Daniel 050 – Blessed to be a Blessing

Daniel 050 – Blessed to be a Blessing
Daniel 11:33-35 • Dr. Andy Woods • January 21, 2018 • Daniel


Andy Woods

Blessed to be a Blessing

1-21-18      Daniel 11:33-35         Lesson 50

Good morning everybody.  If we could take our Bibles and open them to the book of Daniel chapter 11 verse 33 the title of our message this morning is “blessed to be a blessing” “blessed to be a blessing.”

And as Richard mentioned today is sanctity of life Sunday and just really quickly as you are turning there sanctity of life Sunday was started by then Pres. Ronald Reagan to commemorate the various lives that have been lost in the abortion holocaust in this country really beginning about 1973.  So then Pres. Reagan picked the nearest date to Roe vs. Wade, the infamous decision handed down from the Supreme Court that said unborn are not deserving of legal protection and some people have analogized that decision to another infamous ruling in American history.  The Dred Scott decision 1857, which said almost the same thing but this time or back then it said a slave has no rights under the 14th amendment, and in essence that’s what the Supreme Court said in 1973 related to the subject of abortion.  So since that point in time, if there are a million and a half abortions a year, you have about 68 to 70 million Americans that have lost their lives.  It’s a number that so big it’s hard to even quantify it.  The best way I know to explain it is you think of our country, with about 300 to 320 million people in this country and just think for a minute if about one out of every five people just disappeared.  That’s the amount of people that whose lives have been lost, thanks to our country’s policies related to abortion in Roe vs. Wade.  So thankfully those that founded this church included as one of our position statements the sanctity of life, clause it’s position statement number one it says “We believe that the fetus from the moment of conception is a person (Psalm 139, verses 13 through 18).  We also believe that all persons are created in the image of God, regardless of age, health, function, and/or condition of dependency”.  So, here at Sugarland Bible church, we do not embrace the quality-of-life argument that life has value if it adheres to a certain quality.  We embrace the sanctity of life, meaning that every single human being is deserving of respect and dignity because they are made in the image of God.  The elderly and the infirm, the mentally handicapped or retarded.  And this would also include the unborn.  We believe that’s the biblical position. It’s a difficult subject to talk about because when you bring up the subject inarguably someone within the sound of your voice has either had an abortion or participated in an abortion or help finance an abortion or has pressured someone to have an abortion.  And a lot of times people go into these clinics that provide abortions without full knowledge of what they’re doing, their kind of made to believe is just like having your appendix out or having your tonsils out or having your teeth cleaned and it’s really not until later that they discover the scientific and biblical truth.  And so our purpose today is not to heap condemnation on people either.  We believe that the grace of God is so deep that it covers any sin, even a sin like this and I would remind you that three of God’s choicest servants had murder in their background.  Those would be Moses, the apostle Paul and I said three and I’m forgetting one aren’t I, David, thank you.  I shifted too fasting to the New Testament, and I should know better because Jim McCown and myself did an hour Facebook live feed on the subject, where we went into depth on it.  So if you’re interested in that you can find that archived at the SLBC Facebook page, we talked about the biblical scientific legal issues surrounding it.  But we ended just like I’m ending this brief introduction with the spotlight on the grace of God.  It is tragic that many church services will come and go today and you won’t hear a single word about this in many places.  Other churches praise God we’ll talk about it and since this is part of our spiritual heritage and since this is all been happening in our country we want to make you aware of it.  We want to bring that to your attention.

We have been studying the book of Daniel, as you know, verse by verse and let’s see here.  The power points working here but you guys can’t see it so not entirely sure what to do.  I guess I could just do it like Paul did it not use PowerPoint. So let me go back to the beginning and see if it works, there’s that.  And I still don’t know if it’s working.  That’s a nice verse we can read that again if you want, but hopefully it’ll synch, it will catch up. We’re in that final section of the book chapters 10 through 12 dealing with that final vision and the year that Daniel received these specific prophecies was about 536 BC.  So he is seeing things and going to be seeing things that happened about four years from his timeframe.  Chapter 11 verse two all the way through the end of chapter 12 is really that final vision, which Daniel saw. He has received verse 2 some information about Persia.  He’s also verses 3 and 4 received some information about Greece.  Thank you Laud if you want to preach a little bit feel free to jump in.  He, verses 5 through 20, really has been talking a lot about a warfare between two dynasties.  The dynasty in the north and the dynasty in the south the Ptolemies and the Seleucids lots of information about that and then we moved to verses 21 through 35 where we start to get, there we go, praise the Lord very good, thank you for being instant in season and out of season as you guys are getting confused as I was talking about all this stuff, but we got into the Ptolemies in the Seleucids.  It’s a war that goes on for about 150 years, about 323 to 175 BC, and we went through all of the characters and figures. And it is a somewhat interesting how Daniel could see these things in advance with great specificity, but then the Holy Spirit directs our attention to one particular dynasty.

The Seleucid dynasty up north in Syria because there’s coming one from that dynasty named Antiochus the fourth.  He becomes a big deal because he becomes a type if you will, or a prefigure-mint, if you will, of the coming Antichrist.  So we, by in large are almost finished ,believe it or not talking about him.  We talked about his rise to power, we’ve talked about his initial successes in military.  We talked about his specific military activities concerning Egypt and Israel.  We talked about and Richard read the verses today where he would, Daniel predicts desecrate the Jewish temple and we’re in that part of that where we’re starting to see a reaction amongst God’s people.  Probably the way to understand these verses, verses 32 through 35 is within the land of Israel you have two groups. You have one group that just sort of capitulated to Antiochus the fourth, they thought his new culture that he was bringing in was fine.  They, by and large accepted the desecration in the temple, even though as we talked about last week that the desecration of the temple was horrific and blasphemous.  But there’s another group a smaller group and minority group of resistors and the obvious application to us is this:  we are living in the devil’s world the devil is the prince and power of the air.  He is the god of this age, the god of this world, he roams back and forth like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  And the target of Satan is the mind, if he can influence the mind, our philosophy, the way we think, that he can by and large, dictate the course of our lives with us sometimes not even realizing it.  For example, if I buy into certain lies, like for example the lie of materialism.  I believe the lie that material things are going to make me happy in the emptiness that I feel inside can be filled with some kind of new house, new boat, new car, new status, whatever the case may be. Then that literally changes my priorities, it changes the way I live, it changes everything I do, it changes what motivates me. Changes why I wake up in the morning, and this is why we are told over and over again to screen our thoughts, to allow our thoughts and our minds to be renewed.  Romans 12 in verse 2.

So there are really 2 kinds of Christians, those who capitulate and those who resist. And I hope if you come to a church like this and obviously love the Bible and the word of God, I would hope, I would think that most, if not everyone in here would be a resistor to satanic influence.  But you see within the land of Israel there were these two kinds of people.  Some capitulated, some resisted and so Antiochus starts to deal aggressively with the resistors, and this is what the consecrated life will do to you.  The consecrated life in God.  A mind that won’t capitulate, but wants to get its influences, primarily from the word of God.  You will find yourself sticking out like a sore thumb, in your family, in your culture, in your workplace, God forbid, even sometimes in your local church. And you suddenly, the moment you stand up for God and stand out for God is the moment you have a target on your back, that goes with the territory. And this is what was happening in the land of Israel, Antiochus the fourth was rolling in.  He was bringing in the desecration of the temple he was bringing in Hellenization and he could quickly identify the resistors. It’s interesting I was even watching, not this week but last week a great YouTube video, I think her name is Charlotte Isherbeat, if I pronounce that right. She was in the Reagan administration, she was in charge in the cabinet of education. And she talks about how before she arrived at that position that in education she was trained to identify the resistors, she was trained to identify the people that she called the Christian fundamentalists.  The people that were against any number of things that you might find in your average public school: abortion is okay, sexual education without an emphasis on abstinence, rewriting America’s history, you know whatever the case may be and there were people that were coming to school board meetings and voicing their concerns. And she could basically figure out who the resistors were and who were the people that would cooperate. And those that were the resistors were given their own strategy by her by their own their own game plan before she really wised up and recognize what was going on and she repented and came out of that and she wrote a book.  It’s only 800 pages or so it’s called “The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America” I think is the title.  Or perhaps it’s “The Deliberate Dumbing Down of American Education” and it’s just a fascinating read.  What little I’ve seen of it, regarding how well thought out the enemy strategies are. In fact Paul tells us, I believe it’s over in the 2nd Corinthians 2:11, if I’m not mistaken right in that area,  he says we are not unaware of Satan schemes, strategies, plans, and as God is my witness if you are serious about Jesus Christ there is already a strategy at work, in the fallen angelic realm to neutralize your effectiveness for God.  Just as Charlotte Isherbeat was, prior to her repentance, was trying to neutralize the effectiveness of people in the educational environment that she called the resistors. We wrestle, the Bible tells us, not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers and rulers of this dark world and Antiochus the fourth came into the land of Israel couple hundred years before the time of Christ.  Daniel sees all of this prophetically and he had two groups of people to work with those that cooperated and then those who he calls the resistors.

Notice that if you will, Daniel 11 and notice verse 33, as this begins to play out.  It says “Those who have insight among the people will give understanding to the many;” now the many is a reference to the nation of Israel, we know that because Daniel 9 in verse 27 says ”He,” that’s the Antichrist “will make a firm covenant with the many.”  The many is used, sort of as a synonym for the Jewish people of the Hebrew nation, and what this is talking about is there are those amongst the many that have insight. And there are those amongst the many of Israelis that did not have insight and the expectation of God is for those that had the insight to help those that didn’t.  And that’s why I’ve entitled this message “Blessed to be a blessing.”  Why is it that God gives people certain gifts, talents, and abilities?  Why is it that in their physical genetics, or sometimes even in their spiritual DNA, they have a gift counter ability of the rest of us don’t have. The fact of the matter is, if you compared yourself to the people next to you, you would discover that they are gifted in ways you’re not, and you’re gifted in ways that are not and that’s by the design of God.  If you have any type of gifting, if you have any type of talent, if you have any type of ability the thing to understand about that is: when God bequeath that or gave that to you, He didn’t just have you in mind. This is sort of the mistake that we make, we think this is mine, and the reality of the situation is God never gave it to you just for you.  His purpose has always been to bless you so you can bless somebody else. Every resource, every gift, every talent, every ability, every insight was given supernaturally to you by God, either in your physical DNA or your spiritual DNA because God’s purpose for your life was always to be a blessing to somebody else.

So the expectation of God during this difficult time under Antiochus the 4th was that those with insight would come to the aid as servants to those without the wisdom or without the insights. I like to call this principle, the principle of prosperity. You turn on so-called Christian television today and they talk all about prosperity, how prosperity is some kind of guarantee to every child of God. And I here at Sugarland Bible Church, we reject prosperity theology, we reject the idea that somehow it is a divine right to financially prosper. However I also know this, God does allow in His sovereignty, and in His Providence some to prosper financially. It’s not a promise necessarily it’s just something that works out in God’s grace and in God’s providence and you wake up one day and you see how the world did I get all this and why am I here? You ever have those feelings?  The reality is, God gave those things to you because there’s a purpose in it to be a blessing to somebody else. 1st John 3 and verse 17 says, “but whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide on him or in him?” James 2 verses 15 and 16 says “if a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them go in peace, be warm, be filled and you do not give him what is necessary for their body, what use is that?” Now we talk about this in the realm of finances, and that’s just one of many applications I talk about it also in the area of gifting, talents, abilities, whatever the Lord has blessed you with is not just for you to increase your status and your visibility and your standard of living.  The whole plan of God from the beginning as he foreordained those things into your life is that you would be a blessing to somebody else. We talk about being blessed many times, but I don’t think we fully understand why were blessed God blessed you to be a channel of blessing to other people and so those with the blessing of insight during this dark time spiritually of the reign of Antiochus the 4th over the land of Israel and Hellenism and Hellenization.  Those with insight were to help those that didn’t have it.  Those who have insight among the people will give understanding to the many yet verse 33 they will fall by the sword and by flame and by captivity and by plunder, for many days moving into verse 34 first part of it, it says now when they fall. It’s interesting that these resistors were the people that brought literally brought the house down.  I don’t mean to use that expression, the way it’s normally used in terms of breaking out in laughter but they brought the wrath down of Antiochus the fourth, the more you are resistor the more you are targeted by the forces of darkness. Why are you targeted? You’re targeted partly because you’re a threat.

Now back in the old days when I was playing basketball at the University Redlands.  We had a pretty mediocre team with pretty mediocre players, including yours truly, but we had one guy on the team, that was so good he was actually recruited by the Denver Nuggets, which is an astounding thing for an NCAA Division III athlete. And every time we stepped on the floor, we knew this: if he was on we had a good chance of winning, if he was off that night we were in for a long night. And virtually every defense we faced was designed to shut him down. Why is that? It’s because the rest of us really, really weren’t that big of a threat. So they ran what is called a box in one where you have four players on defense and one guy, their best offender, followed him around everywhere he went, so you know I was put in the game really to set picks to get him open.  I mean I could do that, stick my big body in the way, get him open for the shot. And the reason he was so strategize against is because he was a threat, see that, the moment you step out for God is the moment in the realm of darkness you’re a threat. So Satan starts to devise the box in one against you, and what happens is many times one of his greatest tools is discouragement and persecution, sometimes criticism from fellow Christians. And in the midst of it you say to yourself, what am I doing that’s wrong? And the reality is you’re not doing anything wrong.  In fact, what you’re doing is exactly right.  If you weren’t stepping out in the consecrated life and fulfilling God’s purpose for your life you would be no threat to the kingdom of darkness.  Therefore, there is no need at all to run any kind of box in one against you. And think about this for minute, as you look at your life in God as you look at the year 2018 that’s coming, ask yourself this is Satan devising a defense just for me? And you know that he is because you’re getting hit from the side and hit from that side and in the midst of that the devil works discouragement and makes us feel like wow are doing something wrong when in reality you could be directly in the will of God.  Jesus said in John 16 verse 33 “In the world you will have tribulation but take courage.  I have overcome the world.”  Acts 14 in verse 22, the apostle Paul there in southern Galatia said this “Through many tribulations (plural) we must enter the kingdom of God.”  Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount Matthew 5 verses 11 and 12 “Blessed are you when people insult you, that happen to you lately) and persecute you, and (look at this) falsely say all kinds of evil against you.”  Why? Because you’re lewd, crude and obnoxious? No, Jesus says because of me.  What’s to be our reaction? Matthew 5:12 “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for the same way they persecuted those who were the prophets who were before you.” You know people have on their refrigerators and little booklets about the promises of God, and I never see this on anybody’s keychain, is a promise are you ready?  2 Timothy 3:12. In this promise: “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” So, you can actually gauge your growth in Christ by the opposition that you get because you have been targeted as a resistor.

This is the kind of thing that’s happening here under Antiochus the 4th and notice what it says there in verse 34.  “They will be granted a little help.”  You’ll notice that the people on the right side of things were the minority.  The people on the wrong side of the things, the capitulators to Hellenism were in the majority and we in the United States of America have been deceived into thinking that majority rule is right so let me tell you something.  The majority frequently has it wrong biblically on almost everything.  In fact, you recall the story of Joshua and how they were going to go they got to Kadesh Barnea there in Numbers 13 and 14 and how they were going to enter the land and what did they see in the land they saw giants in the land and the majority, their heart melted like wax.  That’s the committee vote.  That’s what the board wanted to do and just two of them, that’s not a lot of people, Joshua and Caleb said let’s go in.  Let’s enter two guys in and we know the story they had it right, they would’ve won, the majority had it wrong.  So God does what he does in a lot of churches when the majority has it wrong, he just lets people die.  That’s okay, I’ll wait, I’ve Got 40 years to spare. So there in the wilderness for 40 year all of these resistors, now here are resistors to God’s plans not Satan’s plans.  I was using the term earlier.  They just die off in the wilderness and God’s says you what know I’ll work with your kids and I’ll let the two guys that believe me, Joshua and Caleb, I’ll let them go in as 80-year-olds as seasoned citizens and I’ll just start over.

But you’ll notice here that the few were correct, the majority had it wrong.  Jesus said in Matthew 7 verses 13 and 14 “Enter through the narrow gate.  For the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.  For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life and there are few that find it.” What is the path to destruction?  It’s thee 5 Lane Freeway.  What’s the gate to life?  It’s the narrow access road on the side. And we think in our Americanism that the majority always has it right and the reality is the majority frequently is wrong about a great number of things and that’s what you see there in verse 34.  When these resistors to Hellenism were granted a little help. But to verse 34 goes on and it begins to describe how some join their ranks says in verse 34 “and they will be granted little help, (but you know what they’re going to pick up steam as the movement grows) and many will join them.” Now here the many is not those that are the minority of little help, it’s those in hypocrisy that were cooperating with Antiochus. I mean if you went with majority opinion in the days of Antiochus the 4th you would  be on the wrong side. And I say that because there’s going to be times in your life as a Christian where you’re going to have to buck the trend.  The reason is because you’re going to have to stand on God and God’s word and you’re going to get disagreement sometimes from your own church God forbid, sometimes from your own board God forbid, sometimes from your own family God forbid, sometimes from society, sometimes from the workplace and yet the moment we stand with God is the moment we graduate from simply being a believer to being a what? A disciple.  So what’s the difference, well a believer is someone who has received God’s free gift of salvation and is not going to hell.  That’s a good thing right? And it’s great to be a believer but the reality of the situation is God starts to push your life in such a way and orchestrate your life in such a way that He says now that you have believed in me, I need you to start standing on my Word in daily life, and you know what? It’s gonna cost you something.

See getting saved doesn’t cost you anything because Jesus paid the full penalty for salvation.  But discipleship is completely different.  Discipleship always involves standing with God in obedience and there’s some kind of repercussion: the loss of a job, loss of employment, loss of a relationship, loss of something. And yet this is the plan and purpose that God has for us.  And isn’t it interesting that in the midst of losses the Holy Spirit has such a way of showing up and comforting us in the most beautiful terms.  You know you receive thee, what Paul calls: the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, and you actually begin to see yourself as privileged in that life of discipleship. Because you’re, the favor of God is on the pain of loss is still there but the favor of God is there, the comfort of God is there, the dependency of God on amongst our hearts is there. So if you would join the many would be hypocritical and notice, if you will traveling down to verse 35.  “Some of those who have insight will fall in order to refine, purge, and make them pure” see what was happening here in Israel.  God was deliberately allowing this persecution to take place for a deliberate separation.  God brought this trial into the life of Israel because God who is all-knowing could see cooperators with Hellenism He could see resistors to Hellenism, and He deliberately wanted to separate the two, and nothing like a trial separates believers from disciples.  The believers only, that have never submitted to discipleship who have their fire insurance paid up that the first moment of a problem that happens anywhere including in  a church, even our church you all know we have problems in this church, you know we have problems in this church because we have people in this church you have a church with no problems and you have a church with no people.  And if you got a church with no people that really gives you another problem when you think about it, but problems in a church, problems, in a family it’s so interesting that God uses to expose the hearts of people. The person is not a disciple will not tolerate the pain will not tolerate the inconvenience, I’ll just go down the street and find a church where there is no problems. And they go down the street and discover that, that church has got worse problems than the one you just left. See start bouncing all over Houston like up ping-pong ball boing boing trying to find the perfect church. Well here’s a little secret, if you find the perfect church, please don’t join it because you will end up ruining it.

So there is a separation that’s happening between the resistors to Hellenism, and the those that cooperated with Hellenism.  This was the design of God.  Now it’s very interesting as you get into the second part of verse 34 it says, “until the time of the end.”  Look at that, because it is still to come at the appointed time.  This separation is something that God did not just use in the time of Antiochus the 4th, but He will use it right on through Israel’s end-time program.  Why is that? Because Israel had defectors and she had loyalists and God was allowing the hearts and the motives of people through tribulation to come to the surface.  You don’t determine your character in God when everything is running smooth, the real you, the character God has worked in you will come out in the midst of duress.  It’s like a cup filled with coffee and suddenly the cup gets knocked over, that’s what a trial does it knocks your life over and whatever’s in the cup, good or bad is going to spill out. The real you, good or bad is just going to naturally come out and a lot of times are deceived to it because our hearts are deceitfully wicked, the prophet Jeremiah says.  And so God allows something to go wrong, just so we can see where our deficiencies are. See that so defectors vs. loyalists in this purging process that was happening here under Antiochus the 4th, under the providence of God.  God, what was he doing? Just turning up the temperature.

God then makes an interesting statement through Daniel that this is going to happen until the time of the end until the appointed time.  This Israel is a foretaste of your future because one of these days following the rapture of the church, Israel is going to be put through a trial that is so profound.  What they experienced under Antiochus the 4th will pale in significance.  Zechariah 13 verses 18 and 19 talks about it says “It will come about in all the land, declares the Lord, that two-parts in it will be cut off and perish, but the third part will be left in it and I will bring the third part through the fire, I will refine them as silver is refined,” it is interesting that in 1st Peter 1 verses 6 and 7, the trials that we go through are analogized to the refiners fire and you think about what does a refiners fire actually do? Its purpose is not to destroy its purpose is to purify. When God allows you to go through circumstances that are outside of your control, beyond your ability to cope with, you have to understand that He providentially He sovereignly allowed that into your life because He’s going to do a purging work in your life.  As the fire comes into your life that the waste, the dross, the non-valuable part is burned off and what remains is that precious pure gold pure silver and this is what God is doing in all of our lives and this is what’s going to happen big time with the B for national Israel. “It will come about in all the land, declares the Lord, the two parts in it will be cut off and perish, but the third part will be left in it and I will bring the third part through the fire and refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested.”  Well what’s the end result then, then “they will call on My name” to be in a relationship with him.  When this happens and “I will answer them and I will say they are my people, and they will say “the Lord is my God”.”  You know I will preach until my lungs collapse, that the church cannot be in this time period, specifically described called The Tribulation.  Having said that though based on the reference in 1st Peter 1, 6 and 7 I believe it’s as strongly as I believe that the church will be raptured before the tribulation, I also just as strongly believe in the reality of the refiners fire in the life of the Christian. Probably not as severe as what Israel will go through but the fires and trials that we go through can encompass and include great severity.  In fact, Paul the apostle so interesting when he talks about the trials that came into his life at a couple of places in 1st Corinthians, probably more 2nd Corinthians, he says “I despaired to the point of death.”  That’s why he said you know “for me to live is Christ to die is (what?) gain,” think of something coming into somebody’s life that had as much spiritual knowledge and spiritual powers as Paul says I’d rather just go home and be with Jesus than the walk-through another day like this. I share that with you because I know some of you are right there, just right there.  One of the most painful parts of my job and the job of our Elders is to read through the prayer requests that get submitted. And you say Lord, what are you doing with this person don’t you realize what they’ve been through.  Don’t you realize the character that’s been built in them.  Just give them a break and yet I’m not the one in charge of who is put through the refiners fire and who isn’t.  I have a hard enough time dealing with my own refiners fires as they come, but the comfort of God, the peace of God, the resources of God, the tranquility of God will show up in your life as you submit to God in discipleship, not through human power, under His power as you walk through great difficulties.

Israel is going into this they were experiencing under Antiochus the 4th, the church experiences it to some degree today, but Israel is going to go into it big time in the tribulation period.  In fact, is going to be so severe, think about this: that two thirds, if I’m reading this right, two thirds of the Jews will be killed.  You talk like this to a Jewish person, they will shut you down so fast it will shut off the conversation, they don’t want to hear anything about it because what is the rallying cry of the Hebrew nation.  Never again.  Hitler killed 1/3 and what are we saying eschatologically what Hitler did is horrible as that was. On that basketball team, we played all over Germany I went to Dachau, I stood in the very places where the gas came out and poisoned the Jewish people.  I was aware of all of this before it was really more accurately brought to people’s attention through the movie Schindler’s list.  This was 1988, 1989 and you look at the horror that that nation went through and the prophet Zechariah, under the inspiration of God, says the worst is yet to come.  Wow. Hitler killed 1/3 God says 2/3 are going to die in the events of the tribulation.

And this is what is being reflected here when He says this purifying process will continue until the end of time because it is still to come at the appointed time. In Sunday school this morning, we were going through the differences between Israel and the church.  One of the major differences is that within Israel you can have believers and unbelievers.  All that is necessary to be a Hebrew, a Jew is to be a physical descendent of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  But some believe some don’t the purpose of the tribulation period is to separate believers from unbelievers and when you read Zechariah 13 it’s startling to learn that 2/3 are unbelievers, one third, God is going to refine and bring through the fire and fulfill His covenants with them.  There, is that not another example of how the majority is frequently wrong.  2/3 are going to have it wrong.  God is going to work through this 1/3.  And that’s why there’s so much talk in the Gospels about how God is not impressed with the Jew just because he’s a Jew.  What impresses God is a believing Jew Matthew 3 in verse 9 John the Baptist, I believe, is speaking and he says “do not suppose you can save yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’ for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham,” you’re child of Abraham big deal. That’s never impressed God, what’s impress God is a believing child of Abraham because without faith it is, what? Impossible to please God.  If you are here today and you’ve never exercise faith in Christ, it doesn’t matter how much money you give, doesn’t matter where your charity goes, doesn’t matter how you spend your time, it doesn’t matter how spiritual we think we are or how much of the contributor we are to society IF we have never exercised faith in Jesus Christ, God looks at our life and is unimpressed.  God looks at the nation of Israel and He says I’m not impressed with that, what I’m impressed with is faith.  And that’s the purpose of the refiner’s fire to bring them to a point where they need to trust God.  Romans 2:28 and 29, “for he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor circumcision that which is in the flesh, but he who is a Jew who is one inwardly and circumcision is that of the heart by the Spirit, not by the letter and his praise is not from men but from God.”  I again will preach until my lungs collapsed that God has made a covenant with Israel.  He is going to keep that covenant.  He is going to bring them into the Millennial Kingdom and He will fulfill every single promise He has ever made to the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  I will die preaching, but I also will die preaching this, that God is unimpressed with people simply because of their ethnicity or their identity or their heritage.  What He has always wanted is not just a Jew, but a believing Jew. What He has wanted is not just the circumcision of the flesh, but the circumcision of the, what? The heart.

Romans 9 in verse 6, Paul says “It’s not as though the word of God has failed for they are not all Israel who have descended from Israel.” Isn’t that interesting.  There’s a smaller group, Galatians 6:16 within the nation of Israel God’s going to work with.  There is coming, a few Joshuas and Calebs who in the midst of defying majority opinion are going to trust God “We’re with God.”  That’s who God is impressed by.  That’s who He’s going to work through. Romans.  Revelation rather chapter 2 in verse 9, Jesus speaking to the church.  I think this is at Smyrna says, “I know your tribulation and your poverty (you are rich) and the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not but are a synagogue of Satan.”  What does God look at, as it is a mere Hebrew that rejects His offer of salvation: it’s a synagogue of the devil himself. And that’s when you can begin to see the purpose of the tribulation period is to separate the two.  And that’s why Zechariah 13:8 and 9, that I read little earlier, comes in so strong on this. What about the church? Within the church can you have believers or unbelievers? Well maybe in a building, maybe on a local Church’s membership roll.  You can have people that are actually, in faith and those that are not but let me tell you something as far as the Church that counts in the mind of God, what we would call the Universal Church you don’t have believers and unbelievers.

Within Israel, you can have a believing descendent of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and you can have an unbelieving descendent of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  So, God has to separate the two.  He doesn’t have to make that decision with the Universal Church because if you’re part of the universal church, by definition, you’re already in faith.  1st Corinthians 12 in verse 13 says, “for by one Spirit we were all (keyword there) baptized into one body, whether Jew or Greek whether, slave or free (here it comes again) we were all made to drink by one Spirit.”  That’s true of the church it’s not true of Israel.  So what’s the division in the church then? It’s not like Israel where it’s believer vs. unbeliever, the division in the church is the difference between the spiritual man and the carnal man, the spiritual man and the babe in Christ.  Paul says in 1st Corinthians 3:1-3 “and I brethren (speaking to Christians right?) I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ.  I fed you with milk not with solid food, for until now you were not able to receive it.  And even now, you’re still not able, for you are still carnal.  For where there is in (oh my goodness, look at this) envy and strife and division among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?”  That’s the division in the church, it’s not believer vs. unbeliever, like Israel, within the Universal Church it’s the spiritual vs. the babe or the carnal and you say will how do you know if you’re one or the other? You can ingest milk but can’t handle meat. You been hearing the same sermons taught the same way by the same people for the last 20 years and yet you’ve never grown to the point where you gone deeper into the word of God.  You thrive on a surface level, understanding of the Bible because that’s all you can take. And don’t let that preacher make the unpardonable sin of preaching past the 12 o’clock hour.  My stomach is hungry and I got lunch plans and I got my social calendar and I,I,I,I,I.  So, when the meat comes, you just, it’s like a child. Anymore than a child can take in anything other than milk, the carnal Christian can only handle a certain level of spiritual food. That’s why the churches that teach at a very surface level, this morning, in Houston are jampacked. Multiple services. And here we are a smaller group and as I’m looking out this is actually a bigger group than what we normally have, why aren’t we jampacked? Why don’t we have multiple services? It has to do with what Paul is saying here, you go into the level of Bible study that we go into and it’s just not going to register with a carnal or a babe in Christ. And you know that you’re a carnal in Christ or a babe in Christ because your life is controlled by pettiness, jealousy, infighting, arguing about selfish stuff.  And isn’t it interesting about a little child that hasn’t grown up yet?  The child thinks the whole world revolves around them and you know there are people like that in the church, they come into the church and they want all the spotlight on them and they want all the attention and if they’re not given this position or that position, we’ll just go down the street, I’ll find one that will because their narcissistic using psychological terms.  I don’t call it narcissistic, I call it carnality.  These are people who will spend eternity with us not in that state. Because the division in the church is not believer vs. unbeliever, it’s the spiritual vs. the carnal

See you can divide human humanity up into two big categories unbelievers and believers.  And that’s about as far as most people will take it, which you see you get into the writings of the apostle Paul.  1st Corinthians 3:1-3 and you start to see that Paul is a lot more sophisticated and nuanced than we are. Within Christianity, he describes three kinds of Christians, the maturing growing Christian, the spiritual man, not the one that’s sinless, but sins less under God’s power. And then you have the new believer that’s an infant and they’re sorta cute because you look at a baby sucking their thumb and that’s what they’re supposed to do right?  The problem is when the child is 16 and still sucking their thumb, still lying in a crib, that’s not cute anymore.  That’s not age-appropriate.  We have a developmental problem here and I would say this that 3rd group that carnal group, why are they called carnal? Because they’re devoted to the meat or the flesh.  The dictates the old nature are not controlled and they have never learned the resources of God yielded to those resources moment by moment, and they probably have never had a single day in their life where they’ve lived above and beyond the dictates of the sin nature. Still blowing their stack it every little problem, still easily angered over the slightest provocation and the author of Hebrews says by this time you ought to be teachers.  Hebrews 5:11-14 “By this time” indicates that they had been in that state, longer that than what was acceptable.  That’s what Paul is talking about here. The refining fire in your life is designed to move you from either carnality or infancy into the spiritual man.  The goal of Sugar land Bible church is to certainly reach unbelievers but God sends people to us, I believe, to help them move from infancy and carnality into the spiritual Christian. It’s time to grow up, it’s time to start taking in all the food groups, it’s time to ingest the meat, you’ve been immature way too long. And those are the major divisions in the church,  the division in the church is between the kinds of believers.  That’s not how it is with Israel.  Israel is believer and unbeliever.  This is why Israel goes into the tribulation and the church doesn’t.  The purpose of the tribulation period, is to bring unbelieving Israel to faith.  Why would God allow that to happen to His church when His church, by definition, is already in faith Amen.  Well then how is God going to fix this problem here the carnal the infant not becoming spiritual? That’s what the refiners fire is doing in your life.  It’s not separating believer from unbeliever it’s saying let’s grow up and nothing causes a Christian to grow up faster if you respond the right way in a trial. If I had my life folks. I would just sit on easy street, I like the plateau or the mountain experiences in the Lord, and the Lord gives those, and I say to the Lord “Can we stay here for a while?” The answer is no.  We start the decline; we start to go into the valley, I don’t know if I really like the valley. I liked it a lot better on the mountaintop, but why does God send us into the valley?  He sends us into the valley because He loves us as we are to be sure, watch this very carefully, He loves this too much to leave us as we are.  There is such a vision for your life in God and that vision is just not can be reached as long as we persist in infancy and carnality.

And so what you see here in verse 35, is the two great programs for Israel and the Church.  The Church is the refiners fire to help us grow up, but Israel goes into the tribulation period itself to separate 2/3 unbelievers from the 1/3 believer. And this is what Daniel means when he says “this purging or purifying process will continue until the end of time.”  Verse 35, “and it is still to come at the appointed time.” You say well Pastor I mean, you’ve really got me an edge of my seat, what exactly is can happen for Israel? And you have to come back next week for that. Because beginning next week we leap forward at least 2000 years, more than 2000 years, from the time of Antiochus to the king, verse 36, named the Antichrist. And between verse 35 and verse 36 there are over 2000 years between those verses, and we are living in between those two verses. And you say that’s a very strange way of reading the Bible how do you know that that’s true? Well next week, not tonight or today, today will become tonight if I’m not careful I’ll give you seven reasons why we leap 2000 years in between verse 35 and verse 36 and you say will all that stuff is future?  Yes, beginning in verse 36 to the end of chapter 12 future, future, future, future, were finished with Antiochus the 4th because he’s just a prefigurment of what’s to come.  What we’re going to learn is what is to come.  You say will how are you so sure taht everything beginning in verse 36 to the end of the book is going to happen?  The answer is we’ve gone through 100, and did you know we’ve gone through this many, 125 prophecies in chapter 11 verse 1 through verse 35. They have happened in history literally well why would the remaining prophecies happen?  I have total confidence that verses 36 and following will happen. So will continue on in that in that vein.

If you’re here today, perhaps as an unbeliever?  What does that mean? It means you’re not yet part of God’s universal church.  You haven’t even started the process of growth because you’re on the wrong hemisphere. The unbelieving hemisphere.  So how do you move from unbeliever to believer? How does this walk start?  It’s simple, it’s the Gospel. It’s so simple a child can understand it.  It’s something that you receive from God as a gift by faith, only.  Why? Because Jesus did all the work. De did everything that was necessary to bridge the gap between fallen humanity and a holy God through His death, burial, resurrection and ascension’s, His final words on the cross were what? “It is finished.”  So, you enter a walk with God by receiving a free gift from God. And the only way to receive in God a free gift from God, is to believe in God. One condition, belief is another way of saying trust, reliance dependence, the spirit convicts people.  Men and women of their need to do this, we in our fallen state, sadly have the capacity to resist the drawing spirit of God, and it could be that (I didn’t plan that) could be someone within the sound of my voice is resisting the Spirit’s conviction, and that alarm proves it.  So, our exhortation to you is to come under the conviction of the Spirit and to receive what Jesus has done for you as a free gift.  You can do it right now as I’m talking in the quietness of your own thoughts and heart, is not something you have to raise a hand to do join a church to the walk-up an aisle to do.  It’s a matter of privacy between you and the Lord, and if it’s something that you need more explanation or information I am available after the service, along with the many other elders that will greet you on the way out.

Shall we pray –  Father we’re grateful for these 35 verses in how they reveal history so accurately.  I ask us now father that you would help us to become good students, and what is to come as we transition that direction next week we’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory as we walk with You this week by way of faith and as You grow us up in Christ we ask these things in Jesus name.  And God’s people said AMEN