||Bible from 30,000 Feet, The
||Destination: Daniel 7-12
You can open in your Bibles tonight to the Book of Daniel, and we will study the Book of Daniel, beginning in Chapter 7, that's what we are going to overview tonight, the second half of Daniel, and we want to do it while the light is remaining, and you can read with us in your Bible. Let's have a word of prayer.
Heavenly Father, we have already said it but we invite You as our guest of honor. We want You to rule and reign over this meeting tonight. We have gathered to worship You, we have gathered in Your name, it's really all about You, it's not about a band, or about a person, or a Bible teacher, or a group of people or friends, this is about You, and we want to find out what Your plan is for us. How we fit into Your plan for the nations, for Israel, and for the end times. And thank You Lord that, in this peaceful place, we can study such a dynamic book as the Book of Daniel. So bless these Your people as we gather and enjoy the evening. In Jesus' name, Amen!
Well, if you have ever been to the east coast, like to New York, and if you have ever stood out looking toward the harbor, you see that huge Statue of Liberty with her hand raised high. And for over a hundred years she has welcomed hundreds of thousands of people into our country. At the base of that statue is part of a poem by a woman named, Emma Lazarus, I have a hunch some of you know it.
"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free," and so teams of multitudes from nations around the world have called the United States of America their home. And they have all rallied around that great document. The nation was founded by that document, when it was signed on July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence.
But this way you ought to know. The Declaration of Independence which is that secular document that frames this country's vision; has strong ties to the spiritual beliefs of our founding fathers. And they wrote about that in the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, and among these, Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."
It was a Declaration of Independence from other nations, but it was a Declaration of Dependence upon God Himself. And so, it's July 2, and in two days will be July 4, tonight we are going to have fireworks and celebrate freedom. A freedom that our country enjoys, but more than that, the freedom that we have not only living in a free country, but we have been set free from sin and eternal death by the Lord Jesus Christ, so we get to doubly celebrate tonight.
Now the nation of Israel was at one time, one nation under God. It was a place that worshiped, and hallowed, and respected God, but as history went on -- we have seen in the Bible from 30,000 feet. As history went on, the nation turned from God toward other Gods, following their own ways, becoming independent rather than dependent upon the Lord. So what happened? They lost their freedom. They were eventually taken captive and they found themselves in Babylon, and that's where Daniel finds himself. And that's where Daniel writes this book.
Now Babylon, let me just give you a picture in your mind at what it looked like. It was magnificent. The walls of Babylons were 85 feet thick, you could have chariot races on top, several abreast all around the 60 mile perimeter of the city. 85 feet thick, the walls extended 300 feet high in the air. Every 65 feet was a tower, another watch tower in Babylon to keep out the invaders. And as I said that wall 300 feet went all the way around the city of Babylon for 60 miles in circumference, it was intimidating to go there. Daniel found himself there.
If Daniel were to have walked through the central corridor of the city, called the Ishtar Gate, he would find himself on a road of imported limestones 65 feet wide, flanked on either side by red tile sidewalks, flanked on either side by a wall with blue tile, and yellow decorations of lions, and dragons, that was the motif of Babylon. The Euphrates river ran right through the middle of that city, it was like the ancient Venice of the Middle-East. The hanging gardens of Nebuchadnezzar were there. It was a spectacular sight, one of the seven wonders of the world.
And yet, this magnificent city, this intimidating city that Daniel was in had a man who was a King filled with pride, and even though God in heaven revealed Himself to that man, and even though that man for a while, seem to be dependent upon God, eventually because of pride, through the Prophet Daniel's prediction, Babylon fell as well. Not just Israel fell to Babylon, now Babylon gets destroyed by the Medo-Persian empire. So we have a world governing empire Babylon, followed by another world governing empire, the Medo-Persian government.
Now Chapter 1-6 we covered last time, that's historical. And that historic section talks about Daniel's life, and how he aged and how he ministered and served in Babylon. Now Chapters 7-12 are historic as much as prophetic. It's like an appendix of prophecy tagged on to Daniel's life. These were things he saw and wrote about through his entire career as he was in Babylon. Now I am going to tell you something, the Book of Daniel, and this section we are going to be in, and principally Chapter 9, which I am going to hover over tonight. It's the Bible from 30,000 feet, but tonight we are going to be in a helicopter hovering over Daniel Chapter 9.
This is the section of scripture. That when I was working in the secular field in the medical field, I remember pulling out Daniel Chapter 9, and I would always find my favorite atheist or favorite agnostic, doctor or nurse, from medical-tech running around the hospital. And when we had a break, I pull out the Book of Daniel, and I would challenge their pre-conceptions of God and the Bible, and I led more people in that secular environment to Christ, using the Book of Daniel than anything else in the scripture. It's very exciting. And what we get here, and we will only see it briefly is a whole overview of God's plan for the nation of Israel, all the way up to the end times.
Now let me tell you what prophecy is like. Let's say, we are sitting at a parade, okay, so let's say we are all sitting at the corner of Central in Carlisle, and we are watching the parade go down Central, and we love it. The bicycle clowns go by and we all clap, and the high school queen goes by and we all clap, and whoever else goes by. And we are all excited at this parade.
One of our friends comes to the parade late, and says, "Oh! Did I miss the bicycle clowns, they are my favorite, I want to see the clowns on the bicycles. Did I miss them?" And you say, "Well, you just missed them, they already went by, you are a little bit late, but if you go ahead of the parade, you will be able to see, what's passed." And he go, "Great! I will go ahead and I'll see what you have already seen."
Another one of your friends comes by a little bit later and says, "Hey! Has the mayors float come by, I want to see the mayor personally, and I hear his float is just killer." And you say, "No, we haven't seen it yet, it's probably still at the beginning, so if you go back, you will be able to see what's ahead for us."
Now the best view is, if you could be in a helicopter, or a blimp and you could hover over the parade, and see it from a bird's eye view, you would see it all at one time. You go, "There is the mayor old float, there is the clowns on bicycles, there is the high school queen, and there is something I missed, because I came a little bit late", you can see it all in one fell swoop.
That's the advantage God has with prophecy, He sees it all in one fell swoop, and He gives some of that information to Daniel, the Prophet. For Daniel, it's all future. For us some of it has already been fulfilled, and some of it is yet to be fulfilled, it is still future.
Now Chapter 7, we started on last week, I am going to just describe it to you if I can. In Daniel, Chapter 7, he sees a vision, it's at night and God gives him His own night time vision very similar to King Nebuchadnezzar's vision in Chapter 2. The King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar saw a succession of world empires. He saw them as a huge statue of many different metals, gold, silver, bronze, iron, and iron and clay. Daniel gets a vision, but he sees them from God's perspective, not this beautiful image of gold and polished metal, but ferocious beasts, wild animals; that's how God sees all of the kingdoms run by men.
The first animal that he saw in his vision was a lion, and the lion had the wings of an eagle, and the eagle with -- or the lion with the wings of an eagle was picked up into the air and then made to stand on two feet and two legs like a man and a man's heart was given to the lion. That symbolized the kingdom of Babylon. That was actually the motif of the Babylonians, a winged lion. And as we go through the Chapter, God says, "Daniel, that's the nation of Babylon which will be overtaken by another one."
The second animal that he sees in his vision is a bear, and the bear is raised up on one side and there are three ribs in its mouth, and he hears a voice that says, "Arise and devour much flesh" and that represents the second kingdom the Medo-Persian empire which did take over Babylon.
Daniel sees a third animal in his dream, the third one is a leopard. But get this, this leopard has bird wings, four bird wings on the back and not one head, but four heads. So four bird wings and four heads, and that represents the Grecian Empire under Alexander the Great which would be later on dispersed to four generals, when he died.
The last vision that Daniel sees, the last beast in this dream is a ferocious, he calls it a terrible and awesome beast, unlike the previous three, with iron teeth and trampling everywhere it goes, and that is a future empire which turned out many years later to be the Roman Empire which would govern the earth. So I want you to look at in Chapter 8, beginning in Verse 5 where two nations are highlighted. Now follow me, not four not Babylon, not Medo-Persian, not Greece, not Rome. Two nations are in this next vision of Chapter 8, this time they are depicted a little bit differently, one kingdom the Medo-Persian Empire is depicted as a ram with two horns, one a little bit longer than the other because the media side of the Medo-Persian coalition was much stronger.
The ram which was very, very strong was overtaken by a goat, and I called the last week 'Turbo Goat' because it moves really fast, Verse 5. I was considering suddenly a male goat came from the west, across the surface of the whole earth without touching the ground and the goat had a notable horn between its eyes. Verse 8, therefore the male goat grew very great, but when he became strong the large horn was broken and in its place four notable ones came up toward the four winds of heaven.
This is a dream of what would happen in the future from Daniel's perspective, to us it's history. The Medo-Persian Empire typified by the ram was a great powerful governing kingdom. It had a large army, massive army and Alexander the Great who was in Greece had a very small army in comparison but he moved very, very swiftly. And the kingdom of Greece was characterized by two things, number one, the speed of their victory.
They moved very quickly. Alexander the Great was a petty prince at age 18, his dad was Philip of Macedon, the great Macedonian King. Alexander was nothing. In four years this kid had such ambition, he practically ruled the world and at age 31 when he died he did rule the entire world. He was in-charge of every known kingdom at that time. So he moved very, very swiftly as the dream portrayed.
The second thing was that, speed of the breakup of his kingdom. Now remember Daniel sees four wings, and four heads of the beast and four horns in the second dream. When Alexander the Great died in Babylon, they asked him, "Okay, who is going to take over your kingdom?" He gave one answer, he said, "Give it to the strong." And then he died. And when he died, they said, "What does that mean, give it to the strong?" And so everybody around them said, "He must mean it is to be divided up to his four Generals who were around his death-bed."
Okay, so follow me, the kingdom of Greece as the dream predicted was divided up into four areas, one General named Cassander took the area of Macedonia, and the kingdom of Thrace in Greece. Lysimachus took Asia Minor; third General Seleucus took the area of Asia and Syria. And then the last one Ptolemy spelled with a P took the area of Egypt. So the kingdom fell to these four Generals. Now listen to this, Verse 9, "Out of one of them came a little horn which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east and toward the glorious land," that can be only the land of Israel.
Verse 11, "He even exalted himself as high as the Prince of the host and by him the daily sacrifices were taken away and the place of his sanctuary was cast out."
Now we know from history who this notable King is. There were several kings up in Syria, called Seleucid Kings because the Seleucus, the General, remember. The eighth Seleucid King was a guy by the name of Antiochus IV; Antiochus IV, he hated the Jewish nation with a passion. He gave himself a name, he called himself Phaius Antiochus, Phaius Epiphanes which means I am God now made manifest to the world. Do you think he had a pride problem? A little bit arrogant, huh, I am God, now manifest to the world, and he was called Antiochus Epiphanes. Antiochus the one made manifest
The Jews called him Antiochus Epimenides which means the mad man, the crazy dude, and you can see why? Because he came in, ransacked Jerusalem, destroyed part of the temple, dedicated it to the false God of Zeus, sacrificed a pig on the alter of sacrifice out in the courtyard. Sprinkled the pig juices all over the temple, very, very un-kosher as you know. Commanded the Sabbath to be stopped, all circumcisions to be stopped. He killed 80,000 Jews and sold 40,000 of them as slaves. And he is predicted throughout the book of Daniel, as somebody who so hated the Jews that he would become a type of somebody else who will come in the future who also hates the Jews and do what he has already done.
The term the abomination of desolation comes from Antiochus Epiphanes, he commanded the sacrifices to be stopped and they continued to be stopped until a guy by the name of Judas Maccabeus who started a revolt and ended a revolt on the 25th day of Kislev the Jewish month, we call that Hannukah where they dedicated a temple back up and freed the people. He becomes a type of another abomination of desolation which is yet future, you go, how do you know it's future? Because long after this guy was born lived and died, Antiochus Epiphanes, Jesus Christ predicted the abomination of desolation as something future, it's going to come, which means, what you have seen in your history is only a type of what is yet to come in the future, and that's Daniel, Chapter 8.
Now Daniel Chapter 9 and we are going to sum up, don't worry, the last three chapters very quickly. But Daniel Chapter 9, is one of the highlights, one of the hallmarks, one of the towers of scripture. It's like the Eiffel Tower or Mount Rushmore or something that is very notable and recognizable and very, very powerful.
Verse 1, In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the lineage of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans. In the first year of his reign, I Daniel understood by the number of the years specified by the word of the Lord through Jeremiah, the Prophet, that he would accomplished 70 years in the desolation of Jerusalem. Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer, supplications with fasting, sackcloth and ashes, and I pray to the God or to the Lord, my God and made confession and I said, "Oh Lord! Great and awesome God who keeps covenant and mercy with those who love You and with those who keep his commandments."
Look at Verse 21, yes, while was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel. Hey, that's cool, the angel Gabriel gave a visit to this dude. Very, very cool! The man Gabriel whom I had seen at the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, reached me about the time of the evening offering and he informed me and talked with me and he said, "O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you skill to understand. At the beginning of your supplications, the command went out and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved, therefore consider the matter and understand the vision."
Now listen to the vision. 70 weeks are determined for your people, your people are the Jewish people and for your Holy City, that would be the City of Jerusalem to finish transgression, make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up prophecy and vision, and to anoint the most Holy.
You see the word 'Determined' in that Verse? 70 weeks are determined; that's a word that means to cut or to divide. In other words, out of all of human history, God has set aside a period of time called here, the 70 weeks of Daniel, he has cut it out or marked it out as a special divine timetable of certain things that are going to be accomplished.
Now it says there are 70 weeks. I am sort of sorry that you have that translation because literally it doesn't read 70 weeks, literally it says seventy sevens, shavuim shavim(ph), seventy sevens are determined or marked out for your people.
So you say seventy seven, what? Okay so, it's translated weeks, it could be days, it could be years, the Bible uses them both ways. Okay, here is a clue. Daniel has been praying about the 70 year captivity, right? And then the angel comes and says, "70 sets of 7 something are determined for your people and for the Holy City."
Now, let me just boil it down. The consensus of most scholars, Christian and Jewish is that this refers to, years not days, or seventy weeks of years or 490 years are determined for your people and your city, follow me, a timetable of 490 years seventy sevens. In fact one Bible translation, the New Century Version, translates it seventy times seven years are 490 years.
Okay, Verse 25, "Know therefore", that's the command, "Know therefore and understand." So we have got to leave tonight understanding this. "Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks." That would be 49 years and 62 weeks, that would be 434 more years or so far, a total of 483 years. The street shall be built again and the wall even in troublesome times.
And after the 62 weeks, listen, Messiah will be cut off but not for himself and the people of the Prince, who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary and the end of it shall be with a flood, and till the end war and desolations are determined, and then Verse 27 speaks about that final week or the 70th week of Daniel.
Now did you hear that or did you read that with me? The exact time of Messiah's arrival to the Holy City of Jerusalem is predicted in these verses. In other words, at the end of the 69th week, at the end of the 483 year count, Messiah will come to the city and Messiah will be killed, cut off, but not for himself but for the people.
So what I need to determine is this, what is the time that I start the counting? I am given seven weeks, I am given 62 weeks or 69 weeks of years, 483 years from a certain starting point, what does it say?
From the going forth of the commandment to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Messiah, will be 483 years. Well, fortunately, I know exactly when that date in history was. There were four different edicts given for the Jews to go back, build the temple, build the city. But the one that catches our attention is the command given in Nehemiah, Chapter 2, for them to go back and restore the street and build the wall of the city as the prophecy says. And that was given by Artaxerxes Longimanus on March 14, 445 BC. We have that date, it's in history.
It should mean that I could count 483 years exactly from March 14, 445 BC, and at the end of that I would come up to Jesus coming to Jerusalem as the prophecy says. When did Jesus enter Jerusalem? Jesus entered Jerusalem on April 6, 32 AD.
Let's take it a step further. Let's boil down the 483 years into days -- let's see if God is exact or He is just sort of guessing it something. If I would have boiled down 483 years into days, I come up with 173,880 days exactly. It should mean then that I could count from March 14, 445 BC, 173,880 days, and it says Messiah will come to the Holy City.
Well, a guy named Sir Robert Anderson, have you heard that name? Sir Robert Anderson? He was the Head of Scotland Yard Criminal Investigation, wrote a book called 'The Coming Prince' where he tabulated, he did all of the historical research. He counted 173,880 days from March 14, 445 BC and it just so happened to be April 6, 32 AD or the 10, of Nissan in the Jewish calendar. The only day Jesus allowed himself to be publicly proclaimed as the Messiah of the nation, remember the day? He said to his disciples, "Hey, go in the village next door and get a little donkey and bring him here. I am going to sit on him." Why? "Because Jesus likes donkey rides?"
No, because he is fulfilling Zechariah, Chapter 9, Verse 9. "Rejoice, O Zion! Shout, daughter of Jerusalem! Look your King is coming to you, just in having salvation lowly on a donkey, on the colt, a foal of a donkey, fulfilling, Zechariah, Chapter 9 and Daniel 9:25, Jesus comes in and the only time we read in Jesus' whole life the nation says, "Hossana, bless it is, he who comes in the name of the Lord."
And remember what the Jewish leaders said, "Master, rebuke your disciples because they knew exactly what they were saying. They were saying, "He is the Messiah."
And Jesus said, "Well, okay, I can stop them, but if I do you will have the biggest rock concert on your hands, the rocks will sing themselves, they will cry out." And then Jesus wept over the city, and do you remember what He said when He wept over the city, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often I would have gathered you like a hen gathers her young, but you were not willing." and Jesus said these words, "If you had only known even you especially in this your day the things that make for your peace, but they are hidden from your eyes." What was Jesus speaking about? If you would only known this day, what day, exactly the 173,880th day from March 14, 445 BC on this day, April 6, 32 AD when Daniel said, "Your Prince the Messiah will come to your holy city and then He will be cut off. And a few days later Jesus at passover was cut off, but not for Himself, but for the sins of His nation.
Now you can see why this is fun scripture to pull out with skeptics and show them the power of the Bible and how God orchestrated the atonement of His Son. And I am doing this tonight, here's why it's important.
It shows us that all of history surrounds one important event and that is the atoning work of Messiah Yeshua/Jesus, our Savior. All of history, all God divides, all of time based on that event the atonement of Jesus Christ for your sins God loved you so much that He sent His Son to die for your sins and orchestrated the exact date so that you could believe and be saved. And it also shows us the plan that God has for His people, the Jewish nation. The 70 weeks of Daniel determined for Jerusalem and for these people.
Now Jesus came, but Jesus was largely, though not totally but largely rejected by the nation that He came to, He came into His own and His own what? Received Him not. They rejected Him. This nation, the one you and I live, in the United States of America, one nation under God, you know what's happening, you know what the courts are doing, you know what individuals are tirelessly trying to do, take God out of the constitution, take God out of the pledge of religions, remove God far away from government under this bogus idea never meant to be, just meaning the separation of Church and State.
So they say, let's just take God completely out of this nation and secularize it totally. Boy, that's dangerous to me. Back in the 19th century we had a visitor. Not we, my family or anybody you would know, but the United States of America had a visitor from France named Alexis De Tocqueville. Ever heard of Alexis De Tocqueville? This guy was an Ambassador to study this new experiment called the United States of America. It was an experiment in democracy, and the world thought, if you have country ruled for the people, by the people, of the people it will lead to anarchy.
It's no way to govern, you should always have a king, and so Alexis De Tocqueville came over and viewed the United States, this is what he said, America is the place where the Christian religion has kept the greatest power over men's souls and nothing better demonstrates how useful and natural it is to man, since the country. This country the United States is where it now has the widest sway and is the most enlightened nation and the freest nation."
He saw in looking at our country, that our freedom is tied to our belief in God and our Christian world view. As we celebrate our freedom tonight, we celebrate it rejoicing, but with the prayer that this country will turn back to God. That this country will turn in repentance back to the God who loves this country and died for this country. That's our prayer tonight.
Do you know what else Alexis De Tocqueville said? He said this, America is great because America is good. As soon as America ceases to be good she will no longer be great. So you'll wonder, well, how good is our nation? And we go, uh-oh, maybe we are not all that great like we once were because of what we have done with God similar to this nation, the nation of Israel.
Now Chapter 10, 11 and 12 are a unit in the book of Daniel, and let me just briefly go over them and then we will close and worship and then you can get your children and then we can have fireworks. Chapter 10 is an introduction to Chapter 11 and 12.
Daniel has given the future in more detail, in more visions starting from Darius the Mede; Darius the Mede the ruler of the Medo-Persian Empire along with Cyrus. Darius the Mede all the way Antiochus Epiphanes which I mentioned he has highlighted in Chapter 11 as well. All the way to the second coming of Jesus Christ at the end of Chapter 11 and on into the end of Chapter 12.
Now in Verse 2 and 3 of Daniel 10, he says, I mourned three full weeks, I ate no pleasant food, no meat, no wine came into my mouth. So whatever he saw really disturbed him, and he saw a vision of an angel in Verse Guest:, and he said to me, don't fear Daniel. From the first day that you set your heart to understand and to humble yourself before God, your words were heard, and I have come because of your words. But the Prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me 21 days, and behold, Michael, one of the chief priests or the chief princes came to help me for I have been left alone with the King of Persia.
Now briefly here we are getting inside into spiritual warfare. There was no human Prince of Persia. There was a king and I already mentioned the names of the coalition of kings, there wasn't a prince. But we are getting the back-stage view, like Job got the back-stage view of some other demonic spirit influencing the King of Persia trying to thwart God's plan as stated in Daniel's 70 weeks for the Jewish nation, he is trying to destroy God's plan for His people. And it seems that Satan has assigned this demonic being ruler-ship or influence over the King of Persia.
So 21 days this battle took place, 21 days this archangel had to fight with the demonic being, must be pretty powerful. Here's my question. If the Prince of Persia whatever that demonic being is was that powerful, what do you think that Prince of San Francisco is like? Or the Prince of Hollywood or Las Vegas? Must be pretty powerful.
In Chapter 11, you notice it's long, I am really not going to touch it. Here's why. Do you want to know why? Chapter 11 in 35 verses there is a 135 prophesies fulfilled historically with great intricacy. We don't have time. One time I did a whole study just on Chapter 11, but it's basically a conflict between, this is what it says, the kings of the north and the kings of the south. The kings of the south did this, and the kings of the north did that, then the kings of the north did that and the kings of the south did that. And you go, what's going on?
North of Israel was the Seleucid empire, south of Israel, Egypt, was the Ptolemaic empire after Alexander the Great died. For 200 years battles were going back and forth between north and south and sandwiched in the middle was the nation of Israel. So they are called the Kings of the North and Kings of the South relative to the position of the most important nation in God's agenda, Israel.
So these kings go back and forth, and the best way to understand Chapter 11 is this, verses 1-35 deal with battles that take place in Daniel's 69 weeks, the first 483 years the last part of the Chapter deals with battles that will take place in the tribulation period the seven year period, Daniel's 70th week including the Antichrist. Again that's just an overview but after all this is the Bible from 30,000 feet.
Chapter 12, Verse 1, "At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people, and there will be a time of trouble, see if this doesn't sound familiar, a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation even to that time, and to that time your people shall be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book."
"And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake." That's the resurrection. "Some to everlasting life." By the way first time in the Bible ever we find the word Everlasting Life is right there in that Verse. "Some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting contempt." "But those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever."
Do you want to be a wise man or a wise woman? I don't mean just a wise guy. You want to be wise? Take people to heaven with you, lead people to Christ, learn how to do evangelism, learn how to pray with people to get them to heaven. Those who are wise will shine like stars forever. Tonight you are going to see fireworks. I am going to encourage you to do something. When the fireworks are done, when the sparkle is out of the sky, when the last Roman candle or sparkle or whatever it is goes away keep looking up, if the clouds clear. And if the clouds clear typically in a clear night you see beyond the fireworks the stars. And when the fireworks die out, the stars are still shining. That's a wise person. An unwise person comes into the world, says it's all about me, I am going to make a splash in the sky like fireworks. And God says, let's dumb, it's better to shine forever than to just make a splash for an incident or be a king or queen for a day shine forever, and you do it by leading people to Christ. He who wins souls, Proverb says, is wise, and then you will shine. One of the great evangelists of our time, one of the great evangelists the world has ever known is at the end of his life Dr. Billy Graham.
He has led more people to Christ than anyone else in history. Knowing that a few years ago, I was back in North Carolina at the Cove of the Billy Graham Training Center and that night a few of us were invited over to Billy and Ruth's house for dinner. This is quite an honor, we went over there and had Chinese food and that night Billy was talking about the presidency he had known, and he turns to me I was doing the evening session at the Cove that night and Billy says, "I am coming to the Cove to hear you preach tonight." And honestly I said to him, "Oh! Great!" And in my heart I am going, "Oh! No!"
The world's greatest evangelist is going to hear me speak, I don't want that. I felt so embarrassed and here is why the topic that I was preaching on that night was Evangelism.
So what's wrong with that picture. Skip Heitzig with the world's greatest evangelist in the audience teaching on Evangelism, and then they even told me at the Cove, they said, "Look, not everybody in this crowd is necessarily born again. What are you given invitation for some to receive Christ?" I go, Oh, that's like over the top now. I am going to give an invitation to Billy Grahams in the crowd that's like what he does, what ain't I have him come up? He said no, no, no, he will be in the back, did you give the invitation?
So I gave an invitation for people to raise their hands and Billy raised his hand – no, I am just kidding, he didn't do that. But a lot of people did -- a lot of people did and that has always been his heart to win as many people to Christ as possible. And tonight in just a moment out here maybe some of you, maybe you have gone to Church your whole life, maybe you have been a good person, maybe you have said, okay, I will go Sundays, okay, well, I will go to the special Wednesday night, but that's it.
Maybe you have a relationship with the Church like that but you don't have a real relationship with Jesus Christ. I am going to give you that opportunity in just a few moments to make a decision to follow Jesus Christ because that is the center of this entire book.
What is the smartest thing you can do in light of prophecy? I want you to think about this thought in closing. What's the smartest thing you can do knowing that there is a God out there Who knows everything that is going to happen in the future? He sees the parade from the blimp. He is in the helicopter, He sees it all in a flash and He can predict it, He has got it all in His hand.
I think the best choice you could make is to give yourself into the hands of that one, the Lord Himself.
I heard a story about an airplane. And the airplane, there was a private plane. There was a minister, a boy scout, and a genius. They were being flown by a pilot from one place to another. Their engine troubled, the pilot announced everybody, "The plane is going down, there are only three parachutes, but there are four people, myself, the preacher, the minister, the boy scout, and the genius." The Pilot said, "Look, I am married and I have got three kids, I have got to have one of the parachutes", he grabbed one and jumped out.
Next, the genius stepped up and he goes, "Look, I am the smartest guy in the world, everybody needs me", he took a parachute and he jumped out.
Now there is one parachute, and there are two people left, the boy scout, and the minister. The minister came over to the boy scout and said, "I have lived a long rich life, you are just starting, you are a young lad, I gladly have you take the parachute, I will go down with the plane." The boy scout smiled, very confidently, and said, "Relax preacher, the smartest guy in the world just took my knapsack and jumped out of the airplane," what a genius!
Question: How are you going to jump into eternity? You are going to jump with your own little backpack? You are just going to take a risk, and go forever into eternity, die and then cross your fingers, and hope it all goes well. You are not very genius like, if that's your plan. If you really want to be smart, if you really want to be wise, you will jump into the hands of the one who controls all of history. I can't think of a better place to celebrate the freedom in Jesus Christ by giving your life to Him than right here right now.
So I am going to ask Kevin to come up, I am going to pray, and then I am going to give you an opportunity.
Heavenly Father, I thank You for this time, this Bible study. In the last 40-45 minutes or so of being in Your word, and then singing before that, and inviting You to take precedence over this meeting, or there are thousands of people here tonight. It's a beautiful night You have given us. What could be more beautiful except seeing more brought into Your kingdom. And we pray that Your Holy Spirit would move. Would move across all of those who are gathered here, in the hearts of those who are gathered here; bringing a deep conviction of their need to make this a priority, and to give their life to Christ. To ask you to forgive their sins.
Lord, I pray that some who are in bondage, who feel anchored and tethered by a sinful impulse behavior or lifestyle, or they just regret the way they have been living, or they live empty lives, and they wonder if there is more. Lord, I pray, as they step out of darkness into Your light, You would show them so much more.
In Jesus' name, Amen!