GETTING THE MESSAGE/Overcoming the devil through Christ
In Daniel chapter 12, we get to the end of a prophecy an angel is giving to Daniel that began in chapter ten. Daniel twelve is about “the time of the end.” Verse one says, “At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time.”
In Revelation 12, the coming of Christ coming into the world is connected with Michael and his angels fighting against Satan and his angels. Satan, called “the deceiver of the whole world,” is cast down to the earth, and his angels are thrown down with him. Cast down to the earth shows a restriction of the power of the devil.
In Revelation 20, the devil is bound for this purpose: “so that he might not deceive the nations any longer.” We can assume the angel doing the binding was Michael. And it is probably also the case that the one who restrains the “man of lawlessness” Paul mentions in 2nd Thessalonians 2 is also Michael. This restraint of the devil means that Christ will build His church as the gospel is proclaimed to all the nations that are in darkness. Christ is the light of the world. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation.
In Revelation 12, Satan being cast down doesn’t prevent him from making war on the saints. Peter teaches us that the devil, “prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he might devour.” So we must always be watchful over our souls. But the promise is that the one in Christians (the Holy Spirit) is greater than Satan, so Christians might suffer, but they need not be deceived. They have the truth of Christ, and will overcome the devil by the blood of the Lamb.
Daniel 12:1 says there will be trouble at some point unlike any other. Trouble comes in many forms, but the danger from this trouble is the threat of being deceived. It is the time Jesus in Matthew 24 says might even deceive the elect (His people) if that was possible.
We also see this time in Revelation 13 when the beast controlled by the devil is worshiped by the whole world except for those “written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.” Not coincidentally, we find the exact language in Daniel 12:1, “But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book.”
Having your name in the book is of critical importance. Those in it have salvation and the value of salvation is shown in verse 2: “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.” The Lord Jesus references these words when He says in John 5 that He will be the Judge of men and that some will be resurrected on that day to life and others to the resurrection of judgment.
So we should ask, first, how can I not be deceived by the devil, and secondly, how can I know my name is written in the book of life? To understand the answer to both, we need to face the reality of the “everlasting” nature of the judgment. It is clear from this passage that even if hell itself breaks loose on earth, there will be nothing more important at that moment than our relationship to God. We shall be face to face with our own destiny.
The Lord makes clear that the judgment will determine the state of our soul forever. Christ’s resurrection proves that whatever He says about the future resurrection of men is true. Verse 2 says men will be raised to shame and everlasting contempt. This points us to the truth of the gospel.
Jesus died naked and shamefully on the cross because He suffered God’s judgement in the place of sinners. Men who hear the gospel are offered forgiveness of their sins, and to be clothed in the righteousness of Christ; all sin gone from God’s sight. Without Christ, the guilt and shame of sin remains when men stand in judgment. They will not be in the Lamb’s book of life.
Those who do not have Christ will stand before God and their sins will be made public. There will never be an offer from God to clothe them with the robes of Christ’s righteousness. That offer is now, in this world. It is in knowing Christ that you can know that your name is in the book of life.
The Rev. Chris Shelton is pastor of Union’s First Presbyterian Church.