12 “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. 2 Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt. 3 Those 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. 4 But 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.”
During the last days, Michael, who is responsible for standing guard over Israel, will arise to make a definitive and defeating attack against the enemies of God. But first, great distress will come upon them during the great tribulation, (Zechariah 14:1-2, Jeremiah 30:7, Matthew 24:15-28), worse than they have ever had up until that point (see also v. 7), and they have had a great deal already, including in modern times and at the hands of Egypt, Babylon, and Greece, among others. A remnant of God’s people will be saved in the final hour just before the Lord lays waste to the armies of the earth and the antichrist (Zechariah 14:3-5). There will also be a resurrection of the dead (Revelation 20:4-6). Those whose names are in the Book of Life will go to eternal life with God in heaven, while those who refused to submit to Him in life will go to everlasting pain, destruction, shame, and contempt (Revelation 20:11-15). Those who have insight, meaning those who responded to the truth of God in faith and repentance, will be rewarded in eternity and shine brightly with great honor and glory as they serve, worship, and enjoy God forever (Matthew 13:43, Revelation 2:28, 22:4). This had to be overwhelming to Daniel (v. 8), and he was encouraged to seal up the prophecy, meaning that the word of God to him in the vision would be preserved as part of the holy Scripture for the future. God’s Word endures forever, and He has preserved it even to the present day. People now go back and forth, travelling with ease, and knowledge and information are available with ease that has never before been possible. This is important because it means that the future is here and that the coming prophecies are going to happen sooner rather than later.
5 Then 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. 6 And 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?” 7 I 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.
The vision continued with two other angelic beings, one on each side of the river. One asked the other concerning how long it would be until the end of all of the wonders in the revelation just given to Daniel concerning the very last days. The other answered with arms outstretched to heaven in praise and glory to the God of heaven and in His name which is sure, true, and permanent that it would be for three and a half years (Revelation 11:2, 13:5, Daniel 9:27, Matthew 24:15). God’s wrath will be poured out upon the world during the great tribulation period (Revelation 6-16), and Israel will suffer greatly. The antichrist will break his covenant of peace with Israel and will tread the holy land under and accomplish the abomination of desolation just as Epiphanes had done. The power of the holy people, Israel, will be shattered at the end of that time (Zechariah 14:2), and that is when Jesus will return and shatter the antichrist and preserve a remnant of His people (Zechariah 14:3-5). Furthermore, those of His people who died in faith will come back to life for the coming kingdom. Thus, even though the antichrist may have won on earth for a time, he will have lost the war because Jesus keeps His own for eternity and punishes those who do iniquity for eternity as well.
8 As for me, I heard but could not understand; so I said, “My lord, what will be the outcome of these events?” 9 He said, “Go your way, Daniel, for these words are concealed and sealed up until the end time. 10 Many 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. 11 From the time that the regular sacrifice is abolished and the abomination of desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days. 12 How blessed is he who keeps waiting and attains to the 1,335 days! 13 But 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 verbalized the lack of understanding that he had concerning the future events. Given how difficult they are to understand and how he didn’t have Revelation or some of the other prophetic books to help him, the angel said just to go his way and live his life. At the proper time, these events would be more understandable. Such is the nature of prophecy. Just as Jesus was able to open the eyes of the disciples on the Road to Emmaus as He showed them how He was prophesied in the Old Testament, they finally saw it when they needed to get it (Luke 24:27). Daniel didn’t need to fret about his lack of understanding concerning the last days, but his job was to record the revelation that he was given so that those who needed it later would have it. There will be great trial and tribulation on the earth, and through it all the wicked will not repent (Revelation 16:9, 11, 21). But those who have faith will understand what they need to understand. The second half of the tribulation period, the great tribulation (Matthew 24:21), will be forty two months (Revelation 11:2, 13:5). The two witnesses prophesy for 1260 days before they are taken up to heaven (Revelation 11:3). The period from the end of the 1260 days to 1290 days is likely one in which the antichrist meets his end and is cast into the lake of fire. Perhaps the judgment seat of Christ takes place during this time as well as the marriage supper of the Lamb, and then maybe at 1335 days, forty-five days later, the millennial kingdom begins (Revelation 20). The exact unfolding of the events is not given, but it is clear that they will be better events as time passes. This points to eternal rewards and the eternal reign of Christ as the divine calendar concludes. What the Scripture has revealed concerning the future will happen, for God has established it as fact. Nothing can thwart His plan, not even the antichrist. The hope for Daniel and for all of God’s people who have put their faith in Him for salvation is that they will be raised again to eternal life for their allotted portion at the end of the age (1 Corinthians 15:50-58, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Believers are not left guessing about life after death, nor should they wallow in a lack of hope and certainty about the future. They will be raised again to be with Christ. This is a blessed hope for them (Titus 2:13). Believers from before the tribulation period are seen accompanying Christ as He fulfills His final plans concerning the end of the age, even being seated on thrones before the millennial kingdom begins (Revelation 20:4). There is great hope knowing that believers will be on the winning side (Revelation 20:6) and that God has the end worked out from the beginning. God’s people will shine brightly in eternity (Isaiah 60:1) because Jesus will be their Light. Thus, Christians should go their way, like Daniel did, being faithful in their time and place, knowing that the best is yet to come. They can rejoice because they serve a God Whose dominion is everlasting, unlike nations which rise and fall according to God’s timetable and divine purpose.