1 A Time of Distress 2 The Resurrection 3 Those Who Have Insight 4 The Book Must Be Sealed Up 5-7 How Long? 8-12 Last Teaching 13 A Word for Daniel Personally
A Time of Distress

1“Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands [guard] over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued.

The words at the beginning of the verse, “at that time”, make it clear that we are still in the same time of the previous verses, that is the end time. At the end of the previous chapter, we saw how much “the sons of your people”, the people of Daniel, the faithful remnant, will be oppressed. On the one hand, they are severely persecuted by their apostate fellow countrymen, which are the antichrist and the unbelieving mass. On the other hand, life is made unbearable for them by an enemy outside the people, the king of the North, who attacks and oppresses Jerusalem.

This oppression is called here “a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time”. It will be a time of unprecedented distress. The Lord Jesus, who calls this time the time of “a great tribulation”, also speaks of the fact that this time is unparalleled in world history (Mt 24:2121For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.; Jer 30:77‘Alas! for that day is great,
There is none like it;
And it is the time of Jacob’s distress,
But he will be saved from it.

While the distress of the faithful remnant is great because of the siege, that remnant receives support from the invisible world. To his encouragement, Daniel was told that his hard-tested fellow countrymen were being assigned someone who “stands” over them. That he ‘stands’ there, means that he is reliable and makes their case his own. He is there for them and is committed to them. They are not alone. With this announcement it becomes clear that the faithful remnant is not a plaything of the evil powers, although it may seem so. The actual warfare takes place in the heavenly places, as we saw in Daniel 8.

The outcome for “your people” is also given: they will be rescued. That too is a great encouragement. The salvation from all misery will happen. However, this salvation does not apply to all those who belong externally to God’s earthly people. The wicked mass will perish. The salvation, the rescue, is only the part of “everyone who is found written in the book”. These are those who are known to God as His own and whose “names are recorded in heaven” (Lk 10:2020Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.”), “in the Lamb’s book of life” (Rev 21:2727and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.; 13:88All who dwell on the earth will worship him, [everyone] whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.).

The Resurrection

2Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace [and] everlasting contempt.

In the previous verse it is about the people of God in the land in the end time and especially about the faithful remnant. It is about the Israelites in the land who have escaped persecution and who will enter alive in the kingdom of peace. It is also indicated that they are known by God. He wrote them in His book. That borders them off from all those who are not written in His book: that is the unbelieving, apostate mass.

In verse 22Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace [and] everlasting contempt. it is about those of God’s people who “sleep in the dust of the ground” outside the promised land, that means, that they have died (cf. Gen 3:1919By the sweat of your face
You will eat bread,
Till you return to the ground,
Because from it you were taken;
For you are dust,
And to dust you shall return.”
; Psa 22:16b16For dogs have surrounded me;
A band of evildoers has encompassed me;
They pierced my hands and my feet.
). Here it says “many”, because it is not about all deceased people, but about the deceased from Israel. They will all awaken. But we also see a division in that group. This division appears when they “will awake”, i.e. when arise. There are “these” who awake “to everlasting life” and there are “others” who awake “to disgrace [and] everlasting contempt” (cf. Mt 25:4646These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”).

These who awake to everlasting life will share in the blessing of the kingdom of peace (cf. Psa 133:3b3It is like the dew of Hermon
Coming down upon the mountains of Zion;
For there the LORD commanded the blessing—life forever.
). Everlasting life here is the atmosphere of life, life in a fearless glory, without pain and sorrow, with only pleasure in fellowship with the Lord Jesus, the reigning Prince of Peace. These awakened ones are not in the earthly part of the kingdom of peace – that is for those who enter the kingdom of peace alive – but in the heavenly part of it (Mt 13:43a43Then THE RIGHTEOUS WILL SHINE FORTH AS THE SUN in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.).

By describing the part of the unbelievers as “to disgrace [and] everlasting contempt” the contrast with that glory is presented in the sharpest and most poignant way. The fate of the lost is as everlasting as that of those who have been saved. And as glorious as the destiny of the elect is, so terrible is the destiny of the lost. On the basis of this verse, both the doctrine of universalism or universal salvation and that of the annihilation of the soul is clearly contrary to God’s Word and therefore reprehensible.

It is important to point out that the resurrection to everlasting or eternal life and the resurrection to everlasting or eternal horror will not take place at the same time. There is no such thing in Scripture as a general resurrection of believers and unbelievers together at the same time. On the contrary, Scripture speaks of a “first resurrection” (Rev 20:5b5The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection.), making it clear that there is another resurrection.

The first resurrection is in phases: first Christ, “then those who are of Christ, at His coming” (1Cor 15:2323But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming,). The coming of Christ also takes place in phases. He first comes to take His own unto Himself in the air (1Thes 4:15-1815For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.16For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of [the] archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.17Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.18Therefore comfort one another with these words.). On that occasion, all believers who have slept since Abel are raised up and the living believers are changed. Then the wedding of the Lamb takes place (Rev 19:77Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride [lit wife] has made herself ready.”). Then the Lord Jesus comes for the second time from heaven, together with the church and the other believers, to defeat His enemies and establish His kingdom. That is the moment when the martyrs killed during the last year-week will rise up to also participate in the reign of Christ (Rev 20:44Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I [saw] the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.). Then the first resurrection is complete. The unbelievers will not be judged until after the kingdom of peace and before the great white throne, which only unbelievers stand before (Rev 20:5a,11-155The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection.11Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.12And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.13And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one [of them] according to their deeds.14Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.15And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.).

There are two resurrections. Thus Paul says to Felix, “hat there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked” (Acts 24:1515having a hope in God, which these men cherish themselves, that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.; Lk 14:1414and you will be blessed, since they do not have [the means] to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”). There is a period of a thousand years between the two resurrections. The same applies to what the Lord Jesus calls the “resurrection of life” and the “resurrection of judgment” (Jn 5:2929and will come forth; those who did the good [deeds] to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil [deeds] to a resurrection of judgment.).

Those Who Have Insight

3Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

Among those who form the faithful, God-fearing remnant, “those who have insight” occupy a special place (Dan 11:33,3533Those who have insight among the people will give understanding to the many; yet they will fall by sword and by flame, by captivity and by plunder for [many] days.35Some of those who have insight will fall, in order to refine, purge and make them pure until the end time; because [it is] still [to come] at the appointed time.). During their lives they have taken that place among the people and they take that place in the heavenly part of the kingdom of peace when it has come. We can see that from the way they are presented. They “shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven” and “like the stars”. This place they will receive as a reward for their service on earth. They will also be signposts in the firmament in the kingdom of peace, giving directions for life on earth.

Through their service on earth “those who have insight” have led “the many to righteousness”. They were taught by and from the Lord Jesus, and by this they got insight and became understanding and wise. This understanding and this wisdom have been of great importance in a time of enormous trials and temptations of all kinds. They have been able to teach the believers the right way, that is the way of the righteous. Leading the many to righteousness means that they have taught many how to live righteously.

It will be clear that the leading to righteousness of others is not meant to teach the way in which one can be justified before God. How a man can be righteous with God is discussed in detail in the letter to the Romans. But the doctrine of righteousness before God does not stop with the knowledge a person has that God no longer sees sin in him. The latter is an important and necessary teaching and must first be known and accepted. But it must be followed by a righteous life, that is a life in which God gets what is due to Him and in which people get what is due to them. It is about the teaching by those with insight and that they show how to live in a world where the practice of unrighteousness is the most obvious thing to do, as someone for whom doing righteousness is the most obvious thing.

Understanding and wisdom are especially needed in the end time, that is the time in which we live. That is why it is also important for us to let our minds be shaped by and be taught in wisdom. This is only possible at the feet of the Lord Jesus. He is the perfect Understanding and Wise. Mentalists are also those who can teach others, who can pass on their wisdom to others. Paul writes in his second letter to Timothy, a letter about the end times, that people are needed who are able to teach others (2Tim 2:22The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.).

Mentalists are people who have been taught and who also teach themselves. The end time is so corrupt that we need God-fearing people more than ever who can make a distinction between good and evil. In the end times in which we live, these things are reversed. Evil is called good and good is called evil (Isa 5:2020Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;
Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
). If we think we can decide for ourselves, we have already been affected by this reversal (Isa 5:2121Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes
And clever in their own sight!
). This far-off difference must be made clear to us. We only learn this in the presence of God.

With this announcement about the wise, the explanation to Daniel about the things to come has come to an end. It is peaceful as such and is not a part of what Daniel has been told. He is the prophet in the times of the nations. What concerns him is how his people will perish during those times. That is what has been told to him and that is what we have been told by him. The remarks that are still following, are clues for Daniel about what he should do with what he has been made aware of. This gives rise to a number of questions and an answer.

The Book Must Be Sealed Up

4But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time; many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase.”

Daniel is ordered to keep secret what he has heard by concealing the words and to seal the book. This means that the time of fulfilment of these things has not yet arrived. The fulfilment will take place in the end of time. Then many will go back and forth to investigate what has been said here to Daniel. This will increase their knowledge and give them insight into the circumstances of the end time. This book will give them enormous support in the time of the end.

For us, New Testament believers, the book is not sealed. We live in the end time (2Tim 3:11But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come.; 1Jn 2:18a18Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.). In addition, the Holy Spirit has come Who will disclose what is to come (Jn 16:1313But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.). Future things are explained to us in the book of Revelation. For us, the words about the future are not sealed. From the book of Revelation we know that time is near (Rev 22:1010And he *said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.), while it will take a long time for Daniel and his people.

How Long?

5Then I, Daniel, looked and behold, two others were standing, one on this bank of the river and the other on that bank of the river. 6And one said to the man dressed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, “How long [will it be] until the end of [these] wonders?” 7I heard the man dressed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, as he raised his right hand and his left toward heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever that it would be for a time, times, and half a time; and as soon as they finish shattering the power of the holy people, all these [events] will be completed.

When the angel has finished communicating with Daniel, Daniel sees two other angels together with the Man about Who has been reported before (Dan 10:5-85I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, there was a certain man dressed in linen, whose waist was girded with [a belt of] pure gold of Uphaz.6His body also [was] like beryl, his face had the appearance of lightning, his eyes were like flaming torches, his arms and feet like the gleam of polished bronze, and the sound of his words like the sound of a tumult.7Now I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, while the men who were with me did not see the vision; nevertheless, a great dread fell on them, and they ran away to hide themselves.8So I was left alone and saw this great vision; yet no strength was left in me, for my natural color turned to a deathly pallor, and I retained no strength.). One of the angels asks the Man about the length of history shown in the vision. He most probably expresses the question that lives in the heart of Daniel. He speaks of these “wonders”. Everything that is shown in the vision is a wonderful development of the events. These events lead to the entry into the promised blessing of God’s people, after they have experienced the salvation from the time of great distress.

The Man to Whom the question is posed can be none other than the Lord Jesus. He knows the answer and gives it. Before He does so, it is still mentioned of Him that He was “above the waters of the river”. This place seems to indicate symbolically that He is above all circumstances and also controls them. He will put an end to all the suffering of His people at the appointed time, after the period appointed by Him. He will do so by judging His enemies, after which He will establish a glorious realm of peace and righteousness and joy.

The duration of the time from suffering to liberation is fixed at three and a half years: “a time” is one year, “times” is two years and “half a time” is six months. That time will not be exceeded. Rather, that time has been shortened to three and a half years, for otherwise no one would survive (Mt 24:2222Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.).

That this is so, He confirms with an oath. He does so to give His greatest assurance that it will take so long, and not a day longer. He swears by Him Who lives forever and is not bound to time, but Who at the same time holds time in His hand. At the end of the great tribulation He returns Who here raises His right and left hand to heaven. His return to earth will have many consequences.

But here His coming is mainly related to the place He has always wanted to give His people in the world system. He will make them “the head and not the tail” (Deu 28:1313The LORD will make you the head and not the tail, and you only will be above, and you will not be underneath, if you listen to the commandments of the LORD your God, which I charge you today, to observe [them] carefully,). That the opposite has become the case is because of the unfaithfulness of the people (Deu 28:4444He shall lend to you, but you will not lend to him; he shall be the head, and you will be the tail.). He will fulfill His plan in the “holy people”, which is the of God-fearing remnant. They form all Israel, as it is written: “So all Israel will be saved” (Rom 11:2626and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.”).

All hatred of the surrounding peoples has always been and will be directed to “shatter the power of the holy people”. Through His intervention He will make His people, “the holy people”, the people who belong to Him and are devoted to Him, the heads of the nations. Israel is being hated by all the surrounding peoples because of its power. That power has been shattered time and again in the past, sometimes by the king of the North, sometimes by the king of the South. In the time of the end his power is shattered once more by the king of the North. But when this hostile power has been judged by the Lord Jesus, “all these [events] will be completed”.

Last Teaching

8As for me, I heard but could not understand; so I said, “My lord, what [will be] the outcome of these [events]?” 9He said, “Go [your way], Daniel, for [these] words are concealed and sealed up until the end time. 10Many will be purged, purified and refined, but the wicked will act wickedly; and none of the wicked will understand, but those who have insight will understand. 11From the time that the regular sacrifice is abolished and the abomination of desolation is set up, [there will be] 1,290 days. 12How blessed is he who keeps waiting and attains to the 1,335 days!

Daniel does not quite understand the message yet. He would like further clarification. He has not yet understood what we can understand, about these times. Nor is it clear to him how things will proceed. Here again we see how fearless Daniel asks about the meaning of what is not clear to him.

That is an example to us. We may go to the Lord with all our questions, whether they relate to our daily needs or God’s plan with the world. If our hearts desire fellowship with God, we will submit all our questions to Him and look forward to His answer (Hab 2:11I will stand on my guard post
And station myself on the rampart;
And I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me,
And how I may reply when I am reproved.
). The heart that lives in fellowship with God is interested in all things God is interested in.

Daniel is told that these communications are not intended for him (cf. 1Pet 1:1212It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look.). He will not experience that time, at least not in his life. He will be one of those who have insight who shine in the sky. It will be a long time before the end will really come for him. When that time will have come, it will be a time of purging, purifying and refining (Dan 11:3535Some of those who have insight will fall, in order to refine, purge and make them pure until the end time; because [it is] still [to come] at the appointed time.).

During this time of trial, which has a purging, purifying and refining effect on the remnant, the wicked will increasingly act wickedly (cf. Rev 22:1111Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and the one who is holy, still keep himself holy.”). The apostate Jews seem to have been meant with the wicked here. They have no understanding of the seriousness of the time in which they live: that the coming of Christ is imminent and that for them this means judgment. However, those who have insight into the times in which they live. They know that when Christ comes, this means judgment for their enemies and that this results in their liberation. This prospect will lead them to a life of purity and holiness (cf. 1Jn 3:33And everyone who has this hope [fixed] on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.).

Then Daniel receives an additional communication on the duration of the period from half of the last year-week. Two events are mentioned as the time from which the calculation is to be made: the removal of the regular sacrifice, i.e. the daily burnt offering, and the setting up of the abomination of desolation i.e. an idol image instead. The first is the removal of God’s due and the basis on which He can dwell with His people. But a person cannot do without an object of worship. This is provided for by the second event: the placing of an idol image. With this God is not only removed, but replaced, so that there will be no more thought of Him.

We have already come across these two events before (Dan 8:1111It even magnified [itself] to be equal with the Commander of the host; and it removed the regular sacrifice from Him, and the place of His sanctuary was thrown down.; 11:3131Forces from him will arise, desecrate the sanctuary fortress, and do away with the regular sacrifice. And they will set up the abomination of desolation.). They introduce the time of great tribulation, which we have seen will last three and a half years, or “forty-two months” (Rev 13:55There was given to him a mouth speaking arrogant words and blasphemies, and authority to act for forty-two months was given to him.), or “twelve hundred and sixty days” (Rev 12:66Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she *had a place prepared by God, so that there she would be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.), which is forty-two months times thirty days. Now we read here about a period that lasts thirty days longer, while counting from the same time. That means that, after three and a half years of great oppression have passed, there will be another 30 days with a special purpose.

The great tribulation is over when the antichrist and the king of the North are judged by the coming of the Lord Jesus. That means liberation for the people. But it does not mean that all enemies have already been defeated. There are still enemies, especially the enemy from the extreme north with his allies, who are so audacious to attack Israel as it was introduced into the promised rest of the Messiah (Eze 38:2-6,15-162“Son of man, set your face toward Gog of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him3and say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I am against you, O Gog, prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal.4I will turn you about and put hooks into your jaws, and I will bring you out, and all your army, horses and horsemen, all of them splendidly attired, a great company [with] buckler and shield, all of them wielding swords;5Persia, Ethiopia and Put with them, all of them [with] shield and helmet;6Gomer with all its troops; Beth-togarmah [from] the remote parts of the north with all its troops—many peoples with you.15You will come from your place out of the remote parts of the north, you and many peoples with you, all of them riding on horses, a great assembly and a mighty army;16and you will come up against My people Israel like a cloud to cover the land. It shall come about in the last days that I will bring you against My land, so that the nations may know Me when I am sanctified through you before their eyes, O Gog.”). But that will be to their own destruction (Eze 39:1-41“And you, son of man, prophesy against Gog and say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I am against you, O Gog, prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal;2and I will turn you around, drive you on, take you up from the remotest parts of the north and bring you against the mountains of Israel.3I will strike your bow from your left hand and dash down your arrows from your right hand.4You will fall on the mountains of Israel, you and all your troops and the peoples who are with you; I will give you as food to every kind of predatory bird and beast of the field.). “The power of the holy people” (verse 77I heard the man dressed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, as he raised his right hand and his left toward heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever that it would be for a time, times, and half a time; and as soon as they finish shattering the power of the holy people, all these [events] will be completed.) can no longer be broken because the Lord Jesus is their King.

We see an example of these things in the government of Solomon, the Prince of peace. During the first days of his reign as the Prince of peace, the last stumbling blocks of his kingdom were removed by Him in judgment.

Then there is an extra additional period of forty-five days. Probably this is about the completion of the restoration of the entire people after the great tribulation. Then all enemies will have been dealt with, and all the people will live in the land in peace and serve God. That is what the faithful Jew looks forward to. That is the blessing that is part of everyone who keeps waiting. Perseverance is the proof of faith that is severely tested (Rev 13:1010If anyone [is destined] for captivity, to captivity he goes; if anyone kills with the sword, with the sword he must be killed. Here is the perseverance and the faith of the saints.; 14:1212Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.). That perseverance will be richly rewarded.

A Word for Daniel Personally

13But as for you, go [your way] to the end; then you will enter into rest and rise [again] for your allotted portion at the end of the age.”

Daniel has come to the end of his life. He may enter the peace of God. At the same time he is assured, as a personal promise, that he will rise at the end of the days and receive the reward of the LORD: the fulfilment of the promises made to the fathers. He knows nothing about the interim situation. We know that the believers who have fallen asleep are with the Lord Jesus (Lk 23:4343And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”; Phil 1:23b23But I am hard-pressed from both [directions], having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for [that] is very much better;).

Daniel will rise at the coming of the Lord Jesus as one of “the dead in Christ” and with all the fallen asleep and living believers “meet the Lord in the air” (1Thes 4:16-1716For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of [the] archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.17Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.). He will be present when the Lord “when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed” (2Thes 1:1010when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed—for our testimony to you was believed.). He is one of “His saints” and one of “all who have believed”.

When Christ appears as “the Sun of righteousness” (Mal 4:22“But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall.), Daniel will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and like one of the stars (verse 33Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.). He will contribute to the reflection of the glory of Him Whom everything is about: Christ, the Messiah, God’s anointed King.