7.31 Daniel -- Perseverance of the Righteous

Daniel’s final recorded vision occupies the last three chapters of the book, 10-12.  This time, his angelic messenger is not named.  As before, this vision concerns more than just Israel, and  reaches far beyond the immediate future.

         

The angelic being says that there will be four more Persian kings after Cyrus (though in fact there were nine -- Baldwin, p. 185), and then war with Greece (Dan 11:2).  "A mighty king," namely Alexander the Great, will exercise great power, but after his death his empire is divided (Dan 11:3-4Dan 8:5-8).  The kings of the north and south shall fight each other.  That will be followed by the rise of "a contemptible person," who will exalt himself and desecrate the temple (Dan 11:21Dan 11:31), until the coming of "Michael, the great prince" (Dan 12:1).

         

As we read this chapter, one of the most striking features is the piling up of references to occasions when human power will be frustrated.  In the midst of this chronicle of striving and futility, the people of God shine like stars.  They resist, and suffer persecution for it.  They will also be purified.  And they will instruct many and lead many to righteousness (Dan 11:32-35Dan 12:3Dan 12:10).  Nothing in the text points to the inclusion of Gentiles in this group,   and of course this is written in Hebrew rather than Aramaic.  After noting the contrast in Dan 11:32 between the people who know their God and the contemptible ruler, JI Packer concludes:

          "This shows us that the action taken by those who know God is their reaction to the anti-God trends which they see operating around them.  While their God is being defied or disregarded, they cannot rest; they feel they must do something; the dishonour done to God’s name goads them into action" (p. 23).

Chapter 12 speaks of a great deliverance, and apparently of resurrection:

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

The term "everlasting life" first appears here in the Old Testament (Baldwin, p. 204).  God’s blessing is upon those who endure, who continue to wait in hope and faith.  Those who die before the end, like Daniel himself, will "rise to receive your allotted inheritance" (Dan 12:12-13).