TIME OF THE END
An expression found six times in the book of Daniel. It refers to a time period marking the conclusion of a system of things and culminating in its destruction. The prophet Daniel was given a preview of events to occur in the distant future. Thereafter he was told: “And as for you, O Daniel, make secret the words and seal up the book, until the time of the end. Many will rove about, and the true knowledge will become abundant.”
Concerning this text, commentator Thomas Scott, in the first half of the 19th century, observed: “The angel, by way of conclusion, intimated to Daniel, that this prophecy would remain obscure, and as ‘a sealed book,’ of which little would be understood, ‘till the time of the end’ . . . The fact has evidenced this to be the case: immense difficulties have always been acknowledged in many of Daniel’s prophecies, and they have been ‘as words shut up’ even from believers in general. . . . In these latter ages many have bestowed great pains, in searching into history, to illustrate those parts of these prophecies which are already accomplished; and by comparing them with other scriptures, to form some judgment of what yet remains to be fulfilled: and thus much light has been thrown on them. As they shall gradually be more and more accomplished, they will be better understood: and future generations will be far more surprised and instructed by them, than we are.” (Scott’s Explanatory Notes, 1832) The lack of understanding concerning Daniel’s prophecies in the early part of the 19th century indicated that this foretold “time of the end” was yet future, since those “having insight,” God’s true servants, were to understand the prophecy in “the time of the end.”
The expression “time of the end” is also used in association with particular developments in connection with human government. Daniel 11:40 reads: “In the time of the end the king of the south will engage with [the king of the north] in a pushing, and against him the king of the north will storm with chariots and with horsemen and with many ships.” Thereafter the prophecy discusses the actions of the “king of the north” and indicates that he will come to his end. (Da 11:41-45) Thus “the time of the end” here is evidently to be understood as a period culminated by the destruction of “the king of the north.” Lending confirmation to this is the fact that “the king of the north” is earlier portrayed as persecuting God’s servants, those “having insight,” until “the time of the end,” that is, until his time of the end.
Another feature associated with “the time of the end” is the standing up of “a king fierce in countenance” that would range himself against “the Prince of princes,” finally to be broken or destroyed. This “king” was to stand up in the final part of the kingdoms that sprang from the four parts into which the Grecian Empire was to be divided. (Da 8:8-25) Since “the king of the north” and “the king of the south” came from the same source, it logically follows that the “king fierce in countenance” corresponds to one of these ‘kings’ in his “time of the end.”
The expression “time of the end” does not mean an ‘end of time’ but denotes a period of time that culminates in the end or destruction, not of all things, but of the things mentioned in the prophecy. That time itself will not end is made clear in the Scriptures. For example, the psalmist said concerning the earth: “It will not be made to totter to time indefinite, or forever.” (Ps 104:5) Since the earth will continue to exist, it necessarily follows that time, as an earthly “dimension” or measurement, will not cease. While it is true that Revelation 10:6 may be rendered “there should be time no longer,” the context indicates that this means no further grant of time; thus, a specific or allotted period of time terminates. (KJ) Other translations, therefore, read: “There should be no more delay.” (AT, RS) “There will be no delay any longer.” (NW) Commenting on this text, A. T. Robertson observes: “This does not mean that chronos (time) . . . will cease to exist, but only that there will be no more delay in the fulfillment of the seventh trumpet (verse 7), in answer to the question, ‘How long?’ (6:10).”