Today we read how the missionary work of the converted Paul began in earnest. Many of the Jews, however, are jealous of his popularity and this blinds their minds to the message he is preaching. He warns them, “Beware, therefore lest what is said in the prophets should come about, ‘Look you scoffers, be astounded and perish; for I am doing a work in your days, a work that you will not believe, even if one tells it to you’” (Acts 13:40,41; he is quoting from Habakkuk 1:5).

It is the same today. People are scoffers, but when Christ comes and divine power is clearly evident, they will “be astounded and perish”. The last chapter of Daniel which we read today is thought provoking. The prophet us told to “shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro and knowledge shall increase” (verse 4).

It is remarkable how knowledge has dramatically increased in the last century or two. It is the same with travel. Sixty-five years ago we were travelling (by ship) from the UK to Australia and it took 30 days! Today you can fly in less than 24 hours; it took five days to fly sixty-five years ago, staying in hotels overnight – and cost a small fortune!

Daniel’s prophecy ends with him being instructed to “rest” until you “stand in your allotted place at the end of the days”. Jesus tells us this in Revelation 14:13, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord … that they may rest from their labours …”

At the beginning of the chapter Daniel is told, “… there shall be a time of trouble such as never has been … at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book”. This is “the end of the days” of human rule. At that time, we may feel inclined to say “look you scoffers” to the many disbelievers; but it is far more important to look to God’s word and be faithful to the Lord ourselves so that we can “stand in (our) allotted place at the end of the days”.

By the grace of our Lord we can expect to be “changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51-54) after being “astounded” at events and witnessing the end of the “scoffers”. Those who are faithful will start to “shine like the brightness of the sky above” (verse 3). The reality of this is beyond present comprehension: how earnestly we must pray.