Read verses 1-4
Q: What does “at that time” refer to?
A: Remember that originally there were no chapter or verse markings. Chapters 10-12 should always be read as if they were just one, single chapter. There is no break in the conversation between the end of chapter 11 and the beginning of chapter 12. So “at that time” is referring to what has just been described in chapter 11 as the actions of the Antichrist.
Q: What might be significant about the fact that it is Michael who is specified here and not the Messiah?
A: Michael is identified exclusively with the nation of Israel. It indicates that the things occurring here are specific to the literal nation of Israel. If the Messiah were specified, it would speak of the church composed of both Jew and Gentile. It’s yet another indication that God is not yet done with Israel and has plans yet to be fulfilled.
Q: What book is referred to here?
A: The book of life, those obtaining salvation through Christ.
Q: So what does this indicate about those in Israel who will be rescued?
A: They have experienced a spiritual revival and accepted Jesus as their Messiah. (This is spoken of through other prophets as well.)
Q: And what occurs shortly after Israel’s rescue?
A: The “time of distress” comes to a close and there is a resurrection.
Q: Is v.2 describing the final and ultimate resurrection of all people for Final Judgment?
A: No. Scripture corroborates that there is an initial resurrection of believers timed with the Messiah’s Millennial Reign, followed by the ultimate and final resurrection of everyone else for final disposition.
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
— 1 Thessalonians 4:16
Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.
— Revelation 20:4-6
Application: In reality, it won’t matter whether you believe in the Rapture of the Church and whether or when it comes in relation to these events because they’re all going to happen according to God’s will and timing regardless. The more important factor is whether or not your name is “written in the book”, whether or not you choose Christ in spite of everything else.
Q: Why will “those who have insight...shine brightly”? Of what is this speaking?
A: It’s a general reference to the role and responsibility of the ministers of the Gospel during the times described in Daniel 10-12. They are not merely preaching about the need for salvation, but fulfilling Christ’s mandates to “make disciples” (Matthew 28:19) by teaching and holding others to live according to the biblical standards of righteousness, putting into practice God’s Word and ways alone.
Application: Is it enough to just believe? What does it take to get through times of trial or duress? (Living exclusively according to His Word and ways, rejecting all others.) Is salvation possible without the follow-up commitment to sanctification?
Q: What is the contrast of the personal message to Daniel in v.4 during Daniel’s time, versus that to John in Revelation 22:10?
And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.
— Revelation 22:10
Timing and perspective. The timing and perspective given through Daniel is one of looking at events yet to occur in the future, whereas John is looking back on future events yet to occur as if they already have.
Q: What do you suppose is the meaning of “many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase”?
A: Many believe that this is a reference to the present, modern age on earth wherein conventional transportation and knowledge have increased. However, since all things prophetic are consistently made up of earthly activities which are influenced by and tied to heavenly activities, consider this alternative: It speaks of a time when a great many will be stirred up to inquire into Scripture the same way as Daniel was in his reading of Jeremiah and realizing the time of fulfillment of God’s Word was at hand. (Daniel 9) Nothing will be spared in the pursuit of the meaning of Scripture and, with the blessing of God, biblical knowledge will increase and things will appear nearer and plainer than ever. It’s a prelude to fulfilling a condition that will be present in the Millennial kingdom:
They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain,
For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
As the waters cover the sea.
— Isaiah 11:9
Application: In recognizing that the End Times are upon us, our response should be exactly like that of Daniel when he realized a prophetic time of fulfillment was about to occur: “So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes.” (Daniel 9:3)