Then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things? And he said, Go thy way, Daniel; for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.’ (Dan.12 :8-9)
Young Daniel was one among many who were deported to Babylon under the decree of Nebuchadnezzar. God saw to that he found favor with his peers. There were three other youths who also found favor. We read that God gave these four special gifts and ‘Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.'(Dan.1:17). We see a proof of this in his vision of two horns. (Dan.8:15-19) ‘Behold I will make thee know…for at the time appointed the end shall be.’ The vision of two horns concerns world-kingdoms and can be narrowed down to specific geographical area and historical persons. We also need to understand events that are foretold have to do with the nation of Israel. Here we have precise time frame(8:14) Persecution of Israel under Antiochus Epiphanes and cleansing of the sanctuary in Jerusalem were revealed to Daniel.
Who revealed it to Daniel?
‘One having the appearance of a man’ called out to Gabriel permitting the seer understand its import. (8:17) According to the vision what Daniel was allowed to know concerned one part of the end times.
Before we proceed to the second part of it let us determine who commanded Gabriel to explain the vision concerning the two horns. It is God who’ reveals the dark and secret things.'(Dan.2:22 KJV) The man appearing in the similitude of man was none other than God the Son. He allowed Daniel to understand the end times only to the extent of need-to-know basis, and the second part of the times remained under the authority of Jesus Christ. This book of prophesy has other passages where Gabriel is sent to make the seer known of future events. One example is of the significance of seventy weeks and of the final ‘one week’. This predicts the cutting off Messiah and the Great Tribulation leading to the everlasting righteousness.'(Dan.9:27) In the grand sweep of prophesies ‘the Jewish nation and Jerusalem’ forms only a part. This part of prophesy concerning the ‘people’ and the city straddles at one end the immediate future of his royal masters.(Dan.11:2) At the other end of it was outside the ken of Daniel since it was a mystery that rested only with God.
‘But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not even angels in heaven, neither the Son but of the father.‘(Mk.13:32). Jesus was Word made flesh and when he categorically states thus we may be certain that the last part of the end times was beyond the understanding of Daniel.
Jesus during his ministry knew that he was part of the prophesy where events leading to his death, (‘Cutting of Messiah’ mentioned in the Book of Daniel’ Mk.13:14) But his kingdom was yet to be established.(Isa 11:3-4)In the Book of Revelation he is seen seated with the Father on the throne.(Rev.22.:1, I Cor.15:24-28) ‘God may be all in all(vs.28)’ indicates the time when he ( the subject of prophesies) shall be privy to the mind of God, particularly with regards to the end times.
Going back to the key verse from what we discussed above we can understand why it was denied to Daniel. His role was played out with the first part. The second part of the end times, we may gather from the Book of Apocalypse, is open. ‘Seal not the words of prophesy of this book… ‘(Rev.22:10)
There has been many attempts interpret the end times. These ‘prophets’ or busybodies are like the angels who did not keep their first estate (Jude.vs.6) trying to wrest the key from God’s hands as it were. We may be warned that idle curiosity to interpret hidden things of God (that were even closed to Jesus) would be a sin. Sin is placing our will above that of God and we have seen recently how foolish men tried to predict the end times with disastrous consequences. False preachers pervert the faith of many and are responsible for the death of innocents. What is more such a pride of divining God’s calendar gives occasion for the world to ridicule of the faith. Thus these prophets of doom in a manner of speaking allow the redemptive work of the Lord be dragged through mud.
What standard shall anyone apply if he were to unlock the mystery concerning end times? God’s scale or our own? Of this we have a clue in the epistle of St. Peter. It is however not to be taken in a literal sense.
‘Take heed, watch and pray… for you know not when the time is’ (Mk.13:33).
In the gospel of Mark when Jesus spoke in parables he hinted how Christians should live at all times. Since the date or hour is hidden from us we need to live each day as our last. Steadfastness in our faith,- and not perfection, looking for redemption of bodies is what Christian living means. Christ Jesus gave us grace so our passage through this vale of tears, may be bearable. There may be easily besetting sins of the flesh and yet grace means not letting them be a drag so we may run steadily not having confidence in our own abilities. Grace helps keep focus on ‘whom we have believed and have confidence in the end that we kept our faith.
Our envy and pride make grace of none effect since we want our will established. Recently a preacher in no uncertain terms determined May 21, 2011 as cut- off date.’ He has now come up with a face saving ploy: set another date as Judgment day. Pastor Harold seems to have cast aside grace that was given to him for his maths. Let God deal with the likes of doomsday preachers.
St.Peter in his epistle writes thus ‘..one day is with the Lord as a thousand years..’ (2 Pe.3:8) All our maths must bite the dust in trying to predict Rapture, the Beast etc;
‘Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding, count the number of a man…'(Rev.13:18) Ever since we have been assigning those whom we judged as evil and yet have we settled who he is? Latest candidate was Saddam Hussein and some pointed to the President of Iran as the Beast. Rather than wasting our time in such trivialities would it not be better to ask for wisdom rather than our own carnal wisdom?’If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God.'(Jas.1:5)
Wisdom from above must preserve our hearts and minds alike. In case we have found a steady job are we concerned the day we are given a golden handshake or the date and occasion when we shall walk out of it for the last time? Would we not be rather concerned with keeping the job and working out a retirement plan and the best deals to put away for it?First and foremost would be our concern to look after our job, family and future. Spirit of God is given to us as a councillor and we must be clear headed as to our goal.
Truly it is a mark of wisdom to be settled in our hearts about our faith and of our need to serve those who are both within the church as well without. Wisdom makes us discern our own gifts and not pry into what is not for us to know.