Recently a Governor referred to a tragic event in which many people were senselessly killed as “evil, it is just evil.” The point of Daniel 12 is not to describe the wickedness of the final days. Nor is it even to describe the wickedness of Daniel’s own day (or ours). The evil of his age was vividly known to Daniel already. The point of the chapter is to encourage God’s people to triumph in the midst of evil. How are they to do that?
The people of God are to live by faith in God and by the knowledge of God given in His written revelation. This is the point of the angel’s words to Daniel regarding the scroll on which this book was written. The angel said, “Go your way, Daniel, because the words are shut up and sealed until the time of the end.” Sometimes this verse is understood as if it were teaching that the book was to be withdrawn from circulation until the time of the end when it would have its seal broken and would again be read and understood. Regardless, this was the trustworthy, validated revelation according to which Daniel was to live in those days.
We can hardly fail to compare this last chapter of Daniel with the last chapter of Revelation. In Daniel the prophet is told to “close up” and “seal” the prophecy. But in Revelation the angel tells the apostle John, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.” We live after the days of the apostle John. So even if the words of Daniel’s prophecy were sealed up because the people of that time could not understand them, we are no longer living in such times and the entire Word of God is open for us to read and understand.
This does not mean that God has revealed all His secrets to us. There is much we have not been told. Deuteronomy speaks of these things, saying, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God.” That is, they are God’s business, not ours. But that same verse goes on to say, “But the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.” That is the point, you see. There is much we do not know. There will always be much about God we will not know. But God has revealed what we need to know, and we are to treasure these revealed truths and live by them.
To live by faith in God and by the knowledge of God given in His written revelation is the first secret to living for God in the last days.
Secondly, the angel spoke to Daniel about the righteous being “purified, made spotless and refined” (12.10). Or to go back to the concluding words of the vision of 11.2-12.4, “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” (12.3). This combination of ideas – purification, refinement, spotless living, and shining with the brightness of the heavens – speaks of the actual personal righteousness of God’s elect people, which by the blessing of God inevitably leads others to believe in God and become like God themselves. It is what we are called upon to be and do as the end approaches.
Whenever the Bible speaks of the people of God shining like the stars (or whatever), it is speaking of their showing forth the character of God by their own acts of righteousness as a result of spending time with Him. After Moses had spent time with God on the mountain, his face shone with a transferred brilliance – so much so that the people asked that he cover his face with a veil until the glory of God visible in his face should subside. Moses revealed God’s glory as a result of having spent time with Him, and Paul in II Corinthians argues that we are also to reflect God’s glory.
We do not always do it well. We are like the moon. When the sun goes down and the moon comes up, the moon shines. But it does not shine by its own light. It shines only by reflecting light from the sun. Sometimes it is a full moon, and the sky is filled with light. At other times it is a new moon, barely visible. Or else it is a tiny quarter, and we cannot tell whether it is a waxing or a waning quarter. Our job is to reflect the light of God’s glory so that people living in our own dark age might see the light and be drawn to its true source.
Those who shine with God’s glory will lead many to righteousness, as the angel told Daniel they would.
Finally, in the very last verse Daniel is told to “go your way until the end.” It was a way of telling him that, though the days ahead would be bad, his task was to persevere and not waver in his stand for God. So it is with us. Is that what you are doing in this age? Are you wise in spiritual things because you have filled your mind with God’s written revelation? Do you spend time with God? And because you have spent time with God, do you reflect His glory and image His character to our darkened world? Do you lead others to Christ? Are you God’s witness? This is what God has given us to do. It is our commission and task and opportunity.