Go thy way, Daniel: When our questions aren’t answered
by Jonathan S Spurlock
(Holts Summit, MO)
Denomination: Southern Baptist
Text: Daniel 12:1-13
Many of us love the Book of Daniel, and how he stood for God in a pagan land. My late grandmother and one of my aunts used to read from “The Bible Story” collection the stories of Daniel and his friends, many times over. I’ve never forgotten those times, and I’m glad that she and other relatives cared enough to read to a little boy.
We can remember, too, how Daniel explained a dream and its meaning to the king, more than once; how he refused to give up when it meant certain death, and how he prayed for the people of Israel. Chapter 9, for example, has a beautiful prayer that clearly came from Daniel’s heart. God heard the prayer, and answered.
The Hebrews were allowed to return home, out of the Babylonian Captivity, which to many must have been a dream come true. The books of Ezra and Nehemiah give glimpses of life in those days; Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi give us additional portraits of life after the returnees had come home.
Yet, there is one thing that Daniel isn’t given a lot of credit for. He asked questions, and most of them God answered. As we’ll see, God didn’t answer one of Daniel’s questions.
The text is found in Daniel chapter 12:
Dan 12:1-13 KJV 1 And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. 2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever. 4 But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased. 5 Then I Daniel looked, and, behold, there stood other two, the one on this side of the bank of the river, and the other on that side of the bank of the river. 6 And one said to the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, How long shall it be to the end of these wonders? 7 And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished. 8 And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things? 9 And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. 10 Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand. 11 And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days. 12 Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days. 13 But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days.
Our focus is on verse 9, repeated below:
Dan 12:9: And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.
What did Daniel hear?
The narrative for this event actually begins in Chapter 10. Daniel told us when he received this prophecy, and he recorded in detail what God’s messenger told him. This flowed over into chapter 11, giving details about events that would happen many years, hundreds of years, in the future—and all were fulfilled to the letter.
Other parts of those prophecies have not, repeat not, been fulfilled as of yet, but we can be sure that if the other prophecies were fulfilled, the rest will be as well. Allowing that there is some room for debate as to when, exactly, these prophecies will be fulfilled, we have every assurance that what God promised, He will deliver.
What did Daniel ask?
Without going into detail over each prophecy, including the verses just before his question, we can see that Daniel was puzzled over this message, or series of messages. Then, abruptly, Daniel is told to stop writing (see verse 4), but he’s not told why. He asks one of the rare questions in his book, “What shall be the end of these things?” He asked, this question, he said, because he heard but didn’t understand what the people were discussing.
We shouldn’t take Daniel to task, simply because he was asking for an explanation or a clarification of what he heard. After all, he had recorded several messages and interpretations in detail and had never been told to stop.
What explanation did Daniel receive?
Strikingly, Daniel isn’t given a lot of explanation. He’s told “go thy way”, which could be understood as “none of your business”. There are times when God simply closes off the knowledge that, apparently, all of us seek at one time or another. I’m sure Daniel would have loved to know even more specifics about the end of time—was he expecting the kingdom at that moment? The apostles were looking for the kingdom, even at the moments just before Jesus Christ went back to heaven in Acts 1!
He did receive a couple of, seemingly, cryptic messages. The first is that the words were closed, that the wicked would continue to do wickedly; and many would be purified, made white, and tried. He’s then given three specific periods of time, 1260 days, 1290 days, and 1335 days.
What did this mean? We don’t know for sure and I won’t even try to make sense out of something that is obviously “sealed” in Daniel’s time and our time, too. One day, when God opens this bit of information, we’ll understand it clearly, even though it is not so clear now.
Then, he’s told “go thy way” a second time, but there’s a hint of a promise that some of us may not see at first glance. He’s told he will rest and stand in his lot at the end of the days. In my opinion, I think this refers to the time when Christ returns to this earth with his saints, to set up His Kingdom.
In this admittedly brief message, I’ve concentrated on the basics. Daniel had heard many things, in specific detail, and was asking, “What does this mean?” He was told, “Go thy way”, twice, not as a rebuff but as a “That’s all for now”—and God, being Sovereign, does have the right to draw a line as far as specific revelation goes. Daniel did receive a promise, and the first glimpse of two resurrections (see verse 2).
So when God tells us “go thy way”, we can trust Him that there are some things He doesn’t choose to reveal now. Daniel accepted this, stopped writing, and we have the results of what God gave him to write. Like Daniel, we can trust God even if we don’t get an answer to the question/s we asked.
Scripture quotations taken from the King James Version of the Bible.