Daniel 12:1-13 – Live In Anticipation of Heaven Rather Than Fear of Dying…

Posted: June 29, 2016 in Book of Daniel

Daniel 12:1-13

The Times of the End

 

For some reason, this morning, that song by the one-hit-wonder group, Vitamin C, released 16 years ago in 2000 called “The Graduation Song (Friends Forever)” comes to mind as we close out Daniel. This song gets played at graduations even today and in video montages of graduating seniors on Facebook this time of year all over the digital landscape. It is a wonderful and timeless song that will most likely live on for many, many years.

 

This song holds a marker place in the history of my adult life as well. I remember that it was one of the three special songs that my second wife and I selected to be sung at her oldest son’s funeral who died suddenly in a car crash at the age of 16 ½ years back in February 2001. The lyrics of the song goes something like this:

 

And so we talked all night about the rest of our lives

Where we’re gonna be when we turn 25

I keep thinking times will never change

Keep on thinking things will always be the same

But when we leave this year we won’t be coming back

No more hanging out cause we’re on a different track

And if you got something that you need to say

You better say it right now cause you don’t have another day

Cause we’re moving on and we can’t slow down

These memories are playing like a film without sound

And I keep thinking of that night in June

I didn’t know much of love

But it came too soon

And there was me and you

And then we got real blue

Stay at home talking on the telephone

And we would get so excited and we’d get so scared

Laughing at ourselves thinking life’s not fair

And this is how it feels

 

[1]

As we go on

We remember

All the times we

Had together

And as our lives change

Come whatever

We will still be

Friends Forever

 

So if we get the big jobs

And we make the big money

When we look back now

Will our jokes still be funny?

Will we still remember everything we learned in school?

Still be trying to break every single rule

Will little brainy Bobby be the stockbroker man?

Can Heather find a job that won’t interfere with her tan?

I keep, keep thinking that it’s not goodbye

Keep on thinking it’s a time to fly

And this is how it feels

 

[Repeat 1]

 

La, la, la, la:

Yeah, yeah, yeah

La, la, la, la:

We will still be friends forever

 

Will we think about tomorrow like we think about now?

Can we survive it out there?

Can we make it somehow?

I guess I thought that this would never end

And suddenly it’s like we’re women and men

Will the past be a shadow that will follow us around?

Will these memories fade when I leave this town

I keep, keep thinking that it’s not goodbye

Keep on thinking it’s a time to fly

 

[Repeat 1 (3x)]

 

The three special songs that we had sung at Trey’s funeral were “I Can Only Imagine” by Mercyme (see lyrics below):

 

I can only imagine what it will be like

When I walk by your side

I can only imagine what my eyes will see

When your face is before me

I can only imagine

 

Yeah

 

Surrounded by your glory

What will my heart feel

Will I dance for your Jesus

Or in awe of you be still

Will I stand in your presence

Or to my knees will I fall

Will I sing hallelujah

Will I be able to speak at all

I can only imagine

I can only imagine

 

I can only imagine when that day comes

And I find myself standing in the Son

I can only imagine when all I will do

Is forever, forever worship you

I can only imagine, yeah

I can only imagine

 

Surrounded by your glory

What will my heart feel

Will I dance for your Jesus

Or in awe of you be still

Will I stand in your presence

Or to my knees will I fall

Will I sing hallelujah

Will I be able to speak at all

I can only imagine

Yeah

I can only imagine

 

Surrounded by your glory

What will my heart feel

Will I dance for your Jesus

Or in awe of you be still

Will I stand in your presence

Or to my knees will I fall

Will I sing hallelujah

Will I be able to speak at all

I can only imagine

Yeah

I can only imagine

 

I can only imagine

Yeah

I can only imagine

I can only imagine

I can only imagine

 

I can only imagine

When all I will do

Is forever, forever worship you

 

I can only imagine

 

 

and older Christian song, “If You Could See Me Now” by Truth (whose lyrics go as follows):

 

Our prayers have been answered
I finally arrived
The healing that had been delayed
Is now realized
No one’s in a hurry
There’s no schedule to keep
We’re all enjoying Jesus
Just sitting at His feet

If you could see me now
I’m walking streets of gold
If you could see me now
I’m standing tall and whole
If you could see me now
You’d know I’ve seen His face

If you could see me now
You’d know the pain’s erased
You wouldn’t want me
To ever leave this place
If only you could see me now

My light and temporary trials
Have worked out for my good
To know it brought Him glory
When I misunderstood
Though we’ve had our sorrows
They can never compare
To what Jesus has in store for us
No language can share

 

and the last song was “The Graduation Song” by Vitamin C. We said that the first song was for Trey himself, the second was for the family (us and his extended family) and the third was for his friends. Each song was tough to listen to during the immediate aftermath of a sudden loss of a teenage child. Each song though had so much hope in them that they do give you comfort as you grieve a loss. That funeral was 15 years ago now. I do not remember the sermon, though I am sure that Pastor Baker of Abundant Life Church in Greenville delivered an awesome one as was his usual practice at all times, but what I remember are those songs. Tears flowed from my second wife and I as we listened to the wonderful message of I Can Only Imagine. Tears flowed from the entire family as we heard the words of If You Could See Me Now. And tears flowed from the entire overflow audience of teenagers and adults as the song Graduation Song (Friends Forever) was sung. As I have long pondered over why those three songs are my only continuing memory of that horrible day where we had to bury a son to my second wife and a stepson to me, it was that there was comfort and hope in those three songs. The Mercyme song tells us of the glory it will be in heaven to be living in the presence of God. The song by the group, Truth, gives us assurance that our loved ones who have passed on, even those who have passed tragically, are in a far, far better place that this plane of existence and that they, even though they loved their lives here, would not return for anything. The Truth song gives us a glimpse of heaven and assures us that our loved ones are in this amazing place that we cannot understand fully now on this side of eternity. The Vitamin C song reminds us that even though life changes and people move on (including in this case, through death) that we have our memories of our times together that no one can take away from us. There is hope in that for us as well in that as Christ followers death is not the end. Memories live on and there is that constant and abiding hope that we will be reunited with the ones we love in heaven.

 

That is the thing that I think of today as we read the final chapter of Daniel and as we move on tomorrow to the next book of the Bible that we will tackle together. I think of my former stepson’s funeral and three special songs that were song during the service. Each of these songs were songs of hope in the midst of tragedy. Each of these songs were songs of hope in the midst of suffering. With that in mind, let us read the final chapter/passage of the Book of Daniel, Daniel 12:1-13:

 

 

12 “At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. 2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who are wise[a] will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. 4 But you, Daniel, roll up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.”

 

5 Then I, Daniel, looked, and there before me stood two others, one on this bank of the river and one on the opposite bank. 6 One of them said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, “How long will it be before these astonishing things are fulfilled?”

 

7 The man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, lifted his right hand and his left hand toward heaven, and I heard him swear by him who lives forever, saying, “It will be for a time, times and half a time.[b] When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed.”

 

8 I heard, but I did not understand. So I asked, “My lord, what will the outcome of all this be?”

 

9 He replied, “Go your way, Daniel, because the words are rolled up and sealed until the time of the end. 10 Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand.

 

11 “From the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination that causes desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days. 12 Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of the 1,335 days.

 

13 “As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance.”

 

I think that the thing that shines through to me in this ending of the Book of Daniel is that God does not deliver us from suffering. He delivers us through it. He never promised us that there would not be suffering in this world. He tells about when not it there will be suffering. We live in a fallen world besieged by sin so even the earth groans under the pains of the suffering caused by man’s sin. There are things that we are not going to understand in life. And at the end of times, there is going to be great suffering and persecution and there will be family tragedies that abound in those times. We will grieve and we will suffer anguish and heartache at the hands of an evil, sinful world. There will accidental deaths that we will find hard to explain. There will be those are shining stars for Christ while they are here on earth that will be taken from us too soon and we will not understand it. But let us remember the prize. God delivers his people. We win. Heaven is our reward. Heaven is our promise of hope. Heaven gives us the fortitude to move on. Heaven gives us comfort when we lose loved ones who are a child of Christ. Heaven gives us urgency to share the gospel with those we love and with those we don’t even know. Heaven is our reward. Heaven is the prize. We persevere here and we even take great risks for justice and honor here because we can man do to us but hasten our trip to our final prize. Let us live in anticipation of heaven rather than fear of losing this life. That makes all the suffering and hardship on this side of heaven worth the effort. When we get there, we will have our imagination satisfied. When we get there, we will be walking the streets of gold in the presence of God. When we get there, our eternity will be changed from this existence on this side of heaven and we will have our memories of a good race run and then sit at the Master’s feet praising Him all the day long. This is my story and this is my song. Is it yours?

 

Amen and Amen.

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