For the Love of God, Volume 2/October 27
From Gospel Translations
2 Kings 8; 1 Timothy 5; Daniel 12; Psalm 119:49-72
REGARDING THE LAST CHAPTER OF Daniel (Dan. 12):
(1) The chapter division (which was not part of the original text) obscures the flow of the passage. Daniel 11:40-45 should be read with 12:1-4. As is pretty common in Hebrew prophecy, a vision of future history (11:2-39) suddenly slips over into a longer perspective. The expression “At the time of the end” (11:40) is ambiguous: it could refer to the end of the oppression of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, but several elements in the paragraph stretch way beyond his brief years—and 12:1-4 announces resurrection at the end of history, before which a period of terrible distress must take place. This confirms the canonical importance of the preceding chapter (see yesterday’s meditation): in Daniel, the people of God learn to suffer for no other reason than their allegiance to the Word of God. In the closing verses of the chapter (12:5-13), there again seems to be anticipation of another like Antiochus IV Epiphanes. The reference to “time, times, and half a time” (12:7) probably means “a year, [two] years, a half a year”—i.e., three-and-a-half years, just as in 8:14 with respect to the cruel rage of Antiochus. It has thus become a conventional way of speaking of a shortened period of extreme suffering through which the people of God must go before God relieves them—and this is in anticipation of the final suffering at the end (12:1).
(2) The closing up and sealing of the scroll until the time of the end (12:4, 9) does not signal esoteric knowledge. Partly it has to do with preserving the scroll intact. It also suggests that the full sweep of its anticipatory and prophetic truth will not be grasped until the events to which it refers arrive on the scene. Even when the events break out, some will not see—just as some did not “see” what Jesus was saying in his parables (Matt. 13:14-15), and some do not “see” what the Gospel is all about (1 Cor. 2:14).
(3) In verse 7 the man swears “by him who lives forever.” There are two elements in what this “man clothed in linen” says. First, the tone (attested by the oath) combined with the assertion that “all these things will be completed” shows that in the last analysis there are no contingencies with God: he knows the end from the beginning, and can guarantee outcomes. Second, the final relief will come when “the power of the holy people has been finally broken” (12:7). It was not broken under Antiochus IV Epiphanes. This must be referring to something at the end, making the reign of Antiochus a ghastly advance shadow of what was to come.
(4) Meditate on 12:1-3.