Saturday

2 December 2017

Daniel 7:15-27

“The holy ones of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom for ever.” (v. 18)

Psalm: Psalm 130


Background

Our passage continues the interpretation of Daniel's dream described in the earlier part of chapter 7. The four great beasts represent the various empires that in succession dominated the Near East in the centuries before Christ.

All the interest concentrates on the last such empire and its latest embodiment, generally agreed by scholars to be Antiochus IV Epiphanes around the year 167 bc. He was especially aggressive towards the Jews. Note in verse 25 his attempt to revise Jewish worship practices.

By referring to these empires in a vision seen centuries before, the writer is assuring his readers that these events and their long years of suffering are known to God, who remains in overall control, and the time of their liberation is near at hand. The mysterious "time, two times and half a time" in verse 25 (half of seven, the perfect number) underlines the short-lived nature of Antiochus' rule.

The outcome will be that God will abolish these alien powers and God's direct rule will begin. Its citizens will be God's faithful worshippers, and the kingdom will be universal and eternal (verse 27).


To Ponder

  • Does it invalidate the message of this passage that historically the reign of Antiochus was not succeeded by the direct rule of God but by the Roman empire? If so, why? If not, why not?
  • To what extent is it fanciful to believe that one day true believers will rule the world? Who might those true believers be?
  • Many Christians today are suffering for their faith (as are many Jews). What might today's passage say to them?

Bible notes author

The Revd Brian Beck

Brian Beck is a Methodist minister, now retired, and a former president and secretary of the Methodist Conference. A large part of his ministry has been spent in theological education, both in Limuru, Kenya, and in Cambridge, England..