The Great Tribulation: Daneil 12

Daniel 12  •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 10
In this closing chapter we are taken on to the last three and a half years that will precede the reign of Christ— the time of the great tribulation that will end the sorrows of the Jews and the scattering of God's earthly people (v. 7).
Verse 1—For his comfort, and the encouragement of the godly remnant Daniel is assured that at that —time the time of the end— Michael, the great spiritual prince appointed as the guardian of God's earthly people, will stand up on their behalf. Behind all the trials they may have to endure, they are assured of the support of spiritual powers in the unseen world. The special call for this spiritual aid will be that, for the Jewish nation, it will be "a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time." Nevertheless, this great tribulation will end the sorrows of the nation and lead to the deliverance of the godly whose names are found written in the book of life.
Rev. 12:7-177And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, 8And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. 9And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. 10And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. 11And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. 12Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. 13And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. 14And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. 15And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. 16And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth. 17And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 12:7‑17) gives further details as to these special activities of Michael and his angels at this time. It is evident that these passages refer to the same period— the three and a half years (compare Dan. 12:77And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished. (Daniel 12:7) with Rev. 12:1414And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. (Revelation 12:14)). There we learn of the conflict in heaven between Michael and his angels and the dragon and his angels. Michael will prevail, so that there will be no more room found in heaven for Satan, who, with his angels, will be cast out into the earth. Immediately there follows upon earth the time of unparalleled trouble for "the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea." The special object of Satan's persecution will be "the woman," or Israel, who brought forth the Man Child, Christ. Moreover the passage clearly indicates that the special rage of Satan will be directed against the godly in Israel, described as "the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Rey. 12:12-13, 17).
It is clear, then, that at the time of the end, during the reign of Antichrist, there will be in the midst of the apostate nation a godly remnant who confess Jesus Christ, and keep the commandments of God. Such will be very precious to the Lord, and, like the remnant of Malachi's day, will have their names inscribed in God's book of remembrance (Mal. 3:1616Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. (Malachi 3:16)).
Great light is thrown upon this unparalleled time of trouble by two other Scriptures. In Jer. 30, the prophet, looking on to the future, says, "The days come, saith the LORD, that I will bring again the captivity of My people Israel and Judah, saith the LORD; and I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it." The partial return, under Ezra and Nehemiah, evidently does not fulfill this prophecy. It looks on to yet future days. The prophecy goes on to tell us that this final deliverance will be preceded by "the time of Jacob's trouble," a day of such great sorrow "that none is like it" (Jer. 30:3-73For, lo, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel and Judah, saith the Lord: and I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it. 4And these are the words that the Lord spake concerning Israel and concerning Judah. 5For thus saith the Lord; We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. 6Ask ye now, and see whether a man doth travail with child? wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness? 7Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it. (Jeremiah 30:3‑7)).
Then, in the New Testament, the Lord refers to this time of trouble, of which He says, "Then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be." The Lord definitely states that He refers to the time when "the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet" is found in the holy place (Matt. 24:15, 2115When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) (Matthew 24:15)
21For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. (Matthew 24:21)
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During this terrible time, behind the scenes, Satan will be the instigator of all the trouble. The Antichrist will be the enemy within the land, while the head of the Roman Empire and the king of the north will be the great enemies outside the land.
Verse 2—At that time there will be a great resuscitation of the Jewish nation. Using resurrection as a figure, the angel shows that the nation will arise from their degraded position as the dust of the earth, to take once again their distinct place as a separate nation. Nevertheless, some will shine forth as the godly, to everlasting life, while the mass will still be in unbelief. For such this national revival will only lead to shame and everlasting contempt.
Verse 3—The godly, here called the wise, will give in the time of this great tribulation a clear witness for God and for Christ. They "shall shine as the brightness of the firmament." Through their witness they will "turn many to righteousness.”
Verse 4—Having completed his revelation, the angel instructs Daniel to "shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end." For the Christian these things are not sealed. In the Revelation John, who testifies in the assemblies of God's people, is told "Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand" (Rev. 22:10, 1610And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand. (Revelation 22:10)
16I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. (Revelation 22:16)
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The Christian, walking in the light of the coming of Christ, sees that the time is at hand, and has the full light of prophecy to guide him in this dark world. For the world, and the Jew, so long as the Church is here, "the time of the end," to which these prophecies apply, has not yet come. Until that time these things are to them incomprehensible, even as a sealed book. Until that time the world pursues its way actively engaged in its own interests, increasing in knowledge, but wholly ignorant of the mind of God and the judgments that are coming.
Verses 5-7—The prophecy closes with this last vision of two angels standing one on one side of the river Hiddekel and one on the other. Daniel hears one ask, "How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?" "These wonders" refer to "the time of trouble" of which the angel has been speaking. Now Daniel learns from God's word, confirmed with an oath, that the time of trouble will last for three and a half years. Further, when this period is completed, the scattering of God's earthly people will be accomplished, the persecution of the godly will cease, and the judgments of God on the living nations will end.
Verses 8-10—In the presence of all these revelations, Daniel has to own that he heard, but understood not. So again he asks, "What shall be the end of these things?" Daniel was deeply desirous of knowing to what end they would lead. We know that they will lead to the glories and blessedness of the Kingdom of Christ. But, while the revelation given to Daniel tells of the judgments that precede the kingdom, and thus brings us up to the kingdom, it is left to Isaiah and others to unfold the glories of the reign of Christ.
Daniel is told to go his way, for the words are sealed up until the time of the end. He is told however, that all the coming sorrows for his people will be used by God to try and purify the godly. None of the wicked nation who do wickedly will understand; but "the wise shall understand." This seems to be the answer to Daniel's remark, "I understood not." He is told to wait and fear God and in due time he will understand, for the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.
Verses 11-12— Daniel is definitely told that, from the time when the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, there will be one thousand two hundred and ninety days, and then blessed will be he that waiteth and cometh to the thousand three hundred and thirty five days. Both these periods are in excess of the three and a half years which start with the taking away of the sacrifice. (see Dan. 9:2727And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate. (Daniel 9:27) and Matt. 24:1414And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. (Matthew 24:14)). The reason for this is not clear, but it may be to leave time for the gathering of all Israel after the judgment of the Antichrist. The day will make clear the exact meaning of these numbers. All we know is that, from the taking away of the sacrifice to the end of the reign of Antichrist will be three and a half years, or one thousand two hundred and sixty days (Jewish reckoning), and to the bringing in of the full blessing one thousand three hundred and thirty five days.
Verse 13—In the presence of these solemn events Daniel is encouraged to wait and rest in peace of soul for, he is assured, he will stand in his appointed place in the coming kingdom at the end of the days.