselves both careful and conscientious, that they may be free, not only from fault, but from error, not only from crime, but from mistake. MHC

 

Daniel 1:8   But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and
he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.

 

Daniel was the real deal. He committed his entire life for living a righteous God pleasing life. He was a sinner as are all humans but was determined to always keep keep his mind and eyes on God.

8 Now, Your Majesty, issue the decree and put it in writing so that it cannot be altered in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians,  which cannot be repealed.” 9 So King Darius put the decree in writing.

 

4. Why was it so important to get the decree in writing and why would Darius sign such a law?

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The plot of these princes and presidents and petty politicians was very subtle. King Darius was a good man. That is obvious from secular history, and I think it is certainly the implication of the Book of Daniel. But Darius had a vulnerable spot (many of us have it), and that was his vanity—he yielded to flattery. JV

Under Persian law, the king was bound by the authority of a royal edict. This made his power less than it was under an absolute dictator such as Nebuchadnezzar. “The action of Darius was both foolish and wicked. What led him to yield to the request of the ministers can only be conjectured, but probably he was greatly influenced by the claim of deity which many of the Persian kings made.” CN

 

If the enemies of Daniel knew him, they also knew Darius. They knew they could appeal to his pride and his desire for a unified kingdom.

 

“The suggested mode of compelling every subject in the former Babylonian domain to acknowledge the authority of Persia seemed a statesmanlike measure that would contribute to the unification of the Middle and Near East. The time limit of one month seemed reasonable.” (Archer)

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“What pretence could they urge for so silly an ordinance? Probably to flatter the ambition of the king, they pretend to make him a god for thirty days; so that the whole empire should make prayer and supplication to him and pay him Divine honours! This was the bait; but their real object was to destroy Daniel.” (Clarke)
 .
All the governors of the kingdom, the administrators and satraps, the counselors and advisors, have consulted together: Daniel’s enemies also knew that people can be persuaded to do things they wouldn’t normally do if they think everyone else approves of that thing.  Of course, they lied when they said all the governors, because Daniel was one of the governors and he was not consulted.

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So that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians: It was an established principle in the Medo-Persian Empire that when a king formally signed and instituted a decree, it was so binding that not even the king himself could change it. The decrees of a Persian king were unchangeable because he was thought to speak for the gods, who could never be wrong and never needed to change their minds. GC

 

5. What if such a law was signed in our present time?
 .
Therefore King Darius signed the written decree: “Suppose the law of the land  were proclaimed, ‘No man shall pray during the remainder of this month, on pain of being cast into a den of lions,’ – how many of you would pray? I think there would be rather a scanty number at the prayer-meeting. Not but what the attendance at prayer-meetings is scanty enough now! but if there were the penalty of being cast into a den of lions, I am afraid the prayer-meeting would be postponed for a month, owing to pressing business, and manifold engagements of one kind and another.”(Spurgeon)

 

10 Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went  home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. 11 Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help. 12 So they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree: “Did you not publish a decree that during the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or human being except to you, Your Majesty, would be thrown into the lions’den?” The king answered, “The decree stands—in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.” 13 Then they said to the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, Your Majesty, or to the decree you put in writing. He
still prays three times a day.”

 

6. Daniel faced toward Jerusalem to pray? Can’t we pray everywhere and in every direction?
 .
Daniel’s uncompromising pattern of prayer toward God’s temple conformed to Solomon’s prayer that the Lord’s people would do so (1Ki 8:44, 45).  Three times a day was also the pattern established by David (Ps 55:16, 17).

 

Kings 8:44-45  “When your people go to war against their enemies, wherever you send them, and when they pray to the LORD toward the city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name, 4  then hear from heaven their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause.

 

Psalm 55:16-17  As for me, I call to God, and the LORD saves me. 17  Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice.

 

These were patterns for Old Covenant Jews not Christians.

 

7. Are there times when a Christian should disobey government?
 .
Yes, if the government commands a Christian to do what is clearly contrary to God’s Word. When one disobeys, he must nevertheless submit to the punishment which government prescribes for this disobedience. Since government has the delegated authority of God, government’s authority is subordinate to God’s orders if they differ. Daniel (Daniel 6) disobeyed the law of the Medes and the Persians signed by Darius which forbade prayer for 30 days. He, however, submitted to the penalty for his actions. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Daniel 3) are a similar example. Peter and the apostles (Acts 5, note especially v. 29, 40-42) refused to obey the order that they “speak not in the name of Jesus.” Our Lord’s statement in Matthew 22:21 “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s,” demonstrates the fact that the Christian finds himself in two spheres of authority. Whenever these two spheres of authority come into conflict we must say with Peter and the apostles, “we ought to obey God rather than men.
14 When the king heard this, he was greatly distressed; he was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort until sundown to save him. 15 Then the men went as a group to King Darius and said to him, “Remember, Your Majesty, that according to the law of the Medes and Persians no decree or edict that the king issues can be changed.” 16 So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually,rescue you!” 17 A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed. 18 Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep.

 

8. Why was Darius upset?

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Then the king, when he heard these words, was sore displeased with himself –
That is, for having consented to such a decree without deliberation, or with so much haste – or for having consented to it at all. It is remarkable that it is not said that he was displeased with them for having proposed it; but it is clear that he saw that the guilt was his own for having given his assent to it, and that he had acted foolishly. There is no evidence as yet that he saw that the decree had been proposed for the purpose of securing the degradation and ruin of Daniel –though he ultimately perceived it Dan_6:24; or if he did perceive it, there was no way of preventing the consequences from coming on Daniel – and that was the point that now engrossed his attention. He was doubtless displeased with himself,
(1)
because he saw that he had done wrong in confirming such a decree,
which interfered with what had been tolerated – the free exercise of
religion by his subjects;
(2)
because he now saw that it was foolish, and unworthy of a king, thus to
assent to a law for which there was no good reason, and the
consequences of which he had not foreseen; and
(3)
because he now saw that he had involved the first officer of the realm,
and a man of unsullied character, in ruin, unless some way could be
devised by which the consequences of the statute could be averted.

 

It is no uncommon thing for men to be displeased with themselves when they experience the unexpected consequences of their follies and their sins. An instance strongly resembling that here stated, its mains Translation, vol. iii. p. 146. BN
                 

19 At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. 20 When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?” 21 Daniel answered, “May the king live forever! 22 My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions.  They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.”

 

9. Who was this angel sent to deliver Daniel?
 .
In this miracle, the angel was possibly the same person as the fourth person in the fiery furnace. innocent before Him. That is the supreme commendation of Daniel as blameless before God and unworthy of such a death. MSBN

 

Daniel evidently had been given the same assurance as had his three friends in the fiery furnace that God could and would deliver him. “His angel” was evidently the same One Nebuchadnezzar had seen in the fiery furnace—the preincarnate Christ Himself. JVM

 

23 The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den.  And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him,  because he had trusted in his God. 24 At the king’s command, the men who had falsely accused Daniel were brought in and thrown into the lions’ den, along with their wives and children. And before they reached the  floor of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.

 

10. Isn’t this a bit harsh?
 .
After Daniel’s release, those who had schemed against him were thrown to the same lions. This was in accord with the common principle in the ancient Near East that anyone who made a false charge against someone else should be punished by receiving the same fate they had sought for their victim (cf. Deut. 19:16–21).In line with the ruthless practice of the Persians, the sentence was also carried out on the families of the guilty men: their children, and their wives. The experience of the conspirators in the den was the exact opposite of Daniel’s: they were seized and killed by the lions before they even hit the bottom of the den. ESVN

 

Deuteronomy 19:16-21  16 If a malicious witness takes the stand to accuse someone of a crime, 17  the two people involved in the dispute must stand in the presence of the LORD before the priests and the judges who are in office at the time. 18  The judges must make a thorough investigation, and if the witness proves to be a liar, giving false testimony against a fellow Israelite, 19  then do to the false witness as that witness intended to do to the other party. You must purge the evil from among you. 20  The rest of the people will hear of this and be afraid, and never again will such an evil thing be done among you. 21  Show no pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

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Then the king applied the lex talionis (law of retaliation) and cast his friend’s accusers into the very den in which they had placed Daniel. Before they reached the bottom of the den the lions overpowered and crushed them. “What Darius did seems arbitrary and unjust. But ancient pagan despots had no regard for the provision in the Mosaic law. The effects of people’s sins touch others beside themselves. The execution of the evildoers’ family members seems unfair and cruel, but it reflects the principle of corporate solidarity that was common in the biblical world. CN

25 Then King Darius wrote to all the nations and peoples of every language in all the earth: “May you prosper greatly! 26 “I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. “For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. 27 He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.” 28 So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

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11. So did the Medo/Persian Empire become followers of Yahweh?
 .
Darius commands men to fear the God of Daniel and testifies that He is the living God (in contrast to idols) and that He is sovereign. Darius was brought to God through the miracle of the den of lions. Daniel’s position was secure, and he maintained it to the end of his life which  came during the reign of Cyrus. It was Cyrus who made the decree permitting the Jews to return toPalestine (see 2 Chron. 36:22–23; Ezra 1:11). This concludes the strictly historical section of the Book of Daniel. From this point on the book will be mainly concerned with the visions and prophecies which were given to Daniel over the long period of his life spent in a foreign land. JVM
 
Daniel and the events of his life had an influence on the destiny of the Persia and Israel and this was all part of God’s plan to redeem His people from captivity.

 

                ESVN………….ESV Study Bible Notes
·         MSBN…….MacArthur NASB Study Notes                     
·         NIVSN…..NIV Study Notes.
·         JVM ……………..J Vernon McGee,
·         ACC ……………. Adam Clarke’s Commentary
·         BN ……………..Barnes Notes
·         WBC…………….   Wycliffe Bible Commentary
·         CN …… …………..Constables Notes
·         IC………………….Ironside Commentary
·         NET……………….Net Bible Study Notes.
·         JFB…………..Jamieson  Fausset  Brown Commentary
·         VWS……………..Vincent Word Studies
·         CMM………….Commentary on Matthew and Mark
·         BDB………….. Barclay’s Daily Study Bible (NT)
·         Darby………..John Darby’s Synopsis of the OT and NT
·         Johnson………Johnson’s Notes on the New Testament.
·         NTCMM…………..The New Testament Commentary:  Matthew and Mark.
·         EHS………………….Expositions of the Holy Scriptures
·         CPP…………………The Complete Pulpit Commentary
·         SBC…………………Sermon Bible Commentary
·         K&D……………….Keil and Deilitzsch Commentary on the OT
·         EBC…………………Expositors Bible Commentary
·         CBSC……………….Cambridge Bible for Schools and College
·         GC……………………Guzik Commentary
          RD……………………. Robert  Deffinbaugh
          PC………………………..Pett’s Commentary

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October 7, 2014

“The Identity of a Disciple”

Filed under: Uncategorized — augustinehippo1 @ 7:13 pm

The Model that Never Moved: DiscipleshipJesus.calling.His_.disciples

The Identity of a Disciple

I. What is your identity?  Are you a disciple of Jesus Christ?

> Disciples or Christian? What’s the difference?

> Disciples: Luke 6:13; John 6:66; Acts 6:1-2

Luke 6:13 (NIV) When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles:

John 6:66 (NIV) From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

Acts 6:1-2 (NIV) In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. 2  So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.

> Christian: Acts 11:26; Acts 26:28; I Peter 4:16

Acts 11:26 (NIV) and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.

Acts 26:28 (NIV) Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”

1 Peter 4:16 (NIV) However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.

II. What were disciples back then?

> Does this shed light on what Jesus said?

John 8:31-32 (NIV) To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 6:66-69 (NIV) From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. 67  “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. 68  Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69  We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

Luke 14:26,33 (NIV) “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. ……………. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.

* Mark 1:17 (NIV)  “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”

III. Today a disciple, then, is:

witnessA. a leaver :  Matthew 8:21-22 (NIV) Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 22  But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

B. a learner :  Matthew 11:29 (NIV) Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

C. an imitator:  John 13:12-15 (NIV)  “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14  Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15  I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.

D. a trainee:  Mark 3:14-15 (NIV)  He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach 15  and to have authority to drive out demons.

E. a fisherman:  Mark 1:17 (NIV) “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”church

IV. How do churches tend to do it today?

A. We try to get people to say a sinner’s prayer:

B.  We try to get people to go through a religious rite:

C. We try to get people to join the church:

D. We try to get people to “believe“:

John 3:16 (NIV)  For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:36 (NIV) Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.

E. We try to get people to stop sinning:

V. So, how do we become disciples?

A.  Respond to the call of Jesus: Mark 1:17 (NIV) “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”

B. Start listening to His voice:   John 10:27 (NIV) My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

C. Do whatever He commands:   John 15:14 (NIV)   You are my friends if you do what I command.

D. Join His band of other followers:   John 17:20 (NIV)  “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message,

> Are you a disciple?  Are you a genuine Christian?  Are you real?

authentic

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The above post may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It is being made available in an effort to advance the understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, social justice, for the purpose of historical debate, and to advance the understanding of Christian conservative issues.  It is believed that this constitutes a ”fair use” of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the Copyright Law. In accordance with the title 17 U.S. C. section 107, the material in this post is shown without profit to those who have expressed an interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

October 13, 2014

Daniel Chapter 5

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1 Belshazzar the king held a great feast for a thousand of his nobles, and he was drinking wine in the presence of the thousand. 2 When Belshazzar tasted the wine, he gave orders to bring the gold and silver vessels which Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem, so that the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines might drink from them. 3 Then they brought the gold vessels that had been taken out of the temple, the house of God which was in Jerusalem; and the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines drank from them. 4 They drank the wine and praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone.
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 1. Wow, what happened to Nebuchadnezzar and who is Belshazzar?
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Belshazzar came to power some nine years after Nebuchadnezzar had died.
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The events of this chapter therefore occurred about 66 years after those in chapter 1 and about 36 years after those in chapter 4. Daniel received the revelation in chapter 7 in the first year of Belshazzar (553 B.C., 7:1) and the revelation in chapter 8 in Belshazzar’s third year (551 B.C., 8:1). Thus chapter 5 follows chapters 7 and 8 chronologically by 14 and 12 years respectively. Daniel would now have been in his 80s. CN
At the death of Nebuchadnezzar his only son, Evil–merodach, succeeded him, in about 561 b.c. (see 2 Kings 25:27).

.27  Now it came to pass in the thirty-seventh year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, that Evil-Merodach king of Babylon, in the year that he began to reign, released Jehoiachin king of Judah from prison. 

  • The ancient historian Berosus gives us the following order of events:
  • · Nebuchadnezzar died after a 43-year reign.
  • · His son, Evil-Merodach (described in 2 Kings 25:27-30 and Jeremiah 52:31-34) ruled for only two years when he was assassinated by his brother-in-law Neriglassar, because his rule was arbitrary and licentious.
  • · Neriglassar (mentioned as Nergalsharezer in Jeremiah 39:3, 13) ruled for four years until he died a natural death.
  • His son, Laborosoarchod, only a child and of diminished mental capacity, ruled for only nine months when he was beaten to death by a gang of conspirators.
    • The conspirators appointed Nabonidus, one of their gang, to be king. He ruled until Cyrus the Persian conquered Babylon.
 .For a long time, historians and archaeologists knew that Nabonidus was said to be the last king of Babylon, not Belshazzar (who was Nabonidus‘ eldest son). The solution to this so-called discrepancy was apparent when evidence was uncovered indicating not only Belshazzar’s association with Nabonidus on the throne, but also demonstrating that during the last part of his reign Nabonidus lived in Arabia and left the conduct of the Kingdom of Babylon to his eldest son Belshazzar.

 i. There was no additional mention of Belshazzar, the eldest son and co-regent with Nabonidus, until the Nabonidus Cylinder was discovered in this century. It is now displayed in the British Museum.

 ii. According to Babylonian records, Belshazzar became co-regent in the third year of Nabonidus‘ reign (553 B.C.) and contPicture2inued in that capacity till the fall of Babylon (539 B.C.).

 iii. It is most likely that at the time of Daniel 5, Nabonidus had gone out to fight the Medo-Persian army and had been already captured. Those armies now surrounded Babylon, and were looking for a way into the strongly defended city.

 

 And now I have given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant; and the beasts of the field I have also given him to serve him.  So all nations shall serve him and his son and his son’s son, until the time of his land comes; and then many nations and great kings shall make him serve them. . 
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In other words, the Babylonian kingdom would last through the reign of a son and a grandson of Nebuchadnezzar, and then the reign of the Babylonian kingdom as the head of gold would end.
We have further evidence of Belshazzar from a prayer of Nabonidus to the moon god for his son which was discovered on a clay cylinder: “My son, the offspring of my heart, might honor his godhead and not give himself to sin.” Herodotus, the Greek historian, also mentions this and confirms it.
During the time of the events recorded in chapter 5, Nabonidus was on the field of battle while Belshazzar his son remained in Babylon. We will notice that when Belshazzar offers Daniel a position in the kingdom, it is to be the third ruler in the kingdom. Why not second his father was really the king. JVM
 
We mentioned earlier that the book of Daniel was chronologically compressed and not necessarily in chronological ordered. 

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2. Why would the king throw such a huge party?

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The celebration was designed to boost morale and break the feelings of doom, because at this very time, armies of Medo-Persia (cf. v. 30) had Babylon helplessly under siege. MSBN

.Nabonidus had gone out to fight the Medo-Persian army, and had been already captured. Those armiesBelshazzars now surrounded Babylon, and were looking for a way into the strongly defended city. Made a great feast for a thousand of his lords: Belshazzar was not afraid of the siege surrounding the city. He was confident because of Babylon’s impressive defenses and his vast supplies.

 Conservative calculations set the dimensions of the ancient city of Babylon like this:·The outer walls were 17 miles long·These walls were 22 feet thick and 90 feet high·The outer walls had guard towers another 100 feet high·The city gates were made of bronze“In the ruins of Nebuchadnezzar’s palace archeologists have uncovered a large throne room 56 feet wide and 173 feet long which probably was the scene of this banquet. Midway in the long wall opposite the entrance there was a niche in front of which the king may well have been seated. Interestingly, the wall behind the niche was covered with white plaster as described by Daniel, which would make an excellent background for such a writing.”CN·A system of inner and outer walls and moats made the city very secure. GC


The invading Medes and Persians, led by Ugbaru, commander of the Persian army, would have already taken the surrounding countryside, and everyone in the city would have known of their intentions. However, Babylon had not fallen to an invading army for 1,000 years because of its strong fortifications. According to the ancient Greek historian Herodotus, Babylon occupied about 14 square miles with a double wall system enclosing a moat between the two walls. Belshazzar’s confidence in the security of his capital is evident in his banqueting and getting drunk while his enemy was at his door. His name, which means “Bel [also known as Marduk] has protected the king,” may have increased his sense of invulnerability. Herodotus also mentioned that a festival was underway in Babylon when the city fell.“With the armies of a conqueror pressing at the capital this deputy ruler took refuge in an orgy of wine.” CN
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3. What was so special about a bunch of eating and drinking utensils?
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For Nebuchadnezzar to take these vessels out of the Jerusalem temple (1:1-2)
utinsils. 1  In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2  And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia and put in the treasure house of his god.  .
 

This was according to accepted practice in war. To remove them from the national repository for a drunken feast was sacrilegious. Nebuchadnezzar, the great king, had real military exploits to his credit, and to a degree Nabonidus, the king’s father had exploits in peaceful pursuits to his credit. The spineless prince could only perform foolish sacrilegious acts to gain notoriety, if not fame.  Belshazzar’s behavior was sensual, unrestrained, wild, and sacrilegious. It was also stupid. Gobryas’ armies were already inside the city. WBC

 
This man is not only defying the enemy outside, but now under the influence of alcohol he does an audacious thing which his grandfather would never have done. When Nebuchadnezzar took Jerusalem, he was an old, pagan, heathen king, and he took the vessels from the temple in Jerusalem. But when he came to the knowledge of the living and true God, he had them stored away. To Belshazzar as a boy growing up in the palace, I guess they were a no–no—he had to leave those vessels alone. Now he drags them out and is going to serve his guests with them.
 
The vessels were no longer holy vessels. Holy means “that which is set aside for the use of God.” However, Belshazzar is defying God by this act. 
Belshazzar knew that his grandfather had come to the knowledge of God and had praised and honored Him (see v. 22); yet he deliberately defied and profaned God. Proverbs 29:1 says, “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.JVM
 
A false sense of pride and self-sufficiency seems to have dominated the dinner party. The king remembered the expensive vessels which Nebuchadnezzar, his father, had taken when he defeated and captured Jerusalem. How much more impressive the evening would be if they drank their wine from the gold and silver vessels from the temple in Jerusalem.
And so the vessels were brought in. The wine continued to flow freely, and toasts began to be offered. That these pagans were engaged in a kind of drinking bout with the sacred temple vessels was bad enough, but the ultimate blasphemy was toasting the gods of gold, silver, brass, iron, wood, and stone.
God has a limit to how far He will allow men to go in their sin. In His longsuffering and mercy, God may allow men to continue in their sin for a time. But there is a time for judgment. The king and his Babylonian dinner guests crossed the line that fateful night in the banquet hall of Babylon. Judgment day had come, and the writing on the wall announced its arrival. RD
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5 Suddenly the fingers of a man’s hand emerged and began writing opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace, and the king saw the back of the hand that did the writing. 6 Then the king’s face grew pale and his thoughts alarmed him, and his hip joints went slack and his knees began knocking together. 
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4. What was this?
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Like Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar received an omen from God. In Nebuchadnezzar’s case it was two
Belshazzar Sees the Writing on the Wall, by Rembrandt dreams (chs. 14). In Belshazzar’s it was handwriting on a wall. The night of revelry became a night of revelation. CN
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 The fingers of a mysterious handwrote on the plaster of the palace wall opposite the lampstand, where its message could be clearly seen, though not easily understood ESVN
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God now directly intervenes. He does not speak by dream or vision because this is a man whom He doesn’t intend to reach. God would not endure this impious insult to heaven, so He writes on the wall of the banqueting hall. Is it done in anger? Very frankly, I think it is, and I believe the One who wrote this is the same One who wrote in the sand when they brought a sinful woman before Him (John 8:1–11). At that time it was a message of forgiveness; here, for Belshazzar, it is a message of doom. He has ignored the God of heaven, as Daniel will soon make clear to him. JVM
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5. Exactly what physical affect did this supernatural manifestation have on Belshazzar?
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Knowing the power of the Babylonian kings, Belshazzar must have seen many men stand in fear and trembling before him. Now it was his turn to tremble. In that torch-lit banquet hall, the revelry had reached its peak, doubtlessly with loud boasting and toasting, laughter and celebration. Likely, the king was the life of the party. Perhaps he was closest to the sudden emerging of the mysterious hand in the light of the nearby lamp.
One might have thought the king was having a heart attack. Barely able to stand, his face was ashen and seized with terror. The raucous laughter turned to deafening silence with all eyes on the king. The king’s eyes were fixed upon the hand as it wrote. As a sense of foreboding and panic fell on the crowd, all eyes turned to the mysterious writing on the wall. The king’s actions alarmed all who were present.
One can only imagine the scene. Already affected by too much wine, the king’s terror robbed his legs of all strength. The lower part of his body seems to have lost control. RD
In reality Belshazzar lost control of his bowels and pooped his pants. 
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7 The king called aloud to bring in the conjurers, the Chaldeans and the diviners. The king spoke and said to the wise men of Babylon, “Any man who can read this inscription and explain its interpretation to me shall be clothed with purple and have a necklace of gold around his neck, and have authority as third ruler in the kingdom.”
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6. Why the third ruler?

Third ruler, which may refer to being next highest to King Nabonidus and the co-regent Belshazzar. ESVN
Clothing someone in purple meant giving him royal authority (cf. Esth. 8:15)
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 When Mordecai left the king’s presence, he was wearing royal garments
of blue and white, a large crown of gold and a purple robe of fine linen. And
the city of Susa held a joyous celebration.

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This gold chain would have had symbolic as well as monetary value. Belshazzar evidently offered to promote anyone who could interpret the mysterious writing to third ruler of the kingdom because he himself was the second ruler under his father, Nabonidus. Thus this was the highest official reward he could offer. CN
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 8 Then all the king’s wise men came in, but they could not read the inscription or make known its interpretation to the king. 9 Then King Belshazzar was greatly alarmed, his face grew even paler, and his nobles were perplexed. 
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7. There seems to be a pattern here. The wise me don’t seem so wise when it comes to deciphering Godly messages.
When Belshazzar finally got his senses back he had the wise men trotted in, and he asked them to give the interpretation of the writing on the wall. Although he offered them a handsome reward, they could only stand there looking at him. They didn’t know the answer, and they didn’t know what to do. This is the third time the wise men of Babylon have failed. On the third strike, you’re out, you know—I think maybe this incident put them out of business. JVM.
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10 The queen entered the banquet hall because of the words of the king and his nobles; the queen spoke and said, “O king, live forever! Do not let your thoughts alarm you or your face be pale. 11 “There is a man in your kingdom in whom is a spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of your father, illumination, insight and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods were found in him. And King Nebuchadnezzar, your father, your father the king, appointed him chief of the magicians, conjurers, Chaldeans and diviners. 12 “This was because an extraordinary spirit, knowledge and insight, interpretation of dreams, explanation of enigmas and solving of difficult problems were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar. Let Daniel now be summoned and he will declare the interpretation.” 13 Then Daniel was brought in before the king. 
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8. Who was this queen and why would she know about this long retired Daniel guy?
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 The queen’ may be the wife of Nabonidus, and daughter of Nebuchadnezzar, but it is equally as likely that it means the mother of the queen, the wife of Nebuchadnezzar. In many ancient countries the queen of a past monarch was held in high esteem and had considerable authority (compare 1Ki_15:13; 2Ki_11:1-3; 2Ki_24:12; Jer_13:18; Jer_29:2). She came in because someone had brought news to her of what the king and lords were saying. The fact that she could enter of her own accord into the presence of the king and his assembly demonstrates her high authority. She remembered that great man Daniel who had so helped Nebuchadnezzar. She was of an age to do so. And she was concerned for her son (grandson). So she told him about Daniel. She said that he was a man full of the spirit of the holy gods, and that he had deep understanding and wisdom, and light where there was darkness for others. Indeed because of these things Nebuchadnezzar had made him master (Rab) of the wise men. He could interpret dreams, explain words which no one else could, and resolve puzzles and doubts (knotty problems). He was just the man to help Belshazzar. Let him be called for. PCDaniel was an old man at this time, possibly 80 years old or older. Radmacher, 
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The king spoke and said to Daniel, “Are you that Daniel who is one of the exiles from Judah, whom my father the king brought from Judah? 14 “Now I have heard about you that a spirit of the gods is in you, and that illumination, insight and extraordinary wisdom have been found in you. 15 “Just now the wise men and the conjurers were brought in before me that they might read this inscription and make its interpretation known to me, but they could not declare the interpretation of the message. 16 “But I personally have heard about you, that you are able to give interpretations and solve difficult problems. Now if you are able to read the inscription and make its interpretation known to me, you will be clothed with purple and wear a necklace of gold around your neck, and you will have authority as the third ruler in the kingdom.” 
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9. Is this old man really the right guy?

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When Daniel arrived, the king was eager to assure himself that this was the man the queen mother had recommended with the credentials to perform the task at hand. His questions all pertain to Daniel’s ministry during the reign of his “father” Nebuchadnezzar. They will, to some degree, become the basis for Daniel’s indictment of the king’s sin in the verses which follow.

The question then will not be whether Daniel demonstrated divine wisdom, but what this king did with the knowledge of such wisdom.The failure of all the other wise men in the kingdom is reported to Daniel in the words of verse 15. Daniel was being asked to do what no other wise man in Babylon could do, all having failed before Daniel was summoned. If Daniel was able to fulfill the king’s request, there would be a reward. The king promised royal clothing, a gold necklace, and a position of power directly under him. Obviously, the king was eager to know what those words on the wall meant. RD.

17 Then Daniel answered and said before the king, “Keep your gifts for yourself or give your rewards to someone else; however, I will read the inscription to the king and make the interpretation known to him. 18 “O king, the Most High God granted sovereignty, grandeur, glory and majesty to Nebuchadnezzar your father. 19 “Because of the grandeur which He bestowed on him, all the peoples, nations and men of every language feared and trembled before him; whomever he wished he killed and whomever he wished he spared alive; and whomever he wished he elevated and whomever he wished he humbled. 20 “But when his heart was lifted up and his spirit became so proud that he behaved arrogantly, he was deposed from his royal throne and his glory was taken away from him. 21 “He was also driven away from mankind, and his heart was made like that of beasts, and his dwelling place was with the wild donkeys. He was given grass to eat like cattle, and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven until he recognized that the Most High God is ruler over the realm of mankind and that He sets over it whomever He wishes. 22 “Yet you, his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, even though you knew all this, 23 but you have exalted yourself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines have been drinking wine from them; and you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which do not see, hear or understand. But the God in whose hand are your life-breath and all your ways, you have not glorified.
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10. Shouldn’t Daniel be afraid to speak to the king like this.
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Daniel’s reply to the king was in every sense a sermon, and a powerful one at that. The prophet began by declining the offered gifts. This had the effect, whatever Daniel’s reason for doing so may have been, of helping Belshazzar realize that these gifts did not influence his interpretation of the writing.Daniel reminded Belshazzar, and undoubtedly everyone else in the room, of the lesson in humility that God had taught his forefather, Nebuchadnezzar (ch. 4). The Most High God had given his grandfather his authority and had taught him that he was under His greater sovereignty. Nebuchadnezzar’s pride had led him to behave arrogantly, as Belshazzar was doing by drinking from the sacred vessels of Yahweh, this Most High God. Even though Belshazzar knew all about this he had not humbled his heart before the Lord of heaven and glorified Him. Therefore the God who held Belshazzar’s life and his ways in His hand had sent the hand to write the inscription on the wall.“One of the most amazing spectacles in this world is how little men really profit from the judgments of God.”Daniel, Ezra, and Nehemiah used the title “the God of heaven” to describe Yahweh because this was the title of the chief Syrian god and a title that other people in the Persian Empire gave to their chief god (c. Ezra 1:2; 5:11-12;6:9-10; 7:12, 23; Neh. 1:4-5; 2:4, 20; Dan. 2:18-19, 34, 44; 5:23). This title implies God’s transcendence over all.[198]Nebuchadnezzar had heard a voice from heaven while he was outdoors (4:31), but Belshazzar saw a hand from heaven indoors. Both forms of revelation have been extremely rare throughout history, but these occasions in the Book of Daniel involved leaders of the greatest nation on earth.
 

 .24 “Then the hand was sent from Him and this inscription was written out. 25 “Now this is the inscription that was written out: ‘MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.’ 26 “This is the interpretation of the message: ‘MENE’—God has numbered your kingdom and put an end to it. 27 ” ‘TEKEL’—you have been weighed on the scales and found deficient. 28 ” ‘PERES’—your kingdom has been divided and given over to the Medes and Persians.” 29 Then Belshazzar gave orders, and they clothed Daniel with purple and put a necklace of gold around his neck, and issued a proclamation concerning him that he now had authority as the third ruler in the kingdom. 30 That same night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was slain. 31 So Darius the Mede received the kingdom at about the age of sixty-two.

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11. What was the meaning of the graffiti ?
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Belshazzar gave Daniel the promised reward (v. 29), but it was an empty gift because that very night Belshazzar’s rule ended, when the Medes and the Persians entered Babylon. Belshazzar was killed and replaced as king by Darius the Mede. Belshazzar’s feast is exposed as the ultimate act of folly: he was feasting on the brink of the grave and either did not know the danger or refused to acknowledge it. The identity of Darius the Mede and the exact nature of his relationship to Cyrus is not certain. It is clear that Cyrus was already king of Persia at the time when Babylon fell to the Persians (539 b.c.), and thus far no reference to “Darius the Mede” has been found in the contemporary documents that have survived. That absence, however, does not prove that the references to Darius in the book of Daniel are a historical anachronism. The book of Daniel recognizes that Cyrus reigned shortly after the fall of Babylon (1:1; 6:28), and knowledge of the history of this period, while substantial, may be incomplete. Until fairly recently there was no cuneiform evidence to prove the existence of Belshazzar either. Some commentators argue that Darius was a Babylonian throne name adopted by Cyrus himself. On this view, 6:28 should be understood as, “during the reign of Darius the Mede, that is, the reign of Cyrus the Persian.” Others suggest that Darius was actually Cyrus’s general, elsewhere named Gubaru or Ugbaru, and credited in the Nabonidus Chronicle with the capture of Babylon. ESVN
 
While Daniel had not given a time frame for when his kingdom would end, the inference of Daniel’s words was that time had run out for the king. Did the king even have time to sober up enough to understand what Daniel had told him? That very night the writing on the wall was fulfilled. Belshazzar was killed, and Darius the Mede came to power.
Secular history fills in much detail here showing how the Babylonian king felt secure within the walls of that great city and how Darius managed to lower the level of the River Euphrates which flowed through the city so that his army could enter the city unhindered. Daniel omits these details, perhaps because they diminish the impact of the swift and devastating fulfillment of prophecy.Daniel intends for us to grasp this one thing: the Word of God is sure. God brought about the downfall of Babylon and Belshazzar, its king, just as He said. The history books provide details of this defeat, but Daniel underscores the one thing they will all omit: the death of Belshazzar and the defeat of Babylon was the judgment of God on a city and a people who profaned the name of the God of Israel. God will not be mocked. RD.
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The historian Herodotus, writing about 80 years after these events, explained what happened on that night:

herodotus
Hereupon the Persians who had been left for the purpose at Babylon by the river-side, entered the stream, which had now sunk so as to reach about midway up a man’s thigh, and thus got into the town. Had the Babylonians been apprised of what Cyrus was about, or had they noticed their danger, they would never have allowed the Persians to enter the city, but would have destroyed them utterly; for they would have made fast all the street-gates which gave upon the river, and mounting upon the walls along both sides of the stream, would so have caught the enemy as it were in a trap.

But, as it was, the Persians came upon them by surprise and took the city. Owing to vast size of the place, the inhabitants of the central parts (as the residents at Babylon declare), long after the outer portions of the town were taken, knew nothing about what had chanced, but as they were engaged in a festival, continued dancing and revelling until they learnt the capture but too certainly.

 

·         ESVN………….ESV Study Bible Notes
·         MSBN…….MacArthur NASB Study Notes                     
·         NIVSN…..NIV Study Notes. 
·         JVM ……………..J Vernon McGee,
·         ACC ……………. Adam Clarke’s Commentary
·         BN ……………..Barnes Notes
·         WBC…………….   Wycliffe Bible Commentary
·         CN …… …………..Constables Notes 
·         IC………………….Ironside Commentary
·         NET……………….Net Bible Study Notes.
·         JFB…………..Jamieson  Fausset  Brown Commentary
·         VWS……………..Vincent Word Studies
·         CMM………….Commentary on Matthew and Mark
·         BDB………….. Barclay’s Daily Study Bible (NT)
·         Darby………..John Darby’s Synopsis of the OT and NT
·         Johnson………Johnson’s Notes on the New Testament.
·         NTCMM…………..The New Testament Commentary:  Matthew and Mark.
·         EHS………………….Expositions of the Holy Scriptures
·         CPP…………………The Complete Pulpit Commentary
·         SBC…………………Sermon Bible Commentary
·         K&D……………….Keil and Deilitzsch Commentary on the OT
·         EBC…………………Expositors Bible Commentary
·         CBSC……………….Cambridge Bible for Schools and College
·         GC……………………Guzik Commentary
·         RD……………………. Robert  Deffinbaugh
       PC………………………..Pett’s Commentary
 
 

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“Fair Use “ Notice – Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 The above post may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It is being made available in an effort to advance the understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, social justice, for the purpose of historical debate, and to advance the understanding of Christian conservative issues.  It is believed that this constitutes a ”fair use” of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the Copyright Law. In accordance with the title 17 U.S. C. section 107, the material in this post is shown without profit to those who have expressed an interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.
 
 

October 6, 2014

7 Reasons to Believe in God

Filed under: Uncategorized — augustinehippo1 @ 12:03 pm

Psalm-14-vers-1

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.
Kyle Butt, M.A.

 

How can you know that God exists? You can’t see, hear, touch, smell, or taste Him. You can’t weigh Him like you can a five-pound bag of potatoes. You can’t put Him under an electron microscope to show your friends what He looks like on an atomic level. You can’t experiment on Him with probes and scalpels. You can’t take a picture of Him to show your neighbor that He’s not just an imaginary friend. You can’t magically make Him appear in the classroom of an atheistic professor who is challenging anyone to prove that God exists. So how can you know that God exists?

Although atheists contend that God does not exist, and agnostics allege that there is a very high probability that He does not exist, theism is the rational belief that there is a God. A sincere pursuer of truth who follows the available evidence will come to the logical conclusion that God exists. Admittedly, this belief in the 21st century is not the result of a seeing God’s Spirit or touching His actual essence (cf. John 4:24; Luke 24:39). What we have at our fingertips, however, is a mountain of irrefutable, indirect, credible evidence that testifies on God’s behalf. Consider seven lines of evidence that warrant the conclusion that an eternal, supernatural Creator (God) exists.

1. MATTER DEMANDS A MAKER

No rational person denies the fact that matter exists. The Universe and every atom that makes it up is a reality. The logical question to ask is, “Where did it all come from?” From the Milky Way to the most-distant galaxy in the Universe—what was the cause? What made matter?

A study of the material Universe reveals that every physical effect must have an adequate antecedent or simultaneous cause (an idea known as the Law of causeCause and Effect or the Law of Causality). The American flag that stood erect on the surface of the moon in 1969 was neither eternal nor without a cause. Its existence on the Moon demands a sufficient cause. The robotic rovers that have rolled across the surface of Mars since the early 21st century are the effect of adequate causes. No one believes that they popped into existence from nothing or that they are the result of any number of ridiculous, insufficient causes that could be suggested (e.g., an accidental explosion in a junk yard on Earth sent metal objects spiraling toward Mars that assembled themselves into the robotic rovers). Simply put, all material effects demand adequate causes (see Miller, 2011 for more information).

So what caused the Universe and all of the matter in the Universe? The theory that atheistic evolutionists have advanced for several decades now, which supposedly best explains our existence from a purely naturalistic perspective, is known as the Big Bang. Allegedly, about 14 billion years ago all of the matter and energy in the Universe was concentrated in a tiny ball of matter that exploded, causing the eventual formation of galaxies throughout the Universe.

The obvious problem with this inadequate explanation is that even if the Big Bang actually happened (and sound science argues against such a theory—see May, et al., 2003), a person must still explainwhence came the “original” ball of matter. It must have an adequate cause. What do some leading atheists and agnostics around the world argue about the cause of matter? Atheistic cosmologist Stephen Hawking stated on national television in 2011, “Nothing caused the Big Bang” (“Curiosity…,” emp. added). In the book The Grand Design that Dr. Hawking co-authored, he and Leonard Mlodinow asserted: “Bodies such as stars and black holes cannot just appear out of nothing. But a whole universe can” (2010, p. 180, emp. added). In 2006, Todd Friel asked Dan Barker, one of America’s leading atheists, “Do you really believe that something came from nothing?” (emp. added). Barker responded with a simple, “Yes” (“Wretched…”).

The observable truth is, however, in nature, matter and energy are neither created nor destroyed. Scientists refer to this fact as the First Law of Thermodynamics. Though evolutionists have alleged that the Universe began with the explosion of a ball of matter several billion years ago, they never have provided a reasonable explanation for the cause of the “original” ball of matter. “Nothing” is not a reasonable explanation. In 2007, the pro-evolutionary New Scientist magazine ran a cover story titled “The Beginning: What Triggered the Big Bang?” in which the publication attempted to explain the origin of the Universe. But consider the last line of the featured article: “[T]he quest to understand the origin of the universe seems destined to continue until we can answer a deeper question: why is there anything at all instead of nothing?” (“The Universe…,” 194[2601]:33, emp. added). The implication of such a question is quite clear: if at one time in the past “nothing” existed, then nothing should exist today. The fact is, a reasonable, naturalistic explanation for the origin of the “original” ball of matter that supposedly led to the Universe does not exist. One of the world’s leading atheists, Richard Dawkins, has basically admitted such.

In a panel discussion in 2012 on Australian national television, Dr. Dawkins was asked “how it is that something as enormous as the universes came from nothing?” Notice what Dawkins admitted: “Of course it’s counterintuitive that you can get something from nothing. Of course common sense doesn’t allow you to get something from nothing. That’s why it’s interesting. It’s got to be interesting in order to give rise to the universe at all. Something pretty mysterious had to give rise to the origin of the universe” (“Q&A…,” emp. added). Indeed, atheism’s explanation for the origin of matter is “not agreeing with what seems right or natural” (“Counterintuitive,” 2014). According to Dawkins’ own admissions, the idea of getting something from nothing in nature defies “common sense.” It is far from “sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts” (“Common Sense,” 2014).

What’s more, atheists cannot logically argue that the Universe is eternal. It seems that relatively few scientists even propose an eternal Universe anymore. (In fact, there would be no point in attempting to explain the “beginning” of the Universe in a Big Bang if atheists believed it always existed.) Furthermore, the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which states that matter and energy become less usable over time, has led most scientists to conclude that the Universe has not always existed (else we would be out of usable energy; see Miller, 2013). The fact is, the Universe had a beginning. Alex Vilenkin, cosmologist from Tufts University, pressed this fact in his book titled Many Worlds in One: “It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is no escape: they have to face the problem of acosmic beginning” (2006, p. 176, emp. added).

At one time in the past, the material Universe did not exist. Then, at some point, matter came into existence. But since matter is not eternal and cannot create itself from nothing, then something outside of the material realm must have brought matter into existence.

In short, matter demands a Maker. The evidence clearly indicates that the cause of the Universe is inexplicable without a supernatural Being. Something has to be eternally powerful, but we know it cannot be natural or material. That is why Romans 1:20 says that, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.” Without some type of eternal power, our Universe cannot exist, and the atheistic answer that our Universe created itself from nothing is the furthest thing from either a scientific or a rational explanation.

2. LIFE DEMANDS A LIFE GIVER

Life does not pop into existence from nothing. Neither the puppy at the pound nor the bacteria on the doorknob spontaneously generated. Every scientist, whether theist or atheist, knows this observation to be true.

In biology, one of the most widely recognized laws of science is the Law of Biogenesis. “Biogenesis” is composed of two words—“bio,” which means life, and “genesis,” which means beginning. Thus, this law deals with the beginning of life. And it simply says that in nature life comes only from previous life of its own kind. Over the years, the truthfulness of this law has been documented by thousands of scientists, one of the most famous of whom was Louis Pasteur. His work dealt a crushing blow to the notion of spontaneous generation.

biogenisisIn 1933, evolutionist John Sullivan admitted that “it became an accepted doctrine that life never arises except from life. So far as the actual evidence goes, this is still the only possible conclusion” (p. 94, emp. added). Okay, but that was 1933. As we move further into the 20th century the obvious question was: “Is it still the only possible conclusion?” What have we learned since the days of Louis Pasteur in the 19th century and John Sullivan in the first half of the 20th century? Observational science has reached the same conclusion experiment after experiment, year after year. The eminent evolutionist George Gaylord Simpson and his colleagues observed that “there is no serious doubt that biogenesis is the rule, that life comes only from other life, that a cell, the unit of life, is always and exclusively the product or offspring of another cell” (1965, p. 144, emp. added). Evolutionist Martin Moe noted that “a century of sensational discoveries in the biological sciences has taught us that life arises only from life” (1981, 89[11]:36, emp. added). More recently, staunch evolutionist Neil Shubin conceded the following in his book titled Your Inner Fish:

I can share with you one true law that all of us can agree upon. This law is so profound that most of us take it completely for granted. Yet it is the starting point for almost everything we do in paleontology, developmental biology, and genetics. This biological “law of everything” is that every living thing on the planet had parents. Every person you’ve ever known has biological parents, as does every bird, salamander, or shark you have ever seen…. To put it in a more precise form: every living thing sprang from some parental genetic information (2009, p. 174).

The importance of Shubin’s concession must not be missed. He recognizes that the actual scientific information verifies that life in the natural world must come from previously existing life. And yet he refuses to carry that fact to its proper conclusion: that life could not have sprung from non-living chemicals. Materialistic evolution cannot adequately account for or explain the most basic laws of science, not the least of which is the Law of Biogenesis.

If it is the case that the “only possible conclusion” which scientific evidence demands is that in nature “life never arises except from life,” then, pray tell, how did the first life come into being? Did it somehow break the most fundamental natural law of biology and arise “naturally” from non-life? Or is there another possibility? The truth is, there is another possibility (which science has not disproved), but it is one that evolutionists such as John Sullivan admitted that “scientific men find very difficult of acceptance” (p. 94, emp. added). According to Sullivan, “So far as the actual evidence goes,” biogenesis “is still the only possible conclusion. But…it is a conclusion that seems to lead back to some supernatural creative act” (p. 94, emp. added). Do not miss the point: real, true, operational science indirectly supports a “supernatural creative act,” which implies a supernatural Creator.

Evolutionist and Harvard University Professor George Wald similarly admitted in an article he wrote titled “The Origin of Life” that there ultimately are two options for life’s origin: (1) spontaneous generation; and (2) “the only alternative, to believe in a single, primary act of supernatural creation. There is no third position” (1954, p. 46). Sadly, though “[m]ost modern biologists, having reviewed with satisfaction the downfall of the spontaneous generation hypothesis,” they are “unwilling to accept the alternative belief in special creation” (p. 46). So, rather than follow the evidence where it ultimately leads (to a supernatural Creator!), atheists would rather put their confidence in a theory that was disproven long ago. Antony Flew, who for five decades was the world’s leading atheistic thinker, was forced in the end to conclude: “The only satisfactory explanation for the origin of such ‘end-directed, self-replicating’ life as we see on earth is an infinitely intelligent Mind” (2007, p. 132; see Miller, 2012 for more information).

3. DESIGN DEMANDS A DESIGNER

Everyday observation reveals and confirms the obvious fact that complex, functional design demands a designer. Paintings demand painters. Poems demand poets. Architecture demands architects. And on and on we could go. Everyone knows that cars and computers, pianos and projectors all require engineers, technicians, and tuners for them to exist and function properly. But what about the Universe as a whole? Can it be described accurately as “designed”? If so, what could such design imply about its origin?

No honest, informed person can deny the fact that the Universe is extremely fine-tuned and functionally complex. From the Earth’s precise orbit around the Sun to a shorebird’s 15,000-mile yearly migration pattern and the amazing digestive system of the human body, literally millions of examples of fine-tuned design in nature could be pondered. But consider just one example involving electrons and protons. The ratio of the mass of an electron to a proton is 1:1836, which means that a proton is 1,836 times more massive than an electron. Even with this mass difference, however, electrons and protons have the same electrical charge. Scientists suggest to us that if the electrical charge of the electron were altered by one part in 100 billion, our bodies would instantly explode (Barrow and Tipler, 1986, pp. 293, 296). Is such precision indicative of precise design? Most certainly.

The truth is, atheists frequently testify to the “design” in nature. Australian atheistic astrophysicist Paul Davies has admitted that the Universe (which according to atheists is the result of mindless, naturalistic, random processes) is “uniquely hospitable” (2007, p. 30), “remarkable” (p. 34), and “ordered in IDan intelligible way” (p. 30). He even admitted to the “fine-tuned properties” of the Universe. In a 2008National Geographic article titled, “Biomimetics: Design by Nature,” the word “design” (or one of its derivatives—designs, designed, etc.) appeared no less than seven times in reference to “nature’s designs.” The author, evolutionist Tom Mueller, referred to nature’s “sophistication” and “clever devices” (2008, p. 79), and praised nature for being able to turn simple materials “into structures of fantastic complexity, strength, and toughness” (p. 79). After learning of the uncanny, complicated maneuverability of a little blowfly, Mueller even confessed to feeling the need to regard the insect “on bended knee in admiration” (p. 82). Why? Because of its “mysterious” and “complicated” design. The fact is, as evolutionist Jerry Coyne admitted, “Nature resembles a well-oiled machine…. The more one learns about plants and animals, the more one marvels at how well their designs fit their ways of life” (2009, pp. 1,3).

But how can you get design without purpose, intelligence, and deliberate planning? The first three definitions the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary gives for “design” (noun) are as follows: “1a: a particular purpose held in view by an individual or group…b: deliberate purposive planning… 2: a mental project or scheme in which means to an end are laid down; 3a: a deliberate undercover project or scheme”  (“Design,” 2014, emp. added). After defining “design” as a drawing, sketch, or “graphic representation of a detailed plan…,” the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Languagenoted that design may be defined as “[t]he purposeful or inventive arrangement of parts or details” (“Design,” 2000, p. 492, emp. added). A design is preceded by “deliberate purposive planning,” “a detailed plan,” or an “inventive arrangement.” A design is the effect, not of time, chance, and unintelligent, random accidental explosions (what nonsense!), but of the purposeful planning and deliberate actions of an inventor or designer. Literally, by definition, design demands a designer; thus the designed Universe demands a Designer.

According to Paul Davies: “Our universe seems ‘just right’ for life. It looks as if…a super-intellect has been monkeying with physics” (2007, p. 30). Similarly, well known skeptic Michael Shermer conceded, “The reason people think that a Designer created the world is because it looks designed” (2006, p. 65, emp. added).

Indeed, both honest observation and rational thought should lead every truth-seeking individual to the same conclusion that the psalmist came to 3,000 years ago: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork” (19:1). “The whole earth is full of His glory” (Isaiah 6:3). Both the heavens and the Earth testify day after day and night after night to anyone and everyone who will listen (Psalm 19:2-4). “Lift up your eyes on high, and see Who has created these things” (Isaiah 40:26).

Since the Universe exhibits complex, functional design, and (by definition) complex, functional design demands a designer, then the Universe must have an intelligent designer. This argument for God is logically sound and observationally true. A person can know (without a doubt) that God exists if for no other reason than that the Universe’s design demands a Designer. “For every house is built by someone, but He Who built all things is God” (Hebrews 3:4).

4. INTELLIGENCE DEMANDS AN INTELLIGENT CREATOR

IDIntelligence is defined as “the capacity to acquire and apply knowledge” (“Intelligence,” 2000, p. 910); “the ability to learn or understand things or to deal with new or difficult situations” (“Intelligence,” 2014). It is not difficult to identify certain things that have some measure of “intelligence,” while recognizing other things that have no intelligence. Man obviously has an extremely high level of intelligence. He has constructed spaceships that he can guide 240,000 miles to the Moon while both the Earth and the Moon are in motion. He has built artificial hearts that can extend the lives of the sick. He continues to construct computers that can process billions of pieces of information a second. He can write poetry, calculate where Mars will be 50 years from the present, and build everything from pianos to PlayStation video game consoles. Man is an intelligent being.

Although there is a great chasm between mankind and the animal kingdom, animals do possess a measure of intelligence. Dogs can learn to sit, stay, roll over, and play dead. Dolphins can learn to jump through hoops on command. Birds can make helpful “tools” from twigs in order to accomplish some basic tasks. A few years ago, two colorful, eight-legged cephalopods, known as cuttlefish, graced the cover of the journal New Scientist. The authors referred to this amazing sea creature as a “sophisticated,” “inventive,” eight-legged “genius” with “intelligence” and a “secret code” (Brooks, 2008).

According to atheistic evolution, billions of years ago “nothing” caused a tiny ball of matter to explode. Then, billions of years after this Big Bang, galaxies began to form from lifeless, mindless, unintelligent particles floating around in space in massive clouds of dust. Allegedly, Earth eventually evolved from such a dust cloud. Hundreds of millions of years later, intelligent animals and humans evolved.

What humans have consistently observed in nature, however, is that intelligence demands previous intelligence. The reason that humans in the 21st century are intelligent is because our ancestors were intelligent. The reason that animals have some measure of intelligence is due to intelligent creatures that came before them. Dust does not give way to organized dust particles that have “the capacity to acquire and apply knowledge.” Water does not think. The mindless mud that evolutionists contend gave way to intelligent life on Earth is nothing but a delusional tale unsupported by everything we know from observation and experience. Neither “nothing” nor inorganic matter ever produces intelligent creatures. So how did the first intelligent creatures come to inhabit the Universe? Just as the first life demands a supernatural life Giver, so the first intelligent beings demand a self-existent, miracle-working Creator of intelligence.

5. MORALITY DEMANDS A MORAL LAW GIVER

Why do people generally think that some actions are “right” and some actions are “wrong,” regardless of their subjective opinions? Why do most people believe that it is “evil” or “wicked” (1) for an adult to torture an innocent child simply for the fun of it? (2) for a man to beat and rape a kind, innocent woman? or (3) for parents to have children for the sole purpose of abusing them sexually every day of their lives? Because, as evolutionist Edward Slingerland noted, humans have metaphysical rights—rights that are “a reality beyond what is perceptible to the senses” (“Metaphysical,” 2014)—and  “rely on moral values” (as quoted in Reilly, 2007, 196[2629]:7). The fact is, most people, even many atheists, have admitted that real, objective good and evil exist.

Although objective morality may be outside the realm of the scientific method, every rational person can know that some things are innately good, while other things are innately evil. Antony Flew and Wallace Matson, two of the leading atheistic philosophers of the 20th century, forthrightly acknowledged the existence of objective morality in their debates with theistic philosopher Thomas B. Warren in the 1970s (see Warren and Flew, 1977; Warren and Matson, 1978). Atheist Michael Ruse admitted in his bookDarwinism Defended that “[t]he man who says that it is morally acceptable to rape little children, is just asmistaken as the man who says that 2 + 2 = 5” (1982, p. 275, emp. added). Philosophers Francis Beckwith and Gregory Koukl said it well: “Those who deny obvious moral rules—who say that murder and rape are morally benign, that cruelty is not a vice, and that cowardice is a virtue—do not merely have a different moral point of view; theyhave something wrong with them” (1998, p. 59, emp. added). 

Most rational people do not merely feel like rape and child abuse may be wrong; they are wrong—innately wrong. Just as two plus two can really be known to be four, every rational human can know that some things are objectively good, while other things are objectively evil. However, reason demands that objective good and evil can only exist if there is some real, objective point of reference. If something (e.g., rape) can be legitimately criticized as morally wrong, then there must be an objective standard—“some ‘higher law which transcends the provincial and transient’ which is other than the particular moral code and which has an obligatory character which can be recognized” (Warren and Matson, p. 284, emp. added).

Recognition by atheists of anything being morally wrong begs the question: How can an atheistlogically call something atrocious, deplorable, evil, or wicked? According to atheism, man is nothing but matter in motion. Humankind allegedly evolved from rocks and slime over billions of years. How could moral value come from rocks and slime? Who ever speaks of “wrong rocks,” “moral minerals,” or “corrupt chemicals”? People do not talk about morally depraved donkeys, evil elephants, or immoral monkeys. Pigs are not punished for being immoral when they eat their young. Komodo dragons are not corrupt because 10% of their diet consists of younger Komodo dragons. Killer whales are not guilty of murder. Male animals are not tried for rape if they appear to forcibly copulate with females. Dogs are not depraved for stealing the bone of another dog. Moral value could not arise from rocks and slime.

The fact that humans even contemplate morality testifies to the huge chasm between man and animals and the fact that moral value could not have arisen law giverfrom animals. Atheistic evolutionists have admitted that morals arise only in humans. Though George Gaylord Simpson, one of the most recognized atheistic evolutionists of the 20th century, confessed that “[g]ood and evil, right and wrong, concepts irrelevant in nature except from the human viewpoint, become real and pressing features of the whole cosmos as viewed morally because morals arise only in man” (1951, p. 179, emp. added). Atheists admit that people (i.e., even “atheists”) have “their own innate sense of morality” (“Do Atheists…?, n.d.). No rational person makes such admissions about animals. “Humans,” not animals, “rely on moral values” (as quoted in Reilly, 2007, 196[2629]:7).

The moral argument for God’s existence exposes atheism as the self-contradictory, atrocious philosophy that it is. Atheists must either reject the truthfulness of the moral argument’s first premise (“If objective moral value exists, then God exists”) and illogically accept the indefensible idea that objective morality somehow arose from rocks and reptiles, or (2) they must reject the argument’s second premise (“Objective moral values exist”), and accept the insane, utterly repulsive idea that genocide, rape, murder, theft, child abuse, etc. can never once be condemned as objectively “wrong.” What’s more, if atheism is true, individuals could never logically be punished for such immoral actions, since “no inherent moral or ethical laws” would exist (Provine, 1988, p. 10).

If there is no God, then there is no objective basis to say that some things are right and others are wrong. Reason demands that objective good and evil can only exist if there is some real, objective reference point outside of nature. The only reasonable answer to an objective moral law for humans is a supernatural, moral law Giver.

6. THE BIBLE’S SUPERNATURAL ATTRIBUTES DEMAND A SUPERNATURAL AUTHOR

Christians do not believe that God exists simply because the Bible teaches that He does. Nor do Christians believe that the Bible is the Word of God simply because the Bible claims to be inspired by God. Anyone can make claims about whatever they wish. Simply because a person claims to have revelation from a supernatural Creator doesn’t make it so (e.g., the Book of Mormon; see Miller, 2009). However, if the Bible possesses attributes that are super-human, then the Bible proves itself to be of supernatural origin, and has indirectly proven the existence of the supernatural Author. American atheist Dan Barker alluded to the legitimacy of this argumentation for God’s existence in 2009 when he explained that one of the things which could falsify atheism would be if God spoke to man and gave him specific information about future events (see Butt and Barker, pp. 50-51).

Indeed, one extremely valuable line of evidence that confirms that the Bible is the inspired Word of God is the presence of accurate, predictive prophecy contained in its pages. Not only are the prophecies of the Bible fulfilled in minute detail with complete accuracy, but these fulfillments are often accomplished centuries after the prophecies were made. Even the skeptic understands that if this is the case, a supernatural agent must be responsible for the writing of the Bible. That is why the skeptic attempts to discredit the prophecies by claiming that they were written after the events, or by claiming that they were not fulfilled in detail. By attempting to disparage the prophecies using these methods, the skeptic admits that if the prophecies were written centuries before the events, and if they are fulfilled in detail, then a supernatural agent is responsible for them. As the prophet Jeremiah wrote: “As for the prophet who prophecies of peace, when the word of the prophet comes to pass, the prophet will be known as one whom the Lord has truly sent” (28:9). Completely accurate, fulfilled prophecy is a characteristic that verifies the divine inspiration of the Bible.

revsuch prophecy was about a man named Cyrus and two nations: Babylon and the Medo-Persian Empire. Isaiah, who prophesied around 700 B.C., vividly described how God would destroy the powerful kingdom of Babylon, “the glory of kingdoms” (13:19). Writing as if it had already occurred (commonly known as the “prophetic perfect,” frequently employed in the Old Testament to stress the absolute certainty of fulfillment, e.g., Isaiah 53), Isaiah declared Babylon would fall (21:9). He then prophesied that Babylon would fall to the Medes and Persians (Isaiah 13; 21:1-10). Later, he proclaimed that the “golden city” (Babylon) would be conquered by a man named Cyrus (44:28; 45:1-7). This is a remarkable prophecy, especially since Cyrus was not even born until almost 150 years after Isaiah penned these words.

Not only did Isaiah predict that Cyrus would overthrow Babylon, but he also wrote that Cyrus, serving as Jehovah’s “anointed” and “shepherd,” would release the Jews from captivity and assist them in their return to Jerusalem for the purpose of rebuilding the temple. All of this was written almost 200 years before Cyrus conquered Babylon (539 B.C.). Amazing! [NOTE: Secular history verifies that all of these events came true. There really was a man named Cyrus who ruled the Medo-Persian Empire. He did conquer Babylon. And just as Isaiah prophesied, he assisted the Jews in their return to Jerusalem and in the rebuilding of the temple.]

Truly, “no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20-21). And, if men were inspired of God to write the Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16), then God exists. In short, the Bible’s supernatural attributes logically demand a supernatural Author (see Butt, 2007 for more information).

7. THE HISTORICAL, MIRACLE-WORKING, RESURRECTED JESUS DEMANDS A SUPERNATURAL EXPLANATION

Human beings can do many amazing things. They can run 26.2 miles without stopping. They can show remarkable courage in the face of great danger. They can even walk along a tightrope hundreds of feet above the ground. But there are certain things that are humanly impossible. Humans cannot walk on water unassisted, give sight to the blind, instantly reattach severed ears with only their hands, or raise the dead. If ever such a “man” existed, his life would logically testify to the existence of a supernatural Being.

Atheists understand the rationality of this argument. Dan Barker is on record as saying, “If Jesus were to materialize” and work any number of miraculous deeds, atheism would be disproven (see Butt and Barker, p. 51), and thus theism would be established as a fact. The truth is, the very proof that Barker and other atheists reason about was provided 2,000 years ago when God put on flesh and came to Earth in the form of man. And He did not merely claim to be God; He did what a reasonable person could expect if God were ever to prove His divinity on Earth—He fulfilled precise prophecies and worked supernatural miracles, including coming back from the dead Himself. (For more information, see Butt and Lyons, 2006). The life and works of Jesus testify to the existence of a supernatural Being.

In 2012, renowned atheist Richard Dawkins was questioned about his unbelief in God. Specifically, he was asked, “What proof, by the way, would change yourlaz mind?” He quickly responded by saying, “That is a very difficult and interesting question because, I mean, I used to think that if somehow, you know, great, big, giant 900-foot high Jesus with a voice like Paul Ropeson suddenly strode in and said, ‘I exist and here I am,’ but even that, I actually sometimes wonder if that would…” (“Q&A…,” 2012). So, though Dr. Dawkins raises the possibility of the legitimacy of disproving atheism with a 900-foot high, hypothetical Jesus, He continually rejects the historical, miracle-working, resurrected-from-the-dead Jesus Who walked the Earth 2,000 years ago. Sadly, such irrational, hard-hearted unbelief is nothing new. Even some in the very presence of Jesus in the first century, who testified to the supernatural feats that He worked, rejected Him (cf. John 11:45-53; 12:9-11). Thus, it should not be surprising that many will reject the Lord God today despite the evidence for His existence.

CONCLUSION

Atheists are fond of claiming that their way of thinking is logical, reasonable, and intellectual. Yet atheism irrationally says that everything came from nothing. Atheism says that an explosion caused exquisite order. It says that random chances produced precision and that life popped into existence in nature from non-life. Atheism contends that a well-designed Universe could come about without a Designer. Atheism says that fish and frogs are man’s distant forefathers and that intelligence is ultimately the result of non-intelligence. Atheism alleges that either man is on the same moral plane as a moose, or he actually evolved a sense of morality from amoral mice. While trying to convince others he is galloping confidently atop a stallion called Common Sense, atheism stumbles on the back of a donkey called Foolishness.

Theism, on the other hand, is absolutely rational. Why? Because (among other things) (1) matter demands a Maker; (2) life demands a Life Giver; (3) design demands a Designer; (4) intelligence demands an Intelligent Creator; (5) morality demands a Moral Law Giver; (6) the Bible’s supernatural attributes demand a Supernatural Author; and (7) the historical, miracle-working, resurrected Jesus demands a supernatural explanation (which demands God). Indeed, the Christian can say with all confidence, “I know that God exists.” As former atheist Antony Flew so eloquently concluded: “I must say again that the journey to my discovery of the Divine has thus far been a pilgrimage of reason. I have followed the argument where it has led me. And it has led me to accept the existence of a self-existent, immutable, immaterial, omnipotent, and omniscient Being” (2007, p. 155).

REFERENCES

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Beckwith, Francis and Gregory Koukl (1998), Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).

Brooks, Michael (2008), “Do You Speak Cuttlefish?” New Scientist, 198[2653]:28-31, April 26.

Butt, Kyle (2007), Behold! The Word of God (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).

Butt, Kyle and Eric Lyons (2006), Behold! The Lamb of God (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).

Butt, Kyle and Dan Barker (2009), Does the God of the Bible Exist? (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).

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“Design” (2014), Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/design.

“Do Atheists Have Morals?” (no date), http://www.askanatheist.org/morals.html.

Flew, Antony and Roy Varghese (2007), There Is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind (New York: Harper Collins).

Hawking, Stephen and Leonard Mlodinow (2010), The Grand Design (New York: Bantam Books).

“Intelligence” (2000), American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin), fourth edition.

“Intelligence” (2014), Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/intelligence.

May, Branyon, et al. (2003), “The Big Bang Theory—A Scientific Critique [Parts 1-2],” Reason & Revelation, 23[5-6]:33-47,49-63.

“Metaphysical” (2014), Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/metaphysical.

Miller, Dave (2009), “Is the Book of Mormon from God? [Part 1],”http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=108&article=2787.

Miller, Jeff (2011), “God and the Laws of Science: The Law of Causality,”http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=3716.

Miller, Jeff (2012), “The Law of Biogenesis [Part 1],” http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=4165&topic=93.

Miller, Jeff (2013), “Evolution and the Laws of Science: The Laws of Thermodynamics,”http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=2786.

Moe, Martin (1981), “Genes on Ice,” Science Digest, 89[11]:36,95, December.

Mueller, Tom (2008), “Biomimetics: Design by Nature,” National Geographic, 213[4]:68-91, April.

Provine, William (1988), “Scientists, Face It! Science and Religion are Incompatible,” The Scientist, 2[16]:10, September 5, http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/9707/title/Scientists–Face-It–Science-And-Religion-Are-Incompatible/.

“Q&A: Religion and Atheism” (2012), ABC Australia, April 9, http;//www.abc.net.au/tv/qanda/txt/s3469101.htm.

Reilly, Michael (2007), “God’s Place in a Rational World,” New Scientist, 196[2629]:7, November 10.

Ruse, Michael (1982), Darwinism Defended: A Guide to the Evolution Controversies (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley).

Shermer, Michael (2006), Why Darwin Matters (New York: Henry Holt).

Shubin, Neil (2009), Your Inner Fish (New York: Vintage Books).

Simpson, George Gaylord (1951), The Meaning of Evolution (New York: Mentor).

Simpson, G.G., C.S. Pittendrigh, and L.H. Tiffany (1965), Life: An Introduction to Biology (New York: Harcourt, Brace, and World).

Sullivan, John (1933), The Limitations of Science (New York: Viking Press).

“The Universe Before Ours” (2007), New Scientist, 194[2601]:28-33, April 28.

Vilenkin, Alex (2006), Many Worlds in One: The Search for Other Universes (New York: Hill and Wang).

Wald, George (1954), “The Origin of Life,” Scientific American, 191[2]:44-53, August.

Warren, Thomas B. and Antony G.N. Flew (1977), Warren-Flew Debate (Jonesboro, AR: National Christian Press).

Warren, Thomas B. and Wallace I. Matson (1978), The Warren-Matson Debate (Jonesboro, AR: National Christian Press).

“Wretched: Nothing Made Everything” (2006), http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=sK2yNkTuJkY.



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October 5, 2014

Daniel Chapter 4

Filed under: Bible,Book of Daniel,Theology — augustinehippo1 @ 9:30 am

1   King Nebuchadnezzar to all peoples, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied to you! 2 It has seemed good to me to show the signs and wonders that the Most High God has done for me. 3 How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,and his dominion endures from generation to generation. 

1. Who is speaking here?

The narrative begins at the end of the story, with the letter of praise to God that Nebuchadnezzar wrote after his recovery. The letter is addressed to peoples, nations, and languages, the same group summoned to bow down to the golden image. The “signs” and “wonders” the Lord has performed certainly include the fiery furnace, yet the key difference is that now Nebuchadnezzar speaks of signs and wonders that the Most High God has done for me. From being a persecutor of the faithful, Nebuchadnezzar has himself become a witness to the faith. ESVN

The passage is rather a part of the edict of the king than a narrative of the author of the book, and in such an edict the comparatively abrupt style of the present reading would be what would be adopted. The Septuagint has inserted here a historical statement of the fact that Nebuchadnezzar did actually issue such an edict: “And Nebuchadnezzar the king wrote an encyclical epistle – επιστολὴν εγκύκλιον  epistolēn egkuklion – to all those nations in every place, and to the regions, and to all the tongues that dwell in all countries, generations and generations: ‘Nebuchadnezzar the king, BN

2. What does this chapter reveal about Nebuchadnezzar?

This is his personal testimony as to how he came to be a follower of the Yahweh. Progressively king Nebuchadnezzar came to learn about the God of Israel and to acknowledge His superiority over the gods of Babylon. In chapter 1, we see the faithfulness of Daniel and his friends to God and to His law. The king seems ignorant of Daniel’s God but recognizes the superior wisdom of Daniel and his three friends. He even appoints them to sit among his wise men. In chapter 2, Nebuchadnezzar learns that Daniel’s God is all-wise and able to reveal the future to men. In chapter 3, he learns that Israel’s God is not only all-wise, but all-powerful. Daniel’s God is able to deliver those who trust in Him, even from a powerful king. But in chapter 4, Nebuchadnezzar comes to grips with Israel’s God in a very personal way. Somewhere in the events of this chapter, the king is radically changed. We would say he was saved. The God whom Nebuchadnezzar once knew only intellectually, he now comes to trust and worship in a very personal way. Chapter 4 is the high point of Nebuchadnezzar’s life, a point he reached by being brought to an all-time low. RD

This is Nebuchadnezzar’s marvelous testimony, and it shows development in the faith of this man. Back in Daniel 3:29 he issued a decree and expressed a conviction. Here he gives a personal testimony. There it was a decree; here it is a decision. There it was a conviction, and here it is conversion. Chronologically, this testimony should come at the end of this chapter because it grew out of his experience recorded here. JVM

4   I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at ease in my house and prospering in my palace. 5  I saw a dream that made me afraid. As I lay in bed the fancies and the visions of my head alarmed me. 6 So I made a decree that all the wise men of Babylon should be brought before me, that they might make known to me the interpretation of the dream. 7  Then the magicians, the enchanters, the Chaldeans, and the astrologers came in, and I told them the dream, but they could not make known to me its interpretation. 

3. Another Dream?

Once again, God revealed future events to the king in a night dream (see 2:1-3, 28-29). What he saw greatly troubled the king (verse 5). Calling for his wise men, this time he did not demand that they first declare his dream to him; he knew this was too much to ask. He told them his dream and then asked for their interpretation. As before, none of the king’s heathen wise men could declare the meaning of the dream. RD.

Hebrews 1:1 (NKJV)    God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,

Jeremiah 31:33-34 (NKJV)  But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says theLORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34  No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” 

John 14:26 (NKJV)  But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. 

8  At last Daniel came in before me—he who was named Belteshazzar after the name of my god, and in whom is the spirit of the holy gods—and I told him the dream, saying,   “O Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, because I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in you and that no mystery is too difficult for you, tell me the visions of my dream that I saw and their interpretation. 

4. Why didn’t the king call Daniel first?

It may seem strange that Daniel was not first summoned. But it was ordered by God’s providence that he should be reserved to the last, in order that all mere human means should be proved vain, before God manifested His power through His servant; thus the haughty king was stripped of all fleshly confidences. The Chaldees were the king’s recognized interpreters of dreams; whereas Daniel’s interpretation of the one in Dan_2:24-45 had been a peculiar case, and very many years before; nor had he been consulted on such matters since. JFB

We must remember that the book of Daniel is chronologically compressed and several years have passed since the earlier episode with the magicians and Chaldees.  The time of this incident seems to be considerably later than the event recorded in chapter 3. Nebuchadnezzar had finished extensive building projects (v. 30, including the famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon?). He reigned a total of 43 years (605-562 B.C.). Perhaps it was toward the end of his reign that these events transpired. Pentecost and Whitcomb estimated that the date may have been about 570 B.C. If so, Daniel would probably have been about 50 years old. The Septuagint dates the incident in the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign (v. 4, LXX; about 587 B.C.), but that seems to reflect the opinion of the translators rather than the inspired writer. The Septuagint connected verses 1-3 to the end of chapter 3 and began chapter 4 with 4:4. CN

Those who see it as strange that he should call on these men after what we know from chapter 2 should remember a number of things. Firstly that the wise men here were not the same ones as in his younger days. The older more prominent ones had probably died off. And Daniel’s general supervision might well have made the younger ones more effective and efficient. Secondly that Nebuchadnezzar was older and more tolerant. The young man who in his intolerance and youthful arrogance, and possibly his instability, had been willing to sweep all the wise men of Babylon to destruction because they had been unable to do what most agreed was impossible, had become more mature and steady, and had begun to have greater respect for many of these wise men who were still held in awe in Babylon, and no doubt often seemed to achieve results. And thirdly it might well have been that Daniel was about his many duties and was for the time being unavailable. Nebuchadnezzar was not the kind who liked to wait about patiently for his subordinates. If he could not have Daniel immediately it was worth trying his henchmen. He always had Daniel to fall back on. So he sent for them to draw on their knowledge. PC

10  The visions of my head as I lay in bed were these: I saw, and behold, a tree in the midst of the earth, and its height was great. 11  The tree grew and became strong, and its top reached to heaven, and it was visible to the end of the whole earth. 12  Its leaves were beautiful and its fruit abundant, and in it was food for all. The beasts of the field found shade under it, and the birds of the heavens lived in its branches, and all flesh was fed from it. 13  “I saw in the visions of my head as I lay in bed, and behold, a watcher, a holy one, came down from heaven. 14 He proclaimed aloud and said thus: ‘Chop down the tree and lop off its branches, strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the beasts flee from under it and the birds from its branches.15  But leave the stump of its roots in the earth, bound with a band of iron and bronze, amid the tender grass of the field. Let him be wet with the dew of heaven. Let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth. 16  Let his mind be changed from a man’s, and let a beast’s mind be given to him; and let seven periods of time pass over him. 17  The sentence is by the decree of the watchers, the decision by the word of the holy ones, to the end that the living may know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men.’ 18 This dream I, King Nebuchadnezzar, saw. 

5. A “watcher”? What is a watcher?

The watcher who descended from heaven  was probably a divine agent, an angel, though Nebuchadnezzar described it using terminology from his background Earthly kings had watchmen who served as their eyes and ears and who carried out the bidding of their lords. The “watcher” and “holy one” are of an order of God’s created intelligences. The watchers are the holy ones who administer the affairs of this world. The Book of Daniel makes it very clear that God has created intelligences who administer His universe and this world in which you and I live. God has His administrators under which are many created intelligences. Over against that, Satan also has his minions who have charge over certain areas of certain nations. We will see more of this in the Book of Daniel.

These watchers see all, hear all, and tell all. Many believers today think they can live in secret, that they are not under the eye of God. We talk about wanting to enjoy our privacy, but if you want to know the truth, you and I haven’t any privacy. Psalm 139:7–12 tells us that we cannot get away from God, no matter where we go. Secret sin on earth is open scandal up yonder in heaven. His created intelligences know all about you, and if you are a Christian, you had better go to God with that “secret” sin in your life and get it straightened out. JVM

And you, O Belteshazzar, tell me the interpretation, because all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known to me the interpretation, but you are able, for the spirit of the holy gods is in you.” 19  Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was dismayed for a while, and his thoughts alarmed him. The king answered and said, “Belteshazzar, let not the dream or the interpretation alarm you.” Belteshazzar answered and said, “My lord, may the dream be for those who hate you and its interpretation for your enemies! 20 
 .
6. Why would Daniel wish that this was going to happen to the king’s enemies?
 .
The dream was bad news. Most people would hesitate giving bad news to the most powerful man on earth.
Daniel’s initial reluctance to tell the king the interpretation must have been due to the bad news itself and to the potentially harmful consequences for Daniel for telling it to the king. The AV translation “for one hour” (v. 19) describes a brief period of time better rendered “for a while” (NASB, et al.). Daniel had not hesitated to interpret the king’s first dream (2:27-28). Sensing Daniel’s uneasiness, Nebuchadnezzar encouraged the prophet to relate the interpretation without fear of punishment. This verse reflects the respect that each man held for the other. “This verse reveals the heart of Daniel as well as any in the entire book of Daniel. He knew the meaning of this dream and how well Nebuchadnezzar deserved what was to come upon him. Nevertheless, Daniel’s heart was concerned for the king and grieved over what he had to tell him. This was the distinctive feature of the true prophets of God: though they often had to predict judgments, they were nevertheless grieved when any of God’s creatures were chastised.” CN
 .
The tree you saw, which grew and became strong, so that its top reached to heaven, and it was visible to the end of the whole earth, 21  whose leaves were beautiful and its fruit abundant, and in which was food for all, under which beasts of the field found shade, and in whose branches the birds of the heavens lived— 22  it is you, O king, who have grown and become strong. Your greatness has grown and reaches to heaven, and your dominion to the ends of the earth. 23 And because the king saw a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven and saying, ‘Chop down the tree and destroy it, but leave the stump of its roots in the earth, bound with a band of iron and bronze, in the tender grass of the field, and let him be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts of the field, till seven periods of time pass over him,’ 24  this is the interpretation, O king: It is  decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king, 25  that you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. You shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and you shall be wet with the dew of heaven, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.2  And as it was commanded to leave the stump of the roots of the tree, your kingdom shall be confirmed for you from the time that you know that Heaven rules. 27  Therefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to you: break off your sins by practicing righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the oppressed, that there may perhaps be a lengthening of your prosperity.” 
 .
7. What do these symbols represent?
 .
The image of the cosmic tree reaching to the heavens is reminiscent of the Tower of Babel. Such hubris inevitably ends in disaster, and the divine lumberjack would bring the mighty tree crashing to the ground, removing it from its place of influence and glory. Nebuchadnezzar would not only lose his power and glory but also his rationality (which distinguishes him as human), so that he would behave like the wild animals. The one who thought of himself in godlike terms would become beastlike so he could learn that he is merely human after all. When the tree was cut down, the stump and the roots were allowed to remain, bound in iron and bronze, possibly suggesting that Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom would be protected and then established after he learned to honor the true God.
 .
There was hope of restoration after Nebuchadnezzar had experienced a full period of judgment, seven periods of time, in this animal-like state. When Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged that God controls the universe and human kingdoms and that he (Nebuchadnezzar) does not, his kingdom would be restored to him. Daniel proclaimed God’s sovereignty over the affairs of nations, even over Babylon—the greatest nation in the world at that time—by affirming what Nebuchadnezzar had already heard in his dream, that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will. ESVN
 .
8. What was Nebuchadnezzar’s major problem?
 .
Nebuchadnezzar failed to grasp the purpose for his kingdom in the divine economy. He looked at his kingdom in terms of how well it promoted and displayed his own power and glory, not in terms of the purpose for which God had ordained it. For example, while God had raised up Nebuchadnezzar to defeat, capture, and preserve the Jews of Jerusalem and Judah, Nebuchadnezzar had set himself on a course of action which would have destroyed the Jews (see chapter 3). Rather than look upon wealth and power as a divinely bestowed stewardship, to be used to benefit the weak and the poor, Nebuchadnezzar seems to have used his power to oppress the powerless. For this reason, Nebuchadnezzar will be brought low, or, in the figure of the tree, he will be cut down and his stump banded for a period of seven years. RD
 .
28 All this came upon King Nebuchadnezzar. 29  At the end of twelve months he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, 30  and the king answered and said, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” 31  While the words were still in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, “O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you,32  and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.” 33  Immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles’ feathers, and his nails were like birds’ claws. 34 At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; 35  all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?” 36  At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my majesty and splendor returned to me. My counselors and my lords sought me, and I was established in my kingdom, and still more greatness was added to me. 37  Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and thosewho walk in pride he is able to humble. 
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9. How great was this Babylon which Nebuchadnezzar is so proud of.
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The view from the roof of the royal palace of Babylon (v. 29) included numerous ornate temples, the hanging gardens (one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world),ancient babylon which he had built for his wife, and the outer wall of the city, wide enough for chariots driven by four horses to pass each other on the top. As he looked at these notable accomplishments, Nebuchadnezzar boasted to himself of his mighty power and glory ESVN
Nebuchadnezzar was known for his building projects, such as a 400 foot high mountain terraced with flowing water and hanging gardens for his wife (one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world) as a place for cool refreshment. MSBN

Archaeologists have discovered ancient documents in which Nebuchadnezzar boasted of the glory and splendor of Babylon.

“The palace from which he surveyed Babylon was one of the citadels on the north side of the city. It had large courts, reception rooms, throne room, residences, and the famous hanging gardens, a vaulted, terraced structure with an elaborate water supply for its trees and plants, apparently built by Nebuchadnezzar for his Median queen. From the palace he would see in the distance the city’s 27km outer double wall, which he had built. His palace stood just inside the double wall of the inner city, which was punctuated by eight gates and encircled an area 3km by 1km, with the Euphrates running through it. The palace adjoined a processional avenue that Nebuchadnezzar had paved with limestone and decorated with lion figures, emblematic of Ishtar; this avenue entered the city through the Ishtar Gate, which he had decorated with dragons and bulls (emblems of Marduk and Bel). It continued south through the city to the most important sacred precincts, to whose beautifying and development Nebuchadnezzar had contributed, the ziggurat crowned by a temple of Marduk where the god’s statue resided. In Marduk’s temple there were also shrines to other gods, and in the city elsewhere temples of other Babylonian gods, restored or beautified by Nebuchadnezzar.”

hangingJosephus quoted the ancient writer Berossus who in his Chaldaic History gave a description of Nebuchadnezzar’s building activities.

“The discovery of the cuneiform inscriptions has remarkably confirmed the accuracy of this vs. From these we learn that Neb. was primarily, not a warrior, but a builder.” CN

10. Why did not the king’s enemies kill him and take over the kingdom?

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The stump. The basis (nucleus) of the kingdom, still in existence will later sprout as in nature. The band is a guarantee that God will protect what remains intact and preserve the king’s rule. MSBN
 .
11. Is there any historical evidence that any of this came to pass?
 .
There is no corresponding record of this seven-year (seven times) period of insanity in the secular historical records of Babylon – exactly as we would expect, considering the custom of the times. Nevertheless Abydenus, a Greek historian, wrote in 268 B.C. that Nebuchadnezzar was “possessed by some god” and that he had “immediately disappeared.” (Wood)
 .
Some dismiss this account of Nebuchadnezzar’s madness as unhistorical, but there is no historical record of his governmental activity between 582 B.C. and 575 B.C. This silence is deafening, especially when we keep in mind how Near Eastern leaders liked to egotistically trumpet their achievements – and hide their embarrassments. Gill
 .
There is a conspicuous absence of any record of acts or decrees by Nebuchadnezzar from 582 -575 BCE (Gleason L. Archer, Jr. [1916-2004],Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 7, 63). Berossus, a Babylonian priest and astronomer of the third century BCE, documents that Nebuchadnezzar became suddenly ill after 43 years in power (Contra Apionem 1:20). Eusebius (263-339) cites a report from the Greek historian Abydenus that corroborates the Biblical account stating that in Nebuchadnezzar’s latter days he was “possessed by some god or other (Eusebius, Praparatio Evanelica 9:41).” Also, a clay tablet housed in theBritish Museum known as BM34113 (lines 3,6,7,11,12,14) describes Nebuchadnezzar exhibiting irregular behavior including noting that “his life appeared of no value to him (Kendall K. Down [b. 1949], Daniel: Hostage in Babylon, 30). It has also been argued that an Aramaic fragment excavated from Qumran Cave 4 in 1952 attributed to Babylon’s last king, Nabonidus (556-539 BCE), is actually a garbled tradition relaying the illness of Nebuchadnezzar (Archer, Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 7, 63).
 .
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ESVN…………………….ESV Study Bible Notes

MSBN…………………….MacArthur NASB Study Notes                     

NIVSN…………………….NIV Study Notes. 

JVM ……………..……..J Vernon McGee,

ACC ……………..……. Adam Clarke’s Commentary

BN ……………….……..Barnes Notes

WBC……..………….   Wycliffe Bible Commentary

CN ……….. …………..Constables Notes 

 IC…………..………….Ironside Commentary

NET……………..…….Net Bible Study Notes.

JFB…………………….Jamieson  Fausset  Brown Commentary

VWS…………………….Vincent Word Studies

CMM……………………Commentary on Matthew and Mark

BDB………………….. Barclay’s Daily Study Bible (NT)

Darby………………….John Darby’s Synopsis of the OT and NT

Johnson……………..Johnson’s Notes on the New Testament.

NTCMM………….…..The New Testament Commentary:  Matthew and Mark.

EHS………………….Expositions of the Holy Scriptures

CPP…………………The Complete Pulpit Commentary

SBC…………………Sermon Bible Commentary

K&D…………………..Keil and Deilitzsch Commentary on the OT

EBC………………….Expositors Bible Commentary

CBSC………………..Cambridge Bible for Schools and College

GC……………………Guzik Commentary

RD………………….. Robert  Deffinbaugh

NNIBC …………..…. Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary.

KJVBC……………….KJV Bible Commentary.

JBC……………………Joseph Benson’s Commentary   

PC……………………..Pett’s Commentary

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October 4, 2014

The theological corruption of the Evangelical Church

Filed under: Uncategorized — augustinehippo1 @ 10:15 am

by

In a world that has become increasingly skeptical of, and hostile to, Christianity, where do evangelicals stand? What happened to evangelical churches? What does it mean to be an evangelical? This paper argues that the evangelical movement has lost its way. Despite its creeds and confessions and high view of Scripture, many evangelicals—including evangelical leaders—pay lip-service to biblical teaching. Many evangelicals no longer steadfastly proclaim biblical truth, neither do they appear to expend much effort in preaching the Gospel and reaching the lost. Many evangelical leaders now seem more interested in being liked by the public or obtaining a media profile, or building mutually respectful relationships with their ideological adversaries. The causes of these disturbing trends are examined and a call to self-examination and repentance is issued.


Whatever happened to the Evangelical Church?

Wooroolin-church-restaurant

Figure 1. Sign of the times. The church’s declining influence has led to declining numbers. Many once vibrant churches have now been converted to restaurants and even nightclubs

In a world that has become increasingly skeptical of, and hostile to, Christianity, where do evangelicals and evangelical churches stand? Many large churches, organizations and leaders in the evangelical fold have significant public profiles or public and political influence, but how effective have they really been in promoting the Christian faith?

For many Christians, God simply meets a previously unmet need: a father, a best mate, a provider, or a gentle, loving sugar daddy.

I put it to readers that the evangelical church in Australia and around the world has lost its way and is suffering a crisis of identity (figure 1). Many who call themselves evangelicals have little idea what they believe or why—or even what we are meant to be doing. As former Australian Evangelical Alliance chief Tom Slater put it: “[W]hat is the Christian cause? Is it the survival of the church? Is it the ‘success’ of the church? Is it the maintenance of whatever power the church has in the decision-making structures of society? Is it the proclamation of the gospel? Is it social transformation? Is it the Kingdom of God? Our answer to that question shapes how we think we’re going.”1 That such questions need to be asked is itself an indictment.

Joel Edwards has asserted that evangelicalism “always takes seriously Jesus as the living Word, reigning at the centre of the universe and our lives” and that evangelicals “will not swap his Lordship for our culture”. According to Edwards, evangelicals “are absolutely passionate about renewed people and communities which treat sin and forgiveness seriously. Evangelicals really do want to see God ruling everything … . The twenty-first century will pull us in many different directions, but these are the things we should die for.”2 These are great sentiments, but they do not reflect the true state of many evangelical communities either in Australia or around the world.

An idolatrous view of God

For many Christians, God simply meets a previously unmet need: a father, a best mate, a provider, or a gentle, loving sugar daddy! While many non-Christians see God as nasty and vindictive, or a cosmic party-pooper, many Christians hold to equally erroneous conceptions of God that bear little resemblance to the biblical revelation.

Some years ago, A.W. Tozer rightly chastized the church on this very point: “Always the most revealing thing about the Church is her idea of God, just as her most significant message is what she says about Him or leaves unsaid, for her silence is often more eloquent than her speech. She can never escape the self-disclosure of her witness concerning God.” It does not matter what we or our creeds say. What matters is what we actually do.

Tozer pointed out that a true conception of God is fundamental “not only to systematic theology but to practical Christian living as well. It is to worship what the foundation is to the temple; where it is inadequate or out of plumb the whole structure must sooner or later collapse.” Indeed, “there is scarcely an error in doctrine or a failure in applying Christian ethics that cannot be traced finally to imperfect and ignoble thoughts about God.” John Dickson, for example, points out that “most mainstream Christians are very comfortable with science and with all of the discoveries of science, including the [sic] 13.72 billion years ago there was a bang and evolution by natural selection.”3 Theistic evolutionists such as Dickson and progressive creationists such as Hugh Ross deny that the Genesis account of creation is a historical record of God creating the universe and everything in it by divine fiat in six days. Instead, they posit that God’s only activity in bringing about the present world has been maintenance, not special miraculous acts of creation in history. In essence, theistic evolution borders on deism since the god of the theistic evolutionist is distant and impersonal.

Theistic evolution comprises the following basic beliefs: (1) the first human couple (if there even was one) shared a common ancestor (pre-Adamites) with the apes; (2) the first human couple were highly evolved hominids who were imparted with God’s image; (3) death, decay, and suffering are an integral part of the world God created, and therefore, the teaching that physical death is a direct consequence and penalty of Adam’s sin is denied; (4) the penalty for sin is ‘spiritual death’. Theistic evolution casts doubt upon God’s omniscience, omnipotence, efficiency, and goodness. Why would an omniscient God, who surely knows exactly what He wants, create a scenario where nature aimlessly gropes around trying to find the path of least resistance in an upward direction? Why would an omnipotent God employ such a wasteful and cruel method to ‘create’ life? Why would a just and loving God design a process which requires the strong to usurp the weak? As Nobel Prize winner and atheist Jacques Monod (1910–1976) put it:

“Selection is the blindest, and most cruel way of evolving new species, and more and more complex and refined organisms … the more cruel because it is a process of elimination, of destruction. The struggle for life and the elimination of the weakest is a horrible process, against which our whole modern ethic revolts. An ideal society is a non-selective society, it is one where the weak are protected; which is exactly the reverse of the so-called natural law. I am surprised that a Christian would defend the idea that this is the process which God more or less set up in order to have evolution.”4

Moreover, rather than being an evil and a curse arising as a result of the Fall as Scripture teaches (Genesis 2:17;Romans 5:12), human physical death is credited as being an integral part of God’s plan to ‘evolve’ His creation. Thus, we end up with a distant, impersonal God who is not all-knowing, not all-powerful, not very efficient, and not all that good! A god that endorses the exploitation and subjugation of the weak by the strong and employs indiscriminate pain, suffering, and death to bring about the world they desire can hardly be called just, loving, or compassionate. This is, ultimately, a libel on God and His character.

Tozer rebuked the church for holding such manifestly decadent views of God that were “utterly beneath the dignity of the Most High God”. I believe it is time again for another such rebuke, since, as Tozer pointed out, such ignoble views of God are, in fact, idolatrous because they present God as someone or something other than He is:

“Among the sins to which the human heart is prone, hardly any other is more hateful to God than idolatry, for idolatry is at bottom a libel on His character. The idolatrous heart assumes that God is other than He is—in itself a monstrous sin—and substitutes for the true God one made after its own likeness. Always this God will conform to the image of the one who created it and will be base or pure, cruel or kind, according to the moral state of the mind from which it emerges. Let us beware lest we in our pride accept the erroneous notion that idolatry consists only in kneeling before visible objects of adoration, and that civilised peoples are therefore free from it. The essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him. It begins in the mind and may be present where no overt act of worship has taken place.”5

It is time each of us reassessed how we conceive of God and see if our ideas about God square with His own self-revelation in Scripture.

The abuse and neglect of Scripture

That our conception of God often does not reflect His own self-revelation in Scripture should be no surprise when we understand that Scripture is all too often ignored, neglected, or abused by the church. Indeed, Scripture has all but been excised from much of our theological deliberations. For example, a 6,500-word essay by Brian Edgar entitled ‘Eight Core Christian Values’ cites only one Scripture—and even then it was a mere passing reference or ‘proof text’.6We have gone from Sola Scriptura to Nulla Scriptura!

In some cases, evangelicals are advocating ideas that are clearly prohibited in Scripture! In that same essay, Edgar states that justice is “[a] concept biased in favour of the disadvantaged” despite the fact that Leviticus 19:15 states: “Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.”Exodus 23:3 states that favouritism should not be shown to a poor man even in a lawsuit. There was also no partiality when Moses took a census and God required an offering of half a shekel from everyone over the age of twenty years (Exodus 30:14–15). The rich were explicitly forbidden from giving more, and the poor were explicitly prohibited from giving less.

Another example is the exhortation in Micah 6:8 which has been adopted by Micah Challenge. Followers of that organization believe that acting justly implies advocating for ‘redistributive justice’ imposed by government: rich countries taxing their citizens in order to give aid to poorer countries. But Micah 6 takes the form of a law suit. The prophet, on behalf of the Lord, brings a case against Israel. The prophet proclaims that God ultimately requires all His people to act justly. The Hebrew word used (מִשְׁפּטָ, mĭšpāṭ) clearly refers to the administration and maintenance of justice in relation to resolving legal disputes.7 It never refers to anything close to ‘social’ or ‘distributive’ justice. That is eisegesis, not exegesis! Those who hold such views are reading neo-Marxist socialism back into the text, not extracting biblical principles.

Biblical truth as revealed in Scripture defines Christianity and guides Christian practice. Once our theological confession loses its Scriptural foundation, “it finds its subject matter anywhere along a line that runs from Eastern spirituality to radical politics to feminist ideology to environmental concerns.”8 Indeed, many evangelical churches, in one way or another and despite the warning in Romans 1:25, have exchanged evangelism and the proclamation of biblical truth for these very things or whatever else is the current cause du jour.

In the case of those in the Emergent movement—the likes of Brian McLaren and Rob Bell—the Scriptures are made virtually irrelevant! For them, we cannot really know anything except that we should love Jesus. The Emergents are effectively soft postmodernists: they believe in the existence of objective truth, but deny it is possible to know anything with absolute certainty. Truth is always provisional because it is impossible to be sure that what is claimed as truth is in fact truth.

Of more concern is the way most evangelicals now reinterpret the Genesis creation account and no longer consider it to be a historical description of what actually happened. Moreover, those evangelicals who do still uphold the traditional view of a six-day creation around 6,000 years ago are marginalized, derided, and often ridiculed—even by fellow Christians. For example, during a recent televized discussion with theoretical physicist and self-described antitheist Lawrence Krauss,9 John Dickson gave the following advice on how to deal with young-earth biblical creationists:

“But what you should be doing, Lawrence—what you should be doing—here’s a tactic—hand them over to us. People like the Centre for Public Christianity, where I work, who are trying to educate not only the general public but also the Christian public on Biblical scholarship and scientific scholarship. … I just mean we could be the friend—we could be the friend to the new atheism and have the effect you want. I think all you are doing is firming up the opposition.”3

Philon

Figure 2. Philo was a Hellenistic Jew who could not read Hebrew. He employed allegorical interpretation and sought to make Jewish law consonant with the ideals of Stoic, Pythagorean, and especially Platonic thought.

Thus, according to Dickson, those who hold to the traditional, historical-grammatical interpretation of the early chapters of Genesis are ignorant and uninformed of biblical and scientific scholarship and need to be ‘educated’. This is rich coming from Dickson, who thinks “Genesis 1 is written in a style that is most unlike the historical prose we know from other parts of the Bible. The style is not quite poetry but it’s more in the direction of poetry.”3 On the contrary, it is nothing like poetry because it does not contain the semantic parallelism that is a fundamental characteristic of Hebrew poetry. It does, however, have all the classical characteristics of Hebrew historical narrative and has the same grammatical, structural, and semantic markers as the narrative found in the later chapters of Genesis,10 and other passages that are clearly narrative.

Regarding the history of interpretation, Dickson stated that his view “was the view of ancient Jews, like Philo of Alexandria [figure 2] in the first century, the greatest theologian of the ancient world, Saint Augustine, Origen, Clement and so on.”3 But Philo was a Hellenistic Jew who could not read Hebrew.11 Not surprisingly, his writings are almost totally free of rabbinic concerns. Instead, he resorted to “an extensive allegorical interpretation of Scripture that made Jewish law consonant with the ideals of Stoic, Pythagorean, and especially Platonic thought.”12 Philo was clearly more concerned with harmonizing the Old Testament with Greek philosophy than with careful exegesis, and his interpretive methodology heavily influenced Origen. Clement’s comments in The Stromata make it clear that he believed the days were literal. Augustine held to an instantaneous creation and therefore interpreted the days of creation allegorically, although he was not entirely happy with this approach. Nevertheless, he believed in a young earth that was only thousands of years old, not billions.13

Dickson also believes that 13.72 billion years ago “there was a bang and evolution by natural selection”.3 Even if one accepts the standard big bang model, there was no ‘bang’. The expression ‘big bang’ was a derogatory term coined by Sir Fred Hoyle that apparently stuck, but it is not an accurate expression of what the model describes. Also, evolution by natural selection did not start until the earth was formed, which was, according to conventional evolutionary models of earth history, about 4.5 billion years ago—and even then it could not start until self-reproducing life appeared on earth, which evolutionists believe took at least hundreds of millions of years. So who is really ignorant of biblical, historical, and scientific scholarship?

In any case, why does Dickson want to “be the friend to the new atheism and have the effect [Krauss] want[s]”? Shouldn’t Dickson’s goal be the fulfillment of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18–20)? To demonstrate the emptiness of atheism and secular humanism? To persuade atheists like Krauss of the truth of Christianity? Does he not realize that the ‘effect’ Krauss wants is the silencing and marginalization of all Christian voices—including that of Dickson himself?14

Their desire to save the Bible from being contradicted by scientific ‘fact’ has ultimately led these evangelicals to reinterpret the early chapters of Genesis

It appears that the reason for the kind of hermeneutical and attitudinal changes that Dickson embodies is a defensive tactic. Many educated Christians—and especially those with theological training—appear deeply intimidated by scientific data and the truth claims of leading scientists. It is almost a case of ‘scientists say …’ equals ‘God says …’ and theologians, lacking the knowledge, training, and confidence to question these truth-claims, just accept them at face value. This has created a dilemma for evangelicals who hold to a high view of Scripture (including inerrancy). For these evangelicals, the notion of a six-day recent creation stands against the irrefutable scientific ‘truth’ regarding the age of the earth and the nature of the universe, and therefore the Genesis account cannot mean what it appears to mean on a ‘superficial reading’. So there must be either a deeper meaning, or the details have been wrongly understood as a straightforward description of actual historical events occurring in real time, when in actual fact the time referents are mere literary devices. Thus, the Genesis accounts of creation and the global Flood must be understood as communicating only theological rather than historical or scientific truth. This approach removes their dilemma. As Meredith Kline put it, “as far as the time frame is concerned, with respect to both the duration and sequence of events, the scientist is left free of biblical constraints in hypothesizing about cosmic origins”.15 In other words, their desire to save the Bible from being contradicted by scientific ‘fact’ has ultimately led these evangelicals to reinterpret the early chapters of Genesis and give it a meaning and significance quite different from what the original author intended.

But those evangelicals who feel the need to do this are rarely ever consistent. The same hermeneutic is never applied to the Gospels, for example. Like the creation account, the Virgin Birth, Christ’s miracles, and His bodily Resurrection are also scientifically impossible, yet evangelicals invariably have no problem accepting the record of these events as straightforward historical accounts. And the very atheists they are trying to appease note the gross inconsistency here.16

In any case, one of the primary contributing factors to this theological and hermeneutical reorientation appears to be a general ignorance of either theology or science—or both! Evangelicals need to realize that all science is provisional. Both the history of science and recent experience reveal that scientists are often wrong—indeed, spectacularly so! Furthermore, science is, by definition, confined to revealing truth about thenatural world. Science cannot tell us anything about the supernatural world. Science is not the enemy of Scripture—it simply complements it. Yet many Christians with a scientific background seem to have very little grasp of the philosophy and history of science, and very little appreciation of the epistemic basis for both scientific knowledge and biblical revelation. In other words, they have a philosophical blind-spot: they cannot see that scientific knowledge is not the absolute truth they think it is or wish it to be. This is illustrated by another comment from Dickson: “I agree that [the church] shouldn’t stick its head in now and tell the scientists what to do. My view is let the scientists do the science and let religious believers do what they do.”3

To allow someone to continue on the road to early, and ultimately eternal, death seems indifferent and uncaring at best, and calloused, unloving, and downright heartless at worst!

In addition, even when Scripture is cited, it often lacks authority. For example, regarding the campaign for gay marriage in Australia, Dickson thinks there is no point in trying to persuade gay people to leave their chosen lifestyle, because they hold their beliefs so strongly that any suggestion of change would immediately turn gay people away and prevent them from hearing more about Christianity.17 In fact, he believes that the church should apologize to gay people for its comments on homosexuality, and until it does, Christians have no right to speak about it! Why the church and Christian leaders should apologize for proclaiming what the Bible clearly teaches (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; 1 Corinthians 6:9–10) Dickson does not say. He rightly notes that we should still show compassion and care for gay people even though we profoundly disagree with their ideas. But how does this work in practice? Note that respect is rarely, if ever, shown to Christians who present rational and dispassionate arguments against homosexuality and gay marriage.18 Gay activists routinely harass, ridicule and abuse those who disagree with their beliefs, and especially those who voice their disagreements in public! The only Christian action that seems to please homosexuals is silence—which is effectively what Dickson advocates!

In any case, if someone is making bad choices and living a risky and extremely unhealthy and destructive lifestyle, isn’t warning and counselling them the most loving and compassionate thing we can do? To allow someone to continue on the road to early, and ultimately eternal, death seems indifferent and uncaring at best, and calloused, unloving, and downright heartless at worst!

The Scriptures also lose their authority when classical logic and the historical-grammatical method of interpretation are exchanged for postmodern relativism and personal intuition and experience. This means that—as David Wells pointed out—when it comes to interpreting Scripture, “[e]very person’s intuitions are granted equal value … . Common access to truth is understood to mean common possession of truth. If everyone’s intuitions stand on the same plane, it is assumed that they are equally valid, equally true, and equally useful.”19 Rather than a search for what God is saying to all of us, Bible studies descend into pools of ignorance where participants exchange thoughts about what some verse means to them personally. Derrida20 has infiltrated the church!

The Gospel is not about love but about justice; not ‘social justice’ but true moral justice.

This is not to say that experience should not play a part in our handling of Scripture. The Bible is, after all, a Christian’s guidebook to life since it reveals to us who God is, what He is like, and what He has done for us. Thus, our experience of God and His love and compassion, His grace and mercy, and His discipline should all be rooted in what the Bible teaches about God and His dealings with His people. Yet it appears that this experiential knowledge of God is often missing. Some Christians may have strong biblical knowledge, but their experience of God may still be lacking. One particular comment by Dickson appears to reveal this phenomenon: “And, for me, Christianity explains the world I live in, in such a spooky and deep way that I find I feel I have met the God I had a hunch was there based only on the beautiful elegant … .”3Dickson believes Christianity explains the world in a “spooky and deep way” and because of this he feels he has met the God he had an inkling was there. But if a person has really met God, wouldn’t that person surely know it?

When Christian leaders demonstrate such poor handling of Scripture and appear to have such shallow relationships with their God, is it any surprise that evangelical Christianity is, for the most part, making little head-way in the modern world? As Jesus said of the religious leaders in His own time, “[they] are in error because [they] do not know the Scriptures or the power of God” (Matthew 22:29).

Distortion of the Gospel and the Christian mission

The Gospel is not about love but about justice; not ‘social justice’ but true moral justice. All humanity has rebelled against God and His justice demands death. The good news is that Christ’s death and Resurrection has satisfied God’s demand for justice (figure 3). A Christian is someone who has accepted God’s gift of salvation through Christ, and who embarks on a spiritual journey with the help of the indwelling Spirit, in order to seek personal righteousness and to bring others to Christ. Thus, the Christian mission is not about making friends with atheists or gaining academic respectability with non-Christian intellectuals. It is not about being liked by, or gaining favour with, the media. It is to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” and to teach them to obey everything Christ commanded (Matthew 28:19–20).

Christ-death

Figure 3. Christ’s death and subsequent resurrection is the centrepiece of Christian doctrine and the pillar upon which the gospel of salvation rests, yet many Christian spokesmen seem more concerned about ‘social justice’ which is often just codespeak for neo-Marxism.

Yet, for many evangelicals, the quest for personal righteousness and the call to proclaim the Christian message to others has been replaced by a desire to feel morally superior: to feel as if you stand on the right side of a deeply moral argument. Moreover, interest in doctrine and truth and concern for the lost has gradually been replaced by a therapeutic faith that looks inward and is more focused on surviving the world instead of changing it.

Unlike Christ, many evangelicals have become entirely focused on ‘social justice’. Their concern for the poor appears limited to meeting their material needs, and many are completely uninterested in reaching out to the poor with the Gospel.21 For example, ostensibly Christian organizations like World Vision no longer preach the Gospel to the poor, but are content with meeting their material needs only:

“We are … a Christian organisation … . It is important to note, however, that we do not aim to convert people of other religions, nor do we restrict the help we provide to Christian areas only. We are not an evangelical organisation. We exist solely to help people who are hungry, sick or oppressed.”22

But don’t the poor also need to know that they are creatures of God, that they have rebelled against their Creator, that all people are sinful and inclined to do evil, and therefore stand condemned, but that there is salvation and deliverance through Jesus Christ?

In many evangelical churches and organizations, the central Christian message has been expunged and replaced with Christianized socialism. As Nobel Prize-winning economist Friedrich Hayek noted, clergymen have been active promoters of social justice, “while increasingly losing their faith in a supernatural revelation” and “appear to have sought a refuge and consolation in a new ‘social’ religion which substitutes a temporal for a celestial promise of justice, and who hope that they can thus continue their striving to do good.”23Similarly, Mark Steyn noted that “[m]ost mainline Protestant churches are, to one degree or another, post-Christian. If they no longer seem disposed to converting the unbelieving to Christ, they can at least convert them to the boggiest of soft-left political cliches.”24

This is not to say that addressing social issues is unimportant, but this should not be the church’s prime focus or priority. Themes of social justice (as properly defined by caring for the poor, refugees, abolishing slavery, etc.) are not the primary focus of, or are conspicuously absent from, Christ’s teachings and the other New Testament writings. This is because social transformation comes about as a result of spiritual transformation. Nevertheless, there is a tendency for vocal self-appointed Christian spokespersons—especially those that incline to the political left—to disparage and even condemn other Christians who have different ministry priorities, who reject their social justice theology and who view their social reform agenda as unbiblical and ineffective. Those who refuse to sign up to the socialist agenda of the ‘Christian left’ are derided as being uncaring and self-absorbed and part of a dumbed-down consumerist culture. Some have even suggested that Christians getting into politics are “really just right-wingers hijacking Christian language and imagery to cynically exploit Christian concerns for their own political benefit.”25 Such derision is not only unfair, it is presumptuous arrogance, yet all too typical of the hubris coming from some Christians on the political left. Moreover, it is ironic that vocal Christian spokespersons routinely condemn materialism or consumerism yet constantly talk only about ‘material justice’. They appear concerned only with material needs (i.e. material assistance for the poor, the oppressed, the ‘alien’, the vulnerable, asylum seekers, low-paid workers, etc.) and completely unconcerned with their spiritual needs even though it is a person’s spiritual standing that has eternal consequences.

In many evangelical churches and organizations, the central Christian message has been expunged and replaced with Christianized socialism.

The Australian Evangelical Alliance and other evangelical organizations have pushed for a ‘Public Theology Network’ linking theological and ethical institutions and ‘thinktanks’. The problem is that much of what passes for ‘public theology’ and Christian policy positions are completely divorced from both Scriptural teaching and political reality. In many instances, they seem to have been lifted straight from the green-left policy handbook! The Zadok Institute for Christianity and Society, for example, publishes a quarterly journal (Zadok Perspectives), recent editions of which include articles entitled “Being Carbon Accountable”, “How Green is your Church?” and “A National Day of Prayer on Climate Change”. Regular contributor Peter Crabb wrote, in an article entitled “An eye on the earth: when will we ever learn?”, that “[w]e cannot fight and conquer this land, we must live in companionship and harmony with it.”26 In another article entitled “Be fruitful and multiply—not anymore”, he stated: “The fundamental cause of the world’s environmental problems, and especially climate change, is that the human population is exceeding the earth’s carrying capacity.”27

Concerning the church’s response to the push for gay marriage in Australia, John Dickson makes the following revealing comments:

“Should the Christian church be able to legislate [its view of marriage]? I feel very awkward about that. A part of it is my reading of Scripture. I don’t see any basis in the Bible. And I don’t think anyone who takes the Bible seriously can point to Biblical passages that indicate the church has a right to legislate for general society, and for the first three hundred years of Christianity there was never any expectation they would be able to call the shots in Rome … . I oppose gay marriage at the level of the intellectual debate, the ethical debate … . But am I saying the church should be able to block Australian legislation? No, I’m not. I’m not saying that at all.”3

Thus, according to Dickson, because not all Australians are Christians, we have no right to advocate for legislation that accords with Christian morals and ethics, nor do we have any right to block legislation that goes against Christian morality. Christians have no right to legislate for general society. But Dickson’s position is absurd. Firstly, no society has a uniform set of morals and ethics. No law would ever be passed if it had to be endorsed by the whole of society. Secondly, aren’t those advocating for gay marriage wanting to legislate for general society, including forcing churches to ‘marry’ gay couples? Why is it acceptable for gay marriage advocates to legislate their morality for general society, yet inappropriate for Christians to oppose such legislation? This kind of inane and fatuous reasoning is all too common among evangelical spokesmen today.

It appears that many evangelical leaders are more interested in gaining respect and a media profile than expanding the kingdom of God.

In any case, much of the public commentary emanating from evangelicals today displays a great deal of political, legal, and economic naivety. Too many evangelicals appear to think that a doctorate in theology or ministry automatically qualifies them to speak out on matters of science, law, economics, industrial relations, etc. Not surprisingly, their utterings—if they receive any attention at all—are often greeted by true experts with the derision and contempt they deserve.

It appears that many evangelical leaders are more interested in gaining respect and a media profile than expanding the kingdom of God. Indeed, many sound just like other leftwing political lobbyists, albeit with a Christian face. One has to wonder if there is an element of vanity and egoism at play. Indeed, it appears that too many Christians are more interested in ‘feeling good’ than actually doing good. T.S. Eliot once said, “Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm—but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.”28

Serving God involves more than making self-righteous pronouncements and moral posturing. Jesus told a parable about a father who asked his two sons to work in his vineyard (Matthew 21:28–31). The first son initially refused but later changed his mind and went. The second son promised to work but never did so. Jesus’ point was that, when it comes to doing God’s will, it is not what we say that counts but what we actually do. Many Christians may say all the right things and have the best of intentions but if they are not actively ministering to God’s people or working to expand the kingdom of God, then they can hardly claim to be doing God’s will.

A call for reformation and revival

Jesus said:

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:13–16).

While there are many great evangelical people and churches, it is my contention that the evangelical movement in Australia and around the world has hidden its light and lost its saltiness. It is ultimately a crisis of leadership. Too many of our current evangelical leaders are more interested in ‘mainstreaming’—seeking the respect of secular powerbrokers and seeking favours from government. As J.P. Moreland has noted, we ought to be suspicious of evangelical leaders “whose primary agenda seems to be to remove embarrassment about being an evangelical and to assure their colleagues that they are really acceptable, rational people in spite of their evangelicalism.” He adds, “While we need to be sensitive to our unbelieving friends and colleagues, we should care far less about what the world thinks than about what God thinks of our intellectual life. Fidelity to God and His cause is the core commitment of a growing Christian mind.”29 As Christians, we should embrace the world’s ridicule, scorn and condemnation. Indeed, this is often proof that we are doing the right thing. As Jesus said, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11–12).

It should also be noted that those who strive for respect from academia and the mainstream media rarely, if ever, get it. Despite their silence on moral issues, their support for dubious causes or their compromises on controversial matters, they are still mocked and ridiculed. John Dickson, for example, in his appearance on the ‘Q&A’ program, was still mocked and ridiculed by Lawrence Krauss, despite his constant agreement with, and acquiescence to, Krauss’s views.3

Francis Schaeffer pointed out many years ago that “our culture, society, government, and law are in the condition they are in, not because of a conspiracy, but because the church has forsaken its duty to be the salt of the culture. It is the church’s duty (as well as its privilege) to do now what it should have been doing all the time—to use the freedom we do have to be that salt of the culture [emphasis in original].”30 Too many evangelical churches are moving away from Scriptural fidelity and sound doctrine in order to appear more ‘hip’ and appealing to the younger, idealistic, and post-modernist generation. For many Christians, a ‘good’ church is one that is culturally relevant and has a social conscience (which usually means a socialist conscience). As Wells has pointed out, love of God has been subsumed by love of neighbour, “And then this love of neighbor itself underwent further transformation so that faith came to mean little more than seeking justice in the world, and while that is a characteristically Christian concern, it is not distinctively Christian.”31

Evangelical leaders need to reassess what they are doing, where they are heading, and what is driving them. All leaders must ask, “Am I doing this because I love God and His people, or because I desire worldly recognition? Am I fulfilling the Great Commission? Am I preparing and strengthening my sheep for spiritual warfare?” Indeed, all Christians need to assess their spiritual standing. As Paul warned: “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths” (1 Timothy 4:3–4).

The evangelical movement needs to return to its scriptural roots and refocus on teaching sound theology derived from Scripture—especially the Genesis account of a supernatural creation some six thousand years ago, and the subsequent catastrophic global Flood, since these truths are fundamental to the meaning and coherency of the Christian worldview and Gospel. In addition, sound, biblically based theology is necessary for both Christian ethics and practice. Therefore, we do the greatest service to the next generation of Christians by passing on to them a true, undistorted picture of who God is and His acts in history, along with a clearly articulated view of the mission with which we have been entrusted. Our ultimate goal should be to stand in front of our God at the coming of His kingdom and hear Him declare, “Well done good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21).

 

Related Articles

Further Reading

Related Media

References and notes

  1. Slater, T., The Christian Cause in Australia, ethos.org.au/, accessed 13 May 2013. Return to text.
  2. Edwards, J., What’s in a Name? Faith and Life, p. 3, July 2009. Return to text.
  3. Dickson, J., Transcript of Q&A Program, ‘A Show About Nothing’, Australian Broadcasting Commission, 18 February 2013. Return to text.
  4. Monod, J., Interview broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Commission on 10 June 1976, as a tribute to Monod and entitled ‘The Secret of Life’, cited in Ham, K., The relevance of creation, Ex Nihilo (Casebook II) 6(2):18, 1983. Return to text.
  5. Tozer, A.W., The Knowledge of the Holy, STL Publishing, Carlisle, UK, p. 14, 1987. Return to text.
  6. Edgar, B., Eight Core Christian Values, ethos.org.au/, accessed 13 May 2013. Return to text.
  7. Koehler, L. and Baumgartner, W., The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, E.J. Brill, Leiden, 1994, s.v. ִמִשׁפָּט.. Return to text.
  8. Wells, D.F., No Place for Truth, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI, p. 101, 1993. Return to text.
  9. Author of A Universe from Nothing: Why there is something rather than nothing, Free Press, New York, 2012. See review, Reynolds, D.A., Godless universe untenable, J. Creation 27(1):30–35, 2013. Return to text.
  10. Gesenius’ Hebrew grammar (Kautzsch, E., Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar, 2,sup>nd edn, translated by Cowley, A.E., Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 132–133, 1910) states: “One of the most striking peculiarities in the Hebrew consecution of tenses is the phenomenon that, in representing a series of past events, only the first verb stands in the perfect, and the narration is continued in the imperfect.” Indeed, this is exactly what we find in Genesis 1: the first verb, בָּרָא(bārā , ‘created’), is a Qal perfect, which is then followed by a series of Qal imperfects, including ִוַיּאֹמֶר(wāyyōʾmĕr, ‘and … said’), ִ וַיַּרְא(wāyyār, ‘and … saw’) and ִ וַיְהִי(wāyehî , ‘and … was’). At the higher literary level, typical elements of Hebrew narrative include (1) point of view, (2) characterization, (3) dialogue, (4) narration framework or glue, (5) plot, and (6) repetition. Αll of these elements are clearly exhibited in the early chapters of Genesis. The point of view is clearly that of an observer on earth. The Serpent is characterized as shrewd and cunning. Dialogue occurs between God and Adam, Adam and Eve, and the Serpent and Eve. The grammatical constructions outlined above form the narration framework, and the plot involves the creation of mankind in the image of God in a pristine universe, mankind’s rebellion against his Creator, and the cursing of creation as a consequence. The account also contains a great deal of repetition. E.g. “And then God said …”, “Then there was evening and then there was morning—the Xth day”, and “God saw that it was good.” Return to text.
  11. Runia, D.T., Philo, Alexandrian and Jew, Exegesis and Philosophy: Studies on Philo of Alexandria, Variorum, Aldershot, UK, p. 2, 1990. Return to text.
  12. Achtemier, P. (Ed.), Harper’s Bible Dictionary, Harper and Row, San Francisco, s.v. ‘Philo’, 1985. Return to text.
  13. For a comprehensive discussion of the early Jewish and Christian views on creation and Genesis, see Kulikovsky, A.S., Creation and Genesis: an historical survey,CRSQ 43(4):206–219, 2007. See also Zuiddam, B., Does Genesis allow any scientific theory of origin?—a response to J.P. Dickson, J. Creation 26(1):106–115, 2012. Return to text.
  14. See also Catchpoole, D., Billions of years makes Christians dumb (and atheists loud): A brilliant way to muzzle Christians: Get them to believe in long ages, creation.com/muzzle, 23 April 2013. Return to text.
  15. Kline, M.G., Space and Time in the Genesis Cosmogony, Perspectives on Science and the Christian Faith 48:2, 1996. Return to text.
  16. For example, atheistic evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne, as documented in Smith, C., Sleeping with the enemy: Is teaching theistic evolution the solution?, creation.com/sleeping-with-the-enemy, 2 May 2013. Return to text.
  17. Dickson, J., Interview with Simon Smart on the issue of gay marriage in Australia, publicchristianity.org/, 22 June 2012. Return to text.
  18. For example, the rationally argued books by Muehlenberg, B., Strained Relations: The Challenge of Homosexuality, Freedom Publishing, Balwyn, VIC, Australia, 2011; and Brown, M., A Queer Thing Happened to America: And What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been, EqualTime Books, 2011. Return to text.
  19. Wells, ref. 8, p. 214. Return to text.
  20. Jacques Derrida (1930–2004) founded ‘Deconstruction’, which denied that written texts have an objective meaning outside the subjective preferences of its reader. Return to text.
  21. In fact, they usually do not even meet their material needs in the long run, because the socialistic wealth redistribution keeps them poor and dependent, and hinders them from helping themselves. As in Communist countries, the rulers have exchanged inequality of wealth for equality of poverty. See Kulikovsky, A.S., A Biblical View of Economics and Industrial Relations; or: Why everything the Evangelical Alliance says about economics is wrong , kulikovskyonline.net, July 2007.Return to text.
  22. Email communication from Glenn Nelson (World Vision Australia) to Andrew Kulikovsky, 20 October, 2005. Return to text.
  23. Hayek, F.A., Law, Legislation and Liberty, 3 vol., University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2:66, 1973–1979. Return to text.
  24. Steyn, M., America Alone, Regnery, Washington D.C., p. 75, 2006. Return to text.
  25. See, for example, Barns, I., Representing Jesus: Public Christianity in a late modern world, ethos.org.au/, accessed 13 may 2013. Return to text.
  26. Crabb, P. An eye on the earth: when will we ever learn? Zadok Perspectives 103, 2009. Return to text.
  27. Crabb, P. Be fruitful and multiply—not anymore, Zadok Perspectives 99, 2008. Return to text.
  28. Eliot, T.S., The Cocktail Party, Faber and Faber, London, p. 111, 1974. Return to text.
  29. Moreland, J.P. and Willard, D., Love Your God with all Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul, NavPress, Colorado Springs, CO, pp. 110–111, 1997.Return to text.
  30. Schaeffer, F.A., A Christian Manifesto in The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer: A Christian Worldview, 5 vols, Crossway Books, Westchester, Ill, 5:447, 1996. Return to text.
  31. Wells, ref. 8, p. 254. Return to text.

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October 1, 2014

News From the War on Christianity

Filed under: Uncategorized — augustinehippo1 @ 9:17 am

College orders student to ‘dumb down’ religious show

371-Justin-Graves.jpg

The folks in the drama department at Cape Fear Community College are just fine with staging productions about rape and incest. But when it comes to staging a show with Christian themes – well, that’s a problem.

So says Alliance Defending Freedom, a religious advocacy group that claims the school’s drama instructor ordered a student to “dumb down” the religious nature of an upcoming production because it might offend and anger people.

ADF attorney Travis Barham wrote a letter to the college alleging that drama instructor Jack Landry told Justin Graves he “could not support the overtly Christian show” because the Wilmington, N.C., college is a publicly-funded institution.

Justin is a 17-year-old homeschooler who has dual enrollment at the college. A Christian and an up-and-coming magician, he proposed a faith-based magic show featuring skits and illusions that “illustrate a life changed by Christ.”

“So you ordered him to minimize or ‘dumb down’ the religious content until it was not ‘obvious,’” Barham wrote in the complaint. 

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2014/10/03/college-orders-student-to-dumb-down-religious-show/

 

Are Christians in America Under Attack?

There is a great deal in the news of late, much of it fueled by our current political cycle and the contraception debate, about religious freedom. 

Are Christians in America under attack?

It’s been said that the U.S. is becoming a “secular country,” that there’s a clash between “man’s laws and God’s laws,” and even that our current president has launched a “war on religion.”

Compared to the violence against Christians in many places around the world, the answer is no. Christians in America experience nothing compared to the persecution of Christians in such places as Nigeria, Iran, Pakistan, Egypt or Syria.

What is happening in America is an increasing hostility and intolerance toward Christian beliefs and values that many perceive to be an attack on religious freedom. In current American culture, you are free to be a Christian as long as you don’t actually live out your faith, vote your faith, take a stand in relation to your faith, or believe others should embrace your faith.

In other words, it can be privately engaging, but must remain socially irrelevant.  

Read More:http://www.crosswalk.com/blogs/dr-james-emery-white/are-christians-in-america-under-attack.html

 

School accused of ‘purging’ Christian books

It’s hard to imagine that any school would have a problem with a book about a Christian family that helped Jews escape the Holocaust.

But Springs Charter Schools in Temecula, Calif., not only had a problem with “The Hiding Place,” they also took issue with any other book that was written by a Christian author or included a Christian message.

“We do not purchase sectarian educational materials and do not allow sectarian materials on our state-authorized lending shelves,” Superintendent Kathleen Hermsmeyer wrote in a letter to attorneys at the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI).

Why would a public charter school take issue with books written by Christians? Pacific Justice Institute is representing a parent who discovered what they called a “Christian purging” of the charter school’s library.

Pacific Justice Institute is representing a parent who discovered what they called a “Christian purging” of the charter school’s library.  

Read More: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2014/09/23/school-accused-purging-christian-books/

 

Why I’m glad the NFL called an audible on Muslim prayer

It’s been said that football is the unofficial religion of America. And while that point might be debatable, there’s no denying the relationship between God and the Gridiron.

From Dixie to the Dakotas, you can be certain find churches serving up plates of chicken and biscuits before the Friday night game or cheerleaders writing Bible verses on run-through banners. And it’s almost guaranteed there’s a Baptist preacher invoking the Almighty in a makeshift press box (provided some ill-tempered atheist doesn’t object.)

If a Christian football player can pray after scoring touchdown, a Muslim player should be able to pray.

This intersection of piety and pigskin was best explained in the great Gospel song, “Dropkick Me Jesus.”

“Dropkick me Jesus, through the goal posts of life – end over end, neither left nor to right.”

So you might understand my surprise when I discovered that a professional football player got slapped with a penalty for praying. It happened Monday night during Kansas City’s 41-14 blowout win over New England. The player intercepted a pass and ran it back 39 yards for a touchdown. While his teammates celebrated, the player dropped to his knees to pray. The referee threw a flag. He said the prayer was a violation of the NFL’s rule governing celebrations. Unsportsmanlike conduct. Football fans erupted on Facebook and Twitter – denouncing the referee’s decision. And while the penalty did not affect the outcome of the game – there was something a bit unsettling for punishing a player for offering a prayer to his God.  Read More: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2014/09/30/why-im-glad-nfl-called-audible-on-muslim-prayer/

 

SHOCKING POLL: AMERICANS WANT MORE RELIGION IN POLITICS

Dustin Siggins : Oct 1, 2014 : LifeSiteNews
“There should be no partisan divide over free speech and freedom from government censorship and coercion. Every American who understands the basis upon which this country was founded should support even greater freedom and more participation by citizens in public life.” -Greg Scott, ADF.

As part of a backlash against what some have called “the devaluing of America,” more Americans support churches having a greater role in political and cultural issues.(Photo: Chris Christie at prayer service/Mitsu Yasukawa/ Staff Photographer/via NorthJersey.com)

In a new survey published on Monday, Pew Research found that 49 percent of Americans “say churches and other houses of worship should express their views on social and political issues.” This is an increase from 43 percent in 2010. Nearly three-quarters of Americans (72 percent) think religion has less influence on society, an increase of five percent since 2010.

Pew found that 54 percent of religiously affiliated Americans are supportive of churches expressing views on politics and public policy, an increase from 45 percent in 2010. Likewise, 48 percent of religiously affiliated Americans believe there is “too little” religious talk in the nation, compared with 41 percent four years ago. And 35 percent believe churches should endorse candidates – up by more than one-third since 2010.

The opinions of religiously unaffiliated were unchanged on the idea of churches expressing viewpoints and virtually the same when it comes to whether there is “too little” talk of religion in the nation.

Surprisingly, 23 percent of unaffiliated Americans felt that churches should endorse candidates, a rise of eight percent from 2010.

While the opinions of Democrats and the “religiously unaffiliated” were consistent with its 2010 survey results related to the role of religion in public life, Americans with religious affiliations are far more likely to support active participation in public life by pastors and other religious leaders.  

Read More : http://www.breakingchristiannews.com/articles/display_art.html?ID=14683

 

 

 ISIS-to-Iraqi-Christians-Obey-Pay-or-Leave

BARTILLA, Iraq — Throughout its Iraq campaign, ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) has targeted Christians. Many fled to the relative safety of Kurdish Iraq, but most still fear the wrath of the world’s most brutal jihadist group.

Pastor Majeed, CBN News’ guide, drove with us toward Nineveh where most of the country’s besieged Christians have fled. It wasn’t long until we went as far as the Kurdish army, called the Peshmerga, would allow us to go. “So this is the end line. We cannot go any more,” Majeed explained. To travel beyond the town of Bartilla is to risk running into the ISIS. The jihadist group controls the mountains not far from the town. A few kilometers down the road, there’s an ISIS checkpoint. About 25,000 Christians have fled to Bartilla, but CBN News couldn’t find one who would talk on camera out of fear of retribution. The conditions in Bartilla are abysmal. There’s no water because ISIS turned it off.  And there’s no electricity because Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki’s government turned that off. People here are protected by the Peshmerga, who have set up a perimeter around the town and a few other towns in the area. These people know that ISIS could come in and kill most of the people here. They’re asking for prayer from Christians around the world. One Christian leader said they’re asking for prayer just as the Apostle Paul did, praying that God will protect the town and the region. Bartilla lies just a few miles from Nineveh or Mosul, the first major conquest for ISIS just a few days ago. The town was nearly deserted. While Christians refused to talk on camera, CBN News talked to one of the house church leaders. On our way back to the Kurdish capital, Erbil, Pastor Majeed told us when ISIS captured Nineveh, it gave Christian residents three choices: obey, pay or leave. “That they are not allowed to open their churches. And even if they open them they will burn the churches,” Majeed explained. “And also the Christians have been requested — been asked to pay the tax [dhimmi, the tax for non-Muslims under Islamic rule].” “If not, they can leave Nineveh,” he continued. “And if they don’t leave and don’t pay the tax, they should give their heads.”  He was talking about beheading

 

 

 

Jesus-Republicans-and-NRA-banned-on-school-website

One of the lessons that Andrew Lampart learned from being on his school’s debate team was to gather facts for both sides of an argument. So last month when his law class was instructed to prepare for a debate on gun control, Andrew went online using the school’s Internet service.

“I knew it was important to get facts for both sides of the case,” said the 18-year-old at Nonnewaug High School in Woodbury, Connecticut.

Andrew decided to set aside his debate preparation and started researching other conservative websites. He soon discovered that he had unfettered access to liberal websites, but conservative websites were blocked.

When Andrew tried to log onto the National Rifle Association’s website, he realized there was a problem – a big problem.

“Their website was blocked,” he told me. Andrew decided to try the Second Amendment Foundation’s website. That too, was blocked.

His curiosity got the best of him – so Andrew tried logging on to several pro-gun control websites. Imagine his surprise when he discovered the pro-gun control websites were not blocked.

“I became curious as to why one side was blocked and the other side was not,” he said.
Andrew decided to set aside his debate preparation and started researching other conservative websites. He soon discovered that he had unfettered access to liberal websites, but conservative websites were blocked.

For example, the Connecticut Republican Party website was blocked. The Connecticut Democratic Party website was not blocked. National Right to Life was blocked, but Planned Parenthood was not blocked. Connecticut Family, a pro-traditional marriage group, was blocked, but LGBT Nation was not blocked.

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workplace-employment-religious-discrimination-research

As a Christian and social researcher, I have heard many stories over the years of religious discrimination in the workplace. Some are compelling and troubling, others are trivial and frivolous. And it seems like the workplace climate may be getting worse: the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) considered 3,721 religious discrimination complaints in 2013, up from 1,709 in 1997.  But the EEOC drops about four in ten of those complaints—a figure that’s remarkably stable across religions. One big reason is that discrimination can be surprisingly difficult to prove. If a member of a social group is treated badly, is it because of their social group? Was he laid off because his boss was tired of giving him Sundays off? Was she reassigned because customers were wary of being served by a Muslim in a headscarf? Were they discriminated against, or do bad things just happen? I started wondering: How bad is religious discrimination in America, really? Horror stories abound. But are they examples of a systemic problem, or a few bad actors? Do some groups have it worse than others? My colleague Michael Wallace and I conducted a large-scale field study to test for religious discrimination in one area of public life: the job application process. We found that not only is religious discrimination alive and well, it is so strong that simply adding one word to a résumé—a reference to a particular religion—reduced employer callbacks by almost 40 percent. What 9,600 Résumés Reveal:

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War on Christians Increasing 
BY PAUL MARSHALL, CP OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

June 16, 2014|10:27 am

For at least three reasons, the contemporary persecution of Christians demands attention: It is occurring on a massive scale, it is underreported, and in many parts of the world it is rapidly growing.

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life finds that Christians are suffering persecution in more places today than any other religious group; between 2006 and 2012, Pew says, they were targeted for harassment in 151 countries-three-quarters of the world’s states. Similar findings are reported by the Vatican, Newsweek, the Economist, and the 60-year-old Christian support group Open Doors. Most people in the West are unaware of these facts, though that may be changing.

A few cases do get press coverage-the desperate plight of Meriam Ibrahim, for instance, who gave birth in a Sudanese prison just the other day. She was raised a Christian, but after officials learned that her long-absent father was a Muslim; she was sentenced to death for apostasy-for leaving Islam. And since in Sudan a Muslim woman may not be married to a Christian, her marriage to her American husband was declared void, and she was convicted of adultery and sentenced to 100 lashes to be administered before her execution. These punishments will be dropped if she renounces her Christian faith, which she steadfastly refuses to do.

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550-Egyptian-Christian-girls-kidnapped-and-forced-into-islam-since-2011

A new report from the Association of Victims of Abduction and Forced Disappearance (AVAFD) states that more than 550 Egyptian Christian women and girls have been kidnapped since 2011. The kidnapped women are then forced to adopt Islam and marry their captors. 

 The AVAFD reported that the women’s ages ranged from 14 to 40. Many of the women are raped; many are not even sought after by police. Authorities instead claim the women left their families by choice. 

 Police did not get involved with 14-year-old Nadia Makram’s case, though her family told police the name of her captor. 

 AVAFD founder, Ebram Louis said that kidnappings have increased in Egypt since Hosni Mubarak fell from power. “Before the revolution, five or six girls would disappear each month. Now the average is 15.”

/

duck-dynasty-controversy-rocks-air-force-base

A union representing federal employees at Eglin Air Force base in Florida is demanding that two senior management officials be removed from their posts

because they put decals on their personal trucks supporting Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson. Alan Cooper, the executive vice president of the local chapter of the American Federation of Government Employees, said one of the officials also displayed the “I Support Phil” decals in his office last month and offered them to subordinates. “The BUE (bargaining union employee) was clearly offended and disgusted that a senior management official would display the decal on their pod,” read an email Cooper wrote. “We took offense,” Cooper told me in a telephone interview. “These two particular individuals have a great amount of influence over individuals who may be gay, who may be African-American – and we have a concern they should not be in a position to exert that influence when it comes to promotions.”In an email that was sent to union members, Cooper said the Duck Dynasty decal may be a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. “Phil Robertson has made disparaging remarks against a vast array of people, which created a firestorm in the media in the recent past,” Cooper wrote.

..

Common Core dumbs down government schools.

There is growing concern that the controversial Common Core Standards could lead to a dumbing down of college courses.Brittany Corona of The Heritage Foundation says experts who are looking at Common Core are concluding it is “subpar” and dumbing things down.

She points to Dr. Sandra Stotsky (see video below), a respected education reformer known for her expertise on English Language Arts. Stotsky quit the Core’s language arts committee over the emphasis on informational texts and a diminished focus on traditional and classical literature.
“We are a very naive people,” Stotsky told Breitbart News last January. “Everyone was willing to believe that the Common Core standards are ‘rigorous,’ ‘competitive,’ ‘internationally benchmarked,’ and ‘research-based.’ They are not.”
The same Breitbart story also noted that David Coleman, an early leader of Common Core, plans to “ensure that the SAT, ACT, AP, and GED exams are all aligned with the Common Core standards.”
Coleman was elected president of the College Board, which oversees college entrance standards, in 2012.
Corona says Common Core is “not something for kids to be aspiring to. Everything’s being conformed to these mediocre standards.”

.

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Bowdoin college will no longer recognize evangelical group

An evangelical group at Bowdoin College will no longer be recognized by the

university, after 40 years of gathering for Bible study, prayer and worship. The Bowdoin Christian Fellowship has lost its privileges to be acknowledged by the college for the group’s refusal to adhere to the school’s anti-discrimination policy. According to the policy, any student, regardless of religious affiliation, should be permitted to run for election as leader of a group. But the Bowdoin Christian Fellowship believes that only students who adhere to Christian values should be allowed to lead reports the New York Times.  

 “It would compromise our ability to be who we are as Christians if we can’t hold our leaders to some sort of doctrinal standard,” said former Bowdoin Christian Fellowship leader Zackary Suhr.

 The group currently has 25 regular members. They plan to continue to meet informally in the fall, though the organization no longer will have access to certain buildings on campus; advisers have already had their keys revoked. 

 Students expressed their disappointment with the college’s decision. “It’s hard socially to find people on this campus who make faith a strong part of their identity — people who really understand me and who I can really be open with. This group has been a tremendous resource for me.” said former leader Reid Wilson.

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Shocker: Christian movie goers demand accuracy for biblical films.


A survey has concluded that Christian moviegoers want to see films that are

biblically accurate. The poll, conducted by Christian News Service and American Insights, found that “historical and biblical accuracy is important” to most Christians.

 “This poll was conducted for the purpose of guiding the film and television industry in its production of both historically-based films and movies that explore questions about God. The results clearly show that the public will not be toyed with in regard to accuracy in both biblical and historical accounts,” said president and CEO of Christian News Service Russ Jones. 

 Specific findings of the survey included the following: 

79 percent of Christian respondents indicated the importance of biblical accuracy for Christian films
74 percent of Christian respondents said they are likely to see a Christian film
80 percent of Christian respondents said they were interested to the the coming “Exodus” film if it is biblically accurate
If “Exodus” does not follow scripture, only 29 percent of Christian respondents were interested in viewing the film

Atheist group Angry about Christian Adam and Eve theme park

 A park planned in Sioux City is getting national attention.

The Shepherd’s Garden, a Christian-themed park, was recently was awarded $140,000 from the state through a Vision Iowa grant. It’s meant to “assist projects that will provide recreational, cultural, entertainment and educational attractions.” The money would go towards building and planting green spaces in the park, but not for any

religious symbols.

But the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation is fighting the funding, saying using public money to promote Christian ideals violates the First Amendment of the Constitution. What’s more, according to the foundation, the grant would violate Iowa’s own constitution, which “prohibits funding of religious spaces.”

“The whole park’s purpose is religious which means the government can’t be supporting it at all, any part of it,” said FFRF attorney Andrew Seidel.

Seidel penned a letter to Cathy Reece, chairwoman of the Iowa Economic Development Authority, which manages Vision Iowa, calling for the funding to be rescinded.

The Shepherd’s Garden fundraising brochure quotes Psalm 23 as a guide for the park and invites donors to “create a legacy to the ongoing role the Christian faith has had in shaping the life of this community.”

The garden’s brochure goes on to say, “Shepherd’s Garden is more than a park, it has been conceived and designed to be a visible reminder that God’s presence is not confined to sacred institutions and buildings, but is very much a part of the public sphere.”

 

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Missouri Principal Angers Atheists with God References

 

A Missouri high school principal who garnered thunderous applause and a starring role in a viral video for a commencement speech in which he repeatedly invoked God in ways to dodge First Amendment objections has atheists seeing red.

Lebanon High School Principal Kevin Lowery can be seen on a 3-minute YouTube clip reminding graduates that the nation’s motto of “In God We Trust” can be found on U.S. currency and in Francis Scott Key’s original version of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Lowery also wryly noted during the May 23 commencement that even though “God is reflected in the very fabric” of the nation, it would be inappropriate to mention The Almighty at a secular ceremony.

“So while it would not be politically correct for us to have an official prayer this evening, I would like for us to have a moment of silence in honor of tonight’s graduates,” Lowery told students. “Thank you. And just in case you’re interested, during my moment of silence, I gave thanks to God for these great students, their parents, their teachers and for this community.”

 .

The Remarkable Faith of Mariano Rivera

“Now I have a new job, probably better described as a calling — and that is to glorify the Lord and praise His name and show the wonders that await those who seek Him and want to experience His grace, peace and mercy. With the Lord, all things are possible.” -Mariano Rivera

Mo (Los Angeles, CA)—Plucked from the obscurity of a Panamanian fishing village where he lived in a two-room house, Mariano Rivera became the greatest relief pitcher of baseball history in “The House That Ruth Built”—New York’s Yankee Stadium. At every step, he gave credit to God for his success, acknowledging the Lord as the One who empowered his brilliant career. (Photo via God Reports)

Mariano grew up along the shores of the Gulf of Panama, in Puerto Caimito, where his father captained a 90-foot fishing vessel. His “dingy cement home on a dirt road” had a beat-up tin roof and no electricity or running water when his parents moved in. Mariano didn’t try on a real baseball glove until he was 16. Until that time, he and his friends fashioned together gloves from “a milk carton, a bat from a stick,” and a ball made from wrapping a rock in fishing nets and tape as they played along the shore.

He dropped out of high school in the ninth grade and began working on his father’s fishing boat so he could earn $50 a week for mechanic’s school, he relates in his autobiography, “The Closer.”

When Mariano was 18, he noticed a striking change in his cousin, Vidal Ovalle, and he asked him about it.

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 Denzel Washington tells actors to pray

“I pray that you all put your shoes way under the bed at night so that you gotta get on your knees in the morning to find them. And while you’re down there, thank God for grace and mercy and understanding. We all fall short of the glory. We all got plenty.” -Denzel Washington

Denzel Washington(Hollywood, CA)—Denzel Washington recently told a group of young actors that a good way to make sure you pray every morning is to put your shoes “way under the bed at night” so you “gotta get on your knees in the morning.”(Photo via Facebook)

The Academy Award-winning actor was seen speaking to the young people in a video R&B singer and actor Tyrese Gibson posted on Facebook Sunday. He encouraged the group of seemingly aspiring actors to use their talent for good and always remember to pray.

 

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nearly-50-percent-of-Americans-Support-Creationism-says-new-poll-/

A Gallup poll released earlier this week suggests that nearly 50 percent of Americans continue to believe that God created human beings “in present form” in the past 10,000 years. According to Gallup’s report, 42 percent of Americans assert this perspective, a figure which has stayed relatively consistent since the question was first asked in 1982, when 44 percent of respondents agreed with it. (It peaked in 1994 and 1999 with 47 percent.) Thirty-one percent of Americans agreed with the statement that affirmed that God guided an evolutionary process from which humans evolved; only 19 percent of those surveyed said that the evolutionary process was devoid of the divine.

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.. Baker forced to bake wedding cake for Lesbian couple and undergo reeducation training A family owned bakery has been ordered to make wedding cakes for gay couples

and guarantee that its staff be given comprehensive training on Colorado’s anti-discrimination laws after the state’s Civil Rights Commission determined the Christian baker violated the law by refusing to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, in Lakewood, Colorado was directed to change his store policies immediately and force his staff to attend the training sessions. For the next two years, Phillips will also be required to submit quarterly reports to the commission to confirm that he has not turned away customers based on their sexual orientation. .

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Drive Through Prayer Lanes Spreading “People go to Dunkin’ Donuts for coffee, not because it’s the best coffee, but because it’s the most convenient.  In a similar way, this is a port of entry for somebody to begin to connect with God in an intentional kind of way.”  So explains the pastor of the latest church to open a drive-through lane for people seeking prayer. Churches from Florida to Kansas and Illinois to California are picking up the trend.  One purchased a nearby bank building, staffed it with volunteers, and opened for

 

people to drive through.  The church uses the bank’s deposit tube for people who want to write down their prayer requestsrather than speak to a church member.  The strategy is working.  People have asked volunteers to pray for family members and other problems; one woman asked the church to pray for her daughter, who had moved to Israel and was entering the Israeli army. When I first read about this phenomenon, I agreed with a critic who warned that it “reinforces this idea of prayer being more like a vending machine.  We drive up to the window, make our selection, put in our order, and get our request fulfilled.  That’s a self-serving distortion of the Christian experience.”  Upon reflection, I realized that the same can be said of any prayer request, whenever and however we make it.  Transactional religion has been with us since the first supplicant made the first sacrifice to his or her deity for the purpose of being blessed as a result. .

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.President Obama Proclaims Jun-LGBT Month Celebrates Extending Immigration Family Benefits to Gay Couples

President Barack Obama on Friday proclaimed June as being the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender pride month, after celebrating that his administration is also extending family and immigration benefits to legally married gay couples and calling

for more freedoms for gays in the workplace.

“I, Barack Obama, president of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2014 as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender pride month,” declared Obama in remarks released by the White House Friday.

“I call upon the people of the United States to eliminate prejudice everywhere it exists, and to celebrate the great diversity of the American people,” he added.

Before making the declaration, Obama highlighted some key victories of the LGBT activist lobby made possible under his administration.

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Church pulls ‘hell’ sign after police probe Tuesday, May 27, 2014 (12:39 am) A Baptist church agreed to take down a sign about hell after police investigated the message as a “hate incident,” reports the Daily Mail. A passerby in Norfolk, England, complained about the sign, which said non-Christians would “burn in hell,” and showed flames below the words, “If you think there is no God you better be right!”

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US Seeks to Promote Historic LGBT sites as National Monuments (Fresno Bee / Worthy News)– The National Park Service is launching an initiative to make places and people of significance to the history of lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual Americans part of the national narrative.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is convening a panel of 18 scholars nextmonth that will be charged with exploring the LGBT movement’s story in areas such as law, religion, media, civil rights and the arts. The committee will identify relevant sites and its work will be used to evaluate them for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, designation as National Historic Landmarks, or consideration as national monuments, Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis said.

 

.. VA Hospital Hides Jesus Behind Curtain I may have figured out why the Department of Veterans Affairs had such difficulty finding time to treat patients. It’s because it was working overtime to give its chapels a religiously neutral makeover. But as VA officials in Iron Mountain, Mich., learned, one man’s renovation is another man’s desecration. Some folks in Iron Mountain became infuriated earlier this month when they discovered that statues of Jesus and Mary, along with a cross and altar, were hidden

behind a curtain in the chapel of the VA hospital there. The chapel still has stained glass windows, though for how long is unclear. A VA hospital spokesman told me they are still trying to figure out what to do with the windows. The decision to hide the religious icons came after the National Chaplain Center conducted an on-site inspection and determined the hospital’s chapel was not in compliance with government regulations. Richard Riley, pastor of Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church, called the move “exceedingly disappointed.” .

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Pro-life-group-excluded-from-peace-parade-for-being-pro-life

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Rochester, NY (LiveActionNews) —Every year in Rochester, NY, an organization called Metro Justice holds a Peace Parade on Memorial Day . The organization claims to fight for “economic, social, and racial justice,” but their efforts have been compromised in the past where the pre-born are involved.

The pro-life organization Feminists for Nonviolent Choices (FFNVC) became a victim of Metro Justice’s dichotomous view of peace when they were excluded from the organization’s peace parade earlier this week..

.United Methodist Church may split over homosexuality  A divide may be imminent for the United Methodist Church, as the denomination cannot reconcile differences over homosexuality. 

 Religion News Service reports 80 UMC pastors believe that the split cannot be avoided, even by agreeing to disagree on gay matters.

“We can no longer talk about schism as something that might happen in the future. Schism has already taken place in our connection,” Rev. Maxie Dunnam, former president of Asbury Theological Seminary said.

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california-bill-modernizes-birth-certificates-for-gay-parents A California bill that allows gay parents to identify as “parent” instead of “mother” or“father” on birth certificates was passed by the state assembly. The bill also 2_moms_listed_on_baby_s_birth_certificat_645880001_424846_ver1.0_320_240allows multiple people to be listed as parents on birth certificates, with no limit given. The bill seeks to adhere to the shifting definition of family in society. “The definition of a family needs to be more flexible, and same-sex parents should not be discriminated against when filling out a birth certificate,” said Democrat Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez. .  stand-with-civility-but-stand Civility counts for a great deal in a society in which representative self-government means substantial and sometimes grave differences of opinion.  No country divided by opposing opinions can survive if its citizens take up arms against one another due to political disagreements.  A certain war waged on our soil from 1861-1865 proves it. My friends and colleagues in the conservative movement are right to call for civility in public discourse.  Talking beats violence, no question.  I once heard the late Israeli diplomat Abba Eban say that he would even negotiate with then-Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi should the latter ever “experience an isolated spasm of lucidity.”  Good counsel, that. debateYet some of our philosophical and political opponents don’t want civil conversation in which views are presented and arguments made with respect and clarity.  They want either our acquiescence or our suppression. “Civility” can be a cloak used to mask an agenda of dominance.  Agree with me, or give-in to my viewpoint, and you’re a nice, civil person.  Disagree, and you’re either stupid or evil – and, either way, uncivil. “Those who talk most about civility,” wrote Richard John Neuhaus in his landmark work, The Naked Public Square, “usually define it in terms of their accustomed way of doing things.  ‘Their way of doing things means they continue to be in control.  We mean to take over – nicely, if possible, but if that’s not possible, well, civility is not the highest of the virtues.’” In the past few days, we have witnessed two dramatic events demonstrating that many on the Left don’t really want civility in discourse or tolerance of difference.  They want conquest.  They want to shut-up their opponents through whatever means necessary short of actual, physical attacks, and are more than glad to take advantage of an incoherent judiciary to obtain what they desire.

.More Lies from the Religion of Peace Islamic deceit strikes again. Delegates from the Council on American-Islamic Relations visit a chapter of the Franciscan Sisters. And tell a pack of lies.

CAIR and ISNA (Islamic Society of North America) were unindicted co-conspirators of the Holy Land Foundation, a front organization for Hamas, a designated, chartered terrorist group. They are no different from the Muslims who are killing Christians and Jews throughout the world; the same as Boko Haram that kidnapped, converted and killed the female students in Nigeria; the same as those who burned to death male students just weeks before; and the same as those who recently destroyed entire villages in Nigeria, burned down 200 homes and butchered 16 while intoning Allahu Akbar. They differ only in their attire.

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 .God alive and well in the Military

‘God’s still working in the military,’ Navy chaplain says FORT WORTH (BP) — After 40 days and 40 nights in the Kuwaiti desert, the First Battalion, Fifth Marine Regiment crossed the line of departure into harm’s way in Iraq on March 20, 2003 — the start of what would become known as Operation Iraqi Freedom. “We had the first man killed in action in the whole war in our unit and fought what many believe is the most decisive battle in the fall of Baghdad,” said Carey Cash, a Navy chaplain assigned to the regiment. Yet in the midst of physical war, a spiritual battle for the lives of these Marines was already underway as God brought revival to the unit. In the battalion of 1,000 men, Cash said, “about one out of four had a profound spiritual awakening.”  

.Eradication-of-christianity-in-northern-cameroon “There are no Christians anymore in Gorea. The light of the gospel of Jesus Christ is quenched in that village,” Pastor Leon Badoka*tearfully shared with an Open Doors

worker. “It is a (spiritual) war that Christians should have won, but now some of the Christians have betrayed us and joined our persecutors. The church in Gorea will probably be transformed into a mosque. This is the result of a determined process to eradicate Christianity in the area. The same is happening in other villages across the north.” Over the past year, Muslims have waged a fierce intimidation campaign against Christians in Gorea, sending anonymous written threats to kill them and burn down their churches. In April 2013, local teens carried out the threats, setting the church ablaze and scattering the Christians Though some of the Christians returned a few weeks later, it seems that the pressure has now simply become too much. Many of them, including two church officials, have followed the example of a church elder who rejected Christ by embracing Islam last year.  

.Church-of-Scotland-to-debate-ordination-of-gay-people EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND (Worthy News)– Last year, the Church of Scotland’s

General Assembly decided that it couldn’t condone same-sex marriages or civil partnerships, yet its commissioners approved a proposal that allowed individual congregations to hire gay ministers while the assembly continues to debate their ordination. “The General Assembly reaffirmed biblical teaching that same-sex civil partnerships are wrong, but then allowed ministers who are gay in,” David Robertson — a Free Church minister in Dundee — told Christian Today. “It confused people and made a laughing stock of the Church here.” As a result, many congregations have opted to leave the Church of Scotland and join churches that ban homosexual clergy. Robertson said this trend will likely continue.

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.  Aclj offers to defend school districts that face aclu challenges for displaying God bless America Washington, DC) The American Center for Law and Justice, an international public

interest law firm, said today it is offering legal services to defend a California school district that has been told by the ACLU to remove a sign that includes the message God Bless America.  At the same time, the ACLJ announced today it is offering to defend any school district or student organization in America that desires to display God Bless America in schools. At a time when America desires to exhibit patriotism, the ACLU sees fit to undermine the constitution by attempting to exert a heavy hand of censorship, said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ. The ACLU is out of step with the law and is reacting in a manner that is totally absurd and irresponsible. The message God Bless America is constitutionally protected speech and the ACLUs legal analysis is both skewed and very troubling.

.Suspect 22-Y-O Elliot Rodger Pledged ‘Retribution’ for Rejection by Females 7 Dead in Calif Shooting Rampage Seven people are now dead including the suspected gunman Elliot Rodger, 22, after he went on a bloody 10-minute shooting rampage in the Southern California college town of Isla Vista, which also left seven others injured. According to The New York Times, the gunman is the son of a Hollywood director identified 

elliot-rodgerby CNN as Peter Rodger who directed the 2012 film “Hunger Games.” He was discovered dead with a bullet in his head after his black BMW crashed. It is unclear if the bullet was self-inflicted or the result of a shootout with police in Isla Vista near the University of California, Santa Barbara. Alan Shifman, a lawyer for the gunman’s parents, said his clients expressed concern to police about a month ago over their son’s YouTube videos “regarding suicide and the killing of people.” Police, according to the parents, interviewed their son and concluded he was not a threat. They found him a “perfectly polite, kind and wonderful human.” CNN VideoShooter Video

.Pastor Cruz: There is an attack on Christianity in America (CNSNews.com) – Rev. Rafael Cruz, director of Purifying Fire Ministries and father of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), said the Christian church in America is under attack

o-RAFAEL-CRUZ-facebook_0 “more and more every day,” and noted that many pastors are afraid of losing their tax-exempt status if they speak out on political issues.   .

. Franklin Graham “Christians are under attack from Islam (CNSNews.com) – Rev. Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham and head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, said “Christians are under attack 

Graham, Franklinby Islam” and that “radical” Islam has nothing to do with it because “it’s just what it is.” Speaking at the  Watchmen on the Wall National Pastor’s Briefing in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, Rev. Graham said,  “The church around the world is under attack. Christians are under attack by Islam.  They keep using this word ‘radical.’ It’s not radical, it’s just what it is.”

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The irony of tolerance that doesn’t tolerate Christians

When it comes to same-sex “marriage,” our culture just like our president, has definitely evolved. After all, it was only in 2008 that a strong majority in California—yes, California—passed Proposition 8 which defined marriage as between one man and one woman.But when our president changed his mind a few months before the 2012 election, the cultural floodgates opened, particularly in the American workplace. Later that summer, Chick-fil-A faced angry boycotts when CEO Dan Cathy’s views and donations in favor of traditional marriage became public knowledge.

The workplace pressure has only continued. Christian bakers and photographers who do not want to participate in what they consider to be a sin have been fined and faced being shut down. Attempts to protect their religious liberty, such as Arizona’s State Bill 1062, have been crushed through threats of economic boycotts and media shaming.

More high-profile voices have also faced this smash-mouth, brass-knuckle treatment. Just weeks ago Brendan Eich, the accomplished founder and CEO of search-engine company Mozilla, was forced to resign when he was “outed” for donating all of $1,000 to Proposition 8 eight years ago.

We’ve all heard what A&E tried to do to Duck Dynasty when Phil Robertson indelicately expressed his disapproval of the “gay lifestyle.” And more recently, the Home and Garden TV network canned the Benham brothers, David and Jason, for their supposed “anti-gay” and “anti-choice” beliefs. Apparently one cannot even host a home-improvement show if one does not also parrot the new sexual orthodoxy.Intolerance_cartoon

And then there’s the case of Miami Dolphins football player Don Jones. When the Dolphins selected gay athlete and cause celebre Michael Sam in the seventh round of the NFL draft, the celebratory kiss with his boyfriend was shown repeatedly on television. Jones reacted by tweeting “OMG” and “Horrible.” The Dolphins immediately suspended him and ordered him to undergo sensitivity training. Sensitivity training? Re-education? What is this, Communist China?

.Supreme court upheld prayer at meetings

After last week’s 5-4 decision upholding Christian prayer at government meetings, courts are taking on cases that challenge crosses displayed in public places.

The crosses in question include the Memorial Peace Cross in Prince George’s County, Maryland, a memorial for those who died in World War I, and the Mount Soledad cross in San Diego, which Congress calls a national war memorial.

.Professors sue Bryan college over biblical creation-account

DAYTON, Tenn. – Two professors are suing Bryan College because their teaching contracts were not renewed when they refused to agree with the school’s literal interpretation of the Genesis creation. .

As previously reported, Bryan College in Tennessee continues to grapple with an evolution/creation debate which has divided many students and faculty members. The controversy began earlier this year when the conservative Christian school clarified its statement of belief to affirm the literal historicity of Adam and Eve.

.How many teens are leaving the church?

According to Lifeway’s multi-year study, in fact, the number of teens who leave the church comes to about 70%. This mainly clusters around teens from 16–19. But, in what may come as a surprise, two-thirds do ultimately return after a “hiatus.” The researchers also found that most of the teens didn’t set out to reject the church or the theology of their parents; they simply drifted away. They no longer found church to be important.

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.Sudan pregnant woman to be hanged for marrying Christian

Ibrahim is a 27 year old Sudanese mother now eight-months pregnant with her second child, the wife of a naturalized American citizen from South Sudan, and a medical school graduate. She is also a condemned prisoner on death row in Khartoum. .

.blast in christian area of nigerian city kills 5

A car bomb exploded in the Christian neighborhood of Nigeria’s second most populous and mainly Muslim city of Kano, killing five people, hours before police discovered another massive car bomb in Kano’s ancient mud city precinct on Monday.

Police Superintendent Aderenle Shinaba said the car exploded Sunday night before the bomber reached his target of the busy restaurants and bars lining Gold Coast Street, indicating the casualties could have been much higher. He said five people were killed, including the bomber, and seven were wounded.

Israel moves to help kidnapped Nigerian Christian girls. 

“Israel expresses deep shock at the crime against the girls. We are ready to help in finding the girls and fighting the cruel terrorism inflicted on you.” -Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

captive girlsIsraeli security forces have arrived in Nigeria to aid in the search for [over] 200 young [mostly] Christian girls recently abducted by the radical Islamist group Boko Haram.

On Monday, international media was abuzz after the publication of a video showing many of the captive girls dressed in Muslim garb (pictured) and reciting passages from the Koran. In the video, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau says the girls will be held and continued to be forcibly converted to Islam until jailed members of his group are freed by the Nigerian government.

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planned parenthood counselor withheld info on rape police report claims A Planned Parenthood counselor in Arizona intentionally miscoded a sexual assault as a consensual encounter to avoid the “hassle” of reporting it to authorities, months before other victims came forward to stop an alleged 18-year-old serial sex predator, a police report reveals. Tyler Kost, of San Tan Valley, Ariz., has been charged with sexually assaulting 11 girls from the ages of 12 to 17 between October 2009 and April 2014, although authorities believe he has assaulted at least 18 students from Poston Butte High School. The mother of one 15-year-old victim, who became pregnant as a result of the alleged assault, told a Planned Parenthood Arizona staffer about the attack in December, a Pinal County Sheriff’s Office report shows.

 

 

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  Atheist Military Chaplain? You can’t make this stuff up !!!

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NJ mayor fights feds over prayer during citizenship ceremony

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Atheist Fail to Topple MONTANA’S “BIG MOUNTAIN JESUS” STATUE ON FEDERAL LAND

 

.No Energy Company Job for Homeschooler.

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.religionnews.com/2014/05/03/gene-robinson-first-openly-gay-episcopal-bishop-divorce/ .

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Three Lesbian Women Marry Each Other Claim to be Worlds First Throuple

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Can We Trade Sexual Morality for Church Growth

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. Second Grader Told Not to Read Bible .

 

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.HGTV Leaves Christian Values on Cutting Room Floor

 

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. New Hampshire School Defends Sexually Graphic Novel .

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Student Claims Community College Rejected Application Because Christian Faith Posted on  by augustinehippo1 Edit

 Feds forced church to get baptism permits
 
For as far back as anyone can remember, Missouri Baptists have gathered on river banks for Sunday afternoon baptisms.
The preacher leads the new believers into the water, draped in white robes as a choir sings, “Shall We Gather at the River.”
It’s the way it’s been done for generations – baptizing in creeks, lakes, and rivers “in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
But now the long-cherished tradition of “taking the plunge” has been drawn into a controversy with the federal government.
 
Many Christians believe the Bible commands new followers of Christ to be baptized immediately after their conversion.
The National Park Service began enforcing a policy recently that required churches to obtain special use permits in order to baptize in public waters. As part of the same permit process, the NPS also mandated that churches give the Park Service 48 hours advance notice of pending baptisms.
 
Mob Destroys India Church, Beats Pastor
 
A mob of 1,000 people destroyed a church building under construction in northern India and beat up its pastor.
Gospel for Asia reports the congregation has been trying to build the church for more than two years, but
construction has been slowed by local opposition.
Earlier this week, rumors began to spread accusing the Christians of “culturally offensive” practices.
 
Muslim Brotherhood Influence Reaches White House

WASHINGTON — The Muslim Brotherhood appears on the ropes in Egypt following a military crackdown on the radical movement.
Here in the United States, however, one American-Islamic group linked to the Brotherhood continues to thrive. The Islamic Society of North America, or ISNA, will hold its 50th annual convention over Labor Day weekend this year.

And ISNA even has the ear of the White House.

 

California bill would allow non-physicians to perform abortions

- See more at:  http://www.onenewsnow.com/pro-life/2013/08/28/california-bill-would-allow-non-physicians-to-perform-abortions#.Uh6djj90nH0

Persecution Alert!

SOMALIA: Islamic Militants Abduct Christian Mother of TwoINDIA: Hindu Militants Attack Woman and Threaten Her Ministering Family

VIETNAM: Praying Christians Brutally Assaulted by Police

Pastors fight gay agenda

Pastors from across San Antonio are joining together to oppose the city’s proposed amendments which add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity or expression” to the local ordinance. The definition of “sexual orientation” includes someone who is reportedly “asexual.” And “gender identity or expression” is merely a subjective mental thought disassociated from objective reality.

Muslim Mob Injures Church Leaders, Choir Members in Nigeria 

A Muslim mob with knives and iron rods injured several members of an Anglican church in Nasarawa state on Aug. 17 over a dispute about less than 1 cent in change, area Christians said, reports Jeremy Reynalds, Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service.

Pentagon Classifies Evangelical Christians, Catholics as “Extremists”By Todd StarnesThe Department of Defense classified Catholics and Evangelical Christians as religious extremists similar to Al-Qaeda, according to training materials obtained by the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty. The Pentagon also considered the Southern Poverty law Center’s “hate group” list a “reliable source” for determining extremism and labeled “Islamophobia” as a form of religious extremism. The revelations come just days after Judicial Watch discovered a separate Pentagon training document that depicted the Founding Fathers as extremists and conservative organizations as hate groups. The Chaplain Alliance uncovered in more than 1,500 pages of documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request after a U.S. Army training instructor told a Reserve unit based in Pennsylvania that Catholicism, Evangelical Christianity, Al Qaeda, Hamas, Sunni Muslims, and the Ku Klux Klan were examples of extremism. \

Pentagon Calls Founding Fathers Extremists “The materials we obtained establish that the U.S. military violated its appropriate apolitical stance and engaged in a dishonorable mischaracterization of multiple faith groups,” said Ron Crews, executive director of the Chaplain Alliance, an organization that represents thousands of military chaplains.The documents show an unknown number of equal opportunity officers were trained at Fort Jackson, SC, using information obtained from the SPLC. The training material was made public after a soldier who attended the briefing alerted Chaplain Alliance.“He considers himself an Evangelical Christian and did not appreciate being classified with terrorists,” Crews said. “There was a pervasive attitude in the presentation that anything associated with religion is an extremist.”

Atheists Call 9-11 Memorial Cross “Grossly Offensive” A Jewish firefighter who wants to display a Christian cross as part of a New Jersey 9-11 memorial is facing stiff opposition from a group of atheists who called the religious image “grossly offensive.”The American Atheists are threatening to sue Princeton, NJ if they proceed with plans to erect the memorial. They took issue with a beam that was salvaged from the ruins of the World Trade Center because a cross had been cut out of one side of the beam.Photo courtesy of “The Times of Trenton/NJ.com” “This particular beam has a religious symbol on it,” American Atheists president David Silverman told Fox News. “They have a beam with a religious symbol and that makes it a religious icon.” Silverman said placing the beam on public land would be a “clear violation of the separation of church and state.” He also said the cross symbol would send a terrible message to non-Christians. He said the city would be giving the “appearance that all of the people who suffered and died on 9-11 and their families are being memorialized by a Christian symbol.”

 
 
 

 

Bishop: Egyptian Christians Live in Fear as Brotherhood Attacks egypt_map

  Speaking from Luxor, Zakaria told the Fides News Agency that he too was confined to his quarters after Brotherhood members attacked last week; now two armored cars stand as sentinels shielding his building, but other Christian dwellings have been razed to the ground as the Brotherhood continues to call for their deaths.

Gay Lawmakers to Christians: We’ll Take Your ChildrenThe connection between homosexual abuse and “gay identity” is undeniable. Consider this: Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have found that homosexual men are “at least three times more likely to report CSA (childhood sexual abuse)” than heterosexual men.Moreover, the Archives of Sexual Behavior—no bastion of conservatism—determined in a 2001 study that nearly half of all gay-identified men were molested by a homosexual pedophile. The study notes, “46 percent of homosexual men and 22 percent of homosexual women reported having been molested by a person of the same gender. This contrasts to only 7 percent of heterosexual men and 1 percent of heterosexual women reporting having been molested by a person of the same gender.” 

 Islamism’s slow genocide against ChristiansThere’s a globburning_churchal religious genocide on “slow burn” with occasional conflagrations that make it into the mainstream media. There are an estimated 100 million persecuted Christians.As Egypt’s Islamists blame Christians for the ouster of Mohammed Morsi, anti-Christian violence has reached epidemic levels, with an estimated 82 churches across

Egypt attacked and heavily damaged by pro-Morsi supporters in a mere 48 hours.

“Fair Use “ Notice – Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 The above post may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It is being made available in an effort to advance the understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, social justice, for the purpose of historical debate, and to advance the understanding of Christian conservative issues.  It is believed that this constitutes a ”fair use” of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the Copyright Law. In accordance with the title 17 U.S. C. section 107, the material in this post is shown without profit to those who have expressed an interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.
Worthy network With regard to posting on your blog, sure go right ahead, God bless, Georgehttp://www.worthynetwork.com/contact-us Director of Worthy Network Located in Arad, Israel

September 29, 2014

Daniel Chapter 3

Filed under: Uncategorized — augustinehippo1 @ 6:10 am

1  King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, whose height was sixtycubits and its breadth six cubits. He set it up on the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.

1. What prompted the king to set up such an image and where did he go wrong?

There is a discernible link between Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Daniel 2 and the image he made in Daniel 3. It seems that Nebuchadnezzar deliberately made an entire statue of gold, saying that the day of his reign and authority would never end – in contradiction to God’s declared plan.GC

There is a logical connection between the image that Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream (ch. 2) and the image that he had built on the plain of Dura (ch. 3). Perhaps he got the idea for the statue he built from the statue he saw in his dream. He forgot, however, the lesson that he had learned about Yahweh’s sovereignty (2:47). Evidently thoughts of his position as the head of gold made him proud. CN

The image of gold reflects the enormous statue in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, except it is made entirely of gold, as if Nebuchadnezzar were asserting that there would be no other kingdoms after his. It was sixty cubits (90 feet/27 m) high and six cubits (9 feet/2.7 m) wide.

Its location on a plain in Babylon recalls the location of the Tower of Babel (also on a plain, Gen. 11:2), as does its purpose to provide a unifying center for all the peoples of the earth. ESVN

Daniel 2:47 (NKJV) The king answered Daniel, and said, “Truly your God is the God of gods, the Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, since you could reveal this secret.”

 King Nebuchadnezzar, still an unbeliever, has been given divine revelation through a dream and told its interpretation in chapter 2. He grasps this revelation as an unbeliever and his understanding and response are impaired (see 1 Corinthians chapter 2). Viewing the revelation of Daniel 2 through the eyes of unbelieving king Nebuchadnezzar provides a better understanding of the king’s goals and methods described in chapter 3.

 While there seems to be a connection between the statue of chapter 2 and the image of chapter 3, there are striking contrasts between these two representations. Consider these contrasts: Images of Chapter 2: (a) divine origin; (b) a vision only; (c) made of different metals; (d) not an object of worship; (e) privately revealed to Nebuchadnezzar; (f) fairly well described; (g) prompted king to bow down. (h) Ended with the King acknowledging God as the God of gods and Lord of kings.Images of Chapter 3: (a) human origin; (b) a reality; (c) made only of gold; (d) an object of worship; (e) revealed to all; (f) described only generally; (g) men commanded to bow down. (h) Ended with the King acknowledging God as the Most High God Who Alone is able to deliver…

What should Nebuchadnezzar have learned from his dream and the interpretation of Daniel, as recorded in Daniel 2? From that dream, he learned that the entire statue (the Gentile kingdoms) disintegrated because a stone struck the feet which were weak. The weakness, he was told, was due to a racial mixture in the last kingdom. Seeking to “fix the feet” by making an idol of solid gold and creating one religion, Nebuchadnezzar constructed the gold image and required every race and culture to worship it. Nebuchadnezzar may have hoped to change the course of history and prolong the glory of his kingdom.

Nebuchadnezzar was still a pagan though he had acknowledged the God of Daniel and his three friends as a God of wisdom and revelation. In chapter 3, he learned that the God of Israel was also the Deliverer of His people. What the king did not take seriously enough was the Stone, the real cause of the statue’s destruction and the Creator of the new, eternal, kingdom which replaced Gentile rule. Rather than “fix the feet,” he needed to fall at the feet of the “Stone,” Jesus Christ. Nebuchadnezzar did not yet grasp the sovereignty of God over history. Although he was told the dream and its interpretation were trustworthy (2:45), he still believed he could change the course of history.  (Faith and the Furnace)RD

1 Corinthians 2:14 (NKJV)   But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

2  Then King Nebuchadnezzar sent to gather the satraps, the prefects, and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the justices, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces to come to the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

2. Why the big crowd?

Leaders attending the “summit conference” for Nebuchadnezzar’s display are: satraps, or leaders over regions; prefects, or military chiefs; governors, or civil administrators; counselors, or lawyers; treasurers; judges, or government arbiters; magistrates, or judges in our sense today; rulers, or other civil leaders. MSBN

Nebuchadnezzar summoned his officials to the image for what he probably intended to be a demonstration of loyalty to him.“The fairly recent date of the establishment of the Babylonian Empire as the successor to Assyria (at least in its southern half) made it appropriate for Nebuchadnezzar to assemble all the local and provincial leaders from every part of his domain and, in essence, exact from them a solemn oath of loyalty .”The religious connotations of the gathering are unclear, but it was probably not a summons to worship one idol as God. The Babylonians were a polytheistic people and worshiped many gods.“A refusal to yield homage to the gods of the kingdom, they regarded as an act of hostility against the kingdom and its monarch, while every one might at the same time honour his own national god. This acknowledgment, that the gods of the kingdom were the more powerful, every heathen could grant; and thus, Nebuchadnezzar demanded nothing in a religious point of view which every one of his subjects could not yield. To him, therefore, the refusal of the Jews could not but appear as opposition to the greatness of his kingdom.”Some of the titles of the officials named in the text are Persian and some are Babylonian. Daniel may have updated some of these Babylonian titles with modern Persian equivalents when he wrote the book in its final form. Or perhaps they were already common when the events of this chapter happened.

The satraps were the highest political officials in each province. The prefects (princes) were military chiefs. The governors (captains) were heads of sections of the provinces. The counselors (advisers, judges) were high-ranking judges. The treasurers were superintendents of the treasury. The judges (counselors) were secondary judges, and the magistrates (sheriffs) were lower level legal officials. The rulers (officials) were subordinates of the satraps. These groups represented all the administrative government officials of the wide-ranging empire, and they spoke many different languages (v. 7). CN

3  Then the satraps, the prefects, and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the justices, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces gathered for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. And they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. 4 And the herald proclaimed aloud, “You are commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, 5  that when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. 6  And whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace.”

3. So why would the Hebrews care if the Babylonians want to worship their king?

The requirement was that they all worship Nebuchadnezzar’s god. The worship of a suzerain’s god was an essential part of the oath of loyalty, a factor that had proved disastrous time and again in Israel’s history. But for most nations and peoples it was not a difficulty, unless they were thinking of rebelling. After all such gods had proved their superiority and it did not mean denying their own gods. It was different for worshippers of the one God, Yahweh, the God of heaven (as Rome would concede later). PC

7  Therefore, as soon as all the peoples heard the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, all the peoples, nations, and languages fell down and worshiped the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. 8  Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and maliciously accused the Jews. 9  They declared to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live forever! 10  You, O king, have made a decree, that every man who hears the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, shall fall down and worship the golden image. 11  And whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into a burning fiery furnace.

4. Who were these Chaldeans?

The Chaldeans who brought charges against Daniel’s three friends were nobles, not just astrologers. The Aramaic term gubrin kasda’in makes this clear. They were in a position to profit personally from the execution of the three Jews, perhaps even to step into the government positions they occupied. CN

The Chaldeans’ opposition is not difficult to understand, given the goal of Nebuchadnezzar to use foreigners as a part of his administration.The Chaldeans were the “natives” of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar himself was a Chaldean. Daniel and his three friends were outsiders, yet they had higher positions in Nebuchadnezzar’s administration than the Chaldeans.

The attack on the three Hebrews was an attack “against the Jews” (3:8).

While the Chaldeans did not devise a scheme to bring about the demise of the three Hebrews (as others would later do with Daniel in chapter 6), they certainly took advantage of the situation. They apparently interrupted the ceremony, reporting to Nebuchadnezzar that these three Jews refused to bow down. When the king stopped the ceremony, everyone must have looked on with great interest to see how the matter would be handled and to see if the three Hebrews would buckle under to the king’s orders. RD

5. Maybe the king could make an exception for these exceptional young men who did such good work for the king?

 It was a presupposition of the Babylonian monarchical system that once the king, who was viewed as “god”, made a proclamation it could not be revoked.

“so let it be written, so let it be done”

Even if the king wanted to change his edict, and it is not clear that he wants to, he could not. A change would seriously weaken his position and seriously threaten the entire empire.

There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men, O king, pay no attention to you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” 13  Then Nebuchadnezzar in furious rage commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought. So they brought these men before the king. 14  Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? 15  Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good. But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace.

6. Where was Daniel during this time?

The absence of reference to Daniel here raises questions. Had he worshiped the image? Was he away on government business, was he occupied with pressing matters, or was he ill and unable to attend the ceremony? Did he enjoy such an exalted position or such favor with the king that these Chaldeans dared not accuse him? The writer did not explain this mystery. It was the response of Daniel’s three Hebrew friends that he wanted to  stress. It seems safe to assume that if Daniel had been present he would have responded as his three friends did.

“Those who had proven themselves loyal at the royal court in Babylon would have been exempt from the ceremony. Thus Daniel did not have to appear at the gathering because he had been with Nebuchadnezzar at the royal court.” CN

Daniel himself is curiously absent; perhaps he is away on a mission, or perhaps above the administrative rulers mentioned in 3:3 and thus immune from such displays of Nebuchadnezzar’s pride, or perhaps the Chaldeans did not feel safe accusing Daniel. ESVN

Daniel was Rab-mag, the Chief of the Magi. It was Daniel who had interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. Maybe that had established him as “bullet proof”. 

7. Why is it so important to the king that these guys fall down and worship his image?

Obviously, Nebuchadnezzar was seeking a unifying principle to weld together the tribes and tongues and peoples of his kingdom into one great totalitarian government. In other words, he was attempting to institute a world religion. This was nothing in the world but a repetition of the tower of Babel—a forming of one religion for the world. JVM

The command is empowered by a naked threat. Nebuchadnezzar regarded refusing to worship the image as treason, not only as a religious offense. In this, Nebuchadnezzar is just like most politicians, who often seem willing to use religion to strengthen their grip on political power. Politicians are happy to blend together spiritual allegiance and national allegiance. An example of this was displayed in 1936 when Herr Baldur von Schirach, head of the youth program in Nazi Germany, said: “If we act as true Germans we act according to the laws of God. Whoever serves Adolph Hitler, the fuehrer, serves Germany, and whoever serves Germany serves God.” GC

And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?”

8. I thought Nebuchadnezzar already recognized the power of the Hebrew God. Did he forget?

Daniel 2:46-47 (MSG)

46  When Daniel finished, King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face in awe before Daniel. He ordered the offering of sacrifices and burning of incense in Daniel’s honor. 47  He said to Daniel, “Your God is beyond question the God of all gods, the Master of all kings. And he solves all mysteries, I know, because you’ve solved this mystery.”

Even though Nebuchadnezzar had witnessed and testified to the sovereignty of Yahweh previously (2:47), he clearly did not believe that even He could save the accused (v. 15). Perhaps he figured that giving information was one thing, but saving people from a fiery death was something requiring greater supernatural power. Similarly many people today believe that God inspired the Bible, but they do not believe that He can deliver them from their serious personal problems much less world problems. The king set himself above all gods; none of these gods could deliver the three Hebrews from him. He claimed absolute authority in political and religious realms. CN

Short memory?

what god … ?  The king’s challenge would return to embarrass him. The true God was able to deliver, just as He was able to reveal a dream and its meaning. Nebuchadnezzar had earlier called him “a God of gods” (2:47), but having let that fade from his attention, he soon would be shocked and humiliated when God took up his challenge. MSBN

16  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17  If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18  But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

9. Where did these kids get the courage to stand up to the most powerful man on earth.

There was no doubt in the three men’s minds as to God’s power to save them (see 2:20–23). Yet the way in which God would work out his plan for them in this situation was less clear. God’s power is sometimes extended in dramatic ways to deliver his people, as when he parted the Red Sea for Israel on the way out of Egypt (Exodus 14); at other times, that same power is withheld, and his people are allowed to suffer. Either way, they would not bow down to Nebuchadnezzar’s image. ESVN

Daniel 2:20-23 (ESV) 20  Daniel answered and said: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. 21  He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise andknowledge to those who have understanding; 22  he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him. 23  To you, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, for you have given me wisdom and might, and have now made known to me what we asked of you, for you have made known to us the king’s matter.”

People who are willing to stake their lives on their theology are pretty serious about it. That was the case for the three young Hebrew men in Daniel 3. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego made a courageous, principled stand against King Nebuchadnezzar’s order to bow to his golden statue. At the heart of their commitment was their view of God. These young men, taken as captives from Israel to Babylon, took with them their knowledge of God’s commands. From their very first days of captivity in this pagan country, these three and their pal Daniel decided that the most important thing they could do was obey God.

The Word for Today

They said they believed the Lord could deliver them from any fiery furnace and that He would deliver them. However, they also acknowledged the possibility that it might be God’s will not to deliver them. God does not always save the lives of His children when they face martyrdom. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego knew this, but they had no question about God’s ability to save them (cf. Matt. 10:28). Whether God would deliver them or not, they refused to serve idols or to bow before the king’s image (Exod. 20:3-5).

Matthew 10:28 (ESV) 28  And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

Exodus 20:3-5 (ESV) 3  “You shall have no other gods before me. 4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5  You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me,

“The quiet, modest, yet withal very positive attitude of faith that these three men display is one of the noblest examples in the Scriptures of faith fully resigned to the will of God. These men ask for no miracle; they expect none. Theirs is the faith that says: ‘Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him,’ Job 13:15.”

“. . . Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego loved Yahweh more than life itself. Not only had they learned to recite the Shema—’Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength’ (Deut 6:4-5)—but they made it the center of their lives. For them the will and glory of Yahweh meant more than fame, position, or security.”.

19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with fury, and the expression of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated. 20  And he ordered some of the mighty men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. 21  Then these men were bound in their cloaks, their tunics, their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the burning fiery furnace. 22 Because the king’s order was urgent and the furnace overheated, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 23  And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the burning fiery furnace.

10. The death of the guards tells us what?

Ironically, Nebuchadnezzar’s order resulted in the death of his own soldiers, demonstrating the fact that the Lord is able to protect his servants better than Nebuchadnezzar can protect his.

24  Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” 25  He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.”

11. Who was he fourth guy?

The king seemed only to have known that the fourth person was a heavenly being. He called him a “son of the gods” (a pagan reference to one who appeared supernatural) and an “angel” (v. 28). The fourth person could possibly have been the second person of the Godhead (Jesus Christ) in a pre-incarnate appearance. MSBN

This furnace apparently was an open furnace, and Nebuchadnezzar, who expected these men to expire at once, was amazed to see them alive and walking about in the fire.Another amazing fact was to see a fourth Man whom Nebuchadnezzar described as being in the form “like the Son of God.” That should be translated “like a son of gods.” Nebuchadnezzar had no knowledge of the living and true God at this time, although Daniel had spoken of Him. Having no spiritual perception, Nebuchadnezzar could only testify to His unusual appearance—He looked like one of the sons of the gods. However, I do believe that the fourth Man was the Son of God, the preincarnate Christ. JVM

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were joined in the fire by a fourth individual, who had the appearance of a divine being like a son of the gods, who was either a Christophany (a physical appearance of Christ before his incarnation) or an angel (see v. 28). In either case, this is a physical demonstration of God’s presence with believers in their distress, a graphic fulfillment of the Lord’s promise in Isa. 43:2. The Lord promised his presence with his people, ensuring that their trials and difficulties would not utterly overwhelm them. ESVN

The fourth person in the furnace was Jesus Christ in one of His preincarnate appearances in the Old Testament.  Wiersbe.

John 8:58-59 (ESV) 58  Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” 59  So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

Luke 24:27 (ESV) 27  And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

Was it an angel, or was it the second person of the Trinity, “the” Son of God? That this was the Son of God – the second person of the Trinity, who afterward became incarnate, has been quite a common opinion of expositors. So it was held by Tertullian, by Augustine, and by Hilary, among the fathers; and so it has been held by Gill, Clarius, and others, among the moderns. Of those who have maintained that it was Christ, some have supposed that Nebuchadnezzar had been made acquainted with the belief of the Hebrews in regard to the Messiah; others, that he spoke under the influence of the Holy Spirit, without being fully aware of what his words imported, as Caiaphas, Saul, Pilate, and others have done. BN

26  Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. 27  And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them. 28  Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. 29  Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.” 30  Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.  

12. I guess old Nebuchadnezzar just can’t help it.“Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins?

He just keeps reverting back to his Conan the Barbarian Mode.

Conan! What is best in life?

Conan: To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.

 I think old Neb is a work in progress.

          ESVN………….ESV Study Bible Notes

·         MSBN…….MacArthur NASB Study Notes

·         NIVSN…..NIV Study Notes.

·        JVM ……………..J Vernon McGee,

·        ACC ……………. Adam Clarke’s Commentary

          BN ……………..Barnes Notes

·        WBC…………….   Wycliffe Bible Commentary

·         CN …… …………..Constables Notes

·         IC………………….Ironside Commentary

·         NET……………….Net Bible Study Notes.

·         JFB…………..Jamieson  Fausset  Brown Commentary

·         VWS……………..Vincent Word Studies

·         CMM………….Commentary on Matthew and Mark

·         BDB………….. Barclay’s Daily Study Bible (NT)

·         Darby………..John Darby’s Synopsis of the OT and NT

·         Johnson………Johnson’s Notes on the New Testament.

·         NTCMM…………..The New Testament Commentary:  Matthew and Mark.

·         EHS………………….Expositions of the Holy Scriptures

·         CPP…………………The Complete Pulpit Commentary

·         SBC…………………Sermon Bible Commentary

·         K&D……………….Keil and Deilitzsch Commentary on the OT

·         EBC…………………Expositors Bible Commentary

·         CBSC……………….Cambridge Bible for Schools and College

·         GC……………………Guzik Commentary

·         RD……………………. Robert  Deffinbaugh

          NNIBC ………………Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary.

         KJVBC……………….KJV Bible Commentary.

         JBC.…………………..Joseph Benson’s Commentary

         PC….………………….Pett’s Commentary

·     


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September 26, 2014

Creation.com ………”Augustine: young earth creationist”

Filed under: Uncategorized — augustinehippo1 @ 11:46 am
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—theistic evolutionists take Church Father out of context

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As his theology matured, Augustine abandoned his earlier allegorizations of Genesis that old-earth creationists and theistic evolutionists have latched onto in an attempt to justify adding deep time to the Bible. Furthermore, he always believed in a young earth (painting by Sandro Botticelli, c. 1480).

1) How did St. Augustine read the first chapters of Genesis and why?

Augustine read the first eleven chapters of Genesis as God’s revelation. For that reason he took what is described there quite literally.

2) Was he ambiguous, to such extent that botAugustine, a church father who believed in a young earth, (painting: Botticelli, c. 1480).h sides in the evolution debate might refer to him for support?

Augustine was not vague about the age of the earth, the historicity of Adam and Eve as our first ancestors, or the events in the Garden of Eden and the worldwide flood later in Genesis. However, his doctrine of creation was complex. All matter, according to him, was created on the first day. Subsequently God created pregnant ideas that Augustine called rationes seminales, which were imbedded in creation. Some only came to fruition afterwards, even, it might be argued, after the Fall. Augustine thought that God could even have catered for the eventuality of the Fall of man into sin and the subsequent curse. But, all speculations set aside, Augustine did not teach a process of one kind changing into another. As a result of his rather philosophic view of creation he took the word “day” in Genesis as symbolic. “Hooray”, cry those who hold the day-age view of Genesis one. This optimism is unwarranted. Augustine’s symbolic use did the very opposite. He wanted a period that was actually shorter than six earth days. In Augustine’s mind, God would have created all matter as well as the seminal ideas in the blink of an eye. The material expression of those ideas followed later. We have to combine his instant creation theory with his literal reading of other events in Genesis. Adding his belief that the world is about 8000 years old makes it extremely hard to call on him to support Darwinian evolution of any kind or deep time.

3) Isn’t it obvious from his City of God (De Civitate Dei) that Augustine believed that God created Man 6000 years ago?

 His belief that the world is about 8000 years old makes it extremely hard to call on him to support Darwinian evolution of any kind or deep time. Not quite, but a young earth definitely. Augustine wrote in De Civitate Dei that his view of the chronology of the world and the Bible led him to believe that Creation took place around 5600 BC [Ed. note: he used the somewhat inflated Septuagint chronology—see Biblical chronogenealogies for more information.]. One of the chapters in his City of God bears the title “On the mistaken view of history that ascribes many thousands of years to the age of the earth.” Would you like it clearer? Several pagan philosophers at the time believed that the earth was more or less eternal. Countless ages had preceded us, with many more to come. Augustine said they were wrong. This goes to show that theistic evolutionists who call in Augustine’s support do so totally out of context. All they allow themselves to see is his symbolic use of “day” in Genesis, and a very difficult philosophical doctrine of creation with ideas that develop. “Wonderful!” they think, “Augustine really supports our post-Darwinian theories!” It takes a superficial view of Genesis and Augustine to arrive at such conclusions. His instant creation, his young earth and immediate formation of Adam and Eve rule out Augustine’s application for this purpose.

4) Is there a development in Augustine’s view of the days of creation?

 In this later work of his [On the necessity of taking Genesis literally], Augustine says farewell to his earlier allegorical and typological exegesis of parts of Genesis and calls his readers back to the Bible.
 
As Augustine became older, he gave greater emphasis to the underlying historicity and necessity of a literal interpretation of Scripture. His most important work is De Genesi ad litteram. The title says it: On the necessity of taking Genesis literally. In this later work of his, Augustine says farewell to his earlier allegorical and typological exegesis of parts of Genesis and calls his readers back to the Bible. He even rejected allegory when he deals with the historicity and geographic locality of Paradise on earth.

5) Some say that one of the reasons for Augustine taking the days of creation less literally is that he did not have a great command of the Hebrew language. They also question his knowledge of Greek. He would have been misled by a bad Latin translation of Genesis 2:4 that suggested that Creation took place instantly, giving rise to his particular theory. Is this correct?

Augustine was not a Hebrew scholar, nor exactly an expert in Greek. I would be inclined to say the basis for his theory was in one of the deutero-canonical books. He used an old Latin version when he quoted from Jesus Sirach 18:1 (“He who lives eternally has made omnia simul”). Augustine interpreted the Latin wordsomnia simul as “everything at the same time”. He consequently thought that God would have created everything instantaneously. That is why he came up with the theory that Creation should have been shorter than six earth days. He was comparing Scripture with what he saw as Scripture, not editing the Bible with Darwinism. There is a profound difference. His conclusion, however, was based on a wrong interpretation of the Latin, which doesn’t do justice to the Greek original. The Greek says that God made all things together (panta koinee), or “the whole world”. The New Revised Standard Version translates it that way, for instance. This history contains a warning for today’s theologians: know your Greek! It might help you to avoid speculative theories that people take seriously because you are a well known church leader.

6) What was Augustine’s view on the relation of faith and science? Is there a conflict?

There is no conflict between faith and science on the data, or the facts. Sometimes faith and science clash on the level of interpretation and theorizing. We see this particularly in our time, now science in the post-Christian West has embraced worldview presuppositions that are incompatible with Christianity. Augustine’s main aim in writing his Commentary on Genesis (De Genesi ad litteram) was to show that there needn’t be any conflict between the Genesis account, even if this was to be taken literally, and science and philosophy. If one cannot come up with a scientific explanation that supports the Scriptures, one should still accept that God’s Word is true and trust that we will find out later. Augustine takes this attitude, for instance, when he writes on the waters above the earth (Gen 1:7).

7) Would you give a short overview of the doctrine of Creation over the last two thousand years?

Days of CreationEarly Church leaders like Origen, Augustine and Basil were young earth creationists. This view was commonly held within the Church until the 19th century (including Aquinas, Bede, the fourth Lateran council in AD 1215 and Pius X). The Catholic2 Church of all times and places embraced the traditional doctrine of Creation from the day of Pentecost until the Enlightenment. In the Roman Catholic Church this even continued until the Great War. But after the Enlightenment, darkness reigned. Miracles disappeared. Divinity became part of the humanities. Divine revelation was doubted or outright denied. Human religiosity was the new object. Theology became a science that explained the Bible as if there never was Divine intervention in history. Mythology, comparative religion and egalitarianism were the new keys of interpretation. There was no revelation, but a democratic process where earliest Christianity produced ideas about Jesus and decided what to think about God, creating a god after our likeness. The seeds were sown in 17th century philosophy and the political changes of the French revolution. The implications become fully visible in the 19th century. Especially from the early part of that century onward the natural sciences started to filter out God as a relevant factor. We observe a similar move in continental theology around the same time.

 Related Articles

Further Reading

References

  1. The full text of an interview of which a summary in Dutch appeared in Reformatorisch Dagblad (Reformed Daily), 15 April 2009. Return to text.
  2. “Catholic” in the sense of universal, not Roman Catholic. Return to text.

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Got Questions Answers “Is the Bible truly God’s Word?”

Filed under: Uncategorized — augustinehippo1 @ 11:07 am

Question: “Is the Bible truly God’s Word?”

Answer: Our answer to this question will not only determine how we view the Bible and its importance to our lives, but also it will ultimately have an eternal impact on us. If the Bible is truly God’s Word, then we should cherish it, study it, obey it, and fully trust it. If the Bible is the Word of God, then to dismiss it is to dismiss God Himself.

The fact that God gave us the Bible is an evidence and illustration of His love for us. The term “revelation” simply means that God communicated to mankind what He is like and how we can have a right relationship with Him. These are things that we could not have known had God not divinely revealed them to us in the Bible. Although God’s revelation of Himself in the Bible was given progressively over approximately 1500 years, it has always contained everything man needs to know about God in bible-185372_640order to have a right relationship with Him. If the Bible is truly the Word of God, then it is the final authority for all matters of faith, religious practice, and morals.

The question we must ask ourselves is how can we know that the Bible is the Word of God and not just a good book? What is unique about the Bible that sets it apart from all other religious books ever written? Is there any evidence that the Bible is truly God’s Word? These types of questions must be seriously examined if we are to determine the validity of the Bible’s claim to be the very Word of God, divinely inspired, and totally sufficient for all matters of faith and practice. There can be no doubt that the Bible does claim to be the very Word of God. This is clearly seen in Paul’s commendation to Timothy: “… from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:15-17).

There are both internal and external evidences that the Bible is truly God’s Word. The internal evidences are those things within the Bible that testify of its divine origin. One of the first internal evidences that the Bible is truly God’s Word is seen in its unity. Even though it is really sixty-six individual books, written on three continents, in three different languages, over a period of approximately 1500 years, by more than 40 authors who came from many walks of life, the Bible remains one unified book from beginning to end without contradiction. This unity is unique from all other books and is evidence of the divine origin of the words which God moved men to record.

prophetAnother of the internal evidences that indicates the Bible is truly God’s Word is the prophecies contained within its pages. The Bible contains hundreds of detailed prophecies relating to the future of individual nations including Israel, certain cities, and mankind. Other prophecies concern the coming of One who would be the Messiah, the Savior of all who would believe in Him. Unlike the prophecies found in other religious books or those by men such as Nostradamus, biblical prophecies are extremely detailed. There are over three hundred prophecies concerning Jesus Christ in the Old Testament. Not only was it foretold where He would be born and His lineage, but also how He would die and that He would rise again. There simply is no logical way to explain the fulfilled prophecies in the Bible other than by divine origin. There is no other religious book with the extent or type of predictive prophecy that the Bible contains.

A third internal evidence of the divine origin of the Bible is its unique authority and power. While this evidence is more subjective than the first two, it is no less a powerful testimony of the divine origin of the Bible. The Bible’s authority is unlike any other book ever written. This authority and power are best seen in the way countless lives have been transformed by the supernatural power of God’s Word. Drug addicts have been cured by it, homosexuals set free by it, derelicts and deadbeats transformed by it, hardened criminals reformed by it, sinners rebuked by it, and hate turned to love by it. The Bible does possess a dynamic and transforming power that is only possible because it is truly God’s Word.

There are also external evidences that indicate the Bible is truly the Word of God. One is the historicity of the Bible. Because the Bible details historical events, its truthfulness and accuracy are subject to verification like any other historical document. Through both archaeological evidences and other writings, the historical accounts of the Bible have been proven time and time again to be accurate and true. In fact, all the archaeological and manuscript evidence supporting the Bible makes it the best-documented book from the ancient world. The fact that the Bible accurately and truthfully records historically verifiable events is a great indication of its truthfulness when dealing with religious subjects and doctrines and helps substantiate its claim to be the very Word of God.

Another external evidence that the Bible is truly God’s Word is the integrity of its human authors. As mentioned earlier, God used men from many walks of life to record His words. In studying the lives of these men, we find them to be honest and sincere. The fact that they were willing to die often excruciating deaths for what they believed testifies that these ordinary yet honest men truly believed God had spoken to them. The men who wrote the New Testament and many hundreds of other believers (1 Corinthians 15:6) Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. knew the truth of their message because they had seen and spent time with Jesus Christ after He had risen from the dead. Seeing the risen Christ had a tremendous impact on them. They went from hiding in fear to being willing to die for the message God had revealed to them. Their lives and deaths testify to the fact that the Bible truly is God’s Word.

A final external evidence that the Bible is truly God’s Word is the indestructibility of the Bible. Because of its importance and its claim to be the very Word of God, the Bible has suffered more vicious attacks and attempts to destroy it than any other book in history. From early Roman Emperors like Diocletian, through communist dictators and on to dioclecianmodern-day atheists and agnostics, the Bible has withstood and outlasted all of its attackers and is still today the most widely published book in the world.

Throughout time, skeptics have regarded the Bible as mythological, but archaeology has confirmed it as historical. Opponents have attacked its teaching as primitive and outdated, but its moral and legal concepts and teachings have had a positive influence on societies and cultures throughout the world. It continues to be attacked by pseudo-science, psychology, and political movements, yet it remains just as true and relevant today as it was when it was first written. It is a book that has transformed countless lives and cultures throughout the last 2000 years. No matter how its opponents try to attack, destroy, or discredit it, the Bible remains; its veracity and impact on lives is unmistakable. The accuracy which has been preserved despite every attempt to corrupt, attack, or destroy it is clear testimony to the fact that the Bible is truly God’s Word and is supernaturally protected by Him. It should not surprise us that, no matter how the Bible is attacked, it always comes out unchanged and unscathed. After all, Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Mark 13:31). After looking at the evidence, one can say without a doubt that, yes, the Bible is truly God’s Word.

 

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September 23, 2014

“A Genuine Faith That Navigates Through Suffering” Pastor Rusty Lyon

Filed under: Uncategorized — augustinehippo1 @ 6:42 pm

 

James 5:7-11 (NIV)
7  Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rustyrains. 8  You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. 9  Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! 10  Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11  As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

 

 How to navigate through inevitable suffering:

A. Be patient: v. 7

7  Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming….

* James 1:12    Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

Take it is stride, let God teach you something

B. Look for the Lord’s coming : v. 7 b-8

 See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. 8  You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.

Be patient – the harvest is coming

2 Thessalonians 1:5-10  All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. 6  God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7  and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8  He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9  They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might 10  on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.

Romans 8:18  I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18  Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

 

Do not lose heart, revel in the glory of the 2nd coming of Jesus

Revelation 22:20  He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

C. Don’t grumble against each other, don’t turn against each other v. 9

9  Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!

In what ways do Christians tend to grumble about each other? Why do we do it?

- Personality differences

- Socioeconomic differences

- We misread each other

- We psychoanalyze the motives of each other

- Pick at each other because others don’t carry their own weight

- Musical tastes and styles

-Take frustration out on the pastor

D. Follow the example of the Lord’s servants who have gone on before you: vs 10-11

10  Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.

* Moses: 

Exodus 17:4  Then Moses cried out to the LORD, “What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me.”

Numbers 16:3-4  They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is with them. Why then do you set yourselves above the LORD’s assembly?” 4  When Moses heard this, he fell facedown.

* Elijah:                                                                                                                                                                  

 1 Kings 18-19  So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of  one of them.” 3  Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there…………. 9  There he went into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the LORD came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10  He replied, “I have been very zealous for the  LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

* Jeremiah: the weeping prophet, enduring mistreatment with patience. He was put in stocks (Jer. 20:2); thrown into prison (32:20), lowered into a miry dungeon (38:6).

Jeremiah 20:2  he had Jeremiah the prophet beaten and put in the stocks at the Upper Gate of Benjamin at the LORD’s temple.

Jeremiah 32:2  The army of the king of Babylon was then besieging Jerusalem, and Jeremiah the prophet was confined in the courtyard of the guard royal palace of Judah.

Jeremiah 38:6  So they took Jeremiah and put him into the cistern of Malkijah, the king’s son, which was in the courtyard of the guard. They lowered Jeremiah by ropes into the cistern; it had no water in it, only mud, and Jeremiah sank down into the mud. 

* Amos:        Amos 7:12  Then Amaziah said to Amos, “Get out, you seer! Go back to the land of Judah. Earn your bread there and do your prophesying there.

* Matthew   Matthew 5:11-12  “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. 

When we follow God’s will, sometimes things get messy and complicated

E. Understanding the timing of the Lord’s blessing: vs 11

11  As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. 

*Job:               

Job 2:9 His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!” 

Job 13:15  Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face.

Job 42:10-11 After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. 11  All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the LORD had brought on him, and each one gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring.

F. Consider the Lord’s character: v.11

The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

* A true-to-life practical illustration to drive it home!

 

 

Creation ex nihilo – intro | Conservative News and Views

Filed under: Uncategorized — augustinehippo1 @ 9:00 am

Creation ex nihilo – intro | Conservative News and Views.

September 22, 2014

Why Will God Hold America More Accountable Than Other Nations?

Why Would God Punish America Before He Would Punish Hindu or Islamic Nations?

Essentially, this question was asked by the ancient Hebrew prophet Habakkuk. When he complained to God regarding the corruption of his nation and inquired how long God would tolerate it, God informed him that He was bringing the Chaldeans against the nation to punish them. But this divine response perplexed the prophet, causing him to make a second inquiry: “Why do You look on those who deal treacherously, and hold Your tongue when the wicked devours a person more righteous than he?” (1:3). In other words, yes, Israel deserved punishment, but why inflict that punishment using a nation even more wicked than Israel—a polytheistic, pagan nation? God’s answer was that, in His own good time, He would ultimately deal with the more wicked nation as well.

What is unique about America is the fact that it was borne amid an almost unanimous desire to possess the favor of the God of the Bible in the establishment of the Republic. The Founders repeatedly expressed their concern that Christianity (what they repeatedly styled “true religion”) be maintained among the citizenry in order to retain divine assistance (Miller, 2010). This basic orientation was sustained as a national attitude for over 150 years. After World War II, sinister efforts were well underway to strip God and Christianity from civil, judicial, and educational institutions (Miller, 2008).

Unlike Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist, and polytheistic, pagan countries—which do not claim to be “Christian”—America has been recognized the world over as a “Christian nation.” We have been blessed accordingly—beyond all other nations in human history. America’s origins so positioned her among the nations of the Earth that, in effect, many would see God’s reputation as “on the line.” Do we think He would allow America to jettison Christian values, flaunt moral degradation, and defiantly boast to the world that America is “tolerant” of perversion and immorality—without calling her to account before the world? As prominent Founder George Mason, often called “The Father of the Bill of Rights,” stated at the Constitutional Convention: “As nations cannot be rewarded or punished in the next world, so they must be in this. By an inevitable chain of causes and effects, Providence punishes national sins by national calamities” (as quoted in Madison, 1840, 3:1391, emp. added; of course, God’s timetable varies from human expectation, so any future retribution is unpredictable as to timing).

The Founders understood this principle emphatically. Take, for example, prominent Founding Father John Witherspoon. Serving as President of Princeton from 1768 to 1776, Witherspoon served on both the Provincial Congress of New Jersey as well as the Continental Congress (1776-1782) where he signed theDeclaration of Independence. After the Revolutionary War, he was a member of the New Jersey State Assembly as well as a member of the State ratification convention for the federal Constitution. In a treatise titled “The Dominion of Providence over the Passions of Men,” written the same year the Founders declared their independence, this quintessential Founder insightfully observed:

It is the prerogative of God to do what he will with his own; but he often displays his justice itself, by throwing into the furnace those, who, though they may not be visibly worse than others, may yet have more to answer for, as having been favoured with more distinguished privileges, both civil and sacred (1776, emp. added).

America has been blessed with so many more privileges and blessings than other nations. But our moral decline seems to be proportional to those blessings. America has a lot to answer for. It’s only a question of time—unless a massive, nationwide, spiritual awakening is forthcoming. That is precisely what America most desperately needs—not a stronger economy, not more handouts, and not more concern for the environment. She needs to repent and fall before the God of Heaven and beg His forgiveness.

Now do not be stiff-necked, as your fathers were, but yield yourselves to the LORD; and enter His sanctuary, which He has sanctified forever, and serve the LORD your God, that the fierceness of His wrath may turn away from you (2 Chronicles 30:8).

Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him (Psalm 2:12).

But the LORD is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King. At His wrath the earth will tremble, and the nations will not be able to endure His indignation (Jeremiah 10:10).

REFERENCES

Madison, James (1840), The Papers of James Madison, ed. Henry Gilpin (Washington, DC: Langtree & O’Sullivan).

Miller, Dave (2008), The Silencing of God: The Dismantling of America’s Christian Heritage(Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).

Miller, Dave (2010), Christ and the Continental Congress (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).

Witherspoon, John (1776), “The Dominion of Providence over the Passions of Men” (Philadelphia, PA: Town & Country), http://goo.gl/nLihJK.



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September 21, 2014

Daniel Chapter 2

Filed under: Book of Daniel — augustinehippo1 @ 4:00 pm
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1  Now in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzardan21
had dreams; and his spirit was troubled and his sleep left him. 2  Then the king gave orders to call in the magicians, the conjurers, the sorcerers and the Chaldeans to tell the king his dreams

 .
1. So, what’s the big deal about a dream?
.
Having subdued all his enemies, and firmly established his throne, it is probable he was thinking upon his bed what should come to pass hereafter: what should be the future success of his family and kingdom, and whether any, or what, families and kingdoms might arise after his own: and as our waking thoughts usually give some tincture to our dreams, he dreamed of something to the same purpose, which astonished him, but which he could not rightly understand. The dream affected him strongly at the time; but awaking in confusion, he had but an imperfect remembrance of it; he could not recollect the particulars. It is said he dreamed dreams, because though it was but one continued dream, it contained divers scenes of affairs, being a description of the succession of the four monarchies which were to continue, under different forms, unto the end of the world. Wherewith his spirit was troubled — The Hebrew expression, ותתפעם רוחו, denotes that his spirit was violently agitated, or in such consternation as to affect his body, and disturb his rest. JBC

 The dreams were clearly vivid ones. Nebuchadnezzar was greatly disturbed and could no longer sleep. And the sense of unease continued on in the morning. He knew that the dreams had something very important to say to him, and he was desperate to know what it was. But as we shall see, he was not going to be satisfied with suave answers. He had had too much experience of interpreters of dreams to trust them. He wanted the truth, and these dreams were very important to him. The importance of dreams in the eyes of the ancient world cannot be over-exaggerated.The plural ‘dreams’ probably means that he saw what followed as a succession of dreams, into which he slipped in and out, rather than as just one dream. Alternately it may mean that he dreamed the same dream two or three times over (the singular is used later). PC

2. Who were these guys?

Nebuchadnezzar assembled his wise men  to interpret the meaning of what he had dreamed. Daniel identified four distinct groups of them here. The king wanted to make sure someone could help him. The magicians (Heb.hartummim) were evidently scholars who could divine the future by using various means. The conjurers or enchanters (assapim) could evidently communicate with the dead. The sorcerers (mekassepim) practiced sorcery and cast spells. The Chaldeans or astrologers (kasdim) here refer to the priestly caste that studied the heavens to determine the future. The Chaldean astronomers were remarkably accurate. Daniel prepared the reader for the failure of all the king’s counselors that follows by pointing out that there were many different groups of them. Evidently it was customary for the Babylonian kings to tell their dreams to their advisers who would then provide a politically correct interpretation that would satisfy the monarch. However, Nebuchadnezzar wanted his wise men not only to give him an interpretation but also to tell him what he had dreamed. CN.

So they came in and stood before the king. 3 The king said to them, “I had a dream and my spirit is anxious to understand the dream.” 4 Then the Chaldeans spoke to the king in Aramaic: “O king, live forever! Tell the dream to your servants, and we will declare the interpretation.” 5  The king replied to the Chaldeans, “The command from me is firm: if you do not make known to me the dream and its interpretation, you will be torn limb from limb and your houses will be made a rubbish heap. 6  “But if you declare the dream and its interpretation, you will receive from me gifts and a reward and great honor; therefore declare to me the dream and its interpretation.” 7  They answered a second time and said, “Let the king tell the dream to his servants, and we will declare the interpretation.” 8  The king replied, “I know for certain that you are bargaining for time, inasmuch as you have seen that the command from me is firm, 9  that if you do not make the dream known to me, there is only one decree for you. For you have agreed together to speak lying and corrupt words before me until the situation is changed; therefore tell me the dream, that I may know that you can declare to me its interpretation.”

3. Had the king really forgotten the dream?.

It is possible, as some have suggested, that the king actually forgot the dreams, and that is why he demanded that his wise men tell the dream and then its interpretation. I think the king remembered his dream, but wanted to be certain of a genuine interpretation, not a fabrication. Anyone can “interpret” a dream; few indeed can tell you what your dream was. The king required both.King Nebuchadnezzar was in a bad mood when he called his wise men. His dream troubled him so greatly he could not sleep afterward (2:1). Two things caused the king such distress over his dream. First, he believed his dream was very important. In his culture and religion, dreams were a means of revelation from the gods. He wanted to know what the gods were trying to tell him. Secondly, like the Pharaoh of Joseph’s day who did not understand his dream, there was an ominous sense that something was wrong. Because he lacked the interpretation of his dream, he did not know what was wrong, or what he should do about it. RD

“The king was a young man who had been extraordinarily successful in his military conquests. He undoubtedly had developed a great deal of confidence in himself. It is entirely possible that the wise men were much older than the king, having served Nebuchadnezzar’s father. It would be understandable that the king might have previously been somewhat frustrated by these older counselors and may have had a real desire to be rid of them in favor of younger men whom he had chosen himself. Nebuchadnezzar might well have doubted their honesty, sincerity, and capability, and may even have wondered whether they were loyal to him. He may also have questioned some of their superstitious practices.”Regardless of what Nebuchadnezzar may or may not have remembered, his desire to validate the interpretation that his advisers would propose is beyond doubt. They claimed to offer infallible supernatural guidance. If they failed, they would suffer excruciating dismemberment and humiliation. If they succeeded, gifts, a special reward, and great honor would  be theirs. 


10  The Chaldeans answered the king and said, “There is not a man on earth who could declare the matter for the king, in as much as no great king or ruler has ever asked anything like this of any magician, conjurer or Chaldean. 11 “Moreover, the thing which the king demands is difficult, and there is no one else who could declare it to the king except gods, whose dwelling place is not with mortal flesh.” 12  Because of this the king became indignant and very furious and gave orders to destroy all the wise men of Babylon.13  So the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they looked for Daniel and his friends to kill them. 14 
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4. Wasn’t the King being unfair to his “advisers”?

.The complaint that the king was unjust in his demand has a sound of justice. But when it is recalled what a gigantic hoax the whole hocus-pocus of ancient astrology, divining, soothsaying, etc., really was, the king’s decree, while excessively harsh, in that it included their “houses” (families? v. 5), was not

unjust as regards the “wise men” themselves. They claimed occult powers and were frauds, granting a good bit of sincere self-deception. God holds men responsible for willful ignorance (cf. Rom 1:28). 11. The gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh. The comma after gods makes the following clause non-restrictive, that is applicable to all gods. If the comma is omitted, the clause is read as restrictive, i.e., applying only to a certain class of gods. Perhaps it is best to omit the comma and understand the wise men as claiming to have communication in their “flesh” with certain gods of the pantheon but none with the greatest ones (Marduk), who were able to control or reveal the future. WBC

The Chaldeans proceeded to explain with profuse courtesy and flattery that what the king requested was humanly impossible. No one could tell what the king had dreamed. Furthermore no king had ever asked his counselors to do such a thing before. Only the immortal gods could provide this information, and the implication was that even these men could not get information from the gods. Yet that is precisely what they claimed to be able to provide: supernatural information.  CN

What they are saying is that they have no communication with heaven. They even confessed that their gods were not giving them very much information. They conclude their argument by saying that no human being could meet the king’s demands. JVM.

5. What did all this have to do with Daniel?

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Their confession sets the stage for Daniel’s ability to do precisely what they said no person could do. Their confession of inability and their complaint that the king was being unfair with them made Nebuchadnezzar very angry (cf. Gen. 40:241:10Dan. 3:1319). He gave orders to execute all the wise men in Babylon, specifically, those who were his counselors. Probably the city of Babylon is in view here rather than the province or the whole empire (cf. v. 493:1) since the king’s counselors were the targets of his wrath. Daniel and his three friends fell under the edict because they were advisers to the king (1:20), not because they practiced divination, which, it is safe to say, they did not. CN

God providentially orchestrated the events of Babylon so that the “gods,” along with all those who called on them, were shown to be worthless and powerless. At the same time, God created a situation in which His four servants would be in danger, and for whom He would prove to be their deliverer. Furthermore, in the midst of these circumstances, God would demonstrate that He could do what no other god could do—foretell history. All things are possible for God; there is no impossible situation. In situations which appear insurmountable, the faith of His saints grows strong, and His power and majesty is demonstrated to all. The crisis here is by divine design, as is every crisis involving the people and purposes of God. RD 

Then Daniel replied with discretion and discernment to Arioch, the captain of the king’s bodyguard, who had gone forth to slay the wise men of Babylon; 15  he said to Arioch, the king’s commander, “For what reason is the decree from the king so urgent?” Then Arioch informed Daniel about the matter. 16  So Daniel went in and requested of the king that he would give him time, in order that he might declare the interpretation to the king. 17  Then Daniel went to his house and informed his friends, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, about the matter, 18  so that they might request compassion from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his friends would not be destroyed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.

6. How did Daniel know that God would give him the interpretation to the dream?.
He didn’t.  

No evidence indicates Daniel wanted to be a hero. Daniel acted as he did because he was put “between a rock and a hard place.” He was forced to act. If he did not act, not only he, but his three Hebrew friends would die, along with all the other wise men of Babylon.

Daniel acted on faith. Once he understood the problem, he knew the solution. What was impossible for the wise men of Babylon was possible for the God of heaven, the God of Israel. God knew the future. More than this, God planned the future, in eternity past. Daniel had every confidence that the king’s dream not only came from God but would be revealed and interpreted to the king by God, if he and his friends but petitioned Him to do so.Daniel hastened to his house, where he found his three friends. He told them what had happened in order that they might pray with him for God to have mercy on them and deliver them by revealing the dream and its message to Daniel. RD

Daniel asked in faith………..Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV)   Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 
 
Daniel and his friends hoped that God would again grant them favor as he had done in the past. 

19  Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven; 20  Daniel said, “Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, For wisdom and power belong to Him. 2  “It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men And knowledge to men of understanding. 22  “It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, And the light dwells with Him. 23  “To You, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, For You have given me wisdom and power; Even now You have made known to me what we requested of You, For You have made known to us the king’s matter.” 24  Therefore, Daniel went in to Arioch, whom the king had appointe to destroy the wise men of Babylon; he went and spoke to him as follows: “Do not destroy the wise men of Babylon! Take me into the king’s presence, and I will declare the interpretation to the king.”

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7. What can we learn from Daniel’s prayer?
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As the dream came to Nebuchadnezzar in the night, so the dream and its meaning came to Daniel in a night vision (verse 19). Daniel’s response seems immediate. His prayer of praise reveals Daniel’s gratitude for receiving the answer to their prayers. It reveals more as well. Let us focus briefly on three dimensions of this prayer:(1) What the king’s dream reveals about the superiority of God to the “gods” of Babylon;(2) What the king’s dream reveals about God; and(3) What the revelation of the dream and its meaning reveals about God’s love and care for His people.

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First, Daniel’s praise focuses on the superiority of God to the “gods” of Babylon. Neither the wise men nor their gods could satisfy the king’s demands. They were too difficult for them. God revealed the dream and its meaning for the king. The God who answered the prayers of Daniel and his friends was the “God of heaven” (verse 19), the God about whom the wise men spoke but did not know. As opposed to the Babylonian gods, whose purposes and plans were determined by the stars and seasons, the God of heaven changes the times and epochs.
Second, Daniel’s prayer gives insight into the message which God was giving to Nebuchadnezzar through his dream. As the king pondered the future, God informed him through his dream that the future is in God’s hands and is not determined by kings. Indeed, even the rise and fall of kings is the work of God and not men. Wisdom and power belong to God; and thus the king, who was looking to men, should have been looking to the God of Israel for wisdom.
Third, the dream demonstrated God’s care for His people Israel. The four young Hebrew captives, about to be put to death, prayed for mercy and deliverance. Their request was answered with the revelation of the king’s dream and its interpretation to Daniel. Even in captivity, God continues to care for His own. RD
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25  Then Arioch hurriedly brought Daniel into the king’s presence and spoke to him as follows: “I have found a man among the exiles from Judah who can make the interpretation known to the king!” 26  The king said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, “Are you able to make known to me the dream which I have seen and its interpretation?” 27  Daniel answered before the king and said, “As for the mystery about which the king has inquired, neither wise men, conjurers, magicians nor diviners are able to declare it to the king. 28  “However, there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will take place in the latter days. 
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8. Why would the God of the Jews communicate with a pagan king?

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“there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries”This praise to God sums up the theme of the whole book, namely that God is the One who controls all things and grants all wisdom and might. MSBN

God is God of the entire universe and all nations and peoples, whether they acknowledge Him or not.     

Psalm 2:1-4 (NKJV) 1  Why do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing? 2  The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, 3  “Let us break Their bonds in pieces And cast away Their cords from us.” 4  He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The LORD shall hold them in derision.

    Daniel immediately makes a distinction between the wisdom of Babylon and the wisdom of God. The apostle Paul wrote, “… hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” and also, “… the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Cor. 1:20, 25). Isaiah 46:9-10 (ESV) 9  remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’

 
Daniel now has the unique privilege of introducing to the darkened mind of this pagan king the living and true God. He says, “There is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days.” This is very important because it is going to be the emphasis in the Book of Daniel; this dream refers to the end of the times of the Gentiles. JVM
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.34  “This was your dream and the visions in your mind while on your bed. 29  “As for you, O king, while on your bed your thoughts turned to what would take place in the future; and He who reveals mysteries has made known to you what will take place. 30  “But as for me, this mystery has not been revealed to me for any wisdom residing in me more than in any other living man, but for the purpose of making the interpretation known to the king, and that you may understand the thoughts of your mind. 31  “You, O king, were looking and behold, there was a single great statue; that statue, which was large and of extraordinary splendor, was standing in front of you, and its appearance was awesome. 32  “The head of that statue was made of fine gold, its breast and its arms of silver, its belly and its thighs of bronze, 33  its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. You continued looking until a stone was cut out without hands, and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and crushed them.  
34  While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them.
35 “Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were crushed all at the same time and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away so that not a trace of them was found. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth. 36
 
“This was the dream; now we will tell its interpretation before the king. 37  “You, O king, are the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, the strength and the glory; 38  and wherever the sons of men dwell, or the beasts of the field, or the birds of the sky, He has given them into your hand and has caused you to rule over them all. You are the head of gold. 39  “After you there will arise another kingdom inferior to you, then another third kingdom of bronze, which will rule over all the earth. 40  “Then there will be a fourth kingdom as strong as iron; inasmuch as iron crushes and shatters all things, so, like iron that breaks in pieces, it will crush and bstatuereak all these in pieces. 47 “In that you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, it will be a divided kingdom; but it will have in it the toughness of iron, inasmuch as you saw the iron mixed with common clay. 42  “As the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of pottery, so some of the kingdom will be strong and part of it will be brittle. 43  “And in that you saw the iron mixed with common clay, they will combine with one another in the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, even as iron does not combine with pottery. 44  “In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever. 45  “Inasmuch as you saw that a stone was cut out of the mountain without hands and that it crushed the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold, the great God has made known to the king what will take place in the future; so the dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy.” 46
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9. What is the dream?Daniel next pictured clearly and concisely what Nebuchadnezzar had seen in his dream. The king had been viewing a large statue that was standing before him. There is no basisin the text for concluding that this was an idol. The statue was extremely splendid and awe-inspiring because of its appearance. Daniel did not say if it was a statue of a man or a woman, though it was presumably a man, or if it represented the king or someone whom the king knew. The important things about this statue were the materials that composed it and what happened to it.“The figure of a man was employed here because God wished to make known “The figure of a man was employed here because God wished to make known “The figure of a man was employed here because God wished to make known what would transpire during man’s day, the age in which mortal man ruled the earth. Here, in one panoramic sweep, the whole of human civilization is spread before us, from the days of Nebuchadnezzer to the end of time.

The head was of fine gold. Its chest and arms were silver. Its abdomen and thighs were bronze. Its lower legs were iron, and its feet were a combination of iron and clay. Archaeologists have discovered similar images made of several types of precious metals in Babylonia.Several features are noteworthy. First, the head is the only member of the body made of only one metal. All the other parts had more than one substance with the exception of the arms. For example, the upper torso was silver but bronze lower down. The same was true of the legs and feet. Second, there is a consistently decreasing value to the substances beginning at the top and proceeding to the bottom of the image. Third, the image was top-heavy. The specific gravity of gold is about 19, silver about 11, brass about 8.5, and iron 7.8. Fourth, the substances progress from the softest to the hardest, top to bottom. The feet are a non-adhering combination of very hard and hard but fragile materials. The clay in view may have been baked clay that the Babylonians used as tiles in construction projects. CN

.10. What did the dream mean?

we will tell its interpretation. Five empires in succession would rule over Israel, here pictured by parts of a statue (body). In Da 7, the same empires are represented by 4 great beasts. These empires are Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, and the later revived Rome, each one differentiated from the previous as indicated by the declining quality of the metal. A stone picturing Christ (Lk 20:18) at His second coming (as the Son of Man also does in Da 7:13, 14) will destroy the fourth empire in its final phase with catastrophic suddenness (2:34, 35, 44, 45). Christ’s total shattering of Gentile power will result in the establishment of His millennial kingdom, the ultimate empire, and then continuing on eternally (2:44; 7:27).

inferior. This probably means “lower” (lit. “earthward”) on the image of a man as Daniel guides Nebuchadnezzar’s thoughts downward on the body from his own empire (the head) to the one that would succeed it. Medo-Persia, though lacking the glory of Babylon (silver as compared to gold), was not inferior in strength to Babylon when its day of power came; it actually conquered Babylon (7:5). Also in the case of Greece, bronze is less glorious (valuable) than silver, but stronger. rule over all the earth. Alexander the Great became the ruler of the world, including Israel, from Europe to Egypt to India. 

strong as iron.This metal fittingly represents the Roman Empire which would be characterized by the description predicted. It did have armies in iron armor known as the Iron Legions of Rome, and it had strength and invincibility. toes. Ten toes represent the same kings as the 10 horns in 7:24. They will rule in the final time of the Gentile empire, which Christ destroys in violent abruptness at His second coming.

clay and … iron.The iron in the 10 toes (kings) represents the Roman Empire in its revived form, prior to the second coming of Christ, as having iron-like strength for conquest (cf. Rev 13:4, 5). But the clay mixed in depicts that the union (federation) of kings and nations would have fatal flaws of human weakness, so that it is inherently vulnerable.endure forever. God’s kingdom ruled by Messiah is the final rule, never to be replaced. It has a millennial phase and an eternal future, but it is the same king who rules both.

 stone … mountain. The stone is Messiah (cf. Ps 118:22, 23; Is 28:16; Ro 9:33; 1Pe 2:6; esp. Lk 20:18). The mountain pictures God’s all-transcending government that looms over weak earthly powers (4:17, 25; Pss 47:8; 103:19; 145:13; Rev 17:9). Messiah is “cut out” of this sovereign realm by God, which accords with the Son of Man coming (7:13, 14); “without hands” denotes that the Messiah comes from God and is not of human origin or power (cf. the same idea in 8:25). The virgin birth and the resurrection, as well as the second coming, could be encompassed in this reference to supernatural origin. MSBN


The one statue was a composite, so to speak, of the kingdoms of the Gentiles, beginning with that of Nebuchadnezzar, and continuing through history. Nebuchadnezzar was the head of fine gold, an indication of the superiority of his kingdom to those which followed. Nebuchadnezzar was indeed a great king, but his power, strength, and glory were all from God. The extent of his rule (2:38) sounds much like the rule which God gave to Adam and Eve, in the beginning (Genesis 1:26).After Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom, three others would follow. Almost nothing is said of the second and third kingdoms, except for one thing: they will become progressively inferior to the kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar. A great deal is said of the fourth (and last) kingdom; more attention is given it than all the rest, which is most interesting because it was the farthest removed from the days of Nebuchadnezzar. Why should this kingdom receive such attention in the interpretation?I think it is because this is the kingdom struck by the stone; it is the kingdom whose fall topples the entire statue, rendering it virtually non-existent in the end. This kingdom, while it receives much attention from Daniel, is not named, nor are all the details pertaining to it explained. The only detail is that the mixture of iron and clay, which weakens the statue, is that of a racial intermingling (Daniel 2:43).When this final kingdom comes to power, the end is near. The final days will fulfill the details of this prophecy. The end of this kingdom is brought about by the mysterious “stone made without hands” —the stone which brings about a new, eternal kingdom.

Daniel ends the interpretation by informing Nebuchadnezzar that the vision was from God, indicating to him what would take place in the future. The matter was certain, and the interpretation reliable.Before we consider the response of Nebuchadnezzar to Daniel’s words, let us summarize some important observations concerning the statue:(1) There is a unity, a dan212bond between the four kingdoms, as indicated by the vision. There is one statue, but four distinct kingdoms. Somehow these four kingdoms are related or share something in common. The common element seems to be that these were all Gentile kingdoms, kingdoms which subjugated and dominated the nation Israel.(2) There is a downward progression, a deterioration of the kingdoms. The head of gold is glorious, the breast of silver of a lesser greatness. The belly of brass deteriorates to legs of iron and feet which are a mixture of iron and clay. Things don’t get better, only worse.(3) There is, in the end, a disintegration of the entire statue. Granted Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom was great, but when the stone strikes the feet of the statue, the entire statue collapses, disintegrates, and blows away.In the end, the greatness of Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom (not to mention all the rest) is blown away. Somehow Nebuchadnezzar is to see the link between his kingdom and the other three, and to see that he shares in the final destiny of the entire statue.

(4) There is an unknown, mysterious “king,” who destroys the entire statue, who nullifies all of these kingdoms, bringing them to nothing while establishing his own kingdom.(5) The kingdoms of Nebuchadnezzar and those who follow him pass away, and a greater, eternal kingdom does not.(6) Greater emphasis is on the first and fourth kingdoms than on the rest. The first kingdom is given attention because Nebuchadnezzar is the king. The fourth kingdom receives more emphasis than the other three, I believe, because it is the final kingdom which will be struck down by Messiah at His appearance.(7) Much in this vision is not interpreted or explained, which neither Daniel nor Nebuchadnezzar seem to have understood. In this vision, none of the kingdoms or kings are identified, except the first kingdom (Babylon) and its king (Nebuchadnezzar). What was not interpreted did not need to be known by Daniel or the king. The meaning and interpretation of these mysterious details will be evident when they are fulfilled. RD
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 Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face and did homage to Daniel, and gave orders to present to him an offering and fragrant incense. 47  The king answered Daniel and said, “Surely your God is a God of gods and a Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, since you have been able to reveal this mystery.” 48  Then the king promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts, and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon. 49  And Daniel made request of the king, and he appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego over the administration of the province of Babylon, while Daniel was at the king’s court.  
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11. Did Nebuchadnezzar become a believer at this point?

Nebuchadnezzar Promotes Daniel. Nebuchadnezzar recognized and honored Daniel’s God and promoted Daniel and his friends within the Babylonian court, giving them further opportunity to promote the peace and welfare of the city where the Lord had exiled them, as Jeremiah had counseled (cf. Jer. 29:5–7). ESVNThe response of Nebuchadnezzar is truly amazing. Imagine Sadam Hussein, falling before a Jewish Christian, acknowledging the God of Israel as the only true God, and falling prostrate before one of His servants. Nebuchadnezzar was a much greater man, in power and in reputation.In chapter 1, the king thought of the God of Israel as a lesser “god,” as one defeated by his “gods” (see 1:1-2). He seems to have cared little about Daniel’s God, or about Daniel’s convictions. He is impressed only by Daniel’s superior performance (1:18-20). But now, in light of the events of chapter 2, Nebuchadnezzar falls prostrate, acknowledging the superiority of the God of Israel as the “God of gods,” “Lord of kings,” and a “revealer of mysteries.” Nebuchadnezzar has not yet come far enough to be called a saint, but he has come a long way in his understanding of the God of Israel.Nebuchadnezzar was a man of his word. He gave Daniel many gifts, just as he promised the wise men, if they would but tell him his dream and its meaning (see 2:6). Along with the gifts, Daniel received a promotion. He was made ruler of the entire province of Babylon and placed in charge of all the wise men of Babylon. Here was something for the wise men of Babylon to ponder. Their gods had nearly gotten them killed. Daniel’s God had saved their lives.RD

The effect of Daniel’s interpretation upon Nebuchadnezzar is so profound that he actually worships Daniel and commands others to do likewise. He doesn’t know any better; he only knows the worship of physical objects, and he intends thus to worship the living and true God. This was his introduction to the God of heaven. In this book we can watch the growth of faith in the heart of this idolatrous king. It will break through the darkness of paganism, and he is going to come into the marvelous light of the knowledge of God. JVM

            
ESVN………….ESV Study Bible Notes
 MSBN…….MacArthur NASB Study Notes                     
NIVSN…..NIV Study Notes. 
JVM ……………..J Vernon McGee,
ACC ……………. Adam Clarke’s Commentary
BN ……………..Barnes Notes
WBC…………….   Wycliffe Bible Commentary
CN …… …………..Constables Notes 
IC………………….Ironside Commentary
 NET……………….Net Bible Study Notes.
 JFB…………..Jamieson  Fausset  Brown Commentary
VWS……………..Vincent Word Studies
CMM………….Commentary on Matthew and Mark
BDB………….. Barclay’s Daily Study Bible (NT)
Darby……..John Darby’s Synopsis of the OT and NT
Johnson………Johnson’s Notes on the New Testament.
NTCMM…………..The New Testament Commentary:  Matthew and Mark.
 EHS………………….Expositions of the Holy Scriptures
 CPP…………………The Complete Pulpit Commentary
 SBC…………………Sermon Bible Commentary
 K&D……………….Keil and Deilitzsch Commentary on the OT
 EBC…………………Expositors Bible Commentary
 CBSC……………….Cambridge Bible for Schools and College
 GC……………………Guzik Commentary
RD……………………. Robert  Deffinbaugh      
NNIBC ………………Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary.
KJVBC……………….KJV Bible Commentary.
JBC……………………Joseph Benson’s Commentary
PC……………………..Pett’s Commentary
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September 20, 2014

How Early Were the Eyewitness Gospel Accounts Written?

Filed under: Uncategorized — augustinehippo1 @ 3:14 pm
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Question: “When were the Gospels written?”

Answer:It is important to understand that the dating of the Gospels and other New Testament books is at best an educated guess and gospelat worst foolish speculation. For example, suggested dates for the writing of the Gospel of Matthew range from as early as A.D. 40 to as late as A.D. 140. This wide range of dates from scholars indicates the subjective nature of the dating process. Generally, one will find that the presuppositions of the scholars greatly influence their dating of the Gospels.

For example, in the past many liberal theologians have argued for a later dating of many of the New Testament books than is probably warranted or valid, in an attempt to discredit or cast doubts upon the content and authenticity of the Gospel accounts. On the other hand, there are many scholars who look to a much earlier dating of the New Testament books. There are some that believe there is good evidence to support the view that the whole New Testament, including Revelation, was written prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. It is our contention that the evidence supports the earlier dating more than it does the later dating.

There are scholars who believe the Gospel of Matthew was written as early as ten to twelve years after the death of Christ. Those who hold to this earlier dating of Matthew believe he first wrote his Gospel in Aramaic, and then it was later translated into Greek. One of the evidences of this earlier dating of Matthew’s Gospel is that early church leaders such as Irenaeus, Origen, and Eusebius recorded that Matthew first wrote his gospel for Jewish believers while he was still in Palestine. In fact Eusebius (a bishop of Caesarea and known as the father of church history) reported that Matthew wrote his Gospel before he left Palestine to preach in other lands, which Eusebius says happened about 12 years after the death of Christ. Some scholars believe that this would place the writing of Matthew as early as A.D. 40-45 and as late as A.D. 55.

Even if the Gospels were not written until 30 years after Christ’s death, that would still place the writing of them prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. This presents no major problem with their authority or accuracy. Passing on oral traditions and teachings was commonplace in the Jewish culture of that day, and memorization was highly cultivated and practiced. Also, the fact that even at that time there would have been a considerable number of eyewitnesses around to dispute and discredit any false claims, and the fact that none of the “hard sayings” of Jesus were taken from the Gospel accounts, further supports their accuracy. Had the Gospels been edited before being written down, as some liberal scholars contend, then it was a very poor job. The writers left far too many “hard sayings,” and culturally unacceptable and politically incorrect accounts that would need explaining. An example of this is that the first witnesses of the resurrection were women, who were not considered reliable witnesses in the culture of that day.

The bottom line for Christians is this—whether the Gospels were written soon after the death of Christ, or not until 30 years after his death, does not really matter, because their accuracy and authority does not rest on when they were written but on what they are: the divinely inspired Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16). We should also remember that one of the promises Jesus gave His disciples was that He would send them “another helper,” the Holy Spirit, who would teach them all things and “bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” (John 14:26). So, whether it was few years or many after Jesus’ death that the Gospels were written, we can have total confidence and faith in their completeness and accuracy, knowing that they were written by “men moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21), who accurately recorded the very words of God.

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Dating the gospels is very important.  If it can be established that the gospels were written early, say before the year A.D. 70, then we would have good reason for believing that they were written by the disciples of Jesus himself.  If they were written by the disciples, then their reliability, authenticity, and accuracy are better substantiated.  Also, if they were written early, this would mean that there would not have been enough time for myth to creep into the gospel accounts since it was the eyewitnesses to Christ’s life that wrote them.  Furthermore, those who were alive at the time of the events could have countered the gospel accounts; ajcnd since we have no contradictory writings to the gospels, their early authorship as well as apostolic authorship becomes even more critical.

It is generally believed that Matthew was written before A.D. 70 and as early as A.D. 50.

Generally, Mark is said to be the earliest gospel with an authorship of between A.D. 55 to A.D. 70.

As far as dating the gospel goes, Luke was written before the book of Acts and Acts does not mention “Nero’s persecution of the Christians in A.D. 64 or the deaths of James (A.D. 62), Paul (A.D. 64), and Peter (A.D. 65).”Therefore, we can conclude that Luke was written before A.D. 62.   “Luke’s Gospel comes before the Acts.  The date of Acts is still in dispute, but the early date (about A.D. 63) is gaining support constantly.

The writer of the gospel of John was obviously an eyewitness of the events of Christ’s life since he speaks from a perspective of having been there during many of the events of Jesus’ ministry and displays a good knowledge of Israeli geography and customs. It is the last of the gospels and appears to have been written in the 80’s to 90’s.

http://carm.org/when-were-gospels-written-and-by-whom

 

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September 17, 2014

“A Genuine Faith Among the Affluent”

Filed under: Bible,Theology — augustinehippo1 @ 4:08 pm
Tags: , , , ,

James 5:1-6 (NIV) 1  Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. 2  Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes.  Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last
days. 4  Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. 5  You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter.
6  You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.



I. Taking a closer look at James 5:1-6 v. 1: Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. *  “Who is James speaking to in this passage?” (James 2:1-7)James 2:1-7 (NIV) 1  My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. 2  Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine

clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. 3  If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a
good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” 4  have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
5  Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?
6  But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7  Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong? 

James is speaking to both believers and non-believers.

* “weep and wail”?  Luke 6:24-25

Luke 6:24-25 (NIV)
24 “But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. 25  Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh
now,
for you will mourn and weep.

v. 2: Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes.

* “rotted”. rotten wood, decayed flesh, rotten fruit. 

* “moths have eaten your clothes”



v. 3: Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire.

You have hoarded wealth in the last days

* “hoarded wealth” Proverbs 21:20


Proverbs 21:20 (NIV)

20 The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down.

 

Greedily taking as much as I can for myself.  

* “in the last days”

Between the Ascension and the 2nd coming of Jesus.

v. 4:  Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.

* the means of acquisition: by not paying the workers.

* Isaiah 3:13-17; Deuteronomy 24:14-15; Amos 4:1-3

Isaiah 3:13-17 (NIV2011)

1The LORD takes his place in court; he rises to judge the people. 14  The LORD enters into judgment against the elders and leaders of his people: “It is you who have ruined my vineyard; the plunder from the poor is in your houses. 15  What do you mean by crushing my people and grinding the faces of the poor?” declares the Lord, the LORD Almighty. 16  The LORD says, “The women of Zion are haughty, walking along with outstretched necks, flirting with their eyes, strutting along with swaying hips, with ornaments jingling on their ankles. 17  Therefore the Lord will bring sores on the heads of the women of Zion; the LORD will make their scalps bald.”

Deuteronomy 24:14-15 (NIV)  14  Do not take advantage of a hired worker who is poor and needy, whether that worker is a fellow Israelite or a foreigner residing in one of your towns. 15  Pay them their wages each day before sunset, because they are poor and are counting on it. Otherwise they may cry to the LORD against you, and you will be guilty of sin. 


Amos 4:1-3 (NIV)  1  Hear this word, you cows of Bashan on Mount Samaria, you women who oppress the poor and crush the needy and say to your husbands, “Bring us some drinks!” 2  The Sovereign LORD has sworn by his holiness: “The time will surely come when you will be taken away with hooks, the last of you with fishhooks. 3

You will each go straight out through breaches in the wall, and you will be cast out toward Harmon,” declares the LORD.

v. 5:  You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter.

* “lived on earth in luxury” It’s all about luxury and self indulgence.

* “and self-indulgence”

v. 6:  You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.

  1 Kings 21: the story of King Ahab & Naboth’s vineyard

  Luke 20:45-47: the Pharisees of Jesus’ day



II. The practices of a genuine faith among affluent believers:

A. Acquire your wealth with integrity:

B. Save you wealth wisely:

Proverbs 13:22 (NIV)  22  A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous.


Is it wrong for Christians to save and put money away?



C. Spend your wealth shrewdly:


Proverbs 10:22 (NIV)  2The blessing of the LORD brings wealth, without painful toil for it.

 

D. Spread you wealth justly:

Proverbs 22:16 (NIV)  16One who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and one who gives gifts to the rich—both come to poverty.  

E. Share your wealth generously:


1 Timothy 6:17-19 (NIV)  1Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18  Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. 


Proverbs 11:24-25 (NIV) 24 One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. 25  A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.


Concluding Thoughts and Applications:

 

 

 

 

 

 

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September 16, 2014

The Global Flood Explains the Ice Age

Filed under: Bible,Creationism,Theology — augustinehippo1 @ 1:21 pm

.

Few can deny that an ice age really happened only thousands of years ago. Secular scientists have presented over 40 failed attempts to provide an adequate natural cause for an ice age. Could Noah’s Flood hold the answer?

 
Two key climate factors are required for an ice age. First, warm oceans are needed to increase evaporation, which ultimately generates extra rain near the equator and snowfall in northern latitudes that builds ice sheets atop the continents. Second, Earth’s atmosphere must contain enough tiny airborne particles called aerosols to reflect sunlight and keep the ice from melting during warm summer months.
Genesis 7:11 says that deep fountains burst forth to start the Flood, and we know that the earth’s depths are quite hot. When those hot fountains burst, they warmed global waters—just what’s needed to increase rain and snowfall. Continued volcanic eruptions from deep fountains would have ejected a supply of airborne aerosols that lingered long after the Flood. As time passed, Earth gradually settled from the Flood’s devastating effects and the Ice Age faded, leaving behind clear evidence of extensive glacial activity in northern areas and of a formerly tropical environment in places that are now desert.
The catastrophic global Flood supplies both Ice Age requirements—hot oceans and aerosols—and stands as the best Ice Age explanation.
 

http://www.icr.org/ice-age//

 
Institute for Creation Research  Hello Augustine,  We do invite you to use our material in your online discussions with a link back to the original articles on our website. Regards,Christine Dao Assistant Editor Institute for Creation Research Proclaiming Scientific Truth in Creation
 
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Jesus? What is the evidence?

Filed under: Bible,Theology — augustinehippo1 @ 6:16 am

jesus thinks biebers gay

 See Why We choose Him

29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! ………..
35 Again the next day, John was standing with two of his disciples. 36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look! The Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this and followed Jesus. 38 When Jesus turned and noticed them following Him, He asked them, “What are you looking for?” They said to Him, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are You staying?”39 “Come and you’ll see,” He replied. So they went and saw where He was staying, and they stayed with Him that day. It was about 10 in the morning. John 1:29,35-39
 .
1. Who is Jesus?
.

a. He was a man who lived in Israel about 2000 years ago. 95 to 99% of sceptical and non-sceptical scholars do not doubt Jesus walked the earth. If you are going to deny the life of Jesus then you will have to throw out everyone in history, because Jesus is the most documented person in antiquity.

In “The Historical Jesus – Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ” (1996) by Gary R. Habermas, the leading scholar on the resurrection, we can summarize what the earliest sources have said (pages 225, 250-253). Tiberius Caesar who died four years after Jesus only has 9 sources of him whereas Jesus has 45 sources within 150 years of their deaths.
 
“We have examined 45 ancient sources for the life of Jesus, which includes 19 early creedal, four archaeological, 17 non-Christian, and five non-New Testament Christian sources. From this data we have enumerated 129 reported facts concerning the life, person, teaching, death, and resurrection of Jesus, plus the disciples’ earliest message.”
 
 
b. We have biblical as well as secular references to his existence.
Reporting on Emperor Nero’s decision to blame the Christians for the fire that had destroyed Rome in A.D. 64, the Roman historian Tacitus wrote:
Nero fastened the guilt . . . on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of . . . Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome. . . .
 
 
““Now around this time lived Jesus, a wise man. For he was a worker of amazing deeds and was a teacher of people who gladly accept the truth. He won over both many Jews and many Greeks. Pilate, when he heard him accused by the leading men among us, condemned him to the cross, (but) those who had first loved him did not cease (doing so). To this day the tribe of Christians named after him has not disappeared” Josephus (37-101AD)
 
 
c. He was a religious leader.
He was called Rabbi. He taught in the synagogue and the temple. And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. John 8:2 (KJV)
 
 
d. He did not come to bring peace.  
Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division; Luke 12:51 (NASB)
Do not expect to advocate for Christ and not evoke opposition.
 
 
e. He claimed to be a King
And Pilate asked him, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answering said unto him, Thou sayest it. Mark 15:2 (KJV)
 
 

f. He claimed to be the messiah.  The woman *said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming ( He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.” 26 Jesus *said to her, ” I who speak to you am He.“ John 4:25-26 (NASB)g. He is the 2nd person of the trinity.  I and my Father are one. John 10:30 (KJV)h. He claimed to have existed before His birth in Judea.

 Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” John 8:58 (NKJV)
 
 
 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. Ex 3:14 (KJV)
 
 

i. He claimed to have been in Heaven with the Father

And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. John 17:5 (KJV)
 
 

j. He performed miracles.
And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. 44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: John 11:43-44 (KJV)k. He claimed to be God.

Then said they all, Art thou then the Son of God? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am. 71 And they said, What need we any further witness? for we ourselves have heard of his own mouth. Luke 22:70-71 (KJV)
 

l. He was crucified on a Roman Cross as a substitutionary sacrifice for the sins of the world and rose from the dead on the third day.

Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; 7 then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; 8 and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. 1 Cor 15:3-8 (NASB)
 

k. His followers believed, at the cost of their lives, that He was who He said He was.
 
  • Matthew – killed by stabbing as ordered by King Hircanus
  • James, son of Alphaeous – crucified
  • James, brother of Jesus – thrown down from a height, stoned and then beaten to death at the hands of Ananias (circa AD 66)
  • John – tortured by boiling oil, exiled to Patmos in AD 95
  • Mark – burned during Roman emperor Trajan’s reign
  • Peter – crucified upside-down by the gardens of Nero on the Vatican hill circa AD 64
  • Andrew – crucified on an “X” shaped cross by Aegeas, governor of the Edessenes, around AD 80
  • Philip – stoned and crucified in Hierapolis, Phrygia
  • Simon – crucified in Egypt under Trajan’s reign
  • Thomas – death by spear thrust in Calamina, India
  • Thaddaeous – killed by arrows
  • James, son of Zebedee – killed by sword in AD 44 by order of King Herod Agrippa I of Judea
  • Bartholomew – beaten, flayed alive, crucified upside down, then beheaded 

.

2. How do we know the bible is reliable?
 .
 
Manuscript Evidence for the New Testament:
          More than 24,000 partial and complete manuscript copies of the New Testament  exist, the oldest of which date to within 25 years of the writing of the last Book of the Bible. Those copies have an enviable record of agreement among themselves, having 40 disputed lines, as compared to 764 disputed lines in the 643 copies of the Iliad of Homer.
 
      
There are also some 86,000 quotations from the early church fathers and several thousand Lectionaries (church-service books containing Scripture quotations used in the early centuries of Christianity). Bottom line: the New Testament has an overwhelming amount of evidence supporting its reliability.
 
 
Statistically, the New Testament is 99.5% textually pure. That means that there is only 1/2 of 1% of of all the copies that do not agree with each other perfectly.  But, if you take that 1/2 of 1% and examine it, you find that the majority of the “problems” are nothing more than spelling errors and very minor word alterations. For example, instead of saying Jesus, a variation might be “Jesus Christ.”  So the actual amount of textual variation of any concern is extremely low. Therefore, we can say that we have a remarkably accurate compilation of the original documents.
 
 By far the most remarkable attestation for both the prophetic power and the accuracy of transmission of the Bible occurred in 1947, with the finding in Qumran of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Those documents, which actually date as far back as 600 BC in some cases, agree word-for-word with modern Hebrew manuscripts with very few exceptions.
 
 
The writings of Plato, the earliest copies were written 1200 years after he lived and we have 7 copies. Yet nobody doubts that he existed.

http://www.ankerberg.com/Articles/editors-choice/EC1205W1.htm

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3. The Jews understood the concept of “The Lamb of God”, but what does that mean in our culture.
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 The head of the largest psychiatric hospital in the UK stated that 70% of all mental illness is caused from repressed guilt.
 
Sigmund Freud can blame my mental dysfunction on my mother not showing me enough affection or how I hoarded my poops when I was a baby. Maybe it’s the fault of society that I become an axe murderer or video games or global warming or too much sugar. When you get right down to it, it’s me and we all know it. I am responsible for the evil that I do.
Every person has a conscience and we all know we stand guilty.
 
 
For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, 15 in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, 16 on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus. Romans 2:14-16 (NASB)
 
 
Movie star, billionaires, the rich the poor the famous and the unknown all are looking for a way of escaping their sin, whether they admit it or not.
Jesus declares us innocent; He can give us a “get out of jail free card”.  The few that find him get the greatest gift that can be imagined, a way to live a guilt free life and more.
 .
 
4. What are you looking for? Isn’t that the big question?
.

People in our society are looking for the same things they did 2000 yrs. ago.
Purpose and meaning.
Security and safety.
Happiness and contentment.
World peace.
 

“Thoughts are the shadows of our feelings – always darker, emptier and simpler.”Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche 

Things are entirely what they appear to be and behind them… there is nothing.  ~Jean Paul Sartre,   Basically he is saying “this is all there is, there ain’t no more.

”Richard Dawkins, “The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.

Darwinist George Gaylord Simpson: “Man is the result of a purposeless and natural process that did not have him in mind.
 

At some future period, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. Maybe if we murder everybody but the master race, we will be happy. Oh wait we already tried that. Never mind.Alice came to a fork in the road.  “Which road do I take?” she asked.
“Where do you want to go?” responded the Cheshire cat.
“I don’t know,” Alice answered.
“Then,” said the cat, “it doesn’t matter.” The world doesn’t know where they want to go. They need to be pointed in the correct direction by those who know where they are going.

.

Converse; Don’t Boss
 .
40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard John and followed Him. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah!” (which means “Anointed One”), 42 and he brought Simon to Jesus. When Jesus saw him, He said, “You are Simon, son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which means “Rock”).
43 The next day He decided to leave for Galilee. Jesus found Philip and told him, “Follow Me!” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the hometown of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the One Moses wrote about in the Law (and so did the prophets ): Jesus the son of Joseph, from Nazareth!” 46 “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Nathanael asked him. “Come and see,” Philip answered. John 1:40-46
 
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5. What causes people to follow Jesus?
 .
 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. John 6:44 (NASB)
 
 
For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. Romans 8:29-30 (NIV)
 
 .
 
6. So if people reject the gospel, have you wasted your time?
.
 
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, Isaiah 55:11 (NKJV)
 

Stamp rejected. 3d Stock Photo - 5972748

a. Sometimes what appears to be a rejection may not actually be so. Some people who initially reject the gospel begin to think about what they have heard and may eventually at a certain time will realize their need.
 
 
b. Sometimes it may take several different exposures to the truth before one can understand. How many times have we read the instructions and then have to re read them two more times before we get how that project is supposed to go together and what it is supposed to look like?
 
 
 I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. 1 Cor 3:6-7 (NLT)
 
 
c. In order for the justice of God to be manifested, and the guilty have no excuse, God has allowed all people to become exposed to the evidence of His existence and his revelation.
 
 
 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. Romans 1:20 (NIV)
 
 
The gospel is a two edged sword. It offers life to those who accept it, and it also gives judgment and death to those who reject it.
God sent prophet after prophet to the nation of Israel with warnings.
 
 
“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! Deut 30:19 (NLT)
 
Answer Questions
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49 “Rabbi,” Nathanael replied, “You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus responded to him, “Do you believe ⌊only⌋ because I told you I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” 51 Then He said, “I assure you: You will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
 
 
 .
7. One of the rules in salesmanship is “never spend the customer’s money for them”, never assume a customer will or will not buy your product. How would this apply to evangelism?
.
 
 Everyone is a potential sale. Never assume somebody cannot turn to God.
 
 
antony flew yesterday
Anthony Flew, one of the world’s most outspoken advocates of atheism, who had written many books attacking the belief in God. Shocks the world of atheism by writing his new book: “There Is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind,” published in 2007, at the age of 81.  After studying new advances in DNA he realized that Darwinian evolution could never account for the complexity and information in the DNA code. It must come from an intelligent mind, it could not happen by random chance.
 
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8. What is our responsibility in this presenting the truth of God to others?
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Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Tim 2:15 (KJV)
 
 
Have you done your homework? Have you made the time to come to bible studies? Have you memorized enough scriptures to be able to show a person who wants to know Christ, how to get there?
 
 
and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: 1 Peter 3:15 (KJV)
 
 

Are you in a position to give a coherent explanation as to what you believe and why you believe it? The unbelieving world is intelligent and prepared to make you look foolish if you expect to depend on the old standard witnessing techniques of the past.
 
 
The post modern worldview of this present generation has no Christian context, everything is relative, there are no moral absolutes and 2+2 can equal 5 if they feel like it should.
 
 
This worldview is logically bankrupt and provides no answers to life’s 3 great questions. Where did I come from, what is my purpose for being here, and what is going to happen to me? They are desperately searching and the hunger for spirituality is increasing. We just have to be ready to lead them to the truth.
 
 
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6 (KJV)
 
 

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September 14, 2014

Daniel Chapter 1

Filed under: Bible,Book of Daniel,Theology — augustinehippo1 @ 4:45 pm

1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.

1. Who were Jehoiakim and Nebuchadnezzar?

Jehoiakim ( His name means “Yahweh raises up,” but the LORD did not raise him up at all – Pharaoh did.) was Josiah’s second son and the first king installed by an external world power, Egypt’s Pharaoh Necho. Josiah’s son, Jehoahaz, was selected by the people to reign after Josiah, but Necho had imposed a tax on Judah of nearly four tons of silver and 75 pounds of gold, which Jehoahaz refused to pay. Pharaoh Necho came up and took Jehoahaz from Jerusalem to Egypt and put him in prison, immediately ending his three-month reign. He died in prison.
Necho then put Josiah’s son, Eliakim, in power. As king over Judah, his name was changed to Jehoiakim, which means ‘he whom Jehovah has set up.’ Jehoiakim reigned over Judah 11 years, but his leadership was seriously flawed and fraught with difficulties because of his unbelief and unfaithfulness to the Lord. Jehoiakim was 25 years old and his first act as king of Judah was to lay the financial burden on his people to pay the Pharaoh.
Jehoiakim did much evil in the sight of the Lord, like so many others who had preceded him. God sent the prophets Urijah and Jeremiah to confront Jehoiakim for his sins and to warn him. Both prophets prophesied against Jerusalem and Judah, but when Jehoiakim and his leadership heard Urijah’s words, the king planned to have him executed. Urijah heard about it, and escaped to Egypt. Jehoiakim sent men to Egypt, and they brought Urijah back from Egypt to face Jehoiakim, who killed him with the sword and cast his dead body into the graves of the common people. (Jeremiah 26:20-23)
Nebuchadnezzar II, (His name means “O (god) Nabu, protect my son!”) sometimes alternately spelled Nebuchadrezzar, was king of Babylonia from approximately 605 B.C. until approximately 562 B.C. He is considered the greatest king of the Babylonian empire and is credited with the construction of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar is mentioned by name around 90 times in the Bible, in both the historical and prophetic literature of the Hebrew Scriptures. Nebuchadnezzar receives the most attention in the book of Daniel, appearing as the main character, beside Daniel, in chapters 1-4.
In biblical history, Nebuchadnezzar is most famous for the conquering of Judah and the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem in 586 B.C. Judah had become a tribute state to Babylon in 605 B.C., but rebelled in 597 B.C. during the reign of Jehoiachin and then again in 588 B.C. during the reign of Zedekiah. Tired of the rebellions, and seeing that Judah had not learned its lesson when he invaded, conquered, and deported Judah in 597, Nebuchadnezzar and his general, Nebuzaradan, proceeded to completely destroy the temple and most of Jerusalem, deporting most of the remaining residents to Babylon. In this, Nebuchadnezzar served as God’s instrument of judgment on Judah for its idolatry, unfaithfulness, and disobedience (Jeremiah 25:9). gotquestions.org
In 605 B.C. Prince Nebuchadnezzar led the Babylonian army of his father Nabopolassar against the allied forces of Assyria and Egypt. He defeated them at Carchemish near the top of the Fertile Crescent. This victory gave Babylon supremacy in the ancient Near East. With Babylon’s victory, Egypt’s vassals, including Judah, passed under Babylonian control. Shortly thereafter that same year Nabopolassar died, and Nebuchadnezzar succeeded him as king. Nebuchadnezzar then moved south and invaded Judah, also in 605 B.C.Nebuchadnezzar returned Jehoiakim to Jerusalem and his throne, but treated him as a subordinate. Not long after, Jeremiah had Baruch read his prophecies in the court of the temple. Hearing of this, Jeroiakim had them also read in the royal palace in his presence. He took the scroll from Baruch, cut it in pieces and threw it into the fire. When Jeremiah heard about this, God told him to write another scroll, with some additional words, foretelling Jehoiakim’s grisly death.


After three years of subjection to Babylon, Jehoiakim attempted to make Judah independent. Nebuchadnezzar sent raiding bands of Chaldeans, Syrians and Ammonites to punish this rebellion. Jehoiakim’s own people apparently killed him, and threw his body over the wall to satisfy Babylon, fulfilling the words that Jeremiah had prophesied. Therefore thus says the Lord concerning Jehoiakim king of Judah:“He shall have no one to sit on the throne of David, and his dead body shall be cast out to the heat of the day and the frost of the night. I will punish him, his family, and his servants for their iniquity. He shall be buried with the burial of a donkey, dragged and cast out beyond the gates of Jerusalem.”
 
Jehoiakim’s 18-year-old son took the position of king in Judah, and time was quickly running out for what little was remaining of what once was the stronghold of Zion, God’s dwelling place. (2 Kings 23:34-37; 24:1-6; 2 Chronicles 36:4-8; Jeremiah 19:4-5; 22:13, 14, 18, 19; Daniel 1:1, 2) . sharefaith.com
 
2 And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the articles of the house of God, which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the articles into the treasure house of his god.
 
2. Why does it say God gave Jehoiakim into Nebuchdnezzar’s hand?
Daniel wrote that the Lord was responsible for Nebuchadnezzar’s success in defeating Jehoiakim. He viewed God as sovereignly controlling the past affairs of His chosen people (cf. Eph. 1:4). As the book unfolds, this appreciation for God’s sovereignty continues as Daniel described God’s future dealings with the Jews and the Gentiles. CN
God’s control of history is a recurrent theme in Daniel. In the ancient world every army fought under the banner/name of their god. Success in battle showed the supremacy of one god over another. However, the Bible clearly asserts that it was because of Israel’s and Judah’s sins and rebellion against YHWH that YHWH allowed, yes even engineered, the invasion of the promised land. Dr. Bob Utley
Ephesians 1:4 (NASB)  just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.


Psalm 2:1-4 (ESV)   Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 2
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORDand against his Anointed, saying, 3  “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” 4  He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.


Isaiah 10:5-6 (ESV)  Ah, Assyria, the rod of my anger; the staff in their hands is my fury! 6 Against a godless nation I send him, and against the people of my wrath I command him, to take spoil and seize plunder, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets.


The Book of Daniel emphasizes the sovereignty of God in the affairs of nations. Jerusalem did not fall merely because Nebuchadnezzar was strong, but because God had judged the people of Judah for their disobedience and idolatry. NNIBC
Nebuchadnezzar may have thought he was solely responsible for his conquest (Hab 1:11); but, in reality, God’s providential dealings with His wayward children, the Jews, was simply being carried out by this great leader. God had already promised judgment to come for Judah through Huldah the prophetess (II Chr 34:22–28) and many others. Micah remarkably predicted Judah’s captivity in Babylon while Babylon was still a small power (Mic 4:10) over one hundred years before the event took place. Jeremiah had also predicted this calamity (Jer 25:11), as had his contemporary, Habakkuk (Hab 1:5–11) KJVBC
Here we find the fulfillment of what God had previously declared (through Isaiah, Jeremiah, and other prophets) would soon take place. For years Jehovah had been sending prophets to the backsliding kings of Judah, warning them that the day of His patience had almost run out. Even though Israel had been His chosen people, because of their sin He was going to give them over to the power of their enemies, and the land of Palestine was to lie desolate. Singularly enough, God connects this with their failure to keep the sabbatical year.
He had told them when they came into the land that every seventh year must be His. For 490 years they had not kept one sabbatical year. They doubtless thought they would do better by tilling the land annually and that they would be richer as a result of following their own way. God had told them that if they gave every seventh year to Him they would have abundance in the sixth year to last them until harvest in the eighth year (Leviticus 25). They evidently did not believe Him and thought to better themselves by their own efforts. Thus, through covetousness-a sin that is eating away at many of God’s professed people today-the word of the Lord was ignored and His commandment broken.
For 490 years God seemed to be indifferent to this disobedience on their part. He appeared to wink at their sin, but He had taken account of it all. When they thought His law was dead, He sent Jeremiah to tell them that now they must go down to Babylon as captives for seventy years, while the land kept sabbath! They imagined they had cheated God out of seventy years, but He squared the account by giving them into the power of Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Chaldeans, who carried them away to the land of Shinar. They remained there until the seventy years had expired, while the lost sabbaths were being made up.
But there was a second and greater reason why God chose to give His heritage over to the power of the Chaldeans. For centuries idolatry had been gaining ground among the Israelites. They had turned away from the living and true God to serve the false gods of the heathen. Babylon was the home of idolatry, so the Jews were sent there so they might learn to loathe the idols they had loved. And we find the lesson was well impressed. Ever since the captivity the Jewish nation, whatever its other sins, has been free from this great evil. Unhappily they are like an empty, swept house, from which the evil spirit of idolatry has been driven. But they refused Messiah when He came in lowly grace, so in the near future a host of wicked spirits will enter the empty house, and the Jews, except a preserved and delivered remnant, will own and worship the “man of sin.” IC
Like so many conquerors the Babylonian King thinks the victory over Judah is due to his superior forces and military skill. Not realizing that he is just pawn in the hand of God Almighty. As a result of the rebellion and evil of God’s own chosen people The LORD is going to use the Babylonians to “spank” them.
 
3. What is ironic about these temple vessels?
He took some royal and noble captives to Babylon, including Daniel, plus some of the vessels from Solomon’s temple. This was the first of Judah’s three deportations in which the Babylonians took groups of Judahites to Babylon. The king of Judah at that time was Jehoiakim. CN
This all goes back to the pride and arrogance of the Hezekiah who ruled as king of Judah over 100 years before, as he showed off his treasures and the temple vessels to the Babylonians. Not a wise move which came back to bite the Jews.
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Isaiah 39:1-8 (NKJV)   At that time Merodach-Baladan the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present to Hezekiah, for he heard that he had been sick and had recovered. 2  And Hezekiah was pleased with them, and showed them the house of his treasures–the silver and gold, the spices and precious ointment, and all his armory–all that was found among his treasures. There was nothing in his house or in all his dominion that Hezekiah did not show them. 3  Then Isaiah the prophet went to King Hezekiah, and said to him, “What did these men say, and from where did they come to you?” So Hezekiah said, “They came to me from a far country, from Babylon.” 4  And he said, “What have they seen in your house?” So Hezekiah answered, “They have seen all that is in my house; there is nothing among my treasures that I have not shown them.” 5  Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of theLORD of hosts: 6  ‘Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and what your fathers have accumulated until this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left,’ says the LORD.   ‘And they shall take away some of your sons who will descend from you, whom you will beget; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.’ ” 8  So Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the LORD which you have spoken is good!” For he said, “At least there will be peace and truth in my days.”
Carrying off the vessels from a conquered people’s temple was a way that ancient Near Eastern kings expressed their victorious sovereignty over that nation, particularly its gods. Therefore Daniel began this book by reminding his readers that it was not only Israel’s king who suffered defeat at Nebuchadnezzar’s hands, but also Yahweh had experienced humiliation. He then proceeded to vindicate Yahweh with all that follows. CN
3 Then the king instructed Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs, to bring some of the children of Israel and some of the king’s descendants and some of the nobles, 4 young men in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans.
 
4. Who were these people and why would the king waste time with a bunch of captives?
He took some royal and noble captives to Babylon, including Daniel, plus some of the vessels from Solomon’s temple. This was the first of Judah’s three deportations in which the Babylonians took groups of Judahites to Babylon. The king of Judah at that time was Jehoiakim. CN
Nebuchadnezzar always took for himself the cream of crop of the captives from any nation. I think they were given tests to determine their IQ’s, and those selected were trained to be wise men to advise the king of Babylon. JVM
Nebuchadnezzar brought captives from many conquered lands to train them for service in his government. He was accustomed to selecting the best for such training, as the text indicates. These young men were the best sons of the Hebrew nation. They would be taught the voluminous learning of the Chaldeans, as well as their language. To stand in the king’s palace has to do with service, not just an easy life at court. KJVBC
Qualifications for Jews to be trained in affairs of state included being: 1) physically free from bodily defects or handicap and handsome, i.e., a pleasing appearance in the public eye; 2)mentally sharp; and 3) socially poised and polished for representing the leadership. The ages of the trainees was most likely 14–17. MSBN
 
Nebuchadnezzar’s enlightened policy was to employ the best minds in his kingdom in government service regardless of their national or ethnic origin. We do not know how many other Jews and Gentiles were the classmates of Daniel and his three friends. However, they were evidently the only ones who expressed a desire to observe the Jewish dietary laws (Exod. 34:15; Lev. 11; Deut. 14; cf. Deut. 8:3; Prov. 20:1).
 
“In selecting these youths for education in the king’s court in Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar was accomplishing several objectives. Those carried away captive could well serve as hostages to help keep the royal family of the kingdom of Judah in line. Their presence in the king’s court also would be a pleasant reminder to the Babylonian king of his conquest and success in battle. Further, their careful training and preparation to be his servants might serve Nebuchadnezzar well in later administration of Jewish affairs.” CN


Nebuchadnezzar’s empire was rapidly expanding. He needed men of great ability to fill positions of power and responsibility in his administration. He instituted a plan which would identify the most gifted and skillful Hebrew captives available and prepare them for positions of responsibility. Daniel and his Hebrew peers were the “cream of the crop” in Judea. Nebuchadnezzar knew this well. This, in fact, is why these young men were taken captive to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar set about a carefully planned course of education.
Ashpenaz, placed in charge of this training project, was to select the finest and most qualified candidates from among the Hebrew captives. Those selected had to be physically and mentally flawless, as well as highly trained and proficient in a broad range of knowledge and skills. They were to be the most promising candidates for court service that could be found.
These men would require further education, for which the king made provision. I do not understand from our text that the king was attempting to brainwash the Hebrew captives. Those selected were already highly trained and knowledgeable. Their schooling had already been virtually completed before their captivity. What they did need, in order to serve in the court of the king of Babylon, was to speak, to read and to write in Aramaic, the language of that land. They needed language school. As I perceive verse 4, this is precisely of what their education was to consist. No doubt the study of Chaldean literature would involve the religion and culture of Babylon, but the principle purpose of their schooling was not to tempt these youths to forsake their culture or religion as much as it was to equip them to serve in the administration of a Babylonian king.
Those who find brainwashing seem to read too much into the text and do not take the text’s words literally enough. They also fail to understand the mindset of the polytheist, the person who believes in many gods. The polytheist is not troubled or offended that someone may believe in gods other than his own. In fact, the polytheist is often more than willing to consider adding the gods of others to his own gods. The only thing which greatly offends the polytheist is exclusionism, believing their God is the only God. We should not be surprised that the sailors on board that sinking ship with Jonah, urged him to call out to his own gods, even though not their own:
“Get up, call on your god. Perhaps your god will be concerned about us so that we will not perish”(Jonah 1:6).
The Assyrians sought to strip the Israelites of the northern kingdom (and the others whom they captured) of their religion and culture. The Babylonians were content to allow their captives to worship their gods and practice their religion, so long as it did not challenge the religion at Babylon. Later on, the Persian king Cyrus would go so far as to assist the Jews in reestablishing their religion, even to rebuilding the temple.
I believe that Nebuchadnezzar operated his empire on the premise that the broadest possible representation of skills, cultures, and religions strengthened his rule rather than weakened it. Diversity was not a liability to him, but an asset. This may be why there are so many types of wise men (magicians, conjurers, sorcerers, and Chaldeans—see Daniel 2:2) in the service of Nebuchadnezzar. RD
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5 And the king appointed for them a daily provision of the king’s delicacies and of the wine which he drank, and three years of training for them, so that at the end of that time they might serve before the king.
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5. Why should they get to eat like kings?
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Food and dietary laws very very important to the Hebrews. If the captives could be persuaded to break these food stipulations it would be one step in the process of deprogramming  and assimilating them into Babylonian thinking and culture. This “training” was well thought out and orchestrated.
Tablets listing the provisions allotted to the exiled King Jehoiachin (2 Kg 25:30; Jr 52:34) have been uncovered in Babylon and corroborate Daniel’s testimony that captives were assigned royal rations. The Babylonian training period of three years was apparently similar to that of the Persians. Plato wrote that Persian youths began their education when 14 (Alcibiades 1. 121), and Xenophon testified that they finished when 16 or 17 (Cyropaedia 1. 2. 8). According to the Persian Avesta, a Zoroastrian scripture, a student trained with a religious teacher for three years. ASB
Only one thing is understood as defiling in Daniel 1—the eating of the food from the king’s table. We are not told exactly why Daniel considered this food defiling only that he did consider it defiling, with no doubt in his mind. If a Babylonian job, a Babylonian name, and a Babylonian education were not defiling, a Babylonian beefsteak was.
Two reasons seem most likely for Daniel’s sensitivity to defilement. First, this king would not hesitate to serve foods identified as “unclean” by the Law of Moses (see Leviticus 11). Secondly, the food and wine served at Nebuchadnezzar’s table may have been associated with the worship of heathen gods, similar to the problem described in 1 Corinthians 8-10. In either instance, or perhaps in both, Daniel saw defilement as a danger to be actively avoided.
A less sensitive Hebrew might have acknowledged the defilement of the food from the king’s table but excused its consumption as inevitable. Indeed, he might have cited scripture to prove that defilement was a part of God’s plan. Ezekiel, a contemporary of Daniel, spoke of the defilement which the Jews would experience in Babylon due to eating unclean foods:
“And your food which you eat shall be twenty shekels a day by weight; you shall eat it from time to time … And you shall eat it as a barley cake, having baked it in their sight over human dung.” Then the Lord said, “Thus shall the sons of Israel eat their bread unclean among the nations where I shall banish them.” But I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I have never been defiled; for from my youth until now I have never eaten what died of itself or was torn by beasts, nor has any unclean meat ever entered my mouth.” Then He said to me, “See, I shall give you cow’s dung in place of human dung over which you will prepare your bread” (Ezekiel 4:10, 12-15).
No doubt Daniel understood that eating unclean food was a part of the divine judgment of Judah. Nevertheless, he purposed in his heart that, if at all possible, he would not defile himself by eating such food.
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6 Now from among those of the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. 7 To them the chief of the eunuchs gave names: he gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abed-Nego.
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6. Why change their names?
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Nebuchadnezzar sought to assimilate the exiles into Babylonian culture by obliterating their religious and cultural identity and creating dependence upon the royal court. For this reason, the exiles were given names linked with Babylonian deities in place of Israelite names linked with their God. Daniel (“God is my Judge”),Hananiah (“Yahweh is gracious”), Mishael (“Who is what God is?”), and Azariah (“Yahweh is a helper”) became names that invoked the help of the Babylonian gods Marduk, Bel, and Nebo: Belteshazzar(“O Lady [wife of the god Bel], protect the king!”), Shadrach (“I am very fearful [of God]” or “command of Aku [the moon god]”),Meshach (“I am of little account” or “Who is like Aku?”), andAbednego (“servant of the shining one [Nebo]”). They were schooled in the language and mythological literature of the Babylonians, and their food was assigned from the king’s table, reminding them constantly of the source of their daily bread. ESVN
 
The practice of changing names was a way to express sovereign control over others. These new names would have also encouraged these youths to think of themselves as part of the culture in which they were living rather than the culture from which they had come. CN
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8 But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.
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7. It seems that the young Hebrew boys were resigned to the idea of assimilation into Babylonian culture, why make a big deal about food?
Proverbs 23:7 (NKJV)  For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. “Eat and drink!” he says to you,But his heart is not with you.
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Daniel purposed in his heart” (v. 8)—it all began in the heart of Daniel. He was not a papier–mâche; he had a heart, and his convictions came from his heart. That should be our experience also. We are captives in this world in which we live; gravitation holds all of us by the seat of our pants, and we cannot jump off this earth. The Lord Jesus said that we are in the world, but not of the world. And He said, “… Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matt. 6:24). However, we cannot serve God by following a set of rules; we must have a purpose in our hearts. Jesus said that it was out of the heart that the issues of life proceed; the things which we put into our bodies are not the most important. Daniel purposed in his heart that he would obey God’s law given to God’s people Israel—this was to be his testimony. JVM
Daniel and his friends drew a line in the sand.  Being smart as well as practical they knew they would have to give the Babylonians a certain amount of cooperation, but they would not allow themselves to lose the essence  of their Jewish identity.
Daniel and his friends avoided the luxurious diet of the king’s table as a way of protecting themselves from being ensnared by the temptations of the Babylonian culture. They used their distinctive diet as a way of retaining their distinctive identity as Jewish exiles and avoiding complete assimilation into Babylonian culture (which was the king’s goal with these conquered subjects). With this restricted diet they continually reminded themselves, in this time of testing, that they were the people of God in a foreign land and that they were dependent for their food, indeed for their very lives, upon God, their Creator, not King Nebuchadnezzar. ESVN
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9 Now God had brought Daniel into the favor and goodwill of the chief of the eunuchs. 10 And the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who has appointed your food and drink. For why should he see your faces looking worse than the young men who are your age? Then you would endanger my head before the king.” 11 So Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, 12 “Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then let our appearance be examined before you, and the appearance of the young men who eat the portion of the king’s delicacies; and as you see fit, so deal with your servants.” 14 So he consented with them in this matter, and tested them ten days. 15 And at the end of ten days their features appeared better and fatter in flesh than all the young men who ate the portion of the king’s delicacies.
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8. How was God working in this incident?
Now, you see, Daniel is already a favorite, and that is no accident. God was working on Daniel’s behalf, even as He worked in the life of Joseph down in the land of Egypt.
The prince of the eunuchs did not want to force the diet upon them, but he was really on a hot seat. He was caught between a rock and a hard place. He liked Daniel, but what was he to do? JVM
 
God honored Daniel’s trust and allegiance by sovereignly working favorably for him among the heathen leaders. In this instance, it prevented persecution and led to respect, whereas later on God permitted opposition against Daniel which also elevated him. One way or another, God honors those who honor Him. MSBN
 
Under normal circumstances a 10 day change in diet would not make a huge noticeable difference in the appearance of these kids, but it would appear that God supernaturally intervened to cause a dramatic transformation.
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16 Thus the steward took away their portion of delicacies and the wine that they were to drink, and gave them vegetables. 17 As for these four young men, God gave them knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. 18 Now at the end of the days, when the king had said that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. 19 Then the king interviewed them, and among them all none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; therefore they served before the king. 20 And in all matters of wisdom and understanding about which the king examined them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm. 21 Thus Daniel continued until the first year of King Cyrus.
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9. What lesson can we take away from this story?
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At the end of their three-year curriculum, the four faithful friends received a final examination that included an oral testing by the king himself. They passed at the head of their class. They were probably close to 20 years old at this time. Nebuchadnezzar proceeded to give them positions of significant government responsibility, which their education had equipped them for. In these positions they proved far superior to any of the other officials. CN
God was faithful in a seemingly impossible situation and caused a blessed the faithfulness of those who were faithful to him.
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Matthew 25:20-21 (NKJV)  So he who had received five talents came
and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’ 21  His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’
 
           ESVN………….ESV Study Bible Notes
·         MSBN…….MacArthur NASB Study Notes                  
·         NIVSN…..NIV Study Notes. 
·         JVM ……………..J Vernon McGee,
·         ACC ……………. Adam Clarke’s Commentary
·         BN ……………..Barnes Notes
·         WBC…………….   Wycliffe Bible Commentary
·         CN …… …………..Constables Notes 
·         IC………………….Ironside Commentary
·         NET……………….Net Bible Study Notes.
·         JFB…………..Jamieson  Fausset  Brown Commentary
·         VWS……………..Vincent Word Studies
·         CMM………….Commentary on Matthew and Mark
·         BDB………….. Barclay’s Daily Study Bible (NT)
·         Darby………..John Darby’s Synopsis of the OT and NT
·         Johnson………Johnson’s Notes on the New Testament.
·         NTCMM…………..The New Testament Commentary:  Matthew and Mark.
·         EHS………………….Expositions of the Holy Scriptures
·         CPP…………………The Complete Pulpit Commentary
·         SBC…………………Sermon Bible Commentary
·         K&D……………….Keil and Deilitzsch Commentary on the OT
·         EBC…………………Expositors Bible Commentary
·         CBSC……………….Cambridge Bible for Schools and College
·         GC……………………Guzik Commentary
·         RD……………………. Robert  Deffinbaugh 
          ASB………………………….Apologetics Study Bible
          BSBN…………………Blackaby Study Bible Notes. 
 


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The above post may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It is being made available in an effort to advance the understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, social justice, for the purpose of historical debate, and to advance the understanding of Christian conservative issues.  It is believed that this constitutes a ”fair use” of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the Copyright Law. In accordance with the title 17 U.S. C. section 107, the material in this post is shown without profit to those who have expressed an interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.


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