[April 17]—Shining Like Stars

Daniel 12

            Probably you’ve noticed that we’ve skipped quite a bit of Daniel. There are multiple reasons for this. Please keep in mind that this is a devotional, not a verse-by-verse commentary. On top of this, there’s a lot in Daniel that’s obscure or difficult to understand and open to different interpretations. And although I do have my interpretations of his future prophecies, those interpretations aren’t immediately relevant to a Christian’s daily walk with the Savior, so they're beyond the purview of this blog.
            All that’s to say this is the last reading we have in Daniel. He’s likely an old man now, near the end of his time on earth. He’s seen a lot in his years: the fall of his beloved nation, exile into Babylon, training as a civil servant, and his adventures both with his three friends and alone. He’s seen an angel shut the mouths of starving lions, and he’s seen mysterious and mind-blowing visions of what’s to come. And now he’s coming to the end of the journey. No, scratch that—he’s coming to the beginning of the next stage. He’s coming into his appointed rest, awaiting the day when his Lord calls his name and bids him come out of his grave.
            Before we say farewell to Daniel, there are two main points I’d like to take from the last chapter of the book bearing his name. They’re sort of out of order. First, I’d like to point out something from vss. 8-10. We need to remind ourselves of the true purpose of prophecy. Daniel asked the angel guiding him for further details about what he saw. Understandably he wanted fuller understanding of these visions. The angel’s response basically translates into “Don’t worry about it, Daniel. You already know everything you need to know for now.”
And then the angel provides a mysterious statement about the righteous and the wicked: “Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand.” You know what this says to me? The purpose of prophecy is not to tickle the ears--or even lead to repentance--of those who are lost. It’s there to “purify” believers. It’s there to spur us on to action. It’s there to comfort us. It’s there to strengthen our faith. But I would not get into a discussion about the End Times with a nonbeliever. In the vast majority of cases, it’s not going to do any good. But just to be clear, I’m not referring to talking about general topics such as the Judgment to come or how to get into Heaven. But the specifics, like Pre-Trib versus Post-Trib? Save that for conversations among believers.
The second point I’d like to make is based on vs. 3. The first phrase in the verse could be translated as “those who are wise,” but I prefer the alternative in the footnote: “who impart wisdom,” since it fits much better with the second half of the verse: It praises those who lead people to righteousness as shining like stars forever and ever.
Let this be either an encouragement or an admonishment, whichever fits. It’s not just referring to evangelists (those who lead others to faith in Christ), although that’s certainly included. No, it says that those who lead others to righteousness. If you admonish a sibling in Christ to be more obedient, I think this includes you. If you provide a good example which serves as a rebuke, this is talking about you. But especially if you have the glorious privilege of actually leading someone to faith in Christ, you’re going to shine, reflecting your Lord's glory for all eternity.
And my friend, if you’re leading others towards Christ, then you’re shining right now. In the spiritual realm you’re like diamonds on felt. You’re a candle in a very very dark place. Take heart, and try to brighten your corner as much as you can. In this world, we need all the light we can get.

Lord Jesus, for all those in my life who have led me towards righteousness--in other words, towards you—I thank you. Please, by your grace, let me shine. In this world, and in the next. 

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