Our giants

One of the more interesting, and to me puzzling guys in the entire Bible is the patriarch Jacob. Probably some will chide me for saying so but he’s always seemed like almost an anti-hero among the pantheon of Biblical greats.

Jacob tricks Isaac, with Rebecca’s help

Jacob tricks Isaac, with Rebecca’s help

Jacob even means “deceiver”. He lied to his dad. He tricked his brother out of his inheritance. And he conspired with his mother to do these things. He ended up having to flee for his life and he never saw his beloved mother again. Did that really teach him a lesson and he was a changed man from then on? No, certainly not immediately it seems.

But then God had Jacob work under a more conniving and hard man than he himself was, his uncle Laban. It’s a long story but after some 21 years of work, growth and certainly some bitter lessons learned along the way, God spoke to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your kindred, and I will be with you.” (Genesis 31:4?)

“Oh, great”, you could say, “He’s finally going to be able to go home.”

Jacob and Laban

Jacob and Laban

In Jacob’s case, it was a good deal more problematic than that. By this time Jacob was pretty much a rich man, with vast flocks and herds, wives and children, servants and helpers. And his twin brother, Esau, who he’d so blatantly and subtlety tricked out of his inheritance, was a fairly major local warlord. One way we know this is because, when Esau heard that Jacob was on his way back, he gathered 400 of his personal troops to go out with him to meet his brother.

For what purpose? To get revenge? To give him a big hug? It seems Jacob didn’t really know. But most likely his conscience was still eating away at him because of the scoundrel/crook/rogue-like nature that seemed to be a part of his personality. And this is where it gets really interesting.

Did Jacob boldly walk at the head of his tribe and go forward to meet his brother? No, he sent almost everyone else ahead of him: wives, children, flocks, etc. And then, the night before he was to meet Esau himself, it turns out that the Bible says Jacob “wrestled” with an angel. (Genesis 32:24 & 25)

What a scene, what drama, what pathos. God had evidently softened Jacob’s heart through the years at least somewhat. It wasn’t just him alone anymore. He had a large family who he evidently loved very dearly. And now the possibility was strong that he would get what in most ways he deserved: judgment and destruction of himself and his whole family for the perfidy he’d worked on his parents and brother many years before. He probably knew that if that happened, he would only be getting what justice would decree.

Jacob’s giants were not like David’s hundreds of years later. Jacob’s giants were his own sins and his own evil inclinations. Had he outgrown the sins of his youth? Or was now the time when they would finally catch up with him and it would mean the death of himself and all he loved?

For most of us, our biggest enemy is not someone else, or even the Devil. Our biggest enemy is ourselves. “The devils are subject to us“. (Luke 10:17) But it’s our own evil spirit, our own ornery will that seems to constantly rise up like an ogre to defy God and to lead us astray, even without the devil’s help.

jacob and angelBut Jacob knew the jig was up. We don’t have the entire dialog of that night and all the details. But it must have been one of the most intense battles any man ever fought, pleading with God through the angel as Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” (Genesis 32:26)

What kind of blessing did Jacob need? Well the next morning he would face his brother and 400 armed men. He needed God to have his brother’s heart touched so that he would receive him as his long lost brother rather than as the trickster and villain he’d actually been. If ever someone had to get their heart right with the Lord and probably really plead with God for the cleansing and remaking he so desperately needed, it must have been Jacob right then.

It sounds like it went on for hours, hours of desperate prayer, wrestling not only with the angel but also his own sins that so easily beset him. But at last, Jacob found grace in God’s sight. The angel even gave Jacob a new name at that time, “Israel”, meaning prince of God and man, perhaps signifying that he was “a new creature” (II Corinthians 5:17) in God’s eyes.

Jacob and esau meetAnd although we don’t know all the story of that momentous night, we do know that, almost surprisingly, the next day Esau didn’t go forward to kill Jacob. It says, “And Esau ran to meet Jacob, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept.” (Genesis 33:4) A heartfelt embrace of brothers, much matured and changed through the years who were just glad to see each other again.

Would things have been different if Jacob had not been so desperate in prayer the night before? I’ve always really thought that. Because Jacob really got down to desperate prayer with God, perhaps one of the most desperate in the Bible, most likely God was able to change Esau’s heart also to have mercy rather than justifiable judgment against his brother. God saw that Jacob himself was utterly desperate for God’s mercy and help and the Lord did a major miracle.

What a story. Our biggest enemy is ourselves. Getting the victory over “the sins that so easily beset us” (Hebrews 12:1) is our greatest challenge. And, let’s face it: a lot of us don’t always win that battle. May God help us all to fight our “giants” that defy us and will defeat us except for our desperate prayers for the Lord to “deliver us from every evil work and preserve us unto His heavenly kingdom.” (II Timothy 4:18)

Acts 22 Live Class Audio

Paul and Jewish mobIn our class before this, on Acts 21, we saw that this chapter was one of the most pivotal in the life of Paul. From this time, he was never a free man again, at least according to the rule of the Roman Empire. Acts 22 is an immediate continuation of the narrative of the events that began in Acts 21. The live class audio can be heard here.

The chapter begins with Paul addressing his brethren the Jews who had just before this almost torn him limb from limb in the temple compound in Jerusalem. But as he was led away, after being saved from death by the Roman garrison there, he asked if he could be allowed to address the mob from whom he had just been rescued. The leader of the Roman band granted his request and Paul turned to address the crowd, as he had done so many other times in other circumstances.

To me, it is one more example of Paul’s ability to “share his testimony”, simply to quell the crowd by telling them “this is what happened to me”. Everyone loves a story and most people will listen if you tell them what happened to you. This is still a lesson to us all of how to win souls or at least to try to, by sharing what happened to you in your coming to the saving knowledge of a relationship with Jesus.

Paul on stepsDid they all repent, like what had happened in the same neighborhood many years before, as recorded in Acts 2, 3 and 4? Not at all. That was an earlier time and hearts had very much hardened in Jerusalem towards the people who were by now called Christians.

One of the things we spoke about in our live class on this chapter was how Paul was able to shift from language to language and even culture to culture and this was a great advantage to him in his calling as a missionary. In this particular situation in Jerusalem, it may have helped save his neck as he was able to speak to the Roman centurion that was overseeing his arrest and his protection from the Jews and then to immediately shift into speaking Hebrew as he addressed the crowd.

It’s another example of something that’s always spoken to me from I Corinthians 9 when Paul said, “To the Jew I became as a Jew and to the Greek as a Greek. I am become all things to all men, that I might by all means win some”. (I Corinthians 9:20-22) We can learn from this to be adaptable from one culture or society to the other in order to be understandable to all people and to share the love of God with them.

Another subject we talked about in our live class was how Paul was told he was to be a witness. (Acts 9:15) We talked about how that’s seldom emphasized in most churches and how so many Christians don’t know how to witness or how important it is. We talked about how the Bible says that the endtime church, before the coming of the Lord, will be a witnessing church. (Daniel 12:3). We also talked about Ezekiel 3:17-19 and “delivering our souls”. Paul said “I am clean from their blood” (Acts 18:6) So he knew he had a responsibility to delivery his soul as a witness.

Paul surroundedAnd we had a lively discussion about what Paul tells us in this chapter when he literally argued with the Lord when he was in Jerusalem. The Lord told Paul to “get quickly out of Jerusalem” (Acts 22:18), that the Jews would not listen or hear his testimony.

But Paul talked back to the Lord and disagreed with Him. The question came up, was this something that happened in Acts 9 or had it just happened right then when Paul had come back to Jerusalem when the Lord had been telling him not to go back there? If it had happened years before, why was Paul then going back there again, even as the Holy Spirit had been admonishing him not to? One way or the other, something certainly seemed amiss. And the normally ultra-obedient Paul we find in conflict with the Lord who appeared to him and commanded him to quickly leave Jerusalem and go “far hence to the Gentiles“. (Acts 22:21)

I feel these two chapters, Acts 21 and 22, are some of the most significant and poignant ones in the New Testament. Our beloved Paul, who probably did more to further the cause of Christ than any other disciple who ever lived, is taken captive and it appears as if some disobedience of his at least in part is a factor in it all. These are very emotional chapters for me and our live class on the subject was a reflection of the feelings that come from reading about these events, as well as the seriousness of the lessons that are there to be learned. I hope you’ll be fed by the things we discussed; the live class audio can be heard here. God bless you.

La Profecía Bíblica de la Historia video


Este video presenta el fenómeno de la profecía bíblica en la historia del antiguo Israel. Es el primer film producido sobre las profecías de Daniel. Muchas personas no saben qué es la profecía bíblica. Desde luego, yo no lo sabia hasta que tuve un gran cambio en mi vida. Descubrí que hay un mundo espiritual y que yo estaba equivocado al ser ateo. Me convertí al Cristianismo  y estaba tan sorprendido cuando estudié la Biblia.

Espero que este film explique la historia de Israel y el milagro de la profecía bíblica. Esta es la versión en inglés de este documental. Mi siguiente video español será el libro de Daniel capítulo 2. Debería estar listo muy pronto. Dios los bendiga.


I’ve been able to complete the first video in Spanish of the Prophecies of Daniel series. This one in English is “An Introduction to Prophecy in History”. This can be seen in English here.

Many people don’t know what Bible prophecy is. I certainly didn’t until I had a big change in my life when I found out that God is real and the spiritual world really exists. Later I became a Christian and was so surprised when I read the Bible, especially the marvelous disclosures of Bible prophecy.

So, in doing this series on the prophecies of Daniel, I felt it would be good to first present the phenomenon of Bible prophecy, as well as a brief background of ancient history and the history of ancient Israel. History is the backdrop against which the prophecies of the prophets stand out as beacons and signposts of the future to come.

My next Spanish video will be Daniel chapter 2. That video should be ready soon. Meanwhile, I’m working on several other foreign language videos on Bible prophecy and I hope to have those out in the next few months. God bless you.


Acts 21 Live Class Audio

If the Apostle Paul is one of the main characters of the book of Acts, then Acts 21 is one of the most pivotal chapters in his life. Up until Acts 21, Paul was a free man and had done an incredible amount of work to win souls and establish churches throughout the part of the world he was from. From Acts 21 on, he was a Roman prisoner. This focus on the life of Paul was the main subjects of our live class audio on Acts 21. The recording can be heard here.

Paul, protected by Romans from the Jerusalem mob

Paul, protected by Romans from the Jerusalem mob

In our class we discussed how we found that the Holy Ghost was clearly speaking to Paul through prophets that “he should not go up to Jerusalem” (Acts 21:4). And unlike other times in the Bible where Paul was very yielded and sensitive to God’s voice and will, it seems here his steadfastness and zeal was at cross purposes with the revealed will of God in His life.

Reacting to the plea of the brethren not to go up to Jerusalem, after a prophet had again warned Paul of his plans, Paul said, “What do you mean to weep and break my heart? I am ready to die at Jerusalem.” (Acts 21:13) Very commendable indeed and Paul was such a light and testimony to his generation and to all generations after that. But it seems in this case his willingness to lay down his life as a martyr interfered with God’s specific instructions for him to not proceed in the direction he was going.

“What do you mean to weep and break my heart? I am ready to die at Jerusalem.”

“What do you mean to weep and break my heart? I am ready to die at Jerusalem.”

We talked briefly before the class started on what it might have been that caused Paul to miss the Lord’s highest and best, what He was leading. For David it was Bathsheba, for Samson it was Delilah. But with Paul, it seemed to be something totally different.

Rather than being a “traditional” temptation like a woman, alcohol or something like that, it seems it had to do with Paul’s loyalty to his physical nation and Jewish heritage that caused him to miss what the Lord was calling him to do at that time, which was to remain true to the calling of God in his life to be a light to the Gentiles.

And on another subject we discussed in our class (when we got to the place in the chapter about Philip the evangelist and his 4 daughters that prophesied) about prophets and prophetesses of the early church and of the culture of those times, as well as the verse, “On my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of My Spirit and they shall prophesy.” (Acts 2:18)

That of course raises the question of where Paul wrote, “Let the women keep silent in the churches.” (I Corinthians 14:34) How can the women keep silence in the churches if God has poured out His Spirit on them and given them the gift of prophecy? Which then led on to a large discussion about women in the Bible and the different ones who’d been used of God in Bible times, Deborah, Ester, Rehab the harlot and others.

So in Jerusalem Paul ran into something that had been coming on all the time and growing, but he’d been far away from it. James and the elders of the church in Jerusalem told him, “Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law.” (Acts 21:20)

Zealous of the laws of Moses? Do think those Christians he’d just left in Ephesus or the ones in Corinth and Philippi were zealous of the law? In case you don’t know the answer to this, it’s “no”.

This small blog article won’t suffice for space to delve into the very deep implications of those Jews who’d been converting to faith in Jesus in Jerusalem but were still fully holding on to the Jewish laws of Moses. But we did get into this more in our live audio class. For those who don’t know about this, this subject of whether Christians are obligated to keep the Mosaic Law is one of the most continuous issues there is, certain among many Christians today and it’s been that way off and on for 2000 years.

This is one of the somewhat longer live classes we had and the reason may be that it contains some of the most significant, personal and far reaching lessons in the book of Acts that we can see and learn from concerning Paul’s life and even his mistakes.

There’s more. Actually there are passages in this chapter and the next that are some of the most heart breaking in the Bible and to me reveal the heart of God and of Jesus, more than almost anything anywhere else does. We talked about this towards the end of our study. I hope you’ll have the time and a chance to listen to the class, it can be heard here.

God bless you, thanks for your prayers and the comments some of you have sent.

Your friend in Him, Mark

Acts 20 Live Class Audio

When I think of Acts 20, I always think of Paul’s last talk and farewell near Ephesus with the ones he loved so much, and who loved him so much. There are many striking, stirring verses in that talk. These were some of the things we discussed and highlighted in our live class on Acts 20. The full audio of the class can be heard here.

Paul sailingThis is all taking place in Paul’s third missionary journey. After the uproar at the end of Acts 19, Paul and his company departed for Macedonia and further travels, ending up back at the ancient city of Troy, by that time called Troas. Paul had plans to make it back to Jerusalem before the day of Pentecost so he had some traveling to do. Still, duty called. He and his entourage were in Troas, “ready to depart on the morrow” (Acts 20:7) and it says “he continued his message till midnight.” (Acts 20:7)

Back then, without electricity, this wasn’t so common at all. But Paul, in his love for his flock and the people of the Lord, kept pouring out his heart and the Lord’s teachings to them.

And from reading this chapter, there are a number of things that can raise questions about how it all was and what was the situation at the time. From several verses it says that Paul was “bound in the spirit” (Acts 20:22) to make it to Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost. But since that word “spirit” there is not capitalized, it raises the question of whether it was actually the Holy Spirit pushing Paul back to Jerusalem. Or was it Paul’s love for his own nation and Jewish heritage that was influencing his emotions? More on this in the next class.

map of third missionary journeyTo me the highlight of the chapter is the second half. They had been continuing their journey along the coastline of modern Turkey, on their way back to Jerusalem. And as they neared a town on the coast, Miletus, close to Ephesus, Paul called for the elders of the church in Ephesus that he might have one more talk and class with them.

As you may know, I memorize Bible verses. And I have 3 memorized from this place in Acts 20 because they’re so significant. In verse 20, Paul said to the elders, “And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have showed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house.

Paul Acts 20Then in verse 28 he said, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” His greatest call and charge to them was the same that Jesus gave to Peter, to feed the flock of God. And that certainly still rings true for all us today, to feed His sheep.

Two other extremely significant verses are Acts 20: 31 and 32: “Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.

Paul huggingIt can get to be a pretty emotional chapter. At the end of the chapter, which is the end of Paul’s talk to them, it says in verse 37 “And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul’s neck, and kissed him.

This is the kind of Early Church Christianity that moved men’s hearts, enveloped their souls and gave them the fullness and abandonment that strengthened many of them to face ultimate martyrdom. In our live class on Acts 20, we looked at more of these verses and how they should still resonate with us and impact our lives for Him and His flock in our day and lives. The full audio class on Acts 20 can be heard here.

The council of Ahithophel

There are things in the Bible that even dedicated Christians have possibly never read. One thing like that is the somewhat strange story of the time in King David’s life when his son, Absalom, led a rebellion against his father which was very nearly successful. And actually this rebellion was allowed or brought on by God Himself as a chastening judgment on David for his sins.

David & Ahitolphel

David & Ahitolphel

To me, one of the most amazing parts of this story is when David is with the few friends who stuck with him as they prepare to quickly flee Jerusalem. The forces who turned against David and allied themselves with Absalom were out to destroy the king.

We find that David had a councilor or adviser named Ahithophel who was perhaps David’s top consultant to his reign and kingdom. And the Bible says of Ahithophel, “The counsel of Ahithophel, which he counseled in those days, was as if a man had inquired at the oracle of God.” (II Samuel 16:23) That’s a very unusual Bible verse but basically it means that the counsel of Ahithophel was virtually flawless and perfect, almost supernatural so.

And yet…, something was wrong. This man’s incredible gift somehow didn’t prevent him from taking the side of King David’s mortal enemy, his own conniving, ambitious son Absalom. Nevertheless, of all that was going on, it seems David feared the council of Ahithophel as he worked together with Absalom more than anything else. When David heard that Ahithophel was advising Absalom, David prayed, “O Lord, I pray thee, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.” (II Samuel 15:31)

David flees

Fleeing Jerusalem, David sends Hushai back

As they fled east from Jerusalem, David sent back one of his most loyal subjects and advisers, Hushai, to feign obedience to the usurper, Absalom. Absalom gathered his councilors and sages, including Ahitolphel and Hushai, and Absalom asked Ahitolphel what he counseled.

Basically Ahitolphel said they should go after David and his bands immediately. And probably if they’d done that, it would have been successful. Absalom then turned to Hushai, knowing that he’d been in the inner circle of David’s friends and asked what he thought they should do.



What a moment that must have been. What an incredible movie this would make. Did Hushai blurt out that Ahitolphel’s council was totally wrong, as he tried to save King David? No; no one would have believed that. So Hushai said, “The council of Ahithophel is not good at this time,” (II Samuel 17:7) and went on to try to explain how the best would be for them to wait till they had gathered a really big army and to take on David’s smaller forces in open field combat. Of course this was because Hushai knew that David and his men were very weak and on the run at the moment and if Absalom followed Ahithophel’s council, they would actually defeat and kill King David and his men.

Another incredible moment. Absalom’s response? “The council of Hushai is better than the council of Ahithophel.”  (II Samuel 17:14) Actually it wasn’t. But the Lord had answered David’s prayer to defeat the council of Ahitophel. This delay gave time for David and his men to regroup and strengthen themselves.

To me, one of the most amazing parts of this story is what it says happened next. II Samuel 17:23 says, “And when Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his ass, and arose, and gat him home to his house, to his city, and put his household in order, and hanged himself, and died, and was buried in the sepulcher of his father.

Was he defeated in battle? Did he wait to see what would happen next? Nope. Ahithophel evidently had enough presence of mind that he knew in advance that the cause of Absalom was now lost and that the rebel’s side, that he had joined with, was doomed. So he just went home and committed suicide.

Absalom rides to his death in battle against King David

Absalom rides to his death in battle against King David

And as it turned out, Ahithophel was right again: the rebels’ cause was already lost. Absalom and his troops were defeated in open battle with David’s fewer but more seasoned warriors.

There’s just so much to all this that my normal length of these posts doesn’t suffice to cover it all. Ahithophel’s virtual godlike gifts didn’t prevent him from making a fatal mistake of disloyalty to God’s anointed king. Was it ambition? Familiarity? Spiritual pride? Evidently something was seriously wrong with the condition of his heart, despite his incredible gifts and evident intelligence.

I can’t know for sure but I’ve always felt this passage in the Psalms is where David talked about his relationship with Ahitophel. “For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him: But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company.” (Psalm 55:12-14) Later in the same Psalm David says, “”The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart: his words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords.” (Psalm 55:21)

It’s all a massive story with layers of meaning and lessons for us all. One of the clearest for me is what Solomon, David’s son and eventual heir, wrote years later, “Keep your heart with all diligence for out of it are the issues of life.”  (Proverbs 4:23)

It’s all about your heart, not your gifts, not your intelligence, not your looks or anything other than your personal relationship with the Lord and how you conduct your life before Him. Ahitophel must have been one of the wisest men that ever lived. But his wisdom didn’t prevent his heart from making the biggest mistake of his life, which ultimately cost him his life. May God help us all to keep our heart right with Him.

Acts 19 Live Class

map of EphesusI was thinking about it, there’s not hardly one chapter in the book of Acts that is not significant, full of momentous verses and truth. But perhaps Acts 19 is one of the chapters that is most like that. The audio recording of our Acts 19 live class can be heard here.

One of the first things we talked about was Acts 19:2. When the apostles first came to Ephesus, the main city of this chapter, they said to some they had met, “Have you received the Holy Ghost since you believed?” And we stayed on that subject for a while because it strongly seems to indicate that the experience of being born again (the experience of salvation) and the experience of receiving or being filled with the Holy Ghost are not necessarily the same things and can be two different experiences.

Ephesians burned their occult books after becoming Christians.

Ephesians burned their occult books after becoming Christians.

If you are really new to the Lord or maybe don’t even know if you believe in God, this could sound like something that is over your head or not even interesting. But for those who are at least a bit further along, what exactly the Holy Spirit is, which Jesus spoke so much about, is really a major thing.

So when they asked the ones in Ephesus if they had received the Holy Ghost, their reply was, “We’ve not even heard that there is a Holy Ghost!” So then the apostles asked them, “Unto what were you baptized?” And they said, “Unto John’s baptism.” (Acts 19:2&3)

To me this is fascinating stuff. It shows how fast and how far Christianity and the knowledge of Jesus had been spreading, much further and faster than the apostles themselves were moving. But in this very rapid spread, it was a somewhat hazy and incomplete gospel. The truth of the resurrection of Jesus and the name and power of Jesus were spreading like wildfire. But the full message, understanding and teaching of it all was not really there until the apostles of the Lord began to catch up with the wave that was spreading so fast.

Each city seemed to have different characteristics. This chapter deals with the witness at Ephesus and it could easily be said that this group of people and this place seemed to be one of the most spiritual that Paul ministered to. The book of Ephesians is filled with references to the spiritual world and our lives within it. Like Ephesians 6:12, for example: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

We talked in the class about a little of early church history and how that one of the earliest offshoots of Christianity, which was deemed a sect at that time, sprung up in the area of Ephesus around 115 AD. The Montanists were a group of people with beliefs and customs that many see as being similar to the modern Charismatic movement, with an emphasis on spiritual gifts and prophecy. But at the time they evidently broke away from what was becoming the main body of believers, even though in later times other movements seemed to try to bring back the earliest days of the Church where the manifestations of the Holy Spirit were more a part of life of the lives of the believers.

An idol maker stirred up a city-wide riot against Paul’s teaching.

An idol maker stirred up a city-wide riot against Paul’s teaching.

This chapter has a number of somewhat “out there” verses in it. Later in the chapter there is the part where some “exorcists”, people who attempted to cast out evil spirits but were not saved Christians, attempted to try to do the same thing Paul did, but without the power and protection of God. It says in Acts 19 “The man in whom the evil spirit dwelt leapt on them and said, ‘Jesus I know and Paul I know but who are you?’”. (Acts 19:15) This is all so deep, a whole class or more could be made on just those verses. And again it’s a subject that hardly any modern church will even touch. But it’s in the Bible.

A reading of Acts 19, along with a study of the book of Ephesians, can be a really deep study and give you a perspective on how different were the places that Paul visited in his journeys. I hope you’ll be able to listen to the live class on Acts 19; it can be heard here.

Text to “The Last 7 Years” video

[This is the text to the video “Daniel 9:27—The Last 7 Years”. To view this video, click here. Also, this blog post is longer than normal.]

D9b video text post headingHi again, I’m Mark. This video is going to be different from the ones I’ve done before. Up till now, the videos have mostly been about prophecies that have been fulfilled. This one will be about prophecies yet to be fulfilled. Also, we’ll mainly be focusing on just one verse, the last verse in Daniel chapter 9.

You might wonder why a whole video would be centered around one verse. Well, we’re first going to have a short review of what we’ve seen already in Daniel chapter 9. That way, we’ll see how much prophecy is still to be fulfilled in this last verse in the chapter. At the beginning of the chapter, we found Daniel reading the prophecies of Jeremiah which predicted a 70 year captivity for the Jewish people who’d been carried away to Babylon. Daniel had read in Jeremiah 29:10,For thus says the LORD, After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform my good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place.”

Daniel hands raised for D9 blog postAnd then we read that Daniel was moved to pray a very heartfelt prayer to God, for the Lord to forgive the Jews and for Him to fulfill His Word. While praying, Daniel had a visitation from the angel Gabriel who touched Daniel and then began to give him one of the most significant prophecies in the Bible. Gabriel told Daniel, “Seventy weeks are determined upon your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up the vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy.” (Daniel 9:24)

Gabriel told Daniel of a mysterious “70 weeks” “to make an end of sins”, “to bring in everlasting righteousness”. In our last class, we saw how that this “70 weeks” spoken of here is not what we would think of in our times. The meaning seventy weeks was “70 sevens of years”. And we saw this “70 weeks” was speaking about a period of 490 years.

I’m going over this somewhat quickly and you may want to review the class that was done before this if you have questions here. After Gabriel told Daniel about the 70 weeks, he broke this down and spoke of a period of “69 weeks”, 483 prophetic years. This was to be the period of time between “the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem” and “Messiah the prince.”

the commandment to rebuild for D9 blog postThe commandment to restore Jerusalem was given by Artaxerxes in 444 BC and Jesus of Nazareth was crucified in 33 AD. We saw in our class that the length of time between these two periods, “the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem” and “Messiah the Prince”, amounted to “69 weeks”, 483 prophetic years, just as Gabriel had said would happen. [For an explanation of “prophetic years”, go to the text of the previous class on Daniel, about “The 69 Weeks” which can be read here.]

Going further, the prophecy said that “after” “Messiah shall be cut off”, Jerusalem and the temple would be destroyed again. This happened in 70 AD. But we still haven’t come to the conclusion of this prophecy. The 69 weeks of this prophecy were fulfilled at the crucifixion of Jesus. But Gabriel’s prophecy of 70 weeks, 490 years, to bring in everlasting righteousness hasn’t happened yet. There’s still one “week” left. One last 7 year period is yet to be fulfilled in this prophecy in order to bring in God’s Kingdom on earth.

And that brings us to Daniel 9:27. But this is such a key verse; it’s fundamental to most of the prophetic verses in the Bible which are still not yet fulfilled. So I think at this point we should take a brief review of the chapters we’ve studied up till now. Because, in each of those chapters, we found things that are not yet fulfilled. And each one of those parts is an integral component, a piece of the picture that Daniel 9:27 is going to help us put together.

In Daniel chapter 2, we found Daniel as a young teenage who’d been carried away to Babylon. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had dreamed a dream that he couldn’t remember. In his fury the king commanded to kill all the wise men of Babylon and Daniel was in training to be one of those. After he prayed desperately, God revealed the secret of the king’s dream to Daniel.

Dan & Neb for D9 postSo Daniel went before the king to tell him his dream. The king had seen a statue with a head of gold, arms of silver, a belly of brass, legs of iron and feet of iron and clay. Then in his dream the king saw a stone which hit the statue on its feet so that the whole statue crumbled to dust and was blown away. And the stone became a great mountain that filled the earth. Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar that the head of gold was his kingdom of Babylon. After him would come another kingdom, then a third and then a fourth. We now know from history that those coming kingdoms represented Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome.

But here’s the part that’s really for us in this class. What did that strange stone represent when it hit the statue, causing it to crumble to dust, and then the stone became a great mountain that filled the earth? What was that? Here is Daniel’s explanation of this to Nebuchadnezzar. “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 but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.” (Daniel 2:44)

The 4 beasts of Daniel 7

The 4 beasts of Daniel 7

Those kingdoms that Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream have come and gone. But that final kingdom, the coming kingdom of God on earth has not yet happened. Then, many years later Daniel himself had a similar vision, but different. In Daniel’s vision in chapter 7 he saw 4 beasts rising out of the sea: a lion, a bear, a 4 headed leopard and then a great and dreadful beast. These four represented the same 4 kingdoms, seen in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream decades earlier.

But we’ve found that each prophetic chapter builds on the revelations of the previous prophetic chapter and then also introduces important new elements of the future to come. In Daniel 7 we were first told of “the little horn”, the future endtime dictator that’s spoken of more clearly in Daniel 8 and then also in the book of Revelation. It says of this “little horn” (Daniel 7:8) …“he shall speak great words against the most high” and “shall wear out the saints of the most high.” And a length of time was given for this period. “They shall be given into his hand …for a time, times and half a time” (Daniel 7:25).

But Daniel 7 also, like chapter 2, had a happy ending. Verse 27 ended the angel’s explanation to Daniel when he said, “And the kingdom and dominion and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the most high, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.

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Acts 18 Live Class

Acts 18Our live class on Acts 18 actually went on longer than almost any of the other classes before that. Which is only fitting as Paul wrote more to the Corinthians than to any other church. And there’s just really a lot there, in Acts 18, in the books of Corinthians and in our live class. The audio recording of our Acts 18 live class can be heard here.

And it says Paul stayed there a year and a half, the longest he’d stayed in any one place till then. But it must have been a special time and place as the Lord did something He didn’t usually do, specifically instructed Paul to stay on there in Corinth. Act 18, verses 9 & 10 say,  “Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, ‘Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.’”

One of the things we talked about for a while is where Paul said, “Your blood be upon you, I turn to the Gentiles” (Act 18:6). This It’s a very big and sober subject about our responsibility to “deliver our souls”, something that is never taught in church but is definitely in the Bible. Paul may have been thinking or referring to something that is found in Ezekiel 3:17-19, “His blood will I require at your hand.” Paul evidently felt he had that much responsibility to deliver his soul and to preach the whole council of God to those he met.

Another aspect of Christian discipleship that we talked about was how Paul, almost more than anyone else, was able to blast off from the “gravitational pull” of his own background, his own heritage and cultural and even his own religion, to truly follow God into a new “universe”, delivered from his old “planet” and way of life.

Jesus said “If you love father or mother more than me”(Matthew 10:37), or even “your own land” (Matthew 19:29), then He said you are not worthy of Him. Not the kind of thing you’ll hear in church on Sunday, is it?

Paul on the road to Damascus

Paul on the road to Damascus

And we talked somewhat about some strange web sites and folks who will tell you that Paul “was not really an apostle of the Lord”. Why would they say that? Well, they figure that “Paul didn’t respect the laws of Moses enough”. “He went astray from the laws of Moses. So that Light he saw on the road to Damascus?? Well, …. Maybe… “

So it’s pretty far out and delusional what some folks get into in order to preserve the necessity of keeping the old Mosaic Law. Even to the extent of sowing doubt about the Godliness of the Apostle Paul. Like we said in our class, if Paul hadn’t followed the Lord into all the world, witnessing faithfully to the Gentiles, Christianity might have been just another sect of Judaism and would have perished with the crushing of Israel and the scattering of the Jews in 70 AD.

Aquila & Priscilla with Apollos

Aquila & Priscilla with Apollos

We talked about that and if (and how much) the Early Church leaders had really obeyed the Lord to “go into all the world and to preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). Obviously they were doing that some, as we can read about Peter witnessing to and converting the Gentiles in Acts 10. But the impression is that Paul took the whole thing much further and much more rapidly than had been happening up till that time.

And we read about Apollos in Acts 18 and how he “knew only the Baptism of John” (Act 18:25). We talked about how, when we witness, that sometimes we meet people who really love the Lord and are doing what they can to walk according to the light they have. But like Apollos in this case, they sometimes are missing some major pieces of the puzzle when it comes to the things of the Lord.

teaching Apollos

Teaching Apollos

So like the Aquila and Priscilla did here with Apollos, they built upon what was really a partial foundation in him and he became an even stronger Christian and worker for the Lord from it. It can happen that we run into similar situations in our witnessing and ministering to people.

In relation to this, I shared a personal story of a good friend of mine from 30 years ago who flew in to Moscow in the early 80’s, at a time when Russian Communism just couldn’t have been more serious, and he there just happened to met up with a strong young leader of a budding “Jesus people” movement in Moscow. My friend and this Russian hit it off completely and my friend told him and taught him everything he could in the days he was there. But this all was similar to how these ones in the book of Acts found Apollos who went on to be even much more a witness than he had been up until the time the early church brethren met him in Alexandria.

So, the Book of Acts. It’s an incredible study but many people really have almost never read it. What we see there of how the early Christians were powerfully led of the Lord, as they gave their lives to Him, should inspire us to do the same in our generation. The audio recording of our Acts 18 live class can be heard here.

“The Last 7 Years” -Daniel 9:27-

If you’ve been seeing the other videos on the prophecies of Daniel before this, you’ll know that this is essentially the seminal video in the series. This video, based around the last verse in Daniel 9, is focused on the Old Testament verse that Jesus Himself referred to when He was asked about His return. For those familiar with Bible prophecy, this verse is somewhat like a linchpin, a “Rosetta Stone”, fitting together the many different pieces of the endtime picture and the future to come.

On a personal note, it’s been a joy to me that the Lord has made it so that I’ve been able to get this far in this series that these two videos on Daniel chapter 9 have been completed. I hope and pray this one will be a blessing to you and to all those who are seeking to understand. As Jesus said about this verse, “…whoever reads, let him understand” (Matthew 24:15b).