Daniel 12 Bible Study: How to Shine Like the Stars

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Book of Daniel Bible Study Commentary Chapter 12

Daniel 12 How to Shine Like the Stars

by I Gordon

The last study focused on the prophecies concerning a coming world leader and a time in history that you probably don't want to be around in. In brief, that's because the coming world leader is the Antichrist and, as we shall see in the first verse of chapter 12, the time is one of  'distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations.'  Of course, the other side of the coin is that it will be amazing time that will culminate in the return of the true world leader... Jesus Christ!

This study will look at the final chapter in the book of Daniel. It will look at the last prophetic verses given on this coming tribulation but it won't end there. Any focus on Bible prophecy and things to come should, if taught correctly, get us to think about eternal matters. And in doing so it is my hope that that will have an influence on you - for right here and now. Let's kick it off.

It was the worst of times, it was the best of times...

Daniel 12:1,4 'At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise.  There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then.  But at that time your people - everyone whose name is found written in the book - will be delivered... But you, Daniel, close up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.'.'

Daniel 12 starts with a statement that is pretty full on. Daniel is told that the coming tribulation and rise of the Antichrist will lead to time of unequalled distress not seen since the foundation of the world. Now there have been some pretty horrific times in human history so we shouldn't just read over this statement too quickly. It will be an unprecedented time. Jesus of course spoke about this same period saying:

Matthew 24:21-22 "For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. (22) "Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.

The prophet Jeremiah also spoke of this time saying:

Jeremiah 30:6-7 Ask now, and see, Whether a man is ever in labor with child? So why do I see every man with his hands on his loins Like a woman in labor, And all faces turned pale? (7) Alas! For that day is great, So that none is like it; And it is the time of Jacob's trouble, But he shall be saved out of it.

While the whole world will be in upheaval during this time, this time of distress will be even more intensified for the nation of Israel. As Jeremiah says - it is the time of Jacob's trouble. And yet we find something else rather remarkable from Daniel's prophecy...Israel has a protector of the highest order! Michael, the only archangel specified in scripture, is assigned to protect the nation of Israel! And though the time of distress and tribulation will be unequalled, yet all of Daniel's people, the Jews, whose name are written in the book will be delivered.  [1] 

Daniel is then instructed to seal the words of the scroll. I believe this means that the words of this prophecy were to be protected until the time of the end when their words will become invaluable to those who are seeing the fulfilment of its words. 

Two key prophecies in Daniel 12

Two other interesting prophecies are given in this passage:

  1. Many will go here and there (or to and fro)
  2. Knowledge will increase.

In its context the fulfillment of these words are likely to be related to the study of prophecy and the words of Daniel. A vast increase in knowledge of Bible prophecy has, and is, occurring. Many others take these as general prophecies of the travel  [2]  and knowledge explosion that is occurring at an ever increasing rate.  [3] 

The shattering of the holy people's power

Then I, Daniel, looked, and behold, two others stood, one on this bank of the stream and one on that bank of the stream. And someone said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the stream, "How long shall it be till the end of these wonders?" And I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the stream; he raised his right hand and his left hand toward heaven and swore by him who lives forever that it would be for a time, times, and half a time, and that when the shattering of the power of the holy people comes to an end all these things would be finished. (Dan 12:5-7 ESV)

In this part of the vision, Daniel again sees the 'man clothed in linen' (from Daniel chapter 10:5). This 'man' is likely to have been Christ. Another asks the man in linen how long it will be until the end of this time of unrivalled distress... A good question don't you think? If you were to see this period of time one of the first things you'd want to know is how long will this last? In His answer Jesus not only gives us the exact time frame for this period of tribulation but also a key requirement that must occur before the end can come. The length of this period is said to be 'a time, times, and half a time.' Now, if you have got a good memory you'll note that we have come across this before (see Dan 7:25, 9:27). It is a reference to the last 3 â years of Daniel's 70th 'seven'. But look also at the key requirement for this time period to end - 'when power of the holy people is shattered...' That mighty proud, resilient nation of Israel must be brought to its knees. They must be brought to the place where they will acknowledge their offense in rejecting Jesus as their Messiah  [4]  and cry out for Him to return!

A couple more time periods just to complicate matters!

I heard, but I did not understand. Then I said, "O my lord, what shall be the outcome of these things?" He said, "Go your way, Daniel, for the words are shut up and sealed until the time of the end. Many shall purify themselves and make themselves white and be refined, but the wicked shall act wickedly. And none of the wicked shall understand, but those who are wise shall understand. And from the time that the regular burnt offering is taken away and the abomination that makes desolate is set up, there shall be 1,290 days. Blessed is he who waits and arrives at the 1,335 days. (Dan 12:8-12 ESV)

Now Daniel doesn't fully understand what he is being told  [5]  ... But it doesn't matter. These prophecies are for the time of the end and those that are wise and live at that time will understand. Now two more time frames are thrown into the pot in these verses. You'll see above that from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be 1,290 days. But then even slightly more cryptic is the next sentence that tells us that blessed is he who makes the 1,335 days! Let's try unraveling this!

The first period mentioned is in relation to the desecration and judgment. It is telling us from the point of time when the Antichrist puts himself into the rebuilt temple and declares himself to be God until the time that judgment is complete will be 1,290 days. We know that Jesus returns after 1,260 days so there is a further 30 day period where the nations will be judged for their part in the persecution of God's people.  [6]  The second time frame of 1335 days involves a blessing. Blessed is he that makes it to the 1335 days! This time period will have the same starting point but the extra 45 day period (from the 1290 days) will be the time until the Messianic Kingdom officially begins. Anyone who makes it to this time truly is blessed!

So how are we to live?

Daniel 12:13 'As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance.".' 

Daniel 12:2-3 'Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. 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."

I have left these three verses for last because I feel they help us focus on eternal matters the best. Verse 13 contains things that are true of all mankind and other things that are only true of some.

True of all or some? Notes

We all go our own way

Everyone in this world chooses the way in which they will go. For some, that way is God's way. Daniel was one of these. He could be told to go his own way because his way was God's way! Others do not walk in God's way but choose a broader wider road.

We all come to an end

Again, all of mankind reaches its end. All die (even if we sometimes think that we are bullet proof) and come to the end in this life and it normally occurs quicker than we expect!

We will all rise

Everyone will rise from the dead. For some it is a resurrection unto life. For others it is a resurrection unto judgement.


Some will enter rest

Daniel was promised that at the end of his life he would enter into rest. That is also true of all those who are 'in Christ' and have found salvation through Jesus. But to those who did not walk in God's way 'there is no rest for the wicked' as the scripture says. They will only experience the consequences of judgement for a life lived in rebellion to the provision of salvation God made available in Christ. Scary proposition.

Some receive an allotted inheritance

God's rewards and inheritance are for all those 'in Christ' but their fullness and measure is in accordance to our faithful work and dedication to God's calling in this life.

Book of Daniel Bible Study Commentary Chapter 12 The importance of this life is shown in verse 2:  'And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.'  Firstly, note that there is a resurrection. Death is not the end. Though this body grows old and dies, our soul does not  [7]  . The resurrection is a resurrection of the body. Now, at the resurrection some will be raised to everlasting life... yet others to everlasting contempt and shame. Their shame and punishment will last forever. That is the simple cold hard truth of the matter though it is hard to think about.  [8] 

But note also the beauty of the next verse: '  And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.'  Those that walk in the ways of God and those who help others to find and walk that path shall shine!  [9]  Forever! What a great promise and a great motivation to walk in those ways! What you do now impacts eternity. It impacts your rewards. It impacts your inheritance. The Bible says 'He who wins souls is wise'. They will be eternally grateful and you will be rewarded accordingly.


All of the Bible writers, when thinking of the last days or eternal mattes always brought it back as to how it should influence how you live your life today.

What type of people should we be in view of these things?
  • John said it like this: '  Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.  And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.'  (1 John 3:2) 
  • Peter, when thinking of the end of the age said it like this:  'Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God.' (2 Pet 3:12) 
  • The Apostle Paul spent a whole chapter talking about the resurrection to come in 1 Cor 15, but closed with these words:  'Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable,  always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain  .' (1 Cor 15:58)

And that is the truth. If we believe that this life is a rehearsal for the reality that is to come, then our lives should reflect that. We should abound in God's work as He leads. We should realise that this work is not in vain (even if little or no fruit is seen in this life!). None of it is wasted to God for He sees and records all. May we be like Daniel who at a ripe old age could look back over a faithful life and die content that the best is still yet to come.

[1] ↩  This 'remnant' that God always has among the Jews equates to the 'All Israel' that Paul said would be saved at the end of the age after God turns again to save that nation - His covenant people. This will occur after the church is raptured I believe, when the full number of the gentiles have come into the Church. It is then that God turns again to fulfill His promises to the nation of Israel as a whole. As previously mentioned in the last study (I think!) Zechariah tells us that 1/3 of the Jews will be brought through this terrible time and are saved (Zech 13:8-9).

[2] ↩  Which is a good subject for a footnote don't you think? And maybe a big one at that! Since the dawn of time to the turn of the nineteenth century men and women travelled no faster than a horse could run. Sir Isaac Newton wrote in 1680 about Daniel 12:4 saying -  "Personally I cannot help but believe that these refer to the end of the times. Men will travel from country to country in an unprecedented manner. There may be some inventions which will enable people to travel much more quickly than they do now."  Newton even went on to say people might travel in these inventions in speeds that exceed 40 miles per hour!

80 years later, and the French Atheist philosopher Voltaire was on the scene. One day Voltaire said to a friend,  "It took twelve ignorant fishermen to establish Christianity; I will show the world how one Frenchman can destroy it."  Upon reading what Newton wrote, Voltaire stated:  "See what a fool Christianity makes of an otherwise brilliant man! A scientist like Newton actually writes that man may travel at a rate of 40 mph, has he forgotten that if a man would travel at this rate he would be suffocated? His heart would stand still." 

As a side note twenty-five years after Voltaire died, his home was purchased by the Geneva Bible Society and became a Bible storage building, and his printing press was used to print an entire edition of the Bible! Well, even Newton, as great as he was, couldn't see that one day man would fly in planes able to break the sound barrier, travel to the moon and explore the solar system. And who knows what is still to come?

[3] ↩  In terms of the knowledge explosion, consider the following facts. Well, they were facts... by the time you read this they will be way out of date! (2016 note - 'Myspace' below?!? In 2008 Myspace was the most visited website in the US surpassing Google. But something called Facebook was on the rise! As of April 2016 Myspace had slid to 1747 th place in the US most visited and Facebook now has a staggering 1.65 billion active user per month. If Facebook was a country it would now be the most populous nation on earth!)

:: There are 3000 new books published each day
:: It has been estimated that 1 week of the New York Times contains more information than the average person in the 18th Century would come across in their lifetime.
:: The first TXT message was sent in 1992. Today the daily messages exceed the population of the planet.
:: Google search in 2006 were 2.7 billion per month. In 2008 they were 31 billion per month.
:: If 'Myspace' was a country it would be the 5th largest in the world (Myspace has over 200 million users)
:: It has been estimated that the top 10 in demand jobs in 2010 did not exist in 2004.
:: Technical information is now doubling every 2 years. That means that for a student doing a 4 year degree, â of what they have learned by their 3rd year will be outdated.

We live in a world of change... You need to replace your old CRT television (that you had for 20 years plus but has finally died) and so you swat up on Plasma TV's. Your friend tells you that Plasma's are on their way out and that LCD is really the way to go. So you go into the shop and you find that well, really, LED TV's are better than LCD which are now on the way out. You finally make a purchase, get it home, and find that 3-D TV's are now 'the new thing'! Arrrrgh!

As someone once said, 'by the time it takes me to get to where it's at, I'm where it was.'

[4] ↩  See Hosea 5:14-6:2, Matt 23:37-39 The Jewish nation will be brought to the place where they will acknowledge their guilt cry out for their Messiah to return. This won't be an easy process! They are naturally very able and rely upon their own wisdom and strength to survive. But the odds at the end of the age are totally overwhelming. Every nation shall come against Israel (Zech 14:1-2) but when pushed to the very edge of their own annihilation, they shall cry out for their Messiah Jesus. And He shall come!

[5] ↩  Daniel is certainly not going to be the last person to be confused by the prophecies he was given! They have led to all sorts of interpretations over the years since they were given. But it is also true that in the last days knowledge will increase and as the time period spoken about comes more into view, the words of Daniel also become clearer.

[6] ↩  Jesus referred to this as the judgement of the sheep and the goats. See Matt 25:31-46. The same judgement is referred to by Joel in chapter 3:1-14.

[7] ↩  We always think of ourselves in terms of our body yet that is just the shell that contains the real person. C.S Lewis said it well when he said 'You do not have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.'

[8] ↩  Do not let people try to convince you that the Bible teaches Universal salvation (that everyone gets saved in the end) or in Annihilation (that the wicked are annihilated in the lake of fire and don't exist anymore). Both theories have far more to do with what a person would like to believe than what the Bible actually teaches. Daniel talks about everlasting life and everlasting shame. The same word is used of the length of time (eternal, without end) that both experience. Jesus said the same thing in Matt 25:46. The contempt of the wicked will last just as long as the eternal life of the righteous does.

[9] ↩  There could well be a literal aspect to this 'shining'. When John saw Jesus in glory, he said that His face 'shone like the sun in all its strength'. Well God's glory shall shine through us as well because when we see Jesus we shall be like Him. When writing about the resurrection, Paul said that there is one glory of the sun, another of the moon and all of the stars differ in glory from each other. Then he said that this is how it is in the resurrection.