The Final Vision of Daniel: Deliverance from Exile (Daniel 12:1-4)
Outline of Daniel
Daniel 1, exile
Daniel 2, statue: four kingdoms, everlasting dominion
Daniel 3, delivered from the fiery furnace
Daniel 4, Nebuchadnezzar humbled
Daniel 5, Belshazzar humbled
Daniel 6, delivered from the lions’ den
Daniel 7-9, visions: four kingdoms, everlasting dominion
Daniel 10-12, return from exile
From James Hamilton, With the Clouds of Heaven: The Book of Daniel in Biblical Theology
The book of Daniel has the overarching theme of God’s sovereignty over His kingdom purposes … this is seen through world empires (Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome). These purposes unfold in the time of Israel’s exile culminating in Israel’s Messiah coming to reign over the nations (7:13-14). Chapter 12 provides the final chapter in the vision of the coming kingdom. GS
Great Tribulation - Believers are not promised an easy time. Tidal waves of persecution ebb and flow, but God's purpose is to purify us through the fiery furnaces of life. The final deliverance envisioned by Daniel in the last chapter is resurrection - Daniel 12:1-4. “At that time Michael shall stand up...And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt..” It is apparent that Michael is the “angel of the Lord” and essentially is the pre-incarnate Christ (Dan. 12:1, Jude 9, Zech. 3:2.).
Great Deliverance - The language of restoration is of the “national resurrection” of Israel by means of the new covenant in Christ. All of the new covenant promises speak of the return to the Land after the exile (Jer. 31-32; Ezek. 36-37). These themes of regathering in the land and new life from the grave, expressed to the Jews a glorious future. Israel will be vindicated before the world and raised to life from the death of exile. The surprising way this is fulfilled was scandalous in the first century. Jesus, who was true Israel (Matt. 2:15), was “raised because of our justification” (Rom. 4:25). Jesus' resurrection brought the glorious future for God's faithful people into the middle of history.
Great Hope - This resurrection should not obscure what God has been doing through time all along. This creation constantly resonates with the pattern of death and resurrection. From the evening death to the morning life, to the season of spring that follows the death of winter, from the planting of dead seeds from which life grows, from the cycle of civilizations which crumble and upon which a new city arises — the gospel is engraved into life. Like Daniel, we find ourselves in cultural exile. We were born in Babylon. The glorious days of Christendom are a memory. Western Civilization with its iron and clay feet is in decline. If we are listening to the lessons of Daniel, we should be immediately encouraged to know what God will do is much greater than we can imagine. Just as the new covenant was greater than the old covenant, so the hope we should have for future kingdom manifestation. God promises, “Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever” (Dan. 12:3).
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as receive a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more