Daniel 062 – The Only Promise Keeper

Daniel 062 – The Only Promise Keeper
Daniel 12:13 • Dr. Andy Woods • May 13, 2018 • Daniel


Andy Woods

The Only Promise Keeper

5-13-18                   Daniel 12:13               Lesson 62

Let’s take our Bibles and open them to the Book of Daniel, chapter 12, looking today at verses 13.  The title of our message this morning is The Only Promise Keeper.  And this really is a historic Sunday; first of all we might actually finish the Book of Daniel today.  [Laughter]  Secondly it is Mother’s Day; are mothers important?  I’ll prove it to you. Raise your hand if  you’ve ever in your life had a mother.  Look at that, every hand is  up.  And then number three and I’ll make reference to this a little bit later, the nation of Israel, as of tomorrow, May 14th, the modern state of Israel will have now been in existence for exactly seventy years.  [clapping]  And that’s why I had to dress up for the occasion, this is my Israel tie.  I recognize it probably doesn’t go well with the rest of my suit but my wife was not here today to dress me and color coordinate me; my wife and daughter are flying home from Florida, having attended a wedding yesterday in the family.  So please pray for them as they make their journey back; we’ll be reunited this evening so I’ll have to quit going to McDonalds every night for my daily bread.

Here we are in the Book of Daniel; we’ve been talking about the final vision, chapters 10-12, how Daniel, having received these things in the sixth century, this final vision, he is an old man by worldly standards, having served the Lord faithfully these many, many years.  And it’s in chapters 11 and 12 that he receives what I think is probably his greatest revelation from God.  There was great warfare that accompanied that revelation but he did receive a vision beginning in chapter 11 stretching all the way through the end of the book.  It’s amazing the things that he had seen, empires that would come and go, many of which are past from our vantage point in the 21st century.  But he also sees things that are  yet future; he sees the antichrist coming, he sees the tribulation and the millennial kingdom coming in chapter 12.  He’s given us, verses 1-4 a great description of the end times.

And then finally, as we have been talking about the last several Sundays the Book of Daniel ends with sort of a round of questions and answers.  One angel asks another angel when is going to be the outcome of these things?  And in that process an angel explains the duration of Israel’s distress; it really kicks into high gear in the second half of the tribulation period but it’s a time period where God is using those circumstances to bring Israel to faith in her Messiah.

And then Daniel asked a question, he wants to know what is going to be the outcome of these things and he asks the question in verse 8 and in verses 9-13 he is told to sort of not worry about every­thing, a distant generation will come and go to and fro and understand these things.  A great contrast has been drawn between the wicked and the righteous in terms of their attitude towards Bible prophecy  in the last days.  And Daniel has even received information about additional days related to the preparation of the millennial temple, verse 11, and the preparation for the millennial kingdom.  It has been disclosed to him a missing or an interesting seventy-five day interval where God is sort of taking care of business after Christ returns to the earth at the end of the tribulation period in preparation for the millennial temple and the thousand year kingdom which will follow.  Last time we were together I tried to explain to you at least seven things that will be happening during that mysterious forty-five day, seventy-five day total interval and we got into the minutia of that last time.

And now we come to the very end of the Book of Daniel where one more thing is given here; one more piece of information and this one has more to do with Daniel as an individual.  Information is given as we conclude the book related to Daniel’s predicted inheritance.  Notice what verse 13 says; “But as for you, go your way to the end; then you will enter into rest and rise again for your allotted portion at the end of the age.”  You say well how are you going to turn this verse into a whole sermon.  Well those of you that ask that probably don’t know me that well I’m trying to prevent it from becoming a series.

But you’ll notice the beginning of the verse there, it says, “But as for you,” and I love the personal touch that the Lord gives to Daniel at the very end here.  Yes, Daniel, the prophecy’s you have received largely concern the nation, the nation of Israel’s future but I want you to understand something Daniel, that I am not just concerned about the nation generically, I’m concerned about you as a person.  I’m concerned about you specifically!

And I think sometimes as we study the Lord and what He’s done for the human race we have a tendency to sort of depersonalize things.  We say things like Jesus died for the world, which He did, but there’s more to it than that.  When Jesus died on that cross two thousand  years ago He was thinking specifically of you as an individual, thinking specifically of you as a human being.  Does not the Bible say that the very hairs on our head are numbered?   [Luke 12:7, “”Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.”]

This speaks of the detail that an all-powerful God has for each individual of the human race.  And I believe this, that if you were the only  person on planet earth then the death of Jesus Christ would have occurred just the same because He cares about the world generically but He also cares about you specifically.  I mean, think about this—the God of this whole universe wants a personal relationship with little old me, little old you.  If you called the White House today I doubt they would take your call, I doubt they’d take my call, but the Lord wants to take our call any place any time, because He loves us as individuals.

I’m reminded of Luke 19:5 where Jesus is in the height of His public ministry and there are great throngs gathering around to see Him there in Jericho.  And there’s this little man who’s so short that he had to get up on a tree to get a glimpse of Jesus.  [Luke 19:4-5, “So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way.”]  This man was named Zacchaeus,  Zacchaeus was someone that was despised by the masses, he was a tax collector which meant he was a thief, he was a known thief and he was a traitor.  And it says there in Luke 19:5, “When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus,” see, He’s addressing him as a person, “hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.’”

Think about that!  Jesus Christ, God in human flesh, looks up into this tree, sees this despised man, someone on the outskirts of society, and says to him I’m coming to your house today.  Think of the personal touch that goes into that.  Think of the love that Jesus has for that particular individual, that particular man, someone that had been pushed aside by Israeli society.  And that’s who Jesus is; He is the God, just not of the masses, He is the God of you as an individual; He knows exactly what your needs are.  He knows exactly what your concerns are.  He knows exactly what is burdening  you and He wants to intervene in our lives in a personal way in time of need.

You know, as you study the world’s religions I can’t think of a replication of deity that does that kind of thing and yet that’s who God is.  This is who this man, Jesus Christ, is.  So God here tells Daniel, “But as for you,” in other words, I’m not just concerned about the nation and its future and its millennium and its temple and the tribulation period, I’m concerned about you as a person and I want to reveal to you in the final verse of this great book that we call The Book of Daniel some specific information about you, Daniel, because of my love for you as a person.

He says this in Daniel 12:13, “But as for you, go your way to the end;” he is told here that he has completed his task, he’s done his job, he has faithfully served the Lord for at least four Gentile administrations, four in Babylon, four in Persia, as he was taken out of his comfort zone as a mere teenager and he’s still in that place of deportation as the book closes.  And God simply says to him  “go  your way to the end,” you’ve completed your task,  you’ve done your job.  You’ve even been faithful to do exactly what I’ve called you to do; until the bitter end you have faithfully recorded the words of this prophecy, now the job of understanding it, that’s not for you Daniel.  That’s for a distant generation.

Daniel, as we have studied, wanted to understand but he was told two times in this chapter, “But as for you Daniel, conceal the words and seal up the book until the time of the end.”  [Daniel 12:9] “Many will go back and forth and knowledge will increase….”  [Daniel 12:4]  “Go your way Daniel for these words are concealed and sealed up until the time of the end.”  [Daniel 12:9]  And we have unpacked from that the doctrine of progressive illumination, how God has designed His prophetic Word to get clearer and clearer as humanity marches closer and closer to the time period of these things.  Daniel, you’re living in the sixth century, you’re living in the wrong generation, you weren’t called to grasp it and understand it and comprehend it in its totality.  You want to under­stand it but that’s not  your calling.  You’ve done your job,  you’ve finished your task, you’ve completed  your race, you’ve recorded the revelation and now go your way.

And what a joy it is to get to the end of your life and understand that you have finished the reason for which  you were created.  You know, so many people, they get to the end of their life and there’s so much regret, I wish I had done this or I wish I had done that.  And you’ll notice this in the Bible with key figures that God strategically uses, with key figures that closely walk with God, you’ll notice that as they get to the end of their life there’s this place of contentment.  They may not understand it all but they have fulfilled the purpose of their design.

The Book of Acts, chapter 13 and verse 36 of David, the great king of the nation of Israel, it says this: “For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep, [and was laid among his fathers and underwent decay;]” sleep is a euphemism for death and David went into that time of death with the contentment that he had become what God had called him to become.  When you study the life of David it wasn’t a perfect journey at all but there was this sort of satisfaction that he had completed the task, he had finished the race.

This is what the Apostle Paul says at the end of his life in his final letter, called 2 Timothy, in the very last chapter Paul says in 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;” Paul understood very well that he was not saved by his works but he also understood very well that as long as there was life in his body and breath in his lungs that God wanted to use him for some strategic purpose and he got there to the very end of his life, when he said my life is being “poured out as a drink offering,” he got to the very end of his life and he could look back on a life well spent, a life of productivity, a life of fruitfulness, a life of contentment.

[2 Timothy 4:6, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.”]

And let me just tell you something, not everybody can say that.  In fact, the Bible warns us of Christians that are believers but are unfruitful in their lives.  I’m often asked the question, if a person is saved by faith alone and their salvation is 100% guaranteed then why not just go back into sin?  And the answer is if you do that  you forfeit things that are valuable, that may not necessarily relate to heaven or hell.   You have to spend so much of your life looking backwards sin regret, and how the Bible warns us that this can be a reality even for the Christian.  Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:15, “If any man’s work is burned up he will suffer loss, but he himself will be saved, yet as through fire.”  You can get to the end of your life and have a place in heaven but really no reward because you’ve invested so much of your life in the wrong things.

I’m reminded of one statement by a famous Dallas businessman; he said I’ve spent my whole life climbing the ladder of success only to find that the ladder was leaning against the wrong wall.  What a tragedy that is and yet Daniel didn’t have those regrets because of his close walk with the Lord.  1 John 2:28 says, “Now little children, abide in Him so that when He appears we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him at His coming.”  There’s the prospect of believers, Christians in heaven, saved, blood bought people, sort of shrinking back, self-imposed guilt and yet the Bible is telling us that this is avoidable.  2 John 8 says, “Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward.”  Revelation 3:11, Jesus says, “I am coming quickly, hold fast to that which you have so no one can take your crown.”  These are not salvation passages; these are reward passages.

And not everybody can look back on their life with the type of satisfaction that Daniel is able to look back with on his life.  Have you read recently the closing words of Mark Twain in his auto­biography?  He writes these words, it’s astonishing the things that he says just prior to his death.  He says, “A myriad of men are born; they labor and sweat and struggle for bread; they squabble and scold and fight; they scramble for little mean advantages over each other. Age creeps upon them and infirmities follow; shames and humiliations bring down their prides and their vanities. Those they love are taken from them, and the joy of life is turned to aching grief. The burden of pain, care, and misery grows heavier year by year. At length ambition is dead, pride is dead, vanity is dead; longing for release is in their place. It comes at last-the only un-poisoned gift earth ever had for them-and they vanish from a world where they were of no consequence; where they achieved nothing, where they were a mistake and a failure and a foolishness; where they left no sign that they have existed–a world that will lament them a day and forget them forever.”  [Mark Twain, Autobiography, 2:37]

That’s the humanistic understanding of life as you get to the very end.  How different it is for the Christian.  How different it is for the believer that walks in faithfulness to God throughout their life, living not a sinless life but a life that sins less.  How different these words are from Mark Twain than the Apostle Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, and I have kept the faith.”  [2 Timothy 4:7]  Daniel, you have done what I asked you to do; your final task was recording the vision and you’ve done  your job, and now Daniel, it’s time for you to move on into the next life.

And as we continue on in verse 13 the verse then begins to talk about the next life for Daniel.  “But as for you, go your way to the end;” and notice what it says, “then you will enter into rest and rise again….”  It’s interesting that Daniel had had a prophecy about the future resurrection. Do you remember all the way back in verse 2 Daniel wrote these words: “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.”  [Daniel 12:1]

And here we are at the very end of Daniel’s life and God makes a personal note to him that that great resurrection which you have prophesied about, which is probably the greatest passage we have on resurrection, perhaps in the whole Old Testament, that you Daniel are going to be a participant in that great resurrection.  You’ll be resurrected and you will take your seat in the coming millennial kingdom.

And one of the things, as I was studying this that jumped out to me is it says, “then you will enter into rest and rise again.”  [Daniel 12:13, “But as for you, go your way to the end; then you will enter into rest and rise again for your allotted portion at the end of the age.”]  God doesn’t say to Daniel, well,   I hope you make it, you’ve served me well, thank you but you know what I’m going to do at the end, I’m going to take your good deeds and your bad deeds and I’m going to weigh the two and I hope the scales sort of tilt your direction because if not you’re not going to receive your inheritance or your rewards.  And  yet that’s how so many people live.

You talk to modern day Muslims and you get into a theological conversation with them about the final judgment and that’s the way they think; there’s this great scales of justice at the end and hopefully the good is going to outweigh the bad and maybe I’ll get in.  And so many, many people, even in certain sectors of Roman Catholicism have this view.  Even in certain sectors of Protestant Christianity they have this view and they really don’t know if they’re going to make it of if they’re not because, after all, if it depends on the scales of justice at the end how do you know if you’ve done enough?  I mean, what exactly is the standard.

And how different it is with what the Bible reveals when God says to Daniel, “you will enter into rest and you will rise again,” it’s not a matter of might, it’s not a matter of probability, it’s a matter of a done deal.  And that is what the Bible offers not just to Daniel but to every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.  People say well, Daniel lived an exemplary life, of course he made it but I haven’t lived an exemplary life, I’m not really sure if I’m going to make it in or not.  And the error of our thinking is we think we get in based on what we did anyway.  What did Jesus say to the thief on the cross?  I had a chance to preach on that yesterday in the memorial service. Luke 23:43, this was a man that was dying on the cross, apparently because he had committed a capital crime.  At the very end of his life he reaches out by way of faith to Christ. What did Jesus say to him?  Well, you know, there’s going to be these scales and I hope the good is going to outweigh the bad… it doesn’t say that at all!  He said to him, “Truly, I say to you today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”  He doesn’t say might, He says “shall” just like God says to Daniel here, “you will enter into rest and you will rise again.”

This is a promise that is not just given to the great saints of the Bible; it’s given to you as well.  It’s just a matter of accepting it by way of faith.  Jesus, in John 5:24, a very famous verse on the assurance of salvation, it’s a verse I quote quite frequently.  Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has” present tense, “eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life,”  “passed out of” perfect tense, it’s something in the past that’s already happened.  You’re not passing out of death unto life, you have “passed out of death unto life” at the point of faith alone in Christ alone and you, present tense, have the gift of eternal life.  It’s yours!  And if you are going to go through your life with ambiguities about your salvation, question marks and doubts, then let me just say this: you’re living beneath your privileges.  The privileges are here and you’ve chosen to live down here somewhere.

On the authority of the Word of God one need not live this way.  You say well, how can you be so sure?  And where is this doctrine of the assurance of salvation taught?  Well, it’s taught all over the Bible.  John 5:24.  Dallas Seminary, when it was started was based on the doctrine of the assurance of salvation, not just the belief in eternal security but the belief that you know you have eternal security.  “We believe it is the privilege, not only of some, but of all by the Spirit, through faith, who are born in Christ as revealed in the Scriptures, should be assured of their salvation…” when?  At the end of their life, see if the good outweighs the bad?  NO, “ should be assured of their salvation from the very day they take Him” that’s Jesus, to be their Savior and that this assurance is not founded upon any fancied discovery of their own worthiness or fitness, but wholly upon the testimony of God in His written Word.  [DTS Doctrinal Statement Article XI—Assurance]  It is an objective, written fact.

Now if it was based on what I do, I have a lot of ambiguities and doubts, but not so the Christian who understands the grace of God.  Does anybody recall the final words of Christ; in fact it’s a word translated as words, before He died.  It’s in John 19:30.  It says, “Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said,” and you can finish the quote, “It is finished! And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit,” which is death.  He didn’t say you know, I’ve done about 95% of what I can do for you folks,  you’d better pull yourself up by your own bootstraps.  He said “It is finished!”  It’s a translation from the Greek verb tetelestai, also in the perfect tense meaning it’s already happened, it’s a onetime action in the past with ongoing results. It’s an accounting term; it’s a term that’s been found all over the Greco-Roman world in terms of archeology related to a stamp that was placed on bills when they were marked paid.  The term literally means paid in full.

And because it’s all about Jesus and what He has done doesn’t that take the pressure off me?   If I’m thinking that somehow I’m responsible for my salvation, believe me, I would go to my grave with a lot of anxiety and fear and that’s where a lot of people are.  But the Book of Hebrews tells us that Jesus has come into the world to remove from us the fear of death.  Why isn’t everybody afraid to die?  The way I’m understanding my Bible is death is a promotion.  What’s the fear?  It’s a bad doctrine of salvation that enslaves the masses where they believe that the onus for their salvation is somehow based on what they do.  And then the question is have I done enough?  But when you understand the concept of paid in full you understand that your salvation was never procured in the first place by you.  You received a gift is all you did.  And the God that justifies you… watch this, is the God that sustains you and the God that will keep you, even as you move off into death.  What a different perspective this is as we look at this doctrine of the assurance of salvation.

And how disconcerting it is to find major teachers within evangelical Christianity denying the doctrine of the assurance of salvation.  John Piper, I can’t say how many young people follow this man and hang on his every word.  He’s on record as saying “no Christian can be sure that he is a true believer, hence there is an ongoing need to be dedicated to the Lord and to deny ourselves so that we might make it.”  [John Piper and Pastoral Staff, TULIP: What We Believe about the Five Points of Calvinism: Position Paper of the Pastoral Staff (Desiring God Ministries, 1997), 25, cited in Dave Hunt, What Love is This?, 379.]

How different that statement is in comparison to what God just told Daniel here in Daniel 12:11.  It doesn’t say you might enter into your rest, and rise again, He says you will.  [Daniel 12:11, “From the time that the regular sacrifice is abolished and the abomination of desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days.”]  The plan of salvation is not, Daniel, based on what you do; it’s based on what I have done for you.  Let me tell you something, you start shifting the onus onto yourself you move into a works related doctrine and you will never know if you’re saved.  I mean, you will go right to your grave in fear, not knowing if you’re going to make it or not and how Jesus has come into the world to remove the fear of death from us.   We spend so much time living beneath our privileges and  yet that need not be so when we accept the written and objective facts of the Bible.

I’m indebted to Middletown Bible Church for this little cartoon.  It’s sort of sums up what I’m trying to communicate here.  It talks about an impassable chasm between two worlds.  One world is the world of man’s wisdom and the other mountain  is the world of divine wisdom.  Man says “salvation is by attainment.”  God says no, “salvation is by atonement.”  Man says “salvation is based upon human merit.”  God says no, “salvation is based upon divine mercy.’   Man says “what you need is a new start,” and what God says is no, “what you need is a new heart.”  Man lives with the model of “do.”  Christianity comes at us through the motto of “Done.”    Man says develop yourself in your character.  God says no, envelop yourself with Christ and His character.   [From the Middletown Bible Church Website]

As you look at these two mountains and the chasm between the two, because one comes from man, one comes from God, where do you spend the most of your mental time?  Trafficking in the world of religion and works and doubt or resting firmly on the promises of our Lord Jesus Christ. Daniel, “go your way to the end; ”  not you might but “you will enter your rest and rise again” and then notice this next clause, “for your allotted portion….”  [Daniel 12:13]  This is not talking about entrance into the kingdom, this is talking about a reward once you enter the kingdom.

You see all Christians will be in heaven but not all Christians will be equally rewarded once they enter heaven.   Daniel had already had this insight earlier in the chapter, Daniel 12:3, “Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.”  He pictures some as throughout the eons of time radiating light in its full glory. He talks about some that “will shine bright, like the brightness of the expanse of heaven,” “like the stars forever and ever.”  But he also is very clear back in verse 3 that not all believers will shine that way.   Only those who have insight, only those who will lead the many to righteousness in the events of the tribulation period and we have explained from that verse, I believe it was Easter Sunday we explained this doctrine of rewards and why there is a reality of a future reward.  All Christians get into heaven but not all Christians are equally rewarded once they’re in heaven.

And how Daniel, because of the course of his life, not being a perfect person but being faithful to the Lord, from the moment the book opens at age 16 right up until his 80’s and his 90’s as he’s received this final revelation from God, as he’s recorded them, as he’s faithfully served the Lord no matter where he was.  Under Persia he served the Lord, under Babylon he served the Lord, he served the Lord through four Gentile administrations and God says I’ve kept a record of that Daniel.

The record is not so much to determine your entrance into the kingdom, that’s by grace, but the record that I’ve kept is there to determine your degree of reward as you enter the kingdom, and Daniel, I can assure you that you are going to receive your allotted portion.  You’re going to receive your reward.  You’re going to not only participate in the final resurrection but you’ll receive your allotted reward and beyond that you have the gratitude, the satisfaction of looking back over a life well spent, again, not a perfect life but a life where the Lord used Daniel strategically.

This “allotted portion” [Daniel 12:13] may have a reference to Ezekiel 47, remember that Daniel was a prophet in the exile and in the exile in Babylon, about 300 miles or so to the east of Jerusalem, that’s where he spent the majority of his life, from his teenage  years onward.  In that area of the exile there was another prophet that God raised up called Ezekiel.  And you sort of have to study the books of Ezekiel and Daniel in harmony with each other.  I’m not sure if the prophets knew each other personally.  We do have some references in Ezekiel 14, Ezekiel 28 where Ezekiel was aware of Daniel; maybe he knew him personally, maybe he knew of him by way of reputation, we’re not sure.  But his contemporary, Ezekiel, in chapter 47, as Ezekiel is concluding his book, goes into great detail about the land portions amongst the tribes in the millennial kingdom.  And I have a feeling that this is the kind of thing that God may be referring to when He talks about Daniel’s “allotted portion.”  Not just his entrance but his reward and his authority when he enters the kingdom.

Jesus, in Matthew 19:28 says this: “[And Jesus said to them,] “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”  There are those who have believed in Me and are going to be granted entrance on the basis of grace but then there are those that have actually followed Me.  There are those that have been My disciples.  There are those that have been with me through thick and thin and God keeps a record of that and mentions it as part of their authority in the millennial kingdom.

Don’t think that God doesn’t see what is happening to us.  You may be in some remote obscure place and you believe that’s where God has called you, whether it’s a job, a vocation, a relationship, a family situation, I don’t know what it is, it’s different for many, many different people.  And you may feel as if you’re serving the Lord and you’re being faithful to the Lord and yet He doesn’t seem to notice.  He doesn’t seem to care.  He doesn’t seem concerned.  I can assure you based on biblical authority that God knows exactly what’s going on.  And not only will you be granted entrance into heaven on the basis of grace but  you will be rewarded beyond what you could have wildly imagined in the next life.  This is the nature of God.

1 Peter 1:3-4 says this, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  [4] to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.  [5] who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”  You’re already on a fast track to glory; in fact, your glory is so secure, because it’s based on grace, that it’s considered from God’s perspective as a done deal.  Nothing can diminish it!  Nothing can take it away!  And isn’t it a wonderful thing to live your life with that expectation.  And you say to yourself, since all of these promises have been given to me what else can I do but offer my body unto God as a consecrated instrument for His purposes.

Isn’t it, as Paul says in Romans 12:1-2, isn’t that the reasonable thing to do.  [Romans 12:1-2, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. [2] And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”]

We don’t serve the Lord because we’re trying to stack up a bunch of good works, maybe I’ll make it, maybe I won’t.  We serve the Lord because we just can’t believe what He’s done for us. We can’t believe that the grace that has been lavished upon us as the Book of John, at the beginning, says, “Grace upon grace.”  [John 1:16, “For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.”]

And  you just say Lord, I don’t know what to do.  And the Lord says well, here’s what you can do: you don’t need to pay Me back, you can’t pay Me back.  You don’t need to earn your salvation, you can’t earn it, but here’s what you can do:  you can offer your body to Me as a living sacrifice and let Me execute My will in your life and let Me use you for eternal purposes, and let Me give you the privilege, as you look back on your life as a life well spent.  Daniel, you’re going to rise, you’re going to receive your allotted portion.  Not only will you enter on the basis of grace but you will be fully rewarded.

And when are all of these things going to occur?  Well, the final words in the verse are “at the end of the age.”  [Daniel 12:13, “But as for you, go your way to the end; then you will enter into rest and rise again for your allotted portion at the end of the age.”]    What “end of the age” is he talking about.  He is talking about what Daniel has faithfully recorded, how the nation of Israel beginning in the time of Daniel will continue to go through great adversity.  And they will continue to go through that great adversity in the empire of Babylon, in the empire of Persia, and then into the empire of Greece, sweeping through the intertestamental period.  They will continue to go through great adversity during the time of the antichrist, during the time of the tribulation period. All of these things have been faithfully recorded by Daniel as they have been revealed to Daniel but there’s coming an end of the whole matter where that stone cut without hands, the kingdom of God will shatter the empire of the antichrist and that kingdom will grow and grow until it fills the whole earth.

If there’s one thing I know about God I know this much: He’s a promise keeper!  In fact, God is the only promise keeper who is 100% faithful to what He says, that I can think of.  Remember the movement Promise Keepers, where all these people, all these men were trying to make their promises to God.  That’s not the point of the Bible; I’m not trying to denigrate the people involved in that ministry, I know many, many people were touched by that ministry, but the point of the Bible is not what we do for God, it’s what God has done for us.  The point of the Bible is not how we reach up to God and somehow pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps.

The story of the Bible is what God has done for man and you just come to a realization of it and  you begin to serve the Lord with such a pure motive because you’re not trying to work for your salvation, pay God back, but you’re serving Him out of worship and out of gratitude and if you’re coming to that realization as we’ve been studying the Book of Daniel you’ll watch your life take off in God.  You’ll watch your life take corners and routes that you never thought possible.  You’ll watch God use your life as an instrument for eternal purposes.  Can  you think of a better deal than that?  Not only being saved by grace but having our lives strategically used by God because we’re serving Him, not out of fear that He’s going to rip the carpet out from under  us. Not out of fear that somehow maybe I haven’t done enough good to outweigh the bad but out of a response of grace, a reasonable response.

And that’s what Daniel’s life was about; he would enter that kingdom into that reward at the end of the age when that stone cut without human hands would shatter the empire of the antichrist.  Daniel, all the way back in chapter 2 wrote these words: “And the days of those kings” that would be the kings of the antichrist, “the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed,

and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever.”

Through all of Israel’s hardness, all of Israel’s rejection of God, all of Israel’s stubbornness that we read about in the pages of God’s Word, all of Israel’s trials, some way, somehow that tiny nation is going to make it to  the very end, in faith.  God is actually going to use these trials to awaken Israel to her need for Christ.  They’ll make it all the way to the end and some way, somehow, through that tiny nation God is going to bring His worldwide kingdom to the earth.  Talk about a work of grace, what exactly is grace?  It’s unmerited favor.  You want a study of what grace is like?  Look at God’s dealings with the nation of Israel.  A nation that was sending their own children into a fire prior to the Babylonian deportation, to satisfy a god named Molech, a nation that rejected their own King in the first advent of Christ and yet a nation that’s a promised nation, a covenanted nation.

Somehow God is not going to forget the promises He has made to that nation and He will fulfill them.  It obviously is not a work of man.  Look at Israel’s track record; look at her performance.  It’s a work of grace.

And one of the things that we have seen in our own lifetime, beginning 1948, May 14th,  70 years as tomorrow is the miraculous regathering of the nation of Israel. Sociologists tell us it’s a sociological miracle that this has happened, when a people group is displaced from their homeland and they were displaced about two thousand years ago, thanks to the Romans, in A.D. 70, the sociologists all tell us that when a nation is removed from their homeland and they move into worldwide dispersion, as Israel has done, they just sort of assimilate into the surrounding culture.  They lose their cultural ethnicity, they lose their language, they lose their cultural identity.

I mean, look at all of the groups that are mentioned in the Bible that we don’t even have any record of any more.  Look at the Amalekites, the Girgashites, the Jebusites, I like to joke, the out-of-sights, the mosquito bites, the termites, the electric lights, all the “ites.”  I mean, what happened to them?  Well what happened to them is what happens to many people groups. You’re outside of your land for a few generations and you assimilate into the host culture and you lose your cultural identity.  Don’t you think it’s a little odd, more than odd, may I say miraculous that the nation of Israel has been pushed out of their land for two thousand  years and they go right back into the same land with the same religion and the same language intact.  How could that happen?  It never happened for the Amalekites and the Girgashites and the termites and all the other “ites.”  Because God is a promise keeper.  See that?  The regathering of the Jews into their homeland beginning May 14:1948, what we call the modern State of Israel, and we’re celebrating tomorrow her seventieth birthday in that land, is miraculous!

You say I wish God would perform miracles today?  You kidding me?  When you look at the Middle East and you see the Jerusalem Post written in Hebrew, you see a functioning Sanhedrin, a functioning  Knesset, the fact that Latin is a dead language and Hebrew is a live language, you look at the movement of the Jews to rebuild their temple and offer animal sacrifices there.  You look at the President of the United States moving our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.  You’re looking at miracles all over.

I understand that they’re not in faith.  I get that.  But here’s the reality of the situation.  Was there ever a point in your life when you weren’t in faith?  I mean, didn’t God extend grace to you?  Why can’t He do that for His elect nation and His chosen nation.  And you see, I think a lot of our prophecy teachers have gotten a little bit misguided in what they’re emphasizing concerning the modern state of Israel.  Most of the teaching that you get on this, and it’s teaching that I do myself and I support it, the teaching goes something like this:  The end times are kicking into high gear, the second coming is right around the corner, the rapture can’t be far away.  I believe that, I will teach that until there’s no more breath in my lungs.

But you see, that’s just part of the equation.  The idea that God is getting ready to wrap up the ages is just a portion of what the regathering of the Jews into their homeland communicates.  The lesson that hardly ever gets taught through this sociological miracle is the faithfulness of God.  How could God, to a nation that rejected His own Son, how could God keep His promises to them?  How could a God that looked at a nation taking their own children and putting them into a fire to satisfy a god named Molech, how could God have any mercy or grace or faithfulness to these people?  And the answer God is the only promise keeper.  God made a promise.

And you say well, how does that relate to my life?   I want some application.  Well, here’s the application… you ready?  If this is God’s nature and He’s going to keep His promises to Israel why would we have the slightest doubt that He’s not also going to keep His promises to who?  To us!  You don’t have to go through your life fearful, is God going to renege on the deal; the regathering of the Jews in unbelief, which is a sociological miracle, is evidence of the faithfulness of God.  I do not understand these Christian denominations that are upset about this.  I do not understand name line denominations engaged in economic boycotts against the nation of Israel. I do not understand this movement that’s taking place all over our college campuses called BDS, Boycott, Divest and Sanctions.  It’s a mindset that is so far removed from the way I think.  I don’t look at the nation of Israel in anger or frustration; I see in it absolute joy because it’s a testimony, is it not, to the grace of God, the character of God.  If God can keep His promises to an imperfect nation who else is He going to keep His promises to?  He’s going to keep His promises to me; He’s going to keep His promises to you because that’s God’s nature.

2 Timothy 2:13 sums this up so well; “If we are faithless, He remains” what? “faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.”  If God were to renege on Israel’s deal because of their unfaithfulness He would deny Himself because He is the one that made the initial promises to them in the Abrahamic Covenant.  Do you see that?  And if God was to somehow take  your promises, which are so glorious, your inheritance, the fact that you are in a double grip of grace, you’re not only in Christ’s hands, John 10,  you’re in the Father’s hands.  That’s a double grip of grace and nothing can take you out.  I mean, if God can be faithful to this nation I can trust Him on John 10, can’t I?  Or any other promise that He has made to me?

And it’s possible people could be here today and have never entered into a relationship with this God who has revealed Himself in this way.  The only thing I can say to you is quote the words of Harry Ironside, a great preacher from a prior era.  He said this: “The gospel is not good advice to be obeyed; the gospel is good news to be believed!”  We’re not here offering another self-help class, another way to make the flesh try harder to improve itself.  I mean, you can get all of that anywhere you want it, that’s not what this church is, that’s not God’s calling on the church.  It’s to announce the glorious grace of God which is not good advice to be obeyed, it’s good news to be believed.   And as you trust in the simple promise of Christ concerning what He’s done for us, many of the verses we’ve already quoted concerning His death, concerning His burial, concerning His bodily resurrection, concerning the fact that He said “It is finished!”   If you trust in that and that alone that’s what makes you a Christian.  And that executes the marvelous glory into your future where God makes you subsequent promises on trusting Him for salvation which cannot be eradicated nor erased.

That’s why our exhortation to you here at Sugar Land Bible Church is to trust in this gospel which is not good advice to be obeyed, it’s good news to be believed. And consequently that takes us, believe it or not, to the bitter end, the very end of the Book of Daniel.   You all remember what the Book of Daniel is about?  We covered this about 61 lessons ago.  It’s about the times of the Gentiles, how those are revealed prophetically and how Israel is to live for God in the midst of unfavorable circumstances.  The purpose of the book you might remember is to encourage Judah by emphasizing the sovereignty of God during the Babylonian captivity and to teach Judah how to live while outside their land.   Would you say that Daniel has accomplished his purpose?  Remember the topics I said you get exposed to: prophecy, eschatology, confidence that the Bible is God’s Word, knowledge of the intertestamental period, angelology, the doctrine of angels, spiritual warfare, living for God in a pagan society, God’s sovereignty over empires.  Would you say those subjects have been adequately covered?

So what are you ready for now?  Ready for your final exam… you guys are laughing.  I’m holding in my hand a one page paper, make sure your name is on it please, there are two sides, front and back, you’ll find it on the name tag table on the way out.  This is the test that I give as the midterm when I was teaching over at the College of Biblical Studies.  It’s not a hard test, there’s two matching sections, matching a concept with an idea and you turn it over and  you’re matching a concept with a chapter in the Book of Daniel.  So I don’t think it’s a terribly difficult test, it’s just sort of to kind of jog your memory a little bit so that you can think back on the Book of Daniel.  It’s just a tool.  And if you score under 75% then your membership at this church will be revoked… [Laughter]  NO, I’m just joking. It’s just a fun thing for you to do.  And you say well, when do we get the answers?  I can’t preach a sermon series on the answers but I can do a little dirty trick to you.  You ready for this:  To get the answers  you’ve got to come to Sunday School because I’m going to be giving the answers to this test at the beginning of Sunday School, not next week, that’s our congregational meeting, but the week that follows. So take this and enjoy this and see how you do as you think back on the Book of Daniel.

And some of you have been asking well, what are you going to teach next?  And I usually say well it’s in the Bible whatever it is.  But I’ve been praying about it and I think it’s time for our congregation to try to tackle the Book of Revelation.  So we’re going to be moving through the Book of Revelation.  [clapping]  Daniel being the basement, the Book of Revelation sort of being the ceiling.  And some of you are saying my goodness, you’re never going to finish.  [Laughter]  I mean, you took three years in the Gospel of John, how long are you going to take to go through the Book of Revelation?

Well, let me offer you a word of comfort.  The Book of Revelation has less than half the number   of verses in it that are found in John.  You can’t just look at 22 chapters, you’ve got to look at the verses and there’s only 404 verses, 278 are illusions to the Old Testament so I think we can get through the Book of Revelation a lot faster than we got through the Book of John.  I’m actually, and you may laugh at this, going to try to make an effort to pick up the pace a little bit (if that’s possible).  So beginning next Sunday we’ll be introducing the Book of Revelation to you and moving through that.

Shall we pray.  Father, we’re grateful for  Your Word, grateful for Your truth, grateful for the things that You have taught us in the Book of Daniel.  Thank You for this majestic prophetic material.  Help these things to become real to our lives as we walk with You 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!