Daniel 12. A Number of Small, Significant Matters.
Key Notes: Angels by name. Resurrection teaching in OT. Winning people by fishing, farming, rescuing, serving. How long? Martyrs.
There are seven topics that turn up in this summarizing chapter of Daniel. Some of these are questions he raised, and others are ones we are happy to have discussed. They are ground-breaking and show the great riches of Daniel.
A. A Sketch of world history.
B. The role of the Archangel.
C. Resurrection to life or judgment.
D. Turning many to righteousness.
E. Knowledge will increase.
F. How long?
G. Purifying ourselves.
A. A sketch of world history. Daniel 12:1–4 is the conclusion of the vision of Daniel 11. At the end of the vision, we are given a sketch of the end of history. There will be a world-wide cataclysm but with a spectacular outcome. [We fear the disaster more than we anticipate the conclusion.]
•a world ruler 11:38
•a new religion 11:37; Rev.13:12
•a world war 11:39
•the great tribulation 12:1
•deliverance of Israel 12:1
•resurrection to life or judgment 12:2
•the reward of the righteous 12:3
B. The Role of the Archangel. Dan.12:1 "At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who is charge of your people".
Who is Michael and what is his role? He is an angel who fights. He stands up against the Prince of Persia. (10:13). He contends at Christ's side. (10:21). He contends with the Devil. (Jude 9). He defeats the Dragon and has him cast out of Heaven. (Rev.12:7).
Gabriel, on the other hand, appears to be a messenger of revelation, not involved in warfare. Dan.8:16; 9:21; Lk.1:19,26
C. Resurrection to Life or Judgment. 12:2 "Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt."
Old Testament texts belie the concept that the resurrection is a product of Greek thought, only fully expressed by the Pharisees in the NT. Resurrection is taught in the OT.
"You will not leave my soul in Sheol. You will fill me with joy in your presence." Psa.16:10–11
"As for me I shall behold your face in righteousness. When I awake I shall be satisfied with beholding your form." Psa.17:15
"Your dead shall live; their bodies shall arise." Isa.26:19
"You guide me with your counsel; afterward You will receive me to glory." Psa.73:24
“I know that my Redeemer lives and at last He will stand upon the earth and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then from myself I shall see God...." Job.19:25–26
"He will swallow up death forever and the Lord God will wipe tears from all faces." Isa.25:8
"I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people." Ezek.37:12
The unique feature of Dan.12:2 is the concept of two resurrections--one to judgment, the other to eternal life.
The New Testament expands on this concept, otherwise hidden in OT.
"...the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear His voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment." Jn.5:28
"...and they will go away into eternal punishment but the righteous into eternal life." Matt.25:46
"...having a hope in God...that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust." Acts.24:15
"They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years." Rev. 2:4
"I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne." This resurrection comes later. Rev.20:12
Revelation alone lets us see that there is a thousand years between the two resurrections, the righteous first, and all others later.
It seems an unkind cut that the wicked should be forced to awaken and face further consequences. However, there must be justice done for those like Stalin and Mao, who died in their beds, unpunished, having been guilty of the murder of millions of innocent people. And by the same token, there must be reward for the millions of martyrs who have suffered and died for Christ.
D. Turning many to righteousness. "Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars for ever and ever." Dan. 12:3
"The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life and he who wins souls is wise." Prov.11:30
Turning many to righteousness is also an important concept in NT.
There are at least four ways of thinking about winning lost people for the Kingdom.
•The common analogy is catching fish.
"Follow me and I will make you fishers of men." Matt.4:19
There are two common kinds of fishing: with a hook or with a net.
A hook also requires a lure, something that attracts the attention of a wary creature. Some people use a catch phrase such as "Does the world make any sense?" or "Where do you go for spiritual nourishment?"
Fishing with a net is usually a group effort. The net may be an attractive program such as a Christmas pageant or a concert. The first net is large, pulling in many people. It should be followed by a more selective net that draws people into a regular church activity, or an evangelistic program such as Alpha.
•Another common analogy is farming.
"One sows and another reaps. I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor". Jn.4:37–38
"He who goes forth with weeping bearing precious seed shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." Psa.126:6
"A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path...." Matt.13:3–4
Sowing is broadcasting, scattering the Word of God widely and with little discrimination. Radio ministry is a typical form of this analogy of farming. It is done all over the world, by the Far East Bible Crusade, The Voice of the Andes, Radio Monaco, etc. as well as local Christian radio stations.
Tract and Gospel portion ministry is another form of broadcasting.
•A less common analogy is pulling brush out of the fire.
"Convince some who doubt. Save some by snatching them out of the fire. On some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment spotted by the flesh." Jude 22
What is the fire? What are garments spotted by the flesh? One scenario is the brothel district, where drug addiction, and prostitution thrive. The casino is another. Some Christian workers are called to pull people out of such places. The International Justice Mission is active in rescuing children from sex slavery. Jails are another fire. Colson's Prison Fellowship reaches into this vulnerable population.
•A rarely understood way of thinking about turning people to righteousness is being a servant.
"...yet have I made myself a servant to all that I might gain the more." ICor.9:19
Paul conformed to Jewish or Greek cultures as much as possible in order to win Jews or Greeks.
When we serve in our daily work, conforming ourselves to the needs of the group, getting under the load, we have an opportunity to demonstrate Christian principles in action. Coworkers can see honesty, integrity, wisdom, kindness, patience, and love. It gives us special avenues of communication, and opportunities to be salt and light without special effort.
E. Knowledge Will Increase. Dan.12:4 "Many shall run to and fro and knowledge shall increase." These brief words can be amplified many fold if we think of air-miles traveled or electronic communication or DNA research. But Daniel may have a spiritual point in mind.
"They shall run to and fro to seek the word of God but they shall not find it." Amos 8:12
"...who will listen to anybody and can never arrive at the knowledge of the truth." IITim.3:7
"...but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but those who are wise shall understand." Dan.12:10
Daniel may be speaking of the lost-ness of those who will never come to a knowledge of the Truth.
F. How Long? Dan.12:5 "How long shall it be till the end of these wonders?" He is inquiring about the time of the Abomination of Desolation (12:11). The intense persecution period under Antiochus Epiphanes lasted 3 1/2 years.
Three times are given:
12:7. Time, times and a half time=3.5years=42 months=1260 days
12:11. 1290 days
12:12. 1335 days.
It appears that in roughly 3.5 years, all these things will be accomplished. "Blessed is he who waits and comes to the 1335 days." These last two times have 30 days and 45 days added. Three and a half years is a very long time to withstand intense persecution. To be able to hang on for 2–3 more months may be unbearable, but there is a reward for enduring. We do not know the details of what the Macabbees went through.
This is one example of many situations where there is a reward for enduring, whatever the situation.
G. Purifying Ourselves. Dan. 12:10 "Many shall purify themselves, and make themselves white and be refined...."
Dan.11:35 "...and some of those who are wise shall fall, to refine and to cleanse them, and to make them white, until the time of the end...."
This is the witness of the martyrs who died for their faith in God. How does their witness make them white?
"He who conquers shall be clad thus in white garments and I will not blot his name out of the book of life...." (Rev.3:4)
"They were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer until the number of their fellow servants and brethren should be complete...." Rev.6:11
“These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." Rev.7:14
It appears that martyrs are given special status by God as shown by the white robe. We think of martyrdom with fear, but God loves those who risk all.
"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints." Psa.116:15