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Grace for the End

The End of Days

Daniel 12:1–13 – Faithful: God’s Character, our Calling – Nov 28, 2021

Introduction

Reading of Daniel 12.

One of our family traditions this time of year is to watch It’s a Wonderful Life.

  • First half-dozen times you see it, it’s got some surprises.
  • But at this point, there are no surprises.
  • I know how the story ends.
  • What happens when you know how it ends is you have stomach for the hard parts.
  • Things for George Bailey look bleak.
  • But I know it’s going to turn around.
  • So, when George Bailey is anxious I have hope for him.
  • When the sinister Mr. Potter seems to be having his way, I know his end is sure.
  • I know that tear-jerking ending is coming when all is made right.
  • Knowing the end, the hard parts are still hard. But hope is never lost.

Something similar in our passage.

  • This morning our topic is eschatology, the last things.
  • It’s an honest and bleak look.
  • But we get a glimpse of the HAPPINESS just past the HARD.
  • Gives us hope for whatever we might face.

Book of Daniel

  • 12 chapters of prophecy about Daniel in Babylon.
  • Teenager when he’s brought to Babylon.
  • His adulthood in Babylon.
  • In midlife he begins to get a series of four visions.
  • 1st=chp 7, 2nd=chp 8, 3rd=chp 9, 4th=chps 10–12.
  • In each there is a repeating pattern.
  • History beginning more-or-less from Daniel to the end.
  • Two figures appear near “the end.”
  • This is the “man of lawlessness” of 2 Thessalonians 2:4.
  • A person so filled with arrogance and opposition to God and God’s people.
  • One who sees himself as the object of the worship of all people.
  • A person the devil uses to great effect.
  • But Daniel lets us know—just like apostle Paul does—that his end is sure.
  • There is also a second figure, one like a Son of Man (7:13–14).
  • When the “man of lawlessness” is dealt with, then comes a new day of the King above all kings.
  • The Lord Jesus Christ is the “one like a Son of Man.”
  • He will bring in his kingdom and his saints will enjoy it with him.

In this 4th vision, it’s the same pattern.

  • A parade of earthly kings culminating with Antiochus Epiphanes (11:2–35).
  • Then the man of lawlessness in 11:36–45.
  • But then his end. Let’s read about it:

But news from the east and the north shall alarm him, and he shall go out with great fury to destroy and devote many to destruction. And he shall pitch his palatial tents between the sea and the glorious holy mountain. Yet he shall come to his end, with none to help him. (Daniel 11:44–45)

Context of this vision:

  • 3rd year of Cyrus king of Persia (10:1).
  • On the bank of the Tigris River (10:4)—remember Euphrates and Tigris are those two great ancient rivers. This is “Mesopotamia,” the land “between the rivers.”
  • In chp 10 Daniel sees a “man clothed in linen” who has the appearance of metal on fire (10:5–6) but also “in appearance as a man” (10:16). He begins to speak to Daniel.

Series: “Faithful: God’s Character, Our Calling.” Our passage speaks to this. God is faithful no matter what happens. He calls us to be faithful no matter what happens.

  • His faithfulness comes to us through his continual supply of GRACE.
  • Foundation of grace that is ENOUGH—and it’s PERSONAL.

Sermon: God’s grace is (1) Cosmic and Unending (12:1–4), (2) Enough for the Hardest of Times (12:5–12), (3) Individual (12:13).

Prayer

I. God’s Grace is Cosmic and Unending (12:1–4)

This angelic figure begins to speak of what else will happen “at that time,” at that time when the “man of lawlessness” is killed in 11:45.

“At that time” FOUR things:

FIRST, “shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people” (12:1).

  • Michael is the archangel who has a special role in protecting God’s people.
  • “Michael, your prince” (Dan 10:21).
  • In Daniel 10 the angel speaking with Daniel speaks of Michael as “one of the chief princes” who “came to help me” (10:13).
  • This angel was battling “the prince of Persia” (10:20) who was with the “kings of Persia” (10:13).
  • This angel was anticipating that “the prince of Greece” (10:20) would soon be coming.
  • Jude 9, “the archangel Michael.”
  • Michael in Revelation 12[1]:

Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. (Rev 12:7–9)

  • REVELATION 12 has many ties to Daniel. This is the first we’ll encounter.
  • AN ENCOURAGEMENT: God’s heavenly powers are not impersonal.
  • They are engaged on our behalf, and they are not impersonal.
  • History and the universe are personal, not lifeless cause-and-effect.

SECOND, “a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time” (12:1).

  • A coming darkness.
  • Our times is a difficult one but not like the time being prophesied.
  • Here it’s “a time of trouble” worse than anything before it.
  • We’re talking here about the time right before the return of Christ.
  • What Paul describes in 2 Thessalonians 2.
  • Stuart Olyott, a Welsh pastor:

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.
Stuart Olyott, Dare to Stand Alone[2]

THIRD, “your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book” (12:1).

  • God this trouble won’t spin out of control.
  • God’s people “shall be delivered.”
  • And these people are known: “name shall be found written in the book.”
  • Just like all those references to the “book of Life” in the NT (Phil 4:3; Rev 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15; 21:27).

FOURTH, the resurrection—12:2–3.

  • We see here TWO DESTINIES.
  • All are resurrected but then experience TWO DESTINIES.
  • Fact the resurrection is mentioned a clue we’re talking about the very end of things.
  • Not the normal hard times the people of God experience in a fallen world.
  • The first and clearest reference to the resurrection of all people in the OT.
  • Hints and suggestions in other places, but here is the clearest reference.
  • The NT will make it far clearer.

Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment. (John 5:28–29)

What difference does this GRACE make? When you know the end?

  • g., two Scotsmen in 1530s, Alexander Kennedy and Jerome Russell.
  • Beginnings of the Reformation.
  • The Catholic bishop of Glasgow was on the hunt for martyrs.
  • He found these two, with Russell being about 18 yrs old at the time.
  • They were sentenced to be burned at the stake for their Protestant faith.

“As they plodded to the execution site, Russell noticed some signs of depression in his companion and so heartened him with: ‘Brother, fear not; greater is He that is in us, than he that is in the world. The pain that we are to suffer is short, and shall be light, but our joy and consolation shall never have an end. Let us, therefore, strive to enter in to our Master and Saviour by the same strait way which he has trod before us. Death cannot destroy us, for it is already destroyed by Him for whose sake we suffer.’ And so they walked on, to the stake.”[3]

  • That’s the difference grace makes.
  • When you know that your resurrection awaits you can say things like, “Death cannot destroy us.”

II. God’s Grace is Enough for the Worst of Times  (12:5–12)

As we’ve said. Passage is about ESCHATOLOGY, “the end.”

Get a glimpse in 12:1–4. Now some follow-up questions. Two of them.

FIRST by angelic figure, question in Verse 6: How long shall it be till the end of these wonders?” In other words, when Michael rises up and God’s people face that “time of trouble” unparalleled in history (12:1), “How long shall these wonders last?”

Angel provides an answer that unlocks more questions. His answer in Verse 7—answers how long but also what God’s people would experience.

  • How long: “It would be for a time, times, and half a time.” 3 ½ periods of time will pass (12:7).
  • Not 3 ½ years but 3 ½ periods of time. Definite period of time.
  • Long enough to be awful but not unending.
  • God’s people: “When the shattering of the power of the holy people comes to an end all these things would be finished” (12:7).
  • Flashes of the book of Revelation here:

She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days. (Rev 12:5–6)

And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time. (Rev 12:13–14)

  • “Nourished in the wilderness” “1,260 days” & “time, times, and half a time.”
  • Oppressed by the devil BUT “nourished” and “hidden” by God.

The lesson of Revelation and Daniel: The church lives in a day of tribulation. Our whole journey takes place in a day of tribulation. Worse at the end, but the journey is a long and hard one.

  • We live in the “time, times, and a half a time” tribulation.
  • We’re anticipating a “time, times, and half a time” tribulation.
  • We’re living in the second half of Daniel’s 70th week, that 3.5-yr period.
  • Yet, we’re anticipating a time in the future where for several years things get really bad.
  • In Daniel 12, the greater emphasis is on the end times “time, times, and half a time.”

SECOND question in Verse 8: “What will be the outcome of these things?”

  • Concerned especially about the people of God—“the holy people” (12:7).
  • Daniel told: “Go your way” (Verse 9).
  • Why? It’ll be a while.
  • It’ll be a while: “Words are shut up and sealed until the time of the end” (Verse 9).
  • How you get through the days of tribulation: Wicked or Wise (Verse 10).

“WICKED” think they’re wise.

  • WICKED confuse knowing information from true wisdom.
  • “WISE” = From Proverbs we know true wisdom begins with the fear of the LORD.
  • WICKED vs. WISE = Two responses to the coming tribulation.
  • Key = not the tribulation but RESPONSE to it (Verse 10).

“Abomination that makes desolate” (12:11–12):

  • Phrase is an important one.
  • First refers to Antiochus IV Epiphanes (see 11:31).
  • A ruler in Palestine in the 100s BC.
  • Desired to bring his territory in line with rest of Roman Empire.
  • Brought Roman gods to town.
  • Turned temple in Jerusalem into temple to Zeus.
  • Jews opposed it, but he killed tens of thousands.
  • This was an “abomination that makes desolate.”
  • Took just over three years, not far off the 1,290 days count.
  • Then Jesus connects it to AD 70 when temple destroyed (Matt 24:15).
  • When Titus the Roman general came to overthrow Jerusalem in AD 70, that also took just over three years.
  • Once again the temple desecrated and then destroyed.
  • It, too, was an “abomination that makes desolate.”

It seems there will be yet another “abomination that makes desolate.”

  • Why another? Because of the days mentioned—1,290 and 1,335.
  • Day counts very close to Antiochus in 160s BC and Titus in AD 70.
  • But it seems there is another period of time which is still future.
  • The coming “man of lawlessness” will commit some kind of “abomination that makes desolate.”
  • The prophecy here is that it will be TERRIBLE BUT TEMPORARY.
  • Won’t last forever.
  • 1,290 days is just about 3.5 years (Jewish months are 30-day months).
  • The terrible time will go on for another month-and-a-half.
  • And then the end where God’s people are “BLESSED.” 

III. God’s Grace is Individual (12:13)

We come now to the last verse in our passage and the last verse in Daniel. We’ll see God’s grace is INDIVIDUAL.

In book of Daniel, Daniel’s life was not what he expected or wanted:

  • We met Daniel as a godly and impressive teenager setting himself apart from others in his classes at Babylon university.
  • Now he’s in his mid- to late-80s and serving yet another pagan king—Cyrus the Persian.
  • It seems clear at this point he’s not going back to Jerusalem. He will die in Babylon.
  • But in this 4th vision to Daniel, God has special words to say to his servant.

God’s affection for him:

  • Twice at the beginning of this vision: “O Daniel, man greatly loved” (10:11, 19).
  • Daniel is precious to God and three times now God has communicated this to him (9:23 also).
  • Daniel might be far from the promised land, but he is not at all far from God’s eye or God’s affection.

God’s promise to Daniel INDIVIDUALLY:

  • 12:13 – “Your allotted place” is “your lot” from Heb gōrāl.
  • Used 78x in the OT of the various lands allotted by “lot” (cf Num 26:55–56; Josh 17–19).
  • A fascinating double-meaning at this point in Daniel.
  • First it’s a reference to Daniel’s future place in the new heavens and new earth.
  • But since it’s a word so tied to Israel’s land allotment it’s Yahweh telling his faithful covenant keeper, “Your inheritance in the promised land is secure. You’ll get there.”
  • It’s not quite, “You’ll get back
  • But it would have a powerful effect on the now 85-90-yr old Daniel.
  • In other words, being in Babylon, Daniel won’t miss out on his inheritance in the promised land—the new heavens and new earth.
  • Israel was always just a type of the promised land to come.
  • Daniel would be there.

But . . . “You shall rest and shall stand in your LOT at the end of the days” (12:13).

  • The hard work will be over.
  • God’s eternal rest will come.

Till then: “Go your way till the end.”

Conclusion

God’s grace is (1) Cosmic and Unending, (2) Enough for the Hardest of Times, (3) Individual.

God’s grace is enough for the coming days of battle. And it’s personal.

Not a MAILER he sends out to everyone in your zip code. It’s a hand-delivered UPS package that is sent only to you and it’s got your name on it. And inside is just what you NEED. May not be what you WANT. But it’s what you NEED.

This 1st Sunday of Advent: Your greatest need has already been met. Grace you need is in Jesus Christ.

John Calvin ends his commentary on Daniel with this prayer:

Grant, Almighty God, since You propose to us no other end than that of constant warfare during our whole life, and subject us to many cares until we arrive at the goal of this temporary race-course: Grant, I pray, that we may never grow fatigued. May we ever be armed and equipped for battle, and whatever the trials by which You do test us, may we never be found deficient. May we always aspire towards heaven with upright souls, and strive with all our endeavors to attain that blessed rest which is laid up for us in heaven, in Jesus Christ our Lord. — Amen. Praise be to God.
John Calvin, Commentary on the Book of the Prophet Daniel[4]

Prayer and closing song

 

[1] The book of Revelation is organized around 7 repetitions of the church age. We can roughly break out the chapter divisions into 1–3, 4–7, 8–11, 12–14, 15–16, 17–19, 20–22. Each of these chapter divisions covers the whole church age and contains a clear allusion to the end of this age. This means chapter 11 contains the culmination of this age and then chapter 12 is a new telling of the story. The church is presented as the two witnesses in chapter 11 but as the woman in chapter 12. A clue of this repetition is that the two witnesses are given authority to do their ministry for “1,260 days” in 11:3 and the woman is nourished in the wilderness for “1,260 days” in 12:6. 1260 days is three and a half years or forty-two months (Jewish months are lunar months of 30 days). After the devil thrown down, woman in Revelation 12 stays in the wilderness to be nourished by God for “time, times, and half a time” (3.5 “times”). All this connects to the second half of Daniel’s 70th week, which is three-and-a-half days.

[2] Stuart Olyott, Dare to Stand Alone (Evangelical Press, 1982), 165.

[3] Dale Davis, The Message of Daniel, BST, 163.

[4] Available at https://ccel.org/ccel/calvin/calcom25/calcom25.vii.xv.html.

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