David Jeremiah - The End
Reading the book of Daniel up to this point has been like reading a mystery novel, wondering how it will end. The first part of the 12th chapter tells us about the prophecies of the end, and the last part of the chapter tells us about the end of the prophecies. Both are about the time of the end, or as sometimes we refer to them as the end times. In the first three verses, there are four major things God says will yet happen to this nation which he loves.
Verse 1 says Israel will be ravaged. "At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people, and there shall be a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time". God said, "Daniel, there's coming a time. You think it's been bad in Babylon, there's coming a time when there will be great tribulation on this earth. It will be directed primarily at the people of Israel, and it will be the most awful thing you can imagine. There will never have been anything like this for any nation up to this time in the history of the world".
This is what we know as the great tribulation. You've heard it, you've probably wondered about it. It is the period of time at the end of the 7 years of tribulation, when, as I can use this hopefully in the right way, all hell breaks loose on this earth. In Matthew 24, we read, "And there shall be a great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world, until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake, these days will be shortened".
When the prophet Daniel says, "At that time," he's talking about this time that I have just described, a time of war and famine and darkness and disease and demons. At that time, the earth will experience wholesale slaughter, the collapse of the heavenly bodies, the destruction of one-third of the earth and sea. The scorching sunlight will burn people to death. It will be an era of the likes of which our world has never and cannot comprehend.
That's the first prophecy. But that's not the only one. The second prophecy is that Israel will be rescued. Notice verse 1, "At that time, your people shall be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book". God says that when the great tribulation happens and all hell breaks loose on this earth in judgment against the rebellion of the nations and the rebellion of Israel, there will come a time when there will be a rescue, and some out of that tribulation will be saved.
And it's interesting that it explains who these people are. They are the people whose names are found written in the book. We can imagine this book, here's the name of every person born in the world, and when a person is born, the date of his conception is next to his name. And then when he reaches the age of accountability, or the age of his ability to understand the gospel, that is entered next to his name. And if he receives Jesus Christ as his Savior, the date of his conversion is entered next to his name.
And so, life goes on, and then somebody whose name is in that book dies. And if they have not been converted to Jesus Christ, if they have not received Christ, the Bible says their name is blotted out of the book. And that is a terrible thought, is it not, to be blotted out of the book of life? So, when a person comes to heaven and he stands before God, and God says, "Why should I let you into my heaven? Let me see, we'll see if your name is in the book".
And perhaps the names are alphabetically, and he goes down through the A's and the B's and he comes to whatever letter starts your name, and he looks in the book, and he sees a space where your name used to be, but the space is empty, it's been blotted out because, during the time when you had the opportunity to receive Christ and become a part of real life, you rejected it and your name is blotted out of the book. Let me assure you that if you receive Jesus Christ, your name can never be blotted out. If you're a Christian, your name is indelibly in that book. You cannot be unborn, you cannot be unsaved.
I know some of you may have heard that you can be, but I want to tell you on the authority of the Word of God that if you are a believer, if you have trusted Jesus Christ, your name is written in the book, it's underlined, it's in indelible ink, it can never be erased. You are a part of God's future and a part of his plan for you forever. But if your name is not in the book because you have rejected Jesus Christ, when you die, you don't have any second chance to come back and get your name put back in the book. It is the book of life.
Daniel 7:18 and 27 says this, "The saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom," who are they? Those are the godly Jews who come out of the tribulation. "And they will possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever, and the kingdom and dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him".
So, here's the picture, you guys. Going through the tribulation will be a terrible time, especially for Israel. Many of the Jews who still rebel against God and will not receive his Messiah, they will be under the wrath of God during that time. But out of that group, there will be a group who have received Christ. They are the remnant of the Jews. Many of them will still be alive when the tribulation ends. But what about those who are killed during the tribulation who are godly? That leads us to the next prophecy, which is again in verse 2.
Israel will be ravaged, it will be rescued, and it will be resurrected. "Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt". The important point that is being made in Daniel 12 is that the resurrection of those who died during the tribulation period as a result of their faithfulness to the Lord, that these martyrs will be raised up at the end of the tribulation period and will reign with Christ for 1.000 years.
So, whether you make it through the tribulation as a follower of the Messiah or you are killed as a result of your testimony, it doesn't really matter because, at the end of that period, all of those who have trusted Christ are going to be resurrected. They'll join all of those who survived the tribulation, and together they'll go into the 1.000 years, and King Jesus will be their king, David will be the vice-regent, and they will rule the earth. And the Bible says that we are going to be a part of that great administration. And we've all been thinking about where we would like to serve, what part of the world we would like to reign over. I know that you've picked your choice.
Revelation 20, verses 4 and 6 speaks to it this way. "I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus, and for the Word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads, or on their hands. And they lived, and they served, and they reigned with Christ for a thousand years. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection, over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years".
What a testimony. There's going to be a time of suffering on this earth, and it will sort things out, One last prophecy in these first three verses. What have we learned so far? There's coming a time when Israel will be ravaged, but Israel, at least one-third of them, will be rescued. And many of them will be resurrected. But all of them who receive the Messiah will be rewarded. Verse 3, "Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever".
What a great, great verse this is. The word "wise" here is a word used to describe teachers, people who teach, who have insight into the times, who impart what they know to others. Out of the tribulation period, some courageous individuals will arise who will instruct people from the Word of God. They will encourage and strengthen God's people during this terrible time. And the tribulation period will also produce courageous evangelists. "Those who turn many to righteousness," is how it is expressed in Daniel, who will be instructing, and who will be instrumental in bringing many to faith in the Messiah.
These faithful teachers, says Daniel, will, "Shine like the brightness of the firmament, and like the stars forever and ever". There's a saying about the gospel that goes like this. "If you want to plant something that will last a year, plant a flower. If you want to plant something that will last a lifetime, plant a tree. But if you want to plant something that will last forever, plant the gospel in someone's life, and that will never, ever die".
The prophecies of the end are followed by the end of the prophecies. Now that we've addressed the prophecies of the end, we come to the end of these prophecies, the conclusion of the entire book of Daniel. And in these verses, Daniel does something that really blesses my heart. He confesses that he doesn't understand a lot of what God has told him. Now, I don't know if you have faced that. I love to study the Word of God and I'm a pretty diligent student, but there's a lot of stuff I don't understand. Can I get a witness?
Well, we want to understand everything we can and be humble about the stuff we can't understand, but it does do me a lot of good to know that this man Daniel, he struggled with some of this as well. All Daniel had is what God communicated to him. And Daniel had the words of some of the prophets that were his associates, but he didn't have all of them. Yet, even with all of our resources, there are still some things we don't understand, but we shouldn't be discouraged because what we don't understand, we probably don't need to understand. And sooner or later, God will explain it to us. And when we get to heaven, we'll have perfect knowledge. And we'll look back and say, "So that's what that was about". But I choose not to be intimidated by the things I don't understand and keep diligently searching, that I might understand them better.
In these last few verses, where we have the end of the prophecies, there's, first of all, a final discussion with the angels, verses 5 through 12. And the first point of the discussion is about time. "How long will the fulfillment of these wonders be"? In other words, "Gabriel, can you tell us how long this time of tribulation is going to last? How long will the Antichrist be allowed to oppress the people of God during the tribulation?
Then came the answer in verse 7, "I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, and he held up his right hand to heaven, and he held up his left hand to heaven, and he swore by him who lives forever, that it shall be for a time, times, and half a time; and when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered, all these things shall be finished". It's going to last for a time, and times, and half a time. And we know from earlier passages that that is a reference to years. A time is one year. Times is two years.
Now we have one and two, that's three. And half a time is a half a year. So the great tribulation we are told is to be a time that is lasting for three and a half years. That is an exact statement and it fits in with the exact Word of God, that the tribulation is divided in two. The first three and a half years are the beginning of trouble. The last three and a half years are the great tribulation. The answer comes back exactly, three and a half years.
The last part of Gabriel's answer is that all these dire prophecies will be fulfilled when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered. What does that mean? We talked about this at the beginning, what is God trying to do? He's trying to bring his people into obedience. When they finally get to the place where they realize they don't have any power, their power has been shattered, the tribulation will be over and the nation of Israel will be purged, and God's purpose will be completed.
Now, that's the discussion about time. He moves next to a final discussion about tribulation. Verse 8, "Although I heard, I did not understand. Then I said, 'My lord, what shall be the end of these things?'" The first question is when, the second question is what. He said, "Daniel," verse 9, "go your way, for the words are closed up and sealed until the end of time". In other words, "Daniel, everything you want to know is not knowable for you, so get on with your life". Daniel wouldn't get a complete answer to his question, but Gabriel did relieve his anxiety by adding a note of hope.
I want you to take the prophecies of the future and use them as motivation for today. If we believe all this is true, what should that mean to us? That should mean that we would be anxious to make sure that nobody that we know misses heaven. We want to take everybody to heaven we can. Our goal should be to get to heaven ourselves and take as many people with us as we can. We shouldn't be sitting around dicing all of the prophetic nuances of the Bible. We should be out sharing our faith with others because we know God has got this under control, we know where it's all going, we know we don't have to live in despair because we see incidents happening in this world today.
We know it's going toward a point, but the main motivation of all of prophecy is, seeing that these things are true, what sort of people ought we to be? That's what the Scripture says. And so, I love this motivational speech that God gives to Daniel. "Daniel, go your way. Get on with your life. Do the work that God has called you to do". Daniel didn't have much left in terms of time, but I promise you he did exactly what God told him to do.
And then, as we close our Bibles on this text, let me just remind you that God gave Daniel three final instructions. I'm just going to run over them quickly. If you're taking notes, you can fill in the notes.
1. He instructed Daniel to protect the prophecy. He says, "You, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge will increase".
2. He Is instructed to proceed with his life. Where have we seen that before? Verse 9, "Daniel, go your way, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end". God says, "Daniel, you're not going to get your answers. Get on with your life". Hallelujah.
3. He Is instructed to prepare for the future. Protect the prophecy, proceed with life, prepare for the future. Notice verse 13, "Go your way till the end, for you shall rest, and you will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days". Daniel was told that, one day, he could be assured of this, he would arise to his reward. God evaluated Daniel and he said, "Daniel, one day, you're going to arise to your reward". And that was his final word.
Daniel shows us the way. Daniel stands up as a man of courage. He spent all of his days in a foreign culture, away from his home in Israel, and now God is promising him that, because he's been faithful, one day he's going to stand again in Israel and he's going to reign with the King of kings.
Remember, we said that Daniel teaches us that when we face challenges to our faith, we don't stand down, that's cowardice. We don't stand aside, that's compromise. We don't even necessarily have to stand against. Interestingly enough, in the entire book of Daniel, there's not one diatribe against the Babylonian culture. It's all about living your life wherever God has put you. And at the end of time, Daniel says we as God's people need to not stand down, not stand aside, not even necessarily stand against, but we need to stand up with courage and conviction.
That's what Daniel teaches us. He teaches us that there's a time coming. And we may be on the edges of it now, when it's going to cost us more to be Christians than it ever has before. Don't you sense that happening? Don't you sense the tolerance for Christians is way less than it was when we started this journey together? We are entering into a period of time, men and women, where we're going to find out whether we believe something or not.
Remember, crises don't make us what we are, they reveal what we are. When trouble comes, we'll find out about the reality of our faith, whether we're willing to stand for what we say we believe. It's here, now. It's coming, and it's going to get more and more intense as we face the future. I hope you will pray for me, as I pray for you, that we can follow the example of this man of God, who stood in the midst of a pagan culture and represented Almighty God with dignity, and with class, with courage, and with conviction.
We can do that. And if not us, who? If not this congregation that is taught the Word of God, which congregation will do that? If not you, who've been a Christian for a long time, if not you, who? The young ones that are just getting here, just figuring this out? No, no, we have to commit ourselves, men and women, that by the grace of God, we're going to be stand-up people for the God we love. No longer possible to be secret service Christians. That's where many people are, they're saved and satisfied, and they hope nobody ever finds out. But God has called us to be stand-up Christians, amen? And I pledge to you that's what I will be, and I ask you to be that as well.