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Corresponds with Sabbath School Study Guide: Dec 18-24

Background Considerations:

Chapter 12 of Daniel contains the last revelation that was given to him. Several interesting parallels may be drawn between his life and career and those by John the Revelator. Both of these men were in exile, both received divine revelations about end times, both were assisted by an angel interpreter and both were able to meet the person who was the source of their visions face to face. One difference between them is that while the resurrected Christ appeared to John in the beginning of his prophetic career (Revelation 1:12-18), Daniel saw “one who looked like a man” toward the end of his life and ministry (chapter 10). Daniel’s career in Babylon began through the office of a wise man, then he became a seer who received visions, yet, the climax of his prophetic office was his face to face encounter with the divine messenger.

A superficial look at Daniel’s book and life may give an impression that he was so successful in Babylon that the progress of his career may be presented by a straight ascending line. But this was not the case. His career is better presented by a series of up and down movements. In chapter 1 we find that Daniel is led into captivity and at the end of that chapter he becomes a court officer, while at the end of the following chapter he is a governor and the chief magician. But in chapter five he is almost forgotten only to be promoted to the position of the third ruler in the kingdom at the end of the story from that chapter. In the chapter that follows, Daniel is first thrown into the lions’ den, but then released and placed in the position of the prime minister. Through all these up and down experiences, he remained a person of prayer whose career was not a product of his ambition, but rather a result of God’s plan for his life in Babylon.

Daniel’s successful prophetic career was centuries ago confirmed by no less than three outstanding Jewish sources: (1) In his Olivet Discourse when he talked about the signs of his coming, Jesus referred to an apocalyptic passage from “the prophet Daniel” (Matthew 24:15). (2) The document from Qumran titled Florilegium gives a number of Old Testament quotations some of which are from the scroll of “Daniel, the prophet.” And finally (3) Josephus Flavius, the official Jewish historian in Rome, said that Daniel was:

… one of the greatest of the prophets, insomuch, that while he was still alive he had the esteem and applause both of the kings and of the multitude; and now he is dead, he retains a remembrance that will never fail, for the several books that he wrote and left behind him are still read by us till this time; and from them we believe that Daniel conversed with God.

The following plan may be proposed for chapter 12 of Daniel:

A. The Rise of Michael (12:1-3)
B. Waiting for the End (12:4-12); the longest part
A’. The Rise of Daniel (12:13)

Relevant Biblical Passages

    • Daniel 12:1-3. The attention shifts from the King of the North, who comes to his end with no one to help him, to Michael, Israel’s guardian angel. The phrase “that time” is very important in verse one. It may refer either to the time of the end (11:40), or to the appointed time (11:27, 29, 35). There is a word play in this verse on the verb “stand.” Michael who is continually standing [in protection] (participle) over Daniel’s people, will stand up (imperfect) at that time. Could the unparalleled distress that is mentioned in this verse refer to the eschatological Day of Atonement? The mentioning of a great distress is immediately followed by a promise of deliverance. Does this fact remind the reader of the Bible of Jacob’s trouble? Notice what Jeremiah 30:7 says:

      How awful that day will be!
      None will be like it.
      It will be a time of trouble for Jacob,
      but he will be saved out of it.

      How do you understand the word “many” in verse two? Should it be related to the same word from 9:27 where the Anointed ruler confirms a covenant with many? How do the two characteristics of the faithful from verse three apply to Daniel’s life? Was he wise in his life and did he lead others to righteousness? Would you say that Daniel was a good representative of the remnant in Babylon?

    • Daniel 12:7-12. The question that is asked in this passage relates to the fulfillment of all that Daniel has seen in his visions and also to the time of the end. The three time periods that are given as answers are not easy to explain, except the first one that we have already seen in chapter seven, “a time, times and half a time.” When all three numbers are put together, they give the literary figure called “numerical progression”. What kind of message does this literary figure communicate here? Why is the person who waits faithfully to the end called “blessed”? What did Jesus teach about one’s waiting for the end? What if there will be a seeming delay in the coming of the end? What will the wise and faithful servant do in that case? (See Matthew 24:42-51).
  • Daniel 12:13. The last words in the book are spoken by a heavenly messenger to the aged prophet. What did he mean when he said “go your way till the end”? The closing words contain the promise of a special inheritance. What is the meaning of the phrase “allotted inheritance”? Should this promise be related to verses two and three of this chapter, where the resurrection to everlasting life is mentioned and compared to the astral perennial ability to emanate light?

Lessons for Life

Is it possible that our fear from the coming future “tribulation” may make us forget the fact that Michael continually stands to protect us who are his people? Verse two talks of only two ways people will be resurrected: to the everlasting life, or to shame and everlasting contempt. How many people today wish there was a third way? Does it feel like sometimes in life that the Second Coming of Christ is being “delayed”? Can this part of the book of Daniel help a believer cope with that type of situation? How can the promise of receiving our “allotted inheritance” be more precious than all the things our materialistic age offers today?

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