The 26th Sunday after Pentecost (B)
“The Final Battle”
November 18, 2018
Sermon Text: Daniel 12:1-3
Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Dearly Beloved of the Lord,
The psalmist declares, “Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place, No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways.” (Psalm 91:9-11 NKJ)
How comforting is that! How reassuring. That we are constantly and perpetually being cared for and watched over by the Lord. We always have… always will. The Lord God takes care of His children. He takes care of His own. He takes care of us. He looks out for us… throughout our days… throughout time… to the end of time… which is our particular focus in these, the last Sundays of the Church Year.
Our text today is from the Book of Daniel. It is the Word of the Lord spoken by the Prophet Daniel in the 6th century B.C. And what is spoken of could not be more important to us and all believers. The Lord Almighty tells Daniel what will take place bringing the Old Testament era to a close as well as… are you ready for this… what will happen at the culmination of the New Testament period… the end of the world… the end times in which we now live and the last day which literally can be any day now.
All of this, amazingly, is spoken of in our text. In three verses, it is all laid out for us.
We read, “At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. 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)
Michael is the angel-prince that we learn about a couple of chapters before our text… a magnificent angelic being who watches over God’s chosen people. The very same Michael who played an important part at the beginning of time as he is the one who leads in the battle against the great dragon, the fallen angel, Satan, who rebels against God, is defeated and cast out of heaven.
And it is Michael who will watch over Daniel and the people of Israel in what would be upcoming times of tribulation. The first, at the hand of the foreign king, Antiochus IV Epiphanes who, in 167 BC, destroys the temple, the very place where God came to His people.
Some 240 years later, the temple will again be destroyed, this time at the hand of the Romans in 70 AD. That which our Lord speaks about in today’s Gospel text.
And then we get to the last tribulation, that which is yet to come… that which will soon be upon us… that which is included in what God tells Daniel in our text and which Daniel tells us, warns us about.
Of no surprise, this warning is Christ’s warning recorded in Scripture where He says,
“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
“So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak.
And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.” (Matthew 24:9-22)
This… all this… is what is coming and what in many ways is already here… partially here… partially poured out upon the world. And the sign of it being here… being upon us… is when we see “the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place,” Christ tells us.
When we see abominable things happening in the church itself, appearing to leave the church desolate of the truth.
When we see the Antichrist standing in the church, being in the church, appearing holy, righteous and right, but is anything but. He who will lead many believers astray… many believers away from the one true faith and the one true Christ. Especially those who are weak in the faith… those whose understanding of the faith… whose understanding of God’s Word… is minimal and miniscule… those who do not faithfully read and study the Bible on their own as well as with others in Bible class.
They are prime prey for Satan who prowls around like a roaring lion seeking who he may devour and the question is… are you among such prey?
My friends, there are many Antichrists who have come and those still to come during these end times from Christ’s first coming to His second coming. And the havoc that they will wreak will only intensify.
It is bad enough that it will get ugly out there… in the world. But make no mistake about it… it will get ugly also… in here… in the visible church… by those who will lead countless numbers of men, women and children astray.
By those who preach and teach that all is good… that you and I are intrinsically good… the world is good… that one need not concern themselves with sin and can live whatever lifestyle they want. That the self is really that which is most sacred… first and foremost.
Indeed, we are talking about those who will portray evil as good… that which is sinful and sick as that which is acceptable.
We are talking about those who will try to take our eyes off of Jesus… off of the cross. Those who would turn our attention away from the Word of God and have us listen instead to the words of men… words which “itching ears” want to hear.
In light of what is about to take place and is already taking place in the world and in the church, do we fear the time to come… the battles to come and the final battle when Satan and his minions are cast into the bottomless pit forever?
No. Not at all. In fact, we have peace through it all as we remember that the war has already been won… and decisively at that. Christ declared His victory on the cross in His Words, “It is finished.” And it was. It is!
But what about the trials and tribulations which still lie ahead? Its ok. The reason we do not fear the future is right here in Daniel 12. Follow along as I read it again. Let it all sink in.
“At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. 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. 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. And 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.”
There is your answer. There’s your future and mine. Sure and certain in Christ Jesus. Sealed in our baptism with our names most assuredly written “in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” (Revelation 21:27)
And so it is that we go on, move on, with Christ our victorious Lord… He who is our Good Shepherd… leading the way.
We go on… move on… indeed… attended to by Michael and all of Christ’s mighty angels. Amen.
May the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, unto life everlasting. Amen.
“The Final Battle” 11/18/18 The Rev. Mark H. Hein, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL