Daniel 12 is the conclusion of the vision introduced in chapter 10. While many of the statements in this chapter are enigmatic and difficult, the main point is clear – God is in control of history, and He will put an end to the time of trouble that His people will face.
I. “The Time of the End” (12:1-4)
A. The time of trouble (12:1).
1. Daniel is told that Michael, the great prince who has charge of “your people,” will arise.
a) Michael was introduced as one of the chief of princes in 10:13, 21.
b) In the NT he is also portrayed as a great warrior who fights on behalf of God’s people (Rev. 12:7-10).
2. Daniel learns that there will be a great time of trouble for his people (cf. Matt. 24:21).
3. However, deliverance will come for those whose names are written in the book, presumably the faithful Jews who refuse to compromise to the persecution of Antiochus.
B. The resurrection (12:2-3).
1. The next two verses introduce the first explicit language of resurrection in all of the Bible.
a) Some commentators believe this language is symbolic, describing the renewal of the nation in terms of a resurrection. This is the kind of imagery found in Hosea 6:1-2; Ezek. 37:11-14; Isa. 26:19.
b) Others believe it refers to the bodily resurrection, which would be an important theme in light of the persecution of Antiochus.
2. Details of the resurrection:
a) Awake from sleep, a metaphor of death (John 11:11).
b) “In the dust of the earth,” an allusion to the curse of death in Gen. 3:19.
c) Some to life, some to contempt and shame.
d) Those who are wise (see 11:33-35), shall shine in glory like the stars.
3. Shut up and seal (12:4).
a) Daniel is told to shut and seal this message, indicating it is fixed and cannot be changed (see Jer. 32:10 for such a use of a seal).
b) The reference to many running to and fro and that knowledge shall increase could be positive (as in the ESV), or could be negative (the NIV says “to increase knowledge”), meaning they will fail because they are looking for knowledge from human sources rather than God (cf. Amos 8:12).
II. Daniel’s Questions (12:5-13)
A. “How long shall it be” (12:5-7).
1. There are two questions in response to this vision. The first is found in 12:5-6.
a) Daniel is still by the “stream” (12:5), the Tigris River (10:4).
b) The two figures Daniel sees on either side of the river may be angels (12:5).
c) Someone asked the “man clothed in linen” (the angel from 10:5) “how long shall it be till the end of these wonders”? (12:6)
2. The answer (12:7).
a) The man in linen raises both hands to swear, indicating the strength of the oath he swears.
b) He “swore by him who lives forever,” God (cf. Deut. 32:40).
c) The response is that this would last “a time, times, and half a time.”
(1) This was the same time frame used in 7:25 to denote the blasphemy of the little horn.
(2) It could mean 3 ½ years, or it could simply mean a finite and brief period.
(3) As it turns out, the temple did remain desecrated for about 3 years.
d) The angel concludes by saying that when the “shattering of the power of the holy people comes to an end all these things would finished” (is this a reference to AD 70?).
B. The second question (12:8-13).
1. Daniel follows up with a question in 12:8.
a) He says he did not understand (I know how he feels!).
b) He wants to know, “what shall be the outcome of these things?”
2. The answer (12:9-13).
a) The angel basically tells Daniel to go his way and drop the subject! (12:9).
b) The angel does say that as a result of what will happen many will be purified and refined who are wise (12:10).
c) He also gives two more time frames (12:11-12).
(1) From the time of the removal of the offering and the setting up of the abomination there will be 1,290 days (12:11).
(2) Then he pronounces a blessing on those who wait and arrive at 1,335 days (12:12).
(3) I am not sure what the significance of these numbers is. One suggestion is that 1,290 days is approximately 3 ½ years and would be the same as the “time, times and half a time” in 12:7. Those who hang in there and remain faithful past this point – until 1,335 days – will be blessed.
d) The angel concludes the book by saying Daniel should go his way, rest, and stand in his place (12:13). This is a great note to end this book on for us. We cannot allow ourselves to ever become paralyzed by speculation. We must be faithful to God even though we may not understand all that He says.