Today’s Scripture Focus: Daniel 12:5-10
This is our final Sunday in the section of scripture known as “Major Prophets”. For five years now, we have spent the weeks leading up to Christmas hearing from ancient voices that called God’s people to repentance and offered them comfort. Since Daniel was written after the fall of Jerusalem, it is filled with visions the speak to a people who are starting over. They have already suffered the consequences of prolonged disobedience, have learned to trust God again, and are now awaiting deliverance. The visions of Daniel let God’s people know the world will get worse, but they will ultimately be protected and triumphant.
Daniel 11 and 12 conclude Daniel’s final vision. An elderly man at this point, he has been fasting in hopes of success for the Jews who have finally been allowed to return and rebuild Jerusalem. A fantastic heavenly being appears to him, and tells him of things to come. The first part of Daniel 11 foretells the events surrounding the Greek Empire, which will be the next great world power on the scene, and will ultimately torment the Jews after they rebuild the Temple. Such historic figures as Alexander the Great, Cleopatra, and Ptolemy are described. Ultimately, Antiochus will set up an altar to Zeus in the Most Holy Place.
Under Antiochus, Judaism was outlawed. Pigs were slaughtered in the Most Holy Place, an abomination to Jews! Eventually the Jews, under the Maccabees, successfully rebelled against Antiochus and rededicated the Temple. This event is still celebrated by Jewish people each year during the festival of Hanukah, which is actually going on right now. At the end of chapter 11, the scene shifts to another world dictator who will be far, far worse than any seen before. The events listed here do not correspond to those of the Greeks or any empire that came afterwards. Therefore, scholars have concluded these verses speak of events yet to come.
Daniel concludes with the elderly prophet still on the banks of the river. Two more heavenly messengers have joined the first, and between them they discuss when all of these events will occur? Three time periods are mentioned—times, 1295 days, and 1335 days. Much has been made of the exact meaning of these days, and the truth is we simply can’t be sure what they mean. Jesus said in Matthew 24 that “Nobody knows when that day or hour will come, not the heavenly angels and not the Son. Only the Father knows.” And that is what is important for us today—there is a God in Heaven, and God knows. Like Daniel, our future inheritance is secure in God’s hands.
- Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
- Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
- Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.
What comes to mind when you hear the phrases “end times”, “prophetic events”, or “Last Days”? Do these phrases fill you with expectation or dread? Do you think we are close to the end times?
Is there anything in today’s scripture that especially speaks to you?
What questions would you like to ask about today’s scripture?