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Summary: Four observations from Daniel 12 -- leading to the conclusion that in the end, all things considered, God really is in control.

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We’ve come to the end of Daniel. And I want to tell you how pleasantly surprised I’ve been at the relevancy of this book and how the message fits right in -- speaking to us right where we are.

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All scripture is quoted from the New Living Translation.

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As you know, the second half of the book is of the unusual style of writing called apocalyptic -- visions, dreams, and prophecies that use strange creatures, objects, and enigmatic numbers to get their message across.

I’m not really into this kind of stuff. I like straight forward teaching of the Apostle Paul. I like the engaging parables of Jesus.

So I’ve been surprised at just how encouraging these bizarre dreams actually are – once you start to look at them for what they really are.

Well, we’ve come to the end. And I don’t think you’ll be at all surprised if I tell you up front that what is happening in chapter 12 is really about God’s sovereignty. In spite of present appearances, God really is in control.

This morning I want to make four observations from this chapter. I believe that without going into ALL the detail, these will nicely summarize what God is saying to Daniel and to us through these last 13 verses.

So, here they are.

Observation #1 – WE CAN EXPECT THE TOUGH TIMES TO CONTINUE.

If you remember from last week, the dream suddenly fast forwards from a description of ancient kings to a description of “the end”.

Verse 1 -- "At that time Michael, the archangel who stands guard over your nation, will arise. Then there will be a time of anguish greater than any since nations first came into existence...”

Remember, the Jewish people were in exile in Babylon and they were on the verge of returning to their homeland.

They could see it coming. They could feel it. They could taste it. And they were thinking – Wow, once we get back to Jerusalem, everything is going to be A-OKAY.

But all of these lists of terrible kings and conquerors and periods of persecution was probably taking a lot of the wind out of their sails. And then to top it all off the messenger says: “Then there will be a time of anguish greater than any since nations first came into existence...”

You can imagine how Daniel’s heart sank.

Aren’t things suppose to get progressively better?

I’ve been thinking about this during the whole time that we’ve been in Daniel. I am definitely a product of American optimistic positive thinking.

Things can only get better! We can all pull together and we can face any challenges in front of us and we can come out on top.

Look how much we’ve accomplished in just the last 100 years – equal rights, radio, tv, cars, air travel, microwaves, movies, the Internet, Starbucks. We are unstoppable. WE ARE AMERICANS!

Those are the modern suppositions that I bring with me when I read scripture. But then I bump into the kind of stuff we see in Daniel and I realize that in spite of all the progress we’re making technologically and in terms of civilization – things continue to get worse.

“Then there will be a time of anguish greater than any since nations first came into existence...”

Terrorists continue to do their thing – not only in the US, but in Russia, and Israel, and Colombia, and Bali.

We live on the defensive. I mean, even at church we have predator screening for everyone who works with our children.

The point is, we should not expect that somehow everything is going to magically get better and that we’ll all wake up someday and the terrorists will be gone and that the police will all draw early retirement.

From the perspective of the prophet things continue to go to pot.

#2 – SOME PEOPLE WILL BE REFINED THROUGH THE FIRE. THE “WICKED”, HOWEVER, WILL BE SO CAUGHT UP IN THEIR WICKEDNESS THAT THEY WILL “NEVER UNDERSTAND.”

Look at verse 10 – “Many will be purified, cleansed, and refined by these trials. But the wicked will continue in their wickedness, and none of them will understand. Only those who are wise will know what it means.”

This is the positive spin on a nasty situation.

There are two kinds of people in the world – those who find their lives are improved because of the ordeal – and those who are so caught up in the evilness of the era that they will remain clueless for eternity.

These are the people who are so distracted by the wickedness that they never see the train coming while they’re stopped across the track.

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