Monday, January 19, 2009
DANIEL CHAPTER 12:1-13
Final Mysteries Unsealed
What we have referred to as the fourth vision of Daniel that began in chapter ten, now reaches its grand climax in chapter twelve with its prophecies about the Great Tribulation, the resurrection of Old Testament saints, the sealing of prophecy until the time of the end, and the abomination of desolation. Everything we have studied to this point has been prologue to the magnificent conclusion of Daniel's prophecy. We begin chapter twelve with references to Daniel's people-the Jews-and to the archangel Michael, the protector of the nation of Israel-an assignment that has already been a full-time job for him throughout the ages and, in some ways, has only just begun.
And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.
While Michael has been the protective overseer of the Jews throughout their history, his work will become even more critical in the days ahead. The end-time reality for the Jews, according to prophecy, will deteriorate into something worse than anything anyone has ever witnessed in world history. Therefore, when you and I think we have it difficult at any given moment, we must remember that the pain and sorrow we may be suffering will pale into insignificance when compared with the trials and tribulations yet to come to so many. Jeremiah 30:7 says:Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.
Jesus confirmed Jeremiah's prophecy in Matthew 24:21 when He said,For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
However, Jesus says that Michael the protector will also be there on the scene, doing battle with Satan in the heavenlies (Revelation 12:7-8). In Daniel 12:1 we see Michael standing for the people of Israel. Why will Michael be there? So that the Jews might be saved physically. That's Michael's job, and the Jews-at the time of the end-will never need his assistance more than during this time of Jacob's trouble-that period during the Tribulation hour when Russia marches down to the Middle East after the Antichrist has broken his peace contract with Israel-forty-two months after the contract has been in effect.
Everything will be relatively smooth sailing up to that time, the epitome of economic and political sweetness and light, and then Bam! Everything is smashed to pieces at the midpoint of the Tribulation period (Daniel 9:27) as Russia goes up against the land of unwalled villages ... to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates (Ezekiel 38:11). This is the beginning of the time of great persecution for the Jews as Satan is cast out of heaven, with his primary assignment to obliterate the Jewish people from the face of the earth (Revelation 12:13). For all these reasons, Michael will be there to stand up for his people, as revealed to Daniel in the first verse of chapter twelve.
Those Who Sleep Will Awake
If you are a Jewish person, I want you to know that your Old Testament teaches the promise of a resurrection, and that there will be life beyond the grave. Unfortunately, many Jews do not know that Daniel 12:2 is in the Bible. This end-time event is something one should look forward to if one has come to recognize that the expected Messiah is the Lord Jesus Christ and has received Him as a personal Savior. If you are a Gentile who loves the Jewish people, it is paramount that you share this text with your Jewish friends and encourage them to understand that there will also be a place for them during these end-time events. Here's the scenario-and it is a critical one for us to understand in some detail. It all begins with the resurrection of the righteous at the time of the Rapture.
We read in John 5:28-29,
Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life.
That is the Rapture. Then they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation,
That is when the lost are raised at the conclusion of the thousand years-to stand before Jesus Christ at the Great White Throne judgment (Revelation 20:11-15).
Revelation 4:1 says,
After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will show thee things which must be hereafter.
At this juncture, we who are believers are gone-caught away to be with Christ. This is confirmed in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 which says,For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then, we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them-the dead-in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.
Not a Pretty Sight
At this point, the horrible Tribulation hour begins to unfold. To those who may disagree with what I'm about to write, I would like to say this: I am only the messenger of what is stated categorically in God's Word. These are not my thoughts, but rather the words of God taken from holy Scripture. So during this time of Tribulation, great numbers of both Jews and Gentiles will be killed for refusing to receive the mark of the beast (Revelation 13:15). Revelation 20:4 adds:And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
This is the resurrection for those who endured the Great Tribulation hour- those who were saved through the preaching of the 144,000 converted Jews of Revelation 7:4-8. Because of these faithful servants, millions of people-Jews and Gentiles alike-invite Christ into their lives as Savior and Lord. These are the ones who've come out of the Tribulation and who have washed their robes, making them white in the blood of the Lamb. Millions will physically survive the seven-year Tribulation period and will also be saved spiritually.
In Matthew 25:31-46, Christ returns to judge the nations and to begin His thousand-year reign, allowing those who survived the 2,520-day period to enter the millennium in their natural bodies. At this point, the previously raptured saints return with Christ (Jude 14). That's the moment when He returns as King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:16). The armies of heaven follow Him to the descending Holy City-the new Jerusalem which hovers above the earthly Jerusalem-for one thousand years.
This city, containing twelve gates, honors each of the twelve Jewish patriarchs of the Old Testament by inscribing their names on the gates. How do the Jews arrive in this scenario? Simply answered-the resurrection of Jewish believers in this chapter, verse 2. Millions who died during the Tribulation hour, of both Jews and Gentiles, plus all believing Old Testament Jews covering a period of four thousand years, are raised to live with Christ for one thousand years, at this juncture, when our Savior returns as King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:16; 20:4). These Old Testament Jews strongly believed in and looked forward to Messiah's first and second coming and founded their faith in Him as their redeemer-based on Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22.
These resurrected Jews who lived a holy life, such as Daniel, receive rewards just as the Church did at the judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 14:10; 2Timothy 4:7-8; Revelation 4:10-11). So whether we are Jews or Gentile believers, there will be rewards for all the faithful. Remember that all these saints assemble at this time for one reason only: to live and reign with Christ for one thousand years. If you do not believe that Jews and Christians rule equally in Christ's kingdom on earth, I urge you to re-study Ephesians 2:14-22 and Revelation chapters twenty-one and twenty-two, the basis for this glorious promise. All this-although not in such detail-is what Daniel is being told in his vision.
But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.Then I Daniel looked, and, behold, there stood other two, the one on this side of the bank of the river, and the other on that side of the bank of the river.And one said to the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, How long shall it be to the end of these wonders? And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things? And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days.But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days.
Shut Up the Words ... Seal Up the Book
Daniel is told in no uncertain terms that his vision is not for today-and that his revelation will only be understood at the time of the end. For this reason many of the prophecies dealing with the revived Roman Empire, mentioned in Daniel chapter two in the form of the image, as well as the four beasts so accurately described in Daniel chapter seven, would not be understood until the time of the end when the book would be unsealed and revealed.
Historically, none of Daniel's vision made much sense to Bible scholars until 1890, when Dr. Gabaelein began to teach that a revived Roman Empire would come into play during the time of the end. Therefore, the terminology shut up the words until the time of the end only became operative in an unprecedented way at the beginning of the twentieth century.
This is when we also began to understand clearly that a great nation would march against Israel (Ezekiel 38 and 39) and that this enemy would come from the north. We've already seen in Daniel 11:40 how the king of the South (Egypt) and the king of the North (Russia) would unite to engage in a blitzkrieg, the likes of which the world has never seen previously. No one could make much sense of Daniel's vision until certain world events began to reveal themselves to God's servants.
Today, we understand how it will all happen. But when does it occur? When many run to and fro and knowledge is increased. There is a dual interpretation in this text. First, travel is reaching unparalleled proportions and knowledge is doubling every twenty-two months.
The secondary meaning is that during the time of the end an inordinate fascination for knowledge about latter-day predictions would increase, with people running to and fro to learn everything possible concerning the prophecies about the returning King. This is where we are today in this sequence of end-time events. Soon, the Savior will call His Church away to be with Him, after which He returns seven years later, with His people, to rule and reign. It's all beginning to take shape-just as the Holy Spirit, through Daniel, said it would.
Time, Times, and a Half Time
Again, Daniel is joined by two angels who come to give him further insight into historical matters concerning the time of the end. Daniel remains inquisitive. He wants to know what is going to take place in the long run-and he is especially curious as to what will happen to his people, the Jews, during the latter days before the Messiah appears. The one angel responds by saying that time, times, and a half time will bring all these things to a conclusion. What things, and what is meant by this expression? The angel is referring to the terrible battle that takes place in Daniel chapter eleven when the king of the South (Egypt) ultimately invades Israel, leading an Arab federation and joined by the king of the North (Russia).
This first wave of troops was discussed in chapter eleven. Next, China enters the fray with her two hundred million soldiers, accompanied by the remnants of Russia's previously defeated army, for the second wave of the Armageddon campaign (Daniel 11:44). This is the information Daniel received, but it was not necessarily the message he wanted to hear.
But what about the seemingly cryptic phrase that time, times, and a half time will bring all these things to a conclusion? Remember that Russia begins her move into the area during the middle of the Tribulation hour-just after the Antichrist breaks his peace treaty with Israel. Time=one year; times=two more years; and a half time=half a year, the total of which is three and one-half years-precisely the concluding portion of the Tribulation period. The forty-two months of Revelation 13:5 are translated as 1,260 days in Revelation 11:3 and 12:6. These terrible battles will occur for forty-two months, right up to the exact moment that the beast and his armies battle Jesus Christ as recorded in Revelation 19:11-21.
This is the third and final portion of the Armageddon campaign as thoroughly explained in the previous chapter. Then as Christ appears, the words of Isaiah 2:4 become a reality: He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But it is going to take the real Prince-the Lord Jesus Christ-to bring history to this final, tranquil conclusion, the one whose name is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).
Tribulation Works Patience
At this time, because of the mayhem and terror that's taking place in the Holy Land, the people will flee and be scattered. Matthew 24:16-21 says,Then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter neither on the sabbath day: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
Imagine how Daniel must have felt as he once again heard the prophecies of gloom and doom coming from the mouths of two angels who informed him that everything he now heard was for the time of the end.
The angel said one more thing. It was about many being purified, or made white, people who would have understanding and also about those who were wicked, and who, in their wickedness, would not be able to understand the things of God. First Corinthians 2:14 says that the natural man, the one who is unsaved, does not understand the things of God. To such people they are foolishness. They can't understand them because they have no spiritual discernment. On the other hand, God's people-especially those who've gone through the mill- will have divine insight into these things because they, as God's faithful servants, have experienced such trials and have been purified through these times of testing.
The apostle Paul said that tribulation works patience within us. It makes us into something. Therefore, those who have been through pain and suffering-but who, in the process, have remained close to the Lord, and have read His Word, and have prayed in faith, believing, and have understood the things of God through the Holy Spirit's enlightenment-will have all these predictions revealed to them. But those who have hardened their hearts through wickedness will go to the time of the end totally ignorant of and carelessly indifferent to the latter-day predictions.
1,260 days... 1,290 days
If you've done the arithmetic found in this text, you may be wondering how the angels come up with 1,260, then 1,290, and then 1,335 days. Again, the Word of God is always meticulously correct and on schedule. With this in mind, an announcement is made that soon the millennial Kingdom will be established, but that a time of consecration is first necessary. To help us understand why this is so necessary, let's take a quick side-trip to 2 Chronicles 30:2-4 where we read,The king had taken counsel, and his princes, and all the congregation in Jerusalem, to keep the passover in the second month. For they could not keep it at that time, because the priests had not sanctified themselves sufficiently, neither had the people gathered themselves together to Jerusalem. And the thing pleased the king and all the congregation.
King Hezekiah said that there could be no Passover because there was a need to consecrate the priests- something that would take thirty days. This is a beautiful picture of why an additional thirty-day period will be necessary for God's people to prepare themselves spiritually to rule and reign with Christ for the greatest event in history.
So, as we look at the additional number, 1,290 days, instead of seeing a discrepancy, we simply need to investigate other portions of Scripture, as we just did, to see the reason. But there's another forty-five-day period mentioned in our text. Here's why: When Christ returns, He judges the nations and their people, and His decree decides whether or not they're qualified to enter His glorious kingdom for a thousand years (Matthew 25:31-46). This judgment undoubtedly takes an additional forty-five days! Thus, we end up with a total of seventy-five days in addition to the 1,260 days. There is no contradiction. Here's why-forty-five days are needed to determine who enters the millennial period, and thirty days are needed to train God's people for Kingdom service for administering the laws of the Kingdom, as described in Matthew chapters five through seven.
Now as we come to the final verse of the Book of Daniel, this great saint and man of God is in his nineties. The angel tells him to go his way till the end be: for he shall rest, and stand in his lot at the end of his days. The angel is simply saying that there will be a soon-approaching moment when Daniel will die and rest from his labors. But the angel adds that a glorious day is coming when Daniel and all believing Jews shall stand up and be raised from the dead to rule and reign with Christ.
One group of saints, who lived through the Tribulation period, are selected in Matthew 25:31-45 and enter the Kingdom in their natural bodies. Then there's the group of believers who died during the Tribulation hour and are resurrected at approximately the time the Jewish Old Testament saints are raised. These resurrected Old Testament saints and Tribulation believers will dwell in the Holy City in glorified bodies and will, together, rule and reign with Jesus Christ for a thousand years along with the raptured believers who return with the Lord.
That's why the names of the twelve Jewish patriarchs and the twelve apostles are mentioned upon the gates and the foundations of the Holy City. They represent all resurrected believers from among both Jews and Christians. May I reiterate what I've just stated so that no one can misinterpret or misunderstand the portion of Scripture just analyzed. There will be four groups sharing Christ's kingdom for one thousand years.
The believers who were raptured and who return with Christ seven years later in their glorified bodies (Jude 14; Revelation 19:14).
The believers who are selected at Christ's return and are invited to enter the kingdom in their physical bodies (Matthew 25:34).
The Old Testament Jewish believers covering a period of four thousand years who are raised from the dead at Christ's return to enter the kingdom in glorified bodies similar to the raptured of group one (Daniel 12:2).
The believers, both Jews and Gentiles, who died for Christ during the Tribulation period and are raised from the dead upon the Savior's second coming (Revelation 20:4).
At this point, the angel is saying to Daniel: Hallelujah! You will be there among them! You've been through tough times, Daniel, and have been faithful to the end. Daniel, you will be greatly rewarded.
Personally, I believe that Daniel will be one of the rulers during that thousand-year reign of Christ on earth. Daniel certainly had great administrative experience serving under six kings.
However, the greatest moment for this man who prayed fearlessly in front of an open window, who slept serenely one night in a den of some two hundred lions, who was lied about and set up to be killed by his palace friends, will be the moment when he serves the King of Kings, the Lord Jesus Christ, for a thousand years-a time when you and I shall also share in God's blessings.
And thus we come to the close of the Book of Daniel, and a look at the final end-time mysteries that have now been unsealed. We have seen how the Book of Daniel clearly demonstrates the sovereign rule of almighty God over the affairs of men. We have seen prophecy after prophecy fulfilled, all verifiable and documented by secular and religious history. We have observed that God remains in control and will until the time of the end, giving the Gentile world dominance until Christ returns.
He Is Coming Soon
If you are a follower of this One who is coming soon, you can be assured that you will not have to endure the pain and suffering of the Great Tribulation hour. Such cannot be said for those who continue to turn their backs on God, and who choose to live out their own agendas. Now is the time of salvation. Our Lord Jesus Christ is coming soon. Will you be caught up to meet Christ-to later return with Him as he establishes His millennial Kingdom? There are simply too many signs pointing to the time of the end not to take this message to heart. The Book of Daniel has finally been unsealed and revealed for those who have eyes to see. The time for Christ's return is near.
It is my prayer that you have not read this book just as so much interesting ancient history. It is much more than that. It is a carefully crafted blueprint for the time of the end. But the key to understanding this book is not in being able to understand every nuance, each beast, the little horn, or any other veiled prophecy contained in this work. Instead, it is in knowing the living Word-the Lord Jesus Christ-the One who is coming soon.
I close this volume with a quote from one of the most respected biblical scholars of our era, Dr. John F. Walvoord, who stated in his book Daniel: The Key to Prophetic Revelation:
For Christians living in the age of grace and searching for understanding of these difficult days which may be bringing to a close God's purpose in His church, the book of Daniel, as never before, casts a broad light upon contemporary events foreshadowing the consummation which may not be far distant. If God is reviving His people Israel politically, allowing the church to drift into indifference and apostasy, and permitting the nations to move toward centralization of political power, it may not be long before the time of the end will overtake the world. Many who look for the coming of the Lord anticipate their removal from the earth's scene before the final days of the time of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
When the plan of God has run its full course, it will be evident then with even more clarity than at present that God has not allowed a word to fall to the ground. As Christ said while on earth, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled (Matthew 5:18).
To which I only add, Come quickly, Lord Jesus. Maranatha!
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