“Those who are wise will instruct many, though for a time they will fall by the sword or be burned or captured or plundered. When they fall, they will receive a little help, and many who are not sincere will join them. Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time. Daniel 11:33-35 (NIV).
July 1914 must have felt like this. Or April 1861, September 1939, December 1941. I know that early September of 2001 did. Surely any time can feel like impending disaster when big events happen that cause our world to spin out of control.
It’s ironic that these verses today are on our docket when they are. They foresee the original Hanukkah, the last day of which occurred just last week. My Concordia talks about how the verses foretell the time when Judah Maccabeus drove Selucid invaders out of Jerusalem; foreigners who had disrespected the Lord and defiled His temple. A miracle soon after is what is commemorated at Hanukkah.
Throughout the fighting that led to that first holiday, the men who struggled surely must have felt the fear and trepidation that comes from being part of something large whose outcome is in doubt and whose consequences seem to foretell doom. Surely those men must have felt alone, cut off from the God who had told them and their ancestors, “I am your God and you are My people. I will never leave you.”
These verses transition to the last part of the angelic prophecy in chapter 11. After this, the angel will spend the rest of the chapter talking about matters other than Selucid invasions or Maccabean revolts. Instead, he will deliver news about the antichrist: the one who will arrive at the end of time to plunder and destroy in defiance of the true and only God. Then as now, or in Daniel’s day, there will be wise people who will defy him and put their full faith and confidence in Jesus, who will lead them to eternity and peace. Along the way of that faith-walk, they will be targeted, persecuted, tortured, even killed. All of it will be to strengthen their faith and strengthen their bond with Christ. Those who hold fast to Him until the end will, by God’s hand, prevail.
But make no mistake: they will be times of dread, days of fear and mystery. 1914, 1861, 1939, 1941: they must have felt only a little bit of what it will be like at the end.
For further reading: Job 28:1, Psalm 78:38, Isaiah 48:10, Zechariah 13:9, Malachi 2:7, Matthew 7:15, Matthew 24:9, John 15:2, John 16:2, Romans 16:18, Hebrews 11:32-38, Daniel 11:36
Lord, I hold on to You today and always. Protect and fight for me in this world of dread fear.
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