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Weekly Devotionals

When Our Reality Conflicts with Our Theology

1 “At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. 2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. 4 But you, Daniel, roll up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.” 5 Then I, Daniel, looked, and there before me stood two others, one on this bank of the river and one on the opposite bank. 6 One of them said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, “How long will it be before these astonishing things are fulfilled?” 7 The man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, lifted his right hand and his left hand toward heaven, and I heard him swear by him who lives forever, saying, “It will be for a time, times and half a time. When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed.” 8 I heard, but I did not understand. So I asked, “My lord, what will the outcome of all this be?” 9 He replied, “Go your way, Daniel, because the words are rolled up and sealed until the time of the end. 10 Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand. 11 “From the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination that causes desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days. 12 Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of the 1,335 days. 13 “As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance.” – Daniel 12

In many places in the Bible, the community of faith often faces situations that are unscripted. Or, if I put it another way, they face situations that conflict with their scripted theology and faith. However, these situations, often with much suffering and injustice, are never easy to take in whether our faith has been scripted or unscripted. They do surely conflict with the ideal world that we desire in the new Heavens and New Earth and are often associated with evil that we are to stand against. With the rise of tension in Ukraine, sufferings of close friends, and personal struggles, they are indeed worthy of our lament and contemplation

With this in mind, Daniel 12 shows us a way that the community of faith responded to an experience that conflicted with their understanding of God’s goodness and justice. When the book of Daniel was being written, Israelites were faced with foreign imperial power ruling over them while they continued to believe in the Deuteronomic and Davidic covenant where they wait for God to build back their community and establish the king again. However, things just kept getting worse. To Daniel and to the latter community that received the book, more persecutions came despite their efforts to be faithful and the prevailing message of foreign dominance, oppression, and persecutions grew bigger. It is to this community then that God answered with the apocalyptic visions in Daniel, showing the end time and giving hope for the resurrection.

In this vision, the history was under God’s control, and God was working against the oppressive powers. In fact, He provided them a new way of thinking and perceiving about their reality through the lens of apocalypses or the future that God is going to bring. As a result, Daniel 12 speaks a message of continual resistance of God’s people against the reality and power that try to prove that God is no longer active in His people’s lives.

This vision from Daniel 12 then was fulfilled in Jesus’ death and resurrection as Jesus’ ministry also spoke the message of resistance to the foreign power of the time, the Roman empire. And through His resurrection, he displayed that even when the enemy uses its fiercest and greatest weapon of death, God is going to bring his future promises to His people.

So, during this challenging and lamentful season, I encourage you to embody the message of resistance from Daniel 12. When the enemy is full of assurance that it achieved our submission, Daniel 12 prompts us to stare right in the face of the enemy, and say, “I don’t think so.”

Blessings to you and may God’s shalom be with you this week 🙂