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DANIEL 12, TRIBULATION, AND RESURRECTION

Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. —  March 30, 2012 — 13 Comments

In Daniel 12:1–2 we find a passage that clearly speaks of the great tribulation in AD 70: “Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued” (12:1). But it also seems to speak of the resurrection occurring at that time: “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt” (12:2).

How are we to understand this passage? Does Daniel teach that the eschatological, consummate resurrection occurs during the great tribu-lation in AD 70? No, he does not. Let me explain.

Daniel appears to be presenting Israel as a grave site under God’s curse: Israel as a corporate body is in the “dust” (Da 12:2; cp. Ge 3:14, 19). In this he follows Ezekiel’s pattern in his vision of the dry bones, which represent Israel’s “death” in the Babylonian dispersion (Eze 37).

First, in Daniel’s prophecy many will awaken, as it were, during the great tribulation to suffer the full fury of the divine wrath, while others will enjoy God’s grace in receiving everlasting life. Luke presents similar imagery in Luke 2:34 in a prophecy about the results of Jesus’s birth for Israel: “And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, ‘Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed.’”

Christ himself points out that some from Israel will believe and be saved, while others will not (e.g., Mt 10:34–36; 13:11–15), that in the removing of the kingdom from Israel many will be crushed and scattered like dust (Mt 21:43–45). He even speaks of the saved Jews as arising from the “shadow of death” (Mt 4:16). Though in AD 70 elect Jews will flee Israel and will live (Mt 24:22), the rest of the nation will be a corpse: “wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather” (Mt 24:28). Indeed, in AD 70 we see in the destruction of the city of Jerusalem (Mt 22:7) that “many are called, but few are chosen” (Mt 22:14).

Second, elsewhere he employs the imagery of “regeneration” to the arising of the new Israel from out of dead, old covenant Israel in AD 70: “You who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Mt 19:28).

This paralleling of divine blessing and divine curse, of life and death (cf. Ro 11:15) for those in Israel is a frequent theme (under varied images) in the Book of Revelation

Third, God’s angels protect some Jews from the winds of judgment, while not protecting others (Rev 7:1–9). John measures some Jews for safe-keeping in the temple, while not measuring others (11:1–2). Some stand high upon Mt. Zion in safety (Rev 14:1–5), while others do not (Rev 14:17–20).

Returning now to Daniel, it appears that Daniel is drawing from the hope of the future, literal resurrection and applying it symbolically to the first century leading up to the tribulation in AD 70. That is, he is portraying God’s separating believing Jews out of Israel through the winnowing of Israel in AD 70. Again, this is much like Ezekiel’s practice in his vision of the valley of dry bones.

Fourth, though Ezekiel’s prophecy is concerned with Israel as a whole, whereas Daniel shows that Israel’s hope is the believing remnant.

In Daniel 12:4 the prophet hears a command to seal up his message until Israel’s end, thus delaying its prophesied actions. In Revelation 22:10 John receives a command precisely the opposite of Daniel’s, resulting in Revelation as a whole being opened and thereby fulfilled shortly: “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near” (Rev 22:10; cp. 1:1, 3; 22:6).

Then Daniel sees in 12:5–7 an image that forms the pattern of John’s vision in Revelation 10:5. A man (angel) standing above the waters uttering an oath to the eternal God. He promises that the events of Israel’s end will be finished, transpiring within a period of “a time, times, and half a time.” This apparently signifies a period of one year, two years, and half a year, which is John’s three and one-half years or forty-two months (Rev 11:2; cp. Rev 12:14).

In Da 12:8 the prophet expresses confusion about the outcome of his prophecy. He knows neither when (Da 12:6) nor how (Da 12:8) these prophecies will come to pass. But according to Revelation 10:6–7, John is informed both when and how they will transpire — since he lives in the end time period (which begins with the incarnation of Christ, Ac 2:16–17, 24; 1Co 10:11; 2Ti 3:1; Heb 1:1–2; 9:26; 1Jn 2:18; 1Pe 1:20).

So the resurrection in Daniel 12 does not support the hyper-preterist approach because it does not associate the consummate resurrection with the AD 70 tribulation. Daniel only picks up on resurrection imagery and, like Ezekiel, applies that to corporate Israel. He is teaching that in the events of AD 70, the true Israel will arise from old Israel’s carcass, as in a resurrection.

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Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

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Ken is a Presbyterian pastor and the author or co-author of over thirty books, most on eschatology. He has been married since 1971, and has three children and several grandchildren. He is a graduate of Tennessee Temple University (B.A., 1973), Reformed Theological Seminary (M.Div., 1977), and Whitefield Theological Seminary (Th.M., 1986; Th.D., 1988). He currently pastors Living Hope Presbyterian Church (affiliated with the RPCGA) in Greer, SC. Much of his writing is in the field of eschatology, including his 600 page book, He Shall Have Dominion: A Postmillennial Eschatology and his 400 page, Before Jerusalem Fell: Dating the Book of Revelation (his Th.D. dissertation). He contributed chapters to two Zondervan CounterPoints books on eschatological issues: Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond (edited by Darrell L. Bock) and Four Views on the Book of Revelation (edited by C. Marvin Pate). He also debated Thomas D. Ice in Kregel's The Great Tribulation: Past or Future? His books have been published by American Vision, Baker, Zondervan, Kregel, P & R, Greenhaven Press, Nordskog, Wipf & Stock, and several other publishers. He has published scores of articles in such publications as Tabletalk, Westminster Theological Journal, Evangelical Theological Society Journal, Banner of Truth, Christianity Today, Antithesis, Contra Mundum, and others. He has spoken at over 100 conferences in America, the Caribbean, and Australia. He is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and a Church Council Committee member of Coalition on Revival.

13 responses to DANIEL 12, TRIBULATION, AND RESURRECTION

  1. Thank you that will do, God bless you .

  2. Hi Dr. Gentry,

    I too agree that it does not employ the “consummate resurrection” in 70 CE, and that Matthew 27:52-53 (cf Hosea 6:2-3 and Isa 26:19) uses the same imagery as a physical sign of not only its definitive proximity to the Christ event (in raised up – ἀναστήσεται , not 70 CE, and the nature of it. Nothing since then has occurred like Matthew 27 (as confirmed in texts like The Gospel of Nicodemus, Vol 8, Chapter I and Concerning the King of Edessa, Vol 8, Page 653), or the Christ event. Often folks try to sandwich liturgical application like this one to support theories that have no historical or lexical weight. Thanks for the great article.

  3. Dr. Gentry,

    The “hyper” Preterism I used to formerly endorse, is attempting (and I would have certainly tried to have “caught you” here with a “gotcha”) to show that since you have “changed” your view on Da 12.2 (and on your view of ‘mello’ in an earlier article), then you must be on the run. Typical tactic.

    Thus, please allow me to sum up the argument. First, since Acts 24 uses “just and unjust” and “mello” – then Acts 24 MUST be referring to Da 12.2 (first stated premise). Why? Because Da 12.2 uses “just and unjust” – suppoedly the ONLY place where a resurrection of ‘just and unjust’ theme is used. Conclusion: Acts 24 must be referring to the “near” (mello) resurrection of Rev 20.11-15 (as well as Da 12.2); and this can be the ONLY resurrection fulfillment in the ENTIRE OT and NT. That’s the Hyper Preterist argument.

    Second: our methodology is to show how the majority of scholars, past and present, and in your case, Reformed, take Da 12.2 as the “general” resurrection. Somehow, this is “proof” that you are wrong.

    Third, since timing controls virtually every facet of Hyper Preterist interpretation, they cannot allow for any other precident setting matter to contol the NATURE of resurrection. The NT simply is read as repeating (not EXPANDING, not UNVEILING, not ELABORATING) the OT. So, when we quote Paul as saying, “I preach NOTHING other than the Law and the Prophets”, this is taken to mean, literally, that no-thing in the NT is original. Nada. No thing. No idea. No expansion. No further revelation. We might as well call the NT “MOT”: More Old Testament.

    These are just some of the ideas we used…..

  4. An additional gem gleaned from this is understanding that “many are called, but few are chosen” (Mt 22:14) in a preterist context; very helpful against the popular application to all of redemptive history, used by “pessimillennialists”. Thank you!

  5. Well friends I am not the smarties Presbyterian here but I thought it was a good article. And I was a hyper preterist to and God save me out of that mess with works like Gentrys , Mathisons , .

  6. Darrel,

    Thant is great to hear. Dr. Gentry has great work for helping those clear up much of the full preterist error they are fed. I owe my walk out from it mostly to Mr. Frost. Praise God for people like Dr. Gentry and Sam Frost. God is great.

  7. A bit off topic. I had the unfortunate displeasure of hearing David Jeremiah today: http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/radio_player.aspx?id=704
    In this sermon he says that postmillennialism was invented by Unitarian Daniel Whitby. Of course, there were several things said that were untrue. Unfortunately, Jeremiah has a large listening audience and I felt that someone out there should know about this and respond to a larger audience. I though this would be a good place since Postmillennialism is the blog’s title. Thanks

    • Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. April 2, 2012 at 6:30

      See my earlier post: “Missing with Whitby.” This is standard dispensational practice. They simply don’t understand what they are saying. Whitby popularized it in his era; he did not create it.

  8. Hello Dr. Gentry,

    Have you ever considered that the 70 Weeks of Daniel were fulfilled in Stephen’s death?
    If you have time, can you briefly critique an article I recently did on Dan 9-12? I understand if you don’t, but thank you for reading it if you are able. Thanks again.

    In Christ and His Church,
    Ken

  9. Daniel 12:1-3 “…thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.2 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.3 And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.”
    Gentry “So the resurrection in Daniel 12 does not support the hyper-preterist approach because it does not associate the consummate resurrection with the AD 70 tribulation. Daniel only picks up on resurrection imagery and, like Ezekiel, applies that to corporate Israel. He is teaching that in the events of AD 70, the true Israel will arise from old Israel’s carcass, as in a resurrection.“

    The fact of the matter is that there is no other resurrection in Daniel 12. Above Sam Frost says and I quote “The NT simply is read as repeating (not EXPANDING, not UNVEILING, not ELABORATING) the OT. So, when we quote Paul as saying, “I preach NOTHING other than the Law and the Prophets”, this is taken to mean, literally, that no-thing in the NT is original. Nada. No thing. No idea. No expansion. No further revelation. We might as well call the NT “MOT”: More Old Testament.” I think I have made my point, my argument is unanswerable from the Preterist point of view.

    It is possible to say that these things were fulfilled to that generation, the firstfruits if you wish. And that now you can simply pick up the Bible anywhere and read it like it is written to your age … just as we can read Revelation 1-3 like it is written to us. Why do we need to tick all these things off on a chronological time line and conclude they are preterist? That is silly. These things are obviously intended to be for our example, and in this it is possible to say that that whatever was preterist in AD 70 for those seven churches is not necessarily preterist for us today. The Preterist system does not work because 1.) It becomes consistent and 2.) in the Bible there is only one eschatology not two.

  10. I see a lot of interesting articles on your blog. You have to spend a lot of time writing. Thanks for your work!

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