The Trouble with Jerusalem – Daniel 9:25-27


The “troublous times” Gabriel tells Daniel would befall Jerusalem (v. 25) came when the Jews tried to obey the command to restore Jerusalem (Neh. 2:1-6; 4:1-3, 10; 6:1-3).  Gabriel also told Daniel it would take 7 weeks of years to restore it, then 62 more weeks of years until his Messiah came.  After that, Messiah would be “cut off” (v. 26) or killed (cf. Isa. 53:8), 5 days after, to be precise (Mt. 26:2 cf. Jo. 12:1, 12, 13).

But Gabriel added that He wouldn’t be killed “for Himself,” i.e., because of any wrong He’d done.  He was cut off for the sins of Isaiah’s people (Isa. 53:8).  We now know He was also cut off for us Gentiles.  But that’s not something Isaiah knew, or Daniel, or even the Lord Himself (Mt. 20:28) because it wasn’t testified until Paul (I Tim. 2:5, 6).

Then Antichrist’s “people” were supposed to destroy the city and temple (26), and would have if the mystery hadn’t interrupted this prophecy.  His people would have been the Assyrians, since he’ll be born in an Assyrian city (Neh. 1:11).  But if other nations rush to help Jerusalem, as they would to-day, he’ll need help.  And he’ll have it—those 10 kings who will side with him (Rev. 17:12).  Their kingdoms are the Gentiles the Lord said would destroy it (Lu. 21:24 cf. Rev. 11:2).

Unto the end of that war “desolations are determined.”  The word desolate means empty (cf. Isa. 5:9).  Antichrist will empty Jerusalem of the Jews who are supposed to live there.

But Gabriel wants Tribulation Jews who’ll be reading this to know that Antichrist will start out by looking like a friend to Israel (Dan. 9:27).  “The covenant” he’ll confirm with Israel will be the one where God vows to curse those who curse Israel (Gen. 12:1-3).  It will be known that he’ll have the military might to enforce this, so this covenant will bring peace to Israel, though it is not a “peace treaty,” as many teach.

Isaiah predicts that Tribulation Jews will be saying that this covenant with death and hell (Isa. 28:15-18), i.e., with the Antichrist (Rev. 6:8), will protect them from a coming scourge.  And the scourge they’ll be thinking of is the Antichrist.  You see, they’ll think he’s their Christ, the Christ who will protect them from the Antichrist.  They’ll fall for it because they expect their Christ will confirm the covenant (Isa. 42:1-6; 49:8).

But Isaiah says Antichrist will “disannul” the covenant, and Daniel 9:27 adds it will be in the midst of the 70th week, the final 7 years before the kingdom (v. 24).  Notice the 70th week doesn’t begin until “after” some things happen between the 69th and 70th week.  Why would God put a gap in the 70 week prophecy?  Two reasons.  First, to help Israel.

After they crucified the Lord, God wanted to cut Israel down, but He talked Him into giving them one more year (after His three-year ministry) to change their minds and receive Him (Lu. 13:6-9).  He made that request when He prayed, “Father, forgive them.”  The Father did, but the year ended when they stoned Stephen.  But Daniel’s timetable of 69 weeks worked out to the very day He rode into Jerusalem on the donkey.  In a timetable that precise, there was no room for another year in there if God hadn’t put a gap in the prophecy!

But with that gap, God could put all the years He wanted in there!  And He put 2,000 years in the gap to help us Gentiles with the dispensation of grace!  This age is a mystery (Eph. 3:2, 3), an unprophesied gap in the midst of the prophesied gap.  We know that up to a generation may pass after the Rapture before the 70th week begins because the Lord told His generation they’d live to see it (Mt. 24:15-34), and only one year of that generation passed so far.

Why would Antichrist cause the sacrifices that he started up to “cease”?  After he declares himself God (II Thes. 2:3, 4), he’ll set up an idolatrous new system of worship of himself instead of Judaism (Rev. 13:14). The overspreading of abominations refers to the cherubim that “spread” their wings “over” the mercy seat (Ex. 37:1-9).  How will Antichrist make them an abomination?  God is supposed to sit there (Ps. 99:1).  If someone who is not God sits there, that makes it desolate (empty) of the One who’s supposed to sit there, and when that someone is Antichrist, it’s an abomination.  But the desolation God has determined will fall on him.

The 70 Weeks of Daniel – Daniel 9:24-25



These “weeks” are weeks of years (Gen. 29:27; Lev. 25:40).  So Gabriel is telling Daniel, “It will be 490 years until something happens to your people (Israel) and your city (Jerusalem).”

Then God will “finish the transgression.”  Transgressions are sins, but sins against a specific law (Rom. 4:15).  The transgression is the same one Isaiah spoke about (53:8).  The Lord died for all their transgressions, of course (v. 5), so the transgression must be the same one Isaiah said would cause the earth to fall and not rise from (24:20).  Since the earth will fall due to all her transgressions, Isaiah is summing up their transgressions as the transgression.  That means Gabriel is saying God will make an end of the sum total of all transgressions.  He’ll make an “end of sins” of any kind as well (Dan. 9:24).

But to do that, God will have to “make reconciliation for iniquity” first.  We need reconciliation because our sins separated us from Him when Adam fell (cf. Isa. 59:2).  But to make it, someone had to atone for it.  Israel’s priests made reconciliation with animals (II Chron. 29:23, 24) which were a type of the ultimate atonement Christ made (Rom. 5:11).

Paul says we have His atonement “now,” but the nation of Israel didn’t, so they had a “day of atonement” every year (Lev. 25:9).  But just as their feast of passover was a type of the ultimate passover (I Cor. 5:7), their day of atonement was a type of an ultimate one.  And just like the typical feast of day of atonement, it’ll come right after the feast of trumpets (Lev. 23:23-27).  The ultimate feast of trumpets will gather saved Jews into the kingdom (Mt. 24:31), and that’s when they’ll get their ultimate day of atonement (Rom. 11:26, 27).

Individual Jews were saved and had their sins atoned for (John 5:24; I Jo. 3:15, etc.) but they were part of “the commonwealth of Israel” (Eph. 2:12), so they needed an ultimate day of atonement as a nation.  And when that day comes, Gabriel says God will bring in the “everlasting righteousness” of the kingdom of heaven on earth.

That’s when God will “seal up the vision and prophecy.”  When Daniel was finished describing his visions about the kingdom in the book of Daniel, God told him to seal the book (12:9).  But when the kingdom he wrote about actually comes, all the visions about the kingdom will also be sealed up.  It almost happened 2,000 years ago (Mt. 4:17; Acts 3:24) but was interrupted by the mystery.

When it finally comes, God will “anoint the most holy,” i.e. the most holy place (Ex. 26:34).  Anointing was done with oil, a type of the Spirit (I Sam. 16:13).  When the temple is rebuilt in the kingdom, God will anoint it with His Spirit.

“Seventy” years wasn’t a number God picked out of a hat.  Israel’s history is divided up into four 490-year sections.  Daniel was standing at the end of the third one, and when he learned he was about to be released from captivity and allowed to return to Israel, he thought the kingdom would start.  God sent Gabriel to tell him that it would be another 490 years until the kingdom.

First he was told it would take 7 weeks to rebuild Jerusalem (Dan. 9:25), and then 62 more weeks until Messiah.  He was told to start counting the weeks of years when the command went forth to built the city (Neh. 2:1-8), not from the command to build the temple (Ezra 1:2, 3).  This works out to the day when the Lord rode the donkey into Jerusalem.

It works out if you don’t use our 365-days-a-year calendar, that is!  God taught the Jews to use a 360-days-a-year calendar with each month having 30 days (Compare Gen. 7:11, 12, 24; 8:3, 4 and see Rev. 11:2, 3).  It’s why the Lord spoke to the Jews about “this thy day” on that day (Lu. 19:42).

This is how the wise men knew it was time for Messiah to be born.  They knew that He’d be a priest (Zech. 6:13), and priests had to be 30 (Num. 4:1-3), so when they saw Balaam’s star (Num. 24:17) they compared Daniel 9’s timetable for His presentation to Israel and subtracted 30 years and knew it was time for His birth within 3 years.

Only the true God could have made a prophecy like this!

Video of this sermon is available on YouTube: The 70 Weeks of Daniel – Daniel 9:24-25

What Is the Promise of Hebrews 11:39?

“What is the promise the writer is talking about in Hebrews 11:39?”

“And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise.”

God “promised” the Old Testament saints mentioned here a Savior (Jer. 33:14,15; Acts 13:23) that they didn’t live to receive (Luke 10:24). He also “promised” them eternal life in the kingdom of heaven on earth (James 2:5), a kingdom in which He “promised” to save them from their enemies (Luke 1:71,72), which amounted to a “promise” of rest (Heb. 4:1). He also “promised” the people of Israel the land of Israel (Deut. 19:8; Acts 7:5), from which He promised they would rule “the world” in the millennial kingdom (Rom. 4:13; Rev. 5:10) and then in the new earth (2 Pet. 3:13).

All those Hebrews 11 heroes of faith died “not having received the promises” (11:13) plural. But when verse 39 says they “received not the promise” (singular), we know the specific “promise” must be that of the resurrection (cf. Acts 26:6-8), for the next verse says:

“God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect” (v. 40).

The Lord was “made perfect” when He rose from the dead (Heb. 5:8,9). And while the “spirits” of those Old Testament saints have already been “made perfect” (Heb. 12:23), their bodies won’t be made perfect and reunited with their perfected spirits until the resurrection. The writer of Hebrews says that it was “better” for him and his fellow New Testament Hebrew saints that the resurrection hadn’t taken place back in Old Testament times without them.

Aren’t you glad the Lord waited to raise the saints of this dispensation until you got saved?

To the Reader:

Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:

"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."

To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.

Two Minutes with the Bible lets you start your day with short but powerful Bible study articles from the Berean Bible Society. Sign up now to receive Two Minutes With the Bible every day in your email inbox. We will never share your personal information and you can unsubscribe at any time.

A Necessary Evil – Daniel 9:14-23



The “evil” God brought on Israel (v. 14) isn’t the sinful kind.  It’s war, the opposite of peace (cf. Isa. 45:7).  When God’s people persisted in sinning against Him, He allowed Baby-lon to make war with them and conquer them.  Daniel said God was “righteous” to bring it (v. 14) because they’d sinned.

In bringing up their escape from Egyptian bondage (v. 15), Daniel was praying, “You got renown (i.e., fame, [Num. 16:2]) by ripping Israel out of the clutches of the most powerful king on earth (Neh. 9:7-10), and it will make Your name great again if You free us from Babylonian bondage.”  For 70 years, God looked like He couldn’t protect His own people from bondage, so Daniel is making a persuasive plea!

But God didn’t rip Israel from Babylon, He just quietly convinced her king to let them go.  How would that make His name great?  It takes more power to overcome human nature than the forces of nature.  When God did it, it got Him a greater name than the Red Sea crossing did (Jer. 16:14, 15).

In verse 14, Daniel admitted God was righteous to allow them to be enslaved when they disobeyed Him.  But in verse 16, he asks God to be just as righteous to release them according to “all” His righteousness, now that they’d served their 70 year sentence.  He wasn’t being irreverent in holding God to His Word.  God delights in being held to His Word!

Jerusalem is called God’s “holy mountain” (v. 16) because a mountain is a type of a kingdom (Isa. 65:25), and God’s kingdom was centered in Jerusalem, a city on a mountain (Mt. 5:14).  Israel’s sins had made the light of the world a “reproach” (v. 16), a laughingstock among the nations, as God predicted (I Ki. 9:6-9; Jer. 24:9).  Daniel was asking God to turn His anger away to get the Gentiles to stop reproaching them and start looking to them for spiritual light instead.

The “sanctuary” (v. 17) was the temple Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed.  It had been lying in ruins for 70 years, but Daniel knew the way to get God to fix that was to ask Him to do it “for the Lord’s sake.”  They didn’t deserve to get their temple back, but God deserved to get His home back, of course!

But if they ignored the land’s sabbath 490 years, and God punished them with 70 years in captivity, that was justice.  But Daniel asked for “mercy” (v. 18) because if they got what they deserved they’d never have been released (Ezra 9:13).

Football fans know to “defer” (v. 19) means to put something off till later.  Daniel was asking God not to defer releasing them (cf. Ps. 102:12).

Daniel was confessing his sins because, even though the captivity was only supposed to last 70 years, getting released was contingent on confessing. This is a type of Tribulation saints who will know the Tribulation is only supposed to last 7 years, but release from Antichrist will depend on them con-fessing, which is why John wrote I Jo. 1:9 to them—not you!

God responded to Daniel’s prayer by sending Gabriel with an answer (v. 20, 21)—all because Daniel prayed “in truth” (Ps. 145:18).  The truth Daniel knew was that God would answer him if he confessed his sins.  But God won’t answer you if you pray for manna (Mt. 6:11) because rightly divided truth says we have to work for our bread in this dispensation.

Gabriel could “fly” (v. 21), but that’s no proof he had wings.  He had to fly across outer space to deliver messages from God (cf. Lu. 1:19), and there’s no air in space, so wings would be useless.  A seraph could fly to Daniel in heaven (Isa. 6:1-6) because there is air in heaven.

An “oblation” (v. 21) is just another word for an offering (cf. Lev. 3:1).  The Jews offered 3 a day, the last in the evening.

Daniel is said to be “greatly beloved” (v. 22, 23) because he was so sinless even his enemies couldn’t find sin in him (6:4).  John was the disciple Jesus loved, and God showed him the future too in Revelation.  God wants His beloved children to know the future, and we are “beloved” in Christ (Eph. 1:6), so God has given us a complete Bible, including some specific information about the future called the Rapture that neither Daniel nor John had.

A video of this sermon is available on YouTube: A Necessary Evil – Daniel 9:14-23

Gospel Power

“For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost…” (1 Thes. 1:5).

On Paul’s second apostolic journey, Paul, Silas, and Timothy had communicated the truth of the gospel of the grace of God to the Thessalonians. However, Paul recognized that it wasn’t their eloquence that had brought people to faith in Christ. The gospel had come to the Thessalonian church in word, but “not… in word only.”

“John Stott shares the following story from 1958 when he was leading a university outreach in Sydney, Australia. The day before the final meeting, Stott received word that his father had passed away. In addition to his grief, Stott was also starting to lose his voice. Here’s how Stott describes the final day of the outreach:

“‘It was already late afternoon within a few hours of the final meeting of the mission, so I didn’t feel I could back away at that time…. When time came for me to give my address… I had to get within half an inch of the microphone, and I croaked the gospel like a raven. I couldn’t exert my personality. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t use any inflections in my voice. I croaked the gospel in monotone.

“‘…I’ve been back to Australia about ten times since 1958, and on every occasion somebody has come up to me and said, “Do you remember that final meeting in the university in the great hall?” “I jolly well do,” I reply. “Well,” they say, “I was converted that night.”’

“Stott concludes, ‘The Holy Spirit takes our human words, spoken in great weakness and frailty, and he carries them home with power to the mind, the heart, the conscience, and the will of the hearers….’”1

The truth of the gospel has power. It is by grace that the Holy Spirit uses our words and our proclamation of the gospel to save souls. He does so, even when the words are spoken in weakness, when we stumble over the words, when we don’t answer questions well, and even when we’re sure that we blew it.

The conversion of souls does not depend on slick salesmanship techniques, powerful rhetoric, or convincing logic on our part. The power is in the truth of the gospel and the Holy Spirit. We are simply called to make the gospel known, and the Holy Spirit works through our faithfulness to share His truth. Even if it feels like we’ve failed when we share the gospel, we actually never do. According to God’s way of looking at it, we “always… triumph in Christ” (2 Cor. 2:14) when we make known the knowledge of the Savior and the good news of His finished work.

1. “John Stott Discovers God’s Power in His Weakness,” Preaching Today, accessed April 30, 2021,

To the Reader:

Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:

"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."

To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.

Two Minutes with the Bible lets you start your day with short but powerful Bible study articles from the Berean Bible Society. Sign up now to receive Two Minutes With the Bible every day in your email inbox. We will never share your personal information and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Daniel and the Book of Books – Daniel 9:1-14



We know the “books” Daniel was reading (v. 2) were the books of the Bible, for he mentions the Book of Jeremiah. He may have been hearing from God directly in visions, but he still made time to read the Bible, even though he was busy “in the first year of Darius” (v. 1) being head over two presidents, 120 princes, and the entire kingdom of Babylon (5:31—6:2).  Shouldn’t you make time for it?  It gave Daniel the courage to face the lion’s den in the rest of Daniel 6, and it will give you courage in your life’s biggest challenge to faith too—and all your little daily challenges to faith as well!

Daniel had obviously been reading Jeremiah 25:8-12 and 29:10, where God said that Israel would be released from captivity in Babylon after 70 years, and 70 years were up!  He no doubt rejoiced, all because he knew exactly where he stood in the program of God. We do too! That’s what “right-ly dividing the word of truth” is all about! (II Tim. 2:15).

But if he was happy, why did he act sad (v. 3 cf. Esther 4:3), and begin to confess his sins (v. 4, 5)?  It was because he knew from another book of the Bible that Israel’s release wasn’t an automatic thing just because time was up.  They had to confess their sins (Lev. 26:27-42) and admit they deserved to have spent 70 years in bondage to Babylon’s king for ignoring God’s warnings in His Word, and His prophets (Dan. 9: 6).  That left God no choice but to do what He said and judge them 70 years.  He’d have been unrighteous if He didn’t, and as Daniel pointed out, righteousness belonged to Him (v. 7).

“Confusion of faces” means shamefacedness (cf. Ps. 44:15), so Daniel was saying, “God was righteous to judge us, and we should be ashamed of ourselves.”  When he mentions Jerusalem, Judah, and “all Israel” near and “far off,” that can’t mean Gentiles, for they didn’t need to be ashamed for breaking a law God never gave them.  But many believers teach that those “afar off” in Acts 2:39 are Gentiles because they think the Body of Christ, made up of Jews and Gentiles, began there, instead of later when God sent Paul to the Gentiles.  But if it did, we should preach the same “baptism for salvation” message that Peter preached there.  We know it didn’t, because Peter mentions a “promise” God made those afar off, and He never made any to Gentiles (Eph. 2:12)

“Seventy years” of captivity wasn’t an arbitrary number.  There were lots of ways Israel’s “fathers…rebelled” against God (Dan. 9:8, 9), but one specific way caused God to judge them exactly 70 years.  They were to let their farmland rest every 7th year (Lev. 25:2-4; 26:33-35), but they ignored that law for 490 years, just like they ignored the prophets.

That means the punishment fit the crime perfectly.  God’s judgments always do!  When unbelievers say God is unrighteous to punish men in hell for eternity, that just shows they don’t know that a sin against an eternally holy God demands an eternal punishment.

The “curse” of Daniel 9:10, 11 is the last of five courses of curses God outlined in Leviticus 26, each one of which got more severe if they ignored the first judgments.  And they ignored them all, as they ignored the law and the prophets.

“Confirmeth” (Dan. 9:12) means to do what you say you will do.  God’s people in Israel said they’d obey all the law (Ex. 24:6, 7), but when they didn’t confirm their words by doing them (Deut. 27:26), God “fulfilled” or confirmed His Word by punishing them as He said He would.  And when He was faithful to His Word, I doubt they were singing “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” But Daniel was, as was Jeremiah (Lam. 2:17).  The reason Jeremiah could say that, and then say “great is Thy faithfulness” (3:22, 23) is—as he points out there—because it was of God’s mercy that they weren’t consumed instead of enslaved for 70 years.

Daniel said the captivity was the worst thing that ever happened to anyone (9:12), and Ezekiel added it was the worst that that ever would happen to anyone (5:7-9).  So why’d the Lord say the Tribulation was (Mt. 24:15-21)?  The captivity was a type of the Tribulation, so many of the things said about it were types of the Tribulation, just as many things said about the fall of Babylon will have another fulfillment in Antichrist’s Babylon.  That’s why Daniel told the Jews to “turn” (9:13) or repent, just as John did (Mt. 3:2; 4:17).

A video of this sermon is available on YouTube: Daniel and the Book of Books – Daniel 9:1-14

Rightly Divided Worship

Did you hear about the woman who said, “My husband and I got divorced for religious reasons. He thought he was God, and I didn’t.” Of course, while her husband agreed  they got divorced for religious reasons, according to him, it was because “she worshipped money, and I didn’t have any.”

I suppose everyone worships something, and those who worship God worship Him in many different ways. And “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15) causes grace believers to worship God in ways that differ from the way most other believers worship. This got the Apostle Paul into trouble in Acts 18:12,13, where we read:

“…the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul… Saying, This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law.”

When Paul began preaching that “we are not under the law” (Rom. 6:15), those unsaved Jews accused him of teaching men to worship contrary to the law. And I guarantee if you start preaching that, it won’t be long before someone accuses you of that as well.

Do you know how you should respond when they do? The same way Paul did later in Acts:

“…after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets” (Acts 24:14).

Teaching that we are not under the law but under grace was called heresy even in Paul’s day. But he categorically denied being a heretic, and insisted he believed “all things which are written in the law.” He had many new revelations to share about how to worship God under grace, but he knew people would receive them more readily if he first established that his new message of the mystery agreed with the Scriptures of the prophets (cf. Acts 15:15). That’s why he opened his first New Testament epistle by stating that there as well (Rom. 1:1,2).

Is there anything you can learn from that? Before you start telling Christians about the  different things you believe about the Bible, it is always best to let them know you believe many of the same things they believe. BBS founder Pastor C. R. Stam used to go on the radio and say, “We believe all the fundamentals of the faith.” And you know what? He was right, we do! Lists of the fundamentals of the faith usually include the deity of Christ, His virgin birth, His blood atonement, His bodily resurrection, and the inerrancy of the Scriptures. We agree with all those doctrines!

So if you want to share the grace message like one of the pioneers of our message, start by telling people what you believe in common with them like Pastor Stam did—and like the original pioneer of the grace message did, the Apostle Paul!

Common Ways to Worship

With that in mind, before we talk about how rightly dividing the word causes us to worship God in some new and different ways, let’s follow Paul’s lead and first establish that we worship Him in many of the same ways His people worshipped in time past.

For instance, when God told Abraham to sacrifice his son,

“Abraham said unto his young men… I and the lad will go yonder and worship…” (Gen. 22:5).

You could conclude from this that worshipping God means being willing to do whatever He asks, no matter how dearly it costs you. And if that’s the case, may I ask if that’s how you worship Him? Do you believe all things that are written in the law in that passage? Are you willing to do whatever God asks, no matter what it costs you?

Did you notice Abraham said, “I and the lad will go yonder and worship”? That means his son Isaac worshipped too! Abraham was old and Isaac was young, and he could have easily overpowered the man who wanted to worship God by sacrificing him. That means Isaac must have been willing to give his life as a sacrifice to Him. Well, if God calls that worship, what do you think He calls it when we obey Paul’s command to “present your bodies a living sacrifice” (Rom. 12:1)? Do you think maybe God considers that worship as well? Isn’t that worship that you can do “believing all things which are written in the law” about Isaac?

Look how a Jewish man worshipped God under the law in Deuteronomy 26:10:

“…I have brought the firstfruits of the land… and worship before the Lord.

When you do what he did and put God first in every area of your life, can you see how that worships Him?

When I first began pastoring and needed help fixing something in our church building, I asked one of our men to help. He replied by reciting a long list of things he had to do that day, so I was sure the next words out of his mouth would be, “So I can’t help you.” It chokes me up every time I remember that instead he said, “But the Lord comes first.”

I think he worshipped God that day, don’t you? I think he worshipped God believing all things written in the law, the law that said to give God the firstfruits.

Uncommonly Profound Worship

You might want to take your shoes off before considering our next example of how they worshipped under the law, for the ground we’re about to tread is holy. David was praying that God would spare the life of his sick baby boy (2 Sam. 12:16). When they told him the infant had died,

“David arose… and worshipped” (v. 20).

Is that what you’d do if you lost the infant child that you’d been praying would live? Do you know what Job did when he lost all his children, and all his wealth as well?

“Job… worshipped, And said… blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:20,21).

Job lost literally everything, and not only didn’t complain, he blessed God! Do you think the worship of his God after such an unfathomable loss might have caused unbelievers who saw it to be more likely to open their hearts to his God? Do you think they might be more open to God if they should see you worship Him after you lose everything? That’s a testimony that literally screams to unbelievers that you have something they don’t have.

If you say, “I don’t think I’m at the point in my spiritual life where I can worship God like that yet,” can you at least worship like the wise men did? They asked Herod,

“Where is He that is born King of the Jews? for we… are come to worship Him…. And when… they saw the young child… worshipped Him: and… presented unto Him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh” (Matt. 2:2,11).

Their worship of the Lord included giving Him gifts. That means every dollar you give to the Lord’s work is an act of worship. Hey, there’s a reason they call it an offering plate. Under the law, “worshippers” offered animals (cf. Heb. 10:2), and animals cost money! It was a financial sacrifice to offer animals to God, and it’s a sacrifice on your part to offer your finances to Him as well. And it’s another one of the ways you can worship like Paul did, believing all things written in the law.

Kingdom Worship

Now that we’ve seen how a grace believer can worship God in ways like they did under the law, let’s consider a way we can worship Him in a manner that His people worshipped under the kingdom program the Lord introduced to the Jews when He was here. Do you remember how He described the worship of Israel’s unsaved rulers?

“…in vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matt. 15:9).

If teaching the commandments of men worships God “in vain,” wouldn’t teaching the commandments of God constitute correct worship? I ask that because of the time a lady once asked me, “Do you worship at your church?” And you know what she meant. She wanted to know if we jumped up and down and rolled around in the aisles and engaged in all the emotionalism that passes for worship in countless churches these days. Our Lord’s words assure us that it is the absolute highest form of worship to say, “I’m not only going to obey God, I’m going to spend Sunday morning learning how to obey Him by hearing my pastor teach the commandments of God.”

God’s commandments for us include many of the things written in the law and the prophets, including nine of the ten commandments, for our apostle Paul repeats them. But while our worship mirrors that of Jews under the law in that we keep those nine commandments, our worship differs from theirs in that Paul gives a different reason to keep them.

All the More Reason to Worship

First let’s look at the motive God gave His people in Israel to worship Him by obeying the commandments. Under the law, He told them,

“I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the Lord… And a curse, if ye will not obey…” (Deut. 11:26-28).

Under the law, God told His people to obey His commandments or be cursed. But when the apostle of grace talks about the ten commandments, he doesn’t say to obey them or be cursed. He says,

“…love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour, therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Rom. 13:8-10).

Paul doesn’t tell us to obey the law out of fear that God will curse us if we don’t. He says we should keep the law out of love. If you love your neighbor, are you going to lie to him, steal his stuff, or covet his wife and commit adultery with her?

There’s also another kind of love that should motivate you not to sin against your neighbor, and that’s Christ’s love for you:

“…the love of Christ constraineth us, because… He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again” (2 Cor. 5:14,15).

Another reason you should want to keep the law that says not to lie or steal is that Christ loved you enough to die to save you from all your lying and stealing. Continuing to sin after God gave you a new heart would be like an alcoholic continuing to drink after receiving a new liver. Neither of those scenarios reflects the proper gratitude people should have for the gift of a new life.

A New World Order

But there were more than just 10 commandments in the law. The ancient rabbis counted 613 of them, and a lot of them are like the ones we read about in Colossians 2:21:

“Touch not; taste not; handle not…”

The law was chock-full of commandments that said things like, “Don’t eat that, it’s unclean. Don’t touch that dead body, or you’ll be unclean.” But do you know what Paul said about those commandments in the context?

“If ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not…) after the commandments and doctrines of men?” (Col. 2:20-22).

Most Christians would object that those “touch not” commandments aren’t the commandments of men, they are the commandments of God! And it’s true that they used to be the commandments of God. But now that we are not under the law, they are the commandments of men. Those “rudiments of the world” now constitute a new  definition of worldliness. Do you see how rightly dividing the Word affects the way we worship Him with our obedience to His commandments?

But worshipping God by keeping His commandments involves more than just recognizing that some of the commandments of the law are no longer binding on believers today. It also involves recognizing that God gave some new commandments through Paul, as he himself said in 1 Corinthians 7:19:

“Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.”

I sometimes hear from well-meaning Christians who quote this verse to challenge our teaching that we are not under the law of the ten commandments. But we know Paul couldn’t have been speaking about the commandments of the law here, for circumcision was one of those commandments! It would make no sense to say circumcision was nothing, but the keeping of the commandments is everything—which is what he was saying there—if he meant the commandments of the law. He must have been talking about some new commandments, the ones he mentions in 1 Corinthians 14:37:

“If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.

There are Pauline commandments (cf. 1 Thes. 4:2; 2 Thes. 3:6,12), hundreds of them. And they are now the commandments of God! If you teach them, you can avoid worshipping God in vain, for you’ll be teaching the commandments of God for this dispensation.

That’s the Spirit!

The only other time Paul talked about how he worshipped, other than the time when he insisted he worshipped God believing all things written in the law and the prophets, is found in Philippians 3:2,3:

“Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit… and have no confidence in the flesh.”

Paul’s “beware of dog” warning here reminds me of a sign I once saw that said, “Solicitors welcome. Dog food is expensive.”

But Paul was talking about spiritual dogs, of course. Under the law, Gentiles were considered dogs (Matt. 15:21-26), perhaps partly because dogs were unclean animals who would eat just about anything, just like Gentiles who weren’t bound by the diet restrictions of the law. But when Paul warned the Philippians to beware of dogs, and then added they should beware of the concision, he was saying that unsaved circumcised Jews were now dogs.

But what does he mean when he says we worship God in the spirit, in addition to worshipping Him believing all things written in the law? Well, a good example is found in what he wrote the Colossians about circumcision:

“…ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands… by the circumcision of Christ” (Col. 2:11).

Physical circumcision involved the cutting off of the foreskin, a type of the spiritual circumcision God always wants His people to have (cf. Deut. 10:16). Spiritual circumcision involves the kind of cutting off that the Lord experienced (Dan. 9:26) when He was “cut off out of the land of the living” (Isa. 53:8). In other words, it involves death. If you’re saved, you died with Christ (Rom. 6:1-5), so you are circumcised with Him spiritually.

And that’s a spiritual death you needed to be saved and cleansed from your sins. You see, you used to be so sinful even God Himself couldn’t cleanse the man you were before you were saved. All He could do is identify you with Christ in His death and burial, and raise you with Him to make you a “new man” (Col. 3:10).

And it is because we “worship God in the spirit” with our circumcision that Paul says we have “no confidence in the flesh” (Phil. 3:3). Compare that to what John the Baptist told some unsaved Jews in Matthew 3:9:

“…think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father….”

Clearly, unsaved Jews had all their confidence in their circumcised flesh. They thought no circumcised son of Abraham would ever go to hell. John was trying to convince them that God was looking for circumcision of the heart in addition to the circumcision of their flesh.

Prophet-able Worship

In closing, when I gave you examples of how we worship God as Paul did, believing all things written in the law, did you notice I didn’t give you any examples of how we worship God as Paul did by believing all things written in the prophets? There are a couple of examples I could give, but I’ll close with the chilling description Isaiah gives of worship in the millennial kingdom:

“…all flesh come to worship before Me, saith the Lord. And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against Me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring…” (Isa. 66:23,24).

The Lord Jesus quoted that passage when He was describing hell to His Jewish hearers in Mark 9:42-48. That means in the millennial kingdom, God’s people in Israel are going to “worship” Him by looking down into the open pit of hell to see the suffering of unsaved people.

How will that worship God, you ask? Well, let’s compare how God will be worshipped when it is declared of Him,

“…true and righteous are His judgments: for He hath judged the great whore…. And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God… saying, Amen…” (Rev. 19:2-4).

That word “saying” there indicates that the way they worshipped God was by saying Amen to the assessment that His judgments are “true and righteous.” The word Amen indicates that they agree that God’s judgments are just and right.

And in the millennial kingdom, men will similarly worship God by agreeing that the judgment God is giving unbelievers in hell is just as righteous as the judgment He will give the great whore of Babylon. That is, they will agree with God that unsaved people are getting exactly what they have coming to them.

People sometimes ask me how they’ll enjoy heaven if they know their loved ones are in hell, and Isaiah provides us with the answer to that question. We too will worship God, believing all things written in the prophets, by changing the way we think about our loved ones to reflect how He will think about them. It is always an act of worship to agree with everything God says or does.

Don’t you want God to change how you think about everything when you get to heaven? Don’t you want to think exactly like He thinks for all eternity? For God to allow us to be selective in the changes He makes to our thinking would only mean we would be eternally unhappy as we remember our lost loved ones.

If the thought of “abhorring” your loved ones makes you uncomfortable, it should. It should make you uncomfortable enough to warn them and pray for their salvation. Why not begin today to make that a part of your rightly divided worship of God?

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Berean Searchlight – June 2021

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