Trials, Tribulations, and Lists

Scripture: Nehemiah 10:29, Ezra 1:9-11, Daniel 1:1-2
Date: 11/30/2019 
Lesson: 9
'God knows all about us. This is comforting and gives us security and the assurance that we are in His care.'
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Jëan Ross: Good morning, friends, and welcome again to "Sabbath School Study Hour" here at the Granite Bay Seventh-day Adventist Church in Sacramento, California. We'd like to welcome our online members and those who are joining us across the country and around the world, part of our a standard Sabbath school class. And we'd also like to welcome our regular Sabbath School members and those who are visiting with us today. We're just delighted that you have chosen to be with us in our study time.

Now, for if you've been coming for the last few weeks, you know that our lesson quarterly has been dealing with the two Old Testament books, Ezra and Nehemiah. And today we're going to continue our study with that. We're on lesson number nine, if you following along with your quarterlies, lesson number nine, and it's got an interesting title. It's Trials, Tribulations, and Lists. So, that's what we're going to be looking at today, Trials, Tribulations, and Lists.

For those of you who are joining us that might not have a copy of our lesson, you can just simply download today's lesson at Again, that's Download lesson number nine and you can study along with us.

We also have a free offer we'd like to let our friends know about. It's a book entitled, The Armor Of God," and this is free for anyone who'd call and ask. The number to call is... and ask for Offer Number 173. We'll be happy to send that out to anyone in North America. Or if you'd like, you can get a digital copy of our free offer by simply texting the code SH101 to the number 40544. You'll get a link and you'll be able to download the book and read it, "The Armor Of God," and I encourage you to take a look at that.

Well, before we get to our study today, we're in for a wonderful blessing. We've got the Pine Hills Adventist Academy Choraliers that are with us this morning, and they're going to be bringing us a special musical item at this time.

♪ Even before we call on Your name ♪

♪ To ask You, O God ♪

♪ When we seek for the words to glorify You ♪

♪ You hear our prayer ♪

♪ Unceasing love ♪

♪ O unceasing love ♪

♪ Surpassing all we know ♪

♪ Glory to the Father ♪

♪ And to the Son ♪

♪ And to the Holy Spirit ♪

♪ Even with darkness sealing us in ♪

♪ We breathe Your name ♪

♪ And through all the days that follow so fast ♪

♪ We trust in You ♪

♪ Endless Your grace ♪

♪ O endless Your grace ♪

♪ Beyond all mortal dream ♪

♪ Both now and forever ♪

♪ And unto ages ♪

♪ And ages ♪

♪ Amen ♪

Jëan: I invite you to bow your heads as we have a Word of prayer. Dear Father, once again we are grateful for this beautiful day that You've given us for the opportunity to gather in peace and open up Your Word in study. And so, today we invite You, Holy Spirit, to be with us. We know that the Bible is Your book and in order for us to correctly understand it, we need the Holy Spirit to guard our hearts and our minds. So, bless us today, for we ask this in Jesus's name, amen.

Our lesson today is going to be brought to us by our family life pastor here at Granite Bay, Pastor Shawn Brummund.

Pastor Shawn Brummund: Oh, good morning to everyone. It's nice to see you. Thank you for that introduction, Pastor Ross. And thank you so much for the Pine Hills Academy for sharing their hard work and their talents. And as I was closing my eyes, I was envisioning myself not here in the sanctuary, but in a much holier place which is before the throne of God in heaven. And I started to picture the angels as they were singing. And so, thank you so much for that. And I know that all of us look forward to the time when we can see the angelic choir as well and be inspired by them.

It's always good to be here in Granite Bay Seventh-day Adventist Church studying the Word of God as we continue to look at two important figures in books as they were both leaders. Of course, Ezra was a priest, a minister of the gospel. And of course, they were also prophets, Bible writers as well. And so, we're going to be looking at some very intriguing and faith-inspiring truths as we go through this particular lesson. Lesson number nine, which is Trials, Tribulations, and Lists. Now, I hope that you brought your Bibles because we're going to have our Bibles open several times throughout this lesson.

If you're at home and you're watching this, or wherever you might be watching online or on television, I want to encourage you to grab your Bible if you haven't grabbed it all ready, and let's make this an interactive study as we continue to get our nose in this most important book and continue to grow in our own personal knowledge. And so, that's always important.

Today, I'm going to do something a little bit different because as I went through this particular lesson study, I started to realize very quickly that it goes in a number of different directions. Every day, in fact, it goes in a different direction, and we just don't even have near the time to be able to kind of unpack all of those different directions. And so, Sunday's lesson and topic is going to be the core of our particular study here today, and that is the God of History, as it's entitled on that particular day. And so, I want to start, first off, by returning to how the Israelites got into Babylon in the first place because over the last couple of months now as we're wrapping up this particular quarter, we've discovered that, indeed, God had brought the Israelites out of Israel, the land of promise, the land that was flowing with milk and honey, the land that God had intended to be the headquarters of the light of the gospel to the rest of the world. And we find that sadly, the Israelites had failed on that, even to the point where God had to come in and find them being removed from that land, that Promised Land, and put into a faraway land, an empire, by the name of Babylon.

So, come with me to Daniel chapter 1, and verses 1 and 2 as the lesson study points as to and let's read that together. So, we're opening to the Book of Daniel and we're going to the very first chapter in the first couple of verses there. So, let's go to the introduction to that book. Going to Daniel chapter 2-- and sorry, Daniel chapter 1, and we're going to look at the first couple of verses there. Daniel chapter 1, and verses 1 and 2. It says, "In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the articles of the house of God, which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the articles into the treasure house of his god."

And so, we find here something very important. Not only did God allow the king of Babylon and his army to be able to come in and successfully conquer the capital of Israel, Jerusalem, and capture the king, and, of course, became the ruler of that particular land and then brought many of its captives over as captive slaves into his land, but it also tells us that not only did he bring people, but he also brought several of the articles or items that were found in the holy temple of God in Jerusalem as well. And this was not an unusual practice. In fact, we have discovered, or scholars, and historians, archaeologists, have discovered that it was not an unusual practice to be able to do that. And so, this was not the first time that a king did this.

In fact, it was standard for a king if they came into a foreign country and they were successful in conquering it, why they would go into the temple, they would remove, more often than not, they would remove the idol, or idols that represented in that particular land and people in which they worshiped and some of the sacred articles and so on in their different temples. And then they would bring it to their temple, and this was kind of a symbolic way of saying that our god is stronger than your god, and he has given us victory over you as a people, and therefore your god must be weaker. And so, this is exactly what Nebuchadnezzar did as, again, was a standard back in those days.

Now, of course, the big difference here is that these items didn't belong to idols. The articles that he brought out of the Holy Temple of Jerusalem didn't belong to false gods, as Nebuchadnezzar had done with other idols and articles and gods in other lands that he conquered, but rather these particular items belonged to the genuine God of heaven and earth. And so, now he's dealing with the authentic God, now he's dealing with the true creator of heaven and earth. And so, yes, it is true that God had allowed the Babylonians to conquer the Israelites, but we have to remember that God did not allow the Babylonians and Nebuchadnezzar to conquer God. And as it turns out, those temple items belonged, not only to the Israelites, but they belonged to God. And we're going to soon find out that God had made sure that he watched over those articles, and that they were going to return to the temple as well.

In the meantime, I want to look at a very important truth that this unpacks for us on this particular day of study and that is that God is the judge of all nations and all countries. He is the creator of all people. The Bible makes it very clear that there is no other source of life, that God is the one that gives the breath of life, not only to the Israelites, not only to the Moabites, and to the Ammonites, and to the Egyptians in that part of the world, but also to the Europeans, and to the Asians, and to the Africans, and to North Americans.

God is the creator of all people, amen? And so, it's very important for us to understand the Bible makes this very clear as you go through many of its different prophets and writings, that God is an international God. And it's important for us to understand that. This is also reflected in the New Testament. This is why when Jesus, after His resurrected--resurrection, just before He sent it to His Father in heaven, He had given very specific instructions to his apostles. And He said, "Go therefore and make disciples of the entire Middle East."

Is that what He said? No, He said, "Go make disciples of all nations, all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." Why? Because Jesus didn't die on the cross just for the Israelites. He didn't just die on the cross for those in that part of the world, but rather He died for the sins of the entire world, of all humanity and all nations. And sometimes we can lose sight of that when we're reading the Bible if we're not looking for it and allowing that truth to come out to us because there's so much focus on the Middle East, there's so much focus on the core of the Middle East, which is the nation of Israel, God's special nation and had a special mission.

By the way, when we look at the three angels' messages of Revelation 14, again, we find an international God with an international message for the whole world. Okay, "And therefore I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven having the everlasting gospel to preach to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people." And so, again, we have this comprehensive international message from an international God, and we don't want to lose sight of that.

You know, one of the things that makes each succeeding GC session, and when I say GC I'm kind of speaking in house. If you're not a Seventh-day Adventist, GC is an acronym we use for General Conference, which is kind of the, how can I say? It's the business meeting or board meeting for the entire world church and organization of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. And so, there's delegates and representatives from all the different nations in which we have a presence, a church school, a church, and so on, that come together every five years. And during that time, we kind of make world decisions and policies in regards to the world church. And not only that, but we also give world reports, mission reports, how has the Lord led in the last five years in regards to the three angels' message and gospel commission that God has given to us?

And what makes each GC session more and more exciting is that we see more and more nations represented each time we get together at the end of each five years. And so, I don't hear a lot of amens out there, but we should be excited about that because that is something that we should be paying attention to because that's the greatest sign and the only sign of the times that we are involved in. You know, Jesus had said in Matthew chapter 24, and verse 14, and I hope you know that one because that's the most important sign. "And this gospel will be preached in all the world as a witness to all nations," how many nations? "All nations and then the end will come." And so, the more we see nations represented at the GC each session, the more closer we are to the coming of Jesus Christ. And I don't know about you, but I can't wait until Jesus comes.

That's another thing we have to be careful that we don't lose sight of. You can get so wrapped up in this world and things of this world, we forget that Jesus is coming, and we start to lose that hope and anticipation. God has called us to be Seventh-day Adventists, people that are excited about the return of Jesus. You know, one of the favorite parts, by far, for me whenever I have the privilege of attending a GC session is the Parade of Nations. And so, some of you have been there.

How many have been to the Parade of Nations? Raise your hands if you've been there, I see a few hands that are risen. If you haven't been there, boy, if you can be at the closing weekend of a GC session, that's when you have the highest attendance. We have some huge stadium with 40,000, 50,000 people worshiping on Sabbath morning at the same time. And that, alone, is just an amazing, awesome experience. But then to be able to have the Parade of Nations, which kind of is the climax of the GC session where you have all these nations parading in their different cultural garb, wear, clothes, their flags, and so on, as they parade across the platform and so on. It's just a marvelous experience. So, I know if you've been there, you know what that's like. If you haven't, try to be there, or at least watch it on TV or online as we have it streamed and so on nowadays.

So, even though Israel was His key nation, the key nation of God in Old Testament times, indeed, God had created that nation for a very specific important purpose. God has always been involved in the workings of all nations. And so, just because the focus has been more on the Middle East doesn't mean that God hasn't been paying attention to China or to Japan or to Nigeria or to Tasmania. You know, He's looking at all these nations and always has. You know, God is the God of all nations. And so, it's important for us to understand that.

Now, in extension of that, the Bible also makes it very clear that because God is the creator, and He is the maker of all things, He's the one that is really in charge of the universe. He's also the one that needs to be able to draw, as we might say, a metaphorical line in the sand for each and every nation. So, in other words, as each nation rises up, and certainly history tells us that different nations have risen up in different times replacing previous nations and such, that each nation, God draws a line in the sand, if we could say, and He says, "You know, if you start to move towards rebellion, and wickedness and evil and so on, once you come to that line and you cross that line, you put Me in a very difficult situation because then I have to have to execute judgment. I have to bring some kind of punishment upon that nation for that sin and for that wickedness."

And so, it's important for us to understand, God is longsuffering. He said that more than once through His first Bible writer, Moses. Moses understood it in God, he saw it in God certainly, as Moses was losing it more often with the Israelites than God did. As the Israelites were rebellious and complaining and murmuring and causing problems and so on, we find that God was very longsuffering, and God is still longsuffering. And I hope you can say amen to that as well, because He's still working on you and me, isn't He? And so, even the sincerest of us need a longsuffering God because, you know, that grace and mercy as we grow in the grace and sanctification of God is important to be able to have.

But longsuffering is not endless suffering. In other words, God has a check on all evil in all nations. And so, once you cross that line in the sand, then we find there that God's longsuffering comes to an end, judgment and punishment then follows. Now, we can see this played out and living color as we study the Bible, in particular, in regards to the lesson study and Ezra's day and Nehemiah's day and even previous to that, as we're backing up a little bit, when we study the Bible record about Israel and the old empire of Babylon that was existing back then.

Now, we've already studied and learned in the past lessons that God had declared a 70-year period in which the Israelites would find themselves exiles, removed from the Promised Land. And this is what we could call an imprisonment. This is their punishment term. You know, God came up with a verdict, and He said, "Okay, because of your wickedness, because you have come, not only to that line, but you've crossed that line into deep wickedness, deep apostasy, there's no other choice." And so, God then exile them over into Babylon. And He said, "Now your term is going to be 70 years of imprisonment as slaves and captives in this foreign land."

But at the same time, I think it's also understand, important understand as we look at the big picture starting with Genesis, and we'll be looking at that momentarily, God reveals that He understands, not only that when we cross that line as a nation that God has to bring some kind of punishment and judgment upon us, but He also understands that when that is going to come even before it comes. God knows the beginning from the end. And so, not only that was that 70-year period and imprisonment and punishment period for the Israelites, but it was also what we could call a probationary period for the empire of Babylon.

Now, God is not only the God of Israel, but He's also the God of Babylon, isn't He? Okay, He's the God of all nations. And so, He's not only interested in the workings of Israel, He's also interested in the workings of Babylon. And by the way, when you look at prophets, particularly Isaiah and Jeremiah, you'll find that there'll be all kinds of different prophecies and declarations that God gives, not to Israel, but to Moab and to Ammon and to Edom and to all kinds, Egypt, many of the different international nations that the Bible writers were aware of in their world and time, that God was proclaiming different proclamations, sadly, many of them, judgments on them as well. And so, God knew that this was a probationary period for Babylon. And we can find that for both of these in one of the most fascinating passages, and we're going to back up from Daniel now and go to the Prophet Jeremiah, Jeremiah chapter 25.

And so, again, open your Bibles and come with me, Jeremiah chapter 25, and we're going to start with verse 7. Jeremiah chapter 25, and we're going to start with verse 7. Jeremiah chapter 5-- or 25, I should say, and verse 7 it says, and this is God. It says, "Yet you have not listened to Me, says the Lord." Now, this is God speaking to Israel. "Yet you have not listened to Me, says the Lord, that you might provoke Me to anger with the works of your hands to your own hurt."

You see that, friends? God always has our best interest in mind, doesn't He? You know, sometimes we don't feel that way because we want to go this way and God is saying going that way. And we say, "Yeah, but I want to go this way." You know, and then God, you know, doesn't bless us and things don't go well in life and such. But God always says, "Listen, if you're going this way, He says this way, He's not saying this way because He wants to be a stick in the mud. He's saying go this way because this is the best way for you, not for God but ultimately, for you. And sometimes we have a hard time of being convinced of that. The Israelites certainly did. He said anger with the works of your hand to your own hurt.

God had their best interest in mind. Verse 8, "Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts: 'Because you have not heard My words, 9 behold, I will send and take all the families of the north,' says the Lord, 'and Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant, and will bring them against this land, against its inhabitants, and against these nations all around, and will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, a hissing, and perpetual desolations." So, this is the judgment and declaration upon verdict upon Israel. "Moreover I will take from them the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones and the light of the lamp. And this whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon," for how long? Seventy years, there it is.

Okay, many of us have read Daniel chapter 9 where Daniel claims that verse, you know, as the 70 years were coming to its conclusion. And God kind of threw a curveball at him in the vision that he gave him in the previous chapter, in chapter 8 and sounded like maybe it's going to be decades, maybe centuries before the sanctuary will be we rebuilt and cleansed on the Day of Atonement, and so on and so, Daniel claims that 70 years. Verse 12 it says, "Then it will come to pass, when seventy years are completed, that I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity,' says the Lord; 'and I will make it a perpetual desolation."

And see, you see that double judgment, friends? We see that God is not only watching the workings and keeping track of what's going on in Israel, but He's also doing so in the nation of Babylon because He's also the God of Babylon and of all nations. He's interested in all peoples at all times, in all places. And so, God says, "Listen, not only am I declaring judgment and a verdict on Israel, but also on Babylon." And so, God is basically saying, "Listen, even before the 70 years come to its pass, to its conclusion, I understand that that's when Babylon is going to cross that line in the sand, and I'm going to need to be able to punish them for their iniquity, for their evil in sin, as well."

Now, we don't want to get confused when it says here that Nebuchadnezzar was God's servant as we read in verse 9. And it's because we can walk away from that and say, "Well, wow, Nebuchadnezzar must have been a devout man of the true God of heaven." Well, no. What this is really revealing is that Nebuchadnezzar really wasn't walking or knew God in any way, as the evidence reveals in the Bible, especially in the Book of Daniel, but rather instead, God is calling him His servant because Nebuchadnezzar, despite his own understandings, because Nebuchadnezzar, right up to his conversion, we'll talk about that in a moment, understood that he was in control of his life and that he was doing everything under his own power and his own might and his own abilities and such. And so, he didn't know it, but God was actually using him for his purposes. And so, he was a servant, even though he didn't know it.

And this reveals another very important theological truth of the Bible and that is that God is sovereign. God is sovereign over all things at all times in all the universe, including here on earth. And so, even though he refers to the evil one is the prince of this world, the prince of the world really is just, you know, he's still subject to God. And God is always ten steps ahead of the devil. Never think that the devil as ahead of God.

You know, sometimes we give the devil too much credit and say, "Well, the devil is really winning in this case." No, he's not. The devil never wins. He's never winning, God is always ten steps ahead of him. So, never, never give the devil more credit than he really deserves. God is the one that's sovereign, not the devil. Never is the devil sovereign. And so, it's important for us to understand. And so, when He calls him His servant, God is declaring His sovereignty. He's the one that reigns upon this earth and upon the universe.

Now, the fascinating thing about Nebuchadnezzar is that eventually he does become God's servant, not just because God is sovereign in spite of Nebuchadnezzar's rebellion and sin, but Nebuchadnezzar actually finds God in his heart eventually. And so, one of the most fascinating chapters that you can read in all of the Scriptures is found in Daniel chapter 4 because in Daniel chapter 4, we find a new man. We find a different person altogether, and that's the king of this particular ancient nation. And so, Nebuchadnezzar does eventually find a conversion experience, and you can only imagine the influence that that had on the nation of Babylon.

Would it be an influence for good or would it be an influence for evil? This is an easy question. An the influence for--I mean for good, wouldn't it, okay? It would be an influence for good. So, here we have the most powerful man and the superpower of the world. He's the king of Babylon, and he goes through seven years, through a very humbling experience when he's reestablished on the throne, he is real established as a brand-new person. And so, how he handled--I guess, he really believed in religious liberty because I always wondering, how did he handle that Marduk, and all the other gods and idols and, you know, all the false religion that was so rampant throughout his capital and everything. And so, I suppose that he understood that, you know, the religious liberty, like here in the United States.

You know, you can--you have the liberty and the right to be wrong in regards to your religion. And so, you know, you can follow any religion that you want. And so, Nebuchadnezzar still said, "But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." And so, you can only imagine the what influence that had for good and what check that head on evil for a time, at least during his lifetime, of the remainders of his lifetime. And so, that extended it.

But even in spite of that influence, God still knew, even before Nebuchadnezzar was converted, that indeed Babylon eventually after Nebuchadnezzar's death and his ancestors, Belshazzar, in particular, his grandson, would take the throne and he would move into a direction of rebellion and evil to the point where he crosses that line in the sand at the conclusion of the 70-year period. And so, it's fascinating. God knows all history before it ever takes place, and God is sovereign over all things. And so, that's important for us to be able to pick up.

Now, the Bible's revelation is that God is sovereign and uses that to bring a check on evil. And I don't know about you, but that brings great hope to me because I don't know if you've noticed, but evil has a way of rising up in different places, in different nations on a regular basis. You know, I don't know about you, but every time I watch the news, it just keeps revealing that there's more and more evil, you know, we just snuff out ISIS, and, you know, Al Qaeda, and then ISIS rises up. And then we're going to stuff out ISIS, and some other-- you know, there's always evil that continues to rise up in different measures, in different forms, in different nations at different times, you know, and so on.

Well, God is keeping track of all those things as well, and He's bringing a check to them. And so, that's important for us to understand, especially if we're involved and victims of that evil. You know, if you find yourself in World War II in Germany, some of these other nations that were conquered by the Nazi regime and such, you know, there was great atrocities and evil that took place during that time. And most of that evil wasn't discovered by the rest of us nations, including Americans, until the World War was complete, until the Nazi regime and Hitler was defeated. And so, to the American soldiers and other European soldiers that came in, they were horrified to find these gas chambers that were designed for mass extermination of millions of Jews, pastors, Christians, homosexuals, you know, just this massive massacre of precious human beings. And so, but God knew. God understood that, and even though He lets evil extend for a time, He always has that line and He brings a check to it. And so, that's important for us to understand.

In Daniel chapter 2 and verse 21, it tells us that He changes times and He changes season. He removes kings, and He also lifts up kings as well. And so, God is really in charge of all things. He is sovereign. It also tells us the sovereignty of God, the Most High rules in the kingdom of man and gives it to whoever He chooses. And so, you know, sometimes we think we're in charge, you know. You know, it's important to vote in a democracy, but even in democracy, God is still sovereign, you know, because there's no perfect democracy. Have you noticed that in the United States here? You know, there's no perfect democracy. You know, we don't even know how many people are voting, and who's voting, who's legitimate, who's not legit. I mean, there's all kinds of holes even in democracy, isn't it? You know, as powerful and beautiful as that principle and practice is, and we need to be able to preserve and protect that. It's not perfect, is it? And then we got all kinds of smears and lies, and we don't know what's the truth, what's fake on news and TV and every, you know, all this information's coming at us and we're trying to make the best decision when we vote. And God is looking upon all that, and He's still placing the person that He has in store. He's sovereign over all of us, and it's important for us to be able to understand that. It is Him that lifts up kings and brings down kings. It is Him who removes and gives kingdoms to men according to who He chooses. Genesis chapter 15, I want to invite you to come to one of my favorite passages there because it just, on this subject anyway, and it's just probably the first revelation of God's sovereignty and His judgmentship, if I could use that word. Genesis chapter 15 and verse 13 onwards. Genesis chapter 15 and verse 13. So, we're going to read it right through to verse 16. Okay, so Genesis chapter 15, and this is back in Abraham's time. His name is Abram at this point, but it's Abraham later. "Then He said to Abram: 'Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years.'" Now, what nation was that? That was Egypt, wasn't it? Okay, doesn't name it here, but, of course, later on the Scriptures and history tells us it was Egypt. "They will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them 400 years. And also the nation whom they serve," I will? I will judge. So, there's God the judge, not only of Israel, but also of Egypt. "Afterward they shall come out with great possessions. Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall return here," that's the Promised Land where Abraham is presently, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete." Now, isn't that fascinating? This is no small verse, this is no small passage, this is a huge passage in regards to the sovereignty and the judgeship of God, and God is looking upon all the nations, and He is keeping track of the workings of every single nation of human beings. And it tells us there that the iniquity of the Amorites was not yet complete. Now, the fascinating thing is that If you go back just a couple of chapters, or even just one chapter of Genesis chapter 14, verse 13, we find there the context is Lot, the nephew of Abraham, as well as the residents of Sodom and Gomorrah were taken captive by some kings in the north and taken away. And so, Abraham decides that he's going to take his militia in his own camp with 318 trained men and servants of his camp, and rescue them. But he doesn't go alone. He actually brings with him another army, another military ally that he has. And as it turns out, they are Amorites. They're three brothers, and they're all Amorites. And so, he joins and hence, the only other military and people that he's politically and militarily aligned with is the Amorites, why? Because the Amorites were the most righteous in the land. They had not yet filled their iniquity or their cup of iniquity, if we might say. And so, that's why we find that Abraham is in alliance with them and, of course, they successfully rescued Lot in Sodom and Gomorrah. And so, the Lord tarried for 400 years because the probation of the Amorites had not yet been complete. They had not come to that line and crossed that line of wickedness yet. And so, there's three key reasons why God allowed the Israelites to slug it out as long as they did, 400 years in the land of Egypt.

Well, number one, this is a sideline, they needed to grow large enough to be able to see the nation. You know, right now, they only was about 70 year, or not even, in Abraham's day was. And so, you know, with his camp, there was, you know, several hundred, but the family itself, you know, was just a few dozen. So, it wasn't nearly enough to seed a nation, and so they needed to grow into the millions, which they did, to seed a nation.

Number two, the Amorites did cross that line in the sand yet, and so God had to wait. And then also, the Egyptians had not also completed their iniquity because when God came in and He set the captives free, He set the Israelites free, He also brought judgment upon the nation of Egypt, and He uses that language. And so, probation for the Amorites and the Egyptians had not yet been complete. God's longsuffering was still being applied. And so, that's the fascinating thing about this sovereignty of God and His--and how He judges nations.

Now, this is paralleled again at the conclusion of the 70 years of the Israelites who were captive slaves in the land of Babylon. And when they come to the conclusion of that probationary period, it's the time to release the Israelites but also bring judgment upon Babylon, we find that Daniel chapter 5 is the key chapter. And I think we have just enough time to read through that, so come with me to Daniel chapter 5 because we're going to park there and just go through the chapter because it doesn't take a lot of commentary or explanation. It is such a powerful chapter in of itself.

And so, I just want to invite you to read through it with me and we find that on Sunday's lesson, it says in verse 1, Belshazzar--now this is the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar now. "The king made a great feast for a thousand of his lords, and drank wine in the presence of the thousand. While he tasted the wine, Belshazzar gave the command to bring the gold and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple which had been in Jerusalem, that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them. Then they brought the gold vessels that had been taken from the temple of the house of God which had been in Jerusalem;" ouch, "and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them."

Now, if these were the vessels of Marduk or Asherah or Baal or some of these false gods, nothing would have-- would have come to nothing. But these don't belong to a false god, do they? These vessels belong to the authentic God of the universe. Verse 5, "They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone. In the same hour the fingers of a man's hand appeared and wrote opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king's palace; and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. Then the king's countenance changed."

Okay, before that, he was full of arrogance, and confidence, and pride. "His thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his hips were loosened and his knees knocked against each other." Now, friends this is probably an exaggeration to a real degree, but really what Daniel's trying to say in the strongest way is this, this guy started to fall apart very, very quickly. "The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. The king spoke, saying to the wise men of Babylon, 'Whoever reads this writing, and tells me its interpretation, shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around his neck; and he shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.' Now all the king's wise men--" In other words, he'll be the third most powerful leader in the kingdom. "Now all the king's wise men came, but they could not read the writing, or make known to the king its interpretation."

Does that sound familiar? Yeah, if you read Daniel chapter 2, this is kind of a repeat as Nebuchadnezzar experienced. "Then King Belshazzar was greatly troubled, his countenance was changed, and his lords were astonished. The queen, because of the words of the king and his lords--" Now, this is probably not his wife because his wives, you know, probably including his first wife. And concubines were with him in the party, but this is probably the queen, this is probably his grandmother. And so, this is probably a surviving wife of the previous king. And so, "The queen, because of the words of the king and his lords, came to the banquet hall. The queen spoke, saying, 'O king, live forever! Do not let your thoughts trouble you, nor let your countenance change. There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the Spirit of the Holy God. And in the days of your father--'"

Now, when they use the term "father," don't get confused. Father was a term to anybody that was previous to you and any of your ancestor, that could be your father, your grandfather, your great grandfather. "Your father, light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, were found in him; and King Nebuchadnezzar your father-- your father the king-- made him chief of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers. Inasmuch as an excellent spirit, knowledge, understanding, interpreting dreams, solving riddles, and explaining enigmas were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar, now let Daniel be called, and he will give the interpretation. Then Daniel was brought in before the king. The king spoke, and said to Daniel, 'Are you that Daniel who is one of the captives from Judah, whom my father the king brought from Judah? I have heard of you, that the Spirit of God is in you, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in you.

Now the wise men, the astrologers, have been brought in before me, that they should read this writing and make known to me its interpretation, but they could not give the interpretation of the thing. And I have heard of you, that you can give interpretations and explain enigmas. Now if you can read the writing and make known to me its interpretation, you shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around your neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom. Then Daniel answered, and said before the king," I like his answer, "Let your gifts be for yourself, and give your rewards to another; for I will read the writing to the king, and make known to him the interpretation." He says, "Don't worry about the rewards, means nothing to me." "O King, the Most High God decides--" Daniel kind of saw the writing on the wall, he knew what was coming down. "O king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father a kingdom and majesty, glory and honor. And because of the majesty that He gave him, all peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him. Whomever he wished, he executed; whomever he wished, he kept alive; whomever he wished, he set up; and whomever he wished, he put down. But when his heart was lifted up, and his spirit was hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him. Then he was driven from the sons of men, his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild donkeys. They fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till he knew that the Most High God rules in the kingdom of men, and appoints over it whomever He chooses. But you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, although you knew all this."

So, you have to remember here that Belshazzar is not ignorant. He's not in the dark in regards to his grandfather, Nebuchadnezzar. In fact, you can only imagine Nebuchadnezzar repeating that more than once before he had gone to his grave. "And you have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven. They have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you and your lords, your wives and your concubines, have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone, which do not see or hear or know; and the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified. Then the fingers of the hand were sent from Him, and this writing was written. And this is the inscription that was written: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. This is the interpretation of each word. MENE: God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it; TEKEL: You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting."

Does it sound like a line in the sand has been crossed? "PERES:" which is singular for a parson. "Your kingdom has been divided, and given to the Medes and Persians. Then Belshazzar gave the command, and they clothed Daniel with purple and put a chain of gold around his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom of Babylon, of the kingdom. And That very night Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans, was slain. And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old." And so, there we have it, friends, a powerful chapter that tells us the conclusion of the judgment of Babylon, and also the conclusion of the imprisonment and the punishment of the Israelites.

Now, we don't want to get confused. Darius the Mede certainly received the kingdom in that part of the newly annexed area of Babylon that was annexed, or added, to the territory now of the Medes and the Persians, but that was not the new capital. And so, the ultimate king in which the King Darius, the Mede, answered to was King Cyrus. Cyrus is the ultimate King. And so, there was kings and then there were sub kings. Darius was a sub king and the Median king, but then we also have Cyrus, the Persian king. Very much like in Jesus's day, we have King Herod who was the king of Judea in Jesus's day, but was he the king of Rome, of the Roman Empire? No, okay, Caesar, okay was the king of the Roman Empire, Nero and so on.

And so, well, you have kings and you have sub kings, and so that's important for us to understand. Well, that brings us to the conclusion Ezra chapter 1 and verses 7 through 11, of course, that's one of the lists that the lesson study brings out, and it's a list of the different temple items that were returned. And so, not only again were the Israelites permitted to go back to Israel and rebuild the temple, but the very same items that Belshazzar brought out and drank from so rebelliously and so wickedly in great rebellion, we find then were rightfully returned to the true God of heaven, again, revealing that you never want to mess with God's people. You never want to mess with God's things, because God takes that very personally, and He is sovereign.

Well, we have an offer here that we offered at the beginning in case you just joined our program beforehand-- I mean, since we offered that at the beginning, we want to make sure that you can take advantage of it. It's a little booklet entitled, "The Armor Of God" written by our senior pastor Doug Batchelor, also the president of Amazing Facts Ministries, and so please take advantage of that. You can see the number on your screen. And not only can you get a hard copy of that if you're in America, Canada, or in one of the US territories, but you can also get a digital copy of that and you can text it to the code, or you can text the code SH101 and you just dial that to the number 40544. Again, the information is on your screen. God bless you until we see you next week. And remember, God loves you and we love you too.

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Male: My life was in turmoil. My wife and I were fighting all the time. I got away from everything and everybody. I don't know, I just always had this emptiness in my heart I wanted it filled. I just felt like I went my whole life, you know, just searching for something. And my father died, and that ruined me a lot. My father didn't believe in suicide, and I didn't want to live but rather than disrespect him, I decided I would just become so mean, someone else would do it to me and I wouldn't have to. So, I joined the army thinking what better place to get killed than in the army? And while I was in the army, my daughter got injured. She was in an accident, and she was blind and paraplegic, and it's just like I felt the whole world was coming down on me.

One morning I just really got mad, and I gave God a cussing like you wouldn't believe. I said, "I'm not Moses, not Abraham, you know, I don't-- but I put my sandals on just like they do. And I'm a man. I don't want to know why this is happening to me, I just want to know that it's happening for a reason. If you tell me right now this is all for reason, then you can stack it on me from here to the end of time, and I will never complain again." And that little TV came on, had been sitting there just static all night long. And there was this minister well, he pops up and he says, "Today's lesson's from the Book of Job, God only lets those suffer that He loves the most." And I said, "Well, that's all you have to say, Lord. I appreciate that."

From that day forward, I knew that He was there and He's in my life, and that He would help me. I went to prison just almost immediately after that. I was in prison for aggravated assault. I was in one of the worst prisons in the state of Tennessee. It was full of gang activity. I got my throat cut, 52 stitches in my neck. I could take those fingers and just stick them all the way through out my mouth.

I'd gone to the library that day because it was really about the only thing to do, but I ran across this little book called "The Richest Caveman." This book is hilarious, but it is great. I'm sitting there with this big beard I'm thinking hey, I know what it's like to look like a caveman. But I'm not an educated person, I guess you'd say, but I'm a simple guy. I'm just really a simple guy. That's what I loved about Doug Batchelor, because this guy is just as straight out as you can get.

And my wife and I, we've kept contact through all these years and so much has gone on, and I told her, I said, "Listen, this is the center of my world right now." And I said, "I really want you to be involved in it with me. I need it." And I said, "You will too if you ever just take hold of it." I told my wife I said, "Listen, they've got this Amazing Facts Bible Study on here, and this is the best way for you to get this information, I think." I said, "Because it's broken down, and they give you questions and make you look for these things, you know, so it's not anyone telling you, you find it on your own, and they teach you to actually use the Bible." She was there faithfully every Wednesday until we decided, you know, she wanted to be baptized also. She saw it coming around. The choice was made. In October 4, 2014, my wife and I were baptized in the water at the same time, and we started our walk together,

I guess you'd say I went through everything that a man could possibly go through, I guess, from marital trouble, loss of family members, death of my family. My children were harmed and my daughter was handicapped for life. I went to prison, but still, I kept my word to God that He could stack it on me as much as He wanted, and I'd never question Him, and I didn't. But I could can say this much, He never put nothing on me that I couldn't handle, and He walked with me. And I'd like to say that anyone who is in prison, not to give up, don't lose hope. Put your faith in the Lord and study. You seek Him and He will seek you. And my name is Charlie Green, and I want you to know that you and Amazing Facts have changed my life.

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