” . . . because God’s people will be different then, they are different now.” Sinclair Ferguson
I had lunch with a friend this week whose spouse is dying. No one expects that they have more than a month to live. So over the past weeks, the family has been very deliberate in their planning, meetings, and how they spend their time. Family members have traveled to meet and say goodbye. Children and grandchildren have had their individual meetings. Specific and deliberate conversations have taken place in those meetings.
If you knew how and when your life would end, what would you do? What would change about your plans?
In the above quote from Sinclair Ferguson, the “then” referred to is the time and circumstances of the final destination of those who are in Christ – heaven and eternity. Christians, knowing what lies ahead of them (their final destination and their eternal state), are different now, i.e., today. Knowing who they will be on that day in the future and for eternity, impacts and changes the lives they live now. They are different from the world around them. They prioritize, respond, live, and invest differently than those who do not live for Christ or eternity.
We’ve seen this all the way through the book of Daniel: Daniel lived his life deliberately and differently, because he knew the end of all things. In the midst of suffering, persecution, and difficulty, Daniel lived differently because he knew he was made for heaven, that eternity was coming, and that God was Sovereign over all things, even if things were bad right now (or in the future). Daniel also had many, many opportunities to enjoy great wealth and “earthly” security. But he consistently lived differently from those around him, because he knew he was made for heaven, that eternity was coming, and that God was Sovereign over all things.
As we conclude our season in Daniel this Sunday and next week in our Daily Worship Devotions, these truths (the ones above) and their consequences and implications are where we will focus. Daniel 12 calls us to live today in accordance with what we know about the end of our lives and the end of this world. Even though God revealed much to Daniel, Daniel did not know what all of it meant or when it would all come to pass. Neither do we! Daniel, just like us, wanted to know more and asked for clarity – especially about the timing, but twice God responds to him with a surprising answer. I encourage you to read Daniel 12 and ponder God’s answer and direction to Daniel – and also to us as we grapple with questions like, “What is going on, Lord!” “Lord, what are you doing?” “What do you want from me, Lord?” And, “Lord, when will this all end!?”
In Daniel 12, God declares that people will be judged by how they have lived – not simply on what they say they believe in their hearts – but by how they have lived: What they did with their time, their money, and their decisions. Those who are resurrected to eternal life as those forgiven in Jesus are referred to as “the wise” – those who have lived by “wisdom.” What does this mean? What is wisdom, biblically? Hmmmmm.
In partial answer to that question, I’ll conclude this week’s Pastor Weekly email by paraphrasing a question I asked last Sunday that gets at the heart both of what it means to be wise and the metric Daniel 12 tells us God will use on Judgement Day: “If Daniel 12 (and chapters 10-12) tell us the truth about where the world is headed, if it tells us the truth about our destination, how should we be preparing for that destination?” When we are taking a trip, we pack and prepare based on where we are going, why, and what we will encounter there. If Daniel 12 is true about where we are going, “How Shall We Then Live” today and tomorrow?”
Yours in Christ’s love,