Dr. Tremper Longman III
Final Words to Daniel
Tremper Longman III [00:00:00] As we turned. Daniel 12 The first four verses are a continuation of the vision that we looked at yesterday that began with considering Persian King's move to a brief mention of a Greek king who certainly to be identified with Alexander the Great, and then the four generals, the De Abdo Kai, who take over the various parts of Alexander's vast empire after his death, with then a concentration on the King of the South and a king of the North, which in historical retrospect turns out to be the solution in the North and the Ptolemy's in the South with a combination on one contemptible person, a contemptible king, a master of intrigue, whom we identify as Antiochus epiphanies, the fourth. And in this previous section, we see that Antiochus kind of melds into an even worse figure who will appear at the end of the previous section. In other words, telescopes, earthly and cosmic realities, as well as the near future and far future events. The King is Antiochus, but even worse, the end is the middle of the second century, but also the still distant future. There's kind of an analogy, I think, between the ideal King of the Psalms, which was grounded in Davidic reality, but anticipated messianic glory so that the wicked king at the end of Daniel is grounded in Antioch in reality, but anticipates the horror of the Antichrist. And one of the reasons why I think we're to notice this transformation to the end of time is because of Chapter 12 verses one through four that begins at that time. At that time says at that time, Michael, the great prince who protects your people will arise. And so, Michael, we met the poor in chapter ten. He's here identified as the prince, the spirit Prince. The angel who has been assigned to protect Israel will arise. I notice that in the previous chapter we talked about King of the South will arise, the King of the North will arise. Well, now Michael arises. There will be a time of distress, such as not happened from beginning of the nations until then. Okay, so Antiochus, in his historical context, represented a time of great distress from the people of God. And now this. This section is anticipating a time of great distress in the future. But at that time, your people, everyone whose name is found written in the book will be delivered. So here we have the first mention, the first really, really clear mention of the afterlife in connection with the dual fates of the righteous. And the wicked goes on to say Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt again. You know, this idea of dual fates for the righteous and the wicked is here expressed most, most clearly anywhere in the Old Testament. Of course, the realities of heaven and hell will be more even more clearly presented in the New Testament. It isn't that there isn't anticipation of this kind of understanding of the afterlife and earlier scripture, but we have to reckon with what we call progress of revelation. That is, God sometimes chooses to reveal over time truth about who He is and. About who we are. And in this case. Of our ultimate fate. I mean, just think, for instance, of the teaching, of the triune nature of God. That's something that is not clearly taught in the Old Testament. There are glimmers of and indeed, we saw a strong glimmer of it. And Daniel, chapter seven verses 13 and 14, when the one like the son of man, rode into the presence of the ancient of days. But it's really in the New Testament that we get a deeper and fuller and richer revelation of the fact that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and indeed the whole technical and developed doctrine of Trinity is understood even in reflection on the totality of scriptures after the New Testament. It doesn't make it any less true from the very beginning of time. And for instance, as we read back into as we read back to Genesis one, in the light of the fuller revelation of the New Testament, when we hear about the spirit hovering over the waters, for instance, even though the ancient reader probably thought in terms of God as a spiritual being hovering over the water, we in light of the fuller revelation of the New Testament, would understand that to be a reference to the Holy Spirit. But it is the case that that many Old Testament attacks are presumed that there isn't such a thing as the afterlife. I'm thinking here of a text like some six verse five, where the psalmist calls out among the dead, No one proclaims your name, who praises you from the grave. Or for that matter, some 30. Where the psalmist has grown sick and he appeals to God and says to God in verse nine, What is gained if I am silence? If I go down the pit, will the dust praise you? Will it proclaim your faithfulness or jobe who doesn't have a sense of the afterlife or the preacher and teacher in the book of Ecclesiastes? Now, when it comes to Ecclesiastes, these I would suggest that it's a book written at the end of the Old Testament time period when two distinct schools of thought are emerging within Judaism, which we recognize in the First Testament as Sadducees, who are influenced by Hellenistic philosophy and Pharisees, who I would argue have more faithfully read the Old Testament than the Sadducees, even though they deeply error in not recognizing Christ as their Messiah. But the teacher and Ecclesiastes looking for the meaning of life under the sun. He doesn't find it. And one of the reasons why he can't find it is because death renders life meaningless money, wisdom, wealth, all those things. But he's honest enough to say, Well, you know, even if I have all the money in the world, even have all the wisdom in the world, it ends with death. But then a second wise man comes in at the end speaking to his son and my son, and he presents what I call an above the son perspective on on, on meaning, you know, fear of God, son, obey the commandments and live in the light of the future judgment. I think it's not too much to detect there a bigger, truer, richer understanding of God and even of the afterlife and what I call the second wise man or the frame narrator Because his words frame the speech of the teacher, which is found in 112 through 12 seven. And then in other Psalms, there are there are also expressions that I think are rightly taken as understanding that there is an afterlife like Psalm 16, some 16. Verses 9 to 11. Therefore, my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices. My body also will rest secure because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead. Or will you let your faithful one see decay? You make known to me the path of life. You will fill me with joy and your presence with the eternal pleasures at your right hand. Now, some Old Testament scholars want to read that is simply an expression of hope that this ill person will be healed. But the language is such that it seems to suggest something much more than that, as does some 49 verse 15. Where the psalmist says, But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead. He will surely take me to himself and and Psalm 73 as well. At the very end, after this Psalm is struggling with the wealth and success of the wicked and and he, as a righteous person, seems to be struggling in life. He sees the injustice of it all until he says at the very end of the Psalm in verse 23 and following it, I am always with you. You hold me by my right hand, you guide me with your counsel, and afterwards you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven? But you and Earth has nothing I desire beside you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Those who are far from you will perish. You destroy all who are unfaithful to you. But as for me, it's good to be near God. I have made the sovereign Lord my refuge. I will tell of all your deeds. Okay, so those are a few passages, passage passages. And there are others that, as I put it, provide glimpses of the promise of afterlife that is picked up and developed much more fully in the New Testament. So with this picture of the. Righteous being given everlasting life and the wicked rising up to shame and everlasting contempt. It continues that those who are wise, that's that word maskilim, which I which I commented on earlier, that refers to those who are faithful, those who are persistent in their faith, and those who are, I believe, Daniel's primary audience as he tries to bring them this message of comfort and hope in the midst of oppression, says those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens and those who lead many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever again. Remember our theme. In spite of present difficulties, God is in control and He will have the final victory. And this final victory is it is expressed through saving. God's people while punishing their oppressors. And then finally, in this section, But you Daniel roll up and feel the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge. Roll up the scroll, feel it, put it away, giving the impression as we'll see. And the very last part of the Book of Daniel that will turn to next that what God is revealing to Daniel is not going to happen in the near future. But it then says many will go here and there to increase knowledge. Now, this is a little more difficult to understand exactly what's going on. Is this a positive thing? Sounds, you know, we read about increasing knowledge. We think that's a good thing, but it isn't always a good thing. Think of Genesis chapter three. You know that the serpent appealed to Eve by telling her that she will grow in wisdom if she eats of the tree and her eyes are opened, will be open when she does. But that type of increase in knowledge is not a good thing. And I think that the idea may be that people will try to will try to seek knowledge that Scripture doesn't give us concerning matters of the end, that that's not a good thing. It's not a healthy thing, but as we'll see in the next section. God's intention for Daniel and those who are on Daniel's side is to give them these words of comfort and then go on and live their lives as normal and not become obsessed with things in the end. So their stories have been told in the first six chapters and the visions have been described and interpreted. We come now to the very end of the Book of Daniel, where Daniel is going to receive some final words from a celestial source. And as they're addressing Daniel, I think they're also addressing us as readers of the Book of Daniel, verse five. Then I Daniel looked and there before me stood two others, one on this bank of the river and one on the opposite bank. One of them said to the man clothed and linen who is above the waters of the river. How long will it be before these astonishing things are fulfilled? Interesting to think about what's who's present here. Okay. Who's present here? Sounds like there's one figure on one side of the river. One figure on the other side of the figure. And another figure above the waters. And the one above the waters. I think we should identify with God. And the ones on each side of the river are two angels, unnamed. But perhaps again, we're dealing with Gabriel, maybe Michael. But one of them said to the man clothed in linen. How long will it be before these astonishing things are fulfilled? And of course, that's a natural question. When will it happen? And that's the question that we want to ask as well. The man in clothes and linen who was above the waters of the river lifted his right hand and his left hand toward heaven. And I heard him swear by him, who lives forever, saying it will be for a time, times and half a time when the power of the holy people has finally been broken. All these things will be completed. Okay, so first of all, God does on occasion in the Old Testament, swear by himself. And that's what's going on at this point in Deuteronomy 30 to 40, he raises one hand here in a matter of an emphasis. He raises both hands to make his oath and then says that will be a time, times and half a time. And we've seen this expression in Daniel seven. And my view on this is that this is not a. A reference that can be put on a calendar. It's rather an expression about how. Evil seems to be gaining momentum, but then slows down and is put to a sudden halt. I'm going to have a separate short section on all these numbers and apocalyptic as part of the course. But but I'll save that for for now. And then it goes on. And the purpose of that is to simply tell people that God knows when the end is going to come. You may not know, you want to know, but I can tell you exactly when it's going to come. And then verse eight, I heard, but I did not understand. So I asked my Lord, what will the outcome of all this be? Now the response is fascinating, and I think telling go your way, Daniel, because the words are rolled up in field until the time of the end. Many will be purified, made, spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand. In other words, don't concern yourself with that matter. Daniel, go your way. It kind of reminds me of what I don't know whether it's legendary or actually historically accurate, that when Martin Luther was asked about the second coming of Christ, he reportedly said that that if I knew Christ was going to come tomorrow, I will plant I would play into an apple tree today. In other words, go your way, Martin Luther, do your ordinary things. Christ will come when he will come. By the way, I once was teaching on that and something associated with this topic and mentioned the Martin Luther story and said Cherry Tree. And afterwards I realized I completed George Washington and Martin Luther Bus being from Washington, D.C.. Okay, so get on. Get on with your life, Daniel. Then we get another final enigmatic temporal reference in verse 11 and 12 from the day that the daily sacrifices abolished and the abomination that causes desolation is set up, there will be 1290 days. Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of the 1335 days. What to make of this? It's difficult to say, except to say that both numbers are basically equivalent to three and a half years. And when I talk about these kind of temporal references in that section that I'm going to include with the course, I'm going to I'm going to I'm going to suggest that all these numbers are related to time, times and half, but time and have the same purpose, not to give you an exact beginning and terminus to put on a calendar, but rather to communicate that God is in control and there's a definite and in his mind. As for you, go your way till the end, you will rest. And then at the end of days, you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance. And that's all you need to know. Really. Daniel, That's all you really need to know. Reader And the book of Daniel that you can live your life and rest assured that in spite of present troubles, God is in control. And He'll have the final victory, which includes receiving our allotted inheritance. And that, as we've said a number of times, is the basic message of the Book of Daniel. But then it also was addressing living under oppression and were giving us accounts that showed Daniel and or the three friends not just surviving, but even thriving in the midst of persecution as they rose up the ranks within the Babylonian and Persian government. And also we saw in Daniel Chapter four, the story of the three friends being thrown into the blazing furnace that even though you can thrive, it's not a guarantee and you might actually have to die for your faith. And you need to be willing, like they did, to die in their faith. As they said, even if God is not able to save us, we will not bow to your statue. And so when we come to the two divisions in the second half of the book, we still have that primary theme. In spite of present difficulties, God is in control and he'll have the final victory. But I want to highlight six other important themes and these visions that are related to that primary theme. But it's worth highlighting them now that we've been through the visions. The first is that these visions highlight the horror of human evil. Particularly as it's concentrated in the state. You know, take a Daniel seven and the four beasts arising out of the chaotic sea. Think of the ram and the goat. Think of the horns. And in particular, the boastful little horn. Or actually two. And Daniel, Chapter 11 The Tunnel between the Kings of the North and the South, particularly as their animosity towards each other, harms the people of God caught in the middle. So. So these visions remind us that, you know, evil is real among human beings. And personal evil, Yes, but also institutional evil. But there's also a consistent message that we've talked about that is controversial, namely the announcement of a specific time of deliverance. Not that we're able to put it on the calendar, as I've said repeatedly, but there is the communication through the expression time, times and half of time, 2300 evenings and mornings and Chapter eight. 1290 days. 1335 days. And Daniel, Chapter 12. Again, communicating that God is in control and that there will be a definite and even though Daniel nor we can know when that time will come. A third and a third teaching that we find this more focused in Daniel chapter nine. That is repentance, that leads to deliverance, repentance that leads to deliverance. And we'll remember that it is in Daniel Chapter nine that Daniel is reading the book of Jeremiah and about the 70 years of the exile. And that takes him right to prayer, takes him right to confession, an acknowledgment of God's righteous judgment, but also an appeal for mercy. So repentance that leads to deliverance. Another teaching that I would like to highlight in these chapters that is also focused in a single chapter, namely Daniel ten, is the revelation that there is a cosmic war that stands behind human conflict. And we learn about that. When Gabriel talks to Daniel about the struggle that he had coming to Daniel taking three weeks because they had to fight their way through the Spirit Prince of Persia, there's a there's a spiritual battle behind the behi Neumann struggle as well. And then I'll mention the last two together. They're really a pair. The first is the consistent teaching. That judgment is certain for those who resist God. And press his people. Judgment is certain for those wicked people. And each of the visions ends with. An expression of judgment on them but in connection with that. And the sixth point I'd like to make is the equally certain truth that God's people downtrodden in the present will experience new life in the fullest sense as God's rescue comes by judging the wicked. It's a rescue of God's people, and nowhere do we get a clearer expression of that than in Daniel chapter 12 versus one through four. So as you read through and I hope now that we've gone through the whole book that you continue to read the Book of Daniel, keep these themes in mind. And I think you'll. And my hope is and my prayer is that this will enrich your understanding of the Book of Daniel.
Speaker 2 [00:29:02] When you're one of the people that experiences the deliverance. Hmm. That's a pretty encouraging time.
Tremper Longman III [00:29:10] Hmm.
Speaker 2 [00:29:10] But when you're one of the people that somewhere in the middle of a 400 year stretch or a 700 year stretch or something like that. It's hard. It can be difficult to see God's faithfulness, especially when it's under the regime of. Of a government that's brutal for a group of people that is really mistreating you as a believer. And that's hard.
Tremper Longman III [00:29:56] Yes. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I mean, and I think that's the those are the people that this book and revelation are actually addressing are not the ones who are necessarily going to experience the deliverance, but the ones who are in it for the long haul for the whole of their whole life. That. And who and who? I would be tempted, as you're saying, to kind of just give up and say, what's the good of it all? And these books are trying to give eschatological perspective to that and say. It doesn't look like it, but yeah, God is in control. He'll have the final victory, which, by the way, I think undermines the whole kind of victorious Christian life mentality that in America, you know, the idea that you should expect to live a successful, prosperous life before Christ comes again. And almost some Christians, I feel, think, feel almost entitled to that as part of their faith. But that's not a scriptural idea, you know, And the viewpoint that I think Daniel and Revelation are teaching has been parody as pie in the sky by and by, you know, and, and, you know, somebody like Karl Marx talks about religion as the opiate of the people. You know, that that kind of keeps people down. I'm not saying that. We Christians should do everything that we can to, um, to resist from our it's so contextual. Like in the United States, we should exercise all the rights that we have in terms of voting and so forth to try to get the right people in position of authority. And we should try to help in the ways that we can peoples and Christians who are living in extremely repressive regimes, whether it's in Iran or. Various parts of China, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, wherever there are Christians who are today living under the kind of conditions and maybe even more egregious than Daniel and his generation did. And we always have to keep that in mind. And when we're living in the United States, which has a significant, unprecedented, I would say, measure of religious liberty, and even though Christians are complaining these days about, you know, the erosion of religious liberty, I don't think there's ever been. Nation are people who have had the kind of freedom that the Christians of the United States have. But I guess what I'm saying is I you're exactly right. And that's why I always think these books are important to remind us all that. That we live in toxic cultures of different. Types of different intensities, and we're all called upon to remain faithful in the midst of marginalization, humiliation, oppression. We're not called on to sort of take over culture and impose our will on other people, which is a temptation, I think, and in America in particular, because of the unprecedented religious celebrity that we have and because of, you know, the Christian principles that helped found our nation as well.
Speaker 2 [00:34:41] Why is there two numbers for what seemed to be the same time period?
Tremper Longman III [00:34:45] I don't know, Ed. No, no. I mean, there are different explanations. The one that I find most problematic is the idea that it was written at a time where the original expectation was that it would be 1260 days, 90 days. But when that didn't happen, they extended it a few days. Hmm. But, you know, I mean, there are many people connect this with the tribulation. I believe in the rapture. I'm not a real expert in dispensation ism, but I did this morning do a quick kind of Google search to see what various popular interpreters had to do with it. And the thing that struck me is that every one of them had a different idea of what during the tribulation would happen at these particular markers, which to me always signals that it's intending to be enigmatic. And you have to be careful of trying to read specific reference into something like this because you can always find something.
Speaker 2 [00:36:03] Was wondering the fact that the two numbers in two adjoining verses may be.
Tremper Longman III [00:36:07] Saying these aren't real days. Yeah. Yeah, that's right. These are actually they aren't even real numbers. Yeah, I know. That's exactly right. That's, that's my feeling about it, don't you? If you get two numbers like this, it's giving of it's, it's, it's repeating. Shall we use. Is that a jazz term. It's riffing on the time times some half a time. Understood as a year or two years and half a year, which as I'll point out in my later statement is that's the expression itself. Time times and half the time is even not clearly to be understood is three and a half years, but it is being taken that way because first of all, it's time, time, times. It's not time to time some half a time. It's not a dual. Hebrew has a dual and it's times it's not years. But then again, in these other like the 2300 evenings and mornings as and I think that is to be understood as you know, 1500 and 1650 days. No, sorry, wrong math. However, many half a day's and 20 301,150 days is again approximately three and a half years. All these are approximately, but not exactly which I think you're right, though, is it's warning you about taking it too literally.