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Those Who Are Wise

Date: Nov. 12, 2017

Author: Michael Mark

Daniel 11:36:12-13

Key Verse: Daniel 12:3

“Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.”

Welcome to the last chapter of Daniel.  I hope during these past 12 weeks you found the book interesting, amazing and encouraging.  The theme for this series was “Living in the Upside Down.”  As we look around us, sometimes we might ask, “What is wrong with this world?”  North Korea says President Trump is begging for war.  Dark secrets of celebrities are being broadcast all over the country.  Last Sunday a shooter walked into a church in a small town in Texas and opened fire.  Daniel lived in an equally upside down time.  His friends were thrown into a blazing furnace for not bowing to a golden image.  Daniel was thrown into a den of lions for praying to God.  The king of Babylon turned into a cow.  We have also learned about some strange dreams of beasts devouring one another, and last week through Dan’s message we all got insight into a vision of a great war between two kings.  That is where this chapter picks up.  We will see the epilogue of this great war.

The reason we are all living in this world that is upside down is because we are living in a world that is at war with God.  All the kingdoms of this world, all the kingdoms of men, are waging a war with God.  This is sin.  Throughout our study of Daniel, we have seen the sovereignty of God, the power of God, and the righteousness of God.  Through Daniel’s prayer we learned that we are the ones who have sinned, done wrong, and turned away from God.  When the whole world has done this, you begin to see human pride, rebellion and selfishness become the law of the land.  The world is flipped, turned upside down.  Wrong becomes right and evil is seen as good.  The world is plunged into darkness, but God did not abandon us.  God did not stand idly by.  Through the book of Daniel God has proven to us that he has not left us, he knows everything the enemy has done and will do, and he will carry out his will to put an end to sin and bring in everlasting righteousness.  Even though much of the language is symbolic, God has unfolded his plan through the visions we have studied.  Therefore we need wisdom to understand what God is doing, and we need wisdom to live righteously in this upside world.  The wicked will remain in darkness, but those who are wise will seek the light.  Again why is the language sometimes so cryptic?  It’s so that God can hide his plans from the wicked, but give insight and understanding to the wise.

Last week Dan shed some light on one of the most intricate and detailed prophecies in the Bible.  We saw step by step the war between the king of the North and the king of the South, seeing how the details of the prophecy was accurately fulfilled by the Greek kings of the Northern Seleucid dynasty fought against the Greek kings of the Southern Ptolemaic dynasty.  The vision culminated in the arrival of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, a Seleucid ruler.  His role is significant because he was the one who would who send his forces into Jerusalem, desecrate the temple fortress, and set up the abomination that causes desolation.  This was fulfilled in 167 BC as Antiochus built an altar to Zeus in the Temple and sacrificed a pig on it.  With flattery he corrupted some of the people in Jerusalem to abandon their faith and turn to the Greek way of life, and he brutally murdered and persecuted the Jews.  The passage concludes from v. 33 “Those who are wise will instruct many, though for a time they will fall by the sword or be burned or captured or plundered.”  Those who were wise were those who knew their God and firmly resisted Antiochus.  They were wise because they knew God, and they instructed many despite persecution.

Verse 35 says, “Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time.”  As Dan mentioned last week, this stumbling refers to their persecution, not their sin.  It is through persecution that they are refined, purified and made spotless, because that purification reveals their faith.  Now did you notice the rest of the verse?  How long will this go on?  Until the time of the end.  This is maybe something you’re interested in: this is the end times – the last days, the end of the world, and mark Daniel’s words: it will still come at the appointed time.  This here now is a transition into today’s passage, where we will learn a little about the end times, here in the end of the book of Daniel.

Look at v.36, “The king will do as he pleases.  He will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will say unheard things against the God of gods.  He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed, for what has been determined must take place.”  This verse might seem like a continuation of Antiochus or his successor, but this now actually refers to the Antichrist.  It is true, Antiochus is a type, or he is a shadow of the Antichrist, but he is not the Antichrist.  The Antichrist will have many of the same characteristics as Antiochus: he will be a master of deception, he will blaspheme God and persecute God’s people, and he will also set up an abomination.  But this is why the king in v.36 is not Antiochus – because he will magnify himself above every god.  Antiochus worshipped Zeus, but the Antichrist will exalt himself above every god and direct worship to himself.  Another reason is that we see that this king had control over Egypt, Libia and Cush, while Antiochus himself had to withdraw from Egypt.

You’ve heard the word antichrist a lot, but what exactly is an antichrist?  1 John 2:22 says, “Who is the liar?  It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ.  Such a person is the antichrist – denying the Father and the Son.”  Basically anyone who denies Jesus is the Christ is an antichrist.  But there will come one Antichrist who will be the ultimate enemy of God.  In the book of Revelation he is the Beast out of the Sea and Land, the false prophet who wages war against God (Rev 13,16,19,20).  We read in 2 Thes 2:3-4 “Don’t let anyone deceive you [and say that the Lord has already come] in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.  He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.”  The Antichrist is the man of lawlessness, and Jesus will not come until the Antichrist is revealed.  Notice, the Antichrist proclaims himself to be God, almost like a counterfeit return of Christ.  He may deceive with miraculous powers, but here is how you can tell: he will deny Jesus is the Christ, he will love money and war, and he will persecute Christians.

This Antichrist will not be obscure, as it says in v.40, he will invade many countries and sweep through them like a flood.  Rev 13:7-8 says he will be given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation, and all inhabitants on earth will worship him.  Don’t worry about missing the Antichrist or believe it when someone tells you the Antichrist is some obscure person.  The whole world will know the Antichrist.  Verse 45 says, “He will pitch his royal tents between the seas at the beautiful holy mountain.  Yet he will come to his end, and no one will help him.”  I cannot say if a temple will be rebuilt in Jerusalem, but here the Antichrist will build his royal tents in or near Jerusalem.  The beautiful holy mountain most likely refers to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.  As wicked and powerful as the Antichrist is, look at what will happen to him: he will come to his end, and no one will help him.  The Antichrist will be defeated!  If this Antichrist is the same in Rev 19 and in 2 Thes 2, then the Lord Jesus is the one who will overthrow him by the breath of his mouth (2 Thes 2:8), and he will be thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfer (Rev 19:20).  No one will help the Antichrist, indeed, no one can help him!  He will be overthrown simply by the breath of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Now that the Antichrist has been destroyed, let’s see what happens next.  Look at chapter 12:1, “At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise.  There will be a time of distress such as not happened from the beginning of nations until then.  But at that time your people – everyone whose name is found in written in the book – will be delivered.”  These times could refer to the rule of the Antichrist.  During his reign, Michael will arise.  Michael is one of the most powerful archangels, and he is mentioned in Jude 9.  Here he is described as the guardian angel who protects Israel.  Perhaps it is also during this time that we may see the Jews as a nation repent and turn to Christ. 

During the reign of the Antichrist, it will be a time of distress unparalleled in all of history, but here is the good news in the midst of that – everyone whose name is found written in the book will be delivered.  How will they be delivered?  Verse 2 explains: “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.”  This is clearly in the end times, and this clearly confirms the truth of the resurrection.  Some people might think death is the end, and they exist no more.  Everyone will rise from the dead, but not everyone will rise to everlasting life.  Only those whose names are written in the book of life will be saved.  Only they will be able to enter in to the eternal kingdom (Rev 21:27), while those whose names are not in the book of life will be thrown into the lake of fire (Rev 20:15). 

How can you be saved?  How can you get your name written into the book of life?  Just as only Jesus can defeat the Antichrist, only Jesus can save you, and only Jesus can write you into the book of life.  In the book of Revelation he tells the church in Sardis to repent and continue the good deeds they started, saying, “The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white.  I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels (Rev 3:5).”  It is our sin that condemns us to the lake of fire.  It is our rebellion before the Eternal King that makes us ashamed and in contempt.  But Jesus not only defeated the Antichrist with his breath, he also cleansed our sins by his death.  Praise be to God, what a mighty King!  This is the only way that we can be spared from judgment – through repentance from our sins and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  When our sins are taken away, so is our guilt.  When our sins are forgiven, who can condemn us?  Jesus delivers us from the judgment of God at the resurrection through his death on the cross.  Hebrews 9:27 ties it together nicely: “Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”

So who are the wise?  Those who put their faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Though this life may offer riches and comfort, it is in open rebellion towards God, and in the end brings condemnation.  But if a person trusts in Christ, and is persecuted by the world because of it, the end will bring eternal life.  This is wisdom.  As we saw earlier in v.35, “Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end.”  The persecution of the wise will refine their faith, and strengthen it.  Those who lack faith will be weeded out, but those who persevere will be strengthened.  Their faith in Christ will purify them, and made spotless.  Now let’s look at the glorious destiny of the wise, in v.3, can we all please read v.3, “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.”  What a wonderful and amazing promise!!  The wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens.  Even after the darkness of this world has passed, you can still see the brightness of those who are wise.  I joked before that we might need sunglasses to see each other, but since we will have perfect vision sunglasses will only be for fashion.  And those who lead many to righteousness – because the wise know the way to righteousness, and the wise instruct others in righteousness – they will shine like the stars for ever and ever.  I have seen pictures of how giant the sun is during the solar eclipse this year.  There are billions of other stars in the universe even more brilliant and magnificent than our own sun, yet even their shine will run out.  But the wise – their shine will be like the stars, but for ever and ever.  The Lord loves and rewards those who lead others to righteousness, to Jesus Christ himself.  Let this be an encouragement to us to tell others about Jesus and what he has done.

The angel concludes the revelation to Daniel in v.4, “But you, Daniel, roll up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end.  Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.”  The angel is telling Daniel now to secure these words until the end times – so there will be a point in time in the future when what Daniel has written will be read and studied again.  These words were not meant for the Jews who were in exile, but they were meant for us, those of us living in these end times.  The increase of knowledge refers to someone who searches the Word of God back and forth.  This is also a mark of someone who is wise – they study the Scriptures diligently.  It is the Holy Scriptures which are able to make us wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Tim 3:15).

After the angel finishes speaking, Daniel looks around and sees 2 more angels, one on each bank of the Tigris river, where the angel first met him for this revelation.  Daniel seemed speechless, perhaps he was afraid to talk.  So one of the angels called out to the man clothed in linen, “How long will it be before these astonishing things are fulfilled?”  The angel asking may have been curious, but he also made sure Daniel could hear, in order to help Daniel out also.  The man clothed in linen might be the angel who gave Daniel the revelation, and he was above the waters of the river.  Either this angel was standing on the water, or levitating above it.  The one in linen then lifted both hands toward heaven, and swore by him who lives forever, “It will be for a time, times and half a time.  When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed.”  Usually an oath is made with one hand.  You’ve probably also seen on TV, in the courtroom, one hand is put on the Bible and one hand is raised.  Here the angel raises both hands and swears by God, adding additional weight to this oath. 

He says these things will happen, and it will be a time, times and half a time.  We have heard these words before, in Ch. 8 describing the fourth beast; this may or may not refer to the same thing.  We see three distinct time periods, a time, times and half a time, but we are not sure what they mean yet.  But the angel also says, “when the power of the holy people has been finally broken.”  Perhaps this refers to the completion of the persecution, when it seems like the enemy has gotten the victory, and the holy people can no longer do anything – that’s when God will arise and save his people.  This will also make it very clear that we are not saved by our own strength, but by God’s.

Look at v.8, this was Daniel’s last question, “I heard, but I did not understand.  So I asked, ‘My lord, what will the outcome of all this be?’”  Hopefully this gives us some comfort; don’t feel bad that you don’t understand, Daniel didn’t either, and Daniel was probably at this time the wisest person on earth.  If Daniel didn’t get it, who are we?  At first, Daniel might have been afraid to ask the angel anything, but by the example of the other angel, he was emboldened and encouraged to ask.  Likewise, we can pray to God to ask him for wisdom.  Daniel was asking, specifically, what will happen?  Like we might ask, “Who is the Antichrist?  What does a time, times and half a time refer to?  How long are they really?  Any more details you could give?”

The angel replies in v.9, “Go your way, Daniel, because the words are rolled up and sealed until the time of the end.”  This is an interesting reply.  It did not answer Daniel’s question.  Instead he instructed Daniel, in a gentle way, no more questions, go your way, what you have been told is all there is for now.  The meaning of these things will not be revealed to you, but be content that the revelation was given.  Some things God chooses to explain later, to a different generation, but he tells the vision to show that he is in control, he has a plan, he knows all from the beginning to the end, and will show us parts of his plan according to his pleasure.  1 Peter 1:12 speaks about how the prophets searched intently to find out about Christ, his glories and his sufferings, but “It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you…Even angels long to look into these things.”  No one, not even angels know the mind of God, but we should be thankful and content with whatever the Lord reveals to us.  Some people try to go beyond what God has said.  God clearly says the time and dates of Jesus’ second coming nobody knows, but there are still people trying to predict the date Jesus comes again or the end of the world.  Some people wonder if the mark of the beast is some chip implanted in you, or a barcode tattooed on to you, but the Antichrist isn’t even here yet.  While we should search the Scriptures and grow in knowledge, we should never let anything get in the way of a rock solid confidence, faith and trust in the Lord.  Let us be careful not to undermine our faith or others by arguing over disputable matters.  There are certainly indisputable matters, but be cautious to avoid quarreling over disputable ones.

The angel continues, “Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked.  None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand.”  He basically repeated verse Dan 11:35.  During this time, many will be purified, both through faith in Jesus Christ, and also through trials.  He adds, “the wicked will continue to be wicked.”  This is the story of the world, and why it is perpetually in the upside down.  They have no understanding, because they have rebelled against God, and do not understand that God is the way to righteousness through Jesus Christ.  The wise, however, will continue to grow in understanding and knowledge as the Lord gives.

More details are added, but they seem just as confusing, in v.11-12, “From the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination that causes desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days.  Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of the 1,335 days.”  All I can say is, perhaps the countdown begins after both of these conditions are met.  The daily sacrifice seems to be abolished with Christ on the cross, but the abomination that causes desolation might refer to the Antichrist.  Jesus says in Matt 24:15, “So when you see standing in the holy place the abomination that causes desolation, spoken of through the prophet Daniel – let the reader understand – then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.”  One interpretation of this verse is that it refers to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.  Another interpretation could mean when the Antichrist comes in the future and sets this up, you can count down 1,290 days (43 months) of his tyrannical rule.  And maybe after 1,335 days (44.5 months), Jesus will come and deliver his people.  Maybe these days are what “time, times and half a time” meant, and it’s just another way the angel said it.  In any case, this should not affect our faith in Christ and perhaps one day God will make these things indisputably clear that we all can agree on.  For now, we can be content that God has given us some information, and is actively working out his will in this world.

The angel concludes in v.13: “As for you, go your way till the end.  You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance.”  The angel told Daniel to go back, and continue to serve God as an administrator, a retired administrator, a prophet, an intercessor, a husband, father, (if he had a wife and children), or a friend.  He should serve the Lord wholeheartedly until the day he dies.  Then he will rest.  This is also our reward for our labors in the Lord.  We serve him all the days of our lives, and then we can rest, and we will be resting until the day he comes again, and when he does, we shall rise, and receive our allotted inheritance in the eternal kingdom of God.

The kingdoms of this world are upside down, all of them, because they are in rebellion and at war with God.  Rom 1:21 says “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”  We have seen today that one day the entire world will conspire together to fight one great battle against God, led by the Antichrist.  It will be a time of great distress, worse than we know today.  Nonetheless, God’s light still comes into the world.  He destroys his enemies with his breath, and he saves his saints by his death.  God is sovereign.  His kingdom is righteous, pure and holy, and it is eternal, and as we have seen many times through this book of Daniel, it will conquer all of the kingdoms of the world, and the kingdoms of the world will become the kingdom of the eternal king, our Lord Jesus Christ.  

We need wisdom to live in the upside down.  We can ask the Lord for wisdom.  Prov 9:10 says “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”  The wise know the way to righteousness, and instruct others in it.  Paul has written, “Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God…It is because of [God] that we are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God – that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption (1 Cor 1:23,24,30).”  Christ crucified is our righteousness.  Christ crucified is our holiness.  Christ crucified is our redemption.  Christ Jesus is the wisdom from God.  Persevere in faith, even in trials to the end – and just as the angel swore on oath to God, after the end times when Christ comes again, you will rise out of the dust to everlasting life.  Rejoice!  For your names are written in the book of heaven (Luke 10:20) Rejoice!  For you will shine like the brightness of the heavens and like the stars for ever and ever, as you enter into that new and glorious right side up kingdom of God under the eternal living king Jesus Christ.

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