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Bible Commentaries

F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary
Daniel 12

 

 

Verses 1-13

THERE WILL BE, however, other antagonistic powers beside the kings of north and south and the false Messiah-king in Jerusalem. All will be dealt with for 'at that time' as the opening verse of chapter 12 declares God is going to resume His dealings with Israel in His grace. Michael the archangel is specially commissioned to act on their behalf, and he stands up to deal with things, and two great events come to pass. First, there will be a complete deliverance to Daniel's people.

This time of great trouble is evidently the time our Lord referred to in His prophetic discourse as the 'great tribulation', (Matthew 24:21), after He had spoken of 'the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet'. In this He referred to verse Daniel 12:11 of Daniel 12:1-13, and not to verse 31 of Daniel 11:1-45, which though something of the same kind clearly refers to what took place under Antiochus Epiphanes. This verse in Daniel 12:1-13 is the first definite prophecy of this fearful time of tribulation which lies ahead.

And it is worthy of note that this first prediction clearly relates it to the Jew, as also does the Lord's prophecy, recorded in Matthew 24:1-51 and Mark 13:1-37. It will be the climax of God's governmental dealings with that people, who rejected and crucified their Messiah, though as Revelation 3:10 indicates, all the world will be affected by it, since the Gentiles as a secondary power had a hand in the death of Christ. In that tribulation there will be not only terrible evils, proceeding from both man and Satan, but the outpouring of the wrath of God, as revealed in Revelation 16:1-21. As Christians we have the assurance that, 'God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ' (1 Thessalonians 5:9).

Our scripture tells us that an elect Israel will be delivered out of the tribulation — 'every one that shall be found written in the book'; the book of life, as the New Testament speaks of it. The awakening that is predicted in verse Daniel 12:2, is evidently similar to that of which Ezekiel 37:1-28 speaks. Many a Jew will be asleep as regards their God, and buried in the dust of the nations. They will awake, some marked by faith to enter into the life everlasting of the millennial age; others still unbelieving to enter into judgment. It will be with them as it will be with Gentile peoples, as the Lord made known in Matthew 25:31-46.

It will also be, as verse Daniel 12:3 shows, a time of reward for the wise and diligent in the service of their God. Let us all take good note of this, for the principles on which God deals with His servants do not vary. There is reward for the 'wise', those who have a God-given understanding of His truth and ways, so as to instruct others also; and a reward also for those who are active in the winning of souls, so as to turn them into the way of righteousness. Thus what we may call the contemplative side of Christian life and the active side of service are to be equally balanced.

Verse Daniel 12:4 closes the prophetic communication that began with Daniel 11:1-45, and it corroborates the statement that from verse 36 onwards we have revealed things that will come to pass at 'the time of the end'. Though made known to Daniel and recorded by him, it was to be as a shut book till the end time was reached. During the last century or so these things have been much studied and the light of them has shone forth. This should confirm us in the thought that the end of the age is near.

And the closing words of this verse should confirm us even further: 'many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased'. Our age is strikingly marked by both these things. Our powers of locomotion have increased beyond the dreams of our forbears — on land and sea, and in the air. But it is all to and from. We fly thither, and then back we come to our starting point, and end where we began. The increase of knowledge also is prodigious, even alarming in the field of nuclear energy, as everybody knows. Knowledge — yes: but, wisdom — no. Man is just the same sinful creature as of old — deceived by the adversary.

When we consider the dealings of God, particularly in judgment, the question that always arises in our minds is — How long? That was the enquiry between these angelic beings — appearing as men — that had conveyed the prophecy to Daniel. The answer is given in verse Daniel 12:7, and it plainly shows that the question was how long to the end of the time of trouble once it had begun? The answer was, 'a time, times, and an half', which we understand to signify, 3: years; doubtless the second half of the seventieth week, indicated in Daniel 9:1-27. When that last week is finished all power will have departed from 'the holy people'; that is, the God-fearing remnant in Israel. They will be marked by an extremity of weakness, and the adversaries will have reached apparently the peak of their power and splendour. Then the sudden appearing of the Lord in glory and might: His poor saints delivered; the adversaries irretrievably crushed.

Thus it has ever been, and thus it will yet be: Israel in Egypt, for instance. When Jacob went into Egypt in the days of Joseph he and his children were an honoured people. The years passed and they fell lower and lower, until they were a crowd of slaves under the task-master's lash. Then God acted in judgment: His powerless people delivered: the powerful enemy completely overthrown. Thus it will be for Israel at the opening of the millennial age; and we do not anticipate it will be otherwise when the saints are raptured to glory, as predicted in 1 Thessalonians 4:1-18. They will not have reached such a state of spiritual opulence that the angels might be tempted to think that they deserved it, but the very reverse. It will be the crowning act, not of merit, but of mercy, as we see in Jude 1:21.

Daniel's question, in verse Daniel 12:8, finds an echo in all our hearts. It now concerns not the time of the end, but what is to be the final outcome of all this human wickedness and of the dealings of God? Daniel was a godly Jew of a representative sort, and to such at that time the real significance was 'closed up and sealed'. We are told in 1 Peter 1:12 how Old Testament prophets spoke of things, which they themselves did not understand, as in their day redemption had not been accomplished, nor had the Holy Spirit been given. What Daniel was to know was that God would still maintain a people for Himself, who would be purified and made white and 'tried', or, 'refined', by all His dealings, while the wicked would still pursue their evil way in darkness. Only the wise would have the capacity to understand. This solemn fact is stated very clearly in 1 Corinthians 2:14.

So Daniel had to go his way without any clear answer to his question. He was given, however, supplementary information as to the closing periods, for in verses Daniel 12:11-12 we have mentioned the two periods of 1290 and 1335 days. According to Jewish reckoning a year consisted of 360 days, and therefore the 'time, times, and a half', of verse Daniel 12:7, would consist of 1260 days, and the 1290 days would mean one month beyond that, just as the 1335 days would be a month and a half further beyond. What Daniel could know was that he who waited in patience to the expiration of the longest period, was to enter into blessing.

So here in one word there is an answer to the question of verse Daniel 12:8. Daniel might not know any details but he could be assured that blessing lay at the end for the people of God. We have the same assurance only we have it in larger measure and fuller detail. However searching are God's judgments upon man's evil, for the humble and patient there is always blessing at the end. Another fact lies embedded in these words. God acts, whether in judgment or in blessing in stages. He did so with Israel in Egypt. He did so again when the church was inaugurated. There was the forty days of His repeated manifestations in resurrection, followed by the ten days of waiting; and then the formation of the church by the shedding forth of the Holy Spirit.

So it will be in the last days, when the Kingdom of God arrives in manifested power, and the last word to Daniel is one of full assurance. Until it comes, rest is to be his portion, after a life of exceptional unrest and strain; and when it does come he has an appointed 'lot', in which he will stand — and we venture to think that his 'lot' will not be a small one.

And we too, each have our 'lot' at the end. As sharing in the place and portion of the church, we know how wonderful that will be. But, what about our 'lot' in the coming kingdom of our Lord? That will depend upon our faithfulness in service here. If in any measure our 'lot' in the kingdom is to be comparable with Daniel's, we must like him go through the present world in holy separation and devotedness to God.

 


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Bibliography Information
Hole, Frank Binford. "Commentary on Daniel 12:4". "F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fbh/daniel-12.html. 1947.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, October 14th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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