Daniel 12:3; Wise Witnesses Shine ~ 20230219 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org
02/19_Daniel 12:3; Wise Witnesses Will Shine; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20230219_dan12_3.mp3
A heavenly messenger battled angelic adversaries for 21 days in order to deliver a message to Daniel about ‘what is to happen to your people in the latter days. For the vision is for days yet to come’ (10:14). This was a message of a great conflict (10:1) and Daniel needed to be strengthened by three touches from this messenger, to be able to kneel, to be able to speak, and finally to be strengthened to receive this word.
The kings to the north and south of Jerusalem would trample over the beautiful land for the coming 370 some years, culminating in the persecution under Antiochus IV who in great wrath would invade the land, put many to death, set up a statue and make sacrifices to a false god in God’s holy temple; the abomination that makes desolate. The prophecy then skips forward thousands of years to the yet future coming persecutor of God’s people, who, prefigured by Antiochus, will ‘oppose and exalt himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God’ (2Thess.2:4).
Daniel 12:1 “At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. 2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. 4 But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.”
Things will get much worse, but it will be worth it in the end. It will be a time of trouble unparalleled in all history, but there will be a great deliverance; all those whose names are found written in the Lamb’s book of life before the foundation of the world (Rev.13:8; 17:8) will be delivered. Resurrection is coming, the persecutors and unbelievers to shame and everlasting contempt; those who are found in Christ to everlasting life.
Daniel 12:3 And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.
The wise shall shine. Who are these wise ones? Something similar was said about the wise in chapter 11 that sheds light on their identity.
The Wise Stumble and Stand Firm
Daniel 11:32 ...but the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action. 33 And the wise among the people shall make many understand, though for some days they shall stumble by sword and flame, by captivity and plunder. 34 When they stumble, they shall receive a little help. And many shall join themselves to them with flattery, 35 and some of the wise shall stumble, so that they may be refined, purified, and made white, until the time of the end, for it still awaits the appointed time.
Note, the wise are not those who never stumble or fall. ‘We all stumble in many ways’ (Jas.3:2). In this context, the stumbling or falling is by sword and flame, by captivity and plunder. When we stumble, when we fall, we need help, and we will receive that help. And the stumbling is for a good purpose; it is ‘so that they may be refined, purified, and made white, until the time of the end’ (11:35). Persecution is real, but it is for a good purpose. It is refining, purifying, cleansing. Romans 8 says:
Romans 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Jesus does not promise us a trouble free life. In fact he promises ‘In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world’ (Jn.16:33). Nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The Wise Know and Are Known
The wise are not those who never stumble. The wise stand firm even though they stumble, even when they fall, because the wise are those who know their God. ‘The people who know their God shall stand firm and take action’ (11:32).
This is not merely knowing about God. Many who say ‘I believe in God’ mean that they believe that there is some higher power out there somewhere. They may even know a lot about God, what God is like, what the Bible says about God. They may be able to affirm correct theology about God; they may be able to recite creeds about the nature of God, and to list many of his attributes. To truly know God, it is essential to affirm the truth God reveals about himself, and we ought to pursue knowing everything God reveals about himself. Knowing God is not less than knowing these things about God, but it is more.
When it comes down to it, on that day it is never about what you do; it is not even about what you know, it is all about who you know. Jesus says:
Matthew 7:22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
But Lord, I knew all about you, I studied you, I did all these great things in your name. Look at my resume. Look at my list of accomplishments. Look what I did for you. ‘I never knew you’.
What matters is relationship, intimacy. Everything else grows out of that. We were made for intimacy, for affection, to delight in and to be delighted in. We were made to know God. We were created to be known, to be loved with an everlasting love (Jer.31:3). This is our confidence, this is our hope.
1 Corinthians 13:12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
The wise know their God. He is theirs and they are his. They belong to one another. Is God yours? Do you belong to him? Have you entered in to that covenant with him, where you take him to be your God, and he takes you to be his own treasured possession? Do you know your God? Jesus is the only way, the only door by which we may enter into this relationship. He has reconciled us to God through the cross; it is through him we have access in the Spirit to the Father (Eph.2:16,18)
The Wise Witness
The wise know their God, ‘and the wise among the people shall make many understand; (11:33). In 12:3 the wise are described as ‘those who turn many to righteousness.’ The wise know their God, but they refuse to keep him to themselves. Good news must be shared, spread, proclaimed; make many understand, turn many to righteousness. We find ourselves in a culture where every opinion has a platform except the truth. To claim anything as absolute, objective, universal truth is to open yourself to being publicly shamed for being narrow, closed minded, even a hater. But the risk of personal cost is small when weighed against the eternal consequences for those who have not heard, who don’t know Jesus. The risk of offending is a small risk, when compared to ‘the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord’ (Phil.3:8). Remember, the gospel is good news, that although the wages of our sin is death, ‘the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Rom.6:23). He who wins souls is wise (Prov.11:30). Do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry (2Tim.4:5). God through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.
2 Corinthians 5:20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Matthew 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
We Shall Be Like Him
Daniel 12:2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.
The wise, although they stumble they stand firm, those who know their God, those who turn many to righteousness will shine like the brightness of the sky above, like the stars forever and ever.
The words shine and brightness are the verb and noun form of the same root, and the verb is almost always used of teaching or warning; we could translate ‘illumine or enlighten like the light of the sky’.
On the mountain with Peter, James, and John, as Jesus was praying;
Luke 9:29 And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. 30 And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.
Matthew 17:2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.
Jesus was dazzling, radiant, brilliant, shining like the sun. This was a glimpse of his glory which he had with his Father before the world existed. But Luke tells us that these two Old Testament saints ‘appeared in glory’. Jesus is rightly the center of attention, and Peter is rebuked for putting them all on the same level. We are not told exactly what it means that they ‘appeared in glory’ but I think we can conclude that they were glorious. Psalm 17 says:
Psalm 17:8 Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings, ... 15 As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.
There is a sense in which beholding is becoming. We begin to reflect him, to image him, as we were created to do.
2 Corinthians 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
This is the present reality of the believer. This has already started! As we behold the glory of the Lord through his word, we are being transformed by his Holy Spirit. This sheds light on Jesus’ command to
Matthew 5:16 ...let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Paul tells us in Philippians to
Philippians 2:14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing,15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, ...
When we refuse to grumble, when we refuse to argue, when we hold fast to the world of life, we shine as lights in a crooked, twisted, and dark world.
1 John 3:2 Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.
Already we are being transformed, already we are his children. Already we can shine as lights in the world. But what we will be one day has not yet appeared. We will shine like the brightness of the sky above, like the stars forever and ever.
1 Corinthians 15:50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
Beholding the glory of the Lord, we are being transformed. We shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.
2023.02.19 Sermon Notes
Daniel 12:3; Wise Witnesses Shine
The wise stumble and stand firm
Daniel 11:32-35; James 3:2; Romans 8:35-39; John 16:33
The wise know and are known
Daniel 11:32; Matthew 7:22-23; Jeremiah 31:3; 1 Corinthians 13:12; Ephesians 2:16,18
The wise will witness
Daniel 11:33; 12:3; Philippians 3:8; Romans 6:23; Proverbs 11:30; 2 Timothy 4:5; 2 Corinthians 5:18-21; Matthew 28:19-20
The wise will shine
Daniel 12:3; Luke 9:29-31; Matthew 17:2; Psalm 17:8, 15
-beholding is becoming
2 Corinthians 3:18; Matthew 5:16; Philippians 2:14-16; 1 John 3:2; 1 Corinthians 15:50-54
Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org