Daniel 12: 1 – 13
Now Standing Up At The Plate - Michael
“At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book. 2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever. 4 “But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” 5 Then I, Daniel, looked; and there stood two others, one on this riverbank and the other on that riverbank. 6 And one said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, “How long shall the fulfillment of these wonders be?” 7 Then I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand to heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever, that it shall be for a time, times, and half a time; and when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered, all these things shall be finished. 8 Although I heard, I did not understand. Then I said, “My lord, what shall be the end of these things?” 9 And he said, “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. 10 Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand. 11 “And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days. 12 Blessed is he who waits, and comes to the one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days. 13 “But you, go your way till the end; for you shall rest, and will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days.”
Chapter 12 should be included in chapter 11. Please do not forget that the placement of chapters and verses did not occur until hundreds of years after the bible was put together.
So, the statement, ‘after that time’ indicates a time after all the persecution that has taken place in the later part of chapter 11.
Now the time when Daniel live was about 603 BC. So, everything that he has prophesied is in the future, is it not? At the time of this sermon it is the year 2012. Now stop and think how far or future a prophecy of Daniel’s future time frame given today would be in thinking about the year 2685 AD. This future date stuns your thinking.
Having depicted the end days of the world in symbolism Daniel now looks at it from the point of view of the people of God. What is a catastrophe for the world is the beginning of eternal glory for His people. The first three verses of this chapter sum up the end of time from their point of view. The final part then summarizes the intent of the book.
“At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book.
Michael, the great prince of angels is assigned by Jehovah Elyon – The Lord Most High - to watch over God’s people, will be ‘standing over them’, ever on the alert to watch over them and protect them. Michael is one of only two angels mentioned by name in Scripture. He is described by Jude 1.9 as an archangel, and in Revelation 12.7 he leads God’s army of angels. His part is to deal with the activities of the evil angels who seek to control the world, and to intervene to prevent their final misuse of the people of God.
Who were the people of God at this time? Christians? No, they were Israelites. Please note the verse again – ““At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book.”
What nation are we talking about? - Israel. When Daniel is told that his people would be delivered, again who are we talking about? The Jews
When our Lord Jesus Christ spoke to His disciples in what we read in Matthew 24 verse 2 what future is our Lord speaking about? The future our Lord is speaking of is the great tribulation of the Jews at the time of the destruction of the temple by Titus in 70 AD and its aftermath.
Please note that there is no suggestion that the tribulation is necessarily worldwide. It is simply indicating that at that time there will be intense trouble which the people of God will also face. It is concerned with how it affects God’s people.
‘And at that time your people will be delivered, every one who will be found written in the book.’ This phrase is very important. ‘Deliverance’ is now described. For those who have died it is by resurrection to the everlasting kingdom. For the living it means full deliverance, and entry into the everlasting kingdom. In the end it refers to all who are God’s. The intensity of suffering will be followed by the intensity of blessing.
This prophecy also has to have a future application because of the previous information that has happened and been given to Daniel in all the previous chapters.
For Daniel this is the final climax to which the book has been leading. The idea here is of final deliverance, the result of the final smiting by the heavenly stone which fills the whole earth that we read about in chapter 2 verses 34-35, the result of the son of man receiving His kingdom and entering into His glory which we learned in chapter 7 verse 14, and the result of the saints of the Most High receiving the everlasting kingdom in verse 27 of chapter 7. Saints are introduced to us in the New Testament Epistles. Guess who they are? – Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Old Testament knew of no heavenly realm for men and women. The concept had not yet developed. That is why it had continually to depict the everlasting future in terms of this earth. It knew no other. But regularly the wording went beyond anything possible on this earth, having in view ‘new heavens and a new earth’ as the prophet Isaiah wrote in chapter 65 verse 17. This is the only thing that makes sense of the whole picture.
Also please take note also that only those ‘written in the book’ will find deliverance. It clearly therefore does not simply mean the Jews, for they are not all ‘written in the book’, it means all of God’s people. They are the only ones who enjoy final deliverance.
‘Your people.’ Daniel would here think of the remnant of the people of Israel who would prove faithful to God, although he was not aware of how God would expand that Israel. For the New Testament makes clear that that remnant of Israel was increased by all who came to Christ and in Him.
2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.
While this clearly teaches bodily resurrection, its main emphasis is on the ‘many’. That is that the resurrected will be a huge number. Those who awake will be many and not few. They include the multitude that no man can number out of all nations in which we read about in Revelation 7, “9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands.”
Others would rise only to face shame and everlasting contempt. They will be excluded from God’s presence.
3 Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever.
This is not indicating where they will go, but what they will be revealed to be. ‘Those who are wise’, that is those who have understanding and have demonstrated it by their lives and faithfulness to God’s covenant. ‘As the brightness of the firmament.’ Daniel may have in mind a glorious day when the whole of the sky is shining with the glory of the sun. Their lives will be glorious. Having been raised by God, and having been refined in the fire of trial, their future is glorious.
‘Those who turn many to righteousness.’ Are all who participate in the forward-going of God’s purposes. For each who is faithful plays his and her full part in the work of turning many to righteousness. And he or she who is in any way unfaithful hinders that work.
4 “But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.”
The idea is not that the book is made so that it cannot be read, only that its final fulfillment awaits the time of the end. The book can now be shut up and sealed because it is completed. Then an official sealed copy can be preserved for official consultation while other copies are made available to all. Then the end will reveal its truth. The sealing was for authentication and identification.
In the book of Amos chapter 8 we read this, “12 They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; They shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the LORD, but shall not find it.” depicts men as running to and fro to seek the word of Adoni Yahweh but as being unable to find it. So the picture here is that because men ignore this book they will run to and fro around the world, seeking the word of YHWH, gaining a kind of knowledge, but never able to find the truth, because they do not turn to this book and obey its Commandments.
5 Then I, Daniel, looked; and there stood two others, one on this riverbank and the other on that riverbank. 6 And one said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, “How long shall the fulfillment of these wonders be?”
We must assume that the two men were angels. They were there only to observe and question, and to witness the oath. Possibly they are to be seen as attendants on the man in the linen clothes, emphasizing his importance. He himself was ‘above the waters’. This repetition emphasized that this great river, which was one of the two sources of the fruitfulness and life of the area, was under his authority. Their question was a simple one. How long would it be before all these awesome events were fulfilled?
7 Then I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand to heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever, that it shall be for a time, times, and half a time; and when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered, all these things shall be finished.
Please note that the man clothed in linen was a mighty angel, but not almighty. Yet his authority was such that he could swear in the name of the Everlasting One how long it would be. It would be for ‘a time, times and a half’. The phrase is similar to the one in chapter 7 verse 25 but not the same (the one was in Aramaic, this is in Hebrew). Its significance is that it is not a complete period. It is not ‘seven times’ but a broken period of ‘a number of times plus a half’. Here was no equivalent of the divinely perfect seven times, denoting a divinely perfect period, but a foreshortened period indicating that it ended before God’s final purposes were complete. The one acting in this period has no control over it. And yet its length was fixed by God who determined the length of ‘a time’.
This foreshortened period will end ‘when they have made an end of breaking in pieces the power of the holy people’. God will not be specific. But He will assure His people that the time is limited. The breaking in pieces of the power of the holy people will cease in the end. And then will be accomplished all the promises of chapter 9 verse 24, and then will follow the resurrection.
It is possible that this has reference to the final part of the seventieth seven in chapter 9 verse 27. When the Temple has been destroyed (the sacrifices have ceased) there will be a period of desolation and persecution for God’s people which will continue until the consummation (it has now lasted for nearly two thousand years). His people will be as pilgrims in the world, ever subjected to desolation and persecution. If we consider that he is speaking of the world of his day, which to us is the Middle Eastern world, it is that world which above all has persecuted and desolated the people of God.
The raising of both hands indicated that all was in the hands of God, although some have seen it as indicating the intensity of the oath. Normally for an oath one hand would be held up to heaven.
The ominous message of the statement, ‘When they have made an end of breaking in pieces the hand of the holy people, all these things will be finished’, is that the holy people are to be subjected to attempts to break them in pieces, to utterly destroy them. It spoke of persecution and suffering which would attempt to break their ‘hand’, to break their resistance to sin, to tempt to faithlessness, to destroy their faith in God. But it will eventually come to an end in God’s timing. Yet it brings out how important God’s people are to Him. For this is mentioned because all is in consideration of their welfare. ‘The holy people’ are, of course, the true people of God, those who truly believe. In Daniel’s time they represented those among the Jews who were truly responsive from their hearts to God. They would continue on as the people of the Messiah (the Apostles and those who truly believed in the Messiah), ‘the elect race, the holy nation’ of 1 Peter 2.9, in other words the true believing church of Jesus the Messiah.
8 Although I heard, I did not understand. Then I said, “My lord, what shall be the end of these things?”
Daniel was still puzzled by it all, and no doubt concerned by the accounts of desolation and persecution. Thus he wanted to know the final results of it. What would happen to the people of God?
9 And he said, “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. 10 Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand. 11 “And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days.
The angel stands firm in his message. He will not give Daniel the information that he seeks. The words have been shut up and sealed until the time of the end by Daniel himself. But two pieces of information he will give. Firstly that the purpose of all this is the refining and purifying of the righteous. They will ‘purify themselves and make themselves white by how they respond to the suffering in faith and obedience.
But the wicked, those who are not faithful to God’s covenant, will go on doing wickedly. They will not understand. On the other hand the wise will understand, even though they have to go through such suffering.
The angel declares a limit on the period of direst persecution, dating it from the cessation of the ‘continual things’; the Sabbaths, the sacrifices and offerings, the morning and evening sacrifices, the regular rituals. No ending event is mentioned.
In Daniel there is only one reference to the Abomination that Appalls, and that is in chapter 11 verse 31, so we are immediately taken back to the time of Antiochus Epiphanies. How we see this will depend on our interpretation of chapter 8 verse 14. If we see that as referring to two thousand three hundred days then the end event here may be the date of the purification of the temple. Thus the one thousand two hundred and ninety days would lie between the two events of the cessation of true worship by demand of Antiochus, prior to the setting up of the heathen altar, and the purifying of the temple after the defeat of Antiochus’ army.
But if we see in chapter 8 verse 14 as referring to one thousand one hundred and fifty days that refers to the period between the commencement of the cessation of the continual worship and the reunifying of the temple, so we will have to look for another event that ends the one thousand two hundred and ninety days.
One possible explanation is that one thousand two hundred and ninety days is one hundred and forty days more than one thousand one hundred and fifty days, representing twice seven times ten, a period of divine perfection intensified. This may then refer to the length of time taken to fortify Mount Zion and rebuild its walls and fortify it with towers after the purification of the temple lest the Gentiles come and tread them down. For that would be almost as important as the purification of the temple. It would hopefully prevent its future desecration.
Certainly the number is a difficulty to all other interpretations. All attempts to trace it have failed. Nor is it possible to see it as signifying three and a half years, for it represents three and a half years plus a month, and surely if he had wanted us to understand it as three and a half years he would have made it one thousand two hundred and sixty days. (Daniel nowhere speaks of one thousand two hundred and sixty days). John in Revelation clearly did not see one thousand two hundred and ninety days as signifying three and a half years, for when he wanted to indicate that length of time he did use one thousand two hundred and sixty days (confirming our doubt above).
It is true that an intercalary month could bring it to mean three and a half years, but why then did Daniel disguise it in that way so that even John did not recognize it? And it would certainly conflict with other criteria. Most have accepted this and have tried to find an added reason for the extra month, although not very satisfactorily.
If then we see 8.14 as signifying two thousand three hundred days , we may see this one thousand two hundred and ninety days as simply meaning ‘a little over three and a half years’, during which the persecutions were at their worst, a time commencing from the cessation of true worship and ending with the righting of the situation.
We may also see it in fact as indicating that he did not want it to be connected with references that might be confused with it such as ‘a time, times and half a time’ (although there is really no reason why that should mean three and a half years either, except for those who want it to).
We must bear in mind in all the discussion that the real purpose in stating the amount of time may be mainly to indicate the shortness and brevity of it, and to indicate that God wanted His people to know that he had set a limit on the time of suffering, and this must not be lost sight of in dealing with the problem. For even if we are not able to trace the exact period due to lack of information, what we do know is that it was a length of time reasonably relating to their suffering under Antiochus, commencing from the cessation of true worship and finishing around the time when things were set right.
Our Holy Lord Jesus takes this picture of ‘the Abomination that Desolates’ in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 24 verse 15 and in the Gospel of Mark chapter 13 verse 14 and applies it to approach of the Roman army on Jerusalem in 70 AD. In the end, therefore, it is a reminder that all acts of sacrilege against God’s people are seen as summed up in the Abomination that Desolates. To attack God’s people is an abomination to God. But all such attempts will finally fail, for a time limit has been put upon them by God.
12 Blessed is he who waits, and comes to the one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days.
This suggests that it is this final period which is the most important of the two. The one thousand two hundred and ninety being a stage on the way to this final figure. But what can the one thousand three hundred and thirty five days refer to? It indicates a further one and a half months onto the one thousand two hundred and ninety days. If the end of the one thousand two hundred and ninety days refers to the recommencement of sacrifices then this could be the period of building the fortifications of the walls.
Those who saw that work completed would certainly count themselves as blessed. True worship would not only have been restored, but would also have been firmly secured.
The important lesson that comes from this is the need for the people of God to endure with perseverance under all persecution, because they can be sure that a time limit has been put upon it by God. He has even numbered it in days. The advancing lengths of time indicate the need to persevere that little bit longer even in the darkest hour, because even though God might allow it to go on longer than we expect, we can be sure that finally it will all come to an end.
13 “But you, go your way till the end; for you shall rest, and will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days.”
In a closing remarks the angel tells Daniel that his task is finished. He may now go his way satisfied that he has fulfilled God’s will. ‘The end’ is probably the end of his life, for it is the point at which he will rest. Then he will sleep, taking his rest until at the end of the days he is resurrected to enjoy his destiny, and shine as the stars for ever and ever. Amen.