Daniel 10–12 is a single vision that begins with the assurance of God’s love (ch. 10), continues with a revelation of world empire succession that will include great trials and martyrdom for God’s people (ch. 11), and concludes with a promise of resurrection and heavenly rest for the faithful (ch. 12). Some commentators place the events of chapter 12 entirely at the end times. The events more likely are primarily a continuation of chapter 11’s description of the period associated with Antiochus IV Epiphanes but are conflated with details of the final days when all believers will enter their eternal rest.

After a time of great suffering, God will send Michael to deliver his people (10:1). The deliverance includes resurrection to “everlasting life” (12:2) for all whose names are written in the book of life (cf. 7:10; 10:2–3). Those not in the book of life are raised to “everlasting contempt” (12:2). Daniel is to seal this knowledge in a book until the end comes and there is sufficient basis for its full understanding. By these words God tells his people all they need to know to endure the trials and martyrdom many will face; i.e., life everlasting awaits those who depend on him rather than their own wisdom or ways.

This is a key Old Testament text undergirding the more explicit New Testament teaching of the resurrection of the dead. The New Testament is so much clearer on this gospel doctrine because it is written on the other side of the life, teaching, death, and resurrection of Jesus himself (e.g., cf. Matt. 22:29–32). Paul explains that Christ is “the firstfruits” of the end-time resurrection from the dead (1 Cor. 15:20–23). That is, Jesus’ resurrected body is the first instalment of the coming great harvest of the redeemed (restored in body and spirit)—in which all those united to Christ will inevitably be included.

Daniel asks how long the time of great suffering will take to be completed. A heavenly messenger clothed in linen says the span will be three and a half years (i.e., “times” [12:7]). Even Daniel does not understand precisely what this means (v. 8), but the messenger urges him to be content with the fact that God has determined the time, despite the future need for some to “be refined” by suffering and death (12:10). 

To give Daniel further confidence that God remains in control despite the trials to come, the messenger refines the time frame (1,290 days) between the ending of temple sacrifices and the profaning of the temple (cf. 11:31). Then the angel adds another 45 days to the 1,290 (totalling 1,335 days) that God’s people will have to persevere before their deliverance (12:12). The specificity indicates God’s comprehensive knowledge of what will come, and is the basis for Daniel’s (and our) perseverance through trials because of the certainty that we “shall rest and shall stand in [our] allotted place at the end of the days” (12:13).

We follow a crucified Saviour to a heavenly rest. The path has inescapable pain, but the end is eternal, blessed, and sure.

* Taken from ESV Gospel Transformation Bible.

This week’s bible reading schedule:

Monday: Daniel 10 Thursday: Romans 1
Tuesday: Daniel 11 Friday: Romans 2
Wednesday: Daniel 12 Saturday: Romans 3