Daniel 12:1-4

Wait! We must also consider Daniel 12:1-4 (WEB).  Does this Scripture speak about the eternal damnation of unbelieving mankind?

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.

It would seem that there could be no other conclusion.  Part of mankind is saved and the remainder is not.  Period.  Yet, the meanings of the underlined words above may help us more clearly understand and apply Daniel 12:1-4 and what it teaches about the extent of Christ's salvation.

Your people

The Hebrews words "ben `am" are translated "your people."  A literal translation would be "the sons of your people" or perhaps more briefly "sons of mankind."  The natural question is who is this group of people?  Possibilities include all mankind, believing mankind only, National Israel generally, every individual Israelite particularly, or believing Israel only.  Other Old Testament usage of "'am" includes both all mankind and particular people such as the nation of Israel.  We also notice that the archangel Michael protects these people, whoever they are.  We know from the New Testament in Hebrews 1:14 that angels care for the redeemed and in Matthew 18:10 that children have guardian angels.  So it seems clear that "your people" means the redeemed people of God.  However, this phrase alone does not clearly indicate the extent of those elected to eternal life within mankind -- whether PART or ALL.  We need to look at the larger context.

Your people

The second occurrence of "your people" in the English translation above is really the abbreviated "'am" in Hebrew.  The Hebrew "ben" is omitted, but implied as the messenger from God in Daniel's vision is still talking about the same people group.  The messenger says that "your people" will be delivered.  So we can take heart that the protection of God through Michael, his powerful agent, is effective.  Yet we still look for clarity in the passage about the specific number of these people.

Everyone who is found written in the book

Does this phrase clarify or qualify who is meant by "your people?"  We have already said that "your people" are those effectively protected by God, so this phrase is not qualifying, but further clarifying that protection is guaranteed for ALL "your people."  It would be impossible that ALL "your people" were protected, but then only PART were listed in his book.  God is telling us that ALL of "your people" are secured with each one's name specifically penned in his book.  This is a great encouragement to believers.

Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth

This phrase is most commonly, and perhaps most easily, understood to mean deceased humanity.  Old Testament patriarchs would speak about "resting with their fathers" and the New Testament speaks about those who "sleep" meaning those who have physically died.  However, are these multitudes deceased humans only, or are imprisoned fallen angels also included in this group?  This is a critical question.  We know from 2 Peter 2:4 that the crime of some fallen angels has warranted their early imprisonment, while others remain at large.  So it is at least possible that the "multitudes" here refers to a mixed group of people, including both humans and fallen angels.  I admit it seems odd to speak of angels, who are spirit beings, as sleeping in the dust for they do not have bodies that turn to dust as do humans.  Or do some angels have bodies?  I have pointed out in my article, Ten Theological Absurdities, that one day fallen angels will be embodied.  So perhaps it is not so odd that demons will also awake from the dust.  Also some theologians are certain that the demons currently imprisoned in Tartarus are the angels that fell into sexual sin with mankind in Genesis 6.  Because of this great sin they were specially punished immediately in Tartarus, as explained in 2 Peter 2.  If this is true, then these fallen angels do have bodies; it would be impossible to have sex without a body!

Will awake

Whoever the "multitudes" are we see that they "will awake."  When is the timing of this event and are the saved and unsaved raised at the same time?  The answer to this question is most important to our understanding of this passage.  The verse seems to indicate that the "Many...will awake" together at a single event in the future.  Some may dispute that, but let's consider that option first.  Events future from Daniel's time include A) the first coming of Christ, B) Christ's coming in judgment upon Jerusalem in 70 A.D., C) the resurrection at Christ's second coming, and D) the Great White Throne Judgment at the commencement of eternity.

The Great White Throne Judgment seems to be the best possible match for this event.  In fact just prior to The Great White Throne Judgment there is the resurrection of the "wicked dead."  Unbelieving mankind, now sufficiently punished for their unbelief, and the imprisoned angels are extracted out of Hades and Thalaasa, respectively, for final judgment as explained in Revelation 20:11-15.  We know that all humans and angels are removed from their prisons because it is specifically noted that Hades is thrown into the Lake of Fire, empty of all beings, whether human or demonic.  Most Christians do not appreciate the significance of this fact as it relates to Christ's final victory in the salvation of ALL mankind.  Instead most understand Revelation 20:11-15 to be only the final sentencing of the wicked dead to the Lake of Fire, presuming the group to be humans only.  However, Daniel 12:1-4 indicates a specific time in the future when "multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt."  The Great White Throne Judgment appears to be synonymous with Daniel 12:1-4 which explains that at that time some are resurrected to eternal life and others to condemnation.  So Daniel 12:1-4, rather than undermining the argument of this book, instead strongly supports the conclusion that some are saved and some are damned at The Great White Throne Judgment.  Contrary to popular salvation theology, we see that grace allows for the salvation of even unbelieving mankind at The Great White Throne Judgment because they are elect.  Yet the Devil and his demons are instead sentenced to the Lake of Fire.

Of course some may argue that the timing of the awakening in Daniel 12:2 is not the same for the saved group and the unsaved group.  They may say that deceased believers are raised first to life earlier and that deceased unbelievers are raised later at The Great White Throne Judgment for condemnation.  This model, however, does not fit well with the Lord's conversation in Matthew 25:31-46 (the Sheep and Goat Judgment), which I also understand to be synonymous with the Great White Throne Judgment.  Daniel 12 and Matthew 25 are clear that the final judgment will have both redeemed and unredeemed people standing before Christ at the same time.

Thus Daniel 12:1-4, Matthew 25:31-46, and Revelation 20:11-15 are all speaking about the same event.

They are each speaking about the final salvation of unbelieving mankind after their extraction from Hades and the condemnation of the Devil and his angels to the Lake of Fire, Matthew 25:41.  You may disagree and say that the saved in Matthew 25 do not include the unbelieving elect, that is human beings extracted from Hades.  Yet doesn't it seem odd that believers who are already reigning with Christ would have to face the Great White Throne Judgment and question their salvation again before the Lord?  Hardly.  The sheep who are incredulous at the Great White Throne Judgment are the unbelieving elect extracted safely from Hades and spared from the Lake of Fire by the grace of God alone.  They are incredulous that God's grace could save them even after a sentence in Hades.  Of course if you are a believer now, then you could never be incredulous about such a thing.  You fully understand how God's grace has saved you apart from any act of your will, solely by his electing grace.  You also should know that if the grace of Christ has saved us now it certainly can save unbelieving mankind then!

So are you incredulous or do you confidently trust in Christ? 

Further note that when Daniel 12:1 says "Michael... protects your people" the emphasis could mean "Michael [the arch angel]... protects your people [mankind]."  Michael says "your people" meaning mankind, in contrast to his people, that is angel-kind.

Some to everlasting life, and
some to shame and everlasting contempt

Some of the multitudes that "will awake" are granted eternal life, while the remainder are sentenced to everlasting contempt as already explained above.

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.

Those with wisdom will lead many to righteousness.  The gospel clarifies that true righteousness is from God, as explained in Romans 1:16-17.  Righteousness cannot be found in man or man's will.  I have argued in this book that both Arminianism and Calvinism fall short of proclaiming this righteousness.  The Arminian claims that his free will choice of Christ makes the difference.  The Calvinist rejects the Arminian claim, but also rejects Christ's atonement for all mankind.

Dear Reader, I pause to ask you which gospel have you received?  Do you believe that Christ died for ALL mankind?  Do you believe that salvation is ALL of grace?  Have you been led to the righteousness that is from God?  Are you shining with the truth?

Seal the book

Why would the messenger in Daniel's vision tell him to "seal up the words?"  Why would God hide the truth?  God has chosen to incrementally reveal his redemptive plan through history for his greater glory.  I have also suggested in my article that the "Hosea Strategy" is a key component of God's ministry to the hardhearted.  Likewise, Mark 4:11-13 explains that Jesus also uses parables for a similar purpose.

The good news is that the fullness of God's love for mankind is no longer hidden, but completely revealed in the person of Jesus Christ.  Do you want rock solid hope for your salvation, as well as good news for all mankind?  It can only be found through faith in Jesus Christ.

This study has proved very fruitful for me and I trust for you as well.