Delivered to Shine (Daniel 12)
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. (Daniel 12:1).
I. We live in a time of trouble. A time "such as never has been" before. It fulfills everything that has been said about the end of the age. Fulfilling those things to happen before Jesus returns again.
Our text this morning is the final few verses of a vision Daniel receives. Daniel is told "what is written in the Book of Truth" (Daniel 10:21). Throughout the vision, one theme is stressed: Everything will get worse as time goes along.
Jesus picks this theme up in our Gospel reading. The disciples are staring at awe and wonder at the buildings of the Jerusalem Temple. "What wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!" they say. Jesus replies, "There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down" (Mark 13:1-2).
The worst thing imaginable for any Jew was for the Temple to be destroyed. No Jew wanted to hear the Temple was going to be destroyed. The Temple symbolized God's presence among His chosen people. If the Temple was destroyed, God's presence wouldn't be certain any more. Without God's presence, life is pointless.
As bad as this was for the disciples to hear, Jesus went even further: "And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains" (Mark 13:7-8). These things are just the beginning. It's going to get worse.
II. Even in this time of distress, God promises deliverance: "At that time your people will be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the Book" (v2). Which book? The Book of Life. The Book of Life opened at the Great White Throne judgment (Revelation 20:12). The Book of Life determines the eternal destiny of the soul. The Book of Life contains the names of all who have died to sin and been made alive through Jesus. This is the multitude that comes from the east and the west to sit at the feast of salvation (LSB #510.1). "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of hte Lamb" (Revelation 7:14b). Those not in the Book of Life will be resurrected to everlasting shame.
The feast of salvation is served to those who God has restored to their proper lot in life. This multitude sits around the table because they have been bought with Jesus' blood and righteousness. They are found in the Book of Life because Jesus is their Savior and Lord through faith. They are found in the Book of Life because Jesus grants the miracle of faith that undoes the damage Satan did to the human soul in Eden. You are found in the Book of Life because Jesus died for you and His death covers you in Baptism.
Through Jesus' sacrifice, God calls you to "shine like stars" to the world around you through word and deed. God calls you to realize the true meaning of the Psalm refrain this morning: "Happy the people the LORD has chosen to be His own." How do we shine like stars? "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" (v3). We shine like stars through wisdom. Wisdom brings people to righteousness. Wisdom comes through God's Word, either spoken or seen. God's Word is shared vocally through evangelistic and apologetic activities. God's Word is shared visibly by living a Christian life.
Through your words and deeds, you shine. The stronger your faith, the stronger your light shines. Jesus tells you, "The one who endures to the end will be saved" (Mark 13:13). How can you exercise your faith to make it stronger? The writer to the Hebrews says, "Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together ... but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near" (10:24-25). Your faith becomes greater as you meet together with other Christians, encourage one another in the faith, hearing God's Word proclaimed and seeing God's Word delivered to you through the Sacraments. Through these means, your light shines in the world to reveal Jesus to those around you. Revealing Jesus to your neighbors brings them closer to being among the number who are resurrected to everlasting life. This is the dream of mankind: to obtain everlasting life. The wonderful thing about the quest for everlasting life is that it's short. The quest is over when Jesus gives you the faith to believe in Him and His life, death and resurrection for you. Amen.