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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Daniel 12:1–3

“At that time Michael, the great prince, the protector of your people, shall arise. There shall be a time of anguish, such as has never occurred since nations first came into existence. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book. Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” (NRSV)

The voice we hear in verse one of Daniel chapter 12 has been speaking since verse 20 of chapter 10. The voice is identified there as “one in human form . . . a man clothed in linen, with a belt of gold from Uphaz around his waist. His body was like beryl, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and the sound of his words like the roar of a multitude.”

The voice is a vision. And oh what a vision it is. Meant to give Daniel some understanding of what is going to happen to his people during a coming global tumult, it draws on fiery imagery of an archangel (Michael) and hyperbole (“anguish, such as has never occurred”). Hard to believe, sure. This vision is for comfort.

Daniel is Exhibit A in the case for apocalyptic, which is a literary genre that pops up a few times in the Bible. We Christians might recognize some of Daniel’s features from Revelation, the final book of the New Testament. Apocalyptic flourishes in times of persecution and paints a picture of a future controlled entirely by God and not any king or emperor. In all of its chaotic forecasting, apocalyptic is good news for people ground down by the powers of the day: “your people will be delivered.”

We read the big picture here. We don’t squint at the details. And the big picture is God accompanying the faithful through fire and fiasco to new, even everlasting, life.


God of all history, stir in us the vision you stirred in Daniel, the vision stirred up in your people everywhere facing uncertainty in this world, even destruction. Give us such visions of you victorious and present to all your people that we might find ourselves stirred to give ourselves, body, mind, and spirit, to the gospel vision of things set right, the lost found, the last made first, and the least the greatest. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Written by Rocky Supinger, Associate Pastor for Youth Ministry

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