RESURRECTION IN DANIEL 12:2

New growthPMT 2014-140 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

In Daniel 12:1–2 we find a passage that clearly speaks of the great tribulation in AD 70: “Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued” (12:1). But it also seems to speak of the resurrection occurring at that time: “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt” (12:2).

How are we to understand this passage? Does Daniel teach that the eschatological, consummate resurrection occurs during the great tribulation in AD 70? No, he does not. Let me explain.

Daniel appears to be presenting Israel as a grave site under God’s curse: Israel as a corporate body is in the “dust” (Da 12:2; cp. Ge 3:14, 19). In this he follows Ezekiel’s pattern in his vision of the dry bones, which represent Israel’s “death” in the Babylonian dispersion (Eze 37).[1] In Daniel’s prophecy many will awaken, as it were, during the great tribulation to suffer the full fury of the divine wrath, while others will enjoy God’s grace in receiving everlasting life. Luke presents similar imagery in Luke 2:34 in a prophecy about the results of Jesus’s birth for Israel: “And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, ‘Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed.’”

Christ himself points out that some from Israel will believe and be saved, while others will not (e.g., Mt 10:34–36; 13:11–15), that in the removing of the kingdom from Israel many will be crushed and scattered like dust (Mt 21:43–45). He even speaks of the saved Jews as arising from the “shadow of death” (Mt 4:16). Though in AD 70 elect Jews will flee Israel and will live (Mt 24:22), the rest of the nation will be a corpse: “wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather” (Mt 24:28). Indeed, in AD 70 we see in the destruction of the city of Jerusalem (Mt 22:7) that “many are called, but few are chosen” (Mt 22:14).[2] Elsewhere he employs the imagery of “regeneration” to the arising of the new Israel from out of dead, old covenant Israel in AD 70: “You who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Mt 19:28).


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This paralleling of divine blessing and divine curse, of life and death (cf. Ro 11:15) for those in Israel is a frequent theme (under varied images) in the Book of Revelation [3]: God’s angels protect some Jews from the winds of judgment, while not protecting others (Rev 7:1–9). John measures some Jews for safe-keeping in the temple, while not measuring others (11:1–2). Some stand high upon Mt. Zion in safety (Rev 14:1–5), while others do not (Rev 14:17–20).

Returning now to Daniel, it appears that Daniel is drawing from the hope of the future, literal resurrection and applying it symbolically to the first century leading up to the tribulation in AD 70. That is, he is portraying God’s separating believing Jews out of Israel through the winnowing of Israel in AD 70. Again, this is much like Ezekiel’s practice in his vision of the valley of dry bones.[4] Though Ezekiel’s prophecy is concerned with Israel as a whole, whereas Daniel shows that Israel’s hope is the believing remnant.

In Daniel 12:4 the prophet hears a command to seal up his message until Israel’s end, thus delaying its prophesied actions. In Revelation 22:10 John receives a command precisely the opposite of Daniel’s, resulting in Revelation as a whole being opened and thereby fulfilled shortly: “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near” (Rev 22:10; cp. 1:1, 3; 22:6).

Then Daniel sees in 12:5–7 an image that forms the pattern of John’s vision in Revelation 10:5. A man (angel) standing above the waters uttering an oath to the eternal God. He promises that the events of Israel’s end will be finished, transpiring within a period of “a time, times, and half a time.” This apparently signifies a period of one year, two years, and half a year, which is John’s three and one-half years or forty-two months (Rev 11:2; cp. Rev 12:14).


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In Da 12:8 the prophet expresses confusion about the outcome of his prophecy. He knows neither when (Da 12:6) nor how (Da 12:8) these prophecies will come to pass. But according to Revelation 10:6–7, John is informed both when and how they will transpire — since he lives in the end time period (which begins with the incarnation of Christ, Ac 2:16–17, 24; 1Co 10:11; 2Ti 3:1; Heb 1:1–2; 9:26; 1Jn 2:18; 1Pe 1:20).

So the resurrection in Daniel 12 does not associate the consummate resurrection with the AD 70 tribulation. Daniel only picks up on resurrection imagery and, like Ezekiel, applies that to corporate Israel. He is teaching that in the events of AD 70, the true Israel will arise from old Israel’s carcass, as in a resurrection.

NOTES

1. See: Dictionary of Biblical Prophecy and End Times, 148. Thus, Da 12 does not directly teach individual, bodily resurrection. Nevertheless, the fact that it uses such language shows that a literal bodily resurrection lies behind the image, and so it indirectly affirms the future bodily resurrection.

2. See Mt 22:1–13 as an image of God’s inviting Jews to Christ, which invi-tation Israel rejects.

3. See my discussion of Lk 2:34 in Bock, Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond, 252–54.

4. In doing this Daniel operates much like the Apostle John who uses Old Testament texts and re-applies them in his Revelation drama. For instance, John re-applies the historical exodus imagery to teach a new exodus (e.g., Rev 15:1–3).

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9 thoughts on “RESURRECTION IN DANIEL 12:2

  1. Tracy November 21, 2014 at 6:21 am

    Since the cross, we have not seen an instance of God’s wrath upon sin. Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, and that includes the Jews who killed Jesus. So, if God is not counting our sins against us, how do you explain AD 70? Could God’s judgement be upon the religious system rather than the people itself? After all, he is bringing it to an end, since Christ is now our temple, and we worship now in Spirit and in Truth. I am not saying I disagree with most of your discussions, but am trying to make this line up biblically since God is no longer counting our sins against us. And that MUST include the Jews as its post cross.

  2. Kenneth Gentry November 21, 2014 at 8:22 am

    Thanks for reading. First, the AD 70 judgment was against the people themselves, as well as their now-defunct religious system. Of course, the judgment was on the first-century Jews for their actions.

    Matt 8:10-12: “Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, ‘Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel. I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'”

    Matt 23:37-38: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!”

    Luke 23:27: “And following Him was a large crowd of the people, and of women who were mourning and lamenting Him. But Jesus turning to them said, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, stop weeping for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, “Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.”T hen they will begin TO SAY TO THE MOUNTAINS, “FALL ON US,” AND TO THE HILLS, “COVER US.” For if they do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

    Second, Jesus did not die for the sins of the whole world. Else the whole world would be saved.

    This is why Paul can urge Christians to have a special respect for fellow Christians: Rom 14:15 “For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died.”

    This is why the Lord himself says: John 10:11: “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” Then he turns to the Pharisees and says: John 10:26 “But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep.”

    Similarly we read in Acts 20:28: “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.”

  3. Mike November 21, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    Thanks for your clarification on the meaning of this passage. Gary DeMar also has a helpful article on this passage in which he takes the same view: http://americanvision.org/mediafiles/daniel-13-the-resurrection-of-israel.pdf.

  4. Tyler November 21, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    Because I’m familiar with some of the arguments of the “hyper-‘s,” I’d like to ask, in your opinion, is there any OT text that clearly affirms physical resurrection? Off the top of my head I can only think of Abraham’s thoughts (as interpreted by Hebrews), and the controversial Job passage…and maybe one passage in Isaiah but which is likely also metaphorical like Daniel’s. Thanks!

  5. Richard November 22, 2014 at 12:23 am

    Fascinating, thank you!

  6. Shaun Snyder November 22, 2014 at 4:56 am

    Intriguing article on this Daniel passage!

  7. Kenneth Gentry November 26, 2014 at 8:20 am

    In a few weeks, I will post an article on resurrection in the OT. Thanks for the good question.

  8. Stephan June 21, 2016 at 12:22 pm

    How do we know that Daniel 12:1 is describing the great tribulation in AD 70? Having read some of your works, I believe that it does. But, how would one explain to someone who isn’t inclined toward postmillennialism that Daniel 12:1 supports postmillennial eschatology? (E.g., In a recent sermon I heard on Daniel 12, the pre- or amillennialist preacher taught that Daniel 12:1 is describing a future tribulation.)

  9. Kenneth Gentry June 22, 2016 at 4:29 pm

    (1) It appears to be the source Christ is referring to in Matt 24:21. (2) Those “rescued” appear to be those in Matt 24:16 which occurs in AD 70. (cp. Matt. 24:2, 34). (3) Verse 4 fits with Rev. 22:10, which refers to AD 70 (see Rev. 22:6).

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