Title: Firm Facts for the Faithful
Summary: Because God calls his people to faithfulness in an oppositional world, difficult times are the norm rather than an anomaly for us, but we can have confidence and assurance between the names of the faithful, whom God protects from death, are written in God’s book. Even though we do not have all the particular details of God’s plan, God gives us enough information for us to be faithful and active in pleasing him during our stay on earth.
Text: Dan 12
Scripture Reading: Rev 22:1-5 *Or Mal 3:16-18
1. Last part of Daniel’s vision
2. Final word is intended to be message of encouragement to Daniel, to those who came in the generations that followed as well
3. Since it is included in scripture, timeless message for us as well
4. Title: Firm Facts for the Faithful. Truths to help navigate the times ahead
I. For the faithful, difficult times are not an anomaly (v.1)
A. Has been a pattern since God redeemed a people for himself
1. Israel in Bondage in Egypt
2. Nebuchadnezzar who threw Hananiah, Azariah, and Michael into the furnace for not bowing down before his statue
3. Haman who wanted to exterminate them in Persia
4. Roman persecution because they would not say, Caesar is Lord and honor the traditional Roman Gods
B. Numerous warnings in scripture:
1. Jesus - (John 15:18-20) 18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.
a. IF we follow Jesus, and they persecuted him, they will persecute us
b. This is why Peter writes this…
2. Peter - (1 Pet 4:12-19) 12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory[b] and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” 19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.
3. Not a strange thing – NOT an anomaly
4. Do not be ashamed when it comes
a. We are in good company
b. We honor Christ by standing with him
c. God is glorifies in this
d. So, we entrust our souls to God, NOT to our persecutors
i. We trust in God’s promises, not any promises persecutors make
ii. Persecutors will be judged
C. ILL: No soldier complains – It shouldn’t be hard!
1. Basic training – You expect it. It is for discipline and training
2. When out in the field – You expect it. Facing an enemy who is not of you
3. Same is true with us as God’s troops
D. Do not get bent out of shape
1. You are not doing anything wrong – If you were, world leave you alone
2. You are doing what’s right, and this is honorable to God
3. God sees and knows…
II. The names of the faithful are in God’s book (v.1)
A. Not the only time Bible says that God has a book of names:
1. Rev 13:8 Calls it the “The Book of Life of the Lamb who was Slain”
a. Everyone who has accepted Christ as Lord is in this book
b. This book is what will be produced at the final judgment…
2. (Rev 20:12-15) 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
a. Notice, there are TWO books
b. The books (plural) are a book of deeds by which people are judged
c. The book (singular) is the book of life. What is in it? NAMES
d. If you name is there, you go on to the New Jerusalem in chap 21
B. ILL: Why a Book?
1. I was think of books of names that I have used
a. Address book, my old rolodex – Names, birthdays, phone numbers
b. I even had a calendar
c. WHY? So I don’t forget?
2. Does this means God is forgetful? No, of course not
a. Scripture mentions God’s book for the same reason God made a covenant/treaty with Abraham
i. God does not need to sign on the dotted line to be held to his word, because he does not lie and will keep his word
ii. He does so to give us added assurance that he keeps his word
b. God wants us to know that he will not forget
C. God wants us to be assured that he will never forget
1. (Isa 49:15-16) 15 “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. 16 Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.
2. Stronger image than a book of remembrance, remembrance of a mother
3. In fact, he has your name tattooed on his hand! Permanent
D. Think about it. God knows your name!
1. Governor doesn’t know your name. Nor congressman, mayor, etc.
2. But, the God of the universe has your name tattooed on his hand
3. You are his joy!
4. Remember this, especially when world tries to say you are worthless…
III. God protects the faithful from death (v.2-4)
A. Not keep you from dying, but free from fear of death
1. Hananiah, Azariah, and Michael said, “Our God is able to deliver us from your furnace O King, but even if not, we will not bow down to your statue”
2. They recognized that it was possible they might die due to their decision
3. But they did not fear death, they feared God
B. In Christ, we no longer have to fear death
1. (Heb 2:14-15) 14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.
a. Jesus came from Heaven, became flesh, born in manger
b. In the flesh, suffered and died for our sins
c. Rose from the grave
d. Destroyed the power of death – No longer fear death…
2. (Jn 10:28-30) 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me,[a] is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
a. No one is able to snatch you out of his hand
b. Not even death!
c. In fact, death takes you to God, where you are eternally safe
C. ILL: This is why Christians have historically not feared death
1. During the plagues while everyone was fleeing in fear, Christians stayed behind to care for sick and dying, sometimes succumbing to the plague
2. Christians continue to serve in name of Christ and share the message of Christ, even when persecuted and put to death
3. This is why missionaries have gone to places like Equador, Papua New Guinea, Irian Jaya, and other dangerous places, and laid down life to share the Gospel
D. Point – In Christ, death can no longer harm you
1. Death takes you out of the hands of who/what ever brought your death
2. In death, you are transported into the presence of our Lord
3. As Jesus said, no one snatches them out of my hand
IV. God gives the faithful enough information (v.5-13)
A. Daniel want to know more, but is told to “Go your way
B. I am reminded of a couple of other times things like this happened
1. John 21 – Jesus gave Peter indication how he would die (persecution)
a. Peter turned around looked at John, asked, “What about him?”
b. Jesus said, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”
2. Acts 1 – After Jesus’ resurrection
a. So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
b. Focus is not on dates, God doesn’t give that kind of information
c. Focus is on being faithful – which includes being his witnesses
C. ILL: ACU grad student – Master’s Thesis
1. All of the many erroneous Historical apocalyptic predictions, and effect it has had over the years.
a. Concerned about how it weakens rather than build faith
b. Recognized that all of these wrong unfulfilled predictions is a result of misunderstanding of apocalyptic literature
2. Focus of apocalyptic has not setting specific dates, but on being faithful
3. If that what you looking for in Daniel (or Rev), probably disappointed
4. But don’t be disappointed, God has given you what you need
D. ILL: Reminded of Joe Jones when people ask certain questions
1. Would say, “You’ll find that answer to than in Dt 29:29 29 “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law
a. There are secret things – Given on need to know bases
b. But God has given us all the information we need in order to be faithful
2. 2 Pet 1:3 – His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness
3. Focus on life, godliness, faithfulness
1. Truly, our Lord has given us everything we need for life and godliness (inv)
2. If have obeyed, remember that our Lord has given us everything we need for life and godliness
a. What this means – If we don’t have it, then we don’t need it
b. Even in difficult times, he is with you and will see you through
c. Last words of Jesus in Gospel of Matthew: “I am with you always, to the end of the age.”