Let us pray: Dear Savior, as we gaze around this world our hearts are heavy. Evil seems to be advancing wherever we turn. And yet, the masses wallow in their apathy like those who mocked Noah before the great flood. Likewise, as Your children, whenever we raise our voices and sound the alarm, we’re put down and ostracized as religious extremists who are deluded. Lord, as we face increasing uncertainty in this world, fill us with confidence over Your words of truth. And comfort us with the knowledge that when it all ends, eternal victory will be ours, for Your have made it so. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, BOTH THE JUDGE AND DELIVERER OF ALL PEOPLE!
TEXT: Daniel 12: 1-3
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
About a half century ago during the month of November I would sit in church listening to the sermons. Since November marks the winding down of the church year, the old lesson format focused on the end times during those Sundays. Quite frankly, it was all a bit scary.—Talk of persecution, terrible times, and judgment day. It was always a relief when the pastor finally touched on heaven and eternal life. Of course, the pastor’s point wasn’t to scare small children, but to get his fellow believers ready for everything that would come before the relief of entering glory. His point was to get people to recognize genuine evil in this world and not become apathetic, complacent, or hood-winked by Satan’s many masks of spiritual deception.
Our lesson from Daniel does the exact same thing. In it, Christ as the eternal Son of God and ultimate Judge of all people, speaks directly to Daniel and to God’s faithful. He doesn’t mince words as to what awaits the world and them, since they are in the world. But after warning about the inroads of evil and how it will hurt and seemingly destroy the faithful, He adds some wonderful words of promise about the reality of heaven which awaits all God’s saints.
On this Saint’s Triumphant Sunday we’ll do the same as we ponder this lesson by remembering that:
VICTORY IS ASSURED WHEN FEAR IS NEGATED
Satan is smart in a cunning, deceptive way. Obviously he uses any and all tools to attempt to destroy God’s Church, Christ’s beloved Bride, and to hurt her. We all know the list from Scripture: wars, rumors of wars, famine, disease, persecution, hatred, etc. Satan is also adaptable in that he has discovered new techniques to add to his arsenal. Think about our country today. Think about the media reaction and even the political reaction to the Ft. Hood killer. Have you noticed how they seem to be trying to excuse his terrorist behavior, chalking it up to some sort of “mental breakdown” instead of branding it: jihad—which that major himself called it? Have you noticed how some have tried to excuse his evil act by also talking about: “Christian extremists” in the same breath? Yes, a CBS anchor did that. I guess their agenda is that religion is somehow faulty and dangerous and Christianity especially so.—But, of course, no Christian has ever attacked fellow soldiers in a similar way shouting: “The Trinity is great!”
Satan twists and perverts evil in such a way that truly bad things are defended or excused while the truth of God’s love in Christ, of changing hearts through forgiving love instead of by force or coercion—that is made the boogey-man. To me it is obvious that many in America, Europe, and across the world have had their hearts blinded by Satan when it comes to the loving, big-heartedness of our faith. I suppose since they live for power in this life, like their leader, surrendering their hearts to a God Who is all about forgiveness makes no sense. And so, Christian goodness becomes evil and genuine evil becomes something to understand and rationalize. Such spiritual warfare marks the end of time. Never forget that fact. But, never forget Christ’s words to Daniel either!
“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 written in the book—will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. 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.”
In the original Hebrew language, Michael means: the holy one of God. So, exactly Who is the Holy One of God? Well, He is identified for us throughout the Bible as God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Even demons know Who He is and speak of Him as the Holy One of God. Recall when Christ cast out an evil spirit in Mark 1:24 and that evil spirit said this: “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” Yes, when Christ appears, when Michael comes, even demons quake and tremble because Christ is the Judge of all creation.
As I touched on earlier, the world says and does terrible things to Christ’s people without even recognizing how terrible and perverted they actually are. And once Satan has accomplished that mission, then he will move on to more overt attacks, physical attacks on believers, which his adherents will brand as: necessary, good, and salutary—all this because their moral compass has been destroyed. But eventually, Michael will come. He will come to protect God’s people. And who are God’s people? Daniel informs us: “they are everyone whose name is found written in the book.” That book is the book of eternal life. Christ has written it. He has inscribed the names of His believers in it—inscribed those names with His blood. When Christ the great Judge appears, the victory which is already ours, the victory won by Christ on the cross over sin and death, that victory will be ours in all its fullness. We will be delivered from this valley of tears. Likewise, all the previous believers, the saints, will arise from the earth, wake up and be taken into never-ending glory. Their bodies, their molecules of dust will be reformed by their Creator and transformed by His grace. These people are spoken of here as “the wise.” Indeed, Christ makes us wise through faith and trust in His goodness and grace, doesn’t He?
The foolish who think themselves so wise, due to Satan’s twisted logic, will be consigned to shame and everlasting contempt—a fitting end. But the wise, the faithful, will shine with the light of heavenly brightness, and those saints who actively helped lead others to their Savior’s embrace will shine with extra brightness—more than anything in the Milky Way—even after the Milky Way and the entire cosmos is no more.
This lesson clearly teaches us who have ears to hear that: Victory Is Assured When Fear Is Negated. Yes, we live in a fearful world. Yes, ultimate deliverance is still a ways off. However, if you and I stand up for our faith and our Savior, if we follow our Leader, Michael, and don’t back down when evil confronts us in any and all forms, if we don’t cringe in fearfulness before it—victory is assured. I’ll let you in on a secret. Don’t ever forget that Satan hates you and hates Christ for one main reason.—He already knows he’s lost the battle! Never give in to fear by remembering both the cross and Easter! Amen