Reflections on Daniel

I finished reading Daniel a couple of days ago and I'm still reflecting on what I learned from it. It's a difficult book in many ways - even the 'easy' chapters - and it's hard to know quite what to do with it when it's so far outside my experience and talks about things that seem irrelevant to me.

One thing to which I keep coming back is that God is in control of all things, even the bad things. In one way it seems like the early chapters, which focus on events that happen to Daniel, are a prelude to the later chapters that focus on things that happen on a much larger scale. God was in control of the smaller things and therefore can be trusted with the bigger things. The later chapters also show that God is not unaware of suffering; nor is it outside his control or outside his plans for the world (or the individual). There is plenty of suffering prophesied in Daniel, but it's never unexpected and never takes God by surprise. In chapter 11 there is a lot of stuff about a powerful and evil king who will arise, yet the chapter makes clear that "he shall come to his end, with none to help him" (11 v 45). God was in control of the king's demise AND in control of his initial rise to power. All of it was God's plan. Makes me think twice about some political leaders who haven't impressed me... I think I've been trying to ignore the bits in the Bible about God appointing the rulers and authorities... ;-)

Daniel ends with a vision of what will happen when the suffering is complete:

"...there shall be a time of trouble, such has never been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. 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." (Daniel 12:1-2)

It reminded me what prayers for world peace and justice really mean - they are prayers for Jesus to return to judge the world. That's a pretty sobering thought, particularly in light of the many people I love who do not know Jesus.


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