27 November 2010

Daniel 7:15-27

"But the holy ones of the Most High shall the kingdom and possess the kingdom for ever - forever and ever." (v. 18)


What do you think of the idea of 'the end times' or 'the second coming of Christ'? Many individuals both inside and outside of the Christian Church view this idea as one held mainly by eccentrics (and that's the polite way of putting it!).

However, there are two books in the Christian Bible that are apocalyptic - that deal with the end times - Daniel and Revelation. Besides focusing on the end times, apocalyptic literature has two other distinguishing features: disclosure of the supernatural world (usually by angels) and the judgement of individuals.

Although the images in apocalyptic texts are eccentric, they speak of a core idea in both Jewish and Christian tradition: that human history has a goal and purpose. Christianity is not a religion that believes in a neverending wheel of life going round and round. Rather it looks forward to some kind of perfection of creation in the future, sometimes called the new creation and sometimes called the kingdom of God or kingdom of heaven.

Today's reading from the book of Daniel continues an ongoing lament about the attempt of the Persian king Antiochus Epiphanes to destroy the Jewish way of life. Epiphanes would ultimately desecrate the Temple, thus inciting the Maccabean revolt in the second century BC.

But readers are also assured in verse 18 that God will have the final word "forever - forever and ever", a stylistic code which indicates the final and enduring state of God's kingdom. This is what God has promised that history is moving toward.

Traditionally the Christian Church has named Jesus as the King of Kings; his reign of justice and righteousness is held forth as the model for all governments in every place and time. The kingdom over which Jesus reigns is to be the model for all human life for all time; it is the end toward which all human history looks.

To Ponder

What do you think of the idea of 'the end times' or 'the second coming of Christ'?

Christianity sees human history as having a final goal in contrast to a view of human history as an ongoing cycle of birth, death and new life. Which of these patterns has the most meaning for you and why?

What, if anything, does it mean for your faith-life that Jesus is the King of Kings?

Bible notes author

The Revd Pam Garrud

Pam is an ordained minister in the Methodist Church in Britain. In August 2009, Pam and her London-born husband Trevor moved to Pam's native United States for family reasons.