FRIDAY OF THE FOURTEENTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

November 29, 2019

Daniel 7: 2-14

 

I, Daniel, saw in my vision by night the four winds of heaven stirring up the great sea, and four great beasts came up out of the sea, different from one another. The first was like a lion and had eagles’ wings. Then, as I watched, its wings were plucked off, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a human being; and a human mind was given to it. Another beast appeared, a second one, that looked like a bear. It was raised up on one side, had three tusks in its mouth among its teeth and was told, “Arise, devour many bodies!” After this, as I watched, another appeared, like a leopard. The beast had four wings of a bird on its back and four heads; and dominion was given to it. After this I saw in the visions by night a fourth beast, terrifying and dreadful and exceedingly strong. It had great iron teeth and was devouring, breaking in pieces, and stamping what was left with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that preceded it, and it had ten horns. I was considering the horns, when another horn appeared, a little one coming up among them; to make room for it, three of the earlier horns were plucked up by the roots. There were eyes like human eyes in this horn, and a mouth speaking arrogantly.

As I watched,
thrones were set in place,
    and an Ancient One took his throne,
his clothing was white as snow,
    and the hair of his head like pure wool;
his throne was fiery flames,
    and its wheels were burning fire.
A stream of fire issued
    and flowed out from his presence.
A thousand thousands served him,
    and ten thousand times ten thousand stood attending him.
The court sat in judgment,
    and the books were opened.

I watched then because of the noise of the arrogant words that the horn was speaking. And as I watched, the beast was put to death, and its body destroyed and given over to be burned with fire. As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but their lives were prolonged for a season and a time. As I watched in the night visions,

I saw one like a human being
    coming with the clouds of heaven.
And he came to the Ancient One
    and was presented before him.
To him was given dominion
    and glory and kingship,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
    should serve him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
    that shall not pass away,
and his kingship is one
    that shall never be destroyed.

 

 

Daniel 3: 75-81

 

Bless the Lord, mountains and hills;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
 Bless the Lord, all that grows in the ground;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
 Bless the Lord, you springs;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
 Bless the Lord, seas and rivers;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
 Bless the Lord, you whales and all that swim in the waters;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
 Bless the Lord, all birds of the air;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
 Bless the Lord, all wild animals and cattle;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.

 

 

Luke 21: 29-33

 

Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

 

(NRSVCE)

 

 

Meditation

 

Not listed here, but in the verse immediately following the excerpt from the book of Daniel, the prophet Daniel expresses his fear and grief over seeing this vision. The Lord revealed to Daniel in a vision the political and spiritual course that was to come. The four beasts represent political empires of Nebuchadnezzar over Babylon in the lion, the bear representing the Medo-Persian Empire, the leopard representing the Greek Empire, with the final beast too terrifying to even be described, symbolizing the Roman Empire with the ten horns paralleling the regions of the empire, and the horn speaking arrogantly likely highlighting the antichrist. While all of these empires experienced a rise and fall, the more terrifying part was the manner in which they ruled. Each of these beasts also illustrates characteristics that focus on unholy dominance of humanity. The lion consumes, the bear overpowers, the leopard strikes unexpectedly, and last beast has an overwhelming multiplicative impact. Anyone would be terrified and grieved to see in a dream the unholy course of action that man would take to dominate and enslave one another. 

 

But also revealed in the vision was God’s plan to have ultimate authority and kingship on earth. The Lord establishes His throne among the heavens and removes power and dominance from the beasts. He cuts off the horn speaking arrogantly, and cleansing rivers of fire flow from where He sits. He sends the Son of Man to earth in a striking opposition to the beast that began to resemble humanity. Symbolized in the first beast coming to look like a human, an earthly ruler thought he had the intelligence to conquer man. Yet the Son of Man takes human form to conquer sin and evil. God did not leave Daniel hanging by only showing him the terrors that would come from man’s disobedience and the outpouring of sin. He also assured Daniel of His sovereignty and plan of salvation. God’s response to man’s unholy dominance, is justice and mercy.

 

Too often for us, it is easy to get stuck in worry. It is easy to look at the messes of the world around us and get caught up in the things that are going wrong. In that state, it is natural to become afraid, and even then to doubt God’s goodness. But the Lord can not be surprised by our troubles and He wants o give us hope. This vision in today’s scripture is just as much for us now as it was for Daniel then. The Lord knows the grip that evil has on our society, and yet He is still king. Jesus has come for our salvation and He will come again to draw all humanity to Him. God is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, and as surely as the scripture assured the coming of the Messiah, so surely God’s word speaks to the final redemption of the world.

 

Today, be reassured that God sees all things, knows all things, and has a plan to bring healing and salvation to the world.  

 

 

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