Daniel 10:1 In the third year of the Cyrus king of Persia a thing was revealed to Daniel
“The third year of Cyrus’s reign over Babylon places the time of this vision at about 72 years since the Jews were carried away from Jerusalem (536 B.C.). By this time, Daniel was in his 80’s. The first bands of exiled Jews had already left Babylon to return to their homeland, where they began laying the foundations to restore the temple. Daniel did not return with his people to Jerusalem, some argue because of his age. The records show that others had gone who were as old as the prophet and when they arrived, they wept at the site of the ruined city. They wept again when the foundations of the temple were first laid (Ezra 3:12). The prophet stayed in Babylon at his post by commission from the Lord.” (G. Erick Brandt, The Book of Daniel: Writings and Prophecies, 296-297)
Daniel 10:2-3 I Daniel was mourning three full weeks
Instead of fasting for a day or two, Daniel apparently was engaged in a modified fast of self-deprivation to go along with his mourning. This kind of self-imposed austerity is reminiscent of the monks of the middle ages who for an entire lifetime practiced self deprivation as a means to mollify the flesh. Certainly, Daniel’s purpose was the same as a fast, to plead with the Lord, express his sorrow and draw nearer to God. The text never tells us the nature of his emotional turmoil, but if we were to guess based on the answer he received from the angel, he was mourning the sad state of the Lord’s covenant people. Daniel seems tormented by the lack of Jewish independence in order to worship God in the temple as proscribed by the law. Perhaps his sorrow was like that of Jeremiah whose lamentations about the fall of Judah have become scripture.
Daniel 10:4 I was by the side of the great river… Hiddekel
The footnote indicates that Hiddekel is the Tigris River. The Tigris River may not be quite as famous as the Euphrates but it runs a parallel course through modern day Iraq and the city of Bagdad.
Where do prophets receive revelation? Usually, we think of Moses and Sinai or Peter, James, and John on the Mount of Transfiguration. Yet, during the exile in Babylon, the most commonly mentioned geographic location for revelation is a river. Ezekiel was by the River Chebar when “the heavens were open, and I saw the visions of God.” (Ezek. 1:1) Previously, Daniel was by another river when the heavens were opened, “I was by the river of Ulai” (Dan. 8:2). Now, we have Daniel by the River Hiddekel (the Tigris). The Tigris is the same river mentioned in Daniel 12:5-7.
Daniel 10:5 Who was the angel who appeared to Daniel?
If we could answer this question, we would. While it might be tempting to guess that it was the pre-mortal Jehovah, we must reject this suggestion because Jehovah would not need Michael’s help to contend with the prince of Persia (v. 20). Gabriel, or another archangel, subordinate to Michael would be a more likely candidate than the Lord Himself
Daniel 10:6 his face the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass.
We are going to play a game called, “What does this remind you of?” How about Joseph Smith’s description of Moroni or the Master Himself:
“Not only was his robe exceedingly white, but his whole person and his countenance truly like lightning.” (JS-Hist. 1:32)
“His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters” (D&C 110:3)
The difference in this case is that Moroni and Jesus appeared to Joseph Smith as glorified resurrected beings. The angel that appeared to Daniel was in spirit form, but obviously, that form is as glorious as the resurrected version, just not clothed in flesh and bone.
Daniel 10:7 the men that were with me saw not the vision; but a great quaking fell upon them
Let’s play that same game again, “What does this remind you of?” How about Saul’s vision and Alma the Younger?
“the men which journeyed with him (Saul) stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man” (Acts 9:7)
“the angel of the Lord appeared unto them… as it were in a cloud; and he spake as it were with a voice of thunder, which caused the earth to shake upon which they stood; And so great was their astonishment, that they fell to the earth, and understood not the words which he spake unto them.” (Mosiah 27:11-12)
Daniel 10:8 I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me
“Spiritual work can be physically enervating: ‘I am full of the Spirit of God, insomuch that my frame has no strength.’ (1 Ne. 17:47.) ‘I have workings in the spirit, which doth weary me even that all my joints are weak.’ (1 Ne. 19:20.) ‘Ammon . . . was swallowed up in the joy of his God, even to the exhausting of his strength; and he fell again to the earth.’ (Alma 27:17.) ‘I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me. (Dan. 10:8.) ‘And the presence of God withdrew from Moses . . . and Moses was left unto himself. And as he was left unto himself, he fell unto the earth. And it came to pass that it was for the space of many hours before Moses did again receive his natural strength like unto man.’ (Moses 1:9-10.)” (Kent P. Jackson, ed., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 7: 1 Nephi to Alma 29 [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1987], 31, footnote 4)
Daniel 10:11 I stood trembling
Seeing a magnificent angel is a scary experience. The natural response is to be afraid. Mary was afraid at the appearance of the angel Gabriel (Lu. 1:30). Joseph Smith was initially fearful upon seeing Moroni (JS-History 1:32). Oliver Cowdery was afraid at the first site of John the Baptist, at least until John introduced himself as a fellow servant, which “dispelled every fear.” (JS-History 1:71, footnote)
With Daniel we have an even more dramatic response. His first instinct was to hit the dirt in the prone position. The angel then lifted him up to his hands and knees, then he finally made it too his feet but his legs were trembling at first. Real angelic visitations have this physical effect on people.
Daniel 10:12 from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself… thy words were heard
Daniel is a beloved servant; the angel says “greatly beloved.” He had just spent 3 weeks in self-deprivation mode, trying to get an answer to prayer, petitioning the Lord for wisdom and a blessing. The angel says an interesting thing here, “from the first day… thy words were heard.” The implication might be that Daniel’s righteousness was so great that he didn’t need to fast, pray, and mourn for 3 weeks to get the Lord’s attention. The Lord was carefully listening on day one! What about the rest of us?
If I spent 3 weeks in intermittent fasting and prayer, the angel might say, “from the 21st day that thou didst set thine heart to understand and chasten thyself… thy words were heard.” If you are as righteous as Daniel, it is day one, the super righteous, maybe day two or three. What about the rest of us? How quickly does the Lord hear and answer our prayers? The Lord is slow to hear the cries of the wicked, and quick to hear the prayers of the righteous.
Those who keep the Law of the Fast, including caring for the poor, are given the great promise of a quick response, “Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry and he shall say, Here I am.” (Isa. 58:9) That is a first day response by the Lord, an immediate blessing for righteousness. On the other hand, In Isaiah’s day, the Lord was disgusted with the wickedness of the people, “I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.” (Isa. 1:15) In similar fashion, Abinadi warned Noah’s people that there would be a price to pay for their wickedness, “I will be slow to hear their cries… And except they repent in sackcloth and ashes, and cry mightily to the Lord their God, I will not hear their prayers, neither will I deliver them out of their afflictions.” (Mosiah 11:24-25)
The First Presidency
We feel led to say that if there should be sickness or any evil resting upon or threatening the people… by approaching Him in the spirit of humility and union, we can supplicate Him to remove these afflictions or evils… Our past experience has proved to us how willing our Father in Heaven is to hear our cries in the hours of extremity and difficulty, when we approach Him in a proper spirit and with proper faith. He is quick to hear the cries of His people and He has promised to us that if we will draw near unto Him, He will draw near unto us. (Wilford Woodruff, George Q. Cannon, Joseph F. Smith, James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-75), 3: 283.)
Daniel 10:13 Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me
Michael is the Ancient of Days, the archangel of archangels, known as Adam in mortality. He was summoned by the angel whose identity we wish we knew. He was summoned to help fight on behalf of Israel before the princes of Persia. The Persian rule was kind to the Jews. Apparently, that was only because of the hard work put in by this angel and Michael.
“Michael will yet play an important role in the matters of this earth. He will convene another council at Adam-ondi-Ahman just prior to the dreadful day of the Lord. At that time all persons who have served under his direction will give an accounting of their ministry and stewardships. Jesus Christ will come and receive from father Adam (Michael) and all others a final accounting (see D&C 116; Daniel 7:9-14, Dan. 7:21-22, Dan. 7:26-27). Michael will partake of the sacrament with Christ and others (see D&C 27:11). He shall fight the battle of the Saints "at the time of the end" (see Daniel 11:40; Dan. 12:1). He shall sound his trump and the dead shall come forth from their graves.
But, behold, verily I say unto you, before the earth shall pass away, Michael, mine archangel, shall sound his trump, and then shall all the dead awake, for their graves shall be opened, and they shall come forth—yea, even all. ("D&C 29:26D&C 29:26.)
He will lead the armies of heaven against the hosts of hell in the final great battle when Lucifer is cast out eternally.
And so on, until the seventh angel shall sound his trump; and he shall stand forth upon the land and upon the sea, and swear in the name of him who sitteth upon the throne, that there shall be time no longer; and Satan shall be bound, that old serpent, who is called the devil, and shall not be loosed for the space of a thousand years.
And then he shall be loosed for a little season, that he may gather together his armies.
And Michael, the seventh angel, even the archangel, shall gather together his armies, even the hosts of heaven.
And the devil shall gather together his armies; even the hosts of hell, and shall come up to battle against Michael and his armies.
And then cometh the battle of the great God; and the devil and his armies shall be cast away into their own place, that they shall not have power over the Saints any more at all.
For Michael shall fight their battles, and shall overcome him who seeketh the throne of him who sitteth upon the throne, even the Lamb.
This is the glory of God, and the sanctified; and they shall not any more see death. (D&C 88:110-16.)
“Michael the archangel—Father Adam—was one of the most noble characters who ever lived. We have mentioned his angelic functions only. In the flesh he was baptized (Moses 6:64-66), married for eternity, for there was no death at that time (Moses 3:21-25), had the fulness of the gospel (Moses 5:57-59), and endured to the end in righteousness for 930 years. All that he did was ‘under the counsel and direction of the Holy One’ (D&C 78:16). He will finally reign over his righteous posterity in the patriarchal order for all eternity. He will be an angel no longer, not even the chief angel. He will be a god (see Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:90-106; "D&C 132:1D&C 132).” (Oscar W. McConkie, Angels [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1975], 53-54)
Daniel 10:20 Knowest wherefore I come unto thee?
The angel has come “to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days” (v. 14). He continued “for yet the vision is for many days,” or in other words, the vision applies to a time many days hence. Yet, in all of chapter 10, we get nothing. Where’s the vision? Are we to find it in chapter 11? No! The vision continues in chapter 12.
This is a trick to confuse us. Chapter 12 is the continuation of Daniel’s vision of Chapter 10. Apparently, some scribe or friend of Satan inserted chapter 11 right in the middle of the most important vision of Daniel’s ministry! Chapter 11 does not focus on the latter-days but the kingdoms that reign after Daniel’s time, from the Persians to the Greeks to the Romans. Chapter 12 is where we continue this revelation.
Notice how perfectly the last verse of chapter 10 and the first verse of chapter 12 go together:
But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince.
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.
Daniel 10:20 when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come
This refers to the transfer of power from the Persians to the Greeks initiated by the conquests of Alexander the Great. The angel’s role in the politics of this period is fascinating but too brief to make many solid conclusions regarding the particulars of God’s influence upon these events.
If Nebuchadnezzar, or Darius, or Cyrus, or any other king possessed knowledge or power, it was from the same source, as the Scriptures abundantly testify. If, then, God puts up one, and sets down another at His pleasure, and made instruments of kings, unknown to themselves, to fulfill His prophecies, how much more [is] He able, if man would [be] subject to His mandate, to regulate the affairs of this world, and promote peace and happiness among the human family!” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 251)
Chapter 12: The Capstone of Daniel’s Revelations
This final chapter of Daniel’s is the only chapter which does not begin with a statement regarding the king of the empire, usually signifying a particular year of his reign. The reason is that chapter 12 is a continuation of chapter 10. The two should never have been separated. They deal with the same vision, the same angels, the same river, the same subject matter, and the same event. Chapter 11 should never have been placed in the middle.
That said, this chapter has been a Pandora’s box of false doctrine, bad chronologies, and misunderstanding. Fanciful interpretations are easier to sell when the text is difficult. Anybody can concoct a timeline which gives the year of the Lord’s Second Coming. It requires a bit of mathematics and some imaginative accounting, but it can be done. And it has been done, over and over and over again. That is why Joseph Smith warned the early Brethren not to preach of beasts and visions they didn’t understand, “If we get puffed up by thinking that we have much knowledge, we are apt to get a contentious spirit… I refer to the prophets to qualify my observations which I make, so that the young elders who know so much, may not rise up like a flock of hornets and sting me. I want to keep out of such a wasp-nest.” (Teachings, 287-289)
Daniel 12:1 Michael… standeth for the children of thy people
Michael, the archangel, is the guardian angel for the Lord’s people. No wonder he is so prominent in the final scenes of the Lord’s work to gather all things into one and take all things unto Himself. Ever since he left the garden, he has been the greatest authority on the gospel, the highest high priest, and the father of fathers, whose mission and authority were eclipsed by nobody except Jesus Christ Himself. He will gather all the keys of the priesthood at Adam-ondi-Ahman and present them to the Lord. He will be instrumental in casting Satan out to begin the Millennium.
Daniel lived at a time when it seemed nobody cared about the Lord’s people. Living in Persian villages and towns, in close knit communities, practicing a religion that was strange by the world’s standards, the Jews were perhaps the most helpless of people. Daniel knew from scripture, from the Spirit, and from his own heart, that the Lord’s people should be on the top of the heap and not on the bottom. He understood that wickedness and rebellion were to blame but his own behavior had been nothing but righteousness and blamelessness. Where was his solace? It must have brought him some comfort to learn that Michal, the great Archangel of archangels, would come to the rescue of his people, albeit full redemption would have to wait more than 2500 years.
Daniel 12:1 there shall be a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation… at that time thy people shall be delivered
The earth has been desecrated with terrible events, acts of wickedness hard to imagine in our modern world. Times of trouble have been ticking along ever since Man was given agency and temptation. How can we imagine a time of trouble “such as never was since there was a nation”? Hitler killed 6 million. Stalin killed more. And that’s just the last century. Genocide, rape, and pillaging have been part of war for millennia. All of that trouble will pale in comparison to what is coming? It has to get really bad before it can get really good! Scary.
“Wherefore, stand ye in holy places, and be not moved” (D&C 87:8). “For after your testimony cometh the testimony of earthquakes, that shall cause groaning in the midst of her, and… the testimony of the voice of thundering, and the voice of tempests, and the voice of the waves of the sea heaving themselves beyond their bounds. And all things shall be in commotion; and surely, men’s hearts shall fail them; for fear shall come upon all people” (D&C 88:89-91).
"Do you think there is calamity abroad now among the people?" Not much. All we have yet heard and all we have experienced is scarcely a preface to the sermon that is going to be preached. When the testimony of the Elders ceases to be given, and the Lord says to them, "Come home; I will now preach my own sermons to the nations of the earth," all you now know can scarcely be called a preface to the sermon that will be preached with fire and sword, tempests, earthquakes, hail, rain, thunders and lightnings, and fearful destruction. What matters the destruction of a few railway cars? You will hear of magnificent cities, now idolized by the people, sinking in the earth, entombing the inhabitants. The sea will heave itself beyond its bounds, engulphing mighty cities. Famine will spread over the nations, and nation will rise up against nation, kingdom against kingdom, and states against states, in our own country and in foreign lands; and they will destroy each other, caring not for the blood and lives of their neighbours, of their families, or for their own lives. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 8: 123 - 124)
Daniel 12:1-2 many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake
The redemption of Israel comes at the time of the resurrection. The resurrection happens at the Second Coming, so the redemption of Israel does not occur until the Lord comes in power and great glory to fight the battles of Zion in dramatic fashion, and when the saints arise from their graves to meet Him in the air. We think of the resurrection of the just and the resurrection of the unjust (John 5:29) as New Testament doctrine, but it is clearly here before our eyes in Daniel’s capstone chapter. This underscores that redemption and resurrection are inextricably tied. There is no redemption without resurrection, individually or nationally.
Joseph Fielding Smith
In the Old Testament, as well as in the New, the doctrine of the literal resurrection is emphatically declared. Many have tried to spiritualize those scriptures. The Lord taught Ezekiel in vision how the literal resurrection would be brought to pass. "Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves."
Daniel, also, saw the vision of the resurrection and declared: "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." (Doctrines of Salvation, 3 vols., edited by Bruce R. McConkie [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954-1956], 2: 267.)
Bruce R. McConkie
There is nothing more real, more literal, more personal than the resurrection, as Ezekiel then beheld in vision. He saw the dead live again, live literally and personally, each one becoming in physical makeup as he had been in mortality. It was with each of them as it would be with their Lord, when he, having also come forth from his valley of dry bones, stood in the upper room with his disciples, ate before them, and permitted them to handle his physical body. To his people the Lord's voice came: "I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel." (Ezek. 37:1-14.) He who shall do all this, as we are now acutely aware, is the Lord Jesus Christ who is the God of Israel. (The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978], 271)
Daniel 12:3 they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament
The Morning of the First Resurrection is the resurrection of those who will inherit a celestial glory. That glory is beyond what the wicked can endure, “the glory of the celestial is… even as the glory of the sun” (D&C 76:97). When the Messiah comes, His glory will burn up the wicked, but it won’t be just His. Joseph Smith was taught by Moroni that “the day cometh that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly shall burn as stubble; for they that come shall burn them up.” (JS-Hist. 1:37, emphasis added) Some of the heat of that scorching day will come from the wise resurrected to shine as the brightness of the firmament—including apostles, prophets, and saints.
“One of the most important revelations comes from the angel, Gabriel who speaks of ‘the wise’ (Dan. 12:3,10). The faithful among the people of God whose wisdom and preparation enable them to endure the critical final days leading to the Second Coming. Under the protection of Michael, the Archangel, and his hosts, these faithful successfully endure the turbulent latter-day trials and calamities poured out upon the earth. They are purified and prepared to victoriously rise to the challenges and welcome their Savior when he comes.” (G. Erick Brandt, The Book of Daniel: Writings and Prophecies, back cover)
Daniel 12:4 many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased
Sterling W. Sill
Certainly the knowledge explosion of our day furnishes a literal fulfillment of this prophecy before our own eyes. It is interesting to remember that George Washington rode to his inauguration in a chariot drawn by horses, but two thousand years earlier, Julius Caesar had gone to his Roman capital in exactly the same way. Little or no change had taken place in all of that long period. When I was born, the Wright Brothers had not yet made their famous maiden 60-foot flight at Kill Devil Hill. During the first part of our century we had no guided missiles, no space travel, no automobiles, no radios, no television, no movies, and no atomic bombs. And most of the world's work was then still being done by the muscle power of men and animals. However, the ancient prophets have known a great deal about our age of miracles for many centuries. (Conference Report, April 1966, First Day—Morning Meeting 18 - 19)
Bruce R. McConkie
One of the signs of the times is that at "the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased" (Dan. 12:4); that men shall be "Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." (2 Tim. 3:7.) But the saints are expected to specialize in the knowledge of the truth, the knowledge that makes known the mysteries of the kingdom and the wonders of eternity (D. & C. 76:1-10), the knowledge that will rise with them in the resurrection and be of such a nature as to give them advantage in the world to come. (D. & C. 130:18-19.) This kind of knowledge is a result of righteousness and comes by revelation. (Mormon Doctrine, 2d ed. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966], 427)
Daniel 12:4 shut up the words and seal the book
Much like Nephi, Daniel saw the events associated with the end of the world—the apocalypse. Nephi was told, “the things which thou shalt see hereafter thou shalt not write for the Lord God hath ordained the apostle of the Lamb of God that he (John) should write them” (1 Ne. 14:25) Daniel saw it all but was told, “shut up the words and seal the book… for thy words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end,” (Dan. 12:4, 9) insinuating that Daniel wrote the vision but sealed it up. Perhaps it is yet to come forth—probably after the events have occurred.
“The unique feature about John's revelation is that the prophet was commanded not to seal it up. Indeed, John seems to be the only prophet commissioned to publish the vision up to this time. Daniel and Nephi also saw and wrote these things, but, like Jared's brother, they were commanded to seal them up that they might later come forth in their purity (see Dan. 12:4; 1 Ne. 14:25-26).” (Richard D. Draper, Opening the Seven Seals: The Visions of John the Revelator [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 13)
Daniel 12:5 there stood other two, the one on this side of the bank of the river
Understanding that Chapter 10 and Chapter 12 are part of the same vision helps us to understand that this river is Hiddekel (Dan. 10:4), meaning the Tigris River. It doesn’t help us understand the identity of the angels on each side of the river, nor the identity of the angel “which was upon the waters of the river” (v. 7).
Daniel 12:6 How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?
Note that Daniel asked, “How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?” He didn’t ask, “How long shall it be to the end” or “How long shall it be to the wonders?” He is seeing a panoramic vision of apocalyptic events which he is commanded to write and seal up. He is not giving us the whole picture of what he saw. He is asking, “How long shall it be to the end of these wonders (from the time that they begin to the end)?” How long are the times of trouble? In what span of time do all the plagues come? How long will the daily sacrifice be interrupted? He is not asking, “How long shall it be from now until the end?” He is asking, “How long shall it be from the time the troubles begin until the troubles end?”
Gerald N. Lund
Time after time, in the past and in the present, people have sought to "crack the code." They use this passage to predict the date of the second coming of Christ or the events associated with it. The declaration of Christ himself is clear and unmistakable: "But of that day, and hour, no one knoweth; no, not the angels of God in heaven, but my Father only" (JS-M 1:40; italics added). This sets aside all attempts to date the Second Coming, no matter how clever or logical the interpretation of the Daniel passage may seem.
Daniel 12:7 it shall be for a time, times, and an half
A time is a year, or 360 days, in scriptural computations. Times means more than one year or two periods of 360. An half is therefore 180 days. Add them up and you get 360 X 3 + 180 = 1260 days. That is the number of days that the times of trouble, the plagues, and the nations which come against Israel will scatter the power of the holy people. It is the same time period spoken of in Daniel 7:25 where the anti-Christ, “shall speak great words against the most high, and shall wear out the saints of the most high, and think to change times and seasons; and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and a dividing of time.” 3.5 years, or 42 months, is the same period of time spoken of by John the Revelator, “the court [of the Temple]… is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months. And I will give power unto my two witnesses and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days” (Rev. 11:2-3) During that time the Lord promised, “I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.” (Zech. 14:2) The vision is too painful to watch and Daniel wants to know when it will end.
In the prophecies of Daniel, we have learned a code that can be applied to the numbers given. 70 weeks might be 70 years or 70 decades. 1260 days might be 1260 years. This is where interpreters have gone amiss. They have performed calculations based on Daniel 12 assuming 1260 years instead of days from this event or that event, maybe a comet in the sky, maybe an eclipse. The options are endless. If, in fact Daniel was being told how long it would be until the end from his day, then it should have come 1260 years after 535 BC or the year 725 AD. Oops! I guess that logic didn’t work out. The following is a list of other predictions that failed.
Individuals Who Predicted the Second Coming
First prediction 1792
First prediction 1843
Late 20th century
First prediction 1982
First prediction 1994
Adapted from Wikipedia: “List of dates predicted for apocalyptic events”
Daniel 12:10 the wise shall understand
The earth is groaning under corruption, oppression, tyranny, and bloodshed; and God is coming out of His hiding place, as He said He would do, to vex the nations of the earth. Daniel in his vision, saw convulsion upon convulsion; he ‘beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of Days did sit;’ and one was brought before him like unto the Son of Man; and all nations, kindred, tongues, and peoples, did serve and obey Him. It is for us to be righteous, that we may be wise and understand; for none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand, and they that turn many to righteousness shall shine as the stars for ever and ever.” (Teachings, 253)
Daniel 12:11 the abomination that maketh desolate
Abomination of Desolation
Shortly before his betrayal and crucifixion, the Savior predicted the destruction of the Temple of Herod, which prompted the disciples to ask, “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matt 24:3) His response, in part, referenced “the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet.” (Matt. 24:15)
What is the abomination of desolation? To find out we have to go back to the source, the writings of the prophet Daniel. As a youth, Daniel had seen Solomon’s Temple in all of its glory. He was familiar with the daily sacrifices which occurred therein—every morning and evening—an offering of a lamb with flour, oil, and wine (Numb. 28:1-8). Living in the Persian Empire, long after the Babylonians had destroyed Jerusalem, Daniel lamented the loss of the Temple and what had gone wrong with the Lord’s chosen people, “We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments… therefore the curse is poured upon us… for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Jerusalem.” (Daniel 9:5-12). Like the rest of the faithful Jewish refugees, Daniel longed for the rebuilding of the Temple and the reinstitution of the daily offering of the sacrificial lamb. His prophetic visions of the future taught him that the Temple and the sacrifices would be restored, but not without interruptions. Daniel prophesied of three separate instances in which Temple ordinance would be interrupted and the holy house desecrated. Each of these three events, all future to Daniel’s day, comprise what is called an “abomination of desolation.”
Abomination of Desolation #1: The Temple of Zerubbabel (168 BC)
Daniel prophesied of a future enemy of Israel, that…
…by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down.
And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practiced, and prospered.
Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain saint which spake, Ho long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot? (Dan 8:11-14, see also Dan. 8:23-26)
Again, the emphasis is on the interruption of the daily sacrifice and desecration of the temple. Notice the term used here is transgression of desolation instead of abomination of desolation. Daniel never uses the exact term abomination of desolation. Speaking of this same event elsewhere, Daniel prophesies:
They shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.
And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong… (Daniel 11:31-32)
The fulfillment of this prophecy occurred when Seleucid King Antiochus IV Epiphanes sent his army to destroy the Jewish religion. His goal was to influence the Jews in the direction of Greek culture, to Hellenize them. If that didn’t work by suggestion, he would use coercion.
“A royal decree proclaimed the abolition of the Jewish mode of worship; Sabbaths and festivals were not to be observed; circumcision was not to be performed; the sacred books were to be surrendered and the Jews were compelled to offer sacrifices to the idols that had been erected. The officers charged with carrying out these commands did so with great rigor; a veritable inquisition was established with monthly sessions for investigation. The possession of a sacred book or the performance of the rite of circumcision was punished with death.” (http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/1589-antiochus-iv-epiphanes)
…he left the temple bare, and took away the golden candlesticks, and the golden altar [of incense,] and table [of showbread,] and the altar [of burnt-offering;] and did not abstain from even the veils, which were made of fine linen and scarlet. He also emptied it of its secret treasures, and left nothing at all remaining; and by this means cast the Jews into great lamentation, for he forbade them to offer those daily sacrifices which they used to offer to God, according to the law… and when the king had built an idol altar upon God‘s altar, he slew swine upon it, and so offered a sacrifice neither according to the law, nor the Jewish religious worship in that country. He also compelled them to forsake the worship which they paid their own God, and to adore those whom he took to be gods; and made them build temples, and raise idol altars, in every city and village, and offer swine upon them every day.
For Antiochus to sacrifice swine upon the altar of God was an unthinkable desecration—an abomination of epic proportions. For three years, the Temple service was interrupted. Eventually, a small band of warriors, led by Judas Maccabees, defeated the larger Seleucid Army and re-established temple worship (celebrated annually as Hannukah). This desecration by Antiochus IV was the first Abomination of Desolation.
Abomination of Desolation #2: The Temple of Herod (70 AD)
Thirty five years after Jesus’ death and resurrection, a band of religious zealots, more robbers and murderers than pious warriors, rebelled against the Roman authorities in Judea. The Roman response was to surround Jerusalem in a strangling siege that left most of the inhabitants starving to death. Those who tried to sneak out of the gates at night were caught by the Roman soldiers and killed or crucified, sometimes at a rate of hundreds per day, until there wasn’t any more wood to make crosses. In desperation, those inside the city resorted to eating cow dung, chewing on leather straps, or cannibalism. Meanwhile, the zealots ransacked neighborhoods and harassed the Roman garrisons.
In fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy that the daily sacrifice would cease (Dan. 9:27) the priests stopped offering the sacrificial lamb on a daily basis because there was nobody left to do it. Josephus lamented that “’The Daily Sacrifice’ had failed, and had not been offered to God for want of people to offer it, and that the people were grievously troubled at it.” (Wars of the Jews, Book VI, 2:1) As the siege took effect, Titus, the Roman General, built ramps called siege engines and ladders by which his men could scale the walls of Jerusalem for the assault on the city. His original intent was to preserve the Temple but the zealots would not accept terms of surrender in spite of their weakened position. The attack began on the northern edge of the Temple complex at the tower of Antonia. A fire torched the temple walls and began to encircle the holy house. The zealots fought a violent, losing battle on the temple grounds. Titus and his men entered the holy house and inspected the holy components before the fire consumed the holy place. The temple was desecrated by the presence of these Gentile Romans in the holy of holies.
The Temple and altar were also defiled by hoards of dead men. “Now, round about the altar lay dead bodies heaped one upon another; as at the steps going up to it ran a great quantity of their blood.” (Wars, Book VI, 4:6) The whole temple lot became a fireball, “one would have thought that the hill itself, on which the temple stood, was seething-hot, as full of fire on every part of it, that the blood was larger in quantity than the fire, [as] those that were slain [were] more in number than those that slew them; for the ground did nowhere appear visible, for the dead bodies that lay on it.” (Wars, Book VI, 5:1) After the fire, the Roman soldiers completed the idolatrous desecration by worshipping their military banners, called ensigns, in the temple, turning over the remaining stones, one by one. In all, 97,000 Jewish souls were taken captive—later to be spread throughout the entire Roman Empire (i.e the Diaspora). Jewish lives lost were estimated to be over a million.
This Second Abomination of Desolation is a good example of the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy. He said it would come after the Messiah should “be cut off, but not for himself (since his life was given for us, not for himself): and the people of the prince that shall come (the Romans and Titus) shall destroy the city and the sanctuary” (Dan. 9:26).
Abomination of Desolation #3: The Third Temple in Jerusalem
The first requirement for the fulfillment of the third Abomination of Desolation is the presence of a Jerusalem Temple. No other site, no other temple will do. By prophecy, it must be the house of the Lord in Jerusalem as prophesied, “Behold the man whose name is the Branch… he shall build the temple of the Lord… and they that are far off shall come and build in the temple of the Lord” (Zech. 6:12,15). In this reference as elsewhere, the Branch is another name for the Messiah.
The second requirement is the restoration of the daily sacrifice in the Jerusalem Temple. This also is prophesied, “he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness” (Mal. 3:3); “the Levites… shall be ministers in my sanctuary… they shall slay the burnt offering and the sacrifice for the people” (Ezek. 44:10-11). They will “daily prepare a burnt offering unto the Lord of a lamb of the first year without blemish” (Ezek. 46:13).
Once the first and second requirements are met, once the Jerusalem Temple has been rebuilt and the Levites are offering sacrifices according to the ancient Law, then everything is in place. Then, the enemies of Israel may gather as in the days of Antiochus IV or the Roman siege. Zechariah promises that in the last days there will be a “siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem” (Zech. 12:2). “For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled” (Zech. 14:2). “For it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months” (Rev. 11:2). Back to Daniel, “Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand. And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away; and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days” (Dan. 12:10-11). That is to say, the duration of time that the daily sacrifice is interrupted is 1290 days, or roughly 3.5 years.
What can we imagine will happen at that time? What will happen to Jerusalem? What will happen to the temple? What will happen to the priests offering the sacrifices? We need to look no further than the events of the first two abominations to know what to expect for the third, “and again shall the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, be fulfilled.” (JS-Matt. 1:32-33).
Then, unlike the Second Abomination of Desolation, redemption is promised associated with the Second Coming of the Lord. “In that day shall the Lord defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem… and it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem…” (Zech. 12:8-9). “Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle” (Zech. 14:3), “and there shall be no more utter destruction; but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited” (Zech. 14:11). The Second Coming will end the Third Abomination of Desolation. Then the desolation will be upon the wicked and the enemies of Israel. The latter-day saints are warned to prepare “for the hour of judgment which is to come; that their souls may escape the wrath of God, the desolation of abomination which awaits the wicked, both in this world and in the world to come” (D&C 88:84-85).
Daniel 12:12 Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days
We have three overlapping times given: 1) time, times, and a half is 1260 days [verse 7], 2) 1290 days [verse 11], and 3) 1335 days [verse 12]. We are never told what happens at the end of the 1260, 1290, or 1335 days. Here is our best guess. For 1260 days, the Gentiles tread the city under foot during which time the daily sacrifice is interrupted. Then 30 days later, the daily sacrifice is restored. Then 45 days later, the Messiah comes in power and great glory, fulfilling the prophecy, “Blessed is he that waiteth and cometh to (or survives until) the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days.”
The take home message is that 3.5 years after Jerusalem and the holy people are attacked by the nations of the earth, the end will come. The wise need not know the day nor the hour if they have this key by which they understand the year and the month of the coming of the Lord.