Summary of Major Prophets

Lamentations.
Jeremiah.
Isaiah chapters 1-14.
Isaiah chapters 14-49.
Isaiah chapters 41-66.
Isaiah Chapters.
Ezekiel.
Daniel chapters 7-12.
Daniel chapters 1-6.

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Lamentations

LAMENTATIONS.

It was probably written by Jeremiah but it could have been written by a younger contemporary of Jeremiah. The writer must have witnessed the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar’s army in 587 B. C. Jerusalem was very much the city of God and its destruction was a disaster for the Jewish people. They knew that God had departed from them. The laments express the poet’s grief that God had rejected His people because of their sin. The first four chapters have the rhythm of the dirge. The poems are read aloud in synagogues in mid-July to mark the anniversary of the destruction of the Temple in 587 B. C., and the later destruction by Titus in A. D. 70. Both events were on the exact same day.

First lament. The sorrows of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is deserted, alone and with its people gone, the temple is defiled and destroyed. v 1. “She once queen of the nations is now a slave – she is tossed away like dirty rags.” God has judged and punished His people for the enormity of their sin. This serves as a terrible warning for believers, who walk away from God. Jerusalem had looked to international allies rather than to God. The same happens today. Israel looks to the United States instead of to God.

Second lament. The punishment of Jerusalem. God’s wrath is poured out. He is now their enemy – children are starving, the city is ruined and the enemy is gloating. This is a useful passage for a talk on the wrath of God. God even destroys His own Temple when what He wants most – a real relationship with human beings – has gone. The fact that God did these things shows just how angry God is about sin. v 9. God was no longer communicating with His people through the prophets to guide them.

Third lament. Punishment and hope. The nation is crushed and battered to the point where all hope dies. Yet there is the possibility of God’s love and mercy reaching out at a future date. v 31. “The Lord will not abandon them forever.” It is difficult to forgive the bitter taunts of the enemy. Yet God is not far from the poet and the city has a future. There is still a measure of grace available. Punishment could have been far worse – even death. There is still an opportunity for a man to exercise faith and receive salvation.

Fourth lament. This is a fresh lamentation over the conquest of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. Jerusalem is in ruins. There is a contrast to how it was in the past and how it is now. Edom – the old enemy of Israel – gloats as the city is at a low ebb. Obadiah v 12. The sins of the people and the prophets and priests have brought the nation to this situation. There is a terrible price to pay for sin. Mothers are reduced to eating their own children.

Fifth lament. A prayer for mercy. The result of defeat by the Babylonians means the loss of the land, the loss of freedom, the loss of respect, rape and cruelty, forced labour and starvation. Their own culture has been destroyed and the people are living in a foreign culture. This was all due to sin. The poet petitions God for restoration. v 13. The young men were toiling at the millstones. This was humiliating work.

There is a time for a man to be truly sorry for his sins. There is assurance that when true repentance takes place there is a real hope of restoration.

Jeremiah

JEREMIAH.

Jeremiah was the son of Hilkiah. He was born in the priest city of Anathoth, a few miles north of Jerusalem about 647 B. C. and was called to be a prophet about the age of 20 in 627 B. C. He began his ministry in the reign of Josiah and continued for 50 years. The Northern Kingdom had already fallen and Judah was in decline. He prophesied concerning the invasion of Nebuchadnezzar who destroyed Jerusalem. At the time there was a threefold battle for supremacy amongst Assyria, Babylon and Egypt. Judah was used as a pawn in the struggle. Assyria fell to Babylon, who then crushed Egypt in the Battle of Carchemish in 605 B. C. Eventually Judah fell to Babylon in 687 B. C. when Jerusalem was destroyed. Jeremiah chose to live on in Judah but eventually ended up in Egypt. There he ended his life.

The book is a mixture of prose, and poetry, taunt and lament, acted parable, history and biography. The book was written by Jeremiah’s faithful amanuensis, Baruch. Jeremiah dictated to him. He claimed to be a true prophet as against false prophets. He recorded his personal comments on the history and political intrigues of his day. He felt very alone, living as he did during a time of national and spiritual decline. The tide of religious life was on the ebb. He appealed in vain to the nation to turn back to God. The times were dark and the message sombre but there is a strong streak of hope running through the prophecy as he speaks of the New Covenant in Chapter 31. There will be a time of prosperity and joy in Judah one day.

CHAPTER 1. Jeremiah was chosen by God to be a prophet to the nations – not just to Israel but also to the nations. Like many before him he protested that he was incompetent for the job. God does not choose the able men but equips those whom He chooses. God has a plan for each life, provided a man is open to His guidance. Jeremiah clearly believed that God would give him the words to speak. The vision of the cauldron tells of the forces of Babylon like a cauldron about to pour out its scalding contents on Jerusalem. Trouble for Israel and Judah always came from the north. The land to the East was desert. Punishment for sin is a recurring theme in the writings of all the prophets. The branch of an almond tree was used as a whip to punish. There is also a play on the word, which means to be watchful. The almond tree is the first to blossom in January or February. God’s actions follow His Word swiftly. There is little doubt that the man called to point out the sins of the people will not be popular. He will need strength to resist the enemy. There is the promise of Jesus: “If you go in my name, I shall be with you.” There was no guarantee of response and indeed there was none, but Jeremiah was to be faithful. The people were given an opportunity by God to repent. The curses of disobedience were listed in Deut ch 28. The issue of abortion is addresses in v 4. God knew Jeremiah while he was still in his mother’s womb. In v 18 God confirmed that He had placed a protection round Jeremiah’s life. Satan only operates within the limits of God’s will.

CHAPTER 2. God charges His people with unfaithfulness. Jeremiah lists a catalogue of sins. Like Ezekiel he argues the Lord’s case in a dialogue between God and the people. On the one hand, consider all that the Lord has done for an undeserving people. On the other hand, consider the poor response, by the leaders, the priests and the prophets. They have behaved worse than the pagans. No one else has behaved so badly. At least the pagans are loyal to their false gods. Not so Israel. v 10. Israel has traded God for new gods and has lusted after them. The people have brought their disaster on their own heads. There is no blame attaching to God. God does not send people to Hell. They choose it for themselves by rejecting the light, which is given to them. Sin is sheer folly. There is nothing good to be said about it. The nation is about to reap what it has sown. Jeremiah uses a number of illustrations to make his point that Israel has chased after false gods. Perhaps the worst comment is in v 35. The people do not even realise how serious their sin is, as they wonder why God is angry with them.

CHAPTER 3. Jeremiah continues the allegory of a wife having deserted her husband. Israel has flirted with other gods. She has pursued them vigorously. Action and not words are what the Lord looks for in man. The actions of Israel spoke volumes about her attitude towards God. Judah is guiltier than Israel was. v 8. She has seen the consequences of the sins of Israel and failed to respond. In addition the reforms of good King Josiah did not change the heart of the nation. The more the knowledge a man has of the Word of God, the greater his responsibility. v 3. The rains have failed because of the sins of the people. This is a common refrain throughout the Bible. Mankind today speaks glibly of the Flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, the Holocaust and endless instances of judgement, yet steadfastly refuses to heed the warning. Verses 14 – 25 tell of the return to the land because of the grace of God. It will be a united country. There will be a new covenant between Israel and God. v 16. With the gift of the Holy Spirit Himself there will be no looking back to the days of the Ark of the Covenant. v 22. God almost cries to His people to return.

CHAPTER 4. v 1-2. It was always the purpose of God that He would be revealed through the people of Israel, if they obeyed Him and worshipped Him. v 18. No one would come to the aid of Israel. Jeremiah conveys something of the pain on the heart of God, as He watched the disaster. The scorching desert wind is a symbol of destruction. v 20. This chapter speaks of utter desolation and destruction of the land and the people. It was brought upon them by their own ways and they had no one to blame but themselves. However there is always a remnant left for God. v 27.

CHAPTER 5. v 1. How bad were things in Jerusalem? There was not one man left worthy of being called righteous. The learned and rich were as bad as the poor. Poverty was no excuse for sinfulness. Riches were no protection. The judgement was due to the stubbornness and rebellion of the people. The prophets were complacent and prophesied falsely. The priests ruled as they liked and not as God wants. v 22-25. God sets the boundaries of the sea and sends the rain in season. However, these blessings are lost when the people sin. Climate change can be reversed only if there is true repentance by a nation. As a result of sin the gap between the rich and the poor gets wider.

CHAPTER 6. The people were not ashamed at their sinful ways. They had been given every chance to repent but they would not. Watchmen were sent to warn them and they were encouraged to remember the old days and how they used to behave. Everything possible had been done to prevent the calamity, which was about to befall them. They have had the lesson of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Jeremiah was not the only prophet to be sent to them. Others said the same thing but no one listened. v 8. God gives them a final warning through Jeremiah. v 11. The wrath of God has to be poured out on the people of Israel. This is a universal warning to the peoples of the World.

CHAPTER 7. v 3. Jeremiah gave the people a last opportunity to change their ways and God would let them stay on in the land. v 22. He reminded the people that religious sacrifices were of no avail. To obey is better than to sacrifice. 1 Sam ch 15 v 22. God wants justice and truth and care for the orphans. This is echoed in James ch 1 v 27. v 16. God tells Jeremiah not to pray for the people any longer. There ay come a time in the life of a person or a nation when God closes His ears to the prayers of the people. v 18. The Queen of Heaven is Ishtar, the Babylonian fertility goddess. This is the god behind “Easter” and its cakes. v 31. The people had set up idols within the Temple. It is possible to introduce certain activities within a Church so that if Paul were to visit he would not recognise it as a Church. “My house shall be called a house of prayer; but you make it a den of robbers.” Mat ch 21 v 13.

CHAPTER 8. There is a fresh indictment against the people. v 6. Is there any one who is serious about his sins? The people have rejected the Word of the Lord and wisdom has left them. v 9. The scribes who interpreted God’s Word in the practical matters of life are, like the priests and prophets, motivated by self-interest. They have provoked God to anger and His grief is beyond healing. v 18. God is dismayed.

CHAPTER 9. There is no love or respect in the people for one another. v 4. They spread lies to one another. God promises to scatter the people among the nations and to send the sword after them. There is also the promise of punishment one day for all peoples who fail to walk in the ways of God. So inevitable has judgement become that the professional mourners might as well come in now. v 23. God does not appreciate those who boast in their wisdom, strength or riches. A man may only boast that he knows God.

CHAPTER 10. v 2. There are many false predictions as to the future of the World. Believers should not be concerned by them and should certainly not be frightened by them. God speaks about the future in His Word. Jeremiah employs sarcasm to make the point that false gods are utterly useless. Wooden idols are stupid things. They are compared with the Lord of all the Earth, who formed the stars and controls the rainfall. Since the other nations were ruled by false gods, it is so serious that Israel should adopt these false gods. The nations who are used to destroy Israel are also guilty before God for the part they have played. They saw why Israel was being put out of the land and did nothing about changing their own behaviour.

CHAPTER 11. Israel had broken the Covenant. v 3. There is a curse on the person who breaks God’s covenant. v 8. Because the people broke the covenant God brought to bear all the penalties stated in the covenant as a consequence of breaking the covenant. This is another aspect of the disobedience of the people. Jeremiah is asked to remind the people of this fact. v 14. The situation was so bad that God tells Jeremiah that he would be wasting his time to pray for the people. It is all over. The decision has been made. v 19. The men of Judah had been plotting to kill Jeremiah. v 23. There may come a time when it is too late to repent.

CHAPTER 12. Jeremiah narrates a question and answer session, which he has had with the Lord. Why do the wicked prosper and the righteous suffer? v 4. They felt safe from God’s judgement. This is an age-old question. Jeremiah felt injustice due to the persecution he was experiencing. The men of his hometown threatened to kill him. v 5-6. God’s answer is that these are mere men. How will Jeremiah cope when the king is against him? These people will be punished in God’s own good timing. In verse 15 there is the promise of a return to the land of Israel. v 16. There is also a promise of blessing for the nations, which accept the God of Israel as their God.

CHAPTER 13. v 1-7. Jeremiah uses the illustration of a pair of linen shorts to demonstrate just how useless Israel is to the Lord. The purpose for which they were chosen cannot now be fulfilled because of their sinful ways. Jeremiah once again spells out some of these sins. v 22. The awful consequences are the result of the sins of the people who do not give God any thought at all.

CHAPTER 14. v 1. God confirms that He has the power to hold back the rain. Punishment will be executed by the sword, famine and pestilence. The three together imply full-scale judgement. v 18. False prophets have been giving a conflicting message. It is very dangerous to give a message from the Lord. If it is not true the prophet makes God out to be a liar. Jeremiah remembers the goodness and majesty of God, as if to restore the balance after so much about the wrath of God. All along God has been blessing the people. Jeremiah begs God not to desert the people for the honour of His name.

CHAPTER 15. Perhaps chapter 14 was a belated plea for the people. But God says that even if Moses and Samuel stood before Him, the sentence, which had been passed, would have to stand. Both Moses and Samuel had pled successfully for the nation in the past. The sentence seems to be spread out. Some are for the sword, others for pestilence, others for famine and still others for captivity. v 4. The reason given for the punishment is the actions of King Manasseh. He introduced child sacrifice to Molech. If God banished His own people from the Promised Land because of child sacrifice, how can God overlook the scale of abortion in countries today? v 6. God had given His people chance after chance to put matters right. In v 15 Jeremiah makes a plea for himself. He has done all that was required of him. Why does his wound not heal? “Keep in close contact with the Lord,” appears to be the reply. Jeremiah is to influence his enemies and not let them influence him. v 21. Then God will deliver him out of their hands. The Lord will never forsake His child as long as the child is faithful. The Church is to be in the World but believers should not let the World into the Church.

CHAPTER 16. Jeremiah is advised by God not to marry and have children. This was almost unheard of in the nation. The future of the children is bleak. Many will die and not even be buried. v 6. God has withdrawn His mercy. Salvation is entirely mercy from God. No one deserves anything. Jeremiah is warned not to attend any funerals. Then at verse 14 is the promise of a new and second exodus from the lands of the north at some distant day. The second exodus will be greater than the one from Egypt. There may be a break between verse 15 and verse 16. God will bring His people back a second time to prove to people everywhere how powerful He is and that He alone is God.

CHAPTER 17. v 1. Sin seems to be ingrained into the people. Sin makes God so angry after all he has provided for them. v 9. The heart is deceitful. No one but God knows how bad it really is. There is a clear choice set before the readers. Trust in man and the material World and the future is hopeless. Trust in the Lord and blessings will flow. God will give rewards to each according to the fruit of his doings. v 16-17. Again Jeremiah seems to want to distance himself from God and His message. It brings Jeremiah nothing but trouble. v 19. Jeremiah is asked by God to go to the city gate and warn the people to keep the Sabbath day. Disregard for the Sabbath was symptomatic of the disobedience of the nation. v 27. Keeping the Sabbath is a key to the survival of the nation. The nation’s sins were written with indelible ink on the hard hearts of the people.

CHAPTER 18. Go down to the Potter’s House. Again Jeremiah is given a picture from the Lord to illustrate how God can change things. He is like the potter and able to remake a broken vessel. But the people are not open-minded and willing to be remoulded into something useful. They are stubborn and stiff-necked. v 7-10. The success of nations depends on their response to the Word of God. v 12. Jeremiah’s message was not received gladly. It provoked hostility. V 16. God declared that the time would come when the land would be desolate. That happened in the 19th century. v 19. Jeremiah took his complaint to the Lord. Jeremiah’s tenderness for his own people had also reached its limit. He curses the people and asks God to inflict the judgement. v 23. “Do not forgive them.” However Jeremiah is not in a position to pass judgement on the people. That is God’s prerogative.

CHAPTER 19. God gives Jeremiah a second illustration to give to the people. He smashes a jar to show that the people of Judah are of no use to God, just as the smashed jar is no use to anyone. The ultimate insult to God was for the people to kill the very children who had been gifted to them by God. v 9. In the judgement to come God would let the people reach the position where in desperation they would eat heir own children and their friends in order to survive. Jeremiah was not a hard-hearted person. It hurt him when his message was rejected. His mood fluctuates between faith and misery. Believers who are under attack should not be despondent about mood swings – between elation and depression.

CHAPTER 20. v 1. As soon as Jeremiah spoke, he ran up against the religious leader of the day – Pashhur. Jeremiah ended up in the stocks. Opposition always starts with religious people. Jesus experienced the same thing. Jeremiah faced the dilemma. He could not keep quiet, knowing the importance of discharging his responsibility to his fellow man and to God. Yet every time he spoke, hardly anyone listened and those who did reacted with hostility. This is hardly surprising in view of what he said to Passhur in v 6. Jeremiah’s faith and obedience has been used by the Lord for centuries to speak to believers. Jeremiah did not know that. v 8. Even today his name is a household joke. People are referred to as a Jeremiah when they are gloomy.
v 11. Again there are mood swings. One moment Jeremiah is complaining to the Lord. Jeremiah wished that he had never been born. What was the point of it all? Then in v 11-13 he proclaims the greatness of God.

CHAPTER 21. King Zedekiah sent to Jeremiah hoping for a favourable word from God through His prophet. He did not get what he wanted. He asked Jeremiah to speak to God for him. Presumably the King was unable to speak to God direct. Often people ask others to pray for them when they cannot pray. The people are called to make up their mind. Jeremiah was given the task of speaking to King Zedekiah on behalf of the Lord. God was against the King and Jeremiah prophesied his defeat.

CHAPTER 22. Jeremiah makes it clear what is expected of the King and indeed of any leader of people – justice and righteousness. Failure brings disaster. God had spoken to the people in their prosperity but they would not listen. Jehoiakim was taken into exile when only 18, as one of the first batch of captives.
v 13. Jehoiakim was using forced labour, like Solomon had done, to build his palace. A beautiful palace does not make a great king. v 15. His father Josiah had ruled with justice and lived a long life. The son was not following in his father’s footsteps. Jehoikim’s son Coniah would never occupy the throne of Israel.
v 28. He and his children will be exiled to distant lands. Coniah’s life would amount to nothing.

CHAPTER 23. Then Jeremiah turns to the shepherds of the people, that is to the political and religious leaders. Those in Judah were even worse than those in Israel had been. They are likened to the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. False prophets are still among believers today, claiming to have a word from the Lord. In reality it is their own pride and imagination. They look to pretend that God would use them. It is a dangerous thing to claim a word from God when it is not from Him. Jeremiah says what Ezekiel said of them in Ezekiel ch 34. They had looked after themselves and left the people without guidance and the Word of the Lord. There is the promise of one real shepherd – the Messiah in v 5. At that time Judah would be saved and live in peace.
v 7-8 tell again of the Exodus from the land of the North, confirming the prophesy in ch 16 v 14. v 9 and 14. False prophets come in for particular criticism and rebuke from God. v 21. They speak without knowing God and knowing what is on His heart.
v 32. They claim to have dreams. They project on to God what they think ought to be in His mind. This is quite a different thing. Jeremiah can hardly complain at the response of the priests and prophets. Jesus met the same hostility in His day.

CHAPTER 24. v 2. The two baskets of figs refer to the exiles on the one hand and those still left in Judah on the other. The exiles are the better of the two. God promised to make sure that they are well treated in Babylon. Ezekiel and Daniel were amongst the exiles. Jeremiah remained in Judah.
v 8. Those who remained in Judah were too bad to use.

CHAPTER 25. Jeremiah predicts Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion and the exile. For 23 years Jeremiah had been repeating the message – repent. The people had remained unmoved.
v 9.God had raised up Nebuchadnezzar as His instrument of punishment. The exile will last 70 years and the pagan nation of Babylon will also face judgement at the end of the seventy years. This was the passage, which was read by Daniel. Dan ch 9 v 2. Daniel recognised that the seventy years were up.
v 14. Babylon will be punished in proportion to their treatment of the people of Israel.
v 17-26. Jeremiah travelled extensively with the message of God’s wrath.
v 32. God’s wrath will go from nation to nation in a great whirlwind.

CHAPTER 26. Jeremiah was in competition with the false prophets, who were preaching what the people wanted to hear. He realised that the false prophets wanted him out of the way and warned the people that if they killed him they would be guilty of his innocent blood.
v 7-11 describe a situation similar to what Jesus faced. The leaders of the people presented a petition to Pilate to have Jesus killed because they did not like His messages.
v 14. Jeremiah was helpless in their power but on this occasion (v 17 and 24) the Lord raised up some men to speak in his defence. It was not a comfortable time for Jeremiah, but he was obedient to God and God stood by him.
v 20-23. Uriah, another prophet, did not fare so well. He is referred to in Heb ch 11 v 35.

CHAPTER 27. Jeremiah acted out a message by putting yokes on his neck to show that Judah would be under the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar.
v 5-8. All nations were to serve Babylon and any one, which resisted would suffer the consequences. It is God who raises up Empires and demolishes Empires for His own purposes. It is a dangerous thing to attempt to work out the providence of God. Today some believers prophesy revival, while others prophesy judgement. It is so vital to know what the Lord is saying at any particular time. To whom would Hezekiah listen? To whom does a believer today listen?

CHAPTER 28. There is another confrontation with the false prophet Hananiah. Jeremiah has to tell him that he will die because he has spoken a lie in God’s name. It is dangerous to say that there is a word from the Lord. If it is not true, then it is tantamount to putting words in God’s mouth, which He has not spoken and the person is calling God a liar. The death of Hananiah was not surprising.
v 9. The test is whether or not the prophecy comes true.
v 12. There comes the time when it is pointless to debate when someone has made up his mind and will not listen.

CHAPTER 29. Jeremiah assures the captives that they are safer in Babylon than they would be in Jerusalem. v 5-7. He tells them that they will spend 70 years in captivity and that they ought to settle down, get married and have children and build homes. There is a promise of a return after the 70 years on condition that the people seek after God. In Dan ch 6 Daniel had read the book of Jeremiah and set about praying for the return of the Jewish people to Judah.
v 11. God assures the people that He still has plans for them. All may seem lost from time to time but God’s plans cannot be thwarted by men or Satan.
v 14 speaks of gathering the people out of the nations – not just Babylon. This has to refer to the present day.
v 18-19. What curse the people bear when they refuse to pay attention to the Word of God.
v 22. The leaders of the people are punished more heavily. They have all the privileges of being leaders but bear a greater responsibility.

CHAPTER 30. This starts a new section of the book and speaks of a New Covenant and a glorious time for the people of Israel back in the land of Israel. It is not consistent with the return after 70 years. v 7. It will be preceded by a time of great suffering. The Holocaust has been the worst experience of the Jewish people.
v 8-10. At last foreigners will not be their masters. They will be a sovereign nation again. The nations among whom Israel has been scattered will suffer for their rejection of God.
v 12-14. The Jewish people have suffered like no one else for their sins of rejecting their Messiah. Everyone else will forsake Israel but God will be good to His people. God’s wrath will burst upon the wicked nations and only then will they fully understand these things.
v 20. God will punish those nations, which make life difficult for the Jewish people.
v 22. Once again the Jewish people will be God’s people and He will be their God. It will be as God always wanted and intended.

CHAPTER 31. v 1. “At that time.” What is the time referred to in this chapter? This chapter goes into greater detail about the things, which will take place after the restoration of the Jewish people to the land of Israel. v 2-5. God will show the same concern and kindness to the Jewish people as He did when He led them out of Egypt. All the Jewish people will know Him for themselves.
v 10. This action on the part of God will send a message to the nations of the World.
v 15. The return to the land will follow a time of great sorrow for the Jewish people. Is this the Holocaust?
v 31-34. Jeremiah details the new covenant in those days. He repeats the personal relationship between a man and God, as against the collective relationship of the people to God.
v 31-40. There is a guarantee that the Jewish people shall remain a people right to the end of the World. As long as the laws of nature exist there will be a Jewish people.

CHAPTER 32. v 2. Jeremiah was in prison for his belief in God. The persecuted Church today is nothing new. v 6-7. Jeremiah is told to purchase a field as a sign of the promised restoration to the land. He is asked to put his money where his mouth has been. There was clearly a written land transaction, witnessed and signed. God, who had brought all the disasters on Israel because of her sins, would bring all the good He had promised to them.
v 15. Jeremiah asked the deed to the field to be kept safe for a day in the future. This speaks of the return to the land of the Jewish people.
v 43. It is an acted-out parable. v 27. God asks the rhetorical question: “Is anything too hard for me?” v 35. The killing of their children is an incredible evil. Yet a day will come in the future when God will give His Spirit to His people so that they will worship Him forever. God will put a desire in their heart to worship Him. What amazing grace!

CHAPTER 33. v 7-9. There will be a day in the future when God will rebuild the cities and the nation will bring God honour instead of pain. v 15. The Messiah will rule the people one day.
v 20-21. There is an absolute guarantee that Jesus will reign over His people. He shall execute righteousness and justice. God will never break it. The Davidic covenant is confirmed.
v 25-26. God promises that He will never forsake His people.

CHAPTER 34. Jeremiah has the task of conveying a message to the King – Zedekiah. He prophesies the future and tells him that he will be taken into exile. Zedekiah had imposed slavery on the people and he would be punished for this.
v 16. Zedekiah had promised to God to end slavery but had later broken his promise.
v 18-19. How serious it is for a believer to make a promise and to break it. God never breaks His promises and expects His children to keep their promises. God has imposed a rule on the Jewish people that Hebrew slaves must be freed after six years. It is one thing to see the principle involved but quite another to put it into practice, with all the practical consequences, which flow from the decision. Perhaps that was Jeremiah’s stiffest test of obedience. To have to speak to the employer or person, who has a position of superiority, knowing the consequences, is never an easy task.

CHAPTER 35. Jeremiah points out the faithfulness of one family – the Rechabites – as an example of how faithful the people should be. Jonadab, the son of Rechab, told his sons not to drink wine. They obeyed their father’s command without questioning it. Yet Israel had not obeyed the commands of their Heavenly Father. The Rechabites would be rewarded for their faithfulness. The Israelites would forfeit their reward.

CHAPTER 36. Jeremiah dictated the words he received from the Lord to his writer Baruch. Baruch went to the Temple and read the words on the scroll to the people. Some were responsive and went to tell King Jehoikim. Later, the King asked for the scroll to be read to him by his secretary, Jehudi. As it was read the King cut it up with his knife – bit by bit and threw it away into the fire. Neither the King nor his servants showed any fear of the Lord as they did this. God told Jeremiah to write it again and to add a word of judgement against the King. Man does the same today as he casts doubt on the word of God and effectively throws it away or shuts he book. Judgement rests upon the man who does this.

CHAPTER 37. v 2. Some of the Israelites were spared exile to Babylon yet they did not give God thanks or believe His word to them. God holds man accountable for the rejection of His Word. Jeremiah foretold the defeat of Jerusalem and the judgement of the Lord on the people. They so hated his message that they beat him and cast him in prison. King Zedekiah sent for him and heard him out. He had power to release Jeremiah but sent him back to prison, even though he knew that Jeremiah was innocent. (There is a parallel with Pilate and Jesus.) Presumably the King feared the people more than God. Fear of man can have a paralysing effect on the decisions of men. Jesus knew that He was following in the footsteps of such as Jeremiah when He refused to compromise the message about the Kingdom of God, which He had been given from His Father.

CHAPTER 38. v 4. Finally some of the leaders accuse Jeremiah of being a traitor and undermining the confidence of the remaining soldiers. King Zedekiah washed his hands on Jeremiah. Finally Jeremiah was placed in a miry pit or cistern where he was about to sink into the clay and die. The political and religious leaders of the people were determined to shut him up. Zedekiah handed Jeremiah over to the Princes in much the same way that Pilate handed over Jesus. An Ethiopian eunuch was brave enough to go to the King and plead for Jeremiah.
v 16. In private the King relented. He was afraid to lose face before the people. It was easier for him to do so in private. It is not wise to embarrass a superior in public. It is better to go to him in private and give him an opportunity to rethink when he is out of the glare of publicity. There was a streak of goodness in the King but also a streak of weakness.
v 24. In private Jeremiah advised the King that he would be spared, if he surrendered to Babylon. The glory of the Lord had gone from the Temple. Like Saul, pride would not let Zedekiah accept the message, which he knew was not acceptable to the leaders of the people. Zedekiah fought with the Word from God – and lost.

CHAPTER 39. Eventually Jerusalem fell to Nebuchadnezzar as prophesied. Zedekiah made a run for it, sneaking out of the walls of the city by night. After being captured, Zedekiah had to watch as his sons were killed and then he had his eyes gouged out. Such was the cruelty of the spirit, which lived in Nebuchadnezzar – later ruling Saddam Hussein. The walls of Jerusalem were broken down and the important people were carried off to Babylon. Some poor people were left behind. They posed no threat. Jeremiah was spared and was allowed to live on in Judah.
v 18. The Eunuch was given his life because he had trusted the Word of the Lord. Gedeliah was left as the puppet Governor of Judah.

CHAPTER 40. v 5. Jeremiah was rewarded for his faithfulness to God and was given free will to go wherever he wanted and to bring his ministry to an end. Jeremiah chose to return to Judah and serve the lord again. Those Jews who had fled to Moab and Ammon returned to Judah to live under Gedeliah’s rule. The guerrillas felt that it was the time to be rid of the puppet king and rule the land for themselves. When there is no strong leadership, there often arises a struggle for control. This has been apparent after the collapse of Communism.

CHAPTER 41. The struggle reached a climax as Ishmael killed Gedeliah. Ishmael ruled like the Mafia. Corruption was the order of the day. There was instability and a picture of life in contrast to the ordered life Israel had known under a strong king. v 18. Wrongdoing brings consequences for others.

CHAPTER 42. v 10. Through Jeremiah God warned the remnant not to flee to Egypt. It seemed to the people the best course to take, since there would be safety in Egypt but God had plans for the people and He clearly wanted them to stay in Judah. The people asked for a word from the Lord from Jeremiah.
v 6. They promised to obey whatever God said. However, when the word was to stay and not go, which is what they wanted to do, their will prevailed. God knew best. They rebelled against what they knew was His will for them. They still wanted God’s blessing on them even though they were in disobedience. How like modern man. He will not worship God but wants a Church wedding and a Church funeral.
v 16. Jeremiah made it clear that by disobeying they would suffer judgement. So they had no excuse.

CHAPTER 43. v 3. The people point blank refused to accept that Jeremiah was delivering a message from God. Their will as opposed to Good’s will and they accused Jeremiah of lying in order to satisfy their own desire. They set off for Egypt taking Jeremiah with them against his will. Jeremiah prophesied that Nebuchadnezzar would invade Egypt. Once again God proves that He knows best, since He is ahead of time and can see the future.

CHAPTER 44. v 7. God sought to make the people change their minds but they would not.
v 17. They declared that they would do whatever they wanted to do. The choice was between doing the will of the God of Israel and worshipping the Semiramis the goddess of the Babylonian Mystery religion. They made their choice and God made His choice. God abandoned the people who went to Egypt. They suffered very badly for their disobedience.

CHAPTER 45. Baruch was promised that he would not die, despite all the death around him. This was a response from God to Baruch’s faithfulness. A nation might be in decline but one within the nation may be blessed for his faithfulness.

CHAPTER 46. Jeremiah also speaks a message to other nations, showing that God is the God of all nations. v 28. The chapter closes with a word of encouragement for the future. Egypt shall be inhabited as in the days of old. Israel will be a nation at the end of the World.

CHAPTER 47. The Philistines have a bleak future. There are no future prospects. The Philistines are not to be equated with the people who today refer to themselves as Palestinians. There has never been a people recognised by the name “Palestinians.”

CHAPTER 48. Moab and her god Chemosh will be destroyed but in the latter days Moab will be re-established. Whether the people of Moab know it or not they are accountable to God.

CHAPTER 49. This chapter contains messages against Ammon, Edom, Kedar and Elam. Israel will dispossess those who dispossessed them. The prophecy against Edom in v 10 is similar to that of Obadiah. Edom will become a horror. The fortunes of Elam will be restored in the latter days. It raises the question: Who are the people of Elam? Mohammed came from Kedar. Al Quaeda bears the name.

CHAPTER 50. The lengthy denunciation of Babylon extends into Chapter 51. This appears to take place at a time when the people of Israel and the people of Judah have come together. The United Nations came against Babylon. There will be no sin in Judah. God will pardon the Jewish people. That day has still to come. God’s wrath is poured out on Babylon. The desolation is to be like Sodom and Gomorrah. When Babylon is attacked it will be the end for her. She will rise no more. The words could describe the invasion of Iraq by the coalition forces led by the United States of America in 2002. It could refer to the spirit behind Islam when it seeks to come against Israel to bring about its destruction.

CHAPTER 51. v 7. Babylon has been the cup from which all the nations of the World have drunk. The Babylonian Mystery religion founded by Nimrod is the basis for all the World religions.
v 19. The God of Israel is The God and he has made everything and will bring all men into judgement. v 35. The false religions will be repaid for all they have done to Israel and against the God of Israel.
v 64. Babylon will sin never more to rise.

CHAPTER 52. The book closes with a factual record of Zedekiah’s reign. Zedekiah refused to surrender to Nebuchadnezzar. He tried to escape from Jerusalem but was overtaken and captured. Nebuchadnezzar killed his sons before his eyes and then gouged out Zedekiah’s eyes before sending him off into captivity in fetters. The precious contents of the Temple were taken away to Babylon. There are similar acts of barbarism today as there have been down through the centuries.

Isaiah chapters 1-14

ISAIAH.

The message of the prophets.
1. God is ruler of all history. The other nations were tools in the hands of God.
2. The primary need of man is to be right with God. There is a personal call to repentance.
3. There is a call to live in obedience to God’s standards. A right relationship to God is essential for a right relationship to other men.
4. Here is a blend of judgement and hope. Judgement is coming but there is a ray of hope.
5. There is the prospect of the Messianic Kingdom.
6. The nations of the World would be blessed through Israel.

The books of the prophets belong to the time of the nation’s decline, exile and return. Their messages are addressed to various people in various places. They were sent to halt the headlong rush of the people to destruction. God brought the prophets into such close intimacy of fellowship with Himself, such harmony of mind and will, consecration of life, that they grew to full maturity themselves. They let God speak through them by His Holy Spirit. At each time of change God raised a prophet for His purposes. Samuel formed the schools of the prophets. They acted as privy counselors of the King, the historians of the nation and the instructors of the people. They stood out against the despotism of the Kings and the formalism of the Priests. There is a danger of a priest becoming a professional clergyman and not open to the Spirit of God. The prophet stood alone before men, after he had stood alone before God. Alone of the nations Israel had a true awareness of history. God was always anxious to make Himself real to mankind. Prophecy proves that God knows the end from the beginning. A man still has free choice. Christ was the fulfillment of all that God had said He would do. The purpose of both history and prophecy is to make known God’s purposes of grace and principles of dealing with man, the one by narration of the past and the other by connecting the past with the future. The first 11 chapters are a series of warnings and promises. The prophets tell forth the Word of God as well as foretell the works of God. What a man does today affects his life tomorrow. The two are interconnected. Like a good doctor the prophet diagnoses the case, prescribes the remedy and warns the patient about the consequences of not taking the advised course of action. The purpose of the prophet is to encourage the people to obey God. Isaiah makes a passionate plea to that effect. 2 Pet ch 3 v 11. In view of the situation and the future what manner of man ought a man to be?

Isaiah wrote about Judah and Jerusalem. He started writing during the reign of Uzziah and continued for 50 years. He lived on into the days of King Manasseh, who introduced child sacrifice to Molech. Tradition has it that Isaiah was sawn in half during these days. Heb ch 11 v 37. His theme is twofold. He reveals the Holy One of Israel and he speaks about salvation of the nation by God through judgement and grace. He was a man of royal blood. His father Amoz was a younger son of Joash, King of Judah. As a statesman he had tremendous influence for good in the State. He wrote in poetry, which shows that God was expressing His emotion about the state of the nation.
There are 5 themes of salvation.
1. Deliverance of Judah from Assyrian invasion.
2. Deliverance of Judah from Babylonian captivity.
3. Deliverance in future of the Jews from among the Gentiles.
4. Deliverance of lost sinners from judgement.
5. Deliverance of creation from the bondage of sin.

CHAPTER 1. Isaiah saw the World through the eyes of God. If the theme of the book is salvation, chapter one sets out the desperate need for salvation in a lost World. Not just Israel and Judah but the nations around them were far from innocent. This chapter is a scene in a court of law. God convenes the court and Isaiah reads out the charges. Verdict? Guilty! Morally and spiritually the nation is guilty. This is despite the fact that the nation was prospering materially. Material success often leads to moral and spiritual decline. The people were far from God. Their worship was hypocritical. Organised religion does not alter the crime rate. The religious leaders make no impact on the community. The people see that but do nothing about it. It excuses them from doing anything. That is why the leaders have a greater responsibility. The relationship between the people of Israel and God was at an all time low. There was no repentance or turning to God. The attitude was wrong. There was no love for God or their fellow men, despite a form of religion. Even so God still held out the hand of friendship and gave them an opportunity to return to Him. How can it be that the nation has rejected God?
v 3. It is normal for a man to honour and worship his Creator. Man is behaving worse than an animal.
v 4. Consider the consequences due to sin.
v 9. This is meant to shock the people by making them aware just how bad the situation is. Sodom was used as a byword for immorality and destruction.
v 10. God hates their religious hypocrisy. Isaiah begs the people to get back to basic principles of love, justice and mercy. Religious ritual without spiritual life is condemned.
v 15. There is no point in a man praying until he deals with the sin in his life.
v 16. Stop sinning and do good! This is a positive command.
v 18-20. God always offers a choice. Repent and live. It is up to each man. God takes the initiative. He invites the nation to sit down and talk about it. “Let us reason together.” He urges them to make a fresh start. It is easy to blame others. It is a personal choice for each man. He has free choice, but lives with the consequences of his own decisions. God was holding back His wrath, but was near to the limit of His endurance.
v 21-31. The situation is serious. However, the prophets often leave the promise of better days to come and in so doing encourage repentance. The people have wandered off after false gods. The Lord invites them to talk over the matter with Him. God desperately wants them back into a living relationship. This passage speaks to Israel then and now. It also speaks to any Church and to the individual. God does not want a religious approach but a personal relationship. v 16-17. Jerusalem will be restored one day. There comes a time when the sin of the people or the individual is so great that God will not listen. Those who have steadfastly rejected God are doomed to die. v 29. The oaks refer to the groves where sacrifices of the Canaanite rites took place. For the moment exile loomed up on the horizon as the consequence of their sins. Like any father, God must correct His children when they do wrong.

CHAPTER 2. In order to reinforce the position Isaiah points to a day when Jerusalem will be at the centre of the World. The Word of the Lord will go out from Jerusalem – an exciting promise. Is the temple a physical or spiritual temple? Jerusalem will be the capital of the World. The situation looks hopeless because of sin, but God proposes to act to reveal Himself as a mighty God. Israel will fulfil her role to be the light to the World. God has done great things and will do so again. Israel is to trust God and not man. Isaiah invites man to consider how things could be nationally, personally and in the Church. There will be a day of judgement and human pride will be judged. This may be in the day of the Lord when Jesus returns. There is a contrast between puny man and the Lord of glory. Men take great pride in the things of the World – even those centred on God. They claim credit for them. God will be exalted in the day of the Lord. God will be God.

CHAPTER 3. The leaders are responsible for the state of affairs. God will deal with them harshly. They should have known better. The women will be judged for their concern for appearance of the body rather than spiritual perfection. Each nation, Church and man is responsible to God. As they have done to others, so it will be done to them. Isaiah mentions a range of people who will suffer under judgement. Society will break down and chaos will ensue, if God removes His grace. Life loses its meaning both at a personal and national level. The people will have inexperienced leaders, adding to their problems. Britain is seeing grace evaporate as society collapses. Sin at the heart of the nation causes corruption. A man reaps what he has sown. Shame and disgrace will be the normal. Things have to reach a low ebb before a man will see how hopeless he is at managing his own affairs. Israel’s civil government will be in sin. The leaders come in for great criticism. v 16. There are strong words against personal appearance – clothes and physical appearance. All this will be stripped away.

CHAPTER 4. The promise is given of salvation. There is a very clear contrast with chapter 3. The whole nation will be purified. He will signify His presence as He did in the desert, with a cloud by day and a flame by night. Ex ch 13 v 21. The Branch is the name for the Messiah. Often in Isaiah there is a promise of better times. There will be a time of death for a large number of men. There will be more women than men. What more could God have done? Isaiah presents a logical argument. He explains the metaphor.

CHAPTER 5. The Jewish nation is the vineyard of God. God reasons with the people. “What more could I have done?” What more could God have done for man? He provided a saviour, the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit. That is as far as God can go. He has given man all that He has. There was no answer. If God removes His grace, look out. God expected so much and yet received so little. It is the same today. Rejection of God brings judgement.
There are several woes against:
1. Covetousness – selfish greed, especially by the rich.
2. Drunkenness – self-indulgence or lack of self-control.
3. Carelessness – materialism. Those who speak flippantly of the Lord and His offer of salvation.
4. Deception – immorality. Moral stability is destroyed by new definitions of sin.
5. Pride – self-sufficiency. People make decisions based on their own wisdom.
6. Injustice – bribery of the judges and leaders.

God will punish them by using other nations. There is a clear call to repentance. If not, there will be judgement, but God prefers repentance. Without God ruin will follow. The land has lain in ruin, proving the point. Arrogance and pride are the worst sins. v 21. There is a pathetic picture of a Godless World. The people will be taken into captivity for their sins.

It elaborates on Chapter 1. Everyone is wrong. It is easy for a man to see that and not see his own faults. Be careful not to fall into that category. However, there was cause for deep concern over the nation – careless use of Scripture or spiritual truth. Pride. Judges ch 21 v 25. Everyone did what he thought was right in his own eyes. Sheol is the shadowy World of the dead. What happened was not clearly known until Jesus rose and proved the resurrection of the body. God often uses the vineyard as an illustration of Israel. God had greatly blessed the land and the people. It sounds good, like a love song, but then the true meaning is disclosed. Nathan caught David in the same way. “You are that vineyard.” It brings home the indefensibility of sin. There is nothing good to be said about it.
There are 6 charges on the indictment – serious crime. It brings the charge to a climax. It all seems remote. How do you speak out? God expects much from His children today. Is there bribery in society? It is difficult to prove. Masonic handshakes?
Charge 1. v 8. The property law is a dead letter. In Israel God owned all the property and the true Jew only tenanted it. That principle had been usurped. A second house for investment leaves another person without a home.
Charge 2. v 11. Men go out drinking.
Charge 3. v 12. The people have become slaves to their appetite for pleasure.
Charge 4. v 15. The people have become proud.
Charge 5. v 18. Bondage awaits those who surrender to sin. They do not think about anything serious, such as God’s work. They do not lay up treasures in Heaven. They declare right what is wrong.
Charge 6. v 21. The people rely on human wisdom and do not look for God’s wisdom as Solomon did.

The charges are designed to be a warning to peoples of all ages. The judgement is awesome. Britain has been warned of the consequences of its sinful ways. v 24. They have despised the Word of God.

CHAPTER 6. Isaiah has a vision of God and it presents a picture of the holiness of God. Man needs to be back in touch with his Creator. Anyone who is to do anything worthwhile for the Lord needs a clear vision of God, so that he can be absolutely sure. This vision sustained Isaiah throughout his life. He saw the need for a vision to direct his life’s work. The central theme of the holiness of God is stated. Isaiah will speak but the people will not listen. They will look and not see. God is not stopping them from repenting. He is merely stating that He knows that they will not repent. Even so Israel has a future. There is a stump from which life will spring again one day. Either Isaiah saw God and realised his own position before God and then criticised others or else he was a religious critic who found himself on his knees before God. Isaiah knew that he needed cleansing. Israel will not die, despite the constant invasion of Romans, Muslims, Turks and British.

Did chapter 6 follow the first 5 chapters or did it happen first and lead to chapters 1-5? It is dangerous to assume that the chapters are chronological. Did he meet God and then could not keep silent, or was he a religious critic, until he realised that he too was a sinner?
1. All the prophets had a vision from the Lord before their ministry started – Moses, Ezekiel, Jeremiah. They had to be absolutely sure. Their whole life was at stake.
3. The seraphim. A peep into the spiritual World. Spiritual beings. There is so much man does not know. Man knows all that is necessary for salvation. Was Isaiah in the Temple at the time? Uzziah had been a great king for over 50 years. He died a leper. Perhaps there was concern at his death. Isaiah was reassured that God was still on His throne. When the outlook is bleak, try the up-look.
4. Isaiah was aware of sin. He needed to be forgiven. The coals were from the altar, where the burnt offerings had been sacrificed.
5. Strange that Isaiah will speak and people will not really hear him. Like Pharaoh, God did not stop them hearing but foreknew that they would not respond. The more Isaiah spoke, the more the listeners refused to listen, the harder their hearts became. They were spiritually blind. The test of ministry is not outward success but faithfulness to the Lord. “Go and tell” is still God’s command. Six times these verses are quoted in the New Testament.
6. The stump is Jesus. The theme of the remnant runs throughout Scriptures. Israel will not die despite many invaders. How long O Lord? This is a rather abrupt question, but an honest one. When will things get better? The nation may lose its sensitivity to God, but like a tree, which sheds its leaves, there will be spring and the nation will arise again. A small group of people praying will preserve the nation.
7. “Send me.” How often had that word of God been used to prompt someone to respond to God?

2 Chronicles ch 26 tells of Uzziah’s life. Like Saul, he overstepped his position and assumed the role of the priest. Anger brought forth physical disease. When things are unstable on Earth, they are stable in Heaven. There is a limit as to what one man can do. Each man should hold onto his initial experience of God. Isaiah was told that dark days were coming. No one was listening to him. But there was a shaft of light at the end of a long time and Isaiah saw the coming of the Messiah.

CHAPTER 7. God is in control of the events of the World. Isaiah addresses the political needs of the people. Man should know that fact and act on that knowledge. On a personal level people will gang up on a believer and the believer should not be afraid. He should know that his Father is in control and will not let anything happen, which is not ultimately for his good. God invites a man to serve Him. However, if a believer declines, God will use someone else. The believer will lose out but God’s purpose will not be frustrated. Ahaz was playing power politics instead of trusting in God. A man can easily be guilty of that. A man wants others to endorse his sins. All that matters is that God endorses his actions. In the crisis Ahaz turned to Assyria for help and not to God. Ahaz could have been the one to give the sign. He chose not to and God did it another way. God will give Israel a sign that He cares for them and that He will send the Messiah. After that time Israel will suffer as never before. The destruction of Jerusalem in A. D. 70 is foretold. Desolation will cover the land. The young woman is the type. The Virgin Mary is the anti-type. Matthew quotes v 14 in Mat ch 1 v 23. The sign seems to have both a present and a future significance. It was a literal and near prophecy as well as the distant one centering of Jesus.

CHAPTER 8. Isaiah is advised to write down what God has said to him so that it can be passed on to future generations. It is vital to have reliable witnesses. God reveals the future to those who trust Him. Look to God for the future and not to the occult – mediums and wizards. Those who turn to the occult will be led away into darkness. The waters of Shiloah represent the quietness of God’s reign in contrast to the turbulent waters of the Euphrates representing the reign of Assyria. There are three warnings against trusting Assyria and not the Lord. v 19. Instead of turning to God for wisdom, the people consulted demons. The Northern Kingdom of Israel will be swept away.

CHAPTER 9. Out of darkness light will come again. There is the promise of the Messiah. There will be great days for Israel again. God will release them from bondage again, as He did in Egypt and by Gideon. Jesus will be the King of Israel. God will punish Israel for the sin of the people for not listening to God and for trying to act in their own strength. If man goes it alone, he is heading for trouble. The leaders come in for special judgement for leading the people astray. Pride was the cause of the downfall of Israel.

God is angry at injustice. Are there aspects of life, which make a man angry? The Syrians would overrun the land. The people should have asked: “Why is God allowing this to happen to us?” The tsunami in 2005? The people were proud of their property. When the rulers of the land no longer look to God for advice and guidance their policies are driven by greed and selfish ambition. The people end up fighting amongst themselves. The hand of God was raised against the people. Tyrants always speak of “Me.” God always ensures that there is a remnant of people who will worship Him and serve Him.

As the true spiritual light of the World is slowly extinguished people turn to artificial lights to lighten up their World. Shepherds were not trusted to give evidence in a Jewish court of law but God trusted them to be His witnesses. Names were given to people to speak of what they can become – saviour of the World. The people went to the King – like Solomon – for advice and counsel. Jesus would be the great King to counsel the people.
2 Kings ch 16 v 10-19. Ahaz made alterations to the form of worship by accommodating the King of Assyria. The priest in charge did not challenge the King’s instructions. No politician is entitled to alter the Word of God to accommodate his own views. The Church should challenge any attempt to do so.
v 9. If you will not stand, you will not stand at all. Ahaz compromised and could not stand firm. The people were trusting in political alliances and not in God. Ahaz was not a good king. The name of Isaiah’s son means “a remnant will return.” The enemy planned to tear Israel apart.
v 10. Ahaz refused the invitation from God to receive a Word from God.

CHAPTER 10. God uses or allows the enemy to serve His purposes and to be an instrument of punishment. Assyria was a proud and cruel nation. These people have no freedom from guilt. The enemies must harm the people. God lets them rather than restrains them. So they are guilty. In time He will justly punish them. It is all grace. The axe cannot tell the wielder how to use it nor can the axe operate without the wielder. There is always a remnant of Jewish people who will trust in God. God will deal with Israel’s enemies. From v 20 on Isaiah sees a restoration to the land for Israel.

CHAPTER 11. This contains another promise of the Messiah. Isaiah has a picture of Paradise restored, when the lion will lie down with the lamb. The Messiah is the only one to make this possible. Only God can restore mankind to a sinless condition. As part of the restoration the Messiah will gather His people from the ends of the Earth and lead them back into the land, restoring them to Himself as their King. God saves and God alone.

Chapter 6 v 6 finished with the theme of a stump. The idea is symbolic of life continuing in the stump, even when it looks as if the tree is dead. By 1948 the idea of the nation of Israel being a possibility had long since died. The nation had been uprooted in A. D. 70. Yet in 1948 the nation rose again. Jesus is intertwined with the nation as the servant of the Lord, through whom He fulfils His purpose. Sometimes it is the person of Jesus. Sometimes it is the nation of Israel.
v 6-9. Utopia. It has always been the dream of man to have a sinless World. Nature will be back in harmony when sin is at an end. The curse in Gen ch 3 v 14 is at an end. Is it literal or symbolic?
v 10. In that day. In what day?
v 11. The first time the people came back, it was from Babylon. When was the second time? On 14th May 1948 the State of Israel was founded. The Jews returned from over 90 countries. Acts ch 1 v 6. “When will you restore the Kingdom to Israel?” The answer was: “It is not for you to know yet. Meantime get on with the task of spreading the Gospel.”
The theme of return and restoration occurs throughout the book like a recurring theme in a symphony. A new exodus will eclipse the original one.
v 12. An ensign. Israel today. Is it a flag? The national flag of Israel? Zechariah ch 10 v 6-12. There are many other references.
v 13. Ezekiel ch 37 v 15-28.
v 14. P. L. O. It has been acted out before the World in the 20th century. The Occupied (disputed) Territories. The theme of return and restoration occurs throughout the book like a recurring theme in a symphony. There is to be an exodus like there was from Egypt. A new exodus will eclipse the original one.

CHAPTER 12. Salvation should lead to praise. Thank God for His goodness to the nation and to the individual. God lives among His people. The day will come when Israel will proclaim the Messiah to all the nations.
v 2. It is clearly one man. Ruth – Obed – Jessie – David – Jesus. The King of Israel. v 2-3. Fear of the Lord means reverence for the Lord and not being afraid. Proverbs ch 1 v 7.
v 3. John ch 2 v 25. Jesus knew. v 4. 2 Thes ch 2 v 5. Ephesians. Jesus wore the armour of the Lord. Righteousness and faithfulness.

CHAPTER 13. Isaiah has a vision of the destruction of Babylon, similar to that in Jeremiah ch 50. It appears to be for the twenty first century, since nations from far away come against Babylon – Iraq. God uses the proud nations as His instrument of punishment. The sky will be black above Babylon. There will be no light from the sun, the moon and the stars. The wicked will be destroyed for their arrogance. Babylon’s armies will flee back to their own land. Babylon will be utterly destroyed, like Sodom and Gomorrah, Babylon is symbolic of those who reject God and are their own gods. God is the God of all the nations, and not just Israel. Satyrs are demons of desert places.

ISAIAH ch 13-23. Prophets spoke at a time of change in the political, moral and financial situation in the region. There was instability in the Middle East. Forces around believers (humanism) challenge them to change their thinking. The Word from God is essential at that time. These chapters address the nations around Israel and include God’s word for Jerusalem.

CHAPTER 14. There is the promise of a second return to the land. The United Nations would be the instrument of the return of the Jews to the land. God uses non-believers to accomplish His purposes and to help His chosen ones. The enemies of God will acknowledge that He is still in control and is mighty to do as He chooses. Satan will be defeated – even though at times he appears to be winning. Satan will be humiliated and brought low. The King of Babylon is pictured as Satan, who will be cut off in the same manner. There is a warning against the Philistines (Palestinians.) Israel will rule over those who once ruled over her. e. g. the Palestinian Arabs. Israel is encouraged to taunt Babylon who sought to make herself as gods, like Babel of old. The same spirit rules over the people in Iraq and has the same design – to be as God. The Assyrians and the Philistines also come in for a prophecy of destruction.

Isaiah chapters 15-40

ISAIAH.

Chapter 12 is followed by a word of judgment against the nations around Israel. While these are countries, which are now fairly insignificant, they represented in the days of Isaiah the whole of the known World and as such speak to the whole World today. Babylon, Assyria, Philistia, Moab, Samaria, Ethiopia, Egypt, Edom, Arabia and Tyre. This culminates in the judgment of the whole World in Isaiah chapter 24. Now for a refreshing change – praise to the Lord. Britain is the 23rd empire to go into decline. God raises up nations and empires and tears them down again. In times of trouble God is a refuge. Believers are not immune from troubles but can go to God during such times. A rock is a place of refuge in the desert.
v 6. Salvation is still to come for Jerusalem. The best possible news for mankind is that death has been defeated and need not dominate man’s thinking. Death will be swallowed up and be no more. On the mountains of Jerusalem, Jesus the Messiah will destroy death. Rev ch 7 v 17. Rev ch 21. A feast is synonymous with a celebration. It was also the picture of the Kingdom Age when the Messiah would reign over Israel. Mat ch 8 v 11 and Luke ch 13 v 28-29.

In that day again. When? Maob is used as a symbol of the enemy of Israel. All man’s enemies will be defeated including death. High walls of Moab were evidence of their self-sufficiency. They were proud people who did not need God. They were a byword for pride. Luke ch 5 v 32. Those who think that they are good enough have no need of a saviour. God cares for His own in times of trial and judgment. Noah. Is a believer in fellowship with support when the time comes or is he on his own and very vulnerable?

CHAPTER 15. There is a warning about the destruction of Moab.

CHAPTER 16. In a short time Moab will be no more.

CHAPTER 17. Damascus will be destroyed by neighbouring people. The Northern Kingdom of Israel will go down with her. The two have been in alliance for some time. Is the destruction of Damascus happening in 2013?

CHAPTER 18. Ethiopia is in the hands of God. He will deal with that land also. At that time Ethiopia was at the ends of the Earth. The known World did not extend further than Ethiopia.

CHAPTER 19. Egypt faces a difficult time. There will be civil war. The River Nile is the life-blood of the nation. National life depends on the flooding of the Nile annually. v 5 may be literal or symbolic. If the droughts continue in Ethiopia the waters of the Nile will dry up. Ethiopia is building a dam on the River Nile. This might interfere with the flow of water to Egypt. If Kenya takes too much water out of the upper reaches it will also dry up. The Canaanite god Baal was described as the rider of the clouds. He was the god of fertility. But it is God who provides. He sends the rain to water the land. From verse 19 to the end there is held out the promise of a conversion in Egypt in the end times. God is still the God of the Egyptians – as He is of all the nations.

CHAPTER 20. Assyria will conquer Egypt and Ethiopia. Isaiah walks about naked to live out the prophecy against these countries. Judah had gone to Egypt and Ethiopia for help as allies but they were no use to them. Judah should have looked to God as their help in troubled times.

CHAPTER 21. This prophesies the downfall of Babylon by the Medes and Persians at the time of Belshazzar’s feast.

CHAPTER 22. Jerusalem cannot take comfort from the other nations coming under judgement by God. They too are under His watchful eye. God will remove the present leader Shebna and replace him with Eliakim. He was a type of Christ. The key was the symbol of royal authority. God it is who raises up leaders and removes them when He chooses.

CHAPTER 23. Tyre was the great trading port on the Mediterranean Sea. It is in the same category as Ezekiel’s denunciation of Tyre. Tyre will suffer a decline for 70 years as a punishment for her sins. Man should be a channel for God’s blessing and should not hoard them and keep them to himself. Tyre had been guilty of hoarding the merchandise. Alexander the Great sacked Tyre.

CHAPTERS 24-26. These chapters are to be read together. Up to this point Isaiah has been dealing with the surrounding nations. Now he turns his attention to the whole World. Ch 24 is a little apocalypse. Man is destroying his own World. Pollution is being carried out by the people of the World in the physical, moral and spiritual areas. God can renew the whole Earth and remove the gloom. Things will get worse. “You have been forgiven. Therefore forgive others. You have been helped. Therefore help others. You have been cared for. Therefore care for others.” There will be a time of tribulation such as the World has never known. A believer should make sure that he is covered by the blood of the Lamb slain at Calvary. That is the only protection from the destruction to come. A revived and restored Israel should convince a lost World that God is not dead and that He keeps His promises. The unjust shedding of blood pollutes the land. Num ch 35 v 29-34.

CHAPTER 26. The key for a believer to being at peace with God is to let his thoughts regularly turn to Him and to be aware of His grace. Is the mind of a believer stayed on God? v 9. My soul yearns for God. Judgement is designed to lead mankind to righteousness. There can be no true peace with God without holiness, because sin separates man from God, including believers. Shalom means wholeness, health, quietness of soul, preservation and completeness and it includes salvation.
Salvation is open to the whole World. It was always God’s intention to use the Jewish people to spread His message of salvation to the whole World. Most people put off worshipping God and gradually their hearts become harder until they cannot do it. At the moment death swallows up people. There will come a day when death will be swallowed up forever.

v 10-14. Persistent wrongdoers are doomed. See how those Christians love one another. That might put the wicked to shame. It is all grace from beginning to end. When salvation comes to Israel (and to an individual) there is a realisation of the extent of grace. Things they thought they had done, they find were done for them by the Lord. God has destroyed the false gods. Does a believer appreciate that his salvation was at the instigation of the Lord. God took the initiative. He gave faith to believe in Him. God has shown His love for His people in bringing them back to their own land. Has it challenged the people of the World? There will be a time of testing. Will a believer stand firm during the hard times? v 3. Perfect peace is the word “shalom” – wholeness and salvation. Jesus left the Disciples His peace.
v 17-18. Isaiah realised that the nation had not fulfilled its purpose – to bring salvation to the World. The nations had not seen the glory of God revealed in His people.
v 19 refers to life after death. There are few references to life after death in the Old Testament. Dan ch 12 v 2 is another reference.
v 20 The wrath of God is coming to the Earth. Rest in Him. Take shelter from God’s wrath. Ex ch 12.
v 22. The Passover experience.

CHAPTER 27 presents the usual contrast between the judgement of the unbelievers and the prosperity of the believers. Unbelievers are held in bondage by Satan and led to worship false gods through their superstitious religions. Israel has been seen previously as a vineyard. God has used suffering to purge Israel of their sins. They are being brought into a place of submission to God. Gen ch 12 v 1-3.

v 12-13. Trumpets called the people to the Day of Atonement. Despite all the failures and disappointments, God has not yet finished with His people and there is a glorious day sometime in the future. Could it be soon? Countries, which are now fairly insignificant, they represented in the days of Isaiah the whole of the known World and as such speak to the whole World today. In times of the Kingdom Age when the Messiah would reign over Israel. Mat ch 8 v 11 and Luke ch 13 v 28-29. In that day again. When? Maob is used as a symbol of the enemy of Israel. All a man’s enemies will be defeated including death. High walls of Moab were evidence of their self-sufficiency. They were proud people who claimed that they did not need God. They were a byword for pride. Luke ch 5 v 32. Those who think that they are good enough have no need of a saviour. God cares for His own people in times of trial.

CHAPTERS 27-28.
v 1. The beast from the sea. The reference to sea means the nations. A beast will arise from the nations when they are in turmoil. The words “that day” refers both to the time of the return from Babylon and the last days of planet Earth. Despite the turmoil there will be singing by the people of God as they see their redemption drawing near. There was a problem with alcohol at the time – there is nothing new under Heaven. The people scoffed at Isaiah’s words from God. The people had believed a lie. They had exchanged the truth for a lie. v 20. There would be no comfort for the people. The bed was too short and the blanket too narrow. Religion does not meet the deep needs of the people.
v 23-29. The farmer ploughs to provide bread to sustain life. As man makes bread to meet physical needs, so God provides spiritual food to nourish the soul.

CHAPTERS 29-30.
Isaiah was addressing the spiritual blindness of the people. It was similar to a drunken stupor. Tell a drunk man that his house is on fire and he cannot take it in. Tell a man that he is going to Hell and he cannot take it in. A man can understand the most complicated matters, like computers and betting procedures but cannot understand the Bible. v 13. There was religious formalism and the hearts of the people were far away from God. The leaders were blind. Their faith was superficial. Ariel was a name for Jerusalem – it was a place of sacrifice. Men thought that God did not see them away from the place of worship. v 17f offers a ray of hope. The deaf will hear, the blind will see and the spiritually hungry will be fed spiritual food.
v 30. The people just did not want to hear about God any more. They made deals with the World. They worshipped the false gods of the Babylonian Mysteries.
Isaiah mentioned the plumb line – like Amos. The cavity between the walls of the city was filled with rubbish. It heated up and expanded putting pressure on the walls and causing a bulge in the walls. Moral rubbish in a man’s life will lead to his downfall sooner or later.

CHAPTERS 31-32.
The Israelites looked to Egypt for help. The equivalent today is materialism. More possessions will not make people happy or solve their problems. “Preach a nice message to us.” “You shall be as gods.” This appeals to people today. There is no question of having to deal with sin. The wall had collapsed. There are consequences for sin. The British nation is spiritually bankrupt. It is ripe for collapse and judgment. The cry is for freedom and the people have ended up in debt. Ch 30 v 33 is the first mention in Isaiah of Hell.

CHAPTERS 32 and 33.
Isaiah tells the people that all is not well. When people think all is well the word from God is “Look out.” When fear rules over the people the word is of comfort and re-assurance. God goes in the opposite spirit to the minds of the people. There is a desire for a righteous and just ruler. One day there will be. Corrupt leaders are respected and supported, filling their fallen minds that they are doing the right thing. Sin loves a companion. There was then and there is now both bribery and corruption. God challenged the women to stand up and challenge the men. Ch 32 v 15. The Holy Spirit will be poured out and the desert will blossom and peace will rule. When righteousness breaks out then peace follows.

CHAPTER 34. This is about judgement. It was not God’s intention to have deserts but sin caused them.

CHAPTER 35. Now there is a picture of a time of blessing for Israel.

CHAPTERS 36-39. Hezekiah features in God’s dealing with him.

CHAPTER 40. God’s anger does not last forever. The word “comfort” means to fortify or strengthen. The Holy Spirit comes to strengthen and fortify a believer. At the same time God speaks tenderly to His children. For Israel the punishment in Babylon was over. God was coming to His people again. Men of fame will soon disappear but the Word of God stands forever. v 12-15. Man had nothing to teach God and is in no position to give God advice. While the nations are like a drop in the ocean Israel is special to the Lord.

Isaiah chapters 41-66

ISAIAH.

The theme of the book is the salvation and deliverance of the Lord. There are five recurring themes. They break through the writings like a refrain in a symphony. Every so often the reader recognises that the theme of salvation is appearing once again. There are five clear strands to the theme of salvation and five specific acts of deliverance, which God would perform. The name Isaiah means salvation.
1. Deliverance of Judah from the Assyrian invasion. Chs 36-37.
2. Deliverance of the nation from Babylonian captivity. Ch 40.
3. Deliverance of the Jews from Worldwide dispersion. Chs 11-12.
4. Deliverance of lost sinners from judgement. Ch 53.
5. Deliverance of creation from the bondage of sin. Chs 60, 66.

The book is about the grace of God. It is almost all in poetry. His message is one to bring comfort to his readers. The book falls into three parts.
Part 1 gives the reasons for impending judgement and the captivity of Israel.
Part 2 deals with the Lord’s intervention and deliverance of Israel.
Part 3 centres on the theme of the suffering servant and ends with the promise of blessing and the assurance of a glorious restoration.

Chapter 40 is the start of a new section. Isaiah tells his readers to get their eyes off themselves and to behold their God. v 9. God is greater than their circumstances. Looking to the past, the people saw only sin and defeat – captivity and what might have been. Circumstances are those nasty things a man sees when he takes his eyes off God. God wants to comfort His people. v 21. Ignorance of God is self-inflicted. As for Israel, they were to be different. Their calling to is to serve God alone and not false gods. God will defend them. There is a similarity with the hedge around the vineyard. The physical enemies of a man give a picture of his spiritual enemies. If a man lives a holy life, he will not be ravaged with the enemies of physical illness, financial ruin and moral decadence. God wanted His people Israel to be a holy nation revealing His holiness to the peoples around who worshipped false gods. All this is despite their sins in the past.

v 9 seems to suggest a time in the future, when it speaks of taking them from the ends of the Earth. 1948? The restoration of Israel is so that men will see and know that God is on His throne.
v 11. If God is for His people, who shall prevail against them?
v 17. “I shall never leave them or forsake them.” If God ever did forsake them it would throw into doubt the promise of Jesus and every other promise God has made. The worm is a term of compassion and love. A worm is not to be despised but is a helpless creature at the mercy of anyone who tramples on it. God will protect Israel.
v 20. Actually Cyrus is also a servant of the Lord, even though he did not know God. ch 40 v 23. v 23-24 is in the same category as Revelation and Daniel chapter 2 v 21. God raises up leaders for His purposes and brings them to nothing again. God used Cyrus to let the Jews return to the land. Isaiah ch 45 v 13 is about providence and not fate. The difference is that God is in control. What about all the dictators in the World today? Are they in power with the permission of God? Could He remove them today? Do the people get the leaders they deserve? Psalm 2 v 1-4.
v 21. God is prepared to stand comparison with any false god and challenges the other peoples to compare what He has done for His people with what the false gods have done for their people. Consider Israel today, with the wilderness being turned into fertile land, the rains returning and prosperity and security against the other nations of the World. Israel is a democracy with no civil war. Israel welcomes peoples regardless of the colour of their skin and refugees are finding Israel a home.
v 26. Consider the accuracy of prophecy. There are over 800 prophecies most of which have already been fulfilled with 100% accuracy. The courtroom scene returns. Look, they are all false.
v 31. A waiter seeks to serve and meet the desires of the customer. Believers are those who wait on God.

CHAPTERS 41 and 42. God challenges the people to argue their case against Him. v 1. The Court is ready to hear what He has to say. At verse 8 of chapter 41 it is clearly the nation of Israel who is the servant of the Lord. By chapter 42 it is clearly one person. The role of the servant is to bring salvation to the Earth – to restore the relationship between God and His created ones. Those who follow Jesus are also the servants of the Lord. The term “servant” is an honourable one, used of Moses, David, Samuel and Jesus.

There is a contrast between the people of God and the non-believers. In verses 1-7 the World is pictured responding to a dangerous situation. The primary World figure in the first 39 chapters of Isaiah is Sannacherib, ruler of Assyria. In the remaining chapters from 40-66 the primary figure is Cyrus, King of Persia. Isaiah called Cyrus by name over 100 years before he was born. He was the rising star on the political stage. Cyrus is threatening a new campaign. He is likely to overrun other nations. Panic has sets in and the people do two things. They prepare to hang on to what they have and they turn to idols. Verses 6-7 are satire, describing workmen helping one another build an idol, which is useless. When recession threatens in the land do people seek to hang on to what they have and look to horoscopes to protect themselves against the threat?

CHAPTER 42. There are 4 servant songs in Isaiah referring to the Messiah. The others are chapter 49 v 1-6, chapter 50 v 1-11 and chapter 52 v 13-ch 53 v 12. Clearly this refers to a single person and not the nation. Matthew confirms that in ch 12 v 15-21. The Holy Spirit would be upon Jesus. Mat ch 17 v 5. Just as God chose Israel at Sinai, so He chose Jesus when He asked Him to leave the realms of glory and live upon the Earth. The purpose was the same – to reveal justice to the nations. Mat ch 6 v 33. Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. God is interested in justice and truth and righteousness.

v 5-9. God gives man breath to breathe. Jesus must have read these verses before He spoke in the synagogue at Nazareth in Luke ch 4 v 16-30. “You will reject me,“ said Jesus. And they did. How does a man react if a person claims that God has spoken through that man. Is he pleased or jealous? Does he take umbrage because God has chosen that man and not him? God is telling the people through Isaiah about a new thing He is going to do – send the Messiah. The people in prison. Are they literally in prison or held captive by the enemy? Is this to be the day when the blindness over Israel is lifted? God will not forsake His people. The emphasis has turned back to the nation as God’s servant. Those who worship idols will be put to shame.
v 10-13. A command to sing praise to God. Exodus ch 15 v 3.
v 14. Why is God so patient? In v 16 are the blind spiritually blind or physically blind? God guides spiritually blind people to receive salvation.
v 18-20. This also speaks to God’s own adopted children. Are they blind to spiritual attacks? Do they recognise the enemy and fight in spiritual warfare to overcome him? Do they accept illness and suffering and are they overcome by the circumstances of life? Are they guilty of hearing but not listening? This passage obviously does not refer to Jesus. Ezekiel ch 12 v 2. The people knew about God but did not obey Him – they were rebellious. Jeremiah ch 6 v 10. God anguishes over Israel. If only they would have grasped what God wanted of them. Does that apply to believers today? Are they blind to spiritual powers and principalities? Dyslexia. Migraine? Are they demonic? A man tends to look for a physical or psychological explanation first. Mental health. Some are too depressed to turn up. Blessed is the man whose thoughts often turn to God.
v 22-25. Why are believers in a mess? Believers without the power of God are a sorry sight, with nothing to say to the taunts of the World. A Church without the Holy Spirit is just a collection of rather ungifted people. They have no worthwhile comments to make on the political, moral and spiritual issues confronting the nation. When the people of God sinned against Him, He let them go into captivity. Why did He do this? He did it so that they might repent. Are the Churches in disarray today? Why is this? It is because of sin. What should be done? Repentance. Agree with God that they have rebelled against Him and start to put it right now. People knew about God but did not obey Him – they were rebellious. Jeremiah ch 6 v 10.
v 23. Is there just one who sees what is happening? The Jews and believers without God are a poor sight. It must have been difficult for Isaiah to envisage that the role of the servant would be to bring salvation to the ends of the Earth. The ends of the Earth at that time were Gibraltar, Ethiopia, the Caucasus and India. God had a bigger plan in mind. These verses are used to challenge missionaries to go to the ends of the Earth.

CHAPTER 43 v 1-13. This contains the theme of the redeemer – Boaz redeemed Ruth. Mat ch 20 v 28. Jesus was a ransom for many. Jesus and the Jewish people are bound up with one another. v 1. “I have redeemed you.” God gave Egypt, Ethiopia and Cush to Cyrus in order to get Israel free. Others died that Israel might live. Is there a problem with justice? Or is it a case of mercy. If a man demands justice, he gets Hell. If he demands mercy, he gets Heaven.
v 3. “When you walk through the fire.”… Did Daniel’s three friends hear this word from the Lord when they chose to go into the fiery furnace and knew that they would survive? It was faith, which saved them. Deut ch 31 v 6. There was a promise that God would not forsake them.
v 4 implies that Jesus has not changed the nation in His lifetime. Yet He has done what God required of Him and He will leave the matter to His Father.
v 6 confirms that God has a greater plan than to use Jesus to bring the nation of Israel back to God. He will bring the whole World to God. v 7. Kings and Princes would bow before Jesus. Psalm 22.
v 7. God created them for His glory. Eph ch 2 v 10. Believers are the workmanship of God for His glory.
v 18 promises even greater things in the future. God will walk the Earth with His people. Then the chosen people will fulfill their mission after all the centuries. God will do it. He has said so.
The theme of the servant King and redeemer comes again in chapter 49 v 1-7. Matthew ch 1 v 20-21. Jesus was named while still in the womb. Heb ch 4 v 12. The Word of God is sharper than a two-edged sword.

CHAPTER 44. A man still own his house even if he has rented it out and is living elsewhere. Israel belongs to the Jewish people. God chose Cyrus. Non-believers are instruments of God’s common grace. Even when the future looks bleak God has a plan for the future.

CHAPTER 45 v 22. This is the gospel to the nations. Isaiah said: “Watch for Cyrus and then something will happen.”

CHAPTERS 49-50. 40 years after Jerusalem came under Jewish rule in 1967 the Abortion Act was introduced in britain. Forty is a time of judgement and testing. v 1. God knew the child while it was in the womb. Israel had not sunk so low that God was unable to reach her unless like in Nahum ch 3 v 19 He has said so. God can break through statistics.

CHAPTER 50 v 1-11.
Jesus Himself quoted verses 1-2 as applying to Himself. They refer to Jesus. So they are prophetic verses, like ch 11 v 2 and ch 42 v 6-9. Who are the poor? Jesus did say that man would always have the poor with him. In the Beatitudes – Mt ch 5 – Jesus referred to the poor in spirit. The word “poor” is also said to be the afflicted and the suffering. Are the broken-hearted those suffering from disasters or those who recognise that their hearts have to be broken and cleansed? Liberty to the captives. Does this refer to people in prison or those in spiritual bondage, i.e. depressed, possessed and controlled by demonic beings? Jesus recognised that there would be a day – the year of the Lord – when God would intervene in human history. That happened when Jesus walked the Earth. That is why Jesus stood up and said in effect: “Here I am.” He stopped at the end of line 1 of verse 2. The day of vengeance would come when Jesus returns again to Earth a second time.

CHAPTER 52. It is all about grace. God does not want His children to die in slavery. He does not want people to die broken-hearted. Satan wants to keep people in bondage. Jesus came to set the people free. The feet of a man carries his mouth to where it is needed.
v 11 is a word of warning. Sin no more.
v 12. God escorted His people guarding them from behind and goes in front of them.

CHAPTER 53 is quoted or alluded to in the New Testament more frequently than any other Old Testament chapter. People did not desire or admire the Servant. People were shocked at His appearance. He was slapped by an officer. He was spat upon, slapped and beaten on the head with fists. He was beaten by the soldiers. Scourging was so terrible that prisoners often died. At least 39 lashes. Pieces of bone or metal tore into the flesh. His beard was pulled out. At the end of all that He hardly looked human. They were shocked at how He looked. They turned their faces away. That should have been done to Barrabas – and to every man. The Gospel is not that Christ died an appalling death but that He took man’s place. That is what each man deserves. Each man is as guilty of Jesus’ death as Annas, Herod, Pilate, and Caiaphas. At that people were speechless. Psalm 22 v 6-8. The root out of dry ground is an image of humiliation and weakness. Isaiah ch 11 v 1. Romans ch 10 v 16 and Mat ch 8 v 17 quote Isaiah ch 53.

No longer is God hidden from man. “He who has seen me has seen the Father. We are two of a kind.” Death – the last enemy – has been defeated. There was nothing physically attractive about Jesus. Nothing is known about His physical appearance.

While few people try to be unattractive, modern society has made a religion out of physical beauty. Jesus succeeded without it. The people treated Jesus like any other slave. They despised Him, put a cheap price on Him and were ashamed of Him because He did not represent the things, which were important to them like wealth, social prestige, reputation, being served by others, and pampering themselves. He is rejected today for the same reasons. “Were you there when they crucified our Lord?” Yes. Those who were there were representatives of mankind. Sin is serious. It is transgression, rebellion against God. It is iniquity. Man is a sinner by nature and by choice. Man is born a sinner and he freely disobeys, even as a believer. Parents require to teach their children to walk and to talk. However, there is no need to teach them to lie or to steal. That comes naturally.

A servant is not allowed to talk back, but must remain silent. Everything about the trial was illegal. Yet Jesus did not appeal for a retrial. The burial is proof that He actually died. The death of Jesus was not an accident nor was He a martyr. He chose to die. He knew all about it from His early youth – exactly how it would happen, and then He arranged it. To die childless was a source of shame to a Jewish person. Jesus gave birth to a spiritual family. The death of the servant also satisfied the Law of God. Propitiation. It was known that to satisfy an angry God it was necessary to make a sacrifice. Sin makes God angry. In His holiness, God must judge sinners. In His love, He desires to forgive them.

CHAPTER 54 speaks of the restoration for Israel. Chapter 55 is an invitation to the Gentiles, who are also included in the plan of God. Jerusalem will be the centre of worship in the World, with the Jews and the other nations meeting together.

Man is to be an oak of righteousness. Watch out for fungus attacking the oak trees. The purpose is to give glory to God. Psalm 1 v 1-3. In the power of God and knowing what he knows, man should sort things out. Rebuild the ancient ruins – Churches. The prophet has moved on to the distant future. The message is that the Children of Israel will rebuild the waste places of Israel. Ezekiel ch 36 v 33-38. Isaiah ch 60 v 10. Foreigners will help to restore the land – e.g. working in Kibbutzims. Sending money to help the Aliyah – returning Jews from all over the World. No longer will the Jews be despised among the nations of the World. They will be respected and revered. They have their own nation. They will live in their own land. They are the fourth largest military power in the World. They have inflicted defeat on their immediate enemies on several occasions. This could not refer to believers, but clearly refers to a nation. God sets the boundaries of the nations and judges the nations. Here is Israel once again a nation before God and witnessing to the other nations as to how to conduct their affairs.

When that day comes, remember that the Lord loves justice and hates oppression. God will make a new covenant with the House of Israel as a people. Jeremiah ch 31 v 31. Israel has suffered for her involvement with God. But have they failed any more than any other nation, which has been blessed by God? Some will be priests of the Lord. Ch 66 v 21. God will make up for the years the locust have eaten. Joel. Ch 2 v 25. Zechariah ch 9 v 12. They will have a double portion.

Jerusalem. v 10-11. Jeremiah ch 31 v 38-40 also speaks of the re-establishment of the city of Jerusalem. This city was chosen by God as His city. It is quite unlike the capital cities of the World. “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” Shalom means salvation. It is not just peace i.e. absence of war and hostility but wholeness and salvation, which is meant by the word shalom. God will save His people and all the nations will see it and praise God for His mercy. These verses are a song of praise to God. Several illustrations are given to show how delighted the people are at what God has done for the remnant of His people. He has turned their funeral into a wedding. Isaiah ch 12 v 1-2. Revelation ch 21 v 2. Jesus and the Jewish people are caught up together in the purposes of God. Jesus fulfilled the role of the suffering servant, which the Jewish people had failed to fulfil. Ezekiel ch 34 v 11. “I myself will come to do the job.” Did God always have this in mind or did He change His plans after Israel failed? Did God know when He asked Israel to do the job that they would fail?

CHAPTER 61. Jesus Himself quoted verses 1-2 as applying to Himself. They are prophetic verses. Who are the poor? This includes the afflicted and the suffering. Liberty to the captives refers to those in spiritual bondage – depressed, possessed and controlled by demonic beings. Jesus saw that there would be a day – the year of the Lord – when God would intervene in human history. The day of vengeance will come when Jesus returns to Earth a second time. Jesus came the first time to change things. Instead of mourning – joy. Instead of ashes – beauty. Instead of heaviness – praise. Should funerals be a time of mourning or a time of rejoicing over a life given and taken away? Death – the last enemy of mankind – has been defeated.
What was the purpose of Jesus coming but to change things on Earth. There was a dismal note in the synagogue service. No more “if onlies.” He has come amongst man to give eternal life and to show the way for man to live. Is it too much to be joyful, when a man sees such misery in the World?

CHAPTERS 63-64. God claims that there is no one to help Him and He has to do it all alone. God has been good to Israel and was distressed about the Holocaust. The Church has free choice and has stood back and allowed the World to get into the current mess. Chapter 64 refers to the Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

CHAPTER 65. These are some of Isaiah’s final words. A man may never know when he will utter his final words or what impact his words had on others. Israel did not drift away from God. She chose to leave. When a man leaves God he makes his own religion, since man is incurably religious. There is a price to pay for missing worship. God kept calling the people of Israel back to Himself, through the prophets.
v 8. Because of the remnant God would not destroy the whole nation. People either seek God or forsake God.

Early on Isaiah had realised that he had been guilty of a religious attitude. Everyone else was wrong but him. In chapter 5 he had denounced the sins of the people. Then in chapter 6 he had an experience of God and realised that he was as guilty as anyone else. Yes – he did live amongst a nation of people with unclean lips. The trouble was – he also had unclean lips. He was not holy. In the presence of a holy God, he was a sinner. Perhaps he was better than them in his own sight. But in the sight of God all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and when Isaiah met with God he came to know that. By verse 11 of chapter 65, Isaiah recognises that there are basically only two types of people on the face of the Earth. Those who serve the Lord and those who forsake Him. The question of degree is not important. What matters is the attitude of each individual. Does a man love the Lord and serve Him as Lord or is he forsaking Him and serving his own interests? That is the question, which determines the standing of any man before the throne of God.

Isaiah recognises that any thinking human being, confronted with the majesty of creation, the fact of his own existence, the matter of right and wrong and the uncertainty of what happens to him at death, has three basic alternative solutions. Firstly, he can put his trust in fate. Secondly, he can accept that the whole of his existence is governed by chance. Thirdly, he can accept the message of the Scriptures that there is providence – the outworking of a plan for mankind under the sovereign control of an all-powerful deity. The names of the alternative gods are: Meni – fate, Gad – luck or chance and the Lord God – providence. By the time Isaiah has reached chapter 65 he has dealt at great length at the facts confronting mankind. Sin, which insults a holy God. The sovereignty of God who allows evil for the outworking of His own purposes and grace, whereby God blesses undeserving mankind. So Isaiah, like any good preacher, is ready to challenge his readers. For his Jewish readers, they had no excuses. They had the Scriptures available to them. They knew from the history of their peoples the blessings, which followed obedience to the Word of God and the curses, which were the direct result of disobedience to the Word of God.

v 1. God is available and willing that no one should perish. When people seek Him, He can be found. The mountain track may be strewn with dangers and warning signs. If they are all ignored and a man goes over the edge of the precipice God can do no more. Fire, flood, earthquake and violence have all been vivid warnings to the peoples of the World recently. But they would not! Salvation will go to the Gentiles. Romans ch 10 v 19-20. If Israel did not want what God offered, He would give it to others. That applies to believers also.
v 3. Mankind by his actions provokes God without any justification. Why curse in the name of Jesus? Why bring God into bad language? It is not His fault. Peoples of other nations are responding but God’s own people are the big let down. Does this refer to believers, who are not seeking God and are committing sins without a thought for their Lord?
v 5. They think that they are good enough and certainly better than others. There seems to be a very severe warning for those who take the grace of God for granted. Jesus wept over Jerusalem.
v 9. Did God allow the Holocaust, because the Jewish people would not come to their Messiah?
v 10. The Valley of Achor was the place where Achan was stoned to death because he disobeyed the Lord. Joshua ch 7 v 22-26.
v 11. Judgment on God’s people. There is a choice between those of the remnant who respond and trust God and those who despite being allowed back into the land forsake God for false gods. They had chosen what God had made clear offended Him. God was ready to be sought by His people but they would not come to Him. Instead of trusting God as their provider the people had turned to the gods of Gad (chance) and Meni (fate).
v 13. The choice of a blessing or a curse.
v 17 is not the new Heaven and the new Earth, which John speaks about in Revelation. It speaks of the nation restored to their position in spiritual belief before God. Newsmen speak of Moscow, meaning Russia and London, meaning Britain. Jerusalem means the nation of Israel. For centuries the life of the Jew has been uncertain. Now there will be security. They will live in the houses they build and eat the fruit of the vine they have planted. A great promise of God to be a shepherd of His people. Not perfection, but by comparison with what the Jewish people have experienced since 1,000 B. C. it sounds like bliss.

CHAPTER 66.
Final judgment for the whole World. God has always looked for the man with a contrite heart who walks in humility and reveres God’s Word.
v 2. The ungodly shall finally face judgment.
v 8. Shall a country be born in one day? On 14th May 1948 the nation of Israel became a nation amongst the nations of the World. It happened in one day. The book has focused on several themes.

1. The 5 themes of salvation.
2. The place of the nation of Israel in the plan of God.
3. The concern of God for His people and the Gentiles.
4. The choice between a blessing and a curse – life and death.
5. The unbelievable actions of the people of God – worse than the pagans.
6. The Second Coming of Jesus – another glimpse into the end times. This is a frightening prospect.
7. A challenge to live a holy life. God is holy but there is also His wrath.
8. Be comforted. God wants to comfort His people, but He cannot comfort rebels. For them they will live dying. Their worm shall not die. A worm does not die even if is cut in two. Each half lives on. At physical death there is no final dying. Acts ch 12 v 21-23. Herod died of worms. It seems a depressing thought on which to end a book designed to comfort the people.

Isaiah

ISAIAH. Chapters.
1. The state of the nation as seen by Isaiah.
2. Present judgement will lead to future glory.
3. All classes will be punished.
4. Revival under the Messiah.
5. The six woes.
6. God’s holiness revealed.
7. God’s promise to be with Israel is rejected.
8. Assyria will sweep Israel away in judgement.
9. The birth of Messiah and the pride of Israel.
10. The promise of restoration one day.
11. The Messiah will restore Israel.
12. Praise to God for His salvation.
13. The doom of Babylon.
14. Destruction of Babylon and restoration for Israel.
15. Devastation of Moab.
16. Moab will fall.
17. Damascus will be no more.
18. A message concerning Ethiopia.
19. The future for Egypt.
20. Egypt and Ethiopia will be conquered by Assyria.
21. The defeat of Babylon by the Medes and Persians.
22. Jerusalem will fall. Shebna will be replaced.
23. Judgement on Tyre.
24. Universal judgement in the end days.
25. Salvation, past, present and future.
26. Rejoice for salvation is at hand.
27. Israel has a place in the future salvation.
28. Woes to unbelievers.
29. Spiritual blindness affects those who reject God.
30. Trust in man instead of trust in God.
31. A call to repentance.
32. Israel’s ultimate deliverance.
33. God will deal with the Gentiles.
34. God is God of the nations and will judge them.
35. A physical return to the land.
36. Assyria attacks Jerusalem.
37. Hezekiah prays to God.
38. God answers Hezekiah and he praises God.
39. Hezekiah’s folly.
40. God is the author of salvation.
41. Israel is the servant of the Lord.
42. The Messiah as the servant of the Lord.
43. God will restore His people to the land and redeem them.
44. Israel will be redeemed.
45. God’s desire is for the Gentiles to receive salvation.
46. Babylon’s idols will be shown to be worthless.
47. God will judge Babylon.
48. Israel will be restored to the land for the sake of God’s honour.
49. The servant King will be Israel’s redeemer.
50. The obedient servant is contrasted with sinful Israel.
51.God will deliver His people because of His promises.
52. Jesus will be the saviour of Israel
53. The Messiah will bear the sins of the World on His body.
54. Israel will be expanded and prosperous.
55. Repentant sinners will be blessed by God.
56. Gentiles will be included in Israel’s blessings.
57. Blessing s for those with a contrite and humble spirit.
58. The contrast between true and false worship.
59. Iniquity keeps Israel from God’s deliverance.
60. A glorious future for Israel.
61. A command to preach the good news and do justice.
62. Israel will finally be a light to the nations.
63. Judgement on His enemies and grace to His people.
64. Israel will one day cry out for pardon and restoration.
65. There is an inheritance for the righteous but destruction for the apostates.
66. Deliverance of Israel as she is re-born in a day. Final judgement.

Ezekiel

EZEKIEL.

For all men called to do a work for God it is helpful for them to have inspiration from the Lord. Ezekiel was called to his task with a vision of God and he finished off his book with a vision of Heaven and the New Jerusalem where God will dwell among His people forever. In this respect chapters 40 – 48 are a fitting conclusion. While the book is a message of gloom and doom to Israel, there is a promise to restore His people in the days to come. The closing chapters balance the opening vision.

Ezekiel was the son of Buzi, a priest. The Judean captives had quite a settled life in Babylon and built communities there, possibly on the sites of old ruined towns. Theirs was no prison camp existence. Ezekiel must have contrasted the Temple he left in Jerusalem with the excessive idolatry and worldly splendour in Babylon. The all-conquering gods of Babylon seemed to be winning. However, Ezekiel’s vision of God gave him a recurring theme of triumph – even over the polytheistic land of Babylon. His theme was that the people – both Jews and Gentiles – should know that God is the Lord. This was Ezekiel’s consuming passion. The supernatural experiences of Ezekiel would authenticate him in the eyes of the people. He was regarded by the Jewish exiles as someone who was in touch with God. Ezekiel had an overwhelming sense of obligation and responsibility as a watchman for the Lord. If he failed, their blood would be on his hands. He combined the priest’s sense of holiness, the prophet’s sense of the urgency of his message and the pastor’s personal responsibility.

Near-East vassalage involved the inferior partner in an obligation to worship the gods of the overlord, as well as paying a tribute. The cult of astral deities was a mark of submission to the Assyrian authority. Any religious reformation would be regarded as a rebellious move against the patronage of a powerful ally. It would be a political act rather than just a spiritual act. In the same way Islam views a convert to Christianity as committing treason.

There are 5 main themes in the book.
1. The otherness of God. God’s holiness was to be seen in the place, the land, the people, their garments and their equipment. It was His holy mountain. The false prophet chatters about God because he has never met Him. The true prophet – a holy man – has met God and is marked with the glory of God. It was a comfort to Ezekiel to have a vision of God in Babylon amid all the heathenism and idolatry. The theophany showed that God still cared for His people, even during their exile.

2. The sinfulness of Israel. God’s purpose was always to shame them into repentance. God’s name should be known and respected the whole World over and He relied on Israel to play their part.

3. The act of judgement. Ezekiel’s message warns that the God who had spoken would certainly also act. “I, the Lord have spoken and I will do it” is quoted several times.

4. Individual responsibility. Every man is treated as an individual before God. What happens to him is not conditional on the environment of his upbringing or hereditary but on his own personal choice. While there is an element of corporate responsibility and corporate guilt, each man stands personally before God in judgement. Salvation is on a purely personal and individual basis. Ezekiel, the watchman, is also Ezekiel, the evangelist.

5. The promise of restoration. The new Israel will be brought back to life miraculously with no division between Judah and Israel. A man’s greatest stumbling block is himself and nothing can resolve the problem except the gracious actions of God in spiritual regeneration.

CHAPTER 1. Ezekiel started his work in his 30th year. A priest usually started his work in the Temple at the age of 30 and not before. He would be mature by then and less likely to make mistakes or errors of judgement. Jesus started His public ministry at the age of 30. His was the role of the High Priest. Ezekiel would have started as a priest had it not been for the exile. Instead God called him to be a prophet. The 4 faces of the creatures are – man – lion – ox and eagle. These were the supreme beings of their respective types – humans – wild animals – beasts and birds. Nothing but the very best will support the platform where God sits on His throne. Fire symbolised judgement and purification. Man, for all his superiority to the animals, is one with them in acting as God’s servant. God’s chariot is not Earth-bound but is free to go wherever God chooses. Without the vision there would be no basis for God’s call to Ezekiel. Without a vision the people perish. The creatures are symbolic and not to be taken literally. It was not one creature with four heads or a separate creature with four faces.
v 28. Ezekiel fell face forwards when he saw the vision of the Lord. There is no reference in Scripture to people falling backwards. Dan chapter 8 v 17. Daniel also fell face forward to the ground.

CHAPTER 2. Ezekiel was made aware of his frailty and helplessness. The name “son of dust” clearly implies that. His ministry was to the House of Israel. This should not be spiritualised to mean the Church or it loses all meaning. The people of Israel were and to some extent still are impudent, stubborn and hard-hearted. For Ezekiel there was no guarantee of a response. The faithful witness of the messenger was more important than a response. The Jewish people were described as stiff-necked. If a man has a stiff neck he is unable to clap his hands, look around to see what is happening, look up towards God or move freely where the Lord wants to lead him. Ezekiel was asked to eat the scroll – the Word of God.

CHAPTER 3. Ezekiel had to consume the Word of God so that the Holy Spirit could speak the Word through his heart, mind and lips. The same picture is given in Revelation chapter 10. The scroll has the idea of the future being revealed as time is unrolled. Jesus alone was worthy to break the seal of the scroll in Revelation chapter 6 as He is in control of the history of mankind. The scroll signified acceptance of Ezekiel’s responsibility to utter the message at God’s direction. The scroll contained the Word of God. God told Ezekiel that the people would not listen to him just as they would not listen to God Himself. The message was one of judgement, misery and bloodshed. There is more in the Bible about the wrath of God than the love of God. Ezekiel took time to digest it and to come to terms with it. He knew personally many of the people to whom he was called to speak. As a watchman, Ezekiel had to listen for the Word from God to the nation and be alert to the situation around him. Then he had to speak the word to the people. v 9. God enabled Ezekiel to be tough. An evangelist cannot afford to be too sensitive. Many will not receive his message without harsh comments.
v 18. A prophet today ought to sit with the newspaper in one hand and the Bible in the other hand. To the man who not only did not fear God but lived a life in open defiance to His commandments, the word was: “You shall surely die.” The righteous man needed the same warning. The righteous man was not saved as the New Testament teaches but was one who lived his life in adherence to the Old Covenant. Attitude was a fair rule of thumb but only the individual knew sincerely in his heart whether he was for God or opposed to Him. By turning away, the righteous man could lose his righteousness.

Ezekiel had a responsibility to the people of Israel to warn them of the consequences of their sin. The believer’s responsibility to warn a lost generation is no less terrifying. It is never inevitable that a stumbling block will bring a man down. The block is always designed to present a moral choice. There is a choice to hear Ezekiel and obey his message or to ignore it and be condemned.
v 22. Again Ezekiel fell forward on his face. This also happened in chapter 11 v 13. v 24. The Holy Spirit came upon Ezekiel.

CHAPTER 4. There are three enacted messages:
1. The siege of Jerusalem. It was probably carried out at his front door, watched by a large number of people. It was not what is termed sympathetic magic i.e. sticking pins in an effigy of someone to bring them harm. Ezekiel loved Jerusalem and longed for an opportunity to return there. The practices of sorcery and divination were widely known in Babylon. But it was forbidden by God to use psychic forces and evil spirits to do a man’s will. The siege was a sign of what God intended to do. Ezekiel played the part of God in this message.
2. The days of punishment of Israel and Judah. Here Ezekiel plays the part of the people as the bearer of the punishment for their sins. Leviticus chapter 26 v 18 multiplies the punishment for sin in certain circumstances by seven fold. 390 years plus 40 years amounts to 430 years. Take away the 70 years in Babylon. This leaves 360 years. Multiply that by 7 and the total length of the punishment and banishment from the land is 2,520 years. It is not clear when the period starts. It could be 606 B. C. or 586 B. C. The exile took place over 20 years. On 14th May 1948 the nation of Israel was restored to a place amongst the nations of the World in fulfilment of Ezekiel’s prophecy. The years were counted in Jewish calendar years on the basis of the moon and not in Gregorian calendar years on the basis of the sun.
3. The famine in Jerusalem. Israel and Judah would live in famine conditions. Their diet would be unclean. God changed His mind in response to Ezekiel’s complaint. God had changed His mind before and it has happened since.

CHAPTER 5. The fate of the people. One third will be destroyed inside the city. One third will be destroyed fighting around the city. One third will be scattered amongst the nations. A remnant, purified and purged, will return. There is to be terrible punishment on the people, who, despite all the blessings they had received, had rebelled against God in His statutes and ordinances. Unparalleled sin demands unparalleled punishment. All will be done in the sight of the nations in order to make an example of the people and to vindicate the holiness of God. What was even worse was the corrupt practices in the Temple of God. The people are to be a warning to the nations around them. This was to be a reversal of the Covenant where the people were to be a witness to the nations of God’s truth and mercy. The people were now useless for that purpose. The people are to be ridiculed. God will vent His fury and be unburdened of His grief and anger. The more indifferent men are to God’s laws, the louder He has to speak.

CHAPTER 6. The high places were originally Canaanite shrines, which Israel had taken over. The prophets deplored this activity. Hezekiah and Josiah tore down the altars on the high places. Islam always builds towers or minarets higher than the other spires or towers in the vicinity. It is symbolic of their claim that their religion is superior. Today they have a mosque on the Temple Mount – the highest place in Jerusalem, where the temple was to be observed by everyone. After the Temple was built, formal worship anywhere else was forbidden. Despite all the dire warnings, God spoke of a remnant being forgiven and restored. God’s mercy is never far behind His judgement. v 9. The aim of the judgement is stated 4 times – that the people will know that God is the Lord. Ezekiel wants the people to know that God is the one who speaks and that He does not speak in vain. v 12. Finally God’s fury will be finished. His love is so great.

CHAPTER 7. God, who had provided for and protected Israel, was about to strike her. When God acts in judgement, He Himself suffers pain and grief as well as those whom His holiness has condemned. He does not take any pleasure in it, but it has to be done. These are solemn words. The trumpet sounds. No one will escape. Money will lose its value. God is saying that since the people have wasted what He gave them, it will be taken away from them. They will know that God is the Lord and that they cannot fool around with God any longer. Regularly people say that lessons will be learned from certain situations and events. So often politicians say: “Lessons will be learned.” Sadly the countries of the World do not learn the lessons from the history of the Jewish people. If God did that to His own people what must He do to the nations, which are in rebellion against Him?

CHAPTER 8. The idolatries at the Temple. There was a complete disintegration of the national religion. Ezekiel shows the contrast between the glory of the God who belonged to the Temple and the horror of what was going on. God would stay in His Temple until the last moment. What was going on?
1. There was a wooden image of Asherah, the Canaanite goddess of sex in the Temple of God.
2. There were images of creeping things. This shows the influence of foreign serpent deities from Egyptian, Canaanite and Babylonian religions. There were paganised practices. The Elders had a private room at home, where they thought that God could not see them. Today people watch things on the internet in the privacy of their own homes. But God sees what they are doing
3. There was nature worship. Tammuz was a Sumerian god of vegetation and fertility rites- the son of Nimrod and the one claimed to be the Messiah in Gen chapter 3 v 15.
4. There was worship of the sun. The crowning abomination – carried out at the very door of the Temple. The people were worshipping the created thing in place of the Creator.
When Church leadership becomes corrupt, there is no end to the chaos, which is caused to the life of the nation. All this caused a stink in God’s nostrils. He had to act in His wrath.

CHAPTER 9. As the Lord was about to depart from His Temple, He sent out His executioners. There was nothing left for Him now. God’s punishment was selective. The recording angels were to put a mark on the forehead of those who showed concern for God. All God looked for was a concern for Him and His people. Nothing saved but the mark – like the blood on the doorposts at the Passover. The judgement began, as it must, with the household of God. The Elders were the first to die. Ezekiel appealed to God to save some. This recalls Abraham’s plea for Sodom. Although Ezekiel’s forehead was as hard as flint, he had a heart of flesh for his own people.

CHAPTER 10. The man clothed in linen is now the agent of judgement instead of the agent of deliverance. The cherubim are protectors of the sacred shrine, as they were in relation to the Garden of Eden. Ezekiel saw the burning coals like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The Lord had now left His Temple and moved off in the chariot.

CHAPTER 11. Before the glory of the Lord left Jerusalem, Ezekiel had two messages – one for those in Jerusalem and the other for the exiles. The political group in Jerusalem were teaching the people left there to carry on as normal and that the final invasion would not take place. v 5. God even knows the thoughts of the people. This reeked of sublime self-confidence, which was Jerusalem’s undoing. Those in Jerusalem were the flesh. Those in exile were the offal. The fact that Peletiah died (as spoken by Ezekiel) increased Ezekiel’s reputation as one with supernatural powers. v 17. For those in exile, Ezekiel looked to a future day when God would bring them back and make a new covenant with them. (Jer chapter 31 v 33 confirms this promise.) This gathering was not just from Babylon but from the nations where they were scattered. It looks to the gathering in the 19th and 20th centuries. But even while the people were scattered, God still looked after them in measure. A new heart and spirit would be theirs one day. There is always a choice set before man – blessing or curse – Heaven or Hell. Ezekiel had a lot to tell the elders of the people in exile. The elders were the beginning of the scribes and Pharisees as they wrote down Ezekiel’s prophecies.

CHAPTER 12. Ezekiel received a new series of messages, which were to be acted out before the people in order to deal with objections to the notion of judgement. The four complaints are: “1. We have heard it all before. 2. There will be peace and prosperity. 3. God would not do that. 4. It is a long time in the future, so we need not be concerned.” People today view the Second Coming of Christ in this way: (a) Nothing has happened for 2000 years – ignore it. (2 Peter ch 3 v 4) (b) The United Nations is working towards peace. (c) God would not condemn mankind to Hell – He is not like that – He is a God of love. (d) It is so far away in the future that it has no relevance today.

Ezekiel’s strange doings would be a talking point amongst the exiles. This time he played the part of the exiles and particularly King Zedekiah. He would flee the city at dead of night in disguise. What a man failed to appreciate in prosperity he may learn in adversity. A man often thinks that he can sin with impunity. Ezekiel’s message is that the sinner will at last realise that God is Lord. The people had a catch phrase. “They lengthen the days and it dies every vision.” It meant – “The days as they pass make liars out of every prophet.” A memorable slogan can wield tremendous influence for good or for evil. God’s reply to them was to give them through Ezekiel a new catch phrase: “They draw near the days and the word of every vision.” It meant – “The time has come for all these prophecies to be fulfilled.” The people were ridiculing the seriousness of the situation, by implying that it would not happen. God’s catch phrase said quite clearly that His Word would not return empty handed and that what He had said would certainly happen.

CHAPTER 13. The false prophets are denounced as fools. The Hebrew word for “fool” meant a person spiritually and morally insensitive, arrogant and immoral. It was the very opposite of a wise man. (Jer chapter 29.) God states that He is against such fools. It is very dangerous to say that God has spoken when He has not spoken. It makes God out to be a liar. It is dangerous to claim a word from the Lord. The false prophets endorsed empty hopes, which the people held. When Church leaders encourage their people in sub-Christian standards or in unbiblical ways, it makes them doubly guilty. The prophetesses seem to be more like witches or sorceresses. They may have been influenced by Babylon – where divination abounded. They clearly used occult practices. Jesus called Herod Antipas a fox. Luke chapter 13 v 32. He was stating that Herod was useless at rebuilding the nation of Israel.

CHAPTER 14. The whole purpose of the punishment should not be forgotten. It was that the Lord intended to capture the hearts of His estranged people so that they will be His people. Some claimed that because a few were righteous, God would not go through with it. They were using the saints as an insurance policy to cover the sinners. Ezekiel says that there are no party tickets. The righteous man saves no one but himself. v 14 and v 20. Not even the presence of super saints such as Noah, Job and Daniel would have averted the judgement.

CHAPTER 15. The parable of the vine. It was not the fruit, which was the subject of the parable, but the wood of the vine. It was useless for anything. Israel and Judah are finished and are useless to God.

CHAPTER 16. Ezekiel paints a picture of an abandoned baby, which has been picked up and adopted by the Lord. He has clothed the baby and provided for the baby in every way. He has given the baby a house in which to live. He has married the child. The baby had nothing of her own to contribute. It was all of the Lord. It is all grace. v 14. With God’s grace the nation of Israel was regarded well by the other nations. Despite all that she (the nation) had rebelled and Ezekiel used the imagery of Israel having played the harlot with other men. She had been a prostitute through political intrigues and alliances with neighbouring nations, even sacrificing children to the god Molech. This was a hideous act on her part. God was provoked to anger and His punishment was inevitable. When confronted with the sin and evil, God must manifest anger. Israel had outstripped Samaria and even Sodom when it came to sin. v 49. The sin of Sodom was not so much its homosexuality but pride, laziness, over-eating while the poor lacked food. Homosexuals call their marches “Gay Pride.” It is their pride, which will bring condemnation in time. v 63. At the very end there is a glimpse of restoration. Not even the justified sinner should forget that he has a past of which he should be ashamed.

CHAPTER 17. The two eagles explain that agreements and obligations undertaken by God’s people are as binding as if they had been made with God Himself. The breaking of a promise involves the witness of God to the World as well as to the person involved. When the books are opened on Judgement day one of the books will be the Book of Covenant. God looks to see if a man will keep the promises he makes.

CHAPTER 18. There was a common belief in Israel that the sufferings of one generation were due to the misdeeds of their forebears. There was a popular saying: “The fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children’s teeth are set on edge.” The Ten Commandments were the basis of this saying and there is truth in the statement in that sins are passed on from one generation to another. This thinking led the exiles to feel that it was the fault of the previous generation for the fact that they were in exile. Ezekiel argues that each person is an individual in the eyes of God and God treats each person individually. Each is responsible to God for his own conduct. While communal solidarity and corporate responsibility were facts, they were not the only facts. The people had an unbalanced view of their national responsibility, which had led them to ignore the call to repent. Ezekiel wanted rid of the saying about sour grapes. To prove his point, Ezekiel refers to good King Hezekiah, his rotten son, Manasseh and the good King Josiah, who was the grandson of Hezekiah and the son of Manasseh. For Ezekiel morality was the experience of a man’s religion. The individual’s righteousness or wickedness shall be on himself. He ends the chapter with a plea on God’s behalf. “Why will you die, O House of Israel?”

CHAPTER 19. This is in the form of a lament over the Kings of Israel. It had been the rebellion of King Zedekiah, which brought the punishment from Babylon and ended Israel’s identity. The fulfilment of this sad prophecy had already begun and there was more ahead.

CHAPTER 20. The Elders came to ask Ezekiel for some advice. What would God tell them? Ezekiel had to list the history of rebellion by Israel as the reason why God had nothing to say to them. The rebelliousness of Israel concerns God, as does concern for His holy name. How much God had wanted His people to return to Him but they would not. In the same way Jesus wept over Jerusalem. (Luke chapter 19 v 41) The same God who saved them in Egypt would now have to punish them. v 9. God acted in Egypt for the honour of His own name. It is because of their lack of a sense of shame and a spirit of repentance that the Elders are shown to be guilty and found unworthy to receive a word from a holy God.

When the Elders asked Ezekiel to explain something, he rehearsed the sins of Israel. At Sinai Israel had left other gods to make a deal with God. It was their duty to ensure that His name was not profaned among the nations. They had failed. The same God who had saved them now judged them. The Elders did not have a sense of shame, which might have prevented their coming to Ezekiel. Not only were they unworthy of a word from God but they did not even realise it. v 44 looks ahead to the time when Israel returns a second time to the land and then knows that God is their God. Then God’s name will be honoured. This ties in with Ezekiel chapter 39 v 22. There will be a significant day.

CHAPTER 21. Judgment will be executed by fire and the sword. Ezekiel gives a picture of a forest fire. The sword was to the people of that day what the bullet or bomb would be to people today. Through Ezekiel God foretold what Babylon’s king looked for in his wise men.
(a) Belomancy – a selection of arrows.
(b) Teraphim – household gods. (Necromancy)
(c) Hepatoscopy – examination of the liver or entrails of a sacrificial animal.
God said that Babylon was coming. The Ammonites would be wiped out altogether – not a memory of them would remain – they would face oblivion. v 25. Ezekiel prophesied the final day for King Hezekiah.

CHAPTER 22. Oracles about the defilement of Jerusalem. All sections of society were affected: princes, priests, prophets, nobles and ordinary people. They had all failed in their responsibilities. There is an overall picture of extortion, bloodshed, immorality, incest and irreligion. The same is true of any nation whose appointed time is drawing nigh. v 18. Ezekiel uses the furnace, not to speak about refining, but to show that Israel is nothing but dross. Naboth’s vineyard was not an isolated example of injustice. The people follow the patterns set by the leaders (such as claiming false expenses and telling half truths). There was not one man with the moral courage to stem the tide. Any nation, which lacks godly leadership, must be failing. v 4. God caused Israel to be a laughing stock in the World. God looked in vain for a righteous man.

CHAPTER 23. Ezekiel used the covenant relationship between God and Israel and Judah in the form of two sisters – married by God but who both played the harlot. The language is of unspeakable disgust as Ezekiel reflects his passion for God’s honour and God’s fury at His people. Their conduct has been revolting to God. Israel’s Kings had bowed before false idols in Assyria – similar to Queen Elizabeth of Britain attending a mosque. The Israelites had never found it easy to resist the temptations and allurements of more sophisticated civilisations than their own. Worldly pleasures crouch at the door of a man’s life seeking to consume him. Gen chapter 4 v 7. Israel was possessed, used, ridiculed, despised and finally destroyed by her neighbours. Jerusalem copied Samaria and did not learn the lesson. Adulteresses were stoned and shedders of blood had their property burned. This was a picture of slinging stones and incendiary missiles, which caused the destruction of Jerusalem. The only way to rid the land of lewdness and idolatry was to empty the land of people – a drastic step.

CHAPTER 24. Ezekiel sums up all that he has been saying in the previous twelve chapters. The time has come for the judgement to take place. The cauldron being set on fire signifies the siege of Jerusalem. The dispersion of the Jews will not solve the greater issue of the nation’s guilt. That has still to be dealt with. God’s decision and His Word are alike irrevocable. Ezekiel’s wife died and he was to use it as an illustration. Often those chosen by God are called to surrender their private life to the requirements of their public responsibilities. Mourning will be out of place in the presence of a disaster so complete. v 27. Having discharged his burden to preach a message of doom, Ezekiel is now free to act as a shepherd to the people and to work constructively towards the building up of a new community – a new Israel.

CHAPTER 25. Ezekiel continues and turns his attention to the neighbours. First Ammon. Then Moab. Then Edom. The Cherethites. The Lord is sovereign there also. They have disregarded the laws by which all mankind will be judged. This section until chapter 32 also serves as a break in the book. After chapter 33 comes the matter of restoration. Ezekiel spots the attitudes of Israel’s neighbours, which is what results in condemnation.
1. Ammon gloated over Israel. She was wiped out. 2. Moab was contemptuous of Israel and her God. She was wiped out by the Nabateans. 3. Edom. She was also overrun by the Nabateans and pushed out into Idumea. 4. The Philistines showed hatred towards Israel and were wiped out. Only the names of their cities would remain.

CHAPTER 26. Tyre and Sidon. Tyre was a twin city with two harbours. One was off shore, linked by a causeway, which was built in the 10th Century B. C. She was the trading capital and was jealous of Jerusalem’s trade. She was complacent and rejoiced over the destruction of her competitor. Tyre paid a tribute to Assyria for commercial freedom.

CHAPTER 27. The shipwreck of Tyre. An allegory of the good ship Tyre, which was so over-laden that she sank to the bottom of the sea. Material success can sink a person or nation. Everything was solid and sound – like a good person but one who has no spiritual dimension. The trading partners will suffer as Tyre sinks and their prosperity will diminish.

CHAPTER 28. Tyre boasted of her strength. She was not dependant on the grace of God. She was arrogant. There were ancient gods in Tyre ruling the people. Pride was her downfall. v 7. An enemy army will bring her down. Alexander the Great destroyed Tyre. The seeds of a nation’s destruction are usually to be found within her. v 25. Israel alone of the nations will return and live again as a nation in the land promised to her. This will be evidence of God’s grace.
v 12. Satan is likened to Tyre. Ezekiel sees Satan’s downfall brought about by his pride. Satan defiled his holiness with lust for gain.

CHAPTER 29. Ezekiel deals with Egypt. One twelfth of the book deals with Egypt. Israel’s existence depended on the jostling of position of her neighbours for power and wealth. She could not live in isolation. In the same way, a believer cannot live in isolation, but faces pressures from other people in a position of influence. Family, friends, colleagues, clients, customers, etc are all seeking to dominate, justify their actions and use the believer. God ought to have had the final say in Israel’s personal destiny. God also controlled the other nations. He was and is in total control. Egypt’s sun god Re claimed to be self-begotten. The Nile was Egypt’s source of prosperity. There was nothing she did to bring it into being, yet she claimed to be its owner. This is the same as a good person ascribing the grace of God to himself. Egypt would never again be a great nation in her own right.
v 21. By restoring Israel God is saying that Egypt will know that God is Lord.

CHAPTER 30. All the allies of Egypt will witness her downfall. Ezekiel spoke of the defeat of Pharaoh by Nebuchadnezzar as the breaking of Pharaoh’s arm, whereby he was rendered helpless.

CHAPTER 31. Egypt had been a great nation but had become proud and arrogant. Babylon will be used to bring about the fall. Ezekiel uses the allegory of a great tree to symbolise the greatness of the nation. Without God’s protection, Israel is a prey to the other nations. The prosperity of the wicked is all due to the mercy and goodness of God. The other nations are affected and take notice. No matter how great she was at one time, she will end up in the same place as most of the nations. The good man (unsaved) will end up with the unrepentant murderer.

CHAPTER 32. Ezekiel develops the theme. All the great men of the World will end up in Hell, no better than the down and outs. Ezekiel has mentioned all the nations except Babylon. The reader would realise that, although Babylon is not mentioned, God would deal with Babylon in His own good time. All the nations mentioned comprise the main nations in the known World at that time. Ezekiel was not limiting God’s supremacy to a few small nations but was stating that God is Lord of the whole World. v 10. “Terror shall strike in many lands.” The World is witnessing this in the early twenty first century.

CHAPTER 33. After all he has said Ezekiel restates his duties, as if to confirm that it is true – especially at the time of a new phase of his ministry. It is like a re-commissioning. The past is done. Ezekiel looks to the future. Every man has his opportunity and every man must act according to God’s word to him. The watchman’s duty is to warn. He is guilty if he fails to warn the people. Each person who fails to respond is also guilty. God longs for a man to repent. This is a cardinal feature of Ezekiel’s ministry. The righteous man also needs to repent when he falls back into sin. Unwillingness to repent is lack of belief in the Word of God. The city fell but the people were unrepentant. Those who survived the siege claimed to be inheritors of the promise of Abraham. Ezekiel pointed out that morally and religiously they had not a leg to stand on. The exiles gathered to listen. Religious meetings were never so well attended, but the message was having no impact. v 32 “They hear what you say but do not pay any attention to it.” Today is not the only age, which treats God’s spokesmen as if they are public entertainment e.g. some leading evangelists on television.

CHAPTER 34. This is a key passage of Scripture. The leaders of the people had failed. The word – shepherd – suggests leadership and caring. Israelite history shows how rarely responsible leadership was given to the people. Ezekiel recalled the failures of recent kings of Israel. The leaders are condemned on three grounds. 1. They exploited the people. 2. They did not care for the weak. 3. They did not keep the flock together but allowed it to be scattered. The flock was easy prey for the enemies of Israel. v 11. God says that He will come Himself to do the job. The parable of the lost sheep must have reflected this passage. Jesus claimed the title of the Good Shepherd in one of His all-encompassing “I am” statements. John chapter 10 v 11. Those people, who have a false picture of a stern God in the Old Testament, are confronted by a tender God, who cares for His people. The flock would be purified of its bad leaders and bad people. The Messianic shepherd will come and a New Covenant of peace and prosperity will be made. Peace (shalom) means harmony – harmony between man and God and between man and man. It is a positive concept and not a negative one. It embraces salvation. The fertility of the land depends on the regularity and copiousness of the rainy seasons. v 28. No more will other nations conquer the Jewish people. This can only be today.

CHAPTER 35. Why does Ezekiel denounce Edom again? In order to show the contrast between the extinction of those who have hated God, as Edom has, and the restoration of God’s people, who though without their Messiah have often revealed to the World more of God than the Christian Church with the Messiah. This also shows the two sides of God – justice and mercy – justice towards Edom and mercy towards Israel. Edom had consistently and persistently rejected God and His people. They coveted the fertile lands of Israel and Judah. v 6. They had a culture of death and now their blood will be spilled.

CHAPTER 36. This is a gem of literature – one of the many passages, which could only have been written by the Holy Spirit. Restoration is promised to Israel. God was inextricably bound up with this land. In v 5 He calls the land “my Land.” Psalm 83 v 3 – 5. This is the attempt of the nations of the World to destroy Israel. The Arab peoples attempted this in 1948. All the peoples mentioned are inter-related. They sought to dispossess Israel of the land given to her by God. The nations who came against Israel were humiliated. The others nations outnumbered Israel 12 – 1. Israel’s victory brought shame to the Arab nations. The United Nations will do the same in the end times. The people of Israel were never the same when they were out of the Land. God was never fully glorified either. Those who challenged Israel’s right to the Land, challenged the Word of God. It was blasphemy. The contempt of the heathen for Judah would return to them. God would lovingly restore His people. v 32. He will do this out of mercy and grace but especially for the honour of His own name, so that the nations may regard Him not as an ineffective tribal god but as Lord of all the Earth. Israel was to be the suffering servant as spoken of in Isaiah chapters 42 – 49. First the people had to be restored to the Land and then there would be moral and spiritual changes. v 26. God will give them a new heart and a new spirit. They will be His people again. So God’s glory will be seen again. Israel will be shamed by God’s goodness into self-repentance and will acknowledge God in a way she never has before. v 37-38. The population will increase and the ancient cities will be rebuilt.

CHAPTER 37. The valley of dry bones. Ezekiel’s earlier visions were set in a valley. As he considered the people in exile, they were lifeless people, scattered over the valleys of Babylon. First he is told to prophesy that the people might hear the Word of God. Then, having heard the Word, that they will become a people again so that they might receive the Holy Spirit. It is not a doctrine of resurrection, although it appears like a resurrection. The language of resurrection is only in order to illustrate the purpose of Israel’s return to a new life in her own land in the centre of the Earth, in contrast to the death sentence in exile. This symbolises that Israel is at the centre of God’s plans for the World. When Israel was divided after the sin of Solomon, the south had two tribes of which Judah was the greater and the north had ten tribes of which Ephraim was the greatest. A modern understanding is that the piles of bones of Jewish people discovered at the end of World War II have by the twenty first century become a vibrant nation.
The four winds in v 7 refer to the four corners of the Earth. The two sticks symbolise the fact that God will hold the two nations of Judah and Israel together in His hands. There will be no more divisions of the Jewish people. The fact that it is a futuristic vision is indicated in verses 21-28. In earlier prophecies there was a longing for a healing of the wounds between the two parts of the nation. This is God’s way of demonstrating that He is not dead and that Israel is still His people. He does not fail. It opens the way for the concluding chapters 40 – 48.

CHAPTERS 38 and 39. These chapters follow on chronologically from the time of the restoration to the land. There are 7 oracles describing how Gog and Magog with their hordes will invade Israel. It is apocalyptic writing envisaging a battle between the forces of evil and the faithful people of God. The language is symbolical and at times shadowy and cryptic. The thrust is clear enough. Gog might be the ruler of Russia the land of Magog. But Gog might not be a specific person. He might be the personified head of the forces of evil, behind whom lurks Satan himself. He fits the role of the Little Horn and of the Antichrist in Daniel ch 8 v 9 intent on destroying Israel as the true witness of God. God is allowing the evil to gather like poison in a boil and drawing it towards Israel – where He will lance the boil and demonstrate His power. Antichrist will move the United Nations to go against Israel. (Joel chapter 2 v 1-11 speaks of locusts swarming all over the land.) Gog’s enterprise rouses the greed of the other nations who delight to hear no more of God. They are eager to cash in on a wrongdoing – like looters who grasp the opportunity to what they have long wanted to do. Gog acts according to the evil dictates of his own heart but God is in ultimate control. It is God who puts a hook through the jaws of Gog and leads him into battle. A hook is only put through an animal when it is being taken to slaughter. God will defend helpless Israel. Only true believers will support Israel at that time and they will face persecution for their support. In the end the heathen forces will fight and destroy each other as the coalition breaks down. There is much symbolism and great care must be taken in not taking too literal a translation. Ezekiel was accustomed to call a spade a spade. God’s intervention will help Israel to know on a specific day that God is their Lord (Chapter 39 v 22) and the nations of the World will know that God is their Lord also. God’s righteousness in His dealings with Israel and the nations will be seen by all. Israel’s experiences have always been a demonstration of the character of God. This may be the time when the prophecy in Zechariah chapter 12 v 10 is fulfilled. When it seems to Israel that it is all over and God fights for them in a supernatural way, they will realise that God is real and that Jesus is their Messiah. Then the Jewish people will look upon Jesus as the one whom they pierced. In a sense Jerusalem is a bait to trap the nations of the World when they come to take the bait.

CHAPTERS 40 – 48. Ezekiel started with a vision of God sending His people into exile. He concludes with a vision of God returning to dwell in the midst of His people, restored and re-established in their own land. It is the climax to Ezekiel’s twenty-year ministry of prayer and meditation. There are 4 different interpretations of the chapters.
1. Literal. A physical rebuilding of the Temple. It is reasonable to expect Ezekiel the priest to see this as essential to the Word of God. But there are few details and it is not as detailed as the building of the Ark of the Covenant.
2. Symbolic of the Christian era. But it was written for the people of Ezekiel’s day.
3. Dispensationalist. A reintroduction of the sacrifice as it used to be.
4. Ezekiel’s pattern for how things should be in the Messianic age.
It was probably written on the first day of a new year, pointing to a new beginning for God’s people.

Ezekiel started with the glory of God departing from the Temple and finishes with His glory returning. As God left by the East, He entered again by the East Gate. His glory filled the Temple. The land occupied by God should be most holy. The river flowing to the east is symbolic of all the blessings, which flow from the presence of the Lord. Even the Dead Sea is full of fish. Scientists have discovered springs of fresh water coming up under the Dead Sea. If they were to gush forth, the Dead Sea would be transformed and full of fish again. This would be the ultimate blessing and the fulfilment of the prophecy. Four rivers entered Eden in the beginning. Water is essential to life. The geographical boundaries are those stated in 1 Kings chapter 8 v 65 and Numbers chapter 34 v 1-12. Aliens are entitled to be present, as long as they accept Israel’s God and the true religion. Revelation chapter 21 is very similar in the revelation of the new Heaven and the new Earth. Ezekiel leaves the impression that the dwelling of God is with man. Rev chapter 21 v 3. Ezekiel also leaves much to ponder over and has clearly been touched by God. The Jewish mind is able to accept revelation from God and not seek to understand it exactly. The Greek mind has to have an explanation for everything. Chapters 40 to 48 may not require a detailed explanation but be accepted as a picture of God back in Israel with His people restored at last.

Daniel chapters 7-12

DANIEL. CHAPTER 7.

In chapter 2 the World Kingdoms are seen by the heathen king in their outward unity and glory, yet without life. God’s prophet sees the kingdoms for what they are – beasts, with terrible animal power. Daniel writes down his dream for all time. So did Habakkuk and Jeremiah. A message from God should be committed to writing to avoid forgetting it or allowing the memory to play games with it. This message was in the first year of Belshazzar. This incident precedes the lions’ den in chapter 6.

First, the Babylonian Empire. Then the Empire of the Medes and Persians. Then the Greek Empire. After the death of Alexander the Great it was divided four ways. Seleucus founded a dynasty in Syria. Ptolmeny founded a dynasty in Egypt. Greece and Asia Minor were the other two dynasties. Ten in Scripture is usually the number for completeness or the total number. Horn is a symbol of strength. Three and a half years may be literal or symbolic for a strictly limited time. 42 is the number for the Devil.

Beasts from the sea. v 3. In Rev ch 13 v 1 there was the great beast from the sea. This represented the state – or the political system, which was hostile to the Gospel. The sea was viewed by Jews as a dangerous and frightening place. They were not a sea-faring people. During excavations near Babylon winged lions were found. They were the symbol for Babylon. Horns stand for Kings. The fourth Kingdom was different from the others. It caused more death and destruction than the others. The Empires will come and go and then there will be time for judgement. The Kingdom of Jesus will last forever, though all others will run out of time. The last king will make war on the saints and will prevail. However, Jesus will justify the saints and prove that all their sacrifices have been worthwhile. They will rule the World one day. 1 Cor ch 6 v 2-3. Jesus appears as a human being rather than a kingdom. The little horn will seek to change the morals, customs and laws, making morally right was has been wrong and wrong what is right. The spirit of anti-Christ is seen today in many of the laws passed by the European Parliament.

CHAPTER 8.
This dream was two years later. It focuses on the last 3 empires. Susa was one of the principal cities and one of the 4 capitals of the Persian Empire. The ram was the empire of the Medes and Persians. The Persians were the dominant people. Greece came from the West and was represented by the goat. Initially there was one leader – Alexander the Great – one large horn. Greece overran the Persian Empire. Again pride came before a fall. After Alexander the Great the Empire was ruled by the four commanders in 4 separate divisions of the Empire. 1. Ptolmeny of Egypt. 2. Seleucus of Babylonia. 3. Antigonus of Syria and Asia Minor. 4. Antipater of Macedonia and Greece. Antiochus IV Epiphanes attacked Israel and sought to stamp out the Jewish religion. He was a type of antichrist. The type and the ante type are both called “the little horn.” He defiled the Temple by sacrificing a pig on the altar. This was a deep insult to the Jews. God could have destroyed him but let him continue. The first antichrist foreshadows the later one, as the destruction of Jerusalem foreshadows the destruction of the World and the flood foreshadows the final judgement. However, the actions of Antiochus Epiphanes might not be the event spoken of by Daniel. Jesus refers to it in Mat ch 24 as a future event. Perhaps it will bear a resemblance to what he did but be on a grander scale. Hitler did a far more horrendous thing than Antiochus Epiphanes. What could happen that would be worse than what Hitler did? There are 3 references to the actions of the little horn. One of them may refer to Antiochus Epiphanes.

v 23 seems to jump forward to the end times – to the focal point of all the visions. This is stated in v 19. 2300 days is equal to 6½ years. It is stated to be literal. The angel Gabriel was the one who appeared to Mary and to Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist. The events will be at the end times of the World. A shrewd man, skilled in intrigues and with satanic power, will arise. He will prosper and destroy all who oppose him. Without warning he will destroy many. There will be false security. He will take on Jesus in battle. He must come from the north and west of the Roman Empire, since he is described as moving east and south and to the Promised Land. He will take Eastern Europe. Dictators want to change everything at once. He will have no respect for right and wrong. He will set up his own standards and think it right to kill believers. v 12 Truth will be a casualty. It always is when self-centredness rises to the fore. The Holy Spirit is still at work restraining his plan.

CHAPTER 9.
This chapter probably took place before chapter 6 and the incident of the lions’ den. The seventy years were to fulfil the Sabbaths. Jer ch 25 v 11. This chapter ties in with the events of chapter 6 – the Lions’ Den. Daniel knew that his prayer was so important, because God had said through Jeremiah that the 70 years were up and that the Jews should return. Yet the matter still had to be prayed through. The enemy of mankind knew this and tried his best to kill Daniel to stop the prayer and defeat the purposes of God. Jer ch 29 v 10-14. Jer ch 25 v 11-12. 2 Chr ch 36 v 21. This is why it is vital that believers know from the Word of God what will happen in the end times, so that they can pray intelligently and play a part in fulfilling the purposes of God. Daniel may have thought that he alone was praying. Nehemiah ch 1 v 4. God had also put it on Nehemiah’s heart to pray. A man may feel that it is entirely up to him. But God has others involved in the same matter.

v 5. “We have sinned.” Daniel was about as good a man as is found in Scripture. Yet he prayed of behalf of the people. He realised the grace and mercy of God to sinners and pleaded for it on behalf of his people.
v 9 confirms the mercy of God. The people were under a curse from God because of their sin.
v 13. Despite the calamity of the captivity, the people had not repented or confessed their sins. They were a stiff-necked people. The problems confronted them but they would not admit that their sin had brought the problems upon them. That is so in the life of a Church or an individual. “Where have we (I) gone wrong?” This ought to be a question to the Lord every time things are in a mess. “Is it my sin?” “Is it our sins?”
v 16. The wrath or anger of God was upon the Jewish people. Daniel asked God to turn aside from His anger. This should be a question to God where a believer is asking God to give the gift of eternal life to an unbeliever. God’s wrath is upon all unbelievers. That must also be averted if salvation is to be given. Daniel was saying: “There is nothing we can do. You do it, for the glory of your own name. We have let you down.” Overrule the situation. It is not man’s merit but God’s mercy. It is God’s name, which is at stake and which matters. The World mocks the Church because of the state of affairs and the lives of the believers. Daniel is feeling something of the hurt, which God feels at the situation.
v 24. This is another canvass. The future for the Jewish people. The Bible deals with individuals and with nations. This tells of God’s dealing with the people as a nation. The nation had been divided in two because of the sins of Solomon. The northern kingdom – Israel – had been taken into captivity in Assyria and then Judah – the southern kingdom – had gone into captivity in Babylon. There were always people left in the land. Jer ch 40 v 6. The return to Judah of 60,000 exiles did not restore statehood to Israel. It was still under the Persian Empire – then the Greek Empire – then the Roman Empire and finally Jerusalem was sacked in A. D. 70. Then there was Islam, the Ottoman Empire, and the British Mandate until 1948, when the United Nations proposed a homeland for the Jews. The Arabs would not accept the proposals and Israel declared itself a state in 1948. Acts ch 1 v 6. “When will you restore the kingdom to Israel?” The answer came on 14th May 1948, when the state of Israel became a nation among the nations of the World.

The 70 years in Babylon and the total exile from statehood are two entirely different matters. The period of 70 comes into both to add to the confusion. The number 7 in Scripture stands for perfection and the number 10 stands for completeness.

Weeks. There is a word for 10 years – a decade. 100 years – a century. 1,000 years – a millenium. But there is no word for 7 years. The word “weeks” represents a period of 7 years. So 7 times 70 years comes to 490 years. The time is not necessarily continuous. Certain things are to be accomplished within the 70 years.

The people had sinned grievously. Daniel had just admitted it on their behalf. There is to be an end of sin and time of righteousness (the righteousness of Christ in Rom ch 3 v 21- 22.) within the period. i.e. to finish the transgression or sin. This seems to mean a time of national repentance and turning to God as a nation – to deal with their guilt. Deut ch 30 v 1-10. Ezekiel ch 36 v 24-28. It will also fulfil the prophecies i.e. to seal the vision and the prophets, including that in Deut ch 30. There will be an anointing of the holy place – to rededicate the temple. (The body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.) “Messiah” means anointed.

The abomination of desolation causing sacrifice and offering to cease occurs in Dan ch 9 v 27, Dan ch 11 v 31 and Dan ch 12 v 11. Also in Mat ch 24 v 15. There are three recorded incidents. Antiochus Epiphanes in 168 B. C. erected a statue of Zeus and entered the holy of holies. The other two seem to refer to the end times of the Antichrist. Mat ch 24 v 15 answers two questions with the one answer and also refers to A.D.70 when Jerusalem was sacked by Titus who sent his legions into the holy precincts. Jesus answered the two questions with the same answer. The earlier in A.D.70 foreshadows the later at the end of the age.

The Jews were 430 years in bondage in Egypt. Ez ch 12 v 40-41. They were 70 years in Babylon. Jer ch 25 v 8-11. The return was only partial. Many stayed on in Babylon, where they were quite comfortable. One line of Scripture follows those who returned. Another line in Ezekiel follows those who did not return. Ezek ch 3 v 24 – ch 4 v 1-8. The acted parable was for 430 years. During that time the Jews were to be scattered among the nations. Each day is to be one year. i. e. 430 years. In Leviticus ch 26 v 18 it is stated that if, after the first punishment, the people do not repent of their sins and turn to God, the punishment will be multiplied by seven. Daniel ch 9 v 13 confirmed that the people had still not repented and turned to God. Therefore the punishment was multiplied by seven. Of the 430 years of punishment the Jews had served 70 years. That leaves 360 still to go. Multiply it by seven and that gives a total of 2520 years, which have to run from 538 B. C. when Cyrus decreed it. That would move on to 1982 A. D. However, the Jewish calendar was based on lunar years and not solar years. It would be necessary to calculate the equivalent of 2,520 years from 586 B. C. in the Jewish calendar. It ought to coincide with 14th May 1948 when the state of Israel was reborn.

The captivity ended in 536 B. C. 49 years. Followed by 62 times 7 = 434 years. Total of 483 years. After that time Jesus will be cut off (Isaiah ch 53 v 7) and the kingdom still unrealised. Acts ch 1 v 6. The Kingdom of God is a different concept from the Kingdom of Israel. The prince of the air (behind the earthly king) will destroy Jerusalem. Then there will be a further period of 7 years. i. e. one week. For half of the week i.e. 3½ years, he shall cause sacrifice to cease. Then there will be the abomination of desolation – spoken about by Jesus. The Antichrist will seek to make a deal with Israel to be the protector of the Jews. After 3½ years the deal will be broken by Antichrist and then there will be the day of Israel’s trouble. Jer ch 30 v 7. Does the time of tribulation for the Church and for Israel coincide? Rev ch 7 v 14. Mat ch 24 v 21. Then the end will come.

The Seventy weeks. The return to the land took place because Daniel prayed through what God had said in Jeremiah would happen. Jer ch 29 v 10. Zech ch 7 v 1-3. Some matters require a real time of fasting and prayer. Jesus said that some demons do not come out without fasting and prayer. Neh ch 1 v 4. It is not enough just to know what God will do. In some strange way the prayers of the saints unleash the angels to drive back the demons and let the plan of God take effect. The people would go back but there is no sign of repentance or salvation. The Lord just let them go back because He loved them and for the honour of His name. It was mercy on God’s part to let them back. In v 10-13 Daniel lists the whole range of sins, which have led to the curses foretold by Moses. “We deserved it all.” “Go on, Dad, do it again.” Daniel appealed to the merciful nature of God. The heathen were mocking God because of the state of Jerusalem. The people and the city bear God’s name and the return is for the honour of the name of God. Many today want to divide the city of Jerusalem. God committed Himself to the people and the land. The return to the Lord came after they were back in the land. It will happen again the second time. Gabriel came again and ministered to Daniel. He appears to have come in the form of a man. God loves it when a man really prays what is on His heart. But that was not an end of the matter. There will be a further period of seventy periods of 7 years before the salvation of the Jews will take place. The figure 7 denotes perfection. A further 490 years of punishment was to take place in order to cleanse them from sin. Daniel divides the total years into 3 parts. 1. 7 – 49 years. 2. 62 – 434 years. 3. 1 – 7 years. After 434 years Jesus will be killed. Then at the end the Little Horn will make a 7 year treaty with Jews but after 3½ years he will break his pledge and stop the Jews from all their sacrifices and their offerings. Then he will utterly defile the sanctuary of God. That leaves 3½ years of tribulation before the final judgement. The destruction of Jerusalem in A.D.70 by Titus and the subsequent slaughter of 1,000,000 Jews lasted 3½ years and may have been a partial fulfilment. The purpose of the 490 years of exile is stated in v 24 to put an end to sin and to bring in everlasting righteousness.

605 B. C. Exile to Babylon commenced.
586 B. C. Exile completed.
571 B. C. Exiles started to return to Jerusalem.
538 B. C. Cyrus decreed the Jews could return. God has charged me to build Him a house in Jerusalem.
516 B. C. Second Temple completed.
475 B. C. Artexerxes gave an order to Ezra to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Ezra ch 7 v 6-7 and ch 9 v 9. Solar years.
445 B. C. Artexerxes gave an order to Nehemiah to build the walls of Jerusalem.
27 A. D. Jesus’ ministry began.
30 A. D. Jesus died and rose again.
70 A. D. Jerusalem destroyed by Romans.

The final 7 year period could be from the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Jewish nation in Zechariah ch 12 v 10, when they look up to the Messiah.

CHAPTER10.
In the last days there will be a time of great conflict. It is essential to keep an eye on the Lord. In the midst of the visions Daniel saw the Lord in His glory. v 1-9 and v 16. Daniel’s vision of the man is like that of Jesus in Revelation. Rev ch 1 v 13. Those with Daniel saw nothing. Spiritual revelation does not come to others but is personal. It makes it difficult to prove but tests the faith of the person who receives it. The Ecumenical movement. One may see it while others do not. A hand touched him. Physical contact is part of an intimate relationship e.g. laying on of hands and a handshake. There is symbolic contact between the parties. The angel had come only because Daniel prayed. v 12. There was a spiritual battle with the demonic prince of Persia. There is constant spiritual warfare going on in the unseen World. Man is given a glimpse of that World to fuel his imagination. There seems to be a spiritual prince of each Empire. Michael is the Angel with special responsibility for Israel. Details of the movements and activities of Antichrist could not be reduced to symbols. The prophetic method is to follow the main thought through to the end without deviation, though some important details are omitted.

Then the prophet goes back and fills in the details, which have been left out. Jesus did this in the Olivet discourse. The main purpose of the visions is to reveal the rise, nature, exploits and fall of Antichrist. The World in which the spirits dwell is no less organised than the Earth. Records are kept. There is a book of life. There are secrets, which even the angels do not know.

Prayers change things in the unseen World. The vision to Daniel was near to where Adam and Eve lived.
Only Daniel saw the vision. Spiritual revelation is personal. Others may not see spiritually (understand) what is seen by one man, who is in their company. Powers grip nations and people. Each nation may have a guardian angel. Michael guards Israel. Prosperity is a part of the false teaching – it offers man security in possessions. The unsaved have been deceived. Satan is working on deceiving the saved.

CHAPTER 11.
God had sent an angel to enable Darius to rule the Empire. Each successive vision supplements rather than duplicates the previous visions. Specific details are added. In prophecy a “woman” represents the
Church. When a man has the power to raise taxes it means that he is in control of the Empire.

This chapter sets out the future history in detail and it is possible to look back and see how accurate it has been. This gives assurance that the future events foretold will be 100% accurate also. There were 3 more kings of Persia – Cambyses, Gaumata and Darius I. The fourth was Xerxes who invaded Greece, but was defeated at the battle of Salamis in 480 B. C. Alexander the Great arose to power. He was followed by the 4 divided kingdoms. Ptolemy ruled the southern area including Egypt and Palestine. Life for the Jews was well ordered and many Jews moved to Alexandria, where they learned to speak Greek and eventually forgot their Hebrew. As a result the Scriptures were translated into Greek. The daughter of Ptolemy II married Antiochus II of Syria. She was divorced and murdered and her brother avenged her by attacking Syria. The Jews then joined forces with Antiochus III of Syria to defeat Egypt – v 14. About 200 B. C. the Seleucid dynasty under Antiochus III defeated the Ptolemy ruler taking control of Palestine – v 16.

Initially this made little difference to the Jews but later taxes increased when Rome threatened the Greek Empire. Also the rulers raided temples where the rich kept their treasures, including the temple at Jerusalem. The Jews had gained their freedom from Egypt and Antiochus made a marriage alliance with Ptolemy V. Antiochus invaded Asia Minor and Greece but was defeated by the Romans at Magnesia in 190 B. C. The exactor of tribute in v 20 was his son Seleucus IV who was shortly succeeded by his brother Antiochus IV, the persecutor of the Jews. v 21 describes him as a contemptible person. After gaining control of Egypt in 173 B. C. he attacked Jerusalem and slaughtered 800,000 Jews. Antiochus IV was thrown out of Egypt by the Romans. The Jews thought that he had been killed and threw out a man whom Antiochus IV had appointed high priest in Jerusalem. This led Antiochus IV to treat Jerusalem as a rebellious city. He overthrew the system of government, which the Jews had enjoyed since returning from Babylon and imposed his own direct rule. After being advised that it was the Jewish religion, which made the Jews so difficult he set about abolishing their religion. This eventually led to the pagan deity of Zeus being placed in the temple in Jerusalem – v 31. Antiochus IV claimed to represent god on Earth. This was called the abomination of desolation. Judas Maccabeus led a revolt against him. After the death of Antiochus IV there was a struggle amongst the Jewish factions for supremacy. It was settled in 64 B. C. when Pompey the Roman general marched into Judea and Samaria.

v 36 to the end speaks of the end times. The suffering of the Jews under Antiochus foreshadows what will happen in the end times. There will be a strong desire for peace. Mankind is tired of war. In making a covenant with the Jews will Antichrist be trying to assume God’s position as protector of the Jews? The King of the South is usually taken as Egypt.

Antichrist will exalt himself above all other gods and speak against God. He will hate the Jews. He will set himself up as a new god. He will regard the god of forces. “May the force” be with you. He is interested in gaining power and control in the World. At the very end Antichrist will have an army in Israel between the sea and Jerusalem. He may simply be the one who asks the United Nations to send an army, rather than be the leader of the army.

CHAPTER 12.
The times are in God’s hands and He is sovereign over the affairs of men. Michael is the angelic prince assigned to protect Israel. He is the only archangel named in the Bible. Michael contended with Satan about the body of Moses. Jude v 9. There is a spiritual battle in the unseen World, the manifestations of which are enacted on Earth. There will be a time of tribulation for the Jewish people worse than anything hitherto. Jesus spoke of the same thing in Mat ch 24 v 21. It will last 3½ years. This is described as a time, times and half a time. Isaiah speaks of the same occasion as a Worldwide event in ch 24 v 17 -20. Resurrection of the bodies is introduced into Scripture. There will be rewards for those who serve the Lord. The impending end and terrible persecution of the Jews will not convince the wicked – those who are not believers. Nothing will convince them. Knowledge and travel will greatly increase at that time. There has never been such an explosion of knowledge. A large percentage of the scientists in the history of the World are alive today. Travel is widespread. The alternative translation is that many will pursue the prophecy and, with knowledge of the events around them, which Daniel could not know, the veil will be removed and the prophecy realised. As the time approaches events will aid the understanding.

There is a very specific countdown given. 1290 days from the end of the daily sacrifice and the horrible thing is set up in the Temple. Then another 45 days will elapse. 3½ years amounts to 1278 days. Antichrist will reign for a relatively short time. He will amaze the World. He will do great signs and wonders. There will be a time of great blessing after the time of Antichrist. v 13 suggests that Daniel will witness the days spoken about. Do the deceased see from Heaven what happens on Earth? There will be many conversions. The wicked are not necessarily “wicked” but simply hostile to God.

1. The Babylonian canvass is completed as is the Persian canvass, the Greek canvass and the Roman canvass. There is only 1 canvass now – the Antichrist.

2. The Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The Lord will manifest Himself in a manner, which will be utterly climactic for the World as it is known. It will obviously transcend all events in space and time hitherto experienced. It will be the final act of the divine presence, the culminating revelation of the majesty and transcendent glory of the triune God.

3. When mankind loses sight of the Second Coming of Jesus it slides downhill morally. It is profitable to remember it is coming.

4. Again man is given a look behind the scenes of what is happening in the unseen World. The occult is the name for the hidden things. God forbids a man to seek to enter the hidden World, except for specific moments. Satan gladly encourages a man to see what he should not see or hear, as he did with Eve, when he told her that she would be like God, knowing good and evil. That happens every time a man does something, which he knows to be wrong e.g. steal or lie. He loses his innocence in that area of his life.

5. Time of tribulation. Mat ch 24 v 21. Just before the end.

6. The coming of Jesus – the word means an unveiling. Every eye shall see. All will be revealed.

7. There is a very specific countdown. 3½ years after the Jews have been crushed. The abomination of desolation again set up. There are 3 references to it. Antiochus Epiphanes in 168 B. C. Titus in A. D. 70. Antichrist in the final days. New Age may forbid the worship of Jesus. All who are not tolerant will be persecuted. The body of a believer is the temple of the Holy Spirit. There may be a United Nations resolution or law. Then the countdown will begin.

8. Antichrist. He will make great claims. He will speak against God. 2 Thes ch 2 v 4. He will not serve any other idea of God except the god of fortressses – Zeus. It sounds like a New Age god but actually it is the god of the ancient Babylonian Mystery religion. There will be a confrontation with the King of the South. Could this be Islam? The armies of the east and north. Could this be China and Russia? Jordan seems to survive. She may seek protection from Israel against Arab fundamentalism. The King of the North could be secular humanism. Both secular humanism and Islam want to control the World.

9. Travel and education to be greatly increased – v 4. Those who are not saved will not believe it or be expecting the end of the World.

Daniel chapters 1-6

DANIEL.

As a book it is one of the most difficult to understand and yet one of the most relevant at the end of the age. The past determines the present and the present determines the future. The events relating to the Jewish people and Jerusalem foreshadow the events relating to the Christian Church and the end of the World. Who was Daniel? Why was he so special? What can be learned from Daniel’s experience? There is so much to be learned from his personal experience. What impact did Daniel have on the pagan World?

The book is not a chronology of events but a series of canvasses or pictures. The style of writing is like that in Revelation. The Hebrew writers followed a thought to the end and then went back and filled in the details. The central theme of the book is that God is in control of the events of the World and of mankind and that He judges all mankind. There are several parts.
The historical background.
The theme of the book.
Daniel the man and lessons from his life.
Contrast between Nebuchadnezzar – the man of the World and Daniel – the man of faith.
Interpretation. There are several canvasses.
1. The Babylonian Empire.
2. The Empire of the Medes and the Persians.
3. The Greek Empire.
4. The Roman Empire.
5. The Kingdom of God.
6. The Anti-Christ.
7. The Jewish people.
8. The end of the World.
9. Nebuchadnezzar.
10. Daniel the man.

The Bible is principally a book about salvation. The Bible is rooted in fact and is set in history – His story – and geography – His World. In order to have a better understanding of the message, it is necessary to know something of the history and geography concerning the four empires. God hammers out His message on the anvil of history. Daniel’s life spanned the 70 years of captivity in Babylon. It was not like enslavement or like the existence in the German concentration camps. The people led ordinary lives, rather like foreign workers in European lands today. Certain jobs were not open to foreign nationals. Much of their work would have been in the service industries and building work. The Jewish people had their own communities and retained their form of worship. The book, which is rich in symbolism and imagery, is self-contained, with a central theme and other minor themes. The central theme is found stated in Ch 2 v 20-22. God is universally sovereign over the events of the World and in His dealings with nations and in the lives of individuals. He is sovereign over the rise and fall of kings and nations. The powerful leaders were given the opportunity to revere God. This message is so relevant for the present century as one nation after another is experiencing turmoil and is threatened by terrorism and internal disintegration. The book holds out the prospect that the saints of the Most High will one day receive their inheritance – to rule with Jesus the kingdoms of the World. There are several lesser themes:
1. The Lord’s servants are often blessed with success.
2. The Lord’s servants are trusted with His secrets.
3. In times of suffering and trial, they have the comfort of His presence – as in the fiery furnace.
4. God is against the pride of man.
5. God is angry when His honour and glory is given to another.
6. God is full of compassion and mercy. He withholds His just judgement, if men repent.

As a believer in God, Daniel has to serve in a secular state, walking a careful path between loyalty to the king of the country and his loyalty to God. There are lessons for all believers from Daniel’s experience. It is like a tutorial class. The book, which spans the life of Daniel, contains prophecies to the Gentile nations throughout World history. Daniel was a contemporary of Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Ezra and Nehemiah.

Daniel was taken captive in the first wave of exiles from Judah. There was no point in wishing his life away. He got on with living and serving God in his situation. He lived in the centre of the most powerful empire the World had yet seen. Daniel lived through the last days of the Assyrian Empire, the whole period of the Babylonian Empire and into the early days of the Empire of the Medes and the Persians. Through it all his loyalty to God did not waiver. He is one of the greatest prophets of God. The first 6 chapters relate to events in the Babylonian Empire over a period of 70 years. The remaining chapters relate to a series of visions of future events. God had placed His man at the centre of the political life of the Empire to influence events. Thereafter Daniel lived in the days of Darius the Mede and Cyrus the Persian. The story of Esther is about the time of the end of Daniel’s life. It takes place in the Persian Empire and tells how Haman sought to kill all Jewish people.

Prophecy. When mankind loses sight of the Second Coming of Jesus, it plunges downhill morally – losing sight of the purpose of God in Christ and it loses touch with reality and the urgency of the situation. A prophet should have a newspaper in one hand and the Bible in the other. A vision in the Bible is an unveiling of what is happening spiritually. Hallucinations are the ideas of man. The test of the true prophet of God is that what he says comes to pass. There were always plenty false prophets – as there are today. Jeremiah had a real battle with the false prophets, who told people what they wanted to hear. Jer ch 5 v 31. False prophets fill the Church. The people love it. They like straw and not grain. In the New Testament there is twice as much exhortation to sound doctrine as to sound behaviour or conduct. What made Daniel a true prophet? Daniel got into the Word of God. He studied it diligently. He understood the present and the sin in the World on the part of his people and took the matter to God. Only those who understand what is in the Bible will be given prophecy for the future. There is no new doctrine to come or new prophecies to come. But those who have a hunger for the Word of God will be given a clearer understanding of what has already been revealed. Daniel was told to seal up the prophecy until the end of the age. Ch 12 v 9. There is both a partial fulfilment of prophecy, which is now history and one, which is yet to come.

The prophets must use the vocabulary of their day to express thoughts, which had never entered the mind of man. Thus they find means of calling by name peoples and countries, which would not come into being for centuries: e.g. John in Revelation referred to bombs as hailstones mixed with blood. Isaiah describes planes as horses flying with wheels like a whirlwind and roaring like lions and doves returning to their cots. Isaiah first foretold the captivity in Babylon.

A type is usually some person or thing, which actually lived or existed and which had a single counterpart or anti-type in the future. It is only like the anti-type in some respects. A symbol is the arbitrary use of one object to indicate another. Nations have always used symbols to depict themselves e.g. the British lion. It is possible for the same thing to be both a type and a symbol e.g. a lamb is symbolic and yet has certain qualities, which are like those of Christ. Heavenly things are not symbolised. As soon as the action leaves the Earth and passes into Heaven, the language becomes literal. The “Day of the Lord” denotes the end of the age.

“That day” indicates a change of subject to a new phase of the subject. Prophecies go back over the same ground to fill in detail. So Daniel’s various prophecies are the same but with additional detail. Where there is a story telling of a number of things happening at the same time, the events have to be told one at a time. This may make it seem as if one is following another in point of time. When prophets deal with a series of events, which overlap as to time, they indicate that fact by starting each separate subject with an expression like “in that day.” God told Abraham about the bondage in Egypt, the return and exactly how long it would be. Gen ch 15 v 12-16. Jeremiah predicted that the time in Babylon would be 70 years. Jer ch 29 v 10. Those prophecies, which reveal times, have the greatest impact on the minds of the hearers. Daniel had been a student of Jeremiah and was interested to know that the period of captivity was to end after 70 years. Even so, he still had to pray it through. The return from Babylon was only a partial return. Many Jews remained in Babylon. Judea – later named Palestine by the Romans – was never independent and the Jews did not have a reigning king. Not until 1948 was there an independent state of Israel. In the Scriptures one line followed those who returned and another followed those still in exile. Ezekiel was told about those who did not return. In the New Testament when there is mention of the last days, the writer takes the themes of the Old Testament and re-styles them for the Church – e.g. abortion is sacrificing babies to the false god Molech.

In its day Babylon was the greatest empire the World had known. Succeeding empires moved westward by degrees. Judea was always situated within one of the empires and lies at the centre of the Earth. For all that he was a great king, Nebuchadnezzar was foolish to expect people to interpret a dream, which he could not even remember.

Daniel used the occasion to tell the king about the real God. At the time the Babylonians worshipped images. So it is not surprising that the king saw an image in his dream. Daniel explained that there would be a succession of empires throughout history, weakening as time goes by and ending up with clay and iron toes. During the reign of the kings, God would set up an eternal kingdom – the Kingdom of God and Christ, which would last forever. The feet are the vulnerable part of the statue. The statue would crumble, if struck by the stone. Human government cannot stand up to God, if He decides to act. Daniel told the king that an empire inferior to his would conquer it. At that time Babylon was considered impregnable. It was walled, with a river running through it. It was not like Jerusalem, which had an unreliable water supply. Babylon was self-supporting and could not be starved to death. The whole idea of great Babylon being overthrown was ridiculous to Nebuchadnezzar. Some terrible things happened in the Babylonian Empire. People were fed to lions and thrown into fiery furnaces. In the twentieth century man has witnessed six million Jews shot or gassed to death and millions of unborn babies thrown into hospital incinerators.

For Daniel the situation was not a happy one. He had been a prince in Judah and would have had expectations of being King one day, with a family. He was living in exile as a eunuch and his people had failed God and been banished from their land. Perhaps he felt that God had called them to an impossible task and now the bondage of Egypt had been replaced by the bondage in Babylon. Was there any future for Israel? How was Daniel to cope with life in such difficult circumstances? He could only cope by faith in God and trusting Him whatever the circumstances. The vision from God must have been a great encouragement for him, even though as God revealed His secrets to Daniel it caused Daniel to faint. ch 10 v 9. There is a strong desire to know what the future holds. God has told man all he needs to know and he is to trust Him for the rest. 5% of horoscopes come true.

Daniel lived at a time when the World was at a crossroads. There was a crisis. Which way would it go? How should Daniel respond? How should man respond to a World, which is seeking a new way forward out of one crisis after another? Daniel by his prayers, more or less alone, changed the history of the World. The angel came in response to his words. Dan ch 10 v 12. Daniel understood the times he was in, and something of the purposes of God, whilst most others were in ignorance or darkness. He spoke out. He interpreted the words of God. Ch 5 v 25 and v 30. “Mene, mene, tekel, parsin” brought an empire to an end immediately.

The series of visions are basically the same thing, with different aspects of the vision added from time to time in later chapters. This is a style of Hebrew writing. They tell of four Empires succeeding one another. The Babylonians. The Medes and Persians. The Greeks. The Romans. A beast is a strong powerful thing. It was not surprising that the king should dream of an image, since the Babylonians worshipped images. The image is of 4 metals decreasing in value, while increasing in strength. As the pictures build up they progress from the general to the particular.

Four is the number for the World. In the end times the whole World will again revolve round these prophetic lands. There is nothing new under Heaven. Prophecy in the Bible tends to repeat the same story or events and then adds a new dimension to it. It is like an artist working on a number of canvasses at the same time touching up first one and then another.

Daniel lived through a period of intense political and military activity. In his early years the Assyrian Empire ruled in the Middle East. They had captured the Northern Kingdom of Israel. In 612 B. C. the Assyrian Empire came to an end. Nahum the prophet had prophesied the downfall of Assyria. The forces of the Medes and the Persians and the Babylonians combined to defeat the Assyrians. The capital was captured in 612 B. C. A third power – Egypt – tried to win some of the spoils but in 605 B. C. Nebuchadnezzar, the leader of the Babylonian army, defeated the Egyptian army at the battle of Carchemish. The influence of Egypt went into decline and the Babylonians rose as a military and political power in the region. Nebuchadnezzar became king in 605 B. C. and ruled for 43 years until 562 B. C. Daniel lived through the last days of the Assyrian Empire, through the life of the Babylonian Empire and into the early days of the Persian Empire.

Nebuchadnezzar attacked Judah, sacked Jerusalem and carried off a number of leading Jewish people into exile in Babylon. Amongst these were Daniel and Ezekiel. Jeremiah remained in Jerusalem. Ezekiel prophesied to those taken captive in Babylon. During the reign of Nebuchadnezzar Daniel rose to be a senior administrator in the Babylonian Empire. Daniel received a vision for the end times.

Lessons from the life of Daniel.
1. He did not fall apart when life became difficult. He got on and made the best of the circumstances. A bible, which is falling apart, usually belongs to someone who is not falling apart.
2. He was basically alone in all his decisions but he did have fellowship with a few others.
3. He knew his Scriptures.
4. He was available to God in his situation.

BABYLON.
The first beast was Babylon. Winged lions were a symbol of Babylon. The sea was not a friendly matter for the Jewish people. Horn is a symbol for a king or ruler. The eagle’s wings speak of the speed with which Nebuchadnezzar acquired his kingdom. The wings also speak of the greatness of Nebuchadnezzar, who ruled as an autocratic despot. He had power of life and death over his subjects and captives. The wings were plucked when God stripped Nebuchadnezzar of his power. Later when restored after acknowledging God, he was set on his feet again. Behind the rise of Babylon was the spirit of Babylon – one of pride and strength, still evident in Iraq today. Nebuchadnezzar had his name inscribed on the bricks of the pavements in ancient Babylon. Saddam Hussein, who rebuilt the ancient city of Babylon, had his name imprinted on the bricks of the new city. The spirit of Babylon is very much present in the World and is in marked contrast to the God of Israel, who taught His people to be humble and to find their strength in Him.

Babylon was considered impregnable, and it was self-supporting, so that it could not be starved out under a siege. It was walled with a river running through it. It was not like Jerusalem, which had an uncertain water supply. The idea of Babylon being overthrown was ridiculous to the Emperors of Babylon. The head of the image was of fine gold. Gold is the chief of the metals and the lion is the greatest of the beasts. Babylon was principally a military power, known for naked aggression. Habakkuk speaks of the Chaldeans or Babylonians and their fierce atrocities. Saddam Hussein was revered as a strong man, because he stood against the “Christian” Western powers and survived the first Gulf War, never mind that he brought misery to the people.

THE MEDES AND THE PERSIANS.
After Nebuchadnezzar was succeeded by his son Evil-Merodach. He was followed by his son Neglissar and then by his son Labosordacus. Then came King Nabonidus, who reigned from 555 B. C. to 539 B. C. He abdicated and appointed his son Belshazzar to be on the throne as a viceroy. It was on the night of the Feast in Babylon in 539 B. C. that Bablyon fell to the combined forces of the Medes and Persians. This empire arose at the time when Belshazzar was the king. The writing on the wall told Belshazzar that his time was up. The Persian ruler was Cyrus II and the Median ruler was Darius I. Cyrus changed the policies of the Babylonians towards the Jewish people and other captured peoples and allowed them to return to their homeland, if they wanted to. Most of the Jewish people remained where they were in Babylon. The first wave of Jews returned under the leadership of Zerrubbabel. Later waves returned under the leadership of Ezra and then Nehemiah. The seat of power moved east at that time to Susa in Persia. It was there that Xerxes or Ahazuerus ruled when Queen Esther and Mordecai appeared on the scene in the book of Esther.

The 70 years spoken of by Jeremiah was at an end and the numbering was complete. It was time for Judah to return to the land. Babylon had been numbered. The Babylonians had forgotten to close the gate of the city during a feast and the Medes and Persians entered and overran the city. The new empire was a divided empire – hence the two arms of the image. Nebachadnezzar’s empire was divided between them. Although inferior to Babylon, the Persians captured it. (Iran – Iraq war. The same principalities?) In chapter 8 the ram represents the Medes and Persians as they overran Babylon. In chapter 7 it is described as a bear. In the image of the man it is represented as a breast and arms of silver. It was a divided Empire, depicted by the two arms of the image.

Nebuchadnezzar’s Empire was divided between two peoples. It was inferior to the Babylonian Empire. Cyrus the Persian had formed an alliance with the Medes. There never was a dominant Median Empire as such. The Medes had collaborated with the Babylonians to get rid of the Assyrians and then with the Persians to get rid of the Babylonians. Then the Persians dominated the new united Empire as its seat of power moved to the West. The ram in chapter 8 and the two horns of the goat represent the Medes and the Persians as they overran the Babylonians. It has great power. The three ribs suggest three extra areas of domination – Egypt, Lydia and Babylon. This Empire arose 70 years after Daniel predicted in the dream and it lasted about 200 years. The Kurds today may be the successors of the Medes, which might explain the hatred of them by the former Babylonian leader Saddam Hussein.

GREECE.
The belly and thighs were of bronze. Greece is the third beast and it features in chapter 7 as a leopard. The empire made of brass. In Chapter 8 the he-goat represents Greece. It came on the scene and destroyed the Medes and Persians. The one horn – Alexander the Great – was a conspicuous leader. He overran the Medes and Persians as he moved swiftly eastwards, his feet hardly touching the ground. The four wings represent the four generals who followed Alexander. After he died four generals took his place, as the Empire was divided into four parts – Macedonia – Asia Minor – Syria – Cyrene (North Africa). Each part of the Empire was ruled by a general. One of the generals attacked Israel at the time of the Maccabean revolt. In verse 11 of chapter 12 there is mention of Antioch Epiphanes who defiled the Temple in Jerusalem. Although Greece was replaced as a military power by Rome, Greek thought was not replaced by the Roman Empire but featured in the Roman Empire. The Romans were a military and economic power but Hellenism (humanism) dominated the culture as it does in Western civilisation today.

ROME.
In the days of the Roman Empire God would carve out a new everlasting empire for Himself. The stone struck the iron and clay. Isaiah ch 28 v 16. The period covers from Daniel’s day to the end of Gentile dominion of the World. Jesus must have known this book well. He spoke of the Kingdom of God being near. It was what Daniel spoke about. Peter’s faith is the rock on which the kingdom would be built. Paul speaks about believers reigning with Christ. 1 Cor ch 15 v 24-28. All kingdoms will be subject to Christ. There was a response from Nebuchadnezzar. He fell down and worshipped Daniel. He should not have done this. Rev ch 19 v 10. Daniel was made Prime Minister.

Rome was the last Empire with the greatest emphasis on it. It lasted from 60 B. C. to 476 A. D. It was divided into East and West – the two legs of the image. The toes were of iron mixed with clay. It was exceedingly strong and ruled with an iron hand. It stamped on the residue when it scattered the Jews in A. D. 70. Iron shatters and crushes all things. Clay weakened the statue and caused the Roman Empire to break up. Rome has never fallen and been taken over by another empire, but it broke into many nations. The toes represent the different kingdoms and countries. Ten is a number, which indicates completeness and is not to be taken literally. There are many countries in the Roman Empire. Some will be strong and others weak or brittle. The Kingdom will mix with one another in alliances, but they will not hold together. Clay weakens the whole structure and causes the Empire to break up and prevents it coming back together again. Clay is the reason that every attempt at a United Nations of Europe has failed. The countries of Europe have been divided for 1,500 years. For the sake of political alliances rulers have intermarried but this has not brought peace among the countries. Ch 2 v 43. For 1,500 years the ten toes could not be wiped out nor united again into one Empire. The Roman Empire was different in that it was a republic. It has had no successor, but has been a collection of individual kingdoms and not a dictatorship. Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria were the only three nations of the old Empire to come under Russian domination. Now they are free. God has broken Russia to fulfil Daniel’s prophecy. Germany was partly in the original Roman Empire and partly out-with it. Southern Germany was within the Empire. Northern Germany juts out and comes up between the other nations. Germany still has a will to conquer. Today it is through the Euro.

The history of Germany is one of aggression, going back to the days of rivalry amongst individual states. Nazism is strong again in Germany and other European countries in the 21st century and there is a strong hatred of the Jewish people. Germany will dominate within the unified Europe, eclipsing Japan and U.S.A. The E. U. will be the biggest single economic unit in World trade. Germany will control that economic group. Therefore the man at the helm of Germany will in effect have a position of great power in the World. The Chancellor of Germany will wield the power in the material prosperity of the World. If there is a one World government then one man will be in that position of power at the head of the Government.

It is now conceivable that one man could in effect control the World. The World will wonder after the one World leader. Who is like the beast? If he could solve the mounting problems facing the World – like wars and food shortages and lack of water – like air and sea pollution – like deforestation – like economic problems – who would be like him? Many will see that it is preferable to have central control to ensure continuity of work. No longer can one country live independently of others around it. No one country is immune from the crisis in another country far away. The Pax Romana brought to the Roman Empire peace and stability at the expense of morality. Ch 8. The small horn is another nation coming out of the original nations of the Roman Empire and it pushes three others out of the way. That nation will have real power.

Rome was different from the other three empires in that, firstly, it was not succeeded and secondly, whereas the first three were ruled by dictators, Rome was ruled individually in the different nations within the Empire. There is always an inclination to break up, because of the clay. The King of the Roman Empire has made war on true believers in the past and will again during the last three and a half years of World history. By ch 12 only the Roman Empire is featured. The Anti-Christ comes onto centre stage.

God is in overall control, allowing what He will. Jesus is given authority by God over all the nations. The angel explains that the little horn warred against the saints and God’s people – the Jews. If Germany is the Little Horn, then Hitler was leader of the Little Horn and he waged war against the Jews in the Holocaust, even though they were not even in the war. The final leader of the Little Horn will persecute the saints. He will try to make right what is wrong, and wrong what is right. He will set up his own standards of right and wrong. It will be right to kill believers. They will be a troublesome people, spoiling the idea that the people are all gods.

When the Holy Spirit is pushed out of the Church, the Antichrist will have freedom to do as he chooses and there will be no one to stop him. Who speaks out today about moral matters affecting the nation? Where is the evidence of the Holy Spirit in the Church today? The Little Horn represents a man who will rule the new Kingdom and that man or his successor will be possessed by Satan himself. In a dictatorship the man stands for the nation. Eventually the man will become more important than the nation. Satan will use the leader of a nation in order to gain power and control for himself.

ANTI-CHRIST.
If there is a one-man government, then one man will dominate the World. Since the World is moving towards central control, it is conceivable that one man could dominate the World. There is the One Church movement and the One World movement – a New World Order. The World will wonder after the one World leader. At the beginning of the twenty first century there is a distinct lack of strong leaders in the nations of the World. The nations cry out for statesmen but only get politicians. The nations cry out for a strong leader who can deliver prosperity and stability. Who is like the Beast? If he could solve the problems of the World, who would be like him? The 3 other empires are still in existence. v 12. The eyes indicate intelligence – Satanic intelligence? A lot can be learned from the eyes of a person. Antichrist will have supernatural intelligence. The eyes reflect the inner man. He will brag and claim to save the World from disaster as an alternative Christ. He will be a master of intrigue, shrewd, deceitful and proud. The picture fits Antiochus Epiphanes who did the same things to the Jews in his days. The people were morally rotten. He will defy God and take Him on in battle. Zech ch 14 v 3. Jesus fights against him. The 2,300 days are literal and equal 61/2 years.

The prophecies lead to the point of the arrival of a man, who is the most sensational figure in prophecy. The whole World will wonder at him. He will continue to grow in power and arrogance until Christ comes. An arrogant people will admire his arrogance. In a dictatorship it is not necessary to distinguish between the dictator and the nation. The man soon becomes more important than the nation or all the nations. He becomes the empire. Eventually he becomes the embodiment of Satan himself. He has the will to conquer. The little horn is an absolute dictator. The little horn had eyes of a man and a mouth speaking great things – a bragging mouth. He will have Satanic intelligence. Ch 8 v 23. He will talk his way into power by flatteries, promises of peace and prosperity.

This king will make war on the saints and will prevail. He will speak against God. 2 Thes ch 2 v 4. He will not serve the gods of his father but will serve the god of fortresses – Zeus. A New Age god. This is the god of the Babylonian Mystery religion. There will be confrontation with the King of the South – is this Islam? Jer chs 50-52. The armies of the East and North could be China and Russia as they make a bid for World domination. The New Age Movement will come against any who will not be tolerant of others. Those who claim to have exclusive truth will be a source of trouble. They will seek to destroy the power of true religion. Germany has long wanted a return to paganism without the Hebrew God and to show that man is his own god. This accommodates the teaching of New Age very well. Satan will actually take over a man’s body, so that the little horn will become Satan incarnate – Anti-Christ. In times of difficulty a promise of peace and prosperity will be welcomed universally. Satan entered Judas for the big confrontation with Jesus. He will take over the person of the World leader in order to fulfil this task.

If at the same time Israel returns to her God and accepts Jesus as her Messiah, the battle lines will be drawn. They will be the leaders in moral and spiritual matters, opposing the materialistic solution offered by the Anti-Christ to the problems confronting the World. Satan has used Islam to try to wipe Israel off the face of the maps of the World. Anti-Christ will use the United Nations of the World to finish the task. There is a specific countdown. 31/2 years (42 months – 42 is the number in Scripture for the Devil) after the Jews have been crushed, the abomination will be set up. There are three references to it. First in 168 B. C. Antiochus Epiphanes. Second in 70 A. D. Titus. Third in the last days Anti-Christ. New Age may forbid the worship of Jesus. The body of a believer is the temple of the Holy Spirit. There may be a United Nations resolution or law passed. Then the countdown will begin.

Satan can be in only one place at a time. He can send his demons to do his work but he cannot possess more than one person at a time. He entered into Judas and attempted to triumph over Jesus. He failed, of course, in that Jesus rose from the dead. Satan will come again to possess the Anti-Christ. He will take over the person of the World ruler – the most powerful man in the World – in order to fulfil his task. The New Age Movement features in destroying the power of true religion. The willingness of Israel to exchange hundreds of prisoners for one hostage shows a commitment and concern for the life of one individual. What will Israel be like when the nation is converted? Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39 mention Gog and Magog. The battle of Armageddon has still to take place.

THE KINGDOM OF GOD.
During the days of the Roman Empire there would arise God’s Kingdom, created supernaturally by the birth of the child born not of man but of the Holy Spirit. King Jesus is the Son of Man. The Kingdom of God is the rule of God in the hearts of men. This Kingdom, which is in the midst of the others Empires, would last forever and would shatter the kingdoms of this World. As man chooses for his symbols things of value, like gold and silver, so God chooses a valueless rock or stone, which is despised by those who like precious metal. The stone represented Him, who was despised and rejected. Psalm 118 v 22. Similarly when man wants an emblem for his empire he chooses a strong animal like a lion or a bear. God chose as a symbol a lamb – weak and helpless, able to survive only by God’s grace. There is another contrast. In God’s Kingdom, the saints worship the King instead of cowering in fear of the emperor. When the books are opened there will be a day of reckoning when every action will be exposed and dealt with by the judge of mankind.

THE JEWISH PEOPLE.
Like a thread running through tapestry, the history of the Jewish people runs through the history of the several empires. The people start off in captivity in Babylon. At the beginning of the Empire of the Medes and Persians some Jews return to the land of Judah. The vast majority stay outside of the land. During the days of the Greek and Roman Empires there is a deepening longing on the part of the Jews to be free of occupying forces and to run their own affairs.

When Jesus arrived on the scene during the days of the Roman Empire, born the King of the Jews, there was an expectation that He will be a leader of a revolution against the Romans. It is the one charge laid at the door of Jesus, which concerned the Romans – that is – treason. When Pilate had Jesus killed he directed that above the cross should be placed the words – “King of the Jews.” So Jesus died King of the Jews. He rose as King of the Jews and is still King of the Jews. In Acts ch 1 v 6 the Disciples asked Jesus if He would at that time restore the Kingdom to the Jews. Jesus replied that the matter was in the timing of His Father. It was Ezekiel who prophesied that the Jews would be a nation again like other nations after 2,520 years. This came to pass on 10th May 1948. In the final phase of World history the Jewish people are back on centre stage of World politics. Jesus prophesied that Jerusalem would be downtrodden until the days of the Gentiles are fulfilled. Jerusalem came under Jewish rule in June 1967 A. D for the first time since 586 B. C.

THE SECOND COMING OF JESUS.
The Lord Jesus will manifest Himself in a manner, which will be utterly climactic for the existence of the World. It will obviously transcend all events in time and space hitherto experienced. It will be the final act of the divine presence, the culminating revelation of the majesty and transcendent glory of the triune God. Revelation gives a peep behind the scenes of what is happening in the unseen World. There is a spiritual battle going on between the forces of good and the forces of evil. The Devil is very active. The battle will have physical manifestations n Earth as there will be a time of tribulation such as the World has never known. Jesus said this. The occult is simply the name for the hidden things. God forbids man to enter the hidden World, except for specific moments. Faith is the only safe door by which a man may enter. Satan gladly encourages man to see what he should never see or hear – as he did with Eve, when he told her that she should be like God, knowing good and evil. That happens every time a man does something, which he should not do e.g. stealing or lying. A man loses his innocence in that area and gives Satan a foothold.

At the final stage of World history all the four Empires are still in existence. Yet God is in overall control of the affairs of the World from the beginning of time until the very end. The central message is that fallen man needs a saviour to restore his relationship with God. Astrology, E.S.P and others are Satanic counterfeits of spiritual gifts. The counterfeits even get into the Church. Ch 12 v 4. Daniel and revelation are sealed. Only the Holy Spirit can decipher for man. Only those who diligently seek after God will find out the meaning. Ch 12 v 10. A man needs to be refined and purged before God will allow him to understand the meaning. If a man does not understand the basic truths, how will he ever understand the hidden truths in Daniel? Neh ch 1 v 4. Revival follows on weeping for the sins of the people – not laughter. No revival ever began with other than weeping for sins.

CHAPTER 1.
Daniel was taken into captivity. Hab ch 1 v 6-11. The year of his arrival was 605 B. C. Joseph was taken into captivity in Egypt but God used the situation to His advantage. He raised up Daniel to be His instrument of grace in the Empire – to remind the World of His presence. Daniel did not bemoan his lot but got on with the task of living and serving God where he was.

A man need never feel that when he is in difficulties that God cannot use those difficulties to His advantage and for His purpose. Believers become caught up in the problems of others, within a family, Church or even a nation. No man is an island. Yet they can learn more about God through their suffering than they might otherwise do when they are perfectly healthy.

Shinar is the cradle of civilisation. Babylon. Gen ch 10 v 10. Babel was the first city. The culture was noted for astral studies. The wise men, who saw the star in the east and went to Bethlehem, were from this culture. The Jewish names linked them to God. They ended in “el” or “iah”. The Babylonian names linked them to the Babylonian gods – Bel and Marduk. “Daniel” means God is my judge.

God uses all kinds of people. Daniel was one of the more intelligent ones. He will use anyone who is willing. Daniel was regarded highly by God. Ezekiel ch 14 v 14. Daniel was in the same category as Noah and Job. Praise indeed. The chief of the eunuchs was used as an instrument of blessing to God’s children. God still uses non-believers to further His purposes and to bless His people. Cyrus and Gorbachev have both been used to let the people of Israel go. There was no one of God’s people involved. Over the question of the food, the chief of the eunuchs put his job on the line. He bent the rules out of mercy. Perhaps a boss, a teacher, a policeman or a judge will bend the rules to help a believer along life’s road. Believers should make sure that they recognise God behind the move and give Him thanks.

Daniel applied common sense and asked for time to see if the change of food made any difference. He did not overstate his claim. The food involved was probably food, which was specifically forbidden in Leviticus. They did not drain away the blood when they killed animals. A good diet is vital for spiritual health. They proved that they were fitter than the others. Obedience over the issue of food led to wisdom. It need not be a huge issue but one, which matters and calls for obedience. It is the little foxes in the vineyard, which spoil the vines. It is not a bargain with God, but blessings do follow on obedience. Daniel received a special gift from God to interpret dreams. It was a supernatural gift. The demonically inspired magicians and astrologers received a certain supernatural power from Satan but even their power was limited. God’s powers were greater. Daniel went along with the studies unless they contradicted the word of God. At the same time as Nebuchadnezzar gave orders to kill all the wise men who had failed him, he was sending out his troops to sack Jerusalem. Jer ch 52 v 12-14. Satan was using him to destroy life both in Babylon and elsewhere.

CHAPTER 2.
Dreams. Job ch 33 v 15. Dreams are usually used by God to warn people. Mat ch 2 v 12-13. The wise men and Joseph were warned by God. He takes advantage of the subconscious to speak to man. v 20-22 states the key theme of the book. World events are under His control. The pagan philosophers failed to tell the dream. Gen ch 41 v 8. There are a number of instances in Scripture where people make ridiculous demands or statements. This is one. In human terms what he was asking was impossible. It was also unjust to kill them for failing to deal with the dream. Satan gives his demons certain supernatural powers but these powers are limited by God. Astrology, sorcery and divination were common in Babylon. Saddam Hussein called on such people to help him in the first Gulf War. President Reagan of the United States consulted astrologers. God’s servants should have greater powers, if they come from God and if they are used for the glory of God. Gen ch 40 v 8. Interpretations belong to God.

v 13. Daniel was caught up in the problem. Believers are often caught up in the problems of others. The business may close. A class may be kept late. A road accident, e.g. a pile up, may involve others. Disease may be passed on to innocent people. Daniel was due to be killed. Daniel made enquiries to get to the root of the problem. It is important to find out what is the bottom line, causing the problem. Sin is at the root of all problems and all problems are basically spiritual in their nature. Then Daniel acted. He consulted the others in the group. It is wise not to deal with difficult matters alone. There is a danger of pride creeping in. There is greater credibility in a number acting. It avoids error. God knows everything. Why not ask Him? God told Daniel. It is not known quite how it happened, but obviously it did. Daniel praised God for His grace. It is all grace. There are mysteries beyond man’s understanding. God knows all the hidden things. The word “occult” means the hidden things. Daniel gives the glory to God and explains that the secret revealed is for the king’s benefit. Daniel did not just seek his own life or the lives of his companions but saved all the wise men, who were, after all, and especially later, his enemies. Truly Daniel did good to his enemies.

CHAPTER 3.
Time elapsed and Nebuchadnezzar forgot about the presence of God. The erection of the great image was an attempt by Nebuchadnezzar to unify the religions of his empire by self-deification. Isaiah ch 46 v 6. This attempt will be repeated in the last days. Rev ch 13 v 11-15 and ch 19 v 20. Leaders of men have been doing the same ever since. Lenin, Stalin etc. Power goes to their head. It is a comfortable feeling when everybody does the same thing and no one challenges the ruler. The enemies of the Jews made sure that their refusal was noted. When believers stand out there is always someone ready to point it out, in an effort to make the believers feel uncomfortable. Doeg the Edomite is always ready to take advantage. Again Nebuchadnezzar had made a ridiculous decision, without thinking it through and found himself in a mess.

He knew how valuable these men were to him and what service they had rendered to him. Darius did the same thing with Daniel and the lions’ den. There were spiritual forces behind the scenes orchestrating the attack on the Jews. Babylon was a place of demons. Rev ch 18 v 2. Darkness came over the face of Nebuchadnezzar. It was an evil spirit, which drove him to kill the Jews. Their reply was polite but definite. What would a man say today? It was the lesser three men who were picked out. Where was Daniel? Obviously not worshipping the image. Did the accusers leave him out because they were afraid of him or thought that the king would not kill Daniel? Innocent people were killed as a result – the soldiers. There was no guarantee that the three would survive. Some believers die and others are saved. God works out His own purpose. Who was the fourth man? Jesus. Was it a theophany – an appearance of Christ in the Old Testament? Did the three hear the word of God in Psalm 27 v 1-2 and Isaiah ch 43 v 2. “You will walk through the fire and not be burned and the flame shall not consume you.” Heb ch 11 v 33 suggests that it was by faith that they were saved from the fire. Nebuchadnezzar relented again. Even then the king made another rash and foolish statement. There was no understanding on the part of Nebuchadnezzar about grace. He may have recognised the power of God but presumably he thought of this as only a local god of the Jews. Some believers see Jesus as superior to other gods but behind all other gods are demons. Obedience by the three men brought forth blessing in the form of promotion. A great deal of trouble is caused by religious disagreement. It would save a lot of trouble if all the religions could be unified. Daniel and his companions would not compromise. They reached their sticking point. After the fiery furnace Nebuchadnezzar was forced to recognise God a second time. The furnace was probably used for baking bricks. There are always signs and wonders when God is at work. What effect did the miracle have on the officials present when the three came out unharmed? When the three men came out of the fiery furnace there was not even a smell of burning on their clothes but something had been burned off in their crisis in the fire – the ropes, which bound them. Many believers still have things, which cling to them and from which they need to be set free – rejection, shame, inferiority, jealousy, anger and others.

The English says that the statue was 60 cubits high and 6 wide. In Aramaic there is a play on words. It is all the sixes – 666 – the symbol for fallen man. All the images in Daniel point to the Anti-Christ figure at the end of time. Certain Jews would not bow the knee. Many did bow the knee but those who are concerned for the ways of God will not bow the knee to Satan. How quickly man forgets the blessings of God. The thoughts and imaginations are only evil continuously. In other words they have no worthwhile thoughts. The Jews are always in trouble and blamed for everything they do. Satan will point a believer out whenever he stands apart. The soldiers suffered in the fire. Others are sometimes hurt. If a person takes a stand for evil and becomes involved in evil activities, he may be destroyed as part of the enemy’s plan. Watch your company. Proverbs ch 13 v 20. How quickly Nebuchadnezzar forgot about God.

Nebuchadnezzar had a problem with his image. It was related to pride. Pride wants others to come and admire. In the World image is so important. Sound bites give out an image. Politicians and businessmen are very conscious of presenting an image to the World around them. What others think is important as it results in votes and profits. A slave is not too concerned about image. Religious people are also concerned about image. Mat ch 6 v 5. Clothes matter to religious people and to young people. They are more concerned what others think about them rather than what God thinks about them. People need to feel a sense of worth and achievement. Anyone who rejects the standards of the World is not welcome. Refusal to conform brings criticism and Nebuchadnezzar could not handle criticism.

This story fits the theme of the book – God is in total control of the affairs of the World. Nebuchadnezzar thought that he was in control, but he could not destroy these men, if God chose to save them. So God demonstrated His power and control over the affairs of men and rulers and did so publicly before the most important men in the Empire.

CHAPTER 4.
It is clear that Nebuchadnezzar knew about God, yet he still tried his astrologers first. Ex ch 7 v 11. Believers today will try everything before turning to God in their situation. Pain is a warning from God that something is wrong. Today there are people called futurologists. The prophecy of Isaiah ch 47 v 12-13 had come true. Nebuchadnezzar had only head knowledge about God. His life style had not changed.
v 27 is a warning to all. It is all too easy to talk about and not do the words of God. The Bible is like a mirror. Man sees himself reacting as Nebuchadnezzar did.
v 19. Daniel had to speak out the truth and he knew that it would hurt. There are all sorts of reasons for not speaking in a given situation. Reading Daniel is like a tutorial situation. Who would have done what Daniel did? v 34. God can clearly work in a disturbed mind. Nebuchadnezzar was restored. Hostages were kept in their right mind by the grace of God. Is anything impossible for God? An insane person should never be written off. Nothing is impossible for God. Jesus cast out demons. The most effective witnesses are those, whose lives are patently bad in the eyes of the World, provided there is an effective and apparent change in life style. v 30. The good he does he puts down to himself. The bad, he blames on others. The World is sustained by grace. Heb ch 1 v 3. In His judgement of Nebuchadnezzar God shows mercy. The same pattern is seen in Adam and Eve, Cain, and Jonah. There is always a word of judgement and a word of mercy. Blessings and curses go hand in hand. God humbles the proud. A mighty king was reduced to wandering about like an animal. This need not have happened, if Nebuchadnezzar had responded to the earlier encounter with God. How many disappointments would have been avoided, if people had only dealt with sin at an earlier stage in life. Man brings so much distress on himself through disobedience.

An extraordinary testimony from Nebuchadnezzar. It refers to one of the central themes. God judges the proud man. Daniel had been named after one of the gods of Babylon – Bel. Jer ch 50 v 2. Daniel was referred to as chief of the magicians and not as uniquely in touch with God. v 18. Nebuchadnezzar was a polytheist and believed in many gods, of whom God was but one. Daniel was His man. Daniel seems to have been the last choice. Perhaps the king was deluding himself and was trying to find a more favourable answer than he knew Daniel would give him. So often man turns to God after all else has failed him. Again the dream is used as a warning.

God used the same vision or dream to tell Ezekiel that the pride of Egypt would be brought low. Ez ch 31 v 3-6. Jesus used the opposite idea to convey what God would do. A mustard seed would grow to be a tall tree. Mat ch 13 v 32. Archaeology confirms that there was much to be proud of in the days of Babylon. The sin was in attributing the success to self and not to God. Other cases have been known when a person in a disturbed state of mind believed that he was an animal. The period of punishment was a definite limited time, fixed by God. The king was to get his kingdom back when he acknowledged God. Daniel gave him some advice in v 27. This is a dangerous thing to do. The same advice is given by most of the prophets. Ez ch 18 v 21.

Daniel was alarmed. v 19. Some of the things, which happen to believers, alarm them when they realise the seriousness of the situation and the fact that God’s wrath still rests on mankind. Immorality will have its consequences. Aids is one of them. In v 30 pride just burst out of the king. He was consumed with it.
“Look what I have done.” God through Jeremiah confirms that He was the one who enabled Nebuchadnezzar. Jer ch 27 v 6-8. Judgement fell upon him. God had been gracious and allowed him a full year to reflect on what Daniel had said to him in the interpretation of the dream. Pride came before a fall. Like the prodigal son, he came to his senses and returned to God. God graciously restored him. He had learned the lesson – God brings low the proud man. Let those boast that they know God. Jer ch 9 v 23-24. It is doubtful if Nebuchadnezzar exercised faith in God. Probably he acknowledged Him as one of many gods. Habakkuk ch 1 shows the nature of the Chaldeans.

CHAPTER 5.
In the year 539 B. C. Belshazzar was the son of Nabonidus, a usurper. Nabonidus was the last true king of Babylon. He retired to Arabia early in his reign, leaving Belshazzar acting king. Therefore Daniel was 3rd in line after Nabonidus and Belshazzar. (556-539 B. C.) Nebuchadnezzar was probably Belshazzar’s grandfather on his mother’s side. The word “son” does not mean exactly that in Hebrew. Jesus was termed the “son of David”, although many generations intervened. It means that He was the heir of David.

Recent archaeological finds have confirmed that Belshazzar was a real person. He does not appear to know about Daniel. The Queen-mother reminds him that Daniel has great powers but again speaks about him as a man with the spirit of the gods. He was linked with the religious people. The banquet. Women ate separately – as in Esther, where Queen Vashti was banished to a separate room. Esther ch 1 v 9. Daniel resisted the trappings of reward for what God would do through him. Man likes to pour rewards on those who achieve in the Worldly sense. The honours list. Daniel knew that it was due to grace and refused to take any credit. Healing is due to God. Man is not entitled to receive the credit. God did it – not Daniel.

Intelligent people cannot always read the signs of the times. Sin darkens their understanding. They often delude themselves, coming to believe what they want so badly to happen. Those who are in touch with God see things in the spiritual realm, which others do not see (realise). Daniel demonstrated the grace and power of God by reference to the life of Nebuchadnezzar. God is in control of the World and the lives of everyone in the World. v 22. Belshazzar knew this, yet did not honour God. Pride would not let him admit it. He defied God, despite all the evidence facing him. Real prophets are not out for personal gain. They love the truth.

The bringing in of the Jerusalem cups was symbolic of defiance of God in the same way as Nebuchadnezzar’s outburst of pride in ch 4 v 30. Psalm 115 v 5- 6. Idol worship is sheer foolishness. What is worse, Belshazzar made the others to sin. The leaders of a nation are responsible for the people – as when Parliament passes a law against God’s declared order, it makes the people to sin.

Headmasters, directors, governors, ministers and parents all may lead the people for whom they are responsible to do what they would not otherwise do. Leaders who make the people to sin have a greater responsibility. The sins of the father are visited on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who do not love and honour God. Good people cannot escape the wrath of God, whom they do not acknowledge. There is a day of judgement for all men – kings and murderers. Despite Daniel’s protestation the king drapes him in a purple robe. He was obviously not listening to Daniel or prepared to accept what he said. Even as the feast took place the enemy armies were taking the city. Satan is at work while the Church sleeps. The attackers diverted the river, which flowed through Babylon and entered along the bed of the dry river. Isaiah ch 13 v 22. The total destruction of Babylon took place. Rev ch 9 v 20. The division is between those who repent and those who do not.

CHAPTER 6.
Daniel had lived a godly life and risen to the top of his career. Jealousy is never far from the surface of life. Others wanted the success of Daniel without the godly life he had striven for. Psalm 59 v 3. Daniel was without fault. Politicians plot and scheme for power. Leaders are ousted by men in grey suits. Alliances are made in secret. v 12. Those who do not conform to the majority are regarded as a nuisance. They upset others. Not buying raffle tickets can upset others. There is a certain pointing of the finger involved. Esther ch 3 v 8. They went for the jugular. Daniel’s loyalty to God. The empire was ruled by the law. The rule of law was sacred and for the Medes and Persians it was their god. v 8. Esther ch 8 v 8. There also the rule of law could not be broken, even though lives were at stake. It is hard for people to admit that they are wrong. Daniel had a duty to God, which clashed with the law of the land. “Render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar and render unto God that which belongs to Him.” Did Jesus have this situation in mind when the trick question was presented to him? There is always a degree of vulnerability in that God cannot be proved to those who deny His existence. Again it was foolish for the king to sign such a decree. What was he thinking about? Did pride get in again? King Xerxes did the same thing in Esther. Mordecai made Haman jealous. Esther ch 3 v 11.

“Do what you like with them.” Jer ch 38 v 5. King Darius realised what a fool he had been. Daniel could have prayed in secret. Even so Daniel knew that the time of the end of the captivity was near. However, he did not organise a praise meeting. He prayed earnestly. Without prayer there would be no return, despite what God had said. Daniel grasped that fact. It is a mystery. Daniel was caught up in the goings of God. He set things in motion in the unseen World. Solomon had prophesied that if God’s people humbled themselves and prayed, then He would bring them back.

Daniel opened the shutters on the west side of his house facing Jerusalem. Psalm 37 v 39. Prayer on knees is symbolic of a humble attitude. Hell was disturbed by Daniel’s prayers. He was 80/85 years old at the time. The plot trapped Daniel but he knew that the lions were not the worst thing, which could happen to him. Stopping the prayer ministry was worse. Daniel knew how much God wanted it done. He put God’s interests first and left the supernatural actions to God, instead of trying to act like a superman and claim what God would do. As a result God was glorified. It was not a question of fate or chance but of exercising his will and being prepared for whatever came. How often does man take time to ask a question of God: “What do you want me to do in this situation?”

Daniel and his companions each faced a different type of persecution. It is unthinkable today that people should have been fed to lions or burned to death. But babies are put in hospital incinerators. Dog fighting is allowed. Children are being mauled by dangerous dogs and little is done to tackle the problem. The stone over the den is reflected in Mat ch 27 v 66. A stone was placed over Jesus’ grave. Faith stopped the mouths of the lions. Heb ch 11 v 33. Did Daniel hear Psalm 37 v 39.

v 16. “May God help” as he threw Daniel in. “God bless.” Do people really mean it? It may be a casual remark. The king seems to have been split down the middle with compromise. Herod did the same thing in Mark ch 6 v 26. He fell out with both sides also and John lost his head. Herod lost respect. In contrast Daniel did not compromise. As a result he could face both God and the king. He finished the whole sorry mess by throwing the others in, thereby compounding the problem. It could all have been resolved if he had said: “no” in the first place. Man often creates a mess by indecision and compromise. If he says one thing to one and another to a second person, he finds himself unable to look either in the face. Man reaps what he sows. Psalm 54 v 5. Like Haman, who was hanged on his own gallows, the others were thrown to the lions. The message of Obadiah is: “As you do to others, so it will be done to you.” There was a certain measure of justice. They showed no mercy to Daniel, even when the king clearly wanted to be free. They in turn received no mercy. In Persia the relatives of a guilty man were punished with him. Daniel gave God the glory. By crying “cheat” the satraps were denying the miracle. They looked for another explanation. They claimed that the lions had been fed before Daniel went into the den. Many deny the miracles of Jesus and say “No” to Jesus. Daniel owed a duty to God, which clashed with his duty to the law of the land. The Persians worshipped the law, which was more important to them than the truth itself. It was not enough to have Daniel removed from office; they wanted rid of him altogether. He reminded them of God. Behind it all was Satan at work. The people of the World want rid of the Jewish people today. The Jewish people remind the people of the World of the God from whom they are running and hiding.

Daniel saw the people back in Judea but he did not go with them. The Angel came to minister to him. It had been heavy going, because the angel had been delayed. Spiritual forces were out to destroy the purposes of God. Believers have to be involved. Daniel knew that the battle was against principalities and powers and not flesh and blood. The intercessory prayer is conceived by the Spirit of God in the believer.