Daniel 12

Daniel 12  •  17 min. read  •  grade level: 11
To return to the prophecy which regards the Jews, the testimony of the disciples was to be carried on in the midst of difficulties and reach out to all the world for a witness to all nations, and then the end should come. This was the general history of their position. Whatever we may gather of dates from comparison of other passages, which is not my business here, it reached down from the time of Christ to the end of the age. Remark here that the end of the age is not only not the end of the world, but it is not the age of Christianity, but the end of the age of the temple standing under the law till Messiah came. This was the object of the question. Of this, whatever light may be given by the Lord, there can be no question if we read the passage. But in verse 15 a specific definite time is marked out by a particular event-the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet. This leads us at once, and in a positive manner, to the subject of which the Lord speaks. His own words, moreover, establish in the most complete and evident manner, that He is speaking of Jerusalem and Judea. Of this there can be no question.
Now Daniel (chap. 12, where the abomination of desolation is spoken of) speaks of twelve hundred and sixty days and twelve hundred and ninety days, at the end of which the Lord would interfere in favor of Israel, dating them from that to which the Lord here referred. Let the reader pay attention to this. Daniel declares that from the time the abomination is set up, there shall be twelve hundred and ninety days, and the blessing in thirteen hundred and thirty. Further, he connects this-indeed it is the grand subject of the last three chapters of his prophecies-with the closing history of Israel. He speaks of a king who will prosper till the indignation be accomplished at the time of the end.
It is indeed the grand topic of the book, and must have been: for the ultimate fate of Israel would have been the thought which governed the prophetic writing, whether it was God's love to Israel, or Daniel's which was in exercise; and it was undoubtedly both. Hence we have the last beast destroyed in chapter 7; the image ground to powder in chapter 2, and the kingdom of blessing set up and filling the world. So, in the details in chapter 8, the prophet is shown what is to happen in the last end of the indignation, when the king of fierce countenance is to stand up against the Prince of princes, and be broken without hand. He gives the series of Gentile monarchies from the first of them, which was set up in his days, and set aside the throne of God at Jerusalem, established in the family of David, to which all the promises were attached; and he pursues these Gentile monarchies in two symbolical prophecies, which gives the whole series (chapters 2 and 7) on to the end, and the setting up of the kingdom of the Son of man.
Nothing can be clearer than what the prophecy thus professes to do. Objections to the execution of it will be considered hereafter, when we meet with them. This is not the point now. Then, in some particular prophecies, the grand crisis which settles the fate of Israel is discoursed of in connection with particular nations and events (besides facts then happening), which realized and at the same time foreshadowed the principles which would characterize the apostate Gentiles, who were the possessors of power, and the adversaries of Israel (for all in Daniel relates to Israel). Now the particular prophecies which relate to the ultimate fate of Israel, though they may be linked on to those among the beasts which had their power established in the countries in which Palestine is situated, yet necessarily speak of and have for their object what closes the scene. That close is yet future, as is seen, not only by the plain testimony of scripture, but in the fact that we have the Jews yet as a nation with their ultimate fate unsettled. This is a living fact around us.
That Daniel does go on to the end is unquestionable, whatever ideas we may have of the time he expected it to happen. We have alluded to the proofs, which indeed lie on the surface of his writings. His book closes with a promise that he shall stand in his lot at the end of the days-a promise which leaves no obscurity as to the period which he was looking for and referring to in his prophecy, be he right or wrong. The difficulty of interpretation arises precisely from the circumstance we have mentioned-i.e., that Daniel links (chapters 8 and 9) the state of things at the end with the Grecian monarchy which possessed the East, where all was certainly to happen, for that was where Cancan was situated; but he as certainly teaches that another monarchy was to arise which would take a great, and even principal, share in these events. When we set about to interpret the prophecy, the difficulty is to allot its proper share to each of these powers. His introduction of the one certainly does not exclude the other; and many other prophecies declare that all the heathen shall come up against, or be in possession of, Jerusalem in the latter day. We have now, however, to do with the particular prophecy of chapter 12.
In the beginning of that chapter Daniel speaks, just as the Lord does, of the time of trouble such as never was; when Michael shall stand up for the Jews. So that we have the grand final desperate trouble of Daniel's people; and yet at a time when the power of God interferes to deliver them. Just as Jeremiah also represents it: "Alas, for that day is great, so that none is like it; it is even the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be delivered out of it. For it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off thy neck, and will burst thy bonds, and strangers shall no more serve themselves of him: but they shall serve the Lord their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up to them." This last prophet declares, moreover, that it shall embrace the whole nation of Israel, as well as Judah in a very particular manner; and that it shall be by a new covenant and not by the old; and that, as sure as the heavens stood, Israel should be a special nation, and Jerusalem be restored. All this, observe, refers to God's government of the earth and the nations. The heavenly blessing of the Church in no way meets it.
That is, we have in Matthew, in Daniel, in Jeremiah, a time of unparalleled trouble at the close of Judah's history; and Judah delivered out of it, and full blessing brought in (the Lord declaring in Matthew that He referred to what Daniel spoke of; and all in their prophecies, not merely in this, but in other prophecies, professedly referring to this closing scene, declaring that it would be brought to an issue by the raising up of the seed of promise in David's family by the coming of the Son of man, by God's interference in favor of His people, whom He never would give up). With this all prophecy, from Moses downwards, coincides; and in many all the details are entered into. It is the grand subject, though many events leading to it, or illustrative of the principles and motives of God's government which is to be fully displayed in it, are noticed for the instruction of the people in them, and as samples of God's ways.
Now what Daniel spoke of in chapter 7, as arriving at this epoch of divine judgment, when the saints would have the kingdom (namely, that the Son of man would come in glory), the Lord also expressly declares; referring, in a positive and most remarkable manner, to another prophecy of Daniel, relating to the same epoch, and unfolding the special tribulation of which He spoke, and His coming in glory, which would be consequent on it. Every statement of scripture, in various parts of it, and by different prophets, concurs in this, and concurs in placing these events in the grand closing scene of God's government of the earth, viewed as the scene of man's national responsibility, Israel being the center, in God's view of it (see Deut. 32:88When the most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel. (Deuteronomy 32:8)), of all this government. The Lord (or Matthew, if Mr. N. pleases), so far from confounding anything, gives warnings for the conduct of the disciples in their testimony in the midst of Israel, while that testimony should be carried on there; adding that the testimony of the kingdom should go out to all nations, and that then (not before) the end of the age (not of the world, as every scholar knows) should come. Then, with verse 14, He closes His general history and directions. This is beyond controversy; because the question of the disciples was as to the end of the age; and He says (ver. 14), "Then shall the end come." Then He takes up a very particular point, which He definitely connects with Daniel's prophecy of what was to happen at this "end of the age" (that is, that at that epoch, or twelve hundred and sixty days before the end, it would not be a time of testimony, but that they were to see). The sign would be an idol set up in the holy place, which idol was to cause the desolation of Jerusalem. Now this has never yet taken place at all. Titus did destroy Jerusalem, but no idol was set up in the holy place, which caused the desolation. Michael, the prince, did not stand up for Daniel's people-and to this the New Testament writer refers; nor was any deliverance of Jacob wrought, nor did Daniel stand in his lot, nor did the sign of the Son of man appear, nor did thirteen-hundred-and-thirty days bring any blessing. That is, to the believer there certainly was not the accomplishment of the prophecy. But what is the conclusion we must draw? No person writing, as Mr. N. supposes, after the event, would have written an account, of which the contradiction and falseness was in the hands of all, and of public notoriety. He could not pretend that the Son of man had appeared, and that the elect Jews were gathered-that the blessing of Daniel was arrived. If he lived after the event he might have given a flaming description of Titus's siege, which history would have furnished him with; but at this point it becomes (to use Mr. N.'s phrase) "clearly and hopelessly false" in Mr. N.'s application of it. That is, it certainly was not written after the event. No man would write, in forging a prophecy, what was already clearly and hopelessly false at the time he wrote it. For, as Mr. N. justly insists (by putting it in italics), it is stated that "immediately after that tribulation," &c. So that nothing but the utter nonsense of infidel credulous invention could have explained Matt. 24 as Mr. N. does. That infidels should be ignorant of the abundant confirmation given in the prophets of the real force of the passage, was only to be expected. They have never really examined the contents of the book. They are not capable, by their position, of getting beyond literary speculations. Perhaps we must also expect from them that they should seek to persuade us that a rational account of the passage is, that the writer composed, to deceive them, an account of what was happening among themselves, which was notoriously false at the time he wrote it, to gain the credit of a true prophet for his master!
It may be asked by some, if I give no place here to the destruction of Jerusalem. I think it had a very important one. It closed altogether for the moment the application of the passage we are considering, and of all such, to the testimony in the midst of Israel, to which it referred. God's ways were then to be looked for solely in the Church, whose portion is in heavenly places; and hence (though Providence ever governs all things) not the proper occasion of the display of God's government of the earth. It was, as Paul says to the Ephesians, the proof to principalities and powers in heavenly places, that the wisdom of God was "πολυποίκιλος" very various in its character.
This interruption, as regards God's ways on the earth, is developed in Luke, who looks at all these dispensational questions in a Gentile point of view, when he says, Jerusalem should be trodden down of the Gentiles, till the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled-exactly the general instruction we have found in Daniel. Jerusalem would be set aside, and all God's dealings consequently with it, till the period allotted in the decrees of God, for the Gentile supremacy was closed. Then the signs and judgments should take place. So Paul, in Rom. 11, "blindness in part" happened unto Israel till the "fullness of the Gentiles be come in"-till, during this time of dealing specially with Gentiles (though every Jew is equally received) all that have ears to hear were brought into God's fold. And then God would begin again with His earthly people in exercise, judgment, and deliverance, and so accomplish all His promises (on earth) in a restored people. The broken-off branches would be graffed in again into their own olive-tree, the fruit-bearing tree of promise springing from Abraham-of course, in the highest sense from God Himself.
Mr. N. may seek, perhaps, to escape from the absurdity of supposing that a forger would invent a prophecy, proved (to be false) by well-known public events, though he does not dare to say it very clearly,1 by supposing that though it be said "immediately after the tribulation," yet that the author would have time between the tribulation and the "immediately after" to compose and publish his book, that thus he could give a history up to that, and to be mistaken as to what followed. Now, to say nothing of the universal testimony to the contrary (because suppositions are always more attractive to an infidel than history, because they are the fruit of one's own mind, which is a great point with them), the supposition is of this probable character, that a forger would commit himself to a very full and clear statement of what was immediately to occur; and thus determine his book to be a forgery as soon as it should be read! And this is only a trifling part of the difficulty; for we must also suppose that the book was received and read as true, without its being found out that it was falsified by facts-that such a thing as the coming of the great day of judgment should be announced and not arrive, and nobody suspect that the announcement of it was false. That is, he leaves us with the choice of two cases: either that he forged a prophecy, false upon the face of it, and publicly known to be so, in respect of such an event as the non-arrival of Christ for the grand judgment; or, that the pretended prophecy, published "very soon after," preceded what was to happen "immediately after," and committed itself to what would immediately prove it false in the most public way, and yet that thousands, who, by their existence, proved it was false, and knew that the great day of judgment had not arrived, immediately after believed it to be true all the same.
And mark this. All testimony is directly contrary to the date necessary to Mr. N.'s system. He has nothing for it but its own probability. Yes, I am wrong there: there is his assertion, and yet scarcely that-ít is insinuated. To insert the publication of the gospel between the destruction of Jerusalem and "immediately after," would have suggested the inquiry for some proof- a thing not to be had. Hence, where it suited him, there "it is unreasonable to doubt that the detailed annunciation of Matt. 24 were first composed very soon after the war of Titus" (Phases, p. 170), after the siege. When a dream is in question- it is written by an unknown person seventy or eighty years after the nativity. The former date would be either the year of the siege, according to the vulgar era, or (by the correction of chronology, generally received) four, or according to others, five years before it; but then seventy or eighty left margin for that, if the four years' error was known by the reader; and a loose period of five or six possible years after left it possibly just at the critical moment, without too much danger of interfering with "immediately after." It is very nicely arranged.
One point remains-the expression "this generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled." Now the whole state of things did, for the time, close some forty years after; and Israel no longer existed as the place of testimony. Still I have no doubt that the word has another force than this. "Generation" is habitually used in scripture otherwise than for the period of human activity, or from the birth of a son to the birth of his son -the length of a man's active life; and it is peculiarly used in reference to Israel in the other sense, which the following quotations present-" the generation of the wicked shall never see light"-"a crooked and perverse nation [the word is the same] among whom ye shine "-" this is the generation of them that seek him." So, many others. That is, it is a class of persons having a given character, as well as those who have their common period of life together. If the reader turn to Deut. 32, he will find, in verses 5 and 20, the word used in this sense in immediate reference to Israel during its protracted rejection up to the end. "They are a perverse and crooked generation." "And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be; for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith." And then Moses speaks of the bringing in of the Gentiles, in a passage which Paul quotes, in reference to the very time we are treating of: the Lord declaring that that generation should not pass-a declaration of which we see the accomplishment to this day. God has hid His face from them to see what their end shall be; yet they have not passed away. There they are till every jot and tittle of Christ's word be accomplished.
The objections, then, to what Matthew says are without foundation; the prophetic declarations in chapter 24 are distinctly referred to Daniel (the application of which leaves no doubt as to the sense and application of Matthew), and clearly establish its reference to the end of the age, of which indeed the Lord was speaking. On the other hand, the suppositions advanced to prove it forged are the most absurdly improbable that can possibly be, besides being contrary to all historical evidence.