28 November 2020Daniel 7:15-27
'As for me, Daniel, my spirit was troubled within me, and the visions of my head terrified me.' (v. 15)
If you found yourself puzzling over yesterday’s reading and what the vision was all about, take heart – it seems that Daniel was also confused! Seeking some clarification, in the passage today Daniel receives some interpretation.
As with the statue in Tuesday’s reading, the various beasts each represent a different kingdom, and the horns various kings to come out of one of them. Also as with the statue, opinion is divided as to which kingdoms they relate to. For some, especially those who feel the Book of Daniel may have been written in its current form during the second century BC, the kingdoms go from Babylon up to the contemporary kingdom, which followed the rule of Alexander the Great. The current ruler at the time, Antiochus IV, called himself ‘Epiphanes’ (indicating a revelation from God), and certainly fitted the character traits of the arrogant final horn.
Others see the vision stretching further ahead and predicting the rise of the Roman empire. This can certainly be an appealing interpretation to Christians who view the ‘one like a human being’ (7:13) as meaning Jesus. The term is literally, ‘one like a son of man’. Again, opinion is divided as to whether it originally meant a specific person, or whether it indicated the broader people of God. Whatever the intention, by the time of Jesus it had become a title by which people understood the Messiah.
If we take it for a moment that it did mean a specific person, the Messiah, it presents an interesting development in the concept. For a long time, people had been familiar with the Messianic hope that someone from the house of David would sit on the throne for ever, when the kingdom of God was established, centred on Jerusalem. However, that suggests a purely physical birth of an ‘ordinary’ human being. The image presented here of the Messiah is one who comes from the throne room of God.
If you read the final verse of the chapter, you will find Daniel still troubled by the vision he had received, but continuing to mull it all over. It is an encouragement to us all, even when we find some aspect of faith difficult or troubling, we do not have to deny our troubles, but we should continue to consider and reflect.
- How do you respond to any aspects of faith or Scripture that you find difficult or troubling? How easy is it to share with Christian friends?
- Can you remember someone who has helped you think about a passage of Scripture differently? How did they help you?