Earlier in this series and on our blog page I use the album cover (above) from Keith Green’s 1978 release “No Compromise” as a series theme image. I’ve included it in today’s devotional as well, so you can see it again. It’s a powerful illustration of a man who stands alone refusing to bow down or compromise in the face of hostile opposition. It’s obvious to me that the designer of this cover art must have been using Daniel as inspiration. It appears to be a scene from ancient Babylon. I bought this album when I was about 13 and the image has always stuck with me. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words and to me this image says a lot.
As we have learned, Daniel’s character and faithfulness to God is impressive to say the least. So much so that we are told in chapter 10 verse 11 that he is “highly esteemed” by God himself. God is so impressed and pleased with Daniel that he gives him a sneak peek at coming attractions, as in 500 years into the future and beyond. Daniel is getting a small glimpse of how God’s plan will unfold leading up to Jesus’ birth in and beyond, even looking ahead to Jesus’ triumphant and glorious 2nd coming which is in our future as well.
As I stated in last week’s devotional these visions and eschatological prophecies are difficult to decipher. The imagery is glorious, but also mysterious. There is really no way of knowing with absolute certainty how it’s all going to play out, and I don’t think we’re meant to know. Remember that Jesus said, “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Matthew 24:36 NIV So with that in mind, let’s finish up with a summary of chapters 9-12.
- Most of the chapter, verses 1-19 are Daniel’s prayer of repentance to God, plea for forgiveness, and restoration of the nation of Israel.
- The “Seventy Sevens” is reference to the time between the restoration and rebuilding of Jerusalem and the coming of the “Anointed One”, Jesus the Messiah. 70×7=490 years. The “seven ‘sevens (49 years),’ and sixty-two ‘sevens (434 years)” in verse 25 is a total of 483 years until Jesus comes. From the time of the prophecy to Jesus’ birth in years is almost exact. The other numerical references may apply to Jesus’ life, ministry, death, and resurrection.
- “In the middle of the ‘seven’ he (Jesus) will put an end to sacrifice and offering” (10:27) may refer to the new covenant in Jesus’ blood bringing the end of the mosaic sacrificial system or the old covenant, but it doesn’t abolish “all the Law and the Prophets”. (Matthew 5:17) It just tranfers the system of atonement and our access to God the Father from the high priests to Jesus.
- The “man dressed in linen” that appears to Daniel in verses 5 and 6 is either Jesus or more likely a high-ranking Angel, possibly Gabriel. The description of the man in linen, according to some, doesn’t match the description of Jesus in Revelation 1:12-16.
- This man in linen or angel is dispatched in response to Daniel’s prayer in chapter 9.
- The affirmation Daniel receives from the man in linen is incredible and gives us further confirmation of Daniel’s faith and character: “Daniel, you who are highly esteemed” (v.11); “Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard” (v.12); and “Do not be afraid, you who are highly esteemed,” he said. “Peace! Be strong now; be strong.” (v.19) WOW! This is the greatest pep talk ever! Goose bumps!!!
- Michael, another high-ranking angel, is referenced in v.13.
- This chapter is a great description of God working behind scenes.
- I believe that chapters 10-12 are all a part of the same vision. The “man in linen” that appears to Daniel continues his revelations in chapters 11 and 12 as well. At the end of this chapter he says, “but first I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth”, and Chapter 11 and 12 do not begin with new visions, so it’s probably the same one.
- Verses 1-35 are more about the years leading up to Jesus’ birth, regional history.
- Verses 36-45 is a mixture believed to be describing both “Antiochus IV Epiphanes” who is possibly the “little horn” from Chapter 8, and/or the anti-Christ (11:36-45), “The king (anti-Christ) will do as he pleases. He will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will say unheard-of things against the God of gods.” Daniel 11:36 NIV
- Michael is referenced again in chapter 12. (On a side note, many view Satan, a former angel, as Jesus equal or opposite, but he’s not. We give him too much power and credit. He would really be Michael or Gabriel’s equal or opposite.)
- “There will be a time of distress (trouble, tribulation) such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then.” (12:1) The Jews will have to endure many “times of distress” in the coming years, but this could also be connected to the Great Tribulation because Jesus quotes Daniel 12:1 in Matthew 24:21: “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.” See how the pieces fit together?
- Despite Israel’s setbacks and distress there is a promise of deliverance for those who are faithful, whose names are “written in the book”. This “book” could be a reference to the “Lambs book of life” in Revelation 21:27. “Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (Revelation 21:27 NIV)
- Two other men appear in Daniel 12:5 on opposite banks of a river, which also mentioned in Daniel 10:4, further evidence that this is the same vision that began in chapter 10. These men ask, “How long will it be before these astonishing things are fulfilled?” (12:6) to which the “man in linen” replies “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.” (12:7) Some believe this time reference is 3.5 years based on similar references in Revelation 12:6,14, but it’s obvious that these events will take much longer than 3.5 years, so here again is another example of eschatological mystery.
Is your head spinning? I know mine is and obviously Daniels is too because in Daniel 12:8 he says, “I heard, but I did not understand. So, I asked, “My lord, what will the outcome of all this be?” (12:8) Unfortunately, the man in linen doesn’t answer Daniels question and tells him to “Go your way, Daniel, because the words are rolled up and sealed until the time of the end.” (12:9) That’s it! Vision concluded! It’s like a movie that ends without any resolution or conclusion. Don’t you hate that? Daniel and the rest of us are left with more questions than answers. Is God holding something back? Trying to keep us in the dark or is He protecting us from information overload? Would we be able to handle it if He told us everything?
The “man in linen” ends chapter 12 by telling Daniel in verse 10 that “many will be purified, made spotless and refined”. Those who are wise will understand repent, believe, be forgiven, and have something to look forward to, but the “wicked will continue to be wicked”. They will not understand or repent. Then there are some more numerical time references in verses 11-12.
- 1290 days or 3.5 years of the Great Tribulation where the “abomination that causes desolation is set up”. The “abomination” is the anti-Christ, which is supported by Jesus himself when He quotes this verse in Matthew 24:15.
- 1335 days might be a time that leads up to the 2nd coming of Christ, but no one is sure because accounts of time vary, and this number may not be used again elsewhere.
The vision ends in verse 13 with some encouragement for Daniel and us when the “man in linen” says to “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.” If we endure to the end, we will also receive our inheritance as co-heirs with Christ. (Romans 8:17)
God uses these visions and other prophecies in the Bible to remind us that He is still with us and in control, that He has a future and a hope planned for us. (Jeremiah 29:11) God has not forsaken or abandoned us. He has a plan to rescue and restore those who have been faithful and surrendered their will to him through repentance and faith, so we should be ready for His return.
This has been such a great study. I have enjoyed it so much and hope that you have as well. Obviously, Daniel is one of my favorite people in history and books of the Bible or I wouldn’t have written so much about it. Daniels example of faithfulness, holiness, perseverance, and courage is a hard act to follow, but I’m sure he would modestly disagree, explain that it wasn’t always easy, and that he wouldn’t have been able to survive it without God’s favor. However, it gives us something to hold on to and strive for as we live as “Strangers in a Strange Land”. It’s obvious that our current culture is headed away from a Biblical faith in God at an alarming rate, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t survive and thrive as we walk by faith no matter which way the winds of culture are blowing.
Have a great weekend! Love y’all!
Director of Family Ministry and Facility Coordinator – Andrews UMC