Good Evening! Welcome to another session of FUEL. Session VIII actually of FUEL – RockChurch’s midweek Bible Study, where we take time to sit and soak in God’s Word so we have the Fuel, so we have the power to continue to push through this life God has blessed us with.
Now let me ask you a question. Can you imagine driving your car, and the low fuel light comes on – but you decide you’re ok and so you keep on driving. The needle gets lower and lower. First it was on the E. Now it’s under the E. But you keep on driving. And what happens? Eventually you run out of gas. You’re out of Fuel. Now, is that vehicle going to go anywhere on its own? No. For all intents and purposes, It’s a fairly useless 2 ton piece of metal. It might be a nice looking piece of metal, but it’s not going to be able to fulfil its purpose, which is moving people and their items from one place to another.
Now can you imagine getting mad because the car won’t go anymore? Can you imagine yelling at the car and demanding it to get going? Can you imagine telling other people how ridiculous it is that this beautiful piece of machinery won’t move? What will they tell you? Have you put any gas in it?
And then you reply, listen, I don’t want to talk about gas right now. I’m too busy trying to get this car to move.
This is a ridiculous scenario, but it actually plays out over and over again in the body of Christ. I know it’s played out in my life – it may have played out in your life as well.
We get spiritually refilled, but as we go through this life, and live out our purpose, we begin to feel depleted. We begin to run out of gas. We become less loving; less caring. And unless we have a system to get that continuous refill, we can end up feeling totally defeated.
And that’s what FUEL is about. Just one more tool to help keep us built up so we can love others and help build them up. Amen? So give yourselves a hand for being out here week after week.
On a personal note, I want to say I feel very encouraged and am excited to see the hunger that you guys have for the Word of God. I see you taking notes and asking questions. After the message last week, I had conversations with several of you – and some great questions came up. What’s so cool about teaching the Word of God verse by verse is that the Holy Spirit has a way of bringing things to the surface. We spoke a bit about the event known as the Harpadtzo, or more well known as the Rapture, and that really brought some stuff to the surface. Several weeks ago we talked about the Millennial reign of Christ and that brought up some great discussion. So on that note, tonight I want to add another feature to our study. Starting tonight and at the beginning of every session, we’re going to start off with The Question of the Week. Question of the Week. So what I’ve done is I’ve had an email setup. You can see it on your handout. It’s firstname.lastname@example.org. And this email is primarily for you to ask questions. If something comes up during a study, make a note of it, and shoot me an email. And what I’ll do is scan through the questions and select one to answer for the following week. And we’ll have some fun digging into some topical type studies. Now what I won’t be able to do, is answer every question directly. Some of these questions are so deep and well thought out that it will take significant research to give the best possible answer, so this won’t be intended for me to respond, but just as a resource for me to use to get feedback on questions you might have. Sound good? And I’ll take one question a week, but I will also keep an eye on all the questions, and as I can, I’ll address them at various times in various studies as we go forward. So this should be one more feature of growth as we continue to study together. Amen?
So, on that note, let’s get into the Word. But before we do, let’s pray.
Ok, so we continue our journey through the book of Daniel. If you’ll remember, in chapter 1, we saw the amazing character. The amazing integrity of this young man, Daniel, and his 3 friends. He resolved in himself that he would not defile himself by eating the king’s food and drinking the king’s wine, because it would cause him to violate his conscience, and his relationship with God. He displayed several attributes – Wisdom, courage, faithfulness – but the main thing he demonstrated was integrity. So let’s park there just for a second and take a look at this word
Integrity – what do you think of when you think of integrity? Most people will say honesty. That’s true, but it’s far deeper than that. I think the best way to explain integrity is by explaining what it’s not. Integrity, for our purposes, is the exact opposite of compartmentalization. To compartmentalize is to separate into sections or categories.
When you go to Subway and order a sandwich you’ll see the pickles are with the pickles, the tomatoes are with the tomatoes, and the onions are with the onions. These items are all compartmentalized. This is a good thing when it comes to vegetables, but it is not a good thing when it comes to our hearts. Amen?
Sometimes we can compartmentalize our hearts into sections where God can and cannot have access to. So, it’s Sunday morning – God has full access to my mind, my will, my emotions, all of the above.
But now it’s Tuesday, and my favorite show is on. Yes the show is full of sex and foul mouth characters, but it’s so good. I’m not going to ask God about that one. I’m going to seal that one off and say something like “I’ve got liberty in Christ” or some kind of Pseudo spiritual statement.
Integrity is the opposite. Integrity takes God into account in all areas of life. One of the greatest prayers can be to tell God – Nothing is off limits in my life. I trust you and you have freedom to go there and talk with me and deal with me.
So that’s Biblical integrity. Inviting God into all our decision making and action taking. And that’s what Daniel did in chapter 1 and is what makes him such a great role model.
So if Integrity was the word for chapter 1, chapter 2’s word would be the Benefits of Integrity. In chapter 2 we saw King Nebuchadnezzar distraught because of the dream he had and the fact that none of his wise men could tell him what the dream was that he gives an order to have all the wise men in his kingdom immediately executed. Daniel, acts with wisdom and buys more time.
Because his relationship with God has not been compromised, he and his 3 friends go right to the throne of God and in prayer, ask for mercy. God grants them their petition by giving Daniel both the dream and the interpretation. Daniel shows it to Nebuchadnezzar and he is so blown away that he tries to worship Daniel. Daniel of course gives all glory to God and we see him and consequently his 3 companions promoted to very high positons in Nebuchadnezzar’s government – and we are also given a snapshot of the future in the image that Nebuchadnezzar dreamt about that depicted his empire, and several other future empires as well.
Then in chapter 3 we saw more benefits of integrity, where the three jewish boys, called by their Babylonian names, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. We see them refusing to bow to the idol Nebuchadnezzar created of himself. Rather than compromising and compartmentalizing their relationship with God they decide it would be better to die as they stood for God, then to bow to Satan. Again, God shows up as the 4th man in the fire and delivers them and sends a message to the entire Babylonian Empire.
Now last week we broke this down as we saw how each part of the story in Daniel 3 mapped to something else in the book of Revelation, and in particular, Revelation 13.
We saw King Nebuchadnezzar as a shadow of the antichrist, the global dictator during the Tribulation, who has an image made of himself, and anybody who will not worship it will be put to death. We see Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego as a picture of the faithful Jews and other people who refuse to bow their knee to the image and face execution.
We also saw Jesus himself help them endure the fiery furnace, and so he will help those faithful to him to make it through, whether they are martyred or not – He will be with them
And then we took some time to answer the question – where is Daniel.
And we saw that perhaps – just perhaps, we might be seeing a picture of the pretribulation Rapture, which is the doctrine that states that God will pull the Church out before the Great Tribulation occurs.
Now this is one of the topics that there is great interest in, and it is from this topic that we will do the first Question of the Week. Now at some point, we are going to do an in-depth study of all the Scriptures that talk about the 2nd coming of Christ. We’ll look at the ones that point to a pre-trib Rapture, but we’ll also look at differing viewpoints and the Scriptures that are used to support them. That will be at a time yet future, but for tonight the question I want to answer is
Question of the Week:
When it comes to the timing of the Rapture, do I have to pick one? Do I have to be pre-trib, mid-trib, post-trib, etc…?
This is a great question! To explore let’s take a look at the two key passages regarding the Rapture. As we build on this, these will be our two primary Scriptures.
Scripture 1: 1st Thessalonians 4:13-18
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
Ok, so the backdrop on this is the Apostle Paul is writing a letter to the Church in Thessalonikia. And he is addressing a fear that they have. They are fairly new believers, but they have an amazing understanding of a lot of various Bible Doctrine. But they have a fear. They know that Paul taught them that Jesus could come back at any moment and so they were living in light of what’s called the imminent return of Christ. That means, nothing further needs to happen for Jesus to come back. So they are expecting him to come back in their lifetime, but as time goes on something throws them for a loop. They have several from their congregation pass away, more than likely, just from natural causes. This freaks them out, because a belief has risen amongst them that states that if you die before Jesus comes, you will miss it. So they have an understanding, but they also have a misconception. So Paul’s primary purpose in writing this is to give them some clarification. Those who die – their bodies will actually go up first, before the bodies of those who are still alive. That is the main thing he is addressing. However, as he addresses it, he gives us a step by step, or a play by play of how it all goes down.
1. The Lord himself, upon a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet will descend from heaven. So Jesus is in heaven and at this prescribed exact moment the trumpet will blast and his descent will start
2. The bodies of the dead, who are Christians will be unified with their spirit. More details on that when we look at 1st Corinthians 15. But the bodies of the dead rise first
3. Then immediately behind them, those who are alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds. Now, highlight or underline, or put your finger on that Word caught up – We’ll look at it in just a second
4. They will meet the Lord in the air
5. From that moment on they will be with the Lord Jesus forever
6. Encourage one another with these words – This is meant to be an encouragement for us, not a point of battle. Like we spoke last week, this is not something to get into a Bible fight over, it’s for encouragement
1) to seize, carry off by force
2) to seize on, claim for one’s self eagerly
3) to snatch out or away
This is the word that we get the word Rapture from, and as you can see it is saying there is going to be a very definite day and time when Jesus seizes believers, carry’s them off for himself, and I like that it says, eagerly. He will bring us to himself eagerly. How many know that’s good news?
So, so far this Scripture does not say explicitly the timing – so what I recommend doing, as we will continue to dig into this, is make a note of this Scripture. It is a large piece of the puzzle, but it is not the whole puzzle. Amen? If we are detectives, trying to figure out the whole pre-trib, post-trib mystery, than this is a major clue, but we can’t really make an objective decision yet until we have all the clues, right?
OK, let’s look at the other major scripture for the rapture. Turn if you would to 1st Corinthians 15:51 to 15:54
Scripture: 1st Corinthians 15:51-15:54
Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
So, Paul is writing to the church at Corinth. The church at Corinth had some issues. Throughout this whole epistle, Paul is addressing issues, and in this particular portion he is addressing an issue where people were saying there was no Resurrection of the dead. That you had Christ in this life but when you died, that was it. You’re basically worm food. Interesting heresy. So Paul is combating it by teaching them about the Resurrection of the body. And he gives some amazing details about it, but then towards the end, blows them away, and what he does, and the reason why it’s important is it reinforces what we just read in 1st Thessalonians, but it also gives more detail as well
1. Not all Christians will die. There will be some who will be alive
2. It’s going to happen instantaneously. In the twinkling of an eye. I don’t pretend to know exactly how fast that it, but it is going to be very fast.
3. It will happen at the last trumpet (this maps nicely to 1st Thessalonians 4)
4. The dead will be raised imperishable (also works with the above)
5. At that moment we go from mortal beings to immortal. We go from perishable to imperishable.
6. Again, notice it is good and encouraging news. Death is swallowed up in victory
So, these are two very nice, very big pieces of the puzzle that will help us in our pursuit, but again, they do not dogmatically say pre, mid, or post tribulation. Amen?
So, the answer to the question of the week, Do I have to have a position on the timing of the Rapture? The answer is, not until you’re ready. As a matter of fact, I would say you are missing out on the joy of exploring the Bible if you jump to the first conclusion that presents itself. Especially when you know there are a lot of people who know and love Jesus who do not 100% agree on it. Amen?
I say take your time and dig into all that the Bible says about it, and when you feel like you have a good enough handle on it, then go with that. But then we are to have grace and humility to realize that we are human and there is room, in this particular doctrine, for difference of opinion. Amen?
Good stuff! Well, do you think we should knock out some more of this book?
So, we had made it through ½ of chapter 4 last time. If you remember we were looking at King Nebuchadnezzar’s 2nd dream. Things were going well for him. He was at ease and prospering but then he had a disturbing dream. God gets a hold of this tyrant through a dream. He calls for his advisers – his magicians, his enchanters, his astrologers, and nobody can help him. And then Daniel comes in. He calls Daniel Belteshazzar, and he is happy because he trusts Daniel. Daniel is a trusted adviser, and as much as could be possible, he considers Daniel a friend. We see they both care about each other. I think King Nebuchadnezzar knew that Daniel had his best at heart, so he tells him his dream expectantly.
And the dream is all about this huge tree that provided shade, food, protection for the whole earth. But then, in his dream, he sees an angel come down from heaven, and the angel gives a decree. It’s that the tree is to be cut down and left a stump. But then we see the tree is a person. The angel says that this tree that represents a man is going to go mad for 7 years. He will have the mind of a beast. He will be running around like a wild animal. And this is going to go on so that the living may know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men. Remember the theme to Daniel. God is in control!
Nebuchadnezzar tells Daniel all this and God gives Daniel the interpretation immediately. Nebuchadnezzar can read Daniel’s face. Daniel doesn’t look so good. The Bible says that he was dismayed for a while and his thoughts alarmed him. The king, seeing all this on his face encourages him to go ahead and tell him the dream.
Daniel’s response showed his affection for the King. One thing we didn’t discuss yet about the book of Daniel is that it’s not in chronological order – and as you’re reading this you might think it happened right after the fiery furnace. But this was actually quite some time later. Bible scholars say this is actually about 35 years after the events in chapter 1. So we can estimate that Daniel is around 50 years old here. Now I’m just speculating here, but I have no doubt that Daniel has been praying for this man probably every day of those 35 years and now he gets this very unfavorable dream and so he is dismayed and alarmed and his words bear that out. He says “My lord, may the dream be for those who hate you and its interpretation for your enemies!” Let’s pick it up right there. We’ll look at the interpretation and then close for the night. Then next week we’ll finish the chapter. We’ve had a great time looking at all the prophecy stuff, but I really don’t want to blow by this chapter, because it has several key lessons for us. So, picking up in verse 20 and going to verse 27
20 The tree you saw, which grew and became strong, so that its top reached to heaven, and it was visible to the end of the whole earth, 21 whose leaves were beautiful and its fruit abundant, and in which was food for all, under which beasts of the field found shade, and in whose branches the birds of the heavens lived—22 it is you, O king, who have grown and become strong. Your greatness has grown and reaches to heaven, and your dominion to the ends of the earth. 23 And because the king saw a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven and saying, ‘Chop down the tree and destroy it, but leave the stump of its roots in the earth, bound with a band of iron and bronze, in the tender grass of the field, and let him be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts of the field, till seven periods of time pass over him,’ 24 this is the interpretation, O king: It is a decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king, 25 that you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. You shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and you shall be wet with the dew of heaven, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will. 26 And as it was commanded to leave the stump of the roots of the tree, your kingdom shall be confirmed for you from the time that you know that Heaven rules. 27 Therefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to you: break off your sins by practicing righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the oppressed, that there may perhaps be a lengthening of your prosperity.”