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DANIEL, GOD’S MAN IN THE FIELD (PART XV)
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
15 OCTOBER 1989
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
Preparation Verse: (Isaiah 9:7)
There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace,
On the throne of David and over his kingdom,
To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness
From then on and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.
Last week we ended our study of the Book of Daniel and its prophetic message with a look into the future second coming of Jesus Christ and the judgments and resurrections that will take place.
We saw that the first resurrection is reserved for the believers, all of whom will be with the Lord forever and ever.
The same is not true for the non-believers. Their fate is different. And today we are going to look at what faces them.
But, before we go on, we need to understand the meaning of what Jesus told the Pharisees in Luke 16:15...
15 And He said to them, "You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.
This means that just because some people professe to believe in God or Jesus, it doesn't mean that they are truly believers, and that there may be others in the world who are neither Christians nor Jews, that do wholeheartedly believe, and God sees the intent of their hearts.
Let's begin by looking again into Daniel's vision, starting at verse 7:19.
19. "Then I desired to know the exact meaning of the fourth beast, which was different from all the others, exceedingly dreadful, with its teeth of iron and its claws of bronze, and which devoured, crushed, and trampled down the remainder with its feet,
20. and the meaning of the ten horns that were on its head, and the other horn which came up, and before which three of them fell, namely, that horn which had eyes and a mouth uttering great boasts, and which was larger in appearance than its associates.
Do you remember that in verse 8 Daniel describes this horn as "a little one"? But here he says that it is larger than the others.
We know from our study that this horn is the symbol of the Antichrist. He will start off as just one of many, and smaller than the rest, so that not much attention would be paid to him. But he will deceive many and become great in comparison to the others.
Hitler, for example, started off in much the same manner in Europe, as this picture of the Antichrist, and another will arise in the future in the same way.
Many will be deceived by him and will follow him, and through this he will become powerful enough to defeat the others that do not willingly ally themselves to him.
21. "I kept looking, and that horn was waging war with the saints and overpowering them
22. until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was passed in favor of the saints of the Highest One, and the time arrived when the saints took possession of the kingdom.
Here we see that those who hold fast to the Lord will inherit the kingdom of God, for God will fight our battles.
Worldly kingdoms could not stand against the Antichrist, but God will fight for the believers and they will not be overcome, even if some die in the process, for all the dead in Christ will rise in the first resurrection.
Then the one with whom Daniel was talking explains this vision further:
23. "Thus he said: 'The fourth beast will be a fourth kingdom on the earth, which will be different from all the other kingdoms, and it will devour the whole earth and tread it down and crush it.
24. 'As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings will arise; and another will arise after them, and he will be different from the previous ones and will subdue three kings.
25. 'And he will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times and half a time.
Here we are looking at the future tribulation period: those seven terrible years
just prior to the second coming of Jesus Christ.
And during the middle period of the seven years, the Antichrist will turn against Israel and fight against the believers and overcome many for a period of three and a half years; but after that they will rise again.
At the end of this period the Antichrist will fall during the battle of Armageddon.
26. 'But the court will sit for judgment, and his dominion will be taken away, annihilated and destroyed forever.
27. 'Then the sovereignty, the dominion, and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him.'
Satan and his Antichrist will fall, along with all who have been deceived and followed them; but those who hold fast to the Lord will be saved.
28. "At this point the revelation ended. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts were greatly alarming me and my face grew pale, but I kept the matter to myself."
I guess that if any of us saw a vision like Daniel's, we would feel the same way.
But some time after this, Daniel did write all this down for us to see today, so that we would hold fast to God's teachings and not be deceived or sell out to Satan.
We often feel that we are also in a spiritual battle against the antichrist and satanic forces in this world in our efforts to end the suffering and killing of millions of human being and billions of animals around the world every year.
And we are in a similar spiritual battle when it comes to convincing people that a healthful, whole plant food diet would cure and prevent most of the chronic diseases that plague people.
We want to help bring the true peace of God to earth that we read about in our preparation verse, but it's pitched against the very powerful military-industrial complex, animal agriculture, and the so-called health industries who advertize and promote that bullets and pills can give them peace.
Only Satan is empowered by the spilling of blood and having people sick.
But there is still more to this Biblical story. Let's see what happens to Satan when he is released from the abyss and what will happen to the non-believers.
Turn in your Bibles to Revelation 20:7f.
7. And when the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison,
8. and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore.
Jesus Christ has been reigning upon the earth for a thousand years, and all these that are rising up against Him have been here to see all that He will do; yet they will still rebel.
Satan himself was at one time the angel of light, Lucifer, and he rebelled against God, and a third of the angels of heaven followed him, and they all were cast out of heaven.
The same fate will await these who are rebelling.
9. And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them.
Humankind is so foolish. We keep thinking that we can continually rebel against God's will, and that He will always forgive us.
This is not true. If we deliberately turn away from God and do the things He tells us not to do, then we will be punished.
And if we live this way, there will come a point when God will have had enough, and it will be too late.
If we knowingly turn against God, even one time, that may be the time when it's too late.
And if we supposedly got away with something a few times, and think we can get away with it some more, we may be closer to destruction than I care to imagine.
The same end will come to Satan as well.
10. And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
This time Satan will never rise again. This time the power of God will prevent any further deception by Satan, for he will be in the lake of fire forever and ever.
But why did God permit him to be free upon the earth all these years and deceive so many people; and why did he let him go after the thousand year reign of Jesus Christ?
We have not been told all of the answers, but here we do see one of the answers.
Humankind has been given a free will; and in that free will we can choose to follow God or not to follow him; to submit to sin or to fight against it; or to follow Satan or not follow him. The choice is ours.
Heaven is reserved for only true believers and followers of God's will and those who believe in Jesus Christ and follow His peaceful teachings. There is no place for false witnesses and deceivers.
God must separate the believers from the non-believers.
Our maturing in the midst of a sinful world and having the knowledge of good
and evil within us is our proving ground that will truly show whether or not we
are the Lord's.
Note what Jesus says in Matthew 13:24-30 –
24. He presented another parable to them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field.
25. "But while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares also among the wheat, and went away.
26. "But when the wheat sprang up and bore grain, then the tares became evident also.
27. "And the slaves of the landowner came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?'
28. "And he said to them, 'An enemy has done this!' And the slaves said to him, 'Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?'
29. "But he said, 'No; lest while you are gathering up the tares, you may root up the wheat with them.
30. 'Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn." ' "
Jesus is showing us something else here: that not only is there no place for
deceivers and false prophets in heaven, but heaven appears to be reserved only
for those that produce fruit; thus we all must be allowed to mature, even in the
midst of nonbelievers who try to destroy us and our fruit.
Let's continue with what Jesus is telling us, as He explains this parable, beginning at verse 36.
36. Then He left the multitudes, and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, "Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field."
We are to be like the disciples. If we don't understand something, we are to ask the Lord to help us understand it.
37. And He answered and said, "The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man,
Jesus is here referring to Himself by the name Son of Man.
38. and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one;
39. and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels.
Are you beginning to see the similarity in the message of this passage with those of Daniel and Revelation?
40. "Therefore just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age.
41. "The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness,
Do you hear what we are being told? Not only will those who commit lawlessness be removed as the tares, but also those who cause others to sin because of their lives.
Christians, these stumbling blocks most likely are right in the midst of our churches. These are the ones who call themselves Christians, but they continually and knowingly participate in their sins, and try to justify their actions by telling others that it is all right, for God will forgive them; thus others who are weak trip over them and enter into sin as well.
These God will remove with the tares.
42. and will cast them into the furnace of fire; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
43. "Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.
Do we have ears?
Have we heard?
Are we producing fruit?
Are we truly living a Christian life, or are we still living in the ways of the world?
There is a very grave warning here, and we should all heed it.
And to truly understand what happens to those who do not heed this warning, let's return to Revelation 20:11.
11. And I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.
12. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.
13. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.
14. And death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.
15. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
Oh! Please hear the words of the Lord!
Only we, each of us individually, know where our heart truly is.
We may fake things before each other in church, and maybe even on the outside, but we can never hide the truth from the Lord.
Time is growing short.
The more we knowingly continue to sin, the easier it becomes; and one day it will be too late.
Please don't be one of those who continually test the Lord your God!
If you are living a double life, or a life just in the world, then today is the day to change.
Tell the Lord Jesus that you are sorry and want to change your life, as he wants you to live.
Ask the Lord to forgive you. If you mean it, He will.
Don't be one of the tares that are good only for burning in the fire.
Be one of the stocks of grain that have produced much fruit, and that the Lord will gather to be with Him forever and ever.