The Confusion, Danger and Blessing of Peace – Daniel 11:21-27

 
This afternoon we will return to study this scripture in detail, but for our message this morning, I’d like to take one thought and magnify it into a wider lesson. Scripture tells us that the Antichrist will solidify his power in the world through the stratagem of “peace.” But as we all know on a smaller scale, humanly-speaking “peace” is a constantly moving target. We have it one moment, but then something comes along and it vanishes like uncollected manna in the desert.

As we have already seen from earlier prophesies in Daniel, there was a Grecian ruler who should be considered as a type of the future Antichrist. History tells us that his name was Antiochus Epiphanes. As more and more detail of Israel’s future was given to Daniel in the closing chapters of this book, we are reintroduced to this Greek ruler of Selucia – that is Palestine, Israel and the surrounding areas. We have already been taught that this man will work his political wiles disguised in the cloak of “peace.” If the final Antichrist comes to Israel and the rest of the world peaceably, then we should expect his spiritual grandfather to do the same.

But it’s not so much the Antichrist who is my concern this morning, but the subject of peace itself. I would like to look at the words “peace” and “peaceably” in a broader and more practical way. For example in the scripture which we read a few minutes ago, Ezekiel was condemning those pastors whose message was a sugary, syrupy, imitation-maple-flavored false peace. We have ten thousands of their grand-children today, filling their mega-churches with a feel-good religion about peace where there really is no real peace. We have another hundred-thousand psychiatrists trying to magically change guilt into inner tranquility. And then we have a million comedians, bar tenders, pro-athletes and whores attempting to turn people’s mind away from their various troublesome enslavements. Not always do we hear the words, but their echo is always around us: “Peace, peace.” And yet there is so very little peace in the world.

In the midst of all the pieces of false peace of today, please avoid these mistakes –
Don’t call it “peace” when its only EASE or LUXURY. There is a minority in these United States that can really live in luxury. They don’t have to worry whether or not the rent is paid or why the utility bill is too high. They live in ease and luxury because they have plenty of money. But the possession of wealth doesn’t guarantee the possession of peace, because, for many people the possession of much – means that there is much worry about losing it. And therefore luxury and ease are not the same thing as peace. Please don’t misunderstand me in this: I do not consider it a sin to have money. It is not a sin to have money invested in the stock-market or anywhere else. There are even several so-called “Christian” mutual funds. And the non-socially responsible funds are not always objectionable. I am not condemning savings accounts, retirement funds or even union pensions. But if you are counting on these things to carry you into the 22nd century then you are being foolish. The past few years especially have made the people of wealth among the most nervous & least peaceful. Whether they know the Bible or not, some of them know about riches. “Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven” – Proverbs 23:5. Don’t equate worldly luxury, ease and “peace,” because they are not synonyms.

And don’t call it “peace” when it’s just a LACK of BLOODSHED. Were the days of the “Cold War” days of peace? Was the period when both the East and the West had enough nuclear weapons to destroy the earth a hundred times over, a period of peace? In 1996 U.S. astronaut Shannon Lucid spend 188 days in the old Mir Space Station, before it was replaced by the International Space Station. She was there with two cosmonauts from the former Soviet Union. One night they were talking about their childhoods. All three had grown up in the days of the “Cold War.” As they talked, they surprised each other. Shannon told the others that she grew up in fear of the USSR attacking the United States. And the cosmonauts told her that when young they were terrified that the U.S. would arbitrarily send nuclear missiles into Russia to destroy them. What? The United States wanted to destroy the USSR!!! That is absurd. The Soviets were the only ones diabolical enough during to destroy the peace loving people of the United States. Isn’t it funny that each of them thought of themselves as peace-loving, but the others were warmongering terrorists yearning to kill and destroy? For twenty years there were no bombs dropping, but there was certainly no peace either. The lack of war is not the same thing as peace. The lack of war doesn’t remove fear, and fear destroys peace.

And don’t call it “peace” when its really just COMPROMISE. “Compromise,” by definition, is the settlement of a difference by “concession.” And to “concede” is to give up, to quit, or to surrender. So “compromise” is the settlement of a difference by some degree of surrender. There are occasions when compromise is the order of the day. When she is hungry for Mexican, and he is hungry for Chinese they can compromise and eat at Wendys. But when we are talking about important issues, like truth and error, there can be no compromise. When truth is compromised for the sake of a so-called “peace,” it is foolish to think that it will last. A beach ball can be kept under water only so long, before it must explode to the top.

Permit me to make a lengthy quote from A.W. Tozer – “A new decalogue has been adopted by the neo-Christians of our day, the first words of which read, ‘Thou shalt not disagree.’ And a new set of Beatitudes too, which begins, ‘Blessed are they that tolerate everything, for they shall not be made accountable for anything.’ It is now the accepted thing to talk over religious differences with the understanding that no one will try to convert another or point out errors in his belief. Imagine Moses agreeing to take part in a panel discussion with Israel over the golden calf, or Elijah engaging in a gentlemanly dialogue with the prophets of Baal. Or try to picture our Lord Jesus Christ seeking a meeting of minds with the Pharisees to iron out their differences. The blessing of God is promised to the peacemaker, but the religious negotiator had better watch his step. Darkness and light can never be brought together by talk. Some things are not negotiable.” Even for the sake of peace.

And please don’t call it “peace” when it is really just INDIFFERENCE. For example, there are a great many people who are quite ambivalent about Bible versions. They say that it just doesn’t matter what Bible you choose to read. They think that they all give us the same revelation. But a brief examination along with a little thought, proves that this is not true. Many of these people tell us that we shouldn’t argue about which Bible to use. They demand peace, but since God is so adamant about truth, I’m convinced that the Lord is not interested in substituting peace for truth. Similarly, there are people who are thoroughly indifferent about what brand of church to attend. They attend a Lutheran church one week, and Baptist the next, then an Episcopal. “Aren’t they all Christian churches?” In the Biblical sense – no they are not. Why are most of those people very particular about which brand of soda pop they buy? Isn’t it because there is a difference in things? To be indifferent doesn’t mean that there is no difference. To be indifferent means that someone doesn’t care that there is a difference. To be indifferent about whether baptism is a part of God’s means of salvation or not…. To be indifferent about whether communion is essential to forgiveness of sins…. To be indifferent about whether repentance is required by God…. To be indifferent about such things is to be at war with God. The soldiers within the opposing armies may be at peace with one another, but they are deceiving themselves if they think they are really at peace on a broader scale.

As Daniel teaches us, along about 175 BC, a very wicked person will become king of the Seleucian Empire.
He will become king by promising peace but providing deception. Verse 21 – “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.” Antiochus Epiphanes, the second son of Antiochus the Great, will appear to strengthen the kingdom to Israel’s north – on behalf of his nephew, but that was just step number one in taking full control for himself. He will use the lever called “peace” to destroy the peace of thousands in several different countries. Verse 24 “He shall enter peaceably even upon the fattest places of the province; and he shall do that which his fathers have not done, nor his fathers’ fathers; he shall scatter among them the prey, and spoil, and riches: yea, and he shall forecast his devices against the strong holds, even for a time.”

We live in a sinful world. I don’t care where you want to look, if you can see clearly, each part of our society is dominated by sin. Need we talk about the sins of politics? Wasn’t Antiochus a political figure? How about Nero, Napoleon, Stalin? We could even talk about many of our own leaders. Take sports as another example – not only are the sins of many famous athletes public knowledge, but the primary motivation of many others is sin in other ways – greed, fame and privilege. What is the driving influence of much of the business world? Is it to make our lives better – or to take our money and make the businessman more wealthy? Despite a few honest people in health care, isn’t greed one of the reasons that it is in such shambles? Where would the general entertainment industry be, if it wasn’t for sin?

Antiochus Epiphanes will become a type, or picture, of the future Antichrist of the Tribulation. And if you will recall, one of the major planks in that man’s political platform will be “peace, peace.” Daniel 8:23 – “And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up. And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by PEACE shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand.” I am of the opinion that sometime during the first half of the Tribulation the Antichrist will, through compromise and political power, establish a peace with, and for, Israel. Oh, what a diabolical tool “peace” can be. Then, three and a half years into the Tribulation, he will personally break that peace treaty. At that point, he will become Israel’s foremost enemy. At that point, he will prove himself to be a true anti-Christ. His hatred of the Lord and the people of God will be expressed without any limits or pity. And the primary ingredient which will permit him to get to that place, will be the misused of “peace.” Beware of peace falsely so-called, no matter what the context might be.

In contrast to that Anti-Christ, Daniel, God’s man in Babylon, really was a man of peace.
Daniel had peace with God, because he submitted himself to the Lord’s will and the Lord’s grace. He had peace within his own heart, because he had convictions about sin. And He had peace with his heathen employers because he had character.

But we also see him at times when that peace escaped him. As we have seen over the last few months, there were days when his heart strove with his mind over the revelation of God. But as long as he lived in submission to the Lord, he could face lions without slightest sweat on his palms.

Daniel was a man upon whom the sins of his fathers fell. When Jerusalem and Judah collapsed before the Babylonian army, it was because Judah had compromised with sin and idolatry. Do you remember the last time that you read through the Book of Jeremiah? Much of the background to the book is so pathetic. God’s prophet was telling the Jews and their King that the city was going to fall. He was saying that the Lord was fed up with Israel’s sins. He told them that God had given Jerusalem into the hands of the heathen enemy. But surrounding Jeremiah were false prophets denying everything that he said. He was crying repent, and they were asking “why?” He was shouting prepare for war, and they were saying, “Peace, Peace.” Ezekiel ministered in about the same time period, and gave us our earlier scripture. His message was much the same.

So Nebuchadnessar came, and Daniel, still a boy, was castrated and dragged off to Babylon. He was separated from his family, his culture, and most of his friends. He was trained to be of service to his captors. And like Joseph before him, he performed his duties as though he was doing them for Jehovah himself. His relationship to God gave him character, and that godly character gave him respect and peace with many of his foreign neighbors. Daniel had peace while living in Babylon, because he had genuine Christian character.

Furthermore, he had peace within his own heart, because he had convictions about the truth. For example, Daniel believed that it was a transgression of God’s law to eat the food prepared for the King and the court of Babylon. And Daniel refused to compromise habit of prayer to the Lord. Even if it meant his death, he was going to be faithful to the Lord. And even in that he had peace. Daniel, in addition to these, had peace with the God of Heaven and Earth.

This world is madly rushing around in search for fulfillment and satisfaction. But it is an illusive butterfly that can live for only a few days before it dies – and after this, the judgment. There is no peace in this world – when the specter of death and judgment for sin hovers over head. But Daniel had no fears or regrets – because he had a Saviour.

The Lord Jesus once said that in world we will have trouble, but in Him there is victory. He said, “I have over come the world.” Not only has He overcome the world, but He has conquered also the judgment of God against sin. There can be peace with God, the most important and most pivotal kind of peace. There can be peace with God, but only through the Lord Jesus Christ. And why? Because Jesus, the Son of God, willingly sacrificed Himself to establish that peace. He became the propitiation, satisfying the demands of God’s eternal law against the sinner. He became the mediator between God and those whom the Lord would save. Daniel could face all the problems of life, all the envy of the Babylonians, and even the specter of death, because he knew that he was secure in his Saviour.

In the midst of all the confusion of the 21st century, do you have peace? There is only one way to have it – through a peaceful relationship with the omnipotent God. And that is possible only through humble repentance before Him, coupled with adoring faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross. Men of true peace are few and far between in this world. And each and every one of them are children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.