Everyone has watched American Idol, or the Voice, or one of those other star-making shows. Some people can’t get enough of them. I’ve noticed that every time they interview a contestant, the theme is always, “I was born to be a star.” Every person on those shows wants to be the next big star. In some way, we all want to shine like a star. We all do! Some of us want to be star actors, or star politicians, or star athletes, or maybe just the star of the office where we work! Kids will grow up and sacrifice everything for the chance at being a star in the big leagues or on the big screen. Parents will spend all of their resources, time, and energy trying to make their child into the next great ball player, or actor, or singer. They keep thinking that if they just take them to one more acting class, or audition, or session in a batting cage it might happen. Then, the parent can vicariously be a star through their child. In our society we are obsessed with being stars. We are obsessed with it. Well, I have good news for you: If you aren’t athletic, can’t sing, can’t act, can’t write amazing poetry, and cannot think of the next great invention, you can STILL become a star and Daniel is going to show you how. Chapter 11 was a depressing chapter for Daniel because it showed all of the bad things that were coming in the future. Most of them have happened, just as they were predicted, but a few of them are still to come. Now, we come to chapter 12, the final chapter:
“At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has 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.” (Daniel 12:1 NIV)
This verse tells us that at the end things will be worse than they have ever been before, Then finally, at that horrible time, Michael will arise. We were first introduced to Michael in chapter 10. He’s the angel who came to the aid of the interpreting angel. Michael allows the interpreting angel to escape and deliver the interpretation to Daniel. Michael is the arch-angel. He’s also the angel who is specifically in charge of the nation of Israel. I would describe Michael as the angelic version of a superhero. He is what you would get if you put Ironman, Batman, Superman, and Wolverine together into one package, only he’s for real. It is important to understand who is fighting in this battle. The picture that the angel presents to us is of Michael, a created angel, going to war with Satan, another created angel. This is NOT a picture of God fighting the devil. A lot of Christians think that there’s a fight going on between God and Satan and that’s not true. One of the biggest lies Satan wants us to believe is that he’s the opposite of God, that he’s an equal to God. Sometimes we think, “And over in this corner is God, and in this corner is Satan,” and they are both bouncing around the ring getting ready to slug it out. . . . Are you kidding? That’s like putting Justin Bieber in the ring against Bruce Willis. It won’t be much of a fight! God is above it all. Satan is a created being, and Michael is a created being, and they’re the ones going at it.
“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 forever and ever. 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.” (Daniel 12:2-4 NIV)
Here, we see an Old Testament look at the coming resurrection of the dead. Everyone will be raised, some will be raised to eternal life with God, and others to everlasting shame without him. Next, the angel tells Daniel that all of the prophecies in the book are going to happen, but for now, he needs to roll up the scroll and seal it until the time of the end. Then the angel predicts that, “Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.” Some people read this to say that at the time of the end, people will move around faster, and knowledge will be increased. That interpretation would make sense because in today’s world people are moving faster to increase their knowledge than ever before. People made fun of Isaac Newton because he predicted that during the end times people would actually be able to go 50 miles per hour! Newton said that people would be able to go “here and there” at 50 miles per hour! People laughed at him! Of course, now we have rocket ships that go 25,000 miles per hour! So people are definitely moving here and there faster to increase knowledge. Knowledge has also increased. Knowledge used to sit on huge shelves in libraries in the form of encyclopedias. Then, they could sit on small disks, and now, they sit somewhere in a cloud, just waiting to be accessed by our Iphones. So knowledge is increasing. In fact, someone noted that from the time Christ died to the year 1700 knowledge on earth doubled. It took 1700 years for it to double. Then, in the year 1900 it doubled again, only taking 200 years. In the year 1950 it doubled again, this time only taking fifty years. Now, information doubles every two years and people are even pointing to a day when knowledge on earth will double every single day. So the angel says that at the time of the end, “Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.” That has happened, but I think that there’s more to it than that. The angel also meant that at the time of the end, people will be going here and there to look for SPECIFIC knowledge. People will be going here and there to try to figure out why things are so bad. They will be trying to figure out what is happening to the world. This question will eventually lead them to the Book of Daniel and many people are going to find answers. To the people living during the end times, the book of Daniel will become clearer and clearer, and many people will turn to God because of what they find in the book. Basically, the angel tells Daniel that the book he is writing will be the most important book on earth at the end of days, and Daniel is tasked with preserving it.
“Then I, Daniel, looked, and there before me stood two others, one on this bank of the river and one on the opposite bank. One of them said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, “How long will it be before these astonishing things are fulfilled?” The man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, lifted his right hand and his left hand toward heaven, and I heard him swear by him who lives forever, saying, “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.” (Daniel 12:5-7 NIV)
Now we have the interpreting angel, two other angels, one on either side of the river, and the being who is floating above the river. In my post on chapter 10, I identified this being as the pre-incarnate Christ. Christ is asked an important question. Notice that it is an angel, not Daniel, but an angel who asks Christ how long the period of suffering will last. Christ makes a solemn oath that it will only last for three and a half years. In ancient times when a Jew wanted to make a solemn oath he would raise his right hand. But here, Christ not only raises his right hand, but both hands. To raise both hands was to say that this was a super-solemn oath. So Christ makes a solemn oath that the suffering will only last three and half years. Therefore, those who are running here and there to increase their knowledge of why bad things are happening, will find this book, start following the Lord, and know that it will be over shortly.
“I heard, but I did not understand. So I asked, “My lord, what will the outcome of all this be?” He replied, “Go your way, Daniel, because the words are rolled up and sealed until the time of the end. 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.” (Daniel 12:8-10 NIV)
Daniel wants to know more, but the angel tells him that it is time to be on his way. The next question we want answered is when the three and a half years is going to take place and Jesus doesn’t answer that question. He doesn’t want us to know and deep down it’s better that way. However, we do have clues that this time might be getting closer, to name a couple, the nation of Israel has been reformed which had to happen beforehand. Also, the idea of a global government is not near as farfetched as it was in the past. In fact, in both economic and legal ways, it is already in existence, and as I talked about earlier, knowledge has certainly increased, but those are just clues. We have no idea when it will happen.
“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. “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.” (Daniel 12:11-13 NIV)
If you are reading carefully you will see a problem here. Previously, Christ said that there would be three and a half years from the beginning of the persecution until the end, but now, two more numbers are introduced. Counting by Lunar years which consist of 30 day months three and a half years should be 1260 days, but now we get these two other numbers? A lot has been written about this, and I am not going to go through all of the theories, but here is what I think. In the first number the angel is adding 30 days to the three and a half years to give time for the judgment to take place. So in other words, the end happens, Jesus returns, and then if you are still around 30 days later, then that means you were judged to everlasting life. Next the angel says, “Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of the 1,335 days.” This throws an additional 45 days into the total. What a lot of people believe, and what I believe, is that the 45 days is the period of time when the government of Christ will be set up. At the end of the 45 days there will be an official coronation. So the people who get to experience this coronation and take part of the kingdom of Christ are extremely blessed, as the angel says. They are about to become citizens of the most wonderful society governed by the most wonderful ruler in all of human history. This is the millennial kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have completed our study of the Book of Daniel, but before closing, I want to go back to verse 3, where the angel says, “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” There is an interesting double meaning here. First of all, we can be stars right now in this dark world. We can be the light that leads people to the kingdom of Jesus Christ. If you are following Christ, you should shine, and others will be drawn to your light because they’ll want to know where it comes from. That’s one meaning, but there is another one. The angel is also saying that those who lead people to Christ will shine in heaven like stars. Everyone who believes will be saved. . . by grace. . . but those who preach Christ among their friends, neighbors, and family members, will shine just a little bit brighter, like the stars in the heavens. What does that mean we should be doing while we’re waiting on Christ to return? We should be bringing people to Christ. That is the mission that we are tasked with. 500 or so years after the Book of Daniel was written, Jesus says, “Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.” So Jesus echoes what the angel said to Daniel. And Jesus also says, “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” Jesus makes a distinction there. On one hand there’s heaven, we get there by simply having faith, but on the other hand, there are treasures in heaven. We get those by becoming a star! So if you have always wanted to be a star now you know how to make that happen. So should we be content with simply being saved by grace, and being in heaven, or is it worth trying to become a star? At first glance that seems like an easy question, but faith under fire can be difficult. And make no mistake about it, our faith is, and will continue to be, under fire. So the question is, “Is it worth it?” In today’s world, we can suffer economically because of our faith, if we live in the wrong place we can suffer physically because of our faith. We can be misunderstood, misrepresented, and made fun of because of our faith. We can lose dating opportunities, job opportunities, and even showbiz opportunities because of our faith. Being a star for Jesus can cause us to suffer. . . . And the depressing part of it is we know that it’s only going to get worse! As the world becomes more secular, and as non-Christian practices become more accepted, we will have to give up even more for our faith. And we know that it’s going to get even worse than that! Because Daniel tells us of a time when our faith will be under even more fire, a time when we’ll be punished for worshiping God, when we’ll be punished for going to church, when we won’t be able to participate in the government, when we won’t be able to meet in the open, and when we might even die because of our faith. This is faith under fire. So is it worth it? Is it worth living a life where we are constantly under fire? Is maintaining faith under fire worth it? Is it worth losing so much to become a star in heaven?. . . God gives us a resounding YES!!! God says YES!!!! Faith under fire is worth it! Because it is the only way to really, and truly become a star! Not just an overnight, but then forgotten star! Not just a 15 minutes of fame kind of star, but a REAL star, a star that will shine throughout eternity, a star that will shine forever. Wait about two years and ask somebody if they remember the guy who was on American Idol last night? Only a couple of them are even remembered past a year. Ask the average American if they know who the quarterback was in the super bowl three years ago, and they won’t know. Ask the average American who won the academy award for the best actor just five years ago and they will simply guess. On Earth, stars die quickly. If you want to become a long-lasting star, you have to make sure that you’re shining in the right sky, God’s sky. If you bring others to God, if you display a life of righteousness, if you work hard to raise your children in a Godly way, if you try to be an example or a light to others in this dark world, and if you try to spread the Gospel, even when your faith is under fire, you’ll be a star, and your star will shine forever. When all of the American Idols are forgotten, when all of the actors have stopped acting, when all of the athletes have stopped playing ball, you will still be shining. Yes, The Book of Daniel shows us how hard faith under fire can be, but it also shows us what will happen if we maintain our faith under fire. We will shine like stars forever. So be a star. Be a star and shine. Shine for God. And shine forever.
Here is a link to the sermon that accompanies this Bible study: “Be a Star!”
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What do you think the angel meant when he said that people at the end would go, “Here and there to increase knowledge?”
Do you want to be a star? Have you ever wanted to be a star in the past? What kind of star?
What do you think it means to have treasures in heaven?
How can we be a star or a light in this world?
Do you think it is harder or easier to be a star in today’s world compared to 50 years ago?
In the future do you see it becoming harder or easier to be a star for God?