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Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Posted by: David Carroll

Daniel 1:5 (NKJV)

And the king appointed for them a daily provision of the king's delicacies and of the wine which he drank, and three years of training for them, so that at the end of that time they might serve before the king.

Daniel and his three friends have been enrolled in the Babylon MBA program where they are treated to the best the world could offer in modern education, luxurious room and board, and job waiting for them in the highest positions of government. Keep in mind, as great as this sounds, it is in reality an indoctrination program designed to smooth the future captive population of Hebrews into Babylonian society. Daniel and his friends had already been taken away from home's familiar surroundings and given new names. They would now learn to speak a new language and learn about everything the pagan world had to offer. They even had the privilege of eating from the finest foods from the King's kitchen. How could it get any better than that?

Daniel did not complain about his new pagan name; he figured they could call him anything they wanted to. It would be difficult to prevent that. Besides, Daniel knew who he was and would never forget that. He also did not complain about the potential of collaborating with the enemy. He knew that God had delivered his people into this captivity and he might as well make the best of it.

But this food that was set before him was a problem. Perhaps it had been offered to idols. Certainly it was not prepared in the kosher way. He was between a Rock and a hard place. It would bad for him if he went against the King's orders and the food had to be wonderfully tempting. After all, so far away from home, who would know? That is the hard place Daniel was in. But God would know; God is the Rock pressing him against the hard place. Would he please God or man? It would be a decision Daniel would have to make quickly and without wavering. He "purposed in his heart" that he would not eat it without first doing what he could to be obedient to God's law.

Daniel 1:8 (NKJV)

But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.

Notice how Daniel showed good judgment and commonsense in handling this situation. He did not demand in a hard, obnoxious way. There is no civil disobedience here.

Daniel 1:10 (NKJV)

And the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, "I fear my lord the king, who has appointed your food and drink. For why should he see your faces looking worse than the young men who are your age? Then you would endanger my head before the king."

Daniel is turned down, but for good reason. How could Daniel expect this chief to risk his own neck just so Daniel could obey some silly commandment of his God?

Now how many of us would conclude that there is no way out of the situation. After all, he had tried to be obedient and he was polite, giving no offense either. He is off the hook right? Daniel is not looking for an excuse, he wants to obey God. He takes another approach.

Daniel 1:11-13 (NKJV)

So Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, "Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance be examined before you, and the appearance of the young men who eat the portion of the king's delicacies; and as you see fit, so deal with your servants."

Daniel goes to the steward, who had less to risk than the chief, and proposes a short trial period, one easy to say yes to. The only thing left is for Daniel to trust God to improve their appearance. It is out of Daniel's hands now. The decision is up to the steward and the results are up to God.

This book is full of stories of what God will do for those who put their faith an trust in Him. Not only did Daniel's plan work, rather than suffering punishment or experiencing any loss, they actually excelled and advanced over all the other hostages.

How would I react to a situation where I am thrust into a foreign world, indoctrinated in the worlds ways, tempted with the world's pleasures? Come to think about it, that is exactly where I am. I pray that I can be like Daniel.

James 3:17 (NKJV)

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.

Daniel in the Skeptics Den

Posted by: David Carroll

I should have known it but I was amazed at how much criticism there is of the book of Daniel regarding its authenticity. Skeptical critics gone to great effort to discredit Daniel. Why is this? The higher critics using textual analysis say that Daniel must have been written after the desecration of the temple in 167 B.C. when Antiochus Epiphanes entered the Temple in Jerusalem, erected a altar to Zeus and sacrificed a pig on it. This event was so accurately described in the book of Daniel that the critics say it must have been written by a eye witness to the event. Notice the assumption here, because the prophecy is accurate it must not have been written earlier. The implication is that the critic is working from the position of unbelief in the supernatural. The reason Daniel is so attacked is because of the miracles and prophecies it describes. A liberal critic does not believe in such things and must therefore explain it away.

It turns out that Daniel is the most authenticated book in the Bible. The book of Daniel was in trade three centuries before Christ in the Septuagint. Ezekiel a contemporary of Daniel wrote about him three different times. The Qumran scrolls contain this book proving it was around well before the defilement of temple occurred. Later in this series, I'll look into how this event has both a near fulfillment in 167 BC and also a far away fulfillment during the tribulation period. In the meantime however, clearly Daniel was a prophetic book explained only by a supernatural knowledge of the future.

But the most convincing evidence for me is that Jesus quoted from this book three times and attributed authorship to Daniel. So if you believe Jesus, you have no problem believing the book of Daniel. Of course if you don't believe in Jesus, well, the authorship of Daniel is not your biggest problem. Speaking of Daniel being quoted by Jesus, it turns out that every chapter of Daniel is referred to or quoted somewhere in the New Testament and every New Testament writer makes use of Daniel's prophecies. Daniel is truly an important book.

Daniel Series Begins

Posted by: David Carroll

I remember being introduced to the book of Daniel shortly after I became a Christian when I read Hal Lindsey's book, The Late Great Planet Earth. The startling prophecy of Daniel Chapter nine gave me a thrill.

If God has the ability to create us then certainly he also has the ability to get a message to us. The question is, how does he authenticate that message? Prophecy, basically writing history ahead of time. To help understand such a phenomenon, I've heard the example given of a parade. On the street you can only see the float right in front of you. Like we only see what is happening right now. But the person high above the parade on a building's rooftop can see the whole thing from beginning to end. He can see what you have not yet seen. God is the only one who can do this when we consider time as the parade.

The book of Daniel Includes the most amazing prophecy in the entire Bible in my opinion. In fact, Jesus points to it as key to all prophecy. He says:

Matthew 24:15 (NKJV)

Therefore when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place" (whoever reads, let him understand) ...

Here Jesus is answering his disciples who had come to him in private asking when the things Jesus was talking about (the tribulation period) would happen. He is referring to the book of Daniel. So not only does he use Daniel's prophecy as a key to all of eschatology, he holds us accountable to understand it!

I am excited about the this series. We'll learn some fascinating things about prophecy but this book will also challenge us to live godly lives in an ungodly world. Daniel is the perfect model for us today on how to be holy yet still influence our world.

Why Hebrew and Greek?

Posted by: David Carroll

Is there a reason why God would have chosen the Hebrew and Greek languages to communicate His word to us? Investigating this, I found out that Hebrew and Greek are very different from each other. Is there a reason why Hebrew was particularly suited for the Old Testament and Greek for the New Testament? It turns out there are some very good traits of each language that are well suited for the differing purpose of God's revelation in the two major parts of our Bible.

Hebrew is a very pictorial language, using vivid, bold metaphors. A Hebrew speaking person thinks in pictures using concrete nouns. There are not so many adjectives in the Hebrew. What you get when reading the Old Testament in Hebrew is vivid pictures of the events using lots of imagination, puns, word plays.

Hebrew is a personal language appealing to the heart and emotions rather than to the mind and reason. The message of the story is felt rather than thought. Every place, person and event come across as concrete realities rather than as abstract ideas. Even nations are given personalities. When the Hebrew language speaks of God, it uses anthropomorphisms that we as humans can relate to. The Hebrew relates to what you see and observe. Such a language is well suited to tell a story to be used as an illustration for future generations.

1 Corinthians 10:11 (NKJV)

Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

While Hebrew is a very dense language where one word can have multiple meanings depending on the context, Greek on the other hand is a very precise language. A Greek verb has 5 attributes: tense, mood, voice, person and number; the verb can say who, how many, when, one time or process, actual or wished for, active or passive or both. The Greek language speaks more to the mind than the heart. It is very useful for reason and argument. Greek is the language of Aristotle and Plato.

Whereas Hebrew is well suited to depict God's deeds in a biographical sense, Greek is ideal for expressing the doctrines and theological truths of the New Testament. Furthermore, being a universal language spoken by the entire world of that day, it was ideal to propagate those ideas to a wide audience.

I had never thought about this before but it appears that God not only breathed the words of our Bible but he did so in the most appropriate languages and cultures to suit his purposes.

God breathed words

Posted by: David Carroll

2 Timothy 3:16 (NKJV)

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,

If you argue that the Bible just contains the word of God as opposed to fully being the word of God then you need to decide which parts are and are not. Suddenly man is the editor. This would make the Bible as untrustworthy as man.

The Greek word for inspiration in the above verse means God out-breathed. The Bible is God's word. Paul is not just referring to the Old Testament either when he says "All Scripture."

Let's examine how the writers of the epistles knew they were writing scripture. In the following passage, notice how Peter includes Paul's writings when he speaks of scripture, putting them on the same plane as the Torah, venerated by any Jew including Peter.

2 Peter 3:14-16 (NKJV)

Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation--as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.

The Apostles recognized that they were writing scripture even as they were writing it!

Paul speaks of scripture and quotes from Deuteronomy and Luke

1 Timothy 5:18 (NKJV)

For the Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain," and, "The laborer is worthy of his wages."

Deuteronomy 25:4 (NKJV)

4 "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.

Luke 10:7 (NKJV)

7 And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not go from house to house.

So you see that Paul is citing Luke's writing alongside Moses again making the Gospel of Luke as authoritative as the Torah.

In the Upper room discourse, Jesus pre-approves the New Testament. Notice what he says:

John 14:26 (NKJV)

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.

Of course Jesus' words had to be written down. How else would we know of Him? It is the specific task of the Holy Spirit job to inspire these men to complete our Bible.

Biblical Authority Crisis

Posted by: David Carroll

In a recent series on "How we got our Bible" that I am teaching for my Bible Fellowship Class, we talked about the authority of scripture and why it is under attack.

There is an authority crisis in our country today. Parental, marital, political, academic, ecclesiastical authority are all being challenged. A disturbing trend in morality indicators began in 1963. Divorce, acceptance of homosexuality, school discipline problems, teenage pregnancies, abortion, crime rates all began to decline. What happened in 1963? Prayer was taken out of public schools. In fact all religious influence was removed from any state sponsored institution.

Basically there are two world views: we are the result of a cosmic accident or a deliberate act of creation. Any worldview must answer four questions: "Who am I?", "Where did I come from?", "Where am I going?" and "Who am I accountable to?"

Anyone who holds the first view would have no answer for those questions. That third question is the one that causes everyone to go into denial. If you believe the Bible is the Word of God then you know the answers.

Challenging Authority is nothing new. The main seed plot of the entire bible started in the first dialog recorded in scripture. God's word was challenged when the serpent asked Eve "Hath God said?"

Freedom does not come from escaping authority. True freedom derives from an accountability to the creator. This very principle is embodied in our Declaration of Independence. In that document we have our rights granted by God not by the state which exists to uphold those rights. This is why the first thing world socialists have to do is to remove God from our state sponsored institutions so that the government can grant rights and hence power.

More later on the topic of "How we got our Bible"