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Sermon: “Resurrected and Restored”
Text: (NIV) (NIV)
(story)
The prophecies of Daniel continue, as we come to the end of Daniel. While Daniel was written 25 centuries ago, we might also be able to say that he wrote about the very days in which we are living when he says, “There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then.”
One word here in Daniel really sums it up best, ‘distress.’
In these early verses of Daniel there are similar allusions to the words from the prophet Isaiah -- and his section known as the Servant Song or the Suffering Servant in and 53 (52:13–53:12). This Suffering Servant figure is resurrected and restored to a relationship with God, His people (us) also will be resurrected and restored to a relationship with Him. Sound familiar? Yes, in fact, we use this very section from , during Lent as a prophecy that refers to Jesus, as that suffering servant.
For me, this too is very significant, because the concept of an afterlife, a resurrected and restored relationship to God is foreign to Jews. I learned that just a few years ago from a Jewish rabbi. While many faiths have definitive teachings about the afterlife, Jewish teachings are surprisingly silent in regard to an afterlife. As one source states, there is no definitively Jewish explanation for what happens after we die. (Ariela Pelaia, June 07, 2017) Thus, these references to a resurrection in both Daniel and Isaiah, thus, are a bit radical to Jewish thought and become even more significant in regard to prophecy.
It is important for every Christian, “every person” to understand that this world is not eternal. It will, one day, come to an end. So what will that day be like? What can we expect at the end of time? In the days of the Old Testament, God would often speak through His prophets. And during the days of the Babylonian captivity came a man sent by God, whose name was Daniel.
One could say that even before the first coming of Jesus, Daniel was warning the world, us, to prepare for the Second Coming!
~ "Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued. (2) Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt. (3) Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever."
Think about it. What an amazing passage! Even 600 hundred years before Jesus was born in Jerusalem, Daniel was urging the people of Israel to prepare for the end of time?
While many passages of Old Testament scripture hint toward the final day of judgment, but few present it with such clarity. What can we expect at the end of days?
First of all, we can expect to be ‘resurrected.”
12:2, “those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake?”
The Day of Judgment will be the most profound day in the history of the universe. What Daniel says about Michael the Archangel, is exactly what Paul says in ,
"For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first."
Michael is the only archangel ever mentioned in the Bible, so the voice of Michael will signal the Second Coming and the end of the universe. And at the sound of the "trumpet of God" the dead will arise!
While the teachings of an afterlife in Judaism is not common, the concept is not as foreign to the Old Testament, as some would have us believe as we see in Daniel. Even Job said, "Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet, from my flesh I shall see God" (). Job knew that there would be a resurrection from the dead! These prophecies are on the cutting edge.
We have this confirmed in stories like of the funeral of Lazarus, Martha said to Him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day." (25) Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies" ().
The resurrection is an essential part of the gospel message and a key doctrine of the Christian faith. We must realize that death is not an end, but a beginning.
· Some Christians have misunderstood this teaching, and it has caused them to become very worried.
· Christians have asked me, is it wrong to be cremated? They fear not having a body at the resurrection.
· Others are afraid to donate organs, because they think that the resurrection body will then be missing parts.
We must understand that the resurrection is not "reconstruction;" the Lord doesn’t put back together the body that has turned to dust. The resurrection body is a new and glorious body!
Again and again, the words of Daniel, are echoed throughout the New Testament.
· Jesus says in : "Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, (29) and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.”
· From the rabbis a few years ago, I had learned that it is encouraged and taught that Jews are to live lives doing good; yet, the hope of an afterlife is missing for them now; but it is not missing in scripture.
Daniel goes on to describe what else we can expect on the day of judgment -- and that is, for some, they can expect?
Secondly, “retribution.”
Retribution or condemnation is something many people do not want to hear. Yet, if we talk about heaven for the resurrected, we must face the facts on what awaits the condemned. We all know that there are consequences to our actions. Even Daniel points it out.
· 12:2, Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake? to disgrace and everlasting contempt.
· Hell is described in many different terms in the Bible, but the most common term is FIRE. Yet, I like the definition of hell as ‘separation from God.’
· We too have heard it said, that those who chose to reject the Gospel of Jesus Christ, will be raised to "everlasting disgrace and contempt."
· And this is where the million-dollar question comes in, will Jews be saved since they reject Jesus? My answer is, I don’t know. What I do know is that I must continually share the gospel.
· Jesus, on several occasions, refers to "weeping and gnashing of teeth" in hell ().
· And yet, "by most accounts, hell has all but disappeared from the pulpits preaching of mainline Protestantism."
· According to a Gallop Poll, appearing in that same issue, while 78% of Americans believe they have an excellent or good chance of going to heaven, only 4% of Americans believe they have a change of going to Hell!
· Get this…One rather famous denominational preacher has said, "Hell is just too negative. Churches are under enormous pressure to be consumer oriented. Churches today need to be appealing rather than demanding."
· And yet, Hell is a real place that many people will experience first-hand. They will find out about the "weeping and gnashing of teeth."
It is biblical preaching for us to preach on the reality of hell. If people can ignore what the Bible teaches concerning hell, then they can also discount what is say about sin -- and wickedness becomes an accepted way of life.
Thanks to the grace of God, however, there is another choice that we can make. At the Judgment Day, the faithful few -- those who have obey Jesus Christ --
Finally, can expect a reward and to be restored.
12:3 ~ Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.
· These people, Daniel says, will be raised to "everlasting life."
· We can go to that place that our Lord has been preparing since the first century
· A place that the Apostle John describes in these words in: (1) Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. (2) And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. (3) And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, (4) and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away" ().
It is a place we can only imagine. It contains "Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, And which have not entered the heart of man, All that God has prepared for those who love Him" (). Heaven will be so much more than we can even imagine!
If we do not believe that, then as the apostle Paul noted, there is not much reason for being a Christian in the first place.
· This may sound odd, but the closest we can come to heaven on earth is the cross, because the cross is the only way to heaven. The way to God was opened, not by the life of Jesus or the example of Jesus, not even by the teaching of Jesus, but by the death of Jesus on the cross of Calvary.
· Jesus brought the doctrine of resurrection out of the shadows and into the light. Through His own redemptive death and resurrection Jesus declared once and for all that death is real, that there is life after death, and that through His blood we can all one day be raised to live an eternal life!
As we consider the end of time and the end of the universe, we know that there will be a...
· Resurrection: when the trumpet sounds and the dead shall arise
· Retribution: when the wicked are cast into the pit of eternal darkness and everlasting punishment
· Reward: when faithful Christians hear the voice our Lord calling to us, "Welcome, good and faithful servant... enter in to the joy of your Master."
Several weeks ago, there was a semi-truck driving down I-90, which had a bumper sticker on it that read: "Life is a journey, not a destination." And, you know, there was a very smart man driving that truck.
Life is not a destination. It is a journey, in which we are given the opportunity to prepare for the next life. And for Christians, heaven is more than just a destination, is a motivation -- and it changes everything!
We have it within our grasp this morning to choose heaven: we are still alive with all of our minds in good working order. We can choose between two alternatives that Daniel and Christ have given us this morning.
We can make heaven! By the grace of God, it is achievable. It can be reached by every person here today.
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