Shine Like Stars in the Darkness (Daniel 12)
In the weeks following All Saints' Day, we take the opportunity to look toward the Last Day. The Day of Jesus' return. The Day of the resurrection of all flesh. The Day we enter Heaven. For that Day,
- GOD CALLS US TO SHINE LIKE STARS IN THE DARKNESS.
We shine like stars because we have the Light of Christ within us. In our Baptism, we were clothed with Christ, "the Light of the world" (John 8:12). He calls us also to be light for the world. A city set on a hill. "Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in Heaven" (Matthew 5:14-16). Shining not like "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." God will "make you to shine like the sun" (LSB #727.refrain). To flood the surrounding darkness like the rising sun as it drives away night's darkness.
St. Michael rises above the trouble (v1). He is "the great prince who has charge of your people" (v1). The chief archangel who encourages Christians in the battle against the powers of darkness (Revelation 12:7-9). "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12). These enemies require an ally equal to the task on your side. Michael has spent all of time battling Satan and his demons. He cast Satan out of Heaven (Luke 10:18). He argued with Satan over Moses' body on Mount Pisgah (Jude 9; Deuteronomy 34). He will defeat Satan once and for all in the final battle in Heaven (Revelation 12:7-9).
Michael encourages us to SHINE LIKE STARS IN THE DARKNESS of our present trouble. He stands beside us as we pray with Luther: "Let Your holy angel be with us that the evil foe may have no power over us." You shine because you have been delivered from the trouble. You have been delivered because your name is in the Book of Life (v1). The book opened on the Last Day as Jesus sits on His Great White Throne to judge all creation (Revelation 20:12). The book with the names of all those who will inherit Heaven (Revelation 3:5).
"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful" (Hebrews 10:23). "For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let Your holy one see corruption" (Psalm 16:10). With this promise of not seeing corruption, we have Luther's "right way to study theology" from his preface to his preface to the Wittenberg edition of his writings: tentatio, meditatio, oratio. Suffering, meditation, prayer. We fight against the devil's attacks (tentatio) by meditating upon God's Word (meditatio) and prayer (oratio). Through these spiritual practices, we "hold fast the confession of our hope" as St. Michael and the rest of the angels encourage us to do (Hebrews 10:23). "His oath, His covenant and blood support me in the raging flood; when every earthly prop gives way, He then is all my hope and stay" (LSB #575.3).
"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" (v2). We confess, "I look for the resurrection of the dead." We confess that every person who has ever died on the face of the earth will be resurrected. In Hebrew, "many" is a synonym for "all". When Daniel says, "Many of those who sleep," he means "all of those who sleep." Not like at the cemetery outside Bethany, where Jesus said, "Lazarus, come out!" (John 11:43). Simply, "Come out!" Then every grave will open. Everyone will be judged by Jesus. Everyone will receive their eternal reward (LSB #508.3). For some, shame and everlasting contempt. For you, newness of life in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:4). "For us Christ lived, for us He died, and conquered in the strife; awake, arise, go forth in faith, and Christ shall give you life" (LSB #697.4). "When I tread the verge of Jordan, bid my anxious fears subside; death of death and hell's destruction, land me safe on Canaan's side" (LSB #918.3).
Those who will rise "to shame and everlasting contempt" (v2)were too ashamed to shine with Jesus' light in this life: "So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 10:32-33). Those whom Jesus denies in His judgment have nothing left but shame. Shame eternally multiplied against the shame they had at Jesus' name in this life.
GOD MAKES US SHINE LIKE STARS IN ETERNITY.
Acknowledging Jesus in this life is acknowledging our dependence on Him. Your name is written in the Book of Life because you have taken refuge in Jesus (v1). "Awake, O sleeper, rise from death, and Christ shall give you light" (LSB #697.1). Jesus' light is the salvation of souls.
Salvation brings us around "to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near" (Hebrews 10:24-25). As we finished our sermon hymn, so we should daily pray: "O Jesus Christ, do not delay, but hasten our salvation; we often tremble on our way in fear and tribulation. O hear and grant our fervent plea; come, mighty judge, and set us free from death and every evil" (LSB #508.7). The Day is surely drawing near. Let us be prepared for it whether it is today, tomorrow, or after our earthly days are over. And let us shine like His stars now and forever. Amen.