Rebuilding the Kingdoms: From Exile to Return (Journey the Word 8)

For almost 20 years, the Babylonian Empire invaded Judah, destroyed homes, killed people, caused famine, and took survivors to distant lands to hold them as prisoners of war. We saw prophets arise during this era, such as Daniel and Ezekiel. Leaders such as Ezra and Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem to help the exiles rebuild the community.

Daniel

Daniel 1-12

Daniel was taken captive as a teenager by the Babylonian army at about 605 BC. He was then deported from Jerusalem to the capital of Babylon. Daniel was dedicated to living to God’s Standards, not the world, which caused many problems. His first test was whether he would eat foods that violated God’s Law. Most of the religions of that era were pagan and Daniel wanted no part of them. This means they ate strange foods, none of which Daniel wanted.

Zealous in lieu of God’s Law, Daniel protested the foods. But, his important time came when he interpreted a dream by Nebuchadnezzar about the statue. Later in his years, Daniel would be in prayer often to God, and when caught, Daniel was thrown into a lion’s den, only to be miraculously saved by God.

The book of Daniel recorded a story also of Daniel’s friends being saved from the furnace: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Obedience to God trumped Earthly kings… Hallelujah! Soon, we would witness many prophecies related to the end times that Daniel had given.

Ezekiel

Ezekiel 1-48

A priest named Ezekiel lived among exiles in Nippur, which was a Jewish settlement near the Kebar River around Babylon. Ezekiel was taken captive from Judah to Babylonia (the Akkadian state) around 8 eight years after Daniel was taken. Even though Ezekiel’s book is much larger than Daniel’s, we know more about Daniel than we do Ezekiel.

Ezekiel was called by God to be a prophet… “Watchman.” A watchman is in a high tower vigilantly monitoring the area of responsibility. The book of Ezekiel consists of many judgment prophecies and laments, because there were visions of Israel’s future restoration – a dream many Jews and others have had. The first 32 chapters of his book show the prophet giving God’s Warning to Judah and other nations of a suffering coming.

Judah’s suffering would be because of their idolatrous ways, sexual sins, exploitation of vulnerable people, and alliances with pagan nations. The remainder of the book occurs after the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonian Empire, which was around 586 BC. Ezekiel, instead of giving stern warnings, offers messages of hope and restoration. Death is never the final judgment for God’s People. Ezekiel had a final vision in 571 BC, about fifteen years after the fall of Jerusalem. There was hope to see the end of the exile, and Ezekiel would not live to see that end.

The Kingdoms in Daniel

The StatueThe Four BeastsThe Kingdoms
Head of fine gold: Babylon was the most powerfully wealthy kingdom.Lion with Wings of an Eagle: These images were popular in Babylonian architecture and currency.Babylonian Empire: 605-539 BC (King Nebuchadnezzar to Belshazzar)
Chest and Arms of Silver: Media and Persia were the second great power, and they defeated Babylon.Bear with Ribs in its Mouth: This seems to illustrate Persian dominance over Media.Medo-Persian Empire: 539-332 BC (King Cyrus to Darius III). Persia is symbolized as a ram.
Belly and Thighs of Bronze: bronze is less than gold so it is inferior.Leopard with Four Wings and Four Heads: The speed of Alexander’s conquest of Persia. The heads could indicate a division of Alexander’s empire in four distinct provinces after his death.Greece: 332-63 BC (Alexander the Great and the four divisions). Greece is symbolized by a goat.
Legs of Iron; Feet of Iron and Clay: Divided kingdom was as strong as iron. Most scholars think it was the Roman Empire.Beast with Ten Horns: The horns are ten kings that would arise from this kingdom. Then little horn would speak against God’s People and persecute them. During this king’s reign, God would set up an everlasting kingdom.Divided Kingdom: The Roman Empire in 63 BC through the time of Jesus.
Rock Cut from a Mountain: A rock unmade from human hands that would strike the statue and shatter it. The rock became a mountain that filled the entire Earth. This symbolized Jesus initiating the Kingdom of God.The Son of Man: Daniel’s vision noted “One like a son of man coming from the clouds of Heaven”. He had all glory that people worshiped him.Everlasting Kingdom: Jesus was referred to as the Son of Man, and John had a vision of Jesus Christ ruling in the Heaven.

Ezra and Nehemiah

Ezra 1-10; Nehemiah 1-13

The Book of Ezra opens with the fulfilling of Jeremiah’s prophecy – After seventy years of exile, the Jews would return to their home. The Babylonian Empire fell to Persia in 539 BC. God worked on the heart of King Cyrus of Persia to allow the Jews to return to Jerusalem and even rebuild the Temple.

Under Zerubbabel’s leadership and Joshua the High Priest, a new foundation was laid to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. Haggai and Zechariah called upon the people to resolve and rebuild the Temple. The rebuilding resumed in 516 BC, which was seventy years after its destruction. God was now truly with His People.

Six decades forward, Ezra is introduced as one devoted to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord. He liked to teach the decrees and laws of the Lord, and even led a large group of exiles on a four month nine-hundred mile journey from Babylon to Jerusalem. Ezra instituted spiritual and social reforms to ensure that this new community in Jerusalem would obey God’s Law and avoid the sins that originally led to the exile.

Meanwhile, in Susa, the Persian capital, Nehemiah was a servant of Artaxerxes. Being a cup-bearer meant he held an influential position as a confidant to the King. He persuaded the king to let him go to Jerusalem to lead the rebuilding of the Temple. Nehemiah and the people overcame opposition in trying to rebuild the Temple and city walls. New life was brought to Jerusalem and it was amazing.

Esther

The Book of Esther, written around 460-400 BC by an anonymous author, covers a period after the exile during the reign of King Xerxes. The Book talks much about a person named Esther who was chosen to become queen, about a plan that was crafted to destroy the Jews (and how it occurred), and about the triumphant Jews.

In the beginning of the book, an exhibition of riches was displayed before the officials and citizens, which lasted for many months. The current queen, Queen Vashti, was asked by the king to display her beauty before drunken men at this banquet, but she refused. This was defiance of the king’s authority, so therefore, she was removed from power. Soon, many young and beautiful women in the land were brought together in the palace, so that the king might choose one of them to be a queen. Among those women was a Jew, whom was also an orphan, named Esther. However, she didn’t make it known she was a Jew. After all the preparations, the women were brought before the king, and then he chose Esther and crowned her.

Now, a man named Haman, the king’s chief minister, had begun to demand people to worship him. Mordecai (cousin of Esther), refused to do this, because he was a Jew and worshiping Haman was against his religion. Haman wanted revenge because of this, and therefore decided to kill all of the Jews. Haman then gained the king’s permission to do so after he spoke that killing the Jews would greatly increase the royal treasury. The king trusted him that he gave Haman his ring, so that Haman could sign legal documents and put things into order. However, Haman had to wait for eleven months before proceeding (to kill them). Haman decreed he would do it, which disturbed many of the people. Mordecai knew that Esther was a Jew and only she could help, so he asked Esther to have the king cancel the decree. God wanted His People alive, and so the urgency was great for Esther to do this, even though she’d be risking her life. However, she agreed to approach the king thusly, and attempt to get the problem resolved.

After a few days had passed, Esther invited the king and Haman to a couple of dinners, in hope to get favor from one or both of them. Haman was positive about the queen, likely flattered that he may have gotten the queen’s approval for killing the Jews. Haman then asked for a royal favor, in hopes to get Mordecai killed right away. However, when Haman made the request to the king, the king was hesitant because Mordecai had saved his life at an earlier time. The king wanted to reward Mordecai, as we see in chapter six. However, Haman didn’t know about the reward, it seems, so Haman was astonished that the honor would go to Mordecai (not execution). Haman was humiliated and felt betrayed by the royal family. Later that night, another dinner was between the king, queen, and Haman, where Esther brought the case before the king that Haman had been plotting to kill the Jews (admitting she was also Jewish) and killing her, and therefore the king was angry because of it. Haman began weeping with anguish before the king, which was interpreted by the king as rape or other form of tactic by Haman to hurt the queen. Therefore, the king wanted Haman immediately executed.

Next, we see Mordecai promoted to chief minister. However, the king’s decree (from Haman’s proposal to kill the Jews) was still intact, but the king gave Mordecai and the queen power to counteract it with a new decree. Therefore, they acted promptly, and gave the Jews permission to do anything they could to defend themselves against attacks on the day (of war against them). When the day came for the Jews to be attacked, only a few of the enemies actually attacked them. However, the Jews fought hard, it seems, and were even given an extra day to defend themselves and get revenge on the enemies. After the Jews won (and survived by the grace of God), a feast was thrown in celebration (which was done every year after that, as well). The book concluded quickly by talking about the reign of Mordecai, and how he helped the Jewish people under his leadership. Mordecai continued rule for many years.

Timeline of events between the exile and return

  • 605 BC – Daniel is taken captive to Babylon (Daniel 1).

  • Daniel interprets King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream about the statue (Daniel 2). The powerful rock that destroys the statue represents the establishment of God’s Eternal Kingdom. The angel Gabriel told Mary that Jesus would rule over this Kingdom forever (Daniel 2:34-35; Luke 1:31-32).

  • God protected Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the fiery furnace (Daniel 3).

  • 597 BC – Ezekiel is taken captive into exile.

  • 593 BC – Ezekiel is called by God to be a prophet/watchman (Ezekiel 1-3).

  • Ezekiel prophesies God’s judgment upon Judah (Ezekiel 4-24).

  • Ezekiel prophesied God’s Judgment on the nations (Ezekiel 25-32).

  • 586 BC – Fall of Judah: Babylon conquered Judah and destroyed the Temple (2 Kings 25; 2 Chronicles 36).

  • 585 BC – Ezekiel received news that Jerusalem had fallen (Ezekiel 33).

  • Ezekiel prophesies God’s restoration of Israel (Ezekiel 34-39).

  • Ezekiel has a vision of a glorious future Temple (Ezekiel 40-48).

  • 571 BC – Ezekiel recorded his last prophecy (Ezekiel 29:17-21).

  • Nebuchadnezzar ends up insane, but soon sanity would return and he worships God (Daniel 4).

  • Daniel has a vision of four beasts, especially “one like a son of man” (Daniel 7). Jesus answered affirmatively in being the Messiah, referring to Daniel’s prophecy of being the “Son of Man” (Daniel 7:13; Mark 14:62; Revelation 1:7; 1:13).

  • Daniel has a vision of a ram and goat (Daniel 8).

  • 539 BC – Daniel interprets the writing on the wall as King Belshazzar’s downfall (Daniel 5).

  • Daniel’s vision of an “abomination” and “seventy sevens” (Daniel 9). Jesus spoke that the abomination of desolation would be a sign of the end times (Daniel 9:27; Matthew 24:15).

  • 538 BC – King Cyrus of Persia allowed exiled Jews to return to Judah (Ezra 1).

  • First Return: Zerubbabel and the High Priest Joshua led the exiles to Jerusalem (Ezra 2).

  • God protected Daniel in the lion’s den (Daniel 6).

  • 535 BC – Daniel recorded the last prophecy of a vision of a man (Daniel 10-12).

  • The Temple foundation was laid, but not as glorious as the first Temple (Ezra 3). Temple construction stalled (Ezra 4).

  • Haggai and Zechariah convince people to continue rebuilding the Temple (Ezra 5:1; 6:14). Zechariah prophesied in his book many things about Jesus Christ that were fulfilled by Him.

  • 516 BC – Temple reconstruction is completed (Ezra 6).

  • Queen Esther saves her people from being annihilated (Esther 1-8).

  • Purim (Feast of Lots) is established (Esther 9-10).

  • 457 BC – Second Return: Ezra led the exiles to Jerusalem (Ezra 7-8).

  • Ezra institutes social and spiritual reforms (Ezra 9-10).

  • Nehemiah heard that Jerusalem’s walls were torn down (Nehemiah 1).

  • 444 BC – Third Return: Nehemiah led the exiles to Jerusalem this time (Nehemiah 2).

  • Under the governance of Nehemiah, the walls of Jerusalem are rebuilt (Nehemiah 3-7).

  • Ezra read the Law and the people confessed their sins (Nehemiah 8-12).

  • Nehemiah went to Persia for a short time and then returned to Jerusalem (Nehemiah 13).

  • Malachi called for a spiritual renewal in Judah. Malachi prophesied that a special prophet would prepare the way for the Messiah, which was fulfilled in John the Baptist (Malachi 3:1; 4:5; Matthew 11:10; Luke 7:26-28).

  • Joel prophesied about the coming Day of the Lord. When the Holy Spirit would come in power upon the disciples, Peter identified this as Joel’s prophecy on pouring out His Spirit upon all people (Joel 2:29; Acts 2:16-21).

An apocalyptic novel of Zechariah

Darius the Great found plenty of trouble when he came to claim the throne of Persia at the death of Cambyses. There were around 19 battles fought before Darius could take his place as leader and head. There was a serious depression, crop failure, and apparent ruin facing the Jewish people, who responded to the call of Haggai to build the Temple. The bluntness of Haggai had its effect, and Zechariah came to the rescue to supplement the needed help. These two Prophets did a significant work in keeping the interest high and the hands busy. Much of the Historical Background is similar to Haggai’s.

Zechariah gives us a marvelous picture of the First Advent of Christ in his humiliation, suffering and death – all fulfilled in the experiences of our Savior, including His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the perfidious betrayal for thirty pieces of silver, the purchase of the potter’s field with the blood money, the piercing and the wounds in the hands and the fountain opened. He also gives us another marvelous picture, which was of the Second Advent of Christ when He shall come in great glory to set up His Kingdom on the earth. His vision into the glories of the future kingdom is excelled only by that which was granted to St. John, the beloved six hundred years later on the Isle of Patmos and recorded in the Book of Revelation, which so strangely reminds us of the Prophecy of Zechariah.

The opening appeal of Zechariah was that a strong and intense Spiritual call to repentance in the Old Testament calls to repent and obey. The visions came to an impatient people who were tired and worn, skeptical as to the blessings and promises, for they were slow in coming. God grants such words of assurance through the book.

Synopsis

Chapter 1: We see a strong and intense spiritual call to repentance and obedience. Visions came to an impatient people who were weary. God grants words of assurance in many different visions (chapters 1-6). The vision we see of The Horsemen is similar to Revelation 6:1-11. These four horsemen are doing patrol through the earth to assure peace and quiet because of God’s presence. Next, is the vision of The Four Horns and The Four Smiths – to which, hostile powers scattered Israel, but these four world powers were being used by God to save Israel.

Chapter 2: We see the vision explained The Man with the Measuring Line, to which, this vision declares that God will re-people, protect and dwell in the city of Jerusalem. God will be a wall about them, and His glory will dwell amidst them. People long for freedom and pray for God’s mercy. He loves His People and He knows the issue of their enemies. God further encourages them to go forth, and that He will be with them.

Chapter 3: This vision shows Joshua Accused by the Adversary, to which he appears with soiled garments. He is a representative of the people and he is forgiven, cleansed, anointed, clothed in rich apparel, and becomes the sign of the Messiah. This is the way that we must appear as a priest before the Lord, for yet He cleanses us, anoints us, and uses us for His service when we are submitting to His Will.

Chapter 4: This vision of The Golden Chandelier and the Two Olive Trees was an encouragement concerning Zerubbabel as truly God’s anointed prince, endowed with power from God to do the work. God’s two anointed leaders Joshua and Zerubbabel, are the instruments (a foreshadow of the Two Witnesses in Revelation).

Chapter 5: This is a vision of The Flying Roll, to which, Israel will enjoy the blessings of God’s promises as they cleanse and purify themselves. The other vision was The Woman in the Ephah, to which, the woman seen sitting in a seven gallon measure is being transported to the Land of Shinar. When the Tempe is built, sin must be carried away.

Chapter 6: The vision of The Four Chariots. Powerful horses, dashing in different directions, represent the four winds of heaven under the control of God as He carries out His promises. Then, there is Jesus and Zechariah at the Coronation scene, to which, we see the definite prediction of the coming Messianic reign of peace and glory.

Chapter 7: People are starting to have questions about different fasts. The Jews instituted four fasts to mourn the destruction of Jerusalem. The Temple was beginning to take shape, and with it rebuilt, should the fasts continue…? Zechariah tells them that those fasts did not have an value in God’s sight anyway. However, people were stubborn and pitied themselves to keep the fasts. Because His People ignored God’s instruction to them through the Prophets, God ignored their prayers in return when the enemy had attacked. Because of this overall, they were taken into captivity.

Chapter 8: Zechariah outlines the blessings that will come to Jerusalem when God dwells there. God’s love for Jerusalem was the reason for such punishment. In the new community of God’s People, there will be no place for fear or violence. Above that, they will enjoy true fellowship with God. People are urged not to waste time mourning over the calamities of the past.

Chapter 9: We start seeing the info about the triumph of the Messiah, for Israel has always looked forward to a messianic day of glory and power. The people longed for the day when all enemies would be destroyed, and righteousness would be established in the land under the rule of the Messiah. Zechariah’s prophecies have been fulfilled in part, and some await – to which, they are not descriptions of historical events that were necessarily written in advance, but they are a revelation of God’s purposes given to instruct, warn, encourage, guide, and inform His People. Of course, we have to note that the fulfillment of prophecies can span many eras/generations – not always immediately. Once God’s judgment is out of the way, the nation would settle down to a life of security, joy, and prosperity.

Chapter 10: We see there are many problems of leadership, to which, the Temple had long been finished and life in Jerusalem was not as it was previously. People were also using idolatrous ways in using objects such as magic charms – however, Zechariah tells them to stop such practices and to trust in God alone. God is angry with Israel’s leaders, those who have no concern for the people that they rule. God plans to replace them with strong and dependable leaders. God’s strength would overthrow the nations’ leaders, and the Jews that were still scattered would also return to their homeland. Those that oppress, God would punish, which would be like a raging fire sweeping through the forests.

Chapter 11: After announcing God’s judgment on Israel’s bad leaders, Zechariah demonstrates that judgment in two short plays. In these plays, he acts as a shepherd, representing the leaders of God’s People. The first play God told Zechariah to act the part of the good shepherd, to which, Zechariah was to look after the people that were oppressed and exploited by bad shepherds. In the second play, Zechariah played the part of a bad shepherd, which was the sort of shepherd that Israel wanted. This cruel and selfish type of leadership was what the people deserved, and this would be God’s means of punishing them.

Chapter 12: Victory shall come, but with mourning. God used Gentile nations to punish His People, but if His desire were to fight for Israel, no enemy attack would be successful. God, though, would strengthen His People and people would give glory to God for Jerusalem’s victory. God’s People may have had a great victory, but it was costly – as many had died, and the mourning was through the land, however, God’s forgiveness was available to all who are genuinely sorry for their disobedience and treachery.

Chapter 13: He talks about false prophets and what the true shepherds are. If a false prophet escapes, for example, he might try to preserve his life by throwing away his prophet’s cloak and disguising himself as a farmer. Zechariah also talks about leadership – the leader of God’s choice would be one who is close to God and would truly care for God’s People. He talks about the true shepherd, which is no doubt, God’s Chosen One, Jesus Christ the Messiah. Some were saved from judgment, and these men would become God’s true people, even though they suffered persecution at the hands of the rebellious.

Chapter 14: God gives His People satisfaction and Israel is compensated for all that was previously lost to plundering armies. Enemies are destroyed in a terrifying judgment. No longer would there be a difference, though, between sacred and non-sacred articles. Everything is holy and fit for the service of God. True holiness will at last be established in the world.

Key passages:

  • 2:13, “Be silent, O all flesh, before the LORD: for he is raised up out of his holy habitation.”
  • 3:1-2, “And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?”
  • 4:6, “Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.” God gives a message of encouragement that He would be with them, by equipping them with His Presence! Using our own strength is pointless, for His Strength shall be equipped unto us!
  • 11:13, “And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD.” This tells us that giving should be in more abundance, not just a little bit, because after all, it all belongs to God anyway.
  • 13:9, “And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.”
  • 14:9, “And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.” This one explains itself, that the Lord shall be King over all the earth – which is a prophecy of the coming Messiah! It’ll be great for people to only worship One God!
  • 14:20, “In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD; and the pots in the LORD’S house shall be like the bowls before the altar.” When people are converted before the Lord, they are ever transformed by His grace and holiness, and therefore, this should be symbolic of divine worship before the altar of the Lord.

Beautiful imagery

  • The Branch: 6:12, “And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD.”
  • The Wounded Hands: 13:6, “And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.”
  • The Shepherd: 13:7, “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones.”

Micah the sympathetic prophet

Micah was a worthy champion of the poor who had courage and power to deliver an effective message. Knowing his people so intimately Micah was able to present in vivid colors the challenge to justice. Micah had great sympathy with the oppressed people. Micah’s spirit burned with righteous indignation as he saw the random injustice practiced upon his friends. Christ is pictured as “The Bethlehemite” in Micah 5:2, and as “The Prince of Peace” in Micah 5:5.

We see they are in the last half of the eighth century, and it finds its place in the golden age of the Old Testament Prophecy – right around 745 BC – to which, Tiglath-Pileser III began his reconquest of the West. Assyria’s armies had casted shadows upon the places of Syria and Israel. The King of Syria, Rezin, and the King of Israel, Pekah, began to depend on the King of Egypt to help them – however, the small kingdoms of the west were under sway from Assyria.

Then, in 705 BC, there was a powerful, young Sennacherib who came to rule in Assyria. Moment-by-moment, Sennacherib’s armies moved into the west – and left none but Jerusalem remaining. Hezekiah and Isaiah, who depended on Yahweh, kept the people from surrender. After that, a deliverance came when 185,000 soldiers were suddenly smitten from what appeared to be Yahweh rescuing His Chosen People. Sennacherib fled back to his own land, and left Hezekiah and his people praising God, their great savior. There was much calamity in this time, and God was determined that His Purposes would work out great, so He led His followers continually.

The country preacher, Micah, had known of the tragic situation in Judah and Israel for the priests there were moral and corrupt. Prophets were hirelings, and nobles took an odd pleasure in defrauding the poor. The nation overall was ready for a collapse. The princes, priest, prophets, and the people were all responsible for the downfall. Callous greed and cruelty mark the ungodly conduct of the hour.

The people didn’t want any of the preaching, except the weak, insipid variety that would allow them to go on in their way without embarrassment. They were involved in soothsaying, witchcraft, superstition, and idolatry. Sadly, they lacked honesty, integrity, and trustworthiness. The sins involved were oppression of the poor, unscrupulous use of power, lack of integrity, reckless scorn of religion, false prophecy and false prophets, and greedy corruption in the church and state.

  • Micah was a native of a small village near the Philistine border, which was called Morsheth-Gath – which was about 20 miles from Jerusalem and about 17 miles from Tekoa.
  • Micah was a country man who was disgusted about the residents of the cities. However, he learned to love his capital city with a sincere devotion.
  • He was naturally suspicious.
  • He was keenly aware of world events and their significance, even though he was a peasant farmer.
  • His contemporaries were Amos and Hosea in the north and Isaiah in the south.
  • He had ethical integrity, courage, and the unflinching truthfulness in speaking the whole counsel of God unto the city folk.
  • He had a personality like Amos and Elijah. He loved his land, capital city, and the poor. He had a passion for righteousness, which drove him forth with a good word for those lacking ethical standards.
  • He was somewhat unsophisticated and rustic, but always a seeker of justice and mercy for his peasant friends – the ones that suffered so bitterly.
  • He was a truly tender-hearted Prophet of the people, especially a champion of the poor. His name means, “Who is like Yahweh?”

The issue was Jehovah’s past and present controversy with Israel. God entered into a controversy with the whole nation. He speaks about their sin as well as impending judgment. Yahweh’s controversy with Judah, Israel, and all the nations of his chosen, was their iniquities.

His view of God:

  • He is a judge, according to 1:3, 6; 3:12.
  • He is a God of ethical righteousness, according to 6:8; 2:1-2; 3:2-3, 10-11; 7:2.
  • He is a God who loves peace, according to 4:3; 5:5.
  • He is a God of hope and promise, according to 7:7, 18-20.
  • He is a God that gathers the remnant unto Himself, according to 2:12.

Oh if people of our day would view God similarly! 🙂

Micah’s prophecies of Jesus Christ

  • Second Advent of Messiah (2:12-13)
  • Millennial Restoration (chapter 4; Isaiah 2:1)
  • First Advent of Messiah and his redemptive work necessary first as a guarantee for eternal restoration (5:1-3).
  • Israel to be delivered from the antichrist by the Messiah at the Second Advent (5:4-6).
  • Israel to be restored at the return of the Messiah (5:7-15)
  • New Testament: Matthew 2:5-6 speaking of Micah and Christ speaks of Micah when commissioning His Twelve Disciples (compare Micah 7:6 with Matthew 10:35-36).

“God is my judge” – The prophet named Daniel

OVERALL:

  • Daniel was a statesman Prophet as the others were.
  • His name means, “God is my Judge.”
  • He mainly wrote to “The Gentile Rulers in Babylon” – which included the Chaldean, Mede, and Persian.
  • He was a “kingdom” man, because he seemed to always have knowledge of the political realm, but also was given visions of the future coming of the Kingdom of God!
  • He seemed to be the only Prophet who didn’t just picture Christ as just a shepherd, but he pictured Christ as a coming ruler of the world! The other Prophets seemed to picture Christ as being around for a temporary era or some other kind of symbolic form.

Historical background of Daniel

Daniel was carried captive to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar at the time of the first invasion, which was in the third year of Jehoiakim. Ezekiel was then taken to Babylon in the second invasion, to which, was eight years later than Daniel and eleven years before the complete destruction of Jerusalem. Ezekiel and Daniel had ministered entirely outside of Palestine, however, Daniel’s Ministry was to powerful Gentile rulers, whereas Ezekiel’s Ministry was to poor Jewish exiles. It was established that Ezekiel and Daniel were Prophets at the same time. Though they did not work hand-in-hand, they still carried out God’s Will.

In Jerusalem overall, the people are in constant turmoil. Jehoiakim is succeed by his son, who reigned only three months before going to captivity in Babylon along with many others in Judah. Daniel was taken in a group along with other captives to Babylon. Zedekiah was left on the throne in Jerusalem as the agent of the Babylonian government, and Jeremiah was the preacher still in the Holy City of Jerusalem to carry God’s message to the people.

Around 587 BC, Nebuchadnezzar returned to put down the rebellion of Zedekiah and take the rest of the people to join the exiles by the river Chebar. Many things were destroyed in Jerusalem, and others were taken away to captivity, to which, Jeremiah’s prophecy had happened. In Babylon, conditions were just as horrible. We see Daniel and a few other Jewish boys come in 605 BC, and Ezekiel and the upper class brought in 598 BC.

It is believed that he belonged to a family of high ranking and possibly of the royal house. He was taken, then, in the first group when the aristocracy was deported. He was taken into captivity in Babylon at age 16, and the remainder of his life (which was 69 years) was spent in Babylon, where he lived a saintly life in a sinful court. Ezekiel referred to Daniel as a pattern of piety, a ruler of righteousness. Daniel was of a despised servile people, and yet, he never deviated in his devotion to Jehovah.

Daniel rose to positions of highest power under four absolute monarchs of three different nations – Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar of Chaldea; Darius of Media; and Cyrus of Persia.

He compares with Revelation and Ezekiel as an Apocalyptic Prophet – which would be a writer concerning the end times. It says in Daniel 7:15, “I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me.” He had many visions, especially of the end times, and it took a toll on his mindset (good and bad). He was faithful to God, even in a foreign land to the point of disobeying the King. He was pious, and wanted to keep his piety and was willing to risk his life for it. He also refused to sinfully bow down to the idols they had offered. He ministered to the Gentile rulers by interpreting dreams and visions, to which, he was a true prophet and discerner of things. His warning to those in the future was about the Second Coming of Christ, which involved end-time events people needed to be aware.

The Monarchs ruling in Daniel’s day

  • Nebuchadnezzar of Chaldea – He was the second king of Babylon; succeeding his father on the throne in 604 BC and reigned until 561 BC. Daniel 1:1 says this, “In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it.” Appears Nebuchadnezzar came to besiege Jerusalem, and he seemed to be a power hungry leader – who cared very little for the captives.
  • Belshazzar of Chaldea – A free drinker (he seemed to like the bottle very much as we see in the fifth chapter of Daniel); he was the Chaldean king under whom Babylon was taken by Darius of Median.
  • Darius of Mede/Median – The son of Xerxes (9:1) was reigning now over the Chaldeans. In 6:1, we see that he was placed over the kingdom of a hundred and twenty princes. Daniel was the first (an important figure).
  • Cyrus of Persia – He led Persia in its conquest of Babylon in 539 BC, and was important for bringing God’s purposes in Israel to fulfillment, as we see in Isaiah 45:1. He gave the Jews that were held captive the permission to return to their homeland and rebuild their life and religion (as we see in Ezra 1:1-4).

Jesus sealed this book

Jesus set His seal upon this book as “inspired of God” in Matthew 24:15 – to which, was quoted previously, and His own title, “Son of Man,” was based on Daniel 7:13. Both the Lord Jesus and Daniel prophesy the “coming in the clouds with power and glory” – as we see in Daniel 7:13-14 and Matthew 24:30.

Three major divisions of his writings

  1. The Prologue of Daniel (1-2:45) – Daniel as he grew up, and the hard times that he faced were explained, especially under Nebuchadnezzar. Also, we see Nebuchadnezzar’s dream unfold, and Daniel wanted to help interpret it.
  2. The Promotion of Daniel (2:46-6:28) – Because of Daniel interpreting Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, he was promoted to Chief Administrator of the Kingdom and Head over his Council of Advisers. Daniel revealed another dream of Nebuchadnezzar’s and urged him to repent, to which, he finally submitted humbly to God. Later, new leaders over his region not knowing his record with Nebuchadnezzar, he was accused of different things. He also rejected bowing down or attending to the new religious law they made, so he was punished into the lion’s den – to which, God miraculously saved him and it was a sign unto the people that God was great.
  3. The Previews of Daniel (7-12:13) – Daniel has several different apocalyptic visions of Jesus and the end times, to which, he describes in incredible detail.

Dream of the “image” interpreted

What Nebuchadnezzar saw was a huge statue made of a variety of substances, from head to toe, decreased in value but increased in strength. The fee, however, which supported the statue were brittle. A huge stone, which was supernaturally formed, struck the statue at its feet so that the whole thing would crumble to dust and be blown away. The stone, however, grew into a mountain, which covered the whole earth.

The dream concerned the future of the King’s Kingdom, to which, the climax of the coming events would lead. Its main purpose was to show Nebuchadnezzar that God is the sovereign ruler of the world – and that He sets up kingdoms and destroys the same with His Own Will.

Therefore, the Medo-Persian Empire (which was the chest and arms of silver) would soon replace the mighty Babylonian Empire headed by Nebuchadnezzar (the head of gold) as the ruling power. The Medo-Persian Empire would be replced by the Greek Empire (which is typified by the belly and thighs of bronze).

Finally, the Roman Empire will take it last (legs of iron) and also take in more scattered states. However, it wouldn’t be able to holds its empire together in a stable union (symbolized by the feet that were part iron, part clay and brittle).

During such time in the Roman Empire then, God would intervene and the might empires would crumble before the coming of the supernatural king, Jesus Christ. How incredible! The supernatural stone coming to smash the feet typified this. The Kingdom of God introduced by Jesus Christ would overspread the world and last eternally (to which, is finally symbolized by the great mountain that filled the earth).

The values Daniel taught all people

  • The Lord should be glorified, because He is our deliverer. ·        We should encourage each other and build each other up as well.
  • We should resist the forces and enemies of our faith.
  • We should learn and attend to the vision and Prophecies of the end times, so we can get a more glorious picture of Christ.
  • We are to be a witness of the end time revelation, based on how God leads us to acknowledge His glory!
  • Though we face hard times and trial, we must always stand up for what we believe in – because in the end: God works everything out for the good.
  • We don’t have to worry, because God is our provider.
  • He is excellent in every way and will give us opportunities to minister unto people – where He will reveal His glory to that person being ministered to.

The value of chapter 6

Chapter 6 is a favorite chapter, because it shows the most intense fear anyone can face is when they fear for their life – but, ultimately, it shows that Daniel’s uncompromising belief in God, especially His Salvation, would free Him from it and He would be glorified in the end. Even through potentially intense fear, Daniel instead chose to believe in God’s Salvation and knew He would be there in the end!

  • When Daniel returned to his high office, he had troubles because Babylon has just fallen the night he was reinstated to office. The new rulers were aware of his record under Nebuchadnezzar, so they made him one of the three presidents that would help administrate.
  • He had great abilities, and the other two presidents became jealous of him, so they wanted him out. However, they didn’t find any kind of mismanagement or offense to bring against him, so they crafted a strategy to cause him to stumble.
    • The object of their plunder was to bring in a new religious law that Daniel would not obey, because of “religious” or “pious” beliefs.
    • They weaseled their way right into the king’s hand by making him believe that the three presidents came up with the idea together, and therefore, King Darius agreed to the order. o   When Daniel heard of the new law, it was already approved and sealed from the King, to which, he could do nothing. He made no effort to obey it, because of his piety.
    • The other two presidents worked out a way to catch him in the act so they could accuse him to the King. They had him condemned finally and then thrown into the den of lions – even if the King didn’t want it to happen like that.
    • God, however, had a different plan, and decided to deliver Daniel – which showed that God was glad that Daniel did not sin. This also showed that Daniel did not do anything against the King, and that God would be made known to them as merciful and good – therefore, they had believed that the God of David was good and that they approve!
  • Daniel continued to prosper in the administration!

The man wise enough to stand up to Jezebel and godly enough to make many miracles | Elijah the prophet

After the death of Samuel, the newly formed kingdom of Israel suffered severely by the Philistines. The greatest invasion resulted in the death of King Saul and his son Jonathan – to which, David came to the throne of the tribe of Judah and finally was elevated to King over all Israel. However, in 931 BC, a division came, to which, Rehoboam was left with the smaller of the two kingdoms. In the North, Jeroboam was given the larger portion, and led the people into idolatry and pagan worship.

After 50 years of disaster and turmoil, we see Omri come to the head of the government to stop the anarchy, conquer Moab, establish a monarchy, build Samaria, and create a treaty with Syria. Ahab had become the successor to Omri. The coming of Jezebel meant more idolatry, especially in Baal worship. To please the strong-willed Jezebel, Ahab built in Samaria a temple for Baal worship, Asherah worship, and Phoenician worship.

Elijah’s name meant “Like God,” and he was given the task to be a Prophet during the era of Baal worship. This worship is of “mere power” or the worship of evil in general. In later days, the Jews designated this “Tyrian deity” the prince of devils. He also dealt with severe immorality, to which, the prophets of Yahweh were persecuted and killed. Many hid in caves for their own safety.

Jezebel then imported priests and prophets to do her bidding, to which, Elijah faced some of the darkest hours of his life. Anyway, Elijah was born and grew up in Gilead on the east of Jordan, to which, he was a Tishbite. He was described as a hairy man and one that wore a leather girdle. The New Testament states that Elijah (or Elias) was a man subject to like passions as we are even today.

Miracles done by Elijah

  1. First miracle, which appears at the court of Ahab, which announces the long drought would be broken only by God’s Word through the prophet. This was good, because it avoided any famine or furthering of famine conditions.
  2. Second miracle, he is fed by the ravens twice a day at the Brook Cherith. God intended that Elijah stay alive and be provided for, and just as the birds were provided for, the birds – by God – provided for him.
  3. Third miracle: God uses Elijah to multiply meal and oil daily. After seeing the Lord’s provision for him, he knew that God would provide for others, so God uses him to multiply for provisions.
  4. Fourth miracle, God uses him to restore the widow’s son to life. She calls Elijah a man of God. Just as Elijah did, later Elisha does a similar miracle – how glorious to see Elisha follow in the footsteps of his predecessor.
  5. Fifth miracle, on Mount Carmel there is a test as to whose God is God…to which, God answers by fire; the prophets of “Baal” are killed and rain comes in to answer Elijah’s prayer. Elijah hated idolatry, and was glad that much of it was rid of here.
  6. Sixth and Seventh miracles, we see rain and a 30 mile foot race is done, where Elijah outruns King Ahab who is driving his chariot. Elijah is equipped by the power of God, and will run the race as God empowers him!
  7. (The seventh is explained just above with sixth.)
  8. Eighth miracle, we learn of the “Juniper tree” experience, which the Juniper tree is well known of the cedar family. Elijah asks that he might die, and an Angel supernaturally strengthens him. Two times the Angel speaks to him and tells him to arise and eat, and finally the Angel speaks to him, “the journey is too great for thee.” Elijah arises and eats for the second time, and then “he went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the Mount of God.” Through this experience, he is challenged by God to return to anoint Hazael, Jehu, and Elisha.
  9. Ninth miracle, Elijah announces doom on Ahab and wicked Jezebel. Once again, Elijah sought to take care of idolatrous ways, and seeking an end to Baal.
  10. Tenth miracle, Elijah promises respite to Ahab, and God will delay punishment to the days of his son.
  11. Eleventh miracle, this is the prophecy of Elijah that pertained to the sickness and death of Jehoram.
  12. Twelfth miracle, this is the prediction or prophecy of death, the death of King Ahaziah.
  13. Thirteenth and Fourteenth miracle, this is the prophecy concerning King Ahaziah, who inquired of another god and Elijah stopped the messengers on their way to ask of their god. Elijah told them there was a God in Israel and because they found out info of the god Ekron, the King would die. They pushed in on Elijah and it resulted in fire from Heaven, which was the death of 102 men.
  14. (The fourteenth is explained just above with thirteenth.)
  15. Fifteenth miracle, we see that this is the miracle of the parting of the River Jordan as Elisha follows Elijah and the translation of Elijah is near. Elijah inquired of Elisha, “Ask what I shall do for thee” – to which, Elisha answers, “let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me.” Elijah promises this shall come as long as “if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so.”
  16. Sixteenth miracle, this is the miracle of imparting a double portion of his own spirit upon Elisha. Elijah spends many quiet years teaching young men, especially Elisha, who would carry on the prophetic work. He is gloriously translated while Elisha looks on and receives the commission to continue the great work.

Elijah’s character

Elijah was a sturdy, virile, daring man from the wilds of Gilead. He had an iron constitution, as the text explains, an austere spirit, majestic somehow, flaming indignation, consuming zeal, and courageous nature which set him forth as a man of romance and mystery. He was strong and yet weak; a zeal so limitless with energy. He had a tremendous grip on the ways of God and he had unusual power in prayer. He hated false religions, among other idolatries. He was unselfish, merciless, and cruel in his treatment of the Baal prophets. He was on fire for God doing His Will! Overall, he was a man of prevailing prayer, a man of faith, and one of the most dramatic appearances and exits. It is said of him, “he went through history like a meteor.”

Jesus spoke of Elijah

Jesus speaks of Elijah (Elias) in Luke 4:25, “But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land.” He speaks this about Elijah after He talks about healing and other activities to do in that area that He did in another area, and He says that, “no prophet is accepted in his own country.” Palestine was filled with poor people even in times of plenty, it seemed, and therefore, there must have been large numbers of hungry people during the famine. He said that nobody sent Elijah to do miracles over there, so why should He Himself be sent or go Himself to relieve the famine? That’s what He questions in that short explanation.

The point in this Scripture is that many people had compared Jesus to Elijah and vice-versa, because of all the miracles both had conducted. They frequently referred back to Elijah and would generalize that, for example, “if this happens…why you (Jesus) don’t do as Elijah did?” Jesus was calling them out in this questioning, because He knew that He was being faithful to the Will of God, and wanted them to realize that He doesn’t want to continue to be compared to Elijah – but that, He is doing miracles as God Wills them to be done. He reflects the Father in every way and does what He sees the Father doing; therefore, His ways are perfect. However, all this explanation did was anger the people there that He was instructed, and they wanted Him thrown out.

Comparing Elijah with John the Baptist

The answer for this is recorded in Luke 1:5-7; 15-17: “There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

As we see here, John the Baptist is similar to Elisha, in that; he received the spirit and power of Elijah, which would be fulfillment of the prophecy that Elijah shall come again. The Jews expected Elijah as the forerunner of the Messiah. John showed the spirit of Elijah in his clothing, in his life in general, and in his messages of repentance.

Elijah was a sign of the coming of the Lord

We see in Malachi 4:5 a prophecy, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” Elijah is part of the last prophecy in the Old Testament, which concerns the return of Elijah the prophet to Earth, from Heaven, shortly before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. During this occurrence, there will be a great revival and outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon all flesh and all of Israel will be saved because of the ministry of the “Two Witnesses.” It seems the Scripture is worded in a way that Elijah would be one of the “Two Witnesses” mentioned in Revelation 11:2-12. Some believe the second witness is Enoch, because both Enoch and Elijah did not see natural death. Some point to Moses.

We see Elijah and Moses together in Scripture during the transfiguration of Christ to Peter, James, and John his brother on the high mountain. Here is a snippet: “And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.”

Elijah and Jesus Christ compared

ElijahJesus Christ
Elijah called on God’s People to repent during a period of great unfaithfulness (1 Kings 19:14-18)Jesus announced the Kingdom of God that had come at the exact time God prepared it to do so (Mark 1:15)
Ravens were sent to care for Elijah in the desert, and an angel fed him during a 40 day journey in the wilderness (1 Kings 17:6; 19:3-8)Angels took care of Jesus while He was on a 40 day fast in the desert (Matthew 4:2; 4:11; Mark 1:13; Luke 4:2)
Elijah raised from the dead a widow’s son (1 Kings 17:17-24)Jesus raised from the dead a widow’s son in Nain (Luke 7:11-15)
Elijah was able to call down fire from Heaven to rain down upon his enemies (2 Kings 1:12)Jesus refused for His disciples to call fire from Heaven to rain down upon His enemies (Luke 9:52-56)
Elijah had one disciple, Elisha, who left his oxen to follow Elijah (1 Kings 19:19-21)Jesus called 12 disciples, who left their lives at home and served and followed Jesus (Matthew 4:18-22)

What is The Kingdom of God

We are transitioning from the beginning of Christ’s Ministry to His Teachings. From this point forward, He begins talking about the Kingdom of God in Parables. There are many allegories involved along with a few literal teachings. Before beginning, it is important to discern what the Bible says the Kingdom of God is, and how it applies to believers.

It is of caution to recognize there are many heretics (not necessarily false teachers) that are ministering incorrect teachings about the Kingdom of God and giving maligned views of Revelation or Eschatological language. Some of these heretics do not mean to mislead you; however, be wary of anyone teaching a doctrine that is unbiblical or errs from the typical doctrine of the Bible (2 Timothy 4:3-4; Romans 16:17-18; Colossians 2:8).

We must stay true to God’s Word, that is The Holy Bible, for all manner of truth and do not trust man’s philosophies. That is why, with this website’s ministry, we stay true to the Word of God!

What is true about Kingdom of God teachings: Within us is the spiritual house of God, where we raise spiritual sacrifices. No building made by hands needed. (1 Peter 2:5; Ephesians 2:19-22).

The manifestation of the Kingdom of God in our life is the following: Not food and drink or even idolatrous things, but the things that bring about peace and up-building such as spiritual qualities and good character. The Holy Ghost is the one that causes these characteristics and qualities to come about! We read about this in Romans 14:17.

God erects an individual tabernacle (not a literal Kingdom) in the hearts of men so that the Holy Ghost may dwell within and work with the believer on pursuing godliness so that he is ready for the Coming Kingdom of God – the one that is eternal and expansive to contain all Christians. Absent from the mortal body, but present with the Lord God!

The Basis of Salvation into the Kingdom of God:

  • John 3:16-21
    1. We have this beautiful revelation of Jesus Christ when we are saved.
    2. We have the assurance that we receive eternal life, and not perish. This means that we don’t die, even when our physical bodies die. Our conscious and spirit overall (what many equate overall to our soul) will be with God forever and ever spending time with Him. We must explore this further.
  • The way we live our lives
    1. We commonly live our lives hoping for an afterlife, and we will see it according to the verse we read above.
    2. We, however, must keep in mind that we are to believe in Him…therefore, others that don’t believe will not be saved. They will not be able to spend eternity with Him.
    3. But God wants us to believe upon Him so that we can spend eternity with Him!
    4. We proclaim Him as our Father and we hope that we can spend eternity with Him, therefore, we have the assurance in the Bible that we have eternal life, so at the end of our physical bodies – that is, when our Earthly bodies cannot function further, our soul is placed into a Heavenly Body so it is fit for eternity. We can eat of the Tree of Life and have Eternity, but only through Christ. Let’s explore!

Path to Eternal Life and Heaven

  • Romans 3:23 & 6:23
    1. All have sinned and fall short of God’s Glory
    2. The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
  • Romans 5:8
    1. Christ came and died for us while we were still sinners, for God sent Him because He loves us!
  • 1 John 5:11-13
    1. God has given us eternal life, which that life comes through His Son.
    2. We have eternal life! It is a gift unto us.
    3. Many have said that we already have it now; however, I say unto you that we may already possess it, but we are in this human body still and must complete the race of time before we are placed into the permanent dwelling place for eternity to spend with God. Our Spirit is bound for eternity with God, but we need to complete our human body experience first and help others obtain this gift. When we are saved, we have “locked in this gift” and it cannot be stolen away from us. We can reap the blessings of this gift when our physical bodies lay to rest, and our new resurrected body comes alive by Christ:
      • John 5:24-29
        • Our human bodies may be put to rest, but our soul will pass out of death and into eternal life as we see here in this verse. Christ has prepared for this event to occur and He will bring it to completion, as we see in Philippians 1:6.
      • John 6:51
        • Notice here that we will be raised up at the Last Day. When is the last day? We can safely assume the last day means the last day that we dwell on Earth; we will be immediately raised up. This means that our gift will be in reaping mode once we are raised. God has sown into our lives a gift, but the reaping of it shall be after this human body experience has passed.
      • Now, we have life in our human body experience, because humans were granted mortality, as we see in the story of Adam and Eve, the first humans. Originally, humans had access to the Tree of Life, however, since Man sinned, he chose the wrong path and partook of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which granted mortality to Man for as long as Earth stood, and the Tree of Life was guarded because it was only for the righteous. However, we learn through the Life of Jesus that He is the Tree of Life and we have access due to His Sacrifice for us! He obtained access to the Tree of Life for us, and through Him we can partake of this and have immortality, which means our old bodies will be put away and a new Heavenly body will be given for us to dwell in (just like Jesus’ body was after He resurrected).
        • Romans 5:12-21
          1. We see by one man sin entered the world (Adam), and therefore so did mortality. All humans are considered as sinners then.
          2. Even before the Law, mortality existed, and after the Law of Moses was established, death continued. Therefore, death is existent apart from the Law, so even if we as Christians are not under the Law, we are subject to death of the human body (and Spiritual death if we don’t become saved through Jesus Christ).
          3. One man, Jesus Christ, wherein we are then justified, gives us the gift of grace. We receive grace and righteousness through Jesus Christ. The disobedience of Adam that caused us to be made sinners is invalid because of the obedience of Jesus that brought to us righteousness. This righteousness brings us eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord, to which, we are no longer subject to death by sin.
        • 1 Peter 1:3-9
          1. Jesus Christ obtained for us a lively hope, to which, we will receive an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, which will not fade away. This is reserved in Heaven for us (which means we don’t have access right this time, but will have as we pass from death to life).
          2. We greatly rejoice because of the temptations that are upon us, because we have glory in the future that will far outweigh this (Romans 8:18). The salvation of our souls is the great inheritance we look forward to!
        • Revelation 2:7, 22:14
          1. Those that overcome will eat of the Tree of Life, so hold on for we will have our inheritance as we pass from death to life.
          2. We have right to the Tree of Life and have right to enter into the gates of the city once we make it in the afterlife, which shall be in the New Jerusalem!
        • Our new Heavenly Body is described in Philippians 3:20-21
          1. Christ shall change us from our vile human body to be a more glorious body.
          2. (See also 1 Corinthians 15:51; Colossians 3:4; and 1 John 3:2.)
          3. Describing the Lord’s appearing and the resurrection of the saints who have died, Paul writes, “Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians  4:17).
            • When Jesus was transfigured (or changed) before the eyes of some of His disciples and they glimpsed His heavenly glory, we’re told that Moses and Elijah appeared with Him — proof that we retain our individuality in heaven (see Luke 9:28-36).
            • The Bible declares that when we arrive in heaven, we will “be like him [Jesus]; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). Just as our earthly bodies were of the first man Adam, so will our resurrection bodies be just like Christ’s (1 Corinthians 15:47). “And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:49, 53). Many people recognized Jesus after His resurrection (John 20:16, 20; 21:12; 1 Corinthians 15:4-7). If Jesus was recognizable in His glorified body, we also will be recognizable in our glorified bodies.
      • Heaven was never brought to Earth and it is not coming here. Jesus was sent from Heaven, which means He came from a place. He came to conduct a mission that God sent Him on, which was Kingdom business. If Heaven were truly on Earth and in things around us, we wouldn’t be facing evil, struggles, imperfections, etc. Anyone believing we have Heaven already on Earth is following delusions from false teachings, for we have yet to experience the glory of His Majesty.
        1. John 18:36 (we also see some of this in John 3:16-21 that we read earlier)
      • After all His Majesty is too much for people to bear – as we see in the case of Moses who had to wear a veil over his face because people saw the glory of God on him (as we see in Exodus 34:29-35). People couldn’t partake the glory of the Lord either in the Temple, for a veil had to be in the Temple of Old (As we see in Exodus 30). The Lord would purposely separate Himself from people because of sin.
        1. However, when Jesus was crucified and said it is finished, the veil tore in two from top to bottom so that we may no longer be separated from God, which would be through the atonement of Jesus Christ. We have eternal life because of Jesus Christ, which allows us to behold His glory when we pass from death to life! We see this in Matthew 27:51 that the veil was rent from top to bottom. Also, look at Hebrews 6:19-20 and 10:19-22.
      • Jesus promises that He will come and rescue us and bring us unto Himself: John 14:1-6
      • Jesus promises to send us the Comforter to be within us so that He may dwell with us forever. He will also guide us into all truth, therefore helping us stay in relationship with God, being righteous, and helping others. John 14:16-20, 25-26.
      • We now belong to God because we are not of this world, for when we receive the Holy Spirit, we are considered bound for Heaven. John 15:19.
      • We receive the Comforter so it bears witness of Christ and reminds us of Him, so that we can share Him with others. We see more in John 15:26-27.
        1. We see the promise fulfilled in Acts 2:33.

Heaven is a place all look forward to seeing, and we should love the plan that God has for us. The first promise that many liken about Heaven is the fact that there will no longer be any suffering, tears, and pain. This is great news, for suffering is the cause of so much anxiety and depression, and therefore, it will be eradicated, because God is preparing to transfer us into His Kingdom once we pass from death to life. We see this all in Revelation 21:4. This is great news.

More great news can be found in Revelation 4:8-11. Now, that is awesome. They worship God and proclaim His Name without ceasing! He is highly exalted and has such greatness and power. This is beautiful and something that we should look forward to being able to do, is to worship Him forever and ever; being in His midst; seeing His beauty; and spending all of eternity with Him. We see that the River of Life flows from His throne in Revelation 14:2. The glory of God is the beauty of life, involving things so beyond life!

We see that we will one day be part of the New Jerusalem, which shall descend out of Heaven after Christ’s return. We see this fully described in Revelation 21. It states that we will have a New Heaven and New Earth – the old has passed away. The very tabernacle of God will be with humans – which is saying that God will actually dwell with humans HIMSELF! This is not talking about the tabernacle within us – which explains the fact that we have a “holding place” for the Holy Ghost to live within us. This is talking about the Tabernacle of God being with His People.

Throughout the 21st chapter of Revelation, we see that John is taken on this journey and noting all of what he saw, which includes what was in the city, the gates of the city, the fine details and gems that decorate the city – he couldn’t put down all of what he saw most likely, because it was such splendor so difficult to put into words. It would be so awesome if we had gotten this same revelation and be able to have our mind blown by this. It blows my mind just trying to make sense of what John wrote, but also The Holy Spirit telling me that there is so much more than what you see here in these verses. It makes me want to shout with joy!

We are given the hope of eternal life and here is the proof from the Bible: “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son” (1 John 5:11). We have further evidence of life after death based upon the words of Jesus Himself in John 5:24-29: “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned. In the Synoptic Gospels and the Pauline Letters, eternal life is generally regarded as a future experience, but the Gospel of John differs from them in its emphasis on eternal life as a “present possession”.

In John, those who accept Christ can possess life “here and now” as well as in eternity, for they have “passed from death to life”, as in John 5:24: “He who hears my word, and believes him that sent me, has eternal life, and comes not into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.”

When we pray, “our Father who art in heaven,” we are implying that heaven, at least in one of its most common uses, is where God the Father is. For example, 1 Corinthians 2:7 reads, “We impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages.” Where God dwells may not be a geographic place, but definitely somewhere we cannot fathom or understand. This means that Jesus, even though he has a body, is with God in heaven, which is outside the material universe. His People, the Christians who are truly saved will be part of that same with God once our mortal lives are complete and our body is transferred to our new immortal body just as Jesus’ was.

Further Reading for Apologetic Reasons

There are many that would attempt to bewitch you; however, the explanations above should undo the bewitching. Nonetheless, if you as a fellow believer (I hope) would like to dive deeper in research, which verifies everything said above, see the entire book of Hebrews.

To shortcut a bit, there is information you should be aware of that will help clear your mind immediately, which is believed to be a great blessing to you. See below:

  • The Temple is now Eternal in the Heavens (the entirety of the Temple with all pieces is with Christ in the Heavens, because He is now the High Priest (see Hebrews). Reference 2 Corinthians 5:1. In the Epistle to the Hebrews we are taught that the true holy of holies is the heaven into which Jesus has now entered to appear in virtue of His own sacrifice in the presence of God for us (Hebrews 9:11). Restriction is now removed, and the way into the holiest is made open for all His people that are saved (Hebrews 10:19-20).
  • The presence of Aaron’s staff in the Ark is fitting, since Jesus serves as our High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-15).
  • Jesus Sacrificed His Life for our sins. When Jesus did this, the curtain in the Temple which separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place was torn in two, from top to bottom” (Matthew 27:51). Sin no longer separated men from God, because once for all time, Jesus appeared and removed our sin by giving His own life as a holy sacrifice” (Hebrews 9:26).
  • Jesus also said He did not come to abolish the law or the prophets, but to fulfill their purpose (Matthew 5:17). Isaiah said the Messiah would exalt and honor the law (Isaiah 42:21)
  • Paul described how Jesus rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law because, when he was crucified, he took the curse for our wrongdoing upon Himself (Galatians 3:13)
  • The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world (John 6:32-33)
  • The Ark foreshadowed the coming of Jesus and the events surrounding his resurrection. Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice. As our High Priest, Jesus entered the Most Holy Place and secured our redemption forever with His own blood rather than the blood of animals (Hebrews 9:12).
  • The overall Kingdom of God is located within Heaven, and His People have their names written there, so that they will transfer to Him in eternity (Hebrews 12:23).

We welcome any commentary or additional discussion on this in the comments.