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The End Times (ch. 12:1-13)

Before I begin this chapter I would like to insert an article I've written on verse 4 to help explain what the world "knowledge" means.  


Some of you might remember Alvin Toffler's 1970 book entitled "Future Shock".  Toffler outlined the acceleration of knowledge throughout human history.  He noted that in the first seventy years of the 20th century we accumulated more knowledge than in history past.  Of course, Toffler's book has long since been outdated.  It's now estimated that knowledge doubles every one and half to two years. 


One of my dad's favourite Bible verses speaks of an acceleration of knowledge.  His King James Bible says; "Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increase" (Daniel 12:4).   My dad understood the word "knowledge" to mean knowledge in general.  Allow me to suggest something different.  


An angelic looking being informed Daniel about the end of days with the following words.  "At that time, Michael, the great prince that protects your people (Israel) will arise.  There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then.  But at that time your people (Israel) - even those names found written in the book  - will be delivered.  Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life and others to shame and everlasting contempt.  Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.  But you, Daniel, close and seal the words of this scroll until the time of the end.  Many will go here and there to increase knowledge" (Daniel 12:1 - 4 NIV).


The word "knowledge" is translated from the Hebrew word "da'ath" in Daniel 12:4.  The meaning of "da'ath" clues us in a bit to what kind of knowledge is spoken about here.  "Da'ath" is a specific kind of knowledge.  It's not the type of knowledge that remains in one's head, leads to technological advances, or simply informs.  "Da'ath" is the specific knowledge that enables one to make wise discerning judgments.  That's why the text speaks of those who are wise. 


The text gives us a clue to when this increase of knowledge will take place.  The words "at that time" in Daniel 1:1 refers to the time of the end.  Jesus confirmed this when He quoted this passage as part of His end time discourse in Matthew 24:21. 


The text also clues us in a bit concerning what we should associate this knowledge with.  Daniel is told that Michael, the great angelic protector of Israel, will rise.  I suggest the increase of knowledge has something to do with Michael rising at the end of this age in support and defense of Israel. 


I propose that the specific increase of knowledge spoken of here relates to knowledge that enables us to wisely discern the events leading to the end of this age.  This is a time when Michael supports and defends Israel; wise people will lead many to righteousness in the most horrific era in human history, and, men and women will rise from the dust of the earth to eternal life or eternal damnation.        

There's no doubt this passage concerns end time prophecy.  Daniel was told to seal the scroll up tight until the time of the end.  Interestingly enough, What Daniel was told to seal up the Apostle John was told to unseal in Revelation 22:10.  Brothers and sisters in Jesus, I suggest that we are privileged to live in a time when this prophetic scroll is being unsealed.  With the unsealing of this scroll comes the opportunity for us to possess the increased prophetic knowledge that will enable us to wisely discern the signs of the times.  


An example of increased prophetic knowledge was seen when the first of the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered just a few months before Israel became a nation in 1948 in fulfillment of prophecy.  This discovery produced a wealth of new knowledge.  For example, a 29 foot long scroll of the oldest entire book of Isaiah was unearthed.  This scroll differs little from the book of Isaiah we hold in our hands today.  It's no coincidence that an important prophetic book outlining Israel's future was discovered when Israel became a nation in fulfillment of the very prophecies written therein.  I suspect that Michael, the angelic protector of Israel, rose from his seat and had a part to play in this prophetically timed discovery.   


Throughout the centuries liberal scholars have thought the New Testament was written in some kind of weird Greek because it differed from Classical Greek.  Well, the Dead Sea Scrolls unearthed everyday documents that were written in the same weird Greek the New Testament was written in.  We now know that the New Testament was written in the common street level language of the day.  There's nothing weird about the New Testament, and archeology has proven that to be true.   


Liberal scholars have attempted to debunk
the New Testament because of a lack of historical evidence of Pilate.  Well, in 1961 historical evidence of Pilate's existence was unearthed in the town of Caesarea where he spent 10 years governing Judea.  Among other things, archeologists found his name inscribed on a block of limestone that formed part of the foundation of a theatre.  Many liberal scholars doubted the existence of Caiaphas as well.  He was the high priest who handed Jesus over to Pilate.  In 1990 an ossuary containing his body was unearthed in Jerusalem.  Be assured, the Bible is an accurate portrayal of history.  


Archeological finds aren't the only source of increased knowledge.  As western Christians we may consider ourselves the cream of the Christian crop concerning Biblical issues, but that's debatable.  Culturally and linguistically speaking we are so far removed from the Bible that it puts us at a distinct disadvantage in understanding Biblical issues. When we attempt to understand the Bible from our 21st century western minds, we fail miserably, but don't be disheartened.  Historians and linguists are discovering cultural and literary knowledge that clears up many Biblical issues for us.  


In Mark 13:33 Jesus commanded, not suggested, us to watch and pray for the signs leading to the end.  Jesus would not have told us to watch in ignorance.  As a matter of fact God views ignorance as being the road to destruction (Hosea 4:6).  For this reason Jesus clued us in on many end time events, but beyond that, the increased knowledge of Daniel 12:4 is obtainable for us today.  We have the opportunity to be the most knowledgeable, wise, and discerning, Christians in history, especially when it comes to Biblical prophecy.  Let's avail ourselves to the Daniel 4:12 increase of knowledge.  As the Hebrew word "da'ath means, "we'll be the wiser for it". 


I know return you to my commentary.


We need to recognize that chapter 12 is a continuation of the last two chapters.  Weíre not moving to a new subject in this vision.


Michael the angel appears here as one who protects Godís people, which in context is Israel.  We thus need to acknowledge and understand the importance of Israel at the end of the age.  Israel has not been replaced by the church as Replacement Theology teaches.  Israel still has a prophetic and historic future, right up to the end of this age and into the New Earth, as is seen in the New Jerusalem in the book of Revelation.   


In verse 1 we see a time of great tribulation that had never been seen in the world.  Jesus picks up on this statement in Matthew 24 and Mark 13.  This is clearly in reference to what has been called the Great Tribulation as seen in the book of Revelation.  Jeremiah 30:7 calls this time the "time of Jacobís trouble" because it is meant to bring Israel to her knees in genuine repentance.  In Zechariah 13:8 we note that two thirds of the land of Israel will be wiped out, which many scholars say takes place in the Great Tribulation.


Note in verse 1 that Michael is the great protector of Israel.  Note also that he rises to his feet at the end of this age.  I believe when he rises to his feet it is in support and defense of Israel in the last days.  Israel will need all of the support and defense she can get.


Verse 2 speaks of a resurrection.  Those who sleep in the dust will be raised.  Some people will be raised to everlasting life and others to everlasting contempt.   You should note that "many" will be raised to eternal life, but not all.  The doctrine of Universal Salvation for all is not Biblical.   You should note also that those who are raised in this particular context are Jews.


This resurrection appears, or seems to appear, after the Great Tribulation in this passage.  As a side note some prophetic Futurists believe in a pre-trib rapture, but this is not a rapture.  This is the resurrection of the dead.  Some who hold a pre-trib rapture believe that only the church will be raptured.  Believing Jews get raptured at the end of the tribulation period when Jesus returns.  They say this because it appears that the Great Tribulation is all about bringing Israel to her knees in repentance.  Yes, the nations of the world are judged as well, but one of the main reasons for their judgment is due to their unfriendly treatment of Israel .  So, the Great Tribulation is all about Israel . 


In verse 3 we see those "who are wise will shine"  Those who are wise are those who pay attention to these prophecies and give themselves to the God who gave these visions to Daniel.  Those who are wise win others to salvation.  This should show us how important the prophetic aspect to the Bible is.  Understanding Biblical prophecy, as hard as that is, takes wisdom that only the Lord can give.


In verse 4 Daniel is told to "seal up the scroll" that contained the events of the end of this age.  The scroll was to be sealed up until the end comes.  It is important to note that in Revelation 5 Jesus rips open the seals of a scroll.  It's my thinking at present that the scroll Daniel was told to close might well be the same scroll Jesus opens.  Also, the Apostle John is told to unseal a scroll in Revelation 22:10.  This might well be the scroll that Daniel is told to seal up.   


The last part of verse 4 says that many will go here and there and that knowledge will increase.  As time goes on, we travel here and there more than ever before.  Knowledge is increasing at a rate faster than ever.  Here, in 2014, they say that knowledge is doubling every eighteen to twenty four months. Such knowledge in Daniel's day took hundreds of years to double. 


Some scholars donít believe this verse is talking about us travelling and gaining in knowledge. Some people believe that the knowledge that is spoken of here is the knowledge of prophecy, since prophecy is the context in which these words are written.  Many ways of thinking concerning prophecy in past centuries have now been disputed because of modern events and discoveries that werenít available to those in the past. The formation of Israel in 1948 is one big event that is important in Biblical history.  I tend to see the travel and knowledge spoken of here as being prophetic knowledge as I've stated in the beginning of this chapter.


In verse 6 Daniel asks "how long will it be until these astonishing things are fulfilled?"   The angel in the vision replies by saying that these days will last for a time, times, and half a time.  We havve noted this time period before to be three and a half years.  Each time represents one year.  


Some people believe the Great Tribulation lasts for seven years while others see it lasting three and a half years.  Many Futurists see this time, times, and an half of time as the Great Tribulation itself, or, the last half of the seven year tribulation period.  It just depends on how long you think the Great Tribulation lasts.  


It is interesting to see what happens during these three and a half years and why they take place.  The angel in the vision says these things happen until the power of the holy people is broken.  This means that Israelís humanistic and self centered power will be broken and they will return to their own God.  This is in fact the end goal to the Great Tribulation as I've mentioned.


In verses 8 through 10 Daniel is confused and doesnít really understand.  He asks the angel in the vision for more details but Daniel is told to close the vision and seal it up.  Here we see the word "seal" again.  Daniel is to preserve this vision, and to close it up.  Itís like this angel tells Daniel to just lay this aside for a future date.  Until then the righteous will be righteous and the wicked will the wicked.


These words are very much the same as what John is told in Revelation 22:10 and following.  Here John is told not to seal the vision up.  He was told to let those who are holy be holy and those who are wicked be wicked.  This is very similar to what Daniel was told, although John is told to keep the vision open, as to say, "Itís time to start thinking about these things."  This clearly tells me that in these New Testament times we should be attempting to understand Biblical prophecy.  


We now come to the closing verses of the book of Daniel and what they exactly mean is hard to know.  Verse 11 speaks of the abomination of desolation that we saw back in Daniel 11:31.  In Daniel 11:31 Daniel foretells the day when someone would desecrate the temple, which is called the abomination of desolation here.  Many prophecies have a double, or even a triple meaning.  Antiochus Epiphanes was a Greek king that ruled from 175 to 164 B C.  He sacked Jerusalem and offered a pig, an unclean animal, on the altar in the temple.  In one sense of the word, his actions fulfilled this prophecy.  However, in Matthew 24:15 and Mark 13:14, Jesus spoke of this abomination of desolation as if it was still in the future.  Some suggest that this prophecy was fulfilled when  Rome sacked Jerusalem and the temple was burned. That might well be a secondary fulfillment, but, I believe the primary fulfillment of this abomination of desolation is fulfilled in Revelation 13 when the anti-Christ puts an image of himself in the temple to be worshipped.


Scholars have speculated for a long time about these verses.  There are two sets of times mentioned here. First is twelve hundred and ninety (1290) days that is the time that the sacrifices are abolished and the abomination of desolation takes place.  Most prophetic Futurists say this is at the half way point of the seventieth week of Daniel.  That is to say, the last seven years of this age.  The inference is that there are twelve hundred and ninety (1290) days from that middle point of a seven year tribulation to the end of the age.  This is also seen in the book of Revelation.  So, according to this math, there are thirty extra days after the tribulation and return of Christ.  


Beyond this, Daniel is told of another period of time lasting thirteen hundred and thirty five (1335) days. Heís told that blessed are those who wait out this period of time.  This is an extra forty five days beyond the above twelve hundred and ninety (1290) days, or an extra seventy five days beyond the 1260 days found in the book of Revelation.  So, we have a total of seventy five days that weíre not sure what happens which appears to be after the Great Tribulation and return of Christ to the new earth.  There is lots of speculation about these seventy five days.  If you are not good at math, you most likely didn't even catch what I just said.  This is hard thing to get your head around.  It takes some heavy duty thinking.    


According to the book of Revelation, the last half of the 7 year tribulation is 1260 days.  Many Prophetic Futurists call these 1260 days the Great Tribulation.  It starts in the middle of the 7 years when the anti-Christ sets up his image in the temple at Jerusalem , which is mentioned in Daniel 12:11 as the abomination of desolation.  Also, according to Daniel 12:11 this abomination will last 1290 days, 30 days longer than the 1260 days seen in Revelation.  Some suggest we have a discrepancy here.  Of course, I don't see a discrepancy, but on the other hand, I can't totally explain this, because in part, Daniel was told to seal up this vision until the time of the end.  It might well be that there is a 30 day period to dismantle what the anti-Christ has done, especially in Jerusalem and the temple.  Beyond this extra 30 days, there is an additional 45 days that we do not see in Revelation.  Again, the text does not say exactly what will take place during these 45 days, other than those who wait out these 45 days are blessed, as seen in Daniel 12:12.  Some suggest that these 45 days is the time of judgment seen in Matthew 25 where Jesus separates the sheep from the goats, that is, those who have survived the 7 year tribulation.      


Verse 13 closes Danielís book.  He i told to go his way.  The visions he received are now over.  Heí would receive no more.  He would soon go to his rest, meaning, he would soon die.  At the end of all things he would rise to receive his inheritance. 


We learn a lot from the book of Daniel, and maybe some of what we learn causes us to question many things.  Whatever we learn or donít learn we know that God has a time table.  Certain things will happen at the end of this age at predetermined times. The visions of the Book of Daniel have been laid out for us to consider and learn from.  As time goes on, all of these visions will become progressively clearer to us.  Jesus told His disciples in John 16 that they did not understand what all He was speaking about, but when these things took place, they would remember and understand.  This is the same with Biblical prophecy.  We do not understand it now, but as each year passes, we'll understand better than ever.


May you be a student of Biblical prophecy.  It takes up a huge section of the Word of God.  In Mark 13:33 Jesus actually commands us to watch and pray about the events leading to the end.  In other words, he commands us to be students of prophecy.  So I will be that student. 




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