Jehovah Promises Daniel a Wonderful Reward
1, 2. (a) What important quality does a runner need in order to succeed? (b) How did the apostle Paul compare a life of faithfulness in Jehovah’s service to a race?
A RUNNER stretches toward the finish line. He is nearly exhausted, but with his goal in sight, he pours every ounce of energy into those last few paces. Straining with every muscle, he crosses the line at last! His face registers relief and triumph. Enduring to the end has paid off.
2 At the conclusion of Daniel chapter 12, we find the beloved prophet nearing the finish line of his own “race”—his life of service to Jehovah. After citing various examples of faith among Jehovah’s pre-Christian servants, the apostle Paul wrote: “So, then, because we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also put off every weight and the sin that easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, as we look intently at the Chief Agent and Perfecter of our faith, Jesus. For the joy that was set before him he endured a torture stake, despising shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”—Hebrews 12:1, 2.
3. (a) What motivated Daniel to “run with endurance”? (b) What three distinct things did Jehovah’s angel tell Daniel?
3 Among that ‘great cloud of witnesses’ was Daniel. He certainly was one who had to “run with endurance,” and he was motivated to do so by deep love for God. Jehovah had revealed much to Daniel about the future of world governments, but now He sent him this personal encouragement: “As for you yourself, go toward the end; and you will rest, but you will stand up for your lot at the end of the days.” (Daniel 12:13) Jehovah’s angel was telling Daniel three distinct things: (1) that Daniel should “go toward the end,” (2) that he would “rest,” and (3) that he would “stand up” again at a future time. How can these words encourage Christians today to endure to the finish line in the race for life?
“GO TOWARD THE END”
4. What did Jehovah’s angel mean by saying “go toward the end,” and why might that have presented a challenge to Daniel?
4 What did the angel mean when he told Daniel: “As for you yourself, go toward the end”? The end of what? Well, since Daniel was almost 100 years old, apparently this was a reference to the end of his own life, which likely was quite near.a The angel was urging Daniel to endure faithfully until death. But doing so would not necessarily be easy. Daniel had lived to see Babylon overthrown and a remnant of the Jewish exiles return to Judah and Jerusalem. That must have brought the aged prophet much joy. There is no record, though, that he joined in that trek. He may well have been too old and frail by that time. Or perhaps it was Jehovah’s will for him to remain in Babylon. In any case, one cannot help but wonder if Daniel felt somewhat wistful as his countrymen left for Judah.
5. What indication is there that Daniel endured to the end?
5 Daniel no doubt gathered great strength from the angel’s kind statement: “Go toward the end.” We might be reminded of the words Jesus Christ spoke some six centuries later: “He that has endured to the end is the one that will be saved.” (Matthew 24:13) No doubt that is what Daniel did. He endured to the end, faithfully running the race for life to its very finish. That could be one reason why he is favorably referred to later in God’s Word. (Hebrews 11:32, 33) What enabled Daniel to endure to the end? The record of his life helps us with the answer.
ENDURING AS A STUDENT OF GOD’S WORD
6. How do we know that Daniel was a diligent student of God’s Word?
6 For Daniel, enduring to the end involved continuing to study and ponder deeply the thrilling promises of God. We know that Daniel was a devout student of God’s Word. Otherwise, how would he have known of Jehovah’s promise to Jeremiah that the exile would be 70 years in duration? Daniel himself wrote: “I . . . discerned by the books the number of the years.” (Daniel 9:2; Jeremiah 25:11, 12) Without question, Daniel sought out the books of God’s Word then extant. The writings of Moses, David, Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel—whatever was available to him—surely provided Daniel with many pleasant hours of reading and meditation.
7. When we compare our time with Daniel’s day, what advantages do we have in studying God’s Word?
7 Studying God’s Word, being absorbed in it, is vital in order for us to cultivate endurance today. (Romans 15:4-6; 1 Timothy 4:15) And we have the complete Bible, which includes the written record of how some of Daniel’s prophecies were fulfilled centuries later. Further, we are blessed to live during “the time of the end,” foretold at Daniel 12:4. In our own day, the anointed have been blessed with spiritual insight, shining as beacons of truth in this bedarkened world. As a result, many of the deep prophecies in the book of Daniel, some of which mystified him, are rich in meaning for us today. Therefore, let us continue to study God’s Word daily, never taking these things for granted. Doing so will help us to endure.
DANIEL PERSEVERED IN PRAYER
8. What example did Daniel set in the matter of prayer?
8 Prayer also helped Daniel to endure to the end. Daily he turned to Jehovah God and spoke openly to him with a heart full of faith and confidence. He knew Jehovah to be the “Hearer of prayer.” (Psalm 65:2; compare Hebrews 11:6.) When Daniel’s heart was burdened with grief over Israel’s rebellious course, he poured out his feelings to Jehovah. (Daniel 9:4-19) Even when Darius decreed that he alone be petitioned for 30 days, Daniel did not let that stop him from praying to Jehovah God. (Daniel 6:10) Does it not touch our hearts to visualize that faithful old man braving a pit full of lions rather than relinquishing the precious privilege of prayer? There can be no doubt that Daniel faithfully went to his end, praying fervently to Jehovah every day.
9. Why should we never take the privilege of prayer for granted?
9 Prayer is a simple act. We can pray virtually anytime, anywhere, aloud or silently. Never, though, should we take this precious privilege lightly. The Bible links prayer with endurance, perseverance, and staying awake spiritually. (Luke 18:1; Romans 12:12; Ephesians 6:18; Colossians 4:2) Is it not remarkable that we have a free and open channel of communication with the highest personage in the universe? And he listens! Recall the occasion when Daniel prayed, and Jehovah sent an angel in response. The angel arrived while Daniel was yet praying! (Daniel 9:20, 21) Ours may not be the era for such angelic visits, but Jehovah has not changed. (Malachi 3:6) Just as he heard Daniel’s prayer, he will listen to ours. And as we pray, we will draw closer to Jehovah, forming a bond that will help us to endure to the end, as Daniel did.
ENDURING AS A TEACHER OF GOD’S WORD
10. Why was teaching the truth of God’s Word important to Daniel?
10 Daniel had to “go toward the end” in another sense. He had to endure as a teacher of the truth. He never forgot that he was one of the chosen people of whom the Scriptures had said: “‘You are my witnesses,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘even my servant whom I have chosen.’” (Isaiah 43:10) Daniel did all he could to live up to that commission. Likely his work included teaching his own people who were exiled in Babylon. We know little of his dealings with his fellow Jews except for his connection to the three referred to as “his companions”—Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. (Daniel 1:7; 2:13, 17, 18) Their close friendship surely did much to help each one of them to endure. (Proverbs 17:17) Daniel, blessed by Jehovah with special insight, had much to teach his friends. (Daniel 1:17) But he had other teaching to do as well.
11. (a) What was unique about Daniel’s work? (b) How effective was Daniel in carrying out his unusual assignment?
11 More than any other prophet, Daniel had the work of witnessing to Gentile dignitaries. Although he often had to deliver unpopular messages, he did not treat these rulers as if they were abhorrent or in some way beneath him. He spoke to them respectfully and skillfully. There were some—such as those jealous, scheming satraps—who wanted to destroy Daniel. Yet, other dignitaries came to respect him. Because Jehovah enabled Daniel to explain secrets that mystified kings and wise men, the prophet gained great prominence. (Daniel 2:47, 48; 5:29) True, as he aged, he could not be as active as in his youth. But he surely went to his end still faithfully seeking any way in which he could serve as a witness of his beloved God.
12. (a) What teaching activities do we as Christians engage in today? (b) How can we follow Paul’s counsel to “go on walking in wisdom toward those on the outside”?
12 In the Christian congregation today, we may find faithful companions who will help us to endure, just as Daniel and his three associates helped one another. We also teach one another, providing “an interchange of encouragement.” (Romans 1:11, 12) Like Daniel, we have a commission to witness to unbelievers. (Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20) We therefore need to hone our skills so that we ‘handle the word of the truth aright’ in talking to people about Jehovah. (2 Timothy 2:15) And it will help if we obey the apostle Paul’s counsel: “Go on walking in wisdom toward those on the outside.” (Colossians 4:5) Such wisdom includes a balanced view of those who do not share our faith. We do not look down on such people, viewing ourselves as superior. (1 Peter 3:15) Rather, we seek to attract them to the truth, using God’s Word tactfully and skillfully so as to reach their hearts. When we succeed in reaching someone, what joy this gives us! Such joy certainly helps us to endure to the end, as Daniel did.
“YOU WILL REST”
13, 14. Why did the prospect of dying terrify many Babylonians, and how was Daniel’s view different?
13 The angel next assured Daniel: “You will rest.” (Daniel 12:13) What did those words mean? Well, Daniel knew that death lay ahead of him. Death has been the inescapable end for all humans, from Adam’s day until our own. The Bible aptly calls death an “enemy.” (1 Corinthians 15:26) To Daniel, however, the prospect of dying meant something quite different from what it meant to the Babylonians all around him. For them, steeped in the complex worship of some 4,000 false deities, death held all manner of terrors. They believed that after death, those who had lived unhappily or had died violently became vengeful spirits who haunted the living. The Babylonians also believed in a terrifying netherworld, populated by hideous monsters in human and animal forms.
14 For Daniel, death meant none of those things. Hundreds of years before Daniel’s day, King Solomon had been divinely inspired to say: “As for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:5) And concerning one who dies, the psalmist had sung: “His spirit goes out, he goes back to his ground; in that day his thoughts do perish.” (Psalm 146:4) So Daniel knew that the angel’s words to him would prove true. Death meant rest. No thoughts, no bitter regrets, no torment—and certainly no monsters. Jesus Christ expressed matters similarly when Lazarus died. He said: “Lazarus our friend has gone to rest.”—John 11:11.
15. How can the day of death be better than the day of birth?
15 Consider another reason why the prospect of dying held no terrors for Daniel. God’s Word says: “A name is better than good oil, and the day of death than the day of one’s being born.” (Ecclesiastes 7:1) How could the day of death, a mournful time if ever there was one, be better than the joyful day of birth? The key is in the “name.” “Good oil” could be enormously costly. Lazarus’ sister Mary once greased Jesus’ feet with perfumed oil that cost nearly a year’s wages! (John 12:1-7) How could a mere name be so precious? At Ecclesiastes 7:1, the Greek Septuagint says, “a good name.” It is not merely the name but what it stands for that is so valuable. At his birth, there is no reputation, no record of fine works, no treasured memory of the name bearer’s personality and qualities. But at life’s end, the name signifies all these things. And if it is a good name from God’s standpoint, it is far more precious than any material possessions could ever be.
16. (a) How did Daniel endeavor to make a good name with God? (b) Why could Daniel go to rest with full confidence that he had succeeded in making a good name with Jehovah?
16 Throughout his life, Daniel did everything in his power to make a good name with God, and Jehovah overlooked none of this. He watched Daniel and examined his heart. God had done as much for King David, who sang: “O Jehovah, you have searched through me, and you know me. You yourself have come to know my sitting down and my rising up. You have considered my thought from far off.” (Psalm 139:1, 2) Granted, Daniel was not perfect. He was a descendant of the sinner Adam and was a member of a sinful nation. (Romans 3:23) But Daniel repented of his sinfulness and kept trying to walk with his God in an upright way. The faithful prophet could therefore be confident that Jehovah would forgive his sins and would never hold them against him. (Psalm 103:10-14; Isaiah 1:18) Jehovah chooses to remember the good works of his faithful servants. (Hebrews 6:10) Thus, Jehovah’s angel twice called Daniel a “very desirable man.” (Daniel 10:11, 19) This meant that Daniel was beloved of God. Daniel could go to rest satisfied, knowing that he had made a good name with Jehovah.
17. Why is it urgent that we make a good name with Jehovah today?
17 Each of us may well ask, ‘Have I made a good name with Jehovah?’ We live in troubled times. It is not morbid but simply realistic to recognize that death may overtake any of us at any time. (Ecclesiastes 9:11) How vital it is, then, that each of us resolves to make a good name with God right now, without delay. If we do so, we need not fear death. It is a mere rest—like sleep. And like sleep, it is followed by an awakening!
“YOU WILL STAND UP”
18, 19. (a) What did the angel mean when he foretold that Daniel would “stand up” in the future? (b) Why would Daniel have been familiar with the resurrection hope?
18 The book of Daniel closes with one of the most beautiful promises God has ever made to a human. Jehovah’s angel told Daniel: “You will stand up for your lot at the end of the days.” What did the angel mean? Well, since the “rest” he had just referred to was death, the promise that Daniel would “stand up” at some later time could mean only one thing—resurrection!b In fact, some scholars have asserted that Daniel chapter 12 contains the first explicit reference to resurrection to be found in the Hebrew Scriptures. (Daniel 12:2) In this, though, they are wrong. Daniel was very familiar with the resurrection hope.
19 For example, Daniel no doubt knew these words that Isaiah had recorded two centuries earlier: “Your dead ones will live. A corpse of mine—they will rise up. Awake and cry out joyfully, you residents in the dust! For . . . the earth itself will let even those impotent in death drop in birth.” (Isaiah 26:19) Long before that, Elijah and Elisha were empowered by Jehovah to perform actual resurrections. (1 Kings 17:17-24; 2 Kings 4:32-37) Even earlier, Hannah, the mother of the prophet Samuel, acknowledged that Jehovah is able to raise people up from Sheol, the grave. (1 Samuel 2:6) Earlier still, faithful Job expressed his own hope with these words: “If an able-bodied man dies can he live again? All the days of my compulsory service I shall wait, until my relief comes. You will call, and I myself shall answer you. For the work of your hands you will have a yearning.”—Job 14:14, 15.
20, 21. (a) Of what resurrection is Daniel sure to be a part? (b) In what way is the resurrection in Paradise likely to take place?
20 Like Job, Daniel had reason to be confident that Jehovah would actually yearn to bring him back to life one day in the future. Still, it must have been deeply comforting to hear a mighty spirit creature confirm that hope. Yes, Daniel will stand up in “the resurrection of the righteous ones,” which will occur during Christ’s Millennial Reign. (Luke 14:14) What will that be like for Daniel? God’s Word tells us much about it.
21 Jehovah is “a God, not of disorder, but of peace.” (1 Corinthians 14:33) It is evident, then, that the resurrection in Paradise will take place in an orderly way. Perhaps some time will have passed since Armageddon. (Revelation 16:14, 16) All vestiges of the old system of things will have been cleared away, and preparations will no doubt have been made to welcome back the dead. As to the order in which the dead will return, the Bible offers this precedent: “Each one in his own rank.” (1 Corinthians 15:23) It seems likely that when it comes to ‘the resurrection of the righteous and the unrighteous,’ the righteous will be brought back first. (Acts 24:15) In that way, faithful men of old, such as Daniel, will be able to help in the administration of earthly affairs, including the instructing of billions of “unrighteous” ones brought back to life.—Psalm 45:16.
22. What are some questions that Daniel will no doubt be eager to have answered?
22 Before Daniel is ready to take on such responsibilities, he will surely have some questions to ask. After all, regarding some of the deep prophecies entrusted to him, he said: “I heard, but I could not understand.” (Daniel 12:8) How thrilled he will be to understand these divine mysteries at last! No doubt he will want to hear all about the Messiah. Daniel will learn with fascination about the march of world powers from his day down to our own, about the identity of the faithful “holy ones of the Supreme One”—who persevered despite persecution during “the time of the end”—and about the final destruction of all human kingdoms by God’s Messianic Kingdom.—Daniel 2:44; 7:22; 12:4.
DANIEL’S LOT IN PARADISE—AND YOURS!
23, 24. (a) How will the world in which Daniel finds himself resurrected differ from the one he knew? (b) Will Daniel have a place in Paradise, and how do we know?
23 Daniel will want to know about the world in which he will find himself at that time—a world so unlike that of his day. Gone will be every trace of the wars and oppression that marred the world he knew. There will be no sorrow, no sickness, no death. (Isaiah 25:8; 33:24) But there will be an abundance of food, plentiful housing, and fulfilling work for all. (Psalm 72:16; Isaiah 65:21, 22) Mankind will be one united, happy family.
24 Daniel will definitely have a place in that world. “You will stand up for your lot,” the angel told him. The Hebrew word here translated “lot” is the same as that used for literal plots of land.c Daniel may have been familiar with Ezekiel’s prophecy on the apportioning of the restored land of Israel. (Ezekiel 47:13–48:35) In its Paradise fulfillment, what does Ezekiel’s prophecy suggest? That all of God’s people will have a place in Paradise, even the land itself being apportioned in an orderly and just manner. Of course, Daniel’s lot in Paradise will involve more than mere land. It will include his place in God’s purpose there. Daniel’s promised reward is guaranteed.
25. (a) What are some prospects of life in Paradise that appeal to you? (b) Why can it be said that humans belong in Paradise?
25 What, though, about your lot? The same promises can apply to you. Jehovah wants obedient humans to “stand up” for their lot, to have a place in Paradise. Just think! Surely, it will be a thrill to meet Daniel in person, along with other faithful men and women of Bible times. Then there will be countless others returning from the dead, needing instruction so as to know and love Jehovah God. Picture yourself caring for our earthly home and helping to turn it into a paradise of infinite variety and undying beauty. Think of being taught by Jehovah, learning how to live the way he meant mankind to live. (Isaiah 11:9; John 6:45) Yes, there is a place for you in Paradise. Strange though Paradise may sound to some today, remember that Jehovah originally designed mankind to live in such a place. (Genesis 2:7-9) In that sense, Paradise is the natural habitat of earth’s billions. It is where they belong. Reaching it will be like going home.
26. How does Jehovah acknowledge that waiting for the end of this system is not easy for us?
26 Our hearts burn with appreciation when we think of all of this, do they not? Do you yourself not yearn to be there? No wonder, then, that Jehovah’s Witnesses are eager to know when the end of this system of things will come! Waiting is not easy. Jehovah acknowledges as much, for he urges us to “keep in expectation” of the end “even if it should delay.” He means that it may seem to delay from our point of view, for in the same scripture, we are assured: “It will not be late.” (Habakkuk 2:3; compare Proverbs 13:12.) Yes, the end will come right on time.
27. What must you do in order to stand before God throughout eternity?
27 What should you do as the end nears? Like Jehovah’s beloved prophet Daniel, endure faithfully. Study God’s Word diligently. Pray fervently. Lovingly associate with fellow believers. Zealously teach the truth to others. With the end of this wicked system of things drawing closer every day, remain determined to be a loyal servant of the Most High and a staunch advocate of his Word. By all means, pay attention to Daniel’s prophecy! And may the Sovereign Lord Jehovah grant you the privilege of standing before him joyfully throughout all eternity!
b According to The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, the Hebrew word for “stand” used here refers to “revival after death.”
c The Hebrew word is related to the word for “pebble,” as small stones were used for casting lots. Land was sometimes apportioned in this way. (Numbers 26:55, 56) A Handbook on the Book of Daniel says that here the word means “that which is set aside (by God) for a person.”
WHAT DID YOU DISCERN?
• What helped Daniel to endure to the end?
• Why did the prospect of dying hold no terrors for Daniel?
• How will the angel’s promise that Daniel ‘will stand up for his lot’ be fulfilled?
• How have you personally benefited by paying attention to Daniel’s prophecy?
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Like Daniel, do you pay attention to God’s prophetic word?