Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Forecast Calls For Trouble

Keith Brenton is the only one who ventured a guess at what Daniel 7 is about. He says it's all about God's sovereignty, and in some sense it is. But first, the text mentions all these wild beasts with wings and horns, multiple heads and dental problems. What's up with that imagery?

I think these are images of evil. A beast with parts of another beast stuck between its teeth might be translated: evil is violent or evil feeds on evil. A beast with four wings might mean that evil travels swiftly. A beast with four heads might mean that evil is shrewd. A beast with horns might mean that evil is powerful.

So, the message I get from this part of Daniel is this: expect trouble. Evil is a real thing, and its effects are felt universally. If you live in this world, expect trouble. Don't be taken by surprise when bad things happen. Sometimes God's people get defeated and taken away in chains. Sometimes the ruling powers of this world make you choose between idolatry and death. Sometimes good people get thrown into bad places for doing the right thing.

There is a spiritual war going on, and we shouldn't expect life to be comfortable. The fact that most of the people reading this (including the guy writing it) live in unprecedented luxury is abnormal in human history. It's abnormal in contemporary society. The notion that once you come to Christ, you'll never have to face difficulties, sickness, loss of job, poverty, depression, divorce, the death of a child or persecution for your faith is absurd.

Jesus himself said, "In this world you will have trouble" (John 16:33). In fact, in the Sermon on the Mount, he says, "Don't worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own" (Matthew 6:34).

That's it? Trouble today and trouble tomorrow? Thanks a lot, Jesus.

No. That's not it. But that's part of it. And we cannot skip over it and jump to the happy ending just yet.