We have digressed and traveled far afield from Daniel’s prophecy, so we now return to him. We will connect Daniel 12:1-4, not only with his interpretation of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams and the visions of the statue in chapter 2 but also with the time of Christ. We must keep in mind two things: first, the book of Daniel is a continuing narrative. Overall it is telling a story, not necessarily separate stories. Second, the Bible itself is telling a story, His story, History. It is always looking to Christ. That point alone can help in deciphering much of the eschatology. We are attempting to show that the story of Daniel fits the overall story of Scripture.
We have been looking at chapters 2, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10-11, and 12, and we can see that it is a continuum. Beginning with the king’s statue in chapter 2, we see him established as the first kingdom – the head of gold. We then see the handwriting on the wall in chapter 5, which tells us the next kingdom to come – Medo-Persia. The four beasts of chapter 7, which are four kings, is a similar depiction as the four kingdoms of chapter 2. We will come back to that later.
The ram and goat in chapter 8 are definitively identified as the kingdoms of Medo-Persia and Greece, respectively. And, as we spent considerable time studying the seventy weeks of chapter 9, they tell of what happened during the kingdom of Greece and what Antiochus Epiphanes did. In addition to that, they also actually told of what was to come with Messiah the Prince and what Rome did. Finally, we showed that chapters 10 and 11 were talking about the kingdoms of Persia and Greece. That has set the stage for the highlight of Daniel, which is chapter 12.
We have already discussed 12:1, particularly the middle part, but there is more. Beginning with the final clause of the verse, we see this, “ …and at that time, everyone who is found written in the book will be rescued “ (12:1c). Wow! What does the angel mean by rescued? Could he have meant – saved? Also, about which book is he talking? Could he be referring to the book of life? The Lamb’s book of life? Are they the same book?
Recall that in Luke 10:17-20, when Jesus sent out the seventy, they returned with joy for even the demons were subject to them in His name. The ending of His reply to them was for them to rejoice that their names were recorded in heaven. The apostle Paul, in his parting words to the church in Philippi, talks of his fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life (4:3). Revelation 21:27 says, only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life shall enter the new Jerusalem. It would be folly to believe that Jesus, Paul, and John are not talking of the same thing.
Conversely, this is what Scripture tells us of those whose names are NOT written in the book of life: Revelation 13:8 says those whose names are NOT written in the Lamb’s book of life from the foundation of the world will worship the beast from the sea. Moreover, Revelation 17:8 says those whose names are NOT written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will wonder when they see the beast upon whom the woman, the harlot of Revelation, rides (see The Harlot of Revelation and the Great Tribulation for a fuller discussion of this). Finally, Revelation 20:15 says those whose names are NOT written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will be thrown into the lake of fire.
In His Olivet Discourse, Jesus talked of a kingdom prepared from the foundation of the world (Matt 25:34). He said that when He comes, He will separate the sheep, which inherit the kingdom, from the goats, which do not. Now, according to Ephesians 1:4, God chose us in Christ since before the foundation of the world.
So the question is this – if God chose us who are in Christ, from before the foundation of the world – aren’t we the ones who are saved, or rescued, whom Daniel is talking about in 12:1? Furthermore, because of what Jesus did at the cross, taking our sin upon Himself and making atonement once for all for those whom God chose in Christ, it is we – and all before us who can make that claim – who are in the book. Therefore it is we who are the ones saved – rescued.
Continuing in Daniel 12, verse 2 says, “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.” This narrative is still at the “time of great distress” when “those whose names found written in the book of life will are saved” when we see those who sleep in the dust of the ground awake. That need not conjure up visions of cataclysmic end-of-the-world events.
Take heed of Matthew 27:51-53, when Jesus hung on that cross after suffering through His horrible crucifixion and finally breathed His last, 51 “And behold, the veil of the Temple tore in two from top to bottom, and the earth shook, and the rocks split. 52 The tombs opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep arose; 53 and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection, they entered the holy city and appeared to many.”
What are we to make of that? It surely was a cataclysmic event, but for the many who look to events still to come, they will not be satisfied and will attempt to explain away this convincing truth. However, we should always look to the Scriptures for satisfaction.
And now, the coup de grâce, if we may. Here is Daniel 12:3. It says: “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.”
There are two groups of people being talked about here, and they are both a part of those who arose to everlasting life. The first are those who have insight, and the second are those who lead the many to righteousness. Now, ask these questions: Who are those who have insight? Who are those who lead the many to righteousness? And who are the many?
Ephesians 4:11-12 says this, 11 “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.” Those whom the apostle Paul is talking about qualify for those about whom the angel is telling Daniel. They are the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, and those saints who have been and are being equipped for the work of service.
Since MANY bodies of the saints arose at the resurrection, it would be safe to assume that that group would include the Old Testament prophets and others to whom God had imputed righteousness (Romans 4:3). Also, since the resurrection addresses all who are in Christ it would be safe to assume that the apostles and other believers who followed Jesus in His earthly ministry and afterward would be included.
Many people are enamored with what the angel tells Daniel in 12:4 which says, “…conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time; many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase.” Hmm…the end of time – is that the end of time or the time of the end? And the end of what time? Remember, what a reader reads from their Bible is a translation of the Hebrew or Aramaic. This writer is using a copy of the Septuagint, which is a Greek translation of the original, and it could be “the end of time” or “the time of the end.” So, is it the end of the age, the literal end of all time, or something in-between – a different time? Who knows?
Knowledge will increase – what does that mean? Man’s knowledge? We should not think more highly of ourselves than we should but think to have sound-judgment (Romans 12:3). God’s knowledge. Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 2:6 says, “For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” There is so much more.
Finally, it is safe to say that we – the saints, the saved, the rescued – are also among them! It cannot possibly mean anybody else! For we, who were dead in trespass and sin, have been made alive in Christ, and have been seated with Him in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:1-6)! All these things were satisfied at the cross!
Have a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, or otherwise happy holidays; and have a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. We will be back on January 2, 2020.