The End Times and You

EndTimes1


Daniel 12 Speaks to Us


Wisdom's Friend

The end times hold a fascination for us human beings, partly because of a natural curiosity about the unknown. We want to know what is going to happen next in God’s great plan for our world. The early followers of Jesus voiced such a curiosity when they gathered together to witness his leaving our world in his ascension. They asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6 NIV).

Just as they wondered about his leaving, we wonder about his coming. There are many questions as yet unanswered for us about that future event. However, there is also much that we do know, as revealed to us in Scripture. Jesus may have told those first questioners that it was not for them to know times and dates (Acts 1:7), but he did tell them, and us, other things about that dreadful and glorious day. He said:

“Be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time. But in those days, following that distress, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light” (Mk. 13:23-23 NIV).

The distress of the end times will be unparallelled; nothing like it will ever have happened before–except for the first time the earth was destroyed, in the great flood of Noah’s day. That is the only thing we have to compare it with, and Scripture does make that comparison. The last chapter of Daniel, for instance, concerns itself with the last days of this planet, and it immediately makes reference to the great flood.

“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” (Dan. 12:1 NIV).

Distress . . . nations. . . . The beginning of nations refers to the three sons of Noah who, being forewarned by God through Noah and by being in the ark, survived the great flood that destroyed the earth . From them came all the nations of the earth (Gen. 10:32). Thus the prophet Daniel makes reference to the first destruction of the earth, by water, to prepare God’s future people for the second destruction of the earth, by fire (2 Ptr. 3:10). Jesus likewise made reference to the days of Noah and the ark when preparing his listeners for the final days of the world (Lk. 17:26-27).

Those final days are described in Scripture in pictures of frightening violence and destruction (Mk. 13:20). Nevertheless, those who belong to Jesus need not fear even these unique and terrifying events. We have God’s Word on that.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:35-39 NIV).

The opening verse of Daniel 12 agrees with the apostle Paul, for that first verse, after first stating that the last days will be of great distress, then concludes by saying, “But at that time your people–everyone whose name is found written in the book–will be delivered” (Dan. 12:1 NIV).

There is the great contrast: The first part of the first verse says that extreme destruction or distress will occur at that time, but deliverance will be found for those written in God’s great Book of Life, the book of conquerors over death in Jesus Christ. This is the great comfort that we who are in Christ have as we face the end times.

When Daniel heard and saw in his vision the many troublesome and frightening things of the end times, he naturally wondered about what he had been told and had seen. But like the New Testament followers of Jesus, he was told not to concern himself with these matters (Ps. 131:1) but simply to record what he had been shown by God about them, for use by those who would be living at that time.

“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 closed up and sealed until the time of the end'” (Dan. 12:8-9 NIV).

“But you, Daniel, close up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge” (Dan. 12:4 NIV).

Like Daniel, I too wonder about the end times, and not solely out of natural human curiosity. We all know what that did to the cat. I wonder partly because it is human nature to fear the unknown–and maybe fear even more what is known, if it is frightening enough. And what we are told in the Bible about the end times is certainly frightening enough–so much so that some people sometimes refuse to talk about it because of the frightening nature of those events, while others comfort themselves with the theology that they will not be around when those events occur, that the rapture will occur before those last, dreadful events take place.

I do not wish to argue this latter point; that is not why this is being written. It is being written for the same purpose that Daniel’s words were: to help prepare God’s people for their participation in whatever portion of those end time events they will experience. For another reason I ponder what Scripture says concerning these matters and that time is because I want to be ready for whatever portion of them I must experience, not just for my own benefit but so that I will give glory to God by my conduct and attitude at that time.

You can probably surmise from the above that I do not believe that God’s people will completely escape all the distress of the end times, as some teach. I do believe, however, that God will strengthen and protect his people for those days so that they can give him glory and also be around as his witnesses and to help lead the lost to him in those final hours. We will escape his wrath (1 Ths. 1:10), but not necessarily the wrath of wicked man, though some may be spared that as well.

Whatever the case may be, I believe that each of you reading this is alive today, in the beginning of the end times, for a reason. It is not by chance that you are where you are in history. You as a believer are a priest of God in this world, and a son or daughter of the King of Kings, a royal position. And “who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 2:14 NIV).

Who knows? God knows, because “from one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live” (Acts 17:26 NIV). And, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Ps. 139:16 NIV).

Whether you agree with this or that theological stance concerning the end times, or not, is not the most important thing. What is important is that you realize the lateness of the hour (Rom. 13:11) and take the necessary steps to ensure that you are following the Lord’s will and direction for your life in these end times. We believers in Christ are spiritual Israel (Rom. 2:28-29), those who have been joined with Christ. We need to be like the men from the tribe of Issachar, who joined themselves to David and “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” ( 1 Chr. 12:32 NIV).

We know what we should do in these last times. We should do what we should be doing all along, whether in the last times or the first times: allowing God to sanctify us and make us holy. We should dedicate ourselves to holiness, for holiness prepares us to meet God (Heb. 11:14) and also helps usher in the end times (Be Holy–or Else!) whether at the end of time for this world or the end of time of our own personal world, in death. Those who know the Lord know that he is holy and that he has called them to be holy as well. This is our call. This is your personal call for you who are alive in the end times.

“I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy. . . . I am the Lord who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy” (Lev. 11:44-45 NIV).

Those who are wise will answer this call of God upon their lives and obey it. Those who do not, show that they do not understand what life is all about and what it means to believe in Jesus and live for him who is holy.

“Many shall purify themselves, and make themselves white, and be refined; but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand; but those who are wise shall understand” (Dan. 12:10 NIV).

This is the message we have from God in his Word, his message of both warning and encouragement for us. We may still have unanswered questions about what is to come, but the most important question of all, that of our salvation and destiny because we believe in Jesus Christ, is not among them. We already know the answer to that question.

“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” (Dan. 12:13 NIV).

“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 Jn. 5:13 NIV).

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