Daniel's description of earth's final moments is a striking one. The standing up of Michael in heaven results in a terrible outbreak of trouble upon the earth. Scenes will take place such as have never been witnessed before by human beings. Those who are alive at that time will witness the death pangs of a planet. In connection with this end-time prophecy several time periods are mentioned, which have generated much interest and a great deal of speculation, The pioneers of the Advent movement viewed these time periods as having all been already fulfilled. However there is strong opinion among some today, that at least some of these time periods still lie in the future. One thing is certain, God intends that in this "time of the end," the "wise shall understand." (Dan. 12:10)
Part 1: Knowledge Increased
But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased. (Dan 12:4)
"The prophet of God declares that in the last days knowledge shall be increased. There are new truths to be revealed to the humble seeker. The teachings of God's word are to be freed from the errors and superstition with which they have been encumbered. Doctrines that are not sanctioned by the Scriptures have been widely taught, and many have honestly accepted them; but when the truth is revealed, it becomes the duty of every one to accept it. Those who allow worldly interests, desire for popularity, or pride of opinion, to separate them from the truth, must render an account to God for their neglect." _ Spirit of Prophecy, Vol. 4, p. 186
What symbolism did God use to show John that there would be earnest study of the book of Daniel in the end-time? Rev. 10: 8-11
The description of the angel here, and the words which he speaks are very similar to the description and the words of the angel in Daniel 12. In Daniel chapter 12 we are told that the book was to be shut up and sealed. Here in Revelation we find a "little" book being opened. There is a strong suggestion that both prophecies are referring to the same book, which is the book of Daniel. There is only one way in which we may understand the symbolism of the little book being eaten. This indicates that the book would be studied with great earnestness. We should notice that the study of this book of Daniel would lead those who studied it to an experience which was first, "sweet in the mouth," but afterwards "bitter" in the belly. This is a good description of the experience of the early Advent believers who, after studying the prophecies of Daniel came to believe that Jesus would return in the year 1844. However, when the time passed they came to a proper understanding of the prophecy and suffered a great disappointment which was a bitter blow to them.
What should be our attitude as we study the prophecies of the Bible and especially those which apply to the last days? Prov. 2: 3-5
"As we near the close of this world's history, the prophecies recorded by Daniel demand our special attention, as they relate to the very time in which we are living. With them should be linked the teachings of the last book of the New Testament Scriptures. . . . "The wise shall understand" (verse 10), was spoken of the visions of Daniel that were to be unsealed in the latter days; and of the revelation that Christ gave to His servant John for the guidance of God's people all through the centuries, the promise is, "Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein." _ Prophets and Kings, p. 547
Part 2: Christ's ministration ceases
And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. (Dan 12:1)
"In the time of trouble we all fled from the cities and villages, but were pursued by the wicked, who entered the houses of the saints with a sword. They raised the sword to kill us, but it broke, and fell as powerless as a straw. Then we all cried day and night for deliverance, and the cry came up before God. The sun came up, and the moon stood still. The streams ceased to flow. Dark, heavy clouds came up and clashed against each other. But there was one clear place of settled glory, whence came the voice of God like many waters, which shook the heavens and the earth. The sky opened and shut and was in commotion. The mountains shook like a reed in the wind, and cast out ragged rocks all around. The sea boiled like a pot and cast out stones upon the land. . . . God spoke the day and the hour of Jesus' coming and delivered the everlasting covenant to His people. . . ." _ Early Writings, p. 34
How was the end of Christ's ministration symbolized in the book of Revelation? Rev. 8: 3-5
". . . . that we are here carried forward to the end, is evident from the act of the angel in filling the censer with fire and casting it unto the earth; for his work is then done; no more prayers are to be offered up mingled with incense; and this symbolic act can have its application only at the time when the ministration of Christ in the sanctuary in behalf of mankind has forever ceased. And following the angel's act are voices, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake - exactly such occurrences as we are elsewhere informed transpire at the close of human probation." _ Uriah Smith, Daniel & The Revelation, p. 477
What will be the spiritual destiny of all human beings when Michael stands up? Rev. 22: 11
"Our own course of action will determine whether we shall receive the seal of the living God, or be cut down by the destroying weapons. Already a few drops of God's wrath have fallen upon the earth; but when the seven last plagues shall be poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation, then it will be forever too late to repent, and find shelter. No atoning blood will then wash away the stains of sin. . . . When this time of trouble comes, every case is decided; there is no longer probation, no longer mercy for the impenitent. The seal of the living God is upon His people." _ Christian Experience & Teachings of Ellen G. White, p. 187
Part 3: Universal Strife
For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. (Mat 24:21)
"When he (Jesus) leaves the sanctuary, darkness covers the inhabitants of the earth. In that fearful time the righteous must live in the sight of a holy God without an intercessor. The restraint which has been upon the wicked is removed, and Satan has entire control of the finally impenitent. God's long-suffering has ended. The world has rejected his mercy, despised his love, and trampled upon his law. The wicked have passed the boundary of their probation; the Spirit of God, persistently resisted, has been at last withdrawn. Unsheltered by divine grace, they have no protection from the wicked one. Satan will then plunge the inhabitants of the earth into one great, final trouble. As the angels of God cease to hold in check the fierce winds of human passion, all the elements of strife will be let loose. The whole world will be involved in ruin more terrible than that which came upon Jerusalem of old." _ The Great Controversy, p. 614
How serious will be the final tribulation as compared to all the conflicts which have occurred during the earth's six thousand year history? Dan. 12:1
"These plagues are not universal, or the inhabitants of the earth would be wholly cut off. Yet they will be the most awful scourges that have ever been known to mortals. All the judgments upon men, prior to the close of probation, have been mingled with mercy. The pleading blood of Christ has shielded the sinner from receiving the full measure of his guilt; but in the final Judgment, wrath is poured out unmixed with mercy." _ The Great Controversy, p. 629
Defenceless and poor, how will God's faithful people be able to endure the trials of that last great conflict? Matt. 24:22; Ps. 46:1-3; Ps. 91:1-4
"The great general conflagration is but just ahead, when all this wasted labor of life will be swept away in a night and day.
There will be . . . great destruction of human life. But as in the days of the great deluge Noah was preserved in the ark that God had prepared for him, so in these days of destruction and calamity, God will be the refuge of His believing ones. Through the psalmist He declares, "Because thou has made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling." "For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion. . . ." Then shall we not make the Lord our surety and our defense?" _ Maranatha, p. 283
Part 4: God's People Delivered
And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the LORD; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation. (Isa 25:9)
"Soon appeared the great white cloud, upon which sat the Son of man. When it first appeared in the distance, this cloud looked very small. The angel said that it was the sign of the Son of man. As it drew nearer the earth, we could behold the excellent glory and majesty of Jesus as He rode forth to conquer. A retinue of holy angels, with bright, glittering crowns upon their heads, escorted Him on His way. No language can describe the glory of the scene. The living cloud of majesty and unsurpassed glory came still nearer, and we could clearly behold the lovely person of Jesus. He did not wear a crown of thorns, but a crown of glory rested upon His holy brow. Upon His vesture and thigh was a name written, King of kings, and Lord of lords. His countenance was as bright as the noonday sun, His eyes were as a flame of fire, and His feet had the appearance of fine brass. His voice sounded like many musical instruments. The earth trembled before Him, the heavens departed as a scroll when it is rolled together, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. . . . " _ Early Writings, p. 286
How does the prophet Jeremiah describe the dilemma of God's people at the time of their deliverance? Jer. 30:6-8
"As Jacob was threatened with death by his angry brother, so the people of God will be in peril from the wicked who are seeking to destroy them. And as the patriarch wrestled all night for deliverance from the hand of Esau, so the righteous will cry to God day and night for deliverance from the enemies that surround them. . . .
. . . . God will test their faith, their perseverance, their confidence in His power to deliver them. Satan will endeavor to terrify them with the thought that their cases are hopeless; that their sins have been too great to receive pardon. They will have a deep sense of their shortcomings, and as they review their lives their hopes will sink. But remembering the greatness of God's mercy, and their own sincere repentance, they will plead His promises made through Christ to helpless, repenting sinners. Their faith will not fail because their prayers are not immediately answered. They will lay hold of the strength of God, as Jacob laid hold of the Angel, and the language of their souls will be, "I will not let thee go, except thou bless me." _ Conflict & Courage, p. 68
How many of God's people will be ready for translation at the time when God delivers His people? Rom. 9:27; Rev. 7:4; Rev. 14:3,4
"This small remnant, unable to defend themselves in the deadly conflict with the powers of earth that are marshaled by the dragon host, make God their defense." _ Testimonies Vol. 5, p. 213
Part 5: Victors From the Dust
And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. (Dan 12:2)
"Graves are opened, and "many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth . . . awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt." Dan. 12:2. All who have died in the faith of the third angel's message come forth from the tomb glorified, to hear God's covenant of peace with those who have kept His law.
Those who had died in faith under the third angel's message, keeping the Sabbath, came forth from their dusty beds.
"They also which pierced him" (Rev. 1:7), those that mocked and derided Christ's dying agonies, and the most violent opposers of His truth and His people, are raised to behold Him in His glory, and to see the honor placed upon the loyal and obedient. . . ." _ The Faith I Live By, p. 182
What triumphant words of Job may each Christian claim as a promise, even when faced by the prospect of death? Job 19:25-27
The coming of the Lord has been in all ages the hope of his true followers. The Saviour's parting promise upon Olivet, that he would come again, lighted up the future for his disciples, filling their hearts with joy and hope, that sorrow could not quench, nor trials dim. Amid suffering and persecution, "the appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ" was the "blessed hope." When the Thessalonian Christians were filled with grief as they buried their loved ones, who had hoped to live to witness the coming of the Lord, Paul, their teacher, pointed them to the resurrection, to take place at the Saviour's advent. Then the dead in Christ should rise, and together with the living be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. "And so," he said, "shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words." _ Great Controversy, p. 302
What great enemy will the delivered and resurrected ones never need to fear anymore? 1 Cor. 15:26; Rev. 20:14
"In the home of the redeemed there will be no tears, no funeral trains, no badges of mourning, "The inhabitant shall not say, I am sick: the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity." Isaiah 33:24. One rich tide of happiness will flow and deepen as eternity rolls on. . . .
We are homeward bound. He who loved us so much as to die for us hath builded for us a city. The New Jerusalem is our place of rest. There will be no sadness in the city of God. No wail of sorrow, no dirge of crushed hopes and buried affections, will evermore be heard. Soon the garments of heaviness will be changed for the wedding garment. Soon we shall witness the coronation of our King." _ Maranatha, p. 352
Part 6: The Blessed who wait
Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days. (Dan 12:12)
In the final verses of the book of Daniel two time periods are mentioned in connection with the "time, times and a half," which have caused a great deal of discussion and controversy among Seventh-day Adventist Bible students over the years. these periods are the 1290 days and the 1335 days. The Seventh-day Adventist pioneers believed that the 1290 days were fulfilled in 1798. They see this period as beginning in 508 A.D. when the last of the 10 pagan kings was "converted" to Christianity. They saw this as the taking away of the "daily," (which they believed to be paganism). From this time to 1798 when the Pope was taken captive was 1290 years. 45 years after 1798 (or 1335 years after 508 A.D.) takes us to the year 1843 which was the year originally chosen by William Miller and his followers as the end-point of the 2300 days. The pioneers believed that those who came to this time received a special blessing from God, because they were privileged to understand the truth of the cleansing of the Sanctuary and to be a part of the final movement of God on the earth.
According to Michael, the great Prince, how long would it be until the end of "these wonders?" Daniel 12:7
What wonders was the angel referring to in his question to Michael? This is a key question. Michael states that these wonders would come to an end after a "time, times and a half." At that time the "power of the holy people" would be scattered and then "all these things" would be finished. There are some who believe that these time periods of Daniel chapter 12 have a future fulfillment. They point to the fact that the "power of the holy people" has not yet been scattered (which seems to suggest a time when the work of God's people will be ineffective, such as the close of probation). This is a good point and needs to be considered. However, in examining these ideas we also need to consider the counsel of Ellen White that "the people of God will not have another message upon definite time. After this period of time, reaching from 1842 to 1844 there can be no more definite tracing of the prophetic time." (7 BC - 971)
What final answer did Daniel receive in reply to his question concerning the event which would mark the "end of these things?" Dan. 12:8-13
No one can doubt that we are now living in the time of the end. In fact, the Advent pioneers believed that the time of the end began in 1798. While we cannot say that we have a 100% understanding of every part of the prophecies of Daniel, yet a great deal of light has been shed on the book. As we study we should keep seeking the Lord for guidance that He might give us understanding of those portions which are still not fully understood.