Then I, Daniel, looked, and behold, two others stood, one on this bank of the stream and one on that bank of the stream. 6And someone said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the stream, “How long shall it be till the end of these wonders?” 7And I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the stream; he raised his right hand and his left hand toward heaven and swore by him who lives forever that it would be for a time, times, and half a time, and that when the shattering of the power of the holy people comes to an end all these things would be finished.”Daniel 12:5-7
As I have covered in detail in past posts, the majority of Daniel’s prophecies are concerning the appointed time of the end, which is expressed in the 70th Week — or final 7-year period of human history. These 7 years are split down the middle and divided into two equal halves of 3.5 years. The abomination that causes desolation is the consistent sign marker for the division of the 7 years, triggering the beginning of unprecedented trouble — called the great tribulation.
This last half of the 7 years becomes an expansion, a vivid expression and exponential culmination of the end of the age, which climaxes with the Return of Yeshua — the Lord Jesus Christ.
Here in Daniel 12, the prophet plainly asks the LORD, “how long shall it be until the end of these wonders?” To which the LORD answered … it would be a time, times, and half of time before “all these things would be finished.”
Just in case you haven’t been keeping count, this unique period of time is documented in Scripture more than any other time, and to ensure that we don’t miss it, the LORD conveys this 3.5 year time period in just about as many ways as He can for emphasis.
- Half a week — Daniel 9:27
- Time, times, and half a time — Daniel 7:25, Daniel 12:7, Revelation 12:14
- 1,260 Days — Revelation 11:3, 12:6 (see also 1,290 Days in Daniel 12:11)
- 42 Months — Revelation 11:2, 13:5
It should go without saying that this period of time prophetically is significant to God’s promises and plan of redemption. This post will delve into some of the key events, themes and characters that show up during the 3.5 years of great tribulation.
Jesus is the True Witness
Jesus is called the True Witness, and we learn that the spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus Christ. So when Daniel and the prophets received their visions from God, they were communicated through the personal witness of Jesus Christ Himself — pre-manifestations of Jesus in human form.
I am of the belief that the one dressed in linen — providing this vision to Daniel — is none other than the Lord Jesus Himself. Going back to Daniel 10, we are given a clue as to the identity of the One speaking with Daniel. The vision was so astounding that those who were with Daniel at the time fled away and left him alone. At that moment, Daniel received these detailed prophecies about the 3.5 years.
“I lifted up my eyes and looked, and behold, a man clothed in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz around his waist. His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and the sound of his words like the sound of a multitude.”Daniel 10:5-6
This is the same “man” that is still speaking to Daniel in chapter 12. Both Ezekiel and the Apostle John share similar visions that clearly identify this one like the son of man as the Lord Jesus Himself.
“And above the expanse over their heads there was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like sapphire; and seated above the likeness of a throne was a likeness with a human appearance. 27And upward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were gleaming metal, like the appearance of fire enclosed all around. And downward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and there was brightness around him. 28Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking.”Ezekiel 1:26-28
Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. 14The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. 16In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. 17When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. Revelation 1:12-18
Furthermore, it is worth noting that the “mighty” angel in Revelation 10 almost perfectly fits this description from Daniel’s vision. I believe the same Person is in view because identical language is used in both places. If this is indeed Jesus Christ, then there are profound implications about the role of God the Son in revealing the prophetic word in all its forms.
Here in Daniel 12, this one like a son of man “raised his right hand and his left hand toward heaven and swore by him who lives forever that it would be for a time, times, and half a time” [Daniel 12:6]. What we read in Revelation 10 must be connected. Consider all the direct links and identical images.
Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven, wrapped in a cloud, with a rainbow over his head, and his face was like the sun, and his legs like pillars of fire. 2He had a little scroll open in his hand. And he set his right foot on the sea, and his left foot on the land, 3and called out with a loud voice, like a lion roaring. When he called out, the seven thunders sounded. And when the seven thunders had sounded, I was about to write, but I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Seal up what the seven thunders have said, and do not write it down.” And the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand to heaven 6and swore by him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and what is in it, the earth and what is in it, and the sea and what is in it, that there would be no more delay, 7but that in the days of the trumpet call to be sounded by the seventh angel, the mystery of God would be fulfilled, just as he announced to his servants the prophets. Revelation 10:1-7
The Two Witnesses
I am of the persuasion that not only are there no errors in the inspired text of Scripture but also that every last word and detail is purposefully placed by God and intentionally integrated by the Holy Spirit to testify to the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. When you realize the depth and complexity of Scripture in all its various forms and meanings, then you will never read your Bible the same.
For example, here in Daniel’s vision there are two men standing on either side of the river, bearing witness to the testimony of the one clothed in linen. Everything in God’s word is established upon the testimony of two or three witnesses, and Daniel 12 is no exception.
When we pay careful attention, we begin to see these two witnesses emerge in some of the most pivotal points in history. The LORD is telling Daniel that there will be a unique 3.5 year period preceding the appointed time of the end and the Day of the LORD. I find it interesting that there are two witnesses present to validate the LORD’s testimony to Daniel. I will go a step further and suggest that these two witnesses could be the same two witnesses revealed during the great tribulation in Revelation 11.
Let’s take a closer look.
Moses and Elijah
“And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth.Revelation 11:3-4
For many reasons, I hold the view that the identity of the two witnesses in Revelation 11 is none other than Moses and Elijah.
Moses represents the law while Elijah the prophets. Both of their ministries provide multiple allusions and prefigurements to the great tribulation. Both of their ministries were accompanied by signs and wonders, like turning water to blood and calling fire down from heaven. And both Moses and Elijah were seen by the Apostles conferring with Jesus on the mountain of transfiguration. Furthermore, we know one of the clearest signs of the end times will be the return of the prophet Elijah as a forerunner to the return of Jesus Christ.
“Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”Malachi 4:5-6
What we often overlook, however, is the possibility that Moses and Elijah have showed up as witnesses for other key announcements. For example …
- Two men — Moses and Elijah — on the mountain of transfiguration.
- Two Olive Trees and Lamp stands that are standing by the LORD of the whole earth [Zechariah 4]
- Two men bearing witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ [Luke 24:1-7]. We have always presumed they were angels because angels often are portrayed as men [see Genesis 18-19], and this interpretation is not precluded. But the Scripture simply calls them men. Could these two men be Moses and Elijah?
- Two men bearing witness to the ascension of Christ [Acts 1:6-11].
- Two men bearing witness to Daniel’s prophecy concerning the last days [Daniel 12]
- Two witnesses during the great tribulation [Revelation 11]
The idea is that the LORD conferred with Daniel about the great tribulation in the presence of Moses and Elijah because both Moses and Elijah would be the very witnesses that God sends to prophesy and pour out judgment upon the earth.
The Beast will Shatter the Holy People
The LORD tells Daniel that the “shattering of the holy people” is inextricably linked with this 3.5 year period. So who are the “holy people and how will they be shattered and why?” Is only Israel in view? Or are all the saints of the Most High in view?
The answer is both.
On the one hand, the holy people represent the elect nation of Israel, who are promised to endure the worst time of suffering and tribulation called “Jacob’s Trouble.” We know that the Beast will direct his wrath at Israel, and God’s judgments and catastrophes will also fall on Israel in order to bring them to repentance. So this 3.5 year period certainly has direct implications and divine purposes for Jews, who have been set apart and made holy by God for His purposes.
Jesus reminds us that when Jerusalem is surrounded by armies and the abomination of desolation is set up, there will be great trouble, and He warns those living in Judea and Jerusalem to flee for the mountains to escape the coming scourge of the Antichrist through the land. Although the destruction of the Beast will be extensive, Satan will concentrate his aggression in the holy land against the holy people.
“And when the dragon [Satan] saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman (Israel) who had given birth to the male child (Jesus). But the woman (Israel) was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she [Israel] might fly from the serpent [Satan] into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time.”Revelation 12:13-14
A Remnant of Israel will Find Refuge in the Wilderness
“And the woman [Israel] fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.”Revelation 12:6
Notice that while the majority of the Jews will be slain or taken into captivity by the Beast during this time of Jacob’s trouble [see Zechariah 13:7-9], there also will be a remnant who are supernaturally carried away and protected by God in the wilderness for 3.5 years. This remnant is nourished for the same allotted time period that Daniel was given — a time, times and half a time.
The Saints also will be Overcome
The “holy people” isn’t exclusive of ethnic and national Israel, however, as also this designation clearly represents another group of people that the Bible calls “saints” — or holy ones. The same root word for saints is the word for holy — qodesh. The holy people — the saints — will also be shattered by the Beast.
The great tribulation will be the greatest mass killing of martyrs in human history. Satan’s wrath will not only target Jews, but believers in Jesus are also well within the sights of the Beast. There are so many passages that demonstrate how the saints — God’s holy people — will be handed over to be killed during this time of unprecedented tribulation. I will share some of the key passages that bring this into focus.
When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. 10They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.”Revelation 6:9-11
Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.Revelation 7:13-14
And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 11And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. 12Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”
Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.Revelation 12:10-12, 17
As I looked, this horn made war with the saints and prevailed over them, 22until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints possessed the kingdom.
23“Thus he said: ‘As for the fourth beast, there shall be a fourth kingdom on earth,Daniel 7:21-25
which shall be different from all the kingdoms,
and it shall devour the whole earth,
and trample it down, and break it to pieces.
24As for the ten horns,
out of this kingdom ten kings shall arise,
and another shall arise after them;
he shall be different from the former ones,
and shall put down three kings.
25He shall speak words against the Most High,
and shall wear out the saints of the Most High,
and shall think to change the times and the law;
and they shall be given into his hand
for a time, times, and half a time.
And they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?” And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. 6It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. 7Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation.”Revelation 13:4-7
So Daniel is told by the LORD in the presence of the two witnesses to seal up the prophecy until the time of the end because it pertains to the appointed time of the end. This time of great tribulation and Satanic persecution. This time of great witness but great suffering and martyrdom. This time of great judgment and yet greater salvation.
As I close this final chapter, I will bring attention to the necessity the LORD places on the white robes of the righteous. Without being clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ, there is no hope. Only those of faith will be saved in the end, and that is Daniel’s final reminder.
“Many shall purify themselves and make themselves white and be refined, but the wicked shall act wickedly. And none of the wicked shall understand, but those who are wise shall understand. 11And from the time that the regular burnt offering is taken away and the abomination that makes desolate is set up, there shall be 1,290 days. 12Blessed is he who waits and arrives at the 1,335 days. 13But go your way till the end. And you shall rest and shall stand in your allotted place at the end of the days.”Daniel 12:10-13
This admonition is quite similar to the words of Jesus in Revelation 16, which describes the final outpouring of God’s wrath on the wicked in conjunction with the Return of Jesus to wage war with the Antichrist.
“Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!”Revelation 16:15
Next time I will wrap up this amazing study with a general conclusion.