Relevant Verse: Daniel 12
Leading Question: Are you watching the clock or the clouds?
Daniel 12 brings the vision to a close with the intervention of Michael in time of unprecedented distress. The deliverance comes to those whose names are written in the book and it comes by resurrection, a rather rare concept in the Hebrew Bible. Death meant to sleep in sheol where no one would praise God (Pss 6:5; 30:9; 115:16–17). However, resurrection is a metaphor in Ezekiel 37 for Israel’s restoration, and in Daniel 12 we read of an actual individual resurrection. For Christians, the hope of resurrection is grounded in the completed work of Jesus Christ. Because He suffered, died and was buried, rose again, and ascended to heaven, we have hope. Because he came and suffered, we have a great High Priest who can intercede for us throughout this life (Hebrews 4:14–15).
In Daniel’s vision, the linen-clad man, the High Priest, stood “above the waters of the river,” while two angels stood on opposite banks. One asked a question we have heard before, “How long?” (Daniel 12:6; cf. 8:13). The response we have heard too, “A time, times, and half a time” (Daniel 12:7; cf. 7:25). Daniel seems to not understand, and so he asked in another way about the outcome of all he had seen. Here, Daniel 12 connects with another prophet who also persisted in asking questions about things that didn’t make sense, about God’s way of dealing with justice in the world (Habakkuk 2:1–20). God responded to Habakkuk that judgment would come, but it might take a while.
Then the LORD answered me and said,
“Record the vision
And inscribe it on tablets,
That the one who reads it may run.
For the vision is yet for the appointed time;
It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
For it will certainly come, it will not delay.”
Hints of the text in Habakkuk run throughout Daniel’s final revelation: it was a vision for a time to come (Daniel 10:14); it awaited its appointed time (11:14, 27, 35); waiting was truly required (12:12), and had to do with some mysterious numbers (Daniel 12:11–12). The 1,290 days is the time between the abolishment of sacrifice and the abomination of desolation. The 1,335 days is the period of the “blessed” who keep on waiting. Stefanovic explaines, that when these two numbers are put together with the expression “time, times, and half a time” which in other places if said to be 1,260 days , then the three numbers, namely 1,260 days, 1,290 days, and 1,335 days appear in a progression and tell of the delay in the time of waiting (Daniel, 448). Doukhan adds, “waiting is the only way to survive. It is the last message Daniel hears from the angel: ‘Blessed is the one who waits’” (Secrets of Daniel, 189).
Just as Habakkuk needed to trust God to right all wrongs at the appointed time, so the reader of Daniel must trust that no matter how long the delay, God will one day judge the wicked and reward the righteous.
This vision challenges us in many ways. It is rooted in a complex history we hardly know, and it is riddled with interpretive difficulties. It transcends its historical setting of Daniel’s time, and yet it is not always clear to us how. Daniel himself failed to grasp all that he heard and saw in his visions (Daniel 12:8; cf. 7:28; 8:27), and that seemed to be no big problem with his heavenly visitors. The time when he “had an understanding of the vision” (Daniel 10:1) was not about numbers, days, and years, but when he recognized the linen-clad man and understood his mission: “to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy” (Daniel 9:24).
Questions: What is the main message for us at the end of the book of Daniel? How can we draw comfort from this conclusion to the book of Daniel? How does this parallel Revelation and the conclusion of the great controversy?