Living in the meantime…

Daniel was told to “go your way until the end.” How do we go our way to the end?

These hopes we’ve been pondering — the realities we can be certain of — change our lives. They shape our attitudes, our actions, and our goals.

Here are some Scriptures our Father has given to guide us as we live in the meantime — between the time Christ has brought God’s grace and mercy to earth and the time when He will return as judge and King.

First of all, we remember that we are citizens of another kingdom.

But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior (Philippians 3:20).

For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come (Hebrews 13:14).

Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name (Hebrews 13:15).

We live as citizens of that kingdom:

For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed (Titus 2:11-14).

Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live, looking forward to the day of God and hurrying it along…and while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight (2 Peter 3:11, 12, 14).

The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another (1 Peter 4:7-10).

And, as long as God gives people time to repent and come back to Him, we carry on with the mission given to us by our King.

“Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.” (Matthew 28:19-20).

 

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Psalm Prayer:

I am trusting you, O LORD,
saying, “You are my God!”
My future is in your hands.
Rescue me from those who hunt me down relentlessly.
Let your favor shine on your servant.
In your unfailing love, rescue me.
(Psalm 31:14-16)

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© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, Lana Turner, and Mary Jane Smith for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

(8) Daniel: Hope for birth-pain times

Daniel has become a book of great hope for me. Yes, it includes dire warnings and grim prophecies that both confuse and alarm us. Jesus told us the same things.

But as we read the book in its entirety, we cannot miss the hope:

We are very precious to God.
Heaven rules! Forever!
Our prayers do make a difference.
God rescues and saves His people.
Even through the hardest times, God is working His plan for His people.
And He can be trusted to keep His covenant with us.

This is how we face the birth-pain times. We do have to face them. God does not pluck His children out of the world’s turmoil and place them in a bubble where they are not troubled by the agony of the world. It will touch all of our lives in various degrees and intensities. But no matter what is ahead, these hopes are things we can depend on.

As I read Daniel, the “icing on the cake” comes with the very last verse.

Remember, Daniel was quite distressed by the visions he was given of the future. They made him physically ill. We can also become fretful and fearful as we read prophecy of the times before Christ’s return to earth. Even without reading prophecy, all we need to do is look around us at the scary, worrisome condition of the world today.

But the angel messenger’s words to Daniel speak peace to my soul too.

“As 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 12:13).

We know our ultimate destination, brothers and sisters. We know the One who is in control of it all. We know His plan. Our times are in His hands.

Let us continue to go forward, over the bridges of hope He’s laid out for us.

Finish the race.

Rest.

Rise.

And inherit!

 

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Psalm Prayer:

I am trusting you, O LORD,
saying, “You are my God!”
My future is in your hands.
Rescue me from those who hunt me down relentlessly.
Let your favor shine on your servant.
In your unfailing love, rescue me.
(Psalm 31:14-16)

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© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, Lana Turner, and Mary Jane Smith for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

(7) Daniel: Hope for birth-pain times

“You always fulfill your covenant and keep your promises of unfailing love to those who love you and obey your command” (Daniel 8:9).

This lines are from Daniel’s prayer. This is the foundation of all our hope—that God keeps His promises and holds fast to His covenant with us. If this were not true, then every hope we have would be futile. We would have nothing to move forward on… Then, truly, the future would be depressing at best, terrifying at worst.

Remember that hope in Scripture is not simply wishing that something might happen or be true. Hope is the certainty that what is promised will come to pass.

Daniel’s prayer is for his nation. It’s a confession of Israel’s failure to keep their part of the covenant with God and a plea for mercy and forgiveness.

And for us, this is also a part of God’s covenant and promises. When we fail, confession and repentance will be met with God’s mercy and forgiveness.

His unfailing love has made us so many promises — and He is a God who keeps His promises.

Our hope lives on that.

 

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Psalm Prayer:

I am trusting you, O LORD,
saying, “You are my God!”
My future is in your hands.
Rescue me from those who hunt me down relentlessly.
Let your favor shine on your servant.
In your unfailing love, rescue me.
(Psalm 31:14-16)

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© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, Lana Turner, and Mary Jane Smith for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

(6) Daniel: Hope for birth-pain times

Wouldn’t you like to know the rest of the story? I’d like to know more about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—after their walk through the flames.

We do know two things—King Nebuchadnezzar was so impressed with their God and their faith that he promoted them to higher positions in the kingdom (and remember, they were foreigners in the land!) and he also issued a decree that no one in his kingdom could speak a word against their Almighty God.

Impressive. They influenced the entire country with their stand of faith and improved their own earthly fortunes.

But throughout Scriptures, prophecy paints a picture of the people of God suffering greatly … and such positive outcomes will not always be seen on earth. Even after this seeming change of attitude toward the Israelites, there was still opposition. The plotting against Daniel that landed him in the lions’ den came after this incident. Opposition and persecution of God’s people will not end at any time in the history of this earth.

Our natural reaction is to shrink back from the flames. To do whatever we can to avoid being bound and thrown, against our will, into the devouring heat of the furnace.

But Jesus said if we follow Him, we can expect this. Prophecy says terrible suffering and persecution will come to God’s people, because the world will hate us.

Where’s the hope in that?

Remember the fourth man in the furnace?

Jesus left the earth, promising that He would always be with His followers, everywhere, right up to the “end of the age.” No matter what is coming tomorrow, He walks with us.

And then we have the words of the angel messenger who comes to Daniel. Daniel, too, cringes when he catches a glimpse of what will come, as we all probably do. But the angel tells him several times,

“Many will be purified, cleansed, and refined by these trials.” (12:10, see also 11:35)

Even in the fire, God works for the good of His people!

Who of us can say that we do not need more cleansing, more purifying, more refining?

Even when evil brings its worst against God’s Kingdom, the Almighty Sovereign works His purposes in His people.

The letters of the New Testament to a persecuted church (remember? they are being thrown to the lions….) echoes this hope.

Peter’s two letters, especially, are packed with encouragement and hope: Stand strong, because trials and suffering cleanse and purify. God will work through suffering and “restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation” (1 Peter 5:10). Great joy is ahead!

And Peter also reiterates: “the Lord knows how to rescue godly people from their trials.” (2 Peter 2:9)

Much of prophecy is vague and ambiguous. This part is very clear to me: God’s people will suffer. They will be hated and persecuted because of who they are and who they serve.

And yet —

My hope remembers the angel’s words to Daniel.
My hope remembers God’s promise to cleanse and purify and keep us strong.
My hope remember the fourth man in the fire.

 

 

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Psalm Prayer:

I am trusting you, O LORD,
saying, “You are my God!”
My future is in your hands.
Rescue me from those who hunt me down relentlessly.
Let your favor shine on your servant.
In your unfailing love, rescue me.
(Psalm 31:14-16)

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© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, Lana Turner, and Mary Jane Smith for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

(5) Daniel: Hope for birth-pain times

Two of the best-known Old Testament stories are in the first half of the book of Daniel. Dramatic and unforgettable, they’re often included in children’s books of Bible stories. But as I read the book in its entirety as an adult, I see details of these stories that I never knew as a child, details that fortify my hope in the God I trust.

God rescues and save His people. 

That hope is illustrated by the stories of Daniel in the lions’ den and of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who were his three friends thrown into the blazing furnace. These are stories of incredible, miraculous rescue of God’s faithful people. Great and unforgettable stories.

As I read these stories yet one more time, I’m struck by several things —

First, the acknowledgement of God’s mighty power to save comes from pagan kings!

In both stories, the pagan kings are the ones who voice praise to Daniel’s God when they see the miraculous rescue. After Daniel walked out of the lions’ den without a scratch, King Darius sent out a proclamation announcing his belief in Daniel’s saving God. When the three friends were brought out of the furnace without one hair sizzled and with not a whiff of smoke on their clothes, Nebuchadnezzar bursts out with, “There is no other god who can rescue like this!”

No, King Neb, there is no other god like ours.

Sisters and brothers, children of the Most High God—other gods today might look powerful and might appear to offer us salvation. But none will be able to rescue us like our God can.

God rescues us on a daily basis. I think we often miss it. We are very precious to Him. He is here, right here with us, walking through every fire with us, just like He did with the men in the furnace. Big and little rescues and saves — He excels at them all. Watch for His rescue. Praise Him for it. Don’t miss it. And don’t, don’t, do not look to the wrong saviors, because nobody can rescue like our God can!

The three friends, who refused to bow down to anyone but God, stood firm with a strength I want. “Our God is able to save us from anything,” they say to the king, “but even if he chooses not to save us from this fire, we will never serve anyone but Him.”

May our faith in our God and in what He does for His people be this unwavering! Even when we have to walk into the fire…or we’re thrown into it.

And then, we look forward to God’s final, complete rescue of His people.

In the last half of the book, Daniel records his visions of the future. I can’t untangle exactly what future all of these visions refer to. Some of it seems to have already happened in Israel’s history. Yet the angel messenger tells Daniel at one point, “What you are seeing pertains to the very end time.” (See 8:19). There’s a numbering of days—but remember, we are also told that “days” means a very different thing to God than the literal meaning we give it. I don’t even try to sort it all out.

But here’s a promise: Michael, the angel, speaks of a terrible time of great anguish. “But at that time, every one of your people whose name is written in the book will be rescued.” (see 12:1)

This is the detail that matters most to me: God’s final, full rescue of His people.

Let me amend that statement, because that’s not a “detail.” That is the entire story!

Remember: You are very precious to God. We can depend on Him to rescue and save His people. Today, tomorrow, and at the very end of time.

 

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Psalm Prayer:

I am trusting you, O LORD,
saying, “You are my God!”
My future is in your hands.
Rescue me from those who hunt me down relentlessly.
Let your favor shine on your servant.
In your unfailing love, rescue me.
(Psalm 31:14-16)

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© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, Lana Turner, and Mary Jane Smith for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)