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But who – or what- is a ‘prophet’?

July 24, 2013 Leave a comment

prophet1Perhaps it would be a fair definition to describe a prophet as a person, who has the perspicacity [discernment] to observe truths that are unfashionable, and the tactlessness to voice them. In this way the prophet greatly annoys whoever those people are that happen to be the contemporary ‘pillars of society’: because the prophet makes them feel uncomfortable, and rather less confident of their own wisdom and their own worth.”

Hubert J.B. Allen

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“The King’s Forgotten Dream” An analysis of Daniel 2

July 15, 2013 Leave a comment

372551969_640I write today to try and give, as simply as I can, an understanding of the incredible but almost completely overlooked vision that God gave to King Nebuchadnezzar in the year 604 B.C. World events are right now unfolding before our eyes that embody and manifest what God foretold some 2500 years ago.

In a nutshell, the dream/vision was of a great and awesome statue that represented a preview of humanity’s worldly kingdoms from the reign of that Babylonian King right up to the Second Coming of Christ!

Sadly, many in the body of Christ cringe at the interpretation of prophetic scriptures, like it is something akin to drinking “purple Kool-Aid”, in which dutiful subjects are left to only blindly “follow their leader” and not be discerning themselves.

I reject this completely because “ALL Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness…” (2 Tim 3), not just the parts we like and can easily understand and interpret.

In addition to this, I see that Daniel was told directly by the angel Gabriel to “seal up the book until the end of time” (12:4) For centuries the visions of Daniel were sealed up! But God says that at “the end of time” these words will be “unsealed” and their meaning revealed and clearer.

Friends, we are living in those days, the end of time!

“But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time; many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase.”

One last encouragement from Daniel expresses that “those who have insight” (Dan. 11:33,35;12:3,10) will go back and forth through pages of the Old Testament prophetic books in the end of time and their knowledge and understanding will increase and they will “shine bright like the heavens” to help others receive the truth.


But first a few thoughts…

The first act of rebellion against God listed in the Bible is in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. The next one happened here, in the land of Shinar, at the tower of Babel, an area that is very near the original garden!

“Let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” (Gen 11:4)

Indeed, the people, under Nimrod’s leadership, did get scattered all over the face of the earth and stopped building the city … for the moment.

By King Nebuchadnezzar’s time, Babylon was the largest city in the world. He built one of the “seven wonders of the ancient world” — the hanging gardens of Babylon. Among his many military conquests was the destroying of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. from which he then took the Jewish occupants captive and brought them to Babylon. This period is known as the “Babylonian Captivity.”

This time (which Jeremiah foretold would be 70 years) was such a unique experience for Israel that the book of Matthew divides the time from, Abraham to Christ, in just 3 periods or ages, including this time of captivity:

So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah, fourteen generations. (Mtt 1:17)

Even as generic a teaching tool as Wikipedia serves to point the truth of this chapter and explains the vision of the great statute thus:

“Daniel relates an account attributed to the second year of his reign, in which Nebuchadnezzar dreams of a huge image made of various materials (gold, silver, bronze, iron and clay). The prophet Daniel tells him God’s interpretation — that it stands for the rise and fall of world powers starting with Nebuchadnezzar’s own as the golden head.” Wikipedia

Six Steps to Gain Understanding on the Statue

I offer here my Six Steps to Gain Understanding on the Statue; a singular, great vision, which many Biblical scholars call “the ABC’s prophecy”.

1. Daniel sets up the interpretation of the King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream by first declaring that it is GOD who changes times and epochs, establishes and removes kings. So as we read Daniel 2, look for it to highlight changes of epochs and kings.

Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven; Daniel said, “Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to Him. It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men and knowledge to men of understanding. It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him. (Dan. 2:19-22)

2. The dream deals with “the latter days” and was given in context of the King himself thinking about what would happen in the future.

“However, there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will take place in the latter days. This was your dream and the visions in your mind [while] on your bed. As for you, O king, [while] on your bed your thoughts turned to what would take place in the future; and He who reveals mysteries has made known to you what will take place. (Dan. 2: 28-29)

3. The interpretation was given to Daniel so that the dream would be understood. It was not to be shrouded in unknown symbolism.

“But as for me, this mystery has not been revealed to me for any wisdom residing in me more than [in] any [other] living man, but for the purpose of making the interpretation known to the king, and that you may understand the thoughts of your mind.” (Dan. 2:30)

4. The dream was an awesome sight of a great statue which consisted of various metals.

“You, O king, were looking and behold, there was a single great statue; that statue, which was large and of extraordinary splendor, was standing in front of you, and its appearance was awesome. (Dan. 2:31)

5. The main interpretation comes in clarifying the composition of the statue. Please note that as one descends down the statute the metals become more and more inferior to each other until we get to clay. We even have a portion of this system transferred over to the Olympics; gold, silver, bronze:

1) Head of Gold
2) Breast/Arms of Silver
3) Belly/Thighs of Bronze
4) Legs of Iron
5) Feet / Toes partly Clay and partly Iron. (click on  picture above)

6. These metals are directly interpreted as “Kings and Kingdoms” and predict the establishing, by God, of consecutive epochs and empires from the time of the Babylon Empire ruled by King Nebuchadnezzar to the Second  Coming of Christ, as the stone cut out of the mountains without human hands!

1) “You, O king [Nebuchadnezzar], are the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, the strength and the glory; and wherever the sons of men dwell, or the beasts of the field, or the birds of the sky, He has given them into your hand and has caused you to rule over them all. You are the head of gold. (Dan. 2:37-38) 

Therefore, Gold – Babylon.

2) “After you there will arise another kingdom inferior to you” vs. 39 Silver – Medo-Persia.

In Daniel 5, this succession is clearly seen as we learn that the Medo empire defeats the Babylonia kingdom on one night when the “hand writes on the wall”. The Persian empire is later seen as inferior by the fact that the King of Persia, Darius, could not save Daniel from the lion’s den, since his “commissioners and satraps” tricked the King into having Daniel thrown there because they knew he would not stop worshiping his God.

3) “Then another third kingdom of bronze, which will rule over all the earth.” vs. 39 Bronze – Greece

In Daniel 8 we are told directly by Gabriel that after the Persia kingdom was defeated there would arise the kingdom of Greece, called by that name although it was at that time not in existence!

“The ram which you saw with the two horns represents the kings of Media and Persia. The shaggy goat represents the kingdom of Greece, and the large horn that is between his eyes is the first king [Alexander the Great, known by God 200 years before his birth!]. 8: 20-21

4) “Then there will be a fourth kingdom as strong as iron; inasmuch as iron crushes and shatters all things, so, like iron that breaks in pieces, it will crush and break all these in pieces.” vs. 40 Iron – Roman Empire

History itself proves the veracity of this interpretation that Roman Empire is the legs of Iron. If we had only the Bible to guide us we would see that as the New Testament opens, the Roman armies and Caesars are in power.

“Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth.” (Luke 2:1)

5) “In that you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, it will be a divided kingdom; but it will have in it the toughness of iron, inasmuch as you saw the iron mixed with common clay.”

Clay and Iron – (future) Revived Roman Empire, from London to Babylon, including North Africa.

Here we see a “divided kingdom” one of iron and clay. Iron toughness with the brittleness and fragility of clay, which must be interpreted to be what is now called democracy, power of the people. This is what we are witnessing when we switch on the Evening News each night! Authoritarian, Iron Kingdoms mixed with Clay that won’t and can’t stand.

It is into this fragile and unruly climate that the Antichrist (the” little horn” of Daniel 7 and 8) will arise, given limited power by God, to fulfill His plans to bring this present age to an end and to transfer all of human history from Adam to myself into “the age to come”!

At this point many scholars (and many good people) disagree, which is so unfortunate because this is where the “stone cut without human hands” (2:34) will come and crush the statue ON ITS FEET and then set up its own kingdom on this earth and will not give it to another people! This feat (no pun intended!)  is not the cross but rather the Second Coming, the final blow, once and for all, that will usher in the Millennial Kingdom and prepare earth to “receive her King” at the end of those 1000 years as God the Father, Yahweh Himself once again walks on earth with His people.

And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” (Rev. 21:2-5)

Yours for the soon coming King,

Jeff Gilbertson

For an excellent visual aid to understand the book of Daniel click on the image below —

Daniel chart

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Christianity is essentially a missionary religion.

July 7, 2013 Leave a comment

It has been about seven years since I stepped outside of the ranks of “missionary” after more than 23 years of active ministry on three continents. It was a big step at the time and a difficult one for me and my wife AND our four children.

The original compulsion for this move came one day in Tajikistan in the early 2000’s while reading through the book of Galatians. I did not get any further than the first verse:

“Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead)” Gal 1:1 (NASB) 

It was as if scales fell off my eyes and I saw — and felt the weight of — a faulty system of “doing missions” that was centered on being “sent from men” and “through the agency of man”! This revelation led me on a path that is only now becoming clearer.

I must give most of the credit since then to the writings of Roland Allen. Many missionaries list him as one of the greatest theologians of missions to the modern world. Ironically, some of his major writings (Non-Professional Missionaries and Voluntary Clergy) spoke completely against the work of missions-as-we-know-it and church-as-we-know-it!

Here is an example of that taken from Donald McGavran’s classic book on missions: The Bridges of God, written in 1955 —  

“The Church in its entirety is a missionary body of which every member is a missionary. There is no ground for the existence of a body of professional missionaries in the New Testament.” (Roland Allen, quoted in The Bridges of God)

This statement is not so much a slam against mission agencies and missionaries  – the likes of which include, in our day, OM, YWAM, IMB, Frontiers, CRU, etc. – as it was a plea for the recognition of the incredible army that waited to express their missionary zeal outside of the traditional scope of paid, professional missionaries. Roland called them “non-professional missionaries”; missionaries who would be self-supporting or unofficial missionaries and not sent out as a member of an organization or missionary agency.

His belief was tied to the conviction that the Holy Spirit was a “missionary Spirit” and if one had the Spirit he had the impulse to be a missionary:

“Christianity is essentially a missionary religion. Therefore it is impossible for men to receive Christ into their souls and not to receive that Spirit. That Spirit is a world-wide all-embracing Spirit. To Christ there are no bounds… If Christ does not save the whole world He can save none.” (Roland Allen, Missionary Principles)

Roland saw the world covered with an incredible number of men and women who had left their homelands and went as laborers to foreign fields for the sake of Christ and preach by that example “a lesson which all men can follow.”

“The missionary work of the unofficial missionary is not the same work which a paid professional missionary does. The paid professional missionary leaves the ordinary work of the world and devotes himself to what he calls ‘religious work’; the non-professional missionary realizes that the ordinary work of the world ought to be done religiously, and does it religiously, and calls it ‘religious work.’

The professional missionary secularizes all the work which he does not recognize as religious work; the non-professional missionary consecrates all work. The professional missionary exhorts others to consecrate their lives in the common work — which he forsakes in order to consecrate his own; the non-professional missionary sets an example of the consecrated life by refusing to forsake work… The one preaches by example a lesson which all men can follow; the other a lesson which few men can, or ought to, follow… It is such missionary work, done consciously and deliberately as missionary, that the world needs today.”  (Roland Allen, Non- Professional Missionary)

Blessings,

Jeff Gilbertson

The works, Non-Professional Missionaries and Voluntary Clergy, are now out of print but can be read in part in Roland Allen, The Ministry of the Spirit, Selected Writings

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The Case for Non-Professional Missionaries (Roland Allen, 1929)

July 2, 2013 Leave a comment
The only missionary who is manifestly and unquestionably a non-professional missionary is the man who has no connection with a society [agency] which sends out professional missionaries; and Christian young men in increasing numbers are inclining to take up that position. 

They see the ambiguity in the position of the men [financially] supported by the societies, and they shun it. They see that the connection between preaching the Gospel and earning a living is a dangerous one; they see that the communication of a secret life is not a proper subject for payment… 

They feel that missionary work is essentially a work dealing with souls, and that in dealing with souls not only disinterestedness [in finances] but manifest disinterestedness is essential…. They feel that there is something nauseous in offering to others a way of life in Christ except on terms which wholly preclude any possibility that they are seeking anything whatsoever except the other man’s salvation.

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