The people who know their God
"And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall be corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits" (Dan. 11:32).
The historical event behind these words is probably the persecution of the faithful among the Jews during the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes, a Seleucid king who ruled from 175 to 164 B.C. What has always happened in times of persecution happened then: some who should have known better among the Jews joined themselves to the enemy of God's people. They were corrupted by flatteries, and like Demas years later, loved this present world over God's cause and kingdom and so apostatized.
But not everyone. Who stayed true? The people that knew their God. I find this description of true godliness thrilling. This is the key to steadfastness in the midst of incredible pressure to capitulate. But how does knowing God function in this way?
It functions in this way because knowing God is more than about head knowledge, it means that our hearts are captivated by the reality and relevance of the God of the Bible. It means that we don't judge God by our circumstances but that we judge our circumstances by God. It means that we truly believe all that the Bible says that he is; that God is "a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable; in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth" (Shorter Catechism, Q. 4).
That is not all. It is not just that they knew God, but that they knew their God. They had a real relationship with him. They could say, with David, "The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower" (Ps. 18:2). Those who have this kind of relationship with God will inevitably "be strong, and do exploits."
Can you say that today? Can you say that God is your God? There is only one way we can do this: through Jesus Christ. He is the way to the Father (Jn. 14:6), the one through whom we receive grace upon grace (Jn. 1:16). Thank God our strength does not derive from our own goodness or the strength of our own wills, but through freely receiving the righteousness of God by faith in Jesus Christ.