“Flee from the wrath to come.”
That was the primary message of John Wesley as he started his field preaching. It was a good message for the people of 18th Century England. It is also a good message for the people of 21st Century America. It goes right along with Jesus’ message when he started his ministry: “Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.”
We think we are good people. This idea does not go far enough. We are not saved from our sin just so we can be good. For we have people in this world who say they are just as good as anyone else. So, we are just as good as anyone else. For we do not admit how evil we are. When we compare ourselves to others, we are just as good. But when we compare ourselves to Jesus, then we are not just as good.
Because of our disobedience toward God, we will have to suffer his wrath. God knows we were designed to be with him for all time. It has taken Jesus dying on the cross for us to realize how much it cost God to deliver us from sin. For us to get pass the wrath that is to come, we live the righteousness of God. In other words, we are free from sin and we learn to live the way God lives. This prepares us for the judgment and the future state.
A. Great anguish is coming, but God provides for his people (12:1-2)
1. Michael – the protector of the people of Israel
2. Time of anguish – the hardest time
3. Daniel’s people will be delivered – because their names are written in the book
4. Two possibilities at the end
a. Awake to everlasting life (Eternal life)
b. Awake to everlasting contempt (Endless condemnation)
5. This ancient prophecy has yet to be fulfilled. So we have time. We can repent of our sins. We can know how to get through times of anguish. We can persevere in Christ so as to receive eternal life
a. Yet, some don’t go beyond repenting
b. Yet, some fall back into sin
c. Yet, some won’t even repent, ever
6. As God’s grace is making us holy, we continue to believe in Jesus
7. As God’s grace is making us holy, we start to look and act like Jesus
8. This is the time and place to become holy. There is no place after death were we wait for the day of Judgment and are made holy. This is how some describe Purgatory. Our decisions now, here on earth, affect our eternity. We can live the righteousness of God, even now. But it doesn’t stop there for us. How many others will be living the righteousness of God because of us?
B. Our living like Jesus is seen by others! (12:3)
1. Let’s be wise about this idea – people see how we follow Jesus
2. When we follow Jesus, other people will want to follow Jesus
3. We will want to lead others to follow Jesus!
4. In our living, our talking, we lead others to follow Jesus
5. It is not judgmental for us to point out Jesus to other people
6. We know the joy, the love, and the grace of God
7. We talk about the joy, the love, and the grace of God
8. Since we know we have the hope of being raised to eternal life, we encourage other people to have this same hope. We know the righteousness of God, so we let other people know they too can know the righteousness of God. Much like we help our children to get ready for a trip, we help other people to get ready for a trip. As our children grow up, they learn to get ready for a trip. Soon they learn to help their children to get ready for a trip. We help our family, our neighbors, our co-workers get ready for everlasting life. Yet, there will be opposition.
C. Evil is going to increase, but we will be ready for the end (12:4)
1. Until the End comes, evil is going to increase
2. Daniel was to hold onto the book until the time of the End
3. We hold onto the practices of the Church until the time of the End
4. We celebrate Holy Communion until Jesus Christ returns
5. With evil increasing, we do the righteous thing and hold onto Jesus
6. It is by holding to the ways of Jesus during times of evil that we help each other get ready for the End. Evil will increase, but that doesn’t mean we stop trusting, hoping, and believing in Jesus. We keep ourselves open to God’s grace by going to worship, reading our Bibles, praying, and receiving Holy Communion.
Yes, there is a day of judgment coming. Some of us will receive eternal life. Some of us will receive eternal condemnation. God doesn’t want us to be condemned endlessly. We don’t want people to be condemned endlessly.
The grace of God has gotten hold of us. We know the good God has for us. We know the comfort, the protection, and the future God has for us as we follow Jesus. We know our lives can be more holy, more righteous than they are right now. So we decide to keep on following Jesus.
We want to be ready for the End. We want our family and friends to be ready for the End. As we live our lives in Christ, let us speak about the good God has done for us in Christ Jesus. Surely a few of us can shine like the stars at the End. Surely a few of us can lead many to righteousness.