Daniel 12

Daniel 12
by David Groendyk

After the coming of one who is a type of anti-Christ, the final chapter of Daniel begins with a war. Again, the parallels in this chapter with Revelation are unmistakable. There is a great war with Michael and God’s people vs. the wicked nations, which ends with God’s victory (Rev. 12:7–8). People are being rescued whose names are written in a book (Rev. 20:15). All people are resurrected with some being given life and others punishment (Rev. 21:5–8). The time period of three-and-a-half “times” (v. 7) parallels three-and-a-half years or 42 months or 1260 days (Rev. 11:2–3). Some people are washing themselves white while others continue to act wickedly (Rev. 22:14–15). And, of course, Daniel doesn’t fully understanding what’s going on, which certainly parallels us now when we read Revelation!

All of this seems to add up to Daniel having a vision of the end of time. When the mysterious figure on the bank of the stream is asked, “How long will it be until we see verses 1–4 come about?” he answers, “a time, [two] times, and half a time”. As I mentioned above, this corresponds to the time period that the church has to wait until Christ comes again in Revelation. But also notice that this is a precise, predetermined amount of time. God has appointed exactly how long until Christ comes again to rescue us. As we’ve seen over and over in this book, never think that anything happening in this world is out of God’s control.

When the mysterious figure on the bank of the stream is asked, “What should we do as a result of verses 1–4?” his answer is something along the lines of, “The godly will be purified and refined through persecution, and the wicked will continue to be wicked; therefore, wait.” Just as much of the message of the book of Revelation was that Christians must endure through tribulation until the end, so Daniel seems to get the same message.

One of the most challenging parts to understand in this chapter is verses 11–12 where we see two different periods of time mentioned. Here’s what I think it’s getting at. When Christ comes the first time, he ends our need to make any more burnt offerings to God by making the ultimate sacrifice of dying on the cross. Then there will be 1290 days (a long time) until there comes a period of extra persecution and war on the church. Then, once that period of extra persecution starts, there will be another 45 days (a short time) until Christ comes again. (See Revelation 20:1–10 for a parallel.) Blessed is the one who endures through that heavy persecution and sees Christ’s return!

But here’s one of the most astounding parts of this chapter: the idea of resurrection. Have you ever looked for hints of resurrection in the Old Testament? The Christian doctrine of resurrection is often critiqued as being a purely New Testament teaching. The criticism goes something like this: if resurrection is such an important part of Christianity, how come no one talked about it in the Old Testament? Did the Old Testament believers expect to be raised to life again after dying? The resounding answer is, “Yes!” What an amazing thought that even the men and women who trusted God for salvation before Christ came to the earth knew about everlasting life! Besides our chapter, we also see hints of the resurrection in Psalm 16:9–11, Psalm 49:10–15, Psalm 71:20, and Isaiah 26:19. To be sure, these are only hints of something that we’ll understand much more fully after reading the New Testament. But the vision Daniel has of the resurrection at the end of time is remarkably thorough. Just as Jesus himself taught in John 5:28–29, Daniel learns that every single person will be raised to life again, some receiving everlasting life and some receiving everlasting punishment. The difference between the two is based on who has received righteousness. Daniel is even given a personal assurance in verse 13 that he himself will be raised before God at the end of time. What an amazing assurance! You will be raised to life again after you die. There is no greater hope than that in the Christian life. All the more reason to entrust ourselves to the God who reigns.