Harry Whittaker
Visions in Daniel

11. A Climax of Revelation (Daniel 12)

The Michael who had earlier joined forces with the angel Gabriel (10:20,21) to ensure a prompt response to Daniel’s pleading, appears in a dramatic scene in the Last Days going into action (behind the scenes, as formerly) on behalf of Israel. The Scriptures which associate him as specially concerned with the Ministry of Israelitish Affairs are few but impressive (Ex. 23:20f; Josh. 5:14; Zech. 3:1 with Jude 9; Rev. 12:7). The reasons for equating this Michael with the Lord Jesus are quite inadequate, and (in 10:21) would involve a strange concept of personal pre-existence. That Michael means Who-is-like-God proves little, for paripassu Gabriel means God’s-Strong-One and, coupled with Psalm 80:17 would equally refer to the Messiah.

This prophecy speaks of a time when the powers of heaven are shaken, so that it- needs the strong action of this archangel of God to save His people in their final crisis (1 Th. 4:16?). This, it may be fairly safely surmised, will be when the final “overturning” of the nation takes place. It will be “a time of trouble such as never was.” “Alas, for that day is great, so that there is none like it—it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it” (Jer. 30:7). Daniel has the same explicit detail: “a time of trouble such as never was since there was a Gentile (goi—in the Land, adds LXX) even to that same time.” This is surely Zechariah 13:9; “I will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call upon my name, and I will hear them.”—”Thy people shall be delivered, every one that is found written in the book” (v.1; cp. Rev. 5:4 and Eur.1.12). So also Joel 2:2,3 and the sad ominous words of Jesus in Matthew 24:21.

The idea of a heavenly roll of honour, the Lamb’s Book of Life, is constantly before the mind of the observant reader of Holy Scripture: Ex. 32:32; Ps. 56:8; 69:28; Is. 4:3; Ez. 13:9; Lk. 10:20; Phil. 4:3; Rev. 3:5; 13:8).

The living and the dead are alike to be called to account—but not all: “Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth”; literally: “many from those who sleep...”, thus indicating even more pointedly that many that “understand not are like the beasts that perish”.

A judicial process for living and dead is implied (v. ld, 2), and—remarkably— here is the only Old Testament occurrence of “everlasting life. “ The only alternative for those found unfit for the Messianic kingdom is “shame” (great shame—the Hebrew has an intensive plural) and “contempt” (s.w. Is. 66:24).

But what a contrast with those who are glorified! “They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.” There is a palpable allusion here to the surpassing brightness of the sun, as the equivalent saying of Jesus makes evident: “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Mt. 13:43). But Daniel’s “shine” and “brightness” involve a repetition of a remarkable double-meaning Hebrew word which also means “warn”, thus hinting at an impressive parallelism with what follows: “they that turn many to righteousness . . .”

“As the stars” perhaps echoes the great Promise to Abraham (Gen. 22:17) of an earthly seed “as the sand of the seashore,” and a spiritual seed “as the stars of heaven.” The context here mentions only the latter. Compare also the force of 1 Cor. 15:41,42.

This discrimination between the blessed and the rejected is repeated here again and again. In response to the almost agonized enquiry: “O my lord, what shall be the end of these things?” there comes first of all an assurance: “Go thy way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed until the time of the end,” a declaration difficult to reconcile with the view that the visions seen by Daniel present a conspectus of continuously unfolding history from Daniel’s time right through to the day of resurrection.

But the “sheep and goats” separation is insisted on in almost blunt terms:

“Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried, but the wicked shall do wickedly, and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand” (v.10).
This antithesis between wise understanding and doing wickedly is rather startling, for modern thinking hardly at all treats lack of understanding as akin to wickedness. Consider the Lord’s parable of the two builders (Mt. 7:24ff).

By contrast, “many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” The tendencies to isolate these words, and treat them as a vivid anticipation of the ease and rapidity of modern travel borders on the grotesque. Rather, let the Biblical idiom behind the word “run” be recognized, and a very different idea emerges:

“I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran” (Jer. 23:21).

“Write the vision upon tables, that he may run that readeth it” (Hab. 2:2).

And many others: Ez. 1:18,20; 2 Th. 3:1RV; 1 Kgs. 18:46; Ps. 147:15; 2 Chr. 16:9; Zech. 4:10; Rev 5:6; Gal. 2:2; Is. 55:5; Jude 11; Phil. 2:16.

Or, there could be here an allusion to the people of Israel gathering the manna of God (Num. 11:8 Heb.).

Yet another possibility is that, by the smallest emendation imaginable (the frequent confusion between Hebrew ‘R’ and ‘D’), the words may read: “Many shall turn aside, and evils shall be increased.”

The picture of angels by the waters of the river (which river?) is extremely puzzling. Is the reader intended to visualise an angel on either bank and also a third upon or over (LXX epano) the waters? If so, Daniel was being reminded of how his people left Egyptian captivity behind and entered into their inheritance across the river Jordan, for at that time the Glory of the Lord, represented by the Ark of the Covenant borne by priests stood in the midst whilst the people crossed over. Now is declared the solemn divine oath that “the end of the scattering of the holy people” is at hand. There remains only the fulfilment of a final time-period of “a time, times and a half”. Then, “all these things shall be finished.”

No amount of juggling with 1260 years can produce a convincing fit into Jewish history. It is a failure, which has driven the last nail in the coffin of the year-for-a-day theory. Much more surely the student should look for a final period of literally 3½ years (as in 7:25; Rev. 11:2; 12:14; 13:5).

It has often been pointed out that all computations about the Last Day are doomed to failure, for two insuperable reasons:

  1. The Lord Jesus himself declared: “Of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father only” (Mk. 13:32).
  2. Jesus had all the time-periods of Daniel as much at his finger-tips as any modern student of prophecy, and—it may be safely assumed—a much greater insight and expertise; nevertheless he too was in ignorance regarding this: “neither the Son”.
It is passing strange that over the years there has been so little inclination to equate this “time, times, and an half” with the “times of the Gentiles” (Lk. 21:24) during which Jerusalem is to be “trodden down of the Gentiles.” Those who talk blithely about this period having been finally fulfilled in the Six Days’ War of 1967 have a rude shock awaiting them, (after all, is not the temple site still “trodden down by Gentiles”?).

On this issue, the final decisive detail is one, which has gone badly neglected: this keyword “times” (Hebrew: mo’ed) is one normally restricted to Jewish religious feasts. Thus, “time, times, and a half” must be 3½ literal years, to be measured off, from start to finish, by the feasts of Israel. Is not this to be expected since the prophecy is about “the scattering of the holy people”?

It so transpires that the two outstanding Jewish holy days are exactly six months apart, so that the period under consideration may be expected to begin at the Feast of Tabernacles and end at Passover, or to begin at Passover and end at Tabernacles.

In “Passover”, HAW, ch.14, attention has been drawn to the evidence that the Second Coming may be looked for at Passover. In which case, the first of the two alternatives just mentioned seems to be indicated.

Then what is the special association intended to be suggested by the 1290 and the 1335 days?

The first of these runs on another month past the end of the 3½ years, either to suggest a “Little Passover” for those not already included in this deliverance period (see Num. 9:11); or alternatively, to allow for the inclusion of an intercalary month because the years of 360 days and 365¼ days get out of step in the course of 3½ years. In that case, the extra 45 days called for in the 1335 days would run on to the Feast of Pentecost, the time of the outpouring of the Spirit on God’s people in Jerusalem.

Daniel had been reduced to perplexity and even wretchedness more than once by the revelations made to him, but none so much as this: “O my lord, what shall be the end of these (times)?” But further detail was not vouchsafed to him. Instead:

“Go thy way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.” Neither you nor any other will really grasp these things until fulfilment knocks at the door.

“Thou, Daniel, shall rest and shall stand in thy lot (in the Promised Land) at the end of the days.” Not for nothing was his name Daniel: God is my Judge. He was one of those whose glorious destiny was made known long before the Day of Judgment (Rev. 20:4; Mt. 19:28).

“Blessed is he that waiteth...” A quite surprising number of Bible passages (by all means see concordance on this) use this pregnant word about “waiting on or for the Lord” (e.g. Is. 25:9; Hab. 2:3).

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