4. The Reward of the Faithful
In one of Daniel's later prophecies, details are added to the picture. Daniel 11 is a detailed description of national events that can largely be identified with events that have already occurred. Chapter 12, however, shows a time that has not yet been seen.
Daniel 12:1.: "At that time Michael shall stand up, The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; And there shall be a time of trouble, Such as never was since there was a nation, Even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, Every one who is found written in the book. 2. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3. Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever. NKJV
By correlation with other parts of the Bible, the “Michael” referred to can identified under the other names of the “Branch”, the Messiah, and as Christians believe, Jesus. Daniel prophecies of a time when this man will stand up and cause a series of events to occur. There is firstly a time of trouble, “such as never was since there was a nation”. In recent history, there have been upheveals such as the world wars, but even these fall short of such a description.
Verse 2 then speaks of a resurrection, “many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake”. Both righteous and unrighteous people are said to be raised, with a reward offered to the former, and a punishment to the latter.
Apart from this Old-Testament reference to a resurrection, there are many references to this event in the New Testament. When appearing before the governor in defense of his conduct, the apostle Paul made a claim that he believed in the resurrection from the dead.
Acts 24:15.: "I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust. NKJV
This agrees closely with the words written in the book of Daniel. There are also some more detailed explanations of the time. One of this is in the letter to the Thessolonians,
1 Thess 4:13.: But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 15. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. NKJV
In this case, both a resurrection, and a gathering of people who are alive is spoken of. The dead and the living are joined and then remain with the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15 is a chapter with a large emphasis on the resurrection. It is a part of an argument of the apostle Paul to show that Jesus did indeed rise from the dead.
1 Cor 15:16.: For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18. Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. 20. But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. NKJV
The important aspect from this passage is that “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable”. It shows that the promise of resurrection offers a much greater hope than what can be seen in our current lives. As the passage continues, a definite link is made to the kingdom idea from the earlier passages.
1 Cor 15:21.: For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming. 24. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. NKJV
Toward the conclusion of this chapter, a link is also made to a change in the bodies of the people raised from the dead.
1 Cor 15:51.: Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed -- 52. in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory." NKJV
This shows that the resurrection is not simply going back to the same type of existance as the mortal life. Instead, the raised receive immortality, that “Death is swallowed up in victory”.
Not all of the promises made are about a pleasant future. Just as Daniel prophesied about a “time of trouble such as never was”, the book of Timothy speaks of unpleasant times.
2 Tim 3:1.: But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3. unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4. traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, NKJV
By connection with other Bible passages, these last times must refer to the last times before the “time of trouble”, the resurrection and establishment of the kingdom. The evidence of these elements in the late 20th century is quite clear. The increase of many of these attributes over the past 50 years has been quite clear.
2 Tim 3:5.: having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! NKJV
2 Tim 3:7.: always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. NKJV
These passages aptly describe the humanist and humanist/christian philosophies that are currently gaining popularity. It is re-assuring that the Bible is consistent and accurate in it's promises.
Why Listen to this Promise?
Many religions and life philosophies offer promises and hopes. In this sense the Bible may possibly be treated no differently. The differentiation becomes a matter of the value of the promise. This evaluation of this value is comprised of two parts. These are:
- The worth of the promise itself.
- The probability that the promise is true.
The second aspect can be harder to evaluate. This is the probability that the promise is true. With the case of the five years in prison, it is possible to see that the people do indeed receive the promise, but with future promises, it can be harder to evaluate. In this case, it has to rely on the reliability of the source of the promise. In the case of the Bible, it is a question of the reliablity of the Bible. In the case of science and humanism, it is a question of the reliability of those philosophies.
All of these potential sources of wisdom are a means of modelling our life and environment. They seek to explain how things work, and give an insight into what is beyond the observed. When trying to evaluate the quality of such a model, it is important to evaluate the prediction ability of a model rather than the explaination value. This is one point where many scientific views break down, because they are simply an explaination of observations.
It is very useful to separate the ideas of correctness and worth when considering the Bible. For many years, and in different ways, doubt has been cast on the correctness of the Bible. For this reason people are inclined to see it as less important, and perhaps accept some of its concepts but not others. However, it is either what it says it is, or it isn't. The “shades of correctness” idea is misleading, because the Bible's importance is very black and white. Either it is the message of an all-powerful creator, or it is a lie.
Probability is all about the ignorance of the observer. You might consider there to be a 40%chance that the Bible is correct and important book. All too often confuse this with it being a 40%important book. Under this scenario it should be thought of having a 40%chance of being 100%important, not a 100%chance of being 40%important. It is very useful to be clear on the difference between these two ideas.
This paper has shown the potential importance of the Bible and the promises offered by it. The promises of the Bible are so great that they can make all other things appear insignificant. It is the offer of both life and meaning.
Acts 4:10.: "let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. 11. "This is the 'stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.' 12. "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." NKJV