Sermon on Daniel 12:1-3
Text: “At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people — everyone whose name is found written in the book — will be delivered. 2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.
Some people mistakenly think that all of the information that we have regarding the end of the world, resurrection and heaven is found in the New Testament, as if to say that the Old Testament people had no knowledge of such things. However, nothing could be further from the truth. For example, we have words of Job 19:25-27, “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes — I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” With these words, Job clearly speaks about his resurrection from the dead. Such is also the case with the words that Daniel was inspired to write in our text. This morning, we want to study DANIEL’S PROPHECY CONCERNING THE END TIMES. We will see that it will be 1. A Time Of Great Distress, 2. A Time Of Deliverance, 3. A Time Of Judgment, and 4. A Time Of Recognition.
Daniel describes the end times in this way, “There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then.” (Verse 1) As the world comes to its end, the devil will unleash his fury in the hope of having more and more people forsake the love of God and spending an eternity of punishment with him in hell. Jesus spoke of this unrest in Matthew 24, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.” There will be upheaval in society as wars break out among the nations. Jesus also said that there will be signs of the end in nature. “There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.” (Matthew 24:7) Elsewhere, Jesus speaks of stars falling from the sky and the sun being darkened right before the Last Day arrives.
There will also be signs of the end in the church. Jesus said, “You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them.” (Mark 13:9) Jesus said that there will be persecution. There will also be many false teachers who will deceive people into leaving the pure truths of God’s Word for cleverly invented man-made lies. Holding to the truth will even separate families. Again, Jesus said, “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death.” (Mark 13:12) Jesus tells us that “The love of most will grow cold.” (Matthew 24:12) People will lose their sensitivity to others and will be concerned only with themselves. The world will be in a great mess. It will be a time of great distress.
Don’t the descriptions that were given sound much like the world in which we live? We hear of wars and rumors of wars. Earthquakes and famines are still around us. Though there is no open persecution of the church in our country at the moment, it does exist elsewhere in our world. More and more countries are becoming openly hostile to the Word of God, as they make it almost impossible for those who preach and teach the Word. Certainly, the evidence of love growing cold is all around us. Look at the abortion clinics, where babies are murdered, all because a woman has the right to do with her body as she wishes. Look at the violent crimes that are committed. My friends, we are living in the last times. It can be so distressing to see and hear all these signs. Some have even asked, “How can a loving God permit these things to happen?” However, let us not lose faith. Rather, let us trust in our God, for he has told us that the end times will be ones of great distress.
However, God has also promised that will be a time of deliverance. Daniel writes, “At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise . . . at that time your people — everyone whose name is found written in the book — will be delivered.” (Verse 1) This assures us that God is still in control, even when it appears to our human eyes that everything is out of control. God is in charge and will say, at the proper time, ‘Enough.’ The book of Revelation quotes God as saying, “It is done.” (Revelation 16:17) With those momentous words, mankind’s history will be completed. The end of the world has come. Those who were brought to faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior will be delivered, set free from this sinful world that has so often caused sadness.
Michael, the archangel, will arise to help God’s people. We are told in the tenth chapter of Daniel that God sent Michael to work behind the scenes of the world’s history. The result was that the Persian empire came into power, so that the Jews were allowed to return to their homeland after their exile. In the same way, Michael works behind the scenes, keeping God’s people safe as they journey to their native land, heaven. God will deliver his children from those last evil hours to the joy and peace that wait for us in heaven. All the people, whose names are written in God’s family register, will be delivered on the Last Day. Because of Jesus’ work, we have already been set free from the punishment that we deserve because of our sins. That is an already accomplished fact. However, on the Last Day, we will finally see Jesus with our own eyes. We will finally experience all of the joy and happiness of heaven. We will be delivered from pain and suffering, from the effects of sin in our lives.
Let us look at the event on which Daniel focuses in verse two, “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.” (Verse 2) All people, who have died before Jesus returns, will be raised from the dead. Soul and body will be joined together again. Then, all mankind, those who were still living when Jesus returned and those who have been raised from the dead, will appear before the Judgment seat of Christ. Every single soul will stand before the King of the universe and be judged.
There will be one of two verdicts that will be pronounced for every single person. Daniel describes some as going “to shame and everlasting contempt.” These people refused to believe in Jesus as their Savior from sin. They refused to accept God’s gracious gift of forgiveness and may have even tried to earn their own way. However, those who rejected God’s love will hear him say, ‘You wanted to be without me during this lifetime. Now, be without me for all eternity.’ Jesus tells us the verdict in Matthew 25, where we hear the Judge of all say these horrifying words, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Matthew 25:41) With these words, God will separate his love from these people. Instead, they will only feel God’s burning anger against their sins for all eternity. In addition to this suffering, there is also the physical suffering of hell, which Jesus describes in Mark 9 as a place where, “The worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched..” (Mark 9:48) For the person who does not believe, the Last Day will be one of great terror, as he sees the almighty Judge, Jesus Christ, descending from heaven. He will know that he must stand before God himself and there receive the verdict that is due him. The end time will be one of judgment.
However, all people need not fear the Last Day. For, just as some will raise to “shame and everlasting contempt,” some will rise “to everlasting life.” This time of judgment will also be a time of recognition. Jesus will call to his side all who belong to the family of God. To these people, Jesus will say, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.” (Matthew 25:34) These people receive blessings rather than curses. They will receive the eternal joys of heaven. Why is that? Daniel describes them as “wise.” “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens.” (Verse 3) This is a special knowledge that comes from God. It is, first of all, a knowledge that we are sinners. It knows that there is nothing good in any of us. It is a recognition of that fact that God loved us, in spite of our sinfulness, to such a great extent that he was willing to sacrifice his only Son for us. This knowledge becomes ours only through the working of the Holy Spirit. We increase in this knowledge as we study what God says to us in his Word. Jesus will call these to come home with him in heaven. Jesus will recognize his faith. As he says in Revelation 2, “Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.” (Revelation 2:10)
Daniel also describes this God by saying, “Those who lead many to righteousness [will shine] like the stars for ever and ever.” (Verse 3) While passage could apply to many areas, including pastors and teachers, let me make a special application to parents and grandparents. We all have a very special duty toward our children and grandchildren. God especially wants us to educate our children in his ways. He wants us to show them their sins, but, also, wants us to point them to their Savior. This is our task, as long as we live on this earth, though it will take various forms. Let each of us take this task seriously, as we lead these precious gifts to our Savior’s waiting arms.
There is great speculation about the end of the world. People put their own fanciful ideas on the clear passages of Scriptures. There are many false teachings. For that reason, let us be firmly grounded in our faith regarding the end of the world. Let us grow in our knowledge of the end times, so that we will be prepared for the Last Day. Although it will be a time of great distress, it will also be a time of deliverance. Although there will be judgment, we do not need to be afraid, because we know that Jesus is our Savior. With that in mind, we eagerly await our Savior’s return at the end of time to take us to be with him forever in heaven. Amen.
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