Monday, November 28th. Daniel 12:1-4

At that time Michael, the great prince, the protector of your people, shall arise. There shall be a time of anguish, such as has never occurred since nations first came into existence. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book. Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. But you, Daniel, keep the words secret and the book sealed until the time of the end. Many shall be running back and forth, and evil shall increase.” Daniel 12:1-4

 

This is quite the reading to begin our first week of Advent.  It is taken from the last vision in the book of Daniel.  Daniel is one of the few examples of apocalyptic literature in the Bible. 

 

Like the book of Revelation and portions of Ezekiel, apocalyptic literature is written during times of severe ordeal – in the case of Daniel, probably in the midst of the struggles and fallout after the Greek domination of Israel.  Common features of apocalyptic writings include the use of visions, dreams, exotic creatures, symbolism and numerology.  All of that is in Daniel and all of that opens a wide door to misinterpretation, misapplication and abuse.

 

The key to listening well to apocalyptic writing is also its danger.  We do well to listen more with our heart than our head, to pay attention to our emotional reactions more than turning it into a mathematical Rubic’s cube of speculation.  Apocalyptic literature is an art form like poetry, painting, and music.  It is better appreciated this way than reduced to a talking head on television warning us that the Russians are coming.

 

The hero in this final vision is Michael, the archangel, God’s bodyguard.  Central to the purpose of the book – encouraging people to faithfulness in the midst of trial and hardship – is the hope that the bad guys will be both defeated and punished while those who remain faithful will be rewarded.  Thus Michael, a biblical superhero, comes in to save the day.

 

My favorite angel story was told to me by Duane Ferchen, my supervising pastor during my internship.  He told me about a Christmas pageant that happened in his first parish, out on the prairie of eastern Montana.  They didn’t have enough children to play all the parts to the roles of the angels were left to the men of the congregation.  He said it was an amazing sight to see six big beefy pot-bellied farmers in their blue jeans and white t-shirts, wings affixed to their shoulders, come thundering down the center aisle of the church to take their place as protectors to the rest of the cast.

 

How could I forget such a vision?  And how could the readers of Daniel not take heart from a book that promises that, in the end, God wins.

 

Let us pray:  Dear Lord, as we enter this Advent season of preparation for Christmas, we pray that this season bring us visions not only of Christmases past but also of the grand future that you are preparing for your people.  May our hope in you sustain us in the midst of whatever is happening in our lives.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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One Response to “Monday, November 28th. Daniel 12:1-4”

  1. Terry Beloncik Says:

    Hi Pastor Kerry,
    This is one of your best! Insightful and humorous! Our Bible Study just finished the Beth Moore study of Daniel a week ago, so I shall print off this devotion to mail to each one of them. Thank you for your messages. Love always, Terry Beloncik

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