Category Archives: Old Testament

God is Truth

“I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me. If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not true. There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true. You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me. And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent” ~John 5:30-38.

“A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established” ~Deuteronomy 19:15.

“On the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses the one who is to die shall be put to death; a person shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness” ~Deuteronomy 17:6.

  • God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
  • God is Truth because He (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) testifies of the Truth
  • Because God is Who He is, He is not a single witness; He is One God
  • We, who are true Children of God, should be lovers of Truth because God is Truth for the Spirit of Truth indwells us
  • The law reflects Who God is

The Nations are Christ’s Heritage

“Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession” ~Psalm 2:8

Did Jesus forget to ask the Father for the nations?

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” ~Matthew 28:18-20.

The nations are the Heritage of Jesus. Go and preach the Gospel.

The Mercies of God

21 But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
22 The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
24 “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”

  • God is faithful to everyone that is His
  • God’s mercies are new every morning
  • There is not a moment on earth when morning is not breaking

The Gospel of Enoch

When Enoch had lived 65 years, he fathered Methuselah. Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years. Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him. ~Genesis 5:21-24

  • Enoch may have been pious, but God taking him is not the result of piousness
  • God took Enoch as an act of mercy
  • God is merciful to all those who do not deserve it
  • Just like Enoch received mercy instead of what he deserved, Jesus received judgment instead of what He deserved

I am Indeed in Need

Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil din your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
18 Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
build up the walls of Jerusalem;
19 then will you delight in aright sacrifices,
in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.

Psalm 51

Living with Kingdom Distinctiveness

There is something significant that happens in Daniel 2 that the English reader typically misses.

When Daniel 2:4 says: ‘The Chaldeans spoke to the king in Aramaic’, the entire text thereafter shifts from Hebrew into Aramaic all the way until Daniel 7:28. Why? Aramaic was the language of the international world of the time (as Latin later became and as English is today).

It was the language that the elites of every country could speak.

Daniel is the only book of both the Old and New Testaments that is written in two languages. It is intentionally a bi-lingual book. What does this tell us? Well, it tells us that the message of Daniel is not just intended for believers/Jews but for all the nations of the world. The book of Daniel is very much a book about how believers are to live “life in the real world”. It is meant to show the entire world through narrative what kingdom distinctiveness (Christian distinctiveness) looks like.

Read Daniel 2:1-49

Notice the two things we must come to terms with if we are to live with distinctiveness:

1) The Location of our Identity

2) The Depth of our lack

Question: Why was Nebuchadnezzar so anxious and troubled? We know that his inner turmoil was great because he’s losing sleep over it. So why was he so troubled in spirit?

It is important to remember that whenever we have negative emotions like this it is usually because we have exalted something finite to a pretended ultimacy. Tim Keller writes,

One of the signs that an object is functioning as an idol is that fear becomes one of the chief characteristics of life. When we center our lives on the idol, we become dependent on it. If our counterfeit god is threatened in any way, our response is complete panic. We do not say, ‘What a shame, how difficult,’ but rather ‘This is the end! There’s no hope!’

Another quotation is very insightful and helpful. Thomas Oden says,

When I interpret some particular possibility as a threat to some value I consider necessary for my existence, I experience anxiety . . . Anxiety becomes neurotically intensified to the degree that I have idolized finite values that properly should have been regarded as limited. The more I worship finite gods, the more I make myself vulnerable to intensified anxiety (Two Worlds, p. 97).

What Thomas Oden is saying is that when something that we consider essential to our existence (i.e. something that we believe we can’t live without) is threatened, we become anxious. And the more our confidence is placed in that finite value (god) the more anxious we become. This is why Nebuchadnezzar is losing so much sleep.

He has placed his confidence in a finite god.

Question: So what is Nebuchadnezzar’s finite god?

Power and Success

Nebuchadnezzar was finding his identity in his achieved power and success as a leader, and he ultimately became unreasonable in his requests (Daniel 2:12).

Usually anxiety comes directly from having our identity in the wrong place

Where might your identity be if you are experiencing intense anxiety at the thought that you might have done very poorly on a test?

Where might your identity be if you are experiencing intense anxiety at the thought of having to speak in front of a group of people?

Where might your identity be if you are experiencing intense anxiety at the thought of not being able to fix something you think you ought to be able to fix?

Where might your identity be if you are experiencing intense anxiety at the thought of your political party losing an election?

You see if you are seeking your identity in anything other than Christ, you will not be able to live in a secular culture with kingdom distinctiveness

The location of your identity is absolutely crucial if you are to live with kingdom distinctiveness. When we build our lives on earthly success, relationships, approval, comfort, popularity, political power, and the like, we lose our distinctiveness though we may engage in a million different Christian activities. Christian distinctiveness is not really seen in what you do.

Christian distinctiveness is seen in where you find your identity

In other words, the distinctiveness of your Christianity is seen at the motivational level because you do not become anxious when you lose power, success, approval, acceptance, comfort, or whatever. That is what shows us to be different and it is what demonstrated Daniel to be different.

Daniel 2:9 If you do not tell me the dream, there is just one penalty for you. You have conspired to tell me misleading and wicked things, hoping the situation will change. So then, tell me the dream, and I will know that you can interpret it for me.” 10 The astrologers answered the king, “There is not a man on earth who can do what the king asks! No king, however great and mighty, has ever asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or astrologer. 11 What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among men.” 12 This made the king so angry and furious that he ordered the execution of all the wise men of Babylon.

What does the word “this” reference? I think we find what “this” references in verse 11.

Daniel 2:11 What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among men.”

I believe that it is this statement that enrages him (in verse 12) and leads to the death decree. What does this tell us?

Nebuchadnezzar was the most powerful man on earth, but now he is being brought up against the fact that he is still just a man

The dream was bringing him to terms with his limits and finitude. The wise men in v.12 bring up a very sore subject with a powerful person–”you are just another human being”–there are limits to what human beings can actually accomplish. Nebuchadnezzar knows this dream as something to do with his own fall from power, but his inability to discover the meaning is driving the nail deeper with the additional reminder that he is not God.

We must be careful not to think that we are any different than Nebuchadnezzar. Our own desire to be God is seen in numerous ways. Our worry and anxiety often reveals that we are sure we know better than God how our life should go. Much of our drive for beauty or success is a desire for a ‘glory’ and importance that only belongs to God.

People who live with kingdom distinctiveness are well aware of their lack and limits

Anytime we get overly upset at the loss of control in a situation, or the interruption of our plans or schedule, we are demonstrating that we have the same problem as Nebuchadnezzar.

How are you when someone interrupts your plans for a nice leisurely day?

How are you when your political party loses an election?

So if we are to live with kingdom distinctiveness we must come to terms with the location of our identity and our own personal lack. When we do, we hold everything in this world loosely. Nothing really rattles us.

How did kingdom distinctiveness play out in Daniel’s secular context?

I want you to notice the similarities and differences between Daniel’s behavior in chapters 1 and 2.

Similarities:

In chapter 1, Daniel was very tactful. We see this again in chapter 2:14. He is very “tactful” with a pagan (Arioch) who had power over him. He must have been a very winsome, persuasive man, since he knew how to talk attractively to people who should not have been inclined to listen.

Also, we again see Daniel depending on God to reveal that His wisdom is greater than their wisdom. Both chapter 1 and chapter 2 is a ‘wisdom contest’–of God’s wisdom against the Babylonians. In both situations, Daniel literally ‘stuck his neck out’, and if God had not answered or intervened, he would have been lost.

Both times there is both a compliance-and-yet-defiance balance. On the one hand, he is simply doing what the king has demanded–interpreting the dream as a wise man. He is doing his job. Yet on the other hand, he lets it be known very clearly that it is God who is the sole source of what he is doing. “no wise man, enchanter, or magician can explain to the king this mystery.” (v.27)

Daniel is giving God public credit

Differences:

In chapter 1, Daniel does not ‘make a federal case’ out of his conscience problem with eating the king’s food. He does everything he can not to publicly, dramatically profess his faith. He is not needlessly ‘showy and loud’ about his faith. In chapter 1 he only talks to the chief official about it. He does not crow, ‘We are believers! We will not eat defiled food!” There is no note of anything like that.

But here now, in chapter 2, the situation calls for tremendous boldness. He certainly could have told the king the dream without making such a strong statement as he does in v.27-28. He could have easily said, “King, here’s the dream and the interpretation”, instead of loudly saying, “what I am about to do should show you that my God is superior to all the learning and philosophy and religion of your Babylonian civilization!”

It is breath-taking to compare v.27 and v.12. When he says, “no human being can answer your question—only God” in v.27, he is saying exactly what the astrologers said in v.11 that set him into a rage. So Daniel, though he does not have to make such a bold public witness here–does so. While in chapter 1, when he could have done so—he did not.

Why not?

Daniel 2:17 Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 18 He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. 19 During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven 20 and said: “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. 21 He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. 22 He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him. 23 I thank and praise you, O God of my fathers: You have given me wisdom and power, you have made known to me what we asked of you, you have made known to us the dream of the king.”

I think the answer is that he was a man who sought for mercy and wisdom in prayer (ala Proverbs 26:4-5).

Daniel 6:10 tells us that he prayed three times a day. Daniel was a man of prayer and you can be sure that every time he prayed he was asking God for mercy and wisdom.

It’s important to realize that Daniel did not only seek for mercy and wisdom in prayer. He was also a man who prayed with a spirit of worship and adoration. His prayer of praise in vv.20-23 shows that in prayer Daniel did not only make petitions and requests, but he sought fellowship with and experience of God’s presence. It is not ‘petition’ but adoration that makes a person into the kind of greathearted courageous person that Daniel shows himself to be before the king.

What must we do to pull it off ourselves? How do you actually live with distinctiveness? How do we become people like this?

The answer is found in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. The important thing to understand is what the head of Nebuchadnezzar’s statue represents.

Daniel 2:36 “This was the dream, and now we will interpret it to the king. 37 You, O king, are the king of kings. The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory; 38 in your hands he has placed mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds of the air. Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them all. You are that head of gold.

So the gold head is Nebuchadnezzar. The point of the gold is to say that this kingdom of the world is considered a dazzling and awesome kingdom. It’s attractive and powerful. It’s where dreams can come true and life can be lived to the fullest. That is some of what the symbolism of the gold points to.

But notice what the feet are made of.

Daniel 2:32 The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, 33 its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay.

Question: What does this tell us? The very foundation of this dazzling kingdom of man is
weak and fragile. It has no lasting or abiding quality. It will crumble and fall. It’s just a
matter of time.

But notice what we learn in verse 34.

Daniel 2:34 While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them.

Verses 44-45 tell us more about this cut out rock.

Daniel 2:44 “In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. 45 This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands– a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces. “The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and the interpretation is trustworthy.”

Notice that . . .

This stone is “cut out, not by human hands” (v.34). This is in complete contrast to the statue, which is a work of the greatest human art, skill, and craftsman ship.

Stone is the least valuable of all the substances. So the kingdom of God is considered (by the world’s standards) to be something small and insignificant.

In actuality, the kingdom of God is eternal and unconquerable.

But here is the most significant thing we must recognize:

Matthew 21:42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? 43 “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. 44 He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.”

Jesus is the stone that (1) the kingdom of God is built upon, and (2) crushes the kingdoms of this earth.

If we are to live with kingdom distinctiveness, we must daily remember that there is no salvation to be found in the world—no lasting identity, no lasting satisfaction, no wholeness.

These things are only found in Jesus.

Your Right Hand Upholds Me

A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.

63:1 O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
3 Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
4 So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands.

5 My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
6 when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
7 for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
8 My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.

9 But those who seek to destroy my life
shall go down into the depths of the earth;
10 they shall be given over to the power of the sword;
they shall be a portion for jackals.
11 But the king shall rejoice in God;
all who swear by him shall exult,
for the mouths of liars will be stopped.

The Gospel is so rich. You can not not find the Gospel in this Psalm. Here are my thoughts in bite-size thoughts on the first eight verses:

  • We can only seek God in the Gospel (through Christ) v. 1
  • Jesus is the water of life; He is the One we thirst after. v. 1
  • The sanctuary of God is wherever God lives more specifically with true believers. David looks upon God via memories of corporate worship. v. 2
  • God Himself is better than drawing breath. v. 3, 4
  • David finds all of his longings met in God. v. 5, 6, 7
  • David clings to God with all his might, yet God’s right hand upholds him. We cling to God but Jesus (God’s Right Hand) upholds us in our clinging. v. 8

This is the Gospel. The Gospel is the power unto clinging and the Gospel upholds us in our clinging. It is all of God in Christ.