The Seventy Weeks

by Mike Ratliff

1 In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, by descent a Mede, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans- 2 in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, perceived in the books the number of years that, according to the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet, must pass before the end of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years. (Daniel 9:1-2 ESV)

One of the worst parts about expounding scripture while not allowing “what men say” to influence that exposition is that there will always be some people who are “offended” or in disagreement with the analysis. I desire to offend no one. I deeply desire to be of use to my Lord in bringing His people into agreement about what His Word says. Therefore, I will continue to simply exposit scripture. As we have moved through Daniel I have tried very hard to look at extra-biblical sources only when necessary. I am very well aware that Daniel 9 is a hot button with some people. However, we must proceed. Continue reading

Moving fun

My son is in the process of moving from the city in which he went to Medical School to Washington D.C. for his residency in Emergency Medicine. I have been out of pocket for the last couple of days helping him get moved. I apologize for the spotty coverage I have been giving to comments and email for the last few days. Tomorrow we will be sending him off with his U-Haul for the 1200+ mile trip to D.C. Thank you for your patience and I ask that you pray for his safe arrival there. – Mike Ratliff

Daniel’s Vision of the Ram and the Goat

by Mike Ratliff

1 In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared to me, Dan-iel, after that which appeared to me at the first. 2 And I saw in the vision; and when I saw, I was in Susa the capital, which is in the province of Elam. And I saw in the vision, and I was at the Ulai canal. 3 I raised my eyes and saw, and behold, a ram standing on the bank of the canal. It had two horns, and both horns were high, but one was higher than the other, and the higher one came up last. 4 I saw the ram charging westward and northward and southward. No beast could stand before him, and there was no one who could rescue from his power. He did as he pleased and became great. (Daniel 8:1-4 ESV)

Many of the Old Testament prophecies have already been fulfilled. For instance, Jesus Christ fulfilled every one of the prophecies that spoke of His first coming, His torture, His death, His burial, etc. We have now arrived at Daniel Chapter 8. Daniel switches from Aramaic, which he used from 2:4b through 7:28, back to Hebrew starting in 8:1 through the end of His book. In Chapter 8 we will look at some already fulfilled prophecies and also how one of the characters from those that have been fulfilled also prefigures another character that is still future to us. Continue reading

The Image of Gold

by Mike Ratliff

16 “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. 19 When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. (Matthew 10:16-19 ESV)

If we listen to the common message from the vast majority of “Christian” leaders these days we will not receive one of eternal focus, power, or value. Instead, if we believe the message, we know that God desires for all of His people to have it their way, to have their best life now, to live any way they choose all the while seeing that the point of Christianity is to be blessed here and now. If we suffer then we must have sin in our lives that we have not confessed. Is the point of Christianity the believer’s health, wealth and prosperity? Is the focus of our faith primarily on this life now? Continue reading

The Fountain of Truth

by Mike Ratliff

13 “For My people have committed two evils:
They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters,
And hewn themselves cisterns-broken cisterns that can hold no water.

In John Bunyan’s classic The Pilgrim’s Progress, we learn of the vast difference between worldly wisdom and the truth through a character named Mr. Worldly Wisdom. Pilgrim is on his way to the little wicket gate as instructed by Evangelist when he meets up with this character. He tells Pilgrim that the truth that the Evangelist told him would only bring sorrow and grief to his life. If he would follow his advice instead then he would find that his life would go much easier. In our time, the Church has believed this lie and focused on the temporal more than the eternal. This has come from drinking from broken cisterns instead of the fountain of living waters. Continue reading

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

Jonathan Edwards sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” is an example of a sermon that few preachers these days would ever preach from their pulpits.  Listen to this audio for a modern day exposition of God’s Righteous Anger and Wrath. Why do we not preach this then? Isn’t it that we don’t want to offend? Folks, God’s wrath is coming, we must be about warning everyone who will listen to flee to the only escape from it that God has provided.

Also, when we do this we will be standing in a most holy place. It will cause people to hate us and persecute us. We must not flinch from it, but obey our Lord in telling the Truth. George Whitefield did this. Did he suffer for it? Look at the painting below of him preaching in England. (Click on it to enlarge it) Look at how people are trying to attack him and distract people from hearing him. Let’s get serious about our obedience in this world so we won’t be ashamed in the next.

Whitefield Preaching

God in Heaven Reveals Mysteries

by Mike Ratliff

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

Over time, Daniel became a very important person in the Kingdom of Babylon. However, as we look at Chapter 2 we find Daniel still a young man among the King’s counselors. The events in this chapter take place shortly after the promotion of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah from the ranks of the trainees that we looked at in yesterday’s post. In this chapter God uses a pagan King and a faithful servant to give us a prophetic picture of world kingdoms and a glimpse into the coming Kingdom of God. Continue reading

Undeniably Sovereign

There are times when the things we see going on in this world and in our lives from a platform of flesh. At those times it can seem to overwhelm us even to the point of despair. However, when we come to terms with God’s Sovereignty, we find a rock, a platform that will not move nor change. Follow this link to a poem that describes that process of coming into the light better than my poor words ever could.

The Book of Daniel

by Mike Ratliff

1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2 And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God. And he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and placed the vessels in the treasury of his god. 3 Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility, 4 youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. 5 The king assigned them a daily portion of the food that the king ate, and of the wine that he drank. They were to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king. 6 Among these were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah of the tribe of Judah. 7 And the chief of the eunuchs gave them names: Daniel he called Belteshazzar, Hananiah he called Shadrach, Mishael he called Meshach, and Azariah he called Abednego. (Daniel 1:1-7 ESV)

Perhaps before we jumped heavily into Revelation we should have started with the Book of Daniel. We have reached a crucial point of contention in our study of Eschatology. Every time I think I have come to an understanding of the various views on the end times I find that someone else has a totally different view of how things will be worked out by our God in Heaven. If nothing else, I have learned that I must approach those who hold these various views in all humility. Who am I? However, my approach to this study is to let the scripture interpret itself. I pray that all reading this will let God speak to their hearts from this wonderful book that God gave Daniel over a period covering 605-536BC. Continue reading

Jacob’s Trouble

by Mike Ratliff

5 “Thus says the Lord:
We have heard a cry of panic,
of terror, and no peace.
6 Ask now, and see,
can a man bear a child?
Why then do I see every man
with his hands on his stomach like a woman in labor?
Why has every face turned pale?
7 Alas! That day is so great
there is none like it;
it is a time of distress for Jacob;
yet he shall be saved out of it. (Jeremiah 30:5-7 ESV)

As we move through our study on Eschatology I have become very burdened with an overwhelming sense that I must not carelessly exegete any scripture. In fact, I do not feel comfortable writing anything about it without much prayer and research. I deeply desire to get it right. My commitment has been to do this study by looking at scripture alone. Also, a major point of contentions, so far, in our discussions has been whether the “Church” has replaced Israel as God’s covenant people. There is no doubt that all who are in Christ were saved by Faith through Grace thereby making them part of Abraham’s offspring. God justified him because He believed Him. All who follow Him in believing become branches in the Vine who is Christ. However, is God through with Israel and has He given all of the promises to Abraham’s offspring to the Church. Continue reading