Saturday 26 April 2014

Bible Book:

“Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” (vv. 2-3)

Daniel 12:1-13 Saturday 26 April 2014


At the end of Easter Week, having begun with the resurrection ofJesus we now finish with the last chapter of Daniel and a vision ofresurrection.

There are few other references to the resurrection in the HebrewScriptures (Old Testament): three read as resurrection of thenation (eg Ezekiel 37:13-14); there are many references toSheol - a dark place where the dead are separated both from theliving and God, although God is seen as having power over Sheol (egPsalm 139:8). However, there are no others inthe Hebrew Scriptures that come close to a Christian understandingof Resurrection as we see in Jesus.

So in Daniel, this late book in the Hebrew Scriptures, we see adevelopment in the understanding of death and God's kingdom, onethat includes new life after death. New is life not for all - ofthose who awake for some it is good (everlasting life) and forothers bad (shame and everlasting contempt). This matches quiteclosely what we see in John5:25, 29.

Resurrection is clearly developed a great deal in the NewTestament. Jesus talks about it, he raises three people (Jairus'daughter (Luke 8:41-56), the widow's son (Luke7:11-17) and Lazarus (John11:38-44)) and is then raised himself, as he said he would be,"on the third day" (Mark 8:31). Paul explores resurrection in greattheological detail and in recent years Tom Wright has been one theleading theologians taking a new perspective on Paul andresurrection.

Therefore when we read Daniel we do so with much prior knowledgeand expectation regarding resurrection. What then can we take fromDaniel on resurrection? The beginning of verse 12 seems to be key"Happy are those who persevere" - it fits with many of the visionsin Daniel as well as the events in the narrative. Is the messagefrom Daniel for us today that our goal is to persevere thoughwhatever comes our way? God may bring new life while we persevere,but even if not, God still has the ultimate in hand and so we livein hope.

To Ponder

  • Does a call to persevere feel helpful and/or relevant for you?Why?
  • Where does the balance between resurrection now and after deathlie for you?
  • How does your understanding of resurrection help you persevereand live with hope?
  • How do people you know generally understand resurrection? Howmight you together explore different understandings?
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