We set out to examining this book together in the hopes that God will grow our affections for Him, help us understand more of His Word, the world in which He has placed, and especially have a deeper understanding of what it means to live like the family of God. My hope and prayer is those have happened on some level. I read this passage from Paul in Romans this week, and I think it will help us see this what we are supposed to experience when we read the Bible, especially the OT:
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.—Romans 15.4-6
As we approach this final chapter in Daniel 12 I think this is what God wants us to understand…
Theme: Our future is secure, so may we all continue in the calling God has given us.
1. The Cure Of Souls—Daniel 12.1-4.
As we read this final section we cannot forget Daniel 10-12 in one section in the original Hebrew. In Daniel 1-6 we see Daniel interpreting visions and dreams for others. But in Daniel 7-12 he begins to have his own dreams and God sends angels to help him understand. The past two weeks we have been examining Daniel’s final vision, which began in Daniel 10.
In the beginning of this part of the final vision we see Daniel is given an encouragement that will cure every concern in his soul. The cure is a clear theological declaration of the resurrection. Before Daniel receives this declaration he is warned things are going to get worse than any he has experienced or has seen in his visions so far—READ Dan 12.1a. But immediately after this statement God’s messenger gives Daniel massive exhortations—READ Dan 12.1b-4.
God’s messenger just told Daniel that he and his family, his true family, would be delivered from all the pain, suffering and turmoil of this world through a bodily resurrection. There is so much in these first four verses I could have spent the whole sermon or a couple of sermons just on them. But for the sake of time I will run through a few massive theological implications we should get here. First, God promises He will deliver Daniel’s people. But who are “Daniel’s people?” They are those who are “written in the book.” More than likely this is the same book talked about in Revelation 20 & 21—“the book of life.” Second, there will be a bodily resurrection. The author says, “those who sleep in the DUST of the earth shall awake.” Ecclesiastes tells us, “All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return.” (Eccl 3.20) The dust is a simple meant to remind us of our first father, Adam, who was formed from the dust of the earth. By the author using this language he is telling us this will be bodily resurrection. Third, this resurrection is exhaustive. II Timothy 4, which we looked at last week, tells us Christ will judge the living and dead. The “living” are those whose names are written the “book of life” and the “dead” are those who’s name are not. So, it is my understanding this resurrection is exhaustive because it is not just God’s family who will be raised, but also who are not. The difference is one is raised for everlasting life, while the other is raised for everlasting contempt. I love how it says contempt here and not death. Other places in the Bible it is described as everlasting death. I think “everlasting contempt” gives us a really good idea of what is happening in hell. People are raised and left with the choices they have made. People are raised and left with person they have wronged, and most importantly the God who they were created for. Verse 3 gives us a good idea what the “everlasting life” looks life for God’s family. They are now thriving like they never have before.
Finally God closes this section with a declaration to Daniel to preserve what he was just told—READ Dan 12.4. Why is this important? It is important because this is why you and I have this today. God wanted Daniel to preserve this for His family. This is meant to be source of encouragement for all of God’s family who will face similar pain and suffering to that of Daniel and to the family members of his time. The preserved truth is meant to give us the confidence to face what Daniel faced with confidence. We can face any thing the world throws at us because our future is secure. Many will run to and fro seeking to devour, but we will persevere because our future is secure. The enemy has nothing on us because of that truth.
2. How Long?—Daniel 12.5-7.
After all this two more angels appear on the scene. One of them asks, probably what Daniel is asking, and probably what we would as well, “How long is this going to last?” If what is being described here is true, then things are going to get worse than they ever have been before. It will be so bad one commenter said:
We will come to the point in history where it appears that darkness has really won the day. It will seem as if the Antichrist is going to continue for ever. It will seem as if the church has been entirely obliterated, for there will no longer be any sign of it.—Olyott, p. 165
Haven’t we all been here before. It may not be the true end of all things or a literal Antichrist has come, but we face times when it seems like our suffering will never end. Our souls cry, “How long, O LORD?...How long will you hide your face?” (Ps 13.1) While it might not be what we want to hear in those moments, or even what Daniel wanted to hear, what we are told is this darkness is only for a time God has allotted—READ Dan 12.7b. Many have tried to figure out the details of what this means, but they loose sight of the meaning. The reason this is given to tell us things will one day be finished. Doesn’t hearing that make Jesus stated at the Cross all the more powerful? With His dying breath Jesus cries out “IT IS FINISHED!”
3. For What Purpose?—Daniel 12.8-13.
Once again I am thankful Daniel is just as human as you and I, because he says what we all thinking doesn’t he?—READ Dan 12.8. Essentially Daniel says, “God, I really want to understand, but I just ain’t getting it. What is the purpose of all this?
As far as I can tell God gives Daniel four purposes for all these things. First, God puts His people, the family of faith, through all of this so they will come out more like His Son. Humanity becomes what we were meant to be. Daniel is told many shall be purified, made white, refined through all of this. This should remind us of what was supposed to be the purpose of Antiochus attacking Israel in Daniel 11.35. As God’s family we are meant to suffer together, we are meant to long for a better world. As we long for this better world together we are help each other see how God is growing us into the likeness of His Son. The Second purpose I see here is God’s family will grow in our understanding over the course of redemptive history. God tells us the wicked will not understand, but “those who are wise shall understand.” There are many ways to gain wisdom. I think the primary way is through understanding the Scriptures. But dear friends, we must not be fearful of learning from those who have come before us. I would not know some of the things described in Daniel are about the Persian empire, Alexander the Great, and Antiochus the IV unless it were from help of other family members, both past and present. We must never be so arrogant to think we can just “figure it out.” Scripture is meant to be understood in community, not isolation. Third, even though we go through hard times and difficulties God wants to continue in our calling. God tells Daniel twice, “Go your way” (Dan 12.9, 13). Daniel was to do this until the end. Did this mean Daniel was going to live until the bodily resurrection? No. This meant Daniel was to continue being a good politician like he had been all his life. That was the calling and purpose God gave Daniel. God called Daniel to glorify Him with his life. No what God has called you to we are all meant to glorify God in it. Some of has jobs we like and others we don’t, but no matter what we all have the same calling. I am sure their were days when Daniel enjoyed his job and days he didn’t. When you have a boss trying to kill you that could be a tough day. No matter the circumstance of life, “whatever you do, do all to glory of God” (I Cor 10.31). Finally, the last purpose for all this is if we persevere in these things we will be “BLESSED.” God tells Daniel, “Blessed is he who waits.” What are we waiting on? We are waiting on the LORD. He is where our strength comes from. The book of Isaiah says this:
Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.—Isaiah 40.30-31
Our strength is renewed and we are blessed NOT by our ability to wait, but because God has promised these things to us. And why are they secure? Why would God promise anything to you or me? Because we deserve it, no. These promises are ours because of Jesus Christ. I will never understand this, but God chose to send His Son into the world, live a perfect life, die the worst death imaginable, so he could redeem people like you and me. So he could bless people like you and me. So he could renew people like you and me. Friends this is grace, and it is this grace that purifies us, that helps us understand, that God has called us to, that God has called us to share and display to the world around, and it is this grace that has bless us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Eph 1.3). May we all leave here today renewed that our future is secure because God has chosen, in His loving kindness, to call us to His lavish radical grace. May we continue to grow in understanding and living out that calling.