R/Dean Daniel Lesson 52
Ordination Comments; The Maccabean Revolt – Daniel 11:34-35
I've given some thought to ordination over the years because I've been influenced by my study of Church history. I was particularly impressed when I was a student at Dallas Seminary as I was studying Church history realizing that back in the 1700s and 1800s the men that were going out as missionaries on horseback, the iterant Methodists, back in those days of course the Methodist preachers had not become liberals like they are today where they don't believe a whole lot about the inerrancy of the Bible, and various other denominational groups who have also come to 19th century Protestant liberal thought, back in those days all the denominations, the Methodists, the Presbyterians, the Episcopals and Baptists were all grounded in a view of the Scripture where they believed in the infallibility of God's Word and because they believed that the Word of God was infallible they believed it was necessary to understand it in the original languages. So these men were trained in Greek and Hebrew. What's even more interesting is if you got back into the 17th century, into the 1600s up in this country where you had the influence of Puritanism coming out of Massachusetts, and most of you should know this, if you don't there must be no history taught up here, but most of the major universities up here, like Harvard, Yale and many of the others were founded for the purpose of training pastors for the gospel ministry and it was only as time went by, and this happens with every institution, that they succumbed to ideas that are non-Biblical and eventually they deteriorate and fall away from the truth into apostasy, but there was that emphasis.
Too often Hollywood sort of shapes our view of these country evangelists but the men who actually went forward with the migration of people in this country and the westward expansion were men who had their Greek and Hebrew Bibles in their saddle bags and they were men who could stand in the pulpit with their Greek and Hebrew text out in front of them and teach from the original languages. And they were men who, in many cases if you go back into impact of Puritanism, they taught everybody Greek. If you went to grade school you learned Greek because they wanted everyone to be able to study the original languages and read the Bible in the original languages and frequently men like Jonathan Edwards, who was probably one of the foremost pastors in the Colonial period, he knew more about Greek and Hebrew when he started college, I'm not talking about seminary which is a post-graduate experience, but when he started college he knew more about Greek and Hebrew than most four year seminary graduates know today. So he built on that and that was the emphasis in education and there was high standard. When I was a young pastor and I pastored down in Lamar, Texas, there was an older pastor in that church who had pastored that church for 40 years, from 1933 to 1973 and when he was ordained in 1932 he had gone to three years of Moody Bible Institute and four years at the Austin Presbyterian Seminary which in those days was a southern Presbyterian school and was still solid theologically, had not succumbed to liberalism yet, and when he was ordained he told me he had to pass written exams in Greek and Hebrew along with oral examinations to make sure he understood theology and understood the Bible. That is something that is so often lacking.
One of the things I appreciate about the standard that was upheld at Berachah was because they treat ordination as a solemn and significant occasion. And it comprised of a man being sent a questionnaire that has 80 questions, very similar, in fact I think the questionnaire that this church used when they were looking for pastors is kind of the scaled down version, I think that questionnaire only had 30 or 40 questions but it's basically the same structure and most of the candidates took about 4o to 50 pages of typewritten answers to their questions. And they have to submit that, that's evaluated by the deacons, it's evaluated by a group of pastoral consultants who are brought in as the ordination council, evaluated by Pastor Thieme and his son, Bobby who was ordained there back in the 80s and is also a seminary graduate from Western Conservative Baptist Theological Seminary, so all that's evaluated and once they pass the written part then they're invited to come to Houston for the ordination and there is about a 2½-3 hour oral examination where they sit up in front of the congregation and the public is invited to come in and listen and the pastors, the ordination council asks them questions and they have to be able to answer, they can't have any notes, they don't even have their Bible with them, they're just grilled on what they know. The purpose isn't to embarrass them or show what they don't know, it's to show what they do know and there's always a few of them that have a few blank looks, and it always happens, you'll see one guy who knows cold what the answer to the question is and they'll look at you with this blank look like they never heard that before. That always happens, but the purpose is to give them an opportunity to explain these things in public before an audience to demonstrate that they have a communication gift.
I've always felt if…when I ordain, I have had one ordination as a pastor in my career and I made sure that my standards are that I will not ordain somebody unless they've had two years of Greek, two years Hebrew, completed three years of seminary and after some experience I think would add one summer or whatever length of time, of a pastoral internship, so that they have that experience. But what we have to do is remember that the standard should be high. What's happened in our culture is we've drummed things down and somebody comes along and they have the gift of gab and they have a nice personality and they've spent a semester in Bible college or memorized a lot of doctrine and we think well, that's okay, we can ordain them. I think the standard needs to be kept high because of the nature of the pastoral ministry. We need to challenge young men to go to seminary, to make that a plan from the time they're in high school. I remember when I was in high school I began to think that there was a real possibility I had the gift of pastor-teacher and one of the reasons I majored in history and English when I was in college was because I knew that would prepare me in many ways for the pastoral ministry and for studied in seminary later on. I know others who went through universities where they offered classical Greek and they majored in classical Greek or other areas like that. If you wake up and you're 35 or 40 years old and you discover you have the gift of pastor-teacher often it's too late to really exercise that well because you've already got married, you have a responsibility there, you have 3 or 4 kids, you have a responsibility there, and although it may surprise a lot of people, I think the average age of the student at Dallas Seminary when I was there back in the 70s was probably close to 30 because many men would go out and work for a few years, I taught school for a couple of years before I went back to seminary, that adds some maturity to it but too often if you wait till you're in your 40s it's just too late, you've let that time go by. It's sad to see how many guys lose that, there's so much that is involved in learning and taking the languages and going through that process of everything. It's not that it can't be done. Too often make decisions, get involved in commitments and responsibilities after they're 25-30 years of age that make it almost impossible to ever go back. So we need to have that as an emphasis.
Those of you who are teaching in the prep school, as they get up into Jr. high and high school that ought to be something…you don't beat kids over the head with it but you mention every now and then, let them know that that's an option and those that have the gift of pastor-teacher will be responsive to that and that's how we train the next generation, that's how we carry that standard forward in teaching the Word is by training young men and giving them that challenge of dedicating their life to…we're all in fulltime Christian service, but dedicating their life to professional Christian work, and it involves a long amount of training in order to be able to go through all the academics and learn all the academics so that they can accurately teach the Word of God. It doesn't just happen overnight; it's not a three year program. Most pastors have what's called a Masters of Divinity.
Maybe I'll take a minute to talk about that because what's happened in the last few years is the dumming down of the pastorate because of what I would call degree deflation and what happens is we have carried into seminary education the fast-food-drive-through lane mentality of our culture so that people don't want to take the time to go through the hard work and commitment and discipline of getting a seminary education and you can't just run it through like you go up and order a fast food hamburger or fried chicken or something and there it is, and yet that's what happens. And people think that somehow they can make shortcuts, so seminaries have yielded to that pressure, sad to say. I remember Dallas Seminary for most of its career built its reputation on their flagship degree which was called a Master of Theology degree.
I was talking recently with the one man I've ordained over the years who is the academic Dean at the College of Biblical Studies in Houston now and he was telling me that he just took the school through its accreditation process so they could become a fully accredited school and offer a bachelor's degree, and he told me a ThM degree almost carries more weight with an accrediting agency as a doctorate because most bachelor degrees comprise about 120-130 hours of school of school work. Most master's degrees involve 30 hours of classroom work plus 6 hours for a master's thesis or project. A Master of Divinity is a three year seminary program that usually involves 70-80 hours of graduate work plus a master's thesis or project. A Master of Theology involves 130 hours; I have more hours in my master's degree in theology than I had in my undergraduate degree, plus a thesis. You go through many seminaries and you have a Master of Divinity and that's a 70-80 hour degree, then they'll get a Doctorate of Ministries which is a 30 hour degree and you add that together at the most you have 110 hours. You get a ThM from Dallas seminary or from any other school and it's usually 120-130 hours so you've got more graduate hours in that Master of Theology than you do in what most pastors think of as a doctoral degree. That's just what a quality program that is.
And yet Dallas introduced, initially it was a good idea, it was a lower level Master of Arts degree, that they introduced back in the mid 70s because there were a lot of lay people who wanted some Biblical training, they were perhaps involved in church leadership, or they wanted to go out on the mission field at some level but they didn't want to get that ThM degree, whatever their end goal, end usage position was it did not demand a full ThM study program. Of course you know what happened, by the mid 80s, because people didn't want to do all the hard work involved in a ThM program, taking 3 years of Greek and 2 years of Hebrew and all the other study that was involved you had more and more people going to Dallas and getting that 2 year Master of Arts degree and then they would go out and some church would hire them as a pastor because the church didn't understand what I've just taught you and that is that there's a difference between an MA degree with is 60 hours and a ThM degree which is 130 hours. There's a vast difference there, yet people thought well, it's a Masters from Dallas Seminary so it's all the same thing. No, it's not the same thing, there's a vast difference. So different degrees involve different amounts of work and different amounts of study and I think that we should always uphold a high standard challenging people to take the high standard. As believers we're to do all things for the glory of God. That means that everything we do ought to be done with excellence and no place should we have excellence more pronounced than in the local church. That doesn't mean that we're going to do things in a church of our size out in the cornfield of southeastern Connecticut, that we're going to do things in as qualitative a way as, let's say some urban church that has 2,000 people and a tremendous amount of skill and talent. But excellence just means you're doing it the best you can, you've got a level or professionalism, it doesn't have to be Broadway quality, it doesn't have to be First Class in comparison to somebody else but you're really going to try to do the best you can, always pushing yourself to a higher level, a higher standard and always trying to improve what you can do with whatever resources you have. That should be true for the pastoral ministry.
We had the oral exam and there were six men involved, three of whom are consistent tapers from Preston City Bible Church, and they did far better than the other three. They did really well, I was proud of our guys. They really came through, they showed a tremendous understanding of Scripture, of doctrine, and they were the most relaxed crowd there and so they did really well and we can be very proud of them and the excellent work that they did, and especially of Dan. We had about six or eight people from Preston City Bible Church there and we had a great time together and fun running around Houston in 100 degree weather. I loved introducing the northern contingent to Cajun food. We had a great time and we can be very proud of Dan, he did a fantastic job.
But we need to keep that standard high for the pastoral ministry; this isn't something that you just crank out somebody just because they can talk and just because they've gone to Bible college. That doesn't mean that a Bible college degree isn't good; you look at what the training is, you look at the Greek, because there are some Bible colleges, Bible institutes, undergraduate degrees in this country that…I know when I went through Dallas Seminary my first year I had three roommates who went to Dallas Bible College (which doesn't exist any more) but at that time all their faculty were Dallas Seminary graduates, both Masters and Doctorate degrees, and you look at the work they were doing, they were doing the same work we were doing at a Master's level in terms of the Bible because when you study the Bible you write a paper on the Bible it's basically the same thing. So there can be some excellent education at a Bachelor's level, but what you're looking for really is that those years of Greek, years of theology, and your ability to communicate orthodox theology, keeping that standard high, always having a gold standard for the pastoral ministry.
Turn to Daniel 11:32. Up to this point we had been studying the careers of the Seleucid dynasty, of the kings in the north. After the breakup of the Greek or Alexander's Empire, after that empire broke up, it broke up into four sections, the two empires that the Scriptures focus on are the Syrian Empire, the Seleucid Empire to the north, called "the king of the north," and the Egyptian empire to the south ruled by the Ptolemaic dynasty and that's referred to as "the king of the south." And Israel and Palestine, Judea is located in between those two empires and for the first period of time, from about 320 BC down to about 200 BC Judea is under the heel of the Ptolemies. And there were those in Judea that chafed at that control and they wanted to break away, and they, unfortunately when Antiochus III was invading down into Egypt they tried to throw their weight behind him and got in trouble as a result of that when one of the Ptolemies defeated Antiochus III and that never worked. They weren't paying attention to what Daniel had prophesied here in Daniel 11. But we concluded last time looking at the terrible destruction of Antiochus IV called Antiochus Epiphanes, as he desecrated the temple, desecrated the sanctuary, they put an idol to Zeus inside the sanctuary and they were offering pigs as sacrifices on the altar; women were forbidden under penalty of death to circumcise their sons, they were forbidden to practice the Sabbath, they were forbidden to practice the dietary laws and as a result of that it was a horrible time and as always there were those who want to fight and there are those who just want to give up and assimilate; there's always the pacifist who would rather give up and not get involved in any kind of conflict, and these were the Hellenizers; they wanted to just let the Hellenistic influence, the Greek influence come in and it would have destroyed their distinctive Jewish heritage.
So it was at this time that God raised up a man by the name of Mattathias who was a priest, he lived in a small town just about 15 miles from Jerusalem, a town called Modein, and he was going to initiate a rebellion against Antiochus and we know of it as the Maccabean Revolt. This began in 166 BC and that is the beginning point of what is covered starting in Daniel 11:33. "And those who have insight among the people will give understanding to the many; yet they will fall by sword and by flame, by captivity and by plunder, for many days." What we see in verse 33-35 is a summary of the historical trends toward Israel from this time in history, from 166 BC all the way until the Second Coming of Christ. We see the end point called the terminus ad quem in verse 35.
Daniel 11:34, "Now when they fall they will be granted a little help, and many will join with them in hypocrisy.  And some of those who have insight will fall, in order to refine, purge, and make them pure, until the end of time because it still to come at the appointed time." Now that phrase "end time" is an eschatologically significant statement. It refers to the end time when the Messiah would come and bring in the kingdom. Now from their vantage point they don't see the two advents of Christ, they're looking at the fact that Messiah will come, they're not distinguishing between a First Advent coming, when Jesus will come to suffer on the cross and a second coming where He will offer the crown, because they wouldn't perceive it, it wasn't prophesied in the Old Testament, that Israel would reject Jesus as Messiah. And so this is just looking at it, sort of telescope down and summarize and in these three verse we get a synopsis of the historical trends that Israel will face, the struggle they will face down through what we call the inter testamental period but it will also continue through the present Church Age and on into that final seven week period known as Daniel's seventieth week or the time of Jacob's wrath. So this covers an entire period and it has primary application in this Maccabean period but it has secondary application in terms of the whole history of Israel down to the Second Coming.
Israel is caught between a rock and a hard place, so to speak, between the Ptolemies in the south and the Seleucids in the north, and not only that but there are problems internally because of power politics and playing off one group of people against another group of people in who's going to get the high priesthood, who's going to be the power broker, and once the Seleucids took over they were appointing certain men to be high priests because they could raise up more money so they could pay off the debt that Antiochus had to pay to the Romans. So this is a time of a tremendous amount of internal disruption in Israel; you have a pro-Syrian faction, you have a pro-Egyptian faction, you have those who are prone to Hellenize and compromise and do away with their Jewish heritage and then you have those who want to take a strong stand to maintain their distinctiveness. Well, Mattathias, the priest in Modein, was of that type; he was extremely conservative and wanted to take a stand against the Hellenistic influence, he saw it as a threat to Judaism.
In 166 Antiochus sent one of his generals to Modein in order to force Mattathias to offer a sacrifice to the pagan gods. He completely and absolutely refused to do so and one of the Jews in the village came forward to comply and so Mattathias not only killed the Jew, he then turned around and killed this Syrian general that had been sent to force him to comply. He then turned to the townspeople and said you can either follow me in a revolt or you can run the other way and most of the town's people followed him in a revolt and they took to the hills, and for the next couple of years they waged war against the Syrians. They lived in the hill country of Judah, they lived in the caves just as David had many years earlier and they would continuously go through Judea raiding villages, tearing down the pagan altars that the Syrians had erected, they would circumcise the children whose mothers had failed to circumcise them because of the threats from the law, and they were organizing the people for a widespread revolt against Antiochus.
It wasn't long after the revolt began in 166 that Mattathias died and he left the war in the hands of his third son. He had five sons and those five sons all played key roles in the leadership of his revolt. But he left the war in the hands of his third son, Judas, who was called Maccabeus because Maccabeus comes from a Hebrew root meaning "the hammer." He was a brilliant strategist and general and he defeated three of Syria's best generals at Emmaus, at the town of Emmaus, and then after that victory Lysius, who was the Syrian regent, he was the one Antiochus had put over the whole area of Judea, Lysius came out for a fight and Judas defeated him. He then went in and restored the worship at the temple, he cleansed the temple, this was three years after Antiochus had desecrated it, he restored the temple worship, cleansed the temple and they were going to light the candles for the dedication of the temple but they only had enough oil for one day. But miraculously, as the story goes, that oil continued to keep the candelabra in the temple lit for eight days and that is the basis for the Feast of Lights called Hanukah, and that is where that comes from, it is not an Old Testament Biblical feast but it is one that goes back to and commemorates the victory of Judas Maccabeus over Antiochus Epiphanes.
The conflict between the Jews and the Syrians continued and Judas continued to fight for full independence for Israel. In 160 he was killed at the battle of Elasa and the pro-Syrian forces seemed to have won. But the fifth son, remember Judas was the third son, the fifth son or the youngest son, Jonathan, continued to wage the war against Hellenism and he too was a brilliant tactician and general and he not only defeated the Syrian forces but he also seemed to have been a master diplomat because he was always able to play one of the Syrian generals against another one. In 164 Antiochus Epiphanes died and that left a vacuum in terms of who would reign or who would rule the empire, Demetrius I became the king but there was another man named Alexander Balus who claimed to be the son of Antiochus Epiphanes and in 150 he finally defeated Demetrius I and won the kingdom.
Well, Jonathan saw that so he put his weight behind Alexander Balus as he was fighting Demetrius; as a result of that, when Alexander won he confirmed Jonathan's position as high priest and as the governor over Judea. So now they have legitimacy and they begin to consolidate their power base in Judea, and given a measure of independence. I won't bore you with all the details because there's a tremendous amount of intrigue and back and forth over the next few years but finally by 142 and 143 Jonathan dies and his older brother, the second oldest of the five sons, Simon, now becomes the high priest and the governor of Judea. He then institutes a new period of rule. He defeats the Syrians and he enters into a peace treaty with Rome and that was in 142 BC and that begins what is known as the period of Hasmonean rule. So you have the period of the Maccabean Revolt from 166-142 and then in 142 you have the beginning of the Hasmonean rule. That is the year, 142, when Simon secures a tax exemption from Rome for the state of Israel and gets recognition for the state of Israel. And this period of time is a period of time when Israel is relatively free from foreign domination. But remember, this is still the times of the Gentiles and they're never completely free, even when they have an appearance of freedom and independence, it's still very tentative and they're still basically operating under the protection of some greater Gentile power.
Now Simon is assassinated at a banquet near Jericho along with two of his sons. Now when Simon institutes this period and is made governor and high priest for life the Jews make him high priest with the right of succession so that all of his descendants are now going to be the high priest. Well, his own son-in-law, who was named Ptolemy, not to be confused with the Ptolemies of Egypt, his own son-in-law assassinates him and two of his sons at Jericho. Of course he's obviously making a power play so that he can be recognized as a high priest. And then Ptolemy also sent some hit men to take out the third son, John Hyrcanus, but Hyrcanus was warned, he led a trap for the hit men and killed both of them. So John Hyrcanus now becomes the governor and the ruler and he is the one who begins to consolidate power in Judea and lays the basis for the Hasmonean dynasty.
The other thing that takes place during this period, this all takes place between the Old Testament and the New Testament, is that it is at this same time that you have two major factions begin to coalesce or consolidate within Judaism. One group is a more liberal group, they are more open to Hellenism, they are less concerned about theological orthodoxy, they are more liberal in their theology, they denied the reality of resurrection and these are the Sadducees. The other group are the Pharisees; now the Pharisees had their root in a group of fighters that were fighting against Hellenism and they called themselves the Hassidim, not the same group that are called the Hassidim or Hassidic Jews today but the modern Hassidic Jews got their name, Hassidim, on the basis of what these earlier Hassidim did, back during the Maccabean Revolt. Incidentally, Arnold Fruchtenbaum's great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great-grandfathers and uncles founded the Hassidic order of Jews, it started in Poland back in the middle of the 1700s. So he has an interesting pedigree and interesting family background.
But the Hassidim who are the extremely staunch conservative fundamentalist fighters against Hellenism and liberalism in this Maccabean period became known as the Pharisees, and that is going to play a major role in the New Testament, the conflict between the Sadducees and the Pharisees, and the Apostle Paul, who was a Pharisee, used that theological difference to get out of a scrape or two because he would say that he was coming to preach the God and the resurrection of the dead and as soon as he would say that the Sadducees, who didn't believe in the resurrection of the dead, would start arguing with the Pharisees about whether or not there is a resurrection and Paul would just kind of sit back and relax as he would play one side off against the other. So that's the background there.
John Hyrcanus was a master organizer, he was a brilliant general, but he was a bit tyrannical and he establishes his position very firmly in Israel. He is succeeded by his son, Aristobulus I, who is even more cruel than his father. For example, his mother was supposed to take over one sphere of the government but Aristobulus made a deal with the police and had his mother arrested and put in prison and starved her to death. So these are just wonderful people; don't get the idea that Israel during this time was in a position of spiritual ascendancy, they're still in spiritual apostasy and much of the reason that so much of this was happening to them was because of their apostasy.
Aristobulus was succeeded by his son, Alexander Jannaeus and he is also called Jonathan and he's the man who first built the fort down near the Dead Sea called Masada, which would be the famous last stand of the Jewish forces in 70 AD when Titus as a commander of the Roman 10th legion would come in and basically starve them out. This is the type of thing that was going on in Israel at this time and continued up through the New Testament period; various intrigues and fights and power brokering going back and forth and eventually Rome took over and then you have the rise of Herod the Great who wasn't Jewish, he was an Edomite and once again you have a time of tremendous instability and it called for tremendous wisdom to know how to live in a nation when there is no political stability. And remember, if there's no political stability there's no financial stability and if you don't have financial stability then everything else just seems to be in a state of flux and you can't go anywhere in a nation if you don't have financial stability, you are just basically treading water if not going backward.
This is the purpose for the statement in Daniel 11:33 which begins, "And those who have insight among the people," this is a technical term in the Hebrew, it's the Hebrew word Maschali, from the root maschil, now you'll notice that whenever you look at a number of Psalms they begin with this word, as it's transliterated into English, a Maschil, and this comes from a root word in Hebrew, sakal which means wisdom or understanding. It's a basic root concept. And when you look at the word as it's found here, it's a hiphil participle, that's a causative stem and it involves, not only those who have insight but those who cause insight among the people so some suggest that it has the idea of those who are teachers and communicators of doctrine. It most likely refers to those who are already skilled in wisdom and understanding from divine viewpoint. These are the Old Testament saints who have reached spiritual maturity and have the ability, therefore, to communicate to other believers how to live and handle the problems, the adversities, the difficulties of living in a nation that is continuously in flux, continuously being overrun by different military powers where, in their terms, you could say it's not much different from today where there is continuous terrorism, continuous financial instability, Israel has almost triple digit inflation, when you have situations like that it's very difficult for a people to establish themselves and grow. And what's happened in modern Israel is just a tremendous testimony to the industriousness and the determination of the Jews.
So the reference here, "those who have insight among the people" or "those who cause insight among the people" is a reference to mature believers who have come to understand the stress busters and the spiritual skills. And there were eight of them in the Old Testament, they don't have occupation with Christ or the filling of the Spirit and these were mature believers who came to understand the stress busters and were using them to face the incredible national catastrophes which Israel was facing between this time and its [can't understand word] prophesied that it will be there until the Messiah comes. And they were able to teach others how to think and how to act under adversity. Remember, as believers we can't solve problems the way unbelievers solve problems and especially in the Church Age when we have this unique spiritual life that God has given us with the indwelling of God the Holy Spirit and the filling of the Holy Spirit, we have a completed canon of Scripture and all of the promises that are given in Scripture, all of the spiritual assets that God has bequeathed to the Church Age believer and everything that we have by virtue of our position in Christ, we have to take a stand for excellence in the spiritual life and solve the problems and face the adversities and the threats of terrorism in a way that is different from everyone else. We should not complain about problems that we run into, for example, the traveling, you run into a lot of security problems that can be extremely aggravating when you travel. There are other things that we are going to face as a people as this war goes on that is inconvenient for us and aggravating for us and as believers we need to make sure that we are handling these aggravations and these adversities by using the problem solving devices, where we can have a relaxed mental attitude and have joy and peace despite the things that are going on around us.
Daniel 11:33, the Lord says those are the people "who have insight," "those who cause insight among the people will give understanding to the many," these mature believers will instruct the others as to how handle the adversity, "yet they will fall by the sword and by flame, by captivity and by plunder, for many days." In other words, there will be persecution even among those who have insight. Somewhere along the line, I find out that Christians get the idea that if you reach spiritual maturity, or if you have been faithful in your life that somehow God is going to preserve you from certain consequences, and that's not what the Bible says. The Bible says that they're going to go through this horrible adversity, some of them will die, some will be martyred, some will be killed by the sword, some will be killed by flame, they will be burned to death and this happened to some of the Jews as a result of the vengeance of the Syrians. They would gather them into a building and set fire to the building or they would just come into a village and kill everyone. Others were captured and kidnapped, taken back to Syria. Others had all of their life possessions stolen from them and this happened to the mature believers as well as to others.
Just because we're mature believers doesn't mean we're immune from the disasters that occur around us. During times of national disaster, during times of warfare there are believers who are going to be killed as a result of terrorist attacks; there are going to be believers who, as a result of collateral damage, for example the stock market has taken a nose dive as a result of a number of factors but not the least of which is the uncertainty of the time, not the least of which is what happened on 9-11 but believers aren't going to be immune to losing their life savings; believers are not going to be immune if we go into some sort of major economic disaster or depression. Believers are not going to be immune from hunger; believers are not going to be immune from joblessness; believers are not going to be immune from all of these adversities that can take place but they can handle them with poise and with happiness and with joy because they are using the problem solving devices and applying these doctrinal principles to the problems of life.
This kind of wisdom that this passage talks about is the kind of wisdom that was exemplified 150 years later when Mary and Joseph went to Egypt. That was part of wisdom; sometimes it's wise to stay in one place, sometimes it's wisdom to flee. Discretion is the better part of valor, someone said, and that's true sometimes. Of course, Joseph and Mary were warned by an angel but they left because of Herod and because of his antagonism to the birth of the Messiah.
That's all part of this concept of having insight and understanding and knowing how to apply doctrine. This is the same kind of principle that the Lord refers to in Matthew 10:16. He's talking generally to his disciples and there is a hint of a prophecy of what would take place in their later lives. He says, "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves," that's believers living in the cosmic system where we have a bull's-eye painted on us for Satan, "I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, therefore be shrewd as serpents, and innocent as doves." In order to be shrewd as serpents that means we have to study the culture around us; we have to study its weaknesses, we have to learn to be good tacticians when it comes to understanding our culture. We have to know its strengths, its weaknesses, we have to understand its subtleties, we have to see where arrogance is lurking, where human viewpoint is lurking and the human viewpoint is wrapped in a cloak that makes it look awfully close to divine viewpoint but it's not. We have to be "shrewd as serpents," we have to be very cagey in the way we do things at time, not deceptive but we have to be very thoughtful, we have to think about why we do what we do and how we do what we do and the timing of what we do. And all of that comes just from spiritual maturity and understanding doctrine. So "shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves" means we don't get involved in unethical…[tape turns]
…end justifies the means type of thinking, which is what one of the most egregious examples of this was an early or late 80's or early 90's movement called operation rescue which was advocating bombing abortion clinics and some of these other people who have shot abortion doctors, the end never justifies the means. You never commit an evil, wrong or criminal act in order to achieve any goal. So we have to be "shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves," and Jesus went on to say in Matthew 10:17, "But beware of men; for they will deliver you up to the courts, and scourge you in their synagogues," even the disciples, even when you do everything right as a believer, that doesn't protect you from disaster. What protects you in disaster is the Word of God. Matthew 10:18, "and you shall even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles.  But when they deliver you up, do not become anxious about how or what you will speak; for it shall be given you in that hour what you are to speak." So Jesus warns of the need for that same kind of wisdom. When we live in the hostility of the kingdom of man we need to be very careful about what we do, how we do what we do, in order to maintain our testimony and in order to apply the Word of God and Bible doctrine in terms of wisdom.
Daniel 11:34 says, "Now when they fall," the "they" here is those who are wise, "when they fall they will be granted a little help," they would not always succeed. In terms of the interpretation related to the historical situation, there were times for example, when Judas Maccabeus died there was a sense of failure, that they were going to lose, and then Jonathan came along and was able to give them a victory, so "when they fall," there will be times when we stumble, there will be times when leaders stumble or are caused to stumble, there seems to be a temporary defeat, "but they will be granted a little help," God would continue to work in Israel, He would not desert Israel, and then they are warned, "and many will join with them in hypocrisy," literally this means many will join with them in intrigue. There would be those who would come along and ally themselves with the Maccabeans and with other leaders over the years who would actually be traitors and who would be insincere in their desire to help believers and would fall away and not hang in there when things were tough. So there is a warning not to trust everyone, not to just be naïvely trusting of anyone who says they're a Christian, anyone who just because they go to church a lot, just because they read their Bible, that's not the issue. The issue is how sound are you in terms of your doctrine, in terms of your theology and in terms of your application of the Word of God.
In Daniel 11:35 we read, "And some of those who have insight will fall, in order to refine, purge, and make them pure," "some of those who have insight will fall," that is those who are mature believers they will fall, that here has the idea they will die, they will be killed in the process, "in order to refine, purge and make them pure," the word for refine is the Hebrew word tsarap, and that refers to something that was melted, it's used in the process of melting or refining metal, to put it under intense pressure and burning and heat in order to refine it. The second word purge is the Hebrew word barar, and that is used here in the piel or the intensive stem meaning to separate out impurities, or to remove impurities. And that's the purpose of testing in the believer's life, is to get us to focus on our sin nature and how we're using the sin nature to handle problems and to not use the sin nature to handle problems, not use our own energy, our own efforts, but to trust in the Lord. So that's the idea of purging.
Then third, to "make pure" is really the Hebrew word laban, which means to make white and it has that idea…it's not the same idea of consecration, it's not the same idea of ceremonial cleansing, like we have in the Greek, katharizo, but it has a similar connotation, in order to purify, in order to purge out the sin in the life. So this reveals the divine purpose for testing both in the Old Testament and New Testament, is to get us to apply doctrine rather than solving problems on our own efforts.
Now deliverance didn't come at that time, we're told in this verse we're told that this would go on "until the end time," until the Messiah comes. Well, the Messiah hasn't come in victory yet so this is still the process and it's still true in the life of believers today, that there is this continual purging and suffering. In America we don't realize, because we've had such blessing in the 20th century and on into the 21st century, that the normal situation in human history is suffering and misery and hardship, and the normal situation for the believer throughout most of Church history is that of persecution, that of ostracism, that of difficulty. We sit back and if we went through one tenth of the rejection of a believer living in a Roman Catholic country, a Protestant believer living in a Roman Catholic country during the Reformation, most of you would probably recant your faith. We just don't understand what they went through, the torture that they went through, they would be thrown in jail and starved and they would live in a rat infested cell where there was no light coming in and this would go for year after year after year. Then they'd be taken out and burned at the stake and they would have their children taken from them and they would lose everything they had, and this kind of suffering has been the normal pattern throughout much of Church history and yet in America we rarely have ever faced that kind of suffering and sometimes we look around at someone and we see them going through years of hardship, years of difficulty, and obviously the Lord is teaching them some things.
Sometimes we have the tendency to ask why God doesn't bring this to an end, give them some relief, why doesn't he come in and rescue them and we forget that that level of suffering is more the norm than the exception and when we're not going through that, that is the exception. So the Lord warns the Jews about this ongoing persecution. Jesus does the same thing again; He repeats it and reiterates this same type of warning in Luke 21:20-21 where He says, "But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is at hand.  Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains and let those who are in the midst of the city depart, and let not those who are in the country enter the city." This is a reference to what would happen in 70 AD when Titus and the 10th legions attacked and defeated the Jews and they went out under the fifth cycle of discipline. That revolt began actually in 66 AD with the first Jewish revolt and there was a Sabbath day when spontaneous riots broke out in all the Jewish cities, all up and down, all throughout Judea. No one knows exactly why they started, some suspect it was a Hellenistic plot, but whatever it was there was a revolt against Rome and the Romans had to quell this revolt.
And so they sent in an army and the army surrounded Jerusalem, this was early, this was in 66 AD, and at that time there was a group of believing Jews still in Jerusalem. Remember there was a solid church in existence in Jerusalem and it was led, by this time by Cleopas. Cleopas is mentioned in Luke's Gospel as one of the men who was on the road with Jesus on the way to Emmaus; he was a cousin of Jesus and a cousin of Jesus' half-brother James. And he was a leader of the church and under his leadership, when he saw this happening he gathered all the believers and it was sort of a miraculous event, the Roman general was distracted by another riot and he broke the siege and so Cleopas took all the believing Jews out of Jerusalem and they left. And then the Roman army came back and ultimately decimated the city but the believers understood Jesus' prophecy and they left and were protected.
That brings us down to verse 36; verse 36 introduces to a new king, this is not going to be Antiochus any more, it's a new king, and this is the antichrist. We will begin next time with a look at 2 Thessalonians 2, how that relates to the future rule of the antichrist, plus a number of other important issues related to understanding this passage.