Daniel 055 – God’s Protective Care

Daniel 055 – God’s Protective Care
Daniel 12:1-2a • Dr. Andy Woods • March 18, 2018 • Daniel


Andy Woods

The Protective Hand of God

3-18-18       Daniel 12:1-2a               Lesson 55

If we could take our Bibles and open them to the 12th chapter of the Book of Daniel, having finally escaped the 11th chapter of the Book of Daniel, which sort of seemed like the tribulation period in a way.  I have to say that’s one of the more challenging chapters I’ve ever had to study and preach and teach through as Daniel 11 so I’m glad to be in Daniel 12, just for the simple reason that Daniel 11 had 45 verses in it.  Daniel 12 only has 13 verses in it but they are rich verses.

The title of our message this morning is The Protective Hand of God.  And as you know we’ve had a couple of weeks hiatus but we’re back in the Book of Daniel today.  Daniel, of course, has received this final vision, which really spans chapters 10-12, about 536 B.C.  So Daniel sees many things back in the sixth century that are even still yet future from our own time period.   The vision itself really begins in chapter 11, verse 2 and spans all the way to chapter 12 and verse 13.  Daniel has been given information about his own day and beyond, information about Persia, information about Greece, information about the warfare between the Ptolemies and the Seleucids, information about a diabolical ruler that would emerge a couple of hundred years before Christ, a man named Antiochus IV.

And then suddenly beginning, I would say around verse 36 of Daniel 11 he’s teleported into the distant future.  And he begins to see information that from our day is yet to come.  All the things Daniel has said and spoke of and written about in this vision are things that from the 21st century are in our rear view mirror.  But now he’s in that section where he’s revealing things that from the 21st century are yet future.  So he’s revealed a lot of information about the coming antichrist, Daniel 11:36-45.  And now, as we move into chapter 12 he’s giving a lot of information about the tribulation period yet future and the kingdom which will follow.

So just to kind of give you the big picture of Daniel 12 here’s what the big picture looks like.  No, you’re not seeing double there, there are two major parts of this chapter.  Verses 1-4 is what I would call a description of the end times; that’s the section we’re going to be beginning this morning.  And then in verses 5-13 we move away from a description of the end times to information about the duration of the end times.  And the reasons I’ve entitled it the duration of the end times is because there is two rounds of questions and answers, questions related to duration and length and when.  So the first round of questions and answers is verses 5-7; the second round of questions and answers is verses 8-13.  And by the time we finish that question and answer session we will be finished with the Book of Daniel.

Let’s start off here and let’s get a description f the end times, verses 1-4.  Four things are revealed: number 1, the suffering, verse 1.  Number 2, the separation, verse 2.  Number 3, the shining, verse 3.  And then finally number 4 the sealing, verse 4.  And it’s likely that we’ll only be getting through, if we’re even fortunate to do that, verses 1 and 1.   But notice if you will the suffering.  There is an intense period of suffering yet future for the nation of Israel and we can divide that as follows.  In verse 1 you have the prince described in verse 1.  Secondly you have the pain described, also in verse 1.  And then finally you have the perseverance described also in verse 1.  But notice Daniel 12:1 as information is given about the prince.

Daniel 12:1 says, “Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued.”   You’ll notice out of the gate here it says “at that time.”  What time is it talking about exactly?  Well what it’s revealing is information that has come before, information about the future antichrist.

If you look back at verse 40 it says, “at that time, the kind of the south will collide with him and the king of the north will storm against him.”  You notice the chronological marker “at that time” revealing information about the end times.  Now that information continues into chapter 12.  In fact, chapter 12 may not be the best chapter division in the Bible;  you all know that chapter divisions weren’t put there by the Holy Spirit; the chapter divisions are basically manmade and sometimes I think the divisions are very helpful because they segment the Bible for us but other times I think they’re somewhat confusing because they unnaturally bifurcate what we’re reading about from what came before.  And so we really need to look at all of chapter 11 and 12, really chapter 11:36 all the way through the end of chapter 12 as a one unit information about the end times.

But notice what Daniel predicts here.  “Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of Israel will arise.”  We’re introduced here, for the very first time in the Book of Daniel, to an angel named Michael.  Now it gets a little confusing because we’ve run into an angel before, haven’t we, several times in the Book of Daniel.  That angel’s name is Gabriel.  There’s a reference to Gabriel in Daniel 8:16, Gabriel is the one that gave to the nation of Israel and to Daniel the prophecy of the ram and the goat.   You’ll Gabriel’s name is mentioned in Daniel 9:21, again it was through Gabriel that the prophecy of the Seventy Weeks was given to the nation of Israel in Daniel.  [Daniel 8:16, “And I heard the voice of a man between the banks of Ulai, and he called out and said, ‘Gabriel, give this man an understanding of the vision.’”  Daniel 9:21, “while I was still speaking in prayer, then the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision previously, came to me in my extreme weariness about the time of the evening offering.”]

And now we’re introduced to a completely different angel, named Michael.  While Gabriel has a function in God of revealing new truth Michael’s function is slightly different.  He stands guard over the nation of Israel.  In fact, he protects the nation of Israel.  Jude and verse 9 refers to Michael as an archangel.  [Jude 1:9, “But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”]

One of the things to understand about God is God is a God of order.  You look at God’s blueprint for the family and the home and what you’ll see in it is an order.  You look at God’s blueprint for the church and what you’ll see in it is an order, there’s a hierarchy, there’s a leadership structure.  You look at God’s blueprint for the business world and you’ll see in it there’s a hierarchy or a structure to it, there are roles for people to play that God expects people to submit to and to adhere to.  And to the extent that we submit to, and first of all understand but secondly submit to, thirdly respect the order of God what you’ll discover is businesses can function successfully, a family life can function successfully, a church can function successfully and effectively.  But the problem today is we are a people that don’t want to submit to divine authority.  And as we reject the blueprint of God we have complete chaos in marriage, we have complete chaos in government we have complete chaos in the family, and God forbid, we even have in many cases total chaos in a church.  And it really has to do with not understanding God’s blueprint for these things and an unwillingness to submit to the things that God has said.

And just as there is a divine blueprint for family, church and business there is a divine viewpoint in the angelic kingdom.  Not all angels do the same thing; Michael doesn’t do Gabriel’s function; Gabriel doesn’t do Michael’s function.  Gabriel has a function of disclosing divine truth; Michael has a completely different function of protecting the nation of Israel.  And that’s why I’ve entitled this message the protective care of God, the protective hand of God.  One of the things that God is doing in your life is He’s protecting you. You may not see the protection, you may not be aware of the protection but it’s there.  Psalm 34:7 says, “The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him and rescues them.”

And you might recall even from the Book of Job, when Job requested permission to come against the life of Job as he’s requesting permission from God, Satan was not allowed to do anything until first of all God gave Satan permission, and secondly, Satan was not allowed to do anything without limits placed on him.  And we can praise the Lord for that because if it were not for the protective care of God I doubt we’d be meeting here worshipping the Lord, praising the Lord and studying the things of God.  1 John 5:18 says, “…He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.”  And we can be grateful for that.

I’ve shared this incident from Billy Graham’s book, Angels, God’s Secret Agents; let me refresh your memory.  Billy Graham writes this: “The Reverend John G. Patton, pioneer missionary in the New Hebrides Islands told a thrilling story involving the protective care of angels.  Hostile natives surrounded his mission headquarters one night intent on burning the Patton’s out and killing them.  John Patton and his wife prayed all night during that terror filled time that God would deliver them.  When daylight came they were amazed to see that unaccountably the attackers had left.  They thanked God for delivering them.  A year later the chief of the tribe was converted to Jesus Christ and Mr. Patton, remembering what had happened asked the chief what had kept him and his men from burning down the house and killing them.  The chief replied, in surprise, who were all those men who were with you there?  The missionary answered there were no men there, just my wife and I.  The chief argued that they had seen many men standing guard, hundreds of big men in shining garments with drawn swords in their hands; they seemed to circle the mission station so that the natives were afraid to attack.  Only then did Mr. Patton realize that God had sent His angels to protect them.  The chief agreed that there was no other explanation.  Could it be that God had sent a legion of angels to protect His servants whose lives were being endangered.”

It’s sort of interesting to study the concept of angels and guardian angels and how God  uses angels and what we discover here is Michael, not Gabriel, has a specific role that he will play in the end times where he will stand guard over Israel.  And it’s so interesting to me that God will call angels to do different things.  And if they violate their role confusion reigns.  1 Corinthians 14:33 says, “God is not a God of” what?  Confusion.  [1 Corinthians 14:33, “for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.”]  God has an order in the angelic world.  He has an order in the area of marriage and family.  He has an order in the area of the church.   He has an order in the area of business.  He even has an order in the area of angelic protection.

So why is the nation of Israel going to be needing protection in the end times?  I mean, why is Michael specifically dispatched from heaven to protect the nation of Israel?  Well I’m glad  you asked that question because that moves us from the Prince to the pain. Pain is in store for the nation of Israel, they are about to enter a very dark time in their history yet future, and they will need angelic protection.

Notice the second part of the verse, it says, “there will be” not might be, “will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time;” there are very dark storm clouds on the horizon for the nation of Israel.  In fact, you’ll notice  this language here, it describes a time of distress that there has never been and never will be again.  And it’s interesting to me as you study this time of distress Daniel is not the only prophet that refers to it.  The first prophet that I can find that refers to it is the Book of Joel, in Joel’s prophecy.  Joel says of this time period, “A day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness, as the dawn is spread over the mountain so there is a great and mighty people” notice what Joel says, Joel 2:2, “there has never been anything like it, nor will there be again after it.”  [Joel 2:2, “A day of darkness and gloom, A day of clouds and thick darkness. As the dawn is spread over the mountains, So there is a great and mighty people; There has never been anything like it, Nor will there be again after it To the years of many generations.”]

Jeremiah the prophet foresaw this time period as well.  Jeremiah 30:7 says, “’Alas! for that day is great, There is none like it; And it is the time of Jacob’s distress, But he will be saved from it.”  You’ll notice that this is a time period, not for the church; this is a time period for the nation of Israel, a time of distress for Jacob.  And it’s not just in the Old Testament, Jesus spoke of this time period.  In Matthew 24:21, Jesus said, “For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.”  This is a time period that has been revealed, first of all by the prophet Daniel in a prophecy we spent a lot of time going over, Daniel 9:27, and John, in the Book of Revelation is primarily talking about this time period.      [Daniel 9:27, “And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”]

A lot of people say well how bad can it be?  How much pain is there?  How much distress is there yet future for the nation of Israel and the world?  Well, over in Revelation 6:8 with the fourth seal judgment it talks about a quarter of the earth’s population perishing.  [Revelation 6:8, “I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth.”]

Over in Revelation 9:18 with the sixth trumpet judgment it talks about a third of the earth’s population perishing.  [Revelation 9:18, “A third of mankind was killed by these three plagues, by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone which proceeded out of their mouths.”]

One of my heroes of the faith is Charles Ryrie.  Charles Ryrie had an ability to communicate lofty concepts at a very simple level.  One of the things to understand about Charles Ryrie is he started off not to be a theologian but he started off to write children’s books.  The very first book that Charles Ryrie ever wrote was not a theology book, it wasn’t the Ryrie Study Bible, it was a book for children and because of his love for children and because of his desire to reach children he had a capacity to teach concepts which are very lofty, but he had the ability to put, as J. Vernon McGee said, “could put people on the bottom shelf.”  Charles Ryrie learned to be the great theologian and teacher that he became because of his work with children.  And some of you may feel a calling to preach, you may feel a calling to teach, and may I make the humble suggestion to you… I would start off with children.   Our church, as you know, is hungry and very interested in finding people that can teach children.  We don’t have a lot of people that want to teach at that level. We have a lot of children but we don’t have a lot of teachers.  So we’re always in prayer as a staff that God would raise up children’s teachers, children’s workers, children’s ministry leaders.

And it may be that as you develop the capacity to create and communicate with children, maybe it’s going to be that God is going to expand your horizons because you’re going to learn how to communicate at a very simple level.  And that’s how the ministry of Charles Ryrie really began; it began teaching children.  He became the great communicator of truth because of his work with children.  And I looked at my newspaper, this was when I was living in Dallas, and I noticed there was a little church down the street from me, where we were living at the time, and there was Charles Ryrie, he was going to be the speaker.  He had retired from Dallas Seminary so I never had a chance to learn from him directly, I had read many of his books, and so I went down the street and kind of sat there in the back because I wanted to hear Charles Ryrie speak.  And in this little church, Town North Bible Church, he was talking about the tribulation period and he was describing how bad it’s going to be.

And this is an analogy that he  used, it’s so simple.  He said, “I want everybody in this room to hold up four fingers.  So you all can do that with me, can’t you?  Just hold up your hand and if your hand is not up I’ll call you out, embarrass  you, and he stood in front of this little church, (keep your hands up, I see some of you are putting them down, I know there’s lactic acid build up) but he said I want you to take your forefinger and put it down just like this.   He said that’s Revelation, chapter 6 and verse 8.  Now I want you to take your middle finger and put that down, that’s a wiping out not just of a quarter of the world’s population but a third of the world’s population, and that’s Revelation chapter 9 verse 18.  Now of the original fingers you have left (which was four) how many are left?  Two.  Just a simple analogy and I’ve never forgotten it, revealing the severity of the end times, revealing and communicating the fact that when the tribulation begins half of the world’s population is going to be destroyed.  And this is what Daniel is speaking of here.  He’s speaking of the time period of distress that has never occurred and never will occur again.

Now when you begin to study the Book of Revelation what you’ll discover is there’s many views on this book.  Did you know that?  There is a view called preterism which essentially argues that these prophecies that we’re reading about already happened; they happened in the first century when the Romans sacked Jerusalem in A.D. 70.  That’s what is called preterism.  Preterism comes from the Latin word past, which means bygone or past, preterist.  And you say well that’s crazy for people to think that.  Let me tell you something, the preterist interpretation is gaining tremendous ascendancy in our day.

There are many, many people that you know by name that are arguing for a preterist interpretation.  Many of them call themselves partial preterists, meaning the bulk of Revelation, the bulk of Daniel’s prophecies have already happened; there’s a small shred for the end.  You might recognize names like R. C. Sproul, N. T. Wright, the Roman Catholic apologist Scott Hahn, he has a ministry, which I put in parenthesis-“ministry” where he is out to… well, it’s called this, it’s called  Home Sweet Home Ministry.  The idea is to get everybody to come back to the Roman Catholic Church.  When you look at the writings of Scott Hahn he is a preterist.  Jumping down to the second to last name on the list you might recognize the name Hank Hanegraaff, his ministry is called The Bible Answer Man.  It’s not something that he just stated on the radio, he, like Sproul, have written entire full length books on the subject telling people there is no future tribulation period, there is no future antichrist, all of those things are past.

And you see, the preterist has a tremendous difficulty with verse 1 which talks about a time of distress that far transcends what happened in A.D.  70.  Don’t get me wrong, A.D. 70 was bad, probably about a million Jews lost their lives during that time period.  But it is not a fair description of what Daniel is talking about here when he talks about a time of unequalled distress, something that has never occurred and never will occur again.  A million lives lost is tragic but Hitler amped up that number, didn’t he, from a million to six million.  And what I’m saying is if I’m interpreting my Bible correctly what is going to happen to this planet future, what is going to happen to the nation of Israel yet future far transcends any past event.  And yet the preterist must dismiss the ordinary rules of language to get their interpretation to work.  In order to take these global events that are predicted and ram, jam and cram them into the local events of the first century involves de-literalizing and in some cases de-historicizing passage.  And when  you read Preterist writers they go on and on and on and on about how you can’t take these prophecies literally.

One preterist says, ““…the preterist view does understand Revelation’s prophecies as strongly reflecting actual historical events in John’s near future, though they are set in apocalyptic drama and are clothed in poetic hyperbole.”  [Kenneth Gentry]    What he’s saying is you don’t take this literally.  The problem with that, of course, is all of the prophecies that have already happened that Daniel predicted have come to pass very literally, haven’t they.  So why would the Holy Spirit switch horses in midstream?  Why would the prophecies yet past be literal and the prophecies yet future are suddenly nonliteral.  Yet to make the preterist system work there’s always an argument against deliteralizing the prophecies.

Here is R. C. Sproul; R. C. Sproul in his book, it’s a full length book, you can find it on the internet and read it for yourself, he says:  “Russell and Calvin agree that the language employed in biblical prophecy is not always cold and logical as is common in the western world that adopts a kind of fervor common to the east.”  Translation: don’t take this literally.

And within the maze of interpretations of the Book of Revelation there are others.  Another view is what is called historicism.  Historicism has probably been the dominant interpretation of the church for the last 2,000 years.  Historicists basically say these prophecies are not talking primarily about A.D. 70, but what they’re talking about is events in the history of the church.

So they will gravitate towards the Black Plague for example, as a possible manifestation of the judgments spoken of in the Book of Revelation.  They’re always trying to find things in church history to say that the Book of Revelation has already been fulfilled.  By the way, our camp is accused of date setting all the time.  I’ve been the pastor of this church since 2010; has anybody ever heard me give a single date for the return of Christ?  I hope not, because that is not something that I believe we can do.  But historicists, which is the dominant interpretation in church history, sets dates all of the time.  In fact, you might remember David Koresh, wacko from Waco as he was called.  He was basically a historicist in his interpretation arguing that the seal judgments were happening right then and there in the compound, and so forth.

There’s another view called idealism and this is sort of the recycling view.  They locate Armageddon, for example, in every generation, it just recurs in every generation.  Or they look at the prophecies of Babylon’s destruction and they say well that refers to Jerusalem’s fall in A.D. 70, it also refers to the destruction of the Roman Empire later on in church history.  It can be happening today, Babylon, Las Vegas after could qualify as Babylon.  Or San Francisco, or I would say Washington D.C. or any city you wanted it to be, and they say oh, there’s going to be a literal Babylon in the end times.  So you see what they bought into is this recycling, this perpetual recycling of the Book of Revelation.  They reject the idea that these prophecies are speaking of a singular fulfillment yet future.

And as we have been studying these prophecies how are they fulfilled?  They are fulfilled, at least the ones that have come to pass in the past, in real time in history in a singular way.  Every prophecy we’ve looked at has been fulfilled that way so why would the prophecies yet future sort of recycle from generation to generation?  The viewpoint that we embrace here at Sugar Land Bible Church is called futurism.  We believe that these prophecies are yet to come and they will be fulfilled in the future, primarily in the tribulation period and the kingdom that follows.  And why do we embrace that particular position?  We embrace that position because as you look at these prophecies it’s obvious they are such a grand scope, it’s obvious that they are so global in nature that they’ve never happened on planet earth.

For example, Revelation 16 talks about the sea of the entire world turning to blood red.  Now I realize that the BP oil spill was bad but it wasn’t that bad; at least not in comparison to the global nature of these prophecies.  These prophecies talk about a man of sin called the antichrist who will rule the whole world for a period of three and a half years.  Adolf Hitler was bad but he’s not as evil as this global empire that is yet future.  And so the preterist, the historicist, the idealist, when they come to a passage like Daniel 12:1 it gets very difficult for them because they have to bend over backwards explaining to their readers and explaining to their listeners why the passage really doesn’t mean what it says.  [Daniel 12:1, “Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued.”]  But if words mean things, and they do, God is describing a time of unparalleled distress which has never hit planet earth the way it is described here, and therefore it is yet future.   And by the way, if you want a very good book on this I recommend this book by Steve Gregg called Revelation: Four Views: A Parallel Commentary.

Steve Gregg, unfortunately is a preterist so I don’t agree with his conclusions but he does an amazing job of setting up four parallel roads on each side of a book that he has written and every section you come to it’s a verse by verse study of the Book of Revelation.  He says here’s how a preterist interprets that verse, here’s how a historicist interprets that verse, here is how an idealist interprets that verse, and on the far right would be ourselves, here is how a futurist interprets that verse. And I have to be honest that even though I disagree with Steve Gregg’s preterism I think he does a very good job representing all the different views.  And I had an opportunity to write my dissertation on this sort of subject and so Steve Gregg’s parallel commentary was a great asset to me just to understand how other people think differently.

And so I’m sort of the type of teacher and preacher where I just don’t to tell you what to think, I  want to move away from what to why.  We are not the only view out there; however, we embrace futurism here at Sugar Land Bible Church for the simple reason that the language of these prophecies is obviously global, they are obviously things that have never come to the earth the way they are described here, and we take those prophecies just as literally as we do the prophecies that have already happened.  And yet the preterists and so forth have a difficult time here rewriting the verses.

Let’s let the text say what it wants to say.  Shall we?  What is it saying here?  “There will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time,” and if you want an in-depth description of that time period the Book of Revelation, where half of the world’s population is wiped out, is a tremendous  treatment on this. [Daniel 12:1, “Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued.”]

And you see, once you understand that this time period is coming for Israel you can understand why at that time Michael, the angel designated by God to protect the nation of Israel is going to stand up and offer protection to the nation of Israel because let me tell you, she is going to need that protection during that terrible time period.  So futurism is our viewpoint on these things.

So we move from the  prince to the pain and notice the third part there of verse 1, we move to the perseverance, “at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued.”  You’ll notice that it says “your people,” now we’ve already had teaching, haven’t we, on who “your people” is.  This is not speaking of the church; this is speaking of the nation of Israel.  In fact, you might to back to Daniel 9:24, you might remember that when we were studying the seventy weeks prophecy I gave you ten facts to understand about that prophecy and does anybody recall the first fact?  Who does the prophecy concern?  The nation of Israel.  Daniel 9:24 says, “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, [to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place.]”  The prophecy is being aimed at Daniel.  Daniel was a Jew.  What is Daniel’s city?  The city of Jerusalem.

This is not a prophecy about First Baptist of Houston, Second Baptist of Houston, Sugar Land Bible Church, North America.  I mean, it’s very clear when you let words say what they want to say that these are prophecies for the nation of Israel.  It says there in Daniel 12 and verse 1, “…at that time your people,” that’s the nation of Israel, the Jewish people, “everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued.”   And you can understand why a Jew reading this and going through this time period would see this as tremendous hope.  This is why God has included these prophecies for the nation of Israel as they walk through these times, to give them hope, to remind them that God is very much on the throne and some way, somehow through this ordeal, through the distress, a believing remnant will emerge.  And through that believing remnant God will fulfill everything He’s ever promised to do to the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

You can parallel this verse with the Book of Zechariah, chapter 13 and verses 8 and 9. Notice what Zechariah again says concerning this time period.  “‘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 will be left in it.  [9] And I will bring the third part through the fire, refine them” not destroy them, “refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested.  They will call on My name, and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are My people,’ and they will say, ‘The is my God.’”

The nation of Israel, by definition, has within it believers and unbelievers.  The purpose of the tribulation period is to purge off the unbelievers, in this case it will be two-thirds, which is a scary statistic since the Jews today say never again with Hitler who killed one-third.  If I’m understanding my Bible correctly the worst suffering is yet future for the nation of Israel, even surpassing what Adolf Hitler did to the Jewish people in the World War II era.  The unbeliever’s two thirds will be purged off, a believing remnant will exist and through that believing remnant God will purify that believing remnant and through that remnant He will fulfill all of the promises that He has made to the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

The church, by definition, does not consist of believers and unbelievers.  If a person is a believer in Christ they are baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ; the church certainly has babes in it, infants in it, carnal in it, spiritual in it but all are believers.  So therefore there’s really no need for the church to go into this time period to separate believer from unbeliever since we’re all believers.  Israel is very different.  Israel, by way of structure, by way of definition,  can have believing Jews and unbelieving Jews and the purpose of the tribulation period is to separate the two.

So this reveals to us tremendous information about the character of God.  All hell could break loose on a person’s life and  yet God some way, somehow, is going to use that difficulty to execute His purpose.   And you say well how does this apply to us if we’re not going to be here.  Well, the application to me is very simple, God has made you a promise, has He not?  The moment you place your personal faith in Jesus Christ the following promise was made to you.  John 10:27-29, ““My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; [28] and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. [29] My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”

No matter what distress, no matter what difficulty takes place in your life God is going to use that difficulty to execute His purpose in you, just like He’s going to use this difficulty for Israel yet future to execute His ultimate purpose in and through them, the conversion of the remnant.  Your destiny as a child of God, as a member of the church age, is arrival in heaven.  That’s the purpose.  That’s a promise that God has made to you and adversity and difficulty and problems can’t subvert that purpose.  If anything God is going to use them to accomplish His purpose.  God is using adversity in the life of the nation of Israel to accomplish His purpose and it’s the same for you.  Your life could be going through some very deep waters, it could be going through some adversity, it could be going through some difficulty, to get through it all the purpose of God will be accomplished.

And just as Israel, just as this remnant is going to be protected by God through this difficult time the same protection exists for you as you walk through life’s valleys.  1 Peter 1:4, Peter writes of us who are protected by the power of God.  [1 Peter1:4, “to obtain an inheritance which is imperish­able and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,.”]   I mean, do you realize that as you sit here today, as you listen to me speak, that you are actually being protected by the power of God.  Do you realize that as you go through job layoffs, bad news from the doctor, relational difficulties, adversities, problems with your body, do you realize that you’re being protected by the power of God because God made you a promise that if  you put your trust in His Son your arrival in heaven is guaranteed.  Nothing can derail that.

So God’s character is such that He’s going to use tribulation to execute Israel’s purpose.  And why would it be any different for us?  Just because you’re going through a difficult time doesn’t mean somehow the promises of God and the plan of God and the program of God for you as an individual has somehow been subverted.

People ask me a lot, well, do you believe in the perseverance of the saints?  What do they mean by that?  Well, you’ve got to persevere in good works to the very end of life to prove you’re a Christian.  To be completely frank with you I don’t believe in the perseverance of the saints the way I just described it because there can be ups and downs in a Christian’s life.  In fact, the guy who wrote this verse, 1 Peter 1:5, about us being protected by God, didn’t that guy, the Apostle Peter, have some problems.  [1 Peter 1:5, “who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”]  I mean, isn’t this the same guy that denied the Lord three times?  Isn’t this the guy that made an off the wall statement to Jesus in Matthew 16, and Jesus said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan.”  [Matthew 16:23, “But He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.’”]

Isn’t this the same guy that got so bound up in a false gospel and in legalism, therefore in the Book of Galatians, Galatians 2, he had to be corrected face to face by the Apostle Paul?  The same guy that went through all of those problems and all of those deficiencies and all of those highs and all of those lows would write at the end of his book, to, by the way, a group of Christians who are about to be thrown into the lion’s den in Nero’s coliseum, this is why Peter concludes his epistle by saying “the devil roams about like a” what? “roaring lion seeking someone to devour.”  [1 Peter 5:8, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”]  Most of the time we get a metaphorical interpretation of that.  I happen to think it was very literal.  I think it was an actual physical lion historically that these Christians were being thrown to.

So here is a man about to go through great adversity, by the way, the Apostle Peter is about to be crucified upside down so as to glorify Christ.  You talk about a man with problems, you talk about a man with failings, this is the same guy that tells us that we are being protected by the power of God.  Adversity cannot in any way derail God’s purpose in your life, which is arrival and glorification.  Just like this time of great distress that’s coming upon the nation of Israel after the church has been removed, it’s not going to derail God’s purposes for the nation of Israel.  In fact, God has a whole program in order where Israel will be protected during these things, at least a third.  That protected agent is Michael.

So don’t think that because you’re walking through deep waters and experiencing losses that somehow you’ve slipped out of the omnipotent hands of Jesus Christ and the Father.  The fact of the matter is God is so strategically and instrumentally working in your life that he’s actually using these things as a mechanism to further advance His purpose in you.  So I do not believe in the perseverance of the saints.  Here’s what I believe in—I believe in the preservation of the saints.  The perseverance of the saints puts all the responsibility on me.  I don’t believe that because I gave you examples of Peter’s failures.  Preservation of the saints puts all of the responsibility on who?  On God.  And so Israel is going to enter this time period and yet she will be preserved through it.

Now notice, we move from verse 1 to verse 2, we move away from the suffering to the separation.  Notice verse2, “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.”   You know what we’re getting ready to celebrate next Sunday, Palm Sunday?  Do you know the Sunday that comes after Palm Sunday?  Easter, we call it Easter, better said Resurrection Sunday.  Isn’t it interesting that the Lord would have us, in this verse, which is perhaps your most graphic prophecy or depiction of the future resurrection than anywhere else in the whole Bible?  The Lord would have us in this verse in this season.  You say gee, Andy, you really plan your sermons well.  I had nothing to do with it.  I’m absent many times, not too much hopefully, from this pulpit.  The calendar gets pushed back, and I just find it interesting that when we just move through the Bible the Lord will have us in the right verse at the right time covering the right circumstances.  That takes all the pressure off of me as a preacher; just let the Bible speak and let God say what He wants to say to God’s people and exactly when and how He wants to say it.

So a tremendous prophecy here about resurrection, which means we have to define what resurrection is.  We talk about resurrection all the time but what does it mean?  Resurrection is the opposite of death.  What is death exactly?  Death is a separation between the material and the immaterial.  You see, when the Lord created you He created you with a material component, a body, the body would have, you know, the various five senses, taste, smell, touch, sight, hearing, and those kinds of things.  But He also placed within you what is called the psuche, or the soul.  What is the soul?  Jesus said what can a man give in exchange for his soul.  The soul is the part of you that is designed to live forever.  And just like the body has different components to it the soul has different components to it.  Like what?  Like personality, volition, tastes, preferences, intellect, conscience, all of these things are part of the psuche or the soul and this is why man is very different than an animal.  Man is made in God’s image, having this capacity within him not just biological life but soulish life.  So the body is the material, the soul is the immaterial.  So what happens when you die?  The two separate. Death is a separation.

This is what happened with Jesus in Matthew 27:50, it says, “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit,” which I believe is a synonym for the soul, the two separated.  The same thing happened to Stephen in Acts 7:59, “They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!’”  When a person dies that is what happens, the material and the immaterial separate.  So if resurrection is the opposite of death, then resurrection is  a reunion.  The resurrection is a time in history where a person’s immaterial capacity re-enters their body.  But guess what?  You’re going to look a lot better and I’m going to look a lot better.  Why is that?  Because it’s the body as God intended it.   You see, sin has cursed our bodies.  Original sin has put us into a decaying body.  What did God say to Adam in Genesis 3:19, right after the fall of man?  “… For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.”  You’re going right back into the dirt from which you came.  Why is that?  Because the body itself was placed under a curse.  You see that?

And you say well, I don’t really believe this is true, I mean, I take my vitamins and I’m on the exer-cycle regularly.  Well, let me prove it to you.  When you go home today break out  your high school yearbook pictures and just take your modern driver’s license and put it right next to it and you’ll quickly see your body is decaying.  In fact, a couple of years I was so bold I went to my 30 year reunion from high school, 30 years is not an awful long period of time but it was almost like the night of the living dead.  [Laughter]  I hardly recognized anybody.  Fortunately the conference organizers had our pictures from our high school yearbook that we were to wear and I put two and two together so they were unrecognizable, I was unrecognizable.  Why is that?  Because 30 years is a long time for a decaying body to run its course.  I don’t think I’m going to go to my 40 year reunion.  [Laughter]  Nor the 50 year reunion, I’m hoping the Lord will come back.

But you see, this is why resurrection is such a big deal to the Christian.  It rescues us from the original sin of the decaying body.  So when you are resurrected you are put into your body, it’s still you.  I could recognize you, you could recognize me but the curse is pulled out of it.  It’s the body that God intended.

And the concept of resurrection is hinted at many times in the Scripture.  For example, in the Book of Job, the oldest book of the Bible, I believe this is in Job, I want to say chapter 19, verses 25-27,  Job says this, “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth.  [26] Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh” Job says, “I shall see God;  [27] Whom I” speaking of his eyeballs that he currently had, “Whom I myself shall behold, and whom my eyes will see and not another.”  Then he says at the prospect of this, “My heart faints within me!”  There is Job, the oldest book of the Bible, probably written around the time of Abraham, holding out the  ultimate hope of the Christian which is resurrection.

Isaiah 26:19 speaks of resurrection, and it says, “Your dead will live; Their corpses will rise. You who lie in the dust, awake and shout for joy, for your dew is as the dew of the dawn, and the earth will give birth to the departed spirits.”  This concept of resurrection is nothing new; it’s hinted at many times.  But what you have here in Daniel 12:2 is the most graphic depiction I can think of, of two resurrections.  One of the things that people really don’t understand is the fact that everybody on planet earth that’s ever lived will be resurrected.  We have a tendency to think it’s only the Christians that will be resurrected.  Look at this passage very carefully, it’s not saying that at all.  It says, “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others” see that, “but others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.”  Some are resurrected unto life to experience eternity with God.  Others are resurrected unto damnation to experience judgment throughout all eternity in a resurrected body.

John 5:29, New Testament, is the second place that these two resurrections are described.  John 5:29 says, “and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.”  This hope of the resurrection is something the Jews well understood; it was part of their culture.  Their own prophets had spoken about it.  That’s why when Jesus said to the sisters, your brother, Lazarus will live, not under­standing that He was going to resurrect now or I would call it resuscitate him now.   Martha, John 11:24, said to Him, oh, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”  What is she thinking of?  She’s thinking of Daniel 12:2, she’s probably thinking of the Book of Job.  She’s probably thinking of the prophet Isaiah.

Acts 24:15 says, “having a hope in God, which these men cherish themselves, that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.”   And then we come to the Book of Revelation, chapter 20, verses 4-6, also describing these two resurrections.  John says, “Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand;” and look at this, “and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. [5] The rest of the dead” same verb, “did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. [6] Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.”

Now John in the Book of Revelation gives us another piece of information, that these two resurrections at the end time are separated by a thousand years.  The thousand year millennial kingdom, a resurrection unto life for the believers at the beginning of that thousand year period and then a horrific resurrection unto damnation for unbelievers to stand before the Lord at the Great White Throne Judgment for sentencing at the end of the millennial kingdom.

And we’ve just started with this resurrection stuff; maybe if I’m long winded enough I could stretch this verse right on into the first Sunday in April, who knows?  But this is the season that we’re in and this is the time period where we need to be thinking about these things.  The great hope of the Christian is a resurrection unto life.

Now next week I’ll be showing you where the church fits into this because since God has separate programs for Israel and the church, we are resurrected at different times, and I’ll be showing you this very clearly from Paul’s writings and I’ll be giving you what I call resurrections in review.  When are these different resurrections going to happen chronologically?  What’s the resurrection at the end going to be like for the unbelievers?  And one of the doctrines I’m convinced that the evangelical church today is about ready to throw overboard, and I don’t say this because of exaggeration, I don’t say this because of hyperbole, I say this because I read people and I hear and see what they’re saying.  One of the doctrines that’s about a millimeter from being thrown overboard is the doctrine of eternal retribution, the idea that hell is just as long as heaven is.  It’s called annihilationism. And so when we reconvene next Lord’s day I’ll be showing you that you linguistically cannot do that.  If heaven and the kingdom are forever then so is hell, because the same words describe both.  And when  you throw a wet blanket over the doctrine of hell, let me tell you something, it affects many things in the church, not the least of which is the urgency in evangelism or evangelization, or missions.

Here at Sugar Land Bible Church the top 20% of the budget goes to missions and maybe we ought to do more.  Why are we doing that?  A very simple reason, we’re trying to keep people out of hell because hell is hell; hell is a horrific horrible place that your Bible talks about very dogmatically and categorically.  And you start playing games with that you just destroy the concept of world missions.  The urgency is removed.  And if anybody shows up next week we’ll be talking about that doctrine.

And you say well, gee, pastor, we want some application here; give us some application.  Well here it is, you ready?  What resurrection do you want to be in exactly?  There’s your application.  Do you want to be in the resurrection unto life, which is clearly spoken of here?  If you reject that then the only option for you is the resurrection unto damnation, which is plainly spoken here as well.  You see, the reality of the situation is because a person has not believed in Christ they are already condemned.   You see that?  John 3:18, [John 3:18, “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”]

The judgment of God is already hanging over them, it just hasn’t been executed  yet.  The sentencing hasn’t happened yet.  The sentence that we’re reading about here, that’s your condition in the first Adam.  But what a glorious thing it is for a human being to hear the clear gospel, that Jesus Christ entered history to absorb the wrath of God in our place and resurrected from the dead to validate and vindicate who He claimed to be, and what a glorious thing it is to believe that gospel, to trust it.  And once that happens your whole destiny is altered, no longer a candidate for the resurrection unto damnation but the resurrection unto life.

And so our exhortation to you today and to those that may be listening via internet or what have you is to think about that.  You know, we talk a lot in Christianity about the need to be saved.  Don’t we use that vocabulary a lot?  What exactly are we being saved from?  We’re being saved from this—we’re being saved from an eternal hell!  And if you’re listening on the internet or listening in the building it’s just a matter of hearing the gospel, “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God,” and trusting the gospel.  It isn’t a matter of raising a hand, joining a church, walking an aisle, giving money, it’s a matter of privacy between and the Lord where the Holy Spirit, and Jesus said the Holy Spirit would do this, would convict  us of our need to do this.  He wouldn’t believe for us, He would convict us of our need to believe.

You know, pain is not always a bad thing.  When I’m walking on the beach at night, or even in the day and I feel pain coming through my feet that’s a signal that’s actually helpful to me although it’s uncomfortable at the time; it tells me to put my shoes on or get off the beach because there’s broken glass under the sand and if I keep doing what I’m doing I’m going to destroy my feet.  Do you see that?  Pain becomes an ally.  Or a person’s hand is on a hot stove, and the pain goes shooting through your hand, and we’re irritated at the pain but the reality is the pain becomes a friend because if the hand set there on the hot stove the hand would be destroyed.  That’s what the Holy Spirit does.  He inflicts conviction or pain on people because the pain actually becomes a friend; it convicts them of their need to respond to the gospel so they will not be thrust, resurrected body and all, into a fiery eternal indignation.

Yeah, there’s something to be saved from.  The gospel is good news for the reason that it rescues us from something really bad.  And so our exhortation is in the best you know how, in the privacy of your own heart is to respond by way of faith to the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Trust Him and Him alone, what He did for us in His resurrection from the dead and His crucifixion to remedy this problem, because you’ve got a lot of problems in this life and so do I but none are as severe as this.  Every problem  you have is very temporal and transitory in comparison to this. And yet in the gospel this can be fixed in a nanosecond, simply by trusting in what Christ has done.  If it’s something you need more explanation on I’m available after the service to talk.

Shall we pray.  Father, we’re grateful for this time of the year when we celebrate Your triumphal entry and your bodily resurrection from the dead; help us to grow in our understanding of the doctrine of resurrection and help us to walk these things out through the urgency of the gospel message this week.  We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory.  We ask these things in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said…. Amen!