We now turn our attention to chapter 12. The beginning of this chapter is still a continuation of the words of the angel who has been speaking in chapter 11. Once again we have a poorly timed chapter break, since this is still the same discussion that was taking place in Daniel 11. Recall that the angel is revealing to Daniel the things that are inscribed in the Book of Truth ( 10:21 ). In chapter 11 and verse 2, the angel begins to reveal some of the things found in the Book of Truth. Chapter 11 reveals that there would be war between Greece and Persia , and Greece would overcome. After Alexander the Great (the mighty king) the kingdom would be divided into four smaller, weaker kingdoms. Two of those kingdoms, the Ptolemies and the Seleucids would war back and forth, affecting the Jewish people. One of the rulers of the Seleucids, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, would cause great havoc and persecution to the Jews. He is the despicable, vile person of 11:21 . However, neither the Seleucids nor the Ptolemies would continue in their rule. Another empire will rise that will speak blasphemies against God and exalt themselves higher than God ( 11:36 ). When we compare this description to what we read in Revelation 13 and 17, we see that this is the Roman empire . The Roman empire was introduced to us in 11:30 and they would have great power controlling most of the known world at that time ( 11:40 -45 ). This explanation fits in with the words of the angel in Daniel 10:14 that the events were concerning the Jewish people and would occur in the latter days. With this as a refreshing of our memories of chapter 11, let us continue to read the words of the angel in chapter 12.
The Rest of the Angel’s Message (12:1-4)
Verse 1–A time of distress
“Now at that time.” We must immediately ask ourselves the question, “What time is being referred to here?” Daniel 11:36-45 has been describing the events and powers of the emperors of the Roman empire . Therefore, since the angel has been speaking in a chronological fashion to Daniel, “at that time” must refer to the time of the Roman empire . During the time of the Roman empire , the angel reveals that “Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people will arise.” On the surface, we would not understand what this means for Michael to arise. But the rest of the verse tells us what this means to the Jewish people. The rest of the verse says, “And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time.” The NKJV calls this “a time of trouble.”
This event would be significant since the angel says that it would be a time of distress that had never been seen before by a nation. Jesus used the same language in Matthew 24:21, “For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.” In this passage, Jesus speaks of the same event, for He says it was something that had not occurred since the beginning of the world, nor ever will. Whatever Jesus was talking about is the same thing the angel is revealing to Daniel. Jesus, living in the latter days of the Jewish nation, during the days of the Roman empire spoke about the destruction of Jerusalem . Matthew 24:1-2 sets the context that Jesus is describing the signs that one stone will not be left upon another in the Roman destruction of Jerusalem . Luke 21 is a parallel passage that says, “when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near” (vs. 20). For a fuller discussion of this subject, see the lesson Understanding Matthew 24.
Premillennialists will have you believe that this great tribulation that Jesus and Daniel spoke about has not yet happened and will occur against all mankind. However, remember the angel told us in 10:14 that these things were against the Jews. This validates what Jesus said in referencing the destruction of the temple and the city of Jerusalem in Matthew 24 and Luke 21. Further, as we have shown many times in our study of Daniel, the phrases the “last days,” “latter days,” “time of the end,” and “end of the age” are all references to the end of the Jewish age and end of the Jewish system and covenant.
“And at that time, your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued.” Again, we must notice the group of people this event is concerning: “your people,” which to Daniel would be the Jews. The Jews that listen to the warning that Daniel is writing down would be rescued. More clearly, those who would listen to the words of Jesus concerning this destruction and follow the directions Jesus gave in Luke 21:20-24 and Matthew 24:21-28 would be rescued from this tribulation. Those who obeyed Jesus would not be in the city when the Romans attacked. However, as Josephus records, those who did not quickly escape would be shut up in the city as it would prepare for war. Josephus records that more than 1 million Jews were killed in the Roman siege of Jerusalem and more taken captive. This book is similar to what we read in Malachi 3:16-4:2. In Malachi the book is called the book of remembrance. Those written in the book were the ones who feared the Lord. So it also is here in Daniel. Those who would obey the words of the Lord would be rescued from the great tribulation.
Verse 2–Spiritual resurrection
During this time of tribulation and distress, we read, “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, some to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.” Here we are reading about a resurrection that will take place during this time of tribulation. Is this a physical resurrection of dead bodies? While the language may sound as such, we must remember that we are dealing with apocalyptic language of judgment in this message from the angel. This statement to Daniel by the angel has a parallel to Ezekiel’s vision of dry bones in Ezekiel 37:1-14. In Ezekiel, the prophecy is regarding the spiritual resurrection and renewal of the nation. During the days of Ezekiel, the Jewish nation was in captivity, but would rise again. Here in Daniel we need to see that we are also reading about a spiritual resurrection and renewal to those who will hear the voice of the Lord. This cannot refer to the physical resurrection at the end of time, for we know that all will be raised to be judged by the Lord (John 5:28 -29 ). But Daniel 12:2 tells us that “many” will rise, not all. Therefore, during this persecution and destruction from the Romans, many of the Jews will reawaken their hearts to the Lord and truly turn and live for the Lord. However, others would not do so and would bring about everlasting contempt upon themselves for rejecting the Lord’s words.
This life that is being offered here in Daniel seems to be the same that Jesus offered in John 5:25-26. In this passage Jesus speaks about a coming judgment. While verses 28-29 seem to talk about the final resurrection and judgment of the Lord, verses 25-27 clearly talk about an imminent judgment. Verse 25 says that the hour is coming and now is. Something was on the brink of coming, which is what we are reading here in Daniel, the judgment of the Jewish nation through the power of the Romans. Those who would hear Jesus would have life, not only from the destruction, but more importantly, eternal life for obeying and submitting to Jesus Christ.
Verse 3–the wise will find life
Verse 3 tells us that those who would understand these things would find life through deliverance from the Messiah. The wise will have insight, understand these things, recognize the Messiah, and find life. To survive the times that were coming would require understanding and insight. This is what we read Jesus saying in Matthew 24:10-15. There would be many false prophets that would arise at this time (Mt 24:11) and many would be betraying one another (Mt 24:10). Jesus goes on to say in verse 15, “Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet standing in the holy place (whoever reads, let him understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.” Here Jesus reminds the readers of the words of Daniel and the need for insight and understanding concerning the Roman invasion of Jerusalem and other cities in Judea .
Verse 4–seal up the words
This is the end of the message of the book of truth that the angel was to reveal to Daniel. The angel now instructs Daniel to shut up the words and seal the book until the time of the end. Both the words “shut up” and “seal” carry with them similar meanings that these things were to be hidden until a later time. The words were shut up and the book sealed so that no more information could be revealed at this time. The angel was not to give any more understanding about these matters until “the time of the end.”
When is “the time of the end?” It sounds like we are talking about the end of time. However, that does not fit the chronology of the events that we have been reading about. The events that were revealed to Daniel in chapter 11 and the beginning of chapter 12 concerned the dividing of the Grecian empire, the warring Ptolemies and Seleucids in Palestine , and the coming to power of the Roman empire . Further, in Daniel 8:17 , 11:35 , and 11:40 we have seen the phrase used “time of the end.” In none of those cases has “time of the end” referred to events at the end of time. They referred to events that had to do with the end of the Jewish age and end of the Jewish system. The meaning is the same here as well. The time of the end is pointing to the end of the Jewish system, culminating in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., just as Jesus had spoken in Matthew 24 and Luke 21. It would be in the days of the Messiah that more about this matter would be revealed.
“Many will run to and fro and knowledge will increase.” This seems to be a statement about what will be occurring during the time of the end. For a more detailed explanation, read Matthew 24:15-28. Jesus describes in this section of Matthew 24 the running after the false Christs and running to the mountains as meaning that during the Roman invasion many would understand the prophecy of Daniel.
Questions Concerning the Book (12:5-13)
Verses 5-6–The spiritual hosts
We are now reminded of the points we made in Daniel 10 that Daniel is surrounded by numerous spiritual beings in this discussion. In verse 5 Daniel looks and see two others, likely besides the other spiritual beings that we have been introduced to in chapter 10. One is on one side of the riverbank and the other spiritual being is on the other side. One of the spiritual beings asks the question, “How long until these wonders are fulfilled?” This is a rather interesting question, because it seemed that the angel was not going to reveal any more information about these things. Daniel had been instructed to seal up the book. But before the book is sealed, one of the spiritual beings asks how long till these things are fulfilled.
Verse 7–The answer
The man clothed in linen. We saw the man clothed in linen in Daniel 10:5 who had a radiant appearance that we notice to be very similar to the description of the Son of Man in Revelation 1. In Daniel 12:7 we see the man clothed in linen “hold up his right hand and his left to heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, 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 will be finished.” The man in linen gives us two time references as to when all of these wonders would be fulfilled. The first time reference is that “it shall be for a time, times and half a time.” “Time” is understood to be one year, so a “time, times, and half a time” would be one year, two years, and a half a year, therefore three and a half years. However, we know that all the things that we have read in chapters 11 and 12 would take longer than a literal three and a half years. Therefore, the time, times, and half a time is a symbolic reference to the fact that a definite amount of time would pass.
But verse 7 gives us a more detailed time reference. The angel says “it shall be for a time, times, and half a time; and when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered.” This definite period of time would pass “when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered.” This is a clear reference to the destruction of Jerusalem and the ending of the Jewish system as spoken by Jesus in Matthew 24 and Luke 21. This shattering of the holy people has already been prophesied in Daniel 9:24 -27 concerning the seventy weeks. This same imagery is found in Revelation 10:5-11. Notice that we read, “The angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised up his hand to heaven and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the things that are in it, and the sea and the things that are in it, that there should be delay no longer, but in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets.”
In the days of Daniel, the angel said that it would be a time, times, and half a time before these wonders would be fulfilled. In the days of the writing of the book of Revelation (about 69 A.D.), we see this same angel make the same oath, but declares that there will no longer be a delay. The time, times, and half a time has passed and the shattering of the holy people would now occur (in 70 A.D.). In Revelation 11:15, the seventh angel blows his trumpet, signifying that these things had now come to pass. The words of Jesus and the prophecies of Daniel all came to pass when the Romans laid siege and destroyed Jerusalem and the cities of Judea .
Verses 8-13–Final question and answer
In verse 8 we see that though Daniel heard all of these words, he did not understand what all of this meant. Therefore Daniel asks, “My lord, what shall be the end of these things?” Daniel seems to want to know what will be the outcome of these events. However, this is information that was to be sealed up. The angel tells Daniel to go his way, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. These things would be revealed in the book of Revelation, hence the name of the book, “Revelation.” The unveiling of things that were previously sealed up. The things that are sealed up and shut away in the days of Daniel would be fully revealed in “the time of the end,” the writing of Revelation during the last days.
Verse 10 tells us that these events were set to purify the people. Because of the destruction of the temple and the Jewish system, many would become purified, turning their lives back to God. But many of the wicked would continue to act wickedly and not understand these events. However, those with insight and understanding would know the meaning of these events.
Verse 11 must be read carefully. We will go ahead and note that there are many different interpretations of this verse. As always we will look for the answer that is simplest and most logical. Let us understand what are time markers are in this verse. First, the angel mentions “the time the daily sacrifices are taken away.” This is certainly a reference to the sacrifices that were being offered in the temple in Jerusalem . When the sacrifices in the temple in Jerusalem ceased would be one time marker. The other is “the abomination of desolation is set up.” There are often many controversies as to what the abomination of desolation is. Many argue that this is the description of the Antichrist. But Jesus gives us a clear definition of who the abomination of desolation is.
In Matthew 24:15-16 Jesus spoke of the abomination of desolation. We read there, “Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place, (whoever reads, let him understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.” The book of Matthew was written to a predominantly Jewish audience, and thus the statement is given, let the reader understand. The Jews were to understand the meaning of Daniel’s prophecy. Luke records the same account in his gospel, which will define for us who the abomination of desolation is. Since Luke was written mainly to a Gentile audience, they would need a clearer definition of what to look for, since they would not be familiar with the prophecy of Daniel. In Luke 21:20-22 we read Jesus says, “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. Then let those in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.” The statement in Matthew 24 and this statement in Luke 21 are parallel. According to Luke, what was the sign of the abomination of desolation? “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies.” When the Romans surrounded the city of Jerusalem , the people were to know that its desolation was near. The Romans are the abomination of desolation because they would conquer Jerusalem and destroy the temple. The Romans would make the temple desolate. Therefore, the two points that are being mentioned to Daniel are the time that the sacrifices cease in the temple and the time when the Romans destroy the temple.
Now we must address the question as to what time frame is being discussed. Is Daniel being told the that there would be 1290 days between the time the daily sacrifices are taken away and the abomination of desolation is set up? Or is Daniel being told that there will be 1290 days once the daily sacrifices are taken away and the abomination of desolation is set up? When we carefully read this verse, it seems that Daniel is being told that after these two events take place, there will be 1290 days. The angel does not say that there would be 1290 days between these events. Further, if we were to understand the angel telling Daniel that there would be 1290 days between these events, then we must look for how this was fulfilled. With this understanding, the starting point is the time the daily sacrifices are taken away and the end of the 1290 would be when the abomination of desolation is set up. While there was much fighting that began within the city of Jerusalem by the Jews when they heard that Vespasian, the general of the Roman army, was coming against Jerusalem , I could not find any historical points to show that the sacrifices ceased 1290 days before the destruction of Jerusalem . One may argue that the sacrifices were being made by unholy hands, those not designated to be priests, but I still could not show a duration of 1290 days. Even if we understand the text to tell us that once the abomination of desolation is set up there would be 1290 days, it would be difficult to prove this literally as well. 1290 days does add up to approximately three and a half years, which is the approximate length of time from when Vespasian begins the siege on Jerusalem to the city’s destruction under Titus. While it may fit rather closely, I do not know that anyone can show that exactly 1290 days passed in the siege of Jerusalem . Furthermore, if we take the 1290 days literally, we must also take the 1335 days in verse 12 literally, which also would cause great difficulties.
Most everyone accepts that we must take these numbers symbolically. 1290 days is a general number to suggest a length of time that the oppressors will prevail. This is also the same meaning of using the phrase “time, times, and half a time.” It is a certain length of time in which the oppressors will prevail. These same numbers can be found in Revelation and are used in the same fashion. In Revelation 13:5 we see the beast (which is the Roman empire ) is given authority for 42 months (which is 1260 days, or a time, times, and half a time). It suggests a period time that the oppressive Romans would prevail. The same can be seen in Revelation 11:2-3. Here the holy city is to be trampled underfoot for 42 months. Further, the two witnesses will prophesy for 1260 days. Again we have a picture of a duration of time when the oppressors would prevail.
Some may ask, as I do, why does Daniel use 1290 days, instead of 1260 days that we see in Revelation? Some scholars have shown that every three years the Jews would add thirty days to their calendars to bring it into line with a solar year. Maybe this would explain the difference. I believe the reason for the difference is to show us that we are not talking about a literal 1260 days or a literal 1290 days. It is a symbolic time reference, like “time, times and half a time,” to show a certain period of time that would pass by when the oppressors would have authority. Therefore I believe the angel to be making the same point as he did in verse 7, that there was going to be a definite period of time when Daniel’s people would endure tribulation. But then the angel gives a message of hope. Those who endure this tribulation will be blessed. Those who outlast the 1290 days by obeying the directions of Jesus given in Matthew 24 and Luke 21 would live past these 1290 days and would see more days of life ahead. I do not know of any way to argue a literal 1335 days from this passage, nor do I know any who do. Instead, it is best to understand the 1335 days as enduring past 1290 days of oppression. Those who remained faithful to God through these days would be blessed.
In verse 13 Daniel is told not to worry about these things but to go his way. Daniel would die and not see the events just spoken of about the shattering of the holy people. Daniel would receive his inheritance (his lot, in some translations) at the end of these days. Again, this is not a reference to the end of time, but a reference to the end of the Jewish system and all the things Daniel has just prophesied. In the words of Jim McGuiggen, from his commentary on Daniel, “When Jerusalem fell, Daniel stood up and was acknowledged! Jesus warned that that is what would happen even as Daniel had said.” Thus we see this come to pass in Revelation 11:17-18, “We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty, The One who is and who was and who is to come, because You have taken Your great power and reigned. The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints, and those who fear Your name, small and great, and should destroy those who destroy the earth.” Daniel’s, as well as the other prophets, reward came when his words were fulfilled in the days of Jesus Christ.