Daniel 12:5-13 Daniel Sermon #19 June 26, 2016
Sermon Series: “The Lord is King”
Sermon Title: “Go His Way”
Pastor Louis Prontnicki Maple Glen Bible Fellowship Church
Intro: Twice in this section Daniel is told to “Go your way” (vv. 9, 13). I think this instruction can give us a handle on this passage, for in it, God is giving Daniel, and He’s giving you and me, both a command and a promise:
- The Command: Go His (God’s) way, till the end of your time; till you die.
2. The Promise: Everything will go His (God’s) way, at the end of all time.
- The Command: Go His way, till the end of your time.
When Daniel asks the heavenly messenger “What will the outcome of all this be?” (v. 8), the final answer was given in v. 13: “As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance.” Note that there are three things that Daniel must be mindful of:
First, he is told to “Go your way” (9, 13). Though he’s been given a preview of God’s future purposes, his responsibility is to live in the present for God’s glory, until the end of his life.
You see, it was not Daniel’s responsibility to know how and when the world would come to an end. No. Rather he was commanded to “Go your way.” After all, the mysterious prophecy he had been given would be understood only as God unraveled history in the future. Joyce Baldwin notes that “Only after the events can a prophetic word be seen to have been fulfilled.”
Rather, the important thing for Daniel to know is that he, along with all of the Lord’s people, would be purified and refined through these events, and that the wicked would harden their hearts even more and remain in their wickedness (v. 10)
“Go your way:” Think of all the times in Scripture when the Lord commanded his people to go: He commanded Abram to “go” from his homeland and by faith, to be a blessing to all the nations (Gen. 12:1). He commanded Moses to “go” to Pharaoh and tell him to let God’s people go (Ex. 3:16, 4:12). God told Isaiah to “go” and speak judgement to unbelieving Israel (Isa. 6:9). The Lord commanded Jonah to “go” to the pagans in Nineveh, and they repented! (Jonah 1:2). Today the Lord Jesus commands you and me to “go” to the nations with the gospel (Matt. 28:18). Therefore part of going your way is going with the gospel of Christ
Second, Daniel is told that “you will rest.” This is the Hebrew word “Nuach” or “Noah”. Daniel is in his 80s when he receives this vision, and soon, as he goes his way, he will die; he will rest in the dust of the earth. But this “rest” of death, for the believer, is just a prelude to the eternal rest that we will enter into, through our resting in Christ.
Even today, Jesus invites you in Matthew 11:28 to “Come to Me, and I will give you rest.” Not simply rest for our weary bodies, but rest and relief from the constant nagging of our idols. He offers rest from your need to think that God accepts you based on your performance. He invites you to labor faithfully for His kingdom, knowing that there will be rest from your labors when you die. Rev. 14:13 “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.” (Hymn # 358 For All the Saints). This, by the way, puts an interesting spin on the idea of retirement.
Third, Daniel is told that he will rise to receive his inheritance at the end.
The imagery here is of the 12 tribes of Israel, rising up out of slavery and death in Egypt, entering into the Promised Land, in order to receive their allotted inheritance in the Promised Land. In a similar way, Daniel is promised that he will rise from the dead (12:2) to receive his gracious inheritance in heaven. And that is also true of all those who are resting and trusting in Jesus Christ as their King and their great Redeemer; we will rise from the grave and enter the eternal Kingdom prepared for us since the creation of the world (Mt. 25:34) This is God’s assurance and promise to His saints: go…rest…rise!
Therefore, let each of you go your way, God’s way, till the end of your time; till you die.
2. The Promise: Everything will go His (God’s) way, at the end of time.
Having considered how a believer in Christ should live and anticipate his/her own future, let’s now look at how the final future will play out. Let’s begin by considering these strange lengths of time mentioned in vv. 7, 11, and 12, in answer to the question: “How long before these things are fulfilled?
We read in v. 7 “It will be for a time, times and half a time. When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed.” And then in vv. 11-12: “From the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination that causes desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days. 12 Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of the 1,335 days.”
It is my opinion that God did not intend for us to take these lengths of time in a literal manner, but rather in a symbolic fashion. Let me explain why. If we take these lengths of time together, they indicate three important truths, for while all these times are roughly 3 ½ years, each one has a different nuance to it.
First, “the time, times and half a time” focus on a complete period (7 years) of judgement that is mercifully cut in half (3-1/2). In other words this time of judgment and suffering is limited by the Lord’s mercy. That’s the idea behind the three and a half, as half of seven, which represents a full and extend time period. It’s like getting a seven year prison term, and then suddenly at three and a half years, you are set free! Sinclair Ferguson writes: “By His own power He is able to cut short apparently inevitable historical developments.”
Second, the 1,290 days highlight the precision with which the length of time is measured. That is, this span of tribulation for God’s people is exactly predetermined by the Lord, down to the very day when it will end. The precise end point of this trial and tribulation is known to the Lord, though it is hidden from us. (Dan. 2:21 – God alone changes the times and seasons.) That’s the point of the exactness of 1,290 days.
Therefore I trust that my Father in Heaven will neither put me through any unnecessary trials, nor keep me in them any longer than is for my good, even when I cannot understand how or why. Think of the analogy to good and wise parents, who know what is best for their children, and how long certain activities should be, such as how long to keep an ice pack on a bruise, or how long a cast needs to stay on a broken bone. Iain Duguid puts it this way: “The end will come when God is done with the process, not when we think He should be done.”
Third, the 1,335 days adds 45 days to the previous period of 1,290 days, and this indicates that the saints need to endure all the way, to the end of this longer period. God calls us and gives us the grace to persevere in faith in Christ until the very end. That is the idea behind the extra 45 days in the number 1,335. It’s like a track coach telling his runners to aim for a point beyond the finish line, so that they can finish strong at the finish line. Joyce Baldwin comments that the purpose here is to encourage those believers who will be severely tempted to give up in the face of opposition. For our suffering is neither accidental nor meaningless, but serves the positive goal of purifying, cleansing, and refining God’s people. (See 11:35). The same fire that refines the righteous also separates out the dross, the wicked. Only by fire can the separation be made, and the metal’s purity assured… and God alone knows how long that will take.
Everything will go His (God’s) way, at the end of all time. He is sovereign, wise, and loving.
But if everything will go God’s way (and our way, in Him) at the end of time, what are we to make of the answer at the end of v. 7 where we read that the end will come “When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed.”? Do you see how that seem opposite of what we would expect to hear?
We would assume that the end would come when the power of the wicked people is broken, not the power of the holy people, right? Yet v. 10 reminds us that “Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked.” You see, the wicked will continue in their evil and their persecution of the righteous, right up till the end. Why? Because God uses the fiery trials of this world, and he works through our suffering, to accomplish His purpose in and through us. God works through broken and refined people. “The refiner’s fire simply reveals the true nature of the material being refined.” If you put a nice looking piece of plastic in the fire, it will just melt and dissolve. But if you put gold in the fire, it will be refined and purified. Trials serve to reveal the differences between the wise and the wicked.” (1 Peter 1:7 “So that your faith… may be proved genuine, and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”)
I ask you: what are you made of: plastic, or gold? One fears the fire; the other welcomes it. Remember that primary biblical image for the saints is not that of crusaders, but of martyrs. It is Jesus, not us, who one day will ride out to conquer (Rev. 19:11-16); we will simply follow him then.
How then shall we live, in light of the truth that in the end, everything will go God’s way?
“Like Jacob (Gen. 32:24-31), we testify (to the world) not by our strength and might, but simply by our persistence in clinging on to God, in the midst of our suffering, our being persecuted, and our brokenness.”
Is not that the way of the cross of Jesus Christ? Is that not the heart of the gospel message?
Therefore, let each of you go your way, God’s way, till the end of your time; till you die.
And be encouraged by the promise that everything will go His (God’s) way, at the end of time.