A wonderful end time theme in the book of Daniel relates to the timing of the Lord's return. Daniel provides us with several clues. The first is found in Daniel 9:24-27 in the prophecy of the 70 Weeks of Years.
In this famous prophecy, Daniel tells us that all the prophecies concerning the Jewish people will be fulfilled at the end of a period of 490 years. His prophecy then makes it clear that there will be a gap between the first 483 years and the final 7 years. We know from the book of Revelation that the final 7 years of this prophecy will constitute the Great Tribulation when God will pour out His wrath upon the rebellious nations of the world and in the process will bring the Jewish people to the end of themselves, resulting in the salvation of a great remnant.
So, the first clue as to the timing of the Lord's return is that it will take place at the end of the Tribulation. This timing is confirmed in the New Testament book of Revelation (19:1-16).
Daniel establishes this timing again in chapter 12. There he refers to the Great Tribulation as "a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time" (Daniel 12:1). He says that some of the Jewish people will be "rescued" at the end of this terrible period at the time when the rest of the Jewish righteous will be resurrected. Again, this is at the end of the Tribulation and will occur when the Messiah returns. (This "rescue" is described in Zechariah 12:10.)
Chapter 12 of Daniel provides us with two more clues as to when the Messiah will return. These clues are what we call "signs of the times." The first is found in verse 4 where Daniel is told that the fulfillment of all the prophecies he has been given (including, of course, the return of the Messiah) will occur at "the end of time" when travel and knowledge will be greatly increased. That explosion occurred during the 20th Century and continues to accelerate to this very day.
Then, in verses 8 and 9 Daniel is told that his prophecies will not be understood until "the end time." We must be in that time today for we are now understanding end time prophecies that no one has ever understood before due to historical developments and technological inventions.
For example, most end time prophecies revolve around a reestablished nation of Israel. How could those prophecies be understood before the re-establishment of Israel in 1948, an event that most people denied could ever happen right up to the very day that it occurred?
And then there are many prophecies that could never be understood apart from modern technological inventions. How could the whole world look upon two bodies lying in the streets of Jerusalem (Revelation 11:9)? Satellite television has made that possible. How could one-third of the earth be burned up in warfare (Revelation 8:7)? The advent of nuclear weapons has made this possible. The list goes on and on.
Daniel's incredible prophecies make it clear that both wrath and glory lie before us. We are on the threshold of terrible days of Tribulation, but they will be followed by a glorious age when all the saints of God, both Old and New Testament, will reign with Jesus in their glorified bodies over all the nations of the earth.
Daniel's prophecies also make it clear that God is in control. He is on the throne, He is directing the course of human events, and He has the wisdom and power to orchestrate all the evil of Satan and Man to the triumph of His Son.
The overriding theme of Daniel is the absolute sovereignty of God. As we try to cope with the increasingly pagan and evil world we live in, let us be reminded of the words of Daniel recorded in chapter 2, verses 20-23a:
"Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever,
For wisdom and power belong to Him.
And it is He who changes the times and the epochs;
He removes kings and establishes kings;
He gives wisdom to wise men,
And knowledge to men of understanding.
It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things;
He knows what is in the darkness,
And the light dwells in Him.
To Thee, O God of my fathers,
I give thanks and praise..."