The truth

The angel Gabriel’s second visit to Daniel was opposed by Satanic forces. Gabriel told Daniel, “Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine hart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia. Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days” (Daniel 10:12-14). Gabriel described for Daniel the spiritual battle that took place as a result of his prayer to understand the vision he had. It took both Gabriel and Michael, two archangels of God, fighting against the prince of the kingdom of Persia to overcome him, and the battle lasted twenty one days.

Gabriel told Daniel he would show him what was noted in “the scripture of truth” (Daniel 10:21). The exact meaning of this phrase is unknown, but Gabriel may have been referring to the divine record of the destinies of all human beings (note on Daniel 10:21). Gabriel’s reference to the scripture of truth indicates that God keeps a record of the events in his realm in the same way that earthly kings do (note on Psalm 51:1). This record is believed to include a list of the righteous, whom God blesses with life (note on Psalm 69:28). David prayed that his enemies would be “blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous” (Psalm 69:28). Moses interceded for God’s people and said, “Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written” (Exodus 32:32). Gabriel told Daniel, “there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince” (Daniel 10:21). Apparently, only the two archangels, Gabriel and Michael have access to this record.

Gabriel said to Daniel, “And now will I shew thee the truth” (Daniel 11:2). The Hebrew word translated truth  is emeth (571). Emeth is a shortened form or contraction of the word aman (539) which means to believe or have belief. Aman appears in Genesis 15:6 where it says that Abraham “believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.” In other words, God recorded Abraham’s belief in his book of righteousness. What Gabriel showed Daniel, was a detailed account of a conflict between the north and south that would ultimately lead to a power struggle between Jesus and the agent of Satan, Antichrist for the kingdom of God. In conclusion, Gabriel said of Antichrist, “And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him” (Daniel 11:45). Gabriel’s mention of the battle of Armageddon (Revelation 16:13-16) indicated that even before Jesus was born, it was predestined that in his first coming to the earth, he would be rejected by God’s people, and then, in his second coming be proclaimed as Savior, not only of the Israelites, but of the entire world.

Advertisements

A reliable source

The false prophets that assured the people of Judah there was no threat of war with the Babylonians made it difficult for Jeremiah to convince them God was about to destroy their nation. King Zedekiah in particular made a mockery of Jeremiah’s preaching. The king’s bad influence on the people showed evidence that the nation of Judah was beyond hope. It says of king Zedekiah in Jeremiah 37:2, “But neither he, nor his servants, nor the people of the land, did hearken unto the word of the LORD, which he spake by the prophet Jeremiah.” The Hebrew word hearken, shama means to hear with one’s heart. The king of Judah and his people were spiritually cut-off and no longer responsive to the Holy Spirit.

Jeremiah’s situation was becoming dangerous because he refused to lie to the people. It says in Jeremiah 37:11-12, “And it came to pass, that when the army of the Chaldeans was broken up from Jerusalem for fear of Pharaoh’s army, then Jeremiah went forth out of Jerusalem to go into the land of Benjamin, to separate himself thence in the midst of the people.” Because he left the city, Jeremiah was accused of deserting and was beaten and put in prison. While Jeremiah was in prison, king Zedekiah came to him secretly and asked him, “Is there any word from the LORD?” (Jeremiah 37:17). Even though Zedekiah didn’t believe Jeremiah’s message, meaning he didn’t act according to what Jeremiah said, the king still wanted to know what was going to happen.

Jeremiah taunted Zedekiah by asking the question, “Where are now your prophets which prophesied unto you, saying, The king of Babylon shall not come against you, nor against this land?” (Jeremiah 37:19). In spite of his lack of faith, king Zedekiah knew Jeremiah was speaking the truth. His own fear over and distrust of what he was being told made the king seek a reliable source of information. In order to ensure Jeremiah would remain available to him, Zedekiah placed him in a safe location. It says in Jeremiah 37:21, “Then Zedekiah the king commanded that they should commit Jeremiah into the court of the prison and that they should give him daily a piece of bread out of the bakers’ street, until all the bread in the city were spent. Thus Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison.”

 

Psychological warfare

Sennacherib king of Assyria sent his servant Rabshakeh from Lachish to Jerusalem unto king Hezekiah with a great army in order to intimidate the people of Jerusalem into surrendering (Isaiah 36:2,4). A master at psychological warfare, Sennacherib instructed his servant to speak to the Jews in their native language so that they would understand every word he said and would believe he sympathized with their situation.

Rabshakeh intended to instill doubt and fear in the people when he said, “Am I now come up without the LORD against this land to destroy it? the LORD said unto me, Go up against the land, and destroy it” (Isaiah 36:10). Hearing these words spoken in Hebrew made the message much more convincing. Essentially, Rabshakeh implied that the LORD had switched sides. He was no longer protecting the Israelites; God was helping the Assyrians to destroy them.

Rabshakeh’s message was true in the context of the northern kingdom of Israel, but an outright lie in regards to Jerusalem. Whether or not God had spoken to Sennacherib was not what really mattered. The question at hand was did God intend to destroy the kingdom of Judah as he had the northern kingdom of Israel? Apparently, king Hezekiah had already warned his people of an Assyrian invasion. Rabshakeh wanted the people to think Hezekiah was the one who was lying to them.

Then Rabshakeh stood, and cried with a loud voice in the Jews’ language, and said, Hear ye the words of the great king, the king of Assyria. Thus saith the king, Let not Hezekiah deceive you: for he shall not be able to deliver you. Neither let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD, saying, The LORD will surely deliver us: the city shall not be delivered into the had of the king of Assyria. (Isaiah 36:13-15)

Rabshakeh had a strategic advantage in convincing the people that their king was lying to them. It would make sense for Hezekiah to do so. Rabshakeh argued that Hezekiah was like every other king and was powerless to keep his promise. Rabshakeh declared, “Beware lest Hezekiah persuade you, saying, The LORD will deliver us. Hath any of the gods of the nations delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria?” (Isaiah 36:18).

Three of king Hezekiah’s cabinet members were listening in as Rabshakeh struck fear into the hearts of the people of Jerusalem. Rather than trying to defend their leader, these men walked away without acknowledging Rabshakeh’s threat. It says in Isaiah 36:21-21, “But they held their peace, and answered him not a word: for the king’s commandment was saying, answer him not. Then came Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah, that was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah, the son of Asaph, the recorder, to Hezekiah with their clothes rent, and told him the words of Rabshakeh.”

Moment of truth

Isaiah’s ministry covered a span of approximately 60 years. During his lifetime, Isaiah experienced what could be considered the best and worst times in Jerusalem’s history. During King Uzziah’s reign (792 B.C. – 740 B.C.), Judah’s powerful army of over 300,000 men expanded his kingdom’s borders and fortified the city of Jerusalem, making it a secure fortress that could withstand a long siege of enemy attack (2 Kings 16:5). Within a decade of Uzziah’s death, his grandson, king Ahaz cooperated with the Assyrians to defeat the northern kingdom of Israel and erected an altar in the temple of God so he could worship a Syrian god instead (2 Kings 16:15).

Isaiah confronted Ahaz in a location referred to as “the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller’s field” (Isaiah 7:3). Isaiah told the king of Judah, “The LORD shall bring upon thee, and upon thy people, and upon thy father’s house, days that have not come, from the day that Ephraim departed from Judah” (Isaiah 7:17). Ahaz ignored Isaiah’s warning, no doubt thinking an alliance with the king of Assyria would  prevent him from attacking Jerusalem.

Isaiah recorded his prophecy about the king of Assyria as a testimony against king Ahaz and all who doubted God’s intention to punish Judah for its rebellion against him (Isaiah 8:7-8). Later, Isaiah added that Assyria would be destroyed after God was finished using them to punish Samaria and Jerusalem for their idolatry (Isaiah 10:12). Predicting specific details of the Assyrian attack, Isaiah showed the king of Judah that God controlled his kingdom and could give it to whomever he wished (Isaiah 22:20-25).

When Ahaz’s son Hezekiah took over as king in 715 B.C., Israel had already been taken into captivity and the king of Assyria was breathing down Judah’s neck. Isaiah’s message to Hezekiah made it clear that Assyria was doomed and Jerusalem would be spared from destruction (Isaiah 29:22; 30:31). Isaiah warned Hezekiah to not trust in Egypt, but to rely on the LORD. Isaiah stated, “So shall the LORD of hosts come down to fight for mount Zion, and for the hill thereof. As birds flying, so will the LORD of hosts defend Jerusalem, defending also he will deliver it and passing over he will preserve it” (Isaiah 31:4-5).

The moment of truth came in 701 B.C. when “Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the defenced cities of Judah, and took them” (Isaiah 36:1). The king of Assyria sent a messenger to Hezekiah with a great army, “And he stood by the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller’s field” (Isaiah 36:2), the exact location where Hezekiah’s father had first been warned by Isaiah of an Assyrian attack against Jerusalem (Isaiah 7:3,17). Sennacherib claimed to be on a mission from God. He told Hezekiah’s men, “And am I now come up without the LORD against this land to destroy it? the LORD said unto me, Go up against this land, and destroy it” (Isaiah 36:10).

Tell me the truth

The story of Ahab’s death provides a rare glimpse into the inner workings of God’s heavenly kingdom. The prophet Micaiah in explaining why he didn’t tell Ahab the truth about what was going to happen to him, describes a scene in heaven in which a spirit is charged with enticing Ahab to go to battle against Syria.

Again he said, Therefore hear the word of the LORD; I saw the LORD sitting upon his throne, and all the host of heaven standing on his right hand and on his left. And the LORD said, who shall entice Ahab king of Israel, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead? And one spake saying after this manner, and another saying after that manner. Then there came out a spirit and stood before the LORD, and said, I will entice him. And the LORD said unto him wherewith? And he said, I will go out, and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And the LORD said, Thou shalt entice him, and thou shalt prevail: go out, and do even so.

Micaiah’s description of heaven indicates that all the host of heaven was standing before the LORD as he sat upon his throne. This picture of divine judgment shows that God, as ruler of the universe, is in charge of all spiritual activity. All spirits report to him, including Satan (Job 1:6). Therefore, the lying spirit was accomplishing God’s will when he told Ahab’s prophets to say “Go up; for God will deliver it into the king’s hand” (2 Chronicles 18:5).

Ahab was upset when Micaiah told him the truth. It says in 2 Chronicles 18:17 that “the king of Isreal said to Jehoshaphat, Did I not tell thee that he would not prophecy good to me, but evil?” Ahab thought the message was good from his prophets because they said he would win the battle and the message from Micaiah was evil because he said Ahab would lose. What was actually important was that Ahab knew the truth, so he could make a good decision.

I don’t think Ahab understood the purpose of the message Micaiah gave him. It was meant to be a warning, a glimpse into the future so that Ahab could avoid disaster. Instead, Ahab chose to ignore Micaiah’s prophecy and attacked Syria anyway. Ahab thought he could achieve a different outcome, that he could make the false prophecy come true (2 Chronicles 18:26), but he was killed just as Micaiah prophesied.

Truth and mercy

Two components of a relationship with God are truth and mercy. Every relationship with the LORD has these characteristics, so if you know him, you should expect to see truth and mercy. They are evidence that a relationship actually exists. It says in Psalm 117 and 118 that the truth of the LORD and his mercy endureth for ever. That means they are eternal or timeless. God’s truth and mercy are always available.

God’s truth is associated with his work. It says in Psalm 111:7 that “the works of his hands are verity and judgment.” The same word translated verity in this verse is translated as truth in Psalm 117:2 where it says, “the truth of the LORD endureth for ever.” The Hebrew word ’emeth means stability (571). God is trustworthy. He is like a firm foundation that enables a house to stand for many years. Everything he does as a result of our relationship with him will withstand the test of time.

God’s mercy is associated with his love or lovingness toward those whom he has a relationship with. The Hebrew word for God’s mercy, chesed is often translated as loving-kindness. “Chesed implies personal involvement and commitment in a relationship beyond the rule of law…Biblical usage frequently speaks of someone ‘doing,’ ‘showing,’or ‘keeping’ chesed” (2617).

In Psalm 118:22-23 it says, “The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.” The word translated doing in this passage is ’êth (ayth). It is properly translated as nearness. Eth is generally thought of as being with or by someone. Jesus quoted psalm 118:22-23 in his parable of the husbandmen (Matthew 21:42) except in the version of the story recorded in Mark 12:1-11, instead of saying this is the LORD’s doing, it indicates that Jesus said, “This was the LORD’s doing” (Mark 12:11).

The parable of the husbandmen is about the owner of a vineyard who tries to collect fruit from his husbandmen, but instead is left empty handed. Jesus’ reference to the stone that was rejected implied that he knew the chief priests and Pharisees were planning to kill him (Mark 12:12). In Psalm 118:17-18, it says, “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD. The LORD hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death.”

The love that God demonstrates is not sentimental, but intended to produce fruit or good results in the form of a visible expression of power (2590). God’s mercy or loving-kindness towards his son Jesus was demonstrated when he raised him from the dead, three days after the chief priests and Pharisees had him put to death. The truth of his resurrection is still be declared 2000 years later.

Make it happen

“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32). Not everything a person believes is true. Even though everything God says is true, not every person believes it. What Jesus was saying in this statement was that when we believe what is true, we give that truth the power to work in our lives.

In 2 Samuel chapter 7 it is recorded that the prophet Nathan delivered a message to king David about the establishment of his kingdom. Afterwards, David prayed and said, “And now, O Lord God, thou art that God, and thy words be true, and thou  hast promised this goodness unto thy servant” (2 Samuel 7:28). The word translated true, ’emeth (eh´ – meth) is derived from the word ’âman (aw – man´) which means to trust or believe (539). The word aman is found in Genesis 15:7 where it says that Abraham “believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”

The transaction that occurs when we believe what God says is called imputation. Basically, what happens is that God is free to make it happen. God’s blessings do not flow freely from heaven because of the choice or free will God has given us to live our lives without his help. He does not interfere or intercede unless we ask him to. When God speaks to us personally, it is as if he is saying, I can do this, but I only will if you want me to. It is within our power to say yes or no.

David said in 2 Samuel 7:25, “And now, O LORD God, the word that thou hast spoken concerning thy servant, and concerning his house, establish it for ever, and do as thou hast said.” David was agreeing with God’s word and making it possible for him to make it happen without any interference from the devil. If David had not agreed, what God said would still be true, but David’s resistance (unbelief) would have hindered the process.

The word translated established, qûwm (koom) refers to destiny and can signify empowering or strengthening. “It is also used to denote the inevitable occurrence of something predicted or prearranged” (6965). The word translated promised in 2 Samuel 7:28, dâbar (daw – bar´) actually means to arrange. When God spoke to David through the prophet Nathan, what he said had already been arranged. It was possible, but it wasn’t assured of happening until David believed it was true.