November 14, 2021
Pastor John Hering
Then at that time, Michael, the great prince who stands over your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress that has not happened from the first time that there was a nation until that time.
At that time your people will be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book. 2 Many who are sleeping in the dusty ground will awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame, to everlasting contempt. 3 Those who have insight will shine like the brightness of the sky, and those who bring many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever and ever.
I received an advertisement for a pen. It said, “Guaranteed for life! We pride ourselves on the quality of our manufacturing and will take care of every customer that has an issue.” So, should I buy one of those pens? When you hear someone say, “It’s Guaranteed for Life,” what do you think they really mean? Probably, they mean if it breaks before you lose it, they’ll replace it. Or how about this one: Tupperware has a lifetime warranty! Then they go on to say, “If your Tupperware chips, cracks, breaks or peels we’ll replace it for free. And if your product is no longer made, we’ll replace it with a similar item.” So, is your Tupperware guaranteed for life? Or do they mean if you break it before you lose it, they’ll replace it? Are pens, Tupperware, car brakes, house foundation repairs really guaranteed for life?
We are living in a world that is infected with the “Lifetime Guarantee Destroyer”—SIN! The truth is that nothing can be guaranteed for life! It is hard to guarantee anything. It’s even hard to anticipate a decisive victory—just ask the Cowboys who lost to the Denver Broncos last Sunday! Yet, today in the Book of Daniel we hear about the guarantee of a decisive victory for all of God’s people. I read just 3 verses and 6 times the Lord God uses the word, “will.” God promises that these things WILL happen. And when God makes a promise, it is as good as done. Therefore, on this Saints Triumphant Sunday our confidence is in God’s promises that are
Guaranteed For Life
You Will Have Times of Distress
Daniel was a man who lived in Jerusalem and was taken captive to live in Babylon. Daniel was an OT believer and a prophet of God. God blessed Daniel with special gifts to interpret and explain dreams. God gave him dreams about the future, not only for the history of the world, but of future events in the last days. We have one of those times before us today: “There will be a time of distress that has not happened from the first time that there was a nation until that time.” What we learn in chapter 12, the last chapter of Daniel, actually starts in chapter 10. The Lord revealed all sorts of events that would take place and informs us that “There will be a time of distress.” The distress that God revealed to Daniel is the same distress that Jesus talked about in Matthew 24. Jesus was talking to his disciples about the destruction of Jerusalem and also about the end of the world. “For at that time there will be great distress, unlike any that has happened since the beginning of the world until now, and unlike any that will happen again” (Matt 24:21).
We are experiencing times of distress right now. Most recently we think of the Covid pandemic, the volcano that erupted in the Philippines, earthquakes in China and Iran, huge fires in Australia and California, famines in Africa, and terrorist attacks around the world. Perhaps you’re thinking of the crimes in your neighborhood, the Amber Alerts on your phone, with wars and rumors of wars around the world. Or maybe your distress is caused by personal relationships gone south, jobs/finances or health. Or maybe your distress is caused by the loss of a relative or even just trying to be the Christian God wants you to be. Oh, the distress caused by false and misleading teachings that flood the internet and are causing people to fall away from the truth of God’s Word. Is your distress caused by guilt, fear, giving into temptation or doubting that God is in control? Daniel got the clear message from God—“ there will be great distress, unlike any that has happened since the beginning of the world until now, and unlike any that will happen again.” Ever since God created the perfect world, sin has caused our world to get worse and worse so that every generation has thought, “The end must be close because the world is getting so bad!”
We can understand why the Bible describes our life and our world as a battlefield. On the one side are God and his faithful people. On the other side are the devil and his followers. The battle also rages within us all as the new man in Christ strives to love and serve God and the Old Sinful Flesh works to tear apart your heart and rebel against God. This suffering without and within will attack even when you have laid out your best plans because of sin. And don’t expect this condition to get any better this side of eternity. As the Last Day approaches the distress and trouble of this world will continue to get worse and worse. How, do I know? Because God Guarantees that you will have times of distress. “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matt 6:34). “We must go through many troubles on our way to the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). “In this world you are going to have trouble” (John 16:13).
So, was the case for Daniel. He was uprooted and carried off to a new land, a new set of laws and customs. The furious king threatened to put Daniel and his people to death. Another time Daniel’s friends Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were thrown into fiery furnace. Even his co-workers got so jealous they devised a plan to have Daniel thrown into the lion’s den. Talk about times of distress! Daniel should not have survived any of these horrible times in his life. However, Daniel survived because of what God guaranteed. It is the same guarantee that God promises to you and to me. Even though there is trouble, there is triumph, too. Listen to God’s promise: “Then at that time, Michael, the great prince who stands over your people, will arise. … At that time your people will be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book.”
This is why we are here this Sunday to celebrate Saints Triumphant. You recognize that you will have days of distress, but God guarantees that
You will be delivered
You heard the name of one of the servants God promises to send to protect us. His name is Michael. Michael is described in the Bible as an archangel (Jude 1:9). This would be a ranking officer in God’s army of angels. God makes a promise that when the great distress takes place an army greater than all of the combined forces and firepower of the world will arise to defend you. Do you remember what Jesus told Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane when the enemies were arresting Jesus? He told Peter to put away his sword because if he wanted to, Jesus could call upon legions of angels to defend him. Jesus will return on the last day with all his angels with great power and glory with the command to go into all the world to gather his elect into the glory of heaven. They will know who to gather for Daniel says, “At that time your people will be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book.” We know the Bible calls these people the elect. The picture of their names written in the book of life paints a picture of all those who have been called by the grace of God, through the gospel, to believe in Jesus. You know many of those who have been delivered—Adam, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Rahab, Peter, James and John and yes, Gwen. The Book of Life has the names of believers who have passed from this life to heaven. And the Book of Life contains your name for you have been delivered. How can we tell? Just look there at the cross. What do you see? If you look to the cross and see foolishness, then we need to talk. But, if you look at the cross and of Jesus and believe that the penalty of your sins has been paid and Jesus has opened the gate of heaven for you, then rejoice for you have been delivered. The guarantee that you have been delivered is at the empty tomb where Jesus’ resurrection proved his victory over sin, death and the devil. Today, through faith in Jesus Christ, you are a saint. You have been delivered.
God guarantees that all people will be brought back to life with these words of Daniel. “2 Many who are sleeping in the dusty ground will awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame, to everlasting contempt.” Love how the Bible speaks about death. God calls it a sleep! Sleep is temporary. God will raise up all people on the Last Day. You also notice that there will be division. Those who have faith in Jesus will be raised to live perfectly body and soul in the victorious glory of Christ. Those who rejected Christ will be raised to spend an eternity in hell suffering the eternal wrath of God.
What is our reaction to the Good News that we will all be Saints Triumphant some day? Daniel says, “3 Those who have insight will shine like the brightness of the sky, and those who bring many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever and ever.” Who are those with insight? It is not necessarily those with the highest IQ or lots of degrees hanging on the wall. The Bible tells us that the one who has insights is the one who has been called by the Gospel, enlightened with God’s gifts of faith, and trust in Jesus for their deliverance. Jesus calls you the light of the world for a reason! You know the truth of God’s Word. You know Jesus saved you. You know and believe that you’ll be in heaven someday. Therefore, shine as God’s dearly loved people! Shine the gospel to a world that is living in distress and trouble. Shine on your friends, relatives, acquaintances and neighbors so they see Jesus in you. Let them see clearly that you are who you are, and do what you do because Jesus loves you so much. And all those who believe in Jesus live under God’s eternal promise that is Guaranteed for Life!
Truth be told, there really isn’t any guarantee for life on this earth, but one. You are going to life forever, either in heaven or in hell. You, dear Christian friends, have God’s Guarantee that you will live forever as Saint Triumphant all because of Jesus. Amen.