Online Bible Commentary
Everlasting Life and Everlasting Contempt
Daniel 12:1 "At that time Michael shall stand up, The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; And there shall be a time of trouble, Such as never was since there was a nation, Even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, Every one who is found written in the book. 2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever. 4 "But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase." (NKJV)
The time is 536 B.C. Daniel is about 84 years old. In this passage Daniel is treated to yet another vision from the Lord. At the time of this vision Daniel is on the bank of the Tigris River, not far from his home in Babylon.
Some commentators believe that the “man” in the vision is an angel. Others, including myself, believe that the vision is that of a preincarnate visit from Jesus. The description of the “man” in the vision in 10:5-6 appears to match the description of Jesus in Revelation 1:13-16. The overwhelming power exhibited by the presence of the “man” (10:7-11) seems to exceed the presence exhibited by visits of angels. Also, the description given in 12:6-8 seems to point to Jesus as the “man”. Either way, since angels are messengers from God and Jesus is God, this vision is from God.
Daniel’s vision has foretold events in the history of Israel from 539 B.C. through the Maccabean revolt of 164 B.C. and the institution of Hanukkah. Now Jesus has skipped over thousands of years to complete the vision with a description of the end times. In this vision, Jesus is foretelling of the end time events as they pertain to the Jewish people.
The phrase “At that time” (v. 1a) refers to the end times, the time leading up to the seven year tribulation and the time afterwards when the Messianic kingdom of Jesus is established. The archangel Michael, the protector of the Jewish people, will come to their defense at a time when persecution of the Jews is greater than it had ever been previously (v. 1b). Persecution will be greatest during the second half of the seven year tribulation.
At that time, those Jewish Christians whose names appear in the Book of Life will “be delivered” from persecution (v. 1c). Next, “many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth” will “awake” (v. 2a). Some, the Jewish Christians, will be raised to enjoy the Millennium, the thousand year reign of Christ, and their “everlasting life” afterwards in Heaven. The non-Christians will be raised at the end of the Millennium to suffer “shame and everlasting contempt” in Hell (v. 2b).
This is a reference to our bodies being raised to join our spirits. Our spirits go immediately to Heaven to be with God if we die as Christians. If we die as a non-Christian our spirits go immediately to a place of suffering, Hell.
“Those who are wise”, the Christian Jews, will be glorified (v. 3a). Those who have led others to Christ will shine even brighter, like “stars” in the sky (v. 3b). This is a reference to the fact that good works bring rewards in Heaven.
Next, Jesus commands Daniel to “shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end” (v. 4a). This is a command to preserve this vision. Daniel obeyed the Lord by writing down the vision and the Lord preserved it, along with the other books of the Bible, for thousands of years.
Jesus explains that “many shall run to and fro”, meaning that many will study and debate the words of Daniel (v. 4a). Jesus completes this passage by foretelling that “knowledge shall increase”, meaning that additional scripture, found both in the Old and New Testaments, will lead to a better understanding of the end times (v. 4b).
Jesus said there is “everlasting life” and “everlasting contempt” (v. 2). Heaven is real, and so is Hell. Those who deny this do so at their own peril. The wise person believes in Jesus as their Lord and Savior and becomes a Christian. He enjoys eternity in Heaven. The fool does not believe and does not become a Christian. He suffers eternity in Hell.
If you become a Christian and there is nothing after death, you have not lost anything. In fact, you have lived a life on earth that is more satisfying and probably longer. If you do not become a Christian and there is life after death, you have lost everything. The choice is yours.