Michael the Great Prince Stands Up
“And during that time Michael will stand up, the great prince who is standing in behalf of the sons of your people.”—DANIEL 12:1.
1. What future course of world events is foreseen in the Bible, and what question arises about God’s people because of this?
JEHOVAH has given fair warning: There will never be peace on earth as long as the rivalry between the king of the north and the king of the south continues. These two powers would always have conflicting interests. Moreover, at the climax of their enmity, the king of the north will threaten the spiritual estate of God’s people before he ‘comes all the way to his end.’ (Daniel 11:44, 45) Will God’s people survive the assault? And what happens to the king of the south when his great rival comes to his end?
2, 3. (a) What prophecy do we find in the book of Ezekiel that helps us to understand the prophecy about the king of the north and the king of the south? (b) According to Ezekiel’s prophecy, what will be the outcome of the great final attack on God’s people?
2 A prophecy by Daniel’s contemporary Ezekiel helps us to answer these questions. Ezekiel, too, was inspired to speak about “the final part of the days,” and he warned of a coming attack of ‘Gog of Magog’ against the land of God’s people. (Ezekiel 38:2, 14-16; Daniel 10:14) In that prophecy, Gog pictured Satan, and his armies pictured all of Satan’s earthly agents who would make a last, desperate attempt to wipe out God’s people. Since this attack, like that of the king of the north, takes place in the final part of the days, it is reasonable to conclude that the king of the north’s ‘planting of his palatial tents between the grand sea and the holy mountain of Decoration’ is in support of Gog’s attack. (Daniel 11:40, 45) Will the attack succeed?
3 Ezekiel prophesied: “‘It must occur in that day, in the day when Gog comes in upon the soil of Israel,’ is the utterance of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah, ‘that my rage will come up into my nose. And I will bring myself into judgment with him, with pestilence and with blood; and a flooding downpour and hailstones, fire and sulphur I shall rain down upon him and upon his bands and upon the many peoples that will be with him.’” (Ezekiel 38:18, 22) No, the attack will not succeed. True Christians will be rescued, and Gog’s crowd will be destroyed.—Ezekiel 39:11.
4. Will the king of the south survive the end of the king of the north? What other prophecies support this answer?
4 Evidently, then, the time of the end of the king of the north is the time of the end for Gog and all his crowd, including the king of the south. This harmonizes with other prophecies in the book of Daniel. For example, we read that after God’s Kingdom was established, it would “crush and put an end to all these kingdoms [including both the king of the north and the king of the south], and it itself will stand to times indefinite.” (Daniel 2:44) Also, in Daniel’s vision of the ram and the he-goat, the Anglo-American political power is represented by a little horn. This little horn, “in the final part of their kingdom,” is destroyed by a superhuman agency, not by the king of the north: “It will be without [human] hand that he will be broken.”—Daniel 7:24-27; 8:3-10, 20-25.
Michael the Great Prince
5. Who will be Jehovah’s Chief Agent for the salvation of His people, and why is this fitting?
5 The angel next reveals the Agent that Jehovah will use to bring about the end of all these powers. He says: “And during that time Michael will stand up, the great prince who is standing in behalf of the sons of your people. And there will certainly occur a time of distress such as has not been made to occur since there came to be a nation until that time. And during that time your people will escape, every one who is found written down in the book.” (Daniel 12:1) At the beginning of the angel’s prophecy, Michael was reported as fighting for Israel against the princes of Persia and Greece. (Daniel 10:20, 21) Now, as the prophecy draws to a close, this same Michael is “standing” for Daniel’s people. Who is this champion of the people of God?
6, 7. (a) According to some scholars of Christendom, who is Michael? (b) What Biblical evidence helps us to make a proper identification of Michael?
6 Back in the early 1800’s, Bible scholar Joseph Benson stated that the description of Michael as found in the Bible “manifestly points out the Messiah.” Nineteenth-century Lutheran E. W. Hengstenberg agreed that “Michael is no other than Christ.” Similarly, theologian J. P. Lange, when commenting on Revelation 12:7, wrote: “We take it that Michael . . . is, from the outset, Christ in warlike array against Satan.” Does the Bible support this identification? Yes, it does.*
7 For example, according to the angel, Michael is to “stand up.” In the angel’s prophecy, “to stand” or “to stand up” (Hebrew, ‛a·madhʹ) can mean “to give support.” (Daniel 11:1) It can also variously imply “to prevail,” “to rebel,” “to oppose,” or “to withstand.” (Daniel 11:6, 11, 14, 15, 16a, 17, 25) But frequently, it refers to the action of a king, either taking up his royal power or acting effectively in his capacity as king. (Daniel 11:2-4, 7, 16b, 20, 21, 25) This is the meaning that fits best the angel’s words in Daniel 12:1. And it certainly supports the fact that Michael is Jesus Christ, since Jesus is Jehovah’s appointed King, commissioned to destroy all the nations at Armageddon. (Revelation 11:15; 16:14-16; 19:11-16) It also harmonizes with the other prophecies that point to the time when God’s Kingdom, under Jesus Christ, acts against this world’s nations.—Daniel 2:44; 7:13, 14, 26, 27.
8, 9. (a) Who were ‘Daniel’s people’ originally, and who are they now? (b) How has Michael’s keen interest in ‘Daniel’s people’ been shown throughout the ages?
8 Michael has long been associated with ‘Daniel’s people,’ the Israelites. He was with them in the wilderness, and he supported them against the spirit “princes” of ancient empires. (Daniel 10:13, 21; Exodus 23:20, 21; Jude 9) And he was born on earth as the man Jesus to be the long-hoped-for Messiah, the “seed” promised to Daniel’s ancestor Abraham. (Genesis 22:16-18; Galatians 3:16; Acts 2:36) Sadly, natural Israel as a whole rejected Jesus; hence, Jehovah rejected them as his special nation. (Matthew 21:43; John 1:11) He determined to put his name on a new nation, a spiritual “Israel of God,” made up of both natural Jews and non-Jews who put faith in Jesus.—Galatians 6:16; Acts 15:14; 1 Peter 2:9, 10.
9 This new nation, the anointed Christian congregation, began life in 33 C.E., and thereafter it served as the Israel of God. This would henceforth be ‘Daniel’s people.’ (Romans 2:28, 29) Before his resurrection to heaven in 33 C.E., Jesus promised continued support for ‘Daniel’s people’ when he told prospective members of that new Israel: “Look! I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.”—Matthew 28:20; Ephesians 5:23, 25-27.
“Standing” for Daniel’s People
10. According to the angel’s words to Daniel, how is Michael going to act decisively, and what questions does this raise?
10 But now the angel says that Michael is going to act in a particular way. Using the word ‘stand’ twice, he says: “And during that time Michael will stand up, the great prince who is standing in behalf of the sons of your people.” (Daniel 12:1) What does it mean that Jesus ‘stands up’? And how can he “stand up” if he is already “standing in behalf of [Daniel’s] people”? Before we answer these questions, consider some background information.
11. In what way would it be proper to say that Jesus has been “standing” since 1914?
11 After his resurrection in 33 C.E., Jesus told his followers: “All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth.” (Matthew 28:18) Jesus has long exercised such authority over his anointed servants on earth. (Colossians 1:13) However, the time had not yet come for Jesus to exercise authority as King of God’s Kingdom. Rather, after his ascension he ‘sat at God’s right hand in heaven’ until the time for the establishment of that Kingdom. (Psalm 110:1, 2; Acts 2:34, 35) That time came in 1914, “the time appointed.” (Daniel 11:29) In that year, Jesus was enthroned as reigning King of God’s Kingdom and immediately, as Michael the archangel, he cast Satan out of heaven. (Revelation 11:15; 12:5-9) So since 1914 Jesus has been “standing” as King.—Psalm 2:6.
12, 13. What outstanding blessings have God’s people enjoyed in the years since 1914, showing that Jesus has been ‘standing for Daniel’s people’?
12 Jesus’ “standing” has been a great blessing for ‘the sons of Daniel’s people.’ His taking up of royal power and casting Satan to the earth cleansed their future heavenly home. (John 14:2, 3) Thereafter, those who had already died faithful could be resurrected to their heavenly inheritance. (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17) The remnant of them still on earth suffered considerable persecution during the first world war, which almost stopped their preaching work. But in 1919 they were resuscitated and brought forth on the world scene as a new nation.—Isaiah 66:7, 8; Revelation 9:14; 11:11, 12.
13 After that, Jesus fulfilled his promise to “collect out from his kingdom all things that cause stumbling and persons who are doing lawlessness.” (Matthew 13:41) In this way, he has maintained a clean congregation of anointed Christians who have ‘known their God, prevailed, and acted effectively.’ They have preached the good news of the Kingdom around the earth, thus ‘imparting understanding to the many.’ (Daniel 11:32, 33; Matthew 24:14) Since 1935 Jehovah has joined to this congregation a growing number of “other sheep,” who entertain an earthly hope and who have faithfully shared in the work of preaching the good news of God’s Kingdom.—John 10:16; Revelation 7:9, 14, 15.
14. What has been the result of Jesus’ ‘standing for Daniel’s people’ throughout the last days?
14 The very existence of this group of Christians today is remarkable. In a politically divided world, they have maintained strict neutrality as subjects of God’s Kingdom. (John 17:14) As a result, they have suffered persecution at the hands of both kings. False religion, too, has schemed and plotted to have them wiped out of existence. Instead of that happening, they have prospered and today are found in more than 200 lands and number well over three million faithful individuals. They enjoy a spiritual paradise under Christ’s rule that is in stark contrast to the darkness and despondency of this world. (Isaiah 65:13, 14) Thus, Jesus has been “standing in behalf of the sons of [Daniel’s] people” all throughout these last days.—Daniel 12:1.
Michael ‘Stands Up’
15. In what way does Jesus “stand up,” and when does this occur?
15 So how is it that Jesus, who is already “standing,” ‘stands up’ at that time? (Daniel 12:1) In that his rulership enters a new phase, as it were. It is time for him to act in an outstanding way to save ‘Daniel’s people’ from annihilation at the hands of human governments. (Ezekiel 38:18, 19) The “time” referred to here is evidently “the time of the end” of the king of the north and the king of the south, when the king of the north threatens the spiritual estate of God’s people. (Daniel 11:40-45) Before this time, Jesus’ rulership has been taken seriously only by his faithful earthly subjects. (Psalm 2:2, 3) Now, though, it is time for “the revelation of the Lord Jesus,” when everyone will be forced to recognize his kingship. (2 Thessalonians 1:7, 8) This will involve the destruction of all opposing forces, followed by the Thousand Year Reign of Jesus and his corulers, when the Kingdom will be the only government over mankind.—Revelation 19:19-21; 20:4.
16. What is the result of Jesus’ ‘standing up’ to the ungodly nations?
16 In agreement with this, the angel says that when Michael stands up, “there will certainly occur a time of distress such as has not been made to occur since there came to be a nation until that time.” (Daniel 12:1; compare Matthew 24:21.) It will be a time for the destruction of the wicked and salvation for the faithful. (Proverbs 2:21, 22) Listen to the terrified reaction of unfaithful mankind at that time: “They keep saying to the mountains and to the rock-masses: ‘Fall over us and hide us from the face of the One seated on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb, because the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?’”—Revelation 6:16, 17.
17. What will then happen to Satan’s earthly forces, including the king of the north and the king of the south?
17 The result of this “time of distress” on Satan’s earthly forces is described in Ezekiel’s prophecy against Gog of Magog: “On the mountains of Israel you will fall, you and all your bands and the peoples that will be with you.” (Ezekiel 39:4) Jeremiah, speaking of the same time of distress, said: “Those slain by Jehovah will certainly come to be in that day from one end of the earth clear to the other end of the earth.” (Jeremiah 25:33) It will be a time of distress indeed. Jesus will end the long history of human warfare when he ‘stands up’ to remove the human powers that are responsible.—Psalm 46:9; 1 Corinthians 15:25.
Survivors of “a Time of Distress”
18. (a) What will be the experience of true worshipers when Michael ‘stands up’? (b) What does it mean to be “written down in the book”?
18 While God’s people will feel the effects of enemy hostility, this will be “a time of distress” primarily for the wicked. (Psalm 37:20) The angel tells Daniel: “And during that time your people will escape, every one who is found written down in the book.” (Daniel 12:1) Many of ‘the sons of Daniel’s people’ will have died and received their heavenly reward by this time. These ones will undoubtedly share with Michael in this great military victory. (Revelation 2:26, 27; Psalm 2:8, 9) The ones remaining on earth will have no share in the fighting; but they will be integrity keepers, so they will be survivors. (Revelation 17:14; 19:7, 8) Their companions, the “great crowd,” too, will be survivors. (Revelation 7:9, 14) Both the anointed remnant and the “other sheep” will thus prove to be “found written down in the book,” that is, their names will be on record as being in line to receive the gift of eternal life, either in heaven or on earth.—John 10:16; Exodus 32:32, 33; Malachi 3:16; Revelation 3:5.
19. (a) How will Michael’s ‘standing up’ bring peace to the earth? (b) What question remains to be answered?
19 These will be privileged to see the establishment of a genuine earth-wide peace. They will witness the fulfillment of Jehovah’s promise: “For evildoers themselves will be cut off, but those hoping in Jehovah are the ones that will possess the earth.” (Psalm 37:9) Because God’s Kingdom will then be the sole government over the earth, every human alive will be a servant of Jehovah. (Isaiah 11:9) Thus, at “the time of the end” of the two kings, Michael “will stand up” to bring peace to mankind. No superpower arms buildup or other maneuvers can stop this development. Does that mean, though, that we have to wait until then to enjoy peace? No, there is a peace that Christians can enjoy even now—really, a better kind of peace than the mere absence of war. What is this peace? The angel’s prophecy to Daniel goes on to shed light on this.
Since Michael is called an archangel, some feel that identifying him as Jesus detracts in some way from Jesus’ dignity or rank. (Jude 9) Yet, the evidence for such an identification led the above-mentioned scholars of Christendom to recognize Michael as Jesus despite the fact that they presumably believed in the Trinity.
Do You Remember?
□ Who is Michael the Great Prince?
□ Who are Daniel’s people today?
□ How is Michael now standing for Daniel’s people?
□ How will Michael soon stand up in an outstanding way?
□ Who will survive the time of Michael’s standing up?
[Picture on page 16]
A last desperate attempt to wipe out God’s people will fail—but how?
[Picture on page 18]
Salvation will come to God’s people when Michael ‘stands up’ to end the rivalry of the two kings