Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Beast or Antichrist in the Old Testament Pt.7

I finally (after a few months) have my computer back and working, so am now able to get back to posting articles on my blog. My apologies to any readers who have not had anything new to read in a while.

For a while I have been writing on verses in the Old Testament that seem to refer to the beast or antichrist. I have gone through Isaiah and am now in Jeremiah, but I want to digress for a moment. I want to step out of Jeremiah for this post, as something brought to remembrance the fact that many people feel that the beast will come out of the tribe of Dan. They believe this because of the prophecy made about Dan by Jacob when he pronounced blessings on his sons before he died.

Before getting into that prophecy, it bears mentioning that these blessings (and curses) were not merely vain words expressing approval, disapproval, hopes, disappointments, or desires. Our words actually have the power to come true prophetically. Have you ever heard the "mother's curse?" "I hope you have a child just like you?" In my case, if my mother uttered it, and I imagine she probably did, she may have meant it as a curse, but unknown to her, it was a blessing. While I may not have been the world's most perfect child, especially in her eyes, I was a child who gave their life to the Lord at a young age and did my best to try to live a life pleasing to Him (in spite of my many sins). Likewise, my children both gave their lives to the Lord at a young age and now in their twenties are young men who still have a vital relationship with the Lord. While not perfect (who is?), they strive to be good young Christian men who put the Lord first in their lives. I have uttered the "mother's curse" on them as a blessing, as I would like to see them have children who turn out as well as they have.

We (and I am sinfully as guilty of this as anybody) all speak words without thinking of the power they have. The Scriptures tell us that words have power. They have power because God's words have power (He spoke the world into being) and we are created in the image of God. He is the one who gives our words power, as He hears and fulfills the things we say. As such our words have great power. We do not stop and think about that, but we are told it is true, even to the point of life and death.

Proverbs 18:21 "Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof."

Our words can bring life of death to others as well as ourselves. Those who exploit the power that the tongue can bring will eat of the consequences.

Proverbs 6:2 "Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth."

Proverbs 18:7 "A fool's mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul."

There were severe consequences in the Law of Moses for cursing one's parents.

Matthew 15:4 "For God commanded, saying. Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death."

Mark 7:10 "For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother, and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death."

We are told that the tongue is the most dangerous member of our body.

James 3:5-10 "Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!" And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth preceedeth blessing and cursing. my brethren, these things ought not so to be."

Matthew 15:11, 17, 18 "Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. Do not ye yet understand that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man."

We are told to guard our mouths and tongues for our own safety and sake, to think before we speak, and only utter those things which are good and edifying.

Proverbs 4:24 "Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee."

Proverbs 13:3 "He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction."

Proverbs 21:23 "Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles."

Proverbs 15:28 "The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things."

Ephesians 4:29 "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers."

One of the reasons we need to guard our tongues is that God hears what we say and acts accordingly. That is why our words have power. When Israel was complaining that they would die in the wilderness, God said this to them. Numbers 14:28 "Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the Lord, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you." As a consequence, that generation did die in the wilderness, just as they had pronounced upon themselves. I have heard people say that they would like to die young, so they don't become a decrepit old person. Guess what. They do.

Ecclesiastes 5:2 "Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few."

A good example of this was the vow that Jephthah spoke in Judges 11 when he vowed to give the Lord as a burnt offering whatever met him as he returned, if the Lord would deliver the Ammonites into his hands. Unfortunately it was a rash vow spoken without thinking it through properly, as his only child, a daughter, was the one to run out and greet him. Now this is a passage atheists use to condemn God as a person who demands human sacrifice, but this was not the case. God hates human sacrifice. That is Satan's domain. God never would have allowed this had not Jephthah made a vow, but God had said that whatever was vowed must be kept by the person, so Jephthah had no choice but to offer his daughter up. God put this story in the Bible to make us realize how careful we must be not only in making vows to Him, but in uttering things without thinking. It is a sad story with a very important lesson.

We shall answer for every word that we have spoken. I am dreading that day as I look back upon things I have said in my life. I am pretty sure everybody will feel the same.

Matthew 12:36 "But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment."

We are told what we should be saying, though. We are told to bless others, including those who persecute us.

Matthew 5:44 "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you."

Luke 6:28 "Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you."

Romans 12:14 "Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not."

Even praying over or asking God to bless our food has certain consequences. This verse alone lifts all restrictions that having to eat kosher, as taught in the Law, requires. (In spite of what Messianic Jews or Hebraic Christians may teach).

1 Timothy 4:3-5 "Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer."

By asking a blessing over the food, we render it safe and permissible for us to eat.

When we look at the New Testament, especially the words of Yeshua, we see that He pronounced blessings on us by the score, if we follow Him in obedience. There are so many blessings that we could obtain, if we are only aware of them. God's Word is full of them, just waiting for us. When some people preach that these blessings are available, they are often seen as preaching a prosperity gospel. It is not the same thing. The prosperity gospel is that you deserve and demand everything good from God, and nothing bad should happen to you if you have faith. That is not what the Bible teaches. We do not deserve anything, and we have no right to demand anything. The Bible teaches that if we walk with God, are obedient and do his will, we can expect that the blessings He has promised for certain behaviors will come our way. However, this does not mean that we will never have bad times or suffer. We are guaranteed that through the times of tribulation God will be with us, that He has his reasons for allowing these things to happen (whether for our benefit or someone else's), and that in the end it will be a blessing. Blessings are not so much based on faith as they are on obedience. Obedience only comes though, when one has faith.

The Old Testament patriarchs were very aware of the power of words - blessings, and curses. When Esau lost his blessing, he was distraught beyond measure, as he finally realized its importance. He had already treated his birthright with contempt, because he sold it for a bowl of stew. This birthright was a double portion of Jacob's estate when he died and a special blessing. When a patriarch was on his deathbed, he would utter blessings (or not so much of a blessing in some cases) over his sons. When Jacob knew his time was near, he told Esau it was time for the blessing and instructed him to carry out his command first. Isaac, at his mother's instigation, tricked Jacob into giving the blessing to him before Esau could do what his father had required. When Esau realized he had lost the blessing too, he was exceedingly distressed. He wanted the blessing, as the blessing was a part of the birthright and was a guarantee of sorts, of success, but he was too late. He lost the spiritual blessing upon the oldest son when Isaac tricked Jacob. Esau should have known how important the birthright was, but he did not treat it with the seriousness it deserved, and as a consequence he lost it all. He cried and begged and pleaded for a blessing. Why get so upset if it were just some words. The reason is, it was not just some words. It was a prophecy uttered by a patriarch to his son, which God would hear and fulfill.

Now understanding how these blessings are prophecies, we look to see what Jacob said to Dan. Genesis 49:16-18 "Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel. Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward. I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord."

Dan was the elder son of Bilhah, Jacob's first son by a handmaid instead of a wife. By declaring that Dan would judge his people as one of the tribes of Israel, Jacob (Israel) was saying that the sons of the handmaids had equal status with the sons of the wives. As it was, Dan had one of the most famous judges in his line. Samson was from the tribe of Dan. But the rest of the prophecy is not quite so nice. It says that Dan will be a serpent or adder in the path. The snake that seems to be referred to here is the cerastes. It is a horned serpent the color of sand, which likes to lie in wait along desert paths to attack its prey. As such, it is often come upon before the prey knows of its presence. So a horse would trample upon it, and being bitten would throw its rider. The symbolism found in the fact that this is also a horned serpent should not be lost on the reader. Satan is referred to as a serpent, and is often pictured as being horned.

In a previous posting on the beast, it was seen in verse 14:29 in Isaiah that it called the antichrist a fiery flying serpent, who came from the root of a serpent and cockatrice. "Rejoice not thou, whole Palestina, because the rod of him that smote thee is broken: for out of the serpent's root shall come forth a cockatrice, and his fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent." We know that Satan is the original serpent who has his own seed that will be the enemy of the seed of Eve (Christ). Genesis 3:15 " And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." Satan is the first serpent mentioned, and then there is a cockatrice from whom this fiery flying serpent comes. The cockatrice is a mythological dragon with a rooster's head. Whether this stands for Dan, or for Antiochus Epiphanes, who was the foreshadow of the beast, another antichrist figure, or whether it is someone yet to come is uncertain. The fiery flying serpent, though, is the last in the line, so therefore must be the beast. That it is called a fiery flying serpent leads one to believe that this may be an entity who passes itself off as an "alien" come to save mankind. It is known that the beast will be inhabited by a demonic force (Revelation 16:13-14) and will have the power to perform miracles (2 Thessalonians 2:9), so being able to fly (without mechanical means) is not beyond comprehension, nor should posing as an alien in this day of UFOs be an unreasonable hypothesis.

The last line of this prophecy has puzzled scholars for centuries. It seems to be a random statement totally out of place with what goes before or after it and does not seem to make any sense in its context. It does not make sense, that is, if you do not take this prophecy to be speaking of the antichrist. However, if one sees this prophecy as being about the beast, it then makes sense. The time of the beast upon earth is the time when all of God's people will be looking for the salvation of God (or the rapture and the Second Coming) to occur. People will be anxiously waiting for the Lord to return to rescue them. Within this context, this part of the blessing makes perfect sense and is completely in context to what is being said. That being so, it appears that this blessing may indeed be a prophecy about the antichrist and would make it appear that he is in fact a descendant from the tribe of Dan in some way.

Having determined that there is a good possibility that the beast comes from the tribe of Dan, many commentators have then jumped to the conclusion that the beast must be Jewish, but in fact that is an erroneous conclusion. The tribe of Dan is not Jewish. In fact, none of the ten lost tribes are Jewish. Only the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and some of the tribe of Levi are technically Jewish, as those were the tribes in the land of Judah. The other ten tribes (as well as some of the Levites) were the land of Israel, which was taken into captivity by Assyria, and were dispersed among the nations to be "lost". For all we know, some of the tribe of Dan (although evidence indicates that much of the tribe of Dan migrated up to the area of Germany as indicated by names such as the Danube River, Dnieper, etc.) may see themselves as part of the non-Jewish Middle East. In other words, Arab, Iraqi, or etc. So a descendant of Dan might very well be a Muslim. Possibly the cockatrice spoken of in Isaiah was Hitler, as we know he was the seventh mountain spoken of in Revelation upon which Babylon sat. (Revelation 17). He was from Germany where it appears the tribe of Dan settled in and around. There have been people (and even a movie) which have speculated that Hitler has been cloned and will appear again. I do not know that I believe this, but that speculation is out there. What we do know is that a descendant of Dan would not be Jewish, but could claim descent from the nation of Israel, and as such would be able to claim a blood brotherhood with the Jews, while not being one. As it has been wondered how the "Arab" world and Israel could possibly come together under one leader (the beast) and find him acceptable, this would provide a link between the two. A man descended from the nation of Israel who is a part of the Islamic world would have a foot in both worlds. It is mere speculation, but one that bears keeping in mind.

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