Be Humble, Resist Satan, Remain Steadfast

We’re looking at 1 Peter 5:5-11 today, and I ask you: Is verse 5 just for “you younger people” and you alone are told to “submit yourselves to your elders”? I don’t think so!

Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” ~ 1 Peter 5:5

Notice he follows up with “yes, all of you” and instructs us to be submissive to each other. From David Guzik: “Humility is demonstrated by submission. It is the ability to cheerfully put away our own agenda for God’s, even if God’s agenda is expressed through another person.”

The good Lord granted me a little reminder lesson in humility and submissiveness this morning. I don’t always learn these things easily!

I won’t offer details, but I’ll tell you this: I could clearly see how God was using the situation for His glory, yet I still felt I deserved something out of it for my contribution. Then I opened my Sunday school notes and discovered I’m teaching on this very verse, and I felt that little ‘nudge’ of correction from the Holy Spirit. God is amazing!

This verse tells us that “humility is demonstrated (acted out in our lives so others can see) by submission”. This morning I had to demonstrate humility by setting aside my own pride. I had to submit my own will and sense of pride to God’s will.

For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.
~ Romans 12:3

With all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love.
~ Ephesians 4:2

Guzik even suggests we are called to submit cheerfully! I certainly wasn’t happy or upbeat about my submission this morning. As a matter of fact, I was just grumbling to my wife about the situation!

The one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
~ Romans 12:8

Remember that God gives “grace to the humble”. That means the humility comes first! What follows is grace. I didn’t begin the process of submission this morning with a great attitude. But as I continued to bend my will to His, God changed my heart. I allowed myself to be humble about my circumstance, and God used that humility. He’s given me a spirit of grace as a result.

“Grace” according to Google is “the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings”. I love grace, and I want more of it! I need to be humble. Again, and again, and again, and again.

I’ve known many employees over the years that struggle with this issue – Christians and non-Christians alike. In the working world, we are wired to want credit for what we’ve done! Our pay and compensation is often tied to our accomplishments. Much of the working world does not reward humility, submission to one another, and setting aside our pride. The same can be said of sports, or in school. The world tends to reward individual achievement. However, God doesn’t call us to look to the world for our prize.

In verses 6 and 7, the Bible tells us that when we humble ourselves, He will exalt us when He chooses to.

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
~ 1 Peter 5:6-7

Some examples from the Bible on humility:

Humbly seek forgiveness – Jacob humbled himself and sought forgiveness from his brother Esau for his sin in Genesis 33

But Esau said, “I have enough, my brother; keep what you have for yourself.”
Jacob said, “No, please, if I have found favor in your sight, then accept my present from my hand. For I have seen your face, which is like seeing the face of God, and you have accepted me.
Please accept my blessing that is brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough.” Thus he urged him, and he took it.
~ Genesis 33:9-11

Humbly accept help from others – Rahab helped the spies sent by Joshua in Joshua 2

And Joshua the son of Nun sent two men secretly from Shittim as spies, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” And they went and came into the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab and lodged there.
And it was told to the king of Jericho, “Behold, men of Israel have come here tonight to search out the land.”
Then the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who entered your house, for they have come to search out all the land.”
But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. And she said, “True, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from.
And when the gate was about to be closed at dark, the men went out. I do not know where the men went. Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them.”
But she had brought them up to the roof and hid them with the stalks of flax that she had laid in order on the roof.
~ Joshua 2:1-6

Humbly serve God and serve others – Anna continually served in the temple in Luke 2

And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day.
~ Luke 2:36-37

Do not boast unless boasting in the Lord-
Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.”
~ Jeremiah 9:23-24

God will exalt us when He deems it the right time. That time may not even be while we’re here on earth, it might happen in eternity! Verse 7 then says “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you”. When I am frustrated, like I was this morning in my moment of pride, the Bible tells me to cast those cares on God because He loves me and cares about me.

Peter (a fisherman) is using a fisherman’s language here. I enjoy casting for fish with my rod. But I really enjoy it when the cast goes off beautifully and sails way out on the water. Peter and his coworkers would have been fishing with nets; so a cast for them looks different but it’s the same idea. Send your worries and frustrations way out there on the water! Toss them over the boat for God to handle for you. When we do that there is great relief to our mind, heart, and soul.

Peter also takes some time here in his letter to give a stern warning.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.
~ 1 Peter 5:8-9

Be sober and be vigilant – these are two warnings you would give to a soldier, a warrior, or a watchman on the wall. Be awake, be aware, watch out, don’t fall asleep! Know what your enemy looks like and how he works!

image

During World War 2, the United States issued to servicemen a special set of playing cards that included a silhouette of the enemy planes on them. This way, as they were playing cards in their downtime they could also be studying what the enemy planes looked like so they could identify them coming or as they were overhead.

Similarly, the Bible warns us to be sober, vigilant, and aware of our enemy Satan. We need to know what Satan’s tactics are and know how to identify when he is attacking us. Remember in the Garden of Eden how he attacked Eve? He didn’t look like a roaring lion then, he came in smooth as a serpent. He used trickery on Eve just like he uses on us today!

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”
And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'”
But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.
For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.
~ Genesis 3:1-6

Satan lied to Eve, and she believed him. He told her that she would not die. The truth is, she did eventually die didn’t she? She had a life in the Garden that God had created for her, and death didn’t exist then. Satan hates God and since each of us were made in God’s image, Satan hates you and me.

While Satan may act like a roaring lion, his greatest method is often simply convincing us to sin. As a result of his lies to us, we may disobey God, like Eve did. We might lie, cheat, or steal. We might doubt God’s word like Eve did.

So, how do we learn what to watch out for? By reading the Bible! God gave us His word to instruct us and to show His love for us. He also gave us the Bible to warn us and to keep us on the right path.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
~ Psalm 119:105

Read God’s word every day and you will be amazed at what you learn! I recommend starting in the Book of Genesis, and just reading it all the way through to the end.

God tells us in verse 9 to “resist him, remain steadfast in the faith”. How do we do that? Read the Bible, pray, and go to church where we can learn from and serve other Christians. Hold onto that faith, and know that we are all in this battle together.

Again, God’s grace

But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.
To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
~ 1 Peter 5:10-11

God is “the God of all grace”. The Bible tells us that every good thing in life comes from the Lord.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
~ James 1:17

God, who has given us everything that is good in our lives and calls us to eternity with Him, also tells us we’re going to suffer for a while. But that suffering serves a purpose! It is to “perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you” and me. God could have chosen to leave us in the sinful and fallen state. Instead, because He loves us He chose to rescue us from this pit that Satan tricked us into!

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
~ John 3:16-17

Adversity, Trials, and Trouble (1 Peter 4)

The first letter of the Apostle Peter is so encouraging in times of trouble!

    12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you;
    13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.
    14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.
    15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters.
    16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.
    17 For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?
    18 Now “If the righteous one is scarcely saved, Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?”
    19 Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.
    ~ 1 Peter 4:12-19

In the first of two letters written by Peter, this disciple of Jesus addresses the subject of trials and suffering. In 8 simple verses, God writes directly to you and I about how we should receive trials in our life, why they come to us, and how we should respond.

    Verse 12-13 “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.”

God is saying “Don’t be shocked. It’s going to happen.” Keep in mind too that it’s not just you or me that is going through that horrible circumstance. There is almost nothing that we go through that is unique to you or I.

    What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.
    ~ Ecclesiastes 1:9

David Guzik: “Instead of thinking of trials (even fiery trials) as strange occurrences, we see them as ways to partake of Christ’s sufferings. And if we partake of His sufferings, we will also partake of His glory and joy. Peter once told Jesus to avoid the suffering of the cross.”

    And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.
    And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
    But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
    ~ Mark 8:31-33

“Once it seemed strange to the Apostle Peter that his Master should think of suffering. Now he thinks it strange that He could have imagined anything else.” (Meyer)

    Vs 14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.

God tells us in verse 14 that if we are insulted or reprimanded (reproached) because of our faith in Jesus, we are blessed! And while the world abuses the name of God (blasphemes) when the storms of life hit, we are called to praise Him even in the foul weather.

    Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. ~ Matthew 5:10

    Vs 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters.

“Suffering as an evildoer is deserved and brings shame to the name of Jesus. Peter recognizes that not all suffering that Christians experience is suffering in the name of Jesus.”
~ Guzik

We have all seen or heard about a Christian pastor that is popular or famous that has fallen because of his own sin. They get caught in their sin and suffer as a result. Peter warns us against that. Don’t let it happen!

    Vs 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.

The suffering of us as Christian believers is sometimes difficult to understand and we ask “why is this happening God?” or “why me?”

There are times when adversity is simply the Lord allowing difficult things in our life to smooth out our rough spots or to prompt us to change. In these times, perhaps He is teaching us patience, or to be more cautious, or to be more loving, or He is prompting us to learn to show kindness or generosity to others. There are many ways God uses adversity to challenge us to do things differently or to turn from sin.

    And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher.
    And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.
    ~ Isaiah 30:20-21

God cares way too much about you and I to leave us the way we are! I’m so thankful for that. I can picture Him standing behind me saying “This is the way, walk in it,” when I “turn to the right” or when I “turn to the left”.

At other times, God will allow adversity so that He can be glorified in us and through us. As difficult as they are, in these trials we must remember to glorify God in all things.

    To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power,
    so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
    ~ 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

When we are listening to the Holy Spirit by spending time in prayer and daily reading God’s word, He will speak to us. At times it’s very quiet, and it may simply be so that in that awfully difficult moment we choose to praise Him and glorify Him.

    But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
    For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
    ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
    Vs 17 For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?

Guzik: “Peter tells us that judgment begins at the house of God. God uses suffering as a judgment (in a positive, purifying sense) for Christians (the house of God) now. It is right for judgment to begin at the house of God.”

“There is equity in it; for Christians profess to be better than others, and so they ought to be. They say they are regenerate, so they ought to be regenerate. They say that they are a holy people, separated unto Christ; so they ought to be holy, and separate from sinners, as he was.” (Spurgeon)

Guzik: “Now is our time of fiery trial (1 Peter 4:12); the ungodly will have their fire later. The fire we endure now purifies us; the fire the ungodly will endure will punish them. Yet we always remember that there is never any punishment from God for us in our sufferings, only purification. For the Christian, the issue of punishment was settled once and for all at the cross, where Jesus endured all the punishment the Christian could ever face from God.

The same fire that consumes straw will purify gold. The fire is the same, but its purpose in application is different, and its effect is different upon the straw and the gold. Even so, Christians do suffer some of the same things the ungodly do, yet the purpose of God is different, and the effect is different.”

This “judgment” (the purifying trials) that we go through can be awful! There is no doubt. It’s an incredible comfort knowing that God is using them in our lives to change us from the inside out. Yet for the unbeliever that dies in unbelief, how much worse will it be for them? “What will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?”

As we glorify God in the midst of our suffering, the non-Christian will see that faith in us. They will recognize our faith as something that is supernatural. When we share our faith in Jesus with them, what a powerful testimony that is!

    Vs 18 Now “If the righteous one is scarcely saved, Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?”

My Bible footnotes say: “Scarcely saved does not mean that the righteous just barely receive salvation. “Scarcely” (Greek molis, “with difficulty”) means that the righteous are saved in the midst of suffering; their salvation is not easy and simple”.

And again Peter says in essence “if it’s that hard for the Christian, how much worse will it be for the non-Christian?”

    Vs 19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

Verse 19 really sums up the message of 1 Peter. Even in our suffering, we are called to love God and hold fast to faith. That can be so tough!

    Who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.
    ~ 1 Peter 2:23-24

This verse is talking about Jesus who suffered pain beyond our imagination, but still committed Himself to God the Father. He did that so “that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness”. He died so that we could live for Him!

I pray that I will forever and in all circumstances “entrust my soul to a faithful Creator while doing good”.

If you’ve not yet believed in Jesus as your Savior, let me tell you how simple it is. All you need to do is to admit that you and I each do wrong things (sin), and that Jesus died for your sin and for mine to take away that punishment, and that God raised Him from the dead so that we’ll live forever with Him.

    But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
    For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. ~ Romans 10:8-10

No one is too far gone down the path of sin. No one! Take a look for yourself and see what the Bible says:

    Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.
    ~ Isaiah 1:18

    Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?
    ~ Jeremiah 32:37

    For nothing is impossible with God.
    ~ Luke 1:37

    If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
    ~ 1 John 1:9

    Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
    ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17

All is takes is for you to believe it and say it with your mouth. Feel free to message me below if you’ve done that and you don’t know what the next step is.

Will the World Ever Get Better? Isaiah 25:1-12

    O LORD, You are my God. I will exalt You, I will praise Your name, For You have done wonderful things; Your counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.
    ~ Isaiah 25:1

I love knowing that my God knew His plans for me – plans formed of old, faithful and true (sure) – even before He created the world! God planned for each home we’ve bought/sold, every job I’ve taken, and everywhere we have moved.

But more importantly:
He knew I would be married to my wife Debbie.
God put every relationship in my life (and yours!) for a purpose.
Every friend, our children, my brothers, parents, cousins, in-laws, aunts, uncles, neighbors, and co-workers have each been put in my world so that God can use them to mold me and shape me (and them) into the person He wants.

Many of life’s struggles are found in our relationships aren’t they? When you stop and consider that God has a special purpose for that relationship in your life (and mine), it becomes a game-changer! Why are they in your life? What is God’s purpose in it? He put them there so that He may be glorified in you. Those relationships that are the hardest? In those are the times when He can be most glorified!

    But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
    For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
    ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Paul doesn’t tell us that he barely is able to drag himself through them by God’s grace. No. He says he is content in difficulty!

For the non-believer, you should know this: God has called you – yes you – into His kingdom. God has called each one of us. He also gave each of us a free will to choose, and I am so glad He did! As believers, the Lord also calls on us to walk together with fellow Christians on this journey.

    I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
    There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
    But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
    ~ Ephesians 4:1-7

Jesus offers each of us a precious gift of eternal life. God’s love for us is deeper that we can possibly imagine and He wants each of us to be with Him forever.

    So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. ~ Ephesians 3:17-19

He says right there in the Bible that His love surpasses knowledge. I’ve told my wife many many times that I love her more than she can imagine. Yet God’s love for me and for you is so much deeper than that.

    2 For You have made a city a ruin, A fortified city a ruin, A palace of foreigners to be a city no more; It will never be rebuilt.

There is no specific city given here, but it is a picture of the world and everything in it. In fact in the end of the days on earth, every city on earth will be destroyed. As we look around our planet today, it’s hard for us to imagine what that will look like. And yet, God destroyed the known world once before and said it would never happen again by water.

    For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water.
    But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
    But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
    The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
    But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. ~ 2 Peter 3:5-10

God wants each and every human on earth to come to Him and He is so “longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

    3 Therefore the strong people will glorify You; The city of the terrible nations will fear You.

At the end, every nation, tribe, and person – living and dead – will bow before the Lord.

    For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living.
    But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
    For it is written: “As I live, says the LORD, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God.”
    So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.
    ~ Romans 14:9-12

It is not ours to judge the other person, in fact God will be the judge of each. God doesn’t operate a democracy where we vote people in, or we receive a jury of our peers. God judges each of us based completely against His standard – perfection. Obviously we can’t possibly reach that standard. Yet, we will each “give account of himself to God” (Rom. 14:12)

    4 For You have been a strength to the poor, A strength to the needy in his distress, A refuge from the storm, A shade from the heat; For the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall.

The “poor” are all of us for we are all short of perfection.
Jesus overcame that poverty by dying for us on the cross. So He can be our “strength”.

The “needy” is you and I for we can’t possibly live up to God’s standard.
Jesus can be our “strength” if we accept the payment He made for us in His death.

The “storm” is God’s coming judgment on all the earth.
Jesus can be our “refuge”, or our place of shelter from the coming storm of judgment.

You can think of the “heat” in terms of the coming judgment of fire against the earth, and also as the eternity in hell that one faces without Jesus. Or you can think of the “heat” as the awful difficulties of the world and the daily battles we fight. Battles not only of difficulty, but the battle against our own sin that comes so naturally to us (that’s why it is called “sin nature).

The “blast of the terrible ones” is again the battle from the world. Once we accept Jesus as our Savior, that blast can become “as a storm against the wall”. He becomes our “refuge” and our “strength”. How awesome is that!

    5 You will reduce the noise of aliens, As heat in a dry place; As heat in the shadow of a cloud, The song of the terrible ones will be diminished.

The “noise of the aliens” is the taunting of the world. God will help us through that as it “will be diminished”.

    I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” ~ John 16:33

Take heart! God told us these things not to discourage us, but that we can have peace knowing that God is in control and has overcome the world.

    6 And in this mountain The LORD of hosts will make for all people A feast of choice pieces, A feast of wines on the lees, Of fat things full of marrow, Of well-refined wines on the lees.

From David Guzik’s notes:
“In this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all people a feast: In several places, the Bible speaks of what is often called the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Revelation 19:9 says, ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’

According to Isaiah 25:6, we might say that this great feast takes place on earth, not in heaven.
And what a feast it will be! A feast of choice pieces, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of well-refined wines on the lees. For the God’s people, this will be the “victory banquet” or the “awards banquet” when after the final battle is over!

Jesus is really looking forward to this banquet. He said to His disciples at the Last Supper, ‘I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom’ (Matthew 26:29). In this, Jesus spoke of His longing expectation for the day when He would take communion with His people at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.”

    7 And He will destroy on this mountain the surface of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations.
    8 He will swallow up death forever, And the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces; The rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth; For the LORD has spoken.

How many people don’t want to die? How many of us hate the sinful things that we do?

On this earth for all of it’s history – since the first sin in the Garden of Eden – there has hung the odor of death and sin. God will destroy/swallow that covering of death and sin in the end.

    And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.”
    ~ Revelation 1:17-18

Jesus holds the keys. Let me say that again: Jesus holds the keys to eternal death and hell. But as you’ll see in the next verse, He also holds the keys to eternal life and heaven!

    9 And it will be said in that day: “Behold, this is our God; We have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is the LORD; We have waited for Him; We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.”

There are so many awful things going on in this world. Let me tell you this: We have optimism in Jesus Christ. He is our hope. Our hope is not in this world, or our leaders or our government. Our hope is in Christ and in Christ alone.

    There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
    We love because he first loved us.
    ~ 1 John 4:18-19

God created each of us to love Him because He first loved us. In His love, we don’t need to fear. As the verse says, fear has to do with punishment. If we love Jesus and we know that He loves us, there is no need for fear. God’s love casts out the fear.

    10 For on this mountain the hand of the LORD will rest,
    And Moab shall be trampled down under Him,
    As straw is trampled down for the refuse heap.
    11 And He will spread out His hands in their midst
    As a swimmer reaches out to swim,
    And He will bring down their pride
    Together with the trickery of their hands.
    12 The fortress of the high fort of your walls He will bring down, lay low,
    And bring to the ground, down to the dust.

Verses 10-12 tell us that God will bring down the pride of the world. However, we have a God that we can trust. He is on the throne and holds our future. There is an incredible hope for each and every person on planet earth! God loves you and I so much, He doesn’t want us to suffer a life without His deep love and His boundless care for each one of us.

Luke 13:34 tells us that God loves us like a hen cares for her baby chicks. “How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings”. At our house we have had a mama hen brood some eggs and hatch chickens. It is such a beautiful picture of the way that God loves us and yearns to gather us together under His protection.

    Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
    Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
    ~ 1 Peter 1:3-5, 8-9

Jesus is the hope, the only hope. As a Christian, it is my role to share the Good News that God came to earth as a baby, Jesus Christ, born to die for each one of us. Look at how Isaiah opens the next chapter:

    1 In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: “We have a strong city; he sets up salvation as walls and bulwarks.
    2 Open the gates, that the righteous nation that keeps faith may enter in.
    3 You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
    4 Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock. ~ Isaiah 26:1-4

God and only God is our hope. So I say to you:
“Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.”

Set, Humble, Know, and Believe – Daniel 10

When I get stressed out by something dramatic going on in my life, I can’t eat as much food as I normally would. I tend to eat smaller portions and just lose some of my appetite. That appears to be what happens to Daniel here in verses 1-4 of Chapter 10.

    In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a message was revealed to Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar. The message was true, but the appointed time was long; and he understood the message, and had understanding of the vision.
    In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks.
    I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.
    ~ Daniel 10:1-3

Daniel doesn’t seem to be fasting, which would be eating no food at all. But it appears he’s eating smaller portions and less rich food. This fasting of sorts was Daniel’s act of “mourning for three weeks”, probably because of the recent trouble that the Jewish people were struggling with. At the end of this time of self-denial for Daniel, he has a vision. Chapter 10 is the first part of a three part vision that is relayed to us in Chapters 10, 11, and 12. (We’ll cover the other two chapters next week.)

    4 Now on the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, that is, the Tigris,
    5 I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, a certain man clothed in linen, whose waist was girded with gold of Uphaz!
    6 His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like torches of fire, his arms and feet like burnished bronze in color, and the sound of his words like the voice of a multitude.
    ~ Daniel 10:4-6

This description of a man clothed in linen that suddenly appears is strikingly similar to the vision of Jesus in Revelation 1:

    And in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters.
    ~ Revelation 1:13-15

However, it seems doubtful that this is Jesus since the Lord wouldn’t need the help of the angel Michael to come help him get out of a jam (in vs 13 below). It seems more likely that this is an angel who we see in the Bible as sometime “clothed in linen” and also reflecting the glory of God.

    7 And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, for the men who were with me did not see the vision; but a great terror fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves. ~ Daniel 10:7

Often, when God’s Holy Spirit is present men and women flee the scene. We see something very similar in Exodus when God speaks to the Israelites:

    Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.”
    ~ Exodus 20:18-19

It certainly happened here. The Bible tells us that the people Daniel was with didn’t even see the vision but nonetheless “great trembling fell upon them, and they fled to hide themselves”. When that happened in Exodus, Moses was left alone with God.

    I love what Moses tells the people in the following verse in Exodus:
    And Moses said to the people, “Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.”
    ~ Exodus 20:20

As Christian believers, we have a healthy respect for the awesome power of God that could be described as “the fear of the Lord”. God Almighty has the power to condemn my soul to hell for all eternity. I have a good healthy respectful fear of His awesomeness.

However, God does not desire that we remain in true “fear” of Him. Rather, we can accept the wonderful gift of forgiveness and salvation from Christ through His death for our sin. Once we do that, the perfect love he shows us casts that fear out. We no longer have to “fear” God in the same way that an unforgiven sinner does. Healthy respect for His awesome power? Yes! Fear of His wrath and condemnation? No.

    There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.
    ~ 1 John 4:18-19

So back in Exodus, Moses tells the people “God has come to test you…that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin”. Moses is saying be afraid of God Almighty so that fear may direct you to love and respect God.

    8 Therefore I was left alone when I saw this great vision, and no strength remained in me; for my vigor was turned to frailty in me, and I retained no strength.
    9 Yet I heard the sound of his words; and while I heard the sound of his words I was in a deep sleep on my face, with my face to the ground.
    ~ Daniel 10:8-9

This incredible vision left Daniel completely weakened and helpless to the point of being so exhausted that he collapsed on the ground in a deep sleep.

I remember a day when I was about 15 or 16 years old when some friends and I were asked to work down at our big downtown park for the Fourth of July celebration. We were hired at the last minute to just show up early on the Fourth and work until they sent us home. We got there about 7am and we worked with little to no breaks until close to midnight that day. My jobs that day were hauling garbage, running food back and forth, and for much of the day I was cooking hotdogs over a giant pit.

I don’t remember being so exhausted ever before in my life. It was the first time I’d worked such incredibly long and hard in a single day. At the end of the day I collapsed absolutely exhausted, immediately fell asleep, and I know I didn’t stir until the next morning.

I imagine Daniel feeling much the same way. Yet, then he is grabbed and picked up to a kneeling position on all fours and told to stand up straight and pay attention!

    10 Suddenly, a hand touched me, which made me tremble on my knees and on the palms of my hands.
    11 And he said to me, “O Daniel, man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you.” While he was speaking this word to me, I stood trembling.
    ~ Daniel 10:10-11

When an angel grabs you and pulls you up off the ground, you behave and listen!

    12 Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. ~ Daniel 10:12

There is so much to learn in verse 12!

Set your heart to understand
The angel tells Daniel that “from the first day that you set your heart to understand” your words were heard. The Bible tells us very explicitly that we are to focus on God and His word – the Bible. This is our instruction book! Our minds and hearts are to be SET to understand. Synonyms for ‘set’ are: ‘firm, confirmed, established, determined’. We are called to absolutely determine to understand the heart and the will of God!

    If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.
    Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.
    ~ Colossians 3:1-2

    Now set your heart and your soul to seek the LORD your God.
    ~ 1 Chronicles 22:19a

Humble Yourself Before God
The angel also told Daniel that he had set his heart “to humble yourself before your God”. Humility is not something that comes naturally to anybody I know. It is human nature to think of ourselves first. However, the Bible tells us we as humans have every reason to be humble before the awesome God that created us from the dust.

    He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?
    ~ Micah 6:8

    Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.
    ~ 1 Peter 5:6

Your Words Are Heard
One of the other lessons we learn in verse 12 is that God hears our prayers. We’ve talked about this in our study many times. God hears our prayers! We serve a God who created the entire universe out of nothing! He loves us so much! He wants us to call out to Him. A conversation with God can simply be like a conversation you have with anyone else.

We have raised four kids. In our home, we have two dogs, three cats, multiple chickens, and a single duck. I know by the clucking sound of the chickens in the morning that they want to be let out of their coop, or that they are hungry. By the whiny sound my dog makes, I know that she needs to be let outside. When our cats are grouchy, they yowl and complain and we hear it and understand. And my kids? I love my kids so much, and I ache for them to tell me when they have a need I can help with.

God loves us that much and so much more! Your words are heard.

    I love the LORD, because He has heard My voice and my supplications.
    Because He has inclined His ear to me, Therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live.
    ~ Psalm 116:1-2

I Have Come Because of Your Words (God Answers Prayer)
We studied this a little bit last week when Daniel was crying out to God and the angel came down in response to Daniel’s prayers. The angel told Daniel:

    At the beginning of your supplications the command went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved.
    ~ Daniel 9:23

We see a similar lesson here in Chapter 10 when this angel comes down in direct response to Daniel’s prayer. Now, let me be clear on this: God will not necessarily respond to you by sending you an angel that you can see and talk with. That didn’t keep me from asking for it when I was a kid though! However, what I’ve learned is to pray for God’s will to be done above all else. Sure, I make my own wishes known. I tell God how I’d like things to turn out. But I try to pray for God’s will first because His way is always best.

    13 “But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia.
    14 “Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come.”
    15 When he had spoken such words to me, I turned my face toward the ground and became speechless.
    16 And suddenly, one having the likeness of the sons of men touched my lips; then I opened my mouth and spoke, saying to him who stood before me, “My lord, because of the vision my sorrows have overwhelmed me, and I have retained no strength.
    17 “For how can this servant of my lord talk with you, my lord? As for me, no strength remains in me now, nor is any breath left in me.”
    18 Then again, the one having the likeness of a man touched me and strengthened me.
    19 And he said, “O man greatly beloved, fear not! Peace be to you; be strong, yes, be strong!” So when he spoke to me I was strengthened, and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.”
    20 Then he said, “Do you know why I have come to you? And now I must return to fight with the prince of Persia; and when I have gone forth, indeed the prince of Greece will come.
    21 “But I will tell you what is noted in the Scripture of Truth. No one upholds me against these, except Michael your prince.

Verses 13-21 describe this spiritual battle that has been going on – completely unseen by Daniel. It’s important for us to know and to remember that spiritual warfare is going on that we cannot see.

This angel has been battling demons, including one called the Prince of Persia, when the angel Michael came to his aid. Apparently the job given to this angel of heaven is to reveal the future of Israel to Daniel, and that is something that Satan doesn’t want known.

    For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
    ~ Ephesians 6:12

Ephesians 6 gives us incredible instruction on how to “put on our spiritual armor.” It starts with reading the Bible and prayer, and we should be doing both daily.

Set your heart on the Lord.
Humble yourself before Him in prayer.
Know that he hears your words.
Believe that He answers your prayers!

Daniel’s Beautiful Prayer of Confession – Daniel 9

Let’s set the stage: In chapter 9 of Daniel, we find Daniel reading the Bible book of Jeremiah. In the timeline of Daniel’s life, this happens after the events of Daniel 5 when the Babylonian kingdom (also known as the Chaldeans) is taken over by the Medo-Persian army.

    That very night Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans, was slain.
    And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old.
    ~ Daniel 5:30-31

So now we find Daniel in the first year of Darius’ reign, and he is reading the book of Jeremiah, and in reading, he comes across this passage in Jeremiah 25.

    ‘And this whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.
    Then it will come to pass, when seventy years are completed, that I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity,’ says the LORD; ‘and I will make it a perpetual desolation.
    So I will bring on that land all My words which I have pronounced against it, all that is written in this book, which Jeremiah has prophesied concerning all the nations.’ ”
    ~ Jeremiah 25:11-13

This passage of Jeremiah is a prophecy for the future of Israel and of Babylon. It predicts that Israel will serve Babylon for 70 years, and then Babylon will be destroyed.

    1 In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the lineage of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans—
    2 in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the LORD through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.
    ~ Daniel 9:1-2

Daniel reads the prophecy and understands it. This is a beautiful example for you and I today that the more we read God’s word, the better we understand it. When I first became a believer, I was about 13 years old. Mom bought me a children’s Bible, I think it was an NIV Bible (New International Version).

I think I remember asking where I should start reading and her response was “Anywhere.” So I opened it somewhere in the middle-ish and started reading in Ezekiel 1. This is the prophecy of the four cherubim with four different creatures’ faces, and the wheel within the wheel. This is a confusing passage if it’s your first time reading it, and completely confusing if you’ve never read the rest of the Bible. The more we read it, the more we understand it. That was true of Daniel and it’s true of us today.

    All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.
    ~ 2 Timothy 3:16

This may not be the first time Daniel has read this passage. Yet, Daniel now understands what the prophecy is saying, and it moves him to prayer.

    3 Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.
    4 And I prayed to the LORD my God, and made confession, and said, “O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments,
    5 “we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments. ~ Daniel 9:3-5

The Jews were taken out of (exiled) from Jerusalem and from the Promised Land because of their sin. God had given them a warning that they would be removed from Israel if they continued their sinful ways and did not repent and turn from sin. This should speak to us in our world today as well. God has called on each person and every nation to turn from sin, and turn to God.

    If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. ~ 2 Chronicles 7:14
    6 “Neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings and our princes, to our fathers and all the people of the land.
    7 “O Lord, righteousness belongs to You, but to us shame of face, as it is this day—to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those near and those far off in all the countries to which You have driven them, because of the unfaithfulness which they have committed against You.
    ~ Daniel 9:6-7

Daniel is repenting and praying on behalf of his whole nation. Is that what God asks us to do?

    Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
    1 Timothy 2:1-4

God wants us to pray “for all men, for kings and all who are in authority”. What does “all” mean?
“All” means “all”. Everyone. Every. One.

The Bible tells us “this is good and acceptable in the sight of God”, and that He “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Men and women get saved by the blood of Jesus when we pray! What an awesome responsibility we have then!

    8 “O Lord, to us belongs shame of face, to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, because we have sinned against You.
    ~ Daniel 9:8

We own the shame of our own sin. It’s ours.

    For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
    ~ Romans 3:23

However, God offers us hope!

    9 “To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him. ~ Daniel 9:9

God owns mercy and forgiveness. It is His to give even though we have sinned. How does He give us that mercy and forgiveness for our sin?

    For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.
    ~ 1 Timothy 2:5
    He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” ~ John 3:36

    10 “We have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets.
    11 “Yes, all Israel has transgressed Your law, and has departed so as not to obey Your voice; therefore the curse and the oath written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against Him.
    12 “And He has confirmed His words, which He spoke against us and against our judges who judged us, by bringing upon us a great disaster; for under the whole heaven such has never been done as what has been done to Jerusalem. ~ Daniel 9:10-12

Daniel says “we’re being punished like no one else has ever been punished. God did to us exactly what He said He would do.” You see, there are no other options for us beyond Jesus’ blood and sacrifice. God said there is one way to heaven, and that’s through Christ. “He who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” Those that do not believe and confess Jesus as Savior will not go to heaven, but will go to eternal punishment. What God says He will do, He will in fact do. When Daniel says “He has confirmed His words”, he means that God will do what He says.

It was 1984. I got my driver’s license shortly after my 16th birthday. I was so excited! When you get your license in our state, you have to take a course of driving lessons, then you have to take a written test, then you take an actual driving test before a state examiner to prove your skill. Through all of that, I learned the driving laws of our state. In Washington, it’s illegal to go through a stop light when it’s red. Imagine that, they want you to stop. I was out late one night about 11pm, one month after getting my license. I knew the law. Knowing the law didn’t seem to keep me from disobedience. I ran right through a red light with a police officer sitting at the corner watching me. I immediately received the punishment for my crime which was a $124 ticket.

Sometimes, God allows us to suffer the immediate and short-term consequences of our sin – like a $124 ticket was the consequence of my actions that night. However, God tends to offer us lots and lots of opportunity to repent from our sin before suffering the long-term punishment for our sin – an eternity in hell.

    The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
    ~ 2 Peter 3:9

God wants us in heaven with Him for eternity! How many chances do we get to turn from sin? It’s different for each person, and it’s up to God.

Almost every single verse in Daniel’s prayer confesses some sin of Israel starting with verse 5:
“We have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments.” You see, Israel didn’t spend much time reading and studying God’s word. For years, they had been “departing from” God’s “precepts” and “judgments”.

When we study God’s word as Daniel had been, we stay closer to God. We grow in our daily walk with Him. We begin to understand his heart and His will for us.

Imagine if, after you were born, you had the option of leaving your parents at the age of one and trying to figure out life on your own, no conversations with Mom or Dad. How far do you think you would get? Not very far I’ll bet! The Bible is God’s instruction book to us. When we read it and study it, we grow and learn. God teaches us!

    13 “As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us; yet we have not made our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquities and understand Your truth.
    14 “Therefore the LORD has kept the disaster in mind, and brought it upon us; for the LORD our God is righteous in all the works which He does, though we have not obeyed His voice.
    15 “And now, O Lord our God, who brought Your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and made Yourself a name, as it is this day—we have sinned, we have done wickedly!
    16 “O Lord, according to all Your righteousness, I pray, let Your anger and Your fury be turned away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain; because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Your people are a reproach to all those around us.
    17 “Now therefore, our God, hear the prayer of Your servant, and his supplications, and for the Lord’s sake cause Your face to shine on Your sanctuary, which is desolate.
    18 “O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our desolations, and the city which is called by Your name; for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies.
    19 “O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name.” ~ Daniel 9:13-19

We can go to God anytime to confess sin. As a matter of fact, God wants us to come to Him with our sin. He will forgive if we ask.

    If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
    ~ 1 John 1:9

    That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. ~ Romans 10:9

When you feel convicted in your heart for something you’ve done wrong, that is God’s Holy Spirit pressing upon you to confess it to The Lord!

    20 Now while I was speaking, praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the LORD my God for the holy mountain of my God,
    21 yes, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, reached me about the time of the evening offering.
    22 And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, “O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you skill to understand.
    23 “At the beginning of your supplications the command went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved; therefore consider the matter, and understand the vision:
    24 “Seventy weeks are determined For your people and for your holy city, To finish the transgression, To make an end of sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity, To bring in everlasting righteousness, To seal up vision and prophecy, And to anoint the Most Holy.
    25 “Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command To restore and build Jerusalem Until Messiah the Prince, There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; The street shall be built again, and the wall, Even in troublesome times.
    26 “And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; And the people of the prince who is to come Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, And till the end of the war desolations are determined.
    27 Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate.”
    ~ Daniel 9:20-27

Now the angel Gabriel comes back on the scene. Remember we saw him back in Daniel 8 when he arrived to interpret the vision for Daniel.

Gabriel explains that this 70 weeks is a prophecy not only for this period of the time of Daniel, but also for a period of time for the coming Messiah and the end of time.

    In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
    ~ John 14:2

Jesus is preparing our eternal home for us! Remember, on earth He was a carpenter by trade. 🙂

I love what verse 23 tells us:
“At the beginning of your supplications the command went out”. From the very moment your prayer (supplications) left your lips, God’s answer was on the way. Our God is a God who answers the prayers of His people! (Keep in mind that sometimes His answer is for us to wait. That doesn’t mean He is not answering your prayer.)

    Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.
    And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.
    ~ 1 John 5:14-15

Daniel’s Vision of the Ram and the Goat – Daniel 8

Daniel had a vision in the last chapter (ch. 7) while he was serving under the Babylonian king: “in the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon” according to 7:1.

Now we will see Daniel in his third year serving under King Belshazzar (two years later), and here he has another vision. We learned that God is King and Creator of the universe and that He knows the future because He holds the future.

    The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.
    ~ Psalm 33:11

God foretold the future in chapter 7, and what was prophesied then happened. Now we see in chapter 8 that again, God will tell Daniel what the future holds and the interpretation given by the angel is incredibly specific.

    1 In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared to me—to me, Daniel—after the one that appeared to me the first time.
    2 I saw in the vision, and it so happened while I was looking, that I was in Shushan, the citadel, which is in the province of Elam; and I saw in the vision that I was by the River Ulai.

So we have some facts:
– Third year of King Belshezzar’s reign,
– Daniel is in a fortress area called Susa (or Shushan)
– This is in the province (like a state) of Elam
– Standing on the bank of a canal or river called Ulai.

Babylon is still securely in power, but this vision will predict (or prophesy) the rise of the Greek Empire which at this time was not even a force.

    3 Then I lifted my eyes and saw, and there, standing beside the river, was a ram which had two horns, and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher one came up last.

This “ram” represents the Medo-Persia empire which rises up and overtakes Babylon. If you recall, we learned all about how that happened in Daniel Ch. 5. The rise of the Medo-Persia empire has been prophesied now three times – as bronze in the statue on Daniel 2, as a bear in Daniel 7 (remember that the bear had a hump on one side for the stronger of the two kingdoms?), and now we see them as a two-horned ram in Daniel 8.

“The ram is noted for the proportion of its two horns – one was higher than the other. This was an accurate prediction of the partnership between the Medes and the Persians, because the Persians were larger and stronger in the partnership. They also emerged after the Medes – the higher one came up last.”
(From sermon notes of David Guzik)

    4 I saw the ram pushing westward, northward, and southward, so that no animal could withstand him; nor was there any that could deliver from his hand, but he did according to his will and became great.

“It wasn’t a stretch to use a ram to represent the Medo-Persian Empire. ‘Ammianus Marcellinus, a fourth century historian, states that the Persian ruler bore the head of a ram as he stood at the head of his army.’ (Wood) ‘The ram was the national emblem of Persia, a ram being stamped on Persian coins as well as on the headdress of Persian emperors.’ (Strauss)”
(From the notes of David Guzik)

    5 And as I was considering, suddenly a male goat came from the west, across the surface of the whole earth, without touching the ground; and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes.

Now we see a goat “from the west” rise up against the ram. This goat represents the coming Greek Empire under Alexander the Great.

    6 Then he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had seen standing beside the river, and ran at him with furious power.
    7 And I saw him confronting the ram; he was moved with rage against him, attacked the ram, and broke his two horns. There was no power in the ram to withstand him, but he cast him down to the ground and trampled him; and there was no one that could deliver the ram from his hand.
    8 Therefore the male goat grew very great; but when he became strong, the large horn was broken, and in place of it four notable ones came up toward the four winds of heaven.

More great teaching from David Guzik:
The prophetic description of the male goat was proved to be accurate regarding the Greek Empire.
– The Greek Empire rose from the west of previous empires
– The Greek Empire rose with great speed (suddenly … without touching the ground)
– The Greek Empire had a notable ruler, Alexander the Great (a notable horn)
– The Greek Empire had a famous war with the Medo-Persian Empire (I saw him confronting the ram)
– The Greek Empire and the Medo-Persian Empire greatly hated each other (with furious power … moved with rage). Some of the greatest, fiercest battles of ancient history were fought between the Greeks and the Persians
– The Greek Empire conquered the Medo-Persian Empire (no one that could deliver the ram from his hand)
– The reign of the notable leader of the Greek Empire was suddenly cut short (the large horn was broken)
– After the end of Alexander the Great’s reign, the Greek Empire was divided among four rulers (in place of it four notable ones came up)
– The four rulers of the Greek Empire after Alexander ruled their own dominions, not the entire empire together (came up toward the four winds of heaven)

Alexander did not divide the empire among his four generals himself. His four leading generals divided it among themselves by force after his death.
– Cassander, ruling over Greece and its region
– Lysimachus, ruling over Asia Minor
– Seleucus, ruling over Syria and Israel’s land
– Ptolemy, ruling over Egypt

The male goat grew very great: The greatness of Alexander’s Empire was not only in its vast dominion, but also in its cultural power. Alexander the Great was determined to spread Greek civilization, culture, and language across every land he conquered.

As God guided history, He used Alexander’s passion to spread Greek culture to prepare the world for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Because of Alexander’s influence koine (common) Greek became the common language of the civilized world – and the language of the New Testament.

    For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
    ~ Romans 1:16

Because Greek culture and language became the common language for the known world at the time, the Gospel was spread easily among the nations. Additionally, the later conquest by Rome (which was predicted in Daniel chapters 2 and 7) created a world where travel and communication had increased dramatically. Rome is known for their incredible road system and for their enormously effective postal system.

By the time that Jesus was teaching, Rome had control over the known world. So one could travel fairly easily over a great road system to a incredibly broad area of the world. Once there, they could preach, teach, and plant a new church simply because everyone knew Greek. And to follow up, they could write letters in Greek and send them via the Roman postal couriers.

Romans 1:16 tells us that the Gospel of Christ is the “power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth”. It’s our job as disciples of Jesus to carry that message wherever and whenever He tells us to. We have the internet, email, social media, air travel, excellent ground travel, and almost every language is known. While it is true that there are still “unreached people groups”, there is absolutely no excuse for us to not be spreading the Good News.

Jesus Christ died for every single one of us. Now for kids, that’s harder to do right? You can’t easily go get your passport and jump on a plane to preach in other countries. But we can share Jesus right where we are.

I was on an airplane last week and I sat next to a guy from Montana. this man had just spent the last four days going to Seattle Mariners baseball games. He bragged to me about how much alcohol he drank with his buddies for those four days in Seattle. This man needs Jesus in his life and in his heart! If I don’t tell him he can be saved and go to heaven, who will? So what do you think I did?

Nothing. I did nothing. I should have told him all about how much God loves him, and how Jesus has changed my heart and my life! I did nothing.

    When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand.
    ~ Ezekial 3:18

God tells us in the Old Testament that if we see someone who is destined for hell and we don’t tell them about Jesus, it’s our fault!

    How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?
    ~ Romans 10:14

How can they hear if no one tells them? It is so easy to tell others about Jesus in today’s world. Even simply inviting someone to church with you is easy.

    9 Out of one of them came a little horn, which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the glorious land.
    10 It grew great, even to the host of heaven. And some of the host and some of the stars it threw down to the ground and trampled on them.
    11 It became great, even as great as the Prince of the host. And the regular burnt offering was taken away from him, and the place of his sanctuary was overthrown.
    12 And a host will be given over to it together with the regular burnt offering because of transgression, and it will throw truth to the ground, and it will act and prosper.
    13 Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to the one who spoke, “For how long is the vision concerning the regular burnt offering, the transgression that makes desolate, and the giving over of the sanctuary and host to be trampled underfoot?”
    14 And he said to me, “For 2,300 evenings and mornings. Then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state.”
    15 When I, Daniel, had seen the vision, I sought to understand it. And behold, there stood before me one having the appearance of a man.
    16 And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of the Ulai, and it called, “Gabriel, make this man understand the vision.”

So now the angel Gabriel is going to interpret this vision for Daniel. Where else do we see the angel Gabriel in the Bible? Right! It’s the same angel that visited Mary the mother of Jesus to tell her that Jesus would be born of her.

    17 So he came near where I stood. And when he came, I was frightened and fell on my face. But he said to me, “Understand, O son of man, that the vision is for the time of the end.”
    18 And when he had spoken to me, I fell into a deep sleep with my face to the ground. But he touched me and made me stand up.
    19 He said, “Behold, I will make known to you what shall be at the latter end of the indignation, for it refers to the appointed time of the end.
    20 As for the ram that you saw with the two horns, these are the kings of Media and Persia.
    21 And the goat is the king of Greece. And the great horn between his eyes is the first king.
    22 As for the horn that was broken, in place of which four others arose, four kingdoms shall arise from his nation, but not with his power.
    23 And at the latter end of their kingdom, when the transgressors have reached their limit, a king of bold face, one who understands riddles, shall arise.
    24 His power shall be great—but not by his own power; and he shall cause fearful destruction and shall succeed in what he does, and destroy mighty men and the people who are the saints.
    25 By his cunning he shall make deceit prosper under his hand, and in his own mind he shall become great. Without warning he shall destroy many. And he shall even rise up against the Prince of princes, and he shall be broken—but by no human hand.
    26 The vision of the evenings and the mornings that has been told is true, but seal up the vision, for it refers to many days from now.”
    27 And I, Daniel, was overcome and lay sick for some days. Then I rose and went about the king’s business, but I was appalled by the vision and did not understand it.

So this angel Gabriel explains the vision to Daniel. Sometime shortly after this vision, the Medo-Persians do capture Babylon. Then sometime after that, the Greeks do take over the Medo-Persian empire.

Only God, in his power and might, knows our future. He offers us eternity with Him through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus. Jesus died for my sins so that I can live with God forever.

    And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.
    He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” ~ Mark 16:15-16

    Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. ~ Matthew 28:19

We have Good News to share. It’s easy to share this Good News. Let’s just do what God has told us to do.

(To read David Guzik’s complete teaching on Daniel 8, go to http://www.enduringword.com/commentaries/2708.htm )

Daniel’s Vision of the Four Beasts – Daniel 7

Who remembers how many kings Daniel has now served under? Can you name them?

King Nebuchadnezzar, King Belshazzar, and King Darius. One of them had a dream in Daniel 2 about future kingdoms. Do you remember who? Right, King Nebuchadnezzar.

In that dream, the King saw a great statue that was made up of a head of gold, it’s chest and arms were silver, it’s middle and thighs were bronze, and it had legs of iron and feet of iron mixed with clay. A stone struck the statue at it’s feet and broke up the feet into pieces. Then the entire statue was broken into pieces. This stone then became a mountain over the entire earth.

The interpretation of that dream was this: Nebuchadnezzar and his kingdom were the head of gold. There would be a less great kingdom after him, that was the silver and it represented the Medo-Persian empire ruled by Darius. Then a third and lesser kingdom would rise that was the bronze belly and thighs of the statue, which was the Greek empire. After that would come a kingdom of iron (the legs) because iron breaks up all things, and it would be founded on feet of iron mixed with clay as the feet. This fourth kingdom was the Roman Empire.

After the four kingdoms, the interpretation of the dream showed the stone (not made by humans) that breaks up all the kingdoms and setup a king that would rule forever. This is God’s eternal kingdom. Remember, all of this was from Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in chapter 2 of Daniel. Now let’s look at chapter 7 where Daniel has a completely different dream, but it has a very similar interpretation that reveals the same four kingdoms and then God’s eternal reign. In this dream, the kingdoms are represented by animals rather than a big statue.

Where else in the Bible have we seen God reveal the same future events in two very different dreams?

In Genesis 37, Joseph had two dreams. In one dream, his own sheaf of grain stood up in the field, and the sheaves of grain of his father and brothers each bowed down to him. Then in another dream, the sun, moon, and eleven stars were all bowing down to him. Each dream foretold the same future when his entire family would bow down to him as the ruler in Egypt.

Later in Genesis 41, Pharaoh has two dreams. In one vision, the seven skinny and ugly cows eat up the seven fat cows. In another vision, the seven thin and ugly ears of corn eat and swallow up the seven plump and juicy ears of corn. Both dreams showed Joseph and Pharaoh that they would have seven years of great and bountiful harvest followed by seven years of horrendous drought and starvation.

This seems to be the Lord’s way of reinforcing or restating to the interpreter (Joseph in the book of Genesis and Daniel here in the book of Daniel) that the interpretation is correct, true, and certain.

Daniel 7 takes us back in time to when Daniel served under King Belshazzar. If you remember, Belshazzar was the ruler back in chapter 5 when the hand wrote on the wall, and then his kingdom was taken over in the night by Darius of the Medes and Persians.

Daniel’s Dream

    1 In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream and visions of his head while on his bed. Then he wrote down the dream, telling the main facts.

(It sounds like Daniel kept a notebook by his bedside like I do. When I think of important things in the middle of the night, I write them down so I can remember them later.)

    2 Daniel spoke, saying, “I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the Great Sea.
    3 “And four great beasts came up from the sea, each different from the other.

The four winds of heaven stir up the sea, and four beasts rise up out of the ocean. We know that only God controls the weather. It is safe to say that God is in control here, and that God allows the entire world’s political circumstances to be such that each of these kingdoms rises up and takes control. But only because God allows them to do so.

    For kingship belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations. ~ Psalm 22:28 (ESV)

You see, God is in control of every single political situation in the world. He always has been and He always will be. Every king, every president, every country, every election, every government – they are all subject to God, and exist by God’s divine appointment and allowance.

    4 “The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings. I watched till its wings were plucked off; and it was lifted up from the earth and made to stand on two feet like a man, and a man’s heart was given to it.

Similar to Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the statue with a gold head, this first beast is the kingdom of Babylon again. It was a lion with eagles wings. He had the strength and royal glory of a lion, coupled with the speed and power of an eagle. Daniel may have recognized that the first beast/kingdom was that of Babylon/Belshazzar, and that he would soon lose his throne.

    5 “And suddenly another beast, a second, like a bear. It was raised up on one side, and had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. And they said thus to it: ‘Arise, devour much flesh!’

This second beast was a bear and it was “raised up on one side”. So it had an unequal power to it, where one side was stronger than the other. Remember, this kingdom was the Medes and the Persians combined in the Medo-Persian Empire. One of those kingdoms was the stronger of the two. The three ribs in it’s mouth could signify the three kingdoms it conquered – Egypt, Babylon, and Lydia. On the statue, this was the silver chest and arms meaning this kingdom was not as strong or great as Babylon was.

    6 “After this I looked, and there was another, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird. The beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it.

Beast number three is a depiction of the kingdom of Alexander the Great of Greece. Leopards are incredibly quick, and this one would have been even more so with four wings. That fact lines up well with the fact that Alexander took over the world quickly and at a very young age. After Alexander died, his kingdom was divided among four of his generals which are shown by the four heads of the leopard. On the statue, this kingdom was the bronze belly and thighs. Again, it’s a lesser metal that portrays a lesser kingdom.

    7 “After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.

This kingdom was that of the Roman Empire. It is so dreadful and terrifying that it cannot be described by any animals we know of. The Roman Empire lasted much longer than any of the others and it was more ruthless and powerful than the others. The 10 horns may represent the 10 successive strong kings that ruled the Roman Empire.

    8 “I was considering the horns, and there was another horn, a little one, coming up among them, before whom three of the first horns were plucked out by the roots. And there, in this horn, were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking pompous words.

This little horn starts out small but becomes the most powerful. It overtakes three of the other horns. This little horn may signify the anti-christ.

“The angel seems more concerned to drive home his earlier words about the judgment to come and the triumph of the saints than to identify the little horn. The central point of the vision is that the time when the beastly kingdoms of the earth will oppress the saints is limited by God, and beyond it lies the scene of the heavenly court, where the beasts will finally be tamed and destroyed.” ~ (The ESV Study Bible, Copyright 2008 by Crossway Bibles)

    Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.
    He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.
    And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
    The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
    ~ Revelation 20:1-4, 10

Satan, the anti-christ, and these kingdoms are only allowed to do what they will do by the God of the universe. They have NO POWER outside of what God allows. My point: God is in control, He is on the throne, and He watches over his people.

    More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. ~ Romans 5:3-5 (ESV)

    And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
    ~ 1 Peter 5:10 (ESV)

Christ is Coming!

    9 “I watched till thrones were put in place, And the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, And the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, Its wheels a burning fire;
    10 A fiery stream issued And came forth from before Him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, And the books were opened.
    11 “I watched then because of the sound of the pompous words which the horn was speaking; I watched till the beast was slain, and its body destroyed and given to the burning flame.
    12 “As for the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away, yet their lives were prolonged for a season and a time.

We can see from these verses (9-12) that Jesus Christ is in control and judgment is coming.

    13 “I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him.
    14 Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed.
    15 “I, Daniel, was grieved in my spirit within my body, and the visions of my head troubled me.
    16 “I came near to one of those who stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of these things:
    17 ‘Those great beasts, which are four, are four kings which arise out of the earth.
    18 ‘But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever.
    19 “Then I wished to know the truth about the fourth beast, which was different from all the others, exceedingly dreadful, with its teeth of iron and its nails of bronze, which devoured, broke in pieces, and trampled the residue with its feet;
    20 “and the ten horns that were on its head, and the other horn which came up, before which three fell, namely, that horn which had eyes and a mouth which spoke pompous words, whose appearance was greater than his fellows.
    21 “I was watching; and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them,
    22 “until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom.

As believers at the end of all things, we will live and rule with Christ over the whole of his kingdom!

    23 “Thus he said: ‘The fourth beast shall be A fourth kingdom on earth, Which shall be different from all other kingdoms, And shall devour the whole earth, Trample it and break it in pieces.
    24 The ten horns are ten kings Who shall arise from this kingdom. And another shall rise after them; He shall be different from the first ones, And shall subdue three kings.
    25 He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, Shall persecute the saints of the Most High, And shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand For a time and times and half a time.
    26 ‘But the court shall be seated, And they shall take away his dominion, To consume and destroy it forever.
    27 Then the kingdom and dominion, And the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, Shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, And all dominions shall serve and obey Him.’
    28 “This is the end of the account. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts greatly troubled me, and my countenance changed; but I kept the matter in my heart.”

Jesus is called the “Ancient of Days” in this passage. That name for Jesus reminds me that He is on the throne and in control and He always has been! He is in control even when the rest of the world seems to be spinning out of control.

    I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. ~ John 16:33 (ESV)

    That people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things. ~ Isaiah 45:6-7 (ESV)

    For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.
    And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. ~ Colossians 1:16-17 (ESV)

He is on the throne, and He is in control. I am so encouraged by that!

Daniel, the Lions, and Faith – Daniel 6

When we left Daniel in Chapter 5, the Babylonian kingdom had just been overrun and conquered by Darius the king of the Medes. The Babylonian king Belshazzar had been killed after Daniel interpreted the dream of Belshazzar. Daniel has shown himself once again to be faithful to The Lord even at the risk of his own neck.

Back in chapter 4 when Nebuchadnezzar asked Daniel to interpret the king’s dream, it was not a very promising prophecy for the kings’ future. The king could turn from his pride and save himself the coming trouble, or if he did not he would encounter seven years of madness. It took incredible faith for Daniel to speak that truth into the king’s life. Yet Daniel believed God and stepped out in faith that God’s word is true, and that it was more important for the king to hear from God than for Daniel to live. What a great lesson that is for us!

When given the chance to interpret the handwriting on the wall, Daniel was again putting his own life at stake by giving the king an unfavorable interpretation. That must have taken tremendous faith!

    This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
    Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.
    ~ Joshua 1:8-9

You see, Daniel has chosen to follow God and His word. The Lord is NOT saying if you follow His word you’ll make lots of money. He’s not saying if you read the Bible every day, your business will do fantastic things and your job future is incredibly bright.

God is saying if you read/study/follow His word, He will go before you like He did with Joshua. He will fight your battles, He will walk with you. He will love you and He will show His love through you. You will have success in Christ. That can look much different than worldly success.

In Daniel’s life, God used Daniel’s worldly success and continued to increase his position and his influence. God blessed him in it so that he would have the ear of each king that came along into power over the Jews. (You and I don’t have the ear of the United States president, but perhaps God has someone in that position that we don’t even know about! We should pray that He does and that God would help that person.)

The people around you and me need the Lord as much as we do. I believe that God has you and me exactly where he wants us to be (in school, work, or home), and for His purposes and His glory we should stay until He moves us.

This week we see Daniel again go through a time of faith-stretching where he will have to stand firm, trust his God, and watch Him work.

Now let’s look at Daniel 6.

    1 It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 satraps, to be throughout the whole kingdom;
    2 and over them three high officials, of whom Daniel was one, to whom these satraps should give account, so that the king might suffer no loss.
    3 Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.

Daniel is given career success. Again, you and I may not have jobs or careers that are deemed highly successful by the world’s standards. But that doesn’t matter to God. What matters is that we serve Him right where He has put us.

    So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
    ~ 1 Corinthians 10:31

In whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. That doesn’t mean simply “do a good job”, or “work hard and God will reward you”. To do all to the glory of God goes far beyond that. How do we glorify God in our work, or in our daily life? If you are a framer on a construction crew and you fire a nail gun through your big toe, that may mean not cussing in your moment of pain. Or instead of telling your friends dirty jokes on your lunch break, talking about what God is doing in your life. It may mean that when you find an extra few hours on your paycheck that you know you never worked, going to your boss and letting them know of the mistake. And when your boss thanks you or asks why you told him/her, simply saying that you know God wants you to be honest in all parts of your life.

My wife, daughter, and I worked at a camp this week for underprivileged kids for the local Gospel Mission. There was archery, floating the river in tubes, challenge courses, devotions, games – all kinds of great stuff for the kids this week. There were also a couple of occasions where the kids had a chance to go fishing on the river.

Now, I love fishing. I relish the time of casting my line in the water, reeling it in slowly, and then strategizing in my mind how I’m going to outsmart the fish. One thing I don’t enjoy as much is teaching kids to fish. (I’m a sinner just like you. This is a moment of confession.) To stand there with a group of kids and untangle lines, bait hooks, cast for them, and watch them turn around and tangle up their line after the cast is really hard for me! At camp this last week, I went down to the water dreading it a bit, and I watched as other cabin leaders demonstrated love and patience with the kids. They showed them casting, they untangled lines on cheap old rods/reels, they patiently baited the hooks, and they did it over and over again. These leaders were doing all to the glory of God for these kids. And in that short period of time, the kids saw and felt the love of Christ. Those leaders taught me a lesson.

    By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
    ~ John 13:35

    But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
    ~ Romans 5:8

God is so patient with me, loving me and showing me His love! He has called you and me to do the same with those around us, even if it means doing something we don’t particularly enjoy. You see, those leaders who were helping the kids fish may not enjoy untangling lines. What they do enjoy is sharing God’s love with kids in whatever form that takes.

    4 Then the high officials and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him.
    5 Then these men said, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.”
    6 Then these high officials and satraps came by agreement to the king and said to him, “O King Darius, live forever!
    7 All the high officials of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an injunction, that whoever makes petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions.
    8 Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, which cannot be revoked.”
    9 Therefore King Darius signed the document and injunction.

These leaders were obviously NOT doing their work for God’s glory, but for their own gain and glory. When we are serving God and doing everything for His glory, the desire to elevate ourselves falls away and the desire for God to be glorified rises to the top.

A great example from God’s word:
King David – A shepherd boy who simply served God while herding sheep in the desert, he was given his first shot at glory in slaying Goliath. David could have started the day by making a statement about how skilled he was with a knife or spear, how accurate he was with a sling, or offering an exact count of how many wild beasts he had killed. In today’s business world, that would be like me pulling out a spreadsheet to show all the great things I’d done in my work and taking credit for the numbers. Or a kid in school pulling out their report card and talking about how many hours it took to get all those fantastic grades. But that’s not David’s heart.

    And David said, “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you!”
    ~ 1 Samuel 17:37

David begins by predicting in faith that God will deliver! Then David meets the challenger Goliath down in the valley. Goliath has all sorts of big talk and puffed up pride.

    Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.
    This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel,
    and that all this assembly may know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear.” For the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give you into our hand.”
    1 Samuel 17:45-47

I love David’s heart! He gives all the glory to God ahead of time in complete faith “that all this assembly may know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear.” It also encourages me to know that “the battle is the LORD’s” and he will deliver. It’s not our battle, it’s God battle!

When a nation goes to war soldiers are trained, prepared, and sent to the battlefield. But the war is not the individual soldier’s war, instead the soldier is fighting for his entire country. In the same way, as soldiers of Jesus, we are fighting the battle not for our own selves or for our own glory. We are fighting and soldiering for Jesus. The battle belongs to the Lord!

I had a great-great grandfather who emigrated from Germany to the United States in the 1850s because the king of his country was conscripting young men to go fight for other countries. Germany at that time had an army of soldiers for hire (Hessians), and the king would get paid money to send his young men to fight a war for someone else. My great-great grandfather – John Hess – came to the US and lived in Iowa. The Civil War came upon our nation and he signed up to fight for the North. He joined the war effort as a soldier because he believed in his new country and he felt the cause was right. He knew it was not his war but a war for the entire country.

The same idea is true for David with Goliath, and the same is true for Daniel. Daniel knows that God is in control and has put him in this position for a reason.

    10 When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.

Even though the order had been signed, Daniel’s prayer habits continued just as they had been. Even knowing that what he was doing violated the king’s new law, Daniel also knew that God had called him to worship the Lord and Him alone. He had faith that God would deliver him if He honored the Lord and that the “battle is the Lord’s” to fight.

    11 Then these men came by agreement and found Daniel making petition and plea before his God.
    12 Then they came near and said before the king, concerning the injunction, “O king! Did you not sign an injunction, that anyone who makes petition to any god or man within thirty days except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions?” The king answered and said, “The thing stands fast, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be revoked.”
    13 Then they answered and said before the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or the injunction you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day.”
    14 Then the king, when he heard these words, was much distressed and set his mind to deliver Daniel. And he labored till the sun went down to rescue him.
    15 Then these men came by agreement to the king and said to the king, “Know, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no injunction or ordinance that the king establishes can be changed.”
    16 Then the king commanded, and Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions. The king declared to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!”
    17 And a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet and with the signet of his lords, that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel.
    18 Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; no diversions were brought to him, and sleep fled from him.
    19 Then, at break of day, the king arose and went in haste to the den of lions.
    20 As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?”
    21 Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever!
    22 My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.”

Daniel gives God the glory because Daniel knows it is God who delivers and saves. There were many times in my past work-life when I should have given God the glory for any and every success I had. It was so hard for me when talking with non-believers to say “God did the work, I just showed up.” But it is so true that the work done is truly God, we simply step forward and obey. I’m still learning that lesson today.

    23 Then the king was exceedingly glad, and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.
    24 And the king commanded, and those men who had maliciously accused Daniel were brought and cast into the den of lions—they, their children, and their wives. And before they reached the bottom of the den, the lions overpowered them and broke all their bones in pieces.

For boys, husbands, and dads, this is an incredible lesson right here in one single verse (vs 24). God has ordained us to be the “pastor” of our family. Sometimes we take that role seriously and follow Jesus and lead our wife and kids. Sometimes we don’t take that role seriously. Other times, we as men completely abandon that role as leader of the family. Being a dad is hard, there is no question about it. However “the battle is the Lord’s”, and all we need to do is show up and obey. I know I make it sound easier than it is.

Here these men in the king’s court were given incredible opportunity and responsibility. They used it for their own selfish goals and tried to get Daniel killed to get him out of the way of their own career. We as husbands and dads were also given incredible opportunity and responsibility.

Some dads will make career choices that take them away from their family, or they love other women besides their wife, or perhaps they love alcohol or a drug more than they love their family. I’d like to encourage you husbands and dads out there to do what God has called you to do. Be a man, stand with your family, make the hard choices, and follow Jesus in all you do. These men in the kingdom made terrible choices, and their entire family suffered as a result. That still happens today.

    Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
    ~ 1 Corinthians 16:13

Remember the exhortation in the book of Joshua? Be strong and courageous!

(Please know that I am aware of all you women out there filling the role of both mom and dad and I salute you! God bless you for all that you are doing to pour into the lives of your children, and I can’t say this enough: God can help you! Choose Jesus Christ as your savior and cry out to God every day for your kids. God will help you as “the battle is the Lord’s.”)

    25 Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: “Peace be multiplied to you.
    26 I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel, for he is the living God, enduring forever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end.
    27 He delivers and rescues; he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, he who has saved Daniel from the power of the lions.”
    28 So this Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

Once again, Daniel glorifies God and steps out in faith that God will deliver him even from hungry lions. God took care of Daniel when he did that. God took care of David when David gave God all the glory. God will take care of you and me when we choose to follow Him and glorify Him in all that we do.

We Will Serve The Lord – Joshua 24

(I taught 5 lessons at a kids camp recently and wanted to get them online for anyone to use. I’ll try to get them formatted better soon. ~ Anthony)

We’ve learned so much the past few days! In the last lesson, we learned the God gives us the victory when we obey Him and follow Him. He can give us victory in small situations when we choose to follow Him, and He can give us victories in BIG situations when we choose to follow Him and His will. What is the ultimate victory God offers to us?

Victory over death! Because Jesus died for us, He offers us a victory over death and into eternal life. In doing that, He also offers us a different life here on earth right? He offers us a hope that non-Christians don’t have. Not just hope for eternity, but also hope in every situation. He has our good in mind because we love Him. In every situation that seems lost, He is our hope!

Now let’s look at the last chapter in Joshua, chapter 24:
1 And Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers; and they presented themselves before God.
2 And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods.
3 And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac.
4 And I gave unto Isaac Jacob and Esau: and I gave unto Esau Mount Seir, to possess it; but Jacob and his children went down into Egypt.
5 I sent Moses also and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt, according to that which I did among them: and afterward I brought you out.
6 And I brought your fathers out of Egypt: and ye came unto the sea; and the Egyptians pursued after your fathers with chariots and horsemen unto the Red sea.
7 And when they cried unto the LORD, he put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and brought the sea upon them, and covered them; and your eyes have seen what I have done in Egypt: and ye dwelt in the wilderness a long season.

Verses 1 through 7 go over all that God had done for the Israelites up to Joshua’s time as leader. All of these events point to Israel eventually taking the Promised Land. In the same way, God uses the WHOLE BIBLE to point us to Jesus.

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.
For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
~ Matthew 5:17-18

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
~ Psalm 119:105

Here Joshua is reminding them of all that God had brought them through to get them here. Starting with Abraham’s father Terah, he reminds them that they are children of the Promise. They are here because God called them out, and He called them to be different. God calls us as Christians to be different too.
Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.
~ 2 Timothy 2:21

God calls us to be set apart as holy. We are different from the world because God is working inside us to make us different! That’s awesome! I don’t want to be the guy that I used to be. When we are different, that means we are different IN JESUS. When Paul says to Timothy that we are “useful to the master of the house”, that is because we are allowing God to work in us and through us. Paul also says that if we are “cleansed” (that means we are made clean in Jesus) then we are ready for God to use us. Are you guys ready?

Joshua’s Time
Now Joshua recounts for them some of the things God brought them through under Joshua’s time in leadership.

8 And I brought you into the land of the Amorites, which dwelt on the other side Jordan; and they fought with you: and I gave them into your hand, that ye might possess their land; and I destroyed them from before you.
9 Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and warred against Israel, and sent and called Balaam the son of Beor to curse you:
10 But I would not hearken unto Balaam; therefore he blessed you still: so I delivered you out of his hand.
11 And ye went over Jordan, and came unto Jericho: and the men of Jericho fought against you, the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; and I delivered them into your hand.
12 And I sent the hornet before you, which drave them out from before you, even the two kings of the Amorites; but not with thy sword, nor with thy bow.
13 And I have given you a land for which ye did not labour, and cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and oliveyards which ye planted not do ye eat.

God gave them victory again and again and again and again and again. Against the Amorites, Balak of the Moabites, the men of Jericho, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, the Jebusites, the Amorites again.

God – and only God – can give you victory in your life. In any trouble you have, God is your help. There’s a song on the radio that says (basically) any trouble you have, when you don’t know the words to say, just say ‘Jesus’. There is so much truth in that!

When you don’t know what to say
Just say Jesus
There is power in the name
The name of Jesus
If the words won’t come cause you’re too afraid to pray
Just say Jesus

Whisper it now, or shout it out
However it comes out, He hears your cry
Out of nowhere He will come
You gotta believe it
He will rescue you
Just call out to the way, the truth, the life
When you don’t know what to say
Just say Jesus

God says that Jesus and the Holy Spirit work on our behalf. Just say ‘Jesus!’
9
And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved.’
~ Acts 2:21

In Joshua Chapter 2 we read how God required that the ark of the covenant was to go before the Israelites as the crossed over the Jordan River on dry ground. Remember that the ark symbolized God going before them to prepare the way for them. God went before them and made the water stand up in a heap. God went before them and made the ground dry for them to walk on. God goes before you and I as well as we walk in the life to prepare our way when we don’t even know He is doing the work ahead of time!

The Lord your God who goes before you will himself fight for you, just as he did for you in Egypt before your eyes, and in the wilderness, where you have seen how the Lord your God carried you, as a man carries his son, all the way that you went until you came to this place.
Deut 1:30

Know therefore today that he who goes over before you as a consuming fire is the Lord your God. Deut 9:3

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.
Deut 31:6, 8

The Lord goes out like a mighty man, like a man of war he stirs up his zeal; he cries out, he shouts aloud, he shows himself mighty against his foes.
~ Isaiah 42:13

I love knowing that! It is such a comfort to me. It reminds me of the story in the book of Exodus when Moses and the Hebrews had left Egypt. Pharaoh had decided to chase after them and slaughter them. The Hebrews raced ahead and came up against the Red Sea.

God knew they would be blocked off there at the water. It wasn’t a surprise to Him. But God does the work for us!

10 And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto the LORD.
11 And they said unto Moses, Because [there were] no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt?
12 [Is] not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For [it had been] better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.
13 And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.
14 The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.
~ Exodus 14:10-14

God will fight for you. God will do the work. God will prepare the way for you. God will go ahead of you.

14 Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD.
15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
16 And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the LORD, to serve other gods;
17 For the LORD our God, he it is that brought us up and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and which did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way wherein we went, and among all the people through whom we passed:
18 And the LORD drave out from before us all the people, even the Amorites which dwelt in the land: therefore will we also serve the LORD; for he is our God.
19 And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the LORD: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.
20 If ye forsake the LORD, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good.
21 And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the LORD.
22 And Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen you the LORD, to serve him. And they said, We are witnesses.
23 Now therefore put away, said he, the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the LORD God of Israel.
24 And the people said unto Joshua, The LORD our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey.
25 So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem.
26 And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God, and took a great stone, and set it up there under an oak, that was by the sanctuary of the LORD.
27 And Joshua said unto all the people, Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us; for it hath heard all the words of the LORD which he spake unto us: it shall be therefore a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God.
28 So Joshua let the people depart, every man unto his inheritance.
29 And it came to pass after these things, that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being an hundred and ten years old.
30 And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnathserah, which is in mount Ephraim, on the north side of the hill of Gaash.
31 And Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that overlived Joshua, and which had known all the works of the LORD, that he had done for Israel.
Joshua challenges the Israelites saying:
“Choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

He’s saying “YOU CHOOSE!” BUT AS FOR ME AND MY FAMILY, WE ARE GOING TO SERVE GOD!”

The Israelites respond FOUR TIMES and they affirm that “we will serve the LORD!”
(verses 16-18, 21, 22, and verse 24)

The Jews had no idea what was in store for them. They had some hard, hard stuff coming. They had fought many battles already and would fight many, many more. Satan would continue to attack the Jews and try to cause them to stumble and fall.

Here we see Joshua set up a monument, another memorial stone in verse 26:
“Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God, and took a great stone, and set it up there under an oak, that was by the sanctuary of the LORD.”

He put it right there by the sanctuary where they would remember the covenant and the commitment they made to serve God. Remember your covenant, your commitment, to serve God. Remember your stone, the one you picked out? Keep that as a memorial (if you ever lose it, I have plenty more!) and it will help you to remember.

You will all have some tough things coming, some things that Satan will use to try to tear you away from God.

Jesus said:
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” ~ John 16:33

Remember, call out to Jesus, just say “Jesus” and remember your faith. Hold onto it no matter what happens. “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”.

God Gives Victory! – Joshua 5:13-6:27

(I taught 5 lessons at a kids camp recently and wanted to get them online for anyone to use. I’ll try to get them formatted better soon. ~ Anthony)

We have seen in our study that God wants us to not only obey His Word – the Bible – but to read and study it. We’ve learned that God shows us compassion and care, and God provides for us. In the last study, we saw that God loves to remind us of His care, His compassion, His provision, and what He did for us in His Son Jesus.

Now let’s look at the victory the Israelites had and the victory we have today!

13 And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, “Are You for us or for our adversaries?”
14 So He said, “No, but as Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, “What does my Lord say to His servant?”
15 Then the Commander of the LORD’s army said to Joshua, “Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.” And Joshua did so.
~ Joshua 5:13-15

Joshua meets the captain of the Lord’s army! What an amazing sight that must have been. Again, we see a incredible parallel between Joshua and Moses.

1 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.
2 And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed.
3 Then Moses said, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.”
4 So when the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”
5 Then He said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.”
~ Exodus 3:1-5

Again, God reminds Israel and Joshua that He has appointed Joshua just like He appointed Moses for the task of leading the nation of Israel. He shows it to them by using some of the same words and actions that He used with Moses. Immediately, Joshua would have recognized this moment as similar to the way that God called Moses from the burning bush. By now the book of Exodus was probably written, so the story of the burning bush would have even been something that Joshua had read.

1 Now Jericho was securely shut up because of the children of Israel; none went out, and none came in.
2 And the LORD said to Joshua: “See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor.

God reminds Joshua of His promise to give them all of the Promised Land, and that includes Jericho. Remember what Rahab the harlot said?

9 and said to the men: “I know that the LORD has given you the land, that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you.
10 “For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed.
11 “And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.
~ Joshua 2:9-11

Now Joshua Goes to Battle!
3 “You shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days.
4 “And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets.
5 “It shall come to pass, when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, that all the people shall shout with a great shout; then the wall of the city will fall down flat. And the people shall go up every man straight before him.”

Here we see God give Joshua a very specific and unusual instruction for battle. “Walk around the town each day once for six days, then the seventh day go around the city walls seven times and blow your trumpets and shout really loud.”

That seems pretty wild doesn’t it? Walk around the city, blow your horns, and shout. To us, that’s not much of a battle plan. Can you imagine if our country’s army were given that instruction today from the commanders? It would seem to be a recipe for losing.

Yet in this moment of battle, if they see the walls fall down and victory handed to them, can there be any doubt who did the work? They didn’t make a normal battle assault of climbing over the walls with weapons in hand. It certainly wasn’t the Israelites great walking ability. They didn’t march so hard or so much that they created an earthquake. It couldn’t possibly be their super-charged loud horns that did it. They didn’t blow the walls down with the wind from their trumpets. I’m sure it wasn’t their shouting. No matter how loud they tried to shout, it wouldn’t cause the huge stone walls to come crashing down into a pile of rubble.

Throughout the Bible, God gives us some pretty weird instructions.

“Humble yourself.”
4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
~ Matthew 18:4

“Serve one another.”
13 For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
~ Galatians 5:13

“Pray with other people.”
20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
~ Matthew 18:20

But it’s in these instructions that God has provided us a victory if we follow them. In humility, God says we’ll be great. In serving, God says we’ll show other people love. In praying together, God says He will be in the middle of them.

God doesn’t call us to be humble, to serve, and to pray just because He likes to be the boss. All through the Bible, God is showing us how to live our lives and to be victorious just like He did with Joshua.

Sometimes God will also speak to your heart and ask you to do something that seems weird. God called our family to list our house for sale when we had no idea what God was going to do once it sold. God may tell you in your heart to go mow the lawn for that little old lady across the street. Or he may speak to you quietly and ask you to pray for somebody even when they didn’t ask for it and you don’t know why. Again, God is somehow able to give us a ‘win’ because we did as we were told by the Holy Spirit.

5 That your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
6 However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.
7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory,
8 which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
9 But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”[fn]
10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.~ 1 Corinthians 2:5-10

God’s Holy Spirit reveals these incredible things to us that the world cannot understand. What are some examples you can think of that God might instruct you to do that the world might think is ‘not normal’? Discuss.

5 “It shall come to pass, when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, that all the people shall shout with a great shout; then the wall of the city will fall down flat. And the people shall go up every man straight before him.”
6 Then Joshua the son of Nun called the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the LORD.”
7 And he said to the people, “Proceed, and march around the city, and let him who is armed advance before the ark of the LORD.”
8 So it was, when Joshua had spoken to the people, that the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the LORD advanced and blew the trumpets, and the ark of the covenant of the LORD followed them.
9 The armed men went before the priests who blew the trumpets, and the rear guard came after the ark, while the priests continued blowing the trumpets.
10 Now Joshua had commanded the people, saying, “You shall not shout or make any noise with your voice, nor shall a word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I say to you, ‘Shout!’ Then you shall shout.”

Notice the Bible doesn’t tell us that people argued. As a matter of fact, it looks like they simply obeyed the Lord’s instructions. It certainly isn’t that way with me all the time! I have argued with God on many occasions about what He was asking me to do. The victory is much better and easier and can be sweeter when we don’t argue, but sometimes God works in our hearts and lives through the conflict. He teaches us in that moment. Look at Jonah in the belly of the big fish. He didn’t like God’s instructions so he slipped out of town on the next ship he could. Then God allowed Jonah to be thrown overboard where he was swallowed up by the whale. From deep inside that whale, God changed Jonah’s heart:

1 Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the fish’s belly.
2 And he said: “I cried out to the LORD because of my affliction, And He answered me. “Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, And You heard my voice.
3 For You cast me into the deep, Into the heart of the seas, And the floods surrounded me; All Your billows and Your waves passed over me.
4 Then I said, ‘I have been cast out of Your sight; Yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.’
5 The waters surrounded me, even to my soul; The deep closed around me; Weeds were wrapped around my head.
6 I went down to the moorings of the mountains; The earth with its bars closed behind me forever; Yet You have brought up my life from the pit, O LORD, my God.
7 “When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the LORD; And my prayer went up to You, Into Your holy temple.
8 “Those who regard worthless idols Forsake their own Mercy.
9 But I will sacrifice to You With the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.”
10 So the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.
~ Jonah 2:1-10

But the Israelites didn’t argue, they had hearts that were humble enough to hear from God and to do as they were asked. What other examples do we find in the Bible where the person did as asked and didn’t argue?

Abraham with Isaac – he risked his sons life
David with Goliath – he risked his life
Daniel in the lions den – he risked his life
Jesus – God gave up His son for us, and Jesus gave up His earthly life for us

28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
~ Romans 8:28

If we obey God or if we do not obey God, either way God is using things in our life for our own good. If we disobey, like Jonah did, we may end up in the belly of a whale so God can work that stuff out in us. If we obey God, He will use that also for our own good and to work in us like He did with Joshua.

5 “It shall come to pass, when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, that all the people shall shout with a great shout; then the wall of the city will fall down flat. And the people shall go up every man straight before him.”
6 Then Joshua the son of Nun called the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the LORD.”
7 And he said to the people, “Proceed, and march around the city, and let him who is armed advance before the ark of the LORD.”
8 So it was, when Joshua had spoken to the people, that the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the LORD advanced and blew the trumpets, and the ark of the covenant of the LORD followed them.
9 The armed men went before the priests who blew the trumpets, and the rear guard came after the ark, while the priests continued blowing the trumpets.
10 Now Joshua had commanded the people, saying, “You shall not shout or make any noise with your voice, nor shall a word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I say to you, ‘Shout!’ Then you shall shout.”

If Joshua had disobeyed God, no doubt they probably would not have had the victory. It would have been difficult to lose and God would have had to do some more work in Joshua’s heart and in his life so they he would obey the next time.

But here, we see that God rewarded Joshua for his obedience. He handed them an easy victory. Sometimes when we make wrong choices, God allows us to go through difficult things like Jonah did in the whale. Other times when we make good choices and obey God, He gives us incredible victory! This makes me think of my cousin Jackie and her work at the Union Gospel Mission. Many of the people she is helping have made some poor choices in life. But as she counsels them and shares with them from God’s Word and they begin to make good choices to obey God, He gives them victory in their life.

57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
~ 1 Corinthians 15:57-58