QUESTION>> Your thought is that Daniel 12:1-4 is the final judgment?
ME>> Yes, I have proposed that Matthew 25:31-46, Daniel 12:1-4, and Revelation 20:11-15 are all the same event, the final Great White Throne judgment. I have already made a case for this in my articles Daniel 12:1-4 and Yes, but Even Harder Questions!
Yet Bill Saxton's book Daniel's Prophecies of Covenant Change makes a strong case that the King of North in Daniel 11 is Herod the Great which places elements of Daniel 12 into the first century rather than into the future as I have proposed. Also the prophesied history of the Kings of the North and the South in Daniel 11 do not seem expansive enough to cover the entire history from Daniel's day to our future. My initial review of Saxton's thoughts can be found in my article, Daniel 12:1-4, Further Reflection.
Bible commentators and even Bible translators are divided on their understanding of many of Daniel's prophecies, especially Daniel 12. Saxton leans far toward a Preterist interpretation of Daniel arguing that most if not all of Daniel's prophecies address the First Advent of Christ and the change from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. However, Saxton does stop short of Full Preterism holding that the Bible does prophecy the final return of Christ yet in our future.
The challenge in understanding Daniel 12 is assigning the timing to these events. As mentioned, Saxton makes a good case that Daniel's earlier prophecies primarily address events leading up to the time of Christ and the change from the Old to the New Covenant. Daniel 12:1 then begins, "At that time" making a strong chronological connection between Daniel 11, speaking about Herod the Great, and Daniel 12.
1) "At that time Michael will stand up, the great prince who stands for the children of your people; and there will be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time. At that time your people will be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book. 2) Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3) Those who are wise will shine as the brightness of the expanse. Those who turn many to righteousness will shine as the stars forever and ever. 4) But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end. Many will run back and forth, and knowledge will be increased." 5) Then I, Daniel, looked, and behold, two others stood, one on the river bank on this side, and the other on the river bank on that side. 6) One said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, "How long will it be to the end of these wonders?" 7) I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand to heaven, and swore by him who lives forever that it will be for a time, times, and a half; and when they have finished breaking in pieces the power of the holy people, all these things will be finished. 8) I heard, but I didn’t understand. Then I said, "My lord, what will be the outcome of these things?" 9) He said, "Go your way, Daniel; for the words are shut up and sealed until the time of the end. 10) Many will purify themselves, and make themselves white, and be refined; but the wicked will do wickedly; and none of the wicked will understand; but those who are wise will understand. 11) "From the time that the continual burnt offering is taken away, and the abomination that makes desolate set up, there will be one thousand two hundred ninety days. 12) Blessed is he who waits, and comes to the one thousand three hundred thirty-five days. 13) "But go your way until the end; for you will rest, and will stand in your inheritance at the end of the days."
Daniel 12:1-13 (WEB)
However, as we read Daniel 12 we see that there are elements that also seem to point beyond Christ's First Advent to the final Great White Throne judgment, still in our history future. Daniel 12:1 mentions a destiny determining "book" which parallels the Lamb's Book of Life in Revelation 20:15. Daniel 12:2 is most easily understood to reference the resurrection of the deceased paralleled in Matthew 25:32, 1 Corinthians 15:12-58, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, and Revelation 20:11-15. Daniel 12:4 mentions the "time of the end," but is this the end of the Old Covenant at Christ's First Advent or the end of this present world at Christ's Second Advent? Daniel 12:8 with Daniel's lack of understanding also parallels Matthew 24:15 and the exhortation to understand.
The Amplified Bible also inserts commentary into Daniel 12:1 saying, "Now at that [end] time" raising another question. Have we properly understood and translated the chronology of Daniel Chapter 12? Does the initial Hebrew phrase in Daniel 12:1 connect back to the previous subject in Chapter 11 or forward to a new subject? Perhaps the chronological connection between Daniel 11 and 12 is not immediate.
The Full Preterist interpreter tries to connect the fulfillment of all Biblical prophecy to the First Advent of Christ. They see Matthew 25:31-46, Daniel 12:1-4, and Revelation 20:11-15 as events completely fulfilled during the change from the Old to the New Covenant with no unfulfilled prophecy of Christ's future return remaining. They believe Christ's judgment on Jerusalem in 70 A.D. is the fulfillment of his prophesied coming. The Dispensational Pre-Millennial interpreter instead tries to connect the fulfillment of most Biblical prophecy to the Second Advent of Christ.
Saxton, though proposing a first century fulfillment of many prophecies, makes this conclusion about Daniel 12:1, "The context of this deliverance suggests it may be twofold: After the Romans crushed the Jewish revolt, the Jewish leaders were no longer in a position to actively persecute those Jews who had trusted in Jesus as the Messiah. Beyond this deliverance, however, is envisioned the greater ultimate deliverance to eternal life of both Jewish and Gentile Christians," Daniel's Prophecies of Covenant Change, page 67.
The majority of Bible interpreters would agree that there are prophetic Scriptures with twofold applications or where both current and future events are interleaved in the same message. This seems to be the case in Daniel 12, Matthew 24-25, and other passages. For another example, Jesus says in John 14:3 (WEB), "If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and will receive you to myself; that where I am, you may be there also." So is Jesus speaking about his coming to us individually at our deaths, or corporately at his Second Advent? Perhaps both are true. Hopefully we do not get in an argument about this good news! So our challenge remains maintaining positive fellowship even when we draw the lines in different places on matters that we do not fully understand. Our questions to the Lord are limited to what we can envision, because we never come close to seeing God's whole picture. However, when Jesus answers, his words help our immediate outlook, but also point us to the consummation of hope, well beyond our vision. God sees the end from the beginning.
So after further reflection I still understand Matthew 25:31-46, Daniel 12:1-4, and Revelation 20:11-15 to point to the same event, the final judgment of God's creation. However, even if you or I are wrong, we can rest assured because Jesus is in charge.