Today we find ourselves in a great, turbulent and cold sea of discontent, hatred and malice. It is a great stew of political corruption, extreme greed and craving for power on the one hand; and retreat, withdrawal and introversion on the other. The former are seeking greater and greater opportunities to further their own particular desires, at any expense; while the latter are drugging themselves, legally or illegally, out of their misery in an effort to escape and avoid the problems and disillusion they believe they cannot or are unwilling to face. The former group represents the godless workings of the powerful Ahirmanic Spirits whose god is power and self-aggrandizement; while the latter represents the activities of the Lucifer Spirits, who demand the harvest without sowing and the goal without making any effort to obtain it. The rest of us are stuck in the middle, searching for a lifeline to grasp; something to prevent us from drowning in this terrible sea of bitterness and sorrow. These are very difficult times and the clouds on the horizon betray the coming of further storms of disillusion and despair; maelstroms of poverty, famine, pestilence, plague and death. We desperately need to find and grasp this lifeline; to hold it fast while all else falls away to rack and ruin.
Many suspect we are in what the Bible calls the End Time or the Time of Tribulation. Let us read from Martrhew23:4-14 in order to understand if this is so. Here Jesus answers and says, “Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying ‘I am Christ’ and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that ye be not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you; and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many; and because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure into the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come”. Thus it appears that most of this has already come to pass, or is in the process of becoming.
Let us investigate further. If we examine the Book of Daniel, we find that Chapters 2 through 7 were written for the Gentile Nations, while Chapters 8 through 12 were written for the Nation of Israel. In Chapter 2, we find the story of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and Daniel interpretation thereof. We can see the prophesized successive decline of kingdom after kingdom until, finally, the last kingdom is “partly strong and partly fragile”. Daniel goes on to say that those who are strong and those who are fragile will mingle together, but will not adhere to one another. Then he says, “And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever”.
Chapter 3 describes the golden idol made by the king, together with his decree that all should fall down and worship the idol when they hear music. And it tells how Daniel’s friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego trusted God and refused to worship the image and were then cast into a fiery furnace as a result. Daniel reports that, upon looking into the furnace, King Nebuchadnezzar said, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God”. Thereupon, the three men were released from the furnace unharmed.
Chapter 4 is devoted to the concept that even the greatest of all men can be humbled by God and made to suffer until he realizes that God is King, that “His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation. He does according to His Will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth.”
In Chapter 5, Belshazzaar, son of King Nebuchadnezzar, has become king. He orders the vessels of gold and silver, taken from the temple in Jerusalem, to be brought to him for use of himself, his lords, his wives and his concubines. They praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone. In the same hour a man’s hand appeared, writing on the wall, and the king was fearful. He called his astrologers, the Chaldeans and the soothsayers. None could read it! Daniel was summoned and agreed to interpret the writing without recompense. He tells Belshazzar of the greatness of his father, King Nebuchadnezzar, and how God humbled him when he was full of pride; how he came to eat grass with the beasts of the field until he KNEW THAT THE MOST HIGH GOD rules in the kingdom of men, and appoints over it whomever he chooses. Although Belshazzar knew all this, Daniel told him that he had lifted himself up against the Lord of Heaven, drank from the vessels of His house and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone, which do not see or hear or know, and the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified. The interpretation of the handwriting was, “God has numbered your kingdom and finished it. You have been weighed in the balances and found wanting. Your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” That night Belshazzar was slain.
Chapter 6 somewhat reflects Chapter 2, but this time Daniel is involved. It tells of Daniel’s promotion to governor, under Darius the Mede. All the governors, administrators and satraps, the counselors and advisors devised a plan against Daniel; namely, a kingly decree forbidding petitioning any god or man for 30 days, except for the king, under penalty of being thrown into a den of lions. Naturally, Daniel did pray, as was his custom, and was found guilty and put into the den. But God sent His angel to shut the mouths of the lions because God found him not guilty. The next morning King Darius released Daniel from the lion’s den and threw in those who had accused Daniel, and their families along with them. Thus, they were all slain. Then King Darius made a wise decree which stated that, “In every dominion of my kingdom men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel; for He is the living God, and steadfast forever; His kingdom is the one that shall not be destroyed; And his dominion shall endure until the end. He delivers and rescues; And He works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, Who has delivered Daniel from the power of the lions”. Here Daniel once again makes the point that all who love God and live in accordance with His laws shall be saved.
Chapter 7, the final chapter devoted to the Christians, relates Daniel’s dream. It is deeply symbolical and discusses four beasts that arise from the sea. Daniel later explains that they represent four kingdoms that arise from the earth. The fourth kingdom is different from the others and will devour the whole earth. The ten horns of this beast are ten kings who shall arise from this kingdom. Another king shall arise after them, who is different yet again, and will subdue three of them. This last king will speak pompous words against the Most High and shall persecute His saints and shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand for a time, and times, and half a time. Ultimately this kingdom is taken away forever and replaced by an everlasting kingdom of the people, the saints of the Most High.
In Chapters 8 through 12 Daniel makes supplication to God for mercy and forgiveness for the wrong-doing of his people, Israel. He has visions and angelic visitation explaining that God is demanding that transgression be finished and to make reconciliation for iniquity. He is told it will be 70 weeks from the command to restore and build Jerusalem until the time of the Messiah, and that after 62 weeks the Messiah shall be cut off. Then he talks about the people of a prince who is yet to come, who shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood. And till the end of the war, desolations are determined. Then this prince will make a treaty for one, week, but in the middle of the week he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations, shall be one who makes desolate. Daniel continues to have visions and angelic visitation to explain these visions, resulting in Daniel’s account of wars all around Israel. Finally, in Chapter 12, comes a prophecy of a “Time of Great Trouble such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered; every one who is found written in the book. Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake; some to everlasting life and some in shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever.” Daniel was also told, “Many shall be purified, made white and refined, but the wicked do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand.”
Then, how can we be numbered with the wise? To whom can we turn for wisdom and truth? If we look at Isaiah 9:6, we may read: ”For unto us a child is born; unto us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder. And his name will be called Wonderful Counselor,….”. We know this speaks of Christ Jesus, long before he came into the material world. Those of mankind who believed his words, and lived them, were brought from barbarism to loving unity. They were numbered among his friends. Jesus said, “Not every one who saith unto me, ‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of My Father, which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, “Lord, Lord have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works?’ And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Therefore, whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock”. It is the Christ who told us to “love God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” and to “love thy neighbor as thyself”. This is the basic formula for eternal life.
It is Christ Jesus who did all things for us, for he loved us, taught us, healed us and even died for us. The Scriptures tell us that he prayed for us, “that they all might be one; as You, Father, are in me, and I in You, that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent me. And the glory which You gave me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one. I in them and You in me; that they may be made perfect in one and that the world may know that you have sent me, and have loved them as you have loved me.”
Let us examine some of the words of Christ Jesus which summarize this theme. “For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world, I am the bread of life; he that cometh to me shall never hunger and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. And He that sent me is with me; the Father has not left me alone; for I do always those things that please Him. Verily, verily, I say unto you, if a man keepeth my saying, he shall never see death. I am the resurrection, and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die. Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world”. The Christ is our lifeline.
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