A VISION of the ‘Little Big Horn’

SCRIPTURE READING – Daniel 8:1-27

So what is a VISION?

A “VISION” is a clear mental image of a preferable future, imparted by God to His chosen servants and is based on an accurate understanding of God, self, and circumstance.  [See Footnote [1] ]

Based on this definition, there become three aspects of having a VISION:

(1)  GOD – Your vision comes from God, it is not something you thought overnight;

(2)  SELF – Your priorities and spiritual gifts will help you focus on your vision;

(3)  CIRCUMSTANCES – Your vision begins where you are now; so you must face and solve your problem and then overcome all barriers to fulfill your dream.

For Daniel, this was one of his many visions and his most troubling, even after the angel Gabriel explained it to him.  Notice Daniels reaction in VERSE 27:

[27]  “I, Daniel, was deeply troubled by my thoughts, and my face turned pale, but I kept the matter to myself.”  (NIV Bible)

However, as we stand today on the other side of this PROPHECY, its one of the easiest for us to understand.  What Daniel prophesied in Chapter 8 was FUTURE for him, but much of it is HISTORY for us and we have ample historical evidence of the exact fulfillment of this VISION.

One reason I enjoy this section of Daniel is that I love to study history, and this is one of the best places in the Bible to compare history and prophecy.  When we see things predicted in the Bible that have already come true, it should give us great assurance that those things yet to happen in God’s Word will also come true.

The Basics of Daniel’s Dream –

Daniel dreamed of a mighty Ram with two massive horns, but one horn was bigger than the other.

The Ram was powerful and it charged with beating every other animal.

But then Daniel saw a strange-looking Goat approaching the Ram.  It had one horn growing out of its forehead (almost like a Unicorn, but probably more like a rhinoceros).

Well, this one-horned goat whipped the ram and trampled it down in the dirt.  But suddenly its horn was snapped off, and growing in its place was four other horns and growing out of one of those horns was another little horn.

Daniel 8:13-14 reads,  Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to him, “How long will it take for the vision to be fulfilled–the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, the rebellion that causes desolation, the surrender of the sanctuary and the trampling underfoot of the Lord’s people?  He said to me, “It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be constructed.”  (NIV Bible)

Daniel himself was troubled and confused, so VERSE 16 tells us that Gabriel comes to give him a clear interpretation.

Today, Christians have been given by God the Holy Spirit to bring wisdom and understanding to the spiritual mysteries.

Gabriel explains the dream to Daniel, v. 20-24

[20]  The ram you saw having two horns, they are the kings of Media and Persia.  [21]  And the shaggy and rough he-goat is the king of Greece, and the great horn between his eyes is the first king.  [22]  The four horns that replaced the one that was broken off represent four kingdoms that will emerge from his nation but will not have the same power.  [23]  In the latter part of their reign, when rebels have become completely wicked, a fierce-looking king, a master of intrigue, will arise.  [24]  He will become very strong, but not by his own power.  He will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does.  He will destroy those who are mighty, the holy people.

A VIOLENT RAM:  Medo-Persian Empire 

When Daniel received this VISION, the Babylonian Empire was still in place, but God showed him a new empire on the horizon, one that God would use to fulfill the PROPHECY to all the Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple that had been destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar.

This Ram had one horn and was larger than the other.  This symbolizes the Persians, always the more powerful of the two nation coalition.

A UNI-HORN GOAT:  The Greek Empire under Alexander the Great –

The GOAT represents the Greek Empire, and the single horn, Alexander.

Alexander has always fascinated me.  When Alexander was a boy, his father enlisted Plato’s disciple Aristotle to be his personal tutor.  At the age of 18, Alexander was already leading armies into battle.  When he was only 20, his father was murdered (some say, Alexander, had a hand in it) and he became ruler of the Greeks.  His decisive battle against the Persians took place near modern Syria at the battle of Issus, which he won in 323 B.C. at the ripe old age of 23.  Within the next ten years, Alexander conquered the entire world from Italy to Egypt and to modern Pakistan.

Alexander and his army headed south towards Egypt after his victory at Issus.

As Alexander and his army approached Jerusalem, he was planning to destroy the city.  Remember, the city had just been rebuilt 100 years earlier by Ezra and Nehemiah.

Josephus writes that while Alexander was considering the destruction of the city, the High Priest went out from the Temple with a scroll of Daniel 8 saying that he and his army (the GOAT) were destined by God of the Hebrews to conquer the RAM (the Persians).  The account says Alexander was so impressed that instead of destroying the city, he enriched it and then bypassed it on his way to capture and control Egypt.

God is always active in His plans for mankind.

It always exciting to read the Bible and realize PROPHECY is being fulfilled at that moment.  That’s the way I’ve felt ever since the resettling of Israel in 1948 and the recapture of Jerusalem in 1967, both events examples of PROPHECY fulfillment in our times.

So Alexander is this UNI-HORN on the Goat.

But at the height of its power, this single horn is suddenly broken off.  Even so, Alexander the Great died suddenly at the age of 33.

THE FOUR HORNS:  The four generals who divided Alexander’s territory –

Alexander made no plans for the continuation of his kingdom.  He had children, but he cared little for them and never designated an heir to his empire.

When he died suddenly, a conflict between the leading generals finally arrived at a questionable agreement of dividing the empire.  This is merely history for us to take in, but remember Daniel predicted all of this almost 300 years before it happened.

This ‘Little Big Horn’:  Antiochus Epiphanes IV –

He is a forerunner, as a type of the Antichrist.

This man Antiochus Epiphanes (Epiphanes means “Great”) is a wicked and vicious ruler.  He hated the Jews and they hated him.  He demanded crowds of people honor him by crying out, “Epiphanes”, whenever he would pass by.  Instead, the Jews had nicknamed him, “Antiochus Epimanes”, a play on his name: Epimanes means “madman”, or “idiot”, and so they shouted “Epimanes”, when he passed by driving him even madder.

Here are just a few of the low-lights I found in the study of his treatment of God’s people.  He forbade circumcision, he outlawed the Sabbath observance and made it a criminal offense for anyone to possess or read the Jewish scriptures.

As you can imagine, Jews rebelled against him, and his punishment was quick and brutal.  On one occasion, Antiochus forced a Jewish mother to watch as her seven sons were fried to death, then her eyes were blinded so that would be her last thought.

He was cruel, vicious, and he was evil.  He slaughtered 80,000 Jews on a single occasion.

But the vilest thing he did from a Jewish standpoint was to set up an image of Zeus in the Jewish Temple (the statue had a striking resemblance to, who else? Antiochus).

He ordered the Jews to worship the image, and horror of horrors, he personally sacrificed a hog on the sacred altar and sprinkled the blood of the hog all around the holy place and this became a monthly ritual.  In doing this he defiled the Temple.

It is in VERSE 13, we read “How long will it take for the vision to be fulfilled–the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, the rebellion that causes desolation, the surrender of the sanctuary and the trampling underfoot of the Lord’s people?”

That means the faithful Jews left or deserted the Temple, so it became “desolate”.

In this dream (VISION), Daniel predicted Antiochus would invade the Holy Land and desecrate the Temple and cause the sacrifices to cease.

Daniel 8:14 reads “It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings, then the sanctuary will be reconstructed.”

Just as today, a morning and evening make one day, so if you divide 2,300 by two, you get 1,150 days.

History says that Judas Maccabees and his sons rose in revolt and led the people of Israel to retake Jerusalem, cleansed the sanctuary and restored the offerings at the end of 1,150 days, exactly as predicted!

The rededication of the Temple on December 14, 164 B.C. is the reason our Jewish friends celebrate Hanukkah each December.

Looking then at the TIMELINE:

  • Daniel (550 B.C.)
  • Antiochus (170-163 B.C.)
  • Jesus Came (4 B.C.)
  • TODAY

What does all this mean?

Here are but a few lessons that can be learned from this PROPHECY in Daniel 8.

Kingdoms of this world (and presidents) come and go but the Kingdom of God is forever!

Because we find God to be trustworthy in the middle of PROPHECY we can trust Him in the details in our lives right now.

Alexander is a picture of worldly greatness marked by personal failure.

Though conqueror of the world, he was unable to conquer his own passions.  He died of a combination of malaria and acute alcoholism.

Proverbs 16:32 says,  Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.

Some of you have conquered the kingdoms of your careers.  You fought and won battles but there’s one battle you haven’t won; the SIN BATTLE.  You can’t CONQUER your own sinful appetites and anger.

Alexander is a picture of plenty of people today who have gained worldly success, yet their personal and spiritual lives are running on empty.

Only Jesus can win the SIN BATTLE for you.

2,000 years ago, He carried our sins to the cross with Him and our SINS were nailed to the cross, covered by His BLOOD.

Jesus said,  “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his life [in the eternal kingdom of God]?” ~ Mark 8:36 (AMP)

What does it profit a man or woman if they are known as Alexander the Great or John the great businessman or Mary the great salesperson or Tom the great community leader…and they never CONQUER their SIN PROBLEM?  It’s simply a tragic picture of a sad, wasted life.

Antiochus (past) is a prototype of the Antichrist (future).

A clear characteristic of prophetic literature in the Bible often has a dual fulfillment; like peeling the layers of an onion.

ONION LAYERS

That is, it may have a fulfillment in the near future (the outer onion layer), and then it may have another fulfillment in the distant future (the inner layer of the onion).  I believe that’s the case here in Daniel 8.

Without a doubt, the Little Horn in Daniel 8 was fulfilled in Antiochus, but he is also the preview of coming attractions of the future Antichrist.

There are many comparisons.  For instance, reviewing the TIMELINE of the future:  Today’s Antichrist (?? AD);  Jesus Returns (? AD).

RAPTURE –

I want to point out at this point of discussion how long Antiochus’ reign of terror was:  He murdered the Jewish High Priest, Onias III, in 170 B.C. and died in 163 B.C.; that’s SEVEN years.

The future Antichrist will rule for SEVEN years (Revelation 13:5).

Antiochus had an intense hatred for the Jews and so will the Antichrist.

These are all remarkable parallels with what the Antichrist will do in the FUTURE.  Here’s your link: Revelation 13:15.

  • He [the false prophet, the chief of staff for the Antichrist] was given the power to give breath to the IMAGE of the first BEAST [antichrist] so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed.
  • He also forced everyone to receive a MARK on the right hand or forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the MARK, which is the name of the BEAST or the number of his name.

He [the false prophet, the chief of staff for the Antichrist] was given the power to give breath to the image of the first BEAST [Antichrist] so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed.

He also forced everyone, to receive a MARK on the right hand or forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the MARK, which is the name of the BEAST or the number of his name.

If you think I’m reading something into this that isn’t there; notice what Jesus Christ Himself said about this future desecration of the Temple in Matthew 24.

Just as Antiochus set up an image of Zeus in the Temple, and commanded the Jews to WORSHIP it, the Bible tells us in the Book of Revelation that the Antichrist will do the same thing in the future.

CONCLUSION:  Looking through A Camera’s Lens. 

Years ago, I saw a strange episode of the TV show, “The Twilight Zone”.  I don’t remember all the details, but I do remember that someone had a Polaroid camera.  When you took a picture, what developed wasn’t that given moment but 24 hours into the future.  It was like having a PROPHETIC CAMERA that revealed the future.

It seems in this episode, everyone who possessed the Camera, died a tragic death.  No one was willing to use their ability to forecast the future for good.

Some of you reading this may make the same tragic mistake.

We know Jesus is going to return (Acts 1:9-11).  We just don’t know when.

We know that those left behind after the Rapture will face a terrible time of tribulation.

We have this information but are we doing anything about it?

We need to get up, get out and do the King’s business!

What is the King’s business?

Jesus came to seek and save the lost.

A message like this shouldn’t turn you into a ‘star-gazer’; it should turn you into a ‘Soul Winner’!

A message of PROPHECY, on Dreams and Visions, shouldn’t make you smug in your salvation; it should make you a SERVANT of Jesus.

The King’s business is to tell the lost and dying world the only HOPE is Jesus!

My hope and prayer is that God will let Jesus speak to you as he has for me with these words from Mark 13:32-34:

We all have a job to do.  Our job is to keep watching, keep witnessing, and keep working until Jesus returns!!!  

AMEN.

____________________________________________________________________

CREDITS & FOOTNOTES –

FOOTNOTE [i]:  The Power Of Biblical Vision by Rodelio Mallari.

SOURCES:  Josephus: Antiquities of the Jews, Book XI; Daniel’s Prophecy of Antiochus Epiphanes by Jason Jackson;  The Book of the Maccabees.

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search.

BIBLE TRANSLATIONS:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); all other translations used in the study are so noted in the photos or text.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Needed Keys In Understanding the REVELATION TO JOHN – Part One

 

WHY DOES THE BOOK OF REVELATION NOT BEING PREACHED TODAY?

8454499314_7168031652That’s a good question.  I’ve heard various replies over the years: “It’s to difficult to understand” or “It’s scary to hear about beasts–a dragon, lake of fire, hell, etc.”  

My purpose in this study, is to address the issues and difficult questions that always arise when we read the book on the surface.

THE REVELATION in the bible is NOT a ‘light read’ of biblical metaphors. Like All Scripture, the words describe an unveiling of the truth–past, present, future.  It is NOT like a “crystal ball”; no fantasy made up by man.

First, A Disclaimer–

As I began this investigation study in the last Book of the New Testament, and… for as many times I’ve read and studied the words in the past, I still come with some anxiety.  But since I was prompted going forth by the Holy Spirit– ( I don’t debate with the Holy Spirit), I found myself underlining words and phrases in Chapter One; making notes in the verses, following up with other biblical passages to give me (“you”) a spiritual glimpse–the “needed keys” available into the mysteries often overlooked.

My intentions throughout the course of this study is not to debate this study.  Nor do I intend to blog about every chapter in the Book.  I will be posting only what the Spirit directs me to write and proclaim.  So grab your Bible, ink pen, highlighter, and let’s get started!

THE THEME–

The theme is not the seven churches, not the seven bowls, the seven trumpets, the Beast, the Antichrist or the symbolism.  The THEME is Jesus Christ Victorious!!!

REVELATION CHAPTER ONE – AN INTRODUCTION:

Key Verse 1:19 (N.I.V. Bible Translation will be used in this study unless so noted.):

“Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.”

REVELATION is broken into 3 major parts according to Revelation 1:19 –

1.  What John has seen.

2.  What John is presently seen.

3.  What is coming.

In other words, write down the past, present and future events:  “Write therefore, what you have seen (The Past)” – the Lord Jesus as the Glorified One.

**NOTE:  “Revelation” not Revelations” (plural).  It is the “Revelation” of JESUS, not of John.  If your Bible says The Revelation of St. John the divine…IT’S WRONG.

A.  The PREFACE, the PROLOGUE, the Warm-up begins – Revelation 1:1-3:

“THE REVELATION of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending His angel to His servant John,   (2) who testifies to everything he saw–that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.  (3) Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.”

IMPORTANT WORD “KEYS” for the study in UNLOCKING the doors–

I want to show you an invaluable KEY when reading and understanding in any biblical study.  I underline with pen on the bible pages, certain words that stick out to me.  Then, with the leading of God’s Spirit, I use resources I have at hand (Expository Dictionary, Vine’s Complete Dictionary, etc.–or even Google).

The following KEYS (steps) is one idea on how to approach each chapter.  If you have your own methods, you might incorporate some of these:

1.  “REVELATION”=apokalypto (Greek); where we get the English word “Apocalypse”: (unveiling, disclosure) of Christ Jesus.

2.  SERVANTS=  All believers.

3.  SOON TO TAKE PLACE=

Vs. 1:3 “…because the time is near.”

Vs. 22:6-7 “…must soon take place.”

Vs. 22:10 “…the time is near” or “…at hand”  

Vs. 22:20 “…I (Jesus) am coming soon.”

4.  ANGEL= Messenger of God (anyone, human or heavenly, who proclaims God’s message).

5.  JOHN= identifies himself as John

Vs. 1:1  “…to His servant John”

Vs. 1:4  “John”

Vs. 1:9  “I, John”

Vs. 22:8  “I, John”

6.  BLESSED= the first of the seven beatitudes in the book; Greek word “Makarios” = “HAPPY, HAPPY” are those who will enjoy eternal life in glory (See footnote [i]).  

“BLESSED”= a favorable circumstance God puts on a person– Psalm 1:1; Matthew 5:3.

Vs. 14:13  “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on”

Vs, 16:15  Jesus speaking, “Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed.”

Vs. 19:9  “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!”

Vs. 20:6  “Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection…”

Vs. 22:7  “Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book.”

Vs. 22:14  “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.”

7.  PROPHECY= means foretelling the future as well as proclaiming any word from God.

B.  The GREETINGS & DOXOLOGY (Hymn or Verse or Praise to God) – Revelation 1:4-8:

–More KEYS on the Key Chain…

8.  SEVEN SPIRITS= The Holy Spirit in each church?

The SEVEN CHURCHES listed are located 50 miles apart forming a circle in Asia Minor, moving in a clockwise direction.

the-seven-churches-of-revelation

Using Bible Maps can give you an additional perspective in understanding.

9.  A KINGDOM OF PRIESTS= this Old Testament designation of Israel is applied to the New Testament Church:

1 Peter 2:5:  “you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood…”

1 Peter 2:9:  “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood…”

10.  PIERCED= ekkenteo, Greek found in John 19:37; Revelation 1:7 and refers to each text to “piercing” Christ on the cross.  “Karah”, Hebrew word used in the OT is a symbolic anticipation of the future suffering of Christ:  

Psalm 22:16:  “For [like a pack of wild] dogs they have encompassed me, a company of evildoers has encircled me; they pierced my hands and my feet”  (Amplified Bible).

Isaiah 53:5:  “But he was pierced for our transgressions…”

John 19:34:  “Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear…”

So shall it be! AMEN= A double affirmation.

11.  ALPHA & OMEGA= first and last letter of the Greek alphabet. 

GOD is saying He is beginning and the end; He is and was and will be.

C.  VERSES 1:9-20 – “Jesus among the Seven Churches”:

12.  SUFFERING, KINGDOM & PATIENCE= the three pivotal themes in REVELATION.

13.  PATMOS= a small island off the coast of modern Turkey.

JOHN was imprisoned here until his release in 96-98 AD.  [*Note: Suggestion: look up “Patmos” on a map for reference].

14.  THE LORD’S DAY= technical term for the first day of the week; so named because JESUS rose from the dead on that day.

Also, the day Christians met together, took a collections, and why we attend church on Sundays today (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2).

15.  IN THE SPIRIT= In a state of Spiritual Exaltation–not a dream, but a vision like Peter’s– [Acts 10:10].

16.  SCROLL= pieces of parchment or papyrus sewn together and rolled on a spindle.

The book was not invented until about 2 AD.

17.  SEVEN= Hebrew number of perfection or completion.

18.  SEVEN GOLDEN LAMPSTANDS=the SEVEN churches (Vs. 1:20).

19.  SON OF MAN=Jesus Christ.

Daniel 7:13, 14:  “In my vision at night I looked, and there before was one like a Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence.  He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

Mark 8:31:  He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that He must be killed and after three days rise again.

20.  ROBE TO HIS FEET= traditionally, the high priest wore a full length robe to his feet.

Bible References:  Exodus 28:4; 29:5.

Reference to Christ as the high priest supported the fact that He is wearing a golden sash around His chest. 

21.  WHITE LIKE WOOL= suggest wisdom and dignity.

Daniel 7:9:  “I kept looking until thrones were placed [for the assessors with the Judge], and the Ancient of Days [God, the eternal Father] took His seat,  Whose garment was as white as snow and the hair of His head like pure wool.  His throne was like the fiery flame; its wheels were burning fire”  (Amplified Bible).

Isaiah 1:18:  “Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord.  “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be made as white as snow…”

22.  EYES LIKE BLAZING  FIRE=penetrating insight.

23.  SHARP DOUBLE EDGED SWORD= the sword is the Word of God which is used for our protection, but also our divine judgement.

Hebrews 4:12:  For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of the joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart.  (Amplified Bible)

24.  FELL AT HIS FEET= great respect and true awe!

25.  LIVING ONE= Based on Old Testament references to the Living God; in contrast to the dead gods of paganism–Christ Jesus possesses life in His essential nature.

26.  KEYS OF DEATH AND HADES (Sheol, or the place of the dead)= Christ has absolute control over their domain.

27.  ANGELS=heavenly messengers, earthly messengers/ministers, personifications of the prevailing spirit of each church.

~THE BOOK OF REVELATION~

This book is primarily a book of prophecy; it seems to begin as an epistle or a letter.  It addresses SEVEN different churches with SEVEN different problems or challenges.

It foretells things that are to come.  But I want to mention again: It IS a REVELATION about Jesus Christ; REVELATION depicts JESUS AS:

“The faithful witness”,

“The firstborn from the dead”,

“The ruler over kings of the world”,

“The Alpha & Omega, the Beginning and the End”,

“The One who is and was and is to come, the almighty”,

“The beginning of all Creation”,

“The Lion of the Tribe of Judah”,

“The Lamb on the throne”,

“The Messiah who will reign forever”,

“The King of kings and Lord of lords”,

“The bright morning star”.

Lessons To Be Learn In This Upcoming Study:

*  The church is warned on sin lifted to holiness;

*  We will see vivid pictures of worship, the ministry of angels;

*  Eschatology= Doctrine of last days.

*  The final political setup of the world;

*  The career and ultimate defeat of the Antichrist;

*  Christ Jesus 1000 year reign; and…

*  The final state of the wicked and the righteous–the unsaved and the saved.

As we go through The Book of Revelation in the weeks to come, I will try to point out ties between the Old Testament and the New Testament.

EXAMPLES:

In Genesis the earth was created; in Revelation it will pass away.

In Genesis was Satan’s first rebellion; in Revelation Satan’s last rebellion.

In Genesis the sun, moon and stars were meant for the earth’s government; in Revelation these same heavenly bodies are for the earth’s judgement.

In Genesis the sun was to govern the day; in Revelation there is no night.

In Genesis the entrance to SIN; in Revelation the exodus of SIN.

In Genesis the curse was pronounced; in Revelation the curse is removed.

In Genesis death entered; in Revelation there is no more death!

In Genesis Satan’s doom being pronounced; in Revelation Satan’s doom is executed.

Feel free to point out in this series notes you made, discoveries you found in the comment section of this blog-site.  It will be helpful to all who follow along.

PART 2 to follow in Revelation 3. So start reading in your own bible (ink pen) and I’ll see you there!

 

Layout 1

 

 


Sources for this Study:

Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words.

EXPOSITORY DICTIONARY OF WORDS – Stephen D. Renn.

NIV Complete Concordance.

Photos and Maps:

Google Images

Photo Pin

Wikipedia Maps -The Seven Churches in Revelation

Bible References:

New International Version (NIV)

Amplified Bible

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are You SEARCHIN’ FOR DIRECTION IN YOUR LIFE?

2173653553_20a8c4041a
SEARCHING FOR DIRECTION IN LIFE?

One of my favorite singers of the past, was the late Dusty Springfield along with Dionne Warwick: Wishin’ and Hopin’ and Thinkin’ and Prayin‘. What was the lyricist “prayin'” for?  To find, search for LOVE, perhaps in all the wrong places?  Perhaps, but in doing so, frustration must have set in to the “thinkin”.

My search for some answers, begins with finding and knowing God’s will in my life; the search for direction–thus, the question presented in the title for this weeks BLOG.  Not in your life necessarily, but in mine.  Hopefully. in reading this post, you will find and know God’s will more clearly in your life too!

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but how much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,  for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose”  (Philippians 2:12-13 NIV Bible).

DOING GOD’S WILL WITH A SMILE –

Before doing God’s will…we need to know before the “doing”, “HOW DO I KNOW WHAT GOD’S WILL IS in any given situation of my life?”

The answer I found, isn’t really complicated.  There are steps in the process like everything else in life.

We live in a “I want it now society”, and patience in knowing, is not a virtue of ours.  Yeah, we might know the words found in Galatians 5:22-23 (“THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT”)…love, joy, peace, PATIENCE, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…but living with them, applying Holy Spirit’s gifts…that’s not something most of us seek on a daily basis.  I’m not saying we shouldn’t…just, most of us don’t!

FINDING THE ANSWERS IN THE RIGHT PLACES:

How can we find the WILL OF GOD for our lives?  If we don’t follow God’s will for us, we will pay a heavy price in facing the negative consequences.

GOD wants to know His will for your life–

If you’re NOT a believer in Jesus Christ, NOT placed in a saving faith in Him, you’re out of the will of God!  He desires that ALL come to repentance, faith, and to be born-again.

GOD’S WORD:

Psalm 40:8:  “To do your will, O my God, is my desire; your law is within my heart.”

“LAW” (or His Word) = WILL OF GOD.

Example:  We know through reading the Word of God that marrying an unbeliever is NOT God’s will for our lives (2 Corinthians 6:14-15).  God tells us in His Word, ‘Don’t get the cart before the horse’ in new relationships in dating.  Your desires may just precede God’s desire in your life.  And that’s not His will.

THE FIRST and PRIMARY WAY of knowing God’s will for your life…

You are unsure in making an important decision in your family; changing jobs, changing locations because of your job, financial commitments, and you don’t know where to find the answers in your Bible.

If you don’t know where to find your particular circumstance in God’s Word, and don’t have a BIBLE CONCORDANCE, invest in one.  SEARCH for it in God’s Word.  IMPATIENCE might just lead you in the wrong direction.

 1.  God wants us to be WHOLE and NOT SICK…

[2] And behold, a leper came up to Him (JESUS) and, prostrating himself, worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You are able to cleanse me by curing me.    [3] And He reached out His hand and touched him, saying,  “I am willing; be cleansed by being cured.  And instantly his leprosy was cured and cleansed  (Matthew 8:2-3 AMP).

2.  Knowing God’s Will for us is Not to be Poor and in Debt…

More than Enough!
More than Enough!

God wants us to have enough so our needs are met and we give to others in return.

“The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is the servant to the lender”  (Proverbs 22:7).

God’s Word also tells us, to those who might be struggling making ends meet in this economy, one reason why He sent His Son into this world:

[JESUS speaking] …I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)”  (John 10:10 AMP).

The “overflow” is much more than “just enough”!

3.   GOD doesn’t want us to be DEPRESSED:

HIS WILL for us is to be happy (to “enjoy life”), full of joy!  (Philippians 4:4)

“REJOICE in the Lord always; again I say, Rejoice!”

THE NEW ROGET’S THESAURUS, definesDEPRESSION” – dishearten, dejection, lowness, worthlessness.  

If you are feeling in a state of constant depression right now…it’s NOT God’s will for your life!

The general will of God is clearly specified in the Word of God for us.  But just knowing where to find thee TRUTH and not claiming and receiving God’s will for our life is another.

So, how can we know the specifics, the details of GOD’S WILL?  Our Bible doesn’t tell us which job to take, doesn’t tell us who to marry, even if we are following God’s will.  E.g., disciples in the boat–“Let us go over to the other side.”

4.  Through the PEACE OF GOD:

“Let the PEACE OF CHRIST rule in your hearts, since members of one body, you were called to peace.  And be thankful”  (Colossians 3:15 NIV).

“RULE” =  “BRABEUO” (Greek word)  [Footnote [i] ].

This verb is found only in this verse and expresses the underlying sense of “having the role of greatest influence.”  The Amplified Bible says PEACE, [“acts as umpire continually”.]

Just as every sport that has disputes, they must be settled by the officials, the PEACE OF GOD as the umpire, settling all disputes as to what the will of God is for our lives.

THE PEACE OF GOD is always “umpiring” in our hearts, but we don’t always pay attention to it.  Sometimes, we even go against the PEACE of God in our hearts.

As you sit in the presence of God, be still, take a “time out”, consider all the options, discerning the will of God by the PEACE given to your heart (Psalm 46:10).

5.  DISCERNING correctly what the Lord is trying to tell us–

Lining the Lights Up…

Aligning Things Up!
Aligning Things Up!

There was a certain harbor that was treacherous and dangerous to enter.  In order for the captain to guide his ship safely into the harbor, he had to be attentive to three lights used to guide him.  When all three lights lined up as one, he knew it was safe to proceed.  Then, and only then, would he bring his ship safely to port.

As we seek GUIDANCE, we too have to be attentive to “THREE LIGHTS”…to guide us into the harbor of His will:

~ The WORD of God,

~  Our outward circumstances,

~  Our inner conviction.

When all three of these Lights line up, we can then proceed with assurance, of being led safely into the harbor.

6.  God’s Will Revealed Through the Word of Knowledge and Prophecy:

“To one is given in and through the [Holy] Spirit [the power to speak] a message of wisdom, and to another [the power to express] a word of knowledge and understanding according to the same [Holy] Spirit”  (1 Corinthians 12:8 AMP).

“…to another prophetic insight (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose); to another the ability to discern and distinguish between [the utterances of true] spirits [and false ones]”  (1 Corinthians 12:10).

WE HAVE TO BE CAREFUL with this!  Whatever is being revealed should be tested and consistent with the Word of God.  We shouldn’t take others words blindly, but we ourselves should test what the other person has said in respect to what God says (His will) from His Word (Scripture).

God does speak through audible voices sometimes (friends and family).  We have to DISCERN whether we’re listening to God’s voice, or someone elses.

Good intentions…

If we are receiving a word of knowledge or prophecy from a person, we should know and make sure that particular person that’s speaking to our issue is living a godly life too.

But it is possible for some true servants of God to NOT LISTEN to the Lord correctly.  In that case, they should tell you clearly they are not sure.

PROPHECY is not fortune-telling.  We’ve got to be careful of this.

“What should we DO to know God’s will for our life?”

Romans 12:1-2 KJV:

[Verse 1]  “I BESEECH you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your responsible service.

[Verse 2]  “And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

This “renewing” is not a  one time experience, but a daily reminder in every decision and circumstance we face in our lives.  In order TO KNOW GOD’S WILL, we need to…

OFFER OUR BODY (who your are in your spirit–our whole being) as a LIVING SACRIFICE, living holy lives.

KING DAVID came upon the scene of a threshing floor of a Jebusite by the name of Araunah as commanded by the Lord.  When Araunah saw the king coming, he went out and bowed himself down before the king.

Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?”  And David said, “To purchase the threshing floor from you; to build there an altar to the Lord.”

What Araunah did next seemed to me a honoring gesture as he offered the king everything he had for the altar of sacrifice–of worship and praise.

But David refused the offer in saying to Araunah,  “I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my GOD of that which cost me nothing.” (2 Samuel 24:24).

“What’s that particular story have to do with knowing God’s Will for my life?  There is never an offering, a sacrifice of worship, praise or anything else that doesn’t cost you something.  After paying the price, according to God’s Will in the circumstances, David made the offering.  He knew God’s will in this matter because of the Word of his LORD GOD.

The RESULTS OF KNOWING and APPLYING THE STEPS:  

So the Lord heeded the prayers for the land, and Israel’s plague was stayed.”  (verse 25).

PHILIPPIANS 2:13:

“for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose.”

GOD gives us the DESIRE to do His will and…He also enables us to do His will.

ILLUSTRATION:

A young man entered his church one Sunday morning where he started praying before the service began.  He was so anxious to find God’s will for his life that he took out a piece of paper he kept in his bible, writing down all the things he was going to do for God.

He started to PRAY that God might revel to him whether these promises were acceptable to Him.

God whispered in his ear, “This is not the way I want you to find My will.  All I want of you is for you to sign your name and leave the paper blank for Me to fill in.”

 

 

Footnotes:

[i]  Expository Dictionary of Bible Words.

Photo Credit:

Photo Pin

 

 

 

 

 

 

Operating at MAXIMUM Output – Spiritual Gifting (PART 2)

“Having gifts (faculties, talents, qualities) that differ according to the GRACE given us, LET US USE THEM”  (Romans 12:6 AMP).

“LET US USE THEM” Is Operating at MAXIMUM Output:

NUMBER ONE GIFT – PROPHECY

There is a BIG DEBATE today in the churches on whether the GIFT of PROPHECY still exist.  These are the people who want to say, “PROPHECY has PASSED AWAY.”  They use 1 Corinthians 13:8 as their basis:

“As for PROPHESY (the GIFT of interpreting the divine will and purpose), it will be fulfilled and pass away”  being done away with along with TONGUES AND KNOWLEDGE:  “…as for TONGUES, they will be destroyed and cease; as for KNOWLEDGE, it will pass away [it will lose its value and be superseded by TRUTH].”

They then go on to say the “perfect thing” is the Bible.  When the Bible was finished, PROPHECY passed away along with TONGUES and KNOWLEDGE.  I do not agree with this idea and let me tell you why.

I agree with many of today’s evangelical commentators.  When the apostle Paul refers to “the COMPLETE and PERFECT (total) THING COMES”   (1 Corinthians 13:10}, its meaning is referring either to the Second Coming of Christ or the perfection of the human soul, occurring when the Christian is united with Christ Jesus in death:

“That you are not [consciously] falling behind or lacking any spiritual endowment or Christian grace [the reception of which is due to the power of divine GRACE operating in your souls by the Holy Spirit], while you WAIT and WATCH [constantly living in hope] for the COMING of our Lord Jesus Christ and [His] being made visible to ALL”  (1 Corinthians 1:7).

The word PROPHECY, “prophatea”is from the verb “prophatuo” for you Greek students.  Simply, really a base word from the concept of “prophamea”which is PRO, before, and “phaohea“, to speak.  Means to “speak before’.  It doesn’t mean to speak before in time but to speak before in terms of an audience.  It is NOT to speak beforein terms of FORETELLING the future either.  It is to speak before an audience; literally, to speak before SOMEONE; to speak in PUBLIC or publicly proclaiming.  That is the GIFT of PROPHECY.  It is NOT a reference to any content; doesn’t say whether it is REVELATORY; that is, a REVELATION from God directly; or non-revelatory, proclaiming something God already revealed in the past.  It is simply a COMMUNICATIVE GIFT, not a CONTENT GIFT.

NOW WHAT IS THE GIFT OF PROPHECY THEN?

By definition, it is “the ABILITY given by the Spirit of God to a person; to PROCLAIM God’s TRUTH publicly.”  That IS the GIFT!  Look at Chapter 14:3, 1 Corinthians.  This should help you understand:

“EAGERLY PURSUE and seek to acquire LOVE [make it your aim, your great quest]; and earnestly desire and cultivate the spiritual endowments (gifts), ESPECIALLY that you may PROPHESY (interpret the divine will and purpose in inspired preaching and teaching).”

Now God has always given this GIFT and still does in today’s Church.  There has never been a time in history, God’s dealing with men and women, that somebody hasn’t had this GIFT.  God had somebody SPEAKING His Word.  See, that’s all the term means.

The Old Testament for example, abounds with uses of enablement to PROPHESY.  What was the PRIMARY FUNCTION of the Old Testament prophet?  PROCLAIMING God’s Word.  Some of it was FUTURE; some of it was PRESENT; some of it was a reiteration of the PAST.  Very often, the prophets would speak what God had already done (read Habakkuk); read ALL the minor prophets in the Bible.  They would SPEAK about God–what God WAS DOING and what God WOULD do.  But PROPHECY was NOT always PREDICTION; that was only one-third of its capacity and element.

And the New Testament is no different.

PROPHECY is just as vital today because God is not through with revealing Himself.  So in the New Testament, God reveals Himself again; disclosing ALL the MYSTERIES.  In fact, John says in The Book of Revelation:

“Blessed (happy, to be envied) is the man who reads aloud [in the assemblies] the word of this prophecy; and blessed are those who hear [it read] and who keep themselves true to the things which are written in it [heeding them and laying them to heart], for the time [for them to be fulfilled] is near”  (Revelation 1:3 AMP).

Moving on to the SECOND GIFT found in 1 Corinthians 12:8 is THE WORD OF KNOWLEDGE:

To one is given in and through the [Holy] Spirit [the power to SPEAK] a message of wisdom, and to another a word of KNOWLEDGE and understanding.”

Now the word KNOWLEDGE is a ‘speaking gift’, the utterance of KNOWLEDGE.  The Greek word LOGOS can mean “written on a page; spoken to a crowd, spoken privately to individuals.  WHAT IS IT?  It’s speaking KNOWLEDGE and it is a SPECIAL GIFT I might add.  Here is one definition I uncovered: “It’s the Spirit-given ability to observe-listen now-to observe biblical facts and make conclusions.” The spiritual GIFT of observing biblical FACTS and MAKING CONCLUSIONS is the ability to UNDERSTAND the Bible.

There are all different ways this is manifested in the Church.  It can belong to people of your Church that never have been to Bible School or never been to seminary.  BUT…they have the ability to study the Bible, draw out facts and make conclusions by observing.

This GIFT comes in all different energizing s.  There could be a hundred people with it, always working differently in the body.  It might be in combination with WISDOM a little bit, and a little bit of KNOWLEDGE sort of splattered around.

In my own studying and discovery, and writing The WORD Detective blogs, I think maybe I’ve got one-tenth of the GIFT of KNOWLEDGE and nine-tenths of the GIFT of WISDOM.  Sort of mixed and matched.  That is the beauty of how it all works!

I think the BEST BIBLE DEFINITION of the GIFT of KNOWLEDGE is found in 1 Corinthians 13:2:

“And if I have prophetic powers (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose), and understand all the secret truths and mysteries and posses ALL KNOWLEDGE, and if I have [sufficient] faith so I can remove mountains, but have not love (God’s love in me) I am nothing (a useless nobody).”

Paul is saying, “If I have the gift of proclamation (prophecy), and I understand everything that’s proclaimed, then ALL KNOWLEDGE is mine.”  He goes on to make a point on LOVE.  But all I’m really saying and drawing out here is simply, ‘ it is the ability to understand the TRUTH of God.’

The THIRD GIFTING Mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:8 Is The WORD of WISDOM.

The WORD of WISDOM, WHAT IS IT?  The GIFT differs from KNOWLEDGE in this way.  The EMPHASIS is on the skill of application rather than the KNOWLEDGE of FACTS.

WISDOM is the ABILITY to take the FACTS that the gift of KNOWLEDGE has brought out, then makes a skillful application of them through the POWER of the Holy Spirit.

1.  This GIFT could belong to a Christian Counselor; sees a problem and by his Spirit given KNOWLEDGE of the Word of God, draws out the principles that can be practically applied solving the problem.

2.  This is the GIFT of the expositor who takes the Word of God, studies the commentators as I do, then reads from all those who have the GIFT of KNOWLEDGE.  Then can draw the applicable principle of living.

3.  This can be something that a BELIEVER ministers to another BELIEVER in the area of assisting in practical life.

You already know the GIFTS of KNOWLEDGE and WISDOM are so different.  You know people who have so much Bible KNOWLEDGE but not enough WISDOM and are ridiculous when it comes to application; the absent-minded professor.  There is all this ‘STUFF’ in their minds, but can’t make any of it work for them.

The Greek word for WISDOM is Sophia.  12 of the 27 books in the New Testament use this word.  It is seen in FIVE categories with which I’ve listed below:

1.  An attribute of God.

2.  Intellectual ability.

3.  It is seen as the person of Jesus Christ, who is — “the WISDOM of God.

4.  Proud human wisdom OPPOSED to God (James 3).

5.  Its DOMINANT use is “the ability to understand God’s will for our lives and application to obedience.

I’m not going to take time to give you 20 illustrations I’ve uncovered in different Scripture passages, but here are a few you can jot down:

Matthew 11:19; 13:54.

Mark 6:2.

Luke 7:35; 21:15.

Acts 6:10.

James 1:5, 3:13, 17.

2 Peter 3:15.

The DOMINANT USE of WISDOM is mentioned in the above passages.  So after reading the verses listed, what then is the GIFT of WISDOM?  It IS the Holy Spirit-given ability to show us the principles we need to know and obey to fulfill God’s will; operating at MAXIMUM output!

Yes, it had a REVELATORY aspect surely in the early ages.  All of these SPEAKING as the first three SPEAKING GIFTS did so.  But that wasn’t its EXCLUSIVE use.  It is much broader than that, Scripture says, “knowledge makes the teacher; Wisdom the preacher and pastor.”  But let’s go even further than that.  I say, as others do, KNOWLEDGE is collecting the facts; WISDOM is the application.

Now I’ve spent some time on that GIFT for a purpose.  I wanted you to see how important it is that we understand it.  And the people who want to come along to eliminate all those GIFTS: KNOWLEDGE, WISDOM, AND PROPHECY have a problem.  Because if, you eliminate PROPHECY, then what are you going to call those who are PROCLAIMING the Word of God?  If you eliminate KNOWLEDGE, then what are you going to call the theologians; the people who dig out deep truth with their skill?  If you eliminate WISDOM, what are you going to call the GIFT of being able to take TRUTH and apply it to life?  You have to come up with new names because God is still doing it through believers today.

Two Other Speaking Gifts–Four and Five:

Number four, the GIFT of TEACHING.

In Romans 12:7, and this is very important, again it says,  “For ministry, let us wait on our ministry, or he that teacheth” (King James Version).  This is really good!  “He that teacheth on teaching.”  Again, it’s using the definite article.

Here is the GIFT of TEACHING and whatever you teach, let it be consistent with the teaching.  And what is TEACHING?  It’s THIS, isn’t it?  So if you TEACH, be consistent with teaching.  What IS the gift of teaching?; distinguished between the GIFT and the OFFICE?  You can be a teacher in Church as an official position.  And if you were a teacher, you should have the gift of teaching.  But not all who have the GIFT of TEACHING are recognized as OFFICIAL TEACHERS because the gift could be exercised in so many ways.

Let me tell you what the GIFT is:  It is the ABILITY, in the Holy Spirit to pass on TRUTH to somebody else.  That’s simply enough, isn’t it?  PROPHECY is proclaiming Christ to an audience and TEACHING is passing on TRUTH to somebody else so they receive it and implement it.  It is a communicative ability.

FIFTH, The Last Gift is EXHORTATION – Romans 12:8:

“He who EXHORTS, to his exhortation.”

What is the word EXHORTATION?  In the Greek, the words Paracalan; Paraclete; Paracletas. 

We know that word as The Comforter; Holy Spirit.  It means to comfort or help or advise or strengthen.  God has given some people in the body not to necessarily PROCLAIM; dig out the facts, not figure out the principles and apply them in WISDOM, not even to systematically TEACH.  They just go around and sort of STRENGTHEN people; they encourage you; they help you; they advise you.  If you want a simple definition:  It is the ABILITY to provide comfort and courage; help and strength to somebody who needs it.”

When I first started The WORD Detective blog, I became discouraged in the beginning because it seemed no one was viewing the words.  And then two people, who definitely have the GIFT of EXHORTATION encouraged me, comforted me, and gave me strength in their words to diligently pursue ideas through God’s Word at MAXIMUM Output!  Thank you fellow bloggers, JoAnn and Florence.

It also could come through a PROCLAIM ER; could come through the PULPIT.  PROPHECY is EXHORTATION.  It could come through TEACHING; it could come through counseling.  It can come in many ways.  It is the ability to get by somebody who has a problem and build them up; encourage them, bear their load.  People say, “Oh yes.  It’s the GIFT of Counseling.”  WRONG!  Counseling isn’t a GIFT, it’s a PROCESS.   I like Martin Luther’s definition:  “Teaching is directed to the ignorant; exhortation to those who know better.”

Let me finish in PRAYER,

Lord, I thank You for the GIFT that You have given each one of us as believers in  Your Son Jesus.  And we pray that we might minister these gifts for those who have the gift of PROPHECY or PROCLAIMING.  The gift of KNOWLEDGE or WISDOM or TEACHING or STRENGTHENING; we pray, Lord, that they might minister the gift as good stewards of the manifold Grace of God.  As you have poured out these abilities, may we in obedience and thankfulness minister the same to one another.  May we exercise; operate in our gifting s with MAXIMUM output for Your Name’s sake.  On FIRE for Jesus!

In Jesus Name, AMEN.