Thoughts to Ponder: Chapter 28
Chapter 28: The End Times—God’s Love and Care ~ Daniel 12:1-13
Q1 – Evil will run its course here on this earth until the time of the end. During this interim period, what will be going on with the faithful? With the wicked?
A1 – Before getting to this question, perhaps we should look at the time period this vision addresses. By looking at all the events mentioned, it seems to be the period extending from Daniel’s lifetime on through the appearing of the Messiah and the Great Tribulation, or persecution of the Christians, which followed. This would make the ending point about AD 70. (Timeline for Daniel’s Visions – scroll down to Fifth Vision)
However, much of the language and references in this vision bear a similarity to various New Testament references to the end times. Revelation 20:11-15 talks about the books being open and everyone, great and small, will be judged according to what they have done. We know that the great struggles did not cease with the great persecution of the early day Christians. The spiritual battle continues on today. Here are only two references, but there are numerous others:
- I John 5:19b (ESV): “…the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”
- Ephesians 6:12 (ESV): “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
As you might expect, Bible scholars have various opinions concerning what time period this vision covers. Some feel that parts of it dually address the aforementioned time period ending about AD 70 and also address the continuing times before the end of the world. Even though specific days are given in Daniel 12:11-12, with the end coming after 1,335 days, other scriptures tell us God doesn’t measure time as we do. Peter, in discussing the end times, states in II Peter 3:8 (ESV): “But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”
Another reason to believe that the time period this vision covers is not limited to the period ending about AD 70 is the admonition to Daniel in the last verse, Daniel 12:13 (NIV): “As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance.” This would seem to mean the end of time when all people will be judged. There is no indication that Daniel has risen yet, nor that he was among the saints who came forth from the grave when Jesus was crucified, as mentioned in Matthew 27:52-53 (NIV): “and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.”
Regardless of the time period covered by this vision, until the end of time, evil will be present in this world. The faithful will struggle against evil, because Satan and the fallen angels that he leads are quite powerful. The anguish suffered by the early Christians was extreme, yet whether they lived through the persecutions, or whether they died as a result, their faith saw them through.
Faith will see God’s people through whatever may occur today as well, just as it will see future generations of God’s people through until the end of time (II Corinthians 5:7). As for each of us individually, our struggle is only through our lifetime. That’s all we must deal with. It’s up to us to use whatever trials we go through to purify, cleanse and refine us (see Daniel 12:10). Thankfully, God provides His people with many layers of protection (this will be discussed in the next lesson). Remember that trials can destroy only the physical lives of true believers, but never their faith.
The wicked, on the other hand, will just go on being wicked (see II Timothy 3:1-5 for a partial list of the traits of the wicked). They will not understand the things of God. As Paul explains in I Corinthians 1:18 (NLT), “The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.” He continues in I Corinthians 2:14 (NLT) that “…people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it…” So pray for wisdom to be among the wise who do understand God’s truths.
Q2 – Daniel was elderly when he had this vision. Do you think he realized that almost everything mentioned in this vision would occur after his death?
A2 – With the happenings in this vision extending many years into the future, possibly into eternity, surely Daniel understood that he wouldn’t be around to see its fulfillment. It’s kind of like Moses. Even though he couldn’t cross over into the Promised Land, God took him up on top of Mount Nebo so he could gaze over and see what lay ahead for God’s people. In a similar manner, Daniel had earnestly longed and prayed for the deliverance of his people. There is no indication that he was ever able to leave Babylon, but now that his life was drawing to an end, God allowed him to glimpse over and see the future.
Q3 – What assurance was Daniel given in verse 13? How does this scripture provide assurance to us today?
A3 – What comforting words these must have been to Daniel, as well as to all of God’s faithful who have lived since that time. “As for you, go your way until the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days, you will rise again to receive the inheritance set aside for you” (Daniel 12:13, NLT).
Daniel, after being privileged to interpret dreams for others as well as have visions and dreams of his own, had learned more than perhaps anyone in the Old Testament concerning what would occur in the next several hundred years as well as through the ages and into eternity. He knew that the Anointed One would come and that ultimately good would win and evil would be destroyed. Yet,even if he lived a long life for a human, that would still be merely a blip on God’s timeline. He knew that he would personally witness very little of what had been revealed to him.
Daniel is told several things in this scripture:
- “As for you, go your way until the end”—Daniel had been presented with an overwhelming amount of information. On previous occasions, the revelations had deeply affected him. With this statement, the speaker instructs Daniel to go on living his life, to not let this information get him down or immobilize him.
- “You will rest…”—How comforting to know that after his physical life was over, that he would rest. No wandering the earth as a spirit, being reincarnated as another being, or worse, going to a shadowy place of uncertainty or even pain and torment. Daniel lived and worked among Babylonians whose culture held various mysterious beliefs about the afterlife. (This article, “Ancient Mesopotamian Beliefs in the Afterlife,” discusses some of their beliefs.)
- “and then at the end of the days, you will rise again…”—Although his physical body would die, his soul would not. After its rest, it would arise at the appointed time. (That, in itself, was a great comfort—for him to know that his soul would not miss the wake up call and sleep through the big event.) Some versions use the word “stand” rather than rise. Contrast that to scriptures which state that “the wicked will not stand in the judgement” (Psalm 1:5, NIV). They will be condemned and will not be able to endure judgment, whereas Daniel and the righteous will be able to stand.
- “to receive the inheritance set aside for you”—Not only would Daniel rise again, but he could also look forward to a reward. The HCSB version says “rise to your destiny at the end of the days,” while the ESV says “stand in your allotted place at the end of the days.” Christians know that the inheritance of the righteous will be spending eternity in the presence of God.
Certainly, the faithful today can take this scripture to heart as well. We live our lives for God while we’re still on this earth and fully trust in Him to take care of us after we leave.