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Thursday, July 18th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Daniel 12

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Verse 1

A Time of Distress

The words at the beginning of the verse, “at that time”, make it clear that we are still in the same time of the previous verses, that is the end time. At the end of the previous chapter, we saw how much “the sons of your people”, the people of Daniel, the faithful remnant, will be oppressed. On the one hand, they are severely persecuted by their apostate fellow countrymen, which are the antichrist and the unbelieving mass. On the other hand, life is made unbearable for them by an enemy outside the people, the king of the North, who attacks and oppresses Jerusalem.

This oppression is called here “a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time”. It will be a time of unprecedented distress. The Lord Jesus, who calls this time the time of “a great tribulation”, also speaks of the fact that this time is unparalleled in world history (Matthew 24:21; Jeremiah 30:7).

While the distress of the faithful remnant is great because of the siege, that remnant receives support from the invisible world. To his encouragement, Daniel was told that his hard-tested fellow countrymen were being assigned someone who “stands” over them. That he ‘stands’ there, means that he is reliable and makes their case his own. He is there for them and is committed to them. They are not alone. With this announcement it becomes clear that the faithful remnant is not a plaything of the evil powers, although it may seem so. The actual warfare takes place in the heavenly places, as we saw in Daniel 8.

The outcome for “your people” is also given: they will be rescued. That too is a great encouragement. The salvation from all misery will happen. However, this salvation does not apply to all those who belong externally to God’s earthly people. The wicked mass will perish. The salvation, the rescue, is only the part of “everyone who is found written in the book”. These are those who are known to God as His own and whose “names are recorded in heaven” (Luke 10:20), “in the Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 21:27; Revelation 13:8).

Verse 2

The Resurrection

In the previous verse it is about the people of God in the land in the end time and especially about the faithful remnant. It is about the Israelites in the land who have escaped persecution and who will enter alive in the kingdom of peace. It is also indicated that they are known by God. He wrote them in His book. That segregates them from all those who are not written in His book: that is the unbelieving, apostate mass.

In Daniel 12:2 it is about those of God’s people who “sleep in the dust of the ground” outside the promised land, that means, that they have died (cf. Genesis 3:19; Psalms 22:15). Here it says “many”, because it is not about all deceased people, but about the deceased from Israel. They will all awaken. But we also see a division in that group. This division appears when they “will awake”, i.e. when they arise. There are “these” who awake “to everlasting life” and there are “others” who awake “to disgrace [and] everlasting contempt” (cf. Matthew 25:46).

These who awake to everlasting life will share in the blessing of the kingdom of peace (cf. Psalms 133:3). Everlasting life here is the atmosphere of life, life in a fearless glory, without pain and sorrow, with only pleasure in fellowship with the Lord Jesus, the reigning Prince of Peace. These awakened ones are not in the earthly part of the kingdom of peace – that is for those who enter the kingdom of peace alive – but in the heavenly part of it (Matthew 13:43).

By describing the part of the unbelievers as “to disgrace [and] everlasting contempt” the contrast with that glory is presented in the sharpest and most poignant way. The fate of the lost is as everlasting as that of those who have been saved. And as glorious as the destiny of the elect is, so terrible is the destiny of the lost. On the basis of this verse, both the doctrine of universalism or universal salvation and that of the annihilation of the soul is clearly contrary to God’s Word and therefore reprehensible.

It is important to point out that the resurrection to everlasting or eternal life and the resurrection to everlasting or eternal terror will not take place at the same time. There is no such thing in Scripture as a general resurrection of believers and unbelievers together at the same time. On the contrary, Scripture speaks of a “first resurrection” (Revelation 20:5), making it clear that there is another resurrection.

The first resurrection is in phases: first Christ, “then those who are of Christ, at His coming” (1 Corinthians 15:23). The coming of Christ also takes place in phases. He first comes to take His own unto Himself in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:15-Job :). On that occasion, all believers who have slept since Abel are raised up and the living believers are changed. Then the wedding of the Lamb takes place (Revelation 19:7). Then the Lord Jesus comes for the second time from heaven, together with the church and the other believers, to defeat His enemies and establish His kingdom. That is the moment when the martyrs killed during the last year-week will rise up to also participate in the reign of Christ (Revelation 20:4). Then the first resurrection is complete. The unbelievers will not be judged until after the kingdom of peace and before the great white throne, which only unbelievers stand before (Revelation 20:5; Revelation 20:11-Ezra :).

There are two resurrections. Thus Paul says to Felix, “that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked” (Acts 24:15; Luke 14:14). There is a period of a thousand years between the two resurrections. The same applies to what the Lord Jesus calls the “resurrection of life” and the “resurrection of judgment” (John 5:29).

Verse 3

Those Who Have Insight

Among those who form the faithful, God-fearing remnant, “those who have insight” occupy a special place (Daniel 11:33; Daniel 11:35). During their lives they have taken that place among the people and they take that place in the heavenly part of the kingdom of peace when it has come. We can see that from the way they are presented. They “shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven” and “like the stars”. This place they will receive as a reward for their service on earth. They will also be signposts in the firmament in the kingdom of peace, giving directions for life on earth.

Through their service on earth “those who have insight” have led “the many to righteousness”. They were taught by and from the Lord Jesus, and by this they got insight and obtained understanding and wisdom. This understanding and this wisdom have been of great importance in a time of enormous trials and temptations of all kinds. They have been able to teach the believers the right way, that is the way of the righteous. Leading the many to righteousness means that they have taught many how to live righteously.

It will be clear that the leading to righteousness of others is not meant to teach the way in which one can be justified before God. How a man can be righteous with God is discussed in detail in the letter to the Romans. But the doctrine of righteousness before God does not stop with the knowledge a person has that God no longer sees sin in him. The latter is an important and necessary teaching and must first be known and accepted. But it must be followed by a righteous life, that is a life in which God gets what is due to Him and in which people get what is due to them. It is about the teaching by those with insight and that they show how to live in a world where the practice of unrighteousness is the most obvious thing to do, as someone for whom doing righteousness is the most obvious thing.

Understanding and wisdom are especially needed in the end time, that is the time in which we live. That is why it is also important for us to let our minds be shaped by and be taught in wisdom. This is only possible at the feet of the Lord Jesus. He is the perfect Understanding and Wise. Mentalists are also those who can teach others, who can pass on their wisdom to others. Paul writes in his second letter to Timothy, a letter about the end times, that people are needed who are able to teach others (2 Timothy 2:2).

Mentalists are people who have been taught and who also teach themselves. The end time is so corrupt that we need God-fearing people more than ever who can make a distinction between good and evil. In the end times in which we live, these things are reversed. Evil is called good and good is called evil (Isaiah 5:20). If we think we can decide for ourselves, we have already been affected by this reversal (Isaiah 5:21). This far-off difference must be made clear to us. We only learn this in the presence of God.

With this announcement about the wise, the explanation to Daniel about the things to come has come to an end. It is peaceful as such and is not a part of what Daniel has been told. He is the prophet in the times of the nations. What concerns him is how his people will perish during those times. That is what has been told to him and that is what we have been told by him. The remarks that are following, are clues to Daniel about what he should do with what he has been made aware of. This gives rise to a number of questions and an answer.

Verse 4

The Book Must Be Sealed Up

Daniel is ordered to keep secret what he has heard by concealing the words and to seal the book. This means that the time of fulfilment of these things has not yet arrived. The fulfilment will take place in the end of time. Then many will go back and forth to investigate what has been said here to Daniel. This will increase their knowledge and give them insight into the circumstances of the end time. This book will give them enormous support in the time of the end.

For us, New Testament believers, the book is not sealed. We live in the end time (2 Timothy 3:1; 1 John 2:18). In addition, the Holy Spirit has come Who will disclose what is to come (John 16:13). Future things are explained to us in the book of Revelation. For us, the words about the future are not sealed. From the book of Revelation we know that time is near (Revelation 22:10), while it will take a long time for Daniel and his people.

Verses 5-7

How Long?

When the angel has finished communicating with Daniel, Daniel sees two other angels together with the Man about Who has been reported before (Daniel 10:5-Ruth :). One of the angels asks the Man about the length of history shown in the vision. He most probably expresses the question that lives in the heart of Daniel. He speaks of these “wonders”. Everything that is shown in the vision is a wonderful development of the events. These events lead to the entry into the promised blessing of God’s people, after they have experienced the salvation from the time of great distress.

The Man to Whom the question is posed can be none other than the Lord Jesus. He knows the answer and gives it. Before He does so, it is still mentioned of Him that He was “above the waters of the river”. This place seems to indicate symbolically that He is above all circumstances and also controls them. He will put an end to all the suffering of His people at the appointed time, after the period appointed by Him. He will do so by judging His enemies, after which He will establish a glorious realm of peace and righteousness and joy.

The duration of the time from suffering to liberation is fixed at three and a half years: “a time” is one year, “times” is two years and “half a time” is six months. That time will not be exceeded. Rather, that time has been shortened to three and a half years, for otherwise no one would survive (Matthew 24:22).

That this is so, He confirms with an oath. He does so to give His greatest assurance that it will take so long, and not a day longer. He swears by Him Who lives forever and is not bound to time, but Who at the same time holds time in His hand. At the end of the great tribulation He returns Who here raises His right and left hand to heaven. His return to earth will have many consequences.

But here His coming is mainly related to the place He has always wanted to give His people in the world system. He will make them “the head and not the tail” (Deuteronomy 28:13). That the opposite has become the case is because of the unfaithfulness of the people (Deuteronomy 28:44). He will fulfill His plan in the “holy people”, which is the God-fearing remnant. They form all Israel, as it is written: “So all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:26).

All hatred of the surrounding peoples has always been and will be directed to “shatter the power of the holy people”. Through His intervention He will make His people, “the holy people”, the people who belong to Him and are devoted to Him, the heads of the nations. Israel is hated by all the surrounding peoples because of its power. That power has been shattered time and again in the past, sometimes by the king of the North, sometimes by the king of the South. In the time of the end his power is shattered once more by the king of the North. But when this hostile power has been judged by the Lord Jesus, “all these [events] will be completed”.

Verses 8-12

Last Teaching

Daniel does not quite understand the message yet. He would like further clarification. He has not yet understood what we can understand, about these times. Nor is it clear to him how things will proceed. Here again we see how fearless Daniel asks about the meaning of what is not clear to him.

That is an example to us. We may go to the Lord with all our questions, whether they relate to our daily needs or God’s plan with the world. If our hearts desire fellowship with God, we will submit all our questions to Him and look forward to His answer (Habakkuk 2:1). The heart that lives in fellowship with God is interested in all things God is interested in.

Daniel is told that these communications are not intended for him (cf. 1 Peter 1:12). He will not experience that time, at least not in his life. He will be one of those who have insight who shine in the sky. It will be a long time before the end will really come for him. When that time will have come, it will be a time of purging, purifying and refining (Daniel 11:35).

During this time of trial, which has a purging, purifying and refining effect on the remnant, the wicked will increasingly act wickedly (cf. Revelation 22:11). The apostate Jews seem to have been meant with the wicked here. They have no understanding of the seriousness of the time in which they live: that the coming of Christ is imminent and that for them this means judgment. However, there are those who have insight into the times in which they live. They know that when Christ comes, this means judgment for their enemies and that this results in their liberation. This prospect will lead them to a life of purity and holiness (cf. 1 John 3:3).

Then Daniel receives an additional communication on the duration of the period from half of the last year-week. Two events are mentioned as the time from which the calculation is to be made: the removal of the regular sacrifice, i.e. the daily burnt offering, and the setting up of the abomination of desolation i.e. an idol image instead of the regular sacrifice. The first is the removal of God’s due and the basis on which He can dwell with His people. But a person cannot do without an object of worship. This is provided for by the second event: the placing of an idol image. With this God is not only removed, but replaced, so that there will be no more thought of Him.

We have already come across these two events before (Daniel 8:11; Daniel 11:31). They introduce the time of great tribulation, which we have seen will last three and a half years, or “forty-two months” (Revelation 13:5), or “twelve hundred and sixty days” (Revelation 12:6), which is forty-two months times thirty days. Now we read here about a period that lasts thirty days longer, while counting from the same time. That means that, after three and a half years of great oppression have passed, there will be another 30 days with a special purpose.

The great tribulation is over when the antichrist and the king of the North are judged by the coming of the Lord Jesus. That means liberation for the people. But it does not mean that all enemies have already been defeated. There are still enemies, especially the enemy from the extreme north with his allies, who are so audacious as to attack Israel as it was introduced into the promised rest of the Messiah (Ezekiel 38:2-Joshua :; Ezekiel 38:15-Nehemiah :). But that will be to their own destruction (Ezekiel 39:1-Numbers :). “The power of the holy people” (Daniel 12:7) can no longer be broken because the Lord Jesus is their King.

We see an example of these things in the government of Solomon, the Prince of peace. During the first days of his reign as the Prince of peace, the last stumbling blocks of his kingdom were removed by Him in judgment.

Then there is another additional period of forty-five days. Probably this is about the completion of the restoration of the entire people after the great tribulation. Then all enemies will have been dealt with, and all the people will live in the land in peace and serve God. That is what the faithful Jew looks forward to. That is the blessing that is part of everyone who keeps waiting. Perseverance is the proof of faith that is severely tested (Revelation 13:10; Revelation 14:12). That perseverance will be richly rewarded.

Verse 13

A Word for Daniel Personally

Daniel has come to the end of his life. He may enter the peace of God. At the same time he is assured, as a personal promise, that he will rise at the end of the days and receive the reward of the LORD: the fulfilment of the promises made to the fathers. He knows nothing about the interim situation. We know that the believers who have fallen asleep are with the Lord Jesus (Luke 23:43; Philippians 1:23).

Daniel will rise at the coming of the Lord Jesus as one of “the dead in Christ” and with all the fallen asleep and living believers “meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-Esther :). He will be present when the Lord “comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed” (2 Thessalonians 1:10). He is one of “His saints” and one of “all who have believed”.

When Christ appears as “the Sun of righteousness” (Malachi 4:2), Daniel will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and like one of the stars (Daniel 12:3). He will contribute to the reflection of the glory of Him Whom everything is about: Christ, the Messiah, God’s anointed King.

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Daniel 12". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/daniel-12.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
 
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