Do you know the difference between "accusation" and "condemnation"?
Take a look to these verses:
"So they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree:"
"Did you not publish a decree that during the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or human being except to you, Your Majesty, would be thrown into the lions’ den?"
"The king answered, "The decree stands - in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed"
"Then they said to the king, "Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, Your Majesty, or to the decree you put in writing. He still prays three times a day"
Daniel 6:13-14 (NIV 12-13)
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We can see in this passage how the snare they prepared for the king is working, and if we read forward we can see that the decree he signed without questioning caused Daniel to be sent to death. The accusation against Daniel was followed by a death sentence (but God had another plans for the prophet, as we'll see)
It is crucial to understand God's plans for our lives. And to know what are we for Him. An accusation can lead to a sentence if we believe Satan and not God. Let's see another satanical accusation, now against Israel.
In the year 538 BC decreed king Cyrus of Persia the permission for Jews to return to Israel and rebuild Jerusalem's temple. This event is taken as the end of the Babylonian captivity, and we can read in the book of Ezra, first chapter, how the temple's utensils were given back to the Jews, so that they could carry them back to Jerusalem. On chapters 2 and 3 we can read about the first wave of exiles which came back and how they restored worship and began to build the temple.
See now Ezra 4:4-5:
"Then the peoples around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building. They bribed officials to work against them and frustrate their plans during the entire reign of Cyrus king of Persia and down to the reign of Darius king of Persia"
Intimidation and accusations before the Persian kings were Israel's enemies tactics. If you think this opposition is not such a big problem, let me illustrate a little bit more:
Cyrus the Great ruled 559-530 BC
During his reign the rebuilding of the temple was stopped because of the opposition. This took place circa 536 BC (Ezra 4:24) And there was no rebuilding untill Haggai and Zechariah prophesied, and the people resumed the work, and finished the temple 516 BC. If we consider the temple only, its building was suspended for 20 years. But the whole work with Jerusalem was much more affected by the opposition.
After Cyrus came Cambyses (530-522 BC) and Smerdis (522 BC) which we can read about in Daniel's prophecy about "three persian kings" (Daniel 11:2)
Next Persian king was Darius I (522-486 BC) He is the other "Persian king" in Daniel 11:2. During Darius' reign, Israel's enemies wrote letters to him in order to impeed Jerusalem's rebuilding (Ezra 5:7-17) In the second year of his reign prophesied Haggai and Zechariah (Haggai 1:1, Zechariah 1:1) and the people came back to work in the reconstruction of the temple, which was finished by 516 BC, the sixth year of Darius (Ezra 6:15)
Darius was succeeded by Xerxes I - "Ahasuerus" in Hebrew - who reigned 486-465 BC. In Daniel 11:2 it is prophesied that he would "stir up everyone against the kingdom of Greece" and is called "the fourth Persian king".
During Xerxes I's reign wrote Israel's enemies to hinder Jerusalem's rebuilding (Ezra 4:6) and they succeeded so well that in Nehemiah 1:3 we read about a report that Nehemiah got about Jerusalem, which was a real bad one.
Ahasuerus' son was Artaxerxes I (465-424 BC) Israel's enemies wrote to him in order to impeed the work in Jerusalem (Ezra 4:7-16) and they succeed. Artaxerxes' answer stopped the reconstruction of the wall (Ezra 4:23) Under his reign came Ezra to Jerusalem (458 BC, Ezra 7:1-6) and Nehemiah got the permission to go to Jerusalem and resume the rebuilding (445 BC, Nehemiah 2:1) The wall of the city were finished by 445 BC. This is more than 90 years after the end of the Babylonian captivity.
The real time that it took for the Jews to rebuild the temple and the wall was less than five years of work. The other 85 years, the work was stopped because of the opposition.
Is in the context of the rebuilding of the temple that Zechariah prophesied to call the people to came back to work. The people was discouraged, God's work abandoned, and that situation was perfect for sin to rise, in a cynical atmosphere about God and holiness which the spirit of unbelief creates. By this time was Zerubbabel the civil leader of the Jews, and Joshua the High Priest (the religious one, Haggai 1:1) Haggai's prophecy and call touched their hearts too, as it happened with all Israel, which is a sign that they were in the same condition of inertia and religious apathy of all. That's why Satan accused the High Priest before God, because of his sin.
Observe the accusation we see in Zechariah chapter 3:
"Then he [God] showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. The Lord said to Satan, "The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?"
[We can see how the "Lord" Gud's Son is talking to the "Lord" Father. The "angel of the Lord" is Jesus Christ Our Lord. Satan was accusing Joshua, so that the work should not be finished. The depicting of Joshua as a "burning stick snatched from the fire" shows that even when affected by the situation of the whole nation, the High Priest was not still "burnt-out" and it was possible to save him and use him]
"Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. The angel said to those who were standing before him, "Take off his filthy clothes"
"Then he said to Joshua, "See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you"
[The filthy clothes represent sin, in this particular case, the whole nation's sin. The fine garments represent justification. Those new garments were a symbol of Joshua's redemption from his sin]
"Then I said, "Put a clean turban on his head"
[This turban (Hebrew "tsanif" or "mitsnéfet") was not a common one. This words translate the turban of the High Priest with a golden plate with the inscription "Holy to the Lord", or a king's crown. It is always a symbol of authority. "Put a clean turban on his head" means exactly "invest him with authority"]
"So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the Lord stood by"
"The angel of the Lord gave this charge to Joshua: "This is what the Lord Almighty says: "If you will walk in obedience to me and keep my requirements, then you will govern my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you a place among these standing here"
"Listen, High Priest Joshua, you and your associates seated before you, who are men symbolic of things to come: I am going to bring my servant, the Branch. See, the stone I have set in front of Joshua! There are seven eyes on that one stone, and I will engrave an inscription on it", says the Lord Almighty, "and I will remove the sin of this land in a single day"
"In that day each of you will invite your neighbor to sit under your vine and fig tree", declares the Lord Almighty"
Observe this "men symbolic of things to come". They should be the "associates" of other "Joshua" in a future. And this future is attached to the Messiah. The "Branch" - from Hebrew "tsemákh" - means a "sprout" and is almost the same word used by Isaiah - there is "nétser", a synonym - in Isaiah 11:1, as a part of a well known Messianic passage. These words has the implication of a prophecy about Our Lord Jesus Christ.
The "seven eyes on the stone" are found also in Zechariah 4:10, as "seven eyes of the Lord that range throughout the earth" and in Revelation 5:6 as a feature of Christ, "seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth". This phrase means the fullness of the Holy Spirit, to "see" everything "through God's eyes". It is another Messianic quality. The "stone" itself is an image of the Lord Jesus Christ, who uses the word in Matthew 21:42 meaning His own person. He is the "rock" on which the church should be built in Matthew 16:18 (not Peter, who never was "the first Pope" but another apostle with the same authority of Paul or James. Peter himself takes away any possible doubt about it in 1 Peter 2:4-8)
"I will engrave an inscription" on the stone and "remove the sin of this land" is also a Messianic prophecy; the "Branch" and the "Stone" should receive a name and no longer be a symbol of something unknown. This name is Jesus Christ, and the day when "Jesus of Nazareth, king of the Jews" was "engraved", was the same day that "the sin of the earth" - the word "érets" means both "land" or "earth" - that sin was "removed" and put on the shoulders of the Lamb of God.
To sit "under your vine and fig tree" has a special meaning in the Word. Both species could be found in the Holy Land both as wild plants or in human tended crops. But the fruit we can get is rather different. In Isaiah 5:2 we read about the "wild grapes" as a bad result from a cultivated vine, and in Amos 7:14 his humbleness is illustrated by the fact of gathering wild figs to eat (NIV has a non-proper translation for this verse; he doesn't mean to "tend" fig trees but to "gather" figs)
To get a good fruit from the vine or the fig tree it is necessary to tend them for years, as we read in Isaiah 5:1-6 or in Luke 13:6-9. That's why getting the desired fruit is a sign of prosperity, peace and safety, as we read in 1 Kings 4:25:
"During Solomon’s lifetime Judah and Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, lived in safety, everyone under their own vine and under their own fig tree"
Desolation is often illustrated with the destruction of these crops (Jeremiah 8:13, Joel 1:7, 12) and restoration or prosperity, with flourishing crops (Joel 2:22, Micah 4:4) To "invite one's neighbour under one's vine and fig tree" means a situation of prosperity and peace, including friendship, relationships and pacts. The act of inviting someone to eat is related often in the Bible with a treaty, or is a way of showing friendship, honoring the guest (Psalms 23:5, 2 Samuel 9:7, 10; 1 Kings 18:19, Nehemiah 5:17. Jeremiah 52:33, Daniel 11:27)
The prophecy God gave to Joshua included the coming of Israel's Messiah, the salvation He would work on earth, and a state of prosperity and peace. All these are features of the Millennium. And it will be the fulfilment of the prophecy. But as all prophecies, there are fulfilments "in part". That kind of fulfilment is evident for the Jews working in Jerusalem's rebuilding or the church when it restores lives previously ruined by sin. The nearest fulfilment should take place by those times of the rebuilding of the temple. Then the "Branch" should be Zerubbabel - a type of the Lord as supreme authority - to take away the sin should be the act of completing the work, and the state of prosperity and peace, the one which would Jerusalem enjoy at the end of the restoration. All these blessings should come upon them by a single act of God: to justify Joshua, the High Priest, who was accused by Satan.
We have witnessed the rebuilding of a nation in Israel, since the Lord called back the Jews from the diaspora to proclame anew a State of Israel. And many enemies opposed to God's plan now also, exactly in the same way it was in the times of Ezra and Nehemiah, by accusing the people of God. You can read in this site about the boycott against Israel under Daniel 6:4-5, and about the Palestinian problem under Daniel 6:6-7. Those are two forms of the accusation against Jews and against the very existence of the State of Israel, which come from enemies who have caused all the political struggle in the Middle East and accuse Israel, the only democracy of the region. Of course, like on those days of the end of the Babylonian captivity, the Lord blesses His people nowadays as well, and Israel goes on in victory. Because God's work can't be stopped by satanical forces.
We have dealt also with accusations against God's work in this site under Daniel 3:8-12, talking about the accuser - Satan - the defender - Our Lord Jesus Christ - and the judge - God the Father. The victory in this trial is given in Revelation 12:11, where we read:
"They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death"
But we didn't give the context of the verse in that message. The second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ begins with the rapture of the church and the rising of the Anti-Christ's regime, with the False Prophet leading an ecumenical religion. This will take seven years conforming to Daniel and Revelation's prophecies - which we will talk about, with God's favor. The Antichrist will negotiate a truce with Israel, and the Jews will rebuild the temple and restore the real Jewish religion of the OT, whereas a remnant of 144 000 - those who are now called "messianic" - will evangelize in the whole world, showing that Jesus Christ is the Messiah. In this period will Israel be the only voice of God on earth, and the rest will be under the Antichrist's influence (they will receive the "mark of the beast")
We can read in Revelation how Satan will fight with the archangel Michael - the defender of the Jewish people - and loses the battle on heaven. Then the Evil One persecutes Israel on earth. The Antichrist will betray the truces in the middle of the "seventh seven" and will occupy Israel, but God will hide the Jews by hiding them in the desert and Satan will focus on the 144 000 who are witnesssing about Jesus to the nations.
Israel was under persecution in those times of the end of the Babylonian captivity, is under persecution nowadays and will be under persecution in the "Great Tribulation" or "Daniel's 70th week". But God did protect them, protects them now and will always protect them.
In the same way it happens with the Lord's church and with every believer. We can be persecuted and accused, but the Lord is with us to justify us in the blood of the Lamb.
We can read in Romans seven about a miserable condition which the apostle Paul said to come, and which made him to cry, "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?" (Romans 7:24) The builders of Jerusalem came to the same situation, and Jewish or Christian believers in all times have also arrived there, when we don't find the expected fruit of our faith, and here Satan's accusation all the time so that we abandon our God.
God's answer is shown in the next verse: "Jesus Christ Our Lord". And in Romans eight is this answer detailed, talking about Christ sufficiency and the work of the Spirit in us. This glorious chapter was the passage of the whole NT which made a stronger impression in my spirit the first time I read the whole Bible, and I've heard of others who have experienced the same thing. Romans 8:1 establishes the liberation that God brings to our life through Jesus Christ:
"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus"
"Condemnation" in this verse comes form the Greek "katákrima" which means the punishment or sentence which you get when you're declared "guilty". The eternal death begins with the "resurrection of condemnation" of John 5:29, the kind of resurrection for those who didn't receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior in this life. This resurrection's purpose is to be condemned; those who will rise there will go to hell to be tormented on eternity.
There is a difference between "condemnation" and "accusation", "kategoría" in Greek, that we find for instance in John 18:29 when Pilate asks about the charges that they imputed to the Lord Jesus. Our Lord was declared guilty, was even condemned to die on a cross, on the basis of ridicule and false accusations. But the Father's purpose was to make Him bear the sins of us all.
Both Daniel in the lions den and Our Lord on the cross were unjustly accused and condemned to death. God permited both unjustices because He had a plan with them, and in His eternal divine justice He saved Daniel from the lions and rose up His Son from the grave.
it is vital to us to understand what is Paul saying in Romans 8:1 when he states that there is no "katákrima", no punishment, sentence, penalty, condemnation, prision, forced labor, sanction... FOR THOSE WHO ARE IN CHRIST JESUS. It doesn't matter if they accuse us, it doesn't matter if they defame our person, our ministry, if they persecute us, if they ban us from sinagogues or churches, if we get demoted or even if we lose our jobs... GOD HAS NO SENTENCE prepared for us on eternity. There's nothing we have to do to get "free from condemnation" because of the accusations we get. Because there is NO condemnation to us, we don't have to hear such accusations. God has no punishment for us because of those accusations. When Satan accuses us and says, "you are guilty", Our Lord Jesus Christ, Our Defender, is saying on the other side, "I have taken your guilt", "I made you not guilty".
Daniel's enemies accused him before the king, and caused the prophets sentence. But God delivered him from the lions. Joshua's enemies accused Israel before the Persian kings, as Satan accused him before God. Men God justified Joshua and worked in the spirit of the Persian kings to allow the Jews rebuild Jerusalem - they even helped them. The enemies of Our Lord accused Him and got Him crucified. But God caused Him to rise from the dead and took Him to heaven. He will come back to reign on earth.
It doesn't matter what kind of accusations we get; God has no sentence of eternal torment for those who are in Christ Jesus. If you have not received yet Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, today is the day! Don't wait any longer! It doesn't matter if you are or have been accused of any sin; it bears no meaning in your eternal life IF YOU ARE IN CHRIST JESUS. Your "criminal record" before God's court doesn't exist, because Jesus took your sins on the cross, and this record is a blank sheet of paper IF YOU ARE IN CHRIST JESUS. Because "there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus". Receive Jesus, and He will give you His Spirit!
In the love of Christ, your brother
PS. Jesus comes soon!