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Bible Commentaries

Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible

Daniel 12

CHAP. XII.

Michael shall deliver Israel from their troubles. Daniel is informed of the times.

Before Christ 534.

Verse 1

Daniel 12:1. And there shall be a time of trouble When the Jews are to be restored, there shall be such calamities as the nations never before experienced since men were formed into civil societies. Tribulations are often mentioned in Scripture, as preceding extraordinary events, see Eze 30:2-3 and especially as ushering in the kingdom of God, whether that kingdom relate to the first or second advent of the Messiah. See Isaiah 8:22.Jeremiah 30:7; Jeremiah 30:7. Mat 24:21 at which last place an expression is used of like import with this of Daniel. This unusual and extraordinary time of trouble is supposed to correspond with that represented by St. John, as to follow upon the pouring out of the seventh vial. Revelation 16:18. Yet the people of God shall escape.

Verse 2

Daniel 12:2. Many—that sleep—shall awake Though this verse, without all question, primarily refers to some great and future restoration of the Jewish people; yet in a secondary sense, it may well be understood of the resurrection from the dead. Many is here used for all, in the same manner as St. Paul uses it in Romans 15:19. See Calmet.

Verse 3

Daniel 12:3. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament And those that have wisely instructed shall shine like the splendour of the firmament: or, as the heavens adorned with the sun and the other glorious lights. In the Hebrew the first word is the same participle as at chap. Dan 11:33 and the whole verse seems intended as an encouragement to those teachers especially, who were to fall, and to suffer such distresses as in the fore-mentioned passage are described. Cappellus observes of the two clauses of this verse, that one member is εξηγητικον, or explanatory of the other: the splendour of the firmament and the splendour of the stars is the same; and those that have taught, and those who have justified many, must mean those, who by teaching and by good example have successfully, through the grace of God, shewed the way to righteousness and life eternal. The Judge of all the earth will certainly do right: he has given the fullest assurance that there is a reward for the righteous; and it is certain, that this reward will be augmented in proportion as men have been more extensively useful, or have advanced the real and best interest of their fellow-creatures. In the last verse the reward and the punishment are expressed generally as to their degree, and merely said to be perpetual in their duration: in this they are exalted to the highest pitch of distinction in their degree, and their duration is pointed out in the strongest form of expressing eternity. Vulg. in perpetuas aeternitates. Gr. εις τους αιωνας και ετι . The design of which is, to convince the eminently holy and useful, that they are in a more especial manner the favourites of heaven, and may with greater confidence expect their reward. The glories of the future world are adumbrated in Scripture by the loftiest and most splendid images in this; but after all, so inadequate is language, and so inferior the conceptions of the human mind to this great subject, that the finest description of the joys of eternity is that negative one of St. Paul, which he has in some measure borrowed from Isaiah, "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." See Bishop Lowth on Isaiah 64:4.

Verse 5

Daniel 12:5. Behold there stood other two Two other angels stood one on each side of the river Hiddekel or Tigris, chap. Daniel 10:4-5., and were attendants on that superior one who appeared there in so bright and glorious a form. Gabriel had finished his narrative, and what now follows seems added by way of illustration.

Verse 6

Daniel 12:6. And one said, &c.— And I said. Houbigant. See Daniel 12:8.

Verse 7

Daniel 12:7. A time, times, and an half This signifies three prophetic years and an half, making one thousand two hundred and sixty prophetic days, or one thousand two hundred and sixty years. The same time, therefore, is prefixed for the desolation and oppression of the Eastern church, as for the tyranny of the little horn in the Western church, chap. Daniel 7:25. And it is wonderfully remarkable, that the doctrine of Mahomet was first forged at Mecca, and the supremacy of the pope was established by virtue of a grant from the tyrant Phocas, in the very same year of Christ, 606. There is a farther notation of time in the last clause: When the Jews shall be recalled from the dispersion, then all these things shall receive their full and final completion. See Newton. Mr. Wintle reads the last clause of this verse, And after the accomplishment of the dispersions of the holy people, all these things shall be fulfilled.

Verse 8

Daniel 12:8. And I heard, but I understood not The prophets did not always receive the interpretation of what was revealed to them. See 1 Peter 1:12. Study and particular application were required, and often an immediate revelation. The evidence which appears to us so clearly in the greater part of the prophecies that respect the Lord Jesus Christ, and the establishment of the church, was exceedingly obscure to the generality before the event. It was the same with respect to those which concerned the persecutions of Antiochus. This prophesy is of distant reference and interpretation; it is necessary, therefore, that it should be involved in obscurity. What is delivered may satisfy the minds of the pious and faithful; but it is not meant that the curious should be gratified, that human pride should be indulged, or that the counsels of God should be made subservient to the ambition of princes, or any sinister designs of man.

Verses 11-12

Daniel 12:11-12. From the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, &c.— The days here mentioned are still prophetic days or years. The setting up the abomination of desolation appears to be a general phrase, and comprehensive of many events. It is applied, 1Ma 1:54 to the profanation of the temple by Antiochus; and by our Lord, Mat 24:15 to the destruction of the city and temple by the Romans. It may for the same reason be applied to the Roman emperor Adrian's building a temple to Jupiter Capitolinus, in the same place where the temple of God had stood. It may with equal justice be applied to the Mahometans invading and desolating Christendom, and converting churches into mosques; and this latter event seems to have been particularly intended in this passage. If this interpretation be true, the religion of Mahomet will prevail in the East for the space of one thousand two hundred and sixty years, and then a great and glorious revolution will follow, which, I verily believe, refers to the destruction of Antichrist, and the restoration of the Jews. But another still greater and more glorious will succeed; and what can this be, but the full conversion of the Gentiles to the church of Christ, and the beginning of the Millennium, or reign of the saints upon earth? Here then are three different periods assigned, one thousand two hundred and sixty years, one thousand two hundred and ninety years, and one thousand three hundred and thirty-five years; but what is the precise time of their beginning, and consequently of their ending, as well as what are the great and signal events which will take place at the end of each period, we can only conjecture; time alone with certainty will discover. But, however, the uncertainty of these events, which remain yet to be fulfilled, cannot shake the credit and certainty of those which have already been accomplished. Upon the whole, what an amazing prophesy is this! Comprehending so many various events, and extending through so many succeeding ages, from the first establishment of the Persian empire, above five hundred and thirty years before Christ, even to the general resurrection! And the farther it extends, and the more it comprehends, the more amazing and the more divine it must appear. What stronger and more convincing proofs can be given or required of a divine Providence, and a divine revelation,—that there is a God who directs and orders the transactions of the world; and that Daniel was a prophet divinely inspired by him, a man greatly beloved, as he is often addressed by an angel! Our blessed Saviour has bestowed upon him the appellation of Daniel the prophet, Mat 24:15 and that is authority sufficient for any Christian. But in the course of these notes, such instances and attestations of his being a prophet have been produced, as an infidel cannot deny, or, if he deny, cannot disprove. In short, we see how well Daniel deserves the character which his cotemporary Ezekiel has given of him, ch. 14 and 28 for his piety and wisdom; and these, in the true sense, always go together; for as the angel says above, Daniel 12:10. None of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand. Happy are they who both know the will of God, and do it! See Bishop Newton's Diss.

Verse 13

Daniel 12:13. Till the end be To thy station. Rest and continue in thy lot, till the end of thy days. It is hereby signified, that Daniel should live in peace and tranquillity till the end of his days; and that the evils which had just been shewn him were yet at a great distance: and it also, probably, signifies, that Daniel should be a partaker of all the privileges of the first resurrection, and have then a glorious lot with the saints of God. See Revelation 20:5-6.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, When the troubles of God's faithful people are at their height, the power and grace of their Redeemer shall be the more magnified in their deliverance; and especially at the resurrection of the dead and the great day of judgment.

1. In that great day of the appearing of our God and Saviour, an awful distinction will be made between the persons who shall awake from the dust of death; some of them arising to everlasting life, while others, who died impenitent, shall awake to shame and everlasting contempt; which would be a glorious encouragement for the sufferers under the persecution of Antiochus, (see Hebrews 11:35.) as it is to all the suffering saints of God to the end of time.

2. The reward of the faithful will then be great. The wise, who perseveringly know and believe in Jesus to the saving of their souls; deep read in their own sinful state by nature, the sufficiency of the Redeemer's blood and infinite merit, and the divine operations of the Holy Spirit; these shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, perfectly holy, and happy, and glorious as their Lord; and they that turn many to righteousness, the ministers of the gospel, and others who laboured for this blessed purpose, to bring men to the knowledge of a Redeemer's sacrifice, intercession, and infinite merit, as the only ground of their acceptance with God, and to convert their souls to the love and practice of holiness, they shall shine as the stars for ever and ever, with undiminished lustre through the ages of eternity. A powerful engagement this, to those who are put in trust with the gospel, to labour with fidelity and zeal in the blessed cause, when every soul converted by their ministry shall add a jewel to their crown.

3. Daniel is commanded to seal the book even to the time of the end; either he was to keep the vision secret, or it would not be understood or regarded till the times of trial came, which were at a distance; or it intimates the darkness and obscurity of the book, till the accomplishment of the events should discover the meaning of the prophetic word. Many shall run to and fro, at the end of time, when the things here spoken of begin to be fulfilled, earnestly searching into this sealed book: and knowledge shall be increased; light will then be cast on the prophesies; so that the diligent inquirer shall be able to understand them more fully than they had ever been understood before. Note; (1.) They who would draw knowledge from the deep well of prophetic truth must diligently examine and compare spiritual things with spiritual, and in prayer fervently ask divine illumination. (2.) However dark and obscure any of the prophesies may now be, the time will come when they will be clear as if written with a sunbeam.

2nd, The mysterious things before spoken naturally excited in the prophet's mind the desire to know when the end of these things should be, and what would be the sign of their conclusion.

1. How long shall it be to the end of these wonders? This question is put by one of the angels who stood by the river, in the prophet's hearing, to the glorious personage who stood upon, or above, the waters of the river. Daniel, probably, feared to be too inquisitive; and though he wished to know, yet dared not ask. The answer is ushered in with great solemnity: the celestial personage, lifting up his hand to heaven, by a solemn oath for the confirmation of the faith of his servant (see Revelation 10:5-6.), declares, that the troubles will continue 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. This is to be applied to the reign and fall of Antichrist, the same numbers being used, Revelation 11:2-3; Rev 12:6-14 when the dispersion of the Jews shall end, and they shall be gathered out of all lands: which blessed event may the Lord hasten in his time!

2. What shall be the end of these things? Encouraged by the answer which had been given, but not understanding the meaning of what he heard, Daniel himself is emboldened to ask, what events would more distinctly mark the conclusion of these troubles? or, as the words may be rendered, what is the last of these things? Note; (1.) Through the darkness of their minds, the greatest saints are often at a loss in their inquiries, and humbly own their ignorance. (2.) We have one to apply to under all our doubts and difficulties, who is able to solve them. (3.) When we see the prevalence of iniquity, and the triumphs of the ungodly, we are ready in amaze to cry, What will be the end of these things? as if the cause of Christ was utterly overwhelmed; but it shall prevail at last over all opposition.

The answer given to the prophet's inquiry is very gracious: he shall know as much as he needs, and is bid to be content about the rest. Go thy way, Daniel; be satisfied with what thou hast heard, and prepare for eternity; for the words are closed up, and sealed till the time of the end; will continue till then more or less dark and obscure, when time would interpret the vision. Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried, by their afflictions, and come like silver from the furnace; but the wicked shall do wickedly; persisting in their impenitence, and given up to judicial blindness of heart. None of the wicked shall understand, neither the word nor the providences of God; but the wise shall understand both, and improve thereby. And, as to the immediate solution of the question, he gives him some dates by which it might be known: 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; which some refer to what Antiochus did, but is also to be referred to Antichrist; who, in opposition to the one sacrifice of Christ, has set up the merits of man, established the worship of saints and images, and other abominations. The length of this state of trouble is declared to be a thousand two hundred and ninety days, see Revelation 13:5. The days here added to the number there given are, as some think, the space allotted for the conversion of the Jews. Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days, at the end of which all the enemies of Christ and his people will, it is supposed, be utterly destroyed, and times of the greatest happiness and joy succeed. The period of these events indeed still remains a secret; but of this the people of God may be sure, that the end of all the sufferings of his church hastens apace; that we are called with patience to wait for the blessed day; and that our happiness will then be complete and everlasting.

The concluding answer is a word of comfort, particularly addressed to Daniel himself. Go thou thy way till the end be; prepare for death, and wait for the resurrection morn; for thou shalt rest, dying in the Lord, and delivered for ever from all the burthens of mortality; and stand in thy lot at the end of the days; raised to a glorious inheritance at the last, and put in possession of that eternal kingdom which God hath prepared for those who are faithful unto death. Note; (1.) While God continues us upon earth, our business is to be found in the work that he has given us to do, waiting for our dismission, and ever ready to receive it with joy. (2.) A child of God, like Noah's dove, must not expect his rest in this tempestuous world; but when his head rests upon a pillow of dust, then shall his soul find rest in the Saviour's bosom. (3.) Whatever our lot or portion may be in this world, we have an inheritance before us incorruptible, undefiled, which fadeth not away; the believing prospect of which will effectually support the faithful under all the trials of life, and carry them triumphant through all the terrors of death to everlasting glory. Even so, Amen; come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!

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Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Daniel 12". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tcc/daniel-12.html. 1801-1803.