Commentary on Daniel Chapter Twelve 

The Great Tribulation and Time of Resurrection


Daniel’s vision concerning what would befall his people in the latter days concludes with the appearance of Christ, a time of universal trouble consisting in the persecution under Nero, the Roman civil wars, and destruction of the Jewish state, followed by the resurrection of the dead. 

Christ as Michael


1 – And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: 

Michael should be understood as Christ.[1]  Instances in which we encounter this name show that it describes a manifestation of the divinity when acting in a military context as the great captain of God’s people.  (See comments at Dan. 10:13.)  The name “Michael” occurs twice in the New Testament. The first occurs in apparent reference to the captivity and the opposition they received from the Persian nobles and monarchy in resettling the land (compare Jude 9with Zech. 3:1-3);[2] the second occurs in reference to the earthly ministry of Christ and his apostles under the imagery of Michael and his angels at war with the devil and his angels (Rev. 12:7).   

A third reference to the Archangel (without naming him as Michael) occurs in the context of Christ’s second coming (I Thess. 4:16), where the “voice of the archangel” and “trump of God” are used alternately to describe the shout of the Lord at his descent to save his people and raise the dead.  This should be compared with Jn. 5:28, 29, where Jesus said regarding his resurrection of the dead, “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth.”  In Thessalonians, the dead are raised by the voice of the Archangel; in John’s gospel it is the voice of Christ; taken together, these passages show the voices are the same.  The resurrection mentioned by Daniel here (v. 2), ties these passages together, and offers further corroboration that Michael is Christ.   

In the New Testament, Michael’s battle on behalf of his people is portrayed under the imagery of Armageddon and Gog and Magog (Rev. 16:16; 20:8, 9), a symbolic description of the tribulation under Nero Caesar, when the persecuting power of the Roman government (the “dragon” and “beast”) would be loosed for the battle of the great day of God Almighty (Rev. 16:14).  The persecution ends by the coming of Christ, who destroys Nero and the persecutors with the “brightness of his coming” and “the spirit of his mouth” (II Thess. 2:8; Rev. 20:9).  That is the context here.  The vision thus advances from the establishment of the Roman power in the land to the coming of Christ’s kingdom in power in vengeance upon his enemies and vindication of his gospel.


The Universal Time of Trouble


and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time:

The nation’s ultimate crisis was part of a larger time of divine wrath that would overtake the world.  Paul told the Athenians God was about to judge the world in righteousness by Jesus Christ (Acts 17:31); he told the Corinthians that the eschatological day would be revealed in fire, “and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is” (I Cor. 3:13).  To the Romans Paul wrote that there would be “tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile” (Rom. 2:9).  In Revelation, Christ told of an “hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth” (Rev. 3:10).  For the Jews, this time of trouble would mark the nation’s end as God exacted vengeance for the murder of Christ and the apostles, and the repression of the gospel.  “For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.” (Lk. 21:22; cf. Matt. 23:34-39).  For the Romans, the time of judgment took the form of famines, pestilences, earthquakes, and civil commotions; the “year of four emperors” wasted Rome and Italy, and exacted an awful price in blood and carnage.  

The church, too, went through a time of testing.  St. Paul told the churches of Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch “we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22; emphasis added).  The Jews labored greatly to destroy the church, and were permitted by Pilate to persecute the saints in the days of Stephen.  This persecution is depicted in Revelation twelve, where it occurs fast upon the heels of the ascension of the Man-child (Christ).  It lasted 1260 days, or about three and a half years (Rev. 12:5-17).  It ended when Pilate was ordered by Vitellius to go to Rome to answer charges regarding the death of some Samaritans that occurred in a tumult.  

In Pilate’s absence, Vitellius appointed Marcellus procurator.  At this same time, Vitellius removed Caiaphas from the High Priesthood in apparent response to a petition from the Jews, perhaps owing to unrest the persecution caused in the land.[3]  St. Paul also converted about this time, bringing an end to the first persecution (Acts 9:31).  In all likelihood, it is to the collapse of the persecution that John refers when he describes the beast (the persecuting power of the empire) as having received a mortal wound and descending to the bottomless pit (Tartarus) (Rev. 13:3; cf. 11:7; 17:8).   

Before Pilate arrived in Rome, Tiberius died.  Gaius Caligula, who succeeded Tiberius, made his friend, Agrippa I, king over the tetrarchy of Philip and Lysanius, and later added that of Herod, who was banished.[4]  Agrippa tarried at Rome above a year to provide council and assistance to Caligula.  In his absence, Caligula sent Marullus to be procurator.[5]  In Caligula’s second year, Agrippa returned to Judea, but was at Rome again in time for Caligula’s assassination (A.D. 41).  Agrippa helped secure the transition of the government to Claudius.   

In consideration of Agrippa’s efforts, Claudius expanded his kingdom, making him king over all the realm of Judea and Samaria, previously held by his grandfather, Herod the Great.[6]  It was almost certainly at this time, in the absence of a Roman procurator in the land, that the persecution described in Acts twelve was briefly renewed in Judea (Acts 12:1-19).  However, heaven brought soon relief to the saints; Agrippa I was smitten by the stroke of God and died (Acts 12:20-23).  Agrippa II being too young to manage his father’s kingdom, Claudius returned Judea to a province and sent thither Cuspius Fadus to be procurator, restoring the protection of law to the church.[7]   

This protection of law—the religio licita—extended throughout the empire during Claudius’ reign. It also obtained in the early years of Nero, when Burrus and Seneca, the tutors and guardians of the emperor’s youth, were able to control him.  Revelation portrays the protection afforded the church during this period when it describes the dragon and beast being bound in the bottomless pit (Rev. 11:7; 17:8; 20:1-3).  This same time is alluded to by St. Paul in II Thessalonians, when he says that the “mystery of iniquity” (murderous hatred for the church and gospel) was then restrained, but would soon break out in the persecution under the man of sin (II Thess. 2:3-8; see also comments at Dan. 11:36).  Nero’s need for a scapegoat upon which to blame the burning of Rome launched the first imperial persecution, the loosing of the dragon and beast from the pit to rise up and persecute the church anew. 

Judging from the book of Revelation and many of the Lord’s parables, the great spiritual battle of the last day witnessed the almost universal martyrdom of the church as the saints and confessors were called upon to lay down their lives in testimony of Christ.  It was with a view to the eschatological day that the John the Baptist said:  

“And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matt. 3:10-13). 

The chaff was gathered up and burned in the war with Rome. Titus’ legions appeared suddenly before Jerusalem at the Passover, shutting up within the city ten-fold the number of inhabitants that normally dwelt there.  The continuing temple ritual and feasts were an implicit denial of the substitutionary death and atoning sacrifice of Christ.  Not inappropriately, Passover thus marked those who kept the ritual as enemies of the gospel to be gathered up and destroyed. The wheat, on the other hand, was gathered into the garner by martyrdom.  Christ is thus depicted in Revelation astride a cloud, reaping the souls of the saints in martyrdom under Nero and the beast.   

“And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped” (Rev. 14:9-16).   

John describes saints and confessors that sufferedd under Nero elsewhere, saying:  

“And after this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands... “And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of the great tribulation (Gk. tas thlipseos tas megalas), and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev. 7:9-14).   

and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. 

Christ would deliver his people by the terrible judgments meted out at the eschaton; as the political fabric of Rome and Judea began to unravel and they were involved in calamities of their own, the empire would lose interest in the church.  This deliverance contemplates the time when the saints possessed the kingdom (dominion) by the victory of Christ over the persecutors of his gospel and church (Dan. 7:27).   It was also the time of the resurrection, as shown by the following passage and implied by the deliverance of even the martyrs (“all who were written in the book”).   

The kingdom and resurrection were contemporaneous; possessing the kingdom and dominion upon earth occurred at the same time the dead received the inheritance in heaven.  Paul makes this clear in his epistle to Timothy: “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom” (II Tim. 4:1).  Matthew’s gospel is to the same effect: “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.  Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom” (Matt. 16:27, 28).  Rewarding every man, is the same as giving to each a reward for things done in the body and speaks to the resurrection and judgment (Matt. 25:31-46; II Cor. 5:10).   

Daniel’s “Time of Trouble”

“The Great Tribulation”

a.d. 64 – 70


owhich all redemptive history hastened to,n token of his divinity and the imminence of the general resurecction.64               65                66                67             68               69              70



The fact that some of the apostles would be alive at Christ’s coming and witness the advent of his kingdom and the resurrection (though unseen to eye of man) accords perfectly with Daniel’s statements here, placing these events in the time of Nero and the fall of Jerusalem.  Luke also makes plain that these events would occur in the life of the apostles, for he says that when they saw Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then they might know that redemption from their present distress and persecution drew nigh (Lk. 21:28).  This redemption would also mark the coming of the kingdom: “So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.  Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled” (Lk. 21:31, 32).  Thus, the kingdom and resurrection are joined in time; the church cannot presently possess the one without also possessing the other.


The General Resurrection


2 – And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

Jesus showed the nearness of this passage’s fulfillment when he said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live” (Jn. 5:25).  Jesus here refers to those whome he would raise during his earthly ministry, which stood in token of his divinity and the imminence of the general resurrection.  Hence, in Jn. 5:28, 29, the Lord says, “the hour is coming when all that in are the graves shall come forth.”  This is a direct quote to the instant verse, and was plainly intended to show that the time prophesied by Daniel, which all redemptive history hastened to, was then at hand.   

Use of the term “many” by Daniel does not argue against the application of this passage to all; the idea is that the multitudes in Hades would awake, not just some.[8]  If there were any question, Jesus’ quotation of this passage dispels the idea that anything other than the general resurrection was in view.  Jerome admits that this passage refers to the general resurrection, and not to a metaphoric or spiritualized resurrection as Porphyry and others have tried to suggest.  Porphyry attempted to apply all these verses to Antiochus Epiphanes, causing Jerome to comment, “Up until this point Porphyry somehow managed to maintain his position and impose upon the credulity of the naïve among our adherents as well as the poorly educated among his own.  But what can he say of this chapter, in which is described the resurrection of the dead, with one group being revived for eternal life and the other group for eternal disgrace?”[9]  Although he recognizes that the general resurrection is in view, Jerome avoids the obvious context and time for fulfillment of these verses by transporting them across the centuries.  How curious it must strike the student of scripture to learn that the very minute progression of historical events, allowing us to identify the succession of monarchs from the time of the Persians unto the rise of Rome, should suddenly and without notice skip millennia ahead to the world’s purported end, creating a rent in the fabric of scripture thousands of years wide and still growing!  Yet, the angel clearly states that all these events would be fulfilled when the Jewish nation and polity was destroyed (Dan. 12:7).  It is only by the greatest violence to the context that these verses can be wrested from their place in history. 

The chief objection to past fulfillment of these verses is a mistaken conception regarding the nature of the resurrection.  When the passage states that “those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake,” it does not intend to imply the resurrection of physical bodies.  The language is figurative.  “Sleeping” is an accommodative term used to describe the condition of physical death and the rest of the soul in Hades.  (See I Cor. 15:18, 20; I Thess. 4:13; 5:10)  The dead did not sleep in the dust, but were fully conscience and awake in Hades.  This is clear from the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Lk. 16:19-31), and other passages, which portray the dead as conscious (I Sam. 29:13-19; Isa. 14:9-11; 17:3).   

Revelation also depicts the dead as conscious (Rev. 6:9, 10; 20:4), and Moses who died and Elijah who was translated were both alive and appeared on the mount of transfiguration (Matt. 17:1-13).   This is also the clear import of our Lord’s words in Matt. 22:31, 32, when he said that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were partakers of the first resurrection of the soul in Hades: “But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?  God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”[10]  Thus, Abraham and the patriarchs were presently living; resurrection (the first resurrection) was a present fact, though the eternal inheritance in heaven at the general resurrection was yet future.  So much for the fact of the resurrection; in the same passage, Jesus sets forth its nature when he says that “in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven” (Matt. 22:30.   

The Pharisees’ misconception (doubtless it is their teaching the Sadducees were attempting to refute by their question to the Lord) had it that the resurrection was of physical bodies upon earth, and therefore assumed that marriage would be part of resurrection life.  However, Jesus shows that the resurrection is of the spirit in heaven, for men will then be as angels that do not have physical bodies, but are immaterial, intangible, and invisible.  Paul agrees, saying, that the “body thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be” and “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven” (I Cor. 15:37, 50).  The resurrection of the last day was the time when the souls of all who died from Abel forward, whose souls had waited long millennia in Hades, would be released and go to their respective rewards.  This is plainly portrayed in Rev. 20:11-15, which shows that the whole event was on the other side of eternity, not upon earth.  Those on this side of the eschaton go to meet their reward at death. It is at death that we are caught up together with those who have preceded us, to meet the Lord in the air (I Thess. 4:17). 

3 – And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever. 

In Dan. 8:10, Antiochus is portrayed as trampling the host of heaven to the ground, which we understood in reference to his oppression of the Jews.  Here the stars of the firmament point to those who obeyed the gospel and became heralds of righteousness.  Paul called the Philippians “sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life” (Phil. 2:15, 16).  The church thus plainly replaces the Jews as God’s covenant people and beacon of salvation to a dying world; the sons of God and heirs of eternal life set, as it were, in the firmament of heaven, ruling with the risen Christ. 

4 – But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end; 

Isaiah used similar imagery to describe the blindness of the peoples’ heart, and how the warning of his visions fell upon deaf ears. “And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed” (Isa. 29:11).  In a similar manner, Daniel is told to shut up the book, and seal the words; the message was to remain unclear and obscure until the time neared for its fulfillment, some five-hundred years away.  (Cf. Dan. 8:26.)  John, on the other hand, was told “seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand” (Rev. 22:10).  Obviously, this militates entirely against the idea that John’s message belongs to our day or some future time.  If Daniel’s message was to be laid up because it belonged to a time 500 years away, how can John’s message, which he was told not to seal, belong to a time 2000 years away?  Moreover, since Revelation is but an expansion upon and fulfillment of Daniel, the fact John was told not to seal the book is certain evidence that the sealed portions of Daniel were opened in the Apocalypse and subsequently fulfilled. 

many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased. 

As the end approached, God would help his people understand the meaning and import of the visions of the book so that what was “sealed” would become “open.”  We see this fulfilled in the days of John, when all the people mused in their hearts whether he was Christ and multitudes flocked to Jordan to be baptized (Lk. 4:15).  This makes plain that they understood from the prophets that the time had drawn nigh for the Messiah to appear, and wondered if John were not he.  Indeed, it was a time of great eschatological expectation as the nation knew that the kingdom of God must shortly appear.  Many misunderstood the nature of the kingdom, supposing the Jews would be thrust to the peak of worldly power and immanence.  However, it was the Christians, not the Jews, these prophecies had in view.  It was the lot of disbelieving Jews to suffer a very different fate, indeed.  For the things that befell them were unprecedented in the world’s history, and unlike anything that had happened either before or since.  So Josephus:  

“Whereas the war which the Jews made with the Romans hath been the greatest of all those, not only that have been in our times, but, in a manner, of those that ever were heard of; both of those wherein cities have fought against cities, or nations against nations.”[11] 

5, 6 – Then I Daniel looked, and, behold, there stood other two, the one on this side of the bank of the river, and the other on that side of the bank of the river.  And one said to the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, How long shall it be to the end of these wonders? 

Two additional angels now appear for the specific purpose of eliciting information necessary for completion of the vision and its message.  “How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?”  In other words, what are the limits of the vision and how can it be known it has been fulfilled?  Surely, if the end of the cosmos was in view, this question would be superfluous, for such could not be mistaken.  But if something less than the end of history is in view—events like the coming of Christ and resurrection of the dead—then the question makes perfect sense.  How could men know for certain that Christ was indeed come and the dead raised?  What sign would heaven provide to convince men of these things? 

7 – And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever 

This should be compared to the Song of Moses, reciting the vengeance laid up in store against the sinful nation:  “To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.  For the Lord shall judge his people, and repent himself for his servants, when he seeth that their power is gone, and there is none shut up, nor left….For I lift up my hand to heaven, and say, I live for ever” (Deut. 32:35-40).   

Here, we find the Lord swearing by himself that he would accomplish the destruction of the Jewish people in language tracking exactly that of the present verse.  “When he seeth their power is gone” answers the following clause, which declares that the “scattering of the power” of the holy people—the Jews—would signify the fulfillment of the vision. The identity of language and content confirms the parameters of the instant vision and its terminus at the fall of Jerusalem.  The epistle to the Hebrews figures prominently here also, for the writer states that it was yet a “very, little while” and the Lord would come, bringing relief to the beleaguered saints through the war with Rome and destruction of the Jewish nation (Heb. 10:37).   

The “very little while” of Hebrews becomes still shorter in Revelation, where another angel lifts his hand to heaven and swears “there shall be time no more” (viz., no more delay) (Rev. 10:6).  Following this declaration is the persecution of the saints (“two witnesses”), in which their dead bodies lay exposed for “three days and a half” (viz., three years and a half—the length of the persecution under Nero).  This, in turn, is followed by the great city, Jerusalem (“spiritually called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified”), being trodden under foot by the Gentiles for forty-two months (Rev. 11:2, 8, 9; cf. Lk. 21: 24), and the declaration of heaven that “the kingdoms of the world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever” (Rev. 11:15).

Finally, and what proves that the resurrection would occur at the fall of Jerusalem and coming of Christ’s kingdom, is the declaration:  

“And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth” (Rev. 11:18; cf. Matt. 16:27, 28; II Tim. 4:1).  

The common factor in all of these passages is the fall of Jerusalem, which signified the kingdom and coming of the Lord whom they had crucified, and the judgment and resurrection of the dead. 

Worldwide Judgment and the End of the Jewish Polity


that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people,

In Daniel 9:24-27, 490 prophetic years are set out, marking the period until coming of Christ and end of the Jewish nation.  Four hundred eighty-three years are fulfilled from Nehemiah until the baptism of Christ (454 B.C.—A.D. 29).  The first half of the remaining week was fulfilled in the earthly ministry of Christ, who was “cut off’ in the midst of the final week (v. 26).  However, the second half of the final week is nowhere expressly spelled out.  We would suggest that the final three and a half years are alluded to here in the “time, times, and an half” time mentioned by the angel.  It is clear these three and a half years are tied to the war with Rome, for at its conclusion, the power of the holy people would be forever crushed.  (Cf. Dan. 8:24 for “holy people” as signifying the Jews.)  

The same events are described in chapter nine, where, following Christ’s ministry, the desolation of the city and sanctuary is described (vv. 26, 27).  Since the same events are described, the period in which they were to be fulfilled must apply equally to both.  Rev. 11:2 should also be added in witness; the forty-two months John said the holy city would be trodden under foot by the Gentiles corresponds with the three and a half years mentioned here.   

The war with Rome is traditionally dated from February A.D. 67 to August A.D. 70, a space of three and a half years.  According to the angel then, the conclusion of the three-and-a-half-year war would accomplish the scattering of the Jews.  Jesus said as much himself when he said they would be “led away captive to all nations” (Lk. 21:24).  Josephus reports that the number of captives from the war was 97,000, of which some were sold into slavery, others made to work in the mines in Egypt, and still others compelled to die in the arena.[12] 

all these things shall be finished. 

It should be emphasized that “all things finished” included the resurrection of the souls in Hades and the general judgment, as shown by verse two.  Christ was to put all enemies beneath his feet.  His triumph over the Jews and Romans was accomplished in the events beginning with his ascension and ending in A.D. 70.  The last enemy was Hadean death.  Christ defeated sin in his cross, but Hades remained to be destroyed as the final obstacle keeping men from the presence of God in heaven.  Jesus thus promised that the gates of Hades would not prevail against his church (Matt. 16:18); Paul, quoting Hosea, exclaimed “O Hades, where is thy victory?” (I Cor. 15:55; Hos. 13:14).  In Rev. 20:14, Hades is destroyed at the resurrection.  With the last enemy taken out of the way, at death the saints now go to be with God in heaven, according to the teaching of Paul that to be absent from the body is present with the Lord (II Cor. 5:6-9). 

8 – And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things? 

The angel has already declared that the end of these things would be marked by the fall of Jerusalem, but Daniel does not seem capable of truly comprehending this fact.  The Jews of Jesus’ day also seemed unable to receive this message and, therefore, did not heed the warning to escape the coming day of wrath.  They trusted with themselves that they were the seed of Abraham and, therefore, heirs of the promise. They could not conceive that the nation would be removed and a spiritual seed raised up in its place.  For, as Paul plainly states, he is not a Jew which is one outwardly in the flesh, nor are the children of the flesh counted for the Abrahamic seed (Rom. 2:27-29; Gal. 3:26-29; 6:16).  The people of God have always been marked by the obedience of faith, not their race or ethnicity.   

9 – And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.  

To get a sense of how the book was closed up and sealed, one need only observe the befuddled comprehension of futurists today, who see in its pages a historical succession of events until earth’s end.  Prepossessed with ideas of their own imaging, the book is closed to their understanding.  In the same way, the Jews, prepossessed with the idea that the Messiah would establish an earthly kingdom setting them at the apex of world power, missed completely the coming of Christ and actually murdered the Savior. 

10 – Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand. 

The ensuing centuries, from the Babylonian captivity until Rome and the predicted end, would be a time of great trial for the nation.  Even so, the adversity and persecution of those days would serve to purify a people zealous for their God, willing to suffer for their faith, and perish as martyrs for Christ when he arrived. Those whose hearts received a love of the truth would hear and understand; those who did not receive the love of the truth would embrace a lie and be damned (II Thess. 2:10-12).


The Continuous Offering for Caesar and Rome, and the Final Crisis


11, 12 – And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.  Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days. 

There are two basic approaches to these verses.  One holds that they represent a recapitulation to Antiochus Epiphanes and his desecration of the temple; the other places them at the fall of Jerusalem.  A third approach applies these to the antichrist; however, as this was actually Nero, their fulfillment will occur in the fall of Jerusalem, so that the second and third options in reality are the same. Those who assign these verses to Antiochus Ephiphanes usually treat taking away the sacrifice and setting up of the abomination of desolation (which is supposed to be the image of Jupiter) as a single contemporaneous event, marking the terminus a quo.  This occurred on the fifteenth day of Casleu 168 B.C., when Antiochus forbade keeping the law and erected an idol in the temple.[13]  The terminus ad quem is typically supposed to be the cleansing of the temple on the twenty-fifth of Casleu, 165 B.C.[14] and death of Antiochus shortly thereafter (164 B.C.).   

According to this view then, the 1290 days were fulfilled in the period from the fifteenth of Casleu 168 B.C. to the cleansing of the temple on the twenty-fifth of Casleu 165 B.C.; and the 1335 days was fulfilled in the supposed death of Antiochus forty-five days later.  However, it takes only a cursory glance at these dates to see that they are impossible.  The period from the taking away of the sacrifice until the temple was cleansed was only three years and ten days, or thirty-six months.  But 1290 days is forty-three months.  Hence, there is fully seven months difference between them.  Moreover, Antiochus died in the 149th year of the Greeks (164 B.C.),[15] but the temple was cleansed in the 148th (165 B.C.) in the month Casleu, which answers to our December.  The Greek new year began in the spring (Nisan/April).[16]  Hence, the 149th year of the Greeks would not have begun for three months after cleansing the temple, making impossible to bring Antiochus’ death within the forty-five day window proposed.[17]

As already shown, the abomination of desolation refers, not to the erection of an idol in the temple, but to the desolations wrought by invading foreign armies.  (See comments at 11:31.)  Moses warned the children of Israel that God would exact severe punishment for their rebellion and disobedience.  “And I will bring the land into desolation: and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished at it.  And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out the sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste” (Lev. 26:32, 33; emphasis added).  Jesus pronounced seven woes upon Jerusalem, and declared that all the righteous blood shed upon the earth would be required of that generation (Matt. 23:13-36).  Having refused to believe or repent, he warned “behold, your house is left unto you desolate” (v. 38; emphasis added).  The Lord then departed out of the city and his disciples remarked about the buildings of temple.  Jesus responded that not one stone would be left upon another that would not be thrown down, and foretold the city’s coming destruction (Matt. 24:1, 2).  He then told the disciples that, when they saw “the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet,” they should flee Jerusalem and Judea (v. 15-21).  Hence, it is to the overthrow of the Jewish polity in A.D. 70 and to the Roman legions that these verses refer, not Antiochus Epiphanes. 

The Jews’ war with Rome began when Eleazar’s party refused to accept offerings from Gentiles, and, on this basis, thus refused the customary sacrifice for Caesar.  Josephus called this the “true beginning” of the war.[18]  Josephus does not provide the date these offerings were rejected, but we can arrive at a reasonable estimate.  Josephus relates that those who sought to avert war sent to Florus and Agrippa II for help to suppress the sedition that broke out upon refusal of Caesar’s sacrifice.  Agrippa sent 3000 cavalry from Auranitis, Batanea, and Trachonitis.  These places were fairly remote from Jerusalem, above Galilee almost to Damascus.  Hence, to send to Agrippa and to assemble these men in Jerusalem, probably took no less than four days. Upon their arrival at Jerusalem, Josephus states there were seven days fighting between Agrippa’s men and those seeking to revolt.  

The next day was the festival Xylophory; and the following day he gives as the fifteenth of Ab.[19]  Reckoning backward from this date, and assuming four days elapsed in sending to Agrippa and the arrival of the soldiers in Jerusalem, the sacrifice would then have been refused on the third day of Ab A.D. 66.  This is the terminus a quo.  The terminus ad quem is the investment of Jerusalem.  Titus arrived at Jerusalem on the fourteenth of Nisan, A.D. 70, shutting up in the city the Jews who had come to keep Passover.  He was four days leveling the ground and setting up camp.[20] Three revolutions of the calendar from the third of Ab, A.D. 66 when Caesar’s sacrifice was refused to the third of Ab, A.D. 69, equal thirty-six months.  From the third of Ab, A.D. 69, to the eighteenth of Nisan, A.D. 70 when Titus’ camp was complete, is eight and a half months.  Together they make forty-four and a half months, or 1335 days.  The forty-five day difference between the 1335 days and the 1290 days was the time it took Titus to assemble his forces. 

Prior to his investment of Jerusalem, Titus marched from Alexandria to Caesarea, where he determined to set his forces in order before the war.  His army included legions brought with him from Egypt, others drawn from those that guarded the Euphrates, and auxiliaries sent by Agrippa II, Antiochus, king of Commagene, Malchus, king of Arabia, and Sohemus, king of Emesa.[21]  The convergence of these forces at Caesarea was the setting up of the abomination of desolation.   

Josephus does not tell us when Titus arrived at Caesarea, or how long he remained there before marching upon Jerusalem.  However, if the 1335th day from rejection of Caesar’s offering fell upon the eighteenth of Nisan (April), A.D. 70, the 1290th day would have fallen on the third of Adar (March), forty-five days earlier.  Using this as the date Titus departed from Alexandria and the abomination of desolation began to be set up, we find the facts accord perfectly with Daniel’s prophecy.  Josephus tells us that “winter was now almost over” when Titus marched from Alexandria.[22]  The first day of spring is the vernal equinox, about March (Adar) twenty-first.  The march from Alexandria took fourteen days.[23]  This would put Titus in Caesarea on the seventeenth of Adar, leaving almost a month for him to collect his forces, gather provisions, and make the necessary arrangements before marching upon Jerusalem.[24]  The angel’s pronouncement “blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the 1335 days” thus spoke to the saints’ joy at their redemption from their trials (Lk. 21:28), after patiently awaiting Christ’s retribution upon their enemies.  (Cf. Matt. 23:34-39; Rev. 6:9-11.)  With the fall of Jerusalem, the church’s greatest enemy would be destroyed.  The siege of Jerusalem would mark the final chapter of the eschatological crisis, bringing in its train the resurrection of the dead and eternal inheritance of the saints in heaven at its conclusion. 

Against this interpretation is the fact that the “daily sacrifice” is generally understood in reference to the morning and evening sacrifice commanded in the law, not the offering of Caesar or those of the Gentiles (Num. 28, 29).  The Hebrew term is tamiyd, and properly signifies regular or continuous.  The same term occurs in Dan. 11:31 and 8:11-13.  In the latter case, the specific use of “mornings and evenings” to define the duration the temple service would be interrupted unequivocally ties the word to the regular, morning and evening sacrifice.  However, apart from such modifying words, there is nothing in the term that limits its application to any specific sacrifice.   

1,335 Days from Taking Away Caesar’s Continuous Sacrifice Until

Titus’ Investment of Jerusalem


Text Box: 45 days

66                      67                      68                      69                     70


The shew bread, too, was to be continuously (tamiyd) present before the Lord (Lev. 24:8; Num. 4:7; II Chron. 2:4), as were also the candlestick and incense (Ex. 30:7, 8; Lev. 24:2-4).  Thus, reference to the sacrifice for Caesar and Rome, offered twice daily,[25] precisely in the manner of the evening and morning sacrifice, is fully in keeping with use of the term.  Although the Jewish mind would naturally assume the morning and evening sacrifice of the law was intended, rather than the sacrifice for Caesar, it seems likely it was for this very reason the term was used; viz., that the vision might be “sealed” as the angel declared.  “None of the wicked would understand; but the wise would understand”: the prophetic power present in the days prior to the fall of Jerusalem ensured that God’s people would understand the sign and flee Jerusalem before its ultimate crisis.  Eusebius confirms the thruth of this assertion, for he reports that Christians were warned by revelation to flee the accursed city: 

“But the people of the church in Jerusalem had been commanded by a revelation, vouchsafed to approved men there before the war, to leave the city and to dwell in a certain town of Perea called Pella. And when those that believed in Christ had come thither from Jerusalem, then, as if the royal city of the Jews and the whole land of Judea were entirely destitute of holy men, the judgment of God at length overtook those who had committed such outrages against Christ and his apostles, and totally destroyed that generation of impious men. But the number of calamities which every where fell upon the nation at that time; the extreme misfortunes to which the inhabitants of Judea were especially subjected, the thousands of men, as well as women and children, that perished by the sword, by famine, and by other forms of death innumerable,--all these things, as well as the many great sieges which were carried on against the cities of Judea, and the excessive. sufferings endured by those that fled to Jerusalem itself, as to a city of perfect safety, and finally the general course of the whole war, as well as its particular occurrences in detail…all these things any one that wishes may find accurately described in the history written by Josephus.”[26] 

13 – But go thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days. 

The end of the days is not the 1335 days that marked the commencement of the siege, but the time, times, and a half (forty-two months, 1260 days) that witnessed the city’s destruction.  With all earthly enemies firmly beneath his feet, the last enemy (Hadean death) would be destroyed, and the righteous dead receive their eternal inheritance in heaven, of which Daniel was promised a part.

[1] “I embrace the opinion of those who refer this to the person of Christ.”  Calvin, in loc.

[2] We interpret the “body of Moses” in reference to the Jewish nation inasmuch as they were baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea (I Cor. 10:1, 2), just as Christians are made members of the body of Christ by baptism (I Cor. 12:13).  Chilton agrees: “By Body of Moses” Jude probably means the Old Testament Covenant community, the equivalent of the ‘Body of Christ”: cf. the “houses” of Moses and Christ in Heb. 3:2-6.”  David Chilton, Days of Vengeance (Dominion Press, Tyler, TX, 1987), p. 312.  The “devil” and “Satan” we interpret as the Persian monarchy and nobles, who were adversaries to the Jews, for this is the meaning of the term.  It is often so used in reference to men and governments (I Kng. 5:4; 11:14Hadad the Edomite; I Kng. 5:4:23, 25Rezon, the son of Eliadah).  See comments at Dan. 10:13.

[3] Josephus, Antiquities, XVIII, iv, 2, 3

[4] Ibid, XVIII, vi, 10; XVIII, vii, 2

[5] Ibid, XVIII, vi, 10

[6] Ibid, XIX, iii, iv, v, 1

[7] Ibid, XIX, ix, 1, 2

[8] “We cannot deduce that ‘many’ here excludes ‘all.’  The idea suggested is rather multitudinousness.”  J. E. H. Thomson, The Pulpit Commentary, in loc.

[9] Jerome, in loc.

[10] Greco-Roman notions of Hades had it that the dead resided there a thousand years before being reborn to earthly life.  (Plato, Republic, Bk. X, 315-320, Virgil, Aeneid, Bk. VI, 734ff; Justin Martyr, 1st Apology, VIII, The Works of Voltaire. A Contemporary Version. A Critique and Biography by John Morley, notes by Tobias Smollett, trans. William F. Fleming (New York: E.R. DuMont, 1901). In 21 vols. Vol. 3. Chapter: APOCALYPSE.)  This appears to be the meaning of the symbolic thousand year periods in Rev. 20:1-3, and 4-6; viz., the dragon, having received a mortal wound in the collapse of the persecution over Stephen, was figuratively bound in Tartarus until the persecution under Nero, and the martyrs, having died under Nero, reigned with Christ in Paradise pending the general resurrection.  See the author’s article Revelation’s Millennia and Greco-Roman Notions of Hades.

[11] Josephus, Wars, Preface, 1; cf. V, x, 5

[12] Josephus, Wars, VI, ix, 2

[13] I Macc. 1:54

[14] I Macc. 4:41, 52

[15] I Macc. 6:19

[16] Ussher, § 3428, p. 444; Finegan, § 194, p. 103

[17] For examples of this approach, see Moses Stuart in loc; Philip Desprez, pp. 167-168; Josephus,

Antiquities X, xi, 7

[18] Ibid II, xvii, 2

[19] Ibid, II, xvii, 2, 5, 6, 7

[20] Ibid, V, iii, 1, 5; VI, xiii, 7

[21] Ibid, IV, xi, 5; V, i, 1; cf. III, iv, 2

[22] Ibid, IV, xi, 5

[23] Ibid

[24] We have used Titus’ departure from Alexandria as the terminus a quo because that is the earliest point at which the abomination of desolation began to be set up, but Titus’ arrival at Caesarea may with equal validity be used.

[25] Josephus, Wars, II, x, 4

[26] Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, III, v.  Farquharson (followed by Mauro) has it that this refers to the cessation of the daily sacrifice toward the end of the Roman war.  However, for this to work, he is compelled to reverse the text so that the abomination of desolation precedes rather than follows the taking away of the daily sacrifice.  He maintains that there is nothing in the verbs that prevents rearranging the order of the nouns this way, but certainly the prophet recorded the words the way he did to facilitate, not frustrate, the reader’s comprehension.  To say that the words have been deliberately reversed from the actual order of historical events simply makes no sense at all, and is a plain case of an interpretation being literally forced upon the text.  What is more, the events do not correspond with the periods described.  Cestius first invested Jerusalem on the 8th of Marchesvan (November) A.D. 66; the sacrifice failed on the 17th of Tamuz (July) A.D. 70. The space between these is fifty-six months; but the time allotted by the angel is 1290 days, or forty-three months, a difference of fully thirteen months.  Thus, even with a reversal of the text the events cannot be made to match and this proposal must be rejected.  Farquharson, pp. 197-201.

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