This Daniel 12 Bible study contains outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications. Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.
Daniel 12 Bible Study Commentary and Inductive Questions
I. A time of trouble and the final resurrection (1-4)
II. The time of the end (5-12)
I. A time of trouble and the final resurrection (1-4)
• Verse 1 says, “at that time.” At what time?
• What is Michael’s relationship with Israel?
• What is the “time of trouble?” How will this trouble be different from any other in history?
• What will be the end result for the Jews?
• What book is referred to (1)?
• What does it mean to “sleep?”
• What can we learn from verse 2 about the resurrection? Who will resurrect?
• How does knowledge of the future resurrection influence your life now?
• In what ways are the wise like stars?
• How can you shine like a star in your culture? Your neighborhood? Your family?
• What does it mean for Daniel to shut up the words and seal the book? Until when?
• What does the phrase “many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase” mean?
Revelation 12:7 – Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back.
Matthew 24:29 – Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
Revelation 20:4-6 – They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.
John 11:25-26 – Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
John 6:40 – For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
Philippians 2:15 – That you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1. At that time – This refers back to Daniel 11:40, which says “at the time of the end.” Daniel 11 gives an overview of what the Jews would face in the future. First, they would face hundreds of years of trials, turmoil, and war. A vile person (Antiochus IV Epiphanes) would dominate and persecute them. He was a foreshadow of an even worse antichrist to come. The prophecy then zooms forward from the time of Antiochus IV to the “time of the end,” which is still yet future to us. The seventieth week (the final seven years) of Daniel’s prophecy is still yet to happen. In those seven years, the antichrist will rise up and take world dominion. It will be a “time of trouble” like none before.
2. Michael shall arise – Michael is one of the chief archangels. Here his role as protector of the Jews is revealed. Here we see a glimpse behind-the-scenes into spiritual warfare. Angels are members of God’s army. As their commanding general, He assigns them missions. Michael’s mission would be related to protecting the Jews. Presumably, God sends many angels around the world to different countries with unique missions.
God’s assignment of Michael to the Jews at the time of the end shows us that He is not finished with them yet. He still has amazing things in store for them. Other passages (Romans 11:26-27, Revelation 11:13, Zechariah 13:8-9) teach us that God still plans to save a large number of the Jews in the future. It is a reminder of God’s grace. Though the people of Israel have rebelled against the Lord many times in the past and rejected God’s own Son, He always preserves a remnant. Ultimately, He will restore the nation as a group (though not every individual) to Himself. Thus, while Satan will be working through the antichrist to carry out his plans, God will not be absent. He will be bringing His plan for His people to fruition.
3. There shall be a time of trouble, such has never been –
The “time of trouble” is often referred to as the “tribulation.”
Jesus mentioned this frightening time in Matthew 24:21 –
For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.
The tribulation is also known by other names in Scripture including The Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21), “Time of Trouble,” (Daniel 12:1), “Jacob’s Trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7), “Great and Terrible/Awesome Day of the Lord” (Joel 2:31).
The seven-year period will be divided into two parts. While the first part may be relatively peaceful and prosperous, the second half will begin with the abomination of desolation and things will go downhill quickly.
Revelation paints a bleak picture. Intense persecution will come upon all believers as they will refuse to follow the antichrist. War, famine, and disease will run rampant. But the trouble will go beyond man-made disasters. God will pour out a series of twenty-one supernatural judgments upon the world that will be living in open defiance of Him. Some of these will include earthquakes, oceans turning to blood, hail, poisoned water supply, extreme heat, extreme cold, and boils (Revelation 6-16). The scale, intensity, and frequency of disasters will be worse than anything the world has ever seen before. For those alive during that time period, it will feel as if the world is ending (because it is).
Joel tells us that these things will conclude with the return of the Lord.
Joel 2:31 – The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.
Reflect – Why will God release these judgments and increase the trouble facing the world at that time?
4. But at that time your people shall be delivered – This statement gives hope! All is not lost.
God’s purposes run deep. While He will bring these plagues upon the world in order to judge it, that is not the only reason. The Lord will use these events for great. They will act as a wake-up call to many. Each plague will be a warning that worse is still to come upon those who continue to live in rebellion. Together with the judgments, an invitation to repent will go out. Through angels (Revelation 14), two special witnesses (Revelation 11), and 144,000 evangelists (Revelation 7), the light will still shine. And because the darkness will be darker than ever before, so the light will shine brighter.
Hard-hearted people do not change their minds and trust in God easily. The Lord will use these plagues to wake people up and shock them out of their apathy. Few, if any, agnostics will remain. Battle lines will be drawn. Everyone will be forced to take a side.
And God’s people shall be delivered. Daniel must have been encouraged to hear this promise. Though Israel would face terrible trials over the centuries, God would not abandon them. In the end, His divine purpose is for her salvation. Huge numbers of Jews will be saved (Revelation 7). And these in turn, will bring the gospel to the world as untold multitudes of Gentiles from every tribe and tongue will turn to the Lord (Revelation 7:9-12).
Application – Remember God’s faithfulness. Even in the darkest storms, He has a divine purpose. All things work together for good to those who love Him (Romans 8:28). The tribulation will be a frightening and painful time. And yet God will use it to bring salvation to millions. In like manner, God desires to use trials in your life for good. Diamonds are made through intense heat and pressure. Our Father does not seek to use trials to overwhelm us but to refine us and to create something beautiful. So when you face trials, don’t despair. Trust in the Lord and remember that His love never fails. Every one of God’s good promises to you will be fulfilled.
Joshua 23:14 – Not one word has failed of all the good things that the Lord your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed.
5. Final resurrection –
There will be two resurrections. The first is a resurrection to life and the second is a resurrection to eternal punishment.
Daniel 12:2 – And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
The second resurrection is described in Revelation 20:12-14. It consists of unbelievers of all ages who are gathered forth to the Great White Throne and then sentenced according to their deeds.
The first resurrection occurs in stages. It includes Jesus as the firstfruits, the promise of what is to come.
1 Corinthians 15:20 – But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
The second stage is the resurrection of the “dead in Christ.” These will be raised at the rapture.
1 Thessalonians 4:16 – For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
And the third and final stage is seen in Revelation 20:4.
Revelation 20:4 – They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
Many believe that this life is all there is. I have asked scores of people what they believe will happen after death and some of the most common answers include “nothing” or “I will turn into dust.”
Believing that there is nothing after death is one of the greatest mistakes a person can make.
Reflect – How does one’s belief about what happens after death shape their life now?
A person who does not believe in life after death will also not believe in judgment. Where there is no accountability or authority, a person will do whatever he likes to do. This person will desire to live his best life now. He will live for the moment. Self will be his king. Pleasure will be his pursuit. In the end, such a person will die without leaving behind anything of eternal value. Whatever he has earned or achieved will rot, rust, or fade away. Such a life is empty and meaningless.
But God did not create us to live this way. He gave us a soul. We are made in the image of God. And though we don’t exist for eternity past, our soul will exist in eternity future. The decisions we make in our life on earth will affect not only our eternal destiny but others as well. Our choices have eternal consequences. That means that the life we live during our short time on earth is packed with meaning and purpose.
Application – Therefore, don’t waste your life! Firstly, make sure your faith is placed in Jesus so that you can take part in the blessed resurrection. Secondly, invite others to do the same. Thirdly, live your life for Jesus, building His kingdom, because that has eternal value.
6. Those who are wise shall shine –
The world will get darker and darker as the end times approach (2 Timothy 3:2). Against a dark backdrop, lights shine brighter. We live in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation and so do we. Our mission from the Lord is to “shine as lights.” Jesus told the disciples that He is the “light of the world” (John 8:12.) Another time, He said, “you are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14.)
God calls us to be wise Christians, followers of Christ. We are to live differently than the worldly people around us. Instead of pursuing materials, money, fame, achievement, and pleasure, we pursue Christ. He is our authority. He is our standard. He is our pearl of great price.
We are to live life according to the wisdom from above, not worldly wisdom (James 3:17).
The world is falling head over heels into relativism, which evil teachings like evolution only contribute to. Similar to the time of the judges, people do what is right in their own eyes. Traditional standards of right and wrong are being eroded before our eyes as people celebrate sin in many forms. Sin is not only tolerated, but it is promoted. And those who condemn it are labeled as bigots and are persecuted.
Against this backdrop, those who follow Christ live in stark contrast to the world. When we uncompromisingly follow His standard, we shine His light to a lost world. No, we don’t walk around with actual halos. But our actions show people a better way, the Creator’s way. The Word of God is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path, leading people in the right way. In a similar way, your actions can lead people to God.
Let us seek to “turn many to righteousness!”
Application – If a neutral observer had unrestricted access to watch you live your life 24/7, would they conclude that you are much different from an unbeliever? Would they know you are a follower of Christ only through observing your actions?
7. Shut up the words and seal the book until the time of the end –
There are three (or more) interpretations of this statement. One is that “shut up and seal” means to keep the book’s contents secret. It is hard to reconcile this interpretation with the fact that the contents of the book of Daniel are not secret.
Did he disobey? Did he keep it secret for a while but then release it (though the command is to shut it up until the time of the end)? Did he keep some other part of it secret?
It does not seem that Daniel kept the book secret since we are reading it today.
The second interpretation is that this command means to preserve the book and keep it safe. To “shut up the words” of the book could mean that it is complete and should nothing should be added or taken away from it. A similar instruction is given to John at the end of the book of Revelation (Revelation 22:18). And to seal the book could mean to preserve it, keeping it safe for all generations to read.
In other words, the revelation was now finished. Daniel could put down his pen. From that point, his job shifted to one of preservation. The knowledge in his book would be needed throughout the ages, including the end times.
The second interpretation seems to make more sense. God revealed these things to Daniel for our benefit and the benefit of all believers through time.
A third interpretation is that Daniel was to share the vision with others “as is.” He wasn’t to go to great lengths to share the interpretations with others because it wasn’t yet time to do so. As time passed and events unfolded, things would become clearer according to God’s timing.
8. Many shall run to and fro and knowledge shall increase –
Some take this to be a general prophecy about the world in future times. They believe it might refer to world travel (or even space exploration) and a general increase in physical knowledge. One cannot die that travel and knowledge have increased exponentially in the last two hundred years.
However, reading this verse in context shows that there is a simpler and more reasonable interpretation. The Hebrew word for “run to and fro” refers to a person in searching for something. Because Daniel preserved the prophecy, wise people in the end times will search his book for answers about God’s plans. As world events turn sour during the tribulation, even more people will be sent to Daniel’s writings in an attempt to make sense of what they will be seeing and to know what would happen next.
As people do that, “knowledge shall increase.” One purpose of the book of Daniel is to give insight and understanding to God’s people in regard to God’s plan. Also, as time passes and more of God’s plan is revealed, the prophecies in Daniel will become easier to see and understand. Knowledge of these end-time events will increase.
Application – Like the Bereans in Acts 17:11, we should look through the Scriptures as a lens for understanding the world we live in. Our desire should be to grow in the knowledge of the Lord and His plans. To do that, we need to study!
II. The time of the end (5-12)
• What others do you think Daniel saw?
• What are your observations about their size?
• What do you think the time, times, and half a time represent?
• How did the angel respond to Daniel’s further questioning in verse 8?
• Why do you think the angel gave this answer?
• According to verse 10, how would people react to these things during the tribulation?
• What will happen to start this “clock?”
• What do you think will happen at the end of the 1335 days?
• We have seen how many things end. What would the end be for Daniel?
• (See the end of this lesson for several book in review discussion questions).
Romans 11:26-27 – And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written,
“The Deliverer will come from Zion,
he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”;
“and this will be my covenant with them
when I take away their sins.”
Revelation 7:9, 14 – After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands. 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Revelation 22:10-11 – And he said to me, “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.”
Verse by Verse Commentary
1. Two others stood – Most likely, it refers to two angels.
2. It will be for times, time, and half a time – This is likely a reference to three-and-a-half years, half of the length of the final seven-year period. The same time frame is seen in many other Scriptures (Daniel 7:25, 9:27, Revelation 11:3, 12:6, 12:14, 13:5).
3. The shattering of the power of the holy people comes to an end – Israel will be trampled and crushed throughout its history, but especially in the great tribulation. The final battle before Jesus’ second coming will be against the holy city. It and its people will be overcome. The Jewish nation will have lost all power and be on the verge of total annihilation when Jesus returns and wipes out her enemies (Zechariah 14).
4. What shall be the outcome of this? – Daniel is hungry to learn more. However, this time the angel tells him, “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are shut up and sealed until the time of the end.”
To paraphrase, “Enough questions, Daniel. God has given you everything He is going to for now.” The revelation God gave Daniel was nearly complete. Many of Daniel’s questions had been answered. But not everything would be revealed until the time of the end. That is going to make everything more clear.
5. Verse 10 –
Daniel 12:10 – Many shall purify themselves and make themselves white and be refined, but the wicked shall act wickedly. And none of the wicked shall understand, but those who are wise shall understand.
In the end times, many people will be saved. Revelation 7:9-12 describes a vast multitude of believers from across the world worshiping the Lamb. They will be in white clothes, purified by the blood of Jesus.
However, not everyone will be saved. Many will ignore the Scripture. They will not respond to the clear signs of the times. They will scorn warnings to repent and instead pursue a lifestyle of sinful pleasure. There will be a widespread delusion as people are influenced by demonic forces and refuse to place their faith in God, whose existence will be undeniable.
6. There will be 1290 days after the burnt offering is taken away – It is a very specific prophecy. The clock will start on the day the burnt offering is taken away (for this to happen, the temple will first be rebuilt and daily sacrifices reinstituted). One thousand two hundred sixty days is equal to 3.5 three-hundred-sixty-day years. It is also a number used elsewhere to describe half of the tribulation period (Revelation 11:3, 13:5).
So there are three different numbers of days given that are related on this eschatological clock; 1260, 1290, and 1335.
Scholars agree that Jesus will return 1260 days after the mid-point of the tribulation when then the sacrifices are stopped in the temple. The other two numbers are less clear.
Many believe that judgment upon the survivors in the world will begin on the 1290th day and will last forty-five days. On the 1335th day, the millennium will commence under Jesus’ newly established kingdom. Hence, the angel says that the one who makes it until the 1335th day is blessed. Only believers who “pass” the judgment would then enter into the millennium.
7. Go your way till the end – Daniel had been given spectacular revelations. His mind must have been racing with so many terrifying and awesome thoughts about the future. He was given a simple instruction to go and do what he should do until the end of his life. The revelation, as exciting as it was, did not change what Daniel was supposed to do on a day-to-day basis. He was to serve God faithfully by obeying and continuing to be a positive influence in society.
Application – Studying prophecy is exciting. We should study it and seek to understand it. But neither should we have our heads in the clouds. God calls us to ready ourselves for Christ’s return by living holy lives, obeying His Word, and sharing with others about Him. God gave Daniel a ministry in Babylon. And He has given you a ministry as well. Be faithful to fulfill it every day of your life right up until the last second when your time on earth is up.
8. You shall rest and stand in your allotted place –
One day, after his time on earth was up, Daniel would get to rest. But it wasn’t yet time for him to rest. As long as his breath remained, there was still work for him to do.
Hebrews 4:9-10 – So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.
The same is true for us today. One day we will rest. That rest will be similar to the way God “rested” on the seventh day after He completed creation. It will not be a total absence of work. Rather, our mission on earth will be completed. We will have eternal rest in Him.
Application – Now is not the time for us to rest. We are called to work for the Lord as long as we can (John 9:4). As long as you have breath, your work for the Lord on earth is not done. What is God calling you to do? What still remains unfinished?
At the same time, knowing there is rest for us in the future encourages us to persevere now.
Book In Review Discussion Questions
• Summarize the key theme of Daniel in one sentence.
• What is the most memorable passage for you in our study of Daniel? Why?
• Which principle, verse, or idea has had the biggest impact on your life?
• Going forward, what application do you hope to make based on what you learned in the book of Daniel?
Leave a Comment – What are your thoughts on this Daniel 12 Bible study? We would love to hear from you in the comment section below.
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