All posts by Eddie

Back in 1975, I was basically an atheist or agnostic. I did not believe in God and generally held the belief that religion was invented by man in order to keep the people in line, make money, and provide comfort to those who thought too much about death. I believed religion came from superstition and interpretation of natural events. But, my wife got tired of me telling her how "wrong" she was about things. So, I started to read the Bible to prove her wrong. It was in this intense study that I met Jesus, and the prophets. I began to understand things that were different from what I had heard. I asked Jesus to come into my life and I have not stopped studying since, except for about a 10 year period when I left God....but He never left me...

Daniel and Revelation-Part 4 Worship Restrictions

Please read Daniel 6

Summary so far:

In Daniel 2,  King Nebuchadnezzar was troubled about a dream.  None of his wise men could tell him his disturbing dream nor its interpretation. But Daniel, after a prayer session with his three friends, received the revelation of the dream and its interpretation. Confident in God, Daniel went into the King to reveal this remarkable image seen by the great King of Babylon. The absolute accuracy of Daniel’s interpretation (given by God Himself) has been proven by time and history. Only one part of it remains unfulfilled.

 The image with its multiple metals, digressing in strength and value, would eventually be destroyed by a rock. This rock cut out of a mountain would consume the whole earth. The dream revealed the rise and fall of nations that impacted or currently impact God’s people until the second coming of Jesus!

The king was so moved by Daniel’s accuracy and details of the dream and steadfast strength in the only true God of heaven that he fell on his face and prostrated himself before Daniel. His words are accurate to this day:

“Truly your God is the God of gods, the Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, since you could reveal this secret.” 

Daniel 2: 47

But as time passed and the routine of daily life slowly dismissed the King’s experience.  King Nebuchadnezzar defied the God of heaven and set up an image entirely of gold.  HIs message and implications were clear.  He felt in his heart that His kingdom could not possibly end.  He was too strong! He arrogantly proclaimed, by his actions, that he was the head, body, and feet of gold! He would not accept the future end to his kingdom.

But, the three follower’s of the only true God (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) refused to bow down to the image which would break the commandments of God.  They were thrown into the fire and “one like the son of man” walked with them to protect them. This man was Jesus himself in pre-incarnate form.

This story is an example of forced religion with a death decree. Revelation also predicts a decree to “worship the image of the beast.” This we will study in the coming days.

Once again, the King saw God at work and repented, but he would fall back into pride in Chapter 4 when he stated,

“Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” 

Daniel 4:30

By these words, he denied the words of Daniel, that God

“….changes times and seasons;
    he removes kings and sets up kings;…”

Daniel 2:21

The God of heaven bore long and patiently with King Nebucannazar, but the King was soon to humbled.  The king received one last vision about a tree, which Daniel, again,  gave the interpretation. ( See Daniel 4)

After the king’s mental breakdown where he ate grass and became like a beast for seven years, He came to his senses and was converted as predicted by the dream.

As far as we know and from indications from Daniel 7, the king was finally fully converted and became a follower of the true God of heaven.

Buried in this story is the question to us today.  Does the passage of time and the routine of life make us doubt what we know is the truth of God? Is God, perhaps, at work humbling us?  God not only saves us from eternal death, but also from ourselves and our pride while on this earth.  Don’t you agree?At the end of time, there is a group of believers who begin to doubt Christ’s promise to return and they return to the life and attitude they had before their conversion:

At the end of time, there is a group of believers who begin to doubt Christ’s promise to return and they return to the life and attitude they had before their conversion:

…knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.

‘My master is delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, 

2 Peter 3:3-4, Matthew 24: 48-49

The attitude of many who have heard about the second coming is doubt, scoffing, and to rationalize away His coming.  Notice, it is their own sinful desires which propel them into unbelief. They would rather “enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (Hebrews 11:25) than the daily eternal joy as found in Christ. Their reward is here on earth rather than the reward of eternal life that Jesus brings with Him.

The passage in Matthew 24: 48-49 (above) discloses followers of the master Jesus who fail to endure the passage of time and, instead, become like the wicked of the world.

As we saw last time in Daniel 5, Babylon fell to the dual kingdom of the Medes and the Persians. The night Belshazzar met his end, he made an aging Daniel third ruler in the kingdom. Of course, the kingdom was gone as was Belshazzar’s power, so it was a worthless designation.

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In our study of Daniel 6, a famous story that most 6-year-olds know,  the theme is not just about the deliverance of Daniel from the mouth of hungry lions, but the reason he was there in the first place and how it relates to Revelation.  It is about the forbidding of the freedom of worship and about the government making it illegal to worship in spirit and in truth.

As I write this, I have seen a clear example of Daniel 6 in the firing of the Washington high school coach whose custom was to take a knee and pray a prayer of thankfulness to the God of heaven after each football game. The case has gone to a circuit court and has yet to be ruled upon (at the time of this writing).

The only difference between the case of the praying coach and Daniel 6 is the death decree, but will this country ever get to the point where the death decree is given to both force false religion as shown in Daniel 3 or to prohibit true worship as found in Daniel 6? As unlikely as it sounds for a republic government, the Bible tells us, “yes!”

As we know, there is already a religion in this world that prohibits the freedom of worship.  The punishment is death. While this is a small radical sect, it is a false religion looking and working to enforce their law upon everyone.  They obtain followers only by falsehood and force.

But, this is not the beast of Revelation 13 who forces everyone on a worldwide scale.  The characteristics and identifying features as described in Daniel and Revelation do not point to Islam, but a less obvious power alive today. This we will study later.

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Daniel 6: An Example of Prohibiting True Worship

Just as predicted by Daniel the great golden empire of Babylon fell and the inferior silver kingdom of the Medes and Persians was established.  Daniel was still alive and active under the rule of the Darius (Medes and Persians) during the time of Daniel 6. In fact, Daniel was one of three governors.

 It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 satraps (subordinate governors of the region), to be throughout the whole kingdom; 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.

Daniel 6: 1-2

Daniel distinguished himself because of God’s spirit was upon him. He became to be the most favored of the three high officials.  The king was actually thinking about making him the number one leader next to himself. This meant heirship to the throne!

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 6:3

Of course, this made the other two high officials angry to the point of scheming for the destruction of Daniel. But, they could not find anything bad to accuse him, so they set up Daniel for failure. It all surrounded the idea of the freedom of worship and the well-known worship habits of Daniel.

they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him. 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.

Daniel 6: 4-5

 So these governors and satraps thronged before the king, and said thus to him: “King Darius, live forever!  All the governors of the kingdom, the administrators and satraps, the counselors and advisors, have consulted together to establish a royal statute and to make a firm decree, that whoever petitions any god or man for thirty days, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions.

Daniel 6: 6-8

Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.

Daniel 6:10

The two other governors lied by saying that ALL the leaders under Darius desired to set aside 30 days for worship only of the King.  Of course, Daniel would never agree to this so they left him out of the discussion and tricked the king (through flattery) into signing and unchangeable law about worship.

Daniel’s habit was to pray three times a day. Quickly, the two governors went to the government (i.e. Darius) and described the “law-breaker’s” habit. This “religious” habit was against the King’s orders. Reluctantly, the king executed the prescribed penalty for breaking the law, but we know that Daniel was delivered and the hungry lions had a feast on the liars.  The tables had turned.

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Daniel 3 and Revelation 13: An Example of Forced Worship

“To you it is commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, …you SHALL fall down and worship the gold image…But if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.

Daniel 3: 4-6

And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation. All who dwell on the earth will worship him. ..He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed.

Revelation 13:  7,15

In these two books are similar worship restrictions separated by thousands of years.  Both time periods are marked by ruling governments who enforce worship. Both have death decrees attached to the enforcement. Both have faithful followers of the true God and His word who obey the law of God rather than the law of man.

As we have seen, there are two types of government-restricted worship decrees in Daniel, which describe the days we live in and beyond.

Daniel 3, deals with forced worship. Everyone was commanded to worship regardless of their faith or beliefs. Only three knew God’s law (particularly the 2nd commandments) and worshipped in truth. ShadrachMeshach and Abednego did not obey the king’s command, the death decree was initiated, but they were delivered.

The book of Daniel and Revelation provide a forewarning to those living in the last days.   Just as in the days of Daniel and John, worship will again be an issue, but it will be a combination of forced religion by the government and worship that is illegal; both resulting in a death decree for those who do not bow to the beast. But, there will be those who stand fast in worshipping the Creator in truth.  Sadly, only a faithful few will be delivered. This might sound like an impossibility living in a democratic/republic country, but God’s word is sure and needs no fanciful interpretation.

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There is a controversy between God and the enemy of mankind, Satan.  This has been made clear in the early stages of our study in Daniel and Revelation. This controversy revolves around worship and obedience.  God can proclaim and demonstrate only the truth for the benefit of mankind, but Satan will use all the tricks of deception and confusion.  His objective is to smear the image of God and lead mankind down a path of eternal destruction. This controversy between God and Satan is the underlining theme of Daniel and Revelation, churning just below the surface of the stories and symbols.

As we move ahead in our examination of these books, we will see the truth of this conflict clearer and will begin to peek over the shoulder at the hand of the enemy, God wants to reveal the path we should take.  It is often shown in the stories of Daniel.

Everything that was written in the Holy Writings long ago was written to teach us. By not giving up, God’s Word gives us strength and hope.

Romans 15:4

Paul tells us in Romans, the “things…written” long before are to teach us and if we are committing to learning we will find “strength and hope” today.

The things that happened to those people are examples. They were written to be warnings for us. We live in the time that all those past histories were pointing to.

1 Corinthians 10:11 (ERV)

It is sobering to think that the time in which we live are the times these stories spoke. Someone has said that the stories written thousands are years ago are probably more relevant today than when they were written because they all pointed forward to the culmination of the great controversy.

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them

Hebrews 11:13

The people we are studying died in faith and knew the fulfillment of the times were “afar off.”  So as we enter into the study of end time events, it will require some faith (based on the word of God) so that we, too, can be “persuaded of them.”

In our next study, we will see a dream given to Daniel in Chapter 7 about 4 beasts which coincide with the metals of Daniel 2. More detail is layered in so that we can begin to fill in the blanks of end-time events.  The little horn power, which corresponds to the beast of Revelation 13, is introduced.  The dream was so intense that Daniel becomes sick.  This is the first time in the book of Daniel where we see Daniel in such a dramatic state….and for good reason.

Blessings until next time.

Eddie

 

 

 

Daniel and Revelation-Part 3-Babylon is Fallen

And another angel followed, saying, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.”

Revelation 14:8

Please read Daniel 5

Introduction:

In the 14th Chapter of Revelation, three angles broadcast three seemingly different messages. This middle or second message makes an announcement to the whole world about Babylon falling. What is Babylon?  What does it mean that it is fallen?

Revelation 18 repeats the message of the second angel, but with a “loud voice” and added detail.  In verse 4, the urgent worldwide plea is given to all who will listen…” come out of her my people”

Who are “God’s people” and how did they get there anyway?  What happens if God’s people don’t come out? The answer is clear:

“lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.”

Revelation 18:4

These are difficult passages to understand unless we allow the book of Daniel to unlock Revelation.  Does Daniel describe the fall of Babylon and the reasons why it fell?  Indeed it does! The literal city of Babylon fell in one night as predicted by Daniel through dreams (visions) given to Him from God.  It is both historically and spiritually applicable to Revelation’s three angels and the times in which we live.

The fall of ancient Babylon happened suddenly because of the sins of King Belshazzar and an apostate people.  The sins of Babylon will be repeated 2500 years later and with similar rapidity.  The same conditions of that literal city will be found in spiritual Babylon in the time just before the return of Jesus.  The two are connected.  A prayerful study of the former is vital to unlocking the mystery of the times in which we live and positive identification of the latter so that we can “come out” of her. How can we come out of something if we don’t know what it is?

 Babylon is described in Daniel, as we have seen in the previous two studies, as the head of Gold (Chapter 2), and a lion with two wings (Chapter 7). The characteristics of these two symbols are relevant to that historical ancient city of great hanging gardens and beauty.

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Daniel Chapter 5

A Blasphemous Party!

Belshazzar the king made a great feast for a thousand of his lords, and drank wine in the presence of the thousand. While he tasted the wine, Belshazzar gave the command to bring the gold and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple which had been in Jerusalem, that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them. Then they brought the gold vessels that had been taken from the temple of the house of God which had been in Jerusalem; and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from themThey drank wine, and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone.

Daniel 5: 1-4

When Jerusalem was captured, the magnificent temple of Solomon was destroyed by Babylon.  They confiscated the sacred vessels used in the sanctuary services. God instituted the sacrificial services and gave Moses the pattern for the sanctuary after He freed His people from the slavery of Egypt.  The services and the design of the temple and all the utensils were directed by God Himself through Moses.

But, when the people settled in the promised land, Solomon built the great temple.   All of the vessels were set aside for holy use, but at this party, they were used in a drunken orgy and filled with alcoholic wine as a tribute and praise to their idols created by their own hands!

King Belshazzar was the grandson of King Nebuchadnezzar’s and had heard the stories of his visions (Chapter 2) and his acknowledgment of the true God after a 7-year mental breakdown (Chapter 4):

That very hour the word was fulfilled concerning Nebuchadnezzar; he was driven from men and ate grass like oxen; his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws.

 And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever:

Daniel 4: 33-34

King Belshazzar (Co-leader with his father Nabonidus), was defiant of the true God and performed a ritual that has always brought the wrath of God.  The doomed king mixed those things God had made holy with a pagan ritual of idol worship.

A careful student of the books of Moses and the prophets demonstrates clearly this fact:  The fall of God’s people, almost always, was due to their turning away from the plain words and commands of God to the pagan practices of idol worship.  It is a mystery how God’s people could see the miracles He provided them as they left Egypt and still turn to other gods.

Scripture bears out the influence of unbelievers (aka peer pressure).   The people of God wanted to be like the heathen people they interacted with every day. This is one of the reasons, God desired them to be separate and uninfluenced by falsehood and pagan worship practices.  But, the people wanted a king like everyone else.  This was the beginning of their downfall as they desired to trust  human leaders rather than their Creator.  It was peer-pressure that watered down the plain words of God.

Is it any different today?  God’s people don’t want to be separate or different; they want to be accepted and like everyone else. But God commanded His people:

 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial?

2 Corinthians 6:14-15

So, it is no wonder that coming out of Babylon is a bold act of being different or non-compliant with  the practices that are not in accordance with the God’s will:

 “…Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.

Revelation 18:4

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God’s patience with Babylon ran out on this night as the drunken King flaunted himself before the God of Creation.  Here is our first hint of what causes spiritual Babylon of Revelation to fall.  It is disrespect and blasphemy of God’s plain words and commands and indifference to what God has proclaimed as holy. It is the mixing of pagan practices with the things God has set aside for holy use.

 “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication….

And on her forehead a name was written:

MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT,
THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS
AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS
OF THE EARTH.

Revelation 17:2, 5

Babylon, also described as a fornicating woman with “the kings of the earth”  sitting on many waters. The woman is a fallen church that has influence over kings and the whole earth. The waters upon which she sits is many people. The Bible interprets itself:

“The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues.

Revelation 17:15

As with literal Babylon, the spiritual Babylon of Revelation is a fornicator.  Fornication can be described as two things or parties that come together that do not belong together or is unholy and sinful in God’s sight.

God Stops The Party

In the same hour the fingers of a man’s hand appeared and wrote opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace; and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. Then the king’s countenance changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his hips were loosened and his knees knocked against each other. 

Daniel 5: 5-6

The laughter of the king and his boldness suddenly changed.  The blood from his face drained into the droopy expression of fear for he saw a hand without a body writing on the wall!  He was in such fear that his knees actually shook and knocked together.  He could not stand up!  Is this not the way the wicked will feel when the hour of their judgment comes?

The mystery of the writing consumes the king and he calls for his “wise men.”

The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. The king spoke, saying to the wise men of Babylon, “Whoever reads this writing, and tells me its interpretation, shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around his neck, and he shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.”

Daniel 5:7

The king makes the mistakes of his grandfather; he calls for the “fakers” (those who deceive the king into thinking they have spiritual connections and are wise.)

The fakers come into his presence….

but they could not read the writing, or make known to the king its interpretation. Then King Belshazzar was greatly troubled, his countenance was changed, and his lords were astonished.

Daniel 5:8

Long before this time, God had made it clear that we should seek God and His word alone for spiritual questions and inquiries and not card readers, astrologers, palm readers, and people who conduct seances. To do so, puts that person in a dangerous situation and opens them up to darkness and deception. It is a pagan practice:

And when they say to you, “Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,” should not a people seek their GodShould they seek the dead on behalf of the living To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

Isaiah 8: 19-20

Just as the king reached out to the wrong sources and remained in astonishment and fear so are those who would seek anyone other than God and His word.  A person’s words can be easily determined to be false or true when compared to God’s law and the testimony of those who wrote His book we call the Bible.

It is plain that the great touch stone for truth and revelation is the Bible alone. To believe otherwise is to fall into the darkness and untruth of the fakers…” there is no light in them.” In these last days upon earth, the true followers of  God and Jesus Christ are those who stay close to Jesus and His word:

Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.

Revelation 14:12

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Acknowledgement of God Before His Destruction 

The king is so troubled that he forgets about Daniel.  The queen reminds him of this great man of God,

The queen, because of the words of the king and his lords, came to the banquet hall. The queen spoke, saying, “O king, live forever! Do not let your thoughts trouble you, nor let your countenance change. There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the Spirit of the Holy God….Then Daniel was brought in before the king. 

Daniel 5: 10, 13

Daniel has proven to be an instrument in the hands of an omnipotent God.  Daniel knows that history is directed by the hand of God to counteract the work of the enemy.  He…

…removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise And knowledge to those who have understanding.

Daniel 2:21

God is in control and knows the end from the beginning

Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,’

Isaiah 46:10

But, God reveals his secrets to his prophets before he acts.

Surely the Lord God does nothing, Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.

Amos 3:7

Did you catch that?  God does nothing until He reveals it ahead of time through the prophets! What assurance we have!  We can know the end from the beginning by listening to his prophets!  The Lord had not done anything to Babylon until Daniel revealed to him the mystery!

But before Daniel reveals the meaning of the handwriting on the wall, he gives the frightened king a min-sermon where he boldly reminds the king of the story of King Nebuchadnezzar in verses 17- 21. Here are the highlights:

1.) God gave King Nebuchadnezzar his kingdom and majesty, glory and honor. The king had power and was feared. Although the king was not a godly man at the beginning and was an unbeliever and a pagan, God used Him for the glory and honor of God and His people. Let this speak to us, that God’s ways are not ours, nor our thoughts His thoughts. Even the bad kings/rulers are used for God’s purposes.

2.) But when his heart was lifted up, and his spirit was hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him. Daniel 5: 20. The king had the same problem as Lucifer when he fell from heaven.  His heart was “lifted up.”  Ezekiel 28:2. Pride goes before a fall.

3.)  The king went insane when his pride got the best of him, but God used the 7 years of insanity to bring him to a point where he, “he knew that the Most High God rules in the kingdom of men, and appoints over it whomever He chooses. Daniel 5:21.  God will often allow those who would be saved to experience difficulty and strife to lead them in the path of righteousness and faith

For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.”

Hebrews 12;6

The point of this sermon is found in these words:

“But you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, although you knew all this.

Daniel 5:22

Daniel does not refer to Belshazzar as king anymore because he knows he is a mere man about to meet his end.  His own actions and rebellion brought the wrath of God upon himself even though he knew the stories and godly life of his grandfather. How many of us have led a reckless life knowing the truth about God given us by a saintly mother, father, grandmother, grandfather?

So before the king meets his doom, he is given the opportunity to know the truth. And because of this truth, he will finally, but too late, acknowledge the God of heaven.  It is even so at the time of the end when every knee will bow and acknowledge Jesus and God before their destruction:

For it is written:

As I live, says the Lord,
Every knee shall bow to Me,
And every tongue shall confess to God.”

Romans 14:11.

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Daniel Interprets the Handwriting

Daniel begins to describe the events of the evening and reads the words to the king:

“And this is the inscription that was written:

MENE,MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.

Daniel 5;25

The frightened King wonders what these words mean.  Daniel immediately reveals the meaning:

 This is the interpretation of each word. MENE: God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it;  TEKEL: You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting;  PERES: Your kingdom has been divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.”

Daniel 5:26-28

Just as predicted in Daniel 2 through the frightening image given to Belshazzar’s defiant grandfather, the kingdom of Babylon fell and was given that night over to the dual kingdom of the Medes and the Persians. Babylon had fallen in a single night!

That night as confirmed by history was October 2,  538 BC; not with a long war, but suddenly. So it will be with the Babylon of Revelation.  Its demise will be quick and sudden. The reason for its fall will be the same as literal Babylon i.e. it heart being lifted up in defiance of the God’s word and the “fornication” of the sacred with the pagan worship practices that take away the glory intended only for God.

And you have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven. They have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you and your lords, your wives and your concubines, have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone, which do not see or hear or know; and the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified.

Daniel 5:23

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Babylon’s demise predicted by Isaiah

The fall of Babylon was prophetical in more places of scripture than just Daniel alone.   Isaiah gives us more information that is also relevant to the fall of the Babylon of Revelation.  Isaiah described and named the person who would bring Babylon down over 150 years before it happened.

Even while the feast was going on, the fall of Babylon had begun.  The Babylonians had felt safe in their city.  The River Euphrates, which ran through the city, provided a constant source of water. The walls were impregnable.  There was plenty of food stored up for a long siege.  The Babylonians knew that the army of the Medes and Persians was on the outside, but they felt secure. However, Cyrus, the commander of the Medes and Persians, performed an ingenious engineering feat. He had his soldiers divert the River Euphrates. Then he marched his army through the river bed underneath the wall of the city and through the inside gates which had been left open by the drunken Babylonians.  Thus the words of Isaiah written over 150 years ahead of time came to fulfillment:

“Thus says the Lord to His anointed, To Cyrus, whose right hand I have held— To subdue nations before him And loose the armor of kings, To open before him the double doors, So that the gates will not be shut:

Isaiah 45:1

If the gates had not been left open, the army of Cyrus would have been annihilated by the Babylonians from atop the inner walls that lined the river. In the same way, the great river Euphrates will be dried up to let in the conquering army.

the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.”…Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared.

Revelation 9:14, 16:12

The Babylon of Revelation:

In the last days, spiritual Babylon will commit acts similar to literal Babylon.  The cup of God’s indignation will fill up and Babylon will fall.  But, the Babylon of the last days is much more powerful and universal in its deceptive powers.   Babylon is opposed to God in word and action.  It attempts to deceive as many people as possible.  Its influence can be felt world wide. It does this by appearing to be on God’s side.  We have been warned by Jesus and Paul that this deception is so great that only complete faith in God and His word will counter act its bewitching powers:

For false christs and false prophets will rise and show signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.

Mark 13:22

 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 

2 Corinthians 11: 13-14

The deception of Babylon cannot be overcome by sight but must come in obedience to God by leaving Babylon and trusting in Him and His word alone.  God does not attempt to reform Babylon but rather asks His people to come out of her.

Today, she sits on many waters. We have learned from Revelation 17:15 that her influence is worldwide.  It is over peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues.

God refers to her as the mother of harlots.  She passes on her sins to her children who become harlots themselves drunken by the wine of apostasy and apathy:

MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT,
THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS
AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS
OF THE EARTH.

Revelation 17:5

It is not for Babylon that God sends his appeal. It is for those who are His people and naively have been pulled into her by her influence and mixture of truth and lies.

One day, God will remember the sins of ancient Babylon and the sins of spiritual Babylon who has made the earth drunk with her apostasy.

 “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication….And great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath.

Revelation 16:9

 As we study the next chapter of Daniel (Chapter 6), the lessons from false worship are center stage.  Throughout God’s word, it is the subject of false worship versus true worship. True worship is vital!  It cannot be on our own terms and feelings.  Babylon would make use feel this way, but Jesus is very clear:

But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.

John 4:23

Our world is in a fallen state. It is filled with apathy and apostasy.

Will you pray this prayer with me?

“Lord, if I am in Babylon, please take my hand and lead me out. Amen.”

 

 

 

 

Daniel and Revelation-Part 2-The Image and the Beasts

The image of Daniel 2 unlocks the Prophecy of Daniel 7 & Revelation 13

 “I, Daniel, was grieved in my spirit within my body, and the visions of my head troubled me.  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:

Daniel 7: 15:16

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Daniel 2 Review:

In Daniel 2, King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that he did not understand and it troubled him greatly.  None of the wise men, I call the “Fakers,” could help the King! But, God worked through Daniel and his three companions to remind the king of his dream and also give him the interpretation.

This interpretation comes straight from God to Daniel and needs “no private interpretation.”

Quite simply, Daniel told the king that four (4) great powers would arise.  He identified the first two in scripture as Babylon, then the dual kingdom of the Medes and Persians.  After Daniel’s time, the other two powers appear on the scene as history tells us: Greece (Belly and thighs of brass) and finally Rome (Legs of iron).

Rome was the ruling power when Jesus was on the earth teaching and dying for our sins.  It was a Roman decree and a Roman cross upon which our Lord died.  Rome continued to rule as the disciples went forth with the power of the Holy Spirit and built up the church.

Also, during this time, the church began to receive persecution as we will see later.

The king’s dream does not stop here.  The legs of iron were followed  by the feet and toes of iron and  clay.  These symbols identifie the fall of Rome and breaking into 10 divisions. Some of these countries are strong and some are weak just as clay is weak and iron is strong.   Three countries (powers) were annihilated  and there are no current countries that have roots in these three tribes:  The Heruli, Vandals, and Ostrogoths were the 3 countries (tribes) eliminated by Rome.

The prophecy ends with these startling words:

 And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile. As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay. 

And in the days of these kings  (The divisions of Rome or what we now call Europe) the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever Inasmuch as you saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold—the great God has made known to the king what will come to pass after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure.”

Daniel 2: 43-45

Never again will the old divisions of Rome (Europe) be joined together. Many have tried and failed, either through wars or marriage.

Over and over, the Bible talks of the 2nd coming as a time of destruction from the Lord.  More specifically, it is described as a time of surprise to the lost and utter destruction to planet earth.

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 3:10

It also includes the unsaved. Their fate is symbolized by what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah.:

…turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly;

2 Peter 2:6

“For behold, the day is coming,
Burning like an oven,
And all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble.
And the day which is coming shall burn them up,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
That will leave them neither root nor branch.

Malachi 4:1

So when all the kingdoms of the earth are destroyed, God will create a new heaven and a new earth.  The”Rock” and God’s kingdom will fill the whole earth.  God will be our God and we will be his people.

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.”

Isaiah 65:17

And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.

Revelation 21: 3

“The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure.” History has proved the dream is “certain” and we can rest in the knowledge the interpretation is correct.

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Daniel 7-Introduction

In Daniel 7, another dream or vision is given.  But, this time, it is given directly to Daniel.  Like king Nebuchadnezzar, the dream troubles Daniel and he does not know what it means. This time, it is interpreted by the attending angels.

Like Daniel 2, we will let the Bible interpret itself and then we will check it out through history.

In this vision of Daniel, we will see that God has a way of revealing the truth and the future in a way as to prepare the heart to receive it.

In Daniel 7 God uses the principle of repeating and expanding about the meaning of the prophecies.  We will see the same four powers of Daniel 2, but with more detail about the nature of the beast powers and we will see the addition of a terrible and strong entity arise that comes up (not from the sea) but from one of the powers described in Daniel 2.  It does not get its power from conquering wars over people and multitudes (illustrated by the symbol of the sea)

This vision of Daniel 7 is like meat and not milk.  It will be new to many who read this and you might not be ready to receive it or digest it.  But, the words are certain and are supported by the Bible and history.  As we begin, let’s pray for the Spirit of Truth and let the story reveal itself to us.  Truth from God’s word is always meant for good, for life, and for comfort.  Keep in mind, we have a loving and forgiving Savior who desires us to find peace and assurance in Him and his revelation.

OK?  Let’s begin.

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Daniel 7-Part 1

The book of Daniel 7 is about 4 animals (kingdoms) that give fear and wonder to Daniel.  Daniel 2 was about four metals (kingdoms). But, in Daniel 7, Daniel is particularly interested in  the fourth beast and the little horn power.  This is the first time we see this “little horn power” in scripture.  The interpretation is given to Daniel and it goes far beyond the time he is living even until the coming judgment of planet earth.

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.

Daniel 7:1

This first verse is important because it gives the time and Daniel’s dream.  The first year of Belshazzar would be 540 BC.

Here is what Daniel saw that year:

“I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the Great SeaAnd four great beasts came up from the sea, each different from the other.”

Verse 2 and 3

As the beasts are described, they look something like below.  Very strange!  Wouldn’t you agree?  They are animals with something unusual about each.

When we read and study the Bible, we should read it as literal unless there is some overall reason to apply symbolism.  Here we have good reason to apply the rule of symbolism because of the unusual and unimaginable description of the beasts. Even more compelling is the fact that there is an interpretation of the beasts given by the attending angels. To think in literal terms would lose the message God is giving. Is that a fair statement?  I will explain as we go along.

To help us with the beginning of this prophecy, let’s look at some passages that unlock the symbolic meaning of this prophecy and others.  In Daniel’s vision, he is seeing “the four winds stir up the Great Sea.” 

What does the four winds and the Great Sea represent? We can get our answer from Revelation where these same beasts appear.  Daniel explains Revelation and vice versa.  Perhaps, this is why the book of Daniel ends with these words,

“But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end.”

Daniel 12: 4

The book of Revelation had to be written and its message understood in the light of Daniel and history before these books could be “opened” 

Revelation describes the four winds in this passage:

After these things I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree…”Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.”

Revelation 7:1, 3

Here is a picture of 4 angels symbolically holding back winds that would harm the earth, sea, or trees. What does that sound like? Revelation does not leave any doubt

From this passage in Revelation, we can see that the 4 winds represent turmoil, strife, war, and destruction.  Another passage supports this interpretation:

 Thus says the Lord of hosts:

“Behold, disaster shall go forth
From nation to nation,
And a great whirlwind shall be raised up
From the farthest parts of the earth.”

Jeremiah 25:32

Even more important is the self-interpretation from this chapter about the beasts.  In its interpretation we can see that logically the winds and sea would indeed represent nations arising out of turmoil and wars:

What are the four beasts?  Let’s let the angel of Daniel 7 tell us:

“Those great beasts, which are four, are four kings which arise out of the earth.”

Daniel 7:17

If four kings or kingdoms arise, where do they come from?  The sea of people and the winds of war.

So early in this prophecy, we can conclude that Daniel is seeing four kingdoms arise from the many people and the results of conquering wars.  King Nebuchadnezzar also saw these four kingdoms:  Babylon, Medes/Persia, Greece, and Rome.  Then Rome is divided into 10 kingdoms (toes in Daniel 2 and heads in Daniel 7).  It is in the days of these 10 kingdoms (countries) that our Lord returns. Never in history could mankind see how close the 2nd coming is until these books were opened.

Image result for Comparison of Daniel 2 and daniel 7

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Daniel 7 goes on to describe the four beasts in more detail. They correspond to the four metals of Daniel 2, but God is adding more detail and explanation.

 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.

Daniel 7: 4

2347-1st-Beastx220

The wings on the lion represent the rapidity by which Babylon conquered its foes under king Nebuchadnezzar.  But, the wings are plucked and a man’s heart is given to it.  The boldness of the Lion wanes as it comes to a close of its earthly domination.  The man’s heart compared to the Lion illustrates the weakness that came about as it lay dormant and exposed caused by wealth and luxury.

Image result for images of ancient babylon and the lion

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It is now a perfect target for the next power to arise and take its place.  This power is the dual kingdom of the Medes and the Persians and is represented by the bear that raised itself up on one side and had three ribs between its teeth.

And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh.

Daniel 7:5

1198-2ndBeastx94

Eventually, the Persians dominated the kingdom and became stronger than the  Medes.  Like a bear putting his weight on his strong side, the Persians came up “last” as we will see in the prophecy in the 8th Chapter.  The Persians also become the dominant power.  The command to devour much flesh was obeyed and it left nothing but three bones.  These represent the three conquests of the Medes and Persians:  Babylon, Lydia, and Egypt

This power represented by the bear ruled from the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus in 538 BC to the battle of Arbela in 331 BC.  A time span of  207 years.  It fell to the next kingdom represented by the four-headed leopard with four wings of a fowl,

After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it.

Daniel 7:6

1200-3rdBeastx94

If two wings represent speed, then 4 wings on the quick-footed leopard must represent an extremely rapid course of conquests for the next kingdom of Greece under Alexander the Great.  This corresponds with the Daniel 2 prophecy and history.

Alexander has no parallel in historical annals for suddenness and rapidity.

Rollin, Ancient History, b.15, sec.2, gives the following brief synopsis of Alexander’s marches:-

“From Macedonia to the Ganges, which river Alexander nearly approached, is computed at least eleven hundred leagues. Add to this the various turnings in Alexander’s marches; first, from the extremity of Cilicia, where the battle of Issus was fought, to the temple of Jupiter Ammon in Libya; and his returning from thence to Tyre, a journey of three hundred leagues at least, and as much space at least for the windings of his route in different places; we shall find that Alexander, in less then eight years, marched his army upward of seventeen hundred leagues [or more than fifty-one hundred miles], without including his return to Babylon”

Alexander the Great succeeded his father Philip II at age 20 and lived to reign only about 11 1/2 years more.  He died at age 32.  His life spent in the fast lane of wars and debauchery.

The four heads of the leopard represent  the division of Alexander’s empire among his four leading generals:

Cassander (Macedon and Greece in the west)

Lysimachus (Thrace and parts of Asia on the Hellespont and Bosphorus in the North

Ptolemy (Egypt, Lydia, Arabia, Palestine, and Coele Syria in the south)

Seleucus (Syria and all the rest of Alexander’s dominions in the east.)

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Next to arise on the world scene is Rome illustrated as the “dreadful” and terrible beast.”  It was different from the other powers in a way that is more than mere appearances.

After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns.

Daniel 7: 7

There is not a beast in nature that Daniel can use to describe this fourth beast and how “dreadful and terrible” it is.  It’s great teeth devour and “brakes” to pieces the other countries.  It has  10 horns that correspond to the 10 toes of part iron and part clay of Daniel 2.

fourth beast

The nature of Rome was cruel.  They perfected the tortuous death of crucifixion believed to have been invented by the Persians.  Death by crucifixion could last up to 6 days!  Rome merciless stamped on and conquered all that would oppose it.

It was on a cruel Roman cross that Jesus took the shamefulness of our sins upon himself.  This act by the Creator was the ultimate demonstration of the sacrificial love for His creation.  It was part of the good news.  But, the fact that Jesus arose a victor over the death of the cross that the good news message is most nearly complete.  The other part of the good news is that Jesus will one day return to change us and to rescue us forever from the pull and presence of sin.  The good news cannot be captured by a list of events in the life of Jesus.   it is an experience initiated and propelled by the Lord and the work of the Holy Spirit.

Like Daniel, let’s turn our attention to the little horn that arose:

And of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows.

Daniel 7:20

Who was this power that captured the attention of Daniel?  This horn had eyes and a mouth that spoke great things and was more stout than the others.

This horn displaces three horns and speaks great things.  Like the 10 toes of Daniel’s image, it is in the day’s of these kings, that God will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed.  His kingdom will consume the entire earth.  This is the second coming of Jesus!

Revelation 13 is a composite of the beasts found in Daniel 7:

Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name.  Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion

Revelation 13: 1,2

Image result for image of Revelation 13

This little horn power that speaks great things exists today! It will bring the final deception of many people on this earth.  It is the beast of Revelation 13. In the next post, we will discover the identity of the little horn and how it is described in Revelation 13 as the Beast that the “whole world wonders after.”

Despite the little horn’s power, we can trust in the One who is greater.  Terrible times will come, but we can find peace in our Lord both day and night.

“By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me— a prayer to the God of my life.”

Psalm 42:8

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Daniel & Revelation-Part 1 A Dream of the Future

“When all this comes true—and it surely will—then they will know that a prophet has been among them.”

Ezekiel 33:33

Have you ever had a dream you could not remember? Did you feel that the dream was very important, but you just could not remember it?

This is exactly what happened to an ancient king.  His name was King Nebuchadnezzar.  In his second year as king he “had dreams” which troubled him so much that he could not sleep.  His story is found in Daniel 2.

The Fakers

He needed help in remembering his dream so he sent for the people who claimed to know about dreams and spiritual matters:

Then the king gave the command to call the magicians, the astrologers, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans to tell the king his dreams. So they came and stood before the king. And the king said to them, “I have had a dream, and my spirit is anxious to know the dream.”

Daniel 2: 2-3

These wise men tried to impress the king so they spoke in his language “Aramaic” and made a simple request,

“Tell your servants the dream, and we will give the interpretation.”

Daniel 2:4

Here is the first sign, these guys were fakes.  If they were so knowledgeable of matters of the spirit, etc., why did they not know ahead of time that the king did not remember the dream?  They were not even good listeners because the king was anxious to “know the dream.”  This meant he couldn’t remember the dream!

They were anxious to give an interpretation and get back to whatever they were doing, but they did not realize that the true God of heaven would soon separate the true prophets from the false prophets.

These men had something new thrown at them.  The king had never before asked them to tell him the dream.  Usually, he would tell them a dream and they would interpret.  Interpretation is easy.  You can make it up so it sounds plausible. But reading the mind of someone else is something altogether different.  Only God has that ability.

“My decision is firm: if you do not make known the dream to me, and its interpretation, you shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made an ash heap.  However, if you tell the dream and its interpretation, you shall receive from me gifts, rewards, and great honor. Therefore tell me the dream and its interpretation.”

Daniel 2:5-6

They couldn’t believe what they were hearing so they requested again that the king would tell them the dream,

 “Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will give its interpretation.”

Daniel 2:7

But the king was wise to their tricks and he said,

“I know for certain that you would gain time, because you see that my decision is firm: if you do not make known the dream to me, there is only one decree for you! For you have agreed to speak lying and corrupt words before me till the time has changed. Therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that you can give me its interpretation.”

Daniel 2:8-9

The fakers then informed the king that his request was not fair.  But, unwittingly they said a couple of things that were true:

“There is not a man on earth who can tell the king’s matter; therefore no king, lord, or ruler has ever asked such things of any magician, astrologer, or Chaldean.”

Verse 10

Truth #1-There IS no man “on earth” who can help the king.  Only the Omnipotent God of heaven has the answers about the future.

“…there is no other who can tell it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.”

Verse 11

Truth #2 -The “gods” do not dwell with flesh.  Why?  Because they are not real.  They are not alive.  They are dumb idols, but the Creator Himself would one day become flesh and dwell among flesh.  In fact, He would come in the flesh:

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:14

None of this mattered to the king. He was extremely angry.  He was furious and made a decree to have all the wise men killed. In the king’s mind, he knew they were all fake, they would attempt to deceive him and therefore they were useless to him.

 For this reason the king was angry and very furious, and gave the command to destroy all the wise men of Babylon. So the decree went out, and they began killing the wise men; 

Verse 12-13

In today’s world, there are many who claim to know more than they really do and surprisingly there are many who know the true God who are given wisdom by Him.  They are confident and humble in their knowledge and wisdom.  Daniel was such a man.

True Prophets

Daniel asked the king for more time, which was obviously granted even though the fakers wanted time too, but I think the king had heard of the God of Daniel and gave them extra time expecting they would deliver.

Daniel went back to his three friends and they had a prayer session and sought God.

“Then Daniel went to his house, and made the decision known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions, that they might seek mercies from the God of heaven concerning this secret, so that Daniel and his companions might not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. Then the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. So Daniel blessed the God of heaven.”

Verse 17-19

These four men, asked for mercies regarding the secret.  The secret was revealed to Daniel.  His first action?  “Bless the God of heaven.”  May we never be in such a haste that we fail to stop to thank our Creator for His mercies.  There is a blessing for us when we take time to thank God.

Daniel’s prayer of blessing to the God of heaven is below. In his blessing, he describes God’s abilities.

Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
For wisdom and might are His.
And He changes the times and the seasons;
He removes kings and raises up kings;
He gives wisdom to the wise
And knowledge to those who have understanding.
He reveals deep and secret things;
He knows what is in the darkness,
And light dwells with Him.

“I thank You and praise You,
O God of my fathers;
You have given me wisdom and might,
And have now made known to me what we asked of You,
For You have made known to us the king’s demand.”

Verses 20-23

Notice the things Daniel confirms about God:

1.) Wisdom belongs to God

2.) He changes “times” and “seasons”

3.) He sets up kings and removes kings

4.) He gives wisdom to the wise  (Notice who gets the wisdom.  It is the wise! Who gets the knowledge?  Those who have understanding!)

5.) He reveals secret things (This fits with our opening verse from Amos 3:17-He reveals His secrets to His servants the prophets.)

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The Prophets Work

Next, Daniel intercedes for the wise men, even the fakers!  He could have just saved himself and his three friends, but the character trait of the person who knows the true God of heaven is to save life, not destroy it, even if the “wise men” are fakers.

Therefore Daniel went to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to destroy the wisemen of Babylon. He went and said thus to him: “Do not destroy the wise men of Babylon; take me before the king, and I will tell the king the interpretation.”

Verse  24

Daniel is taken in before king Nebuchadnezzar.  The king asks,

“Are you able to make known to me the dream which I have seen, and its interpretation?”

Verse 26

Before Daniel answers the king, he demonstrates, with power, the comparison between the fakers and the true God in heaven.

“The secret which the king has demanded, the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, and the soothsayers cannot declare to the king.  But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days.”

Verse 27

Daniel has a mini-sermon before he starts to reveal to the king what he wants to know.  The mini-sermon is this:  There is a God in heaven (He is real).  He reveals secrets or things that man on earth would not know.  These secrets are given to man through God’s servants the prophets.  It is not only for the prophets benefit, but also it is for the benefit of the ones who are hearing the message from God through His prophets.

I can image the king on the edge of his seat.  He can sense through Daniel’s confidence that what he is about to hear is truth and there is no guile (falsehood or fakery) from the mouth of this prophet of God.  It is one man (Daniel) and his God (Jehovah) in comparison to the many astrologers, magicians, and soothsayers.

Truth does not come through the majority.  It comes from the God of heaven and His prophets. It has always been a testimony to the power of God, that one with God is stronger than the majority.

Daniel begins to explain the dream:

Your dream, and the visions of your head upon your bed, were these: As for you, O king, thoughts came to your mind while on your bed, about what would come to pass after this; and He who reveals secrets has made known to you what will be.  But as for me, this secret has not been revealed to me because I have more wisdom than anyone living, but for our sakes who make known the interpretation to the king, and that you may know the thoughts of your heart.

Verse 28-30

The dream is for the benefit of both the prophet (who makes known the interpretation) and the one who is receiving the interpretation so that the thoughts of the heart may be revealed.  Notice the phrase:

“for OUR sakes…”  

What a wise and powerful Creator!  Daniel is telling the king that God’s revealing of the dream and God’s secrets are for both the speaker and the hearer!

When I read Bible prophecy, it has a strange effect of letting me know where my heart stands with God.  The effect can be fearful or it can be comforting.  All people have the invitation to move from fearful (lost) to comforting (saved from the penalty of sin i.e., eternal death)

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Daniel tells they king the topic of the dream.  It is about

“….what will be in the latter days.”

“The term “latter days” is simple to understand in the context of the dream.  Since this dream will be about the “latter days” of the kingdom of Babylon and its kings we can use it in that context.  But, it is also about the end of all kingdoms as well.  So the “latter days” can also refer to the end of time and this earth as we know it.

The Dream Revealed

To the amazement of the King, Daniel begins to recount the dream for him.  As he talks, the king starts to remember and cold chills run throughout his body:

“You, O king, were watching; and behold, a great image! This great image, whose splendor was excellent, stood before you; and its form was awesome.  This image’s head was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighsof bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay.You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.”

 “This is the dream.”

Verses 31-36

An artist’s idea of the image the king saw:

Daniel 2

The king must have been amazed as he recalled each detail.   Before the king could say anything, Daniel began the interpretation.  We will let Daniel interpret for us.  Then we will look back at history to see if it was true.  Finally, we will look into the future using the foundation of the interpretation.

Here is how Daniel interpreted the king’s dream as God showed it to him:

“Now we will tell the interpretation of it before the king. You, O king, are a king of kings. For the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory; and wherever the children of men dwell, or the beasts of the field and the birds of the heaven, He has given them into your hand, and has made you ruler over them all—you are this head of gold.”

Verses 36-38

So what does the head of Gold represent?  Daniel said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “you are this head of gold.”

Nebuchadnezzar and the kingdom of Babylon are represented in both time and space as the “head of gold.”  Could there be any other interpretation with something so plainly spoken?

The King must have been proud as he thought, even if just for a moment, that he was the top and the most valuable metal in the image.  But, he was soon to be disappointed.  Daniel continues with the interpretation of the great image,

The Interpretation

But after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours; then another, a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth.

Verse 39

As great and wonderful as was King Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon, it would fall to another.  Not just another, but an inferior kingdom. Just as silver is of less value and strength as gold, the next kingdom was to be inferior.

The Second Kingdom

Does the Bible tell us who this next kingdom was to be?  Yes!  The story can be found in Daniel 5.  It is an interesting story about Belshazzar (The son of Nebuchadnezzar and the then current king of Babylon) The king and his subjects were having a feast with debauchery, and disrespect for things God had made holy.  During the drunken sacrilegious feast, a man’s finger appears and writes a message on the wall.

This supernatural act made the king’s “countenance” change.  Like his father Nebuchadnezzar, he was troubled as to what it meant so he called for the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers.   Remember them?  They are the fakers.   Just as they could not see Nebuchadnezzar’ s dream. They were unable to read the writing and make an interpretation.  Sound familiar?

handwriting on the wall

Fortunately for the king, the queen remembered Daniel.  She told the king,

There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the Spirit of the Holy God. And in the days of your father, light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, were found in him; and King Nebuchadnezzar your father—your father the king—made him chief of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans,and soothsayers. Inasmuch as an excellent spirit, knowledge, understanding, interpreting dreams, solving riddles, and explaining enigmas were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar, now let Daniel be called, and he will give the interpretation.”

Daniel 5:11-12

Daniel’s interpretation confirms what he had told King Nebuchadnezzar with the image of God falling to an inferior kingdom,

And this is the inscription that was written:

MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.

This is the interpretation of each word. MENE: God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it; TEKEL: You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting; PERES: Your kingdom has been divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.

Daniel 5:26-28

The king was slain and Babylon fell to the dual kingdom of the Medes and Persians led by Cyrus and Darius.

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

The Medes and the Persians were represented by the arms and shoulders of silver.  (Two arms-two kingdoms)

It is interesting and shows the foreknowledge of God as to how Babylon fell and the way the enemy was able to get into the walled city.

Also, before Cyrus was born, God called him by name as the conqueror of Babylon

Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut…

Isaiah 45:1

So how was Cyrus and Darius able to get into the walled city of Babylon?

*They dried up the river Euphrates (a familiar prophetic term in Revelation! )! This diverted the river that ran under the walls and through the city.  Along the river within the city was another set of walls with gates. The citizens were protected should someone swim in under the outer walls.  The enemy swimmers would then need to get through the second set of gates.   But on the night of Babylon’s fall, the gates had been left open due to drunken feast!  So the Medes and Persians were able to walk under the walls and up the banks through the leaved gates and into the city!

God is so amazing!  He knows the end from the beginning!

* See pages 265, 266 of Volume 1 of the book The Great Events by Famous Historians in the chapter on “Conquests by Cyrus The Great B.C. 538,” by George Grote. — University Edition, copyrighted 1905, by The National Alumni.
See also The Golden Age, as of June 7, 1922. page 572.

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Third Kingdom

But, there was to arise yet a third kingdom represented by the belly and thigh of brass.

“And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth.”

Verse 39

The deciding point in the fall of the Persians
was
reached on the field of Arbela, B.C. 331, in which the Grecians,  were entirely victorious; and Alexander
became absolute lord of the Persian empire.

More could be said on this third kingdom, but let’s move on.  We will talk more about each kingdom as we study the prophecies that provide more detail.

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The Fourth Kingdom

The events really pick up when the powerful fourth kingdom comes on the scene,

And the fourth kingdom shall be as strong as iron, inasmuch as iron breaks in pieces and shatters everything; and like iron that crushes, that kingdom will break in pieces and crush all the others. 

Verse 40

History tells us that this fourth power of legs of iron is none other than the “iron monarchy” of Rome.  Rome became the world power after it crushed the third kingdom of Greece.

Rome was in power during the life of Christ on earth and continued on for hundreds of years afterward.

4th Kingdom-Forever Division

But the prophecy does not stop there,  there was to be a time when this iron would mix with clay (partly strong and partly weak substances)

It is interesting that Rome eventually was divided into 10 divisions by the invading nomadic tribes.  These divisions became the modern day countries of Europe.  Three of these 10 divisions were eventually annihilated so that there was only 7, but even those events are part of the prophecy were will study later in Daniel and Revelation.  Those divisions of Rome are as follows:

10 Toes or Divisions of Rome
Heruli
Ostrogoths
Vandals
Franks
Visigoths
Burgundians
Lombards
Anglo Saxons
Alamanni
Seuvi

map_europe476 (1)

Daniel continues on and informs the king of something that stands to this day.  These divisions of Rome would attempt to unite, but as iron does not mix with clay, they would never unite:

 Whereas you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; yet the strength of the iron shall be in it, just as you saw the iron mixed with ceramic clay. And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile. As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay. 

Verses 41-43

This 4th kingdom would be divided and would never reunite.  Throughout recent history, there have been attempts to reunite the old divisions of  Europe, but it has always failed and it always will because the God of Heaven has spoken. Those who have tried were:

 Charlamagne, 8th Century;

Charles V l6th Century;

Louis XIV l5th Century;

Napoleon, l9th Century;

Kaiser Wilhelm and Hitler, 20th Century.

All of these men invested enormous
resources and countless lives in their efforts to unite Europe, but each one failed. Even today the leaders
of Europe are trying to unite as one, but God says this will never happen!

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Our Day-The Soon Coming Eternal Kingdom

Daniel ends the interpretation of the dream with a dramatic ending!

You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.

Verse 34, 35

Jesus is the Rock that was cut out without hands.

For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.

I Corinthians 10:4

Daniel takes the king and the reader of this chapter to a time when God would set up his kingdom that would never end:

 And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.

Verse 44

My Friends, we are living in the “days of these kings.” The old divisions of Rome!

When Jesus returns the earth is melted and no trace of anything left on this earth will be found.  Then He will make a new heaven and a new earth.

About 500 years before Jesus came to this earth the first time as a lamb to pay for the sins of a planet in rebellion, we see a prophecy concerning his second coming when he comes to “break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms.” It will stand forever!

 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

Matthew 24:30

When Jesus returns the earth passes away.

Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

Matthew 24:35

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

II Peter 3:10

And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”

Mark 4: 62

When God destroys the earth, he creates a new heaven and a new earth that will last forever:

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth;
And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.

Isaiah 65:17

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Daniel tells the king,

“The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure.”

Verse 45

After hearing Daniels recalling of the king’s forgotten dream and the interpretation, there wells up in the heart of this heathen king both fear and joy!

Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face, prostrate before Daniel

Verse 46

This is what each of us should do as we see that God is in control of the history of planet earth and of our own lives.  He knows the exact number of hairs on your head.  He is all powerful but most important, He loves each one of us so much as to send His son to pay for the sin we have committed.

His law, that can never be changed, shows we are sinners and deserve to die for eternity, but God makes a substitutionary sacrifice (atonement) for us so that we might live and enjoy the greatest gift he could have given us:  Life to the uttermost!

The king understood that there is a God in Heaven who reveals secrets

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

Verse 47

I hope you have been blessed by this study.  Next, we will look at a vision given to Daniel that repeats this dream but expands it.  He will receive other visions that will demonstrate that God knows the end from the beginning.

Lord Teach Me About Hell-Conclusion-Personal Experience

God’s Character Maligned

Since my conversion to Christ over 40 years ago I have learned through God’s word (and practical experience) that our beliefs about God’s character affect our relationship with Him and our salvation.  I know people who turned away from God when a loved-one died either suddenly or slowly over time.  Maybe you do too. Some have stopped associating with Christians, praying, or reading their Bible because they feel God allowed (or caused) something in their life to make them sick, uncomfortable, unhappy or inconvenienced them.

If we believe God is angry and looks for reasons to keep us from peace or repays evil for evil we are sure to rebel.  Lucifer’s original rebellion in heaven included the charge that God’s character and actions were harsh, secretive and selfish.  Listen closely to the lies and charges of Satan in the garden as he worked to convince Eve about a false picture of God’s personality.

Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.  For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Genesis 3: 4-5

To paraphrase:  “Eve, forget this idea of dying….You are going to live forever.  God is someone who is not telling you all the truth.  He knows your eyes are going to be open when you eat this fruit and you will be like God Himself!  He’s holding back!  He is not as good as you think!”  Sadly, these are often the general thoughts of people who do not know God personally.

It is important that we know God’s character and His word, especially in the context of His temperament and our troubles.

Understanding and knowing God the Father and Jesus is vital to our salvation.

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”

John 17:3

Jesus Clears up the Wrong Ideas About God

To have a false conception of God is dangerous and will lead to death.   It is Satan’s desire to give the world a wrong impression of the only true God and Jesus. By doing so, the enemy turns people away from the source of peace and happiness.  If the storms of life come to the professed Christian and there is no trust (faith) in the goodness and mercy of God, apostasy is sure to come.

To “know” someone means you have an understanding of who they are.  After spending time with them, you learn to either trust them or not.  You know their heart; their emotions; and how they feel about you as a person.  Knowing someone takes time and events.  That is often why people wait about marrying.  They want to know the person and how they will respond to things like their family.

Let’s consider another question:

Is Jesus different from the God of the Old Testament? The answer is a resounding, “No!”

By the time Jesus arrived on the scene, the professional teachers and leaders had made God out to be something He wasn’t.  The life of Jesus was a demonstration of what God is like….in the flesh!  His actions showed us the will and the character of the Father.  God loved us and wanted us to know Him, so He sent Jesus on a mission of salvation that included the opportunity to know the Creator.

Jesus’ coming as a babe, a youth, a young man and an adult demonstrates how important it is to know the true God and Jesus Christ whom He sent.

Yes! Jesus came to this earth to show to people the true nature of God.  He said, to his disciples, if you have seen me, you have seen the Father:

Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

John 14:9

“By coming to dwell with us, Jesus was to reveal God both to men and to angels. He was the Word of God,—God’s thought made audible. In His prayer for His disciples He says, “I have declared unto them Thy name,”—“merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,”—“that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:26)

Desire of Ages p. 19

God desires for his Creation to know him.  Knowledge of God is both power and peace.  We are invited by Jesus to learn of him. When we take up the invitation, we will know more about God the Father.

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

Did you know Jesus was this kind of God? He wants us to learn from Him and about Him. Jesus is the perfect reflection of what God the Father is like!

Jesus offers us rest for our souls if, by faith, we come to Him. He is gentle and lowly in heart!  His burden is light and His yoke easy! How many Christians think the opposite?  Sadly, so many, even those who claim to be His followers, fail to go to Jesus when trouble comes…instead, they go to pieces!


Unending Torture in Hell Teaching Makes Unbelievers

 Someone once said that the concept of unending torture has turned more people into atheists than most anything else.  I don’t know if this is true, but it certainly must have a negative effect on a true understanding of God.

When I was young, I could see the gentle Jesus in the experience of my grandmother, but something would change all that and I would begin to see an angry God, with arms crossed, frowning at me for being such a terrible person. In my mind, He was looking for ways to make sure I was left out of heaven and burned at the stake.  As I got older, I went into total unbelief.  The Bible and God became a fairy tale created by men to keep society in line and have power over people. I hope the following will show how wrong I was and encourage you to search out God for yourself.  Here is how it started.

When I was about 8 years old, my saintly grandmother sent me to Vacation Bible School.  I recall loving everything about it except for the last day.

I liked the teachers and the programs.  The cookies, milk, and rest time in the church were enjoyable.  Of particular joy to me was the arts and crafts where I was making a jewelry box for my beautiful mother. She was a single mom (My Dad left when I was 6 years old) and pleasing her was something I cherished. The jewelry box, made from a King Edwards cigar box, was carefully painted with a dark color and little small shells and decals carefully attached to it.  To this day, I can still smell the fresh paint on it!

On Friday, the parents were going to join us for cookies and milk and they would get to see what we had created.  I was so excited, but something would happen that would change my view of God for a very long time.  It would eventually turn me to unbelief and to embrace atheism.

As we prepared for our parents, the teachers told us that we were all going to gather in a room and listen to one of the elders of the church talk about God.  We sat around him on the floor with our legs crossed and our eyes bright with anticipation.

I can still recall his name.  It was Mr. Hale.  Mr. Hale wanted to know how many of us knew about God and how to have eternal life?  Only a couple of hands went up.  I was not sure, but I knew my grandmother would know.  She knows the Bible better than anybody! Maybe I should ask her tonight, I thought.

Mr. Hale then begin to tell us that we could have salvation and be free from the “horrors of hell” if we accepted Jesus as our Savior.  We should acknowledge it by responding to the preacher’s altar call on Sunday.  Then we should be baptized.  If we did, we would escape the “horrors of hell.”

Next, he began to describe hell as the place where “our flesh would almost melt, but it would keep burning.”  Our blood “would boil like hot water.  We would scream for mercy and find none.  This will go on forever and forever.”

I was scared.  This did not seem like the same God my grandmother was always describing in her stories.  Many of the kids began to sob.  Mr. Hale wanted us to raise our hands if we wanted to “go forward” when the preacher had the altar call on Sunday.  We all raised our hands!

As promised all of us kids went forward that next Sunday when the preacher made the altar call.  There were many “Amens!” and “Praise The Lords”  throughout the congregation.

After church, my grandmother seemed troubled instead of excited about my decision to be baptized and escape the “horrors of hell.” When we got home, she looked at me with those kind and understanding eyes and said these words, which many may think to be wrong, but looking back I think it was the wise counsel of a Godly woman who knew her Father well.

“Eddie, you are too young to know why you need to give yourself to God.  You don’t understand sin, repentance, and confession. When God brings conviction on you, you will know it.”

I was not baptized.

The description of hell by Mr. Hale was reinforced many Sundays afterward.  It may not have been described in such detail, but all the teachers and preachers said my soul was immortal and that it would spend eternity in one of two places:  Heaven with Jesus or Hell with the devil.

As I contemplated it, I began to see God as an angry old man waiting for me to make a big mistake so He could send me to the flames forever.  This was the God I knew for a long time as I tried to be good and earn God’s love.

After a while, the contradiction of my grandmother’s God and the God of Mr. Hale and the preachers led me to believe there is no God and perhaps the Atheists were right.  God is an invention of mankind to keep everyone in line and as a tool for power over the people.

Is God like Mr. Hale’s description or that of my Grandmother’s?  Is He like Jesus or like the strict destroying God of the Old Testament?  How do we reconcile the two?

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How Unending Torture Maligns God’s Character

We have seen in this series that Jesus did not teach more about hell than heaven (Did Jesus Really Teach More About Hell Than Heaven?) This is a false statement meant to insinuate the “horrors of hell” are so bad that you should want to come to Jesus on the basis of fear.

As we studied verses that seem to indicate an everlasting fire, we discovered that context is important in understanding everlasting fire….It is everlasting punishment, not everlasting punishing.  The fire is everlasting in its effect, not its duration. Lord Teach Me About Hell-Part 2-Difficult Verses

We also saw that “hell” is a word used by the Hebrews and Greeks to signify the grave.  But, it is also the ultimate destruction of the sin problem at the end of time. This hell is hotter than any because it burns up the earth and all its elements.  Lord Teach Me About Hell-Part 3 Eternal Death Not Torture.

Now that we have sufficient proof about the ultimate fate of the lost, let’s consider the character of God further and why it makes no sense for our Creator to burn people without mercy or rest for all of eternity.

Some may think “torture” sounds like too strong of a word especially in the context of a Holy omnipotent God and Creator.  They will try to separate hell from God, but hell as described Mr. Hale cannot exist without an omnipotent God allowing it to.  Wouldn’t you agree?

What would you call it if you were burning constantly and no one was there to put out the flames or give you relief?  That is the highest form of torture someone could think up.  Imagine if our prison system used flames that kept the person alive while burning their tender skin as a form of punishment?  Would that be called torture?  Would it be justice?  What is its purpose other than cruel torture?

Let’s think this through.

The unsaved could be someone like uncle  Harry who never went to church with his wife and children because he was an unbeliever and life kept him busy and with different priorities.  By society’s standards he was a good man; never arrested nor did he break the law. He visited a few prostitutes when he was young private in the army.  At one time when he was younger, he secretly looked at pornography, but as he got older, he lost interest.  He pays His taxes.  He is faithful to his wife and loves his kids and grandkids, but he never professed Christ.  He just enjoyed life and saw it as a few good years then he would turn to dust.

One day uncle Harry dies of a heart attack from years of not taking care of himself. He enjoyed food so much that he could be described as a glutton.  In many cases, the preacher will talk about Harry as if he is in heaven enjoying his gardening with the Lord, but in the sermon at church the next Sunday, this same preacher will talk about salvation in Christ alone, which is true.   The preacher would never describe Harry as being lost and in eternal flames even though the congregation could put two and two together to come to some simple conclusions.

According to most preachers, Uncle Harry is lost and will be tortured without end for his bad decisions and sin.

This seems to be the philosophy of many who live on this planet.

Jesus said,

Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

Matthew 7:13-14

Did you notice that Jesus talks about a way that leads to destruction? This would have been the perfect time for Jesus to say that the broad way leads to hell that would burn forever, but no…it is destruction.  Uncle Harry got his desire of enjoying his short time of life on earth, but then it will be over.  He does not have an immortal soul.

The soul who sins shall die

Ezekiel 18:20

Jesus said that the lost soul would be destroyed

But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28

The hell here is the grave, but even if you wanted to think of it as the place of burning, the soul is destroyed!

Without a doubt, there are more on the path to “destruction” than those who are not.

Here is the first hint of the fate of the lost, the continued use of the word “destruction.”  “Destruction” and “Perish” are the favorite words used by Christ, Peter, and Paul to describe the fate of the lost (Collectively used 42 times).  This happens by fire, but there is no eternal life for the lost in flames.

True, only God can determine who is ultimately lost and who is saved, but Jesus gives us plenty of reasons to know the character and life of the saved compared the character and life of the lost.  Not all have death-bed conversion.  They are probably the minority.

“Wherefore by their fruits, ye shall know them. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.  Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘ I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

Matthew 7: 21-23

Notice, that even those who claim to “know” the Lord and done incredible works in the name of the Lord missed out because they practiced lawlessness.  These might be called hypocrites and religious. Their habits of sin showed they did not “know” the Lord.

At the other end of the spectrum are guys like Hitler and child molesters, and those who cursed and mocked God believing there was no accountability for their blasphemy.

If all are tortured if hot flames for eternity according to the Mr. Hale’s of the world.  Harry and Hitler (although hugely different in their lives) have the same fate and will live with no rest from the flames.  Every day is the same.  There are no lunch breaks, no sleeping, no vacations. no water.  No medications to help endure the pain.  Only intense, torturous non-stop pain and unending weeping.

Many teachers will try to minimize this by saying, “God does not send them to hell, they send themselves.”  But, even if it was so, it takes a miracle of God to keep them all alive so they can burn more.  It would take a miracle to keep the flesh from consuming.

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God’s Character is Longsuffering and Merciful

“I take no delight in the death of the wicked.”

Ezekiel 33:11

God does not want anyone to die or perish.

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

There’s that word again, “perish.”  God’s longsuffering with us means He desires more people to have life and not “perish.”

Our God does not torture.  He wants people to come to repentance so that they will not have to experience eternal death (non-existence).  Their fate (death, perish, destruction) is horrible enough. But to root out the seed of sin, God performs his “strange act” of eternal destruction.

Do you know God?  Your eternal life depends on it! We are invited to learn about Jesus.  This takes a personal experience.  It is His loving kindness and its demonstration on the cross that draw us to Him.

Lord, thank you for your word and the life of Jesus that teaches us about who you are.  May we each have an experience with you that will lead us to trust you more. Amen.

 

Lord Teach Me About Hell-Part 3 Eternal Death Not Torture

There is a hell, but is it like some teachers describe?

I once had a lively discussion with a relative about hell. When it seemed like we were going nowhere,  I asked her if she had asked the Lord to reveal to her, through His word, the truth  about hell.  She said, “No!”  It led me to think, do people really want to know what the Bible teaches about the ultimate fate of the lost or are they satisfied with the descriptions portrayed by well-meaning teachers and pastors.  What if we were to simply pray, “Lord Teach Me About Hell.”?

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Are the tortures of hell in line with the character of God and the many  teachings of the Bible about His great mercy and love?  Some preachers have said they need to preach hell to bring fear into the heart of a person so they will turn to Jesus. They conclude that anything other than an unending burning hell is letting the sinner off too easy.

Some hell-fire-and-brimstone preachers portray a God whose vengeance is so great that it is never satisfied, hence the non-ending torture. But, the Bible tell us that He takes “no pleasure” in the death of wicked.

 As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked

Ezekiel 33:11

If God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, He certainly would not take pleasure in their torture.


For the last few studies, we have discovered that Jesus taught more on the kingdom of God and heaven than he did about hell.  We also saw how many Bible verses used to support everlasting torture were simply misinterpreted in the light of the whole scripture and the character of God. The Bible is clear that the fate of the lost is eternal death.

Let’ now compare the terrible picture of people roasting in a fire that offers no hope and no relief for eternity with the character of God as revealed in the Bible and in the teachings of Jesus.

Is it true that non-ending torture is “justice” for the three score and ten (70) years of life?  Does a holy and just God give a sinner trillions and trillions of years of pain and torture in exchange for 70 years of life without Christ?

Is there something we have missed?

Lord Teach Me The Truth About Hell.

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Following are the two typical modern understandings about hell.  This is what a majority of protestant Christians believe.

View 1:  If you die and are unsaved (e.g. did not profess Christ), your immortal soul immediately (or after a quick judgment scene) goes to a place under the earth where the devil resides and your soul is tormented by blistering hot flames throughout eternity without end.  You will scream and desire to die, but you will stay alive in flames never finding relief.  This could be called the immediate and present Hell.

View 2:  If you die and are unsaved, at the end of time your immortal soul is judged at the Great White Throne judgment and your soul and body is cast into the lake of fire prepared for Satan and his angels where you are tortured by flames throughout eternity.  You will scream and desire to die, but you will stay alive in flames never finding relief.  We will call this future Hell.

The Catholic church throws in a couple of “holding” places such as purgatory and some talk about a place called “Abraham’s bosom.” There may be some other slight variations, but if you ask a Christian or a pastor about hell, this is very close to the answers given.  It is often softened up a bit to take out the idea of a Holy God torturing the unsaved by saying non-biblical things like, “The lost choose hell.”  Is that right?  Who in their right mind would choose to be tortured? The Bible teaches they are choosing death over eternal life not so much from a conscious choice, but rather unbelief in Jesus and the pull of the Holy Spirit to repent and turn away from the sins that lead to death.

The common idea with both basic views about hell involves non-stop burning and torture.  We often hear preachers say, “You will live eternally in one of two places.”  Is this true?  Do the lost also have eternal life?  Are their souls immortal?  What is tortured?  The soul? The body?  Both?

What does the Bible have to say about all this?

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Some will say,It is the immortal soul that is being punished not the body.  Of course, there is no biblical proof for this Also,it contradicts  those who support a literal interpretation of  the Rich Man and Lazarus where the rich man has a tongue and gets thirsty in the flames. He has a body!

Some will say, God is just and this is their fate.”  We can’t understand it and aren’t suppose to.”

Is this true?

It is true that our thoughts and our ways are not like His, but there are things He has revealed that we can know with certainty.“

The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, 

Deuteronomy 29:29

Is the fate of the lost one of those things revealed to us?

Yes! But we must understand it from ALL that has been revealed to us!

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The bible tells us that having life eternal is based on knowing God and having a relationship with Him.  We are drawn to Him as He is lifted up (Cross).  Is a torturing God, the One we want to get to know?  Or is God like a father who loves his child.  Does God use hell to scare us into coming to Him or does he draw us a different more divine way?

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”

John 17:3

Knowing God and Jesus Christ and their character is important in our experience and in our salvation from death.  To have a false conception of God is dangerous as we shall see.

We are not scared into a relationship with the Lord, He draws us with “lovingkindness.”

The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying:
“Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.

Jeremiah 31:3

It is the cross, not hell, that draws people to Jesus.

‘”…And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.  This He said, signifying by what death He would die.”

John 12:32-33

That day on a lonely hill dying on a rough wooden cross is the ultimate demonstration of the sacrifice and love God offers to all people. A clear view of the things leading up to the death of Jesus and the day He said,It is finished” will bring the sin weary to repentance, forgiveness, and salvation from eternal death.

What confuses me is that people get angry over this topic of unending torture.  It’s as if they want this type of fate for the lost.  Each person who is lost had a mother, dad, and perhaps a loving family.  Will they be remembered when the saved portion of the family gets to heaven?  How could it be heaven knowing Uncle Harry is burning in hell non-stop?

There is something missing in all this.  For the next few moments, lets look at the rest of the story.

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  The soul is not immortal.  only God has immortality.  The saved are not given immortality until  Christ returns.

If a soul can die, it is not immortal.

 Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die..”

Ezekiel 18:4

Only God has immortality!

I charge you to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ; and this will be made manifest at the proper time by the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

1 Timothy 6:14-16

We all die and do not get immortality until Jesus returns and we are changed and “put on” immortality then and not before.  IT IS ONLY WHEN JESUS RETURNS, THAT WE CAN CLAIM IMMORTALITY AND SAY THAT DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP IN VICTORY. IMMORTALITY IS NOT GIVEN AT DEATH.

Want to know a mystery about death that has been solved. Something God has revealed to us and our children?  Listen closely:

 “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changedIn a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, THEN shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.”

1 Corinthians 15: 51-54

Is this not as clear as a bell?  Immortality is “put on” when Jesus returns!  Until then we sleep in death.

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Eternal death, not torture, awaits the lost

“Death has come upon all men by the offence of one man. But, through grace and the gift of righteousness life came by Jesus Christ.”

Romans 5:12, 17

Wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 3:23.

Wages is something due to us for our work of sin.  Sin leads to death, not life. Both are mutually exclusive.  You can’t have both.  You must have one or the other. The gift of eternal life is reserved only for the saved.

He that has the son has life.  He that does not have the son does not have life. 

1 John 5:20

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16

Here is a simple straightforward comparison of what awaits the lost VS the saved:

Believes in Jesus = everlasting life

Not believing = perish (eternal death)

“He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life…”

John 3:36

Believes in the Son = everlasting life

Does not believe in the = shall not see life.

Man, nor his soul, is immortal.  As shown above, immortality is not given to the saved until Jesus returns and resurrects the saved:

The soul can be destroyed,

“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28

The body and soul are destroyed in hell (aka the grave).  It is not kept alive to suffer through out eternity. If there is a fear to be taught, it is the fear of both the body and the soul are forever destroyed, while the redeemed have a new immortal body and life without end.

As described before, the belief in God AND the resurrection of Jesus are both vital to receiving salvation from eternal death:

… 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

It was Paul’s goal to be raised from the dead…..Not to die and be with Him,

” if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Philippians 3:11

The mortal “puts on” immortality and death is no more when Jesus returns.

The dead in Christ are resurrected

 “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words”

1 Thessalonians 4: 15-18

Note:  Those who died in Christ and those who are alive when He returns start to “be with the Lord forever” when He returns.  So resurrection is our hope…Our eternity with the Lord does not start until He returns.

Jesus will raise the saved up in the last day.

“This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.

John 6:39

“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.

John 6:44

“Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

John 6:54

“Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

John 11:24

The teaching of resurrection as our hope s ancient.  Example: Job said,

“my redeemer lives and I will see God in the flesh in the latter day upon the earth.”

Job 19:25, 26

The resurrection is extremely important because we are lost if it doesn’t happen.

Our faith is futile without the resurrection. Our hope is in the return of Christ and the Resurrection, not in dying and floating off to heaven.

“And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise.For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.”

1 Corinthians 15:14-19

The Rich Man and Lazarus story does not include a resurrection and is clearly a parable because it comes at the end of a line of parables.  But, there was a resurrection of another Lazarus that clearly describes the state of those who die.  The event is described in John 11.  Here Jesus describes Lazarus’ death with sleep:

“Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may awake him out of sleep…Then said Jesus, unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.

John 11:14

Notice something else, when Jesus brought Lazarus back to life after being dead for 4 days, he did not say to him to come down, but rather come forth (v. 43). If Lazarus had been in heaven, he would have had many things to share, don’t you think?  Why is he silent?  It is because he was asleep.


The unjust have a resurrection too (after the millennium): 

                Resurrection of unjust.

“I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust.”

Act 24:15

Rest of the dead live again after the 1,000 years Rev. 20:4, 5

“And they lived and reigned with Christ for a[a]thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished.”

Revelation 20: 4, 5

The second death is the fate of the lost who are not part of the first resurrection, but rise in the 2nd resurrection. Revelation 20:6

“Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power…”

Revelation 20:6

At the end of all things, the saved may have died once, but they will never have to die again because they have been given immortality.  But the lost who died once, will die again fully aware that there death will be forever. This knowledge is their punishment and it creates wailing and gnashing of teeth.

At the end time, fire destroys the earth, Satan, and sinners:

Jesus comes a thief in the night in which the heavens, earth, elements, and all the works are burned up.

“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 3:10

Everlasting Destruction

“The Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.”

2 Thessalonians 1:8, 9

Wicked destroyed forever (Psalm 92:7, Psalm 9:5)

“When the wicked spring up like grass,
And when all the workers of iniquity flourish,
It is that they may be destroyed forever.”

Psalm 92:7

Death and hell grave are destroyed

“Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.”

Revelation 20:14

Fire comes down from God when the resurrected lost try surround the beloved city. This fire devours them. When something is consumed or devoured, there is nothing left.

“They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them.” 

Revelation 20:9

“For our God is a consuming fire.”

Hebrews 12:29

The Anti Christ (lawless one) is destroyed when Christ returns by the brightness of the Lord’s coming.

And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.” 

2 Thessalonians 2:8

(Read the preceding verses for context)

Wicked are burned up reducing them to nothing

“For behold, the day is coming,
Burning like an oven,
And all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble.
And the day which is coming shall burn them up,
Says the Lord of hosts,
“That will leave them neither root nor branch.”

Malachi 4:1

Satan is burned to ashes and shall never be anymore

“You defiled your sanctuaries
By the multitude of your iniquities,
By the iniquity of your trading;
Therefore I brought fire from your midst;
It devoured you,
And I turned you to ashes upon the earth
In the sight of all who saw you.”

All who knew you among the peoples are astonished at you;
You have become a horror,
And shall be no more forever”

Ezekiel 28:18, 19

So, scripture is clear, the wages of sin is death, not eternal life in burning flames.  There is a hell, but it is a work of eternal destruction. Even Satan’s fate is total destruction.  His end will wipe the universe clean of sin and its results.

Eternal life is given only to those who turn to Jesus and place their trust in Him. Life eternal is given to those who know Him and not about Him. It is all about Jesus.  He holds the keys to the grave and death:

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 1:18

Because we believe He can resurrect us and give us immortality, we have passed from death to life. I want to be part of the first resurrection, don’t you?

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.

John 5:24

I often wondered why God wipes away all tears. The passage in Revelation 21: 4, Revelation 7:17, Isaiah 25:8 are in the context of the end of time when all of God’s people arrive in heaven at the same time after the resurrection as desribed in 1 Thess. 4:15-18

The saints will spend their first day in heaven wondering about a loved one who didn’t make it. Then they will understand from the Lord Himself that they were lost and will never be anymore. There will be tears in heaven, but Jesus will literally and symbolically wipe away the tears.  He will explain and show them the many opportunities given them to receive eternal life as a free gift, but they refused.

Then all the saints will bow, throw their crowns, and proclaim

 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

Revelation 4:11

 

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Further Study:

Want to go deeper?  below is information for those who might want to look at things a little closer.

The Word “Hell”

Hell is an English word coming from the same root as: heel, hill, hole, whole hall…etc. Its original English meaning was any place, or someplace covered over. This sounds like a grave which is confirmed by the following Hebrew and Greek words.

The writers of the Bible had several words to choose when talking about what we call “hell”:

1.) Sheol/Hades

2.) Gehenna

3.  Tartarus

Sheol is a Hebrew word used 63 times in the Old Testament (KJV).  The New Testament equivalent is Hades which is used 11 times. Both are proper names for a literal place (grave) and figurative place (destruction). What is notable is that righteous men such as David, Jacob, Jonah, and even our Lord are described as going to Sheol or Hades! To go to Sheol means to be cut off from life, to die. It is the state or place of the dead.

Jesus compared death to “Sleep.” (e.g. Lazarus- John 11:11, and a 12-year old girl-Mark 5:39). Paul used it often (e.g. 1 Corinthians 15:51, Ephesians 5:14, 1 Thessalonians 4:14) as did David (e.g. Psalm 13:3) and Job (Job 14:12). Daniel used it in a Paul like vision of both the righteous and the unrighteous coming up from sleep (resurrection),

“And many who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake. Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt.”

Gehenna

Gehenna is a Greek word derived from the Hebrew words ‘ge hinnom’ meaning the Valley of Hinnom. Used 12 times in the new testament.

Gehenna was a well-known valley, near Jerusalem, in which the Jews in their idolatrous days had sacrificed their children to the idol Moloch, in consequence of which it was condemned to receive the offal and refuse and sewage of the city, and into which the bodies of malefactors were cast and where to destroy the odor and pestilential influences, continual fires were kept burning. Here fire, smoke, worms bred by the corruption, and other repulsive features, rendered the place a horrible one, in the eyes of the Jews. It was a locality with which they were as well acquainted. But in process of time Gehenna came to be an emblem of the consequences of sin, and to be employed figuratively by the Jews, to denote those consequences. But always in this world. The Jews never used it to mean torment after death, until long after Christ. The word had not the meaning of post-mortem torment when our Savior used it.” –J.W. Hanson’s, Bible Threatenings Explained.

When Jesus used it 11 times, he was not referring to a place under the earth, or even the lake of fire described by John in Revelation, but rather a valley where the refuge of the city continually smoked and the ultimate fate of dead animals.  It was not a place of unending torture, but rather a fitting symbol of death and destruction.

Jesus again used the word “Gehenna” when he described the destruction of both the body and soul in hell.  “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul, but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Gehenna).

Tartarus

Tartarus is used only once to mean ‘to cast down to Hades’, referring to the angels who sinned in 2 Peter 2:4. The angels described in Jude 1:6 are told to be reserved in everlasting chains until judgment. If Tartarus means a burning hell, why would the angels be there before judgment?

Contradictions?:

The origin of a place of eternal torture for rejection of God comes from Egypt and was adopted by the church during the dark ages to scare the people into submission to the church.  The teaching of purgatory was also used by the church to obtain money for the lost.  That is another study in itself, but I will stop here.

But, how do we understand those verses that describe everlasting fire, eternal fire, and unquenchable fire? The answer is very simple in the light of the context about the final destiny of the unsaved i.e., eternal death, destruction and ashes.  The fire that burns up the earth, the elements, and the unsaved is eternal in its results, not in its duration.  It is unquenchable in that it can’t be put out.  But once it has done its work of destruction, it goes out. Ask any fireman about an unquenchable fire and they will tell you that they can’t put it out, but that does not mean that it does not go out. Once all the wood is burned up, there is nothing left to burn, so the fire goes out.

How about the Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke 16? This has to be a parable and not an actual teaching of the fate of the lost because of these reasons:

1.)  It is the last parable in a series that starts with the parable of the lost coin in Luke 15:8. While it doesn’t specifically say it is a parable, neither does it say that the parable of the lost son is one either.  The point of the parable is not what happens to the lost, but rather the Pharisees (who loved money, Luke 16: 14 would never believe Jesus even if He was raised from the dead because they had not heard (believed) Moses and the Prophets.) They had the idea that being rich and because of their ancestry (i.e., Jacob) they would be in heaven and the others would be tormented in hell.  They made all this up because there is not Biblical example.  Just like they made up all the Sabbath laws without any scriptural authority, they made up this scenario. Jesus turns their story around and the non-Jewish poor man winds up in the place they thought was theirs automatically because of who they were.

2.) Jesus typically talked to the religious leaders and the people in parables.  Yes, He spoke very directly to them on several occasions, but when he was attempting to teach them or show them the truth, he would use parables. Those who wanted to know the truth would go looking for it as did the disciples. “All these things Jesus spoke to the multitude in parables; and without a parable He did not speak to them.” Matthew 13:34. “Then Peter answered and said to Him, “Explain this parable to us.” Matthew 15:15. Peter is a good example for us.  If we don’t understand a teaching, simply go to Jesus and ask him. If we really want to know the truth, He will tell us.  Don’t you think?

Conclusion:

There is good reason to believe from scripture that the unsaved die and await their final judgment which is destruction by the lake of fire as described in Revelation and many other Bible verses.

But, to use the teaching of eternal torment where a person’s life is maintained by God himself to simply let him suffer more is beyond reason and scripture.  Is this suppose to scare someone enough to start a loving relationship with Jesus?  Did your wife scare you into a relationship or did she “woo” you?  If she is like my wife, she did everything she could to show me that she loved me.  I was drawn to her spirit of kindness and love for me.

The scriptural way to bring people to Christ is by lifting Jesus up for all to see His great sacrifice, goodness, kindness,  mercy, forgiveness, and power!

“Come to me all you that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”

Matthew 11:28

When the disciples were trying to win souls to Christ, they never used the threat of unending torture, but words like:

Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?

Romans 2:4

It is not the fear of eternal torture that leads people to a relationship with Christ!

The Holy Spirit brought convicting power to the sermon of Peter and the disciples when they showed how Jesus died for their sins.  The people were “cut to the heart and asked, ‘What can we do?’” (Acts 2:37) Peter said, to them:

Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2: 38, 39)

Thousands that were converted to Jesus in the early church came from the topic of Jesus and the convicting power of the Holy Spirit.  Not one sermon about the possibility of being tortured without end!

But, Peter did let us know that the fate of the world and ungodly is destruction when Jesus returns…everything will be burned up!

There are, perhaps, no clearer words about the fate of the lost and this world as these passages from Peter.  If you want to know the truth about the fate of the lost and this world, listen closely to what is being revealed to you and your children and follow the instructions to eternal life reserved only for the saved:

“…knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” 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.

2 Peter 3: 1-9

Notice Peter again uses the word “Perish” as the fate of all those who do not come to repentance!

The Day of the Lord

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. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

2 Peter 3: 10-13

My brother or sister, here is your hell.  It is hotter than the one taught.  It is not a slow roast, it is immediate and it makes way for a heavens and earth where only righteousness dwells.  They is no corner of the universe somewhere where people are writhing in pain.

The time of Jesus must be soon.  It is time to turn to Jesus and ask Him about things we don’t understand so we can be more powerful preachers and teachers for Him!  Don’t you agree?

Lord Teach Me About Hell-Part 2-Difficult Verses

Some Difficult Texts Explained

We have studied the topic of hell and the error of teaching that the God of John 3:16  tortures the lost non-stop without mercy for eternity.  A few verses misapplied weave the terrible story of a wrath so horrendous that it cannot be satisfied.   People you and I have known for a lifetime  have no way to escape the terrible agony of frying in the pan of a burning hell.

So far, we have seen this horrific misconception falls under the weight of a multitude of Bible passages that says clearly, the lost will die with no hope of eternal life and happiness. We have discovered using a systematic approach that it is not true that Jesus taught more about hell than heaven:

Did Jesus Really Teach More About Hell Than Heaven?

The parable of Jesus about the Rich Man and Lazarus is not a story of literal events, but a parable with a different objective than scaring people into a saving relationship with Jesus.

Lord Teach Me About Hell-Part 1 (Rich Man & Lazarus)

This time, we look closely at verses seemingly supportive of the idea of eternal torture. We will view comparable verses to get clarity.


 

1.)  “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

Matthew 10:28

Jesus clearly teaches in this text that the soul is not naturally immortal. It can and will be destroyed in hell. But what does He mean about killing the body, but not the soul? Is it possible for the soul to exist apart from the body? Some say it is, but the Bible indicates otherwise.

The Hebrew word “psuche” has been translated “soul” in this text, but in forty other texts it has been translated “life.” For example, Jesus said,

“Whosoever will lose his life [psuche] for my sake shall find it.” Matthew 16:25.

Obviously, “psuche” could not mean soul in this instance, or people could be said to lose their soul for Christ’s sake. It is properly translated “life.”

But what of Matthew 10:28? Put in the word “life” instead of “soul” and the text makes perfect sense in its consistency with the rest of the Bible. The contrast is between one who can take the physical life, and He who can take away eternal life. Here is proof in the words of Jesus:

“And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell.”

Luke 12:4, 5.

In other words, the word “soul” here means not only life, but also eternal life. Notice that Luke says everything just like Matthew except that he does not say “kills the soul.” Instead, he says, “cast into hell.” They mean the same thing. Men can only kill the body and take away the physical life. God will cast into hell and take away eternal life. Not only will their bodies be destroyed in that fire, but also their lives will be snuffed out for all eternity.


 “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.”

Matthew 25:46:

It is well to notice that Jesus did not say that the wicked would suffer “everlasting punishing.” He said “everlasting punishment.” What is the punishment for sin? The punishment is destruction, and it is of eternal duration

“Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;”

(2 Thessalonians 1:9).

In other words, it is a destruction which never ends, because there will be no resurrection from that destruction.

Paul says,

“the wages of sin is death.”

Romans 6:23.

John describes that death as “

the second death”

Revelation 21:8.

That death or destruction will be eternal.


2.)  “And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.”

Mark 9:43, 44:

In this verse, the word “hell” is translated from the Greek word “Gehenna,” which is another name for the Valley of Hinnom just outside the walls of Jerusalem.There the refuse and bodies of animals were cast into an ever-smoldering fire to be consumed. Maggots that fed on the dead bodies were constantly destroying what might escape the flames. Gehenna symbolized a place of total destruction.

Jesus taught in this verse that the fire of hell could not be quenched or put out by anyone. Isaiah said,

“They shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame.”

Isaiah 47:14.

Yet, he hastened to say in the same verse,

“There shall not be a coal to warm at, nor a fire to sit before it.”

So the unquenchable fire will go out after it has finished its work. Jerusalem burned with unquenchable fire

….then swill I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched.

(Jeremiah 17:27)

yet it was totally destroyed

And they burnt the house of God, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem, and burnt all the palaces thereof with fire, and destroyed all the goodly vessels thereof.

(2 Chronicles 36:19-21).

The flames and worms of Gehenna represented the total annihilation and obliteration of sin and sinners. With the fires of Gehenna burning before their eyes, Jesus could not have spoken a more graphic word to the Pharisees to describe the final total destruction of sinners.

As a fireman if they have seen an  “unquenchable fire.” They will tell you it is a fire they cannot put out, but eventually it will go out, once it has consumed the fuel it is burning. It does not continue to burn with no end.

Those who cite this text to support their doctrine of the natural immortality of the soul are thrown into a real dilemma. Why? Because the fire and worms are working, not upon disembodied souls, but bodies! Christ said, the

“whole body” would be cast into hell.”

Matthew 5:30

In Isaiah 66:24, the same Gehenna picture of hell is presented with the unquenchable flame and the destroying worms. But in this case, the word “carcasses” is used, revealing the fact that the fire consumes dead bodies, not disembodied souls.

And they shall go forth, and look

Upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me:

For their worm shall not die,

Neither shall their fire be quenched;

And they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.

Isaiah 66:24


3.) “And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”

Luke 23:43:

Some have assumed from this verse that souls go to their reward immediately after death, contrary to scores of other Bible texts. But notice two things wrong with this assumption. First, even though Jesus told the thief,

“Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise,”

three days later He told Mary that He had not yet ascended to His Father.

Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father:

John 20: 17

His Father is in Paradise.  Here is the evidence  Revelation 2:7 says the tree of life

“is in the midst of the paradise of God,”

and Revelation 22:1, 2 describes the tree of life by the side of the river of life which flows, in turn, from the throne of God.

And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.

So there is no question about Paradise being where the Father’s throne is located. The question is: How could Jesus tell the thief that he would be with Him in Paradise that day, when He did not go there until three days later?

In the second place, Jesus and the thief did not even die on the same day. When the soldiers came just before sunset to take the bodies off the cross, Jesus was already dead (John 19:32-34). The thieves were very much alive, and their legs were broken to hasten death and to prevent them from escaping. They undoubtedly lived on past sunset into the hours of the Sabbath and possibly longer. So how could Jesus assure the thief of being with Him in Paradise that day when they did not both die on “that day”?

The apparent contradictions clear up when we consider that the punctuation of Luke 23:43 was added by uninspired men when our English Bible was translated. They placed a comma before the word “today,” when in reality it should have been placed after “today.” Then the verse would correctly read,

“Verily I say unto thee today, thou shalt be with me in paradise.”

In other words, Jesus was saying, “I give you the assurance today, when it seems I can save no man; today when my own disciples have forsaken me and I’m dying as a criminal dies—yet I assure you of salvation right now.”

Please notice that the thief did not ask to be taken to Paradise then. He asked,

“Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.”

That’s exactly when he will be remembered and taken into that Kingdom.


4.) “Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: … We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”

2 Corinthians 5:6, 8:

In verses 1-8, Paul is contrasting the present mortal state with the future immortal life in heaven. Notice the expressions he uses for the two conditions:

Mortal Immortal
earthly house building of God
this tabernacle house not made with hands
mortality our house from heaven
in the body absent from the body
absent from the Lord present with the Lord

He also speaks of being clothed with “our house which is from heaven,” (verse 2) and again, he longs “that mortality might be swallowed up of life.” Verse 4.

But the key to the entire discourse lies in the description of a third condition. After desiring to be clothed upon with immortality, Paul states that “being clothed we shall not be found naked.” Verse 3. Putting it yet another way, he said,

“not for that we would be unclothed.”

Verse 4.

Clearly, the naked or unclothed state was neither mortality nor immortality, but death and the grave. Paul realized that one did not pass instantly from being clothed with this tabernacle into being clothed with our house from heaven. Death and the grave came in between, and he referred to it as being unclothed and naked.

In another text, Paul spelled out exactly when that change from mortality would take place. In 1 Corinthians 15:52, 53 he wrote,

“The trumpet shall sound and this mortal must put on immortality.”

That will be when Jesus comes.


5.) “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.”

1 Peter 3:18-20:

There has been considerable misunderstanding of these verses of Scripture. It has been preached that Christ actually descended into the lower regions of the earth and preached to lost souls that were imprisoned in some purgatory or limbo.

This is very far from what the text actually says. Let’s look at it closely now and get the real message of these verses. It says that Christ suffered once for sin that He might bring us to God by being put to death in the flesh. But He was quickened by the Spirit by which also He went and preached.

First of all, notice how Christ preached to those spirits in prison. He did it by the Spirit, and that word is capitalized in your Bible. It actually refers to the Holy Spirit. So whatever Christ did in preaching during this period of time, He did it through or by the Holy Spirit.

With that in view, let’s ask this: When was the preaching done? The answer is plainly given in verse 20,

“When once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing.”

So, the preaching was actually done while the ark was being built—during the preaching of Noah to that antediluvian world. Now, one more question: To whom was the preaching done? The text says here “to the spirits in prison.”

Throughout the Bible, we find this terminology used in describing those who are bound in the prison house of sin. David prayed,

“Bring my soul out of prison.”

Psalm 142:7.

Paul spoke of his experience in these words:

“bringing me into captivity to the law of sin.”

Romans 7:23.

What Peter is telling us here is simply that Christ through the Holy Spirit was present while Noah preached; Christ was there through the Holy Spirit to speak conviction to their hearts and appeal to them to come into the ark. There is absolutely nothing here that indicates that Jesus departed from the body during the time He was dead to go to any subterranean place to minister to wicked spirits. The three questions are clearly answered in the text itself, that He preached by the Holy Spirit, He did it while the ark was being prepared, and He did it to the spirits in prison or to those individuals whose sinful lives were bound in the prison house of sin.


“The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.”

Revelation 14:10, 11:

The words “for ever” do not necessarily mean “without end.” In fact, the Bible uses the term 56 times (“for ever” can be found in your biblical concordance under “ever”) in connection with the things that have already ended.

In Exodus 21:1-6 the Hebrew servant was to serve his master “for ever,” but it was obviously only as long as he lived. Hannah took her son Samuel to God’s house to abide “for ever,” but she plainly limited that time to “as long as he liveth.1 Samuel 1:22, 28.

The term is very clearly defined in Psalm 48:14,

“For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death.”

The desolation of Edom was to continue “for ever and ever.” Isaiah 34:10. Christ is called “a priest for ever” (Hebrews 5:6), yet after sin is blotted out Christ’s work as a priest will end. The Bible states, “The wicked … shall be destroyed for ever.” Psalm 92:7.


1 Samuel 28:14:

“And he said unto her, What form is he of? And she said, An old man cometh up; and he is covered with a mantle. And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground, and bowed himself.”

This spiritualistic séance has been cited as evidence for life after death. However, here are points to the contrary:

  1. Wizards had been sentenced to death and banned from the land (verse 3; Leviticus 20:27).
  2. God had left Saul and would not communicate with him (verse 15).
  3. Samuel was supposedly “brought up.” Other expressions: “ascending out of the earth,” “Cometh up,” and “Bring … up.” Is this where the righteous dead are—down in the earth? Not according to those who believe in the immortal soul. 4. Samuel is described as “an old man covered with a mantle.” Is this the way immortal souls appear? And where did the soul get the body? They’re supposed to be disembodied. Was there a resurrection? Did God obey the beck and call of the witch, and raise up Samuel? If not, can Satan raise the dead?
  4. The apparition of Samuel told Saul, “Tomorrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me.” Saul committed suicide on the battlefield the next day. Where did Samuel dwell, if the wicked Saul was to go to the same place?
  5. The record never says that Saul saw Samuel. He received his information as second hand from the witch, and only concluded it was Samuel from her description. The truth is that the devil deceived the dissolute old woman, and she deceived Saul. It was nothing more than a devil-generated séance.
  6. The enormity of Saul’s sin is revealed in these words, “So Saul died for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to inquire of it; And inquired not of the Lord: therefore he slew him.” 1 Chronicles 10:13, 14.

A careful study of these difficult passages show that they line up with the true fate of the lost.  It is not a non-ending torture chamber, but a fate of eternal death and destruction. It will be as if they had never been.  Because of this, when we arrive in heaven, there will be tears for them knowing they have passed away forever.  These tears will be wiped away by a loving and understanding Savior who guarantees no more pain, sorrow, crying, or pain.

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

Revelation 21:4

If there were some space in the universe where uncle Bob was roasting in agony, would that be heaven for you?  Would those tears every go away?

NO!  God loves His creation so much that He sent His only Son to die for us so that we don’t have to die forever.  We will not perish like the lost, but have eternal life.

 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 3:16