March 5, 2017 - MORNING WORSHIP
First Baptist Church of Manchester
The Final Vision
“How Long Before the End?”
(Part 3 of 3)
David Saylor March 5, 2017
READ DAN. 11:36-45
Child to parent: “How long before the end?” (Dan.12:6)
Last week we started The Final Vision of Daniel that runs from Chapter 10 to the end of the book (chapter 12). In the morning service we spent our time in Chapter 10, the introduction, and then in the evening we tackled the first 35 verses of Chapter 11. They form a unit because they cover the period of history from Daniels time to the rise and evil career of Antiochus Ephipnines IV. It is very interesting because the level of prophetic detail that God gave Daniel about the Seleucid and Ptolemaic kings and kingdoms is nothing short of impossible unless God is in it. (sermon is online and Dr. Dee Keith’s dissertation gives greater details.)
The Time of the End
But we still have the final section of this chapter and the verses in Daniel chapter 12 that go with it.
READ DAN. 12:1-4
And something strange and wonderful seems to start happening around verse 36 with what seems a fairly generic reference: “The king shall do as he pleases.” What king is this? The discussion of the contemptible person (above v.21) seems to expand.
Antiochus Epiphanes is still in the foreground, but a more distant vision of someone similar begins to enter into the prophecy - like when camera lens in a movie that has been focused on someone in the foreground begins to zoom out to someone in the background. And for a brief moment, we see features of both images until the background picture is in focus.
I’m perhaps getting ahead of myself. Let’s acknowledge that the interpretation of these verses are difficult, as every scholar or commentator acknowledges, and there are many views.
Do they relate to past history, as above or to events did? Or future? And since there have been great minds arrayed on all sides, it is wise to proceed carefully and with humility.
A couple of things to note.
In my opinion, the fact that there are, starting here, so many divergent interpretations is one the best evidences for concluding that the events referred to are still future. If the section were referring to past events, there is no reason it should not be as clear in talking about them as the earlier portions of the chapter are (last Sunday night – Dee Keith).
So should we then view them more symbolically like the “other” apocalyptic visions, where the details are not the focus?
In a book like this, there is never NOT another twist until it is finally completed. (Yogi –“It ain’t over until it’s over.”) We have previously “outlined” the book and said that first/last seven chapters; historical narrative/apocalyptic, etc. But we must NOTE that this vision (chapter 11-12) is NOT written in the traditional “apocalyptic” style that we have been seeing in other visions. No dragons, animal, monsters, etc. It is written in a narrative form and we saw last Sunday night a “one to one” correlation to true historical events.
I strongly but humbly suggest that the remaining verses must be taken in the same way as what has gone before. The earlier part of the chapter has spoken of kings and alliances and battles. We have been able to give specific names and dates to these predictions. The same thing should be true for this section, even though we have not yet witnessed the careers of those prophesied, and so cannot give them names. But we have no warrant suddenly to substitute a symbolic understanding of the words for a literal one.
There are three chief approaches to this section. The FIRST is that it IS continuing to speak of the career of Antiochus Epiphanes. The best argument for this is that there is no obvious break between verses 35 and 36. So when verse 36 begins, “The king will do as he pleases,” it is natural to identify this king as the last-mentioned king - Antiochus.
The difficulty is that unlike before, what is said in this section does not fit Antiochus’s known career.
For example, v. 45 speaks of this (future) king pitching his palatial tents between the sea and the holy mountain (Jerusalem) where he meets his end. This description of someone meeting his demise does not describe the place or nature of Antiochus’s death as other historians and the Bible signify (cf. 8:25). Apparently he died of some stomach distress (worms, ulcers, or poison).
If we look forward in the vision to the opening two verses of chapter 12, we learn that Daniel 12:1 (NIV)1 “At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise.
There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered.
Daniel 12:2 (NIV)2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.
There is going to be a judgment based on whose names are found in a book, and this will be followed by a resurrection. These prophecies definitely do not seem to be about Antiochus Epiphanes anymore!
Calvin and many others noticed this. It is more probable that Antiochus Epiphanes may be a type of a greater evil character prophesied for the last days—I believe that is the case—and the details must be about the later character and not Antiochus himself whose career is highlighted.
The SECOND view is that these verses prophesy part of the history of the early Roman Empire. This was Calvin’s view and we should not easily dismiss Calvin, certainly not me. But Calvin was not entirely satisfied with his own interpretation. For one thing, he refers to the “king” whose career is described in these verses, not to a specific individual, but to the “kingdom” or empire of the Romans as a whole. But if this is right, it is out of step with the way kings are referred to in the first part of the chapter. There “king” refers to a known individual. It should be the same here, in my judgment. Moreover, Calvin has difficulty fixing the details of each prophecy, another reason I have for saying that the prophesied events must be future.
The THIRD view is that these verses refer to the Antichrist who is said elsewhere to appear at the end of all things—just before the return of Jesus Christ.
There are a number of additional reasons for seeing the verses this way.
In verse 40 the angel speaks of “the time of the end,” (also v.35 & 12:4 & 9) which is neither the time of Antiochus Epiphanes or the time of the early Roman Empire. It refers to the end of the world immediately before the final judgment.
Again, the first verse of chapter 12 begins, “At that time,” which means “at the time just described.” But what is introduced in chapter 12? It is (1) a great persecution, (2) a general resurrection, (3) a final judgment, and (4) the final, eternal blessedness of the saints. THAT POINTS IT TO “THE END.” The end of time.
Most importantly, the Lord Jesus himself took these verses as applying to the last days. In Matthew 24 and 25. He said, “There will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again” (Matt. 24:21). In this section, Jesus’s only reference to the book of Daniel, he looks forward in v.15 to the abomination of desolation predicted, not backward to Antiochus’s profaning of the temple, but to the time of persecution immediately preceding his return.
That means (if correct) that the culminating prophesies in chapter 12 are describing the rise to power of a great tribulation of God’s people that is yet future to Antiochus. That is how Jesus also interpreted it (I trust Him).
And the Apostle Paul speaks of the coming of a contemptible “man of lawlessness … proclaiming himself to be God” with echoes of Daniel’s description (2 Thess. 2:3–4).
Also, the apostle John in the book of Revelation speaks of the coming beast who will “utter blasphemies against God,” “make war on the saints,” and seduce “everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb” (Rev. 13:5–8)—all occurring before a final great battle and then for the saints are resurrected to everlasting life (Rev. 20).
What I am suggesting is that Antiochus Epiphanes is a prototype of all that is “antichrist” to show us the pattern or the “spirit of the antichrist” (cf. 1 John 2:18; 4:3) in every age AND will culminate in greatest evil before the end of all ages.
Add in Ezekiel 38 and taking them together, I find that they refer to a great final world war immediately prior to the Lord’s return. Daniel refers to a great battle between the kings of the North and the South. He mentions Egypt particularly as well as Libya and Nubia. Ezekiel also mentions a group of southern nations, and he speaks of a great northern power.
If all of these are in the distant future for Daniel, the modern names would probably differ. Speculation of the exact nations has been the subject of myrads of discussion and changes over the years of history as believers in each age try to determine “if the end is in our day, who would they be?” I have never been convinced that this is profitable to do.
But when it does happen these nations will engage in a war, which in Revelation is called Armageddon (Nina stood in a place overlooking the valley of Meddigo when we were in Israel). That war is the referenced in 12:1a, followed by the final victory when the Lord Jesus Christ returns, subdues his and our enemies, and ushers in a kingdom that shall never be overturned or destroyed (vv. 1b-4). Hallelujah!
You are free to work out the details – you are bright people. – and form groups and have fun at lunch over the names… and add in 1,290 days and the 1,335 days (Daniel 12:11–12). There are enough guesses on those that we would need an entire morning to go over them!
Starting in 12:5, begins the postlude to the vision, which is another vision. And it contains a few more details of the main vision, but focuses on Daniel and his response in his remaining life (short).
Daniel 12:5–13 (NIV)5 Then I, Daniel, looked, and there before me stood two others (two angels?), one on this bank of the river and one on the opposite bank. 6 One of them said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, “How long will it be before these astonishing things are fulfilled?” 7
The man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, lifted his right hand and his left hand toward heaven, and I heard him swear by him who lives forever, saying, “It will be for a time, times and half a time. When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed.”
8 I heard, but I did not understand. So I asked, “My lord, what will the outcome of all this be?” 9 He replied, “Go your way, Daniel, because the words are closed up and sealed until the time of the end. 10 Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand.
11 “From the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination that causes desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days. 12 Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of the 1,335 days. 13 “As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance.”
We saw previously (Dan. 7:25), that the last half of the 70th “seven” of years is “a time, times, and half a time” (also Rev. 12:14), which is probably three and one-half years. It is also designated as 42 months (Rev. 11:2) or 1,260 days (Rev. 11:3).
How then can the variance of 30 days (1,290 compared with 1,260) be explained? (no scripture to help… conjecture)
Some suggest that the 30 days will extend beyond the end of the Tribulation, allowing for the judgment of Israel and the judgment of the nations.
Another possibility is that the 1,290 days will begin 30 days before the Antichrist will set up “the abomination that causes desolation” (Matt. 24:15) –perhaps with an announcement of what is coming?.
I do not know.
Well then, how about the one who waits for and lives to see the end of the 1,335 days? Again, only conjecture, and there are many…
This may mark the blessing of the Millennium;
or it may be when Christ, who will have appeared in the heavens (Matt. 24:30) 45 days earlier, will actually descend to the earth, His feet touching down on the Mount of Olives (cf. Acts 1:11)??
“What Shall the Righteous Do?”
But I want to end on another note. One that has been an undercurrent and then in the final verses the note surfaces as the last ringing note God wants to leave us on.
Years ago someone preached a sermon on Psalm 11:3, which asks the probing question: “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” The preacher asked that question and then answered, “Why, go on being righteous, of course!”
That is what God is saying to Daniel and to the saints in this.
The main application of these things on our lives is that we are to live for the Lord Jesus Christ today, and honor him regardless of the circumstances.
In the middle of Chapter 11 is one of my favorite Bible verses (v.32), though I prefer it in the King James Version. “But the people who know their God will firmly resist him” (Dan. 11:32).
The context is the reaction of faithful people under the yoke and persecution of Antiochus. They will be wise and they will be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time (v.35).
And the King James Version says it like this, “The people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.” I love that.
God thru Daniel is saying that there is always going to be wickedness in this world. There will always be wars and rumors of wars, famine, trouble, persecutions, and distress. He had them in his day. We have them in our day, and they will be present at the end of this age.
Spiritually the world is not going to get better and better resulting in a gradual bringing the Kingdom of God to earth (see 12:7c). Nevertheless, those who know God are to stand firm, live righteous lives, resist evil, and do exploits, as God prospers them.
Go Your Way
That’s what Daniel is told to do… As the book closes, Daniel is confused about the details and looks for guidance as to what to do with them? “God, what the “takeaway” from this?” Good question.
He doesn’t get answers to the details, but a directive about how to live.
V 9. He replied, “Go your way, Daniel, because the words are closed up and sealed until the time of the end.
Again in v. 13, 13 “As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance.”
God is saying, “Go on, Daniel. Til the end, live your life. Do not worry about the details – like all prophecy, it will become clear when it is fulfilled. But Daniel, “Go your way”. Keep on doing what you are doing faithfully. You shall rest (you’re gonna die) and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance Do not let present trials overwhelm your faith or your labor.
“You will die, you will rise again. The future? I’VE GOT IT COVERED – that’s all you need to know.” And when you think about it - that’s a lot to know!
What a finish to the book! Daniel, keep doing what your doing right to the end. You’re gonna die but death won’t be the end. I’ve got a place for you.
What do we want to say to one another? The “takeaway?” Same thing.
Go your way. Go now to lunch. Go from this book.
You will die, but in Christ you shall rise. He has a place for you.
Go your way. Our God has just told us thru the revelation given to Daniel everything that we need to know. “He’s got the whole world in His hands.”
Go your way. Go your way, and friends, let’s you and I be“The people that know their God and shall be strong, and do exploits.”
Go your way and do exploits for God in your life, in this world.
Go Love radically. Live faithfully. Speak boldly. Care for the hopeless and helpless.
Don Quixote– (Man from LaMancha)
(go) To fight for the right without question or cause
To be willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause (listen to the whole song on your own)
Why? Because God has said “I’VE GOT THIS!”
It changes everything. It changes the way you do your job. Changes the way you give an injection, the way you wait on tables, the way you figure out an engineering problem….
I’ve got this. Go your way.
Go your way with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Remember, There is only one secure place of safety – and that’s in Jesus Christ.
Acts 4:12 (NIV)12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
- Bryan Chapell, The Gospel according to Daniel: A Christ-Centered Approach (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2014), 193. ↑
- Bryan Chapell, The Gospel according to Daniel: A Christ-Centered Approach (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2014), 193–194. ↑
- Bryan Chapell, The Gospel according to Daniel: A Christ-Centered Approach (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2014), 194–195. ↑
- J. Dwight Pentecost, “Daniel,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 1374. ↑
- James Montgomery Boice, Daniel: An Expositional Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2003), 111–117. ↑