Daniel 11 concluded with the story of an antichrist figure who reigned in the second century before the birth of Jesus. This heathen ruler was one in a series of similar despots beginning before Antiochus IV Epiphanes was born and continuing long after he died. (See Matthew 24:15 and the reference to the book of Daniel.) Daniel 12 clearly brings the reader forward more than a thousand years to the flowering of Greek and Roman civilization and to the glorious kingdom that Christ will establish when He returns. We know this because Daniel writes very plainly about the final resurrection from the dead when “the great Prince” shall be King.
“At that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book.” This ultimate salvation from the Messiah will not be some small event. Human beings who “sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” Daniel’s focus is on the first of these two groups who “shall shine like the brightness of the sky above.”
Later in the chapter we are told more about this ultimate epoch of history in our fallen world. These “last days” (Hebrews 1:2) will begin around the year when “the regular burnt offering is taken away” which happened in 70 AD with the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. It will end with the coming of the Son of Man in glory. In between these two dates is a period of undefined length. Throughout that entire era, “many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.”
The nations of the West have enjoyed astounding technological advances since the ascension of Jesus. The church in these lands has also been used by God to preach the message of Christ to all the ends of the earth. We are assured in Daniel 12 that “those who are wise” and who live today “shall understand” certain truths that the wicked will not comprehend. While there are many hidden facts that God does not reveal to us, we should be able to embrace at least three doctrines as those who have carefully considered the teaching contained in the Scriptures. First, the entire New Testament era will be an age of unparalleled achievement, but also of significant trial. God’s “holy people” will not be in charge, and civil authorities will regularly oversee the “shattering” of the “power” of Israel and the church. Second, the Christian hope will include both the eternal judgment of God against the wicked and the resurrection of the righteous to the fullness of joy for which they were created. Finally, the fulfillment of God’s plans for His children center around a pivotal figure who will be the “Prince of Peace” mentioned in Isaiah 9:6. The church today has the privilege of proclaiming the “good news of peace through Jesus Christ” all over the world. See Acts 10:31 and Ephesians 2:14-27.
We may still have unanswered questions about “how long” we must wait for the return of Jesus or “what shall be the outcome of these things,” yet we can rest in the Lord’s covenant promises. The Almighty will bring us through any present distress into a glorious creation where God’s righteousness will fill our hearts forever.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Lord God Almighty, carry Your people through the great tribulation that has come upon the earth. Help us in the day of rebellion and apostasy. Guard us from the wrath of our most powerful adversaries. We do not know the day or the hour of Your Son’s return. We do know You, thankfully, and so we know that our Savior will surely have a great victory when He appears. Every knee shall bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of Your Holy Name.