Upside Down #2

Saturday, November 28, 2020

“But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus” (Acts 17:5-7 KJV).

Is society right side up, or upside down? It all depends on our perspective!

Carefully consider these two scenarios. If we are upside down, then what appears “upside down” to us is actually right side up, and what seems “right side up” to us is really upside down. Once we see things for what they really are though—and not what we assume them to be—then we can proceed to addressing our world’s problems. While our hearts deceive us into thinking we can fare without God, the truth is we cannot.

Read Romans 1:18-32, Ephesians 4:17-19, and 2 Timothy 3:1-5. The Bible—especially that Romans passage—describes terrible conditions that resulted because man departed from God’s revelation to him. The Lord gave the nations over to Satan because that was their preference. “[T]urn from these vanities [idols] unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways” (Acts 14:15,16). Read Acts 17:22-31 as well.

Yet, through the Apostle Paul’s ministry and message, the Lord Jesus Christ reaches out to the heathen (nations), to rescue them from their upside-down world (a world that looks right-side up to them). Sinful hearts view the transformation as detrimental—and it most certainly is to those who desire to retain their darkness and ignorance. Applying renewed minds, we Christians share the Gospel of God’s Grace (1 Corinthians 15:3,4) with this lost and dying world, that they may come to see they are really upside down and only the Lord can turn them right side up!

NOTE: Brethren, this is our final original devotional for 2020. Now we begin our classic Christmas studies—and they will run until after New Year’s.

Your Right to Eat Meat

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

“For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer” (1 Timothy 4:4,5 KJV).

Before we advocate animal rights, let us understand that we have a God-given right to eat them!

An animal rights activist once appeared on television to complain about the consumption of turkeys on Thanksgiving. He argued that turkeys “feel pain” when they are slaughtered, and thus we should not eat them. His line of reasoning was, “If we would not eat our pet dog, then we should not eat turkey.” Such people, despite their sincerity, are ignorant of today’s Scripture.

Originally, all people and animals were herbivores; they only ate vegetation. “And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so” (Genesis 1:29,30).

Then, sin entered, and God incorporated meat into the human diet: “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat” (Genesis 9:3,4).

When we ignore the fact that God gave us animals to eat, and we demand that others must also abstain from meat for religious (nature-worshipping) purposes, that is a “doctrine of devils” in this dispensation (1 Timothy 4:1-5). The creature should not be worshipped; only the Creator, the Lord Jesus Christ, should be worshipped (Romans 1:25). As long as we thank the Lord for whatever creatures we eat, consuming animal flesh is acceptable and godly. It does not sit well with the pantheists—who exalt nature as God—but it is approved of the living God, and that alone ultimately matters.

Our latest Bible Q&As: “Who were the ‘Pharisees?,’” “Who were the ‘Sadducees?’”, and “Who were the ‘scribes?’

The Handwriting on the Wall #12

Monday, October 12, 2020

In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote (Daniel 5:5 KJV).

What great Bible truths can we learn from Daniel chapter 5?

People often inadvertently quote Scripture when they say, “the handwriting on the wall.” The English phrase refers to a bad omen, an indication that something terrible will happen. Indeed, just as the fifth chapter of Daniel shows, JEHOVAH God was offended when King Belshazzar used His holy vessels for a pagan, drunken orgy! Having been God’s instrument in judging sinful and idolatrous Judah, now Babylon’s fate was sealed… and God certified that doom with a cryptic inscription. As someone once aptly stated, “Daniel chapter 5 is a picture of the world’s last Saturday night!” (The heathen party literally died thereafter.) Eventually, sin will have its payday: God is not mocked. That is the first chief fact to grasp from this passage.

Belshazzar sought illumination and peace in religion and education, but these spiritualists and intellectuals could not help him see or comprehend God’s Word. The LORD’S prophet, Daniel, had to intercede. Religious scholarship and secular education are no (!) substitutes for God the Holy Spirit. Hence, so many “good, knowledgeable men” are of no (!) use understanding and interpreting the Holy Bible. If they lack the indwelling Holy Spirit, they are not qualified to be Bible teachers and expositors. It is that simple. They would be far better saying nothing! Here is the second major fact we can ascertain from these verses.

Before we close, let us consider a third and final point. Looking into the future, we see old Babylon’s fall in Daniel chapter 5 anticipates the day when new Babylon under the Antichrist falls (Revelation chapters 17–18; Jeremiah chapters 50–51). Historical Babylon being overthrown previews its permanent destruction at Christ’s Second Coming. The Lord Jesus will allow Israel to return to the Promised Land, just as Cyrus King of Persia (conqueror of ancient Babylon) commissioned their regathering in the land of Canaan five centuries before Christ’s earthly ministry. As the handwriting on the wall demonstrates, Babylon still awaits a more terrible fate!

The Handwriting on the Wall #11

Sunday, October 11, 2020

In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote (Daniel 5:5 KJV).

What great Bible truths can we learn from Daniel chapter 5?

Quite rarely is it ever understood that the Holy Spirit’s ministry is underscored throughout this chapter. For example, the “fingers of a man’s hand” refers to the Holy Spirit, who is called “the finger of God.” “But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you” (Matthew 12:28). “But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you” (Luke 11:20). The emphasis is on the power of God (Exodus 8:19) and the inspiration of God (Exodus 31:18; Deuteronomy 9:10; cf. 2 Timothy 3:16).

Interestingly, today’s Scripture provides the layout of the room as the LORD God wrote His words on the palace wall of Babylon. This too reflects the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Daniel’s description affirms a wall made of “plaister” (lime, chalk) is opposite a “candlestick” (lampstand, chandelier). God the Holy Spirit chooses to write His communication on the wall. The writing itself symbolizes the Holy Bible—Divine revelation given directly to King Belshazzar.

Recall the candlestick situated opposite the wall bearing God’s Word. This is reminiscent of the design of the Tabernacle: the lampstand (the light of the Holy Spirit) was on the side opposite the table of shewbread (shewbread representing God’s Word—Matthew 4:4 and Luke 4:4). “And thou shalt set upon the table shewbread before me alway” (Exodus 25:30). “And thou shalt set the table without the vail, and the candlestick over against [opposite] the table on the side of the tabernacle toward the south: and thou shalt put the table on the north side” (Exodus 26:35).

It takes the Prophet Daniel’s ministry to interpret God’s words to Belshazzar because the Holy Spirit is in Daniel. Daniel is made “third ruler in the kingdom” (Daniel 5:7,16,29)—not only because Belshazzar is co-reigning with his father Nobannaid, but also because the Holy Spirit is the third Member of the Godhead. Let us summarize and conclude this devotionals arc….

The Handwriting on the Wall #10

Saturday, October 10, 2020

In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote (Daniel 5:5 KJV).

What great Bible truths can we learn from Daniel chapter 5?

Chapter 5 of Daniel closes, “And Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old” (verse 31). Chapter 6, verse 28, adds: “So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.” Here is Cyrus King of Persia, which chapter 9 of Daniel mentions by yet another name: “[1] In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans; [2] In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.” With Media-Persia conquering Babylon, the 70 years of Judah’s Babylonian captivity are over. The Prophet Daniel witnessed all seven decades firsthand—from the first invasion of Jerusalem to the fall of Babylon.

The Jews’ return from Babylon to the land of Israel is recorded in 2 Chronicles 36:22,23: “Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the LORD God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? The LORD his God be with him, and let him go up” (cf. Ezra 1:1,2).

With the historical context better understood, we can go back to Daniel chapter 5 and fill in more details as touching the nature of the handwriting on the wall itself….

The Handwriting on the Wall #9

Friday, October 9, 2020

In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote (Daniel 5:5 KJV).

What great Bible truths can we learn from Daniel chapter 5?

Let us finish reading Daniel’s rebuke of King Belshazzar: “[23] But hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified: [24] Then was the part of the hand sent from him; and this writing was written.

“[25] And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. [26] This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. [27] TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. [28] PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians. [29] Then commanded Belshazzar, and they clothed Daniel with scarlet, and put a chain of gold about his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom. [30] In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain. [31] And Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old.”

God’s message to Belshazzar is Aramaic, a mixture of Hebrew and Babylonian: “MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.” Scripture defines these terms individually in verses 26 and 27. Paraphrased, “Belshazzar, your reign has reached its termination point. Having served God’s purpose, you and your empire can now fade into history. The Medes and Persians will overthrow Babylon and the city will fall.” Belshazzar is unfazed: God’s words do not bother him. He rewards Daniel as promised, and makes him “the third ruler in the kingdom” (more on this later). That very night, just as God vowed, Babylon is attacked and sacked, and Belshazzar loses his life in battle….

The Handwriting on the Wall #8

Thursday, October 8, 2020

In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote (Daniel 5:5 KJV).

What great Bible truths can we learn from Daniel chapter 5?

Keep reading the chapter: “[16] [Belshazzar addressing Daniel] And I have heard of thee, that thou canst make interpretations, and dissolve doubts: now if thou canst read the writing, and make known to me the interpretation thereof, thou shalt be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about thy neck, and shalt be the third ruler in the kingdom. [17] Then Daniel answered and said before the king, Let thy gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation.

“[18] O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour: [19] And for the majesty that he gave him, all people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down. [20] But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him: [21] And he was driven from the sons of men; and his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild asses: they fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven; till he knew that the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over it whomsoever he will.” Daniel referred to chapter 4, decades prior, when the LORD God cursed arrogant Nebuchadnezzar for seven years.

“[22] And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this;…..” Wow! Daniel affirms Belshazzar has willfully repeated his grandfather’s sin, thus provoking God to write on the wall and pronounce Belshazzar’s doom and Babylon’s fall….

The Handwriting on the Wall #7

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote (Daniel 5:5 KJV).

What great Bible truths can we learn from Daniel chapter 5?

Terrified Belshazzar’s “scholars” of religion are wholly unable to decipher God’s message to him, reminiscent of the events surrounding his grandfather King Nebuchadnezzar’s mysterious dream several decades earlier (Daniel chapter 2). As God through the Prophet Daniel illuminated Nebuchadnezzar, so He will use Daniel to teach Belshazzar.

Chapter 5 again: “[10] Now the queen by reason of the words of the king and his lords came into the banquet house: and the queen spake and said, O king, live for ever: let not thy thoughts trouble thee, nor let thy countenance be changed: [11] There is a man in thy kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of thy father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him; whom the king Nebuchadnezzar thy father, the king, I say, thy father, made master of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers; [12] Forasmuch as an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, interpreting of dreams, and shewing of hard sentences, and dissolving of doubts, were found in the same Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar: now let Daniel be called, and he will shew the interpretation.”

This “queen” (Belshazzar’s mother? Sister? Wife?) recalls Daniel’s amazing proficiency in discerning Nebuchadnezzar’s dream all those decades prior. She suggests Belshazzar summon aged Daniel for translation and explanation. “[13] Then was Daniel brought in before the king. And the king spake and said unto Daniel, Art thou that Daniel, which art of the children of the captivity of Judah, whom the king my father brought out of Jewry? [14] I have even heard of thee, that the spirit of the gods is in thee, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom is found in thee. [15] And now the wise men, the astrologers, have been brought in before me, that they should read this writing, and make known unto me the interpretation thereof: but they could not shew the interpretation of the thing:….”

The Handwriting on the Wall #6

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote (Daniel 5:5 KJV).

What great Bible truths can we learn from Daniel chapter 5?

As Belshazzar, the intoxicated King of Babylon, stared aghast at the mysterious message on his palace’s wall, he futilely sought solace from his “scholarly” religious leaders: “[7] The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. And the king spake, and said to the wise men of Babylon, Whosoever shall read this writing, and shew me the interpretation thereof, shall be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about his neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom. [8] Then came in all the king’s wise men: but they could not read the writing, nor make known to the king the interpretation thereof. [9] Then was king Belshazzar greatly troubled, and his countenance was changed in him, and his lords were astonied.”

First Corinthians chapter 2 says: “[9] But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. [10] But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. [11] For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. [12] Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. [13] Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. [14] But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

The Holy Spirit had written on the wall, so not only could it not be read without Him, it could not be understood without Him….

The Handwriting on the Wall #5

Monday, October 5, 2020

In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote (Daniel 5:5 KJV).

What great Bible truths can we learn from Daniel chapter 5?

King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon invaded Jerusalem on three separate occasions between 606 and 586 B.C. The Prophet Daniel, living in the area, was exiled to Babylon in the first invasion (chapter 1). The last attack resulted in Jerusalem’s fall and Solomon’s Temple’s demolition. See 2 Kings chapters 24 and 25, and 2 Chronicles chapter 36. As promised through Jeremiah the Prophet, the Jews would remain in Babylon for 70 years. By the time of Daniel chapter 5, Daniel is still in Babylon—nearly aged 90!

In the context of today’s Scripture, Nebuchadnezzar is long deceased. His grandson, Belshazzar, is King of Babylon, and he is a pagan idolater. What is most offensive to the LORD God, the God of Israel, is the fact Belshazzar has taken the holy vessels from Solomon’s Temple (that his grandfather removed from Jerusalem five decades earlier) and is using them in his raucous, heathen, religious festival! Verses 3 and 4 again: “Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God which was at Jerusalem; and the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, drank in them. They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone.

It is precisely at this moment that JEHOVAH God intervenes to form the heart of the Bible’s famous “handwriting on the wall” passage: “[5] In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. [6] Then the king’s countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.” Some disembodied fingers appear, and write a message on the palace wall! Belshazzar literally goes from partying to trembling….

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