The end is nigh - or is it?
Have you ever thought you were about to reach the top of a mountain – but when you got there, you realised it was a false peak, and the summit was still a long way off? How did that make you feel?
If we thought Babylon was as bad as it gets, we have a nasty surprise coming. In apocalyptic visions God lifts the veil on his victory, and the suffering that precedes it.
The succession of ‘beasts’, which culminates in one that is ‘different from all the others’ (vs 19 & 23), tell us evil kingdoms will come and go, until one even worse than the rest will arise and oppress God’s people for ‘a time, times and half a time’ (v 25). No wonder Daniel was ‘disturbed’ (v 15) and ‘deeply troubled’ (v 28). How does this make you feel?
Now imagine on the mountain you have a guide: she warns you about false peaks, and reassures you that the summit will come eventually. Does that not make the climb more bearable? Does that not encourage you to keep going over the false peaks, knowing the summit is on its way?
God tells us what is to come, so we don’t lose hope. But he keeps the when hidden behind phrases like ‘for a period of time’ (v 12) – it is enough for us to know that he knows.
Whether you feel like you are trudging up a steep mountain with no end in sight, or skipping down a hillside – pray the Lord’s Prayer and dwell on the words, ‘your kingdom come’.