“But the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits,” Daniel 11:32.
I recall reading that Charles Haddon Spurgeon once said, regarding his selecting of texts to preach on, that when he read his Bible, verses jumped out at him crying out,’PREACH ME’!
Now I am by no means a CHS! But his Bible is my Bible and acts it in a very similar fashion. I cannot read the chapters allocated in my Bible-reading calendar without a similar experience. My days of pulpit preaching appear to be over, but I still can tap with two fingers on my laptop and there are verses every day that demand that I begin tapping!
Today, I read the eleventh chapter of Daniel. I then went on to read 1 Timothy 4. As I read verse 6, “If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained,” I was reminded of what I had read in Daniel 11 and heard again the cry to seek to expound what Daniel had recorded of his vision.
Paul, in his exhortation to Timothy was referring to his opening words in chapter 4, when he said: “If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things . . . .” The ‘these things’ was the Holy Spirit’s ‘express’ warning of a departure from the faith in the “the latter times’. How often the inspired writers were directed of God to disclose events in ‘the latter times”!
Preacher — how often do you expound what the Lord would have His people know about these ‘latter times’ in which we live?
Could I turn your attention to Daniel 11 and deal with the subject — ‘The character of a faithful remnant in the very last days.’
The verse 32 and the words found there will serve as the basis of this study. “But the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.”
The word ‘but’ is a word which introduces a contrast. The people here referred to are indeed a contrast to others referred to in this portion of God’s Word. Let me establish first of all that :
I. DANIEL CHAPTER ELEVEN IS DEALING WITH THE DAYS AT THE VERY END OF THIS AGE.
This I can easily see from the verses 36-45. That these verses deal with the final days of Antichrist’s regime may be seen from what Daniel says in verse 31. “And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.”
The final words of that verse are referred to by the Saviour in Matthew 24, a chapter in which He expounds to His enquiring disciples, who are anxious to know the circumstances surrounding His return, and the end of the world, or ‘age’ as the word should be translated (Matthew 24:3).
In the verses 15-21 we read :“When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: for then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.”
The Saviour quotes Daniel 11:31 as a clear indication of the beginning of the last three and a half years of this age, the period of the ‘great tribulation which the Jewish nation in particular will experience at the hands of the Antichrist.
We have therefore a clear and graphic ‘timeline’ given us of when it is Daniel is prophesying.
II. WE ARE TOLD THAT THERE WILL BE A FAITHFUL REMNANT WITNESSING FOR CHRIST DURNG, THIS TIME OF TRIBULATION
“And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits,” Daniel 11:32. In the midst of the corruption and flattery of Antichrist and his allies, there is a people who are witnessing most effectively for the Lord Jesus.
It reminds me of the scene at Calvary when in the midst of all the cruel rejection and mockery of the Saviour, God raised up the ‘dying thief’ to bear witness to the holiness, the true identity and glory of the Lord Jesus.
“Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom,” Luke 23:40-42.
Concerning this latter remnant, consider:
1. They are marked by a knowledge of God. This is not a mere ‘knowing about God’, the ability to quote a catechism in which great truths about God are written. It is not merely being able to quote the Bible and having something of a knowledge of its revelation of God. How much the devil knows about God, he has frequently been in His presence and conversed with Him, yet he does not KNOW God!
The word translated ‘know’ is elsewhere translated as ‘understand’ and having an ‘acquaintance’. Its first appearance is in Genesis 3:5. “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” The knowledge that God had of the sin of Eve in eating the forbidden was an utterly full and complete knowledge. Such is the nature of the knowledge the true believer has of his God. The Saviour’s encounter with the blind man of John 9, ended with this exchange. “Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him,” verses 35-38. The man had no knowledge of God or Christ for he had been healed by Christ and yet did not know Him. But now the Saviour has introduced Himself and by divine grace granted to the man a true knowledge of Himself. In consequence the healed man says: “Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.” True knowledge involves saving faith and reverent worship.
Such will be the character of those referred to in our text.
2. Another feature of their character is that they are strong. That is translated by a variety of English words in our Bible but I would draw attention to one alternative translation. The Hebrew word khaw-zak appears in 2 Kings 12:5. “Let the priests take it to them, every man of his acquaintance: and let them repair the breaches of the house, wheresoever any breach shall be found.” here it is translated by the word ‘repair’. All repairs leave behind a strengthened item. In this case it was the walls of the temple that were strengthened by the repairs carried out. The parallel is easily seen in the case of a saved person. Sin had wrought havoc in their lives but saving grace has repaired and strengthened them.
Paul speaks of that building and repairing work in his letter to the church at Ephesus. “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit,” 2:20-22.
There is the ‘strength’ in a true believer that God has implanted. The Christian is one “strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man,” Ephesians 3:16.
Dear Christian, the fulness of such strength is required by any who would stand for God in defiance of the increasing aggression of the world around. It will be especially required in the last days, the days of Antichrist’s power. We. must array ourselves with the protection God provides for us.
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand,” Ephesians 6:10-13.
What an enemy is arrayed against us! We must like David of old, we must face such with more than a sling and stone! “Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD’S, and he will give you into our hands,” 1 Samuel 17:45-47.
Being armed with the strength of God enables us, like David, to confidently face the enemy.
3. Again, we must note that the believers will accomplish great works. The word exploits is in italics. That means that it has been put there by our translators to indicate that it is not found in the original Hebrew, but has been put in to help us understand the full meaning of the Hebrew word aw-saw, translated as ‘do’ in the verse. They will act with effect. They will have an impact upon the affairs of their day. They will leave an impression on the society of their day!
An example of the impression of the latter day Christian witness may be seen in Revelation 11:3-7.
“And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will. And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them”
That is a most powerful witness! Of course, not every believer will be enabled by God to act so but the actions of these two men indicate that God will manifest his power through His people at the close of this age in a most marvellous manner.
III. I WOULD WISH TO SUBSTANTIATE FROM GOD’S WORD THE ASSERTIONS I HAVE MADE REGARDING THIS POWERFUL CHRISTIAN WITNESS TAKING PLACE IN THE DAYS OF THE ANTICHRIST.
Many of God’s people, good people, have been misled into believing that before the time of Antichrist and the ‘great tribulation’ against the Jewish nation takes place, the redeemed people of God shall be ’secretly raptured’ away to heaven.
That notion is but a comparatively recent false notion. It originated with J N Darby in the early part of the 19th century. There is no basis whatever in the Bible for this view.
A look at Daniel chapter 11 will clearly show that to be so.
1. This bold and triumphant witness of Christians will take place in the darkest days of Antichrist’s reign. It is accepted, almost without question that Daniel 11:21 refers to the Antichrist.
“And in his estate shall stand up a vile person, to whom they shall not give the honour of the kingdom: but he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries.”
From verse 21, the prophecy of Daniel explains the actions of this ‘vile’ or ‘contemptible’ person. There is a series of statements saying that ‘he shall’ (verses 21, 23, 25, 28, 29, 30, 31) be engaged in activities from his ’standing up’ until the event that Christ indicates will mark the commencement of the ‘great tribulation’, in verse 31. “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)” Matthew 24:15.
Now the point I am making is this. The record of the verses 21 to 31 form an unbreakable narrative that clearly indicates that the ‘vile person’ is the same one that pollutes “the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.” Furthermore, it is at that very time that the Lord raises up the formidable witness of those “that do know their God (and) shall be strong, and do exploits”, in Antichrist’s dominion!
These bold Christians are mentioned in Revelation 20:4. “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.”
It was this very verse which, when discussed with Pastor James Kyle Paisley by Charles Beattie, a man I never met in this life but whose daughter Ann, I married some five years after he went to be with the Lord, that brought the old pastor to a rejection of the error of a ‘secret rapture! They both saw that amongst the saints reigning with Christ during His Millennial Kingdom were those who suffered during the times of ‘the beast’ and ‘his image’ and ‘his mark’. These things clearly indicate that they served and stood up for the truth of God in the days of the Antichrist. Revelation 13 clearly describes the person and activities of the Antichrist.
“And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world,” Revelation 13:5-8.
There will be ‘saints’, the holy people, alive and witnessing in the days of Antichrist. These verses expose the ‘secret rapture’ teaching as false. The word translated ‘saints’ is applied by Paul when he wrote to the people of God at Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, Philippi, Colosse, Thessalonica, in his epistles to Timothy, Philemon and to the Hebrews. Likewise Peter and Jude and John in many places in His Book of the Revelation. There can be no doubt that Christians will be in this world still during the last three and half years or twelve hundred and sixty days of this age, when Antichrist is at his zenith of power and wickedness.
2. Christ’s exhortation in Matthew 24:15, clearly indicates that there will be in Jerusalem during the reign of Antichrist, those whom the Saviour expects to heed and obey His warning. It is stated by the advocates of the ‘secret rapture’ theory that Christ is directing these words to the Jewish people in that time which lies in the future. That is most foolish.
The average Jew will not even mention the name of the Lord Jesus, never mind read, study and obey these words which are found in the New Testament, a book the average religious Jew despises. This is a statement of fact and not a biased and prejudiced utterance of one who hates the Jew.
Please read my article, Why we should love the Jewish people!
3. In closing, I would draw attention again to Revelation chapter 11. Please read this chapter and you will see clear evidence of a bold Christian witness in thosedays. There will be in Jerusalem those specifically named by the Saviour, (remember He is especially the author of this final book of the Bible, Revelation 1:1) as His ‘two witnesses’, just before the sounding of the seventh and final trumpet and that glorious and triumphant shout in heaven. “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever,” verse 15.
As the Hebrews marched out of Egypt in triumph and not with their ‘tails between their legs’ (Exodus 6:26, 7:4, 12:17, 51) leaving behind a defeated and humiliated Pharaoh, even so it will be in the day that Christ comes down to deliver His saints. There will be no secret flight away from the enemy but a bold confronting of him by those believers alive at that time.
O yes, “some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed,” Daniel 11:35. But the Lord will only thus prove that He will enable us to say with Paul, “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place,” 2 Corinthians 2:14. Those faithful unto death in Antichrist’s day will be exalting the Lord even higher while His enemies, by murdering His saints, will seek to bring down His name to the dust.
So it has ever been.
“And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: and others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect. Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds,” Hebrews 11:32-12:3.
As it has ever been for the child of God — “In the world ye shall have tribulation”, so it will be to the end of this age. But the Saviour would offer us words to enable those called upon to live through those days to bear up under such a trial! “But be of good cheer; I have overcome the world,” John 16:33.
Rev Ivan Foster (Rtd)
26th October, 2023