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Daniel 10:1-12:13 – Your Allotted Inheritance

Summary

In Daniel 10 we are told that Daniel had a disturbing vision. The rest of the chapter narrates his encounters with heavenly beings as he is being prepared for an interpretation of the dream. Daniel 11 reveals the content and meaning of the dream. It is filled with descriptions of great violence. Daniel 12 announces the intervention of Michael, a heavenly being assigned to protect the people of God, and the resurrection of the faithful. As a unit, Daniel 10-12 asserts, as have previous chapters, that the future for the people of God will not be easy; the picture is not at all pretty. But the outcome is certain: the evil rulers of this age will not have the last word. The closing words of Daniel assure us that God will provide the inheritance that has been allotted for the faithful.

Analysis

Daniel 10-12 draws together many of the themes of the previous chapters. There are, of course, some distinctive features in these chapters. They are both a climax and a summary. The unique elements include the following:
•    Daniel's reaction to the vision is treated more fully in this chapter than at any other point in the book.
•    Much more space is devoted to the final violent kingdom in chapter 11 than in the previous treatments.
•    Chapter 12 deals specifically with the faithful who have died before the kingdom of God is established at the end of the series of defiant kingdoms.

Many themes appear in 11:5-28. These include plots and revolutions (11:21-25), strength (11:5, 6, 10), insolence (11:18), and deceit 11:23). The ruler mentioned in 11:29-35 repeats a number of these themes, but the emphasis on his magnified heart and his actions against the people of the covenant is unprecedented. The faithful will be sorely pressed; some will die (11:33). Others will flatter the oppressor and make a pact with him (11:34). The picture is one of painful turmoil. The tyrant will not only challenge God, but will forsake his own religious traditions and deify himself and his warring activity (11:36-39). The description of the resurrection in 12:1-2 is expressed in language that emphasizes the dimensions of the kingdom of God that exceeds what is now known. God's capacity to deliver exceeds the capacity of evil to destroy, no matter what form the latter takes.

We can persist in faithful defiance of the demands of the tyrants of this world, because they do not control our future. We can, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:58, be "immovable" and get on with the work of the Lord. The end of the blasphemous and tyrannical kingdoms of the world is certain. This is asserted in several different visions in the book. The kingdom of God lasts forever and ever-that too is repeatedly asserted. The message encourages trust, not insecure speculation about the future.

The book has moved from suffering as punishment (1:1-2; 9:4-15) to punishment as refinement for the final cosmic battle between the forces of evil and God (11:30-32). In Daniel 1-6 faithful living can withstand and avoid the hubris of rulers who can nonetheless be served. As Daniel 7-12 comes to a close, it is clear that a shift has occurred: there will be rulers who cannot be served and who will only persecute. Under those circumstances, perseverance and resistance to the point of martyrdom are the marks of faithful living.

Daniel 10:1-12:13

Conflict of Nations and Heavenly Powers

10In the third year of King Cyrus of Persia a word was revealed to Daniel, who was named Belteshazzar. The word was true, and it concerned a great conflict. He understood the word, having received understanding in the vision.

2 At that time I, Daniel, had been mourning for three weeks. 3I had eaten no rich food, no meat or wine had entered my mouth, and I had not anointed myself at all, for the full three weeks. 4On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river (that is, the Tigris), 5I looked up and saw a man clothed in linen, with a belt of gold from Uphaz around his waist. 6His body was like beryl, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and the sound of his words like the roar of a multitude. 7I, Daniel, alone saw the vision; the people who were with me did not see the vision, though a great trembling fell upon them, and they fled and hid themselves. 8So I was left alone to see this great vision. My strength left me, and my complexion grew deathly pale, and I retained no strength. 9Then I heard the sound of his words; and when I heard the sound of his words, I fell into a trance, face to the ground.

10 But then a hand touched me and roused me to my hands and knees. 11He said to me, ‘Daniel, greatly beloved, pay attention to the words that I am going to speak to you. Stand on your feet, for I have now been sent to you.’ So while he was speaking this word to me, I stood up trembling. 12He said to me, ‘Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. 13But the prince of the kingdom of Persia opposed me for twenty-one days. So Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, and I left him there with the prince of the kingdom of Persia,* 14and have come to help you understand what is to happen to your people at the end of days. For there is a further vision for those days.’

15 While he was speaking these words to me, I turned my face towards the ground and was speechless. 16Then one in human form touched my lips, and I opened my mouth to speak, and said to the one who stood before me, ‘My lord, because of the vision such pains have come upon me that I retain no strength. 17How can my lord’s servant talk with my lord? For I am shaking,* no strength remains in me, and no breath is left in me.’

18 Again one in human form touched me and strengthened me. 19He said, ‘Do not fear, greatly beloved, you are safe. Be strong and courageous!’ When he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, ‘Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.’ 20Then he said, ‘Do you know why I have come to you? Now I must return to fight against the prince of Persia, and when I am through with him, the prince of Greece will come. 21But I am to tell you what is inscribed in the book of truth. There is no one with me who contends against these princes except Michael, your prince. 111As for me, in the first year of Darius the Mede, I stood up to support and strengthen him.

2 ‘Now I will announce the truth to you. Three more kings shall arise in Persia. The fourth shall be far richer than all of them, and when he has become strong through his riches, he shall stir up all against the kingdom of Greece. 3Then a warrior king shall arise, who shall rule with great dominion and take action as he pleases. 4And while still rising in power, his kingdom shall be broken and divided towards the four winds of heaven, but not to his posterity, nor according to the dominion with which he ruled; for his kingdom shall be uprooted and go to others besides these.

5 ‘Then the king of the south shall grow strong, but one of his officers shall grow stronger than he and shall rule a realm greater than his own realm. 6After some years they shall make an alliance, and the daughter of the king of the south shall come to the king of the north to ratify the agreement. But she shall not retain her power, and his offspring shall not endure. She shall be given up, she and her attendants and her child and the one who supported her.

‘In those times 7a branch from her roots shall rise up in his place. He shall come against the army and enter the fortress of the king of the north, and he shall take action against them and prevail. 8Even their gods, with their idols and with their precious vessels of silver and gold, he shall carry off to Egypt as spoils of war. For some years he shall refrain from attacking the king of the north; 9then the latter shall invade the realm of the king of the south, but will return to his own land.

10 ‘His sons shall wage war and assemble a multitude of great forces, which shall advance like a flood and pass through, and again shall carry the war as far as his fortress. 11Moved with rage, the king of the south shall go out and do battle against the king of the north, who shall muster a great multitude, which shall, however, be defeated by his enemy. 12When the multitude has been carried off, his heart shall be exalted, and he shall overthrow tens of thousands, but he shall not prevail. 13For the king of the north shall again raise a multitude, larger than the former, and after some years* he shall advance with a great army and abundant supplies.

14 ‘In those times many shall rise against the king of the south. The lawless among your own people shall lift themselves up in order to fulfil the vision, but they shall fail. 15Then the king of the north shall come and throw up siege-works, and take a well-fortified city. And the forces of the south shall not stand, not even his picked troops, for there shall be no strength to resist. 16But he who comes against him shall take the actions he pleases, and no one shall withstand him. He shall take a position in the beautiful land, and all of it shall be in his power. 17He shall set his mind to come with the strength of his whole kingdom, and he shall bring terms of peace* and perform them. In order to destroy the kingdom,* he shall give him a woman in marriage; but it shall not succeed or be to his advantage. 18Afterwards he shall turn to the coastlands, and shall capture many. But a commander shall put an end to his insolence; indeed,* he shall turn his insolence back upon him. 19Then he shall turn back towards the fortresses of his own land, but he shall stumble and fall, and shall not be found.

20 ‘Then shall arise in his place one who shall send an official for the glory of the kingdom; but within a few days he shall be broken, though not in anger or in battle. 21In his place shall arise a contemptible person on whom royal majesty had not been conferred; he shall come in without warning and obtain the kingdom through intrigue. 22Armies shall be utterly swept away and broken before him, and the prince of the covenant as well. 23And after an alliance is made with him, he shall act deceitfully and become strong with a small party. 24Without warning he shall come into the richest parts* of the province and do what none of his predecessors had ever done, lavishing plunder, spoil, and wealth on them. He shall devise plans against strongholds, but only for a time. 25He shall stir up his power and determination against the king of the south with a great army, and the king of the south shall wage war with a much greater and stronger army. But he shall not succeed, for plots shall be devised against him 26by those who eat of the royal rations. They shall break him, his army shall be swept away, and many shall fall slain. 27The two kings, their minds bent on evil, shall sit at one table and exchange lies. But it shall not succeed, for there remains an end at the time appointed. 28He shall return to his land with great wealth, but his heart shall be set against the holy covenant. He shall work his will, and return to his own land.

29 ‘At the time appointed he shall return and come into the south, but this time it shall not be as it was before. 30For ships of Kittim shall come against him, and he shall lose heart and withdraw. He shall be enraged and take action against the holy covenant. He shall turn back and pay heed to those who forsake the holy covenant. 31Forces sent by him shall occupy and profane the temple and fortress. They shall abolish the regular burnt-offering and set up the abomination that makes desolate. 32He shall seduce with intrigue those who violate the covenant; but the people who are loyal to their God shall stand firm and take action. 33The wise among the people shall give understanding to many; for some days, however, they shall fall by sword and flame, and suffer captivity and plunder. 34When they fall victim, they shall receive a little help, and many shall join them insincerely. 35Some of the wise shall fall, so that they may be refined, purified, and cleansed,* until the time of the end, for there is still an interval until the time appointed.

36 ‘The king shall act as he pleases. He shall exalt himself and consider himself greater than any god, and shall speak horrendous things against the God of gods. He shall prosper until the period of wrath is completed, for what is determined shall be done. 37He shall pay no respect to the gods of his ancestors, or to the one beloved by women; he shall pay no respect to any other god, for he shall consider himself greater than all. 38He shall honour the god of fortresses instead of these; a god whom his ancestors did not know he shall honour with gold and silver, with precious stones and costly gifts. 39He shall deal with the strongest fortresses by the help of a foreign god. Those who acknowledge him he shall make more wealthy, and shall appoint them as rulers over many, and shall distribute the land for a price.

The Time of the End

40 ‘At the time of the end the king of the south shall attack him. But the king of the north shall rush upon him like a whirlwind, with chariots and horsemen, and with many ships. He shall advance against countries and pass through like a flood. 41He shall come into the beautiful land, and tens of thousands shall fall victim, but Edom and Moab and the main part of the Ammonites shall escape from his power. 42He shall stretch out his hand against the countries, and the land of Egypt shall not escape. 43He shall become ruler of the treasures of gold and of silver, and all the riches of Egypt; and the Libyans and the Ethiopians* shall follow in his train. 44But reports from the east and the north shall alarm him, and he shall go out with great fury to bring ruin and complete destruction to many. 45He shall pitch his palatial tents between the sea and the beautiful holy mountain. Yet he shall come to his end, with no one to help him.

The Resurrection of the Dead

12‘At that time Michael, the great prince, the protector of your people, shall arise. There shall be a time of anguish, such as has never occurred since nations first came into existence. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book. 2Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth* shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky,* and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. 4But you, Daniel, keep the words secret and the book sealed until the time of the end. Many shall be running back and forth, and evil* shall increase.’

5 Then I, Daniel, looked, and two others appeared, one standing on this bank of the stream and one on the other. 6One of them said to the man clothed in linen, who was upstream, ‘How long shall it be until the end of these wonders?’ 7The man clothed in linen, who was upstream, raised his right hand and his left hand towards heaven. And I heard him swear by the one who lives for ever that it would be for a time, two times, and half a time,* and that when the shattering of the power of the holy people comes to an end, all these things would be accomplished. 8I heard but could not understand; so I said, ‘My lord, what shall be the outcome of these things?’ 9He said, ‘Go your way, Daniel, for the words are to remain secret and sealed until the time of the end. 10Many shall be purified, cleansed, and refined, but the wicked shall continue to act wickedly. None of the wicked shall understand, but those who are wise shall understand. 11From the time that the regular burnt-offering is taken away and the abomination that desolates is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days. 12Happy are those who persevere and attain the thousand three hundred and thirty-five days. 13But you, go your way,* and rest; you shall rise for your reward at the end of the days.’

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10 February 2011

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