Friday, January 31, 2020




As we study this week's lesson together and Nebuchadnezzar's experience in Daniel 4, I hope we will see that it has a deep significance to all of us today.

To start with, the author's statement on Sabbath afternoon warrants our consideration:

"Pride has been called the first sin. It is first made manifest in Lucifer, an angel in the courts of heaven…. Pride leads to Lucifer's fall; so now he instills pride in men thus leading them to be against God and so, to go down a path toward destruction. We are fallen human beings, dependent upon God for our very existence. Any gifts we have, any things we accomplish with those gifts, come only from God. Hence, how do we dare to be proud, boastful, or arrogant, when in reality humility should dominate all that we do?"

We see in Isaiah 14:12-14 that Lucifer, a created being, wanted to step up higher and higher to the point of being equal with God.

On the other hand, we see in Philippians 2:5-11, that Christ, Who is equal to God, in order to be our Saviour and redeem the human race stepped all the way down, and humbled Himself to the point of dying the eternal second death for each and every soul!

What a contrast!  What a Saviour!

Make no mistake. There is a battle going on in our lives today. Pride is selfishness and reflects our sinful human nature. Left to our own resources and inclinations, it will take control for "as it is written, there is none righteous, no not one." (Romans 3:10). But, in the gift of Salvation, through Christ's complete and perfect sacrifice, He tells us in John 15 that when we abide (remain) in Him, He promises that He will abide (remain) in us. Thus, through His strength and power, the power of the Holy Spirit in us, we may claim the faith of Jesus and as He did when He walked this earth pray, Father not my will but Your will be done in my life.

I know that I can relate to this in my own life, and maybe some of you can as well. Not growing up in a Christian environment, at home and school I was taught to be self-confident, self-reliant, self-assured, to have self-esteem and to take pride in my successes, all of which of course going right along with my nature. So, whenever I did well in school, or later in my job and subsequent married life as a husband and father, I would naturally take the credit myself and think I was a pretty decent guy for all that hard work and making the "right decisions" in my mind. Even after I became a Christian, things didn't change and I continued to believe it was my responsibility to make decisions and solve problems as they might arise. God was still on the shelf and only would come off if things went wrong. It is only in recent years, that I have begun to realize that God deserves all the credit for any success or achievements in my life and He has been there for me every step of the way both in my non-Christian and Christian walk. Further, I look back with sorrow and see the pain and suffering I have caused my wife and family because I wanted things to be done my way and not asking for His will to be done. This means trusting Him in all things and that requires a moment by moment surrender. I know He is humbling me and showing me that I don't have the answers and that He does! By His grace and through the power of the Holy Spirit, my prayer is that I will cease to rely on my own wisdom and ask for His. In many ways, my walk and maybe yours too is similar to that of Nebuchadnezzar where our pride has to be dealt with, we need to be humbled, and realize the infinite love, mercy and forgiveness that God, the Creator of the universe, has for us.

Let us now continue to look at Nebuchadnezzar's own experience and some of the insights that EJ Waggoner has for us:

"The propensity for making a show is one of the prominent characteristics of weak human nature. Fallen man, the weakest intelligence in the universe, is also the most boastful. The proud Nebuchadnezzar has his successors today, among nations as well as individuals, who desire to call the attention of the world to the great Babylons which they have built. But it is as true now as in his day that "Pride goeth before a fall;" for vanity is only another name for folly, and when vanity becomes so great that it must find vent in boastful displays meant only to glorify man, it is an indication that man's folly has arisen to such a height that it must be humbled by the hand of God." PTUK July 4, 1895, p. 432.16

"The Mind of the Natural Man. - Daniel tells how, just before Nebuchadnezzar was stricken and humbled, the proud king walked up the terraces of his palace, saying, "Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?" PTUK August 13, 1896, p. 513.1

Memorials of Vanity. - He not only spoke it, but engraved like sentiments in his inscriptions upon the royal tablets, now dug up and read. One of them says: "For the astonishment of men I built this house; all of the power of my majesty encompasses its walls.... In Babylon alone I raise the seat of my dominion." This vanity is the common frailty of the human mind. PTUK August 13, 1896, p. 513.2

The Mind of Christ. - Contrast with this Christ's attitude as He came into the world to show men how to live for man. He had not built a pile of bricks and mortar, but the very earth and all living things upon it and the heavens were the work of His hands. Yet He said, "I can of Mine own self do nothing." "I came not to do Mine own will." "I have glorified Thee on the earth." Nebuchadnezzar glorified himself as the builder of a great city now buried in the sands. Jesus, in Whom all things consist, glorified God. "Have this mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus: Who...emptied Himself."" Philippians 2:5, 6, R.V. PTUK August 13, 1896, p. 513.3

In these statements, we see the contrast between Christ's humility and Nebuchadnezzar's pride. We also see Jesus clearly bringing this to our attention in His sermon on the mount where in Matthew 5:3 He tells us: "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." That is a beautiful promise to all of us from Him and clearly shows that we all need to be humbled (poor in spirit).campbell

Ellen White has some meaningful thoughts for us on this in the following quotes from Desire of Ages:

"Christ's first words to the people on the mount were words of blessing. Happy are they, He said, who recognize their spiritual poverty, and feel their need of redemption. The gospel is to be preached to the poor. Not to the spiritually proud, those who claim to be rich and in need of nothing, is it revealed, but to those who are humble and contrite. One fountain only has been opened for sin, a fountain for the poor in spirit. DA 299.4

The proud heart strives to earn salvation; but both our title to heaven and our fitness for it are found in the righteousness of Christ. The Lord can do nothing toward the recovery of man until, convinced of his own weakness, and stripped of all self-sufficiency, he yields himself to the control of God. Then he can receive the gift that God is waiting to bestow. From the soul that feels his need, nothing is withheld. He has unrestricted access to Him in whom all fullness dwells. "For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, Whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones." Isaiah 57:15." DA 300.1

We see in Daniel 4: 34-37 Nebuchadnezzar's own words testifying to the result of his humbling and resultant desire to recognize and serve "the King of heaven" as described in the following EGW quotes:

"In Daniel's life, the desire to glorify God was the most powerful of all motives. He realized that when standing in the presence of men of influence, a failure to acknowledge God as the source of his wisdom would have made him an unfaithful steward. And his constant recognition of the God of heaven before kings, princes, and statesmen, detracted not one iota from his influence. King Nebuchadnezzar, before whom Daniel so often honored the name of God, was finally thoroughly converted, and learned to "praise and extol and honour the King of heaven."" (RH Jan. 11, 1906).

"The king upon the Babylonian throne became a witness for God, giving his testimony, warm and eloquent, from a grateful heart that was partaking of the mercy and grace, the righteousness and peace, of the divine nature." (YI Dec. 13, 1904).

In Friday's lesson, is a good synopsis of God's reaching out to Nebuchadnezzar and as a result fulfilling His purpose for the most powerful kingdom in the world. At the same time, this would have had a powerful impact on the surrounding countries not to mention the Israelites in their captivity. Prophets and Kings, p. 521

"The once proud monarch had become a humble child of God; the tyrannical, overbearing ruler, a wise and compassionate king. He who had defied and blasphemed the God of heaven, now acknowledged the power of the Most High and earnestly sought to promote the fear of Jehovah and the happiness of his subjects. Under the rebuke of Him Who is King of kings and Lord of lords, Nebuchadnezzar had learned at last the lesson which all rulers need to learn --- that true greatness consists in true goodness. He acknowledged Jehovah as the living God, saying, 'I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all Whose works are truth, and His ways judgment: and those that walk in pride He is able to abase.'

God's purpose that the greatest kingdom in the world should show forth His praise was now fulfilled. This public proclamation, in which Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged the mercy and goodness and authority of God, was the last act of his life recorded in sacred history."

The experience of Nebuchadnezzar is the same experience that God desires for all of us. He wants to humble us to the point that we can only look up from the depths of our selfishness to a loving God that is waiting with open arms full of love, mercy, and forgiveness, anxious to give us a new heart.

Here are some additional EGW quotes that you may enjoy that further describe the battle between pride (selfishness) and humility that we all face in our lives as God seeks our hearts and a willing surrender to His will.

"God's work of refining and purifying must go on until His servants are so humbled, so dead to self, that, when called into active service, their eye will be single to His glory. He will then accept their efforts; they will not move rashly, from impulse; they will not rush on and imperil the Lord's cause, being slaves to temptations and passions and followers of their own carnal minds set on fire by Satan. Oh, how fearfully is the cause of God marred by man's perverse will and unsubdued temper! How much suffering he brings upon himself by following his own headstrong passions! God brings men over the ground again and again, increasing the pressure until perfect humility and a transformation of character bring them into harmony with Christ and the spirit of heaven, and they are victors over themselves." (Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 4 p. 86.)

"The drunkard is despised and is told that his sin will exclude him from heaven; while pride, selfishness, and covetousness too often go unrebuked. But these are sins that are especially offensive to God; for they are contrary to the benevolence of His character, to that unselfish love which is the very atmosphere of the unfallen universe. He who falls into some of the grosser sins may feel a sense of his shame and poverty and his need of the grace of Christ; but pride feels no need, and so it closes the heart against Christ and the infinite blessings He came to give." (Steps to Christ, p. 30).

Nebuchadnezzar is meant to be an example to all of us of the impact that pride and selfishness can have on our lives as well as those around us. But we have a seeking Saviour Who knows our needs, and desires to humble us to the point that we want nothing else but to honor and praise Him for His love, mercy and forgiveness.

But this humility and realizing that we are poor in spirit goes beyond our individual experiences and also impacts us as a people as we see in the following EGW quote:

"A deeper and wider experience in religious things is to come to God's people. Christ is our example. If through living faith and sanctified obedience to God's word we reveal the love and grace of Christ, if we show that we have a true conception of God's guiding providences in the work, we shall carry to the world a convincing power. A high position does not give us value in the sight of God. Man is measured by his consecration and faithfulness in working out the will of God. If the remnant people of God will walk before Him in humility and faith, He will carry out through them His eternal purpose, enabling them to work harmoniously in giving to the world the truth as it is in Jesus." Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 9, p. 274.

Ellen White has told us repeatedly that Christ would have come prior to 1900 had His people not rejected the most precious message God had sent. In Testimonies to Ministers (p. 91/92) she tells us that "The Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His people through Elders Waggoner and Jones." She also describes it as "the third angel's message in verity" and "the message that God commanded that we give to the world." Today, the Bridegroom is still waiting patiently for His bride, the church, that we would humble ourselves and repent for our pride which represents our Laodicean condition as described in Revelation 3: thinking we are rich and increased with goods and in need of nothing (spiritually).

My prayer for myself and for all of us is that we will be willing to be humbled by a loving God, and as mentioned in the quote above, desire "to walk before Him in humility and faith" so that He can enable us "to work harmoniously in giving to the world the truth as it is in Jesus."

Blessings, John and Monica Campbell

Friday, January 24, 2020




Sabbath: From Furnace to Palace, Daniel 3 

"Our God Whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand O king." Daniel 3:17, NKJV.

These three Hebrews expressed faith and confidence in God and in His power to save them. Even if God did not save them, they would still not bow to any false God or helpless idol. May our faith today be as courageous in the face of imposed worship, under threat of persecution, imprisonment, torture, and death. Now is our time to allow our Lord to prepare us for future temptation, as He helps us through the trials, choices and temptations we experience today.

"These men knew that they had been made subject to the king of Babylon by the Lord Himself. It had not only been prophesied by Isaiah (chapter 39), but by Jeremiah. At the final siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, the Lord through Jeremiah told the people to submit to the king of Babylon, and that whosoever would do it, it should be [well] with them; whosoever would not do it, it should be ill with them. Yet these men, knowing all this, made answer to Nebuchadnezzar thus:" (1894 ATJ, CGRRLL p. 33)

Obviously they also understood the limits of that command to submit to the king of Babylon, just as Jesus knew the limits to the angels keeping Him in all His ways. Like those three Jews we must submit, if the laws of our country do not call us to violate God's laws, commandments, and liberties.


Sunday: The Golden Image 

Gold today is highly precious. To some, it has become an idol. The most precious and worthy object we can and must possess is not gold, but the Golden Character of Jesus Christ that has been tried in the fires of trials, sufferings and even the pangs of death.

As did those three worthies who had the faith of Jesus, which also included the very confidence of Christ in them, and thus remained victoriously faithful to Him, even so we will have the same support and the confidence of Christ in us and Christ's presence with us. (Matthew 28:20,Revelation 14:12)

Nebuchadnezzar proves certain things about our fallen human nature. When it is shown the finite limitations of its good works and accomplishments, it does not like that! Also, if we were shown that we will be replaced by those with inferior abilities, it could wound our pride, and arouse our arrogance! We too would be tempted to try to effect a lasting change to our legacy. We would desire to change our future and our history. Since all of the future is as open as history to God, we should seek and follow His guidance now so that our present and future influence is what God would have it to be. The courage of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego has influenced future generations of believers in God to risk and even lose their lives for the sake of our God of Love and Truth. Many souls will be in heaven because of people who stay loyal to our Creator and best Friend!

Nebuchadnezzar, in His position and power which God had allowed him to have, let it go to his head. His pride, arrogance, and selfishness were unwilling to let his kingdom be replaced. The flesh loves to be number one. The Golden Image demonstrated his illusions of ultimate grandeur. After Daniel's revelation and interpretation of his dream concerning the kingdoms of men and the Kingdom of God, instead of continuing on the path to humility [Daniel 2:46, 47], he yielded to the principles of Satan's kingdom of self-exaltation [Isaiah 14:12-14]. In Daniel 3 we see the Great Controversy in the king's heart, as it was manifested in his words, actions, reactions, and inaction by not fully yielding to the true God. Yet God did not give up on him, and He has not given up on us!

Many are tempted to be recognized and exalted by others, however Christ did not seek such for Himself. He has always been and will forever be infinitely High above all creation! Instead He came down, infinitely low, by uniting His divinity with our humanity. He gave Himself to us and sacrificed Himself so that He might exalt humanity to the place of sharing His throne. He would take us from the fiery trials of this earth to His heavenly palace of glory!

The king was once again found beholding himself instead of continually beholding the One true God. Thus he may have failed to see the Lord's Spirit in the three Hebrew friends of Daniel (Daniel 4:8). The king was introduced to the power of God in Daniel chapter 1 through His servants, and experienced communication from God through His servant Daniel. And yet he was not completely humbled. Whatever respect he may have shown God previously, by the time of chapter 3 it was evidently short lived.

On the Plain of Dura, Nebuchadnezzar could have also been testing the loyalty of his servants to see who might potentially intend to remove his kingdom as the head of gold. He was trying to change the future that God revealed to him.

In various ways, we might try to test the loyalty and or character of others in our lives, in order to see how far they would go for us or see what they would do for us. If other commitments kept them from bowing to our wishes, our pride might end the relationship, or demonstrate its displeasure with them through our wrath. Our flesh might be tempted to try and make them pay for their lack of commitment to us. We can become like little Nebuchadnezzars in the realm of our own power and/or influence! Like the king, we need God as the Saviour and Lord of our lives, or we will never be fitted for heaven! He fitted the entire human race in Christ (John 6:33, 40; John 12:47; Ephesian 1:3-6; 2:4-8), and those who continue to believe on Him and repent and confess their sins in the face of such a benevolent God and allow Him to save them from their sins (Matthew 1:21), will find themselves in the eternal kingdom of God.

Nebuchadnezzar's spirit and methods were like those of the little horn, the Antichrist who takes the place of God (Daniel 7:25; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4). In Daniel 2:35, 44, and 45, Christ and His Kingdom was the stone that became the great mountain. By contrast, Nebuchadnezzar, in his golden image, deliberately left Jesus out as the Saviour, the Mountain whose kingdom would replace his and the rest of the world's kingdoms which would be in a state of weak clay mixed with iron.

So he replaced Christ's kingdom with his kingdom of gold. Yet Jesus, the One he left out of the golden image, shows up and saves His three faithful servants, whom the king was also permanently putting out of his own kingdom and into the fire - into the realm of death! Jesus shows up in person, not as an invisible God, but in a living, walking form (Daniel 3:24, 25)! He is real, personal, and different than any dumb idols!

Why did the Lord wait until they were put into the fire? They must have seen it raging, and as they got closer, surely they felt its intensifying heat ready to consume them and cause their death. God may wait until we are in trouble or in the fire. He is proving us. There are those last and final moments that we have an opportunity to change our minds, and choose to back out. Once in the fire, there was no hope of changing their minds and thus instantly stopping the fire. At that point no man, not even Nebuchadnezzar, could get them out in time. God may have also been giving the king, and his subjects time to repent and change their minds. The king might have opportunity to change his own command to kill God's servants. But he did not.

Even Jesus in the sufferings of eternal death in the garden of Gethsemane had opportunity to back out as He got closer to the cross. On the cross He could have in the last moments listened to the crowd and chosen to come down and save Himself. But Jesus loved God and us more than life and the hope of eternal life itself. He would save us and honor God at any cost to Himself!!!

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego proved that God is able to make us strong in His Spirit, strong in faith and unshakable in character! Their witness in this matter was the result of the loving relationship they were experiencing with the true God.

Had these Hebrews bowed to the golden image, in the king's eyes this could have been seen as a form or righteousness by works. It would have pleased or appeased the king! But God was developing their character through righteousness by faith which works by the love of God and a love for God in their hearts.

This ruler, as have many, decided to rule in areas of God's domain. In a sense, God demonstrated His own protest against the king's intrusion. He did this by appearing and using His Divine power over the fiery furnace, and thus changing the king's word. God has given no man, court, or laws of men the right to assume, or to usurp His Divine principles, laws and jurisdiction when it comes to serving, or worshiping Him as anyone chooses to do. God protected His servants' religious liberty.

Noted Alonzo T. Jones: "Everybody who has ever read the Bible knows that God has never enjoined subjection to the laws or governments of men in any such sense as that. It is true that the powers which be are ordained of God; but it is also true that these powers are not ordained to act in the place of God. He who has ordained these powers, and set over them the basest of men (Daniel 4:17) has also set a limit to their jurisdiction."

"Only the things that are Caesar's are to be rendered to Caesar. With anything that pertains to God, government can never have anything to do. The limit of governmental jurisdiction is the citizen's relation to his fellow-citizens, or to the State. This jurisdiction is to be exercised in maintaining "civil order and peace." So long as a man conducts himself peaceably and pays his taxes, with him the State can have nothing to do No State therefore can ever of right prohibit anything which is harmless in itself. To attempt to do so, is the first step toward a despotism." (December 3, 1891 ATJ, AMS 369)


Monday: The Call to Worship 

Knowing the lives of these men who were faithful to God, if they had compromised to save themselves, it could have been a deception disguised as homage to the image, and yet a violation of their own conscience. They would have been trying to save self instead of saving in their hearts a pure reverence for God. According to Jesus, He who saves his life will lose it. However, he who loses it for His sake shall save it! (See Mark 8:35).

Had those executioners believed what they learned about God in Daniel chapters 1 and 2, and instead of obeying the kings command, they had disobeyed it, they would likely have been executed, but might have been among those who experience everlasting life in the earth made new. However, by obeying the kings angry and hasty command, they lost their own lives and likely lost eternal life. We should not support others in doing wrong or in treating people with injustice.


Tuesday: The Test of Fire

They had the God-given right to worship or not, and to worship in harmony with their consciences. The reality is that, "It is true the thing which the [3] dissenters were doing was "harmless in itself," but that could not be allowed any weight, because the law commanded it, and therefore there was a certain immorality in refusing obedience to the laws of one's country, subjection to which God himself had enjoined." (December 3, 1891 ATJ, AMS 370, from The American Sentinel 6 (1891) December 3, 1891 "What Has God Enjoined? See also pp. 369-371).

'"WE have a law, and by our law he ought to die," (1) has been the justification of injustice and persecution in all ages."'

"It was civil "law" that cast the three Hebrews into the fiery furnace; (2) that consigned Daniel to the lions' den; (3) that put to death the apostles; (4) that gave to the wild beasts the early Christians; (5) that clothed with authority the Inquisition; (6) that burned Huss and Jerome and tortured and put to death millions of martyrs in the Dark Ages, (7) that whipped, banished, and hanged Quakers and Baptists in New England and Virginia, and (8) that is today imprisoning honest men in Maryland and driving Christians in the chain-gang in Tennessee. (August 15, 1895 ATJ, AMS 249)


Wednesday: The Fourth Man 

We all need that Fourth Man! Jesus is the Fourth Man. The Comforter is the Fourth Man's Representative now. We always need the Fourth Man! The angels minister to us, but they cannot heal us and save us, or do that which only the Godhead can do for us. Wherever we true believers go, the Fourth Man also is leading us and goes with us! Others who believe on the Fourth Man, and even our enemies may not see the Fourth Man, but He is always there, and an ever-present help in times of trouble!

While at the Seminary at Andrews University, a literature evangelist (LE) told me of an account when some young men, who were following him, looked as if they meant him no good. However they walked past him looking scared. He later saw them in a store and they were again afraid, and left the store in haste. The person managing the store said that "they had said they saw two 7' men, one on either side of him walking with him. So, they changed their minds about robbing him." The LE did not see the Angels walking with him, but he was certainly glad the young men saw them!

The king arrogantly said, "Who is that God?" AND soon "that God" showed up! Note that King Nebuchadnezzar did not ask for the Fourth Man to come out of the fire. He just asked for those whom He knew and could command. He did not command God to come out and to talk with him. Had he really known God before this, as it was his privilege, he would not have been defied by God and would have been delivered from his pride sooner than in Chapter 4.

What would have happened had they died in the fire? Knowing God, it would have still been leading to a good end, as Jeremiah said. In this case it was a really good end. They all were astonished! The world heard how great a Saviour is the God of the Hebrews!

But miraculous demonstrations of power do not usually convert people. It is the love of God as manifested and demonstrated for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that caused Him to come down to be with them and to save them. What this also teaches us is that heaven knows and is paying close attention to all the dangerous, fiery situations into which our sharing and living the truth may get us.

Jesus as a boy must have heard or read this story. As He was on the cross, in the garden, and even in the wilderness He had hoped that God would save Him! We are told that Jesus cried "with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save Him from death, and was heard in that He feared." (Hebrews 5:7) God Hears our cries and knows our thoughts, feelings, and our needs! He responds!!!

To bow would not only be a poor example, but would have hindered them and damaged them, stunting their character development. God delivered them so that before the world they could freely worship Him, the God who is infinitely greater than anything made, and is the One we all can aspire to be more like in this life and in the world to come! (See 1894 EJW, PTUK [Present Truth United Kingdom], 755.6)

"Babylon next spread her empire over all nations, and to them God left not Himself without witness. He bore witness directly to Nebuchadnezzar, in the dream of the great image, and its interpretation by Daniel, the captive Hebrew. Again, in the affair of the three Hebrews and the fiery furnace, God bore witness of Himself to all the power and all the provinces of that mighty empire, by the representatives that were present (Daniel 3:3), and also by the decree of the king, which followed. Verse 29…" Daniel 5:27, 28. (November 29, 1894 EJW, PTUK 755.7)


Thursday: The Secret of Such a Faith 

Note that Waggoner says the following: "And the king saw that He was God and believed on Him and praised Him, and commanded that if anyone should say a word against Him they should be cut in pieces 'because,' he said, 'there is no other god that can deliver after this sort.' The image could not keep its worshippers from being burned, but God could."

"How glad the three Hebrews must have been that they had learned to obey God in their youth!"

"Do not be afraid to take Jesus for your best Friend. He can strengthen you to say No when you are tempted. He is able to deliver you from sin and every other evil thing. He may sometimes allow you to suffer, but remember if He does it is for your good, for He loves you and gave His life to save you." (May 4, 1893 EJW, PTUK 141)


Jones states:

"And thus God not only vindicated their course as righteous, but continued the truth of His idea of empire and changed the king's word and also his idea of empire." (February 3, 1904 ATJ, SITI 4.6)


Waggoner further elaborates:

"Three friends of Daniel were cast alive into a burning, fiery furnace, because they persisted in serving God. Then the reward of their service appeared, in that the flames, which were so fierce that the strong men who came only near enough to the furnace to throw the captives in, were instantly destroyed, only burned off the bands of the servants of God, leaving them free. That indicates the freedom that God gives to His servants." (November 14, 1901 EJW, PTUK 723.10)

The Lord would have all men free. If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed! John 8:36.


Waggoner continues:

"Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning, fiery furnace, and spake and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the Most High God, come forth and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came forth out of the fire. And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king's counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed." Daniel 3:19-27. (November 14, 1901 EJW, PTUK 723.11)

In this lesson what these three men saw, heard, and felt should not have made them calm but should have made them anxious! But these men were so calm that even when they heard the roaring of the raging fire, they did not change their minds!


Friday: For Further Reading 

The Fourth Man

The Fourth Man is the Jesus Who has promised "I will never leave you nor forsake you!" He promised Joshua He would be with Him and give him "good success" (Joshua 1:5-9)!

Those three Hebrews got what they had chosen. They received an experience like that of God's chosen people. These three were a type of Christ's last day Church. They are those who would rather have Jesus than anything this world can give them. They would rather forfeit life than to deny their God. They would rather have Jesus, and they get Jesus! Jesus, was Who they had chosen, and they had Him! It was Jesus that kept them from the power of the king and the power of the fire!

We must also make the same decision and be as those who love not their lives even unto death, as seen in Revelation 12:11. May our lives demonstrate that we would rather have the life of Jesus than anything else. For to have Jesus with us and in us is all we need!

Jesus Himself went through the fires of our life on earth, and the fires of demonic efforts to destroy Him and His character development (cf Hebrews 4:15). The gospel testifies that with great drops of sweat and blood Jesus suffered on Thursday night. At His crucifixion on Friday Christ truly was tried, and died for us all. Now as humanity's representative, He also sits in the palace on the right hand of the heavenly Father for us, in us, and as us. May we all be seated in heavenly places with Christ Jesus at our heavenly Father's side soon!


~Mikel Moore

Thursday, January 09, 2020

1888 Message Study : From Jerusalem To Babylon




Will it be Babylon or Jerusalem? Babylon symbolizes confusion, error, sin, trusting in self and the world's order of things. Jerusalem, in her pure state, stood for peace, truth, faith alone in God's righteousness and God's presence. And so, Daniel 1:1 is contrasting two modes of salvation, two paradigms of thinking and two ways of living.

Unfortunately, the people of God in that era of history decided to follow the ways of Babylon. At first glance, it might be puzzling to understand why God would allow his people to be taken into captivity by the enemy as verse two tells us. But the truth is they were already in captivity spiritually but did not know it.

God allowed the physical captivity to occur to alert them to the fact that they were already in captivity spiritually. He loved them too much to just let them stroll on their merry way towards destruction. "All along the road that leads to death there are pains and penalties, there are sorrows and disappointments, there are warnings not to go on. God's love has made it hard for the heedless and headstrong to destroy themselves.

It is true that Satan's path is made to appear attractive, but it is all a deception; in the way of evil there are bitter remorse and cankering care. We may think it pleasant to follow pride and worldly ambition, but the end is pain and sorrow. Selfish plans may present flattering promises and hold out the hope of enjoyment, but we shall find that our happiness is poisoned and our life embittered by hopes that center in self." Mount of Blessings, p. 139.

Although not every one of God's people were in rebellion, all suffered corporately because of the wickedness of some. The story of Daniel one soon focuses in on only four of those taken in this first captivity (Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah). Their names would soon be changed and that was an effort to hide from them their true identity.

This is Satan's constant effort even today. He is an identity thief. If he can get you to forget or doubt who you are in Christ, he can then gain a victory over you. Your identity and mine can be seen in Ephesians chapter 1:1-6.

We are 1) blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, 2) He has chosen us in Christ before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 3) He has predestined us into the adoption of children to Himself, 4) He has accepted us in the Beloved (in Christ), and 5) In Him we have redemption through His blood.

These are things we can never lose and things we can always be sure of. The devil has come to steal, kill and destroy, but Christ has come that you might have life and life more abundantly (John 10:10). If the devil can get you to take your eyes off of Christ and your position in Him, he has gotten a victory.

"When the mind dwells upon self, it is turned away from Christ, the source of strength and life. Hence it is Satan's constant effort to keep the attention diverted from the Saviour and thus prevent the union and communion of the soul with Christ. The pleasures of the world, life's cares and perplexities and sorrows, the faults of others, or your own faults and imperfections—to any or all of these he will seek to divert the mind. Do not be misled by his devices." Steps to Christ, p. 71.

The good news is, every attempt of the devil to turn us away from our identity has already been overcome by Christ in the wilderness (and we were in Him)! Notice there also, that the devil started by trying to cause Christ to doubt His identity. "If you are the son of God". But Christ overcame at every temptation and His victory is ours!

Only as we understand our position in Christ can we truly live out the possession of Him in this world from a pure motivation. So, what will it be with you? Will it be Babylon or Jerusalem? Will you listen to the lies of the devil or will you appreciate your position in Christ and live in faith as did Daniel? No doubt, faith/obedience like Daniel's will always be rewarded either here or in the hereafter, but more importantly, living that kind of life will glorify Christ, and it is His reward that really matters! Daniel had had enough of the devil's lies, have you?

Rob Benardo

Thursday, January 02, 2020

1888 Message Study : From Reading To Understanding



JANUARY 4, 2020




How fitting it is that the word understanding is highlighted in the lesson title.  Understanding is a key word in Daniel.  "God gave them (the four young Hebrews) knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams" Daniel 1:17.

God is with Daniel, and three times he is able to reveal what the other wise men of the realm cannot (chapters 2, 4, and 5).  Daniel understands!  This is because in Daniel dwells "the Spirit of the Holy God" (4:18, 5:11, 5:14). "There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the Spirit of the Holy God………an excellent spirt, knowledge, understanding, interpreting dreams, solving riddles, and explaining enigmas were found in this Daniel." Daniel 5:11-12.

Daniel glorifies the God of Heaven in his life and speech, and both Nebuchadnezzar and the queen recognize the source of Daniel's understanding.  Yet Daniel struggles to understand the visions and messages he receives!  In chapter 7 he was "grieved and greatly troubled" (v 15, 28).  At the end of his next vision Daniel reported, "I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it" Daniel 8:27.  Thirteen years later Daniel is praying and struggling to understand how the 70 years of Jeremiah relate to the 2,300 years.  Gabriel is sent to give Daniel understanding (Daniel 9:20-23).  The angel's explanation is a turning point for Daniel.

His final vision?  Daniel understands!  Writing in the third person he records for us "….. The message was true, but the appointed time was long; and he understood the message, and had understanding of the vision" Daniel 10:1.

Yet, at the end of his book once more we find Daniel seeking for clarity.  "And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things?" He is told, "Go your way, Daniel for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end" Daniel 12:8, 9.

Daniel then is for us and our time.  May our hearts respond to God's amazing lovingkindness.  May we be given Divine wisdom as we study the book of Daniel these next three months.  "…….thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus  2 Timothy 3:15.  "Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand" Daniel 12:10.


It's ALL about Jesus

"All the great truths of the Scriptures center in Christ; rightly understood, all lead to Him." Evangelism, p 485.  We find Jesus present all through Daniel.  He directs the flow of history.  (1) He is the stone cut from the mountain without hands.  (2) The Son of God Who does dwell with flesh (Daniel 2:11, 3:25).  (3) He is the Holy Watcher (Daniel 4:13) and the lowest, most humble of men (Daniel 4:17) Whom God has highly exalted (Philippians 2:5-11).  (4) He is the Creator God, the righteous Judge Who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways (As Belshazzar realizes too late, Daniel 5:23).  (5) He is the Angel of the Lord. (6) He is the Son of Man, the King Who is given an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away.  (7) He is the Prince of the Host, Heavenly High Priest, Palmoni, the Wonderful Numberer.  (8) He is Messiah the Prince, cut off, but not for Himself.  (9) He is the Prince of the Covenant, broken for us.  (10) He is the Glorious Man clothed in linen.  (11) He is Michael, the Great Prince Who stands watch over His children.  We will gain clearer insights into the book of Daniel as we keep Jesus and His grand work of redemption front and center.  (For more on names of Jesus in Daniel see Leslie Hardinge's book, Daniel is my Judge.)


The Structure of Daniel

Can a study and appreciation of the literary structure of Daniel aid us in our study of this historical and prophetic book?  Yes!

The symmetrical beauty and artistic skill of bible passages are worthy of admiration and appreciation.  They point to the source of inspiration - the Creator, Himself.  God's created works abound in symmetry - trees, leaves, flowers, human beings, the animal kingdom, etc.  It should not surprise us that order and symmetry are displayed in God's written word.  Noting the arrangement of bible authors' material is useful.  A book I really appreciate and have found helpful is David A. Dorsey's, "The Literary Structure of the Old Testament".  Dorsey shares in his introduction that all literary compositions have structure and that humans need and appreciate communication which is arranged and organized.  It is of interest that Dorsey finds most of the units in the Old Testament to be arranged in sevens.  "The frequency of sevenfold structuring is remarkable," he states (p 25).  While I don't always agree with his observations and conclusions, I find this book a valuable resource tool.  An awareness of patterns, chiasms, themes, repetitions, and key words, all are helpful in studying the bible.  (I would like to note that his commentary on Daniel is brief and will not be especially useful as we explore Daniel from historicism, sanctuary, the great controversy, end time, and Christ-centered points of view.)

Literary structuring and chiasms are more than just for artistry.  Chiasms help identify the central purpose of a passage or turning point in a narrative.


A. Kingdom prophecies (Nebuchadnezzar's vision) (2)

     B.  God delivers Daniel's companions (3)

           C.  Judgment upon Nebuchadnezzar (4)

             D.  "Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King                    of Heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice.                      And those who walk in pride He is able to put down." (4:37)

           C.  Judgment upon Belshazzar (5)

     B.  God delivers Daniel (6)

A. Kingdom prophecies (Daniel's vision) (7)

We can see in this chiasm of the Aramaic portion of Daniel a central theme of judgment.  (Daniel means "God is my judge.")  At the very heart and center is Nebuchadnezzar's confession that everything God does is just.  God is deserving of honor and praise (Daniel 4:34-37).  The other central theme here is pride.  Oh, how insidiously deceptive are the fig leaves of pride with which we clothe ourselves!  "None but God can subdue the pride of man's heart.  We cannot save ourselves.  We cannot regenerate ourselves……  What is justification by faith?  It is the work of God in laying the glory of man in the dust and doing for man that which it is not in his power to do for himself." TM 456.

Chapters 4 and 5 also form the center of a chiasm for the whole book.

A.  God's people go into exile (1)

      B.  Kingdom prophecies (2)

           C.  Trial and deliverance of Daniel's companions (3)

                  D.  Humbling and Judgment of Babylonian Kings (4, 5)

           C.  Trial and deliverance of Daniel (6)

      B. Kingdom prophecies (7-11)

A.  God's people delivered (12)

Chiastic and parallel patterns help in understanding matching units.  Daniel 7 and Daniel 2 shed light on one another.  Most will agree that Daniel 11 is a challenging passage.  In the chiasm of the Hebrew section of Daniel, chapter 8 should help us unlock Daniel 11.  Note the center of the chiasm is Calvary.

A.  Kingdom Prophecies (sacrificial animals) (8)

      B.  Daniel's prayer and Heaven's response (9)

             C.  Decree to rebuild Jerusalem (9:25)

                  D.  Messiah is cut off, but not for Himself (9:26)

             C.  Decree to destroy Jerusalem (9:27)

      B.  Daniel mourning/fasting and Heaven's response (10)

A.  Kingdom Prophecies (Kings of North and South) (11-12a)

In his book "Daniel", William Shea explains why Jesus is portrayed in the order of king, priest, and sacrifice.  "We can see the effect of these thematic relations as we read Daniel's book from the beginning.  By the time we reach chapter 7 and encounter the picture of the messianic king, the natural questions are:  Who is this Being?  Where does He come from?  Daniel 8 answers by saying, "The King becomes king, in part, because previously He has been the priest.  He is the one Who has ministered on behalf of the saints of the Most High; now He can accept them into His kingdom."  But that response simply raises another question:  How did He qualify as priest?  In order to become a priest, one has to have something to offer, a sacrifice (see Hebrews 8:3).  Where do we find the answer to that question?  In Daniel 9.  The sacrifice of Daniel 9 enabled the priest of Daniel 8 to become priest, and the priesthood of the Prince enabled the Prince of chapter 8 to become the king of chapter 7."  "Daniel" by William Shea, p 226

Another way of looking at Shea's observations would be to see that the Sanctuary focus of Daniel 7 is on Christ's most holy place ministry, Daniel 8 on Christ's holy place ministry, and Daniel 9 on Christ's courtyard ministry.  This should be helpful in understanding Daniel 11 where the flow of the prophecy moves from the courtyard to the holy place to the most holy place.  Thus, we have a chiasm of chapters 7 through 12.  The Little Horn of 7 and 8 and the kings of the North and the South attack God, His Sanctuary, and His people.

The center of this arrangement is Daniel 10.  Here the aged prophet beholds our glorious Savior.  Here Daniel is given a window into the great controversy between the powers of light and darkness.  The book of Daniel is better understood and appreciated in light of the great controversy between Christ and Satan. (Recommended reading - Desire of Ages, chapter 79, "It is Finished")

An understanding and appreciation of the Sanctuary truth is key to understanding Daniel.  "As a people, we should be earnest students of prophecy; we should not rest until we become intelligent in regard to the subject of the sanctuary, which is brought out in the visions of Daniel and John". Evangelism, p. 222.



When it comes to prophecy there is abundant biblical evidence that supports historicism.  Sometimes though, we examine the kingdom prophecies of Daniel primarily through the lens of secular world history.  Understanding these world powers in relationship to God and His people is most important.  Because Israel and Judah were unfaithful, both went into exile.  Although the Jews were allowed to return and rebuild Jerusalem and their temple after the 70 year Babylonian captivity, they never regained independence.  Never again would a king sit upon the throne of David until "He comes whose right it is." Ezekiel 21:16-27  The Jews lived under the rule of the Medes and Persians, then Greece, and finally Rome who destroyed their city and temple.

There is no need to be in the dark about these four kingdoms.  The bible names them all.  The first three are named in the book of Daniel.  Rome, the fourth is named in the New Testament.  Both Christ's first and second coming occur during the fourth kingdom, although it is a divided one when the stone strikes the feet of iron and clay.  The end of the 70 weeks in Daniel 9 marked the end of the probationary period of the Jews.  The prophetic focus forward is on Jesus' priestly work in the Heavenly Sanctuary, the powers that oppose God, and spiritual Israel - not literal Israel and an earthly temple.  All of this is most helpful to keep in mind when we study and share the prophecies of Daniel.


There Is Always More

Just as precious gems can be multifaceted once one begins to detect patterns, more patterns are uncovered.  For example, in Daniel we behold a God Who saves.  He delivers!

1.  God delivers Daniel and his friends from the king's food and drink. (1)

2.  God delivers Daniel and his friends from the king's death decree. (2)

3.  God delivers the three Hebrews from the fiery furnace. (3)

4.  God delivers Nebuchadnezzar from his insanity. (4)

5.  God delivers Daniel from the lions' den. (6)

6.  God delivers humanity from sin and death. (9)

7.  God delivers His living and sleeping saints at the end of the age. (12)


Worship and prayer play vital roles in Daniel.  The sovereignty of God is a major theme.  In spite of outward appearances God is in control!  "He removes kings and raises up kings" (Daniel 2:20-22).  He overrules evil for good and directs the flow of human history.  At the end of the book there is a beautiful metaphor for this.  The man clothed in linen is depicted above the waters of the river.

There is intricacy and beauty in God's word.  I'm reminded of Ezekiel's vision of a wheel within a wheel.  As we dig deep, we should find ourselves humbled.  We, who sometimes think we know so much, begin to discover how little we know and how much more we have to learn!  God's plan of redemption is an exhaustless topic!  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, and may we always be prayerful and careful in our approach to Scripture.  Spiritual things are spiritually discerned and without the aid of the Holy Spirit we are easily led astray.



Jesus is coming soon.  His kingdom will endure forever because it is based on other-centered love and genuine humility.  The Godhead paid the ultimate price for our redemption.  Oh, don't we desire to have understanding and be "among the wise who shall shine like the brightness of the firmament and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever"? (Daniel 12:3)


TRIBUTE:  Our dear brother, Dr. Fred Bischoff, went to his rest, November 28, 2019.  So many of us were exceedingly blessed by his abundant store of knowledge, his understanding of the bible and Adventist history, and by his example.  The richness of his legacy endures.  We look forward to the resurrection foretold in Daniel 12.  We look forward to being reunited with Fred very soon.


~ Martha Ruggles