Daniel: A Final Look
From the Writings of Marvin J. Rosenthal
Published in Zion's Fire Magazine in September/October, 1999
the exposition of Daniel 12:1-3, which appeared in a Zion's
Fire article entitled "Daniel Chapter Twelve - A
Deeper Look," four critically important facts were brought
into clear focus.
FIRST, (at the midpoint of Daniel's seventieth week) the archangel
Michael, whose normal, ongoing ministry is to restrain Satan
in his attack against Israel, will cease his restraining work.
SECOND, as a direct result of Michael's inactivity on behalf
of Israel, Satan, now unhindered, will empower the Antichrist,
resulting in an unprecedented time of trouble called, in the
Scriptures, both the "great tribulation" (Mt. 24:21)
and "the time of Jacob's trouble" (Jer. 30:7).
THIRD, (as the first of a series of events associated with
the coming of the Lord) the dead in Christ will be resurrected
and the true Church will be raptured out of the great tribulation.
FOURTH, the wise, that is, those who understand through the
prophetic Scriptures what is occurring, will, through their
testimony, shine with the brilliance of the heavenly bodies
and, as a result, turn many to righteousness.
And now the angelic messenger, who began this prophetic instruction
to Daniel in Chapter 10, concludes the vision in Chapter 12
with these words: "But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words,
and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall
run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased" (Dan.
In commenting on the expression "shut up the words, and
seal the book, even to the time of the end," The Ryrie
Study Bible states:
"Not that its meaning was to be left unexplained, but
that the book was to be kept intact so as to help those living
in the future tribulation days."
But Daniel is not different from other prophetic books of
Scripture. Therefore, it seems strange that only this book
would contain such a peculiar instruction.
The Annotated Study Bible understands the text differently.
"It was impossible to understand the significance of
these prophecies in Daniel's own day, but God indicated that
at the time of the end many would seek to understand these
predictions and be able to do so."
In the light of what follows, it would appear that this second
view is in keeping with the meaning of the text. The meaning
of Daniel's prophecy would not be fully understood until the
The command to Daniel to "shut up the words" (referring
to his book) meant to keep it safe for the appropriate future
time. Frank Gaebelein's comment in The Expositor's Bible
Commentary is helpful. He wrote:
"In the ancient Near East, important documents such as
contracts, promissory notes, and deeds of conveyance were
written out in duplicate. The original document was kept in
a secure repository, safe ("closed up") from later
tampering, in order to conserve the interests and rights of
all parties to the transaction."
The duplicate copy could be available to the public while
the original would remain secure and protected.
The command to Daniel to "seal the book" was intended
to provide a second safeguard. It was to authenticate the
truth of his prophecy. When Daniel was taken into captivity
in 606 B.C., and in the centuries that followed, very few
people could read or write. In the making of a will, title
deed, or other official document, there was always the danger
of deception. To prevent this problem, the practice of sealing
an important document was instituted. A recording scribe
would write down exactly what his client requested. And then
an attesting scribe would read and confirm that everything
was written as requested.
The document would then be sealed to prevent tampering and
to attest to its accuracy. In the case of the prophet Daniel,
he was to certify, by the sealing of the book, that it was
an accurate transcript of what God had communicated to him.
In commanding Daniel to "shut up the words," God
was guaranteeing its preservation. In commanding him to "seal
the book," God was guaranteeing its accuracy - that it
contained precisely what God wanted it to contain. This measure
was taken so that those living during the latter days will
have God's truth to warn and sustain them.
To have the Book of Daniel intact and uncorrupted is one thing
- to understand its meaning is quite another matter. And so
Daniel was told that at the time of the end "many shall
run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased."
Many commentators have noted a connection between the dramatic
increase in world travel and the fulfillment of the words,
"many shall run to and fro." These same teachers
indicate a relationship between the astounding growth of informational
and technological advances and the fulfillment of the statement
"and knowledge shall be increased." This dramatic
increase in travel and information is then cited as evidence
that we are living at the end of the age.
Unfortunately, that view misses entirely the point of the
text. The "running to and fro" is speaking of an
increased interest in the study of the prophetic Word as we
near the end of the age. In context, it is referring to the
Book of Daniel. The "running to and fro" refers
to a mental running and involves discovering the truth which
has been hidden within the words that are "shut up"
in the sealed book.
As a result of that intensified study at the end of time,
"knowledge shall be increased." This increased knowledge
is not of a general nature. It is not the accumulated facts
of history or a giant step forward in the sciences. It is
knowledge of the events of the end of the age as prophesied
These noble "many," because of the unfolding events
of their day, will "run to and fro" in their urgent
search for truth concerning the last days. And God will honor
their diligence - "knowledge shall be increased."
This clearly implies that our insight into the Book of Daniel
today is limited. We, as it were, "see through a glass
darkly." All one need do is examine the myriad commentaries
on the Book of Daniel. Apart from broad agreement on the part
of some godly conservative commentators, interpretations vary
on the meaning of every chapter and almost every verse in
For example, the authorship of Daniel is questioned. The time
in which the Book was written is questioned. The identification
of the beast empires is questioned. The parallel track of
the image of Daniel 2 and the four beasts of Daniel 7 is questioned.
The prophetic significance of Daniel's three friends in the
fiery furnace and Daniel in the lion's den is questioned.
The starting point of the decree of Daniel 9 is questioned.
The chronology of the seventieth week is questioned. Which
texts were fulfilled in Antiochus Epiphanes and which texts
will be fulfilled in the Antichrist is questioned. The nation
from which the Antichrist will spring is questioned. And on
and on it goes.
It is hard to recommend one specific commentary on the Book
of Daniel. Some, of course, are much better than others. But
the Book of Daniel, as a comprehensive whole, has been slow
to reveal all of its precious treasure. It has, by divine
design, been "shut up and sealed until the time of the
Perhaps it will be the unfolding events of the last days which
will fully unlock the Book to pious examination. Perhaps the
Holy Spirit of God himself will illumine the minds of those
who diligently seek Him in that day.
John Walvoord, commenting on Daniel 12:3 in his helpful commentary,
DANIEL: the Key to Prophetic Revelation, has written:
"No doubt, those living in the time of the end will have
far greater understanding of these things than is possible
In the interim, we must descend and dig in the Book of Daniel
for nuggets of truth concerning the last days which God in
His grace may reveal to us. The "mother lode" will
continue to elude us until a future day, which may not be
too far into the future.
As Daniel looked, he beheld two angels (Dan. 12:5). They stood,
each on the opposite shores of the Tigris River, a wide body
of water - which indicated that these angels were far apart.
One almost gets the sense of two choirs singing antiphonally.
Between the two angels, a third angel was suspended above
the river. Higher in rank than the other two, this angel was
the one who was responsible for giving the prophetic vision
to Daniel (Dan. 10:1-12:4).
One of the two angels on the riverbank inquired, "How
long shall it be to the end of these wonders?" (Dan.
12:6). He was not asking "How long will it be until these
wonders begin?" but "How long will they last once
they commence?" The superior angel situated above the
water lifted his right hand and his left toward heaven and
took a solemn oath (v. 7). Concerning this oath, one commentator
"Whereas it was usual to lift one's hand (singular) in
taking an oath (Gen. 14:22; Ex. 6:8; Ezek. 20:5), here the
heavenly messenger raised both his right hand and his left
hand toward heaven, as the more complete guarantee of the
truth of what is about to be affirmed."
This majestic angel solemnly swore in the name of the eternal
God that the events of the prophecy will last "for a
time, times, and an half [time]," or three and one-half
years (Dan. 12:7). This, of course, corresponds to the second
half of Daniel's seventieth week, or what is commonly (even
if erroneously) called the Great Tribulation - a period of
time when the Antichrist will be empowered by Satan and will
persecute God's elect (Rev. 13:5-7). Daniel was told that
this will provide the Antichrist with time for the breaking
up of "the power of the holy people" (Dan. 12:7).
Commenting on this phrase, one writer has said:
"The angel thus revealed the reason for God's permitting
the Antichrist to bring his persecution, namely, to break
the power of the Jews. As parallel passages indicate, this
power and resulting self-sufficiency [of the Jews] will need
to be broken so that the Jews will be willing to accept Christ
as their own rightful king."
This observation provides perfect logic for the view expressed
in the earlier Zion's Fire article, "Daniel Chapter Twelve
- A Deeper Look," that on this occasion and for this
purpose, Michael will stand still - he will abstain, he will
not fight for Israel.
But Daniel did not fully comprehend the ultimate outcome of
the matter. The power of his beloved people would be broken
by the Antichrist - but what then? Was that to be the ignominious
end of his nation? And so it is recorded of Daniel, "And
I heard, but I understood not. Then said I, O my Lord, what
shall be the end of these things?" (Dan. 12:8). The response
was quick in coming from the angel: "And he said, Go
thy way, Daniel." The idea is, desist from any further
inquiry into the matter. And then the reason is given:
"for the words are closed up and sealed till the time
of the end" (v. 9).
Daniel was reminded again that the words of his prophecy were
shut up (locked in the vault of God's omnipotence) and sealed
(recorded exactly as God had given them to him) until the
time of the end (Dan. 12:4). The message would be faithfully
preserved for his brethren who will desperately need it during
the last days. It will become their map and compass - their
very lifeline to eternal life.
Daniel was not given all the answers he sought. But his beloved
people, for whose welfare he was greatly concerned, would
have the benefit of the truth, which he helped bequeath to
them and which is doubtless expanded upon in the Book of Revelation.
But the angel's explanation concerning "the time of the
end" was not yet complete. He added these words: "Many
shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked
shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand;
but the wise shall understand" (Dan. 12:10).
For many years this author's understanding of the expression
"Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried"
was that it referred to "people;" that many "people"
would be "purified, and made white, and tried" during
the last days. Through further study, I have become convinced
that it is referring to "things," not "people."
Many "things" (the prophecies of Daniel) shall be
purified (clarified) and made white (plain) and tried (refined).
Not only does the Hebrew text permit such an interpretation,
but Jewish Hebrew scholars have for centuries understood it
that way. More importantly, it fits the context of both the
preceding verse and the statement that follows. Daniel had
just been told that the words of his prophecy would be closed
up and sealed until the time of the end. (Dan. 12:9). It logically
follows that at the time of the end, these prophecies would
be purified (clarified) and made white (made plain) and tried
(refined) (Dan. 12:10). And then he is told, "...but
the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall
understand [the prophecies]; but the wise shall understand
" Daniel's prophecies, which at the end of the age will
be clarified, made plain, and refined, will be of great help
to the wise (see Dan. 12:3), but they will not be understood
by the wicked. The wicked will go on doing wickedly.
The Lord spoke of the wicked in the last days this way: "But
as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son
of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they
were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage,
until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not
until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also
the coming of the Son of man be" (Mt. 24:37-39). The
wicked will not know, they will be oblivious to the prophetic
Scriptures, and totally caught off guard at the Lord's coming.
The apostle Paul, speaking of the wicked in the last days,
wrote: "For when they [the unsaved] shall say, Peace
and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them [the
unsaved], as travail upon a woman with child; and they [the
unsaved] shall not escape" (1 Th. 5:3).
In contrast, concerning believers, Paul wrote: "But ye,
brethren, are not in darkness, that that day [the Day of the
Lord] should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children
of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night,
nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others;
but let us watch and be sober" (1 Th. 5:4-6). Precisely
because they understand the prophetic Scriptures, believers
will not be caught off guard at the end of the age,
and the Lord's coming will not overtake them as a thief
in the night.
The angel had already told Daniel that the Antichrist would
persecute his people and that he would have power for three
and one-half years, or 1,260 days, based on the Hebrew calendar
(Dan. 12:7; Rev. 13:5-7). And now the angel adds an additional
thirty days to the 1,260. He told Daniel, "And from the
time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the
abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a
thousand two hundred and ninety [1,290] days" (Dan. 12:11).
The translation of the Hebrew of the above verse is awkward
and difficult. But the meaning of the text is clear. At the
midpoint of the seventieth week, the Antichrist will break
his covenant with Israel and cause the reinstituted sacrifices
at the Temple on Mount Moriah to cease. In its place, he will
institute idolatrous worship of himself. This will be an abomination
to God. This abomination will last for three and one-half
years, that is, 1,260 days plus an additional 30 days, or
a total of 1,290 days. At that point in time, the desolator
will himself be slain and consigned by God to the eternal
lake of fire.
In this regard, compare Daniel 9:27: "And he [Antichrist]
shall confirm the covenant with many [of the Jews] for one
week [seven years]: and in the midst of the week [after three
and one-half years] he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation
[offering] to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations
[the introduction of idolatry] he shall make it [the Temple]
desolate, even until the consummation [the end], and that
determined shall be poured upon the desolate [desolator]."
This slaying of the Antichrist will happen exactly 30 days
after the seventieth week, or 1,290 days from the midpoint
of the seventieth week.
The Son of God will return to the earth at the seventh trumpet,
at the precise end of the seventieth week. "And the seventh
angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying,
The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our
Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever"
(Rev. 11:15; see also Rev. 11:18).
During the extension of thirty days following the Lord's physical
return, four major events will take place: (1) the remnant
of Jews who have survived will be brought back to the holy
land; (2) the outpouring, in rapid succession, of the seven
bowl judgments of Revelation will occur; (3) the battle of
Armageddon, centered in the Jezreel Valley, will be fought;
and (4) Antichrist will be slain.
There is yet one final expansion of time. Forty-five days
are added to the thirty, making a total of seventy-five days
beyond the three and one-half years, or 1,260 days. The angel
said, "Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the
thousand three hundred and five and thirty days [1,335]"
(Dan. 12:12). This additional period of forty-five days appears
to be for the purpose of preparing and dedicating the millennial
It is perhaps of more than passing interest that there are
seventy-five days between the Jewish holidays of "the
Day of Atonement" and "Hanukkah." On the Day
of Atonement, the high priest would offer a sacrifice for
the nation, foreshadowing the spiritual rebirth of the Jewish
people at Christ's second coming. Hanukkah depicted the rededication
of the Temple to God after it was desecrated by Antiochus
Epiphanes, who is set forth in Scripture as a type of Antichrist.
The final words to Daniel by the angel are these: "But
go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and
stand in thy lot at the end of the days" (Dan. 12:13).
Daniel was not to write about a future day in which he would
have no part. The expression "thou shalt...stand in thy
lot at the end of the days" meant that he would be resurrected
to participate in all the glory associated with Christ's triumph
and the millennial Kingdom. Daniel prophesied of the Babylonians,
Medo-Persians, Greeks, Romans, and the kingdom of Antichrist,
all of which would rule over his people. But in the end, it
will be the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Son of David,
who will rule as King of all kings and Lord of all lords.
And Daniel will be there to see that great day. "Thou
shalt...stand in thy lot at the end of the days."
Daniel: A Final Look
From the Writings of Marvin J. Rosenthal
Published in Zion's Fire Magazine in September/October, 1999