When God Speaks by Jacob Prasch
When does God speak? Why does God speak? To whom does He speak? And through whom does He speak? When God speaks to us, why is He doing it, when does He do it, and through whom and to whom? Many people today say, â€œGod showed me this,” or â€œthe Lord told me that,” or â€œGod has been leading us in such and such a direction.” Do people really hear directly from God today?
The writer of Hebrews declared:
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days He”s spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world (Hebrews 1:1).
This was written to Jewish Christians in the 1st Century who read the Hebrew Scriptures in the form of a lection. A â€œlection” is an annual cycle of reading the Law and the Prophets—the Haftorah—with ritual readings for certain holidays and the Sabbath. This is where we get the idea of the â€œportions.” It is perpetuated today in the synagogue as Paroch Ha Shavua—â€œthe portion of the week.”
Long ago God spoke to us through the fathers (Israel”s prophets of the Old Testament) in many portions and in many ways, but that all changed â€œin these Last Days.” Now, â€œLast Days” is an ambiguous term. It can have one of two possible meanings. It is a specific term and it is a general term. Here it is used as a general term. From God’s perspective, we are already in the Last Days. The Rapture and Resurrection have already begun. Jesus is, of course, the archetype, the prototype; He is the first fruit of the Resurrection. The Resurrection began with the resurrection of Jesus; the Rapture began with the ascension of Jesus. As far as God is concerned, the Rapture and Resurrection are already under way. Â Jesus is simply the first fruit of both.
The Last Days is the age of the predominantly Gentile â€œchurch.” Â It is the â€œLast Days” as opposed to the â€œFormer Days.” Think of a rugby game (or in America, a football game). The game is supposed to be over at 6 o”clock and there is a minute left on the clock. A player is injured when there is one minute left in the second half of the game and they have to stop the clock and call for an ambulance. So the clock freezes.
In eschatological terms it is always one minute “til midnight; the clock can begin again at any time. This is the â€œTime of the Gentiles.” That is what we”re in now, and what is coming to a close. To the best of my understanding, it is the time period between the 69th and 70th weeks of Daniel”s vision. This time period comes to an end and God begins dealing with the Jews. Once more the clock is stopped. Time is, as it were, frozen. Israel is God’s time-piece for the nations. He reverts to dealing with the Jews once the church is removed in the Great Tribulation. We are already in the Last Days in the general sense, in the age of the New Testament church.
Then there is the specific meaning of the Last Days, the time period leading up to the return of Christ, when the â€œTime of the Gentiles” comes to a close and God turns His prophetic and redemptive purposes back to the Jews of the Great Tribulation. The stage is being set for that right now. These events in the Middle East are not really about Iraq; they”re about the final status of Jerusalem and God’s prophetic agenda for Israel. That is what is really happening. This is the â€œLast Days”.
One instance where the New Testament speaks of the Last Days in the specific sense is in 2 Tim 3:1-5: â€œThis know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemersâ€¦” That is a reference to the specific â€œLast Days.”
So how does this apply to â€œWhen God Speaks”? Well, it tells us,
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son.â€¦ (Hebrews 1:1-2)
God has already spoken. When we consider the subject â€œWhen God Speaks,” the first thing we have to note is that He had already spoken in the Old Testament and now He is speaking in the New Testament. He spoke in the former days to Israel in the Tanak, now in the Ha Brit HaDasha, the New Testament. Â He has spoken already. God has nothing further to say of a doctrinal nature or of a prophetic nature. What there will be is a clearer understanding of what has already been said.
This is what the word â€œapocalypse” means, â€œunveiling”. Something is in back of this. As we get closer to the time of Jesus” return, the curtain progressively goes up. That”s what the Greek word apocalypsis means. It”s already here. What”s going to happen? It”s already here.
But the meaning is unveiled to the faithful as we get closer to the time of Jesus” Second Coming. We”re told the same thing in the book of Daniel 12:4: â€œSeal these things up until the appointed time.” No new revelation, no new doctrine, simply a clearer understanding of what is already written. God has nothing further doctrinally to say; He has already said it. God may speak prophetically, or He may give a word of knowledge or a word of wisdom or a personal leading in your life, but it will always be on the basis of what He has already said in His written Word. He has no further â€œrevelations” to impart to His people.
When you see people always looking for a word from the Lord, it is because they”re not reading THE Word. When you see people always looking for a vision, a picture, a word, a revelation, a prophecy, it is because they are not grounded in Scripture. As a matter of fact, the only people to whom God will give a prophecy, Â a word of wisdom, or a word of knowledge, will be the people who are grounded in His Word. The others are receiving counterfeits. If you don”t know what He has already said, He has nothing further to say to you. Even if He were to give you a prophetic word, if you don”t know what He has already said you wouldn”t understand it.
Through Whom Does God Speak?
In light of this background we can now consider the subject, â€œThrough Whom Does God Speak?” beginning with the first chapter of the book of Daniel:
In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. The Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the vessels of the house of God; and he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and he brought the vessels into the treasury of his god.
Daniel was taken as a child into the Babylonian captivity. He was a contemporary of Jeremiah, but Jeremiah was still in Jerusalem; Daniel was taken in a deportation under Nebuchadnezzar. He was with the people to whom he was prophesying. Daniel and Revelation always go hand-in-hand. They are two aspects of the same picture. Look at Revelation 1:9.
I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.
Notice that both John and Danielâ€•as well as Jeremiah, Amos and Hoseaâ€•were all in the tribulation with the people to whom they were prophesying. Often when God speaks, it”s because we are in trouble. If everything were always rosy, if everything were always going well, God wouldn”t have to speak. Yet He does speak. And He”s already spoken. What we need day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month in our Christian walk, in our relationship with God, is already in the Scriptures. If He”s going to tell us something specific to our lives that is of a prophetic nature, it”s generally not because things are good, but because things are bad. Look at all New Testament prophecy, not only those recorded in the Book of Revelation. Remember that when Paul was going to Jerusalem, Agabus tied his wrists with a belt and said, â€œThis will happen to the one who is going to Jerusalem.” (Acts 21:10-11) Compare the Scriptural accounts of personal prophecy with some of the nonsense you see today. People go around prophesying this, prophesying that, these are what we call â€œear ticklers.” They are not prophets, they are would-be soothsayers. What they call prophecy is actually an attempt at clairvoyance.
Also, God most often spoke through people who were in the same situation as those to whom they were prophesying. If God is going to give a prophetic word to the people in South Africa, He is most likely going to raise up somebody from their own midst. Watch out for people who come to your country from the outside, who are going to â€œprophesy” over it, then leave.
Now, God sent Amos, who was from the south, from Judah, to the north, to Israel. Amos didn’t come to prophesy and then go back; he had to stay there with the people. Be careful of people who come from the outside, who prophesy to you, then get back on an airplane and leave. These are generally dangerous people.
Several years ago a woman from the United States, Cindy Jacobsâ€•one of Peter Wagner”s friendsâ€•came to Zimbabwe. She prophesied falsely in the name of the Lord how God was going to bless Zimbabwe, and how it was going to be the garden spot, not only of Africa, but of the world. It is a nation on the brink of starvation. She prophesied how God was going to bless it and prosper it. Yet the diametric opposite took place. Does this make her a false prophetess? Yes, she is a false prophetess; the Bible says she”s a deceiver. What did she do after she prophesied falsely to Zimbabwe? She went to Harari, then got on an airplane, and undoubtedly gave a false prophecy somewhere else. In the process she took a lot of money from the people. That”s what false prophets do.
Again, if God is going to speak to you prophetically, He is doing it because things are not good. Secondly, He is going to do it from your own midst. He is not going to bring in somebody from the outside to tickle your ears. Look at Daniel 1:9.
Now God granted Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the commander of the officials, and the commander of the officials said to Daniel, â€œI am afraid of my lord the king, who has appointed your food and your drink; for why should he see your faces looking more haggard than the youths who are your own age? Then you would make me forfeit my head to the king.” But Daniel said to the overseer whom the commander of the officials had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, â€œPlease test your servants for ten days, and let us be given some vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance be observed in your presence and the appearance of the youths who are eating the king”s choice food; and deal with your servants according to what you see.” So he listened to them in this matter and tested them for ten days.
In verse 12 it says â€œten days,” and again they”re being tested for ten days in verse 14. In verse 15 it says,
â€œAt the end of the ten days.â€¦”
(For the 3rd time.)
At the end of ten days their appearance seemed better and they were fatter than all the youths who had been eating the king”s choice food. So the overseer continued to withhold their choice food and the wine they were to drink, and kept giving them vegetables. As for these four youths, God gave them knowledge and intelligence in every branch of literature and wisdom; Daniel even understood all kinds of visions and dreams. Then at the end of the days which the king had specified for presenting them, the commander of the officials presented them before Nebuchadnezzar.
(At the end of the ten days.)
And the king talked with them, and out of them all not one was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah;
These were the original Hebrew names that Nebuchadnezzar changed to the Chaldee names of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
â€¦so they entered the king’s personal service.
So things are bad, and now God is going to speak through somebody in your midst. You can prophesy against a nation, but you cannot prophesy to God’s people in a nation unless you”re among them. You understand? If God is going to raise up a prophetic voice to the church in South Africa, it shouldn”t be Jacob Prasch they listen to, it should be the people God raises up in their own midst. I can tell you what the Bible says doctrinally (by God’s grace), but if God has a word for the church of any country, it is going to come from an insider. Yet even then, all prophecy must be tested by God’s Word. No true prophecy will conflict with Scripture.
Then there is this period of ten days. It says it four times. Explicitly three times, and then it refers to it as â€œthe end of the days” the fourth time. What is the meaning of â€œten days” in biblical typology? Once more, we always read Daniel in light of Revelation, and Revelation in light of Daniel. Read what the Lord said to the church in Smyrna in the second chapter of Revelation:
“Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life (Rev. 2:10).
This was certainly alluding to the period of ten major persecutions of the ten Roman emperors. However, there was a local persecution which lasted ten days in Smyrna at that time.
There are two numbers associated with â€œtesting” in the Bible: â€œforty” and â€œten.” Most biblically astute Christians are aware of the significance of forty:
Jesus fasted forty days and forty nights.
Moses fasted forty days and forty nights.
Jonah was told to give Nineveh forty days to repent.
The children of Israel sojourned in the wilderness forty years.
David waited forty days on the mountain overlooking the valley of Elah before confronting Goliath.
Forty is the number of testing when the test comes from God. Ten is the number of testing when it is not from God. God may allow it for His purpose. In Daniel”s day Israel was tested at the hands of the Babylonians. In Smyrna believers in Jesus were tested at the hands of the Romans and the Pagans. When the test comes NOT from God, the number is ten.
Whenever a Christian experiences the ten, it has to be understood distinct from the forty. God allows both of them for our molding, to make us stronger, to deal with our old nature, to make us overcomers and more effective in helping others. There are a number of reasons God allows it, but there is still a difference between the ten and the forty. When God says the ten, He sets a limit. Whenever God allows someone to have a go at a Christian, it is always â€œthis far, no further; this long, no longer.” Remember Job? You can do this, but you can”t do that; don”t touch him. God will always set a limit as to how far anyoneâ€•including Satanâ€•can go. When a Christian is suffering demonic oppression, and it seems to mimic or resemble the symptoms of mental illness (demonic oppression is real), there is always a limit. Satan and the enemyâ€•any personâ€•can only go so far.
The Soviet Union persecuted Christians just so long, no longer. Not one day longer; that”s it. There is a judgment of God, a sentence of God hanging over the world of Islam for what they do to Christians. This long, no longer.
Whenever the test does not come from God, He sets a limit as to how far, and as to how long it can go on. Ultimately this will be in the Great Tribulation at the end. Satan, in the person of antichrist, will seek to change the times and the law. (Dan. 7:25) And it will be given into his hands for â€œtwo times, a time, and a half time”: 1,260 days by the lunar calendar. Jesus had 3-1/2 years of public ministry; Satan in the person of antichrist will demand equal time. He will get it this long, no longer. This is the time of Jacob”s Trouble, the period of time for the war against the saints, what Daniel calls â€œthe shattering of the power of the holy ones.” (Dan. 12:7)
If you”re going through trials, if Satan is really having a go at you, if you know you”re in God’s will, you can be assured it is only temporary. Â But if it”s the result of unconfessed sin, or if we”re making a mess of our own life through iniquity, we bear the consequences. I”m talking about when we”re in God’s will and we”re afraid of our current opposition or oppression. We can rest on the truth that God has set a limit as to how far it can go and how long it can go on. Never get discouraged. Satan”s days are numbered not only in the macro sense, but even in the micro sense.
The Role of Education
Daniel and his friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, had knowledge and intelligence in every branch of literature and wisdom. They understood the Chaldee beliefs dating back even to the Tower of Babel. They understood the wisdom of the Babylonians and the language and learning of the Sumerians. So it was with Moses. Moses was trained in the knowledge and wisdom of Egypt before he was trained in the knowledge and wisdom of God. Paul was trained in the learning of rabbinic Judaism (as it was then), and he was trained in Greco-Roman philosophy and the Latin and Greek languages before he was really trained in the wisdom of Jesus.
Never disparage the importance of an education. I would never suggest that you have to be a formally educated person for God to use you, but the Bible never demeans education. The scholars of Jesus” day, the theologians of His day, were called sophrim in Hebrew, translated â€œscribes.” Today, we just think of â€œWoe to you, scribes and Pharisees,” but we forget that Jesus also said, â€œI will send you scribes and prophets.” (Lk. 11:49) When a scribe becomes a believer, Jesus says he brings out of the treasury things â€œold” and â€œnew.” (Mt. 13:52) Somebody that can read Greek and Hebrew, for instance, is going to see things that somebody who can”t is unable to. I can read a novel translated from Dutch or Afrikaans, but I”m not going to be able to capture the same flavor and nuances of the text the same way as somebody who can read Afrikaans or Dutch. He brings out of the treasury things â€œold” and things â€œnew.”
Often when God raised up somebody, He took someone who was educated. This was true of the Reformers. For all of their faults, they began right. You needed people who could read the original languages of the Bible to realize that the Vulgate was not the best translation, and to realize that what the medieval papacy was telling people were largely lies. These were educated people. John Wesley was well educated. Paul was an Apostle, Peter was an Apostle. Did God use Peter? Yes. But He used Paul more. Even though Paul was â€œthe least of the Apostles,” God used him more. â€œWhere much is given, much is expected.”Â
Do not demean the practical importance of education. The problem is when education becomes grounds for spiritual pride. Not until somebody has been broken of their human strength and learns to trust the Lord instead of their education can God use their education. Not until you learn to trust Jesus instead of your human education, can God can use your education. When you can say like Paul, â€œIt”s all rubbish,” then God can use it.
Compared to the wisdom of Christ, it is rubbish. But Moses knew what Pharaoh believed. Paul knew what Caesar believed. He knew what the Pharisees believed. And, of course, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego knew what Nebuchadnezzar and his wise men believed.
The king talked with them, and out of them all not one was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king”s personal service. As for every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king consulted them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and conjurers who were in all his realm (Daniel 1:19).
Ten Times Better
They were tested ten days and they were ten times better than the conjurers of Babylon.
People want to know when God speaks; they want to hear from the Lord. â€œOh, God, speak to me. Let me know what you”re really saying.” Are you willing to be tested the ten days? Their wisdom, their capacity to understand what God was really saying, their capacity to know things others couldn”t, was directly proportionate to the amount of testing they endured. I don”t mean the â€œforty”; I mean the â€œten”.
Why does God let the enemy and the world have a go at us? We don”t understand until we look back in retrospect. When you have overcome in those kinds of tests and trials, you”ll be ten times smarter than unsaved people. A Christian with a high school education who knows the Word of God is ten times smarter than the most brilliant secular academic who doesn”t believe. The capacity to know when God speaks is directly proportionate to the amount of testing we”ve endured. Everybody wants to hear when God speaks, but who wants to be tested ten days? Unfortunately, we live in a fallen world, and in this fallen world we can”t have the one without the other.
To Whom Does God Speak?
In the second chapter of Daniel, we see what happens when God speaks.
Now in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; and his spirit was troubled and his sleep left him. Then the king gave orders to call in the magicians, the conjurers, the sorcerers and the Chaldeans to tell the king his dreams. So they came in and stood before the king. The king said to them, â€œI had a dream and my spirit is anxious to understand the dream.” Then the Chaldeans spoke to the king in Aramaic: â€œO king, live forever! Tell the dream to your servants, and we will declare the interpretation.” The king replied to the Chaldeans, â€œThe command from me is firm: if you do not make known to me the dream and its interpretation, you will be torn limb from limb and your houses will be made a rubbish heap (Daniel 2:1-5).
The soothsayers say, â€œOh, we can interpret dreams.” â€œYeah,” replies the king, â€œwell tell me the dream. If you”re genuine, you”ll be able to tell me the dream.” They couldn”t do it.
The Chaldeans answered the king and said, â€œThere is not a man on earth who could declare the matter for the king, inasmuch as no great king or ruler has ever asked anything like this of any magician, conjurer or Chaldean” (verse 10).
Remember, the occult always counterfeits the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Some â€œshamans/witchdoctors” speak in tongues, don”t they? Fortune tellers predict the futureâ€•not always accurately, but they do it with some accuracy by demonic power. What happens when God’s people stop listening to those through whom He really speaks and begin following conjurers, soothsayers, Chaldeans?
Cindy Jacobs who prophesied falsely to the church in Zimbabwe: is she a â€œDaniel,” a â€œShadrach”” a â€œMeshach,” an â€œAbednego”? Or is she a â€œconjurer of Babylon”? Well, the Bible identifies her as a conjurer of Babylon. Today in the churches you have white songormas (witchdoctors). They”re doing the exact same things white witchdoctors do.
I was recently in Kwazulu Natal in Zululand. The people there are terrified of songormas. â€œDon”t speak against a songorma,” â€œThe songorma will get you.” That becomes â€œTouch not my anointed.” The songorma will sell muti to bring prosperity. They”ll sell fetishism. They”ll sell a piece of cloth made from a snake or something like this. Morris Cerullo, the American money preacher sends â€œHoly Ghost Miracle Handkerchiefs” to take away debt for the poor and unemployed. What”s he selling? Muti! He”s selling muti! Â He is a songorma, a money driven false teacher calling himself a preacher doing what a witch doctor does. â€œOh, the people brought the Lord”s apostles handkerchiefs!” Did the apostles sell them to poor people? It”s deception and con-artistry. God speaks, but instead of listening to His Word, people listen to the conjurers of Babylon. That is what is happening today; that is what goes on in the Rhema movement and other such things.
In Daniel”s case, the king was going to kill any prophet who can”t tell him what”s going on, so Daniel acts.
Then Daniel replied with discretion and discernment to Arioch, the captain of the king”s bodyguard, who had gone forth to slay the wise men of Babylon; he said to Arioch, the king”s commander, â€œFor what reason is the decree from the king so urgent?” Then Arioch informed Daniel about the matter. So Daniel went in and requested of the king that he would give him time, in order that he might declare the interpretation to the king. Then Daniel went to his house and informed his friends, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah about the matter, so that they might request compassion from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his friends might not be destroyed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven; Daniel said,
â€œLet the name of God be blessed forever and ever,
For wisdom and power belong to Him.
Notice, â€œwisdom and power belong to Him.” â€œTouch not My anointed.” Jesus is the anointed; that is what â€œMessiah” means. Israel”s King David is an Old Testament type of Christ. Â David would not touch Saul who was God’s anointed at the time. But it didn’t stop David from telling the truth about him or stop Samuel from writing the truth about him, that he was a backslidden murderer. And so it continues.
It is He who changes the times and the epochs;
Now, in the Last Days, the antichrist will seek to change times and epochs, and for a limited period of 3-1/2 lunar years these will be given into his hand. In other words, within certain parameters, for a certain period of time, God will forfeit lordship over history to antichrist.
He removes kings and establishes kings;
He gives wisdom to wise men
And knowledge to men of understanding.
HE establishes kings and removes kings. Why do people have nasty governments? They get the governments they deserve. In Africa, you have a government that allows songormas in hospital wards, that allows traditional healers (people practicing demonic power and superstition who put people into spiritual bondage) to work in medical wards as if they were actually qualified physicians, all in the name of African nationalism. There are songormas who tell people to rape babies, rape children, and they”ll be cured of AIDS. Why do leaders let their own children die, and deny what every scientist in the world says? Countries get the governments they deserve.
Why are Islamic countries feudalistic and oppressive? It”s a judgment for their false, demonic religion. They get what they deserve. Why did America have a president in the White House fooling around with young girls? Just watch TV in America and you”ll understand that the nation gets the leaders it deserves. A sexually perverted society gets a sexually perverted government. Now Christians should make a difference; we should be salt and light; we should make a difference. But one month before the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center, Robert Schuller, the self-esteem preacher of the Crystal Cathedral, was singing the praises of Islam. He had the Grand Mufti of Damascus preaching in his church to Christians. Schuller stood up and said, â€œI wouldn”t object if my grandchildren became Muslims.”
Paul Crouch, the TBN television magnate, one month exactly before September 11th held up a Quran on Christian TV and said, â€œI want my Muslim brothers to help me understand this book.” One month later, he did.
Countries get the leaders they deserve. President George W. Bush stands up and says, â€œIslam is a religion of peace and tolerance.” I”ve been from one end of the Muslim world to the other and I”ve never found peace or tolerance. Why do you have a leader who will defend a religion that says â€œGod has no son” and which persecutes Christians? You get the leadership you deserve. Oil is money and power. You get a political prostitute owned by international oil. We get the leaders we deserve.
Not only the nations get the leaders they deserve, churches get the leaders they deserve.
Profound and Hidden Things
It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things;
The Bible is filled with â€œprofound and hidden things” so the unsaved can”t understand it. Not only can the world not understand it, but neither can worldly Christians. Even today, even this hour, as events of prophetic significance are being fulfilled in the Middle East and in Europe, there are untold numbers of born again Christians who have the same book right in front of them, who have no idea what is happening. They”re clueless. They don”t know the â€œprofound and hidden things.” Their leaders will never teach them. They”ve got the leaders they deserve.
He knows what is in the darkness,
And the light dwells with Him.
To Thee, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise,
For Thou hast given me wisdom and power;
Even now Thou hast made known to me what we requested of Thee,
For Thou hast made known to us the king’s matter.
So Daniel tells Nebuchadnezzar his dream, and in the process of being able to tell the king what the conjurers couldn”t, Daniel saves his own life and the lives of Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego. He even saves the lives of the conjurers of Babylon. Maybe they”ll repent.
I don”t desire the destruction of false prophets in the churches today; I desire their repentance, even though I believe they”ve gone beyond the point where Jeremiah was told â€œdon”t even pray for these people.”
Why does God speak? To save our neck. In the third chapter of the Book of Daniel we read where Daniel sees the incredible vision of the image of gold. This image is a major foreshadowing of the image of the Beast in the book of Revelation. Even its dimensions in the Aramaic language tabulate to 666. The number of the Beastâ€•â€œ666″â€•occurs many places in the Bible. Before people try to count the Roman numerals of Henry Kissinger”s name, I wish they”d try reading the Bible. The first question is, â€œWhere else does that number occur in the Bible?” Well, it appears many places in the Bible, and each time it does it tells us something about Revelation 13. Once more, Daniel understood, the others did not. And once more it saved his neck.
The Mind of a Beast
Now, in the fourth chapter we see something significant: The mind of a beast was given to Nebuchadnezzar.
Some conservative Baptist missionaries reported a phenomenon in the really remote areas of Kenya in which a witch doctor was turned into a leopard. I know American Indian believers who talk about â€œskin walkers,” and who see this kind of phenomenon where people begin imitating animals. These of course smoke peyote (Apache Indians smoke peyote to induce religious hallucinations), and they begin hallucinating that their medicine men turn into buffalo.
Whenever you see animal imitations in the Bible, you”re dealing with something demonic. Today, of course, you”ve got people saying it”s the manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Randy Clark, the Vineyard pastor who got his anointing from Rodney Howard-Browne by impartation and then delivered it to John Arnott”s Toronto Airport Vineyard (since then disassociated from the Vineyard movement), reported that while he was allegedly drunk in the Spirit at Howard-Browne”s meeting, a lady next to him was oinking like a pig.
The people who promote the Alpha Course defend animal imitations. In England, they defended it. â€œI know it was God!”
Well, if it is God, it”s His judgment against you. A mind of the beast was given to Nebuchadnezzar. If people can”t understand the straightforward teaching of the Bible, how is God going to reveal any truth to them, or why should He reveal to them, â€œprofound and hidden things”? If you can”t see the difference between a hyena and a human being, what does God have to tell you? Nothing. He has nothing further to tell you. You”re incapable of hearing it.
Changing World Empires
Daniel had an extraordinary spirit…
…knowledge and insight, interpretation of dreams, explanation of enigmas, and solving of difficult problems were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar. Let Daniel now be summoned, and he will declare the interpretation.” (Daniel 5:12)
Daniel could do it again. But what was happening? As Medo-Persia aligned, the Babylonian empire was doomed. It was a time when people were in trouble. What you see happening in Daniel is what happens in the Last Days, a very rapid series of dramatic, political changes transforming the face of the known world. Everyone was afraid of Assyria. Out of nowhere was the meteoric rise of Babylon.
In the cold war era, everyone was afraid of the Soviets. America and Britain didn’t like the apartheid government of South Africa, but because the Soviets had the Cubans in Angola and Namibia, America and Britain were forced to support the South African apartheid regime. Once the Soviet Union collapsed, America and Britain stopped supporting South Africa and it was the end of apartheid. â€œWe don”t need to support you anymore. We needed you to keep the Communists out. You were the lesser of two evils, now you”re the evil.” That is what they basically said.
But with the Soviet Union gone, we”re left with something much more dangerous: Islam. Islam is much more dangerous than the Soviet Union ever was. The Soviet Union at least fought rationally; they didn’t want a nuclear war; the Imams will push the button in a minute. â€œJihad” is â€œgoing to heaven.” Something much more dangerous comes.
After Babylon was Medo-Persia, after Medo-Persia came Macedonian Greece, after Greece it was Rome. Â And in the middle of all this, the Jews were going back to their land. The Last Days are the same.
If you would have told someone of my generation that the Soviet Union would collapse, would self-destruct, and that the Berlin Wall would come down overnight, it would have seemed ridiculous. But it happened.
The post-World War II miracle economies were Japan in Asia and Germany in Europe. They arose out of nowhere from the rubble. Now China is the rising star in Asia while Japan is in permanent, unstoppable economic decline. Even with zero interest rates they can”t stimulate the economy.
At one time the sun never set on the British Empire, now it sets every 24 hours.
France is so frustrated at no longer being a world power that they”ll keep dictators in power just to flex what little muscle they have.
The rise and fall of world empires happen very quickly. That is what the events recorded in the Book of Daniel were like; that”s what the Last Days are like. And, of course, in the middle of it you see the Jews going back to their land.
Daniel had an extraordinary spirit. He understood what was going on and what those things meant. Those who really have an extraordinary spirit, those who really are filled with the Holy Spirit, will know what these things mean.
These world events we see, the rise and fall of world empires, happen very quickly. And the place of the Jews is in the middle of it all. Those who are like Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego will understand what”s going on. They did; the conjurers of Babylon didn’t. No fortune teller, clairvoyant, or astrologer can tell you what”s going to happen. God has already told us what”s going to happen.
True Prophetic Visions
Daniel sees it, and with this is unleashed an unbelievable series of dreams and visions. Things that are happening today, Daniel saw. They were, of course, prophesied for his own time; he prophesied for the time of the Maccabees, he prophesied for the First Coming of Christ, and he prophesied for the return of Christ. But look at chapter 7:
In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel saw a dream and visions in his mind as he lay on his bed; then he wrote the dream down and related the following summary of it.
Now look at the last verse of that chapter, verse 28 of chapter 7.
“At this point the revelation ended. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts were greatly alarming me and my face grew pale, but I kept the matter to myself.”
And then the next verse, 8:1.
In the third year of the reign of Belshazzar the king a vision appeared to me, Daniel…
Notice he has a vision in the first year and the third year. True prophets never went around having visions, pictures, prophetic revelations every ten minutes; conjurers of Babylon do. Rhema preachers do. False teachers and false prophets do. Those to whom God speaks don”t. It”s every once in awhile, but when it happens it”s real and it”s biblical.
You see false prophets going around every five minutes, â€œI have a picture the Lord gave me, a word I”m going to prophesy.” As we”ve warned many times, that is not prophecy, Â it is an attempt at clairvoyance. This is not how prophecy works, it is never how prophecy worked. It is how clairvoyance works. It is occultic.
But now let”s look…
…I kept the matter to myself.
God showed Daniel things that Daniel did not fully understand. He kept it to himself. If God shows you something that you don”t fully understand in the light of Scripture, there”s more to come. Daniel kept his mouth shut until he did understand.
How often have you heard people say, â€œI don”t know what it means, but I had a picture”? You don”t know what it means. I know what it means; it means you”re a nut case, that”s what it means. It means you”re a kook or a charlatan or at best an ignoramus. Those are not the people God speaks through. If somebody didn’t understand what God showed them, they wouldn”t say anything until they did understand. They would have the prudence and wisdom to keep their mouth shut. They would continue praying and searching the Scriptures until they did understand, knowing that more was to come.
For Daniel prophecy came every so often. It was real, it was biblical, and when he didn’t understand he kept it to himself.
What Was Daniel Doing When God Spoke To Him?
Daniel had the most incredible series of prophetic revelations of the future. What was Daniel doing when God showed him these things?
in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, observed in the books the number of the years which was revealed as the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years. (Daniel 9:2)
What was he doing?
So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.
Daniel was studying the Scriptures, praying and realizing the need for repentance. Studying the Scriptures came first. If you don”t know what”s in there, you have no basis for God to tell you anything else.
Three Kinds of People
Now I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, while the men who were with me did not see the vision; nevertheless, a great dread fell on them, and they ran away to hide themselves.
When God spoke, these pretenders ran away. Â If God really spoke, the conjurers, the would-be”s, the hype artists, would run away. Let”s look at this in light of the New Testament.
“Father, glorify Thy name.” There came therefore a voice out of heaven: “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” The multitude therefore, who stood by and heard it, were saying that it had thundered; others were saying, “An angel has spoken to Him.” Jesus answered and said, “This voice has not come for My sake, but for your sakes. (John 12:28)
When God speaks, understand the thunder as a figure in biblical typology; thunder is a very common figure for the voice of God. In Revelation whenever God would speak from the throne, John would record peals of thunder. Thunder is a metaphor in biblical typology for the voice of God. Only those who were righteous heard what God was saying, the others just heard noise. But then there was a third category: They thought it was the voice of an angel. When God speaks, there will be three kinds of people.
First, there will be those who hear and understand that He has spoken and know what He is saying. And it will always be in Christ and point to Christ. If Christ is not in it, it”s not God. There are those who have heard and understand what God has said in and through Christ.
Second, there will be those to whom it will be just a noise. You”re driving on the road and maybe a Gospel broadcast comes on and you hear a preacher. Somebody who is seeking truth, who is under the conviction of sin, will hear the Gospel and know it is God speaking. A saved Christian will know it is God speaking. Â But to a disinterested unbeliever it will just be noise to them; change the station.
Third, at most, it will be â€œan angel,” from the Greek word angelio, â€œmessenger.” â€œOh, it”s a religious person; he”s a messenger.”
There will be three kinds of people: Those who hear God, those it”s just noise to, and those who give it a religious misinterpretation. When God speaks, there”ll be one of three responses: Those who know it and understand it, those to whom it”s just noise â€“ it means nothing, and those who just give it a religious misinterpretation when God speaks.
When God speaks, to whom does He speak? He speaks to the Daniels, the Shadrachs, the Meshachs, and the Abednegos, those of extraordinary spirit because they are enlightened by His Spirit. They understand Scripture and wisdom. They know the way the world thinks, and they know how to evaluate what the world says in light of what God says. The Bible will make you smarter when God speaks.
Who is it that He”ll speak to? When does He speak? Who does He speak through? Why does He speak? Quite a list of questions, but now we arrive at a pivotal point in human history where the things Daniel saw and prophesied, and only partially understood, are now coming to their prophetic climax. The veil is going up and God is speaking. He”s speaking alright. I have no doubt that God is speaking. He”s speaking to me, He”s speaking to you; He”s speaking to my family, He”s speaking to your family; He”s speaking to the church in my nation, He”s speaking to the church in your nation; God is speaking to Israel on the Jews, He”s speaking to the Gentiles. God is speaking. There is no doubt God is speaking, but who is He speaking to? Who is He speaking through? Why is He speaking?Â
Although there is no doubt God is speaking, here is the big question: who is listening?
When God Speaks – Jacob Prasch
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