What an extraordinary book Matthew is! It is the first of the Gospels, the longest, the most Jewish, the most evangelistic, and, in many ways, the most compelling. For the first three or four centuries, it was the most highly regarded and most often quoted Gospel of the four. To some people, now as well as then, Matthew is the most important book ever written.
These are weekly articles that Pastor Steve writes for the White Mountain Independent newspaper.
“Every culture and every age necessarily displays some tolerance and some intolerance. No culture can be tolerant of everything or intolerant of everything: it is simply not possible. A culture that tolerates, say, genocide (e.g., the Nazis) will not tolerate, say, the Jews it wants to kill or homosexual practice. A culture that tolerates just about every sexual liaison may nevertheless balk at, say, rape, or pedophilia, or in many cases bigamy and polygamy.” D.A. Carson
Christians are currently arguing whether democracy is the best form of government and if it is sanctioned by principles found in Scripture itself, this notion is a modern innovation: no one before the sixteenth century thought this to be the case.
The founding fathers cared much about checks and balances, about constitutional limitations, about division of powers because they did not trust anyone with such power - the founders had a robust notion of sin. If in our environment the virtue of (the new) tolerance becomes absolute, then ostensibly moral discussions are brought round to this single consideration.
Daniel encountered great evil in his day. He was a man “against the flow.” Looking at the life and times of Daniel in the biblical account we have seen a man who unwaveringly held to the truth of God while at the same time being saturated in the culture and politics of his day. After a tragic event recently, the governor of that state referred to what happened as “evil.” He said there was no other way to describe it. Evil is not a word you hear very often in the public arena or privately today.
The Trinity - God, although one, nevertheless exists in three persons, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. The word Trinity is not in the Bible. It comes from the Latin word trinitas, which means “threeness.” But even though the word is not in the Bible, the trinitarian idea is there, and it is most important. It is important because there can be no real blessing either upon ourselves or our work if we neglect any one of the persons of the Godhead.
Recently a Governor referred to a tragic event in which many people were senselessly killed as “evil, it is just evil.” The point of Daniel 12 is not to describe the wickedness of the final days. Nor is it even to describe the wickedness of Daniel’s own day (or ours). The evil of his age was vividly known to Daniel already. The point of the chapter is to encourage God’s people to triumph in the midst of evil. How are they to do that?
Last week we said, “There really is something like a crisis in the field of learning, and many people are asking if there is not another way. The Christian replies that there is indeed another way based on the fact that reality is neither an equation nor an emotional experience. It is found in the God of the Bible who is the author of but who transcends both emotion and reason. Therefore, to know Him is to have knowledge.”
TWO GREAT SCIENTISTS - TWO DIFFERENT WORLD VIEWS
“This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being … This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all; and on account of his dominion he is wont to be called Lord God.”
Following his death in April 1727, Newton lay in state in Westminster Abbey for a week. At the funeral, his pall was borne by three earls, two dukes, and the Lord Chancellor. Voltaire observed, “He was buried like a king who had done well by his subjects.” No scientist before or since has been so revered and interred with such high honor. (Isaac Newton – died April 1727)
“We are just an advanced breed of monkey on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the universe. That makes us something special. God is the name people give to the reason we are here. But I think that reason is the laws of physics rather than someone with whom one can have a personal relationship. An impersonal God.” (Stephen Hawking – died March 2018)
The ashes of Stephen Hawking will be interred next to the grave of Sir Isaac Newton at Westminster Abbey.
The last nine verses of Daniel almost seem anticlimactic. They are a postscript to the final, great vision, which is long, detailed, and comprehensive. That section traces the history of the world from the age of Daniel under the kings of Persia through the age of the Greeks up to the time of the persecutions under Antiochus Epiphanes. Then it skips ahead to the time of great persecution at the end of history and the end of that age by a general resurrection of all persons and the final judgment.
The earlier part of Daniel 11 has spoken of kings and alliances and battles. We have been able to give specific names and dates to these predictions. The same thing should be true for this section, even though we have not yet witnessed the rise or observed the careers of those prophesied. We have no reason suddenly to substitute a symbolic understanding of the words for a literal one.