Home Bible Study

"Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen.
Revelation 22:20

This is a Home Bible study. It exists to promote the Word of God as it's written, which means nothing added or taken away, and minus opinions.

The Bible is the only source of Divine Truth in the world today. Although it is helpful and informative in many ways, the Bible might not tell us everything we want to know but the Bible does tell us everything we need to know.

My role is to guide you through the Scriptures; to explain what this book says and in some cases what it does not say because this is just as important.

Ultimately, you have a decision to make concerning your salvation - no one can make it for you. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator God, has given everyone the ability to make choices - this is is called "Free Will." I pray you consider your choice wisely.

II Timothy 2:15

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Bible Prophecy - Continued

November 25, 2010                                                                                                                 
Bonus Lesson – 7                                                                                                                     
Daniel 6

The Medo-Persian Empire (The Chest of Silver)

The southern kingdom of divided Israel came under the control of the Medo-Persian Empire in the year 539 BCE (approximately).
Belshazzar was the son of Nabonidus, who after ruling only three years, went to the oasis of Tayma and devoted himself to the worship of the moon god, Sin.  He made Belshazzar co-regent in 553 B.C., leaving him in charge of Babylon's defense.

In 540 B.C. Nabonidus returned from Tayma, hoping to defend his kingdom from the Persians who were planning to advance on Babylon.  Belshazzar was positioned in the city of Babylon to hold the capital, while Nabonidus marched his troops north to meet Cyrus.  On October 10, 539 B.C. Nabonidus surrendered and fled from Cyrus.  Two days later the Persian armies overthrew the city of Babylon.
Belshazzar was the last king of Babylon according to the Book of Daniel.  Like his father, it is believed by many scholars that he was an Assyrian.  In the Book of Daniel (chapters 5 and 8) of the Jewish Tanakh or Christian Old Testament, Belshazzar is the King of Babylon before the advent of the Medes and Persians.

Daniel 5:1-4 describes "Belshazzar's Feast" in which the sacred vessels of Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem, which had been brought to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar at the time of the Captivity were profaned by the company.  The narrative unfolds against the background of the impending arrival of the Persian armies.
1: "King Belshazzar gave a great banquet for a thousand of his nobles and drank wine with them.  2: While Belshazzar was drinking his wine, he gave orders to bring in the gold and silver goblets that Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken from the temple in Jerusalem, so that the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines might drink from them.  3: So they brought in the gold goblets that had been taken from the temple of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines drank from them.  4: As they drank the wine, they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone.  
In consequence of this, during the festivities, a hand was seen writing on the wall of the chamber a mysterious sentence mene mene tekel upharsin, which defied all attempts at interpretation.  Some Rabbinic interpretations (notably the mention in the Babylonian Talmud) say that the words were written in code; one possibility was that it was an atbash cipher, another being that the written Aramaic and Hebrew looked very different, even though they were pronounced similarly.                                  
Still, their natural denotations of weights and measures were superficially meaningless: "two minas, a shekel and two parts."  In the verb form, they were: mene, to number; tekel, to weigh; upharsin, to divide—literally "numbered, weighed, and divided".   When the Hebrew Daniel was called in, he read and interpreted the words.  The last word (prs) he read as peres not parsin.  His free choice of interpretation and decoding revealed the menacing subtext: "Thou art weighed in the balance and art found wanting".                                                    

The divine menace against the dissolute Belshazzar, whose kingdom was to be divided between the Medes and Persians, was swiftly realized: in the last verse we are told that Belshazzar was slain in that same night, and that his power passed to Darius the Mede.
The Greek historians Herodotus and Xenophon also record that there was a festival in the city of Babylon the same night it fell to the Persians.

I mentioned briefly at out last Bible study that I am greatly concerned about both the lack of Bible Knowledge among Christians today and their inability to discern Biblical truths.  A recent Christian poll reveals that many do not believe the Bible is actually the Word of God.  Instead they believe that the Bible is subjective in nature and should be interpreted only as it pertains to our present time.  One example of this which comes to mind is the “Homosexual Agenda.”  New Age churches have sprung up everywhere teaching inaccurate and false truths about this lifestyle choice and people flock to them.  Why?  For many reasons I am sure, but ultimately I believe they locate and attend these New Age churches because they preach/teach a message that they WANT TO HEAR.  …I’m all right…you’re all right.  God gets in the way – kind of thing.

Can it be proven that the Bible is the very Word of God?  Yes.

Forgetting for a moment both the historical and the archeological evidence, let’s look at one often overlooked piece of evidence found in the Bible itself:  Bible Prophecy.
We’ve just learned that the Medo-Persian Empire conquered the Babylonian Empire.  This fact was made known 150 years BEFORE IT HAPPENED!  

How was it made known?                   

It was revealed supernaturally through what we know as prophecy.  (Read Daniel 2: 36-45.)

Now, I won’t say all Biblical prophecy is related to the nation of Israel (The Jew); but the majority of it is and usually in a specific time frame.  In other words, God reveals the details to His prophet (in this case it is Daniel) and the prophet passes on the information to his people (The Israelites) or to others as God directs. 
Was Daniel a prophet?  Jesus the Christ said he was:

Matthew 24

15: “Therefore, when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken through Daniel the prophet…,

If we are certain Jesus the Christ is who He says He is, that He is the Creator God, the Great Jehovah or the I AM, and He informs us that Daniel is indeed a prophet…well that works for me.  For all others who claim Daniel was anything but a prophet –they need to spend more time in this book, in my opinion.

Before Daniel was, Bible prophecy revealed the name of Cyrus to the prophet Isaiah.  This prophecy foretold a future series of events well before Cyrus was born.  …Impossible?  Not so much.  
Please turn to the book of Isaiah, chapter 24.

Isaiah lived approximately 2700 years ago and was a prophet in the 8th-century BCE.  Part of his message was: "The land will be completely laid waste and totally plundered.  The LORD has spoken this word."  
(Isaiah 24:3).                                                    

Isaiah therefore warns the people of Israel to turn back to Yahweh (Jehovah).  But get this; Isaiah names the individual who will lay waste to their land.  Nearly 150 years before Cyrus was born, the prophet Isaiah foretold his birth, his name, and the tasks that the Creator God had predetermined for him to accomplish. 

Isaiah 44

24: Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, and the One who formed you from the womb, (Who can say then that God is not involved in every person’s personnel life?)   “I the LORD, am the maker of all things, Stretching out the heavens by Myself And spreading out the earth all alone, (Jehovah of the O.T. is Jesus Christ in the N.T. and He is the Creator God of Genesis 1:1.)

25: Causing the omens of boasters to fail, Making fools out of diviners, Causing wise men to draw back And turning their knowledge into foolishness,

26: Confirming the word of His servant And performing the purpose of His messengers.  It is I who says of Jerusalem, ‘She shall be inhabited!’  And of the cities of Judah, ‘They shall be built.’  And I will raise up her ruins again.  (None of these things had happened yet.  These events are in the future.  Now we come to the real reason we are reviewing these verses.)

27: “It is I who says to the depth of the sea, ‘Be dried up!’  And I will make your rivers dry.   (Cyrus took Babylon by laying the bed of the Euphrates River dry, a historical fact, and leading his army into the city by night through the empty channel of the river.) 

28: “It is I who says of (Who?) Cyrus, He is My Shepherd!  And he will perform all My desire.’  And he declares of Jerusalem, ‘She will be built,’ And of the temple, ‘Your foundation will be laid.’ “(Take note of the fact that the text says here of the Jewish Temple, “…Your foundation will be laid.”  It does not say built.  The actual re-building of the temple would be some time later under the reign of Darius the Persian.

Jeremiah 29

10: “For thus says the LORD, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place (Jerusalem)

11: ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.

12: ‘Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, (Not to gods made of wood and stone) and I will listen to you.

13: ‘You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.’ “

Does it sound like God has given up His people the Jews?  Hardly.  He corrects them.  He punishes them for their disobedience; but God’s word to the Jewish nation shall be accomplished.  It is written!

The Second Temple stood between 516 BCE and 70 CE, during which time it was the center of Jewish sacrificial worship.  It was the second temple in Jerusalem, built to replace the First Temple which was destroyed in 586 BCE when the Jewish nation was exiled to Babylon.  The accession of Cyrus the Great of Persia in 538 BCE made the re-establishment of the city of Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the Temple possible.  

According to the Bible, when the Jewish exiles returned to Jerusalem following a decree from Cyrus the Great (Ezra 1:1-4, ; 2 Chronicles 36:22-23), construction started at the original site, which had remained a devastated heap during the approximate 70 years of captivity (Dan. 9:1-2).  After a relatively brief halt, brought about by peoples who had filled the vacuum during the Jewish captivity (Ezra 4), work resumed circa 521 BCE under the Persian King Darius (Ezra 5) and was completed during the sixth year of his reign (circa 515 BCE), with the temple dedication taking place the following year.

Nothing interrupts or prevents God’s will from being accomplished.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Daniel Chapters 4; 5

November 11, 2010
Bonus Lesson
Daniel Chapter 4; 5


I want to bring out an important point of interest in Daniel chapter five (which Les skipped in his last lesson) and yet a tie in so well with what Les has previously shown us.  Remember the image seen in king Nebuchadnezzar’s dream?  There would be a series of empires (future) coming on the scene leading right up to the final days.  King Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom (or empire) was the head and it was made of gold.  His kingdom would fall and there would be another, which was made of silver.  We know from both Scripture and our history lessons that the armies that conquered Babylon were the Medes and the Persians, which today represent the nation Iran.  Let’s review.

King Nebuchadnezzar’s Image

Head = Gold = Babylonian Empire
Chest = Silver = Medo-Persian Empire
Belly = Bronze = Greek Empire
Legs = Iron = Roman Empire (East and West)
Ten Toes = Iron & Clay - Future Revised Roman Empire

In Daniel chapter five, there has been a significant change.  
King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon has died (605  - 562 BCE) and his son Belshazzar is now on the throne.  The casual Bible reader may overlook this detail; and this is why I am presenting this lesson to you.  

First let’s visit chapter four of Daniel.  
Here we find King Nebuchadnezzar praising the Most High God - which is the LORD God of Israel.  Empty words, when you consider there is no faith in God behind them...  Keep this in mind, as this Bible lesson unfolds.

Daniel 4  (This is King Nebuchadnezzar speaking.)
1: Nebuchadnezzar the king to all peoples, nations, and men of every language that live in all the earth:  “May your peace abound!”
2: “It has seemed good to me to declare the signs and wonders which (Watch this) the Most High God (All capitals so who is Nebuchadnezzar referring to?  God!  The term “Most High God” is the phrase gentiles used to refer to God, whereas the Israelites, who believed to even speak His name was blasphemy, used the word Yahweh or Jehovah.) has done for me.
3: “How great are His signs and how mighty are His wonders!  His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom And His dominion is from generation to generation.”

To make a long story short, King Nebuchadnezzar has had another vision.
In this vision, he sees a large, strong tree flourishing, visible to the whole earth, it bore abundant fruit, food for all, and all the earth’s creatures found shade under it.  
(Read: Daniel 4: 4-18).

Then an angelic one descended from heaven and said, “Chop down the tree...”
The king was disturbed by this vision and called for Belteshazzar (Daniel) to interpret it for him; which he did.  (See Daniel 4: 19-27).

This “tree”  that was to be “chopped down” represented King Nebuchadnezzar and his kingdom; unless he chose to “recognize that it is Heaven that rules...”  (Verse 26).

Here’s what we have then.  

It is safe to say, at this point, that the Creator God (Jehovah) has made Himself known to Nebuchadnezzar.   Most recently by appearing with and protecting Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego in the fiery furnace.  Oh yea, King Nebuchadnezzar knew there was only One, all Powerful, all Knowing, Mighty God.  

But what did he do with this information?  Sadly, just the most of the people living toady, he left it right where he found it.  However, should he choose to recognize the Most High God for all that He is, then both he and his gentile kingdom would indeed flourish.  We know from both history and the Scriptures his choice.                  

Skip to verse 28.

Daniel 4  (This is King Nebuchadnezzar speaking.)
28: “All this happened to Nebuchadnezzar the king.
(What happened to the king?  Exactly what the angelic messenger from God said would happen.  This message is conveyed in Daniel 4 beginning at verse 19.)
29: “Twelve months later he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon.
30: “The king reflected (Or he looked out upon this great, beautiful city of Babylon.) and said, ‘Is this not Babylon the great, which (Here it comes) I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory (Of whom?) of my majesty?’
31: “While the word was in the king’s mouth, a voice came from heaven, saying, “King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared: sovereignty has been removed from you.”

The Creator God permitted King Nebuchadnezzar’s rise to power.  
He was  God’s instrument.  He was the one chosen by God to punish the Southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin who had gone the way of Idolatry and sinfulness.        

It is said that in the year 598 BCE King Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem and destroyed the Jewish Temple which King Solomon built.  

Yet, He could have been a “blessing” to many, under God of course.  
Pride and a lack of faith in God was his undoing (Where ever you find a lack of faith, pride is the reason for it).  Like King Nebuchadnezzar, PRIDE is the main reason the majority of people past, present, and future will spend eternity without God.   Prideful individuals will not humble themselves before their Creator God and Savior and accept His offer of mercy.   

So, the LORD God, by this vision, is showing King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen to him and his kingdom because of his unbelief unless he changes his mind and heart.

Hasn’t God declared to His creation the very same cause and affect?   

Let’s return to Daniel chapter four.  Drop in at verse 32.  
Here we find the consequences of king Nebuchadnezzar’s unbelief.

32: and you will be driven away from mankind, and your dwelling place will be with the beasts of the field.  You will be given grass to eat like cattle, and seven periods of time will pass over you until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes.  
(What does that mean?  God permits man to have authority over other men, under God always.  Remember, we touched on this subject back when Noah and his family disembarked from the ark).
33: Immediately the word concerning Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled...

God said, “...seven periods of time will pass over you until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes,” and that’s what happened.

34: “But at the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed (Who?) the Most High and praised Him who lives forever...

Who’s he speaking of?  Why, it’s the LORD God of the old testament.  
That’s who king Nebuchadnezzar is speaking to and about in the following verses.  
You may wish to read these on your own.  (Daniel 4: 34-35).

King Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom is returned to him, he regains his health and a sound mind once again.  “Greatness was added to me,” he said.

Now let’s look at Daniel chapter five.  Please remember what I am showing you today.  King Nebuchadnezzar is no longer the sovereign ruler of all when you reach Daniel chapter five.  King Nebuchadnezzar has died and his son Belshazzaar is on the throne.  We pick up this fact in the first verse of chapter five.

Daniel 5
1: Belshazzar the king held a great feast for a thousand of his nobles, and he was drinking wine in the presence of the thousand.
(I’ve never thrown a party and invited that many people to attend.  I don’t know about you of course; but this gives us some idea of his wealth.  As we read on, we see Belshazzar is not a believer in the LORD God of Israel.)

2: When Belshazzar tasted the wine, he gave orders to bring the gold and silver vessels which Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem, so that the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines might drink from them.
(When the Babylonians sacked the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, the took everything of value and brought these to king Nebuchadnezzar.  Among the items confiscated were the utensils the Jewish priests used daily in their practice.  These items were holy (set apart) for God’s purpose.  The Jewish priests could not touch them without first a ceremonial washing of themselves prior to offering the sacrifice to God.  For an unbeliever to use these gold and silver cups in such a way as king Belshazzar was doing was an affront to the LORD God.  Read on.)

3: Then they brought the gold vessels that had been taken out of the temple, the house of God which was in Jerusalem; and the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines (Did what?) drank from them.

4: They drank the wine and praised (Who?  Not the One and only God but) the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, and wood and stone.

Here we see God’s response to their insult!

5: Suddenly the fingers of a man’s hand emerged and began writing opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace, and the king saw the back of the hand that did the writing.
(This hand began to write on the plaster wall in the presence of the king and all his nobles.  King Belshazzar was terrified.)

6: The the king’s face grew pale and his thoughts alarmed him, and his hip joints went slack and his knees began knocking together.  

So, this ghostly image wrote a message on the wall for all to see.
The king ordered all his wise men to come and decipher this message.
No one could interpret the message for the king.
The queen entered the banquet hall and told Belshazzar there is a man in his kingdom, who in the days of his father, was able to interpret such things.  King Nebuchadnezzar had promoted him to chief of all magicians, conjurers, Chaldeans and diviners.  His name is Daniel.  

Daniel interprets the Handwriting on the Wall.

When offered special favors by the king for his ability to reveal the message on the wall, Daniel refused them.  Let’s drop in now at verse 18.

18: “O king, the MOST HIGH GOD granted sovereignty, grandeur, glory and majesty to Nebuchadnezzar your father.  
(You can’t make it any plainer than that.)

19: Because of the grandeur which He (God) bestowed on him, all the peoples, nations and men of every language feared and trembled before him; whomever he wished he killed and whomever he wished he spared alive; and whomever he wished he elevated and whomever he wished he humbled.

20: “But when his heart was lifted up and his spirit became so proud that he behaved arrogantly, he was deposed from his royal throne and his glory was taken away from him.

21: “He was also driven away from mankind, and his heart was made like that of beasts, and his dwelling place was with the wild donkeys.  He was given grass to eat like cattle, and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven until he recognized that the MOST HIGH GOD is ruler over the realm of mankind and that He sets over it whomever He wishes.  

22: “Yet you, his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, even though you knew all this,
(Any different from mankind today?  Hardly.  Read on.)

23: but you have exalted yourself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of His house before you, and your nobles, your wives and your concubines have been drinking wine from them; and you have praised the gods of silver, and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which do not see, hear or understand.  But the God in whose hand are your (Now watch this) life- breath and all your ways, you have not glorified.

Here is the interpretation.

25: “Now this is the inscription that was written out: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.

26: “This is the interpretation of the message: ‘MENE - God has numbered your kingdom and put an end to it.

27: ‘TEKEL - you have been weighed on the scales (Judged by God) and found deficient.

28: ‘PERES - your kingdom has been (Now watch this) divided and given over to (Whom?) the Medes and the Persians.”
(This is in fulfillment of that prophetical image from God to king Nebuchadnezzar back there in Daniel chapter two.  Babylon would fall and the kingdom divided by the conquering armies of Mede and Persia.)

30: That same night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was slain.

31: So Darius the Mede received, the kingdom at about age of sixty-two.  

Gary Heitzman
Home Bible Study Group -Odessa, Florida

Monday, October 18, 2010

Genesis 15 - The Abrahamic Covenant (Continued)

The Abrahamic Covenant Series
Genesis 15

We continue to study the Abrahamic Covenant; and we’ll be doing this for a few more weeks.  I want to make sure we cover as much as possible in this series because, as I’ve said from the beginning, it is absolutely critical to have a firm grasp of this covenant in order for you to understand Scripture from this point onward.   Skipping this vital piece of Scripture would be like purchasing a new car and not filling it up with gasoline.  The car is not going to take you anywhere until you put fuel in the tank. 

Last week, Les took the time to show us that from Abram would come a nation of people who alone had a purposeful relationship with the LORD God.  God had a plan!  
That nation of Israel would God’s Light in this sin-darkened world, and one day future, the gentile nations would be drawn to that light, and find salvation.  That was God’s plan.  Of course we know, on this side of history, that Israel “dropped the ball.”
So, please turn to Genesis chapter fifteen.  This is where we left off last week with Les.  Drop in at verse five just to pick up the flow as it were.
Before we start, please remember there are seven promises within the Abrahamic Covenant.  But if you look at the entire covenant what you have are three specific elements contained within this covenant.  And they are:
1.    God promised Abram that he would be the father of a great nation.
2.    God promised to give Abram and his descendants a specific area of land.
3.    God promised Abram He would send His Son to be their King.

Lock in on these three promises and the rest of Scripture will make sense the way God intended it.  Gone are the disagreements and discrepancies so many people talk about.  Think about it.  Our God is not the Creator of Confusion.

1 Corinthians 14 
33for God is not a God of confusion but of peace…

Genesis 15
5: And He (The LORD) took him (Abram) outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.”  And He said to him,   “So shall your descendants be.”
6: Then he believed in the LORD; and He (God) reckoned it to him as righteousness.

I could teach for an hour or more on that one verse but we’re going to let that be for another day for the sake of time.  Next verse…this is why were here.

7: And He (The LORD) said to him, “I am the LORD who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to (Watch this) possess it.”

Now when God says He’s going to give you something you can take that to the bank! 

This area of land will have definite geographical boundaries.  See below.

The Southern border of the Promised Land (Canaan) runs from the southern end of the Dead Sea (Salt Sea), to approximately the middle of the Negev desert.  From there, it turns northward toward Wadi el Arish (brook of Egypt) and ends at the Mediterranean Sea.

The Western border of the Promised Land (Canaan) is the Mediterranean Sea.

The Northern border of the Promised Land (Canaan) extends from the Northern region of Lebanon at the Mediterranean Sea, to a region east of Damascus in modern day Syria.

The Eastern border of the Promised Land (Canaan) goes southward for about 50 miles, starting from a region east of Damascus. Then it turns west to the Southern end of the Sea of Galilee (Sea of Chinnereth).  From there it follows the Jordan River, ending at the Dead Sea (Salt Sea).
According to the Bible, at no time in history has the nation of Israel possessed all the land God promised them.  During the reign of King David, Israel expanded his kingdom but not to the point of fulfilling this promise from God.  See below:
After David’s son, Solomon became king, the Jewish Kingdom grew a bit more, but it still did not reach the boundaries foretold by God.  See below.
Map of Solomon's Kingdom
Look at the nation of Israel today.  Are they occupying all the land God promised them?  No way.  So, since they have yet to realize this promise from God, and they will realize this promise from God because the Abrahamic Covenant is still in affect, this will happen some time in the future.