GOD EXERCISES CONTROL OVER THE NATIONS UNTIL THE VERY END WHEN HE WILL SAVE AND PROSPER ISRAEL SO REMAIN FAITHFUL NOW IN ANTICIPATION OF FUTURE REWARD
Wayne Barber: There are six instructions that Daniel gets for the final days. Things that God wants him to be informed about, things that He wants him to do up until the time of the prophecy:
1. Daniel is to preserve his book for the people of the last days
2. Daniel is told the tribulation is necessary so that Israel might be saved
3. Daniel is to stop asking questions that don’t concern him
4. Daniel is not to worry about Israel
5. Everything God told Daniel has a timetable to it
6. Daniel was told to stay faithful to the end and he will be rewarded
Thomas Constable: Even though Daniel and his people did not understand this book’s prophecies as well as we do, simply because we have seen many of them fulfilled, these predictions did comfort them. They reassured them that Yahweh would ultimately deliver Israel from the hostile Gentiles, and thus fulfill His covenant promises.
John Walvoord: For Christians living in the age of grace and searching for understanding of these difficult days which may be bringing to a close God’s purpose in His church, the book of Daniel, as never before, casts a broad light upon contemporary events foreshadowing the consummation which may not be far distant. If God is reviving His people Israel politically, allowing the church to drift into indifference and apostasy, and permitting the nations to move toward centralization of political power, it may not be long before the time of the end will overtake the world. Many who look for the coming of the Lord anticipate their removal from the earth’s scene before the final days of the time of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
When the plan of God has run its full course, it will be evident then with even more clarity than at present that God has not allowed a word to fall to the ground. As Christ said while on earth, “Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Mt 5:18).
Steve Zeisler: Again, what we are given in Daniel is a clear outline of the future. I am convinced that it is foretelling and that it is miraculous. We are supposed to know that God is in charge of history, and we know enough about history, especially its end, to live with confidence, to pray with hope, and to not be fooled. But the book is deliberately written in such a way that it is somewhat disorienting, so that we will not find ourselves thinking we know everything there is to know about this. We are supposed to understand that we are in the presence of a God who is too big to contain. The essential response is worship. Both the liberals who would minimize the book of Daniel and the most conservative who would claim to understand every reference, miss the point because they end up too far from the worship of God.
I. (:4) INSTRUCTIONS TO PRESERVE THE VALUABLE MESSAGE OF THE BOOK
A. Message Needs to Be Preserved for the End Times
“But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book
until the end of time;”
Stephen Miller: As in 8:26 this admonition concerned the preservation of the document, not its being kept “secret” (NRSV).
In the ancient Near East the custom was to “seal” an important document by impressing upon it the identifying marks of the parties involved and the recording scribe. A sealed text was not to be tampered with or changed. Then the original document was duplicated and placed (“closed up”) in a safe place where it could be preserved. . .
Gabriel therefore was instructing Daniel to preserve “the words of the scroll,” not merely this final vision but the whole book for those who will live at “the time of the end” when the message will be needed. This future generation will undergo the horrors of the tribulation (“time of distress”) and will need the precious promises contained in the Book of Daniel – that God will be victorious over the kingdoms of this world and that the suffering will last for only a brief time – to sustain them.
Wayne Barber: What an incredible thing he’s telling him. “Daniel, you seal this up. This has not been a wasted experience. You haven’t had these visions for nothing. You weren’t told to write them down for nothing. They’re going to be useable some day. Daniel, seal them up, preserve them, all the way to the end times. To the last days, but particularly the end times, because people are going to want to know. They’re going to go here, they’re going to go there, they’re going to look over everywhere trying to find out what’s going to take place in the end times. Daniel, you have a piece of the puzzle. You preserve it, you take care of it; they’re going to need it in that day.”
B. Message Will Be Searched Out as Valuable to Increase Insight into End Times Events
“many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase.”
Stephen Miller: An increase in travel toward the end of the age is not the idea of the phrase “will go here and there.” In a number of Old Testament passages (e.g., 2 Chr 16:9; Jer 5:1; Amos 8:12; Zech 4:10), Hebrew yesotetu denotes “to go here and there” in search of a person or thing, and that is the meaning here. An “intense” searching seems indicated by the verb form. The purpose of this search will be “to increase knowledge.”
Yet Gabriel was not predicting a mere surge in scientific “knowledge,” and so forth, in the last days. The article appears with “knowledge” (lit., “the knowledge”), showing that a particular kind of “knowledge” was intended, that is, when and how Daniel’s message is to be fulfilled. As the time of fulfillment draws nearer, the “wise” will seek to comprehend these prophecies more precisely, and God will grant understanding (“knowledge”) to them.
Warren Wiersbe: Daniel 12:4 is not a reference to automobiles and jet planes or the advancement of education. It has reference to the study of God’s Word in the last days, especially the study of prophecy. Amos 8:11, 12 warns us that the day w
ill come when there will be a famine of God’s Word and people will run here and there seeking for truth but won’t find it. But God’s promise to Daniel is that, in the last days, His people can increase in their knowledge of prophetic Scripture as they apply themselves to the Word of God.
II. (:5-7) INSTRUCTIONS REGARDING THE DURATION OF THE “TIME OF DISTRESS”
A. (:5) Angelic Messengers – Witnesses to God’s Revelation
“Then I, Daniel, looked and behold, two others were standing,
one on this bank of the river, and the other on that bank of the river.”
Andrew Hill: Daniel’s final vision ends where it began, along the banks of the Tigris River (v. 5; cf. 10:4).
B. (:6a) Addressing the Supreme Revealer of Divine Truth
“And one said to the man dressed in linen,
who was above the waters of the river,”
Stephen Miller: At this point in the narrative “the man clothed in linen” (Christ) is reintroduced. He is described as standing in midair “above the waters of the river.” Daniel was witness to a striking scene. Two angels were on either bank of the river, the interpreting angel evidently was still standing before him, and the Lord was exalted above them all.
C. (:6b) Anxious Inquiry: How Long Will the Great Tribulation Last?
“How long will it be until the end of these wonders?”
Stephen Miller: The question is not, How long will it be before these things take place? But How long will they continue when they begin to occur? Such an understanding is confirmed by the reply given in the next verse. In 8:13 the exact Hebrew phrase translated “how long?” is also employed to describe the duration of a predicted crisis.
Sam Powell: How long?
• Longer than you think.
• But precisely determined by God. Not one day longer.
• It goes until the holy people are shattered.
• God delights to show his strength when there is no more hope in us.
• So we are called to patience and endurance.
D. (:7) Authoritative Response
1. Solemnity and Certainty of the Response
“And I heard the man dressed in linen,
who was above the waters of the river,
as he raised his right hand and his left toward heaven,
and swore by Him who lives forever”
John Walvoord: The fact that the one making the statement raises both hand indicates the solemnity of the oath. Ordinarily, only one had was raised (Gen 14:22; Deu 32:40).
Andrew Hill: The oath sworn by the man clothed in linen (v. 7) attests both the truthfulness of the testimony given and the certainty of the promise that all these things will be accomplished within the specified time period off three and a half years (v. 7c).
Peter Wallace: So the raising of the hands to heaven and swearing by the one who lives forever signals that this is really important and really certain! But in this case, the thing that is really important and really certain is also very unclear!!
2. Specific Time Duration of the Great Tribulation
“that it would be for a time, times, and half a time;”
Stephen Miller: During these three and one-half years, “the power of the holy people” will be “finally [probably better, “completely”] broken [or “shattered”].” The “holy people” in this context is a specific reference to Israel; therefore their “power” being “broken” signifies that the nation will be utterly defeated by their enemies. That the Jewish state will be attacked by many nations and crushed by them is taught elsewhere in Scripture (e.g., Zech 12-14). A breakdown in Israel’s resistance to God (and his Messiah) may also be implied here. When in desperate straits, the Jewish people will cry out to God for help, repent of their sins, and receive Jesus as their Messiah (cf. Zech 12:10-14). At that time the Lord will return to rule the earth, and the tribulation will end (“all these things will be completed”). Zechariah describes Israel’s deliverance (cf. 14:3-11).
Paul Carter: Now keep in mind, that the wonders in view here include overlapping realities – near history [Antiochus Epiphanes] and far history [ Antichrist and the Great Tribulation] – so this is a complicated question and it receives a complicated answer: “a time, times and half a time.”
Well to state the obvious, it would be difficult to enter that into your calendar. Tremper Longman again is helpful here, he says: “The intention is not to give a precise time period but rather to indicate that just as wickedness seems to be gaining momentum, it will be slowed and then stopped. Such cessation will happen at a time of great distress, since it will be at the moment when the power of the holy people has been finally broken. Deliverance comes at the most unlikely time.” Are you hearing that?
See, that’s the beauty of symbolic language – only symbolic language can speak about two separate realities under one set of numerical terms. That’s what this. Its heaven saying: “It will last as long as it lasts and the second duration will be analogous to the first.” And that’s useful because the tribulation under Antiochus IV Epiphanes lasted about 3.5 years. It was long – but it was not terribly long. And then when it had served its purpose – it was over fast. The leash was yanked, the idol fell and the reign of terror came to an abrupt and inglorious end. So shall it be IN THE FUTURE.
3. Sovereign Purpose Involves Humbling Israel – Breaking Her Self- Sufficiency
“and as soon as they finish shattering the power of the holy people,
all these events will be completed.”
Wayne Barber: In his answer in verse 7, he also gives the reason why the tribulation has to be there to begin with. He gives Daniel an answer that Daniel really hasn’t even asked about. Look what he says, he says, “a time, times, and half a time; and as soon as they finish shattering the power of the holy people, all these events will be completed.” You see, Israel’s power, Israel’s self-sufficiency, has got to be broken. Here is Daniel in chapter 10, way back, praying that God would turn away His wrath from His people. And God says, “Son, it’s not that easy. You don’t know how deep the root goes. You don’t even realize, Daniel, that the transgression of Israel will be to reject Jesus as their rightful King.” And if this is Jesus speaking to Daniel, then He’s telling him, “They’re going to have to receive Me and it’s going to take all this persecution, it’s going to take this tribulation to break them down. And once they’re humiliated, then they’ll look up and then they’ll realize that I am their King. And therefore then they will bow down and receive Me as their Messiah. So Daniel, why is going to be allowed? Because of the hard-heartedness of Israel. Because they are stubborn and they’re rebellious, I must break it down so that they then can be saved.”
Bob Deffinbaugh: Israel’s deliverance does not come about because God will make them strong, but rather because God will use wicked men to shatter the power of His holy people. Here again we come to a biblical principle which defies human logic but consistently underlies the way God deals with men.
The principle is this: God’s power and our deliverance come not through our strength but through our weakness.
III. (:8-13) INSTRUCTIONS REGARDING THE EVENTUAL OUTCOME – REWARD FOR THE RIGHTEOUS
A. (:8) Confusion of Daniel Regarding the Eventual Outcome
“As for me, I heard but could not understand; so I said,
‘My lord, what will be the outcome of these events?’”
Wayne Barber: Now he doesn’t mean how long will it be. He knows that; three and a half years. He doesn’t mean who will it be that will persecute the people. He knows that it’s the little horn, the Antichrist. He doesn’t mean why are you doing it. He already heard that; he understands it, because of the hard-heartedness of Israel. But he’s asking a different question. What will be the outcome? In other words, what he’s asking here and the phrase is so clear, the outcome means what will be the last few events of that three and a half year period of time that will cause Israel to be delivered from the Antichrist.
That’s one thing that was very vague in all of his visions. That was one thing that wasn’t answered that clearly. We do know the Antichrist will be destroyed and not by any man but God will destroy him. We know that. But he wanted to know what will be the final events of that three and a half year period of time that will cause Israel to be saved. He understands now that Israel is going to be alright, but how are they going to be alright. . .
“You stop asking these silly questions. The answer that you’re looking for you’re not going to get. It doesn’t concern you, so just cool it. And just trust me.”
Well, I want you to know the thing that comforted me in this is that I don’t have to know all the answers. When there is no apparent answer, it doesn’t mean that God doesn’t have one, it just means that right now, for where you are and where I am, He is the answer. Just trust Him. In the appointed time you’ll understand if you need to, but right now you don’t need to know.
B. (:9) Curiosity Must Submit to Divine Concealment
“And he said, ‘Go your way, Daniel,
for these words are concealed and sealed up until the end time.’”
Peter Wallace: Why are you so worried about your life? You already know the end of the story! Don’t be anxious, Daniel! Go your way. The words are shut up and sealed until the time of the end. The image here is that the word is certain – this is going to happen!
Stephen Miller: This is not a rebuke (additional information is provided in vv. 11-12) but simply indicates that the prophet should go on about his life and not be concerned about his lack of knowledge because the vision related to the far distant future.
Thomas Constable: “God in His infinite wisdom has revealed to us only that which it is needful for us to have in order that we may know what He requires of us. He does not reveal that which does not directly contribute toward this end. Scripture is not a body of esoteric mystery given to satisfy idle curiosity. It is given that we ’might not sin against Thee’ (Psalms 119:11 b). It is a thoroughly practical Book.” [Note: Young, pp. 260-61. Cf. 2 Timothy 3:16-17.]
C. (:10) Clarity Will Come to the Refined Righteous in the Last Days
“Many will be purged, purified and refined;
but the wicked will act wickedly, and none of the wicked will understand,
but those who have insight will understand.”
Stephen Miller: There seems to be little room here for the prospect held out by some that the world will turn to the Christian gospel and thereby bring in the kingdom of God upon the earth (postmillennialism). According to Daniel’s prophecies, wickedness will not decrease in the last days but will escalate to a grand scale under the Antichrist.
Andrew Hill: “The implication is that the suffering of the wise will not have been futile after all, for redemption will be extended to many – the many who will be led to righteousness (see 12:3)” (Seow, 194). . . Seow, 194, correctly observes that in the context “the wicked” refers to the “renegade Jews who abandoned the covenant” (cf. Wood, 326-27).
Wayne Barber: Are you sure that Israel will be alright. And basically what he says is, “Don’t you worry about Israel.” “Many will be purged, purified and refined.” Now the word “purged” there means cleansed. And the word “purified” means to be made white. And of course the word “refined” explains itself. And what he’s talking about is salvation. There’s going to be a salvation time for many of the Jews during that time.
Bob Deffinbaugh: While the wicked will blindly pursue the same course of sin, those who have insight will understand and see the hand of God divinely guiding the course of human history in such a way as to fulfill His purposes and promises.
Gordon Dickson: The Understanding of the Wise
In this passage, we can see 5 principles for understanding the wisdom of the wise. These principles give us guidance about the prophecies of coming events and the destinies of human being.
1. You can humbly admit that there are aspects of Biblical prophecy that even the wisest of men do not understand.
2. You can humbly admit that there are aspects of God’s final plans that have not yet been revealed.
3. You can zealously press on with life knowing that God will show you His sovereign will in His good time.
4. You can trust God’s purposes as you watch Him try and purify those whom He would make wise.
5. You can trust God’s purposes as you watch Him confirm the wicked in their wickedness.
D. (:11-12) Commitment to Endure to the End Will Be Key
1. (:11) Revelation of Additional 30 Days
“And from the time that the regular sacrifice is abolished,
and the abomination of desolation is set up,
there will be 1,290 days.”
Wayne Barber: The judgment of the nations is going to take place when Jesus comes back to this earth. I think what he’s saying is after 1,260 days, that’s when the man, the Antichrist, will be destroyed; not by his own hand but God will do it Himself. He won’t need any help to do it. But from that point, 1,260 days to the 1,290 days, will be the time in which on this earth will be the judgment of the nations and all that takes place in Matthew 25 covers a lot of that. That will be taking place in those 30 days. So we see 1,260 days ending the three and a half year period, the awful great Jacob’s distress. Then we see 30 more days up through the time that the judgment of the nations takes place.
2. (:12) Revelation of Additional 45 Days
“How blessed is he who keeps waiting and attains to the 1,335 days!”
Stephen Miller: Now an additional forty-five days has been appended to the 1,290 days, and those who endure to this time will experience great joy (“blessed”). Again the question is, What will happen at the end of this 1,335-day period? The tribulation is over; as a matter of fact, 1,335 would be seventy-five days after the tribulation ends. Once more dogmatism is not proper, but it has been reasonably suggested that this date is the official inauguration of the thousand-year reign of Christ on the earth. Wood thinks that the extra forty-five days are needed to set up the millennial government. Archer explains that these saints are called “blessed” because “they are about to become citizens of the most wonderful society governed by the most wonderful ruler in all human history – the millennial kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ!
Ron Daniel: What then is the final 45 days for? I can only imagine that it is the time that Jesus takes to establish His government on earth, appointing us to our positions of authority.
Remember that Jesus taught that our faithfulness to invest what God had entrusted us with, producing a return, was going to be rewarded with the statement,
Luke 19:17 …‘Well done, good slave, because you have been faithful in a very little thing, be in authority over ten cities.’
I believe that this is what will take up these 45 days. Now, I can’t point out where that is spelled out in Scripture specifically, but I find it interesting that the number 45 is mentioned in the Bible only twice.
The first time is in Genesis 18, when Abraham and God are talking about the number of righteous people in the city (Gen. 18:28).
The second is when Caleb is talking about the number of years that it took for him to possess the land promised to him (Josh. 14:10).
It seems to me that the supernatural, typological, mystical signposts are there to point us to this 45 days being the time that the righteous are appointed to their cities, finally receiving the land of inheritance which had been promised them.
So those who are blessed are those who survive the Great Tribulation, make it through the judgment of the nations, and are allowed to live in the Millennial Kingdom!
God has shown us in the book of Daniel that He is in control, that He has a plan, and that we are to work to be a part of His plan.
E. (:13) Concern of Daniel Must be Faithful Living Now in Anticipation of Future Reward
“But as for you, go your way to the end;
then you will enter into rest and rise again for your allotted portion
at the end of the age.”
Stephen Miller: “At the end of the days” refers to the end of this present age. The prophet was not to be concerned, for he would be resurrected and receive an “allotted inheritance” – a great reward and a part in the kingdom of God (predicted in Daniel’s own prophecies) that will someday come upon the earth and then continue into the eternal state.
Andrew Hill: As Longman, 287, notes, “by these words, God gives Daniel and all of his heirs the confidence to persist in the light of continuing persecution and trouble.” There is a sense in which the epilogue of Daniel anticipates the later teaching of Jesus: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33). Daniel can “go his way,” knowing that God’s rule will ultimately triumph (Da 2:44; 7:27) and that God’s people will be delivered – even those who do not live to see the final outcome, since they will experience resurrection from the dead (vv. 2-3)!
Wayne Barber: The thing that sticks with me through all of Daniel, I can wipe the sweat off my brow: God’s in control. God is in control. And I’d best be faithful because He’s not going to change, He’s going to remain the same. And one day I want the reward that God has for me.