Daniel 12:1-3 Rev. Kenneth Frey
Endtimes 3 11/18/18
Daniel 12:1-3 “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. 2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.
Are you looking forward to Judgment Day?
1. Michael is protecting God’s people
2. God will save the elect
3. A resurrection awaits
Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Before you know it, Christmas will be here. Are you looking forward to it? Thanksgiving and Christmas can fill us with excitement about seeing family and getting gifts and having fun. But they can also fill us with anxiety as we think about all the things that need to be done to be ready for these major holidays. The shopping, baking, cleaning and everything else that goes into preparing for the holidays can stress us out. What about Judgment Day? Does the thought of it fill you with excitement or with anxiety? Are you looking forward to Judgment Day?
Daniel was told, There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. We may not be looking forward to that last day because of what comes before it. He talks about a time of distress unequaled in history. Jesus, commenting on this verse said, “For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. 22 If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.” (Matthew 24:21-22) The end of this world will be a difficult time for believers. It will be hard for them to hold on to their faith in Jesus. It’s difficult enough now but it will get worse at the end.
However, we have somebody fighting for us in those times. At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. How many angels do you know by name? If you said two, you get an A for the day. The only two named angels in the Bible are Michael and Gabriel. The Bible speaks of multitudes of angels but doesn’t give us many names. It gives different classes of angels, like cherubim and seraphim, but it doesn’t explain the difference. Michael is here called a great prince. In another place he is called an archangel, that is, the chief angel. Are there other archangels? We don’t know. All we can say is that Michael is an angel leader, a great prince.
And it says that he protects God’s people. When you watch a TV show or a play, you don’t see all that goes on behind the scenes to make the show happen. Daniel’s prophecy is giving us a behind the scenes look at the end times. On the surface we see the church losing. We see evil winning. We see God’s Word ridiculed and made fun of. We see churches shrinking and struggling to make their budget. We see decency mocked and immorality gaining acceptance. But with Daniel’s prophecy we can look behind the scenes and what do we see? We see God is in control of history. We see Michael fighting for God’s people.
And we see that God will save them. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. If your name is on the board at school, is that a good thing? Probably not. It probably means a late work or some discipline is due. If you name is on the Dean’s list at college, is that a good thing? Sure. It means you are doing well. Daniel talks about another list. It is the list of those names found written in God’s book. How do you get on that list? What do you do? Nothing. It’s God’s free gift. You receive it by faith.
To have your name written in the book is another way of speaking about the elect. That’s why Jesus talked about the elect when he was commenting on this verse. He said those evil days would be cut short for the sake of the elect.
In the first chapter of Ephesians, the Apostle Paul taught about the elect of God. He said, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace.” (Ephesians 1:3-6)
There are several things we can learn about this teaching we call election. First, it happened in eternity, before the creation of the world. Already then, God knew you and chose you. Before you could do anything to deserve it, God chose you. Second, it is connected with Jesus Christ. There is no election outside of Jesus. His suffering and death accomplished our salvation and his resurrection declares the victory over death. Third, it is a gift of God’s grace. Fourth, we have the promise here in Daniel that God will save the elect.
So what do you do with this teaching we call election? Believe it but don’t try to reason with it. This teaching is purely gospel. God tells us this to comfort us. He wants us to understand that he has taken care of your salvation already in eternity when he elected you and planned to send Jesus to die for you. If this teaching raises doubts in your mind in any way, then you are not using it as God intends. If you are using this teaching to make you comfortable with sin, you are not using it as God intends. The only use for this teaching is to assure you that your salvation is certain because it doesn’t depend on you at all.
That certainty of election leads to certainty about Judgment Day and the resurrection of the dead. On that day all the dead will rise. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.
Some will rise to scorn and contempt. They will appear to all as the most disgusting thing in the world. Every secret sin will be out there for everyone to see and they will feel the shame of how they lived for all eternity. Think of a time when you were caught doing something you shouldn’t. Remember the shame and the guilt? Imagine that feeling never going away.
Some will rise to shame. Believers will rise to glory, not because they are better, but because of Jesus. But did you notice how believers are described here? Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. They are wise and lead many to righteousness. Believers aren’t busy doing things to get themselves to heaven. Heaven is already ours through faith in Jesus. Believers focus on others and live lives that serve others with the gospel.
We see the distress in our society that Daniel talks about. We know this sinful world is not going to get better but worse. We may be tempted to try to change society and work for justice, however you define that. That’s okay, but that’s not what Jesus did. He didn’t try to improve society, get rid of slavery or change the government. He didn’t fight for the rights of the poor or push for a better tax code. He served people in love. He came to save.
As followers of Jesus, let’s model our lives after Jesus. We are not here to make this world a better place to live or to improve society. We will want to lead many to righteousness. We do that by supporting the mission and ministry of our church and synod. We do that by participating in outreach events like “Starry Night.” We do that by inviting friends and others to hear God’s Word. And we do that by passing on the gospel to the next generation.
Ready or not, Thanksgiving is a few days away. Ready or not, Christmas is just around the corner. Maybe that fills us with feelings of stress already. Ready or not, Judgment Day is coming. Are you looking forward to it? Despite the distress of the end times, we know that God is working out history for our good. Michael is fighting for us. We believe that God has elected us in Christ. And so yes, we look forward to Judgment Day because “We look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen” (Nicene Creed)