The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Daniel 12

Dan 12:1

AT THAT TIME MICHAEL, THE GREAT PRINCE WHO PROTECTS YOUR PEOPLE, WILL ARISE: Michael is the angel responsible for overseeing and protecting Israel (Dan 10:13,14,21); he will arise in defense of this nation. The presence of Michael defines the scope and location of this prophecy: plainly, it has to do with Israel and the Land of Israel!

"The Michael who had earlier joined forces with the angel Gabriel (Dan 10:20,21) to ensure a prompt response to Daniel's pleading, appears in a dramatic scene in the Last Days going into action (behind the scenes, as formerly) on behalf of Israel. The Scriptures which associate him as specially concerned with the Ministry of Israelitish Affairs are few but impressive (Exo 23:20...; Jos 5:14; Zech 3:1 with Jud 1:9; Rev 12:7). The reasons for equating this Michael with the Lord Jesus are quite inadequate, and (in Dan 10:21) would involve a strange concept of personal pre-existence" (WDan).

A TIME OF DISTRESS: "For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now -- and never to be equaled again" (Mat 24:21). "There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken" (Luk 21:25,26). This distress will most directly affect Israel (cp Deu 4:30; Jer 30:7): the repetition of "your people" in this verse clearly identifies the Jews, not all believers; they will be the focus of intense persecution, and their land will become an international battlefield (cp Mat 24:22 in context). But those who believe will be delivered from their enemies (Zec 12:10; 13:8,9; Rom 11:26).

"This prophecy speaks of a time when the powers of heaven are shaken, so that it needs the strong action of this archangel of God to save His people in their final crisis (1Th 4:16,17). This, it may be fairly safely surmised, will be when the final 'overturning' of the nation takes place. It will be 'a time of trouble such as never was.' 'Alas, for that day is great, so that there is none like it -- it is even the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it' (Jer. 30:7). Daniel has the same explicit detail: 'a time of trouble such as never was since there was a Gentile (goi -- in the Land, adds LXX) even to that same time.' This is surely Zech 13:9; 'I will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call upon my name, and I will hear them.' -- 'Thy people shall be delivered, every one that is found written in the book' (v 1; cp Rev 5:4 and Eur 1:12). So also Joel 2:2,3 and the sad ominous words of Jesus in Mat 24:21" (WDan).

WRITTEN IN THE BOOK: "The idea of a heavenly roll of honour, the Lamb's Book of Life, is constantly before the mind of the observant reader of Holy Scripture: Exo 32:32; Psa 56:8; 69:28; Isa 4:3; Eze 13:9; Luk 10:20; Phi 4:3; Rev 3:5; 13:8)" (WDan).

Dan 12:2

MULTITUDES: "Many" (KJV), but not all. Only those who are responsible by knowledge. The resurrection will take place after the time periods of Daniel, after the Kingdom of Men is destroyed, in the latter days during a time of trouble: v 1; Hos 13:14; cp Rom 11:15. Jesus claims the resurrection is an OT doctrine: Mat 22:31,32.

MULTITUDES WHO SLEEP... WILL AWAKE: Resurrection as an awakening from sleep: Psa 17:15; Isa 26:19; Job 14:15. Some will sleep a "perpetual" sleep, and now awake: Jer 51:39,40.

IN THE DUST OF THE EARTH: Emphasizing -- so there will be no doubt -- that this is a physical and literal resurrection, not some spiritual renewal or regeneration.

SOME TO EVERLASTING LIFE: The first instance of this phrase in the Bible.

Dan 12:3

THOSE WHO ARE WISE WILL SHINE LIKE THE BRIGHTNESS OF THE HEAVENS, AND THOSE WHO LEAD MANY TO RIGHTEOUSNESS, LIKE THE STARS FOR EVER AND EVER: Cp Mat 13:43: "Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father." Their glory will involve the privilege of reigning with Jesus Christ during his millennial kingdom (Mat 25:14-30; Luke 19:11-27; Rev 5:9,10; 20:4). The reward of the righteous in ETERNITY is directly linked to their faithfulness to the task they were given to fulfill in TIME.

LIKE THE STARS FOR EVER AND EVER: " 'As the stars' perhaps echoes the great Promise to Abraham (Gen 22:17) of an earthly seed 'as the sand of the seashore,' and a spiritual seed 'as the stars of heaven.' The context here mentions only the latter. Cp also the force of 1Co 15:41,42" (WDan).

Dan 12:4

CLOSE UP AND SEAL THE WORDS OF THE SCROLL UNTIL THE TIME OF THE END: In conclusion the angel instructed Daniel to close the record of this revelation. In the ANE, people wrote official documents and then, after making a copy for reference, deposited the original in a safe place. The phrase "conceal these words" does not mean that Daniel should keep them to himself but that he should preserve this revelation because it was important (cp Dan 8:26). Also, it was customary for the scribe who recorded important documents such as contractual promises to run his cylinder-seal across the bottom to guarantee authenticity. That is what the angel instructed Daniel to do with this contractual promise. By sealing it, Daniel would certify that what stood written was exactly what God had revealed to him (cp Rev 22:18,19).

Daniel was to preserve this revelation until the end of time because much of what God had revealed to him concerned the far distant future.

There's a suggestion here that, as we get closer and closer to the "time of the end", we may expect -- individually and/or collectively -- to understand better and better the visions that previously have been -- in some measure -- "sealed up". It's like a traveler on a long journey... in the distance he may see a range of mountains, but he sees them as a whole range -- the details cannot be discerned. But as he gets closer and closer, each mountain may become more and more differentiated from its neighbor, and features on the mountainsides may become clearer. Closer still, and he may be able to tell even the order of the mountains, ie, which are closest and which are furthest away. He may even discover that he must pass through a valley or two, on the way to the mountains, valleys that he didn't even know existed when he stood further away.

It may be that, only when the events in question actually happen, will we truly appreciate certain features of the Divine program! Will it be too late then? Why should it be? Although it was the subject of prophecy, and spoken of several times by Jesus himself, the greatest event in history -- the resurrection of Jesus Christ -- was still not understood by his closest disciples (at least, not nearly in its fullness) until after it happened.

UNTIL THE TIME OF THE END: "A declaration difficult to reconcile with the view that the visions seen by Daniel present a conspectus of continuously unfolding history from Daniel's time right through to the day of resurrection" (WDan).

MANY WILL GO HERE AND THERE TO INCREASE KNOWLEDGE: "The tendencies to isolate these words, and treat them as a vivid anticipation of the ease and rapidity of modern travel borders on the grotesque" (WDan). Instead, this seems to refer to the Last Days activity of preaching the Truth. To "run" was an idiomatic way of describing how a prophet was to convey the message of God (cp 1Ki 18:46; Jer 23:21; Hab 2:2; Isa 52:7). To "run" was also to search for knowledge (Amo 8:12; Jer 5:1). The eyes of Yahweh, symbolizing the saints, "run" through earth (2Ch 16:9; Zec 4:10). Also, God's word itself "runs swiftly" (Psa 147:15; 2Th 3:1, NIV mg; cp Psa 19:4; Rom 10:16-18).

"Knowledge shall increase" indicates growth in understanding as a result of hearing the message; this is the reversal of the famine of hearing the prophetic word described in Amos 8:11,12. The context definitely points to Bible preaching and knowledge, and to the carrying of the message to all the earth (Mat 24:14) -- not merely to some more generalized global travel and technological growth. This point is confirmed by Dan 12:3 -- where the NIV margin reads: "Those who IMPART KNOWLEDGE will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who LEAD MANY TO RIGHTEOUSNESS, like the stars for ever and ever."

Dan 12:6

THESE ASTONISHING THINGS: The events just related, having to do with Israel's final persecution and deliverance (Dan 11:36 -- 12:3).

Dan 12:7

TIME, TIMES, AND HALF A TIME... 1,290 DAYS... 1,335 DAYS: Cp Dan 7:25; Rev 11:2; 12:6,14; 13:5. See Lesson, 1,260 / 1,290 / 1,335 days. Also, see Lesson, 360-day year.

Dan 12:9

// Dan 12:4.

Dan 12:10

MANY WILL BE PURIFIED, MADE SPOTLESS AND REFINED: The troubles coming on the earth, and especially on the Jews, would cause many to turn to the Lord and experience spiritual purification through faith.


BUT THOSE WHO ARE WISE WILL UNDERSTAND: "Here is an intimation of the value which Heaven sets on eagerness for fuller insight into the ripening purpose of God" (HAW).

Dan 12:11

1,290 DAYS: One month, or 30 days longer than the "time, times, and half a time" of v 7. See Lesson, 1,260 / 1,290 / 1,335 days.

Dan 12:12

1,335 DAYS: Another 45 days beyond the 1,290 days (v 11). See Lesson, 1,260 / 1,290 / 1,335 days.

Dan 12:13

GO YOUR WAY: Cp Mat 28:20: "Go into all the world."

TILL THE END: "Then shall the end come", when the Gospel has been preached to all the world (Mat 24:14).

AT THE END OF THE DAYS...: Or, as LXX, "For still there will be days to the end of the world" // "I am with you all the days to the end of the world" (Mat 28:20). Thus connecting the Great Commission, to preach the Gospel, to the Last Days of 3 1/2 years.

Daniel was of course anxious to learn WHEN these things would all transpire -- implying that he hoped to see the culmination before he died. But God reminded the elderly Daniel that he would miss none of the glories of that Kingdom -- even though it would commence long after he died. The very last words of the prophecy of Daniel contain God's final reassurance to His faithful servant: "You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance" (Dan 12:13). Like a loving father to an eager child, anxious for a special day to come, God speaks to Daniel: 'Don't worry. Go to sleep. I'll wake you up in plenty of time. You won't miss anything.'
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