Let’s take our Bibles if we could and open them to the Book of Daniel, Daniel chapter 12 and verse 8, I guess people are celebrating that we’re almost at the end here but it does mention 1,335 days; I’m hoping it won’t take that long to cover this. The title of our message this is the Contrast Between the Righteous and the Wicked.
Daniel chapter 12 beginning at verse 8. We’re in that final section that was all given to Daniel in the sixth century, chapters 10-12. The spiritual warfare he went through before he received this vision in his 80’s was very intense, chapter 10, but he actually received this final vision, chapters 11 and 12. Daniel had seen many, many things in in this vision, most of which are in our rear view mirror in the 21st century, things that we can look back and validate and say yes, these prophecies have been literally fulfilled.
But beginning in chapter 11:36 Daniel leaps forward in his prophecies and he begins to talk about things that are yet future from the 21st century, at least from the date we are living in today in the 21st century, things about a future antichrist, tribulation period, and millennial kingdom. And we find ourselves for the last several Sundays in chapter 12 which involves two things. Number one, we’ve seen a description of the end times, verses 1-4. And then beginning last week we saw part two which is the duration of the end times; 1-4 is a description, 5-13 the duration because it sort of takes place as two questions are asked and answered involving length and days and time.
We saw last week verses 5-7, round one in the question and answer cycle as one angel asks another angel what will be the outcome of these things. And we saw last week, verses 5-7, that it will involve two things; number one, the shattering of the power of the holy people, God bringing the nation of Israel to the end of herself so she realizes her need for her Messiah. And that is going to take place in the second half, primarily, of the tribulation period.
And now we move into the final round of question and answers and this is where the book ends, with this cycle of round two of question and answer. Notice the question beginning in verse 8, and then there’s an answer given in verses 9-13. Notice, if you will, verse 8, “As for me, I heard but could not understand; so I said, ‘My lord, what will be the outcome of these events?”’ Now in the prior round of question and answers what we discover is one angel asks another angel a question concerning length… when? And now it’s a little bit different; it’s not the angel asking another angel about length, it’s Daniel asking an angel. Remember there’s a third angel there; two angels on the Tigris, one of those angels asks the third angel hovering over the waters, a question, verses 5-7, that is answered in that unit, verse 7.
And now it changes a little bit, slightly, where Daniel now gets into the question and asking habit and he asks this third angel another question but Daniel’s question seems to be more related to not when but what or how. And what we have now in verses 9-13 is the answer. Now don’t celebrate because we’re not quite finished with the Book of Daniel because this answer has five parts to it.
Number 1, we have an answer related to progressive illumination, verse 9. Number 2, which is probably where we’re going to be spending most of our time this morning, we have an answer related to the contrast in understanding between the righteous and the wicked in the last days, verse 10. Number 3, we have an answer related to the preparation of the millennial temple, verse 11. Number 4, we have an answer related to preparation for the millennial kingdom, verse 12. And then finally the book concludes with Daniel’s predicted inheritance, how he indeed will enter his rest and rise at his allotted time and enter into his portion in the millennial kingdom.
But notice the first part of this answer, beginning there in verse 9. Notice the answer that’s given by the angel hovering over the waters. “He said to me,” how would you like this for an answer? “Go your way, Daniel, for these words are concealed and sealed up until the end time.” Now one of the things you need to do to understand verse 9 is you have to sort of connect it with verse 4 which we studied a few Sundays back. Verse 4 and verse 9 basically go together in contributing an important thought. Let’s read the verses together.
“But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time; many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase.” Verse 9, “Go your way, Daniel, for these words are concealed and sealed up until the end time.” And a few Sundays ago when we were in verse 4 I tried to communicate the point that it’s very common for people to misinterpret verse 4 and to understand it as some sort of prophecy about technology advancing in the last days. Going to and fro is typically interpreted as people taking cruises or flying on airplanes, or using cyberspace. And there are verses which do give light on technology in the last days.
We went through some of those but I’m convinced that that is not what that particular verse is talking about. Rather, to my understanding going to and fro, back and forth, is reading, not taking a cruise, not traveling on an airplane. And I get that by cross-referencing it to another prophet, Amos 8:12, where Amos predicts, “People will stagger from sea to sea and from the north even to the east; They will go to and fro” see how that’s the same kind of language, seeking what? Not getting on a boat, not getting on a plane, not surfing the internet, but “to seek the word of the LORD, but they will not find it.”
So going “to and fro” in Daniel’s prophecy is essentially people, as these prophecies are about to happen, as it becomes obvious that the world is drifting towards the fulfillment of these prophecies people suddenly will look at the prophetic sections of Scripture and they will start to become very interested in them. They will crack open Bibles that perhaps they’ve never read in their entire lives and start to give attention to the prophetic content of Scripture because they can sense that something is about to happen and that the world has finally caught up to what the Bible predicts. And knowledge will increase. What knowledge? Facebook, aircraft, internet? No, knowledge of prophecy will increase.
In other words, God has designed prophecy to become not progressively revealed, it’s always been there, but progressively more and more clear, progressively more and more comprehensible, progressively more and more understandable as the human race is drifting to the time period when the things predicted in the Book of Daniel will happen.
Daniel, you’re living in the sixth century B.C.; you want all the answers but the reality of the situation is you’re not meant to have these answers. You’ve done your job, you have recorded the vision now go your way, seal it up and leave it to the work of the Holy Spirit in a distant generation to unpack, to unfold, to reveal the things that you have been shown in this vision.
It is very interesting to me that Daniel was told to conceal the vision. John, 600 years later on the island of Patmos in the final book that comprises the end of the New Testament, called the Book of Revelation, at the very end of the book it tells John to do the exact opposite. Revelation 22:10, the angel “ said to me, ‘Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.’” Daniel is told to conceal it up, put it way, go your way; 600 years later John was told to unseal it.
The best way to look at this is you have to look at all of God’s Word as sort of a giant jigsaw puzzle. Daniel was given just a few pieces, very important pieces, of that jigsaw puzzle but it was like a jigsaw puzzle with an incomplete picture with pieces missing. Daniel you’re not going to make heads or tails of this or be able to. But here comes John in the Book of Revelation, here come the New Testament writers and they start filling in the gaps. Here’s the missing piece here, here’s the missing piece there, here’s the missing piece there and so by the time the Book of Revelation is given you have a complete picture.
Daniel never had the complete picture so Daniel is told to seal and conceal; John is told to do the exact opposite, to unseal. And there is an added bonus as well; the picture which is now complete really wouldn’t be fully understood or grasped until the human race gets closer and closer and closer to the time period when these things will be fulfilled. This is how God has designed His prophetic truth. This is how God has designed His prophetic Word. This is why the prophets themselves, in the Old Testament, concerning the things related to Christ, even in His first coming, really could not make heads or tails of those prophecies.
1 Peter 1:10-11 says this, “As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries,  seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.” Isaiah received a vision of the crucified Christ and simultaneously he received a vision of the glorified Christ, Isaiah 53 is the crucified Christ; Isaiah 9:6-7 is the glorified ruling and reigning Christ. And put yourself in Isaiah’s shoes; he would say to the Holy Spirit, he would say to the Lord, well which one is it? You’re giving me conflicting visions here.
Now we, in hindsight, because we’re living in a different time period, can look back and say oh, I see what’s happening, Isaiah 53 is the first coming of Christ; Isaiah 9:6-7 is the future coming of Christ, the second advent of Christ. Hindsight is 20/20, Amen! Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, they didn’t have the advantage of hindsight so they were told you can’t understand it, you can’t figure it out, just seal it and conceal it and put it away and God is going to make it clear to a future, distant generation.
This is why in Judaism there was this idea that there’s going to be two Messiah’s, one they called Ben Joseph, after the sufferings of Joseph; the other one they called Ben David after the kingship and regal authority of David. They thought there were going to be two Messiahs that were going to show up simultaneously, one was going to suffer, one was going to rule and reign, because they didn’t have the chronology right. They didn’t have hindsight, history on their side. They weren’t living in the right period of time and so while they gave us an accurate message it was sort of something to them that was not understandable, not comprehensible.
But isn’t it interesting how we, just by virtue of the time period we’re living in, can look back and see exactly what was meant. What we’re seeing is a fulfillment of what Daniel is given instruction to do here, seal it up, conceal it, people will go back and forth, they will run to and fro and knowledge will increase. This is how God has designed His Word.
This is why when you study church history, the doctrine of eschatology, fancy word there, simple meaning, is the last doctrine to be really understood and systematized and developed by the church. Eschatos means last or end, “ology” of course you recognize as the study of. Eschatology is what does the Bible reveal about the end? And you’ll notice that the church really was not wrestling with that early on; they were dealing with other issues, like the biblical canon, what books go into the Bible and which ones don’t. Like the doctrine of Christ, like the atonement, or issues of salvation. And after all of those get sort of debated and argued and fine-tuned, finally the church gives itself to the study of eschatology and why is eschatology the last doctrine to be understood and systematized? Simply because Daniel said, as he is given this prophecy, that’s the way it would work out, that’s the way it will unfold.
And so, beloved, what we’re sitting on top of here is a virtual gold mine of information. Not only do we have the completed jigsaw puzzle with all the pieces put into place but we’re even living, I believe, in the general time period when these things very well could be happening. So we have privileges today that those in prior ages simply did not have and that’s why this Book, the prophetic content of this Book is an absolute gift from God. Now there are those that go too far and claim they know everything there is to know today about the end times. If the Lord tarries the next generation will come and will understand it a lot better than we understand it.
And of course the very people in the tribulation period itself will have the best understanding. Right, because this is how God has designed His Word; it becomes progressively unsealed, not in terms of revelation but in terms of illumination as you get closer and closer and closer to the time period when these things are predicted. This is why this interest that you have today in people to return to the early Church Fathers, like in the emerging church, want to go back to the mystics and the monks and I won’t believe something unless John Calvin says it’s true. Well, I appreciate the contributions of John Calvin but let me tell you something about John Calvin—he didn’t understand anything about eschatology; it’s evident from his writings. I mean, he’s wrong on virtually everything even though he and Martin Luther gave us great truth in the doctrine of salvation, the doctrine of atonement, doctrine of Christ, doctrine of the canon of Scripture, when it comes to eschatology these guys, if I can be nice about it, are pretty much out to lunch.
Why is that? Because that’s what God said would happen. So your authority is not the Bible plus Luther plus Calvin; it’s the Bible period! You should not feel ashamed about believing something even if it doesn’t show up anywhere in church history; if you can find it in the Bible it’s true and God is saying don’t expect church history to be littered with a lot of truth, particularly in the realm of eschatology. I love studying the Church Fathers but let me tell you something, when the Church Fathers depart from the Bible I depart from the Church Fathers. The Church Fathers, the earliest Church Fathers after the apostles believed some of the craziest ideas that can be believed, ideas that have no basis in the Bible, like infant baptism. Martin Luther himself believed in that; not a shred of evidence in the Bible to support that.
Others believed in baptismal regeneration, that you are saved and brought to life through the sacrament of baptism. I’ve been reading the Bible for a long time, I can’t find any such doctrine in the Bible. I can respect the contributions of any human being but your ultimate authority is the Scripture; Sugar Land Bible Church, Sola Scriptura, Scripture by itself, Scripture alone, particularly on this topic because God says it’s going to be obscure until the pieces of the puzzle are added and you drift to the very end in fulfillment of these things.
So Daniel go your way, you’ve done your job, you’ve recorded what you’re asked to record, stop asking questions, put it away, let a distant generation of believers handle that issue. Daniel, we’ll see in verse 13, you’re secure, you will arise in the resurrection to your allotted inheritance. You’ve done your job.
But there are people that will get it in the future and who are those people? I’m glad you asked. By the way, I like this quote from Isaac Newton, I like to use this a lot. Isaac Newton, of course, a great scientist but also a great Bible student; Isaac Newton of these verses said, “About the time of the end, a body of men will be raised up who will turn their attention to prophecies and insist upon their literal interpretation” look at this, “in the midst of much clamor and opposition.” You get the feeling that Isaac Newton was reading Daniel chapter 12, verses 8 and 9 because verse 9 is going to describe two reactions, two reactions to the prophetic content of God’s Word in the last days. [Daniel 12:8, “As for me, I heard but could not understand; so I said, “My lord, what will be the outcome of these events?”  He said, “Go your way, Daniel, for these words are concealed and sealed up until the end time.”]
The generation that’s supposed to understand it is going to react to it in two ways and those two ways are described in verse 10, as we see in verse 10 a contrast between the righteous and the wicked. Notice, if you will, Daniel 12:10, ““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.” I like, and I’m so grateful for the first part here, verses 10 where it says “Many will be purged, purified and refined….” I’m grateful for that clause because so many times when we study the end times we think about the destruction. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s going to be a tremendous time of destruction. Jesus, in Matthew 24:21-22 talks about a period of unparalleled distress that’s never happened from the beginning of time and it will never be replicated. [Matthew 24:21-22, “For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.  Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.”]
The Book of Revelation talks about a time period when half of the world’s population will be wiped out. And isn’t it interesting that in the midst of all of this destruction God is going to do something supernatural to the inhabitants of planet earth, where it says here in verse 10, “Many” that to me seems like a lot of people, “will be purged, purified and refined,” now isn’t that just like God to do something like that? Isn’t it just like God to take human difficulties and tragedies and turn it around for something good? Let me ask you a basic question: when are the times in your life as a Christian when you’ve grown the most? I mean, do we grow the most on the plateaus and the mountain top experiences of life? I can tell you from personal testimony I love the mountain top experiences, in fact, I’d rather just stay there, thank you very much, but that is not where most of the spiritual growth ever has taken place in my life. It’s in the valleys between the mountain top experiences; that’s where the growth happens.
God, I believe, gives both; I believe He gives mountain top experiences but He’s also the author of the valleys and we need to learn to embrace both. There are things that come into our lives and we have absolutely no control over but we can trust in the fact that God is in control and He’s allowed this, for whatever reason, to develop character in us.
And so in the midst of this end time destruction is going to come a tremendous time period, verse 10, of purging, purifying and refining. I can’t think of a greater gift than the purification, you’ll notice the word “purification” here, of Jesus Christ and what he offers. 1 John 1:7 says, “The blood of Jesus, His Son, cleanses us from” 95% of our sin… it doesn’t say that does it, “The blood of Jesus, His Son, cleanses us from all sin.” You say what does “all” mean? You ready for this? It’s very academic… all means all! Like in Texas we don’t say Ya’all, we say all Ya’all. John is saying all Ya’all, all sinned. That would be past sins. That would be present sins. And that would be what? Future sins.
And “in Christ” we have a complete pardon of those sins. It doesn’t mean we should go back to sin, but even as a Christian you go back into sin which we still have an ability to do, Amen! It covers all of those sins as well. I’m not here to whitewash sin and make it sound like sin doesn’t have consequences, it always does. But in terms of eternal retribution all of our sins have been paid for, past, present and future. And God is going to use the end time itself and the great duress planet earth will experience to bring to many, verse 10, purging, purifying and refining. [Daniel 12:10, “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.”]
Now who’s the “many”? The “many” is often used as a reference to the nation of Israel. You’ll find it used that way in Daniel 9:27 and Daniel 11:33. [Daniel 9:27, “And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.” Daniel 11:33, “Those who have insight among the people will give understanding to the many; yet they will fall by sword and by flame, by captivity and by plunder for many days.”]
We know that the nation of Israel, the remnant, the survivors, will be converted to Christ. Romans 11:26 says, “So all Israel will be saved.” Zechariah 12:10 says, “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.” That is the divine blueprint in store for Israel yet future. She is the only nation that I know of in the Bible that is promised a revival that’s so encompassing that it will affect the last man or woman standing. Every Jew is saved at a particular point in the outworking of God’s purposes. And that may be what Daniel is referring to here, verse 10, when he says, “the many” or “Israel” will be purged, purified and refined. And we would say to ourselves well, that’s enough, isn’t it?
But what you learn about God is it’s not just grace, it’s grace upon grace, grace lavished in unprecedented ways and during this time period not only will the nation of Israel experience salvation but many, many, many, many, many Gentiles will be saved as well. How do I know that? It’s in the Book of Revelation, chapter 7, verse 9. It says, “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands.” Verse 13, “Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?”  I said to him, ‘My lord, you know.’ And he said to me, ‘These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.’”
These people, an innumerable multitude, not just Jews, from every nation, are clothed in white robes in the Book of Revelation. It’s very clear here they’re not clothed with their own good works, they’re clothed in “white,” Revelation 14:7 “in the blood of the Lamb.” What is this referring to here? This is referring to a conversion that is so widespread it pales every other revival that’s ever happened in human history, and there have been some great ones. Going back to the day of Pentecost where 3,000 people were saved; that’s just small potatoes compared to the harvest of souls that’s coming.
In fact, I believe this, there will probably be in the time of this distress more people saved during that time period than have ever been saved in all of human history combined. Can I necessarily prove that from the Bible? No, it’s just sort of private thought that you take it to the Lord and see if you think that’s true, but that’s what I believe. It’s a stunning work of the Holy Spirit of conversion.
And it’s interesting to me, how is God going to do this? I mean, what is the tool that God is going to use to bring about, not just the national conversion of His elect nation but this giant throng of people coming to Christ by faith alone. It’s the tool God always uses. God’s greatest tool that He has to get our attention is adversity. God has a lot of tools but you have to admit this, that’s the tool He uses pretty effectively. Would you not agree? I mean, Jonah didn’t get himself straightened out until he was in the belly of the fish. God has ways of getting the attention of people that He loves, that He died for, that need to come to know Him personally.
And let me tell you something, there’s nothing that causes you to turn to God faster than an earthquake. You say how do you know that? I was raised in California, earthquakes are very common, but there’s nothing that gets your attention faster than the earth shaking beneath your feet. In fact, as an earthquake is taking place watch the people reporting it on television. I mean, they don’t even know what to do with themselves it’s such an awe inspiring thing. The earth shaking under your feet is a reminder that you don’t have any control of anything. We think we’re in control, we don’t have any control. The problem is us, we think we have control, it’s a myth or an allusion and so God oftentimes will send all kinds of things to get people’s attention. And as the seals and trumpets and bowl judgments are being poured out, as the human race is experiencing things, according to the words of Christ, that they’ve never experienced before in human history, let me tell you, they’re going to get God conscious real fast. And God is going to use that event to awaken them to the need for the gospel which will be faithfully presented by the 144,000 Jewish evangelists.
I mean, look at this country for example, when 9/11 happened. I mean, do you recall when 9/11 happened? That was on a Tuesday, wasn’t it, if I remember right. Do you remember the state of the churches the following Sunday? I mean, that event created a growth in the church, at least for that Sunday and a couple following, that the church growth gurus have been trying to create for a long time. How do we get the church to grow? God says here’s how you do it, 9/11; that’ll grow the church. And you have all of these people that normally would have no interest in spiritual things are suddenly showing up at your church wondering what you have to say about this. And sadly a lot of pastors didn’t take advantage of the opportunity, they just taught about their usual lesson of the day. But other pastors explained these things, explained the myth of human control and how people can come to know Christ personally. That is what is being described here when Daniel says in verse 10, “Many will be purged and purified and refined.”
A lot of people are going to figure it out and get it and their heart is going to be open and receptive to the gospel. Just a quick question; has God sent any earthquakes into your life lately? Has some things happened in your life that you don’t have any control over and you wonder what in the world is going on. We see those things as enemies; we see those things as intruders. The reality of the situation is those things are in your life because of the love of God for you and me, because we are so stubborn in our natural selves, we are so deceived by the illusion of control and God loves us too much to see us walk in self-deception and walk right into hell in the process that He’ll send these issues and these problems and these difficulties. And what you may be experiencing is going to be happening on a grand scale yet future.
And you would think everybody would figure it out, wouldn’t you? I mean, 9/11 happened, the churches were full only for two, three or four Sundays then attendance went back down to what it normally is. I mean, my goodness, 9/11 we had Republicans and Democrats singing God Bless America holding hands on the capitol steps; when has that ever happened? And it was wonderful to see, it only lasted about a week though. And you see, Daniel is giving the other side of this picture; there will be “Many,” praise God for that, that will be “purified, refined and purged” but there’s another reaction in people.
That other reaction is described in verse 10. Your trials are going to do one of two things; they’re going to drive you to God or away from God. The same sun that melts is the same sun that dries the clay. Your trials will make you better or they’ll make you bitter. There’s always, when the hand of God moves in someone’s life there’s always two polarizing reactions. Daniel has given us the happy side, verse 10, “Many will be purged, purified and refined,” but notice the conjunction “but,” “but the wicked will act wickedly;” the wicked will do what wicked people always do. They’ll just fulfill their job description and when this time of adversity comes they will just plunge into greater and greater levels of depravity and wickedness.
You say does the Bible teach that about the end times? Notice Revelation 9:20-21, “The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk;  and they did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality nor of their thefts.”
Cheer up folks, it gets worse. Revelation 16:9, towards the end of these judgments, it says, “Men were scorched with fierce heat;” and what do they to, “and they blasphemed the name of God who has the power over these plagues, and they did not repent so as to give Him glory.”
Revelation 16:11 says, “and they blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores; and they did not repent of their deeds.” Revelation 16:21 says, “And huge hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, came down from heaven upon men;” and what did men do in the midst of these things, do they repent? Do they show contrition? Do they humble themselves in front of the presence of the power of an Almighty God that they know is controlling these events? No, they “blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, because its plague was extremely severe.”
You know God worked in the Exodus event, didn’t He? And every time a judgment hit, you know the Scripture well, Pharaoh hardened his heart against God. You see the intervention of God in judgment in a person’s life, or even in divine discipline; it’s going to produce either of those two results; it either brings out Revelation 7, conversion, contrition, a soft heart, or it just makes people angry at God and they grow in their anger.
In fact, it’s interesting that as these judgments break out, Revelation 6:15 says this, “Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains.” There people are portrayed as hiding from God which is bad enough, but by the time you get to the end of the Book of Revelation, chapter 19, they’re not even hiding any more. Revelation 19:19 says, “And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.” One of the stick early no they’re hiding from God as their hearts become progressively hardened, they go out at the end of it and they fight God. Now how smart is that, to fight God? It’s incomprehensible stupidity to put yourself against your Creator and Redeemer, someone who is omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent. They don’t even want to hide from Him anymore, they’re going to go out and fight Him and stop Him from coming back. That’s the progression of the human heart in the midst of these things.
May I just say to you that is the normal progress of the wicked. That’s why, as you go through life it gets more and more difficult to come to Christ. If you’ve never done it, it gets harder. Why is that? Because of the depravity of the human heart. I mean, you would think that people, as they become old, as they become infirm, as their body starts to break down, you would think that their hearts would, if they’re not saved already, become more and more open to the things of God. But often what you discover is the exact opposite; as many of these folks are looking at death’s door their heart is more hard and more recalcitrant than it’s ever been. That’s why your Bible says “today is the day of salvation.” [2 Corinthians 6:2, “for He says, ‘AT THE ACCEPTABLE TIME I LISTENED TO YOU, AND ON THE DAY OF SALVATION I HELPED YOU. ’Behold, now is ‘THE ACCEPTABLE TIME,’ behold, now is ‘THE DAY OF SALVATION ‘ ]
Oh, I’ll do it tomorrow, I’ll do it next week, I’ll do it next month, I’ll do it next year, maybe you will, but let me tell you something, if I’m understanding my Bible correctly it’s going to be more difficult, not difficult for God, difficult for you to receive the grace of God. That’s why I am so glad that the Word got hold of me at such a young age, age 16, before I had the opportunity to royally screw up my life, and I have the same depraved heart you have, I would have made a complete shambles of my life. I would probably be bearing in my body and in my soul the consequences of the whirlwind of sin I would have gotten myself into. And here I am at the age of 51, largely shielded from things that other people are now walking through because of a conversion and a call into discipleship at an early age.
You know, I’ll tell you, I like a lot of things about Sugar Land Bible Church but here’s something I really like: I like the fact that we’ve got all these kids coming to this church. I like the fact that we’ve got a children’s program. You know, a lot of churches they don’t even have a children’s program. A lot of churches there’s no children, did you know that? A lot of churches will look at me and say well, you need to be a member of the youth group because they’re lost sight of the vision, they’ve lost sight of the idea that we need to reach these kids at an early age. I love the fact that we’re already planning VBS and have been planning it for months in advance. I want to see all these kids come to know Jesus Christ before they go off into the devil’s world and sew to the flesh and reap the whirlwind.
That’s why the Bible says “Today is the day of salvation.” [2 Corinthians 6:2, “for He says, ‘AT THE ACCEPTABLE TIME I LISTENED TO YOU, AND ON THE DAY OF SALVATION I HELPED YOU.’ Behold, now is ‘THE ACCEPTABLE TIME,’ behold, now is ‘THE DAY OF “SALVATION. ‘”]
Hebrews 3:7-8 says, “7Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, ‘TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE,  DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME, AS IN THE DAY OF TRIAL IN THE WILDERNESS.”
Hebrews 3:12-13, “Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God.  But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”
You see what’s happening here? Deal with the issue today; if it’s personal salvation deal with it now. Or maybe you’re saved and not walking with the Lord and the Lord keeps putting His hand on something in your life saying this has to change under My power. Oh, I’ll do that next year. Let me tell you something; you might be able to do it next year under His grace but it’s going to be more difficult than dealing with it this year because that’s the nature of sin. That’s the nature of depravity. That’s the nature of the human heart. This is what Daniel is saying in verse 10, but the wicked will act wickedly even while others are being purified and purged and refined. [Daniel 12:10, “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.”]
Which one describes you? Are you today in that group that’s being purged and purified and refined or are you in that second group that’s just continuing to act wickedly, thinking that somehow sin can be negotiated with. Let me tell you something about sin; sin is of such a power that we don’t have the foggiest idea how to contain it; we think we do but we don’t. Sin is of such a power that Jesus Christ, the Second Member of the Trinity, had to enter this world to deal with the consequences of sin. You think you can negotiate with sin? Do you think I can negotiate with sin? There’s a reason why God said to the Israelites under Joshua that were entering Canaan, and we know about the wickedness and depravity of the Canaanites, God said kill every single Canaanite, even the women and the children. And in the Samuel books God says wipe out the animals, eliminate and eradicate because if you don’t do exactly what I say the day is going to come where those Canaanites and their wicked philosophies and lifestyles, you’re not going to control them, they’re going to control you.
And isn’t it interesting how the nation of Israel went into that land for 800 years and suffered right up to the days of the Babylonian deportation because Judges 1, they didn’t do what God said to do. There’s stuff going on, perhaps in your life God is saying now this has to be dealt with. Oh, I’ve got it under control, God. Next month, next year, next decade, and God is saying if you understood the nature of what you’re playing with, how you’re playing with fire, you don’t even want to know what your life is going to be like a year from now. That thing is going to have the upper hand over you.
So “many will be purged,” “the wicked will do wickedly,” notice also verse 10, what happens to the spiritual understanding, remember this is a context of understanding, people in the last days will understand, but not everybody. “Many will be purged, purified and refined, but the wicked will act wickedly;” and look at this, “and none of the wicked will understand,” isn’t it interesting that when a person severs themselves from God and goes deeper and deeper and deeper into depravity their capacity to understand rudimentary spiritual ideas also deteriorates. It’s all in the Book of Romans, chapter 1.
Romans 1:18, which says, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who” do what? they “suppress the truth in unrighteousness,” So what happens to their minds? Verse 21, “For even though they knew God they did not honor Him as God and give thanks but they became futile” where “in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” Their intellect started to disintegrate.
Verse 22, “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.” Is that not 21st century America? Is that not your person that has walked through life rejecting over and over again the grace of God? They think they’re the smartest people in the world and yet what your Bible is saying is as you move away from God your capacity to understand basic spiritual concepts remains a mystery. This is not a battle of intelligence, you can’t talk someone into Christianity because you’ve got better arguments than them, because they’re corrupted mind doesn’t have the ability to even understand your superiorities. This is a condition of the heart; the heart determines thoughts.
2 Timothy 3:7, of the last days of people, “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” They understand all kinds of technological electronic things, they’re on those devices 24/7, beeping and twittering and posting and all of those things you do there, sharing their depraved thoughts with everybody around the world, thinking they’re so intelligent when in reality they don’t even understand why they exist. They don’t even understand Jesus who is the focal point of history, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. It doesn’t matter how many degrees you have after your name, what schools you’ve graduated from, what kind of technological abilities you think you have, if you don’t understand who Jesus is you don’t even understand what history is about.
Psalm 14:1 says, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” We think atheism, and by the way, there’s a great resurgence today of atheism in America; bestselling books, runaway best sellers are now being written by atheists and we say to ourselves, wow, they’re so smart, they’re so deep, they’re so intellectual. Psalm 14:1, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God!’” If you can’t even acknowledge the fact that you were brought into existence by divine design, that is the height of folly. 2 Peter 3:5 says this: “For this” now I’m quoting the NKJB because I think the NKJB better translates 2 Peter 3:5, it says, “For this they willfully forget that by the Word of God the heavens were of old and the earth standing out of water in water.”
What have they done? They’ve pushed two things out of their minds: number one, creation, number two, flood. Can I add a third? Number 2, second coming. The NKJV says they “willfully forget these things.” It’s the Greek verb thelo which means wish or desire; they’ve pushed these things out of their minds and they’ve drifted into intellectual moral and spiritual darkness. This is what Daniel is saying, “Many will be purged, and purified, and refined, but the wicked will act wickedly; and none of the wicked will understand,” but I’m so happy verse 10 ends on a positive note, “but those who have insight will understand.” As these things are coming forth on planet earth, as we now have a complete jigsaw puzzle, as God is gradually and progressively making His prophetic word more and more understandable the majority of the wicked, the wicked themselves will not get it, will not understand it, but those who have insight will understand.
The righteous will understand it. Why is that? Because of Proverbs 1:7, probably one of the most misquoted verses in the Bible. Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning,” it doesn’t say wisdom, now it may say wisdom elsewhere, later in Proverbs, but at the beginning of the Book of Proverbs, Proverbs 1:7 it says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,” because how can you have wisdom, knowledge applied, unless you first have what? Knowledge. How do you get knowledge? How do you get smart? How do you get bright? You submit to the authority of God, that’s what you do. You come to God and His Word and you say to Him, you know Lord, I’ve got a bunch of thoughts about this issue but Your Word says something different and I don’t know how, when or why but I’m going to submit to your authority in my thought process and in my daily life, and will You please give me the grace to fulfill this high calling. The moment that happens is the moment your knowledge takes off. See that?
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” why? Because your mind is working the way God intended it to work. God never designed us to live in independence from Him. The more you’re living in independence from Him is the more we are living outside of our design. If you’re living outside of your design the blueprint doesn’t work right; the machinery doesn’t work right. But you start living for the purpose for which you were created and suddenly the mind and its ability to understand the things of God begins to accelerate.
See, if you are exactly at the same place in 2018 knowledge wise that you were at in 2017 the issue is not intelligence; the issue is you have to look very carefully at your heart. Are you in submission to the authority of the Word of God in all areas? If that is not happening then the knowledge, the spiritual understanding is short-circuited. See that, because “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” And how foolish we are in the United States, we’re trying to educate multiple generations now having kicked God out of every school. How do you do that? How do you educate people without God when the Bible says “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.” [Proverbs 1:7] You can’t understand anything without God because He is the sum total in the purpose of history.
You say well, gee, pastor, you’ve got some weird ideas. That’s why I like to quote people, just so you don’t think I make this stuff up. The great prophecy scholar, John Walvoord, said this concerning Daniel 12:10: “The understanding of prophecy peculiarly requires spiritual insight and the teaching of the Holy Spirit. Even though the Scriptures describe in great detail the time of the end, it is obvious that the wicked will not avail themselves of this divine revelation; but it will be a source of comfort and direction to those who are true believers in God. Divine revelation is often given in such a way that it is hid to the wicked even though it is understandable by those spiritually minded.” [John Walvoord, Daniel Commentary, Page 294]
Two groups here, the contrast between the righteous and the wicked; a very basic question, which one are you? I mean, of these two reactions the same [can’t understand word] that both melts and hardens where are you in this whole thing. I mean, maybe you’re here today having never entered into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ at all because no one’s ever explained it to you. Jesus Christ fixed the problem between man and God. That’s what He did; He is a problem solver. He solved the biggest problem that needed to be solved, man in his sinfulness, woman in her sinfulness, is alienated from God, fixed with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
There’s nothing you can do to fix the problem other than to receive what He has done. And the only way to receive what He has done is by faith. So if the Spirit of God is convicting you our exhortation here at SUGAR LAND BIBLE CHURCH is to receive what Jesus has done in your place. It’s not something you have to raise a hand to do, walk an aisle to do, join a church to do, give money to do, it’s a matter of privacy between you and the Lord where you trust in His provision. And maybe you’ve done that a long time ago and you are saved.
But what about some of these other issues in the walk of progressive sanctification? What about the things that the Lord keeps nagging you over and over about, whatever it may be, and He’s saying you know, for you to reach full stature in Christ this has got to be brought under control. What about that? The exhortation is to respond to the authority of God’s Word, the authority of the Holy Spirit and in authenticity ask God to help you with this, that or the other, either a sin of commission, a repetitious sin of omission, whatever it is, I don’t know everything that goes on in people’s hearts and I don’t want to know, I have enough trouble keeping track of my own depraved sick heart. But I know from personal experience there are things God wants to deal with me concerning… and I have no corner on God, if God is at work that way in my life why wouldn’t it work that way in your life?
How are you responding to that? Are you responding the way a righteous person does with insight or are you just going to backpedal and disintegrate into sin and rebellion with intellectual and spiritual dissipation and enter heaven smelling the smoke on your garments. You say well, the Bible doesn’t teach that. Yes it does, 1 Corinthians 3:15. [1 Corinthians 3:15, “If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”]
It’s a very simple application, which one of these are you, a message for the unbeliever, a message for the believer as we looked this morning at the contrast between the wicked and the righteous. Now what did Mrs. Reame teach in 8th grade English Composition? Mrs. Reame, that’s quite a name for an English teacher, was my English composition teacher, 8th grade, and I can still hear her voice ringing in my ears when I turned in a paper or a story, she said never introduce a new idea in your conclusion. I mean, when you’re concluding it’s over, don’t throw a bomb out at the end. And what does Daniel to? He didn’t take her class apparently because he throws out not one bomb but two. One is called 1290 days, and one is called 1,335 days. I thought the whole thing was supposed to be over at the end of 1260 days, the second half of the tribulation period. And all of a sudden he throws two new numbers here.
How do we make any sense of that? Next time we are together, Lord willing, we’ll try to make sense of these additional 75 days because first Christ comes back and then the kingdom… right? WRONG! We need to change our doctrinal statement. First Christ comes back and then there’s 75 days and then there’s the kingdom. How’s that for an airtight doctrinal statement. And what is going to happen in this 75 day interval? We’ll see about that next time. Shall we pray.
Father, we are grateful for Your truth, Your Word, the warnings it gives us, the encouragement it gives us. I pray that we will walk these things out this week under Your Spirit and Your direction. We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said…. Amen.