January 31, 2012

Apocalypse Prophecy XI: Canon and Catagorization

Daniel In Relation to the Rest of Scripture and History

As aforementioned the Hebrew Bible places Daniel in the “Writings”. The Septuagint LXX puts it among the Prophets after Ezekiel which is also the order followed by the English translators. Although Daniel is read among the prophets, Daniel goes further than any of the prophets in unveiling God’s future purpose for the world as I have already noted. Because of this it is therefore classed as “apocalyptic” and "prohecy" which amounts to disclosing what God has appointed for history. His supernatural intervention and interaction was to be a basis of hope and promise of what happens when God’s reign and Kingdom encroaches or enters the Creation as it was originally intended.

As we know from Genesis, human rebellion against God resulted in death and expulsion from the garden, where the tree of life was situated (Gen 3). Ironically, Daniel starts with expulsion from the land by a powerful nation that worships other gods which is more or less the culmination and end game of people that have completely fallen or apostatized form God. Human rebellion has come full circle and reaches its culmination in the fourth beast. Hope has to be centered in divine intervention because believers themselves are helpless. In Daniel what we see matters most is “to put an end to sin” and “to bring in everlasting righteousness” (9:24).

What is even stranger is we see a period of continued suffering and this suffering is foreseen even for God’s Anointed (9:26), but in the disclosure from heaven there is one like a Son of Man in the presence of God (7:9-14)…we see the efficiency of God’s saving power. It is here that we see His kingdom is heavenly and eternal. Those who would enter it must be made spotless or holy (12:10). They must also remain faithful and wait on God (12:11-13). It is clear Jesus saw his own mission in the Son of Man of  Daniel and referred to Daniel by name (Matt 24:15) when he spoke of the desecration and destruction of Herod’s temple.

It is the very destruction of the Temple and the lifting up and exalting of Jesus that we begin to see the power and scope of God’s plan. It is absolutely massive, eternally far-reaching and profound beyond words. These episodes in Daniel pervade the Gospels and then even reach to the end of time in Revelation 1:14. John uses the theophany of Daniel 7:9-10 to describe the exalted Jesus, who is identified with God as the “one like a Son of Man” who is judge in the final judgment in Rev 14:14 & Dan 7:13, 22.

The message of judgment given by the pre-exilic prophets was fulfilled in the fall of Jerusalem; the sins of all Israel brought about this judgment of God (Dan 9:7-14). Conversely, there is also expectation that God in his mercy will forgive his people’s sin and restore his sanctuary in Jerusalem (9:15-19; cf. Ezra 1:1-4; 6:17-18). Throughout the book of Daniel (and the Bible) God vindicates individuals who trust him, delivering them from death and revealing his truth to them-just as we saw in Jeremiah’s Lamentations. For the first time we see the focus for the future no longer centers on Jerusalem and its restoration under a Davidic king. The “Beautiful Land” will be under threat (Dan 11:41), and the city and sanctuary will again be destroyed (9:26). God’s purpose for Israel involves suffering in a geopolitical world (global) context.

It is here that we begin to realize that God’s Kingdom embraces all the powers of heaven and earth in a never-ending dominion that is given to a human figure, whom all nations are to worship (7:13-14). The one- the only-Jesus Christ! Help for “God’s people” in this massive struggle, which is downright frightening, will be found in the leadership of God’s heavenly man (7:14, 27), whose sovereignty transcends death. Within the text is the inference that a long time will elapse before the world’s suffering will end and God’s kingdom is seen to finally triumph eternally in the end.

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