Do you have a grudge? Against someone, something, even against God? Universities don’t have classes on Grudges 101. Politics won’t solve this. It’s another one of those hideous, hellish, often fatal proclivities of human beings worldwide: to be naturally inclined to harbor and hold grudges. A grudge is the opposite of forgiveness and it’s a deadly sin. It’s even more deadly than many since it’s so often accepted and seen to be “just a part of life” by the vast majority of people everywhere.

The exact definition of “grudge” is: “a persistent feeling of ill will or resentment resulting from a past insult or injury.” Sound familiar? Well, it’s one of the most persistent, common maladies of our human condition and it’s damaging in the extreme. You can be a kid and have a grudge against your parents. You can have a grudge against anybody and anything: the way you are made, the family you were born into, mistreatment by your boss, your girlfriend, your teacher or God Himself.

Why is it so bad? Almost invariable it can quickly become the main thing in your heart, what so many of your thoughts revolve around and settle back to. The words of your mouth are tinged with hate and bitterness because of that grudge you’ve allowed to spring up in your heart.

“Mark, give us a break! You’re always saying stuff like this, always hard on people! You expect too much, Mark! Look, friend, the world is full of a– h—s. And I’m not going to let anybody treat me like they do. If I don’t do it to them first, they’ll do it to me! That’s just the way things are, Mark. Get a life!”

Is it safe to say that the majority of the world thinks like that? Probably. So what’s wrong with me? Why don’t I just accept that we live in a jungle where it’s “kill or be killed” and reacting to wrongs by accepting a hateful grudge to take over my soul and mind is just how things work in this world. “Get over it!”, like people say nowadays.

If there was no God, no Satan, no afterlife and no Savior, the man Christ Jesus, then that would I suppose be the only choice we have. But it isn’t. There is a God, there is an afterlife, and there is a judgment both in this world and the world to come for our words and deeds. Keep-your-heartAnd there is a Savior, the Man who went about everywhere doing good, Jesus of Nazareth. And one of the most important lessons He and the other men of God have taught us over the centuries was summed up well by King Solomon when he said, “Keep your heart with all diligence for out of it are the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23) I wrote a blog article on that verse, “Keep your heart.

Think about it, how many murders are the result of what started out as a grudge? It’s likely the first murder was a result of jealousy and an accompanying grudge. Here’s what the Bible says about Cain killing Abel. “Not as Cain, who was of that evil one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil and his brother’s righteous.” (I John 3:12)

It doesn’t take much sense, if you have an inkling of the Spirit of God, to know that grudges are not the plant that the Lord wants us to let grow in our hearts. This is one of the worst of the “thorns that spring up” that Jesus talked about in Luke 8:7. It’s not just some little thing. It’s not something we can’t control. It’s not something that we need to understand and accept. Grudges bring virtually immediate darkness to your soul and heart. The fruits of the Spirit of God in our lives are “love, joy, peace, longsuffering gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” (Galatians 5:22 & 23) But a grudge slays all of those very quickly.

“But, Mark, let me interrupt you again. Isn’t this just a case of mental health? Our modern world has moved on from these ancient, primative notions of “sin” and “the heart”. Don’t people just need our sympathy as well as mental health care to solve these things?”

No, it’s not a “mental health” issue. Science, in its place, is a great blessing. But when it tries to explain away the fallen nature of man and sanitize sin into something a doctor should treat, it then fulfills the words spoken about the future endtime to come that mankind would be “ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth”. (II Timothy 3:7) Or, more bluntly, Paul said in another place, “because they received not the love of the truth, God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.” (II Thessalonians 2:10 & 11) Sadly how prevalent we see this happening more and more in our times as people let science supposedly explain away sin and so many other things that are to be spiritually discenred.

A grudge and bitterness walk hand in hand. Something has happened, someone did something that you don’t understand, that went against you and hurt your life and heart. And if we then don’t desperately pray and throw our will, mind and thoughts onto the side of the Lord, then we’ll not be able to forgive those who’ve wronged us or be able to “Commit your way unto the Lord, trust also in Him.” (Psalm 37:5)

Is there any hope? Like all sin, yes, there is hope. First, you have to recognize it and often that’s not even very easy since it seems to be so justifiable. God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry?” To which Jonah snapped back to God, “I do well to be angry!” (Jonah 4: 4 & 9) So again, it comes back to being able to discern your own heart first. God’s Spirit is always faithful to convict us and bring the conviction that something is wrong inside us, even if it’s true that someone has wronged us, that our reaction is not right and the best.

But if we can recognize and accept the conviction of the Holy Spirit, we go to the next step which is, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9)

That’s the process by which we’re delivered from grudges. Confess it and pray strongly to be delivered from the deadly sin of grudges which will, and perhaps already has, snuffed out your spiritual life and brought you to utter darkness, though you are still alive.

Recognize it. Hate it. Resist it. Confess it to God and others if needed. And claim deliverance from this sin which is often unto death. God help us all.

Cardinals in the Winter

I was out for prayer this clear, cold winter morning when I noticed a lone Cardinal singing merrily away in a tree in our back lot. And the thought came to me, “That’s a lot like me and my friends.” It’s a wintery day but that Cardinal is not perturbed. It knows spring is coming, no matter how bleak and forlorn things are now.

Right now this world is in a deep winter. There’s death, sadness and depravity everywhere, almost lifeless. Yes, in the world now, like in our back lot, there’s still a little sprig of green here, an evergreen over there, even some helpless tiny flower can be seen, blooming out of season. But it’s winter. Like Paul said, “The whole creation groans in travail, waiting to be delivered.” (Romans 8) What is the deliverance? Just another spring coming in a few months?

For we who know the Lord and His promises, the true spring will be His return to our world to establish His millennial Kingdom. Then the world will know how it could have been and should have been all along. There will be peace on earth and Godly prosperity unlike anything any of us have hardly ever imagined, “above all we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20), on the shores of eternity.

But for now, it’s like some of us are the cardinals in the winter. We just keep singing and providing the color in this presently lifeless world. Even with the deep red of the passion of God in our hearts, we keep singing and making melody when seemingly there’s not really anything to sing about. But we do it by faith. We know there’s a spring coming, the eternal everlasting spring of the Kingdom of God on earth that the Bible promises is God’s ultimate plan.

If you are a Catholic, “cardinals” will have an additional meaning to you. Some of the top leaders of the Catholic Church are the Cardinals. And they traditionally dress in red. The symbolism? The idea has been that they are of a consecration that they would be willing to be martyrs, and shed their red blood for the cause of Christ, like many of the Christians of the first centuries did.

Well, there are still martyrs today but in many cases for most of us, we have to say with Paul, “I die daily“. (I Corinthians 15:31) In some ways that’s the hardest kind, dying daily to your own will and the cares and pleasures of this life to be what He wants us to be, bringing color and joy to this world and heralding the coming of the King of Glory to bring back this earth to the eternal spring like it had at the beginning of creation.

Every so often the Lord just punches through with thoughts like this when I go out for my morning walks. I used to go to a park and sit on a bench near where my parents’ lived when I was taking care of them in their last years. I wrote about a few of those experiences on my morning walks in “Just  Did It“, “Everything Means Something” or even “Hawks and Doves”, things happening right in front of me that it was like the Lord was explaining to me the symbolism, as it happened.

And this was encouraging this morning, a little picture that fits for many of us. We are presently in winter. Yes, even winter has some beauties and pleasures to it. But it’s not spring. And we, God’s cardinals, are designed to keep singing, keep showing his passionate red against the drab dreariness of the world as it is now. And to keep singing the tunes and sounds of heaven because we are keeping the vision of the soon coming better world, where righteousness will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea, and as the Lord says, “Nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain.” (Isaiah 11:9)

Thank God when He gives us little things like this. Paul said, “The invisible things of Him from the beginning of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things which are made, even His eternal power and Godhead.” (Romans 1:20) And David said, “The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows his handiwork. Day unto day it utters speech and night unto night shows knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard.” (Psalm 19:1-3) We all need this; we all need to see the meaning that’s so often right there around us.Where there is no vision the people perish”. (Proverbs 29:18) Those dear but few cardinals in our back lot this morning were a picture to me of how I and many others are now singing in spite of the winter of this world, keeping the faith that the ultimate spring of eternity on earth will yet come.

Did Jesus Christ “Confirm the Covenant”?

I generally try to address a wide audience on matters easily understood. But here I’m going to write about something that only a relatively few people are aware of. It has to do with the intricacies of Daniel 9:27 and how that verse has, or has not, already been fulfilled. This is one of the most disputed subjects in the study of Bible prophecy and the future.

First, here’s what that verse says in the King James version of the Bible. “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week. And in the middle of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and offerings to cease. And for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even to the consummation. And that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

If this is new to you and you’re interested in it, I suggest that you view the video I’ve done on this verse and its relationship to what Jesus taught in Matthew 24. That video is “Daniel 9:27 & the Last 7 years”. It’s made for a wider audience, going slower than I will here, giving the background and build-up to the significance of this verse. But here I’ll aim to go rather quickly into greater detail and unraveling of it all. And if you don’t have a background in this, it may be hard to follow.

There’s no doubt that Jesus “confirmed the covenant” but the question here is if this is what Daniel 9:27 is talking about. Paul said, “The covenant which was confirmed before in Christ…” (Galatians 3:17). Jesus is, “…the mediator of the new covenant.” (Hebrews 12:24) Jesus was “the Lamb of God” (John 1:29), “slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8). His “blood cleanses us from all sin” (I John 1:9). This future covenant to come was prophesied through Jeremiah (Jer. 31:31-33). There’s no question of whether Jesus fulfilled this prophecy in Jeremiah. And even Jesus’ ministry on earth evidently lasted 3½ years, seemingly corresponding to “the middle of the week”, the middle of 7 years, spoken of in Daniel 9:27.

So certainly there are details which seem to match the work of Christ on earth with what is spoken in Daniel 9:27. The question is, was Christ’s atoning work on earth and the subsequent beginning of the Early Church specifically what Daniel 9:27 refers to? Those who believe it does say that when Daniel 9:27 says “and in the middle of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease”, this refers to Jesus’ death and resurrection which then made unnecessary the ceremonial offerings made by the Jewish priests in the temple in Jerusalem.

But this is the first of several places where focused scrutiny on the verse and then the historical facts brings uncertainty that Daniel 9:27 was specifically referring to Christ on earth. Because there is no Scriptural or historical record of any kind that the temple sacrifices were stopped in Jerusalem after Christ’s Crucifixion and resurrection. There’s no reason not to believe that the Jews continued their temple sacrifices up to the time of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.

Another place where neither Scripture nor history gives any backing to Daniel 9:27 being fully fulfilled at the time of the Crucifixion and the Early Church is where the idea is put forward that 3½ years after the Crucifixion was the amount of time before the martyrdom of Stephen in Acts 7. Those who hold to the belief that Daniel 9:27 was finished with the martyrdom of Stephen teach that the period of time from the Crucifixion to Stephen’s martyrdom was the second 3½ years of “the last week”, the 70th week of Daniel 9:27. But there’s just nothing in Scripture about this at all. Or in Early Church teachings. Neither do the Apostolic fathers make this assertion. And those believing Daniel 9:27 was fulfilled in Christ have even greater difficulty trying to explain how Jesus was involved with any “abomination of desolation”, alluded to in Daniel 9:27 and referred to repeatedly elsewhere. Neither did Christ confirm any 7 year (“one week”) covenant. His was an eternal covenant, having nothing to do with any 7 year period.

If Daniel 9:27 has some definite similarities to events which have already passed, but still it has not been truly fulfilled, it certainly wouldn’t be the first time. One of the bigger controversies in Bible prophecy circles from the 1800’s to our times has had to do with Antioch IV Epiphanies, a leader of the Greeks around 165 BC. There were modern bibles for years that explained in their footnotes that the final Antichrist of the endtime, spoken of in Daniel and Revelation, was none other than the Greek tyrant, Antioch IV Epiphanies, who violently persecuted the Jews in Israel at that time.

Antiochus IV Epiphanies ruled for 3½ years, just as numerous places say the final Antichrist will. He even desecrated the Jewish temple in Jerusalem by sacrificing a pig there, seemingly fulfilling the scriptures about the Antichrist placing “the abomination of desolation” (Dan. 11:31) in the temple, after stopping the sacrifices. I made a short video about this man and this subject called “Some Say the Antichrist Has Come”. But as bad as he was, few today still teach that Antiochus IV Epiphanies was the final fulfillment of the many verses about the Antichrist.

But what about Daniel 9:27? Didn’t Jesus confirm the covenant? Well, yes He did confirm the covenant spoken of in Jeremiah, no question about that. Is there any other covenant? Actually, a study of the word “covenant” shows that it appears over 250 times in the Old Testament and many of those times it was not referring to the holy, eternal covenant of God with His people.

In some places it’s used to mean a compact, a confederacy or a league and it has no religious significance. For example, when the Gibeonites came to Joshua, it says, “And Joshua made peace with them, and made a league with them, to let them live…” (Joshua 9:15). That word in Hebrew for “made a league” is the same as “covenant” but it is referring to an agreement between individuals, much the same as we see in the affairs of the world in our times.

And this is where it gets interesting when we look at the next major message in Daniel, actually the last revelation he received. This is Daniel 10 through 12 which read as if it was one experience, rather than something that was to be divided into 3 different events or chapters.

One of the most important verses there is Daniel 11:31. This is because it’s almost certainly the one Jesus was referring to in Matthew 24:15 when told His disciples “When you shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place, whoso reads, let him understand”. And then the Lord goes on to say in verse 21, “for then shall be great tribulation such as was not since the beginning of the world, to that time, no, nor ever shall be.

We could go off on a track here with some who say that this event, “the abomination of desolation”, happened with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. But then those who believe this also conclude that Jesus’ Second Coming, to take over the earth, also happened in 70 AD. And few can look at the world we live in today and believe He now rules and reigns on earth.

But where in Daniel was Jesus actually referring to in Mat 24:15? The clearest mention of “the abomination of desolation” in Daniel is found in Daniel 11:31. It says this. “And arms [armaments] shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength. And they shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that makes desolate.” I don’t believe there’s any clearer place in Daniel that Jesus could have been referring to than to this verse, Daniel 11:31.

It follows that Daniel 11:31 is of extreme importance in our understanding of the Lord’s return to earth. But then we find that simply turning to Daniel 11:31 to understand it all is not exactly simple. That’s one reason I’ve done the prophecies of Daniel video series, aiming to open the prophetic Scriptures one chapter at a time as God makes known and builds upon His revealed truth, chapter after chapter. And by the time we get to Daniel 11, the revelation of truth is pretty advanced.

But for relevance to the issue of the question, “Is Daniel 9:27 already fulfilled?”, to me the most important fact to be found in Daniel 11 is that this word “covenant” is used repeatedly in the verses leading up to the verse Jesus pointed us to, Daniel 11:31. There are a recurring referrals, immediately before Daniel 11:31 to “the prince of the covenant” (Dan. 11:22), a “league made with him” (Dan. 11:23), “his heart shall be against the holy covenant” (Dan. 11:28), he shall “have indignation against the holy covenant” (Dan. 11:30), “them that forsake the holy covenant” (Dan. 11:30).

As God continues to build upon the revelation from each proceeding chapter, Daniel 11 and 12 become the climax of those revelations. As we understood better the 4 kingdoms first shown in Daniel 2 when viewing the 4 beasts in Daniel 7, so in Daniel 11 we are given much more information about “the covenant” first mentioned in Daniel 9. And in this case it does seem that the narrative points towards more of some kind of political agreement, with spiritual overtones, as being what is the given picture of the covenant to come.

We only get a glimpse of this in Daniel 9 but there’s much more information in Daniel 11. And when we look to Scripture to get our answers, we basically have to take what is given and to see the picture being shown, rather than let our imagination lead us to our own conclusions. It’s rather like a mosaic as we attempt to piece together the bits of the picture given us.

And it’s worth mentioning here that a primary rule in interpreting Bible prophecy is to, if possible, take the literal fulfillment of the words being spoken as our default choice in anything. True, sometimes there is a spiritual meaning. But going this route without taking the literal fulfillment into account has brought a lot of people into some strange doctrines. I wrote about this in “Spiritualizing Prophecy”.

Most scholars believe Daniel 11:21 begins the narrative of the endtime antichrist, spoken of as “a vile person” there in verse 21. In verse 22 there is spoken of “the prince of the covenant” who is overthrown. Who is that? We hold off on coming to any conclusion as we assemble the pieces being given us. In verse 28 it’s said of this man, “his heart shall be against the holy covenant”. Then twice in verse 30, he “has indignation against the holy covenant” and “he has intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant.

What is this all referring to? What does this all mean?! Our hearts throb to understand this better. But rather than going into speculative conjecture, my feeling has been that it’s best to just remember it strongly and let the Lord clarify its full meaning in His time. But these are the verses leading up to the verse Christ specifically pointed us to over 500 years later, Daniel 11:31. I’ll add it here again. “And arms [the Hebrew word here is armaments] shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strengthen, and they shall take away the daily sacrifice and they shall place the abomination that makes desolate.

This series of verses immediately before Daniel 11:31 (which Jesus pointed us to) repeatedly refer to a covenant or league made with the man of sin, the Antichrist. This is a major clincher for me that the covenant spoken of in Daniel 9:27 is further explained and amplified by these verses in Daniel 11. And actually there are even more. In Daniel 11:32 it says, “And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries. But the people who do know their God shall be strong and do exploits.

I’ll admit I don’t know and can’t tell you exactly what this endtime covenant is. But there certainly does seem to be a large number of verses referring to it and the context strongly points towards something other than the eternal covenant that Christ confirmed with His death and resurrection. It reads very much like some kind of treaty or pact with religious overtones, rather than to what is spoken of in Jeremiah 31 or Galatians 3.

Taken out of context, Daniel 9:27 can be made to look like it is connected to the Crucifixion and resurrection of Christ in the first century. But within the context of the chapters before and after Daniel 9, the evidence undermines that view and points towards it being one of many verses picturing an endtime scenario of some kind of Middle Eastern peace/religious pact, followed by renewed sacrifices at a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem.

This article is now about three times as long as my other articles usually are. As mentioned before, most people may not be able or have the interest to follow this discussion to this length. But, equally, more and more people are coming to realize that what’s discussed here may be of primary importance to our understanding of future prophetic events.

I personally continue to hold the view that part of the endtime to come will include some kind of pact, league, covenant or treaty having to do with renewed sacrifices at a rebuilt Jewish temple in Jerusalem. My views are not based solely on Daniel 9:27 but also on the ones shared here in Daniel 11, plus others mentioned in Daniel 8 which I’ve discussed in the video I’ve done on Daniel 8, seen here.

My apologies if this is too long or intricate. But this is, as far as I know, what is necessary to look fully into the prophecies given Daniel on this subject over 2500 years ago, which Jesus Himself pointed to. My hope is that this discourse has been some help to you in knowing the foundations of why some believe than Daniel 9:27 has a future fulfillment in the last days before the coming of Jesus to bring in God’s Kingdom to earth. God bless you and God help us all.