The Prophet Habakkuk

Habakkuk

The name Habakkuk means “to embrace”.

In Habakkuk 2:20 “But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him.” Jesus Christ is described as ruling on the earth when all people will share in the peace and abundant life His righteous reign will produce (Isaiah 11: 1-9). Habakkuk doesn’t mention Assyria, but he does refers to the increasing Chaldean (also known as Babylonians) power. So we can assume that he prophesied in Judah, possibly during Jehoiakim reign and shortly before the invasion by Nebuchadnezzar (Habakkuk 1:6).

Habakkuk was instructed to foretell the invasion and destruction of the land by the Chaldeans. The northern kingdom of Israel had already gone into captivity to Assyria, and God was going to punish the southern kingdom of Judah through the Babylonians.

In chapters 1: 1-4 we find Habakkuk’s first question. Was God indifferent to Judah’s sin, which was horrifying and wide spread? The nation was guilty of:
Violence Habakkuk 1:2
Plundering and violence Habakkuk 1:3
Strife and contention Habakkuk 1:3
Disregarding and abusing the law Habakkuk 1:4
Exploiting the righteous Habakkuk 1:4
Corrupting and misusing judgment Habakkuk 1:4
Habakkuk had trouble understanding why it appeared God was unconcerned about Judah’s sin. Even though he understood that God was not detached from the peoples ungodliness, Habakkuk needed answers.

In chapter 1: 5-11 we have God’s answers. God’s answer is that He would not leave the people of Judah unpunished but would raise up the Chaldeans a rod of chastisement and correction. The Chaldeans were a merciless and terrible people, who would reach down and invade the land.

In chapter 1: 12- 2:1 we find Habakkuk’s second question. How could a holy and righteous God punish Judah by using an even more wicked and unrighteous nation? The conqueror was worse than those appointed to be chastised.

Then in chapter 2:2-20 God’s answer is that all will be faithfully judged with righteous judgment. In the final determination only those who trust in God will live. No one will escape the penalty of evil and wickedness. God will punish arrogance, pride and wrongdoing.

The just living by faith is one of the major themes in Habakkuk. The faith that we are to live by is not man’s faith, but the living faith that God gives to those who live in harmony with Him. Habakkuk was told to write down the visions and make it plain so a runner could read it (2:2). Habakkuk was told that the fulfillment was “for an appointed time” yet in the future (2:3). Equipped with God’s response and the certainty that wickedness will be punished, Habakkuk delivered a series of five woes against those who opposed God and His laws. It seems that these woes are directed at the Chaldeans. They cannot escape the law of sowing and reaping (Galatians 6:7). God’s law of retribution for those who in their minds consider themselves beyond reproach and punishment (Habakkuk 2:5). Habakkuk has recorded five types of wickedness found in the Chaldeans:

1. Aggression, pride, abuse of power and greed – 2:5-8
2. Covetousness – 2:9-11
3. Excessive violence – 2:12-13
4. Inhumanity and heartlessness – 2:15-17
5. Idolatry – 2:18-19

Habakkuk ends the book with a psalm of praise and prayer, chapter 3. When hearing God’s coming judgment, Habakkuk expresses his concern (verse 2), and showed his concern by asking God to exercise mercy when applying His judgment. He then proceeded to make a list of the extraordinary acts of God in the past history of His people.

1. God’s awesome presence at Mount Sinai and His power to intervene for His people – 3:   3-7
2. The division of the Rd Sea and later the Jordan River, enabling the Israelites to enter the Promise Land – 3: 8-10
3. God’s powerful intervention for the Israelites in battle – 3: 11-15.

Habakkuk trembles at the thought of what is yet to happen, but nothing that happens on the earth can remove God’s promises: “ yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, and makes me tread upon the heights.” – 3: 18-18

The book of Habakkuk is quoted several times in the New Testament. In Acts 13: 40-41 the apostle Paul quoted the warning in Habakkuk 1:5 and applied it to the people of Antioch. The warning that the prophet gave under inspiration can also be relevant for us today.

The lesson of Habakkuk is, Man shall live by faith. Faith in God no matter how dark the day is – have faith.

Short Outline of Habakkuk

A. The problem of the apparent triumph of sin – Chapter 1
1. Why does sin go unpunished? – 1-4
2. God says he has used the Chaldeans to punish sin – 5-11
3. Are they confined to evil forever – 12-17

B. The impending punishment of the Chaldeans – Chapter 2
1. Waiting for the vision – 1-3
2. Vision of the five destructive woes, – 4-20

C. An age of confidence in God – Chapter 3
1. Prayer of the disquieted prophet – 1-2
2. Past history has shown God will finally destroy Israel’s enemies – 3-15
3. The prophet must joyously trust God and wait when in perplexity – 16-19

May the Peace of Jesus Christ be with You

Prophet Daniel

Daniel Part 2

Daniel 9: 24-27
24 ‘Seventy weeks are decreed for your people and your holy city: to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place.
25 Know therefore and understand: from the time that the word went out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the time of an anointed prince, there shall be seven weeks; and for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with streets and moat, but in a troubled time.
26 After the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing, and the troops of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its* end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed.
27 He shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall make sacrifice and offering cease; and in their place shall be an abomination that desolates, until the decreed end is poured out upon the desolator.’

Verse 24 list 6 things that are to be accomplished by the end of the 70 weeks:
1 finish the transgression
2 make an end of sin
3 to atone for iniquity
4 bringing in everlasting righteousness
5 seal up vision and prophecy
6 to anoint a most holy place
By the end of His ministry Jesus at least partially fulfilled the first three items. By His sacrifice Jesus provided a way for sin to be forgiven and become the atonement for our sins, reconciling us to God, Colossians 1: 19-20. Jesus will finish completing these first three and fulfill the final three after His return.

Verse 25 introduces the time of the fulfillment of the prophecy.

Verse 26, the first phrase say that the Messiah would be “cut off” after 62 prophetic weeks. Verse 26 also introduces an evil prince who will destroy the city, Jerusalem, and the sanctuary.

Verse 27 can be a little tricky to read when trying to decide between Messiah and evil one. So from my studies this is what I am understanding: verse 25 talks about the Messiah, verse 26 refers to the evil one, verse 27 the first part refers to the Messiah and the second part refers to the evil one.

Abomination of desolation, chapter 11 covers prophecies that would be fulfilled from the time of the Medo-Persian Empire through the end of time. After providing specific detail regarding the successive kingdoms, in verse 31 we read of daily sacrifices taken away and of an “abomination of desolation” that would be placed in the temple. These even were a type of a future fulfillment that will happen before the return of Christ, Matthew 24: 14-15.

A second fulfillment happened when Roman armies destroyed the city of Jerusalem and the temple and alter were desecrated. Luke 21:20 identifies the armies as the cause of the desolation of Jerusalem.

A future fulfillment, in reference to “the end” of this age when He would return to earth a second time, Matthew 24: 13-14. Then in Matthew 24: 15-16 Jesus said, “So when you see the desolating sacrilege standing in the holy place, as was spoken of by the prophet Daniel (let the ruler understand), then those in Judea must flee to the mountains.” Daniel, the prophet to whom Jesus referred was told in a vision that the words he had been given were “sealed till the time of the end” Daniel 12:9.

The time of the end. Beginning in Daniel 11:40 we read of events that will happen “at the time of the end.” This includes conflict around Jerusalem between “the kings of the North” and “the kings of the South.” Daniel also refers to a severe “time of trouble” Daniel 12:1, which is referred to as “great tribulation” in Matthew 24:21.

Short outline of Daniel

A. Daniel’s history chapters 1-6

1. His youth and education chapter 1
2. Interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s image dream chapter 2
3. In the fiery furnace chapter 3
4. Interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s tree dream chapter 4
5. Interpretation of the hand-writing on the wall for Belshazzar chapter 5
6. In the lion’s den chapter 6

B. Daniel’s vision of the Kingdoms chapter 7-12

1. The four beasts chapter 7
2. The ram and the he-goat chapter 8
3. The seventy weeks chapter 9
4. The final vision chapter 10-12

May the Peace of Jesus Christ be with You

Prophets Daniel

Daniel (part 1)

Daniel means “God is my Judge”, and was probably born in Jerusalem. Daniel the prophet begins as he and other men from Judah were taken captive by king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, Daniel 1: 1-4. This captivity of citizens of Judah in Babylon lasted 70 years, as God foretold through the prophet Jeremiah, Jeremiah 25:11. During this time, Daniel served in superior positions in the governments of several Babylonian and Medo-Persian rulers including Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Darius and Cyrus. In the first reign of Darius, Daniel came to understand the prophecy of Jeremiah that predicted a 70 year captivity of his people, Daniel 9: 1-2.

Daniel, a faithful man of God

King Nebuchadnezzar threatened to destroy all the wise men if one of them didn’t interpret and tell him his dream. In Daniel 2: 18. Daniel and his friends requested more time so they could ask God in prayers to reveal the information about the dreams to them. God answered the prayer, and Daniel remembered to praise and thank God for giving them the answers, verse 20-23.

Daniel 6: 10, Daniel again demonstrates his faith by praying to God even though he knows that his life could be endanger doing so. Daniel knew that a document had been signed that no one could address any god or man for 30 days. But it was Daniel’s custom since the early days to pray and give thanks to God, and he just wasn’t going to change that, not even for 30 days. Daniel wasn’t going to hide his prayers and his faithfulness to God and it landed him in the lion’s den, where his critics were sure he would be eaten alive. God sent an angel that shut the lions’ mouths and Daniel was spared. Daniel 9 continues to show us of Daniel’s faithfulness with prayer and fasting for his people’s sin and asking for God’s mercy on himself and all of Jerusalem.

Understand, skill and knowledge from God

God saw the good in Daniel and his friends and gave them knowledge in all literature and wisdom. God also gave understanding in all vision and dreams to Daniel, Daniel 1:17. Because of God’s blessing on Daniel and his three friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. The king “found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom” Daniel 1:20. In his second year of reign king Nebuchadnezzar had a troubling dream. God revealed the meaning of the dream to Daniel, Daniel 2:19. “Then the king promoted Daniel, gave him great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief official over all the wise men of Babylon,” Daniel 2:48. There were times that God had sent an angel to Daniel with the prophetic message and Daniel would write it down.

Prophecies

Daniel was beloved and chosen by God to foretell future events. Daniel’s prophecies were through God given dreams and visions about what was going to happen throughout history, and what would happen to Daniel’s people in the latter days, Daniel 10: 4, and to the whole world.

These are a few of the prophecies given by God through Daniel.

Four world-ruling empires. In a dream given to king Nebuchadnezzar, God revealed through Daniel that there would be four world-ruling empires, Daniel 2: 1-43. These were proven to be the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greco-Macedonian and Roman Empires. God also gave to Daniel a vision in which these empires were represented by four great beast, Daniel 7: 1-3.

The Kingdom of God. After telling king Nebuchadnezzar that there would be four world-ruling kingdoms, Daniel prophesied: “And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall this kingdom be left to another people. It shall crush all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever;” Daniel 2:44.

In another, “As I watched in the night vision, I saw one like a human being coming with the clouds of heaven. And he came to the Ancient One and was presented before him. To him was given dominion and glory and kingship, that all people, nations, and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, and his kingship is one that shall never be destroyed,” Daniel 7: 13-14.

A little horn. In God’s vision to Daniel of the four beast representing the four would-ruling kingdoms, the fourth beast “had ten horns” , Daniel 7:7, which has traditionally understood to represent 10 appearances of this fourth kingdom. To explain this Daniel wrote, “I was considering the horns, when another horn appeared, a little one coming up among them; to make room for it, three of the earlier horns were plucked up by the roots. There were eyes like human eyes in this horn, and a mouth speaking arrogantly”, Daniel 7:8. This little horn that Daniel in the vision saw “making war against the saints, and prevailing against them”, Daniel 7:21, is a religious power that will persecute God’s people at the end of this age, Daniel 7: 24-25. Known by many names – the antichrist, man of sin, and false prophet – this religious power will play a leading role in the deception of mankind prior to Christ’s return. Other references to this horn can be found in Daniel 8: 9-12, 23-25.

Seventy-weeks prophecy. In Daniel 9: 24-27 is the prophecy that predicted the year that Jesus would begin His ministry. The prophecy also predicted that Jesus’ ministry to “confirm the covenant” would be cut off “in the middle” of the 70th prophetic week. Daniel 9: 24-27 is a detailed and complex prophecy that dates the first coming of the Messiah and establishing of the New Covenant and meanings of events that will happen leading up to the time of Christ’s second coming.

To be continued…….

May the Peace of Jesus Christ be with You

Prophets Hosea

Hosea    part 1

Hosea’s message was primarily for the northern kingdom of Israel, but there were times when he referred to the southern kingdom of Judah. Hosea’s prophecy began with Jeroboam II, and continued for the next 40 years until just before Samaria fell to Assyria in 722 B.C. Hosea means “Deliverance”, he was called “Prophet of Divine Love.”

About 200 years before the time of Hosea, the 10 tribes northern Israel had separated from the southern tribes of Judah and set up an independent kingdom. Israel was experiencing the greatest time of peace and prosperity since the separation when Hosea arrived on the scene. But the good times weren’t to last with the rise of social injustice, political disorder, and social moral decay.

Hosea was prepared for his work through the lessons which he learned from the sins of his unfaithful wife. Through the suffering which he encountered because of her sins, he understood how God was grieved at the wickedness of Israel and how her sins were not only against God’s law but an disgrace to divine love. In love and at great cost he restored his wayward wife and in that act saw hope of the restoration and forgiveness of Israel.

Hosea main theme of the prophecy is God’s mercy to a sinful Israel. Israel, is described as an unfaithful wife. Israel will come to God who will show mercy and compassion. This is also a theme of judgement that runs throughout the book.

Wealth and prosperity subdue the people of Israel into a false sense of security.
1. Which took them in a direction away from God and into a national decline and decay which was worsened by a self assured spiritual attitudes, including a rejection of God’s law,
2.  the pursuit of materialism as a dominant way of life,
3.  dependence on international alliances which demonstrates a lack of faith and trust in God,
4. moral corruption of the priests leading people way from God and His ways.
5. Worship of idols in Bethel (calf worship).
6. Hard-hearted they refuse to listen and respond to repeated warnings of doom.

These conditions and other factors led Israel into captivity and cruel bondage by the Assyrians.

Hosea used many metaphors to describe the relationship between Israel and God.
Chs 1-3 – the nation is an unfaithful wife
4:16; 10:11 – a stubborn heifer
6:4; 13:3 – evaporating dew and dwindling mist and smoke.
7: 3-7 – a hot oven
7: 8 – a burned cake
7: 11; 11: 11 – a silly dove
8: 7 – a foolish farmer
8: 8 – a useless vessel
8: 9 – a stray donkey
9:10, 16 – a worthless fruit tree
10: 1 – a bad vine
10: 7 – a hapless twig
11: 1-4 – a disobedient child.

Then there were the metaphors that were used to describe how God deals with His people. In matters of judgment He is referred to as:
5: 12 a moth that will eat away at the nation
5: 14-15; 13: 8 a wild animal that devours
7: 12 a hunter that traps wild birds
11: 4 a farmer who yokes Israel like an Ox.

Yet the God of mercy is also described as:
Chs 2-3 a forgiving husband
11: 1-4; 14: 3 a loving parent
14: 4 a healing physician
14: 5 a fresh dew.

These metaphors were meant to stir the heart and imagination of God’s people. Some were shocking, by exposing the ugliness and the depth of sin and the straight forward compelling repentance; others comfort and encourage the faithful to trust in the goodness of God and preserve through the coming judgement.

John the Baptist Message and Death

John is a witness to the nature of Christ. As John gathers attention, priest and Levites go to him to see exactly who he is and by what authority he has to preach his message. John is not the Messiah nor the reincarnated Elijah, but he is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, John 1: 19-23.   John declares that he is unworthy to even carry Jesus’ sandals,       Matthew 3: 11, John 1: 27. Reading further John describes Jesus as “the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world,” John1: 29. John was baptizing “for the forgiveness of sins” Mark 1:4. John was hesitant to immerse Jesus when he approached him with the request Matthew 3: 14. Jesus was sinless, a lamb without blemish 1 Peter 1:19.

John, having heard the voice of God, and witnessed the descent of the Holy Spirit in the form of the dove, he faithfully witnessed that Jesus “is the Son of God.” John 1:31-34. John preached repentance and the coming kingdom to all who would listen. Even Pharisee and Scribes were being baptized, Matthew 3: 7-8 “fruit worthy of repentance.” Without fruit there is no real repentance, fruit meaning a deep inner conviction. Repentance is more than saying………..”I’m sorry!”

John’s Death

Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great, who slaughtered the babies in attempt to eliminate the baby Jesus, was a wicked and arrogant ruler. Herod Antipas had inherited portions of his father’s kingdom in Galilee and in Peraea, west of the Jordan. Herod Antipas was married to the daughter of king Aretas IV, but on a trip to Rome he stopped to visit Philip, his half brother and his wife Herodias, whom he became infatuated with and influenced her to leave Philip, and then Herod Antipas divorced his own wife. It was inevitable that these two, John and Herod, would clash. John who denounced sin and Herod who entered into an unlawful relationship. But on the other hand, Herod was some what interested in John’s message. Herod knew that John was a holy man, in away he feared John. But also he was afraid that John would gain so much popularity that he would start a revolt. Mark 6:20 indicates that Herod liked listening to John preach.
Herod’s wife, Herodias, did not like John and she talked Herod into putting John into prison.

Herod’s birthday set the opportunity for getting rid of John. Herodias sacrificed the virtue of her daughter, Salome, but she may have been as bad as her mother. Salome danced and Herod was well pleased! He offered her anything up to half of his kingdom. But she consulted with her mother, and the request was “Give me the head of John the Baptizer on a platter” Mark 6: 25. Herod wasn’t happy about this situation, and he lacked the backbone to deny the request.

John’s brief life ended on this earth, but what an impact he made.

John the Baptist in Prophecy

Any Hebrew knowing his Old Testament could have expected the ministry of John as a primary measure in the divine plan, paving the way for the Messiah. The prophet Isaiah spoke of “the voice of one that cries out”, indeed, of him who would “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord” and “make straight in the desert a highway for our God” Isaiah 40:3. This was seven centuries before the birth of Jesus. There will be many commentators who will refer to this as a prediction to an immediate reference to Judah’s return from the Babylonian captivity. On the other hand, the New Testament writers see it as a fulfillment in the primary work of John the Baptist. Read: Matthew 3:3; Mark 1; 2-3; Luke 3: 4-6; John 1: 23.

Let’s look at Malachi’s Prophecy of John the Baptist. Look at the difference between the “messenger” who prepares the way, and the “Messenger of the Covenant,” for whom the way is prepared. Also Malachi’s prophecy about the “messenger” parallel with that of Isaiah, which focused in the ministry of John. Then in Malachi 4: 4-5 we see the “messenger” as “Elijah the prophet.” In the New Testament Luke 1: 16 we have the angel Gabriel testimony, and in Matthew 11: 12-15 Christ said that this “Elijah” was none other than John.

John the Baptist Appearance

“There came a man, sent from God, whose name was John” John 1:6.

The description on how John is dressed is brief but memorable. He was dresses in camel’s hair cloths with a leather belt and his diet was locusts and wild honey Matthew 3:4. The camel hair mantel or cloak could have been camel skin or camel hair woven into a rough fabric. We find in the Old Testament that Elijah also dressed similar to this Zechariah 13:4 and 2 Kings 1:8. John’s diet of locust and wild honey was not a wealthy mans diet. I’m sure that the wild honey made the locust go down a lot easier. Another interesting point is that today people are consuming more raw or wild honey because it has been proven to help the digestive system.

Many would say that John was a recluse. “John came neither eating or drinking, and they say, he has a demon” Matthew 11:18. Recluses like John normally did not do a lot of socializing. John appearance and life style was seen demonic by some, like those who were possessed of evil spirits who made their home or roamed those desolate areas Mark 5:2-5.

John did not go out looking for all these people, they came to him. Hundred – thousands of people were baptized by him. Johns success was in the message he proclaimed. Matthew 3:5; John 1:28 ; John 3: 23. John didn’t perform any sign or miracles like Jesus and the apostles did. John 10:41; Matthew 10:1. The power of John’s preaching and the emptiness in Israels hearts was the winning combination. Johns mission was to prepare the people for the coming Messiah. Luke 1:16-17; Luke 1: 76. John came from God in order to “bear witness of the light” of Christ, John 1: 7-8. John accomplished his mission.

Take a look back to your baptism and reconnect with those feelings, the lessons and studies you did to prepare, look at the desire you had to be baptized. That is part of your foundation. We need to look back at those moment to remember and to be re-grounded.

May the Peace of Jesus Christ be with you

 

John the Baptist

 

Birth of John the Baptist
Read Luke 1: 5-25, 39-80

John’s name was divinely given (Luke 1: 13). In Hebrew the meaning is “Jehovah is gracious.” John was also know as “the Baptist”, which simply means “an immersion, one who administers the rite of immersion.”

Jesus testimony of John is important in the divine scheme of things is best summed up in Matthew 11:11 “Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist…..”

John’s parents, Zachariah and Elizabeth were past the age to conceive a child. Elizabeth was unable to conceive a child through out her married life. I can just imagine Zachariah praying all those years to God for Elizabeth to have their son. And now after all these years God has answered his prayer.

Q. Why do you think it was important for Elizabeth to have been barren all those years?
Q. Zachariah shows us that we should never give up on prayer. What prayers have you given up on and how can you reword those prayers and offer them up again to tho the Lord?

It was foretold that John would be filled with the Spirit of God even from his mother, Elizabeth womb, and that he would be raised under the strict code of the Nazirite.
Read Numbers 6:1-12.

The scriptures don’t mention anything about John’s parents death. But from what I have learned, that legend has it that Zachariah was slain by Herod the Great, which forced Elizabeth to flee into Judea’s wilderness.

John grew and became strong in the spirit and was in the wilderness until the day he appeared publicly to Israel (Luke 1:80). The wilderness or desert stretches from Jerusalem to Bethlehem some 20 miles down to the Jordan River and the Dead Sea.