Our Reclaimed Hope

Daniel 12

What a ride! Fourteen weeks in the book of Daniel. Terrifying visions, steadfast faith, incredible courage, uncompromising commitment, a new chapter. The rules have changed during the Time of the Gentiles. Where doing the right thing once brought blessing, it now brings a curse (ex. fiery furnace and lions’  den). Conforming to the surrounding culture brings comfort. Good is called evil, and evil good. Right and wrong are a matter of public opinion. Following God will not be easy, but for those with insight and the courage to persevere, their inheritance is secure. As the divine messenger says, “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.” In the midst of a world seemingly out of control, Daniel is reminded (and reminds us) that God is still in control… “For wisdom and power belong to Him. It is He who changes the times and the ages; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men And knowledge to men of understanding. It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, And the light dwells with Him.” So don’t give up, don’t give in…God wins.

The first six chapters of Daniel are story…the adventures of Daniel and his three friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah in the kingdoms of Babylon and Persia. Daniel receives his first two visions while Belshazzar is king…still under the dominion of the first beast, Babylon. He receives these visions before the “handwriting on the wall” of Daniel 5. Daniel’s prayer and the last two visions are during the time of Darius/Cyrus. Why is that important? Because Daniel’s experience in the lions’ den (Daniel 6) could very well have come after this final vision. His response to persecution/suffering should inform our response…God can, God will, but even if He doesn’t, He is still sovereign and actively involved in the events of my life and is working for my good and His glory. And just as prayer was an indispensable part of Daniel’s life, it should be of ours as well.

God’s faithfulness to deliver the fantastic four…His faithfulness to deliver His people throughout history … should cause God’s people to want to be faithful in the face of tribulation and oppression. The Daniel’s visions are given within a context of persecution…there was tremendous pressure for him to compromise and even abandon his faith. Daniel writes to persuade folks who are suffering persecution to hold fast their faith and endure because God will rescue them even through death by resurrection (many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake…to everlasting life). Like the fantastic four, we too are tempted to compromise and abandon our faith, but don’t do it. We are called to live out our faith in a hostile world no matter the cost, being available to be used by God to boldly, yet compassionately point those on our impact list to Jesus, knowing that good triumphs in the end. Don’t give up, don’t give in…Jesus wins.

Is your name written in the book? Only those whose name is written in the book will be rescued and resurrected to everlasting life. And the only way to have your name written in the book…trusting in Jesus to rescue you. Then you too, like Daniel, will receive your allotted inheritance in the eternal kingdom. If your name is not in the book, or if you’re not sure…if you don’t know the God that Daniel speaks of today, the God of heaven, the Creator and Sustainer of all that exists, the Revealer of Mysteries, the Rescuer of our souls, please don’t wait. Only those who have insight, whose names are in the book…who have trusted in Jesus for everlasting life will be a part of His eternal kingdom. The rest will spend an eternity apart from Him. Lack of understanding will be no excuse.

May God give us the courage and steadfastness of Daniel to face life in the fourth kingdom, and may we do it with an undying hope.

Until next time…stay salty.

This post is based on our Daniel series entitled Reclaimed. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on twitter: @ccclancaster

The Restoration Process Part 2

Daniel 9.20-27

What was the essence of God’s message to Daniel? God has a plan for history…a plan to vanquish sin and its consequences once and for all and to usher in His eternal kingdom. A return to the garden. Creation. Fall. Redemption. Recreation. This would be accomplished through Messiah the Prince who would be cut off and have nothing…Genesis 3.15 “He will crush your head and you will crush His heel.” It will look like losing along the way…to the end war, desolations are determined…but victory is assured. Don’t give up. Don’t give in. God wins.

But if this vision relates to Daniel’s people, why do we care? God’s promise to Abraham…through him all the families of the earth would be blessed. We know that the promise is ultimately fulfilled through Jesus…but Jesus is a very Jewish Messiah. His sacrifice will be for the whole world, but He came first for the Jews. We care because, as Paul tells us in Romans, we are grafted into the root. If God doesn’t keep His promises to Israel, why do we think He will keep His promises to us? Well, we might say, “But they were disobedient. They followed after false gods. They worshiped idols.” Have we been any different? So we should be Israel’s greatest cheerleaders. God’s plan has always been for the nations…Nebuchadnezzar and Darius are microcosms of that in Daniel… Salvation is not a birthright, but a gracious gift; and Israel His chosen people.

We know that Jesus defeated sin and death at the cross, that in Him is eternal righteousness, the fulfillment of prophecy and God’s presence with us. All that was accomplished in the spiritual realm at His death and resurrection. But we don’t see the full working out of that yet, as the author of Hebrews tells us. We are still awaiting the time when faith becomes sight, when heaven and earth, the spiritual and the physical come crashing together once again, when God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven. God’s sovereignty is unchallenged in the heavenly realm. The battle is for planet earth. Romans 8…creation groaning awaiting freedom from corruption.

I love the fact that Gabriel tells Daniel that he is highly esteemed (Hebrew “precious”). If you are a follower of Jesus, the same is true of you. We are living in the time between the 69th and 70th weeks, a time of persecution and suffering for the people of God. God has not forgotten us. His Spirit dwells within us, He will neither leave us nor forsake us. So don’t give up. Don’t give in. God wins.

If you are not a follower of Jesus, know that a primary purpose of prophecy is to warn folks of impending judgment. The desolater is desolated. The outcome is already determined. Those who side with God are citizens of the eternal kingdom, but those who oppose Him are citizens of earthly kingdoms that are doomed to destruction. The time is short. Don’t wait.

Until next time…stay salty.

This post is based on our Daniel series entitled Reclaimed. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on twitter: @ccclancaster