TODAY’S READING FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT- Daniel 11:36-12:13
We pick up with verse 36 of Daniel Chapter 11 which gives an account of a dictator operating in the spirit of antichrist. It is a description of the rule of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, but we can see how he exemplifies the spirit of many of the world dictators who have deceived, oppressed, and put to death their opponents throughout history (Daniel 11:44). He is also a clear foreshadowing of the ‘man of sin’, ‘the man of lawlessness’, ‘the son of destruction’ the ‘antichrist’ who is to come, as described by the Apostle Paul in his second letter to the Thessalonians:
2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 1 Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, 2 that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.
Daniel is told that “He will magnify himself above all gods.” He will manipulate others and barter for domination (Daniel 11:37-38).
He will turn to ‘the god of fortresses’ (Satan, who glorifies war). Yet this dictator will face rivals. Egypt and Syria both will oppose him as he occupies Israel. So will the Lord.
Just when he appears to be unstoppable, countries are rescued out of his hand, and “he will come to his end and no one will help him” (Dan 11: 45).
This reminds us of what will happen to the antichrist.
Chapter 12 describes a great tribulation. This will take place beyond 300 years in the future when Antiochus Epiphanes desecrates the temple, or 500 years in the future when Titus of Rome in 70 A.D. destroys Jerusalem. It describes the period that John the Apostle saw when he was on the island of Patmos in the last decade of the first century. He spoke then about these events as ‘things to come’, meaning that they had not yet occurred (Revelation 1:19).
Daniel 12:1-2 1 “Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued.
Michael is the angel who stands guard over the Jews. Most likely he is the angel spoken of in Exodus 23:20, the angel who continually stands guard over the Israelites.
Exodus 23:20 20 “Behold, I am going to send an angel before you to guard you along the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared.
The resurrection of many unto eternal life is described in Daniel 12:2. This is the first resurrection that takes place with the coming of Christ. Others will be raised to disgrace and everlasting contempt, but ‘not until the thousand years are completed’ (Rev 10:5a).
Revelation 20:5-6 5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.
Daniel is told to seal up the book. It is for the end of time. The next phrase takes us forward through the century to more modern days- “Many will go back and forth” (there will be an increase in transportation) and “knowledge will increase” (predicting the information age, Daniel 12:4).
In verses 5-13, Daniel sees the man clothed in linen for the last time. This glorious being swears by Him who lives forever, that this time of trouble is specifically for ‘time, times and a half’, an expression usually denoting 3 ½ years. After that, all these events shall be completed (Dan 12:7).
Daniel asks the question: “What will be the outcome of these events?” (Daniel 12:8)
We should take note of the response he receives.
Daniel is assured that he will have a part in the future kingdom on the earth, long after he dies.
Daniel 12:9-13 9 He said, “Go your way, Daniel, for these words are concealed and sealed up until the end time. 10 Many will be purged, purified and refined, but the wicked will act wickedly; and none of the wicked will understand, but those who have insight will understand. 11 From the time that the regular sacrifice is abolished and the abomination of desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days. 12 How blessed is he who keeps waiting and attains to the 1,335 days! 13 But as for you, go your way to the end; then you will enter into rest and rise again for your allotted portion at the end of the age.”
John underscores the importance of testing all teachers with the Scriptures. He recognizes that doctrines that oppose the truth of the gospel are doctrines of demons (1 Timothy 4:1) and therefore he says, ‘test the spirits’, for they are influencing the false prophets and teachers (1 John 4:1).
John starts with testing what they are being taught about Jesus. If they teach that Jesus is anything less than God Incarnate, the unique Son of God, the second person of the trinity, they are influenced by the spirit of antichrist.
John has great confidence that believers have the Spirit of Truth. They will recognize error and thereby overcome he that is in the world, the spirit of antichrist. The teachings of ‘the spirit of antichrist’ will be popular with the unbelieving world. Those who are able to hear the spirit of truth and turn from the spirit of error can only do so because of God’s gracious power.
Believers who have the Word of God and the Spirit of God have the ability to discern. But this capacity to discern cannot lie dormant. Discernment must be exercised.
Just as the Spirit of God ministers truth (1 John 4:1-6), so the Spirit of God ministers love (1 John 4:7 -13). God gives evidence of His love in that He saw our greatest need and sent His Son to execute His plan of redemption. He brings about our reconciliation to Himself through the person and work of His Son, who lives and dies as our Substitute. Jesus Christ offers Himself to provide the propitiation for our sins (turning away God’s wrath against sin, removing our sins from view, and guaranteeing His delight in us as we are hid in His own righteousness).
Another test of authentic Christian faith is that true Christians will confess that Jesus is the unique Son of God. The evidence of authentic Christian faith will be the believer’s ongoing disposition of trust and reliance upon Christ.
The believer has confidence in the Day of Judgement, only because they have been joined to the Lord in full identification. “As He is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17). For us to live, is Christ (Philippians 1:21). This revelation of love in the perfection of Christ and His finished work of redemption, casts out all fear (1 John 4:18).
True Christians will love God because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). While we were His enemies, He died for us (See Romans 5:6-11).
Another proof of authentic faith will be our love for our brothers and sisters in Christ (1 John 4:20, 3:14). This is His commandment (1 John 4:21).
1 John 4:20 20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.
This is one of the songs of ascent (Psalms 120-134). Pilgrims sing these songs while going up to Jerusalem.
The pilgrims look up to the city of God as they approach it. It is a reminder that we are to be ever looking up to the Lord.
“To You I lift my eyes” (Psalm 123:1) The eyes of the believer look beyond the present circumstances, and the earthly cities and destinations, to the One who is enthroned in the heavens! The Sovereign God of all grace.
What does the look signify? The look signifies faith. “As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress so our eyes look to the LORD our God.” This implies the dependence of faith. We look to the God Whom we serve, knowing that He is the One who will provide all we need by His hand, and we can rest assured that He will be gracious to us (Psalm 123:2).
The believer looks to the Lord with the submission of faith. The servant is submissive to his Master. The maid is submitted to the will of her mistress and ready to obey her commands.
The believer looks to the Lord with the discipline of faith. Our own souls (our mind, emotions, will, and conscience) are often occupied with the daily troubles of life. The discipline of faith looks away from all that would cause a soulish reaction. Faith will focus on the sufficiency of God’s grace.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS – Proverbs 29:2-4
Proverbs 29:2-4 2 When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when a wicked man rules, people groan. 3 A man who loves wisdom makes his father glad, but he who keeps company with harlots wastes his wealth. 4 The king gives stability to the land by justice, but a man who takes bribes overthrows it.
We should abhor sinful corruption, and watch for it in ourselves. Do we rejoice in righteousness and groan over wickedness? The spirit of the world would have us do the opposite. Do we handle our finances and possessions as good stewards of God’s grace? Are we influenced to judge people unfairly?
PRAY FOR THE NATIONS – UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND.
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Area: 244,110 sq. km
Two main islands: Britain and the northeast of Ireland. A union of four countries: England 103,400 sq. km, Scotland 78,800 sq. km, Wales 20,800 sq. km, Northern Ireland 14,100 sq. km. Also, three small autonomous states that are dependencies of the British Crown: Isle of Man 588 sq. km (in the Irish Sea); Channel Islands 194 sq. km (Guernsey, Jersey).
Population: 62,129,818 Annual Growth: 0.54%
Official language: English; in Wales both English and Welsh. English is the primary language of 400 million in the world, as well as the major language of international communication for over 1.4 billion Languages: 15 All languages
Largest Religion: Christian
Challenges for Prayer
Students in higher education are exposed to great pressures. A largely godless, consumeristic and hedonistic younger generation is being formed by the secular system. Less than 2% of students are actively involved in church. Pray especially for a life of consistent and loving witness by Christian students; they are the ones best equipped to reach their own peers. Pray for:
- a) The Christian Union groups among students, especially the more than two million in colleges and universities. Their growth and diversity are encouraging, the main ones being Agapé (CCCI), Navigators, Fusion and UCCF(IFES). The oldest and most widespread is the work of UCCF, with over 10,000 students involved in Christian Unions. Pray for mature, stable leadership and for effective support and advice from the 70 full-time workers and more than 60 volunteers. Pray also for solutions to the increasing challenge of maintaining a witness on campuses, which are ever more biased against Christianity.
- b) Overseas students. There are about 400,000 international students in the UK – 80,000 from China alone – plus many thousands in English-language schools. Outreach to them is varied but too limited, and many return home without hearing the gospel. Friends International, UCCF(IFES), Navigators, COCM and others have ministry to them.
PRAYER: Father, we see in both the Old and New Testaments that the spirit of antichrist is at work in the world. We ask that You keep us on high alert and ready to deal with lies and deceptions that would assault our minds. We thank You for Your many provisions for the strengthening of our souls for the fight. Thank You for Your Word, Your Spirit, Your angels and the testimony and fellowship of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Keep us from becoming dull through any form of spiritual compromise. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.