THE CLIMAX OF GOD’S PROGRAM FOR ISRAEL INVOLVES
– RESCUE FROM SEVERE TRIBULATION,
– RESURRECTION TO ETERNAL LIFE AND
– REWARD FOR FAITHFUL SERVICE
Stephen Miller: Verse 1 also relates the final deliverance of the saints, followed in vv. 2-3 with an account of their glorious condition in the messianic kingdom.
Norman Porteous: The first four verses of chapter 12 are the completion of the long section which began with chapter 10. They give in remarkably brief compass and restrained language the writer’s expectation of what the divinely appointed end would be like. It would be climax of which Israel would be the centre, as is shown by the fact that Michael, the patron angel of Israel, is to play the decisive part on God’s behalf. The great tribulation will come to a head but Israel will escape, all those in Israel, that is to say, whose names are written in the book of life (Ps. 69:29; Ex. 32:32; cf. the later passages Phil. 4:3; Rev. 3:5). God already knows His own.
John Walvoord: Added to the previous revelation are the important disclosures
(1) that the time of the end has a special relationship to “the children of thy people,” that is, Israel,
(2) that Israel will experience at that time a special deliverance to be realized by those in Israel who worship God, and
(3) that the doctrine of resurrection which climaxes the time of the end is the special hope of those who are martyred.
There is no precedent to this end-time trouble. Even liberal expositors find it impossible to harmonize Daniel 12:1 with the persecutions of Antiochus Epiphanes in the second century B.C. As Keil has observed,
…the contents of ver. 1 do not agree with the period of persecution under Antiochus. That which is said regarding the greatness of the persecution is much too strong for it… Though the oppression which Antiochus brought upon Israel may have been most severe, yet it could not be said of it without exaggeration, that it was such a tribulation as never had been from the beginning of the world. Antiochus, it is true, sought to outroot Judaism root and branch, but Pharaoh also wished to do the same by his command to destroy all the Hebrew male children at their birth; and as Antiochus wished to make the worship of the Grecian Zeus, so also Jezebel the worship of the Phoenician Hercules, in the place of the worship of Jehovah, the national religion in Israel.
I. (:1) RESCUE FROM SEVERE TRIBULATION
A. Supreme Defender of Israel = Michael
“Now at that time Michael,
the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise.”
Bethany Bible: The word “at” (the Hebrew preposition be) can be translated “in” or “during”–which would then indicate that the events that follow describe what is occurring while the Antichrist is still active–though very close to “his end” (11:45). It is during this time that Michael (the archangel described in 10:13 and 21 as “the prince” who ministers to the people of Israel) shall “stand up” or “shall arise” (`amad). This may mean that he arises to come to the aid of the people of Israel in a unique way. But the same word can also be translated “to stand still” or “to cease” (as in Josh. 10:28); thus suggesting that Michael ceases his unique work of protection for a time at the command of God, and allows the events of the Great Tribulation to unfold (an event possibly being described in 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7).
Note that Michael’s action is immediately followed by commencement of the Great Tribulation. The description of this event matches that of our Lord’s in Matthew 24:15-22–that is, a time “such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:21). It will, however, result in the Jewish people being “delivered, everyone who is found written in the book” (see Psalm 56:8; 69:28; Rev. 20:12, 15).
John MacArthur: What happens is Michael stands up to defend the people of God. He has a war in heaven and he wins the victory. Satan is no longer the prince of the power of the air, he is no longer in heavenly places. He is cast to the earth. The major battle is over. While he’s only got a short time here, he overruns the earth. He does everything he can to destroy the people of Israel. But they are protected for a time, times and half a time, for twelve hundred and sixty days, both indicating three and a-half years. They’re protected for that time. And when his army goes out to try to destroy them, the ground opens up and they’re all swallowed.
B. Unprecedented Tribulation for Israel
“And there will be a time of distress
such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time;”
Stephen Miller: Daniel was therefore predicting that at the end of the age there will be “a time of distress” unlike anything experienced in the history of the world. Michael will be needed to help deliver Israel during this trying period. Israel will also require the assistance of such a mighty angel because Antichrist will be energized by a powerful evil angel, Satan himself (cf. 2 Thess 2:9; Rev 13:2).
This “time of distress” is commonly labeled “the great tribulation” and will be the most horrible period in history for Israel and the whole world. According to Zech 13:8, only one-third of the people of Israel will survive. Not only will this period involve persecution for those who oppose Antichrist, but as Dan 11:40-45 has informed the reader, this will be a time of great wars climaxed by Armageddon.
Thomas Constable: This period generally will be a time of extreme distress for the Jews, worse than any other time in their national history (cf. Deuteronomy 4:30; Jeremiah 30:7; Matthew 24:21; Revelation 6-19). Showers argued that the Day of the Lord, the Time of Jacob’s Trouble, and the Great Tribulation are all terms that Scripture uses to describe a three and one-half year period of intense trouble yet future, namely, the last half of Daniel’s seventieth week. [Note: Showers, pp. 40-43.] I agree, though the term “the Day of the
Lord” refers to other times as well (i.e., the seven-year Tribulation, the Millennium, both periods together, and other times at which God breaks into history dramatically). The repetition of “your people” in this verse clearly identifies the Jews, not all believers. They will be the focus of intense persecution, though many non-Jews will also suffer, and Israel’s land will become an international battlefield (cf. Matthew 24:22).
C. Purged Israel Delivered
“and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book,
will be rescued.”
Andrew Hill: The figurative reference to “the book” is usually equated with “the book of life,” in which all the saints are enrolled (cf. Ex 32:33; Ps 69:28; Mal 3:16; Php 4:3; Rev 3:5; 20:12).
Thomas Constable: “The book” probably contains the names of all the Jews living in that region then who will experience physical deliverance (cf. Revelation 12:13-17). The figure of a book connotes a divine record, written beforehand, that is the basis for this rescue. There are several books that God keeps (Revelation 20:12; cf. Exodus 32:33; Psalms 69:28; Malachi 3:16; Luke 10:20; Revelation 20:15; et al.)
Dan Duncan: The idea of the book with names written in it comes from the ancient practice of keeping a record of all the citizens of a city. They’d be registered in an official book, and those who had citizenship, whose names were in the city register or in the book enjoyed the privileges and protection of that town or city. And that’s true of every saint; that’s true of every believer, everyone who’s name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. We are citizens of heaven and we are under the constant care of the government of heaven.
John MacArthur: Now listen. Who is the all Israel that will be saved? Well, in the end time, first during the testing period, the apostates and the rebels will be purged out. Only the remaining ones will be protected. Zechariah 13:8 says two-thirds will die. That leaves one-third purged as the remnant. That one-third purged then becomes the duly constituted nation, they are the all Israel, they are the Israel that’s promised redemption, the godly remnant. As Revelation chapter 12 in verse 17 tells us, they are the ones protected by God who affirm their relationship to Him. “And the dragon was angry with the woman and went to make war with the remnant of her seed.” What remnant? “Those who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” It is against them that the attack is made.
So, I really believe that when it says thy people shall be delivered, it does not make a blanket statement that every Jew alive on the earth is going to be saved at that time. What it is saying is that God is going to purge, He’s going to put them under the rod, He’s going to test them, two-thirds of them will die. One-third will be protected for they are the ones who obey the commandments of God and keep the testimony of Jesus Christ. . .
So, the deliverance is two-fold. It is a deliverance of personal salvation. But it happens on a wide enough scale and God protects those that are redeemed so that it becomes a national deliverance, as a duly constituted remnant of believing Jews become the all Israel that is saved. This, beloved, is Israel’s hope. The purging will someday be over. The nation will be saved and ushered into the long-awaited and long-promised Kingdom. Now that special deliverance leads to, fourthly, a special destiny.
II. (:2) RESURRECTION TO ETERNAL LIFE –
CONTRAST IN RESURRECTION DESTINY
A. One Dramatic Event Event
“And many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake,”
W. A. Criswell: Why does he use the word many? Why doesn’t he use word “all,” for he means all? But he uses the word “many.” There are two reasons for that word “many.”
• First, there are many that shall arise. That is in contrast to the few who shall be alive at the coming of the Lord. When the Lord comes, any day, any time, the living will be comparatively few in number. It is the dead who shall be the great, vast, multitudinous, innumerable throng—the “many” who are asleep in the earth, compared to the “few” who shall be alive to the coming of the Lord.
• And that word “many” refers to another thing. It is a partial resurrection, always. It is a fractional resurrection; that is, they are not all raised at the same time.
John Walvoord: What is presented here is that those who have died will be raised from the dead to join those living in this period of restoration. Israelites who survive the tribulation and who are the objects of the divine deliverance prophesied in Romans 11:26 will be joined by the Old Testament saints who are raised from the dead. This will occur after the great tribulation, at the second coming of Christ. Actually, there is no passage in Scripture which teaches that the Old Testament saints will be raised at the time the church is raptured, that is, before the final tribulation. It is preferable, therefore, to consider their resurrection as occurring at the same time as the restoration of the living nation with the result that resurrected Israel and those still in their natural bodies who are delivered at the second coming of Christ will join hands and ministries in establishing Israel in the land in the millennial kingdom which follows the second advent. Accordingly, the exegesis of this passage which interprets it as revealing an actual resurrection at the time of the second coming of Christ is preferable. At the same time, those who have died in the great tribulation just preceding will also be raised as taught in Revelation 20:4-6. . .
The problem arises, however, in that the passage states that the resurrection will extend to “some to shame and everlasting contempt.” Here, premillenarians appeal to the clear distinction provided in Revelation 20 which states, after revealing the resurrection of the righteous, “But the rest of the dead live not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection” (v. 5). The resurrection of the wicked, the second resurrection, is revealed in Revelation 20:12-13. If the resurrection of Revelation 20:5 and that of 20:12-13 are actual resurrections, fulfilling the prophecy of the resurrection of Daniel 12, it makes very clear that there will be more than one resurrection. The confident assertion of amillenarians such as Leupold that, “A dual resurrection is taught nowhere in the Scriptures” is a judgment which ignores obvious distinctions in the Bible.
B. Two Different Destinies
1. Resurrection to Everlasting Life
“these to everlasting life,”
2. Resurrection to Everlasting Disgrace and Contempt
“but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.”
Stephen Miller: Although the spirit of the believer does not sleep, the body is placed in a grave (“the dust of the earth”; cf. Gen 3:19) and becomes inactive (sleeps) until the Lord raises it, glorifies it, and reunites it with the spirit (cf. 1 Cor 15:51-55). Deceased unbelievers also will be resurrected and spend eternity in bodily form according to this verse (cf. Matt 10:28). The resurrection of the body is compared here to a person waking from sleep.
Two groups of resurrected persons with drastically different futures are represented in this verse (cf. John 5:28-29). Believers will rise to enjoy “everlasting life” in their new bodies and will reign with Christ (cf. Rev 20:4-6). . . On the other hand, unbelievers will face “shame” and “contempt.” The wicked will be ashamed and disgraced as they stand before the Lord and realize the gravity of their sin, particularly the sin of rejecting God’s loving Messiah. . . So shocking will be the fate of thel ost that onlookers must turn their faces in horror (or disgust). This “contempt” will be “everlasting,” that is, it will endure for eternity. . .
At first glance one might receive the false impression that the resurrection of the righteous and the wicked will occur simultaneously. Young argues that the passage implies a general resurrection, but this is impossible in light of other Scripture, particularly the parallel passage of Rev 20:4-6, which distinguishes the first resurrection of the saints who are raised immediately after the tribulation period (the same group described here) and the second resurrection of the wicked occurring a thousand years later. As is the case with other Old Testament prophecies (e.g., Zech 9:9-10), future events separated by any years are telescoped together with later revelation clarifying the time difference.
S. Lewis Johnson: Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake and these will awake to eternal life. But those, that is those who did not awake, who did not participate in that resurrection they will have their resurrection after the kingdom and they will awake to disgrace an everlasting contempt. So, this text that on the surface might appear to teach one general resurrection really teaches that believing Israelites are going to be resurrected at the beginning of the kingdom period, but those unbelieving ones are reserved for the great white throne judgment, which follows the kingdom of the Lord Jesus upon the earth.
III. (:3) REWARD FOR FAITHFUL SERVICE —
CAPACITY TO SHINE AS STARS – RADIATING THE GLORY OF GOD
“And those who have insight will shine brightly
like the brightness of the expanse of heaven,
and those who lead the many to righteousness,
like the stars forever and ever.”
Stephen Miller: Both parts of this verse contain parallel ideas.
Thomas Constable: The emphasis on hope for the Jews living during this time continues in this verse. Rewards will follow resurrection. Those Jews who have insight into the importance of remaining faithful to God, and who do so, will receive glory (cf. Daniel 11:33; Daniel 11:35). Those who lead others to do right will too. Their glory will be similar to the glory of the sky above, and to the stars (cf. Matthew 13:43). The angel expressed this blessing in a beautiful parallelism. Their glory will involve the privilege of reigning with Jesus Christ during His millennial kingdom, and from then on-forever (cf. Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:11-27; Revelation 20:4).
John MacArthur: I really believe what you have here is this, the concept that in eternity we will be rewarded by the capacity to manifest the blazing glory of God. There are little stars and there are big stars as we look in the sky, right? They’re all stars and they’re all beauty – beautiful, but all of them have a different beauty.
And I believe in eternity we will shine as stars. And I believe that the capacity to glorify God will be dependent upon our faithfulness. We’ll all shine like the brightness of the firmament. In other words, we will all have the capacity to eternally radiate the glory of God. We’ll all be blazing suns in eternity. But there’s a special glow for they that turn many to righteousness. They shall shine as the stars forever and ever.