Manmade peace is situational. It relies on our circumstances working out in our favor. As soon as we hit stormy weather, relying on what we see will not be enough. In those moments if we only have our understanding, the turbulence of life will seem unbearable. But peace, true peace is not born out of our circumstances but out of who we put our faith in.
God does not promise an easy life or a life without stormy weather. His promise of salvation, however, allows us to live in peace in all circumstances. Friends, we must remember that we are playing out a scenario that already has an ending. Bumps along the journey do not change the outcome. So trust in God to live in his True peace.
How are you handling the turbulence; with God or without?
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1 “Sound the alarm! The enemy descends like an eagle on the people of the LORD, for they have broken my covenant and revolted against my law. 2 Now Israel pleads with me, ‘Help us, for you are our God!’ 3 But it is too late. The people of Israel have rejected what is good, and now their enemies will chase after them. 4 The people have appointed kings without my consent, and princes without my approval. By making idols for themselves from their silver and gold, they have brought about their own destruction. 5 “O Samaria, I reject this calf— this idol you have made. My fury burns against you. How long will you be incapable of innocence? 6 This calf you worship, O Israel, was crafted by your own hands! It is not God! Therefore, it must be smashed to bits. 7 “They have planted the wind and will harvest the whirlwind. The stalks of grain wither and produce nothing to eat. And even if there is any grain, foreigners will eat it. 8 The people of Israel have been swallowed up; they lie among the nations like an old discarded pot. 9 Like a wild donkey looking for a mate, they have gone up to Assyria. The people of Israel have sold themselves— sold themselves to many lovers. 10 But though they have sold themselves to many allies, I will now gather them together for judgment. Then they will writhe under the burden of the great king. 11 “Israel has built many altars to take away sin, but these very altars became places for sinning! 12 Even though I gave them all my laws, they act as if those laws don’t apply to them. 13 The people love to offer sacrifices to me, feasting on the meat, but I do not accept their sacrifices. I will hold my people accountable for their sins, and I will punish them. They will return to Egypt. 14 Israel has forgotten its Maker and built great palaces, and Judah has fortified its cities. Therefore, I will send down fire on their cities and will burn up their fortresses.”
“Learn to listen to your brothers and sisters with a loving ear.”
We display Christ’s teachings when we listen to each other with love and grace. More often than not, we respond with legalistic rhetoric, when really, the person needs a kind word. It’s easy to correct a downfallen neighbor, but it takes divine wisdom to show them grace. Notice how God treats you when you fall. It’s not with a harsh or haughty rebuke, but like a father lovingly picking you up after you’ve fallen and scraped a knee. If you aspire to be wise, show grace and love.
When we treat others as God treats us, we exemplify Kingdom traits, encouraging others to draw closer to Him. Friends, it is not our job to be religious, but to rather share the Gift that has been freely given to us. When you realize that Christ-like love is the formula for sharing the Good News, God can then impart wisdom within you to carry out the goal. Graceful wisdom builds Christ-bearing relationships. So when your brother or sister becomes discouraged, remember to lead with grace and love.
Are you leading with grace?
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1 “I want to heal Israel, but its sins are too great. Samaria is filled with liars. Thieves are on the inside and bandits on the outside! 2 Its people don’t realize that I am watching them. Their sinful deeds are all around them, and I see them all. 3 “The people entertain the king with their wickedness, and the princes laugh at their lies. 4 They are all adulterers, always aflame with lust. They are like an oven that is kept hot while the baker is kneading the dough. 5 On royal holidays, the princes get drunk with wine, carousing with those who mock them. 6 Their hearts are like an oven blazing with intrigue. Their plot smolders through the night, and in the morning it breaks out like a raging fire. 7 Burning like an oven, they consume their leaders. They kill their kings one after another, and no one cries to me for help. 8 “The people of Israel mingle with godless foreigners, making themselves as worthless as a half-baked cake! 9 Worshiping foreign gods has sapped their strength, but they don’t even know it. Their hair is gray, but they don’t realize they’re old and weak. 10 Their arrogance testifies against them, yet they don’t return to the LORD their God or even try to find him. 11 “The people of Israel have become like silly, witless doves, first calling to Egypt, then flying to Assyria for help. 12 But as they fly about, I will throw my net over them and bring them down like a bird from the sky. I will punish them for all the evil they do. 13 “What sorrow awaits those who have deserted me! Let them die, for they have rebelled against me. I wanted to redeem them, but they have told lies about me. 14 They do not cry out to me with sincere hearts. Instead, they sit on their couches and wail. They cut themselves, begging foreign gods for grain and new wine, and they turn away from me. 15 I trained them and made them strong, yet now they plot evil against me. 16 They look everywhere except to the Most High. They are as useless as a crooked bow. Their leaders will be killed by their enemies because of their insolence toward me. Then the people of Egypt will laugh at them.
We live in a world that wrongfully teaches people that we are ultimately in control of our lives. Granted, we have the free will to follow any and all directions. But friends, there is one direction that leads to the ultimate destination, and that requires us to put Christ in the driver’s seat of our lives.
When you move by faith, you will ultimately learn that God’s plan for your life far supersedes anything you could dream up for yourself. This is because He knows more than you or I will ever be able to contend with. Whatever is stopping you from being led, let it go. With God’s direction, you’ll get to the eternal destination.
Are you giving up the driver’s seat or do you believe your destination is better than God’s?
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1 “Come, let us return to the LORD . He has torn us to pieces; now he will heal us. He has injured us; now he will bandage our wounds. 2 In just a short time he will restore us, so that we may live in his presence. 3 Oh, that we might know the LORD ! Let us press on to know him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.” 4 “O Israel and Judah, what should I do with you?” asks the LORD . “For your love vanishes like the morning mist and disappears like dew in the sunlight. 5 I sent my prophets to cut you to pieces— to slaughter you with my words, with judgments as inescapable as light. 6 I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings. 7 But like Adam, you broke my covenant and betrayed my trust. 8 “Gilead is a city of sinners, tracked with footprints of blood. 9 Priests form bands of robbers, waiting in ambush for their victims. They murder travelers along the road to Shechem and practice every kind of sin. 10 Yes, I have seen something horrible in Ephraim and Israel: My people are defiled by prostituting themselves with other gods! 11 “O Judah, a harvest of punishment is also waiting for you, though I wanted to restore the fortunes of my people.
Anyone can say anything confidently. But, put their words to the test, then you’ll see who is foolish and who is wise. Words, just like seeds, need time to grow. It is in the harvest where you will see if the crop is wheat or weeds. A fool will tell you that the sky is yellow even though you can plainly see it for yourself. Does their confidence make their statement true? No! For this reason, do not blindly believe what people say, especially when it pertains to Christ and His teachings.
Don’t listen to confident fools who sing fake songs about God. Instead, ask God and learn by reading the word. We are fortunate to be in a time where we can humbly go before Him and He will tell you the Truth Himself! So friends, do not listen to the sweet nothings of false teachers, preachers, profits, and the like. They sing songs that bring death. But if you truly desire to sit at the feet of Christ, He will delight in your honest effort, extending you a seat at His table.
Are you personally talking with God or are you getting fake answers from a fool?
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1 “Hear this, you priests. Pay attention, you leaders of Israel. Listen, you members of the royal family. Judgment has been handed down against you. For you have led the people into a snare by worshiping the idols at Mizpah and Tabor. 2 You have dug a deep pit to trap them at Acacia Grove. But I will settle with you for what you have done. 3 I know what you are like, O Ephraim. You cannot hide yourself from me, O Israel. You have left me as a prostitute leaves her husband; you are utterly defiled. 4 Your deeds won’t let you return to your God. You are a prostitute through and through, and you do not know the LORD . 5 “The arrogance of Israel testifies against her; Israel and Ephraim will stumble under their load of guilt. Judah, too, will fall with them. 6 When they come with their flocks and herds to offer sacrifices to the LORD, they will not find him, because he has withdrawn from them. 7 They have betrayed the honor of the LORD, bearing children that are not his. Now their false religion will devour them along with their wealth. 8 “Sound the alarm in Gibeah! Blow the trumpet in Ramah! Raise the battle cry in Beth-aven ! Lead on into battle, O warriors of Benjamin! 9 One thing is certain, Israel : On your day of punishment, you will become a heap of rubble. 10 “The leaders of Judah have become like thieves. So I will pour my anger on them like a waterfall. 11 The people of Israel will be crushed and broken by my judgment because they are determined to worship idols. 12 I will destroy Israel as a moth consumes wool. I will make Judah as weak as rotten wood. 13 “When Israel and Judah saw how sick they were, Israel turned to Assyria— to the great king there— but he could neither help nor cure them. 14 I will be like a lion to Israel, like a strong young lion to Judah. I will tear them to pieces! I will carry them off, and no one will be left to rescue them. 15 Then I will return to my place until they admit their guilt and turn to me. For as soon as trouble comes, they will earnestly search for me.”
“Stay rooted in the Word so that you may not get swept up in a fallen world.”
When we don’t know about Christ, this world can seem like the only source of truth. It tells us that life is left to chance and to follow our own desires. To the unaware, this seems fine, but the truth is, this flies in the face of Christ and His teachings. The fallen world teaches chaos and destruction for the sole purpose of getting people to turn away from the Truth. When we’re occupied with our own agenda, Christ is an afterthought.
Rules of Engagement
Friends, learn how to tame your flesh, or else you will be ruled by it. The devil does not care about your possessions or anything else in this world. He wants to steal your faith so that you trade in your salvation for a bunch of lies. He does this by touting flesh-driven desires. Understanding this, work to build your relationship with Christ so that you can understand how to avoid the trappings of a fallen world.
Are you developing your roots in Christ or are you swept up in your flesh?
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1 Hear the word of the LORD, O people of Israel! The LORD has brought charges against you, saying: “There is no faithfulness, no kindness, no knowledge of God in your land. 2 You make vows and break them; you kill and steal and commit adultery. There is violence everywhere— one murder after another. 3 That is why your land is in mourning, and everyone is wasting away. Even the wild animals, the birds of the sky, and the fish of the sea are disappearing. 4 “Don’t point your finger at someone else and try to pass the blame! My complaint, you priests, is with you. 5 So you will stumble in broad daylight, and your false prophets will fall with you in the night. And I will destroy Israel, your mother. 6 My people are being destroyed because they don’t know me. Since you priests refuse to know me, I refuse to recognize you as my priests. Since you have forgotten the laws of your God, I will forget to bless your children. 7 The more priests there are, the more they sin against me. They have exchanged the glory of God for the shame of idols. 8 “When the people bring their sin offerings, the priests get fed. So the priests are glad when the people sin! 9 ‘And what the priests do, the people also do.’ So now I will punish both priests and people for their wicked deeds. 10 They will eat and still be hungry. They will play the prostitute and gain nothing from it, for they have deserted the LORD 11 to worship other gods. “Wine has robbed my people of their understanding. 12 They ask a piece of wood for advice! They think a stick can tell them the future! Longing after idols has made them foolish. They have played the prostitute, serving other gods and deserting their God. 13 They offer sacrifices to idols on the mountaintops. They go up into the hills to burn incense in the pleasant shade of oaks, poplars, and terebinth trees. “That is why your daughters turn to prostitution, and your daughters-in-law commit adultery. 14 But why should I punish them for their prostitution and adultery? For your men are doing the same thing, sinning with whores and shrine prostitutes. O foolish people! You refuse to understand, so you will be destroyed. 15 “Though you, Israel, are a prostitute, may Judah not be guilty of such things. Do not join the false worship at Gilgal or Beth-aven, and do not take oaths there in the LORD ’s name. 16 Israel is stubborn, like a stubborn heifer. So should the LORD feed her like a lamb in a lush pasture? 17 Leave Israel alone, because she is married to idolatry. 18 When the rulers of Israel finish their drinking, off they go to find some prostitutes. They love shame more than honor. 19 So a mighty wind will sweep them away. Their sacrifices to idols will bring them shame.
“In order to be free of what consumes you, you must starve it out.”
Sin doesn’t just go away by praying to God to remove it from your life. No, you must do the work to actively stop the practice of immoral behavior. More to the point, just because it isn’t easy does not mean God gave you free license to live in a particular sin. Don’t be fooled into thinking that because you ‘tried’ means that you get a pass. Remember that God alone knows the true motives of our hearts.
Sin is a symptom of a greater issue. It’s the external evidence of an internal problem. For this reason, just merely abstaining from the act does not change the real issue. Sure, you may go for some time without the deed, but if the problem is just tamped down, eventually you will fall back into old patterns. So whether you’re struggling from lust, pride, anger, jealousy, or any other affliction, if you’re truly looking for the answer, you must come to God correctly, by asking Him to reveal what ails you.
Remember that sin is the act of fulfilling a need that only God can. It will never provide you with the peace you’re truly after. Instead of asking God to remove the behavior, humbly submit to Him and ask the honest questions. Ask Him to reveal the true nature of your behavior. Ask Him to show you what ails you. Reflect on the Word to better understand the needs of God’s children. As he reveals to you what these issues are, ask for direction. By doing the deep work, God will honor your resolve by imparting the wisdom necessary to break away from sinful behaviors by strengthening your relationship with Him
Are you ready to draw closer to God to change your ways?
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1 Then the LORD said to me, “Go and love your wife again, even though she commits adultery with another lover. This will illustrate that the LORD still loves Israel, even though the people have turned to other gods and love to worship them. ” 2 So I bought her back for fifteen pieces of silver and five bushels of barley and a measure of wine. 3 Then I said to her, “You must live in my house for many days and stop your prostitution. During this time, you will not have sexual relations with anyone, not even with me. ” 4 This shows that Israel will go a long time without a king or prince, and without sacrifices, sacred pillars, priests, or even idols! 5 But afterward the people will return and devote themselves to the LORD their God and to David’s descendant, their king. In the last days, they will tremble in awe of the LORD and of his goodness.
“In order for God to build you up, He must get rid of the buildup”
If a house has a crack in the foundation, it will be plagued with structural issues. The same applies to man and our relationship with Christ. As such, God builds His children from the ground up, keeping only the proper materials for a firm foundation. Friends, it is important to understand that pruning occurs to take away what already is dying.
Loss occurs for new things to grow and flourish. With careful reflection and study, learn to see how God moves in your life to build up His direct relationship with you. Whatever held your attention before you put God first cannot remain. Still, you can rest assured that however, He builds you up, you are a remarkable creature in Him.
Are you ready for Him to build you up?
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1 “In that day you will call your brothers Ammi—‘My people.’ And you will call your sisters Ruhamah—‘The ones I love.’ 2 “But now bring charges against Israel—your mother— for she is no longer my wife, and I am no longer her husband. Tell her to remove the prostitute’s makeup from her face and the clothing that exposes her breasts. 3 Otherwise, I will strip her as naked as she was on the day she was born. I will leave her to die of thirst, as in a dry and barren wilderness. 4 And I will not love her children, for they were conceived in prostitution. 5 Their mother is a shameless prostitute and became pregnant in a shameful way. She said, ‘I’ll run after other lovers and sell myself to them for food and water, for clothing of wool and linen, and for olive oil and drinks.’ 6 “For this reason I will fence her in with thornbushes. I will block her path with a wall to make her lose her way. 7 When she runs after her lovers, she won’t be able to catch them. She will search for them but not find them. Then she will think, ‘I might as well return to my husband, for I was better off with him than I am now.’ 8 She doesn’t realize it was I who gave her everything she has— the grain, the new wine, the olive oil; I even gave her silver and gold. But she gave all my gifts to Baal. 9 “But now I will take back the ripened grain and new wine I generously provided each harvest season. I will take away the wool and linen clothing I gave her to cover her nakedness. 10 I will strip her naked in public, while all her lovers look on. No one will be able to rescue her from my hands. 11 I will put an end to her annual festivals, her new moon celebrations, and her Sabbath days— all her appointed festivals. 12 I will destroy her grapevines and fig trees, things she claims her lovers gave her. I will let them grow into tangled thickets, where only wild animals will eat the fruit. 13 I will punish her for all those times when she burned incense to her images of Baal, when she put on her earrings and jewels and went out to look for her lovers but forgot all about me,” says the LORD . 14 “But then I will win her back once again. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there. 15 I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope. She will give herself to me there, as she did long ago when she was young, when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt. 16 When that day comes,” says the LORD, “you will call me ‘my husband’ instead of ‘my master.’ 17 O Israel, I will wipe the many names of Baal from your lips, and you will never mention them again. 18 On that day I will make a covenant with all the wild animals and the birds of the sky and the animals that scurry along the ground so they will not harm you. I will remove all weapons of war from the land, all swords and bows, so you can live unafraid in peace and safety. 19 I will make you my wife forever, showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing love and compassion. 20 I will be faithful to you and make you mine, and you will finally know me as the LORD . 21 “In that day, I will answer,” says the LORD . “I will answer the sky as it pleads for clouds. And the sky will answer the earth with rain. 22 Then the earth will answer the thirsty cries of the grain, the grapevines, and the olive trees. And they in turn will answer, ‘Jezreel’—‘God plants!’ 23 At that time I will plant a crop of Israelites and raise them for myself. I will show love to those I called ‘Not loved.’ And to those I called ‘Not my people,’ I will say, ‘Now you are my people.’ And they will reply, ‘You are our
It’s amazing what fear will drive us to do (or not do). If you look all throughout the Bible, you will see that people lied, stole, cheated, killed, and so much more on the basis of fear. Of course, if you finish those stories, you will find that those sinful actions rooted in fear always caused more problems in the end. Fear of the Lord is good; all else is wasted effort.
In order to rise above our flesh-driven ways, we must exercise faith, self-control, discipline, and temperance. Like developing muscles or a healthy diet, we have to take up our cross daily to walk away from sin and turn to God. Friends, faith requires action. So if you desire to turn away from wickedness, have faith in the One who created you and put in the work.
What is stronger in your life; faith or fear?
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1 The LORD gave this message to Hosea son of Beeri during the years when Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah were kings of Judah, and Jeroboam son of Jehoash was king of Israel. 2 When the LORD first began speaking to Israel through Hosea, he said to him, “Go and marry a prostitute, so that some of her children will be conceived in prostitution. This will illustrate how Israel has acted like a prostitute by turning against the LORD and worshiping other gods.” 3 So Hosea married Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, and she became pregnant and gave Hosea a son. 4 And the LORD said, “Name the child Jezreel, for I am about to punish King Jehu’s dynasty to avenge the murders he committed at Jezreel. In fact, I will bring an end to Israel’s independence. 5 I will break its military power in the Jezreel Valley.” 6 Soon Gomer became pregnant again and gave birth to a daughter. And the LORD said to Hosea, “Name your daughter Lo-ruhamah—‘Not loved’—for I will no longer show love to the people of Israel or forgive them. 7 But I will show love to the people of Judah. I will free them from their enemies—not with weapons and armies or horses and charioteers, but by my power as the LORD their God.” 8 After Gomer had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she again became pregnant and gave birth to a second son. 9 And the LORD said, “Name him Lo-ammi—‘Not my people’—for Israel is not my people, and I am not their God. 10 “Yet the time will come when Israel’s people will be like the sands of the seashore—too many to count! Then, at the place where they were told, ‘You are not my people,’ it will be said, ‘You are children of the living God.’ 11 Then the people of Judah and Israel will unite together. They will choose one leader for themselves, and they will return from exile together. What a day that will be—the day of Jezreel —when God will again plant his people in his land.
“Your love is a legit reflection of your relationship with Christ.”
I’ll be the first person to tell how annoying people can be. We’re extremely flawed, hypocritical, and self-centered. Even still, God loves us all. What makes Christ’s love for us so beautiful is its everlasting nature that asks for nothing in return except acceptance.
If your love is contingent upon people doing the right thing, then you have no love at all! Friends, we all fall short, and though our misdeeds may look different than that of our brothers, I tell you the truth, God judges us all the same. So if you desire to love legitimately, love as Christ loves you.
Is your love legit or superficial?
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1 “At that time Michael, the archangel who stands guard over your nation, will arise. Then there will be a time of anguish greater than any since nations first came into existence. But at that time every one of your people whose name is written in the book will be rescued. 2 Many of those whose bodies lie dead and buried will rise up, some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting disgrace. 3 Those who are wise will shine as bright as the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever. 4 But you, Daniel, keep this prophecy a secret; seal up the book until the time of the end, when many will rush here and there, and knowledge will increase.” 5 Then I, Daniel, looked and saw two others standing on opposite banks of the river. 6 One of them asked the man dressed in linen, who was now standing above the river, “How long will it be until these shocking events are over?” 7 The man dressed in linen, who was standing above the river, raised both his hands toward heaven and took a solemn oath by the One who lives forever, saying, “It will go on for a time, times, and half a time. When the shattering of the holy people has finally come to an end, all these things will have happened.” 8 I heard what he said, but I did not understand what he meant. So I asked, “How will all this finally end, my lord?” 9 But he said, “Go now, Daniel, for what I have said is kept secret and sealed until the time of the end. 10 Many will be purified, cleansed, and refined by these trials. But the wicked will continue in their wickedness, and none of them will understand. Only those who are wise will know what it means. 11 “From the time the daily sacrifice is stopped and the sacrilegious object that causes desecration is set up to be worshiped, there will be 1,290 days. 12 And blessed are those who wait and remain until the end of the 1,335 days! 13 “As for you, go your way until the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days, you will rise again to receive the inheritance set aside for you.”
“If you keep repeating your trials over and over, it’s time to study with God to pass your tests.”
Every single one of us has trials, struggles, and tests that we must study for. If not, we are doomed to repeat the same dumb behaviors time and time again. God does not want us to waste our time here by being stuck in our footholds. If you’re tired of the monotony, it’s time to open your hearts and minds to the word of Christ.
We get to the next day by leaving our misdeeds and sins behind. Friends, we cannot change on our own, which is why we must read, walk, and talk with Christ to improve our understanding. When we set aside our pride and ask God for help, we learn how to make better decisions. So lean on God and not your own understanding.
Are you stuck on repeat and need time to study with God?
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1 I have been standing beside Michael to support and strengthen him since the first year of the reign of Darius the Mede.) 2 “Now then, I will reveal the truth to you. Three more Persian kings will reign, to be succeeded by a fourth, far richer than the others. He will use his wealth to stir up everyone to fight against the kingdom of Greece. 3 “Then a mighty king will rise to power who will rule with great authority and accomplish everything he sets out to do. 4 But at the height of his power, his kingdom will be broken apart and divided into four parts. It will not be ruled by the king’s descendants, nor will the kingdom hold the authority it once had. For his empire will be uprooted and given to others. 5 “The king of the south will increase in power, but one of his own officials will become more powerful than he and will rule his kingdom with great strength. 6 “Some years later an alliance will be formed between the king of the north and the king of the south. The daughter of the king of the south will be given in marriage to the king of the north to secure the alliance, but she will lose her influence over him, and so will her father. She will be abandoned along with her supporters. 7 But when one of her relatives becomes king of the south, he will raise an army and enter the fortress of the king of the north and defeat him. 8 When he returns to Egypt, he will carry back their idols with him, along with priceless articles of gold and silver. For some years afterward he will leave the king of the north alone. 9 “Later the king of the north will invade the realm of the king of the south but will soon return to his own land. 10 However, the sons of the king of the north will assemble a mighty army that will advance like a flood and carry the battle as far as the enemy’s fortress. 11 “Then, in a rage, the king of the south will rally against the vast forces assembled by the king of the north and will defeat them. 12 After the enemy army is swept away, the king of the south will be filled with pride and will execute many thousands of his enemies. But his success will be short lived. 13 “A few years later the king of the north will return with a fully equipped army far greater than before. 14 At that time there will be a general uprising against the king of the south. Violent men among your own people will join them in fulfillment of this vision, but they will not succeed. 15 Then the king of the north will come and lay siege to a fortified city and capture it. The best troops of the south will not be able to stand in the face of the onslaught. 16 “The king of the north will march onward unopposed; none will be able to stop him. He will pause in the glorious land of Israel, intent on destroying it. 17 He will make plans to come with the might of his entire kingdom and will form an alliance with the king of the south. He will give him a daughter in marriage in order to overthrow the kingdom from within, but his plan will fail. 18 “After this, he will turn his attention to the coastland and conquer many cities. But a commander from another land will put an end to his insolence and cause him to retreat in shame. 19 He will take refuge in his own fortresses but will stumble and fall and be seen no more. 20 “His successor will send out a tax collector to maintain the royal splendor. But after a very brief reign, he will die, though not from anger or in battle. 21 “The next to come to power will be a despicable man who is not in line for royal succession. He will slip in when least expected and take over the kingdom by flattery and intrigue. 22 Before him great armies will be swept away, including a covenant prince. 23 With deceitful promises, he will make various alliances. He will become strong despite having only a handful of followers. 24 Without warning he will enter the richest areas of the land. Then he will distribute among his followers the plunder and wealth of the rich—something his predecessors had never done. He will plot the overthrow of strongholds, but this will last for only a short while. 25 “Then he will stir up his courage and raise a great army against the king of the south. The king of the south will go to battle with a mighty army, but to no avail, for there will be plots against him. 26 His own household will cause his downfall. His army will be swept away, and many will be killed. 27 Seeking nothing but each other’s harm, these kings will plot against each other at the conference table, attempting to deceive each other. But it will make no difference, for the end will come at the appointed time. 28 “The king of the north will then return home with great riches. On the way he will set himself against the people of the holy covenant, doing much damage before continuing his journey. 29 “Then at the appointed time he will once again invade the south, but this time the result will be different. 30 For warships from western coastlands will scare him off, and he will withdraw and return home. But he will vent his anger against the people of the holy covenant and reward those who forsake the covenant. 31 “His army will take over the Temple fortress, pollute the sanctuary, put a stop to the daily sacrifices, and set up the sacrilegious object that causes desecration. 32 He will flatter and win over those who have violated the covenant. But the people who know their God will be strong and will resist him. 33 “Wise leaders will give instruction to many, but these teachers will die by fire and sword, or they will be jailed and robbed. 34 During these persecutions, little help will arrive, and many who join them will not be sincere. 35 And some of the wise will fall victim to persecution. In this way, they will be refined and cleansed and made pure until the time of the end, for the appointed time is still to come. 36 “The king will do as he pleases, exalting himself and claiming to be greater than every god, even blaspheming the God of gods. He will succeed, but only until the time of wrath is completed. For what has been determined will surely take place. 37 He will have no respect for the gods of his ancestors, or for the god loved by women, or for any other god, for he will boast that he is greater than them all. 38 Instead of these, he will worship the god of fortresses—a god his ancestors never knew—and lavish on him gold, silver, precious stones, and expensive gifts. 39 Claiming this foreign god’s help, he will attack the strongest fortresses. He will honor those who submit to him, appointing them to positions of authority and dividing the land among them as their reward. 40 “Then at the time of the end, the king of the south will attack the king of the north. The king of the north will storm out with chariots, charioteers, and a vast navy. He will invade various lands and sweep through them like a flood. 41 He will enter the glorious land of Israel, and many nations will fall, but Moab, Edom, and the best part of Ammon will escape. 42 He will conquer many countries, and even Egypt will not escape. 43 He will gain control over the gold, silver, and treasures of Egypt, and the Libyans and Ethiopians will be his servants. 44 “But then news from the east and the north will alarm him, and he will set out in great anger to destroy and obliterate many. 45 He will stop between the glorious holy mountain and the sea and will pitch his royal tents. But while he is there, his time will suddenly run out, and no one will help him.