December 8, 2021

Hosea 10:1–14:9

Hosea 10 highlights the cutting off of Israel’s king, a prophecy of the Assyrian invasion.

Hosea 10:3 (NKJV) “For now they say, “We have no king, because we did not fear the LORD. And as for a king, what would he do for us?”

Hosea 10:7 (NKJV) “As for Samaria, her king is cut off like a twig on the water.

Hosea 10:15 (NKJV) “Thus it shall be done to you, O Bethel, because of your great wickedness, at dawn the king of Israel shall be cut off utterly.”

If only Israel had allowed God to be King, but their hearts were divided (Hosea 10:2), so the glory departed (Hosea 10:5), a perfect formula for disaster.

Hosea does not cease to appeal to the people…they had sown to the wind and were reaping the whirlwind, it was now time to sow good seed! It’s a good word for all of us.

Hosea 10:12 (NKJV) “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the LORD, till He comes and rains righteousness on you.”

In reading through the Scriptures, it’s clear to see that even when God does proclaim judgement on His people, He only does so with one hand, for on the other hand is mercy, and hope, and a continuing love for His children. We see that once again in Hosea 11.

It began with love, Israel was a child, a son of God (Hosea 11:1). God taught them to walk in the Word, He healed them, He drew them to Himself.

Hosea 11:3 (NKJV) “I taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by their arms; but they did not know that I healed them.”

Tragically Israel forgot who made them, who loved them, who redeemed them. Israel forced God’s hand of judgment to fall upon them, and the prophetic punishment was issued “…but the Assyrian shall be his king, because they refused to repent.” (Hosea 11:5) And that’s exactly what happened in 722 B.C..

Hosea 11:7 (NLT) “For my people are determined to desert me. They call me the Most High, but they don’t truly honor me.”

And yet in spite of all this disobedience, God reminds us how he’s not like us, He’s not like man, He’s a gracious God (Hosea 11:9). This passage brings to mind Isaiah 55:7-9 when taken in context. 

God predicted the day Israel would return from captivity and dwell in their own land, in their own houses (Hosea 11:11).

Hosea 12:3 takes us back to Jacob’s birth, an early indication that he would be a heel-catcher, a manipulator, and we might criticize him for this because he did it the wrong way at times, but at least he had aspirations.

Hosea 12:4 takes us back to that time when Jacob wrestled with the Angel of the LORD, an account we can read of in Genesis 32:22-32. Jacob wouldn’t let Him go until He blessed him, and the angel gave him a limp. This limp would be a blessing for the rest of his life, teaching him to rely on the Lord. Hosea encourages us to do what Jacob did – look to God for the blessings that only He can give. Hosea writes:

Hosea 12:6 (NKJV) “So you, by the help of your God, return; observe mercy and justice, and wait on your God continually.

Sadly, when Israel prospered, they no longer relied on the Lord – – it’s hard for a rich man (Matthew 19:23). If only they would have recalled the day when God raised up Moses who was the vessel to lead them out of slavery, then they may have taken to heart the truth that the LORD had proven Himself their God, ever since the land of Egypt (Hosea 12:9, 13).

Hosea 13:1 brings to mind:

Isaiah 66:2 (NKJV) “…but on this one will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word.”

When Ephraim (Israel) trembled at God’s Word they were exalted. But when He turned from God’s Word and began to worship other gods, they died, and Hosea said, “Now they sin more and more.” (Hosea 13:1-2)

Back in chapter 10 of Hosea we saw the cutting away of the king of Israel, but if you go back farther, it all started the day they cut God off from being their King. God therefore gave them a king (Saul) in His anger, and took him away in His wrath (Hosea 13:11). Why won’t we simply submit to His majesty…King Jesus! There is no other king, there is no other Savior!

I like to ask Jehovah Witnesses, “Who is your Savior?” If they say Jehovah God, I say yes, you’re right, that’s what we read here in Hosea 13:4, the the LORD (Yahweh, Jehovah God) is their Savior and there is no other Savior but Him. Then I ask them about Jesus, “Is He your Savior?” If they say “no,” I take them to a number of passages in the Bible, such as  Acts 13:2; Philippians 3:20; 2 Timothy 1:10; and Titus 1:4; 2:13, and many other passages that explicitly refer to Jesus as our Savior. If Jehovah God says, “there is no Savior besides Me,” and Jesus is repeatedly referred to as Savior, then Jesus is indeed the LORD Jehovah-God, the Second Person of the blessed Trinity (see also Isaiah 43:10-11).

Hosea 14 ends the book on a gracious invitation and declaration.

Hosea 14:1–2 (NKJV) “O Israel, return to the LORD your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity; 2 Take words with you, and return to the LORD. Say to Him, ‘Take away all iniquity; receive us graciously, for we will offer the sacrifices of our lips.’”

No longer will Israel look to other nations, other gods, or even themselves for salvation, the day will come when they look to the Lord. He will heal their backsliding, love them freely, cause them to grow, branches, buds, and beauty, they will one day be revived spiritually. 

In His love He disciplines us. His anger is only for a moment, His favor is for life. Even in wrath He remembers mercy, we see this over and over again in Scriptures. I pray we would know this…and I pray we would return to and remain in our first love (Revelation 2:4).

Jude 1:1-25

This is a short book but wow, does it pack a punch – there is so much here! When I taught the book of Jude back in 2019, it took me six weeks to get through this one chapter. Jude initially wanted to write a simple word of encouragement, but God had different plans and prompted him to write a letter of warning, urging the church to contend earnestly for the faith.

As you read through Jude you’ll notice the similarity between this work and Peter’s second letter, and there’s no doubt that Jude referenced Peter’s letter, but there are slight differences including the fact that Peter wrote his letter before it happened, while Jude wrote his letter after it happened. That certain men had crept into the church as false teachers and were turning the grace of God into a license to sin.

Jude writes to warn and remind the people that God knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and how to judge the ungodly – big time! Just as God judged certain people in the days of the Exodus who did not believe. Just as God sentenced the fallen angels who crossed lines of demarcation, and are reserved in darkness awaiting the judgment of the great day. Just as God judged Sodom and Gomorrah, because of the fact that they went after “strange flesh,” in reference to the blatant homosexuality of that city. God is holy and just, and we must remember, He is the Judge of all the earth (Genesis 18:25).

Jude reveals that these men, who could be identified as tares among the wheat (see Matthew 13:24-30) speak evil of dignitaries and reject authority. Jude mentions however, that even Michael the Archangel didn’t have the audacity to do that, as a matter of fact, when Michael contended with the Devil over the body of Moses, he didn’t go toe-to-toe with him, he said, “The Lord rebuke you!” Some people have no problem whatsoever speaking disrespectfully to their spiritual leaders, but here’s Michael speaking humbly…even to the devil himself. Now, just as a side-note, we don’t have the Biblical record of why the devil wanted the dead body of Moses; perhaps he wanted to desecrate the body, some even suggest that he wanted to possess Moses’ body.

Jude exposes these men as haters like Cain who was greedy for gain, prophets for profit like Balaam, and also as rebels towards authority like Korah (Numbers 16).

There they were in the “love feasts” of the early church…without love. They were only in it for what they could get out of it. They were like clouds without water appearing to bring help, but unable to produce. They were unsaved and therefore fruitless, not just dead, but twice dead, roots and all, dangerous waves of the sea (the sea symbolic of the mass of humanity – the antichrist will rise from the sea – Revelation 13:1) – God has reservations for these men…blackness and darkness forever! Enoch spoke of their judgment one day when Jesus comes back and there we are with Him at His return.

Today, there are still many false teachers amongst us. May we contend for the truth, share with the lost (with urgency), and build ourselves up on our most holy faith…keeping ourselves in the love of God, right smack dab in the middle of that sphere of blessing.

Psalm 127:1-5

This Psalm of Ascents was written by Solomon. The first verse is one of my favorites passages in all the Bible.

Psalm 127:1 (NKJV) “Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.”

I’ve always applied it to the church, but it is applicable to so much more. We can build, we can birth, we can labor with the greatest care and skill, but if God’s not in it, that “house” will fall (Matthew 7:24-27). The same is true with guarding the city or guarding the family, unless the Lord protects us, we’re sitting ducks. Jesus put it this way:

John 15:5 (NKJV) “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”

This Psalm encourages me to do things God’s way and to trust Him. I’ll build, and I’ll watch, but I will also pray and trust in the Lord.

The primary part of that “house” is our families. We see in this Psalm that children are a blessing not a burden. Children are a reward from God. Children are like “arrows” we send out into the world as warriors for the Almighty. “Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them…” Did you catch that word – “happy?” It expresses the fact that children bring happiness – and although I can’t speak for every family, it’s almost as if Solomon is revealing, the more, the merrier.

I’m not saying you have to have 18 children. I just hope our perspective as God’s people is Biblical, that children are an absolute blessing from God.

Proverbs 29:15-17

Proverbs 29:15 (NKJV) “The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.” Proverbs 29:17 (NKJV) “ Correct your son, and he will give you rest; yes, he will give delight to your soul.”

Tragically our society has largely abandoned the concept of correcting our kids. Back in 1949 Dr. Spock told us not to spank our children and millions of parents took His Word over God’s. Today an entire society is paying the price.

It’s okay to discipline our small children with a swat of sort on the place of padding. Never out of anger, never hard enough to injur or leave a mark, and probably not something we do with our hand (our hands should be instruments of affection – although I have seen firsthand an effective slap that has changed lives for good). A little rod or paddle will suffice, however, so our children don’t end up like the undisciplined sons of Eli, who both died in their sins (1 Samuel 2:12-17; 22-36; 4:11)

“In Hebrew the rod of correction literally reads “the rod and correction.” Either the rod is the instrument of correction (in which case a figure of speech called a hendiadys is used), or both the rod (physical punishment; cf. 13:24; 22:15; 23:13–14) and verbal correction (lit., “rebuke”) are to be used. A child who is not disciplined and is left to himself (allowed to do as he pleases and have whatever he wants) will become an unruly person. He will disgrace (bring shame to; cf. 19:26; 28:7) his mother.” Disciplining one’s son results in the parents having peace and joy later because their son will behave and grow wiser (cf. 10:1).” – Bible Knowledge Commentary

Parenting is very difficult and humbling. None of us are perfect parents, but I remember hearing many years ago that the first phase with our children is establishing loving authority. When that’s established we can move on to teaching our children (we can’t teach without authority). After teaching comes coaching, and after coaching comes the final phase of friendship, without ever losing that heart of a parent.

Proverbs 29:16 (NKJV) When the wicked are multiplied, transgression increases; but the righteous will see their fall.

Nowadays – the wicked are being multiplied even more – it’s not just simple addition, it’s multiplication!

We now live in tumultuous times of transgression…but don’t think they’re getting away with it, one day – we (the saved) will witness their judgment.

December 7, 2021

Hosea 6:1–9:17

What a beautiful invitation Hosea opens chapter 6 with:

Hosea 6:1–2 (NKJV) “Come, and let us return to the LORD; for He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up. 2 After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His sight.”

Gracious words to Israel, to all who have sinned, who’ve drifted from God, even defied the Lord – although He’s disciplined He will not deny us, if we return with a repentant heart. He even offers the resurrected life! Notice in Hosea 6:3 the way God responds:

Hosea 6:3 (NLT) “Oh, that we might know the LORD! Let us press on to know him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.”

He is willing and waiting to bless us with showers from heaven…as sure as the rising of the sun.

But Israel and Judah did not respond to the warning of Hosea. He identifies in detail their many, many, sins.

They were unfaithful (Hosea 6:4) and very religious, but without heart (Hosea 6:6). Their spiritual harlotry was horrible (Hosea 6:10).

We see the same indictment in chapter 7. As we’ve read, God is willing to restore the repentant, to heal the sick (Hosea 7:1) but the iniquity of Ephraim and the wickedness of Samaria continued. What were they thinking in doing such things? I have a hunch they weren’t thinking at all.

Hosea 7:2 (NKJV) “They do not consider in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness; now their own deeds have surrounded them; they are before My face.”

Adulterers, alcoholics, full-on friends with the world, so much so that foreigners had devoured their strength (Hosea’s 7:8). It was obvious that they were headed for trouble, but they were too proud to get right with God.

Hosea 7:10 (NKJV) “And the pride of Israel testifies to his face, but they do not return to the LORD their God, nor seek Him for all this.”

Things like this can happen in different degrees. It might be someone who is obviously in a backslidden condition, or someone who is backslidden in heart (Proverbs 14:1; Isaiah 57:17; Acts 7:39).

When the hard times inevitably hit, who do we turn to? The best thing is for us to return to the Lord, but we read in Hosea 7:11-16 how Israel turned to Egypt and Assyria for help and not God.

They did not cry out to God (Hosea 7:14)

They did not return to the Most High (Hosea 7:16)

As a matter of fact, they fled from God (Hosea 7:13)

Hosea advised the people to blow the trumpet (the shofar), in order to signal the impending battle, the invasion of the Assyrians. Their idolatry was their downfall. 

Idolatry is a common temptation. A person can be engaged in the worship of other gods, praying to statues or saints, or simply putting someone or something before God. I always have to ask myself, “Is God truly first in my life?”

1 John 5:21 (NKJV) “Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.”

Matthew 6:33 (NKJV) “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

Tragically because Israel worshipped the calf (Hosea 8:4) and the Baals and everything else under the sun, they planted seeds of sin and were about to reap a horrible harvest. They had sown the wind, and were about to reap the whirlwind (Hosea 8:7). It’s true, we reap what we sow.

Galatians 6:7–8 (NKJV) “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.”

I can honestly say that one of the greatest gifts God has given to us is the Bible. It’s obvious to me that it’s truth from the top, it’s the perfect precepts and principles for all people; it’s the revelation of God. The Bible has proven itself in numerous ways, especially in the aspect of fulfilled prophecy. Jesus Himself validated the inspiration of the Old Testament and guaranteed the inspiration of the New (John 16:13). It makes perfect sense to me that if there is a Creator God (and there is) He would put the important things in “writing.” The reason I bring all this up is because of Hosea 8:12:

Hosea 8:12 (NKJV) “I have written for him the great things of My law, but they were considered a strange thing.”

God has written for us His wonderful Word. But the people of the world consider it strange, foreign, alien, and weird. I was talking to someone the other day and to say that they considered me strange, would be putting it mildly. It was exactly what Hosea 8:12 declares.

This section might be summarized in:

Hosea 8:14 (NKJV) “For Israel has forgotten his Maker, and has built temples; Judah also has multiplied fortified cities; but I will send fire upon his cities, and it shall devour his palaces.”

Hosea 9 continues the declaration of judgment upon Israel. Some would return to bondage in Egypt, most would be carried away to Assyria (Hosea 9:3).

It’s hard, if not downright impossible to get right with God if the people despise the true prophets of God…but that’s what happened in Israel!

Hosea 9:7–8 (NLT) “The time of Israel’s punishment has come; the day of payment is here. Soon Israel will know this all too well. Because of your great sin and hostility, you say, “The prophets are crazy and the inspired men are fools!” 8 The prophet is a watchman over Israel for my God, yet traps are laid for him wherever he goes. He faces hostility even in the house of God.”

Before God judged Israel, He had clearly warned them. Hosea 9:9 tells us that things were so sinful, it had reached the stages of Gibeah. If you cross reference Judges 19:22 you’ll find that this is in reference to times of blatant homosexuality. What we find is any society who turns their back on God, will experience more and more of this type of sickening sin, because God no longer restrains them, but allows them to have their way (see also Romans 1:26-27). It was an abomination (Hosea 9:10).

Hosea 9:17 (NKJV) “My God will cast them away, because they did not obey Him; and they shall be wanderers among the nations.”

And that’s exactly what happened not many years later.

3 John 1:1-15

When I was a young Christian I remember learning the different books of the Bible, and their themes, with some very creative flashcards. According to these particular flashcards the theme of 2 John was, “Close the Door,” and the theme of 3 John was “Open the Door.” When you read through these 2 letters you understand the reason for the simple synopsis – in 2 John we are taught to “close the door” to false teachers, and in 3 John we are taught to “open the door” to true teachers of God’s Word.

Once again we have John the Beloved Apostle writing as an Elder, this time to a brother named Gaius, who appears to be a one of John’s “children,” in the sense that John may have been instrumental in leading him to the Lord. Someone had testified to John that Gaius was walking in the truth, and I echo his sentiments with enthusiasm, that there is no greater joy! As a parent and a pastor I agree wholeheartedly…there really is no greater joy than to see our children, honestly and genuinely in love with Jesus! I can have the most successful career or ministry, or be blessed financially, but if my children didn’t know the Lord, it would be tough if not impossible to experience the fulness of joy.

John writes this letter to let the church know that it’s good to welcome faithful ministers and missionaries into their homes, and then to send them out on their way with prayers, words of encouragement, and even financial support at times. John mentions in 3 John 1:7 that they didn’t receive donations from non-believers (a good attribute), so the believers should show them hospitality, and send them forward in a manner worthy of God.

Apparently there was a man in the church named Diotrophes who liked to have preeminence and power, who wasn’t allowing the people to help genuine servants of the Lord. Diotrophes even opposed John! John said that when he arrived, he was going to deal with Diotrophes and discipline him, because he spoke maliciously, didn’t receive the brethren, and forbade others to do so. What a drag to see some disciples so pridefully divisive. John had learned his lesson, he had a vision for the entire body of Christ (see Luke 9:51-56).

John encourages the church not to imitate (mimic) what is evil, but to imitate what is good – this is the fruit, the evidence of salvation. If a person only does evil, they simply are not born again!

John mentions a man named Demetrius who had probably been rejected by Diotrophes. John tells the church he’s a good guy, it’s okay to receive him, to show him hospitality, and to support his ministry. He had been recommended by the Apostle himself.

One of the things I’ve learned over the years is we need to know the truth well enough, so that we know when to divide, and when to unite.

Again, John is hoping to visit them…it’s always better when it’s done in person (if possible).

Psalm 126:1-6

Scholars are not sure on the exact background to this Psalm. Some take it at face value and see it as a time when Israel was brought back from captivity, while others say it was when the LORD defeated the Assyrian army which had surrounded Jerusalem.

Whatever the occasion was, it was like a dream come true for the people. 

Have you ever experienced anything like this? When God moves and blesses in such a glorious way that it feels like you’re dreaming?

We see it, others see it, and even say it, “The LORD has done great things for them. The LORD has done great things for us, and we are glad.”

The Psalmist prays for God to move again. It may have even been a time of tears (Psalm 126:5). Since this was a song of ascents, (they would sing this Psalm on their way to Jerusalem) the songwriter knew, we frequently go through hard times. It’s just a reality of life because we live in a broken world. Has it been hard for you lately? Have you been sowing in tears? Don’t lose heart my friend, cling to this promise:

Psalm 126:5 (NKJV) “Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy.”

God is aware of every tear (Psalm 56:8), He has a purpose for every pain, and a harvest for every hurt.

Psalm 30:5 (NKJV) “For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”

Proverbs 29:12-14

Proverbs 29:12 (NKJV) “If a ruler pays attention to lies, all his servants become wicked.”

It could be the lies of his advisors, it could be the lies of the reporters. We now live in the land of lies more than ever, fake news with diabolic agendas; and even if you’re not busy with that occupation, the population is just as bad. People are simply believing what’s being fed to them or what they want to believe, by whoever they choose to listen to. It’s almost as if they can’t think for themselves.

“If a ruler takes the advice of liars, then he encourages wickedness in the people around him. But if he instead rewards honesty then it will be encouraged and falsehood will be punished (cf. 20:8, 28).” – Bible Knowledge Commentary

The rule of a ruler is to only rule on those things he knows to be true…has the information been validated? Is it completely true or only partially true? A rumor? A possibility? Be careful.

“They are so because they deceive him, and they become so; for instead of saying the truth which the ruler does not wish to hear, they seek to gain his favor by deceitful flatteries, misrepresentations, exaggerations, falsehoods.” – Keil & Delitzsch

Proverbs 29:13 (NKJV) “The poor man and the oppressor have this in common: the Lord gives light to the eyes of both.”

We usually see the poor man as right in God’s sight, and the oppressor on the other extreme, but God’s common grace covers them both – with light to see. The question is, what do we view with those eyes? May that common grace (creation) lead to special grace (salvation).

Proverbs 22:2 (NKJV) “The rich and the poor have this in common, the Lord is the maker of them all.”

God not only gives light, He gives life!

Jesus calls us all to show this common grace – even to our enemies!

Matthew 5:44–45 (NKJV) “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

Proverbs 29:14 (NKJV) “The king who judges the poor with truth, his throne will be established forever.”

God has a special place in His heart for the poor (the poor are prominent – mentioned 35 times in the Proverbs). God raises up rulers with a responsibility to look after those sincerely struggling financially.

“Fairness (cf. v. 7) toward those least able to care for themselves (the poor, dal, “feeble, weak, helpless”; see comments on 10:15) is a mark of a good king (cf. v. 4) whose throne is therefore secure (cf. 16:12; 20:28). God blesses rulers who are concerned about the poor, and people appreciate such rulers.” – Bible Knowledge Commentary

How do I treat those who can “help” me the least? A true test of character.

December 6, 2021

Hosea 4:1–5:15

The LORD brought charges against His people Israel…and what heavy charges they were!

No truth, no mercy, no knowledge of God in the land. Killing, stealing, adultery, they lost all restraint, it was bloodshed upon bloodshed. God would therefore bring judgment so severe, that even the land would mourn.

The priests were off, the prophets stumbled, they did not know the Lord, as a matter of fact, that’s why they were “destroyed,” – – and they all paid the price.

Hosea 4:6 (NKJV) “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.”

We must know the Lord, and much of that comes by knowing His Word…from the heart.

The northern kingdom of Israel didn’t worship according to the Word of God, they did not have the Temple of God, so it makes perfect sense that their “priests” were not of God. The more priests they had, the worse it was (Hosea 4:7-8 numbers are not important) – the priests followed the people rather than leading them closer to God – so God would judge them both.

When we have no relationship with God, we will become slaves to sin. In this case they were slaves to wine, they had become idolatrous alcoholics, foolishly asking counsel from lifeless idols. They did religion their way, and the world’s way, and they fell far away from God.

Much of the blame was because of their leaders – from the king all the way down to the so called priest and prophets.

Hosea 4:18–19 (NLT) “When the rulers of Israel finish their drinking, off they go to find some prostitutes. They love shame more than honor. 19 So a mighty wind will sweep them away. Their sacrifices to idols will bring them shame.”

Jesus told us what would happen in situation like this:

Matthew 15:14b (NKJV) “They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch.”

Hosea 5 continues to warn Israel and extends his words to Judah as well. Sometimes people think they can hide their sin from God, and yet He sees everything!

Hosea 5:3b (NKJV) “…Israel is not hidden from Me.”

The writer to the Hebrews said the same thing, and added the logical warning:

Hebrews 4:13 (NKJV) “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”

The Jews were under the spell of the spirit of harlotry, they could not turn back, they did not know the Lord, their pride led to their fall.

NKJV Study Bible, “The OT frequently uses prostitution as an image of the sin of idolatry. Israel was pledged to serve one God (Ex. 20:3), so idolatry was like marital unfaithfulness against the Lord. Jeremiah and Ezekiel develop this image in graphic detail (Jeremiah 3; Ezekiel 16; 23), and Hosea actually married a prostitute as a living symbol of God’s patience with Israel’s infidelities (see ch. 1).”

Sometimes people think they can play with sin and get back on track after they’re through having “fun.” But here we see it doesn’t work that way. They couldn’t find their way back, and then, when they did seek the Lord, it was too late, He had withdrawn himself from them.

Isaiah 55:6 (NKJV) “Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near.”

It got so bad that Israel began to enter into pagan marriages, and raise pagan children (Hosea 5:7). Desolation was therefore the future of this nation (Hosea 5:9), “…because he willingly walked by human precept.”

It’s tragic to see that God’s people looked to help from this fallen world, entering into a treaty with Assyria. Bible Knowledge Commentary, “This probably refers to Hoshea’s alliance with Assyria (2 Kings 17:3) at the time he usurped the throne of Israel (cf. 2 Kings 15:30).”

Why is it that some people have to learn the hard way? God allowed Assyria to be taken away in 722 B.C., and Judah in 586 B.C. – it wasn’t until then that they would finally seek God earnestly.

Hosea 5:14–15 (NKJV) “For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, and like a young lion to the house of Judah. I, even I, will tear them and go away; I will take them away, and no one shall rescue. 15 I will return again to My place till they acknowledge their offense. Then they will seek My face; in their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.”

The purpose of God’s discipline was to drive the people back to Him. We must acknowledge our offense…and seek God’s face (His pure presence) earnestly. This is what Jeremiah also wrote to the captive Jews in Babylon – in those infamous verses:

Jeremiah 29:11–13 (NKJV) “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”

2 John 1:1-13

The Apostle John writes this brief letter as an Elder, to the “elect lady and her children.” Some believe the elect lady is to be taken literally and refers to a sister who opened her home for God’s people to meet for fellowship (the early church often met in houses); while others believe the elect lady to be a reference to the church as a whole, as the bride of Christ.

The motive is love – John loves the people and wants to protect them from false teachers.

We don’t know the whole scenario, but somewhere along the line John ran into a few people from the fellowship and he rejoiced greatly because they were walking in truth. We’ll see later in 3 John 4 John says there’s no greater joy than when you see that…children walking in truth. 

I’m speculating here, but maybe those children informed John about some of the people who were attending the fellowship and bringing the Gnostic heresy into the church. Maybe that conversation spearheaded this little letter of warning about deceivers who do not confess Jesus Christ as “coming in the flesh.” Now, this is an interesting statement in the Greek language because it speaks not only of Jesus’ incarnation in the flesh, but also His resurrection in the flesh, how even when He rose from the dead He had a body that could be touched; Jesus even ate with them. The Jehovah Witnesses deny the bodily resurrection of Jesus and so, even though there are many “nice” Jehovah Witnesses, their teaching is heresy, we must not welcome them in to Christendom with this doctrine.

John warns the church, “Look to yourselves,” watch out, or you may not receive a full reward when you stand before Jesus Christ! We don’t want to lose the things we’ve worked so hard for…all these years, through a moment of indiscretion, wherein we think it’s loving to be inclusive with the cults. That’s not love. True love warns, it makes a stand, it holds to the doctrine of the disciples found in the pages of Scripture. We are not to allow false teachers into our fellowships, into our homes to study with, or into our churches so that they can have a platform to propagate their lies and potentially deceive others. This is why I as a pastor need to be so very careful in who I associate with or allow to speak from our church pulpit.

Jesus also warned us in:

Matthew 7:15 (NKJV) “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.”

Friend, test everything you hear, and protect yourself, your family, and friends by not fellowshipping with false teachers.

John closes the letter with a wish to see everyone in person – that would bring him joy and bless his heart. Nowadays we like letters, text messaging, or maybe phone calls, but the best fellowship is face to face, and heart to heart.

Psalm 125:1-5

The Songs of Ascents continue. These would be the songs the pilgrims would sing on their way, as they journeyed and ascended to Jerusalem.

If we trust the LORD, we’re compared to Mount Zion, a mountain that can never be moved. I think of  a couple of passages that touch on God’s part and ours:

Psalm 55:22 (NKJV) “Cast your burden on the LORD, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.”

1 Corinthians 15:58 (NKJV) “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

Not only Mount Zion, but now think of all the mountains surrounding Jerusalem. This is a picture of the way the LORD surrounds us, His people – and not just now, but forever more.

The Psalmist knew that Jerusalem would not end with the reign of the wicked – but along the way there would be good as well as bad in the world of men and even in the city of God – so he prays.

Do good to the good…Lord, to those who trust You. (Psalm 125:4)

Deal with the disobedient accordingly, Lord, hear me, don’t let them be. (Psalm 125:5a)

Ultimately, Lord, please, bring peace to Your people. (Psalm 125:5b)

Proverbs 29:9-11

Proverbs 29:9 (NKJV) “If a wise man contends with a foolish man, whether the fool rages or laughs, there is no peace.”

The fool won’t listen to the wise man, and whether the conversation ends in rage or laughter, any hope for peace will be superficial at best. Until a person surrenders his or her heart to Jesus Christ they will never be part of a good and “full” life, it will only always be a “fool” life.

Derek Kidner, “The general sense is clear: there is no arguing calmly with a fool.”

“Trying to win a court case with a fool (’ěwil, “an arrogant, hardened fool”) should be avoided because he follows his emotions rather than logic (Proverbs 27:3) as he keeps things in turmoil (no peace) with his angry (Proverbs 29:11) ranting (raging and scoffing).” – Bible Knowledge Commentary

NET Notes, “The verb שָׁפַט (shafat) means “to judge.” In the Niphal stem it could be passive, but is more frequently reciprocal: “to enter into controversy” or “to go to court.” The word is usually used in connection with a lawsuit (so many recent English versions), but can also refer to an argument (e.g., 1 Sam 12:7; Isa 43:26); cf. NAB “disputes”; NASB “has a controversy.”

Proverbs 29:10 (NKJV) “The bloodthirsty hate the blameless, but the upright seek his well-being.”

Just as love is the fruit of the Spirit of God, hatred is the fruit of the enemy of God. The Devil and his hellish hosts hate all those created in the image of God, but especially those who follow completely, wholeheartedly, and unreservedly after God…the blameless.

Proverbs 29:11 (NKJV) “A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back.”

A fool who vents just opens up and lets it out, they shoot the lip from the hip, there is no wisdom whatsoever, nothing good comes out of their mouth, just the yuck, like vomit – it’s heartbreaking to think that many times it’s verbal abuse.

I honestly believe that the taming of the tongue is one of the primary keys to victory in all of our lives.

1 Peter 3:10 (NKJV) “For “He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit.

James 1:19–20 (NKJV) “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”

“A fool (kesîl; see comments on 1:7) readily gives in to anger (cf. 15:1; 29:8, 22), but a wise person maintains self-control (cf. 14:29; 16:32). Keeps himself under control is literally, “calms it back” like stilling a storm. The verb is used only here and in Psalms 65:7; 89:9 where it refers to calming the sea’s waves.” – Bible Knowledge Commentary

Derek Kidner, “…the stilling of a storm, speaks of anger overcome, not merely checked.”

There is a difference.

December 5, 2021


Hosea 1:1–3:5

We now enter into the final stretch of the Old Testament, the 12 Minor Prophets. They’re not labeled “Minor” because they’re any less significanct, it’s primarily due to their brevity.

You’ll notice in the chart above that they’re not placed in chronological order, with Obadiah, Joel, Jonah, and Amos all taking place before Hosea – but the final three books, which are post-exilic, ARE in order, followed by 400 years of silence…before the New Testament.

Hosea’s ministry took place in the 8th century B.C., during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah – in the southern kingdom, and Jeroboam II in the northern kingdom. Hosea was writing primarily to Israel (the northern kingdom) warning them of their sin (spiritual adultery) and impending judgment, while simultaneously promising them that they’d be disciplined, but not destroyed.

In chapter 1 Hosea is commanded to marry a gal named Gomer. Some say she was already a harlot, others believe this was prophetic – that the day would come when she would leave Hosea for harlotry. Either way, God was communicating to Hosea that his marriage would be a picture of God’s marriage with Israel. Israel had been unfaithful to God, she’d given herself to Baal, the calf, and other gods. Their national situation is seen in the names of Hosea’s children, names given to them by God.

Jezreel – this points to God’s future vengeance on Israel

Lo-Ruhamah – this literally means, “no mercy,” for Israel

Lo-Ammi – literally means, “not My people”

God’s mercy would no longer shelter the people from the storm, the Assyrians would come in 722 B.C. and cary Israel away. They had drifted so far from God, that they did not know the Lord, they were NOT His people any longer. Israel had been living in idolatry for 200 years so God was about to judge Israel, but He would not forsake her. Isn’t it interesting that the end of chapter 1 speaks of the last days, when Israel will be restored (see Romans 9-11 for Israel’s past, present, and future). Below is a chart that provides an even bigger picture.

In Hosea 2:1-5 we see the charges against Israel. Just as a spouse can be unfaithful and fall into sexual sin, so Israel who had entered into this covenant and love relationship with God, had been unfaithful. It’s the equivalent of spiritual adultery.

Hosea 2:5a (NKJV) “For their mother has played the harlot; she who conceived them has behaved shamefully.”

In Hosea 2:6-13 we read of God’s chastening upon Israel. It was intended to correct them, so God would limit their freedom in order to bring them back to their first love (Hosea 2:7). It’s sad to read of the way this nation, this people went after the world and all the idols of the day, her lovers…and had forgotten God (Hosea 2:13).

In Hosea 2:14-23 we have God’s promise of restoration to the nation. In wrath He remembers mercy (Habakkuk 3:2). God would allure her and comfort her (Hosea 2:14). It wouldn’t merely be a master-servant relationship it would be reconciliation between husband and wife (Hosea 2:16). They would be His people once again. This won’t completely happen to Israel until midway through the Tribulation Period.

Just as a quick side-note, tragically many marriages can relate to the book of Hosea. Sadly unfaithfulness is a huge problem in the world today, and even in the church. God does allow the freedom to divorce if a spouse has committed adultery, but when there’s true repentance, there can also be true reconciliation.

Hosea 3 reveals the Nature of Love

1. Commanded (Hosea 3:1a)

2. Unconditional (Hosea 3:1b)

3. Supernatural (Hosea 3:1c)

4. Sacrificial (Hosea 3:2)

5. Covenantal (Hosea 3:3)

6. Fruitful/Beneficial (Hosea 3:4-5)

1 John 5:1-21

In this final chapter of 1 John, he uses the word “faith” once, and the word “believes” three times. This is how we’re saved! Whoever “believes” that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God (1 John 5:1). And this is the victory that has overcome the world, our faith, as we believe that Jesus is the Son of God (1nJohn 5:4-5). The moment we place our faith in Jesus Christ the Holy Spirit comes and lives within us as a witness that we’re saved (1 John 5:10; Romans 8:16). I’m so grateful that we’re saved by faith and not works, by believing and not by behaving, because although true Christians will always have works, and our lives will change, we will not be perfect on this side of time – by any means.

If you’ve read through the book of 1 John you definitely walk away with the message that true salvation means we show our love for God by keeping His commandments, which by the way, are not burdensome (1 John 5:3). The two most important “commandments” are to love God and to love others, we cannot say we love God if we don’t love others.

The water and blood in 1 John 5:6 are most likely a reference to the humanity of Jesus and contextually speaking, are emphasized because of the false teaching of Gnosticism, which denied that Jesus actually came in the flesh. Others believe it points to Jesus’ baptism (water) and death (blood). The latter view seems to fit well with 1 John 5:8 as a witness with the Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is gathering a bride for Jesus, He’s drawing men, women, and children to the Lord. He’s telling us about Jesus Christ, the Son of God, given by the Father, and born to die in our place. The Holy Spirit speaks to our hearts that all we have to do is believe in Jesus as the Lord and Savior of our lives and there we will find freedom and forgiveness – it’s true, so amazing, so wonderful. The moment we believe, we can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we’re saved, and we have a future home in heaven. Some people don’t have that assurance, they wonder and wait, because they’re basing it upon their own good works or religion. Such people will never enter the Kingdom of God. John wrote this letter for this very purpose (1 John 5:13). to communicate the truth that if we believe in Jesus, and simply keep believing, we can KNOW we have eternal life. 

I know I’m going to heaven, but it’s not because I’m a good person (because I’m not when I compare myself to God). I KNOW I’m going to heaven because I have placed my faith in Jesus Christ.

1 John 5:14 is such an important passage, because it teaches us that God is gracious to hear us and answer our prayers, when they are offered up according to His will. So the balance is, we won’t receive if we don’t ask, or if we’re asking with improper motives (James 4:2) and we won’t receive if the request is contrary to God’s will (thank You Lord), but God Himself will answer every prayer in His timing  – when – it’s in accordance to His will. So part of the prayer “process” is learning to discover the will of God.

1 John 5:16-17 are tough verses to interpret. If you see a brother or sister doing something that may lead to their physical death, don’t simply pray, act immediately, intervene. Other situations may find us praying for a while, praying from a distance but not necessarily intervening with the same urgency.

As we close this chapter and letter we’re encouraged to live holy lives. God’s children, who have God’s seed (1 John 3:9), shouldn’t continue in persistent, consistent, and insistent sin. When we keep ourselves in the love of God (Jude 21) we do our part in abiding and staying close to Christ. It’s a battle because we’re not only going against the grain of who we are, we’re going against the flow of the world system (which lies under the sway of the wicked one).

“Little children” – John the Beloved now in his 90’s is able to say that. You can sense his love, care, and concern for us children, in his closing words, “…keep yourselves from idols.” Don’t let anything or anyone come before or between you and the Lord.

Before we leave this chapter I’d like to share in a little more detail – a bit about “The Comma Johanneum,” also known as the Johannine Comma, which is a textual variant in respect to 1 John 5:7.

There are different opinions on this, but it is highly unlikely that the Comma Johanneum was originally a part of 1 John. None of the oldest Greek manuscripts of 1 John contain it, and none of the very early church fathers include it when quoting or referencing 1 John 5:7-8. The presence of the Comma Johanneum in Greek manuscripts is actually quite rare until the 15th century A.D. It is primarily found in Latin manuscripts. While some of the Latin manuscripts containing the Comma Johanneum are ancient, the Comma Johanneum did not appear in the original Latin Vulgate written by Jerome.

In the 16th century, when Desiderius Erasmus was compiling what became known as the Textus Receptus, he did not include the Comma Johanneum in the 1st or 2nd editions. Due to intense pressure from the Catholic Church and others who wanted it included because of its support for trinitarianism, Erasmus included the Comma Johanneum in later editions of the Textus Receptus. His decision resulted in the Comma Johanneum being included in the King James Version of the Bible and later in the New King James Version. None of the modern Greek texts (UBS 4, Nestle-Aland 27, Majority Text) contain the Comma Johanneum. Of all the modern English translations, only the New King James Version includes the Comma Johanneum.

While it would be convenient for there to be an explicit statement confirming the Trinity in the Bible, it is highly unlikely that the Comma Johanneum was originally a part of 1 John. What the Comma Johanneum says is true, and I am a firm believer in the essential doctrine of the Trinity, we must rely on the many other passages of the Bible where this truth is clearly and emphatically taught, as the basis for our proof texts.

Psalm 124:1-8

If you’re a believer you should say it…go ahead and say it (out loud) – “If it had not been the LORD who was on our side…then they would have swallowed us alive.”

Sometimes I’m struck with the fact that if it weren’t for God’s constant protection, the enemy would have killed and consumed me from day one. The Bible says that Satan is roaming about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8).

But God has protected us from our enemies, God has protected us from spiritual Tsunamis, God has protected us from their traps and all of their teeth.

It’s good to sing that Psalm, that song, regarding the fact that the Lord is on our side, He’s our helper in life, who happens to be the same One who made heaven and earth!

Does that comfort you? I hope it does.

Proverbs 29:5-8

Proverbs 29:5 (NKJV) “A man who flatters his neighbor spreads a net for his feet.”

Spreads a net for whose feet? Probably both, they’re both trapped, but especially the flattered.

“The word “flatters” literally means to make (a person) smooth.” In Proverbs 2:16 and Proverbs 7:5 the word is rendered “seductive.” This flattery in Proverbs 29:5 is smooth talk that deceives because it intends to harm. A flatterer, however, suffers for it (Proverbs 26:28). He is caught in the very net he set for others (Proverbs 29:6; 1:18; 28:10).” – Bible Knowledge Commentary

Flattery can be battery; it’s intentional harm, it’s lure to lust. The damage can happen overnight or overtime.

Flattery can be an insincere compliment. It’s okay to be kind and encouraging, to look for the good in others, but it’s not okay to say things you don’t mean in order to get what you want.

Proverbs 29:6 (NKJV) “By transgression an evil man is snared, but the righteous sings and rejoices.”

Transgression carries the idea of “crossing the line.” When the evil man crosses those lines in certain sins, his soul is snared. Contrast that with the righteous man – not snared by sin, but singing; unlike the evil man who is living in lamentation, the righteous man is lifting up his voice in celebration.

Proverbs 29:7 (NKJV) “The righteous considers the cause of the poor, but the wicked does not understand such knowledge.”

“One’s relationship to God shows up in his attitude toward the needy.” – Bible Knowledge Commentary

The wicked don’t truly care, or consider the poor, but the righteous does both. God begins to put people on our hearts, He shows us those in need, and we start thinking, praying, pondering, “Lord, how can I help the ‘poor?’”

Job 29:16 (NKJV) “I was a father to the poor, and I searched out the case that I did not know.”

Psalm 41:1 (NKJV) “Blessed is he who considers the poor; the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble.”

I’m always amazed how some look down on, or are mean to the poor.

Proverbs 29:8 (NKJV) “Scoffers set a city aflame, but wise men turn away wrath.”

There are a couple of views on this. One speaks of violent and rebellious marches:

“These troublemakers get others angry and incite rebellion. (Cf. “anger” and “angry” in Proverbs 29:11, 22.) The wise, however, help calm a city by averting anger and its rebellious results.” – Bible Knowledge Commentary

While some see it as scoffers inviting and inciting God’s judgment upon a city, contrasted to wise and repentant people who turn it away. This was the case for a season in Nineveh (Jonah 3:5-10).

December 4, 2021

Daniel 11:36–12:13

We now transition from Antiochus to Antichrist. “From verse 36 on…is a direct reference to the future, the Antichrist that is coming.” – Pastor Chuck Smith

There are some similarities mentioned here, in that they both exalt themselves and commit abomination, but this king clearly refers to the Antichrist in that he magnifies himself above every god, and speaks blasphemies against the God of gods. We even read in:

Daniel 11:37a (NKJV) “He shall regard neither the God of His fathers…nor regard any god.” 

That can’t be Antiochus IV, because he set up an altar to Zeus, the god of his fathers.

Daniel 11:38-39, refers to the fact that the Antichrist honors a god of fortresses, a god his fathers did not know, a foreign God. This Hebrew word speaks of a “strange” god, even an “alien” God. Many believe this to be a reference to the devil himself.

The antichrist will conquer by peace and power, but Edom and Moab will escape his hand (Daniel 11:41). Most Bible students believe this to be modern day Jordan, and in particular, a place called Petra. Petra is located in the Jordanian desert. It once was home for, among other people, the Edomites, descendants of Jacob’s brother, Esau. Ancient societies carved out building facades in the sheer rose red colored cliffs. These facades give entrance to cavernous chambers that once served as living and commercial quarters.

Petra is the place where many Bible students believe God will house the people of Israel who flee from the Antichrist during the Tribulation Period. (Revelation 12; Isaiah 16). Those Jews will be supernaturally protected from the evil world dictator for 3 1/2years, just before Christ returns to set up His millennial reign on earth.

We read here in Daniel 11:42 about Egypt not escaping his hand. In Daniel 11:43 we see the Ethiopians and Libyans following his hand. There will be this great battle in the Valley Megiddo. What many Christians do not realize is that, while most are coming to fight WITH the Antichrist,  some are coming to fight AGAINST the Antichrist. This is what’s known to Bible students as the Battle of Armageddon (Revelation 19:11-20). We have some details provided about the battle.

Daniel 11:45 (NKJV) “And he shall plant the tents of his palace between the seas and the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and no one will help him.”

The Antichrist will set up camp, between the Mediterranean Sea, and the Dead Sea, at the glorious holy mountain, Mount Zion. He thinks he can claim Jerusalem. “And yet, he shall come to his end…” (Daniel 11:45), captured, and thrown alive into the lake of fire! (Revelation 19:20).

Daniel 12 begins with Michael the Archangel standing up to protect the Jews during the Tribulation Period. Michael is mentioned 5 times in the Bible, 3 times in Daniel 10:13, 21; 12:1, as well as Jude 1:9 and Revelation 12:7. He clearly is the warrior-angel, while Gabriel seems to more of the messenger-angel.

Many will be saved during the Tribulation Period, and those who share the gospel will shine forever.

Daniel 12:3 (NKJV) “Those who are wise shall shine Llke the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever.”

Isn’t it interesting how Hollywood has it’s stars, but who’s really a star?

Maybe you’ve heard of the Hollywood Walk of Fame which at the time of this writing, has more than 2,600 five-pointed stars embedded in the sidewalks along 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and three blocks of Vine Street in Hollywood, California. According to one article, “The stars are permanent public monuments to achievement in the entertainment industry, bearing the names of a mix of actors, musicians, directors, producers, musical and theatrical groups, fictional characters, and others. The Walk of Fame is a popular tourist destination, with a reported 10 million visitors each year.”

I wonder how they feel when they get their “star’ on Hollywood Boulevard, or Vine Street there in Hollywood. For some it might be their lifelong ambition, this type of recognition, a star in the sidewalk for a season. But I’m actually shooting for a different star, a little higher, a little longer, a little brighter, a little bigger, for a better reason – His glory not mine, that’s why I want to shine…and that’s why I share.

Daniel seems to be teaching us that those who are saved, are wise, and will shine like the sky, but those who turn many to righteousness – in other words – they’re doing their part of the great commission, are going to shine like the stars forever and ever. I don’t know everything that that entails, but it’s pretty fascinating. Jesus said in:

Matthew 13:43 (NKJV) “Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

Warren Wiersbe, “How we have lived and served will determine the rewards the Lord will give us at the judgment seat of Christ (Romans 14: 9–12; 2 Corinthians 5: 6– 10). Those who have sought to win others to Christ will shine like the stars in the heavens.”

Daniel’s prophecies were/are absolutely amazing. He didn’t understand them all when he wrote, but as time has transpired, they’ve become very understandable to us who read…they were sealed til the time of the end.

It’s interesting to note that some form of the word “understand” occurs 23 times in the book of Daniel! God wants us to understand His Word.

I’m reminded of Jesus’ personal message to the disciples on the road to Emmaus, in: 

Luke 24:45 (NKJV) “And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.”

You see, God wants Christians to comprehend, He wants us to understand, so we can know the Lord, and make Him known…as we read back in:

Daniel 11:33a (NKJV) “And those of the people who understand shall instruct many…”

Even the meaning of Daniel 12:11, how do we understand this prophecy?

David Guzik, “It is difficult to be certain. We could say that at the end of the 1,260 days Jesus returns. At the end of the 1,290 days, Jesus’ government is officially installed. At the end of the 1,335 days the nations are judged (Matthew 25:31-46).”

Imagine what it will be like when these days are done, when those days are done, at the end of 1,335 days, and the literal, actually, physical reign of Christ begins! Blessed are those who wait, who believe, who endure til that day. We will rise to our glorious and everlasting inheritance.

1 John 4:1-21

We are to test all things and hold tight to the truth (1 Thessalonians 5:21; Acts 17:11). John reminds us of that and adds that we are to test the “spirits” because not everyone who claims to be a Christian really is. There are many false teachers on the radio, television, and especially online…be careful friend; test their teaching by the Word of God (Be a Berean – Acts 17:10-11).

One of the false teachings that had infiltrated the church at that time, was Gnosticism. Gnostics believed that all matter was evil, therefore, they taught that Jesus didn’t come in the flesh, that He was only a phantom. They said wherever He walked, He left no footprints, for He had no flesh. But John deals with this head-on and lets us know that “Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God.” (1 John 4:2-3). John calls these teachers the spirit of Antichrist. One day the actual Antichrist described in Revelation 13 will be seen on the scene, until then he’s in the background opposing Christ and His truth in every way he can.

We don’t need to be afraid of the enemy, for God lives in us – and He’s infinitely greater than any form of opposition. Even if all the forces of hell, and all the wicked ones in this world came against you, you have nothing to fear, for God is for you and loves you perfectly (Romans 8:31; 1 John 4:4).

Another litmus test as to whether a person is truly saved is simply that question of whether or not they believe the Apostles of Christ – whose teachings eventually were given to us in the Word of God. John put it this way in:

1 John 4:6a (NKJV) “We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us…”

History tells us that when John was old (in his 90’s) they would carry him around on a stretcher, and John would be spreading the message, “love one another, love one another.” Eventually he came to be known as “John the Beloved.” We see it over and over in this letter – the fact that if we’re truly born-again, we will love one another; if a person has no love, that person does NOT know God!

The reason I should love others is because God lives in me, I’m His child so I should be like Him – love is the DNA, the heart-beat of Christianity. If God loved me (the wicked sinner that I am) shouldn’t I love everyone that God brings into my path in the same way? We’ve never seen God physically, but when people represent Christ and let Him shine through them, in one sense, people see God because we see Him in them (1 John 4:12).

What a beautiful Gospel we’ve been given! All we have to do is believe in the Son of God and we’re saved and forgiven, we’re free and headed for heaven – all because of His love. When that kind of love is allowed to sink down into my soul, all fear is cast out. I no longer fear torment, or hell, or anything that happens in life, I know it’s for good…because He loves me.

Psalm 123:1-4

The Songs of Ascents continue.

We all need mercy…so we look to the Lord (at least we should). We lift our eyes to Him, we lift our voices to Him, we lift our hearts to Him. Whether we find ourselves in the middle of a “trying” trial, in the deepest valley, or on the tip-top of the mountain, we look to the Lord and trust Him to do what He does…and to have His way.

The Psalmist speaks in Psalm 123:4 of being mocked and mistreated. We do know that Israel has gone through some very hard times throughout the ages.

If only we’d look to the Lord (and nowhere else) until He has mercy on us. It may be okay and necessary at times to glance at other things, but it is imperative that we gaze upon God. We are to fix our eyes on Jesus wrote the writer to the Hebrews:

Hebrews 12:2 (NKJV) “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

If we look to Jesus, we will see His love demonstrated on the cross, and we will see the way He finished His “race” and finished the work. As a matter of fact, He’s the one who put us in the race and He will be faithful to help us finish ours. 

Keep looking to Him my friend!

Proverbs 29:2-4

Proverbs 29:2 (NKJV) “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when a wicked man rules, the people groan.”

In those days of Monarchy it would be more of a matter of whether or not junior was going to be like his father. Some good kings had bad sons – and some bad kings had good sons. It DOES make a difference down here, who rules up there (in the Oval Office, or in those days – who’s on the throne).

The leaders of the land truly do effect the citizens of their jurisdiction, they either rejoice or groan.

Proverbs 29:3 Whoever loves wisdom makes his father rejoice, but a companion of harlots wastes his wealth.

Another reason to rejoice is when our children love wisdom. John wrote something similar in:

3 John 1:4 (NKJV) “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”

The contrary is true as well, there’s no greater heartache then when our children don’t walk in truth – in this case a companion of harlots (frequently engaging in their services) (in the process – losing one’s inheritance) (imagine the heartache of the father of the Prodigal Son)


1. China: $73 Billion

2. Spain: $26.5 Billion

3. Japan: $24 Billion

4. Germany: $18 Billion – Prostitution in Germany is legal, as are other aspects of the sex industry, including brothels, advertisement, and job offers through HR companies. Full-service sex work is widespread and regulated by the German government, which levies taxes on it. There are an estimated 400,000 prostitutes working in Germany, and their revenues are equivalent to companies like Porsche and Adidas. Prostitution brings in about six billion Euros each year with a clientele of an estimated 1.2 million – it’s more like a sex empire than an industry. The government, of course, withholds a portion of these revenues to contribute to social benefits and sex workers have pensions, health insurance, a regular 40-hour-workweek, and the option to join sex worker unions.

5. United States: $14.6 Billion

6. South Korea: $12 Billion

7. India: $8.4 Billion

8. Thailand: $6.4 Billion

9. Philippines: $6 Billion

10. Turkey: $4 Billion

Tragically there are many companions of harlots.

Proverbs 29:4 (NKJV) “The king establishes the land by justice, but he who receives bribes overthrows it.”

Nowadays we hear a lot about politicians in the pockets of the rich, and there’s no doubt that money talks, there’s no denying the power of money – the almighty dollar. But a nation, or business, or ministry, or family can only truly be established by justice and integrity, by the Biblical morality of God.

When the ancient Chinese decided to live in peace, they made the great wall of China. They thought no one could climb it due to its height. During the first 100 years of its existence, the Chinese were invaded three times, and everytime, the hordes of enemy infantry had no need of penetrating or climbing over the wall…because each time they bribed the guards and came through the doors. The Chinese built the wall but forgot the character-building of the wall-guards. Thus, the building of human character comes first. 

“Justice brings a nation stability and joy (Proverbs 29:2, 7, 14; 14:34; 16:12; 20:8, 26; 21:15; 28:12), whereas a greedy leader contributes to the nation’s downfall. One who is greedy for bribes is literally, ‘a man of offerings or contributions.’ The Hebrew word for ‘bribes’ usually refers to sacred offerings; here it may refer to taxes. Rehoboam illustrated the truth of this proverb (1 Kings 12:1–19), which he might well have heard from his father Solomon.” – Bible Knowledge Commentary

December 3, 2021

Daniel 11:2-35

We come now to one of the most detailed prophecies in the entire Bible. Daniel 11 is an absolutely amazing chapter within the Word; I actually read a number of teachers who say that there are 130 prophecies fulfilled in this section! It was all written 50, 100, 200, and 400 years before these things took place – in incredible detail

Prophecies already fulfilled:

1. Regarding Persia (Daniel 11:2)

2. Regarding Greece (Daniel 11:3–4)

3. Regarding Egypt and Syria (Daniel 11:5–20) (Ptolemy and Seleucid dynasties)

The Ptolemy line provided the rulers in Egypt, and the Seleucid line the rulers in the north (Syria).

4. Regarding Antiochus IV and Syria (Daniel 11:21–35)

The four future kings alluded to in Daniel 11:2 would be identified as:

1. Cambyses (529–522 b.c.) (Cyrus’ son)

2. Pseudo-Smerdis (522–521 b.c.)

3. Darius I Hystapes (521–486 b.c.)

4. Xerxes (485–465 b.c.), the Ahasuerus of the book of Esther.

In these verses we have amazing details on exactly how these battles would take place, where they would take place – the different people are precisely mentioned. When I taught this chapter at Calvary Chapel El Monte it took me 3 Sundays, and close to 30 pages of notes. If you would like me to send them to you, please email at

Towards the end of this chapter in Daniel 11:31, there is a bit of history that we might be more familiar with, and that is the Abomination of Desolation committed by Antiochus IV. He entered the temple and polluted the altar by sacrificing a pig upon it. He took away the daily sacrifices and other aspects of the Jewish law and set up an image of Zeus in the holy place. This is a foreshadowing of what the Antichrist will do in the future temple (2 Thessalonians 2:4).

At that time the Lord raised up a group of brothers eventually known as the Maccabees  who flourished in the 2nd century B.C., in the priestly family of Jews who organized a successful rebellion against the Seleucid ruler Antiochus IV, and reconsecrated the defiled Temple of Jerusalem.

“The name Maccabee was a title of honor given to Judas, a son of Mattathias and the hero of the Jewish wars of independence, 168–164 BCE. Later the name Maccabees was extended to include his whole family, specifically Mattathias (his father) and Judas’s four brothers—John, Simon, Eleazar, and Jonathan.” –

This Jewish victory over Antiochus IV is the reason for the Holiday Hanukkah.

“The eight-day Jewish celebration known as Hanukkah or Chanukah commemorates the rededication during the second century B.C. of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, where  Jews had risen up against their Greek-Syrian oppressors in the Maccabean Revolt.” –

Hanukkah, or the Feast of Dedication/Lights was celebrated by Jesus (John 10:22) and is still widely celebrated today. This miraculous Jewish victory is the heart behind:

Daniel 11:32 (NIV) “With flattery he will corrupt those who have violated the covenant, but the people who know their God will firmly resist him.”

The key for us resisting the enemy, is genuinely knowing our God. The King James Version tells us that we will carry out great exploits (achievements, deeds, triumphs)

Daniel 11:32 (NKJV) “Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.

We need to know that God is in the details and knows the end from the beginning. And we need to know our God and serve Him accordingly. It is there we find our strength it is very possible that the Maccabee brothers were inspired by the book of Daniel – they were able to read of their very victory…in advance!

1 John 3:7-24

John also spends a lot of time relaying the truth that one of the most important and revealing characteristics of a Christian, is love. If we don’t love others, we’re like Cain who killed Abel. And why did he kill him? Because Abel’s works were righteous. How tragic that those who have that seed of Satan also have that seed of hate and murder because they see something good in someone else.

How we need to guard our hearts from hatred. John and Jesus both connected hatred with murder (see Matthew 5:21-22).

It’s fascinating to see the flipside of all this, the logical flow of what happens simply depending on who we follow. If a person follows Satan, it inevitably leads to hate and murder. But if a person follows Jesus, it inevitably leads to love, and rather than taking life, we’re willing to lay down our lives for others. We learned this, and saw this, in Jesus our Lord…by this we know love (1 John 3:16).

John also teaches us that love is not just a word, it’s an action. When we love others we’re benevolent and we’ll help them in practical ways. Such a love, motivated by God’s love for us, assures our hearts that we really do know the Lord (1 John 3:19). Our feelings (heart) might condemn us, but the facts speak for themselves. We don’t live by feelings but by faith. And then the day comes when we’re no longer weak and our heart can’t condemn us (because we know better) we then have confidence before God and this completely transforms our prayer life, we will see more and more answered prayer (1 John 3:22; see also Hebrews 4:16).

All made possible in obedience to that first command, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ!

Psalm 122:1-9

Another Psalm of Ascents; the people would sing these songs as they journeyed to Jerusalem to celebrate the various feasts.

Psalm 122:1 (NKJV) “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord.'”

Warren Wiersbe, “Do you really rejoice when you have opportunity to go to God’s house and worship Him? We today can travel easily to a place of worship, but the ancient Jews had to walk a long distance. Yet the pilgrim was happy to go to God’s house.”

Jerusalem is compact, many people living in a relatively small geographical setting, but it’s because Jerusalem was blessed with the temple, it was the place of David’s descendants – therefore the people were joyful in going to Jerusalem, and therefore all people are called to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Today when we pray for the peace of Jerusalem, we not only think of the Jews, and that city, we consider all people…for ultimately peace will not happen, until the Prince of Peace, Jesus, comes and rules the world from the city of Jerusalem.

Proverbs 29:1

Proverbs 29:1 (NKJV) “He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.”

You try to warn them, you dare to share the truth, but they just won’t listen. Their hearts are only getting harder and harder, they only seem increasingly stubborn, it makes no sense – – so here’s the promise. Their destruction will come suddenly, and one day, there will be no more chances – it happens suddenly and that without remedy.

Manny, pay attention to those warnings; don’t harden your neck, because it inevitably leads to a hardness of heart.

It’s true individually (Pharaoh), it can even be true nationally:

2 Chronicles 36:15–16 (NKJV) “And the Lord God of their fathers sent warnings to them by His messengers, rising up early and sending them, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. 16 But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, till there was no remedy.”

Genesis 6:3 (NKJV) “And the LORD said, ‘My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.’”

December 2, 2021

Daniel 9:1–11:1

In the first year of Darius (539 B.C.) Daniel was reading the scroll of Jeremiah and understood that the sentence of Israel’s captivity was 70 years. He was no doubt reading:

Jeremiah 25:11–12 (NKJV) “And this whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. 12 ‘Then it will come to pass, when seventy years are completed, that I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity,’ says the LORD; ‘and I will make it a perpetual desolation.”

Daniel was a man of wisdom and visions, but he was also a man of the Word. He read the scroll, did the math and realized that up to that point, Israel had been in captivity 66 years. So he began to pray. He set his face to seek the Lord, meaning he was focused. He fasted, wore sackcloth and ashes, confessed their sins, and made supplication. He included himself in that confession, “we have sinned,” “we have done wickedly.” They were all guilty and God had given them what He promised in His Word – innumerable warnings.

Daniel 9:11 (NKJV) “Yes, all Israel has transgressed Your law, and has departed so as not to obey Your voice; therefore the curse and the oath written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against Him.”

God had clearly warned His people, if they despised His discipline it would reach this point of dispersion. We read in:

Leviticus 26:33–34 (NKJV) “I will scatter you among the nations and draw out a sword after you; your land shall be desolate and your cities waste. 34 Then the land shall enjoy its sabbaths as long as it lies desolate and you are in your enemies’ land; then the land shall rest and enjoy its sabbaths.”

This is why Israel was sentenced to precisely 70 years, for they failed to keep the Sabbath for the soil (see Leviticus 25:4-5), 70 years. We read that in:

2 Chronicles 36:20–21 (NKJV) “And those who escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon, where they became servants to him and his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia, 21 to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths. As long as she lay desolate she kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years.”

Daniel knew the time was drawing near…so he prayed. He prayed for God’s anger to be turned away, His fury from Jerusalem, for the glory of His name and the good of His people.

We’re not sure how long Daniel was praying, but while he was still speaking the angel Gabriel showed up, who had been sent to him to bless him beyond his wildest imagination. Not only would Israel be set free and experience restoration as a nation, Daniel was given this amazing prophecy about the first and second coming of the Messiah (Daniel 9:24-27). Bible students refer to these verses as the 70-Weeks of Daniel.

70-Weeks were determined for the Jews (Daniel’s people). The word translated weeks literally means sevens. So it’s actually 70 seven-year periods to finish – everything, and to anoint and crown the most holy as king – King Jesus.

In Daniel 9:25 we have the starting point, March 14, 445 B.C when the command was given to restore and build Jerusalem, until the Messiah, Jesus comes (this is when He entered Jerusalem on a donkey presenting Himself as King) there would be 7-weeks + 62 weeks = 69 weeks (483 years). This totals 173,880 days and takes us to April 6, 32 A.D. – the very DAY Jesus entered into Jerusalem!

This prophecy predicted the very day, Messiah would come!

Daniel 9:26 tells us that the Messiah would be cut-off (killed) but not for Himself (wow – predicting Jesus vicarious atonement). We also see how the Romans would sack the city of Jerusalem, and that the Romans are called “people of the prince who is to come.” This is how we know the antichirst will rise from the revived Roman Empire.

Daniel 9:27 gives us the final week, the final 7-year period, which is to take place in the future. Since the days of Jesus’ earthly ministry we have been living in the times of the Gentiles (Luke 21:24; Romans 1:25), but God will again deal with the Jews in large numbers during the Tribulation Period. In the beginning of that 7-year period Israel will embrace the antichrist, but half-way through he will commit the abomination of desolation, enter the Temple and claim to be God, it’s then that Israel’s eyes will be opened to their Messiah (Mark 13:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:4).

The chart above and below gives us visuals.

In Daniel 10 he once again seeks the Lord. His 3-week fast consisted of no delicacies, neither did he anoint himself, it was time set apart for the Lord. At that time Daniel saw a certain man clothed in linen – his description is glorious. Some believe him to be the Lord Jesus Christ and that’s a strong possibility because of the fact that he does resemble the description in Revelation 1:12-16, and his touch, and words strengthen Daniel. Others believe it to be only an angel, considering the fact that this “man” needed the help of Michael the Archangel to fight off demons. Jesus, the second Person of the Trinity, does not need Michael’s help – unless, as in the days of His incarnation, He emptied Himself of His Divine privileges.

It’s wonderful the way God’s love for Daniel is articulated, “O Daniel, man greatly beloved…” (Daniel 10:10). I believe this is true for all of us.

The messenger was sent to give Daniel more insight into the future kingdoms of the world; Daniel 11 is given with meticulous detail, as to the future, it would be necessary to strengthen the Jews in trying times. Does it help to know that God knows the future? Does it help to know that you are victorious – that WE are victorious in Christ? I sure hope so!

John 16:33 (NKJV) “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

1 John 2:18–3:6

John warns the Christians about false teachers who deny that Jesus is the Christ, they also deny His deity. In doing so, they deny Jesus-period, they’re “anti-Christs” who don’t have the Father either (see John 5:23). 

We are protected and directed by the Word of God and the Spirit of God who lives within us (that’s the anointing). God help us to abide in Him, to stick to this truth so that we’re not swept away and embarrassed when we stand before the Lord (1 John 2:28).

In 1 John 3 we’re asked to behold the Father’s love. What kind of love is this? That we should be called children of GOD! Wow, mind boggling, but true – not for everyone (1 John 3:10) but for those who have truly believed on the Lord Jesus Christ (John 1:12).

The fact that we Christians are children of God explains a lot of the turmoil we go through on this side of time. The unsaved people of the world march to a different beat – they don’t know God, and therefore they don’t know us.

Because we’re children of God, we have His nature within us, and one day when we’re home in glory, we will experience the fulness of this wonderful reality. We don’t now know the details of heaven and all that we’ll see and be, but we do know we’ll be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. When we have this prophetic hope, it does a work of purification within us – even now.

John spends a lot of time communicating the fact that if a person continues in sin, with eyes wide open, consistent, insistent, persistent sin, then the blunt reality is such people are NOT Christians. The Greek grammar is in the present-tense and speaks of a continuous action.

The Greek scholar Kenneth Wuest translates with the grammar in mind:

1 John 3:4–6 (WUEST) Everyone who habitually commits sin, also habitually commits lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. And you know absolutely that that One was manifested in order that He might take away our sins; and sin in Him does not exist. Everyone who in Him is constantly abiding is not habitually sinning. Everyone who is constantly sinning has not with discernment seen Him, nor has he known Him, with the result that that condition is true of him at present.”

Jesus was manifested to set us free from sin, to take away the penalty AND power of sin…so let’s make sure we understand that a faith that doesn’t change our behavior, will never change our destiny.

Psalm 121:1-8

The Psalmist asks the question, “Where does my help come from?” But he knows what to do and where to look; he knows that we need to pray and look “up” to God, because our help comes only from Him (who also happens to be the Maker of heaven and earth)!

As I read this Psalm, I think of:

Hebrews 4:16 (NKJV) “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to HELP in time of need.”

“In time of need…” For me, that’s daily, that “time” is constant, I always need help from God. I thank Him that He is willing and able to help us.

He will protect us, He will keep us, He is our shade us from the heat. He will preserve us from all evil, protecting even our souls.

Over the years I’ve had the gracious blessing, privilege, and opportunity to travel to other nations, such as Mexico, Peru, Colombia, and Chile; to the other side of the world…places like Cambodia, Nepal, and even Israel. Whenever I journey, I take to heart a plaque we have hanging in our home that has this passage out of today’s Psalm:

Psalm 121:8 (NKJV) “The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore.”

Proverbs 28:27-28

Proverbs 28:27 (NKJV) “He who gives to the poor will not lack, but he who hides his eyes will have many curses.”

“Being generous to the poor (“destitute, hungry,” also used in vv. 3, 6; cf. 29:7) does not mean the giver will then have to “do without.” Just the opposite is true; he will lack nothing. Generosity is rewarded (cf. 11:24–25; 14:21b, 31b; 19:17; 21:26; 22:9; Deuteronomy 15:10).” – Bible Knowledge Commentary

Proverbs 22:9 (NKJV) “He who has a generous eye will be blessed, for he gives of his bread to the poor.”

Proverbs 11:24–26 (NKJV) “There is one who scatters, yet increases more; and there is one who withholds more than is right, but it leads to poverty. 25 The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself. 26 The people will curse him who withholds grain, but blessing will be on the head of him who sells it.”

Kinda funny, we get “rich” – not by getting, but by giving,

But if we ignore those poor God places before us, if we pretend we didn’t see them, we will not only miss the blessing, we will experience the cursing!

Proverbs 28:28 (NKJV) “When the wicked arise, men hide themselves; but when they perish, the righteous increase.”

We saw something similar in Proverbs 28:12

Proverbs 28:12 (NKJV) “When the righteous rejoice, there is great glory; but when the wicked arise, men hide themselves.

Consider the contrast between Saul and David.

“When wicked men come to places of prominence and rule, it is bad for the community. Freedom and blessing to the community are much less present and in response men hide themselves.” – David Guzik

December 1, 2021

Daniel 8:1-27

The vision and events of Daniel 8 occurred 2 years after the dreams of Daniel 7; this brings us to 551 B.C.. The vision of Daniel is that of a ram with two horns, one horn higher than the other. This ram conquered vast land in all directions, but was conquered suddenly by a male goat that came from the west. We read next:

Daniel 8:8 (NKJV) “Therefore the male goat grew very great; but when he became strong, the large horn was broken, and in place of it four notable ones came up toward the four winds of heaven.”

The angel Gabriel gave Daniel (and us) the interpretation – the ram was symbolic of Medo-Persia, the higher horn referring to the Persians who were stronger than the Medes. Their land conquest was vast. But Alexander the Great led the Greeks in their swift conquest of the Medo-Persian kingdom, and beyond. When Alexander the Great died, his kingdom was divided between his four generals.

This prophecy was spoken in 551 B.C. – the Medo-Persians conquered the world 12 years later. the Greeks conquered the world 220 years later! Amazing prophecies etched in history. 

The other prophecies would be fulfilled in dual fashion. We read in:

Daniel 8:9 (NKJV) “And out of one of them came a little horn which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Glorious Land.”

Daniel goes on to describe events that took place at the hands of a man by the name of Antiochus Epiphanes, the ruler of Syria, 175-163 B.C. This man opposes Israel (the “Glorious Land” – Daniel 8:9)

Warren Wiersbe, “…known as one of the cruelest tyrants in history. Antiochus gave himself the name “Epiphanes,” which means “illustrious, manifestation,” for he claimed to be a revelation (epiphany) of the gods. He even had the word theos (god) put on the coins minted with his features on it, and his features on the coins came to look more and more like the Greek god Zeus. The angry king attacked Jerusalem and plundered the temple. In 168 he sent an army of 20,000 men to level Jerusalem. They entered the city on the Sabbath, murdered most of the men, and took the women and children as slaves. The remaining men fled to the army of the Jewish leader Judas Maccabeus. But the king wasn’t satisfied, so he issued an edict that there would be one religion in his realm and it wouldn’t be the Jewish religion. Any Jew found possessing a copy of the law of Moses was slain. He prohibited the Jews from honoring the Sabbath, practicing circumcision, and obeying the Levitical dietary laws, and he climaxed his campaign on December 14, 168 B.C., by replacing the Jewish altar with an altar to Zeus— and sacrificing a pig on it! When Antiochus stopped the daily sacrifices in the temple and substituted pagan worship, this was called “the abomination that makes desolate” (“the transgression of desolation,” Dan. 8: 13). This concept is found in Daniel 9:27; 11:31; and 12:11, and is used by Jesus in Matthew 24:15 and Mark 13:14. What Antiochus did was a foreshadowing of what the Antichrist will do when he puts his image in the temple and commands the world to worship him (2 Thessalonians 2; Revelation 13).”

If Daniel was right in his prophecies regarding Medo-Persia, Greece, and the abomination of desolation committed by Antiochus Ephiphanes, then you can be sure he’s right about the rest! This evil ruler of Syria was fueled by Satan himself (Daniel 8:24) and is a picture of the Antichrist who will rise at the end of time.

Daniel 8:17b (NKJV) “…understand, son of man, that the vision refers to the time of the end.”

The Antichrist will rise, but will be brought down by Jesus Christ. Daniel tells us that the Antichrist will be broken, but not my human power (Daniel 8:25) it will be the power of God unleashed at the mere words spoken by the Son of God (Revelation 19:11-21).

Daniel didn’t understand ALL the details…but as we get closer to the last of the last days, this type of “knowledge” is increasing (Daniel 12:4) and we understand it more and more. 

If you have time to read all the Bible references you’ll see things more clearly. 

If you’re interested in the prophecy in Daniel 8:14 of the 2,300 days, then listen to the explanations given by Warren Wiersbe:

“The Hebrew text literally reads ‘2,300 evenings and mornings,” because burnt offerings were sacrificed at the temple each morning and each evening of every day. But does this mean 2,300 days or 1,150 days, 2,300 divided by two? And what date or event signals the beginning of the countdown? Some students opt for 2,300 days, that is, about six years, if you use 360 days for the year. Others prefer 1,150 days , which give us slightly over three years. But what is the starting point for the countdown? The six-year advocates begin with 171 BC, when Antiochus deposed the true high priest. Subtract six years and this takes you to 165 when Judas Maccabeus defeated the enemy and reconsecrated the temple. However, the three-year advocates begin with the establishment of the pagan altar in the temple on 25 Kislev, 168, and this takes us to 165. Either approach meets the requirements of the prophecy.”

Yes…God is in the details…every single day!

1 John 2:1-17

We come now to another reason John wrote his letter – that we would not sin (1 John 2:1). That’s a great goal wouldn’t you say? To hit that mark of holiness, to please God, to sin less. But, even with that desire in our hearts, we’re still destined to sin as long as we’re on this side of time, and it’s for that reason John immediately adds those words, “…and if anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” Thayer’s lexicon defines the Greek word translated “Advocate” as “one who pleads another’s cause before a judge, a pleader, counsel for defense, legal assistant.” In other words, Jesus is our attorney who accepts all cases of those who plead guilty and then makes them innocent by being our propitiation, paying the price of justice – a price we could never pay. A good picture of this is found in Zechariah 3:1-5.

I love the way John makes it so simple – that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world – for everyone! (1 John 2:2).

1 John 2:2 (NLT) “He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.”

Some say Jesus died only for the elect, it makes you wonder if they’ve really pondered this passage in the Bible – it’s so clear!

John goes on to reveal the fact that the way we know we’re Christians is a life of obedience to the Word, and a life of love for the people. It doesn’t matter what a person says, claims, or professes, if their lives don’t match their lips, John labels them as liars. If we claim to be Christians, shouldn’t our lives resemble the life of Christ? (1 John 2:6)

To love our neighbor is not a new commandment, but to love our neighbor the way Jesus did IS new. 

John 13:34 (NKJV) “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”

Is there anyone you hate? I’d encourage you to do your best to settle that question in your heart, be sure there’s not a trace of hatred – so that you might have the full assurance of salvation. Haters do not go to heaven, lovers do.

In 1 John 2:12-14 John points to the spiritual journey we make from childhood, to adolescence, and eventually adulthood. Warren Wiersbe said, “Because of Jesus Christ, you have a family (1 John 2:12–14). The members are at different stages of spiritual development, but all can receive the Word and grow. How wonderful it is when the ‘little children’ become young men and then fathers!”

Sandy Adams said, “A father is a man who lives for his family. A spiritual father lives to give to others in the family of God.” (of course, all this is perfectly and equally applicable to children, young ladies, and “moms” in the church)

1 John 5:19 tells us that the world lies under the sway of the wicked one – (speaking of the system not society) we are therefore not to love the world. How we need to guard our hearts from the things the world esteems (pleasure, possessions, prestige, and power).

Psalm 120:1-7

Expositor’s, “Psalms 120-134 form a collection known as the ‘Songs of Ascents,’ which in turn is a major part of the Great Hallel Psalms. Most likely the songs were sung in the three annual festival processions, as the pilgrims “ascended” to Jerusalem (Exodus 23:14-17; Deuteronomy 16:16).”

I found it fascinating that immediately following Psalm 119, which is a Psalm all about the Truth (the Truth of God’s Word) the Psalmist deals directly with lies. I’ve said it over the years, that lies are the language of Lucifer, the dialect of the Devil. As a matter of fact, I was thinking how the whole world is hearing and reading his “lie-brary” every day!

The enemy is an accuser, and sadly there are many who live there daily, in that “nation of accusation.” Our heart aches for this person:

In this case the Psalmist speaks of personal slander that is being spoken about him, and it’s just tearing him up. He prays for God to deliver him from those lying lips and deceitful tongue…they were like arrows to his heart. The coals of the broom tree are explained by NET notes, “The wood of the broom plant was used to make charcoal, which in turn was used to fuel the fire used to forge the arrowheads.”

Psalm 120:6–7 (NKJV) “My soul has dwelt too long with one who hates peace. 7 I am for peace; but when I speak, they are for war.”

A tough place to be, so we give ourselves to prayer, and not just peace, but the Prince of peace.

Proverbs 28:25-26

Proverbs 28:25-26 (NKJV) “He who is of a proud heart stirs up strife, but he who trusts in the Lord will be prospered. 26 He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but whoever walks wisely will be delivered.”

Both of these passages deal with the heart…there’s so much struggle and strife, when there’s pride inside.

And how foolish the world is to suggest that we follow our heart; the Scriptures clearly contradict that counsel. We are not to trust our own heart!

Jeremiah 17:9 (NKJV) “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?”

“For answers, values, and guidance we should not look within, but look to the Lord.” – David Guzik

We are to trust the Lord, not our hearts; we are to walk by faith, not by feelings – to be led by Biblical convictions not fickle emotions.

“Distrusting his own judgment, and seeking the advice of others, and especially of God, as all truly wise men do, he shall be delivered from those dangers and mischiefs which fools bring upon themselves; whereby he showeth himself to be a wise man.” – Poole

If we live and walk in humble wisdom, it means we’re trusting in the Lord, not ourselves, we will then experience prosperity and deliverance.

November 30, 2021

Four beasts illustrated from Daniel 7

Daniel 7:1-28

In Daniel 7 we go back in time, to the first year of Belshazzar’s reign which would be right around 553 B.C., when Belshazzar was made coregent with Nabonidus. At this time Daniel was 68 years-old, and has a dream about four beasts:

1. A lion with eagle’s wings

2. A bear

3. A leopard

4. A devouring beast with 10 horns and iron teeth

The nations represented here in Daniel 7 are the same nations represented in Daniel 2, the image of gold, silver, bronze, and iron. When we view these four kingdoms through man’s eyes, they look so glorious, but they’re actually monstrous. We might see these conquering kings as valuable, powerful victors, but God sees them as terrible beasts.

After the four kingdoms, Daniel sees the final kingdom, when the Son of Man, Jesus Christ, receives the throne from His Father, and rules and reigns forever and ever.  This is one of few chapters in the Bible, that has the interpretation given to us (for the most part).

It’s fascinating when you consider just a few of the details of these prophecies.

In ancient Babylonian artwork you’ll find the winged lion everywhere in their art, architecture and currency. When Daniel describes the lion having his wings plucked off, he’s referring to the time Nebuchadnezzar lost his sanity, due to his pride, and roamed about like a beast. Eventually his mind was restored and a man’s heart was given to him (Daniel 4).

The kingdom of Medo-Persia is represented by the bear which was raised on one side. This  illustrates the dominance of Persia over Media, although they were joined, the Persians were stronger than the Medes. It had 3 ribs in its mouth, which most scholars believe represents the 3 major empires conquered by the Medo-Persians (Babylon, Egypt, and Libya). The command is given for the bear to devour much, and this is exactly what they did. Notice how much larger their kingdom was in comparison to Babylon.

Source – Ralph F. Wilson

The leopard with 4 wings represents Greece and illustrates the speed of Alexander the Great’s conquest. Beginning at the young age of 20 years old, he set out to conquer the world, and he did indeed conquer the then known world 11 years later. Before the age of planes, trains, and automobiles – this is extremely impressive. This beast also had 4 heads, which undoubtedly represents the division of Alexander’s kingdom into 4 provinces after Alexander’s sudden and unexpected death at the age of 33. After Alexander’s death in 323 B.C., his generals fought over the conquered land. After more than 40 years of struggles and warfare, the 4 major divisions emerged. Egypt under the Ptolemies, Syria under Seleucids, Macedonia under the Angitgonids, and Pergumum under the Attalids.

The 4th beast, which represents Rome and the revived Roman Empire, is not pictured with any animal type descriptions, but it is seen as dreadful, and terrible, exceedingly strong, with huge iron teeth, devouring, breaking in pieces and trampling the residue. This kingdom is different, in that it will one day be revived, and united, after being divided, hence the 10 horns. In the last of the last days, the Roman Empire (European Union) will eventually be led by a man speaking pompous words who will persecute the saints (in this context representing the Jews) for a time, a times, and half a time (3 1/2 years) this is the second-half of the Tribulation Period. It’s then that Jesus Christ will return, and set up His throne from Jerusalem for 1,000 years on planet earth, followed by the eternal rule forever and ever (Revelation 20-21).

Daniel 7:27 (NKJV) “Then the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him.”

Obey who? Obey Jesus!

1 John 1:1-10

In the first verse John the Beloved takes us back to that “time before time” in speaking of Jesus, the 2nd Person of the Trinity, who was there in the beginning (He’s always existed) (sounds also like Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1 doesn’t it?). John lets us know that this is who He’s writing about. They heard Him (and they still do), they’d seen Him, observed Him, touched Him, the Word (Logos), Jesus…this is who John and the other Apostles “declare” to us that we also might have fellowship with them – and this fellowship is not only with other believers, this fellowship is with God Himself!

John wrote this letter so that we might have fellowship with God; and he writes so that in this relationship, this Christian companionship, our joy may be “full.”

I must check my heart. Do I have that fellowship? Do I have that joy?

One of the things you’ll notice about John in this little letter, is that he doesn’t pull any punches, he doesn’t hold back, he doesn’t give us any grayish guidelines, it’s just black and white. It doesn’t matter what think about yourself, if you say you’re a Christian, but you’re living a life of consistent, insistent, persistent sin, then you’re not really a Christian. Imagine the absolute shock of many who will stand before Jesus on that day and say, “But Lord, I did this and that, I served in the church, I taught Bible studies, I cast out demons, I was given that title, position, membership in the church…” but Jesus will say to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.” (Matthew 7:22-23)

We MUST examine our lives! Is there any sin that dominates me? John will go on to talk a LOT about love – this is the earmark of a Christian – do I have it? Would love be the description of my life?

In order to truly have that fellowship with God I need to be walking in the light. That doesn’t mean we won’t sin, we all do, but when we do, we repent, confess it, and God promises to cleanse us from it; 1 John 1:9 has often been referred to as the Christian’s “bar of soap.”

1 John 1:9 (NKJV) “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

John teaches us that if we practice sin, or don’t acknowledge our sin, we don’t know the Lord. These are objective truths by which we can all examine our lives…am I really are on that road that leads to heaven?

Psalm 119:153-176

We come now to the close of this amazing chapter. The Psalmist has not lost or lessened his love for God and His Word in the slightest.

He wrote in Psalm 119:159, “I love Your precepts.” In Psalm 119:163, “I love Your law.” And in a fascinating passage along the same lines of loving God’s Word, he wrote in:

Psalm 119:165 (NKJV) “Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble.”

Do I love God’s Word? It brings great peace and keeps me from stumbling if I read it to heed it, if I study the Scriptures in sincerity.

May I never turn from His testimonies, and never forget His law, for God is willing to revive me repeatedly (Psalm 119:154, 156, 159). I need that!

A popular passage on the Verbal Plenary inspiration of Scripture is:

Psalm 119:160 (NKJV) “The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.”

The entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation is truth. Jesus said every little letter and mark of the Bible is inspired (Matthew 5:18) and Paul said the same thing about the scope of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16).

This section is too rich and deep to touch on everything, but here are few more passages that stood out to me:

Psalm 119:162 (NKJV) “I rejoice at Your word as one who finds great treasure.”

Do I rejoice like this – over God’s Word?

Psalm 119:164 (NKJV) “Seven times a day I praise You, because of Your righteous judgments.”

This Psalm speaks frequently of praising God; it seems that worship and the Word go together. Imagine if we actually did praise Him…seven times a day! All day long!

Psalm 119:176 (NKJV) “I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Your servant, for I do not forget Your commandments.”

There’s that tendency we have within us, to stray (Isaiah 53:6). It happens to us all, let’s be honest. We veer a little off the path from time to time. But God is gracious to seek us, often THROUGH His Word, and bring us back, right where we belong!

Thank You Lord!

Proverbs 28:23-24

Proverbs 28:23 (NKJV) He who rebukes a man will find more favor afterward than he who flatters with the tongue.

In the beginning the flatterer might find favor, until the flattered finds out that they’ve been manipulated. Let’s just do our best to speak the truth in love.

“Giving a needed rebuke rather than overlooking it or flattering a person (Proverbs 29:5) is difficult. But in the end (later) a wise person is grateful for it.” – Bible Knowledge Commentary

Proverbs 28:23 (NLT) “In the end, people appreciate honest criticism far more than flattery.”

There might be some who read this and walk away thinking it is my job and responsibility to rebuke all others, or at least my friends – – constantly. But I would say, you probably don’t want to do it all the time, rebuke when necessary, pray (ask God) and rebuke obediently. It must be the right word, at the right time, spoken in the right way.

A loving friend who genuinely cares, who doesn’t just have an ax to grind, who isn’t merely a critical Christian, the ones who really care, will encourage us, and at times rebuke us, in love.

Proverbs 28:24 (NKJV) “Whoever robs his father or his mother, and says, ‘It is no transgression,’ the same is companion to a destroyer.”

“There are some who have little conscience about stealing from their parents. Out of some sense of entitlement, they rob them and then say, ‘It is no transgression.’” – David Guzik

(See 1 Timothy 5:8; Mark 7:9-13 on this, and see the sad example of the Prodigal Son, before he returned)

John Knox, “Shall he who robs father or mother make light of it? He is next door to a murderer.”

Derek Kidner, “Jesus showed that there are refined ways of incurring this guilt (Mark 7:11); cf. Paul’s strong words in 1 Timothy 5:4, 8.”

November 29, 2021

Daniel 6:1-28

Although Daniel is now an elderly man, his anointing is as strong as ever. King Darius, the ruler of Medo-Persia, recognizes God’s hand upon Daniel, and in the structure of his government, appoints him as one of only three governors, and was even considering to set him over the entire kingdom. The Bible says, “an excellent Spirit” was given to Daniel, this is how he was distinguished above the others.

In light of all this, the other governors and satraps, had it in their hearts to bring Daniel down. Some of this was probably motivated by those ugly tag-twins of envy and jealousy, but certainly his opposition was Satanic in origin. The last thing Satan wanted was a godly man like Daniel in such a high-ranking position. The problem was, they could not find fault with Daniel.

O that we’d glean from such a life. That we’d be completely filled with the Spirit. That we’d be blameless and holy, men and women of steadfast integrity. 

The only way these enemies of Daniel could cause him t disobey, is if they legislated laws that contradicted the Law of God…which is exactly what they did.

Daniel 6:7 (NKJV) “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.”

The made a law that said it was illegal to pray to anyone other than King Darius.

I’ve always loved Daniel 6:10. This allows us to see behind the scenes. What was it that made Daniel the man that he was?

There’s no doubt that his prayer life was a huge factor! 

Daniel 6:10 (NKJV) “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.”

Even though it was now against the law in Medo-Persia, that didn’t stop him from praying the way he always did (since he was a youth), morning, noon, and night. 

On a personal note, this has always been the goal of my heart. Yes, we pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17) but how awesome it would be to have that special time with the Lord, morning, noon, and night. I have not always been able to do all three, but I won’t ever give up to follow Daniel’s example.

Of course the enemies of Daniel found fault, brought him to the king, who could not over-rule the law, and Daniel was cast into the lion’s den. But the king fasted from food and music, he couldn’t sleep all night, and in the morning they discovered that the living God had chosen to deliver Daniel from the mouth of the lions.

Daniel 6:20, 22 (NKJV) “And when he came to the den, he cried out with a lamenting voice to Daniel. The king spoke, saying to Daniel, ‘Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?’ ‘My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths, so that they have not hurt me, because I was found innocent before Him; and also, O king, I have done no wrong before you.’”

After Daniel’s deliverance the king cast those accusers of Daniel into the den, and the lions overpowered them and broke all their bones, before they ever reached the bottom. It’s tragic to read that their wives and children were devoured as well. Perhaps their families were somehow part of the “opposition.” Or perhaps it’s another lesson of how our sins as leaders, husbands, dads, and moms, have a profound effect upon our families.

The lion, in this case, represents the Devil who seeks to destroy us and our family (1 Peter 5:8; 2 Timothy 4:17).

It all turned out for the glory of God, as King Darius sent a decree to all the people of his vast kingdom:

Daniel 6:26 (NKJV) “I make a decree that in every dominion of my kingdom men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel. For He is the living God, and steadfast forever; His kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed, and His dominion shall endure to the end.”


2 Peter 3:1-18

Peter himself calls this his second letter, and in both epistles he hopes to stir up their pure minds by way of reminder regarding the message of the prophets and Apostles. They had predicted that scoffers would come in the last days, mocking the return of the Lord, so every time they mock, they fulfill the particular prophecy of Scripture. (Just as a side-note, according to Hebrews 1:2 the “last days” technically began at the coming of Christ)

Peter reminds them, and us, that all it takes for Jesus to come is a simple word from the Lord who sits on the throne. It was by His Word the worlds were created and it’s by His Word that they’re held together. One day, and I have a hunch it’ll be very soon, the word of God’s judgment and justice will be spoken – that’s all it’ll take, and the end of the end will begin.

As time progresses the scoffers progress as well, “It’s been 2,000 years  (they say) since the so-called coming of Christ,” and He hasn’t come yet, and yet they forget that God is outside of time; for Him it’s only been a couple of days.

I can’t articulate how much I long for the Lord to return. I see the pain, the suffering, the injustices all around the world…but Peter reveals the reason for Jesus’ delay, it’s a big one…the salvation of souls. 

2 Peter 3:9 (NKJV) “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.”

Apparently the pain, suffering, and injustices are worth it, because they’re only temporary. I must remember that the pain has a purpose. As a matter of fact, this entire “approach” sounds a lot like the heart behind the cross of Jesus Christ…the long-suffering of our Lord leads to salvation (2 Peter 3:15).

The day will eventually come. In the days of Noah, God judged the world with water; the second time it will be by fire, fervent heat (2 Peter 3:10), some even say it may even be nuclear in nature. These truths are wake-up calls, sobering realities. This day, which seems to be right around the corner should bring me to a place of holy living.

O Lord, please strengthen me to work harder, to love deeper, so that I’m found by You, Jesus, with a heart that is right in Your sight. (1 John 2:28)

2 Peter 3:11 (NKJV) “Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,”

Peter closes the letter with a warning to the church (the beloved) to beware lest we’re led astray from our own steadfastness. On the contrary, we are to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Am I growing? I hope so! In all reality, the only way to make sure I’m not going backward is by growing forward.

Psalm 119:129-152

This time the Psalmist covers three Hebrew letters of the alphabet. Keep in mind that each stanza would begin with the same letter – this would help in the memorization of the text…which is all about the Bible.

The Psalmist saw God’s Word as a wonderful light that he loved to keep. I’ve always appreciated the heart behind Psalm 119:136.

Psalm 119:136 (NKJV) “Rivers of water run down from my eyes, because men do not keep Your law.”

Does it break my heart that people don’t keep God’s Word?

The Psalmist sees God’s character in His Word as righteous and upright. And again, he expresses his love for the Word.

Psalm 119:140 (NKJV) “Your word is very pure; therefore Your servant loves it.”

Where do we go when trouble and anguish attack? We run to God through His Word!

Psalm 119:143 (NKJV) “Trouble and anguish have overtaken me, yet Your commandments are my delights.”

I love the way the Psalmist rose before the dawn, and stayed up late at night, just soaking in the Scriptures (Psalm 119:147-148)

Proverbs 28:21-22

Proverbs 28:21 (NKJV) “To show partiality is not good, because for a piece of bread a man will transgress.”

Man is so inherently bad that we can be…bribed by a bit of bread!

“This is the last of six ‘not good’ sayings in Proverbs (17:26; 18:5; 19:2; 24:23; 25:27; 28:21). In court cases some judges show partiality to those who bribe them even with a small bribe such as a piece of bread. It is ironic that justice can be so easily perverted especially when bribery is so firmly denounced.” – Bible Knowledge Commentary

Proverbs 28:22 (NKJV) “A man with an evil eye hastens after riches, and does not consider that poverty will come upon him.”

An evil-eyed man, is a stingy man. He pursues riches rather than God, and ends up twice-poor: financially and spiritually.

“The one who hastens to be rich is almost always willing to cheat or compromise to gain wealth.” – David Guzik

I want to know Christ more, and make Him known…