Reflecting on the End

As we have been reading through the book of Daniel, we have run into a number of texts and phrases that find their way into the New Testament either directly or indirectly. Most recently, we have read about the “abomination that causes desolation” which is mentioned by Jesus in the Olivet Discourse of Matthew 24. These quotations and allusions to the book of Daniel remind us that the revelations of God’s word and will that came first do not stand apart from later revelation. In fact, John’s Revelation includes a number of direct verbal connections with Daniel’s book as well as allusions and echoes in themes. As we wrap up our walk through the book of Daniel, I will take this reflection to consider how Daniel provides a foundation for Revelation.

We can begin by considering a few direct verbal connections between Daniel and Revelation. James Hamilton identifies three such connections from our text this week, Daniel 12.1 First, in Dan 12:1, we read, “And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time.” These words reflect the unique intensity of the great tribulation at the end of this age. The uniqueness of the intensity is picked up by John in Revelation: “And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake” (Rev 16:18 ESV).

Second, the heavenly being offers reassurance to Daniel in 12:1 that though the great tribulation will be uniquely intense, God’s people will be completely delivered: “But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book.” This mention of “the book” and the names written in it is picked up three times in Revelation.

In the first place, as the Lord Jesus dictates the letter to the church in Sardis, he gives this promise: “The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life” (Rev 3:5 ESV). Second, in the context of the beast, John writes, “and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain” (Rev 13:8 ESV). Finally, at the final judgment, John writes, “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done” (Rev 20:12 ESV). Taken together, these verbal connections between Daniel and Revelation reinforce the certainty and security of salvation in Jesus Christ, for those whom he has saved have had their names written in the Lamb’s book of life from before the foundation of the world.

Finally, the heavenly being gives some parting words to Daniel in 12:10: “Many shall purify themselves and make themselves white and be refined, but the wicked shall act wickedly.” These parting words are taken up and expanded by the Lord Jesus at the end of Revelation: “Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy” (Rev 22:11 ESV). In both cases, the emphasis is on the inevitability of our actions confirming our relationship with God.

Why are there such close parallels? Hamilton says, “We should not think of the repetition of these things in John's revelation as mere literary imitation. Rather, John's knowledge of Daniel shaped the way he perceived and communicated what he saw. The patterns of events in the book of Daniel left an impress on John’s thinking, as the whole structure of Daniel’s book seems to have done.”2 The point for us, then, is that John was not writing about his experiences in Revelation in a vacuum. He had the whole of God’s revealed word as the raw materials for expressing the inexpressible, especially Daniel’s book. This should give us great confidence that the whole of God’s revelation is pointing to a single great point: God has made a way of salvation and everlasting peace through Jesus Christ our Lord to the praise of his glorious grace. That is the end, and it is a great and glorious end.

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