Bible Study - Daniel's two destinies: Resurrection to life or shame?

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Bible Study Series: Resurrection, Rapture & the Redeemer

Daniel's two destinies: Resurrection to life or shame?

by I Gordon

Daniel: Resurrection of Life or shame

Welcome once again as we continue looking at what the Bible teaches concerning the resurrection of the dead. Now there is a progression in the revelation given in the Bible on this important topic. Most of the light comes in the New Testament but it is interesting and rewarding to also see what God revealed before the coming of Jesus. So far we have focused on:

  • Job - which gave his individual hope, how he would rise from the dead and see his redeemer, from his flesh, in the last days.  
  • Isaiah - gave hope to God's people as a whole who will rise and be protected in their God-given chambers (in Heaven) before the wrath of God is revealed.

This study is from the book of Daniel which gives greater revelation about the resurrection. Specifically we will see that there are two resurrections and two destinies. There is a resurrection unto life and a resurrection unto shame and contempt... and you want to make sure you are part of the right one! But more on that later. So we will explore:

  • What an angel, likely Gabriel, revealed to Daniel from a heavenly book about the last days and the two resurrections
  • Shame! - What was seen about the resurrection unto everlasting contempt
  • Shine! - What was seen about the resurrection unto life
  • What was revealed to Daniel that we should do in the current life to be rewarded in the next!  

All of this will come from a deep dive into the first 3 verses in Daniel 12. Let's go. 

Gabriel's revelation to Daniel concerning the end

Dan 12:1-3  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.  (2)  Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.  (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.

We'll focus on verses 2 and 3 mostly but let's set the scene and context using verse 1. Verse 1 starts with 'at that time'... so what time is that then? In Daniel 10 an angel, likely Gabriel, came to Daniel and expounds on events still to come which he said are recorded in the 'Book of Truth' (Dan 10:21). Before we move on too quickly, let me say how awesome it is that God knows all things and records all things... even in advance! Nothing, absolutely nothing, is outside the plan. It is always good to remember that in our crazy days! It has been recorded and partially revealed in His word so that we would believe and have confidence and hope. Before moving on let's just take a wee detour to the heavenly library to see what else is recorded! 

The Heavenly Library

Did you know that scripture references various books in heaven that record different aspects of our life? Here are seven books in the heavenly library:

  1. The book that records our trials and tears
    Psa 56:8 You have taken account of my wanderings; Put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book?
  2. The book that records all of our the days of our life, even before you were born!
    Psa 139:16  Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.
  3. The book of remembrance for those who fear the Lord and speak to one another about Him
    Mal 3:16  Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who esteem His name.
  4. The book of future events
    Dan 10:21  (The angel said to Daniel) But first I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth...
  5. The book for those that will be delivered in the last days
    Dan 12:1  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.
  6. The Lamb's book of life for all that are saved
    Rev 13:8  All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.
  7. The book of deeds by which the unsaved will be judged
    Rev 20:12  And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.

The events that were given to Daniel from 'the book of truth' included God’s plans for Israel under the Persian and Grecian empires (Dan 11:2-35) but also state what will occur at the end of this age under the antichrist (Dan 11:36-45). So the start of Daniel 12 carries on with details 'at that time' - that is, the time of the future antichrist. It says that this will be the worst time of distress since there has been nations on this earth. That is a "gulp!" sentence right there which Jesus repeated in matt 24:21. It will be a time when the Archangel Michael takes his stand to protect the nation of Israel against the forces of wickedness.1 But again, even in the midst of such difficulty on the earth, nothing is outside the control and plan of God. Did you see what it also says in verse 1? 'At that time your people (Israel), everyone whose name is found written in the book, will be delivered.'2 So for the obedient among Israel there is a place of refuge and deliverance even in such terrible times. Now it is in this context that we read about the resurrection.

The two resurrections & two destinies

Dan 12:2  Multitudes who sleep3 in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.

Daniel 12:2 gives another event at the time of the end which is the resurrection of Old Testament saints. What's more, we find out that there are two resurrections. One that leads to life and one that leads to shame and everlasting contempt. This second resurrection of the unbelievers was new revelation in the Old Testament as none of the other passages had previously mentioned what happens to those not saved. You probably remember that Jesus also spoke about the two resurrections saying:

Joh 5:25,28-29  "Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live... (28)  "Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice,  (29)  and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.

Jesus also called the first resurrection, 'the resurrection of the just':

Luk 14:13-14  But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind.  (14)  And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just."

When we get to the book of Revelation further light is given and we see that there is a gap of 1000 years between the two resurrections. Firstly, at the beginning of the Messianic Kingdom, there is a resurrection of Old Testament and Tribulation saints. Then, at the end of the Messianic Kingdom there is a resurrection of the wicked for the Great White Throne of Judgment. 

Rev 20:4-5  I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.  (5)  (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection.

The 'first' resurrection clarified 

You will note that the resurrection at the start of the Messianic Kingdom on Rev 20:5 is called 'the first resurrection'. So what does that mean? The first ever? Do believers 'in Christ' not get raised till then? Is this the first resurrection in time, or in contrast to the second resurrection? 

As we have seen, everyone born on this planet will be resurrected... but not all at the same time and not to the same result! The 'first resurrection' is to LIFE and includes Jesus Himself and ALL believers, from all ages, but NOT ALL at the same time. It can be useful to think of it like the harvests in Israel's calendar. In March/April you have the barley harvest. Around May you have the wheat harvest. Later around September you have the fruit harvests (grapes, figs, pomegranates etc). The resurrection unto life is like that.

1 Corinthians 15:20-23 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep... But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.

The 'first resurrection' is a resurrection of the 'just' unto life and is made up of different phases (like the harvests) consisting of the following:

  1. Jesus Christ Himself - His was the first resurrection (the firstfruits), unto a glorified body.
  2. Then those that belong to Him when He returns at the rapture (This is the Church - all those 'in Christ') 
  3. Then the two witnesses during the tribulation (Rev 11:11-12)
  4. Then the Tribulation and Old Testament saints at the start of the Messianic Kingdom age (Rev 20:4-6)

So Rev 20:5-6 is not speaking of the first ever resurrection in time as we can see above. The saints that are raised at that time are part of the first resurrection which is unto life. This is contrasted with the 2nd resurrection which is of the wicked unto judgement and the second death (Rev 20:11-15). That, quite frankly, is a frightening thought and you don't want to be part of that one! : (

Shame! - The resurrection unto everlasting contempt

So, as we have seen, Daniel, Jesus and the book of Revelation, all speak of a resurrection of the wicked. It is said to be a resurrection unto shame and everlasting contempt. The Bible does NOT teach annihilation of the wicked. It teaches everlasting shame, contempt and punishment.4 I can't even imagine what it would be like to be resurrected to stand before the Judge of all creation, knowing that you had rejected Him, spurned His offer of salvation and now must face Him in judgement. Scripture speaks of it as 'trampling the Son of God under foot', 'treating the blood of the covenant as an unholy thing' and 'insulting the Spirit of Grace' and asks 'how much more severely should such a man should be judged?' (Heb 10:29). 

Eternal Shame & Contempt

So those that reject Jesus face a resurrection of shame and contempt. The word shame here is 'cherpâh' and means 'disgrace, shame, reproach'. To give you a couple of examples:

  1. It was used by David about Israel's shame when trodden down by Goliath and the Philistines. They, as a nation, ,were meant to represent and be a witness for the true God. They were meant to walk in His strength and courage yet here they were in total fear against this pagan giant!  
    1Sa 17:26  David asked the men standing near him, "What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?
  2. Another example comes in the reproach from the shameful and disgraceful rape of Tamar by her half-brother Ammon in the days of King David:
    2Sa 13:11-14  When she (Tamar) brought them to him to eat, he (Ammon) took hold of her and said to her, "Come, lie with me, my sister."  (12)  But she answered him, "No, my brother, do not violate me, for such a thing is not done in Israel; do not do this disgraceful thing!  (13)  "As for me, where could I get rid of my reproach? And as for you, you will be like one of the fools in Israel. Now therefore, please speak to the king, for he will not withhold me from you. However, he would not listen to her; since he was stronger than she, he violated her and lay with her. "

Thus the 2nd resurrection is a resurrection to utter shame and disgrace as they stand before the King of heaven, the One they rejected and considered as unworthy. These are solemn thoughts of a solemn scene! But they are true and all recorded in advance as a warning in God's word. The second word used by Daniel to express this 2nd resurrection is 'everlasting contempt'. This word means 'repulsion' or 'abhorrence'. It is only used in the Bible in one other verse and it comes in the very last verse of the book of Isaiah. This is how Isaiah closes:

Isa 66:24  "Then they will go forth and look On the corpses of the men Who have transgressed against Me. For their worm will not die And their fire will not be quenched; And they will be an abhorrence to all mankind."

You might remember that Jesus used this metaphor of the worm not dying and the fire not being quenched to speak of hell.

Their worm … is not quenched depicts eternal punishment (Isa_48:22; Isa_57:20). The imagery derives from the Valley of Hinnom that was Jerusalem’s garbage dump, where unclean corpses decomposed and were burned. This verse is cited by Jesus in Mar 9:44, Mar 9:46, Mar 9:48. Though the Book of Isaiah depicts God’s coming salvation, it closes with a strong statement of the judgment of the wicked.
Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Commentary

Shine! - The resurrection unto life

Dan 12:3  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.

In contrast, those that are wise and have insight will shine brightly. Theirs is the resurrection of the just unto life and they shall shine like the stars. In this age there are all sorts of so-called "stars". The world has its 'sports stars', 'movie stars' and 'pop stars'. It has its 'political stars'. Ok... it doesn't have any political stars! But the true star is Jesus alone. But those that follow Him also get to shine with His glory! Now is this shining figurative or literal? And in context is it figurative during the darkness of the tribulation or after the resurrection? It is both. Certainly there are cases in scripture where shining or being a light are used figurately and spiritually. For example Jesus said of John the Baptist that "He was the lamp that was burning and was shining and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light." (Joh 5:35) But when we get a glimpse of the life to come the shining is also literal. Jesus Himself, when transfigured on the Mount, literally shone with His glory. 

Mat 17:2  And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.

Not only was His face shining but His very garments as described as being as white as light. They were radiating His glory! So it is not surprising when Jesus spoke of believers in the Kingdom age, He said:

Mat 13:43  "Then THE RIGHTEOUS WILL SHINE FORTH AS THE SUN in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

In other words we too will display His glory and shine! This obviously was pictured in the Old Testament where Moses, having been with God on Mount Sinai for 40 days and 40 nights, literally reflected His glory which was visible to the Israelites! 

Exo 34:35  And whenever the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses' face shone, then Moses would put the veil on his face again, until he went in to speak with Him.

There are two points here:

  • The glory upon Moses faded over time. In contrast those in the resurrection unto life will shine like the stars forever and ever! There will be no end to their glory for they will be in the image of their Savior!
  • If God's glory was seen upon Moses, someone that was still in this first natural body, how much greater will it be for those that have their new spiritual body that is created in His image?! Well, we find the answer to that in the amazing New Testament chapter on the resurrection. 1 Corinthians 15. Speaking of the new body to come for believers at the resurrection we read:
    1Co 15:40-42  There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another.  (41)  The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.  (42)  So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable.

"To shine in glory is a privilege of all the saved (cf. the principle in 1Thes 2:12; 1Pet 5:10). Any who influence others for righteousness shine like stars in varying capacities of light as their reward (as in 1 Cor 3:8). The faithfulness of the believer's witness will determine one's eternal capacity to reflect God's glory."
Pastor John MacArthur 

Application - Living with eternity in mind! 

So the angel speaking to Daniel said two things that we can do now that influence our rewards and capacity to reflect the glory of God in the next life:

  1. Be wise or prudent: 'Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens' - The Hebrew word here is 'sakhal' which is 'a verb meaning to act with insight, to be prudent, to give insight, to teach'. For our day and age it means to realize the times that we life in and how close the Lord's return is, to understand what God sees as important, and to redeem that time by making the most of it for God's glory. 
  2. Bring others to Jesus: 'Those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever' -  Our understanding of the Lord and the days in which we live is never just for ourselves. The Lord wants us to help others. He wants us teach, evangelize, share, always pointing to Christ who is humanities only hope of righteousness. As McGee clearly states:

The remnant in that day will be God's witness in the world, and they are going to "turn many to righteousness." That righteousness is Christ, the only righteousness which is acceptable to God. Our righteousness is as filthy rags (see Isa 64:6) in His sight—not in our sight; we think we are pretty good. We pat each other on the back and tell each other how wonderful we are, while all we produce is a bunch of dirty laundry, my friend. God is not accepting our works; He is accepting the righteousness of Christ, and that is provided only by faith.
J. Vernon McGee

A funeral and eternal reward

Even if we don't have a lot of contacts or audience we can all still live for the Lord. We can all still use our time wisely one way or another. This week I went to a funeral as my sister-in-laws' mother recently died and went to be with the Lord. She had had many difficult years leading up to her death due to health issues and in her final year she was totally bed-ridden. She had bed sores from always being in bed. And yet even in that state, she never stopped praying! At the funeral her son spoke of how proud he was of her, that though she could rarely move or get out of bed, she interceded for many and used her time wisely!

She is now with the Lord and will shine. One thing that really stuck in my mind this week is that all of her trials, fears and difficulties, for all time, are now over... forever! Yes forever! She will never face trials or fears again. This life, for the believer, is the time of testing and then, scripture says, we pass into the presence of the Lord where there is fullness of joy! (Psa 16:11) 

It has been said that for the unbeliever, if they remain unreconciled to God, this life is as close as they will get to heaven and the best they will ever see. For the believer this life is as close as they will get to hell and the worst they will ever see. That is both a sobering and encouraging thought, depending on your status with God!


What a contrast stands before us in these passages we have looked at. Daniel spoke of two resurrections and two destinies - one of everlasting life and one to shame and everlasting contempt. 

C.S Lewis said it like this:

“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, in the end, "Thy will be done."
C.S Lewis

May we be those that have said to God 'your will be done' and submitted to His way of salvation through faith in the Lord Jesus. And then may we be found to be wise and prudent in this life, helping others to find and grow in the Lord. Unfortunately there will be many who God has to say to on that final day 'So be it. Your will, and the consequences that follow, be done!' But we do not want to be those. Trust in the Lord and walk with Him. This life is so short and shall soon be over. 

God Bless.  

  1. Pastor David Guzik writes on Michael: "The angel Michael is often associated with spiritual battle (Dan 10:13, 10:21, Jud 1:9, Rev 12:7). Since Michael is called the archangel (Jud 1:9), he is Satan's true opposite. Satan is not the opposite of Jesus; he is the opposite of Michael, this high-ranking angel."

  2. While there is the promise of deliverance and protection for the obedient within Israel who will flee to the place prepared for them (Rev 12:6,14-16) you will see that this infuriates the dragon (Satan) who then goes after anyone who believes in Jesus (Rev 12:17). Those that believe the Church goes through the tribulation often say that God will protect His people but the fact is that the Bible offers no protection for the saints in the Tribulation (outside of the previous mention for the Israelites who obey and flee when they see the abomination of desolation mentioned by Jesus (Matt 24:15-16). For other saints the Bible says that they will be handed into the power of the Antichrist (Dan 7:21,25 Rev 13:7). Thankfully the Church will NOT be here in the tribulation period. We wait for Jesus, not the antichrist, who delivers us FROM (not in) the wrath to come (1 Thes 1:10).

  3. 'Sleep' in the Bible is often used as an metaphor for death, especially for believers (Mat 9:24, Mat 27:52, Joh 11:11, Act 7:60, 1Cor 11:30, 1Cor 15:6, 1Cor 15:51, 1Thes 4:13-18). We should always remember that 'sleep' is related to the body which lies in the ground, not the soul. The soul of man doesn't sleep but is conscious after death (Luke 23:43, 2 Cor 5:8, Phil 1:23, 1 Thes 4:13-17, Heb 12:2, Rev 6:9-10, 7:9-14).
    For more discussion see:

  4. The lake of fire / everlasting contempt & punishment is obviously not a nice thought. But that is what the Bible teaches. The only thing I will say... and I can't prove this / could be wrong so take it or leave it... but it seems to me that being outside of time in eternity, for those in that place there will be no concept of time or any sense of how long they have been there. It is more of a state of being. Still a very sobering thought.