Back in chapter 10, while Daniel is standing on the banks of the Tigris River, he receives an incredible vision of a “certain man” we know to be Jesus. Following this vision, an angel sent by God then appears to him — keep in mind Daniel is in his late-80’s — in order to reveal what would happen to the Jewish people “in the latter days.” This amazing prophecy that begins in Daniel 11:2 continues all the way through the end of the book.
Daniel 12:1a, “At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time.”
It’s often helpful to remember the Book of Daniel did not come with chapter and verse breaks — they were added much later. The way chapter 12 begins — “at that time” — places what’s about to be recorded in this chapter happening in direct relation to the Antichrist’s “abomination of desolation” where he enters the Temple declaring himself to be God, his final movements initiating the final Battle of Armageddon, as well as his swift demise — which was recorded for us at the close of chapter 11.
During this time period, which we understand from the 70-Weeks Prophecy to be 3½ years, verse one is clear, “There shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation.” Following the Abomination of Desolation, the Book of Revelation tells us this “time of trouble” really kicks into high gear when the Antichrist demands everyone to pledge their allegiance to him by taking the “mark of the beast” on either their right hand or forehead.
Appalled by this development as well as the desecration of the Temple, the Jewish people collectively reject this man, repent of their sins, and accept Jesus as their Messiah. In Romans 11 Paul writes about this moment, “For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: ‘The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.’”
According to Jesus’ teachings on the subject in the Olivet Discourse recorded in Matthew 24, in response to Israel’s rejection of the Antichrist coupled with their acceptance of Him as their Messiah, the world experiences a “Great Tribulation” unlike anything that has ever come before. The prophet Jeremiah refers to this period as “the time of Jacob’s trouble.”
Satanically driven, the Antichrist launches a systematic plan to annihilate every Jew and follower of Jesus from the face of the earth. It’s a holocaust on steroids. Revelation 13:15-17, “He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed. He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.”
According to Revelation 20, the punishment for “not worshipping the beast, his image, or receiving the mark” deciding to instead remain a “witness to Jesus and for the Word of God” will be “beheading!” In this tribulation climate following Jesus will not get you ahead in any way! No doubt an innumerable amount of believers will be martyred.
With this in mind, I want to address the skeptic who’s presently waiting for the fulfillment of future prophecy before placing their trust in Jesus. I know that sounds odd, but I’ve run across these folks. “Zach, if the Rapture of the Church happens, I’ll know what you’ve been saying is true and I’ll accept Jesus as my Savior.” Friend, I really hope that’s true!
The challenging reality is that following Jesus during the Tribulational Period — while indeed possible, will be incredibly difficult. Without the mark, you will have no access to the public square or market, no ability to earn a living and provide for your family. You will be forced to live in the shadows. Additionally, because of your decision to follow Jesus, you will also be classified as a criminal of the state who, if arrested, will face the guillotine. The truth is if you can’t live for Jesus today why do you think you’ll be willing to die for Him then?
Regarding those living in Israel when this Great Tribulation begins, in Revelation 12:6 we read, “Then the woman (Israel) fled into the wilderness (following the Abomination of Desolation), where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there 1260 days (3½ years).” Though most of the Jewish people will be caught up in the vengeance and wrath of the Antichrist, there will be a group who are able to flee Judea to this “place prepared by God” — likely the rock city of Petra located in “the wilderness” of Jordan.
And it’s while all of these things are happening, Daniel 12 opens, “At that time Michael shall stand up!” First mentioned back in chapter 10 at the onset of this revelation, we noted how “Michael” was different than the rest of the angelic hosts. Not only is he the only angel given the specific classification of “Archangel,” but Michael appears to be a warrior instructed by God to “watch over” and protect the Hebrew people. He’s a boss!
According to the Scriptures, on three occasions Michael the Archangel confronts Satan and engages in a direct altercation with him. First, as the Hebrew people prepare to enter the Promised Land following the death of Moses, Jude 1:9 tells us, “Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’”
Secondly, in this midst of the Tribulational Period, we read (Revelation 12:7-9), “And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”
Finally, once the Antichrist has been defeated, Michael has one final conflict with Satan. In Revelation 20:1-3 John writes, “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished.”
It would seem during this Great Tribulation and in light of the severe persecution taking place of Jews, Michael will be working overtime. Yes, many will be martyred, but still, others will find themselves being protected in supernatural ways and through angelic interventions.
In fact, it may very well be those who are able to flee to Petra (city of refuge) end up being protected from the furry of the Antichrist because Michael will be standing “watch over” them.
Daniel 12:1b-2, “And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.”
According to this passage, we know the eternal destiny of every human being will fit into only one of two different categories. Following death, you’ll either “awake” to “everlasting life” or “to shame and everlasting contempt.” My friend, there are no other options.
For those who’ve accepted Jesus as their Savior and His death on the cross sufficient to satisfy the penalty of their sin, they will experience life with God for the rest of eternity. And yet, for those who die rejecting Jesus and His work on the cross — choosing to remain in their sinful state, they will spend all of eternity separated from God in both the condition of “shame” and in a place of “everlasting contempt.”
There are those who’ll argue the very notion of hell being a place of eternal damnation and punishment is contradictory to the fact the Bible says, “God is love.” “How can a God of love condemn someone to hell for all of eternity,” they’ll contend. Fundamentally, there are two core problems with such an assertion. First, God sends to hell no one who hasn’t chosen to go there. Secondly, how could He be loving if He forced you to love Him?
You see the demonstration of true love demands in the other party the ability to choose not to reciprocate that love. I know Jessica truly loves me because I know she could decide at any moment not too! Free will and the freedom to reject love is paramount for love to exist.
With that in mind, how loving would it be for someone to reject God’s love their entire life only for God to then force them to live with Him for all of eternity? In such a dynamic, heaven would actually be hell! In many ways, hell is not a contradiction of God’s love for you, but the ultimate manifestation of a loving God willingly allowing you to reject Him!
Understand, God forces Himself and His love onto no one who resists Him. As Norman Geisler once wrote, “God is not a spiritual rapist!” In contrast, He’s a Divine Gentleman! The word “shame” used to describe such a person is interesting because it can literally be translated as disgrace. Friend, the only people who will live out their eternal existence in a place of “everlasting contempt” are those who’ve dissed the grace of God.
Instead, according to Romans 5:8, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!” You see “God loved you” so much that “He gave His only begotten Son” to die for your sin so that you “might have everlasting life.” All that He asks is that you respond to His love by placing your faith in His Son Jesus.
In his classic, The Great Divorce — which is about a group who take a bus ride from hell to visit heaven — author C.S. Lewis writes, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice, there could be no Hell.”
In Revelation 20:11-15, John describes the end for those who reject the love of God in Jesus, “I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”
Following the Second Coming of Jesus and the Battle of Armageddon, several things happen: First, the Antichrist, a man known as the False Prophet, and likely the fallen angels and demons are all thrown into the Lake of Fire. Second, we’re told Satan is taken captive by Michael and cast into the bottomless pit where he’ll remain in chains for 1000 years.
Third, after crushing his enemies, Jesus will then establish His Kingdom on this earth with the capital city being Jerusalem. In fact, the Bible says in multiple places (2 Timothy 2:12, Revelation 5:10, and 1 Corinthians 6:1-3 to name a few) it will be the saints of God — which includes you and me — who will rule and reign with Jesus during these 1000 years.
Of this period of human history, in Zechariah 14, we read, “In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west, making a very large valley; half of the mountain shall move toward the north and half of it toward the south… And in that day it shall be that living waters shall flow from Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea and half of them toward the western sea… And the LORD shall be King over all the earth.”
Fourth, along with the establishment of His Kingdom on this earth, Jesus will also usher in a total restoration of our planet — a planet that had been brought to the point of complete ruin through God’s judgments over the last seven years. Don’t forget of this Great Tribulation Jesus said in Matthew 24:22, “Unless those days were shortened no flesh would be saved.”
It’s amazing to think about, but this broken world will be healed by Jesus! In Romans 8:21-22, Paul says, “Creation itself will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.” This earth is literally “groaning” for its Maker! There will be no pollution, no viruses, clean air, and water — a Utopia!
Aside from this planet being healed, we also know things will return to their pre-fallen order. In Isaiah 11:6-8 the prophet declares, “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play by the cobra's hole, and the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper's den.” All injustices will cease. War will end. Racism eliminated. No one will be rioting in the streets.
Finally, with evil judged, Satan banished, a planet restored, a Kingdom established, the King enthrone, and the saints charged with ruling and reigning with Him, the question now logically centers on who exactly populates this earth? For starters, we know who won’t! All those on the earth who swore allegiance to the Antichrist by taking the mark of the beast will be destroyed and their souls sent to Hades to await the Great White Throne judgment.
That said, we know there will be a large group of people on this earth who refused the mark and survive to see the Second Coming of Jesus. According to Revelation 7, we know there will be 144,000 Hebrews or 12,000 from each “of the twelve tribes of Israel” who are “sealed on their foreheads” as “the servants of God” during these seven years. Because of their special designation, the Antichrist will be powerless to destroy them.
We also know everyone who made it to the cities of refuge will survive. Beyond this, according to Mark 13:27, there will be Christians who’ll survive all over the world. Following the Great Tribulation, we’re told, “Jesus sends His angels to gather His elect” to Jerusalem “from the four winds, from the farthest part of earth to the farthest part of heaven.”
Biblically, there is no question humanity will continue to live on following the Battle of Armageddon. As just one example of this, in Zechariah 14:16, we read, “And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.”
It seems anyone who stood for Christ during the Tribulation and survived will live on into what’s known as the Millennial Reign of Christ. Furthermore, because the planet will have been restored to its Edenic origins, human life expectancies will return to the way they were pre-Flood. According to Isaiah 65:20, “The child shall die 100 years old.” As strange as it is to consider, for the 1000 years Jesus reigns on this earth, life will continue on… Nations exist… Innovations continue… People will marry and children will be born.
With this in mind… Daniel 12:3, “Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever.” In this Tribulational period, humanity will be given one final opportunity to either accept Jesus or reject Him. The difference between now and then is the line of demarcation will be unavoidable. You will either worship the Antichrist or Jesus. You will have to choose.
I should add when it comes to eternity there are really only two things you can take with you — which should influence your priorities. You’ll have your memories and you can take with you your friends — if they know Jesus. To ‘those who turn many to righteousness” they shall be “like the stars forever and ever.” Your legacy will be those you influence for Christ!
Daniel 12:4, “But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; (describing that time) many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.”
This command for “Daniel to shut up the words and seal the book until the time of the end” presents really two fascinating ideas. Not only does this indicate the prophecy was complete with nothing more to add — which explains why Daniel could “shut up the words and seal the book,” but it seems the closer we get to “the time of the end” the more interest people would have in these things and understandable these prophecies would become.
In fact, the second half of this verse describes for us the environment whereby the prophecies themselves would become more relevant and self-evident. Regarding “the time of the end” we’re told, “many shall run to and fro and knowledge shall increase.”
The idea of “running to and fro” suggests there will be a greater investigative interest in learning about the End Times the closer humanity gets to the events themselves. It’s worth noting, beginning in the 19th century, the church has been more interested in eschatology than ever before! Then on account of this expanding curiosity, because we’re closer to the events, it’s only logical our “knowledge” of Daniel’s prophecies would naturally “increase.”
For example… Prior to May 14, 1948 much of the Book of Daniel was misunderstood by theologians because the Nation of Israel hadn’t existed for 1878 years. In fact, most scholars held to a Replacement Theology as a result — the church replacing Israel. And yet, following WW2 and the brutalities of the Nazis towards the Jews, Israel was granted independence and the prophecies of Daniel instantly took on an entirely new context.
Daniel 12:5, “Then I, Daniel, looked; and there stood two others, one on this riverbank and the other on that riverbank.” Getting back to the original scene established in chapter 10 before we diverged into this prophecy… Daniel has been standing on the shore of the Tigris River listening to the revelation provided by this angel. Now that the prophetic word has come to an end, Daniel notices two other angels on each bank of the river.
Daniel 12:6, “And one said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, ‘How long shall the fulfillment of these wonders be?’” Not only do we have two angles standing on each side of the Tigris, but Jesus — the “certain man clothed in linen” is still present hovering “above the waters of the river.” In light of all Daniel had seen, one of these angels asks Jesus, “How long” until these things would be “fulfilled?”
Daniel 12:7, “Then I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand to heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever, that it shall be for a time, times, and half a time; and when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered, all these things shall be finished.”
Concerning the fulfillment of these things, Jesus once again affirms the timeline of “a time (1 year), times (plus two years), and half a time (plus ½ a year)” totaling 3½ years. In line with what Jesus said in Matthew 24, we know from the “Abomination of Desolation” there would be 1260 days until His Second Coming when “all these things shall be finished.”
Daniel adds… Daniel 12:8-12, “Although I heard, I did not understand. Then I said, ‘My lord, what shall be the end of these things?’ And he said, ‘Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. (This indicates a time will come in the future whereby the prophecies will need to be unsealed — Seal Judgments.)
Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, 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 is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be 1290 days. Blessed is he who waits, and comes to the 1335 days.”
There is no question this statement, “From the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be 1290 days” is fascinating because it seems to be referring to some other noteworthy event that would take place 30 days after the Second Coming of Jesus — which was 1260 days from the Abomination.
Aside from this, Daniel is also told 75 days after the Second Coming or 1335 days from the Abomination of Desolation a third significant event will occur on earth as well. In fact, of this final event, Daniel is told, “Blessed is he who waits and comes to the 1335 days.”
Right from the jump, no one is 100% sure what happens 1290 days or 1335 days after the Abomination of Desolation. Here’s my best guess… According to Matthew 25:31-32 Jesus tells us, “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.”
I believe following Jesus’ Second Coming it will take 30 days to allow the smoke to settle. The world was at a breaking point and it takes Jesus a month to restore order and clean up the mess. Naturally, this would include restoring the earth, healing the seas, as well as rounding up and bringing all the survivors to Jerusalem. On day 1290 this is completed.
Then, with everyone now gathered to Jerusalem and the earth back in good health, the next 45 days would see Jesus’ reordering the nations and forming His government. In the end, 1335 days from the Abomination and just 75 days after Jesus’ Second Coming, His Kingdom will be established and the Millennial Reign will begin for the next 1000 years.
Finishing out the Book of Daniel… Daniel 12:13, “But you (Daniel), go your way till the end; for you shall rest, and will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days.”
Daniel was a teenager when he was taken captive from his home, transported some 750 miles to Babylon, and forced to serve in the courts of King Nebuchadnezzar. Right from the beginning, he rightly understood his plight had not been an accident. Daniel knew he was experiencing the judgment of God on account of Israel’s continued rebellion, sin, and wickedness. Jeremiah the Prophet had been warning this judgment was coming.
Friend, there is no question God has a life for all of us — a Land of Promise to enjoy and thrive within. And yet, it’s equally true our sin can rob us of these things if allowed to fester. While God’s judgment of His people is always slow-coming and tends to be a matter of last resort because He loves us He will not sit idly by and allow our sin to continue for long.
Like we see with Israel of old, God’s Word will testify. His Spirit will caution. He will even send prophets into our lives to warn us what will happen if we continue down on our current path. Again, God’s plan is for you and me to abide in Promise, not be a slave in Babylon.
But… If we refuse to listen remaining steadfast in our rebellion, the day will come when God’s patience expires and He says, “Enough’s enough!” And it’s when this happens, in a moment, the life we knew will cease. Consequences will be measured out. Our normal changes. God removes us from the land by sending us into a place of exile.
As anyone who’s experienced such a season of correction can affirm… When this happens you know you blew it! You know you deserve what’s taking place. You know you screwed up. Being exiled is just and it’s only natural to then wonder if you’ve irreparably ruined things? If God is done with you? If you still have a future? If God can still use your life?
This is where this book is so encouraging for — in response to Daniel’s acceptance and repentance of his own sin and culpability — we see an incredible measure of grace being extended to Daniel in exile. In fact, we see God’s grace manifest in five amazing ways — five ways God’s grace can manifest in your life if you all it too.
(1) While in exile, Daniel was able to influence other exiles. Back in chapter 1, in the face of unbelievable pressure and potential consequence, Daniel made the decision to “refuse to eat the king’s delicacies.” It was a line he drew in the sand that demonstrated a return to his covenant relationship with God. While in Babylon, he would not be of Babylon!
Though we aren’t given the particulars, it’s evident Daniel’s decision made an impact on three other men who’d also been taken into exile: “Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.” Not only do these Three Amigo’s (“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego”) rise to incredible positions of power alongside Daniel, but chapter 3 recorded how they refused to worship the statue set up by Nebuchadnezzar choosing instead to be thrown into the fiery furnace.
You see Daniel’s stand in exile had been contagious and if not for his Godly influence in their lives, these three men and their testimony would have never been recorded in the annuals of history. It’s simply a truth those who’ve experienced the judgment of God possess a unique ability to encourage others experiencing a similar judgment!
(2) While in exile, Daniel proved to be an incredible witness to the lost. For 70 years Daniel faithfully served the kings placed over him — unless in doing so he was being asked to violate his conscious before God. In those situations, Daniel refused to obey, accepting the consequences, even if it meant being cast alive into a den of hungry lions!
Because of Daniel’s Godly character and conviction, there is no question he came to be a light in the darkness! Daniel was there to help Nebuchadnezzar understand the Word of God. When Neb later lost his mind via God’s judgment, Daniel lovingly cared for his friend. Years later Daniel would interpret God’s writing on the wall giving Belshazzar a final chance to repent. In fact, because of his witness, Nebuchadnezzar, Darius, and Cyrus would all issue official declarations affirming the God of Israel as being the one true God.
(3) While in exile, Daniel made a lasting impact on his world. One of the more amazing aspects of Daniel’s life was his quick rise to profound places of influence. By the “third year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign,” Daniel found himself placed over the entire province of Babylon being made the chief overseer of the magi. Even when the Babylonians gave way to the Medes and Persians, Daniel’s value was so evident his position in the kingdom remained.
As noted in an earlier study, I believe Daniel was able to parlay his position to save Jeremiah the prophet during the final siege of Jerusalem, preserve the Old Testament manuscripts from destruction, and influence Cyrus’ decision allowing the Jews to rebuild the Temple.
(4) While in exile, Daniel gained a unique understanding of God’s Word. Imagine what our comprehension of prophecy would be — and specifically, prophecy related to the End Time and Israel — apart from the Book of Daniel? Amazingly, what motivated so much of the revelation Daniel received stemmed from his own study of God’s Word.
In response to the natural questions that arose from his examination of the Book of Jeremiah, Daniel was given the 70-Weeks Prophecy in addition to the prophecy recorded in chapters 10, 11, and 12. God’s grace in exile allowed Daniel to gain an insight into the Word of God and the future that is still impacting the people of God some 2600 years later.
(Finally) While in exile, Daniel came to see Jesus in a radical way. Practically, in chapter 10 Daniel was given an incredible vision of the glorified Jesus that left him in awe and wonder. Prophetically, he was able to see Jesus, not only as the suffering servant “cut off” by those He came to save, but the triumphal King who’d establish an everlasting kingdom.
Daniel was able to see the life and ministry of Jesus with such a particular clarity I believe the “wise men who came from the East” on account of a particular “star they had seen” in order to bring a newborn “King of the Jews” gifts of “gold, frankincense, and myrrh” was on account of the specific calculations of Daniel “chief of the wise men” 600 years earlier.
This morning if you find yourself in exile take heart. God is not done with you! As we see with Daniel the way you handle your experience can influence those experiencing a similar fate. Aside from this, your character can be a witness to the world around you and your convictions can leave a lasting impact. Furthermore, the greater our experience of God’s grace the deeper our understanding of His Word, and the more radicle we come to see Jesus. If you’re an exile, God is not done with you. In fact, He may be just getting started.
Soon after the close of chapter 12 the Prophet Daniel would find himself finally returning from his exile home to the Land of Promise. Daniel’s race took him down a difficult path, but it ended in glory! History tells us Daniel dies in Babylon, but our final verse indicates he immediately woke to an “inheritance” in the Promised Land of heaven!
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