So he came near where I stood, and when he came I was afraid and fell on my face; but he said to me, “Understand, son of man, that the vision refers to the time of the end.” Daniel 8:17
Jim Mattis said, “The Marines teach you, above all, how to adapt, improvise, and overcome. But they expect you to have done your homework, to have mastered your profession. Amateur performance is anathema.”1
On earth we plan, then adapt and improvise because we don’t know the future. Every mission contains unknown elements. Even when we’ve done our homework, we’re still amateurs when it comes to knowing the future. But God is no amateur. He knows the details of every remaining day. He knows what will happen “at the time of the end.”
In Daniel 8, the angel Gabriel gave Daniel specific information about the unfolding events in Persia and Greece, which contained implications for the latter days of world history. God has everything under His control, and He is guiding us and our planet toward His climactic end.
Today rest assured: God is always accomplishing His plan to prepare the way for His people. Plan, pray, and then watch His purposes unfold.
In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.
Jim Mattis and Bing West, Call Sign Chaos (New York: NY: Random House, 2019), XI.
Daniel 3:8-18, The Courage To Stand
Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants. Psalm 116:15
Sculptor Liz Shepherd’s 2018 exhibition The Wait was described by a Boston Globe correspondent as “evok[ing] the precious, exposed, and transcendent in life.” Inspired by the time Shepherd spent at her dying father’s bedside, the exhibition attempts to convey yearning, the emptiness of loss, and the fragile sense that loved ones are just out of reach.
The idea that death is precious might seem counterintuitive; however, the psalmist declares, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants” (Psalm 116:15). God treasures the death of His people, for in their passing He welcomes them home.
Who are these faithful servants (“saints” nkjv) of God? According to the psalmist, they are those who serve God in gratitude for His deliverance, who call on His name, and who honor the words they speak before Him (Psalm 116:16–18). Such actions represent deliberate choices to walk with God, accept the freedom He offers, and cultivate a relationship with Him.
In so doing, we find ourselves in the company of Jesus, who is “chosen by God and precious to him . . . . For in Scripture it says: ‘See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame’ ” (1 Peter 2:4–6). When our trust is in God, our departure from this life is precious in His sight.
Reflect & Pray
How does your perception of death compare with God’s view of the passing of His people? To what extent is your perception influenced by what the Bible says about death?
Dear God, help me to trust You even in the challenges and losses of life.
“And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof.” (Genesis 2:21)
This is the first of seven occurrences of the unusual term “deep sleep” (Hebrew tardema) in the Old Testament. In each case it seems to refer to a special state induced by the Lord Himself in order to convey an important revelation to, or through, the person experiencing it.
In Adam’s case, God made a bride for him during his deep sleep from whose seed would be born all the nations of the earth. “And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man” (v. 22). The covenant God made with Adam and Eve delegated dominion over the earth to their descendants.
The second deep sleep was that which “fell upon Abram” (Genesis 15:12) when God passed between the sacrificial animals and established His great covenant with him, promising that from his seed would be born the chosen nation. “And I will make of thee a great nation” (12:2). The Abrahamic covenant also delegated the central land of the earth to Isaac’s descendants (15:18-21) and promised that “in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (12:3).
But Adam was a type of Christ and Abraham was a type of Christ, and their deep sleeps pre-figured His own deep sleep of death on the cross. There He became the last Adam and the promised seed, dying to give life to His great bride and living again to establish a holy nation of the redeemed, fulfilling all of God’s ancient covenants, and instituting the eternal New Covenant in His own blood.
When Adam fell into a deep sleep, a bride was born; when Abraham fell into his deep sleep, a nation was born. But when Christ slept deeply in death on the cross and in the tomb, death and hell were judged, and a new world was born. HMM
(For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)
The temptation to forget the few spiritual essentials and to go wandering off after unimportant things is very strong, especially to Christians of a certain curious type of mind. Such persons find the great majors of the faith of our fathers altogether too tame for them. Their souls loathe that light bread; their appetites crave the gamy tang of fresh-killed meat. They take great pride in their reputation as being mighty hunters before the Lord, and any time we look out we may see them returning from the chase with some new mystery hanging limply over their shoulder.
Usually the game they bring down is something on which there is a biblical closed season. Some vague hint in the Scriptures, some obscure verse about which the translators disagree, some marginal note for which there is not much scholarly authority: these are their favorite meat. They are especially skillful at propounding notions which have never been a part of the Christian heritage of truth. Their enthusiasm mounts with the uncertainty of their position, and their dogmatism grows firmer in proportion to the mystery which surrounds their subject. NCA012-013
Lord, keep me faithful to Your Word, give me understanding of the unfathomable truths contained therein, but deliver me from that danger of seeking some new insight to enhance my reputation as some kind of brilliant scholar. Amen.
And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh.
God always works where His people meet His conditions, but only when and as they do….
The first condition is oneness of mind among the persons who are seeking the visitation. “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; as the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore” (Psalm 133:1-3).
Here the unity precedes the blessing, and so it is throughout the Bible. An individual may seek and obtain great spiritual help from God; and that is one thing. For a company of people to unite to seek a new visitation from God for the entire group is quite another thing, and is a spiritual labor greatly superior to the first. PTP059-060
What a joyful experience it is for us in this church age to be part of a congregation drawn together by the desire to know God’s presence, to sense His nearness. TRA106
During Holy Week, our corps sponsored a blood donation drive. Being eager to set a good example for the troops, I gave a pint of my best type O+. They asked me all manner of questions concerning my health and past medical history. After being tested and screened, they laid me down on the table and siphoned off a pint of the precious, life-giving fluid. Eventually my blood would be used either whole for transfusion or in parts for platelet and plasma. It brings a certain comfort to imagine that my blood will be used to save the life of an accident victim or to sustain life during surgery.
There is something special about blood. We have been taught that it is the conduit that carries oxygen and nourishment to every cell of the body while carrying off toxic waste products. We have a deep reverence for this sacred body fluid. Without it, we would quickly die.
No one from the Red Cross asked Jesus if He was healthy enough to give blood. They didn’t use a sterile needle to extract an even pint. A Roman soldier used a whip made of many leather strands, each tipped with a piece of stone or metal that literally tore skin and muscle off the bone. Another shoved a crown of thorns on His brow. No one was there to give Jesus orange juice and cookies or present Him with a donor’s button. No one asked if it was all right as His blood fell drop by drop into the dust of Golgotha. There on that Good Friday, as the High Priest offered a lamb for the sins of Israel, the sinless Lamb of God gave His life as a ransom for us, to pay the price and penalty of our sin.
My blood may be used to save a life. Yet in spite of all that science and medicine can do, the patient will eventually die. Jesus gave His blood, gave it to save lives from hell so that they will never die spiritually. “He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities… and by His wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).
My blood will come through intravenously in a hospital for a stranger I will never know. Jesus’ blood was shed for people He knew and loved—you and me. He died not just for a transfusion, but for a transformation of stubborn, rebellious, selfish, willful sinners into God’s children. All who will accept Jesus Christ receive the gift of His life, His own shed blood to redeem us from sin. This is a gift that truly keeps on giving.
A. Kenneth Wilson, The War Cry