God Is Greater Than Your Death
We all have shared experiences that unite us: our hobbies, TV shows, places we’ve been, our kids. But there’s really only 1 shared experience that unites us all. Death. Unfortunately we aren’t really around afterward to talk about it. Daniel 12 teaches us a lot about death.
Check out Daniel 12:1: “At 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.” Wow that’s a lot in one verse. We hear about Michael again, the great prince who stands watch over the people. We know from other places in the Bible that this is the archangel Michael, one of God’s chief angels. And Michael is always guarding God’s people, fighting for them. Like in Jude 9, check out what Michael does there: “Yet when Michael the archangel was disputing with the devil in an argument about Moses’s body, he did not dare utter a slanderous condemnation against him but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” There was some writing circulating at the time that said that Satan was claiming Moses’ body was his property because Moses was a murderer in his early life and so Jude writes and says nope, Michael will have none of that. Michael was fighting Satan for Moses’ body. In Revelation 12 Michael is leading God’s army of angels in battle against Satan and his demons.
So here’s the first thing we learn from this text: GOD WILL ALWAYS FIGHT FOR YOU.
And this verse says that there’s gonna be this time of distress for God’s people that’ll be more intense than anything they’ve ever faced. But God will fight for us. He made it the sole purpose of his archangel Michael to fight for you.
Maybe you feel like you’re fighting, scraping, and clawing in this life on your own. You’re fighting to keep your marriage together. You’re fighting for your life physically as your body is failing. You’re fighting your sin problems and financial issues and to keep your reputation. But have you realized that God is always fighting for you? Look at what Psalm 91 says about the angels: “For he will give his angels orders concerning you, to protect you in all your ways.They will support you with their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” You have an army of God’s angels protecting you in all your ways. You have no idea how much they’ve protected you so far in your life.
But what’s even better, look at what Hebrews 7 says: “Therefore, [Jesus] is able to save completely those who come to God through him, since he always lives to intercede [pray] for them.” Jesus is currently praying to God for you. That’s what he’s up to right now. He has your name on his lips, praying to God for what’s best for you, fighting for your joy. Maybe it feels like you’re in this life completely on your own. You’re not. God will always fight for you. He’s fighting for you right now.
Now look at verse 2: “Many who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake, some to eternal life, and some to disgrace and eternal contempt. 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.” To sleep here means death. Those who die will awake. There’s resurrection here. Some will be resurrected to eternal life, and some will be resurrected to disgrace and eternal contempt. People who die are gonna be resurrected to some eternal, unending condition. Life, or disgrace. Verse 3 is talking about those who are going to be resurrected to life: they’ll shine like stars forever and ever.
So we see that GOD IS LEADING YOU TO GLORY. If you’re a follower of Jesus, this is the end of your story. Death isn’t; resurrection and shining like the glorious stars is the end of your story. We’re gonna be looking at how glorious Jesus’ resurrection is and how glorious our resurrected bodies will be this Sunday at our Easter service. One pastor said it this way: “The old body will become a new body. But it will still be your body. There will be continuity. God is able to do what we cannot imagine. The resurrection is not described in terms of a totally new creation but in terms of a change of the old creation.” We aren’t gonna be given something totally new, but God will totally recreate what we already have.
Maybe you’ve always felt like what you have isn’t enough. Maybe you have the tendency to always compare up and see how you fall short. You’re not as attractive as all of Hollywood, not as successful as all of Silicon Valley, not as athletic as any professional athlete except golfers, not as spiritual as some pastor or speaker you look up to. Maybe you have all these ambitions for what you wanna do with your life and you’re starting to realize that you won’t achieve one or any of them. Maybe you’ll die having never tasted glory in this life the way you want to.
But verse 3 is what you WILL achieve. It’s guaranteed because God will achieve it for you. He’ll transform you. And you’ll have so much glory that you’ll shine like the bright expanse of the heavens forever.
Death won’t stop that; God has made sure that the end of your story isn’t death.
But, not everyone’s gonna believe that this is true.
Look at verse 4: “But you, Daniel, keep these words secret and seal the book until the time of the end. Many will roam about, and knowledge will increase.” God’s telling Daniel to preserve these words. Keep it on record for God’s people to see and know so that when it all goes down, they won’t be discouraged or doubt, but that they’ll trust in the God who said that this would all happen.
So we see that GOD IS REVEALING TRUTH TO YOU.
It says that many people will roam about in this life, looking for knowledge, looking to increase their knowledge about THIS stuff. They’ll look everywhere to try to find meaning and purpose in life, to find truth. But they want it without God. There’ll be many people who reject God but look for some sort of hope in this life, which is exactly what God is offering them. They’re looking for what God gives, they just don’t want God to be the giver.
I wonder if that’s you? I mean, if you’re here this morning you must find some value in the Bible and what it says, and maybe you even would tell people that you believe the Bible and pattern your life after it, but I think it’s possible to say all that and still live our lives based on stuff that’s not in the Bible.
Like maybe you’ve heard one of these things:
Let go and let God.
God helps those who help themselves.
God won’t give you more than you can handle.
There are many paths to God.
Following God is filled with material blessings in this life.
We get these supposed truths from instagram posts and bumper stickers and conversations over coffee but God has revealed truth to us. Truth is in what God has said to us.
Sometimes in our church we say that we’re just beggars telling other beggars where to find bread. And you know what beggars should do when they get bread? Eat it.
Are you eating God’s truth? Or settling for less?
Look at verse 5: “Then I, Daniel, looked, and two others were standing there, one on this bank of the river and one on the other. One of them said to the man dressed in linen, who was above the water of the river, “How long until the end of these wondrous things? ” Then I heard the man dressed in linen, who was above the water of the river. He raised both his hands toward heaven and swore by him who lives eternally that it would be for a time, times, and half a time. When the power of the holy people is shattered, all these things will be completed.” So Daniel sees 2 more angels and they seem shocked by everything that Jesus has been telling Daniel, so they ask Jesus how long it’s gonna be until these things go down. So the angels don’t even know about all these details. There’s only one who does, and that’s God. He knows exactly gonna happen in the future.
Because what we’ve seen all throughout Daniel is that GOD HAS A SOVEREIGN PLAN FOR YOU. He has a sovereign plan for everything, which includes your life. God is never nervous about your future like you are. God’s never concerned about your past, like you are. God is completely in control of your life.
And His plan for you is for you to live in the world following Jesus with total joy, glorifying God in all that you do.
But part of that plan may be hard times, and part of his plan is definitely your death. At the end of verse 7 it says that when the power of the holy people is shattered, then these things will be completed. There are going to be battles, wars, sickness, accidents, all kinds of things that will eventually put us in the most powerless state of being dead. Even though the powers of darkness will do their worst against God’s people, God’s plan won’t be changed, and his control won’t be lost. .
We need to see people die well. We need to see people trusting God’s sovereign plan in their lives in how they die. We need to see people who don’t cling to this life, but cling to God’s plan.
This is so radical. So counter-cultural. The Kingdom of God always is. In Philippians 1:21 Paul says, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” To die is gain! God’s Kingdom is an upside down thing. And we need to start living in upside down ways, trusting God’s plan in our lives.
Look at verse 8: “I heard but did not understand. So I asked, “My lord, what will be the outcome of these things?” He said, “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 those who have insight will understand. From the time the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination of desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days. Happy is the one who waits for and reaches 1,335 days.” So the angels wanted to know when this would happen, and God answered in a way that didn’t shed too much light on the timetable for Daniel. So he asks another question trying to get some more details. And Jesus at first doesn’t make it much clearer, just says that many will be purified, cleansed, and refined and wicked people are gonna be wicked. But then he seems to get SUPER detailed in verse 11. He says that he knows the timetable down to the day in verses 11 and 12. And notice that he doesn’t make it conditional. He doesn’t say, “Well, these things’ll happen once you…”
See guys, GOD’S PLAN HAS A SOVEREIGN TIMETABLE.
There’s gonna come a time where it REALLY seems God’s gonna do his final work, but still there’s gonna be some waiting, 45 days in verse 12. But the pain WILL end. God brings trials and challenges into our lives for the exact right amount of time to reveal sin, brokenness, doubt, whatever He needs to in our lives. He knows exactly how long we need.
One Puritan pastor put it this way: “God gives us enough time for what he requires of us.” God’s given you exactly enough time in your life to do what he wants you to do. And we’re all here. That means in this time that God’s given you, He’s gonna do a powerful work in your life.
So, look at verse 13: “But as for you, go on your way to the end; you will rest, and then you will stand to receive your allotted inheritance at the end of the days.” Jesus’ last recorded words to Daniel, and I think they are powerful words for us today:
GO ON YOUR WAY, CONFIDENT IN GOD.
Go on and live your life, confident that God has an inheritance for you. And you know what, Daniel’s gonna go on his way, and live some boring days. I mean; Daniel’s already about 90 years old, and when we think of Daniel we think of Lions and Kings and Dreams and incredible things but really only 7-8 days of Daniel’s life are recorded. Sure, he had some amazing mountain top experiences, but he probably mostly lived very normal, boring days of routine. And now God’s saying to go live more routine, unspectacular days of life until the end, when you die. But he tells him to do it was a deep confidence that God will be faithful to his promise to bless Daniel with an inheritance when he dies.
Why can Daniel be confident about that? I love the way Jesus put it in John 10:28: “My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” So Jesus says those who hear the truth about me and follow me, give their lives to me, it’s like he’s putting his hand around them and no one can take them out of Jesus’ hand.
Not even death. And then God the Father takes his hand and wraps it around that and no one is able to snatch you and Jesus out of the Father’s hand. As one pastor friend of mine recently said, “The Trinity would lose Jesus before it loses you!” God’s promised that you are his forever if you follow Jesus.
Go on your way, confident in God.