1…“But at that time every one of your people whose name is written in the book will be rescued. 2Many of those whose bodies lie dead and buried will rise up, some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting disgrace. 13As for you, go your way until the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days, you will rise again to receive the inheritance set aside for you.” Daniel 12: 1,2,13
There is theological debate as to who the “man” is that Daniel sees in his prophetic vision in today’s reading. Some say he is a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus; others, an angel. The description in verses 5 and 6 is very similar to that given by John of Jesus in Revelation 1:13 – 15. However, others contend that if it were Christ, He wouldn’t need an archangel to help in his fight against the spirits of Persia and Greece. Regardless, we know that Daniel was visited by a heavenly messenger and that Daniel realized the importance of this visit. This was shown by his reaction described in verses 8 – 9: “My strength left me, my face grew deathly pale, and I felt very weak. Then I heard the man speak, and when I heard the sound of his voice, I fainted and lay there with my face to the ground.”
Other verses from today’s reading are also studied and debated quite a bit in the field of eschatology (study of end times). For the sake of keeping this devotional manageable (and because I’m not a theologian), I’m going to avoid the eschatological debate and focus on a foundational truth of Christianity that we see God revealing to Daniel here.
In Christianity, we believe that God met His promise to save and redeem His people when He sent His son, Jesus Christ, who lived without sin, to die for us as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. Through His death alone (not through anything we could ever do), Jesus paid our sin debt in full. By raising Jesus from death, God showed us that He can and will also rescue us from death; as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:55, “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” When we ask God for forgiveness and accept Jesus’ death on the cross as the full payment for our sin (accepting Christ as our Savior) and submit our lives to Christ (accepting Him as Lord), we become reconciled with God, our names are written in the Book of Life that Daniel writes about in verse 12:1, and we are saved. In Romans 10, Paul provides a very understandable description of how this works. In short from Romans 10:9 – 10: “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.”
I strongly encourage you to take some next steps: First, if you haven’t already done so, please ask God for forgiveness and ask Jesus into your life as your Savior and Lord. The prayer below can serve as a guide, but there’s no magic to the words. Use your own words; talk to God from your heart. Open up about where you’ve been hurt, the wrongs you’ve done, and invite Him into your life. The important thing is that you tell God you are willing to trust Him for your salvation; this is the first step on the adventure that Jesus has for you.
Second, if you have questions, talk to a church staff member, mark your Connect card that you’d like to talk with someone about receiving Jesus, pray with a member of the prayer team… Don’t just let the questions fester without acting on them.
Third, strongly consider taking the Alpha course (you can still sign up for the current course through this week – Wednesday nights at 6 PM at the Vineyard). I had gone to church most of my life, but it was during the Alpha course where I really came to understand what it meant to have Jesus as my Savior and Lord. I had so many questions; the Alpha course provided a good foundation for how to frame those questions, an understanding of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, and helped to point me in the right direction for lifelong learning, maturing, and growing in my relationship with God.
Prayer (adapted from http://tinyurl.com/nzl58cv): Lord Jesus, I ask You to forgive my sins and save me from eternal separation from God. By faith, I accept Your work and death on the cross as payment in full for my sins. Thank You for providing the way for me to know You and to have a relationship with my heavenly Father. Through faith in You, I have eternal life. Thank You also for hearing my prayers and loving me unconditionally. Please give me the strength, wisdom, and determination to walk in Your will. In Jesus’ name, amen.