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

Daniel’s Vision of the Four Beasts

by Mike Ratliff

1 And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads. 2 And the beast that I saw was like a leopard; its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority. 3 One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast. 4 And they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?” (Revelation 13:1-4 ESV)

It is time to prayerfully step into the prophetic section of Daniel. I have had quite a bit of anxiety about tackling these books that are deeply eschatological. Why? My method of Bible teaching is to simply expound scripture. I try to limit input into my analysis of passages to Biblical references for the most part. I do not believe I am wise enough or schooled enough in eschatology to do justice to this study. However, God is able to open up His word to our hearts. As we look at these sections in Daniel let us carefully let scripture speak. God will give us the truth as He sees fit. Perhaps God will give us insight into His Word that we have lacked until now. If so, then it is God doing this, not me. Continue reading

The Handwriting on the Wall

by Mike Ratliff

5 Immediately the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace, opposite the lampstand. And the king saw the hand as it wrote. 6 Then the king’s color changed, and his thoughts alarmed him; his limbs gave way, and his knees knocked together. (Dainiel 5:5-6 ESV)

God used Nebuchadnezzar to bring an end to the Judean kingdom. The kingdom of Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar was glorious. God blessed him and, as we saw in yesterday’s post, humbled him when he took credit for it all. After his death in October 562 BC, having reigned 43 years, he was succeeded by his son Amel-Marduk (or Evil-merodach 2 Kings 25:27-30). Amel-Marduk, who, after a reign of two years, was succeeded by Neriglissar (559 – 555). Neriglissar was succeeded by Nabonidus (555 – 538). Nabonidus, having no interest in politics or ruling an empire, left Babylon to live at Tayma, a rich oasis city in Arabia, leaving his son Belshazzar behind to rule the empire in his stead. At the close of the reign of Nabonidus and Belshazzar (less than a quarter of a century after the death of Nebuchadnezzar) Babylon fell under Cyrus the Great as the head of the combined armies of Media and Persia. This new empire was the silver part of the “image” in King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream from Daniel 2. Daniel Chapter 5 tells us the story of the last night of Belshazzar’s reign. Continue reading

The King of Heaven is able to Humble those Who Walk in Pride

by Mike Ratliff

1 King Nebuchadnezzar to all peoples, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied to you! 2 It has seemed good to me to show the signs and wonders that the Most High God has done for me.
3 How great are his signs,
how mighty his wonders!
His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and his dominion endures from generation to generation. (Daniel 4:1-3 ESV)

The deepest, widest blind spot that most professing Christians have is that they are convinced their religion pleases God. Pride disguises itself in many different ways. One that I have noticed in most professing Christians is a form of self-righteousness that sees their religion as making them so well-pleasing to God that anyone who is not part of their denomination or church could not possibly be right with God. Pragmatism springs from a desire by spiritually blind Christian leaders to mimic what other “successful” preachers or pastors do to grow their congregations or baptize huge numbers of converts. When these manipulating processes seem to work the first result is deeper spiritual blindness. Why? Idolatry always produces spiritual blindness. This blindness keeps those in it deceived into believing a lie. What lie? The lie is that God is not totally sovereign and needs their help to further the Kingdom. Their religious efforts may appear to “work,” but since the results are the fruit of fleshly methods and the works of men they only lead to cultivating pride. However, we must remember that God is Sovereign. 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

True and False Christians

In these last days it seems that what is up is down and what is down is up. The dynamic, forward moving evangelical part of the visible Church is quickly moving into a form of Christianity that seems oh so right to people. It seeks to offend no one. Many “evangelicals” have openly embraced union with the Roman Catholic church implying that the Protestant Reformation was a mistake. The focus of this form of Christianity is never on the Gospel. Instead it is on feeding the poor or world peace and always seeking to be friends of the world. Then there is the emergent movement. This form of Christianity seems to be all inclusive and friends of everyone, that is, everyone except those who appear to be mired in Orthodoxy. However, even though what we see seems to be many different apostate movements in the Church, the fact is, there is really only two groups of people calling themselves Christians. There are True Christians and False Christians. – Mike Ratliff

The following devotional by Martin Luther is from Faith Alone.

When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.” John 1:47

The Lord Christ does not want us to brag about being a Christian or, as in the case of Nathanael, being an Isrealite. It’s not enough to say, “I am baptized,” or even to say, “I am a bishop,” “I am a cardinal,” or “I am a preacher.” You must believe in Christ and live like a Christian. You must be righteous both on the inside and on the outside. You must not be embarrassed of the Lord Christ and the Christian faith. If you are, then you are a false Christian. If you don’t believe in your heart, your entire life is a lie and you remain in darkness. You aren’t righteous, and you only appear to be a Christian. Your actions don’t reflect your Christian faith.

If we could separate Christians from one another and divide them into true and false Christians, how many true Christians would we find? The world is crazy, foolish, and wild. It’s filled with all kinds of evil—adultery, drunkenness, vindictiveness, and other sins. Some people no longer consider it a sin for people to cheat each other. Yet these same people want to be considered good Christians.

Believe me, you’re not fooling anyone but yourself. God isn’t fooled or mocked. He will know what you are really like in an instant, just as he knew that Nathanael was a true Israelite who believed in he prophets. He will look at you and say, “Yes, here is a true Christian!”

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