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Daniel 12:5-13: The End and The Outcome Print E-mail
Sunday, 25 November 2012

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Timing is everything, or at least that is what we are told. Political campaigns are built around this motto (as we have seen recently). Advertising companies bank on it (hoping that you will rush out at Midnight on Thanksgiving to secure the best Black Friday deals). The phrase can also be applied in other ways as well. In sports, everything has to come together at the right time to get the winning score. Or in music, all of the instruments have to be playing in time for the song to sound right (as I have been learning about lately with my work on our CD). Timing is indeed critical. Yet, all of these examples also show us that we humans are not always very good at ‘timing.’ Political candidates lose elections because their timing is off. Advertisers don’t get the sales they need. Athletes hit the last second shot, only to find out that they actually didn’t get the shot off in time. And musicians, especially musicians like me, realize that they don’t keep time real well as they play. We struggle with the timing of things.

However, God does not have such a struggle.  He appoints times and seasons and they always happen perfectly.  He raises up kings when they need to be raised up and He puts down kings when they need to be put down.  As we have heard all our lives, His timing is perfect.  The end of the book of Daniel deals with issue of God’s timing.  Daniel has received the vision from the angel in 11:2-12:4.  He then tells us that others were present on the river with him.  Look at verse 5.  We are not sure who this is, but it is probably the angels that have been mentioned in the book thus far (maybe Gabriel and Michael).  Yet, what they say brings the book of Daniel to a close and is an important message for Daniel (and for us).  Two questions about God’s timing and plan are put forward.  Let’s consider these questions this morning.

First, how long until the end of these wonders?

The first question in the passage is actually asked by one of the angels.  Look at verse 6.  Again, we are not clear on who exactly asked the question, but it does not impact its importance.  Daniel has been given a vision of wonders.  Some of them have already been fulfilled but others still await their fulfillment.  Of course, for Daniel they were all in the future.  He may have felt that they were all going to take place in the immediate future or he may have known that some were not going to happen for a long time.  Either way, he was interested in this question.  How long until all of these wonders took place?

The answer is given in verse 7.  Look at that verse with me.  First, we should note that the angel goes out of his way to show Daniel that the answer he is providing is trustworthy.  He does not just raise one hand but both hands to demonstrate this.  Furthermore, he swears by him who lives forever.  The answer that he is providing is trustworthy and true.  So what does he say?  In similar fashion to what has been said earlier in the book (7:25), the angel tells Daniel that a time, times, and half a time must pass before the end of these matters.  As we said before, such a phrase seems to indicate that the time is determined and that it is limited.  This present age will not last forever.  Some take these numbers to be literal, but I believe them to be symbolic.  The same can be said about the numbers given in verses 11-12.  Look at those with me.  It could be that these refer to the time of Antiochus IV, but it is difficult to match them with anything that took place historically.  Thus, it seems they point to the future and are meant to convey that God has set a time, a limited time, for these final days. 

The angel adds that the end will come when the shattering of the power of the holy people comes to an end.  What is this talking about?  Again, some see it as a reference to the time of Antiochus IV.  But it seems best to take at as a reference to the ultimate end, which will not come until the strength of God’s people is all but lost.  When it seems that the Church can no longer stand, the Lord will return to rescue His Bride.  We see this type of thing throughout redemptive history.  When Israel was backed up against the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s army was bearing down, only then did God rescue them.  When Jesus had been in the grave for days, only then did the angel announce: ‘He is not here, for He has risen.’  And at the end of days, when it seems that the enemy has prevailed over God’s people, only then will the Lord say: ‘Enough.’

All of this teaches us that God’s timing is perfect.  In one sense, the angel does not give a specific answer to the question.  We are not told the day and the hour.  But we are given what we need, namely the assurance that God has a perfect plan and perfect timing.  Our wait for His return will not be too long or too short.  His timing is always perfect.  The same is true for our individual lives as well. 

One of my commentator’s writes: “In the same way, our heavenly Father brings trials into our lives and exposes our brokenness in a variety of ways for exactly the right period of time.  He knows what challenges are necessary to move his work forward in our hearts, and for how long they need to be applied.” 1  The Lord’s timing is perfect for all of our lives and for all of history.  The Lord answers the question of how long simply: ‘Just enough.  Just enough to redeem my people and prepare them for eternity with me.’

Second, what shall be the outcome?

Daniel responds to the first answer with another question.  Look at verse 8.  Daniel is still trying to understand everything that he is being told.  He asks: “What shall be the outcome of these things?”  If Daniel is not going to know exactly when all of this will play out, he would like to know more about how it will play out.  He wants to know the outcome. 

Once again the angel provides an answer and once again it may not be what we expect.  He begins by telling Daniel that some things will be sealed up to the end.  Look at verse 9.  Daniel will not know everything completely.  Obviously we can look back now and see more than was revealed to Daniel.  Yet, as the angel indicates (and as John writes about in the book of Revelation), there is still more to come and more to be revealed.  So what is Daniel to do?  The angel tells him: “Go your way, Daniel.”  He is to keep doing what God has called him to do and he is not to let these prophecies of the future keep him from being faithful to the Lord today.  Rather, these visions are meant to encourage him to persevere. 

We see more of the call to persevere in verse 10.  Look at that with me.  As we saw in the book of Revelation, the biblical writers often break up all of humanity into two categories.  These categories will vary from writer to writer, but they are essentially the same: those who belong to God and those who do not.  The angel describes them as the pure and the wicked, or the wise and the foolish.  One group will purify themselves and make themselves white and refined.  The language being used here reflects the process for making gold.  In order for it to be pure, it must be refined, a process that involves burning away the dross, or impurities. 

The angel encourages Daniel by telling him that God’s people will survive.  They will go through suffering and difficulty, partly due to the wicked and their continual wicked actions.  But the Lord will use these trials to refine them.  As we have seen throughout the book, the wicked will not last.  Their days will come and go and they will never leave their folly.  But the righteous shall understand.  They will go through hard times knowing and trusting in God’s plan to purify them.

One final promise is given to Daniel.  Look at verse 13.  Daniel is to continue in his faithful following of the Lord.  He is to go his way and finish his race.  And once he is done, he will then rest and shall stand in your allotted place at the end of the days.  What a promise!  Daniel was told in the vision that God’s people would be raised from the dead at the end of time (see 12:2-3).  Here he is told that he will be numbered among them.  This is the ultimate outcome.  God will purify a people through fiery trials and will raise them to their promised inheritance.  We now even more about this promised rest.  The Son of Man has come.  He has lived a perfect life and died on the cross for our sins.  After three days in the grave, He rose victorious, defeating all of our enemies.  Through our faith in Him, we can share in the promise of future rest.  In Christ, we have all been allotted a glorious inheritance.  We will rest with Daniel through Christ.

What, then, is the overall message of the book of Daniel?  We could list a number of themes that are repeated in the book, but I want finish the book with just two main lessons.

First, no matter what is going on in our present circumstances, God is always in control. 2  When Daniel and his friends are brought to Babylon, the Lord blesses them and gives them wisdom and a way to serve.  When the king has a dream, God reveals the interpretation (an interpretation that further illustrates God’s control).  When the king claims the lives of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, the Lord makes it clear that their lives belong to Him.  Nebuchadnezzar is painfully taught the lesson that he is not in control.  Belshazzar sees it written on the wall and lives it out that night.  And vision after vision makes it plain that God is the one who is controlling all of history and all of our lives.  No matter the circumstances, God is still on the throne.

Second, God has a glorious plan to redeem and rescue a people.  Daniel is writing as a prisoner in Babylon.  Things do not go well for God’s people during his lifetime.  The visions reveal that worse times are still to come.  Yet, they also reveal that their suffering is not meaningless.  God is doing something.  He is establishing His eternal Kingdom.  He is providing forgiveness and atonement.  He is making a way for victory over death and eternal rest with Him.  All of these plans find their fulfillment in the work of Christ. 

Jesus inaugurated the coming of the Kingdom.  He atoned for our sins with His own blood on the cross.  He has promised that He will return and take His Bride to be with Him forever.  He is the heart of God’s plan to redeem and rescue a people.  And He has promised us, just like Daniel, that we must be refined through the fires of this life.  Yet, like Daniel, we are encouraged to ‘go our way,’ to be faithful in all that God has called us to in this life, to suffer knowing that it is never meaningless, and to persevere knowing that one Day we shall enter our rest and our allotted inheritance.  Amen.

1 Iain M. Duguid, Daniel REC (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2008), p. 217.
2 This theme is repeated in Tremper Longman III, Daniel NIVAC (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing, 1999).

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 05 December 2012 )

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