Contending For The Faith

March 5, 2009

Daniel 12: The Great Tribulation

Filed under: Bible Study,Daniel,eschatology,John MacArthur — Lynda O @ 12:57 pm
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Now to wrap up the study of Daniel, with a look at the 12th and last chapter. Here I reference John MacArthur’s first sermon on “The Great Tribulation” part 1. 

Daniel 12 opens with a message of hope, with the opening words “and at that time.” Here it is clear that the last verses of chapter 11 refer to the time of the end, for chapter 12 continues without break from the previous events. The next few verses make it clear what will happen: Michael will arise, a great time of distress will come, followed by the resurrection of the dead: some to everlasting life, some to everlasting shame and contempt. As I now have been studying through Revelation, up to chapter 6 in that study, I see even more how the different, parallel passages in scripture describe and give details to the same event in the future, and the very fact that the time of trouble is connected with the resurrection should make it obvious (and here I think of the Preterist error) that this has not happened yet.

Here are a few highlights regarding Daniel chapter 12, from MacArthur’s sermons:

Special distress: The “time of distress” is a special distress, none like any before it, and the term is a Hebrew idiom, a term used and described elsewhere throughout the Old and New Testament: Exodus 9 (verses 18 and 24), Deuteronomy 4:30, Jeremiah’s reference to “Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7); also Zechariah 13:8. Jesus describes it in Matthew 24, and Revelation 6 through 19 give the details of the last 3 1/2 years of this time.

The hope comes — Michael, a special defender. Described several places in scripture, he is the one given the “singular responsibility of defending the people of God.” Earlier in Daniel, Michael assisted Gabriel (Daniel 10); in Jude verse 9 Michael is even fighting Satan for the body of Moses. Revelation chapter 12 gives more description here; after the child (Christ) was snatched up to heaven, and after the woman (Israel) fled into the desert to be protected for 1,260 days (another reference to this same 3 1/2 year period of time) — in verse 7 Michael and the holy angels fight against the dragon. Daniel 12:7 also clues us to the time reference, that the events of the previous verses (about Michael coming, great distress, and the resurrection) are for “a time, times, and half a time” — another way of describing the 3 1/2 years.

Next comes a special deliverance: “But at that time your people-everyone whose name is found written in the book-will be delivered.” Jeremiah 30 agrees here, as does Romans 11, “and so all Israel will be saved.” Ezekiel 20:33 similarly describes this time of deliverance. As MacArthur points out, not every Jew alive on the earth at that time will be saved; God is going to purge, put them under the rod (Ezekiel 20); Zechariah 13:9 says two-thirds will die. We don’t know how this remnant comes to faith, and the Bible doesn’t give us all the specifics, but one of the key things to remember is the two witnesses set apart by God, in Revelation 11; Revelation 7 and Revelation 14 tell of the 144,000 evangelistic witnesses — 12,000 from each of the tribes — during this time.

A special destiny: the climax to the Tribulation is the resurrection. Some Bible scholars (see, for example, this blog article regarding New Covenant Theology, that the Jews were unsaved, unregenerate and served only as a type of the true people of God) contend that the Jews never had a clear understanding of life after death, but several passages tell us otherwise: Abraham clearly understood (see Hebrews 11:19), also Job 19:25; Isaiah 26:19; Hosea 13, and the words of David in Psalm 16:10. Revelation 20 gives more detail about this very special resurrection, and here a synopsis: the first resurrection has three parts: 1) Christ, the firstfruits; 2) the church at the rapture (1 Thessalonians 4, “the dead in Christ shall rise first” and then they who are alive are caught up together to meet the Lord in the air”); 3) the raising of the Old Testament saints, and the Tribulation saints. As noted here, the church is removed and not involved in the Great Tribulation; we weren’t in the first 69 weeks, we aren’t going to be in the 70th either; God is then going to go back to dealing with Israel, then “after the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” The second resurrection has just one part, a thousand years later at the end of the Millennial Kingdom, when God raises the bodies of the unjust, and they go into the lake of fire. Now Daniel does not see the thousand years in between, this is part of the flow of redemptive history and progressive revelation. The Old Testament prophets wrote many things they did not understand (as Peter later states), things which often included great leaps from Christ’s first coming to his second, all in the same sentence.

Finally, a special dividend: verse 3 “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.” As MacArthur describes it, “in eternity we will be rewarded by the capacity to manifest the blazing glory of God… in eternity we will shine as stars.”

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