February 21, 2012

Apocalypse Prophecy XXII: Suffering & The Unity/Consistency of Daniel

Chapter 8: Helping The Faithful Wrestle With Why The Innocent Must Suffer

There is the theme or idea that sin must run its course before it is punished. It is a reoccurring theme throughout Scripture and starts as early as Genesis 15:16 and God’s delayed action against the Amorite until is plainly obvious to all that they are in need of and deserve punishment.

Judgment is therefore delayed until the exact proper time as deemed by God so that when it is passed, that it is justly administered. The theme is also developed in Jewish thought (and subsequently Christian) that the delay is seen as evidence of God's mercy, giving sinful people plenty of time to repent even the most wicked. This point seems to be missed totally by the modern culture that ridicules the Jewish and Christian God of the Old Testament for being “mean”, “angry” or even “murderous”.

So what of the innocent suffering at the hands of the evil and malicious while God is patient with the evil ones? My reply to this (Andy) is this. Are innocent people really that innocent and good when we are all guilty of sin and fall short of the glory of God? Israel’s sufferings are a just result of disloyalty to the covenant with God which is part of the main crux of the theology of Daniel.

Of course the author by no means uses this to justify the problem of the suffering but it is interesting that this particular instance in Daniel combines the viable ideas of God's justice, mercy and loving discipline of his people. It is clearly found to be meaningful as a source of hope, comfort and strength to persevere during the dark times of Antiochus’ merciless persecution and that of the inevitable coming of Antichrist of which Antiochus was a prototype.

As we have already done multiple times in the book of Daniel we revisit the idea that there is assurance that God is sovereign and is ultimately in control and will do what is right at the right time.

A Shift of Tone in Chapters 9 and 10-12?

These chapters are Epiphany Visions. The Epiphany Visions are to be viewed distinctly from the Symbolic Visions of chapters 7-8. There are supplications or prayers in the latter with the only differences between 9, 10-12 being the duration of lengths. Chapter 9’s is long the others are shorter. Also, according to the Introduction, these latter portions contain no interpretation. They are presented in a detailed survey of future history presented in shorter enigmatic phrases. They are mainly concerned with the past as means of exposing sin and readiness for judgment (of Israel and Judah or anyone that has acted like they did being unfaithful to covenant with God.

Unity & Consistency of Daniel

It is agreed by most all scholars that the change in the character of the Hebrew that occurs in this prayer is the result of traditional liturgical phrases/wordage that is concurrent to the times and geography that can be expected of late exile to return from exile Jews that had been in Babylonian captivity. It is wordage or phrase that is closely parallel to Ezra 9 and Nehemiah 1:9 who would’ve been of the post exile period. If they are nearly parallel of similar it stands to reason that they were written around the same time by people under the same cultural influences and having been effected by the same types of situations.

Additionally the context doesn’t require a prayer for illumination or understanding. So Daniel’s actions are apropos for one who has received a vision that he has understood and seeks to repent or act in penitence (v.3). A prayer of penitence that is keeping in parallel with the same types found in Ezra in Nehemiah

The main argument for the unity of authorship of the chapter is that there are in fact close links between the prayer itself and its context. To begin with, it is not the case that the divine name is confined to the prayer. It is used in v. 2. Its use here cannot be explained as part of the allusion to the text of Jeremiah, and so a 'quotation' from it. It is the very feature of the entire book of Daniel that the way God is referred to is appropriate to the context.

When pagan kings are addressed, or speak of the God of the Jews, ways of referring to God are used which do not include specifically Jewish modes of speech therefore Daniel is literally documenting what happened as having been there as an eyewitness to it occurrence at the time of writing. When Daniel uses Hebraic phraseology it is unique to, and consistent with the time period and culture a Jewish exile would’ve been exposed to in a linear manner or in the course of every day life.

Every day life in the 6th century B.C. as a Jew in exile in Babylonian captivity.

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