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In this essay we are studying Daniel 12:5-13, which will complete our study of the Book of Daniel. In the next essay I am going to break out of our pattern of studying individual biblical books and begin a study of Christian theology.
I want to begin today’s lesson with chapter 12, verse four, because it contains an instruction for Daniel rather than an additional revelation. Daniel was to “close up and seal” the vision in the sense of preserve it, because it was for the time of the end, not just for Daniel’s day. In addition, the command refers to the entire book, not just the final vision.
When the visitor said, “many will go here and there to increase knowledge,” most evangelical scholars believe that the Hebrew means that people would “run here and there” in the book rather than literally, and gain knowledge from it.
In verse five two additional beings appeared on either bank of the river. Most believe they were angels. Although the Hebrew is a bit uncertain, it appears that one of the two additional beings asked the question in verse six rather than Daniel. In any case, there are differing interpretations of who was conversing with Daniel in these final verses. Some believe it was the man clothed in linen, and other believe it was one of the two angels.
It seems to me that since the one who spoke with Daniel was “above the waters of the river,” rather than on one of the banks; and since he is described as “a man clothed in linen,” as was the visitor by the Tigris in 10:5, I believe that it was the same visitor continuing the revelation, rather than one of the two angelic visitors have just come on the scene.
The question asked of the visitor was, “How long will it be before these astonishing things are fulfilled”? After swearing an oath by “him who lives forever,” he answered “that it will be for a time, times, and half a time,” literally “a seven, two sevens, and half a seven.” And then the visitor told Daniel that the events of that time period will be complete when the power of God’s holy people is finally broken. You may recall that “a seven, two sevens, and half a seven” also was the length of time given in 7:25 as the duration of the oppression of the little horn king.
As we see, Daniel heard the answer; but he did not understand it. So he asked for clarification in verse eight. But the visitor told Daniel to be on his way, because the revelation was “closed up and sealed until the time of the end.” Thus we see that, the first thing Daniel was told was a reminder that the prophecies were for the end time rather than Daniel’s time (v. 9).
Then second, Daniel was reminded that the suffering of the faithful will purify them; and that the wise will understand God’s prophecies. But the unfaithful, the wicked, never will understand them (v. 10).
Then in verse 11, the visitor returned to the question about duration asked of him back in verse six. And he did that by tying it into the “abomination that causes desolation,” which we saw earlier in the letter referred to the reign of Antiochus IV, who was a type of the Antichrist.
Dispensationalists further tie this statement to the broken covenant that takes place in the middle of the 70th week in chapter nine. You will recall that they believe that the 70th week is the Great Tribulation.
This means that for the Dispensationalists, the twelve hundred and ninety days in verse 11, and the thirteen hundred and thirty-five days in verse 13 both will begin in the middle of the 70th week. The first period will carry 30 days beyond the end of the Great Tribulation, and the second 45 days beyond its end.
According to Leon Wood, a prominent dispensationalist, the extra 30 days are to allow time for the final judgment; and the extra 45 days are to allow time to organize the government of the Millennium. Other scholars interpret the numbers symbolically. They believe that the numbers simply represent the oppression of Antiochus as a type of the end time Antichrist.
Now then, we are ready to look at the parallel imagery in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in chapter two, and the visions given to Daniel in chapters 7, 8, 9, and 10-12. We will first look at the data from the various visions, and then we will try to make some sense out of it.
If you turn to chapter 2, you will find Nebuchadnezzars dream. It was of a statue whose head was gold; its breast and arms were silver; its belly and thighs were bronze; its legs were iron; and its feet (obviously including 10 toes) were of iron and clay. Then in the vision, a stone which was cut by no human hand struck the statue and destroyed it.
In the interpretation of the dream, the head of gold was identified as Nebuchadnezzar himself, and the others as succeeding, inferior kingdoms that were not identified by name. The stone was identified as the Kingdom of God that will one day destroy the kingdoms of the earth. The Kingdom of God is a kingdom that will never end. This “leap” to the end-time, as we have called it, is standard in all of the visions.
The vision in chapter seven was of a series of four beasts. The first was like a lion, the second like a bear, the third like a leopard, but the fourth was not likened to an animal. The fourth beast had 10 horns. And from those horns arose a little horn. And then the son of man came, which of course was the leap to the end time.
We learned in the interpretation of that vision that the beasts, like the various parts of the statue in chapter two, represented succeeding kingdoms. Details were provided in the vision that established parallels between the four beasts and the first four parts of the statue. And the bringing of the Kingdom of God by the Son of Man was the leap to the end-time.
The major difference between the dream of chapter two and the vision of chapter seven was that the vision of chapter seven added something; namely, the little horn. The ten toes on the statue are paralleled by the 10 horns, but there is no parallel to the little horn of chapter seven in chapter two.
Next, in chapter eight Daniel was given a vision of a ram with two horns, one higher than the other, that was attacked by a goat from the West. The goat had one conspicuous horn; and when it attacked the ram, it broke the horns of the ram.
Later, the conspicuous horn itself was broken; and four horns arose in its place. And out of one of the four arose another horn. Here we notice a difference between chapters two and seven. There is no reference to a symbol representing ten kings. Rather the vision moves from the four horns to another horn that grew large.
The interpretation was more specific in this instance. The ram was identified as Media and Persia, the goat as the king of Greece, that is, Alexander the Great, and the four horns as the four kingdoms that arose after his death. The horn that arose from the four and grew large was not identified by name; but the revealed information indicates that it represented Antiochus IV at one level, and the end-time Antichrist at the end-time level.
The leap to the end-time in this vision indicates that the Antichrist will be broken, “but by no human hand.” Note the same language as in the leap to the end time in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, where the stone representing the kingdom of God was cut with no human hand..
In chapter nine Daniel was given the vision that usually is called “the vision of the seventy weeks.” That vision is totally different from the others. The only thing that is the same is that like the others it ends up with a leap to the end. As it usually is interpreted, it actually extends over the entire period from Nebuchadnezzar to the end time, but its events take place at the end time.
The final vision is found in chapters 10-12. We studied it in the last three essays. It began with four successive kings of Persia followed by a mighty king of Greece (Alexander), who was followed in turn by Kings of the North and South, who were descendants of two of the four generals who divided Alexander’s kingdom after his death.
Then came the prophecy of the kings leading up to the time of Antiochus IV, which in turn were followed by Antiochus himself. And the record of Antiochus was followed by the typical leap to the end time, when the end time King of the North will be destroyed.
Now as I said earlier, there are alternative interpretations of the four successive empires. I have given the interpretation that I believe best interprets the book. The kingdoms symbolized are the Babylonian, the Medo-Persian, the Greek (meaning Alexander the Great), and Alexander’s successors.
One very common alternative is to interpret them as the Babylonian, the Medo-Persian, the Greek, and the Roman empires. This is especially common among Dispensationalists, because they anticipate that the end time Antichrist will head a revived Roman Empire, or at least an empire that will rise out of the cultural deposit of the Roman empire, namely Europe.
The main problem with this view is that none of the revelation found in Daniel, apart from that dealing with the end time, goes beyond the second century B.C., which was the time of Antiochus IV. And the Romans were only marginally on the scene at that time.
Still another alternative is to split the Medes and Persians. Thus the four are interpreted to be the Babylonian, the Median, the Persian, and the Greek. This view is not so common.
Well, that is our study of Daniel. God told Daniel that most of what he revealed was “for days yet to come” (10:14), rather than for Daniel’s time. And in part it was for “the time of the end” (11:40; 12:9).