Thieves in the Temple

Monday, February 15, 2021

And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought; Saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves (Luke 19:45,46 KJV).

There were swindlers in “God’s house” then—just like today!

Recently, I heard from a man whose elderly father had just died. The late man had a clear testimony of salvation in Jesus Christ. (I talked with him years back.) Yet, a cult had captivated him, and he had moved far away from his family to attend “church services” there. For over a decade, he supported that woman preacher financially. When he graduated to Heaven, his son took over his estate and went through his personal records. As it turned out, that dear soul was giving a mandatory 25% of his annual income to that church. According to his last will and testament, 40% of his remaining fortune will go to fund the “church”—leaving his son very little inheritance!

Sadly, religion is “big bu$ine$$.” The amount of wealth taken from people under the guise of “church,” “Bible,” and “God” is far greater than the sum of every bank heist, every company embezzlement, and every purse-snatching. Surely, the Lord will absolutely not let people get away with such dishonesty. In fact, according to today’s Scripture, He exposed them in—and evicted them from—the Jerusalem Temple.

They were charging outrageous amounts for sacrificial animals… the very offerings the poor people needed to purchase for worship as per the Mosaic Law. Furthermore, officials working under the priests exchanged foreign currencies for the Jewish shekel—and they gave back far less than the equivalent. That is, “Do not defile God’s house with your pagan coins bearing idolatrous images! Come ‘exchange’ them for the shekel, and buy your sacrifices from us. Our fees are ‘quite reasonable!’” (Such hypocrisy.)

Hence, after today’s Scripture, “And [Jesus] taught daily in the temple. But the chief priests and the scribes and the chief of the people sought to destroy him, And could not find what they might do: for all the people were very attentive to hear him.” How furious they were once Jesus put them out of bu$ine$$!

Wonderful Things!

Saturday, February 13, 2021

And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them. And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the son of David; they were sore displeased, And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise? (Matthew 21:14-16 KJV).

The Lord Jesus has just a few days left to live, and He is doing some “wonderful things….”

In “the city of the great King” (Matthew 5:35; Psalm 48:2), the place from which the LORD’S Word should have flowed to the nations (Isaiah 2:3), Herod’s Temple Complex characterized spiritual ignorance and unbelief. To highlight Israel’s condition in conjunction with her Temple—the hub of her false religion—we find in today’s Scripture “the blind and the lame.” Nationally speaking, the Jews can neither see with spiritual eyes nor walk with spiritual legs. God admonished, “Hear, ye deaf; and look, ye blind, that ye may see” (Isaiah 42:18). The Prophet confessed, “Neither have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets” (Daniel 9:10).

Foreseeing Israel’s national sight restored at Christ’s Second Coming, the Prophet penned, “And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness” (Isaiah 29:18). JEHOVAH God promised Israel in that day, “And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them” (Ezekiel 36:27). To prove He was Israel’s Messiah, Jesus performed the miracles of today’s Scripture: “…your God will come… he will come and save you. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart…” (Isaiah 35:4-6).

What will be more marvelous than the physically blind seeing and the lame walking in the Temple, is Israel—long dead, blind, crippled, and cast away—will see and walk again in the Earth! Hallelujah!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Can you explain, ‘We are in the world but not of the world?’

Found Out and Fractured in Twain #26

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

“But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23 KJV).

Doubtless, we never want to sensationalize or exaggerate. However, the fact remains, some dark days are ahead for the United States and the rest of the world. What can we Bible-believing Christians do?

The Jerusalem Temple of Christ’s earthly ministry was Herod’s Temple, named after Herod the Great who renovated and expanded Zerubbabel’s Temple built some 500 years earlier in the Books of Ezra, Haggai, and Zechariah. (Attempting to kill the Christ Child, this was the King Herod who, in Matthew chapter 2, slaughtered the Bethlehem children ages two and under.) Herod’s Temple had already taken nearly 50 years to enlarge and decorate by the time of John 2:20. Construction lasted another three decades!

Mark 13:1 relates: “And as he [Jesus] went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!” At the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, archaeologists have unearthed massive limestone and marble blocks forming its walls. Golden plates covered the main edifice’s entire eastern wall, so the structure shimmered with the rising sun. Ancient Jewish historian Josephus wrote, “Whatever was not overlaid with gold was purest white.” Herod the Great even donated a golden cluster of grapes—an ornament as tall as a man!

In addition to the gigantic Temple complex—a series of buildings that were a world wonder—the Jews had their rites, rituals, and ceremonies. Washing their hands several times daily, fasting throughout the week, praying for hours every day, faithfully giving alms (donations to the poor), hearing and reciting their Old Testament verses and singing the Psalms each Sabbath, physically circumcising their male babies, and so on; no other group was more pious! Yet, it was here in their main religious center where they repeatedly challenged the Son of God, especially with potentially-embarrassing trick questions (Matthew chapters 21–22; Mark chapters 11–12; Luke chapters 19–20).

Although deeply religious, they ultimately crucified—yea rather, outright murdered—Jesus their Messiah in unbelief! Calvary was neither surprising nor accidental; it was the culmination of centuries of deliberately refusing God’s words. Similarly, America’s new culture did not spring up overnight….

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….