Be Brave: When Time is Running Out

Dr. Jon Morrissette - 11/24/2019

Last week we provided a number, (217) 441-2498, for anyone to text questions about our study on Daniel. One person asked (and I’m rephrasing), “There are many places in the Bible that people take promises for themselves for encouragement and comfort. Is it wrong to apply these verses to ourselves? Should we only look for Scriptures that apply to people in general?” Another person asked, “If Jeremiah 29:11 isn’t about us, then why do we say that God has a plan for our lives.”

These are great questions, and basically the same. It’s very fashionable to skim the Bible for tasty sound bites. Jeremiah 29:11 is a great example. In Jeremiah 29:11 God says, “For I know the plans I have for you… plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” My point was not to question whether God has a plan, a future, or a hope for our lives. He certainly does! My point was that we need to read this verse in its original context to discover what God’s plan, future and hope for us might be! Verses like Jeremiah 29:11 aren’t a Divine rubber stamp, a Carte blanche, a blank page, a blank canvas, a blank screen unto which were project our personal plans… college plans… family plans… financial goals… business plans… retirement plans (etc.).

Case in point. In Jeremiah 29 God is announcing his plan to gather Israel, restore the city of Jerusalem, and rebuild the Temple. And it’s a 70-year plan, that unfolded over the lifetime, for those exiled to Babylon (men like Daniel, Ezekiel, Ezra)!

Jeremiah 29:11 is awesome, but God has an even greater plan for us than anything we read ion Jeremiah 29. (1) God isn’t just gathering Israel back to Himself, he is reconciling all the world to himself in Christ (Jew and Gentile). (2) God is no longer dwelling in some temple in Jerusalem, we’ve become the temples of the Holy Spirit by faith. God dwells within us, he reflects his glory through us! (3) God isn’t going to give believers an old Jerusalem, he is preparing for us a New Jerusalem, a New City, a New Dwelling in which Christ himself is the light, a New heaven, a New Earth, a New Home.

If we apply Jeremiah 29 to our personal hopes and dreams, we risk disillusionment, and worse, self-deception. If we say, “I have plans to buy a new car Jeremiah 29:11!” But then when that doesn’t happen where does that leave you? Of if that does happen where does it leave others? Why you and not me?

Several people asked about prayer/Daniel 10. “If God is all-powerful, why did it take three weeks for him to answer Daniel’s prayer.” God is indeed all powerful. His purpose/plan wasn’t thwarted by the Satanic Princes. There wasn’t any delay in God “answering” Daniel’s prayer. There was a delay in Daniel “hearing” the answer. Spiritual warfare was occurring, inhibiting an angel from coming/speaking to Daniel. Daniel 10 isn’t an invitation to speculate on what spiritual powers or warfare might be taking place when we pray. It’s an invitation to keep on praying, keep waiting, keep trusting God’s promise. We shouldn’t just judge things from an earthly viewpoint.

This morning we conclude our series by looking at Daniel’s final vision in Daniel 11-12. Actually, Daniel 10-12 should be taken as a whole. Our topic is “Being Brave when Time is Running Out.” Historically, Daniel 11:2 introduces us to the rise of Persia. Daniel 11:3 introduces us to the subsequent rise of Greece (under Alexander the Great). Daniel 11:4 tells us that Alexander’s Kingdom would be divided into four lesser kingdoms. (1) The area of Macedonian/Greece was ruled by Antipater. (2) Thrace/Asia Minor was ruled by Lysimachus. [This is where you really need to pay attention] (3) The rest of Asia (except lower Syria/Palestine) became ruled by Seleucus Nicator. Say What? Everyone say “Seleucus.” (4) The rest of Palestine and Egypt was ruled by Ptolemy.

Daniel 11:5-35 describes the aggression that occur between the North and the South, between a “King of the North” and a “King of the South.” Guess who the King of the South was? It was Ptolemy. Guess who the King of the North was? Seleucus. The Dynasties of the Ptolemies and Seleucids fought war after war against one another. If you are an extreme history buff, I’m going to make this simple. Sit down with a nice Bible Dictionary and Daniel 11 and be amazed. In Daniel 11 God shows Daniel a vision of how king after king would rise up against one another. Who would do what, and how?

For centuries, men of faith have looked at Daniel 11 and sat in awe, amazed. You hear about guys like Nostradamus, the French physician and astrologist, who prophesied about the future. His prophesies were uncharacteristically vague. But all of Daniel’s visions have been supernaturally precise. I have never been much a historian—if I were to even try to walk you through the history of warfare between the Ptolemies and Seleucids and how it matches up to Daniel 11 you’d be heading for the exits.

Liberal theologians have a different view of Daniel 11. They say, “No way this is divinely inspired.” They’d say Daniel would have had to have been written centuries later than what Daniel claims. All this history would have to transpire before any of this stuff was written. This is why we have Bible dictionaries, Bible seminaries, Biblical Scholars and Historians, LOGOS Bible software. If you want to dig into this, hit me up.

The most important thing to realize about Daniel 11 is that Israel is caught in the crossfire, sandwiched in between, these two Kingdoms. In Daniel 11:21-45 we have yet again, a vision about Antiochus Epiphanes. He was the most notorious of all the Seleucid kings. He was so evil, in the New Testament he becomes a metaphor for the Apostle John’s Antichrist, the Apostle Paul’s man of Lawlessness, and Jesus’ Abomination that causes Desolation. Daniel 11 matters because if you can understand the dynamics of these warring kings/kingdoms (especially Antiochus Epiphanies) you’ll know everything to be prepared for, in the Last Days before Christ returns.



Let’s talk for a moment about Evil Rulers/Powers/Authorities. We learned in Daniel 10 that Babylon, Persia, Greece are all ruled by Satan authorities (Princes). As Paul says in Ephesians 6:12, our battle is not just against flesh/blood but “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens.” Of course, we see, and are greatly impacted, by the physical manifestation of these evil kingdoms.

Evil Rulers/ Powers/ Authorities are known by their material wealth. Some are known for their gold, silver. Some by bronze, iron, clay. Some by the largess of their armies, their chariots/horses/weaponry/fortresses, by their military triumphs. No matter how great/powerful a King may be. No matter how strategic, ruthless, violent, shrewd, immoral, godless—each and every one is stumbles, falls to the grown, and is shattered.

You should also know that every evil ruler/ power/ authority demands absolute allegiance. Your decision about who to marry was an act of allegiance. Your decision whether to eat the King’s rich food, drink the King’s fine wine, or be entertained as one of his guests… was all an act of allegiance. But these kings are evil. In the beginning they promise peace/prosperity, they lavish their loyalists with gold/silver/plunder, they insincerely flatter and pine for support. But in the end, they collect taxes, steal wealth, seize power, break their covenants, throw truth to the ground, set themselves against the holy/sacred things of God. In the end they cause great desolation! Not only are they defeated but everyone following in their train are also slain.

Here is the reality of Daniel 11. As God’s people, we will always find ourselves sandwiched between opposing political realities. North and South, Red and Blue, Ptolemies and Seleucids. It’s always problematic for God’s people to embrace unholy alliances with godless rulers. In Daniel 11 for wherever there was a short-term benefit to be gained, there was a long-term cost to be paid.

There are people who hate it when preachers talk about politics. The problem is that you can’t preach the Bible without it having political implications. For every ten reasons I could give you for why Christians ought to be for a certain party, I can give you ten reasons against. I won’t, but I could. In the short-term it might seem advantageous for the people of God to align with godless rulers/powers/authorities… but in the long-term is never works out great. A lot (not all) of the hostilities we see in Daniel 11 against God’s people come because God’s people picked sides.

When we consider Daniel’s story, here is a man who served king after king, in administration after administration. If there is one verse in Daniel that sums up his professional life I think it might be Daniel 11:33-35, “Those who are wise among the people will give understanding to many, yet they will die by sword and flame, and be captured and plundered for a time. When defeated, they will be helped by some, but many others will join them insincerely. Some of the wise will fail so that they may be refined, purified, and cleansed until the time of the end. . .”

Though it may be quite costly, Daniel was thrown to lions, his companions were thrown into the fiery flames… I believe our best place to stand as Christians is to give understanding to many. It’s to speak truth to the North/South, the Reds and Blues, the Ptolemies and Seleucids. We must be discerning of those who would invite the people of God into any kind of alliance. God’s Kingdom is not of this world.

If you were a Jewish person reading Daniel 10, Daniel 11 you would be most excited to realize that the Archangel Michael stands watch over Israel. When the angel in Daniel 10 was resisted by the Satanic Princes of Persia, etc. it was Michael who came to his aid. Neither the Devil nor his Angels are more powerful than Michael.

Look at God’s word to Daniel starting Daniel 12:1-3, “A t that time Michael, the great prince who stands watch over your people, will rise up. There will be a time of distress such as never has occurred since nations came into being until that time. But at that time all your people who are found written in the book will escape. 2 Many who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake, some to eternal life, and some to disgrace and eternal contempt. 3 Those who have insight will shine like the bright expanse of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.”

When we give understanding, when we preach and teach, when we speak to power… there will be some like King Nebuchadnezzar who say, “Daniel, just give it to me straight, tell me what God says.” But there will be some like the party King Belshazzar, or Antiochus Epiphanes, or Nero who burn us at the stake. In Matthew 10:28 Jesus says, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

We can be brave to the very end knowing that Michael, the Archangel has out back, and even better, Jesus Christ Himself the King of Kings/ Lord of Lords has our back! And more than this, we can be brave knowing that if we are indeed among those who must die, we have resurrection hope. “Though we die, yet shall we live.”

May we never grow tired of hearing Romans 8:31-39. It’s not hard to imagine, it’s certainly not overly speculative, to think Paul had Daniel 11-12 in mind when he wrote Romans 8:31-39. “What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He did not even spare his own Son but offered him up for us all. How will he not also with him grant us everything? 33 Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies. 34 Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the one who died, but even more, has been raised; he also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us. 35 Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: “Because of you we are being put to death all day long; we are counted as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Out of the closing paragraphs In Daniel 12:4-12, let’s end this series with Daniel 12:9-10. Daniel asks when/how all this stuff will happen. The angel tells Daniel, “Go on your way, Daniel, for the words are secret and sealed until the time of the end. Many will be purified, cleansed and refined, but the wicked will act wickedly; none of the wicked will understand, but the wise will understand.”

Daniel, continue doing what you’ve doing all along. Preach. Teach. Speak. Prophesy. No one knows the exact day/time, only the Father. But know this. As you brave God’s mission in the world you will be purified, cleansed, refined. There are people who will truly listen and understand. Praise God. But there are people who will go from bad to worse. The wicked will act wickedly. You will try to give understanding, but the wicked will never understand. Their hearts are hard. Their ears are deaf. Their eyes are blind. Isn’t this the exact thing we observe today?

In Matthew 24:9-14 Jesus tells us exactly what to expect in these Last Days: “… they will hand you over to be persecuted, and they will kill you. You will be hated by all nations because of my name. Then many will fall away, betray one another, and hate one another. Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. Because lawlessness will multiply, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. This good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed in all the world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

Resolved. Like Daniel, we will be brave! Though persecuted. Though they may accuse, condemn, falsely charge, litigate, threaten, bully, … kill. Though betrayed. Though hated. Though lawlessness multiplies. Though love grows cold. Resolved, we will endure. We will look to the day of our salvation. We will keep preaching, and teaching, and giving understanding right up to the very end.

You know what’s crazy about Daniel. He may have been one of the only exiles who didn’t go back to Jerusalem. The crazy old man stayed in Babylon! He wasn’t really crazy though. He was divinely inspired. He saw God’s vision that one day every knee would bow, and tongue confess in heaven/earth would bow to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He saw things far ahead of his time—it enabled him to flourish for God’s glory… it enabled him to thrive… yes even in Babylon!

Scripture Verses

Daniel 11-12

Worship Set

Worship Playlist

Forever Reign
by Jason Ingram and Reuben Morgan
as recorded by Hillsong

You Make Me Brave
by Amanda Cook
as recorded by Bethel

Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)
by Edwin Othello Excell, Louie Giglio, John Newton, John P. Rees, and Chris Tomlin
as recorded by Chris Tomlin

Follow You Anywhere
by Brett Younker, Kristian Stanfill, Jason Ingram, and Phil Wickham
as recorded by Passion

Study Questions

Read Daniel 11-12

1. Skim chapter 11. What are some of the injustices committed by those in power? Make a list. What are the various kings attitudes toward God? What comes of these kings?

2. See 1 Peter 2:13-17. What might it have been like for Daniel to serve God through four different reigns of power (four different kings)? What does it "practically" look like to serve God from within an evil power structure?

3. Notice the many references to time throughout Daniel 11 and 12. What truths does God want us to understand about time? What should our attitude about time be?

4. Deeply read chapter 12. What does Daniel 12 teach us about the end of all things? What will transpire for God's enemies? What will transpire for God's people? How do these verses encourage or discourage you?

5. People have very different attitudes about time. What is an evil person's attitude about time (Read 1 Peter 4:1-6)? What is a believer's attitude about time (Read 1 Peter 4:7-11)?

6. Read 1 Peter 4:12-19. What does it look like to "practically" live these verses out today?

7. Read Daniel 12:13. Why is it important to live with the end in mind?

8. What single Bible verse in all of Daniel has most impacted you throughout this study? Why?



KIDS:

1. In the last two chapters of Daniel. Daniel is given a prophecy from God if what will happen in the future. Sometimes knowing something that is going to happen in the future can be scary. Read Daniel 12:13. What are the instructions given to Daniel? If you were scared about what will happen in the future, would this verse calm your nerves?

2. Read Joshua 1:9. How is Joshua commanded to be? What is God's promise to Joshua? Do you think this command and promise are true for us who follow Jesus as well?

CHALLENGE: The future can be exciting! Spend some time thinking about what you want to happen in your future. Then set a goal for yourself. (Like: I will learn to ride a bike by summer.) Tell you parents your goal. Let them help you set some steps to get you to your goal. (Like: Step 1: Ride your bike three times a week for 30 minutes each time. Step 2: Set a date to take your training wheels off....)


Apply It!

Resources

Lakeside Bookshelf

Below are some books to complement our Be Brave sermon series through the book of Daniel. Stop by the bookshelf in the lobby to browse or purchase.

The Daniel Dilemma: How to Stand Firm & Love Well in a Culture of Compromise by Chris Hodges

The Daniel Prayer: Prayer That Moves Heaven and Changes Nations by Anne Graham Lotz

A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today's World by John Stonestreet & Brett Kunkle


Downloads & Resources