Chapter Twelve The Time Of The End

This final chapter is intimately connected with the activity of the previous chapter. “At that time”—that is, at the time of the rise of the antichrist and the overthrow of the Assyrian or king of the North—“shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy [Daniel’s] people” (1). There is very likely a close connection here with what we have recorded in Revelation 12. There John sees war in Heaven. The dragon and his angels fight to maintain their place in the upper air where they may have access to the presence of God so that Satan, the accuser of Zechariah 3, may still resist the Jews—a remnant of whom will have turned to the Lord. But the time having come when God will act openly on their behalf, Michael and his angels are sent to expel the Satanic hosts from Heaven. Defeated above, the devil turns to vent his wrath on the remnant, the seed of the woman; this is Israel, who is seen in the beginning of the chapter and “from whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came.” He and His church, together represented in the man child, will have been caught up to God and to His throne; there will no longer be found on earth anyone rightfully bearing the name of Christian. But the fullness of the Gentiles having come in, the Jews will be grafted back into their own olive tree; to them will be committed the testimony for the time of the end. All the malice of the devil will be directed against this remnant—”And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time” (Daniel 12:1). At that time Daniel’s people will be delivered, not all who were Jews by natural birth, but “every one that shall be found written in the book.” These are they whose names are written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, for them the earthly kingdom has been prepared.

Tested by the proclamation of the everlasting gospel on the one hand and the placing of the abomination that causes desolation on the other, there will be a national and religious awakening by those who have been spiritually asleep for so long. The second verse does not, I believe, speak of an actual physical resurrection, but rather of a moral and national one: “Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” It is the same kind of language that is used both in Isaiah 26:12-19 and Ezekiel 37 to describe Israel’s national and spiritual revival. For centuries they have been sleeping in the dust of the earth, buried among the Gentiles. Their awakening will have taken place at last. For some it will be to everlasting life and blessing in the glorious kingdom of the Son of man soon to be established; for the apostates it will be to everlasting shame and contempt because of their submission to the beast and the anti-christ.

Then the wise (that is, the teachers among the remnant, the same class who are referred to in the latter part of verse 10) will “shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever” (3). While these words refer primarily to the faithful of Judah in that day, we also may find encouragement and cheer in them. “He that winneth souls is wise” (Proverbs 11:30); or as the Revised version puts it, “He that is wise winneth souls.” May ours be the wisdom that leads us to walk so as to commend the gospel of Christ to all with whom we come in contact; may we indeed be winners of souls, turning many to righteousness.

Daniel was told to shut up the words and seal the book, even to the time of the end. This is in marked contrast with the message of the angel to the apostle John at the close of the book of Revelation: “And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand” (Revelation 22:10). The present age or church period is looked at as being but a moment, so to speak, in the ways of God. Messiah having come and been rejected by Israel, the next thing in prophetic order is the time of the end. If this dispensation continues a little longer, it is only an evidence of God’s long-suffering to sinners; He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should turn to Him and live (2 Peter 3:9).

Throughout the New Testament, the end is always looked on as having drawn near; therefore, through the book of Revelation, the seal is removed, as it were, from the book of Daniel, and the latter prophecy is found to be the key to the former. Daniel 12:4 closes with the statement that “many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” Could anything more aptly depict the chief characteristics of these last days? Men seem to have a mania for traveling from place to place, and human inventions of all kinds are pressed into service to accelerate and make comfortable those who run to and fro. Coupled with this we have the ever-widening diffusion of the media, so that knowledge of all kinds is increased. May we not see in these things an evidence that we have almost reached the special prophetic period called the “time of the end”?

From the fifth verse to the end of our chapter we seem to have an appendix. The writing of the “scripture of truth,” which the angel began to unfold in the beginning of chapter 11, was concluded in Daniel 12:4. What follows gives additional light as to times and seasons. The awe-inspiring being described in chapter 10 is still with Daniel, but two other angels appear on the scene also, one standing on each bank of the river. One of these speaks to the man clothed in linen and asks: “How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?” (6) He is evidently referring to the great tribulation and he inquires its actual duration. The answer is given with great solemnity that it will be “for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished” (7). This agrees with the times given in 7:25, during which the little horn was to be permitted to speak great things against the Most High and try to change times and laws. At the expiration of this time judgment would fall and the little horn’s dominion be taken away. This is of course the premillennial warrior-judgment described in Revelation 19. The angel’s declaration that “when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished,” refers undoubtedly to this little horn’s violent persecution of the remnant; it will be followed by the revelation of Messiah.

Daniel heard but did not understood (8). Through the book of Revelation God has now unfolded all this, in order that we may more fully understand His ways. The prophet was told to go his way, “for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end” (9). In that time, “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” (10).

Two other time-prophecies complete the book. We know from other passages that the great tribulation commences when the daily sacrifice is taken away and the abomination that causes desolation is set up, as foretold in verse 11. This is the verse, not 11:31, to which our Lord referred in His great prophecy in Matthew 24. We have seen that the tribulation is to last “for a time, times, and an half,” equivalent to three and a half years or twelve hundred and sixty days. But in Daniel 12:11 we learn that from the beginning of this tribulation, there will be a thousand two hundred and ninety days. The extra thirty days will doubtless be devoted to the purging out of the kingdom of all things that offend and do iniquity. But the Lord will appear on behalf of the remnant and for the destruction of the beast and antichrist at the end of the twelve hundred and sixty days. An even longer period is given in verse twelve: “Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days.” Some have suggested that this would carry on the time to the celebration of the first millennial feast of tabernacles (Zechariah 14:16-21). At any rate it clearly points us on to the full establishment of the kingdom in power and glory.

Until then Daniel is told to go his way, but the promise is given him, “Thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days” (13). It is not likely that the prophet lived very much longer, as he would be past ninety years, perhaps almost a century old. Soon he was called from a scene in which he had lived to see many of his own prophecies fulfilled. His life began in the land of Judah. He died an exile, though honored and respected, in the land of the stranger. He held positions of trust and confidence under Nebuchadnezzar, Darius, and possibly Cyrus. He saw the rise and fall of Babylon—the head of gold and the lion with eagle’s wings. He beheld the sudden rise and accession to supreme power of the silver breast and arms—the ferocious bear that raised itself up on one side. During its season of domination he passed away to rest, not in unconscious sleep, but in Abraham’s bosom. There he will wait with all the faithful until the voice of Michael the archangel is heard, at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him; for it is written of Old Testament saints that “they without us should not be made perfect” (Hebrews 11:40). Answering the assembling-shout of the Lord in that hour of triumph, Daniel’s body will rise from its unknown grave in glory and incorruption. He will take his place with Him for whose sake he had borne reproach so often in his life of faithful devotion to God. Thus he will stand in his lot in the place appointed him, after all his works have been shown at the judgment seat of Christ.

He will behold the rise and destruction of the last beast, dreadful and terrible in its ten-horned condition. Daniel will see the once-rejected Stone fall from Heaven in judgment on the feet of the image of “the man of the earth”; he will see the Son of man coming, as “a Lamb that looked as though it had been offered in sacrifice” (Revelation 5:6, Weymouth’s translation). The Lamb will receive from the hands of the Ancient of days the seven-sealed scroll of the title deeds to this world. Among that holy number of crowned priests who prostrate themselves at His feet, none will join more loudly or more understanding^ in the song of redemption and glory than the one-time captive who “purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself (Daniel 1:8). When the King of kings rides forth, clothed in a robe dipped in blood, Daniel will follow in his train as an intelligent witness of all God’s ways in judgment, concerning which he once heard but understood not. In the kingdom of glory to follow, Daniel who had stood before kings, will stand in the presence of the Prince of the kings of the earth in the lot appointed him.

And in that day, all who have esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of earth—all who have been content to suffer for righteousness’ sake—all who have witnessed the good confession—will reign in life with Him who was the arch-sufferer on earth, the most misunderstood of all that noble race “of whom the world was not worthy” (Hebrews 11:38).

These things are all written in “the Scripture of truth.” The day of their fulfillment is near. The Judge stands at the door. Soon the mighty and glorious miracle that will close up this age of grace and introduce the coming hour of trial will be performed by omnipotent power. I refer to the resurrection of the dead in Christ and the translation of the living saints. Not one will be left behind; God has ordained that, just as the flood of old could not take place until Noah and all his household were safe in the ark, so not one seal of the book to be taken by the Lamb can be broken, not a trumpet blown, not a vial of wrath poured out, until all the redeemed of this dispensation with all the saints of the past are safely gathered around the Lord in Heaven.

Each believer may truthfully use the solemnly precious words of Dr. Bonar as his own:

I murmur not that now a stranger
I pass along the smiling earth;
I know the snare, I dread the danger,
I hate the haunts, I shun the mirth.

My hopes are passing upward, onward,
And with my hopes my heart has gone;
Mine eye is turning skyward, sunward,
Where glory lightens round yon throne.

My spirit seeks its dwelling yonder;
And faith foredates the joyful day,
When these old skies shall cease to sunder
The one dear love-linked family.

To light, unchanging and eternal,
From mists that sadden this bleak waste,
To scenes that smile, forever vernal,
From winter’s blackening leaf I haste.

Earth, what a sorrow lies before thee!
None like it in the shadowy past;
The sharpest throe that ever tore thee,—
Even though the briefest and the last.

I see the fair moon veil her lustre,
I see the sackcloth of the sun;
The shrouding of each starry cluster,
The three-fold woe of earth begun.

I see the shadow of its sunset;
And wrapt in these the Avenger’s form;
I see the Armageddon-onset;
But I shall be above the storm.

There comes the moaning and the sighing,
There comes the hot tear’s heavy fall,
The thousand agonies of dying;
But I shall be beyond them all.

The great tribulation cannot begin while the members of Christ’s body are still on the earth, for the Lord says to the church of this dispensation: “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth” (Revelation 3:10). This applies to all Christians, for one who does not endure patiently is not His.

The earthly history of the church will end when “the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). We will be with Him forever.

On our departure to Heaven the great clock of prophecy will again begin ticking off the times and seasons. A remnant from the people of Israel will be born again; gathered out from the mass, they will become the Lord’s witnesses on earth in the time of the end. Mr. A. E. Booth has likened the course of time to a railroad track. Sometimes I have traveled on the railway on an ordinary train, with local stops to be made according to schedule. But a special or express has been sent out behind us, and we have been shunted on to a side track until the limited express has gone by. Then the signals direct us to once more get on to the mainline and complete our regular course. Israel may be likened to the local train, running along through the course of the years according to prophecy. But when Messiah appeared and they rejected Him and crucified the Lord of glory (at the expiration of the 69 weeks of Daniel 9), they were turned off on the side track. They have been waiting there ever since, while the special of the dispensation of the grace of God—the limited church-express—has been going by. When it has passed on and left the main track clear, God is going to give the signal, and the old Jewish local train will take to the track again. It will fulfill the balance of its schedule according to the seventieth week of the prophecy referred to above, and in fact all the prophecies that have to do with the time of the end.

Those of us who are saved by God’s sovereign grace are on the church-express; we are to be a heavenly people throughout the millennium and to all eternity. Israel after the flesh are the earthly people, but they have forfeited all title to blessing through disobedience. Still God is determined to carry out His Word to give them a place of special privilege on the earth. He will renew a remnant of them by His Holy Spirit and His Word and will cleanse them from all filthiness and acknowledge them as His own once more. They will have their inheritance here on the earth, but the church and the Old Testament saints will have theirs in Heaven.

So all these dates—the times and the seasons that we have in Daniel and Revelation—have nothing to do with this present period, while the church-express is going by. They are part of the official schedule for the Jewish local train and will direct its movements when the limited church-train has passed on to glory. There is no timetable issued for the church-express; no one can say when it will get by. But I feel very certain that if you want to get aboard, you will have to do so soon, for everything points to a change of dispensations shortly. None are aboard that train except those who have been cleansed from their sins by the precious blood of Christ and sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. Are you certain that you are numbered among them? Do you know that you have been born from above and now possess life eternal? You cannot afford to be uncertain in regard to these things. They are too momentous, too solemn and serious for you to go on from day to day hoping everything will turn out all right in the end. In reality, everything in your life is all wrong if you are out of Christ—a stranger to the grace of God. What folly to trifle with matters of such grave importance trembling in the balance!

If you are unsaved, yet desirous of becoming a Christian, listen to the message of my Lord. He says: “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10, italics added). Let me link this with a verse in John’s first Epistle: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1:9). Observe carefully that in these two Scriptures there are two confessions God is calling on every soul to make: first confess your sins to God; then confess your Savior to men. Is it not simple? As a poor lost sinner you are invited to come to the God you have sinned against, admitting your guilt in His holy presence. When you come, He promises full forgiveness based on the finished work of His beloved Son, who bore the very sins you confess on the cross; in your place He endured the judgment due your sins. Believing this—resting on the testimony of the unchanging Word of God—you can turn to your old friends and former companions and say: “I now own the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior, and my Lord!” And He declares, “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32). Think of it: Confess Christ here, and He will confess you there; deny Him here, and He will deny you there!

Hasten to make the two confessions that will give you the right to say: “He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation” (Isaiah 61:10). Then, when Daniel stands in his lot at the end of the days, you too will stand in your lot among the redeemed company who will follow the Lamb wherever He goes. But if you persist in refusing Christ—if you go on denying His name—and die in your sins, you will have to stand in your lot before His judgment throne; you will hear the words of doom: “I know you not. Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:12,41). What awful words! Oh that they may never be spoken to you!

With this I close these studies in the book of Daniel. We have seen how wonderfully prophecy has been corroborated by human historical records of the past. Surely it has impressed us with the fact that not one word that God has spoken will ever fall to the ground. “He will not call back His words.” All that is written will be fulfilled regarding Israel and the church—God’s people and the nations—and each individual soul, whether saved or lost. “Heaven and earth shall pass away,” declared the Lord Jesus, “but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35). To keep His Word is to live. To refuse it is to die eternally! Let not Satan persuade any that God will be better than His Word; He will fulfill it to the letter, though man may think otherwise and hope for mercy apart from Christ.

The man may think that all is well,
And every fear be calmed:
He lives,—he dies,—he wakes in hell,—
Not only doomed, but damned.

To the Christian, the book of Daniel is a precious and soul-stirring record of the love and care of our gracious God. He always watches over and blesses His own no matter how dark the night. He has given us the sure word of prophecy as a light shining in the gloom until the day dawns and the Daystar arises in our hearts.