Daniel 12:1-4 Daniel Sermon #18 June 19, 2016
Sermon Series: “The Lord is King”
Sermon Title: “The World Is Not Enough”
Pastor Louis Prontnicki Maple Glen Bible Fellowship Church
Intro: “How’s the world treating you?” That question has been asked by singers such as Chet Atkins, Elvis Presley, and James Taylor, and it’s a question that you might often ask yourself. It makes you wonder if this world is enough, or if there just has to be more….
Overview of this sermon:
- Remember the Context 2. Unpack the Contents 3. Apply the Conclusions
- Remember the Context
Dan. 12:1-4 concludes this prophecy from God which began in 10:20. This long passage outlines 400 years of prophetic history which foretells suffering and persecution for God’s people. For centuries, foreign nations will trample down Jerusalem with their armies; they will attack God’s people; and they will do all sorts of abominations in the holy temple. And on top of that, according to 12:1, there will be an unparalleled time of trouble and distress. Yet, after that will come the bodily resurrection of the dead, both the righteous and the wicked. Then everyone will be judged and sent to either everlasting life or to everlasting shame.
So this good news for God’s people, of resurrection and life, comes against the backdrop of hundreds of years of suffering, persecution, and shame. It’s like coming out into the sunshine after being kept in a dark prison cell for years. It’s like being able to get up and run and jump and dance, after spending you whole life in a wheelchair. Remember the context, for you need to feel the weight of the bad news in order to appreciate the joy of the good news here.
2. Unpack the Contents
Allow me to give you an overview of the contents of these four verses, before we look at them, one by one. I have entitled this sermon, “The world is not enough.” I borrowed that title from a 1999 James Bond movie, but I’m giving it a different twist here. Think about this with me: if you are only looking at what happens in this world, with all its shooting and injustice and pain, you will feel cheated and short-changed on earth, right? But, you see, this world is not enough. There is another world, another age to come. There is everlasting life and joy and glory after death. But it’s not found in reincarnation. It’s not found in being a suicide martyr. No. It’s found only in the resurrection. Specifically, it’s found in the historical and bodily resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. It’s found only in our spiritual union with Christ in His resurrection. For when Christ redeemed us from the guilt and power of sin at the cross, by dying in our place, He did not just redeem our spirits. No. Rather, He redeemed us as whole people, including our bodies.
Listen carefully: While the accomplishment of Christ’s redeeming work is finished, the application of Christ’s work of redemption will not be finished, until our bodies are raised from the dead. The application of Christ’s dying for us will not be finished until we are completely set free from all the effects of sin and the fall. The application of Christ’s atonement for us will not be finished until we are brought to that state of perfection for which God originally created us!” (Wayne Grudem.) (See Romans 8:23-24 “we… groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved.”)
The world is not enough; we await the world to come; we await the resurrection of our bodies, as we enjoy God forever and ever!
That’s the big picture of what’s in the suitcase. Now let’s unpack each item:
v. 1 Distress, but Deliverance
“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.”
Here we read of the Archangel Michael, and his responsibility to protect God’s suffering people. Note that though he is mighty, it is not his job to prevent them from suffering; rather, his work is to deliver them in the midst of their suffering (see Dan. 3 and 6).
Jesus Himself uses this language in Matt. 24:21 and Mark 13:19, a time of unequaled distress. Our Lord uses this language to describe the terrible events that would happen in 70 AD, when the Roman army slaughtered the Jews in Jerusalem and burned down the temple.
The main point in v. 1 is that trusting in the Lord does not exempt you from suffering and persecution. But it does mean two things: One, that He will give you grace to persevere through it, and Two, that there will be a final and ultimate deliverance for those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. So we should expect distress, but look forward to God’s deliverance.
v. 2 Raised from the Dead, onto Everlasting Life
“Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.”
This is one of the greatest verses in the Old Testament! Here is perhaps the clearest teaching in the Old Testament on the truth of the resurrection of the body and on the subsequent judgment of all people. Dan. 12:2 is right up there with Isa. 25:8 “He will swallow up death forever,” and Isa. 26:19 “But your dead will live; their bodies will rise; you who dwell in the dust, wake up and shout for joy.”
“Sleep” obviously is a metaphor for death, but it also implies a waking up, and therefore a resurrection. Think about it: at every Christian burial service, the minister reminds the people gathered by the graveside the tragic impact of our first parent’s sin and rebellion: “For you are dust, and to dust you will return” (from Gen. 3:19). But now comes the promise that those who sleep in the dust of the earth will awaken and arise… and some will be raised to everlasting life! Death will be conquered! And there will be an eternity to enjoy God, to marvel at His glory, wisdom, and power, without fear, without impairment, without guilt or shame… forever and ever!
Jesus Himself confirmed this amazing truth in John 5:28, 29 when He said, “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.” Brothers and sisters, these promises of God should give us the courage to face our own death, unafraid! Amen?
Yet we read that some will be awakened to shame and everlasting contempt. In other words, death is not an automatic ticket to heaven. There will be general resurrection prior to the final judgment, at which time Jesus tells us that the wicked will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (Matt. 24:46) [Note: We are saved by grace, not by our works, but we are saved in order to do good works, for God’s glory. See Eph. 2:8-10.]
Let me ask you: what will you be raised to? Everlasting life, or everlasting shame?
What will await you on the other side of death and the grave? Are you sure of your eternity?
v. 3 Radiant Wisdom and Righteousness
“Those who are wise [or “who impart wisdom”] will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.”
We might wonder here: “Who are the wise and those who lead many to righteousness?”
Well, God’s Word tells us that both wisdom and righteousness are gifts of God, and they are given to those who humble themselves before God and trust Him. Furthermore, God tells us that any wisdom and righteousness we have is because we have been graciously given new life in Jesus Christ. Listen to how Paul puts it in 1 Cor. 1:30-31: “It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us our wisdom from God – that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”
So those who are wise and righteous here are not only those who will be raised to everlasting life; they are also those who are “In Christ,” that is, they are trusting in Jesus Christ alone for all of their needs. Does that include you? Do you have that radiant wisdom and righteousness, as gifts from God?
v. 4 Preserving and Proclaiming this Good News
“But you, Daniel, close up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.”
“Seal” has the double meaning of both authentication (i.e., it’s true) and of preservation (i.e., it’s to be kept). God’s people would need the encouragement of this prophecy to help them persevere through suffering and persecution, for centuries to come.
So this prophecy was to be preserved for such times of need, much as a gift is kept a treasured secret until it is presented to the person. Daniel is to store this prophecy safely for future generations of God’s people to read and believe. It must be on record for God’s people, so that we know what to expect: both the suffering and the final triumph!
3. Apply the Conclusions (Good News and Bad News)
Good News: Iain Duguid comments “This age is a time of refining and testing, a time of ongoing trials and persecution, in which only God’s grace sustains us to the end. But this age will be followed by an age of glory and rest for those who have been found faithful. “In that age all of our brokenness will be fixed and healed.” This clear expression of the bodily resurrection of the saints in the Old Testament is God’s profound answer to our continued brokenness, and the basis for our persevering in the faith. “As our physical bodies age and break down, our hearts long all the more intensely for the wholeness of heaven. When we see most clearly that this broken world is not enough, then our eyes turn more eagerly to what God has promised us in the age to come.
Bad News: If however you are faithless, then you shall rise to judgement that will end in your shame and everlasting destruction. There is no middle ground: our ultimate destiny is bright glory or utter darkness, depending on whether our names are found written in the book of life, the Lamb’s record of those who by faith belong to him (see Rev. 21:17).”
One last point: How does God bring us healing and wholeness? Ultimately He does it through taking on flesh in Jesus Christ, and being broken for us, and then raised from the dead. “Was there ever a greater display of brokenness and weakness, than we see at the cross? At the cross we see the brokenness of this fallen world that would take its own creator and crucify Him.”
Yet the brokenness of God in our place was the means by which we, His broken people, are healed and restored. This world is not enough… but a new world awaits those who look to Him!