Daniel 12:1-3, 13 CSB
1 At that time Michael, the great prince who stands watch over your people, will rise up. There will be a time of distress such as never has occurred since nations came into being until that time. But at that time all your people who are found written in the book will escape.
2 Many who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake, some to eternal life, and some to disgrace and eternal contempt.
3 Those who have insight will shine like the bright expanse of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.
13 But as for you, go on your way to the end; you will rest, and then you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance at the end of the days.”
We have been following God’s progressive revelation in scripture as we have examined two passages from the Old Testament.
When we examined Job’s declaration of his hope, we learned that death is real, and that it will mean returning to the dust. But the good news is that we have a Redeemer who is also real. Our Redeemer is going to stand on our dust and restore us to life, and we will see him with our own eyes. There is going to be a resurrection.
Jesus said the same thing. In our Easter theme verse, John 14:19, Jesus said “Because I live, you will live too.”
Last week, we looked at Isaiah’s declaration of hope in the same resurrection. He told his people “Your dead will live; their bodies will rise” (Isaiah 26:19). His people were discouraged because they did not have victory. They seemed like failures. But Isaiah reminded them that their God does not fail. They could trust in the resurrection because it was something God was going to do for them.
Today’s lesson is from Daniel. God revealed the future to Daniel. He learned of a succession of empires that would rule over the earth in the coming centuries.
• The Babylonian empire under Nebuchadnezzar
• The Medo-Persian empire under Cyrus
• The Macedonian or Grecian empire under Alexander
• The Roman empire under the Caesars
Today’s text comes from the last chapter of Daniel. In it, God gives Daniel a brief glimpse of a future further than ever. He shows Daniel what is going to happen at “the end of the days” (13).
Let’s walk through what Daniel learned.
Daniel learned of a future time of unparalleled distress (1a)
The days of Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon will come to an end. The days of Cyrus’ Persia will come to an end. The days of Alexander’s Greece will come to an end. The days of the Caesars’ Rome will come to an end. What will be left will be an age of mixed empires, symbolized in a vision by feet of iron and clay. Then God’s kingdom will come to earth, symbolized in a vision as a stone cut out without hands (Daniel 2:34). The stone will strike the statue and crush it, and then the stone itself will become a mountain and fill the whole earth (Daniel 2:35).
Human history as we know it is going to come to an end, and God’s permanent kingdom is going to begin.
Daniel learned this about that point in the future:
“At that time Michael, the great prince who stands watch over your people, will rise up. There will be a time of distress such as never has occurred since nations came into being until that time.”
Michael is the archangel Michael, and he oversees the people of Israel. He will be waging war with the dragon at the end of time according to Revelation 12:7. It is no stretch to conclude that this battle will result in a time of unparalleled distress on earth.
Next, Daniel learned that some of his people would escape that distress (1b).
God told Daniel that “at that time all your people who are found written in the book will escape.”
Not all of Daniel’s people will escape that worldwide cataclysmic event. But some of them would. Particularly, all of them who are found written in the book will escape.
Now, what book is he talking about? The apostle Paul mentioned some of his fellow missionaries, and he said that their “names are in the book of life” (Philippians 4:3).
The book of Revelation mentions that “book of life” six times. It says that on judgment day, anyone whose name is not found in the book of life will be thrown into the lake of fire and will experience the second death. But those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life will inherit the holy city, new Jerusalem, have the glory of God in their midst, and will never again experience death, mourning, crying or pain.
That is the great escape, and Daniel learned that he would be in that number.
But Daniel also learned that some of his people would not escape, but would have another permanent destiny (2)
“Many who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake, some to eternal life, and some to disgrace and eternal contempt.”
Dr. John Roller wrote that this verse is “one of the most beautiful statements regarding the resurrection of the dead in Scripture” (God Is In Control, 64.). But he did have to explain that the Hebrew word translated “many” in the verse does not imply that some Israelites will not be raised. The word means a large number – lots of people.
Roller explains that “Each one of the billions of people who have ever lived and died (and are now sleeping in the dust of the earth according to Daniel 12:2) will someday awaken – return to conscious life – and be judged.”
The result of the judgment will be that some of Daniel’s people will inherit permanent life. But some of them will not. They will inherit disgrace and permanent contempt. Roller says they “according to hundreds of other passages throughout the Bible, will be completely destroyed – even the memory of them being considered shameful and worthy of contempt throughout all the ages of eternity.”
Daniel learned that he would be raised from the dead at the end of days (13).
By this time, Daniel is starting to sing “Lord, I want to be in that number when the saints go marching in.” And he learns that he will.
• “But as for you, go on your way to the end; you will rest, and then you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance at the end of the days.”
I want you to notice the three R’s in this passage. They are not Readin’ Ritin’ and Rithmatic. But there are three R’s.
Daniel discovers that he is going to rest. His life is going to come to an end, and he’s going to fall asleep in death. He’s not going to get his reward at death. His reward is coming when his Redeemer stands on the dust and calls it back to life. Until then, he waits unconscious in the grave. The most common figure of speech in the Bible for death is sleep.
Then, Daniel discovers that he is going to rise. He’s going to hear the voice of Jesus and wake up from his sleep. The most common figure of speech in the Bible for the resurrection is the word “awake.” When Paul argues for the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15, the word he uses is egeirō.
Egeirō means you are not the person God intended you to be, but He can change that. Sin has imprinted itself on your life so that you begin dying the moment you begin breathing. You have an appointment in the cemetery – the sleeping place. But the good news is that our God has promised to wake you up. He will restore you to life again, and a permanent life.
Daniel discovers that once he has risen, there will be a third R. He will receive his allotted inheritance.
That inheritance is eternal life! He’s not going to wake up to fall asleep again. Lazarus did that. Jesus raised him from the dead, but he eventually died again.
But when we wake up, it will be to sleep no more!
“Ain’t no grave gonna keep my body down,
Ain’t no grave gonna keep my body down,
When I hear that trumpet sound,
I’m gonna get up out of the ground,
Ain’t no grave gonna keep my body down.”
Finally, Daniel learned to follow God’s great commission for his life (3)
Here we get the “so what?” of the resurrection. Don’t miss this. There is a reason you are going to be blessed with a resurrection to eternal life.
“Those who have insight will shine like the bright expanse of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.”
We are saved for the purpose of leading others to righteousness.
Jesus said “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).
He commissions those whose names are in the book of life to so live their lives that they draw others into that same destiny.