These chapters which end the book of Daniel are a prophecy speculator’s delight, especially chapter 12. Chapters 10 and 11 describe the warring kingdoms that will come in the next several hundred years after Daniel, but chapter 12 is a vision of far off into the future.
Daniel starts chapter 10 with an amazing vision of a man that is almost impossible for him to describe. He was with a group of men, but he was the only one who saw it, and however he was acting it freaked them out and they fled and hid themselves. The man tells Daniel something that all Christians should take to heart:
Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words.
To set our hearts means we have a passion, a hunger, a yearning for understanding, which can only be had through a pursuit of knowledge and prayer. We know Daniel knew his Scripture, and I bet he was familiar with Proverbs. The first nine chapters are a long exhortation to pursue wisdom and knowledge above all else. An example from chapter 3:
13 Blessed are those who find wisdom,
those who gain understanding,
14 for she is more profitable than silver
and yields better returns than gold.
15 She is more precious than rubies;
nothing you desire can compare with her.
16 Long life is in her right hand;
in her left hand are riches and honor.
17 Her ways are pleasant ways,
and all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her;
those who hold her fast will be blessed.
Then Daniel gets a further peak into an angelic world where Michael, who we know is an archangel, is referred to, and princes of Persia and Greece can detain angels like the one talking to Daniel, and so must themselves be angels. He says of Michael, that he is Daniel’s prince. There is a spiritual reality that we can’t see and of which we have no idea, simpletons that we are. In fact most of us live most of the time as practical materialists, as if the material were all that is. It isn’t.
Chapter 11 is a long recitation of wars to come, which everyone seems to agree eventually ends up with Antiochus Epiphanes, who was also referred to in an earlier vision of Daniel’s. He was not a good man, and many Jews suffered as a result.
Finally chapter 12 gets into future events that very few agree on exactly what they mean. We learn that Michael is the “great prince” of Daniel’s people, and he will “arise.” We’re never told what that means. We assume it has to do with a “great distress” never before seen in the history of the world that is to come. Then we read of a general resurrection of the dead followed by judgment:
2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 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.
I’m pretty sure this is the first reference to a resurrection of the dead in Scripture, and an unequivocal affirmation of eternal life and eternal death. No annihilationism or universalism here.
The book ends with the angel giving Daniel some time frames as to when this will all happen. He mentions “the abomination that causes desolation,” which the dispensationalist pre-mills think refers to a literal Antichrist. Who knows, and really, who cares. We know how it all ends:
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.