November 4, 2018
Game Over - We Win!
Pastor Bryan Watson
In my last message on Daniel, I preached from the end of Daniel 11. If you recall, Daniel 11:36-45 specifically dealt with future events (and I mean future events to us even today… the entire prophecy was a future event to Daniel). These future events are specifically talking about the time of the end, and the Antichrist. I need to provide a bit of context, and illustrate where we are on God’s Prophetic Calendar.
Earlier in this series, I preached a sermon from Chapter 9 of the Book of Daniel called “The Math Problem of the Ages”. In that message, we heard about another of Daniel’s visions, in which the angel Gabriel gives Daniel a prophecy about 70 weeks, or 70 groups of 7, for a total of 490 years.
We learned that 69 of those weeks, or 483 years, represented the amount of time between the proclamation to rebuild the temple, and the arrival of the Messiah at the Passion Week. A stunning prophecy about Christ. We know this because Daniel 9:25 says, “Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command To restore and build Jerusalem Until Messiah the Prince, There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks;” I break down the detail of this in that previous sermon, so if you want a refresher, you can go back and listen to that.
But there was one week remaining; the 70th week. The events in Daniel 11, beginning in verse 36, represent events that happen during that future 70th week. In the prophetic calendar, there is a break of indeterminate time between the 69th week and the 70th week. Scholars refer to that as the Church Age, and we are living in that period now.
So, how do we know that the angel is referring to the Antichrist in the events that take place during the 70th week? Well, going back to Daniel 9:27, after 69 weeks had already been completed, we read, “Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate.”
On the surface, that seems a little cryptic. However, based on this passage, we conclude that this future leader, the one that I am calling the Antichrist, is going to make a treaty (or “confirm a covenant”) with Israel for 7 years (“referred to in the passage as “one week”). Half-way through the seven years (or, “in the middle of the week”) he is going to betray Israel, put an end to Jewish sacrifices and offerings, and unleash a terrible persecution of the Jews. This time period has been referred to several times in Scripture:
The prophet Jeremiah referred to it as “Jacob’s Trouble”. We read in Jeremiah 30:5-7, 5 “For thus says the Lord:
‘We have heard a voice of trembling, Of fear, and not of peace.
6 Ask now, and see, Whether a man is ever in labor with child? So why do I see every man with his hands on his loins Like a woman in labor, And all faces turned pale?
7 Alas! For that day is great, So that none is like it; And it is the time of Jacob’s trouble,
But he shall be saved out of it.
Jesus refers to this time as the Great Tribulation. We read in Matthew 24:15-22: 15 “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), 16 “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. 18 And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. 19 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 20 And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.
Notice that at the beginning of that passage, Jesus Himself referred to the “prophet Daniel” and his prophecy of the end times.
So, quite frankly, this latter half of the 70th week is going to be bad, folks.
This is the time period that we find ourselves in at the end of Chapter 11, where I finished off last time. At the end of my last sermon, we saw the Battle of Armageddon, and the beast (which we saw from Daniel 7, that dreadful beast representing the last empire, which corresponds with the Antichrist, or the beast from the book of Revelation), we saw the beast slain and thrown into the lake of fire. As it says in Daniel 11:45, “Yet he shall come to his end, and no one will help him.”
And now we pick up the prophecy in Chapter 12.
Chapter 12, Verse 1:
1“At that time Michael shall stand up, The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; And there shall be a time of trouble, Such as never was since there was a nation, Even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, Every one who is found written in the book.
So, let’s unpack this verse.
The phrase, “at that time” is not referring to the next thing to happen after the beast is thrown into the lake of fire. Instead, it means, “throughout the time of this great tribulation.”
So, it’s really at the beginning of this great tribulation that the Archangel Michael, who is assigned the task of watching over Israel, takes action. Compare this with Revelation 12:7-9
7 And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, 8 but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. 9 So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
So, something happens that triggers a tremendous war in heaven between Michael and the rest of the angels, and Satan and his demonic forces, and Satan and his demons are cast down to the earth.
The next part of verse 1 says, And there shall be a time of trouble, Such as never was since there was a nation, Even to that time.
Revelation 12:12 says, “Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.”
This is referring to that point in time when the Great Tribulation begins at the halfway point of the 70th week in Daniel’s prophecy. If you thought the Holocaust was bad, this is going to be much, much worse. Verse 12 says that it is a time of trouble unlike the world has ever seen. This is what Jeremiah alluded to as “Jacob’s Trouble” in Jeremiah 30. And this is what Jesus was referring to as the Great Tribulation in Matthew 24. This whole Great Tribulation period is detailed in Revelation, chapters 12 through 20.
Verse 1 ends with the words, “And at that time your people shall be delivered, Every one who is found written in the book.”
So, how do we see that played out? Revelation 12:10-11 says, “10 Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. 11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.”
So, there is hope! There is hope for people whose name is written in the book! The phrase “your people” in this context isn’t referring only to the Jews, but extends to all believers who have their names written in the book.
We know this because we are told in Galatians 3:26-29, “26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
And as for names being written in “the book”, what book is this? This is the Book of Life. Paul spoke about this book in Philippians 4:3. It is referred to seven times in the book of Revelation. It is sometimes called the Book of Life of the Lamb, or the Lamb’s Book of Life. Why? Because it contains the names of those who have put their faith and hope in the Lamb who was slain to be the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. “They overcame him by the Blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.”
This Lamb who was slain is none other than Jesus Christ, and if you want to be delivered from the wrath to come, there is no other way to do it than to have your name written in that book! And we are all just one heartbeat away from having that book searched for our name, so I wouldn’t ponder it too long, if I were you.
Since we are talking about the Tribulation, I think I need to address the concept of the Rapture of the Church. The Rapture is a topic that is debated by scholars, and they don’t all agree. And that’s OK.
Take the cabbage roll for example. Some people believe that cabbage rolls must be large, filled with hamburger, and covered in tomato sauce. Others believe that to be cabbage roll blasphemy. They believe that cabbage rolls should be small, filled with rice and bacon, and made with sour cabbage and NO tomato sauce. In the end, what really matters is that there ARE cabbage rolls in the buffet line. Period.
So, this concept of a Rapture is not a salvation issue. What really matters is that your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Period!
That being said, in order to provide context to my sermon, I need to tell you that I personally believe in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church. That is, I believe that true believers in Christ will be miraculously removed from the earth before the Tribulation begins, and I believe that a plain reading of Scripture supports this. I’m not going to make a sermon out of this today, but let me leave you with one of the Scripture references that supports a rapture:
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 - 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
The Bible also gives us some examples of people who were “raptured” from the earth. In one way or another, these people were taken to Heaven without going through the normal death and decay experience:
Genesis 5:24 - And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.
2 Kings 2:11 - Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven, accompanied by a chariot of fire.
2 Corinthians 12:2 – Paul tells of a man he knows who was caught up to the third heaven.
Revelation 11:11-12 – The Two Witnesses who were murdered are resurrected. They hear a loud voice from Heaven saying, “Come up here.” Then they are taken up in a cloud.
Acts 1:9 – Regarding the Resurrected Christ: Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.
So, I guess God has the power to do what He wants to do.
I personally believe that the 70th week of Daniel’s prophecy: the period known as the Tribulation and the Great Tribulation, are a time of refinement and testing, an Overtime period giving the world one last chance to come to Christ before the final curtain call. 1 John 1:7 tells us that if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. So, why would believers need to go through the Tribulation in order to be further refined? The blood of Jesus that cleanses us here and now is enough. That’s why I think that Revelation 3:10 applies to us, for it says, 10 Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.
So, let’s move on…
2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt.
This verse clearly prophesies about a coming resurrection. While Daniel’s prophecy about the resurrection is completely accurate, it doesn’t give all the details, such as the fact that the resurrection doesn’t happen all at the same time.
For example, when Christ was resurrected, a small number of saints were resurrected as well. Matthew 27:51-53 tells us, “51 Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, 52 and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53 and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.”
Remember 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17? “15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air...”
At the time of the end of the Great Tribulation, when the Beast and the False Prophet are thrown into the lake of fire in Daniel 11:45, the following events occur: reading from Revelation 20:4-6 -4 And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.
So now those people who entered the Tribulation and became true believers in Christ during that time, and were martyred because of their faith, are resurrected to reign with Christ for a thousand years. What a glorious time it will be for them. At this point, the only people still in their graves are the unbelievers.
Finally, after Christ reigns on the earth for 1,000 years, we see the final judgement, and the resurrection of the unbelievers. Revelation 20:11-15 - 11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. 14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.
Notice that these dead were judged according to their works, because they hadn’t accepted the Grace that is offered by the Blood of the Lamb. All they had left were their works, and their works could not save them. It’s so sad…
3 Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever.
The symbolism of stars is used frequently when it comes to Christ’s glory:
Christ’s birth was announced with the glory of a star. Matthew 2:2.
Jesus was prophesied as a Star coming out of Jacob in Numbers 24:17.
As believers in Heaven, we are going to reflect Christ’s glory with the luminescence of stars! Daniel 12:3
Let me close with Revelation 7:9-10, 14-17
After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
14 So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them. 16 They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; 17 for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
LESSONS FOR TODAY
There is only one main point that needs to be remembered from this sermon.
There is a problem. And that problem is that there is going to be a judgement, and there are way too many people who are going to be judged on their works and cast into hell because their name wasn’t written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
But there is also a solution: And that is, the only way for you to get your name into that Book of Life is to accept what is written in John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
And now that you know about the problem, and you have been presented with the solution, you have a choice to make. And choosing to do nothing is, in fact, a choice.
Like I said, we are all one heartbeat away from finding out for real that this stuff is all true.
How do you do this? You need to confess your sins to God, ask for His forgiveness, and then give your life to Him through submission and repentance. If you want to talk with someone and pray with someone about this, you can come and meet me down here by the platform after the service. I would love to talk with you and pray with you.
But you also don’t need to go through me. I don’t have the copyright to the Book of Life. You can pray in the quietness of your own heart. You can ask God to come into your life right now, if you want. I’m going to close in prayer now, and if you would like, you can pray along with me…
Father, Romans 3:10 tells us there is none righteous. No, not one. We have all sinned and fall short of Your standard.
Lord, You have told us in Titus 3:5-7 5 that it is not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to Your mercy You saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom You poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Lord, on our own, we deserve everlasting punishment as described in Matthew 25:46.
But Lord, Jesus came and lived a perfect, sinless life, and took our place on the cross as You told us in Romans 5:8. And Jesus rose from the dead, proving His power and victory over death and hell, as Your Word tells us in 1 Corinthians 15.
Father, Ephesians 2:8 tell us that by grace we have been saved through faith, and that not of ourselves; it is the gift of God.
Lord, I accept Your gift. And I thank You that I am now counted among Your children. I trust in Jesus and Jesus alone as my personal Lord and Savior. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and forgiving me! Amen!