Today’s readings.. (2 Chronicles 32), (Daniel 12), (Acts 13)
Today we completed reading the challenging book of Daniel. Some of the things we read were plain to understand but the phrase “the time of end” occurs 4 times [11 v.35,40; 12 v.4,9] and challenges our understanding – and it is hard to know how to answer the challenge. We would love to more fully understand it. On the final occasion Daniel writes, “the words are shut up and sealed until the time of the end”. Are we now about to see what they mean? We can see what some probably mean – 12 v.4 says “many shall rush to and fro” – well exactly 63 years ago I was on my way to Australia from England and the trip took 30 days, more recently it took me 24 hours! How long did it take Capt. Cook?
The same verse also says, “knowledge shall be increased” That is remarkably true within my lifetime, but my grandparents were seeing a considerable increase in knowledge in theirs! Today, we wonder what the world’s scientists and technology wizards will discover and invent next!
But what about the references in Chapter 11? The clue in the New Testament is the way the Gospels describe some events then happening as fulfilling the words of the prophets. [eg. Matthew 1 v.22; 2 v.15,17,23 4 v.14 etc] So the prophecies are not so much given to make us seem clever in knowing events before they happen, but to confirm our faith when we see them happen.
Chapter 11 intrigues us. It shows there will be “a king of the north” at the time of the end [v.40] who overwhelms a king in the south. The context makes it clear this is north and south of God’s Holy Land. The aggressor goes south into Egypt and the adjoining countries. Today these are both Islamic – he gains their “treasures” (oil?) Then “news from the east and north alarm him” [v.44] and he reacts with fury to try to destroy the cause, and starts by establishing himself “between the sea and the glorious Holy mountain” (surely Jerusalem).
But then!! The text states, “yet he shall come to his end with none to help him” and “at that time shall arise Michael”. Who is he? He is one of God’s chief angels we read about in Ch. 10 and “he has charge of your (God’s chosen) people. And there shall be a time of trouble such as never has been since there was a nation till that time” [12 v.1] Jesus elaborates on these words (e.g. Luke 21 v.25,26). Then the resurrection of the good and the bad takes place, the good are identified as having their names written in the book (of life – see Philippians 4 v.3) but only they receive “everlasting life” We are surely living in “the time of the end” – we can see the outline but not the detail, but coming events will make the clues plainer to those who know God’s scriptures. But the most important thing for us personally is in Ch. 12 v.10 which ends, “… but those who are wise shall understand.”