God is a skilled poet. Much of the Holy Bible (especially the prophetic books) is written in striking verse that ignites our thinking and electrifies our imagination. God loves to use vivid symbols to help us understand and build a clear picture of what He has inspired to be written. God’s poetry is invaluable education. It can be easily remembered. For example, our Herbert W. Armstrong College students are expected to memorize key verses from the Bible to help ground them in the “faith which was once delivered” (Jude 3) and grow in spiritual character.
In chapter 12 of the book of Daniel, God uses two beautiful poetic symbols to spur His end-time people, His sons and daughters (2 Corinthians 6:18) in embryo, to prepare for their dynamic, exciting, fulfilling and soon-coming eternal life. In Daniel 12:3, although it is not specifically poetry, God paints His people as being the brightness of the firmament and as stars for ever and ever. Here are two incredible images that you and I should think deeply about. Why? God did not put meaningless fluff into the Bible. Our Father wants us to pay careful attention to every word recorded in His Book. Deep study proves this verse requires more of us than merely reading great poetry.
Verse 3 requires us to take urgent and consistent personal action to prepare for our glorious future. Even Jesus Christ said, “It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God,” when He was conquering Satan the devil (Luke 4:4).
We need to be honest with ourselves. Are we living by Daniel 12:3?
To help us respond quickly and urgently to Daniel 12:3, God ensured that two action steps were coupled with the two poetic images. Notice the first part: “And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament ….” The English word wise in the Hebrew is sakal and can mean to act, be, or make wise. To fully comprehend what God wants us to understand here requires all three of these definitions. It is also important to recognize the context of Daniel 12.
Verse 1 tells us it is the time period just before God’s people must flee to a place of safety—your people shall be delivered. That time period is rapidly approaching. Now is the time that God’s people must work diligently to become more wise and to act on that wisdom. Time is short. Jesus Christ’s return is imminent. How do we get such wisdom? Christ has shown us the way and provided the means to obtain it.
Just days before His crucifixion, He prophesied of the same time period—our time now—found in Daniel 12. For our sake, He discussed with His disciples two of the wisest things we should be doing right now. “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man,” stated Christ (Luke 21:36). What is He telling us?
Watch World Events
Of all things to do, we should be watching world events through the lens of Bible prophecy. It is shocking how quickly our world changed with the onslaught of covid‑19. Because of the news media hype globally, people are living in petrified fear. All but a few national economies have been wrecked. Dictators are on the rise and grabbing more power. Many civil liberties of citizens living under democratic governments have disappeared overnight. Some conservative commentators fear it may be difficult to bring them back! However, more nefarious things are happening behind the smoke screen of coronavirus! Only Bible prophecy can clear the smoke for us, so we can see clearly what’s happening.
Who can and will properly explain Bible prophecy to you? Jesus Christ warned that many false prophets would arise just before His Second Coming (Matthew 24:24), so we must beware of what men we listen to and follow. “God wants His prophecies understood, so He reveals that understanding through His faithful servants. ‘Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets’ (Amos 3:7),” wrote Royal Vision editor in chief Gerald Flurry in his May-June 2020 Trumpet personal, “Prophecy Is Proof of God.” This personal is a must-read to understand the connection between Bible prophecy and world events! If you have not subscribed to the Philadelphia Trumpet newsmagazine, now is the time to do so. This magazine consistently and expertly brings Bible prophecy to light!
Realize, there are many church denominations in existence today that call themselves Christian. But how much of their religion is Bible-based? One of the largest denominations does not view the Bible as the sole source of its doctrine. Its members are not typically Bible readers. Prophecy is not a line item in its religious instruction. Regrettably, many other denominations follow that example. Jesus Christ said that His one true Church would be a small and persecuted flock (Luke 12:32; John 15:20). So we should not be fooled by religious groups with large members. You need to prove where Christ’s Church is today so that you are taught properly about God’s prophecies. A truly wise Christian is a student of prophecy and watches carefully, noting prophecies as they unfold. How wise are we?
There is a second phase to this first action step. We should endeavor to be consistent in praying always. About what? Thankfully, God does not leave us in the dark concerning the specifics we need to be praying about. Notice the additional detail included in Luke 21:36 when quoting Jesus Christ: “that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass ….” What things? The perfect prophecy-inspired prayer list is recorded for us in Matthew 24.
This chapter, often called the Olivet prophecy, is the most significant prophecy Jesus Christ gave while on Earth. You can break this chapter down into meaningful sections to help you better understand what to pray about. Here are a few examples to inspire you to do further study on your own.
In the beginning of the chapter, Jesus Christ gives us a sweeping look at calamitous world events (see verses 4-8). This section provides a short list of things to be praying about. Certainly we should be praying to God urgently for personal protection from disease (like the coronavirus), pestilence (which can refer to social unrest), natural disasters, and the threat of war. Christ makes it clear that these kinds of problems will only intensify.
In several other groupings of verses in the chapter, Christ brings our attention to the lukewarm condition in the majority of God’s people today and a comparison of faithful with unfaithful servants (see verses 9-13, 45-51). Here Christ provides an opportunity for us to examine ourselves and pray about areas in which we may be weak or failing.
Christ talks much about the coming Great Tribulation in this chapter (see verses 15-22). Only Christ’s faithful servants will escape the horrors of the Great Tribulation. We must always be praying urgently that we are spiritually qualified to escape the most dire of all prophetic events!
Studying Bible prophecy and watching it fulfilled in world events has great value for us. We not only understand what world events truly mean, we are given the opportunity to examine ourselves and grow in character so we can escape events that are sure to come to pass (Ezekiel 33:33). While we study Bible prophecy, we must also study to grow in God’s character and righteousness.
Turning Many to Righteousness
The second half of Daniel 12:3 is truly the most electrifying poetic image in this passage: “and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.” What does this mean for you and me? It has everything to do with what we accomplish spiritually in this life and even more so in the next. One of the greatest mysteries of our time is the true purpose and the meaning of why Jesus Christ built His Church. Herbert W. Armstrong fully covers this mystery in Chapter 6 of his most important book—Mystery of the Ages (request your free copy). This chapter requires some time and deep study in order to grasp God’s purpose for His Church.
Here is a short quote to pique your interest in this astounding book and to help explain the second half of verse 3. “What, then, is the church?” asked Mr. Armstrong. “It is that body God has specially called out of Satan’s world. It is a body called for a very special purpose—to be trained to become rulers and teachers when God does set His hand to convert the world. To be enabled to rule and teach the world with and under Christ.” In other words, God does not call people into His Church merely and only for salvation, but to prepare them to teach and rule others when Christ returns to sit on David’s throne as King of kings. At that time, biblically known as the world to come (Hebrews 2:5), the dead in Christ will be resurrected and those still alive will be changed to immortal, spirit-born sons of God (1 Corinthians 15:51-53). Christ and His saints will work to bring the entire world to conversion. What a fantastic opportunity and time that will be!
How do Church members turn many to righteousness today? By supporting the work of the Church. This work involves getting God’s warning message out to this sin-sick world. God has trained ministers to teach the members and help prepare them for their future. But God’s chosen apostle and, to a lesser extent, his evangelists also speak out God’s message to this world, primarily as a warning. These faithful men still cannot do it alone. It is the encouragement, daily prayers, offerings and tithes of God’s faithful members supporting God’s Work that greatly helps hasten righteousness today. God also uses that warning message to call new members into His Church so the work of the Church can continually expand. Again, what an opportunity!
This world’s immediate future will be full of some black days and nightmarish calamities. The vast majority of humanity will be caught off guard and shocked mentally and emotionally. At Christ’s return, many will be depressed and hopeless. But that is where God’s resurrected and changed saints come on the scene. We will be as brilliant as the clearest blue sky and shine like the stars forever and ever. Let’s take these poetic images—our hope—and use them to prepare for the future God has prepared for us. Our final brilliance depends on what we do today!
There is a spectacularly cosmic reason why God made you. Read Herbert W. Armstrong’s free book The Incredible Human Potential to learn what that is.