Daniel’s vision of a blessed future

The book of Daniel contains some of the most obscure visions in Scripture. Weird looking beasts represent empires in Daniel’s future, but mostly our past. We can identify many rulers by name and understand references to what each of them did. The evil doings of Syrian King Antiochus IV appear at greater length, except there always seem to some details that don’t fit. They point to a coming Antichrist. I have recently touched on one of the visions in Thoughts on Bible prophecy: reading the future in Scripture. Daniel’s final vision relates the ultimate destruction of Antichrist and promises bodily resurrection for everyone afterward.

“Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to everlasting contempt. 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” (Daniel 12:2-3, NIV).

  • Like many passages in the New Testament, Daniel envisions physical death as sleep.
  • He describes a literal, bodily resurrection. According to Revelation, the resurrection of the unjust follows the resurrection of the just by a thousand years.
  • The fate of both the just and unjust is everlasting. There will be no more grace to allow the unjust another chance to repent.
  • The just will shine like the stars—a way of saying God will grant them not only a place in heaven, but glory.

We can only go by what our senses tell us. God can see more deeply into every person’s heart than we can understand even our own. Sooner or later we all die. Sooner or later, we will all rise again, and only God will know how each of us responded to his grace.

Even some Christians recoil at the thought that anyone will go to hell. A loving God, they say, would never send anyone to hell. Actually, no, he won’t. He knows who has accepted his offer of grace and chosen to love him. He will raise them up to glory. He will also remove living people who love him from the earth in order to let evil grow without the restraint of their prayers.

Daniel 11:36-12:1 seems to describe Antiochus IV, the king of the North, for the umpteenth time—except that in 11:40 the king of the North becomes adversary to, well, Antichrist. Daniel therefore describes the end of the world as we know it. After a thousand years (and don’t believe anyone who claims to understand anything about that time), God will raise all those who didn’t accept his offer of grace and chose to hate him.

Why would any of them want to go to heaven and be with God? They hate him. They want to be wherever he is not. In sadness, not in anger, he will tell them, “Have it your way, since you won’t have it mine.” Where else can they go but outer darkness? Where else can they go except the place reserved for the devil and demons? Can they repent once they get there? God will show mercy if possible, but he has revealed nothing about it.

Daniel did not understand the vision or the answer the “man in linen” gave to an angel’s question about it. He asked (12:8) what the outcome would be. We’re still asking. The only answer we’ll ever get is God’s plea to accept his grace now so that in the end of days, we will rise to glory.

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