KEY TEXT: Dan 12:1-4 And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt… But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase."
KEY THOT: This passage clearly refers to events taking place at the end of this age: “there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time.” At the close of this age, the dead will be resurrected for judgment: those whose names are found in the book of life will awake to “everlasting life” while the rest will awake to “shame and everlasting contempt.” Daniel was told to “seal the book” until the “time of end”. And the signs that this “time of the end” has arrived are (1) global migration and travelling: “many shall run to and fro” and (2) education and increased knowledge: “knowledge shall increase”. If there ever is a period in human history when these two events are taking place, it must be today. More people are migrating and moving all over the world in search of economic advantage or to escape wars and famines. This massive people movements are facilitated by the rise of cheap modern air travel. Also, the rise of the internet has in the last few decades resulted in an explosion of human knowledge that can be accessed by the click of a mouse.
But what is even more telling that we are near the “time of end” is the increasing widespread evidence that we are entering into the “time of trouble”. As the global financial system is being undermined by relentless printing of US dollars and the euro debt crisis, as the rise of extremist religious violence continues to spread in every country, as global climatic changes are creating unusual weather patterns and earthquakes are increasing in frequency, we are indeed entering into the “time of trouble” that Daniel prophesied. Satan knows that his end is drawing near and is venting his anger against God and his people: "Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake” (Matt 24:9).
Clearly, we are living in the period that Daniel calls “time of end” and this is closely associated with the “time of trouble”. Jesus has called this time of trouble, the “birth pains”. Like birth contractions, we will know the baby’s arrival is imminent when the contractions increase in frequency and intensity. So, also as we witness the increasing frequency and intensity of global “troubles” on all fronts (financial, military, ethnic, religious, climatic and moral), we should stay alert spiritually. We should not be lulled into spiritual apathy by our affluent lifestyle of self-gratification: “For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man” (Matt 24:38-39).
It’s so easy living in Singapore to think that all these “troubles” only happen elsewhere, not here. I think we are being naïve to think these global troubles will not affect us here. We need to evaluate our priorities and ask if we are ready if Jesus were to return today. How much of what we are now doing is motivated by faith? Jesus has said: “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?" (Luke 18:8).
Are we living by faith or by sight? Are our life’s priorities founded on our trust in the invisible reality of Kingdom of God or our trust in the visible goods and services that the prince of this world has to offer?
Father, teach us to number our days, especially as the signs of Your coming are increasing in frequency and intensity. Help us re-evaluate our life’s priorities. Amen.