Summary: Daniel is given an insight into the turbulent End Times for believers but is assured of God’s ultimate triumph over evil.
DANIEL 12 FAITHFUL TO THE END
Chapter 12 is a continuation of the story of the climax of the ages. Daniel’s visions have not brought easy answers. He was told, “The wicked will continue to be wicked” (10) and distress continues to be the lot of the God’s people. The previous visions looked forward in hope to the Lord’s ultimate victory over evil but at the moment it seemed a long way into the future. We might be tempted to ask, as Daniel did of the angel, ”How long will it be before these astonishing things are fulfilled?” (6). The workings of the hand of God remain mysterious until the time when we no longer “see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face” (1 Cor 13:12).
As the end-time draws near history will move in a series of dramatic events according to a pattern known in advance of the Creator God. Everything that is old and evil will finally pass away in cataclysmic happenings that will shake all foundations. Only that which is of the will of God survives. For the unbeliever, it will be a time of turmoil and uncertainty, when, as Jesus foretold, "Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world" (Luke 21:26). But what about the believer? Jesus went on to say, "When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near" (28).
Daniel was similarly reassured. He was told "Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise" (1). We can thank God for the unseen angelic forces who at God’s command watch over his people, and here the reference is to faithful Israel. At the end of the age, as at every period of human history, there will be a remnant who are faithful to God in the midst of an apostate race. The Lord their God will protect them in their hour of need, even as he had looked after Daniel in some of the desperate situations he’d been in, for example, in the lion’s den. This is especially true in:
THE END TIMES
The Jews are God’s people, although largely unbelieving at this time, but he will not allow the chosen race to be obliterated. Many a despot down the ages tried to annihilate the nation, including Hitler’s "final solution", but have failed to do so. Why is this? God’s response is that the gospel will be made known throughout the day of grace. The Jews repeatedly hardened their hearts to the message of salvation through Jesus the Messiah but God used Israel’s time of rebellion to show mercy to the Gentiles as well. He is seeking a “remnant” of believing Gentiles and Jews and continues to do so until the full number of both races are brought into his kingdom. God covenant commitment to Abraham that he “will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all the nations on earth will be blessed through him” (Gen 18:18) will be fully discharged.
Daniel was told, "There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then" (1). The angel called it the worst period of distress that the Jews had ever seen. It will be a period of unparalleled distress, in all likelihood, "the Great Tribulation" foretold by Jesus (Matt 24:21), and in the book of Revelation (7:14). Jeremiah saw it in terms of "the time of Jacob’s trouble" (30:7). Its purpose is to bring to a climax the persecution and hardship they have endured over the centuries as a result of the rejection of their Messiah. It will be so severe that Jesus himself declared that if those days were not curtailed, no one would be left alive in Israel (Matt 24:22).
The essential message of the book of Daniel is to give comfort to the people of God. None of his elect, those who by the grace of God put their trust in him, will be lost. They may leave this earth in death which is the lot of humanity, but the glory of God’s revelation is that "multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake ... to everlasting life" (2). Daniel’s visions envisaged the problem of the multitude of individuals who had been brutally martyred at the hands of wicked men. It was inconceivable that the God of justice and love could be satisfied with any ultimate triumph that left his faithful ones in death. We know how and why this will happen following the resurrection of Jesus: because he lives, we shall live also.
We are given a splendid picture of the glorious reward of those "whose name is found written in the book" (1); surely, "the book of life" referred to in the New Testament (Phil 4:3). They, the "wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens" (3). But there’s a further category of the wise, those who are not merely saved but who also serve in God’s kingdom: "those who lead many to righteousness" will be further rewarded - they "will shine ... like the stars for ever and ever" (3). What a wonderful incentive to serve the Lord in this life so as to be blessed for ever.