The Men Who Would Be King (Part 1)

(NOTE: All Scripture verses are taken from the New International Version, unless otherwise stated.)

FOCUS: Israel Demands A King!

BACKGROUND SCRIPTURE: 1 Samuel 8:1-21

Somewhere on the historical timeline between Moses and Elijah, Israel decided they wanted a king to rule over them “like all the other nations had.” So they asked the prophet Samuel to speak to the Lord on their behalf. And Samuel’s feelings were hurting as he went to the Lord in prayer . . .

“And the Lord told him: ‘Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who reigns over them will do…

“‘He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses . . . and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. . . . He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the Lord will not answer you in that day.’

“But THE PEOPLE REFUSED TO LISTEN . . . ‘We want to be like all the other nations and to go into battle before us and fight our battles.’

“When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the Lord. The Lord answered, ‘Listen to them and give them a king.'”

PROPHECY CONNECTION #1: 1 Samuel 10:17-24

The Lord God made good His promise and sent His servant Samuel to the man (hiding among the baggage) who would be Israel’s first king . . .

“Samuel summoned the people of Israel to the Lord at Mizpah and said to them , ‘This is what the Lord God of Israel, says: “I brought you up out of Egypt, and I delivered you from the power of Egypt and all the kingdoms that oppressed you. But you have now rejected the Lord your God, who saves you out of all your calamities and distresses. And you have said, ‘No, set a king over us.’ So now present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes and clans.'”‘

“When Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel near, the tribe of Benjamin was chosen. Then he brought forward the tribe of Benjamin, clan by clan, and Matri’s clan was chosen. Finally Saul son of Kish was chosen. But when they looked for him, he was not to be found. So they inquired further of the Lord, ‘Has the man come here yet?’

“And the Lord said, ‘Yes, he has hidden himself among the baggage.’

“They ran and brought him out, and as he stood among the people he was a head taller than any of the others.Samuel said to all the people, ‘Do you see the man the Lord has chosen? There is no one like him among all the people.’

“Then the people shouted, ‘Long live the king!'”

PROPHECY CONNECTION #2: 1 Samuel 15:1-29

Saul reigned over Israel for 42 years, but he did many foolish things that displeased the Lord God of Israel . . .

“. . . Samuel said [to Saul], ‘Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. And He sent you on a mission, saying, “Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; make war on them until you have wiped them out.” Why did you not obey the Lord? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the Lord?’

“‘But I did obey the Lord,’ Saul said. ‘I went on the mission the Lord assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the Lord your God at Gilgal.’ [verse 3: God had told Saul to completely destroy the Amalekites and everything that belonged to them!]

“But Samuel replied: ‘Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has rejected you as king. . . .

“As Samuel turned to leave, Saul caught hold of the hem of his robe, and it tore. Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to one of your neighbors — to one better than you. He who is the glory of Israel does not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man, that he should change His mind.'”

PROPHECY CONNECTION #3: 1 Samuel 15:35 – 16:13

Saul’s “neighbor” David, the youngest son born to Jesse of Bethlehem, would be anointed the next king of Israel . . .

The Lord said to Samuel, ‘How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.’

“. . . Samuel did what the Lord said. When he arrived in Bethlehem, the elders of the town trembled when they met him. They asked, ‘Do you come in peace?’

“Samuel replied, ‘Yes, in peace; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves and come to the sacrifice with me.’ Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the banquet.

“When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, ‘Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.’

“BUT the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’

“Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, ‘The Lord has not chosen this one either. . . . Are these all the sons you have?’

“‘There is still the youngest,’ Jesse answered, ‘but he is tending the sheep.’ . . . So he sent and had him brought in. He was ruddy, with a fine appearance and handsome features.

“Then the Lord said, ‘Rise and anoint him; he is the one.’

“So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power.”

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WHAT’S THE POINT?

When God answered the Israelites’ prayer for “a king to lead them,” He showed His chosen people that He does listen and respond. The historical consequences of His answer should stand as a continual reminder that we ought to be careful what we pray for.

HOW SHOULD WE RESPOND?

When God selected Saul as Israel’s first king, He demonstrated that He can use ANYBODY He chooses to accomplish His purpose and plan. And by trying to hide from God, Saul demonstrated that it’s not possible to “hide among your baggage” if God intends to use YOU!

WHY DOES IT MATTER?

God rejected Saul because he did not follow specific instructions that the Lord God gave to him through the prophet Samuel. The Lord wanted to encourage “stiff-necked” people to compare their fallible, human king with the tried-and-true, divine King whom they had rejected. Unfortunately, true to historical form, they didn’t get the message. So God switched to the plan that He’d intended to go with all along — the plan that would eventually introduce Israel to the King of kings, Jesus Christ!

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“Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart’ (1 Samuel 16:7).

The Men Who Would Be King (Part 2)

(NOTE: All Scripture verses are taken from the New International Version, unless otherwise stated.)

FOCUS: A Close Look At David’s Heart

BACKGROUND SCRIPTURE: 1 Samuel 16:6-13

Saul proved to be a seriously dysfunctional king, so the Lord God decided to appoint someone with a more promising heart attitude — David, son of Jesse . . .

“When they arrived [in Bethlehem], Samuel saw Eliab [David’s older brother] and said, ‘Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.’

But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’

“. . . Samuel said . . . ‘Are these all the sons you have?’

“‘There is still the youngest,‘ Jesse answered, ‘but he is tending the sheep.’ . . . So he sent and had him brought in. He was ruddy, with a fine appearance and handsome features.

“Then the Lord said, ‘Rise and anoint [David]; he is the one.’

“So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power.” (New International Version)

PROPHECY CONNECTION #1: 1 Samuel 20:1-17, 42

Even though the Lord God had rejected Saul and had anointed David king over Israel, many years would pass before David could claim the throne. During that time, jealous Saul tried continually to kill his successor. Ironically, David became best friends with Saul’s son, Jonathan . . .

“Then David … went to Jonathan and asked, ‘What have I done? What is my crime? How have I wronged your father, that he is trying to take my life?’

“‘Never!’ Jonathan replied. ‘You are not going to die! Look, my father doesn’t do anything, great or small, without confiding in me. Why would he hide this from me? It’s not so!’

“But David took an oath and said, ‘Your father knows very well that I have found favor in your eyes, and he has said to himself, “Jonathan must not know this or he will be grieved.” Yet as surely as the Lord lives and as you live, there is only a step between me and death.’

Jonathan said to David, ‘Whatever you want me to do, I’ll do it for you. . . . By the Lord, the God of Israel, I will surely sound out my father by this time the day after tomorrow! If he is favorably disposed toward you, will I not send you word and let you know? But if my father is inclined to harm you, may the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if I do not let you know and send you away safely. May the Lord be with you as He has been with my father. But show me unfailing kindness like that of the Lord as long as I live, so that I may not be killed, and do not ever cut off your kindness from my family — not even when the Lord has cut off every one of David’s enemies from the face of the earth.’

So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, ‘May the Lord call David’s enemies to account.’ And Jonathan had David reaffirm his oath out of love for him, because he loved him as he loved himself.’ . . .

“Jonathan said to David, ‘Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the Lord, saying “The Lord is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever.“‘”

PROPHECY CONNECTION #2: 2 Samuel 1:19-26

When David heard about the deaths of Saul and Jonathan, he wrote a lament for the two men who had been his most feared enemy and his most beloved friend . . .

“‘Your glory, O Israel, lies slain on your heights. How the mighty have fallen. . . . From the blood of the slain, from the flesh of the mighty, the bow of Jonathan did not turn back, the sword of Saul did not return unsatisfied.

“‘Saul and Jonathan, in life they were loved and gracious, and in death they were not parted. They were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions. O daughters of Israel, weep for Saul, who clothed you in scarlet and finery, who adorned your garments with ornaments of gold.

“‘How the mighty have fallen in battle! Jonathan lies slain on your heights. I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women.'”

PROPHECY CONNECTION #3: 2 Samuel 5:1 – 7:29

All the tribes of Israel came to David and anointed him king. He marched to Jerusalem, captured the fortress of Zion, and called it the City of David. As the ark of God’s covenant was brought into Jerusalem, King David “danced before the Lord with all his might,” and he blessed the people in the name of the Lord Almighty.

God’s promise to David:

“This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘I took you from the pasture and from following the flock to be ruler over my people Israel. I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies before you. Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men of the earth. And I will provide a place for my people Israel, and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. . . .

“‘When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with the rods of men, with floggings inflicted by men. But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever‘” (2 Samuel 7:8-16).

David’s prayer:

“Then King David went in and sat before the Lord, and said: ‘Who am I , Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? And as if this were not enough in your sight, O Sovereign Lord, you have also spoken about the future of the house of your servant. Is this your usual way of dealing with man, O Sovereign Lord?

“‘What more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Sovereign Lord. For the sake of your word and according to your will, you have done this great thing and made it known to your servant.

“‘How great you are, O Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears. And who is like your people Israel — the one nation on earth that God went out to redeem as a people for Himself, AND TO MAKE A NAME FOR HIMSELF, and to perform great and awesome wonders by driving out nations and their gods from before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt? You have established your people Israel as your very own forever, and you, O Lord, have become their God.

“‘And now, Lord God, keep forever the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house. Do as you promised so that your name will be great forever. Then men will say, “The Lord Almighty is God over Israel!” And the house of your servant David will be established before you‘” (2 Samuel 7:18-26).

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WHAT’S THE POINT?

David was a “man’s man.” He was a courageous warrior who captured Jerusalem and called it the City of David. He was also God’s man — chosen by the Sovereign Lord of his ancestor Jacob (renamed “Israel” by the Lord God) to be anointed second king over the nation of Israel. God chose David because he was “a man after His own heart,” unlike the first king, Saul, who did not keep the Lord’s command” (1 Samuel 13:13-14).

HOW SHOULD WE RESPOND?

David wasn’t perfect. But his heart desired to be righteous before Almighty God. He repeatedly humbled himself before the Lord and asked for forgiveness. His life story is recorded in 1st and 2nd Samuel as a reminder that God rewards obedience, but He also issues consequences for sinful behavior (2 Samuel 11 – 12).

WHY DOES IT MATTER?

Even though David made some totally wrong judgment calls — including having sex with a married woman and then arranging the death of her husband — God chose his bloodline as the conduit for a future descendant who would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23) in the town of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:5-6) and would be called “the Son of God; the King of Israel” (John 1:49).

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“The Lord takes delight in His people; He crowns the humble with salvation” (Psalm 149:4)

The Men Who Would Be King (Part 3)

(NOTE: All Scripture verses are taken from the New International Version, unless otherwise stated.)

FOCUS: Solomon, A Wise But Foolish King!

BACKGROUND SCRIPTURE: 1 Kings 2:1-4

God made it known to David that He was not happy about his decisions to take advantage of a married woman and to send her husband to the front lines of battle to be killed (see 2 Samuel 11-12). The illegitimate son of David and Bathsheba died, but God blessed them with another son. They named him Solomon, and “the Lord loved him” (2 Samuel 12:24).

When time drew near for David to die, he gave a charge to Solomon his son.

“‘I am about to go the way of all the earth,’ he said. ‘So be strong, show your self a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in His ways, and keep His decrees and commands, his laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go, and that the Lord may keep His promise to me: “If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a man on the throne of Israel”’”

PROPHECY CONNECTION #1: 1 Kings 2:46b; 3:5-14

Because (at first) Solomon showed his love for the Lord by obeying His statutes, as his father David had done, the Lord rewarded the young king . . .

The kingdom was now firmly established in Solomon’s hands. . . .

“At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, ‘Ask for whatever you want me to give you.’

“Solomon answered, ‘You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day.

Now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?

“The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. So God said to him, ‘Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.

“’Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for ” both riches and honor ” so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. And IF YOU WALK IN MY WAYS AND OBEY MY STATUTES AND COMMANDS AS DAVID YOUR FATHER DID, I will give you a long life.

PROPHECY CONNECTION #2: 1 Kings 6:1-38

David wanted to build a temple for the Lord, but God told him that He wanted his son Solomon to build a house for His Name (2 Samuel 7:1-17) . . .

“In the four hundred and eightieth year after the Israelites had come out of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, the second month, [Solomon] began to build the temple of the Lord. . . .

So Solomon built the temple of the Lord and completed it. . . . He partitioned off twenty cubits at the rear of the temple with cedar boards from floor to ceiling to form within the temple an inner sanctuary, the Most Holy Place. . . .

“In the eleventh year in the month of Bul, the eighth month, the temple was finished in all its details according to its specifications. He had spent seven years building it.”

PROPHECY CONNECTION #3: 1 Kings 10:23 – 11:13

God honored His promise to Solomon, and he became wealthy and wise beyond all the other kings on earth. Unfortunately, over the course of time, King Solomon chose to share his “discerning heart” with 700 wives, 300 concubines, and the false gods they worshiped. And the Lord became angry . . .

“King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth. The whole word sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart. Year after year, everyone who came brought a gift ” articles of silver and gold, robes, weapons and spices, and horses and mules.

“Solomon accumulated chariots and horses; he received fourteen hundred chariots and twelve thousand horses. . . .

“King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women . . . They were from nations about which the Lord had told the Israelites, ‘You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods. Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love. He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray. As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been. He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites. So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord . . .

The Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. . . . So the Lord said to Solomon, ‘Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates. Nevertheless, for the sake of David your father, I will not do it during your lifetime. I will tear it out of the hand of your son. Yet I will not tear the whole kingdom from him, but WILL GIVE HIM ONE TRIBE [JUDAH] FOR THE SAKE OF MY SERVANT DAVID AND FOR THE SAKE OF JERUSALEM, WHICH I HAVE CHOSEN.’”

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WHAT’S THE POINT?

Solomon started out on the right track, and God generously rewarded him. But when he began letting his heart rule over his head, Solomon sank deeper and deeper into the quicksand of sin, just like his father David had done. There was, however, one huge difference — ” David repented and asked the Lord God for forgiveness, while Solomon worshiped false gods and rejected his Creator.

HOW SHOULD WE RESPOND?

Jesus said it’s not easy for a rich man to enter God’s kingdom. Though Solomon had everything he could possibly desire, he betrayed the One who had blessed him with all of that wealth and wisdom. What a sobering reminder that when He blesses His children with prosperity, the Lord God expects that we will continue to honor Him with obedience and sincere worship.

WHY DOES IT MATTER?

God continued to honor His promise to David, even though his son Solomon failed to fulfill the conditions of the Davidic covenant. So instead of full authority over all the tribes of Israel, Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, was allowed limited rule over the southern kingdom of Judah — ” the tribal bloodline that would eventually produce Israel’s Messiah!

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“For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah . . .” (Hebrews 7:14, NIV).

The Men Who Would Be King (Part 4)

(NOTE: All Scripture verses are taken from the New International Version, unless otherwise stated.)

FOCUS: Israel, Divided

BACKGROUND SCRIPTURE: 1 Kings 11:42 – 12:24

David’s kingdom was inherited by his son, Solomon. But the son rejected his father’s legacy of faithfulness to the Lord God and chose to worship false gods instead. So after Solomon died, his son Rehoboam was given authority over only a portion of Israel – the southern kingdom, called Judah (the “Jews”), which included Jerusalem.

“Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel for forty years. Then he rested with his fathers and was buried in the city of David, his father. And Rehoboam his son succeeded him as king.

“Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all the Israelites had gone there to make him king. When Jeroboam son of Nebat heard of this (he was still in Egypt where he had fled from King Solomon), he returned from Egypt. So they sent for Jeroboam, and he and the whole assembly of Israel went to Rehoboam and said to him, ‘Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labor and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you.’ . . .

“The king answered the people harshly . . . and said, ‘My father made your yoke heavy; I will make it even heavier. . . .’ So the king did not listen to the people, for this turn of events was from the Lord, to fulfill the word the Lord had spoken . . .

“When all Israel saw that the king refused to listen to them, they answered the king: ‘What share do we have in David, what part in Jesse’s son? To your tents, O Israel! Look after your own house, O David!’

“So the Israelites went home. But as for the Israelites who were living in the town of Judah, Rehoboam still ruled over them . . . So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day.

“When all the Israelites heard that Jeroboam had returned, they sent and called him to the assembly and made him king over all Israel. Only the tribe of Judah remained loyal to the house of David.

[At that point, Israel was divided into two kingdoms — Israel and Judah. Judah was composed of tribes Judah and Benjamin, plus people from the other 10 tribes who chose to stay with the descendants of David. So all 12 tribes were represented within Judah.]

“When Rehoboam arrived in Jerusalem, he mustered the whole house of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin – a hundred and eighty thousand fighting men – to make war against the house of Israel and to regain the kingdom for Rehoboam son of Solomon.

“But this word of God came to Shemaiah the man of God: ‘Say to Rehoboam son of Solomon king of Judah, to the whole house of Judah and Benjamin*, and to the rest of the people, “This is what the Lord says: Do not go up to fight against your brothers, the Israelites. Go home, every one of you, for this is my doing.”’ So they obeyed the word of the Lord and went home again, as the Lord had ordered.”

* The writer says in verse 18 that “only the tribe of Judah was left.” Then in verse 21, he says that Rehoboam “mustered the whole house of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin.” Perhaps this is where the tradition was born that contends there were 10 tribes in the northern kingdom and 2 tribes in the southern kingdom. So when the northern kingdom of “Israel” was exiled to Assyria, historians have called call those who were taken captive “THE TEN LOST TRIBES OF ISRAEL.” (One of those “lost tribes” was recently located in Ethiopia!)

PROPHECY CONNECTION #1: 2 Kings 17:1-23

Israel (the northern kingdom) and Judah (the southern kingdom) each had a series of kings who ruled over them. Though some of those kings did what was right, but the majority chose to do “evil in the eyes of the Lord.” And Almighty God decided it was time to do something about Israel’s rebellious behavior . . .

“In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah, Hoshea son of Elah became king of Israel in Samaria, and he reigned for nine years….

“In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria and deported the Israelites to Assyria. . . .

“All this took place because the Israelites had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of Egypt from under the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt [Exodus 2-14]. They worshiped other gods and followed the practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before them, as well as the practices that the kings of Israel had introduced. The Israelites secretly did things against the Lord their God that were not right. . . . They did wicked things that provoked the Lord to anger. They worshiped idols, though the Lord had said, ‘You shall not do this.

The Lord warned Israel and Judah through all His prophets and seers: ‘Turn from your evil ways, Observe my commands and decrees. In accordance with the entire Law that I commanded your fathers to obey and that I delivered to you through my servants the prophets.’

“But they would not listen and were as stiff-necked as their fathers, who did not trust in the Lord their God. They rejected His decrees and the covenant He had made with their fathers and the warnings He had given them. They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless. They imitated the nations around them although the Lord had ordered them, ‘Do not do as they do,’ and they did the things the Lord had forbidden them to do. . . . They sacrificed their sons and daughters in the fire. They practiced divination and sorcery and sold themselves to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, provoking Him to anger.

“So the Lord was very angry with Israel and removed them from His presence. Only the tribe of Judah was left, and even Judah did not keep the commands of the Lord their God. They followed the practices Israel had introduced. Therefore the Lord rejected all the people of Israel; He afflicted them and gave them into the hands of plunderers, until He thrust them from His presence. . . .

So the people of Israel [the northern kingdom] were taken from their homeland into EXILE IN ASSYRIA, and they are still there.”

PROPHECY CONNECTION #2: 2 Chronicles 36:15-21

The people of Judah — the Jews — continued to ignore the warnings of God’s prophets to obey the covenant laws given through Moses to the descendants of Jacob (a.k.a. Israel). That included God’s instructions to allow the Promised Land “its sabbath rests” [Leviticus 26:42-43]. Once again, Almighty God waited patiently for His chosen people to repent of their evil ways and humbly return to Him. But after the reign of twenty kings and the passing of hundreds of years, the Sovereign Lord was once again provoked to anger . . .

The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent word to them through His messengers again and again, because He had pity on His people and on His dwelling place [the temple built by Solomon in Jerusalem]. But they mocked God’s messengers, despised His words and scoffed at His prophets until the wrath of the Lord was aroused against His people and there was no remedy.

HE BROUGHT UP THE KING OF THE BABYLONIANS, who killed their young men with the sword in the sanctuary, and spared neither young man nor young woman, old man or aged. God handed all of them over to Nebuchadnezzar. He carried to Babylon all the articles from the temple of God . . . They set fire to God’s temple and broke down the wall of Jerusalem . . . He [Nebuchadnezzar] CARRIED INTO EXILE TO BABYLON the remnant, who escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and his sons until the kingdom of Persia came to power. The land enjoyed its sabbath rests; all the time of its desolation it rested, until the SEVENTY YEARS were completed* in fulfillment of the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah [Jeremiah 25:8-11].

*After the seventy years were completed, the Medo-Persians conquered the Babylonians, just as the Lord foretold through His servant Daniel (Daniel 2:31-32, 39). And just as the Lord God had foretold through His prophet Jeremiah, Cyrus king of Persia proclaimed: “The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me ALL THE KINGDOMS OF THE EARTH and he has appointed me to build a temple for Him at Jerusalem in Judah” (Ezra 1:2). And all of God’s people, who had been held captive in Babylon, were encouraged to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. But Israel ceased to be an independent nation, and it was ruled and shaped by the kings of three powerful empires – Medo-Persia, Greece, and ultimately Rome.

PROPHECY CONNECTION #3: Luke 19:35-44

The captives returned to Jerusalem and the temple was rebuilt. But for more than 500 years, the descendants of Israel who lived in and around Jerusalem were ruled by non-Jewish kings. Then, in approximately 33 A.D., the King they had been waiting for finally made His entrance into Jerusalem. But they failed to recognize the legitimate heir to David’s throne . . .

“They brought [the donkey] to Jesus, threw their cloaks over the colt and put Jesus on it. As He went along, people spread their cloaks on the road. . . .

As He approached Jerusalem and saw the city, He wept over it and said, ‘If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace – but it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. . . . They will not leave one stone on another*, because you did not recognize the time of God coming to you.’”

* This prophecy was literally fulfilled in 70 A.D. when the Romans took Jerusalem, using an embankment to besiege the city. The temple was completely destroyed by fire, and its stones were pried apart to collect the gold leaf that had melted from the roof. In 1968, archaeologists uncovered large numbers of stones that had toppled from the walls. (Source: NIV Study Bible)

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WHAT’S THE POINT?

This important portion of Israel’s history is unknown to many people. It’s important because it shows the pattern of human behavior that Father God has had to deal with and respond to since He liberated Israel from Egypt, thousands of years ago. It helps modern-day believers understand “why the Lord brought all this disaster on them” (1 Kings 9:9). And it shows how the descendants of Israel, as a whole, came to be called “Jews” – probably after the northern kingdom (and a majority of people from each of those 10 tribes) was exiled to Assyria, leaving Judah as the dominant remaining tribe.

HOW SHOULD WE RESPOND?

The pattern of unfaithful behavior demonstrated by the descendants of ancient Israel continues throughout the world to this day. Many people who suddenly turned to God for comfort and survival in the days immediately following 9/11, have returned to the normalcy of daily life and are now questioning if God really exists! The Lord God’s “hand is still raised” but His patience is no doubt wearing thin.

WHY DOES IT MATTER?

As events unfold that signal “the end of the age” (Matthew 24:3), followers of Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, can cling to historical evidence that God is unchanging in how He responds to sincere and humble hearts. He keeps His promises. And He continues to watch over “the throne of David.

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“. . . if you or your sons turn away from me and do not observe the commands and decrees I have given you and go off and serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land I have given them and I will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name.

“Israel will then become a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples.”

— The Lord God, speaking to Solomon (1 Kings 9:6-7)

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Check out the Prophecy Connections archive!

LINK: http://injesus.com/index.php?module=message&task=list&GroupID=0B006QLF#messagesPanel

The Men Who Would Be King (Part 5)

(NOTE: All Scripture verses are taken from the New International Version, unless otherwise stated.)

FOCUS: Daniel’s Insight Concerning Future Kings

BACKGROUND SCRIPTURE: Daniel 9:20-23

Daniel lived in Babylon during the full seventy years of Judah’s captivity. And he was commended by the archangel Gabriel . . .

“While I [Daniel] was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and making my request to the Lord my God for His holy hill – while I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice. He instructed me and said to me, ‘Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding… for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the message and understand the vision . . .’”

PROPHECY CONNECTION #1: Daniel 2:1-45 (Four ancient kingdoms)

An unusual dream provided an avenue for God’s servant Daniel to enter into a close relationship with pagan King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. The king dreamt of a huge statue divided into four distinct parts – a gold head, silver chest and arms, bronze belly and thighs, and legs of iron — and the Lord God revealed to Daniel that each section represented a future kingdom that would rule over the entire, known world . . .

[Daniel speaking to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon] “You, O king, are the king of kings. The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory; in your hands He has placed all 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.

After you, another kingdom will arise, inferior to yours.

“Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth.

“Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron – for iron breaks and smashes everything – and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others. Just as you saw that THE FEET AND TOES WERE PARTLY OF BAKED CLAY AND PARTLY OF IRON, so this will be a divided kingdom, yet it will have some strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay. . . . this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.

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. . . .

“The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and the interpretation is trustworthy.” (NIV)

FULFILLED PROPHECY: World history shows that the four kingdoms represented in King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream have risen and fallen, just as Daniel’s interpretation foretold.

Kingdom #1: THE HEAD OF GOLD was King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon (king over all the known world).

Kingdom #2: THE CHEST AND ARMS OF SILVER symbolized the Medes and Persians, a combined empire which was considered “inferior” to that of the Babylonians.

Kingdom #3: THE BELLY AND THIGHS OF BRONZE represented the Greek Empire, established by Alexander the Great. And when Alexander died, the kingdom was divided (the statue’s thighs).

Kingdom #4: THE LEGS OF IRON and FEET OF IRON AND CLAY, the Roman Empire was strong and brutal. And unlike the three kingdoms that preceded it, the Romans were never “conquered.” That leads scholars to believe that modern-day global society (with a mixture of people that “will not remain united”) could be considered an extension of the fourth kingdom – the Roman Empire.

PROPHECY TO BE FULFILLED: The fifth kingdom in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream will be set up by God and will never be destroyed. It will crush all the other kingdoms, represented by the statue of gold, silver, bronze, iron and clay, and some believe that the current gathering of nations against Israel could be setting the stage for complete fulfillment of this ancient prophecy!

PROPHECY CONNECTION #2: Daniel 7:1-18 (Four kingdoms within the Roman Empire)

Another prophecy came to Daniel in a dream and involved four great beasts – the first looked like a lion, the second like a bear, the third like a leopard, and the fourth was terrifying . . .

“In the first year of King Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream, and visions passed through his mind as he was lying on his bed. He wrote down the substance of his dream.

“Daniel said: ‘In my vision at night I looked, and there before me were the four winds of heaven churning up the great sea. FOUR GREAT BEASTS, each different from the others, came up out of the sea.

“’The first was like a lion, and it had the wings of an eagle. . . .

“’And there before me was a second beast, which looked like a bear. . . .

“’After that, I looked, and there before me was another beast, one that looked like a leopard. . . .

“’After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast – terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns. While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them; and three of the horns were uprooted before it. This horn had eyes like a man and a mouth that spoke boastfully. . . .

[The interpretation:] “’The four great beasts are FOUR GREAT KINGDOMS that will rise from the earth. But the saints of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever . . .’”

FULFILLED PROPHECY: Though prophecy experts debate the meaning of the symbols in this prophecy, world history shows that after Jerusalem fell to the Romans in 70 A.D., three “great kingdoms” became separate entities over the course of time. Those formidable world powers were:

Kingdom #1: Great Britain (possibly symbolized by the lion) and the United States of America (the eagle’s wings attached to the lion)

Kingdom #2: Russia (the bear)

Kingdom #3: Germany (the leopard or “panther”).

PROPHECY TO BE FULFILLED: The last two kingdoms – “the fourth beast” and God’s eternal kingdom – have not clearly arrived on the world scene.

PROPHECY CONNECTION #3: Daniel 7:19-27 (The fourth kingdom and THE GLOBAL RULER)

The “four beasts prophecy” revealed to Daniel gave specific details about the fourth kingdom and the king who will rule the world until God’s everlasting kingdom is established!

“Then I [Daniel] wanted to know the true meaning of the fourth beast, which was different from all the others and most terrifying, with its iron teeth and bronze claws – the beast that crushed and devoured its victims and trampled under foot whatever was left. I also wanted to know about the TEN HORNS on its head and about THE OTHER HORN that came up, before which three of them fell – the horn that looked more imposing that the others.

[The interpretation:] “’The fourth beast is a FOURTH KINGDOM that will appear on earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it. The ten horns are TEN KINGS who will come from this kingdom. After them ANOTHER KING will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings. He will speak against the Most High and oppress His saints and try to change the set times and laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times, and half a time [3 ½ years].

“’But the court will sit and his power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever. Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the rulers will worship and obey Him.’”

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WHAT’S THE POINT?

Many of the prophecies given to Daniel have proved 100% accurate, and there is historical data to back them up. (Of course, the interpretations of symbolic language will differ depending on which book or blog you read.)

HOW SHOULD WE RESPOND?

God gave Daniel a glimpse into the future history of planet earth, beginning with the reign of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon – the time in which Daniel was living – and ending with the reign of a global dictator who will ultimately be “destroyed forever.” Though it may not seem like it these days, GOD IS IN CONTROL of world events. And we can trust Him with the events that shape our individual lives!

WHY DOES IT MATTER?

When we compare the “enormous, dazzling statue” dream and its interpretation with Daniel’s four beasts vision, the following facts appear concerning the final kingdom in world history: (1) The kingdom will be divided; partly strong and partly brittle. And (2) the people will NOT be united “any more than iron mixes with clay.” (Daniel 2:40-43)

The statue had ten toes, representing ten kings. “In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed,” and it will crush all the other kingdoms. (Daniel 2:44)

The fourth beast also represents the final kingdom in world history. It had ten horns, representing ten kings. In the time of those kings, another powerful king will arise and will “subdue” three of the ten ruling kings. That dominant king “will speak against the Most High and oppress His saints for 3 ½ years. But God will prevail and “the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High God. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey Him!” (Daniel 7:23-27).

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“Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to Him . . . don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed . . .” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3, NIV).

The Men Who Would Be King (Part 6)

(NOTE: All Scripture verses are taken from the New International Version, unless otherwise stated.)

FOCUS: Daniel’s Vision of “A Time Yet To Come”

BACKGROUND SCRIPTURE: Daniel 10:1-14

Daniel was honored in the spiritual realms because he set his mind to gain understanding, and he humbled himself before the Lord his God . . .

“In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia [the king who encouraged the Jews to return to Jerusalem (Ezra 1:1-7)], a revelation was given to Daniel . . . Its message was true and it concerned a great war. The understanding of the message came to him in a vision.

“At that time, I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.

“On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river, the Tigris, I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen with a belt of the finest gold around his waist. His body was like chrysolite, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude. [Compare John’s description of the heavenly messenger he saw in Revelation 1:12-15.]

“. . . I heard him speaking, and as I listened to him, I fell into a deep sleep, my face to the ground.

“A hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. He said, ‘Daniel, you who are highly esteemed, consider carefully the words I am about to speak to you, and stand up, for I have now been sent to you.’ And when he said this to me, I stood up trembling.

“Then he continued, ‘Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. . . . Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people [the Jews] in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come. . . .’”

PROPHECY CONNECTION #1: Daniel 11:2-20

The following prophecies foretold the rise and fall of pagan kings. Hindsight shows that they were amazingly accurate.

“’Now then, I tell you the truth: Three more kings will appear in Persia [Cambyses, Pseudo-Smerdis, Darius I Hystaspes (from 550 to 486 B.C.)], and then a fourth [Xerxes I (486-465)], who will be far richer than all the others. When he has gained power by his wealth, he will stir up everyone against the kingdom of Greece. Then a mighty king will appear [Alexander the Great of Greece (336-323)], who will rule with great power and do as he pleases. After he has appeared, his empire will be broken up and parceled out toward the four winds of heaven. It will not go to his descendants, nor will it have the power he exercised, because his empire will be uprooted and given to others.

“’The king of the South [Ptolemy I Solter of Egypt (323-285 B.C.)] will become strong, but one of his commanders [Seleucus I Nicator (311-280)] will become even stronger than he and will rule his own kingdom with great power. After some years, they will become allies. The daughter of the king of the South [Bernice, daughter of Ptolemy II Philadelphus of Egypt (285-246)] will go to the king of the North [Antiochus II Theos of Syria (261-246)] to make an alliance, but she will not retain her power, and he and his power will not last. In those days she will be handed over, together with her royal escort and her father and the one who supported her.

“’One from her family line will arise [Bernice’s brother, Ptolemy III Euergetes of Egypt (246-221 B.C.)] to take her place. He will attack the forces of the king of the North [SeleucusII Callinicus of Syria (246-226)] and enter his fortress; he will fight against them and be victorious. He will also seize their gods, their metal images and their valuable articles of silver and gold and carry them off to Egypt. For some years he will leave the king of the North alone. Then the king of the North [Syria] will invade the realm of the king of the South [Egypt] but will retreat to his own country [Callinucus was defeated and returned to Syria]. His sons [Seleucus III Ceraunus and Antiochus III, called “the Great”] will prepare for war and assemble a great army, which will sweep on like an irresistible flood and carry the battle as far as his fortress.

“‘Then the king of the South [Ptolemy IV Philopator of Egypt (221-203 B.C.)] will march out in a rage and fight against the king of the North [Antiochus the Great], who will raise a large army, but it will be defeated. When the army is carried off, the king of the South [Ptolemy V Epiphanes of Egypt (203-181)] will be filled with pride and will slaughter many thousands, yet he will not remain triumphant. For the king of the North [Antiochus] will muster another army, larger than the first; and after several years, he will advance with a huge army fully equipped.

“’In those times many will rise against the king of the South [Ptolemy V]. The violent men among your own people [Jews joined the forces of Antiochus] will rebel in fulfillment of the vision, but without success. Then the king of the North [Antiochus] will come and build up siege ramps and will capture a fortified city. The forces of the South [Ptolemy V] will be powerless to resist; even their best troops will not have the strength to stand. The invader [Antiochus controlled the Holy Land by 197 B.C.] will do as he pleases; no one will be able to stand against him. He will establish himself in the Beautiful Land [Israel] and will have the power to destroy it. He will determine to come with the might of his entire kingdom and will make an alliance with the king of the South [Ptolemy V]. And he will give him a daughter [Antiochus’ daughter Cleopatra I] in marriage in order to overthrow the kingdom, but his plans will not succeed or help him. Then he will turn his attention to the coastlands and will take many of them, but a commander [Lucias Cornelius Scipio Asiaticus of Rome] will put an end to his insolence and will turn his insolence back upon him. After this, he will turn back toward the fortresses of his own country but will stumble and fall, to be seen no more [Antiochus the Great died in battle in 187 B.C.].

“’His successor [Seleucus IV Philopator, Antiochus’ son] will send out a tax collector to maintain the royal splendor. In a few years, however, he will be destroyed [the victim of conspiracy], yet not in anger or in battle.’”

Sources:The NIV Study Bible (Zondervan) and Every Prophecy of the Bible by John F. Walvoord

PROPHECY CONNECTION #2: Daniel 11:21-35

Antiochus the Great was succeeded by his son, Seleucus IV Philopator. After Seleucus was killed, the throne should have been given to his young son. But Seleucus’ younger brother, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, seized power from the rightful heir by a series of intrigues and murders. And he persecuted the Jewish people throughout his entire reign (175 -164 B.C.) . . .

“’He [Antiochus IV Epiphanes] will be succeeded by a contemptible person who has not been given the honor of royalty. He will invade the kingdom when its people feel secure, and he will seize it through intrigue. Then an overwhelming army will be swept away before him; both it and a prince of the covenant will be destroyed. After coming to an agreement with him, he will act deceitfully, and with only a few people he will rise to power. When the richest provinces feel secure, he will invade them and will achieve what neither his fathers nor his forefathers did. He will distribute plunder, loot and wealth among his followers. He will plot the overthrow of fortresses—but only for a time.

“’With a large army he will stir up his strength and courage against the king of the South [Ptolemy VI of Egypt]. The king of the South will wage war with a large and very powerful army, but he will not be able to stand because of the plots devised against him. Those who eat from the king’s provisions will try to destroy him; his army will be swept away, and many will fall in battle. The two kings [Antiochus and Ptolemy], with their hearts bent on evil, will sit at the same table and lie to each other, but to no avail, because an end will still come at the appointed time. The king of the North will return to his own country with great wealth, but his heart will be set against the holy covenant. He will take action against it [Antiochus plundered the temple in Jerusalem and massacred many Jews (169 B.C.)] and then return to his own country.

“’At the appointed time he will invade the South again, but this time the outcome will be different from what it was before. Ships of the western coastlands will oppose him, and he will lose heart. Then he will turn back and vent his fury against the holy covenant. He will return and show favor to those who forsake the holy covenant.

“’His armed forces will rise up to desecrate the temple fortress and will abolish the daily sacrifice. Then they will set up the abomination that causes desolation [God’s altar was desecrated when Antiochus set up an altar to his pagan god Zeus.] With flattery he will corrupt those who have violated the covenant, but the people who know their God will firmly resist him.

“’Those who are wise will instruct many, though for a time they will fall by the sword or be burned or captured or plundered. [The altar of the temple was rededicated in 165 B.C.] When they fall, they will receive a little help, and many who are not sincere will join them. Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time.’”

Sources: The NIV Study Bible (Zondervan) and Every Prophecy of the Bible by John F. Walvoord

PROPHECY CONNECTION #3: Daniel 11:36-45

Verses 36-45 give details that do not fit what was known of Antiochus Epiphanes. Prophecy scholars believe the king described here has not yet appeared on the world stage . . .

“’The king will do as he pleases. He will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will say unheard-of things against the God of gods. He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed, for what has been determined must take place. He will show no regard for the gods of his fathers or for the one desired by women, nor will he regard any god, but will exalt himself above them all. Instead of them, he will honor a god of fortresses; a god unknown to his fathers he will honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and costly gifts. He will attack the mightiest fortresses with the help of a foreign god and will greatly honor those who acknowledge him. He will make them rulers over many people and will distribute the land at a price.

“’At the time of the end the king of the South will engage him in battle, and the king of the North will storm out against him with chariots and cavalry and a great fleet of ships. He will invade many countries and sweep through them like a flood. He will also invade the Beautiful Land [Israel]. Many countries will fall, but Edom, Moab and the leaders of Ammon [modern-day Jordan] will be delivered from his hand. He will extend his power over many countries; Egypt will not escape. He will gain control of the treasures of gold and silver and all the riches of Egypt, with the Libyans and Nubians in submission. But reports from the east and the north will alarm him, and he will set out in a great rage to destroy and annihilate many. He will pitch his royal tents between the seas at the beautiful holy mountain [the Temple Mount in Jerusalem]. Yet he will come to his end, and no one will help him.’”

Sources: The NIV Study Bible (Zondervan)

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WHAT’S THE POINT?

Moses said to the Israelites: “You may ask yourselves, ‘How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the Lord?’ If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously” (Deuteronomy 18:21-22, NIV). Obviously, Daniel was not a presumptuous prophet!

HOW SHOULD WE RESPOND?

Many claim that Daniel could not have foretold such meticulous details about the future. But those who know the Lord God and who abide in Him have no trouble believing the fulfillment of prophecy that can be proven by historical records. Are we living in the same generation as “the king who will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will say unheard of things against the God of gods”? No one knows for sure. But it’s unlikely that followers of Christ will be caught off-guard if they know about the historical connections to Daniel’s prophecies — and particularly this major prophecy that is yet to be fulfilled.

WHY DOES IT MATTER?

Jesus’ disciples asked, “What will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3) The Son of God didn’t respond with a history lesson about the contemptible king, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who desecrated the altar of God by erecting a statue of himself as the god Zeus.* Instead, He gave a general timeline that included mention of “the abomination that causes desolation, spoken of through the prophet Daniel.” After all, the Antiochus incident was past history, and Jesus disciples wanted to know about the future. They must have really felt confused when, in 70 A.D., the second temple — built on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem – was completely destroyed, just as Jesus had said it would be (Matthew 24:2). And to this day it has not been rebuilt!

* “Torah observance was outlawed and the imperial cult brought into the Jewish temple itself with the erection of a statue of Antiochus as Zeus with a Hellenistic altar of sacrifice. Jews who resisted were subject to execution.”

(LINK: http://virtualreligion.net/iho/antiochus_4.html)

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“[The false prophet] deceived the inhabitants of the earth. He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast . . . and cause[d] all who refused to worship the image to be killed” (Revelation 13:14-15).

The Men Who Would Be King (Part 7)

(NOTE: All Scripture verses are taken from the New International Version, unless otherwise stated.)

FOCUS: The King Who Will Set Up an Abomination in the Temple

BACKGROUND SCRIPTURE: Daniel 12:1-13

A supernatural messenger gave God’s servant Daniel a detailed prophecy (see Part 6) concerning men who would be pagan kings over Judah – the southern kingdom of Jacob’s remaining descendants who were held captive in Babylon for 70 years. (The northern kingdom of Israel had been taken captive years earlier by the king of Assyria, and a majority of the people who belonged to those 10 tribes were scattered throughout the nations.) The “man clothed in linen” told Daniel about a future king, who “will pitch his royal tents between the seas at the beautiful holy mountain” – the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Then he ended the prophecy with these words:

“’At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people [the Jews], will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of the nations until then. But at that time your people – everyone whose name is found written in the book – will be delivered. Multitudes to sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.

“’Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. But you, Daniel, close up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end.. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.’

“Then I, Daniel, looked, and there before me stood two others . . . One of them said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, ‘How long will it be until these astonishing things are fulfilled?’

“The man clothed in linen . . . lifted his right hand and his left hand toward heaven, and I heard him swear by Him who lives forever, saying, ‘It will be for a time, times, and half a time*. When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed.’

“I heard, but I did not understand. So I asked, ‘My lord, what will the outcome of all this be?’

“He replied, ‘Go your way, Daniel, because the words are closed up and sealed until the time of the end. Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand.

“’From the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination that causes desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days**. Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of the 1,335 days.

“’As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance.’

* “a time, times, and half a time” = 1 year + 2 years + ½ a year OR 3 ½ years (30-day months)

** 1,290 days = 3 years and 7 months (30-day months)

PROPHECY CONNECTION #1: Daniel 9:27 and Matthew 24:15-22

The angel Gabriel gave Daniel a prophecy which Jesus referred to when He was asked about “the end of the age” . . .

Daniel 9:25-27: “’Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One [Jesus], the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens’ . . . the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing [Jesus was crucified and left “nothing” after His death – soldiers even cast lots for His one piece of clothing].

“’The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary [Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed by Roman armies in 70 A.D.] The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. He [another “ruler who will come”] will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven’ [7 years]. In the middle of the ‘seven’ [3 ½ years] he will put an end to sacrifice and offering [see Daniel 12:11]. And on a wing of the temple, he will set up an abomination that causes desolation [Daniel 12:11], until the end that is decreed is poured out on him’” [see Daniel 11:45].

Matthew 24:4-25: “Jesus answered, ‘Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, “I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come….

“’So when you see standing in the holy place the abomination that causes desolation, spoken of through the prophet Daniel – let the reader understand – then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. . . . For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now – and never to be equaled again [see Daniel 12:2].

“’If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect, those days will be shortened. . . . See, I have told you ahead of time.’”

PROPHECY CONNECTION #2: 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12

The apostle Paul wrote about a man who would set himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God (Remember what Antiochus IV Epiphanes did back in Study #6, Prophecy Connection #2?) . . .

“Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to Him, we ask you brothers not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter . . . Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction [Daniel 9:27]. He will oppose and exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God. . . .

“The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refuse to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.”

PROPHECY CONNECTION #3: Revelation 13:1-18

Jesus’ best friend, John, also wrote about a man who would “blaspheme God” and “slander His name and His dwelling place” whom he called “the beast.” And he introduced a second man – identified in Rev. 20:10 as “the false prophet” – who will be responsible for promoting the man of lawlessness . . .

“And the dragon [Satan] stood on the shore of the sea.

“And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority. One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was astonished and followed the beast. Men worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?”

“The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months [3 1/2 years]. He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.

“He who has an ear, let him hear.
If anyone is to go into captivity,
into captivity he will go.
If anyone is to be killed with the sword,
with the sword he will be killed.

“This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints.

“Then I saw another beast, coming out of the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon. He exercised all the authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men. Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth. He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword* and yet lived. He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name.

“This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man’s number. His number is 666.”

* The Greek word used for “sword” in this verse could mean “judicial punishment” rather than a literal injury inflicted by a weapon. (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance; 3162 – “machaira” = “judicial punishment”) Presidential impeachment is one example of judicial punishment.

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WHAT’S THE POINT?

With so many prophecies concerning “the end of the age” being fulfilled since the rebirth of the nation of Israel in 1948, and with the 40th anniversary (in 2007) of the Six-Day War when Israel recaptured Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, many students of Bible prophecy are carefully watching the world stage for the announcement of a “covenant with many for seven years” in the Middle East; for the rebuilding of God’s temple on Mount Moriah (the Temple Mount); and for the emergence of a “man of lawlessness” who seems to have had a “fatal wound” — inflicted by a “sword” of judicial punishment — that has been healed.

HOW SHOULD WE RESPOND?

Jesus forewarned His disciples concerning “end times” signs to watch for and the persecution that His followers would be subject to (Matthew 24:3-14). He also gave instructions on WHAT TO DO “when you see standing in the holy place the abomination that causes desolation” (Matthew 24:15-28). The gospel-writer Luke, quoted Jesus as saying: “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. . . . Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. . . . nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive at what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time, they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:20-28).

WHY DOES IT MATTER?

Jews who have not accepted Jesus as their Savior are still waiting for their Messiah to appear. They know that prophecy says the Messiah WILL BE A DIRECT DESCENDANT OF KING DAVID.

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THINK ABOUT IT: Currently, Jerusalem is being surrounded by hostile armies; nations are in anguish and perplexity; men “faint from terror” and people are apprehensive about what is coming on the world. And the lie is being spread world-wide that, to this day, Jesus’ blood flows through the veins of living descendants, called the Merovingian bloodline* – who claim to be “direct descendants” of Mary Magdalene. . . and King David.

* The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown

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“This is what the Sovereign LORD says:

“’I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel.

“’There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms. They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offenses, for I will save them from all their sinful backsliding, and I will cleanse them.

“‘They will be my people, and I will be their God.

“‘My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd.

“’They will follow my laws and be careful to keep my decrees.

“’They will live in the land I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where your fathers lived.

“’They and their children and their children’s children will live there forever, and David my servant will be their prince forever.’”

(Ezekiel 37:20-25)