This week, we shift from the narrative chapters of Daniel to the Apocalyptic. Chapters 7-9 are some of the foundational texts of Apocalyptic speculation about the future. But contrary to popular opinion, the Apocalyptic genre is meant to be vague. Metaphors and symbolic numbers are intentionally used not to give us a clear timeline of things, but rather to show us the broad brushstrokes of the movement of the world. At the end of the day, Apocalyptic literature is meant to give hope to those who are struggling with the reality of life in a broken world. In the end, God wins.
Sometimes we get so caught up in these crazy apocalyptic visions that we miss the forest among the trees. There is a beautiful moment in chapter 9 where Daniel prays a prayer of confession for his sin and the sin of his people. There is no minimizing, no blame shifting, no rationalization. Daniel takes responsibility for the full weight of his rebellion. But he also calls on God to act – the same God who acted once before when he saved his people from their captivity in Egypt (9:15). And Daniel is calling on the God of redemption to do it again – to step in and save. God’s answer to Daniel is another apocalyptic vision. In essence, God says that he will not only deliver them from their captivity in Babylon, but also from their captivity to life in a broken world. The day is coming when God will “finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy” (9:24) – things that point well beyond mere rescue from Babylon. In the end, God will win the cosmic battle. And he will do it through his Anointed One who will be “cut off” (9:26, pointing to the death of Jesus) and who will “come on the clouds of heaven” to establish his eternal kingdom (7:13, pointing to the Second Coming).
Dave’s Main Points
- Bizarre Visions
- Thriving Through Repentance
- When Despair Gives Way to Hope
- Do you trend towards apocalyptic obsession or apocalyptic avoidance? Spend some time discussing the tendency and dangers of each.
- Is this statement enough for you? “In the end, God wins.” Why or why not?
- Spend some time meditating on this statement: Prayer & confession has a way of re-centering the world. It reminds us who God is and who we are.
- What are the values of the Kingdom of God?
- “You’ve done it before, do it again.” Great prayer, when you pray it do you underestimate God? Discuss this statement and question and then spend some time as a group reading through God’s promises to Daniel in 9:24 (six-fold).
- Meditate on this statement this week: God answers the greatest need, not our current crisis.