Robert Jeffress - The Final Chapter
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. This is a great day to join us because today, we're wrapping up our study in the book of Daniel. Over the last few weeks, we've been walking through this fascinating book of scripture discovering God's plan for our eternal future. Today, we've come to the end of Daniel's prophetic vision where we get a glimpse of the final pages of history. I'm talking about the seven-year tribulation, the final world battle and the glorious return of Jesus Christ. My message is titled, "The Final Chapter" on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
It was the great preacher Dr. R. A. Torrey who once said, "The truth of the second coming of Jesus Christ has transformed my idea of life. It has broken the stranglehold that this world and its ambition have on my life. The second coming has filled me with a radiant optimism: even under the most discouraging circumstances". We have spent the first portion of this service celebrating the first coming of Jesus, when he came to Bethlehem to be that Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. But now we're going to spend the remainder of this service anticipating the second coming of Jesus Christ to redeem and reward those who belong to him. The truth we're going to look at today is the only hope for those who endure tragedy: the only hope is the absolute certainty of the resurrection and the return of Jesus Christ. And it's that hope that we're going to discover today.
Today, I invite you to take your Bibles and turn to Daniel 12. You see, ladies and gentlemen, the Bible says there is a final chapter of this story that is yet to be revealed, and it is that story that truth of the second coming of Jesus Christ that is our hope and the focus of Daniel 12. Now let me remind you where we are in our study of Daniel's. Remember in Daniel 11 and 12 we have this final prophecy that God gave to Daniel about the end of times. And I want you to notice, beginning in verse 1: the deliverance of Israel. The deliverance of Israel. Look at verse 1, "Now at that time", at what time? At this time of tribulation, "At that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise". Remember Michael? He is the Archangel. He is the one who is given charge of defending Israel.
Now listen to me, for everything that we see: for everything that is visible, there is an invisible reason for it. And what you're going to see in Daniel 12:1 is the visible conflict that occurs the last 7 years on earth. The only explanation for the antichrist's persecution of Israel and God's people is because he has been filled and controlled by a demonic force. And that's what we find in chapter 12:1, "Now at the time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise". To do what? To cast satan out heaven, "And then there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time: and", look at this, "At that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued". God was talking to Daniel. He said: your people will be rescued. Who were Daniel's people? The Jews. He said, "At that time they will be rescued".
Now, notice it doesn't say all the Jews will be rescued. There is nothing that says that all Israel, physical, natural Israel will be saved. When Paul says that in Romans 11:25, "All Israel" - you read the book of Romans, he defines Israel, the true Israel as believing Israel: Israel that is related to God not by physical descent, by their connection to Abraham: but by their spiritual belief, by the faith that Abraham had. The Bible says in the last days that there will be many Israelites as well as gentiles who will be saved because of the witness of the 144,000 Jewish believers who, according to revelation 6, will be saved and sealed to witness for Christ during those final 7 years. And many Israelites will be saved during that time.
But notice what Daniel said. He didn't say every Israelite will be saved, he said only those whose name is found written in the book of life will be rescued. The book of life contains the name of every person who has been saved: every person who will escape God's judgment and will be welcomed into heaven. The Bible says only the one who does the will of my father is truly saved. Daniel said the only ones who will be rescued are those whose names are in the book. Now, look in verse 2 the resurrection of the righteous and the unrighteous. The context here is the Great Tribulation that has now concluded: the end of the tribulation. Look at verse 2, "Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt". Daniel is talking about two resurrections here: one to everlasting life and one to everlasting judgment.
Now let me say two things about that verse. First of all, underline that word "Sleep". What does he mean: those who are asleep? The Bible is very clear that when we die, whether we're a Christian or a non-Christian, our souls do not go to sleep. We go immediately to a place of blessing or we go to a place of torment. What goes to sleep is our physical body. In John 11:11, Jesus talked about Lazarus and said, "Lazarus is asleep". That is, his body is asleep. In 1 Thessalonians 4:13, Paul in writing about the rapture said, "For I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, about those who have fallen asleep".
2 Corinthians 5:8 is very clear, "For a Christian to be absent from the body is to be immediately at home with the Lord". When a Christian dies, his spirit goes immediately into presence of Jesus, but his body is placed in the grave, or his body is incinerated: the body falls asleep awaiting a great resurrection. The same thing is true for the unbeliever. Remember when the rich man died? Remember what happened to him in Luke 16? He immediately awakened in hades. His spirit was in hades even though his body had been buried. But one day, Daniel says, our bodies are going to be raised. There's going to be some who will be raised for everlasting blessing, and others who will be raised for everlasting judgment.
In revelation 20:6, the apostle John writes these words about those two resurrections. He said, "Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection: over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years". Now, we've talked about this extensively in our study of revelation and 1 Corinthians 15, so I just put the chart there to help you understand the difference between the first resurrection and the second resurrection. The first resurrection is a resurrection to life and reward. It is for believers only. And remember that first resurrection as I show you on the chart is not something that happens at one point in time. But there are different aspects to the first resurrection. That is, believers throughout the ages get their new bodies: they're raised up at different times in history.
For example, in Matthew 27:52 when Jesus was raised from the dead he got his new body, and so did a few others who were raised from the dead at that time. They were a part of the first resurrection. 1 Thessalonians 4 says that you and I, who are either alive when the rapture occurs, or if we've died already and our bodies have been buried, at that time the church is going to be raised and receive their resurrection body. And then Daniel 12:2 that we're looking at today says after the Great Tribulation of the second coming of Christ. Another group, those tribulation martyrs who have been killed during the tribulation they will receive their new bodies.
And then the final part of the first resurrection: after the millennia. Different times in history, but all of us are a part of that resurrection to life and to eternal reward. But there is a second resurrection. It's described in revelation 20. It comes at the end of the millennium. We call it the Great White Throne judgment. The Bible says in revelation 20: at that time death and hades will give up their dead. That is, every unbeliever since the time of Adam will be raised up for his final judgment at the Great White Throne. And the Bible says on that day the books were opened and the book was opened, and if any man's name was not found written in the book of life he was cast into the lake of fire and tormented there day and night forever and ever. Daniel said there are two resurrections coming. There is a resurrection to everlasting life, and there is a resurrection for everlasting contempt and disgrace.
Now, he believed in the resurrection of the righteous, but he also believed in the future reward of the righteous. Look at verse 3, "Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the many stars forever and ever". Those who are wise enough, who have insight to ignore the deception of satan and to put their faith in Jesus Christ before it's too late, they will shine brightly for all eternity, like the brightness of heaven. And then notice verse 3 also says those who lead many to righteousness. Those who lead others to righteousness, to faith in Christ, they will be like the stars forever and ever.
You know, today, how do we measure somebody's success? We measure success by net worth: by appearance: by the position that they hold: all of that is not going to matter for anything the moment you die. The only thing that is going to matter is what you've done for Jesus Christ. The Bible says those who are wise enough to invest their lives in leading people to righteousness, they will be like the stars that shine forever. Some of you right now are investing your time: you're investing your financial resources in doing just that: in leading people to righteousness. The Bible says there is a great reward that awaits you one day. Remember Proverbs 11:30, "The one who wins souls is wise".
Now look at verse 4 at the sealing of the vision, "But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time: for many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase". God tells Daniel to seal up the book: seal up these prophecies. He's not saying that they can't be read until the end of time. But what he is saying is there will be a lack of understanding until the end of time of exactly what Daniel was talking about. You see, even Daniel didn't have a full understanding of what was going to happen.
Those of us who live 2,500 years after Daniel, we have greater insight than Daniel did, because we can look back in history and we can see 483 of these 490 years have already been fulfilled just as God predicted. We're looking forward to that final 7 years and the return of Christ. But even though we don't have a full understanding of everything, I have heard many interpretations of verse 4. What does it mean that at the end of time many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase?
I've heard some people speculate that when it says many will go back and forth - it's talking about the increase in travel at the end times: the increase in the velocity of travel. Isaac Newton who lived in the 17th century, when he read these verses - you know what his interpretation was? His interpretation was this includes, this is describing the velocity of travel at the end time. He said at the end time I'm predicting mankind will be able to travel at speeds up to 50 miles an hour. When the French skeptic Voltaire heard that, you know what he said? He said: that's why you can't trust Christianity and the Bible - traveling at 50 miles an hour - preposterous! That's how some people interpret that.
What about this increase of knowledge that will increase? Some people say: well, that means that at the end times there will be explosive increase in the body of knowledge. And certainly we have seen that happen. Just assume, like many people do that human civilization began in 4500 B.C. - not man began in 4500 B.C., but human civilization began in 4500 B.C. Now think about between that time, you know when they were scraping around and finally manufactured a wheel: think about that time until right now the discovery of the microchip and everything beyond the microchip: think about the huge body of knowledge that has been acquired since 4500 B.C. And now. Now picture it in your mind that volume of knowledge.
I was reading about genomes, and genetic mapping, and everything, yesterday, and it's just amazing what they're able to do. Now take this body of knowledge that we have right now. If that body of knowledge were to increase at only 10% a year, and that's very conservative. If the body of knowledge we have right now were to increase by only 10% a year: do you realize that because of the magic of compounding, this body of knowledge we have right now by the year of 2045 will have doubled 4.86 times? What we know right now. The technology we have right now doubling almost 5 times between now and 2045.
Is that what he's talking about here - knowledge will increase? I don't think so. I think, simply, what Daniel is saying is this: in the end times: when we get close to the end: the signs start appearing, people are going to be scrambling back and forth looking for answers: looking for explanations what is happening in the world: and there will be an increase of understanding because they will remember the book of Daniel. And the book of Daniel will give them knowledge. Their knowledge will increase.
Now look in verses 5-9, "Then I, Daniel, looked and behold, two others were standing, one on this bank of the river and the other on that bank of the river. And one of those angels said to the man dressed in linen, who was above the waters of the river", who is that man: that giant man standing above the waters? He's the same man dressed in linen in chapter 10:5-6. I think this is the Lord Jesus Christ himself, "The one angel said to the man", to the Lord Jesus, "How long will it be until the end of these wonders"? And verse 7, "I heard the man dressed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, and he raised his right hand and his left toward heaven, and swore by him", that is God, "Who lives forever that it would be for a time, times, and half a time".
There you have it: 1 year plus 2 years plus half a year. It will be three and a half years until these things end. Now look, verses 8-9, "As for me, I heard but could not understand: so I said, 'my Lord, what will be the outcome of these events?' and the Lord said, 'go your way, Daniel, for these words are concealed and sealed up until the end time'". But the Lord did reveal one final truth to Daniel. Look at verse 11, "From the time that the regular sacrifice is abolished and the abomination of desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days". He is measuring the time between the desecration of the temple and the return of Jesus Christ.
Now you say: wait a minute, 1,290 days? I thought it was 1,260 days: think about it. When Jesus Christ returns: before he begins his reign on earth, in which only believers, only Christians can participate there has to be a series of judgments: the sheep and the goats: the other judgments. I believe, very possibly that these are the 30 days needed before the start of the millennium, to have the judgments take place so that only the righteous enter into the millennial blessing. Now look at verse 12, "How blessed is he who keeps waiting and attains to the 1,335 days"!
Wait a minute! You just said 1,290 days and now he's adding another 45 days, what is all that about? Now think about it: the millennium is the time that Christ will rule from Jerusalem, and you and I will be ruling with him. We will have various responsibilities in that government. Now, don't you think it might take a little while to get that government set up? Now, government moves slowly, we all know that, doesn't it? Once the unbelievers go, it'll move a lot quicker, but it's still going to take some time to organize the final world government, and very possibly those extra 45 days are to do that. That's not what we need to concern ourselves with. Look at verse 13, this is what is important for Daniel, and for you, and me to understand.
God said to Daniel, "But as for you, go your way to the end: then you will enter into rest and rise again for your allotted portion at the end of the age". He said: Daniel, don't worry about all these details. You live your life for me: don't fear death: and I promise you when your body goes to sleep one day I won't forget you. I will come and raise you from the dead. And God says the same thing to you and to me. In John 6:40 Jesus said, "For this is the will of him who sent me, that everyone who beholds the son and believes in him has eternal life, and I myself will raise him up in the latter day".
For years the Philippines lived under the oppressive occupation of the Japanese, but after years of occupation the Philippines were liberated from the Japanese by general Douglas MacArthur and his allied forces. Some of you were alive and remember when that happened. When general macArthur returned to the Philippines, he addressed the millions of Philippine citizens on the radio: and this is what he said on October 20, 1944. "This is the voice of freedom, general macArthur speaking, people of the Philippines, I have returned by the grace of Almighty God our forces stand on Philippine soil. The hour of your redemption is here - rally to me".
Ladies and gentlemen, the Bible promises that one day when the world situation seems the absolute, most hopeless it has ever seemed - suddenly without warning, the skies are going to part, the trumpet is going to sound, the Lord Jesus Christ our commander-in-chief is going to appear and he is going to cry out: I have returned! The hour of your redemption is here! Rally to me! Are you looking forward to that day like I am? That is the hope, the only hope for our world..