22 April 2014Daniel 7:1-28
“As I watched in the night visions, I saw one like a human being coming with the clouds of heaven. And he came to the Ancient One and was presented before him.” (v. 13)
How many times do we jump straight to reading Jesus into the text when reading a prophetic vision? Particularly when reading this vision in Easter week with the resurrection of Jesus fresh in our minds, the temptation is strong to jump in and immediately see this "human being" as Jesus. With snippets of the language of the Book of Revelation in our heads a human figure coming from heaven and being given kingship seems a clear fit - surely it must be Jesus.
While we are generally encouraged to read the Hebrew Scriptures in the light of Jesus, some caution about our motivations behind reading Jesus into this vision seems sensible. Are we doing so to shore up our faith in the resurrection and return of Jesus? Are we doing so as part of an argument to convince others of the truth of the resurrection or the second coming of Jesus? How well can this vision do either? It is quite frequently used this way in arguments but do we know anyone brought to faith by this evidence that Jesus is the Son of God, that he lived, died and was raised from the dead?
However, not seeing the human being as Jesus does not take anything away from this vision. If we read it again resisting the temptation to put Jesus in there, it can make it easier to engage with the way this vision forms part of a challenge to an oppressive regime. We see that oppressive regime may follow oppressive regime, but they are challenged and eventually there is the hope that the kingdom of God will appear.
At a time when it is easy to get discouraged by the state of the world, about growing inequality and about the multitude of ways in which we see people oppressed perhaps we need a new vision of oppression challenged and the coming of God's kingdom.
- What forms of oppression are you most aware of and which bothers you most? Why?
- How does any oppression you have experienced compare to the oppression you see elsewhere?
- What is your vision for God's kingdom beyond the oppression you see today?
- What helps you challenge oppression? How might you help and encourage others to also challenge oppression?