Monday, August 29, 2011

Marquis James: A Tribute to the Unqualified Master of Understated Metaphors

Today, August 29, is the birthday of Marquis James. Marquis, raised in Enid, Oklahoma, won the Pulitzer Prize twice. The first Pulitzer Prize was awarded him in 1930 for James' epic biography of Sam Houston entitled The Raven. It is said that President John F. Kennedy was so captivated by The Raven that the book became one of the first gifts he gave to his fiance Jacquelin Bovier.  The second Pulitzer was awarded eight years later, in 1938, for the massive two volume The Life of Andrew Jackson. Marquis James would eventually write sixteen epic historical books.

A Yale University textbook of the late 1940's declared, "The greatest masters of the understated metaphor are Marquis James and William Butler Yeats." When told of the quote, Marquis James allegedly replied mildly, "Who is this man Yeats?" 

Many of you might be saying,  "Who is this man Marquis James?"  

Marquis James is a literary giant and a master of the understated metaphor, and it is through reading his books that I have learned the importance of adding the color of metaphor to both speaking and writing.

A metaphor is a figure of speech which expresses the unfamiliar in terms of the familiar. For example, the metaphor "love is a rose" takes the abstract concept of love and makes it understandable by using the visible, tangible and familiar rose (i.e."love blossoms and grows over time, is sweet to the senses, is in close proximity to the pain of thorns, etc...). The imagination is illumined to understand life better by use of metaphors.

The best speakers and writers are those who most often and most naturally use understated metaphors. Marquis James was a master, and anyone who speaks or writes for a living ought to be familiar with him.

120 year ago, on August 29, 1891, Marquis James was born to Houstin and Rachel Marquis James in Springfield, Missouri. Marquis' father would leave his bride and young son two years later to participate in the infamous September 16, 1893 Cherokee Land Run. With the services of a swift horse, Houstin James became the 15th settler to file a land claim at the government land office in Enid, outracing between 90,000 and 100,000 other land seekers. Houstin laid claim to a quarter section of land located two miles southeast of Enid on the banks of Boggy Creek (SE Quarter of Section 17 Township 22 N, R6W).

Two months later Houstin's wife and son joined him in Enid. Marquis, called Mark or Markey while a youth,  attended the Enid public schools,  graduating from Enid High School in 1910. Marquis only attended one year of college at Oklahoma Christian University in Enid (later called Phillip's University) before leaving Enid and traveling the country working for the next five years as a reporter for various newspapers in major cities including Kansas City, St. Louis, New Orleans, and Chicago, winding up in New York City as a rewrite editor for the New York Tribune.

Marquis formal education was limited to his one year of college, but his enthusiasm for self-learning and his natural abilities led him to become a successful writer. Marquis turned down a job  at the start of World War One to be the Tribune's war correspondent and he volunteered for the American Expeditionary Force and fought on the front lines in France. Marquis was wounded in battle and received the Purple Heart. Upon his return to the United States in 1919, Marquis took a job as the National Publicity Director for the newly formed American Legion. It was in 1925 that Marquis James and Harold Ross, an editor for the American Legion monthly magazine, joined together to found The New Yorker.  Marquis then went to work as a writer for the magazine he helped found.

In 1925, while covering the Scopes Trial in Dayton, Tennessee for the New Yorker, Marquis took a break from the coutroom and went to the local library where he came across a large collection of books on Tennessee's native son, Sam Houston. Reminded that he once met Sam Houston's son, Temple Houston, when living in Enid, and that Temple Houston regaled him with stories about his father, Marquis James determined in that Tennessee library to write a biography on Sam Houston. James spent the next four years researching the life of Sam Houston, and then published his manuscript The Raven in 1929. He won the Pulitzer Prize the following year.

Marquis James eventually wrote sixteen epic books, two of which won the Pulitzer Prize, but his favorite book of all was his autobiography of growing up in Enid, Oklahoma within what was formerly known as the Cherokee Outlet. The book, entitled The Cherokee Strip: A Tale of an Oklahoma Boyhood, was published in 1945, and though it did not win a Pulitzer, it remains one of the finest first hand accounts of early Oklahoma life.

Marquis James died suddenly of a brain aneurism on November 19, 1955 at his home in New York. He was working on the definitive biography of Booker T. Washington at the time of his death. After his death, his wife donated James' original manuscripts of The Raven and The Cherokee Strip to the Enid Public Library, where they remain encased and on display in the Oklahoma Room. One of these days someone is going to write a biography on the master biographer we know as Marquis James.

Happy Birthday, Marquis James. Thanks for illustrating how history can be told in a colorful style with metaphorical flair. We would all be better if we turned off the television for a while and read The Raven or The Life of Andrew Jackson or The Cherokee Strip: A Tale of an Oklahoma Boyhood. Maybe this little birthday wish will point a reader in the right direction.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Louis Zamperini Special Guest at Emmanuel Enid, Sunday Night, August 28, 7:00 P.M.

Louis Zamperini, the subject of Laura Hildebrand's bestselling book Unbroken, will be the special guest of Emmanuel Baptist Church, Enid, Oklahoma, Sunday night, August 28, at 7:00 p.m.

In May 1943, an Army Air Bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean. The wreckage left three men floating in a raft on an unforgettable odyssey of suffering, resolve, and triumph. One of those men was Louis Zamperini, the subject of Hillenbrand’s New York Times #1 best-selling book. Zamperini, now, 94 years of age, has been many things: 1936 Olympic athlete, Japanese POW, decorated World War II veteran, husband, and all around rebel rouser.

Doors will be open at 6:00 p.m. and guests are welcome.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Reason the SBC Will Not Create a Minister Sex Abuse Data Base Is Liability, Not Polity

The Daily Oklahoman's excellent religion reporter, Carla Hinton, wrote a feature article in today's Daily Oklahoman on my recommendation that the Southern Baptist Convention create a data base that tracks sexually abusive ministers. I initially proposed the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention investigate the establishment of the data base at the 2007 San Antonio Southern Baptist Convention. In 2008 the Executive Committee ruled it was impossible for the SBC to establish such a data base, a decision that Time Magazine called "one of ten most under-reported national stories of 2008."

 In Carla Hinton's story, she gives the response of Roger Oldham, the Communications Director for the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, when he was asked about my renewed call for the data base. Roger is quoted as saying,  "Nothing has changed since 2008. Burleson knows the difficulty of creating the data base. He himself indicated how it can't happen because of polity."

Roger is a  dedicated employee of the SBC and does a nice job as our Director of Communications.  I thought I might offer a gentle correction to what seems an attempt by Roger to speak on my behalf instead of the SBC. I can't recall speaking to Roger, so I'm unsure on what basis he claims I have indicated the SBC date base cannot happen because of polity. In point of fact, I have made just the opposite argument. The SBC data base is simply a data base of information. The data base will not in any way, shape or fashion affect 'local church autonomy' or violate 'SBC polity.'

The real problem with the Executive Committee creating the Southern Baptist Convention data base that tracks ministers who have been sexually abusive to others is a problem that very few people will discuss openly. The problem is one of liability.

Churches Are On the Hotseat, the SBC wishes to Keep It that Way

Right now there is no legal connection between independent, legally incorporated Southern Baptist churches and the Southern Baptist Convention in Nashville, Tennessee. Churches voluntarily 'affiliate' with the Southern Baptist Convention for the purpose of missions and ministry, but there is no line of 'authority,' as there is in the Roman Catholic Church or other mainline Christian denominations. Local churches ordain ministers, not the SBC. Local churches call pastors and staff, not the SBC. Local churches fire ministers and staff, not the SBC.

Most Southern Baptists don't realize that the church to which they belong is legally incorporated by the state in which the church is located, and if a lawsuit is filed against the church, the ones on the proverbial 'hotseat' are the trustees of the corporation (church). I imagine that 95% of SBC church members could not even name their trustees, much less acknowledge that the position of trustee existed within the church. The Trustee Board is not composed of the pastors, nor the entire membership of the church, but specific men (possibly women in some churches) who have been identified in the church's legal documents as those who have the "legal responsibilities" for the decisions of the church. Trustees are the reason why churches carry what is called "Trustee Liability Insurance." When a church is sued, the trustees are sued, and the church's insurance company must protect the church (trustees) in court.

If and when a lawsuit comes against a Southern Baptist church from a victim of sexual abuse perpetrated by a SBC minister, the lawsuit will be against the "trustees" of a local church where that minister was employed, not the SBC. The Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention wishes to keep it this way. A data base makes it appear to the public as if the SBC has some type of "control," "accountability," or "authority over" independent, autonomous, legally incorporated Southern Baptist churches. Though a data base would be of great assistance to Southern Baptist churches in being able to track SBC ministers who either been credibly accused of, confessed to, or been convicted in court of sexually deviant behaviors, the SBC Executive Committee would rather steer clear of a data base for reasons of liability, not polity.

The Southern Baptist Convention does not wish to be in the position of the Roman Catholic Church. Hundreds of millions of dollars have already been paid out to victims of sexual abuse perpetrated by Roman Catholic priests. More lawsuits are being filed every month against the Roman Catholic Church. The Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention does not want to create a data base because when the lawsuits come, and they will be coming, the Executive Committee wants individual churches in the hotseat, not the Convention. So ....

The very reason (liability) why the Southern Baptist Convention is refusing to act on creating a data base that tracks sexually abusive Southern Baptist ministers is the same reason why trustees of churches who fail to legally, properly, and judicially deal with ministers who are guilty of sexually abusive behavior should be shaking in their boots.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Michael Is a Name for the Son of God Himself, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ

There has risen a question or two from readers regarding my last post where the archangel Michael in Daniel 12:1 is identified as the Lord Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity. One or two asked if it was "orthodox" to believe that the phrase in Daniel 12:1 "At that time ... Michael shall arise" is a reference to the coming of Jesus Christ to "defend His people." I could quote John Calvin, John Gill, Isaac Watts, Charles Spurgeon or a host of others to show the orthodoxy of such a belief, but it seems that a few readers searched this subject on "Google" and the search engine brought up far more links to articles by heretical Jehovah's Witnesses, who also affirm that Michael is Christ,  than any writings of the aforementioned orthodox theologians. It just proves that Christians who try to base their theological beliefs on what they learn from "Google" are taking as big a risk as sick patients who try to get their diagnoses and treatments from the Internet.

Anyone who denies the deity of Jesus Christ is not an orthodox, evangelical Christian. Though Jehovah's Witnesses are in agreement with ancient orthodox Christian scholars that Michael is another name for Christ, they are incorrect in their views on the nature of Christ. Christ is no created being. He is God. However, an orthodox evangelical Christian should not cast away a particular truth of Scripture just because there is a corruption of that truth. For example, we don't throw out marriage just because the Mormons mar the sacredness of it through polygamy. Likewise, we should not throw out identifying Michael as another name for Christ just because the Jehovah's Witnesses have corrupted their view of the nature and deity of Jesus Christ and identifed our Lord as a created being.

Orthodox Theologians throughout the Centuries Have Identified Michael as Christ

Though there are many orthodox theologians of ages past that I could quote to defend the belief that Michael in Scripture is Jesus Christ (Calvin, Gill, Watts, Owen, etc.),  the words of the great Hebrew scholar Samuel Horsley should be sufficient to show you the orthodoxy of this belief. Samuel Horsley (15 September 1733 – 4 October 1806), a brilliant linguist, biblical scholar and evangelical pastor of the 19th century, is known for his brilliant defense of the doctrine of the Trinity, particularly in opposition to the Unitarians of his day who taught that the early Christians did not hold to the doctrine of the Trinity. Anyone who is familiar with Bishop Horsely knows of his erudite orthodoxy and clear writings on the subject of the Trinity.

Samuel Horsley also believed that the Michael of Scripture is Jesus Christ.  So, to squelch any notion that it is unorthodox, "cultish," or Unitarian to hold that "Michael" is another name for the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal second Person of the Trinity, read the following words of Samuel Horsley, L.LD (Cambridge), D.Theol (Oxford). In his message on Daniel 4:17, Samuel Horsley declared: 

"We read of another personage superior to Gabriel, who is named Michael. This personage is superior to Gabriel, for he comes to help him in the greatest difficulties; and Gabriel, the servant of the Most High God, declares that this Michael is the only supporter he has. This is well to be noted: Gabriel, one of God's ministering spirits, sent forth, as such spirits are used to be, to minister for the elect people of God, has no supporter in this business but Michael. This great personage has been long distinguished in our calendars by the title of 'Michael the archangel.'

It has been a long time fashion in the church to speak very frequently and familiarly of archangels, as if they were an order of beings with which we are perfectly well acquainted. Some say there are seven of them. Upon what solid ground this assertion stands I know not: but this I know, that the word "archangel" is not to be found in any passage of the Old Testament : in the New Testament, the word occurs twice, and only twice. One of the two passages is in the 1st Epistle to the Thessalonians, where the Apostle, among the circumstances of the pomp of our Lord's descent from heaven to the final judgment, mentions the "voice of the archangel." The other passage is in the Epistle of Jude, where the title of archangel is coupled with the name of Michael,— "Michael the archangel." This passage is so remarkably obscure, that I shall not attempt to draw any conclusion from it but this, which manifestly follows, be the particular sense of the passage what it may: since this is one of the two texts in which alone the word "archangel" is found in the whole Bible,—since in this one text only the title of archangel is coupled with any name,—and since the name with which it is here coupled is Michael,—it follows undeniably that the archangel Michael is the only archangel of whom we know any thing from holy writ. It cannot be proved from holy writ,—and if not from holy writ, it cannot be proved at all,—that any archangel exists but the one archangel Michael; and this one archangel Michael is unquestionably the Michael of the book of Daniel.
I must observe, by the way, with respect to the import of the title of archangel, that the word, by its etymology, clearly implies a superiority of rank and authority in the person to whom it is applied. It implies a command over angels; and this is all that the word of necessity implies. But it follows not, by any sound rule of argument, that because no other superiority than that of rank and authority is implied in the title, no other belongs to the person distinguished by the title, and that he is in all other respects a mere angel. Since we admit various orders of intelligent beings, it is evident that a being highly above the angelic order may command angels.
To ascertain, if we can, to what order of beings the archangel Michael may belong, let us see how he is described by the Prophet Daniel, who never describes him by that title; and what action is attributed to him in the Book of Daniel, and in another Book in which he bears a very principal part.
Now Daniel calls him "one of the chief princes," or "one of the capital princes," or "one of the princes that are at the head of all;" for this I maintain to be the full, and not more than the full, import of the Hebrew words. Now, since we are clearly got above the earth, into the order of celestials, who are the princes that are first, or at the head of all ?—are they any other than the Three Persons in the Godhead? Michael, therefore, is one of them; but which of them? This is not left in doubt. Gabriel, speaking of him to Daniel, calls him, "Michael your prince," and "the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people;" that is, not for the nation of the Jews in particular, but for the children, the spiritual children, of that holy seed, the elect people of God,—a description which applies particularly to the Son of God, and to no one else. And in perfect consistence with this description of Michael in the Book of Daniel, is the action assigned to him in the Apocalypse, in which we find him fighting with the Old Serpent, the deceiver of the world, and victorious in the combat. That combat who was to maintain ?—in that combat who was to be victorious, but the seed of the woman? From all this it is evident, that Michael is a name for our Lord himself, in his particular character of the champion of his faithful people, against the violence of the apostate faction, and the wiles of the Devil. In this point, I have the good fortune to have a host of the learned on my side."

Too Many American Evangelicals Are Influenced by Medieval Roman Catholic Theology

For those who may still be hung up on the word "archangel," and see it as representing some kind of "created" angel, I submit that you have received your tradition from Roman Catholic tradition, and not the study of Scripture. Further, modern dispensationalists have so twisted the Scriptures to fit their futuristic framework, that they have unintentionally missed the beauty and power of fulfilled prophecy in Daniel 11 and 12, where Jesus Christ is identified as the Incarnate Creator come to earth to deliver His people.

I close this blogpost with words from 19th century orthodox Scottish minister James Farquharson, a Hebrew scholar and member of the English Royal Society of Fellows. His words should reassure orthodox evangelicals that the word archangel is one of the New Testament titles given to Christ and does not represent a "created" angel (as Roman Catholics and Jehovah's Witnesses believe). After reading the following defense of the identification of Michael as Jesus Christ, I would urge you to return to the post entitled At That Time Michael ... Shall Arise and see if the prophecies of Daniel 11 do not give you chills in seeing Daniel's predictions of future world events fulfilled precisely as God revealed they would be in the 500 years preceding the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to defend "His people" at Calvary.
"Archangel is a title given, by Jude, to our Lord himself. The only other passage, in which the title occurs, is in 1Thessalonians 4:16.  At the first view of that Thessalonian passage, it might seem, that the title is there given to some Being distinct from our Lord. Hence an objection might be raised to the correctness of considering it as applied to him in any other part of Scripture. But when we compare that passage with others in holy writ, we discover that there, too, we must consider it as applied to him.
The words of I Thessalonians 4:16 are, "The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first." Here we must understand the shout with which the Lord himself shall descend, the voice of the Archangel, and the trump of God to signify the same thing,—that is, the summons that shall call the dead from their graves.
 As to the shout, the passage itself ascribes it to the Lord ; and respecting the voice, the Lord himself informs us, that it is his own voice that shall raise the dead to life. Jesus Christ says in the Gospel of John 5:19-29: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, the Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth : and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel. For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will. For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son. That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the Father which hath sent him. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of Man, Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life ; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation."

Thus, it is not at the voice of any created being, that all that are in their graves shall come forth; but it is at the voice of Him, by whom, Paul assures us, "all things were created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, and who is before all things." (Colossians 1:16-17.) It is the same voice, which said, "Let there be light," "and there was light," (Genesis 1:3)the same voice, at whose command the tribes of animated beings sprang to life, and which gave the decree for the creation of man,—that shall command the graves to be opened,  and call the "dead to come forth out of their graves" (I Thessalonians 4:16). On his own authority, also, we learn, that the trumpet, that shall sound in the day of the resurrection from the dead, is the trumpet of the Son of Man. "Then shall appear," says he, "the sign of the Son of Man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other."
It is not said, here, that he shall send his angels to raise a great sound of a trumpet; but he himself shall send them with, or, as it might be rendered, by a great sound of a trumpet. We have thus a proof, drawn from Scripture, that Michael is a name for the Son of God himself. The Archangel, in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, whose voice is to raise the dead, can be no other than our Lord; and in the 9th verse of Jude, the Archangel is named Michael. Although not of "the nature of angels," (Hebrews 2:16) our Lord is their Commander, for "angels, and authorities, and powers, are subject unto him," (I Peter 3:22) and "thrones, dominions, principalities, powers, and all things, were created by him, and for him" (Colossians 1:16).
We observe, further, that the very name, Michael, is an appropriate name for our Lord, and for him alone. The literal meaning of the term Michael is, Who is like unto God; or, supplying the obvious ellipsis, He who is like unto God.

It does not belong to our present subject to illustrate, at length, the peculiar and essential doctrine of the Christian religion, presented to our notice in this literal meaning of the name Michael. Our immediate purpose is, to demonstrate that Michael, the great Prince who standeth for the children of Daniel's people, is clearly no other than Christ.

Confining ourselves here, then, to the proof of this, we observe, that Christ himself, in the passage we quoted from John chapter five, claims like honour to himself as is due to the Father, and says, that "as the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself, and as the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom he will." Here then is a claim, on the part of Christ himself, to a likeness to God, in some of the most essential powers and attributes of the divine nature.

The Apostle Paul, in declaring the Divinity of Christ's nature, has often made use of terms that might seem to be professedly translations of the name "Michael," (i.e. "who is like unto God"). In 2 Corinthians 4:4, he says, "the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them." In Philippians 2:5- 7, he says, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus; Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; But made himself of no reputation.” In Colossians 1:15, he calls Christ-the Father's dear Son, “ the image of the invisible God." And in the beginning of the Epistle to the Hebrews 1:1-4 he says, God “ hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high."

We might adduce many other proofs to a similar effect, but we trust it is now abundantly demonstrated, that Michael, the great Prince, in this last vision of Daniel, is the same with him who is predicted as the Messiah."

Monday, August 15, 2011

"At That Time Michael ... Shall Arise:" The Basis for Your Trust of the Gospel

How do you know the God of the Bible is the one true God? On what basis do you believe the message of the Bible is reliable? What gives you assurance that Christianity is superior to other world religions? Think for a moment how you might respond if a non-Christian were to ask you, “How do you know Christianity is true?”

Many Christians might say, “I know Christianity is true because my faith brings me peace and comfort. I feel the truth I believe. God has changed my life for the better through my faith. I know the message of Christianity is real because of my experience.”

Unfortunately, testifying of your comfort and changed life in believing the Christian message is not a unique religious testimony. The Taoist, the Buddhist, the Muslim, and the Hindu could all say the same thing. Their lives, in their minds, have changed for the better because of their religious faith. Ironically, even skeptics and atheists will argue that their lack of faith brings just as much peace and feels just as right to them, particularly in a scientific world that has no need of religion.

So I ask again. How do you know Christianity is true? What is the basis for your assurance that Christianity is superior to every other faith religion or even no faith at all? How do you know that the God of the Bible is the One True God and the biblical account of Him coming to earth, dying on a cross, and rising from the dead for the deliverance of sinners is the message that should be accepted above all other religious messages?

Other than your personal experience and testimony, you may have little or no idea how to defend your faith. You may even be uncomfortable proclaiming the exclusivity of Christ, as are many theological liberals,  because you are unable to defend your Christian faith. Even worse, you may not know that your inability to always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” is dishonoring to Christ.

This post is designed to enable you, regardless of your age or education, to never shrink away from the politically correct individuals who try to shame you for boldly declaring that receiving the gospel message is the only way to know God personally. Spend a few minutes reading this post closely, and when you are done, you might find yourself getting excited about defending Christianity to others.

Only the One True God Can Tell Us the Future

The Lord says in Isaiah 42:8-9 "I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another ... new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you." This is an astounding claim which, if true, conclusively proves that the God of the Bible is the one true God.

God alone or, more precisely, the one true God alone, can tell us future events before they happen. The LORD, the God of the Bible, makes this claim for Himself. He says that He tells us things “before they spring into being” (Isaiah 42:8-9). No other god can do this. This, in the end, is the only way to be sure that Christianity is the one true religion and the God of Christianity is the one true God.

There is not one religious book in the world, other than the Bible, that even attempts prophecy. There are no prophecies in the Quran of Islam, the Diamond Sutra of Buddhism, the Smitri of Hinduism, the Pearl of Great Price of Mormonism, or any other holy book of the world’s religions. No other religious book, other than the Bible, even attempts to prophecy the future. God tells the biblical prophets the future, and the Bible prophecies recorded for us are so accurate in foretelling future events that nobody should ever doubt the message the Bible contains.

The Lord inspires His prophets to speak of things “not yet sprung forth,” and we are able to verify these prophecies because we have lived to see them fulfilled. For example, one set of prophecies, made hundreds of years before their fulfillment, are those prophecies regarding the coming Messiah. These “Messianic prophecies” include statements foretelling that the Messiah would be a descendant of Abraham (Gen. 12:3; Gen. 22:18), would come from the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:10), and would be a direct descendant of King David, (2 Sam. 7:12 and 13). The Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), ride into Jerusalem on a donkey (Zech. 9:9) and would suffer silently before his accusers (Gen. 3:15; Isa. 53:5; Isa. 53:7). He would be considered a criminal and executed with other criminals (Isa. 53:12) while making intercession for those with whom he died (Isa. 53:12). The Messiah would have his hands and feet pierced (Ps. 22:16). He would be buried in the tomb of a wealthy man (Isa. 53:9) and his dead body would not see decay (Ps. 16:10). He would also rise from the dead (Ps. 2:7-9; Ps. 16:10 and 11; Isa. 53:9-12). These Messianic biblical prophecies (and dozens more) were given at least five hundred years before the birth of Jesus of Nazareth came to earth and fulfilled them all.

Skeptics might object that Jesus could have read the writings of the Jewish prophets and self-fulfilled everything they said about the coming Messiah. I find that argument rather ridiculous, but rather than resting my assurance in the veracity of the Christian message on the fulfillment of biblical Messianic prophecies in Jesus Christ, I turn to the the stunning and amazing prophecies of Daniel 11 and 12 and discover the capstone defense of the Christian faith. The fulfilled prophecies of Daniel 11 and 12 give us irrefutable evidence that the God of the Bible is the one true God, and that He has chosen to reveal Himself as Emmanuel (i.e. “God with us”) in the Person of Jesus the Messiah.

Daniel is one of those Bible books that many Christians avoid because they find it difficult to understand. However, with just a little knowledge of world history, the ability to place Daniel in its proper context to ancient Hebrew history, and the patience to study the Bible for something more than serendipitous personal devotionals, you will find yourself supplied with an Anchor of hope in Christianity that can never be shaken or taken away.

The Power of Fulfilled Prophecy

In the year 535 B.C. God told Daniel about the major world events that would occur over the ensuing six hundred years -- from 530 B.C. to 70 A.D--and Daniel, in turn, foretold to King Darius future world events.  These prophecies God gave Daniel include world events that would occur during the years between the close of the Old Testament (Malachi) in 440 B.C. and the beginning of the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) in 4 B.C. The world events occurring between the Testaments include the fall of the Persian Empire (modern day Iran), the rise of the Grecian Empire (modern day Greece) and Alexander the Great’s conquest of the known world, the premature death of Alexander at thirty-three years of age and the division of Alexander’s empire into four districts (north, south, east and west), the great conflict between the Seleucids of the north (the Syrians) and the Ptolemies of the south (the Egyptians), and the ultimate rise of the Roman Empire and the establishment of Roman emperors as the “gods of the world.” In the first century BC world events included the rise in power of Julias Caesar's adopted son Octavius, otherwise known as Augustus Caesar, the attempted revolt by Antony and Cleopatra against Octavius, and the assignment by the Roman Senate that Herod the Great rule the Jews in Judea on behalf of the Romans. Finally, in the first century AD the Roman Empire made the determination to destroy the Jewish Temple and the city of Jerusalem, effectively ending the Old Covenant Hebrew system of worship.   All of the above events occurred during the 600 years from 530 B.C. to A.D. 70.  and Daniel prophesies each and every one of the aforementioned events in specific and mind-blowing detail in Daniel 11 and 12 for one purpose--to identify the date of the coming Savior of the world. In giving the precise sequence of order in which these future events would occur, five hundred years before they happened,  Daniel tells us when Michael ... shall arise. Michael is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Savior and Defender of His People.

How could Daniel prophesy these things? God told Daniel about world events “before they sprang forth” and commanded Daniel to write down the prophecies hundreds of years before they were fulfilled. Think about this. The ability to foretell world events for the next 600 years in stunning detail would be astonishing confirmation that the One who told you the future is the true God of the universe. We can’t even tell who the next President of the United States will be, but God knows the end from the beginning, and should He choose to tell us the future, we would tell others in order to prove that our God is the one true God. This is precisely what Daniel did. God was telling the world when He was coming to earth, and your confidence that "all the fulness of the Godhead" bodily dwelt in Jesus Christ is supported by fulfilled the fulfilled prophecies of Daniel.

Daniel in the Dead Sea Scrolls
So accurately do the events described in Daniel 11 and Daniel 12 correspond with actual history that the infidel, Porphyry, could not evade the force of the argument that the Bible was written by Divine Inspiration except by claiming Daniel was written by an imposter after the events prophesied had actually occurred. Porphyry and other scoffers of the Bible long claimed that an unknown Hebrew scholar, after the fall of the Persian Empire, after the rise and fall of the Grecian Empire, and after the ultimate rise of the Roman Empire and her emperors, pretended to be Daniel and wrote the book of Daniel. Their theory, however, was dashed to pieces by a shepherd boy who threw a rock into a cave in Israel in 1947 and science discovered the Dead Sea Scrolls. It has now been conclusively proven that the Daniel manuscript in the Dead Sea Scrolls dates from before the fulfillment of the prophecies of Daniel 11 and 12.

God refuses to share His glory.

For an incredible exposition of the fulfilled prophecies of Daniel 11 and Daniel 12 see this rare 1838  book by James Farquharson, LL.D. F.R.S. entitled  "Daniel's Last Vision and Prophecy." To assist the reader who wishes not to dowload the full PDF file linked above, I am offering an abbreviated exposition of Daniel 11, to show the power of fulfilled prophecy and why you never ought to doubt Jesus Christ as the one true God.

A Brief Review of the Fulfilled Prophecies of Daniel 11

(Daniel 11:1) “In the first year of Darius the Mede, I arose to be an encouragement and protection for him" —

Daniel Before King Darius (535 B.C.)
Daniel had been a Hebrew captive in Babylon (modern day Iraq) since 587 B.C. However, God determined that the Babylonian Empire would fall to the Medes and Persians in 538 B.C., an event chillingly described in Daniel 5. God told the leaders of Babylon – Mene, Mene, Tekel Upharsin,” which means “you have been weighed in the balances [of God’s justice] and found wanting.” God judged Belshazzar and the Babylonian leaders for their desecration of the Hebrew Temple vessels, and the Lord brought down the kingdom of Babylon through an invasion of the Medes and the Persians. The Hebrew captives in Babylon, including Daniel, became the captives of the Persians. Two kings ruled Babylon simultaneously in 535 B.C., Cyrus (the Persian king) and Darius (the Mede king), as their armies continued a conquest of the known world. Daniel 11 opens with Daniel being encouraged by the angel Gabriel that he (Gabriel) had "encouraged" King Darius the Mede. The order had been given by Cyrus (and Darius) to release the Jews from captivity in order allow them to return to Jerusalem and rebuild their city and the Temple. The forces of hell did not like Cyrus' edict to release the Jews, and Gabriel, on behalf of Israel, "strengthened" Darius to follow through. This prophecy of Daniel 11 and 12 is called “the latter prophecy” or “the last prophecy” of Daniel. The prophecy encompasses events that would occur in the world over the next 600 years (530 B.C. to A.D. 70).

(Daniel 11:2) “Behold, there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia; and the fourth shall be far richer than them all.”

Here Daniel is given a glimpse into the future. Four additional kings of Persia would arise after the reign of Darius and Cyrus. History records that things happened precisely as Daniel recorded them. The first king was Cambyses, the son of Cyrus who ruled the Persian kingdom from 530-522 B.C. The second king was Bardiya (522 B.C.). The third king was Darius, the son of Hystaspes, who ruled from 521-486 B.C. The fourth king was Xerxes, who ruled Persian from 486 B.C. to 465 B.C. and was involved in continual attempts to defeat a newcomer to world power--Greece. After Xerxes, the Persian Empire would be ruled by lesser Persian kings.
Xerxes  as portrayed in the movie 300

Ironically, many young people today are familiar with Xerxes. Fascination with ancient Sparta, and particularly the Battle of Thermopylae, has led to a rise in popularity of Xerxes in modern culture. He is depicted as a massive, evil and incompetent giant in the modern Hollywood version of the movie 300, played by Brazilian actor Rodrigo Santoro. This portrayal of Xerxes angered the government of modern Iran. The video game Assassin's Creed II gives Xerxes cult status. He is the leader of the Persian Empire in the video game Civilization II and Civilization III. American rapper King Gordy released an album titled Xerxes the God King on August 1, 2010. Most Christians do not even know that the Bible accurately prophesies that the fourth Persian king after Cyrus, King Xerxes, would be the richest (most powerful) king of all Persian kings. Other Persian kings would follow, but none would hold the distinction of being as powerful as Xerxes, the fourth king after Cyrus. It is during the reign of Xerxes that the biblical story of Esther occurs.

(Daniel 11:3-4) “And a mighty king shall stand up that shall rule with great dominion ... but as soon as he has arisen his kingdom will be broken up and parceled out toward the four points of the compass, though not to his own descendents.”

This “mighty king” that arose was Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.), the ruler of Greece during the rise of the Grecian Empire. Alexander the Great (Greek: Megas Alexandros) conquered all of the former Medo-Persian Empire as well as the rest of the world, and sat down and wept when he realized there were no worlds left to conquer. Alexander died at 33, at the peak of his power, and just like Daniel 11:3-4 prophesies, Alexander’s Grecian Empire was divided among four people—Seleucus (north), Antigonus (east), Philip (west) and Ptolemy (south). These four were Alexander's generals and not his relatives or descendents.

Again, many modern Christians may watch the 2004 epic film Alexander, directed by Oliver Stone and starring Colin Farrell, but never realize that the the prophet Daniel, in Daniel 11:3-4 prophesies accurately and in stunning detail the accomplishments, downfall and division of the kingdom of Alexander the Great--two hundred years before Alexander was even born. It is through a lack of understanding fulfilled prophecy that many Christians have little stomach to stand up against those who pronounce us arrogant for saying Christianity is the only true religion in the world.

From Daniel 11:5 through 11:23 we have a vivid description of the kings of the South (the Ptolemaic Dynasty of Egypt) warring against the kings of the North (Seleucid Dynasty of Syria). The Ptolemaic Dynasty of Egypt reigned from 305-30 B.C. when it was finally conquered by Roman Empire. The Ptolemies were the 32nd and last dynasty of Ancient Egypt. The Seleucid Dynasty reined over the Greco-Syrian Empire from 312-64 B.C. Again, most people have no clue that the Bible vividly describes the rise of the two greatest kingdoms of the 4th century B.C. and their wars against each other -- hundreds of years before the kingdoms arose and the wars occured. In this section of the prophecy there is a detailed description of the different kings that would reign over the Northern kingdom (the Seleucids of Syria) and the Southern kingdom (the Ptolemies of Egypt).  The prophecies of Daniel in these verses, detailing the various kings of the Ptolemy Dynasty of Egypt and the Seulicid Dynasty of ancient Syria and their actions, can be compared to actual history and it is irrefutible that events in the two major world empires of 300 B.C. to 170 B.C. occurred precisely as Daniel foretold they would.

Slaughtering a pig on the altar
In Daniel 11:24-35  we have a lengthy and vivid description of a Seulicid king named Antiochus Epiphanes (215 B.C. to 165 B.C.) who battled the Egyption Ptolemies, but lost his most aggressive campaign against them when the rising Roman Empire sided with the Egyptian Empire and "drew the line in the sand" in 168 B.C. and told Antiochus not to cross it or he would be entering into war against both Rome and Egypt. This is where the saying "a line in the sand" originates. Antiochus did not cross it for fear of the Romans and, humiliated and angry, Antiochus left the outskirts of the Egyptian empire and made his way back north to Syria. However, he stopped on his journey back home in Jerusalem and vented his anger against the Jews and the Temple of the Jews. In this section of  Daniel's prophecy  (remember the prophecy was made in 535 B.C.), Daniel  vividly foretells what Antiochus would do against the Jews and the Temple in 168 A.D. The "abomination of desolation" (v. 32), which occurred in the Hebrew Temple of Jersualem, included Antiochus slaughtering a pig on the holy altar. Many Jews were also murdered by the wicked king.  

(Daniel 11:33-35) “ ... but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.”

The people who “know their God" and are strong, in context, are the Maccabbees. These three verses in Daniel describe the Jewish followers of Judas Maccabeus,  who arose in revolt against the tyranny of the "evil king" Antiochus . They led the Jews to seek to overthrow the Seulicid Empire and Antiochus Epiphanes beginning in 167 B.C. The war of the Maccabbees against the Seulicids lasted for seven years and is recorded in the historical books of I and II Maccabees.

(Daniel 11:36) “And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvelous things against the God of gods ...

The description of the king who prospers and exalts himself above every God is a reference to the rise of King Herod the Great, who put an end to Maccabean (Hasmonean Jewish) rule of Judea. Herod was made King of the Jews by the Roman Senate in 39 B.C. but it took him three years to defeat the Maccabeans and gain control of Jerusalem in 36 B.C. Herod's allegience throughout his reign as King of the Jews was to Rome. 

Herodium, one of Herod's walled "fortresses."

(Daniel 11:37-38) “Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all. But in his estate shall he honor the god of fortresses [Hebrew: Maozim]: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honor with gold, and silver …”

This prophecy of the one who worships the god of fortresses (Maozim) refers to Herod the Great (74 B.C. to 4 B.C.).  Herod was an ethnic Idumean and worshiped the "god of fortresses." He built over a dozen heavily fortified fortresses, including Herodium and Masada during his tenure as King of the Jews. His fortresses are still able to be to toured throughout Israel today.

(Daniel 11:39-44) Describes the expansion of the King Herod's influence and grip of power over all Judea, the land of the Jews, and the rebuilding of the Temple with "costly stones," which Herod heavily fortified to garrison his army (i.e. "the Antonia Fortress").  The Roman Senate had designated Herod King of the Jews in 39 B.C., but it took Herod three years to defeat the Maccabeans and gain control of Jerusalem. Herod the Great, ruled Judea with an iron fist from 36 B.C. to 4 B.C. Though he sought to gain favor with the Jews by ordering the rebuilding of the Temple, called "Herod's Temple," he was a singularly vile and wicked 'King' to the Jews. 

Five years into Herod's reign over the Jews (31 B.C.), Cleopatra of Egypt convinced Antony to attack Octavius of Rome. The year long battle between the "king of the south" (i.e. Cleopatra) and the king of the north (i.e. Octavius) is vividly described in Daniel 11:40-44. Octavius initially defeated Antony and Cleopatra in the naval battle called Actium (September 16, 31 B.C.), overwhelming the aggressive Egyptian forces "like a whirlwind" (v. 40). King Herod of Judea, who had initially aligned "with" Cleopatra, eventually switched his allegience to Octavius. After Cleopatra and Antony retreated their forces to Alexandria, Octavius marched his Roman armies south, through Judea,  moving his massive infanty to attack the Egyptians forces in Egypt. Octavius' army defeated Antony and Cleopatra and their Egyptian armies in 30 B.C., putting an end to the Ptolemaic Dynasty of Egypt

After the the conquest of Egypt, Octavius (63 B.C. to A.D. 14) became the first emperor of Rome, receiving the title Augustus Caesar from the Roman Senate. Augustus was the first in a long line of Roman emperors who would claim 'deity' for themselves. The Roman Emperor became known as “The Son of God and the Savior of the World” according to Roman inscriptions of the day. It is to this foolish designation of the Roman Emperor to which Peter refers in Acts 4:12: “For there is none other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

King Herod of Judea, in tribute to the new Emperor of Rome, and possibly hoping to make the Emperor forget Herod had initially alligned "with" Cleopatra, built for Augustus a city on the Mediterranean coast in Judea and called it "Caesarea by the Sea," the place the Apostle Paul would later be held as a prisoner before being shipped to Rome. It was during the reign of Caesar Augustus as Emperor of Rome (30 B.C. to 14 A.D.) and King Herod as Roman tetrarch of Judea  (36 B.C. to 4 B.C.), that the prophesied Savior of the World, the eternal Son of God and true King of Kings would enter the world (i.e. "At that time Michael ... shall arise"). When Herod the Great heard the rumors of this "coming King" he was greatly troubled.

The Magi from the East
(Daniel 11:44-45)But rumors from the East and from the North will trouble him: and he will go forth with great wrath to destroy and annihilate many. He will pitch the tents of his royal pavilion between the seas and the beautiful Holy Mountain; yet he will come to his end, and no one will help him."

“Rumors from the East and from of the North shall trouble him” is a reference to the Wise Men who came asking King Herod, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews.” In great trouble and inner turmoil, not only because of the words of the Wise Men, but also because of threats from the North (Rome) against him, Herod ordered all young boys in the land of Judea put to death. Yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him. The death of Herod the Great in 4 B.C. is an astonishing portrayal of isolated abandonment, even by those closest to him, and an inability to cure him of his multiple diseases. Daniel 11 concludes with the death of King Herod in 4 B.C., which corresponds precisely to the year of the birth of Jesus Christ, the true Son of God and Savior of the world (Luke 2:1).

"At that time Michael... shall arise" (Daniel 12:1).

I find it so unfortunate that many modern-day Christians have missed the power of fulfilled prophecy in Daniel 11 and 12 and, as a result, have missed the clearest evidence there is that Jesus Christ is the one true God. The purpose of God giving Daniel a glimpse into the future was to confirm that the Son of God and the Savior of the world, Jesus of Nazareth, born in 4 B.C. was the one true God of the universe come to earth. God gave Daniel a glimpse into the future, something only the one true God can do, in order to reveal WHEN MICHAEL SHALL ARISE.

Futurists--those who constantly try to tell us that Daniel 11 and Daniel 12 are prophecies that have not yet been fulfilled and relate to some future antichrist and a future coming of our Lord--have missed the power, the purpose and the truth of Daniel's prophecy. In closing, I leave you with the words of two people, John Gill, the greatest Hebrew scholar Baptists have ever produced, and 19th century Scottish pastor James Farqurharson as they reveal who "Michael" is in Daniel 12:1 (by the way, I trust John and James much more than I do Tim Lahaye or Hal Lindsey).

"Michael the Archangel, who has all the angels of heaven under him, and at his command, is the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ; who is as God, as the name signifies, truly and really God, and equal in nature, power, and glory to his divine Father" (John Gill).

"It is  undeniable that the archangel Michael is the only archangel of whom we know any thing from holy writ. It cannot be proved from holy writ,—and if not from holy writ, it cannot be proved at all,—that any archangel exists but the one archangel Michael; and this one archangel Michael is unquestionably the Michael of the book of Daniel. The Archangel, in 1 Thessalonians 4.16, whose voice is to raise the dead, can be no other than our Lord; and in the 9th verse of Jude, the Archangel is named Michael. Although not of “the nature of angels" (Hebrews 2:16), our Lord is their Commander, for authorities, and powers, are subject unto him (I Peter 3:22), and “thrones, dominions, principalities, powers, and all things, were created by him, and for him" (James Farquharson)

In summary: The book of Daniel was written in the 6th Century BC (535 B.C. to be exact) and describes in detail the Medo-Persian Empire, the Greek Empire, the Seleucids of Syria, the Ptolemies of Egypt, and the Roman Empire—hundreds of years before they ever existed. The details of these historical events are so accurately foretold by the prophet Daniel that pagan scoffers have ridiculed the book of Daniel by saying it could have only been written AFTER Rome came to power and conquered the world, and that the author of the book "claimed" to be Daniel the prophet. In 1947 the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, including full copies of Daniel manuscripts that date back well before the fulfillment of the Daniel prophecies.

The basis for your trust of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is fulfilled prophecy. Only the one true God can tell us the future, long before the events of the future "spring forth." He told us about world events immediately preceding the time "Michael ... shall arise." It happened just as He said.

Michael, the Son of God and Savior of the world, has come. All religions are not the same. There is only one true religion and only one true God, and may an understanding of Daniel 11 and 12 cause you to never shrink away from boldly proclaiming the truth as it is in Jesus Christ, for "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).