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Help me with Daniel 12:1-3 especially vs.2, which states: And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
Response: (by Peter Hiett)
Daniel 12:1-3 is certainly a challenging and fascinating text. This is how I think it through:
Does Daniel 12:1-3 nullify all the inclusive texts?
I don’t think it does.
I think it’s describing something that happened at the death of Jesus. Matt. 27:52 describes how saints came out of the tombs and went into the Holy City. The time of the end predicted in Daniel’s prophecy (9:24-27) matches the time of the crucifixion in 33 AD.
What is “everlasting contempt?”
If “everlasting” means “age,” which it very well might (olam in Hebrew often means “a long time”), it might refer to the fact that only some came out of the tombs in Matt. 27:52, but others had to remain in Hades until they submitted to God’s Judgment of Grace in Christ Jesus or until Hades is cast into “the Lake of Fire and theion (Divinity)” and “death is no more” (Revelation 20:14, 21:4).
Daniel 12:1-3, must be parallel to what Jesus is talking about in John 5:28-29. “Some will come out… to the resurrection of life.”
I think these people are already justified by Christ for they “loved the light” (John 3:19-21). The light is “the judgment,” and Jesus is the Light. This is what happens when we come to the cross—we surrender our darkness and submit to the Light; we learn to love the light. “Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal (aionios) life. He does not come into judgment but has passed from death to life” (John 5:24). This person does not come into Judgment because he’s already been judged and justified by Jesus, the Light of the world.
But what happens to those that do not “love the light,” but “love evil?” John 5:29: they “come out to the resurrection of Judgment.” They come out to the resurrection of Judgment because they have not been judged… but this does NOT mean that they can’t be or won’t be saved. It means that they still have to confess their sin and believe the Gospel.
Some English translations mistakenly translate John 5:29 as
“resurrection of damnation”
but that is not what John wrote.
I think Acts 24:15-16 is referring to this same reality. There will be a resurrection of the “just and unjust.”
If there are “just,” it’s only because they’ve been “justified” by Christ and His work on the cross (which is the Judgment of God).
If people are not justified before their body dies, that does NOT mean that they can no longer be justified, in fact, they must rise to face Judgment for they have not yet been justified.
What exactly happens at the resurrection of Judgment, I don’t know… Perhaps, some run from Judgment and spend more time in “outer darkness/ Hades.” Perhaps some repent like Paul on the Damascus road. Perhaps, they all do. Perhaps some are reduced to ashes in the Lake of Fire. But this doesn’t mean that they won’t be made new (God made all of us from ashes in the first place).
We must all die with Christ and be resurrected in Christ. Well in Daniel 12, the “age of contempt,” may refer to something like that—I mean more time in Hades…
Beyond the above-mentioned ideas, I think there is another fascinating possibility or two. Read Ezekiel 16:53-63 in a good translation like the ESV—sadly some old versions just totally mistranslated this section of Scripture because they were so offended by God’s grace.
In Ezekiel 16:60 God promises to save Jerusalem with an “everlasting covenant.” But then the Lord goes on to say that they will be “ashamed” when they watch Him restore Sodom and Samaria and that they will never brag over Sodom again when He “atones” for all their sin (16:63).
He seems to be saying that Grace will humble them, and this “humility” or “shame” will be their state in Heaven after He has atoned for all their sin. It’s not a bad thing but a beautiful thing. We will forever sing, “Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.” And rejoice in the realization of our own wretchedness filled with Grace.
I think CS Lewis expressed this thought best in the following quote from The Problem of Pain:
“All times are eternally present to God. Is it not at least possible that along some one
line of His multi-dimensional eternity He sees you forever in the nursery pulling the wings
off a fly, forever in toadying, lying, and lusting as a schoolboy, forever in that moment of
cowardice or insolence as a subaltern?
It may be that salvation consists not in the canceling of these eternal moments but in
the perfected humility that bears the shame forever, rejoicing in the occasion which
it furnished to God’s compassion and glad that it should be common knowledge to
the universe. Perhaps in that eternal moment St. Peter—he will forgive me
if I am wrong—forever denies his Master. If so, it would indeed be true that the joys of
Heaven are, for most of us in our present condition, ‘an acquired taste’—
and certain ways of life may render the taste impossible of acquisition.
Perhaps the lost are those who dare not go to such a public place.”
Well, of course, I believe that no one can stay lost forever without end, but I think Lewis is tapping into a deep truth. Rejoicing in the fact that you are found is also rejoicing in the fact that you were once lost.
It’s extremely interesting to me that the word translated “contempt” (daraownin Hebrew) only shows up in one other place in Scripture. That’s Isaiah 66:24. This Scripture used to terrify me, but now it fills me with the greatest hope. If you read Isaiah 66 literally, you can only conclude that “all people,” or “all flesh” (Isaiah 66:23,24) will one day walk out of the New Jerusalem and look down on “all corpses,” “all dead bodies” burning in the Valley of Gehenna.
And now this is the one other place the word is used:
Those corpses “will be an abhorrence (daraown) to all flesh.”
I think Isaiah is saying what John and Paul develop in a much greater way. That is that each of us, have an “old man” and a “new man.” One day each new man will look down upon his old man and abhor that old man and praise God for making each of us, and all of us, new.
I will look down on my old corpse and praise God for
delivering me from that old body of death.
I think Daniel 12:1-3 may be alluding to all of these things, but it in no way nullifies all the Scripture that declares that God will make all things new.