RDean/Daniel Lesson 49
Hope in Crisis; Psalm 130 – Daniel 11:3-4
Today is a tragic day; there was a tragic court ruling in a federal appeals in San Francisco today which just demonstrates once again the evil agenda of the liberal left. The federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled that the Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional because of the phrase, "under God." Frankly this really reveals a lack of education on the part of the judge because in his ruling he compared the term to a more definite term, such as "Jesus" or a more specific named deity, when in fact the English word "God" is simply a generic term that can refer to any deity including just some abstract concept of God. Listen to what he said:
"So the profession that we are a nation" (quote) "'under God,' was identical for establishment clause purposes," that's the First Amendment, "to a profession that we are a nation under Jesus," see how he quotes "under God" with under a specific deity, "under Jesus, a nation under Vishnu, a nation Zeus, or a nation under no God, because none of these professions can be neutral with respect to religion. Judge Alfred T. Goodwin wrote." Now the problem with that is of course that would also make the Declaration of Independence unconstitutional because it recognizes that our inalienable rights come from a Creator. And once you take away an understanding of the existence of God and the existence of an absolute deity from whom we receive our rights, from who we receive our life and breath, you end up basically destroying our freedom.
It's remarkable that in no other culture in history has anyone experienced the level of freedoms that we have in the United States and that is because this nation was founded upon principles that came from the Scripture, because it was founded within the construct of Judeo-Christian ethics and Judeo-Christian values. That doesn't mean it was a Christian nation but that means that the thinkers thought within that framework and at no other time in history has there ever been a nation or an empire or a civilization that has the kind of freedoms that we have. You can't get there if you start from any other point other than Christianity.
Only Christianity has a basis for giving people the freedom of volition to reject it. You do not have those kinds of freedom in any Islamic country, you don't have those kinds of freedoms in Hindu countries or Buddhist countries; you only have those kinds of freedoms which developed in the culture of western Europe and the more that culture was influenced by Biblical truth the more the nation so impacted developed concepts of freedom. That's a historical fact, but the problem is today we have judges, everyone from judges sitting on federal benches to kindergarteners in elementary school are ignorant of history. And once you are ignorant of history, as Hegel pointed out, you are doomed to repeat it.
Now a second thing happened today, somebody sent me an e-mail, which I want to read because it demonstrates a tremendous level of courage by someone who is living in a situation of extreme adversity. You'll also see as I read through it that it relates to the subject that we're studying in Daniel 11. The writer is not a believer, the writer is not a Christian; the writer demonstrates a marked level of courage in the face of adversity and if an unbeliever can have this level of courage in the face of adversity then how much more should a believer who understands that God is in control and that God controls history.
This is from a woman in Israel. She says:
"I am not the least afraid to go any place, by bus or to a mall. I didn't change or stop doing anything I used to do before this mess began. People tend to forget that twice the casualties from terror get killed on the roads. More people still die from heart attacks, cancer and other things; they just don't show them on the TV news. Don't misunderstand me, there is a war going on and it's not pleasant, but let's face it, we have never been better. It's only the TV and media that make people think it's the end of the world coming. Only 60 years ago they were leading Jews to their death like sheep to the slaughter; no country, no army. Fifty-five years ago seven Arab countries declared war on the small Jewish state only a few hours old. We were then 650,000 Jews against the rest of the Arab world, no IDF, no mighty air force, just tough people with nowhere to go. Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Libya, Saudi Arabia attacked all at once. The country the U.N. gave us was 65% desert; the country started from scratch. Thirty-five years ago we fought the three strongest armies in the Middle East and wiped them out in six days. We fought against different coalitions of Arab countries with modern armies and masses of Russian Soviet weapons and still won. We have today a country, and an army, and a strong air force and a high tech economy exporting millions; Intel, Microsoft, IBM developed their stuff here. Our doctors win world prizes for medical developments. We made the desert flourish selling oranges and vegetables to the world. Israel sent its own satellite into space. We proudly sit with the U.S. 250,000,000 people, Russia 200,000,000, China 1.1 billion people, the Europeans, France, England, Germany 350,000,000, as the only countries in the world to shoot something into space. Israel is today in the war of nuclear power family with the U.S., Russia, China, India, France and England. We don't admit but everyone knows it. [Can't understand word] only 60 years ago we were left shameful with no hope to our death. We crawled out of the burning ashes of Europe; we won our wars here with less than nothing in our hands. We built an empire out of nothing. Who the heck is Mr. Arafat to make me scared or terrified; he made me laugh. Passover was last month; let's not forget what the story is all about. We overcame Pharaoh, we overcame the Greeks, the Romans, the Inquisition in Spain, we overcame the [can't understand word, sounds like: Parguams] in Russia; we overcame Hitler, the Germans, the holocaust; we overcame seven other Arab countries at once. We over came Saddam. Take it easy folks, we will overcome these too. No matter what part of human history you try to think of, for us, the Jewish people, our situation has never been better. So let's lift our heads high and remember, any nation or culture that tried to mess with around with us was destroyed to the ground while we kept going; Egypt, anyone know where their Empire disappeared to? The Greeks, Alexander of Macedonia, the Romans; anyone today speak Latin? The Third Reich, anyone heard any news about it lately. And look at us, the nation from the Bible, from slavery in Egypt we are still here speaking the same language. Right here, right now, the Arabs don't know it yet, but they will learn there is one God. As long as we keep our identity we are eternal. So far from worrying, crying or being scared, things are going fine here, they surely can go better but still, don't fall for the media junk, they won't tell you that there are festivals going on, people keep on living, going out, seeing friends. Yes, our morale is low, so what? It's only because we root for our dead while they enjoy the blood and this is the same reason why we will win after all. You can forward this e-mail, if you choose, to the whole of the Jewish community in the United States and the world. They are part of our strength and it might help some of them to keep their head up high. Tell them there is nothing to worry about; tell them to think big and see the whole picture. See you next year in Jerusalem."
The only thing missing from her e-mail is the fact that she doesn't recognize that the reason there is still an Israel is because of the promises God made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, in the Old Testament, that God planned and had a purpose for calling out that particular nation, that special nation and that that history is part of our study in Daniel 11. In the 6th century BC God outlined in specificity what his plan for Israel would be in the Old Testament. Most of the events that we are studying in Daniel 11 have already come to pass; they came to pass just as God said they would come to pass in the prophecy of Daniel 11. God is the God who controls history God is the God who is working out His plans and purposes in human history and those plans and purposes included a place for Israel because it was through Israel that God would send the Messiah, the Savior of the World who would die on the cross for our sins.
Liberals and those who reject the Bible continuously attack it, and as we studied, this chapter is one of the most attacked because it clearly shows that God has spoken in time, God has in detail forecast the future two to three hundred years in advance in incredible details. For us, fulfilled prophecy is a miracle. It's a miracle because we can't see or witness, we can't know or talk to anybody who saw or witnessed any of Jesus' miracles. Unfortunately so-called miracles in contemporary society are just that, they're so-called miracles, they're not documented in the way that the Biblical miracles documented at that time, neither are they on the same grand scale of miracles. But the miracle that we can see, that we can still witness, is the miracle of fulfilled prophecy because we can read the Scripture and see just how precisely God portrayed the future through Daniel and then we can look at 200 years later in time and see exactly how that prophecy was fulfilled and that gives and provides evidence for the veracity of Scripture.
We also saw in our introduction to this study that it was necessary for the preincarnate Son of God to give this revelation to Daniel because He was preparing the Jews for what would happen during the next 400 years, that just as today it would be a time of anti-Semitism. And anyone who is anti-Semitic, anyone who has ever blamed the Jews for anything, anyone who has ever attacked Jews is playing the devil's game because the devil wants to destroy Israel because Israel is God's people, God still has a plan and a future for Israel and Satan's strategy is that if he can destroy every Jew from the face of the earth then he thinks that he can defeat God. And it's sad to say that there are some churches and some institutions and some governments that are dead set against the nation Israel. And that is a subtle form of anti-Semitism today, it's not the kind of genocidal anti-Semitism of Adolph Hitler but it is more subtlety masked in an anti-Israel attitude today. We have studied time and again the atrocities and the horrors and the lies that the Palestinians put forth. They are not Philistines, they have no traditional right to the land, and they continuously put forth their vile propaganda that is nothing but lies. And continuously the world takes their side instead of the side of Israel.
All of that is a testimony to the veracity of Scripture. As this woman points out, time and time again people have sought to destroy Israel and yet they're still there, still in the land that God gave them, still speaking the language that they spoke 4,000 years ago; and if anything is a testimony to the reality of God and His plan in history, then the very existence of a Jew is a testimony to that plan. You can't find an Assyrian today; you can't find a Samarian today; you can't find a Chaldean today; you can't find a Mede today; you can't find a Philistine today, but you can still find Jews. They still survive and that is a great testimony to God's plan.
The purpose in providing a detailed revelation like this to Israel at that time in history was to give them hope. I covered that last time and I want to develop that idea a little more this evening. You can't survive in a crisis on emotion alone. That's why so many people in our emotion-oriented, self-absorbed, subjective culture are finding it possible to survive the threat of terrorism; only because they're on Prozac, Zoloft, only because they have some sort of medical crutch that enables them to handle a crisis. What about their parents and their grandparents who made it through World War II without the crutch of drugs. It's primarily because that generation had a character that was built because of the influence of the Word of God and the Bible that still impacted that society and it no longer has that impact today. I'm not talking about religion, I'm not talking about ritual, I'm talking about the truth of God's Word, not these other things.
That's what God was doing in Israel, He was giving them content, giving them information so that they would have real hope, substantive hope, they would have not just some hope, I hope or wish that things would be okay, not just some optimistic desire but a firm certainty. After all, that's what the word "hope" primarily means in the Scripture, is a confident expectation. The Bible talks about our salvation as a confident expectation, that is our hope; we look forward to the coming of the Lord, that's our blessed hope. We can know that more surely than you can know that you're going to make it home this evening. You can know that more surely than you can know anything else in life because God has spoken in His Word.
Today I sat down and I started thinking about hope and I did a search of various passages and I came across Psalm 130 and this provides a fantastic background for the kind of thinking that is engendered and that God wanted to engender in Israel at this time. We're not told who wrote it, there is not superscription in Psalm 130 as to the particular historical circumstances surrounding it. It could have taken place at any time in Israel's history but the implication is that it is related to a time of adversity, a time of difficulty, a time when the nation was faced with divine judgment and they were calling upon God for His forgiveness and it ends with a focus on God's hope, the hope that God provides the believer based primarily on salvation.
In the superscript it says, "A Son fog Ascents," that means that this became adopted into the ritual practice of the tabernacle or the temple in the Old Testament; the choir as they ascended the steps into the temple would sing this particular Psalm. It begins, Psalm 130:1, "Out of the depths I have cried to Thee, O LORD," now if you notice on the overhead, the term in your Bible "LORD" is in all capital letters; that means that it is a rendering of the sacred Tetragrammaton, the sacred four letters of the Hebrew alphabet for the designation of the personal name of God. You see, the Bible talks about a personal God, a God who has a personal name, it is Yahweh. This is not the generic God of the pledge of allegiance; it's not the generic creator of the Declaration of Independence, but this is Yahweh who entered into a personal covenant with the nation Israel on Mount Sinai.
It is the same God who entered into a personal covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; you see, it's not enough to believe in God, to believe in some sort of abstract idea of a deity, some abstract concept of a Creator. The God of the Bible is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The God of the Bible is the God who sent His Son, the eternal Second Person of the Trinity, One with God the Father in essence yet distinct in personality, sent His Son to the earth to die on the cross as the payment for sin, as the substitute for sin. So we don't just believe in a generic God, just some concept of an abstract deity because that deity has revealed Himself to us. So the God of the Bible is a personal God. He's an infinite God but He's also a personal God and as a personal God He communicates directly to mankind. He can have a relationship with mankind, and as a personal God He has communicated to man information about Himself and how to have a relationship with Him. He is a God of compassion, a God who is intimately concerned with the heartaches and difficulties of our life.
This passage begins, it is what is called a lament Psalm in the Old Testament; a lament Psalm is a plea or a cry for help or assistance when there is some crisis or adversity in life. People face many different crises in life. Some face crises of health; others face crises of finances and money. Others are going through difficult times in their marriage. Others face difficulty in romance and in their social life. Perhaps it's in your career; some folks are facing crises right now in terms of weather and weather related disaster such as the folks in Arizona and Colorado who are dealing with the tremendous fires that are burning through those states. Often when we face any of these we also have another crisis that goes along with them and that's the crisis of disappointment; we're disappointed in life, the way life has turned out, the disappointment from broken dreams and shattered hopes and unfulfilled expectations. And here the Psalmist expresses that common feeling that many of us sometimes face when we go through a crisis.
I want you to notice that the Scripture never minimizes those emotions; it never disparages them, there is no castigation of the writer of the Psalms for feeling like he is down in the dumps or down in the depths as he expresses it. The Bible, God always meets us where we are, not where we ought to be. While the Bible never glorifies human emotion, neither does it ignore the emotions that humans feel, because emotions are unavoidable. It's not that the emotions that are wrong, it's what you do with them that are wrong. It's how you let them affect the decision making process that's wrong. When we feel down in the dumps, when we feel overwhelmed and we feel discouraged and depressed, when we let that depression dictate the decisions we make, that's when it becomes sin. When we look at the depression, the discouragement, the emotions say I am not going to dictate my life, I'm going to make decisions based on the truth of the God's Word, that's when God is glorified. And we see the process in these lament Psalms as the psalmist starts with who he is in terms of his discouragement, being overwhelmed in whatever adversity he faced, and we see how he moves through the situation as he focuses on the absolute truth of God's Word.
He begins, "Out of the depths I have cried to Thee, O Yahweh." "Out of the depths" is a figure of speech used to describe the overwhelming nature of adversity. We might use an English idiom like down in the dumps or under the pile, overwhelmed by life, overwhelmed by disaster, disappointment, but its in the midst of this disappointment that the Psalmist is able to turn to the only real solution and that's God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God who is the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. He faces the reality of his adversity and he turns to God and he cries out in his strength, his passion in what he is saying here, he says, Psalm 130:2, "Lord, hear my voice!" You get a sense from this because of the qal imperative that is used here, it's an imperative of request, that he is in desperate straits, he feels like he's lost all hope because probably he has been pursuing every path he could think of to find meaning and happiness in life. We know that because that happens so frequently in the Old Testament with Israel, they were always trying to find meaning through the fertility worship of the various fertility cults or like most Americans trying to find meaning in life through success, through building a business, through relationship, through various details of life and when it all fails and comes crashing down, there's nothing in life, perhaps, that's more miserable, that makes your soul ache more than facing those crises.
And so he turns to God and he cries out, "Lord, hear my voice!" It's an imperative of request and here it's addressed, not to Yahweh again, notice the "Lord" is not upper case, it's lower case, he is crying out Adonai. Adonai is the Hebrew word that is more like our generic word "lord" which is a polite form of address. It's almost as if he's saying "sir." He has already addressed God as Yahweh so we know that he is a believer in right relationship to God and here, by using the word Adonai he is expressing his adoration of God and his respect for God. Furthermore, the Jews rarely ever pronounced the name Yahweh out of respect for God. Usually they…in fact in the Bible when they read the Scripture they have the pointing, the vowel points underneath the four consonants are the vowel points from the word Adonai to remind the reader that as they read out loud that instead of reading the name of God, Yahweh, they would see that in the text and instead they would substitute Adonai. Sometimes if they were talking about God in the third person they would just use the name, Shem.
So he says, "Lord, hear my voice!" He's crying, he says I plead with God, "Let Thine ears be attentive," he repeats that phrase in synonymous parallelism, "Let thine ears be attentive," he is using an anthropomorphism here because God doesn't actually have ears but he is ascribing to God human bodily characteristics so that we can understand what he is saying, so that we can understand something about God. Really he's crying out to him to listen to what he has to say, "To the voice of my supplications." He says "Let Thine ears be attentive" and this is the adjective of the Hebrew qashab which means to acquire knowledge, to learn to pay attention, to focus on something, to concentrate. It expresses the idea that many people do when they go through crisis, well Lord, where were you when all of these things happened, were you concerned about the Middle East or were you focusing on terrorism in the United States but somehow you forget me and my problem. Just wake up now and come back and pay attention to me; we feel that way sometimes. But what we have to do is deal with those emotions and those feelings with the absolutes of God's Word.
Psalm 130:3 he expresses a condition; he's focusing on the holiness of God. That's what underlies this passage if you look at the backdrop here, because he talks about sin. He says, "I Thou, LORD," once again addressing Him as Yahweh, "If Thou, LORD, shouldst mark iniquities," and here we have the Hebrew word shamar which means to keep, to observe, or to pay attention to. He says Lord, if You paid attention to our sins, if you paid attention to our iniquities, and iniquity is the word avon which is the breaking of a commandment, he says I you paid attention to every time we broke a commandment, no one could stand up before you, no one would have any hope, no one could come into your presence, no one could ever have a relationship with you. "LORD, if you paid attention to every sin that we commit, who could stand?" The psalmist recognizes the principle of Scripture and that is that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Every single human being is a sinner, everyone has violated the standard of God; there is no way that anybody can do anything to please God, to impress God, to somehow cause God to look at us.
That's the point of Scripture, that as sinners we are obnoxious to God. The most pleasing personality, the most wonderful person, the most altruistic, giving, charitable individual, it is obnoxious to God. We may think they're wonderful, we may elevate them to a high place but the Scripture says that all of our works of righteousness are as filthy rags. In the eyes of God all of our religious rituals are filthy rags because God never authorized any religious ritual for the Church Age outside of the simple Lord's Table done for the remembrance of what took place on the cross. You see, all of our works of righteousness, all of our best is nothing to God. That's the problem, man is arrogant and we think that somehow we can do some little something to gain God's attention and impress Him with who we are and what we've done. But the psalmist says Lord, if You paid attention to our sins, no one could stand, "who could stand?"
But in contrast he points out in Psalm 130:4, "But there is forgiveness," he said if you paid attention no one could stand but in contrast there is forgiveness, "with Thee, That Thou mayest be feared." We have to look at a couple of words here to understand the concept that he's talking about. Forgiveness is crucial because this is a concept that is clearly understood in modern culture; people think that you can forgive somebody without any payment of any kind of consequence. That's not what Scripture teaches. Scripture teaches God is able to forgive us because the penalty was paid. He doesn't just forgive us out of the goodness of His heart, because he's just a kind and benevolent God He looks at you and says well, I know you really didn't mean it and I know you had better intentions and I know you were sincere so I'm not going to hold it against you. That's not the way forgiveness is used in the Bible.
In fact the word for "forgiveness" both in the Old Testament and New Testament has to do with the payment of a price, the forgiveness of a debt. Both words, Old Testament and New Testament, are words that come out of economics, that come out of finances. If I loan you money and you owe me a debt, and then at the end of a year I say I'm going to end the debt, I'm going to cancel the debt, I'm going to forgive the debt, that means that when I tear that paper up then I can't come back ever again and say you owe me $5,000. That's what forgiveness means; it is based on something in Scripture and that's what we're going to discover in the passages we look at this evening. "There is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be feared." There is forgiveness, we're not stuck with our sins, God has a perfect plan so that He can remove those sins.
Let me say one more thing about verse 4, there is forgiveness; the word here in the Hebrew is the word celiychah, now this is a unique word in this passage because this word is only used with God as the subject; man cannot offer this kind of forgiveness, only God can. It's a forgiveness that is unique to God and the reason God can forgive sins is because the sins were paid for by Jesus Christ on the cross. See, we can't forgive the debt. If I loan you the $5,000 you can't do anything to abolish that debt; it has to be paid off. But what the Scripture says is you can't pay that debt off, we'll see that in just a minute. You can't pay the debt off and I'm the only one who can cancel it. And yet what happens in most religious systems that have developed in human history is the people are trying to pay the debt off themselves and people can't do that; mankind can't do anything to pay the debt of sin. Only God can forgive sins and the interesting thing here is that if you go to the New Testament and look at passages like Hebrews 9 it talks about the fact that in the Old Testament even the forgiveness offered by the priests and the Levites was ineffective.
Only God can forgive sins, no priest ever could forgive sins. Not even the Levitical priesthood authorized by God in the Bible could forgive sins. What they did was only a picture, only a temporary provision, only a foreshadowing of what can only happen through Jesus Christ. You see, the Bible teaches that there is only one God and only one Mediator between God and man, there's no authorization for a priesthood because a priesthood is ineffective; only one God and one mediator between God and man and that's the Man, the perfect Man, Jesus Christ. Scripture teaches with relation to forgiveness that no matter what you have done, no matter how bad it is, now matter how awful it is, no matter how discouraging it might be, no matter what you have done God is greater than you are. God is greater than anything you and I can do; God is greater than any sin we can commit and God is the only One who can solve the problem. And the point of using a verb like this here in verse 4 is to drive home the point that this is the basis for respect for God, for fear of the Lord is because of all that He has done for us. We're undeserving, we're obnoxious to God, He did it all. All we can do is simply accept it as a gift.
The psalmist goes on to say in Psalm 13:5, "I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait." Now there are several different words in Hebrew for the concept of "hope" and in fact if you look at a King James translation or the New King James Version you'll discover that instead of the word "wait" like we have here in the New American Standard you'll have the word "hope." This first word that's used in the first two lines is from the word qavah which means to wait, to look for, to hope. "I wait for the LORD," and it indicates that aspect that hope is something future, something that we have to wait for, something that we have to look forward to, it is something to anticipate. We wait for the Lord for deliverance, we anticipate it, we know it will come. Waiting involves the very essence of a person's being, your soul, what it takes to wait, to be patient, to wait for the Lord's timing. Isaiah 40:31 says that "Those who wait upon the LORD shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not faint."
Waiting, therefore, depends upon how much you know about God and His Word and how much doctrine is in your soul. You can't wait for the Lord if you don't know how the Lord works, if you don't know anything about God, if you don't know anything about doctrine. It's interesting, if you know anything about Church history and the history of Christianity, especially in this country, one of the things that is tragic today as opposed to years ago is that very few Christians could recite from memory 20 verses, and yet that is something that was emphasized years ago in Sunday Schools and Prep School and churches, churches would have contests for people to memorize Scripture, because you see, when we get into crises of life what matters is the doctrine in our soul and the Scriptures that we know, that we can recall those promises to our mind and that needs to be something that is a priority in all of our lives is to take the time to learn, to memorize Scripture so that we can use it. The psalmist said "Thy Word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against Thee." And yet very few Christians are doing anything about hiding God's Word into the mentality of their soul.
The psalmist can wait on the Lord because he knows what He says and what the Lord has revealed and that's the next clause, "And in His Word do I hope." It is in what God has revealed in the doctrine of His Word, the promises that God has revealed that we have hope and here it's a different word, it is yachal, which means to wait, to hope, to have a confident expectation, a certainty of what will take place, something more certain than anything else in life. Remember faith is…Scripture says "we walk by faith, and not by sight." When the Word of God is more real to you than what you see, what you feel, what you experience, that's when you're learning what faith is all about. Faith is not faith in faith, it's not just believing something because you want to believe it, there's always an object for faith and if that object for faith isn't something that is specifically stated in the Word of God it is a false object of faith and you're just propping yourself up on quicksand. Waiting involves knowing God's Word, knowing His promises and knowing that what God has promised will be realized and fulfilled eventually. In the meantime, the believer endures; he hangs in there because of the integrity and uprightness of his own soul developed from the Word of God that has power in transforming the individual believer's own character.
So the psalmist then can go on to say in Psalm 130:6, "My soul waits for the Lord," notice he's no longer self-absorbed. See, this is the biggest problem with people today, they're focused on their problems, poor me, this has happened, that's happening, this person rejects me, that person doesn't do what I want him to do, I don't have a job, my health isn't what it could be, why is it that everybody else seems healthy and I'm struggling with a health problem. Instead of focusing on our problems and being self-absorbed notice how he shifted. He starts off crying out of the depths, he's focused on the circumstances and not the solution but he quickly turns to the solution and he says "My soul waits for the Lord;" and then there's a comparison here, "more than the watchmen for the mourning; indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning." We miss the import of that not living in a culture where you live in a walled village and you had to have watchmen out to protect the city against any kind of bandits or any kind of problems but the night watchman would look forward in anticipation to the coming of morning so they could finally go to sleep.
Psalm 130:7, "O Israel, hope in the LORD," see this is the cry that relates it to our passage in Daniel 11, the hope, the confidence that Israel should have should be in the Lord. That's why God revealed the history of Daniel 11, so that they would have confidence in the Lord and when things got way out of control, when Antiochus Epiphanes is bringing his army down through the heart of Israel and killing Jews everywhere, when he is setting up the abomination of desolation in the temple, when all of these things are happening, when the economy falls apart…see, all of these things could happen here, if we have another terrorist attack it could make the great depression back in the 20s look like a time of prosperity. Americans don't know how to handle crises any more. Everybody is scared to death and you can't handle crisis if you're propped up by drugs; only if you're propped up by character and character only comes from the Word of God. And you can only have it if your starting point is faith alone in Christ alone.
Psalm 130:7 says, "O Israel, hope in the LORD," your confident expectation is in the Lord; that's the only place you can put it, you can't put it in morality, you can't put it in church, you can't put it in an organization, you can't put it in ritual, you can only put it in the Lord Himself. There's no intermediary. Remember the only mediator is the Lord Jesus Christ. He goes on to say, "For with the LORD there is lovingkindness," notice he starts off by saying Lord, if You paid attention to our sins nobody could stand. Then he says but with the Lord there is forgiveness; now we understand they dynamic of it, it'' based on this word "lovingkindness" which is the Hebrew word chesed. Chesed means grace, it means undeserved mercy, it means God's faithful loyal love, that God is faithful and loyal even when we are unfaithful and disloyal. With the Lord there is lovingkindness, there is steadfast loyal love.
"And with Him is abundant redemption." You see, redemption comes from His lovingkindness because redemption is based on grace. Grace means an undeserved gift; it means unmerited favor, it means you don't do one single thing to merit it. And see some people talk about meriting the love of God, meriting the merit of Christ, meriting the salvation. And that's just playing a word game that destroys the meaning of grace. I remember when somebody told me one time, I was going through some difficult times helping out my folks and my mother was going through some health problems and this individual said you're earning a lot of grace. Think about that; that is a destruction of language. See, grace is something that is unearned; that's what the word means, it's a free gift, you can't do anything to earn grace. And yet this person said we're earning grace. That's ridiculous. You have many people who are very religious and very moral and that's they believe you do is you earn the grace of God. But that destroys the meaning of grace. Grace is something that is a free gift that is yours no matter what you do, no matter how bad you are, not matter how obnoxious you are it's still yours because it doesn't depend on you, it depends on the giver.
That's the hardest thing for people to understand, to get past their pride and realize that they can just accept something and not have to do one single thing for it and it's still theirs. That's the basis, is God's lovingkindness, "and with Him is abundant redemption." The word there in the Hebrew means more than sufficient more than you can ever imagine. He has not only done everything necessary to save you, He's done more. The word for "redemption" is the Hebrew word which means to ransom, to rescue, to deliver. The focus on that first word, it means to ransom, that means to pay a price. What's the price? That goes back to the concept of forgiveness which has to do also with paying a price. In order to have forgiveness a price has to be paid. When that price was paid for, we're told in the Scripture, by Jesus Christ, that He paid a redemption, "not with corruptible things from our empty manner of life but with His precious blood." He died as our substitute. That's what this verse goes on to say.
The idea of redemption is further explained in Psalm 59:5. There the psalmist says: "Why should I fear in days of adversity, when the iniquity of my foes surround me," when I'm surrounded by terrorism, when we had the threat of terrorism, the threat of dirty bombs, the threat of perhaps a nuclear explosion, the threat of perhaps the assassination of a President or a nuclear attack on Washington DC or another attack on New York or some other place, when we are surrounded by our foes, the psalmist says "why should I be afraid in days of adversity, when the iniquity of my foes surround me.  Even those who trust in their wealth," see, there are people who think that they're wealthy enough to survive this; some people think they're wealthy enough that they can give enough to the local church to guarantee a place in heaven, they're trusting in their wealth, they're trusting in something they do. "Even those who trust in their wealth, in the abundance of their riches," they're talented enough, they're kind enough, they've been given enough in order to be able to survive the adversity.
But the psalmist says, Psalm 49:7, "No man can by any means redeem his brother," no human being can by any means whatsoever, you can't give enough money to God, you can't be good enough, you can't bargain enough, you can't engage in enough ritual, you can't say enough ritual prayers, you can't by any means do one thing to redeem yourself or anybody else. "Or give to God a ransom for him—" no man could do that. Why? Because all men are sinners, it took someone sinless to die as our substitute. That's why God sent His Son, the eternal Second Person of the Trinity, to die on the cross as our substitute. "No man cay by any means redeem his brother, or give to God a ransom for him—  For the redemption of his soul is costly and he should cease trying forever," that means quit trying to impress God or trying to get saved, quit trying to impress Him by how much you gave, quit trying to impress God by ritual, quit trying to impress God by going to church, quit trying to impress God by how sorry you feel for your sins. None of that impresses God. The redemption of the soul is so costly that no human being can pay the price or even try to be worthy of the price or to merit the price. It is a completely free gift. It is a payment; that price is paid "so that we can live eternally and not undergo decay," Psalm 49:9.
Back to Psalm 130:8, the psalmist applies this to Israel and says, "And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities." See, that's our future hope, that we will see future redemption. Jesus Christ has already fulfilled this promise when He paid the price for sin at the cross. This is what Peter says in 1 Peter 1:18-19, "Knowing that you are not redeemed with corruptible things, such as silver and gold from your aimless manner of life, received by tradition from your fathers." See, there's all sorts of religious traditions, that's what the Bible says. Verse 19, "But with the precious blood, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot," Jesus Christ paid the penalty in full for our salvation, for the salvation of every human being on the planet so that the price is paid, the gift is given, all we have to do is simply accept it, to believe that Jesus Christ died for our sins, nothing more, nothing less. That's the basis for hope.
This is the same thing we got into at the introduction last time in Romans 5:3-5, where Paul is talking to the Romans about their Christian life and he says, "And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulation," it doesn't matter how threatened this nation is, it doesn't matter how much we might lose, it doesn't matter how horrible things might get, if there's a chemical attack, if there's a nuclear attack or whatever it might be, we have courage to stand above that, in fact, we can exult as believers in our tribulations because we know something, we know that God is still in control. That's what this lady referenced in her letter is that God has always been in control over Israel's destiny and nobody's been able to destroy it. So "we exult in our tribulations because we know that tribulation brings about perseverance,  and perseverance, proven character, and prove character hope," that's the process.  "And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us."
Now we looked at this chart last time, just a brief outline of the process. We go through adversity, difficulties, hardship, health problems, financial problems, romantic problems, whatever they may be, that's adversity, it's pressure. We can choose to try to solve it on our own or we can choose by letting God solve it; to do that you have to start by being saved. After you're in the family of God and you apply the Word of God you stick with it, you stick with the Word, you stick with applying it, you persevere. This produces evidence of demonstrated integrity, your integrity, not integrity that comes from just being moral but integrity that comes from applying the Word of God and this in turn produces hope. The word there in the Greek is elpis, meaning confident expectation, we have confidence so that despite how hard things get, how difficult they might become we still have confidence in God and we can still exult and have maximum happiness and joy, no matter how tough things get.
Now in the same passage Paul goes on to say that, Romans 5:6, "while we were still helpless," while we couldn't do one single thing, "at the right time Christ died for the ungodly." He didn't die for the nice people because there are no nice people. Remember, Romans 3 says there is none righteous, no not one. So when it says that He died for the ungodly that means every human being because every one of us is defined as ungodly.
Romans 5:7, "For one will hardly die for a righteous man," in fact among men will hardly die for somebody else, "but perhaps for a good man someone might dare even to die." Verse 8, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners," while were still obnoxious and hostile to Him, "Christ died as a substitute for us." Hupo plus the genitive indicates that He died as our substitute, He died in our place, He paid the penalty in full for each one of us. That's the basis for hope. We know God's in control; He's in control of history and has worked out the details of history.
Now this is exactly what Daniel is reminding the Jews about and what he's going to tell them about in Daniel 11. Verse 2, "And now I will tell you the truth. Behold, three more kings are going to arise in Persia." He's going to give them detail after historical detail of what will take place so that they can have confidence no matter what might happen around them historically they can relax knowing that God is still in control, that no matter what kingdoms rise and what kingdoms fall, they can relax. He says "three more kings are going to arise in Persia. Then a fourth will gain far more riches than all of them; as soon as he becomes strong through his riches, he will arouse the whole empire against the realm of Greece." Last time we looked at these in detail. The first king that was already present at that time was Cyrus, so he's not one of the three. He was succeeded by his son, Cambyses, who was succeeded by an interloper who is called by historian, Pseudo Smerdis, Cambyses has secretly had his younger bother assassinated, see we have all kinds of intrigue back then, just as today. He had his younger brother assassinated in sort of a religious elite, the magi, who were the Zoroastrian priests of that era had an imposter come forward and claim the throne while Cambyses was down fighting in Egypt. Well, Pseudo Smerdis only lasted a couple of years; Cambyses was assassinated on his way back to regain his throne, Pseudo Smerdis lasted a year, he was succeeded by Darius Hystaspes, one of the greatest leaders and organizers of the ancient world.
When we look at all of this, and all of this chaos going on, we ought to ask the question, what is God expecting the every day Jew to be doing in the midst of all of this crisis? Let's go back to Jeremiah 29:7, while they were out of the land, while they were living in the midst of all this chaos, this was the principle, they were to "seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you to live in exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare." You see, the Jews were out of the land, some of them came back to the land but they were still under the domination of these empires, and they were to pray for the empires, they were to pray for the kings and to pray for its welfare so that they would have welfare and peace to go about the Lord's work.
That's the same principle stated in 1 Timothy 2:1, Paul says, "First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority," and that includes stupid historically illiterate liberal judges who make decisions like stating that the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional. We are to pray for these people. Why? "That we may lead a tranquil life in all godliness and dignity." We talk a lot about prayer and how to pray and how to argue in prayer, argue in the sense of a legal term before the throne of grace and one of the things that keeps coming back to me that we need to make a part of our prayer life is that this country has continued to be blessed, to exist, because it sends out missionaries, because we stick with Israel, because we have for the most part rejected anti-Semitism. We are a bulwark of truth in the world and we need to pray to God that He would protect us for that reason, so that we can continue to send out missionaries, support missionaries, continue to support the missionaries that around the world, and that's a challenge to local churches, local churches need to be sending out missionaries. How can a nation send out missionaries if the local churches don't have a strong vision for missions? We need to support Israel; the minute we stop supporting Israel we sign our death warrant. We need to go to the throne of grace and we need to petition God on the basis of our history that He continue to protect and preserve this nation so that we can continue to do those things. Hopefully God will protect us, unless of course, as I've said before, we are near the end times and Jesus is returning soon and He's moving things along in the prophetic timetable.
This is the basis for hope, this is what Daniel is building into the people of Israel so they can survive the crises that's about to hit them historically. We may have the same crises so we to need to focus on our basis for hope, which is the Word of God, the grace of God and our complete salvation in Jesus Christ.