by Mike Ratliff
20 Come, my people, enter into your rooms
And close your doors behind you;
Hide for a little while
Until indignation runs its course.
21 For behold, the Lord is about to come out from His place
To punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity;
And the earth will reveal her bloodshed
And will no longer cover her slain. Isaiah 26:20-21 (NASB)
God is Sovereign! He has always been and always will be Sovereign. I use Gmail as my main email. Unfortunately Google embeds ads in the interface just above the control buttons. Sometimes I will see something interesting there and click it. Usually I regret it. A few days ago I saw one that advertised a study that was supposed to show the real definition of Hyper-Calvinism. I am Reformed in my Theology, but I abhor Hyper-Calvinism. I know that many confuse the two so I hit the link to see what was what. The formula this writer of the document used to determine if a person was Hyper-Calvinistic was if all they talked about was God’s Sovereignty and glory instead of insisting on man’s responsibility. While I can see what the writer was trying to say I also saw that even though he agreed that God was Sovereign, he still was not sovereign over Man’s will. I read about half the document then gave up because the further I read the less Sovereignty God had and the more Man had. I had to go get a cold drink of water after that because it left a very bad taste in my mouth. Isn’t this the very essence of Man’s rebellion against God? Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
20 Then he said, “Do you understand why I came to you? But I shall now return to fight against the prince of Persia; so I am going forth, and behold, the prince of Greece is about to come. 21 However, I will tell you what is inscribed in the writing of truth. Yet there is no one who stands firmly with me against these forces except Michael your prince. Daniel 10:20-21 (NASB)
As we saw in the last post, there are evil powers behind the “kingdoms” of the world. Satan is the lord of this present age. In this post we will attempt to exposit Daniel 11. This is a very interesting chapter in that it covers the history of spiritual conflict in Israel (11:2-35) to the tribulation (11:36-42) where Michael comes to the aide of the Jews to assist in fully delivering them (12:1). The history section of this prophecy (vv2-35) is so accurate that skeptics have railed against the veracity of this prophecy. They cannot understand how someone could write with such accuracy several hundred years earlier than the events. However, as believers, we should look at this part of Daniel and rejoice in the fact that when God says something will happen, it will happen. However, this prophecy, which extends into chapter 12, looks into the future from Daniel’s time into what is future for us as well. We will see a preview of the Antichrist given to Daniel by God over 2 millennia ago. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:10-12 (NASB)
There is a great deal more going on in the spiritual than those of us in the temporal know about. All in Christ who still live and breathe are in the world, but are not part of it. Some, of course, live as if they are part of it, but we are called to be separate from the fleshpot world while being filled with the Spirit. Why? Of course if we are in love with this world, this present age, we will become encumbered and distracted from what we should be doing. Also, the world system, its things and its ways are all controlled by our enemy and his rulers, authorities, cosmic powers who do all they can to keep people blind in this present darkness. When believers are temporally focused they are being influenced by evil, if not controlled by it. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
1 In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of Median descent, who was made king over the kingdom of the Chaldeans— 2 in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, observed in the books the number of the years which was revealed as the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years. Daniel 9:1-2 (NASB)
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
by Mike Ratliff
1 In the third year of the reign of Belshazzar the king a vision appeared to me, Daniel, subsequent to the one which appeared to me previously. 2 I looked in the vision, and while I was looking I was in the citadel of Susa, which is in the province of Elam; and I looked in the vision and I myself was beside the Ulai Canal. 3 Then I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, a ram which had two horns was standing in front of the canal. Now the two horns were long, but one was longer than the other, with the longer one coming up last. 4 I saw the ram butting westward, northward, and southward, and no other beasts could stand before him nor was there anyone to rescue from his power, but he did as he pleased and magnified himself. Daniel 8:1-4 (NASB)
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
by Mike Ratliff
1 And the dragon stood on the sand of the seashore.
Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns were ten diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names. 2 And the beast which I saw was like a leopard, and his feet were like those of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority. 3 I saw one of his heads as if it had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed. And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast; 4 they worshiped the dragon because he gave his authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?” Revelation 13:1-4 (NASB)
It is time to prayerfully step into the prophetic section of Daniel. I always have quite a bit of anxiety about tackling 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
by Mike Ratliff
10 Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, 11 persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! 12 Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 13 But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 2 Timothy 3:10-13 (NASB)
“Christians” in the United States and other “civilized” countries do not exist in a climate of a fear of persecution like those in China and India. Some would say that is because of our culture or that there are huge numbers of Christians here. However, the truth of the matter is that Christians who live in total obedience to their Lord will be persecuted. So, what does that say about Christians who live at peace with the world around them? The truth of the matter is this; the reason Christians are not persecuted in the US is that very few of them are walking in the level of obedience to their Lord that would draw attention to them from those who hate the real Jesus and the Word of God. However, if they were living holy lives, sharing their faith, actively making disciples, and preaching the whole Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ the wrath of Satan and his seed would come upon them. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
5 Suddenly the fingers of a man’s hand emerged and began writing opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace, and the king saw the back of the hand that did the writing. 6 Then the king’s face grew pale and his thoughts alarmed him, and his hip joints went slack and his knees began knocking together. Daniel 5:5-6 (NASB)
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
by Mike Ratliff
1 Nebuchadnezzar the king to all the peoples, nations, and men of every language that live in all the earth: “May your peace abound! 2 It has seemed good to me to declare the signs and wonders which the Most High God has done for me.
3 “How great are His signs
And how mighty are His wonders!
His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom
And His dominion is from generation to generation. Daniel 4:1-3 (NASB)
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 never forget that God is Sovereign. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
16 “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues; 18 and you will even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. Matthew 10:16-19 (NASB)
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 hear a message that tells us 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. Along with that it insinuates that 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
by Mike Ratliff
20 Daniel said,
“Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever,
For wisdom and power belong to Him.
21 “It is He who changes the times and the epochs;
He removes kings and establishes kings;
He gives wisdom to wise men
And knowledge to men of understanding.
22 “It is He who reveals the profound 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 power;
Even now You have made known to me what we requested of You,
For You have made known to us the king’s matter.” Daniel 2:20-23 (NASB)
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
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 The Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along 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 he brought the vessels into the treasury of his god.
3 Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, the chief of his officials, to bring in some of the sons of Israel, including some of the royal family and of the nobles, 4 youths in whom was no defect, who were good-looking, showing intelligence in every branch of wisdom, endowed with understanding and discerning knowledge, and who had ability for serving in the king’s court; and he ordered him to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. 5 The king appointed for them a daily ration from the king’s choice food and from the wine which he drank, and appointed that they should be educated three years, at the end of which they were to enter the king’s personal service. 6 Now among them from the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 7 Then the commander of the officials assigned new names to them; and to Daniel he assigned the name Belteshazzar, to Hananiah Shadrach, to Mishael Meshach and to Azariah Abed-nego. Daniel 1:1-7 (NASB)
The northern Kingdom of Israel was in one form of apostasy or another during its entire existence. It’s first king, Jeroboam, did not want his people going back to Jerusalem to worship God at the Temple. So, he created golden calves in Bethel and Dan. He rejected the Levites as priests by creating a non-Levitical priesthood serving this false worship. In 722 B.C. the Assyrians conquered the Northern Kingdom. The people who survived were deported and scattered all over the then known world. However, the southern Kingdom of Judah was not much better. Over the centuries its Kings became progressively worse and worse until Manasseh, the son of Hezekiah, caused such horrible apostasy within the people that it was only a matter of time before God caused judgment to fall on them just as He had the Northern Kingdom. However, Mannaseh’s grandson, Josiah, was a King who followed after God with His whole Heart. He cleansed the Temple and restored genuine worship. He led the people into a proper relationship with their covenant God. It was during His reign that the people celebrated Passover and the other festivals correctly as no one before them. It is as if Josiah’s reign is a welcome respite in a long dreary line of somewhat good kings and many bad ones. Josiah knew the Lord and reigned in light of that. His heart was totally wrapped around His relationship with God. Continue reading
I am teaching in small group tonight so instead of writing and posting an article or devotion, I will post my lesson. Enjoy!
by J.W. Hendryx
With Four Examples of Doctrinal Errors that Arise When this Key is not Used.
“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.” (John 5:39, 40)
“For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” – (1 Tim 2:5)
“The Scriptures should be read with the aim of finding Christ in them. Whoever turns aside from this object, even though he wears himself out all his life in learning, he will never reach the knowledge of the truth.” – John Calvin
I have recently had the privilege of reading a phenomenal book that I highly recommend to all teachers of the Word. That book was Gospel-Centered Hermeneutics by Graeme Goldsworthy. Its thesis is simple: the Gospel (or, Jesus Christ) is the Key to all Christian Hermeneutics. During the course of reading, his focus got me to thinking about its antithesis which would be that almost all errors and inconsistencies in our understanding of Bible texts occur when our interpretation is less than Christ-centered. This is foundational. Unless our study, however diligent, leads us to see that all Scripture points to Jesus Christ, our study is in vain. The importance of the Bible (OT & NT) is that it testifies about Jesus Christ (John 1:43-45, Acts 3:18, Acts 17:2-3, 2 Tim Continue reading