Take a moment to pray. Ask God to speak to you through his word—for his Spirit to convict you of sin, teach you the truth, and lead you in walking by faith.
Setting the Scene
Death, thou art not death! Grave, thou art no grave!
-C. H. Spurgeon
The end of our lives in this present age isn’t the end. This truth is simultaneously simple and profound, clear and confusing. It is the clear assertion of the Bible, and as such it instantaneously changes how we view our lives.
If YOLO (you only live once) is a thing, then dying as a martyr is a tragedy, suffering for your faith is a tragedy, living with chronic illness is a tragedy, losing the battle to cancer is a tragedy, being the victim of sin is a tragedy, enduring great trials is a tragedy.
But the saying should really be: YOLT (you only live twice). We live, and should the Lord tarry, we will die. But we will rise. The particulars of our resurrection make all the difference: will it be a resurrection unto life or death?
Daniel’s fourth vision concluded with hard words about future suffering, but in God also promised the hope of the resurrection. The epilogue to this vision focuses Daniel’s heart on his responsibility in the present, in light of the future.
As we read this passage, we need to remember that our approach to the present, especially in trials and suffering, must be informed by our understanding of the future. Because God is sovereign, and the resurrection will really happen, we have a living hope in the present.
Dan. 12:5 Then I, Daniel, looked, and two others were standing there, one on this bank of the river and one on the other. 6 One of them said to the man dressed in linen, who was above the water of the river, “How long until the end of these wondrous things?” 7 Then I heard the man dressed in linen, who was above the water of the river. He raised both his hands toward heaven and swore by him who lives eternally that it would be for a time, times, and half a time. When the power of the holy people is shattered, all these things will be completed.
The epilogue returns to the banks of the Tigris, where the vision was given. There were two angels there, one on each bank and another person, the “man clothed in linen.” It is not clear who the man in linen is- whether he is an angel or if he is divine, although his response seems to indicate that he is distinct from the one who lives eternally.
One of the angel’s asks essentially the same question as in Dan. 8:13-14, “When will all this be over?” The raising of one hand was the sign of taking an oath, and therefore sure answer is 3.5 years. The holy are believing Israel, and thus when their “power” has been broken the time will come to pass.
Dan. 12:8 I heard but did not understand. So I asked, “My lord, what will be the outcome of these things?”
Dan. 12:9 He said, “Go on your way, Daniel, for the words are secret and sealed until the time of the end. 10 Many will be purified, cleansed, and refined, but the wicked will act wickedly; none of the wicked will understand, but those who have insight will understand. 11 From the time the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination of desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days. 12 Happy is the one who waits for and reaches 1,335 days. 13 But as for you, go on your way to the end; you will rest, and then you will stand to receive your allotted inheritance at the end of the days.”
Daniel didn’t understand, so he asked for specifics. What would the outcome be? The act of sealing means the message has been given, and should be passed along for the generations who will need it. There will not be any further explanation, until the end.
The answer for Daniel is simple: walk on. The wicked will act wickedly, the sanctified will be refined. The purification, whitening, and refining is a reference to suffering persecution.
Answering the “how long” question, the angel says from the time the burnt offering stops and the abomination that makes desolate is setup there will be 1,290 days, which is roughly 3.5 years (1277.5 on a 365 day year, 1260 on a 360 day year).
Either these numbers relate specifically to the time between Antiochus IV’s blasphemy in 167 until the temple’s rededication in 164, or it is a reference to the future tribulation during the end times. This time frame could be taken literally, or as a symbolic reference to a short but necessary time of suffering.
What are the extra 45 days for? It’s not clear. The overall point is that God is sovereign over the future. The blessing comes to believers, but they will need to persevere in spite of the persecution and suffering.
The final word to Daniel relates to him specifically, but echoes the conclusion of the vision: you will be resurrected. So he should keep on serving God as he had been. His allotted place has been fixed by God, and he has assurance of standing in the end.
As Tremper Longman states, “by these words, God gives Daniel and all of his heirs the confidence to persist in the light of continuing persecution and trouble.”
The Big Picture
Our hope for resurrection is directly tied to the resurrection of Jesus. Peter praised God for this hope. He said, “Because of his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Our hope is a living hope because Jesus is a living savior.
Even Jesus’ death gave life… and not only spiritual life. Just after he describes Jesus’ death on the cross, Matthew tells us, “The tombs were also opened and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. And they came out of the tombs after his resurrection, entered the holy city, and appeared to many” (Matthew 27:52-53). What happened? Jesus died and rose from the dead, and no one can stop that power.
Likewise, Paul tells us, “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, in the same way, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.“ Our long term future is guaranteed to be eternal life in Christ, and no one can take that away.
Taking It Home
So we walk on. That’s the angelic instruction to Daniel: “go on your way.” But how long will the trial be? Keep moving. How hard will it be? Carry on. Why does it have to be this way? God is sovereign. What about if I die? You will rise.
We all have these questions, but God often chooses not to give us answers. Instead he calls us to look to him in faith. I don’t know what your trial is, but if you’ve put your faith in Jesus, I know what your future is: life.
The angel encouraged Daniel with two promises to help him carry on. First, he told him, “You will rest.” Rest is exactly what we want in the midst of the trial. Peace. Calm. Resolution. Contentment. This is what God promises us in Christ. The author of Hebrews tells us, “a Sabbath rest remains for God’s people.” You may not get the rest as soon as you would like, but it is coming.
Second, the angel told Daniel he would stand to receive his inheritance. Peter echoes this promise when he describes our bulletproof inheritance in heaven. Paul calls us co-heirs with Christ, which means we will share in his glory. This promise is so much better than the things we chase in this world.
The picture is vivid: you will stand in the gathered people of God, raised from the dead to eternal life, and you will receive the blessing of an eternally satisfying inheritance. So we walk on.
Not everyone will persevere. The wicked sell out. The wicked give in to peer pressure. The wicked want to survive, so they compromise. The wicked only see temporal gain. They believe you only live once.
But the wise stand out. The wise will shine. The wise will be raised unto eternal life. It’s time for us to live like we only live twice.
- Praise Jesus that he not only died for our sins, but that he rose from the dead. Praise him for his power over death.
- Ask God to give you faith in the midst of your trials. Ask him to grow your confidence in his work and his promises.
- Ask God to help you walk in a manner worthy of his calling of you. Praise him that you have a living hope because Jesus is a living savior.